013: Todd VanDuzer - Creating SMART Goals for a Bright Future

Meet Co-Founder of Student-Tutor, Todd VanDuzer, a private in-home tutoring organization that has a genuine desire to help students "Spark Bright Futures." Together with his partner, Laura Petersen, Student-Tutor is proving to help students achieve substantially better results through time-tested principles of setting, reviewing and being held accountable to their goals.

Throughout his life, Todd has found success through following "SMART Goals", that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic, and
  • Time-based. 

In seeking to change his own life, Todd began holding himself accountable to personal goals that he set through writing them down and regularly reviewing them.  Not even five years later from doing so, he has earned over $85,000 in scholarships to put towards his schooling, has visited over 33 countries, took up rock climbing where he has frequently summited over 2,000 ft. cliff faces and even found himself 3,200 feet in mid-air, tethered to a highline between two fjord's in Norway and founded a non-profit, Yoga and More in the Park, in Tempe, Arizona. 

Learn how Todd has taken the SMART Goal process to transform his own life as he now seeks to help others do the same. 




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So… a little less than a year ago… I had probably the lowest point in my entrepreneur life I think. It was a turning point of the company.  We were really trying to still figure out who we were before like how I said now we are just doing really well.

We were still trying to figure out our niche and I was leaving out on my trip in a year and a half and I was going “Crap – like how am I going to do it?;I’m leaving on the trip no matter what because that is my goal.” I had set a date no matter what … I was going to leave. And I was worried that it wasn’t going to be set where it wasn’t going to be able to continue to grow and we had something that was going to be sustainable and that could help me get income and that would help reach my end goal of being able to have something to go back to.

I was still going to go on the trip, I didn’t care. It was a really stressful time. It was really exhausting we weren’t paying ourselves and we were really struggling and we… it was really difficult and I guess that would be almost like failure.

But, I remember sitting in a room with my buddy Max and he was like “Dude, you just gotta embrace this time. These are the times that you are going to look back on and miss. Everyone else went through it. Steve Jobs Went through this. Walt Whitman… any person who was striving for something went through this and this is what made their success so great.

They went through this tough time where they just didn’t know if they were doing the right thing. They were so confused and I remember… there was a period of two or three days that I’m usually very, very confident with every decision I make. I think I’m always right, even though I’m probably most of the time wrong. But I think I’m always right.

Those three days I remember just going through and not being able to make decisions, not being confident in them and it was very… I guess the best way to put it is humbling. It was very difficult and humbling.

I was having a really rough time and I was like “what the heck is going on with me?” I was really stressing out. It was really freaking me out.

I got through that period and I got that confidence back and I kept on pushing forward and I was like, “you know what, I’m going to make this happen” and I worked really hard and we got through it.

I think we’re on a breaking point right now where we’re about to scale and we’re about to be a really very big successful tutoring company and I’m really excited for that. So I think the biggest thing with failure is like – enjoy it while you can. It’s not going to last forever. As long as you keep pushing through it’s going to be something that you look back on really miss and cherish honestly…


I like helping people go after their dreams. I like helping inspire people. I know that’s pretty cliché because I know a lot of people probably want that to but in all honesty I like individuals to step outside of their comfort zones. I think that’s the biggest way to put it.

Step outside of your comfort zone and go after your dream. Do what you want to do!  I don’t care what it is. If you love working that 9 to 5 job at that corporate office then great – all to you. Keep doing it. Great.

But if that’s not really where your heart lies, what actions are you taking today to get out of that spot ? Or to get where your heart lies. No one is going to do it for you.

You have complete control of that ship – you can sail that to the North, to the East to the West, wherever you want and now you have to choose where you want to sail that ship. You’re the captain. You’re either going to sink it; you’re going to keep going; You’re going to get through that storm; or are you just going to give up?

Overall I just like to help people to gather the courage to step outside of their comfort zone and go after their dream. 


I think just life honestly… I don’t think it’s too complicated. I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful to have had the ability to do what I’m doing. I’m grateful to have such amazing friends and family that supports me with my dreams and my endeavors. I’m grateful for having the courage to do what I want to do and I’m really saddened by individuals that don’t. 

I think that’s the biggest thing. I’m just very grateful for having I guess a level head and not [haven’t had] too many traumatic experiences, any honestly when I was younger, having had a really great mother that raised me. I think that was probably a lot to do with who I am (not a lot, the majority). I mean her coming from Guatemala and then raising me, like the only one to graduate high school all this stuff I think she’s had a lot of influence. 

My Dad too, but my Mom especially and I think if I would put it down, yea, I would probably just put down my Mom. I am very grateful to have had an amazing mother that cared about be so much and helped me to get to where I am today.


I would say go after it. Especially if you are younger and in your twenties, just go after it.

Dive, put your head into it, start reading books. Try to get into communities. Start networking. Meet as many people as you can. Shake as many hands. Learn as much as you can. Just learn along the way and realize it’s going to be a long time before you’re going to be decently successful at it.

It’s going to take you many, many, years. Maybe you’ll be lucky and you’ll hit the jackpot the first time around. Most entrepreneurs, they fail several times before they kind of hit it right. It took us many, many years before I feel like we hit it right.

We are finally doing things right. It takes time to learn who to hire. It takes time to learn how to handle your customers. I mean you can read books all day long about what to do and what not to do but in the end it comes down to you just making those mistakes and learning from them.



ASANA SOFTWARE - Goal Setting and Task Completion

In the episode, Todd mentioned that he uses Asana Software to plan and organize his day as well as to work towards his goals. Below is a brief preview of one of the features of Asana. Visit Asana.com for full review. It has many features that are free. 


View Todd's 10 Areas of Life to Focus On to begin creating your own goals



Visit Neil Patel's Blog, QuickSprout to learn how to grow your audience. 


Candide by Voltaire

The Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose and Place in the World by Laurence Ackerman


Visit Yoga and More in the Park for event and potluck information. 

Held Thursday's at 6:30 p.m. at 970 N College Ave. Tempe, AZ 85281



        Todd on a high line 3,200 feet in mid-air between two cliffs in a Fjord in Norway. 

       Todd on a high line 3,200 feet in mid-air between two cliffs in a Fjord in Norway. 

For a full explanation of highlining and slacklining, visit here


Traditional climbing, or "trad climbing", is a style of rock climbing in which a climber or group of climbers place all gear required to protect against falls, and removes it when a passage is complete. The term seems to be coined by Tom Higgins in the piece "Tricksters and Traditionalists" in 1984.

        Todd "trad climbing"

       Todd "trad climbing"

Half Dome - Yosemite National Park, California

Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. Despite an 1865 report declaring that it was "perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of the prominent points about the Yosemite which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot," George Anderson reached the summit in 1875, in the process laying the predecessor to today's cable route. For a video of the experience, see below:

Learn more about Half Dome



Yes, I found the song mentioned in the episode.  Here is the video: