Tapping Into Your Unstoppable Grit and Resilience with Keynote Speaker & Author Danielle Cobo

Tapping Into Your Unstoppable Grit and Resilience with Keynote Speaker & Author Danielle Cobo

Your past doesn't define you; it's a lesson that shapes you for today and the future.

At times, it may seem like the weight of our past is holding us back, defining our limits. But we hold a profound truth within us: our past is merely a chapter, not the entirety of our story. They are the stepping stones that lead us to where we stand today, poised to shape our future with unwavering determination.

Remember that you hold the pen to your story. You're the artist of your destiny. No matter the challenges, setbacks, or unexpected turns, you have the power to shape a future that defies limits and radiates resilience.

In this episode, Danielle Cobo’s journey is a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Her life, much like a rollercoaster ride, took unexpected turns that could have defined her, but instead, they became the very elements that fueled her unstoppable grit and resilience.

Discover how her journey led her to author a remarkable book, "Unstoppable Grit: Break Through the 7 Roadblocks Standing Between You and Achieving Your Goals." This book isn't just words on paper; it's a lifeline for those navigating challenges, a roadmap for those seeking clarity, and a wellspring of hope for those on their journeys.

What are you waiting for? Listen to Episode 49 now!


Thoughts to Empower 

  • “Some of the challenges we experience in life shape us into who we are.” - Danielle Cobo
  •  “Our past does not define us. It shapes us into who we are tomorrow.” - Danielle Cobo
  • “Sometimes it's not that the door is shutting on you, the door is redirecting you to something greater.” - Danielle Cobo
  • “It's what you do today that defines what your future holds.” - Danielle Cobo
  • “Surround yourself with people that support you, that are gonna encourage you, that are gonna motivate you.” - Danielle Cobo
  • “You are more capable than you know, so go after what you want.” - Danielle Cobo
  • “Finding people that have similar aspirations as you is so important.” - Becca Powers
  • “When you're doing things that are new, it's so important to have that support system.” - Becca Powers


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Life Upside Down: The Inspiration Behind 'Unstoppable Grit' 
  • How her upbringing shaped her success
  • Learning grit, resilience, and perseverance from her mother
  • Importance of defining what success means to you
  • Rediscovering your 'Why' when feeling lost or unmotivated
  • Writing 'Unstoppable Grit': Offering Hope and Knowing Success
  • The COBO Framework: Courageous Goals, Objectives, Benchmarks, and Opportunities
  • Defying the Past: Shaping Your Future with Today's Choices


About Danielle:

Danielle Cobo works with professionals to develop grit, resilience, and courage to thrive in a rapidly changing market. As a former Fortune 500 Senior Manager, Danielle led a team to #1 through downsizing, restructuring, and acquisitions. Lessons she learned along the way help leaders create high-performing teams.

Danielle is a keynote speaker and hosts the “Unstoppable Grit Podcast with Danielle Cobo,” a devoted military spouse and mother to 5-year-old twin boys.

Danielle’s book "Unstoppable Grit: Break Through the 7 Roadblocks Standing Between You and Achieving Your Goals" is available today, February 21, 2024 on Amazon.


Connect with Danielle Cobo:


Mentioned on the Show:


Follow Becca Powers:

Welcome to another episode of The emPOWERed Half Hour. I am so excited to bring you today's guest. She is a friend, a mentor, a colleague, and also the author of Unstoppable Grit, Danielle Cobo.

Building a Support System Through Mutual Inspiration

Danielle and I met through our love for speaking, but then we also found out that we have a love for growing businesses. We have a love for speaking. We have a love for writing and we check in on each other once a month.

You and I met at a speaking engagement, and ever since then we just immediately connected and have stayed in touch. It's nice to surround yourself with people who, on similar journeys, you can go to and share what's working, and what's not working, and be there to support each other, inspire each other, and motivate each other.

It's an incredible friendship that I'm extremely grateful for, so had to share that with you guys as the listeners because when you're doing new things, it's so important to have that support system. I wanna turn the conversation back on you, Danielle. So you have a book that is coming out, it's in presale called Unstoppable Grit, and I wanna know the backstory to this book. What inspired you to write it? 

The Inspiration Behind “Unstoppable Grit”

Our life just flipped upside down and there was a lot of adversity and changes, and for me, there was a six-month period where my life changed in every aspect of my life.

My husband had just returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq, so he was gone for a year. At the time, our twins were two and a half years old when he returned, so when he left for deployment, they were in cribs, they were in high chairs. They had just learned to walk. They were still kind of learning how to eat regular food.

And he comes back and they're in toddler beds and they're in normal chairs, and they're eating on their own. So it was a big shift when he came back from being in Iraq in a war zone to then coming home and being with two-and-a-half-year-old twin boys who are thrill seekers who play the floss lava and are running around the house like crazy.

Then right after that, unfortunately, lost my mom, so he came back in January. I lost my mom on March 8th. And then right as I'm planning her celebration of life, March 13th, the pandemic hits, and shuts the world down.

I don't even get to go back home to California to do her celebration of life. And then as I mourned her loss, dealing with the pandemic and the uncertainty of what's gonna transpire, which a lot of us did. I was going through a toxic work environment and unfortunately, there was an acquisition that happened at our company and it really kind of forced a lot of people out of the organization.

So a company I had been with for seven years and dedicated my life to end up leading the organization and I tied my identity to my career and my success.

I did 15 years of medical sales and tied my success to how many awards I had earned and being promoted to senior region manager and to have that kind of flipped outside of me, I just felt lost and I had lost my identity.

So that's what kickstarted this journey that I'm on now of self-discovery and reflection and where I'm at today. 

Learning Grit and Resilience through Upbringing

I think what kind of set me up for success and shaped me into the person that I am today was my upbringing. They say the most formidable years of your life are between the ages of zero and eight, and I truly believe that, yes, at two years old, my mom kidnapped me from my dad, so, I was under the impression that what I was told was that my dad took off on us, that he chose another family and he left us.

When I later eventually found out. That my mom took me from my father. My dad came to pick us up. They had just recently gotten divorced. He came to pick us up one day and the house was empty and that was gone. He eventually found out where I was, but long background story. But basically, I didn't meet my dad really until I was 15 years old.

But in a lot of ways I didn't know that history. So what my mom modeled for me was in my eyes, she was a single parent and when I was five years old, she was serving as a waitress while getting her bachelor's degree and I saw her go from nothing. Us shopping at thrift stores, doing clothes on layaway, living in a tiny apartment with a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate, and I had my bed in the living room.

I saw my mom go from nothing to getting her degree and then becoming a region manager in a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company and rising the corporate ladder. So, determination, grit, resilience, and perseverance are what I learned from my mother, and that was what she modeled. I also learned it from myself because while my mom had all these great attributes about her, she was also bipolar.

So I also experienced in the backend, in the home life, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of adversity, a lot of ebbs and flows of very highs, and then also very depressive states to the point where at 17 I was kicked out. So at 17, I was working full-time, I was going to high school, and at 17 years old, she kicked me out.

So a lot of turmoil in my upbringing but I also believe that some of the challenges we experience in life shape us into who we are and that grit and resilience are because of those formidable years in my early childhood and in my upbringing. 

I have so much compassion for everything you're sharing. One is because I have a very similar background and so I resonate with it a lot, and for the listeners that don't know, I also have lost my mother. My mother was also bipolar, so it was very chaotic to grow up in that type of environment. 'cause one minute like you're the best thing and the next thing it's like, you're driving me absolutely bananas. Get the fuck away from me. Right? So I don't know if yours was like that, but mine was like that and I just wanna share that as we get more out in the world and we get feedback from our listeners, 'cause Danielle has a podcast too. 

What we learn is that we all are so much more similar than we are different.

I just wanna offer the listeners compassion too. So if you're listening to Danielle's story and you're feeling yourself or seeing yourself in her story, I also permit you to lean into her strength, which is where we're gonna transition the interview too but you're not alone, a lot of us go through big struggles. 

Some of us have more like your struggle of season at the beginning of 2020 was severe, but your perseverance was again, the gift that came out of that, and it is a theme that has been in your life for a long time. So I just appreciate you sharing the vulnerability of both of those backgrounds about yourself, because I think that it could help somebody.

So let's switch gears a little bit. So now you've gotten very intimate with your story because you've written a book and you've also tapped into these qualities that you just shared, like now that you're through the writing process, you've got your book in presale. What's an aha or a lesson learned that's on top of your mind right now that you might be able to share with the listeners?

Defining Success on Your Terms

I think the biggest lesson learned is to define what success means for you. There are so many times when we believe success to be based on society's expectations, what we see in movies, what we see on TV, what we see in social media, and instead really defining what success means for us.

That starts by identifying what are your core values. What do you want your purpose to be? I say that because it took that year of 2020 to take a step back and go, what do I want for the rest of my life? What do I want for this next chapter of my life to be? And so much of my identity was tied, like I said, to the title, to the awards, to the income.

And I sat down and I said, okay, what are my core values? Where do I see this future of my life going? What is my purpose? When I think about it. What makes me truly happy as well, and when I stopped defining success based on all the other areas of my life that I thought they were, I started to truly define what success was for me, which was making an impact, that is what success is. 

When I can make a positive impact on people's lives, it's the most rewarding experience, and that in itself has been the main driver of developing the grid because the entrepreneur journey is not easy. There's a lot of ebbs and flows and ups and downs. 

I think about, I have a whole nother level of respect, number one, for people that have started a business, also for people that have written a book. 'cause there's a lot of ebbs and flows with that. But any time that I doubt myself, any time that I get discouraged, I always go back to my why. Why did I start this journey in the first place?

And when I start to doubt myself and go, am I gonna be as successful as I was in corporate? I look back and go at the end of the day, even if my finances didn't get to the same level as they were at corporate, I am so much happier now and grateful, that they matched where they were in corporate and I was, and I had a very successful career in corporate. I was very financially rewarded. But the happiness, you can't put a price on. 

I love that you chose that as the message to share because there are a lot of high achievers who listen to this podcast, and I think they'll probably resonate with wrapping themself up. The predefined success, even if it's happening subconsciously.

A lot of people are salespeople. We have goals, or they're leaders and they're driving initiatives, and of course, they have their metrics that they're trying to meet and exceed and we start wrapping ourselves around those, and as you said, we start identifying ourselves as those, and if we miss something, then we feel a hit to our self-worth.

And it's been a really important lesson for me too, to define what success means to me, because when I was going through my toxic work environment and stuff, what I found is that I ended up working harder to try to make things work, and I lost presence for myself. I lost presence with my kids and I was making multi-six figures too, and I'm like, it's just not worth it.

Like I am never gonna get these years back with my kids. I'm a shell of my former self and there has to be a way where my success and my happiness can coexist, but it took me giving myself permission to redefine what success meant and I just think that's such a valuable share for the listeners.

it's so important to define what success is for us and what we are, and I did the same thing when I was in this work environment. I had lost myself because I was trying to, especially as a manager, I was trying to appease everybody else. I was trying to be liked by everybody else because I had this fear that I wanted to be the best manager.

I wanted to be the most liked manager but in the process, I started to lose myself, and then because of that, I lost authenticity, and then the reality is you're not as effective as a manager when you're not truly authentic, and sometimes that means having the difficult conversations, but whether you are an entrepreneur, whether you're working in corporate, whether you're a salesperson and you wanna achieve your goals, and maybe it's being earning president's trip, always go back to those times when maybe you've hit a setback. Maybe you've hit a rough spot. Go back to the why, why did you set that goal?

Let that be the vision that you align yourself with to keep the motivation going. If it means President's Club because you wanna be sipping a cocktail on the beach of Cabo. I have been very motivated for those myself. I've been on six president's clubs and so I've got accustomed to going on a paid vacation every year, and it was very motivating.

So any time that you hit those rough spots or those setbacks, think about it. What is it that, why did you want to achieve that goal? Who do you get to be when you achieve? 

So that kind of leads me to the next question I wanna ask you. I mean, you just finished writing a book, it's in presale. We're talking about unstoppable grit and resilience, and why are you so passionate about these topics? 

From Adversity to Passion

I'm passionate because I distinctly remember when I did get kicked out, my mom had kicked me out at 17 years old, and I remember the school counselor calling me into the office and the school counselor looking at me, and saying, if you don't go back home and mend things with your mom, you're never going to amount to anything in life.

I know a school counselor out of all people to say that, and I remember looking at her and saying, you don't know a hundred percent of what's going on at home, and for you to put that negative projection on me was not right. I know what I'm capable of and a lot of times there's been and so much uncertainty in my life, so many people telling me what I can and can't do, and I don't want other people to feel that way anymore.

There are a lot of challenges that all of us go through, but our past does not define us. It shapes us into who we are tomorrow, and my hope when people read this book is that they don't feel alone. My hope is that they can relate to some of these stories and that they're provided the tools to help them define success, what it is for them, and define their purpose.

To have the tools to put together their goals and what they want their future to look like and to develop the grit, resilience, and courage to go after what they want and whatever that is in their life and I don't know if you wanna save, it's for a surprise for any listener that picked up your book, but is there any like lesson inside the book or practical tip that you would like to share with the listeners since we're on the topic?

The COBO Framework

There are so many different activities within the bank. I would say it takes a reader through a journey, not only some stories, the lessons learned, but how they can apply it in their life. So everything from activities on how to discover your why. How to discover your unique strengths so that you can leverage those unique strengths, whether you wanna go for a promotion in the company that you're with, or maybe you wanna start a business.

Then there are also activities to help you define what your goals are and when I say goals, I'll allude to this. A lot of times we talk about smart goals, and it's kind of that same philosophy and that same framework, but I take a little bit of a different spin on it, and they're the COBO framework of goals.

So identifying what is your Courageous goal. Something a little uncomfortable that stretches you out a little bit more than what of your Objectives. What are the specific steps that you are going to take to put in action to achieve your goals? Then the B is the benchmark. How are you gonna benchmark your goals? How are you gonna track the progress of your goals? 

And then the O is opportunity. When you think about that courageous goal, what opportunities are gonna open up for you in your future by doing these particular steps? So if you're saying, my courageous goal is I wanna get promoted into a leadership role, what are the objective steps that you're gonna take? How are you gonna benchmark them? And what opportunities are gonna open up because you've done the work? 

And I believe that that's extremely important to think about the opportunities because that is your why. That's what keeps the vision in alignment when you go through those rough spots. 

And that, because there's this saying and it creeps me out. I don't know why I don't like it, but the BHAGs have big, hairy, audacious goals. So I love that you call them courageous goals. 'cause it's a texture thing for me. But I also say like create your super big dreamy goals, but the same type of thing because like right on the other side, and I think you might've mentioned this in the beginning of the podcast, but right on the other side of that uncertainty or that fear, Lives that version of our lives that we've been dreaming of.

And it doesn't necessarily mean like, yes, I mean one day maybe I can live on the Intercoastal like I've always wanted to, or something like that but what I do mean is that it's deeper than that, with you had mentioned defining what success is like when I started to play on that other side of uncertainty.

I have deeper levels of fulfillment than I've ever had. I'm content. I mean, life still has its ups and downs, but I don't feel panicked anymore. I don't feel like I am constantly running and trying to catch things and I love the framework that you laid out because it is simply like being able to identify the goal.

Like you said. What are your objectives? Why? What's the why behind it? Being able to benchmark it, track it. How are you knowing if you're going to hit that goal? Then the opportunities that come from that too. I think that as soon as I was able to do some of those things in my own life, I stepped into that.

I stepped into the insert uncertainty with, what do I wanna say? Maybe some optimism that stuff was gonna work out, and then all of a sudden, I feel like that's where the magic happens, right? I would be, I'd talk to a friend and she's like, Hey, I've got a connection for you. And then that connection would take me to the new thing.

And so anyway, if you're a listener and you just heard this, know that A, you have to pick up her book. And then B, it is on that other side of uncertainty. If you are able to identify it, have your why, and measure the opportunities that you never thought were possible are gonna show up for you. So absolutely think about March 2020, I shared this story at the beginning of the podcast. Everything that took place in 2020, in two and a half years. I have a book coming out. I have a top-rated podcast that's rated top 5% globally. I've started a business, a very successful speaking business. My clients have achieved President's Club for medical sales for the first time in their careers.

I am more present with my kids. In fact, I'm taking a vacation with them pretty soon, for a full week. My life is so much more fulfilling than I had ever imagined. And if you would've told me this two and a half years ago, I would've said, there's no way. Yes, I would've done all of those things. So sometimes it's not that the door is shutting on you, the door is redirecting you to something greater.

I love that. I just got goosebumps from head to toe too. I'm like, yes. So next question, 'cause we're starting to wind down. How can somebody take what we're talking about and use it to empower their lives? 

Shaping Your Future with Today's Choices

I think the biggest thing to listen to this story is, you are in control of your life and there's gonna be a lot of challenges that are gonna come your way. Like many of us, we're all gonna go through uncertainty, we're all gonna go through adversity. It's up to you what you do with it. We can either sit there and be victims of our situation, or we can turn that pain into our purpose. We can turn our mess into our message. 

And so I say this to you for those listeners in saying, your past doesn't define you. Today's does not define you. It's what you do with today that does define where your future holds. So really take some time in those times of uncertainty. Take some time to sit down, put yourself in a quiet room, and identify kind of what you want your future to look like. What is your why, and then take steps to go after what you want?

Surround yourself with people who support you, who are gonna encourage you, who are gonna motivate you. And if there are people in your life that drag you down, we may wanna reevaluate that and kind of scoot them to the side a little bit. Because I did. I did in 2020 there. My relationships have shifted since then, and I have an incredible group of friends who are very close, who are very motivating and positive.

The people in my life that brought negativity, they're not in my life as much anymore and I'm okay with that. It does and naturally happens. 

Like you said, if you had told me three years ago too that my life would look like this, I wouldn't have believed it and so this is kind of on the fly.


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