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This is Capitalism: Up Close, Inspired, Explained

Apr 22, 2019

Darrah Brustein asks a lot of good, pointed questions of herself as well as others. In part because of the questions she has asked herself since graduation from Emory University in 2006, she has gone from the fashion world to building a payment processing system for merchants, to event planner and networking guru, children’s book author and advocate for teaching young people about personal finance, and now, co-host of a video series with Deepak Chopra, Diving Deep with Deepak and Darrah.


Key Takeaways:

[:23] Ray Hoffman introduces the guest, Darrah Brustein.

[1:00] Darrah began at about eight years old on her path to become an entrepreneur. It started with crafting jewelry, then selling candy bars, and then partnering with her brother to sell wrapping paper for a school fundraiser. She is in business with her brother still; they work great as partners but they are not great friends!

[3:25] Darrah double-majored in Religion and Italian at Emory University. Darrah believes you can understand people and what makes them tick by learning what they believe. She tells how her own early conversion experience led her to want to learn more. A holistic view of the world’s religions has helped her to “get” people.

[4:36] Darrah decided to major in Italian, being one of the three fashion languages after French and English, which she already knew, to launch a career in fashion. She did start in fashion but never needed Italian. In her liberal arts education, she learned to expand her mindset. She studied abroad for one summer in Italy.

[6:12] Now Darrah spends about 60% of her time traveling for pleasure, and she works wherever she is. Her first job out of college was as a sales rep for a Los Angeles-based wholesale jean company while she was in Atlanta. She covered seven Southeast states working with boutiques and department stores in her territory. She beat her sales goals.

[7:23] The company went under about a week before Christmas in 2007 and Darrah lost her job. She had bought a home three months earlier. Darrah next tried different things for work, and got laid off or downsized several more times, in the thick of the economic recession. Her inner voice kept guiding her to owning her own business.

[9:03] Darrah started a credit card processing company with her twin brother, Garrett. Garrett had been researching the merchant services industry and found an unrepresented contingent of brokerage models he could apply to the credit card processing industry. Darrah’s first reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

[10:14] Darrah didn’t have any other ideas what to do, so she flew to San Diego to work with Garrett. Garrett had already gotten started with a small team. Darrah shadowed them and looked for problems in the business plan. After a week, she flew back to Atlanta and connected with as many of her former clients as she could.

[10:43] Darrah asked her former clients about their current payment systems and what it would take for them to switch. She kept hearing the same story. The merchants had been sold a “bill of goods” with costs that were different from what they had expected. They would switch to a provider with honesty and transparency.

[11:12] Darrah had not been initially enthusiastic about this service of credit card processing but she could get really excited about the way in which she could interact with and help these small business owners. So, she became really excited about the service. Now, Darrah calls herself the Chief Curiosity Officer of her company.

[11:47] Building the business was a lot harder in practice than in theory. Small companies are tied into their merchant services provider by contract. Many of them believe the pitch they were sold by those providers. Darrah almost felt like the Robin Hood of financial services. It took longer than she expected, but over time, it worked.

[13:08] Darrah tells how she started Network Under 40 and then Network Over 40. She just wanted to meet the need of a friend and she was already a success at networking. It snowballed to an event a month, and she expanded it to other cities. In eight years they have served over 30,000 people. It’s about building real relationships, not selling.

[16:29] Darrah explains how she established “Friends first and then networking.” From the first event, Darrah stacked the room with people she knew would embody that idea. She told them it was not going to be a place where it’s just a business card exchange or the first question is “What do you do?” They were prepared to work the room as friends.

[17:03] As it grew, Darrah used ambassadors in a shirt with the event logo and colors and the slogan, “Let’s talk.” They act as event concierges. They set the tone and help keep the culture alive. People engage on a human level before involving their professional life.

[18:08] About two years ago, Darrah had an enduring, intuitive feeling that there was a new incarnation of her career on the horizon; she had no idea what it was. It was her job to figure it out. For six months she dug deep and reflected on what it could be that was coming next. She realized that people kept asking her how she lives the life she does.

[19:01] Due to the path she had followed, Darrah had the freedom to travel when she liked and work beside high-profile people. Had she followed a traditional “success” path, she would be asking the same questions her friends asked her. She knew her best skill was connecting people to people and to resources. She felt the need to create a blueprint for others.

[20:06] She decided to do a virtual summit so anyone with an internet connection would have access to all her peers and mentors who have helped her along this journey. She broke the summit into three categories: 1) What do I want out of my life? 2) How do I build a career or business to include that? 3) How do I develop a support community?

[21:18] Darrah organized 45 speakers with 20 hours of content. The summit ran live online over three days and now is available online for purchase. Each category took one day. The speakers were assigned according to their unique talents, ideas, and skill sets. Darrah interviewed half of the presenters; the rest went solo with resources for action.

[22:21] Darrah sees her essential self as the exact person she was ten years ago, but some of her characteristics have changed a lot. She went from being reactive and stressed about “résumé virtues” to being more secure and understanding of her intrinsic human value apart from her career and accolades.

[23:22] Darrah explains why she is proudest of her emotional journey and how she can use her vulnerability to help others learn they are not alone, wherever they are in their journey. Close to 10,000 attended the virtual summit.

[24:18] Darrah releases a weekly conversation with Deepak Chopra. Darrah says that Deepak Chopra was not chasing a fortune. It came as a secondary component to utilizing his gifts in service to the world while having fun and feeling joyful. In the same way, Network Under 40 was Darrah doing what she loved. Money was a by-product.

[25:34] Darrah suggests that when you can understand your unique gifts and skills, and with whom you empathize enough to help them on their way from A to B, that is a melding of who you are as a spiritual being with how you can grow something in a capitalistic way.

[26:00] Darrah talks about the shared insights between entrepreneurism and team sports that she observes from her many celebrity interviews. Founders are not lone wolves. The people around you make you a success.

[26:57] Darrah wrote Money-Making Sunny after watching the market collapse and seeing how much debt her high-earning friends had accrued. She saw a global epidemic of financial ignorance. Darrah’s parents had taught her very early about money, investing, compound interest, and giving back. She wanted to help others.

[28:33] Darrah saw very little children’s literature on financial responsibility. Parents weren’t successfully teaching financial literacy to their children on their own. So Darrah used her writing talent to create a story that includes an appendix of resources for parents to use for teaching.

[29:51] There is a downloadable picture to color on the website Parents send her videos and images that show how their children are finding excitement around financial responsibility. They are learning it doesn’t just pop out of an ATM. There are consequences with money. Demonstrate them for your children.

[31:37] Darrah’s plan is to let life unfold as it should, following her instincts and seeing where doors are opening. In 2018 Darrah had no goal to do a video show with Deepak Chopra. But then it presented itself, and Darrah is so grateful that it has happened.

[32:51] Darrah had assembled a wish list of mentors and people she admired for their expertise that she wanted in the summit. For many of them, she was a student of their work from afar. Deepak Chopra was one of them. Darrah connected with his publicists and shared the vision of the summit but they were on the fence about it.

[33:36] Darrah had a hidden connection. She reached out to a friend, who was also Deepak Chopra’s COO. Within hours, she had an invitation to interview Deepak in New York the following week. It was an incredible opportunity and experience.

[34:31] Three months later, Chase Bank had hired Darrah to be an onsite correspondent for their Atlanta conference at which Deepak Chopra and Cam Newton were speaking. So she met Cam Newton and had a delightful second interaction with Deepak Chopra.

[34:48] This led to two additional interviews of Deepak, arranged by his publicists. Darrah later sent him an email thanking him and offering her cheerleading support for whatever he needed in 2019. That led to the video series. Darrah never engineered the circumstance to happen, it just unfolded naturally from her generosity and work.

[36:04] This is Capitalism.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Darrah Brustein

Emory University

Diving Deep with Deepak and Darrah

Equitable Payments

Network Under 40

Network Over 40

Inc Magazine

Dale Carnegie

Life by Design, Not by Default Virtual Summit

World Economic Forum in Davos


The U.N.

Deepak Chopra

Adam Grant

Robert Herjavec

Shaquille O’Neal


Gary Player

Cam Newton

Bobby Brown

Money-Making Sunny: Finance Whiz Kids: Book #1, by Darrah Brustein

This Is Capitalism