Nov. 15, 2021

Ep27 - Dana Knowles Talking About Overcoming Addiction And Inventing

Ep27  - Dana Knowles Talking About Overcoming Addiction And Inventing

Episode Twenty Seven Features Dana Knowles Talking About Overcoming Her Addictions TO Drugs And Alcohol, Inventing The Shower Caddy, And Becoming The Director Of Inventor Relations At inventRight!
My Key Takeaways:
Dana was very real and very candid in t...

Episode Twenty Seven Features Dana Knowles Talking About Overcoming Her Addictions TO Drugs And Alcohol, Inventing The Shower Caddy, And Becoming The Director Of Inventor Relations At inventRight!

My Key Takeaways:

Dana was very real and very candid in talking about her life which has not always been easy.

  • Dana started partying at a very early age and became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
  • While she was and addict she had her own successful cleaning business.
  • She hit rock bottom in 1997 at age 34 and checked herself in to a Treatment Center.
  • It wasn't until she was about a year into her recovery that she began to realize the damage that she had done to her family.
  • She credits hanging around with other successful people that she could emulate to her being able to get her life back together and succeed.
  • After becoming sober she started a second hand clothing store in West Virginia and then eventually transitioned in to owning a Tuxedo Rental shop.
  • Dana tried to invent and bring to market 2 other products before reading 'ONE SIMPLE IDEA' by Stephen Key.  She took the suggestions from that book and used it to help her launch the Hanging Shower Caddy.
  • She became an inventRight student, Inventor, and alumni and kept showing up to events.  Stephen recognized this and made her the Director of Inventor Relations for inventRight.

To learn more about Dana Knowles, her website is and she can be found actively posting on LinkedIn.  

Now next week we'll have on Chris Klesh talking about how he retired from AT&T and started his company, Lifetime Leisure Experiences to help people maximize their travel experiences while minimizing the cost. Be sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app so that you don't miss it or any other episodes.


Be sure to hit Subscribe in your podcast app so that you don't miss it or any other episodes.


[00:00:00] Greg Mills: Our guest today is an accomplished inventor and motivational speaker that holds nothing back. She's the owner of Dana's Tuxedos, Director of Investor Relations at Invent, right? A recovering drug addict and alcoholic, and the inventor of the Shower Caddy. She is a passionate advocate for women wanting to get sober and begin to be productive members of society.

[00:00:23] She is also a role model for women who wish to recreate themselves to do what they really want to do no matter what, without further ado. Dana Knowles. 

[00:00:34] Dana Knowles: Well, Hey, thank you so much for having me on here. I'm really excited to talk to you and talk to your viewers and enlighten them, inspire them to do what they've always wanted to do. No matter what.

[00:00:48] Greg Mills: Yeah. Thank you for being on here. My pleasure to have you. So can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from the intro, Dana, and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world. 

[00:01:00] Dana Knowles: Sure. Well, let's just start by saying, from the time I was about 15 to the time I was 34, every night was a Friday night. I didn't have weekends. I partied and at some point, you know, maybe in my early twenties, I just overshot the mark and, drugs and alcohol and living on the really seedy end of the railroad tracks.

[00:01:28] And I just couldn't get back on the other side of the tracks. For those 20 years, it was kind of a big blur. I have spotty hazy recollections of what happened during those, 20 years or so, but in 1997, I hit my bottom, and I, checked myself into a drug and alcohol treatment center for three weeks and decided at that point that I really needed to change some things in my life.

[00:01:53] And I first started by, hanging around with sober people who were shakers and movers and going places. And I just followed in their path and all those years that I was Drowning myself in alcohol and drugs, I would come up with all these ideas and I was a big dreamer. I always wanted to do things.

[00:02:13] I always wanted to be a motivational speaker. cause I like to talk a lot. and I was an inventor. I was always a creator and a dreamer. And I had decided, a few years after I got sober and I had a good foothold on, living a sober life that I was going to go towards those dreams.

[00:02:32] And so I've become now a professional inspirational speaker as well as a successful inventor.

[00:02:39] Greg Mills: Can we talk a little bit about your backstory and, what got you to where you were when you hit rock bottom, and then how you recognized it and how you went, propelling yourself forward. 

[00:02:52] Dana Knowles: Well, I think like anybody, when I was a little girl and they said, what do you want to be when you grow up? I didn't say, oh, I want to be a drug addict and an alcoholic. And I want to destroy my life, and I want to destroy everybody else's life. And I'm gonna bring a child into the world, and I'm gonna drag him through the muck, you know, having a child in tow through this insane lifestyle.

[00:03:10] I didn't want to do that. That wasn't my goal, but it started out gradual, you know, partying on the weekends a little bit, and then, , hump day and then ladies nights. Before I knew it, the drugs started to play a part of my life and then hanging around with the people.

[00:03:28] dealt the drugs and did the drugs. I know enough cause I work enough with people who are in recovery or struggling with addiction that it spirals out of control. And then one day, if we're lucky enough, we wake up and it's like, how did I get here? There was times in my life that I thought I should be locked up.

[00:03:47] That I was crazy because I knew that I shouldn't be doing what I was doing. I, at one time thought I should be locked up. I need to be locked up somewhere where I'm safe, where I can't get to any drugs or alcohol. And then I would have these brief moments of sobriety a day.

[00:04:06] Not like weeks or months, but a day. It's like, oh, okay. I'm good. And my problem was that I was what they call a high bottom drunk, where I had a house, I had a car, I had a job. I owned my own business. Until I didn't. Then when I hit my rock bottom, I still had a home and I still have a vehicle, but, when I got sober and I went into treatment, it, wasn't a very safe place for me to go back home to.

[00:04:35] So I ended up becoming homeless after I got sober. Technically, when you live in a woman's shelter, you're considered to be homeless. And then I lived on, what they call couch surfed, meaning I didn't have anywhere to go. So I just would sleep on people's couches, wherever I could land. And then eventually got a couple of bucks in my pocket and got my own apartment, and then just kept going forward from there to try to reinvent myself and recreate

[00:05:10] my life as a sober woman. I was in my mid thirties at that point. But I didn't see it coming. I didn't, and I was one of those. I was one of those drunks addicts, whatever you want to call. I don't know. I was a garbage head. I did it all. It doesn't matter. I call myself a garbage head because I did everything . I would not quite hit the bottom, but I would just skim the bottom.

[00:05:34] Like I would get to that point where I went so low, and then I would, work a little bit, get a couple dollars in my pocket, pay the electric bill, get some insurance on the car, get some food in the groceries, go get a hair, cut, and then think, okay, I got it going on. I'm good. I'm good. And then I would just spiral that again.

[00:05:52] And it was like this rollercoaster up and down and up and down. And I probably did that for the last 10 years of my drinking. I didn't get arrested. I didn't get DUIs. I didn't lose jobs.

[00:06:03] I didn't have my child taken away from me. I was dying inside that the guilt, the shame, the remorse was killing me. And I don't know why. I had my moment on December 3rd, I had started drinking about noon. Cause now I'm physically addicted to alcohol physically.

[00:06:21] Like I needed in my body because I'm going into DTs in the morning if I don't have it. And for some reason on December 3rd, I didn't have any alcohol by noon. I was, I felt like I was dying. I was shaking. I was sweating. It looked like I had a terrible flu and I knew the only thing that would save that is to go get a drink.

[00:06:38] And so I stopped at the local bar. And I remember, putting the whiskey, I was a whiskey drinker putting the whiskey to my mouth. And I went into an instant blackout. I had done this many, many times and a blackout is when you're functioning. I'm walking around, I'm functioning, I'm doing everything, but I have no recollection of it.

[00:06:57] And for the next 18 hours, I was in this blackout. And when I came out of my blackout I was in a strange house in a strange town. I didn't know who the people were in the house. And that's when I had my moment that there was no major consequences. I wasn't going to jail or lose my job or any of that.

[00:07:17] But I was so sickened inside that, I screamed out to God, help me, the good old alcoholic, prayer help me. And that day I found myself in, I call it a treatment center that was near me. All I said was, I need help. I drove up there and it was pretty rough. The first three days were pretty rough. In fact, I remember waking up the next day and saying, oh shoot, what did I do?

[00:07:45] Oh my gosh. Now I'm in treatment. What do I do? And I just made a decision to stay there. I learned about the disease of alcoholism and addiction, and I realized that I wasn't crazy. Thank God I wasn't crazy. I was just an alcoholic and a drug addict. And I don't say that lightly, but, I was able to look at it that way and there was help through 12 step meetings and through therapy. So that's kind of my story.

[00:08:14] My story is really very colorful. And if anybody wants to know the real story, that's a whole new podcast, I don't regret anything that I did. I take what I did. I embrace it all the good, the bad and the ugly. And now I hope that I can inspire other people to not shut the door on their past, but bring it out into the light and help other people.

[00:08:35] So as I'm sharing here, I certainly hope that I'm helping someone that's listening. Even that one person that's listening. If they're struggling with drugs and alcohol to reach out and get help and we can be anything we want to be.

[00:08:48] Greg Mills: How long did it take you once you made that initial decision to get to where you would consider yourself functioning normally 

[00:08:59] Dana Knowles: Oh,

[00:09:00] Greg Mills: and normally in my world is there's a whole wide rage. 

[00:09:06] Dana Knowles: I have a bumper sticker that says masquerading around as a normal person, day after day is exhausting. Physically, I had to be detoxed from all the junk I was putting in my body. That's going to take, weeks probably, or even months to really physically get all of that out of my body, but it was the mental part of my recovery that I really had to work on.

[00:09:30] So first my main concern was don't drink. Don't do drugs, don't drink. I mean, that's all, that was my goal. Every day don't drink and don't do drugs. That was my goal. And stay away from the people that are doing that kind of behavior I started hanging around with other clean and sober people.

[00:09:47] It was maybe about two years before I finally realized. I had a lot of damage. There was a lot of stuff that I had to fix. There was court stuff, there was a divorce going on. There was, homelessness, there was, getting a car on the vehicle, getting a job.

[00:10:05] It takes some time, nothing in life happens overnight, I guess. Maybe unless you hit the lottery, but nothing happens overnight. So I would probably say a couple years before I really said, okay, I got a good grasp on this sobriety thing. Not that I never forget. I still work very hard on my, 12 step group that I go to.

[00:10:26] And also helping other women who are trying to get clean and sober and stay clean and sober. But, uh, it was about two years before I felt like, okay, I'm ready to go to another level. I'm ready to follow my dream. I'm ready to get serious about that.

[00:10:42] Greg Mills: How did your family react when you started getting your act together? 

[00:10:48] Dana Knowles: I'm originally from Pittsburgh PA and in the early nineties, I left Pittsburgh because, well, I thought it was Pittsburgh. That was my problem. Cause I lived in downtown Pittsburgh and I thought it was Pittsburgh. It was my problem. So I did the geographical change to cure me to Scranton Pennsylvania.

[00:11:11] And that didn't cure me because, you know, everywhere we go there we are. My family was still living all in Pittsburgh. the only people I knew in Scranton were people that were, doing drugs, drinking, and then my husband's family lived there. They just weren't supportive at all. 

[00:11:28] They didn't understand the disease of alcoholism. Over the last 20 years or 20 some years, the disease of alcoholism has really come into light. That it's not this big black cloud, this, this walk of the shame that we carry around with us because out, because addiction, whether it's alcohol or drugs or whatever it touches just about everybody's life.

[00:11:49] And now it's really brought out into the open more, so my mother and my father who are living back in Pittsburgh, they didn't even know I was in treatment. I kind of checked out of the family life. When we're living in the world of addiction, we don't get invited to weddings and baby showers and parties and family reunions and funerals.

[00:12:09] Because they don't want us around. I had many family members that had died that I didn't even know they died until I got sober. Interestingly enough, when I was celebrating my one year anniversary of being sober, my mother wrote me a letter and she said, your father and I are just starting to begin to believe that you might be doing this staying sober.

[00:12:32] That was the moment I realized how much damage I had done because the trust wasn't there. There was just so much heartache that I put my, especially my family through, my mother was sleepless nights, not knowing whether her daughter was alive or dead, not hearing from me for months on end.

[00:12:49] But they were supportive and now my mother you know, she can't even really recall. I've been sober for 24 years. I'm just a completely different person. I'm the daughter I've always, should have been I'm the sister I always should have been. So they're supportive of me for sure.

[00:13:04] Now, as well as my son. I had a child that I drug through all that muck. Luckily he did not become an alcoholic or a drug addict. It always amazes me that, you can have two parents that are total off the chart, drug abusers and alcoholics, and the children don't turn out that way.

[00:13:22] Or you can have two parents, like my parents that were wonderful parents that never drank and drugged ever. I mean, my parents were married for 40 some years. Dinner was on the table every day. We went camping, we got a pool in the backyard. We had a dog, and yet I turned out the way I turned out.

[00:13:36] So I don't know. Sometimes I think you just get what you get, you try your best, you just get what you get.

[00:13:42] Greg Mills: Now you alluded to starting the hangout with more successful people. How did you come by those people?

[00:13:49] Dana Knowles: The first thing that most treatment centers will do is they will introduce you to a 12 step program. And it's vitally important for me. And I don't know about anybody else. I can only speak for myself that I started hanging around with good sober people. That saying birds of a feather flock together.

[00:14:11] And I wanted to be the sober, respectable woman that I saw others being. And I just started to hang around with them, whether that was going out for coffee, talking with them on the phone, going to the meetings together and connected with them. We'll segue into that at some point with the inventing or the speaking is hanging around with those people who are, where I want to be.

[00:14:41] Greg Mills: Did you come from an entrepreneurial and or inventors background at all? Was there anybody in your family that had invented or had their own business? 

[00:14:49] Dana Knowles: Not invented, but my mother was an entrepreneur. She owned her own successful drapery, custom drapery business. My father and her owned it together. I've always worked for myself. I've had other jobs, you know, waitressing and some other jobs when I was younger, but I've always worked for myself. I had a cleaning business for many, many years that I cleaned some of the, wealthiest people in the Scranton area.

[00:15:16] I had a secondhand clothing store for many, many years for women where I would help women in the battered women's shelter. That's of course after I got sober. And then now I own Dana's tuxedo that we are the only tuxedo business in three counties here in the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

[00:15:32] And I've had that since 2008.

[00:15:35] Greg Mills: How did you get started in the tuxedo business? Cause that seems like that would take a little bit of know-how and maybe a lot of capital. 

[00:15:44] Dana Knowles: No, it was pretty interesting. So going back to getting sober, I was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and there was a business up there that was a huge wholesale tuxedo place. They supplied tuxedos to, 500, 600 stores in the Northeast United States. And I happened to be working for them cleaning because I had my own cleaning business, but I'm drinking.

[00:16:12] So I'm cleaning and drinking and cleaning and drinking. I used to put my alcohol in, the 4 0 9 bottles are white, so you can't see through them. And I'd been sat out real good. And then I would pour my whiskey in the 4 0 9 bottle.

[00:16:24] So I would be at work drinking out of a 4 0 9 bottle. I don't know if anybody saw me or not. So I worked for this company and then I went to rehab and while I was living in the woman's shelter, the owner of this company somehow got a message to me and said, tell Dana to come back. I want to talk to her and I felt like I was going to the principal's office.

[00:16:47] Like, oh, I'm in big trouble now. I went to rehab. I just didn't show up for work. So I thought for sure, I was going to be, in trouble. And he sat me down and he said, what can I do to help. He had had a friend of his, that died of alcoholism. And he said, I don't want to see that.

[00:17:03] What can I do for you? Can I give you your job back? So he gave me my job back then that was like, and I was probably six weeks sober at the time. And that was my first little glimpse of hope that there are people that do want to help. And so then I fast forwarded, uh, I met my husband, we got married, we moved around the country.

[00:17:24] We moved around the world a little bit. And then I landed in Martinsburg, west, Virginia. And then I started a secondhand clothing store. And then in 2004, um, seven, there was two tuxedo places in Martinsburg, West Virginia. They went out of business. They closed their doors at the same time for health reasons, not for lack of not having the business, both of them within six months of each other.

[00:17:46] And my husband says, why don't you call mark? Sorry. That's the owner, Sarno and sons. And I said, oh, okay. So I called mark. I'm like, Hey mark, it's Dana. You know, there's nobody doing tuxedos down here in Martinsburg, West Virginia, which is like three and a half hours from Scranton. And he said, hold on a second.

[00:18:05] I don't know what he did. Maybe he looked at the population or how far away it was. And he just said, when do you want to start? And I said, okay, tomorrow. And, and so the next thing I knew, I had catalogs. I started the business with one catalog. I started it with a swatch book and one mannequin, and I was doing it in the back of my secondhand clothing store for about a year.

[00:18:26] And then the business took off. And then I opened up another store. Now the secondhand clothing store, we don't have that anymore. Cause I was burning the candle at both ends running two businesses. So we actually gifted the secondhand clothing store to the local humane society. So they can have it for a thrift store for their, spay and neuter clinic.

[00:18:43] So then I walked away from the secondhand store and now I just do the tuxedo.

[00:18:48] I never learned how to be an entrepreneur. I never learned I didn't go to school for it. I don't have any big letters behind my name.

[00:18:54] I didn't write a book. I don't have any of that stuff. What I do have is common sense 

[00:19:01] Greg Mills: common sense is not so common. 

[00:19:03] Dana Knowles: I know, and starting a business is common sense to me, but it comes so natural to me. I love having my own business. I love it. I don't like the days when I have to play whack-a-mole.

[00:19:19] The other day I came in and the toilet wasn't working, so I've got my hands in the toilet tank, you know, we're a light bulb burns out or, or the computer doesn't work. I think in that helps with being an inventor. We just figure out a better way, like, okay, this isn't working, let's just figure it out.

[00:19:37] When you're on your own business, you don't have anybody to ask. Cause I don't have a boss. I don't have anybody to go to.

[00:19:42] Greg Mills: How did the shower caddy come about? 

[00:19:45] Dana Knowles: Oh, this is a good story. So in 1997, when I first got sober, I thought to myself, I'm going to do something serious. Well, probably 1998, probably a year or so later, I'm going to do something with one of my inventions and I was cleaning houses. Cause I got some of my jobs back and I came up with an idea and I ran off to one of those invention submission companies.

[00:20:09] I won't name which one, but I ran off to one of them . They wanted some money and I scrounged up some money and I gave them some money and I got a really nice book with a bunch of pictures in it, and then they wanted thousands of dollars and I just didn't have it. I can look back in hindsight and say, thank goodness that I was poor.

[00:20:26] I didn't have it. I didn't know what to do, so I kind of shelved it for a little bit. And then a couple of years later, I came up with another idea and I ran off to a patent attorney and I flopped the prototype cause I'm real good at creating stuff. I flopped the prototype in front of the patent attorney and said, I'd like to patent this.

[00:20:46] And he said, okay. And $6,000 later, I had nothing. I went to a big show in New York city that made a bunch of promises so it's another five, $6,000. And then I thought, okay, I'm going to start my own business. I can do this.

[00:20:59] I got a machine to make something. I got packaging, I got labels. I got website. I got the whole nine yards. I just couldn't get any traction. I was showing the product to companies. What, I didn't know what I was doing. I was trying to sell it myself. 

[00:21:15] I'm an idea person. I've coined the phrase. I'm a pet peeve specialist. So if nobody has an out there, it's official, it's mine. I'm taking it. So I put a little TM on their pet peeves specialist. I was trying to do all these things to try to get one of my ideas out there, but I just didn't know what I was doing.

[00:21:38] I had joined the inventors network of the Capitol area in Washington, DC, cause I'm in Martinsburg, so I'm about an hour from DC. So I joined this inventors group and I would go every month, I volunteered to be the treasurer for the group because I knew that would get me there because I had a commitment.

[00:21:58] We would have speakers come on every month and talk about all kinds of aspects of inventing patenting, you know, everything. But I never heard about what I'm gonna talk about, which is blows my mind. So in 2016, I became the president and the president's job is to find the speakers.

[00:22:18] So in 2009, I had went to an event at the U S PTO and I just heard this guy speak, his name was Steven Key and I didn't know who Steven Key was, but, a few years later Facebook's coming up so I connect with Stephen Key and I'm following him and, reading his posts.

[00:22:38] He was becoming a pretty big guy, in the inventing world. And I thought, I'm going to reach out to Steve and key. And ask him if he'll come and speak at our event, next time he's in the DC area, because he's from the west coast. So he said, yeah, I'm going to be there in, in 2017, he's coming in springtime.

[00:22:55] I had found out, he wrote a book called One Simple Idea, and I thought, well, if I'm bringing him in to speak, maybe I should read his book. That's the only reason I read it is because I wanted to maybe impress him if we had a conversation, I'd be able to quote some things in the book so that he knows that I read it.

[00:23:19] It blew my mind. It's all about taking One Simple Idea and going through the licensing process. So I downloaded it on Audible. I listened to it. Once I listened to it twice, I listened to it three times. I'm like, where has this been? All my life. I've been trying to go down every road possible with, with no end in sight.

[00:23:39] Now there's this thing called licensing, which is basically we come up with the idea. We show it to potential brands or manufacturers brands. Then if they like the idea, they take the idea they run with.

[00:23:55] They produce it, they package it, they ship it, they warehouse it, they show it to buyers. They get it to end all their existing platforms for retail, online brick and mortar catalog. And then they pay us, me the inventor, a royalty. So that's what I decided that I was going to learn how to do.

[00:24:16] Now I've become an expert at it. I actually worked for the company that taught me how to do it: inventright. I'm their Director of Inventor Relations. I'm also an advisor for them, also running Dana's tuxedo. Also coming up with other inventors, also helping people in the recovery world. I got a full plate here.

[00:24:32] Greg Mills: Yeah. When do you sleep? 

[00:24:34] Dana Knowles: I do. I do make sure I sleep. Eating healthy and sleeping is probably one of the most important things that I do. But I'm like a ball of fire when my feet hit the ground in the morning, I'm running like crazy. And then by nine o'clock at night I'm done, So I took, an idea.

[00:24:50] I went through Stephen Keys, course, the company's inventRight. They have a coaching program. So I signed up to be a student to learn everything I could about licensing. And I took my product. It's called the Hanging Shower Caddy. It's very long and narrow. I licensed it to a company, Grand Fusion.

[00:25:09] We just hit 400, five star reviews on Amazon, but it's selling on many different platforms. It went on the market just before COVID hit. So it's not in brick and mortar stores now, but they're looking at 2022. We really think it's going to be in a lot of brick and mortar stores 

[00:25:25] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, how long has that been out? 

[00:25:28] Dana Knowles: Two years.

[00:25:29] Greg Mills: See that blows my mind. I feel like that's been out longer or should have been out longer. 

[00:25:35] Dana Knowles: The thing about licensing is and I'll use my shower caddy. For an example, there is a lot of mesh shower caddies out there. What makes mine unique and different is the shape of it is different. And that made it appealing because there was nothing like it on the market.

[00:25:52] Nothing that was shaped very long and narrow, and that made it very appealing to a potential licensee. But with that being said, it's not like I called one company. And they said, oh yeah, sure. We love it. No, I called 80 companies, 20, some of them never even got back to me. 50. Three of those 52 actually looked at the prototype and then said we like it, but no, it's not a good fit for us right now. And company 53 said, yes, and you only need one. You only need one. It's a numbers game, like so many things, whether you're in sales, whether you're in public speaking. It's a numbers game. The more stuff you throw on the wall, it's going to stick somewhere.

[00:26:37] And it's about relationships and getting to know people and suiting up and showing up and being professional.

[00:26:45] Greg Mills: I always feel weird asking this, but I'm going to ask it and you feel free to tell me a pass or we'll go on to the next question, but what kind of percentage do you get all that. 

[00:26:55] Dana Knowles: I can talk about that. So royalty rates on a simple product like mine, it's retailing for 10 99 is the average royalty rate on a simple product. Like this is 5%. 

[00:27:08] So a product retails for $10, it's probably going to wholesale for $5. So I get 5% of $5, which isn't much twenty-five cents right now. This particular product here is on target to sell between 200 and 250,000 units a year.

[00:27:31] Greg Mills: Nice. 

[00:27:32] Dana Knowles: Yeah. So when you add those numbers up, that's a nice chunk of money. And the thing is I'm not doing any work I'm done. I did my work on the backend. Now the company put all their time, all their money, all their effort into getting my product on the market. The only thing that I do is get on podcasts like this and talk about it.

[00:27:55] I also, share on my LinkedIn page, my Facebook page, like we just hit 400, five star reviews. I will be posting something, a video of me doing some kind of happy dance or whatever, because that drives sales to Amazon or to their website or wherever.

[00:28:11] Greg Mills: I feel like some people would expect it to have a higher margin, but they're not thinking it through. 

[00:28:18] Dana Knowles: A royalty rate can be anywhere from 2% to 12%, 2% would be on a very inexpensive item that they're going to sell millions of them. They're going to sell millions. So you might only do a 2% cause you're going to make the money because you're doing so much volume, a larger royalty rate would be on something that's more expensive, but doesn't sell a lot, maybe something that costs a thousand dollars or $5,000 or something, you're not going to sell a million units of that a year,

[00:28:49] Greg Mills: okay. Now, how did you become a Director of Inventor Relations with inventRight? 

[00:28:55] Dana Knowles: Well, remember I talked about getting sober and hanging around with people who were, where I wanted to be. Well, the team at inventRight

[00:29:03] was where I wanted to be. They were successfully, licensing products. They were teaching other people, had a licensed products. So after my six months of being a student at inventRight, I really just never went anywhere. I became an alumni student, so I showed up at everything. I just showed up when there was a trade show in Chicago, I showed up I just kept showing up .

[00:29:24] I can't talk about the shower caddy without talking about the program that taught me how to license my shower caddy. Cause that's so important. So over the years, I guess Steven just got sick of looking at my face and said, Hey.

[00:29:37] Yeah, why don't you just come work for us? I remember when I first started, pitching my product, I was so scared to pick up the phone and talk to people like many people are, and I kept doing everything else other than pick up the phone and actually talk to somebody. And I got really mad at myself and I thought, what am I scared of? What's the worst that can happen. I had these visions of myself sitting on my rocking chair on my front porch when I was 90 years old. If I'm so blessed to live that long saying, I wish I would've made those phone calls. And I got mad. 

[00:30:10] It was like that anger, that fueled me to put something into action because nothing happens without some kind of action. There's certain times that we need to pause and don't do anything. And I do a whole talk on the pause, but I also believe that, in the industry of inventing, you have to do something, you have to reach out, you have to let people know your products there.

[00:30:30] So I got really mad at myself. I had a list of companies and phone numbers, and I just started down the numbers, down the numbers, down the numbers. And I kept on doing that until I wasn't scared to do it anymore. Cause everything we do when it's new is scary.

[00:30:46] Everything you do in this podcast probably was scary. You start everything we don't know because it's new. We don't know. But when we go through that fear and just say, okay, I'm going to just do this. And then we do it. Then it becomes very easy. So I got very good at making phone calls. So when, invent rights started a new program, we call it bridging the gap.

[00:31:07] It's where we bring companies onto live zoom calls for our professional students. Somebody had to be the person to call company. And that was me because I got so good at phone calls. Cause see, I don't like emails only because I don't like waiting. phone calls, you get answers right away. You get to that person right away. You leave a voicemail. So that's how I got to be director of inventor relations.

[00:31:29] It's funny because Steven told me that my title would be inventor relations. And so after a couple of weeks of saying, this is Dana NOLs and vendor relations with event. Right. And I thought that doesn't sound good. I called Steven number. I need to be the director of inventor relations.

[00:31:45] I need a name, I need a title because it just sounds more impressive, but it is impressive to be in vendor relations for invent. Right.

[00:31:55] Greg Mills: Well, you talked about this a little bit too, of about fear and how it's motivated you. And I noticed on your website that you had the phrase, fear is the thief of dreams. 

[00:32:07] Dana Knowles: Um,

[00:32:08] Greg Mills: What does that mean to you? And where did you hear it? 

[00:32:12] Dana Knowles: I have it on a coin somewhere. I don't even know where this coin came from, but I have it on a coin. I carry it with me all the time. I did a whole presentation on fear at the inventor con 2021 that the Kentucky inventors group had. And it was all about fear and it was all about getting down to the root of our fear and what we're really fearful of.

[00:32:38] When I'm calling companies and I say, I'm scared. I'm fearful of it. What I'm really scared of is what are they going to think of me? Am I going to sound stupid? Am I going to know what I'm talking about?

[00:32:50] It all really comes down to pride and ego. I want to sound smarter than I am, so I don't want to embarrass myself. So getting down to the root of what is like peeling off the onion, what is really going on with the fear that's deep down inside. We can say I'm scared of calling. I'm scared of making phone calls.

[00:33:10] No, you call people all the time. We call our friends and family all the time and talk to them, right? So there's a deeper, underlying thing of what we're scared of.

[00:33:19] And when we stay in that fear of I'm scared to call people, or I'm scared, they won't like my product, or I'm scared about being on this podcast, or I'm scared to open up stuff. I'm fearful of starting my own business. What if I fail? What if I, this? What if I, that, you know, living in the, what ifs and it steals our dreams, it's the thief of dreams.

[00:33:40] And I learned a long time ago, not when I was drinking, but after I got sober, how to dig deep inside myself, And figure out what's really going on by stopping and just thinking what what's really going on. Or why am I so angry about something? Anger for me is always stems. If when you pick it apart, when you start peeling off the onion, there's a fear underneath there.

[00:34:04] I'm fearful. I'm angry because I'm scared. I'm going to get something I don't want. I'm scared. I'm going to lose something. I have. I'm scared. You're going to think bad of me, you know, and I've just learned over the years with practice, practice, practice, to not allow fear. And I still have it.

[00:34:20] It's a natural fear. Two forms. One, the fear of putting your hand on a hot stove yeah. And do is Tuesday interfere. And I have to sit down and say, okay, is this imagined? Or is this real? Because most of the stuff that stops us from following our dreams is. That's where that comes from. I get fearful, I wasn't fearful talking on this, I've done these so many times.

[00:34:45] I used to be fearful that I'm gonna mess up my words or I'm going to have a coughing sPower I'm not going to look perfect. And I just realized, most people just want to see the average everyday person share their experience in hopes that they are inspired to do something, even if it's just to stop and look deep inside and say, okay, why aren't I doing the things that I dream about doing of every day I've done everything.

[00:35:12] Well, maybe not everything. I have a really weird bucket list, but we don't need to talk about that. 

[00:35:15] I've lived in Barbados. I lived in Ireland. I have a really good life. I'm financially. Okay. I sleep at night, I'm peaceful, I'm following my dreams. I I've done everything that I want. I started my own business. I've invented something, it went on the market. That was a dream of mine.

[00:35:34] And I don't know, what's better getting the mailbox money and the royalty check or seeing the five star reviews on Amazon. I can't wait until the day. I actually see my product in a retail store. Oh yeah. That's going to be crazy. But now my goal is to, become a successful inspirational.

[00:35:53] I've always wanted to be a speaker. I spoke many times in front of many audiences, usually it's recovery oriented. My favorite class in school was speech speaking class. I was in school plays. And so that's my next dream is to be in front of a stage with 10 people or a thousand people.

[00:36:16] Because you never quite know what you're gonna get.

[00:36:18] Greg Mills: And you've already done some of that, correct me if I'm wrong, right. 

[00:36:22] Dana Knowles: Yeah. I have. I have. Now I have a speaking coach who is guiding me through just like somebody guided me through the inventing process. If I was to do it on my own, I am going to waste so much time in so much. Not knowing what the heck I'm doing.

[00:36:42] So just like with inventing, I hired a professional, the invent right team to coach me and I did the same with my speaking career. I hired a coach. It's a company it's called the speaker lab. And I went through their process that we build a website. We got speaker reels. We got our hit list of companies we want to get into that key player for event planning, who's picking the speed. 

[00:37:09] So now I'm in the process of doing the podcasts, like these to get some good speaker, real footage, as well as, contacting event planners that will hopefully, want to hear the messages that I have. I primarily speak with, people who have dreams, people who are stuck, you know, they're not happy.

[00:37:29] Not that they're not happy with their life. We have that, that annoying voice in the back of our head that never goes away. I want to open up a business or I want to, do something. I want to bring a product to market. And then that annoying voices. I want to start my own speaking business. I don't know what the next annoying voice will be, but I got sick of listening to it and it's like, okay, all right, already, I'll do something about it.

[00:37:58] And even the mere fact that I said to myself, I'll do something about it. That annoying voice stopped because now that voice is saying, you go, girl, you go, you do it. You got this.

[00:38:11] Greg Mills: Yeah, there's a song that you reminded me of. I think it's by Zach brown, I could be wrong, but it's called fear. He is a liar 

[00:38:21] Dana Knowles: Oh, I have to check.

[00:38:22] Greg Mills: and says something to the effect of you think you're not beautiful. You think you're not worthy fear. He is a liar. 

[00:38:31] Dana Knowles: Yeah. And I'm a big believer in self-talk. When I was first sober, I went to, therapy. My therapist had said, you beat yourself up so much. Cause I had all this guilt and shame, you know, I was a terrible mother. I was a terrible, daughter, I was a terrible person. Terrible, terrible, terrible. So she had me, she gave me a piece of paper and it had all these little one-line positive affirmation. She says, cut these out and put these all over your house. Bathroom mirror beside your bed, your front door, your, everywhere,

[00:39:06] You are beautiful. You are smart. You know, you are successful. You can be somebody. And I had them plastered all over the place.

[00:39:15] And what I realized is the mind doesn't know the difference between what we tell it. And what's real. The mind. Doesn't know the mind only knows what we feed it. Earl Nightingale. One of the best inspirational speakers ever says the mind is like the earth. It will grow whatever you plant.

[00:39:32] If you plant poison Ivy over here and corn over here, it will grow just as abundantly. He says, that's how our brains are. And I get that. So I started feeding my brain, all this good stuff, and now I'm hanging around with good people. I'm not hanging around with a bunch of people that are doing not what they're supposed to be doing.

[00:39:52] I'm not doing bad things. I'm not having the guilt and the shame of all that stuff I'm doing. And I'm feeding my mind this good stuff. And eventually good things just started to happen. Life gets messy sometimes. I'm a big believer in gratitude.

[00:40:05] I'm always saying, what am I grateful for? I'm always grateful for what I have, because I've been homeless. I've had nothing. I've had no money in my pocket. In fact, when I went into the woman's shelter after rehab, I didn't have any clothes. I had no money. I was digging out of boxes in the women's shelter for clothes, going to food banks for food.

[00:40:24] I had nothing. And so today I'm so grateful that I went down to nothing. 'cause, what I realized is what we really need is we need food. We need clothing and we need shelter. Everything else in this world is icing on the cake. And because I have that attitude and because I believe that truly, that I keep getting blessed, but I have to work at it.

[00:40:49] It's just not like I'm going to sit back on my Duff and people are going to come knocking on my door, saying, Dana, I hear you're the best inspirational speaker ever. And we want you to come speak at our event in front of 20,000 people. And we're going to pay you an astronomical amount of money.

[00:41:01] That's not going to happen. I have to go out there and, network and hang around with the people who are doing what I want to do and be where I want to be.

[00:41:10] Greg Mills: okay. Now, do you have a book in you because I'm kind of surprised that I, didn't find one on Amazon. 

[00:41:18] Dana Knowles: Funny, you should say that I did start to write a book a few years ago, and I'm not a writer at all. But I thought I'm just going to throw a bunch of stuff. I went to my friend's cabin up in the woods and spent three days by myself, just pounding out, just Blab, spew and words, got a kind of a rough draft.

[00:41:36] And then, you know, things get busy and I shelved it. It's in a box somewhere in the basement. Since COVID really, and I've been doing a lot of these podcasts, I've had writers reach out to me and say, you got a great story and you need to talk about it.

[00:41:54] My problem is, I don't know, what ghostwriter is good or bad. Who do you trust? Who's going to be able to take what's up here in my head and put it on those words. Putting their spin on it. So that's kind of where I'm stuck right now. Like, I'd love to write a book, but I'm not a writer.

[00:42:12] I'm a talker. So if I could talk to somebody and they can put it all in words, that'd be cool. I don't know how all that works. So I'm sure there's a book in the future for me, for sure. 

[00:42:20] So if anybody's out there and they can guide me towards somebody, please hit me up on LinkedIn, Dana Knowles.

[00:42:26] I would like to write a book. I would like to have my thoughts out there and my experience and to help other people. 

[00:42:33] Greg Mills: Okay. 

[00:42:34] Dana Knowles: And the interesting thing is that I don't think my story is that special. It's my life. It's what I lived. I kind of cringe sometimes when people say, oh, you're doing so well, good for you.

[00:42:48] You're sober. And it's like, Hey, you don't get a gold star for totally screwing up your life. Maybe a gold star for accomplishing things afterwards. I don't want to pat on the back because I was a complete screw up for 20 years and lived in a bottle of whiskey and a gram of cocaine.

[00:43:05] Greg Mills: Let's get ready to wrap this up. Is there anything I haven't asked that you'd like to go over?

[00:43:10] Dana Knowles: You know what I think, I think you, I think your questions that ask brought out a lot of information I want to talk about my past. I want to talk about inventing. I wanted to talk about speaking. I wanted to talk about, what I do in my life today to keep me on the right path.

[00:43:26] So I think we covered it all. Did a great job, Greg.

[00:43:29] Greg Mills: you. Good deal. I won't say what book do you recommend to help them in their life or to move their business to the next level, but is there a speaker or a video or YouTube video that you'd recommend? 

[00:43:43] Dana Knowles: This is the second time I'm listening to this book. So I'm going to give him a little shout out. John , J O N a C U F F soundtracks. 

[00:43:55] He's a great narrator.

[00:43:57] He's just talking to you. Like you're sitting there. He's very animated. It's super interesting for somebody like me anyway, and it's funny as well. And it made me really think about the soundtracks that I play over and over in my head.

[00:44:11] One of the things that I love about it is a lot of what he says. I've worked on that soundtrack, that voice in my head, fear is the thief of those dreams, what's the inner fear.

[00:44:24] Something that you've wanted to do all your life, but yet you don't do it because there's that inner voice inside of you, your soundtrack saying, oh, it's too hard. You can't do it. You're not smart enough. Well, let me tell you, I'm a high school dropout. I have no college degree.

[00:44:39] I don't have the letters behind my name. What I have is the passion and the drive and the want to follow my dream. And that's so much more important. of course, if you are my accountant or you're my brain surgeon, I really want you to have some letters behind your name, but to be an entrepreneur, to do certain things, you really need, to put that dream into action.

[00:45:00] So John a cuff, um, soundtracks is the one I'm listening to right now. Every book I listened to is a book to make my brain better and make me move forward. I did mention Stephen key's book, one simple idea. If anybody has an idea that they want to, license, that's always a good book.

[00:45:17] Greg Mills: What's the best way for someone to contact you or to check you out online? 

[00:45:21] Dana Knowles: Dana knows is my website. And we didn't even say this. You didn't say this in my bio. I'm the first lady of Martinsburg, West Virginia.

[00:45:31] Greg Mills: That's right. 

[00:45:32] Dana Knowles: He was in recovery 24 years and he was also homeless at one time. His story is pretty, pretty amazing too, but he doesn't shout it like to the public, like I do. He's not as vocal about it in public.

[00:45:44] Greg Mills: Sounds like you both come a long way. 

[00:45:48] Dana Knowles: Yeah, we have, we've lived on both sides of the tracks. It wasn't just like we hit the lottery. It's been hard work over the past 24 years, but the one thing that we did, we never quit.

[00:45:58] We never quit. . And of course, Dana Knowles, K N O w L E S on LinkedIn is the best way to reach out to me. If you want to message me or see what's going on in my life.

[00:46:10] Greg Mills: well, that's a wrap. Thank you, Dana, for being a guest on entrepreneurs over 40.