Six Parallels of Success in Fitness, Personal Finance, and Entrepreneurship


This post came about as the result of a conversation I had recently with a group of individuals who each has attained a level of extraordinary success in a host of different fields. We were discussing, what we believed to be, the “common threads” that exist in people that achieve high levels of success in virtually anything they try their hand at. Some call this the “midas touch”, but I argue that representing this collection of qualities in that way stigmatizes the idea and discourages others who can then simply say they “don’t have it”, or weren’t born with what it takes.

This post is designed to highlight what I feel to be six of the most common qualities found in those that achieve a high level of success in the worlds of physical fitness, personal finance, and entrepreneurship.

Enjoy, and please share this post and comment below.


Discipline is the single most important factor in success of any kind. Those who are successful in each of these three areas possess a level of discipline that those who are less successful do not. Discipline is demonstrated in a variety of ways under each of these three headings. The following five parallels are each technically examples of discipline manifested, and described, in more specific manners.

Simply put, to live your life and enjoy experiences that others can not and will not, you must think in ways, and act in manners that others do not.

Continuing Education

Successful people are serial and habitual learners. Continued success requires evolution in thinking, strategy, and tactics, regardless of which area(s) of your life we’re referring to.

I’ve written before about my “start” in the world of fitness, losing eighty-five pounds as a teenager in a period of two and a half months in hopes of snatching up a particular girl. I quickly went from a fat kid, to a skinny-fat kid with an equally undesirable body, and fell quite short of my mark. Had it not been for this experience to kick-start my head first dive into the world of fitness however, I may never have gained the wealth of knowledge that has allowed me to author books and coach people on the subject for most of my professional career.

This idea of continuing education in fitness can also apply to the individual who has had a great deal of success, but reaches a point where his or her adaptation has dramatically slowed or come to a stand still. He or she must then learn how to break past this “plateau” and continue to improve. Being married to one training methodology, and refusing to flex on one’s approach is a surefire recipe for mediocre results over time.

In the world of finance this is extremely important. The most successful investors are what we call “cycles” investors, who put their money and effort where the market is poised to make money. These people often buy when everyone is selling, and sell when everyone comes rushing in, only to snag up the stocks, commodities, real estate, or businesses that everyone is abandoning and selling at rock-bottom prices. Understanding economics and economic trends and history is essential to succeeding as an investor. This also applies to the individual with less (or no) money to play with, who educates himself or herself as to the opportunities that are available for his or her opening play.

A friend of mine who recently came into a relatively large sum of money came to me to discuss a prospective real estate purchase. He was looking to put about two thirds of his lump sum into a single family, borderline luxury home that he would then rent out for passive income. The property was not rented, and hadn’t been for several months, but his agent had told him that she was sure that it would be rented soon. He told me that he wanted to rent such a property due to the location and “class” of prospective tenants, as he wanted to avoid properties that would attract “riff raff” or trouble tenants. Assuming that he actually rented this place at the rate the agent suggested, he stood to receive roughly $330 per month in income after the property’s mortgage and other expenses were paid.

I then showed him a listing for a property that I had recently come upon; a triplex in a neighborhood that bordered his own, with tenants in all three units who were all locked in to leases (the “short timer” of the group having ten months left). The property was selling for about $30k under what it would assess for since the owners needed out. He would be able to put less than half of what he was willing to put down for the other property on a mortgage that would only represent a little over half of the total rental income that the property had received month to month, like clockwork, for the last several years. He would be netting in the area of $1,100 per month after expenses (mortgage and operating costs) if he chose this property instead, and would be entering into the deal with the $30k in equity to roll into others if he chose at any point due to buying under what it would appraise for.

I’m happy to say that he is in negotiations with the owner on that property now, and will hopefully prosper with it in the years to come. This is an example of a person who was taking action who was able to avoid learning a lesson “the hard way”, by leveraging his contacts and learning from those who were a bit more adept at the subject. I commend him for that.

In business, this concept is also omnipresent with the most successful individuals. A new entrepreneur may begin in business only knowing the best way to deliver their product or service, which is immensely important, but will no doubt have to become educated on topics such as marketing, tax laws, structuring business entities, accounting, managing human resources, effective communication, customer service and retention, and a host of others.

Despite my harping on the importance of education (Note: NOWHERE did I say “conventional education” i.e. Academia), I want to emphasize that those who are successful educate themselves AS they are taking action. There is a colossal difference between this practice, and those who spend all of their time researching the best ways to go about doing something they’ve never actually tried. Whether we’re talking about fitness, finance, or entrepreneurship, this “over analysis” before action produces a person who can talk a good game on a subject at a cocktail party, but who comes up way short when asked to show their biceps, abs, balance sheet, or tax records.

Successful people are doers who learn as they’re doing. They do not spend years becoming “the best that never did it”.

A Strong Offense and a Capable Defense

For this one I want you to think about the game of football (NFL for my foreign readers). Both the offense and defense are necessary to the prospect of winning the game, however a team with the best offense in the league can succeed if their defense is only a “middle of the road” squad.

Consider the inverse; if your team has a leading defense that only allows three points (one field goal) in the game, you can still lose if your offense is unable to put any points on the board.

This concept of a strong offense and a capable defense is a critical element of success in each of the three areas that this article discusses.

In terms of fitness, a person who takes action regularly, in ways that are most conducive to his or her goals is demonstrating a strong offense. Likewise, their defense is represented by not consuming gross amounts of “bad” foods, foregoing sleep, or otherwise interfering with their recovery and hence their adaptation.

The reason why my Greyskull trainees, both at the home base and around the world via Personal Coaching, are able to live life with a bit more leeway in this department (sometimes in a borderline or outright debaucherous manner) is due to the strength of their offense. They are taking action in a habitual and consistent manner, using the proven strategies and tactics that they have been instructed to used based on their personal fitness and body goals. This puts them leaps and bounds ahead of the compulsive, fanatical, diet zealot types, and those who otherwise obsess on restriction and adherence to the principles of “defense” in fitness without demonstrating an offensive strategy that most would run to hide from.

In personal finance, this concept is also extremely apparent with those who are successful.

Many modern books and publications sold to the masses focus on the defensive strategies of finance. These include eliminating “frivolous” spending on items such as dinners out, and other entertainment, and emphasizing an aggressive strategy for saving and investing in “secure” vehicles that will help you accumulate wealth slowly, in the long term.

There is NOTHING wrong with this line of thinking, and I myself am much more “frugal” than most, however those who are truly kicking ass in the world of finance place a much larger emphasis on their offense. This means that he or she is constantly working to increase income through a variety of channels.

Consider the guy who makes $50,000 per year, who finances a new “luxury” vehicle. He is probably paying somewhere in the ballpark of $600 per month, between his payment and insurance, or roughly fifteen percent of his pre-tax income (those in the “employee” category pay taxes before they make purchases unlike those in the business or investor categories who buy everything they can first, and then pay tax on what’s left- how does $1,100 in state and federal taxes for the year on a $200,000 shown gross look to you?). Now the more aggressive individual who is raking in $15,000 per month through income generating assets that he built (or purchased) who makes the same payment is only shelling out about four percent of his income (more than likely on a more exotic or more luxurious vehicle that is a “leftover” or a few years old to avoid the massive depreciation that occurs when the new car leaves the lot- as I once said when in talks to purchase a 2005 Maserati Cambiocorsa in 2010, “Does anyone really know or care that it’s a 2005?).

I don’t say this to place any importance on the vehicle that you drive. I’m currently in between “fun” vehicles at this time, and use a 1988 Ford F150 that I bought for $1,000 years ago as a “project truck” as my daily driver (defense anyone?). I’m simply demonstrating once again how a person with a strong offense is afforded much more leeway in terms of his or her defense than a the miserly “get rich at retirement age” type. Both strategies can bring about personal wealth, but personally I’m not going to gamble on the fact that I’ll even be alive at 65 years old, much less want to start enjoying “the fruits of my labor” at that time.

As an entrepreneur, this is especially important. If you have no offense; a strong product or service which evolves due to research and development, and/or the development of new streams of revenue, marketing efforts, or necessary scale expansion, you certainly are not going to grow and prosper.

Defense in business is represented by minimizing costs that can be reduced without compromising quality, seeing to it that customers and clients are appeased in the event of a mishap (giving a customer double their money back, or a free product costs you much less in the long run than bad reviews plastered on the internet), and managing your personnel well in order to maximize your payroll expenditures represent the defense component. Can you imagine a company which focuses on these elements primarily or exclusively growing and prospering without an offensive strategy in place?

Didn’t think so.

To win you must have both sides of the coin, though your emphasis must always be on the offense. As we say in the world of fighting, “No one ever blocked their way to victory”.

A Focus on Efficiency

Success in all three of these areas requires a focus on those actions which deliver the most results.

In building and training your body, this can mean emphasizing compound exercises, high intensity conditioning work, and simple, lifestyle-friendly dietary strategies. These ideas are the “bread and butter” concepts that you will find in my books on these subjects such as “The Greyskull LP”, and “SWOLE:The Greyskull Growth Principles” (SWOLE being, in my opinion, still the most straightforward and easy to implement book in terms of diet methodology in existence). Both of these books also employ a “layering” approach, which involves establishing a base comprised of the most “bang for your buck” actions, and then adding in additional “layers” of efficient and effective actions to increase the overall success achieved from your efforts.

In the world of personal finance, this focus on efficiency could mean placing an emphasis on particular strategies for investment, or income generation that are most effective for your individual situation. A common problem seen in individuals who fail to achieve their personal financial goals is a sort of “over-diversification”. I’m not saying that you should put all of your eggs in one basket necessarily, just that you want to distribute them in an intelligent manner in the baskets that are yielding the best results for you.

The successful entrepreneur is all too familiar with this concept of efficiency. He or she no doubt learns, over a period of time in business, which of his or her efforts produce the most income, the least customer complaints, the fewest logistical issues, and the highest customer or client retention. The entrepreneur explores many options in both “offense and defense”, and employs the 80/20 rule effectively, placing the majority of their efforts into the practices that produce the best overall results for the business, with the clientele or customers that form the bulk of their base, and reducing or eliminating those efforts which yield little income or lots of unnecessary or undesired headache.

A Lack of Focus on Instant Gratification

A promise of instant, or extremely rapid success is probably the most powerful play that a marketer can use. Truly successful people however, understand the most cliched, “boring”, and undeniably true bits of wisdom of the ages which is that success does not come overnight, but rather as a result of disciplined, consistent, effort taken in an intelligent and evolving manner in a direction that is conducive to the accomplishment of the objective.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of fitness. Virtually every “fitness marketer” out there is promising the “next best thing” in terms of fitness technology that can turn a fat person into a lean, sexy, in shape individual virtually overnight. Those who have attained that status however, know that their results are the product of their consistent efforts, their personal habits, and their historically demonstrated discipline.

In finance this is no different. Loads of people out there make money promising to help others “get rich quick”. While it is possible to accumulate a significant amount of money in a relatively short period of time with a great idea, backed by great habits and strategies, most who accumulate wealth do it over a period of time where disciplined effort is demonstrated. Even those “overnight successes” that everyone likes to read about have a backstory that only those interested in studying the process and not just the event of success ever research or discover.

I can recall walking through a bookstore with my mother when I was about eight years old and commenting to her, upon strolling through the finance section en route to the martial arts books, that “evidently the best way to ‘get rich quick’ is to write a book on how to get rich quick”. My mom laughed at my remark, but that moment sticks out in my memory to this day.

In business it is no different. It’s a commonly shared fact that most businesses fail in the first year. While this discourages some from even trying, others seemingly disregard this established fact, and expect to achieve greatness by merely showing up for their first day of entrepreneur summer camp. Success takes time; your customer base has to experience your product and service and talk to others about it. They need to have positive customer service experiences with you that they can then share with others, and they need to see that you are capable of continually delivering quality goods and services before they will recognize you as a reputable brand in the field. If you think your shit is so tight that you’ll be a wrecking ball force in the industry after your first offering, I encourage you to go listen to Milli Vanilli and reconsider.

I consider myself a fan of author and blogger Tim Ferris. I enjoy his books, particularly his flagship, “The Four-hour Workweek”. This book became a worldwide bestseller rapidly (Tim is the best when it comes to strategizing such an event by the way), but in my interactions with the masses I feel that most missed much of the point of the book entirely. The underlying message is one of streamlining your efforts, and freeing yourself from those activities that take the most of your time without delivering reward. The takeaway for many was a prescription for laziness, and the notion that the “new rich” sit on their ass and do little to advance themselves as if the wealth fairy is going to shit a million dollars a night under your memory foam pillow while you sleep.

In my regrettably infrequent interactions with one of my mentors in business, for whom Ferris himself was the first angel investor, the common joke when inquiring how business is going is “Are you putting in more than four hours per week?”. Again, this is not a shot at Tim, but rather the “hear what I want to hear” readers who interpret his message as a validation for their own lack of drive and initiative. I can assure you that Tim busted his Tango champion ass in building the machine that now powers his relatively “hands free” empire.

Successful people put in work consistently in the activities that yield them the highest rewards, and routinely assess their results in order to make adjustments. Not one hyper-succesful individual that I’ve had the privilege of meeting and learning from has experienced or expected success to be handed to them overnight.

Avoidance of the “Do What You Love” Trap

In a recent post entitled “Ever Seen a Fat Guy Run a Five-Minute Mile?”, I spoke about the human tendency to do those things that we enjoy or that we’re good at, often times to the exclusion of those things which might be more or even most conducive to accomplishing our overall fitness goals. I feel that post did an excellent job of explaining this concept as it pertains to the body, so if you haven’t read it I highly encourage you to do so.

In finance, doing what you love is less of an issue for many, since most (that I work with at least) haven’t been “in the game” long enough to “love” anything. This can be a problem however if the person has been influenced by family or others who have achieved some success financially in an era where what made sense was a bit different than now. As we’ve transitioned from the industrial age to the information age, there is still much of the former age’s wisdom being espoused in conventional education, and being passed on to younger generations from family. Consider that during the direct benefit era of retirement plans, a person could work at a company for a period of time and retire with his or her salary for life, guaranteed. Now, in the direct contribution era, employees “gamble” with 401k plans, and run the risk of ending up with nothing in the end if the funds are mismanaged or a shift in today’s notoriously volatile market occurs at an inopportune time. For most, avoiding the “do what you love” trap in finance is more appropriately described as avoiding the “do what you know”, or “do what you’ve been taught with no research of your own”. Now more than ever it is imperative that “young” people become financially literate on their own, and learn the valuable information and skills that will most effect their personal economies in the years to come.

This is the undisputed “big boy” in the world of entrepreneurship. Loads of “gurus” make money telling people to “follow their passion” or “do what they love” in their pursuit of wealth and abundance. This again is a great notion assuming the market has a place for your passionately delivered product or service.

I’m frequently contacted by individuals with well paying jobs who are looking to “exit the rat race” by opening their own gym due to their passion for training. I won’t get into the often absent, intangible qualities that are necessary for success in this field, but I will say that many of these individuals fail in their initial efforts (I wrote about this topic extensively in my book “Success in Personal Training” which I think that everyone reading this blog, whether aspiring to jump into that world or not should read on the count of the life and business lessons alone).

Sometimes what you may be passionate about is not going to be profitable.

Now, am I saying that you should waste away collecting a paycheck in a profession that you hate?

Really? The fact that you ask that makes me want to lose my prosciutto, genoa salami and provolone with homemade sweet peppers and bottle of Cabernet that I had for lunch.

Simply put, to be successful in business you have to deliver where there is a need or demand for your product or service.

A good friend of mine who I admire greatly, and who has been one of the most influential entrepreneurship mentors that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, has a passion for making pizzas. That’s right, he started as a teenager and leveraged his love and talent for making exquisite pizza (in a saturated market I might add) into a large empire of franchises, and real estate holdings (he buys a strip mall, rents out all the shops, and puts in one of his pizza shops where he collects franchise fees and percentage).

In the last five years this man has traveled to Florida to attend a school on how to make ice cream from scratch, noticing a lack of a traditional “gelateria” in the area, and an open building on one of his plots, and even learned the business of, managed, and personally operated a Laundromat for six months in another location where he was having trouble finding a tenant for a difficultly zoned piece of real estate (his laundromat now yields him more income per year than the average American makes with zero upkeep from him personally).

Tell this man that you need to follow your passion in business and he will “agree and disagree”.

I’m reminded of a Superbowl commercial from a few years back where basketball star Shaquille O’Neal was riding a horse as a jockey. Let’s say Shaq never wanted to play pro ball, but was really good at it. Let’s say his lifelong dream was to be a jockey instead. Now, how successful do you suppose this seven foot behemoth would have been in the world of professional horse racing?

Here’s the kicker…

Now that Shaq has amassed wealth through not only basketball, but other avenues such as endorsements, investments, and the like, do you suppose he can afford to buy a big ass horse and “play” jockey all day long if he wanted to?

Of course he can.

The most successful people in entrepreneurship make money where there is a need for something new or something better, not by default by “following their passion”. The caveat here is that once you acquire the wealth that filling such a void can provide, you are much more free to follow your passions whether they cost you money, make you money, or make you plain look like a fool.

Successful people do what needs to be done so that they can enjoy doing what they truly want to do, on their own terms, for as long as they see fit.


Now that we’ve discussed these ideas, I have a proposition for you:

I want to be your Personal Coach.

Let me assist you in shortening the distance between you and your targets in these three fields. Let’s ¬†work together to leverage the experience and knowledge that I have, coupled with your own of your personal situation to make the biggest, most significant dent on the world that we can.

If you’d like to take me up on my offer, you can click here to visit my Personal Coaching section. If you are a Veteran, or wish to purchase Coaching for a Veteran in your family or circle, you can use the code VETSCOACH that I created, at checkout, to receive 50% off of the price of a single session coaching call.

You can opt for a single session, or beef up your efforts with a three, six, or twelve session package, or even my new, experimental “Jump Start” program . Whatever your selection, let’s get to work, and get you maximizing your efforts today.

If you don’t want to make this level of investment at this point, or wish to think on it a bit more before taking action, I highly encourage you to read my bestselling book “Blueprint to Beast” in the meantime. This title examines many of the ideas that I use with my Coaching clients, and will provide you with a wealth of knowledge on how to use the power of your own brain to better access the resources necessary to take you to the next level of success and beyond.

When you’re ready to step up to the big leagues and make serious change for the better in each of the areas that we discussed today, make the investment in yourself in Personal Coaching, and you and I can get to work ASAP.

Best of luck for a long, successful, and prosperous life.



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