On today’s show, I have Danny Lehr of Caffeine and Kilos.
We talk about his youth and how he was shaped to be an entrepreneur from a young age. We go deeper into how a weightlifting competition turned into Caffeine and Kilos, work-life balance, and Danny’s view on “the hustle”.
Enjoy the show,
I competed in my 1st weightlifting meet in August 2010, just a few weeks before my 26th birthday. I fell in love with the sport and competed in 25 weightlifting meets over the next 5 years.
In 2013, I founded Caffeine and Kilos with 2 of my friends. We had a vision of a company in the fitness industry that could help support athletes in the strength sports, and do so by making cool stuff that we wanted ourselves. In that same year, my beautiful wife gave birth to the 1st of our 2 children.
From 2014 to 2015 I made a correctional/instructional weightlifting video every week for 60 weeks. I call this project The Lifting Fix. Even though I no longer update it, all of the weekly videos are still up for free on YouTube and the website.
As Caffeine and Kilos crossed its 4th year in business, we started the Gas Station Cappuccino podcast. It’s a show about a little weightlifting, a little business, and a lot of general life stuff….mostly Dean and I just bantering back and forth.
Live, Work, Play & Hustle
Angelo: Danny Lehr, how are you brother?
Danny: I’m good, I’m good. How about yourself?
Angelo: I’m doing well my man. Thank you so much for joining me today, taking time out of your schedule.
Danny: Yeah man, absolutely. Glad to be here.
Angelo: Awesome. So for those of you that don’t know who Danny is, Danny is the owner of CrossFit Excel and he is also one of the founders of Caffeine and Kilos. So I have him on the show today to just talk to him about his journey. We were connected through mutual friends of Aaron Hines. If Aaron Hines recommends anybody I definitely want him on the show or them on the show. It’s all good. Tell me about you, just your life growing up, your youth and how you even wanted to open a CrossFit gym.
Danny: Yeah. My parents owned a business when I was a kid. My grandfather actually was extremely entrepreneurial. As a child he was extremely poor, like his parents actually at one point had to put him in foster care because they couldn’t afford to feed him. So it was kind of crazy like that type of thing. [Inaudible 00:02:05] in California and then just always kind of had businesses going at a plumbing company which turned into an air conditioning business, and my parents were running that when I was a kid.
So I grew up with my dad, like going down to the shop after hours and getting stuff done and different things. So I always kind of knew that that was something I was interested in. But then I kind of took the standard path through high school and parents always had me playing sports and staying active. I had a desire for fitness and health and that type of thing, just athletics. Then I was teaching PE and I always knew that I wanted to do something business wise.
I just didn’t know kind of what it would be or when the opportunity came up or whatever and that’s kind of what got me into—well then I started doing CrossFit and started kind of looking around for any local affiliates, and this was in like 2007. There weren’t a whole lot around, and there was a guy who had just started one right by me, nearby me, and he was like in adjacent town I should say. He was actually PE teacher also.
Anyway, we started talking and then I got in to that right away, like within the first year the gym was open and that was CrossFit Excel. So that’s kind of how that whole thing started. Then as I was doing that, basically that started getting busy and then Caffeine and Kilos, and I started getting busy and now I haven’t been teaching for a couple of years now. So it’s all in on business between the gym and Caffeine and Kilos and that whole thing. It’s kind of a 30,000ft view I guess.
Angelo: Yeah, that’s like your whole life in 20 seconds.
Danny: Yeah, exactly.
Angelo: I would imagine too being a PE teacher you were probably—I know you said you don’t do it much but coaching CrossFit and being a PE teacher was probably just a very natural progression.
Danny: Yeah. So, I was teaching PE and I loved it man, like seriously, like I thought—I kind of loved it. I loved every single day. I’ve always liked people, I like being around people, and so if you teach in a high school they are just little people, you know. I didn’t have any discipline problems, if you are just nice to kids and you have set expectations people meet them, it’s pretty simple there. Then I coached wrestling as well. Between coaching wresting and teaching PE going into coaching CrossFit was a natural fit.
I think a lot of people when they go—when they start doing CrossFit or something they are interested in like going to the next level or getting their level one or training people or whatever there is a pretty steep learning curve, like if you don’t know shit about anatomy and you are trying to learn how to train somebody I imagine that would be very difficult.
But because I have a degree in kinesiology and then also a Master’s degree in education, like I knew how to get information across to people because of my education degree and then I know the human body because the kinesiology degree and all the physiology of exercise.
00:05:03 So it was absolutely a natural fit.
Angelo: Yeah, that makes complete sense. So you have your gym, at this point it’s 10 years now, since you started Caffeine and Kilos it was around the 5th or 6th year?
Danny: Yeah. Caffeine and Kilos started in 2013, so I’ve been doing the gym thing for about five or six years at that point.
Angelo: At that point was the gym already going, already sustaining itself in this and you were just looking for something else to do, how did that even come to be for you?
Danny: Caffeine and Kilos was an accident of course. That’s the whole thing, the gym was going well but I had a couple of business partners and like I said, one of the other guys was a PE teacher, the other guy had a full time job, but we had some really good coaches, we had a lot of faith in it. So I coached a couple of classes a week and the business was rolling pretty good.
It was totally self-sustaining and we were getting a little bit of money from it, whatever, but just it was really kind of a hobby as much as anything. I always wanted to do a little more with it and knew we could push a little further but at that time with three people and everyone is just a little different situation, right, different visions and that type of thing. I had friends who owned a CrossFit gym who just called me up because he knew I was competing in weight lifting, Olympic weight lifting at a relatively high level, so he knew that I had a lot of connections in the weight lifting scene.
He said, ‘’Hey man, I want to hold the biggest weight lifting meet in the country, like I want to get former Olympians lifting, and I want to get basically to the top lifters”. I said, “Okay man, that’s like really an interesting idea getting previous Olympians and that type of thing but what does this look like in real life?” So we just kind of talked about what that would look like in real life, like what’s the closest thing to that vision that we could actually do?
That was just hosting a weight lifting meet that actually gave cash prices and that would draw big audience and that type of thing. As we were talking about that and that basically kind of morphed into the Caffeine and Kilos, like we’ll sell some apparel there and then the name Caffeine and Kilos we should make our own coffee and have our own coffee at this meet. It basically turned into like this almost as one day fitness festival, and then that kind of accidentally turned into a company.
It was basically just—there’s an opportunity, we said, okay, let’s do this, let’s get a venue, and we get the venue and then it’s like, let’s get these lifters, we get the lifters out and people signed up and then everyone loved the concept and wanted the shirts and stuff, so we started selling the shirts. We started selling them online, then we send them out to our friends who were competing in CrossFit or weight lifting and power lifting and everyone loved them.
As opportunities presented themselves we just kept taking on the next one, and then next thing you know it’s a year down the line and our revenue shot up and we are selling more shirts and coffee and everything, you can imagine, you know.
Angelo: Yeah. I wanted to ask you this, from the story too—I know I’ve heard it in different podcasts, you were going to do a competition, you threw the CrossFit’s side so you could get the money to pay the lifters and it all kind of came to be because there wasn’t any money for it. It sounds like Caffeine and Kilos like you said was an accident, but when did you realize that this was something to start taking serious?
Danny: The event was going to be in September and we started, we like booked the venue and stuff, it was like beginning of June or maybe in late May. We had like 10 weeks, so guys were pretty crunched for time. Basically we just announced that we were going to do it and we just got this huge swell of support of people who were really interested and liked the concept, they wanted a shirt and they wanted all these different things.
That’s when I was like, oh shit, I think this is something. We were just people who were in the market, like I owned a gym, Charlie owned a gym, Dean was competing in CrossFit at that time, and he is the one who has kind of the eye for fashion and design and that type of stuff. All of us we were just—we were again, part of the community, and so it was just kind of a natural fit. So that’s when we decided well, people really want this stuff and people start with—we got a website up and started selling online and people started buying. It’s crazy the way it just took off.
Angelo: It’s like you are reading my notes for things I could ask you about. My next question was this; how did you guys make it, or what was it that—how it really took off and the athletes started wearing it, and who’s the marketing, or how did that even come to be?
Danny: A big part of it for us is we were not and still are not some big company that’s trying to sell stuff to people. We were people from within the community.
00:10:01 So one, with the weight lifting meet we are getting these weight lifters out, they are the best in the country because we are going to pay them cash price and because they are friends of mine.
I was weight lifting for California Strength one of the more popular teams in the country, weight lifting at the national level, so I was friends with the top lifters in the country, and so we just kind of gave them some stuff. Like they are coming out and are going to do the meet so in the meantime it’s like, “well, here’s some stuff you want to wear”. So we got these big social influencer swell just from our friends. It wasn’t trying to find influence, it was just people we knew that we were friends with, that we had relationships with who happened to be extremely popular.
Then the same thing in CrossFit, because I had been doing CrossFit since 2007 and one of my co-founders had been doing CrossFit since 2008or 2009, somewhere around there. We had been in it before kind of a real big uptake, so around that time 2013 we figured that’s one or two years after this big push, and since even before that—again, we just knew people in the community just from doing our level ones and stuff back when there weren’t five of them every single weekend.
There was like one a weekend or a couple a month or something. So kind of we used to know some people there from the beginning and just had those relationships with people. So that’s kind of how the whole thing whole thing went down, when you are in the community and you are just friends with people who are influential. I think that is true for every community. I’ve talked to other people about this, say whatever, like pick something, another community, another market, like if you’ve been doing it for five or six years I’m willing to bet that you know somebody, at least one person you know at a personal level who is at the top in that community or is extremely popular in that community.
You do things long enough and you hand around enough and you are just going to meet people over time and some of those people are going to rise the ranks. So that’s kind of the position we were in.
Angelo: When did you guys really like sit down and go okay, this is our vision now, we really have something, this is going to be a company, how did that come to be and what was that plan like?
Danny: Once we kind of started getting a little success here we just kind of sat down, like this is a real thing, we need to make sure—we had kind of prepared for it, like we knew ahead of time before we were in a competition. We had already formed LLC and that type of stuff because we knew things were happening so we are going to make this straight as the real thing.
But then when it really started taking off we said, alright, we have an opportunity here and obviously it resonates with people or resonates with us, it was something we liked, so then we sat down and, okay, what is this? What does this look like? Where do we want to go with this? What do we want to do? That’s kind of how the whole thing just went from there. Like I said, it kind of happened an accident as far it was just a meet event, but as soon as we got all inkling that it was going to take off more we sat down and alright, are we going to do this or not basically.
Angelo: What is your role in the company?
Danny: Currently I’m the CEO. There’s two or three, even if you found it together you just do everything, right?
Danny: Everyone does everything, over time things kind of spread out a little more and different stuff. I am currently CEO.
Angelo: Okay. For you now too with your businesses it seems like the two that you’ve had you’ve had partners, and I know some people are pro-partners, some people are con-partners. Obviously it sounds like you are a pro, but like what is your take on that?
Danny: Well, it’s interesting. Actually in both businesses the ownership has changed. I had a really interesting six months of my life where the ownership and the gym changed and then three months later the ownership in Caffeine and Kilos changed, and then like a month after that we had a baby. It was like there was a lot going on, but it was good. They were all positive changes. In the gym there is three of us, the other two guys actually both stepped away and then a guy who was our head trainer and always kind of wanted in he actually got in so we are partners now.
Then in Caffeine and Kilos one of the founders left and so it’s me and the other founder left- just to kind of clear that up. Pro or con, I’m pro. I think it’s great because I would imagine when you are in something all by yourself there’s definitely the benefits where like for example you make every single decision and everything is just like that, but that’s also one of the downsides. Sometimes you want to bounce things off of somebody, not just bouncing off of somebody, but somebody who actually has some skin in the game.
00:15:07 If you are going to ask other people their opinion or something and everyone can have one, everyone will have one, but giving an opinion when you actually have nothing at stake is entirely different than giving an opinion when it really matters to somebody. I think there’s that. Also three people is cool because when there’s just two people, if you are both 50-50 and there’s two of you, if you are really butting heads on something that can be tough.
For the most part Dean and I have a good understanding, like if he knows that I really, really fucking want something or feel a certain way even if he is convinced I’m wrong he is just kind of like, “alright man we’ll try it”. I do the same thing, if he’s really sold that something needs to happen or needs to be done a certain way even if I disagree you can just kind of feel it, if this person is set on this it’s like, alright, let’s give it a go because you expect that same thing.
With that being said, three people makes it really easy because the other two really feel one way and you don’t then that’s just kind of that, there’s not a whole lot of push back. It can be negative also if you are convinced of something is the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do and the other two are not you really have kind of no recourse there. Whereas if it’s you and one other person it’s a little easier to kind of really get that opinion heard.
Danny: It’s important you have a good working relationship, respect each other and give the other person a little leash even if you disagree sometimes.
Angelo: That’s a good point.
Danny: It’s like being married man.
Angelo: Yeah, that’s what it sounds like. But also too like for you, what is your strength? Like what would you say is your genius in all of your business life?
Danny: I really like solving problems and figuring things out. That’s just something I’ve always enjoyed and that’s something—anytime we are doing business it better be something that you have some ability to do. But that’s just kind of what I do really well as solutions to issues and then just kind of like ideation of that.
One of my previous business partners he had these crazy ideas that were not realistic at all but so then what I would do is would take what his thought was and basically like, okay, what does this look like in real life? Like what is the closest we can get to this that is absolutely possible or what could be possible out of this idea, then basically finding the way to make that happen. That’s kind of what I do, what I do best.
For example now with products, if there is a new product we want to make or we want to use or something but we have no idea where we get it made out, like where do we find a factory that can produce this, and what are the numbers that are going to be good enough towards profitable and all those types of things, that’s something that I would just take on basically.
Okay, we want to do this product then I’d find where we could get it done and talk to different people and then figure out like is it actually something that could be profitable for us and then do financial modeling on that to see if it would be feasible. That’s where it’s at. In the gym it’s the same thing, we are going to launch entirely new program, I’m like, okay, how many people do we need in that program, how much do we have to charge for it, does it even make sense to our current schedule, just basically working out the details around, like the solutions to different ideas or problems.
Angelo: How did you realize that that was your strength?
Danny: It’s just what I’ve always done.
Danny: It’s just something that by default I would just always do. There would be some sort of an issue or an idea and we are like, okay, how could this be real? It’s one of those things. I’ve always been this way. Once I kind of sink my teeth to an idea then I have a problem letting go of it until I either figure out how it’s done or figure out that it either can’t be or whatever. That’s always what I wanted to process because you don’t want to give up on stuff. Anyways, that’s just one of those things where I just kind of always did it and then over time I realized that’s kind of what my role is.
Angelo: Sure. Do create the ideas, or do you need the ideas?
Angelo: Okay, so you do sometimes?
Danny: Yeah, and as you do—what I found is as I do more things in business you have more ideas, you see things differently.
00:20:06 It’s just like if you take an art class you are going to see things differently. Like I’m now learning photography a little bit, and so when I look just walking around I see differently. You see lighting in certain things, you see the way that different trees and whatever thing is framed, different objects. You just see things differently because you are learning how to do photography. It’s the same shit with business. The more you do business the more you kind of learn what works and what doesn’t, and what could work and how things work, and different financial models and all that type of stuff.
So then when you hear ideas or you see things other companies are doing or you see an advertisement or you see a product or a service or whatever—I’ll see something and it’s like, oh shit, that will spark an idea of something we can do in one of my companies or something that—and then would that actually work for us or would it not work for us and those types of things. Or just looking at what are the biggest problems, like what is our biggest expense, how could we get that down or what would be another way to increase revenue on certain things?
Those types of things usually come through—you just have to be at a certain degree, you just have to be sensitive to things around you. If you see something going on just relate, how could that affect my business or whatever? Does that answer your question?
Angelo: That helps. What got you into photography?
Danny: Everybody I work with knows how to use a fucking camera except for me. I’ve never been, and this is funny too, it’s like a total mindset thing, but I’ve never been very artistic. I was always really good at math and that’s why I think the problem solving kind of comes around that too, like that’s just how I’ve always been or what I excelled at early on, and something you focus on, the things you are good at and that whole type of thing but as far as being good in math and problem solving and stuff.
But then my mother in law is actually a very, very talented artist. So my wife and I started doing—we’d go on vacations, we’d go to museums and stuff because my wife liked doing that stuff and I started to get into art and appreciating it more and everything. Like I said at Caffeine and Kilos Dean my business partner is a fantastic photographer, like he is actually really good. So I always thought, oh, that’s not me, like I’m not really good at that type of stuff.
Then I hired another guy who is marketing for us and this guy can use a fucking camera, I got to figure this out. So Dean shoots films sometimes still, and so I was like, ‘hey, I kind of want to learn’. Then we hired a guy to do video stuff for us and we actually bought an online of photography. It has like 100 lessons of this online course just so he could get better. So then I’m like, man, I shout take that course.
So Dean convinced me, I actually bought an old film camera that’s like 40 years old, but it’s like the original SLR. So I got that, and then I’ve been watching these videos that we already had for someone else and so I figured I might as well learn. The cool thing is you totally do learn. Like for me, someone who’s never been “artistic” all of a sudden you start learning. It’s like anything, it’s like what people find attractive and why and different like I said shadows and shading and framing of things, and just different things.
Anyway, it’s been fun man. I’ve only been doing it for like a month or two but I got my first couple of roles back and I was shocked, I was like, wow, I never thought that I could have taken that picture.
Angelo: What do you usually like to shoot?
Danny: Like I said, it’s only been a couple of months but I got kids. I have a five year old and a one year old. It’s fun obviously because they look different to you than everybody else which is kind of a weird thing, but this course that guy really talks about a lot. He really sees photography as—it’s capturing a moment. That’s what it is, like you are freezing time basically. Sometimes there’s stuff that’s cool whatever, that’s just there but I like it when there is things that change.
So either moving objects or even if shadows are a certain way that’s cool because you come back an hour later it’s going to look different. So I really like just capturing things that if you go back to that same sport it’s not going to be the same as the picture I took. I like that idea of capturing a moment that’s gone when it’s gone, which is kind of weird as that’s how everything is. Like really, once everything is done it’s over with so being able to capture that is cool.
Angelo: That’s awesome, that’s a great way to explain photos.
Angelo: It’s awesome. How do you manage your day? I know a lot of people are about productivity and time management, so tell me about your day; family, photography, all you got going on.
Danny: I get up early, and I think that’s a big part of—I wake up at 4:30 every morning. Basically I get up at 4:30 and I’m working like down, computer is out, like working, working before 5 o’clock, right around 5 o’clock. Because kids get up at between 7 and 7:30, so I got a couple of hours there in the morning. I just basically hammer down on any education stuff I need to do or creative stuff I need to do, all that, I get done kind of first thing.
So I knock all that out and then once that kind of rolls around—some days I have meetings I actually like to do like breakfast meetings, so like 8 o’clock to get that shit done too, sorry, actually at like 7. So some days I’ll meet someone for breakfast at 7 o’clock and then head off, other days once the kids are up I’ll just stay so we eat and then bounce out of here.
I’m out of the house by 7 or 8 every morning and then a couple of days a week I head up to, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays I head up to the Caffeine and Kilos warehouse and I’m there all day, Friday through Monday I just kind of work from wherever. I work from home or work from the gym or work from wherever. I normally work until about 4 or so, head home family dinner 4 o’clock. That’s it.
Some days a week I head back to the gym, I catch a weight lifting class one night or yoga, or gymnastics one night, that type of stuff. I’m home every night for dinner at 5 and that’s mostly the end of my work day. My wife actually, she’s a nurse, she works a couple of nights a week, two nights a week. Usually the nights she works, when she is gone and the kids are in bed I’ll usually hammer out another hour or two at work or two of work because I’m just there anyway, and I’d rather do that than watch TV, you know.
Angelo: For you it sounds like for lack of better—because everybody has different definitions of it, you have a balanced life, and a lot of what you see on social media and stuff is people encouraging people to work 12 or 14 hours a day and sleep 6 hours and all these stuff. I think that’s ridiculous, but that’s my opinion. It sounds like you follow somewhat of a similar idea. So what is your take on that idea of hustling?
Danny: There’s a season to everything and life [inaudible 28:03], and there’s times when shit is crazy and days are busier and things are going on. Then there’s times where you have little woes, and during those times you need to enjoy it. It’s true, you really notice it especially when you have kids and it’s like, they are getting older every single day and you need to appreciate that.
It’s actually something I work on, I’m working on now. For example one thing I’m really trying to do is basically form like 5 to 7 pm I’m putting my phone face-down on the counter away from me, because it’s so easy to—maybe I don’t look at it while we are eating dinner but then dinner is over, and we are just playing with the kids or whatever, getting ready before they go to bed.
It’s easy to just like sneak a peek at your phone, well then of course there’s some text message or whatever. Someone sent me a message or something or a missed call or whatever that may seem urgent or maybe like, oh, this will only take me a minute to do, and then there’s that type of thing. The next thing you know you look up and it’s 30 minutes later and I’m are ignoring my kids who I haven’t seen all day, and that’s not something I want to be doing.
The simple fact of the matter is I don’t feel there is anything that could possibly happen that would be—that couldn’t wait an hour especially once it’s 6 o’clock at night. No one is really expecting you necessarily to be immediately available. So it’s an ongoing process, and it’s actually why I quit teaching. When I was teaching Caffeine and Kilos was starting, I would do the same routine, I basically worked from 5:00am to like 7:00am, and then I would go and I’d teach from 7 to 3 o’clock and then I’d go and coach class at my gym, go home eat dinner and then basically then work.
Once kids are in bed at 7 I would work from 7 at night until like 9 or 10 at night every night.
00:30:00 So you are working in a regular job and also working 5 or 6 hours outside of that on something else. Honestly that’s fine in bursts, like if it’s like, well, this thing is just starting you are getting off the ground whatever, but that’s not a sustainable model. I think that sort of thing about you need to hustle and work hard and work these 10, 12 hours, well, you know what, I don’t think that’s totally ridiculous, but I do think that’s sort of ridiculous as a long term plan.
If you are starting something brand new or starting seasons again, like if something is going on, it busy time of the year, that might be what it takes. Saying like I would never do that I think you are going to hinder yourself a little bit because I do think that if you do it the right way you can get a little more [static 00:30:49] but it needs to be—you need to have a long-term solution. That’s kind of where I’m at.
Angelo: No, I agree.
Danny: When you think about it, I mean, shit—if I work every morning 5 to 7am and that’s 7 days a week, it’s like, oh shit, that’s 14 hours a week before 7am right there and you need to put in a regular 8-hour days. You accidentally work 65 hours that week but it doesn’t affect your outside life too. There’s ways where you can go a little extra here and get some stuff done there and do what you need to do.
Angelo: I would agree. I think maybe it needs to be worded a little bit better that it’s a short-term thing.
Danny: Yeah, that’s 100% it. Anybody who thinks that’s what they are going to do for the rest of their life that’s not practical.
Angelo: As far as for you—you mentioned about turning off the phone and being more present with your family, what about as far as like your work career, what has been some of your bigger challenges that you faced and you had to overcome personally or as a person and professionally with your businesses?
Danny: There have been times especially—I’ll say when we go through those ownership changes. That was very interesting. There’s three of us and one guy is leaving and so then there’s always the other two, there’s some discussion of it forehand. If one guy is leaving of course it’s natural to have the thought like, oh, do I still want to do this even if it’s only—you immediately say yes still there’s going to be those thoughts obviously.
There’s kind of that whole thing working through that and then it’s like, okay, I definitely want to stick around. Well, then, what does that look like as far as the other person’s exit? Then we’ve had some offers of people who come in and want to possibly buy the company and those types of things, so then you’ve got to take a hard look at things as far as, is this what you want to do and is now the right time? All of those things affect your personal life in ways you wouldn’t notice.
If you are thinking about these things and you are kind of engulfed in these major decisions sometimes you are just not there, you are checked out a little bit. I’m at my home, I’m here, we are playing with the kids, my wife’s over there and you are just not even there, you are just kind of thinking about those different things.
When I do feel that way, overwhelmed by something or I’m working through certain decisions it’s just communicating that with other people too, like tell my wife, “hey, look, I’ve got a lot of shit going on right now, I’m really stressed out about this, if it seems like I’m kind of checked out a little bit, that’s what’s going on”. She is pretty good about understanding. Same thing with the business partners, go up to them too—communication I guess is the answer, because with both my business partners that’s the same thing too.
If you feel like someone else is doing something that’s not right or you don’t like the way they are doing something, or if you are just like thinking about a decision that you are going to make or that the company should make, you’ve got to fucking tell people. I think people are afraid to say—because it’s like, well, what if I decide not to make that decision whatever. In the meantime the other person knows what’s up, they know something’s going on, they just don’t know what it is.
It’s like if the shoe is on the other foot you know the other person is distracted or seems particularly stressed out would you want to know why? Of course you would. I think that’s a big thing just learning to communicate with people that matter and not be, or feel like you have to take everything on your own. I think that’s a part of being an entrepreneur, it’s you are so used to solving problems and figuring things, and the next step is that you are in your head with these things a lot.
It’s like realizing it’s like no man, you need to let in people that are important to you, let them know what’s going on.
Angelo: Let me ask you this, because this is a question maybe something I have a challenge with too is, how do you know the difference between sweating the small stuff and it’s being time to communicate?
Danny: Well, shit man, I don’t know. I think it’s just kind of one of those things—I’ll tell you what, if you are thinking about it—if you feel like you can’t just make a decision—it’s basically gone to your head, and you have five seconds to make a decision, if five seconds later you are still like, man but what if, well then you should probably tell someone what’s up or just kind of like, you know it’s obviously distracting to you where it’s like, hey man right now you have to fucking decide, you have to decide go, go.
It’s like if you say something whatever just comes out, whatever pops out, if you can live with that answer then it’s probably not a big deal. You are probably worrying about something that you don’t really need to be worrying about. Also there’s the thing too of realizing when you are constantly getting out of track and acknowledging that and be like, oh man, I’m probably thinking about this. That’s a big thing too, it just learning to be present, acknowledging when you are distracted. Even just acknowledging to yourself when you are being distracted by something has a big impact.
Angelo: I like your analogies, I like the extreme analogies. Gun to your head, what do you do?
Danny: What do you do?
Angelo: I think it’s perfect. That’s it. That’s terrific. What’s the future for Caffeine and Kilos like? What’s your vision now? What are you trying to do the next whatever, 3, 5 years?
Danny: Cool. Right now we are working on a couple of different things, one is where we are at in the weight lifting and CrossFit space as well just working getting a little more of an international presence. We ship things all over the world every single day, but just building that more, just putting a little more infrastructure in place and just really making it more convenient for our international audience, being able to lower prices for them as far as shipping and all that type of stuff, and just reaching out to those audiences more.
That’s one thing we have a current focus on, something we are working on. Then also it’s just, with the things we are doing, just doing actually fewer things better, I guess, would be one way to put it. Maybe not fewer things better but yeah, that’s a fair way to put it. Basically for a while we were caught up in this like we were releasing things often but smaller, like one thing here, one thing there, and we would do that all the time, week after week. Little things about that get lost in the shuffle.
Lately we’ve been really concentrating on just the things that we do, just really making sure the things we do are fucking dialed in. If that means doing fewer things or paring things up, strategically paring things up in order to really kind of get behind things better then that’s what we’ve been doing. So really it’s just continually improving on what we do and also a little more of an international push. That’s what we’ve got going at Caffeine and Kilos right now, yeah.
Angelo: That’s great. This question maybe it’s off the topic, but I want to know this because I feel like you would have a good answer to it; in the business world and coaching athletes and stuff like that they are trying to get sponsored all the time, and people are getting sponsored and they want to get that, what goes into sponsoring an athlete from your perspective?
Danny: Everybody is different, different companies are different, but for us a few things. One, we want people that we actually have relationships with. I don’t care how popular you are if you are just some guy or some girl and I don’t know you, not that I have to know you right now, but if there’s no something there, if I’m not drawn to want to get to know you, there’s not some sort of a basis of an actual relationship there.
That’s one thing if you are an athlete with these companies, you need to form relationships, start talking to people. Reach out to people instead of just sending a message asking for shit, like talk to them, get involved and form a relationship there. That’s important. Also just the way people present themselves is important and we also really look for people who either are actually having success in whatever sport they are doing or at least are on the rise.
That’s kind of for us different things. I think the biggest aspect to that is a relationship and someone who you are proud to represent the company.
Angelo: That’s awesome.
Danny: It’s funny, like those are two things that I bet athletes overlook.
00:40:00 Most of the time if there is someone and they are trying to get sponsored you know what they are doing? It’s they are trying to fucking get more followers, they are trying—whatever, stuff like that. They are trying to play this game and it’s like no man. Obviously a big social following is going to help you as long as you have good engagement—like now it is, if you want somebody like whatever, Instagram, you want some of the 100,000 followers on Instagram, it’s fucking dime a dozen.
I bet you could go right now and you find someone on Instagram who has 100,000 followers and even getting engaged in actual followers but that’s not necessarily—and they’ll be—I’d rather have somebody with whatever 50 or 60 thousand followers but who’s on the rise, is going to have success in their sport, is a good person, believes in what they are doing, I have a relationship with them or I trust them and I’m proud for them to represent the company and they are proud to represent the company.
Like all those things you are going to get mileage out of than somebody who’s just trying to get followers just to get followers and he is doing it just to do it. I want people who are chasing a dream that is not getting sponsored. But if your dream is getting sponsored good luck, hopefully that works out for you. I have no desire for that.
Angelo: That’s perfect. I really think too, like you said, how many athletes are thinking about that first aspect, like making a relationship? But I think most of them are worried about how many followers they have. It’s a good insight.
Danny: If you are an athlete you just need to worry about two things; you need to worry about fucking winning, and you need to worry about relationships. Like I said, be good at your sport and form relationships by actually caring about people and that type of thing. That’s going to get way more out of that.
Angelo: You seem so like even keeled and wise, is there anything that you equate that to, or how did you develop that?
Danny: No one has ever told me—no one in my life has ever called me even keeled or wise.
Danny: I don’t know.
Angelo: What part I’m I missing then?
Danny: It’s funny actually, man, I was [inaudible 00:42:21] like—I quit wrestling for like 10 years and I’ve really calmed down the last 5 or so years. It’s kind of been since I quit coaching I think but not yelling at kids every day. When I say that it’s not like I yell just to yell, I just really fucking wanted to win and I knew what it would take, so you had to push people to do certain things.
I really believe in getting better, and so I think that might be the answer. I really believe that in every single aspect of my life I want to get better all the time. There is nothing I currently do that I am complacent with how well I do it. I think that’s important for people to have that, have that drive. So as part of that I’m a big believer in educating yourself, a big believer in reading, I read every single day.
I’m always taking some sort of an online course with something, trying to get better at different things. My daughter is taking piano lessons and so I’m sitting there during her lessons and we go home and I’m like, fuck, why don’t we just hang out another half an hour and I can learn, I’m already here. It’s things like that. I’m just always trying to get better. I’m always trying to learn. I’m always trying to get better at everything, better at business, be a better father, better relationships, better at communicating.
I think that’s important, I think that if you are striving to be better in every aspect of your life all the time you are going to learn some shit along the way, right?
Angelo: Yeah, absolutely. I take piano lessons.
Danny: Oh, hell yeah.
Danny: Yeah. How long have you been doing it?
Angelo: When was it, maybe October? October 2017, so it’s almost a year at this point.
Danny: I started in March. I think my daughter started closer like January, February. Like I said I would go in there and I used to ask them, ‘hey, can you teach the adults?” This one kid’s grandma and then my mother-in-law, and I was like, oh, so everyone is like under 10 or over 55? She’s like, “Yeah”. It’s like, you want one 33 year old? She’s like, “yeah, fuck it, let’s do it”. It’s fun.
Angelo: It’s amazing. When you do it well, like when you finally get it right one of the best feelings in the world.
Danny: You know what I like about it? A couple of things; one is, most people just don’t do this, don’t start—and this one that I really wanted to do it is as an adult when’s the last time you started something and you knew you would be bad at it?
00:45:03 You know what I mean? Like doing something you are awful at and as an adult most people just don’t. Like you have the things you can do and you do them and you don’t really learn new stuff because there is that fear of not being good at something or just like why would you? Or you’ll do it eventually. I don’t have time for any of that shit. I actually started it because I knew I’d be bad at it. I want to start and be fucking awful at something, and then what do you know, a couple of months you get better.
It’s cool because very tangible, like I couldn’t do this three days ago, now I can. I love seeing that progress and I love learning new things. I like music, it’s doing some blast. That’s really cool that you just started too. How old are you?
Angelo: I’m 34.
Danny: Fuck, I got a jump on you.
Angelo: I was hanging out with my wife and I was like, man, I want to be that guy one day where we are at a party and there is like this grand piano and everybody just has their drinks on them and I just sit down, go play a song and then we just walk out, we don’t even make eye contact with people. I want to be that couple.
Danny: You don’t even have time to fucking mic drop. Mic drop, what are you talking—dude, who has got time for a mic drop? I’m fucking out.
Angelo: That’s it I did it. I told her and I just started taking lessons because I was like, for that moment you are the coolest fucking dude on earth, and that’s why I did it.
Danny: That’s it. I actually said I needed one song, obviously you are good enough but I want to play one, like not super impressive, like a relatively—you sing one that you are fucking great at. That’s it dude. Dean actually suggested a Christmas song, he is like, you just need to hammer a Christmas song because dude buddy, you’ve got four months out of the year basically, like November through really the end of January, if you sit down and hammer out a Christmas song do a good job with it, you are king shit.
Angelo: That’s awesome.
Danny: I’m like, “I think you are on to something there”.
Angelo: It’s interesting you say that too about learning yourself because I think as adults sometimes we forget, when you have such a big margin to learn it’s so easy to improve because you suck at it, you just really suck. It’s like layup success.
Danny: It’s funny too because something like that, and when you are starting absolutely from scratch like buy an intro book you start from the fucking foundations book. Like I said dude, it happens so quick early on. Something you’ve been doing a long time the more advanced style, the progress definitely slows. So yeah you take, get it while the getting’s good.
Angelo: Yeah, absolutely.
Danny: Relate that to training, that’s why I fucking hate it when people are trying to squat with chains and they’ve been training for like six months. I’m like, “dude what are you doing? You are wasting it, just squat man”. You will make massive gains with squatting with 135 pounds right now, why fuck with chains? They sound cold, it was like wait two years.
Angelo: For sure. You lift five pounds a week for the next six months, just enjoy your life.
Danny: [Inaudible 00:48:13] that there….
Angelo: It’s perfect, don’t worry.
Danny: It’s like you are in a fucking round of [inaudible 00:48:21] accident for the next three years. You just enjoy that, okay. Just enjoy that.
Angelo: That’s awesome man, very good. Question I ask every guest that comes on the show, what does the Alpha Hippie means to you?
Danny: I think the Alpha Hippie is someone who believes in doing the right thing regardless of consequences and takes a stand for that. It’s not just believes in doing the right thing but does the right thing regardless of consequences, treats people the right way and takes a stand for those things.
Angelo: That’s awesome, very good. I like that answer. Sometimes people have the answers right off the bat, I’m like, man, this is really well thought. This is great. Where could people find you?
Danny: Check out caffeineandkillos.com or me personally it’ Instagram is the best drop there, its danny_lehr, l-e-h-r.
Angelo: Awesome. We’ll put that in the notes as well for everyone. Last question if you had one word to be remembered by, just one word, what would it be?
Danny: Oh man, I don’t know one phrase, one word, kind, I guess kind. I just really believe, I really believe in doing the right thing and treating people the right way. I don’t ever want to be in a position or put someone else in a position where they can look at something I did and feel like I was trying to fuck someone over.
00:50:02 I would never do that. So I don’t know what one word describes that, but I’m really a big believer in just fucking doing the right thing and treating people the right way. That’s it.
Angelo: That’s awesome man. Thank you for making time today and being on the show. I really appreciate you.
Danny: Yeah, thanks for having me man, I had a good time.