Defining Success: Brooks Dame


Brooks Dame is the founder of Proof Eyewear. The Boise, Idaho-based business is the leading sustainable eyewear brand in the world. Brooks has founded a handful of startups, as well as supported his family’s global business that was started by his grandfather more than 60 years ago. He and his brothers/partners survived ABC’s hit show Shark Tank while pitching Proof Eyewear to the Sharks. He’s filmed two full length documentaries in South and Central America.

Brooks lives in Idaho with his wife and three sons. He's a graduate of Brigham Young University and received his MBA from Thunderbird. He enjoys the working in the non-profit, startup and entrepreneurship fields and can often be found speaking about related topics at universities and in the community. In his free time, Brooks likes to travel and spend time outdoors, with family and with friends.

How do you define success?

Success to me is not a short term thing. It's longevity. It's continuity. A one-time win is easily accomplished, but true success is a legacy. It doesn’t matter if it's in business, life, family, or school. The journey for success should be continuous.  

In a nutshell, I'd define success as happiness -- true happiness in what you are doing. Can you wake up in the morning and feel happy with where you are, where you are going and how you treat others? It is a journey for sure and not a destination.  

How do you measure your own success?

For me personally, it comes down to asking myself 'do I feel fulfilled? Do I feel like I’m contributing to my community, my business, and my family in a positive way?" I want to be net positive in my relationships by giving back more than I take. I’m a big believer that I’ll give your 51% and only take 49% and be happy with that, because I’ve given more than I've taken.

I think a lot of people measure success in wins and losses, but I don’t think that tells the full story. I measure things in terms of w’s and l’s, but for me its wins and learnings. Winners get the hype, the glory and that feels really good. I’m a little odd in that i don’t mind taking an L if I can learn from that loss, if I can grow from it. And usually I do. People rarely win all the time (regardless of what you see on their Instagram feed or what they tell you). Losses should equate to learnings. I measure myself off a loss that I can learn from as much as I do a win. You have to learn how to take an L and spin it into a learning.

How does success feel?

Success for me stirs two feelings: temporary and empowering. Babe Ruth once said that, "yesterday’s home runs don’t win todays games". I feel that’s very true. I’m not as impressed with a resume that’s got a lot of success early on but nothing more recent, because things are constantly evolving. So the fact that you graduated with honors carries some weight with me because it tells me you’re smart but what did you do last year? What were you involved in? What did you achieve? What did you build?  

The moment success strikes feels great but that feeling for me is very temporary because I know that I’ve got to push for the next success. You can’t ride that success wave for too long before the it's over and you have to hop back in line again.

My goal is to figure out a hack so that the wait “in line” isn't so long between successes. For example, can I leverage this success into my next success? What can I learn from this success to speed up the cycle of success? The other feeling is quite the opposite in that it makes me feel empowered and strong. You often hear people say, “He’s on a roll”. Winning and success begat more winning and success, I think because of what I explained above about it being temporary and wanting to have it continuously. Once you figure out how to hack success, it becomes easier to do it the next time. 

When was the last time you felt successful? What happened?

Coming home after a long day when one or both of my oldest boys gives me a hug and yells, “Dad!”. To be honest, this feels like success, because for that moment (in my kids eyes) I’m cooler than the cartoon they're watching or toy they're playing with. That happened last night and felt pretty good, so chalk it up to a W.

How do you celebrate your success?

I’m actually not good about doing this. I need to be better at accepting the victories as they come. I’m often accused of moving to quickly off one success to try to catch the next. It's something I need to work on more not so much for me but also for those around me.

They deserve a moment to be recognized for their role in OUR success. I do always acknowledge it and there’s a high five or two thrown around.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be successful?

Be patient. Success doesn't come overnight. I often see people trying very hard at something and getting frustrated because the results aren’t coming as quickly as they like.

I get that. Creating success is not easy and there is no formula. I often laugh a bit when people say, “Wow, Proof Eyewear has blown up this year, you guys have come out of nowhere”. We’ve been at it for over 6 years now and are always hustling with our team everyday to get there.

Remember that people rarely see the late hours, long trips, struggles. They only see the finished product. But we were in my garage when we started, not our flagship store and HQ downtown. So stick with it. Grind it out. Enjoy the journey and be patient. Good things take time.


Twitter: @brooksdame | Instagram: @brooksproof |