Two Life Lessons Learned from Gladiators

I’m always searching for ways to improve my workouts and get in better shape. I just didn’t realize that search would end up teaching me two critical life lessons.

Here’s what happened…

On my last trip to Texas I asked my 50+ year old brother-in-law how he stays in shape because he looks like he’s 35 years old. He told me he runs 2 miles to an outdoor workout station and does three sets of pull-ups, pushups and dips. Then he runs 2 miles back home.

I like that workout approach and figured I’d try it for myself so when I got back to NYC I did just that.

I ran 2 miles then went to an outdoor workout station along the East River to start on my upper body exercises. When I arrived I instantly noticed something about the guys in the area. I couldn’t quite place it but then I eventually realized they could all be American Gladiators or on the cover of Men’s Fitness. They were different ages, ethnicity and heights but all were absolutely ripped. Pretty sure their ears even had a 12-pack.

That gave me a eureka moment…. Clearly I am in the right place if I want to look like these guys do. By being around them the standards for my body physique immediately increased. I’ll start with my brother-in-law’s routine then slowly add in stuff I see these Gladiators doing. Then, voila, I’ll be a Gladiator to.

So the first lesson?

Find those who are already where you want to be then copy what they do

  • The fastest way to results is to borrow a success roadmap from someone who is already where you want to be

But that’s easier said than done as I would soon find out. I consider myself an athletic guy but it became apparent very quickly that it would take some time to transform into Joe the Gladiator.


Because I suck at pull-ups. By suck I mean I did…like four before I started pretending that my hands were too sweaty to keep going. I’d wipe my hands on my shirt and just shake my head “damn you sweaty hands” meanwhile my biceps ache and the Gladiators roamed all around me.

And that’s just my first set! I had two more to go. And, at this point, I could either do more pushups (much easier for me) or force myself to get back up there and embarrass  myself by doing one or, perhaps, two pull-ups per set.

It took some Eminem to motivate me but I eventually got up there and blocked out everything else. I did a whopping 2 pull-ups on my second set and 2 more on my third set. Then, I got the hell out of there.

Second lesson?

Force yourself to do the uncomfortable (even if it’s initially embarrassing)

  • Trains your body and mind to get used to that activity so you can get better

I know I’ll never get better with pull-ups if I don’t force myself though the beginner challenges. It sucks, really sucks, feeling so inadequate when those around me are accomplishing much more but I know that if I keep their company and push myself past my comfort level I will soon become Joe the Gladiator.



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Isn’t that Risky?

I was on a date the other night and she asked me what I do. After explaining that I raise money from investors and buy apartment complexes she said, “Isn’t that risky?

Fair question.

She said that she’d be concerned about losing people’s money. That’s a lot of responsibility.

And good point.

I responded by saying that it comes down to education (i.e. knowing what you’re doing) and experience (i.e. having done it and/or surrounding yourself with team members who are experts). But I’ve thought about it a lot more since then and I don’t think I fully answered the question.

Let’s talk about risk. When we think of risk we tend to think of the BAD. Right?

“Well that sounds risky…” or “Are you sure you want to take on all that risk?”

And that’s a healthy and necessary thought process. We must evaluate the BAD. But, what about the GOOD? And, better yet, what about the loss of POTENTIAL GOOD?

POTENTIAL GOOD is all the nice, wonderful experiences and outcomes that result from us choosing to do something outside our comfort zone. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Isn’t that true? Isn’t there something you’ve done in your life that initially made you uncomfortable but once you got past that the rewards far outweighed the risk?

When I evaluate things in life I look at the BAD, GOOD and LOSS of POTENTIAL GOOD. Then make a decision on if I should proceed. Let’s do an example:

EVALUATE: Should I eat a king size Snickers bar?


–        High in saturated fat – will not be happy with myself

–        Not healthy

–        Cancels out my workout


–        Mmmmmmm


–        Nuthin


–        Usually I resist.

But now let’s look at another example:

EVALUATE: Should I have a business that raises money from investors and buys apartment complexes? (hmm, this sounds familiar)


–        There’s no guarantee in ANY investment so there’s always a chance it doesn’t work out as projected. In that scenario, my reputation is ruined, my business crumbles and I am a disgrace.


–        Providing investors a conservative opportunity to make more money than what they currently get from other sources

LOSS of POTENTIAL GOOD (here’s the kicker for me):

–        The relationships I make during the investment process with my investors and team members.

–        The ability to be the go-to person to help others reach their financial goals

–        The ability to help others learn this business so they too can spend their time how they want to spend it. We all deserve that.

–        The freedom to spend time with my family (when I have one) so I can focus on the important things in life vs. having to work 9 – 5 for someone else and hope I get enough vacation time to attend all my kid’s activities.


–        Well, you know what I decided. But I only decided that after mitigating the BAD with education + experienced team members. Then, after doing that, I’m focused on the GOOD and POTENTIAL GOOD. That’s what drives me every day and that’s what makes me do what I do.

Next time someone asks me about my job and mentions risk here’s how I’ll respond:

“Risky? Yes, there is so much risk if I don’t do it.”

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Joe Fairless