REINVENTING YOUR EXIT
This is a different type of strength article from the one that got out.
Not many people know this, but I'm a former Executive Producer in the visual effects world. No, I wasn't smart enough to work the super-nerdy computer stuff, but I was damn good at running jobs, handling large budgets and keeping the team and clients happy. Through VFX, I made some of my greatest friends and earned my original nickname of Bald Fury. Yup, technically my full name would be Coach Bald Fury. The money was great (really great). It was a blast solving creative problems, making cool commercials and hitting unthinkable deadlines. Until it wasn't. And when it wasn't, it was miserable. Late nights, working weekends, missing my kids and eating crap from clients started to drain the life out of me. Change was needed. If you're not careful, success can form a pretty tough prison to escape from. I'm passionate about a lot of things like skateboarding, music, comic books and tattoos. None of these would afford me close to the pay rate I would need to break free. Not even close. We're talking a galaxy far, far away close.
I was trapped and super-depressed.
Then I found the cannonball with the handle. It was love at first swing. I took the HKC and the RKC, not to be a trainer, but because I wanted to make strong sweet love to the kettlebells. That's when the light bulb hit. I could be a trainer. This would allow me to share my total love of strength with others and possibly make an ok living. Wait, I can actually help people without selling them soda and car insurance?
I never expected to make as much money as I did in VFX. It wasn't about the money. It was about passion. That kind of drive that digs into your guts and holds fast. I spent 5 months building up a part time training business before taking the plunge into full-time strength coach. Salary-wise, I went from 6 figures to fry-guy overnight. Damn, it was rough. At points like these, you can give up and follow the dollar, or you can dig in and make things happen. I made shit happen.
I struggle to do so every single day. Why? Because I love what I do. I love my students. My new path has given me the power to have an absolute and undeniably positive impact on peoples lives. I will never stop. It's Spidey's credo, "with great power comes great responsibility."
About the only thing I miss from the VFX biz is the people. I'm fortunate enough to train with some of my friends from that life but there are many I hardly get to see. I was at a going away party from my brother from another, Domel, and got to see a ton of old friends. It's very cool to be known as "the one that got out." My career switch has inspired many. I'm proud of that.
To pay it forward, here are some tips to REINVENTING YOUR EXIT.
- PASSION. If you don't have it, don't try it. It can't be faked.
- MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING. Easier said then done, but it can be done. I do it every day.
- CALCULATED RISK. Make sure there's water in the pool before you dive in.
- WINE AND DINE YOUR EXIT STRATEGY. Spend time with it. Make it feel comfortable. Don't make your first move until you're pretty damn sure it will put out.
- COMMITMENT SHARK. When it's time to swim, commit and never look back. You stop moving, you die. Be a shark. Be a badass shark.
- WALK THE WALK. Be yourself. Not a caricature of who you think you are. People smell dishonesty like a fart in a car. Have integrity.
- ALWAYS BE A STUDENT. Strive to be the best knowing you will never reach that goal. You're lying to yourself otherwise. You'll keep progressing this way. Reach out and learn from the greats in your field.
- YOU WILL HIT LOWS. Claw your way out of these lows. You'll appreciate going uphill more every time.
- WALK TALL knowing you have a big set of balls (or lady balls) knowing that you had the intestinal fortitude to follow your dreams. Tragically, too few step up to that challenge.
- IF NOT NOW, WHEN? It's probably never. Fortune favors the bold.
You only have this life to live. It is short and easily filled with regret. Follow your heart. Listen to your guts. Trust your instinct. Escape your prison. Reinvent your exit.
I sincerely hope this inspires at least one person to chase their dream. Keep me posted if you're that person.
Huge thanks to my family, friends, everyone at Mark Fisher Fitness, Five Points Academy, RKC, DVRT, Rollins, Jason Jessee, Ian Mackeye, Jackie Chan and all my mentors for their support and inspiration. I succeed because of you.