Hello everyone, and thanks for listening to the Alpha Hippie Podcast. On today’s show, I have gym owner, Kolbe expert, and my buddy, Brian Alexander. We talk everything to do with gym ownership. We also get much deeper into this Kolbe test. Brian has been studying this idea of taking this Kolbe test that helps you test your instincts, something that has been so valuable for me as a man, a person, something that I’d work with my teams on. This is an incredible podcast to listen to if you are wondering how you work, how you can develop better people, and how you can make yourself and your work situation and your relationships better.
I really hope that you enjoy this show. I found this Kolbe stuff to be just life-changing for me. If you have any questions about it, please hit us up on Instagram anytime in the DM, I’m checking it constantly if I could help you guys with anything. Follow us on Spotify if you are listening there, subscribe on iTunes, leave a wonderful review, I appreciate it very much, and thank you for all your support Alpha Hippie tribe out there. I just want to let you know that this means a lot to me that you take your time to listen to this show, much appreciate it.
Brian often jokes that he graduated with an MBA from the School of Hard Knocks. Having opened many businesses in his lifetime he has learned a great deal with some failing, one nearly breaking him, and others with the right idea’s with the wrong timing. Through (and due to) all of the adversity, he has come out of it smarter and more well rounded.
Brian believes in nurturing the mind, body and soul and is happiest when experimenting and innovating.
What does he do now:
- Connector of Dots at CrossFit Illumine
- Kolbe Certified Consultant
- Connector of Dots at Illumine Academy
- Expressing the Genius Within – Team engagements utilizing the Kolbe Index and other tools for the corporate world (Teams, Leaders and Individual coaching around strengths)
Brian is always swimming against the current, innovating, taking calculated risks and make every effort to continue to be a game changer within the industry. Brian has strong leadership skills and believes in making your strengths your super powers and outsourcing the rest. Ask anyone who knows Brian and they will tell you that he cannot stand still for too long and loves the process of architecting/creating and building businesses. He is a great coach, good-great athlete but where his passion shines brightest is in creating business strategies and big picture thinking. Moving chess pieces on the board of life.
Angelo: Brian Alexander in my living room, how are you?
Brian: Yes, thank you for having me. I love it.
Angelo: My pleasure. You are a local gym owner near me, so we’ve been talking—wen did we get together, maybe two years ago?
Brian: About two years ago, maybe a year and a half.
Angelo: When did Brian come here?
Brian: That had to be three years ago.
Angelo: 2016. Then after that we started hanging out and talking more, and then maybe once a month we get together and shoot it.
Angelo: So today, we are going to record it for all the people. They are going to be very excited about what they have to hear.
Angelo: What’s going on with you? What’s happening in your life? What’s a typical day like for you?
Brian: A day in the life of Brian Alexander: typically I wake up, early nowadays, my routine changes and fluctuates pretty frequently, but I have some absolute necessities that I have to hit. The base of my personal pyramid is meditation, number one now, and it’s been probably a religious practice of me doing that fast for like two months.
Angelo: How do you meditate, because people do it in different ways?
Brian: I have a meditation bench, I do it in my office [inaudible 00:02:38]. Meditation bench, the lights are off, sometimes people are in the gym, sometimes they are not- it’s okay, I actually can meditate pretty well no matter what’s going on me now or around me now. Incense, some frankincense going…
Angelo: That’s awesome.
Brian: Just a little app called Oak, but not guided, it’s just the Tibetan bells every five minutes or so. I do 30 minutes a day.
Angelo: What do the bells do?
Brian: If you are off any thought path, it brings you back to being present. You don’t think at all, like when that bell resonates, you can’t think a thought, you literally are present. It brings you back just in case.
Angelo: Okay, it’s awesome. Do you count, or you are just sitting there?
Brian: Just sitting there.
Angelo: Oh my god. How long do you do that for?
Brian: 30 minutes.
Angelo: 30 minutes of just seated meditation, good for you.
Angelo: And this is two months in?
Brian: Well, I’ve been meditating for a while now, but 30 minutes is definitely two months.
Angelo: Oh my god, it’s awesome.
Brian: This me seated on the bench is something newer within two months and it’s pretty amazing thing, so you are just kneeling on the bench [inaudible 0:03:52]. But it’s comfortable and I can probably do it for an hour or more. My goal is the Vipassana retreat- it’s a 10-day meditation retreat- you can’t communicate with people. They discourage even non-verbal communication. You could choose the fast- I’m big on fasting as well, so I’m really looking forward to that. I think it’s like 8 hours, or maybe 6-8 hours of meditation.
Angelo: In a day?
Brian: Per day, and a lot of reflection, so it will be interesting.
Angelo: I think they have one in Rockford.
Brian: I don’t know if it’s Rockford, but they are all over the world. It’s free. Of course they would like you to donate if you valued it, but the goal is to give this away to the world for free and not expect anything, and if people are able to afford it they can donate to continue the thing on.
Angelo: When are you going to do one of those?
Brian: This year for sure. I have to plan it with my wife, and find a time when I can selfishly get away for 10 days.
Angelo: Sure, it’s a big commitment.
Brian: We have a 4-year old girl and a 10-month old girl, so a little different now, but I’m excited about it.
Angelo: Oh my god, 10 days.
Angelo: So you meditate, and then—we were talking about your day.
Brian: So then I’ll go home, cook breakfast for the girls, and usually spent about an hour or two there, and then will go back to the gym. Just recently I’ve been doing the 9:00am workout with the class, usually about three days a week.
Angelo: It’s awesome. Then what else?
Brian: I do mentoring for [inaudible 00:05:28] so there will be few phone calls there, usually I have Tuesday and Thursday. I try to stack my days, so I’m wearing a specific hat on Monday, so I can stay organized in my head. A lot of creating, a lot of trying to build framework for—I love the new businesses that I’m working on as well. Just creating a free environment where when I’m motivated and inspired, I can go 10 hours, and if I’m not I don’t.
Angelo: To be very structured and have certain days, was that natural for you, or is that something that over time you took on?
Brian: It’s both natural to compartmentalize, but also out of necessity through trial and error. Just fine tuning what I’ve been doing and trying to figure out better ways to do it, it’s like my pathological way of trying to make sense of the world right now. If I do something, I’ll say- how could I have done that better or more efficiently? I’ll implement something new, try it, test it, assess, adjust, and then I’ll change it again, change it again and keep trying, chase the best way to do it.
Angelo: Now too, you’ve been able to create enough space for you, and you’ve created the Illumine Academy.
Angelo: So, what is that?
Brian: That’s actually something I created as a concept. I’m definitely more of a theorist, so very similar to maybe how you do things. Created the concept, I wanted to really separate CrossFit Illumine from what I was trying to preach from a personal development standpoint. And in my own eyes I wanted to have something that can stand on its own, I wanted something that I could center around what we talk about a lot- the Kolbe Index. One of my philosophies is, you can’t help anybody until you know who they are, and until they know who they are.
So the Kolbe is a tool that gets right to the point of it, and then you can begin constructing your reality. It’s really just my creative outlet for all things personal development, philosophy, productivity, habits, method of sandbox so I don’t screw anything up at CrossFit Illumine breaking mortar.
Angelo: Yeah, that’s awesome. The Kolbe test- you and I have talked a lot about this especially with hiring people in the teams, tell some people about it, they don’t know what it is.
Brian: The Kolbe Index what it is not- I’ll start with that, it’s not an IQ test, it doesn’t talk about skills, it’s not a personality test, it doesn’t talk about preferences and personality traits. There’s three parts of the mind- I can link up a little photo for this too: there’s the cognitive- cognitive is learn behaviors, habits, certifications, experience, like the experience or work and that whole bag.
That could be improved upon obviously, but I think we are all born with a hard—and this is not politically correct, but it’s scientifically and psychologically true- we are born with a hard ceiling of IQ, so it’s something—what we are working with. Next up, you have your personality traits, so the affected part of the mind. That deals with personality traits, preferences, values, motivations- all of that. That’s kind of like your Myers Briggs, every other internet little personality test…
Angelo: 16Personalities, yeah.
Brian: Yeah, it’s relevant and there is some truth to it. The Kolbe Index is unique because it’s measuring something called the conative, and it’s revived from a Latin word Conatus- meaning innate drive or instinct. Plato and Aristotle talked about this way back when they were around; something that is within us all, we are born a specific way and that never changes. The Kolbe is unique because it measures how we take action when striving or when free to be our self. To me, the whole point of life is to find out who you are and then find outlets for both work and creative outlets to be free to be who you are. If you can start there, you are going to live a happy or more fulfilled life rather than, kind of like, let’s use the analogy of having to put a mask on every day and pretend to be something you are not, you can just be who you are every day.
Angelo: So cool. I think it’s so genius. How did you get involved with it?
Brian: It was really because I was trying to sort myself out. I had made a ton of what I would consider catastrophic mistakes in my life and giving people opportunities, having them-I’m going to put my little air quotes up “wrongly think that people were failing me” because you’ve had a good opportunity, I have a great human being, and it just didn’t pan out. People would ask me- “I don’t know, what do I do?” “How do I do it?” I’m like, “I don’t know, just do what I do, and it should work”.
That was a very archaic way of thinking, but after making many, many, many mistakes in both hiring and giving opportunities, and really not being fully myself and even what I’ve built at Illumine at the time in terms of taking up a lot of the roles and wearing the hats that it really just drained me. I was like, there’s got to be a better way, there has to be something that is measurable and repeatable, and I found the Kolbe. I’ve done a lot of these other ones too, and the Kolbe just sticks out. You do the Kolbe A index- it’s 49 bucks, you get an audio result explaining the whole thing. And I was like, this is it, this is what I’ve been trying to explain to people about myself, but I didn’t have the verbiage or the words, I didn’t know how to articulate it. I wasn’t quite sure it was even okay to be me; like, was I just making excuses? Was I just being lazy? And all that, right?
Brian: It really just validated who I always knew I was, and what my superpowers were and gave me the sense of liberation- it was okay to be you, and the fact like the minute you can be yourself all the time, the world is going to be a better place. So I did it, and I’m like, I could give this audio result to a stranger, and they can listen to it and they would know me better than I can even explain myself. Of course I had my wife do it afterwards, and we are actually very opposite in our Kolbe results. For her it was also the same liberation, the same validation. It was like, wow, if it’s true for both of us, and if it’s that true for both of us this has to be just true, period.
So the whole time with my wife or other people, I would try to change them into somebody they weren’t because that’s what the role needed rather than finding somebody perfectly suited for the role. That was my beginning of journey, my radical of introspection. That was about 2½ years ago, and since then I’ve been obsessed with trying to make sure that I don’t fail people by putting them into positions to fail. If we can identify that, if I can help people identify their strengths, I can help them, or better help them succeed, or at least have more compassion and empathy to say, okay, they do it a different way, whether they fit the role or not, I have to say, ‘you are going to do it the way you do it here. I understand you, and here is how you are going to do it.’
Angelo: It’s so interesting. Let me ask you a question, because it’s sort of crazy too, I think a lot of people thinking to hear, what do you mean you get to work how you are supposed to work? I think for a lot of people too, at least from my upbringing, and I’m sure a lot of cultures deal with this, at least in America, it’s like, we are not supposed to have it easy, or it’s not supposed to be a certain way. What do you say to things like that?
Brain: I say, yes, that is, and could be true. I think there is a cost to having to wear a mask every day. Now, this doesn’t get you out of growing as a human being. What I would argue is, it puts you into the right lanes so you can go forward faster with less mistakes, and less having to find yourself through experience, and finding you are like, the Hinduism term ‘neti neti’, it’s not this, not this, just like blindly stumbling through life like, “oh, I’m going to try this, no that wasn’t it, I’m going to try this, that wasn’t it.’ You could make up when you are 40 and either be stuck in a career that is just draining you and you are miserable, and it’s usually where the midlife crisis is, or you can discover who you are early on in life and align yourself with that.
My best analogy for this is the starting lineup for a basketball team: you have a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.
They all have these unique attributes that allow them to play their position well. In basketball, it’s plainly obvious that point guard is different than a center. In life as we are doing things within our career or maybe even within relationships, or whatever it might be, it’s not visible, it’s just not visible at all. So people are maybe point guards, they may be trying to play center and they are just miserable but they can’t quite figure out why. It’s usually because they are playing the wrong position.
So if you have the starting lineup and you pull them all back to the bench, and you put the point guard at center, small forward at shooting guard, you begin to mix them back up and put them back on the court, they are all going to still be playing the game of basketball, but they are going to be ineffective, they are going to go to work every day and feel pretty bad about their performance, they coach is going to be pissed off, the fans are going to be pissed off because they are not performing, they are not getting the desired outcomes. Just making sure that 1) you are in the right seat or the right position based on your own unique attributes and traits, and then your whole team has to do that as well, right?
Angelo: Yeah. Let me ask you this, what part of the Kolbe would be someone that’s not really good with a task list, or something like that, which one is that?
Brian: A Follow Thru.
Angelo: Okay, so is that high or low?
Brian: If it is low you adapt, that means you counter act. Follow Thru it doesn’t mean can you Follow Thru or can you not, there is no ‘yes or no’, it’s how you Follow Thru, or there is a continuum of how you get things done when free to be yourself. It doesn’t mean that you can’t follow list, but you are natural mode of operation, if your number is lower is to adapt systems, it’s not to check boxes, it’s not to create systems. It’s to take something and just adapt it. You might call it winging it, but it’s a natural strength or super power actually.
Angelo: Let me ask you this; someone that’s like—I forgot what you just said, even though they could do it, it’s not natural.
Angelo: How would you know if something would you say is more natural for you? How does it feel?
Brian: Another analogy that I use is: heaven, hell and purgatory. If you look at the things that you do on a daily basis and you compartmentalizes three columns: heaven, hell, purgatory. All the stuff that drains you, that you procrastinate on, that you just really want to put off- that’s all hell. The heaven stuff is stuff you can do all day long, 20-hours a day, get into a flow state, look up and be like, ‘wow, I don’t even feel like I worked 5 hours, let alone 20 hours.’ Purgatory is the stuff that you are proficient at but maybe you could do without. It doesn’t quite drain you like the hell stuff, but it doesn’t light you up like the heaven stuff. You can usually just gauge, where do you light up? That’s what you gear for, and then what drains you- that’s the stuff you need to delegate and give it up.
Angelo: That’s such a good analogy. Is this, not only for work, but also relationships?
Brian: Absolutely. Work is all relationships, right?
Brian: But the spouse, Charlene my wife, and myself, there would be her trying to change me or me trying to change her in many things, whether it is within the business or if it was at home. So it really just brought together a nice understanding of just how we do things. It doesn’t mean we are going to get off the hook, like if I don’t put the dishes away or something like that, it’s not the excuse, but she understands I’m all about ideas and all about starting things, and she is really about- first I need to get a background, or I need contacts, I need historical research and all that. That applies to anything you do in real life, or in the career path.
But without a doubt, if you understand that your beautiful wife is who she is and it’s perfectly okay for her to just be who she is and do things exactly how she does them, then that is like an amazing thing because you are not trying to constantly change each other to fit your own way of doing things, right?
Angelo: Sure. What about though some people who are in the test that are more the middle numbers?
Brian: Those are called specifically mediators or facilitators. They neither initiate action in either of those columns, but they don’t counter act either. They are actually super valuable because a lot of the times you will find people that are—if you have a team of two, let’s say in a leadership team, you will find a team that has a conative conflict, so they are extreme opposites of each other.
Usually that just means that people are going to dig in the trenches and just say, no, no, this is the way that it’s always been done, this is how I know how to do it, this is how it’s always been successful. So now, you have these two polar opposites that are just pulling apart. The mediators are amazing because they can see both sides, they actually do things in a way that compliments both sides and they are able to use the verbiage to say, ‘I see what you are saying here, have you thought about this?’, and they bring the whole package together.
Angelo: That’s awesome. So you said the facilitator or?
Brian: Facilitator or mediator, those are the terms for anywhere from 4 through 6. If you see somebody who is a 4 through 6 in all four columns, those people are rare.
Angelo: Okay. Oh my god, I have someone. It’s so funny you said that. I just thought of it now. I was reading it and that blew me away. Just for anyone that doesn’t know the Kolbe, take us through the four measurements and what they mean, and how they would look in their life.
Brian: Let me first give you why I’m almost exclusively banked the Kolbe: it’s 40 years of research, there is a 25-year ongoing study. So the same participants across the last 25 years, and those participants have taken the Kolbe A Index over the 25 years. Their results are 95% consistent. So it literally is just who you are, and if you could have taken it when you were 8 years old, or 80 years old it could be the same results.
Angelo: That’s the youngest?
Brian: They have four [inaudible 00:21:46] reading level. That’s the youngest. Kathy Kolbe is about 70, maybe 75. Her father is the owner of Wonderlic, the IQ cognitive company. It’s the biggest IQ testing company in the world. She grew up under that kind of umbrella, and she always said that it was just not right to be able to hire against strictly cognitive abilities. Actually, one of her motivations was she is dyslexic, so she knew she had a unique genius within herself, but according to cognitive tests she would not score highly. She is like, ‘this is horrible- you can’t just solely base it on that.’
Angelo: It’s genius.
Brian: This has been going pretty far back, four decades, but I like it because it’s objective and measurable, and repeatable. Every time you do it it’s the same thing. It’s like 36 questions. Then to get into what the Kolbe is- it’s 36 questions, there’s four columns, and there is a continuum number of 1 through 10 on each column. First column is Fact Finder- it’s how you gather and share information. Column two is Follow Thru- it’s how you organize information. Colum three is Quick Start- that’s how you deal with risk and uncertainly. Then column four is called Implementer, and it’s how you deal with space and tangibles.
So for Implementer for example, someone high in Implementer would be high in quality control, they care about the here and now, they care about the physical reality of things, they might use models to explain their ideas, physical models. The lower number on the continuum like you, you are a theorist, so you could put in together models in your head, you never have to see it working in real life to know it will work because you have the context, you have the empirical data from your life experience, and you could put together a whole solution in your head and know it will work.
Angelo: Yeah. That’s the last one.
Angelo: The Fact Finder is the first one? Can you take us through them?
Brian: Fact Finder is the first one, Follow Thru the second one, Quick Start is third one, and then Implementer is the fourth.
Angelo: That’s awesome. How would you know which roles—like if you were an entrepreneur, and let’s say you know my score, it’s 5-4-9-1, what would you look for to balance out first?
Brian: In working with another individual?
Angelo: Yes let’s say if it was me, and I was going to hire my first person, 5-4-9-1 for anyone that is listening, I’m middle ground with the Follow Thru, or the Fact-Finder and Follow Thru, and then the Quick Start I’m very high, so I take a lot of risk or I’m very risk averse, then Implementer I’m 1, so I’m much in the theorist. What would you look to balance out first, or would you try to balance it in one short?
Brian: It depends on what role you are hiring for. The analogy I use is: you may be looking for a GM, but the GM Angelo needs is different than a GM another entrepreneur might need. So it depends on what your Kolbe A is.
Then we do what we call a Kolbe C assessment- so you as the business owner/entrepreneur, boss, whatever you want to call it, leader, would fill up an assessment for how you perceive the role would need to be done. So now you can say, here’s Angelo’s Kolbe A, here’s Angelo’s Kolbe C for the GM role and how he perceives the role needs to be done, because everybody has different expectations and then you can begin you to hire against that archetype. Usually it’s a range, it’s not going to be an exact number, and it will be 4 through 6, 7 through 9, and it will give you this nice range.
Kolbe says that once you have that, anything above a B-, when we do the range of success is that for sure go ahead and hire, anything below they say do not hire, because you are going to be forced to make concessions on how you believe the role needs to be done because you’ve identified how you need it done. Then if you don’t make concessions you are going to force that other person to work outside of their strengths and force them to change, which we just know you don’t change the way you naturally operate. You can teach them cognitive skills through training and all of that, but you can’t change how people naturally do things.
Angelo: It’s so crazy. So, your instincts are the same, but your IQ and EQ you can’t change.
Brian: Yeah, and your personality traits even. If you are introverted, the cool thing is you can through conditioning become more extroverted, or you can increase your usable bandwidth of extroverted-ness.
Brian: But with the cognitive stuff, if you are allowed to just be yourself, that’s where you are going to produce the best results, you are going to be fully engaged, you are going to be able to work however many hours you need to work and not feel drained by it, then you need to fit that. That’s the one thing you definitely need to fit.
Angelo: It’s so interesting. I can’t help too, I think of how many mistakes I’ve made before this. Like you said, you had the right person, you were like, ‘we are in it, this is going to be great’, and then three months later it was all shit, and you were like, ‘you are letting me down.’ It’s so crazy.
Brian: The air quotes, “why do people keep failing me?” I remember like three years ago that was a real thought in my head. It’s silly to think now because I know that I failed them, but when you are flying blind and you are like, “good opportunity just work harder. I don’t know man, just do it. Follow this SOP”.
Angelo: Do you feel like Kolbe is going to eventually break into education?
Brian: That’s actually where they started- education, and they actually broke into the business world probably 20 years ago.
Brian: Her huge life passion is ADHD, ADD. She is saying it’s just being massively misdiagnosed because people like you, people like me, people high in Quick Start, people high in even Implementer, they need to do things with their hands, they are being diagnosed because they don’t fit the nice little box that schools need you to fit in to actually be not a disruption in class. What’s interesting is all teachers are super high in Fact Finder and Follow Thru. So they have this conative bias of- this is how I was successful, this is how I learn; you have to learn this way as well. So anybody that’s outside of that box is kind of disrupting the natural order, and people high in Follow Thru do not like disrupting order.
This is a huge problem but also a huge opportunity because we can now say, ‘no, that kid is probably a genius at something, you can’t just give him medication and numb the kid’s genius down because he is not fitting into your little box.’ I think there needs to be a big reform within schools. Homeschooling is something huge that my wife is doing with our kids, and it’s just like, why don’t we just start with, who is my kid, and how do I help them what their superpowers are? How can I help them understand empathy and compassion for other people’s superpowers? Then how do I help them learn to collaborate with people to get things done based on what their strengths are, filling their gaps in the world?
If you can teach them that in early age they are going to have to wear less masks, they are going to take less opportunities that don’t fit what their natural gifts are, and they are going to move forward faster in life with a lot less anxiety, a lot less stress, a lot less repercussions of not being yourself.
Angelo: It’s so enlightening. Somebody like me too, wishing that this was a part of school and education.
What do you feel is the reason that this wasn’t a part of it?
Brian: If you go back legitimately to when people stopped homeschooling and they implemented the structure of school that it is now it was designed for, and during the age of the factory- so getting people ready to go into the workforce. Now, whether that was malicious and intentional to dumb the American population down or not, that’s up in the air, but the fact is it was literally designed in a different era for a completely different culture, which was a factory-based culture. So they were breeding workers all the way down to the bell, the rose, everybody in order, all that, very similar to the assembly line kind of thing.
Angelo: So fucking nuts.
Brian: But now we’ve got this antiquated system, but with the age of the internet, with curriculums online that you can just pull, that are amazing, the power is being taken away from the schools a little bit. Of course it’s a leap of faith to say, and this is where the impostor syndrome comes in, like a mom they usually get put down when they say ‘I’m homeschooling my kids’ because somebody will be like, “what makes you think you are qualified enough to homeschool you’re the kid?” I’m like, “Well, I care about my kid, I love my kid, and I have a curriculum, I know how to teach and coach, so yeah, I can take something and I can actually be more enabled and change on the fly rather than have to work within your black and white red tape framework.”
It’s kind of interesting. I think this is going to be a huge shift especially with how much day care costs, and women going to work realizing- I’m going to work just to make enough so I can pay for day care and then have a stranger raise my kid. We are in a weird interesting time that I think is going to completely change over the next 20 years.
Angelo: Where do you think it’s going?
Brian: I think it’s going to go to either private schools- picking this stuff back up and really running with it. So maybe the rich will benefit from it because they can afford it, or on the flip side of it, homeschooling- homeschooling groups, all of that. If you think about the value of a diploma and a college education now it’s basically paper weight, unless you are going to go into the specialty, a law degree, to be a doctor, or any of those things. Right now people are graduating with 50, 70 grand of debt and making maybe 30 grand a year, cops- they’ll never pay that up. It’s crazy. And they are probably doing careers that they just settle for, that don’t fit in with their conative strengths, right?
Angelo: Sure. It’s so crazy how backwards it is.
Angelo: You would think it wouldn’t be this backwards.
Brian: I think it’s just the natural cycle of things where we want to control things and we want to change things. One of my best favorite quotes is, “the road to hell is paved by people with good intentions”, and everything usually starts up with good [inaudible 00:33:30], but I think we are at this end of the cycle of—we are all realizing that this didn’t quite work as well as we had hoped and then that’s where big reform and change comes.
Angelo: And you think that’s pretty soon?
Brian: Yeah, I think it’s happening now. You don’t see and feel it as much, but for sure within the next 10 years if you think what college is going to be like, online education, self-education- all that stuff.
Angelo: Do you think companies are eventually going to not care if you have a degree?
Brian: Yeah, for sure, and they are already starting to. A lot of them are stripping that requirement off, and that’s been a trend actually over the last, maybe 10 years.
Angelo: Because I think for a lot of people they think that’s the only way they are going to get a certain position.
Brian: Now knowing what we know I would say, I now I have kids and if you have kids soon…
Brian: I would want real world, real life education and experience for my daughters, whatever that means. So make sure they are aligned with who they are and understand that, and they are aligned with what they want to do, and make sure that it’s great. But then, rather than may be a college education, unless they want it, why not get real world experience? I’d rather pay 40 grand a year for Mia to go intern under the Top Woman CEO summer.
I’ll pay you to do that as long as it’s in line with the career that she wants, rather than college education, right?
Angelo: Sure. This is true, because you could just pay her a salary and she could go do it.
Angelo: Fucking nuts.
Brian: I think our whole job, me and you, as parents is going to be put ourselves in the position to be able to do that, to be able to network with some of the tope CEOs and ask a favor like, “hey, I’ll give you 40 grand, just let me have literally be your assistant [inaudible 00:35:31] for a year.” That one year will transcend any 4 or 8 years in college.
Angelo: Right, absolutely. So, you guys just started this?
Brian: Yeah. Mia is still young, four years old. Emma is 10 months old. The fun part for me is working with Charlene, understanding what our own unique strengths are. She is definitely the hands-on implementer. She is high in Fact Finder, I’m Follow Thru. So she has the caring quality of the he7re and now, in my mind I’m thinking about conceptualizing or putting a theory together on what different buckets, what we need to produce an amazing kid; what do we have to teach them from a macro level, or even Meta level?
It’s going to be like the Kolbe Index for kids. It’s going to be a specific type of schooling- so classical education, it’s what the ancient Greeks and Romans use, and it’s made a big resurgence during these times, and a lot of homeschoolers use it. It teaches the Trivium, which is the basic, and that’s logic, reason, and rhetoric. So that comes before anything, of course, writing, coloring, all that, but then after that comes the Quadrivium, and it’s basically like astronomy, it’s science, music and arts.
All of those things are the main things that the ancient Greek philosophers in the schools taught their children. When you know all that you can apply that to anything. It’s like, in my eyes, the right way to do it, but then you a lot about meditation, you think about proper fitness, physical fitness. You can begin to say I think that this system of many different things together has some merit in building kids that are better equipped for the next rendition of whatever the world is going to be.
Angelo: Right. Yeah, because in reality, as parents it’s our job to train our kids for life.
Angelo: That’s it.
Brian: That’s it. Whatever that means, if you can train them to be resilient and prepared for life at the Meta level, it doesn’t matter what they do specifically at the micro level, because those skills and that education transcends everything, you are going to apply it to everything.
Angelo: It’s so awesome.
Brian: How old are you?
Brian: Okay. So 35, I’m 38, and I’m happy that I know what I know now, but my path was the hard path. Not like hard work, it was literally the path of most resistance. I stumbled, I literally was stumbling doing this, doing that, ‘no, no, this is not what I want, no, no, this is not what I want’, by the time I was 36, 37, I finally understood who I was, but it was all through ‘not this, not this’. Imagine if you could teach your kids at such an early age just to find that, and then go straight- it’s going to be way less resistance. It’s going to be the path of the absolute least resistance, and they are going to be able to go further faster and have a lot less bumps and bruises.
Angelo: Yeah. Tyler Sullivan who was on the show, who is a gym owner actually out of Milwaukee, he just started doing this too.
Brian: Home schooling? Nice.
Angelo: Yeah, just this semester.
Brian: Get out of here. Okay.
Angelo: I haven’t checked in with him in a while, but he is really excited about it, him and his wife.
Brian: That is cool.
Angelo: Yeah. For you now, what are you trying to focus on the most in your life?
Brian: Overall, my own personal health and wellbeing is the Meta- if I can do that, then everything else always falls into place. Professionally I love the Kolbe stuff, so I think it can help in so many different arenas. I’m creating the company Expressing the Genius Within that’s going to be geared towards the corporate world pretty much, leadership, team development, hiring and selection, tools and assessments- a lot of different things for leaders in the corporate world. That’s going to be probably my big focus professionally. The Illumine Academy is my outlet for creativity even though the Expressing the Genius Within stuff is very much similar, but it’s just repackaged and off to a different client and demographic.
The Illumine Academy that I’m working on I think what I realized is it’s becoming more of an aggregate for other people’s products and services. So I think that’s where I’m actually the most impactful- it’s by connecting people with other people, or connecting dots, like the Alpha Hippie program or the Alpha Male program would be a program that I could sell or fill spots for on Illumine Academy. I’m also able to fulfill one of my great friends Shauna, who is actually a mushroom Sherman, has a great course on all things mushrooms, that would be something that was on the Illumine Academy, all things personal development that aren’t necessarily geared towards anything specific for the corporate world.
Angelo: Let me ask you this, because I am really curious to this because I was thinking about it for me: how has your gym community responded to you pursuing some of these things?
Brian: I think in the beginning—first it was me realizing I wasn’t who I thought I was, and then them realizing that I realized that I wasn’t who I thought I was. This was maybe three years ago. Then I think there was this almost like shock and “no, no, no, Brian, you are that.” I’m like, “no guys, I’m actually not that.” It wasn’t like I was lying about anything, but there was a lot of things that I wasn’t just being truly authentic to myself with. I think there was a little blow back, a little “I think Brian has kind of lost it. Why didn’t he just stick to CrossFit? Why is he getting so deep into philosophy and all these personal development stuff? Just stick to what got you here man.”
I’m like, “but you don’t get it, because I love that- I love CrossFit, but I need this outlet because this is who I really am deep down inside. If I can do this all day long, it’s going to be this even if there is no money involved- nothing. I have to do this to be true to myself.” There was little blow back, there was a group of people that left. It just is what it is, and it was a learning experience for everybody. But because of all of that, and because of the last three years, and because I’ve really strengthened my position of I want everybody to just be happy and to be who they are, bottom line. I don’t care if that means you are somewhere else, if you quit, whatever that means- I don’t care, because that’s like the absolute most important truth in the world, be that.
Angelo: Yeah. I feel really similar, and I think what’s crazy now too is, I think even though I’m not so deep into all this stuff at OCF, we attract better quality, people that are more ready to be happy, I would say than when I wasn’t .
Brian: Yeah, because you attract what you are, and there is no doubt about it. We were talking about our relationship with fitness and working out, and when I found CrossFit I would say I did it for physical reasons as a mental health outlet as well, but I developed a bit of an unhealthy relationship with fitness because I was working out 6 days a week. If I took two days off I’d feel so guilty I’d make myself physically almost feel sick by thinking about how much I’ve lost. It was a very unhealthy relationship I got formed with fitness.
Over the last three years or so, for me to work out three days a week is perfectly fine. If I don’t work out at all that week, it’s fine because I know I have the discipline, so there is no fear at all. Before I was driven by dear, the fear of losing my gains, the fear of losing my discipline, fear, fear, fear. Recently I’ve been doing 7-day fasts every month, where I don’t eat for 7 days and I don’t work out, and then I just pick back up when I’m done. Then I eat and I work out again. When you realize that you can go that long without eating and working out and be just fine, keep all your muscle, keep all your fitness, you are like, okay. I removed that fear-based motivation, and now I’m just doing it because it makes me feel good and it’s something that I want to do, it’s not a negative repercussion, right?
Angelo: Sure. I love it. That’s so good that you do that, and you experiment with it.
Fasting, so you fast every month?
Brian: Fast every month. I’ve been doing it since May. Funny story is, I never planned to do a fast or a long fast at least, and I ended up getting Invisalign in May. It was a Friday 11 o’clock in the morning kind of thing. I got Invisalign, took a couple of hours, obviously I didn’t have breakfast yet, and I got home and I’m like, I don’t want to take these things out and I wasn’t comfortable with taking the Invisalign out just yet. So I’m like, you know what, I’ll just go to sleep. So I slept and I made it like 24 hours, and I was like, you know what, maybe I’ll just go another 12 hours. Let me see if can go 36, then like, you know, maybe if I go 48, this really weird thing happened where it was completely accidental, I didn’t go into it with any expectations or any of that, but it was no suffering, there was no hunger.
It was really warm around May, so I was able to walk around and just listen to audio books. It was like I was trying to conquer anything, there was no trying at all. I ended up just going seven days with little effort, I‘d say zero effort. I hit this really interesting patch of mental clarity really early on in the fast, I’m like, wow, I’ve never really felt like this for this long before. It was like a walking functional meditation for seven days. Obviously I didn’t want to end it because I’ve never mentally been that clear. I didn’t work out at all, I just would ride the bike or walk, and I just ended up eating after 7 days because I was like, okay , people think Brian is nuts, like, “dude, you are withering away.”
I think I lost seven pounds of muscle. I was tracking in the InBody. My head was so clear that I remember sitting on the couch five days in and almost imagining a thought bubble come in, and it was a thought bubble of fear. It was very unattached fear- not the kind that really takes over physically. It was a separate bubble of, ‘dude, you should maybe eat, maybe you are losing too much muscle, maybe you are never going to get it back’. All that started happening, and I made a conscious deflection- you know what, we’ll do seven days, and whatever it is, it is, and we’ll start over. I can always build up muscle.
But that was a really life-changing moment where I was able to separate that idea of fear from the feeling of fear. So there was no feeling supporting or reinforcing it, it was literally like this bubble concept that was in the air, and I just decided not to feed it. I decided not to let that take over.
Angelo: It’s awesome. I fasted this year- I did three days.
Brian: Okay, yeah.
Angelo: We were home because one of the days was New Year’s Day. That was the only time that I could honestly say that it—it was New Year’s Day, there wasn’t anything to do, so I was just a little bored. When I woke up the second day though, I felt like a million bucks.
Brian: Yeah, if you can stay busy it’s even better. You get into really good flow state if it’s nice outside, way better. When it’s cold out you actually get really cold really fast. When it’s cold out even if you have the heat on I would be in my house with a jacket on. Even walking outside getting sunlight, walking, staying busy is huge- the longer the fast, the better. I think what it does is it kind of just brings you to this new baseline that we all have that has been junked up from feelings and thoughts, and all that, just shrinks it down to the bare minimum. Your body is using less energy because you are not digesting so a lot more, I would say, mental clarity comes from the energy that is not being used for the day to day, keeping you alive maintenance kind of stuff and it can go straight to the mind, right?
Angelo: Yeah. That’s one thing too, I think your gut felt the best it’s ever felt.
Brian: Yeah, for sure.
Angelo: You feel really good.
Brian: Once you get past hunger, and I don’t really feel hunger anymore when I fast, but once you get past the hunger, like there is just no hunger at all, you are wondering, why I’m I eating six square meals a day? This is crazy, especially if you keep all your muscle. After I finished the fast, the body scan said I lost seven pounds of muscle 5 days in. when I finished the fast the first time all I had was fish and avocado for four days. I don’t know why I did. I didn’t plan it, it was like intuitive.
I did my body scan four days after the fast was over and I gained eight pounds of muscle back. So I gained one more pound of muscle, and I was down nine pounds of fat. So, I was already pretty lean, but I lost every ounce of fat left on me, and I gained one pound of muscle overall. It was incredible that I didn’t eat cabs four days after I gained eight pounds of muscle back. There is this regenerative thing that happens with muscle, and I have to look for the scientific backup for this, but there is something when your body is creating more HTH after a fast, it was like, why is this muscle coming back plus a little bit more without cabs, just eating fish and avocado four days later or five days later? I’ve pretty much kept that physique since then.
Angelo: How do you do it, the first of the month or?
Brian: Usually the last Sunday of the month. I do anywhere from 3 to usually 10 tops, but usually 3 to 7. It’s a little more intuitive. I don’t like putting a hard number to it. If I’m fasting and a birthday party comes up for a friend or the kids I’ll just end it at four days, but I’ll never super build on it. I know I can go 10 days, so anything 3 or more is perfect for me.
Angelo: That’s awesome. What is it, just tea, coffee?
Brian: Yeah, tea, coffee. I do a mushroom supplement- it’s like a 7-blend of mushrooms: Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Reishi, all that stuff, just natural stuff. Nothing with fake sugar- I do either [inaudible 00:51:45] or bubbly.
Angelo: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. What does your wife think of your fasting?
Brian: She is super supportive. She doesn’t do it, but really supportive of literally everything I do. She knows that I need to experiment to fill out my map of the world. She is great about it. I’ll cook them dinners and breakfasts, and I’ll be fasting- as long as I’m taking care of the family it’s fine. She actually probably likes it better because it’s something that grounds me, like organic. It’s a monthly reset to get back to your base and life, and circumstances might add static to that base and jumble it up, and every month you have a chance to get right back to it. It’s a simple thing of just not consuming.
Angelo: Sure, it’s awesome.
Brian: So you are like me, where I think you like to experiment a lot. What have you been doing?
Angelo: What do I do? I do Jujitsu two days a week.
Angelo: I play basketball one day a week, what else do I do? I would say this Alpha Hippie course is a form of my creativity and all that.
Brian: Creative expression.
Angelo: Doing the podcast. I’m always kind of playing around with stuff. What I’ve noticed is it’s really good for me to do more physical play. Any of these things like the Jujitsu or the basketball they usually come in the middle of the day and it’s really nice for me. When I’m angry I want to be physical, and so I think it allows me to—I think when people are like, ‘you need to handle your anger’, it’s energy that needs to leave you. That’s like for me going to roll around and choke someone in Jujitsu that’s there for the same reason and safely, but it gets it out of me, where I could totally feel when I get angry, the first thing, I clench a fist. It’s what I was taught to do I guess, and how anger was modeled, so that’s what I know.
So, doing those things for me is really important, to do something physical like that. It just resets me. After that you would almost think I didn’t have the morning, it almost feels like a new day.
Brian: Nice, that’s awesome.
Angelo: I’ve been doing that. That’s really it.
Brian: It goes down to knowing yourself. You need to have tools to navigate your own world, so your physical outlet maybe my walk with audio and listening a lot to something.
Brian: It might accomplish the same thing for both of us, but it’s just different avenues to get there, right?
Angelo: Yeah. Let me ask you this, do you feel like because our parts of art Kolbe are extremes, do you feel like that would equal extreme choices?
Brian: I think that coupled with personality traits could, but it’s not just one factor, it’s factors combined.
I’m a Scorpio, that coupled with my 8 in Quick Start could definitely yield some more extreme choices. How we deal with risk and uncertainty is we thrive in that environment, but without proper, even cognitive context and experience, we will call that wisdom from maybe feeling we don’t have the cognitive wisdom, from experience and learning from it then yeah, I think we are bound to make mistakes because that’s the only way knowledge becomes wisdom is, by doing, failing, learning, and then adjusting, and that’s the conversion.
Angelo: Very smart.
Brian: You can read all the books in the world, but until you do it, and do it in real world, in reality and see did it work or did it not work and why, then it becomes wisdom.
Angelo: Yeah. It’s almost like feeling is understanding.
Angelo: You got to really get it.
Brian: Yeah, and some people are a little less extreme, so they could learn from other people’s mistakes. I know for a fact that it’s just not how I fill out a map of the world. I fill out the map of the world by experiencing, not by learning from somebody else. I have to learn from somebody else, and then go with my gut. I think our gut leads us to maybe situations to propel growth. Growth doesn’t come from succeeding- growth comes from failing, right?
Angelo: No doubt. I was telling Rocio, if we get into any sort of argument or there is a conflict it’s just waking you up to get better at something.
Brian: That’s all it is.
Angelo: When people are like, ‘oh, if they fight it’s bad,’ and I’m just thinking, no, it’s either showing us the things that we are working on are working, or they are not.
Angelo: How else do you get to stress-test this shit?
Brian: Yeah, for sure. Most people avoid that, any kind of confrontation and they begin growing apart, and apart, and apart because they are both avoiding that little blow up, when in reality it’s like inoculation where you just need that little by little, by little so it never blows up and gets to that point, so you are not too far apart.
Angelo: For sure. That’s how I look at it- apparently this is where we are at today, we’ve got to fix this. That’s it.
Brian: Yeah, imagine just being present, just being aware. I will say that all of my mistakes, biggest failures in life, are me ignoring my own inner voice and my own knowledge and wisdom, or me avoiding confrontation with other people. Literally every single thing in my life that’s ever gone wrong is a direct result of that. That was one of the biggest lessons and concepts that I was forced to dance with over the last three years is confrontation, tough conversations- do it now, don’t avoid. It’s like the Jordan Peterson analogy where you want to fight the dragon when it’s little, you don’t want to wait till the dragon is a big dragon to fight it. Just fight it when it’s little, it’s going to be way easier, right?
Angelo: Yeah, absolutely. So interesting, all this stuff. I let every guest that comes on the show define alpha hippie. So, what would you say is an alpha hippie?
Brian: What is an alpha hippie? My own biased unique lens would say it’s somebody who is wanting to better themselves as a principle and rule of life, not just a hobby or doubling in it, people that might be a little bit more into the philosophy of why things are the way they are, people with super strong work ethic. I don’t think there is a hard and tight mold for it, which is amazing because it could be somebody who is athletic, it could be somebody who is a mental Olympian- it could be many, many different things, somebody who is super spiritual. That’s why I love it- it’s encompassing, but there is some key principles that unite everybody or connect people, but it’s not tied to one specific archetype of person.
Angelo: Sure. It’s a good answer. Where could people find you and all of your amazing work?
Brian: Oh my gosh- the easiest way to find me is on illumineacademy.com.
If you are in Chicago you can go to CrossFit Illumine, but illumineacademy.com has some content on there, articles, it has the link to the Kolbe test hour-long counsel with me, which really dives into the results and what it means for you and your situation, your world, your relationships, all that. So it’s very customized and individualized.
Angelo: I love it. Alright, last question- we let everyone do this.
Brian: What have we got?
Angelo: If you had one word to be remembered by, what would it be?
Brian: Oh god, that’s tough. One word…
Angelo: Just one word.
Brian: You know, it sounds awfully corny, but just caring, that’s it- compassionate maybe, but caring.
Angelo: It’s not corny, it’s a good word.
Brian: Three years ago I would have said relentless, but even though I embody that I think what I want to be remembered by is something- what might be deemed as softer, but I think more important.
Angelo: It’s perfect. Thanks for being on the show.
Brian: Yeah, it’s been awesome.
Angelo: Thank you.
You’ve been listening to the Alpha Hippie podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Alpha Hippie Podcast everyone. Again, if you are enjoying the show, please subscribe and give us a rating on iTunes, my guest and I really appreciate the feedback. And if you are on Instagram, follow us at @thealphahippie to see what’s going on in our world, upcoming shows, and all our news. See you next time.
1:01:45 End of show.