“Dependency kills but freedom liberates a soul”. The notion is far reached and understood on different levels, spectrums. But for people like Brian Swan, a CEO and co-founder of “Unstoppable Beard” it only means how to make the best from the worst scenarios of life.
Brian Swan – Treacherous Childhood
Life as a child for Brian was completely changed forever at the age of 15 when his father, Thomas Swan, died of AIDs in 1991. Despite his tender age, he knew choices he had to pick one from – either to feel the pain of the death and die with it or relive it with freedom and determination to meet his dreams.
For Swan, it was happiness and he mentioned it on any occasion that life can be navigated through happiness or anger for what had happened in the past. According to him, happiness is not a decision or selection, it is a path on which you have to live. With such ethos, he lived a thorough lifestyle – where odds became a constant hurdle. But nothing changed his notion and he traveled all around the globe.
Memories Attached to Father
When Brian Swan’s dad was alive, he did not tell anyone about AIDS. But he knew at the time of diagnosis that death is waiting and he soon will pass away. Therefore, he decided not to cry or sulk but enjoy life before he moves on to the other world. He started traveling and all this while he took his offspring along. Even though his dad was apparently happy, his health didn’t do justice to the life he wanted.
Entrepreneurial Traits and Brian Swan’s Fate
His dad was a strong man, though when he contracted the disease in 1985, he went from a healthy 200 pounds to nearly half the size over the next 5 years before he passed away. On his death bed, Swan told him that he will make his dad proud by going to university and getting a good job. His father could only respond by gazing at him as if he was telling him not to go for a 9 to 5 corporate job…be an entrepreneur. This memory still runs vivid in Swan’s memory.
As soon as his dad passed away, Swan decided to earn an engineering degree. For that, he had to travel away from his home town of Cambridge, Illinois. Later, during his second year of engineering, he had a strong feeling of leaving everything in the present place and go to Australia for better prospects of growth. On his first day in Perth, Australia he went to the beach and witnessed a surfer catch a head-high barrel and saw a hot chick in a bikini all in one view. It was at that exact moment, he made the decision to be a surfer and live this type of lifestyle. Since that day in 1994, he’s been surfing & living the surfer lifestyle in 50+ countries.
In 1998, Swan moved to San Diego and started working as a corporate robotics engineer in the semiconductor, biotech and aerospace industry. And then one day while surfing at Mission Beach in San Diego, he met his wife Rhonda Swan, then working for a Fortune 500 company as a top executive.
“We lived the American dream,” he says of the years that followed. “We had the house, the cars, solid real estate investments … the full package. Things were comfortable.” Until one day Rhonda came home from work and told him: “I want to have a family,” she said, “but I’m not going to put my kids in daycare.” Which could only mean one thing: no more working for someone else. Things were going to change.
“I was skeptical at first,” says Brian, “but Rhonda started to kill it in what was then the new online space of affiliate marketing and personal development. Within 1 year, she retired me from my corporate robotics engineering job back in 2006.”
It should have been the start of a beautiful new chapter, but the dream was not ready to come to life just yet. “We had invested heavily in a golf course development deal that went terribly wrong,” says Brian. “Our daughter, Hanalei Swan, was just two weeks old at that point and we lost everything. I remember our friends were like ‘go back to your job!’, but that wasn’t what we wanted. I remember looking at Rhonda and saying: ‘If we don’t take the leap now we never will’. And so almost 13 years to the day with just $12,862 and 72 cents to our name after we sold all of our possessions, we left America and became digital nomads (years before the term even existed) living the laptop lifestyle.”
Brian and Rhonda’s desire for freedom ultimately led them to the island of Bali, from where they now run a global seven-figure + company called the Unstoppable Branding Agency along with his beard product line called Unstoppable Beard.