The Hard Way w/ Joe De Sena

Jay Jackson is the subject of Joe’s ultimate wrestling story, but you’ll have to wait to the very end of the episode to hear it. Jackson,assistant principal and wrestler, recognizes a need to nudge students into uncomfortable situations that will develop their grit, but that are often absent in an increasingly bubble wrapped society. He got his grit from his parents. His father, as a wrestling coach, would push his physical boundaries and his mom had clever strategies to develop his social skills. Jackson shares some valuable advice about how to advance towards your goals with a smile on your face.

    1.    To raise your children to be resilient, practice pushing them out of their comfort zone gradually through time, but not without building a solid foundation of security and love when they’re young.
    2.    Since a majority of your life is spent getting to a destination it is vital to find a way to enjoy the process.
    3.    If you can persist in every area of your life, physically, mentally, morally, you’ll succeed.

Direct download: 070-SUP-Jay-Jackson_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

In world renowned ultra runner Dean Karnazes, Joe tracked down a real Spartan by both disposition and bloodline. Does he eat gruel for breakfast, take cold showers, and run wearing a hundred pounds of armor? Maybe. He’s run marathons in every state and is now setting out to do the same in every country. Certainly that falls within the same spirit. So you might be taken aback to hear that Karnazes tells us that we should set out not only to fail, but to fail big. His advice is backed up by a life changing experience that he will describe in this episode.


    1.    To achieve great things take small steps and ask yourself at every step if you’re conducting yourself with discipline.
    2.    Never stop exploring: don’t be afraid to try new things and eventually you’ll discover your passion/s.
    3.    Fail boldly: the most useful lessons are learned from the most dramatic failures.

Direct download: 069-SUP-Dean_Karnazes_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

According to writer Andrew Marantz, if you want to have a fulfilling life, take the largely accepted wisdom “live each day as if it were your last” with a large grain of salt. On the road to success, merely satisfying every desire as it appears will get you nowhere. In a philosophical conversation on the Spartan Cruise Joe and Andrew discuss the the crossover between perseverance and success in artists and athletes, the importance of future memory, the strong drive towards innovation and a variety of other topics. They also attempt to answer whether human achievement is driven by chemical releases in the brain or something more complex.


    1.    “Live each day as if it were your last” may be a misleading aphorism: There are clearly many things you must do to achieve long term fulfillment that don’t involve instant gratification.
    2.    The thing that often gives you the most satisfaction, your life’s passion, is paradoxically the thing you frequently don’t enjoy doing at all, but after all is said and done, love regardless.
    3.    On one extreme are virtuosos, those who strive for mastery, on the other are innovators, those who create change. We need both equally, and often we ARE both.

Direct download: 068-SUP-Andrew-Marantz-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

Growing up as the child of holocaust survivors, Broadway director Jerry Zaks, often found himself overprotected with his family wanting him to enter a “real” profession. At the moment he found his true passion and was happiest his family felt sorriest for him and that he had thrown his life away. But he had inherited from them a ferocious will to live that enabled him to take nothing for granted and propelled him in a vocation in which the odds are stacked up against you. Though not apparent on the surface, performers and directors are Spartans and in this episode Zaks will describe why.


    1.    Seek out the roles in which you best fit and then make fulfilling them a matter of life or death.
    2.    Getting the part, whether it be the leading actor or position in a dream job, involves translating your talent into behavior that’s unforgettable.
    3.    Protect the possibility of a happy ending for as long as possible.

Direct download: 067-SUP-JerryZaks-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

Xand Van Tulleken, a doctor who practices in hostile regions, had a taste of the easy life growing up, but it did not sate his appetite for adventure. He has worked in such places as Sudan, Uganda and Peru and the excitement of the challenge has made it difficult to go back to a conventional existence. He and his brother have even started a TV show in which they immerse themselves in traditional indigenous medicine with no other recourse. The takeaway? Western medicine has a lot to learn.

1. When things go badly wrong it's because of indecisiveness and uncertainty, therefore, be prepared.
2. People can live quite well without western medicine. It has little to offer to the indigenous way of life, for example.
3. Some of life's happiest moments are in the midst of doing difficult things.

Direct download: 066-SUP-Xander-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

To say the least, Lewis Howes had a focused vision. He wanted to make the Olympics and figured that the best way in was by joining the national handball team. There was a slight problem, he never played the game. He brought his athleticism and Arena Football experience to New York City, practiced intensely and now finds himself tantalizingly close to his daunting goal after an incredibly brief quest. He has some sage advice for the longer road to greatness as well.


1. Live in the moment, in the flow and take tiny steps.
2. The health and performance benefits of quitting, or limiting, simple carbs and sugar are a game changer.
3. If you lack natural talent, you must seek out alternative means to gain an edge.

Direct download: 065-SUP-Lewis_Howes_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

Tucker Max is an author who pioneered the genre known as “fratire,” an irreverent,  tongue in cheek description of his testosterone and beer fueled exploits that gained a decent following about a decade ago. Now CEO of, his life appears to have taken on a decidedly different tack as he stands head to head with Joe in the MMA octagon. By his own admission, he’s only achieved modest success in the ring, but what he has learned is priceless. In the ring, as in life, there is no such thing as “losing.” There is only winning and learning.


    1.    There’s no reason to worry about losing. There’s only winning or learning.
    2.    Great mentors shorten the learning curve and speed the way to mastery. Take the effort to find one.
    3.    If you want something, make sure you have something to offer first.

Direct download: 064-SUP_Tucker_Max_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

Unwittingly paddling into hippo infested waters on the Zambezi was the perfect, if unintentional, predictor of later success for Juliet Starrett who co-owns the San Francisco Crossfit with her husband Kelly. After the most lethal mammal to man upended her canoe, she was already strategizing her plan to survive midair. This is the perfect metaphor for making it in business: peril will gauge a sneak attack at the most inconvenient times and you gotta summon up the fortitude and flexibility to adjust your strategy when suspended at the height of danger. There is simply no time to lick your wounds.


    1.    Taking risks in your day to day life helps prepare you for the risks in business.
    2.    Be or recruit someone who is highly organized as an essential member of your team.
    3.    To retain quality staff, create enough space for them in the company to diversify and grow.

Direct download: 063-SUP_Juliet_Starrett_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

“Chefrepreneur” Jeffrey Zurofsky, co-founder of Wichcraft sandwich shop and judge on Bravo’s “Best New Restaurant,” suggests the obstacles of running an efficient kitchen and a successful restaurant should be a model for entrepreneurship. A high quality restaurant is like a virtuoso pianist playing a finely tuned piano: a great deal of talent, coordination and practice goes into an end result that appears graceful, effortless and exquisite. As paradoxical as it seems, for him creativity thrives within the bounds of a certain amount of discipline. In this episode Joe and Jeff discuss some of the finer points of applying these lessons to your business and life.  


    1.    To get the job done effectively, follow the kitchen inspired concept of mise en place--organize everything into its proper place before getting down to work.
    2.    In it’s essence, service is a well crafted method of preparation that ensures that the results are consistent and high quality. It is well worth honing this technique.
    3.    Avoid the big mistakes but accept the small ones as necessary obstacles to shape the unique character of your business.

Direct download: 062-SUP_Jeff_Zurofsky_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am EDT

John Durant, author of the Paleo Manifesto, dispels the myth that Paleo is a meat intense, monolithic diet. There are many indigenous cultures, he explains, with different levels of meat consumption, and therefore many models to choose from. What he doesn’t accept, however, is that vegetarianism exists in our nature. In his research, Durant could not identify even one xexample. He does agree that the most important aspect of this and any other health conscious diet is the elimination of processed foods.  He describes how our cultural shift towards expediency and convenience has made us sick.

    1.    Vegetarian and vegan diets are not noted in indigenous diets and are largely grew out of our industrial cultures.
    2.    The most important aspect of the paleo diet is not to increase meat consumption, but rather to eliminate processed foods from our plate.
    3.    We are products of our habitat. To effectively change your diet, change your surroundings.

Direct download: 061-SUP-John_Durant_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

In this episode, Dr. Fred Bisci tells us how to cut out processed foods from our diet to vastly improve health and athletic performance. In his case, though, “processed” also means any form of cooking. Bisci has found through fifty years of eating a raw vegan diet that meat and cooked foods are optional - and may even be detrimental. Incredibly active at age 85, Bisci certainly makes a good case. Yet he urges us not to follow his and Joe’s example: instead of taking the extreme measure of going 100% raw from the start, try making a more gradual transition.

    1.    In Bisci’s experience, athletic performance can be amazing on a diet of only raw fruits and vegetables.
    2.    If switching to a purely raw diet is too extreme, the most important way to improve your diet is to eliminate processed food, anything from a can or a box.
    3.    When coming off of the standard American diet onto this one, it’s common to go through a detox period in which you’ll feel ill. Persist through it and you’ll feel great eventually.

Direct download: 060-SUP-Fred_Bisci_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Becoming the only person to win the Boston and New York marathons AND medal in the Olympics, Meb Keflezighi stepped up to the challenge by remembering his father’s sacrifice. His father fled war torn Eritrea carrying only a canteen, stick, sack of barley and matches to ward of hyenas; Keflezighi is grateful for regular aid stations to ease his way. He and his family made it to the United States via Italy and through hard work and perseverance all became successes in their respective ways. Keflezighi details his inspiring journey in this episode.


    1.    Frame of reference can push you towards your goals. Running a marathon with the luxury of aid stations is nothing compared to hiking hundreds of miles through hostile lands to save your family.
    2.    A goal bigger than yourself, that impacts people in a positive way, is an excellent motivator.
    3.    It’s not about winning, but getting the best out of yourself.

Direct download: 059-SUP_Meb_Kerflezighi_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

How does one, like Evan Dollard, become an American Gladiator? The frank answer, according to him, is that you don’t. Instead you make all the preparations within your power; go where the action is; pursue your passion to the fullest; make yourself known and talk to the right people and do everything to put the odds in your favor. If it doesn’t work out chances are that you’ve created an environment where something else, maybe even something better, will. This is the way to live a fully realized life, one without regrets. Dollard is living it and he has some valuable wisdom to help you live it too.


    1.    It’s worth laying the groundwork when pursuing an opportunity because even if it doesn’t pan out, you’ll be ready for the unexpected opportunity that may be around the corner.
    2.    The riskier path is worth it even if you don’t meet your goal since it means eliminating the “what ifs” and “if onlys” and living a life without regret.
    3.    Always move forward: If you see a stagnant pond you don’t drink from it but instead seek out the fast flowing stream with the freshest water.

Direct download: 058-SUP_Evan_Dollard_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Mike Reilly is the voice of the Ironman. He has lent his voice to over 1000 events and his declaration, you are an ironman, has helped transform lives. Reilly takes great care in choosing his words because he knows they’ll have not just an impact on the racer’s life, but everyone around him as well. Reilly is a firm believer in the power of the individual to shape their own experience, but this doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t benefit from some words of encouragement to propel them towards the next finish line.


    1.    If you live by the adage, “you’re the cause of your own experience,” you’re on the right path.
    2.    Experiences, unlike things, permeate to other people which makes them more valuable.
    3.    Live from the inside out and everything else falls into place.

Direct download: 057-SUP_Mike_Reilly_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

As one might expect from the author of the “Four Hour Work Week,” Tim Ferriss has a solid, well established routine. He awakes, meditates, exercises, journals, blocks off four hours for creative work, then frees himself for meetings and phone calls. This well balanced approach has taken him far.  When the inevitable drudging task comes around he slogs himself through it by building momentum with “Scooby snacks,” short, fun activities preceding the boring ones.  From the start of this interview it quickly becomes apparent that Ferris is a wellspring of great advice for anyone who is aiming to build a successful business or life.


    1.    Narrow things down to one or two things to focus on daily.
    2.    Volunteer for great organizations then go the extra mile to stand out.
    3.    Find a small but fast growing company to work for and observe the deal makers at work. Note the kind of questions they ask to get ahead. Example: “I know its impossible, but if there was a way to make it work, what would it be?”
    4.    When things start going well in business, to maintain focus, separate the great opportunities from the potentially overwhelming number of good ones. Ask yourself, what it the one step that will make all the others irrelevant.

Direct download: SUP-56_Tim_Ferris_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EDT

Forget what your first grade teacher told you, according to Kelly Starrett, owner and cofounder of Mobility WOD, children should never sit still in class. He believes that we learn better, are healthier, and by burning more calories are starting to reverse the obesity epidemic when we are standing. Even healthy adults who work out regularly suffer from the negative affects of too much sitting. Starrett, through his crossfit gym, encourages the type of holistic practice that will prepare an elite athlete, or a normal person, for any situation. In this episode, he describes how in depth.


    1.The benefit of having a good conditioning program is not learning how to suffer but learning how to problem solve in the face of discomfort.
    2.There’s no way to solve the obesity epidemic without tackling sitting and inactivity.
    3.If we can’t use the lessons of elite sport to help the layman, then sport is just folly.

Direct download: 055-SUP-KellyStarrett-MixedAudioExp-C.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Travis Macy, an avid ultrarunner, wrote The Ultra Mindset after he learned a valuable lesson himself. He was working to become a school principal, a respectable position and by all means a sensible decision, but stopped in his tracks to write the book. Pushing forward in the wrong direction for the wrong reasons would’ve left Macy unfulfilled. Raw perseverance without deep purpose is not enough. Lucky for us, Macy channeled his mental toughness into the right endeavor and he shares a number of strategies for you to do the same in this podcast. 


1.When things get tough it’s helpful to focus on why you’re doing something and not on the drudgery of the task.
2.Training is equally important for developing a strong mind as it is for getting fit.
3.Quitting is okay when you find yourself on a path that doesn’t align with your values, but if you are on the right path, don’t give up.

Direct download: 054-SUP_TravisandMarkMacyAudioRevised.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

To be a success, or even to survive, emotional intelligence often trumps raw IQ, as Jordan Harbinger discovered while being detained and interrogated in Serbia. He used his humanity to escape. Similarly, being empathetic and genuine is just as important in finding and keeping friends and lovers as it is in advancing in your chosen field. Harbinger taught this through his Art of Charm podcasts and life coaching, and now on his "Jordan Harbinger Show.". As he describes in this episode, it’s not so much the skills you add that are important, but the bad habits that you subtract in order to expose your best self.

    1.    Unless you are at the top of your field or a workhorse, relationship skills are the key to advancement.
    2.    If you want to present your best self you need to silence the self criticism.
    3.    External sources of validation (fancy cars, houses, etc.) are not as impressive to emotionally healthy people as displaying your true self.
    4.    If you’re not creating good habits you’re creating bad habits, but you’re creating habits no matter what. 



Direct download: 053-SUP_Jordan_Harbinger_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Adventure race champion Robyn Benincasa delved into her paddling passion by entering and excelling in a kayak ultra endurance race several hundred miles long. Several world records and hip replacements later, she is still going strong. It is her core philosophy that once you find something that you’re good at, pursue  it with every ounce of your being. Since she’s channeled much of her boundless energy into her foundation, Project Athena, that helps women who’ve survived medical setbacks, this is great news for them. Benincasa will describe the transformative power of adventure and persistence in this episode.


    1.    Make the effort to find your strengths and continue down that path.
    2.    To bypass the victim mentality, always be working towards a big goal.
    3.    Success is driven, not by money, but the desire to fully realize what you’re capable of.

Direct download: 052-SUP_Robyn_Benicasa_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

After successful real estate businesses in Lebanon and Iran, Karim Jaude arrived in Los Angeles in 1979 with only $17 in his pocket and not a friend within a thousand miles. By merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he lost almost everything … twice.  He was kidnapped, tortured and forced to flee the country, but, in an extraordinary display of resilience, he got up and thrived again and again. Jaude’s determination started early in life and pushed him through the rough spots, of which there were many. He recounts his extraordinary journey in this podcast.


    1.There will never be justice in the world but we have the ability to reduce people’s suffering and not add to it.
    2.Adversity teaches you to float over the small hassles in life.
    3.What happens to you doesn’t matter as much as how you react to it.
    4. Help one person every day.

Direct download: 051-SUP_Karim20_Jaude_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Austin Malleolo is a formidable CrossFit competitor and level three trainer, but he says there was not much indication earlier in his life that he would achieve what he has. He was a troubled youth who was making many bad decisions that ultimately lead him to his path and passion. Instead of allowing him to continue down a trajectory that was aimed straight at a life of dead ends and possible prison, his father wisely opted to derail that destiny. In this podcast Mallelollo describes how this change in his frame of reference got him back on the track to a fulfilling life.


    1.    Physical disadvantages just mean that you have to work harder than everyone else to succeed.
    2.    Everybody needs someone in their corner.
    3.    Practice with someone better than you.
    4.    You control your own destiny.

Direct download: 050-SUP-Austin_Malleolo.Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Joe navigated his way through tough neighborhoods, a broken family life, organized crime, a near hopeless bid to enter the Ivy League, Wall Street, a human Iditarod, and daunting business prospects in backwater Vermont until he found his true calling.  As usual, Joe insists he isn’t special and outlines how you can do it too.  

1.  Commit: Say what you’re going to do and do what you say.
2. Go above and beyond.
3. Never complain. Practice gratitude.
4. Choose your path and stick to it.
5. Persevere and persist.
6. Practice upside/downside decision making.
7. Change your frame of reference and develop grit.
8. Do something you’re passionate about and it will no longer be work.
9. Road blocks are obstacles to overcome.

Direct download: 049-Mastermind_JoeDesena_Audio.wav
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

According to the Entrepreneur, Investor & Best-Selling Author Gary Vaynerchuk, he was bad at many things. But what he was good at was crucial for his successes: he knew himself very well and acted on his strengths, intensely. He was equally adept at reading others and is living proof that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is as important as IQ in the world of business. His grit was shaped by a tough Eastern European upbringing tempered by compassion. In this episode,  Vaynerchuck explains what obstacle resistance means from a humanistic perspective.

1. If you know who you are, by nature you’ll bet on your strengths, and if you bet on your strengths, you’ll win.
2. You must be willing to invest several years ahead of time to realize a payoff.
3. Almost anything you do is good as long as you’re “all in.”

Direct download: 048_SUP_Gary_Vanerchuck20Audio.mp3
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How did Kris Halenga, diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at 23, with no business experience, manage to become such an admired and inspirational charity CEO?  Her version of grit was a mix of passion and taking small steps that eventually added up to something spectacular. She was kind to herself along the way and is now extending that kindness to others by raising breast cancer awareness. Just as compelling is the story of how she was able to take a potentially devastating condition and use it as a foundation to build a life she loves.

1. Passion and a willingness to learn along the way can stand in for business skills in entrepreneurship.
2. Don't let a challenging situation consume you but change it into something good that can help others.
3. Achieving small things each day can make you happy and will soon build into a big thing.

Direct download: 04720SUP20Kris_Hallenga_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Marc Von Musser, the director of coaching for Tony Robbins, says find the why and the how will follow closely behind. He shares the secret in this interview.  If you're like most people, you've been lulled into complacency, seduced by the sirens of comfort and convenience. But Marc Von Musser says that you're wasting your precious life. So what do you do to get out of this predicament? Work harder? That will only take you so far and will prove to be a partial solution. Work smarter? Naturally, but again this doesn't probe deep enough. As Von Musser elucidates, we're asking the entirely wrong question: We should be asking why and the rest will follow closely behind.

1. If a person has a big enough why, they can do anything.
2. Once you find a why, backload it with intelligence and inspired action.
3. To find your why ask yourself what you would do if money wasn't an issue.
4. Don't question the price of success; pay it gladly and success will come to you in droves.
5. Most people who play it safe are bored to death. And most people play it safe.

Direct download: SUP2020046_Marc_Von_Musser_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Explorer Club members have ventured to the bottom of the deepest ocean, the top of the highest mountain, to both poles and to the moon and back. Next stop for their iconic flag - Mars. According to executive director Will Roseman, members of this venerated organization have undertaken extraordinary expeditions that have significantly advanced the cause of humankind, they’ve also used extraordinary means to survive everything from panther attacks to avalanche burials. Counted in their number are a US president, a hugely successful movie director, astronauts and many legendary explorers. Roseman tells their stories and reveals some of their secrets.

1. "Never give up. Never give up. Never give up." Winston Churchill
2.  But, on the other hand, go into an endeavor mindfully: Assess risk. Do your homework. Be prepared.
3.  The will to survive is indomitable.

Direct download: SUP2045_Will_Roseman_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Levison Wood just finished walking the full length of the Nile. Walking, that is, when he wasn't running from charging buffalos, elephants and crocs or wading through python infested swamps, or dodging bullets... Yet for this seasoned explorer it was well worth the risk, not only for the exhilaration of being the first, but also for the richness of the experience. Often the biggest obstacle was not escaping the perilous but enduring the mundane. Wood describes how he developed the grit to push through.

1. Manage risk; don't avoid it. No risk no reward.
2. We need much less stuff than we realize. Simplify your life.
3. You're the only one who determines what you're capable of, so persist through the naysayers.

Direct download: SUP2044_20Levinson20Wood_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

The span of Tyler Wren's 13 year pro cycling career included a time when doping was rampant. Giving in to the status quo, while risky, could almost certainly have landed Wren a coveted spot in the Tour de France. He was too well grounded in his values: To him success was not about his position relative to others, but becoming the best person he could be. Learn about his journey which has taken him, currently, to directing bucolic, community oriented cycling events, the next of which takes place at the birthplace of Spartan Race in Pittsfield, Vermont.


1. Success is personal.  It's about focusing on and achieving your own goals without being diverted by other's opinions.
2. Align your values with your actions by writing them down and hanging them in easy view.
3. Just stepping out the door is simultaneously the simplest and hardest action you can take in service of success.

Direct download: SUP2043_TylerWren_audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Howard Chang was a karate champion at 17, but he derives more satisfaction from being bad at something than he does from being a master. At 17 he completely switched gears to endurance racing, a sport which he admits no natural affinity towards. He eventually excelled at that as well. Learning to fail and get back up, Chang believes,  is the key to success in any endeavor, and he is eager to practice this at every opportunity. Not content with the everyday challenges of life, Chang seeks out adversity. This gritty strategy has propelled him to high places. He is currently CEO of a Toronto ad agency which is renowned for its high standards of environmental and social responsibility.

1. The fast track to growth is to take on a challenge you're not necessarily good at and let adversity be your teacher.
2. The ability to fail, pick back up and rebuild is essential in business.
3. Don't coddle your kids. Teach them a work ethic while still allowing them the freedom to have adventures. Don't shield them from difficulties.

Direct download: SUP2042_HowardChang_Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Carl Quintanilla, weekend NBC Nightly News anchor, decided to make the jump from The Wall Street Journal to Television when the future of print looked uncertain. Though he has secured a coveted position, he initially paid his dues by always saying yes to opportunities, including reporting in Iraq, where by that time, fortunately, hostilities were on the wane. The resilience he built up in such an ambitious career track explains why he coasted through the Spartan course prior to the interview. Joe and Carl discuss what they have learned through their interactions with the successful as well techniques that have helped them in their own lives.

1. Set a limited time to reflect on failure (3 days max) then move forward.
2. In general, yes is the best answer. Don't build walls.
3. The key to success is surviving long enough to get lucky.

Direct download: 041-Carl_Quintanilla_SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Dr. Galasso has, in his work with developmentally disabled Spartans, motivated some 2000 gritty children across the finish line. This endeavor is a great model for the no less formidable challenge parents face in setting a worthy course for their own kids. In this episode Galasso describes a strategy framed by hope, healing, empowerment and connection. Celebrate Father's Day by striving to be the type of parent that enables his children to thrive in the face of life's obstacles.

1.Support children in a way that instills the belief that they are capable of anything.
2. Notice the things you like about your kids, even in the teen years.
3. Being a strong father figure is the will increase the chance that your children follow a righteous path.

Direct download: SUP204020Joe20Galasso20Audio.mp3
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Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, is an extreme example of the high school reunion paradox. We all have seen it. Homecoming kings and queens who have sunk into mediocrity while awkward "nobodies" have somehow made it big. Costello, the one who was always picked last for the team, is now CEO of Twitter. He describes how he used his perpetual outsider status to scrap his way to the top. His strategy is surprisingly simple; it's only the execution that's difficult.

1. With enough perseverance even the most unlikely to succeed may find themselves on top.
2. Simply being willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations is the best way to build resilience.
3. Success in business is like forestry management: you may be surrounded by wildfires, but the key is to identify and extinguish the most urgent ones first.

Direct download: 03920SUP20Dick20Costello20Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

The Underground Strength Training crew is about to be subjected to a 24 hr. workout, but as entrepreneurs they are well accustomed to that dynamic. They have some great insight (Like the failsafe man in the mirror test) on what it takes to navigate through the hard times in service of a passion. 

1. Look at sacrifices made for success as an investment.
2. If you can delay gratification, you will be more successful in all areas of life.
3. Find your why by telling it to yourself in the mirror since it’s almost impossible to lie to yourself this way.
4. Surround yourself with supportive people of a like mind, if they can’t be found in person find them in books and podcasts.

Direct download: 3820SUP20Underground20Strength20Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Dan Richards, Global Rescue CEO, is here to remind you that there’s a fine line between pushing through adversity and putting yourself in unreasonable peril. His company Global Rescue rescues those who walk that line then somehow slip, any place in the world. He shares stories of some of those rescues and what they taught him.

1. Never underestimate the environment.
2. You need to correctly calibrate your perception of risk to the environment you're entering and not just try to push through adversity.
3. The law of numbers will catch up with you, so scout out risks beforehand by analyzing the situation.

Direct download: 037-SUP-DanRichards-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

How far would you take a dare, especially one that started as a joke? These guys took it all the way up Mont Ventoux, the iconic slog of the Tour de France, on a clunky cumbersome rental bike built for flat city lanes. They attempt the same feat up Mt. Washington.  Why? Because others were calling it impossible. They were also driven by a worthy cause, Macmillan Cancer Support. Faced with adversity every step of the way, they pushed forward, always eking out a solution. Their achievement epitomizes the adage "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

1. People saying it's impossible makes it all the better.
2. Keep going even when it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Things will often pull together at the last moment.
3. Just start it.

Direct download: 036-BorisBikeGuys-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Professor Robert Sternberg, psychologist and psychometrician thinks schools have been testing and teaching the wrong qualities for the last century. What if we've been frittering away vast amounts of human potential in that same time frame? Cornell Professor Sternberg has found that success in academics and in life is more closely tied to creative and practical thinking, wisdom and ethics than it is to IQ and memorization, the measures currently in use. He's on a mission to shake things up. Sternberg also has some invaluable advice on perseverance and seeing through our passions, and he speaks from experience as his path stretches all the way back  to elementary school.

1. The most valuable qualities for success are not tested for in schools: creative and practical thought, wisdom and ethics.
2. Keep going in the face of obstacles; persevere, but also realize when you're in the wrong race.
3. Achieving success is not always getting to your original goal. Sometimes the path was right but the goal was wrong or the goal was right but the path was wrong. Constantly reexamine your path and your goal. 

Direct download: 035-Robert_Sternberg-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

As superhuman as skilled parkour practitioners appear, Dan Edwardes reveals a very different view of the sport he helped popularize. Through running, jumping, crawling and climbing it brings us back to our roots, the functional ways that humans were meant to move, quite apart from the desk jockeying and couch denting now common. According to Edwardes, Parkour is a metaphor for life: one person's obstacle is another's stepping stone. As he proves, this amazing sport has the ability to completely flip flop your frame of reference.

1. Treat fear like a cowardly friend--it's advice might be right some of the time, but you wouldn't want it to rule your life.
2. Obstacles are really stepping stones we can use to better our lives.
3. If you are content on the path you have chosen, then you are successful no matter the opinion of others.

Direct download: 034-Dan_Edwards-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

For the founder, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, getting fired in the prime of his career is the best thing that ever happened to Barry Sternlicht. He recruited a couple of friends, borrowed a few million dollars, followed a business plan that bucked all conventions, and set off on a path that would make him a real estate and hotel investing star. He tucked away this mantra in his wallet for eight years: “Perseverance is genius in disguise.” He found it in a fortune cookie. Sternlicht, in fact, is a treasure trove of adages which have no doubt driven him through the tough times. His father, a holocaust survivor, was one of his first inspirations.

1. Perseverance is genius in disguise.
2. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
3. Find the freight trains in your life and then get on them instead of in front of them.

Direct download: 033-Barry_Sternlicht-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Amit Kumar studies happiness at Cornell University. Can money make you happier? Is the key to happiness a newer car, bigger TV, & more electronic gadgets. That's what the ads tell us, but according to happiness expert Amit Kumar, enduring happiness is manifested through experiences. That's great news for everyone who has ripped themselves off of the couch. And though many of you undoubtedly drew that conclusion already, Kumar explains the fascinating theories behind it.

1. Experiences and not material goods lead to long term happiness.
2. Due to our capacity for adaptation, you can live a happy life after a negative event.
3. The “hedonic treadmill” will not sustain happiness; you will always need to “up the dose” of material goods.

Direct download: 032-Amit_Kumar-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Jimmy Binns will never stop challenging himself. Becoming a police officer at age 74 is just the latest in a lifetime of impressive feats. He passed the bar exam in 20 states just to see if he could, was a marathoner and a boxer. He was a lawyer to the boxers, most notably representing Don King against Mike Tyson, and practiced for half a century. His track record of determination and perseverance is legend and inspirational.

1. Motivation is a contagion. If you're around motivated people you'll either drop out or become motivated.
2. Preparation is everything.
3. You're never too old to take on a serious challenge.

Direct download: 031-Jimmy_Binns-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

A marathon finisher on seven continents, an aerial skiing Olympic hopeful, head of a prostate cancer awareness foundation, and she’s just 15. That's just how Winter Vinecki rolls. She already holds a world record and she is nowhere close to her prime. She nurtures a healthy positivity that covers all eventualities. Should anything go awry, she's still on track to go to Stanford and perhaps try a little skydiving. Winter leaves little doubt that she'll succeed no matter her path.

1. A worthy cause is a great motivator.
2. Active and supportive parents are great role models.
3. Have a good backup plan.

Direct download: 030-Winter_Vinecki-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:31pm EDT

Sir Ranulph Fiennes holds the greatest number of exploring world records of any living person and almost inconceivable endurance in every facet of his extraordinary life. Considered the world's greatest explorer, he has a decidedly different take on concepts such as grit, obstacle resistance and success. But even if his views don't take on the traditional motivational parlance, they have clearly worked in his life, an extraordinary one to say the least.

1. You never “reach success”; you're only as good as your last movie.
2. It’s never too late to face your fears.
3. To surmount obstacles, have a cup of tea and figure out how to go around them.

Direct download: 029-SUPSirRanFiennes-FULL-V2_for_AUDIO-FINAL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Risa Mish, an expert in critical thinking, problem solving & leadership teaches at Cornell. In her interview she shares critical thinking tips that apply to life, business and racing. Learn how and when to set aside assumptions, why more experience isn’t always better, why flexibility is important and some concrete ways you can bring these lessons into your life.  Mish demonstrates how critical thinking can move us with greater success through a race, business and life.  
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1. Mitigate failures by predicting ways you might fail and troubleshooting preemptively.
2. Place yourself around people who are different than yourself as a way checking your biases.
3. Problems always have multiple causes.

Direct download: 028-Risa_Mish-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Until Joe dragged him out to do burpees, Wes Chapman hadn't  formally exercised in fifteen years, but don't label him gritless. He is the founder of three successful podcasts and is a master at identifying and fomenting human potential where many have lost hope. When he calls people who want to change the world cocky, crazy, stupid yet confident, one has the sneaking suspicion he's engaging in self deprecation. He has started A Human Project which empowers troubled youth to rise above their situation through respecting them, and it is bound be world altering.
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1. Empower troubled kids by giving them responsibility and ownership over their situation.
2. To change the world you have to be cocky enough to think you can, crazy enough to know you can, stupid enough to actually try, and confident enough to share the responsibility.
3. Just be good and it doesn't matter what you believe in.

Direct download: 027-Wes_Chapman-SpartanUp-Audio__NEW.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Crawling toward the Iron Man Kona finish line, the end in sight, Chris Legh collapsed before he could reach it. Despite winning 96 triathlons, Chris Legh is best known for the one he DNFed. He clawed his way into contention only to fall violently ill. Legh staggered towards the finish line but fainted and crossed the finish line unofficially, prostrate on a stretcher. It took a lot of guts, as you'll find out, but he thinks you'd do the same thing in his position. Whether you would or not is largely a question on how much you take Legh's compelling lessons on grit to heart.
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1. It's only pain.
2. Don't do anything half heartedly; make a decision and focus on something with all your power.
3. To stay motivated, get an hour down the road even if you're tired, and chances are you'll go further anyway.

Direct download: 026-Chris_Legh-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Richard Branson defies conventional wisdom on success. With Virgin Airlines - he started a thriving airline literally in an afternoon. With Virgin Cola - he took one of the most successful companies of all time head on and almost won. With Necker Island - he acquired the island first believing that the money to develop it would show up eventually, it did. A notorious adventurer, Branson is clearly, within reason, not afraid to live.
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1. Get out of your comfort zone and go into the world and explore.
2. Push yourself beyond your limits.
3. Practice balance. Learn to trust your instincts.
4. Find fun ways to stay fit - involve your friends and family.
5. Look for the best in people. There is always something special to acknowledge in a person.
6. Forgiveness mends.
7. Expect things to be hard along the way but be sure to enjoy the sense of satisfaction from simply trying and being on the journey.

Direct download: 025-Richard_Branson-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Matt Segal, an accomplished rock climber, will be returning to the Bugaboos in British Columbia for the fourth time this summer. Their seeming insurmountability almost got him down, but their inspiration lifted Segal right back up again. Where else would he be except faced with all the things he loves--beauty, challenge, the thrill of a first ascent, and the satisfaction of overcoming failure? This is Segal's formula for creating a life filled with passion and grit.  
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1. To prevent burning out from your passion, vary the ways you practice it.
2. Letting yourself be inspired by the objective paves the way to success.
3. If you're succeeding all the time, you're not trying hard enough.

Direct download: 024-Matt_Segal-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Mark Owen was one of the SEALSs on the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden.  He revels in the gritty life. He prefers not the sugar cookies taken with tea, but the variety Navy SEALs dole out--soldiers moistened and rolled in beach sand and made to tolerate it the rest of the day. This is the kind of discomfort Owen loves, that forges men. Find out what molded him through his rugged childhood in the extremes of Alaska. He's mastered getting through tough times and his secret is surprisingly simple. Find it in this episode and get on the fast track to grit.

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1. The only easy day is yesterday.
2. Break difficult tasks to one bite at a time and prioritize. The greater the pressure, the smaller the bites.
3. Be all in all the time. Do what you're doing in the moment the best you can.
4. Put everything in perspective. If you've done it before, you can do it again.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Who jumps into ice cold water in third grade in Alaska and then starts his own fire to make sure he can handle himself? Mark Owen, that's who- one of the men who took out Bin Laden. Obviously there's lots of controversy around the book he authored, but even with those questions looming, it's always very interesting to learn about someone who accomplished such a massive task in front of the entire world.

Sefra Alexandra: I recently met Kevin Maurer co-author of "No Easy Day," while working at the Global SOF Foundation Symposium for Col. Nye. The attendees were the elite of the Special Operations community and viscerally familiar with the adage that, "the only easy day was yesterday." Matt hails from the great state of Alaska, where he was raised being comfortable with being uncomfortable. His tactics to accomplish any goal: "break it down into one bite at a time!"

Direct download: 023-Mark_Owen-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Taylor Phinney, an Olympic cyclist, recently sacrificed some "skin for glory." He fractured his leg after crashing his bike at speeds usually reserved for the highway. As with many champion athletes, he found a way to turn adversity to his advantage. The recovery process has pushed his pain threshold that much higher enabling him, in turn, to push the limits of his endurance. He has learned to trust the struggle as a way to impart valuable lessons on how it can make him that much stronger.
Watch the video episode at

1. Children should be allowed to find their own way as athletes.
2. Black Top Effect suggests that athletic talent is a mixture of nature and nurture.
3. You've got to play every day as if you were a pro.

Direct download: 022-Taylor_Phinney-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Monty Halls, a BBC host and adventurer, has the definitive test of grit: See what happens when people are denied their next seven meals. Hunger will transform us all into gritty, foraging survivalists. When voluntarily stranding himself on a remote island in Scotland, the rugged individualist in him leaned on the strength of the community. After all, it was their hard earned knowledge and culture that helped them survive the rugged environment and it would be foolhardy to ignore this.
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1. Wherever you go, it's best to learn from the locals.
2. We're seven meals away from a savage. I.e., all inherently capable of grit.
3. We all need to go slay dragons now and then.
4. "I can't do this" is sometimes a brave decision.
5. Unfulfilled potential is the biggest crime against self.

Direct download: 021-Monty_Halls-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Suzette Clarke is on a mission to reconnect thousands of kids a year back to the land. Slide Hill Ranch, the original organic farm in America, offers a holistic remedy for the childhood epidemic she identifies--lack of exercise, unhealthy eating and a disconnect with nature. This sort of alienation doesn't discriminate between the wealthy and impoverished. Both groups are isolated from the earth in distinct ways. But all kids who pass through the ranch are left no choice; the cardinal rule is “get dirty”.  
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Direct download: 020-Suzette_Clarke-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Mark Divine opened SEAL Fit, a Navy SEAL preparation center, in response to the stark proposition candidates faced: Ninety percent will fail if left to their own devices. Fortunately Divine has the key for bolstering their mental toughness and dramatically increasing their odds for success. He took the same journey himself after upheaving a stable but miserable career as a CPA. What he found along the way defies stereotypes. According to Divine, philosophies similar to those of gentle spirits such as the Dalai Lama and Eckhart Tolle are a more effective way to grit than those of the average drill sergeant.
Watch the video episode at  
1. The human spirit soars when it's challenged.
2. Life is made up of the small choices you make from moment to moment, rarely the big ones.
3. The essence of mental toughness is to notice when you unconsciously make the wrong choices.
4. The most important lesson for mental toughness is to know your "why."

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: He looks exactly like the Navy Seal in the movie Captain Phillips that helps take out the pirates. I  am not so sure it wasn't him. Great guy, great friend that was a Seal and wrote to talk about it, but not in a way that upsets the military. He writes to help all of us develop an unbeatable mind.

Col. Nye: SEAL Fit Sauna. Always know your why.  Must be disciplined.  Inspirational fitness guru and bona fide hero.  Holistic view of fitness, body, mind and spirit.  He is there to teach resilience and toughness.

Sefra Alexandra: “SealFit develops warriors of all walks of life in elite-level fitness, awareness, durability and longevity. We thrive on cultivating the “Kokoro” (warrior) spirit in our clients, helping them be unbeatable in life.”

We as a culture have much to learn from the Navy SEALS and Special Operations/ veterans community at large in terms of physicality, strategy and endurance. My twin brother runs a similar venture- Tactivate - to bridge the gap between the skill sets of special operations x entrepreneurship.

Loyalty – to our family and our team
Service – to others before self
Honor and integrity – in public as well as in private
Leadership and followership – we must be good at both to be effective at anything
Responsibility – we take it for both our actions and those of our teammates
Discipline – the only easy day was yesterday
Innovation – adapt, improvise and overcome

Johnny Waite: This one is all about how to teach grit. A former Navy Seal, who now operates SealFit; he knows what it takes to develop physical and mental toughness.

Direct download: 019-Mark_Divine-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

The fact that soldiers came out of retirement to follow General McChrystal back into a very challenging war in Iraq speaks to his effectiveness as a leader. He knows a thing or two about motivation and how to bring out the best in people. McChrystal has adapted this gift to start up a consulting firm. His facility to raise expectations and adapt in the most trying of circumstances has served his clients well in the equally competitive corporate world. McChrystal posits that adaptability is the new efficiency.
Watch the video episode at 
1. Performance usually rises and falls according to expectations.
2. What got you to the first success will not necessarily take you any further.
3. Adaptability is the new efficiency.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Talk about a no-nonsense guy that can teach us about success. You don't just get handed four stars when you become a general. You earn them and he did. He is all business and has been getting the job done throughout all the modern wars we have been alive for. He knows what makes great warriors and what makes successful missions and organizations.

Col. Nye: Grit, success, self discipline can be taught.  Surrounding yourself with exceptional people rubs off.  Organizations and people must constantly set new standards and goals. Great organizational stress. Raise the bar at every chance but the bar has to be achievable.  EQ is the ability to look long term. Adaptability is the new efficiency. 

Sefra Alexandra: “Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure- I came to believe that a leader isn’t good because they’re right; they’re good because they’re willing to learn and to trust.”
From General Stanley McChrystal’s 2011 TED Talk, “Listen, learn… then lead”
General McChrystal imparted the words of wisdom to Joe that, "the first thing you should do each morning is make your bed, so you have already accomplished something when your day starts." My bed has been made first thing every morning since. Thank you gentleman.

Johnny Waite: This guy is so impressive! Incredibly intelligent and compassionate. He gives some very clear advice that anyone can follow to achieve higher level of success and, just as importantly, how to help others succeed!

Direct download: 018-StanleyAllen_McChrystal-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Nate Carr grew up with a full team of elite wrestlers in his backyard. Out of five competing brothers, all were Division I NCAA All-Americans and two reached the Olympics. Nate managed to edge above the rest, earning Olympic bronze. What spurred him on? It could have been his indomitable attitude. His positive mindset is a motivational machine first leading to his success and then to that of the wrestlers he coaches. Listen in to hear the sort of self-talk that leads to greatness.
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1. Never personalize failure.
2. “No” means “next opportunity.” “Yes” means “you expecting success.”
3. Speak the end of the thing at the beginning, i.e., state the goal then set the strategy.

Direct download: 017-Nate_Carr-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Starting out homeless in 2008, Johnny Waite has certainly emerged from adversity and hit the ground running. He's gone on to finish the Death Race, and become a master at motivation, hypnosis, psychology, adversity and raising his two children. Johnny's official title is Quality Manager for Spartan Race. His obstacle laden path has taught him the value of a challenging life and its ability to unleash positivity into the world. His mission is to compassionately dole out that same hardship to others so that they too may build up obstacle immunity.
Watch the video episode at

1. An easy life is no life at all.
2. Always ask, “so what?” meaning in the face of this situation, what will you do now?
3. Most of us live in abundance and can therefore be producers instead of consumers.
4. Interrupt a person's usual pattern and you may spark a positive change in their life.

Direct download: 016-Johnny_Waite-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

ll Mimi Anderson really wanted was thinner legs. She ran the windiest road imaginable to get there, a journey that brought her across frigid tundra and blistering desert alike and placed her in the record books for posterity. Along the way, what she found hidden underneath her compulsion to thin down was a passion to challenge herself and grow. Anderson runs it in 100 mile+ chunks, but swears that 5k is plenty if that's what challenges you. She has one deceptively simple piece of advice: Just sign up and you'll find a way to make it happen. 

Watch the video episode at
1. Just sign up and it and you'll find a way to make it happen.
2. When the going gets tough, think of all the people who expect you to fail.
3. If you don't constantly push boundaries, you're not going to grow as a person.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Who would take a hair dryer on a long distance multi day run? Multi day! She ran across South Africa.  Most people complain when they need to drive that far. Find out what helps her get through that kind of adversity.

Col. Nye: Remarkable woman, staggering accomplishments, tough as nails.  Driven by challenge and adventure. Growth comes from challenge. Listen to your body.  Must be mentally prepared at all times. Uses visualization.

Sefra Alexandra: “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible”
Mimi has run across deserts in the Sahara, Libya, Chile, Kalahari and Namibia to name a few: feats a Land Rover would be whimpering about. Speaking of the Kalahari, the San Bushmen are masters of persistence hunting: a combination of running, walking and tracking to pursue prey to the point of exhaustion. A hunt for a kudu (antelope) can last 2-5hrs covering around 22 miles in 104-108 °F… try that as a change in your frame of reference. (GERONIMO)

Mimi is Co-Founder of Freedom Runners - a 2350km run across South Africa’s Freedom Trail to raise money to provide products to keep South African girls in school.

Direct download: 015-Mimi_Anderson-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Mike Sandrock, a formidable marathon runner and author of Running with the Legends, finds that excellence and talent are not necessarily interchangeable. It is those with the wherewithal to actualize their potential who reach the highest levels. Raw talent is not enough to drive an athlete to give everything they have every day which is what it takes to be the best. It takes a desire, usually spurred by adversity, to dig deep into the essence of who they are.
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1.  Find your passion and thank those around you who help you along the way.
2.  If you want to be great don’t cut the lines in practice and life.
3.  Inspiration is hard work.  No complaining.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Mike Sandrock was talking Spartan before many of us knew what it was to be a Spartan. He has studied all kinds of ultra-endurance athletes. Tune in and learn a little about sports and persistence beyond what you thought was normal.

Col. Nye: Author of Running with the Legends.  Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Smart guy - great quotes. Desire to actualize their potential  Follow your Bliss. Speaker of Words and Doer of Deeds.  Praise Be what Hardens Us. Build from Adversity.  Greatness requires 100% effort.  Cheating is quitting.

Sefra Alexandra: Mike believes “be the best you can be to discover who you are, we create ourselves by our choices.” The Tendai Monks or “Marathon Monks” embark on the quest of kaihōgyō: a1,000-day challenge that only 46 men have completed since 1885. It’s a seven year challenge where you run  40-84km per day for 100-200 days a year, increasing as the years go on and in year 5 going 7.5 days without food, water or rest… now they Run Tough.

Direct download: 014-Mike_Sandrock-SpartanUp-Audio--N.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Steven Pressfield, author of "Gates of Fire," War of Art," "Warrior Ethos" and many others tells us what we can learn from the original Spartans and how to overcome resistance in everyday life.

One of the first things Steven Pressfield learned in researching his book Warrior Ethos is that the Spartans were serious about their laconic ideals. To his knowledge, they wrote a grand total of twenty four words about themselves so Pressfield had to rely on hearsay and poetic license to flesh out that  portion of his tome. But, fortunately, the actions of the Spartans spoke volumes, imparting valuable lessons on honor, determination, discipline and overcoming adversity. Pressfield harnessed these lessons when faced with the challenges of a blank writing page and the ultimate obstacle, a resistant mind.

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1.  Honor yourself.
2.  Embrace Adversity.  The harder it is the more you get out of it.
3.  When you wake up, expect the negative force of resistance.  Be ready and conquer it.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Before you listen in here you should look Steven Pressfield up and find out who you are listening to. He is an incredible author and writes about things we care about-- how to push through, succeed in the face of adversity, deal with life's daily challenges…oh,  and he is the preeminent expert on Sparta!

Col. Nye: Historically, Spartans got a bad rap. They thought of brutish thugs but they have a lot to offer today’s world.  Current society could learn from Spartan mindset, focus, philosophy, expression of honor, soldierly honor, and grit.  Modern peoples are lost and need an identity. They need honest pursuit and need to face adversity.  The voice of resistance is always there.  Expect the negative force. It’s relentless; it must be defeated.

Sefra Alexandra: "All warrior cultures start with a great man. In ancient Sparta, that man was Lycurgus. He took the city from a normal society and made it into a warrior culture." Warrior Ethos: Ch. 12 “How the Spartans Became the Spartans”

Hmm... Joe Lycurgus DeSena... has a nice ring =]

Direct download: 013-Steven_Pressfield-SpartanUp-Audi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Obstacle immunity became a kind of obsession for Mark Webb after attempting, and failing, the Death Race for the third time. First he overhauled his mental toughness, and next his physical, then came redemption and the iconic finisher's skull. His growth as a human became all too obvious after he lost his leg below the knee in a freak motorcycle accident. Just days before the accident he completed a Spartan Sprint with his young son. In retrospect, these races seemed like a dress rehearsal by comparison, but by now Webb was well tooled to take on the next challenge with grace and an indomitable spirit.

Watch the video episode at
1. You can’t quit life. You only get one shot at it so you must keep going.
2. You can’t stop doing the things you love in life because there is risk.
3. Recognize that you will have days that you don’t want to do your workout so just do a small amount and more often than not you will achieve your goal.
4. Aim as high as you can for a goal and then chip away with small increments.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: How would you do if you lost a limb? Would you be upset? Would you get angry? Could you just roll with what life throws your way? Mark and I saw each other just a day before he had a tragic accident.  This guy is more twisted steel than a Harley Davidson. If he doesn't give you inspiration, I don't know what will.

Col. Nye: The student becomes the teacher.  You can’t quit life.  Positive mindset and the injury give him motivation to set and achieve new goals.

Sefra Alexandra:  What is obstacle immunity? Are you born with it or is it learned? Neuroplasticity refers to neural pathways (how information is transmitted through your body) and how they change due to behavior, thinking, or bodily injury.  Was it Mark’s history of overcoming adversity in training and races that has fortified him with such heroic resolve and resiliency in the face of a life-changing incident?

Direct download: 012-Mark_Webb-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Angela Duckworth, Associate Professor of Psychology at Penn, not only studies grit, she epitomizes it. She has doggedly researched the concept for a decade. Despite what may appear to be over the top determination, even obsessiveness, those with the quality are unusually down-to-earth. They're that rare breed who has their head in the clouds but their feet on the ground, which, surprisingly, means that Spartan Race co-founder Joe Desena may not be so crazy after all. 

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1. Sustaining passion and endurance over time (years) is essentially the definition of grit.
2. People who are gritty have a cognitive mindset to focus on things that they can change. They are positive and optimistic.
3. Always remember that no great human achievement exists that doesn't have thousands of hours of work behind it.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Do you know what grit is? Do you have it? Have you ever quit anything and regretted it? Well, Angela has been studying grit for a long time and knows how important it is as a predictor of success. If you don't have it, get some.
Col. Nye:  Grit is sustained passion over a length of time for a singular long term goal.  There is an environmental component. It’s not just genetics. It can be developed.  Gritty people have a cognitive mindset to focus on what they can change and screen out that which they cannot.

Sefra Alexandra:  In 1777, sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington rode through the night on horseback to alert American Colonial forces of the British’s approach completing a similar feat as Paul Revere’s, yet covering twice the distance Revere travelled by herself without getting captured. This, by any standard, personifies grit. Professor Duckworth will explain why.

Direct download: 011-Angela_Duckworth-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Four time NCAA wrestling champion Kyle Dake's parents raised him in a nurturing environment that would pave the way for his success. Yet this never meant that he could bypass the hard work. Every day, and he's in the gym just about every day, Dake pushes the wall back a little further, extending how far he can go without breaking. As a result, he has complete faith in his invincibility. He doesn't believe in losing. He wants to be the best, and, more importantly, he knows the way there.  

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1.  Actions speak!  If you want to be great, commit to it and do the things you need to do to be successful.
2.  Be positive!  You can always take something away something positive from an experience.
3.  You can only lose when you quit.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: What does wrestling have to do with success? Everything! Life is one giant wrestling match. You have to hand it to a guy that can go up four weight classes in four years, while everyone else is losing weight, and take the title year after year. This is a true champion with the most incredible attitude i have seen on a young man. Take notes.

Col. Nye:  Arguably the greatest college wrestler of all time.  Strive for excellence in everything you do.  You must make the commitment to be the best and be better than you were yesterday.  With the power of a positive mental attitude, find the silver lining in all your endeavors.  Entertain zero thoughts of losing  and remain focused on the goal. There is always someone training harder than you. Actively push the wall back a little further every day.
Sefra Alexandra: The rough translation of  abracadabra from Aramaic is: I create as I speak. The immensely positive words and mentality of Kyle Dake serves as a true litmus test of mental fortitude, obstacle immunity and success. His attitude rings true as a siren call for our generation to Spartan Up and truly dedicate ourselves to our dreams, fight to get stronger and achieve our goals. Knowing you are getting better every day is the reward.
Johnny Waite: His father did not push him, but held him accountable. Kyle got to choose what he committed to and was then not allowed to quit. You might have an awful day, but there is always something good that will come of it. Sometimes the most important stuff comes out of the toughest experiences. You don't need harsh circumstances to develop grit. It can come from inside with enough determination.

Direct download: 010-Kyle_Dake-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Allen Lim, founder of Skratch Labs and the only American scientist to have worked and cooked for teams at the Tour de France, has worked with dozens of top American cyclists to improve their performance and nutrition. He conceived his company in the intense atmosphere of  the Tour de France. If his methods could succeed in this gritty environment, he figured, they'd certainly thrive in day to day life. His company caters to the daily lifestyle needs of young athletes in particular, who may neither have the time or resources to keep this crucial ingredient of training in check. Excellence is ultimately a holistic endeavor, and as Lim proves, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

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1.  We are all humans and we are all athletes.
2.  Lessons learned in sports can be helpful in life.
3. Find a way to be happy first and that happiness will create success.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: He and I disagree on some things regarding food. We met in a coffee shop while he was ordering croissants and coffee, and, I don't know, that just doesn't seem like healthy food to me. That said, this is one of the smartest folks I know when it comes to food and nutrition, and, right or wrong, I think you will be impressed.
Col. Nye: Identify the “bottleneck,” in your life and unclog it.  Life is about the summation of experience.  All competitors have stress and mundane challenges: diet, sleep, happiness and relationships. The mission of Skratch Labs is to provide life skills which then allows the athlete (everyone) to perform at their peak. Food is about context. A wholesome cookie is better than some prepackaged “health food.”  Food can be about pleasure. It has a cultural component. Enjoy it.

Sefra Alexandra: The human body can range from 45-75% water depending on the stage in your life and your fat content. Hydration, therefore, is of the utmost importance. Allen Lim has been working to provide hydration and nutrition to athletes for years. If you get a chance look up the original power bar, pemmican, and locate your nearest freshwater spring  ( I can attest to the undeniable difference of hydrating with "raw water."

Johnny Waite: We are all athletes. There is an important social component to food. If you lose this and get too extreme with diet you will fail. We are pack animals and our best things are accomplished together. Ambition is a really easy thing to hide behind until you realize you aren't happy. Don't shy away from or ignore pain. Experience it and let it make you better.

Direct download: 009-Allen_Lim-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Gracie Van Der Byl finds her bliss by swimming in competitions that are the aquatic equivalent of the Tour de France. It is in the midst of these undertakings when she feels like she is her best, most authentic self. Her swims are an exercise in zen, focusing on the now and surrendering to not knowing. Even her philosophy on shark hazards reads like a koan: It's not the shark you see that's the problem; it's the shark you don't." That's little comfort to Joe Desena who is afraid of something after all. Who knew?

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1.  During life tackle things one stroke at a time.
2.  Don’t overly project into the future; live in the now.
3.  Boredom comes from not setting good enough goals.  Always find new ways to grow.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena:  I have always had a fear of sharks. I remember as a kid taking a shower standing on a chair. I'm kidding about the chair but not about the sharks. The fact that she can swim in the dark all through the night gives me chills. She clearly has something to teach all of us on how to put it together to get through the "difficult" times.

Col. Nye:  To be your most authentic self, focus on the here and now and don’t dwell on the future. Push the line: find it then find out how far you can stretch it.  Boredom is a result of not setting challenging goals.  Growth must be in all directions, not just unidirectional, otherwise you will snap like a piece of gum

Sefra Alexandra: Gracie seems to have fear immunity in her epic feats of open water swimming. She states, "Some people want to swim. I need to swim." My fear is that there will be so much plastic in the ocean in the future that these types of endeavors may be hindered.  Learn more at and do your part to decrease your reliance on plastic.

Johnny Waite: Don't project into the future. Focus on right now. As soon as you've completed a challenge find a new one. Don't grow only in one direction -- stretch horizontally as well as vertically. Don't just keep doing something if you aren't passionate about it. Find what you are stoked about. There's nothing worse than getting to an event and knowing you could have done more to prepare.

Direct download: 008-Gracie_Van_Derbyly-SpartanUp-Aud.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

It started as a bet, but soon turned into a mission. Tony the Fridge carries a 93 lb. "burden" on his back on journeys that make marathons look like fun runs. Why? He does it for those who carry what he sees as greater loads, notably the cancer sufferers for whom he raises funds. How? He never runs solely relying on his own strength. He is empowered by the community supporting him. His dedication to them leaves him no choice. When he's running, Tony rarely thinks beyond the next step.
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1.  We are all going to die that’s why we have to live.
2. Focus on who you are not what you are.
3.  Live everyday as it’s your last one.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Tony the Fridge was the first interview I did that got me to cry. His story, energy, and reason for doing what he does is pretty incredible.

Col. Nye:  Leadership through demonstration. Grit personified. The measure of a man is not what you’ve earned but what you've achieved for the greater good.  Tony provides strength and hope for the physically challenged.  He’s an epic storyteller, whose deeds demand our respect.
Sefra Alexandra: Some burdens are forced upon us; some burdens are chosen. The amazing spirit of Tony the Fridge inspires us all to pick up some extra weight around the world on some heavy matters.

Johnny Waite: Never think about the finish line -- it will kill you. Don't worry about how many steps ahead or behind. Can I take this step? Yes! You can do anything -- you just need a big enough reason. When you are committing to something, don't talk with anyone who will try to discourage you.

Direct download: 007-Tony_The_Fridge-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

How does Jeff Clarke, the new CEO of Kodak Film, propose to take a company that the digital age has rendered bankrupt back into prominence? He has a few tricks up his sleeve. If you ask him, analogue film, much like vinyl records in the music industry, is an art form that is bound to make a comeback. Furthermore, film has spurred many cutting edge technologies with exciting possibilities for everything from healthcare to smell free clothing. Clarke tells us why he welcomes the challenge.

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1. Spartan values and philosophies are valuable in work and life.
2. Maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle helps the mind process clearly at work.
3. As a leader it is important to take time to mentor employees and monitor their wellness by supporting the importance of living a balanced life.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: What kind of a guy, one who is already wealthy and a great family man, takes on the task of rebuilding one of the world’s if not the world’s greatest iconic brand, Kodak? He is basically done in life:  He has all he needs living in California with a wonderful family and decides this is going to be awesome, “I am going to help revive and save one of the world's greatest brands.”
Col. Nye: Adaptation is crucial; individuals and corporations cannot remain stagnant. Environments change; goals change; technology changes. Competitors recognize and leverage change to their advantage.

Sefra Alexandra: A true leader and proprietor of obstacle immunity is a successful CEO that consistently throws himself into difficult situations with faith in his role as a mentor/ leader and belief in the Phoenix model of resurrecting businesses such as the iconic Kodak.

Johnny Waite: You always need to push limits and look for new opportunities. Kodak was enormously successful but rejected opportunity to grow by clinging to old way of being. You cannot be afraid to grow and evolve. Staying physically active keeps you mentally sharp. Always find a way to workout, especially when you are just out of your normal routine/element.

Direct download: 006-Jeff_Clarke-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

Zach Even Esh, body builder, strength coach and author, built success out of the raw material of failure. His self belief carried him through the rough patches of a startup wrestling camp that he ran out of his garage. It took him a year to even make a dime. But he would tap into the energy of the small successes to build momentum, in his eyes a crucial component of making it, and that propelled him past the disappointments. In the process, his mental grit became the equal of his physical grit.

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1.  On the road to success, pay attention to the unsuccessful stuff.  These experiences will help you.
2.  Don’t let circumstances boss you around.
3.  Wake up early!
4.  When the going gets tough, get creative.
5.  Build on momentum.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Zach is the man. It’s rare to find someone that cares so much about helping people. He's an educator, a trainer, a businessman and a family man.  Zach’s a really awesome guy who opens up his life to anyone looking to be better.

Col. Nye:  Emotional pain can be a great motivator. That bad taste in your mouth is failure. Spit it out. Circumstance, you’re not the boss of me. Rise above the average and build upon success. Small victories build and lead to success.

Sefra Alexandra: Mike Horn, one of the greatest adventurers and explorers of our time,  posits, “If you are afraid of losing, you can never win.”  Zach epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit of grit in never surrendering to the myriad of obstacles inherent in starting a business.

Johnny Waite: Success is great but failure is more important. Many of the lessons that lead to success are learned in the unsuccessful times. If you don’t want to be average, stop doing what average people do, like hitting snooze in the morning! Most people give up as soon as "life happens" allowing jobs and kids and injuries to be the lame excuses to stop growing and striving and thriving. Momentum is everything. Get started and keep moving.

Direct download: 005-Zach_Even-Esh-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:15am EDT

Joe banters with the guys from Barbell Shrugged at the Pittsfield Original General Store. Barbell Shrugged, a podcast for all things Crossfit, was Joe's inspiration for the one you're about to watch. The guys chat about everything from the future of Spartan Race to what life would be like if Joe were king. (Hint: not too easy.) Is Joe heading to a counterculture rave in the desert? Joe is hosting a cruise this spring. What gives? Is he finally going soft? Find out the fascinating answers in this podcast!
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1. You grow by pushing your limits until you level out into complacency, and then pushing on to the next limit.
2. If you want to change the world, first you must make your bed (i.e., take the first small step).
3. If everyone thinks you're strange, take heart. It may just mean you're years ahead of your time.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: These boys from down south are good ol’ boys, but don't let the accent fool you. They are fluxing smart. They know their shix when it comes to business, health and wellness, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Col. Nye: Build on small successes.Small successes can lead to a larger goal.  Sometimes the goal is unknown or undefined but movement and effort will help bring it into focus. Don't be afraid of the future.

Sefra Alexandra: These guys are awesome and so inspiring that when they came through Joe’s Gulch of Pittsfield, Vermont, Spartan Up! The Podcast was born.

Direct download: 004-Barbell-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

Ben Greenfield, triathlete, Spartan Racer, fitness guru, father and author of Beyond Training is equally driven by his passions as well as his family. The whole idea, he says, is to remember the important things in life. To achieve that balance, instead of forgoing one thing or another, he combines both. His family stays together while they play together. It started when he began running triathlons together with his wife eight years ago, and continues to this day even if it means doing hill sprints with a toddler on his back.

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1. It’s okay to push the limits in life.  But be when your activities take you away from your family, friends, relationships, love, etc., you have gone too far.
2. The best way to stay active and motivated is to sign up for something – 5K, Spartan Race, etc.
3. Expose your kids at a young age to fitness and an active lifestyle.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Ben Greenfield is the ultimate body hack. He is always experimenting and trying to find ways to do it faster while requiring less work, and at the same time he’s an incredibly smart and thoughtful guy. As I was interviewing him I kept thinking,  “I need to meet his parents. I need to find out how they forged him.”

Col. Nye:  He’s a renaissance athlete, tennis player and a body builder turned triathlete with an admirable philosophy of balancing fitness with family.  Don’t be an “Invisible Athlete.” Teach, mold, lead the next generation through your actions and lifestyle.
Sefra Alexandra: When you build a community around your training you have the opportunity to maximize the work-play-life ethos. Ben brilliantly involves his wife and children creating a baseline of physicality and togetherness in his family’s ecology. Interested in increasing your situational awareness, your wilderness skills know-how and having the most fun possible with your family/ community or on solo adventures? See if one of these schools are near you:

Johnny Waite: When is it too much? When it becomes more important to you than the things that actually are important. Train with your kids, not invisibly. Let them learn the lifestyle by is osmosis. Stand as much as possible and sit as little! Sign up for something -- you always need something just ahead on your calendar.

Direct download: 003-Ben_Greenfield-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:45am EDT

Like a Rocky of Brazilian Jujitsu, Ricardo Migliarse harnessed the brutality of the mean streets of South Philly to his advantage. He learned to stand up to the daily harassment of bullies and transformed that raw toughness into something that could help others. He followed his brother into jujitsu and quickly rose to be a top competitor. In the process, he discovered that the truly tough people in life aren't the ones with the chips on their shoulders. Ricardo describes what it takes to be a champion.
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1. Establishing a work ethic early in life is important.
2. Surround yourself with positive people and become a part of a supportive community.
3. There are no excuses for not making time for fitness and good health.
4. Life is all about the basics.
5. Life is about constantly growing and learning regardless of your accomplishments.
6. Mission: To reach out to children and young adults and get them off the streets and into the gym as a way to teach them a lifestyle of discipline, hard work and education.

Panel Notes:
Joe Desena:  This guy will twist you into a pretzel in about 5 seconds. I showed up at his house and he is doing pull-ups from a tree out front. He does an insane number of pull-ups each day. I love that his road to becoming humble started by punching someone in the face.

Col. Nye:  He learned the importance of delayed gratification early in life,  a crystallizing moment that shaped his future and his philosophy.  “I will no longer be bullied or be a target.” Ricardo evolved from victim to fighter to teacher and took the positives from his surroundings.

Sefra Alexandra: When you see your surrounding landscape through a Mowgli lens, the trees become jungle gyms and the urban landscape your training grounds. Regardless of where you live there are inspirations, motivations and tools to help you grow stronger and more resilient.

Johnny Waite: Don't be defined by anyone but yourself! Be around motivated people. This will cause you to dive right in or drop right out. Do things for others and not just yourself. It will always lead to more. Stay busy and you will stay sharp. Everything in life is a fight. Put in the training and you will be ready.

Watch the video episode at

Direct download: 002-Ricardo_Migliarese-SpartanUp-Aud.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30am EDT

Nicole Deboom is the epitome of "following your passion." Her triathlon passion transformed her life. It was how she met her husband who was the inspiration for her endeavors. It also led her to the epiphany that gave birth to a pioneering running skirt business and inspired her when she needed a winning approach to success. Even with limited experience, she found a nontraditional approach that thrived. Despite naysayers, her first victory in a triathlon launched an athletic apparel revolution.  

1.  Entrepreneurs must have 100% belief in their ideas or they won’t make it.
2.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
3.  To be successful, break down long runs into short achievable gains.
Panel Notes:
Joe Desena: Nicole is awesome. I love the fact that she met me so early in the morning, is a mom, an entrepreneur and an endurance athlete who wins Ironmans. It’s very rare to see the complete package when studying success, but she has it.

Col. Nye: Party girl turned professional, entrepreneur.  The point is, inspiration can be found anywhere at anytime.  All things are possible with passion, belief in yourself, focus, vision, and a strong support system.

Sefra Alexandra: When you approach life with a “problem is the solution” or “every obstacle may be overcome” mentality, then creative ways that increase productivity and efficiency bubble to the surface. Nicole brilliantly identified the niche of sport skirts.  What area of life can you help design and streamline?

Johnny Waite: She knew she had "it" in her, just not for triathlon. It's important to find what your "it" is! Pick one thing to focus on until you get it dialed in. Don't spread yourself thin.
Success takes longer and costs more than you expect. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and take an "aid station to aid station" approach rather than worrying about the finish line.

Searchable Terms: Nicole Deboom, entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs, triathlon, skirt sports, running, running skirts, business plans, running epiphanies

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Direct download: 001-NicoleDeboom-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am EDT

The epitome of Grit, Joe Desena, founder & CEO of Spartan Race and NY Times best-selling author, travels the globe seeking and answers from experts like Sir Richard Branson, Steve Pressfield, Barbell Shrugged, and many more. Joe’s weekly interviews with authors, academics, athletes, adventurers, CEOs and thought leaders will shift your thinking, make you laugh and give you the tools you need. He’s on a mission to find the secrets to success in all aspects of life. Not only does Joe interview epic people, he has brought together an amazing panel to break down and analyze every aspect of these interviews. We give you the ultimate blueprint and action steps to assimilating these powerful conversations into your own life.

Don't forget you can watch video versions of ALL our episodes at

Direct download: 000-JoeDesena-SpartanUp-Audio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EDT