Surfboards, Beard Care, and Family: Brian Swan’s story of Unshackling from the Corporate World to Entrepreneurial Freedom

“Entrepreneurial freedom”. This term sounds a bit cliché and almost ambiguous, but it doesn’t get any clearer than Brian Swan’s transition from an overworked robotics engineer to a self-employed business development strategist – traveling at will with his family, surfing actual waves in Indonesian waters, running a successful beard care company, and being Unstoppable with his goals and visions.

Brian, an American serial entrepreneur, is the co-founder of Unstoppable Branding Agency, a multiple award-winning PR and media company providing solutions to all brand positioning problems. Brian founded UBA with his wife, Rhonda Renee Swan, a renowned entrepreneur, author, and international speaker, popularly known as the Unstoppable Momma.

With their daughter, 13-year-old Hanalei, the Swans embody an enviable online reputation as the resourceful family of ‘freedom-preneurs’ living with no limits, no boundaries, and zero restrictions. Brian is also the co-founder of Unstoppable Beard, a sustainable brand producing all-natural products for quality beard care. 

Brian’s journey to the sought-after life of working and living on his own terms didn’t start in the golden deserts of Morocco, the constant carnivals of Brazil or the mind-blowing parks of Costa Rica – highlights of some of the amazing countries The Unstoppable Family has toured in the past 13 years.

Their dreams began in San Diego, California, peaking with the painful phase of losing everything and still choosing to venture into the uncertainty-rife world of entrepreneurship.

Navigating through life, you can choose anger, or you can choose happiness,” says Brian, who currently resides with his family on the beautiful island of Bali, Indonesia. “You can only choose one, and that sole decision will form the path you take. Never forget that happiness is a choice.”

Harsh beginnings

Brian Swan and family
Photo Credit: Brian Swan, with permission

Before striking out to build his legacy, Brian, 47, had worked as a robotics engineer at Parker Hannifin, an American multinational corporation specializing in robotic engineering. The job was the typical 9-to-5 role that threw his life into an exhausting routine and left him feeling constantly… chained. As a child, Brian had been determined to build a wonderful and happy life for himself, but somehow, the corporate world wasn’t what he’d imagined.

He recalls how a series of unfair childhood struggles instilled in him the willpower to thrive and survive, no matter the cost.

When I was growing up in Cambridge, Illinois, my parents got discovered at the age of six and everything fell apart,” Brian recounts. “I discovered my dad was gay at the age of nine, and while I was too young to be affected by this reality, my older siblings fell victim to relentless bullying. Eventually, my brother and sister both resorted to substance abuse and I had to watch my brother go to rehab at the age of 15.”

When Brian was 11, his father was diagnosed with AIDS. Knowing the prognosis as his health deteriorated rapidly, Brian’s father was determined to make the best of time left with his children, and so he took them traveling. The family saw the world together, and just before the man died, Brian captured an inexplicable moment when he promised his father that he would never settle for less.

 “On his deathbed, I stood beside him and talked to him, even though he couldn’t talk back,” Brian recalls. “I said, ‘Dad, everything’s gonna be alright. I’ll go to university and get a good job’. And even though he couldn’t talk, the look in his eyes told me everything. He looked at me as if to say, ‘Don’t do that. You’re an entrepreneur.’”

In his first year of high school, reeling from the pain of watching his siblings go down difficult roads, Brian made a solemn promise to himself that he would walk a different path – a positive one.

“I told myself, ‘I’m going to be the best athlete and the smartest kid in my class.’ And this is exactly what I did.”

He went on to become an excellent athlete and graduated at the top of his class. Life had dealt him unfair blows from the start, but he wasn’t going to take any of it with folded arms.

Tough decisions and rewarding results

Photo Credit: Brian Swan, with permission

Following a four-year academic journey at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Brian obtained his Bachelor’s in Robotics Engineering and landed a job with Parker Hannifin the next year. He worked with this company for nine years until his wife, Rhonda, struck out on her own and nudged him toward entrepreneurial freedom.

Rhonda and Brian had met surfing in San Diego back in 1998. They got married in 2003 when Rhonda worked a 9-to-5 corporate position as a marketing executive for GlaxoSmithKline.

“We lived the American dream, with a nice house and solid real estate investments,” Brian says. “Things were comfortable, and I worked in that field for a decade until Rhonda said something that would drastically change our course. She said, ‘I want to have a family, but I’m not going to put my kids in daycare.’”

In 2004, after an embarrassing talk-down from a senior colleague at work for coming in late, Rhonda, a young mom with a few-weeks-old baby, decided it was time to walk away from the company. She was going to build her own legacy and score her mark in the world.

“I was skeptical at first,” says Brian, “but Rhonda started to kill it in what was then the new online space of affiliate marketing and personal development. Within one year, she retired me from my corporate robotics engineering job back in 2006.”

It was supposed to be an uphill journey from this stage, but life doesn’t always have pleasant experiences in-store. The Swans had invested heavily in a golf-course development deal that was supposed to return massive profits. Sadly, the fraudulent deal went horribly wrong and they lost everything. With a two-week-old baby and an account balance of $12,000, the couple was advised by friends to search for fresh 9-to-5 jobs and secure their lives once again. The entrepreneurial visions couldn’t be relied upon anymore.

However, the pair were determined to hold onto the life-changing freedom they’d enjoyed for a short while. In 2008, they packed up their lives and left the United States to become the first “digital nomad” family, working out of their laptops as they traveled the world. They created the “freedom-preneur” movement” to help other people cast their fears aside and leap into the online business-building life.

In 2012, the couple co-founded The Unstoppable Branding Agency, now a parent brand of multiple seven-figure international businesses run by Rhonda, the Unstoppable Momma, who brings 18 years of experience in marketing and branding to the table. Brian himself has spent the past decade creating several online businesses across e-commerce, marketing, and consulting.

50+ countries later, across six of the world’s continents, the Swans have found a  home in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia – living life with no limits and raising their daughter Hanalei, a young designer, author, artist, and the founder and CEO of Hanalei Swan- HS Styles, an eco-friendly fashion brand based in Bali.

For Brian, family is everything and more.

 “At first light, I surf or exercise on the beach,” he said. “Exercising in nature starts my day in the most positive way. On the way back home, I pick flowers for my wife and write her a short love message in her gratitude journal every day. That ritual of making yourself and your partner happy creates an unstoppable day.”


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