Ben Greenfield is an entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author of the book, Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life.
Ben was named in the Top 100 most influential people in health and fitness.
He’s a biohacker constantly looking to increase human performance by thinking outside the box.
I’ll be talking to Ben about how he was able to shift from an offline business to an online business and his true “ah-ha moment”.
We also dive into how he was able to generate $48,000 in just seven days on his first online launch.
Finally, Ben shares how to balance being hyper productive in business and fitness while also being a great husband and father, and much more.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Ben tells us how he was influenced by his father and got started in business and entrepreneurship from a young age.
- Ben his journey of extensive education, the places he worked, and what he learned.
- Find out how Ben had to shift his mindset from being goal-driven to letting go.
- Learn more out how Ben manages to balance his personal life and work life.
- Hear how Ben went from personal training in a gym to being a successful entrepreneur.
- Ben tells us about his failures and how those drove him to being even more successful.
- Understand exactly what it takes to have a thriving membership website with Ben’s insights.
- Hear as Ben shares all about his fears and the strategies he uses to overcome them.
- Find out more about Ben’s mission to change, evolve, and expand his brand.
- Learn how reading and education gets Ben outside his comfort zone and helps him to keep pushing the limits.
- Find out how Ben handles and conquers the day-to-day lows that come his way.
- Find out why Ben’s wife has had the single most profound impact on his life and what she taught him.
- Get a glimpse of what is next on the horizon for Ben and what he is excited about.
- And much more!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Ben Greenfield — https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/
Ben’s Podcast – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcasts/
Ben’s book, Beyond Training — https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Training-Mastering-Endurance-Health/dp/1628600128
Ben on Twitter — https://twitter.com/bengreenfield
Neil Strauss – http://www.neilstrauss.com/
Enneagram Assessment – https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/
David Hawkins’ Book, Letting Go: The Pathway of surrender – https://www.amazon.com/Letting-David-Hawkins-M-D-Ph-D/dp/1401945015/
Zig Ziglar – https://www.ziglar.com/
Vince Del Monte – http://www.vincedelmontefitness.com/blog/
Fitness Book by Ben, Shape21 – https://www.amazon.com/Shape21-Complete-Lean-Body-Manual/dp/1434898024/
The Ben Greenfield Fitness Inner Circle – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/innercircle/
Laird Hamilton – https://www.lairdhamilton.com/
Tim Ferriss – http://tim.blog/podcast/
Tony Robbins – https://www.tonyrobbins.com/
Dave Asprey – https://blog.bulletproof.com/about-dave-asprey/
Aubrey Marcus – https://www.aubreymarcus.com/
Michael Singer’s Book, Untethered Soul – https://www.amazon.com/Untethered-Soul-Journey-Beyond-Yourself/dp/1572245379/
Michael Singer’s Book, The Surrender Experiment –https://www.amazon.com/Surrender-Experiment-Journey-Lifes-Perfection/dp/080414110X/
“BG: The struggles that you go through, whether they are physical stressors, or mental stressors, or very hard times in life, ultimately, it doesn't matter that much as long as your spirit is well and as long as you're able to bring happiness in the lives of others. As long as you're able to be grateful for even the tiniest thing, you can be grateful for that day.”
[0:00:25.1] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Fail on Podcast where we explore the hardships and obstacles today’s industry leaders face on their journey to the top of their fields, through careful insight and thoughtful conversation. By embracing failure, we’ll show you how to build momentum without being consumed by the result.
Now please welcome your host, Rob Nunnery.
[0:00:51.4] RB: Hello and welcome to the podcast that believes if you desire to create the life of your dreams, then embracing failure by taking urgent and bold action is the only way. Today, you and I get to learn from none other than Ben Greenfield, an entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author of the book, Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life. Ben was named as one of the top one hundred most influential people in the health and fitness industry and he's a biohacker constantly looking to increase human performance by thinking outside the box.
I'll be talking to Ben about how he was able to shift from an offline brick-and-mortar type business to an online business and his true aha moment. How he was able to generate $48,000 in just seven days on his first online launch and how to balance being hyper productive in business and fitness while also being a great husband and father and much more.
First, if you'd like to stay up-to-date on all the fail on podcast interviews and key takeaways from each guest, simply go to failon.com and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page. Again, that’s failon.com.
Now, without further ado, Mr. Ben Greenfield.
[0:02:12.4] RB: All right, welcome to the Fail On Podcast, another episode in Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Right now I've got Ben Greenfield sitting with me.
[0:02:23.2] BG: I have a piña colada headache right now. I’m sipping my piña colada too fast.
[0:02:28.0] RB: That didn't take long. That didn’t take long — Brain freeze.
[0:02:30.3] BG: No. No. The rum didn't even hit my system yet, just the freeze. My motor cortex is failing.
[0:02:37.9] RB: All right. Just to get a little context and background on Ben. How did you get started in business and entrepreneurship and at what point in your life was this?
[0:02:45.1] BG: My dad was this funky serial entrepreneur, ex-fireman growing up. So when I think I was 11, he had being a firefighter paramedic all my life growing up, and then he started ordering coffee beans from all over the world and became like a gourmet coffee roaster, which was a head-scratcher for me because I was used to just something that people ask what my dad does , that I told them he was a fireman. That's easy. It was like, “What did your dad do?” I’m like, “He’s a coffee roaster,” and then he started like a pager service. Back when pagers were in. It was really annoying me, because me and all my brothers would carry pagers wherever we went, like drug dealers, except it’s mostly so mom could page us be like, “Pick up eggs on your way home from basketball practice.”
Yeah, exactly. Then he started like a non-emergency ambulance transportation service and then he started a bagel restaurant franchise. The he started a water filtration —
[0:03:40.8] RB: Were all of these simultaneous?
[0:03:43.0] BG: No. It’s like total — Seriously, serial entrepreneur, do this, do that, move on. For me, watching that, I guess maybe it kind of like set the context for me early that it’s okay to not have — Not to be a fireman, or as I wanted to be, at that point, the president of the United States or a policeman. Probably influenced by him, I was 15 years old. I had been playing tennis for a couple of years. I just love tennis. I know you played tennis as well even though we haven't had the chance to match. We could grab the badminton rackets over there.
[0:04:19.1] RB: We could, whip it out.
[0:04:20.2] BG: Yeah, try something. Anyways though, I, at 15 years old started contacting all of my friends’ parents and some of the local families in the community. We lived in a small community in North Idaho offering tennis lessons. I would have kids show up and I would teach them lessons, group lessons, and individual lessons, and I actually save up for college just teaching tennis lessons for a couple of years, I mean every single day, because I was home-schooled. I’d finish homeschool by the time it was 11 or 12 p.m.
[0:04:52.9] RB: How old were you by the way at this time?
[0:04:52.9] BG: 12pm. I was 15. Then I would teach tennis lessons from about 2 p.m. until about 5 p.m., just in and out like all day long, Monday through Friday.
[0:05:03.3] RB: Is it on the public court?
[0:05:04.1] BG: No. I help my dad build a court at our house, we have asphalt. I painted all the lines in. That was my first business. I did that for a couple of years, and there was like a brief stint before I started going to college where I wanted to be a computer programmer, and so I started making computer games and computer programs and coding websites and I was like one of the first guys to play online World of Warcraft back when nobody knew what it was and it wasn’t cool. We’d use terminal to pull up browsers and play this little like multi-level — I forget. It’s like MMOPG. It's multiplayer games, which is a huge industry now. I shouldn’t have stopped with it because Esport, you paid like a million bucks or more in Esports.
Anyways though, I wounded up playing tennis in college and most student athletes do, I declared myself like a kinesiology, personal training type of manager and I got my personal training cert my first year of college and it started training clients. I worked at two different gyms and eventually four different gyms during college. I worked at a pub at night as a bartender and a coffee shop by day. I worked at the little French bistro in the morning, so I had five jobs through college.
[0:06:06.9] RB: That’s crazy man, because it’s a full time — May people don’t know, full-time student athletes —
[0:06:11.7] BG: Yeah, but I've always been driven and I know your podcast is kind of about failure. I think for me, my early drive was not just like seeing my dad and all his businesses and having like that early success just like my own tennis coaching business, but because I was home-schooled I kind of always had this — You’re making my glass clink against the microphone as i set my.
[0:06:30.0] RB: It’s okay. It’s just a pina colada.
[0:06:31.5] BG: It’s hard to drink a pina colada with a microphone. Anyways though I had a perception growing up that I was weird because I was home schooled. I was the odd man out, the lone wolf, whatever. So, even through college, I wanted to be like the guy who was the best of the best so I could prove that, “Hey, even though I come from a different background than the rest of you, I’m something special.” That's the way the Greenfields grew up too. I did a podcast with Neil Strauss from my show.
He liked psychoanalyzed me on my show which he is really good at and he's like, “How did you grow up? What was your upbringing like?” I like, “The Greenfield's have to be perfect. We had to be like these standout student-athletes who got perfect grades and had the perfect hair and wore the cool clothes because a big part of it was I think that trying to defy the status quo, like the Prairie Muffin home schooler who wasn’t cool.
I had that going into college like that drive to just achieve and achieve better than anybody else. I went to college for four years and then I had — I had another failure that looking back really was a huge blessing in disguise. I decided a couple of years into college I didn't want to be like a strength conditioning coach or an athletic trainer, I want to be physician, like a sportsman physician or an orthopedic surgeon.
I took all the pre-meds, hardcore. I was like 28 credits a semester. I was studying my ass off. I was 4.0. I know sound like I’m bragging right now, but I’m trying to tell I was driven. I was driven. I’ve done the Enneagram assessment. I’m a type one achiever, completely, completely driven. I completed four years of college, my pre-meds, my MCATs got accepted to a bunch of medical schools. Did not get accepted to Duke or Harvard, the two schools I wanted to get accepted to. Again, I’m not the guy who wanted to settle. I wanted the best of the best.
I wanted to get a master’s degree, and I wanted to get a master’s degree so that I would be more attractive to some of the bigger IV League institutions that I wanted to attend even though I’m a white male. I was fighting an uphill battle.
Yeah, I went back and I got my master’s degree in biomechanics and exercise physiology, and then I got offered a job for a surgical hip and knee sales company called BioMed, and I saw dollars signs.
[0:08:45.2] RB: As a salesman?
[0:08:46.5] BG: Yeah, that’s a good freaking job. For coming out of college — I think it was as starting salary for me is sort of been 2005. They offered me something like 80, 90,000 bucks a year coming out of college and I’m like, “I’ll do that.” My perspective way, “Hey, even this turns out to be a short stint, it would look good on my medical school resume too.”
I had failed getting into these medical schools that I wanted to get into.
[0:09:11.1] RB: Let’s be honest, you failed getting into Duke and Harvard.
[0:09:13.9] BG: For me, it was a right.
[0:09:14.9] RB: For sure, yeah.
[0:09:16.3] BG: I really wanted to do well at sales and I did it for four months and absolutely hated it. Sitting there with the laser pointer, showing surgeons how to implant overpriced hips and knees in a broken medical system and that morbidly obese people who could have done all the things to fix their joints.
[0:09:34.0] RB: What were you able to learn from that job, from that stint?
[0:09:36.1] BG: What was I able to learn from that job?
[0:09:36.9] RB: Yeah.
[0:09:37.7] BG: Hardcore. Biomechanics and exercise science. We’re doing everything from that. The implantation of joints which is huge in terms of biomechanics joint angles, joint lever arms, et cetera, because if you implant something incorrectly, the incorrect angle, shits hits the fan when somebody wakes up from the surgery. We also did things like platelet-rich plasma injections, like way before anybody was doing them, which is very similar to like a STEM cell injection, take somebody’s blood and you spin it, you re-inject the growth factors at the bottom of the tube. Just really got me into even more hardcore science than I was into when I was in my undergraduate graduate degree.
The other interesting thing that happened during that was I didn’t run into a single doc who didn’t tell me I would not be completely crazy and insane and a fool to attend medical school. These are the all guys with like the boats, the yachts. They hated their jobs and had no time to spend with their families.
That kind of left — Everything you hear pause, it’s me sipping in my pina colada. That kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth as far as medicine was concerned and really made me think twice about going to medical school. I did not reapply, instead I quit that job in surgical sales and I walked across the street from the little apartment I was living in, in Post Falls, Idaho to the gym and I asked for a job.
I had a really nice resume at that — Any job in the fitness industry — I was a personal trainer, I was a certified strength and conditioning coach. I had certifications of the wazoo. I got my nutrition certification, remember, all through college. I had worked as a personal trainer. I was already doing well as a personal trainer college.
[0:11:11.3] RB: Were you still at personal training as you had that medical sales job?
[0:11:14.3] BG: No. I had gotten into Ironman draft on at that time. I was like training for Ironman, finite, and doing the surgical sales by day, basically.
[0:11:21.7] RB: Such an underachiever.
[0:11:22.9] BG: Yeah. It’s a blessing and a curse. That’s actually complete aside. I’m actually — I’ve been driven, so driven that I’ve decided I need to do a better job letting go. We were talking the other night, I think you were standing at a circle with the other guys who were talking about book I just recently read, complete rabbit hole here, but it’s called Surrender: The Process of Letting Go, or — No. It’s called Letting Go: The Pathway of surrender by David Hawkins.
It’s about very good for like an OCD type-A driven achiever. About just like letting go. However you want to phrase it, letting go and letting God or letting things happen as they will or relaxing a little bit more.
[0:12:03.5] RB: What was his thoughts on which areas to know to let go off? Do you let go off of what you’re doing? I guess give me an example.
[0:12:09.9] BG: Things that you feel that you can control that you really don’t have as much control over, or don’t have as much control over as you think that you do or you shouldn’t even be trying to have as much control over. We backed into a car down here in the Bahamas and there was definitely one car has dent on the other and we pay him a thousand bucks fore I leave here to fix him.
[0:12:32.3] RB: Man, they want that much?
[0:12:33.6] BG: Yeah, I could get completely stressed out about it. I just said, “You know what? Maybe that guy’s family needs some extra money.” Let’s say maybe he and I know he’s kind of like overcharging me or whatever, but he’s got a little bit extra money in his pocket now. Maybe he’s got a kid who’s sick at home. All of sudden thinking about, “You know what? Things happen for a reason.” I can just sit back and let them happen.
I’ve scheduled an Iboga plant-based medicine experience in October. Really, for my intention going into that is to actually delve even more into this process of just letting go, not being as much of a driven achiever. Maybe it will come back to bite me and I’ll turn out morbidly obese eating Twinkies on my couch watching Game of Thrones.
Anyway, we digress. I walked into the gym and asked for a job and I had a job right away, because I did look really good on paper, and I, within a few weeks, I was training 8 to 10 clients a day, started managing the gym within a couple of months, managing the fitness facility and then I was teaching spin classes and triathlon classes and fitness classes and the wife of a local physician was one of my clients and just loved what I did. She introduced me to her husband who is in the process of starting this massive local facility. It’s like a one stop shop for sports medicine, like physical therapy and massage and chiropractic.
He wanted to do an exercise physiology in biomechanics laboratory. I was an exercise physiologist and I had studied biomechanics in my graduate degree and he asked me if I wanted to kind to phase out for my job at the gym where I was already doing really well. I was making money at the gym and I had been making in the hip and knee surgical sales just because I was already following all the big guys in fitness business and what they were doing and how to do everything from group training to subscription based models for personal training rather than pay one time for one session just like everything that you do in a smart client-based business like that.
I partnered with this doc and we started a facility. We started on in Idaho and one in Washington and it was the place to go for people who wanted the best of the best, meaning people who wanted to come in and their blood analyzed, do an EKG, do calorimetry measurements to have their metabolism analyzed, do V02 measurements. We had high speed video camera for bike fits, for Ironman triathletes.
[0:14:53.5] RB: Was it geared towards the general public or was it geared towards athletes?
[0:14:56.4] BG: Athletes, the general public, and then one big thing I did was I partnered with a doctor who on a national level was running this thing called The Exercise is medicine program where we would partner up with local physicians and actually start taking their patients from them when their patients had come out of surgery, which was the perfect niche for me because I was very familiar with that scene. I already had a bunch of local physician contacts. They would send us their patients who were highly motivated to get better, or to rehab from surgery, et cetera.
We had like the patient referrals from physicians. We had the general public. We had all the people coming in for chiropractic physical therapy to see the sports medicine doc, et cetera, who also saw our really cool lab and training facility upstairs who wanted to do that .
Then we also had the athletes, like the Ironman triathletes and the people I was running and doing what I was doing at that point which was like triathloning and marathoning. It was a pretty slick job.
[0:15:48.3] RB: People were coming from all over the country to this center, or was it more local?
[0:15:51.5] BG: It was all over the country but a mean lot of locals too. We’re like concierge-based personal trainer.
[0:15:57.6] RB: Very high touched.
[0:15:58.4] BG: Yeah, exactly. Within a year of doing that I was making six figures. I was killing it as a personal trainer. I was also working for 5 a.m. till 10 p.m. but I was killing it. I actually got to the point where I was traveling around the U.S. speaking at fitness business conferences, teaching people how to make money.
[0:16:15.4] RB: How old are you here?
[0:16:15.9] BG: I was — Let’s see. I always rank this based on the age of my children, because I made the switch I’ll tell you about in a second when my kids were being born, or my wife was pregnant with the boys. They are nine in two days, so this would have been 10 years ago, so I was 25.
[0:16:31.8] RB: Had you started the blog and all of that at that point?
[0:16:34.7] BG: I had started a digital based newsletter through the gym, so I had a very small list. We’ve had a few hundred people, but I understood the concept of a list. I was at this fitness business conference and this guy, they called Mr. X. He got up on stage and gave a talk and he was like doing stuff I’d never even heard of before, like selling ebooks online and talking about JVs. All I knew was JV was like the junior varsity basketball, or the junior varsity tennis team. I didn’t even know what a JV was here. Yeah, this whole idea of joint venture affiliates of ebook marketing and lists and options. Most of that is actually my little digital newsletter at the gym and along with a little ebook that I had written that I had published as a book that I was giving away to people in addition to driving to all the local GMCs and stuff and giving to them to sell. That was my experience with the book and the publishing industry.
I kinda had an interest — Bless you. Pina colada. You’re allergic to my piña colada. Anyways, I’m sitting there and listening to this guy and he made like a million bucks that year.
[0:17:33.9] RB: I got to stop like here. You got a little piña colada on your nose.
[0:17:36.3] BG: That’s why I’m grabbing my paper towel here. I can feel the piña colada all on my face.
[0:17:40.7] RB: For even more context, he has piña colada on his nose, in his chin, and he’s doing this interview in his underwear.
[0:17:45.5] BG: That’s not underwear, it’s my swimsuit. Piña colada, on my crotch now. Anyways, I’m complete derailed after your sneeze and making fun of my face.
[0:17:56.4] RB: JVs, goal, this guy was speaking.
[0:17:59.0] BG: I’m sitting there with my yellow legal notepad listening to guy. I’m like, “Holy cow! I’m working my ass off in the gym.” My wife [is at this conference with me. She’s pregnant with the boys. I’m like — I’m realizing, I’m like, “Hey, what I’m doing right now is not sustainable
To be having a family and I actually kind of wanted to homeschool my kids and be there for them and be at home with them and I was just like at the gym from the crack of dawn until evening and that was what they did. A lot of times I would go home in the evening and I would still be like working and replying emails from clients and stuff like that.
[0:18:27.7] RB: I have a personal question, because I always try to do this as well and it's really tough for me. I don't think I'm as much of a type-A driven achiever as you are. I think l naturally — Yeah, I want to achieve a lot, but I don’t think it’s to your level, which I don’t think many people are to your level. For me, having the balance with the home life versus the work life is still a challenge.
I imagine for you, it’s even more of a challenge, is that —
[0:18:54.5] BG: It was. It’s not anymore, I mean, based on the way of searching my life. At that point, yeah, if I did decide I was going to be done with work at 11 or whatever. That’s when my wife and I would watch a movie until like 2 a.m. or whatever. I was a workaholic. Truly. That was all I ever knew with all the classes I had taken in college and all the jobs I had in college. I was pretty much just like working my butt — and loving it. I still love to work.
[0:19:18.3] RB: Is that something that your parents engrained in you from your — Instilled in your from an early age?
[0:19:23.1] BG: My father would see his dad on Sundays, because his dad was an extremely successful salesman. He was Ziz Ziglar’s best buddy and he and Zig used to sell stuff down in Florida like cookware and stuff like that.
My dad grew up having a father who was never around, who was working. I grew up having a father who was pretty distant, who was very into working . Not necessarily uber successful, because he was kind of like just like bouncing around and he never like maintained a job long enough to be that successful. Again, just like nose to the grindstone, working his ass off. Yeah, for me it was pretty normal.
Anyways, I am sitting there in the audience of this fitness business conference and I’m speaking about how to make money as a brick and mortar personal trainer listening to this guy talking about his online lifestyle like, “I should try this online thing.”
For the next six months, I would get home from the gym at about 10 p.m. and I worked to about 2 or 3 a.m. building a list. I hired a VA in the Philippines. I worked with her to build up a list of all the different triathlon clubs, of triathlon coaches in the country. I started creating a program that would allow triathletes. It’s still one of my top selling programs, like almost 10 years later. Teach triathletes how to do an ironman triathlon in minimal time without neglecting their hobbies, their friends, their family, their career and still be able to cross the finish line fast with a big smile on their fast.
At that point, I was a really good ironman — I was one of the top ironman triathletes in the country and I was doing all these work and I had cracked the code on how do to really well at ironman triathlon and still hold down a job, do all these high intensity training and bank for your buck style training.
I’m sitting there with this notepad, I’m like, “I can totally —” I did everything this guy said. His name was Vince Del Monte. Since then, I found out like he’s a big follower of my podcast now. It’s kind of flipped now. I’ve had him podcast a couple of times. It’s called The Skinny Man Savior, his niche, is he helps skinny guys build muscle.
Anyways though, I just did everything that his little system was.
[0:21:22.5] RB: Did he have an actual online course?
[0:21:24.0] BG: He taught a course right there at the conference, “Here is your headline,” and this was in the days of very long form sales letters with testimonials and calls to action and the opt-in, the popups, the exit popup, the entry popup, everything.
Yup, scarcity, affiliate launches everything. I’m very good at following the rules. If you give me a system, I’ll do it. I did. I did everything he said. Have my affiliates, did the mail out, launched the product during the Ironman Kona race week. Just jumped through all the hoops. That week, I made about $48,000 in seven days selling this online training product, which is like more than — It was a little less than half what I was making as a personal trainer in one week. I was like, “Holy cow! I can do this.”
[0:22:03.0] RB: Did you have a big list this time?
[0:22:04.2] BG: I had built up a decent size list of affiliates, and I think my list was like a little under 10,000. It was decent back in the day. At that point, I realized, “Holy cow! I should move on to the next chapter in my life. I can stay home. I can be with my kids. I can write programs, create products that help people continue to do what I love to do, which is stayed immersed in the fitness and health sector but do it while being at home with these kids that are about to be born and come into my life. Within six months I had sold out from under the physicians, held on to my equipment, cut of the lease from him, branched out and started my own business. I referred all my clients to local personal trainers. Got rid of all of them, moved into the house in my underwear, started a podcast. One of the first fitness podcasts in iTunes.
Started a YouTube channel. Started a blog. Started basically partnering up with a lot of people who I had already worked with as an athlete, because I was a sponsored ironman triathlete and started selling their products on my website. I became an affiliate of some companies. More or less, started doing what I do now, which is writing, speaking, doing a lot of new media stuff, doing affiliate style launches, creating and selling my own products.
When I did that, I did — If I could go back and do it again, I did everything myself. I did all the web programming. I did all the eCommerce setup. I did all of the coding for the websites, wrote all the PHP scripts, customized all the WordPress backend. I did everything.
I was actually talking to my COO today about how that’s been both a blessing and curse because I like to micromanage stuff and all. When I see a website go, I’m like, “Wait. That exit popup doesn’t respond properly on a mobile browser.” I’m like the person who’s getting in and doing that, because I really understood and I just did everything myself back in the day. Probably wasted a lot of time because of that.
Yeah, really that’s pretty much what I do now is what I started doing after I launched that first product and I’m just kind of been rinsing, washing, and repeating since then creating educational media, building up and training a team of coaches who works underneath me, kind of cloning myself in that respect. Then, also doing a lot of sales of products both as an affiliate as well as private labeling, or white labeling, or creating my own products and selling those.
[0:24:21.4] RB: Was that your first course that you made? The one for triathletes, for the ironman?
[0:24:25.3] BG: There was one before that, that little book I mentioned that I would — It was called Shape 21, it’s like a 21-day cleanse, nutrition fitness program. I would get in my car and drive around the local gyms and local GMCs and supplement stores and stuff and give them the book and basically —
[0:24:40.8] RB: You had a physical copy?
[0:24:41.7] BG: I would sell it to them — Yeah. I’d sell to them wholesale and then basically they would just sell it and give me the money that they made from selling it. Very kind of rougher on the edges project. Yeah. When I was like eight years old, I’d love to write. That’s still a passion of mine.
[0:24:55.3] RB: Yeah, we talked about that.
[0:24:56.6] BG: Yeah, I had created a little book before then, but not using any kind of a system.
[0:25:00.6] RB: Sure. Just kind of winging it.
[0:25:02.6] BG: Yeah, exactly.
[0:25:04.4] RB: So are both those products still selling today?
[0:25:06.6] BG: They are.
[0:25:07.8] RB: Have you made any revisions?
[0:25:09.7] BG: yeah. It’s like my New York Times bestselling book rather than publishing another book, I just revised that one, keep on selling it. I’m a fan of if something works, just keep on modifying it and revising it.
Yeah, I’d rather doubt than create a brand new program. I create new programs constantly, but I also make sure the old one stayed modify.
[0:25:30.3] RB: Got it. Let’s go to actually what you would consider your very first failure in the world of entrepreneurship. When you’re getting all of this built star at the ebook, the courses, it sounds like you followed a really strict system, step by step, and that’s kind of what catapulted you into this world. What were some of the things that actually didn’t go right or that you screwed up or that failed?
[0:25:52.4] BG: The big failure for me, at least for me on paper was like not getting into medical school, and that driving me to go on and do some of these things that kind of set my path in life. That was a biggie. Another biggie like I mentioned is not a failure, but to me it was almost like a failure was being that weird guy who was home-schooled, a completely different upbringing. That, for me — That was a little bit of failure as well.
Since I launched that initial product, a big issue for me has been launching products don’t seem to work but kind of like trying to make them work despite people obviously not wanting them and me thinking they’re a good idea because I didn’t split test them or buy some Google AdWords to see if they actually convert prior to launching them.
A perfect example, I started and tried to make work for three years, this thing called A Rockstar Triathlete Academy. A membership website for triathletes. No matter what I did, I just could not get that thing to be a thriving membership website. Triathletes wanted to like buy a program and go out running. They did not want a forum. They didn’t want the community. They didn’t want any of that stuff. All they wanted was just like a training program, but I kept trying to make the membership program work. I poured my heart and soul into that thing for like three years. It was just like a boat. It was just like a complete money hole.
Yeah, it’s like a membership website. Now, I have a thriving membership website and I learned a lot from that about how you need somebody who’s running the community. You need to have fresh new content that actually keeps people entertained and enchanted every single week. You need somebody to be starting new discussions in the forum. You need to have down sales and up sales that you can have different levels of almost like high school — Different communities, some cooler than others, some more expensive than others.
[0:27:38.9] RB: The IP tier.
[0:27:39.5] BG: Right, exactly. All that stuff. I have an inner circle now and it’s called The Ben Greenfield Fitness Center Circle. Now, I have a thriving membership website, but for three years, I pretty much failed at membership websites until I finally cracked the code at it.
[0:27:54.0] RB: Sure. Is the inner circle like a mastermind group, or is that just like the top tier of the membership?
[0:27:58.3] BG: It’s basically people who want — Kind of like a monthly fireside type of chat with my wife and I to be able to have unlimited Q&A. A forum where they can interact for other members of the community for everything like health, fitness, bio-hacking, anti-aging, nutrition, all the things that I teach people.
Then, they also get access to all my programs, all my ebooks. They get special discounts on the supplements that I create. They get — What else do they have? Access to, of course, all the archives of previous webinars, previous workshops. There’s an up-sell of like a month magazine that my wife does, which is like a PDF and video, like online healthy living magazine where she teaches people how to make their own deodorants and personal care products, or how to detox their bodies, their homes.
It’s kind of like feeding through the fire hose when it comes to optimizing your mind and your body and your spirit, but doing so in kind of like a level where you’ve got community, you’ve got full-time access to me and my wife to be able to ask questions for monthly kind of like fireside chat with us.
[0:28:59.4] RB: Is that your kind of the highest tier that you have?
[0:29:01.9] BG: No. I still coach. I still do online coaching. I coach — Right now, it’s 11 people. I’ve got a few professional poker players, a couple of pro-athletes, a bunch of CEOs, just like the CEO of their health. Keep track of their sleep, their nervous system. I program out their exercises for each day. I keep track of their nutrition and their meals.
[0:29:20.7] RB: They’re updating that on an app or something.
[0:29:23.0] BG: They pay $2,000 to $3,000 a month and I just basically oversee their bodiness.
[0:29:28.9] RB: Yeah, got it. It’s very cool. All right.
[0:29:30.9] BG: Thanks to you for the rum, by the way. Otherwise this would just be a banana.
[0:29:33.7] RB: Absolutely pleasure. Absolute pleasure. What are you most afraid of today? It’s obviously a lot of stuff is going well.
[0:29:38.7] BG: Aside from jumping really high stuff and dying.
[0:29:41.3] RB: Okay. You got a fear of heights.
[0:29:42.5] BG: No. I don’t have a fear of heights. I have a fear of what happens at the bottom —
[0:29:44.8] RB: You cliff jump, don’t you?
[0:29:45.6] BG: Yeah, I do. I have a fear of what’s at the bottom if I don’t know what’s down there. What am I most afraid of? I’m not afraid very much. I’m really not. My kids and I have this discussion at dinner where we’re trying to think of something I’m afraid of and aside from like — Probably the biggest thing is like — For me, it’s fear of public embarrassment that I’m not practicing what I preach, or that I’m not like living — That what I’m doing isn’t working. That’s my fear that I’m going to like — My shoulder is injured right now and it’s a bane for me because I’m supposed to be like that perfect picture of fitness who practices what I preach or everything that I recommend works, so why the hell wouldn’t my should be fully at capacity, or like I’m racing for the Spartan pro-team this year. It’s like a professional obstacle course race.
If I come in like 10th or I fail an obstacle, like that’s a fear for me. Basically complete hubris, complete pride, fear of public embarrassment, based on the fact that my entire business right now is me. It’s my face, my body, my celebrity, my branding, and because I’m in physical fitness, that can get kind of exhausting. Meaning that if you look at like big wave surfer Laird Hamilton. Once he quits surfing, once he quits hitting the big waves, he’s got to have some kind of a backup career. At this point — I was hanging out with him in Malibu, he’s really a cool dude, but he’s kind of hobbling because his hips got replaced and all these jazz but he still has that pressure to keep going because his business is built on him hitting big waves.
[0:31:13.5] RB: That’s his identity.
[0:31:14.2] BG: Yeah, that’s his identity. Now, I’m in the process of rebranding my business and kind of like extricating myself in the business so there’s no — I really don’t care if people know who I am. I really don’t. I want to sit home with kids and play the ukulele and write fiction and that’s a perfect day for me. I’m now in the process of rebranding my entire business and creating a business where it’s not my face, not my name. If somebody’s sitting on a plane eating some ketogenic bar that I created, I don’t care if they know who I am. The brand is called [Qion]. It’s all I want them to know, speak and be a part of a tribe and a part of a language would be [Qion], not Ben Greenfield.
That’s kind of the next path I’ve identified — Especially as I get older is — I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is to run my business as the face and my name in the brand and have a celebrity, like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, guys like that. They do a really good job about it. That’s not — I’m not interested in that. I just want to create a business and walk away.
[0:32:14.2] RB: Obviously, like in the supplement space, there won’t be — Most supplements don’t have face behind them, right? Or that they’re not the main brand.
[0:32:24.0] BG: You got like Bulletproof and Dave Asprey or on it, and Aubrey Marcus. Both Dave and Aubrey are friends of mine, and I understand that. I’ll probably never stop writing about fitness. I’ll probably never stop freelancing for men’s health and men’s fitness because I like it. I want to have that to be like an option rather than it being like the necessity to keep my whole business running is whether or not I have a column in a magazine.
[0:32:48.0] RB: Is it going to be a shift more to the supplement space and less on the JV launches, the online courses, that kind of thing?
[0:32:54.5] BG: It’s three different revenue arms; supplements — Really, not just supplements. We’re going to be doing everything from freaking blenders, to weightlifting products, to hacking equipment. Basically, solutions really. That’s one arm.
The next is coaching and consulting. I already have a mastermind program, mentorship program where I mentor personal trainers, coaches. I teach them how to optimize all the things they don’t learn when they’re getting their personal training, sort like, digestion, hormones, and sleep. All things that go above and beyond, just like six-pack abs and vulture biceps. A big part of it is like creating new coaches, creating many me’s and clones of what I do, so coaching and consulting arm.
Finally, we’re building a studio in Denver. We’re going to really up our game when it comes to education and media not only bringing guest experts like physicians and experts who don’t have a platform, don’t have a podcast, for example, but we want to put content out there. Also, a place where we’ll be doing more high quality videos, higher quality podcast, things that people can digest in terms of like new media education. Better more robust YouTube channel, et cetera. It’s basically supplements/gear coaching/consulting, and then education/media.
[0:34:04.8] RB: Got. Very cool. Fail on is kind of the mantra we live by here in terms of if you’re not failing, you’re not growing. You get stagnant. How do you constantly get yourself outside of your comfort zone to keep pushing the limits and keep growing not only physically but also with your business and your personal life?
[0:34:21.5] BG: Really, for me, it’s reading and education. I read anywhere from three to six books a week and I constantly stay in the cutting edge of not just my industry, but also business, spirituality, health and fitness and nutrition obviously, but I read every day a veracious amounts of material. When I’m not reading, I’m listening to podcasts, audiobooks, et cetera. I don’t listen to any music when I’m working out. It’s always just education.
For me, I keep myself on the cutting edge of things from an information and educational standpoint because I’ve been able to just naturally speed-read since I was like eight years old. I could go crank through books and crank through audiobooks at three times speed. For me, that’s what keeps me going is staying on the cutting edge of the industry then turning around, pivoting and creating products, and creating education that takes that knowledge and teaches it to others.
[0:35:11.6] RB: Very cool. Very cool. As an entrepreneur, there are tons of highs and lows. Outside of the epic large scale failures, in your case, it sounds like not getting into medical school, which was still, I think a blessing, not a curse. How do you handle the day-to-day lows that come your way, because everybody has them right, like you’re showing it right now, for example?
[0:35:31.6] BG: I start off every day with gratitude journaling and a prayer and devotions that keep me grounded to a higher power, keep me grounded to the idea that kind of relate to that book we were talking about. Another book that have come up even on this trip, like Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment, just this idea that I am a spirit that’s greater than just like the flesh of the body or the gray matter of the brain and that when things are going wrong, you can look at yourself from a very objective view point. Step outside yourself and realize that the struggles that you go through, whether they are physical stressors, or mental stressors, or very hard times life.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter that much as long as your spirit is well and as long as you're able to bring happiness into the lives of others, as long as you're able to be grateful for even the tiniest thing you can be grateful for the day. We have to start the day with that. We have to start the day with this idea that you have a spiritual aspect to your existence. For me, that’s reading the bible, praying, it’s writing down what I’m grateful for. It’s writing down who I can pray for or help or serve that day, so that I’m actually thinking outside just my owns selfish affirmations and my own flesh, my own brain, my body instead of really focusing on the spiritual component. That helps me out quite a bit.
[0:37:00.9] RB: Do you do that daily?
[0:37:01.8] BG: Aha.
[0:37:02.6] RB: Yeah, what else?
[0:37:03.1] BG: I also do quite a bit of breath work. I do a lot of deep breathing. I got on a lot of walks where I’m doing like meditative walking, meditative deep nasal breathing. I’ve been, for about the past year, really getting into like Qigong type of practices where I’ll just stand and breath and move slowly and imagine like the energy traveling up the front of my body and down the back of my body and just me standing in a pyramid of light as I move my arms through different positions.
It just helps me kind of just leave all the stress behind. You go to a completely different place mentally. I bought an infrared sauna for my basement and I go down to the basement and I’ll do Kundalini yoga which helps me like sweep away stress and go through these intense movements that when I finish them, leave me feeling as though I’ve kind of like burnt away or pushed away a lot of the stress.
Those are some of the things I do. Basically, just like all the woo-shit that the people pushing those giant shopping carts full of kale through Wholefoods would do. That’s what I do, and it helps out. That stuff works.
[0:38:05.6] RB: You find out what works for you and you do it. Do you leave any space in the day for spontaneity or empty space to hang out with your boys, your wife?
[0:38:13.3] BG: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
[0:38:14.7] RB: What does look like just in terms? Even on vacation —
[0:38:17.3] BG: Basically, my whole morning routine, my meditation, my coffee, breakfast, all of that, I finish up by about 10 and I work my ass off for about 4 to 5 hours. Headphones on, you can’t bug me, period, like compete focus. Cellphone is off. I’m either creating content or I’m podcasting, or I’m interviewing, or I’m getting things done.
Then, in the afternoon, as soon as my kids walk in the door, it’s just time with the boys, playing Legos, shooting a bow, hiking, hanging out, and we do that typically for anywhere from an hour to three hours, sometimes me driving them around to their tennis. At some point during that timeframe, I’m also doing a hard workout. In the morning I do easy woo-woo, like meditation, yoga, that kind of stuff. Afternoon, at some point between like 4 and 7 p.m. I do something really hard, like high intensity interval training, usually anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Once that’s done, once the training is done, once the time with the boys is done, usually I return to work for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes prior to dinner. Put out all those last minutes fires.
I create in the morning, I manage in the afternoon; respond to all the emails, that kind of stuff. Then, we sit down for dinner. Always have a family dinner. We eat together. We’ll play games during dinner. We’ll sometimes watch Master Chef. My kids like to watch that every week. We’ll make something special when we watch Master Chef. Usually, we cook together, make a meal together. We sit, we gather around the dinner table. We read our gratitude journals. We talk about the day. We’ll play like table topics, card games, whatever. Dinner is a big thing with our family.
Then, I also —
[0:39:53.7] RB: Between cooking, having it, a couple of hours, two and a half, three hours?
[0:39:55.8] BG: Yup. Usually, in the afternoon — The boys come home, usually at least an hour of quality time when they come home and there’s that time that I’m working out, that I’m getting few things done after I worked out. Then, we gather back around. Dinner is at like 7:30 or 8 p.m. at our house. From 7:30 to about 9:00, we’re just all together as a family hanging out, doing our everything with dinner, to our bedtime rituals, me playing guitar for the kids, everything like that.
Once the kids are in bed, usually I have a good 30 to 60 minutes to hang out with my wife, to unwind at the end of the day. Sometimes I’ll be totally honest with you, there are last minute fire. My whole team knows not to email me after 9 p.m., period.
I know that any fires that need to be put out, I put out by 9 p.m. and after that — That’s in the past year where I’ve developed that, where I realized that I am not going to not check email after 9 p.m. But if I check email after 9 p.m., I at least know there’s not going to be any fires, like huge fires to put out, because my team isn’t emailing me at that point.
Lot of easy stuff after 9 p.m. Sometimes I’ll just be chilling with my wife. Aside from occasionally watching Master Chef with the kids, we don’t watch TV. We don’t go to movies. I’ve just realized, that’s just something I’ve decided to sacrifice in my life. I’m a complete idiot when it comes to what’s going on Hollywood, et cetera. There’s some things when it comes to like hyper-pro activity, they just have to give up.
I usually — The one thing I should mention people ask me when I read, usually that’s at that night time. Usually, sometimes 9, 10 p.m., I’m jamming through books as well.
[0:41:25.9] RB: What time are you waking up?
[0:41:27.7] BG: When I wake, usually it’s between about 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.
[0:41:31.0] RB: Internal clock type deal?
[0:41:32.4] BG: Yup, exactly. I’m like an old fuddy-duddy. I could count on one hand the number of times that I’ve stayed up past 11 p.m. in the past six months. I go to bed between 9:30 and 10:30 every single night.
[0:41:46.7] RB: Got it. That’s getting you up, what are you getting, 7, 8 hours of sleep?
[0:41:48.9] BG: Usually I get 7 to 8 hours of sleep and I usually take a 20 to 45 minute nap after lunch every day, which I found if I’m not hard and heavy training, because I’m still racing professionally, I can give up that nap, but if I’m still in training, I have to have that nap.
[0:42:01.6] RB: Got it. Who’s had the single most profound impact on your life if you had to narrow it down to one person, and what did they teach?
[0:42:09.2] BG: My wife, because we’re yin and yang. She doesn’t give a shit about supplementation [inaudible 0:42:14.2].
[0:42:14.9] RB: I don’t understand it. I was like, “It’s Ben’s wife?”
[0:42:16.3] BG: Anything like that, we’re completely opposite. She doesn’t like to have some workout regimen. She doesn’t take supplement. She doesn’t care about business. She does that fireside shout with me every month and does so like her videos and stuff. Even that, it’s very very casual for her. She’ll set out on the porch and just drink a glass of wine and stare off into the sky for two hours a night while I’m like bouncing off the freaking walls.
She grew up on a ranch, on a farm, and she’s very in holistic health and cooking and stuff that I had never really would have tapped into unless I had met her. She keeps me grounded. When it comes to just me not being — Honestly, if I wasn’t married to her, I would still be even way more a workaholic that I am right now.
[0:43:03.9] RB: Should be super unhealthy.
[0:43:04.3] BG: Yeah, it’d be unhealthy. I’d probably be like that; fat, sick, unhealthy CEO. I have so many friends on the supplement and health industry who don’t practice what they preach. They’re fat, sick, they’re unhealthy, and they run great businesses and they have these multimillion dollar protein powder businesses. [inaudible 0:43:20.1] businesses and all this jazz, but they just don’t practice what they preach. They don’t have this —
[0:43:25.7] RB: With that in-congruency, you can’t be super happy.
[0:43:27.6] BG: Yeah, exactly. She keeps congruency in my life. She keeps me grounded. She’s probably like the biggest influence.
[0:43:33.8] RB: Nice.
[0:43:34.2] BG: Yeah.
[0:43:35.7] RB: What’s next on the horizon for you? What are you most excited about? What are you working on right now?
[0:43:39.5] BG: [Qion], this completely new business upgrading that I want to — I’m building to sell. When I’m 40, I want to have this business that I’ve built that allows people the world’s hard-charging, high achievers to get complete optimization of their mind, their body, and their spirit and have every tool, every supplement, every piece of gear, every diet program, every coach, or consultant, every piece of education, every piece of media that they need to actually achieve everything that they want out life to be able to give them complete longevity and everything is done with one foot in the realm of ancestral living and one foot in the realm of cutting-edge science at bio-hacking.
To be able to marry ancestral living and bio-hacking and provide the world’s hard-charging high achievers with everything they need to live a limitless life. That’s what I’m now creating.
[0:44:33.9] RB: That’s also the last place you ever need to go for anything; health, mind, body.
[0:44:38.3] BG: Yup, mind, body, spirit. Yeah, really created to take people and keep people in the next level.
[0:44:44.3] RB: Where is that at right now? What products do you have launched, going to launch?
[0:44:47.4] BG: We won’t unveil anything till — Right now, it’s march — It will be around June.
[0:44:53.3] RB: Awesome. So it’s coming up.
[0:44:54.8] BG: I’m a slow builder. When I build, I build right.
[0:45:00.2] RB: Awesome man. Cheers. Thanks for —
[0:45:02.4] BG: Yeah, finish up my piña colada.
[0:45:04.9] RB: Knock that out. That was great. Really appreciate you the taking the time especially on a vacation.
[0:45:09.0] BG: Yeah, thanks for having me on.
[0:45:10.6] RB: Got it man. Until next time.
[0:45:12.6] BG: Boom!
[0:45:13.0] RB: See you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:46:15.0] RB: That’s a wrap from the Bahamas. You can find Ben at bengreenfieldfitness.com or greenfieldfitnesssystems.com. He’s also on Twitter @bengreenfield. Of course, all the links and resources Ben and I discussed including more information on his latest projects and ventures can be found at the page created specifically for this episode. You’ll find it all at failon.com/006.
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