Andrew: This interview is sponsored by Grasshopper, the virtual phone system that entrepreneurs love because you can use your own phones and manage it on the web. Check out Grasshopper.com. It’s also sponsored by Wufu, where you can go right now to get embeddable forms and surveys that you can add to your website for free. Go to Wufu.com. And it’s sponsored by Shopify. When you go to Shopify.com you can create a store within minutes and have all the support and features you need to make that store grow. Check out Shopify.com. Here’s the program.
Hey everyone, it’s Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. At one point in his life today’s guest, Joe Cirulli, had just 12 cents to his name. Soon after, everything changed because he read one of my favorite books, and lots of entrepreneurs favorite books, Napolean Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich.’ Then he made a list of ten goals that he was determined to achieve including, here are three of those goals: to own a health club, to become a black belt, to save a million dollars. I invited him to Mixergy to talk about how he achieved all ten of his goals, and how you and I can follow in his path.
Joe, what was it like when you had just 12 cents? I can see you’re a guy who’s doing things, who’s meant to do things in the world. What was it like when you didn’t have much?
Interviewee: Well I think that day when I reached into my pocket to pull out 16 cents to pay for the Diet Coke I was going to pay for, and I only had 12, the first thing was embarrassing. I guess that would be the proper word to describe it. But actually, when I walked out the door, I wasn’t embarrassed anymore. I was actually angry at myself for allowing myself to get into a position where I absolutely had nothing.
And at that moment, I literally started to think of all the people in my life who I had worked for, who had done things that helped put me in that position, and I vowed [inaudible]. So that was the beginning. I think probably the most important thing was how I looked at it. Not as something that devastated me, but as something that propelled me.
Andrew: Why do you think that you took it that way? What was it about your make up that made you say, ‘I’m determined to do more.’ Instead of saying, ‘Life stinks.’
Interviewee: I don’t know what it is with some people that theyÖWell let’s backtrack a little bit. I read a book once called ‘The Adversity Quotients’ and it talked about people and put them into three different categories in reference to climbing a mountain. And he said the first group of people get there and look up and say, ‘No way.’ He said those are the people that are the quitters. And the reason why they quit is because they can’t handle much adversity. And the reason they can’t handle much adversity is because they don’t have much hope.
Then you have the second group of people and they may climb a certain distance up the mountain and then say, ‘Oh, that’s good enough.’ Those are the people referred to as the campers. They have a moderate amount of hope. They can handle a moderate amount of adversity. But the difference between the quitters, the campers and the climbers, the ones who make it to the top of the mountain, is that the worse things get, the better they become. They have infinite amounts of hope and they can make things better. And because of that they can handle a lot of adversity.
So even though I never heard that terminology that way until I read the book, I think that there’s just some people, and I’ve met people over my lifetime, who when things are at their worst, they’re at their best. And I think, hopefully, I had that quality.
Andrew: I used to, as a kid, have infinite hope. I would drive into Manhattan at night when everyone was back at home, and they weren’t even out at the clubs and the bars. They were just at home, and I’d have the city to myself and I’d look up at those buildings and say, Life is kind of rough right now, but one day I want to be like the people who built these businesses. Because I’d read their biographies, and they had it worse than I did.
And so I was kind of training myself to have hope, or I at least exhibited the infinite hope that I was born with, depending on your outlook. I was wondering for you, before this moment, how did it express itself in the past?
Interviewee: You know, one time a guy was writing a book. And he said, ‘Joe, was there any time, a story that you can write to us about adversity that you handled and how you handled it?’ And it was funny, I thought about it and I went back to when I was about 15 years old and I was on the high school wrestling team. And I wasn’t feeling well, and my high school was so small, I had to wrestle 20 pounds heavier than what I weighed. Because they needed somebody in that weight class. And when I wrestled this guy, I was a freshman, and he was a senior. I mean, he actually had a beard, I remember that. And I wasn’t even close to shaving. But we started wrestling and he got me on my back, and I fought him for about a minute. And the second period, at about a minute – thirty, he got me on my back and–
minute 5 to minute 10
Interviewee: ÖWe started wrestling and he got me on my back, and I fought him for about a minute. In the second period, at about a minute and 30, he got me on my back, and I fought him for a minute and a half. I was dead. In the third period, he fought me on my back in about five seconds.
I kept fighting it and fighting it and fighting it and I thought, ‘Almost it has to be over.’ I looked at the clock and there was a minute and 30 left, and I decided to lay my shoulder down. I laid my shoulder down and I saw his arm come up. As soon as I saw his arm come up, I said, ‘No!’ I raised my other shoulder like an inch, a half-inch off the ground. I think I quit like two or three other times where I laid it down until I saw his arm go up. Then I moved the other shoulder up a quarter of an inch, and I remember I made it all the way through it. When I came on, this guy beat the heck out of me.
I remember I came off the mat and my coach and everybody, they’re all congratulating me. I was like, ‘What’s the deal with that? I just got the heck kicked out of me,’ and they’re all congratulating me. I think it was just one of those things that I looked back, and as I looked back over my life, I said, ‘You know something, I think if I let my shoulder down that time, I would have probably had been blood dropping my shoulder every time from there on out.’ So that was one, but there are other things that occurred that made me realize that I could outwork a lot of people and I could outsurvive a lot of people.
Andrew: Can you give me one of those examples that you’re referring to?
Interviewee: One of the quotes that was in one of Napoleon Hill’s book, ‘The Law of Success.’ If you have enough people get what they want out of life, you’ll get everything you want out of life.’ When I was in high school, I was too young to play football on my first year. My second year, I played junior varsity; my third year, varsity. There was a kid on our team who would play varsity since he was a sophomore, so everybody knew he was going to be the captain of the team. So I looked at it, maybe he’ll get this whole team in better shape. So I took the entire football team and started to weight train the entire football team, because weight training wasn’t that big of a deal. I [xx] so much when I was a kid, so I started training the entire football team.
I remember it was the end of our junior year and there was a meeting of all of the football players and the coach. So we’re in the auditorium and he’s talking about the upcoming season. Then, at the end, he goes, ‘Now, I want to introduce next year’s captain, Joe Cirulli,’ and it was like caught me totally off guard. I think that, once again, when I look back, I realize that he did it because he saw me helping the guys and leading the guys. But for nothing, I wasn’t trying to get anything in return for it. I mean, there’s incidences where you can look back over your life and see things that occurred that maybe, as you got older, were there.
I could tell you another story that wasn’t that long ago, of how, when you’re in a real challenging time, how you deal with it. One of the things on my list was to become a pilot, and I’ve been a pilot for a number of years. About five years ago, I was flying out of Tampa, Florida and it was 12:30 in the morning. I departed, and about ten miles out of Tampa, I heard a big kaboom out of my engine. I lost everything on my airplane except for my engine, I was still flying. I had no radios, I had no lights, I had no nothing. So I grabbed the flashlight, stuck it in my mouth so I can look at the compass to see what direction I was going. I realized I couldn’t go back into Tampa because all these helicopters and planes were coming in from the East Coast because a hurricane was heading our way.
So I knew I couldn’t turn around and go back into Tampa Airport with no lights, no communication, nothing. So I decided to try to find Gainesville which is about 45 miles away. I tried to find the Interstate so I could fly, see lights and fly up the Interstate. Knowing if I flew for 45 minutes, I should see a rotating beacon and it should be Gainesville. After flying for a while, I realized I maybe in the military area. I may have missed I75, so I started turning to the Northwest. For over two hours, I zigzagged across the state trying to find lights, figuring if there were lights, there was a city; if there’s a city, there was an airport. But even if I could find lights and even if I could see a rotating beacon, all the airports were off. So, there were no lights, so I couldn’t see any runways.
Well, after about two hours and 15 minutes, I saw something. It was a road, I couldn’t tell what it was. I circled it and decided I only had about less than an hour’s worth of fuel left. So I left and I started looking to see if I could see more lights, when all I saw was pitch black. I realized that maybe I’m off the Gulf of Mexico. So I made a 180 degree turn, decided I was going to land on that, whatever it was. I did all the preparation for it, I landed the airplane. As soon as I was ready to make the approach, the lights turn on on this runway.
Interviewee:(continued)..airplane, as soon as I was going to get ready to make the approach the lights turned on, now there’s a runway. Air traffic control in Jacksonville picked me up knowing they lost me on radar quite a while ago. And, Anyway they turned on the lights from, I don’t know, 150 miles away. So, you know it was a pretty interesting night and fortunately I was by myself and a friend came over, it was, where I landed was about an hour away from Gainsville and a friend picked me up and you know, went back home. The next day I got up and I came to work, and I wasn’t saying much and you know people are saying you know ” what’s going on?” ah not much, I just didn’t feel like talking about it and nobody even knew what I wasn’t even talking about. But, there was a book siting on my desk and I reached over and grabbed it and there was a quote and obviously you know Earl Nightengale and the quote was “circumstance doesn’t make the man it reveals him to himself” and I thought, that’s a perfect quote. You know because you realize you can’t practice for everything, you can’t build up your ability to handle adversity for everything. I couldn’t practice getting killed, you know, a whole bunch of times and build up my resistance to it. So that was something that was a pretty powerful experience because when I read the quote I actually felt good about myself because I knew once again I wasn’t as I’ve told people, when I told that story you know when you’re thinking of how to move, you can’t move away from what you’re afraid of you have to move toward what you want to accomplish. And I said so, I couldn’t have been up there not wanting to crash, I had to be up there working to find a place to land. And so anyway I just always thought that’s real important as far as the way we think and f you read Thinking Grow Rich and if you read Wells of Success, if you read the power of positive thinking, if you’ve read enough of that stuff you can infiltrate your brain permanently with it.
Andrew: How many books are you reading now like that, how many books on personal development are you reading?
Interviewee: You know a lot of times I listen to the tapes now, while I’m driving but I read all kinds of books now. I’ve been reading business books, a lot of business books in all. And actually I understand you interviewed Simon Cynic, Is that right?
Interviewee: You know I watched his video and I went out and I got his book and actually it made me think of my own business, the fact that I know why we do everything we do but there may be some people on the staff who don’t. So, we’re gonig through a whole process that’s all of our discussions are the why, the how and the what . So I just finished his book and you know a lot of times you read a book with a yellow marker, but I didn’t have a yellow marker so about every other page is flipped down, because I want to go back to get something off of that particular page. So, I think what happened from when I was, when I first picked up the power of positive thinking by the author Vincent Peel when I was 20 years old, for the next four and a half years all I read were books on how you were supposed to think, every single one. So, you know, finally when I finished the book Laws of Success which is a huge book I remember I closed that book, I said ‘Joe, you kow what to do, just go out and do it now. And so, I don’t have to go back and read them all the time, a lot of times a lot of things are movies that inspire me, I find that really helpful. Shows that I could watch where there’s a deeper meaning, so even everybody doesn’t have to be real. So whether it’s Braveheart or the Gladiator, those kind of movies that, you know I’ll tell you Braveheart, the thirteenth time I watched Braveheart it was when it was on TV with a DVD sitting on top of the TV because I didn’t want to miss anything. The Gladiator I watched for the seventh time, no the sixth time going into Rome after that time I went to the Colosseum and then the seventh time leaving Rome. So, I find those things are real helpful to me.
Andrew: Sorry, we lost the connection for a moment there when you were saying that you watch it with something about the DVD can you repeat that part?
Interviewee: I was saying when I, the thirteenth time I watched Braveheart the DVD was sitting on top of the TV while it was playing on TV. I didn’t pop it in, it was on TV. you know, it’s interesting I have to present in Sydney Australia, I have to leave here April 25th. One of my presentations is on leadership and I was thinking what great inspirational movies on leadership can I think of? And I thought of the one with Mel Gibson in it, We Were Soldiers. I don’t know if you ever saw that one but it was the first battalion to go in to Vietnam. I was thinking I know he made a great speech and that night I said I got to find it.
Interviewee: That night I went home, I turned on the TV, the first channel, what do you think’s on? We Were Soldiers. Right before he gave the speech. So I got to watch it again. Now I have it on my computer. But anyway, I still look for things like that that inspire me.
Andrew: All right. I want to dig in deeper to this but we also need to let people know what the business is, what you’ve built. Company name is Gainesville Health and Fitness. What is Gainesville Health and Fitness?
Interviewee: Well it’s been an ever evolving business. It started out as a 1500 square foot fitness center that was the…actually, I worked for six health clubs that went bankrupt before I started my own when I was 24 and a half. And the first one I took over was a 1500 square foot little health club in Burbank. And through the years we kept evolving it and evolving it and evolving it. So today it’s actually three centers. The main center is a 66,000 square foot multi-purpose facility. Then I have a fitness only facility that’s about 25,000 square feet. And a woman’s only center that’s about 14,000 square feet. We also have three rehab centers. So that’s what really makes up the business. We have about 470 employees in the organization but if you say what is it, what do we do, a long time ago we really worked to define who we were as a company and define what our core purpose was as a company. So this is where all the Simon Sinek information comes into play because we defined the core purpose of the company is to create an experience that helps people get the most out of life and inspire them to become their best. The way that we do it is we get people healthy. But the way that we get them healthy is creating an environment and creating a staff that makes it that the people want to be part of our organization, which really is ñ once again, I’ll go back to Simon Sinek ñwhen he talks about if people will come to work for what you do, they’ll work for your money but when it comes to why you do what you do, they’ll work with you with their blood and their tears. And we have got such a powerful staff inside my company. I put my staff against any company in the world. We don’t compare anymore against health clubs. We don’t try to the best health club. We work to become the absolute best business. And I think the thing that makes us so different is getting people healthy through fitness is the tool that we use; the mechanism to get them in is to create this gr
eat experience for them. And because we know what we’re trying to accomplish out there and we know who we are as a company we know what our core values are, we know how to find people that have the same core values that we have. So when we bring people in the organization they will learn everything about our company. But you’ll see within a week of being here you would think they’d been here for years because they fit right into who we are.
Andrew: I want to find out how you did that but one more thing about what the business does. Can you say what your sales were last year?
Interviewee: Yeah, our sales average between 7,000 to 8,000 new members a year. We have a little under 28,000 members in our centers. And I think last year our member traffic was 1.4 million; we had about 1.4 million visits into our facilities.
Andrew: Can you say what the revenues were last year?
Interviewee: Yeah, the revenues were…the revenues were down a little bit. They were about 15.5 last year but the good thing is we prepared for it in advance and were able to cut our expenses down a million dollars without anybody knowing that we did it. You would have never looked around the business and say, ‘Oh, they tried to skimp here or skimp there.’ The goal was that we would work to cut out anything we can cut out, change anything we can change but it could not impact the future of our company and it can’t impact our members. So it worked out perfectly. So our profitability was about identical to the year before.
Andrew: What was the profit?
Interviewee: Our profitability will range anywhere from 25 to 32%.
Andrew: The reason that I had a sense of where your revenues were is because I read an Inc. article on you that was an incredible article. I think you were on the cover of Inc.?
Andrew: Inc. magazine? And they said that your sales in 2008 were 16.7 million and so I wanted to find out where you were today. And I was surprised that you revealed so much. This is a live show. It’s going to put out on Mixergy dot com, other entrepreneurs are going to get to see it. It’ll be googleable. Why are you so willing to be open about your sales?
Interviewee: Well, if you look at the vision for our company, the vision for our company is to become one of the best businesses for the world. We share everything we do. I’ve been at seminars before where the whole front row are my competitors. I’ll share with them everything. This is how we do this, this is how we do that. When we worked, as you read in the Inc., article, to make Gainesville the healthiest community in America we’ve worked with cities all over America. We actually got a call from Tokyo, from the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and my marketing director, Debbie Lee, and myself flew to Tokyo and we sat down with the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and we talked to them about how they could make Tokyo a healthier community.
Interviewee: I mean, I’ve been at seminars before where the whole front row is my competitors. And I’ll share with them everything. This is how we do this, this is how we do that. When we worked, as you read in the Inc. article, to make Gainesville the healthiest community in America we’ve worked with cities all over America. We actually got a call from Tokyo, from the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, and my marketing director, Debbie Lee, and myself we flew to Tokyo and we sat down with the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce to talk to them about how they could make Tokyo a healthier community. So we share everything.
Andrew: Why? What’s the thinking on that? You’re not just sharing everything because you have diarrhea of the mouth, because you’re someone who needs to talk. You’re a person who’s thought through his business, thought through his vision for life so this somehow fits in. How does it fit in?
Interviewee: I think when it comes to business, when I began in the business there was nobody I could go to for help, ever. As you read, I lived in closed down buildings, I lived in my car, I lived in open buildings. There was nobody I could ever go to that I could say, ‘Can you help me with this? Can you help me understand this?’ Nobody. I had to learn it all by reading the books by, I think, every tape that Nightingale Conant produced, I owned. That’s how I got ideas, that’s how I thought through things. I just realized later that if I have this knowledge through the experiences that I had and I can share it with other people and they can become better, I don’t have any problem with that. Who knows what it is. I just don’t have any problem with sharing all this stuff.
Andrew: I grew up listening to those Nightingale Conant CD’s and I don’t remember exactly who it was, it was Paul Cevere who I worked for I guess it was college and it was just so powerful to go in every day listening to that instead of reading the New York Daily News with all their crime rate statistics and how the city’s going down and all the local newspapers and all their sad stories. It wasn’t even sad stories. It was just drummed up stories about how the world is going to end and how New York specifically was going to end. And while everyone was reading that I would listen to Napoleon Hill talk about goal setting or I would listen to Earl Nightingale talk about how he set a goal for himself and was able to achieve it and grew his sales and changed his life and so on. It was a big difference.
Interviewee: I’m with you a hundred per cent. I was always doing the same thing. I wouldn’t let negative stuff go into my head. If a negative thought for a split second went into my head I’d knock it out of my head just as fast as it got there.
Andrew: It’s hard to do that. How do you do that? You got a negative thought in your head it’s easy to obsess on it. How do you stop it?
Interviewee: I don’t know if I can explain it to you because I just don’t. For example, if there’s something that bothered me, if I even made the comment, ‘That makes me sick. No. Nothing makes me sick. Nothing makes me sick.’ I just don’t let those thoughts go into my head. I think they create fear inside of you and if you listened to all the tapes and if you heard Dennis Wately talking, the psychologist, when he talked about the fact that we speak to ourselves at the rate of about 400 words a minute and the most powerful influence in our life are the things that we say to ourself then I think you better make a decision what kind of things you want to say to yourself. And it’s our choice so I elect to say the positive things, what I can accomplish. As I said, move towards what I want.
Andrew: How do you do that? I see what you’re saying, well actually there are two things here. First, a negative thought comes in, how do you stop it and get yourself back on the right track? The second is how do you keep the positive stuff going and going? Let’s use an example. Let’s use me. Let’s suppose I do interviews…in fact I do. I do interviews every day with entrepreneurs. A thought could get into my head that says, ‘What am I doing? I’m just interviewing these entrepreneurs. I’m not building businesses like they are. I’m just talking to them. This isn’t the life, this is just a conversation. This is what people do at cocktail parties after work not during work.’ And I know that this doesn’t really make sense. If I try to stop it I’m really obsessing on it. How do you do it?
Interviewee: Well obviously you do stop it because if you didn’t stop it you wouldn’t be interviewing me right now because you would stopped a long time ago.
Andrew: Or maybe I would have continued and it would have influenced my interview and made it a little bit worse. I picked one that I think I’m in control of which is why…The ones that I’m not so in control of I couldn’t think of here to bring up. And maybe I wouldn’t feel comfortable to bring up. And I’m hoping if I can bring up one that we can [XX] people how to stop whatever their negative thoughts are, whatever their distracting thoughts are.
Interviewee: I guess the bigger question is what kind of life do you want to lead. If you let yourself be filled with those thoughts you’re going to get the life that you want to lead. So if it’s one that you don’t see yourself contributing and you don’t see yourself in position to help other people and you don’t see yourself to be able to live with…to help the lives of the people that you love, then I guess then you let those other thoughts get into your head.
minute 25 to minute 30
Interviewee: Öyou don’t see yourself to be able to help the lives of the people that you love. I guess, then you let those up and thoughts get into your head.
Andrew: Can you give me an example of one of yours and how you might stop and change?
Interviewee: Once again, it happened so quickly. I have to go back to when I was flying the airplane. To give you an example, when I was flying that night, sometimes I was going through extreme conditions. I was going through the clouds, I really couldn’t see my instruments. I knew I just had this thought went through my head when I was going through a bunch of clouds.
Andrew: I’m sorry, Joe. Let’s just give the video a chance to catch up. We lost the video for a moment, but the audio and video are back. So you’re saying, ‘this thought went through my mind as I went through the clouds.’ What was it?
Interviewee: As I was going through the clouds, I knew I had to focus in keeping that airplane straight level. The thought that went through my mind was the fact that John Kennedy, this is how he got killed. This is where he made the mistake, this is where he got disoriented. Keep the airplane straight level, you’ll come out the other side, and that’s how I talked to myself.
Andrew: Ah, so you said, ‘Look, if I continue to allow myself to think that way, then this is the danger that’s going to happen.’
Andrew: I see. So instead of being a comforting thought that allows you to receive from the world, it became one that snapped you back into your responsibilities.
Interviewee: Absolutely. Once again, go back to Denis Waitley, something he said that always stay to my head. He goes, ‘You can’t move away from what you’re thinking. You’re always moving in the direction of your dominant thoughts.’ I look at it, and said, ‘That’s true.’ So make sure that the thoughts you’re thinking are the direction that you want to go.
Andrew: So that brings up the second thing that I wanted to ask you which is, we now heard how you can stop the negative, stop the counterproductive thoughts. How do you keep the good stuff in there? How do you make sure that you focus on the stuff that you want? [xx] how you do it.
Interviewee: First of all, you got to know what you want, and I mean I know what I want. I know the kind of life that I want to lead. I know how I want to be able to interact with other people. I know how I want to be able to impact other people. I know what impact I want my company to make, not only on the members, but also on the staff. I mean, I’m very clear in my own mind as far as how I see my life.
Andrew: How do you stay clear on it? Do you have it written down? Is that what you do? Do you talk about it a lot? Is there something else that you do?
Interviewee: I guess the one thing is I think a lot. I mean I take a lot of time thinking about the impact that I want to make and how I’m going to make it. I think that’s probably the way that I do it, I spend time thinking. I don’t just spend all my time doing. Especially when you’re working on the business, I get away from my business so I can look back at my business. As I was talking to a bunch of my staff this morning, I said, ‘I have to step back from the company, I have to look at the company. I have to look at what all the challenges are. I have to look at the things that we made, directions we have to move the company in. Then when I have those ideas, then I come back to all of you. I’ll share them, then we’ll figure out how do we make this actually work.’ And they get it.
That’s it. I don’t know if I can go deep into my psyche and explain why I do everything I do as far as how I think. Except, I think, I believe that, you know, I had a good family growing up, I have seven brothers and sisters. I had a very strong father who was military. I had a mother who always made you realize you can accomplish anything you want to accomplish. Her words to me always, ‘For as long as you got your health together, be fine.’ I mean, I understood that. So those were the things that always drove me.
Andrew: Let’s go back to when you wrote down the list of ten goals. What was the process like to come up with the goals?
Interviewee: When I read the book, ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ it inspired me so much when I was going through it. Once again, you have to go back years and think about who you were and things that you believed. I grew up in a very middle class family, and our family was not members of the country club, we were the caddies at the country club, and that was okay. But other things that I believed was that nobody actually liked what they did for a living, they just did it because that’s how you paid your bills. Then you tried to save some money and be out from New York so you could come to Florida for a week. To me, that’s what it was all about. I never heard anybody talked to me about how much they loved their work. Well, when I got into the health club business, and I realized I really love doing this.
and at the same time I realized I had made money doing it, I thought, this is so cool, you know, I just never thought you could do what you love doing and have it work out financially too. The first book I ever read which was, ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ you know when I read that book and I started reading about all these people who accomplished all these great things by the way thought, I was thinking, ‘Well I’ve got a brain, why can’t I think like them?’ That was the first thing, set a goal to become the top salesman at the company, and it was about a hundred salespeople at the time at their different locations, and three months later I was the top person at the sales company it was like, ‘How did that happen?’ You know, I wrote it down, ëcause it said to and I did it. That was like my first thing, ‘Wow, you can really accomplish something if you set a goal.’
When I read ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ it kept saying to remember, ‘In order to be successful you have to know the secret, in order to be successful you have to know the secret,’ it kept saying that through the book and I kept saying, ‘Just tell me the secret,’ you know and when I finished it, I realized, it was what I learned from ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ you have to know what you wanted. So I don’t know what happened, I was just inspired because it said you could have anything.
You could write down anything, I thought, ‘Well that’s great.’ The first thing you said, and owned my own health club, to own my own health club? It was more than that, it was to own my own health club in Gainesville, Florida. The reason why is I really fell in love with Gainesville and in those years I had to move down to an area called Merritt Island, Florida, I had to move to St. Petersburg, Florida, and I had got to the point, I said, ‘I want to have my own business in Gainesville so nobody can tell me where I’m going to live.’ So that’s why that one was so important.
You know, as I started going down the list, it was like, ‘Well, write down anything,’ the book says, ‘Just write down anything’. So you know, one of the things on my list, I mean if I told you, if you looked at that list, you know the second thing was to make the health club respected in the Gainesville community, because they had terrible reputations, they all went bankrupt. Then when I started putting things, fun things like, ‘Okay, if you write down anything, well I have a home in the mountains, a home on the ocean and I’ll build my parents a home.’ You know, then it was, I made out well financially, by the time I’m twenty five years old, I’ll make a hundred thousand dollars.
Now there are a number of other ones after that, but I’ll tell you, the interesting thing about that one, was when I was twenty one, I had the twelve cents. When I was twenty four and a half and I took over the last bankrupt club, I had to try to get a loan to start a business of which nobody would give me one, eventually I ended up with, I had seventeen hundred dollars that I put together to start the whole health club. That was when I was twenty four and a half, the day that I turned twenty six years old, I had exactly one hundred thousand dollars in my savings account.
And when I saw that, this is the thought that went through my head, ‘It was exactly the number I wrote down, it wasn’t ninety nine, it wasn’t a hundred and one, it was the exact number that I wrote down,’ and when I saw that I said, ‘That book was right. You can do anything.’ And that’s what like spurred me on.
And then over time, I did accomplish the other things. And, but even the one about becoming a pilot, that was on my list. I mean I was twenty eight years old, sitting in my office, and this pilot who’s a friend of mine walks in, ‘So,’ he says to me, ‘So, you ever going to learn to fly a plane?’ I said, ‘You know,’ that’s on my list. And while he was in my office, I called the airport, talked to an instructor, a half hour later I was in his office, an hour after that I was in an airplane, and I never stopped flying since.
[33:32 to 33:35 tape damaged] If I didn’t write that down on that list, I wouldn’t have done it. So, anyway, that’s how powerful the list was. But I was just inspired, ëcause I could do anything.
Andrew: What did you do with the list? Can you tell people? I know because I read about you in preparation, but, you didn’t just write the list and put it in a drawer, you did more with it.
Interviewee: No, I knew you were supposed to read it. So every single night before I went to bed I read the list and every single morning before I went to work, I read the list. As I said earlier, the psychologists say, ‘You can’t move away from what you’re thinking, you’re always moving in the direction of your dominant thoughts,’ I thought, ‘That’s cool, put the thoughts in there that you want.’ And, so what it caused me to do was to work hard every day. You know it wasn’t like I was thinking, ‘Well I want a hundred thousand dollars, I want a million dollars, I want this,’ I didn’t think those things at all. You know, but I knew, I guess you just start working harder, working towards getting those things, accomplishing those things, because it’s built into your subconscious. And I think that’s what, you know I think that’s with the power, of it was.
Andrew: And that is one of the things Napoleon Hill said, he said, ‘You write it down, you read it,’ I think he said twice a day, ‘You just take it with you everywhere.’ Do you still have your list?
Interviewee: No, I don’t have that list but it’s permanently in my brain. I mean, I don’t even have the notebook, I don’t have the yellow legal pad I wrote it down in, you know, any more.
Andrew: But you carried it folded in your pocket?
Interviewee: No I had it, I kept it, I always kept it
Andrew: …carried it folded in your pocket?
Interviewee: No. I had it… I always kept it in there because I didn’t carry it with me. I didn’t read it in my car and stuff; all I did was before I went to bed and before I went to work. Later on I learned, I don’t know if he said that, but late on I learned that’s the best time to read your list of goals because you don’t have all the thoughts of the things that are occurring in the course of the day taking up space in your brain. And before you go to work in the morning, before your day really has got rolling, you got a million things you’ve got to do, your brain is somewhat clear so you can drive it into your subconscious brain better by getting a lot of the way. So that’s why…that’s how I did it.
Andrew: I’ve been going back and forth on this whole goal setting thing. I’ve talked to entrepreneurs who don’t set any goals and they end up just feeling their way through and it never used to work out that way. People who just felt their way through ended up nowhere. They ended up watching TV because that’s where they felt the most comfortable. But now I see internet entrepreneurs who just do what they love and then they find an audience and before long they have a real business from it and here I am interviewing them and…I don’t know how to fit that in with what you’re telling me. In fact if I ask them, ‘Do you set goals?’ they laugh at me and say, ‘No of course not. I just feel my way through.’ Or maybe there’s something else that they’re doing. What do you think?
Interviewee: I’m sure there are people that do. Obviously the most critical thing on my list was owning my own business, owning my own health club. That was the most critical thing. If that hadn’t happened all the other things wouldn’t have happened. I mean I give you once again an example. One of the things I had on my list was I’ll travel all over America, I’ll travel all over the world. What I didn’t realize was that by focusing in on becoming the best that I could here that I’ve had the opportunity to go all over the world multiple times because people were asking me to come and tell them, ‘What do we do?’ But I didn’t know that that would be the mechanism for that occurring but that did become the mechanism for doing it. Like right now, it’s not like I have this list for all these goals right now. I don’t. I have one goal. Make my business better. Make my staff better. Make myself better first. Make my staff better and create something better for the members. That’s how I look at it.
Andrew: And it’s no longer a list of goals that you have for yourself? It’s not a measurable goal that I’m noticing you have. Why?
Interviewee: It’s because what I’m trying to accomplish…the major focus is to make these other people’s lives better. That’s all.
Andrew: Doesn’t that go against everything in those books? They always say make it measurable, make it clear.
Interviewee: Well, you know it’s funny. When it comes to the business, when we set up our yearly goals, our strategic objectives, we are. We’re very clear on all of those things and we’re very accountable. And I know inside the business we have to have those type measurements. But for my own life I don’t need to have that strict, stringent…I know the kind of life I want to lead. I know how I would like to be able to impact other people. I appreciate anybody else that…the fact that I could help somebody else. A lot of times I’m asked to go to the university or to the community college to speak to their entrepreneur clubs because I know you have all these people that have this fire inside of them. They don’t exactly know how to ignite it all but they’ve got it. So it feels good to know that I can over there and talk to them and hopefully inspire them that whatever you have in your gut, if you work hard, if you can handle adversity, if you can understand you’re going to get knocked down but you’re just going to have to get up again, if I can do those kind of things then I feel good about doing those kind of things. Why? I don’t know. I just do.
Andrew: You and I have now been on the phone, Skype, for 43 minutes including the time before the interview started. I think by now you’ve got a sense of the place that I’m coming from when I ask these questions and why I dig deeper. And so maybe we can dig in deeper. Maybe you can dig in deeper with me here on why no list. If I saw that I could write a list of things and have them all come up, have them all come out exactly as I wrote them I would imagine that I would just start writing the next list and can’t wait to complete that and the next list after that. But there’s something else here that I’m not picking up on and I’m hoping we can go in deeper and understand why.
Interviewee: Well, once again you have to figure out where the lists are and where the lists aren’t. Inside the business you’re filling up lists. And in all areas of the business and all departments of the business and all numbers of the business and all accountability…
Andrew: You told me you have 28 million members I imagine that you’ve got a list…a number for where you’d like to be at the end of next year and maybe in the future after that.
Andrew: I imagine that you’ve got a list of a number for where you’d like to be at the end of next year, and maybe in the future after that, but your personal list is full of business goals and it’s also full of passion goals. I’m looking at save a million dollars by – save a million dollars, I’m looking at “also become a pilot” as you’ve said, travel the United States, become a black belt, so why not more for yourself? Why not “teach others to become a black belt” or “save 100 million dollars” and instead of piloting a plane, I don’t know, something else that’s just as adventurous? Why is that? Because it seems like there’s something that’s a little also oppressive about having a list, there’s something that… or is it that it worked once, and I might be afraid that I might jinx it and that it wouldn’t work a second time and so I’d lose the credibility of having BUILT the list… or I don’t know what.
Interviewee: Well, once again, you still have to go into the different types of lists. Those were lists for my life.
Andrew: Yeah, why no more for your life?
Interviewee: Well, because I think there’s nothing that I’m craving in my life, like I’m short of in my life, I mean I’ve- I’ve made the money, I have the house, I have the car, I have all of those things. You know? It’s not like now I need a bigger house, and I need a better car, it’s not like that. Those things don’t drive me. I think I take more satisfaction out of being able to help people. And that’s where I take the greatest satisfaction. In the business- the goals, they’re there… the objectives… everything is there. Because I also know as I look into the future- my goal is, I want the business to become better. For it to become better, we have to become financially successful. We have to save money, we have to do all these things. So I have the financial goals and all. But they’re more- I connect them to my company, not to what I need to have, because there’s nothing that’s saying “Oh, I just have to have that.” You know? You’ll see- jewelry, I have one watch, I think my brother in law picked it off for me, it’s like a hundred and five dollars. You know? It’s not like I need any of the fancy stuff. I mean, I love the airplane because to me the airplane represents freedom. That’s what it is to me. It gives me freedom to get up and go and fly and be above the clouds and to me I- that’s how I see my life – being free and having the freedom to do the things I want to do in my life. Obviously I have to be secure financially to make that happen. So I have to make sure we do the right things.
Andrew: What about health goals?
Interviewee: The what?
Andrew: What about health goals for yourself? I know that you’re an athletic person.
Interviewee: Oh, I don’t worry about that. I work out every day of my life. It’s not even a question.
Andrew: I see.
Interviewee: You know. It’s who I am.
Andrew: There’s no goal of running a triathlon, or lifting a certain amount of weight? Or doing… no?
Interviewee: No, my goal is every time I train just to train the hardest I can train. So, I- but see, the thing is, once again, where I’m fortunate, I actually derive pleasure out of working out real hard. You know? I know most people don’t, but I do. Once again, why? I don’t know. I started doing it when I was 7 years old, when I stood in front of the TV exercising to Jack Lelaine, you know, so it’s just something I’ve done, you know, my whole life. And it wasn’t everybody else in my family did it. Nobody else in my family did it. But now everybody in my family does it, even my mother and father.
Andrew: Who all moved to Florida…?
Interviewee: They work out at my gyms. You know, so… no, I mean those- when I say health goals I mean the health goals are all there. Keep working out, keep training hard, to eat healthy, those things are just my genetic makeup, so I don’t have to set goals to accomplish those things.
Andrew: All right. I still don’t know how to reconcile this yet, but that’s my burden and I’ve got to think about it outside of this interview and come up with it. I was thinking, “I go into this interview, I got a person whose point of view is you set goals, look – it worked in my life, and it worked in my life so well that I’m still doing it and I still have more.” And that seems to be a consistent message. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with your message. I’m saying that I as a curious person am dying to find out why, and I also understand the limitation of an hour long interview via video Skype- it doesn’t answer every question in the universe. That’s why I don’t just do one interview and then go home for the rest of my life and watch TV. I’ve got many others, and much more to learn. So I’m going to overburden this interview with more. Lets’-
Interviewee: Well, I will say, you know just a couple things. Obviously the books I read made impressions on me. I would read the books of successful people, and the things that would strike me about the most successful people is when I would read things like “focus on one thing, become great at one thing, and it will open the door to many things.” And the one thing where I think I am fortunate, is that if I read or listen to someone who I respect who is successful, I don’t have to go back and do the exact opposite and find out they were right. If I respect somebody, I would bet even as a young guy I would go back and I would believe what they said. So…
minute 45 to minute 50
Interviewee: ÖSo, when I was starting my business, even though I had all these other opportunities and these people come at me, ‘Have this, do this, try this, do this.’ I keep saying, ‘No. No. No. This is all I want to do. This is all I want to do.’ ‘Come to our city and open up one. Why do you franchise?’ ‘No, because that’s not what I want to do. This is what I want to do, I want to become the best I can become in my city. That’s all that I’m interested in.’
So when I was offered to go over to St. Thomas to Bluebeard’s Castle, by the owner of Bluebeard’s Castle, to put in a fitness center over there and run a fitness center, I said to him, ‘You know, I don’t really want to get to know people a week at a time.’ I knew I wanted to have connections in my own community. So that there were very specific things that I knew about how I wanted the life that I wanted to lead. It was true, everything I read was true. You focus on one thing, and keep focusing and focusing and it opens the door to many things, and it has opened the door to many things.
So meeting people, someone like you, to meeting Bo Burlingham who did the Inc. article. I never called up Inc. and said ‘I like you to do a story on me.’ He called me up one day and it was like, ‘Do you want to talk.’ When Bo came down and he was interviewing me, we sat for 11 hours before I said, ‘Do you want to go to dinner?’ It was in the dinner, I said, ‘Bo, why are we doing this?’ He goes, ‘Do what?’ I said, ‘Why are you asking me all the questions?’ He goes, ‘Didn’t I tell you?’ I said, ‘I never asked.’ He goes, ‘Well, I’m doing the lead story for Inc. Magazine.’
I didn’t even know, it didn’t matter. I figured if he wanted to know answers to things, I’ll tell him the answers to things. So, it’s not like I have this deeper meaning to everything, but I knew the kind of like I want to lead. I knew where I wanted to live, I knew the impact that I wanted to make on my community. I knew the way I want to be able to connect to my family and to my staff and to my members. All those things I knew, so it just drove everything else.
Andrew: Bo did a great job with that article. I hope people will go and read that Inc. article on you. I hope I get to meet him at some point, I really love the way that he put that together. We have just a few more minutes left, let’s talk about the opportunity that you saw when you ended up buying your own health club. What was it like when you found it?
Interviewee: First of all, I took it over, it was bankrupt. So I went to the owner, because I was working for him when he told me he was going bankrupt, and I knew that was a top thing on my list. I said, ‘If there’s a way I could pay up your debt, would you leave me alone and let me just take this over?’ I had no money to pay up his debt, but that wasn’t even a question, I knew I’d figure out a way to do it. At the beginning of trying to start the business, be in 24 ? on the town that all the health clubs had gone bankrupt, trying to go to banks to give you money to build one and nobody would. You’re having a health club above a bank and the bank sending you an eviction notice telling you that the health club has to leave. You’re going to have the President of the bank to give me 30 more days, and then eventually 30 more days, then having a place you’re going to move it to. Then the morning you call, because you’re going to sign the lease, you find out they’d leased it to somebody else. Then, on a Thursday afternoon, you hunt for a new place, and on a Friday, at 5:30 at night, you sign a lease on a new place. I remember I obligated myself to about a $168,000 of debt and I had nothing.
I remember when I was driving over there, to sign this thing that’s going to in debt me for that much, and I’m thinking, ‘I don’t owe anybody anything. As soon as I sign this, I owe these people $168,000.’ But I also remember, as a kid, my father always talked about wanting to open up a restaurant but he never did, and I said, ‘No, I’m going to go do it.’ That lead me to signing it because I didn’t want to go through my life and say, ‘I wanted to do something and I didn’t do it.’ From there, searching, finding a location, and with $1,700 that I ended up with, buying $1,700 worth of wood. I hired plumbers, electricians, carpenters, I had no money to pay anybody. But I knew that you didn’t have to pay for advertising for 30 days, so I started my advertising like crazy. Somehow, every single week, I had enough money to keep paying everybody for them to keep working the next week.
I remember opening up the health club with no bathrooms, no showers, studs on the wall, carpeting on the ground and equipment on it. People would ask me where the bathroom was, I have to direct them out the door to one of the restaurants that was in front of the shopping center. But I mean, I knew I could make it work. I’d never recommend anybody else to do it, but I somehow knew, I never had a doubt in my mind that I could make it work, and it just kept working.
Andrew: You told that story in maybe 60 seconds, 120 seconds, and it all seemed like it just flew by. But when we go through it on our own, in our own businesses or anything that we take on, we feel like we’re the only ones who go through it.
Andrew: But when we go through it on our own, in our own businesses or anything that we take on, we feel like it’s just like we’re the only ones that go through it like when Joe did it, it just happened quickly. Had a little bit of trouble, he somehow figured out a way to get over it and life was fine. When we go through it and we actually feel it in real time, it feels like, well, speak for myself, I feel like I’m…I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Am I just a slow learner? Am I just a person who keeps making mistakes? How does Joe do it so fast? But the truth is, the hundred and twenty seconds that it took you to tell that story actually took a long time to do.
Joe: It’s not that I and it doesn’t mean Joe didn’t wake up in the middle of the night like not being able to sleep trying to figure out the answers to problems. I had that many times. I still do now. You know, where I have a thought and I’ll wake up a three o’clock in the morning and I just, I can’t figure something out. But the one thing that I’ve learned about myself is I will figure it out. So that’s what I know, that it will take some time but I will figure it out. I mean I had to make a decision about building another club that I really didn’t want to build, but I was trying to convince myself that I did want to build it and without going into a long story, and I thought I’m going to sleep tonight and my gut know the answer tomorrow. And I woke up the next day and I had a stomach ache and it’s no joke. I was sick to my stomach. And I said well, I guess that told me the answer. So I have to rely on my gut feeling a lot of times. But I trust my gut to know whether it’s in unison with really what I want in my life. And so no, I go through those too. I mean, I have those holy crap moments in the middle of the night thinking things through and having a problem and being concerned about something but I’ve learned through time, I can solve it. And that’s the confidence that I have in myself, that I will solve it. At least it’s not miserable.
Andrew: I see it’s inspiring people in the audience. I see Brendon is saying the day I stop believing is the day it’s over. And a couple of other people have also been moved by that. I want to take, I said I’d take questions from the audience if they asked them. They did. Let me scroll up here and find a handful of them from before to ask you. While I do that, the work that I do here, how can I improve it? My goal is to do something similar to what Napoleon Hill did which is interview successful people about how they built their business and bring the best of their ideas to my audience. As someone who’s read Napoleon Hill and who’s life has been changed by him, how can I do this better?
Joe: Well, first, what you’re doing what you want to do. Because I asked Brian, what exactly is this interview? And he explained it to me and obviously I can see the passion you have for what you do and I understand why you’re doing it because you know that there’s people who are craving information from other successful people that just like all the books you’ve read, who you cannot interview, like Napoleon Hill anymore or Andrew Carnegie, I think what I see you doing is interviewing people who were inspired by those people, who were inspired by those works and are now are trying to do something and it all is a great thing. I look forward to Napoleon myself and learning more about the interviews and all that you have. I mean, Brian is aware of Simon City since we’ve been going through all that and he goes, Andrew interviewed Simon City. And I said, no kidding. And so that made it an honor…
Andrew: And so that’s what got you reading the book?
Joe: Oh yeah. I watched that Youtube video and oh yeah, then I got the book. We’re doing all kinds of things at the club now. I mean, from making history. History’s on the wall. But the why we exist will be part of this wall and now my staff understands all these things that we do that there’s a reason why we do it. That it’s not just we have a rehab center, and we have a pool. And we have this and we have that. The focus has been let me explain to you why we have this, why we have a rehab center. I can take them back through when I ripped by leg apart and I had to go through surgery and I had to go to rehab and when I went to a rehab center, the one thing that all they posed me was every problem that I’ve had and finally I said to the therapist, Would you do me a favor? He goes, what? And I said, if you don’t have anything positive to say to me just don’t say anything to me. I said because my leg will be perfect. Leave me alone with your own, keep your own negative thoughts to yourself. And after a while doing that, I thought I can do this better myself. I want to build an environment that inspires people, that doesn’t make them aware of all the handicaps you’re going to have. And that’s why we build a rehab resource. That’s why there’s a health club with glass so they can look out the exercise floor and see healthy people working out.
Interviewee: so they’re inspired to be like those people, so there’s a reason why we do the things, there’s a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, because you think you can help somebody. You’re not doing this just for yourself to have a job, you’re doing this because you see yourself as someone who can help other people become more successful and that’s what you are doing.
Andrew: Jane in the audience, actually Mixergy’s producer, she asked, ‘How do you know if you’re focusing on the right one thing?’ And that was in response to you saying, ‘Just do one thing really well.’
Interviewee: Well, what I learned from the quote that has driven me my whole life which was, ‘If you help enough people get what they want out of life, you’ll get everything you want out of life,’ and I guess the question is, the thing that you’re focused on, is it focused on you or is it focused on someone or helping other people? And I think if you have something that can help you focus on, that improves and helps you improve other people’s lives then you’re focusing on the right thing. If it’s all focused on you, I’m not saying watching your diet and exercise and that can be focused on you that is you. But that’s what I believe, you have to search for things that help other people. Don’t worry about yourselves, that’ll get taken care of.
Andrew: I would give people an assignment. I know that I can feel what my audience is going to resonate with, I can feel what’s going to move them and I know that this interview is going to move them. The person who’s listening now all the way through, who’s spent an hour with us, is there something that you recommend that they do once this program is officially, fully over?
Interviewee: Well, I think it’s what we talked about in the beginning. First of all, anybody who I’ve ever met who’s successful, whenever I’ve been in a group of very successful people and I ask them one question, ‘How many have read ëThink and Grow Rich’?’ They all raise their hand.
I’ll tell you something very interesting. Well, after the ‘Inc.’ article came out, Fox News was doing a story and they were doing a story on renewable energy. And we were the first health club in the world to have our equipment connect to our grid to get renewable energy off people who were using our elliptical and it was developed by a guy who was one of the students that I spoke to at the Entrepreneur’s Club because a lot of times these guys say, ‘Do you think we could go get a cup of coffee so we could talk?’ ëCause I know, I say, ‘They just want something.’ Which, I mean, I’m positive they want something.
And so anyway, that news, that was on Fox News under national news and one day I get a package and this is from the Executive Director of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. And I open it up and there’s a letter in there and there’s two books, both collector’s edition, one was a ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ and one was of the book that was written on all the articles that Napoleon Hill wrote twenty three years before he wrote, ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ which I read and I called him up to thank him. He goes, ‘Well I read the ëInc.’ article,’ and he said, ‘then I was at my home and I turned on the treadmill and I turned on Fox News and there you were,’ so he sent it to me.
And so I re-read them both and that would be my recommendation. They’re old books but I think they kind of set the foundation and they’ve set the foundation for so many people that I’d say go read the book ‘Think and Grow Rich.’ And the other thing is, look up Nightingale Conant, and anything that Earl Nightingale spoke on, anything and listen to him, and listen to him over and over and over again. And then once you get it, start sharing it with everybody else, so they get it too.
You know many of those books, like ‘The Psychology of Winning,’ by Dennis Wayly, I bought forty two copies of it which was twelve tapes in each one and gave them to forty two friends because I thought it was so powerful. I gave it to a guy one day who was an absolute jerk, an absolute jerk who told me he was going to go down to Tallahassee, he was going to be interviewed for a lawyer’s firm, he was a law student and I told him, ‘You’ll never get the job. I said, you’re just too negative.’ And I said, ‘But I can help you.’ He goes, ‘How?’ I said, ‘Take this taped series, listen to it on the way to Tallahassee, it’s a three hour drive,’ and I said, ‘It will help you a lot.’ I said, ‘The only thing I ask is you bring it back.’ He said, ‘Okay.’ Two days later he came back and he told me, ‘I got the job and it’s because I listened to those tapes, thank you very much.’
So there’s so much power in that and I don’t think most people realize the power that’s inside of those books and inside the words of someone like a Dennis Wayly or especially an Earl Nightingale.
Andrew: That’s great advice, I actually especially appreciate that you said Earl Nightingale, because he was one of the first people to put down his ideas not in a book but on a record, not music on a record, but Earl Nightingale talking on a record. Early technology, you listen to it even now on a DVD and it’s still a little bit off, it’s still a little bit crispy.
The 10 goals
1. Own a health club in Gainesville
2. Make it respected in the community
3. Earn $100,000 by the age of 25
4. Own a Mercedes-Benz like the one driven by the Six Million Dollar Man
5. Own a home in the mountains and one by the ocean and build another for his parents
6. Become a black belt
7. Become a pilot and own a plane
8. Travel all over the United States
9. Travel all over the world; and 10. Save $1 million.
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[This interview was only possible because Giang Biscan, Mixergy’s producer, put it together.]