Ep461: Marcel Daane – Don’t Get Overconfident in Your Expertise

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Quick take

BIO: Marcel Daane is an award-winning executive coach and author living in Singapore.

STORY: Marcel built a great gym, but because he thought he was the expert in the field, he became a horrible boss. He wanted to run the show to the point where he burnt himself out. Eventually, he had to leave the business that had taken him 10 years and $500,000 to build.

LEARNING: Don’t start believing your own hype to a point where you ignore other people’s insights and opinions. Just because you have strong skills in an area that doesn’t mean you’ll make a great entrepreneur.


“When we become over-reliant on what we think, we know we get stuck in our heads.”

Marcel Daane


Guest profile

Marcel Daane is an award-winning executive coach and author living in Singapore.

Worst investment ever

Marcel had a desire to start his own gym, and it took him about 10 years or so of saving. With the help of his wife, he managed to save a quarter of a million dollars. But Marcel needed about half a million, so he went out and sought some partners and managed to raise the half-million. Marcel then built one of the most awesome gyms in Singapore that you could imagine.

He built a speed institute with the intent to give everybody an opportunity, including children, to feel like they were athletes. The gym had sprinting lanes and all that kind of stuff in there. But there were no treadmills.

When they opened their doors and invited people to see the gym, they all asked where the treadmills were. It was right there and then that Marcel knew there was a problem. The problem was that he had built a gym that was for him, and it took so much energy to get people to buy into it.

But where the investment went wrong was actually with Marcel. As a personal trainer, he was extremely passionate about how he did his work. He considered himself an expert in the field, so he treated his partners and staff like they were working for him and it was his way or the highway. Marcel became a horrible boss.

With this kind of attitude, it didn’t take Marcel long to burn out. He finally concluded that he couldn’t sustain this way of operating. So he spoke to his partners, and they came to a settlement, and Marcel left the company. He had basically bailed on his own company. Interestingly, the company started doing better after he left.

Lessons learned

  • If you’re an expert in your field and want to start a business in that field, first check yourself. Make sure that you don’t start believing your own hype because other people around you may be less knowledgeable than you but might have some phenomenal insights that can help your business.
  • Don’t get so determined that you put blinders on and stop opening yourself up to perspectives, ideas, and thoughts from other people.
  • If you think you’re the expert, get other people to put you in check because you’re going to need them.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Give your customers what they want.
  • Don’t get overconfident in your expertise. Just because you have strong skills in an area that doesn’t mean you’ll make a great entrepreneur.

Actionable advice

Stop believing that what you think you know is the only option. There are millions of different ways of operating and doing things, and there are ideas out there that you just lock yourself off to by believing in your own hype.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Marcel’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to make sure that his new book The Five Energies of Horrible Bosses and How Not to Become One ends up in bookstores all around the world and in people’s hands. He hopes the book will create a conversation around how we can lead our businesses differently and look at leadership and how we run our businesses from a more human perspective, rather than just being data-driven.


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning in our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risks but to win big, you've got to reduce it, go to my worst investment ever.com and join our Facebook group to connect with our community of guests and fellow listeners. Fellow risk takers This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests. Marcel, Donna, Marcel, are you ready to rock?


Andrew Stotz 00:39
You know, I totally agree with that, because we had a great conversation before today's conversation, and I just loved your energy and our lines have some things in common there and in common in the past that we've taken so I'm excited to introduce you to the audience and get to know and let them get to know you. So let me just tell them just briefly that Marcel is an award winning executive coach and author living in Singapore. So take a moment further tidbits about your life.

Marcel Daane 01:15
Yeah, awesome. And thanks so much for having me on the show by the way that was so generous of you and I'm excited to kind of get to share you know what I'm doing and parts of myself and also where where you know, things didn't go so well in my career and hopefully your audience can get something out of that as well. So yeah, I mean, I've been in Singapore for almost 30 years now so so I know we were talking earlier we've both been in Asia for you know for a very long time and and I've worn many hats over over these past 30 years but over the past 11 years I've been I've been functioning as an executive leadership coach while on the side I'm also an author so I love to write over over creative edge that I always like to like to scratch and of course my my you know, my new book which is which is actually all around energy and about how we can use our energy for greater success in life and I just, I've just learned over you know, kind of my span of my life that whenever I am disconnected to my own energy and disconnected with myself and the way I have a tendency to make the worst decisions and and and i've you know, over my past 11 years working with a lot of leaders I see a lot of similarity in this space. And so you know, and especially because of COVID when we were you know, working with a lot of you know, executives and everybody's in this virtual world, it's very different difficult to to stay connected not only to our own energy but also to each other and and I felt compelled to to write another another story write another book about actually kind of how we can connect with ourselves in terms of better decision making, accessing our intuition accessing a greater wisdom but also how we can connect with other people in this virtual world that is really you know, I think gonna be a new world moving forward is that I think it is it's just a reality that we have to learn to adjust to. And and so and in a strange way and for us to be able to operate in this new world, and we're accessing things like technology and all of these kind of New Age ways of connecting there are actually some ancient technologies that we can use that come from you know, the oldest texts the Sanskrit texts of you know mankind that are over 5000 years that we that we need to apply in order for us to be able to get the most out of these new technologies which is right interesting so I felt like hey, that's that's a good thing and so so so you know, kind of that's the space that I work in as an executive coach is really kind of helping people access that that ancient wisdom that's within them, while they're actually in this modern world and operating in this new way.

Andrew Stotz 03:51
Well, we were like you say we wear many hats. This one I had for the listeners out there I'm wearing my Sergeant hat which I use in my valuation masterclass boot camp where we kick ass, awesome, got it, got to learn how to value companies, takes a little discipline. But that just made me laugh when I heard that. But I want to ask you a question about this. Because I think there's a lot of it's, it's hard to understand, you know, that. We hear words like emotion, we hear words like intuition, and we hear words like energy. And, you know, in some ways, they feel like maybe the same some ways he feels like they're different. How do you view these different things that feelings? intuition and energy?

Marcel Daane 04:38
Yeah, you know, and I get that question a lot from people and I think one of the, one of the challenges is is, if you look at the human brain, the human brain is is is you know, on top of our shoulders, and it's in an exoskeleton, right, it's in our skull. And, and that and that exoskeleton in a way, of course, protects the brain because that's why it's there to be able to function but in a way that that that protective nature also prevents the brain from receiving certain signals and things like that that's out there that's that is not necessarily perceptible percentual to the you know the regular kind of our regular mind and the regular scope of functioning and you know and and the human brain when we look at from a learning perspective really loves to do a couple of things right it's it's it loves to you know learn through knowledge through acquisition of knowledge and through the acquisition of experience and and when those when when we're when we grow up we have a tendency to rely heavily on those two things right as as kind of our only scope of way of learning but and and but when we look at the human being as a whole not just a you know, something that sits on top of our shoulders if we look at the human body which is made of soft tissue over a skeleton, that that soft tissue and muscles and the amount of water that's in our bodies and the cells in our DNA that functions like an antenna and and we receive a lot of information from the environments and that that for example can be energy you know, think about sunlight you know, walk outside and feel that sunlight beating down on your skin, that's a form of energy for example, but we also feel energy from each other. You know, I always use the example of an energy vampire versus an energy donor You know, when you step into the room and you're in a room with an energy vampire, you feel it right and and the reason for that is because our bodies function as antennae and and we receive that information and that information is then relayed to the brain. And, one of the unfortunate things of, you know, kind of how we grow up in the Western world and we learn to function as we can have as a very early age, we learn to disregard a lot of that inflammation and at the end of the day, that inflammation is our intuition. It's what we're sensing from our environments and as young children we're really good at it. But But as we go to school and we grow up and all of that, we start removing that from our consciousness, we start over you're really relying on this on this kind of that knowing space and and so for me, what I like to do is I like to divide it into three things and I really believe that we function as human beings when we do three things simultaneously, which is think feel and sense when we can do those three things simultaneously with the same level of consciousness that's that's when we make the best decisions and it's when we when we disregard at least one or maybe even two of them when we really try to kind of say hey, you know, I'm only going to live in the thinking space for example I'm going to keep everything super rational and I'm going to be very data driven and I'm going to be you know, and I'm going to take the human element out of it there very often that affects the quality of our decision making in many ways and and then there are you know, those people who who are able to really kind of blend all three of them and they come up often with innovations and creations that not only help themselves from you know, from a business perspective, but also helps you know, society and happen. You know, think of think of, you know, the big the big names like you know, the Elon Musk's and the Richard Branson's and these tend to be people who are very connected with that sensing and feeling space while they're also connected to that thinking space right and that they were able to able to apply all three of those that's why i think that's that's such an important thing and it is something that we disregard often especially in leadership especially in business that tends to be a disregard for those things because they're difficult to measure

Andrew Stotz 08:40
that's interesting and I never really thought about how how much our bodies are designed the body aspect not the head aspect of ourselves is really is a sensing machine and we have contact with people we have physical contact we have close contact we have so much that we pick up and that's fascinating what's what's the name of your book I believe it's going to be out right now we as we publish this is

Marcel Daane 09:07
no is it so exciting so so the the title of the book is appropriately called Five energies of Horrible Bosses and how not to become one

Andrew Stotz 09:18
beautiful Yeah, yeah, yeah. Their stories today. Yeah, fantastic. And for the listeners that want to follow you or find the book, what's the best way to contact you or to get access

Marcel Daane 09:32
through my website really, which is just my name. So it's, it's marked as marsel down calm. And that's the easiest way to get hold of me for sure.

Andrew Stotz 09:42
Great, and we'll have a link to that in the show notes. So now it's time to share your worst investment ever since no one goes into their worst investment thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to then tell us your story.

Marcel Daane 09:56
Fantastic. You know, it's it's what's Well I don't get that and I share this in my book as well but my worst investment I would say is is in a way also my best learning lesson and when I was when I was when I spent my I started my career in the military and after leaving the military there wasn't a lot of that I could do with my skill set you know because you know how many jobs out there really have a skill set to you know be able to you know, kill people I kill other people so, so I had to figure out what to do and there was something that I was really passionate about which was fitness and so so I ended up becoming a fitness trainer and and in that in that in that journey of fitness I really liked helping people you know get better in their fitness and take better care of themselves and all of that and that sparked for me kind of my career and and I went back to school and did a degree in complementary medicine where I was introduced to many great assets of healing including physical exercise and that's where a lot of my foundation you know comes from but as I was working as a as a as a personal trainer, I developed this desire to start my own gym to start my own business and it was it was the fitness industry that actually got me to Singapore so so I you know that was in the in the early 1990s which was the boom of the fitness industry as these big box gyms were starting to pop up and and I got a job with California fitness center which was one of the largest kind of big chain gyms back in the day and and that that really triggered like oh my god you know I want this right you know I want I want to be able to do this and I want to be able to you know kind of have my own business and so it took me about 10 years or so of saving like I saved every penny that I worked for and you know and I managed I managed to save quite a quite a decent amount I managed to save about for me as a personal things you know personal trainers don't make a lot of money right so so for me as a personal trainer I was I managed to save in and around a quarter of a million dollars and I have to say that's with me and my wife so my wife together she trusted in me and you know there was a large part of her life savings too you know that that went in there and we're like we're going to we're going to build something awesome for ourselves and and I needed about half a million so so I went out and I and I sought some partners some people on these were mostly people that I knew that were either you know, former clients or things like that and I managed to raise the half million and and I built one of the most awesome gyms in Singapore that you could imagine and this was in 2007 and the gym was called speed Institute's and interestingly enough it still exists. But I built I built speed Institute with an intent to make give everybody an opportunity to inch including children to feel like they were athletes, you didn't have to be one but if you can feel like you're being an athlete, that was cool. And so I developed this Athletic Training Center and it nowadays of course you know, their brands like CrossFit and things like that and so so if somebody you know now now would walk into that gym that would probably say oh it looks like a CrossFit gym, except that it had sprinting lanes and all of that kind of stuff in there. The funny thing was that there was not a treadmill in there. Right and so and I remember spending all this money and my partners were excited and I was excited. And and we opened our doors and you know and of course we invited people to come in and look at this gym and and everybody went where the treadmills and and it was it was right then and there that I knew that I had a problem and and and the big the big problem was of course is that I built a gym that was for me and I love that Jim I loved working out in my in my you know half a million dollar man cave and and you know and it took so much energy to you know to kind of get people to buy into it and and I have to say thank you thanks to the to the support of the partners who started thinking a little bit more out of the box with regards to like you know, approaching schools and getting kids in there like you know that so that we came up with like development programs for kids and all of that and so over time, you know, people started to buy in a little bit to that to that concept. But where where the investment went horribly wrong was actually with me and and as a as a personal trainer I was extremely passionate about about how I was doing my work and I considered myself an expert in my field that was also an international fitness presenter so when I wasn't in the gym I was traveling around around the world that was you know, being invited to speak at conferences and I was you know teaching other fitness professionals how they you know need to be a better fitness professional and I really loved that status I got a little bit addicted to it to be honest. And and so when I was when I was in my in my own business, I started to treat my partners and my staff as as like they were working for me And, and it was it was my way or the highway because I was the expert, I was the one who operationally knew what I was doing. And I became very inflexible to, you know, suggestions from other people. And I really felt like I had, you know, it was it was, I knew what I was doing. And that's, that's what was going to help this business, you know, grow. And, and I'm not not very proud of saying this, but you know, I didn't behave my best, you know, and I became a horrible boss myself. And that's actually something that triggered you know, for me the book is, is I, I, you know, I literally I was the worst case scenario of a boss and I bless bless, you know, the people that tried to stick with me, but it was, yeah, that was not not a very good picture. But the, what ended up happening, of course, was that, oh, and of course, then the crash happened in 2008, there was a financial crash, a lot of expats ended up leaving from Singapore, so we ended up losing a good chunk of our clients, and this was in the startup period, as well. So our revenue started to drop to a point where, you know, we could barely pay for our staff members. And, and, and I and the partners had to work for free, pretty much to, you know, to be able to pay for all of this. And of course, you know, there was no way that I was going to treat them any better, I just treated the worst, because there's more more at stake, the more and, yeah, and, and that pressure kind of got to me and I ended up I ended up burning out. And then and then came to kind of this conclusion that you know, I can't sustain this, this, this kind of this way of operating and I need I need out and so I spoke to my partners. And I think that were and so they, you know, we came to a settlement and I and I left the company, and it was only a few it was in 2009. And so I basically build on my own company. And here's here's the scary thing is after I left the company actually did better and and still exists. And you know and so so at the same time, that was also a very humbling lesson for me because, you know, as after I left on the company started doing better, I thought I was bailing a sinking ship. And,

Andrew Stotz 17:14
you know, you were sinking.

Marcel Daane 17:16
I was sinking the ship. Yeah. And, and so that was that's actually what triggered me into began being fascinated about leadership. And, and so I ended up going back to school, I did I did a master's degree worth while I was licking my wounds, I did a I did a master's degree in neuroscience and leadership, and, and through that really analyze what I did wrong and what I you know, what I could have done better in that period of time. And that was that was, you know, a kind of a, you know, a great healing process for me as I was learning, you know, all of these things that I was that I could have done better in that process. But yeah, that was that was, that was what I call a $250,000 MBA, you know, and that was a she

Andrew Stotz 18:06
learned from it?

Marcel Daane 18:07
I did, yeah,

Andrew Stotz 18:09
let me ask you. Yeah, you know, emotionally, I want you to tell me about the day, the worst day of this whole experience, you know, when was that moment that you broke down, or that your relationship was put to the push to the brink or it just one day, tell us about that day,

Marcel Daane 18:30
that was actually that was a day and it had nothing to do with the work it had to do with my daughter. My and I think these things often work this way as I was working 16 hour days, I was you know, giving everything to the business and all of that kind of stuff. And my daughter she was you know, at that time she was eight and she needed dental work done. And it was when we went to the doctor and you know the dentist and you know it because your teeth were a little crooked and all of that kind of stuff. And because she was still growing there was like this procedure for it. And that would cost $5,000 and, and I and my daughter wanted it and I and I had to tell her that I couldn't afford it because we didn't have the money. And I don't know if you've ever had to sit in front of your kid and tell them that you can't afford to do something that's going to be improved their well being but that was like that was that moment that hit me like a sledge hammer, like where am I like what am I doing? You know, and it's like, Is it worth it? And yeah, and that was that was that was one of the toughest things and that's when I knew that's when I knew something something had to change.

Andrew Stotz 19:43
This podcast is real. We go down to the raw, painful parts and I like to I always like to try to find that day that moment. And I know for the listeners out there, there's plenty of people that are struggling with an idea that they're trying to implement and it's not working and Sometimes they're pushing everybody around them to the limit, trying to make it work. And remember, an important lesson is that not everybody can bear the stress that you may be able to bear. And so I think this is a lots of good lessons. So let's review what you learn from this experience. Tell us what you learn.

Marcel Daane 20:21
There, there are a couple of things I learned. And these are the things that I bring with me today, today in the coaching is number one is if you if you're an expert in your field, or you consider yourself an expert in your field, and you want to start a business in that field, is to do a check on yourself, is to make sure that you don't start believing your own Bs, because because other people around you who are much, much less knowledgeable than you are about your field might have some phenomenal insights, that that can actually really help a business so so as much of an expert as you think of you as you are, don't just trust that Learn, learn to kind of be a little bit humble in that sense and say, you know, what, what do you have to offer? What am I not looking at, because because we get blinded, and I think that's one of the challenges with startups, right? with, you know, we're so passionate about what we're doing, and we think that everybody around us has to be equally passionate. And, and that's not true. You know, they have their own lives, they have, you know, their own, you know, challenges that they can deal with, and, and if we can separate that, that you know, that passion driven, lack of empathy, right, because that's what sometimes passion can do that it can, it can make us so determined. And that's one of the energies that I talked about is determined energy, we can get so determined that we put these blinders on. And that we stop opening ourselves up to perspectives and ideas and thoughts from from other people is, you know, and especially if you think you're the expert, get other people to put you in check, because you're gonna need them.

Andrew Stotz 21:57
Yep. Great. So here's let me summarize a few things I take away, I wrote down one thing I wrote down, besides drawing the picture of a body as an antenna, which I also did, which I think is a great, great, great visualization. The other thing I wrote down is give the people what they want. And in business, I'm quite similar, you know, I've created some amazing tools to solve problems that I face. And I just think the world just will, they'll be the path to my doorway to buy this. And, you know, there's a lot more there, it could be that I'm solving a problem that very few people have, it could be that I'm solving a problem that's not worth that much money to solve for people. It just, you know, there's lots of different things about that. But it's a lot easier to just, you know, give the people what they want. And that's hard to when you're when you have your vision of this is the way I see it, right? So if you want to do it, by creating your own pathway, just remember that that just triple quadruple the amount of money that you think you need, because you're gonna have to educate, and you're going to start small, and you're going to build a movement. That is not easy. Second thing that it made me think about, I wrote down, you know, let's just take somebody who's listening right now, they're an expert in their field, they're skilled, they're highly skilled, they're good at their job. And they think to themselves, hey, you know, in my case, let's say I work for an investment bank, and I was ranked as a number one analyst, I felt like, I know this stuff, therefore, now we would never say, therefore, I would be good. As a factory manager as an example. Well, wait a minute, I was an analyst, I was just what? How is there any crossover in that skill? Or I would be good as a marketing executive, wait a minute, what's the crossover there? Or I wouldn't be good as a salesperson, wait a minute, what's the crossover, I have these skills. And what happens is that we have these skills we get excited about, we get confident with new skills, and then we think I'm going to start my own business in this area. And we forget the fact that running a business in the skills of an entrepreneur is composed neatly different than the skills you need to do that job. In fact, there's many great managers that have are entrepreneurs that have built businesses, and they're not really that good at doing the underlying job. You know, Jeff Bezos, the best guy and, you know, coding on Amazon, no. But it's building that overall vision. So I just want to remind everybody out there from your story that you know, don't get overconfident. Just because you have strong skills in an area that that's going to give you the skills you need to be an entrepreneur, very different. So that's not an easy thing to tell people because everybody wants to believe that they can do it. But that's my big takeaway. I think, from what I learned from you, anything you would add to that some?

Marcel Daane 24:47
Yeah, absolutely. The other thing is, is I think when we become over reliant on what we think we know, right, that's when we get stuck in our heads. And that's and that's where we stopped turning that into a whole kind of whole person Mind Body typing expansion, we stopped using that antenna. You know, and and i think in my experience, if I had that skill back then if I had that, that and if that antenna was working, that experience would have been very different. Yeah, right, you know, because I would have, I would have been able to sense things and feel things that I was I was just completely blocking out. And the signals were there all along, you know, and there were things that people were telling me and, you know, and sending me and looks that I was getting, and, you know, and all of those kinds of things that I could have picked up on, if I hadn't, you know, just had those blinders on and thinking that my way was the highway, you know, and, yeah, so get out of your head and get more into your body. You know, when you're when you're working on these concepts and things that say, what does that feel like? What am I sensing here? You know, I think that can make a big difference.

Andrew Stotz 25:49
So based upon what you learn from this story, this experience what and what you continue to learn, what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate?

Marcel Daane 26:00
It's, it's definitely it's, you know, stop, stop believing that what we think we know, is the only option. And the only way that was that was my kind of big lesson because I thought I had all the answers. And there are, you know, millions of different ways of being able to operate and do things and there are ideas out there that we just lock ourselves off to so you know, and it doesn't matter what it is, we can whether it you know, whether it's in our parenting, whether it's in the how we raise our animals, whether it's anything, if the moment, we believe that we know what we're doing, we're actually setting ourselves up for failure.

Andrew Stotz 26:39
As the Buddha said, there are many paths to enlightenment, try every path. exact question, what is your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Marcel Daane 26:51
My number one goal is, is to make sure that, you know, the five energies of Horrible Bosses and how not to become one, that book ends up in bookstores all around the world and in the hands of people to a point where it actually creates a conversation around, you know, how can we lead our businesses differently? And how can we you know, maybe maybe look at leadership and how we run our businesses from a more human perspective, rather than just being data driven. And let's let's switch on these antennas. And and see, you know, what, what else we can create without people by opening up these perspectives. And if I can, if I can do that, in the next year is read some great perspective around that and make a little bit of change. That would be a big win for me.

Andrew Stotz 27:37
Fantastic. That sounds horribly Awesome.

Marcel Daane 27:43
Well, that's all big dreams.

Andrew Stotz 27:45
Exactly. That sounds fantastic. Well, listeners, there you have it another story of laws to keep you winning. Remember to go to my worst investment ever.com and join our Facebook group to connect with our community of guests and fellow listeners. As we conclude, Marcel, I want to thank you again, for coming on the show and on behalf Yeah, on behalf of East Arts Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Marcel Daane 28:17
No, not really. Just Just please, you know, pick up the book, have a read, there's gonna be something in there, especially with regard to intuitive decision making that that can possibly help you if you are thinking about your next investment, your next next business venture, whatever it is that you're getting into, and see whether or not you can tap into that just a little bit more.

Andrew Stotz 28:40
Great advice, ladies and gentlemen. Don't be a horrible boss. Get the book and make sure you got the right energy. That's a wrap on another great story to help us great grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast hosts Andrew Stotz saying I'll see you on the upside.


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Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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