If You Don't Know Them You Should: Dwain DeVille

Position Title:
Author, The Biker's Guide to Business
Navigator of entrepreneurial companies

<and pro "Bad Ass">

Define your business role:
Simply put, I help successful entrepreneurs get to the next stage of business and life…whatever that is. It’s personal and unique to each.

What do you see as your responsibilities to your clients?
I am their ‘trusted advisor’. As such, I am in a position to challenge their ideas, their drive and their focus. We subscribe to a code that says “if the two of us agree all of the time, one of us is useless.”

How did “The Biker’s Guide To Business” come to be?
About a year after successful cancer surgery to remove my left kidney, I was talking with a business associate about how to combine my two passions, business and biking. She reminded me of a workshop I do for the local university that takes business leaders through my Navigation Process and she suggested I do that for those leaders who ride. I half jokingly said, “Yes! And I’ll call it The Biker's Guide to Business!

The rest is history.

Give me a timeline. How did Dwain DeVille come to be?
Born in Opelousas Louisiana in the mid 50’s and grew up as a latch key kid where both parents worked. Left home at 17 just after graduating high school and moved to New Orleans for six wonderful years…my period of enlightenment. From there I moved to a small town where I broke into banking and eventually moved to Orlando in 1986 and have been here ever since.

I left banking in 1994 to start my consulting company and began writing my book in 2007.

So being a biker, what do you ride? How many bikes have you owned?
I currently ride a Harley, Road King Custom. It’s my fourth bike, with my first being a 1973 Honda 100 when I was 16 years old.

What makes a biker different from John Q. Public?
Bikers crave the open road. We’re bold, independent, strong-willed, adventurous and intolerant of ‘fences’ of all kinds. We chart our own course because we have a better idea and go where others don’t because we not only understand risk, we embrace it.

There's word Devil in your last name; coincidence?
There’s more than a little in me as I have a dark side and embrace it regularly.

You have a book coming out correct? When is it being released?
Just came out this month, 8/09.

Talk to me about releasing a book. What was that like? Any surprises?
It’s one of the most interesting processes I’ve been a part of. This book has allowed me to speak to and ride with some of the top CEOs in America. Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.Com, John Paul DeJoria of Paul Mitchell Systems and Patron Tequila and it won’t end there. I’m looking forward to meeting and riding with more.

My biggest surprise is how dropping ‘Author’ at the end of your name changes the way people receiving you. It’s something everyone wants to do but few actually make happen.

That said, at the end of the day it’s all about people and your ability to communicate with them whether on the pages of your book, via Social Media or in person.

I know that you’re a professional speaker. Who do you admire in these circles and what makes a great speaker?

There are a ton of great speakers out there and go back into history like Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer. But of my contemporaries, I have to say James Malinchak, Brendon Burchard and Jonathan Sprinkles really know how to communicate from a stage.

I must know! Given that someone stumps you with some question you just have no idea, what do you do? Besides giving him a beat down after to keynote –naturally.
Ha ha…well, after the fists have flown I usually thank them because it gives me something new to learn.

How has what you tell CEO’s and entrepreneurs differed since to collapse of the economy?
My advice is the same as I’d have given two years ago because no matter the overall economy, most businesses are one catastrophe from struggling and going under. How you survive depends on your approach…and in times like these, you need to make sure your day to day activities, or as I like to call it, ‘the in-between’ match the path to your destination.

It’s all about laser focus and if you’re off just a little bit you’ll end up wasting precious energy and resources. We all work hard, but the greater the focus, the straighter your path to success. It’s all in my book.

What technologies are exciting you currently?
Nano technology, everything’s getting smaller and putting more and more power at our finger tips.

<Yes, I read “Prey” on audio book – spooky.>

What trends are you keeping an eye on for your clientele? And Why?
Without a doubt, Social Media and the way it’s changing the whole buyer/seller conversation. It’s bringing us back to the small town principals of who you know and what your reputation is among them.

Have you ever been in a rumble, knife fight or ‘shived’ a punk-ass?

<Too bad, I say!>

What is the number one problem/challenge you see with your clients that they are trying to overcome? Why do you think this is?
Holding onto the past. Thanks to the economic times, the landscape is changing rapidly and in some cases, the fundamental way they are doing business needs to change in order to respond to the market.

Unfortunately, over time we become creatures of habit and our muscle memory makes it difficult to change. We all need to stop, go quiet and take stock of where we are and what’s it going to take from this point forward. It’s like the early explorers who when topping a mountain went from lush greenery to a desert environment. You have to shift.

Is business ‘broken’ right now? If so what advice do you give freely?
Business is by no means broken, instead it’s evolving. And by its very nature, in order for something to evolve, parts of it must die in order for there to be new growth. So my advice is to clear your head enough to ensure you recognize which are dying and in which direction you need to grow.

You talk about the new CEO and entrepreneur. How can the aging CEO get back in the game?
That’s the great thing about this game of business as opposed to other more physical games. The older we get the better we become through experience.

Therefore the key for the aging CEO is to find ways to continuously re-kindle their passion. Find those new challenges that stoke your fires and then go for it.

What are the potholes for the CEO?

There are many. I’ll just cover three:
Losing sight of the original goal
– often CEOs forget why they began their companies in the first place – to fulfill their dreams and build a great life. Unfortunately over time the business can take over and they begin working for it instead of it working for them.

Their team doesn’t/can’t keep pace – the most difficult thing for a CEO is to recognize when a key team member is no longer pulling his/her weight in the organization. Indeed there needs to be loyalty both ways, but at the end of the day, decisions need to be made for the good of the company.

Not taking enough time off – I fully believe that if the leader of the organization doesn’t take a minimum of 30 days off a year he is hurting the company. As leader, you must take time away in order to clear your head and get a better view of what’s going on. Nothing is worse than running headlong into a ditch that could have been avoided with a different perspective.

I read in Fortune that more than 60% of millionaire CEO’s and entrepreneurs got there in less than four years. Why do you think that is?
I think it was a product of the go-go times and you’ll probably see that time frame grow as the new normal for the economy takes hold. There’s less money around so the pace of success will stretch a bit as a result.

Create in your mind what the future renaissance; what do they need to be?
I think that those successful in the future will value incremental growth over the big hit. Drucker once wrote that ‘size doesn’t equal significance’

What are you most proud of in your career?
Probably the impact I’ve had on my clients and other businessmen and women whom I’ve mentored. A successful career is about waking up every day and doing it right. To try, stumble and try again until you get where you’re going.

If I wasn't here, I'd be doing?
Riding across country…most any country will do.

Create a new superpower for yourself.
The ability to seamlessly go through solid objects so I’d not have to worry about crazy cagers pulling out in front of me while riding.

Bio and Social Media Links you wish people to connect to at:
Follow me on Twitter - BusinessBiker

Dwain DeVille combined his two passions -- business and motorcycles -- into The Biker’s Guide to Business.
Biker’s Guide to Business is both a book and a series of principles that Dwain uses to guide business leaders through difficult times and onto success. In seminars and during his Retreat on Wheels course, business leaders achieve the type of breakthrough thinking that comes while riding through dazzling countryside.

DeVille is the founder and CEO of WaterMark International, Inc., a Florida based consulting firm that serves business leaders. He helps entrepreneurs and business leaders achieve top performance in both business and life.

DeVille spent 15 years in the banking industry, working his way up from the loan department to branch manager to turn around management, before leaving to form his own consulting business.

Born and raised in Opelousas, Louisiana, DeVille got his first start at business working in his father’s cotton gin. He later worked as a hand in the Louisiana oil fields before moving into the “front office” of the business world.

DeVille has been riding motorcycles since he was in high school. He currently rides a Harley Davidson Road King, is a H.O.G. member, and most recently rode to New Orleans for their first annual Bike Week.

DeVille is a cancer survivor, having successfully battle kidney cancer. He has been cancer-free since 2004.

DeVille is 53 and lives in Orlando, Florida. He has a grown son.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Posted on August 20, 2009 and filed under Business, Interview, Management.