Joe De Sena Resilience

Joe De Sena
Full Transcript

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Kelly: [0:00:04] Hey everyone, I’m Dr. Kelly Starrett.

Juliet: [0:00:06] And I’m Juliet Starrett.

Kelly: [0:00:08] And you’re listening to The Ready State Podcast.


Juliet: [0:00:16] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by

Kelly: [00:00:20] Let’s talk about the joy of getting in an ice-cold bed in the summer.

Juliet: [00:00:26] It’s really actually awesome.

Kelly: [00:00:28] But now it’s not summer.

Juliet: [00:00:30] Nope.

Kelly: [00:00:30] And let’s talk about the joy of getting into an ice-cold bed in the winter.

Juliet: [00:00:34] That’s less awesome, especially for me.

Kelly: [00:00:36] You freak out. You actually get mad.

Juliet: [00:00:38] Yeah. Our room is really cold. So cold room, plus freezing cold bed in the winter is not my favorite.

Kelly: [00:00:45] So one of the things that we love about out Dock Pro, it’s like a romantic thing, I turn on your Dock Pro before we go to bed, and your bed is 95 degrees. It’s so toasty. I put my foot over there one day and I was like, hmm, note to self. So I started jacking my bed up. I jump into bed, it is so warm when I get in there, and then I slam on the brakes. So I get into bed, my bed’s 95, I turn it down to 84 when I’m sleeping lately, and I start to drift down.

Juliet: [00:1:13] You want to know what’s crazy; I’ve been sleeping at 81, lower than you.

Kelly: [00:01:18] Ice cold, baby. Look, one of the things that we have discovered besides just staying cool during the sleeping and preventing the hot flashes is being able to warm up and cool down your bed before you go to bed. This thing has so much power, it’s easy to do this, and it’s profoundly changed my going to bed experience. In fact, my Ring last night told me I fell asleep too fast.

Juliet: [00:01:39] Well, and the other thing that’s amazing is I’m sleeping at 81 degrees but then I have the app set so that it rachets up to about 92 degrees in the very last part of my sleep cycle, so right before I wake up. So I go to sleep really warm and then I wake up in this cozy, warm bed. It’s amazing.

Kelly: [00:01:56] Where do I find out more about this, J?

Juliet: [00:01:58] Head over to to learn more and save on the purchase of any new Cube, OOLER, or Dock Pro Sleep System. Go to to take advantage of our exclusive discount and wake up feeling awesome like we do.

Juliet: [00:02:14] Hey everyone, we just want to remind you that our book Built to Move is due out in just a few short weeks on April 4, 2023, and we are really excited to actually get this thing out into the world and in everybody’s hands.

Kelly: [00:02:28] One of the things I think is really great about this book is we have created 10 Vital Signs that are objective that you can understand as key elements of your durability and health and so that you can understand it’s not good or bad, but you’re like, oh, I’m above or below one of these vital signs, maybe I need to focus on it. Help you to illuminate some of the blind spots in your life. 

Juliet: [00:02:49] That’s just one of the many things you can learn from this book. Head on over to to learn more and order a copy. Thank you so much for your support.

Juliet: [00:02:58] On this episode of The Ready State Podcast, we are delighted to welcome our friend Joe De Sena. Joe is the founder and CEO of Spartan, the world’s leading endurance sports brand. He has built Spartan into a global fitness and wellness brand, with a 10 plus million community of athletes across the globe. Under his leadership, Spartan’s portfolio of brands has grown to include Spartan Trail, DEKA, La Ruta, Tough Mudder, and Highlander. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book, 10 Rules for Resilience: Mental Toughness for Families, hit bookstores in 2021.

Kelly: [00:03:32] You’re going to see that we’ve spent some time with Joe and his family. Right away, there’s a level of comfort here and honest discourse and transparency about our failings as parents and how we are literally trying to set up our kids for success by making them uncomfortable.

Juliet: [00:03:51] Yeah, and one of the things that was so fun about this conversation is Joe is… I don’t know if we’ve ever talked to anyone who has as many crazy and funny stories to tell about making people, including kids, uncomfortable.

Kelly: [00:04:04] The other thing is that when you’re around Joe, he casts this spell and pulls you in. It doesn’t matter if we’re having dinner, you leave inspired, you feel like you want to challenge yourself. He casts some kind of mischievous magic where he really does allow people enough rope to go hang themselves. From our own experience with our kids and racing, Joe does such a good job of inviting people in to discover their own greatness.

Juliet: [00:04:33] Yeah, Joe is one of the people I think we are most delighted to have been able to meet and become friends with on this crazy journey of working in the greater health and fitness and wellness space.

Kelly: [00:04:44] Unequivocally.

Juliet: [00:04:44] And I think you all are really going to enjoy this conversation. We laughed a lot. So enjoy our conversation with Joe.

Juliet: [00:04:51] Hey Ready State listeners, if you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [00:04:59] Joe, welcome to The Ready State Podcast. What people may not know is that you and I are secretly best friends.

Joe De Sena: [00:05:05] We are and it’s no secret. I try to tell everybody that I… “You know the Starretts?” I’m like, “Are you kidding me? I’m at their house, I eat cookies that their kids bake, I’m in their pool, they tried to drown me once or twice, tried to freeze me out, sweat me out in their sweat box.” Good cooks. You guys are good cooks. Food is always good at the Starrett house.

Kelly: [00:05:27] You can tell by the fact that I am slow on the beast.

Juliet: [00:05:30] So we’re just going to get right into it, but you actually mentioned that you were doing a speaking engagement yesterday and just about to tell us what that was. So let’s hear it.

Joe De Sena: [00:05:39] So a couple things: When I grew up, my neighbor was the head of the Bonanno organized crime family. I grew up ground zero for Good Fellas. So there was organized crime everywhere. People were doing 25-year bids. I was young. I don’t know. I learned some things. My neighbor said, “Come over and clean my pool,” one day. So I went over there. And he said, “I’m going to give you three lessons in life: Number one, on time is late. Supposed to be here at 8 o’clock, you get here at 7:45.” He said, “Number two, you go above and beyond. I want you to clean up the lawn furniture, straighten up the shed and the windows, even though I’m only paying you to clean the pool and other customers are only paying you to clean the pool, you’ve got to go above and beyond. And number three, never ask for money.” Strange, if you want to get in business, you want to ask for money. But I’ve carried those three lessons through my whole life. Obviously, I got great lessons from my dad, from other people, from my mom. But those really stuck with me because I was young, impressionable, and this was the boss. 

Juliet: [00:06:33] Yeah, and it’s interesting because you hear a lot of stories about people actually, whether they get a lesson or disciplined by someone else’s parent, those are often the things you remember the most, right? Sometimes our own parents are just this wah wah wah wah in the background, but sometimes those outside people have the biggest impression.

Joe De Sena: [00:06:53] No doubt about it. And I purposely put people in front of my children to recreate what we just talked about. So anyway, fast forward 41 years from that moment and I get a call from Grant Cardone, he’s internet personality, Cardone Capital. He’s done incredibly well, private jet. And his schtick is 10X your life, 10 X your business. Pushes real estate. Does really well, has a pretty large audience, and somehow, we became friends. And he hit me up and he said, “Hey, I’ve got this big gig out in Vegas, you want to come speak?” And so my answer from that lesson from that wise guy was, “Yeah, no problem.” I don’t ask for anything, you know? Anyway, I don’t really ask what it is. You guys know me for a long time. I’m busy with my life, I’m busy with the business. My assistant goes, “Hey, you’ve got to be at the airport tomorrow at 6 a.m.” “For what?” You got to go do that Grant Cardone thing. I was alike, “Ah, fuck.” So anyway, jump on a plane, go out there, banging out emails in between. It’s embarrassing to say but I do these speeches, sometimes I get onstage and I don’t have a plan or anything. I just start talking quick.

Kelly: [00:08:00] The parachute always assembles itself. It does. It assembles itself. 

Joe De Sena: [00:08:04] I like that a lot. That’s a good sentence. The plan assembles itself. So anyway, I’m waiting in a hotel room. My assistant texted me and said, “Hey, someone’s going to pick you up from the hotel room.” I thought that was a little weird because that’s never happened before. I usually show up at the stage wherever I’m supposed to speak, right?  I don’t know anything. No one’s miked me up or shown me a stage. I don’t know what time, but somebody’s going to be in my room. So these three seven foot monsters show up at like 9 a.m. I mean the biggest guys. Bigger than you, Kelly. 

Kelly: [00:08:35] This is your life now.

Joe De Sena: [00:08:36] They’ve got microphones on their wrists and I’m like-

Juliet: [00:08:39] Yeah, what is this, the Secret Service or something?

Joe De Sena: [00:08:41] Is this for me? You’ve got the wrong guy. And they’re like, “Come on, sir, we know you. We love Spartan.” I was like, “You know Spartan?” I thought I was completely irrelevant at this point. And I’m not even joking. This is bizarre. And we’re going through back alleys and rooms and walking through kitchens. And then we get put in a fancy black car and driven like a quarter mile, taken out, and the door gets opened for me. One of the monsters says, “Hey, Dave Chappelle loves Spartan. He smokes too much but he wants to do Spartan and he wants to meet you.” And I was like, “Is this real? I don’t even understand what’s happening right now.” And I get walked into the stage area and I’m like this is really strange because I hear a lot of noise on the other side of the screen. And I say to one of the monsters, “How many people are in the room,” because I don’t know anything. He’s like, “I think 20,000.” I’m like, “What? What the fuck am I going to talk about?”

Juliet: [00:09:36] You’re like, “Shit, I didn’t make a PowerPoint.”

Joe De Sena: [00:09:39] He literally goes, “Hey, just make sure on the stage there’s a six-inch thing so make sure you don’t trip,” and they push me up the stairs. And this was yesterday morning. And I step over this six-inch threshold and their fucking room is packed. And I walk on this catwalk that a model would walk on into this circle in the middle and there’s people 360 degrees around me. There’s people everywhere. 

Juliet: [00:10:05] You were like I am Beyonce at a Beyonce concert.

Joe De Sena: [00:10:08] I was so confused. And I just started talking. And the crowd responded so well that I started thinking in the first few minutes—and Kelly, maybe you guys have had this experience—I never have—they responded so well it was like when we grew up the TV shows had fake clapping and laughter at the right moments, right? And they were clapping and laughing at the perfect moments. And I was like is there a screen somewhere that’s telling people to clap and laugh and is there something in their coffee. And I told them all, I said, “What are you all drinking? This is unbelievable.” I’ve never had a crowd like, “Hello,” and they start cheering. This is unbelievable. And I went through my talk and a bunch of high fives on the way out. And then people came outside to take some pictures. And it’s almost like I’m in the Matrix. I’m not telling you because I’m ego… I’m just telling you because it was unbelievable.

Juliet: [00:11:10] That sounds crazy. What did you actually talk about? Do you even remember or did you black out?

Kelly: [00:11:14] I hope someone wrote it down.

Juliet: [00:11:14] Did you black out and you’ll never be able to remember what you talked about?

Joe De Sena: [00:11:19] Oh, before I tell you what I talked about, this is the better part. Guess who came up after me, which I didn’t know any of this.

Juliet: [00:11:25] I don’t know.

Joe De Sena: [00:11:25] Mark Wahlberg. Mark Wahlberg came up after me. Guess who came up after him?

Juliet: [00:11:31] Tell us.

Joe De Sena: [00:11:32] Tom Brady. 

Kelly: [00:11:34] That makes perfect sense.

Joe De Sena: [00:11:35] Is that crazy?

Juliet: [00:11:36] Would it be weird if I asked what you were wearing? Is that weird?

Joe De Sena: [00:11:40] I was wearing the clothes I have on right now; I didn’t change because I got in at 1 in the morning and I cleaned up and came to work with the same clothes on.

Kelly: [00:11:47] We have this friend who teaches real fighting for tactical officers, people like that, and it’s real. Shoutout to my friend [inaudible 00:11:57]. He says, “Look, I can’t guarantee you this is a fight, but I can guarantee you an honest experience.” And one of the things that you’re describing is why people are so mad for the Spartan, because you, my friend, just had an honest experience. You didn’t know what you were in for, someone talked you into it, “Hey, we’re going to do this race, you’ll be fine. You’re fit enough.” And then people are shouting, “Hooah,” at you, they’re cheering for you and then you’re running through a puddle. You just had that experience. How long has it been since you had an experience like that?

Joe De Sena: [00:12:28] I got to tell you, it’s been a long time. I literally had to pinch myself yesterday, it was so surreal.

Kelly: [00:12:35] You can see why people are such Spartan fans, because they have such an honest experience. I want to tell people that this is your MO, to give people the real experience. So you come over to our house and you guys are in town for something and you have one of Georgia’s cookies. And you don’t eat cookies, but you were like, “Hey, I’m going to throw myself on this sword and eat one of Georgia’s cookies.” And then you said, “Hey, you should sell cookies at the Spartan Race in San Francisco.” And you are the boss. And so you said, “Oh, you’re going to just sell 3,000 cookies and you’re going to donate half the proceeds to charity, work it out.” And she had to work it out. You literally just set this up, don’t fall on your face, make me look bad, you’re a family member, we’re doing you a favor. And she had to work it out. She had to take two days off from school, she had to rent a commercial kitchen. I mean it was bananas. She was so smoked after Saturday selling cookies all day. And what I feel like is this is a thing where you put people into situations and trust that they will rise to the occasion. And you just did that thing for yourself.

Joe De Sena: [00:13:38] I agree with that. And I did say to them yesterday as part of the speech, I’m remembering to answer Juliet’s question, was, “I’m a big believer in fire, ready, aim.” And I did that for your daughter, for Georgia, for the cookie sales in San Francisco. But I do it for myself, my family. I’m a big believer in it. I almost feel like if you plan too much, which is contrary to what the military does and they’re so successful at it, but if you plan too much, it sucks all the creativity and the fun out of it. We’re just going to roll with this. Makes it really interesting and I think it’s made me a more creative person. Here’s a great one for you – let’s just keep going with these, if it’s okay.

Juliet: [00:14:17] Yes.

Joe De Sena: [00:14:18] Last weekend, we had the Winter Death Race on the farm. And so normally the way we would-

Kelly: [00:14:23] Wait, hold on, we need five minutes.

Juliet: [00:14:25] Can you tee it up, what is the Death Race?

Kelly: [00:14:27] Let everyone know.

Juliet: [00:14:27] Because some people may not actually know. 

Joe De Sena: [00:14:29] So the Death Race I started 2005. And the reason I started it was business is a death race. You guys know it, I know it, anybody who’s an entrepreneur knows it’s a death… You just want to stick ice picks in your eyeballs some days. Many days.

Kelly: [00:14:45] And what’s the failure of most businesses?

Joe De Sena: [00:14:47] Oh, nine out of ten they don’t make it past three… I mean it’s just the likelihood of success is minimal. It’d be like going into the arena, into the Coliseums, you and I, and one person is coming out at the end of the day. One.

Kelly: [00:15:02] That’s it. One. That’s it. That’s business.

Joe De Sena: [00:15:05] So anyway the Death Race was how do I completely torture people, how do I lie to them, turn their whole lives upside down, the same way business does, the same way life does, and they don’t know what’s coming next. There’s no aid stations. Because I had done so many organized races myself, competed in marathons and ultra-marathons and Iron Mans and all this stuff and everything was organized. And you always had your banana when you needed it and the water. And I said it’s not life, right? And so the death race is going to turn that whole thing on its head. And it’s continued on and I’ve had some fun all over the world.

Kelly: [00:15:40] Wait, can you explain when the Death Race ends?

Juliet: [00:15:42] How you win or when it ends.

Joe De Sena: [00:15:45] Yeah, first I’ll tell you some fun stories. But I’ve moved it around the world. It mostly takes place in Vermont on our farm. It typically only happens once a year between end of June and July 4. But then, I don’t know, 10 years ago I added the winter version primarily as a tune up for somebody thinking of doing the summer. You should probably come out for 24 hours and just play around with us in the snow and see what you’re getting into so you’re more likely to be successful in the summer. Because we can’t help ourselves, the winter has just turned into craziness. It was supposed to be like a training camp. But it’s turned into Guantanamo. Water boarding, just crazy shit. And it ends when I want it to end. It could be a year where we’re like, you know what, let’s let everybody finish, or you know what, nobody’s finishing, we’re just going to keep going until everybody quits. And it just depends on what we feel like. And there’s no rules in business. It swipes the legs down from under you, your factory burns down when you need it most, your best employees leave, your competitor shows up across the street, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. And so that’s Death Race. 

One year a friend of mine said, “Hey, you know, a friend of mine has a bullfighting ranch in Mexico. They raise 800 bulls. They’re the toughest bulls. They get shipped all over the world. Let’s bring the Death Race.” I said, “I don’t know. I don’t really want to leave Vermont.” He said, “Yeah, we could have the bulls.” And I said, “Oh, maybe I would go to Mexico then.” So I invited everybody to Mexico City. And the idea was going back to what we were talking about earlier, creativity, shooting from the hip, let everybody fly into Mexico City, we’ll put them into really nice luxury busses for two hours north out of Mexico City and then let’s purposely have the busses break down and now they’re out on the street, the highway, and the busses are stuck there. And they’ve got spectators with them, support crew. So let’s say Kelly was doing the race and Juliet was support or Juliet was doing the race and Kelly was support; the support crew’s obviously not dressed for a race, right? The support’s obviously not dressed for a race, right? And so support and these racers get off these busses and they’re standing on the side of the road and I’m making believe, oh, this is a nightmare, I don’t know what we’re going to do. And these two broken down trucks show up that normally transport bulls. And I say, “Well, I guess we’ve got to use these trucks.” Obviously, it’s all planned behind the scenes.

 And I say to the spectator support crews, I say, “Listen, you guys either stay with the busses and you go back to Mexico City or you come but you’re in the race now. You’re no longer support. You’re not longer spectator. You’re in this fucking race.” I think there was a husband and wife, they were on their honeymoon, they had no intention of both of them doing… Anyway, was not dressed properly. They all jump in, they all agree to it, because they don’t want to wait on the side of the road by these broken down, seemingly broken down busses. They get into the cages, which are filled with leftover materials from the bulls they had left behind, lots of shit, and the trucks drive on this really bumpy dirt road for about 10 or 15 miles. And they back up to if you could envision a concrete canal where the bull normally gets off these trucks and then can’t see right or left, the canal’s higher than their head. And then eventually the gate opens and they’re released into the bullfighting ring. So what I did was I released all the humans into that canal and then in the ring was a live bull and a bunch of red jerseys. Every participant, spectator, support crew, actual racer, had to find their red jersey, their number. Let’s say Juliet was 101, Kelly was 292, your number was somewhere on the ground in that bullfighting ring with a live bull snorting and waiting for something. And we opened the gate and we let them loose and people started flying through the air and the bulls… It was craziness. You’ve got to see the video from it. So that’s just a taste of what we do. Now, somebody listening or watching or even you guys are saying, “Joe, that’s borderline insanity. Why?” But I think it goes back to what you said earlier, Kelly, that’s an honest experience. 

Kelly: [00:19:48] And it was, right?

Joe De Sena: [00:19:49] Yeah.

Kelly: [00:19:51] I think about you all the time, especially when I’m moving something awkward. One of my favorite events of the Death Race that I’ve heard of is that you gave everyone a huge 8 X10 piece of plywood and you said, “Carry this to the top of the mountain”. And I don’t know if you’ve every carried a huge piece of plywood, it’s basically the worst task on earth. Giving birth is like a vacation compared to-

Juliet: [00:20:14] ?? cuts into your body

Kelly: [00:20:19] And every time I have to move something awkward like that, I’m like Joe made people carry this up there. That’s what I think of.

Joe De Sena: [00:20:24] But it’s worse: We would only do that on a windy day.

Juliet: [00:20:29] So it’s like a giant sail? You know what that makes me think about is as you know Kelly and I both worked as river rafting guides for many years and we both did a lot of Class Four and Class Five trips and it was super interesting to see because you get these groups of big muscle groups and you’re like, yes, this is my day, we’re going to survive, we’re going to make it, these guys are going to be fine if we flip. And it turns out that you really learn a lot about who people are when you flip them and they swim in a Class Four, Class Five rapid. And looks are deceiving. Often the people you think are going to function the best in those situations don’t at all. And sort of the quiet, unexpectedly unathletic looking person follows instructions and is getting themselves out of the water and is helping to save these other people. So I don’t know what makes me think about that. But I think when you were talking about all the support people being thrown into it-

Kelly: [00:21:25] Just the chaos of the day. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

Juliet: [00:21:27] Yeah, the chaos and you don’t know what to expect and nobody knows what to expect. I don’t know. It just reminded me of that.

Joe De Sena: [00:21:32] No, but that’s a great point. Our lives are so curated. I remember when our two boys did their first Spartan race, they were probably five and three or four and two or something. We were in Austin, Texas. I’m the Spartan guy, we’re the Spartan family, I’m trying to raise tough kids. And the gun goes off in the kids’ race, they start running, and about 100 yards in they hit their first mud puddle and they both stopped and they looked at me. And I was like, “What the fuck? You kids are Spartan. Get in.” But think about it, they had been told by mom and dad, me included, “Oh, don’t get that dirty, or don’t do this.” And so even the Spartan guy is putting guardrails on the family. You don’t even know you’re doing it. And it becomes a very curated, sterile life, if that makes sense.

Kelly: [00:22:20] We were running a river, I think it was the Klamath, and we had to port a rapid called Dragon’s Tooth. And our little daughter Caroline was terrified because Dragon’s Tooth and it’s the one rapid you have portage and it’s super gnarly.

Juliet: [00:22:34] She was little, like four maybe.

Kelly: [00:22:36] Four. Yeah. And we’re running this rapid and you can’t just portage you have to kind of scrape down in the eddy, so you’re kind of swimming, you’re kind of floating, there’s the rapid, it’s scary, there’s this big movement. And she’s already a little bit freaked out. There’s a couple of people with us who are freaked out. And in the eddy, there’s a snake.

Juliet: [00:22:53] No, no, no, no. There were like five snakes in the eddy. 

Kelly: [00:22:57] She’s terrified going around this rapid and already crying, snakes come out. And I tell you what, Caroline Starrett is one of the toughest human beings to date. And I’m always like, “You can talk about the snakes in therapy, kid”

Juliet: [00:23:13] Yeah, that was the most blood curdling scream I’ve ever heard in my life. I want to tell a quick story about an experience we had with you and hopefully this can parlay a little bit into talking about your parenting style. But we made a plan to meet up with you to do a stadium Spartan Race at the AT&T Park in San Francisco some years back. I think it was maybe Charlie was with you and he was nine or ten at that point, roughly the same age as our kids, and our kids are going to do the race too. 

Kelly: [00:23:44] And you’d taken a red eye, basically.

Juliet: [00:23:44] Yeah, and you’d taken a red eye and you said, “Hey, just wait for us, once we get there, we’ll just do the race together and we’ll do it as a group.” And so you guys literally get out of the Uber in front of the AT&T Park and Charlie’s wearing Crocs and you guys have- 

Kelly: [00:24:01] You’re in jeans.

Juliet: [00:24:03] You’re in jeans. There’s some Spartan staff there. You guys give them your very small bags and we just proceed directly to the starting line and you and Charlie did the entire thing in whatever …. You had taken a red eye, you did the entire red eye in whatever. You were wearing jeans, he wore Crocs the entire time. And we’ve always talked about that as a family, like, man, talk about not being precious. You guys didn’t get there and have your energy bar and open up your hips and warm up and wear your perfect spandex. We literally just bypassed all the spectators, went to the starting line, and raced. We’ve always thought that was so cool.

Joe De Sena: [00:24:39] You know where that comes from? Why I wouldn’t have noticed it, you guys noticed it? Thanks for that. That comes from the neighborhood and business. I don’t know, when I was cleaning swimming pools at a young age and that boss gave me his pool, there were days where employees didn’t show up and I had to get out there in a black, disgusting, after the winter covered pool and figure out how to get the water and the frogs in there by myself and it’s raining and I might have the wrong clothes. It didn’t matter. The customer didn’t care; the business didn’t care. Just get the job done, get paid, and be able to pay your bills. And so I think that’s where that came from. And plus, my dad, one day, he loved construction; loved it and loved having me and my sister around. And sheetrock might be in our hair and we’d be going into a restaurant and we’d be a mess and he’d say, “Listen, we’re humans just like everybody else. Doesn’t matter.” Maybe some people would look at us and say, “Well, that’s disrespectful to other people in the restaurant.” But it definitely taught me I don’t pay attention. By the way, I have Spartan crocs on now. I probably run 1,500 miles in these, literally, and people say, “You run in those?”

Juliet: [00:25:53] I don’t know how you do that. I mean how do you survive not wearing $250 elite running shoes?

Joe De Sena: [00:25:58] You know, when I started doing hundred milers, I had forgotten my shoes once. Well, no, here’s a better one. I haven’t told you guys this. At the Eco-Challenge, someone stole my shoes before the race. I did the entire Eco-Challenge in bike shoes. And so imagine doing 350 miles in bike shoes, skipping across rocks. And then fast forward, I lost my shoes, I ran a hundred miler and there was only a Walmart in this place in Virginia, so I bought, I don’t know, some sneakers that Walmart were selling in the middle of Virginia that were not the special ones and you just, you do it, you get it done.

Juliet: [00:26:33] I do want to ask a little bit about your approach to parenting, and then if you could also weave in, you told us a hilarious story once about hosting a summer camp for kids that I think was a bit unexpected.

Kelly: [00:26:48] And let me key that up by just saying I’ve had a lot of talks of late with adult men who are having this conversation about how do we prepare children for the world and what does that look like and do you need to put things in front of them, do you have to manufacture experience. I feel like there’s a lot of people that are realizing that maybe we don’t necessarily set our kids up for success. So that’s the framework.

Joe De Sena: [00:27:14] Yeah, so I wrote a book parenting, 10 Rules of Resilience, with a doctor because I was afraid, my wife was afraid if I did it alone, number one it wouldn’t have been as good or as a thoughtful, but number two, what the hell did I know about parenting? I needed an actual psychologist doctor next to me to help me. She’s awesome, Dr. L. So we wrote this book. But when I reflect back on it and I think I’m definitely not the perfect parent. I’ll give you an example of a mistake I’ve made which goes right to your point, which is when they were very young, I definitely had the mindset of, hey, I’ve got to throw them in the deep of it, they’ve got to go through the rapids and see the snakes just like you described. But what I would do is I would remove all the fractions to get into the rapids because we’ve got to get in the rapids. 

So an example would be skiing. We skied a lot. You guys kayaked a lot, we skied a lot. And I’ve got to get the boots out and ready the night before. Everything’s got to be organized because if we get organized, we can get in the car, we can get there efficiently, and I’ll go get the ticket, and I’ll pull everybody right up to the chairlift and we can get as many runs in as possible and then we can get whisked away and back to the house. So I removed all the friction to and from the thing. And when I reflect back on it, I’m like I had it all backwards. It wasn’t the 15 ski runs we took that day that was important and teaching; it was actually all the things I removed. It was finding your boots, getting your boots on, losing your glove, going up to the kiosk and buying your own lift ticket, skating yourself somehow, falling down the little hill to get to the chairlift. But I removed all of that friction because I wanted to get as many ski runs in as possible thinking that was what we were supposed to be doing during the day. So shame on me. When I look back, we have four children, when I look at my little one who was last in line, got the least amount of energy from my wife and I, because we were exhausted by the fourth one, she’s most capable. We could drop her in Moscow right now and within two days she’d take out Putin. I mean she is so tight. She’s so figured out. Her and Georgia could be baking cookies together right now. She’s a machine because she was under-parented.

Juliet: [00:29:29] Hey guys, we just wanted to take a little break in this podcast episode to actually tell you about one of our own products and that’s our Ready State Virtual Mobility Coach.

Kelly: [00:29:38] Yeah, the app literally is the first place you should go if you’re trying to feel better, if you’re trying to solve an old movement related problem, if you’re just trying to just not be as sore from your workout.

Juliet: [00:29:49] There is so much going on in this app. We have a mobility test that is comprehensive and designed by Kelly Starrett himself.

Kelly: [00:29:57] It’s pretty good. 

Juliet: [0:29:58] So you can figure out what your biggest limitations are and start to work on that. There are sports specific mobilizations if you want to try to lift more or run faster. There is a pain area. And we even have a ton of bonus content. You can do challenges around squat and ankle and a bunch of other specific body parts. So you can just generally get more supple and awesome.

Kelly: [0:30:19] JStar, you’re killing it. You should talk about this app more often. We started the original mobility project back in 2010 trying to help people solve problems for themselves. We think that every human being should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves and we want you to be able to engage in self-care in a really reasonable, responsible way. One of our favorite parts of it, daily mobility. You have a 10, 20, 30-minute follow along with me. If you just have a ball and a roller and think you want to feel better, move better, play along. I mean we really feel like that’s the base camp practice and you can add in what you need.

Juliet: [0:30:51] We’re really proud of this and what we’ve created here and we think you should give it a try. Head on over to and use code Pod 20 for 20 percent off your first month. And just FYI, including your two-week free trial, that’s literally six weeks for $11.99. You can’t beat that. There’s so much amazing content to help you feel better and move better for $11.99.

Kelly: [0:31:15] In the words of our podcast producer: bananas.

Juliet: [00:31:20] You know, we read this article, it was a little bit too late for us too, we read this article when are kids were like six and three, and it was- 

Kelly: [00:31:29] The kids in Peru.

Juliet: [00:31:29] Yeah, it was sort of contrasting these parenting styles. And it gave an example of kids at four years old in a tribe in Peru could go out on their own and hunt an animal and bring it back for the tribe and share it for a meal.

Kelly: [00:31:42] And cook it and clean it.

Juliet: [00:31:43] And then of course at the complete other end of the spectrum were American kids where we do everything for them and we’ve retarded them in many important ways. And then somewhere in the middle they talk about European, specifically French parents, and apparently it’s a European value to just kind of ignore your kid. They aren’t always the center of attention. They don’t do everything for them. They’re right in the middle of those two extremes. And at that point, at least one of our kids was in a car seat, I think Caroline, and then Georgia was in like a booster seat. And it had such an impact on us that from that moment forward we’re like, nope, you need to tie your own shoe and, nope, you need to buckle yourself into your car seat. And sorry, dudes, if you don’t know how to tie your shoes, you’re going to have to wear Velcro shoes, which was like no way, that would be so embarrassing for them. So we were a little late to the game on that too. I think we did too much for them when they were really little. But we’ve tried to course correct, I think.

Kelly: [00:32:38] And I will say that we did check their work when they buckled the car seat.

Juliet: [00:32:42] Yeah, I mean we checked their work. We checked their work.

Joe De Sena: [00:32:47] Jack is going, my oldest is going to go… Well, so the boys wrestle and the girls play soccer. And I had to check myself because wrestling is so much fun and then all we did is wrestle and that’s not really helping your life. Yeah, you’re getting some grit and resiliency training and you’re fit as can be, but they’re not going to the Olympics. At some point wrestling ends. And so my oldest has a tournament coming up in march that coincides with this guy Dan Pena. Anybody listening, check him out, he’s an absolute mad man. You guys would love him. He’s got this business conference going on for 25, 35-year-olds in his castle in Scotland. I happen to know him. So he said, “Yeah, yeah, send Jack.” So I’m like, “FFIO, Jack. Figure out your flights, figure out your trains, make sure there’s enough time to get from one airport to the other.” It doesn’t sound like a lot of adversity. They’re not out killing an animal in Peru.

Kelly: [00:33:45] That’s a lot of adversity. There’s a lot of traps there. 

Joe De Sena: [00:33:47] So he’s going to go figure it out and we’re going to go skip wrestling, which is hard for me. Isn’t that crazy? It’s hard for me because it’s so much fun to watch them wrestle and be able to pat yourself on the back when they do well, even though you had very little to do with it, to go man up.

Juliet: [00:34:00] Yeah, that’s really cool. I mean as you know, both our kids are water polo players. And we could not be more philosophically against sports specialization. But it is hard you realize when you’re in it as a parent and you see maybe they have a little bit of potential, it’s hard not to, especially because we’re competitive people and we love sports and we’ve fallen in love with the sport of water polo, it’s actually hard to self-correct and not become like that.

Joe De Sena: [00:34:29] How did we do, by the way? I don’t want to mention the school or the daughter, but how did we do with that school? Did it get sorted?

Juliet: [00:34:35] It’s okay. We can mention the daughter, Georgia, is in to three schools, including one of her top choices, UT Austin. And we’re still in a waiting game for the remainder of the schools.

Kelly: [00:34:47] No, we haven’t heard anything else?

Juliet: [00:34:48] No.

Kelly: [00:34:48] Next month.

Juliet: [00:34:49] Waiting. Waiting.

Kelly: [00:34:51] Which is really an interesting piece for us because it’s just validation that we were good people and parents. That’s all. We’re waiting around to find out if we passed the test. That’s what it is. And I think Georgia’s going to be fine. She’s super stoked already.

Joe De Sena: [00:35:06] Georgia’s going to be fine. She could always sell cookies, worst case, and do a great job. Those cookies are really tasty. 

Kelly: [00:35:12] The little Ukrainian grandmother who she rents from, the commercial kitchen, not the major scale kitchen she had to go to, but this little one close to us, is already trying to sell Georgia the kitchen.

Joe De Sena: [00:35:22] I love it.

Kelly: [00:35:23] She’s already like Georgia’s my out to drop this kitchen. Georgia’s like, hmm, I think I have bigger plans. 

Joe De Sena: [00:35:29] I was going to say, Dan Pena that I described in Scotland where Jack is going for his seminar, that’s his whole MO is that there’s millions of businesses around the world and folks like you and me don’t have exit strategies. So before you know it, we find ourselves at 65 or 70 years old and we’re like, what do we do with this thing? And so he’s trying to teach young people you’ve just got to knock on a thousand doors and you will find a business that you could own and then who knows, slap a few of them together and you’ve got something real. because most of us are idiots and my exit strategy is death; your exit strategy is probably death.

Juliet: [00:36:08] True fact.

Kelly: [00:36:09] It’s really important you say that because my exit strategy is to die before Juliet. That’s part of my plan. You’re going to have to run this business by yourself, woman.

Juliet: [00:36:20] Okay, so I want to hear about the summer camp. I really need to hear some stories about the summer camp or I want you to share some.

Joe De Sena: [00:36:27] So summer camp was born the year before COVID. I started saying we’ve got this Death Race thing, why don’t we have Death Camp for kids? And I know it sounds ridiculous as a name and the branding, this and that. But it’s also kind of like Dragon’s Tooth that you mentioned earlier, it’s got a little bit of sex appeal. So friends and family the first year, we had some fun, it was like a 12 hour. Second year, we had COVID. And so I was like we’ve got to do it for four weeks. We’ve got to have Death Camp for four weeks. I went a little wider with friends and family, some people I didn’t know, rallied them up, girls and boys, brought my friend from the military who’s definitely a little nuts, mountain warfare expert in the cold weather. Death Race participant, this guy. And the mission was wake them up early, make it 15 minutes earlier every day. So if you start at 6:30 in the morning, next day 6:15, day after, 6. Before you know it, we’re getting them up at midnight. And put them to bed early. To give you an idea of the workload, as soon as they wake up, they’re in ice cold water. We’ve got a spring fed pond that’s in the 40s year-round. And they’re in ice cold water right out of bed. They’re shivering.

Kelly: [00:37:36] I did that in camp in Germany. I totally see the truth of it. It’s true.

Joe De Sena: [00:37:40] There you go. Then right out of it, they’re carrying rocks up the mountain, which is getting them warm. We might throw a Murph in after breakfast, literally, every day we’re going to get Murph done. We’re going to stop and do pushups and rope climbs. We have rope climbs on the mountain, in the woods. But not just one or two. By the end of the camp, they’ll have done 300, 400 rope climbs, they’ll have hiked 50 plus miles, they’ve done thousands of burpees, thousands. Sometimes 300, 400, 500 at a clip. They’ve got Death Rays bibs on because they’re in Death Camp. And then we’ve got a specialty moment where they might learn soccer or play soccer or wrestle so that I can make sure we get the wrestling and the soccer in. There was a component we added called Fight Club for the kids that didn’t know how to wrestle, and surprisingly, the Fight Club, that hour after lunch every day became the most sought after thing we did every day. They loved Fight Club. They would just pit two kids next each other and they had to get in a fight. It wasn’t like black eyes and scratching and everything. There were rules. Buddy of mine who teaches wrestling was an Olympian would set some rules in place that weren’t too dangerous. We had a few broken bones.

Kelly: [00:38:53] No punching in the face, no kicking in the groin.

Joe De Sena: [00:38:56] There you go. So unbeknownst to me, after three or four days of this first four week long death camp, well, every night I would give the kids their phones back. For an hour I’d say they should be able to get in touch with their friends and mom and dad. But I didn’t realize what was happening. Five or six days into it, my wife’s like, “I’ve got to come up there, what’s happening, what’s going on, the whole neighborhood is questioning.” I said, “What are you talking about?” “The kids are calling neighbors and parents and everything, they need to be picked up.” “What are you talking about?” So I called a friend of mine who’s kid was with me. He said, “Yeah, we’ve been getting a text.” I said, “Well, send me the texts you’re getting,” because I don’t know any of this. I’m dealing with the kids every day. I don’t know what they’re texting their parents and friends. And my friend sends me the texts, my friend Bernie and his wife Joyce. And I’m dying because they are just like us, they’re like you and they’re like me, and they’re not taking the bait from their son. 

So their son Patrick sends a text that starts with, “Are you sure you know this guy?” Meaning me. And they’re like, “Yeah, why? I’ve known him 20 something years. What’s up?” “This is not a camp. This is prison. You need to call this guy and get me out of here. Tell him we had a family affair you forgot about. This guy is killing us. He’s torturing everybody.” And they’re like, “Sounds like you might get a six pack, sounds like a Peloton class.” “Fuck you, mom and dad. You wouldn’t make it here a day. You’re sitting on your couch. You have a nice meal in front of you.” “Oh, do you want us to call him and say it’s a little tough for you?” “Do not do that. Do you know what he’ll do to me if he finds out I texted you?”

 And I’m dying when I read these texts. So I immediately took all the phones away for good and then we went five or six days with no phones at all. This is a great experiment. And they were doing a great job. The kids were crushing it. They weren’t complaining. And I said, you know what, get them ice cream, let’s get them ice cream. They deserve a win here and there, you know? We put out some vanilla and chocolate ice cream. I’m not big on all choices or any of that shit. I put their phones out. I figured while they’ve got ice cream they can get their phones and then we’ll get back to work in the morning. They didn’t touch the ice cream. They all went right to their phones. And it was so interesting to me because it was like the phones are more addictive than sugar. It’s unbelievable. So we’ve been doing it every year. Big Boy Scout troops came out last year, loved it. I’ve got it restricted now because it’s in pretty high demand. I only do it because I want my kids surrounded by other people being tortured. And you come out strong. Kids come out strong. I mean ripped.

Kelly: [00:41:25] And they come out and what do they say about their experience afterward?

Joe De Sena: [00:41:29] Takes a few days for many of them. Again, family, friends, I’m trying to think of… Matilda, 12 years old last year, no way is she going, no way is she going – she comes. She’s there, we’re about seven or eight days in, she wants to quit. So I said, “All right, Matilda, no problem.” I said, “In order to quit, let me pull up my app. I’ve got the quitting form here. Okay, number one, name.” She gave me name. Date of birth, address. I’m faking it obviously. I said, “What’s the reason for quitting, Matilda?” She says, “I’m bleeding.” I said, “No, you’re not.” She says, “I’m bleeding inside.” I said, “Okay, bleeding inside.” I make believe I type it into the app. I said, “The quitting office is open tomorrow.” She doesn’t know I’m faking this whole thing. “The quitting office is open tomorrow, 5:15 a.m. red barn, see you there and they’ll get you all sorted.” Of course, she doesn’t wake up at 5:15, she misses it, she’s completely upset. I’m like, “Listen, quitters office is not open again until Wednesday. Today’s Sunday. You missed it.” 

So she’s rallied and organized for Wednesday and she’s going to wake up on time, and Wednesday comes and of course, she misses it. Now she’s missed two appointments with the quitter’s office and we’re five more days into this thing and she’s got to talk to her parents and I don’t want to put her on the phone with her parents because I know what’s going to happen. And somebody, one of the counselors, somebody gives her an iPad to connect without me watching, with her mom. And I happened to be coming by, and the second she connected visually with mom, she completely melts, starts crying, shoulders shaking, the whole thing. And I happen to know the mom. She’s like family for us. And I’m like, “This is not going to work.” And I disconnected the phone. I just disconnect. Matilda finishes the damn thing. Another whatever, five, six days. Gets the whole thing done and dusted and she’s coming back; she’s coming back this year.

Juliet: [00:43:29] The quitter’s office is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. Did you just think of that on the fly, in the moment?

Kelly: [00:43:25] The plan assembled itself.

Joe De Sena: [00:43:35] Isn’t that great? On the fly.  Yeah, what happened, you guys know Zach Even-Esh, he had sent me some kids. He’s the underground strength training guy, he’d sent some guys up in New Jersey, and they were tough, they were wrestlers. I’m in the barn early, I do my workout, I’m on my computer. And one of the kids showed up really early, like 5:30. And I’m watching him walk across the field. Everybody else is in the cold water, they’re carrying rocks. I’m like, why is this kid coming over to the barn. And he comes over and I get the sense he probably wants to quit. I open the sliding glass door and I say, “Yeah, can I help you?” And he said, “Yeah.” I said, “Office isn’t open, I’ll see you in two hours,” and I closed the door on him. And he went back out and he got through another two days. That’s how that quitter’s office came to be.

Juliet: [00:44:21] It’s amazing. 

Kelly: [00:44:22] There’s something there that kids start to appreciate and understand. They’re belonging; they’re suffering together. But how can we as parents do a better job of not having to wait until Death Camp to send our kids away because the phone thing, as you say, it’s very interesting. One of the things that we realized is we took our kids on these big desert wilderness rivers, there’s no cellphone at all. So we were just like, well, you can have your phone, but it just doesn’t work. And that ended up being a real aha moment for us because at the end, our kids were like, okay, whatever. 

We put Caroline in a two week Outward Bound trip this summer, seven days on the big river, seven days in the mountain, and she really comes back desensitized from all that stuff. And so we just had to create what we called a restrained environment. There’s no choice; there is no phone. You know what I mean? It’s almost you have to do that, just say there is no cell phone service up here, sorry, it doesn’t work. How can parents, do you think, titrate up their kids, or did you, as humans we have to go into that cold water ourselves every single time. You have to have a Death Camp experience no matter who you are and how well prepared you are. 

Joe De Sena: [00:36] A couple things: One is, I didn’t know this, but one year I had Dr. Mark, can’t think of his last name, neurosurgeon, talk to the kids. And I didn’t now what I’m about to tell you was going to come out over the Zoom call we did. He said, “You have to finish this.” And I said, “Why, Dr. Mark?” And he said, “Under the microscope when I’m looking at brains, I’m a neurosurgeon, we can see tracks that are laid by doing hard things and finishing them. We also see gaps when you don’t finish the hard thing. And the younger you are and the harder things you do at those ages, the more tracks you’ll have, which will help you finish hard things later in life.” 

And so as a parent listening, we have to do it, right? If you know the biology of your child is changing by having them do hard things, we have to do it. And so the question is how. I think you’ve got to model it, number one. You can’t be sitting on the couch smoking cigarettes every day and then expecting the kids to go out, right? And then two, you’ve got to create those environments like you said, actual environments out in the woods, whatever it may be, New York City, take your own plane, whatever, pay for your own Lyft ticket, whatever you can afford or do in your life that gets them out of their comfort zone. But then three, you’ve got to create an environment where there’s other kids around them that are doing similar things. The ancient Spartans, when I talked to the professors at Cambridge, they realized the society would never have worked, that hardcore society that required 13 years straight of training from seven years old to 20 years old and then the way they lived, so minimalist, would never have worked if everybody wasn’t bought in. If you live above a gym and everybody in your building goes to the gym, you’re probably getting sucked in and going to the gym.

Kelly: [00:47:22] That’s what we do.

Joe De Sena: [00:47:22] If you live above a bar and everybody’s going to the bar, you’re probably getting sucked in to the bar every day. So you’ve got to surround yourself and it’s fictional from what I’m describing. I create this craziness in my life in the Death Camp. But I don’t know, we’ll find out. We’ll find out if it worked.

Kelly: [00:47:38] That’s right.

Juliet: [00:47:38] That’s what people always say. They ask us parenting questions and we’re like, “Hey, call us back when our kids are 25 and 30 and maybe we can report live whether anything we did was successful. We’re deep in the experiment right now.” Okay, so you mentioned Spartan. We haven’t talked about it at all. Maybe you could just give our listeners a quick backstory of how did you go from running a pool business to running the Spartan Race and what’s going on?

Joe De Sena: [00:48:04] You know, when I was young, my mom was looking for a different way of life. We grew up in that Good Fellas neighborhood and she found an Indian guru to help who had introduced her to this idea of meditating for long periods of time, fasting for long periods of time, cold showers way before it was cool. One of the things was running and this guy put on a 3,100 mile foot race around a one mile loop in Queens, New York that still exists today. 

So I had introductions to long, arduous, ridiculous, physical, mental challenges at a young age. Didn’t want any part of it, I just wanted to make money. Figured out a way to sell the pool business, make it to Wall Street, start making some money. It’s really what I wanted. And quickly found life was not what I thought it was. I was getting a little overweight. I didn’t feel as optimal. Money, money, money could start to wear on you. And so I started seeing those things that my mother was preaching in those earlier years. I started doing hot yoga, I started doing those crazy races all over the world and I felt so alive. I would suck people into doing them with me and I started to build relationships that were incredible. I got to meet myself and pressure test myself and start to build what felt like integrity. 

And I eventually sold that business on Wall Street that I built, met my wife, moved to Vermont, bought a farm, and then was quickly bored and thought I should put on races, I should put on something that changes people’s lives because I love being out in the woods, I love being in the mountains, I love carrying heavy shit and pieces of plywood, bags of cement. I don’t know, I just love it. And so for 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, I would lie to people to come up to the farm in Vermont. I would tell them, “Oh, we’re going to have a barbecue weekend,” because if I told them that we were going to carry heavy things up the mountain or run 20 miles, they didn’t want to come. So I would lie and then I’d wake them up Saturday morning at 5 a.m. They’d be like, “Why are we getting up at 5 a.m. for barbecue?” I said, “Well, we’ve got to carry the barbecue to the top of the mountain.” 

They didn’t know they were the ones being barbecued. And so I would torture people over those 10 years. And it wasn’t a viable business. I just couldn’t get people to do it. In 2010, I changed the format from anything goes, I changed it to military inspired obstacle race, barb wire crawl, climb ropes, which sounded very silly to me upon first being whispered to by a friend of mine who said, “You know, you should put on a military…” that sounds silly. But I did it and 700 people showed up, which was more people than I had the entire decade before, and then 2,000. And then before you know it, we added a race in Slovakia and Canada and UK. I don’t know, by 2019 we were in 45 countries, 1 million plus participants every year. 

And then we were lucky enough to buy out our competitor, Tough Mudder. We added trail running and all these other things. And it became an incredibly fulfilling and amazing business. But then COVID hit, which was a disaster, other than Death Camp being born. Shut down in 45 countries. Absolute disaster. I’m still feeling the pain from it. And I’m digging my way back. We’re actually seeing really good signs. We’re inversely correlated to the economy, so the worse the economy does the better we do. We pray for stock market crashes. When things are very jubilant and the government’s sending you money and you don’t have to go to work, they’re less likely to have to crawl under barbed wire and do hard shit. When times are tough, maybe rather than going to splurge on an expensive vacation and go to Disneyland, they consider doing stuff that we offer.

Juliet: [00:51:34] Yeah, and I just have to give you some props. We’ve told you this before, but Kelly and I are not just friends with you but we’re actually fans of the Spartan Race. We’ve done a bunch ourselves, we’ve done them with our kids, and I think what maybe people don’t realize until they’ve done one is that to me anyway, it’s often more about the community and the overall experience than the torturing your body part. At least that’s been our experience. We’ve never done these competitively; we’re always just in with the general population. And every time we’ve done it, we meet people, people that we’re still connected with, the amount of encouragement and support and strangers we’ve received. Kelly and I always talk about how we were hiking all the way from Squaw Mount, Palisades to the very tippy top to go up to where the obstacles were and we were hiking up with a 300 pound woman wearing a unicorn costume, just chatting away. And here we were out in the middle of nowhere, and it was all body types, all fitness levels, everybody was so welcoming and so encouraging of everybody else. And to me, that’s what’s so special. Just even the way the races are started, it’s just an experience to be had. And the community piece is what’s hard to describe until you’ve done one yourself.

Joe De Sena: [00:52:59] No, it’s amazing. It is an amazing community. I’ve got to pinch myself every time I go out there. I remember those times seeing you and your husband out there with me in Tahoe or whatever the event may have been and those are amazing, honest moments as Kelly described, so if you’re out there, and you just don’t understand it, and you’re like why would I possibly get dirty, why would I possibly crawl under barbed wire, it doesn’t make any sense, we’ve had a tagline for decades, which is, “You’ll know at the finish line.” And so I would challenge you to reach out to Kelly and Juliet and it’s on me whether you want to do a Tough Mudder, a Spartan, a DEKA Trail, it doesn’t matter, it’s on me. Just ask them for a race entry. Why would I possibly do that? Why would I give you a free entry? It’s the gateway drug. You’re going to become addicted. You’ll probably buy a hat and a T-shirt and before you know it I bump into you five years from now and you’re like, “Hey, I was that guy, that girl that heard the podcast, I’ve gone 65 races now and I hear it every day, everywhere.” There was a guy in our office, came in, runs Microsoft’s virtual reality business and the last person you’d expect, he’s literally done almost 100 Spartan races. I’m on a plane, I bump into the CMO of Home Depot. Their family’s done 40 Spartan Races. It’s unbelievable. I’m like we use orange buckets from Home Depot in our races. Could you please sponsor them? I’m tired of buying buckets. 

Kelly: [00:54:29] We just started watching this really crazy Korean show called Physical: 100 where they took-

Joe De Sena: [00:54:34] Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kelly: [00:54:36] And it’s so interesting, it’s physique driven, it’s very strange, but it’s awesome. But everyone walks in and they’re all eyeballing each other in the first episode. They’re all giving each other the stink eye, who’s this athlete and look how jacked they are, and then they have to do this simple test, just hang from a pullup rig, for however long, whoever the longest. And what’s interesting is immediately the whole dynamic changes, where people are like, “You did a really good job. I didn’t know you could do that.” And people are hugging each other. They’re like, “That was great. Wow, that was so hard.” 

And all of these extreme athletes, they’re Olympians, they’re superstars, MMA fighters, once they’ve done the thing together, they are different. And I heard someone say who was talking on TV, “The first episode was kind of dumb, the first challenge.” I’m like, no, no, no, you don’t understand what they did with that. By having a common, shared suffering experience, they suddenly were a family and there was risk. And when they had to put someone out of the race and fight, that was it. I hate organized fun. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. Oh, you’re going to give me an experience now, okay. And every single time I go to the Spartan Race, I’m like I am having an experience, I’m not being  ministered to, it’s honest, and I always come out transformed, and when I see someone I’m like you did it, we did it, I did it. And I think we just need a lot more of that.

Juliet: [00:55:55] Well, I think the other thing I’ll say too, just to anyone listening to this, is just how accessible it is. I mean you don’t need to be a runner, you can hike the whole thing. If you can’t do any of the obstacles, you can do burpees. It’s for everyone. And you don’t have to be an athlete, you don’t have to know how to climb a rope. Those are all things you can learn if you decide you want to, but it really is very accessible. I mean you have to be able to move your body through space but there’s so many options and people are there to help and support and it really is for anyone who just wants to go have a cool experience.

Kelly: [00:56:27] I’m glad you’re still around. I don’t know if you’re going to die or not in this post COVID dig out. But man, we are very, very thrilled to be friends with you, that our families are friends, and that you keep putting this out for people to trip on.

Joe De Sena: [00:56:43] I gotta pinch myself that I’m friends with you guys. My son got hurt, you shipped over a whole bunch of equipment at a huge expense. I couldn’t even believe it. And you said, “Hey Joe, you help a lot of people, we want to help you.” And I can’t think of any instances in my life where that happened, so you guys are family. And if things really get tough, I know I can eat cookies at your house and probably sleep over. 

Juliet: [00:57:05] Anytime.

Joe De Sena: [00:57:06] You guys are awesome.

Kelly: [00:57:07] Thank you, my friend.

Juliet: [00:57:07] Thanks, Joe.


Kelly: [00:57:14] Thank you for listening to The Ready State Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, check out all our episodes here or at And be sure to subscribe or leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [00:57:25] Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @thereadystate.

Kelly: [00:57:30] Until next time, cheers everyone. 


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