Reasons Crossfit Will Make You A Better Entrepreneur


Why Exercising Is a Higher Priority Than My Business

There’s a prevalent attitude among entrepreneurs that the business, whatever that business is, comes first. It is the high priority that trumps everything else, including family, friends and especially health.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs sacrifice all these things, sometimes with tragic consequences, to focus on making their businesses successful. I’ve also done it myself, although I’m one of the lucky ones. During the years I made my business my highest priority, my wife stuck by my side, I didn’t cause any permanent damage with friendships (although I certainly didn’t nurture any) and I didn’t die.

It’s not greed that motivates us entrepreneurs. It would be difficult to justify the sacrifices we make if the only reward were money. Dollars become mere points in a sort of game. What it’s really about is building something great, doing something that matters and changing the world. That’s what makes it so easy to brush other things off. But it’s a mistake. I know that now, and that’s why today I care more about exercise than my business. But it’s not easy.

I have a growing business with 14 team members. These men and women rely on me to make sure their paychecks come on time, that benefits are there for them and their families, and that obstacles are removed so they can get their work done. We have approximately 40 clients, who are depending on me to make sure they’re getting the results that will help their businesses grow.

This adds up to a lot of tasks, and a lot of pressure. On any given day there are easily 100 important things I should be doing for my business, 50 of which are also urgent, but there is no way I can get more than 10 things done. And yet each and every week I spend at least 10 hours on focused, physical exercise.

I schedule my workouts during the workday and prioritize exercise over all my work activities. There is some flexibility, but if there is a conflict between a trail run I need to get in, and a meeting with a client, I’ll reschedule the client meeting first. I do this because I and my business can survive the consequences of rescheduling a client meeting, even if it means losing that client. But as soon as I start pushing workouts off, I’ll start missing workouts, and once I start missing workouts, I’m close to stopping workouts altogether.

Exercise must come first, or it’s unlikely to happen at all.

If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control. It’s easy to measure. Either I get it in, or I don’t. When I do, it lifts up all other areas of my life, including my business.

For a long time, I was fooled into thinking that if my business wasn’t the top priority, then that meant I wasn’t doing all I could do to make it successful. This is an understandable way of thinking, but it’s completely wrong.

If my life is made up of 10 priorities, then it’s not as simple as saying that if I move the business from being priority two to priority one, that the business is going to benefit. The trick is to figure out which ordering of priorities provides the maximum overall benefit.

For example, when I exercise, that makes me better in every role I have, whether it’s as a husband, father, friend or entrepreneur. If I were to stop exercising because I felt that being a good business owner was a higher priority, then ironically I would end up a worse business owner than I was when it was a lower priority. Putting exercise first creates a win-win.

As my business grows, I see members of my team falling into the same trap I did. That’s why we’re working to institute health incentives, and why I’m not ashamed to talk about the time I take out of my work day to exercise. I know that if my team members put exercise and health before their jobs, they might work fewer hours, but they’ll feel better about themselves, have more fulfilling lives and they’ll produce better results with the hours they do work.


6 Reasons CrossFit Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

Have you heard this one?

An atheist, a vegan and a CrossFitter walk into a bar. I only know because they told everyone within two minutes.

My mom told me that joke. Yes, she is super hip to popular culture, but that also plays off the running joke that CrossFitters always talk about CrossFit. I’m obviously not doing that joke any justice either, by taking it to the Nth degree and writing an article about CrossFit.

With the CrossFit Open underway (that’s the start of the CrossFit season for you non-CrossFitters, which if we based numbers off Instagram postings would be about .3 percent of the population), I figured I’d put two of the most buzzworthy words together in one beautifully written article: entrepreneur and CrossFit.

The sport of CrossFit was developed by coach Greg Glassman in 2000. It has since taken on a cult-like following and evolved into a world-wide movement. Yes, there are some people that post way too many of their meals, workouts and overall CrossFit activities on Facebook and Instagram (that’s so 2011-12 anyway), but overall this fitness movement has helped make people more active, more health conscious and more athletic. Which, in my mind, is a net positive for the greater good of humanity.

Exercise is a major part of my life, and CrossFit is the vehicle that enables my fitness. Being a startup entrepreneur can be extremely stressful, and CrossFit is an outlet that helps me stay in top mental, emotional and physical condition. The benefits have not only elevated my personal life, but have made me a better entrepreneur in many different ways.

Here are some ways CrossFit will make you a better entrepreneur:

1. Data driven

I love this quote:

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine. — Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape.

You always want to know the data and stats behind a business. If you know the numbers, you can make tweaks, improvements, analysis and projections. It allows an overall better understanding of what’s going on. Crossfit works the same way.

As a team, we track our workouts, log our times and monitor our weight loads. This is beneficial from a macro and micro level, helping individuals track progress, but also gives our coaching staff the ability to track our box’s (aka gym) collective performance.

Monitoring and analyzing numbers in CrossFit has translated to an even stronger analytical capacity in my startup life. I’ve found that the more I’m around numbers and data, the better I get at making projections, predictions and analysis as an entrepreneur.

2. Healthy competition

Every entrepreneur I know is fueled by competition. It may not be as recognizable in some as it is in others, but if you spend enough time with someone you’ll be able to see that competitive nature come out.

For example, I have a very geeky developer friend. He and I spend a lot of time together, and he’s very quiet. The other day I told him I found a framework on Github similar to something he’s working on and that I thought that the foundation they created was better. I have never seen him so fired up as he defended his code, and in that instant, I saw a competitive side I had never seen before.

CrossFit helps keep that competitive nature alive due to that fact that you compete with everyone at your gym. I train with amazing and talented athletes at CrossFit Costa Mesa, so it’s rare that I see my name at the top of the leader board, but there’s a sweet sense of accomplishment and victory when I do (however short lived it is, seeing as how the next day brings a new fitness challenge).

3. Healthy competition with yourself

Like I said, every entrepreneur I know is fueled by competition. Although friendly competition amongst ourselves is fun, what’s more important is to always be competing with yourself. Rather than comparing yourself to others (which is a recipe for failure in life and business because someone will always have something you want), CrossFit has taught me how to focus on personal accomplishments.

Tracking my personal progress, challenging myself and staying accountable to my goals is an area I thoroughly enjoy, and CrossFit has reaffirmed the importance of this process.

4. Increased work ethic

All of my life, I have been a quick learner (and very modest). However, in CrossFit, when attempting to compete at a higher level, you cannot get by on raw talent. CrossFit is about technique, learning the technique and continually refining that technique over and over again.

For example, the coveted Olympic lift called the “snatch,” where one draws the barbell up their shins and into their hip crease while hurling the weight overhead and catching the whole mess while in an overhead squat position. Try to do that without having the proper technique and you’ll most likely end up on one of those CrossFit fail videos.

For the past year, I’ve been working on my form and technique, with no real sign of progress until recently. Even though I didn’t “feel” like I was improving (the data showed differently), I consistently put in the work every day, and I’m finally starting to see the payoff.

That’s the hardest part with a startup. You can work, and work, but may not see any immediate results. I’ve been working on two startup projects for almost two years, and am finally starting to see progress. CrossFit has taught me to be patient with the process, and how to consistently keep working away.

Side thought: The counter to this point would be to fail faster, which I believe in as well. However, that’s the basis for a different article.

5. It will help you disconnect

Being a startup founder is all about solving problems, being resilient and figuring out the impossible. If you’re a startup entrepreneur it’s easy to just lock yourself in a room and just work, figuring things out. I don’t know about you, but the times when I’ve allowed myself to disconnect and focus my brain on other activities have actually allowed me get more clarity on some of the different problems I was trying to solve.

Figuring out the activities that allow you to disconnect, to give you peace and enjoyment in other areas of your life, is critical for startup entrepreneurs. It’s the difference between “burnt out” and “sustainability.” For me, CrossFit has been a great exercise in disconnecting (no pun intended).

6. Mental strength

Building a company from the ground up is serious work (it can be fun, hard, enjoyable work, but anyone that tells you four hours per week is enough to accomplish your dreams is probably selling you something). Pair that work with serious stress, instability and uncertainty, and you can probably understand the high failure rate for startups.

The same goes for CrossFit — it’s challenging and constantly changing (every day has a different workout), and it takes hard work, time and patience to get better. It has been the only fitness regiment that has pushed me to serious physical and mental limits. There are moments when you just want to throw the weight down and walk away, but you don’t (plus, it’s a group setting and everyone is watching you). You figure it out, you keep pushing through it, and you get mentally stronger. This mental strength will help you overcome tough obstacles you’ll face as an entrepreneur.

As my coach Max Mormont always tells us: “This is the place where it never gets easy.”

That stands for the startup game as much as it does for CrossFit. In both scenarios, there’s always room for progress and improvement. Even when you hit a goal, you can establish a new foundation, set a new goal and work to accomplish it.

I’m a firm believer in perpetual development and growth and pushing myself in all areas of my life. In fact, the moment it starts to get easy is the moment I realize I need to push myself more.