“To achieve a mind state of flow you have to understand the “what” and “why” on what you’re doing” With Brandon Hendrickson and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

To achieve a mind state of flow you have to understand the “what” and “why” on what you’re doing. You need to do self evaluation on what you’ve done before to know what works and what doesn’t work. Staying focused and becoming almost obsessed with what you’re doing. Repetition is the father of learning! I […]

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To achieve a mind state of flow you have to understand the “what” and “why” on what you’re doing. You need to do self evaluation on what you’ve done before to know what works and what doesn’t work. Staying focused and becoming almost obsessed with what you’re doing. Repetition is the father of learning!


I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandon Hendrickson. Some teenagers know exactly what they want to be when they grow older, some do not, but for Brandon Hendrickson his sights were firmly set on being a professional bodybuilder. Hailing from the Chicagoland area, it would be some years later, but that dream would finally be realized at the climax of his career, he would win the title of Men’s Physique at the highly lauded, popular Mr. Olympia Competition held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mr. Olympia was a moment that solidified all of Brandon’s years of hard work and tenacious dedication to this sport, a sport that he admits his parents who are both Trinidadian natives, looked at as just a hobby rather than a career. It took some convincing, but now they are fully on board and their support is insurmountable, in fact, his father, David Hendrickson is his manager. Now, when he’s competing, his parents and older sister, Michelle are nearby cheering him on.

Born in Chicago, June 16, 1987, Brandon grew up in a suburban community on the outskirts of the city and always played sports as a kid as well as participated in many educational programs. He was also very likable and always had a diverse group of friends. As the years went on Brandon attended college and eventually moved back to the Chicago area to work in hospital administration. Enjoying his youth, modeling, dabbling in music, Brandon enjoyed an active social life, but the desire to body build never dissipated. In 2012, he began to really commit to the sport and the lifestyle, which require a strict diet and a serious gym regimen. That same year, Brandon came in 2nd place in his first show, “that moment I knew I had something in this.” In 2013, Brandon went pro and in 2015, he debuted in Mr. Olympia placing 5th. By 2016, he’d won the Arnold Classic and in 2017, he placed 3rd in Mr. Olympia all of this leading to the coveted 2018 Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique Title. Brandon then went on to compete as Mr. Olympia in South Korea, Japan and China and won in all three countries. He is the only Mr. Olympia who competed after being Title Mr. Olympia prior to the 2019 Mr. Olympia competition. Also, the only Men’s Physique Mr. Olympia that won the Arnold Classic and Men’s Physique Mr. Olympia.

For Brandon, this is just the beginning even though he knows he will not compete forever, his other plans include to travel the world giving health and fitness seminars, opening his own gym and continuing to broaden his health and fitness apparel business, Big Waves along with his family.

Brandon’s support system not only includes family, but a host of friends, fans and his beloved coach. Brandon has stood out as the fan favorite at many of his competitions and it is easy to see why when humility and hard work comes together, there isn’t much that they can bring this young man down. He says it best, “My most important hope is to teach people how to be better. Better versions of themselves, learning how to turn negativity into something positive.”


Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

My childhood was interesting, my parents kept me involved in sports and activities like camps and different educational programs. In high school, I wasn’t the jock, but I was well known and well liked, so I was fairly popular. I was cool with everybody of all ages, and ethnicity. I had best friends of all races, I hung out with everybody which is what I think helped me become well liked and well known. Which came from my parents being foreign, I was always different, talked different and moved different. Very independent my whole life, setting my own trends and doing things different. Being an influencer developed later in life, kind of when I started modeling in college. I was part of a black student organization called Essence fashion models. We choreographed modeling routines and doing about 6–7 shows a year. It was another avenue for me to be involved in something and getting to build relationships and learning how to work and speak to people. I was very big on academics. I was a deep thinker, still am, I was always more interested in how to make money, being an entertainer in some way, looking and feeling good. Honestly my parents stayed on me through high school and college and that was what motivated to do well in school and make sure I graduate.

In the beginning, my motivation was to never have small arms again, not to be made fun of for how small I am again. These days, after becoming successful in the sport, my motivation and inspiration comes from my fans and people who are following and supporting me. I feel like their super hero in a sense, if I give up, they have nobody to look up to help them keep going. I’m always documenting what I’m eating, my training, my cardio and even my personal life to show them they can do this too, and that anything is possible with hard work. We all have a very special power of PRESENCE. Meaning, by me just going to the gym and posting about it, it could encourage someone else to go to the gym that day because “Brandon got up and did it”. In turn, when they start going to the gym and eating clean, their peers could possibly be motivated. Paying it forward.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

A relationship that has had a major influence on me is my relationship with my coach, Mandus Buckle, based out of Chicago as well. I didn’t meet Mandus until a year after I started competing. It was my 3rd show, I walk into “check ins’ to get my height checked and receive my competition number. My name was called up, I took my shirt off and realized everybody was staring. After check ins, Mandus who was working for the show and a coach at the time, pulled me to the side. He said “after you win tonite, call me and lets talk about working together” I chuckled and responded, “but you haven’t even seen me on stage yet lol” he responded “trust me”. Prejudging happened, I got first call outs and was put in the center box(first place position). Went back for the night show, not only did I win my class, I beat every other class for the overall win. Mandus was right. We talked a bit after the show and he told me to immediately register for the national show, to turn pro, that was going to be held only a couple weeks later. I knew I was going to have the money to start working with him so I continued to prep myself the next few weeks until the national show. Nationals weekend is here and I got second call outs and placed 7th, I was very disappointed and knew I could do better, I figured I needed that guidance to help me really reach my potential. I took the risk and started working with Mandus that Monday. We did a 5 month off season prep where I stated building my V-taper and added 20 lbs to my frame. By November, I was ready to compete again but now with Mandus help. Did 3 shows, got 2nd place at both local shows then went to Nationals in Miami to try and turn pro again, I won my class in Miami and earned my pro card. Mandus had always believed in me more than I did. Everything I’ve accomplished, Mandus has said I was going to accomplish before it even happened. I just had to work for it. Including winning the Arnold classic and the Mr. Olympia. Mandus predicted me winning both of these shows and I’m forever grateful for his belief in me.

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?

My father is a great role model for me. Always has been my whole life because I know he just wants me to be in a better position, as I would for my son. He’s always showed me why certain things won’t work and gave examples why. Since I as a baby I’ve watched my dad get up every single morning and go to work, I learned you have to work for what you want and be consistent with it. He’s taught me about how to avoid certain people that aren’t healthy for me and taught me how to work with people to build relationships. He’s taught me about finances, saving, spending etc. how to become financially stable. Including how to save for retirement, 401k, the importance of having insurance.

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

A mistake I made when competing was when I forgot my board shorts(use to compete in) back at my hotel while the show was going on. I was at the venue and was getting ready to start warming up to get on stage when I realized I grabbed the wrong pair of shorts. I quickly ran back to my hotel which was across the street, grabbed my shorts and made it on time. I learned to be more prepared by double checking that I have everything before I leave to the venue and to make sure and pack an extra pair of shorts

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

Advice I would give a young person would be to be patient and utilize selfcare, like massages and spinal adjustments, and let failure be your motivation.

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

Due to the “stay at home” situation, I’m currently working on different exercises you can do at home utilizing exercise bands!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

Things I do to optimize my mind in high stress situations are meditation, prayer, and learning to turn my fears into fuel

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?

Strategies I use to optimize my body are weekly massages, stretching and foam rolling, and making sure I’m never lazy by doing a little something everyday

As a high performance athlete, you likely experience times when things 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 mind state of Flow more often in our lives?

To achieve a mind state of flow you have to understand the “what” and “why” on what you’re doing. You need to do self evaluation on what you’ve done before to know what works and what doesn’t work. Staying focused and becoming almost obsessed with what you’re doing. Repetition is the father of learning!

Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

Yes I do, every morning for a about 5 mins I listen to a meditation to get my mind clear and focused for the day

Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Ways I’m helping change the world are by teaching people all over the world how to be better. Better versions of themselves, learning how to turn negativity into something positive. Learning how to face obstacles but stay the course, motivate and inspire people around the world to believe anything they want in life, is possible to get. I am a true testament to when you work hard, stay humble by keeping your mouth shut when people are saying no, be disciplined and consistent, you can do anything you set your mind to.

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

Philippians 4:13-“ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” means a lot to me and my life because no matter what I’m going through or how hard it might get, I know there’s always an end to it and that I can get through it

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 🙂

Mike Tyson! I love the sport of boxing because it relates with bodybuilding so much. You have a camp, you train for months before you match or “show” and even though you have a team, the show comes down to only you and you have yourself to look out for to get the task done. Mike Tyson is a legend in the sport and his story inspires me. His will to be the best inspires me. Would be awesome to meet him

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