Dan Flanagan on a Different View of Success and Starting a Revolution

As a part of our quest to champion purpose-driven entrepreneurs across the world here is the story of Dan Flanagan, the first of our Humans of Happy Startups Series.

Dan Flanagan

Founder of Tot Rockin’ Beats, writer at Don’t Believe The Hype

Tell me about your path into entrepreneurship, Dan.

If like me, you are a parent to small people, you’ll understand that it seems like 99.9% of our lives revolve around juggling tantrums and desperately trying to erase the ‘Peppa Pig’ theme tune from burning ever deeper holes in your psyche.

Almost overnight we’ve swapped doing ‘The Running Man’ for ‘Doing The School Run’.

We’ve grown up and sold out.

The vinyl got packed away, and the dancing shoes have become comfortable plimsolls for stumbling around the garden.

Now the only E’s being dropped are the numbers from your child’s organic juice.

We want to go to on a night out, but they take almost military planning. They cost a fortune and take heaps of ‘begging the babysitter’ favour pulling-in.

You come to realise that most of the time it’s easier just to have people round, or not go out at all. Instead, you just sit and watch other people’s lives happen on Facebook.

I got to thinking:

What if I could put on an event that combined everything I loved and answered some of those problems?

So as part of my wider business, ‘The World’s First Agency Of Dad’. I’ve created TotRockinBeats, a series of family-friendly afternoon raves.

Its aim is to put families on the dance floor and babysitters out of business.

It looks like this when 500 people come together.

That video is awesome. How is it you’ll measure whether it’s all been a success?

When I quit my job last September, I wanted to start a revolution.

At the time, I had absolutely no idea what that was going to look like. I just knew that I wanted my new job title to be ‘World Changer’. The world I was changing was mine.

Up until last year, my view of ‘success’ was pretty traditional. The salary, the big brands on the CV, the swanky offices and all the bullshit that goes with it.

I realise now my view was skewed, to say the least.

I now judge my success, not by the money I have in the bank but by the effect I can have on other people’s lives.

That can be from the people that have read my blog and have been inspired to start writing themselves or quit a job they’ve hated.

Or seeing the genuine smiles on the face of the dad, with the toddler on his shoulders, dancing manically to ‘The Beastie Boys’ at TotRockinBeats.

I think the best measure of success I have is that the kids in my son’s class all know my name. Nowadays, I am around to play with them after school rather than being a stressed-out, Saturday dad, who needs to use the money to buy affection. The best investment you can give your kids is your time.

You quit your job not long ago. Tell me more about that.

Quitting my job was the best thing I ever did. By making that leap, I’ve been able to take the pressure of off my wife, whom for many years sacrificed her career aspirations to support mine. I have now been able to help her in some quite unexpected ways.

Had I been in my old life I wouldn’t…

  • have been in that coffee shop on a nondescript weekday morning
  • spotted the man with the friendly face, in the corner, looking a little lonely.
  • sat down and talked to him and heard his story about being working in the front-line of children’s services in the inner cities.
  • heard his dream of wanting to cut away the red tape and offer child-centric services so that kids caught in the system can find loving homes.
  • And most importantly I wouldn’t have told him that he really should meet my wife.

Now, a few months later, due to that twist of fate, my wife has quit her job, eliminated her commute and is working alongside him in a brand new role that she was born to do.

This, ultimately, will help make the mixed up worlds’ of some ‘looked after kids’‘ from within my community a much better place.

That is something worth celebrating.

The universe has a strange way of turning up the volume on great opportunities, once you have cut out the crap and are brave enough to make the change.

Is there anything you feel holds you back from your goals?

I am still figuring out what my goals exactly look like. My life has changed so dramatically in the last twelve months, that I am constantly refining what I am going to be doing. My biggest fear is public speaking, but the more I tell my story, the more the confidence is growing.

What three things make you feel really good?

  • Being able to take my son to school every day and then take a walk/cycle down to the beach and realising ‘Shit, this is now part of my regular life.’
  • Seeing the faces of the families on the dancefloor at Tot Rockin Beats ‘Aving’ it large.’
  • Remembering the time I talked to a stranger, for no reason apart from he looked a little lonely. And that I really should do more of that kind of thing.

At The Happy Startup School we’re helping people like Dan build startups to give them more flexibility and time with the people they care about. If you enjoyed this post, please click that little green heart!