Snoop and Pac
Tupac is a huge inspiration to me. Growing up, my mom struggled to pay our bills. We didn’t have any violence around, but the poverty level was real. He was charismatic, in shape, outspoken, and had a high level of confidence. Even though I couldn’t fully identify with all the inner-city struggles, I could identify with wanting more for myself and my family. Charisma & confidence. That’s what I wanted. That’s what I wanted to build and cultivate because I knew that it would help me do great things.
Snoop was just a G. I remember when Nothing but a G Thing came out. The swag level of Snoop was off the charts. I loved watching his career evolve into the mainstream.
I have a small picture of me shaking Arnold's hand for the After-School All Stars charity. This is one of the charities that I regularly donate to. There must be a level of giving back to society, especially if you have been blessed and/or experienced some success. It’s a nice reminder for me to make sure that I’m giving back enough.
I own Old School Gym with one of my best friends, Dustin Myers. You may know him as Coach Myers. The photo I’m referring to is at Giannamore's Pizza. We’re out front smoking cigars after we spoke at our high school commencement.
I didn’t particularly enjoy high school. Generally speaking, I don’t like school unless I’m learning about something that I want to learn. We were a part of the outcasts in high school. Our swag wasn’t received well growing up. Fast-forward 20 years to being professionals in our respected fields. It was a privilege to speak to the graduating class.
This photo represents us doing things our own way. It represents how far I’ve come over the past 20+ years. Taking the podium and having the opportunity to impact the next generation is something I take great pride in.
My first hustle. Gary Vee talks about this all the time. I remember having yard sales with my grandma. My grandma was always heavy in yard sales out in the country. I'd be making $200-300 selling baseball cards. I'd be making more than her. She was there selling a bunch of her crafts and stuff she made. Trading, collecting, and selling cards helped me to understand the value of an asset. This goes well before I ever learned anything about stocks.
"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run"
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
What an interesting character. I don't own one, but I've aspired to own a valuable Babe Ruth card or baseball in my lifetime. This motherfucker was crazy. The level of excellence he achieved was unbelievable. The Governor did not exist within his mind. He had no ceiling. I’m proud to have him on my wall of inspiration.
My First Max Effort Sack
The first one. Going into Max Effort, it was difficult to not be a MusclePharm knock-off because I lived that lifestyle for a while. Every ounce of me was in there. We wanted to be the Nike of the supplement space. With Max Effort, the question was, “How do we become the Dollar Shave Club of the space?” You start going down all the rabbit holes. All shapes, sizes and types of packaging. Then burlap comes up.
We didn’t tell anyone that their order was going to come in a burlap sack. People lost their shit when it showed up on their doorstep. Super-unique. All the products taste good. All the products work well. The application is right there. It’s the separator.
I always remind myself to push myself on the branding. To push myself to be different, to not be a me-too. Do you see what I'm saying? I can't be a me-too to the old G. That person learned from that situation.
Another cool photo I have is me holding this watch with Arnold. When we used to do charity events at Arnold's, there would be charity poker events with a lot of celebrities there. I don't even play poker really, but you could win. They would give a Richard Mille away every year.
I heard that the first person out won a $5,000 watch last year. So I'm thinking to myself, "Arnold's over here, smoking cigars. I want to be doing that anyway. I don't even care about playing poker. I want to be the first person out. I'm going to win this watch and then I'm going to smoke cigars with Arnold." To me, that sounds like a great plan, right?
I sit down. Annie Duke's at my table. Annie Duke, the woman who won the World Series of Poker. Don Cheadle is to my left. You got Joe Manganiello, and all these other celebrities and shit. So, I'm pushing Annie Duke. I'm raising it, and everybody else is folding. It comes to the point, I'm all in. Annie Duke's all in. I'm either going to epically beat, on the first hand of the day, the World Series of Poker champion, or I'm about to get last, get a $5,000 watch, and hang out with Arnold.
Well, I lost, which was my plan. Thirty seconds later, the next person lost with the same plan, but I beat him to it. That person was Tim Ferriss. That's one I got on Tim right there. So, I get this dope watch, was able to hang out with Arnold longer, and I was able to hear some cool stories. Execute your plan, even when there’s a bunch of motherfucking celebrities around.
Next up, my picture of Nipsey Hussle. Before Nipsey passed away, I never really was a big consumer of his content. I couldn't have told you one Nipsey song. I never watched an interview with him. I didn't really know why people loved Nipsey Hussle. Straight up. He was a West Coast rapper, wasn't really mainstream, but was starting to become mainstream. I never really fucked with his music.
I dove into his interview first. I got obsessed about Nipsey because I started going down a YouTube study rabbit hole to understand why people loved him. Why the athletes were showing love, and why people felt different about him. Then I started listening to the music. He is extremely inspiring. He never fit in a box. He always was on his own. He pushed against the system and just as he was dying, he began popping up in the mainstream. It's unfortunate because I would have loved to meet him. That would have been amazing. He would have been at the top of my list of people to meet.
"When I go to war, I go to kill, not to be killed." The infamous Westside mentality, for you guys that aren't aware. Westside Barbell has been the strongest powerlifting gym on the planet for years. It just happens to be in Columbus, Ohio. I witnessed Westside lifting in a powerlifting meet at 18 years old and had no clue what I was watching. All the guys talk about, "Westside versus the World." I witnessed that when I was a kid, then got to train there off and on over my career.
I'm friends with a bunch of Westside lifters and have worked with Louie over the years. It's the mentality of Westside. It's the mystique of Westside. It's the myth of Westside. It's just that next level, "I'm willing to die under this weight.” Am I that crazy? Maybe in my own way, but that contributed to understanding what it takes to be extreme and really get to that next level. That thought process it takes to squat 700 pounds. "If I can unrack it, I can fucking squat it. I'm not going to die from this. I'm good." That's the type of shit you hear there. Guys are benching 800-900 pounds. The extreme of the extreme.
You can apply that. All gas, no brakes. Louie said it best, "It's the environment. If you run with the lame, you develop a limp. Extreme people give me extreme results.” It's just the truth, right? I'm an extremist. I push myself to an extreme. My results are extreme. You might not be as extreme as me, but if you come my direction a little bit, see what happens. That's just what it is.
It's called Transitional Training Techniques by Cory or T3. My first training studio. My wife made this for me, for my gym, when she worked at the bookstore at Ohio State. We were painting the walls together. We’re 20 years old, I’m starting this business, and she’s giving me all the support I need. I’ve had that same support over all these years from her. I just knew she was a ride-or-die from day one. That support is everything. I don't think she understood it all the time, but she believed in me.