As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angelo Liloc.
Angelo is the Founder and CEO of Mod3rn Fitness™, he’s the creator of the Life Ensured™ Method, and he’s also the host of The Just FFIT Podcast. He and his wife currently live in Chicago, Illinois but before that, they were living in the Bay Area located in Northern California where Angelo spent the early stages of his career as a Police Officer.
Angelo’s love for fitness, nutrition, and peak performance lead him to a career in leadership and mindset coaching where he was able to speak and work with some of the most remarkable people all around the world.
Today, he utilizes his life experiences as well as the lessons learned throughout his law enforcement career, to help clients reach peak performance through mental wellness and fitness education. He and his team at Mod3rn Fitness™ are committed to changing the way we view and approach mental wellness.
His fun, interactive, personal, and cutting edge approach to how they’re improving the mental wellness of leaders around this great nation is definitely an exciting journey to follow!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Iknow it’s kind of cliché to say, but I genuinely enjoy helping other people. All of my jobs and careers from the day I started working in high school, have always been around social interactions and making connections with others. So that’s what I always tried to.
My family comes from a military/ law enforcement background so growing up I loved listening to the “big boys” share their war stories around the dinner table. I would sit there for hours just listening and imagining the stories play out in my head. I wanted that. I wanted to share my own cool stories and have everyone listen and nod their heads in acknowledgement that I too…was a bad ass!
After high school, I ended up hurting my knee pretty bad and it disqualified me from joining the military. So that was obviously out of the picture. Fast forward a little bit, I ended up moving to California and became a Police Officer there. Again, I end up hurting my knee during a training exercise which eventually lead to the end of my career. At this point in my life I’m 25 years old, no college degree, two surgically repaired knees, minimal life experience, and a badly hurt ego like non other. This lead to some of the darkest times in my life. I lost the identity I’ve built my whole world around, and I couldn’t do the only thing I ever imagined being qualified to do for the rest of my life.
Depression, anxiety, confusion, and hopelessness was part of my new daily routine. I lost everything. Everything except for my life, and my wife, Carlene.
Over time, I started picking up the pieces to begin the ‘rebuilding’ process. I narrowed it down to Four Core Truths that I live and operate by today. Faith, family, fitness, and freedom; which is more commonly known now, as popularized by my business, as #iamteamFFIT.
Through those four pillars, I was able to get out of that darkness and build towards the life my family and loved ones deserve.
From there, I created an amazing team and we began the journey to improve the way things are done in healthcare, education, and corporate wellness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Since leading this movement, I’ve transitioned from working IN the business versus working ON the business. My amazing team has allowed me to focus more on the visionary side of the business rather than the day to day details. I’ve been so used to putting things together and making sure it all works out on my own, that it was a difficult transition for me to let others step up into more important leadership roles.
Initially I thought that I was a pretty good leader, but after the transition, I realized that there was so much more to leadership. I was used to being the integrator, which is the person that takes action and gets it all done, within the company. I made the plans and I carried them through till the end.
When Our Chief Operating Officer, Renata, joined the team I’ll admit that she was better than me at getting things nicely structured and organized. She eventually took over many roles and responsibilities that I was previously in charge of, and she completed it faster and more efficiently. Because I began trusting her more, she allowed me to find my true visionary nature and lead the company the way we needed.
Two important key points in this story: #1 Surround yourself with people who force you to level up and raise your standards. #2 Learn to lead with your heart, and not always your head. If I had let my ego get the best of me, I know we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are today. I had to admit that it wasn’t my strength, and I had to trust Renata’s judgement and experience to push us forward. In the end, it all worked out better than I could have ever imagined. Our team doubled in size, and we’re tackling bigger issues with more efficiency and clarity.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Definitely! Exciting, scary, intimidating, exhilarating, and everything else in between! But yes, short answer…we’re changing industries. We’re changing the way we view and handle mental health and wellness. It’s not just a healthcare thing either, it’s a leadership and education problem as well. Here’s the thing, now more than ever people are having more mental wellness problems and it’s just growing from here. Those same people show up to work, every single day, five days a week, and feed into the culture of that work environment.
You know that saying, something along the lines of, “It just takes one bad apple to ruin it for the rest of the bunch”? Well imagine what multiple ‘bad apples’ would do for that bunch!
And that’s exactly the problem, people are getting on medications that shouldn’t be taking those medications. So what’s the big deal? Ideally, people would take one medication to solve one problem right? Unfortunately this isn’t the case. People take medications that end up creating a secondary issue that’s going to require another set of meds to counteract those symptoms as well. And I’m not even going to mention the changes that occur within our bodies whenever we take medications.
Before us, there really wasn’t any other option. At least, nothing many people were aware of. What we’re putting together, will change industries. We want to educate people on the importance of mental wellness, fitness, nutrition, and peak performance. Our holistic approach gives people an option before they have to move onto the next level and take prescribed medicine.
We are going to be a safe, sustainable, and simple option.
Ok, let’s jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
It’s definitely a culture issue. People aren’t really tapping into their basic human needs at work and instead of finding that fulfillment and meaning, its become more of just a day to day thing to them. We all want to be part of a community, to feel wanted, to belong, and we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. If people aren’t able to somehow find that link to what they do on a daily basis to what they really care about then that’s a big reason why so many people are unhappy with their jobs.
This number is so high because nothings being done to solve it. There hasn’t been enough light and focus on the topic and not many people are speaking up. Unfortunately, society has embraced the “I’ll wait for someone else to solve it” or the “It’s not my problem” mentality. So instead of taking responsibility, people just brush it off and focus on themselves.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
There are case studies and research articles done by major companies which basically shows the actual dollar amount we lose each year because of an unhappy workforce. McKinsey and Company specifically found that each year, we lose around One Trillion Dollars due to productivity issues. One-TRILLION-Dollars! I mean, how do quantify something like that right? Knowing those figures, as a business owner I’d be very worried. And just to rub salt on an already massive wound, Mental Health America has data supporting an increase in worsening mental health conditions in both the youth and adult populations. Which basically means that the people currently within our workforce are having problems as well as the people that are just getting ready to enter the workforce. It’s definitely something to be concerned about because this all plays into our family’s future. We have to look at the bigger picture and try to keep things in perspective.
Unhappy workforces lead to poor performance and culture. Poor performance and culture is a reflection of poor leadership. Being a leader means you have influence over other people’s lives in some way, shape, or form. Poor leadership just gets multiplied over and over again, and not just in the business setting. That poor performance and negative attitude will eventually leak into our personal lives, our homes, our relationships, and everything else in our lives.
By no means am I trying to be over dramatic or anything like that because I know that this is just how the world works. Imagine how difficult it can be to have a hard day at work and NOT bring any of that back home. We all try to keep things nice and separate to maintain those boundaries within our personal and work lives, but the truth is that it’s not about balance. It’s more of a blend approach. One part of your life will surely affect another in some intentional and/or unintentional way.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
#1: Build connections with the people in your business. Build real and genuine relationships with the leaders following you. I know this may not be practical especially if you’re running a Fortune 500 company and have hundreds and thousands of employees, but it all starts from the top. Just like how poor performance is an indication of poor leadership, a great leader can influence change for the better.
#2: Create core values. At Mod3rn Fitness™, we hire and fire based on our core values. It’s the foundation we’ve built everything upon and every single person in our organization knows, understands, and lives up to those core values. It creates consistency within our culture and keeps everyone performing at a higher level.
#3: Trust your leaders. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I’m so used to having things under my control that even just the thought of letting someone have control, gets my heart rate going! But this ‘me me me’ mentality is bad for company culture. Even if I don’t always agree with something my leaders pitch, as long as it’s not going to be a huge risk to the brand, I’ll more than likely defer to their idea. It helps to show that you trust your people and value their opinions.
#4: Lead by example. Plain and simple, don’t ask anything from anyone that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. If you demand your team to perform each and every day, then you better be showing them exactly how you want it done. And the best way is to lead by example.
#5: Be adaptable. As a leader, we thrive on structured days, meetings, and daily agendas. Sometimes, we have to shake things up to boost morale. We’re not robots. You may have a busy schedule today, but if you see another team member in need don’t hesitate to spend some quality time just to check in and see how they’re doing. As long as you’re not putting the company in any major risks, it’s okay to be human and just have a normal conversation.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
This is a great question. I believe that focusing on leaders, and more specifically the mental wellness of those leaders would have a positive impact on today’s work culture. It’s one thing to work on company culture, but the leaders are the ones that keep everyone accountable. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to leading other people.
There’s so many different factors we need to take account of if we hope to be an effective and influential leader. I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, “There are leaders and there are managers..” We need to be focusing on finding and growing leaders, not managers. People who truly have a heart to serve others and are willing to check their egos for the betterment of the company. Those type of quality folks are the ones that will proactively lead the change to improve our workforce.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
During my recovery, I would go to the gym and modify as many workouts and movements as I can to help put my body back together. Usually, I would listen to music during my workouts but one day, for some reason, I wanted something different. So started listening to podcasts and the first one I listened to was from Andy Frisella. He’s the founder and CEO of 1st Phorm and also the Co-Founder of the Arete Syndicate.
Andy had this podcast called, “The MFCEO Project”. And yes, it stands for the Mother F****** CEO project. It’s personal development, leadership, branding, business, and overall lifestyle type of podcast that eventually played a major role in how I run my business today.
The first episode I ever listened to, and I’ll never forget it, was Episode #107 “Win The Day.” That episode was exactly what I needed to hear. It was just straight up facts and truth. It made me confront the issues around me in the most realest way possible. It’s one of the “checkpoints” in my life that I look back to when I think about everything I’ve endured to get here today.
After that, I knew that I wanted to be in Andy’s circle of friends and vice versa. I didn’t know how, but I knew I just had to get into closer proximity to him. Those are the type of folks that you want speaking into your life. Fast forward two years, Andy Frisalla and Ed Mylett created what is known all over social media as the Arete Syndicate. A movement filled with hand-selected, high performing individuals, who genuinely want to spread goodness into the world.
I was like, “That’s exactly what I’m looking for! I need to get into that!” By this time, I found Ed Mylett through one of The MFCEO Project podcast episodes and I knew he was someone I definitely wanted to be around as well.
Fast forward, today I get call Andy Frisella and Ed Mylett my mentors. What started with a simple podcast episode, has lead to me growing my business, increasing my influence, and connecting with some of the most remarkable, genuine, and humble people in the world.
And the best part is that this is just the beginning.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Leading by example and sharing my truth is the best way to influence others and ignite change. There’s so much crap we see on social media that people start to actually believe that what they see is real life. What they don’t realize is that social media is a highlight reel. We only see what others allow us to see. And for the most part, we only get to see the good stuff. We only see the perfect light, the perfect angle, and paired up with the perfect caption to inspire and motivate.
That’s not how life is. So as uncomfortable as it can get for me, especially when I first started with this approach, I share my truth because it’s MY TRUTH. I don’t post in hopes to gain more followers or likes, I post and share because I want to influence that one person who may be going through something similar. That one person who understands what I’m saying from experience. Those are the people I hope to reach.
My life is not perfect whatsoever, and I’m not afraid to share that. But I still share it because this is REAL. The wins, losses, pains, and success, are all REAL.
Like we tell our clients, “We’re your friend who’s going to tell you what you NEED to hear, rather than what you want to hear.”
So, how do you influence someone to bring goodness into the world?
Be yourself. Share your truth.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite quotes, and I believe it’s from an ancient African Proverb, but goes like this, “If you want to get there fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
At the beginning of 2019, I wrote down and saved it on my wallpaper to constantly remind me the importance of having a team. I know how much I can do when it’s just me, but imagine how much we could do in collaboration.
This resonates with our last, but not least, core value in business. Have a “Mission over man” mentality. Realize that no one person, leader, group, or community, is more important than the overall dream or goal.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This whole movement we’ve created with Mod3rn Fitness™ and #iamteamFFIT, it’s built to solve the issues we find in health and wellness and in the educational system. If you really think about, at the deepest end of it all, what we’re doing is helping people love themselves again.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t give, what you don’t have. So, how do we spread positivity and influence great change if we don’t have that peace, joy, and love within ourselves. How do we inspire others, if we ourselves aren’t inspired at all?
As much as this movement is for a much greater purpose, way beyond my understanding, it’s still built around and at the individual level. We build up ourselves so we can give more. We make ourselves better, so we can use that knowledge and experience to help and bless others along the way.
It’s about giving back to others. And it’s about realizing that at the end of the day, even when you feel like all is lost, you’ll always have HOPE.