Heather Gabel & Seth Sher (HIDE)


“I just want to make heavy brutal shit that makes people feel anything at all.”

Check out the full conversation to hear:
How Seth and Heather use the spirit of their backgrounds in punk and metal and channel it to HIDE’s aestheticThe role of minimalism in HIDE’s songs – and how they find the appropriate balance between repetition and variation
Why Heather uses loaded symbols from religion in her art – and how she subverts their meaning without resorting to “art school” tactics

Check out the episode at the links below. If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support the show is to share with your friends, so send them a link.

Listen Here

Check out more from Heather, Seth & HIDE here:

Show Notes

  • [01:23] Seth wasn’t into pop punk growing up. Heather was on tour with pop punk bands, but only liked “real punk.” And the value in sitting with albums and listening to them deeply in the pre-internet era.
  • [10:45] The association between live performance and recorded music – and filtering the amount of content you consume through the lens of live performance. How the spirit of HIDE relates to Heather’s punk background and Seth’s metal background even if the surface aesthetics may be different.
  • [27:53] Overanalyzing repetitive watching and listening behavior in viral videos as well as music. And what is the role of repetition in HIDE’s music? And how do Heather and Seth balance competing desires for minimalism and variation?
  • [50:42] Use of symbols and iconography in association with HIDE’s imagery, and Heather’s bizarre and uncomfortable experiences with the way that people react to her body in art, in performance and in daily life
  • [1:08:21] Humans are humans no matter where they go and engage in shitty behavior even in subcultures that ostensibly value more progressive views – and the reaction of creating online “call out culture” is probably not the best response
  • [1:23:00] Check out “Castration Anxiety” and do whatever you want – as long as it is exactly what Seth wants you to do

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Punk Brands

I got a few pretty interesting responses on my recent e-mail on branding and marketing.

I was discussing some of the differences between “branding” and “direct response marketing” as it relates to small businesses and some of the misconceptions that occur when people attempt to take principles of branding that apply to large corporations and apply them to their small businesses.

In thinking through this further, I think it’s important to distinguish another layer of signaling behavior that may be very relevant to “success” for entities operating in smaller markets or subcultures where identity becomes a massive part of how consumers interact with an entity.

I’m thinking of things like music subculture, tattoo subculture, or competitive CrossFit subculture.

In each of these arenas, identifying as “the type of person who [listens to Rudimentary Peni (see below)][gets tattooed by Tim Biedron][follows Invictus programming]” is a significant component of why someone may choose to engage with a specific entity.

These environments are a bit tricky in that the degree to which a punk band or a tattoo artist is engaging in conscious “branding” behavior may not be significant, but – within the larger subculture – fans create an environment in which it means something to wear certain t-shirts or to have certain types of traditional flash tattoos.

Is this a branding environment, persay? I’m having a hard time parsing this out, but it seems to me that success in creating a “brand” in these environments has something to do with capturing a latent swell of enthusiasts in a given subculture (ie people tired of the overblown theatrics of 80s hair metal -> cut off t-shirts, blue jeans, and big sneakers for late 80s death metal) as well as a sound or iconography that these individuals can use within that subculture to identify themselves as belonging to a specific group (ie Misfit Athletics’ distinct purple gear at CrossFit competitions).

So, rather than attempting to globally create a signaling environment in which you can say something about yourself through the shoes that you wear or the beer that you bring to a party – which is the game that Nike and Corona are playing – entities in subcultures instead seek to create symbols and ideology that appeal to a specific “in group” within that subculture.

Then, the acolytes and enthusiasts then use those specific symbols to identify themselves since they want to express that “people like us think things like this and wear these kinds of symbols” – which then creates the larger environment within the subculture such that others start to recognize that they too can say something about the type of person that they are by wearing a Bolt Thrower shirt to a hardcore show, having safety pins covering their denim jacket, or painting their fingernails black.

So, rather than a top-down attempt to create a signaling environment as done by large brands and corporations who have already created distribution for their products and are fighting at the margins for marketshare, smaller entities operating in subcultures are instead creating symbolism and ideology that is ideally picked up by a latent group who then latches onto that symbolism to further their movement. Or, there is a group looking for a leader and they then rally around a specific focal point or individual – which can than result in some top down prescription in terms of the types of symbols that a group should use or how they behave.

As Seth Godin says, “The Beatles didn’t invent teenagers.”

Drinking Corona means you’re chill AF

Marketing is one of those things like fighting that elicits bizarre, overconfident behavior from people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
Imagine the machismo spewing forth from a huffing and puffing bro as he says something like “Man, if that guy had said one more thing to me, I would have knocked him out.”
How often do these huffers and puffers actually have experience knocking anyone out?
Do they have any conception of how difficult it is to knock someone out? Or the potential consequences they themselves would be exposed to in the process of attempting to knock someone out?
As an owner of some small businesses, I often get marketing advice from people that is just absolutely horrible.
And it seems to come from a similar place as the huffer and puffer claiming that he was “this close” to knocking someone out.
There are some things that are very challenging – like marketing or fighting – that most people have very little experience with. But, they assume that, if they were put in the situation where they had to engage in that activity, they would be successful based upon a bunch of half-baked ideas in their heads.
In the sphere of marketing, the common bad advice seems to fall into three buckets:
•Needing to “get the word out” – potentially through advertising, billboards, etc.
•Having a social media presence – since that’s the future and that’s where everyone spends their time
•Having a recognizable brand – since people respond to branding and slogans
Obviously, each of those things has a time and a place – and for many businesses, one of those pieces is the main element of a hugely successful strategy.
However, for a lot of small business owners, each of those pieces is a huge distraction and will at best have marginal returns as far as bringing in new clients.
As a skeptical person, I’ve never been quite able to square why advertising is so effective for major brands.
Conventional wisdom has it that implicit association with positive imagery and feelings created through advertising and sponsorships will nudge a consumer – staring indecisively at the shelves of Powerade and Gatorade – in one direction or another.
And, for large-scale products where consumers are making impulsive selections between similar offerings (Gatorade or Powerade, Michelin vs Goodyear, etc.), the marginal nudging through advertising is well worth the investment.
Contrast this to the school of direct response marketing, where hyper-niche audiences are spoken to in ways that demonstrate a deep, intimate understanding of their problem and are offered a solution – all while building trust and handling objections through long copy, testimonials, and storytelling.
(For what it’s worth, I think the direct response school is much more helpful for most small businesses, and everyone on this e-mail list has experienced it probably at least once from me.)
I recently read an article that transformed how I think about advertising – and it’s right here if you want to read the whole thing.
The thesis is essentially that advertising works to create a signaling environment in which you can say something about who you are as a person through your use of certain products.
You may identify as the “type of person who wears Nikes, drinks Corona and drives a Ford” – but that doesn’t actually do much good unless the cultural environment as a whole has some recognition of what one may be hoping to signal by wearing Nikes, drinking Corona, and driving a Ford.
So, does advertising potentially create marginal nudges in purchasing of consumer products? Probably.
But, the main lessons from massively successful global brands have to do with creating a cultural landscape in which you can signal something about yourself through which shoes you wear, which car you drive, which soft drinks you drink, which laptop you have, etc.
It’s not simply about creating an implicit association in a consumer’s mind between a product and fun, athletic success, attractive people partying, or suave, risk-taking behavior. It’s about making sure that the entire cultural landscape knows that the type of people who drink Corona are chill AF (or something). This is why it’s important to reach such large-scale audiences through advertising – the fact that everyone is exposed to the message is a key component of creating the environment in which one can signal something about themselves through product choice.
As such, small businesses need to be very careful about which lessons they draw from the advertising, branding and sloganeering of large, mainstream organizations – since the goals are often very different.

Jim Crowell (OPEX)

Jim Crowell

A lot of people have been lead astray by an apocryphal Confucius quote.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Guess what, morons – Confucius didn’t say that and just because you love working out or coaching doesn’t mean you should open a gym.

Most coaches who open up gyms in pursuit of their passion for fitness and to escape the 9-5 grind quickly discover that the business of owning a gym goes far beyond great coaching and programming.

How do they differentiate themselves in saturated markets?

Who should they target to buy their services?

What problems are going to pop up provided that you are actually fortunate enough to have enough clients that you can actually cover your monthly expenses?

CEO of OPEX Jim Crowell joins the podcast to talk about the necessary pieces for succeeding in the fitness industry and how OPEX is pioneering and creating the “personalized fitness” category.

Check out the full conversation with Jim to learn:

  • How to think about competition in the fitness industry – you’re not just competing with other gyms offering similar services (like CrossFit or other group fitness), you’re competing with at-home workout options, large corporations with sophisticated marketing, and laziness and inertia on the part of the consumer
  • How to find the balance between creating systems and structure – while still allowing for the creativity and craftsmanship of the coaching profession
  • How to leverage tribalism in your target audience – and what lead channels are actually effective for finding at attracting good-fit clients

Check out the episode at the links below. If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support the show is to share with your friends, so send them a link.

Listen Here

Check out more from Jim here:

Show Notes

  • [3:21] How Jim’s background as an MBA hedge fund guy with degrees in finance and economics set him up for entry into the CrossFit market as a true capitalist. “I need to build this thing because somebody else is going to build it if I don’t.”
  • [11:18] The winner-take-all dynamics of local fitness businesses – and why you must be the leader in your subcategory
  • [20:48] How OPEX is seeking to create the “personalized fitness” category in the market – and how they are looking to position themselves compared to personal training or group training
  • [26:38] The necessity of targeting a specific audience to reap the benefits of tribalism – versus risking speaking to no one at all. “You don’t create your brand; the market tells you what your brand is…You can just try to influence what that market reaction is.”
  • [32:53] The growing pains of restructuring and the importance of not confusing and alienating your target audience – and how OPEX decided to split out the remote coaching business of Big Dawgs from the work of certifications and licensing.
  • [40:40] Tribalism and the desire “to be a part of something…[and feel] a deeper meaning behind why they’re doing what they’re doing” – and how this relates to marketing and retention in facilities
  • [56:06] Allowing for creativity in coaching while still providing standardization and consistency in processes.
  • [01:04:34] How the start-up cost and business structure of opening a CrossFit gym has changed since 2005 to now.
  • [01:10:25] Differences in managing a gym with 150 members versus a gym with more than that, and attempting to get in front of problems before they happen.

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Having your ideas rudely smacked around

I just spent the last several days at OPEX in Scottsdale as part of an “apprenticeship” that felt a bit more like a “mastermind.”

There were 6 coaches along with OPEX founder James FitzGerald discussing the finer details and ins and outs of coaching athletes to compete in mixed modal sport – aka the CrossFit Games and similar competitions.

James has both won the CrossFit Games (in the early days, just saying…) and coached several elite competitors like Marcus Filly, Mike McGoldrick, Nate Schrader, Amanda Goodman, and others.

Mike Lee has been the head coach at Big Dawgs (the rebranded remote coaching and competitive fitness arm of OPEX) and also coached elite competitors like Marcus Filly (taking over for James), Tennil Reed, Colleen Fotsch, and others.

So, through the experiences of James and Mike as well as the backgrounds of the other coaches present (myself, Ian Kaplan, Carl Hardwick, Whitney Welsch and Kyle Livak), we were able to challenge our minds quite a bit to really clarify our thinking surrounding how to best train athletes for sport.
I’ve made no secrets of how much I dislike social media and the negative incentives it creates for engaging in challenging, long-form content and having nuanced disagreements (without resorting to tribalism and ad hominem).

But, this experience reminded me how much I value detailed discussions with people who can challenge me on my thinking and my ideas.

Back in the early 2000s, the internet was this kind of place for me.

Through involvement in a variety of forums and communities, I was exposed to a lot of people who were a lot smarter, more worldly, quicker witted, and more tasteful than myself.

In this case, the instinct to rank myself in social hierarchies and attempt to impress my superiors resulted in accelerated growth and forced me to get funnier and more insightful, to offer clearer thinking, to be exposed to more music and culture, etc.

Which I am eternally quite grateful for.

My recent experience at OPEX felt similar in that I had to quickly bucket and clarify my thinking on topics that have been a bit half-formed in my head – since anything I said was going to be picked apart and examined by people with a lot more reference experiences and successes than I’ve personally had.
I found this to be hugely valuable in terms of pushing me to level up my own thought processes – and to avoid anything sloppy in my mental models.

Now, I’m thinking about if/how humanity can take the internet back from the algorithm-driven aggregator models of places like Facebook and Instagram which incentivize lazy appeals to “revealed preferences” through catering to our worst instincts – rather than incentivizing deep discussion and fighting to keep up with people who are, quite frankly, just a lot better than you.

I’m not sure if aggregators will ever be displaced due to the robust network effects that they capitalize upon, but is there some way to instead push folks into distributed networks where the incentives are to impress clear-thinking, highly judgmental people who are going to hold everyone to a ridiculous standard of thought?

That would be nice – even if it’s only for a corner of the internet that enjoys such intellectual sparring.

Michael Cazayoux (Working Against Gravity//Brute Strength)

Michael Cazayoux

It’s no secret that I’ve been roasting a bunch of fluffy “mental toughness” content on the e-mail list recently. (You’re not signed up, you say? Well, fix that by filling out the link below this post or on the sidebar if you’re not using mobile.)

So, what am I doing talking to Michael Cazayoux about mindset?

Well, aside from wanting to have a conversation with a fellow with such an impressive pedigree – co-founder of Brute Strength and host of its eponymous podcast, president of Working Against Gravity, and 2012 and 2013 CrossFit Games Champion as part of Hack’s Pack – I wanted to clarify my own thinking on the topic.

Michael has a lot to say about mindset – both from his history in counseling and treatment from addiction as well as his current path in terms of developing an internal training program for the staff at Working Against Gravity.

This is not just aimless #fitspo. These are strategies that Michael has used to develop comfort with vulnerability and improve his own mental resilience.

Check out the full conversation with Michael to learn:

  • How to prioritize the things that matter most – and how Michael has learned to recognize the true cost of saying “yes” to too many things
  • How the cultural norm of the “strong and silent” male is unhealthy – and how to learn to feel your emotions and authentically express yourself
  • How goal setting requires “crystal clear” metrics – and how to balance focus on an outcome without emotional attachment to a specific result
  • The value of personal development and “deep work” – and how to create true behavior change through accountability and being part of a culture with values that you want to emulate (like at Working Against Gravity for example…)

Check out the episode at the links below. If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support the show is to share with your friends, so send them a link.

Listen Here

Check out more from Michael here:

Show Notes

  • [2:20] How podcasts facilitate having deep conversations – and how Michael brings that curiosity to his every day interactions. Plus: reframing small talk.
  • [8:22] The importance of prioritizing and saying “no” to things, and how to make room for (and actually schedule) the things that really matter to you. And, how to figure out what matters to you by being crystal clear on your personal values – and what people you want to spend time with and what activities you want to spend time doing.
  • [16:43] How to learn to recognize your own emotions and utilize those to develop your priorities. And how Michael used group therapy in his rehab process to build self-awareness – and how he learned to dismiss the negative cultural role models of quiet gruff men who are out of touch with their emotions.
  • [24:52] The need for defining specific and measurable goals, and the formula of breaking down a long-term goal into sub-goals and processes that make it “inevitable” to achieve that outcome.
  • [30:40] The importance of picking a goal that gives you a certain amount of pleasure, and the fallacy of “falling [totally] in love with the journey.” And how to focus on a specific on a specific outcome without becoming emotionally dependent upon achieving those results.
  • [37:44] Rolling out a personal development program for the staff at Working Against Gravity – and getting real buy-in and accountability for behavior change (rather than just having people treat the concepts as “motivational quotes”)
  • [41:55] Committing to truly sharing emotions in group therapy, and the value in being authentic in expressing emotions – and Michael’s history of walling himself off from others during his addiction
  • [49:19] Being surrounded with other people who are into self-development and getting spacey with the Barbell Shrugged guys and Angelo Sisco. And how diving into your past and looking at what your faults are “will naturally and quickly improve your mindset tenfold.”
  • [01:00:14] How the Brute Strength Podcast both builds trust with Michael’s audience – and how it facilitates having deep discussions with thought leaders

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Decreasing productivity and how what got you here won’t get you there

One of my favorite people to listen to (or, in this case, read) is Patrick Collison – widely known as the CEO of Stripe.

Patrick is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve heard speak on various podcasts, and his ability to hold complicated networks of bidirectional causality and multiple layers of abstraction in his head at once – while footnoting himself extensively in his normal speech – is a feat to be admired.

Patrick recently published an article in The Atlantic called “Science is Getting Less Bang for Its Buck”.

And, if you want to go really deep on it, you can listen to my favorite podcast (EconTalk) where Russ Roberts and Patrick break down the article in more detail.

The fundamental thesis of the article is that the individual productivity rate for scientific discovery is going down – meaning that it is requiring more people and more effort to produce scientific discoveries that are also seemingly of lower quality than in the past.

If we assume that this is generally true (and – as a non-expert in this area, I find the case made quite compelling), there are a variety of potential causes of this phenomenon.

I see significant parallels to long-term athletic development and business growth; “What got you here is not what will get you there.”

After athletes have used up their “newbie gains,” it requires much more intelligent and dedicated training to continue to make progress.

Athletes also tend to spend a lot of time on performance plateaus where they feel stagnant in their abilities.

Then, they suddenly have breakthrough performances where they reach a new echelon of capacity.
If I were interested in speaking in hackneyed and trite phraseology, I may say something like “we’re building a bridge not a road.”

Meaning that, when building a road, each piece of incremental progress results in increased ground covered. However, when building a bridge, incremental progress does not necessarily result in increasing the distance someone can travel.

Until suddenly it does when the bridge is connected and you’ve suddenly connected two landmasses.
Does this mean that productivity rates will ever return to what they were? Not necessarily.

At some point, we may reach new innovations that open up entirely new layers of abstraction on which individuals can begin making discoveries (think of the confluence of factors that facilitated Instacart being a multi-billion dollar company like smartphones, GPS, and a cultural understanding of the “gig economy” – as opposed to Webvan which was a notorious dot com bust posterchild in the early 2000s).

What could these new layers of abstraction be? Certainly, the ability of machine learning (ugh “AI”) could facilitate an ability to model the complexity of emergent systems in biology, weather, economics, and social sciences in heretofore unseen ways that allows us to get a stronger foothold into the inherent chaos (meaning “extreme dependence on initial conditions”) of these systems.

If I had to put my money on any sort of path forward for major scientific discoveries, that’s where I’d be looking.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the individual productivity rate will rebound – it may in fact continue to be trending downward, but the possibility of new layers of technology and an understanding of how to model chaotic phenomena may result in individuals being able to harness these new technologies and bust through a productivity “plateau” [or potentially “downward sloping steppe” based upon the data in Collison’s article].

And, if we couple an increased productivity rate with Stripe’s mission of creating an economic infrastructure that brings the entire world’s population online in such a way that there is a much larger pool of innovators in a position to potentially make scientific discoveries, we may just save the world after all.

Well, until the universe wheedles, whimpers and whines to an untimely heat death.

Todd + Friel

Do you are about looking good naked?

Do you care about six pack abs?

Do you care about setting a personal record on your back squat?

If so, congratulations – you’re probably already an athlete in some form.

But not everybody cares about these things. In fact, some people find these kinds of competitive or aesthetic goals to be a turn-off.

What – if anything – should motivate these folks to train?

Is it worth the time and energy spent in the gym if you don’t have very specific performance or aesthetics-based goals?

In this episode, my childhood friend John Friel interviews me about why a non-exercise-inclined person might actually care about physical training.

Possible reasons include: mental acuity, healthy longevity, and stress reduction.

John was one of the kids in AYSO soccer sitting in the back picking grass – so that should give some framework for where his athletic ambitions lie.

He is a self-taught programmer currently working on an NYC-based start-up called Art in Res (creating a marketplace connecting artists with collectors – and mayhaps disrupting the entrenched gallery structure???).

John and I have honed our conversational sparring skills over decades – and I thought it would be interesting to have him ask me more detailed questions about some of the health and fitness related topics that we’ve discussed in the past – this time with microphones present.

Check out the full conversation to hear:

  • How training affects mental acuity and cognitive energy – and how the discipline to get unpleasant things done and the ability to deal with stress in training can transfer over to increased focus and resiliency in other areas of life.
  • How the “domains of health” (training, nutrition, sleep, stress reduction, and social connection) affect performance and longevity – with consistency being the key to unlocking results.
  • How self-experimentation may not be the best way to achieve results – most people don’t have enough knowledge to self-experiment in a reasonable way and will be far too reactive to noisy results. It’s often better to enlist the help of an expert.

Check out the episode at the links below. If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support the show is to share with your friends, so send them a link.

Listen Here

Check out more from John here:

Show Notes

  • [03:25] How fitness is still important for people who don’t care about chasing six pack abs or a back squat PR. “To what end is fitness valuable?”
  • [08:44] Training may increase your overall “pool of energy” throughout the so – even though you’re taking time out of your day to exercise – your overall productivity may be higher
  • [17:21] Understanding the concept of asset allocation for fitness goals in terms of trading-off short-term performance improvements for long-term longevity losses – and how to maximize healthy longevity
  • [26:59] How does the concept of “antifragility” compare to the concept of mechanical wear and tear in biological systems? And what are the mechanisms for injury or loss of range of motion?
  • [35:20] How does the nervous system control range of motion? And how does this relate to stretching? And does lifting weights make you tight?
  • [46:37] How does a layperson go about integrating this information into their training? How do you decide what information to trust? “Anything is better than nothing” – gaining traction to build momentum and develop consistency.
  • [51:15] The 5 buckets of health that affect performance and longevity: training, nutrition, sleep, stress reduction, and social connections. Nutrition is the “biggest bang for your buck” for health – and how consistency in one bucket of health “breeds consistency” in other buckets.
  • [57:41] How training helps with stress reduction management by improving “your overall ability to tolerate stress…by stressing yourself appropriately” (but not excessively). And how great athletes are able to mount very robust stress responses – and then recover very quickly.
  • [1:08:25] What do you think about the idea of someone treating themselves as a guinea pig? Should individuals engage in self-experimentation? And the need to set goals and iteratively approach them with the guidance of an expert.
  • [1:20:19] Do you have recommendations for resources that people can use to self-educate on the different pillars of health?

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Up And Down the Layers of Abstraction with Mental Toughness

As we move up and down the layers of abstraction regarding “mental toughness,” we encounter varying frameworks and strategies.

The tools needed to perform well on a specific workout are not necessarily the same tools necessary to perform well on a week of workouts or a month of workouts.
In many other sports, a truly transcendent ability during game play can supersede all other aspects of athletic development. If you are that good at basketball, football, or soccer, the marginal gains of proper sleep, nutrition, training and planning may not offer enough of a percentage improvement in your performance to make a true difference in your competitive abilities.

However, in sports like CrossFit – where the ability of an athlete is very closely tied to how much training they’ve done and how well they’ve adapted to the training – the aggregation of percentage point improvements in recovery and physiological adaptation are worth quite a bit more in terms of performance during competition than in field sports that are much more heavily determined by skill during gameplay.

So, what variables do matter for the long-term development of CrossFit athletes?

One of the major ones is the accumulation of quality training sessions over time.

You can’t control your genetics (which are going to be one of the main factors dictating how well you can recover from and adapt to these training sessions), but you can control your attitude and your discipline such that you are maximizing the amount of quality training sessions you have in a specific time period.

What time period is that? Well, that depends on specific goals. For many athletes, we are looking at a time horizon of several years to achieve their competition goals – and in this case, we are often looking to accumulate the maximum tolerable dose of training (meaning as much training as we can do without causing negative consequences).

For many people looking to “live long and prosper” (as James FitzGerald would put it) rather than “compete and win,” that time horizon may be decades – and here we are looking to accumulate the minimum effective dose of training (meaning as little as we can do while still creating progression towards goals or maintenance against entropy).

In this context, “mental toughness” does not refer to the ability to push harder.

It does not refer to the ability to be rigid and routine-based and get up at 4am every day and push yourself through an ass-kicking workout.

It refers to the ability to maximize your number of quality training sessions over the amount of time over which you are attempting to reach your goals.

(With the caveat that competitors are going to always be looking for ways to add more training into their routines and every day folks are going to be looking to find the leasts amount of training that progresses them at a reasonable rate towards their goals or maintains their fitness.)

So, from a more zoomed out perspective, mental toughness for both competitive athletes and every day people in the gym requires them to have enough discipline to do the things that matter – creating time in their schedule to train consistently, developing habits and consistency surrounding sleep and nutrition, developing an awareness of how they are feeling so they can give appropriate feedback on their training load, etc – while also building in enough flexibility in their schedule and their plans that they don’t become overly obsessed with achieving specific results in training sessions, hitting exact numbers of macros on every single day, or making sure they complete every session prescribed to them even if they have the flu.

Justin LoFranco (Morning Chalk Up)

Justin LoFranco

“When everyone else zigs, you should zag.”

Like most quotes, this concept can – without context – become quite dangerous and lead to all sorts of crackpot ideas.

But, when there’s an obvious push in a market in one direction, crafty entrepreneurs can quickly start to find holes that need filling.

In the world of CrossFit, visual mediums like Instagram seem to be king. People love video of other people working out. They love photos of fit people wearing minimal clothing. And CrossFitters seemingly can’t get off their social media long enough to complete a training session.

So, what in the world is a long, almost entirely text-based newsletter doing racking up thousands and thousands of subscribers?

Justin LoFranco, the founder of the Morning Chalk Up has this to say:
“I just decided to go the opposite direction. Let’s focus on on doing words right. Not driving clicks.”

With a background in campaign politics that resulted in a detailed understanding of creating audience archetypes and a passion for CrossFit, Justin has been able to turn the Morning Chalk Up into one of the premiere sources for CrossFit news.

In fact, with the restructuring of the CrossFit media department to focus on CrossFit Health instead of the CrossFit Games, the Chalk Up was the first outlet to break the news on the completely revamped competitive CrossFit season for 2019.

Check out the full conversation with Justin to learn:

  • How Justin thinks about creating long-form content via e-mail in an era when everyone seems to be saying that the future is in short content posted on social media
  • How Justin mapped out the theoretical archetypes of the readers of the Morning Chalk Up – and how reality has met his expectations
  • How Justin worked to align the content of the Chalk Up with his audience – and how including more content from every day CrossFitters (not just folks competing at the CrossFit Games) has grown the business

Check out the episode at the links below. If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support the show is to share with your friends, so send them a link.

Listen Here

Check out more from Justin and the Morning Chalk Up here: