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About Craig Davis

Craig Davis has been a leader in the Mortgage Industry for over 20 years, hyper-focused on servant leadership to help those he serves achieve more by focusing on his simple formula: Attitude + Action = You. He created Street Level Leadership in 2016 as a curation of insightful content that represents his leadership style. He is a recent cancer destroyer, a family man, a buddy, and by his own admission a good human. 

In this episode Steve and Craig discuss:

  • How important meaningful relationships are 
  • Finding your purpose
  • Overcoming setbacks
  • How to view things so you can learn lessons from them

Key Takeaways:

  • Always appreciate the meaningful relationships with your loved ones, your family and friends. 
  • Maintain balance when you finally find your purpose 
  • Think positively and do everything you can to overcome setbacks. 
  • Focus on what you have. It's your mindset that will help you get through whatever you may be suffering.


“I have a belief that everybody is a leader. Despite their title, you have to lead yourself, you have to lead others, you may have to manage up, you have to lead your life, your loved one.” - Craig Davis

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Listen to the podcast here


Craig Davis - Mindset Gets You Through

Anytime I get to interview guests of this caliber, it's a special day for me. As I bring you into this show, Craig Davis is my guest in this episode. I'm going to have him introduce himself and give us a little bit of background on who he is. We do that, typically. Craig, you have no idea what you're in for here. There are no questions that you know.

I'm looking forward to it.

I come in a little prepared. I've got some questions based on our experience with one another. I don't have the answers and we didn't prep any of those so I'm as much looking forward to this as hopefully, the readers are. With that being said, readers, welcome, Craig Davis.

It’s good to meet you. I’m looking forward to connecting.

We have a bit of a tradition on our show but it goes hand in hand with what we think is good neurobiology, which you and I share a common thread of interest in. That is the fact that good coaching, good neurobiology and some of the fields that you and I study are becoming inextricably linked with positive psychology. We like to start positively. In that positive way, I simply want to know as you come in this thing, it's some random day, what are you grateful for?

I'm grateful for family and meaningful relationships. That jumps right off my tongue. I've been thinking a lot about that, beyond the family component but how important meaningful relationships are.

Why did that jump off your tongue? Why have you been thinking about that out of curiosity?

I've been very curious about current times. A lot is going on. In all that stuff in the conversations I have with people and my family, I always become very appreciative of meaningful relationships with my wife, my daughter, my family and good friends, having to get to know you, Steve and others probably because you and I have had a couple of cool conversations of late. I value that and think of it as a meaningful relationship. I've been mindful of that. That's why it's top of mind.

I certainly am grateful, which is entirely why I was like, “I got to have this guy on the show.” It's mostly for me. We'll probably publish it but I was eager to get back on the horn with you here. Tell us about you. From time to time, I will certainly accentuate some of the highlights of people's careers and all of that but for me, it's always a little more fun to know it directly from you. Give us a thumbnail. I'm sure your life in times has some deep twists and turns. Who's Craig?

My career has always taken me in a leadership direction. I've been in the mortgage business for many years. I began my career in the wholesale world in post-‘08. As I continued that, I began pivoting in my career. The leadership around me began pulling me towards management and leadership. As I began walking that path, I found a connection to that. As cliché as it sounds, I felt a purpose there. If I could lead others and find value in that and others found value in what I was doing, that created something in me. That was always where I've gone.

I always believe in leadership. It just happened to be in the mortgage business. Marrying that mindset as I began learning, researching and paying attention as my career grew and the company, tapped me to move my family from Portland to the Bay Area back in 2016 and take over a larger role and run all of that. As I found my struggles with that in taking on this much greater role, it’s very similar to the story you told in your webinar about Jim. That's when I delved into the mindset part of it. That ignited a passion in me. Who I am as a mindset leader, I’m trying to inspire others. That has always been where I've tried taking what I do into something beyond a tactical environment in the mortgage business.


A mindset leader tries to inspire others, always going above and beyond in supporting every single person around them.

There's a lot more and I have some very direct questions about some things. I want to come back to the leadership thing because it's been such a great part of your life and marrying that with mindset. This idea of you finding your purpose and even making that comment about it being trite, how do we tangibilize that? I would love you to go a little bit deeper there. What did it feel like? What was it like to find your purpose? That's on a lot of people's minds. There are a lot of exercises and books written on it. We watched Simon Sinek’s video on why and all this. When you meet someone like you that says that, could you expound upon that a little bit?

I hear you because it is difficult. I remember one time sitting in a coaching exercise and we were going over writing your purpose statement. I wrote my purpose statement to be a positive impact on my world both personally and professionally. I thought to myself, “I like the way that sounds.” Is that just a statement? What does that mean? I always stuck with that. First and foremost, write a statement. Where I found it to put my feet on the ground was in that story where I said, “I moved to the Bay Area. I was taking over a much larger role and leading a lot of people.”

As I felt the pressures, the overwhelming sense of that and the critical mass of it all, all I knew was that I could not fail. It doesn't mean I couldn't make mistakes. Failure would be to quit. I had to do everything in my power to maintain that balance. I started running and hiking. On my runs, I began listening to podcasts. One, in particular, was a gentleman named Tom Bilyeu. At the time, he was with Quest and then he started a new podcast called Impact Theory. I want to give him a lot of credit. I resonated with him. In his podcast, he was very mindset driven. I started learning from him as he talked about it.

I gravitate toward interviews with other great people. As I started listening to these interviews, this podcast and a lot of his thought leadership and philosophies, it resonated. That ignited a passion and purpose in me and helped me articulate a lot of my thoughts and leadership style that I probably couldn't have otherwise articulated. It helped bring the form to that which I then took to the new team that I was leading as they were getting to know me. I started injecting that into my leadership style. That created a bond and a culture between us that was beyond just housekeeping like management. It created something that I was providing value in their growth and ability to succeed. That's where I found that purpose.

Graphics - Caption 1 - TII 156

Mindset Leader: Discover your purpose in life by finding where you can provide value to other people’s growth and their ability to succeed.


I can provide value. They like hearing what I have to say. Kiddingly, “I'm not full of BS. Maybe what I am saying is valuable because I have self-humility in that.” That's where I identify. It became this insatiable appetite like podcasts, books and all that other stuff where it meant something. It wasn't junk food. I called it brain food. All of a sudden, I'm in the Bay Area, coming home from work, sitting in traffic and listening to this content and it was feeding me. I didn't care that I was in traffic. It gave me an opportunity to finish that podcast. Who cares? It's all good. That's maybe that's a long answer to get towards making a statement about my purpose versus I felt the purpose of what I was doing and the value it was providing.

One of my mentors would call that an embodied experience, which is different from something that we say right with our voice. I hope the readers can feel that is what you're like. That's wonderful. You've had some setbacks in life. I don't want to give that up but when you and I were talking one time, I made the comment to you like, “Everybody has setbacks in life. I don't think you're unique to that but yours are pretty substantial.” I seem to be attracted to people that have setbacks. I've also noticed that sometimes setbacks and people crush them. Sometimes they define them and they help teach us. You seem to be the latter. Is it okay to ask you about that? Tell us about some of the setbacks that you've had.

I'm an open book. I like talking about it because I do find it cathartic, especially if I can help somebody else by telling that story or any story, then it's worth it going through it, even though my wife would probably punch me for saying that. I’m happy to share. I do want to preface this by saying, I agree with you. We all have our challenges. On September 20th, 2021, life was normal and then on September 21st, 2021, I found out that I had stage three cancer.

Those of you who have shared that experience, know that shock, the shock that my wife and I went through, I legitimately thought I was going to die for a solid 48 hours. I had to keep myself off my computer to get my fares in order. I had to do everything I could. Once I got some information in and then I was able to compartmentalize it and understand what I had and what I believed to be true on how I was going to get through it, then I was able to separate and believe that, “I'm not going to die. Rather, I need to go through treatment and survive that. That was the beginning of that journey.”

It's not like we're talking about this many years later or anything like that. They're pretty close to it. What have you learned? I'm not trying to milk that it always has to be some great lesson but when you were talking to me about this, I felt like there was such richness to you learning about yourself and how you view things. Talk to me about what you've learned as a result of that.

I learned a lot. I want to frame it up like this because this is how I tell the story. This is in the vein of everybody having challenges. I had a leadership role at my prior company as well. I was in a visible position. In that position, I was happy to share with others that wanted to hear about it, ask questions and care about all of that. It became cathartic for me to share that with anybody who wanted to learn about it. In that sharing, what I would typically say is, “I've got this. Everybody has their challenges and you have a challenge.”

At the time, being in the mortgage industry fall of ‘21, we could all see the headwinds coming that this thing is about to get difficult, not knowing what we are in. My feeling was, “I got this one. I don't want anybody else to have this.” I'd say to my wife, my daughter and others, “There is cancer.” I never said I have cancer. I always said there is cancer as a distinction. My point was, “I got this one. You focus on what you have and we're going to get through all this together.” By compartmentalizing cancer, subconsciously, I was separating it from myself. My mindset plus medicine is how I frame it in reflection.

I had 195 days or 6.5 months worth of chemo, radiation and radiation plus chemo. It was the medicine that got me through cancer but it was the mindset that got me through the chemo and the radiation. I would show up every day with a mindset of, “Embrace the suffering, smile, ask for more and have a thumbs up. Enough days go by of embracing that suffering, we're going to get through this.” That was how I approached it.

It was the medicine that got me through cancer, the chemo and the radiation. That killed cancer but it was the mindset that got me through the medicine because chemo is a no walk in the park. I'll tell you a quick little story on that. A lot of people would ask, “What does chemo feel like?” I would tell people, “It's like the day before you have the worst flu you've ever had. Your body is all achy. You're all out of whack or chemistry.” I would take some of my leadership or management stuff. You have to accept it, adapt and then align.

When you're on chemo, a side effect is something called neuropathy. Neuropathy is very highly intense cold sensitivity in your extremities, fingers, toes, nose, cheeks and that sort of thing. Immediately, on the first day of chemo, I walked out. It was a stormy day and my face went numb as soon as I walked outside. I would laugh about it. What I discovered was this extreme cold sensitivity. First of all, your taste buds also changed. I couldn't drink water anymore because the water tasted like burnt tinfoil. I couldn't have ice for six months because of the cold.

When I quickly discovered, because I like to cook breakfast for my family on Sunday mornings and got to have some bacon, I reached in to make some scrambled eggs and bacon. As soon as I grabbed an egg, I immediately dropped it because it was like grabbing a cold, icy ball of needles. It was painful. My wife got me some ski gloves. I reached in there with ski gloves on, got my eggs and cracked eggs with ski gloves on. That's how I adapt it versus, “I guess I can't cook.” That was a mindful moment of, “There's a solution. What is it?” That was the mindset part of how I got through the treatment.

We can let the readers take, read and apply it to themselves. You're in leadership and you might not go around telling that story to everybody. How would you help us learn from that?

I enjoy adding a little bit of wit and sarcasm as we go. Life can sometimes be too serious and a little sense of humor but it helps. A good buddy of mine, Justin Andrews, code-named Juice, some of you guys might know him. He and I share that similar philosophy. The short story is we have this buzzword dictionary. One of those was, “Smells like bacon. “If you're onto a good idea, you'd be like, “Smells like bacon.” That means, “You're onto a good idea. Let's keep going.” That's a little side note for you. If you're a vegetarian, “It smells like tofu.”

We don't want to lose anybody. Help us apply it.

Through the experience, what I have learned is that if you pay attention and reflect, you realize that throughout your life, you have overcome obstacles and challenges. With that being said, when there's that obstacle, take a breath, breathe for a minute and get some oxygen, the five-second breath. The point is to slow down, take a step back and analyze the situation. What is a possible solution? Sometimes your immediate reaction isn't the right answer. That's why I tell that story about cracking eggs with ski gloves on because that's a messy experience and who would think it? There was a solution there. As part of this journey of learning, sometimes I had to shrug it off too.

Graphics - Caption 2 - TII 156Mindset Leader: When addressing problems, be sure to slow down. Take a step back and analyze the situation because your immediate reaction is usually not the right answer.


Don't get me wrong. There were a lot of tough days. There were days when I would sleep as long as I could just to pass the day. I was only sleeping to get through the day. It wasn't because I was that tired. I could not have done it without my wife and my daughter. That goes back to the meaningful relationship as I was thinking about this maybe in anticipation of this show and how important that was. I learned to lean on them or I probably had never done that to that extent. Letting people help you, I learned. Allow people in, especially a lot of us. Sometimes I feel like I'm providing that for others, which I love but allowing others to provide that for me. That was important.

That's a huge piece. That's why we call this The Insight Interviews because we are always hoping that somebody can have an insight into this. Maybe you made it a big nugget but it’s this nugget that you passed by. If you're a leader and we have a lot of leaders reading this show, if you are allowing yourself to be helped by other people, that's a huge thing. I'm sitting here taking notes. I'm even asking the question, “Whom do I need to let in and let them help me?” I hate to rush us because if I hear little nuggets like that, I want to camp for nineteen hours and do a whole episode on just that. That's crazy.

Embracing that suffering, was that what people picked up? I love your humor. I get a little nugget right there. We're too serious. We were talking about music. You made me think about the Indigo Girls. They have that song that says, “It's only life after all. Come on, let's laugh a little bit.” I love your sense of humor and how you've brought that to the table. Tell us a little bit about StreetLevel Leadership and where you are with that. Give us a little bit of the content behind what you're thinking about there and what you're doing.

That's a website I put together. When I was telling that story, I discovered this good, healthy content I called brain food when I was in this position of taking on this much greater role. As I was doing that, I felt like I was starting to develop my voice. A lot of my styles have isms. We've talked about some of them. Another one is, “It's better to be wise than smart. You don't know what you don't know until you don't know it.” We have a lot of those things.

StreetLevel Leadership became a website that I started writing articles on that I was starting to curate some of this thought leadership that I have and I wanted to share with the world. Through that, I've been able to post various articles I've written. I was very fortunate at the time to be able to interview Simon Sinek as a keynote for a sales rally of ours. I was able to post some of those snippets there. We had put the buzzword dictionary in there. I wanted to be this fun and insightful magnet to your leadership compass.

What StreetLevel leadership is? I believe that everybody is a leader despite their title. You have to lead yourself and others. Manage up. Lead your life and your loved one. My desire was street-level leadership. This is not an ivory tower thing. I'm a street-level guy. That was what was behind that narrative. I love being able to help not only other leaders in high roles but being able to help those that are aspiring to find their leadership voice or move up and go from management to leadership. I mean, street-level people. That's where the rubber meets the road so much. That was where I put a lot of my time in.


Street-level leadership proves that everybody is a leader despite not having an official title. You have to lead yourself and other people.

What would you hope I would ask you?

I'm honored to be on this show, be connected with you and have this conversation. I am cancer free but I go back and get checked every three months. As soon as I forget about it, I'm reminded. I got to go through that for the next couple of years. I'm happy you asked those questions because I'm happy to share. If anybody else is in that position and it doesn't have to be cancer, if this message helps, then that brings value and purpose back to me. I appreciate you asking those questions. I don't feel like there was something else I wanted to say, even though I feel like I always have something to say. I appreciate you asking.

Hallelujah, you are in the moment cancer-free. Congratulations on that way to battle. What are you working on? Where do you grow?

I've disengaged a little bit from everything I was talking about, the brain food and all that. Some of that was because as I was going through treatment, I didn't need another business book or leadership book. What I started yearning towards was I'm going to keep going back to meaningful relationships. I brought up that I discovered this podcast called SmartLess. Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett are good buddies. They give each other a bunch of grief and talk a lot of smacks. They then interviewed their other good friends. That became my next hunger. I listened to a lot of that.

I'm enjoying getting back into some of the additional content. I'm starting to read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Here we are, especially in the mortgage business, we have a lot of headwinds and it's an interesting time. I'm curious about change and how we lead and act. What does the future hold? How do we do things tomorrow that might be different than how we did things yesterday? The mortgage business might be different tomorrow than it was yesterday. I'm very curious about that. I'm discovering some solutions within that. That's where I see myself in the future.

It sounds to me, economically and in different industries, it's new things to learn how to embrace suffering with that teaches us new and greater things.

I got to give a nod to David Goggins. I'm sure you have heard of him. He wrote the book Can't Hurt Me. That's when I learned Embrace The Suffering. I learned that years before I had cancer. When I got cancer, that was the first thing I thought of, “Embrace the suffering.”

My Navy Seal friends call it, “Embrace the suck.” I’m grateful to you. I usually sign off on these things and reiterate some of the things that you said. I've got so many notes here. We do this not because we want to give people advice. We want to ask good questions so that people can find their insights. I knew this would happen, whether they do or don't so I did. Let's keep hoping for great insights to happen. I'm thankful for you and what you brought to the table in this episode.

Thank you. It means a lot to me. I appreciate it. I enjoyed the conversation. If that brings value to anybody, I'm honored. If I can add additional value to the readers, don't hesitate to reach out. I'm always up for going for a walk and having a conversation.

Thank you so much. Have an awesome day. Readers, it doesn't matter what Craig's or my thoughts and ideas were. It matters what yours are. What insights did you have? We'll see you next time.


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