“It’s incumbent upon all of us to teach what we love and live from our truth and that is how we bring peace to the world.” -Duff Gardner


The easiest thing to do is to judge others without facts. Yet, it often leads to chaos and misunderstandings. Today, our guest, Duff Gardner talks about diversity and prejudice. To be different is a gift that we often overlook. And his story motivates us to be open-minded and let go of biases. It will help us to maintain peace with others and most importantly, with ourselves. By treating others with dignity, we also teach ourselves how to navigate through our own adversities.  In fact, labeling tells so much about us and not about the person being judged. Duff also shares about his endeavors in advocating gender equality as well as animal rights. We are all living beings in this world. Our mission as fellow citizens should be to promote peace and that starts within us by eradicating traces of prejudice. So what do you say? Tune in and get your impact started. 


Listen to the podcast here:


01:08 A Rollercoaster Life
06:49 Navigating Challenges In Life
11:24 Open-Minded And Not Judgmental
19:40 Biases In Life
23:33 Modern Family
24:20 Labeling People
29:16 Diversity And Inclusion
31:35 Startup World
36:46 Love For Animals
40:51 Teach What You Love


Live from your truth- it’s the only way you can navigate through challenges and win. Join @myexpectation and @OFFMYDUFF as they talk about creating an impact that lasts. #diversity #inclusion #judgemental #labeling #biases #startup… Share on X



12:18 “You’ve got to be open to other people’s ideas and other people’s lives without being judgmental, and making rude comments about it.” -Art Costello

15:23 “My lifestyle is like anyone else, I just live my life.” – Duff Gardner

17:17 “Just live your life and let people see you as you are.”  – Duff Gardner

28:09 “The more people you interact with, you learn that there were so many similarities to us.” -Art Costello 

39:10 “When we raise things in love, they give love back in. When we raise things in hate…it gets it back too.” – Art Costello 

41:24 “It’s incumbent upon all of us to teach what we love and live from our truth and that is how we bring peace to the world.” – Duff Gardner


Meet Duff:

Duff Gardner is an Award-Winning 7-figure Marketer, Startup Founder, and Silicon Valley Educated Digital Executive. He is also an author and the host of Off My Duff Podcast. Duff is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon – Silicon Valley with an MSc. in Learning Sciences and Information Technology. He brings startup thinking into the transformation world in order to build social impact platforms that touch, move, and delight. His goal is to help impact-driven entrepreneurs create offers that sell. In his free time, he is a passionate advocate for his 2 adult kids, pitbull rescue and adoption, and LGBTQ rights.



Art Costello: Welcome to the Shower Epiphanies Podcast, today, Duff Gardner is my guest from British Columbia. I’ve known Duff, I guess probably a little over a year, I met him at the New Media Summit in Austin, and he’s just an incredible human being, I love him. He has so much to offer, and today we’re going to hear his journey and story. And with that being said, Duff, take us away.

Duff Gardner: Hey Art, I’m super honored to be on your show. I’ve been looking forward to it. Today, it’s a beautiful sunny day here in Victoria, but cool by your standards. It’s in the mid forties, but not a cloud in the sky. And that’s the way I feel about your podcast. So thanks for having me on the show.

Art Costello: I’m honored to have you, always.

Duff Gardner: Thank you. You had been asking me a little bit about, I guess, my story and what is going on in my world. Is that something that I could talk to your audience about? Is that all right?

Art Costello: Oh, absolutely.

Duff Gardner: Okay. Well, yeah, we were talking offline and I think that for me, like I was a really shy kid, very shy, and the way I think about that now as an adult, I was reasonable. I’ve recently decided I needed to be more unreasonable in my life, but you know what happened to me, I think in my 20’s, it was during the .com time and I was noticing all of my friends. I was married and we were just, Maureen and I were just starting a family. We’d moved up to a little town in British Columbia called Nelson BC, which is a real cultural hub in the middle of the mountains. Everybody was, it was a beautiful place to start raising a family, and I was feeling away from all the excitement that was happening in the big cities, this was in the 90’s, and I had this idea that I wanted to get involved in .com. So I stepped out of my comfort zone and I started, I created a startup, and wouldn’t you know what I did at the back end of .com it was .bomb. So I actually, my most successful startup actually happened during .bomb, and that’s where we had our success. So it was a great learning experience where I had to step into being completely out of my comfort zone creating a startup. So it went from an idea, I was called Carewave, and changed over a couple of years. But by the time we hit our peak, we were the very first Alliance partner for black period, which was a big mobile company of the day. And we were touring around with them as their, one of their first Alliance partners, just a small little company out of Vancouver. We had three stories in a cool area, post and beam office in Vancouver. We’re winning financing forums. We were doing all these fun things. It was a great experience, but for someone who’s like me, very shy, very kind of reasonable, it was completely stepping out of my comfort zone in the middle of that, like a lot of companies like this, it came apart and I was actually really good at navigating that misstep, and I had a bunch of missteps after that.

But what happened around the same time is in fact, the marriage to Maureen ended at that point and we’d forged what I’m incredibly proud of today, which is a co-parenting relationship, which was injured over 20 years. So it was really good, I became really good at navigating another missteps that happen in life or the things that happen in life, their obstacles, and I decided I would take a job. I decided to be reasonable. I decided to listen to everyone around me to be reasonable and to take a more safe job. And it was a cool job, it was heading up the News Media Association in DC. I was a VP, I was running a big multimillion dollar innovation project before the Vancouver Winter Olympics, meeting a lot of great people. And what happened was that I was working in an environment where one of the key, the chairman, I guess you could call him, would consistently make these comments about gay folks in the cultural industry, and what he didn’t know and what people at my workplace didn’t know is that what had happened to me is that Maureen and I had had a conversation about not just separating our marriage but me coming out and being a gay man. So although in my personal life, everything was going great. We had told the children, everybody was there, friends, family, everybody was on board.

A few years later after that happened, I was suddenly in an environment where it wasn’t safe to be myself and I didn’t even understand it deeply at the time that that was something that could be impactful to me. But years later as people start talking more about diversity and inclusion, I started to realize that this had impacted me quite a lot because what happened is that I ended up having a series of panic attacks. And panic attacks or weird things they just happen out of the blue. It’s not that you’re scared or nervous, it’s just like, it’s literally like having a heart attack. You don’t really know where it comes from. It comes from a deep, I guess a deep emotional place, and I probably still need to learn more about that stuff. But in business what that did is it created a bit of a roller coaster, up and down for a decade, just trying to learn how to deal with that thing. So I think what I’ve learned more recently is this idea that I call standing in your value, and it’s something that I try to live, and it’s something that I try to extend to my clients is just understanding what you’re all about. And that shy little kid that I used to be, what I tried to do is I tried to access the unreasonableness in me, and I tried to bring that into everything that I do, going forward. So I don’t know, I have kind of a different story. I don’t know what part to pull out of it, that’s the most interesting.

Art Costello: Well, I think what’s interesting is that through a whole series of events you’ve been able to navigate, and I’d like to hear how you navigated through a business failure, I guess you could call her a business stuff demise to a personal marriage demise, and then the journey of coming out. And you talk about being shy, but you’ve overcome all of those because there are people out there who fold over any one of those, no less three in those events in their life, and that is something to really be proud of Duff. I mean, that is one of the reasons why I am so proud of you because you have an inner strength that most people don’t have. And it really is a beautiful thing. I mean, it’s something that most men will not admit to, will not acknowledge and you’ve done it. And I’d like to hear what your thoughts are on how you did it. I mean, I don’t want/need you to get too deep into it, but I mean, I know that you know how you overcame things.

Duff Gardner: Thanks for asking. I think that it’s interesting because in a very short point of period of time, I had to navigate, as you say, transitioning from a marriage to a co-parenting relationship in the context. And I also had to navigate my first startup again as someone who was shy, who stepped into as incredibly proud of that. I mean, I remember winning the financing forum in Toronto standing in front of 300 venture capitalists, and soon after that the company was not there, but I navigated that really well as well. So I think what I was proud of is that I seem to have built this ability to navigate some of those challenges in life. And if you can trust that with just being in that one place where I was trying to be reasonable, trying to be, by the way, I also invested in, what was it company called? It was a company in Toronto. Anyway, long story, but I was being reasonable then too but it didn’t work. But when I was in that position where, for example, they’re in the cultural industries, of course there’s a lot of gay folks. So the disparaging backhanded comments for some reason on that kind of an event created panic attacks. So if you contrast like marriage ending, coming out, losing your startup and just being able to navigate it against something that feels an Oculus, like not feeling safe in your workplace because people are talking disparagingly about gay folks and getting panic attacks from that. It’s really an interesting contrast, so I think what it does is it shines a light for me on what subtle biases that exist in society can do to people, it can be incredibly adept at navigating missteps and failures in life, and yet something which seems like a most others creates panic attacks in you out of the blue. It’s just very interesting to me to juxtapose those two against each other. And I think that’s why later in life, the opportunity to stand up and talk more about the importance of diversity and inclusion means a lot to me. I’m 54 years old and I guess at that point you start to think about what’s important to you.

But I think you asked me about my story of coming out and how that’ll work. And I would say that that’s probably the thing in life I’m the most proud of. I’ve had some success in business, but I’m the most proud of that. It’s a long time ago now, but we’re early 30’s, we met when we were 18, I am 54, I grew up in Alberta, which is like Texas. There was not a lot of information or I didn’t really understand how or why I was different. I didn’t even really feel that different. And we met when we were 18, so we had five years of dating and 10 years of marriage. And then we hit that point where a lot of people do early 30’s, you put each other through school, bought houses together, hit a bunch of big milestones in life, your partners in crime, and then you have a family and you start to change incredibly. And I think that’s where a lot of couples hit that drift. And at that point you have to make a choice, agree you’re going to come back together? Or do you need to diverge? And in my case, there were a few other things going on, but we sat down, and the thing that I’m most proud of is that we forged a strong co-parenting relationship. She’s remarried, I’m uncle to some of her second set of kids. My kids are 23, 25 now. They’ve known about this since they were two and four, and they’re the most independent, respectful, conscious people that I know, and I’m incredibly proud of them. So that’s my biggest victory in life, and that’s part of their journey now. And I guess they get to get out and take that out to the world too, their experiences.

Art Costello: Yeah. One of the things that I want to address that I heard you say, that people need to be careful because words hurt, and when they don’t choose their words carefully, and they don’t put thought into it about people around them, they can do tremendous damage to people. And when it comes down to it, there’s very little difference in all of us where the difference lies is in how we perceive our world around us, and when you have a bigger, broader view of the world and realize that there is all kinds of different people, it’s not only about being gay, I mean, it’s about having different political ideas, it’s about having different, raising cultural ideas, raising children. I mean, there’s as many diverse ideas around, you’ve got to be open to other people’s ideas and other people’s lives without being judgmental and making rude comments about it. When you do that, you’re really limiting your ability to learn about other people, because you don’t open your eyes, you don’t open your brain, your mindfulness is closed, and you really don’t see the beauty in that person. When you’re making these disparaging comments or judgments about other people, and I just wish we would learn not to do it. I don’t know that we ever will, but it would certainly be a great step forward in the world if we would stop judging other people and just accept for who they are and how they are. A lot of people enter marriage and they want to change their partner. It’s the worst way to enter a marriage because you cannot change anybody. Only they can change themselves and you’ve just got to be open minded enough to include and not judge. Any thoughts?

“You've got to be open to other people's ideas and other people's lives without being judgmental, and making rude comments about it.” -Art Costello Share on X

Duff Gardner: Yeah. Actually a big one, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about it because what I’m talking about is not bullying, that’s definitely a thing. But there’s these subtle cues that we convey to others, whether it’s racial cues, societal cues, cultural cues. In my case, yes, there was a disparaging comments about gay folks in the culture industry, but there was also subtle cues. So when they mixed together, the person on the receiving end of that message just became, it’s like walking on eggshells. You’re not quite sure who you’re supposed to be. So in my case, in that particular position, my job shifted once there was awareness of me being a gay person and what had occurred to me as was a form of constructive dismissal over time, my position, less and less responsibility was given my way and to the point where I had to leave that position. So the subtleness of the way that we talk about things is sometimes as impactful as the obvious. So an example would be, I sat down with a good friend of mine and she said to me in full support, there’s three words that I would actually, if I had my druthers, they would be the things that I would eradicate from people’s vocabulary. And so they are lifestyle, tolerance, and agenda. So there is no gay agenda other than when I go to bed at night, I read way too much hockey news. I know everything about the NHL. My other agenda is to look after my dog. Other than that, I really don’t have one lifestyle. When we hear that word, it’s like in this particular case with this friend, she was like, well, I don’t think people should judge your lifestyle. I was like, I think you’re right. And I don’t think I should judge your lifestyle either. So my lifestyle is like anyone else, I just live my life.

“My lifestyle is like anyone else, I just live my life.” - Duff Gardner Share on X

Art Costello: The way it’s supposed to be?

Duff Gardner: Absolutely. Just because who I love has no bearing on what I do during the day, whatever people’s perception that I do, I can assure you, it’s very boring. And the other thing is this idea of tolerance, which thankfully is a word that’s starting to seep away, which is like we need to be more tolerant, which implies the person you’re talking about is less than you. So those are three words that bugged me. I want to tell you a story which kind of got me interested in this topic and that is that I was sitting watching Frances McDormand accept the Academy. And most people remember that moment where she stood up and accepted the award at the Academy Awards. And it was at the height, not the height, but the height of the beginning of the Me Too movement. And it struck me as interesting that here was a forum where a woman was standing up, breaking the rules in terms of what was normal or reasonable for someone to and accept an award and talking about female empowerment. Because of the venue and because it’s Hollywood, probably a good 30% of that audience at least was in the LV, I always get the letters mixed up, but you know what I mean. And yet the leaders in the gay community were off holding the most cool parties in Hollywood. So there’s this weird thing as a gay person tend to want to just live your life and go well, I’ve dealt with it. From the outside looking in, there’s some incredibly successful people who are gay, and what people don’t see is the dysfunction that all the negative stuff towards gay people creates. There’s addiction, there’s death or suicide, there’s people being thrown off buildings around the world simply because of who they love. So as a gay person, you tend to think about just live your life and let people see you as you are. And yet at the same time, in that moment, it just struck me that wouldn’t it be cool if there was a gay person doing the exact same thing in front of so many people? So I think that’s when my interest in being more of a stand for this really hit me.

“Just live your life and let people see you as you are.” - Duff Gardner Share on X

Art Costello: Yeah. I have a lot of thoughts going on in my head right now.

Duff Gardner: For sure.

Art Costello: Being a straight person, it’s hard for me to identify how you think. But yet I do identify with how you think, because I think very similar to you in the ways that Rodney King said: “Why can’t we all get together?” Why can’t we just not judge, not do all these things that we’ve been talking about. But yet when I put myself in your shoes, and think about what it must’ve been like for you to feel those little jabs coming from people you work with, and then having the feeling of losing a position, be having it lowered, and a very clandestine kind of way, or a very secret secretive, I don’t even want to say secret, I don’t know what it is. To me it’s disgusting.

Duff Gardner: I was just going to say it, but the thing is, the person who was doing that, I don’t think they had an understanding that that’s what they were doing.

Art Costello: Really?

Duff Gardner: I think that we in light, I don’t think so because it’s, see that’s the thing that I want to rally against is that, sometimes there’s the subtle things that we say or do and we don’t even know that we’re doing them. Sometimes we categorize somebody as one way, and then we discover something about them, and recategorize them in our head in a different way. And although the one person who is saying the disparaging remarks, that was one thing, the other boss that I had that had the power to shift my job, in her case, I think it was more of an unconscious thing where she just recategorized me from being a peer into someone that she needed to manage. And it came from actually being an advocate of gay people because she just had this point of view that we’re all out to have fun, and that’s not me. It just wasn’t me. So these biases that happen to us, whether it’s about gay people, or racial bias, or any of these different kinds of bias can be really powerful without us even really understanding what we’re doing. So that’s why it’s important to shine a light on it.

Art Costello: Well, to me that comes back to making judgments on people without facts, without having, I mean, you did nothing to back her ideas up. That was her bias. And people who have biases like that, those are the people that really need to work on their personal development, their own personal development, expanding their ideas and their knowledge about people. Because your performance is what should be the key at work, it should not be how you identify genderly or those things. I mean, I guess it’s hard for me because I always take people for what they present to me and I try not to judge. I mean, I really, really am conscious and I think I’ve done a pretty good job over the years of getting myself to where I don’t try to change people, or judge people, or anything. I like you for who you are. You’re a very kind person. You and I have had great conversations, and that’s who you are to me, I mean, you’re not anything but that to me, and I accept you because you are those wonderful, great, kind people. I know your heart, I know how it is, and that’s a great beautiful thing. So I don’t know if I’m being unrealistic, and I’ve always been the odd ball, I’ve always thought differently than other people.

Duff Gardner: Well, I think that’s kind of my mission. I think for me where it’s taken me as far as wanting to make an impact is like, I really would love to eradicate those ideas of lifestyle tolerance and agenda in the context that we just talked about. But the bigger picture is I would love to export the brand of diversity that we have in Canada to the world. Being a Canadian, and being able to be married for over a decade now, I think that would be really important to me. So I think that’s a story that’s still being written for me. One thing that I definitely believe is on the spectrum of LGBTQ, we speak both masculine and feminine. And I think there’s more of that required where people speak both languages. I literally think we can be the bridge to peace in the world. So my message to people who are listening is to think about people in your community who are gay as being that bridge to peace. We can speak the masculine and the feminine. We can be the bridge between the two polarizing ideas that are currently ripping our world apart right now in many ways, and I think that we can play that role. So there’s this concept in the Aboriginal community called Two-spirit, and I believe that we can embody both spirits and bring that to the world. So that’s going to be part of my message going forward.

Art Costello: I mean, that’s beautiful. I know that you want to talk about the modern family, what does that encompass for you?

Duff Gardner: Well, I think we all live in a modern family today, don’t we? I think that the nuclear family idea is admirable, and I think it’s the minority, but that doesn’t really matter. I think that the thing is we all do our best in life. Things happen, circumstances happen, things change for us. So for me, of all the things I’m most proud of, I’ve had success in business. I’ve had success in a lot of different areas in my life. I’ve also had lots of failures in my life, but my proudest successes are my two kids, 23 and 25, and they’re amazing, independent, capable, creative forces in the world. So my story is part of theirs now, and they’re my biggest supporters as is their mother. So yeah, that’s my proudest achievement in life.

Art Costello: I just had this thought, maybe I should call it an epiphany. I just had this thought, when we label stuff, when we label people, when we label things, it does come with a pre-judgment. Every time you label something there’s a pre-judgment attached to it. And sometimes it’s negative, sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s neutral, but it still comes with some type of judgment. So maybe I’m having a spiritual awakening with labels since then, right now.

Duff Gardner: Right. It’s true.

Art Costello: I’ve always been against labels because I believe that, I mean, we’d done tons of research with calling people stupid. I have children in school in early ages calling them stupid, and they begin to believe it after a while. If a teacher continually tells a child that they’re stupid, they live up to the labels that are put on them. So if we label somebody gay, does that mean that our view of them is going to be in this certain way? Is that what you’re saying? And do we need to get it? I mean, I know we need to get rid of it because labeling I think is terrible because it does come with pre-judgments. Am I rambling or making sense?

Duff Gardner: No, no, it makes sense. Okay, so a lot of people have seen the show Will & Grace, right? So the character Sean Hayes plays the friend, a lot of people might think that that is a stereotype of who a gay person is, which is, yeah, it’s a person, it’s not all people. So if you have that sort of label that you associate with people in your realm who are gay, you might treat them a certain way, right? There’s an unconscious label that gets associated with someone like him. I would think of him as fun, and goofy, and silly, flamboyant. So if you’re in a C suite, which I was, and seen as a peer, and then suddenly you’re aware that this person is gay and you attach that kind of an idea to them, that’s what I’m talking about. When you start to prejudge people based on what you perceive they should be in your head, that’s where you’ve got to check yourself. I’m hesitant but I’ll throw it out there. Like in Vancouver, there’s a thing that some people say about some of the new drivers to Canada that they’re terrible drivers, and to be honest, some of them admitted themselves. So that is a bias that people hold about people who come to Vancouver and start to drive. And so, like is it cute? Maybe. But if you take that idea and you push it forward into relationships, and what have you, you can see how it starts to become like a furball in relationships with those people, and it could potentially color your relationship with them.

Art Costello: That’s exactly why labeling is bad.

Duff Gardner: Yeah.

Art Costello: That’s what it does. Because when I see Sean on Will & Grace, I know his personality is just, I can imagine that he’s pretty funny in real life.

Duff Gardner: He’s very funny. Yeah.

Art Costello: Yeah. And we all have different personalities, whether we’re gay, straight or in between. We all have our own personalities and they come out in many different forms. Yours was shyness mine is talkativeness. I love to talk to people, and I’ll break out a conversation anywhere, any place with anyone, it’s my form of learning about people in making my knowledge base more diverse, because the more people that you interact with, you learn that there were so many similarities to us. There’s more similarities than there is, what’s the word I’m looking for? Differences. Differences, yeah.

“The more people you interact with, you learn that there were so many similarities to us.” -Art Costello Share on X

Duff Gardner: I think that you bring up this idea of being shy again. So for me, I was very sporty growing up. I was a high performing athlete. I got drafted into junior hockey at a high level, or my soccer team was playing in the North American championships, I was really athletic. That’s what I was in love with when I was young. I was young with the pursuit of athleticism, and performance, and playing games. That’s what was interesting to me back then. But I was shy socially, really, I was kind of a wallflower. I can still tend, I can still go in the direction of wall flowering myself, absolutely. So I fight that every day. That has nothing to do with being gay, it’s just just me. I can tend towards being a bit of a wallflower. Another story, one of the things I’ve loved is I’ve played in the sports leagues in Vancouver, we call it Bearly Hockey, it’s adult recreational hockey. In Canada we call it beer league because you have a beer afterwards with everybody. So there’s a club in Vancouver, there’s three teams, it’s a gay club. We play against straight teams. There’s probably a good, maybe there’s a hundred different teams in the league, and it’s a great way to just stand for who you are and everybody’s aware of the fact. And interestingly in over 10 years of playing in that league in Vancouver called the Cutting Edges Club. I think there was one or two times where someone on the other team usually a ringer who was an irregular, drop the fag word or something like that in the heat of the game. And it was interesting that in both those cases, the teams we were playing instantly kicked that player, not just off the game but out of their team. They just didn’t have any tolerance for that. So I would say, just to put a — in that conversation for me, I love being a Canadian. I love what Canada stands for in terms of diversity inclusion that way. And I would love it too as I formulate how I want to express this, export that idea to the world. And maybe there’s a through line in that that I bring into business that I’m even unaware of. But yeah, I would love that to be a result for me going forward.

Art Costello: Let’s talk about business a little bit. You own six companies now? Is that what I heard you say at some point?

Duff Gardner: I did not say that. That sounds amazing. I don’t know.

Art Costello: As long as they’re profitable it’s okay.

Duff Gardner: Right. Yeah, right, exactly. No, I’ve got a diverse portfolio, but I do a little investing, I do consulting work, and I decided I wanted to create a coaching brand. And the reason I did that is just because maybe it’s my age, I just enjoy working with people. I learned a lot being in the startup world. I learned a lot that there’s a rigor to building a startup. So when I see a lot of people who are servers based entrepreneurs, especially the ones that are trying to make an impact in the world, I see that the rigor that I experienced in the startup world can really apply to them to help build a more expansive, sustainable, consistent business. So I try to bring what I call startup thinking into the coaching and transformation world with the work that I do so that people can make the impact that they want to make.

Art Costello: That’s really cool. I mean, it’s a different approach to a start up.

Duff Gardner: Yeah. I mean, I really learned that we just released something called The Impact Scorecard. So The Impact Scorecard, I believe it’s the first performance for the coaching and transformation world. I’m not really aware of any other ones out there, but what it’s designed to do is take the stuff that I learned in the startup world, and my grad degrees in learning sciences, and IT. I always geek out on anything to do with cognition, learning how that impacts our performance, that kind of thing. Even just my experience in the games world, all those kinds of ideas are infused in this performance score called The Impact Scorecard. And what is designed to do is give some leading indicators of the five key performance areas where people are either applying themselves or not. So it’s a quick and dirty little three minute assessment where you can go through it, and then you can take a look at that, and it gives you a bit of a sense of where you’re at. If we end up having a conversation, it helps me to understand where you’re at with your business. So that’s the way it’s currently manifested in bringing this idea of startup thinking to impact driven entrepreneurs.

Art Costello: That’s another really cool little thing that you’ve developed. How do you come up with these?

Duff Gardner: It’s not like I just kind of whipped it out. It’s like, let’s do this. You know what? It just occurred to me. I was doing a bunch of launch management work. I had decided when my kids were about to leave high school and go into university that I wanted to start thinking about doing different things. When you do consulting work, I live on an Island, I live in Victoria, it’s about 450 metropolitan area, 450,000, but we’re on an Island. So it’s complicated to get out, so the idea of consulting, flying around and finding clients all over the place, it was getting to be exhausting and I wanted to enjoy things a little bit more. So I wanted to get more into coaching, and I started doing what I call launch management work. So helping people do online product launches. And I started to see how people were having challenges with their businesses. Well, what I learned through that process is that what I knew, which is that, everything begins with a solid offer. You have to understand how to put a good offer in place. In other words, if I can’t communicate to you, what is it that I’m doing? And why should you care? And why should you buy it? And what is it that you’re buying? Like that’s where you should start. So in other words, people who are trying to grow, say you’re a service based entrepreneur, and you know, well, I need to figure out some way to get my business online. I need a better online presence, something like that ends to happen, that people either go out and spend two years building something or thinking about building something like an online course, or a book, or a mastermind, or something like that. Or do they dive headfirst into marketing tactics, five day challenges, online product launches, video series, YouTube marketing, content marketing, but they’re not making any money. So the way I think about it is this, is that your offer is, if you don’t focus on the offer first, it’s going and building a house on quicksand. It might look really good for a little bit, but then the forms, the cracks start to form, and then it just gets sucked into the quicksand. And that’s literally what people are doing when they’re going from, I’m 54, again. So especially people who say 40 plus, you might have some internet digital savvy to you, but when you’re out on your own, and you’re isolated in your own little office, and you’re trying to grow your service based business and moving online a little bit, it’s a very different thing, and all of us get caught in that trap I’m just describing, consistently. So that’s where this idea of startup thinking and focusing on a solid offer can really help people.

Art Costello: Yeah, that’s really, really powerful information right there that people can really use and apply because I know there’s a lot of truth in it from my experience and trying to market. I’m going to shift gears a little bit, and I know that you’re into adopting animals, dogs, and I wanted to talk a little about that because we both have a love for animals and dogs. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing there.

Duff Gardner: Oh, for sure. Well, so I have a rescue, so he’s part of the pit bull family. His name is Seamus, and he is an American Staffordshire bull Terrier, he’s eight and a half now. And he’s a lamb. He’s an absolute lamb. There is not a pillow or a blanket that isn’t like to cuddle up with. And about eight years ago, I co-founded a company, local company here in Victoria, and Seamus became the mascot for that company. I don’t actually have much involvement in that company anymore except that I March in, I think it’s eight, it’s nine because this is going to be a new one, nine per each year, locally. The company’s called Men In Kilts, so I wear a kilt, Seamus has a branded bandana as well, and sometimes he rides in a sidecar in those parades as well. So he’s become a local celebrity. And literally, the television station is like, Oh, they’re Seamus again, they recognize them every year. So pitbulls, first of all, our lovely dogs, and when they’re brought up in an environment where they’re safe, and they’re cared for, and they know they’re loved, it’s amazing, the love you get back from those dogs. And secondly, in terms of, in Canada, we have a different environment for pets, and rescue dogs and all that than exist in the States. It’s kind of complicated why that is, but the pets that are up here tend to be adopted. Whereas in the States, there’s these high kill shelters where dogs have, not a lot of time to get adopted. And the unfortunate truth is that a disproportionate amount of pit bulls, pit bull type dogs are being euthanized every single day because of a stereotype. Going back to what we talked about with LGBTQ, it’s the same, they’re being stereotyped as vicious animals when in fact they are just incredibly gentle, kind animals that make the best, best, best pets. So anyway, he’s just an amazing dog, and I love him to death. And if he can be a stand for rescue pets, that would be a wonderful result as well.

Art Costello: Yeah, Austin just went to no kill shelters, no killing now. So that’s good. I’m glad about that too. You know what strikes me about the whole conversation about Seamus and everything that we’ve talked about today, is it amazing that when we raise things in love, they give love back in. When we raise things in hate and violence, it gets back to, and it just says a whole lot about the power of really being loving, and caring, and kind, and gentle makes a big difference in this world.

“When we raise things in love, they give love back in. When we raise things in hate...it gets it back too.” - Art Costello Share on X

Duff Gardner: Yeah. Dogs are energetic creatures. They pick up on energy, and they channel it, so when they bark, it’s actually just a release of energy. So yeah, I agree. What scares me today is the energy being released in the world is a scary thing. But you’re right, with pets like Seamus, they can be incredible, they’re energetic creatures, and when they’re treated right, especially talked about being self employed, they’re amazing. He’s amazing, he is my vice president in charge of [inaudible] in the company.

Art Costello: It’s a good position for him.

Duff Gardner: Vice president, he doesn’t make me a good coffee, but he’s pretty good at coming into my leg when I need it. He hasn’t quite mastered the espresso yet, but we’re working on it.

Art Costello: Their smart dogs. I’ll tell you what, if there’s anyone you could teach, you know.

Duff Gardner: Yeah, we’ve both got good names.

Art Costello: Anyway, we’re nearing the end of our conversation and I wanted to give you time to give us any last thoughts, and then where we can get a hold of you, and how we can get a hold of you. And I think the most important thing is last thoughts. What you want to leave all the listeners with.

Duff Gardner: Thanks art. You’ve actually got me thinking really deeply about some of my journey in that, and I use the word wallflower today, which is not something I’ve typically used, but it’s totally my truth. I have an expression in my podcast, which is new, called Off My Duff, which is the idea of how to get off your backside and get your impact started. So yeah, of course you’re on my show coming up, which is exciting, and I’m happy about that. In that podcast, my parting comments are “to teach what you love, and to live from your truth.” And I think that that’s what I would say as a closing comment that I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to teach what we love and live from our truth, and that is how we bring peace to the world.

“It's incumbent upon all of us to teach what we love and live from our truth and that is how we bring peace to the world.” - Duff Gardner Share on X

Art Costello: Powerful words. I think that you couldn’t have said it any better. I mean, it’s a fundamental truth that we need to live by, and where can we get a hold of you?

Duff Gardner: You can get ahold of me, if that scorecard interests you, if you do happen to be an entrepreneur and are trying to sort out ways that you can move your business forward a little bit more quickly and more authentically, you can go to theimpactscorecard.com, it’s called theimpactscorecard.com, and it’s like a three minute exercise. And you can also just go to my website which is duffgardner.com, so D-U-F-F, if you watch the Simpsons like the beer, Duff beer, D-U-F-F, and Gardner, G-A-R-D-N-E-R.C-O-M, and they can get some information there as well.

Art Costello: Duff as always, it’s a pleasure having you on the show. You’re an incredible human being, and I can’t wait to have you back on and do some more things here, and I hope that we’ve struck a chord with my audience about how to live their life authentically and honestly that their words matter, that what they say matters. I think there were a whole lot of great diverse lessons today in this conversation. I really appreciate you being on. You’re always a friend, and you’re always welcome here in Austin anytime that you want to come.

Duff Gardner: Right. Thank you so much. I’m so honored to have you as a new friend, and I loved having a conversation with you today.

Art Costello: With that being said, folks, you know where you can get ahold of me, expectationtherapy.com, and I hope that you take to heart what we’ve talked about today. Reach out to Duff, get his scorecard. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start something, everything will be in the show notes, where to get a hold of Duff. And Heather White, you can go ahead and take us out of here.





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