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BiggerPockets Podcast 507: Sacrifice, Failure and Pain, A 100 Days of Hell Success Story with The Iron Cowboy

BiggerPockets Podcast 507: Sacrifice, Failure and Pain, A 100 Days of Hell Success Story with The Iron Cowboy

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Finishing a triathlon is a grueling achievement, only accomplished by those who are in peak physical and mental condition. Once finished, the top of the top go on to train for an Ironman, arguably the toughest triathlon on the planet. One hundred and forty miles of pain and pressure, broken up into a two-mile swim, a one hundred and twelve-mile bike ride, and a twenty-six-mile run. This is not a race for the faint of heart, and if you can finish just one, you have bragging rights forever.

What would it take for someone to finish not one ironman, not two, not ten, not twenty, but 100 consecutive Ironman races, back to back? Wake up, swim, bike, and run over one hundred and forty miles, go to sleep, and do it all over again. That’s what James “Iron Cowboy” Lawrence did, smashing through world records and personal goals.

James sits down with Brandon and David today to talk about mental toughness, creating goals that scare you, gradually working your way up to mastery, and asking “what am I willing to sacrifice to reach the end?” James had to run a business, take care of his seven-person family, and compete for more than a quarter of a year straight. If he can conquer one of the greatest physical and mental feats the world has ever witnessed, what’s stopping you from accomplishing your goals?

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 507.

James:
Every single time I’m doing something big I’m like, “This is it. When I’m done this one, I am done.” And then you finish it and you look back on it. And it’s like anything, when you’re pushing limits and boundaries, Dude, it’s super tough when you’re in the middle of it. And if you’re truly pushing limits and it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done to that moment. But then when you accomplish it, you take a look back, you analyze it, and you’re like, “Ah, okay. I learned here, I grew here,” and then you’ve got different perception and perspective on what was happening and you’re like, “Okay, now what’s possible?”

Intro:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets radio, simplifying real estate for investors, large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from biggerpockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon:
What’s going on, everyone? It’s Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets Podcast, here with my cohost, Mr. David Does the Work Green. What’s up, man? How you doing?

David:
These nicknames are getting more and more show-focused. I like it.

Brandon:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I’m actually putting some effort into it now. Anyway, what’s up, man? I’m going to ask you a question, how’s your workouts going lately? You’ve been at the gym?

David:
No, I’m going today. I haven’t been going a lot. But I started jujitsu and my neck got cranked on quite a bit, so I’ve been in the chiropractic office and getting massage and physical therapy, trying to get it straightened out again. I always have neck and back problems. So haven’t done a ton of that, but I am going to be going today. And jujitsu is sort of becoming a little more consistent. I’m getting two days a week in, right now. The goal is to get to where I can get four days a week, probably not rolling every single day. That’d be a lot to just take on at the beginning, but I want to get up to four days a week.

Brandon:
Unless you’re the Iron Cowboy, then seven days a week would be about normal.

David:
Yeah. Seven days a week, twice a day. He’s like, “Basically, I just count the time I’m not doing jujitsu,” is what James would be doing.

Brandon:
All right, our guest today is the Iron Cowboy. His name’s James Lawrence, but he is known as the Iron Cowboy in the world of competitive athletics and crazy feats. Guinness world record holder multiple times, ran 50, what was it? Fifty triathlons in 50 days and 50 states, and then, a few years later, just recently, did a 100 triathlons in a 100 days. Just complete craziness. But he is also an entrepreneur, a speaker, and a awesome guy who’s going to tell us a ton about what mental toughness is and how that works and how we can apply that to our business and our life to do better in every area of our life.

Brandon:
It was a really great conversation about a lot of different topics. And of course, it’s about wrapped in this idea of athletics, but I don’t care if you’ve never walked a mile in your life. This show is going to, it’s just going to deliver a lot of massive value to your life and things that you can apply to your business or your family life, your entrepreneurship, your fitness, whatever. It’s going to help you, I really think you’re going to love this show. Now, before we get into it, though, let’s get to today’s Quick Tip.

Brandon:
One of the things we talk about today on the show is this idea of starting small and scaling up, and in real estate, we talk about something called The Stack. It means that you start small and then you maybe double every year or every time you buy a property and kind of invest outside your comfort zone. So here’s what I want you to write down. If you could take five minutes today and write down what is that next purchase? Maybe it’s your first purchase. Maybe you’ve done a hundred already. What’s that next purchase that scares you? And that’s going to pull into the show a little bit. You’re going to hear a little more James, how he picked a goal of a hundred triathlons having to do with what scares him. I don’t’ know, what scares you? Not impossible, not a 100X or whatever, but what scares you? And does the goal you’re shooting for right now scare you a little bit? Go ahead and jot down some notes on that, do some self-reflection and then listen to the show.

Brandon:
All right. I think we’re ready to jump into the show with the Iron Cowboy. Is there anything you want to add before we get in David Green?

David:
No, this one’s great. Let’s roll.

Brandon:
All right, James. Welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast, man. It’s awesome to have you join us.

James:
Thanks Brandon. Thanks David. Happy to be here.

Brandon:
Yeah. Let’s jump into your story. I want to get through all the triathlons and the crazy feats you’ve done, but have you always been an athlete? Is that where this thing started or what was your background?

James:
Yeah, I guess you would say there was a gap in my athletic career. Just always been athletic kid, always loved sports. The only one in my entire family. I’ve got sisters, only sisters, neither of my parents are athletic, into sports, and so I was kind of like a lone wolf in my family and just found athletics in school. And I just did… every time there was a tryout for any sport… I was on the badminton team, I did all the cross country events, I did handball, just everything. And made all the teams and just had a ton of fun, it became my thing to do. I grew up in Canada. And so you got really long, cold winters, and if you’re not playing hockey, you better be doing something else or you’re getting in trouble. And so for me, it was just a lot of different sports.

James:
And I think, I’m just trying to contrast the kids of today, they just get so hyper-focused on one sport at such a young age because mom and dad want them to go to the Olympics. And I think they’re doing a disservice to their kid in truly finding out what sport they truly enjoy, and then really getting a well-rounded base of athleticism for that kid or that person. And so for me, it just started with playing every sport possible and I gravitated towards wrestling in about 7th grade. Still did all the sports, and then by the time I hit high school and 10th grade, I just went wrestling, exclusive. And then for my last years through high school and a couple years after high school, that’s all I did, was I wrestled.

James:
And so I really think that was an unbelievable foundation for me as far as athleticism, and also mental toughness. I get asked often, “When did that mental toughness journey start for you?” And if I was to pinpoint a time in my journey early on in athletics, it would be those wrestling days, because I didn’t start out a great wrestler. You get beat up when you don’t know what you’re doing and the kids have been doing it for a while, and it takes guts at that age, 11 years old, to say, “Okay, I’m going to go back out there and get my ass handed to me again.” You know what I mean?

David:
Yeah.

James:
And that just takes some early-day resilience and stick-to-it-iveness if that’s even a word. And so that was kind of the beginning and then that lull after competitiveness in high school and whatnot, there’s not really an outlet. There’s wreck murals and slow pitch softball and things like that but that really wasn’t my jam. And so I kind of got displaced a little bit. Still went to the gym, still did my weights.

James:
And then I got into running with my wife when I’d been married for a couple years and really… she took me out to this four mile fun run and I kind of just suffered and staggered through it. And I was a complete disaster and I hated running, and I know, with my history that comes as a bit of a surprise. I learned to enjoy it a little bit more. And then that’s kind of how I stumbled into endurance racing and, as we’ll talk about, things escalated from there, but it kind of all started after a lapse from wrestling in high school and a little bit after high school, into just running with my wife.

James:
And we found triathlon together and really got into the multi-sport world and loved the community. It was in its infancy, as far as the big spike that it’s had over the last little while. And it was just really cool. It was organic, it was fun. It was something new that I had never done before. And I was good at it. Things are always more fun when you’re good at them, and then I just really dove in, started to learn and just fell in love with endurance sports.

David:
That’s good. Can you walk people through or explain what a triathlon is? Just so we make sure everyone understands. I’m sure it’ll come up lots [crosstalk 00:08:27].

James:
Yeah. Triathlon, tri is three, and it’s a race that compiles three events, swimming, biking, and running. And within the triathlon family, there’s four pretty main distances, the shortest is called the sprint distance and then it doubles and it’s called the Olympic distance, and it’s what they actually race in the Olympics. It doubles again to the half distance, and then it doubles again to the full distance. And the most common brand of the full distance is called an Ironman. And so a lot of people just think the race is called the Ironman, but that’s just a brand, it’s actually a full distance triathlon. So it goes sprint, Olympic, which they do in the Olympics, half distance, full distance. And so those are your four and they’re all swim, bike, run, kind of doubling each time.

David:
That makes sense.

Brandon:
Yeah. I did the half. I did a half Ironman a couple years ago and it was no joke. I don’t think I’ll ever do a full because, and I want to ask your opinion on it, I didn’t enjoy the pain or the struggle that went into it. I didn’t enjoy practicing the running. I didn’t enjoy the biking or the swimming all that much. There are sports I enjoy, but I didn’t love that. But you enjoy, you’re out there running, you’re just like, “This is great, I enjoy this.” Or is it always a struggle? Always like, “Oh man, this is hard, but I just love the results from afterwards.”

James:
No, see, I’m not a big lover of training. I love to race and it’s no fun to suck at racing and so for me, I tolerate and I do the training so that I can go out and perform and race and compete. And my wife’s the exact opposite, she loves the training aspect and then hates race day because she is so easygoing, loves to have fun. She’s the person on the racecourse that’s cheering everybody around her and I’m borderline obnoxious, but we love those people too. But I love cycling. I did a three hour ride today on a mountain bike up in the mountains here in Utah. And it was spectacular, I loved every second of it. I really don’t enjoy going out and pounding the pavement and going on a run like that.

James:
But I live in the Rocky Mountains, in the Wasatch Valley here in Utah, just south of Salt Lake City, and we have world class trails here. And I’ll go on a two, three hour run, and it goes by quick and it’s enjoyable and you do it with a group of friends. And so I’ve really started to enjoy the training part of it, but I love the racing part. That’s what’s fun. And as my career has escalated, I’ve got more into more of pushing human potential, truly finding out what your body and mind can do. And there’s a little bit of enjoyment in that pain cave, in that suffering mode, and it’s not a flex, it’s just, I can appreciate that moment because when you get to the other side of that, that’s what I did. And just that sense of accomplishment is super, super cool.

James:
With the long endurance stuff, Dude, I retire every single race in the middle of it. Every single time I’m doing something big, I’m like, “This is it, when I’m done this one I am done.” And then you finish it and you look back on it and it’s like anything, when you’re pushing limits and boundaries, Dude, it’s super tough when you’re in the middle of it. And if you’re truly pushing limits and it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done to that moment. But then when you accomplish it, you take a look back, you analyze it and you’re like, “Ah, okay. I learned here, I grew here.” And then you’ve got different perception and perspective on what was happening and you’re like, “Okay, now what’s possible?” And then you continue to push that envelope.

James:
We’re just coming off of a huge, huge campaign that lasted a quarter of a year, and I can honestly say that I am fully satisfied. I have found a limit to my satisfaction. I truly believe that I could take on any challenge physically and mentally if I prepared well for it. I just, I want to get more into the comfortable phase of my life, where I’m just not burying myself. I’m getting a little bit older, I turned 45 in the middle of that journey. I’ve got five kids that are right in that age, 12 to 18, 19 and they’re like, “Okay, they’re transitioning in.” I’m going to blink, they’re going to be out of the house. And so for me, it’s like, “Okay, this is a really meaningful six years with my family and my kids.”

James:
They’re all in a time of their lives where they’re absorbing, they’re sponges and what we do and say really makes a difference in this time of their lives. And so, I’m busy with business and I’m busy with training and still maintaining my health, and I’m still doing races, trying to be competitive for my age bracket. I’m not winning races anymore, that was years ago. But I still love to push myself and see what I’m capable of, just testing myself against the course and the clock.

David:
Yeah, that’s really good.

Brandon:
The event you’re talking about is the 100… what was it? The 100 Day Challe-… what do you call it? The something 100, right? [crosstalk 00:13:57].

James:
Conquer 100.

Brandon:
Yeah. Conquer 100. And I followed every day of that, of yours. And I want to get to that in a second, but first I want to pull back to the 50. You did, was it 50 triathlons in 50 days in 50 states? Is that right?

James:
Yeah. So 50.50.50. We’ll just back up even further, 2010, I broke the world record for the most half Ironmans in a year. And then I was like, “Well, I don’t know anybody that wants to be the half Ironman world record holder when there’s fulls out there, right?” And so I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to do some research. Find out what the full world record is.” Looked up Guinness and found out the number and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to take that down.” Ended up doing 30 full distances, 11 countries around the world, all official, sanctioned events, raced them all. Won two of them play. Second, five times. Just had an unbelievable run, 39 years old. And again, when you finish that, you’re like, “Holy crap. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

James:
But then, you look back at it a year after you’re like, “Okay, what’s possible?” And I started to put together the 50. And what that is, is it was 50 full distance triathlons, and just for the listeners that don’t know, a full distance is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon run, which is 26.2 miles. So, that’s 140.6 miles, and so I said, “You know what? I want to do 50 consecutive of those. And then to make it even harder and push myself, I want to do one in every single state, again, consecutively.” And so 50, 50 Ironmans, 50 days, 50 states. At the time, my kids were six to 12, five of them. And we loaded up in a motor home and we started in Hawaii and went to Alaska and the team was waiting for us there in Washington. And we did the lower 48. And it was an unbelievable journey. We’ve got a documentary on Amazon Prime called the Iron Cowboy, and we’ve got a book called Redefine Impossible, that’s available on our website and also Amazon and also Audible.

James:
But yeah, that’s really pushed us and it took me six years to where I wanted to even do anything else. And I was just so busy, after the 50, people were so fascinated with how we did it, why we did it, what that took. My wife, Sunny’s perspective, the five kids. Like, How on earth do you logistically do something like that? And the project are called Redefine Impossible. And I just got swept away into this world of speaking. I did not anticipate ever being a motivational speaker and I hate the word, Motivational speaker. I think it’s as cliche as, the guy down by the river, his speech. And so for me, I just… I don’t thrive off of motivation and so I never understood that world. I do love the stories and the inspiration that comes from that. But I like to empower people to where they’re not just motivated, but they’re empowered to go do something, they actually take action.

James:
And I kind of got swept into this world of speaking and over the past five years or six years, I’ve spoken in 48 countries around the world, and we’ve done hundreds of events and we’ve done no marketing, no advertising, just straight word-of-mouth. And the pandemic hits, right? And literally, beginning of March, in 48 hours my calendar gets wiped clean. We’re talking no racing, that means no coaching, which we did a lot of, which means no speaking, everything involved, gatherings of large amounts of people. And so instantly, overnight, everything got wiped off the table.

James:
And it was an incredible blessing for our family and I know lots of people have suffered around the world and complete empathy and sorrow for those individuals. But for us, it was just this opportunity to gather as a family and have some of that together-time again. And then for me personally, it was an opportunity to craft the last dance, if you would, that I wanted to do for my career. It gave me a full year of training and planning to where the Conquer 100 was conceptualized and I had an opportunity to really go after it.

David:
Do you remember the moment where you’re like, “I’m going to do 100?” Nobody had ever done 50 in 50 before, right? Wasn’t that the first time?

James:
Mm-hmm.

David:
And so rather than doing 60 or 70, do you remember when you were like, “I’m going to do 100,” and why 100? That just seems so crazy to me.

James:
Yeah. It is a crazy number. It’s big. And to be honest with you, I just kept getting the impression, 100, 100, 100, and I’m like, “No, that’s stupid.” And I didn’t know why 100 and then I was like, “Let’s just do 75.” And then I’d think about 75 and I’m like, “That really doesn’t scare me. That seems really doable to me,” especially because the whole premise behind the 100 was like, “Okay, if the 50 was chaos, logistics, confusion, exhaustion, if we removed all of that to the best of our ability, did it in one location, which was around our home in Utah; slept in my own bed; controlled the food; didn’t have the intense travel, could we double it?” And then, the number 100 was kind of a cool number. It doubled what everybody was losing their minds over.

James:
And then I was like, “Okay. I believe, mentally and physically, if we can control a lot of these variables and just have to worry about physicality and the mental toughness of it, I believe 100 is possible.” And so that’s the premise of where I was coming after it from, and then I just started to plan and tried to figure out, “Okay, what’s the best way to train for this? How do we minimize the amount of chaos, the distractions to make this a possibility for our team?”

David:
I noticed this… what’s the word I’m looking to say here? This pattern, is not the right word, of doubling that keeps coming up. This concept where you take a regular sprint, you double it, you double it, you double it. Then you say, “All right, let’s do 50 of these in 50 states, which is more than twice what anyone thought could probably be done.” And then you took that and you doubled it. And Brandon talks a lot about a method we have in real estate investing he calls, The Stack where you basically, say, buy a house and next year buy two, and next year buy a four-plex, and next year buy an eight-plex. And there’s this, maybe this mental frame that you can look at what you believed was possible, could be doubled. To 10 X it, a lot of times you’re like, “Oh, my brain just doesn’t believe that’s true.” And to repeat what you did before, you sort of start to lose confidence in your own self, because you already know you did that. So you’re not making progress. You’re not improving. And so what’s the fun in doing it?

David:
And I’m just curious if you could share, if this doubling thing is a complete coincidence or if there’s actually a method to that madness with how you’ve pushed yourself through this rule of doubles?

James:
Yeah, I think total coincidence, but now that you bring it up, I’ve read the stuff and 10X and all of that and I’m like, “Okay, that’s a great concept and all, but it becomes so far outside of someone’s realm of possibility.” And I believe that big goals like that, take time and you have to have stepping stones in order to gain that knowledge and experience, because you’re going to make mistakes along the way. And if you 10X something out of the gates, you’re going to fail. And yes, there’s going to be an outlier that figures it out, that gets lucky, that does it, and then everybody tries to build their campaign off of that success story. But it’s smoke and mirrors, in my opinion.

James:
We coach and a lot of people contact us because we are the front runners in successfully doing big campaigns and challenges. But what people don’t realize is, I started with a very achievable half Ironman, half distance goal, that at the time was challenging me and pushing my limits. But wasn’t out of the question, as far as where I was starting. And I think that’s a great lesson for people, whether it’s in business and anything that they’re doing. Yeah, we want to push the envelope. We want to make ourselves uncomfortable, but we also want to gain momentum and success. And I say all the time that like, “Guys success breeds success, confidence breeds confidence and we want to create an environment of winning and momentum.” I get it, man, shoot for the moon, train big and all that stuff, but there’s got to be a journey on that path to getting there. And what I see a lot of people doing is, they don’t respect the goal that they’ve placed for themselves. And they get super-pumped, they get motivated, and they get outside of themselves and, ultimately, it’s a path to failure.

James:
And now what do you have? You’ve got a resume of failures that now they’re saying, “Oh, you know what? I’m going to learn from my failures and do it.” I would rather learn from my successes and have small failures on the way to those successes, than to constantly have these disastrous, dumpster fire fails on these massive accomplishments. And I think there’s a massive mental paradigm shift that people could be having and be gaining momentum and confidence because, like I said earlier, before we even came on the air or maybe I even said it while we were recording, I don’t think there’s a goal that if I was passionate about it, believe that the risk-reward was worth it, that I couldn’t achieve.

James:
Now the caveat or the asterisk of that is, depending on the size of the goal will determine how many mini-goals or stepping stones along the way that I have to have, in order to get there. And that’s what people don’t do, is they just go from boom, couch to 100. I call it, You can’t go from zero to 100, you just can’t do it. You got to learn how to do the small things to get that foundation. I see people go from couch to full distance all the time and they struggle through it, they hate it, probably like you did Brandon. And you hated it because you didn’t do the journey. You probably suffered a lot. You didn’t have the foundation.

James:
A lot of people don’t know the beginning of my career, I did three to four years of exclusively fast-speed, sprint distance racing. And what that did is that built an incredible foundation of strength, durability, and allowed me to be an injury-free athlete. If you look at every single world champion today in the long distance part of our sport, guess where they all came from? Olympic ITU, fast as hell racing. And then they went to halves and then they went to fulls, but that was a journey over a long period of time. If the world champions of the sport, I’m talking the best in the freaking world at the time, are following that type of progress and stepping stone methodology, why should you, the weekend warrior, not follow those same principles? You’re going to get burnt out. You’re going to get injured and you’re going to walk away from the sport with a bad experience. And so why put yourself through that? Take your time.

James:
And I get it, because people are like, “Oh I got go all in, go big or go home.” And they go, “Oh, a sprint triathlon. That’s a woosy thing to do. I’m not going to do that.” No Dude, if you race an all-out sprint, it is a gut wrenching, turn-yourself-inside-out hour of hell. And an Olympic is a hour 50 to two, 10 of hell. And so you can really challenge and push yourselves at those lower ones, and there’s so much freaking benefit to starting there. Any one of my long distance athletes that have been with me that they were just insistent on doing a full and I was like, “Fine, I’ll coach you to a full.” I’ve, over time, convinced them, “Let’s go back to the basics. Let’s work on your speed, your foundation. The reason you’re getting hurt is because you haven’t developed that amount of speed and intensity at those shorter distances. You’re not learning the fundamentals of how to do it.”

James:
It’s like, you don’t go in and you don’t buy a 30-unit apartment complex on day one. Dude, go buy a single family residence. Figure out what it is to manage one unit, just one. See what that takes and you’re going to learn. You’re going to F up and you’re going to learn what it takes and then you’re going to go, “Okay. Learned. Grown. Let’s do two.” Just like what you guys said. And that to me, is the same as like, “Let’s do some sprints. Hell, let’s do some 5Ks. Let’s get some raw 5K power and then we’ll [crosstalk 00:26:39].”

Brandon:
I think there’s so much wisdom to what you’re saying. As you’re talking, examples are popping off in my head of how… I’ve seen more injuries, this is funny, in my entire athletic career in softball games, running from home plate to first base.

James:
Oh for sure.

Brandon:
Everyone blows their hamstring out because-

James:
Blows their hamstring and tweaks their meniscus and it’s just-

Brandon:
Everything, and it’s 45 feet or whatever it is, but it’s because you’re not in any form of condition to be doing that thing, right? You could run a triathlon-

James:
And it’s flag football.

Brandon:
Same idea, right. And I think about investors-

James:
Pickleball.

Brandon:
Yes. All these examples start popping off in your head of how, every time I got hurt it’s because I went back in the weight room and I remember the weight I used to lift and I thought, “I could probably get most of it.” And then some ligament that wasn’t even tied to my muscle just couldn’t handle the strain that I put on it and it ripped. And it’s my fault for not letting that ligament build up.

James:
The worst fad that ever showed up was Crossfit. And every chiropractor and every PT in the world is like, “Yeah, Crossfit, baby let’s go. Bring on the insurance claims, man. I love it. Bring on the PT, ankle surgeries, knee surgeries, shoulders.” these guys are like, “Yes, do more Crossfit, people.”

Brandon:
Yeah. And we see this-

James:
Start jumping right there and do the heaviest Olympic lift you can, and you know what? Do it as fast as you can.

Brandon:
And when you’re tired and you can’t do it anymore, throw your form out the window, it doesn’t matter. Just to get 100, however ugly it takes to get there.

James:
Anyway you can, get to 100 as fast as you can. Blow out your knees, do it.

Brandon:
We see this a lot with clients that I’m working with, trying to buy their first house and they basically have a goal, 100X goal of financial freedom. “I don’t want to have to work ever again for the rest of my life,” which is really a much bigger goal than almost every human being actually gives it credit for. What you’re saying you want to accomplish, Never work again, ever, is a very difficult thing to achieve. It is also a worthwhile goal to pursue, so you’re not living your life as a slave to money. It’s going to take some work to get there and they try to do it in one deal or two deals. And they’re looking for this unicorn that’s out there that, in one fell swoop, they can just boom, achieve it.

Brandon:
And then it doesn’t happen. And then they get discouraged and then they think, “Real estate’s not for me.” And then the sourness starts to set in and everything goes wrong whereas, if they could just listen to the advice James is giving and say, “You’re not trying to get financial freedom with a house. You’re just trying to learn how investing works. And then you’re trying to learn how to do it at a little bit of a bigger level.

James:
My first world record, world record, was in 2010 and that was 11 years ago. That first world record was the smallest of stepping stones for me. And now I’ve done sports endurance history and in my mind I’m thinking, “Okay, I have five to 10 years of a lot of really hard work before I can exit this game.” Five to 10 more years after giving everything I have for 11 years, that’s going to be 21 years of going all-in, before I’m like, “Okay, I now am going to have complete financial…” 21 years. And guys are like, “Yeah, which MLM should I jump on right now and try to… Okay, that lotion is going to do it for me.” I laugh and people are like, “No, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing MLM or whatever, you can make a lot of money, but it just takes so much time.” Guys, the secret to success is doing a lot of little things consistently, here’s the catch, over a long period of time.

David:
Yes.

Brandon:
I would-

James:
And it’s just foundation and foundation and building, building. You have to build those building blocks. A mansion starts with one brick. A mansion literally starts with one brick. I’m still a decade out of putting the top spire on my mansion, and I’ve put in a hell lot of work to this point. Here’s the thing, everybody knows what they want. I know what I want, I want the car, I want the boat, I want the hot trophy wife, I want the amazing kids. Everybody knows what they want. New Year’s comes around, everybody knows what they want. They’re asking the wrong question. What are you willing to sacrifice in order to get it? And if you can reverse-engineer it and then start to really, really hone in on what you’re willing to sacrifice, now you’re getting closer to what you can accomplish and get. So you need to flip that script and go, “Not what do I want, what am I willing to sacrifice? And how do I divvy that up and change that narrative?” Now we’re getting somewhere.

Brandon:
I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that too. I think most of us, when we see that there’s somewhere we want to be that we’re not, the first question we say is, “Well, what more do I have to do?” We’re very comfortable with saying, “What do I have to add on to my life?” But typically, success comes from me saying, “What am I willing to let go of?” Which is what you’re saying here, “What am I willing to sacrifice to have what I want?”

James:
Yeah.

David:
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:31:38].

Brandon:
And I also, the last thing I’ll add is, I think that in order for predatory companies to take advantage of somebody, a nasty MLM or, in our world, there’s all these gurus that say, “Give me $80,000 and I’ll teach you how to flip a house.” They have to sell you on the dream of the one-punch knockout. “Give me your 80,000, because I can teach you how to take somebody out with one punch and you can skip the consistency and the fundamentals, and the building blocks.” And that is literally how people are taken advantage of. If we can remove that element of wanting to skip the work just to get the result, people won’t be vulnerable to the point where they’ll fall for this stuff.

James:
Dude, I don’t even know a ton about real estate, and just you saying that I’m like, “Take that 80, divide it into four. Take 20 and put it down, buy four single residences and learn.” And now you’re actually getting real-life experience. Sure, you’re going to make some mistakes, but you’re going to get at least one good property out of that. And then take that, flip it and sell it. Now, at least you have an asset instead of whatever, I don’t know [crosstalk 00:32:34].

David:
[crosstalk 00:32:34] so much information that you could have heard on this podcast.

James:
Yeah, for sure. I’m just like, “Take that 80 and buy some property.”

David:
Yeah.

Brandon:
Yeah, because you will learn so much.

James:
I’m a dumb athlete, right, I don’t even [crosstalk 00:32:45].

Brandon:
But you’re spot on with what you just said.

James:
Even I can just get that concept just in the last 30 seconds.

David:
Yep.

Brandon:
Yeah, it’s just because people want the easy way out. They want that financial freedom fast, which is one thing me and David talk a lot about is, it’s great, you can pursue that. You can pursue being a triathlete or winning the Ironman, great. That can be the goal, but yeah, you’re not going to go out there immediately from day one and go try to win that in the first race. Build it up. So be comfortable knowing that it’s going to take a while, it’s going to be uncomfortable. David and I have both been now, investing for almost 15 years, and so when will see us buy a multimillion dollar property and we’re like, “Oh yeah, I just bought a new thing or put it on my Instagram, talk about it,” people are like, “Wow. Yeah, I can do that too.”

Brandon:
I’m like, “Yeah. You know how many houses I crawled underneath and insulated myself and how many, 3:00 in the morning paint nights, my wife and I would do together where we’re just painting units, trying to get it ready for a tenant? Who was just going to end up leaving us anyway, in the middle of the night, two months later. We went through all of that so that we could get to where we’re at today, and 10 years from now will look differently. I just put out one more analogy, spin on our metaphors, David and I here, both have started doing jujitsu. We bring up jujitsu every episode now on the podcast, because, I don’t know, it’s our life.

Brandon:
But when I asked my instructor, his name’s Jerry, “So how long until… if I’m doing this consistently, how long until I get the black belt?” That’s the ultimate. I want to get a black belt. “How long is it going to be?” Honestly, in my head, I was thinking a couple years. He’s like, “I don’t know, probably 15 years.” And I’m like, “Fifteen years. That’s insane.” And he like, “Maybe 20. It depends. Ten, 15, 20 years depending how much you want to put into this, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Brandon:
But just recognizing that. Yes, there was an initial like, “Whoa.” But now that I know that it’s there, it makes the whole journey easier, because now I have a longterm outlook. And the same thing is true with financial freedom. If you just accept that it’s going to take you a decade or longer to get financial freedom, and maybe it’ll happen earlier because you’re uniquely qualified and special and you bought some amazing property or the market just happened to do something good for you. But yeah, keeping that perspective when you start a long journey, whether it’s athletic, business, entrepreneurship, real estate, whatever, I think just helps you redefine the whole journey and then you just come at it from a different point.

James:
Well, I’m going to go out on a complete limb, and I just wrote this down, but I’m going to say there isn’t a single, not a single successful person out there that started their journey as an expert. Not a single one. They all, at the beginning of their journeys, they all had limited experience, they had a get-up-and-go attitude, and they had, probably they boot-strapped it, but not a single person on a really successful level started out as an expert on any of their journeys. They just said, “Okay, I know enough to at least get in trouble and get going, but I’m going to dive in. And I am okay making a few mistakes along the way, because that’s the only way to learn and grow.” And you want to try to learn from other people’s mistakes as best you can, but ultimately, Dude, nobody’s an expert when you start.

James:
My journey, trust me. Like I said, I struggled through a four-mile fun run. My first triathlon, Dude, I didn’t know how to swim. I had to teach myself how to swim. I got laughed at and mocked in the pool because I was halfway through this 400 meter swim, in a pool. I am literally hanging on the side of the pool gasping for air, with a nose plug on. I’m telling you. Nobody would’ve looked at that guy in that moment and said, “Yeah, endurance sports history’s in his future. Go get after it.” I’m just saying, you have to start somewhere. You have to know just enough to be dangerous and you just got to, for lack of a better analogy, you just got to jump in the pool, nose plug in all and just get after it. And make some of those mistakes and come up gasping for air and get back in.

Brandon:
In support of that, I would say there’s a jujitsu analogy and a business analogy here. There’s a wild difference between your wrestling coach saying, “Listen man, you got to keep your elbows in. If your elbows go out, he can get an under-hook and take you down.” And you nod your head and say, “Okay, I understand.” Versus, you are in a match and a person does that to you and drops you on your head and embarrasses you in front of everybody. Or in jujitsu, you didn’t do the move the way they said and so you didn’t finish him, and then you gas out and now they turn around and they punish you for 10 minutes. And you go crawling back to your coach and say, “Okay, now I will listen.” I’ve just seen this in business. I’ve seen this in sports-

James:
Or now I am changed.

Brandon:
I get why this is important.

David:
Yeah. I get it.

James:
Yeah.

Brandon:
What we see, the people that sit on the sidelines, they hear what we’re saying and they’re like, “Okay, I get it. I have to do these things.” But until you jump in the pool, you don’t understand, at a emotional level, how important this advice that you are getting about the right form or the right whatever is. And that is why, James, what you’re saying is so important to so many people, because you could hear the words and nod your head and say, “Okay, I understand. I need to do the choke this way,” but until it doesn’t work or someone does it to you and you can’t get out of it, it gains a whole new level of importance with the level of commitment you put into it.

Brandon:
And we see this with the realtors on my team. I’ll say, “Hey, this is how you got to say something.” Until they get in an open house and they totally screw the pooch and the person walks out the door because they blew it, they don’t take my advice all that serious. And that’s, in support of your point, I’ve just seen this at so many different things in life.

James:
Yeah. I just wrote down knowledge without execution is the same as not showing up. You can have as much knowledge as you want, but without… Great, take course, after course, after course, and if you don’t do anything with it, it’s the same as never taking the course. And so why waste that money and the time and energy. So stop taking the courses and just take the knowledge that you currently have today, and start knocking it out of the park, because that’s, like you said, that’s the only way to learn. You got to take a knock or two, you got to get the wind knocked out of you, you got to be gasping for air in that water, square, on your back in a match. But that’s just life.

David:
I want to take this back to your story a little bit more and go back to the 100. When you were doing that, what… Let me start with this one, what challenges did you encounter in that? Or was it pretty like, “Yeah, I got this, I trained for it. Not that bad.” Obviously it’s got to be rough, I can’t imagine it, but what went wrong? What went right?

James:
Very few things went right, even with as much experience as I had going into it and as much things as we tried to control. I mean, you got to think again, great example, I had 10 years worth of experience and we tried to push limits and boundaries and we jumped in with an insane amount of experience and still everything went wrong, and we had to figure it out. If I did it again, I could do it a lot better, but we decided to keep showing up and we were ultimately successful. But if I’m to contrast the 50 versus the 100, the 50 was logistically chaotic. It was tons of learning, mentally and physically, understanding what the mind of body can do. And it was just an overwhelming amount of fatigue and exhaustion because we were just dealing, always dealing with something.

James:
And with the 100, I was 39 during the 50 and I turned 45 during the 100, and so you’re a different physical being at 45 than you are at 39. And sometimes you take for granted the experience that you have, you think you’re prepared for something and it just like checks you immediately. And once you go public with something like this and you set the date and then you’ve got sponsors and commitments and media and everything behind it, it’s go time whether you really want or not. And I kind of came into it with a little bit of an injury that I didn’t tell anybody about because I was kind of backed into a corner and I was like, “You know what, I’ll manage it. We’ll get through.” And so I have this ankle injury and didn’t realize it would manifest into what it did. And it just exploded up my leg that led to some really intense shin pain that went into the hip.

James:
And so this 100 campaign turned into two things, one, pain and managing that pain and injury, and then just sheer longevity. You hear 100, “Okay, 100 consecutive days.” Dude, that’s a quarter of a year. Do you imagine staying mentally sharp in the grind, getting the shizz beat out of you for a quarter of a year? No days off, day in and day out 140 miles a day, the compounding effect of that. And so really, the 100 became just a battle of managing pain, figuring out the constant movement of injury and then managing, mentally and physically, a quarter of a year of the compounding nature of 140 miles a day. It’s so hard to put into words what that feels like, what that looks like, but just do any… Dude, brush your teeth for a quarter of a year and [crosstalk 00:42:03]. Some people would really struggle with that type of consistency and to be all-consuming for a quarter of a year. It got intense. It got real. And to just stick with something for that long, that is that challenging was really, really tough.

Brandon:
Did you get worse and worse throughout it? In other words, slow down, was it, consistently, every time was harder than the last, were you crawling across the finish line at the end?

James:
Yeah. I just have enough experience with these type of things that I know I’m going to get stronger. It was interesting that people were like, “Okay, we’re going to join you like 80, somewhere in the 80s, 90s, maybe 100 when you’ve really slowed down.” And our entire team was like, “You don’t want to do that. You want to join him early when he is intentionally pacing, when he is still adapting and adjusting because once we figure it out, the back half of this campaign is going to be lightning and we’re going to get through the injuries. We’re going to get stronger.” And we had analysts, cardiologists from UCLA, top doctors analyzing our patterns, our sleep, our heart rate variability and all of it and we started to see improvements. And if you look at my bike times throughout the entire 100, we got faster. We started breaking our times as we were going deeper and deeper we got into this. I think on day 100, it was our fastest overall time for the entire event, and we were the second or third fastest time on the bike.

James:
The last two weeks, I think we broke the course record five or six times. We were dropping people that came out to participate with us on one day. And just through experience, we told people like, “Look, hold on, because we throw down on the bike. We go out there and we bike really, really hard.” And then on the last day, obviously, we try to lay things out on the line and just give everything you have, knowing it’s the last day.

Brandon:
That’s insane. I didn’t realize that you would improve. I just assumed you’d just get worse and worse, but I guess that’s like the power of momentum.

James:
It is. It’s success and momentum. And what happens is, is when you go from a normal training camp, because you’re trying to avoid injury, you’re trying to stay sharp, you don’t want to get hurt. And then the campaign starts and you’re like, “I got to do 140 miles a day.” Your body goes, “Hold on.” And it goes into this freak out mode where you’re really ramping up the volume. And so the hardest thing, again, on the first five you’re like, “Okay, that’s easy.” Five through 25 is really the hardest part of the campaign because your body’s like, “What are we doing?” And it tries to do everything it can to stop you, whether that’s in the form of inflammation or injury, it’s just trying to protect itself and trying to get you to stop. That’s the most challenging part and that’s when everybody quits, right?

James:
And then they don’t push and get to the point where the mind and body come into harmony with each other and you really figure it out and get to a rhythm. And it just, it took forever for that to happen to us and, honestly, it was day 85, to where we really got into sync to where I was pumping out consistent times, getting faster. Really over the main part of the injury fatigue. It got to the point, early, early on where the shin was such a problem, the pressure got so much it felt like my leg was going to break during the marathon.

James:
And long story, won’t get into it, but miracles happen and in success and life, you have to have a lot of skill, a lot of grit, but there’s some luck involved. And we ended up coming across this person that had access to a carbon-plated brace that offloaded the shin, that allowed me to continue and do the effort and recover that stress fracture in my shin and continue on. Just so many things had to happen and come into alignment, but it did, and so just these small miracles. But yeah, that early adaptation is the hardest thing, and as we progressed, you gain more knowledge, you gain experience, you gain momentum and we did, we got faster.

David:
Wow.

Brandon:
Did you ever have a point where… I know mentally, you’re probably like, “Ah, I’m just going to quit. I got to quit.” Was there ever a serious moment where you were like, “I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.” And somebody talked you off that ledge?

James:
Yeah, no. Yes and no. The team I’ve put together is so excellent, and we’ve been together for long enough that we understand that, “Look, we’re not going to quit, but there’s going to be moments where we have to process. And it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to feel, it’s okay to piss and moan, but as long as we don’t stay there for very long.” And that’s why we’re so successful is because our core team, we all have that mindset and we just rally around each other. We let the moment happen and we get them through it and have what I call a quick turnaround. And as long as you can have those quick turnarounds and don’t really hyper-focus on that and get back on track, it’s okay. And it’s actually healthy to have those moments because we’re human and we’re going to have those lows. And every journey has insane lows and insane highs.

James:
I just remember a couple times I was just like, to my wife, I was like, “I don’t know how many more days I can manage that level of pain.” And it was always at the end of the day when I was like, “That was almost my limit.” And she would always say, “Look, we’re done today and you don’t have to do any more work today. The team’s going to take care of you, work on you. Let’s wake up tomorrow and attack tomorrow when tomorrow comes.” And that just became a routine to every night for a little stretch there in the middle. I was like, “I don’t know how many more days I can manage that type of pain.” Because there was a stretch there where the pain got so high, I thought my leg was going to break. I was blacking out. The team would catch me. I’d come to, we’d do a countdown and get moving again. And it would repeat throughout the night until I got to the finish line.

James:
And so it just became this great piece of advice. The work is done today. You showed up, you did the work now, let’s rest and recover. Let’s hit the reset button and let’s attack tomorrow when it comes. And it became this great recipe for us to where, we’d fight all day long, we’d come right to our breaking point, we’d have success. And then we’d have to take that step back, breathe through it, process it, and then show up again. But that was the thing is, you had to make a conscious choice to show up. I got asked the question a lot, “At what moment did you know you were going to finish each day?” And my answer was, “Soon as I jumped in the pool and pushed off the wall to start the day.” That was it. And so for me, the biggest challenge was alarm to push off. If I can get that through that 30 minutes, I knew we were going to be successful because I could deal with anything that happened after that moment. Because once you start, you’re a go. It’s game on.

Brandon:
You’re using the phrase, We, a lot. I’m wondering, you’ve talked about your team. What are they doing and what kind of role do they play in this? You’re the one running and I feel like most athletes would just say, Me or I or, “I did this,” but you’re continually saying, We did this. And you’re treating yourself as a team. How does that mentality play into your success?

James:
Yeah. Nothing great is ever accomplished on our own, really. And anything that I’ve accomplished, there’s always been my wife, Sunny Jo, is the driving force. She’s the behind-the-scenes that a lot of people don’t see. We do have a family that we have to run and manage, and we have a business we have to run and manage and none of that stops, and we have five kids. So that, that’s a huge part. She knows me really well. She has to manage me, my emotions, my food, my therapy, all of that. It doesn’t happen without that type of management and compassion and love. And then, I’ve got what we call the wingmen. I’ve got two guys that are full-time, Casey and Aaron, and on the 100, Aaron’s job was the bike. He did everything bike. He did all 100 bike rides with me. He managed the cyclists. He did the mechanicals, he took it down to the shop. He was all things bike. And Casey was all things run. And then I had a pacer in the pool that was all things swim.

James:
And so their job was to do that and that was their part of the journey. And it just doesn’t happen without them doing that part of it. It took such a physical and mental effort that, that’s my only job and that’s all I can do, and the amount that it takes to do that, I need other people to do those other jobs. And that’s why it’s we. I’m not the Iron Cowboy. We are the Iron Cowboy. I’m this head of the spear and people see me, and I’m the visual piece of what’s going on, but there is so much going on behind the scenes that this head of the spear doesn’t have any momentum without the stick, the shaft, the arrow, the push and pull, all of that. None of it happens.

James:
By myself, I lose velocity, I lose power, I lose momentum. I don’t become a very powerful battle ram without the people behind it, knocking down the door. So it is so important to have an unbelievable team, and it takes a lot of effort and soul-searching and going through experiences with what I do, to find an unbelievable team. Don’t take somebody in their best moment. Put somebody through hell, get them exhausted and tired, now what do they do? Who is that person? And if that person performs really well, tired, exhausted, broken, confused, take them. Put them on your team, because everybody’s great when they’re great. It’s, Can you be great when you’re broken and you’re supposed to suck, right? That’s how you choose your team. Put somebody in a terrible situation and see who they are in their darkest moments.

Brandon:
That’s such a good point. I own a company called Open Door Capital. We buy a lot of apartments and mobile home parks and when we’re finding people, what my natural reaction is, who do I like or who’s around me, who’s got a pulse within my vicinity and I can grab them for my team? But in reality, like you said, everyone looks good. Everyone looks good on a resume. Every resume I’ve ever read looks great. Every time. I’m like, “That is amazing.”

James:
Awesome.

Brandon:
Yeah, these people are great, but you don’t know until they’ve gone through it. I use the analogy a lot lately of Old Testament Bible, there’s David, right? David and Goliath, everyone’s heard of that story, David and Goliath. And so little boy David goes to fight Goliath to win the whole war, basically. And the king of Israel’s like, “Yeah, go ahead.” Now, in what world would a king allow a little kid to go and represent their country? It doesn’t make sense, except for the fact that David had proved himself in those tough times. He had killed a… what? A bear and a lion. He was a lion killer. Already he had that reputation to himself that was an identity. He shows up there with a powerful weapon, that sling, and that’s why the king was okay letting David go out there.

James:
And he knew he had that confidence.

Brandon:
And he had that confidence because he had done the 5K, he did the sprint, he did the Olympic, he did the smaller stuff so that way he could take on a thing, regardless of age. And so anyway, that’s been a big thing is, we only hire lion killers. You’ve got to prove, in our business, that you’ve gone through, every single person I think, in my company now, has either been an intern, started from an internship of some kind and rose up, or they’ve gone through a exhaustive… We’ll have 1,000 applicants for a job position and we’ll whittle them down and we’ll have them do test after test, after test, after test, until we’re left with one. And it’s worked. I think more than anything else, our success we’ve had in real estate has been because… not, I think. I know our success and our speed at which we’ve grown is because we only hire lion killers and they have to prove it. Yeah. Team is everything.

James:
For my business, I went through intern after intern that said they can do this and their resume said this. You know who my number one employee and my only employee right now is?

David:
Who’s that?

James:
My 19 year old daughter who’s been through everything with us, that understands it, and you know what? She’s a frigging lion killer. And she’s unbelievable. If you watch the 100, you know Lucy, she was and managed that entire campaign and she’s a special kid. And she is that special because she has been in the fire, on the battlefield with us the entire time, through all of these journeys, all of these records. And she understands who we are at the brand, what we stand for and she just gets it. And she’s a lion killer.

David:
I love it.

Brandon:
Speaking of your kids, what role do they play in this? Not necessarily the helping side, but maybe that, as well, but how much motivation do they put for you? What kind of character are you trying to instill in them by what you’re doing? How does the kids play into this world of your crazy athletic life?

James:
Yeah, I think the best advice I can give to any parent is, set the best example you can because your kids are watching with an intent eye. And that’s true with mine. And my wife and I, we’re not perfect. We totally struggle. We’re learning as we go with kids too, but if we just try to be the best we can and push our limits, our kids really pick up on that. And that becomes the new standard of excellence. We’ve never set rules, we’ve only set expectations that have natural consequences and held them to it. We’ve never had to ground our kids ever. And it’s because this is the standard, this is the expectation and you can choose, you can do that or don’t do it but then there’s a natural consequence that comes along with that.

Brandon:
Can you say that again? That was really good. I just want to hear that real quick again, you don’t set rules, you set expectations and the consequences. What do you mean by that?

James:
Okay. Real simple when my daughter got her driver’s license and we told her… She took the test, she knew what the speed limit was. If you obey the rules, you don’t get any tickets, we’ll pay for your insurance and we’ll pay for your gas. And if you break those rules, and you have total free agency, do what you want. But if you break those rules and the law comes in and says, “X, Y, Z,” that’s going to have a natural consequence. A natural consequence of a speeding ticket, it impacts my insurance rate. Well now, because you chose to do that, it was your choice, you now get to pay the difference. I’m not going to ground you, I’m not going to take away your car, I’m not going to punish you but the natural consequence to you speeding is, my insurance goes up. You are now responsible for that insurance hike.

David:
I love that. Yeah, I think that’s such better training for kids than just like, “Because I said so.” That’s what I… I want to say that to my kids all the time. I got a five year old and a two year old, almost two. It’s like, “Why?” “Because I said so,” versus, “This is what the consequences [crosstalk 00:56:55].”

James:
That doesn’t help them.

David:
No, it doesn’t at all, yeah.

James:
And it’s the easy way of parenting because I said so, instead of taking the time and explaining why the consequence or natural consequence is happening and what it is. We’re just get lazy and letter of the law, “Because I said so,” instead of really explaining to them why. Early on my daughter, we said, “Hey, don’t step on that metal plate. It’s really hot.” And she didn’t know what that meant and then she stepped on it and burnt her feet. Guess what? She now knows what it means, If I step on something that’s really hot, it’s going to hurt. And she had to have that experience and that was the natural consequence of doing it.

David:
I was going to say, the older I get, the more I see that so many of life’s complications come from our own efforts to separate consequences from decisions that we make. Life is actually remarkably simple and we complicate it when we try to say, “How can I get the result I want by skipping the consequences that would come from the decision that I’m making?”

Brandon:
Well, man, so what’s next for you? You said you kind of want to go into a phase of your life where things slow down, but you’re still racing. Where are you headed after this point?

James:
Yeah. I really enjoy the cycling aspect of triathlon. I think I’ve accomplished everything I want to do in the triathlon world and I really enjoy riding my bike. And so I really enjoy getting off the road and up into the mountains, and so I’m just going to do, just try to be as strong as I can on a bike. Really enjoy it. Don’t take the fun out of it and then just be the best weekend warrior that I can be. My focus shifts to speaking, empowering other people, because I’ve learned through traveling through the world, people are generally stuck. And it’s the conversations they’re having with themselves. It’s the space between their ears. It’s the excuses that they’re giving themselves. It’s the entitlement that they feel is justifiable. And so really, I want to just share the message and be the ultimate example for my type of thing that just says, “Look, there are no excuses. You take full accountability. You get up and you have to do the…”

James:
I mean I’m wearing a shirt right now that says, Do the work. That is such a foreign concept to some of the newer generation, it’s staggering. My daughter is a supervisor at a pool for lifeguards. And there’s a three strike policy on a, No Call, No Show to Work. Can you remember any job you’ve ever had when you were growing up, what would’ve been the natural consequence-

David:
Yeah, one time.

James:
You don’t show up and don’t call one time, you don’t have a job. And so I was just completely floored with, you’re allowed to, No Call, No Show three times.

David:
Three times. Yeah.

James:
It was just shocking to me that that’s what we’re dealing with nowadays. And so really I’m kind of on a mission to help people get out of their own way, realize that they have to show up. They have to do the work, to be accountable. That if you suck in life, it’s your fault. If you’re awesome at life, it’s your fault and surround yourself and put yourself in a situation that gives you every advantage that you can and fight for it. And I don’t care where you come from. I can show you a success story from, I had nothing, I was born in this neighborhood to, I was born with everything. It is possible. We are human beings… and I’m strictly talking in the United States. I don’t know the landscape of India or Mex- and all these different places. I know Canada, that’s where I grew up and was raised, and I know the United States.

James:
There’s so much opportunity. There’s so much that can be achieved and it’s our responsibility to learn, educate ourselves and then show up and get after it, because it truly is attainable. I came from a country with literally a couple hundred bucks in my pocket, and I knew one person in the United States, and I’ve now traveled around the world. I’ve achieved a lot of things. I’m very well connected. And it was all because I decided to show up with intent in my life because it was up to me whether it was going to happen or not.

David:
That’s phenomenal, man.

Brandon:
Well, I want to shift over to the last segment of our show here called the Famous Four, but before I do, I do have one quick question. What do you listen to when you run or bike? Nothing or your music, podcast? What’s your listening?

James:
Yeah, I do a lot of podcasts. I do a lot of audio books. I will start my rides, as I’m warming up, with an audio book or a podcast and just trying to gain some knowledge. And then once I get into the meat or the intense part of it, I’ll put on music and then I’ll either finish in silence or go back to a radio book or just continue with music. So just kind of all of it. I’d like to learn when I’m out there and that’s kind of the best time to do it because when I’m at home, obviously the kids are full bore. And then we’ve got podcasts and business to run and coaching to do.

Brandon:
Yeah, when I did the half Ironman, I trained… in training for the few months beforehand, I listened to music and podcasts and all that. And then the actual event, they said, “No music. No headphones or nothing. You can’t do it.” I was so bored out of my mind, especially the bike ride. Because I had never done that, gone that long with just my own thoughts. And what I find was that I couldn’t think, even, of deep thoughts or like, “Oh, I’ll just think about business or I’ll brainstorm this.” I just couldn’t, because all I could think about was how tired I was. Anyway, when people asked me the hardest thing of doing that, that was it. It was the mental weirdness of not listening to anything. So I think I might train again-

James:
You truly have to be okay with who you are and the conversations that you’re having with yourself and then you got to be creative. I love that time because it’s the time, on my bike, when I get me up in the mountains and I turn everything off and it’s just me, I come up with my best inspiration. I come up with some incredible teaching things. I come up with some great projects and ideas, really it’s my meditation, my Zen time. And I encourage everyone to find whatever that is for them, to where they can unplug. They can get that source of inspiration from whatever it comes from for you. But for me, it’s just such an important time and I love that time where I’m just like up there and being creative.

David:
Yeah, that’s cool.

Brandon:
I don’t know, I couldn’t do it, but I 100% agree with that concept of… I actually have a goal, I track it every week, on, Do I get two hours of just thinking time, no phone, no music, no nothing? Do I spend two hours a week where I’m just in that mode, with my thoughts, working on something? And my favorite thing is, I got this new, this is going to sound like an ad, but I swear it’s not, I got this thing called The reMarkable. You ever seen these things before?

James:
Uh-uh (negative).

Brandon:
It’s amazing. It’s like a Kindle, if you’ve ever used a Kindle, that’s a black and white screen where it’s like… you know the text on there except for, you can write on it with a pen. And it’s just just like a notebook that you have unlimited pages and you carry it with you. Anyway, this thing’s been a game-changer. I got it for my birthday, I think. But yeah, it’s called the reMarkable 2. I’m a fan [crosstalk 01:04:04].

James:
I think the whole thing about stepping stones is, look don’t… and I know you said two hours a week, but a lot of people try to do two hours a day or whatever. Dude, start with two minutes. Try to sit in silence with your own thoughts for two minutes. I read a great book, it’s actually one of my favorite books. It’s James Clear, Atomic Habits and-

Brandon:
Oh yeah, we had him on the show a little while ago.

James:
Oh, Dude, such a great book. And one of the things he says is, “Look, if you’re trying to go back to the gym and get fit and healthy, don’t go try to power through an hour session.” He’s like, “You’re only allowed to go to the gym for a maximum of five minutes.” And you’re like, “Why? What am I going to accomplish in going to the gym for five minutes?” And the whole thing is to change your mindset around going to the gym, because if you go to the gym every day for just five minutes, you’ve now become a gym-goer, right?

David:
Yeah.

James:
And then slowly build upon that because what, again, all the way back to the beginning of this podcast, we talked about people set themselves up for failure by trying to be perfect, by trying to do too much. Dude, go to the gym for five minutes, seriously, just go to the gym for five minutes. Dude, if you’re 400 pounds and you’re trying to go on a journey, don’t go vegan and try to be perfect. Just eliminate soda. Start so simple that it sets you up for success. It is the secret to winning.

David:
1,000% agree.

Brandon:
All right, well we got to start getting out of here so why don’t I close this with the last segment of our show? It’s time for our Famous Four. This is the part of the show where we ask the same four questions every week to every guest.

James:
Here we go.

Brandon:
We’ll just throw them at you quickly. Number one, is there a habit or trait you’re currently trying to improve in your own life? Something that you’re working on?

James:
I’m actually doing 75 Hard because I don’t drink enough water, and I do get into the habit of listening to audio books and I want to continue to strengthen and stress my mind. And so I have to read those 10, read, physically out of a book, 10 pages a day.

David:
Yeah, 75 Hard, that is no joke. I did that last fall. It was intense.

James:
Yeah. I’m on day 24 with my daughters.

Brandon:
Nice. Congrats. Oh, your daughters are doing it with you?

James:
Yeah.

Brandon:
That’s cool.

David:
I love that.

Brandon:
All right. Next question. What is your favorite business book?

James:
I’ll tell you my three favorite books. It’s Atomic Habits, Outwitting the Devil, and As a Man Thinketh.

David:
All phenomenal books.

James:
And mine, of course, Redefine Impossible.

Brandon:
Of course.

David:
Of course.

Brandon:
So the next question was, we normally ask about your hobbies. I’m just curious if you have any space for hobbies in between setting world records in athletic endeavors?

James:
I’m so pumped. Tomorrow morning I have a tee time at a very private course here in Utah. I love golf over any of the sports that I do. So my hobby would be golfing.

David:
Dude, come up to Maui sometime we’ll go to some of these world class golf courses out here.

James:
I’m going to hold you to that.

David:
It’ll be fun. You should. It’s a cool place. All right. Last question from me then, what do you think separates successful, we’ll say entrepreneurs today, but you could apply that even to athletes, just people in general, what separates the successful people from those who give up, they fail or they never get started? If you really had to boil it down.

James:
The ability to be okay with boredom and repetitive, monotonous tasks.

David:
So true. I could not say it any better.

Brandon:
Yes.

David:
Last question of the day is-

Brandon:
Where can people find out more about you?

James:
Yeah. Best place is our website, ironcowboy.com and our biggest social platform is on Instagram, ironcowboyjames, that’s where we post everything. It shoots it off to the other ones, but I answer all the questions, I respond to all the DMs right there on Instagram. You can book us for speaking. You can buy our books and our merchandise and everything Iron Cowboy on ironcowboy.com.

Brandon:
Yeah. Your Instagram is phenomenal. Like I said, I followed every single day of your 100 days. And it was my favorite thing I did. I would be watching… And you can actually go back on it. I noticed this just now, before the show, you can go back on your story highlights and see all the days-

James:
Every single day. Yeah.

Brandon:
And pictures and-

James:
Yeah. Lucy did an unbelievable job. She made a highlight for all 100 days, every day.

Brandon:
Yeah. I remember thinking, whoever your social media person is, you need to give them a raise. It’s cool [crosstalk 01:08:11].

James:
I hired her full time. She got the job.

Brandon:
Yeah. There you go. Yeah, because she did the work.

James:
She did the work.

Brandon:
I love it. All right, man. Thank you so much. This has been a ton of fun and super-inspirational. I can’t wait to see what the next phase of your life looks like. And I’m going to go check out the documentary, I never watched it. So I’m going to check that out.

James:
It’s on Prime and, also, if you’re bored, there’s a 10-episode series, also on Prime, called The World’s Toughest Race, and we were one of the competitors on that. It was a Mark Burnett production hosted by Bear Grylls.

Brandon:
Oh, no way.

James:
Brandon, thank you. David, thank you. And all the best.

Brandon:
All right.

David:
Thank you. This is David Green for Brandon the Ironman Turner, signing off.

Outro:
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Pushing yourself past the limit to see what you’re truly capable of
  • Breaking multiple world records and developing mental toughness 
  • Why your goals should scare you enough to pursue them
  • Why you don’t need to 10x your output and the importance of small steps
  • Finding what you’re willing to sacrifice to reach your goal
  • Why every great athlete, entrepreneur, and leader needs a rockstar team 
  • Choosing the person who “doesn’t break” under hard circumstances
  • And So Much More!

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