Brad Johnson: Welcome to another episode of Do Business Do Life. Jason Khalipa, welcome to the show, my man.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, thanks. It’s good to be here. Especially coming off the momentum that we had in Tahoe, it’s nice to catch up again.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I’ll kind of rewind so those that missed the first episode I did with Jason on my prior show, The Elite Advisor Blueprint. We originally connected out of Mastermind Talks, Jayson Gaignard. I remember you ran us through a little private CrossFit workout and we just kind of stayed in touch, did the podcast episode. But as we were getting ready for Tahoe, as you know, Jason, we don’t do events at Triad, we do experiences. And one of the things as we were thinking through how do we level up Do Business Do Life really a founders retreat, we had more kids there than we did adults. I was like, “I really want like some sort of morning workout session where we can get the juices flowing, get the kids out there. And I reached out to you and just within like I think 10 minutes of kind of sharing the highlight, we’re like, “I’m in. Let’s go. I’ll bring my family too.”
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. Sounds good. Let’s do it. Yeah.
Brad Johnson: So, thank you for being a part of that. You really did help turn that into a true experience. And I know we did a couple sessions, one with the full family and then one that you kind of put us through the wringer a little bit at the top. This Kansas guy is not ready for Tahoe Elevation.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, the elevation.
Brad Johnson: So, that was extra fun.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, there you go. It makes a little bit of a difference for sure.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, so for those that aren’t familiar with you, former CrossFit Games champion in 2008 on the podium three times. Team USA, which is kind of like the Olympics of CrossFit, the U.S. versus the world, three-time member there. Let’s just dive in there because I think you do a lot. You’re also an incredible business owner. You’re an author. I know being a husband and dad is extremely important to you but let’s start with maybe where most people might know you best from, which is CrossFit. And I would just love to hear, like, how did that journey began because at one point, you and a couple of others were kind of the face of CrossFit when it was just getting on the national scene on ESPN at the CrossFit Games and all of that.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. So, I was introduced to CrossFit in 2006. So, at the time, I was working at a conventional gym. I was selling gym memberships and a buddy of mine introduced me to this online program and we would just follow the dot-com workout. And I really fell in love with the idea of a coach, a community, and more importantly, the complexity, right, doing different types of movements. It exposed me to skills that I didn’t have before. It got me uncomfortable and those were the things that I was seeking in my life at the time. And so, as I was getting ready to graduate from college because I was working at the gym full time while I was there, I was like, “Oh, man, I’m going to open up a gym.” And so, long story short, I ended up opening up a gym, winning the CrossFit Games, and really dedicating myself to CrossFit for the next decade-plus in my life. I traveled the world. Everywhere I taught, I competed, I opened gyms, and it was a great ride. And I learned a lot about fitness, I learned a lot about people, and that’s really helped me over the last two decades of my career.
Brad Johnson: Do you remember what year when the original CrossFit.com when that got on your radar? I’m just curious, at what stage did you start to actually winning in 2008, how that journey looked?
Jason Khalipa: It was pretty short after. So, a lot of things in life, and I’m sure people who listen to this like there’s that show, How We Built This, and they always ask, “Was it luck or was it hard work or whatever?” And obviously, I think it’s a blend of both, right? Because I was introduced to it. I live in the Bay Area, California, and the original CrossFit Games location was in the Bay Area at a ranch in Aromas, California. So, I was introduced to it in 2006. 2007 and 2008 comes around and I’ve been doing it for like a year pretty seriously and someone’s like, “Hey, we should go do this.” And at the time it was like I had to pay for a plane ticket or whatever. I just like showed up and rock and roll and that really changed my life. And there was definitely luck involved with that because if I didn’t live where I lived, if it wasn’t where it was, I wouldn’t have gotten started in it. So, that was kind of how it started. So, yeah, I did it for about a year before I competed for the first time.
Brad Johnson: So, let’s put it this way then. You were not the standard guy at the gym, just doing chest and arms. You had probably some base level of full-body fitness then if you were able to jump in that quickly and be successful.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. My background was really interesting because in high school, I didn’t apply myself as much as I wanted, but I was pretty big so football. I was like 260, which I competed at 212 and I weigh 212 right now. It’s kind of where I sit is 212 and when I was in high school I was pretty big because I was playing lineman, and so I was 260. And when I realized I wasn’t going to end up playing football in college, I found Muay Thai and I got really interested in Muay Thai. And Muay Thai, for those who are not familiar, is Thai kickboxing but there’s not much weightlifting involved. And so, I kind of shrunk. I leaned out. And so, now you have this baseline strength from building 260 walking around and playing football, and then you had this kind of leaned-out Muay Thai. And that’s what kind of flipped me into more full-body type stuff with CrossFit.
Brad Johnson: So, for those unfamiliar with CrossFit, I played football as well in college, so I was kind of, I mean, the thing with football is you bulk up because you’ve got to have some weight for the pop behind it. And, I mean, I was the guy that would just go in and try to push heavy weight, squat, bench, cleans, all that. And then I remember seeing the very first CrossFit workout, I think it was YouTube or something. I saw Fran. And I think there’s almost this sickness with people that do CrossFit. It’s almost like, “Wow. That looks really…” Well, at first it looks easy and then you try it and it’s insanely hard. And then there’s almost like this weird, sadistic addiction sort of thing that kind of starts to happen. And then the community of, like, shared suffering together and it kind of brings people together and forms this really cool community. But there was that part of it for you? Because you were already sounds like going out and seeking out things to get uncomfortable and push you. Was that kind of what pulled you in? Or what was it that sucked you into that?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. I think it was, obviously, it had a lot to do with like the people I surround myself with at the time. They want to be hard chargers. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to level up. I wanted to be better than who I was. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing at the time in terms of like reaching my potential. And I utilized the gym as a tool to push myself mentally and physically, which then transferred into other areas of my life. You know, at the time when I graduated high school, I just wasn’t taking life that seriously. And I went to a junior college. I didn’t get into the college that I was supposed to or I wanted to. And when I was there, I just really woke up like, “Hey, man, no one’s going to save me. No one’s going to do anything for me. If I want to be successful, I need to put in the hard work.” And that translated really well into CrossFit because it’s the exact same thing. And fitness in general, like people who are listening probably have developed a lot of financial hedges in their life. They’re financially doing well. But when you look at it in terms of different areas of your life, like fitness cannot be bought. You’re either putting in the work and improving or you’re not.
And I really fell in love with that idea with CrossFit. They’re like either my times are going to get better and I was going to put in the work or I wasn’t. And that translated directly into, “Hey, am I going to put in the extra hours to get the commissions on my checks to put money in the bank to build up the financial hedge, just like I’m building this fitness hedge?”
Brad Johnson: Yeah. And so, for those unfamiliar, somebody training at the CrossFit Games level, a true professional in that sense, what did a standard day when you were training for the games look like when you were hardcore at it?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. I mean, and this is something that obviously over time evolved. So, when I first got into it, you’re doing one workout a day, you’re pushing yourself hard, and that was like the norm. Then as things evolved and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that kind of evolution, you had guys doing what they call double days and triple days or whatever. And so, from 2008 until like 2009-2010, it wasn’t a huge jump. Then from 2010 there’s a big deal that was signed with like Reebok. We went to a Home Depot center like the sport exploded. And so, with that, came more people, more money, and more kind of focus. And with that focus, we required you to train more because there was a wider depth, the things you’re training for. You’re training for swimming, you’re training for long runs, you’re training for heavy lifting. And because you had exposed yourself to all these different things, get to spend a lot of time training those modalities. It just takes time. So, in the morning it’d be like an hour of fasted cardio, you know, kind of long, slow distance training. Mid-day we had like a two-hour traditional CrossFit block of like strength and conditioning, heavy lifting, necklines, etcetera. And then in the evening would be stamina building. And stamina building is really important because if you look at ten general physical skills, so let’s just say an individual’s looking across like different modalities.
He had like stamina, strength, flexibility, accuracy, agility, balance, cardiovascular. I’ve named a bunch, right? If you just do yoga, you’ll get better at flexibility, balance, etcetera. If you just do weight training, you’ll be really good at strength and maybe some power but you want to be balanced across all ten. When you look at your training cycle, you want to hit long-range, short-range, different agility-type things, but also stamina. So, stamina would be like if I asked you do as many pushups as you can, if you could perform one, you had the strength and you’re not going to be out of breath. So, it’s not conditioning. It just becomes stamina like your muscle just can no longer fire so I’d work that at night on things like handstand push-ups, pull-ups, etcetera.
Brad Johnson: You have the…
Jason Khalipa: Too much in the weeds of training. Yeah.
Brad Johnson: No, no, I love it.
Jason Khalipa: I could go deep in there.
Brad Johnson: Hey. There are a lot of financial advisors out there that are CrossFit junkies or just like running Spartan races, you know, whatever their version of they’re pushing themselves physically is. Myself and my buddy, Matt, back in the day, we went to a level one cert. Did you ever make it to…? Gosh, it was in Kansas. It was on an Army base. Where was it? Wonder if you ever did some of those trainings.
Jason Khalipa: I didn’t do any in Kansas. I mean, I did a military base in New Mexico one time that was just like gnarly. I did a military base in Japan, in Okinawa, which was cool.
Brad Johnson: Wow.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, I traveled all over the country, all over the world, teaching seminars for CrossFit early on like 2009-2010.
Brad Johnson: The analogy they gave us on this level one certification was it was like if your fitness was like a bubble around you, like CrossFit’s version is to make that as big as possible because, to your point, if you’ve got a powerlifter versus a marathon runner, they’re very specialized in those two. This guy is obviously going to lift the world. This guy is going to be able to run for hours. But if you swap spots, they’re going to fail miserably in the other role. And that was the thing like CrossFit will find your weakness, whatever it is the way that that whole program works. So, it was cool to be a part of that. So, I want to now go a little deeper on the CrossFit journey. There was, I believe it was one of the CrossFit Games. It might have been the year before you won where you were crushing it. And then there was a super long run. And your body, I think, like, basically gave out on you. And one of the things I remember you sharing with me was it became almost like a mindset thing where you were training, obviously, hard and it was like the mindset is what started to get in the way of the success. And that’s where, yes, we just heard the training you were doing physically, but there was this whole other aspect of mindset that you hadn’t really trained and that unlocked. You’re like, “Oh, I got to train there too.” So, would you share kind of how that came to be?
Jason Khalipa: You know, a really good way to think about it is you have mental fitness and you have physical fitness. And when I started thinking about it through that as of late, it really hit home and physically my fitness was on point, but my mental fitness wasn’t even quite there. I didn’t even necessarily know it at the time. So, what you’re referring to, in 2008, I won the CrossFit Games, and I was the current champ going into 2009. And in 2009, I ended up taking fifth overall. However, the way I got there was very unique because at the first event, I was just too fired up. I was trying to listen to, you know, I don’t even know what I was listening to on my headphones at the time, like Limp Bizkit and like…
Brad Johnson: Rage Against the Machine.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, Rage Against the Machine. Just thinking that, I had to get fired up. So, at the time, the first event was a 10K. It’s like a seven-mile hill run, and it was pretty gnarly. Like, there were parts that your hands and your knees or hands and feet kind of like bear crawling. I ended up getting poison oak from that, which was that’s a whole another story. But anyways, so I come back around and I finish this like gnarly hill run. I had about a mile left. At the time, I felt myself mentally, physically, just fatiguing in a way that I was just draining my system. I’d been too fired up for too long that I just didn’t have any more left in me. I was just empty. And I start running down this hill and I’m just like I turn numb. And it’s the first time this has happened to me. The following year ended up doing something similar, which I’ll talk about but I get to the bottom of this hill and I just pass out, just blackout, and I ended up falling on the floor. And I wake, I come to very quickly. It wasn’t like I was like a life-and-death situation. I come to very quickly and the director of the CrossFit Games, his name is Dave Castro. He’s like, “Hey, look, if you don’t finish this first event, your CrossFit games are done.”
So, I ended up getting back up, essentially finishing. I finished, oddly enough, I beat three people, so I took 72nd out of 75 on that. But from a perspective, I was way back. So, I finish that event. I take some time to recharge. I figure out what was wrong. Maybe I was low on – my blood sugar’s too low. I was too anxious in my mind. But at that point, I had nothing to lose. I’d already been at the top. I went all the way to the bottom and that was just my point to just be able to… And so, what I learned from that was the mental side of how much that played in. So, I ended up fighting my way back and ended up taking fifth. That following year, I go into the 2010 CrossFit Games with the first and a fifth underneath my belt. So, I was the favorite to win because of those numbers. And a very similar thing happened because I had not developed the mindset yet of learning how to control my nerves. I thought I had to like fire myself up. I thought that I had to, whatever, but the reality was being in front of a crowd with jets flying over and all this crazy stuff, it’s going to fire me up anyways. And what I need to learn how to do is conserve energy, not allow it to expel. I needed to learn how to focus on what was in my control, utilize positive self-talk, utilize breathing techniques to calm myself, not to be so elevated. And I ended up finding a mindset coach shortly after and it changed my game and I ended up having a great career following that. I mean, not that that was bad but those were the moments that really start to reframe what I was looking at. And turns out this mindset coach, which we can get into these other things, played a big role in real life as well.
Brad Johnson: Let’s do it. Where my head just went is everything you just talked about in an athletic competition, I’ve seen many financial advisors out there. Their version of the CrossFit Games might be the live presentation with a room full of potential prospects. It might be the radio show, the TV show. It might be the actual appointment where there’s a retiree with $1 million sitting across from him and that is game time for them. And I’ve seen people like kind of like freak themselves out for sure and not kind of be that calm version of their best self. So, yeah, let’s talk about the mindset. What did you hear from the coach?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. And let’s talk about something very practical. I definitely want to get into the leadership set that I want to talk about for sure as we go on but I just was commentating on ESPN and this was like, I don’t know, maybe a month ago for the CrossFit Games. And it was my first-time live broadcasting on ESPN. So, I’ve been on ESPN as an athlete but never as a broadcaster. And it was much more anxious than I’d just been. I guess this equates pretty well to maybe more of what we’re talking about, where you got a couple of people in your ear, you’re prepping, you got multiple different cameras. And maybe for the people who are in the finance world, they have all this prep and they know that it’s like on a high level. So, like I knew live ESPN was like up here. I knew competing at the game is like up here. And when it’s up there, you put a lot of stress on yourself. And so, the goal should be to, first and foremost, even if you don’t think you’re stressed, you probably are stressed. And it’s coming out in a variety of different ways in your life.
And so, you could take two circles. You could put on a piece of paper. So, let’s just say one of your financial advisors has a big meeting coming up and we’ll use that as an example. For me, it was sport. I go to this mindset coach and say, “Hey, I’m really worried about that.” He asked me a very simple question, “Take the thing that’s stressing you out, this big meeting you have with this client, and take all the things that are in your control and put it in a circle on the left and all the things that are out of your control and put it on a circle on the right.” And for me, it was, “Hey, take the things for competition that are stressing you out and take all the things for the competition and put them in the left, put them the right. What’s in your control? Out of control? Take everything.” And so, what I ended up doing is I took this model, and I started talking about things that were in my control. So, for example, tying my shoes. I’m going to triple tie them because if your shoes come untied in the middle of an event, that’s like a very stupid reason to lose, right? Pre-game nutrition, completely in my control. I’m going to have my peanut butter, my honey. I’m going to make sure that I’m getting my calories that I need. Pre-game music, what am I going to listen to? What is my mantra going into that event? What am I going to tell myself that’s in the exact same? How am I going to warm up the exact same every time, regardless of the event that I’m performing? And you list up all these different things that are in your control, right? There’s tons of them, right?
But now here are the things that are outside your control is what are my competitors going to do? What are the events going to be? What is my judge going to do? These things are outside my control but they are oftentimes what I had focused on the most. And so, when I went back to him, I showed him my two pages. He goes, “Okay. Now, which ones do you normally focus on?” And typically, what I was doing was I was focusing on things that were outside my control, which made me feel like I had no control, which made me super anxious. And so, once I started reframing that and focusing primarily, it’s hard, but all of the things are in my control, it now made me feel empowered. It made me feel ready. It made me feel like I was earning the confidence to go out there and execute. And that was a game changer for me.
Brad Johnson: That’s such good advice. There’s a lot of stoicism in that advice right there.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. I mean, not to get too deep but the reality is, is that if you think about anything in life that’s really stressing you out like real stuff, if you really look at it to its core like you’re only in control of what you’re in control of. And I know it’s easy like whatever but if you really sit back and reflect like, “Dude, I cannot control what my competitor is going to do. I cannot control what the judge is going to say.” So, what’s in my control is moving well and preparing well so that the judge doesn’t give me a no rep and that I kick the other partner’s ass or whatever you do. It’s the same thing with getting ready for a meeting. You know, if you’re getting ready for a meeting, what’s in your control? To dress rehearse, to videotape yourself going through these things, to prepare, to show up early, to remove stress. So, for example, if you’re going to have a meeting at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday instead of maybe flying in that day, you fly in the day before so this way you’re not super anxious being at the airport. Those are things that you could do that are in your control to get your heart rate and your overall like you feel less flustered.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. One of my favorite quotes, “Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” And what I see a lot is every entrepreneur, it’s not just financial advisors, you’re running so fast and so hard and getting pulled in so many different directions, oftentimes, what creates the stress is the lack of preparation. You didn’t actually carve out the time to run through that live presentation. You had to give in a room full of 60 people or to review the plan for the $2 million prospect that’s coming in, in 15 minutes. And so, I love just going into the preparation aspect of that. Okay. So, I have to ask you now. You said mantras was one of the things in your control. What were some of the self-talk and mantras you had going into? Was it different for every event? Was it different for every CrossFit Games? Did you have like a theme? Like, how did you think through that?
Jason Khalipa: Well, I mean, the thing is you want it to be the same. So, what you want to do is when you’re in the garage or when you’re at the gym, you’re training, or in your case, if you’re in the office, you’re practicing. You want to have the exact same flow, whether you’re in the office or you’re a thousand miles away getting ready for an event because you want your body to be triggered in the same way. So, for example, if I’m at the CrossFit Games, I will do the exact same warmup, the exact same way at my gym as I will at CrossFit Games. So, now my body and mind are getting back into a groove where they’re mentally and physically preparing the exact same way instead of it being like… Same thing with nutrition. So, for example, if I’m preparing every single day the same way at home but all of a sudden I go to the games, I change. Well, that’s weird. If I wasn’t doing it before, I shouldn’t be doing it now. So, the mantra was always the same. And it goes in this idea of earned confidence. So, you talk about your financial advisors and you talk about preparation. Preparation allows you to earn your confidence.
So, what I would do is I’d wear a wristband almost daily and just it earned. Just like for your financial advisors, for example, they get in front of a million, $10 million, $1 billion guy, right? No one gave them anything. They earned the right to get in front of that person because of who they are because of the work they’ve put in, because of their reputation, because of their dedication. They earned it. And I think if you remind yourself that more often, it actually builds up your confidence because no one gave you anything. So, for me, it was always about earning my confidence every single day in the gym. And today, it’s about earning my confidence in jujitsu, earning my confidence in business, earning my confidence through everything. So, when I get in situations, I can fall back on that instead of this perceived concept, right? Like, I could get in front of a group of financial advisors and maybe I start talking about 401(k) plans. I can maybe talk about it but they’re going to learn very quickly that I’m full of sh*t and that I don’t have the earned confidence, so I’ve not exposed myself enough plans. But you can go out there and talk about it because you’ve earned the confidence.
So, my mantra was always, “Move fast, breathe slow.” Now, this is very specific to CrossFit, so I don’t use it financially. But it was the idea that move with purpose but keep your heart rate under control. So, move fast because you got to go. If you want to win, you got to go. There’s no question. You got to breathe slow. You got to get your heart rate back down because as soon as your heart rate spikes, you’re no longer in control. And so, that was the mantra. So, I’d be on that starting block. They’d be about to be like, “Ready? Three, two, one. Boom!” Buzzer goes off. It’s like deep breath. Move fast. Breathe slow. Let’s go. My buddies would, “I’m money, baby.” That’s what he would tell himself. I love that one too.
Brad Johnson: Who is that?
Jason Khalipa: One of my buddies. One of my training partners back in the day, he’d be like around that starting line and be like, “I’m money, baby.” I always love that one too.
Brad Johnson: Love it. I know you had a chance to hang out with Chris Smith a little bit out in Tahoe, who does a lot of coaching with us and has a really cool brand, the Campfire Effect. But one of my favorite things I picked up from Chris, he says, “Language creates.” It speaks into existence. And if you look at humanity, in general, everything that’s been created came from some form of language, some shared idea, some shared CrossFit, the shared community there. Some people call it a cult. I think it’s a pretty beneficial cult to some. But the way that came to be was a shared belief system that all started with language so I love it. It’s almost like you’re speaking it into existence. That’s what you’re doing. You’re setting that mentality as you kick it off.
Jason Khalipa: That’s right.
Brad Johnson: All right. So, I want to go to one other thing. As I was prepping for this, actually the first time we met, you were pretty close. You had just kind of come out of this journey with your daughter, Ava, who as a very young child, she was diagnosed. Is she like five, four? She was young.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. She’s four, about to be five. Yeah.
Brad Johnson: Four years old. And it was blood cancer, correct? Leukemia. Yeah. And I just as a parent of three kiddos, we had the chance to do a little family workout. It was fun. Like, my boys and my daughter were working out side by side with Ava out in Tahoe and that was a fun little session. So, thanks for putting that together. But this girl’s like going to do something really cool. Like, she’s got that drive. She’s got a lot of her mom and dad in her and wouldn’t have even known it had I had not known from reading the book and everything. And so, we’ve talked about mindset and whether it’s just in life in general or whether it’s business as an entrepreneur, it’s only a matter of time before that first obstacle, that first slight curveball that’s just going to throw you way off track and the adversity. And I can only imagine as a parent who is also competing, running businesses at the time, that had to be an absolute body blow. So, we’re on mindset. Let’s talk about mindset around adversity and how you tried to lead your family through that, support a daughter through that journey who now, by the way, is five years cancer-free. So, love that. But, yeah, I just love to hear your thoughts on that because, man, that had to be just a tough season for you.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. I mean, yeah, very tough season. Yeah. I mean, look, I’m grateful for the CrossFit Games that I was able to develop these skills because those skills actually translate really well in real life. And I think it’s one thing to talk about it. It’s another thing to actually practically go through it and see it come to life real time. You know, when you’re training day in and day out in the garage, and for anybody who’s listening to this podcast, if you do not regularly exercise, you are missing out on the greatest gift you could ever give yourself. Like, I’m going to just say that one more time. If you’re listening to this podcast and you’re not walking, if you’re not doing any form of physical fitness, you’re truly missing out on the greatest gift you could possibly give yourself, not only because of better health markers, to look better naked, to remove sedentary activities you can get out the toilet, all those kind of things we already know, but also just in between the ears. You’re doing something you don’t necessarily want to do so you’re building up your confidence, you’re exposing yourself to hard things, and you’re learning how to overcome them in a very constructive way. And I just think that it’s the greatest gift because life will throw you curveballs.
Everybody listening to this podcast has gone through some type of curveball, and the more you could callous or train your mind to overcome them the better. So, go out there and start walking. Do something. Anyways, back to the topic at hand. The gift of CrossFit gave me was this idea of positive self-talk, this idea of understanding what’s in your control, and you can utilize that in situations even like with Ava. And we’re very, very fortunate. So, it’s two and a half years of treatment and during that time, we spent a lot of time in the hospital, a lot of time. In for a month, out for a week. In for a week, out for three months. In for a day, out for whatever. And it’s just like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A lot of the things that are outside your control but I think if you can focus on what’s in your control, which is serving my daughter, how can I serve her? How can I make sure she’s comfortable? How can I be her number-one advocate, period? How can I educate myself so much on this disease that I’m going to be the expert? I’m going to educate myself. I’m going to know everything about what she’s getting treated for and why she’s getting treated for. Those are in my control. And once I really started diving into those things, it was really helpful. And obviously, using positive self-talk, we saw beneficial things happen.
Meanwhile, keeping relationship strong with my wife was critical during the time so I think having those weekly date nights has been really important. I read the book, this is your recommendation, Family Board Room. And at the end, he talks about this idea of like doing dates with your wife every couple of months. My wife, I do it every week and I think the advice he gave, which I found to be interesting was come prepare with some type of question, which I thought was kind of cool. But anyway, to your point, when you face adversity, especially with your children, it’s very difficult because you would trade places with them ten times out of ten. Anybody would. And I think that those are the mindset tools you can develop now if or when life throws you a curveball, you’re better prepared to handle it. Because I’ll tell you, we saw a lot of tough things and the people who got through it better were able to try and keep a positive mindset through it.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I can imagine. But back to what was in your control and what wasn’t like it worked when you were competing. You just applied that same lesson and mentality to life. Obviously, if you could take on that illness yourself, you would in a heartbeat but you couldn’t control that. So, it’s like, “What can I control? I’m going to lean in there, keep the relationship between the spouse as strong as possible, support my daughter in every possible way I can through this really rough journey.” And it’s interesting how those lessons can cross over and apply to different places.
Jason Khalipa: They do and I just think that if you’re not, they apply to work, they apply to life, they apply to everything. And we should be inspired at this point to embrace this concept of and wrapping. So, we talked about this last time but it’s like if you could spend a lot of calculated time just developing great relationships, if you could spend calculated, strong, focused time developing your business and focused time developing your fitness, if or when life throws you a curveball, you’ll be best prepared to handle those things. And we’re very fortunate that we had a network of people to support us and we had mindset tools that we had developed and my wife had developed because of our exposure to sport.
Brad Johnson: Well, let’s go to I want to cross over to business. Most people, I think people that know you well and follow you closely know this but I remember just the first time we met. It was like, “Hey, I had a lot of respect for the guys on the ESPN CrossFit Games,” because I knew how hard the stuff you were doing was because I’d tried to do some of it in the gym. I’m like, “That’s next-level training. There’s a true level of dedication that he’s done to get to where he’s at.” So, I respected that about you and admired that about you. What I came to find out about you is you actually are a really damn good business owner as well. And the cool thing we were talking before we hit the record button here, and currently you’re running nine gyms, NCFIT, your brand, a lot of CrossFit-style stuff going on there, and I know you’ve added your own spin on that as well. And then we were talking about the app coming up. Train Hard, I believe, is the name of it. And then you also, as you examined your business and I know you experienced COVID, which was not good for gym owners, but you’ve really shifted and said, “Okay. Yes, I want to be in the fitness space, but even that model has evolved a ton.” So, let’s go to the business lessons and start to explore some of that. So, I don’t know if you want to start with COVID and the curveball that threw or where you want to dive into that.
Jason Khalipa: Why don’t we start from, you know, because I think a lot of people here probably are interested in business. In 2008, I opened our business. I opened our first gym. It was in a 1,500-square-foot small retail, or excuse me, small warehouse, and I signed a six-month lease. And I basically told myself I’m either going to be successful enough that we expand out or we’re going to close shop. So, we ended up going from that location to a bigger location, a bigger location, a bigger location, but never opening a second location, just bigger, right? And then shortly thereafter, like a year or two later, we ended up opening a second location and a third location, a fourth location. At that point, we’re owning and operating these brick-and-mortar gyms and we signed a big corporate wellness account because we had done a lot of stuff with like local companies. We did some stuff with GoPro, a bunch of different people. We were just bringing equipment and whatnot. Long story short, we ended up getting a corporate wellness account with Western Digital, and that took us globally starting in 2011. And so, we opened up 15 locations with them all over the world, Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia.
So, I travel a lot. Looking back on it, it was a really cool time. It was obviously a lot of work. So, I was trying to compete professionally, open these locations, and have a family but that’s what we did. So, we had the brick and mortar, we had corporate wellness, and that built up our business and obviously, I was competing. Then we started saying, “Hey, you know what? We need to have more streamlined approach at our gyms. We don’t want to have one gym doing something, this gym do another. We need to streamline it.” So, we said, “All right. Well, let’s create an app for our own coaches so every day they go on there, they know exactly what to do, what succession plan, how do you scale it, daily video, all that kind of stuff,” all digital resources so the coaches could have some guardrails on their class. Well, turns out that that was something that other gym owners needed as well. So, we ended up selling it to other gym owners through a digital space. That’s our B2B model. So, over the years and through COVID, obviously, a lot has changed but where we’re at today is that NCFIT owns and operates brick-and-mortar locations in retail spaces now that are really nice.
We provide quarterly or even more coaching development for coaches like curriculum, like we do like webinars for them, and we serve gym owners through our app. So, we have a B2B app that’s very successful for gym owners. So, we have a digital model and a brick-and-mortar model for the NCFIT side. What we realized though is that I’m interested in other things and our business has evolved. Like, I’m not the same person I was when I opened the company. I was 21 years old. I’m older, I’m a dad, had two kids, and my interests have changed. I’m no longer interested in just being the fittest on earth. I want to also be able to protect my family. I want to be able to develop skills. I want to expose myself to new things, including jiu-jitsu and others. And so, I wanted to try and provide for dads who want to be better protectors, better providers, better, more fitness. I want to provide them a resource. And I wasn’t serving them well because NCFIT was so focused and is on gym owners and coaches and brick-and-mortar members. But what if you live in Kansas and you want to engage? You’re like, “Dude, Jason’s like crushing it. He’s fit for his family. Like, I want to do his type of workouts.” We were not serving you well, and so moving in the near future, underneath the umbrella will be the Train Hard brand and the Train Hard App by Jason Khalipa will have three different types of programs on it, one to act the part, one to look the part, and one to never get to zero.
And so, it’s three different workouts. It’s based on what you’re doing. So, if you want to act the part, strength condition. Let’s go. If you want to look the part, it’s the more bodybuilding focus. And if you want to never get to zero, it’s like an EMOM, 20, 30 minutes, you’re done. And that’s where we’re going as a business. And sometimes it’s tough. You know, you and I talked about this a little bit where sometimes I’ll reflect and say, “Well, at our height we had 150 employees in all these locations and whatnot.” And sometimes they feel like, are we not doing good now that our business has evolved and we have less employees, but the revenue is good, the profit margins are good? Everything subjectively is good but it’s just not what it was. And so, all of a sudden I think, like, are we dropping the ball? But I think that what I need to reflect on is like creating this vision of what success looks like for the future and just staying committed to it. And that’s where we’re at right now. That’s our journey, man.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. And you said a word in that last statement. Vision. You were 21 when you started the company. You I don’t think were a dad at that time, right?
Jason Khalipa: No.
Brad Johnson: And so, I mean, I look back to my 20-year-old self, I’m like, “Wow.” Man, I was doing some stupid stuff back then but I thought I was mature. And so, as you’ve grown as a man and matured as a man, your vision has evolved and changed. And as an entrepreneur, one of the lessons I remember was I was leaving a really good gig in a prior life to venture out with Shawn, my business partner, and start Triad. We’re right at about three years in now. Scary. Leap of faith. You know, second-guessing yourself. But what I was sure is, hey, there’s something different that I think we can build that deserves to exist in the world of finance. You’ve experienced some of that with Do Business Do Life and the mission that we’re on but I remember reading a note and it was from a founder, and he said, “One of the things that can happen with founders if you’re not careful is you will leave what feels like a prison because you’re not able to build things on your terms and then you’ll go starting building. And then you’ll look up a few years later and you’ll realize you actually built your own prison cell around yourself by your own doing accidentally.”
And where my head went, Jason, is like I’m picturing 2011. You’re flying all over the world, opening up gyms. You’re competing. You’re also now a family man. And my guess is there was probably some red line like there’s not enough Jason to go around. There’s not enough hours in the day to like deal with all of this stuff I’m trying to do all at once. Was that part of what led to the evolution of like, “Wait, I need this business to serve me and where I’m at now,” versus go like open a gym on every street corner which might have been the idea when you were 21? How did that journey play out?
Jason Khalipa: No, I think, it’s a really good question. I mean, I also think recognizing as a business that like– something that I reflect on, too is like, is it contributing 20% to our bottom line revenue or top line revenue and 80% to my stress? If it is, as an owner, you got to evaluate. What is the vision and what does success look like for me? I want to be able to go to my kids’ games. I want to show up everywhere.
One of my mentors told me one time and it just stuck with me. It’s like, you know what? Success is for me, I was like, “What’s that?” Because his house was moderate, but he’d wear $100,000 in watches every day. But his house was moderate. And I knew he did very well for himself. He’s like, “Success for me one day is I want to go to every single college, high school football game, volleyball game that my children are playing. Every single one. Anywhere in the country.” So, his son ended up playing in college and he went to every single game. So, he wants to have the financial means and the freedom to travel to go watch his kid.
And it always stuck with me because he hit two birds with that. He didn’t just say, “I want to have the money to be able to fly somewhere,” right? Or whatever. He also wants to have the freedom to take Friday off if he needed to, to go do those things. And that’s kind of where I’m at in my life and that’s where it’s evolved is that we’ve had to be more strategic. Do I want to have a team of 150 people that are doing okay? And the vision early on was like, let’s create as much revenue as we can and provide financial freedom to as many people as we can. That was always the goal. I want to impact as many people as I can. I want as many places as I can.
But what I came to learn is that what I’d rather have is less employees who are all eating filet mignon and doing really, really, really well than have more employees who are doing okay. I want our people to thrive. And one way that we could thrive is by taking what we’ve learned and expanding it digitally instead of just focusing on the brick and mortar.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. You cued up a quote in my head. Have you ever trained with Tim Tebow? I feel like you guys should have crossed paths by now. But Tim has been really, we’ve had him come out to a couple of Triad experiences and just one of the favorites. Who he is publicly is who he is in real life but show us most down-to-earth dude. Yeah, just a great human.
And he said something at one of our first experiences and he was sharing a story about one of his high school coaches, the difference between success and significance, success is me focused, I focused. Significance is pouring into others and what you live in others. And that’s what I hear that you just shared. You’re like, let’s kind of bring this pack down and let’s massively overserve and pour into them instead of just kind of be like mediocre for a lot of people. It’s actually very similar to Triad’s model, like let’s not work with everybody. Let’s just work with the people that align with top performers, growth-minded, people who want to do business, do life with, and let’s go all in on that and not work with the masses. And it’s fun to be in those sort of communities. I align a lot with that.
Jason Khalipa: And kind of diving deeper instead of wider, like, that’s one of the reasons why, like NCFit has done really well for gymnasts, for coaches, for brick and mortar. But it can’t be everything to everybody, and that’s okay. But if my interest is to help dads, in particular, level up, like I want to help them never have fitness inhibit what they need or want to do. I want to be able to provide them resources and tools if they’re looking for it to be able to keep up their kids. Every day, when my son comes home from school. Every day. Dad, let’s go play baseball. You know how it is, right?
And do you really want to be that guy who says no? You only get so many noes because you’re tired before they stop asking. And I want to be able to help dads be able to do that. Tomorrow morning, I’m doing a Men’s Club Rock 7 a.m. We’re putting backpacks on, we’re rocking. And that really calls to me because I feel like I have a set of skills I’ve developed over the years and I want to go to share with dads because not that complicated because I know how to do it and you got to be inspired. So, anyways, that’s where we’re going.
And I guess the scary part is if I’m being vulnerable about it, the scary part is it’s just not what we’ve done. And I think that’s okay. It’s okay to listen, if it keeps coming back to you, it keeps like pulling at you, it’s okay to do do things. And you shouldn’t be the same person, same company you were 10 years ago. Otherwise, you’re just going to get left behind.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I mean, I shared this in my very first episode because a lot of people, I think, when they saw me live my prior, they’d be like, “Is this dude crazy?” Because I mean, I had it really good and I was making more money. As a small-town farm kid, I remember thinking like, “If I can make $100,000 a year some day, I’m set.” And how it all played out, like, I just remember pension myself, I’m like, “Wow, how did this even come to be?” But the truth is, the sacrifices I was making, the time away from the kids, the family dinners missed, the ball games missed, I’m like, there is no amount of money that can buy that time back with my children.
And my wife and I were just talking. Our oldest is 13 now. It’s not much greater. It’s going to go like that and he’s going to be out of high school. “No, thanks. I don’t want that tradeoff.” Even if it’s five times the amount of money in a bank account, that time is priceless. I will never be able to buy that back.
And we have a very shared common belief there. And I think that’s one of the reasons, like the more I get to know you, the more I connect on a deeper level because there are people that are willing to make that sacrifice. And that’s okay. I’m not judging them. That’s just not me and that’s not the people I want to surround myself with. And it’s fun when you get really intentional in life.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. And I think that we’re getting more and more intentional every day. And I think that it just takes a lot of awareness and kind of self-reflection on like, what are we trying to do? What is success? What does this look like? And again, just to reiterate, and being okay with the fact that things change over time, I think that that’s where McNabb struggled the most, is that some people live in their their glory days. For me, dude, the CrossFit games were phenomenal for me, but they weren’t my glory days.
My glory days are now. I get to watching my kids throw down, like I turn 38 in two weeks. I feel like I’m just getting started, like truly, I do. I feel like I’m just getting started because I’m old enough to kind of have this perspective and growth mindset, but I’m young enough to still be hungry and want to do better in all areas of my life. And so, it’s like, it’s a good time, man. I hope everybody listening, like in their late 30s, 40s, even early 50s, feels that same way.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, well, I’ll tell you what I witnessed in Tahoe. And I’m sure you’ve experienced this with as much as you’ve been involved in sports in your life. Some of the best players do not always make the best coaches, right? That’s it. Sometimes a different skill set does not translate.
Jason Khalipa: For sure.
Brad Johnson: And one of the things that I’ve seen in you, you’re an incredible coach. It’s a testament to why you’ve been able to build what you’ve been able to build so far. But now, the evolution that I saw is you’re not just training adults, guys like me, that next generation of kids, and infusing this, like, just training as part of a lifestyle. Not like work. It’s like, no, this is just how you should be. And I know, my kids, I’m like, “Yeah, let’s get in as many of those rooms as possible because I don’t want them to just hear it from Dad, I want them to hear it from guys like you.” And that’s what’s kind of cool. The next evolution for you is what’s that next generation? And someday, maybe it’s your kids’ kids because I know you’re going to keep getting after it and you’re probably going to be the fittest 70-year-old that you can be.
Jason Khalipa: That’s the goal. That’s the goal, I mean, like, the way that I look at sports is like sports and training, it’s just got to happen. It has to happen because it teaches you so many life skills you’re going to use for the rest of your life. And the way I look at self-defense is kind of brushing your teeth. You don’t really necessarily want to always do it, but you need to do it. That’s the way I look at self-defense for the kids. But when it comes to sports and training, it should just be a part of your life because you’re getting so much more from it than what you’re putting into it. It’s going to be night and day for you. Yeah, and I’m all about it, especially sports and group sports.
Brad Johnson: So, you just cued a conversation we had out in Tahoe. I hope you’re cool with sharing this. I think you will be. I like to say that you mentioned– so is Ava 12 or 13 now?
Jason Khalipa: Twelve.
Brad Johnson: Twelve. And you mentioned a conversation you had with her about her wanting to go out with her friends and you said, “Well, yeah, I would love for you to. And here are kind of the requirements to be able to do that.” Will you share that story because I thought that was such a cool story?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah. So, you know my daughter’s 12. She’s a petite girl and just like many are. And I told her, she was probably eight at the time. And I was like, “Hey, look, you want to go out one day, right?” She’s like, “Yeah, of course.” I’m like, “You want to go to your friends at the mall. You want to go to the movies. You want to go do something.” Like, “Yeah,” I said, “I’ll make you a deal.” I was like, “You could go out with your friends as soon as I feel comfortable with your self-defense skills.” That’s typically like, let’s just call it a blue belt in jiu-jitsu or specific, like, let’s just say here’s a benchmark. I said, “You could choose to start now with me or you could wait until you’re older and then start. Either way, it’s your decision. But the longer you wait, the longer it’s going to take you to acquire the skills that are going to make me feel comfortable. So, would you like to do it?” And she’s like, “Let’s start tomorrow.” I’m like, “Go ahead. Let’s go.” So, that’s the way it created itself. And it’s been good. It’s been fun.
Brad Johnson: Hey, I think you can sell a little bit, too, based on that. It’s like, “Hey, I’ll just give you the option. What would you prefer?” But that’s what I love, it’s like there’s a lesson there in parenting instead of, and by the way, I’ve been very guilty of trying to force kids into, like, what you need them to do, you offered a choice.
Jason Khalipa: This is your choice. And the thing with self-defense and the kids understand this now, they’re a little bit older, 9 and 12, it’s like with my son and, and I try not to be overbearing about it, right? But I just expressed to them like, “Look, this world is a tough place and it is my job to try and prepare you as well as I can for that.” And the way I prepare my son is different than the way I prepare my daughter. They have two different threats coming to them. Like, your son, for example and compared to my daughter, they’re the same age, similar age, they’re completely different, your son is. You don’t have to worry. What I worry about with my son is I never want him to be the bully. So, I need to train and develop his self-confidence so he is never the bully and he always stands up for others.
Whereas Ava, I’m not worried about her bullying somebody. I’m worried about somebody putting their hands on her. And so, I train them very differently. And that’s just the reality of life. She’s 100 pounds and she’s probably not going to get too much bigger, I don’t know, wherever. She’s X height. My son, he’s still growing. He’s going to be 200-plus pounds. Like, it’s just a night and day difference. And that’s why we train them a little bit differently.
Brad Johnson: I’ll tell you the common theme, though, that I’m picking up, confidence, because actually, bullies bully because of lack of confidence from my experience.
Jason Khalipa: 100%.
Brad Johnson: So, what are things– let’s go to dad mode. This is the Do Business, Do Life podcast. That’s what I love about it. You can go wherever we need to go here. When it comes to instilling confidence in kids, I heard the Ava’s story, what other thought processes do you have?
Jason Khalipa: I think you bring up a really good point. And just to summarize, with Kaden, the biggest bullies I ever saw in my life were always the ones that were most insecure. That always happened. And so, if I could develop his confidence by the training, he will never feel obligated to be a bully. If I could develop his confidence through sport, through hard work, through all these different things that develop his confidence, he will have the comfort to be nice and low key. And that’s what we want. We want that controlled confidence and comfort, where he doesn’t have to boast. He doesn’t need to be that guy. He doesn’t ever, ever going to bully somebody. And he also needs to be loving and caring and all the things that we care about in a man.
Whereas with Ava, that confidence comes through aggression, it’s a little bit different. Her confidence, I grab her wrist, I want you to boom. Her confidence comes from training over and over me grabbing her by the waist, me putting her over my shoulder, me doing all kinds of stuff to her so she could develop that confidence that if someone did put their hands on her, she could act immediately and act with violence. And that’s what I believe she needs in that particular situation.
But sorry, I can go off these tangents because I’m just very passionate about it. I just want to really, as a dad, I want to look back and be like, “Did I do everything in my power to set my kids up for success? Did I provide them all of the tools that I wish I had had when I was younger to live a lifestyle that was one where I was loving and caring and compassionate and giving, but also hard working and had the grit to survive in a world that’s going to be tough?”
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I think this is a perfect transition. We were talking right before we hit record. So, CrossFit Games champion three times on the podium, three-time Team USA, seven years in jiu-jitsu, purple belt currently, soon to be brown belt, hopefully, right? And then you said, “Hey, I got this next thing up.”
Jason Khalipa: Oh, yeah.
Brad Johnson: I believe it’s called the tactical game, which goes back to like the self-defense. So, what’s next on Jason’s radar when it comes to just pushing yourself to the next level?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, I mean, I think, physically, I want to continue to learn new skills. I want to unlock pathways between my brain and my body through a bunch of different factors. And so, yesterday, I was using a laser gun. So, if anybody’s anti-firearms, there is laser components that could work similar accuracy components. So, in my life, I’ve done a lot of fitness. Not much of it works accuracy. Accuracy is a tough thing to work unless you’re utilizing a bow or a gun, etc. Yeah, you do wall balls, but that’s like throwing a ball at a wall. It’s pretty easy to me.
And so, for me, I was introduced a while ago. I’ve been training with local law enforcement for years, monthly. I’ve been training and training and training, just monthly. My son and I will go and we will work with the department and we will get trained on firearms. And I’m a big believer if you’re going to own a firearm, you need to be able to be properly trained on it. And turns out, there’s something called the tactical games, which basically blends CrossFit with shooting sports. You do an event, you put 10 rounds on a target. You do an event, you put in another on target, scored.
And it just seems like something I’d really want to test. I’ve never tested myself on an accuracy component. I did it one time in an event long ago. It was like a biathlon, but I just remember thinking to myself, like that was really hard back then to get your hurry elevated and then shoot a target. You got to learn how to control your breath. You have to learn how to– all these fine motor skills while you’re fatigued. So, that’s my next focus, tactical games.
Brad Johnson: I just have a feeling you’ll do okay. I know how you approach things. So, is this kind of CrossFit games level, where it’s televised? I’ve never heard of it so I’m curious.
Jason Khalipa: I think it’s a little more old school than that, but it’s growing. It’s growing from people who are interested in CrossFit, who want to also test their skills. So, it’s a little bit more grassroots. But I mean, they have, I don’t know, 500 people show up to each competition, 500 to 1,000. And there’s a lot of safety mechanisms put in, obviously, And there’s maybe like 12 events throughout the year, and then there’s national championships.
And so, it’s something newer for me, but I’m excited to dive deep and to share. And if nothing else, just look back and be like, hey, what’s my 2023, 2024 goals right now? For the rest of this year, I want to compete at Nogi Worlds, which is in December for jiu-jitsu. And then in 2024, I want to create three goals, like tactical games, maybe some type of jiu-jitsu tournament, something, maybe even an Ironman, just something to say that I’m going to be the guy who’s always trying to push myself and train hard, especially if we have other people who are being inspired by that, like dude, that fires me up. I want to keep moving.
Brad Johnson: Where do you think that comes from, man? I’m sitting here listening. You’re an incredibly driven human. We talked about kids. Going back in your journey, are there mile markers where you’re like, this probably had some impact of what that drive? And there’s a lot of very successful people that are scared to get uncomfortable. There’s a history in your story of like, oh, kind of did okay in the CrossFit games, on to the next thing. This is a new challenge. Where does that come from, man?
Jason Khalipa: I don’t know. I think it’s just an internal struggle with myself to want to level up. And in particular, I mean, the highest level of this is being a dad, the highest level. I need to continue to talk to guys like you to read, to explore, to keep doing that. When I look back on the journey as a dad, you want to always say, “You look at your dad. My dad’s amazing.” And you say, “Okay, what can I take and say, those were amazing characteristics? And how do I improve on them?”
And then I hope my son takes what he’s loved about what I’ve done and improved on those. And the goal is that every generation just levels up on the previous one before it. And I’d say that, I think from a work ethic perspective, sometimes I don’t really know if I equate this directly, but my background, my dad came from Iran when he was 18, 19. His mom and dad ended up coming here during the revolution. They came here when they were in their early 60s and they started from scratch. They went from being super rich in Iran to opening up a dry cleaning business. And they were hustles.
And maybe as a kid, I would be there. Maybe this imparted on me. I don’t know. Maybe it did, probably did. We go there and here these people in their 60s just getting after it in one of the grimiest businesses, dry cleaning, especially back then, it was just nasty and they would just work hard, no excuses. And maybe that inspired me. And then, obviously, my mom’s family, same thing, like just hardworking people surrounded us. And I think maybe that had a lot to do with it.
Brad Johnson: That’s cool. I’m glad we went there. I grew up on a farm in Kansas, throwing hay bales in the summer, fixing barbed wire fence. And this is something I struggle with. My kids are growing up in a vastly different environment than I did, financially, experientially. I didn’t ride on an airplane until I think I was a junior or senior in high school the first time.
Jason Khalipa: Dude, same here. That’s so funny, yeah.
Brad Johnson: My kids had a passport. We could have been smuggling kids out of the country because it was like a five-month-old. And I’m like, how do you even…
Jason Khalipa: That’s so funny. Yeah, the same here. Yeah.
Brad Johnson: So, there was a conversation, actually, a guy named Taylor that’s going to be coming up on the podcast, and we were just talking about kids and the subject came up. And he was in a therapy session and he said he was really worried for his kids, just like spoiling them and having them take things for granted and all of that. And somehow, his wife came up and they were talking about she didn’t come from much and how she’d kind of worked her way into her own success. And the therapist said, “Well, your wife did okay without coming from much.”
And I sometimes struggle with that because as a dad, never went to Chuck E. Cheese once ever as a kid. And I remember I would see the commercials and I’m just like, some day. And I probably took each of my kids to Chuck E. Cheese monthly for as long as they wanted to go, right? And so, it’s this kind of balance you try to play of, give them some of the fun stuff you never had. At the same time, you don’t want them to be spoiled and take it for granted and turn into those kids we all don’t like to be around. So, what are your thoughts just going back and what you learned as a kid? Obviously, that treated you pretty well work ethic. And now, as you go into raising kids of your own, what’s your balance there?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, it’s a really interesting question. So, I did not grow up poor, so I just want to make sure, like I did not grow up poor, but we did not grow up rich. So, we did not travel. We did not go anywhere. We stayed home. We maybe went out to eat like once a month, maybe. Maybe. And that’s even then, it’s like FreshChoice-type stuff. But we always had what we needed. We always had what we needed, we always had put food there and clothes on our backs. So, I’m not saying that. But it was not abundance mindset.
My wife, very much so different. Her dad was very, very successful when she was young. And she’s traveled all over. She’s been given a lot, right? But she’s amazing. She doesn’t take things for granted. She’s hardworking. And we both come from very different backgrounds, although we met in high school, so obviously, we connected there. But I’ve seen a lot of people in my high school. So, I went to a private Catholic high school because my parents did prioritize education. In their sense, prioritizing education meant to go to a private Catholic school. And I met a lot of people there, some with a lot of money, some with not as much money. No one was super poor, but some people were super rich. And so, we were kind of doing okay.
And what I learned through that experience was that the way the parents parented, regardless of how much money people had. If you parented the appropriate way by teaching them the value of a dollar, by teaching them that this is special to be able to go do these things, do not assume that everybody does this. This is special. This is a treat. I think it’s the way that you come off. I think for our kids, they definitely have privilege. They’ve traveled, they’ve done a lot of different things. But we always try and have them keep that in perspective that it’s always please, it’s thank you, it’s being grateful, it’s being very, very blessed. We’re very grateful.
And I think if you have that mindset that nothing is given, this has been earned and you guys are doing great and we’re going to give you this, but you’re not can get everything. When you go to the store, you’re going to get one thing. I think those little micro things over time build character where when someone goes to Tahoe, like for your experience, my children were over the moon. Have they been into Tahoe, they’ve done something similar? Sure, but never that way.
And even if they had done it that way, they’re just grateful to be there, whereas it’s not like it’s a– I guess the difference would be as parents, if we had been like, “Oh, this is fine,” it’s says like, “Wow, can you imagine how amazing this is? It’s beautiful. We get to do this.” Then the kids realize like, this is something special and they keep it at a high level their entire life instead of just being the norm, I guess is the way to put it.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, yeah. I love that, man. And I love surrounding myself with people that can go deep on topics like this that matter.
Jason Khalipa: Well, it’s something I think that a lot. Like, here’s something that, I’m sorry to cut you off. It’s like, I think about this for my daughter or for my son. How do I set them up for long-term success? Yes, with their fitness. But finding a significant other and finding joy and happiness in their life. If we condition them today that it’s all rainbows and unicorns, you’re going to get anything you want, you’re going to do anything you want, we’re going to go to Cabo every week, you’re going to stay at the Four Seasons, if we condition them too much, the expectation of what success is or the expectation of what brings you joy becomes an unfu– like your ability to get there will be very slim. And so, what we need to do is be aware of that, of what are we conditioning our children to think is going to bring them joy. And if we use things that are materialistic, like trips and whatever, it will never be enough because they’re always going to want to seek more. But if we find ways to show them joy through other things and these other events are just things that occur in your life, that’s where I think success comes from.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, yeah. If there’s ever a point where going to The Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons becomes the norm, and like, start with me, if I ever take that for granted, that’s where it starts. And I love your point of like, this is going to be amazing. Not we’re so fortunate, we’re so blessed because a lot of families never get this their entire life.
Jason Khalipa: Exactly.
Brad Johnson: It starts there. I heard once, and I believe this to my core that the greatest gift you can give your children is to love their mother. And that’s kind of what you said there a little bit, you’re like, “How do we model it?” And then all of that cascades down. It’s actually very similar to business. What do you model in leadership? And then how does that cascade to the team? There’s a lot of crossovers in being a good parent and being a good leader at the office, in my opinion.
I know we’re getting close to wrapping up here, but on leadership, in general, because you show up like a leader in the room, you show up at the presence, whether you’re leading a workout, whether you’re leading your business, I’m sure, or at home, what are some thoughts around just leadership and general mindset around that? Any parting thoughts there?
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, I mean, I’m glad you ask that. I know we had talked about this earlier. I feel deeply connected to this right now. And I just want make sure I mention it, this idea of detachment is really, really, really powerful for me. And so, I hope that anybody listening can take something away from this. I was recently at Echelon Front Leadership Summit. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Echelon Front, Jocko’s company.
And it was an FTX course. What they do is they give you these laser guns and you go out and there’s like 50 guys. And there’s a couple of girls, 50 guys, 50 people. And you’re wearing these laser, whatever, and you’re trying to go take down a target. And what you do is you take on a target. And as you’re trying to, whatever, there’s other guys out there that are throwing smoke bombs, playing loud music, they’re trying to create disruption.
So, the 50 of you have different roles as leaders. Some of you guys might be the head, some of you guys might be in charge of a smaller group, some of you guys might not be anything. You might just be an individual contributor, and you need to go out there and go perform the task.
And what they’re looking for is as you lead or don’t lead is what comes out naturally when you’re high stressed. So, this FTX course is really powerful because you get guys who are trying to make decisions, or in the lead role while smoke grenades and whatever are going off and they start freaking out and you see their natural tendencies as a leader that might come up more in business. So, it’s not a tactical course. You’re not learning how to– they’re trying to see what leadership principles are you not incorporating well.
Anyways, one of the leadership principles that I found the most impactful was the idea of detachment, and detachment from your ego, your emotion, and your perspective. So, I just want to share the way I think about that. So, someone comes in late for a meeting, let’s just say for you guys. For us, maybe it’s late for a class.
And immediately, when someone walks in the room, your ego gets caught off guard because you are saying, “Why is this person late for a meeting?” All of a sudden, it’s attacking my ego. Am I not important enough that you would show up on time, for example, right? That’s your ego getting in the way and it comes off. The energy initially comes off. Then you get emotional. Maybe you react by saying, “Oh, thanks, Brad, five minutes late.” That’s an emotional reaction. You never make a good reaction when you’re emotional about something.
And then finally, you’re looking at through your perspective. Your perspective is Brad’s late for a meeting. He’s disrespecting me. He’s cutting into my time. But maybe Brad’s perspective is totally different. You have no idea what he has going on in that day. And so, the lesson here, and I’ll use my analogy. The CrossFit Games one year, we were competing, we were in like some final events and one of our team members, tore her ACL at an an event. And at the time, I didn’t detach. I act emotionally. I act with my ego in the way and I do not look at it through any other perspective other than my own.
And so, when I look back on that situation 10 years down the line, what I needed to do was take a step back, take a deep breath, and just detach from those different things. Am I walking into this meeting? Am I walking into these situations with my ego, my emotions, and my perspective detached? Because I find that we all come to it from a different perspective. So, imagine this person who comes in late for your meeting. What if they had found a woman on the side of the road who their tire was popped and they need to help them replace the tire?
This is a true story I’ll share with you. One of the guys, his name is JP. He’s a Navy SEAL, former Navy SEAL. He shows up 5 minutes late, 10 minutes late for jiu-jitsu class or a CrossFit class, shows up late. The instructor says, “Hey, frogmen, go ahead and start doing some burpees in the corner. We know that you guys are always on time, but not today.” And his response, “Roger that,” and starts doing burpees. He never goes back to that CrossFit gym again.
The reason why is that that instructor did not take the time to detach from his ego, his emotion, or look at it through any other person’s perspective. What ended up happening, this is a true story, on the way to the gym, JP had found a woman with a flat tire and helped her change it and then get back on the road. If all that instructor did, had walked over, like, “Hey JP, what’s up, man? You’re never late. What’s going on?” And JP had said, “Hey, I was helping this situation.” All of a sudden, what would happen? It would have just deflated the situation. No more with the ego, the emotion, or the perspective get in the way. But everybody comes with their own lens. I think what we need to do is do a better job of looking through somebody else’s.
And that’s what I’m focused on as a leader, is how can I show up on every Zoom call, take a deep breath before I get on and say, “Hey, what am I checking today?” I’m going to make sure that I’m looking at it through Brad’s perspective. He is not the owner. He doesn’t know what’s going on on these facets of the business. So, when he asks a question, when he says something, I need to remind myself that am I communicating effectively? Because he doesn’t have the same back story, the perspective is different. And sure, it’s how I should not be making any decisions if I’m emotional.
Brad Johnson: Love that. And the tough part about being a human is we all have emotions. And one of my favorite quotes between stimulus and response, there is a space if you allow there to be one, right? And that’s where your freedom and your growth comes from. And I’m butchering the last half of that. But where I’ve reacted at my worst is when it was like a crack on a sidewalk. And where I do my best work is when you sit back detached, give yourself space, and then show up how you want to show up. And that works in business and parenting and being a husband. And it’s even the best at that. And trust me, I’ve known that for the last 10 years and I still struggle some days with that and just got to keep putting in the reps on that one.
Jason Khalipa: Yeah, it’s deeply what I’m focused on because it’ll earn more leadership capital with your team, right? You take leadership capital way when you act reactively and a way to not be reactive is to detach. Our emails, our internet, our website all shut down. It’s a couple of months ago. And when I got on a Zoom call, I was emotional. My ego really wasn’t in check, but I was emotional and I acted as such. And all of a sudden, all that leadership capital I worked so hard with my team to build up, when they look at me as this guy who’s really trying to lead from the front to do the right thing, I just knocked it down 10%, it’s like dammit. I worked so hard to build that up, but any time you act irrationally, you take away leadership capital from your team.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. All right, my man, I know we’re right at time. Here’s my last question for you. You know this is the Do Business, Do Life podcast.
Jason Khalipa: Do Business, Do life.
Brad Johnson: You experience Do Business, Do Life in person. So, I would love to hear Jason Khalipa’s definition of what Do Business, Do Life means to you.
Jason Khalipa: Do Business, Do Life to me means exactly what you put on, which is combining what you do to make money with what you do for a living, meaning together. So, it’s doing business and it’s doing life together. It’s not this idea of work-life balance. It’s finding a way to combine the two as one beautiful synergy to lead a success for your overall family. And that’s exactly what you’re doing and that’s what I’m trying to do. And bringing my kids along this journey with me, that’s doing business and doing life and exposing them to all the things that I wish I was exposed to as a kid.
Brad Johnson: Well, I’ll tell you what, one of my proudest moments, by the way, I don’t think I shared this with you. By the way, I love that definition. You had to fly out a little early because you were going to commentate for the CrossFit Games and you’re like, “Dude, my wife and kids don’t want to leave.” And I was like, “Good. We did this right then.” We created an experience for you guys too, because one of the things I’ve just seen over the years is there’s a lot of really cool events in our industry, a lot of cool keynote speakers that get up on stage and do their thing. I was like, “No, thanks. Let’s bring who we bring into the community and just let them experience it along with everybody and create access.” And I want it to be as fun for you as I hope that it’s fun for our community. So, it sounds like we at least got some of that right?
Jason Khalipa: You nailed it. We’re in the ride home. Like, when are we doing it again? I’m like, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” And almost every other week, like, “Hey, so when’s the next DBDL event?” I’m like, “Well, I don’t know. Let me talk to Brad.” I was like, “Just take it. Take all of it.”
Brad Johnson: I love it.
Jason Khalipa: And so, you’re doing it right. I think if you’re a financial investor out there and you haven’t had much exposure to these guys, you’re not just talking the talk, you’re walking the walk when it comes to that. And that’s really important. So, thanks for everything you’ve been doing too.
Brad Johnson: Well, thanks, Jason. If you want to be back to one of our experiences, you’ll be back. There’s an open invite. So, we’ll talk about that when we’ve got more time. But thanks for the conversation. Thanks for carving out the time. I always get better every time we connect and have these conversations, so until next time, hopefully in person.
Jason Khalipa: Let’s do it.
Brad Johnson: All right.