**You can read ‘Iron and the Soul’ by Henry Rollins here: https://oldtimestrongman.com/articles/the-iron-by-henry-rollins
0:00:12.1 Mike Vacanti: Hello, Jordan.
0:00:13.9 Jordan Syatt: Hello, Michael.
0:00:15.6 Mike Vacanti: What’s happening?
0:00:16.0 Jordan Syatt: Not much, man. Feeling pretty good. Feeling pretty good. How are you? You had a nice push day today?
0:00:21.1 Mike Vacanti: I’m doing well. I did have a nice little shoulder dominant push day, felt good.
0:00:27.5 Jordan Syatt: Should we just dive right in and talk about this title $200K is always $200K?
0:00:33.3 Mike Vacanti: Who are these characters putting dollar figures in their podcast title? Yeah, and I’ll let you set it up, but it relates to a really important and profound poem. I guess, I think it’s a poem article, like journal entry poem from Henry Rollins.
0:00:50.0 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, it’s not like a poem that rhymes, and anyone who is [chuckle] a very well-versed in poems and knows the different names, like Haikus and whatnots, it’s gonna be like, geez, they’re idiots. I don’t know the different styles of poems, but it’s not like roses are red, violets are blue type of a poem. It’s like a short written article, poem type thing by Henry Rollins, and it actually changed my life when I first read it. I first read it when I was in college and in a really bad place and… You’re gonna read it, right? You’re gonna read it in a second after I discuss this?
0:01:23.6 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. Yeah.
0:01:24.4 Jordan Syatt: So in a second Mike is gonna read it. If you haven’t read it already, and even if you have, it’s something that always hits home whenever you hear it, especially if you’re into strength training. But $200K is always $200K, actually, you’ll see where it comes from within this little poem, and it was actually something… I think I said it to you well, like, five years ago as a joke, and it’s just always been an inside joke between us ever since.
0:01:50.4 Mike Vacanti: By the way, I think I said it to you, but…
0:01:52.2 Jordan Syatt: Are you sure?
0:01:52.8 Mike Vacanti: The details are fuzzy. No, I’m not sure, but I’m 81% sure.
0:01:57.7 Jordan Syatt: I could’ve swore that I said it only because I remember you laughing really hard, and I really like when people laugh at what I say. So, I was like, Oh man, that was a good one, but maybe you’re the one that said it and then you just laughed at your own joke.
0:02:13.3 Mike Vacanti: It was a joke, but it’s also profound in many ways. And by the way, I don’t remember the first time I read this. I do remember where I found it. I found it linked from Two Plus Two, which is an online poker forum in the health and fitness section…
0:02:28.4 Jordan Syatt: No way.
0:02:30.1 Mike Vacanti: Dead serious. That’s where I found Lyle as well, funny enough, but… And Martin, which is crazy.
0:02:37.2 Jordan Syatt: That’s crazy.
0:02:37.3 Mike Vacanti: The poker world. But yeah, it had a profound impact on my outlook and the connection between aesthetics, vanity, and strength training, and kind of ways in which they’re connected, in ways in which they should be disconnected.
0:02:55.7 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. So, we wanted to clarify before we dive into all of this that this isn’t like, Yeah, you gotta make 200K or you gotta sell a high-ticket mastermind coaching bullshit, it’s not… This isn’t what that is. We wanted to talk about the iron and go into that a little bit, and then also talk… Mike and I were talking this morning when I was driving back from Jiu-Jitsu about finances. And I always love talking to Mike about finances, ’cause I always learn something new and take something from it. We were also talking about… We’re talking about inflation and all this stuff. And so, then we were like, You know, we should talk about finances, and we should talk about some of the maybe the mistakes that people are making with money, and also some things that people can do to help them not only be more intelligent with their money, but also to help you make more money and to help you grow your business. So that’s what this episode is gonna be about before we get into the Q&A.
0:03:47.3 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. And honestly, if you’ve listened to one podcast of ours prior to this one, you know where we stand in terms of money and business, and where we stand in terms of what are good and bad reasons to start an online coaching business and doing it primarily for money is not a good reason. It’s not a good idea, we don’t recommend it, and it won’t lead to long-term success. There needs to be an inherent passion around both coaching, fitness, and helping people, first and foremost. And so, if this is your first podcast ever, you might have been a little confused by the title, but our goal is not to get rich quick or anything along those lines.
0:04:27.3 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, which is also important for the people who might have never listened to a podcast before and they see this one and they think, Oh cool, this is gonna be like, How to Make Money, get rich quick pod… No, that’s not what it is, and that’s not what we’re about. So if that is what you’re looking for, find a new podcast, buddy.
0:04:46.8 Mike Vacanti: Should I read it?
0:04:47.9 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. So Mike is gonna read the Iron by Henry Rollins right now.
0:04:51.9 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, and it’s a little bit… So if you would rather read this on your own because it’ll be faster and skip ahead three minutes, four minutes, I’m not exactly sure in audio time, go for it. But…
0:05:02.9 Jordan Syatt: No, not three minutes. I bet it’ll be 60 to 75 seconds. I’m gonna put a timer on and see.
0:05:07.7 Mike Vacanti: Absolutely not. Okay, I’ll start now. Iron And The Soul by Henry Rollins. I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention, to not be like your parents, to not be like your friends, to be yourself completely. When I was young, I had no sense of myself, all I was was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered, fear of my parents, the humiliation of teachers calling me garbage can and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size, I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me, I didn’t run home crying, wondering why. I knew all too well, I was there to be antagonized. In sports, I was laughed at, a spaz. I was pretty good at boxing, but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy. I hated myself all the time.
0:06:11.3 Mike Vacanti: As stupid as it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to be pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade, other losers. Some of them are to this day, the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who had his head flushed down the toilet a few times, treat them with respect and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked, teachers gave me a hard time. I didn’t think much of them either. Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the black board. Mr. P could see I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October, he asked me if I ever worked out with weights, I told him no.
0:07:10.4 Mike Vacanti: He told me that I was going to take some of my money that I had saved and buy a 100 pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father really got that close to caring. On Saturday, I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly. Monday came, and I was called into Mr. P’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to workout. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take a punch, we would know that I was getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym, he showed me 10 basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes, I didn’t want to blow it.
0:08:09.4 Mike Vacanti: I went home that night and started right in. Weeks passed and every once in a while, Mr. P would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway sending my books flying. The other students wouldn’t know what to think. More weeks passed and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar, I could sense the power inside my body growing, I could feel it. Right before Christmas break, I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere, Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said, I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart, my biceps bulged, my chest had definition, I felt strong. It was the first time I can ever remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could take it away. You couldn’t say shit to me.
0:09:00.2 Mike Vacanti: It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted, I was wrong. When the iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went to the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against, will always work against you. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I learned that by working out, I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work, and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout. I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me, pain is not my enemy, it is my call to greatness.
0:09:58.7 Mike Vacanti: But when dealing with the iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to, and the iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control. I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect, the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character, and it is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr. Pepperman.
0:10:48.8 Mike Vacanti: Muscle mass is not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity, strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional, that it comes from the body and the mind and the heart. Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weekend body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I’m with the iron. Once I was in love with a woman, I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body. Everything in me wanted her, so much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I’ve ever felt, but she lived far away and didn’t see her… And I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness, to this day, when I workout, I usually listen to ballads. I prefer to workout alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent.
0:11:51.0 Mike Vacanti: And I have found no better teacher. The iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies, they are no longer whole. I see them move from their offices to their cars and on their suburban homes, they stress out constantly. They lose sleep, they eat badly, and they behave badly. Their egos run wild, they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the iron mind. Through the years, I’ve combined meditation, action and the iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.
0:12:43.0 Mike Vacanti: The iron is the best anti-depressant I’ve ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and the body had been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back. The Iron never lies to you, you can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re some… You’re a God or a total bastard, the iron will always kick you the real deal. The iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the iron to be my greatest friend, it never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go, but 200 pounds is always 200 pounds.
0:13:25.5 Jordan Syatt: Man. Alright, I was wrong by the way, that was eight minutes and 19 seconds. [chuckle] But wow dude, that was so good. And every time I listen to this or read it, I take something else from it. There was one line in there that I never paid attention to before, that was, people are motivated by thing… By that will… People are motivated by that which will eventually give them a stroke, which… That really hit home with me today being like, Oh man, it would sorta go as with what we’re talking about with this title, it’s like, people are so motivated by whether it’s money or appearance or whatever it is, that it’s eventually gonna be the thing that kills them. It’s that one, I really like that one a lot.
0:14:11.3 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. What always stood out to me the first time I read it, I’ll never forget, was that he had to go such a substantial amount of time before he could look in the mirror. Because my first ever experience with strength training, physical fitness, etcetera, was in probably sixth grade. I remember doing ab crunches and ab movements from a magazine in my basement wanting abs, like insert. I don’t remember exactly, but magazines like I equated abs with peak male and get the girl, and that was all intertwined. And when I read that, it was extremely impactful and still is, because I see that previous version of myself in coaching clients to this day. I see that hyper-focus on the body to the point where you’re not even having good workouts, because you’re so concerned with how you look on a day-to-day basis, and that Mr. Pepperman being like, And you can’t look at yourself in the mirror until I tell you can, and then Henry, following that advice, that hit big for me.
0:15:19.4 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah, I love that, man. This is… It’s… Fuck. I feel like I should read this… Start the day every day with this.
0:15:25.9 Mike Vacanti: There’s a lot in there.
0:15:27.3 Jordan Syatt: Did you read that on oldtimestrongman.com? Is that where you got it?
0:15:31.8 Mike Vacanti: I did, yes.
0:15:33.0 Jordan Syatt: Got it. Okay, yeah, man, what an absolutely amazing piece. I remember one time I put that in the inner circle, early… In the early days of the inner circle, when I would write an article every month, there was one month where I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna share this, and make sure everyone reads this. It’s just… It’s so good. And the last line, but 200 pounds is always 200 pounds, it’s just… It’s so true. It doesn’t matter, it’s… Oh man, what a great piece. Where do we go from here?
0:16:02.5 Mike Vacanti: I was actually thinking, and this might have just been the state of mind that we were in in 2016, 2017, whenever it was that we had the $200K is always $200K, but I had felt like it was more profound at the time, and that there was more of a correlation between the two. But re-reading the whole piece, it’s not as apparent. The one place that it is apparent is… And it boils down to what money means to me. And that is, freedom.
0:16:39.3 Jordan Syatt: Yeah.
0:16:41.3 Mike Vacanti: It’s flexibility. It’s the ability to not worry about money. That’s the biggest thing that earning some money, that going from zero to 250K savings, and then to 50K, and then to 100k, and then you check off milestones, and at a certain point it becomes about ego. But when you’re on that journey of making the sacrifice of having a budget, spending less, enjoying fewer short-term pleasures and working hard to earn money and save, what you’re doing is, you’re creating future freedom for yourself. And when you get to bigger numbers, then it’s like, Okay, enough is enough, there’s a certain point where it’s competition, it’s vanity, it’s characteristics that most of us aren’t pursuing ourselves, but the safety and security from… Going from having no savings, living paycheck to paycheck, to having months and months and then eventually years of runway, meaning, if you didn’t work for multiple years, you would have enough savings to sustain your lifestyle, that’s freedom. That’s alleviation of having to worry about money, and that’s extraordinarily important.
0:17:56.2 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. I agree. I think also… I remember something Pat Flynn said to me when I was like 25, where he basically said, there’s a point at which he’s like making money, ’cause it is gonna solve more problems until you get to a point which it’s going to create more problems. And I was also… I was listening to this interview with Joe Rogan, and I forget the guy’s name today, it was a clip of it, they were talking about Anthony Bourdain, they were both very good friends with Anthony Bourdain. And this guy who was on the interview who was talking about how Anthony Bourdain, who ended up committing suicide, he was… Anthony had called him like a year before he ended up committing suicide, basically saying, Hey man, I need help. He’s like, I’m fucking miserable. Which is like, it’s so crazy, ’cause you see this guy, he’s super famous, clearly unbelievably well off, just… But outrageously miserable and eventually driven to the point of committing suicide.
0:18:48.5 Jordan Syatt: And I think that it’s such an easy thing to get caught up in. And the same way that when you get into fitness, it’s so easy to get caught up in how you look and I wanna get this body, ’cause I wanna impress other people and all this other stuff. I think it’s so easy to get cut up in the, I wanna make more money, or I wanna get more followers just because it’s so easy to focus on that. And when that becomes all you care about and all you focus on, it’s never going to be enough, no matter how much money you make, it’s.
0:19:18.0 Jordan Syatt: It’s a never-ending thing. And when you really think about any time you accomplish something, maybe you hit… When you first started, maybe the goal was, I don’t know, maybe just to, maybe you had another job and then you were just making this your side hustle and you’re like, “Alright, I just wanna make $1000 a month, and then $2500 a month, and then $3000 a month, and then $10,000 a month, and from there… ” And every time you hit that goal, maybe you’re happy for a day, but that’s all it lasts. And then, next one, next one, next one, it just, it never ends. And at what point do you actually start to enjoy life? At what point do you actually start to say like, “Okay, now I can focus on something else, now I can enjoy my family, or I can pursue another passion”? At what point do you say, “Alright, enough is enough”? And I actually think we see this from the physique perspective in body builders and physique competitors, who they’re never big enough, they’re never lean enough, and they just keep getting bigger and bigger and doing all this stuff to their body where it just, it never ends, it never ends. And it’s a dangerous road to go down.
0:20:18.1 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, the meaning and the joy is in the pursuit. It’s not in the attainment of the goal, it’s in the process, it’s in the pursuit of the goal. So, you’re working hard and helping people, and as a result, you’re making more and more money, that feels good. That process feels good. But hitting a milestone is empty. Yeah, and that’s why you’ll never have enough is correct, but shifting where your focus is as far as what your goals are, having financial goals is okay at certain periods of time, but you don’t wanna spend your entire life chasing, resetting a new milestone every single time you earn X dollars. And that shifting, we’ve talked, we don’t need to go into balance and being imbalanced at certain times in life, but we’ve talked about that both in the mentorship and here extensively.
0:21:18.8 Mike Vacanti: Something I literally thought about this morning with a sense of gratefulness and appreciation for where I am right now, and it’s basically, at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t know what was happening, and a lot of governments around the world really tightened things up and locked things down. And being in New York, it was on the more intense side with lockdowns relative to other states in the US at least. And I remember, I was fortunate in that I had a gym that I could go to that was empty if I needed to get a workout. But I was just thinking the secondary market for at-home workout equipment went bananas. Like everything 3X, you couldn’t get a pair of adjustable dumbbells for less than $2000. So there was a three… And you know, you can just do bodyweight workouts, of course, but what is the most important defense against this virus that was floating around? Age, obviously, and we’re not gonna go in on this ’cause we’re not qualified.
0:22:29.0 Jordan Syatt: Age and being healthy, yeah.
0:22:30.4 Mike Vacanti: But being healthy. And if I were in a position where I was living paycheck to paycheck and hadn’t saved anything, I wouldn’t have been able to get equipment to continue my routine that keeps me healthy. And just that’s one micro and kinda nuanced example, but the ability to spend $1000 on some equipment that I want or need based on what’s happening to continue living a healthy lifestyle, that’s really important to me. And the fact that I had the ability and option to do that, but when a decade ago, I wouldn’t have had the option to do that. And over 50% of Americans, I don’t know worldwide stats, but over 50% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. So, that’s a lot of people who don’t have freedom and flexibility to make these important decisions.
0:23:24.4 Jordan Syatt: Bro, you remember my wife and I, we were in that tiny little studio and we were, right at the beginning, we’re like, “You know what, screw it, we’re going to Boston.” Number one, so we could be closer to my mom, ’cause we didn’t know the severity of everything, and I wanted to make sure that like, hey, if you need anything, if you catch it, you have caretakers here, and also, because we wanted a bigger space rather than being stuck in this teeny-tiny studio. And that was an extra several thousand dollars in order to pay for five weeks of an Airbnb. If I didn’t have that ability, if I didn’t have that freedom, which 10 years ago, I definitely would not have, it would have been a completely different story. We would’ve been stuck. And I think, especially in a place like New York City or really any city where there are parents who have two, three, four or five kids, and they’re all stuck in that same size apartment who they don’t have that ability, they don’t have that freedom, that ability to go to a bigger place or to get out of the city.
0:24:16.8 Jordan Syatt: I think that’s why a lot of people… It’s funny, if you look at, there was a huge exodus, a mass exodus from New York and Los Angeles over the last couple of years, and the people who left are the top earners are the top several percent of the people who make the most money because they could, whereas a lot of people who don’t have the ability to financially, they’re stuck there, even though they don’t wanna be there anymore.
0:24:40.5 Mike Vacanti: Yeah. In terms of freedom and flexibility, it’s so important, and I also believe that obviously, we’re all advantaged and disadvantaged in different ways, but that regardless of the position, and you mentioned the person working hard who has a lot of kids, it’s a lot harder being in that position than if you’re 24 years old and hungry and single and don’t have… It’s harder, but it’s still possible. It’s still possible. It might be a slower process, you might have to work hard. It’s different, but it is still possible to get yourself in a position where you have that savings that alleviates the pressure and gives you future freedom and flexibility.
0:25:31.4 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. It’s without question possible. It’s just something that we’ve seen in the mentorship, which is honestly just blown me away, like seeing the different people from different backgrounds in different places, putting in work, people with kids, multiple kids, single parents, whatever it is, just doing amazing stuff. But yeah, it is harder, and I think some people… It’s funny noting what some people just need to hear, some people like, “I just need to hear you say, it’s harder.” Yeah, it’s definitely harder, but it’s also definitely possible. Some people just need to be told, but can you just tell me that my position is harder. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s harder. It is, it’s way harder. Me starting my business at 21 from my college dorm room was way easier than it would be starting at 30, married and you know what I mean? Whatever, 35 or 40 with another job and kids dependent on me, whatever it is, but it definitely is still possible.
0:26:20.9 Jordan Syatt: And I think one of the things that I definitely like to hear your thoughts on just in terms of… I think one of the questions that people have in terms of finances and creating this freedom, I think their thoughts immediately go to making more money, which is sort of like in fat loss, a lot of people, they immediately, their first thoughts are, “Well, what can’t I eat?” It’s like, “What foods am I not allowed to eat?” When in reality, it’s like, well, what foods can you eat more of is sometimes a better approach. So in terms of finances, obviously working towards making more money is a very realistic and a smart goal, but also the idea of stop spending money on stupid shit. Instead of only thinking about, “Okay, well how can I make more?” It’s like, well, what if you just took a little bit of money and saved it or put it into investments or whatever, because I know you were explaining to me, and I don’t really know the ins and outs of this, but you were talking about how in something like inflation happens, the people who have money in investments, they end up making the most. They end up doing the best, whereas the people who are living paycheck to paycheck, they get hurt the most.
0:27:31.9 Mike Vacanti: Correct. So to hit the first part of what you said first, that was the sole thing I was thinking about was minimizing spending. And this isn’t a life-long commitment to not having any fun. It’s not like, “Okay, this is now how I’m gonna live for the rest of my time on earth.” But it was, “Okay, I’m quitting this accounting.” Even when I was working the accounting job, so for example, working a nine to five, you’re not in a position to really make more money. Maybe you get a 12% raise or a 15% raise instead of 6% or an 8% raise, but that isn’t gonna move the needle, like absolutely dialing in your spending. And it’s also important to get off of… I think of a boxer with his back against the ropes, that’s the position you’re in when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck at the time. I had a few months of runway savings through working since I was 10 years old as a caddy, but I was in a position when I started my accounting job when I knew from day one that I did not want to be working that job, and I knew that I needed to save money to get in a position when I wouldn’t have to.
0:28:55.1 Mike Vacanti: And so I lived in a three-bedroom apartment with four people, there were four of us. We had one guy living in the main, in the living room area, his bed was sitting next to the couch, and I think we paid $340 or $350 each per month to live there. It was a crappy apartment complex. Groceries, so I would use my parent’s Costco membership. I wasn’t going to Target or Whole Foods or any of, I was getting the cheapest of the cheap. I was buying eggs, they used to have 144 eggs for $7.99, which now I think back on them like nah. But I wasn’t thinking like free range, there was nothing for a solid two years while I was working the accounting job, and then in my first year in New York City, where it was just purely, how much can I save, which meant, how little can I spend? Am I gonna take a cab or a subway? Nope, I’m gonna walk. It’s 27 blocks, that’s okay. Those were the micro-decisions for a solid two-year period where I spent as little as possible. And that is, you’re not always fully in control of how much money you’re making. You can make more content, you can work harder, you can write more articles, and if you do that over a long enough time horizon, clients will come. But in the short term, you have control over the process, but you don’t necessarily have control over how much money you’re making, but you have 100% control over how much you’re spending.
0:30:37.3 Mike Vacanti: And obviously, if you have a kid, it’s like, yeah, you have… Like we said before, you have it tougher than someone who doesn’t. But to an extent, you have control over how much money you’re spending and getting your back off the ropes and getting three, four, five, six, 12 months of living expenses saved up, gives you freedom and flexibility to do different things.
0:31:00.1 Jordan Syatt: I think one of the things that I just did, I have no background in economics or finance, and that’s something my family struggled with a lot when I was a kid, but one of the things I just did, I think by accident is probably the best way to put it, there was no real thought into it. But when I first started making money online with my coaching business, I basically, I came up with every month I need to save X amount. So I came up with numbers that as my income increased, that amount increased, and that was… There was no one told me to do it. There was no real thought. I wasn’t investing it at all. I only recently started investing because of you and all of that, there was no… I was just keeping it in my bank, which we could talk a bit more about that. But every month I was like, okay. And it just started out with like, “Okay, I need to save 150 bucks, that’s it. I need to save a 150 bucks this month, I need to save.” And so if you don’t have kids and if you’re single and all of that, and you don’t have to look after your parents, maybe that amount of money every month could be higher. But if you’re looking after your parents or you do have kids and a spouse and all this other stuff, and then maybe the amount of money you save very month is a little bit lower, but you can still find a way to save a certain amount of money every month no matter what.
0:32:22.3 Jordan Syatt: And so that is, I think, for me, helped the most in terms of every time as my income increased, I would look at it six months and annually, cool, now I’m upping that from 150 to 300, and from 300 to 500, from 500 to 1000, and then just… It’s pretty crazy how quickly that adds up, when you look at it from an annual basis. It’s like, “Holy shit” when you add that on a month, month basis, you were required to save this amount. And sometimes there would be months where I’d be like, maybe I had a really good month in terms of business. I’d be like, “You know what? I’m gonna double it, I wanna put more in this month, I might as well, why am I gonna… Why would I double my spending, why not just double my saving this month”, and then that really does add up a lot.
0:33:00.8 Mike Vacanti: Adds up big time, and I love what you just said, ’cause I was just gonna make that point to think of that number as a minimum, not as a target, but as, okay, if the number is 150, save a minimum of 150 for the month. If you can save more, if you realize that instead of eating, ordering lunch out, going out for lunch six times per month, you go out for lunch zero times per month, and you pack your lunch every single day, and that six times 20 bucks, $120 versus six times, I don’t know, maybe it’s 20 total in food for the month if you’re packing your own lunch, it’s like, “Oh, I just saved an extra $100 a month.” Have that target savings amount, but have it be a minimum, because here’s the thing, the faster you can save that money, the sooner you can get into a lifestyle where you don’t have to be doing that to the same extent.
0:33:57.9 Jordan Syatt: Exactly, yeah, it’s funny ’cause I remember you were talking about getting all those eggs. I used to do that and I used to have, I called it the poor man’s breakfast every day, is oatmeal and eggs, every single day, and I would take my oatmeal, I’d put it in the microwave and once it was all warmed up then I’d put the egg in and crack a couple of eggs in and the hot oatmeal would cook the eggs, and that was my breakfast. And I would make shakshouka for dinner, which is just tomatoes and more eggs and sometimes if I was getting fancy I’d put some salmon in it or something. But now it’s so funny, now, for the majority of time, when I get groceries, I get it delivered. I get groceries delivered, which is an extra cost on top of it, but I never would have done that before.
0:34:40.6 Mike Vacanti: Of course, you’re in a fundamentally different position, your hourly is different, so you value your time differently than you did in 2011.
0:34:50.6 Jordan Syatt: Correct. Whereas in 2011 or 2012, it made sense for me to take the time, go to the grocery store, spend way less money so I could save more money and get more one-on-one coaching clients in my free time. Whereas now it makes more sense for me to order it, so I don’t have to go to the grocery store, because I know if I spend that time doing an Instagram Q and A, I can make more from doing that Instagram Q and A, than I would have… I would have probably lost money by going out, taking that hour and a half, two hours going to the grocery store, ’cause just from that one Q and A, if I really want to, I could push the Inner Circle or whatever it is, and make more money than I would have otherwise. But that’s the cool shift here that you can see once you build up enough money to save and build up these systems, this freedom that you now have with more money actually allows you to make more money. This is where I think that the rich get richer mentality comes from, that saying comes from is once you have enough money built up and savings built up, and as you said, freedom, you can now use that to put towards more ways to give yourself more freedom.
0:35:53.1 Mike Vacanti: 100%. Every dollar earned is easier than the previous dollar. So it is going from zero to 25k, 25K to 50K. Getting your back off the ropes is the hardest, is gonna require the most sacrifice, is the most difficult by far, and every future dollar becomes easier and easier. Speaking in generalities, that principal holds up, especially in our line of work. I love that we’re… It would be so easy to be like, “Oh yeah, you can’t save that much money, but you can make a lot more if you invest in our mentorship.” That is such an easy marketing spin that I’ve seen so many times, but it’s yes, you should focus on both, you should focus on making more money and building your business, but what is more important, especially early on and what is more within your control is dialing and spending.
0:36:56.3 Jordan Syatt: I’m selfishly interested. When you were in the early days, your accounting job, were you investing or were your savings just in your bank account?
0:37:11.0 Mike Vacanti: I wanna give you a good answer. I know for a fact that my friend Dean, who in 2000, in May of 2013, I moved from Chicago to New York City and lived on his couch in Harlem. And he works at a hedge fund, and he would give me these ETFs, essentially mutual funds, but with lower fees, to invest in. But I don’t, I, prior to that, it was mostly in cash. Now, I see where you’re going with this, and I like it. And there’s a certain point, and it’s very early on where investing makes sense.
0:38:01.0 Jordan Syatt: That’s what I was going to say. When do you recommend investing?
0:38:03.9 Mike Vacanti: There are all different kinds of… Here’s why in that zero to 25k liquid, just when you’re in cash, I don’t know that, and you don’t have a stable income. Maybe you’re working at a gym, but let’s say you don’t have this nine to five of… Like you’re trying to build a business, you’re gonna want that money to basically if you’re spending more than you’re making, and when you’re in the early days of building your business, you’re gonna have most months, ’cause it took me 11 months to earn my first dollar of revenue and you similar story, so you’re gonna be spending more than you’re making when you’re Starting your business, so it doesn’t make sense to not have access to that money by having it tied up in investments. Now you could just sell your stock if you needed it, like someone could say that. And I think there’s definitely validity to that argument. The one thing that slightly worries me because investing in general makes sense, but it’s just in this micro-area very early on, that cash is beneficial and heaven forbid, you got 16,000 to your name that you’ve been working your tail off for, and you invested in the market and a 2008 happens, or a March of 2020 happens or whatever, like the stock market loses 50% of its value in a week type of thing. Then your 16K is now eight grand, which at that point is a big, big deal.
0:39:35.4 Mike Vacanti: And it’s not like your 16K is gonna go to 32K or 50K or 100k via your investment in a short amount of time, the types of… The places where I would recommend, and that most financial experts way smarter than me would recommend investing that money is in something that’s gonna return 5% to 10% annually. That is a safer bet. That is a mutual fund/ETF, these Vanguard ETFs, are really like… But that earns you a lot of money over a 50-year window, but it doesn’t move the needle, like if you’re investing 10,000, you can expect to make maybe a $1000 in a year. That’d be good. I think it’s more like 7% to 8% on average over the last 50, 60 years is what the stock market has returned. Got it. So long-winded way of saying, investing is very important, but when you’re in the early days cash’s King.
0:40:39.8 Jordan Syatt: Got it, okay, so maybe… And obviously, generally general response, but if you could get up to having a 25K savings or getting up to having like how much savings would you say for a year, like a year’s worth of savings before you start, or maybe six months worth of savings…
0:41:00.1 Mike Vacanti: I think that’s the range that most people target, I’m conservative because I worked two years as a public accountant, auditing companies and hated every minute of it and told myself that I would suffer the embarrassment of asking mom and dad to live with them at 27 or… I think I wrote publicly, I’d rather be homeless than work the accounting job, which now I have a little more perspective and empathy and… That’s a silly statement, it’s a hyperbole, but I hated it so much at that job that I wanted to give myself the best possible chance at success, and so I was targeting two years of living expenses just because, heaven forbid. It takes a really long time to start making money, I didn’t want to have to give up on the dream to go back there, because I saved 13 months instead of 24 months.
0:41:51.9 Jordan Syatt: And it still took almost a year before you really got a paying client and that doesn’t just… ’cause you got one paying client doesn’t fucking mean you have all of your expenses taken care of now.
0:42:00.3 Mike Vacanti: It definitely didn’t… It was like 139 bucks a month. So yeah.
0:42:04.3 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, yeah. That makes total sense. Wow, got it. That’s good, man.
0:42:07.6 Mike Vacanti: So I guess when you start… I think when you’re in a position, when I focused more on investing was at the point where I had multiple clients 20 to 25 hours a week in person coaching, I had six or seven different revenue streams early on, I had an internship, I had all these different things, and it was adding up to maybe 2X what I was making, so if my monthly expenses were… We’ll just say 1500 all in all together. And I was making 3000 a month, and then 3500 a month then 4000 a month. That was kind of the range when I was paying more attention to, Okay, I’m feeling more confident and more comfortable. I’m gonna start investing some of this money because you know, I don’t have the exact numbers off the top of my head, but if you invest $500 a month… And you can go on type in finance annuity calculator, and you can play with this, but if you do $500 a month, every single month. Starting at the age of 25 until retirement, compared to 35 is when you start investing until retirement, it’s not like you’re making like 3X more all in when you start at 25, the earlier the better. Compounding interest is a real thing.
0:43:27.9 Jordan Syatt: Man, that’s crazy. That’s so crazy that it affects it that much. And even it’s just like 500 a month. That’s so crazy. But that also is like, I would say, one of the benefits of starting your own business and not just having a set salary, something that you can grow yourself, obviously in an ideal world, ’cause not everyone who starts their own businesses is gonna succeed, but when you work for someone else and you have a set salary, you’re sort of fixed on how much you can actually invest every month, whereas if you start your own business and then this is getting to the other side of the equation of actually making more money, well, now you can increase how much you invest, will also still be able to essentially sort of pay yourself the same amount, but invest more because you’re making more and sort of give yourself more freedom as time goes on.
0:44:17.3 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, my living expenses didn’t change really from 2013 to 2014 into early 2015, but my monthly revenue was doubling every few months, well getting into ’14, and it… First of all, we’ve all talked about this, we started our businesses not even really knowing what we were doing or what was possible, but because it was a line of work that we’re deeply passionate about and interested in, but… Yeah, take care of what you can control, which is everything we’ve talked to up to this point, which is the spending side of the equation, but then know also that… It’s really cool that we could work 70 to 100 hours a week for a few years in there and have that pay disproportionately in earnings without bragging or being silly like that. 10% raise is great in a corporate job or even more than that, but when you have your own business, you can literally double revenue and double and double in shorter periods of time.
0:45:31.3 Jordan Syatt: Yeah, man. It’s so crazy how that works. So obviously speaking, we spoke about the saving, which is the most important part, just not being an idiot with your money and really, really saving and then working towards investing. The other side of it though is, for example, there… Sometimes it does make sense, and tell me if you disagree, but I think sometimes it does make sense to do something that might not appear like it makes sense, for example, where you left your job, you applied for an internship and got this internship that the internship said You have to be living in New York. You lied. Said you did live in New York, you went there and you slept on your buddy’s couch, and you probably spent a significant amount of money to get there, I’m assuming your savings that month was probably not that good, maybe you were like you were losing money that month because… And you also weren’t getting paid when you started the internship… Right, so it’s like you had to work for a certain amount of time in the most expensive city in the world in order to make this happen.
0:46:36.6 Jordan Syatt: And it reminded me of one of the first things I did that I think actually really helped… That helped boost my career before I even started a business, is I hired Martin Berkhan to be my coach when I was 18 years old, and it was $300 for about 12 weeks, and when I was 18, I remember I had about 365 bucks in my bank account. So I almost emptied my bank account in order to work with Martin Berkhan, and it was literally just because I wanted to learn the science of fat loss and how this works, and how is he getting these crazy client results and… Yeah, I had read all of his articles, but it was one thing to read all of it, it’s another thing to see it in his programming and to actually learn from him, and I think these are similar things where sometimes it makes sense to do something that doesn’t make sense in order to get yourself ahead.
0:47:23.9 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, something I love that you talk about is like when people ask investing advice, sometimes you’ll talk about investing in yourself, which… The amount of time and reading and effort and probably like failures and repeated failures that you potentially avoided on the fitness front for $300 was a very good deal for you. It’s similar to what we talk about with the returns that you got on that $300 in terms of knowledge and life experience and how that helped you and how that helps you mentally. We can think about returns on any kind of investment, like when people sign up for the mentorship and only get two clients during their entire first year, well, they made more than the cost of the mentorship by doing that…
0:48:21.7 Jordan Syatt: Exactly.
0:48:22.4 Mike Vacanti: That’s an example of a return, like the knowledge you gain from your investment in Leangains.
0:48:28.2 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. Exactly. Or doing the internship, you saw all the systems and everything, so it’s like you figured out, okay, cool, so this is how they do it, so you set your systems up similarly. You learn when you invest in something, for example, I just… I hired Alex Viada to do my programming, I’ve hired Mike Perry to do my programming before, I have hired Paul Carter to do my programming before, I’ve hired Bryan Krahn to do my program, I have hired a 21-year-old kid to do my flexibility programming, ’cause he’s super knowledgeable on that. I’ve hired Martin Berkhan. I still pay Alan Aragon for his research review, I think these are things that… And I’ve paid Alan Aragon for his research view. That’s another one. I paid for that in 2011. It’s only $10 a month, but I paid for that in 2011, and that just that, paying for… That gave me so much number one, learning material, it taught me how to read research, how to be a more critical thinker. That helped me in my writing for my articles, it gave me more content to write about, it gave me so much more an idea of what people were struggling with, and this is again…
0:49:38.7 Jordan Syatt: This is the reason we spoke about saving first is because that’s what you have the most control over, but the second part in terms of actually growing your business and growing your revenue is, I think you can learn a lot for free, but sometimes investing in something and really like for example, the mentorship, the whole purpose of the mentorship is to teach you how to build your business without making the mistakes that we made. Right now, it doesn’t mean you’re not gonna make mistakes because you’re gonna make your own mistakes, mistakes that we hadn’t made, mistake that we didn’t cover, but the whole purpose of it, so that it’s essentially a streamlined way for you to figure out, okay, I want to grow my business, these two guys did exactly essentially what I wanna do, build an online fitness business, so I’m gonna learn from them. And that… And we have an entire… Just so you know, obviously, this is a pitch, but we have an entire money back guarantee where if you do everything we tell you to do, so we have a new challenge every month, if you do every challenge… And this is an important part of it.
0:50:37.4 Jordan Syatt: If you do every challenge 12 challenges over the year and you don’t make your money back, then we’ll give you your money back, like guaranteed. Now, if you join and you don’t do the challenges, no, you’re not getting your fucking money back ’cause you didn’t do what we said, but if you do it… And the reason we give this money back guarantee is because we know if you do what we tell you to do for a year, your business will not only just be better off, but you will make more money than you invested in the mentorship guaranteed. And it will set the stage for more and more and more business growth.
0:51:08.7 Mike Vacanti: 100%, could not have said it better myself.
0:51:13.1 Jordan Syatt: What do you think… Do you think we should keep hammering on this, should we go to Q&A, almost an hour in…
0:51:18.5 Mike Vacanti: Yeah, I had one more thought just on investing in yourself, and you can invest dollars, like you can invest money in the mentorship and learn more about how to grow your business and from us, another form of investment is something Gary talks about a lot, which is working for free. And this kind of applies with getting coaching client experience, but D Rock… David Rock, his main videographer, did a free pro bono project for Gary before he was ever working for him, clouds and dirt. And the fact that so many people, whatever it is, have gotten bad advice over time, you need to value yourself at a certain degree or whatever it is, but have… You are completely closed off to working for free, are missing the opportunity to learn a massive amount, instead of paying money, you’re paying time and effort, you’re working for someone, you’re not getting anything in return. ‘You’re not getting money in return’ what you’re getting is knowledge and experience that is gonna be unbelievably useful for you, and so that’s just another…
0:52:44.6 Mike Vacanti: When you’re thinking about investing, investing your time in different places, or say, maybe because something that we recommend a lot of people do when they join the mentorship is get some in-person coaching experience as well, because we’ve had very experienced coaches join the mentorship and want to grow the online side of things. And we’ve had people who had no experience coaching clients, but really wanted to get into the industry, join the mentorship, and for those people specifically getting in-person coaching experience is something that’s been really helpful, and maybe the gym that you have an opportunity at isn’t paying an amount… They’re not paying an incredibly hourly rate, it still probably makes sense if it’s a gym that you want to work at, if it’s a good gym to work there without getting the amount of money you feel you’re entitled to, and…
0:53:38.6 Jordan Syatt: For some fucking reason.
0:53:41.9 Mike Vacanti: Because of the massive amount of experience you’ll get from it and how quickly you’ll climb the learning curve from working with clients in person.
0:53:50.6 Jordan Syatt: Yeah. That’s… We could hammer on that topic, it’s been a whole big thing using the words like charge what you’re worth, charge what you’re worth, and I see these people who’ve been barely a coach for two weeks being like, Yeah, I’m worth more than this. It’s like, What the fuck are you talking about? You’re worth more than that, get out of here. You’re like, What do you… I worked for free for years. It’s like, I literally worked six days a week driving an hour back and forth to Eric Cressey’s to intern there for four months straight, I would work all day like 8 to 10 hour day, standing on my feet, six days a week, driving back and forth for an hour not getting reimbursed for gas, not getting paid shit, nothing at all. Just to be there just to learn, coached countless clients for free. I still coach people for free ’cause I think either it is worth while or because I think I just enjoy it. Whatever it is, but this idea of being entitled to like, Oh, I feel like I should be getting more money, the reality is if you should be getting more money then you’d be making more money. Period, or if you feel like you should be making more money, then charge more money. And if you’re worth that, then they’ll pay you, and if not, then you won’t… That’s really it.
0:55:00.5 Mike Vacanti: The market will give you your answer.
0:55:02.0 Jordan Syatt: It’s the truth, and if you think you’re worth that and they’re not paying you enough then you go off on your own and see how it goes. The reality is, I think, and Mike and I have spoken about this a lot, is when you’re working at a gym, if this is early on in your career, you’re working at a facility that maybe they’re not paying you very much, the clients you’re working with there are going to be your first online coaching clients. They’re going to be your first referrals for your online coaching business, they’re gonna tell their family and friends about you, even though in that month, two months, three months, whatever it is, in that year, you might not make as much as for whatever reason you think you’re entitled to, that will be the base of your income for when you do go online. Those people that you interact with in person.
0:55:45.5 Jordan Syatt: And it really is the truth where the in-person business that you build early on will drive the beginning of your online coaching business. And I do think now things have changed a little bit depending on where you are, if gyms are open or closed and all of that, but a lot of people have asked me recently, do you think in-person coaching is ever gonna be obsolete? No, absolutely not. There will always be a market for in-person coaching, there will always be people who’d rather be coached in-person, and there will also always be a market for online coaching. And if you’re not sure where to begin, start with in-person and… Good luck if you think you feel entitled to making more money.
0:56:30.1 Mike Vacanti: Dude, this is great, this was an awesome episode. If you didn’t listen last week, we have a big sale coming up in the mentorship, our email list is gonna get first notification about that sale, there’s a link in the show notes if you are interested, and so sign up for that email list, if you wanna hear more.
0:56:49.1 Jordan Syatt: Have a wonderful day and we’ll talk to you soon.
0:56:50.0 Mike Vacanti: Bye everyone.