Fighting Fear with Faith: from Cambodian Refugee to Successful Entrepreneur — Dr. Rob Douk

On this episode of The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes Fang speaks with Dr. Rob Douk, whose resume is extensive and whose story is truly remarkable. Dr. Douk is the founder and chairman of Behavioral Health Works (BHW), co-founder of the global non-profit organization Hope Out Loud, founder of healthcare software company ClinicSoft, and founder of Douk & Co., a growth investment firm focusing on social entrepreneurship. Douk is also an acclaimed author of The Fearless Socialpreneur.

In the podcast, Rob shares his incredible journey from being a refugee to entrepreneur to author to investor. Rob shares the anxieties that he felt as he decided to change life directions and start his own business — a business that has now appeared on the Inc. 5000 list for four consecutive years and currently has 1,500 employees — and, ultimately, describes how he conquered his fears through faith.

The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:

“The timing [of my business launch] didn’t make sense, but there was something in me that knew that I had to do this — that I had to give it a shot… I knew that I just couldn’t turn the other cheek to do what was comfortable for me.”
“As we started getting really big — crossing state lines and launching out of state — I had to learn how to let go.”
“The biggest lesson I learned was learning how to control what you can control… What I can control is learning how to hire the right people and establishing the right processes.”
“We learned that hiring the right people is so important, and when we look at hiring people, we look at three C’s — character, chemistry, and competence — and, really, in that order.”
“After hiring hundreds of people, I’ve learned that if you hire someone who really cares for families and wants to make an impact, whether or not they have the right alphabets by their name, they’re going to show up big the next day.”
“I talk a lot about living a life of more faith than fear because when you’re on the verge of doing anything great, it’s going to be extremely fearful. It’s extremely normal to be afraid, but you can combat that with faith.”
“That’s always been my definition of entrepreneurship — someone who finds and creates a product through finding a human need. For me, it was natural to do it through psychology.”

Key Topics Discussed:

3:33: Rob recounts his early days, from being a Cambodian refugee to becoming his parents’ primary interpreter and assistant at their own small business in Long Beach, CA. 7:43: Rob describes his inspirational (albeit, risky) decision to quit his steady, successful, well-paying job to go back to school to pursue his true passion — psychology.

9:56: Rob expands on his decision to pursue psychology and describes how he wanted to be true to himself. Rob describes how his education helped him discover an area of psychology that was of particular interest, which ultimately drove him to found BHW in 2009.

13:37: Rob tells about the risks of starting his business back in 2009 — how, given the economy and his life situation, starting a business made no sense — but that he “just couldn’t turn the other cheek.”

17:56: Rob details why BHW is filling a gap in the psychology field and emphasizes the importance of establishing processes in order to scale successfully at any-sized business, in any industry.

22:18: Rob describes how hiring the right people is as important as establishing the right processes and how he believes BHW has fostered a culture of excellence with its personnel decisions.

26:40: Rob mentions that, early on, he was tempted to step away from entrepreneurship “every other week” but shares what helped him push through the difficult days.

30:56: Rob shares his vision for BHW and describes his most recent entrepreneurial endeavor — Douk & Co. — which invests money and energy to help small businesses scale successfully.

34:03: Rob wraps up by discussing his latest book and by sharing some critical advice that he wished he would have known at the beginning of his entrepreneurial road.

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