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Tips From The Top: One On One With Josh York

I spoke to Josh York, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ, about his journey and best advice

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Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though: I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Josh: Every Thursday night, I pull up in the parking lot of a local pizza place and get a large pie, a dozen donuts and an ice-cold Arizona iced tea. It’s my weekly reward and it’s the most amazing and relaxing experience. It makes me happy. My diet is 80% really good, but I enjoy that other 20%. I do and have always done everything over the top. I’m an obsessive guy so I take everything to the extreme. I’ve been doing that Thursday night routine for years. I also work out intensely, so I earn the opportunity. I will do things that other people won’t do, and I can do things others can’t—so this feast ritual is one way to calm my mind and keep me churning.

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Josh: I’ve always loved fitness. My whole life is about fitness and I loved training. In today’s world, 85% of people drive to work committing spiritual suicide. They are dreading going into a job that they hate, but they keep repeating that day after day. If you’re one of those people, you are broken.

I was about to graduate college and I was training people at the time. I was very successful but I’m not a short-term player; I’m a long term player—I think in terms of the marathon, not the sprint. I was making very good money at the time but knew I couldn’t keep doing that grind into my 50s. I started working for a boss at a different company while still training, but I was miserable in that job.

One day, a client I was training mentioned, “I wish you could come to my house, but I don’t have the equipment.” That was the lightbulb moment, one of those, “Why didn’t I think of this before?”-type realizations. I came up with the idea to bring the workout to you. We live in an Amazon world now but things were starting to trend toward convenience and mobile businesses even then. I saw that wave coming and knew how valuable convenience would be in all industries. So, I started thinking about how to fill that niche in the fitness market and put my plan into action.

As I built GYMGUYZ, it took a lot of failing in order to ultimately succeed. I have a friend that uses the term WTF—it’s “willing to fail”. It’s a spot-on acronym. That’s how you learn. When I got into franchising, the first thing I did was research the biggest players in the game. I went hunting. I literally became the driest sponge I could be so that I could soak up as much as possible. I’ve been mentored and helped by so many big names in the industry. I continuously surround myself by people who have done it already.

Cut to today, and GYMGUYZ is the fastest growing fitness brand in the world. We bootstrapped at the beginning and we still bootstrap to this day. It’s important to keep that motivation and that hustle.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Josh: Leaders create leaders. Think with your heart, not your head. If you don’t have core values, you will fail miserably. Culture eats strategy for breakfast—if you don’t live your culture and create a fun business where people enjoy working but also keep a shared fuel to drive success, then you will fail.

Aspiring leaders should first learn all about E.I., or emotional intelligence. Become obsessed with it. Run your business every day with emotional intelligence. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what your business is; at the end of the day everything is about people. 

Great leaders create other great leaders.

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Josh: 1. A good leader is always a good actor.

2. What I call the “5 Minute Rule”—if it will not matter in five years, then spend five minutes on it and then move on. Don’t dwell on things that won’t matter down the road.

3. Always be pumped up. If you’re not pumped up and don’t have true, authentic energy, then your team will not feel motivated. If you have negative energy as a leader and show your true colors, your team will lack confidence and mimic that in how they approach their work.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Josh: “This too shall pass.” That simple adage applies to both success and failure, so remind yourself of that in both the highest and lowest moments in your career.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Josh: Be nice. Be kind. I’ve been lucky to develop a strong Instagram following in the last few years and I respond to every single message that I receive. I had so many people unwilling to talk to me, slamming doors in my face, treating me like I was worthless and told me I was a failure—I don’t want to treat others that way just because I have found success. One of my college professors told me I was a dumb jock and wouldn’t amount to anything. That’s not how I want to treat other people and that’s not how any true leader should act. I have a platform based on the success that I’ve created and it’s important to me that I don’t act like some people did when I was on my way up. You need to be real and need to be nice. Do nice things. Go out of your way to force yourself to help others and positively impact the lives of everyone you come in contact with throughout your life.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Josh: I’m a big hockey player and have been ever since I was 4 years old. I play every week. That’s the only time that my mind goes to another place. I also workout and go to the sauna, I do 37-degree ice baths daily_I like to do things that challenge me to take it to another level. In the same way that I approach business, I approach life: it’s 80% mindset. With the right mindset you will go very far in life. Too many people live their lives scared. It’s important to challenge yourself and keep striving to get out of that comfort zone. Only when you’re willing to be uncomfortable will you then be able to become comfortable.

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