4 Ways Leaders Can Boost Their Productivity and Performance the Way Professional Athletes Do

Image credit: Patrik Giardino | Getty Images

I am deeply passionate about peak performance and constantly searching for ways to completely transform my performance levels and productivity on a daily basis. As a former professional athlete, I made this my daily life. Every day, I would work out, eat right, prioritize my recovery and seek out the best trainers and doctors in the world to help me tweak my performance, even if that meant just a small increase.

As I say all the time, I think that one of my biggest competitive advantages when it comes to growing my business is how I take care of my health and being the best I possibly can be.

That belief system contrasts sharply with the traditional view. In fact, for the longest time, the emphasis in the business world has been on leaders sacrificing their health and getting ahead in their line of work. I will sleep when I am dead” was a popular motto among business leaders for years.

Fortunately, the shift in recent years toward health and fitness and the recognition of how that directly impacts performance in the business world has fomented positive change, but a lot of leaders still underestimate how health and fitness can be their greatest asset for growing a business, leading it through challenges more effectively and living a more fulfilled life.

I recently had the privilege of talking with the CEO of Upgrade Labs, Martin Tobias. Tobias is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Upgrade Labs is the world’s first human upgrade center for the mind and body. Its proprietary protocols utilize the latest science-backed technologies in physiology and neurobiology to deliver superior quantifiable recovery and performance results in less time.

The two of us discussed the importance of health and fitness for anyone who’s an entrepreneur and business leader. Here are four ways Tobias outlined that leaders can use to transform their productivity and performance like a professional athlete.

1. Have a cognitive reset program.

When I asked Tobias how busy leaders and entrepreneurs can increase their performance, he responded with no hesitation. “Most CEOs are overly stressed and don’t even think twice about having a game plan as to how they are going to defeat that stress,” he said. “You need to have a cognitive reset program, a way to help yourself be in the present moment and take control of your thoughts.”

A cognitive reset program is so crucial to Tobias that he won’t even personally invest in a company whose CEO doesn’t meditate. Such a program can include a daily meditation practice, time spent in nature, or the simple act of unplugging from one’s electronic devices for a select period of time. In my own life, having a cognitive reset program has been a game-changer.

I know, for instance, that I can alter my state and improve cognitive function in an instant by urning on The Calm app on my phone and going through a guided meditation. I come back more refreshed with a different perspective.

In this context, Tobias advised that, “A great place to start is with the app Headspace. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour a day, having a cognitive reset program will increase not only your performance, but also your resiliency.”

2. Track your performance and collect data.

One of the biggest mistakes people make for sticking to a health regimen and seeing the results they are looking for is failing to collect data on their performance.

“You have to know if your biology is fragile; that’s one of the first things that needs to happen because that will determine the course of action you need to take from there,” Tobias said. Consider Upgrade Labs; it’s got a full blood panel and mitochondrial function test that can pinpoint certain areas of weakness for clients, so the program that they create is completely customized.

Regardless of where you get your tests done, ask your doctor to prescribe a full blood panel test. It might also make sense to visit a functional medicine doctor who can dive a little deeper. The Institute of Functional Medicine has a list of functional medicine practitioners you can search for in your city.

My own workouts, business and overall performance drastically improved when I started to collect data on my biology and track my performance moving forward. I discovered things about my body I had no idea about before getting the tests done. The data you collect could potentially save your life by helping you become intentional about getting the proper tests done and seeing what’s not functioning properly.

Then there are the products, like Fitbit and Apple Watch  that can help you collect data and track your performance. When you take the time to do that, that’s when you can really start to improve it.

3. Become obsessed with sleep.

Valuing sleep used to be very hard for me because I thought that I could catch up on sleep once I got to a certain level of achievement or hit a new goal. And, as an entrepreneur and business leader, it was easy to make sleep a non-priority. This old way of thinking is flat out wrong and will hurt you in the long run.

When I asked Tobias about this, he said, “The ‘sleep when I’m dead’ concept is way out of touch. You can’t change the world or grow your organization to the level you desire if you drop dead because you didn’t sleep.” When you have an enormous vision that you are working toward, it can be difficult to get the rest that you need because you believe there is more for you to be doing the second you lie down. I know that was the case for me.

Things didn’t change until I changed my entire perspective about sleep. I began to view it as a tool that would maximize my day and help me become the best version of myself. Consider the mindset that some of the world’s best athletes use when it comes to sleep. Here is LeBron James talking about it’s important as well as his biggest recovery tool.

So make a sleep for your own life: I go to to bed and wake up at the same time each day. I stay off social media and don’t check email for 30 minutes before sleep. Do as I do: Become obsessed with sleep and watch your productivity and overall health skyrocket.

4. Make fitness a priority.  

Making fitness a priority in my life has been part of the foundation for growing my business at rapid levels and do my job to the best of my ability.

As a keynote speaker constantly on the road, I find my days are never the same. Twelve years ago, I learned the importance of putting my workout on my calendar before anything business-related. Now, the night before, I sit down and prioritize when my workout will be completed the following day and lock it in as non-negotiable.

This simple habit has transformed my energy and impact when I am on stage speaking. It has helped me get the most out of each and every day, regardless of where I am in the world.

The most important thing is to make fitness a priority. So many entrepreneurs and leaders in the business world think that they can get to their workout at the end of the day only if finish everything else on their plate. As Tobias told me, “Work doesn’t come before fitness. It’s the other way around.

“It’s not an extra thing you have to do throughout the day,” he added. “It’s something that makes you more effective and increases your ability to get more done.” Certainly, you don’t have to train like a professional athlete, but you should make your workouts and fitness a priority the way professional athletes do. I tell people all the time that working out and making it a priority is one of the biggest productivity hacks in the world.

So, think about this: Instead of waiting until an unfortunate circumstance occurs that makes you realize how important health and fitness truly is, take action now. Check out the 6th Annual Biohacking Conference coming in April. Or just get out of the office and go for a run.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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

Your Health Is Your True Wealth

When is the last time you not only worked out, but actually followed through on a consistent regimen? The number-one excuse I hear over and over again is, “I’m so busy with work right now, I really wish I had the time.”

Hearing someone talk about how they “wish” they had time to invest back in themselves and work out more often always crushes me. Here in America, we are privileged with options, and plenty of them. Along with those options come decisions.

A majority of studies have proven that over half of America isn’t very good at making healthy decisions. Whether it is someone dying a premature death, 30 to 40 year olds being diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe even having health complications yourself.

Even though Mexico just recently surpassed the U.S. as the most obese country, we don’t fall far behind. What this tells me is that half of Americans have gotten complacent with the infamous, “I wish I had more time.” Very rarely do I watch television, but when I do, I still come across all of these commercials promising us that if you take this pill, you will lose 20 pounds. Or if you try this piece of equipment, you will get the six pack you have always dreamed of.

I have some very disheartening news for you. There is no such thing as a magic pill. And there certainly isn’t a special piece of equipment that will trim your mid section and blast away fat while leaving you with six-pack abs. What does exist, and what can give you the results you are looking for, is commitment. The single best thing you can do to start a new journey towards your dream body and feeling the best you have ever felt is making a commitment with yourself.

One of our most important assets is our health. If we don’t feel well, we can’t do well. How can you expect to get the absolute most out of life if your energy levels are below average, carrying around excess fat, and feeling like complete crap? You can’t! Looking good is just a benefit. It is so much deeper than simply reaping the exterior rewards. The true benefit is what happens within us when we give our bodies the attention they need.

We all have different levels of fitness, and yes, different health conditions. If you haven’t worked out in 10 months, I don’t expect you to work out like someone who does so five days a week. However, I do ask that you make a strong commitment with yourself to make the time. Even if it is just a morning walk before the kids get up.

Here are three reasons why you should make “time” to work out on a regular basis:

1. Happiness!

We all want to be happy right? Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins that produces a happy state of mind. Talk to a runner and they will tell you all about “runner’s high.”

2. Health concerns make you a liability.

I know you don’t want to envision this, but what if you had a stroke because you haven’t exercised in a year? Who is the one suffering? Your children, spouse and the ones who love you most.

3. Get more done.

Why do you think CEOs of some of the most powerful companies in the world wake up ridiculously early to head to the gym? Apple’s CEO Tim Cook can be found in the gym at 5 a.m. What’s your excuse again?

Your health is your true wealth. Don’t neglect it.

Originally Posted On Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits This Holiday Season

healthy holidays

The time is here! Planning parties, shopping for loved ones, an abundance of amazing food, alcohol, and the constant never ending things to do before Christmas and New Years.

During this time of the year, the number one question that I always get asked is, “How can I keep my healthy habits during the holiday season?”

I personally believe if you are just “interested” in living a healthy lifestyle and working out, this time of the year will expose that. On the flip side, if you are fully committed, you will find a way and persevere despite all of the chaos.

Let’s face it, sticking to a workout regimen, eating healthy, and incorporating a healthy lifestyle is no easy task. It takes a conscious effort with a whole lot of self-discipline. Anything that requires great self-discipline usually takes us out of our comfort zone.

As soon as we leave our comfort zone, the excuses tend to pile up and the little voices in our head begin to give us every reason possible as to why we shouldn’t follow through any longer.

Then, add on everything else that comes along with this time of the year. Without a deliberate effort, chances of sticking to your workout regimen and eating healthy become that much more difficult. Now, this isn’t to say don’t enjoy yourself and devour all of the wonderful holiday food with family and friends, but the goal is to not fall completely off like what happens to so many.

I personally believe this is one of the greatest times of the year. Spending time with those we love dearly, eating our favorite dishes, and enjoying all of the holiday festivities that we still remember as a child. Also, this is the time to lay down a firm foundation for the upcoming year. To plan, organize, and set ourselves apart so we hit the ground running once 2014 rolls around.

Here are 3 ways to help you maintain healthy habits this holiday season.

1.) Write it down. Just as it’s vitally important to write down our goals, it’s as equally important to write down our health and fitness goals, especially during this time of the year. With all of the distractions looming, writing down that you want to still workout four days a week and stick to your eating plan five days a week or whatever it may be, increases your chances to actually do so. I write down on a note card and a post-it-note that I will keep to my six days a week training routine and continue eating healthy. This is a constant reminder for me to stick to the plan regardless of what distractions come my way.

2.) Accountability partner. This one can play to your advantage exceptionally well. Talk with a family member or friend who has the same drive as you to keep your healthy habits this holiday season and come up with a strategized plan.

It could be that you guys talk every day, once a week, or every weekend, whatever it is, accountability works! For example, there were times when I got hit with a countless amount of distractions and it kept getting harder and harder. After having an encouraging conversation with my accountability partner, I was quickly reminded that I’m in this for the long haul and must stick to the plan.

3.) What gets scheduled gets done. Just as you schedule doctor appointments, meetings, and important functions, schedule your work outs and plan out your eating routine. This won’t last as long as it sounds. I typically use Sunday night to reflect on the past week and schedule everything for the upcoming week.

If you look at my calendar on my phone, you will notice that Monday through Saturday every workout is scheduled at a specific time along with my eating regimen. This is a game changer.

I hope you enjoyed my 3 ways to help you keep your healthy habits this holiday season. The only thing that matters is that you are able to find something that works for you.

What works for me might not necessarily work the same for you. Play around with it and have some fun. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous, healthy, and happy holiday season.