The idea came to Dave Shultz in a flash.
He was standing on a tee box in Carmel, California with his son Ethan.
Ethan was destroying him.
Ethan had gone off to college and was working part-time at a golf course fine-tuning his game. He was playing well.
Dave, on the other hand, was not playing well.
As a busy corporate worker he didn’t have time to dedicate to the game and he wasn’t enjoying his round because he was out of practice. He disliked spending his precious time at the driving range or on the practice green because it wasn’t fun and it felt like practice.
Why would he work on a game he doesn’t have time to play?
In that moment Dave thought to himself, how come no one has created legitimate accessibility to golf in a way that feels fun?
Great ideas that seemingly come in a flash usually are built on a foundation of life experiences.
“Whatever your idea is, it’s been festering around for much longer. It comes to a head at a certain point and you have to catch it when it does,” Dave said.
Reflecting on his idea, Dave realized how well it connected with everything he had done since he was a child.
He did many things poorly. There were many things that frustrated him. And there were many things that made him angry. In learning to do things better, get over frustrations and overcome tasks that made him angry, Dave grew his skillset.
Dave had to be the right person at the right time to pursue his dream.
“All of those things that made me frustrated in the past helped me to overcome those issues today that used to hold me back,” said Dave.
The Struggle is Real
Dave’s Father – The Dreamer
Dave’s Dad, Larry is an intellectual. He spent most of his life chasing ideas and trying to invent things, but never got commercial validation from his efforts.
But, he was always happy in his pursuit.
“People looked at my Dad as a dreamer and not as someone who was successful,” Dave said.
The opinions of other people regarding Larry and his family put pressure on Dave to play it safe.
In contrast to his father, Dave never wanted to do anything outside of the box. He was going to focus on building his career with General Electric. All he wanted to be was financially stable and take care of his family.
“I was always afraid of doing something like this because I knew comparisons with my father would start coming up,” Dave said.
And they did.
But because Dave was so connected with his idea, none of that bothered him.
“It was just noise,” Dave said.
Dave had a lot of interpersonal issues with his Dad before his idea came to him. After his idea, he’s learned to appreciate the way his father lived his life. Which is very different from the way most people live theirs.
“Since I started this process I’ve been more connected to my father. He lived his life the way he wanted to live,” said Dave.
Dave’s idea helped him see the world the way his father saw it.
While working at General Electric Dave played it safe, but was never completely happy. He had a great career at General Electric, but little things kept showing themselves to Dave that the life he had created for himself was not the life he was meant to live.
Middle-Aged White Guy at General Electric
While employed at General Electric Dave worked his way up the corporate ladder but eventually ran into a wall.
A middle-aged white man in a company like GE the generation before had more accessibility to leadership positions in the organization.
Programs designed to advance women and minorities into executive positions left Dave feeling resentful. He felt he was getting passed over for positions he was more qualified for as a result of these programs.
“I felt discriminated against. I was being passed over even though I had more experience,” Dave said.
The idea changed the way Dave felt. He went from feeling resentful to expressing gratitude.
“Now I’m happy for all those people that got advancements. It wasn’t my path,” he said. “The reality is I wasn’t looked over because I was being discriminated against. The reality was that none of those jobs were the job I was supposed to have. It felt differently because I wasn’t connected to an idea or a sense of personal purpose.”
The idea helped Dave’s feeling of resentment turn to gratitude and happiness. His idea and purpose steered him away from GE to pursuing his dream.
Dave’s career wasn’t the only thing that was keeping him from happiness. Envy creeped into his friendships too.
Jealousy and Resentment Among Friends
A high school friend of Dave’s, Randy, is a very successful commercial real estate agent. Randy drives a nice car and has a nice house. Every time Dave would get in a car with Randy or visit his house, feelings of jealousy would hit him.
“I had this inferiority complex,” Dave said. “I felt that people who made a lot of money felt like they were smarter than other people.”
Dave had always been commended for being smart, dedicated and a good problem solver but felt his bank account didn’t match his skill set.
Those feelings of jealousy and resentment guided Dave to do something about them.
The idea helped him overcome those feelings.
Once Dave connected with his idea, he stopped worrying about his finances. Jealousy and resentment disappeared.
“I’m waking up doing exactly what I would do whether I have money or not. There is nothing in my way keeping me from doing what I want,” Dave said.
Comparisons with his father, his corporate career and his friendships were all roadblocks Dave faced on his path to living the life he was meant to live. The idea instantly took hold of him and transformed his mindset.
All of the issues he faced from his past were no longer issues, but assets. These challenges helped to prepare him to execute his idea to revolutionize the golf industry.
The Idea to Purpose
The morning after the idea struck Dave, he awoke with a perfectly clear head on how to accomplish his vision. He shared it with his wife Christy, his son Ethan and Ethan’s girlfriend Lisa at breakfast.
None of them thought it was a bad idea.
“Early on, you’re very fragile with your idea development and some negative feedback from people can cause you to abandon something you were meant to do,” Dave said. “If Ethan said it was a bad idea, at that point it would have been enough for me not to take it. The problem is he thought it was a good idea.”
Dave memorialized it on a napkin sketch and declared he was going to pursue his idea. During the discussion Christy, Ethan and Lisa were listening intently. Ethan and Lisa thought it was a good idea. Christy wasn’t as enthusiastic because she thought Dave was happy working his corporate job.
“No one realized I was going to drop everything to do this,” Dave said.
On the 6-hour drive home from Carmel, Christy drove and Dave got to work. He spent the entire ride home mapping out his ideas on his computer.
“By the time we got home I was already in trouble,” Dave said since he didn’t talk to his wife at all during the drive home.
From the time the idea hit Dave until the time he got home his entire mindset shifted.
“I was literally a different person by the time I got home,” Dave said. “If I was going to lead this I would have to be a completely different person. You can’t do something massive without personal change and personal growth. I had to accept it and evolve along with it.”
This wasn’t the only big idea Dave ever had.
During his lifetime Dave said he had about five ideas like this that had come to him, but he never acted on them. The difference this time was his life was positioned in a way where he was willing to jump off a cliff.
“I knew I wanted to change something about the way I was living my life. The idea became the opportunity to do that,” Dave said.
Before the idea Dave didn’t have any confidence. He was intimidated by class, stature and people. He was afraid to talk in large groups.
“If you asked me to speak in front of people I broke out in cold sweats,” Dave said.
He remembered his first time speaking once he came up with his idea to a group of business students from San Diego State University.
“I went to San Diego to speak and it was horrible, but it was great because I was able to force myself through the uncomfortable part of it,” Dave said. “I forced myself to go through that process. I did it knowing I had to be comfortable doing that sort of stuff.”
Everything and everyone Dave resented in the past became a part of his process, his life journey to become the person he needed to be.
“It felt like it was supposed to happen,” Dave said. “When you find the right idea to pursue, it leads you to peace of mind and peace of mind is the entire goal of living your life. You want to wake up every morning and feel happy.”
Any decision that needs to be made is easy.
Does this help or hurt the development of his idea?
If it helps the idea he does it. If it doesn’t, he doesn’t.
The Dangers of Conformity
In his younger years, Dave, like many others felt like conforming was the goal. In order to be successful Dave needed to be like everyone else.
On the tee box in Carmel, Dave’s opinions changed. He looked at the million dollar houses lining the golf course and thought how could I be one of those people?
Conforming hadn’t made it possible.
To be truly successful Dave had to make his own recipe.
“I finally realized conforming is not something anyone should strive for,” Dave said. “I now have an appreciation that I’m different from everybody else.”
Dave’s idea helped him appreciate the unique contributions and differences of others in a way he was unable to do before.
Eliminating Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts exist for everyone, but Dave has trained himself not to have anxiety or fear.
“Being afraid of what other people think paralyzes you,” Dave said.
He used to be petrified of what others thought of him. He doesn’t feel that way anymore.
As Dave focused more on the idea and less on himself he began to realize that being afraid or approaching things based on the way he was perceived by others was not the way to advance his mission.
Dave recalled a discussion he had with a friend from GE, Peter Walker.
Dave was telling Peter that sometimes he would get distracted at work because he was bored. Peter told Dave whenever he felt bored, he would just go and get something done. It didn’t matter what it was, it just mattered that you did something.
“Getting something done gives you a sense of accomplishment and a sense of accomplishment makes anxiety, fear and worry go away,” Dave said. “Whenever anything makes me feel anxious I do something to get rid of it.”
The idea took away the negativity in Dave’s life.
Revolutionizing the Golf Industry
When the idea struck Dave on the tee box at Carmel, he remembered the beauty of the atmosphere and was affected by it.
He thought what if he could bring this feeling to more people? What if he could be the one to bring the feeling of aspiration he felt, in the moment he had the idea to more people?
Dave’s love of golf came to him at an early age when his grandfather took him to golf for the first time. He was hooked. Dave has been a golfer ever since he played his first round of golf as a teenager.
He remembers coming across a golf simulator for the first time about 20 years ago. Golf simulators were always fun because you could play some of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, but the short game was always sorely lacking. It wasn’t the feeling of a real golf experience.
“I’ve always known they’re fun up until a point and then they become boring,” Dave said.
Dave’s idea was revolutionary.
What if he created an indoor golf experience that felt like real golf? What if he was able to capture that moment of aspiration he felt standing on the tee box in Carmel? What if he gave golfers an opportunity to practice their golf game in a way that felt fun?
Before the idea, Dave had not connected the dots to the degree where he was willing to change his life and commit to it.
After the idea, Dave was willing to change his life, but he had to be sure.
“I think all of us have those ideas, but you don’t act on them,” Dave said. “This time I was in the right mindsight where I felt compelled to do more research. In the first four or five months I was trying to talk myself out of doing it.”
“People that don’t golf get more excited about what we’re doing than people who do golf,” Dave said. “And the people that do golf get pretty excited about it.”