The Power Of Journaling with Aaron Jannetti of Endeavor Defense & Fitness

Today we have Aaron Jannetti from Endeavor Defense and Fitness. We get into the power and practice of journaling as a tool to develop our minds, the simple things that hold most coaches back from loving their coaching business, and how to take advantage of everyday opportunities that most people miss. Enjoy the show.

Table Of Contents

The Power Of Journaling

The Power Of Journaling
Photographer: Aaron Burden | Source: Unsplash

Aaron Jannetti: So we would come in and we usually just shoot the shit for 30 minutes to an hour, or sometimes an hour and a half, decompressing from the week, talking about what we’ve learned or grown or whatever. So I’m getting first hand like, “Man, this journaling exercise fucked me up,” or, “Oh, man, do you know that they want you to schedule me time first?” That was an amazing week, to have that discussion.

So it was a lot of fun because the things that were going through his mind through the coaching course, through Strong Coach, we then would kind of walkthrough and like okay, how am I viewing this from that aspect of it? But then for me, not knowing what you guys are talking about, we’d be able to walk down that path.

So that was fascinating. That was a lot of fun to watch. I know language is always the biggest one. His language has changed completely. Mine has changed completely. Then the way he secures and protects his time now from somebody that’s as close to him and sees it… Obviously not as close as Chelsea, but it’s very obvious and it’s very impactful from my imagination.

Mike: Yeah. It’s hard to be effective if your boundaries are nonexistent or you don’t actually protect your boundaries, let people walk all over them.

Aaron Jannetti: And I’m waiting for week three because that’s going to be a fun journey for me personally. But to get back to where we were at, so the sacrifice and settling thing, I had told Danny, “Hey, man, I would have fronted the bill that I fronted for this for that exercise. You could have been like, “Here’s your one exercise,” and I would have been like boom, that was… The realizations that came out of that were pretty fascinating for me.

Essentially the two that came out of that was really powerful… So growing up, father wasn’t present as much, alcohol issues, psychologically and physically abusive. So you can start to imagine that picture. Everybody knows somebody in that category.

Growing up, my mom worked her ass off to give us everything that we needed and pay for whatever we needed, and I obviously had this huge admiration for her sacrificing everything she had to do to make sure we were taken care of, and I was aware of that.

What was interesting was to have to put her and the stories and lessons I learned and the admiration I learned for her directly next to the story with my father. Now you look back at every interaction I had with my father that I remember was a business transaction. It was I’m buying you this truck and in return I want you to be loyal to me and not your mother. I’m going to pay for this quarter of college and I want to because your mother is trash and I’m not.

So I always envisioned that. And this, to this point, there was no awareness to this until this journaling exercise of how these two correlated. So the story I was telling myself for a very long time it’s admirable to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. It just shows how much you care about something, and business is sleazy.

So my view around asking for money and the value of service and all that stuff was tied and there was this huge chunk that… Until that journaling exercise, so literally one week to the day, never explored that to that point. That in itself allowed me to literally go back, and using some of… I went through the 21-day core language upgrade course online from Mark England, and being able just to take some of the word changes and translations and be able to reformulate stories in my head… We haven’t even got to mantras at this point yet, and be able to reformulate some stories in my head were there.

So then of course Danny is like, “All right, so what’s the new story?” I’m like… And so I’ve written in my journal now since that realization every day my parents did the best they could with what they had. Their story is theirs. Mine is mine. That’s been a big one for me, to separate that relationship.

Then the service I have to offer is valuable, I am valuable, and that’s one of the things that I’ve been boom, boom, boom, hammering home with journaling, which brought me to another realization week one, which was I really enjoy writing. I always write for other people, so I always write with the intent of posting. I always write with the intent of sharing.

Up until now I’ve spent zero time writing for me, like just writing, just getting my thoughts on paper. Again, so that was a… It was a fascinating week one.

Mike: Week one.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah, week one.

The Stream Of Conscious

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Mike: Yeah, it’s funny, the majority of the writing I used to do was also for other people or for blogs or for posts or something like that, and I made the comment to some friends last week, I was like, “You know what? I love writing, but I don’t really do it much.” Then they looked at me and go, “Are you insane? We can’t pry that journal out of your hand.” I go, “Oh, I don’t really think about that as writing. That’s just for me. I’m just writing for me.”

But I said this at the summit a couple months ago when we had it, which was everything that’s coming out of my mouth is for me to hear. It’s not always for the other person. I’m telling you, and hopefully you’re getting the benefit out of it, but most of the coaching that I’m giving or the teaching I’m giving is for me to hear, because I’ve got to hear it again.

Aaron Jannetti: Man, that’s fascinating, because even just now as I’m thinking about it when I write I write what’s on my mind, like what’s bugged me today. I’ll get it paper, like a stream of conscious, and I listen to the… At least at this time of us recording it, the more recent with you and Mark again on the Enlifted Athlete, in talking about the difference between stream of conscious journaling and everything going forward.

I write stream of conscious and then I know that I’m posting it for somebody else and for some other reason, so then I go back and change stuff that I imagine will make it more palatable, and that’s fascinating, because why? Just as you were saying that, it was making me go like man, I actually go back and change my writing, and that’s why I consider it writing, because I’m trying to make something that’s going on in my brain that I really just wanted to get to paper anyway, like get it out of my head.

Mike: Yeah. I’ve been wanting to… One of the things I want to do in the next year is creating a journaling course, because I’ve been journaling for a while, and the older I get the more I journal. It’s not because I’m becoming more reflective. I don’t think that’s where it’s coming from. I think I’m becoming more reflective because I understand how to use language powerfully.

So when I journal now, the experience I have right after journaling is of realization, of changing the story, of being more in touch with reality and having a plan to change it in the way that I want it to be changed. So that’s a very satisfying place to sit from. I think a lot of people don’t journal, kind of like training, like oh, I’m not seeing the results, so they get like I don’t really feel like training anymore, or I don’t feel like eating well because I’m not seeing the results.

But when you get into a really good training program or you finally figure out something in nutrition that starts working, now it’s motivating. Yeah, what I’m finding is that I’m becoming way more motivated to journal as I get older and that’s why I can’t pry the journal out of my hand. Like I have a little carrying case for it and all this stuff.

People make fun of me, and I’m just like I got my colored pens, but it’s so powerful because I get to change… Like if something is coming up for me, if I’m getting some emotional charge around something, like oh, what is that? Let’s journal about that.

If you were to read the journal, I’m pretty sure people would try to take me to a insane asylum, like oh, we need to get him some fucking help. He looks like he’s doing pretty good, but what’s going on in the journal is a little crazy.

I like what you’re saying, like you took the journaling exercise and you started looking at what you learned from your parents. That’s such a powerful exercise, realizing that a lot of what our parents taught us, we end up taking on the identity of our parents. Our beliefs shape our identity and then we buy into this identity.

For me it’s been the last few years that I recognize that I’ve become an adult. I’m 38 now, and it wasn’t until I was 35 that I feel like I even started becoming an adult. Maybe it was a little earlier than that, like it’s hard to say at what point, but where I really started taking responsibility for my own identity, like who I am, and realizing oh, I can actually change this.

Because what… Most people die with this. They die with what they inherited from their parents. Their parents gave them all these beliefs which form the identity over… Between the ages of like zero and 10 or something like that you could say. When we do our training camp for the soul training we specifically focus on the ages of zero to seven, just because that’s how consciousness develops, is we lack the ability to have analytical tools and logic online and all that stuff, so that’s why we focus there.

But, yeah, in the early formative years we just take it on, so I like to remind people of how you are today isn’t your fault. You inherited that and you had no choice in the matter when you were a kid in what you took on as beliefs because you come in and you want… You don’t see yourself separate from your mom. It’s like oh, yeah, we’re like the same person.

Then your dad is… You want nothing more than your dad to love you, so oh, what can I do to earn dad’s love? So this course is going to shape your beliefs. There’s nothing that you identify more with than your parents. So as we get older I think we take it for granted and we forget… We think oh, I’m making my own decisions now. It’s like yeah, okay. Yeah, you’re making your own decisions. Good job.

There’s a point where it’s like oh, no. I think that until you start taking responsibility for what you believe and putting it down on paper… Like put down what you believe on paper and look at it. Is it true or is this something that just you made the assumption that it’s true your whole life and you’ve been running… Your perspective has been narrowed by this idea and then you start questioning it, is it true and all this, like you’ve done. It opens up the world of possibility and all of a sudden it’s like oh, I don’t have to be that anymore.

Changes In The First 10 Days Of Journaling

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Aaron Jannetti: It really is. Again, journaling to journal, I’m a newbie right now, and I’m excited to start to own that a lot more in the short period of time I’ve done it. When I say short period of time, 10 days.

Mike: You’re 10 days into journaling. Dude, I love this. I am loving this. I forget a lot of times, like oh, this program causes people to journal that never were… You weren’t journaling before.

Aaron Jannetti: No. And in 10 days… I was just telling them… Right before we had come out here and got set up, I was telling them we had put up a survey for our crossfit members to give us a little bit of feedback on how classes were going, and we were leading up to a training that we did just yesterday, and I made the mistake… I always turn my phone off like way before I go to bed. I have a business phone and I have an emergency for the family phone.

I turn the business phone off. There are no apps on my other phone, whatever. I made the mistake of turning that phone on and checking the feedback really quick just so I could have some thoughts-

Friday is my day off and it’s family day and I don’t do shit on Friday. It’s booked out. I take the kids, go do some things. Sure as shit, man, the last fucking comment… Again, what’s frustrating too is because now I know enough to know this is valuable feedback, this is a perception, this is something that needs… Like we have to look at it, so this is important.

But the last thing literally specifically called me out and the quote was, “I find it frustrating that Aaron is on a podcast giving advice while small parts of his gym seem to be falling apart around him,” right? So I’m literally like it’s 11:00 at night. You motherfucker, why did you look at this?

Mike: Do you know this person?

Aaron Jannetti: Well, it’s totally anonymous, right? So we let it be anonymous for this. So here’s the deal though, so I have this… I have like three struggles going one. One struggle is there was a lot of good feedback in the comment. The last sentence just happened to be like bam, like right there and a motherfucker.

So then I was like all right, calm the fuck down, take the feedback the way that you can get it. Let’s try to realize that 99% of the feedback has been positive and whatever. Whatever, it didn’t matter. This one fucking sentence was just drilled in my head.

I go to sleep, 4:00 in the morning I wake up wide-eyed, and all of a sudden it’s anger, self-doubt, disappointment, what’s the kick start challenge going to look like, what am I going to do for Arnold sponsorship that I haven’t taken care of. This 30-day online program that you’re going to do for active shooter, you haven’t even started filming, and it was out of nowhere 4:00 a.m., right? Out of nowhere.

But this is great, right? This goes back to journaling. So in the past I would lay there staring at the ceiling, battle with myself, motherfuck everybody up, down, left and right, and hopefully fall asleep at some point. This is the first time that I was like man, you’ve seen a really lot of like benefits from this just idea of writing shit down, so I literally go out of bed at about 4:15, so I stewed there and motherfucked people for about 15 minutes.

But I got up, got out of bed, I grabbed my journal and I wrote out everything that was just spewing out of my head, got all that shit to paper. Took some of the negative talk, flipped it around to affirmations. Took some of the soft talk into solid talk. Just translated all of this shit on my own-

Do Procabulary First as A Foundation For Journaling

Mike: This is the foundation of journaling right here. You’ve got to do Procabulary first. Once you do Procabulary, then that’s a foundation for journaling. I don’t think I could teach people how to journal effectively… Like there are some journaling prompts, but as far as having your own journaling practice going the rest of your life, got to have that first.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. It’s incredible the shift it’s allowed me in my personal life and professionally. It was… Mike, it was fascinating because it was… I was up for about an hour, an hour and a half just putting thoughts to paper. Had a couple… In the middle of it it was really funny because then I had like these creative thoughts that kind of came to me and I was like oh, shit, write those down really quick.

Mike: Funny how that happens, right? Yeah. You clear the shit out and all of a sudden creativity comes online.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. So I go back to bed. It’s just before 6:00 now, and I fucking slept like a baby. Wife was like, “Jesus, you were snoring so loud this morning.” You were kicking me to wake me up at 9:00.

Mike: You got to tape that mouth shut.

Aaron Jannetti: It was… Man, it was fucking fascinating. So of course like that’s just one more nail in the coffin. I’m like yeah, journal is going everywhere.

So we had an orientation literally just a couple of hours ago for a six week program we have going on at the gym. Normally the orientation is let’s talk about nutrition steps, let’s talk about what the program is going to be, and literally like 48 before it all of a sudden it became a goal setting workshop and we’re going to talk about journaling.

I went out and bought everybody journals and they’re sitting down there writing shit in orientation. I was just like this is so different. So it’s fascinating that in about 10 days journaling has already… And not even superficially, has like legit allowed me to see things that I up to this point haven’t seen and allowed me to break down barriers I image would have taken a long time, if not ever being broken down to this point. It’s absolutely fascinating.

Mike: Yeah. One thing I want to point out is that waking up with that feeling. So we have… Usually what we do is we have a feeling that comes in the body and that generates a belief, and the belief starts generating stories. So you got that feedback, and that feedback triggered an emotion in you. It triggered that feeling. It was a sensation in the body and you were focusing on that one thing, go to sleep, and that feeling starts hammering that belief.

That belief starts running in your subconscious and then the stories start running. So that tells me that there is some belief, there’s a phrase that’s running around in your subconscious that has you worrying about all these things, all these things that have yet to happen. I’ve got to do all this. What about that? What about that? What about this? I just wanted to throw that out there for people to understand, is-

Aaron Jannetti: And I’m saying like the feeling generates the belief that generates the story, but it also works the other way around. The story and the belief is actually of the mind, and the belief a lot of times in the subconscious and the story bubbles up to the consciousness and that’s where we usually focus, but we can rewind that too.

But you can also take control of your story and unwind it the other direction by having breath and tools like the journaling and the use of the language can help you unwind that the other direction, so it’s a really cool practice in knowing like there could be a hundred things tied to one feeling. Like one feeling generates one or two or three beliefs that generate a hundred stories, and this is why people end up having bad days and end up being pissed off all the time, because that’s just running without any control whatsoever. We can take control of these things.

Literally we could talk journaling forever in 10 short days, even as simple as the goal-setting stuff. The first time I wrote out the 10 year goals last week I completely brushed over… I imagine unintentionally but completely brushed over the because.

Mike: You didn’t do the because part-

Aaron Jannetti: Well, I had like skimmed… I was so excited to write 10 year goals, I had skimmed like here’s how to do it, and I was just like boom, okay, cool, it says to do 10 year goals now, so I started writing stuff out. Then when you have to go and actually enter them in and then you read through that, and I was like wow.

That was fascinating because it literally changed almost every single one of the 10 years goals because I then had to define the because portion of it. Again, I don’t know, it’s fascinating the time it takes for you to actually write things down, process the information, sit with it, stare at it, how that really changes perception and the way like internally you feel, all that stuff.

Again, in 10 short days it’s changed the way I view processing information and addressing stories, and I guess reigning in control of the things that I am in control of, which is something we’ve looked at from a self-defense perspective and from a fitness perspective superficially for a very long time, and now the internal story thing is fascinating.

Bringing Frameworks To The Fitness Community

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Mike: That’s why I’m excited, because this technology, how we use the language, was created outside of the fitness world, outside of the training world. It was designed specifically more for just the cognitive frameworks for better productivity and all that.

One of the things I’m excited about bringing these frameworks to the fitness community and bringing it to the coaches is we understand reps. We understand like there’s so many analogies in metaphor to our training that we get it better than most of these other people who are being exposed to it.

These are the life coaches or people who would study this type of stuff. They’re not as strong. They don’t have the reps that we have, and I think the fact that we have this physical foundation, it’s really a stronger foundation than what most other coaches in other industries have, so I’m excited to be bringing all this in, because the entire fitness community is about to go up a level because we’re getting a whole new level of understanding and no one is going to be able to catch us.

We’re going to dominate because we’ve got the physical part, which is important. I mean without the physical you don’t have the mental and the emotional. They all impact each other. So the fact that we have that dialed in is fucking great.

Aaron Jannetti: Have you worked with people outside of the fitness industry and seen like a distinct difference between the two and the way they take it?

Mike: Yeah. They’re less patient. The analogy of training is like… I was talking with Drew last night. We were talking about goal setting. You wouldn’t expect someone goes well, I want to squat 500 pounds, and you go how many squats have done, and they’re like I haven’t done any, right? You go yeah, you just start with an air squat. Put your ass down and get back up. That’s where you start.

The person who doesn’t have any foundation training like that wouldn’t get it. They don’t understand if they’ve never done anything that required repetition, then it’s a lot harder for them to have the discipline. There’s already a lot of inherent discipline in somebody who comes from fitness, because we know… It’s like oh, you want to put on muscle mass, you want to be stronger? That’s going to take years. Years, not weeks, years, and so the language stuff is really good, because it won’t take years.

I’ve been working on it for years and I’m still getting better. I’m very good at it and I saw benefits of it within weeks, and it made it easy to be motivated to keep on it, but also understanding like oh, this new. It’s like the first guy who started squatting and having squat competitions.

I’m probably… Like in the mental game I’m probably squatting 300 pounds, but no one else is squatting, so it’s-

Aaron Jannetti: So you’re ahead of the game. Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. It’s like people are just like talking about ideas, so they’re squatting like 100 pounds. But there’s a fucking 1,000 pound squat on the horizon. That’s going to happen in the next decade.

Aaron Jannetti: That’s a powerful analogy.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah.

Aaron Jannetti: That’s legit.

From Feedback To Feedforward

Gaining a deep understanding the problems that customers face is how you build products that provide value and grow. It all starts with a conversation. You have to let go of your assumptions so you can listen with an open mind and understand what’s actually important to them. That way you can build something that makes their life better. Something they actually want to buy.
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Mike: Yeah. The other thing, you said you got that feedback, and one of the skills of somebody who’s a teacher and taking feedback is really viewing it… It’s very difficult to not take it personal. That even seemed like a personal jab, the comment of like your gym is falling… I know you’ve memorized it.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. I’m not letting that one go. It was, “I find it frustrating that Aaron is giving advice on a podcast when small parts of his gym seem to be falling apart around him.”

Mike: Yeah. I do want to point out that if you looked under the hood of any business there are… Even the ones that are doing really well, like oh, my God, they’re amazing, if you start getting under the hood you’re like what the fuck is going on? This is terrible.

I have mentors where like I started getting to know them really well and I go, oh, that part of their business is a disaster. It’s a disaster.

Aaron Jannetti: Oh yeah. We talked about this like two weeks ago in like the perception of others and the way they were, and actually this was… I believe it was the Memphis trip, so the first time you and I would have crossed paths. The guy that was running all the seminars that I was going around assisting him, Mark Slane, he was like my original mentor, and I just vividly remember like at breakfast being all right, so what’s the plan today? This is my first law enforcement one that I’m going to be involved in. I’m like what are we going to do? He was like I don’t know. I think we’ll do this, this, this and this.

I was like wait a minute, you don’t have like a set curriculum? You haven’t mapped this out, like all these things? You’re literally just going to show up and wing it and it’s going to work? I literally like… It was from that moment on I told Drew I may have taken it too far and just decided that everybody is fucked up and nobody has their shit together. I said but whatever that belief was, I was like sweet, I don’t need to have my shit together to do things.

Then that spilled that storyline. You can ask Drew about the amount of plans I’ve taken action on without thinking first and most of them going relatively well.

Mike: I’m that way. I adapt. I think some people are really good at planning and some people are really good at adapting. I’m on the adapt side as well, so I almost prefer not to know what’s going to happen because then I get to flex. But I’ve also learned to lean on the planners because it’s the combination of the two that allows us to go far. He’s getting the look. He’s getting the… Drew’s a planner.

Aaron Jannetti: Is he?

Mike: I don’t know. I don’t know. He’s getting a nod. Yeah, but as a teacher getting feedback, we call it feedforward, that way it feels a little better, you know. It literally is to get in a place where you don’t take it personally, because I look at it as someone’s feedback or feed-forward is their story and they believe their story, and it’s only one perspective. It’s just a piece of the truth, so I go cool.

I get excited… Something like that, I get excited because I go okay, there’s something… I get to work on something now. And if you’re somebody… I’m talking to the audience here. If you’re somebody who does not like feedback, feed forward, it’s something you avoid, that means you’re avoiding things in your own coaching practice, your own business, and it is fucking shit up, whether you know it or not.

So it’s better to know it and be actively working on it and being with reality of what’s going on. I remember running a gym and making changes and pulling myself out of classes where I stopped coaching and people were pissed and dah, dah, dah. I was getting what most people would call negative feedback, and then me reminding myself is people hate change. Any time you change anything people are going to complain. You just got to brace yourself and know that it’s coming.

For me, when people are complaining when a big change is happening, unless they’re complaining about the actual service that was delivered sucking, then you did a good job.

Aaron Jannetti: Right. We just had that conversation in our training yesterday. It was like… Because we’re locking in… Again, you go back to just even the idea of soft talk, solid talk, we had laid out protocol standards, all this type stuff, forever. But we had these protocol standards mission statement and all that kind of stuff, and it was always soft. It was always this is kind of… You know, that type thing.

So it was this reshaping of look, this is how things are going to go forward. There are going to be changes. But we just had that conversation, which was there will be pushback. Remember this is the mission, this is the idea, and as long as it matches that we’re okay. And if it goes past something you can’t handle, let’s talk about it and we’ll figure it out.

But when I imagine Aaron seven years ago when I opened the new gym, had I gotten that feedback I would have hunted that motherfucker down and just… It wouldn’t have been pretty.

So what was a lot of fun for me Friday as I was kind of digesting that information was it allowed me to realize the space I had created between stimulus and response and my ability to process information, and now again this whole new tool of journaling. But it made me kind of want to do like rewind and be like all right, seven years ago… 10 years ago when you were teaching and you weren’t the gym owner what would you have done? Now you have to worry about the gym owner and what’s that response?

Seven years ago when you opened up your business what would you have done? Five years ago what would you have done? Three years ago what would you have done? Every single one of them was different. You can identify it, and so that was a fascinating process too, which was like you’ve been growing. You’re just that much better at it now and you’ll be that much better at it moving forward.

Mike: Yeah. It speeds up. You get good… Like there’s a skill, the skill of transformation, the skill of letting go of all beliefs, taking on new ones. There’s a skill in that as well. You can go… Everyone is a lot more malleable than they give themselves credit for. Most of you are like I can’t change, and like to me that’s… Why are you even here? Like that’s what you’re here for. You literally came here to do that.

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

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Mike: You want to keep things the same? Like that’s death, like that’s… Why would you do that? So what does… Now that I’ve gotten all dark on everybody-

Aaron Jannetti: A little bit of that journal is starting to spill out.

Mike: Right. I was reading a book… I’m reading this really great book. It was talking about the Samurai and like making death your friend, or being a warrior, and that is knowing… The true warrior knows that he or she is going to die and it can happen at any moment, and that the person who really embodies the warrior spirit fucking takes action and does shit now, because every moment is precious.

The warrior spirit is action. If you’re having trouble with taking action tap into that. Everybody has that archetype living inside of them.

Aaron Jannetti: That’s a lot what you do. You work with warriors, right?

Mike: Yes.

Aaron Jannetti: What book is that?

Mike: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. It’s a study of the masculine archetypes that men go through. It covers boyhood psychology, adult psychology, and then there’s four different areas of the boy psychology that ends up… When mature and healthy is able to transform into the adult male, adult masculine archetypes. So each man has the opportunity to fully develop as a king, warrior, magician, and lover.

It’s a really good book. That type of reading is my favorite because for me that is human development. If you don’t have that, if you don’t have your own… That is your foundation. If you don’t have the foundation of like what you’re here to do and what are you embodying from moment to moment, do you have the discipline, do you have control of your own life, are you a nurturing adult, are you taking care of other people appropriately?

Are you doing it for the right reasons? What’s your intention? These are all the things that… Who the fuck cares what you’re doing in a gym if you don’t have that? Because I have that, I show up in a gym completely different now, way healthier, and I’m having a lot more fun and life is good. Life is good. I’m not… I don’t train out of… Because I’ve done that work, there’s no training out of insecurity. I can miss a training session and be like oh, fuck man, I’m going to get fat. I’m going to… My arms aren’t going to be as big and the girls aren’t going to look at me, you know.

That’s all in the past and it feels good to train from a place of like I really enjoy taking care of my body and I’m much more likely to listen to my body, which means I can become a much better athlete faster because I’m actually in tune with what’s going on and I don’t have to look at a piece of paper, I don’t have to outsource… There’s actual feedback going on. I’m actually paying attention to feedback loops in my body because I honor it.

So I used to not be able to honor my body. It was just I have to dominate this thing just like I dominated everything else, and I took pride in that.

Aaron Jannetti: That’s a fascinating line, the whole… Because I’ve done this work. I don’t train out of insecurity, because that’s a lot of the conversations and goals and the whys people are in the gym that they get confused upon. It falls back on that, so I’m going to go back and quote you on that one.

Implementing Better Communication To His Business

vintage telephone on the wall.
Photographer: Pavan Trikutam | Source: Unsplash

Mike: I’m curious where were you a month ago till today like on where you want to focus your business and your attention?

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. That’s actually a really, really interesting question and to look at it from that angle, like where have you seen clarity. I know the way that I imagine it and the way that I’m translating it is up till this point my lack of understanding the importance of communication, the power of words, and then how to better I guess control those words, or at least the ones that I’m in control of, that has been an area that has bled into not just business, but into my personal life, into the way I interact with my kids, I have a two-year-old and a three and a half-year-old, the way that I approach even the internal dialogue moving forward.

As I look at it, my story behind communication was always I’m just a bad communicator. Let’s adapt around it. The biggest shift without a doubt in the last month is taking vital steps first and foremost to me getting better at language communication, holding myself to that, changing the story from I’m just bad at communication to I am good at communication. I’m getting better at communication, all that type stuff, even just that simply.

Then actually implementing better communication into the business has been by far the biggest shift. We’re doing other things. We’re putting missions in place and we have set plans and I’m exploring goals specifically with my business partners and stuff like that, and all of that stuff is going to make an impact in the biggest ways. I know that.

The biggest issue that I absolutely know that I led everyone into was this sense of communication. I have two business partners and they’re fantastic. I have been the prominent figure in the business since day one. They came in about two years ago when my other business partner and I split, and I’ll tell you right now because of communication issues.

So I was the one that this was the system, this is the way things worked. So now to be able to go back and be like you know what, this stops today… To this point, that was where I was at. No longer. This is how we look at communication. This is what I’m doing to improve it. These are the things we’re going to implement.

That in itself has cut out just massive amounts of friction, resistance and misunderstanding, and that was trickling down into the way we were operating classes. I know this source of information. I’m not clearly communicating it to team leads. They’re not clearly communicating it to instructors, and obviously the instructor is not clearly communicating it to athletes, and in the back of my mind I’m going like why the fuck aren’t we doing this? And it’s like well, you need to communicate things.

So from that perspective of what’s the biggest thing I think you’ve gained clarity of, or where were you one month ago and what’s the biggest shift, communication, being clear, honest, and then also upholding and changing my story around how I am as a communicator, and that’s business, personal and internally, has been massive.

It’s been very, very exciting to see like oh, man, like A, I’m in control of making these changes. More importantly, the progress in the short period of time that’s already exponential, where this process used to take this long because we dilly-dallied around. Now it’s just this is it, you know. Hey, where are you at? Oh, now that I know where you’re at because we’ve clearly communicated goals and how we’re feeling and all that type shit like we can approach the next thing that much better, has been mind-blowing for me personally.

Mike: Yeah.

Endeavor Defense and Fitness

Mike: Tell us about your business.

Aaron Jannetti: So I own Endeavor Defense and Fitness here in Columbus, Ohio, so Hilliard. 5040 Nike Drive, that’s where we’re at here in Hilliard, is the house of program. It’s also the house of Project Lift. It’s also the house of Abby Wallace, who is a neuromuscular therapist. It’s also the house of Unicorn Nation Apparel.

I always had a goal from day one of establishing a facility where other places could grow inside of it and it was a place of just growth. I always had this idea of… I wanted to call it originally… What was I going to call it? Oh, the Academy of Defense, Fitness and Growth, or something like that.

So that’s our facility. We have a crossfit program, and I use crossfit with quotes, because anybody who’s been around, especially 10 years, 11 years, 12 years, hopefully I imagine if you’ve made it this long you’ve done way outside of just what’s inside of that, right? So DNS and rehab and psychology and working with everybody.

Mike: It’s evolving folks.

Aaron Jannetti: It is evolving. Yes.

Mike: Like we’re even talking about language now. What?

Aaron Jannetti: Strange. Wait a minute, you mean actually understanding language inside of the gym might affect the way that you perform? Fucking crazy.

So we do have a crossfit program. We run a power lifting club a couple times a year. We have yoga, so we have a yoga program. We have a self-defense program. We have a Brazilian jiu-jitsu program. We have kick boxing, like bag classes, a nine-rounder of title boxing.

Mike: Sort of an adult playground.

Aaron Jannetti: It’s literally… Like I always… As I’m walking people and touring them around, I go, “We have literally anything an adult could want to relieve stress, get better at life, and just be awesome in general.”

So we’ve been able to develop this play space over 12 years now, and then about four years ago Drew and Chelsea developed Project Lift there and the shit they’re doing is absolutely fascinating. So that’s the brick and mortar.

Inside of that with my team that’s been with me for a very long time we developed active shooter response, which is the program we do where we actually go out and teach people hands on. A lot of the stuff in that industry is… It’s uncomfortable to do.

So you talk about uncomfortable from getting under a barbell perspective, it’s severely uncomfortable to sit down and talk about hey, we’re going to make you fight somebody. If you’re not a fighter, quote-unquote, you are a fighter. You have to. Like we’re going to do it and not just talk about it. We’re going to make you fight. We’re going to make you apply tourniquets. We’re going to make you go through these drills. We’re going to make you map out plans.

We’re going to make you… You talk things were changing. We’re going to make you identify the stories in your head and start pulling those things out and how they’re affecting your ability to protect yourself.

We’ve done that since 2009. In 2015 San Bernardino happens, Paris happens pretty close to each other, and one of my instructors videotaped and created a documentary with his troop around the program we did. That blew up like crazy. It was like 83,000,000 views in a month or something.

Mike: Oh, wow.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah, it was insane. So you talk about speed of implementation, and also adapting relatively well. We were getting hundreds of emails, tons of phone calls, we want this program, we want this program, we want this program. We never taught this on the road, and in 2016 I taught over 80 seminars in 23 different states. It was-

Mike: That’s more than one a week.

Aaron Jannetti: Yes. Yeah. There were some weeks we would do like every day, there were days we were doing two back to back. But that was awesome, because you talk about emersion and learning from the people you’re training and words that at the time I had very little respect for other than like as a ploy to I want you to do a thing so let me make sure that you’re doing the thing, that one type thing.

If you would of seen the program 2015 when that video came out to three months later, to six months later, to nine months later, to 12 months later, completely different. We had people that were taking it once a quarter that-

Mike: So reps?

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah reps.

Mike: It matters.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. And the experience of it… And it’s still evolving and changing. Like I said, like I wrote out a 30-day curriculum for an online training program, and you know what? I haven’t made this realization until this moment. I mentioned earlier that I struggled with the idea of having an online program for this because my belief, the story I told myself, was this has to be delivered in person, right?

A part of that was I have invested so much fucking time in learning everything there is to know about this from the physical attributes, the medical attributes, the psychological attributes, the aftermath, there’s no way I could portray this online. Sales is sleazy. Doing it in this longterm, if I’m not going to come out and dedicate and do my time… And then not only that, but I was doing the majority of it for free, if not at cost, and that was exhausting on my family and everything else.

So I’m literally as we’re on the microphone having this realization that I genuinely believe the story work and language work that I intend to put into this program is one of the things that will easily push me over to be able to say this is what’s going to make it meaningful online, because I was playing with some of these stories on a very superficial level in person, and now I’ve been empowered with this way to get people to analyze these through journaling and through story work that they’ll actually put in the time and effort that I never imagined they would, and that literally… As we’re talking I just went like motherfucker, that’s the piece that was missing this entire time and you just didn’t know it until now.

Mike: You’re welcome.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. Right?

Mike: Remember.

Aaron Jannetti: You’re such a good coach. You’re so good at this. You’re so good at this, and this is the first time we’ve officially talked.

Mike: I am so powerful I am getting into people’s brains without even meeting them first yet. So you’re about to do the same. You’re about to do the same.

Aaron Jannetti: And that’s the objective, man. So that’s fascinating. So then I wrote a book on it, so then I have the book, which has a lot of great… That was the first time I ever committed to a long term project and actually sat down… And it wasn’t a hundred page book. This was like a… I think it ended up being 82,000 words or something like that. I mean it’s a decent book.

Mike: How many pages is that?

Aaron Jannetti: I don’t know. There’s a copy in my truck that I could… Well, it’s more than that. Yeah, it’s a little over that.

Mike: We’ll look at it.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah, we’ll look at it. It’s a couple hundred pages.

Mike: Not important.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. It’s like 300 or something like that. Yeah, so I got that out, and that’s another fascinating thing, because I… Holy shit, this is so much fun. You go back to the story about me viewing business as sleazy because my dad was sleazy type stuff. I’m a fucking… Up to this point have had no respect for the value of the amount of time and effort and energy invested in creating that book to the point to actually feel comfortable promoting it outside of this will help you. I’ll give it to you for $12. Here’s a free copy. I hope you get enjoyment out of it, like that type stuff.

And then looking at it and going like look, man, if you’re not willing to pay $20 for the book you’re probably not going to read it and put time and effort and energy into it anyway, and that’s a whole nother-

Mike: I find that when I give people shit for free they don’t even consume it. I’d rather not even do it.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. So that’s been a fascinating journey. Then now I’ve started… You guys have really put… The deepest mission I’ve always had in self-defense is… I imagine a lot of this and I haven’t explored it to this point, but I imagine a lot of my passion around… Because I’m really passionate around self-defense.

I love fitness, I really do. I love teaching. I love sharing with people and getting them to grow, but I’m really fucking passionate about self-defense, like people protecting themselves. I imagine some of that goes back to my dad hitting my mom and hitting us. I imagine a lot of that comes back to some of the areas I… I didn’t grow up in a terrible area, however there was plenty of violence around us at the time.

Like I have an issue with the ego and the way that self-defense is generally sold, which probably half of it is because it’s sales, and the other half of it is it’s put off as like bullshit scare tactics. I’ll bitch and moan about it all day and I’ll have very good conversations with people all day. I’ve now come to the realization that if I can start communicating with the coaches and business owners in the area about their stories and the way they’re projecting how they’re doing in their community, that I can actually do the thing I want to do, which is make this massive impact in the way that people approach learning personal protection and self-defense.

So I’ve spent the last probably about three weeks reaching out and having phone calls with every gym owner and self-defense instructor I can asking them the questions about what are your biggest pains? How often are you working? What do you do for play? When do you get into these things? Do you imagine that this could be different if you did that? When you sell, how are you selling? And trying to get as much data on okay, these are the way that I’ve viewed it. How is everybody else viewing it from their own story, with the intent of packaging that up and getting this to make an effect in that industry specifically, so yes.

Mike: Yes.

Aaron’s Book And Closing Thoughts

Mike: If we wanted to find your book, how would we do that?

Aaron Jannetti: Yes. If you go to aaronjannetti.com, A-A-R-O-N-J-A-N-N-E-T-T-I-.com, the first thing you’ll have an opportunity to do is sign up for a mailing list and that’ll give you actually the first three chapters of the book for free in a digital format. Then you’ll find links to get the book there directly. You can find it on Amazon, How to Survive an Active Killer by Aaron Jannetti.

Mike: How to Survive an Active Killer. That’s a scary title. I have to buy it now.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. An Honest Look at Your Role in the Age of Mass Violence.

Mike: Your Role-

Aaron Jannetti: Your Role.

Mike: … in the Age of Mass Violence.

Aaron Jannetti: That was me before I really understood words trying to get people to take ownership.

Mike: You think you could do it better now, do a better job?

Aaron Jannetti: I know. That’s on the… Because I’m still… I’m making a very valiant effort to make sure my attention stays where it needs to be in there. It’s down here, but there will be a second edition with a lot of language play.

Mike: So if someone is in the Columbus area and they come by the facility, and I recommend it… I haven’t been there yet, but-

Aaron Jannetti: We’ve got Drew and Chelsea who invented the Strong Coach, and we just got someone else from-

Mike: Michelle.

Aaron Jannetti: Michelle just signed up.

Mike: She actually just texted me a little bit ago. So we know the coaches there care.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah.

Mike: They’re digging in, so I’m sure the environment is topnotch.

Aaron Jannetti: No, it’s terrible. It’s severely abusive, especially on the project list side. I don’t know what it is. It’s… What was it? I saw the clip. Is it Diego that’s filled with Puerto Rican rage? What was-

Mike: Enrique.

Aaron Jannetti: Enrique. My bad. My bad. I am sorry to mess up your stereotypical-

Mike: We’re going to get into that. We’re going to get into… I’m going to interview Drew and we’re going to talk about Enrique, who is his bully, and everyone who’s listening is going what is-

Aaron Jannetti: What are they talking about?

Mike: Who the fuck is Enrique? Yeah. You’ll have to stay tuned folks.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. Come check it out. If you’re in the Columbus area like for good sign up for a discovery session and then check it out.

Mike: Nice. What about the workshops? Are you still doing those workshops, the self-defense stuff?

Aaron Jannetti: We are. There will be some shifts going in the next year with the new insight that we’ve gained in the way we’re going to approach it. We do have one on the books for 2019 still, so it’ll be November 23rd. It is a four hour at our facility, and if you want to bring the training to you you can reach out at aaronjannetti.com and we can discuss what that looks like.

Mike: Yeah. I imagine if you go to the website and you get the first three chapters of the book that’ll start an email conversation where you can dig into anything you have going on.

Aaron Jannetti: Yeah. And I do like a weekly newsletter that’s got information and stuff, so yeah.

Mike: Thanks for coming on the show.

Aaron Jannetti: Thanks for having me.

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