Dave Smith seriously thought he was going to die.
He couldn’t breathe. No matter how much air he gulped down, it felt like it wasn’t nearly enough. As his lungs contracted, the panic began to well up in his chest and the room started to spin. All conscious thought fled as his body went into instinctual survival mode in a fight to recover. Without knowing why, he began to shake uncontrollably. Was this what a heart attack felt like? What was going on?
He was trapped in a room full of marketing executives on the 32nd floor of a corporate high rise, in a meeting he knew he needed to participate in, and all he could think about was escape.
Succumbing to fear and helplessness, he fled a room full of puzzled colleagues, ducked into his office and tried to take deep breaths.
It wasn’t a heart attack, after all. The harrowing episode only lasted a few minutes. But to someone battling anxiety disorder, they feel like hours. They come without warning and when they happen, there’s little to do but ride it out. Fear and helplessness soon became his new normal.
A successful marketing executive, Dave found himself trapped in a prison of his own mind as the years went by. Wracked with anxiety-induced panic attacks that eventually destroyed any hope of handling even the most mundane tasks like going to the bank without dissolving into panic-stricken paralysis, and with doctors unsure of what to do aside from putting him on a lifetime of prescription drugs, Dave found himself desperate for the answers that would help return him to normalcy and help him get his life back.
But try as he might, his condition only got worse. An occasional concern about not getting enough sleep to perform well the next day soon became a routine worry. As the months went by that worry would give him more and more sleepless nights, a routine that would eventually devolve into an obsession. On top of it all, Dave had become victim of chronic fatigue and insomnia. “After a while, the moment you lay down, you start automatically thinking about how you couldn’t sleep these past nights, and the fear begins to set in. You start getting stuck in this rut. And it kind of snowballs from there.”
After years of searching near and far for a solution, he finally found the answers he sought in the teachings of a man named Neville Goddard, a religious and spiritual author whose philosophies would later inspire the launch of Reality Hacker Academy. After having discovered Neville, he came to a stark realization. His condition was entirely psychological and he was letting his imagination run wild and was letting all his worries and fears get the better of him. He began to discipline his mind more and began what he calls hacking his imagination through a series of sophisticated visualization techniques. Dave went from constantly living from a state of crippling anxiety, worry, insomnia and fatigue to a restored and renewed sense of being in less than a year. He became inspired to share his story and embark on a new journey to share the wisdom of the ages in a palatable way that resonated with younger generations. That’s when he met Michael Gustin.
To say that Michael had a rough start in life would be a gross understatement. Having been in and out of foster homes since he was three months old and a victim of sexual assault when he was only a toddler, Michael was placed on antidepressants at 4 and had taken 30 different medications by the time he was 18. He found a glimmer of hope for a normal life with loving parents to call his own when he was adopted at 7. But when his adoptive parents divorced six years later, the man who had come to be his father came to him one day, sat him down and informed him that he didn’t care for him at all and that he decided he was no longer going to be his father. He terminated his parental rights shortly thereafter. This harrowing news was a psychological punch to the gut for any child, but for Michael, it was all too much to bear. Plagued with feelings of abandonment and rejection, he spiraled downward, turning to drugs and alcohol to numb and quiet his inner demons. This habit became a full-blown addiction. Three years later after a particularly difficult breakup, he took 4,200 mg of antidepressants and flat lined.
Luckily for the thousands of people he’s touched and impacted since, that wasn’t where his story ended. Having received a new lease on life after his recovery, he began a religious journey and became a youth pastor in multiple churches across the country. This quest for truth and belonging to something greater soon compelled him to turn to the wisdom of the ages for answers. Quickly becoming enthralled with spirituality, he began closely studying Buddhism, Taoism, and Tao Te Ching. The more he studied, the more connections and commonalities he found. “Soon I realized that they were essentially saying the same thing. We’re all conduits of the creative power of the Universe. Whether you call us all children of God, whether you call us the Disciples of Rah, whatever you call it – the label doesn’t make a difference, it’s the idea behind it – the idea that we’re all microcosms of the macrocosm.” When he discovered Neville Goddard, things began to resonate and click into place. And soon thereafter, Michael’s life began to transform into an experience that has surpassed his wildest dreams.
It’s clear that these two have inarguably seen more than their fair share of adversity and despair. They have both have had inner demons most of us can only imagine. And yet, they’ve created a formidable online following by helping thousands master the keys to powerful life and business transformations, and are traveling the world living their best lives. How?
Michael and Dave believe they have unlocked a treasure trove of success for thousands of businesses all over the world. And according to them, it’s been lying dormant within each and every single one of us, all along.
Michael explains, “I firmly believe that you are an infinite creative force living as a human. You’re not your human identity, you’re the creative force that lives inside, having a human experience. My truth at this point is that we’re all infinite, creative, boundless conduits of the entire universe, experiencing life as a human. And I think as I came to that conclusion, I realized that my potential was absolutely boundless. And I think that when anybody does, they realize that nothing is truly impossible. What the mind conceives and believes, you can definitely achieve. I wholeheartedly stand by that.”
Reality Hackers Academy, the organization that Michael and Dave have since built, transforms businesses by first transforming the mindsets of their owners. With thousands of followers all over the world, Reality Hackers Academy provides digital resources and private coaching to unlock entrepreneurs’ infinite potential. Helping them battle inner demons of their own by empowering them to reset how they view themselves and the world around them is critical to this process. “I realize that our lives are bound by the concepts of ourselves that we have. If we think that we’re victims, if we really believe that we’re pieces of crap, that’s going to show up in a plethora of different ways. Whether that’s bipolar disorder, whether that’s broken relationships, whether that’s poverty – you name it.”
Reality Hackers Academy has helped a plethora of business owners evolve their mindsets to own their power and transform their own lives. Take a woman from Belgium, for instance, who had lost her second child and had written a children’s book to help mothers and children overcome that trauma. Having little confidence in herself and plagued with emotional blocks, the book had remained at home in a file. But in working with Dave, in just a couple of weeks she got the confidence and drive to reach out to eighty publishers. Three of them got back to her with an offer for a book deal. Her book was published in November.
Dave says, “I was pretty shocked by the incredible stories I was getting. There was a client in particular, who in the matter of a month, who – just by applying our tools – she increased her monthly income in her business five times over and she drastically improved her relationship with her boyfriend. She’s expressed a greater sense of power. That was really cool to hear.”
Many might say that these incredible results were a product of tons of hard work. And they wouldn’t be wrong. But Michael and Dave argue that there’s more to the story. There’s a more efficient way to further your personal and professional progress – one that encourages ease and inspiration rather than the entrepreneurial mantra of hustle and grind.
“It’s not that we don’t preach ‘hustle and grind’ because we’re lazy. I mean, I’ll tell you this much: I probably put in 70 hours a week into Reality Hackers, to be real with you. What we’re trying to get across is this idea that mindless action – not action itself but mindless action – is not the most efficient way to success. I think a lot of people do that because they don’t understand who they are. When I live from a place of success in any endeavor, my conversion rates in terms of acquiring what I want are 100 times greater. I really believe that every action we take, every thought we have, always comes from the concept of ourselves that we have, that we’re always carrying with us at any given moment. And so, when we’re living in that state of success, we’re naturally drawn to the people, to the places, to the environments, that will bring us the most efficient success in the least stressful way.”
Michael and Dave work with entrepreneurs and business owners all over the world to help them work smarter and live a successful life born of inspired action. Information about their newest program, designed for consultants and coaches to build their business in an authentic and scalable way, can be found at stopthehustle.com.