“Surround yourself with positivity”, Robert B. Foster and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Surround yourself with positivity. Read books or listen to audiobooks about personal development. Watch videos from people that have the success that you desire. Distance yourself from negative people and toxic situations. As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of […]

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Surround yourself with positivity. Read books or listen to audiobooks about personal development. Watch videos from people that have the success that you desire. Distance yourself from negative people and toxic situations.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewingRobert B. Foster

Robert B. Foster has impacted countless lives with his story of going from a horrific knee injury at 34 and being told he would never run or jump again, to becoming a multiple time, and current, USATF Master’s Track and Field Champion, Obstacle Course Competitor, Transplant Games 6x Gold Medalist, to now speaking to thousands of people worldwide sharing his story of triumph against the odds. Over the last 11 years, he has used his voice to speak in schools, businesses, and organizations on subjects like finding purpose, overcoming the fear of failure, the art of perseverance, and social/emotional learning in schools. Just a few years ago, Robert was laying in the hospital very unsure of his future, and since, he has created a multiple six figure business and his influence has spread around the world. We look forward to bringing his passion to your readers to inspire people to never give up on their dreams.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I am the youngest of 7 (4 sisters and 2 brothers) and we were all athletes. So the level of competition in our household was intense, lol. I always someone’s little brother and it drove me insane but it raised my inner drive and competitive spirit. To finally hear someone call me by my name was music to my ears! I was finally out of the shadows.

I use that same drive today to succeed at what ever I set out to do and now I help others overcome the things that are holding them back. I help them turn their mess into a message to inspire others so they can take control of their lives and get on the path to financial freedom.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I knew coming out of High School that I wanted to manage some type of fitness facility, I believe said Bally’s back then. My dad, who was an engineer, saw the computer boom happening in the early 90’s and wanted me to study computer engineering. He definitely wasn’t wrong but that wasn’t the field for me. I didn’t touch my soul so I dropped out of college. I began managing restaurants and little did I know I was learning the skills necessary to have my own business down the road. That wasn’t the game plan but the universe was preparing me anyways!

Restaurant management demands long hours, nights, and weekends. As I began having children I was realizing how many things I was missing because I was working. To supplement, I began training people in my spare bedroom in my old house because I needed some fun in my life. At the time I had no vision of it replacing my management career. I lost my management job in Feb of ’09 and that opened the door to me pursuing fitness full time. My parents were concerned as I had five young kids and no guaranteed income but they never wavered in their support of my dream. The best moment was seeing them with tears of joy as we cut the ribbon at the grand opening of our standalone location. Priceless!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I have a 2 part answer…When I first started, I knew nothing about marketing and inner workings of business. One of my clients, Frank Ricci, believed in what I was doing so much that he gave me so much guidance on business and he helped me financially get equipment that I needed. He literally helped me stay afloat while I was learning how to navigate this new industry.

On the personal development side, I won a scholarship to Fitness Business Summit in Costa Mesa, CA. That event opened my eyes to what is possible in the fitness industry. It completely changed how I viewed my vision and how to better serve my clients.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success? To not wait for perfection! Perfection is the enemy of the good. Know what you serve, know your target audience, know what their pain points are, have your solution dialed in, and take massive action serving their needs. Too many people are worried about building the perfect studio, having the perfect website, fancy signage, then they open with no clients/customers. That’s a recipe for disaster. Know who you want to serve, what their biggest need is, and why you are the best to solve it. For example, I target audience is busy moms, their biggest need is to find their confidence again, so I designed my fitness program to solve that problem.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Man Up by Bedros Keulian, the man that gave me the scholarship that I mentioned earlier. I have a lot of ideas that can have global impact but I was always hesitant to launch out of fear of rejection. I didn’t believe that I belonged in that space and reading that book was just the slap in the face that I needed.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

The catchphrase for my gym: Some wish for it…we work for it. When we were coming up with it, one of my clients sent me a list of quotes and that was #1 on the list and I didn’t look beyond it. It perfectly summed up how my training style would be defined. I have a large mural of it on the wall in the center of the gym with power words

(Dedication, Power, etc) written within it. I use it in my motivational speeches to help people overcome what ever they are dealing with in life.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have several! One is called “break the cycle” which helps low income families pivot into a different direction to earn generational wealth to break the cycle of poverty. I am about to launch a program that will help fitness professionals turn their experience into cash! An astounding number of gyms have closed due to Covid restrictions and this help them take back their power and keep an amazing stream of income alive that no lockdown can ever take away from them.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Your habits shape who you become. Me personally, I have never been the most organized person, I have to make conscious efforts each day to keep my schedule in line. I’ve forgotten appointments/meetings and that is a recipe for disaster if your clients can’t count on you to show up. I use many different forms of scheduling software and post it notes as well as my phone to make sure I keep up with my obligations. It was tough in the beginning as I’m a very spontaneous person but with a daily focus I became much better at it!

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

The first habit that I adopted back in my teens is to not let outside forces control my work ethic. It may not seem like a habit but if you constantly let other people or circumstances decide how hard you work then life will always be an uphill battle. I remember I was a line cook at a breakfast restaurant, it was my second job for some vacation money, lol. I was scraping pancake mix off of the wall that looked like it’d been there all week (I only worked 2 days per week)! One of the other cooks came up to me and said “Hey man, stop doing all this stuff or they are going to expect the rest of us to do it too!

Another was suggested by one of my mentors, Bedros, to disable snooze on my alarm. This way you are forced to wake right up and don’t waste precious time by staying in bed. Another mentor suggested making a to do list and from that list make a TODAY list of items that must be done that day and the day doesn’t end until that list complete.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits?

Conversely, how can one stop bad habits? In order to change your habits you must be fed up with your current state and have a crystal clear vision of what you are working towards. That vision will drive your actions and over time will change your habits. As a result, the bad decisions that drive bad habits will get less and less.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

To create good wellness habits, as stated above, you have to be crystal clear on what you’re working towards (lowering blood pressure, reduce body pain, etc) and be fed up with your current circumstance. When I was 26 years old, my ex ran out on my infant son and I when he was just 13 months old. Working full time and now raising my son alone I let the excuses get the best of me and I put on some serious pounds! I had my moment of clarity one day when I stepped out of the shower and saw my reflection in the mirror. I was an all American athlete and I did not like when the mirror showed me what I had become. I made a decision at that very moment that something had to change. I got dressed, got rid of all the junk food in my apartment, joined gold’s gym because they offered babysitting, and bought a jogging stroller. I was 228 pounds and in 5 months I was down to 180! I vowed to never weigh over 200 pounds again and now at 46 I can proudly say that I’ve kept that promise.

For performance, it takes the same focus as above in having clarity on what you want to accomplish. Our brain is the computer for the body. What we program it to do, our body responds. Being an organ donor I am able to compete in the US transplant games, an Olympic style competition for living donors, transplant recipients, and deceased donor families. I wanted to show that you can be a living organ donor and still compete at a high level. I trained very hard and closely monitored my nutrition intake and electrolyte balance to be in the best possible shape leading up to the games. The main reason is to raise awareness and inspire others to save lives through organ donation. I have won 6 gold medals, 1 silver, 1 bronze, and I hold the 100m dash world record (40–44 age group)

Focus comes with clarity of vision. Knowing exactly what you want, why you want it, and understanding what it will take to achieve it. See it, feel it, get it. On days when motivation may be lacking it’s best to close your eyes and get the vision again…see it, feel it, get it 🙂

Can you explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Write out in detail what you are working on, who it will benefit, and how it will enhance your life. Publicly share your vision to hold yourself accountable get a mentor or coach to help you get started working on the RIGHT things to move yourself forward

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

1) Own the morning — wake right up when the alarm goes off. Get your workout in and eat a nutrient dense breakfast to keep you focused all day.

2) Create your to do/today list and cross off as much as you can, as early as you can. Anything left over from the day before automatically goes on the today list and be detailed (car needs gas, child has piano lessons, building inspector coming at 2pm, etc)

3) Get plenty of sleep! shut off the tv, turn off electronics, circle anything not completed from your list, and get a solid night’s sleep.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Meditation, yoga, massage therapy or something like that to induce relaxation and enhance clarity. Getting a coach to help you with the things you may struggle with, don’t try to take on too much at once. Doing that will cause overwhelm and frustration

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

1) Clarity of vision — as stated above see it, feel it, get it. Most people struggle with focus because they are not crystal clear on what it is they want.

2) Assess your support system — The people you surround yourself with can have a huge impact on you staying focused or not. Being around negative people will be detrimental to your forward progress but being around positive and supportive people will help/inspire you to keep charging forward!

3) Take massive action daily — Nothing can defeat lack of focus quite like taking action. When too much time is spent thinking it leaves the opportunity for doubt to creep it’s way in. Taking specific action will keep your eyes on the prize.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Surround yourself with positivity. Read books or listen to audiobooks about personal development. Watch videos from people that have the success that you desire. Distance yourself from negative people and toxic situations.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I have a 7 step process that I use with my fitness clients that I tweaked to help anyone in any industry:

1) Pain assessment — A brutally honest account of your current circumstance. What you want to change, who will benefit, why is it important to you, what are you willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

2) Eliminate all excuses — We all have things in life that we deal with (kids, work, time, money, etc) but we all also have 24 hours to get stuff done. Write out everything that got in your way in the past and it’s up to you to not let those things get in the way this time.

3) Casting the vision — This is where you take the feedback from the pain assessment and you create the future that you want for your business and your family.

4) Setting crystal clear goals — Most people try to set goals without the vision and that is a recipe for disaster. After step 3, you can now create a specific action plan to make that vision come to life.

5) Assess your support system — With the first 4 complete you now have your vision and action plan, you’ve eliminated all excuses (I know things arise), now you have to surround yourself with other lions! Who is in your corner? Do they have your best interest at heart? Are they supporting you in making your vision come to life? If not, you have to decide what role they will play while you are on your journey.

6) Creating your success plan — This is HOW you will carry out your action plan. Owning the morning, time blocking, follow up, and delegation.

7) The art of resilience — Never quit, never give up, keep going, you can do this, ask for help when needed, just keep going. Grind, adjust, grind, repeat until your vision comes to fruition. Getting my fitness business up and running took a lot of moving locations, losing clients causing me to start over, getting business partners, parting ways with business partners, moving locations again, and several times I almost quit. I went back to the pain assessment and started the process again and now I have the gym, I’m a speaker, writer, business/life coach. All from adhering to this 7 step process.

This process will keep you in that state of flow because you will be operating within your passion 🙂

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I believe I am already on that path! I started a podcast this year called Shut up and grind with Robert B. Foster. Only 17 episodes in and it has been heard in 11 countries already! The show focuses on helping people with relationships, earning additional streams of income, healing from past hurt, businesses to get more revenue, and overall personal development. I’ve already had to add a 2nd day and I’m booked with guests through February! I also have a program to help inner city teens called Break the cycle as many struggle with poverty, father absence, drugs/alcohol, and this program will help them start a new reality that they can be proud of for generations to come.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Michael Jordan!! I would love the opportunity to meet him. He has been an inspiration to me since I was a kid and now he is a brilliant business man. He has wisdom that can help me inspire even more people in this world!

How can our readers further follow your work online?


Podcast: https://anchor.fm/shutupandgrind

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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