We had the good fortune of connecting with Duncan Kirkwood and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Duncan, what do you attribute your success to?
I found my purpose. Once I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I learned just how powerful it is for my soul to walk in my purpose. I realized that speaking, training, and inspiring people were the things that give me joy and I could make money doing them. After I had that realization, I leaned in. I started committing a lot more of my time to develop my craft, building my networks, and learning how to grow my brand. I worked as hard as I could to develop content and do the foundational work, but I was limited with time because I had to manage my consulting contracts. And then COVID hit, and like everyone else, everything was seemingly shut down. But instead of being broken, I realized that if I stayed in the house and quarantined, I would have extra time to work on my goals. So, I used that extra 3 months locked in the house to build my website, develop content, write my pitch letters, practice my training, etc. I had to take a detour, I had to reroute my plans. I changed my outlook, and it changed my outcome.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My book is a blend of the theory and practice of resilience and self-discovery. When people read Rerouting: Resilience Tools and Tactics, they will learn concrete skills about how to overcome setbacks and deal with adversity. In addition, we will delve into the world of presence and overcoming ego. For people looking to move past the broken norms of our society that keep us insecure and operating almost exclusively out of fear, this book is a game-changer. In the military, it was my job to train Soldiers to become more resilient. It was a great honor, but I also understand now that to truly develop a person’s resilience, they must find their life’s purpose. Everyone can have peace, love, and joy, but they have to do the internal work to create it.
When I was in college, my best friend and the other honor students were abruptly being removed from their dorms by the university to save money. We knew it was wrong, so we led an organizing effort to force the university to change its decision. We organized all of the students from the dorm to write letters, and to show up at the University Presidents’ home with members of the media. Thankfully we won. But more importantly, I learned that when people stand together, we can create change. Once I realized this, it changed the type of jobs that I looked for, the type of impact I wanted to have, and the way I began to value my own voice. It was very difficult to get to a point where I understood I have value. My time has value. My skills are valuable. My knowledge has value. So often we are taught to get a job working for someone, or working for a mission that we believe in. I did that. I have had some great opportunities to work for some dynamic organizations doing some great work. If I could say something to my younger self, I would say that all of the work that you are planning to do for organizations as an employee, you will get paid twice as much to do as a consultant. Figure out what you are great at, and then market it. I heard a quote once, “life is a journey, not a destination.” So, as I reflect on the setbacks I have had, I always just kept moving forward. If I didn’t get one job, I would apply for another. If I didn’t win an election, I found another way to make an impact. The road to success is full of twists and turns, it is part of the journey. When I talk about success, I like to compare it to riding a bike. When you first learn to ride a bike, you know that you are going to fall several times. But because you fall, you are able to eventually find your balance. Don’t sweat the setbacks, and don’t fear failure.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If someone was visiting Buffalo, NY the first thing that must happen is we get some real Buffalo Pizza from La Nova’s. It is a must. After that, we would need to visit Niagara Falls one of the wonders of the world and go ziplining. For nightlife, we would go to downtown Buffalo and spend time on Chippewa street. The next day, we would have to get some doughnuts from Famous Doughnuts and change my friend’s life. Next, we could take a walk around Delaware park which has an amazing walking trail and great vibes. We would need to take some time to visit the Albright Knox Art Gallery and stop by the Buffalo Freedom Wall on Michigan. Finally, we would tailgate at a Buffalo Bills game. Maybe jump through a table like a WWE event, or have a ketchup and mustard fight while chugging a beer. All of that happens at Buffalo Bills games, and we love it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shout out one of my mentors, Samuel Radford. This brother consistently pushes me to grow and stay focused on my goals and to continue to reach higher. It is easy to get pulled into local drama and pettiness, so it is important to have a mentor that continues to remind me of the level of impact I have had and will continue to have.