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How Entrepreneurs Get a Better ROI From Investing in Their Own Fitness
You can do your best work if you don’t feel your best and studies have shown that working out is a good way to increase your business’ ROI even as you spend less hours at the office.
Brandon Epstein has taken these lessons to heart and with a partner started a company to help teach entrepreneurs and business owners the science of getting fit to benefit both themselves and their businesses. And it’s more than just a regime of healthy eating and lifting weight- his whole approach is to help people become better connected with themselves so they can put the best version of themselves forward.
He is a big believer in mediation and finding your right path- and then charging up it full speed!
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Listen right here:
Matt: Welcome to the Entrepreneur Talk Podcast. I have the pleasure of chatting with Brandon Epstein here from Zen Dude Fitness. Thanks for taking the time, Brandon. I’m definitely looking forward to the conversation. Why don’t we kick it off? Give me a little bit of your background, a little bit of how you got started into what you are doing now?
Brandon: Let’s kick it off, my brother. Alright. So, background. I’m kind of an accidental entrepreneur. I didn’t really know what entrepreneur was. But back when I was in college, I was really into the mental aspects of performance. So, they convinced a health foundation to sponsor a research study I did looking at the effects of meditation specific [inaudible 0:03:00.6] created on strength performance – decreasing stress and increasing perceived happiness. When I graduated college, I was like “I should get a job. Work something, right?” So, I was like “Well, I don’t like a traditional job.” So, I tried to get some positions to continue research in neuroscience or sports psychology. No one wants me, man. I’m done to just creating a mobile app company with my buddy. I took their protocol from my health sponsored research and I brought that protocol to mobile app. So, I help people increase their strength. I help people sleep better [inaudible 0:06:12.0] lives. I did that for a couple of years. I was really sick of being behind my computer playing with analytics because I like to talk to people. The last couple of years since then I’ve been transitioned into Zen Dude Fitness. I am really optimizing fitness for happiness. We work with a lot of entrepreneurs because I just think its fun to talk to people who are high performing and want to optimize their lives.
Matt: Definitely. So, this is the story I hear from entrepreneurs all the time in terms of – anytime you ask anything about work-life balance which obviously includes taking care of your physical self. Their like, “Man, no time! I got to do the business. I got to work. I got to make calls. I got to work on the computer or whatever. I got no time for that. I’ll do that stuff after I made my money.” What do you respond to that? How do you get people to portion it out so that fitness becomes part of their life and not something their gonna do later?
Brandon: Well, fortunately, I don’t have to do much selling because there’s been a good amount of research on this topic that actually shows that a CEO who just stay in regular exercise are 5 times more likely to get into flow state and be 5 times more productive. So, they are correlating with flow states with productivity which means you get locked into your zones. You have those “A-ha!” moments. And you really are doing things in your business that move it forward. So, it’s cool that the research has been done. There’s a huge size looking at all these CEOs and I’m like “Alright. How are these CEOs who aren’t exercising performing vs. the ones who are? And the ones who incorporate regular movement into their lives or the ones who are performing much higher and becoming a lot more productive?” So, it’s an easy sell when the science is there because a lot of it when you hear it is like super fluffy like “Yo, man. You should exercise. You should eat right because it’s the right thing to do.” But, a lot of people don’t care about that when you bring it up to them when they are in the middle of some funding or when they are in the heat of trying to get their business going and get it off the ground and move it to the next level. They want to hear, “Hey! This is gonna make you 5 times more productive. Do you want to miss out on that? Or do you want to engage in some regular exercise and read the benefits?”
Matt: Okay. So, there’s an actual ROI. “Alright, I’m in. I got a stand up desk. I’m good to go. Right? What else do I need?”
Brandon: For sure, man.
Matt: What else do I need to do as count as exercise? If I walk up by the stairs to get to my office, am I good? Do you guys have a program? Because there’s a lot of people like, “Oh! I’m so burnt out on the gym. I hate the gym. I don’t want to go and spend 2 hours a day in the gym. I feel like I sweat but I don’t feel like I’m getting a good workout.” What’s your approach? I think you guys have something kinda different in terms of what you’re kinda preaching as the way to do it?
Brandon: Yeah. In the world of simplicity, so, [inaudible 0:09:16.2] people who have been going to a personal trainer for like – going into these like hour long workouts, 5 or 6 days a week for years and they are not getting results because they are not turning the T Codes on when it comes to what’s going to give them the highest return of that time invested – the highest ROI for the activity they are doing. The truth of the matter is like you really only need to exercise maybe a few hours a week and research shows that if you wanna get the perceived benefits of getting in that flow state, becoming more productive and also staving up from depression or feelings of negativity that come along for a lot of business owners. All you need is about 20 – 30 minutes a day. Doing that 6 days a week, that’s like 3 hours right there. So, our program specifically we have people do 3 days of weight lifting, 3 days of jump rope work out which I think one of the finest ways to get in your zone and really enjoy exercising. Long story short, it’s really about just pushing the right buttons. We know that anyone who is like someone who’s getting paid a lot of money in consulting isn’t necessarily putting in more work than the other people; he just knows what buttons to push. And so, what we really try to teach people is that you don’t need to go and kill yourself in the gym. You don’t need to go for 5 mile run every day unless you just really love to run which is cool too. You only need a few days of heavy lifting to get a lot of the benefits that come along with [inaudible 0:10:57.8]. Then, throw on a few days of heat training. So, we use jump rope or you could go do barks or run sprints or do any type of [inaudible 0:11:11.4].
Matt: Cool! So, it kinda sounds like a 4 Hour Body Approach – a book by Tim Farris where it’s more science and more using the right technique in the right amount rather than just trying to kill it with volume and hours and time.
Brandon: Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people try to force things. Right? They equate effort to how they are gonna get results. But, that truly is not how it works. I mean, honestly, some people in our program; we only have them lifting 3 days a week. So, they are really only spending about 2 hours and 15 minutes in a gym per week, overall exercising. They feel great. Their body looks amazing. It just fits what they want and what the outcomes that they are looking for are. So, I think there’s a lot of confusion in the Fitness Industry because there’s a lot of money there to re-package fitness in unique and new ways to tell you that there’s brand new workout that’s gonna work out of anything else or there’s a brand new pill that’s gonna let you to finally drop that wave or a brand new super food that you just started eating that’s gonna change your life where in reality, Tim Farris is looking into the same research we are. Anyone who is at the top of the steel and understands how to apply simplicity to fitness is looking at the same research where it tells us we don’t need to be forcing days. We don’t need to be spending countless time in the gym. It should be an enjoyable process that does take a lot of time.
Matt: Awesome! So, for people that are – you know, you see you come up with this program or you come up with this set of ideas and philosophies and systems for doing this. How do you now get the word out and how do people actually interact with your system other than – I’m assuming its bigger than just your local crowd – the people that you can actually face-to-fact with. You’re trying to bring it to a bigger audience. How do you market it? How do you get it out there and how do you interface with people who aren’t local to you?
Brandon: Sure; our program is a workout program. Honestly, 80% and 90% of the results come from the nutrition program. They customize research and program we give people when they come in. people learn about us, get access to us all through the internet. We don’t do anything in person. Like I told you before we’re on this call, I live in Colombia. My place is really good but not good enough to run and start coaching people. I definitely want to make Colombian Pastes right now. So, everything we do is online. We have a podcast – Zen Dude Fitness Podcast. We have a really nice following on there. We have a YouTube channel – Zen Dude Fitness. We do instragram marketing @zendudefitness. We do a good amount of guest blogging and then featured on a number of big blogs like The Week Daily. We partnered with a software company called On It. all these different channels of concentration are what are pushing traffic back to our site and once they get to our site, they consume more of our concepts. They think we are cool guys and apply for coaching at zendudefitness.com. When they do that, they come into our inner circle. We call it the Zen Dude Dojo. There, we’ll create the customized fitness plan for them which include nutrition and the exercise. Once they get on the inside, we started doing some group coaching where we’ll get on Google Hangouts and help people overcome self-sabotage, negative beliefs. A lot of stuff is really relevant for entrepreneurs because the same thing that holds someone back from making a physical transformation is the same thing that holds someone back from getting over a plateau in their business which is really interesting. It’s really the same core years and blockages that are present there. So, that’s what happens behind the doors [inaudible 0:15:11.5]. We de-program negative beliefs and we interact on a daily business in our Facebook group making sure everyone is on their path because you know, I know, we all know that like when it comes to fitness or being successful on business, the biggest thing is focusing. You have your path, stay on your path. Sometimes, your path pivots and you have to kinda move it around and adjust it but you always have to get back on that path. As long as you stay focus there, as long as you’re consistent on there, you’re gonna have badass results there, man.
Matt: Yeah. Definitely. One of the things that comes up over and over when I talk to entrepreneurs is the ones that make it are the ones that are persistent. They don’t give up. Every day, they’ve taken on their bite whether some days go better, some days go worse but sticking with it is 99% winning the battle and just not giving up, just not giving in. keep knocking down those hurdles one at a time. That’s what gets you results. There are no overnight successes. There are no overnight body transformations either. So, it’s just sticking with it, being consistent. That’s always the key.
Brandon: Yeah. 100%. We have a lot of entrepreneurs in our group and there’s so many parallels that we can bring out between business success and success within their own physical health. It’s interesting when people are able to overcome issues with their body, transcend that and learn how to overcome obstacles physically and creators [inaudible 0:16:47.4]. it’s a really cool blueprint for taking the same process and applying it to business and being like, “Dude, how did you do this?” or taking it by foreseeing someone successful in business and taking it to fitness like, “How did you get results here? Can we take the same path that you went on? Can we buy either business or fitness?” And really, a big part of being successful, I don’t know if you agree with it, is seeing what areas of your life, you’ve done really well in and trying to replicate that in areas where you are weaker.
Matt: Yeah. I definitely would agree. It’s difficult to be successful in an area where you don’t have any strengths. So, if you’re smart and you’re self-aware, you’ll identify what your strengths are. You play to your strengths and then you surround yourself with people that can help you in areas where you are weak. So, I may be motivated to get fit but I may be weak in an area of knowledge of how to do that right. Then, I’d then work with you. You’ll help me where I’m weak in a knowledge area. I’m strong in the persistence and attitude. Together, with the pieces all in place, I can be successful. But, it’s hard to be successful if you’re not self-aware enough where you are weak and where you need help.
Brandon: Yeah. Absolutely. Self-awareness is everything. I actually just wrote this article called 12 Zen Quotes that are Going to Help You Succeed in Your Fitness Plan. There’s a lot of overlaps in Zen Plus and being successful in Fitness, business as well, but, I apply it for fitness because a lot of issues about becoming self-aware and really being in the moment and understanding like, “What am I doing with my time right now? Am I mindless the eating? Or if you’re working, am I mindlessly checking social media on autopilot instead of doing the things that I need to do or instead of eating the way I’m supposed to eat or instead of engaging with life the way that I know I should?” Right?
Matt: Definitely. Being in the ‘now’ as they call it is one of the hardest challenges here. Constantly, the ring about things that are gonna come up or worrying about things that have already happened, it’s tough to disengage and say “Okay. I just want to be here where I am right now and be with this.” That’s one of those things that people pay tons of money to go and learn how to meditate so they can get there. That’s one of those things that is a great thing if you can do it but it’s a lot harder than it sounds to do.
Brandon: Yeah. It’s like anything else if you condition the ritual by just sitting down and just trying to watch your thoughts for like a minute. Or like anything else. You just strengthen that muscle and I believe everything can be trained. Everything is a muscle. The marketing is like a muscle – just learning to look at your business in a certain way and building that muscle to know how to market or building that muscle to know how to do public speaking. Building that muscle to be able to meditate and be present. To me, I just like to think about life as in like anything can be conditioned and just because you’re weak at it right now doesn’t mean that you can’t be strong at it down the road. Is it necessarily try to turn every weakness into a strength? No. a lot of times you can find people who are gonna complement you and help make up for some of your shortcomings where you’re not so stronger. But health is one of those things, much like marketing, that I think every person, business owner, this is something that you need to master at some point or another.
Matt: Definitely. So, where do you guys go from here? I mean, how does it grow beyond what it is? Is it just more content marketing? More getting the word out? or do you have other plans in the works for getting this thing even bigger than where it is now.
Brandon: Yeah. We have lot of plans. We’ve only really – My business partner, we came together on this about 4 months or so or go really seriously. Both of us, we’re kinda dabbling last couple of years in this fitness niche. So, we’ve seen some rapid growth lately especially in the podcast which has been awesome but it comes down to just constantly trying to create the best concept, really diving into our community and being like “What are you struggling with like? What don’t you understand?” and constant relaying all of their consent back to answering these questions. Providing solutions to problems people have physically, emotionally, spiritually, whatever it may be. Trying to offer solutions and then doing everything we can to distribute as much as possible. We would love to get on the tool where we are going around the country back in the U.S and working with different hip-hop artists and urban communities to try to spread this movement. That’s what we’re looking at with some partners right now because it is the coolest, most fun thing you can think of. But until that, it’s just constantly finding new partners, new people to partner with to get our message out to more people.
Matt: You mentioned you got a partnership with a supplement company? Is that a key piece of the overall program? You mention nutrition too is a big part of the results. I guess that all works together?
Brandon: Yeah. The nutrition aspect, you don’t have to buy anything from the supplement company to implement that at all. We work with this company called On It just because they are very cautious company and we just believe in the supplements they have. But, by no means does anyone have to take supplements to reach their fitness goals. It’s not necessary but it can enhance performance. It can supplement your diet when need be and if you get, you’d find out “Hey! I’m deficient in some of these micronutrients.” Well, then you can go to supplementation for sponsors like companies On It that we work it and they can help support you with that. But, we start with just whole foods and build from there.
Matt: Yeah. That makes sense. I think supplements are just like additional health. They are not required but a lot of times they can be the extra rocket fuel that gets you there faster. That definitely makes sense. On another topic, one of the things I always find interesting is when businesses are run by partners because sometimes that works really well and sometimes it’s a struggle. How did you come together and how did you kinda figure out who’s gonna do what or have you work together in a way that’s harmonious? Because I know that’s a big challenge for a lot of business owners and partners in particular.
Brandon: Yeah. Fortunately for me, my business partners are also like my best friend. It kinda came together in a really interesting fashion. He was falling what I was doing in the fitness world before we actually met. He tweeted me. he’s like, “Hey man! You’re really cool stuff you’re doing.” I tweet him back and said, “Thanks dude!” And then, he came up to me in the apartment complex I was living in Austin, Texas, “Hey dude! Are you selling service?” I was like “Yeah. I am selling service. Oh! I tweeted you.” In turned out, we are living in the same apartment building. So it was kind of meant to be.
Brandon Yeah. At that time, he was kinda doing fitness thing on a zone but was in a corporate scene – still working it, crashing it honestly for doing sales for a tech company. I coach him for a little bit and got him over a lot of the mindset issues he had with like getting out of the corporate scene and moving into entrepreneurship full-time. And then, he did it. we just became really good friends. We continue do our own business. After a while, we’re like, “Man, we’re best buds. Wouldn’t this be a lot more fun if we did it together?” I mean, he is the yang to my ying. Honestly, I’m way more chill guy. He’s much more eccentric. So, the combination works really well and I think the key to the partnership that we have is communication. If I don’t ever like something that he’s doing, I say it. if it doesn’t like it, he’ll say it. no one’s taking a thing like a personal attack. It’s like, “Yo, man. I love you. I want the best for you. I want the best for this company. Let’s discuss this what’s happening right now.” I have a hard time to do spell check of things. I have a hard time I just forget to do it because I’m meathead sometimes. So, he gets on me like “You need to spell check things before you release them.” I’m like, “Dude, you’re right. We need a person to slap me in a face every time I’m about to post a piece of content that hasn’t spell check.” So, it seems like that. We’re both on the same mission. We want to make the world a better place. We want people to be healthier, happier and enjoy their lives more. Just going at that with another person, for me, is a lot more fulfilling and a lot more fun.
Matt: Well, I think you nailed it on the head when you said communication. So many times partnership issues arise because one partner doesn’t want to talk to the others. “That might make them mad so I’m not gonna bring that up now.” It’s not gonna get better later. Communication is so obvious but it’s so important. So, let me just ask you a final question here before we wrap it up because you work with so many entrepreneurs. This question gets thrown to me a lot so I’m gonna pass it on to you and see what’s your answer. Although, I think we’ve already touch on it a little bit. But, if you were giving advice to somebody who’s thinking about entrepreneurship and they are saying “What do I need to do to be successful? What do you think the key things are that I need to focus on to make sure I’m successful? What would you tell them that they need to work on?
Brandon: I’m a freaking hippie. So, my answer is gonna be “You need to learn who you are.” What I mean when I say that is you need to do a lot of look like asking yourself a question, “Who am I?” see if you can journal and write that down and know who you are because until you like to find you identity and that identity that you have aligns with whatever goal that you set for yourself, it isn’t really hard to get there because you’re gonna be on alignment. So, with any entrepreneur, I start by saying “Hey! Give me a blueprint of what you want to create in your life. All of these beautiful ideas, what your life could be like if you achieve what you want to achieve.” After that, answer this question for me, “Who would you need to be if you’re gonna create this reality?” and then, that’s a really positive discovering, “Who am i?” It’s gonna be very conscious and actually very essential when you decide “You know what, I am someone who is disciplined.” You can even [inaudible 0:28:03.7] like I am someone who only checks email twice a day. I’m someone who only checks social media twice a day. I’m someone who picks one main focus before I even open my computer in the day. I commit to it before I start doing busy work. All that stuff you built into your identity and it sounds kind of like cheesy like “really? I’m gonna build this onto my identity?” Yes. You need to eat and live and greet the identity that you need to create the result that you want in your life. This is cool stuff man because this is actually the stuff that we do in our coaching program as well as people because you need this to create successful business and you need it to create a successful physical health as well.
Matt: I think actually that’s a really cool answer. I’ll give you kind of a different example from a different angle of how that exact thing is applicable because a lot of times people they’re like “I want to own my own business because I want to have a million dollars.” They sort of default to the money. But you talk to him for a while and you find out they really like to work with animals. You learn a little more and you’ll find out they would be so happy like they’d be willing to pay. Never mind get paid to do a certain thing if they could work with animals maybe running an open air dog camp or something like that. That’s their real passion and that’s what they love and they forgot the million dollars. That has nothing to do with it. If they can do their passion, they would love it so much. They do it so well. Down the road, they make 3 million dollars or 10 million or whatever because they are so passionate about it and so fit to who they are. If they would look at it from that angle, forget the money. Forget the other stuff. Figure out what you really are. Figure out what’s gonna make your day with excitement and passion. Do that and other stuff will come. But if you’re trying to force yourself, round peg, square hole, it’s never gonna work. You’re never gonna feel satisfied. And even if you end up making a good amount of money, it’s gonna be for what. So, I definitely think figuring out who you are is a key question to ask to get on the right path of what real success means for you. Your definition of success is actually gonna make you happy. It’s not gonna make other people impressed or whatever.
Brandon: I agree fully, man. Because why are we here for? We’re here to have the ultimate life experience. The ultimate life experience doesn’t mean having a certain number in your bank accounts. It means having a certain feeling and that comes from doing what you want to do.
Matt: Definitely. My favorite experience is our experiences. It’s never been “Oh! I remember the day I checked my bank accounts, it was this much.” It was always like the day I tapped out on [inaudible 0:30:48.7]. I still can picture that perfectly in my mind. To me, that’s worth a million bucks. Forget the money part. Those kinds of experiences are priceless to me and so my goal in life is to put myself in the position where I can maximize the number of cool experiences I can have. It’s not about a bank account number. I think to your point, if people know who they are and what they want, they’ll be focused in the right direction of achieving those actual goals. So, very cool idea. I think that’s something that’s key. If your program helps people figure that out, that alone to me is worth the price of admission.
Brandon: Yeah. Absolutely, man. That’s a crucial part because you don’t want to have an incomplete life. You want to feel whole in everything that you are doing. So, I have a hard time just teaching people like fitness because I think creating a holistic life for everything is kinda optimized for what you want or at least the direction is. It’s really intrigueal.
Matt: Definitely. Well, thanks so much. For people who are interested in finding out more, getting to be involved in your program and just checking you out, where should they go and look for you?
Brandon: Absolutely. You guys can go to zendudefitness.com. Click on the coaching tab and you can apply to work with us there in our program. If you want the direct link, its author.zendudefitness.com/coaching.
Matt: Awesome! You mentioned the other connections as well which I’ll put on the show notes on Instagram and all the other social media outlets where you can be found. It sounds like you do a lot of guest posting too. I’m sure a Google search will turn you up all over the place which is cool. So, thanks so much for taking the time. I had a great time talking with you. I think were on the same page in a lot of the stuff. It’s always nice to hear it from somebody else. It’s not just me thinking these thoughts all by myself.
Brandon: Yeah, Matt. Nice to jam with you, man. It’s a pleasure.