Sean Whalen: Leading Like A Lion
Not everyone can pull off an interview from the front seat of a truck, using a cell phone, while smoking a cigar, in a manner that is all-in and more intense than many interviews shot in professional studios. But if you know Sean Whalen, you won’t be surprised to know that he can.
Sean’s hard-hitting and unapologetically blunt approach to all things business is what makes him one of the fastest growing influencers in the personal development space. It’s how he rolls and how he leads, and for every person who takes offense at his approach, dozens more line up to work with him.
Sean Whalen is the founder of several massively successful companies in various industries like apparel and tech.
He’s an investor in other industries like restaurants and CBD. His most well known company today is Lions Not Sheep, which harnesses Sean’s experience, personality, and skills to help members step into the most elite version of themselves.
So how does a little boy whose father excused himself from his life defy the statistics that say he was destined to wind up a colossal failure or menace to society? How does that little boy grow up to pull off such a great underdog success story?
Well for starters, says Sean, his mom never bought into that theory for himself or his brother. “My mom’s my hero,” he says through a smile that turns what could be an imposing face into a warm one as he talks through a puff of cigar smoke.
“Remember who you are,” his mom told Sean every time he left the house. Who he was, was not a broken little boy from a broken home with a father who abandoned his family. Nope.
Who he was, was Sean Mother-F*** Whalen, whose mom was stronger than anyone he knew, and led by example. He was a boy who saw his mom work multiple jobs to provide for her boys, and hit her knees every night to pray. The example she set and the lessons she taught him may have taken time for him to fully process but when the full impact of them set in, he gained an even greater respect for his mother than he’d had before.
“She’s a woman that has inspired and motivated me more than anybody else in my life,” he says.
He even dedicated his book to her.
Sean Whalen’s self-published book, HOW TO MAKE SH*T HAPPEN (Yes that is actually the title) has sold over 140,000 copies. In it, Sean lays it all out there – the good, the bad, and the really ugly parts of his life that molded him into the version of himself that makes him who he is today.
From his meteoric rise to success at a young age, to the blinding explosion of that success crashing and burning, and his painful path to growth and rebuilding, Sean pulls lessons from all of it and puts them in the same raw, blunt manner that he applies to the rest of his work.
“Juggling bowling balls” is how he describes the impossible balancing act he could not sustain. On the outside he had it all: the big house, the expensive cars, the fancy trips and the beautiful family. But the illusion of success often conceals overwhelming chaos, and Sean’s chaos eventually caught up with him. By the time his marriage ended it had dissolved into such disaster that police supervision was required when picking up and dropping off his kids. He’d walked away from his business at the same time.
For 18 months, says Sean, he drowned himself in anger and depression. None of it made sense. Who was he, really? What was he really supposed to be doing with his life? At one point his rage and depression became so powerful, he placed a loaded gun in his mouth and contemplated all the ways the world and himself would be better off if he pulled the trigger.
The two angels on his shoulders battled it out until the angel of hope won the round, and Sean passed into a drunken sleep.
“I’ll never forget the taste of gunpowder and oil,” Sean writes in his book, “I pray you never taste that taste.”
Some people have to reach rock bottom before having that Come-to-Jesus moment that leads to rebuilding themselves and their lives. Others have to punch right through the normal version of bottom to reach a different depth of darkness than most people live to talk about. Only then does the enormity of the moment prompt them to face their pain head on, and make it their bitch.
He was a liar, he realized. He’d been lying to himself and everyone else for years. But he wasn’t going to be a coward, too, so he faced the pain of humbling himself to ask for help, and hired a coach.
Anger was his primary emotion in those days. More than anger- rage drove Sean Whalen. He hated everyone and blamed everything else for his misery. His coach put an end to all of that by pushing Sean to do things he’d never considered a possibility before.
It was not an easy process, or a swift one, but in the end Sean’s will prevailed, and his faith blossomed, and he rebuilt relationships with his children. The ex-wife he would have celebrated being hit by a bus became a friend he cherishes. He became the father he never had for himself, and he stopped trying to present an image of someone he was not.
Who he is today is a proud father, a best friend, a loving son, a patriotic American, and the kind of faithful soul who drops curses into talks seconds after quoting scripture. He is an entrepreneur with an insatiable drive to do more today than he did yesterday, and to lend his own expertise toward teaching others how to do the same.He openly shares his wins and losses, and everything in between with the hundreds of thousands of people who follow him and absorb his content through any of his platforms.
None of it is contrived and all of it comes from the heart of someone who has faced an inner reckoning that left them a stronger version of themselves.
Sean Whalen is determined to turn the insecure rumblings of people who follow their herders like sheep into the roars of people who lead and live like lions.
He believes America is still packed with opportunity, even as it lies under siege by rage-filled hearts.There’s a reason people literally risk their lives to come to this country, because it is without question the dream of the world to have the ability that you and I now have. – Sean WhalenClick To Tweet
That ability is to speak freely, to openly call out our representatives, to step into public office and become the face of change. It is the ability to recognize the flaws in our country while appreciating its strengths. He’s got his own version of the American Dream, himself. He’s got his idea of what this country needs and who he’d like to see lead it. The American Dream, he says, is a powerful thing in spite of today’s chaotic climate.
“Even though we are dealing with a fairly significant oppression from a government and an institution, we have the ability to change that.”
Sean Whalen is doing his part to rise above the rage in this country and be the example of leadership he wants more of. He understands that regardless of who is in office or what crisis sweeps the country, we the people retain our individual power to become leaders and success in our own right, and he’s determined to be a part of that. “I have a vision of making things happen,” he says, “and we have the freedom to do it.”