Dallin Larsen: Hello, everyone, Dallin Larsen, and welcome to another episode of Life Lessons on this Sunday evening, May 3rd. I certainly hope that you are well and safe enjoying time at home. Let me guess: You’re probably at home, right, as all of us are. It’s kind of a rainy spring evening here in the mountains of Utah, outside of Park City. And I’m so excited to be with you tonight. I’m excited to interview and have a fireside chat with my good friend and business partner, Daniel Picou.
I met Daniel Picou over the phone about five years ago now. And we just started a friendship over the phone. He was calling me about a different matter. We became acquainted over the phone, and I grew to enjoy those conversations. I found him to be someone who thinks very deeply. I mean, he’s certainly an intellectual. I found that he has a great capacity to learn and retain information. And we developed, I think, a really, really meaningful friendship. And when I decided to come out of retirement and start a third and final company to bless as many people as I possibly could, I couldn’t think of anybody that I would rather lock arms with than Daniel Picou; and, even though I hadn’t been in business with him before, I’ve found him to be honest, trustworthy, loyal, passionate, hungry, determined, and committed. And so, I invited Daniel to partner with me, and I’m grateful that he said yes. So, I want to welcome to tonight’s Life Lessons, my good friend—sometimes I kind of view him as a son—most of the time I view him as more like a brother…but, welcome to tonight’s Life Lessons, Daniel Picou.
Daniel Picou: Thank you, Dallin. It’s an honor to be on with you tonight. Thank you so much for having me.
Dallin: Well, you know, Daniel, I often ask people where they come from and you know what I mean by that: It’s not, “Where are you from geographically?” It’s where are you from? And we’re gonna hopefully peel back the onion, and I want people to get to know you better. You’re a very private person. But nonetheless, I’m hoping that we can share some things. You’ve certainly experienced an awful lot in life in a little over four decades. So we’re going to talk about those life experiences and the people who have influenced you and made a difference. And we’re going to talk about a big life decision that you’ve recently gone through. But let’s start as a child.First of all, where were you born, Daniel?
Daniel: Colorado Springs. I was born in Colorado Springs, and my dad left at the young age of 20 months old. My mom moved to Denver, but I was born in Colorado Springs. Don’t remember anything of it. But I was in the Springs for my first 20 months.
Dallin: And then from Colorado Springs, you were raised in a little town just south of Denver until March of 2007.
Daniel: In 2007, I left to move to L.A., and I said, “I’ll never live in the cold again.” And here I live in Utah. It’s very similar to Colorado; it’s a beautiful place.
Dallin: Well, 27 years [in Colorado]. I know you’re a big sports fan, and no surprise there as good as the Nuggets have been and all those championship banners…
Daniel: We’re gonna start that already, ripping on the Nuggets and the Broncos already?
Dallin: What? I know you’re a great sports fan, but let’s talk about your early years. You said your dad left when you were 20 months old. You went a long time before you got to know your dad.
Daniel: Yeah, I did. Twenty-nine years to be exact, and it was a difficult time. You know, my childhood was filled with extremes. It was filled with amazing memories of times that were happy, but there were a lot more times of sadness and pain. Didn’t know it when I was younger, but it formed who I am today. But, yeah, my dad left at 20 months old, didn’t know for 29 years if he was alive or dead, and then we reconnected in July of 2010.
Dallin: When you think of your childhood, what are the things that stand out in your mind?
Daniel: Probably a lot of inconsistency, to be frank. But no matter where you came from, you can make something of yourself with a little bit of work ethic and by meeting the right people and being willing to think outside the box. I’ve talked to my little brother about this, who’s on here watching. Hi, Mark. I love my little brother to death. We didn’t have normal parental role models. My mom’s been married five times. I love my mom, but I was never provided with the traditional role model. So, a lot of my childhood was marked by inconsistency…multiple schools, moving around a lot. I remember being very young and seeing a home and saying, “I wonder what those people do.” And my mom said, “Daniel, they took advantage of somebody to live in a house like that.” We lived out of a poverty mindset, and it was very clear from a young age what side of the railroad tracks we were on. You know, education wasn’t something that was talked about. And so, Mark and I had a lot of inconsistent messages growing up. So, a lot of my influences growing up came from friends, parents, or neighbors. A lot of my early influences and role models who taught me things were not family members.
Dallin: Well, so your dad left. Your mom’s been married five times. A lot of inconsistency. But yet you excelled in school.
Daniel: I was good from a memorization standpoint. With our educational system, if you’re good at memorizing things, you can do well on tests. My attendance was never good, and anyone around me would say I was not a good student. But I always had a curiosity. My grandma Helen, who meant so much to me, used to say my favorite word was “why.” I just constantly asked why, why, why, why? I still do that to this day, and it helped me grow. So, I was always curious, but I was definitely not a great student. I would figure out how to memorize what was important for the test and then show up and take the test.
And I always did very well on the tests; multiple choice is like a joke. But I never looked at school as a steppingstone to get me to the next level of life. So many people—and I wish I’d grown up in a family like this—they put importance on college. And I scored very, very high on my ACT. I wore a Jerry Garcia tie-dye shirt that a friend of mine made for me as a joke. I showed up at Kennedy High School. I was the first one done. I can remember blazing through, and the testing teacher or overseer said, “Are you sure you don’t want to double check your answers?” I said, “No, I don’t like school Monday to Friday; I definitely don’t like it on a Saturday.” And I got up and left.
[Later] My principal called me in—and he knew I wasn’t the best, most studious person in school—and he says, “I just have one question: How the heck did you score a 34 on your ACT?” I said, “I had a really smart girl sitting next to me on my left and every answer she had, I guess I had the same answer,” and he laughed about it. But yeah, I just got really lucky.
Dallin: Thirty-four on the ACT. And listen, you can sit here and you’re a very humble guy, but the reality of it is this: You scored a 34 on the ACT. It wasn’t just about memorizing things. You have a high IQ in fact. Look, you’re a member of the Mensa Society. Can we be honest? Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a nonprofit organization open to people who score at the 90th percentile or higher on the standardized supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test. Hence, I’m not in that society. But you are.
Daniel: Yeah, my dad challenged me with a little wager on it and he said, “I wonder if you can pass the [Mensa] test the first go around,” and I did. He was way more thrilled than I was, frankly. It meant a lot to him. My grandfather and two uncles were part of Mensa. So, to my dad, it was a big badge of honor. I’d rather go out and help somebody.
Dallin: Well, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree when it comes to the intelligence side. But, you know, it’s one thing to be intelligent: there’s something else to being street smart. And you’re both of those. So, let’s talk about who your heroes were growing up that you believe helped shape the person you are today.
Daniel: Absolutely. With hands down my grandma, Helen. She was my mom’s mom. I always say she was tougher than a two-dollar steak. She was 5’1”. She was born with polio in Pennsylvania. She walked with braces all of her life, and she overcame a lot and lived to be 83. My grandma was the first person, and maybe one of the only people growing up, that really believed in me. And I can remember doing stupid stuff as a kid. And my grandma would always say, “Danny, it’ll be ok.” Or, “Danny, sit down and relax and calm down for a minute.” She used to do really simple things that meant so much. I can remember my junior year of high school I was in foster homes for two and half years. My grandma wrote me a card that I still have and at the bottom of the card she wrote, “Don’t ever forget I believe in you.” I think so often a lot of people out there don’t have someone to believe in them. And my grandma, the biggest thing she taught me was to be tough, to be honest, that there was somebody out there believing in me. I can remember her saying, “You’ll never find somebody to love you if you don’t love yourself.” So, she was a special lady. She was small in stature, but man, she had a big heart and she was a fighter.
Dallin: Well, I got to believe she’s looking down very proud of you, Daniel. And, what circumstances! How did you survive it, Daniel?
Daniel: Just read a lot. Played sports. Books became my friend and they always were. I started to read a lot, even though, like I said, I wasn’t a great student. I started early, read a lot. I just became obsessed with books. Books were my first mentors. I’m 16 years old the first time I read Think and Grow Rich. And I think that’s probably the book that really got my mind. I was always asking how there was a different side to society. What I mean by that is I was never that impressed with wealth. I learned that I could achieve anything or do anything. And so, I started reading Napoleon Hill. I started reading Tony Robbins. I started reading anything I could throw myself into. I started diving into personal development very young. It gave me a hunger. It gave me a passion. It gave me a fight in me. I became obsessed in my late teens and early 20s. How can a guy take a small amount of capital with some ingenuity and some work ethic and with one great idea build these massive companies? I just started reading success. I started throwing myself into success. I’m attracted to that achievement more than the wealth part. It’s been that way for two decades.
Dallin: So, books became your friend. We’ve talked a lot about passion. You’ve gone out and started some companies. You built two companies and sold them and did very, very well for yourself. What separates, in your mind, the achiever from the underachiever?
Daniel: That’s a great question. I think it’s hunger, an inner hunger. I mean, you look at an Oprah Winfrey…most people don’t realize [a family member] impregnated her. She grew up in pure poverty and she goes on and creates an empire. Dallin, I got a tremendous amount of respect for you…Grew up in the potato fields of Idaho and you go out and become Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. You’ve done billions of dollars in business. Not many people can say that. And I look at all the success, and I think the biggest word that separates you as an overachiever is “hunger.” It’s getting up every day wanting to serve people. I love servant leadership. I want to serve people. I want to be of service to people. I want to be of value. Jim Rohn said, “Don’t go out and want more. You want to go out and create value. You need to create value and make yourself more valuable in the marketplace.” So, I’ve always tried to create value, and that’s all we’re doing at Vasayo. We’re creating value with products and with a business opportunity. You know, one of my wishes is to create a foundation. I want to give back. I want to build group homes and create a foundation for kids. I want to be able to go out and bless a lot of kids. I don’t know if I take that back to Denver, but there’s a good chance I will. I want to create the Daniel Picou Family Foundation. We’ll see where God leads it.
Dallin: Daniel, one of the things I admire about you the most is that after 30 years of not seeing your dad or hearing from your dad, something inside of you allowed you to find him and reunite with him. Tell us about that experience.
Daniel: I didn’t know my dad for 29 years. And he passed away on Father’s Day, June 15, 2014. I did have a lot of anger and bitterness, frankly. I didn’t have one picture of my dad growing up. It was interesting. My mom, in one of her extreme moody times, decided she’d burn any pictures she had. And I used to ask my grandma and mom all the time what my dad looked like. My dad was shorter than me. My grandfather, from Louisiana—my dad’s dad—his name was Wallace. My dad was Wallace, Jr. I didn’t have one picture growing up, but I was always curious about him. My mom and grandma both said he was very intellectual, spoke multiple languages, very intelligent, and was always, always curious. Now, growing up, I did have a lot of resentment. I had a lot of that and a lot of frustration. I think it’s so important as a male to have a male role model. It’s important for females as well. But for a man and a boy not to have his dad around, it’s a feeling that a lady can’t necessarily replace. I heard Les Brown say that he grew up without a father too, and he celebrates mothers on Father’s Day, which I love. But not having a dad was a gaping hole for me. And when we reconnected in July of 2010, one of the first things my dad said to me after we were reconnected in person, I went down to Louisiana and my dad said, “Are you angry at me? You hold any hostility towards me?” I said, “Zero,” and my dad got emotional. My dad said to me, “How are you not angry? Have you forgiven me?” I told him I forgave him 100 percent. I said, “When I was younger I did. I had a lot of anger towards you and bitterness. But I had to let go of that for me or it would have destroyed me from the inside out.” So, I did.
Dallin: Is there any one lesson that you learned from your dad that you cherish more than anything else?
Daniel: My dad was a man of few words, but he was always reading. And almost every time I’d Facetime him or call him, he was inside of a book. Even when he got sick, all he wanted to do was read. My dad was constantly wanting to read, and he was just a constant learner.
Dallin: He had a love of learning and so do you. Any last words before he passed that he gave to you?
Daniel: Yeah, he told me don’t live my life so closed off to people. He said, “Find somebody that’s incredible, and spend your life with them.” The other piece of advice he told me is that greed is a terrible master. And he said if you’ve got friends that are really there for you through thick and thin, through the hard times, the good times, the success times and failures, you’ve won the battle of life.
Dallin: Well, since I’ve known you, Daniel, I’ve seen you grow so much in this role and I mean, you’re not only a very intelligent guy, but you also have a big, huge heart for children. And we’ve talked a lot about relationships. You know, we’re in the relationship business. And you’re a workaholic. You spend 18 hours a day at the office. I’ve wondered if you’ll ever find somebody. And we’ve joked about that. You said, “Marriage is the first step to divorce,” speaking in jest and laughing. But, a few months ago, I saw this glow on your face, you know, and that smile you’ve got right now. And I haven’t seen that, really, in the three and a half years or four years that I’ve known you. I mean, you’re a joyful guy. But there was a piece missing. And, man, I saw you a few months ago. So, what’s up with that? Something’s changed. Why don’t we go ahead and share a little bit about what’s happened in your life?
Daniel: Yeah, I was the first guy telling marriage jokes. I’ve always thought marriage was a beautiful thing, by the way, and I’ve always thought when two people come together and connect and are there for one another, there’s nothing more beautiful than love. The same for me; the same walls that keep out happiness keep out love for a long time. And I’ve dated some amazing people and had some great relationships, but I never found that one person I want to spend my life with. [But] I started dating somebody just a few short months ago who I had met a long while back. We started dating a few short months ago, and one date turned into another date, which turned into another date, which turned into another date. And it’s been incredible. And we made the big decision. I said, “You know what? This is the person for me.” And so a couple of weeks ago, we’re like, “We’re in the middle of Covid. Do we plan out a wedding? What do we do?” Well, I’m a private person. What better excuse can you have to not have to invite a bunch of people to a wedding? Covid-19 wedding. Her kids were there. We had a few friends. You were there. Thank you. We had a few friends the Friday before last. It’s been a little over a week. We gathered up in the mountains and had an amazing ceremony and got married. And I am now a married man. So, it’s been a blessing. She’s been amazing. She loves God, has an amazing heart and a ton of charisma, a great personality, great sense of humor. She’s athletic. And I just pinch myself. I’ve been so fortunate, so lucky. We went to Scottsdale for a week on a honeymoon and had an absolutely amazing time. And I can’t wait to introduce her to the Vasayo family. Her name’s Charity. I couldn’t be happier and more proud of what’s taken place in just a few short months. Amazing. 2020’s been the best year of my life so far.
Dallin: And she’s perfectly named, Daniel. You deserve a “Charity” in your life, and she deserves you. So, life has come full circle. Your father left for 30 years. You got reacquainted with him, and now you’ve got an opportunity to be a father for [her] 15-year-old and [her] three children as well. I couldn’t be happier for you. You deserve all the happiness in the world. I wish you all the greatest. I pray that God’s choicest blessings will be upon you, Daniel, and Charity and your family as you begin this great life lesson that’s about to unfold. And I’m excited to be a part of it. Now, Daniel, you’re a man of faith. You’re a man of great determination, passion, hunger. Decades down the road when you breathe your last breath here on Earth and you’re put to rest and you have a tombstone, what would you want to have that say? How would you want to be remembered?
Daniel: That’s a tough question. I’d want it to say that I always wanted to do the right thing. I want it to say husband, father, somebody that wanted to do the right thing. Somebody that never gave up. Someone that believed in people. Husband, father, somebody that cared deeply, somebody that was passionate about what he was passionate about and somebody that loved God. And last but not least, someone that wanted to leave the world a little bit of a better place. I want my tombstone to say that I left the world a better place and played a role in leaving a small legacy behind.
Dallin: Thank you, Daniel. Thank you for sharing so many of your life lessons that brought you to this place. May God bless you all the days of your life and may you never want for as long as you live. May he keep your cup full and overflowing. I love you, Daniel.
Daniel: Thank you, Dallin. I love you too. I’ve learned a lot from you. And you’re not just a business partner, but a tremendous friend. And I’ve really enjoyed our time together. Thank you for having me today.
Dallin: Thank you. God bless everyone. And I look forward to seeing you next Sunday on another Life Lessons.