This article is not just going to be about success; it’s going to be about the journey. It’s going to be about reality. The road to your future probably more closely resembles Route 110 with all its potholes than it does a nicely paved walking trail through the woods. There is a journey along the way to success which is, honestly, more valuable for you to know than just the destination. A story does not begin at the end, and success does not come at the beginning.  

When discussing successful alumni, it is important to start at the beginning of their stories. You can read success story after success story, but what is most important is how they got there and how they overcame challenges along the way. Only highlighting one’s success is dehumanizing and can end up being more discouraging than inspiring. The struggles, the academic burnout, and the uncertainty is where the true story lies: in the reality. 

Our alumni spotlight this semester agrees in the importance of sharing with you his struggles as a student and thereafter in order to inspire you to keep going. He is now the extremely successful founder and CEO of Quick Fi Capital, but when he first started college he struggled, lost his drive, lost his inspiration, and forgot why he was even doing all of it in the first place. He almost quit. This is the real, raw, and uncensored journey to success with Daniel Hardwick. 

We’ll start at the beginning, as promised. Daniel Hardwick left high school as a member of the National Honor Society with eight varsity letters and a strong work ethic. He enrolled in a university and soon found he was no longer the same driven student he was when he left high school. Instead of engaging in class how he knew he should, he began concentrating more on the social aspects of college and less on academics. His GPA dropped from a 3.76 in the fall semester to a 2.6 in the spring. While Daniel attributes a lot of his academic struggle at his first university to overflowing class sizes and lack of one-on-one attention, he also admits that somewhere along the way he lost his drive, passion, and inspiration.  

At some point he realized that if he didn’t make a drastic change, everything he’d been working toward his entire life between academics, sports, and extra curriculars would all be for nothing. He took a step back and remembered why he started this in the first place: his passion. He eventually decided to transfer to Farmingdale State College because it was closer to home, and he was excited about the business program here. He found that the professors here were experts in their fields and were not just teaching out of a book, which helped him stay on track along with his own determination.  

When asked what advice he would give to students who are currently experiencing this same academic burnout or who are starting to lose their drive, Daniel said his advice is some which stems from a question he was asked as a student here at FSC by one of his business professors, “How big is your want to?” 

As a student, that question got him thinking, but as the successful businessperson he is today, it brings even more questions to the table. Daniel begins, “Everyone needs to find their way. Go back. Why did you start in the first place? What were you looking to achieve, and what were the reasons behind why you wanted it?”  

Figuring out the answers to those questions for himself and keeping them present in the back of his mind were imperative to achieving and keeping the success he has today. He said his reasons were never about wanting money or cars— it was about his family. But make no mistake, he also said it was about proving people wrong. Growing up, many people told him he’d never make it, even saying he’d end up in jail; he wanted those who doubted him in the past to look at him in surprise and see what he was able to accomplish.  

“The hardest battle is within,” Daniel emphasizes, “You have to wake up every day and make a decision to put your head in the right place to achieve your goal. Being happy is a choice to be made, not an emotion felt. You’ve already gone this far; you need to keep going.”    

After making the decision to transfer to FSC, Daniel stacked all his classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so he could work the other days of the week. He says he thrived at FSC due to smaller class sizes, one-on-one attention, and the curriculum being taught by caring professors who had real life experience in their given fields. He emphasized how his professors always had office hours and many were available before and after class for one-on-one attention and extra help. The Farmingdale State College community is unlike any other. Being able to really get to know your professors, their stories, and ask their advice makes all the difference. 


“Our past only dictates our future if we live there."


Daniel eventually switched to working full-time during the day and taking night classes. He had the same incredible experience with his night professors. Daniel said he greatly respected all the professors he had while attending FSC. Many of the ones he met during his night classes were working full-time in their field during the day, and as someone doing the same, he really respected them and their clear knowledge. He also mentioned how his professors taught him many of the tools he still uses today as the owner of his own company. 

“Our past only dictates our future if we live there. No matter what your background is or what your parents did, how much money you grew up with, who hurt you or bullied you in high school, no matter what's happened- your past does not equal your future. It’s very difficult in life to forgive people, especially if they’ve done heinous things to you, but the best thing to do for yourself is forgive and move on. Remember you're not forgiving them for them or their benefit, but for you. Not for them, for you. It will clear your head, wash the slate clean, and with no hate in your heart, you can move on and do you. No matter where you came from, it does not decide what you're doing in the future,” says Daniel. 

Proving this, he went on to graduate from FSC with a BS in Business Management in the Spring of 2003 with a 3.91 GPA, earning summa cum laude. He was also Student Marshall of the business department and in the Sigma Beta Delta Business honor society. After graduation he achieved series 7, 66, and life accident and health licenses. He worked as a financial advisor until June of 2005 with Ladenburg Thalman and was recruited as a Sales Agent selling LAH for Health and Life Direct. He then became the top producer in the first month, beating the other top sales representative by over 40%. He continued as the top producer for 36 months and became managing director in 2008. As managing director, he tripled the size of his sales staff, increased production by five times, and led over 100 sales reps within two years. The company closed in November 2013, and Daniel took his top sales reps and got into banking and business financing at a private merchant bank, serving as managing director there as well, where he also set all-time sales records.  

Daniel decided to start his own business in April of 2016 in private merchant banking and business financing called Quick Fi Capital. “I have run my own company since that time,” says Daniel, “We are producing an average of 2 million dollars a month in business loans and are a well-respected member of the business financing community. This has enabled me to make four to five times as much annual income as I made in the past, but also gives me the luxury of being able to spend more time with my family and not miss any of their concerts or sporting events.” 

The decision to open his own company actually came from a lesson he learned from one of his business professors at FSC that stuck with him years after graduating. Daniel said he very vividly remembers this lecture from one of his business management classes; it was about engagement. He was taught the importance of management engaging with their employees and really interacting with them. His professor used real life examples and explained that managers cannot just tell their employees what to do but show them, and work hard alongside them every day. He was told this is because employees will very rarely listen to what you say but will follow what you do. He realized that he was not receiving this kind of management in any of his previous jobs and decided he wanted to make sure he could lead people in the right way. He said a lot of his bosses yelled, and he didn’t respect them because of it. Daniel knows that many people are self-motivated, and no one needs the kind of leadership where the boss is only critical and not encouraging. He believes employees should be told not just when they do something wrong but also when they do something right. His employees have told him that they work for him, and he replied, “No, we work together.” Daniel views his employees as equals, and this does not just come from personal experience, but from that specific lesson he learned at FSC, which he deemed the most important academic lesson he learned. 

Going back to his academic burnout and loss of drive in college, it is clear that Daniel was not always walking down the path of success. When asked what he attributes his success to he said, “Never letting myself quit even when I was on the verge of it in college. Don’t give up. You have to either find a way or make one. Break down brick walls. If someone tells you that you can’t do something, prove them wrong. Every time I was told I couldn’t do something, it only made me want to do it more. If you find a way to make it happen, then it will.” 

Many students at FSC are self-motivated and want to start their own businesses. Knowing this, Daniel gave some advice. He said, “Winston Churchill said, ‘He who fails to plan is planning to fail.’ I had never been a huge writer, but I just sat down and wrote everything down on paper. I strategically planned exactly how much office space, IT, and utilities would cost and what it would take to break even. I even planned how many months I could afford to break even or lose money. Success has to be your only option. Burn bridges behind you. Financial planning is something that is not taught in high school, so take advantage of the classes that are offered at FSC. Learn about finances. Finances are not just important in starting your own business, but also in your personal life.” If you would like to hear more about Daniel Hardwick’s story or more of his advice, he was recently featured on the Chavez Podcast (episode #123) where he speaks on economics, OMI, NFTs, and the future of investing. 

As you can see, the path to success is not linear. There are bumps and roadblocks along the way, but if you keep at it, you will find success and happiness. Don’t let what happened to you control you. Take back what's yours: your life, your future. You decide. Follow your passion, work hard, and take advantage of all FSC has to offer. Engage inside and outside of class. You can make the difference you want to see in the world, big or small. Even the small is big. Do not discount yourself. You are important, and you can do it.