Invent a New Route: Possibilities are Limitless with Dr. Jeffrey Darville

With 22 years of experience in business and education, Jeffrey J. Darville, Ph.D. is an insightful professor, keynote speaker, and researcher. Currently as Professor of Business at La Roche University and formerly MBA Director and Assistant Professor in the College of Business Administration at the American University in the Emirates, Dubai, UAE, Jeff has taught Marketing, Negotiations, Change Management, OB, and Leadership. Jeff serves on committees, publishing, leading the MBA program, SACS and AACSB member accreditation efforts. Through collaborative organizational leadership and strategic marketing, Jeff has implemented changes, built programs, orchestrated profitable growth, and improved curricula. 

As an employee and consultant, he has worked for Verizon, AIG, PPG, Alcoa, Sony, Bayer, and Siemens-Westinghouse and well as SME businesses and start-ups. Completing his B.S. in Marketing and Management from Grove City College in 2000, Jeff gained his M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Geneva College in 2008, and his Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Leadership from Gannon University in 2017. Jeff has published his models on Kinetic Leadership, Value-Added Services and Historical leadership. His research interests are in Strategic decision-making, the use of rationality and intuition, Top Management Teams, Servant Leadership, HRM, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Intercultural communication.



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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Entrepreneurial insight
  • Fueled by determination and support structure
  • Investment is an asset, try investing in yourself
  • A dream to travel became a reality
  • See the world differently as a visionary leader

In this episode…

Do you know where you want to go? Do you have a plan to get there?

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Jeffrey Darville shares his unconventional career path with Dr. Russell Strickland. From working for large companies to real estate business to technology business to startups. There were stumbling blocks along the way, which led Dr. Darville to the start of his doctoral journey. Determination was the fuel and driving force to earning his Ph.D. and pursuing his dreams—entrepreneurship and travel. He visualized a plan and set it in motion.

Dr. Jeffrey Darville will inspire and fuel your mind with ideas to move forward!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro  00:03

Welcome to an unconventional life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percenters out there, who ends their doctoral degrees, and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist and teacher, author, dissertation coach, and more. Dr. Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland  00:28

Hello, and welcome everyone to an Unconventional Life. I’m your host, Dr. Russell Strickland. And today I have with me, Dr. Jeffery Darville. Dr. Darville has 22 years of experience in business and education. He’s currently a professor of Business at LaRoche University. And he has spoken internationally. We’re going to talk some about that. That sounds super interesting to me. He’s also been an employee and consultant for such huge organizations as Verizon, AIG, Alcoa, Sony, Bayer, really just been around the block and has a lot of wonderful things to share with you folks has had an unconventional journey of his own. And so, I’m happy to welcome with me on the broadcast today. Dr. Darville. Jeff, welcome.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  01:14

Thank you, Dr. Strickland, I appreciate it.


Dr. Russell Strickland  01:16

Awesome. I’d like to start off by letting everyone know that today’s episode has been being brought to you by Dissertation Done and that Dissertation Done, and we help adult doctoral students through the dissertation process. So if you know that you’re gonna be facing a dissertation in the future, the best thing for you to do to get through this thing safely, effectively and efficiently is to get some help. And you can reach out to us at to find out all about that. If you are like most of our students, though, and you are in the fire right now and know that you need help, certainly reach out to us as well, Now, if by any chance you’ve reached the other side of the doctoral journey, or you are functioning or what the function that experts face as a coach or a consultant or a counselor, reach out to us at, because the best way to get your message out there into the world is to not only have the first name, Doctor, but to have literally written the book on your area of expertise. And we help folks with that as well. So find out more that’s commercial. Dr. Darville welcome.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  02:22

Great. Thanks, again. Glad to be here.


Dr. Russell Strickland  02:24

I usually like to start off by asking folks what started this journey for you? You know, we’re it’s it’s a few of us that get this these degrees about 1% of the population, according to the Census Bureau. And it’s so it’s an unusual decision for folks to make what what was it that prompted your decision to go get your doctoral degree?


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  02:46

Yeah, the way I would describe it was, would be this that I have tried to conventional life. You know, I tried the the career path out of school. I got a bachelor’s degree in marketing management, I thought I’d either work my way up the corporate ladder or start my own business, you know, pretty quickly decided the entrepreneurial path is something I was interested in. But I wanted to learn from other entrepreneurs. So joined a couple of startups, multiple startups, started my own real estate firm while doing consulting. And of course, you have bills to pay, and then I’m getting married, and I have children on the way. So, kind of went back to, you know, the full time employment with sales jobs, and then started moving into admissions for a for profit, education provider.


Dr. Russell Strickland  03:40



Dr. Jeffrey Darville  03:40

And then I did Ed Tech, to education, technology sales for K through 12. And another startup technology company in Pittsburgh.


Dr. Russell Strickland  03:51

What did you think of the startups a lot? A lot of our folks have you had like the big box consulting or, or other large corporate experience was there. I know, you’ve mentioned that you had that as well. But what was that startup experience like for you?


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  04:04

It’s kind of interesting, because I mentioned my large companies that I’ve worked with early on, Verizon, and Siemens, Westinghouse and Bayer as a consultant. But I was working for a technology company consulting for those businesses. So, I got to see or Verizon Wireless, I was an employee, but for three, three plus years, but so I did get to see both the inside and the outside game. And, you know, the startups with my, my dad was a technology CEO. And he had always been kind of an intrapreneur. So within his own businesses, trying to push things and start things, and he had worked for some other smaller companies, too. So, I had seen the technology business from his perspective. Now I’m more of a power user. I enjoy technology, but I’m not a programmer. Marketing and business operations management was more my areas of interest. So, getting in the startups. Early on, and even I’ve continued to work with startup companies. It’s something that you know, I think there’s an attraction to being your own boss. You know, the freedom, in some sense that comes from owning your own business. But I always tell people, when you own your own business, that business can also own you.


Dr. Russell Strickland  05:21

Yeah, you’re free to work yourself to death. Right?


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  05:23

Right. Yeah. So it’s a funny thing. I mean, so, you know, I have experienced these ebbs and flows. And we’re, you know, there’s sometimes I’m just, I’m working my brains out, and I’m doing stuff for a business, and then you realize that if you don’t own the business, you’re working for someone else. So, then you start feeling like, okay, well, I need to do this on my own. But as for me, I was working on my, you know, real estate business and other technology businesses. It’s, you know, the success rate is, is relatively low, and only through failure, are you going to learn how to succeed, and I think that I’ve seen businesses fail my own and others, part of my family business, you know, they’ve struggled, and we, you know, and I think that’s just expected in the startup world, if you think you’re gonna hit a home run the first time at bat. Good luck. I just, it’s not gonna happen. It happens unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg or somebody.


Dr. Russell Strickland  06:11

Right? Zuckerberg and gates, there’s a few of them, you know, the names usually when when you get the home runs right off, right at first, at bat. But, um, but I think this discussion is really interesting for folks that are listening, because I know a lot of our folks are either running their own businesses now, or they want to start their own business. And they might not think of it as starting their own business, because they’re like, oh, I’m just going to be a coach, or I’m going to be a consultant or something like that. But newsflash, yes, that’s, you know, running your own business.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  06:40

Absolutely. Being a PhD, in many ways is your own business. That’s essentially what the academic world is like, because you’re writing books, intellectual property, most high paid PhDs, doctors, professors, or whomever, whether you’re researching, you know, research scientist, you know, it’s your intellectual property that really makes your money. If you can get a salary from a university or from a business, that’s great, but it’s a patent or book, those are the things that are, you know, going to separate you and give you a path, maybe the book royalties, you know, you could get a New York Times bestseller. But even the idea of having a book that you’ve written is a pathway to consulting and training and other forms of income beyond the conventional W-2.


Dr. Russell Strickland  07:23

That’s exactly what we focus on with our expand your authority program here. For those on YouTube, it’s got it comes right behind me. The, the whole idea there is writing a book is like the best business card ever. A lot of folks will not read your book, but the fact that you’ve written the book means that they’ll want to call you up. And one of when I was first kind of starting to do these sorts of things, I read an author extensively, who’s a consultant and, and professional speaker. And he said, it took him a while to get used to the fact that companies out, you know, people in companies would pay him $10 for his book, and then they would turn around and pay him $10,000, to read it to them, which is how he characterized his consulting work.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  08:07

Exactly. Right? You have thought through these issues in more depth than anyone else, if you’ve written that book, you know, you could maybe name a dozen people that you would consider as experts in that particular area, generally. Now, again, maybe depending on the topics of the book, and what the niche is, you could you could say that there may be 100 or so people, but you know, the group of 1%, as a PhD has been narrowed to your specific area. And this is just true in life, you know, we say, with PhD, you know, you learn more and more about less and less a smaller area.


Dr. Russell Strickland  08:41

Right. And, and, but that doesn’t have to be the case that is often for traditional PhDs, that’s what happens is you drill in you drill and drill. And one of the things that I’ve noticed a lot of our guests tend to, to indicate that the best thing they got out of being a PhD, is learning how to learn, like really learning how to learn, so that you can become an expert on anything fairly quickly. Because you have the tools to create that. To be an absolute world class expert, yeah, requires that you do that traditional thing of drilling down very, very deep. But to stand right next to that absolute expert, so that only five or 10 people in the world to tell the difference between you two, that’s that’s actually relatively easy for me.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  09:07

Fair enough.  Right.


Dr. Russell Strickland  09:24

If they want.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  09:24

Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s just the choice. You have to choose at some point, what your PhD topic is, you know, what your book is going to be about what the thesis of this book is, if you will, in the title, you, you, you begin marketing yourself and branding yourself according to the areas that you choose to focus on. And you can’t focus on everything. I mean, you can focus on multiple things over time, but at some point, you become known as the dissertation done. Expand your authority, I mean, that those those tags matter and that’s my marketing background too. So I see it and it has a big impact on how you’re perceived in the world, and what types of gigs and jobs and positions you’ll get in the future.


Dr. Russell Strickland  10:06

100%. And when you mentioned in there was gigs, jobs and positions, important for folks to understand that we’re not just talking to entrepreneurs here, because, again, if you aren’t functioning at a high level in your career with or without a PhD, but particularly with a PhD, when you’re functioning at that level, you are effectively, you know, a hired gun at this point, whether you are internal or external. You know, we’ve talked to folks on the podcast before about how many times people switch careers these days, not just jobs, but careers. So you have to understand that you’re building your experience that is bringing with it, all of the interesting things that that that you can bring to an organization. And there’s some branding involved in that you have to understand what it is you’re bringing, what is you want to do.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  10:54

So I’d like to kind of circle back and connect to things that we’ve been talking about that you’re, you know, that that you just mentioned, and one is if I’ve heard a statistic that a lot of the most successful startup companies have individuals in their 40s starting businesses after working for 20 years, and it’s their experience working within a system, possibly under good managers or great leaders, and benefiting from that experience that they can take with them into their next job, or next business, the business they start and they literally create a job, they create mother the CEO position or in partnership with other founders, multiple positions, but they create this small business two or three, five people maybe themselves being one of the principles and then ownership rights and stocks and the things that they take out of ownership. But then, you know, as a, you know, they start maybe with a kind of nightlight, moonlighting, you know, starting this business on the weekends, and it becomes a larger business. I was talking with a friend just the other day playing basketball, he was saying that a buddy of his at a work union tech company left and started a online fishing company fishing online. And he’s he’s done more in that than he would with his other and he wasn’t really fishing was a hobby of his but he started that business. Now, again, as a PhD, your business name and focus will be related, hopefully, probably to something that you’ve done in the same way, you know, often, but I still think that that unconventional life leaves open the possibility that your PhD gives you credibility as a doctor that becomes, as you say, your first name and…


Dr. Russell Strickland  12:23

It’s huge. It’s, it’s so I think back to you know, Spider Man and and Uncle Ben when he’s, I think it was I forgot the gear drive when he said, you know to, to those who to whom great powers given also, you know, there’s great responsibility. Most folks, if you if you are outside of academia, if you’re not living in the walls of university, most folks don’t know another PhD. Now there’s, it’s about 1%. So if you hit the population in general, when you introduce yourself as Dr. So and so they’re going to be in awe, they’re they’re going to expect that you are godlike, that you can do anything in a sense, because they just don’t have a full understanding of what you’ve been through what you’re really capable of. And that’s a tremendous power to wield, because you can kind of write your own scripts, you can call your own shots, when when you are able to introduce yourself as Doctor you. But you also need to be respectful of the fact that at some point, whether you can do it or not, is going to show up, you have to make sure that you’re you’re telling people things that you actually know know what you know, know what you don’t know.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  13:30



Dr. Russell Strickland  13:31

And make sure you’re being very clear, when you’re talking with someone about which it is, it’s okay to speculate on things. Just don’t speculate on things while you need someone else’s, make sure you’re telling them exactly what’s true.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  13:43

For how you should look, this is part of the dissertation process, too, right? We tend to tend to use more neutral language, we don’t make claims of proof when it’s right correlation that we’re you know, causality versus correlation. There’s just there’s a, there’s an attitude of humility that can come with what you learn what you know, and what you realize you don’t know, which is so much the mountain of knowledge.


Dr. Russell Strickland  14:00

It’s an incredibly good thing for academics and for people who are who are, you know, speculating on the forefronts of knowledge, to be clear on what you know, what you don’t know. And it can be an incredibly debilitating thing in the business world. Because whenever you say you don’t know something, they immediately pounce on you they think is a weakness or something like that. They don’t see it like we do in academia as a strength, right? No, I don’t know this. It’s okay. I don’t know this because nobody knows everything. Right. So


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  14:24

that’s an opportunity there. If there’s an open question, we can research it, we can figure things out. I think some businesses are becoming more open to the idea of experimentation. and research, it’s almost, you know, that scientific approach can find its way into big data analytics and, and other things. So there’s, there’s opportunities there. But in terms of my own path, I think that at some point, I realized I could do it. I had the capability within me to become a PhD, a doctor. I knew it and it felt like I was leaving something on the table if I didn’t pursue it.


Dr. Russell Strickland  14:32

Right.  The I think is really the desire to do it more than anything, there are probably some people who it’s virtually impossible like you just you’re, you’re probably not going to be able to get there in the time you have left on earth, they’re probably some of those people. But I think that they’re much, much fewer than most people would think. I think that the PhD is a lot of persistence. And certainly, some intelligence and intelligence and smarts help a lot. But I think it’s much less of a requisite than many people would think. I’ve seen some people who, who I don’t think are smart, but they know their stuff. And they work really, really hard. And they earn that degree.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  15:39

Right. And then the other than the flip side, you might have somebody who’s a genius, and they’re not PhD material, because they’re too unconventional in that in some sense, and so they can hardly, unfortunately, manage their own life. And that’s a sad thing, because they were so interested in that topic mean, this is like a chemical engineering or biochemistry or astrophysics, and kind of that way, I’m not referring to it, but there’s somebody mathematician, they can be so interested in that particular area. For me, personally, I, I tend to have a broader base. And I appreciate that about myself, but there was an academic thread to my life where I kept coming back to, you know, I enjoyed learning in my bachelor’s degree, not just getting A’s. In the master’s degree, I realized I loved writing, and I could get the top grades based on both my ability to synthesize and integrate information and explain it in papers. And that became a strength of mine. And then in the PhD, there was that statistic challenge of statistics. And I’m not a mathematician, but I could, I could do it, I could understand enough about the, you know, the regression analyses and structural equation modeling and some of these tools that we could use I, I got it enough now, you know, there’s, there’s a sense in which I continue to come back to it, and I want to use it more, but it’s not like, um, sometimes people are like, I’m, I’m a pig in mud when it comes to data, you know, I just love it. And I’m all about data. And I and I have seen those pockets of my life. But in general, I’m not only doing jobs that require the statistical analysis, but because I had enough understanding, to make it through and use Stata, and R and SPSS and SAS, and these, these tools are all very similar, but you have to be able to work your way through that. And I think there’s those limiting factors that do come along, whether it’s raw intelligence, personality, hard work, statistical.


Dr. Russell Strickland  17:32

I truly believe that I’ve seen enough that I think the real limiting factor is, well, twofold. It is determination, it’s sticking with it. But it’s also having the appropriate networking support around you that you can do it. Because most PhD programs don’t point the way or at least they don’t point the way sufficiently adequately. They might give you a general heading, but it’s not going to be specific enough to get you there, you got to figure out the heading as you go. And to have someone point you in the right direction. I tell folks all the time, you have to keep your feet moving. But if they’re not pointing the right direction, it doesn’t matter. So. So persistence is a big one. But you also have to have someone to make sure you you’re staying on track.


Dr. Jeffrey Darville  18:13

Right. I agree with you wholeheartedly, I think of my PhD experience. And, again, I think that I had that desire, I think it is hard work that got me through it and not, you know, any level of intelligence or something like that, that that was helpful. I think that there was some understanding there, there’s some natural abilities and gifts and talents that we may have that that we can draw from as a resource. But it was really determination, in the end. You know, my wife and my two children were able to see me graduate, which was awesome for me in 2017. And that support structure was very important. And the Ph D program that I was a part of did have a cohort format. So, there was started with, like, 12, and then 10 and then we got down to about six, that really were pretty close together and we were competing with each other too. It’s kind of funny, because there’s an element of cooperation helping, right but there’s also the sense of I want to get done first, which I didn’t but I was like third out of the six or so and that mattered to me in terms of I had some goals and timeframes. You know, you’ve talked in your life and in your own career about the challenges of dealing with an advisor issues, you know, your advisor in your first PhD graduate program, I got, you know, passed away unexpectedly. Mine had moved to India. So, he was from India and moved back to India for about six months, and fortunately returned to the United States for about my to finish my PhD because I was stuck and I was going okay, I’m gonna have to find a new advisor. So I was just kind of in hold for six months, he was still kind of helping me, you know, we tried and I had stuff I needed to do and I was shifting to another professor there who could step in as my advisor, and then he decided to come back and I was thankful because picking up with a new advisor can be a real slog and you can be stuck with a lot of things. But we had a pretty good system in place as a program with a cohort and the way that they had structured the program, three years of coursework, and then like three years of dissertation work, which is still substantial, but it was structured early on that this is where we’re going, we’re going towards the dissertation. So, we’re doing research methods, we’re doing dissertation seminars, we’re doing statistics to build up to scaffolding you into the dissertation phase.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.