[Transcript] – Ben Greenfield In The Hotseat: An Exclusive Sneak-Peek Into Ben’s Life Journey, The Launch Of Kion & Much More.

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast From:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/how-ben-greenfield-founded-kion/

[00:00] Introduction/ZipRecruiter

[03:36] Four Sigmatic Foods/This Video on Kion

[07:18] Angelo Keely

[10:02] Where Did Ben Come From

[15:30] How Ben’s Unconventional Upbringing and Education Led to His First Successes as a 14-year old Entrepreneur

[23:10] Ben’s Intro Into Tennis and How he Fell in Love With It

[32:00] Ben’s Adventures as a 16-year-old First-Year College Student

[37:45] The “Perfect Storm” that Brewed in His Year at the University that Led to Take a Deep Dive into Exercise, Nutrition, and Entrepreneurship

[46:45] How Ben Managed to Work 3-4 Jobs at a Time While Being a Full-Time University Student

[50:54] What Turned him Off of Medical School and Becoming a Doctor

[58:40] Guided Meditation with Ziva Meditation Founder, Emily Fletcher

[1:10:40] How Ben Met and Married the Love of his Life

[1:18:15] Why He Gave Up Bodybuilding to Become a Personal Trainer

[1:27:50] How He Was Voted and Won the America's Top Personal Trainer in 2008

[1:32:00] What Spurred him to Write His First Online Training Program and How it Became a Top-Seller

[1:53:45] Why Ben Value Habit, and How Habits Help him Be Productive

[2:02:10] How Ben Came Up with a Company called KION

Ben:  Hey! What’s up? It’s Ben Greenfield coming to you with probably one of the most narcissistic podcasts I’ve ever, ever released because it’s an interview with me.  Yeah, it’s with me.

No seriously; this is a big moment for me.  I’ve been on a podcast before but rarely on my own.  The reason that I’m doing this is actually pretty big, pretty profound, as I’ve dropped hints about it for the past couple of years.  Behind the scenes I’ve been slowly building a brand new company.  I’ve surrounded myself with this ragtag team of health enthusiasts, and hardworking writers, and operations managers, and medical experts, and consultants, and raw ingredient formulators.  We’ve been pouring blood, sweat and tears, and brainpower, baby, into this new company, this new brand, and it launched two days ago.  Two days ago.

What is it? It’s only edutainment like, tons of extremely high quality, well-researched, non-run-of-the-mill content you’ve never seen before, really good articles, videos, whole bunch of new stuff from me.  But, it’s also products I’ve developed along with some of the brightest minds on the face of the planet along with my own superfood hunting around the globe including things like: ketogenic blends, and superfood meals, and anti-aging nutrients, health bars, safe fat-loss compounds, complete gut support concoctions, essential oils.  We’ll be adding health enhancing and biohacking items that you’ll find around my house and my gym bag, but in very high quality, very rigorously tested forms like, infrared and EMF-blocking clothing including tinfoil aluminum hats.  No, I’m just kidding.  Unique travel fitness gear, stuff I travel with that I want to make available to you. Beautiful things like essential oil diffusers, and woo-woo energetic pendants, and journals, and tons of stuff.  So, this podcasts, kind of delves into the journey of how we’ve created all that.

If you’re just itching to get your fingers on some of this stuff right away, the website is GetKion.com.  The name of the company is Kion- as in “Ki”.  The website is GetKion.com, just as it sounds: “get” G-E-T, “Kion”, K-I-O-N.com.  I don’t want to go off for too long, just visit the website.  It’s all self-explanatory and, honestly, it’s all really, really cool.  It’s the next big step for little, old me.

Anyways, in the meantime, this podcast today is brought to you by Zip Recruiter.  So, I’ve been hiring a lot of people, obviously, as I’ve built Kion and if you want good talent, great talent for your business but you’re short on time, and you don’t want to get lost in this huge stack of resumes to find your perfect hire, and you want the right tools and you want the right platform to do it, then Zip Recruiter is the website you go to post your job to over a hundred of the web’s leading job boards with one click and then they use smart matching technology to notify the candidates about your job within minutes. And you get the matches back over to you! And honestly, 80% of employers who post on Zip Recruiter get a quality candidate through the site in just one day.   So, it’s Zip Recruiter- it’s the smart way to hire. It’s the smartest way to hire! And, you can post jobs on Zip Recruiter for absolutely free! Very, very simple, you just go to ZipRecruiter.com/Green, just like it sounds- ZipRecruiter.com/Green.

This podcast is also brought to you by Four Sigmatic Foods.  Four Sigmatic Foods is a company that harvests mushrooms off of trees and in the forest, in places like Finland, and packages them and duo-extracts them.

I just actually got back from Finland where I was harvesting chaga off of birch trees with my boys in the forest.  What Four Sigmatic does is they take something like chaga and they do an alcohol extraction and a water extraction.  They use wild crafted chaga mushrooms.  They do this with reishi.  They do this with 10 mushroom blends.  What I did was I picked some of my favorite stuff from Four Sigmatic and they put it all up on a website for you.  That’s at Four Sigmatic.  That’s F-O-U-R Sigmatic. Four Sigmatic, F-O-U-R Sigmatic.com/Greenfield. And a coupon code you use to get 15% off of any of those products that I adore and use, use coupon code Ben Greenfield to get 15% off over at FourSigmatic.com/Greenfield.

All right!  Enough being said, I want to go listen to me being interviewed.  The guy that interviews me is actually the COO of Kion and one of my co-founders, Angelo- cool dude.  So, enjoy today’s show!  We recorded this in our new Boulder headquarters that we’re building- the Batman cave!  All right, enjoy!

Oh!  And I almost forgot, you can access the video- this is a super high quality HD video- shot in our Boulder location if you want to see Angelo and I doing this whole thing live on video.  It’s highly entertaining… not really.  It’s both of us sitting there talking.  It’s actually a really good video, though.  You go to GetKion.com/Ben.  GetKion.com/Ben.  You can always see what Angelo looks like.  You can see me dressed up in my big boy clothes and sitting there like I’m in a studio-style interview looking all professional.  And, it’s HD quality.  Furthermore, if you go to GetKion.com/Ben  you’ll see all the cool new stuff that I’ve created- which is a lot cooler than me sitting in a chair being interviewed, in my opinion.  Either way, enjoy today’s show!

In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:

“And it was during that time that I had to make some decisions about life.  Where I wanted to go with my life and what I wanted to really do as a career I was gonna be like, a pro athlete and obviously at this point, was it gonna be like a freakin’ computer programmer.”  “I was already making video games at my house like I was diggin’ it plus it was a perfect marriage of my love for fantasy, and also the technology that I was an early adopter of in terms of computers…”

Angelo:  Hey! What’s up? Welcome to Kion.  I’m Angelo Keely, the COO of Kion, and I’m here today with Mr. Ben Greenfield, the visionary and CEO behind Kion.

Ben:  What’s up? But I’m actually, if I can interrupt you, far inferior to you, Angelo, at the fine art of beatboxing.

Angelo:  The beatboxing.  I have that.

Ben:  I have discovered.  Dude, before we even talk, before we even dive into this thing, dude, give me a flavor of your talent.

Angelo:  Alright!

Ben:  Let’s hear it.

Angelo:  [beatboxes]

Ben:  Oh!  I love it.

Angelo:  There you go.

Ben: You know you are going to have to teach that to me someday.

Angelo:  I will teach you.  I will teach you.

Ben:  I know we were chatting the other day and you told me you start with boots and cats.

Angelo:  Yes.

Ben:  So, you just say boots and cats fast over and over again?

Angelo:  Yeah, I do a box breathing “boots and cats.”   Boots and cats, and boots and cats, and boots and cats, and boots and cats, and boots and cats, and…

Ben:  Got it.  Got it.  Alright.

Angelo:  Yeah you’ve got it.  It’s good.

Ben:  Boots and cats, and boots and cats, and boots and cats.  All the way driving home today I’m just gonna be saying boots and cats.

Angelo:  Yeah, you should do it, man.  On the airplane, the people that sit next you, really love that normally.

Ben: It’s probably less annoying than my electro-stimulation devices and gravity compression boots.

Angelo:  Uh-huh, yeah. (laughs)  I would love to sit next to you on a plane, man.

Ben:  It’s fun.  It’s an adventure.  And my green gooey powders!

Angelo:  Yeah.  So, dude, it’s awesome to be able to have, I think, this unique interview today where we’re really going to do a deep dive into “Who is Ben Greenfield?” like where’d you come from? How did you end up here? And hopefully, allow everyone here to walk away with some really awesome tips about how to optimize their body, mind, and spirit.

Ben:  Dude, that’s what I freaking love to do.

Angelo:  Awesome!

Ben:  Is to just talk about myself.  Yeah, no.  I do a lot of stuff that I’m hoping can help a lot of people out as far as daily routines and I don’t know.  I mean, if we talk about my kids or my eating habits or whatever, my goal is for people to get mad value for their lives to get better no matter what we talk about.

Angelo:  Sweet, man.

Ben:  Yeah, man! Well, what do you want to know?

Angelo:  Well, I think it’s unique too because you’re normally the guy interviewing other people…

Ben:  I know.

Angelo:  In these long formats and I feel excited to get to offer to everyone else a more deep dive into you.  So, let’s just…

Ben:  Right, but no one is ever going to be as good of an interviewer as me other than that guy on funnyordie.com who does the Between Two Ferns thing.

Angelo:  Uh-huh.

Ben:  Zach Galifianakis.

Angelo:  Yeah.

Ben:  You’ll be no [0:09:47] ______ Zack.  That’s even hard to say.  You’ll never be a Zach Galifianakis, Angelo.

Angelo:  Wow, I really appreciate the confidence you give me right at the beginning of the video.  I just feel like…

Ben:  No problem!

Angelo:  I’m just psyched to ask questions.

Ben:  At least you got to beatbox.

Angelo:  Yeah, at least I got to beatbox, dude.  So, okay, let’s jump in, man.  Where did you come from?

Ben:  I was going to make a joke about my mother’s birth canal, but there’s not really many jokes to be made without seriously offending my mother.

I was actually born in Lewiston, Idaho, in North Idaho where my parents, at the time, lived with just one kid, my older brother, and I was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  No fancy water birth; my parents weren’t like, naturopaths or hippies or anything like that.  My mom was from Detroit and my dad from Miami.  And yeah, they just wanted to start a family way up in Idaho.

Angelo:  Well, that kind of sounds a little unique that they moved from Detroit and Miami to Idaho.  What brought them to Idaho?

Ben:  Yeah, we were kind of a weird fit in Idaho initially.  So, my dad grew up in Miami, the son of relatively well-to-do parents.  And he got in trouble at an early age. You know, he was into drugs; he was kind of mixing up with gangs.  You know, things that you do when you’re a big city kid with money and too much time on your hands, I guess.  Not only did he reach a point in his life where he was looking for a lot of meaning in his life and admittedly, it’s awkward for me to be telling my dad’s story and to know that he might see this and want to, you know, jump in and correct me in some of these points.  But, ultimately, long story short, he was searching for meaning in his life.  And, he also had a really traumatic incident where he and his brother were basically involved with cocaine dealings in Miami.  His brother got stabbed and he died.  That was kind of like the final domino for my dad to just pick up and get out of the city.  He literally put his finger on a map and it landed on Idaho.  So, he went to Idaho.  And he moved all the way up to this tiny little town of Moscow, Idaho, where, strangely enough, I wound up, we talk about this later, getting married myself, later on in life.

He went up to Moscow, Idaho, working as a firefighter- working as a volunteer firefighter in Moscow, Idaho.  And, at about the same time, my mom, who also had a lot of kind of trauma on her own and also kind of grew up, not so much a big city kid, she grew up in Alpena, Michigan and then moved to Detroit, Michigan.  She was very much a drugs and rock and roll kind of girl too.  I mean, she was definitely not, you know, a clean, natural hippie the way that I think some people have envisioned that my parents actually were based on some of my own interests.  She got into trouble herself.  She had some pretty serious scares as far as assaults and stuff like that in Detroit and then she also wound up moving to Moscow, Idaho from Detroit.

So, Detroit and Miami met up in Moscow and that’s not too far from Lewiston, Idaho where my dad wound up actually getting a real job as a firefighter instead of working for the volunteer firefighting department in Moscow, and they started a family right there in Lewiston.  Dad as a firefighter, mom as a homemaker/hairstylist.  She had a hairstyling salon right in our house for most of my childhood.  So, I would watch mom cut hair and dad would go to the firefighting station and he wounded up being a paramedic eventually as well.  So, that’s how I wound up being birthed in Idaho.

Angelo:  And you said earlier that there was a big brother before you, but…

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  How many siblings do you have?

Ben:  So, I’ve got one older brother and I’ve got one younger brother, and then I have a younger sister, and then I have an even younger sister who we adopted when we were all teenagers.  So…

Angelo:  Wow! Cool! So, big family?

Ben :  So, yeah, we have a little one at home.

Angelo:  Do you feel like a big family affected you in terms of how you see the world?

Ben:  You know what, I think that oddly enough, probably because of my education which we can get into more.  Despite me growing up with a big family, I’m still very introverted; I’m still kind of a lone wolf.  I appreciate family; I love family.  The fact that I only have two kids, to me, seems kind of like a small family, but I guess I grew up thinking that, you know, four kids was kind of the norm.  So, I don’t really know that having what many people this day and age would consider to be a big family, really change my life that much.

I mean…  But, maybe it did.  I had to change diapers growing up and know how to take care of babies.  I guess I have, and had for a long time growing up, a real appreciation for babies and kids.  Through college which we could talk about later, I taught sports camps.  Even our high school was teaching kids how to play tennis.  Our main jobs growing up was freaking babysitting all the neighbor’s kids.  So, I’ve always liked kids and hanging out with kids.  Maybe a part of that comes from being a big family.  But, I do love children and babies.  I just don’t have that many of my own.

Angelo:  (laughs) So, growing up in Idaho, what was school like there?

Ben:  For me, it was weird.

So, I was homeschooled.  I was homeschooled K-12.  My siblings, for the most part, aside from dipping into a little bit of private school and some tutors here and there, were also homeschooled.

I have bittersweet feelings about being homeschooled.  For me, I’ve always been an independent learner.  Like, I think just like, coming out of the womb – my mom’s womb got two mentions so far in this show.

Angelo:  Congratulations.

Ben:  Yeah, racking up the points.  Yeah.

Angelo:  What’s…

Ben: Congratulations, mom!

Angelo:  What’s her name?

Ben:  Pat.

Angelo:  Pat. Yeah, congratulations.

Ben:  Mom, I love you.

Anyways, though.  So, I’ve always been an independent learner and so, for me, being homeschooled for the most part, involved my parents having curriculum and books around that they would encourage me to delve into.  There were certainly times, like traditional homeschool: at the kitchen table with my math book open, where mom would be showing me how to solve an equation or dad would be helping me get through a story problem.  Those types of things certainly did occur, but for the most part, I would take books and self-educate myself.  For much of my homeschooling career, if you will, that’s just the way that I was wired.  I loved to read; I loved to just get book.  I would go to the library, like I would finish school and I would go to the library after finishing school, get a bunch of books from the library and stay up until 2 AM just reading books, reading and reading and reading.  I still read every single night, every single day, every morning; I love to read.  So, that really helped me out being homeschooled.

But there are some failures, I think, when it comes to that type of educational approach.  For example, even though it made me a really good independent learner able to solve problems on my own, able to think outside the box almost have this mentality that rules are…  How does that saying go?  Like, “rules are meant to be suggestions” or something like that.  Really just thinking outside of the box when it comes to following rules to learning to solving problems.  But, at the same time, having that lone wolf mentality, I think, held me back from being a good team player, a good little factory worker, someone who works well with others.

Look at the sports I wound up playing later on like tennis and triathlon, and something like that – very independent sports.  Even what I do now, like obstacle racing, hunting, and adventure racing, like those kind of things.  I love to be by myself and solve my own problems.  When I got to college, that kind of bit me a little bit; I had to learn how to play well with others and still have to learn how to play well with others.

I mean, honestly, my educational philosophy is you give the kind the best of both worlds; this is what I’m trying to do with my kids.  So, they go to school.  I homeschooled them the first couple of years and then realized that, as much as I travel and the fact that Mom’s not teacher, that’s just not what she loves to do and that I’d be shorting my kids if we tried to homeschool them their whole lives.  So, now, they go to school and at school they learn all the things that I’d have a hard time teaching them at home, like: how to play well with others, how to solve problems as a group, how to start businesses as a group, how to speak foreign languages that I don’t know right now and can’t teach them or have time to learn, how to program Lego robots, how to play instruments from all over the world.  The other day, my son said good night to me in nine different languages.  These are things that I would not be able to teach my children unless I was literally a full-time, stay-at-home dad.  But, at the same time, when they get home from school, and when anybody’s children come home from school, I think the parents’ job starts right then in terms of unschooling/homeschooling that child.

So, when my kids get home from school, I teach them things that they’re not learning in school, like: how to start a fire out in the woods, how to shoot a bow, and hiking and foraging skills, and how to rent out their room on AirBnB.  Basically, the sky is the limit really, but ultimately, I think that the best of both worlds is for your child to get that education: in terms of being an entrepreneur, being a lone wolf, solving problems, having independent resilience after school.  Then, they learn all those teamwork and group cooperation skills and also the things that you might not be able to teach a child that you may need to outsource, at school.  In my opinion, that’s kind of the best of both world.

My own education was far different though.  It was just like: “here’s some books. Read them. Figure them out,” and keep your fingers crossed that I actually did the homework.

Angelo:  Well, that’s cool, man, I sees a lot about you that you’ve taken what was really impactful for you and your childhood in terms of the homeschooling and you’re still finding a way to integrate that with your kids, but you’re seeing where it may be lacking and other things you wanna get off of your children.

I wonder, on the same level, in describing that, I’m wondering about health and fitness.  When did that become a big part of your life? Was that a big part of your family life as a kid or was that something you did on your own?

Ben:  So, there were occasions when I was growing up that my parents would try to put me into soccer, or basketball, or baseball, or tee-ball, or traditional American sports and I was never that great at sports.  My skill mostly, when they put me in those sports, was I was the person who could run laps for days around the other kids, but I really wasn’t much of an athlete growing up.  It was because I would be in soccer practice wondering what happened to the prince on page 332 of the fantasy fiction book that I was halfway through, right.

I was a geek, right.  I played chess.  I spent many, many hours with on online World of Warcraft and was one of the first adopters of these multiplayer online roleplaying games.  I would sit and program my own computer games.  I would make my own version of first person shooting games like Doom.  There were occasions where my parents would hire a tutor to teach me stuff and one of the ones that I liked the most was I actually had a guy who came and taught me computer programing, and I would just program computers and take apart hard drives and figure out how to work computers, and how to use the old dial up modems and access the internet, which was kind of the new thing as I was growing up.  I wrote my first 400-page fantasy fiction novel by the time I was 13. I was winning magazine essay writing contests.  I was president of the chess club.  I’m not saying this stuff because I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but instead I’m pointing out the fact that I…

Angelo:  You didn’t start out as…

Ben:  Was not a jock, I was not that kid.  I was a total intellectual geek growing up.

Angelo:  So, where did it come from?

Ben:  When I was 12 or 13, my parents moved out into the country.  They packed up from out tiny little home in Lewiston, Idaho and moved six miles out of town, up on this hillside overlooking the Snake River and Clearwater River.

My dad was still working as a firefighter and paramedic.  My mom was still cutting hair; she built a little hair cutting studio right there in our house.  They put up one of those old school blacktop tennis courts.  And I remember I helped my dad lay down all the lines of the tennis court.  I had never played tennis in my life, right.  The first thing I learned about tennis was how to draw the squares, the dimensions of the court, and how big it should be.  But, they actually hired a local girl to come up and teach my brothers and I tennis and I fell in love with tennis.  I think a part of it was because I had a crush on the tennis instructor.

Angelo:  It always helps.

Ben:  Yeah.  Her name was Michelle and I really liked her.  So, that was extra motivation to show up every day and to practice and to go out there and figure out how to serve harder and how to hit.

Also, as I got really immersed into the sport, I started playing these USTA tournaments and I really liked it.  I would go and check the rankings in the little magazines that would come out each month and see what my ranking was.  I was a teenager by this time, but that was pretty cool for me, to seeing my ranking rising in the USTA, the US Tennis Association, and to go out and begin to play in matches and tournaments and have it be really serious.  I was in charge of my own success. I loved that.

I didn’t like basketball and soccer like these sports where my success hinged upon all my teammates and everything.  I loved to just go out there and figure out a way that I could beat the other person completely self-sufficient.  A part of that was that homeschooled, lone wolf mentality too, I think.

But, anyways, I got really into, like, “hey, doing hill sprints back behind our house actually gives me way more gas for these tennis matches, a much bigger gas tank.”  I started messing around with plyometrics.  I convinced my dad to take me down to Gart Sports down the hill from my house and get these little 10 pound dumbbells.

I remember the first ever weight training exercise that I learned/made up was I would lay on the bed on my stomach and I would do dumbbell curls until my arms felt like they were gonna fall off because of these little 10 pound dumbbells.  Eventually, I convinced my dad to get me the fifteens and then the twenties.  The second thing that I bought, I was watching on TV and they had one of those made-for-TV ab devices where you pull in and contract your abs, like isometric contraction…

Angelo:  Yeah, I remember those.

Ben:  So, I bought that and I would just do that for days.  I started to get 6-pack abs.  I was still eating.  I was eating Big Macs and iceberg salads drenched with ranch dressing and freaking pizza.  I could eat two large pizzas easily.  My brother and I would have pizza eating contests.  Complete crap food, but, I was getting into exercising and there were two people that were kind of like family friends who really inspired me.

There was this one guy named Raphael Escamilla, he was one of the state’s best power lifters, really one of the country’s best powerlifters.  And he showed me how to lift a barbell and how to do a squat and how to deadlift.  So, I’m a 14-year-old kid and at that point, I bought my own little bench, right.  I put it out in the garage and I remember just cold steel and benches out in the garage.  I would go out there and I would put on the old school belt around the waist, the leather belt.  I would just do these exercises that this guy, Raphael, taught me.  He was like a biomechanist; he was a good instructor and so, I learned how to weightlift.

Then, there was this other guy named Bruce.  Bruce’s kid, Andrew, was one of my friends, or rather, one of my little brothers, Zack’s, good friends.  Bruce was a body builder, a good body builder, a professional body builder.  He would come over with his rippling muscles and big biceps, and for me, as a teenage boy, seeing that kind of physique, and this was back when Rocky was big and bodybuilding was still kind of cool and not completely freaky.  This guy was teaching me how to do bicep curls and how to increase vascularity.  He even introduced me to the concept of getting massages and deep-tissue work after I work out.

So, I started to pick up tips from these guys.  Don’t get me wrong, at the same time I was still full-on computer programming, and World of Warcraft, and reading books like they were going out of style, every fantasy fiction book that came out.  I still pictured myself as a complete intellectual.  When I would test for homeschool, I would have some of the top scores of the nation.  I was a real, real intellectual, but I started to develop this love for almost an early form of biohacking, like: how can I get a better pump, how can I be faster on the tennis court, or how can I serve the ball harder.  Really, from the time I was 13 until I was 16 that was my life: being homeschooled, reading, and playing on the computer.  Then, when I wasn’t doing that, I was pretty much playing tennis and crushing it on the weights out in the garage and running the hills back behind the house.

Angelo:  One of the things that stands out about you to me is how you’re such an amazing balance of both competitive athlete and intellectual.   I think of you as like a nerd-jock, basically.

Ben:  Thanks.

Angelo:  When did that…

Ben:  Like Clark Kent?

Angelo:  Yeah! Seriously, dude, Superman! That’s not bad.

Ben:  With the cool glasses.

Angelo:  Well, you do have the glasses.  You have the rose colored…

Ben:  That’s true.

Angelo:  Glasses.

Ben:  Yeah, I have my biohacking glasses.

Angelo:  Yeah.

Ben:  All right, those are my Clark Kent glasses.

Angelo:  Right, there you go, man.  When did that intellectualism get turned onto more of the biology and science aspect of this? I understand where this came from…

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  In terms of actual training, but you’ve got an amazing interest and have done tons of research and interviews.

Ben:  Yeah.

Angelo:  I mean hundreds, thousands of interviews now in this area.  When did that get ignited in you? And, how?

Ben:  Well, like I said, I was still pretty intellectual while I was playing tennis and the local tennis coach, [0:29:17] _____, for Lewis Clark State College, he was a pretty cool cat.  He was this Buddhist monk from Malaysia who was also a tennis coach and who was really Zen.  He kind of got this whole concept of mind and spirit optimization and translating that into the tennis court for calmness and focus while you’re playing tennis.  He was kind of an early introduction, for me, into the whole spiritual side of athleticism.

He was also a really good coach.  He would watch some of my high school matches because I was playing competitively.  Idaho had state laws that allowed homeschooled kids to play high school sports.   So, I actually played for the high school tennis team during this time, the time I was 13.  I actually graduated from high school when I was 15 and so it was around when I was 16 and playing in my final year of high school, that [0:30:07] ______ came in and asked me to play tennis for the team.  At that point, I had to make a decision because my dad kind of had this unschooling/homeschooling philosophy.  He lined up an internship for me, right, because that’s big in the whole unschooling world is, you don’t go to college, you get an internship.  You go and you work on a farm or, in this case, you go and you move into the house, in this case, of a computer programmer and he’s going to teach me, this ex-Microsoft employee who owned his own software company, and I was just going to go full on into computer programming and software design. And I wanted to make video games, right, like that.

Angelo:  Right.

Ben:  Because I was already making video games at my house.  I was digging it.  Plus it was a perfect marriage of my love for fantasy and creating weapons, and monsters, and stuff like that and also the technology that I was an early adopter of in terms of computers, online roleplaying games, and things like that.  So, when I got offered the opportunity to play tennis, that was pretty attractive to me.  I will admit that a part of it was because playing tennis and going to college sounded to me, a lot sexier and a lot more likely to get me hooked up with some hot women than going in and doing a computer programming internship in some guy’s basement.

Angelo:  I think that was an accurate prediction.

Ben:  Right, right. In retrospect, who knows, maybe I turned down an opportunity to be Bill Gates or something.  But, ultimately, I chose to go to college. Not only did I choose to go to college, but I chose to do what this guy, Bruce, that body builder guy, actually really encouraged me to do was just to study kinesiology, which is basically just a fancy/glorified physical education.  It’s like exercise science and biomechanics, and biochemistry and physiology. And so, I declared myself as a kinesiology major.

Angelo:  And this is at age 16?

Ben:  I was 16-years-old; I started college when I was 16.  Big mistake by the way to go from homeschooling and straight into college and parties. I didn’t join a fraternity but I lived with a whole bunch of other guys in college and it was just wild for a little while as I caught up on all the worldly things that I had not really experienced in home school. I don’t think that’s a good way to go about life, learning about life.

Like, with my own kids, I’m a big fan of like, we talk very freely in our household about sex and alcohol and drugs and all these things that, I think, should not be forbidden fruit to a kid when they get into high school and college.  They should be well familiar with the ins and outs of the risks and how this stuff works and all that jazz, but I was not.

So, I started college when I was 16 and my life was pretty much eating copious amounts of food, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, working out for many, many hours a day including three hours of tennis practice a day, and studying, and not studying very well. First year, pretty much, pretty poor scores because I was more interested in working out and partying and girls than what I was studying.  So…

Angelo:  And it worked with girls? Being 16 in college?

Ben:  Yeah!

Angelo:  You’re like this young guy!

Ben:  Dude! I was bigger than I am right now when I started.  I was a hunk because I had been lifting hardcore…

Angelo:  Uh-huh.

Ben:  For like 3 years following this bodybuilder’s advice, this power lifter’s advice, and I was playing tennis.  I didn’t go near endurance sports aside from running those hills back behind my house, I was not a skinny, endurance athlete like I am now.  I realized later on in my life, once I started to tap into triathlon and obstacle course racing, that my ability to run lots and lots of laps around the basketball court when I was a kid, or outrun all the other kids in soccer, was actually just built-in lactic acid tolerance.

Angelo:  Yeah.

Ben:  Like massive stamina and endurance.  Granted, based on my genetic testing, this might be a little of a rabbit hole, it turns out that despite me being good at endurance, my body responds really well to power training.  My genes are all fast twitch muscles and so, even for endurance, the best way for me to train is with explosive effort, short sprints, powerlifting, things like that.  My body responds really well to that kind of training but ultimately, in my first year in college, that was pretty much it: eat, train, play tennis, do a little studying on the side, and that’s what I did for that first year.  The other things I was doing at that time, in both high school and in that first year of college, was I started teaching tennis lessons.  That’s how I made money to help pay for college.  This was kind of like my first foray into entrepreneurship.  I…

Angelo:  Like to kids or…?

Ben:  I put out fliers. I contacted all the parents of the kids who my family knew and I would bring in kids 4 to 8 at a time and do group tennis lessons at a discounted rate and then I would do one on one tennis lessons at a slightly higher rate and taught tennis which was perfect because we had a tennis court at our house, right.  So, I would just go out there and teach lessons.  So that was kind of like my side gig at the time, aside from playing tennis and working out.

Angelo:  So, as college went on, did you do any other types of jobs or what did you do with the rest of your time?

Ben:  I got to a point where after that first year of tennis, I realized I kind of sucked compared to actual…  Like, I wanted to be a pro tennis player! That’s where I saw myself going with this.  Yes, I study for a couple of years and then go off and join the circuit and start making big time dough as a tennis player, but I got my butt kicked by all these international players who have been swinging a tennis racket since they were five.  I’d been playing for 3 or 4 years.  It was a wakeup call for me and after a year, decided that that dream of being a pro tennis player probably wasn’t going to happen.  So, I transferred colleges and I moved out of Lewiston and moved up to Moscow, Idaho and started attending University of Idaho.  It was during that time that I had to make some decisions about like where I wanted to go with my life and what I really wanted to do as a career if I wasn’t going to be a pro athlete.  Obviously at this point, I wasn’t going to be a freaking computer programmer.  I kind of went down a little of a rabbit hole there, but how did I get down? What was your question?

Angelo:  My question was like did you do any other type of jobs while you were in school? What…

Ben:  Oh, hell yeah.

Angelo:  What did school turn into?

Ben:  Okay!

Angelo:  You get the picture? Kind of like the beginning.

Ben:  It got kind of crazy.  I took all of that energy that I was putting into lifting weights and playing tennis and making my body better and trying to be a pro athlete, and I instead developed, during college, a really keen interest in science and health.  Even though I was a horrible, horrible science and math student. Even in home school…

Angelo:  I’m surprised.

Ben:  I got good scores but I hated it.

Angelo:  Uh huh. Got it.

Ben:  I didn’t like science and math.  Even my first year of college, I didn’t get good grades really. I was partying and most of my focus was on working out and, frankly, I didn’t think it was important to get good grades.  But, it was in second year when…  I think it was a perfect storm of really good professors in exercise physiology, in biomechanics, my previous history with weightlifting and sports and understanding the transfer between exercise science and human potential.  Like optimization of the human body, that I realized that I could take all of this science, math, physics, biochemistry, exercise physiology, microbiology, organic chemistry, all of these things that I was studying as I went through these exercise science courses and I could actually use that to mold a more perfect human.

Angelo:  Right.

Ben:  To actually begin to get results not just for myself and all the other sports that I began to delve and foray into, I realized tennis wasn’t the only thing on the face of the planet and I also realized that I could get freaking big and strong myself.  I began to transform myself into a superhuman using a lot of these techniques. For example, I started bodybuilding. I went from “pretty big” at about 190 pounds to 250 pounds of solid muscle and 3% body fat.  I was freaking huge.

Angelo:  And you think you did that through being turned on to science?

Ben:  I used a lot of science and a lot of physiology.  Back in the day, I was doing occlusion training, complex sets, carbohydrate cycling, protein loading, salt manipulation, and all these tactics not only to put on muscle really fast, but also to be able to step on the stage.  Granted, I was a poor college student, so I couldn’t afford steroids or fancy foods.  I was drinking four of those nasty, chemical-filled ABB bodybuilding shakes everyday.  I was actually sponsored by ABB.   They’d send me like 30 shakes a week and I would just pound those things.  Usually it was with a few cans of tuna fish for dinner with a little bit of catsup and relish and stuff like that to actually make them taste okay.  Other staples were hotdogs dipped in peanut butter.  I maintained that habit I had in my first year college of eating a supersize Big Mac meal every day, but I started to eat fewer fries and ditch the bun and focus more on the protein and the meat.  Then, I kind of switched to this high protein, low carb, bodybuilding-esque type of diet.  At the same time, I started teaching spin classes and I got my personal training certification and started personal training.  Then, I got my nutrition certification and started geeking out on nutrition and taking nutrition classes on the side.  I really, really took a deep dive into both exercise and nutrition for those next three years at the University of Idaho.  In addition to that…

I’ve always been into starting businesses and saving money.  There was a tennis coaching business I had, but even before that…  Halloween, I would take out freakin’ two big pillowcases and go to every one of those big houses in town, fill them up, grab two more, and just keep on going for hours every night.  Then, I would save all that until the summer and sell it because that was when candy was scarce.

Angelo:  Dude, that’s, like, so….

Ben:  Right.

Angelo:  That’s hilarious!

Ben:  I had neighborhood tables, spread out all the candy and it would just be under my bed until…

Angelo:  So, you would just sell individual pieces? Or you’d package them together?

Ben:  Oh, I’d sell it individually.  I’d sell the boxes.  I’d collect 12 of the king-size Snicker bars and you could buy all those at once.  So, I had this passion for this slight amount of entrepreneurship and I think that was influenced by my dad because my dad…

Angelo:  Was a firefighter.

Ben:  And I’ll bring this full circle back into what I was also doing during college, but my dad eventually quit being a firefighter and a paramedic.  Now, during the time that he was a paramedic, he would actually drag me around to all of these medical conferences.

And so, at a very young age, even before I got to college, and started working on anatomy and physiology lab, and dissecting cadavers and tearing apart cow hearts, and doing all the things I did in college, I was… this is gross, but I would go to these medical conferences and all it was, like, dudes who had been skewered by forklifts at warehouses and people who accidentally stuck their arms in meat grinders, and people who put their seatbelts on wrong and got their heads chopped off by their seatbelt while they’re driving.   All of these things you see.  I remember a guy tried to kill himself by shooting himself with a shotgun but managed to blast his face off so he was still alive but walking around with his face… off.   These were the kinds of conference I’d go to.  It didn’t turn me into a freak-of-nature, violence obsessed child.  It kind of made me comfortable around blood and human body and physiology.  My dad had me get at an early age, get my CPR and first aid certification.

So, there was some health exposure in addition to the workout exposure early on, but he quit that job and decided he wanted to strike out on his own.  He started his own non-emergency medical transport service, started his own ambulance business.  And he kind of branched off from there into a whole bunch of stuff.

His dad was also an entrepreneur salesman.  He was one of Zig Ziglar’s good friends.  Zig Ziglar is like this big icon in sales and business and so, my grandpa, Grandpa Bill, used to sell cookware all over back east, this old school, I think it’s called, “stainless steel cookless cookware” or something like that.  And so, I think he got a little bit of that from his dad who was just a complete workaholic and never home.  My dad wasn’t a total workaholic, but he was into a lot of different businesses.  So, he went from the ambulance business into the pager and cellphone communication business, one of the first people to ever be selling cellphones. ..

Angelo: Oh, wow!

Ben:  And giving people cellphone packages and pager packages.  I remember, all of us kids growing up, everybody thought we were drug dealers because we all had pagers.   Really, it was just mom telling us to pick up milk from the grocery store on our way home from practice of whatever.

Angelo:  I’m sure in Idaho that was pretty cutting edge.

Ben:  Oh yeah, totally! I remember my brother getting so fed up with his pager, we were driving down the road and Mom paged him and he just picked up the pager and threw it out the window and that was the end of his pager.

Basically, my dad started that communication service and then he branched out into restaurants, he bought like a bagel franchise.  Then, after that, he got into coffee and he built, outside our house, a giant building, a nice building with an Italian espresso machine with four different heads on them.

Angelo:  Uh-huh.

Ben:  And this $20,000 gourmet, Diedrich coffee roaster roasted made in Sandpoint, Idaho, this work of art! I would wake up in the morning and there would be giant trucks delivering burlap bags full of coffee from Guatamala, Costa Rica, and Tanzania to our house.  My dad would be out there in the morning with this smell emanating out into the country side of green coffee beans roasting, and I would go out there, as a 14-year-old kid, knocking back espresso shots and my dad would be like “oh, try this! Try that!”  So, from a very early age, I was sucking down coffee and tasting coffee and watching my dad grow this business.  So, I did get to see, growing up, a little bit of entrepreneurship and also a little bit of serial entrepreneurship, and kind of grew up comfortable with this idea that it’s okay to not necessarily fit the mold of nine to five banker kind of job.

So, coming back to you asking me what kind of jobs I had in college, in addition to doing the personal training and nutrition coaching, which I did at two different gyms in town…   So, 4-5 AM, before I head to classes, I would personal train clients until my first class.  Once I got out of school, around 8 or 9 PM, I would go out and train as many people as I could in the evenings.  On the days where I wasn’t personal training, I worked at a local French bakery, which worked out well because I’d sell chocolate croissants to people in the morning and then personal train them in the evenings.  It’s a very, very good cyclic business model. (laughs)

Angelo:  Yeah. That’s…

Ben:  Positive feedback loop! Then I also worked at a pub/coffee house that my dad actually started right there in Moscow, Idaho.  Still exists to this day, it’s called Bucer’s Coffeehouse.  It’s extremely popular, it’s like Guinness beer, people playing Irish music and stuff like that at night.

Angelo:  Cool!

Ben:  And then coffeehouse by day!

Angelo:  Is it still your dad’s?

Ben:  It’s old, wooden, smokey. There’s a cigar room and a humidor and these fancy espresso machines and they still roast the coffee but he moved the coffee roaster there.  So, I worked there as well!

I was basically working as a barista; I was working at the French bakery; I was working at the pub a bit in the evenings; I worked as a personal trainer both on the weekends as well as early mornings and in the evenings when I wasn’t in the coffee shop.  I also held odd jobs as, like, a TA.  I was a TA for the anatomy and physiology lab.  I worked in the microbiology lab basically just watching liquid chromatography and HPLC and doing centrifuge, and learning chemistry.  I was kind of a workaholic in college.  I don’t really know the term for it.  Basically, I was taking 24-28 credits a semester and working three to four jobs and that’s what I did for four years in college while I was also dabbling in a ton of different sports and kind of figuring out what it was that I wanted to do with my life.

Angelo:  I mean, I can totally see the threads and how they’ve evolved into who you are now just in terms of the focus on entrepreneurship, the physical component…

Ben:  I friggin’ love it! I’ve taken the personality test, and I test out, I mean, you’re the freaking’ COO of my company.  I test out as an achiever, right.  I’m constantly wanting to make things happen for myself or for the people who I am working with.  I am very, very driven.   It’s hard for me to stay in bed in the morning; it’s hard for me to go to bed at night.  Granted, with everything I’ve studied up on sleep and circadian rhythm, I think I’ve gotten lucky that I’m not one of those guys who completely destroys my body and my brain in the process of achieving.  But at the same time, I don’t know if part of it was not fulfilling my dream early on of being a pro-tennis player.  Because, even before that I was doing a lot of things.  I just always liked to be learning and doing, right.  I don’t know if part of it was the other thing that happened and that was the fact that I decided, three years into college, that based on everything I learned at that point in exercise, science, anatomy, and physiology and chemistry, that I wanted to be a doctor.  I specifically wanted to be in sports medicine or orthopedic surgery.  So, what I did was I started to take all the premed courses.  So, I took all the premed courses.  When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, at the same time, I took the MCATs and I applied at 20 different medical schools.  I got accepted into four different medical schools, none of the ones I actually wanted, I wanted to get accepted into an ivy league.

Angelo:  Yeah.

Ben:  Even though I got accepted to these other medical schools, I decided to try again.  I decided to get my master’s degree in what was, basically at that point, a self-directed master’s meaning I choose all the 400 and 500-level classes that I want to take and I go to my advisor and I present them and, basically, they approve what I’ve decided to study.  It was a blend of nutrition, pharmaceuticals, biomechanics, physiology, microbiology, organic chemistry.  I pretty much identified every single thing that would make me a real standout for getting into medical school and custom created exactly who I wanted to be a year from that.

Angelo:  Uh-hmm.

Ben:  So, basically, that’s exactly what I did for a year.  I continued to work in those jobs I was working in but I fed through the firehose as far as scientists go.

Angelo:  Did you like the classes? Did you like what you were studying?

Ben:  Loved it!  Soaked the stuff up!

Angelo:  So, what happened?

Ben:  Not only had I, at that point, just fallen in love with science and physiology and math and physics and I’d realized I was actually good at it and I liked to do it, sadly I completely forsook any amount of… I grew up watercolor painting and writing fiction, and I played violin for 13 years.  I kind of just neglected all that.  For the most part during college, for a little while I had a rock band and I would sing and play guitar but that was about it.  I was just hardcore freakin’ science and sports all through college.

I got that master’s degree and my plan was to just reapply to some of these medical schools that I really wanted to get into like Yale, Duke, Harvard.  I was really interested in the MDPhD Program at UPenn.  I was pretty hardcore sold on getting to the top of the academic ladder and practicing medicine.  And I got offered a job from a surgical sales company – a good job, like I saw dollar signs! As a poor who student and I had just gotten married at that point, and I had started my master’s degree and my wife, Jess, and I got married…

Angelo:  And how old are you at this point?

Ben:  Right there in Moscow, Idaho.  I was 21.

Angelo:  21?

Ben:  Yeah, I had just turned 21.

Angelo:  So, at 21, you finished a master’s degree and you’re married.

Ben:  Yeah, right.

Angelo:  And you’re wanting to go to MD PhD at an Ivy League school.

Ben:  Right, right. Exactly!

Angelo:  Non-traditional kid!

Ben:  Yeah, non-traditional.  No, not traditional.  Kind of messed up but…

Angelo:  Not messed up!

Ben:  I got offered this job and it was good money! Dude, I saw dollar signs.  And I was like, wow not only can I get this job and I can go and make money and me and my wife can go on some freaking cool vacations, because when I met my wife she was like a world traveler.  She had been to Italy, and Africa, and Spain and all these cool places I had always wanted to go but at that point I have never really done a lot of travel, I never really experienced a lot of culture.  You know, homeschool kid who grew up in Idaho.

So, my thought pattern was like, hell, I could make some money, I could get a ton of experience, and of all things, orthopedics and sports medicine, which was obviously going to make me more attractive to medical schools that I’m saying that this is what I want to get into…

Angelo:  So, you’re still holding out the vision that you’re gonna do it?

Ben:  Make money, travel the world.  Oh, yeah, totally!

Angelo:  This wasn’t now.  Yeah.

Ben:  And I worked for five months starting at the beginning of the spring and through the summer.  My job consisted of going to hospitals or medical clinics and speaking with doctors about the biomechanics of knee and hip implants or overseeing the implant of these knees and hips, those artificial knees and hips into patients during surgery.  I’d stand with the laser pointer and I’d have a saw getting blood sprayed all over my goggles and on my booties.  Yeah, this was all…

Angelo:  As a salesman, they had you doing that?

Ben:  Yeah, that’s how surgical sales work!

Angelo:  Wow!

Ben:  You sell the equipment and you teach the doctor how to use it!  Granted, I’m not downplaying the education of the surgeon or anything like that, but when a new method of a patellar tendon replacement comes out and there’s different biomechanics, there’s different pieces of equipment, there’s different styles of screws that need to be installed, you’re standing there in surgery basically teaching that surgeon how to utilize the equipment that your company has sold them to install.  You know, whatever that $40,000 Tesla-priced knee that somebody’s getting placed inside their body that’s going to last 10 years.  It’s an interesting system.

While that certainly has some utility, I think the ability to replace a joint is kind of cool.  Everything I experienced in the modern medical system completely left a horrible taste in my mouth for modern medicine.  I was interacting with orthopedic stocks and sports medicines physicians who hated their jobs, who were drenched in paperwork at the end of the day, who had good money and cool boats and nice homes, but seemed miserable and unable to spend a lot of time with their families.  The hospitals were just horrible.  I was pretty far down the healthy nutrition road at that point.  I hadn’t really delved into the ancestral nutrition approach, it was my wife, a rancher girl, who kind of turned me on to raw milk and only eating the meat you know where it came from…

Angelo:  That was Jessa?

Ben:  Or baking your own sourdough bread…  Yeah, all that stuff.  But at that point, I was into eating clean.  I was a freaking bodybuilder, dude.  I was just like broccoli and chicken, right, and top sirloin steak with stir fry five nights a week.  I wasn’t eating that much crap by that point and I also saw what these people were eating, and the cafeteria food, and the unhappy nurses.  I just wasn’t happy.

Angelo:  Mhm.

Ben:  Every time I went to the hospital, I was just like, “when can I get the freak out of here and go make an amazing meal and go work out in the gym?”  At that point, I was getting into triathlon and go ride my bike outside and feel the wind in my hair and the sun in my face.  I did not like modern medicine; I didn’t like where I was.  I didn’t like that Western approach where, “hey, here’s your implants! Here’s your pills!”  Despite the money, I really decided I could not see myself like that in five years.  I could not see it sustainable at all.  So…

Angelo:  Not only the sales but also being a doctor and the whole medicine idea?

Ben:  Yeah, I moved to Post Falls, Idaho, an hour and a half away from Moscow.  Left my wife in Moscow to go work this job.  So, we’d see each other on weekends.  I should back pedal a little bit because we had…  Actually, you know what, maybe later on we can talk about my wife and I and how we met because there are some interesting…

Angelo:  I wanna ask about that…

Ben:  I’ll close the loop on this and then we can get back to it, but basically I quit that job and I walked into the gym across the street from the apartment that I was renting in Liberty Lake, Washington, the Liberty Lake Athletic Club, and I slapped my resume down and I asked for a job.

At that point, I had a killer resume.  I had been personal training for four years; I had classes up the wazoo in terms of knowing every single tiny, little nook and crevice of the human body.  I was a certified nutritionist; I was a certified strength conditioning coach; I was a certified personal trainer.  I had a ton of experienced not only working with people, but at that point, I had been teaching sports classes to kids at the University of Idaho for three years.  I was teaching the volleyball courses at the University of Idaho.  I played volleyball; I played middle for the men’s water polo team; I was a spinning instructor; I was a body builder; I taught weightlifting classes; I did an internship at Duke University with Raphael, this guy who had been a powerlifter.

Angelo:  Wow!

Ben:  He went on and got this killer job at Duke University, like the head of Sports Performance at Duke University.  So, I worked at Coach K’s lab at Duke University because when it was time to do my undergraduate internship while I was at University of Idaho, I called Raphael, and I was like “dude, I want to come work with you.”

So, I trained NFL athletes in hardcore biomechanics at Duke University during my entire internship and at the same time, shadowed orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine docs the whole time I was down there because I was still hardcore sold on medicine.  Ultimately, what I’m saying, is when I walked into that gym, it was a shoe in for me to get the job.  They actually offered me a job managing the facility as being the fitness manager of the whole facility.  Which was great for me to be able to transition into a little bit of job security from this other really cool job that was going to be my dream job that I was quitting.  I knew I didn’t want to become a doctor.  I knew I loved fitness.  I knew I loved helping people get healthy.  I knew I loved nutrition.  So, I just walked into the gym and asked for a job.

Angelo:  Wow!  So, what came of that? How long did you do that? What did it turn into?

Ben:  Well, I was married at that point.

[Music Plays]

Ben:  Hey, I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you that I can occasionally be a little bit of a fan of the woo-woo.  That’s right, I don’t just like to rip off my shirt and go around the forest throwing spears at stuff.  Sometimes, I actually like to focus on silence and breathing and activating my parasympathetic nervous system and reaping all the benefits I get when I do that, like lower cortisol and lower blood pressure and lower stress and better communication with my family and all the things that happen when I meditate which I haven’t done all my life.

Meditation is kind of one of those things that I kind of sort of did a little bit while I was playing tennis in college because I had a Buddhist tennis instructor who actually helped us out with things like visualization and meditation before matches.  It helped tremendously but I went for a while where I thought it was silly and that all you needed to do was bench press and squat and deadlift and run fast.  Now, I’ve kind of come full circle over the past few years and realized that you definitely need a balance of body, mind, and spirit.  Meditation is one of the best ways to tap into that.

Whenever I go to all these different health conferences with amazing physicians and healers and body-mind-and-spirit gurus, there’s this one person who always shows up at all these conferences.  She’s like the person everybody seems to be hiring to do things like, lead the meditation and teach people the meditation, give meditation talks.  She’s actually been on my show before.  She’s helped me out with meditation.  She’s absolutely an amazing resource when it comes to all things meditation.  Her name is Emily Fletcher and she is right here with me now.  Emily, what’s up?

Emily:  Hi, Ben! What an intro! Thanks for that!

Ben:  I know!  Yeah, I practiced many times.  We talked before we started recording this little piece for everybody that you actually have a meditation exercise you wanted to teach the folks that you’re going to, from what I understand, walk me through?

Emily:  Yeah, so, here’s the gig: I feel like, when listening to a podcast or if you get overwhelmed within the day or you just want a reset for your brain or recharge for your body, it’s good to have simple, powerful things that you can do that you don’t even really have to think about.  So, I wanted to share one of the simplest techniques that I ever learned and I call it the two-ex breath, simply doubling the length of your exhale from your inhale.  It’s super simple but, I think, people oftentimes confuse simplicity for weakness, but just because something is simple does not mean that it is weak.

Actually, if you’re stressed or overwhelmed, or helping your body recuperate, you want a really simple tool that you don’t really have to think about.  So, I was thinking we could do it together and it would actually be a great way for your listeners to sort of strengthen their vagus nerve which is the strongest connection between your brain and your body.  So, it’s a great thing to get out of overwhelm.  It’s also sort of a great way to prepare yourself to receive the knowledge that they’ll get while listening to the podcast.  Do you wanna dive in?

Ben:  Yeah.  Should people not be operating a bulldozer, or tractor, or semi-truck while they’re listening to this part?

Emily:  Well, I actually think that I know a lot of people listening to podcasts while they’re driving and I think that it’s okay to do this even while you’re driving.

Ben:  Okay!

Emily:  This isn’t going to put you into a trace state.  You’ll still be in a waking state.  It’s simple but it’s just a nice way to refresh your brain, recharge your body, and like I said, strengthen the vagus nerve, which is that nerve that runs between your brain and your heart.  So, it’s okay if they’re driving!

Ben:  Okay! Good to know! Keep driving that tractor! Let’s do this.

Emily:  Keep operating that machinery while you’re listening to this podcast!

The cool thing about this two-ex breath is that it’s something you can do seated.  I personally like to meditate with my back supported and my head free, but this is something you can do if you’re really stressed out, you can do while pacing around your house or you could do it lying down to go into sleep, or you can do it seated.  So, it’s quite adaptable that way.

Ben:  Okay.

Emily:  So, to start, we can simply inhale through the nose for the count of two and then exhale through the mouth for four.  Really good.  Again.  Inhale through the nose for two and exhaling through the mouth for four.

Feel your body soften, your mind relaxing.  Again, inhale for two and out for four, softening your brows, softening your jaw.  In through the nose for two and exhaling for four.

And as the body starts to soften, we can elongate this.  On the next inhale, we’ll breathe in for three, and exhale for six.  Again, in through the nose for three, and out through the mouth for six.  Super simple, but doubling the length of the exhale helps to calm the body, like the nervous system.

And on the next inhale as you inhale for three, you can start to imagine that your breath and energy is coming in through the base of the spine.  As you fill your lung, imagine that breath and energy coming up the spine.  As you exhale through the mouth, imagine sending that energy and breath right out through the middle of your forehead.  Again, inhaling for three, imagining your breath and energy coming into the base of the spine and as you fill your lungs, allowing this breath and energy to travel up the spine, and as you exhale, just imagining sending this breath and energy right out in the middle of your forehead.  You don’t have to feel anything; it’s not magic.  You’re just engaging your imagination.  You can start to take this in your own time.  You can even elongate it to four and eight.

So, inhaling for four and exhaling for eight.  On each inhale, imaging the breath and energy coming in through the base of the spine and travelling up.  And as we exhale, we’re sending that creative energy out through the middle of our forehead using all that creative energy to start to create all the things we want to create in our day.  One final time, allowing this to be the deepest, most delicious inhale you’ve taken all week.  Inhaling on the count of four, feeling your blood and your cells being oxygenated and then exhaling anything that isn’t serving you to the count of eight.

If your eyes are closed, you can keep them closed, if they’re not, just take in a moment to check in with your body, check in with your energy level, checking in with your energy.  Do you feel like you have a little bit more space mentally or physically? Do you feel a bit more grounded? A bit more confident? Just noticing how you feel now versus how you felt when you began.  In your own time, you can start to bring your awareness into the body, into the room.  You can open your eyes if you had closed them.

Know that this is a very simple but powerful tool you can use if you start to feel overwhelmed.  It’s a great way to get into that parasympathetic part of the brain- out of fight-or-flight and into what I call “stay-and-play” where we tend to make better decisions, where we have more creativity, more connection.  So, talk to me!  What was that like for you?

Ben:  That was pretty cool because you know, the craziest thing that I noticed was that I diffused the essential oils in my office and I was picking up all these scents I hadn’t picked up before like my senses heightened, my awareness became heightened.  You turned me into the ultimate predator! My eyes, and my ears, and my nose, and everything just became more powerful.  That was kind of cool!

When I opened my eyes, everything seemed a little bit more vibrant and colorful and I definitely felt my heartrate go down! I definitely… I do a lot of vagus nerve stuff, like alternate nostril breathing, cold-water soaks, and humming and singing and chanting, I definitely found that surprisingly, within just a couple of minutes, seemed to achieve the same effect! I love these little tricks you have up your sleeve.

Emily:  Thank you! Well, this is just one of them.  This two-ex breath is something that we do and actually, when you’re meditating which is something I teach in Zero Mind, which is our online training,  but I tell my students, “Hey, if you feel like you have Spidey senses…” like you just mentioned that hyperawareness, a lot of people think they’re failing, but that’s actually a really good sign.  That’s your body saying, that’s your mind staying on guard so your body could get the deep rest you could get to [1:07:39] ______ more awake on the other side.   That’s the thing that makes you better at life.

Ben:  I love it! It’s very cool and I know you’ve got a whole bunch of different meditations that are a wide-range of lengths over on your Ziva site, Z-I-V-A, by the way, for those of you who are listening in.  I’m curious, if people go over there, can they just basically get access to the videos? Is it all audios? Is it written meditation? How does it work?

Emily:  So, what Ziva Mind is, it’s a program that’s trained.  It’s designed to make you a self-sufficient meditator.  So, it’s not just guided audios.  I do have some guided audios for jetlag or helping to get better sleep, but what Ziva Mind is designed to do is to give you a meditation practice you have on your own so you don’t need me anymore.  It’s not like an addiction model.  I give you the keys to the car, I give you the driving instructions, and then you have this practice that you can do anywhere, anytime.

It’s eight days of video training and each day builds upon the previous training.  By the time you graduate, you’ll have a twice a day meditation practice that you can do on a plane, on a bus, at work, while your kids are yelling in the other room.  So, what I teach is not monastic meditation, I know you said you worked with a Buddhist teacher when you were playing tennis, but what I teach, even though it’s a 6,000-year-old practice, it was made for people with busy minds and busy lives.  So, it’s really easy to integrate into an already full schedule.

Ben:  I love it! Okay, cool.  So, I know that for everybody who is listening in, it’s normally $250, right Emily?

Emily:  uh-hm.

Ben:  Okay, so for you guys who are listening, if you want full access to Emily and all her magic, you can get this for $199 instead of $250.  So, that’s $51 if you know how to do math.

So, you get it for $199 instead of $250, very, very simple.  Get your pens out or sharpen your brain and get ready to remember this.  Here’s the URL: Ziva Mind, like Z-I-V-A Mind, ZivaMind.com/BGZivaMind.com/BG is where you can go to get the special link, no code required, where Emily and I have partnered up to create for you the most amazing meditation experience you’ll ever have, even if you do operate heavy machinery.

So, Emily, thanks for walking me through that little exercise that you call “two-times breathing,” right?

Emily:  I call it the “two-ex breath” because you’re….

Ben:  Two-ex breath!

Emily:  [1:10:11] ______ the exhale.

Ben:  Okay, cool! Well, I’m going to call it the “two-times breath TM.”

Emily:  Great! (chuckles)

Ben:  Anyways, you guys are going to love Emily and all her stuff.  She has even got the perfect meditation voice.  So, check out ZivaMind.com/BG.  All the goodies are there!

Emily, thanks for sharing all that stuff with us!

Emily:  You’re a star!  Thanks for having me.

[Music Plays]

Angelo:  Let’s go back! I’d love to hear about how you met Jessa and how that came about.

Ben:  So, Jessa…  I was not only a homeschooled kid in Idaho, but I was a Christian-conservative, homeschooled kid.  We went to this Reformed Baptist church in Moscow, Idaho.  There was this family that also went to that same church and this little blonde girl with ponytails sat in front of me in second grade in Sunday school.  She had a big crush on me.  She just tried to talk to me but every time I would try to ignore her.  I’d have my fantasy-fiction book and I had my computer programming stuff.   I didn’t care about girls that much at all in second grade.  I was into what I was into.  So, she wound up realizing I was a loser when it came to the love department.  Even though we were in the same Sunday school for a little while, my parents moved on and went to a different church and we knew of each other.  Occasionally we’d be watching the same basketball game across the court from each other on the bleachers, things like that.  Ultimately, I never really ran into her again until lifeguarding class in college and I had to save her life.  She was the drowning girl and I had to go in and save her life.

It wasn’t love at first sight.  It wasn’t like “who’s this hot girl I get to save?”  She was running track for University of Idaho and it turned out we just hung out a lot in that lifeguarding class and we started swimming together, training for that 500-meter course you have to pass in lifeguarding class and she invited me out to a triathlon she was going to do with her brother-in-law.  She convince me to be the runner on the time which was the first time I had really been introduced to the sport of triathlon and I was still pretty big at that point.  All I remember from that race was the quarter-length triathlon was the 10K, the first 10K that I’d run.  All I remember, as I was transitioning out of bodybuilding, was my boobs bouncing up and down thinking “this hurts!” That was the one thing, the sorest thing after the race was my boobs because my chest was just huge! There were pictures of me crossing the finish line! Just this big ripped dude crossing the finishing line of the quarter-leg triathlon with big pecks.

Anyways, I did the triathlon and I wound up hiking with her and going out on runs with her where she would just kick my butt! We’d go on bike rides and we’d hang out at that coffee shop that I worked at.  She and her girlfriends would come and sit at the counter at night while I was working and we’d joke and hang out and we’d go to movies together and she’d come chill at the house that I lived at with a bunch of my friends.

She was a tomboy.  She was a rancher girl.  She grew up in a big family.  She wasn’t really academic; she was just into sports and some healthy, hometown, holistic cooking on the farm.  Her dad ran the sheep farm out of the University of Idaho.  He had moved there from working out in Montana and had a ranch out there.  Yeah, we were just best friends for a year and a half just chilling together and hanging out.

Then, I remember one specific week where I started to get attracted to her.  It was really weird, it was totally not love at first sight but I was like, “Jess is actually pretty hot!” It was kind of like that kind of thing!

Angelo:  I’ve got to say, it’s pretty funny!

Ben:  Yeah!

Angelo:  She’s a noticeably beautiful woman!

Ben:  Right, right!  But, it was just one of those deals where I always thought of her as my friend, right!

I remember there was one week, it was a Friday night and Saturday night.  We went out to a play on Friday night and she was wearing this amazing skirt and blouse, just looked really hot.  It was that night I was like “Wow, I could actually see this woman being my partner, getting married to her or something!” I didn’t tell her that, but at that point I’m like, boy, I should maybe get a little more romantic with her.  I guess, test the waters and see if she likes me.

So, the next time we went to a movie and I grabbed her hand at the movie! Right away, she grabs my hand and we start the pinky lock thing.

Angelo:  Uh huh.

Ben:  The whole “she actually likes me” type of thing and then we started making out in the movie theater.  It helped that it was a horrible movie we weren’t interested in.  It was Evolution – this movie where aliens take over the planet but it’s a horrible, horrible alien planet takeover.

Angelo:  So, was she just waiting? Was she just waiting for you to make a move?

Ben:  I think we were both kind of waiting for each other to make the move.  It was kind of like a mutual attraction that grew over time.  So, from that point on, I remember I went back to my place and we made out for a couple of hours.  We were lovers after that.  I’ll put this right out there.  I’ll be totally honest, our relationship was really special.  For example, knowing that my kids might see this, they know my values and my beliefs, we waited until after we got married to have sex.  We went about things in a really serious, grownup way.  It wasn’t like a casual, college fling.  We really, truly realized we wanted to marry each other.

So, it was after that that I went to Duke University.  I did that internship.  The whole time I was doing that internship, I was saving up money.  I designed a ring, a heart-shaped bezel rock ring and had this designer up in New York create the whole thing.   The most expensive things I’ve ever bought in my whole life but I came home.  Again, very conservative, Christian North Idaho upbringing, I went to her dad first and I asked her dad if I could have his daughter’s hand in marriage.  He was out shooting birds in his barn so he’s holding his gun as I’m sitting there asking him if I can marry his daughter.  But, he said “yeah, go for it.” So, I asked her to marry me and we got married a year later in Moscow, Idaho.  Then I moved Post Falls and started working in surgical sales.

Angelo:  That’s a beautiful story.  Thanks for sharing that!

Ben:  Thanks!

Angelo:  So, you guys are married, jumping back to career stuff, you’re at the gym.  What comes of that?

Ben:  So, I’m the fitness manager at the gym and things are going really well because, at that point, I had worked a lot of jobs, I knew entrepreneurship, I knew how to freaking how to sell personal training.  Meaning, I knew how to package group personal training classes and courses, and I taught the triathlon class because I was really getting into triathlon at that point.  I was really getting into this idea that “wow, I could take all this physiology and nutrition knowledge and use it to hack a sport where there’s a high rate of nutrition”- meaning you need to eat right and you need to move efficiently.  This isn’t a sport like baseball where you just got to, I mean, with all respect to baseball, but in triathlon, you got to be out there like 10 hours, 12 hours, 17 hours moving and moving and moving! So, I really found that to be the perfect platform to experiment with the science of the human body, and physiology, and nutrition.  So, I’m teach triathlon classes and I’m teaching group training classes and I’m doing individual classes because…

Angelo:  So, you’ve given up bodybuilding at this point?

Ben:  Yup, I moved into triathlon at this point.  I had totally pivoted from power sports and strength sports into endurance sports like triathlon.

Angelo:  You’re 21 or 22?

Ben:  I was about 22 at this point.

Angelo:  Okay.

Ben:  End of 21/22.  So, things went really well.  I had a lot of clients and I was working hard, the life of a personal trainer up at 4 am.  Your first client is at 4:30 before they all go to work; you work until about 9 am; things kind of settle down between 10 and noon; you’re kind of working on programs for clients; people come in around lunch time and train during their lunch hour; you train them during their lunch hour; you have a little bit of time to work on people’s programs or do your own workout between two and four, and then everyone finishes work and starts coming in and you do more personal training from 4 and 9 PM; and then you go home and collapse and maybe have time for a movie or something;  then, get up the next morning at 4 and rinse, wash, and repeat.

That was my life for a couple of years and I absolutely loved it.  I got to live in the gym, train with cool people, workout.  My wife got her degree in interior design and graphic design and so she was working for a local magazine doing design and layout.  I was working as a personal trainer.  I had worked my butt off.  Then, on the weekends we’d do a little bit more partying and hanging out.  It was not a life conducive to raising a family, but I was doing really well as a personal trainer.  I was using all this knowledge and education I had planned on using to be one of the best doctor in the world, but instead, just a freaking personal trainer in this tiny, little town in Washington that just so happened to be the town where all the rich people lived, right.

So, I developed this mentality that, if somebody really wants to get a good body and brain, I’m going to pull out all the stops and figure out every single way to do that.  The people I was working with didn’t care; they would do anything to get the best body.  I wasn’t too far into the brain hacking/cognitive hacking components at that point, but I really had this mentality that, “hey, I’m the guy to come see if you just want to optimize everything you can optimize and you’ve got the money to do it and you basically just want to look good and feel good.”  And that’s what I specialized in.

Angelo:  And how did that transition into books?

Ben:  Yeah!

Angelo:  And online… All that! What drew you into that? What year are we talking about once that started?

Ben:  I rediscovered my passion…. So, I graduated in 2005.  Started this job in 2006 working in the gym.  I was there for 2-2.5 years doing this gig.  During that time, I rediscovered my passion for writing.  I began to write a weekly newsletter for the gym that would go up on the wall and it turned into more like a weekly tome that turned out 30-pages.

Angelo:  Uh huh.

Ben:  It was supposed to be one page on the bulletin board, but all of a sudden I’m writing these extensive newsletters at the gym.

Email was getting to be a good way of communication then and so I developed an email list and was now emailing these newsletters to people at the gym.  I had this whole email list saved on my Hotmail, or whatever it was at the time. I kind of had my own little list and just CC-ed or BCC-ed all these people and sent out the weekly newsletter and also posted on the bulletin board.

Then, I wrote a book and Jessa helped me layout this book.  It was called Shape 21 and it was like 21-days of how to eat clean and how to exercise.  Each day told you exactly what to eat and exactly how to exercise, it was all bodyweight exercises and dumbbells you could do any time, any place.  It was all my own special recipes and basically I created this book and I created a DVD to go along with it.  My mom and I went to the park and my mom shot me doing hours and hours of all these different exercises.  So, we made a DVD out of that and packaged it inside of the book and I had this local company in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho print off 500 copies and I got into my car and I drove them to all local gyms and all the local GNCs and I had them stock this book.

I just told them, “Hey, I’m going to sell this book to you for seven or eight bucks, and the MSRP is $17.”  I forgot how much the split was, but, basically, they made a little money off of selling it and I made a little money off of them selling it.  It was a horrible loss later for me but I had made a book and I was super, duper proud of that!

Angelo:  Yeah!

Ben:  And I remember when I got my first check from GNC for 30 bucks and I thought “holy cow! I just made money while I was sleeping.” That was really cool! And I wrote a book myself, published it myself, printed it myself, made the DVD, and then sold it.  That’s pretty cool! I was really proud of that.  So, I had this interest in writing, producing, and publishing and kind of got a little bit of a flavor for that when I was still working at this Liberty Lake Athletic Club.

Angelo:  Mhm.

Ben:  And at the same time, one of my clients, I had a lot of local clients there, one of my client’s husbands was a local sports medicine physician.  He was actually the lead physician for Ironman Triathlon.  So, he knew of me.  I knew of him.  He approached me and said, “Hey, I have this idea. You’re obviously doing all this personal training and you’re into nutrition.  You obviously know biomechanics and physiology…”  He was aware of my training background because his wife had had me over for dinner to their house and he and I had talked quite a bit.  His name was PC Pierce.  Doctor Pierce laid out to me the idea that, what if there was this one-stop shop where somebody could walk in and there was a physical therapist, chiropractic docs, sports medicine physicians, personal trainer, exercise physiology lab, biomechanics lab, sports performance training facility, everything somebody would need to optimize, let’s say, an Ironman Triathlon or a marathon or that a team would use to stay perfectly healthy during their season and if someone got injured, they could go in and be with a  doctor, be with a chiropractor, they could be with a physical therapist…

Really, it was a kind of cool idea!

Angelo:  Uhm-hm.

Ben:  Just like this one single place that people could go to for everything they needed.  His proposal to me was that I partnered up with him and I run the entire lab component: the exercise physiology lab with all the blood testing equipment and the masks that you wear that measure carbohydrates and fat oxidation, the high speed video cameras that you can use for biomechanical evaluation along with computer software where you can digitize it and slowdown someone’s running gate or slowdown someone’s bike speed or watch someone do a barbell squat and see how their hips are moving, along with a training facility where you can then take them out and do very, very functional training.  I was very much into functional movement screens.  I was very much into bodywork, fascial work, kind of like a really holistic approach to the human body because at that point I took pride in considering myself to be a guy you came to when you wanted that complete body that looked good and that moved the right way.  And, at that point, you also wanted some of the nutrition advice, you wanted the blood tested, you wanted the physiology measured, you wanted the movement measured.

So, his idea was that I actually run that lab, right? That component, a hybrid model of a personal training facility, a personal training studio, with a whole bunch of really expensive laboratory equipment thrown in.  So, I launched that facility with him and for the next couple of years, that’s what I did.  A lot of my clients from the athletic club and came over there and started training with me.  We partnered up with a whole bunch of local physicians and started to practice this almost exercise-is-medicine approach where they’d send all their patients down to the facility, I’d train them, I’d work with them.

They knew that we were the best of the best.  We were the people to go to when nothing else was working because we had the most expensive equipment, we could test, we had  me there as the knowledgeable personal trainer slash nutritionist with all these different certifications who could measure your physiology and biomechanics, then we had PC there who could do all your medical evaluations.  Then, we had the chiropractic doc, the physical therapist, and the massage therapist, pretty much everything these patients, or athletes, needed.

So, that’s what I did for a couple of years.  It was extremely successful.  It was a really, really cool package that we put together for people and they paid for it and I began to kind of, when you look at things from a career standpoint, just killed it in personal training.  I was making 6+ figures a year and, at that time, that was a lot for a personal trainer.

Angelo:  Mhm.

Ben:  And, I was beginning to get recognized on a national level for the work that I was doing in terms of the athletes I was working with and the results that I was getting.

Angelo:  You were drawing in a lot of national people?

Ben:  Mhm.  Yeah! And, I got nominated by a few docs to the National Strength Conditioning Association – the world’s only internationally recognized certifying body for personal trainers, to be and this was in 2008, America’s next top personal trainer.  I got the vote and basically they nominated me as America’s top personal trainer and that’s the award that I received.  At that point, things got a little bit crazy because I started to get all these offers to write for all these magazines and to speak at all these different fitness business conferences and basically delve into this business-building and business-advising and business-consulting side of fitness that I really hadn’t been involved in before.

At the same time, I was running my own facility and competing as, at that time, one of the nation’s top ranked Ironman triathletes.  I was competing as an elite amateur Ironman triathlete.  So, things got pretty busy- things got really busy.  There was a series of months where I was pretty much like airplanes, get home, personal train, and sleep like 2 to 4 hours a night max and I would just work and work and work.  So, at the same time I was doing all of that, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily sustainable.  Really, the lightbulb went on for me when I was at a fitness business conference where I was speaking.  My role there was to teach people how to do well running a brick-and-mortar training facility- how to use these advanced tactics like exercise physiology and biomechanics, what kind of physiology equipment to purchase, how to use Dartfish software…

Angelo:  Right.

Ben:  How to analyze clients, how to get the most out of the people that you’re training… Then, this guy got up after me and they called him “Mysterious Mr. X” and he was a total online personal trainer and e-book author.  That’s all he did, just new media stuff.  So, instead of running brick-and-mortar gyms, what he did was he wrote books and he taught people using online courses how to actually get the results that they wanted.  He specialized in helping skinny guys gain muscle.

Angelo:  Mhm.

Ben:  They call him “Skinny Guy Savior.”  His name was Vince Del Monte.  Since then, I’ve actually had him on my podcast a few times – him and his wife.  They’re really cool people, but at the time, I was just blown away watching him up on stage and realizing that “wow, there are different ways to actually help people than necessarily clocking in at 4 AM and clocking out at 11 PM.”

At that time, my wife was at the conference with me and she was pregnant with our boys, with our twins.  I knew, at that time, I was searching for something.  I knew what I was doing wasn’t sustainable and I tried to take on local college interns and other employees kinda teach them to run my facility but it never seemed to work for me, it never seemed to click.  It was unsustainable for me.  As this guy is up there talking, I realize “wow! I can actually create a lot of the value that I’m creating for my clients here locally but scale it and actually take a lot of these ideas that I have and just put them online for people to use there.” I could take a plan that I might walk a client through, who’s paying me a bunch of money every month to do, and I could write this thing out and put it online for a whole bunch of people to use, right!

As I was there at that conference, not only did I meet him, but a lot of other people who were doing things like creating videos and putting training videos online with the actual exercises rather than working one-on-one with clients and creating an online exercise video library and doing things like, not podcasting, but recording audios and uploading them along with the training plans.  I’m starting to realize that “wow, how could I have such a savvy knowledge of computer programming and the internet and technology and not have realized that I could actually use and take a lot of what I’m doing and put it out there for the world to access.  So, that’s when a lightbulb went on for me that I could actually take a lot of what I was doing and systematize it, and scale it, and get it out there for a lot more people than just my tiny little tiny training crowd in Spokane, Washington.

Angelo:  And so, you’re move into doing that full time, was it pretty fast? As soon as you got nominated for the 2008 personal trainer of the year?

Ben:  As I sat there in the conference, on a whole yellow, legal notepad, I sketched out my first idea for a training program that was very similar to what I was already giving to some of the pro-athletes I was working with and the high-end CEOs who were racing and I instead spent the next 6 months… I would get home from work at around 9 or 10 PM and I would sit in front of the computer until 2 or 3 AM and I would program my website.

I built a website to actually feature this program.  I built PDFs, I developed videos, I developed audios.  Obviously, I had a little bit of knowledge of what I was doing from having done that little Shape 21 program, but I laid all this out and basically, 6 months later, put it out there as an actual program that people could go online and could buy to learn how to, it was called the Triathlon Dominator.  People could learn how to train for a triathlon in minimal time without neglecting their friends, their family, their career, their social life, and to be honest, it sold like hotcakes.  People loved it!

I realized that, “wow! This is sustainable.”  If I do this, this will mean I could stay at home with my kids, do what I love to do which is write and help people get more fit, and at the same time, be there for my family, not have the exhaustion I’ve experieinceed over the past decade of just working my fingers to the bone in this brick-and-mortar setting, and actually still create value for people.

At that point, not only did I start that program, but I also started one of the first ever health and fitness podcasts in iTunes, which, for the first couple of episodes, was just me with the National Journal of Strength Conditioning Research open and basically reading that to people, telling them about the research for that day.  It was just me- messed up hair, my old t-shirt- my business at that time was called “Pacific Elite Fitness”- and I would just basically make these videos for people, put it out on iTunes, and it was just my first ever… It was called an RSS Feed.  So, I’d make this.  iTunes was really finicky back then.

Angelo:  What year is this?

Ben:  This is towards the end of 2008.  It was one of the first iTunes podcasts in health and fitness, but I started putting that out.  I started putting that out YouTube videos.  I was figuring out ways to use new media to spread the word about how to optimize your body, how to train.  So, that kind of developed, for me, into most of what I was doing in addition to training people online/doing consulting online, because, after my national exposure, I started to get approached by people in Florida, and Australia, and the UK.  So I realized that I could help a lot of these people out via Skype and via phone.

So, I kind of just transitioned my whole business.  I sold all my personal training equipment.  At that point, I had a sister facility in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and also a facility in Spokane, Washington, both exercise, physiology, biomechanics, health-based studios, and sold all that stuff and moved all my clients to other local personal trainers and moved in and started doing podcasting, and video and audio creating, and book writing, and training people online pretty much full time.  Doing that along with, for the first couple of years of their life, homeschooling my kids.

Angelo:  And why did you chose to homeschool your kids? Just because it’s what you knew because it’s what your parents had done?

Ben:  A big part of it, I kind of laid out my educational philosophy a little bit earlier and that’s developed over the years but initially, I just thought that, man, if I’m going to create little freethinking, badass, resilient, libertarian little boys running around the forest, freaking killing it…  What’s that movie? Captain America?

Angelo:  Uh huh.

Ben:  There’s this movie, you know, of this guy taking his children’s education into his own hands…  That was my relatively flawed vision of how one could raise a child and then I realized, I ran into a whole lot of other kids in the whole unschooling community and they had really bad social skills.  They were really good at, say, shoeing horses and digging ditches and starting fires in the woods, but there were some serious interpersonal and communication skills that I saw that my kids weren’t getting.   And, I also, because my career had developed into a career that had me and still does have me on the road 10, 20 days of the month sometimes, it’s kind of unfair if I’m trying to homeschool my kids and I’m not even there for many of the days I’m supposed to be there hunched over the kitchen table teaching them math.  So, that’s why I decided to do that hybrid model of outsourcing their education to some other people doing private schooling plus homeschooling.

Angelo:  So, you mentioned having to travel 20 days out of the year.  You left the running the gym situation so you could be home more and have more flexible schedule but you end up travelling a lot.  What’s all the travel about?

Ben:  Well, I speak! That’s a big part of what I do.  When I was at Lewis Clark State College playing tennis, I was on the Speech and Debate Team.  So, I was their “after dinner” speaker where you would get up and give this entertaining talk after these dinners.  Also, their impromptu speaker where you walk into a room and a guy pulls out of a hat a topic and you walk out, it’s usually current events and you’ve got five minutes to prepare then you come back in and give this presentation on the topic.  So, I was doing that in college competing on the Speech and Debate Team and I continued to dabble, we didn’t really get into this too much, but I continued to dabble in Summer Theater and acting and I was…

Angelo:  In college?

Ben:  I was very, very comfortable on stage, in both high school and college, I did some of that.  And so, in addition to when I was travelling around teaching at these fitness business conferences, I began to start to speak on stage, not just at those conferences but also health and fitness conferences.  I’d get up and talk about nutrition or fitness, etcetera.

It was really when, I publish a lot of books from the time I published Shape 21, I never really stopped writing into the Triathlon Dominator plan, sometimes I’d work with publishers and published books.  I was lucky enough in 2013, to publish a book that became a New York Times Best Seller.  All of a sudden, you get a bunch of demands for you to be all over the place speaking, you publish a book that’s a New York Times Best Seller, and it was at that point that the demands for speaking went through the roof.  So, I’m travelling around all these conferences, you know, like the Ancestral Health Symposium and Paleo f(x) and, just every health conference that’s out there just wanted to bring me in and speak.

I enjoy speaking and it’s a very good way to help to get the word out there to people about what I do and to teach them about health and fitness and nutrition concepts on a pretty big scale…  And it’s a ways to get me away from being in my underwear in front of a podcasting microphone to, instead….  I am in my underwear right now, by the way, just so you know.  I’m wearing them, I just have clothes on top.

Angelo:  I appreciate you clarifying that.

Ben:  I am comfortable in my underwear.  Yeah, anyways, I started doing a lot more speaking especially after my book was published.  I love to speak; I love getting on stage and speaking but it is tough.  At the same time, I feel like it satisfies my love for travelling the world and seeing new things and meeting new people and going out to do that old school equivalent of a man or a woman going out and slaying dragons and providing for the family and then coming back home.  So, going off to a travel adventure to go speak, is kind of similar to me as going off to the Colorado Mountains and hunting elk and coming back.  I kind of dig the experience.

Angelo:  So, anyone who follows you knows you’re not just focused on the body.  You really care about the mind and spirit, as well.  How did that develop out of being the guy that ran the gym…

Ben:  Right!

Angelo:  Who is super focused on the body and maybe being focused on in this technical and intellectual way, but you’re super known for biohacking in a much broader sense and other components of mind optimization and spirit optimization.

Ben:  Sure.

Angelo:  How did that come about?

Ben:  It was two things.  Number one, I realized during my Ironman triathlon career, this was about 2011 or so, and it really was my impetus to start my book Beyond Training, which redefined how you should actually train like take into all these elements like nutrition, digestion, brain, and hormones and all these things a lot of these hard charging exercise enthusiasts fail to pay attention to.  It was my own experience with the fact that I looked really good in spandex, and I was really fast on a bike, and running a marathon, and swimming in my wetsuit, but I wasn’t healthy.

I started to dabble in this world of blood and biomarkers and self-quantification and part of that was speaking in all of these health and fitness conferences.  So, I’m constantly exposed to the most cutting edge tactics for quantifying the body or biohacking, you know.  The podcast does that too! I’m constantly approached by people who are like, “hey! We have this piece of technology and we’re planning on releasing it in a year. We want to use you as the guinea pig to test and trial this thing out!”

So, I was really familiar with this concept of beginning to just test what was going on inside my body and not just outside.  I was having sleep issues, and skin issues, and my cortisol was really high and I started to realize that there’s a lot more to things than just the body.  A big, big part of this came down to the fact that the many of the focus issues and distractibility issues, and sleep issues and hormonal issues I was experiencing were not just due to body dysfunction, but also due to a lot of the inflammation that can build up in neural tissue in the brain from improper training, and from lack of sleep, and from eating the wrong type of foods, right.  Not doing that high protein, low carb bodybuilding diet or that high carb, low fat triathlon diet, but I began to realize that there are other things that are important for neural health like healthy fats such as avocados and olive oils, and sardines, and walnuts and these kinds of things.

So, I started to geek out on these healthy, holistic, ancestral nutrition.  My wife was a huge help in that because she was a rancher girl, she was already into making your own fermented sourdough bread, and milking goats, and raising chickens for eggs, and doing all these things that we do now at our home in Spokane.

Ultimately, the mind part of it, was really making that connection between, not just the holistic approach to the body, but realizing that skull that’s sitting on top of the rest of our body, is kind of like the master controller.  If this is falling apart, in many cases it’s because something is going wrong up here.  This is kind of just the canary in the coalmine for issues that are occurring in the control center.

So, I realized that you have to do more than just take care of the body; you need to optimize the mind.  It’s really just more than eating fat or getting enough sleep.  You have to actually build new neurons, and you have to learn new things, and engage in novelty, and variety, and challenge, and I started to realize that being a complete human, a big, big part of it is challenging your brain, and caring for your brain, and challenging your mind, and optimizing things like focus and creativity.  So, I really started to tap more into that side of things.

In addition to that, I started down the anti-aging and longevity route because a large portion of the people I was working with and these were 40 to 60-year-old men and women.  These were hard-charging, high-achievers who want to live a limitless life, who want to go and do triathlons and marathons, and Spartan races, and crossfit WODs, and they want to figure out how to do it and still live a long time.  So, I started to really get into anti-aging and longevity.  What makes the body actually go for a long period of time; what’s the secret of these long-living people? Sure, a big part of it was stuff I already knew, eating a lot of antioxidants from wild plants, and you move, and you lift, and you sprint, and you consume healthy fats, and you get enough sleep and you get lots of sunshine and fresh air, but I also started to delve into this concept that family, and love, and relationships, and the belief in some kind of higher power or spiritual aspect of life were really the defining characteristics of what made a human, not only live a long time, but be happy doing it.

Sure, I grew up as a Christian, well-familiar with spirituality, granted I kind of went off the deep end in college and after college, kind of forsaking that whole idea and kind of idea and scoffing at, you know, “humans are pretty powerful”, right.  We train our bodies, we train our brains, screw the whole spiritual woo-woo aspect of things, but I realized that there’s actually a lot to that.  Everything from positive emotions, to gratitude, to love, to relationships, to family.

It’s been, three years since I really took a deep dive, into everything from prayer, and meditation, and yoga, and gratitude journaling, and a lot of the things I would have laughed at or scoffed at as an Ironman triathlete riding my bike down the highway or the bodybuilder, as things that old people do or people who aren’t cool do or people who are kind of weird and edgy and kind of hippies living in the forest do.   But I realized that that’s the stuff not only puts the icing on the cake, but it kind of is the cake, right.  Having 6-pack abs or increasing your IQ.  That’s the icing, the cake is the spirit, the cake is the soul.

Really, that’s a big, big part of my goal now is: I don’t want to just help people have, you know, what I started off doing was helping soccer moms look good in bikinis, right? That’s what I was doing in college, just like personal training in a very, very traditional way.  You know, then I got into biohacking and optimizing cognitive performance and neurofeedback and all these other things that can help optimize the brain, and for me, it started with sports performance and kind of turned into “wow, this makes me a more productive CEO, it makes me into a more productive author, it helps me get rid of jetlag…”   But, really, the key to everything is strong spiritual health.  All of that is for naught if your soul sucks, right.  If your spirit isn’t fostered or cared for, if your love, and your relationships, and your family, and equality are dwindling.

So, that’s really how all that kind of evolved.  It started with a keen interest in health and the body and then I realized you got to take care of the control center.  Then, I realized that it’s the invisible that counts even more and it’s what science has shown us, ultimately, results in lasting happiness and longevity.

Now, I’m beginning to learn about Tai chi and qui gong and people have known this stuff for thousands for years, but I had no clue how powerful all these invisible energies are.  How powerful the spiritual side of things is when it comes to making all this work that people do to their bodies and their brains actually means something.  Now, I’m starting to realize that complete optimization of the body, and the mind, and the spirit- things are just clicking.  All of a sudden I’m like, holy cow, I’m 35-years-old right now, and it’s right now that I’m realizing that this is what it feels like to be a completely optimized human.  This is what it feels like when your body is working right and your mind is working right and your spirit is optimize and you wake up happy and fulfilled.  You put all the pieces together and it’s just magical! It’s almost unfair how good you can feel when you optimize body, mind, and spirit- and that’s where I’m at.

From playing tennis in my backyard outside the hills in Idaho to deciding not to be a computer programmer and going on to personal training and playing tennis in college to deciding not to be a doctor, and going on and doing that brief stint in surgical sales and getting into being a fitness manager to moving on and launching my own gyms, and personal training studios to then getting into new media, and speaking, and writing, and online consulting, and all this stuff that I kind of do now.  I realized that, ultimately, the message I want to bring to the world is that “hey, you can optimize your body, your mind, and your spirit. You can do it all!” So, that’s Kion, man.  That’s what I’ve created, this whole concept of “Ki-” getting your Ki on! Optimizing your Ki- feeling that life force, that energy, that chakra, prana, that chi, that Ki- whatever you want to call it!

When you’ve optimized your mind, and your body, and your spirit, it’s a really cool feelings.  Now my soul purpose in life, my calling in life, is to bring that to the world.  That’s what I want to do.

Angelo:  So, talk more about that.  What’s the vision for Kion moving forward?

Ben:  So, my job now is pretty fun.  I want to hunt down the best experts on the face of the planet and get into their brains and basically take everything that they know and bring that to the world in an edutainment sort of way.  In an entertaining and educating sort of way.  I also want to hunt down the best products, the best solutions, the best superfoods, the best nutrients, the best herbs on the face of the planet and bring those to people as ways to take what those experts have proven to actually work and make those accessible to everybody.  Basically be that one-stop-shop for optimizing mind, body, and spirit.  That’s what I want to do with my life is make all this happen for as many people as possible, help other people to experience what I’ve experienced, and what I’m seeing people who have actually discovered that the Ki to get into.  So, that’s the goal.

Granted, I’ve gotten back into writing fiction.   Right now, I’m just putting the finishing touches on my very first ever work of fiction that’s actually done-done that isn’t like the 12-year-old Ben, you know the unrefined work of fiction, but it’s actually a full-on fantasy-fiction novel.  And, I’m getting back into singing and song writing and ukulele and guitar, and a part of this has come from my realization that “hey, you can optimize body, and mind, and spirit all at once.”  I don’t have to wait until I’m 70-years-old doing whatever, watercolor paintings, or making music, or travelling the world, or writing books that maybe aren’t about physiology but my ultimate dream, man, is I want to foster what I loved to do when I was six and seven and eight-years-old which is to read, and to write, and to teach, and to make art and play music, and tap into that love for fiction and fantasy and storytelling and at the same time, I want to find the coolest stuff on the face of the planet that optimizes body, mind, and spirit and bring it to people right here.  Basically, make GetKion.com the place that people go to when they want to feel like a complete human being.

Angelo:  Can you share more about how coaching and the coaching program fits into all of this?

Ben:  I can’t do that all myself.  I really can’t.  I realized that… and I made this mistake early on.  I mentioned that I was running some really cool personal training studios and gyms, but I never really built that army of personal trainers who could do what I was doing so I could help more people.

So, part of Kion is I am mentoring personal trainers, coaches, physicians, chiropractic docs, physical therapists, people who want to learn the same concepts of optimizing mind, body, and spirit and teach them how to interview experts and how to get inside their minds, how to find cool products, how to develop cool products, how to create amazing content that helps people, how to work with their individual clients to optimize not just their body, not just their mind, not just their spirit, but all three.  So, a big, big part of Kion is creating that platform of education.  So, I’m working really hard every day on creating curriculums for coaches to be able to, basically, allow people to be mentored by me and to learn what I’m learning and what I have learned over the past few couple of decades so they can also help people achieve Ki, achieve that total optimization of mind, body, and spirit.  So, yeah, I don’t want to sound hubris or narcissistic but, I kind of want to create this army of mini-mes’ who are doing what I’m doing and hopefully doing it better than I’m doing it.

Angelo:  I can personally attest to working with you closely, your intention to be fully optimized and to bring this to other people, and I don’t mean to go on to a superficial point, but a way that it shows is how productive you are.  It’s insane, man! I’ve never met anyone like you.  I’ve asked you what are the little tactics, but I got to ask you for everyone else that’s watching, how does it work?

Ben:  It comes down to habits and it comes down to, this sounds bad, but selfish habits.  Right? So, I get up earlier than I typically want to get up.  I do optimize sleep, I don’t watch TV, I rarely watch movies, and I’m in bed by some time between nine and 10 pm because I’ve realized that not a lot of productivity happens after 9 pm.  After 9 pm, it gets kind of Facebook-y, Instagram-y, Snapchat-y, “what’s on Hulu?”- that’s where I start to go.  So, I just realized that if I played my kids a song on the guitar, and read them a book, and have some good family time and we go through a gratitude journals, and when the kids go to bed, mom and I will make love or hang out and have a chat, but then I’m usually snoring by 10.

I’ll get up at an hour that allows me to have some me-time and to get momentum for the day but to take care of my body because, frankly, if you feel like crap the rest of the day, you’re not very productive.  You aren’t thinking clearly enough to actually create something like compelling content or a podcast, or to sit down with an expert and get into their mind and do a good interview, those kinds of things.  So, basically, I get up, I have a breathing routine that I go through, I do gratitude journaling, I do some stretching, I’ll hit any sore spots with a foam roller to kind of keep my body supple, I’ll make some coffee and sometimes put some medicinal mushrooms or something like that in it.  I have a good hour where I’m just optimizing my body and preparing.  It sounds like it would be unproductive to waste that hour for the day, but it gives me such a surge of energy that once I finish that morning routine, once I’ve finished the morning habits, then I know, like on our Kion website we’ve got books that delve into what my exact habits are.  But I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having habit and a daily routine and that travels with me all over the globe, anywhere I go.  I’ve stayed at your house before and you’ve been me in my underwear in your living room in the morning doing my yoga with my morning motivation on…

Angelo:  Yeah.

Ben:  And my coffee is brewing.  I carry that momentum, anywhere I go in the world.  If I’m in freaking London, or wherever, getting ready for a day in a conference, I have that morning routine and I can rely upon that anywhere I go and it allows me to be hyper-productive just about anywhere.  So, that’s one of my Ki’s- you start the day by giving yourself with massive amounts of momentum with some kind of routine in the morning that doesn’t involve emails or Facebook or Twitter or anything like that.  It’s just taking care of the body.

The other thing is that, I have, for each day, I have specifically planned out activities for that day that I know I’m going to do.  If somebody says, “hey, you’re going to shoot a video,” I know that Tuesdays are the day I’m going to shoot a video.  I know that Friday and Saturday and Sunday are days that I work really hard in the morning on my fiction book.  I know that Wednesday is a big podcasting day for me.

I’ve categorized a lot of the tasks that I do into buckets so that I don’t have a lot of shiny pennies for that day, I don’t have a lot of things that say, the way I used to operate is that I’d have a long list of tasks that I wanted to accomplish.  I’d just check them all off, and when I was exhausted at the end of the day, whatever I hadn’t checked off kind of just got moved into the checklist for the next day, and the checklist continued to build.  Now, I have certain days where there are certain activities and that kind of helps me chunk the day and categorize the day.  I can look at my schedule for that day and I’d just use a Google calendar to keep track of my schedule and allow others to see my schedule.

Basically, what that allows me to do is to be able to look at my calendar for the day and know exactly what the things are need to accomplish without anything else distracting me because everything else has been put into its respective category for the day.  So, that’s another thing I do.  I chunk and put things into buckets so, if someone says, whatever, “hey, you need to write an article for Men’s Health Magazine,” I don’t drop everything and add that to the checklist and start to skeleton that article, I know okay, Thursdays the day I do a lot of freelancing. So, this goes into Thursdays bucket.  It helps me keep a clear mind.  A big, big part of things is not having a whole bunch of tasks just jumbling around inside your head, but everything goes into an Evernote document for each day, and also a Google calendar for each day so every single day I know exactly what it is when I wake up, that I need to accomplish for that day.

Another thing that I do, I do a lot of multitasking.  I know that there’s this idea that task switching decreases the quality of that task or your ability to achieve that task as quickly, etcetera, like, every time you switch between tasks, it takes you 15 seconds to get back to the next task…  I’m not a fan of whatever, listening to a podcast and writing an article, and having a Skype conversation via chat with a client at the same time.  But, for example, if I’ve got a bunch of like, let say, little phone calls and everybody’s like “I need to talk to you about this, I need to talk to you about that.”  I’ll just chunk all of those for a Sunday morning and I’ll go out and I’ll out 50-pounds in a backpack and put my cellphone on and head on out to the roads or trails and start making those phone calls as I’m moving, as I’m working out.  That’s the same reason I have a standing workstation treadmill at my desk.  So, I get a majority of my obstacle course race training and run training done while I’m just walking five to seven miles a day at a low-level pace just getting work done at my desk.

So, I do a lot of that kind of multitasking.  I’ll do business meetings where I’ll invite guys to a sauna and just sweat and do cold thermogenesis instead of the traditional sit and have lunch.  Again, I’ve hung out with you, and you’ve seen me like, lunch and breakfast are kind of like afterthoughts for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about chewing your food and mindful eating, but I’m not one of those guys who does big, long lunch meetings or drawn on breakfast.  For me, it’s just eat, enjoy your food, make sure you chew it enough, don’t eat stressed, but at the same time, I don’t spend a lot of time on meals and stuff like that.  Usually, dinners are more social for me.  When I’m travelling, that’s when I get a lot of meetings done or when I’m at home, that’s when I’m spending a lot of time with the family.

That’s another one, I have specific habits set up through the day where I’m not spending a lot of time on meals, I know exactly what I’m going to do, and I also don’t allow myself to get distracted.  If you look at my phone, there are no push notifications.  Everything where someone can bug me on the computer while I’m working is off.  So, when I finish my morning routine and I launch into my day, unless someone has contacted me like you, you’re my COO – when I see something come through from you, then I know “Oh, I should probably look at this just in case there’s a fire that needs to be put out.”  Other than that, there’s nothing.  I’m a horse with blinders on for a good four hours, at least, in the morning after I finish that morning routine where I’m just getting stuff done.

I know that the morning is when I’m most productive, so some people are more productive in the afternoon, some people are more productive between one and freaking 5 AM, but for me it’s that morning time.  So, I just get down and do it and I try not to let anything distract me.  Frankly, a big part of it, and it might sound like a copout answer, but it’s discipline and habits.  It’s not getting distracted by pop culture and push notifications and big long, drawn out lunches and coffee meetings.  It’s about figuring out what’s the most important thing to accomplish that’s going to achieve the most meaningful change that you want to achieve in the world and focusing hardcore on that, again, like a horse with blinders or a rabied bulldog with that thing clutched between your teeth, and you just go at it until it’s done.  That’s my method.

Angelo:  So growing up a homeschooled, conservative Christian kid in Idaho, how did you end up with a company named “Kion”?

Ben:  (laughs) I know that Ki has this whole Eastern mysticist feel to it, but Ki is the life force in Star Wars.  It chakra in Street Fighter.  It’s prana in a lot of Eastern cultures.  It’s the chi that moves through your body in acupuncture treatments.  But, I grew up very familiar of the concept, as a Christian, of the Holy Spirit.  I liked this fact that there’s an invisible energy inside us and if we tend it and we care for it, it actually increases our, not just our happiness, but also our meaning, and fulfillment, and direction as a human being.  The ability to not just be aware of the fact that…  We are spirits, that we are souls to a greater extent, we are invisible beings…

You look at Christianity, like where I grew up, you believe you go to Heaven when you die, not just flesh, and blood, and sinews that get buried in the dirt and then your bones decay and that’s just it, you’re gone.  Maybe you wind up as a beetle in the afterlife or whatever.  I’ve always been comfortable with the notion that there is an invisible me, that I do have a soul, and a spirit, and this invisible energy and life force flowing through me, but it wasn’t until I realized that freaking Chinese medicine and a lot of these relatively Eastern practices of optimizing that flow, the energy, they to a certain extent, have figured out that a lot that we, in Western culture have forsaken for more of a body focus or brain focus or more carnal focus.

Again, paying attention to positive emotions: like peace, and love, and joy, and how that made me feel, and how that made me perform, and how that influenced my happiness, and the way that I wake up each morning, and paying attention to the way the different sound frequencies of music make me feel, and getting acupuncture treatments and seeing injuries vanish from needles hitting points where there is invisible energy flowing to the body.  I’ve realized, as I become more open to these ideas that not only are they incredibly important, but they are game changers.  They really can provide you with the ultimate meaning in life when it comes to things that go way above and beyond just like your flesh and your blood and your sinews and your cells.  There’s so much more to life than that; there’s so much more meaning than that.

This whole concept of Ki, this life force, this spirit, this energy of this invisible flow throughout the body, it’s life changing.  If people are watching this or if they’re listening to it and still scoff at the whole spiritual concept because they think it’s woo-woo or whatever, I challenge you to go and meditate for 20 minutes or take a kundalini yoga class, or learn to play a musical instrument, or go listen to someone play a musical instrument and close your eyes, or be silent and start to feel that energy flow.  There’s so many resources that we now have on Get Kion that help people tap into that, but, for me and so many people I know, that’s what has changed our lives and our happiness and our view of the world and our meaning.

Angelo:  As succinct as you can be, how does Kion help people optimize their Ki?

Ben:  Part of it is education.  I don’t just define Ki as having a strong spirit, right.  Who cares, well, I shouldn’t say it because it sounds harsh, but if you’ve got an optimized spirit…  Let’s say you’re like a really spiritual healthy youth pastor or yogi or something like that but you’re morbidly obese eating Cheetos and your brain fails by about 2 PM in the afternoon and you’re preparing your body to die of Type II diabetes when you’re 55-years-old, how much of you are you living up to your calling in life or your true capacity?  And how much are you wasting your potential or squandering what you’ve been blessed with-as far as the gift that you can give to the world, right?

So, it’s not just about woo woo spirituality.  The idea is that, when you come to Ki, I want you to be able to get educated on every single cutting-edge strategy that exists both ancestral and modern for: how to get a good body that performs how it’s supposed to in terms of performance, digestion, recovery, fat-loss, and brain, and sleep, and hormone optimization.  I want you to be able to build a mind that really truly operates like the super computer that it truly is: being able to learn new skills, being able to think laterally, being able to engage in novelty, and variety, and challenge and not get stuck in a rut from a mental standpoint.  Of course, as we’ve already talked about, I want you to learn how to optimize yourself spiritually.

The vision for Kion is to educate people on exactly how they can do that.  Of course there are plenty of solutions from modern science solutions – biohacks like neurofeedback and photobiomodulation and transcranial direct stimulation, and electrical muscle stimulation, and freaking portable exercise equipment like suspension straps, and things that help you train isometrically, and blood-flow restriction devices, all these cool things that you can use as products and solutions that could be considered modern.  There are also ancestral things like Ayurvedic herbs, and there are essential oils, and there are minerals and all sorts of things that we can get as natural goodness from the planet earth that also helps us to optimize both our bodies and our minds.  There are even things for our spirit.  Take something as simple as a gratitude journal or a yoga mat that you can meditate on.  Let’s face it, in many cases, you’re going to achieve mind, body, and spirit optimization far more fully if you have access to solutions and products.  My goal is to identify the best ones and to make those available for people right here on Kion.

The final component in addition to education, in addition to products and solutions is sometimes you need an expert to help you or a group of your friends or to help a group that you’ve joined, like the Kion inner circle, actually navigate through the complexities, answer your questions, design programs for you, help you figure out not only what to eat but whether or not what you’re eating is compatible with your blood, and your saliva, and your stool and your biomarkers, and basically provide that direction for you.  I don’t know about you, but when it comes to accountability, having someone who can train, who can coach, who can consult with is incredibly important.  That’s kind of like the third piece, it’s not just providing people with the coaching and consulting that they can take advantage of for that optimization of Ki, but also taking coaches and training them to be the best that they can be to actually help people get that.

So, big picture, it’s edutainment, it’s solution and products, and it’s coaching and consulting.  When you put all of it together, that’s GetKion.com. That’s the change I want to bring to the world.  I’m freaking having the time of my life doing it.  I love this stuff.  I wake up every morning just super excited to make this happen for as many people as possible and really to become a globally recognized solution for total optimization of mind, body, and spirit.

Angelo:  Well, Ben, I can tell you, man, I’m so grateful to get to be part of this with you.  The mission to really help people optimize not just body, not just mind, not just spirit, but all of it together in one community, in one place, is amazing.  The vision that you’ve got and what you’ve put together here and I’m just psyched to be a part of it, man.

Ben:  Well, if you’re that psyched, will you beatbox us out?

Angelo:  Of course! What should it be? Should it be…

Ben:  I’m just going to say, you make up the theme music and I’ll just play along.  Go for it!

Ben & Angelo: [Beatboxes]



In today's podcast, the roles have been reversed…

…*I* am the interviewee. This rare, up close and personal interview is a continuation of my recent four-part series. If you haven't been following along, you can click to read Parts OneTwoThree, and Four.

If you have been following along, you've already learned about my two-year journey into creating my brand new company, Kion, by answering the question that I pondered while roaming a Kauai beach two years ago…

…is it time to move on?

Should I take two decades of time spent immersed in the fitness trenches, over 4,000 health books consumed, a Master's degree in physiology and biomechanics, voracious studying of every nutrition, digestion and diet tactic in existence, hardcore lessons learned from subjecting my body and brain to the most masochistic events on the face of the planet, ten years of researching and answering podcast questions on everything from muscle gain to memory to migraines…

…and simply walk away?


…is it time to take my years of “dabbling” in the fitness industry and actually do something that helps people on a much more massive scale than me writing exercise programs, making naked YouTube videos of cold showers, running around in the forest throwing spears at hay bales and hacking together superfood smoothies in my kitchen?

Is it time to be open to greatness?

Be open to bringing to this world on a much more massive scale everything I've learned traveling the globe interviewing the world’s longest living, happiest, hard-charging, high-achievers, everything I've learned reading thousands of books and research papers on longevity, happiness, fulfillment, human potential, and everything I've learned immersing myself as a devoted student of the human body, mind, and spirit. Take that creativity, that curiosity, that thirst for knowledge, that education, that experience and that intuition and give it back to the world in a much, much bigger way than I ever have.

Well, there's a lot more to the story than just what's happened the past couple years. So to give you the full scoop, I sat down with Kion's Chief Operating Officer, Angelo Keely, for a deep-dive into my life up to this point.

During our discussion, I reveal plenty of insight and juicy secrets, including:

-The poignant history of my parents and how they ended up in Idaho…[10:00] 

-How my unconventional upbringing and education led to my first successes as a 14-year old entrepreneur…[15:30]

-My intro into tennis and how I fell in love with the sport…[23:10]

-How I – a scrawny book-loving computer geek – became an elite hard-charging athlete and a New York Times best-selling author…[28:22]

-My adventures as a 16-year-old first-year college student…[32:00]

-The “perfect storm” that brewed in my second year of university that led me to take a deep dive into exercise, nutrition, and entrepreneurship… [37:45]

-How I managed to work 3-4 jobs at a time while being a full-time university student…[46:45]

-What turned me off of medical school and becoming a doctor…[50:54]

-Here we break for a stretch, and to be guided through a meditation with Ziva Meditation Founder, Emily Fletcher… [58:40]

-How I met and married the love of my life…[70:40]

-Why I gave up bodybuilding to become a personal trainer…[78:15]

-How I was voted – and won – America's Top Personal Trainer in 2008…[87:50]

-What spurred me to write my first online training program and how it became a top-seller…[92:00]

-Why I value habit, and how habits help me be productive…[113:45]

-How I – an Idaho born and raised, home-schooled conservative Christian – came up with a company called KION…[122:10]

…and much more.

Resources from this episode:

The high resolution, HD, studio video version of this episode


Show Sponsors:

-Four Sigmatic – Go to FourSigmatic.com/Greenfield and use code BENGREENFIELD for 15% off.

-ZipRecruiter – Post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE by visiting ZipRecruiter.com/GREEN.

-Ziva Meditation – To learn how to meditate, visit zivamind.com/bg/ for a special discount on the zivaMIND Meditation Training Program.



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