How a Gym Owner Went From Struggling to Make Rent to World Renowned

20150716195752-gym-onnitImage credit: DeFranco’s Gym | Facebook

One of the most amazing things that I do every week is talk with world-class achievers. These men and women work in different industries, but they are people who have reached the top of their professions and overcame an incredible amount of hardships to get to where they are now.

The one thing I love most when talking with them is their stories. I find it amazing how a great majority of people will call them lucky or reference a saying that we hear all too often, “Well, it must be nice,” when in reality for most of them there is nothing nice and easy about what they had to go through to get where they are.

Entrepreneurship can at times feel lonely. Going into business for yourself can feel like you against the world. At times you may be on top, and then in a second you are struggling to put a roof over your head.

I recently sat down with Joe DeFranco, the founder and owner of DeFranco’s Gym in Austin, Texas. For almost two decades, the best athletes in the world have been coming to DeFranco to get them ready to dominate their sport. DeFranco and I didn’t sit down and talk because of the long list of professional athletes that flock to him every offseason to train, but because of the empire that he has been able to build from the ground up.

Here are three things that you can implement into your own business that can help build it into a thriving and successful empire.

1. Be a master of online marketing and social media.

It’s amazing how many business owners and entrepreneurs still don’t fully use the Internet and social media to their advantage. One of the quickest and most cost effective ways to get your name and company out into the marketplace is through the power of social media. A lot of people dabble in social media and content marketing, but not a whole lot actually take the time to master it and really discover its extraordinary power.

When I asked DeFranco how we was able to go from training athletes in a 500 square-foot storage closet and barely being able to pay the bills into the huge international brand that he has today, his answer was simple: “The power of the Internet and learning everything I could possibly learn on social media and content marketing.”

Get serious about not just dabbling in content marketing and the power of social media, make it your personal business to be a master of it.

2. Don’t just follow, but live your passion.

We always hear the advice of how important it is to follow your passion, but following your passion isn’t really enough. You can follow the things you are passionate about, but if you don’t actually execute and do everything in your power to live that passion, it does you no good. Following and living a passion are two completely different things. One is just moving in the right direction while the other is immersing yourself into something that ignites you.

The successful entrepreneurs that make headlines and change the world don’t just follow their passions — they live it every waking moment.

“I will never be outworked and a large part of that is due to the fact that I didn’t just follow my passion, but promised myself from day one that I am going to live my passion,” DeFranco says.

When you live your passion, you give yourself an enormous competitive advantage that no amount of money can buy.

3. Be you.

One of the most powerful characteristics, at least in my humble opinion, is authenticity. The reason why is because it lets your customers, prospects and everyone else out there know that you are real. The brands that forget the human touch or forget that business is and will always be about people are missing a major component of what it takes to win.

DeFranco discovered the power of authenticity when he was outright about money issues because he was doing so many favors for past clients who were retired and struggling but still wanted to train with him.

“Just by me sharing some personal experiences like struggling to pay the bills and really just being myself did more for my brand than any marketing tactic or plan that I have ever thought of in the past,” he says.

Maybe you aren’t struggling to pay your bills, but being able to open the human side of your business will create a brand identity that people want to be associated with. People like to buy from those they trust. The power of authenticity is incredible.

It’s my hope that these three things will help you in the effort of building your empire just like they have benefited DeFranco for so many years.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Silence the Negative and Hateful Noise and Fight For Your Dream

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Just because someone tells you that you are out of your mind or that you’re dreaming way too big, it doesn’t mean you have to listen!

As an ambitious entrepreneur and business owner, not everyone is going to be on your side and believe in your vision. You will probably have more people tell you what you can or cannot do more than what others will ever experience. Whether these people are just negative in general or envious that you are attempting to live your passion and turn that into a business is really a non-factor.

I am a prime example of what can happen when you silence all of the negativity and go to work on your dream. In high school, I was told I would either be dead or in jail by the time I was 21. When I came to my senses and had a very special moment with the man upstairs, I decided once and for all that I wanted to change my life for the better.

At the time, the only way I knew how to pay back those I hurt and loved the most was through athletics. Right then and there began a whole new journey for me. I proudly went around telling all of my family and friends that I wanted a division one scholarship for football.

People laughed at me, even those who loved me most. What did I do? I silenced the external noise and fought day and night for my dream. Every waking moment I worked on my craft and deep down knew that I was going to make something of myself.

Six months later, I received a total of 19 division one scholarship offers from some of the most prestigious athletic programs in the country.

Once I got to college at Indiana University, it began all over again. I repeatedly was told, “You made it collegiately, but you will never play a down of professional football.” I kept working on my dream and most importantly never lost the faith in myself and what was in store for me in the future. Three years later, I signed a contract with my hometown team the Chicago Bears.

Unfortunately, I suffered an ankle injury as an NFL rookie while playing against the San Diego Chargers. The same old external noise and negativity found its way back into my life. Over and over again I was told how athletes never make anything of themselves once they are done playing their sport. Obviously this isn’t the case for all former athletes, but this is the type of junk that was being said to me everywhere I went.

The injury I sustained wasn’t career ending, but I was out long enough to reflect back on my journey and what I really wanted out of life. This is where I discovered my true purpose. My why.

Five years later, I get to travel the world and speak to people at some of the greatest companies on the planet. Please understand that none of this is to impress you, but to impress upon you. That if I can do half of what I have done throughout 27 years of life, you can as well and even so much more.

It all comes down to silencing the noise, negativity and hate from outsiders who tell you that you will never amount to anything or that there is no possible way that you can get your idea up and running and off the ground. This noise that you will hear from people throughout the course of your journey doesn’t say anything about you but everything about the person it’s coming from. When people see you working towards building a bigger future for yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone, they get envious and wish they had the courage and strength to do the same.

The sad thing is that some of this noise and negativity may even come from those closest to you. Regardless of whether they are close to you, it’s extremely imperative that you silence the noise and fight for your dream every waking moment.

At the end of the day, there aren’t many things that feel better than standing victorious and proving all of the doubters that initially counted you out or called you crazy wrong. Silence the noise and fight for your dream!

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Don’t Wish to Be Successful. Expect to Be.

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We all hope to be successful, but most people don’t expect themselves to reach a level of extraordinary achievement. Rather, they hope and wish for that to be the case someday. Hoping and wishing will never be enough to get you to where you want to go. Going into business for yourself and hoping and wishing will never build a thriving business.

There is a major difference between hoping to be successful and expecting to be successful. When we hope to be successful, we are basically saying we are unsure if it will ever happen. To an extent, this attitude dictates our level of belief in ourselves and the way we work. When we expect to be successful, that means we know deep down that regardless of how hard times will get throughout our journey, that we will eventually get to where we want to go.

There are a lot of reasons why most people just hope for great things from themselves or to reach a certain level of success. One of the main reasons is because they have let where they are at right now in life dictate their ways of thinking. Just because you aren’t where you want to be in life doesn’t mean you can’t expect greatness from yourself. Just because you don’t have the resources and money to back your idea doesn’t mean you can’t expect yourself to build and start an incredibly successful business.

You must stop this way of thinking. Don’t let all of your misfortunes prevent you from expecting great and wonderful things from yourself.

I know you want to be great and somewhere deep within you have the desire to achieve extraordinary things in your lifetime. You read Entrepreneur searching for ways to grow and learn. Or maybe you already are a major success and just love reading ways you can enhance your game. Whatever it may be for you, start expecting greatness in every area of your life instead of just hoping and wishing one day it will all come together for you.

Moving forward, increase your expectations in every area of your life. Don’t wish to be great — expect to be great. Don’t wish to become a successful entrepreneur — expect to be one. Don’t wish to change the world — expect to.

Ultimately, the difference between being average and being extraordinary will all come down to you executing your expectations.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Don’t Forget the Importance of Living in the Now

20150311171621-time-clock-wasting-time-burn-fire-burntImage credit: olavXO | Flickr

Have you ever got so excited about what’s to come in the future that you completely forgot to live in the present?

I certainly have, and I know many others that deal with the same problem. It’s easy to forget about living in the present and direct our focus and energy towards the future, or even worse, the past.

Just last week I had the opportunity to speak to a large group of high school students. I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with the younger generation and share with them not only the tools that will help them become successful, but some of the things I most regret when I was their age.

One of the main things I decided to focus on with them was the importance of living in the now. When I was their age, all I could think about was going to college, and in turn neglected my final days as a high school student. Those are days I’ll never get back. Once I got to college, the same pattern developed. I couldn’t wait to leave Indiana University and start my NFL career.

This was a huge mistake on my part. Sure, it may have worked to my advantage to an extent because I always had a vision of what I wanted in my life, but I didn’t take the time to fully enjoy where I currently was or savor the moment.

Yes, we must have a vision for where we want to go and take ownership of where we currently are, but something that we can’t let happen is to neglect the present. The present is here to help develop and mold us into the individuals we need to become.

Day by day, life is fleeing from us. It’s not just youth that needs to be reminded of this. We as entrepreneurs and business owners need the same reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in the process of building a business that you completely forget to live fully in the now.

Twenty years from now, once you are where you want to be, you will be looking back thinking what a mistake it was to not be as present as you could have been.

We decide not to give our all at work until a problem arises. We wait to tell those we love most how much they really mean to us until we come face to face with death. We forget about our most important values and priorities all to make a living or get an extra bonus.

Regardless of our stations in life, we can absolutely benefit from learning how to live in the now and be as present as possible while still having those long-term visions and plans. One of the major causes of unhappiness is to not appreciate what we already have and focus all of our energy and effort toward what we don’t have.

The older we get, some of our most precious assets will be the memories that we have created throughout the course of our lives. Don’t forget to make a life while you are busy making a living and building a business. There is no better time to start living life to the fullest than right this moment.

After all, not being present and choosing to not live life to the fullest now just might be one of your biggest regrets while on your death bed.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

20 Quotes to Help Motivate You to Hustle Like Never Before

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Building great businesses, achieving massive goals and rising to the top of your profession doesn’t just happen by accident. It happens through a ridiculous work ethic and consistently showing up every single day.

Here are 20 quotes to help motivate you to hustle like never before:

1. “You can’t have a million-dollar dream with a minimum-wage work ethic.” — Stephen C. Hogan

2. “When I was young, I observed that nine out of 10 things I did were failures. So I did 10 times more work.” — George Bernard Shaw

3. “If you have an idea of what you want to do in your future, you must go at it with almost monastic obsession, be it music, the ballet or just a basic degree. You have to go at it single-mindedly and let nothing get in your way.” — Henry Rollins

4. “Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” — William James

5. “Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough.” — Sophia Loren

6. “Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” — Swami Sivananda

7. “If a man is called a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

8. “All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.” — Pope Paul VI

9. “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” — Stephen King

10. “God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.” — J.G. Holland

11. “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more.” — Edward H. Harriman

12. “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” — Marvin Phillips (or an unknown author)

13. “The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves.” — Garth Henrichs

14. “Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” — Marcus Washling

15. “If you feel you are down on your luck, check the level of your effort.” — Robert Brault

16. “You’re either changing your life or you’re not. No waiting for this or that or better weather or other hurdles. Hurdles are the change.” — Terri Guillemets

17. “Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.” — Chinese proverb

18. “He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” — Dutch proverb

19. “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.” — Margaret Thatcher

20. “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” — George Bernard Shaw

Read these quotes. Analyze these quotes. Most important, adopt these quotes into your everyday life.

Something that has worked wonders for me over the years is to write at least one really moving quote on a note card and carry it around with me everywhere I go. Whenever I am feeling unmotivated or in a slump, I take a glance at this card and instantly get right back on track again.

Make it your personal business to never let anyone outwork you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

What Truly Matters Most in Life and in the Game of Business

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Building great, sustainable and meaningful relationships is arguably one of the most important things we can do during our time here on Earth.

All too often, we see men and women who think it’s perfectly fine to neglect their relationships just to move up the corporate ladder or increase their net worth.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You absolutely should strive to get better and advance from where you are to somewhere higher up within a company. And who doesn’t like to make more money and see their net worth increase every year? However, this should not be done at the expense of neglecting what’s most important: relationships.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that creating and nurturing exceptional relationships will actually help advance your career and increase your personal net worth. Relationships and people aren’t just important when referring to living a healthy and happy life, they are also the foundation of creating exceptional businesses.

It utterly amazes me when I see someone neglect a relationship for the sake of closing a deal. It may give you short-term satisfaction and build your ego, but as time goes on, it will do more harm than good.

The companies and organizations that dominate their competition and market completely understand the extreme importance of creating a memorable and unbelievable experience for their customers. They understand that people matter. They understand that every single relationship and interaction matters.

A piece of advice that changed the direction of how I operate and look at business is as follows: “If you want to make a million dollars, serve a million people.” Regardless of what business you are running or what field you are in, when you aim to serve people, build meaningful relationships and adopt the “people matter” mentality, you will eventually win in the game of business.

We live in a technology-driven society, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s unreal the amazing things that technology can do for us these days, but we are at the point where human interaction and relationships with actual people are being pushed to the side by a large portion of entrepreneurs, organizations and companies.

Besides creating a world-class product or having an exceptional service to offer, the quickest way to grow your business and build a loyal and growing fan base is through care. Care for every relationship, interaction, tweet, email and phone call that you come across. Go out of your way to make people feel special. People matter.

These wonderful words from Max Lucado sum it up perfectly:

“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?”

Relationships matter most. People matter most — in life, and in the game of business.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Why Talent Alone Will Never Be Enough

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One of the great mistakes of life is to think that talent alone is enough to be great and become a high achiever. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen talented people get cut from the sports team, go bankrupt after a few years in business or just completely get flat out beat by someone with a lot less talent.

I first came to realize how very little talent means in the long term during my athletic career. Some of the most talented athletes in the world are the ones who you don’t know or never hear of. I was amazed and never could fully wrap my head around how some of the best players I played against in high school never made it to college or how the best players in college never went on to have lengthy NFL careers.

Everyone had a different journey, so I’m not saying that every single case was the same, but when I began to dig a little deeper, there was a remarkable trend that I started to see dating all the way back to when I played sports as a little kid. There was always that extremely talented kid who seemed he or she could do it all. He or she was light years ahead of everyone else and you instantly started to think to yourself how far this kid is eventually going to go. But then as time went on and the older he or she got, everyone around them started to get better as well, and he or she was still relying on talent alone.

On the flip side, you have the kid who wasn’t very good, but through hard work, dedication and perseverance, eventually went on to make it the furthest and even surpass the kid with all the talent. I have seen the exact same scenario in the world of business: The man or woman who is extremely gifted in a particular skill, has a little bit of success and thinks that they are going to go down as one of the greatest in the world. As time goes on, he or she stops nurturing and developing his or her talent and before he or she knows it, a less talented person comes along and knocks him or her out of business.

Here are two ways why talent alone will never be enough.

Someone with less talent is coming with a major chip on their shoulder.

Doug Flutie, Oprah Winfrey and Muggsy Bogues are a few of high achievers who maybe weren’t the most talented or destined for major success from an early age, but through a second-to-none work ethic with a major chip on their shoulders went on to do what others thought was the unthinkable.

 

Just because you are extremely talented at something doesn’t guarantee that you will have long-term success, and the moment you stop nurturing and developing your talent, someone else with less talent is working day and night to beat you.

Talent alone can only get you so far.

You might make a ton of money, reach a certain level of success and even think you made it at some point, but if you stop there, you will eventually fall down. Just as there are so many less talented people who go on to beat the people who are 10 times more talented than them, there are also those who are incredibly talented but who work like they have no talent whatsoever.

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of my favorite examples. I used to be amazed at how the two of these men are arguably the greatest to ever play the game but also work harder than anybody else. How in the world does that happen?

Will Smith, one of the great actors of our time, credits his major success in Hollywood to his sickening work ethic and mentality to die on a treadmill rather than get off before you do.

We are all talented at something, but if we stop there it will more than likely end a disaster. Do something every day, even if a little, to develop and nurture your talent. Adopt the champion mindset that Jordan and Bryant have. Make it up in your mind that absolutely no one will outwork you, regardless of how talented you may be.

I want to leave you with a quote from Tim Notke that sums up everything I have been trying to hammer home in this column:

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com