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The Growth Show Interview with Joe De Sena, CEO CoFounder of Spartan Race

The Growth Show Interview with Joe De Sena, CEO CoFounder of Spartan Race
The Growth Show Interview with Joe De Sena, CEO CoFounder of Spartan Race

pThe Growth Show Interview with Joe De Sena, CEO CoFounder of Spartan Race hey everyone this is Meghan Keaney Anderson with the grow show and I am here with Joe de Sena who is the cofounder of Spartan the race the business the movement the headache the headache Joe thanks so much for coming in recycle jávea thanks for having me this is awesome yeah and you come complete with your kettlebell which is awesome Im attempting to set a Guinness Book record with this thing are you seriously yeah its great news so Ive been carrying this thing around for god its got to be two and a half years now and I just was able to get something with TSA where I can carry it on planes so it was a nightmare because I would I would have to check it yeah and then try to get it at the other end and sometimes it would come rolling down like a bowling ball and smash into things and almost took out a security officer and not safer to have it on the plate exactly exactly it is so does that count as your carryon no they dont but they dont bother me about I have my backpack I pretty much can go anywhere for any length of time with a backpack and a kettlebell that is awesome very cool gotta be able to move on a dime absolutely so you started pretty early in your life with this whole entrepreneurship thing what are your earliest memories of work and kind of understanding what what that wrote what the real work would play in your life so I grew up in a neighborhood that woke up very early it was a neighborhood riddled with organized crime but also everybody was a hustler and I say that in a positive way trucks were started at 4:00 in the morning bagels would be in buttered coffee was being brewed and if you were a young kid as I was my sister were my friends you got sucked up in that and so people were running tow truck businesses out of their kitchen and so he went to go of it you know if you had friends of yours that that were there those were their parents and you went in and you saw the radios and they were working around the clock they just became part of your DNA its like a pulse its a pulse and and if you werent busy and you werent well then something was wrong and so at a very young age pre 10 years old I was selling fireworks I am I dont know how I figured it out because now that I have children I think how did you get them could my yeah like I literally snuck downstairs got on a phone in the house that nobody would hear found the phone number for the supplier purchased a little like eightyearold voice exactly and supply literally that I made a list of the things I needed you know to grosses of bottle rockets for mats of firecrackers figure it on how much I was gonna pay for each item what I was gonna sell it for where we were gonna meet for the for the transaction is illegal and and that that was the beginning that was it thats it started at all do you remember the first exchange of money like your first customer my first customer if I remember correctly I was paying a penny for a pack of firecrackers and selling them for three cents if I remember correctly theres a nice return it was a nice return but youre gonna love this my parents got divorced my mom moves me to Ithaca New York to get me away from this craziness my sister and I and there is no supply of fireworks there yeah I would imagine not and so I quickly learn the the theories behind low you know supply and demand and everybody wants packs of firecrackers and I can get them and so I set the new price at 1 back and he paid it and they paid it cuz where else you gonna get him until I got to run out of school and then and thats when I learned you know my father said hey good job but you should do things that are legal was the pace of life very different in Ithaca from you know where you started off it was it was and I expended the energy differently so so I did less business and and I got into I used to race BMX bikes so I needed to burn off energy as a kid Im gonna have article games like we do today and and so I took all that energy and started a race in BMX bikes but but back in Queens where my dad was where we went you know we went to go visit him every couple of weekends I started a business down there a legal business I started cleaning swimming pools for first for my neighbor and then it grew and grew and grew okay and so then that is probably what eventually evolved into pool business in your 20s right yeah that grew every year I took a really long term view yeah I had a lot of mentors in the neighborhood that were kind of telling me things like with a business you take care of it for a long time and then it takes care of you and so very early on I learned this idea that like you need to delay gratification not pull the money out of the company yeah keep things really lean and yeah and so and so I built that business and by the time I graduated college I had paid for college with that business and had a business that was netting me 250, 000 a year in 1990 which is unreal especially that age to for a kid graduating college yeah but that strikes me is really interesting because that feels counter to the advice that a lot of startups get today which is you know you have to turn a profit quickly you have to you make something out of it or get out basically and and it seems like that advice that you got was unique maybe not for when you got it but but today you dont hear it that often yeah I mean today I see a lot of entrepreneurs just burning through cash maybe theyre a little sloppy I I like remaining very lean Ive started a lot of businesses since then and I typically dont raise money because I like to remain very lean and not be sloppy and if you could make it work on crumbs well then when things really get rolling you know you could pour 100 gallons of gasoline on it then yeah so thats thats just thats just the way I roll what did you learn about yourself as a business leader as a business man during those days yeah you know I think I think everybody has to look inside and figure out what their true north is what their purpose is and I think at that point in time in my early teens even preteens I needed to to know if I was good enough could I build a business could I go shouldertoshoulder with the guys that had Cadillacs and roles had you know dollars in their pockets and hundreddollar bills and and could I do it and so so that was that was I dont know if Im answering the question correctly but but that was the driving force for me was was was I capable and and that was my whole purpose yeah and and I think I am I was gonna say is that a feeling that goes away or well then once I once I felt like I guess its like Maslows hierarchy hierarchy of needs in a sense like I needed that first and then my next career was on Wall Street I sold that business and I went to Wall Street and and and I guess I guess I also wanted to know was I you know could I rub shoulders shoulder with like I considered real business Yeah right right Goldman Sachs you guys yeah the big guy yeah and girls and and and and that I I think I got that affirmation very quickly there that that yes I was businesses business it doesnt matter where you are its its got all the same attributes and principles associated with it and so and then and then I want to make money ya know Wall Street and I want to make money right so I had a new purpose and I achieved that at least my everybodys got their own right off the bat or no it was a disaster you know its always a disaster in the beginning its like running 100 miles right the first seven theyre just you want to kill yourself but but no it took a while but eventually it worked in a big way and big for me from a kid kid from the neighborhood and then and then my purpose became I want to change lives I want to get people healthy yeah and so and so its its evolved since those early days and I learned a lot of I found out who I am all right I get to look in the mirror and find out how I act when everything is falling apart around you because thats what its like to own a business and you know everybody can be good when times are good how are you and times tough so speaking of that you know before we even move move into Spartan you were in on Wall Street during the 2008 crash I was not only on Wall Street during the Oh a crash but I was on Wall Street during the September 11th planes flying into the towers and it yeah and I was a block away and I had had breakfast in the towers that the day before so that was a it was an eyeopener to say the least but oh wait was uh that was crazy times that was i literally that day so in a way or you know I know a tie and and I was right before the market had completely bottomed dat 666 in the SP I was on a bike I had bicycle de cross the country I took 14 days and during the bike ride every day checking in the market got worse and worse and I dont think its maybe a surreal feeling yeah Lana bike Lehman hadnt collapsed yet when I got back from the bike ride everything started to fall apart sure and and I remember the day where it was mostly it was the day the market actually turned and bottom I went out I was in Vermont and I went out on the farm and I saw a couple of oldtimers that were running a tractor and I literally was convinced it was over like the game was over or the economies were going it like this was the big game the whole thing democracy was over capitalism done is done and and and this whole time were hes probably 80 years old hes running hes like about back and and like had no experience in the markets at all and and he just had a calm over him that you know he didnt get caught up in the craziness and so sitting on a trading desk and watching everything and like youre just too close to it yeah but he was he literally called the bottom farmer yeah its a kind of a perspective shift is yeah dont be so close to it right you got it you got a step away anytime things feel just completely overwhelming take a step back yeah well okay then lets talk about how you pivoted that into the the sort of idea and the generation of Spartan what happened between Wall Street and Spartan so we got to go way back so back when I was trying to sell fireworks my mom walks into a health food store in the 1970s completely random and there is a yogi that just landed from India and he convinces her that this idea of raviolis and cannolis and all the food were eating and and not exercising is is the wrong way and the right way is yoga meditation becoming a vegan and she buys into it hook line and sinker and she brings that home which is part of the reason my parents got divorced because theres a complete 180 she just bleeped 180 drew a line stepped over it and shifted her life scripted everything and again if that was California at the time yeah it kinda would make sense Queens did not make any sense she was considered a wacko not only by everybody around us but by myself and and my dad and everybody but anyway in the ensuing years she starts to bring monks into the living room shes pushing shes pushing a 3100 mile race in Queens around a onemile loop to show how powerful the human mind is if you set your mind or in something like so I am seeing all this stuff even though Im not accepting it shes a crackpot yeah what did you think in that moment crazy I had pictures of gurus on the wall I didnt know how to explain it to my friends who these people are why theres people with beads chanting and and and that must have been strange because it its right around the time of their divorce youve moved theres a lot of change you must have felt kind of out of control it was wacky it was hard to it you dont feel cool to your friends right and I mean look what kids go through today with Facebook and Instagram right so so I come over my house and were eating branch sandwiches and chanting yeah and so um so anyway fast forward I build my businesses I find out who I am I start to get more confidence I make some money and Im like wow my mother was right right because here I am on a trading desk feeling unhealthy and I started doing yoga and I started eating healthy and I met a guy who was running up and down the stairs at work and he was training every day and I started training with him and before you know what I was doing adventure races and ultra runs and all kinds of crazy stuff and I said wow not only is this good for me not only do I feel good but my business is doing better my employees are getting into this and and oh my god if I take clients with me and we do this together its like going to war with somebody you are friends for life so completely transformative for me for the business for people i roped into it and then and then said well I could I could actually make a business out of this I could I could change lives and get paid did you need to hit the depths of 911 and 2008 to get there mentally or do you think that would have happened regardless in my head I was never going to retire on a train I wasnt gonna be out to pasture on the trading desk like that like it was I was there for a short time in my head the reality is when youre making money in financial services you have golden handcuffs very hard to leave yeah you cant find a job where you make that kind of money anywhere else and so real sacrifice you have to have that kind of a seat change in your head yeah so most people dont leave so I think I think the crowbar was you know between 911 and and 2008 nine that was a crowbar that actually got me to do what I really wanted to do anyway which was get out yeah yeah so I heard a fable and I really just want to know if its true about a race you didnt Quebec do you know what Im referring to I do tell me the details what happened in Quebec is the is the Laura real yeah I am I had done some races and I said to my friends give me something hard I want to I want to really meet myself can we give me the hardest race in the world I said well the hardest race in the world is in Alaska it is a the Iditarod dog sled race right but but before we do that were gonna take it to Quebec and were just gonna do something thats in the cold and get your ready for Alaska yes I said yeah is it no its not too tough itll be itll be a tune up for Alaska so we get to Alaska we get to Quebec northern Quebec and its um its like 30 below zero right and theres a ton of snow and we are out there like barely surviving right my eyelashes are frozen shut and we are climbing this mountain for like 15 hours right I did not stand outside in 30 below for 15 minutes weve already been out three days right so 15 hours now were going up this mountain and we get to the top of this mountain and were supposed to rappel down yeah off a rock face right no big deal no big deal and and the team that was ahead of us was dangling from ropes that had not been secured properly on the rocks so we are now stuck on top of the mountain completely exposed wind blowing freezing waiting well after about four or five hours of standing there the ropes are not gonna get risa cured were not were gonna have to hike down so exhausted frozen freshgrated I say it at a team why dont we hang a left right here Ive been taking the same way down we could actually this is a shortcut it looks like we should be dead we should not we should not be alive today because it turned out to be this incredibly steep rock face it was basically vertical except for there was so much snow that there was a kind of a path down fell off a cliff I was hanging from a tree was like quarantine it was unbelievable we get to the bottom lucky were alive pushed through the next couple of days finish the thing and I dont go back to northern Quebec can I ask because I I dont think I will ever be in that situation so you never know and you never know but just in case just in case I am never in that situation kind of fingers crossed is your mind blank when youre walking down is is there something going through your head what are you actually thinking well you know in a race like that we were out there six plus days youre exhausted yeah I miss left yeah right so so the whole thing is surreal and and you dont have it together enough to be saying oh my god this is too right youre in really good shape otherwise you wouldnt be there youre younger than I am that I am now and youre invincible mortality is not something thats on your mind look youre not thinking doing the odds and figuring out of you might not know no I remember when we got to the bottom of that cliff hanger and we looked up and I believe I I hope I still have it on film I couldnt even describe it to the listener right now or more the viewer because um when we looked up it was obvious that we were Complete Idiots and we should be dead and I think for a moment looking up you realize like wow this could get stupid really fast just because youre not all there yeah one more question on that and then I want to move on to Spartan what did you do that night was there like a hot bath involved did you get a fetal position and no no no we you continue to move we climb the next mountain and we continued on and we put on our crosscountry skis and and we were working our way to the finish line I mean it was very much like it sounds by the way brutal right but think about what life was like for Lewis and Clark sure or if you and I were going crosscountry 200 years ago on horse and carriage yeah like what would that have been like yeah the wheel breaks grandma dies like yeah its just a long way from a desk at Wall Street long way from the desk all right so Spartan you started Spartan and you know was really were putting it like blatantly losing money for for quite some time in Spartan almost 15 years hmm how going back to that original sort of advice for startup founders most people somewhere in there might have given up what kept you going and kept you sure that this was going to be something big something profitable so I you know I I just wrote a book called the Spartan way and I tried to list 910 principles that are principles that you have to practice in order to achieve anything yeah in life any kind of success as a mom a monk mobster right you got up you got to follow these principles you got to be good at them and one of those principles commitment and so when I think about the question you just asked I think about like Thomas Edison who wanted to make a light bulb and the first one doesnt work and the second one does and the hundredth one doesnt work enough 201 doesnt work hes like 900 light bulbs in why did he continue right and so quittings not an option for me I I was passionate about it I was gonna make it work one way or another and I like telling friends and family that Im doing something because then Im on the hook and I just dont like to lose now I will say for those listening out there that there are times where youre supposed to quit and youre supposed to pivot and a gentleman named ed vistors an American mountain climber says getting to the top is optional getting down is mandatory and and thats how you have to think now the the 65 million dollar question is when the opit thats right when do you give up should should Thomas Edison have quit four hundred lightbulbs in and I think that answer is determined by your TrueNorth your purpose that we spoke about earlier if your purpose is to be the greatest mountain climber that ever lived and the only way for you to achieve that metal is to get to the top that day in the storm you probably go for it yeah probably go for it because thats your TrueNorth thats your purpose but if your purpose is to be the greatest family man that ever lived you turn around yeah right so you really have to dig deep inside and figure out like what I was climbing a mountain aconcagua in South America tallest mountain in South America and I was a hundred feet from the top and a lightning storm rolled in and folks I was with said look we got away today and I thought like I dont need to prove anything to myself I dont care if I summit or I dont summit Ive already proven to myself that Im capable of doing the things I want to do what I do want to do is be with my family Im not gonna sit up here for another day just cuz it could turn into three days or four days because people that want to summit are just gonna wait for that moment Im going down jump on a plane go and hang out with my wife because thats what I want to do so I dont know if that answered the question yeah I know its really helpful and I think because you didnt quit but you did pivot a bit I would imagine in the process to get to where you are you you try different strategies you change directions what were some of the inflection points or the strategies that you tried to really build some more momentum around the business well the first the first 10 years of Spartan had a different name and had different formats so we were putting on 350 mile races and shockingly nobody was showing up but thats what I want to do because those were the races I was doing got it and youre building a company for yourself now marketplace and I kept playing with that and trying different ways to convince people to come out and do races I would lie to them and say theyre coming to a barbecue that weekend and and and then in 2010 2009 as the market was just coming out of the mess I decided to change the format pivot changed a name didnt think it was gonna work because I had already been going ten years in it yeah and I wasnt working and it worked and it worked in a small way to start but much better than what Id seen and then it just kept getting better and better and better what was it about the the new name that combination of changes that you feel like worked well first of all we own the greatest name in the world its good name yeah you cant you cant beat this name is 2500 years old it means when you hear the word it means so many things to you and so its a brand thats already built right its ours to screw up so I think a lot had to do with the change of name I think the fact that I had an authentic narrative like I really wanted to change lives I wasnt doing this as a business plan this was like I had a purpose yeah and that purpose lose doubt to the customers that were interested in it it was an amazing product it changes somebodys life so doesnt hurt when you have a product that has 90 MPs scores at changes peoples lives oh yeah right yeah I think I think those I think those were the big reasons and I think anybody that came to work for the company would work for free they would pay us to work for us like its so powerful to work for this company and and be part of that trip that change transformation of lives it feels very purposeful yeah and so you end up getting people which we do that are like that live and breathe this thing what were some of the critical hires that you made that you feel like really turned the company around well in the beginning we had no money because you know I like to run really lean and I would say when I think back to those days there was nobody there was that we hired that wasnt critical like everybody that came on put so much energy into it some of the mistakes I made was I didnt hire really strong tech in the early days and and my assistant kept talking about a CRM technology and I kept thinking like I dont have time for that I cant waste the money on it cuz I dont have I dont have a knowledge base now right but but and Im not saying because Im on this podcast and Im sitting in the hub spot building but the truth of the matter is if I had to do it all over again I would have spent a ton of time and a ton of money getting that right because if I wouldve got that right I mean at the end of the day data yeah I need the data I need the email addresses I need to know how these people think and I didnt have any of that we were working off spreadsheets and a barn yeah in a barn whats the role the data plays for you today well we have to we have to learn were selling a really difficult product to sell were selling a product that asks you to wake up early go to bed early give up drinking you know train like a maniac and and come out and do these events and so thats not like selling cotton candy or handbags and so um the data will tell us what person is more likely to consume this kind of product yeah the data will tell us when this person is more likely to pull the trigger like like what ads do they have to see like so we spend an enormous amount of money marketing so if data could save you know a percentage point four percentage points if if it could increase conversion by a fraction of a percentage plug its a big number is when youre talking about a million racers a year yeah and because of that because youre asking so much of people what role does past customers sort of your your existing sort of audience play in pulling new people in well we want to change 100 million lives and we cant do it alone so we now have about 1.1 million per year come out and were gonna have to lean on them and our partners to go get us 95 other million people that is but thats no like going from one penny to three pennies thats a big ambitious goal goal lets dig into that for a second so you said that out loud its official how do you get there well first why do we get why a hundred million won its very ambitious to is they say I got a free pass to heaven for me and my family if we change 100 million lives so so how do you do that how do you change 100 million lives you know when we first started I thought we could do thirty thousand yeah fifty thousand went to a million can we do five million so why cant we change a hundred million lives yeah right and and that life change doesnt have to be just doing a race it could be taking cold showers giving up coffee unhealthy coffee that the big coffees filled with the whipped creams and the and all the other stuff right no spice lattes for anybody exactly the the the extra wine the the cookies the desserts maybe get off the couch a little bit my kids ask the greatest question the other day my two boys sat me down we were having lunch and they said um so you want to change 100 million lives they said um and they didnt say it exactly this way I wish they did but what constitutes that that change does that mean you want to have 100 million people doing the race and I said well I dont think were not gonna be able to fit 100 million people through the races so you want to get him off the couch I said yeah I wanna get him off the couch and my younger son said well what if they watch a movie on the couch would they still be Spartan thats a good question as long as they worked out first yeah yeah exactly so your kids are in the same mindset that I am which is just like Im going like straight to the practical on this yes so do you think that with the existing momentum that you have that will eventually sort of propel you towards that goal or are there actual like strategic changes new product lines new new types of engagement they youll be rolling out in in the pursuit of this goal I think I think were gonna we talk a lot about scale at Spartan right now we are in a business where it requires us literally to shovel right and dig and its like a knife fight with boots on the ground every day and so how can we change lives in a more scalable manner what can we do to get people off the couch to get people training more and so thats something were pursuing and analyzing on a daily basis because um if you want to hit 100 million its gonna be tough doing it with shovels yeah so the other thing about scale is that sometimes as you grow if youre the business leader it pulls you away from the people who are actually you know racing using the products etc how have you like do you struggle with that how have you stayed connected to the people who are taking part in Spartan well I mean Im holding a kettlebell right now so Im out there with him I do the races I was at you know Air Force Special Ops yesterday like I I work 247 but Ill never leave thats where I want it thats where my passion is yeah so Im never gonna leave the ground troops yeah what tell me about some of the people that youve met over the years who have gotten involved with Spartan well I had a 696 pound guy named Chris Davis come out to the farm we have a farm in Vermont where this was ground zero for Spartan was it is and we helped him get down to 282 pounds so that was amazing weve heard about all kinds of people that have addictions around drugs or alcohol have gotten off their addictions all kinds of people back with their husband are back with their wife yeah does erase all kinds of people to quit the job started their own business I cant even tell you how many women have started their own business coming out of Spartan we should have our own shark tank yeah Spartan tank thats how you get to 100 million exactly so I mean every single day we get emails about life transfer if Im in an airport somebody stops me oh my god I gotta tell you my story so yeah and then and then dont forget I mean I got to pinch myself I get to walk into the Pentagon I get to hang out with Air Force special ops I get to go down and see the Navy SEALs the Marine Corps Richard Branson Randy Moss Alicia Keys whether you like them or not Lance Armstrong was kind of had to pinch myself on that one just be right just forget about the the craziness there but kind of cool yeah and and the list goes up somebody said the other day we got to get you together with Oprah its pretty unbelievable anybody catch you offguard in all those years and all those interactions I mean you seem like a pretty put together guy but were there any of those stories or even a celebrity that you just the fuddled you a little bit the only one not a celebrity no one would know this name billionaire that I interviewed on our podcast and he grew up in Lebanon and he was kidnapped beaten and tortured for 90 plus hours and he was thrown out of the country lost all his possessions everything and then rebuilt himself and Iran and then they had the Iran issue in the 70s and all his friends were killed in the street and he was thrown out of that country to land in LA broke and rebuild himself became a billionaire and and thats the story like like yes Branson is extremely cool yes Alicia Keys I had I called my wife and she was singing to my wife I cant believe all those stories are unbelievable but but those store that story there with Kareem his name is Kareem jawed thats unbelievable six or seven lives already thats impressive tell me about you had a race in Hawaii that sort of went awry tell me a little bit about that story shit show yeah so we put on 275 events a year around the world 41 countries yeah and last year we were looking at getting some insurance to cover us should we have to cancel races but it was like 350, 000 and somebody made a decision we probably shouldnt get it its too expensive oh I think weve had to cancel five races this year around the globe and Hawaii was like a three million dollar hit yeah because when the hurricane comes in theres nothing theres nothing you can do I mean at that first and foremost is people safety yeah our staff safety taking care of our venue were on were on an 800 million dollar piece of land and where they film Jurassic Park yeah it is epic we cant destroy that land so and our customers are usually crazy and they want to race in the hurricane anyway yeah you could technically you could have gone but you decided not to we decided not to and so I am I worked around the clock that weekend I said you know what you got to do and this is very offbrand for me I said find the largest like nightclub bar that there is in Hawaii hmm whatever it costs just let everybody know its on us get them in their first drinks on us and then make sure you do some kind of Burpee contest or something yeah and I think 2500 people showed up Wow turn turn lemons into lemonade yeah we talk about that a lot here actually we talk about this idea of you know growing better in the sense that like anybody can sort of grow bigger and bigger but you have to sort of have the the fortitude to be able to make that hard call in the moment to say Im gonna take a short term hit in fact as you did it its not just that you took the hit on the race but you might even further and spend more money on on sort of a celebration for everybody who it turned out and you take that short term hit for the sake of kind of a long term relationship this is a great story for for on that point for the listeners yeah and for all the business owners or wouldbe business owners so Nordstroms everybodys heard of Nordstroms its probably 1989 right so youre talking what 29 years ago do I have that right I think so 29 years ago think about that 29 years ago and this is a story Im telling you Japan was kicking our butt they had better service they had better products and there were a lot of gurus business gurus or were writing books in search of excellence came out Im trying to think of the the authors name but but theyre telling companies hey if you an American company you dont to get your butt kicked youre gonna have to really upgrade your service so Nordstroms decides that theyre gonna customers always going to be right customer walks in the story goes twentynineyearold story and returns tires the manager gives the money back and they dont sell tires yeah but did they ever sell tires no no and but customers always right yeah and so 29 years later Im telling the story right and so and so the point is it hangs on it you get back tenfold for what you do it whether you like what the customers cheating it doesnt matter yeah customers always right but its that long view and I feel like this is a theme in your life that its its that taking the long view into what success looks like and what that relationship looks like is a very different type business delay the gratification yeah exactly the gratification all right so the final thing I kind of want to spend a little bit of time on weve talked about the race we talked about the business I want to talk about the the movement of people that have swelled up around you and around Spartan how would you describe the community rabid tribal its a religion cult a healthy cult yeah I mean 10, 000 plus tattoos really really nice I mean you if you walked into a place and there were Spartans it you know interspersed with other groups of likeminded people you know the Spartans right away theyll bend over backwards for you theyll pick garbage up off the floor in the rain like theyre just amazing people and I think thats because they have tremendous gratitude they have suffered theyve gone through hell and back with a Spartan Race right and its just an amazing movement theres five million of them around the world China its just everywhere I just dont believe the whole things unbelievable yeah I might just start crying right it was kind of fascinating to me is its a pretty diverse group of people 72 year old grandma 20 year old Navy SEAL yeah you name it and everybody in between we had a monk show up in in full garb at our World Championship who who borrowed money or they donated money to him from France got on a plane to come race in his outfit yeah sandals the whole thing like you from all over the world they come yeah and thats I mean thats the power of shared experience right I mean where else do you get a 72 year old woman and a 20 year old Navy SEAL or what have you having gone through the same thing even if they didnt go through it sidebyside they both experienced that exactly yeah very cool so how much of your time and your thought process goes into the business and how much of it goes into fueling this sort of movement around it well I wish I would I wish I didnt have to deal with the business at all because I mean thats the boring stuff right the numbers the budgets growth rates etc but the reality is you gotta make the donuts you gotta do the work every day yeah but but if I had my druthers if I could do anything I wanted I mean I love the experience I love the transformation and getting people together in that community for that weekend so so I terrible answer but I got I got to do it all yeah I got to do it all and family while youre carrying a kettlebell carrying the kettlebell yeah gotta get that Guinness World Record thats right so how essential are you Joe to this movement to this business if if you decide to its time to quit to hang it up what happens well Ive got five million Spartans there to carry the torch so um first of all I cant quit thats thats just not part of the DNA right um death is the exit strategy so um yeah they got it they got to pick it up do you think it will do you think it needs a new leader or do you think the the millions that youve engaged can be this sort of amorphous I think if anybody out there is qualified wants to run this thing my emails Joe its part and docume I am taking resumes there you go you heard it there alright well well leave it there the final question that I have for you god it feels like youve taken on a lot of challenges it feels like youre taking on all sorts of challenges a huge range of them as sort of a final question whats diff for you whats difficult everything is difficult I mean I met Steven Pressfield he wrote the war of art he wrote gates of fire he is the preeminent expert on Spartans and he said we all face resistance every single day from the moment we wake up before a writer and for whatever we are in life we face resistant the suit the sooner we can recognize that were gonna face resistance and accept it and give in to that and just kind of plow through anyway the quicker youll get ahead and so Im from the moment I wake up I got to fight myself to do my workout theyre gonna find myself to take my cold shower I gotta fight myself to get to work you know super early knockout 600 emails but I dont think thats different than anybody Tom Bradys got everybodys got to deal with it so its not easy no all right Jeff thank you so much for taking the time thank you everyone for joining us on this very cool very inspired version of the girl show youre awesome The Growth Show Interview with Joe De Sena, CEO CoFounder of Spartan Race hey everyone this is Meghan Keaney Anderson with the grow show and I am here with Joe de Sena who is the cofounder of Spartan the race the business the movement the headache the headache Joe thanks so much for coming in recycle jávea thanks for having me this is awesome yeah and you come complete with your kettlebell which is awesome Im attempting to set a Guinness Book record with this thing are you seriously yeah its great news so Ive been carrying this thing around for god its got to be two and a half years now and I just was able to get something with TSA where I can carry it on planes so it was a nightmare because I would I would have to check it yeah and then try to get it at the other end and sometimes it would come rolling down like a bowling ball and smash into things and almost took out a security officer and not safer to have it on the plate exactly exactly it is so does that count as your carryon no they dont but they dont bother me about I have my backpack I pretty much can go anywhere for any length of time with a backpack and a kettlebell that is awesome very cool gotta be able to move on a dime absolutely so you started pretty early in your life with this whole entrepreneurship thing what are your earliest memories of work and kind of understanding what what that wrote what the real work would play in your life so I grew up in a neighborhood that woke up very early it was a neighborhood riddled with organized crime but also everybody was a hustler and I say that in a positive way trucks were started at 4:00 in the morning bagels would be in buttered coffee was being brewed and if you were a young kid as I was my sister were my friends you got sucked up in that and so people were running tow truck businesses out of their kitchen and so he went to go of it you know if you had friends of yours that that were there those were their parents and you went in and you saw the radios and they were working around the clock they just became part of your DNA its like a pulse its a pulse and and if you werent busy and you werent well then something was wrong and so at a very young age pre 10 years old I was selling fireworks I am I dont know how I figured it out because now that I have children I think how did you get them could my yeah like I literally snuck downstairs got on a phone in the house that nobody would hear found the phone number for the supplier purchased a little like eightyearold voice exactly and supply literally that I made a list of the things I needed you know to grosses of bottle rockets for mats of firecrackers figure it on how much I was gonna pay for each item what I was gonna sell it for where we were gonna meet for the for the transaction is illegal and and that that was the beginning that was it thats it started at all do you remember the first exchange of money like your first customer my first customer if I remember correctly I was paying a penny for a pack of firecrackers and selling them for three cents if I remember correctly theres a nice return it was a nice return but youre gonna love this my parents got divorced my mom moves me to Ithaca New York to get me away from this craziness my sister and I and there is no supply of fireworks there yeah I would imagine not and so I quickly learn the the theories behind low you know supply and demand and everybody wants packs of firecrackers and I can get them and so I set the new price at 1 back and he paid it and they paid it cuz where else you gonna get him until I got to run out of school and then and thats when I learned you know my father said hey good job but you should do things that are legal was the pace of life very different in Ithaca from you know where you started off it was it was and I expended the energy differently so so I did less business and and I got into I used to race BMX bikes so I needed to burn off energy as a kid Im gonna have article games like we do today and and so I took all that energy and started a race in BMX bikes but but back in Queens where my dad was where we went you know we went to go visit him every couple of weekends I started a business down there a legal business I started cleaning swimming pools for first for my neighbor and then it grew and grew and grew okay and so then that is probably what eventually evolved into pool business in your 20s right yeah that grew every year I took a really long term view yeah I had a lot of mentors in the neighborhood that were kind of telling me things like with a business you take care of it for a long time and then it takes care of you and so very early on I learned this idea that like you need to delay gratification not pull the money out of the company yeah keep things really lean and yeah and so and so I built that business and by the time I graduated college I had paid for college with that business and had a business that was netting me 250, 000 a year in 1990 which is unreal especially that age to for a kid graduating college yeah but that strikes me is really interesting because that feels counter to the advice that a lot of startups get today which is you know you have to turn a profit quickly you have to you make something out of it or get out basically and and it seems like that advice that you got was unique maybe not for when you got it but but today you dont hear it that often yeah I mean today I see a lot of entrepreneurs just burning through cash maybe theyre a little sloppy I I like remaining very lean Ive started a lot of businesses since then and I typically dont raise money because I like to remain very lean and not be sloppy and if you could make it work on crumbs well then when things really get rolling you know you could pour 100 gallons of gasoline on it then yeah so thats thats just thats just the way I roll what did you learn about yourself as a business leader as a business man during those days yeah you know I think I think everybody has to look inside and figure out what their true north is what their purpose is and I think at that point in time in my early teens even preteens I needed to to know if I was good enough could I build a business could I go shouldertoshoulder with the guys that had Cadillacs and roles had you know dollars in their pockets and hundreddollar bills and and could I do it and so so that was that was I dont know if Im answering the question correctly but but that was the driving force for me was was was I capable and and that was my whole purpose yeah and and I think I am I was gonna say is that a feeling that goes away or well then once I once I felt like I guess its like Maslows hierarchy hierarchy of needs in a sense like I needed that first and then my next career was on Wall Street I sold that business and I went to Wall Street and and and I guess I guess I also wanted to know was I you know could I rub shoulders shoulder with like I considered real business Yeah right right Goldman Sachs you guys yeah the big guy yeah and girls and and and and that I I think I got that affirmation very quickly there that that yes I was businesses business it doesnt matter where you are its its got all the same attributes and principles associated with it and so and then and then I want to make money ya know Wall Street and I want to make money right so I had a new purpose and I achieved that at least my everybodys got their own right off the bat or no it was a disaster you know its always a disaster in the beginning its like running 100 miles right the first seven theyre just you want to kill yourself but but no it took a while but eventually it worked in a big way and big for me from a kid kid from the neighborhood and then and then my purpose became I want to change lives I want to get people healthy yeah and so and so its its evolved since those early days and I learned a lot of I found out who I am all right I get to look in the mirror and find out how I act when everything is falling apart around you because thats what its like to own a business and you know everybody can be good when times are good how are you and times tough so speaking of that you know before we even move move into Spartan you were in on Wall Street during the 2008 crash I was not only on Wall Street during the Oh a crash but I was on Wall Street during the September 11th planes flying into the towers and it yeah and I was a block away and I had had breakfast in the towers that the day before so that was a it was an eyeopener to say the least but oh wait was uh that was crazy times that was i literally that day so in a way or you know I know a tie and and I was right before the market had completely bottomed dat 666 in the SP I was on a bike I had bicycle de cross the country I took 14 days and during the bike ride every day checking in the market got worse and worse and I dont think its maybe a surreal feeling yeah Lana bike Lehman hadnt collapsed yet when I got back from the bike ride everything started to fall apart sure and and I remember the day where it was mostly it was the day the market actually turned and bottom I went out I was in Vermont and I went out on the farm and I saw a couple of oldtimers that were running a tractor and I literally was convinced it was over like the game was over or the economies were going it like this was the big game the whole thing democracy was over capitalism done is done and and and this whole time were hes probably 80 years old hes running hes like about back and and like had no experience in the markets at all and and he just had a calm over him that you know he didnt get caught up in the craziness and so sitting on a trading desk and watching everything and like youre just too close to it yeah but he was he literally called the bottom farmer yeah its a kind of a perspective shift is yeah dont be so close to it right you got it you got a step away anytime things feel just completely overwhelming take a step back yeah well okay then lets talk about how you pivoted that into the the sort of idea and the generation of Spartan what happened between Wall Street and Spartan so we got to go way back so back when I was trying to sell fireworks my mom walks into a health food store in the 1970s completely random and there is a yogi that just landed from India and he convinces her that this idea of raviolis and cannolis and all the food were eating and and not exercising is is the wrong way and the right way is yoga meditation becoming a vegan and she buys into it hook line and sinker and she brings that home which is part of the reason my parents got divorced because theres a complete 180 she just bleeped 180 drew a line stepped over it and shifted her life scripted everything and again if that was California at the time yeah it kinda would make sense Queens did not make any sense she was considered a wacko not only by everybody around us but by myself and and my dad and everybody but anyway in the ensuing years she starts to bring monks into the living room shes pushing shes pushing a 3100 mile race in Queens around a onemile loop to show how powerful the human mind is if you set your mind or in something like so I am seeing all this stuff even though Im not accepting it shes a crackpot yeah what did you think in that moment crazy I had pictures of gurus on the wall I didnt know how to explain it to my friends who these people are why theres people with beads chanting and and and that must have been strange because it its right around the time of their divorce youve moved theres a lot of change you must have felt kind of out of control it was wacky it was hard to it you dont feel cool to your friends right and I mean look what kids go through today with Facebook and Instagram right so so I come over my house and were eating branch sandwiches and chanting yeah and so um so anyway fast forward I build my businesses I find out who I am I start to get more confidence I make some money and Im like wow my mother was right right because here I am on a trading desk feeling unhealthy and I started doing yoga and I started eating healthy and I met a guy who was running up and down the stairs at work and he was training every day and I started training with him and before you know what I was doing adventure races and ultra runs and all kinds of crazy stuff and I said wow not only is this good for me not only do I feel good but my business is doing better my employees are getting into this and and oh my god if I take clients with me and we do this together its like going to war with somebody you are friends for life so completely transformative for me for the business for people i roped into it and then and then said well I could I could actually make a business out of this I could I could change lives and get paid did you need to hit the depths of 911 and 2008 to get there mentally or do you think that would have happened regardless in my head I was never going to retire on a train I wasnt gonna be out to pasture on the trading desk like that like it was I was there for a short time in my head the reality is when youre making money in financial services you have golden handcuffs very hard to leave yeah you cant find a job where you make that kind of money anywhere else and so real sacrifice you have to have that kind of a seat change in your head yeah so most people dont leave so I think I think the crowbar was you know between 911 and and 2008 nine that was a crowbar that actually got me to do what I really wanted to do anyway which was get out yeah yeah so I heard a fable and I really just want to know if its true about a race you didnt Quebec do you know what Im referring to I do tell me the details what happened in Quebec is the is the Laura real yeah I am I had done some races and I said to my friends give me something hard I want to I want to really meet myself can we give me the hardest race in the world I said well the hardest race in the world is in Alaska it is a the Iditarod dog sled race right but but before we do that were gonna take it to Quebec and were just gonna do something thats in the cold and get your ready for Alaska yes I said yeah is it no its not too tough itll be itll be a tune up for Alaska so we get to Alaska we get to Quebec northern Quebec and its um its like 30 below zero right and theres a ton of snow and we are out there like barely surviving right my eyelashes are frozen shut and we are climbing this mountain for like 15 hours right I did not stand outside in 30 below for 15 minutes weve already been out three days right so 15 hours now were going up this mountain and we get to the top of this mountain and were supposed to rappel down yeah off a rock face right no big deal no big deal and and the team that was ahead of us was dangling from ropes that had not been secured properly on the rocks so we are now stuck on top of the mountain completely exposed wind blowing freezing waiting well after about four or five hours of standing there the ropes are not gonna get risa cured were not were gonna have to hike down so exhausted frozen freshgrated I say it at a team why dont we hang a left right here Ive been taking the same way down we could actually this is a shortcut it looks like we should be dead we should not we should not be alive today because it turned out to be this incredibly steep rock face it was basically vertical except for there was so much snow that there was a kind of a path down fell off a cliff I was hanging from a tree was like quarantine it was unbelievable we get to the bottom lucky were alive pushed through the next couple of days finish the thing and I dont go back to northern Quebec can I ask because I I dont think I will ever be in that situation so you never know and you never know but just in case just in case I am never in that situation kind of fingers crossed is your mind blank when youre walking down is is there something going through your head what are you actually thinking well you know in a race like that we were out there six plus days youre exhausted yeah I miss left yeah right so so the whole thing is surreal and and you dont have it together enough to be saying oh my god this is too right youre in really good shape otherwise you wouldnt be there youre younger than I am that I am now and youre invincible mortality is not something thats on your mind look youre not thinking doing the odds and figuring out of you might not know no I remember when we got to the bottom of that cliff hanger and we looked up and I believe I I hope I still have it on film I couldnt even describe it to the listener right now or more the viewer because um when we looked up it was obvious that we were Complete Idiots and we should be dead and I think for a moment looking up you realize like wow this could get stupid really fast just because youre not all there yeah one more question on that and then I want to move on to Spartan what did you do that night was there like a hot bath involved did you get a fetal position and no no no we you continue to move we climb the next mountain and we continued on and we put on our crosscountry skis and and we were working our way to the finish line I mean it was very much like it sounds by the way brutal right but think about what life was like for Lewis and Clark sure or if you and I were going crosscountry 200 years ago on horse and carriage yeah like what would that have been like yeah the wheel breaks grandma dies like yeah its just a long way from a desk at Wall Street long way from the desk all right so Spartan you started Spartan and you know was really were putting it like blatantly losing money for for quite some time in Spartan almost 15 years hmm how going back to that original sort of advice for startup founders most people somewhere in there might have given up what kept you going and kept you sure that this was going to be something big something profitable so I you know I I just wrote a book called the Spartan way and I tried to list 910 principles that are principles that you have to practice in order to achieve anything yeah in life any kind of success as a mom a monk mobster right you got up you got to follow these principles you got to be good at them and one of those principles commitment and so when I think about the question you just asked I think about like Thomas Edison who wanted to make a light bulb and the first one doesnt work and the second one does and the hundredth one doesnt work enough 201 doesnt work hes like 900 light bulbs in why did he continue right and so quittings not an option for me I I was passionate about it I was gonna make it work one way or another and I like telling friends and family that Im doing something because then Im on the hook and I just dont like to lose now I will say for those listening out there that there are times where youre supposed to quit and youre supposed to pivot and a gentleman named ed vistors an American mountain climber says getting to the top is optional getting down is mandatory and and thats how you have to think now the the 65 million dollar question is when the opit thats right when do you give up should should Thomas Edison have quit four hundred lightbulbs in and I think that answer is determined by your TrueNorth your purpose that we spoke about earlier if your purpose is to be the greatest mountain climber that ever lived and the only way for you to achieve that metal is to get to the top that day in the storm you probably go for it yeah probably go for it because thats your TrueNorth thats your purpose but if your purpose is to be the greatest family man that ever lived you turn around yeah right so you really have to dig deep inside and figure out like what I was climbing a mountain aconcagua in South America tallest mountain in South America and I was a hundred feet from the top and a lightning storm rolled in and folks I was with said look we got away today and I thought like I dont need to prove anything to myself I dont care if I summit or I dont summit Ive already proven to myself that Im capable of doing the things I want to do what I do want to do is be with my family Im not gonna sit up here for another day just cuz it could turn into three days or four days because people that want to summit are just gonna wait for that moment Im going down jump on a plane go and hang out with my wife because thats what I want to do so I dont know if that answered the question yeah I know its really helpful and I think because you didnt quit but you did pivot a bit I would imagine in the process to get to where you are you you try different strategies you change directions what were some of the inflection points or the strategies that you tried to really build some more momentum around the business well the first the first 10 years of Spartan had a different name and had different formats so we were putting on 350 mile races and shockingly nobody was showing up but thats what I want to do because those were the races I was doing got it and youre building a company for yourself now marketplace and I kept playing with that and trying different ways to convince people to come out and do races I would lie to them and say theyre coming to a barbecue that weekend and and and then in 2010 2009 as the market was just coming out of the mess I decided to change the format pivot changed a name didnt think it was gonna work because I had already been going ten years in it yeah and I wasnt working and it worked and it worked in a small way to start but much better than what Id seen and then it just kept getting better and better and better what was it about the the new name that combination of changes that you feel like worked well first of all we own the greatest name in the world its good name yeah you cant you cant beat this name is 2500 years old it means when you hear the word it means so many things to you and so its a brand thats already built right its ours to screw up so I think a lot had to do with the change of name I think the fact that I had an authentic narrative like I really wanted to change lives I wasnt doing this as a business plan this was like I had a purpose yeah and that purpose lose doubt to the customers that were interested in it it was an amazing product it changes somebodys life so doesnt hurt when you have a product that has 90 MPs scores at changes peoples lives oh yeah right yeah I think I think those I think those were the big reasons and I think anybody that came to work for the company would work for free they would pay us to work for us like its so powerful to work for this company and and be part of that trip that change transformation of lives it feels very purposeful yeah and so you end up getting people which we do that are like that live and breathe this thing what were some of the critical hires that you made that you feel like really turned the company around well in the beginning we had no money because you know I like to run really lean and I would say when I think back to those days there was nobody there was that we hired that wasnt critical like everybody that came on put so much energy into it some of the mistakes I made was I didnt hire really strong tech in the early days and and my assistant kept talking about a CRM technology and I kept thinking like I dont have time for that I cant waste the money on it cuz I dont have I dont have a knowledge base now right but but and Im not saying because Im on this podcast and Im sitting in the hub spot building but the truth of the matter is if I had to do it all over again I would have spent a ton of time and a ton of money getting that right because if I wouldve got that right I mean at the end of the day data yeah I need the data I need the email addresses I need to know how these people think and I didnt have any of that we were working off spreadsheets and a barn yeah in a barn whats the role the data plays for you today well we have to we have to learn were selling a really difficult product to sell were selling a product that asks you to wake up early go to bed early give up drinking you know train like a maniac and and come out and do these events and so thats not like selling cotton candy or handbags and so um the data will tell us what person is more likely to consume this kind of product yeah the data will tell us when this person is more likely to pull the trigger like like what ads do they have to see like so we spend an enormous amount of money marketing so if data could save you know a percentage point four percentage points if if it could increase conversion by a fraction of a percentage plug its a big number is when youre talking about a million racers a year yeah and because of that because youre asking so much of people what role does past customers sort of your your existing sort of audience play in pulling new people in well we want to change 100 million lives and we cant do it alone so we now have about 1.1 million per year come out and were gonna have to lean on them and our partners to go get us 95 other million people that is but thats no like going from one penny to three pennies thats a big ambitious goal goal lets dig into that for a second so you said that out loud its official how do you get there well first why do we get why a hundred million won its very ambitious to is they say I got a free pass to heaven for me and my family if we change 100 million lives so so how do you do that how do you change 100 million lives you know when we first started I thought we could do thirty thousand yeah fifty thousand went to a million can we do five million so why cant we change a hundred million lives yeah right and and that life change doesnt have to be just doing a race it could be taking cold showers giving up coffee unhealthy coffee that the big coffees filled with the whipped creams and the and all the other stuff right no spice lattes for anybody exactly the the the extra wine the the cookies the desserts maybe get off the couch a little bit my kids ask the greatest question the other day my two boys sat me down we were having lunch and they said um so you want to change 100 million lives they said um and they didnt say it exactly this way I wish they did but what constitutes that that change does that mean you want to have 100 million people doing the race and I said well I dont think were not gonna be able to fit 100 million people through the races so you want to get him off the couch I said yeah I wanna get him off the couch and my younger son said well what if they watch a movie on the couch would they still be Spartan thats a good question as long as they worked out first yeah yeah exactly so your kids are in the same mindset that I am which is just like Im going like straight to the practical on this yes so do you think that with the existing momentum that you have that will eventually sort of propel you towards that goal or are there actual like strategic changes new product lines new new types of engagement they youll be rolling out in in the pursuit of this goal I think I think were gonna we talk a lot about scale at Spartan right now we are in a business where it requires us literally to shovel right and dig and its like a knife fight with boots on the ground every day and so how can we change lives in a more scalable manner what can we do to get people off the couch to get people training more and so thats something were pursuing and analyzing on a daily basis because um if you want to hit 100 million its gonna be tough doing it with shovels yeah so the other thing about scale is that sometimes as you grow if youre the business leader it pulls you away from the people who are actually you know racing using the products etc how have you like do you struggle with that how have you stayed connected to the people who are taking part in Spartan well I mean Im holding a kettlebell right now so Im out there with him I do the races I was at you know Air Force Special Ops yesterday like I I work 247 but Ill never leave thats where I want it thats where my passion is yeah so Im never gonna leave the ground troops yeah what tell me about some of the people that youve met over the years who have gotten involved with Spartan well I had a 696 pound guy named Chris Davis come out to the farm we have a farm in Vermont where this was ground zero for Spartan was it is and we helped him get down to 282 pounds so that was amazing weve heard about all kinds of people that have addictions around drugs or alcohol have gotten off their addictions all kinds of people back with their husband are back with their wife yeah does erase all kinds of people to quit the job started their own business I cant even tell you how many women have started their own business coming out of Spartan we should have our own shark tank yeah Spartan tank thats how you get to 100 million exactly so I mean every single day we get emails about life transfer if Im in an airport somebody stops me oh my god I gotta tell you my story so yeah and then and then dont forget I mean I got to pinch myself I get to walk into the Pentagon I get to hang out with Air Force special ops I get to go down and see the Navy SEALs the Marine Corps Richard Branson Randy Moss Alicia Keys whether you like them or not Lance Armstrong was kind of had to pinch myself on that one just be right just forget about the the craziness there but kind of cool yeah and and the list goes up somebody said the other day we got to get you together with Oprah its pretty unbelievable anybody catch you offguard in all those years and all those interactions I mean you seem like a pretty put together guy but were there any of those stories or even a celebrity that you just the fuddled you a little bit the only one not a celebrity no one would know this name billionaire that I interviewed on our podcast and he grew up in Lebanon and he was kidnapped beaten and tortured for 90 plus hours and he was thrown out of the country lost all his possessions everything and then rebuilt himself and Iran and then they had the Iran issue in the 70s and all his friends were killed in the street and he was thrown out of that country to land in LA broke and rebuild himself became a billionaire and and thats the story like like yes Branson is extremely cool yes Alicia Keys I had I called my wife and she was singing to my wife I cant believe all those stories are unbelievable but but those store that story there with Kareem his name is Kareem jawed thats unbelievable six or seven lives already thats impressive tell me about you had a race in Hawaii that sort of went awry tell me a little bit about that story shit show yeah so we put on 275 events a year around the world 41 countries yeah and last year we were looking at getting some insurance to cover us should we have to cancel races but it was like 350, 000 and somebody made a decision we probably shouldnt get it its too expensive oh I think weve had to cancel five races this year around the globe and Hawaii was like a three million dollar hit yeah because when the hurricane comes in theres nothing theres nothing you can do I mean at that first and foremost is people safety yeah our staff safety taking care of our venue were on were on an 800 million dollar piece of land and where they film Jurassic Park yeah it is epic we cant destroy that land so and our customers are usually crazy and they want to race in the hurricane anyway yeah you could technically you could have gone but you decided not to we decided not to and so I am I worked around the clock that weekend I said you know what you got to do and this is very offbrand for me I said find the largest like nightclub bar that there is in Hawaii hmm whatever it costs just let everybody know its on us get them in their first drinks on us and then make sure you do some kind of Burpee contest or something yeah and I think 2500 people showed up Wow turn turn lemons into lemonade yeah we talk about that a lot here actually we talk about this idea of you know growing better in the sense that like anybody can sort of grow bigger and bigger but you have to sort of have the the fortitude to be able to make that hard call in the moment to say Im gonna take a short term hit in fact as you did it its not just that you took the hit on the race but you might even further and spend more money on on sort of a celebration for everybody who it turned out and you take that short term hit for the sake of kind of a long term relationship this is a great story for for on that point for the listeners yeah and for all the business owners or wouldbe business owners so Nordstroms everybodys heard of Nordstroms its probably 1989 right so youre talking what 29 years ago do I have that right I think so 29 years ago think about that 29 years ago and this is a story Im telling you Japan was kicking our butt they had better service they had better products and there were a lot of gurus business gurus or were writing books in search of excellence came out Im trying to think of the the authors name but but theyre telling companies hey if you an American company you dont to get your butt kicked youre gonna have to really upgrade your service so Nordstroms decides that theyre gonna customers always going to be right customer walks in the story goes twentynineyearold story and returns tires the manager gives the money back and they dont sell tires yeah but did they ever sell tires no no and but customers always right yeah and so 29 years later Im telling the story right and so and so the point is it hangs on it you get back tenfold for what you do it whether you like what the customers cheating it doesnt matter yeah customers always right but its that long view and I feel like this is a theme in your life that its its that taking the long view into what success looks like and what that relationship looks like is a very different type business delay the gratification yeah exactly the gratification all right so the final thing I kind of want to spend a little bit of time on weve talked about the race we talked about the business I want to talk about the the movement of people that have swelled up around you and around Spartan how would you describe the community rabid tribal its a religion cult a healthy cult yeah I mean 10, 000 plus tattoos really really nice I mean you if you walked into a place and there were Spartans it you know interspersed with other groups of likeminded people you know the Spartans right away theyll bend over backwards for you theyll pick garbage up off the floor in the rain like theyre just amazing people and I think thats because they have tremendous gratitude they have suffered theyve gone through hell and back with a Spartan Race right and its just an amazing movement theres five million of them around the world China its just everywhere I just dont believe the whole things unbelievable yeah I might just start crying right it was kind of fascinating to me is its a pretty diverse group of people 72 year old grandma 20 year old Navy SEAL yeah you name it and everybody in between we had a monk show up in in full garb at our World Championship who who borrowed money or they donated money to him from France got on a plane to come race in his outfit yeah sandals the whole thing like you from all over the world they come yeah and thats I mean thats the power of shared experience right I mean where else do you get a 72 year old woman and a 20 year old Navy SEAL or what have you having gone through the same thing even if they didnt go through it sidebyside they both experienced that exactly yeah very cool so how much of your time and your thought process goes into the business and how much of it goes into fueling this sort of movement around it well I wish I would I wish I didnt have to deal with the business at all because I mean thats the boring stuff right the numbers the budgets growth rates etc but the reality is you gotta make the donuts you gotta do the work every day yeah but but if I had my druthers if I could do anything I wanted I mean I love the experience I love the transformation and getting people together in that community for that weekend so so I terrible answer but I got I got to do it all yeah I got to do it all and family while youre carrying a kettlebell carrying the kettlebell yeah gotta get that Guinness World Record thats right so how essential are you Joe to this movement to this business if if you decide to its time to quit to hang it up what happens well Ive got five million Spartans there to carry the torch so um first of all I cant quit thats thats just not part of the DNA right um death is the exit strategy so um yeah they got it they got to pick it up do you think it will do you think it needs a new leader or do you think the the millions that youve engaged can be this sort of amorphous I think if anybody out there is qualified wants to run this thing my emails Joe its part and docume I am taking resumes there you go you heard it there alright well well leave it there the final question that I have for you god it feels like youve taken on a lot of challenges it feels like youre taking on all sorts of challenges a huge range of them as sort of a final question whats diff for you whats difficult everything is difficult I mean I met Steven Pressfield he wrote the war of art he wrote gates of fire he is the preeminent expert on Spartans and he said we all face resistance every single day from the moment we wake up before a writer and for whatever we are in life we face resistant the suit the sooner we can recognize that were gonna face resistance and accept it and give in to that and just kind of plow through anyway the quicker youll get ahead and so Im from the moment I wake up I got to fight myself to do my workout theyre gonna find myself to take my cold shower I gotta fight myself to get to work you know super early knockout 600 emails but I dont think thats different than anybody Tom Bradys got everybodys got to deal with it so its not easy no all right Jeff thank you so much for taking the time thank you everyone for joining us on this very cool very inspired version of the girl show youre awesomep

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