ForCollegeForLife Ep 7: Dan Faill


Casey Cornelius (00:03):

Hi everyone. And thanks for joining the latest episode of the four college for life podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius. I am the founder and president for college for life, and I love bringing you these episodes with our speakers and consultants, letting you get to know a little bit more about them and their journey and their signature work. It’s always a thrill for me. And what’s cool is in the process, even though I’ve known some of these folks for years and years, I still learn something new about them also. So I I’m so glad that you’re joining. Thank you for spending some of your time with us. Let me tell you a little bit about today’s guest. Dan fail likes to make the uncomfortable, more relatable using his humor and stories to create a deeper connection with audiences. He believes it’s time for us to be brave enough to have the conversations that matter a little list for you over involve student leader, fraternity member, orientation, leader, chapter president tour guide, imposter, sexual assault survivor.

Casey Cornelius (01:04):

These are just a few of the title Stan had during his time in college. Now as an accomplished storyteller and international speaker, Dan incorporates his own lived experiences. In addition to industry proven research to craft, engaging and memorable experiences for student audiences, having worked for 15 years on college campuses, advocating for safer and positive student experiences. Dan now travels the country as a full-time speaker and consultant engaging audiences in hard but needed conversation. Dan shares personal stories that engage and inspire us to be authentic selves and be brave enough to have the conversations that matter without any further ado. Let me bring to the mic, Dan fail. Dan, what a powerful bio, a powerful intro.

Dan Faill (01:49):


Casey Cornelius (01:50):

Thank you. Brave enough to that’s a brave enough to have conversations that

Dan Faill (01:55):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative>.

Casey Cornelius (01:56):

Yeah. Tell me, tell me a little bit more about where that mindset comes from.

Dan Faill (02:00):

Oh, Casey. I mean, all right. Let’s think about it. How many times a day do we throw away conversations? Hey, what’s going on? I’m good. I’m fine. I’m just busy. All right, cool. And then we just <laugh> we just kinda like, there we go. That was it. And so I think too often we just don’t invest in conversations, even with the people that we’re closest to friends, family loved ones, whatever that might be. And especially those, you know, friends and colleagues that we might not see that often. I think we just kind of catch up and we don’t really actually talk life. And so when I say like the conversations that matter, I think that there’s a lot of conversations that we are not having. And whether that’s around how to even have a conversation or the like scary stuff, like vulnerability or masculinity or sexual violence prevention, right. Like all of a sudden we’ve, we’ve taken these subjects and made them so almost like unable to really fully talk about or discuss because we’ve lost the ability to nuance conversations with each other. So I want to have conversations that actually matter, and I’ll be honest. I still struggle with it. I still want to like curl up in fetal position and not be like, I don’t want, I don’t want to people today. <Laugh> yeah. Anything that that’s fine, but yeah, I think we need to have those conversations more.

Casey Cornelius (03:25):

Well, first of all, I, I appreciate you peopling, like now, like for, for this, this interview, even if today’s one of those days, but I, I guess the word that strikes me in this stand and I, I think I would, I would affirm that this is a, a word that is applicable to you. Of course is brave. I, I think a lot of the things that you talk about as you mentioned are ones that often people shy away from, or it feels like there’s vulnerability, but then there’s also transparency. And maybe it’s beyond that line of which people could be, you know, comfortable being vulnerable.

Dan Faill (04:00):

<Affirmative>, mhmm

Casey Cornelius (04:01):

You, but you go there and I think your, your bio kind of talks about it. Can we, can we hit some of these things just a little bit from your bio?

Dan Faill (04:07):

Let’s go all in I’m here.

Casey Cornelius (04:09):

All right. Well, let’s start with some of the easier ones. So you, you talk about being an over-involved student leader, fraternity member, orientation leader, chapter president, tour guide. Tell me a little bit about that collegiate experience. It sounds like you were, you were juggling a whole bunch of things at once.

Dan Faill (04:24):

Oh, for sure. I think, you know, I was definitely one of those student leaders that you know, when you had the email account, had the novella of involvement as the signature.

Dan Faill (04:38):

You know, and, and I remember having a boss shortly after grad school who asked me and this one kind of like helped me shift what I became involved in. She said, are you over committed to too many things? Or are you under committed to too few?

Casey Cornelius (04:54):


Dan Faill (04:55):

And I remember thinking, oh, that one, that one hurts. <Laugh> like, cause I was involved in a lot of things. And, but how involved are you really, if you’ve spread your attention so far. And so in college, I think we’re always told, get involved, go do all of this, all the things. And, and I was one of those, you know, at the involvement fair first week of school, which is extrovert’s dream and an introvert’s nightmare. And I’m, I’m going around, signing up for all the things. Ping pong club, bet, Marine biology society. I like the aquarium. Sure. And so I just put my name on a lot. And I remember and I’ll try to go through this briefly, but I remember the first few weeks of school, I knew that I wanted to meet people, women, and I knew that I wanted to be pretty social go to parties. And so <laugh> so like, I was like, well, what’s the best way to do that fraternity. And I, I pledge a fraternity that was the, you know, like they were seen as the leaders on campus. They were seen as the pop. They were 100% social capital mm-hmm <affirmative> the popular group on campus. And like three weeks later, not, I don’t even know if it was three weeks. Might’ve been two weeks later. I was like, oh, this was not the right group for me. <Laugh> and so I ended up so dropping out. Yeah.

Dan Faill (06:08):

Okay. Okay. I did see again, one of these things that I didn’t know. So the group that you initially had chosen to join you, then a few weeks into it said, this is the bad fit for me. Yeah. And so I, because I remember the first pledge class meeting, there were 18 of us. And so it was kinda like go around, introduce yourself. And they’re like, Alrighty, buddy, like, introduce yourself. What’s your name? Where you from? And what position in sport did you play in high school? And I remember thinking, holy crap, I’m in trouble because I might be six, two. And at the time I was a nice one, 80 <laugh>, but your boy didn’t play sports. Right? Like I came from high school where I was the mascot for three years. Right. So going into this popular group that that’s literally how we’re introducing ourselves to each other.

Dan Faill (06:55):

So we go around, everyone’s introducing, I played baseball, played football, played this, that was wrestling. We get to meet and I’m 17 of 18 to go. Right. and so I’m like, Hey everybody, my name’s Dan, you know, I went to high school in Davey county. Don’t really play sports. I was in, I was in theater for four years, so I can act like I play sports and that’s, well, it went over, that’s a hundred percent how well it went over <laugh> yeah. It was gonna like crickets in the room. And I was like, okay, this is where we’re at. And then later in that meeting, they brought out all their intermural trophies and they were like, this is what it means to be a member, da, da, da. And I was like, the heck did I just sign up for, and so I remember just feeling out of place almost immediately.

Dan Faill (07:38):

And a couple weeks later it was just kind of reaffirmed over time. Whether I was like, Hey, so when can I, you know, like I wanna run for a leadership position, when is that? Well, we would deserve it for seniors only. I’m like, well, that’s pretty close-minded. Mm mm-hmm <affirmative> and so there was just some of those pieces that just didn’t sit well, and I felt very outta place. So yeah, I kind of talked to the president and talked to the pledge class president as well, and was just kinda like y’all, I’m, I’m, I’m good. I’m out. No, you know, no harm, no foul much love and respect, but this is just not who I am. And I remember having a couple of my friends coming up afterwards and they were like, thank God you dropped that group because we never saw you as a member there.

Dan Faill (08:16):

Like, it was just too, like, you know, a pardon, the expression, but too fratty for you. And I was like, Hmm, interesting. And then my roommate came home one day and he was like, Hey man, I gotta bid from this one group. We gotta check it out. And I was like, no, I’m good. I really don’t want to. He goes, oh, come on. It’s a brand new group, founding father opportunity, da, da, da. And my roommate was awkward. I’d love this kid since high school. But super awkward. And I was like, you know, what, if they’re gonna give the you a bid, I gotta check this out. <Laugh> I gotta check it out. And I’m glad that I did, you know, there are a couple other people from high school, so it kind of felt like a home away from home, but then the group was just so eclectic as most founding father groups are correct. Right. And that’s where I made my home for four years. You know,

Casey Cornelius (09:01):

As you’re telling that story, I I’m thinking about the students who are, are joining organizations this year and those who know in the back of their mind, you know, a, a weekend, two weeks in, this is not a fit for me, but they don’t reverse course mm-hmm <affirmative> like, and, and I think, you know, you and I have been around long enough and, and seen this when we talk about, you know, burnout, we talk about lack of engagement and so forth. We often overlook that group of people who are just in the wrong bus. Oh, for sure. Like they they’re, they’re just, they’re just on the wrong train. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like they don’t belong. What do you think the, I mean, I’m asking you to, to get philosophical here, but like, what do you think the answer is? Do you think, it’s almost saying like, Hey, you know, get out of organization free. You can join whichever one you want. Like what what’s, what’s the answer to that?

Dan Faill (09:52):

Right. I think it can be stemmed from a lot of things. I, part of it is we don’t wanna upset people at our own, you know, peril. Right. Right. Like we don’t wanna be like, oh, I don’t want to be an awkward situ I don’t wanna have an awkward combo. Y’all let’s have the awkward combo. This is not the organization. I thought it was, I’d like a do over please. But usually it’s like, oh, well you’ve already pledged one group. We’re gonna write you off. And you’re not allowed to do any other ones. Yeah. I think I would’ve joined. I mean, had I, you know, known more or had it been more prominent, I might have joined an NPHC organization. Because you know, I’m a big, I’m a big proponent of lifelong membership. I value service and activism. Now granted, I value that more now, as I’m more chronologically enhanced than I was.

Dan Faill (10:39):

Yes. <Laugh> yes. At 17 going to college, but at the same time, I think that that speaks more to my own entrepreneurial and activism spirit than, than others. But we just kind of say like, Nope, once you’re in, you’re in. And I think, I think we’re not giving permission for people to change their minds. Right? Like we’re holding, you know, not to get super political, but like we hold politicians to stuff. They said 30 years ago, which I get, but opinions can change. And I think that can kind of boils back to the conversations that matter. I would much rather have a conversation with someone who’s open to different points of view and is able to process information. Like I change my mind a lot and that’s okay. I like to consider myself as someone who surrounds himself with very smart people. And so if I’m not being challenged, am I really even growing as a human?

Dan Faill (11:31):

And I think for those students who realize that, Hmm, this was not the right decision for me, or it filled a need for my freshman year and now I’m good. And I want something different. That’s okay. I mean, and again, having served as a former fraternity sorority advisor on a campus for over a decade, I helped people get of their organization. I would help them sign the paperwork and to have the conversations with their leadership to be like, this isn’t what I want anymore. And it would, it would be unfortunate because it’s those people who don’t wanna lose. But they just, yeah. You know, they almost kind of a Marie condo fraternity sorority from their life. Like this no longer brings me joy. It’s become the same repeated stuff year in and year out of just some, some petty, some social, some this, or, and they’re just not getting the same meaning from it. So yeah, I, I would love for there to be a, a chance to try out other organizations. Cause I think that you’d find better member retention over the course of not just for the four years, but over the course potentially of the rest of their lives.

Casey Cornelius (12:36):

I think that’s, it’s such an interesting point. One of the things and, and for those who aren’t necessarily familiar with fraternity and sorority typically when one becomes what’s called an associate member or, or signs a bid for an organization, if you go through the, the new member process and, and become a member of that organization, you’re typically affiliated with that organization not to be hyperbolic, but, but for life. Right. So you can’t typically then just jump to another at another, at another, but what’s interesting. Dan and I both being proud fraternity members, there, there is a, a thing that happens from time to time when, when we all get to sit around tables, especially those who are of different affiliations will play the game. If not for my organization, <laugh> what organization would you want to be a member of?

Casey Cornelius (13:22):

And, and I think that that’s I think it’s interesting because it reflects what you’re talking about in terms of like age and stage, right? Like maybe this was the best organization for you at age 18, 19 mm-hmm <affirmative>, or maybe your campus didn’t have the organization that actually would’ve been the perfect fit for you. And I’m, I’m not saying you specifically, but you know, we, we are limited in some ways by our geography and our chronology and all those totally kinda things, but it’s really interesting for me to hear that you, you were able to recognize it early and, and make the switch. Now I, I did on a completely personal note. I wanted to say this, you could not have known this, but it is on my bucket list to one day, be a mascot.

Dan Faill (14:11):

I’m not your mouth.

Casey Cornelius (14:13):

I’m serious. I, I so desperately want to be a mascot for something and play Santa Claus. I wanna do those two things before my days are done.

Dan Faill (14:25):

Well, having seen you do your beard, I think that that’s, that’s, that’s in your future for sure. <Laugh> yeah, I will let you know. I think that’s one of the reasons I stayed tall and skinny for a majority of high school is the amount of, of heat and sweat associated in that mascot uniform. And we were the war Eagles in Davey county and that thing was, was

Casey Cornelius (14:46):


Dan Faill (14:47):

Warm. Yeah. A lot of heat.

Casey Cornelius (14:50):

Yeah. I, I, I, so I live in Michigan. I, I think I’m gonna, I think I’m gonna stick with like a fall evening in Michigan. <Laugh> I think you’ll be all right. I think I’ll be all right. I think you’ll be alright, Dan, I wanna talk about the, the, the next title on your list and, and that is imposter. And I know that you’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of work on imposter syndrome. And I just hope maybe you could talk a little bit about where one, that title for you comes from the two, the way that your feelings and, and thoughts on it has evolved over time.

Dan Faill (15:20):

Yeah. you know, what’s funny is that, and I’m, I’m glad that the concept of imposter syndrome is becoming more talked about, because I think a majority of people feel it at some point in their, their realm of life, but few people are able to articulate what that feeling is. The irony around imposter syndrome. And I was actually just on a, a podcast last week about this, where we talked about it and, and she’s a, a psychologist and she was just like, it’s not diagnosable, right? Like imposter syndrome is not possible to be diagnosed because it is not as actual syndrome. It’s a collection of feelings. Right. And that in those feelings, while similar show up differently in every single person, which is kind of why it’s hard to study, because there’s not just like a thing, right? Like it’s not like an ADHD thing where it’s like diagnosable in that context,

Casey Cornelius (16:16):

You’ve got three, these three symptoms are symptom.

Dan Faill (16:19):

Exactly. Right. And so, and I think the, the more that I continue to read and the more that I continue to kind of dive into it you know, there’s one study that says that 70% of people in the, in the us have had imposter syndrome at some point in their life, I would actually PO it to say that everyone has some sense of that feeling. We just didn’t know what to call it. <Laugh>

Casey Cornelius (16:43):


Dan Faill (16:44):

Yeah. Right. Maybe you were hired for a job and it’s like, oh God, what if they figure out I’m not the right person for this job? Or, you know, you’ve, you’ve now been elected the leader of either a local organization or even your, your, you know, in college for your own, you know, fraternity, sorority, or student org. Oh gosh. What if they find out I have no clue what I’m doing. Hey, fun fact, everyone listening, most of us have no clue what we’re doing. <Laugh>, it’s just our ability to actually talk about it and share those feelings that make us feel not as alone because that concept of imposter syndrome makes us feel like we’re the only ones experiencing that set of different emotions

Casey Cornelius (17:24):

For me, Dan I, I can vividly remember an undergraduate experience of imposter syndrome and, and I often share this story. And what’s funny is people who have had the similar title of understand completely what I’m talking about. I remember walking in the first day of resident advisor training and thinking, how on earth one did I get chosen for this job? Two, they’re gonna find out that I don’t know what I’m doing. And three I’m supposed to look out for 25. Other Stu like are yous because I was just there yet. Like, I was just one of those students that felt like yesterday, and now somehow I’m supposed to lead them and I get paid to do this. And it’s, what’s funny is that there’s almost this, I don’t know, like common thread among RAs that, that they kind of go through this feeling of like, I don’t know what I’m doing. And the first time there’s a fire or a fire drill, or like hazmats, or, or whatever it is, someone’s, someone’s gonna figure this out. Do you remember like a, like a salient moment where you’re like, oh, I, I don’t, I don’t belong here or they’re all going to know that, that I don’t know what I’m doing

Dan Faill (18:38):

Many a time. Right. Many different times whether I’m walking backwards, giving a tour as the campus tour guide. Yeah. And like, someone would ask me a question and I would be like, oh gosh, I’m gonna make up something. <Laugh> just to make it seem

Casey Cornelius (18:50):

Like they’ll never know. They’ll never know. Yeah.

Dan Faill (18:54):

Anything when I was, cause I was elected president of my organization at the end of my sophomore year. And so that I think I had the ego as opposed to confidence to lead. And, and that I think was a bit of a detriment cuz I was like, well, this is how I’m gonna lead and I’m gonna do it with this and that and the other. And, and I didn’t lead with humility. And I think in, in some of those moments, rather than disclosing to all of my, you know, friends that I called brothers rather than disclosing, like I’m really struggling with being a leader right now for y’all. I, I drove away. I mean, I had three different vice presidents during my tenure as president and rather than just being like, they can’t handle it. I <laugh> I’m I look back and I’m like, Ooh,

Casey Cornelius (19:38):

Maybe it was me. There

Dan Faill (19:39):

Was some, there was some learning that could have happened there. <Laugh>

Casey Cornelius (19:42):

Yeah. Yeah. So, so I know one of the things and you could tell me how, how closely related this is that, that you, you talk about a lot is, is the concept of failure. And I know that your standard joke is like with a name, like mind, you better talk about failure every once in a while, but like, like are, is imposter syndrome and failure. Are they, are they close relatives? Are they distant relatives? Like how do you, how do you reconcile those two?

Dan Faill (20:12):

I would say that they are close relatives. I, I think that the concept of imposter syndrome and the concept of failure, the reason that both feel so scary is because we’re not talking about ’em, we’re not vulnerable enough to share when we feel that way. Both either like a failure or like an imposter. So yeah, I mean like, yes, the running joke, you know, with our last name, like fail, if you become a speaker and don’t talk about it, that’s a missed opportunity. But also like when you grow up with the last name, fail, it gives you a little bit of grit over the course of the years. Yeah. Whether that’s professors or friends or whomever, just, I hope you don’t fail the class. Like, oh my gosh, I’ve heard it so many times. But I think that concept has gotten me able to talk about it because I introduced myself as Dan fail and people often look at me like, wait, is that your, for real last name? I’m like, it’s not a euphemism. It’s my actual last name. And, and people are uncomfortable around it.

Casey Cornelius (21:10):

They’re so

Dan Faill (21:10):

Uncomfortable with the name fail that I have had people pronounce it FA ill.

Casey Cornelius (21:15):


Dan Faill (21:16):

<Laugh> I’m like, Nope,

Casey Cornelius (21:18):

It’s two LS.

Dan Faill (21:19):

Yeah. I’m like, Nope, it’s fail. Like to flunk. And people are like, oh, and then they give this like, oh gosh, I’m so sorry. Look. But, but I think on, on my end, the reason that I’m okay talking about it is because number, yes, I grew up with the last name because I’ve had to say that word so much, fail, Dan, fail, fail fails. The last name, how do you spell it? F a I L L two LS, cuz I’ll go twice as hard at failure. You know like, but like being able to talk about failure means we’ve gotta be able to share our own failures similar to imposter syndrome, share when you’re feeling it. And I think you’ll find you’re not alone. Share your failures and people will not, not only will you learn, but others will learn from you and with you. And I think that’s a great opportunity that we are, we miss all the time.

Casey Cornelius (22:09):

One of the things that I know you and I have in common is, is our work on, on men, in masculinity and what I have found over the years. And I’m gonna guess that you have two, is that when you talk to, to men, especially younger men about their fears, first of all, the standard response at first is I’m not afraid of anything. Like I always love that response. Cause then we can dig a little deeper. But when, when there’s open transparency and honesty about fear, it seems almost universally that failure is if not at the very top of the list, really, really close to the top of the list.

Dan Faill (22:46):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative>

Casey Cornelius (22:47):

It. If that’s true, like what do you, what do you say? Especially to young men, but not only to young men of course, but what, what do you say to them about how to just deal with failure as inevitable?

Dan Faill (23:02):

And this is what I do with, with any of the, the keynotes, whether that be for professional organizations, students, or, you know, whatever across the nation or world we’ve all failed multiple countless times, hundreds of thousands of times, we’ve all failed. None of us were, you know, born with the ability to, to walk or run or write or read. We’ve all struggled through it and learned how to do it. You know, we’ve had our bruises, we’ve gotten back up. And so being able to learn over time has, has gotten us to where we are. And, and so if you can view failure as the, you know, those little moments that are, are great little either life lessons or just whoopsy daisies <laugh> I think mm-hmm <affirmative>, those are ways that we can talk about it to make it not as scary. Right. I hit the snooze button this morning.

Dan Faill (23:52):

Did I fail at waking up on time? Yep. <Laugh> right. But that’s, that’s not, I think we’ve all right. Like I say, that I’ll go to the gym. Do I? Nope. <laugh> so like there’s moments. I bought a jump rope at the start of the pandemic. Guess what’s still chilling. <Laugh> on my wall that I can, this is the jump rope that’s been there collecting this quite nice dust chain, right? Like we’ve all failed and we continue to do so it’s now the mindset of, well, what are we either going to do about it? Or how are we going to share it and talk about it? I think there’s so many different ways that we can view it as it’s not the end all be all it doesn’t. I, it will not. I oh gosh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Define is that there it is.

Dan Faill (24:40):

I was gonna say identity, but that’s it’s it does not define your identity for the rest of your life, unless it’s your last name. But I think knowing that there’s opportunities galore because as soon as kind of, you mentioned it, as soon as we create that safe space for brave space for people to talk about, they start to open up. Yeah. And that’s where, you know, we create the iceberg moments of the, you know, Hey, how’s your day, that’s the top of the iceberg, right? Like, Hey, how’s the weather, what’s the game. How do the blah, blah, blah, whatever. That’s the throwaway conversations. Everyone can see that everyone can participate in that, but the really cool opportunities and failures and lessons and connections and relationships happen below the surface. And so how do we create those iceberg moments that we can discuss below the surface things that will really, gosh, I mean, just break down so many different barriers that, that we’ve put up. And, you know, I, I

Casey Cornelius (25:42):

Know, I know one of your programs related to imposter syndrome is, is called all lies on me.

Dan Faill (25:48):

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> is, is one of the lies that

Casey Cornelius (25:50):

We’re not allowed to fail like that great leaders don’t fail or strong people don’t feel like is that one of the laws

Dan Faill (25:56):

It is right. And, and it’s kind of like the, well, I’m not successful. Well, who defines success. Mm. Right. In your own narrative who defines that? And just to use a, a quick example. Right. So at the, at the beginning of the, the pandemic, right. So here we are it’s it’s March 20, 22. I live in Los Angeles where we, you know, they, we like, we clamp down quick when the pandemic happened. So in the span of two weeks, I lost 70% of my, my clients. Yeah. You know, my, my engagements. Yeah. And I spent the better part of 20, 20 curled up in fetal position. Yeah. Warning my, my standard life cuz when you’re a public speaker and there is no public that you’re allowed to go visit you question a lot of your own self worth and identity. And so what took me honest to goodness, the better part of 2020 to really shift my mindset and get through is that it’s not that I wasn’t being productive.

Dan Faill (26:55):

I was actually still very productive in the midst of the pandemic. I wrote a couple of different curriculums for organizations and I, you know, doing some consulting work and curriculum work in that department as well. But I was comparing myself to a lot of other people. I look at that speaker who’s just transitioned incredibly well to virtual. I don’t like virtual. I turns out I do like virtual <laugh>. Right. But right. It’s that narrative that I kept telling myself of, well, this isn’t, this, this isn’t this well, here’s the, you know, the secret sauce I was having a lot of little wins, right. Lowercase wins. But I was trying to find the, you know, the, the capital w I N S or the all caps, the shift, you know, the caps lock right. Wins. But fun fact when is spelled the exact same way.

Dan Faill (27:44):

So as soon as I started to recognize for me that like I was having a lot of daily wins and I actually have a note in my phone, in, in the little notepad that I update every day. And it’s like, what were my daily wins today? So recording this with you will go on my daily wins today, getting my kids to school on time before the bell, boom, that’s a big man, big win. All the parents listen to this like big win for us. <Laugh> so like, but what are those like wins because it, it’s not like while I, I wrote the next chapter of my book, I, I struggle with that personally. So did I set aside 10 minutes to write productively? Yes. Did I get an article published? Yes. And I think those little wins for us can continue to add up. So that for me two years ago, three years ago, whatever now I didn’t feel deflated. I was now able to define my own success and that has helped me in that mindset of not feeling like an imposter, but then also not feeling like a day to day failure. And that has been truly helpful.

Casey Cornelius (28:46):

I love that so much. I, I, I really, really do. I, I think you know, anybody who does, what, what we do remembers March, 2020 it’s, it’s funny that you refer to it as a period of fetal position. I was in that same fetal position. I, I, I, I think this is probably a statement that everybody makes throughout time. I wish I would’ve known then what I know now, which is, it was a tremendous opportunity to learn new things because there really was no other choice. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> like, like you, I, I, I didn’t think I liked virtual. I, I didn’t think anybody would enjoy virtual. I didn’t think anybody would get good at virtual. And the truth is, boy, it, it forced us to flex some muscles. We didn’t even know we had. Right. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>,

Dan Faill (29:32):

Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> because to see some, some speakers and coaches and to see some just lean in and, and almost blossom. Yeah. That has been so cool. And, and then to even say like, oh no, like we can do this virtually it’s it’s possible. And, and that mindset of, well, in order to impact people, I have to be in front of them. Well, you are in front of them, just in a virtual setting on zoom, right? Like, it’s not like zoom is a brand new thing that has existed or FaceTime or any, right. Like, it’s not like these technologies are brand new that were developed in the last couple of years. Like they’ve been around, they’ve just now been fully utilized in, in their own potential, which as Jesus is about the sound. So bear with me, imagine what we are, you know, capable of once we tap into some of our own potential, that’s a cool spot. And

Casey Cornelius (30:24):

I’m gonna get nerdy for just a second. I mean, I think that there’s even some, some topics that we talk about you and I, other, other members of our team that we talk about that I hope no one gets real bad at me for saying this, but might even be better virtually because the audience is able to approach it in a more safe way. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> from, from, you know, wherever they are in the moment, as opposed to being in the lecture theater at 7:00 PM and having to talk about these really deep topics. And I, I would be Remis Dan, if, if I didn’t, if I didn’t go to a, a deep topic that, that you talk about as well you know, one of the titles that’s in your, in your bio is sexual assault survivor mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I, I, I guess I, I want to turn it over to you and, and if you would share as much of, of that in that experience, and also the work that you do on sexual assault prevention, mm-hmm <affirmative> for campuses and organizations across the country.

Dan Faill (31:26):

Yeah. well, and, and thanks for that. I think, you know, share a little bit about that’s you’re asking a keynote speaker to share a little bit I

Casey Cornelius (31:36):

Know, I know

Dan Faill (31:37):

That’s a 75 minute keynote, Casey. I know. No, I think, okay. So brief overview. One night in college, I got blacked out drunk, apparently gave consent and was informed about it at a later date to which I didn’t know. If she had no idea that I was blackout drunk she recounted the whole evening to me and I was like, well, all of that tracks. And so that’s, I would say I’m a, I’m a survivor in the sense that yes, I, I could not give consent. I was not able to legally give consent. But I’m also, you know, there’s a, a, a small percentage of people who, you know, get so drunk that they’re actually considered a functional blackout. Well, that I’m one of those people that you might never know that I’m not creating memories or keeping memories at that time that the, the encoding and transferring and coding process isn’t working in my brain because I’ve had so much to drink.

Dan Faill (32:36):

However, I’m still fully functional. Right. I’m not slurring my words. I’m not talking in cursive. Right. Like I’m, I’m, I’m carrying on like the regular day to day. And so I think for me, once I put two and two together, and once the evening was recounted for me it reframed a lot for me. The, what I share in my keynote is that I didn’t know who to talk to here. I had roommates who, you know, that I could have talked to. I had, you know, women in sororities. I had guys in my own fraternity, I had people across campus. There were campus counselors that I could have talked to, but they, I didn’t know how to talk to anyone. I was afraid that my friends were gonna gimme a high five for not for having sex and not, I was gonna ask.

Dan Faill (33:20):

Yeah. you know, so there was a lot of, of shame around it. And I didn’t, I didn’t know that I would consider myself, or I didn’t know that I could call myself a survivor at the time. And through grad school and through some, some additional advocacy work I, I kind of put two and two together. And those that have known me for quite some time have known that I’ve never wanted to be a sexual assault prevention speaker. Like this has never been that realm. I’ve told others, like, please don’t, <laugh> like, it’s okay to book me in April, but please don’t like, don’t refer to me as a sexual assault prevention speaker. Just because again, maybe that’s a little bit of imposter syndrome in my own life. Yeah. I was gonna ask that, yeah. Oh, a hundred percent.

Dan Faill (34:07):

Right. Like, and, and it is and it, this keynote that a night to forget keynote around the intersection of alcohol and consent and what that looks like has become one of my absolute favorites to deliver. And a lot of that stems from how it’s received both virtually and in person, how it’s been received over the years. Cause I’ve probably been delivering this keynote specifically for about, I don’t know, maybe seven, eight years now. And it’s, I refreshing is not the right word, but it’s reassuring that when students come up to me afterwards and they’re like, Hey, my friend is you, how do I help them? Or, Hey, I had something similar happen to me. I appreciate it. I actually had a, a woman reach out to me from an engagement list this last month that said, Hey, I, I went to take back the night because you know, like you had mentioned it was happening at your keynote.

Dan Faill (35:02):

And so I went to take back the night on my campus and, and shared with one friend why I was going as a survivor and turn, come to find out, my friend is also a survivor and now we feel more connected on a deeper level. And, and she was like, I just wanna thank you for that. Like that. I mean, CA like Casey, that’s, that’s, that’s why I will continue to speak around this subject because I feel like the approach that I take is a little more non-traditional maybe than other speakers in the sexual violence prevention world. Because I do talk more about the culture and I talk more about blackouts and what alcohol does and how we can talk about consent as opposed to being on a soapbox of just like, well, just don’t rape and that’ll solve all the problems. And it’s, it’s so much more nuanced and complex than that. And students are kind of over the abstinence conversation. They never liked it to begin with.

Casey Cornelius (35:57):

Yeah. I was gonna say if they, if they ever,

Dan Faill (35:59):

Yeah, right. Like if they ever, we already know we have data from 30 years or whatever, that abstinence education doesn’t work. And so by telling students that like, well, you can’t give consent. If you had to drop of alcohol, I can understand campus policy. Or although I still don’t understand that if that’s the policy, but I do think that philosophically, we can have more conversations. And that was one of my favorite games to play when I was a fraternity sorority advisor is like, hypothetically speaking <laugh>. And so I think we need to have more of those opportunities of the non-judgment open the door. Here’s where we’re at. Let’s really have a good conversation around this,

Casey Cornelius (36:35):

For those who are listening to this podcast and maybe have not been familiar with Dan’s work. I, I think, I think what you’re hearing reflected in all of these topics is that Dan is talking about things that otherwise might not be, or might not be in the way in which he does it. So, so if he says <laugh> helping people be brave enough to have the conversations that matter, it’s almost like helping people know that it’s okay to even start these conversations.

Dan Faill (37:05):

Totally. If,

Casey Cornelius (37:06):

If you wanna learn more about his work, like shameless plug for culture, keynote programs, but also consultation work and stuff like that. You know, on, on the back end of this, when, when I get to, to chat with clients and so forth, and I ask him how everything went with an event with Dan, they always reflect his ability to make it okay for people to talk about things. And I think that that is man, if you have a superpower, that’s your superpower

Dan Faill (37:33):

<Laugh> well, so what’s funny is in my friend group, we all gave each other. Nicknames is mine and mine is inner monologue. Cuz I’m gonna say what’s on everyone’s mind, somewhat shamelessly. And just because I, I do think the more that we can call stuff out, the more that we can actually talk about it,

Casey Cornelius (37:49):

For sure. And, and, and sometimes it’s just, just starting, right? Mm-Hmm <affirmative>,

Dan Faill (37:55):

It doesn’t have to be perfect. We can fumble through it. That’s one of the things that I’ve really started to do. And you know, with the consulting work, I have a friend of mine who has a, a D E I J company around education consulting. And, and that has been so fun to show up and help with the anti-racist facilitator trainings. And some of that, cuz people are like, wait, you’re a white dude. Are you allowed to talk about this? And I’m like, look, most of this work is just showing up. Yeah. Everything else falls into place. Once you show up to have those conversations

Casey Cornelius (38:26):

And a, a, a mutual friend of ours who are remain nameless would probably remind me that sometimes it is the white dudes who need to show up to these conversations most because mm-hmm, <affirmative> often, we’re the ones causing the problem to begin with. Okay. Let’s let’s maybe get outta that’s a whole nother podcast. I know. I know. Round two, we’ll do it. Let’s get outta here on some, some little lighter questions. Would that be all right with you

Dan Faill (38:48):

Dan? Go for it. Sure thing.

Casey Cornelius (38:50):

All right. Cool. So hypothetically speaking, if you had an entire day to binge watch anything you want, what would you choose? Oh

Dan Faill (38:58):

Gosh. Oh gosh. Oh no.

Casey Cornelius (39:00):

Okay. Full transparency. I asked Dan before we hit record, I said, do you wanna know the five questions? He said, Nope, Nope. Let’s do him on the fly. So here we go. Do him on the fly. Okay. The entire day you can binge watch anything. What do you choose?

Dan Faill (39:12):

West wing.

Casey Cornelius (39:14):

Good choice.

Dan Faill (39:15):

It took me a minute west wing. And then, because that’ll take up more than a day. Yeah. If that’s not available, I’m gonna go with the newsroom and then studio 60 on the sunset strip, which was like season and a half. All of these are Aaron Sorkin. <Laugh>

Casey Cornelius (39:31):

I was gonna say Aaron Sorkin seems to be a favorite. Yeah.

Dan Faill (39:34):

Yep. But yeah, I’ll yes. The west wing I think is where I will go. That is where I have spent many, a many an evening just without on the background

Casey Cornelius (39:45):

Will consider me a fellow Bartlett for America supporter. I, I think that that would be a, a fantastic choice.

Dan Faill (39:50):

Good. I wanted to see one. I wanted to see a sequel where Sam seaborne became president and like Josh Lyman was like the helper of just kinda like, you know, would pop in and out as kinda like, Hey, I just need an external, you know, viewpoint and consultant. Like, that’s what I wanted to see as a great sequel. But here we are,

Casey Cornelius (40:08):

For those who have maybe taken a few fewer trips around the, the sun, they’re probably like, I have no idea who you’re talking about at this point. I know completely who you’re talking about. And if Don Moss is not on the program, I’m not interested.

Dan Faill (40:19):

Exactly. A hundred.

Casey Cornelius (40:21):

Okay. Second question. What is the most used app on your phone?

Dan Faill (40:27):

Probably Instagram.

Casey Cornelius (40:30):

You sound sad to admit,

Dan Faill (40:32):

Am I really am with that Instagram or Facebook? As much as I want to pause and take a break and, and you know, this Casey, like a lot of business leads can be done on, on those apps. And a lot of just like staying relevant is, is where that happens. My goal this year, I do have a goal this year to take a significant break from both. And I don’t, I still don’t know what that looks like. But yeah, reluctantly, Instagram and Facebook, the meta apps as they were,

Casey Cornelius (41:03):

I hope no one is listening to this podcast during that breakdown because <laugh>, you’ll, you’ll, you’ll never know. You’ll never know, not well.

Dan Faill (41:11):

And so here’s, I alright. Here’s why I reluctantly say this. It is so easy for us to get caught up in that like comparison game mm-hmm <affirmative> where, you know, like, or it’s the like, oh my gosh, I have a friend who just published a book and now their feed is gonna be all about their book. And rather because I think so many people are just like, oh God, they’re just bragging. When did brag become a bad thing? You know, like it is not a bad four letter word, the, you know, brag. And I, and I think those, I, I struggle with that of like, Hey, like I just got an article published. I pushed it out yesterday, but I’m probably not gonna talk about it much anymore, cuz I don’t want to feel like a burden, but that’s kind of what social media should be is, is an opportunity to just celebrate our successes.

Casey Cornelius (41:53):

You know, I know, I know that we’re, we’re taking a little detour here, but, but you know, I had the same perspective on this that you do. Like I can imagine, I don’t know. Let’s say you’re a Dell and you put out an album, are you supposed to not let anybody know? Like, are you supposed to pretend like it’s not that big of a deal to you because it is a bit writing that article is a big deal. Like writing a book speaking, putting out music mm-hmm <affirmative> putting out art, whatever. Like that’s a big part of who you are. You’re supposed to what? Pretend like it doesn’t exist.

Dan Faill (42:27):

Yeah. and, and that’s just a part of the, you know, I try not to post multiple times a day on my Instagram cuz again, it’s that like? Well, I don’t wanna be a burden. I don’t wanna feel show booty. And then I’m, then I have to give myself a little kick in the butt and I’m like, well, but,

Casey Cornelius (42:41):

But this is cool.

Dan Faill (42:42):

You know? And I, I, I only have the one account because it’s like, if I’m gonna talk about transparency, if I’m gonna talk about authenticity and vulnerability, here’s me with my kids. Here’s me speaking. Here’s me with an imperfection. Here’s me feeling like perfection, but not right. And that that’s okay.

Casey Cornelius (42:58):

We’re doing this on audio, not video, but I’m snapping right now. I I’m, I’m in, I’m in full, full, full agreement. All right. Next question. Dan, who would you most want to have dinner with?

Dan Faill (43:09):

Ooh I mean, this feels trite, but Brene brown that’s one bucket list meetings, whether it’s a meet cute or, or I gotta pay to attend or whatever. I mean, in essence I would consider her a founding mother of this, this iteration of, of vulnerability and imposter syndrome, the whole movement to allow people, the chance to connect on a more real level.

Casey Cornelius (43:38):

Let’s tag her in this. Let’s see if we can make it happen. <Laugh> See. We’ll see what we can do. Great choice. All right. So what do you do to wind down? Do you have any particular rituals or signals that like, okay, I’ve been going full force and now it’s my time to just sort of settle. What do you do to wind down?

Dan Faill (43:59):

I binge watch the west wing. <Laugh> no <laugh>

Casey Cornelius (44:02):

Say that half answer. Good

Dan Faill (44:04):

Answer. Right. Like, no, I think so there’s a couple things that happen. So coming off of the road for busy travel months, like February or April or September, November, or, or most months in an academic year that are heavy travel. Yep. My body tends to let me know that it’s time for arrest and it, I will get sick. You know, running nose, not like super sick, but my body’s just like, Hey dude, time to time to take a pause. <Laugh> and so it usually forces me to do so for just a couple of days. And, and that’s where I do the reset. That’s where I will binge watch shows that I feel like I’ve missed. And so I think that’s, that’s one area where my body lets me know where I know I need a moment. And again, I mentioned this, I, I live in Los Angeles and so we are, I pay for the good weather. Let’s just put it that way. Sure. but once it, it starts to get a little bit warmer, right? Like I’ll just take a book and I’ll go to the beach for the better part of an afternoon to help reset. I think the sound for me, the sound of the ocean is, is calming. And that’s both from my upbringing back on the, the east coast in North Carolina and, and living out here that is, is where I find ha a happy place is, is that reset?

Casey Cornelius (45:22):

I love it. That’s fantastic. Now I, I I can completely see that and I’m, I’m slightly jealous too. <Laugh> I, I think once you, once

Dan Faill (45:30):

You knew how much I paid and rent for a one bedroom, you would no longer be jealous.

Casey Cornelius (45:34):

Yeah. Yeah, no, I, we we’ve. We’ve had that. <Laugh> we’ve had that conversation before, like you say, you are paying for the atmosphere. There’s, there’s no doubt about it. I think you hinted to this one, but here’s the final question. How can listeners best connect with you <laugh>

Dan Faill (45:49):

Begrudgingly on Instagram? No. I think when you’ve got an original name, like Dan fail turns out there’s not many of those in the world, so I was able to snag that handle. So I am at Dan fail, D a N F a I L L on all platforms. Instagram is the easiest to get a hold of me. So you can just reach out to me there also on LinkedIn at Dan fail as well. And then on my website, there’s the contact form, which is www dot Dan,

Casey Cornelius (46:20):

I love it. I love it. And please reach out. Dan is one of those people who he, he acknowledged being active on social media, but he’s also the person. If you send him a message, you pop him an email. He’s the one answering it. It it’s not anyone else. He actually is, you know, running his own social media, so to speak. And I don’t wanna tell on anybody, but that’s not true of

Dan Faill (46:39):

Everyone. Right. Team of one. That’s where we’re at. That’s right.

Casey Cornelius (46:41):

That’s right. There you go. Folks. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I know we’ve talked about some, some really deep topics. Again, if you wanna learn more about Dan for college, for some of his programs, consultation work and everything like that. And if you liked this podcast, please, you know, do the things that you’re supposed to do with podcasts, like, and share and subscribe and five stars and all that other kind of stuff. We really enjoy delivering them to you. Again, I, I get to learn something new about our folks in each one of these conversations today being no exception and and we’ll keep doing ’em as long as you keep listening. So we genuinely appreciate you, you taking some time with us today and your support and until next time be well. Thanks everyone.

Dan Faill (47:26):

Thank you, geese. Thanks everybody.

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