Joe De Sena Spartan Race, Podcast Host, Book Author

Joe De Sena is the founder of Spartan Races, host of the SpartanUp Podcast and author of the books Spartan Up and Spartan Fit. In this in-depth interview, he shares his views on family, balance, goal setting and how to focus on the right things in your life and how to motivate yourself.

Transcript of the interview with Joe De Sena:

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Jim: Welcome to the 27th episode ‘Wresting with Greatness.’ Today, I bring you Joe De Sena. Joe De Sena is the founder of the Spartan adventure races which has just become wildly popular in the recent years. He’s not a wrestler but he has tremendous respect for the mindset of a wrestler which is why he got his kids into this sport, and he has the wrestling mindset. Not only can he operate when he’s uncomfortable, but he actively seeks out discomfort. He’s got an absolutely ridiculous backstory which you’re about to hear and he shares with you some really interesting thoughts on how to succeed at whatever it is you do. And on his own podcast – which is ‘Spartan Up,’ he interviews successful people from all walks of life and he’s had wrestlers Kyle Dake and Nate Carr on the show, in addition to Richard Branson and Gary Vaynerchuk and other guys like that. His story is really just an interesting one, to say the least; one that you would never think to lead him to start an adventure racing company. And he shares that story with us as well as some of his key beliefs about success in this 27th episode of Wrestling with Greatness. And like every episode, I’ve created an action plan from what Joe shares with us today. If you’re listening on iTunes, just click on the image and the link to download the action plan or show up right there. Or you can just go to jimharshaw.net/27. That’s 27. So check it out. All right Joe, so welcome to the show. So you and I started chatting here offline and but I figured I hit the record button and start capturing what we’re talking about. We’re talking about wresting and you mentioned you’re jealous. And I said you got a lot of the same wresting mindset that a lot of the listeners have and a lot of wrestlers have. But tell me about . . .

Joe: Yeah, I didn’t have any guidance. Some people are definitely looking at me – we have four children, my wife and I – and would say that I’m way too intense on them. And clearly, my in-laws, I’m sure, would say that. They were just visiting us here in Singapore and I got my three-year-old doing 25 flights of stairs every day with me. Everybody thinks I’m too crazy but when I look back, I didn’t have somebody guiding me and saying, “Hey, listen. You gotta wrestle.” I had so much energy and such a desire to just do things. And you don’t want to have any regrets in life bur if I had to do it again, it would be wrestling and if I was lucky enough, to be a Special Operator, right? Who wouldn’t want to be those things? But they didn’t guide me that way and who knows, my life was better because of it, right? You never know.

Jim: Yeah, it’s interesting. As a wrestler myself, I want to expose as many people to wrestling as possible because it’s not for everybody. It’s not a sport that fits everybody’s sort of mentality. But a guy like you, it certainly would have fit your mentality and everything that you’ve done and you’re doing; I’ve heard your story on your podcast ‘Spartan Up.’ And you’ve got an amazing back story and what you’re doing now, you’re pretty much the world’s leading expert in overcoming obstacles and your job is to create obstacles in people’s lives, you know.

Joe: I think I create obstacles in my own life. Just to try to overcome them. I don’t know. I seem to deal with a lot of obstacles every day.

Jim: Yeah, you do. You seem to seek out obstacles. So let me ask you this; for the listener who doesn’t know, tell them what a Spartan Race is.

Joe: So a Spartan Race is a military-inspired obstacle course for a lack of a better definition. It’s been in existence for hundreds of years. They tested the military climbing walls, climbing ropes, crawling under barb wire and we have a very similar task. We put together either a 3-mile or an 8-mile or a 13-mile course. And we’ve got 20, 30, 40 obstacles along the way. We are attempting to break people physically mentally. Or at least get them to a point where they’re about to break, and then they pull themselves through, get to the finish line and during that process, they get transformed. Not unlike any rite of passage of any wrestling work out or a season where you go through plenty of lows and somehow keep it together and keep grinding through. And when you get to the other side, you’re a better person for it. That’s what we do. We’re attempting to make it an Olympic sport. I attempted for a lot of my dreams and goals out into the Universe and just say them [inaudible 00:04:55] when they happen. And I think by 2024, this would be an Olympic sport.

Jim: Wow, that’s awesome. There’s research proof that putting your goals out there, making them public increases your likelihood of achieving them because there’s that accountability of putting it out there. So that’s a big one, that’s awesome. I think it’s great what you do and I just think that mindset and the toughness that comes out of whether a sport like wresting . . . or you can get out a lot of other activities too. But what you’re doing is good for people. So let me ask you this; why do you think it’s important for people to face obstacles, to face adversity, to do tough things?

Joe: Well 1), I don’t think you can prepare for life if you’re not challenged every day and you’re not uncomfortable because you’re going to face resistance. You will face resistance in varying levels every day and every month and every year. And whether, God forbid, somebody gets cancer around you, you get sick, stuff happens, run out of money, your business fails. The more uncomfortable you are each day, the more training you do in making yourself resilient, the more resilient you’re going to become when those things show up. And they will show up. Anybody listening knows that, right, because we both face difficult times. The other interesting thing for me is I always instinctually knew that happiness was not like an absolute term but it was a relative term. What I mean that is it’s really easy to make yourself happy by getting uncomfortable, and then going back to uncomfortable. It’s hard to make yourself happy if you’re constantly like raising the bar. “OK, I got myself a new car. Next, I need a new, expensive gold watch. I need a new house.” And so, the ability to get yourself happier diminishes; you’re running out of things to do. But if you take everything away; take a cold shower and do 300 burpees in the morning, get through a crazy wrestling workout, boy, you could be happy just eating a cracker in the rain. It’s like, “Oh my God, thank God I’m not doing that wrestling workout anymore today!”

Jim: Yeah, that’s great. What a good point.

Joe: Yeah. And so, I don’t know, instinctually, I just knew that. And it’s really served me well because I don’t need first class on an airplane. You stay over at somebody’s house, they want to make a bed for you, give you this nice room and I’m like, “I’m just happy I’m not sleeping in the rain. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.” And when you have that attitude which I think comes from what you ask me; making yourself uncomfortable. . . . Listen, I didn’t grow up in a slum in India but I did have a crazy upbringing. And when you go through that, you become more humble, you become more compassionate. I don’t know, you just get through life more easily. So I think everybody needs the rite of passage. They don’t exist in our culture. They don’t exist in many cultures. I’m sitting in Singapore right now and it’s wonderful that they put all their young men through a year of military. It doesn’t have to be military, it could be whatever. We should make everybody march from New York to L.A. or something, I don’t know. But everybody should go through something big like that.

Jim: Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for going through tough things. Jay Robinson’s a wrestling coach in the University of Minnesota. I think Jay was an army ranger himself. One of this former wrestlers graduated, become an army had come back to his office and they had a conversation. Jay shared this in an interview one time and they were talking about toughness and how do you get tough. Me personally, I think tough is the most important trait a person can have and I want my kids to have, whether it’s self-defense when getting into a fight at the bus stop or more importantly, toughness in pushing through a tough math test or getting a job or getting into college or all the other tough things that you face in life. But what Jay said that this wrestler told him is, “You get tough by doing tough things,” and my kids know that. That’s a motto in my house.

Joe: Well, I mean if you were going to the first question asked right, “Joe, why do you think it’s important for people . . .” Well, if you wanted to toughen up your fist, you’re going to punch a bag every day, right? You’re not going to rub Vaseline and cream all over it. And so, there’s the two directions in life. There’s the two trajectories. I always opt . . . I shouldn’t say always but I mostly opt for the uncomfortable road every day. “I don’t really feel like doing my burpees tomorrow. I don’t really want to take a cold shower. I don’t really feel like walking up the stairs.” As soon as I hear myself saying I don’t want to do something, that’s it. I got to do it. So yeah, I think it helps.

Jim: So how does the listener take that? How do we incorporate that into our daily lives? You mentioned a couple of things; taking the stairs, doing the burpees, what are some other things that we can do in our daily lives to sort of find the pain and to make ourselves better?

Joe: You got to delay gratification. Listen, if you could walk instead of driving, if you could stand instead of sitting, if you could take the stairs instead of the elevator, drink water instead of wine, beer or coffee; you get confronted with those choices every single day. And the difficult choice is usually the right choice. Man, if I ran a city – I think about it all the time, especially here in Singapore – I would just shut down all elevators and all escalators. Just shut them down. All right, there are certain people; elderly and less fortunate and so forth. But we could figure that out. But I don’t know, if I ran a business on the 53rd floor, everybody would take the stairs up.

Jim: Because there would be a lot less health problems.

Joe: So why was my kid able to buy a can of soda in school yesterday? That is just mind-blowing to me.

Jim: Yeah. There’s a lot of bad influences out there and I like what you said; the difficult choices are oftentimes the right choice. So talk about delayed gratification. I’ve heard you mentioned a study that was done on young kids with delayed gratification.

Joe: Yeah, that’s obviously a big proponent. That’s the big narrative; the vein running through me and my family. We were talking about it recently and I think a good statement that’s been around forever is, “Lose the battle to win the war.” And I think that really describes delaying gratification. I think not taking that cookie now, not taking that marshmallow – maybe the listeners don’t know but the study in 1972 with Professor Mischel out of Stanford who took hundreds of kids, put them in a cubicle, offered them a cookie or a marshmallow, said “You can eat that now or if you wait, you’ll get two.” And most kids ate the marshmallow or the cookie now. They don’t want to wait for two. But they followed these kids for 30 years and they found that the kids who waited had better SAT scores, better marriages, better home, better jobs. Everything in their life was better. So they found a nearly 100% correlation with the ability to delay gratification and success in life. And I’ve gotten to know Angela Duckworth pretty well over at University of Pennsylvania. She’s a preeminent expert in grit. And so, her argument is, “Look, grit is a little different than delayed gratification. Grit is that ability to stay motivated and focused through long period of time, even when you’re making no progress and it sucks.” And I think delaying gratification is definitely a subset of that because if you’re swimming for 10 miles, well, 9 ½ of those miles suck. And you’re just delaying gratification because you can be easily satisfied by just quitting.

Jim: Yeah, that’s the easy thing. You’re going through a workout or you’re cranking through a big project at work or you’re in an argument with your spouse or whatever part it is in your life. You’re right. It’s easier to just quit, to lay down. It causes more long-term pain, right?

Joe: That’s right. I remember I had to quit my first race. My knee was bugging me and I didn’t have enough knowledge regarding the IT band, I didn’t know if I was doing long-term damage on my knee. And what happens whenever you’re feeling pain, whether it’s that swim or your wrestling match, your brain starts to play tricks on you. It was completely logical for me to quit this race. At that moment in time, your brain has convinced you that these are the reasons, this is perfect, and sure enough, I quit. I felt great right away and for the next two hours, I felt great all up to that first night. And then, it started to go away, that great feeling. And I started thinking, “Hang on a second. That race is still taking place right now. I could be out there.” And a day went by. I’m talking about it now, 10 years later. So it never goes away. Maybe I was doing damage to my knee I didn’t know and that’s been an interesting study for me. There are times when you are supposed to quit. So I get asked that question, like, “Joe, how do you know?” And I ask myself that. I was climbing a mountain down in South America, Aconcagua. And we were 100 meters from the summit and there’s a lightning storm. And then they tell us, “Listen, we got to come down. We got to stay in the tent. We got to wait till tomorrow.” So I go into the tent, it’s literally snowing in the tent. The guy I’m next to, I don’t know. My new wife is home 5,000 miles away and I’m sitting in this tent with a guy I don’t know and it’s still going to take me two or three days to get out of there once we summit. And so I’m thinking about it, I’m thinking about it. Next day, we can’t summit. There’s another storm and this could go on for a week. And literally, you could taste the summit; 100 meters. And I said, “You know what? I’m out of here.” And I turned around and I went down and my justification was I don’t want to be a great mountain climber. I could care less about that. I want to be a great dad. There’s so many things I don’t want to be great at. My true north has nothing to do with mountain climbing or being in a tent with somebody I don’t know. If my wife was there, it would be a different story. So I think the decision to quit or pivot is a really easy decision when you know your true north. If you want to be the greatest family man ever, you’d probably turn around when things get a little weird on top of a mountain. You probably will leave the bar a little early in order to be the greatest family man. If you want to be the greatest mountain climber, you’d probably go for it. You’d sacrifice anything to be the best wrestler because that’s what your true north was.

Jim: Sure, yeah. You give up a lot of things, you give up social life and a lot of other things people have and want. I’ll give you a perfect example of that; I was running a world class white water river in December about 10 years ago. There was snow on the ground, it was coming out of the mountain. It wasn’t even white water, it was called steep creeking where you’re just plunging off waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. Your helmet’s crashing off icicles that are dangling from logs that you’re going underneath. It was pretty gnarly stuff and I had oved this. I had gotten into this over the prior few years and it was tough. It was dangerous. It was scary. But I had a six-month old. It was my first child that was born. I got four kids like you, Joe. And halfway down that river, I realized this is not my true north. This is not what I want to be doing anymore because I’ve got other important things in my life. Like you said, I want to be a good dad. I want to be around to be a dad. And that was kind of one of those moments of clarity where you go, “OK, there’s something different that’s important in my life.” So how do you find, Joe, your true north? How do you figure out what’s most important to you? As a matter of fact, I think Nate Carr – I listened to the podcast where you interviewed him on your podcast on ‘Spartan Up’ – said “When you find out what to say ‘yes’ to, you understand what to say ‘no’ to. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to other things.” So how do you figure out what’s most important to you? Do you have a strategy for that or a process for that?

Joe: Well first of all, I want to say Nate Carr is amazing. I mean, he’s got a saying for everything. He’s so witty. He’s awesome.

Jim: “‘No’ means next opportunity.” Love that one.

Joe: Yeah. I think it’s how you want to be remembered, right? I think you write your own eulogy and what’s most important to you. And that can change throughout your life. Before I met my wife earlier on in my life, I had to make money. That was my thing. I was going to get ahead and make money. And I started to make some money, I was like, “I want to do something really great, something that will be remembered.” So my life’s been broken down into 12 to 15 year buckets. And I’ve been really clear with myself as to what I’m going to do in that 10 – 15 years each time. I don’t know, maybe it’s easier for me than other people but I think that that moment when you’re questioning yourself, “If I die today, how would I want to be remembered?” I don’t know if I want to be remembered as a guy who made a bunch of money today. 15 – 20 years ago, maybe that felt differently. And then you write it down and you read it to yourself. You’ll know pretty quickly if you’re on the right path. But I’d like to say if you don’t know where you’re going, how the hell are you going to get there? You can’t just kind of sleepwalk. You know where you’re going if you want to get somewhere.

Jim: Yeah. If you don’t know where you’re going, any direction will get you there. Any path will get you there.

Joe: Yeah.

Jim: So Joe, you referenced earlier about your background and your upbringing, and everything you’ve talked about is amazing. So far, I think when the listener hears about your back story, your background, your upbringing, I think it’s going to make it even more profound. Would you mind sharing a little bit about how you grew up, where you grew up and that sort of thing?

Joe: Yeah, sure. So I grew up in Queens. I grew up in a neighborhood called Noward Beach. The first 10 years was in a rougher part of that neighborhood. It was in east New York. Again, there weren’t gunshots going off all day long in front of the house. But it was organized crime capital of the world. It was right next to Kennedy Airport and people made a living by stealing, killing, extortion, whatever it was. Everything you’ve seen in the movie ‘Goodfellas.’ 90% of the crime bosses in New York area lived in this neighborhood for whatever reason and so we grew up in a place where the conversations around the dinner table were obviously about food – a lot of conversation about food – and cement. But also, heavy discussions about who was going to jail, who could do the time, who was the rat. You’re a kid, you don’t know any better. You’re enamored with the guy with the Cadillac and the nice suit because everybody’s intrigued by that person. And you’re wondering could you do the time? So that tough mindset wasn’t coming from a wrestling mat because I reflect on this a lot. It was coming from seeing friends go to jail, hear about people who died, who got shot, whatever. And you’re in that neighborhood and that’s what you know, so that’s what you’re visualizing yourself doing someday. Lucky enough, my mother got into yoga, meditation and health food. She just flipped the switch and went completely 180° in the opposite direction, moved my sister and I out of there at 13 years old. My dad still lived back and forth from Ithaca. But she started to make sure the wheels didn’t come off the bus for my sister and I because I was definitely headed in the wrong direction. I was selling fireworks already at 10 – 11 years old and what would be the next thing I was selling, right? So I got into a business. I built a swimming pool and a small construction company. Any time I was around my dad’s house during summer was not in Ithaca but back in Queens. And then before you know it, my neighborhood had a Bonanno organized crime family. So he took me under his wing and he gave me every boss and everybody under the boss. I had 700 customers and I was the only guy they trusted in the backyard. It was a wild time. It was everything you see in the movies.

Jim: It’s crazy.

Joe: It was crazy. Thankfully, I went to Cornell University. I don’t know how that happened.

Jim: You know what? I want to hear about that. I think it would be helpful for the listener to hear how that happened because people look at a guy like you who has been successful. You’ve been successful on Wall Street. You’ve been successful in this business. You’ve been successful in just a lot of things in your life. But it would be interesting to hear it wasn’t always easy for you. And getting into Cornell wasn’t easy for you either. It’s not like you applied and got in, right? Your path is a little bit different, a little bit harder, a little bit more challenging. And I think it’s interesting to hear a story of failure after failure after failure that leads to success. Can you share that?

Joe: Yeah, and as you were talking, I was just thinking if the listener wants to get something out of this, I would say I take every meeting. I try to meet and talk to everybody. I’ll get to Cornell, but by doing that, I get an enormous amount of information coming in and I’m very open-minded. I’m very optimistic. So if you’re meeting a lot of people and you’re open-minded and optimistic, you start to explore a lot of opportunities. And I’m constantly juggling many of these potential opportunities, and then something sticks. And I start heading down that road. So the example with Cornell is here I was, running this pool business and this construction company. And I’m graduating high school, and my buddy turns to me and says, “Hey, you want to go to Cornell?” And at this point, people have already applied and been accepted to college and I’m thinking, “Well, my grades are terrible. Everybody’s already been accepted. He said, “Listen, my dad’s a professor. He can get us in.” So we both last-minute apply and I’m taking this opportunity, I don’t even know how I’m going to make it work because now, I’m pretty committed to this business I’m running in Queens and we’re in Ithaca attempting to go to Cornell. We apply, we do great at our interviews but neither of us get accepted. And his dad kept pulling his strings but his dad said to us, “Listen, you can go extramurally the first semester after this summer. You can take up to three classes. All the matriculated students will take five classes so you’re going to be behind them. But if you guys do well, you and my son, you will make a really good argument to the school that you can handle the course load and they should accept you.” So I said to John, my friend who’s dad is a professor, I said, “John, why don’t you come to Queens with me? I’m going to run my business for the summer as I have been doing for the last 6, 7, 8 years. We’ll go to St. John’s University. We’ll take a couple of summer classes. We’ll learn how to study. We’ll tune ourselves up so that when we go in the fall, we take these three classes and we crush it.” He turns to me and he says, “Great idea but I’m going to Vegas. I’m going to party all summer. Why would I possibly want to ruin my summer if we’re going to have to buckle down in late August – September?” So I stick to my plan. He goes to Vegas. I take a course or two – I don’t even remember anymore – at St. Johns. We go back that September. I do great. He doesn’t do as well because I was tuned up. Neither of us get accepted again. He decides to go to UNLV, I said, “Screw this. I’m not done.” Talk about true north at that moment, I’m graduating an Ivy League school. “No one in my family’s ever gone to college. Nobody in the neighborhood’s even gone to an Ivy League school. I’m going to an Ivy League school.” So I applied again, they said no. I applied again, they said no. They broke me by my fourth semester because now, I’m behind 6 credits per semester because I can’t take the 15 credits like everybody else. I’m losing my mind. I’m running this business during the summers. My mother turns to me – who lives in Ithaca, she’s a yoga teacher at this point – and she says, “Listen, why don’t you go and see this woman, Anita Raysin. She works at Cornell. I teach her yoga.” And it was really strange coming from my mother because my dad was the one with the connections, right? Everybody in the neighborhood had connections. “Go see this guy if you need this taken care of,” or whatever. My mother would never be that person. So I go meet Anita. Anita sits me down. She says, “I looked at your transcripts, you’re doing pretty good. I understand you keep reapplying and they’re not accepting you.” She says “I run the textile and apparel department. We study the business of textiles. We have 90 some odd women and in the department, we have no men. Do you like textiles?” I said, “I love textiles.”

Jim: “Of course I do.”

Joe: I didn’t even know what textile was. So anyway, she brings me in. I proof my worth and she accepts me. We’re lifelong friends now. She’s absolutely changed my life forever. So I get into Cornell. I rush through. I end up meeting an Italian guy who’s in his mid-70s today. We’re still very close, he’s like a father to me. And he guided me. If it wasn’t for him, I would still be in the neighborhood running that business. I graduated, I kept running the business. He called me every month, he said, “What the hell are you doing? You need to get yourself into finance. You got to go to Wall Street.” And I said, “I’m the king of the neighborhood. I got 700 customers and I’m making myself $250,000 a year, cash. I’m doing great.” He said “You have to go to Wall Street.” And he drove me crazy for I don’t know how many years. He’d call me every month like clockwork and he convinced me to go to Wall Street. So that was a pivot that changed my life again and I had thankfully, a great run in finance. I built a company, I sold the company and I moved to Vermont. Found my wife, convinced her to marry me, we have four children and now, we took another pivot and we’re in Singapore.

Jim: Wow. It’s such a great story and I think it highlights something I always say, which is “Your network plus hard work equals success.” So your network is you had your mom teaching yoga to the professor and your buddy’s father who’s a professor, who couldn’t get you in but at least got you guys started in the right direction. And then, your friend from Ithaca who’s in his ‘70s. These guys were part of your network and if you take that . . .

Joe: Even the neighbor. Even the head of the Bonanno organized crime. [Crosstalk 00:29:40] I agree with you. If you’re a listener and you want to be successful, you have to not only build an influential network – try to get as high up as you can – with people from all walks of life. And then you have to convince them. You have to be so liked – and I’m working on this with my kids now because as you’re studying this, I’m studying it – that people actually want to help you. Because everybody has their own lives and they’re busy. They don’t have time. But if you like somebody, you will go out of your way to help that person.

Jim: Yeah. There’s a book called ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ I don’t know if you ever read that book . . .

Joe: I took the course. This is a great story. I graduated Cronell and I went back to the neighborhood, I’m running the business. I’m about a year out of school and I’m starting to feel dumb. I’m feeling like I need a tune-up and I’m flipping through the newspaper or something and I see “How to Win Friends and Influence People class coming to” whatever. And I signed up for it. I took it, it was fantastic.

Jim: Yeah. So has it impacted your life and career?

Joe: Hugely.

Jim: Hugely? Yeah, me too. I’ve read the book. I probably read five or six or seven times now and I’ve got it highlighted and underlined and written in the margins. But I try to read it once a year; I try to flip through it once a year. It’s amazing. So I recommend that book to everybody. And that’s just kind of how to deal with people to get them to like you, right? I mean, at its core. But it’s how to understand people and what they want because if you can help them get what they want, then they’re going to help you get what you want. Zig Ziglar has a quote that says something like that, you know. “If you’re helping out other people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.”

Joe: My dad never heard of Dale Carnegie. He didn’t know any of that but he used to say to me all the time, “When you need somebody and you’re talking to them, you need to quickly figure out how you can help them. What did they do, and what can you do for them?”

Jim: Most people have the opposite mindset.

Joe: Yeah. He must have said to me 500 times and so, it became instinctual. It’s like putting money in the bank, right? Think about it. If you had a network of 200 people and every one of them felt like they owed you something because you helped them, you can’t help but win in life.

Jim: Right. 100% agree. That’s great. So I want to wrap up here in the next few minutes but I want to ask you a couple of other things. So like you said, people like to have a takeaway. The listeners would like to have a takeaway from this. Is there one habit – and maybe you already covered it, delayed gratification or making the hard choice every day – that the listener can take away from this that they can implement starting within the next 24 hours? Let’s say to make their life better, to achieve bigger goals etc.?

Joe: If I had to pick one . . . I’m quickly ranking them in my head, like what would be the most important one and I don’t know if I can just pick one, right. I think you would agree with . . .

Jim: Yeah, lay a few on us.

Joe: We all hear it all the time; less is more. You’ve got to train, even if it’s just walking stairs and standing up instead of sitting down. Somehow, somewhere along the line since the ancient world in Greece, we have forgotten that the brain and the body are connected. You see all these successful people in business or in careers not taking care of their bodies. Your brain is going to do better in a healthy body. You have to make it a priority. So it’s eat, it’s train. And the network. It’s like putting money in the bank. People say “I don’t have a leg up. I don’t have money. I’m busy.” Well, everybody’s got the ability to build a network. If you want it the quickest way, go to a high-level charity and donate your time and start meeting people.

Jim: Yeah, volunteer right? You did that in your career.

Joe: Yeah, volunteer.

Jim: Yeah, you’ve got to be willing to do the dirty work and start with whatever you’ve got and build from there because everybody’s got an opportunity to make their life better.

Joe: I know we got to go but I had a friend of mine that went to jail. I had many friends who went to jail but this particular guy, I knew since he was a very young kid because I used to clean his parents’ pool. I just had a liking for this kid. And he grows up, goes away, comes out and gets in touch with me. I can’t help him because he’s got a record and I can’t get him a job in finance. And he comes up to see me in Vermont and he says, “Hey, if you don’t mind I’m going to do you a favor. I’m going to take care of this landscaping thing for you.” He does a whole week’s worth of work and wouldn’t take any money from me; doesn’t charge me anything. This has to be 8 years ago. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t try to help him. I’m constantly throwing him opportunities. Like that was probably the smartest thing he ever did, right?

Jim: Yeah, absolutely.

Joe: So everybody’s got the ability to go help somebody or donate their time and it comes back tenfold.

Jim: Yeah, great lessons, Joe. Amazing lessons and for the listener, if you want more lessons, you can go to his podcast and it is spartanuppodcast.com. As a matter of fact, two of your co-host I think, Colonel Nye and is it Johnny Waite?

Joe: Johnny Waite, yeah.

Jim: They both have wrestling background, so great perspective. Great lessons from you here today, Joe. And for the listener, if you want to get more lessons, check that out. But you can also find the action plan. I’m going to have an action plan from this episode at jimharshaw.net/27. Again, jimharshaw.net, slash, the number two, seven. You can find out more information from Joe and the action plan there. So thanks Joe, appreciate your time.

Joe: Thanks for having me.

Jim: There you have it; Joe De Sena. I told you his back story was pretty interesting. His neighbor being the head of the Bonanno organized crime family, just unbelievable story and great tips from Joe. If you haven’t already, check out the action plan for this episode and all the episodes, go to jimharshaw.net/27. Or like I said earlier, if you’re listening to this on iTunes on your phone, just click on the image and the URL will pop up where you can download the action plan from this episode and all episodes. I just did a count, there’s actually 21 action plans from the various episodes. If you download the one, you’re going to get them all. 21 action plans, 1 free video on productivity, a goal-setting worksheet and 5 tools for thinking big and taking action. So a lot of really, really good stuff there, so check it out; jimharshaw.net/27. And that’s all for today. As always, attack the day with intensity and focus and outwork everyone because you can’t get pinned when you’re on top.