Each day, if you do not make the decision to win, you have automatically made the decision to lose.”

– James Whittaker

Welcome to Win the Day and today is a special one – this is Episode 50!

Before we dive into all the good stuff for today, I just want to say an enormous THANK YOU for listening to this podcast, watching it on YouTube, and sharing it with friends. Your support means the world to me, and we’ve got some seriously kickass episodes coming up! So if you haven’t already, hit subscribe on YouTube or follow on Spotify. Together, let’s bring more and more positive energy into the world.

Because this show is about growth. It’s about recognizing that, while we might’ve faced adversity, challenges – even serious trauma – in our past, all that matters is what we decide to do from here. That’s why to truly win the day, we must begin every morning with an acknowledgement that the day – THIS day – is there to be won.

When I’m bringing these guests on the show – who are some of the most accomplished individuals on the planet – I’m trying to hone in on what they’ve done different:

With that information, I can learn, you can learn, and together we can inspire others through our example. That’s growth. Every day, we get better and better, so we can make the world – and everyone in it – a better place.

But this show is nothing without ACTION, so make sure with every episode you think about what 2-3 things you’re going to do as a result of what you’ve learned to level-up in your relationships, in your health, in your business, so the world knows how serious you are about what it is you want. Because, as Napoleon Hill said, “Action is the real measure of intelligence.”

Today, in honor of our 50th episode, I’m going to share with you my 12 favorite takeaways from the guests’ we’ve had on the show. These are the value bombs that have stood out to me the most, and I know will be enormously impactful for you too.

And because of this milestone, I’ve got a special giveaway just for you. Make sure you check out the podcast or YouTube version of this episode for more info on that.

The quote for this episode is one I put up at every speech:

“Each day, if you do not make the decision to win, you have automatically made the decision to lose.”

If you can figure that quote out, and turn that into a habit, the rest is easy. 

In fact, I started saying “Win the day” because I wanted something more succinct from that sentence that I could use for my podcast. And the rest is history! Here we are 50 episodes in, and you and I are still making the decision to win because the alternative, which is slowly losing every day, eroding our progress, and sabotaging our dreams, is not something we can tolerate. We’ve got ONE life to live and we’re going to unlock every little particle of potential inside us so our time on the earth is well spent.

So are you ready to win with me? I hope so! And if there’s a friend or loved one who wants to join us, share this episode with them right now.

In honor of our 50th episode, here are the 12 best tips to win the day, every day. Welcome to the Win the Day All-Star Edition. 

We'll go through:

NOTE: This episode contains exclusive clips from special guests who have come on the show. For the best experience, we recommend checking out either the podcast or YouTube version of this episode.

🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / links mentioned:

Success Plan.

🎥 YouTube version of this episode.

Episodes mentioned:

Win the Day with Gabby Reece (Ep 43).

Win the Day with John Assaraf (Ep 33).

Win the Day with Rob Angel (Ep 48).

Win the Day with Keith Ferrazzi (Ep 30).

Win the Day with Kerwin Rae (Ep 31).

Win the Day with Emily Fletcher (Ep 29).

Win the Day with Coss Marte (Ep 32).

Win the Day with Dr Sonja Stribling (Ep 37).

Win the Day with Brandon T. Adams (Ep 35).

Win the Day with Adam Carroll (Ep 38).

Win the Day with Michael Fox (Ep 26).

Win the Day with Marcus Smith (Ep 42).

Each day, if you do not make the decision to win, you have automatically made the decision to lose.”

James Whittaker

Welcome to Win the Day and today is a special one – this is Episode 50!

Before we dive into all the good stuff for today, I just want to say an enormous THANK YOU for listening to this podcast, watching it on YouTube, and sharing it with friends. Your support means the world to me, and we’ve got some seriously kickass episodes coming up! So if you haven’t already, hit subscribe on YouTube or follow on Spotify. Together, let’s bring more and more positive energy into the world.

Because this show is about growth. It’s about recognizing that, while we might’ve faced adversity, challenges – even serious trauma – in our past, all that matters is what we decide to do from here. That’s why to truly win the day, we must begin every morning with an acknowledgement that the day – THIS day – is there to be won.

When I’m bringing these guests on the show – who are some of the most accomplished individuals on the planet – I’m trying to hone in on what they’ve done different:

With that information, I can learn, you can learn, and together we can inspire others through our example. That’s growth. Every day, we get better and better, so we can make the world – and everyone in it – a better place.

But this show is nothing without ACTION, so make sure with every episode you think about what 2-3 things you’re going to do as a result of what you’ve learned. As Napoleon Hill said, “Action is the real measure of intelligence.”

Today, in honor of our 50th episode, I’m going to share with you my 12 most memorable takeaways from the guests’ we’ve had on the show. These are the value bombs that have stood out to me the most, and I know will be enormously impactful for you too.

And because of this milestone, we've got a special giveaway! Make sure you check out the podcast or YouTube version of this episode for more info on that.

The quote for this episode is one I put up at every speech:

“Each day, if you do not make the decision to win, you have automatically made the decision to lose.”

If you can figure that quote out, and turn that into a habit, the rest is easy.

In fact, I started saying “Win the day” because I wanted something more succinct from that sentence that I could use for my podcast. And the rest is history! Here we are, 50 episodes in, and you and I are still making the decision to win because the alternative, which is slowly losing every day, eroding our progress, and sabotaging our dreams, is not something we can tolerate. We’ve got ONE life to live and we’re going to unlock every little particle of potential inside us so our time on the earth is well spent.

So are you ready to win? I hope so! And if there’s a friend or loved one who wants to join us, share this episode with them right now.

In honor of our 50th episode, here are the 12 best tips to win the day, every day. Welcome to the Win the Day All-Star Edition. 

NOTE: This episode contains exclusive clips from special guests who have come on the show. For the best experience, we recommend checking out either the podcast or YouTube version of this episode.

1. The best way to show you’re grateful for something is to take care of it.

I’ve noticed that the word “gratitude” has become hijacked lately, a little bit like the “self-love” movement. People talk a big gratitude game and post their fancy snaps on Instagram, but what Gabby Reece shared during Episode 43 of the show is that the best way to show you’re grateful for something is to actually take care of it.

That means, behind closed doors, when the phone’s away, you’re looking after the things you’re grateful for – whether that’s your physical health, your mental health, or the most important people in your life.

Here’s what Gabby shared:

“I don't need to lose my health to covet it.

The other thing I'm doing is I'm practicing. When people talk about gratitude, the best way I can show that, "Hey, I'm really grateful for my health," is to take care of it. That's ultimately what I'm doing.

The other side of that is it's a level of sanity. I am a better functioning organism if I can also take care of the physical avatar to the best of my ability. It's a law of the universe. It's the truth, and so I don't need to keep relearning that lesson. I know what the lesson is, and I'm just ahead with it.”

So if, like me, you’ve been bitten by the gratitude bug, that’s awesome! Just make sure you’re doing the reps behind the scenes. Those daily reps add up to massive results over time.

2. Actively pursue calm so you can thrive in chaos.

If there’s one thing the covid pandemic has emphasized in bold, italic, and underline, it’s that the world is shifting faster than ever before – but, most importantly, it’s going to keep getting faster and faster, as George Chanos reminded us in Episode 27.

When the covid pandemic started, there was an entrepreneur in Australia who saw it coming months ahead of time, and that was Kerwin Rae.

In Episode 31 Kerwin came on the show to reveal those insights with us, but what I found most impactful was his emphasis on pursuing calm at all costs. As the world is getting faster, more chaotic, more transactional, more automated, and more digital, we’re faced with sensory stimulation like we’ve never even imagined – and that’s an absolute recipe for disaster where our mental health is concerned.

Yet, Kerwin reminds us that we need to shift away from passive sensory overload, and instead shift to more proactively putting ourselves in situations that get us out of our comfort zone in a good way. And if we can do that regularly, and train ourselves to be effective and calm in complete chaos, we will not only be extremely well positioned to benefit from the rapidly changing world but we'll also insulate ourselves from failure that could be completely demobilizing for most people.

Here’s what Kerwin said:

“The more you can regulate stress in a healthy way, at levels that other people can't, the more you’ll enable yourself to go further than anyone else can.

That’s the beautiful thing about being human. We all have this capability to grow. We all have this capability to change and transform.

The only difference between someone who plays here and someone who plays here is their ability to expose themselves to information, in some cases, stress, at a level that they can regulate in a healthy way. That's why not everyone's going to be able to build a multi-billion-dollar company because not everyone could cope with the mental stress of even considering working with those denominations and those values.

And that's why you'll always find where your limit is, and wherever that limit is you'll be constrained by some level of fear that triggers a level of stress.”

3. Tie your financial goals to your definite major purpose.

Most people recognize the importance of proper goal-setting in achieving what they want. (And to start practicing what I believe is the most effective goal-setting system available, download my Success Plan. Free instant download; no opt-in required). But when it comes to your financial goals, the secret sauce is how you tie them into your definite major purpose.

Your definite major purpose is the core goal you have that most of your other sub-goals stem from.

Anyone can put “$1 million” on a goal sheet, but tying it into your definite major purpose, backing it by emotion, and then outlining the steps you need to take to get there and how that will impact the world is going to make it 100x more likely for you to achieve that goal.

In Episode 38, personal finance expert Adam Carroll shared this with us:

“My parents were very positive-minded and they talked about opportunity a lot. My dad was big into Deepak Chopra back in the day. And he would tell me growing up that I was a wizard, and I didn't really understand what he was telling me at the time. I had visions of Harry Potter-esque kind of wizards.

But what he was telling me, I believe, is that I could create whatever environment I wanted to create; that I had the ability to manifest my own desires. And so when I read Think and Grow Rich the first time – which you are obviously well-versed in – I realized how important the messages of definiteness of purpose, and of focus and attention, were. I have a saying up on my door up here and it says “The definiteness of purpose for acquiring wealth is necessary for its acquisition.”

And I kept reading that over and over and over again. Think and Grow Rich was one of the first books that got me on the path. Then I went down this unbelievable rabbit hole of finding all of the quantum physics and law of attraction books that were out there. I realized that we are all constantly, consciously or unconsciously, creating our own environment.”

So powerful.

Remember, Adam is the guy whose TED Talk on playing Monopoly with real money has 6+ million views. So if you’ve got big financial goals – and you should because the more resources you have at your disposal the more you can contribute to the causes you care about the most – you need to tie it into a higher purpose or mission that you have for your life.

4. Your past isn’t your future.

If we’ve been brought up in an environment that doesn’t reward creativity, growth or love, we might feel that we’re doomed to continue that cycle. Or worse, we might never recognize that a problem even exists because it seems “normal” to us.

But in Episode 37, Dr Sonja Stribling – who’s one of the toughest and most resilient people I’ve ever met – stated:

“When you hear me say that 'If you didn't come from a wealthy family, let a wealthy family come from you,' it empowers you to realize that just because you came from nothing doesn't mean your family has to carry on that tradition. It means you get to create whatever lifestyle you want. That's just been my mantra. I don't want my children to suffer the way I did or the way my mother did.

And it's not just about the money. Being rich is more about teaching different ways that your children don't have to always go get a 9:00am to 5:00pm job and always have to go to school because school is not for everyone. There are other means to create wealth. You just need to know where to find those ideas and the strategies and the tips and tools to do so.”

While, at times, you might feel that your future is pre-destined because of the circumstances where you grew up, it’s never too late to be what you want to be, lead by example, and inspire future generations to take ownership of their lives. And while the goal of flipping the script of generational poverty in your family and turning it to generational wealth might be great financially, never forget that it’s the lessons, the relationships, and the attitude to handling adversity that are the most important things.

5. There is no excuse for you to remain mediocre.

This might seem harsh, but I’ve interviewed enough people now who have overcome the most horrific circumstances imaginable and gone on to incredible success. To see firsthand what they’ve been able to do with their lives but, more importantly, how grateful they are for that adversity, has been the biggest blessing I've had on this journey. In some of their deepest pain, they were able to use those experiences as fuel to live a life of compassion, meaning, and impact.

Some of those people are Janine Shepherd, who I mentioned in chapter one of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy. Her story as a walking paraplegic is extraordinary. Remember, she had qualified for the Olympic Games, only to have her athletic dreams and physical being completely destroyed through no fault of her own.

There’s Jim Stovall who, at 18, went totally and permanently blind, before going on to write 30 bestselling books and become the founder of the Narrative Television Network – while blind. Todd Love, who became a triple amputee at 18 years old after being blown up by an IED in Afghanistan; Todd views the explosion as a “gift” and has since completed the Spartan Race on numerous occasions to inspire others.

Or Sonja Stribling, who we just mentioned in the last tip, who was born into a family as the youngest of 12 children, to parents who only had a second-grade education. At age 15, she gave birth to her first child. And just two years later, at 17 years old, she was raped and left for dead in a field. Sonja is now an internationally regarded female empowerment coach who helps millions of people around the world.

There are too many examples of this.

Make no mistake, how you respond to adversity when it INEVITABLY strikes is what separates ordinary people from extraordinary achievers.

And in Episode 30, #1 NY Times bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi shared a very succinct approach for those who want to become extraordinary:

“There is no excuse for you to remain mediocre. If you want to be extraordinary, you chart your path. If you hold onto your individual title, you'll never have enough resources under your control to really break through. You need to go to Peter Diamandis, you need to go to Jim Kwik, you need to get James Whittaker who knows everything about podcasts to teach you about podcasts, right?

You need to expand your view of team. If you don't redefine your view of team, you will remain mediocre with mediocre resources.”

So think about what you can do to turn your individual mission into a shared mission.

There is no excuse for you to remain mediocre. If you want to be extraordinary, you chart your path and build the team to get you there. That’s it. It’s so empowering.

Rather than dwell on our misfortune, or people who’ve wronged us, or whatever it might be, we instead need to channel that energy into constructive means so we can create the very circumstances we want.

That all starts with a recognition that a better life awaits (irrespective of what has happened to us in the past), followed by a focus on detailed plans to make it happen, then a commitment to seeing it through with the right people around us.

6. Regardless of what happened yesterday, wake up ready to win today.

Like most of these tips, the real growth comes when you can turn them into a habit – that way, when the voice of doubt kicks in, it’s quickly overridden by habit and you do what needs to be done.

One of the best habits to have is waking up and recognizing today as a clean slate, which means you leave any drama, frustration, or stress in the past where it belongs. And you wake up excited for another opportunity to do exactly what you want to do.

In Episode 42, ultra athlete Marcus Smith, who was almost killed after being hit by a vehicle while cycling, shared this:

“We ALL have tough days. We ALL get overwhelmed and we have to be honest with ourselves on that. But I think what the difference is from what you said and from what I see in my life is that no matter how bad today is I'll wake up tomorrow and it's a new day, and I'm ready to dominate and you're ready to win the day.

If I can just encourage people that every time you go to bed, when you get up the next day, you've been just gifted this unique opportunity to do amazing things. You've got a fresh mind. And if you start the day with this great positive mindset that you're going to have an awesome life, you can just rinse and repeat that. It's beautiful.”

And there’s a level of peace that you can see in these people. They’re at peace with themselves and what has happened to them, and they’re even at peace with the people who were responsible for their most brutal pain.

But more than peace, they also know exactly who they are, what they’re capable of, and how they will inch closer toward their mission.

7. Always take time for yourself.

There’s been many moments in my life – too many to name – where I’ve reached a pretty dark place and felt overwhelmed and frustrated, and the negative self-talk got noisier and noisier.

Inevitably, in every one of those instances, it was because I either did not know about the daily rituals for success, or I had become so overwhelmed with work that I neglected those daily rituals of success.

If we fall out of alignment, that’s when those dark feelings emerge, and it’s a horrible feeling to find yourself in a situation where you’re saying, “How did I get here AGAIN?”

It can be a difficult road to come back from.

In Episode 48, Rob Angel – who was the creator of the world’s bestselling board game, Pictionary – mentioned how he had to take a leave of absence from his own business because he was totally out of alignment:

“As entrepreneurs, they say you've got to push hard and make sure you're working 24/7, and you've got to push, push, push. Well, that's what I wound up doing. And about 5-6 years in, I changed my mission from giving Pictionary to the world and people having fun, to how do I make more money and push this game.

It wasn't just burnout. It was complete and total anxiety. I wasn't comfortable with myself. My authentic self had left and I was so off balance. I was so out of alignment. But I didn't know how to deal with it. So for a couple of years, I was getting in fights with my partners over nothing.

And I wouldn't show up for work periodically and it just became untenable. So I took a leave of absence. That's all I could do. I had to remove myself and recalibrate and took about six months. I came back to the business and the partners accepted me and took up the slack. But you don't have to do that. You can pre-warn.

Make sure you take an hour for yourself every day. Whether it's meditation, watching television, working out, or whatever it might be, where you don't think about your business. Because guess what? If you're not there for 20 minutes, it's going to be there when you get back. It's not like it'll fail if you take time for yourself.

I do believe in meditation. But if that just sounds so woo-hoo and off the wall, take a walk, anything, but you've got to take care of yourself mentally, spiritually, and physically to be more productive and make more money and be more successful. You have to.”

So make sure you stay in alignment. And the best way to do to that is: to always have an idea of what success looks like to you in ALL areas; and, second, make sure your own cup is full at all times, because the more you have the more you have to give.

8. Give yourself time to heal and re-align.

A surprising theme I noted from most of the people who’ve come on the show is that a deliberate break has been the springboard to their greatest achievement. In Episode 26, Australian entrepreneur Michael Fox (founder of Fable Food Co) shared how he raised more than US $30 million for an exciting business venture that was backed by some of the most established retailers and venture capital firms in the world.

But after losing everything – his business, the $30 million in investor money, 10 years of his life, and even his marriage – Michael took six months off in Europe where he allowed his intellectual curiosity to go where it wanted to go.

In that moment of massive internal transition, which didn’t have any boundaries or time constraints around it (like he’d had with the rigorous demands of running his own business), Michael became drawn to one particular topic, which became the foundation of his new mission: to end industrial agriculture.

Michael went all-in on that mission, and in a few short years has created a high-end meat alternative that uses mushrooms, which is now available in more than 1,000 supermarkets and has partnered with people like acclaimed chef Heston Blumenthal.

Here’s what Michael had to say:

“My wife and I, with our one-and-a-half-year-old, went to Denmark. For me, it was a great period to have a reset – I didn't have any pressure to find a job or figure out what I was going to do next. I just knew, okay, there's six months, I can focus on being a dad and do whatever I feel like doing.

I ended up reading a lot of books. And because I've been vegetarian for four and a half years, I just ended up reading more about industrial animal agriculture. There were other areas that I was really passionate about and started exploring too, like community living and some different areas like that. But I just ended up reading all these different areas that I was passionate about.

Then towards the end of the six months, I started thinking, “Well, there's two or three areas I'm deeply passionate about, is there a business model or something that I could do?” Well, actually, I didn't even want to start a new business. I was thinking that maybe I could work for someone else in in the meat alternative space because it’s a space that's been growing really quickly.

That six months allowed me to explore whatever I wanted to, wherever my intellectual curiosity took me. That really helped me narrow in on what my passion was and what industry I might like to enter. We added lifestyle decisions around that, and got to work."

So if you’ve gone through a very difficult period, make sure you take a defined period of time – without any boundaries, constraints, or pressure – to allow your intellectual curiosity to go wherever it wants to go. You’ll likely find answers to what you want with much more clarity than you’ve experienced ever before, which could be the perfect springboard to your next chapter.

9. The most important opinion is how you feel about yourself.

All those who do great things have one fundamental attribute: unwavering self-belief. In a world, where haters come with the territory, and everything we see comes with a like, share, and comment button, it’s more important than ever to recognize that there’s only ONE opinion that really matters and it’s how you feel about yourself.

In Episode 32, a truly unique guy, Coss Marte, came on the show to share his story. Coss was brought up in very difficult circumstances, before finding massive success on the wrong side of the law. As one of New York’s most prominent drug dealers, Coss was earning more than $5 million a year at 21 years old and needed eight mobile phones just to store the sheer number of customer contacts. Eventually, he was sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence, but was able to use his time inside to start a new career as a fitness entrepreneur.

There was one quote that stood out to me during our conversation: “My mentality was nothing is going to stop me.” Even in a prison cell, Coss was going to turn his dream into a reality, and I would never bet against someone with that level of faith in themselves.

Here’s how Coss describes what happened next:

“I started realizing that I was affecting not only the thousands of people that I sold drugs to, but I started thinking about their families. I started thinking about my family. I started thinking about this web of destruction that I'd created, and I felt so much regret. I said, “I want to give back in some sort of way.”

I came up with the idea of ConBody in that cell. Then, I lost 70 pounds in six months, while helping 20 other inmates lose more than 1,000 pounds combined. So, I started this whole workout program in the prison yard. I knew then that it’s what I wanted to do when I came home: a prison-style bootcamp. In my cell, I wrote a mini-business plan and a 90-day workout plan.

I said to myself that I would do what I wrote, and I did.

About a year later, I came home and put it into action. I started training classes in the park, then rented out studios, then eventually opened up my own studio. It escalated to building an online workout platform where I now train thousands of people all over the world. Today, we've trained more than 50,000 people. But the most beautiful thing is that we've hired over 40 people coming out of the prison system, and none of them have come back into the system.”

So next time you’re faced with an opinion about what you’re not capable of, whether it’s from a family member, a friend, or a total stranger, remember that those comments are based on THEIR limitations. The most important opinion is how you feel about yourself, so take action on your dreams and what you know you're capable of.

10. Create imagined memories to manifest your ideal outcomes.

That might sound a little woo-woo, but what Emily Fletcher shared in Episode 29 blew me away. Emily is the world’s leader in meditation for high performance, and one of the most valuable takeaways I got from her episode was that the mind doesn’t know the difference between imagined memories we create for the future and actual memories from our past.

So if we’re serious about creating a life we love, a powerful method is to consciously remind ourselves of the outcomes we want and have the discipline to do it every day. We literally visualize an important moment – whether it’s a client meeting, a keynote presentation, a guest appearance on a podcast – and play out the entire event in our most optimal state.

That way, when it happens in real time, we’ve already trained our subconscious to deliver at the highest possible level and made sure we’re perfectly prepared for that opportunity.

Emily uses a combination of meditation and manifestation to reduce the impact of previous trauma while empowering us to get the absolute best result from important events we have coming up in the future:

“Mindfulness is really good at dealing with your stress in the now. And then the manifesting piece is all about dealing with your dreams for the future. So it sounds a little hippy-dippy. It sounds a little woo-woo. Maybe not to you or your audience!

But I would define manifesting as consciously creating a life you love. It is reminding yourself of your dreams. And what I've found is that the combination – and this might really be the thing that keeps you committed to meditation – the combination of meditation and manifesting is so much more powerful than either one alone. Because you could meditate all day, but if you're not clear about what it is that you want it's very hard for nature to give you the thing.

And conversely, you could manifest all day, lining your walls with vision boards, but if you're not meditating and your nervous system is riddled with stress and trauma, and limiting beliefs that you can't even see, then again it's going to be a lot harder for you to achieve your dreams. But when you do them together, you get rid of the stress in your body, you peel away these subconscious limiting beliefs, and you remind yourself of your dreams every day, twice a day, and things start to show up a lot more quickly.”

It’s one hell of a bio-hack, yet so few people do it. If now is the time to massively level-up with what you’re doing, create imagined memories for future events to manifest your ideal outcomes.

11. Help the people who want the help, not the people who need the help.

This has been a lesson I learned the hard way. Naively, I thought I could help everyone, and you might have felt – or still feel – the same way. But if we try to lift people up who don’t even want to be lifted, not only are we NOT going to be able to lift them up but they’ll likely end up pulling us down to their level.

But in Episode 33, mindset expert John Assaraf mentioned:

“On many occasions I’ve worked harder at helping somebody achieve their goal than they have. But that brings me back to a couple of things that I've discovered over the years. First and foremost, help the people who want the help, not the people who need the help.

Number two, don't be in the convincing business, because if you've got to convince somebody, then they're not sold on themselves doing it.

Number three, every person I work with I ask the question, “Are you interested or are you committed?” And if they tell me they're committed, and they're willing to do whatever it takes, and be radically honest with themselves, and radically honest with what they do, or don't do, then I'm willing to help you.

But anybody else, I have no interest in helping. I don't want to spend my time trying to talk somebody into what they should be doing.”

Powerful, right!? And I’ll never forget it. John shared a TON of gold in that episode.

12. Action is everything.

There’s a quote we mentioned at the start of this episode from Napoleon Hill: “Action is the real measure of intelligence.” Hill also mentioned “It doesn’t matter what you know; it matters what you DO with what you know.”

And when Brandon T. Adams came on the show in Episode 35, he said this:

“Action is what gets results. The number one thing holding people back is they think about something and they strategize all day. At the end of the day, an idea is shit unless you actually take action towards it, and that's what I learned in Think and Grow Rich. You've got to take daily action, even if it's one thing you do every day, every single day, just one thing you accomplish. It'll build up, it's the compound effect. It'll slowly build up over time, and eventually, get you your bigger opportunity.

If you take action, get outside your comfort zone, and become comfortable being uncomfortable, you will find opportunity. And then follow up on the opportunity; don't just get it and then let it go. You have to follow up and keep taking action, every single day.”

And that’s success in a nutshell. Eventually, you have to get your hands dirty. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to take action. So a question I want you to ask yourself right now is:

Who do I need to become to succeed in this rapidly changing world?

There might be skills you need to get, relationships you have to establish, limiting beliefs you need to overcome. The world is changing faster than ever, so it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re clear on who you need to become so you can figure out what action you need to take.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed those 12 tips to win the day every day! If you wanted to dive into those in more detail, you can check out the full episodes, available in video on YouTube and in audio on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

What was your favorite tip? Let me know in either the comments on the YouTube video or in a review on Apple Podcasts. We’ll then pick out THREE lucky people to receive a signed copy of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy delivered to wherever you are in the world for free.

Is there someone in your life who needs some help winning the day? Share this episode with them now. They’ll thank you for it later, I promise.

To finish, I want to leave you with the quote for today’s episode:

“Each day if you do not make the decision to win you have automatically made the decision to lose.”

Imprint that on your mind so nothing can knock you off course ever again.

That’s all, folks! Remember, to get out there and win the day. And think about how strong you'll be when we hit 100 episodes 😉

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

Resources / links mentioned:

Success Plan.

🎥 YouTube version of this episode.

Episodes mentioned:

Win the Day with Gabby Reece (Ep 43).

Win the Day with John Assaraf (Ep 33).

Win the Day with Rob Angel (Ep 48).

Win the Day with Keith Ferrazzi (Ep 30).

Win the Day with Kerwin Rae (Ep 31).

Win the Day with Emily Fletcher (Ep 29).

Win the Day with Coss Marte (Ep 32).

Win the Day with Dr Sonja Stribling (Ep 37).

Win the Day with Brandon T. Adams (Ep 35).

Win the Day with Adam Carroll (Ep 38).

Win the Day with Michael Fox (Ep 26).

Win the Day with Marcus Smith (Ep 42).

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

In the pursuit of giving you everything you need to take ownership of your financial, physical and mental health, I try to interview and share the stories of a diverse mix of guests. However, I’ve never interviewed someone like who we’ve got today: Coss Marte.

When she was six months pregnant with him, Coss’ mother immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic. Settling in the Lower East Side of New York City during the 1980s, it was a brutal time, with skyrocketing crime statistics that made headlines around the world.

At 11 years old, Coss began using drugs. Just two years later, to make ends meet, he was selling crack on the streets. With a complete lack of positive role models, and an environment riddled with crime, there were few legitimate avenues available to him. Yet, despite seeing people killed and regularly witnessing extreme acts of violence, Coss survived as he inched his way up the food chain.

Eventually, at 19 years old, he was at the helm of one of the largest drug delivery services in New York City. Through a team of more than two dozen couriers, dispatchers, and street soldiers, Coss distributed vast quantities of cocaine and marijuana to all segments of society – from public housing residents to cops, judges, and doctors, but especially Wall Street executives who had the salaries to match their insatiable appetite for his product.

At its peak, the business was earning more than $5 million a year. Coss’ drug venture was so successful that he needed eight mobile phones just to store the sheer number of customer contacts.

Eventually, the law caught up with him, and 23-year-old Coss was sentenced to prison and forced to turnover all proceeds from his criminal enterprise. It was the latest and most severe of a string of arrests that had seen him incarcerated 10 times since he first began dealing drugs as a 13-year-old. Giving up the lavish lifestyle was tough but, since Coss had become a father for the first time, the feelings of abandonment from his baby son – whom he had to watch grow up from behind bars – was the worst.

While in prison, Coss was told that his cholesterol levels were off the charts and he would die if he didn’t start taking care of his health. Six months later, through a rigorous fitness regime from the confines of his cell, Coss lost 70 pounds and helped dozens of other inmates to do the same.

His physical transformation had reignited a flame of ambition, and when released he launched ConBody, a fitness program that would help get people in the best shape of their life, while offering employment for people who had just left prison so they wouldn’t have to face the constant rejection that awaited them.

Since then, through his studios and online programs, Coss has trained 50,000+ people from around the world. He’s an author, a TEDx speaker, and recently launched a crowdfund for a nonprofit that helps equip formerly incarcerated people with the skills to succeed in the digital world so they don’t need to return to a life of crime.

This is a different and more somber style of interview than I’ve done before, and while we cover many of the raw aspects of Coss’ past, none of it is used to glorify the life he used to lead. It’s a wonderful tale of redemption and shows how the right accountability and focus can brighten even the darkest situation.

Note: Prior to the interview, I asked Coss to avoid mentioning anyone or anything from his past life that could jeopardize his or his family’s safety.

For the video interview, click here.


Resources / links mentioned:

💪 ConBody

🎧 Ex-Dealer, Ex-Junkie Podcast

💚 Second Chance Studios

📚 ConBody: The Revolutionary Bodyweight Prison Boot Camp, Born from an Extraordinary Story of Hope

🎤 TEDx Talk

📸 Coss Marte on Instagram

🎙️ We Are Members: create a thriving business from your podcast

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

In the pursuit of giving you everything you need to take ownership of your financial, physical and mental health, I try to interview and share the stories of a diverse mix of guests. However, I’ve never interviewed someone like who we’ve got today: Coss Marte.

When she was six months pregnant with him, Coss’ mother immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic. Settling in the Lower East Side of New York City during the 1980s, it was a brutal time, with skyrocketing crime statistics that made headlines around the world.

At 11 years old, Coss began using drugs. Just two years later, to make ends meet, he was selling crack on the streets. With a complete lack of positive role models, and an environment riddled with crime, there were few legitimate avenues available to him. Yet, despite seeing people killed and regularly witnessing extreme acts of violence, Coss survived as he inched his way up the food chain.

Eventually, at 19 years old, he was at the helm of one of the largest drug delivery services in New York City. Through a team of more than two dozen couriers, dispatchers, and street soldiers, Coss distributed vast quantities of cocaine and marijuana to all segments of society – from public housing residents to cops, judges, and doctors, but especially Wall Street executives who had the salaries to match their insatiable appetite for his product.

At its peak, the business was earning more than $5 million a year. Coss’ drug venture was so successful that he needed eight mobile phones just to store the sheer number of customer contacts.

Eventually, the law caught up with him, and 23-year-old Coss was sentenced to prison and forced to turnover all proceeds from his criminal enterprise. It was the latest and most severe of a string of arrests that had seen him incarcerated 10 times since he first began dealing drugs as a 13-year-old. Giving up the lavish lifestyle was tough but, since Coss had become a father for the first time, the feelings of abandonment from his baby son – whom he had to watch grow up from behind bars – was the worst.

While in prison, Coss was told that his cholesterol levels were off the charts and he would die if he didn’t start taking care of his health. Six months later, through a rigorous fitness regime from the confines of his cell, Coss lost 70 pounds and helped dozens of other inmates to do the same.

His physical transformation had reignited a flame of ambition, and when released he launched ConBody, a fitness program that would help get people in the best shape of their life, while offering employment for people who had just left prison so they wouldn’t have to face the constant rejection that awaited them.

Since then, through his studios and online programs, Coss has trained 50,000+ people from around the world. He’s an author, a TEDx speaker, and recently launched a crowdfund for a nonprofit that helps equip formerly incarcerated people with the skills to succeed in the digital world so they don’t need to return to a life of crime.

This is a different and more somber style of interview than I’ve done before, and while we cover many of the raw aspects of Coss’ past, none of it is used to glorify the life he used to lead. It’s a wonderful tale of redemption and shows how the right accountability and focus can brighten even the darkest situation.

Note: Prior to the interview, I asked Coss to avoid mentioning anyone or anything from his past life that could jeopardize his or his family’s safety.

For the video interview, click here. For the podcast interview, click here. For the written version, read on.

James Whittaker:
Great to see you my friend. Thanks for being on Win the Day.

Coss Marte:
No, thank you so much, James, for the opportunity.

To kick things off, take us into the Lower East Side of New York City during the 1980s, and what it was like as a 13-year-old kid selling crack on the streets?

It was a crazy time. I remember seeing drug lines down the block, and I remember it was a normal thing to see. The community was part of it, and I grew up thinking it was some sort of job. People would say, “Yo, the cops are coming,” and somebody would blow a whistle down the block to warn everyone. Some people would scatter, and sometimes the cops would just turn a blind eye to what they were seeing because there was so much craziness. It was just insane.

I remember seeing buckets filled with drugs coming down from the roof, and people on the street would put their money in the bucket and it would go up and down all day to service everyone in the lines. It was just crazy.

And that was obviously a notoriously crime-ridden part of New York City that made headlines around the world. Were there areas of the city where the police just refused to go into?

You would see the police, but you would not see them doing anything. There was just so much going on that it became normalized – they would walk by prostitutes and just say hi to them, to keep it moving. I felt like they just couldn't control what was happening and they were part of the problem as well. They were doing corrupt stuff. They were taking money under the door or robbing people. I've been robbed by cops before where they take my money and just don't report it.

How did the drug game work as a street-level dealer? Did everyone have their own turf where other crews knew they weren’t supposed to be unless they were trying to take it over?

Yeah, every corner was owned by somebody. But it’s not like the movies where somebody from one corner comes to the next corner and they get shot. Although if you sold drugs on that block, you would have a problem.

I remember having a fight with the guy who sold drugs in my mom's block, and I sold drugs two blocks away. I was walking into the building and saw a common customer, so I served him. Somebody told the other guy, and we got into a fight. He pulled out a knife and started chasing me. It was just things that you would never imagine happening, but it was happening, and there were no cameras around.

Nowadays, people are worried about the cameras watching them. Back then, there were no cellphones with cameras. Everybody had a beeper, and that was it.

Much easier to get away with things before all the surveillance?

Absolutely.

Is there an incident that stands out as particularly brutal that people who haven't lived that life might not have any idea about?

I had a friend/neighbor get shot and killed. He got shot three times in the head, and I was down the block. I was just standing on the corner, and shots rang off. It was over a girl and a cellphone. It was just crazy to see how things could escalate for something so minuscule. Thinking about it now, people would fight for someone stepping on somebody's else’s Jordans [shoes]. “You step on my Jordans, it's an automatic fight,” so it was things of that nature.

I've seen a lot of crazy stuff. There's just so many stories that I could get into, especially with me and my business partner from back in the day. I remember we went to Central Park, and there was a horse and carriage there. We were walking around with our mink coats and joking around with our pimp sticks. And we just had so much money that we were like, “Yo, let's try to bargain with one of these horse carriages and take them back to our neighborhood, so we could sell drugs right from the horse and carriage.” There was a borderline under 42nd Street where they weren’t allowed to go.

So we gave this lady $5,000 to take us to the block, and the kids in the neighborhood started feeding the horses apples and carrots, and we gave everybody money. We were literally going down 5th Avenue having crackheads meet us in a horse and carriage so we could sell them drugs.

We were literally going down 5th Avenue having crackheads meet us in a horse and carriage so we could sell them drugs.

We even took the horse and carriage through a McDonald's drive thru. It was crazy, but we got away with stuff like that.

How would people know that you were the dealer? Or did people recognize you at that point?

At that point I had a delivery service, so I was getting calls all over the city from people who wanted drugs. So while we were riding down 5th Avenue, we were like, “We're about to hit the corner of 14th and 5th. Jump on the horse and carriage, and then jump off.”

And then we were heading to Houston Street: “We're on Houston and Broadway. We're here. Meet us on this corner.” It was like something out of a movie that’s really hard to describe.

It would make for a good movie at some stage in the future! Was there no concern about any of those people wanting to buy drugs possibly being undercover cops? Or was the war on drugs, and the big clean up of the city, done later?

Yeah. Rudy Giuliani [Mayor of New York City] was a man who was against crime. I remember as a kid just being stopped by cops constantly for not doing anything. I've probably been stopped by cops on stop-and-frisk about 200 times just because they knew I was up to no good, but sometimes I was just going to the store or going down the block or just minding my own business.

They stopped me because they said, “You fit the description” or “Somebody said you had a gun on you.” But I never really carried guns at that time. It was crazy.

Eventually you make it from street dealer to head of a crew making more than $5 million dollars a year. How did that transition happen?

We basically changed the way we sold drugs. I remember make little pieces of paper, and writing my number on it, and giving that out to people. In the early 2000s, the neighborhood started getting gentrified, after 9/11.

Nobody wanted to live in the Lower East Side, and I remember landowners offering people like $20,000 just to move out. Then they would fix up the apartments, and rent them out for $3,000 a month, which is crazy. And that’s still happening today.

So gentrification happened quickly. People, mainly white hipsters, started moving in, and they had a lot of money. I remember increasing my price from selling $20 bags to $50 bags, and then $100 per gram, and they just kept escalating like that.

I would buy a kilo for about $20,000 and make $100,000 off of it. And we'd move a kilo in a week.

I did what I could to make sure the person was not a cop. I would hang out with them – meet them in a bar, smoke a blunt with them, and give them my card with a coke sample on it. We would exchange numbers, and that's how it expanded.

But I did get caught through phones, but that's a longer story.

So, at that point, you had this whole business. You got dozens of people on your payroll. You've got drivers, couriers, people working all the different phones as dispatchers. What about the product side – where did that come from, what could you sell it for, and who were you selling it to?

I'm not going to say where the product came from specifically, but everything is derived from South America. It was being delivered directly through mail, people on planes, and that’s how things operated. I would buy a kilo for about $20,000 and make $100,000 off of it. And we'd move a kilo in a week.

You were also dealing to Wall Street executives and other corporate clients. Were they asking for certain drugs that you weren’t currently selling, which you then added to your portfolio?

The only thing that we added to our portfolio was weed. We didn't really have that many categories. When I was younger, I had messed around with hashish, heroin, e-pills, and acid, and all that stuff. But once we started the delivery service, we just straight focused on coke and weed.

Who were the best customers to have?

Those Wall Street people. They had a lot of money. They would move into the city and pay $3,000 a month for a 200 square foot studio apartment. It was crazy to see that. I've never seen people spend money so frivolously.

And there were actually a lot of Australians moving in. I remember them saying back home they paid like $150 a gram for coke. When they came to the city and we told them $100 a gram, they were like, “Wow, can I get 20?”

And it was just like, “Oh shit. This person going all out.”

So you had these people who were moving into New York City, and they were our best customers. They had professional jobs, but they all partied. And then the word got out. Even doctors. I've sold to lawyers, judges, cops. You name it.

At its peak, you were bringing in $5 million a year with more than $2 million in profit. What was your life like at that point – were you happy or were you wanting more?

I was always wanting more, and I was pretty greedy. I had a cold heart. I didn't even care who was hurt by my drugs – I just wanted the money, and I wanted to keep growing. It was crazy. I spent money frivolously and didn't really care what was going on.

I knew the money would keep going and coming, and it was fun. I was not sad at those times! It was a lot of crazy partying and messing around in the streets, and that was just the mentality that I had. I didn't care who I had to step over or hurt to get that money.

That notion of living for the present, rather than trying to set yourself up for the future. Is that why the idea of quitting while you were ahead never entered your mind? Or maybe it did enter your mind?

It did. I definitely wanted to get into some type of real estate. I tried to get my real estate broker license when I was younger, but I had a [criminal] record so that prevented me from entering that business. I was looking into buying foreclosed houses, and buying stuff, and I got caught up with my friend. We spent a lot of money.

When did you realize the whole operation had come undone or was about to become undone, and you were facing some very serious consequences?

It was the day I got caught – it was a total surprise.

We had all our dispatchers setup in condos, with cars and a salary. All they had to do was answer the phone and just tell the people where to go. They had the packages that they handed over to the deliverers. One dispatcher went behind our back, took our business card, and made a new phone number on the card. He then gave those cards away to try and steal our customers. One card ended up with one of my clients who had my personal number.

So this client of mine hits me up, and I used to hang out with this guy. He's like, “Yo, this guy gave me a card. It's a new number now and the product is not the same.” And I'm like, “What are you talking about?” because our product was always grade A. We didn't cut anything. It was straight from the ship to your nose, and that's how we delivered it.

Our product was always grade A. We didn't cut anything. It was straight from the ship to your nose, and that's how we delivered it.

He was like, “Yeah. They're serving green bags.” And I'm like, “That's not my bags. My bags are clear.”

I asked him for the phone number on the card he was given. I called the number and heard a dispatcher that I employed answer that phone, and I was like, “Yo, what the fuck are you doing?” and he quickly hung up. That dispatcher had all the phones in his possession at the time.

I had a connection with T-Mobile, and we only used prepaid phones, so I went and turned off all the phones and started again with new cell phones. But the phone number he had started was being tapped by federal agents. I had taken that phone number and started operating with it because I thought it was all the customers he stole from me.

So that's where the investigation started. They had a year-long investigation on me. They had a bunch of cell phones from all my drivers, but didn't even know that there were six other phones that we were operating with. The reason we had so many phones was because each one only held 1,500 to 2,500 contact numbers. Back then, you couldn't hold tens of thousands of contacts in a phone.

And we just kept pushing it. I remember not trusting anymore dispatchers. I started doing a lot more myself, and that's how we got caught.

I remember going to the stash house to drop off some weed. As I walked upstairs, I was getting a whole bunch of calls from clients. So, I was sending all my drivers out, and one at a time they were getting picked up. I don't know if you remember the Nextel phones with the walkie talkie, but when it didn’t go through it used to go “beep, beep” when they were busy, like someone was on the phone. And it kept doing that, so I kept sending other drivers to different places because we had a list of 50 people waiting for us, but it kept happening.

That night, after my ninth driver was unresponsive, I said, “Fuck that. I don’t know what these guys are doing. I can’t wait, so I'm going to go make these deliveries myself.”

So, I grabbed a whole bunch of packages, but as soon as I got downstairs, I saw this white… I'm in the middle of the Bronx, like a straight black and Hispanic neighborhood. You don't see white people there, but I saw this big white guy, and he was standing outside the house. He pulled out his badge and said, “This is Federal Agent Joseph King. Your whole operation is over.”

And I'm like, “What the fuck?”

He said, “You’re Coss Marte, right?”

And I said, “I don't know what you're talking about.”

I turned to run, but they quickly tackled me. They pulled out their warrant, went upstairs, and knew exactly where everything was stored. One of the drivers had told them where everything was stashed. I just knew that somebody had told because, when they brought me upstairs, they were like, “Don't worry, we know everything.”

They knew exactly.

I had about 500 pairs of Jordans, which I sold to start Conbody. The cops went exactly to the pair of sneakers where all the drugs were at in that box, and they opened it up. Game over.

Wow. So you were arrested and initially faced a life sentence because of the three-strikes-law that imposed a mandatory life sentence if you had two prior convictions. Due to equal parts luck and some changes in government, you ended up with a seven-year sentence with a non-parole period of five years. What was it like in court, just sitting there waiting to see how much of your life was going to be taken from you?

It was nerve-wracking. It was definitely one of the most nerve-wracking situations that I’ve ever faced. I've been in shootouts, I've seen people pass away in front of me, but to be in cuffs and see a judge who decides the future of your life… it’s like they can kill you right there. And once you're away, you're not alive, and that's how I felt.

You're off to prison at that point. It wasn't the first time you'd been to prison, but it was the largest sentence. How was your first night on the inside, knowing that it was going to be a long time before you'd be able to see your son again?

It was sad and it’s what hurt me the most. I remember that day I got arrested, I spent pretty much the whole day with him and my wife ... Well, she was my fiancée at the time, and we got married when I was inside prison, but divorced when we got out. But yeah, it was hard. If anybody has kids, you feel it in your heart.

And then also speaking to him over the phone was tough. I taught him his ABCs over the prison phone. And he would also come to visit me and say, "When are you coming home?" And that broke my heart, to hear him cry and have to tell him, "I can't go home."

What's an average day like in prison?

You try to forget about the real world. You're living in a different planet in there – it’s just a different set of rules. There's a lot of racism going on in US prisons. There's black gangs, Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, and all types of gangs running stuff. Sometimes you end up in a housing unit that's full of mostly Bloods, sometimes you're in a Crip house, sometimes you're in a Latin King house. You just have to be ready to adapt.

I knew how to adapt because I was a kid when I first went to prison. I remember when I was a kid, I had a fight every single day because I was not part of a gang. The adults are a bit more lenient in terms of you not being in a gang, but that meant you still couldn't do things like use certain phones.

In prison, there were three pay phones: a neutral phone, a Spanish phone, and a black gang phone. I was not in a gang, but I was always hanging out with the Spanish gangs, so I was okay to use the Spanish phone. Sometimes other gang members would take away that neutral phone, so if you're not part of that unit, you couldn't make a phone call.

I've seen people extorted for food, have fights over TV. Actually, a lot of fights over the TV – someone might be watching the Spanish channel, whereas someone else might want to watch regular news, so they just go up to the TV and change it. You just have to be ready to fight. It's crazy.

They say, “Pull out your gun.” You don’t have a gun, but it’s what they call knives. Your knife is your gun, and that's what they’d say.

Was it more violent inside or on the streets?

It was definitely more violent inside prison. In the streets, you could be incognito, especially after things changed with cell phones and delivery services. It was not that corner-to-corner type of issue from back in the day.

Were you able to work and earn wages inside prison?

Yes, I was working as a customer service agent for the Department of Motor Vehicles, earning seven cents an hour.

Seven cents an hour?

Yes, that’s an hour. My monthly wage was $40.

That's crazy. How do they justify seven cents an hour?

I have no idea. It's all a robbery. It's a money-making business. The department pays the inmates a certain amount, and the prison take a cut. So they could say like, “Hey, we'll deliver all the customer agents for you for $10 an hour rather than $20 an hour.” And then you get paid whatever they tell you you're going to get paid.

I was working as a customer service agent for the Department of Motor Vehicles, earning seven cents an hour.

You’re stuck because you want to do something while you're inside. You have to do something, just to keep occupied. And if you don't work, you get in trouble too.

There are so many ways you cease being human when you enter the prison system.

Yeah. It's part of the law. Basically, to be incarcerated, you’re subject to being enslaved.

Well, five years in, you're only a couple of months away from being released, but an unwarranted assault from a guard lands you in solitary and stacks more time on your sentence. How that did happen, and how did you keep the faith?

I was devastated when I ended up in solitary confinement. I had two months left before my release, and I remember one of the officers beat me up and threw me in solitary confinement with 24-hour lockdown. I was devastated. I felt hopeless. I thought I couldn't get out of the situation, but then an officer came to my door, opened up the food slot, and passed me a pen, paper, and an envelope. I quickly grabbed them so I could communicate with my family.

So, I wrote a letter to let my family know about the whole situation, and how this officer set me up and beat me up. As I sealed the letter, I realized I had no stamp to send it out and I became even more restless.

I sat on my bed and started banging my head on the wall, just frustrated. Hopeless. It was not until three or four days later when my sister found out I was in solitary. She wrote me a letter and said, “We found out you're in solitary. Everything is going to be all right. All I want you to do is pray.” My sister is super religious, and she told me to pray to Psalm 91.

But I was like, "Fuck that. I don't need god and I don't need religion. I need a lawyer. I need to fight this case. This guy is trying to set me up."

It was not until a couple of days later where I decided to pick up the bible, which was the only thing in the cell. The bible is the only thing that follows you around through your whole prison sentence, and it was this bible that she gave me early in my incarceration in Rikers Island.

To be incarcerated, you’re subject to being enslaved.

And I turned to Psalm 91, which states, “He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord. He is my shelter and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” And as soon as I read those words, a stamp fell out of the Psalm pages, and that gave me chills.

I don't know. I was struck by awe, and I kept reading, and something weird happened to me. I was in 100+ degree weather, a super-hot cell, frustrated, but every time I read the bible I felt like I was in cool 70 degree weather, and sitting in the Caribbean. Every time I began reading, I escaped that cell. I got lost in the words, and I read the bible from front to back. I'm not a super religious person, and I'm not trying to convert anyone, but that is what happened to me.

Through reading the bible, I started realizing that what I had been doing was wrong. I felt like drugs were okay to sell. Previously, I had felt like I was not doing anything wrong – that it was the system that was wrong. I thought I was the victim in every situation.

And then I started realizing that I was affecting not only the thousands of people that I sell drugs to, but I started thinking about their families. I started thinking about my family. I started thinking about this web of destruction that I'd created, and I felt so much regret. I said, “I want to get back in some sort of way.”

I came up with the idea of ConBody in that cell. Then, I lost 70 pounds in six months, while helping 20 other inmates lose more than 1,000 pounds combined.

So, I started this whole workout program in the prison yard. I knew then that it’s what I wanted to do when I came home: a prison-style bootcamp. In my cell, I wrote a mini-business plan and a 90-day workout plan. I said to myself that I would do what I wrote, and I did.

About a year later, I came home and put it into action. I started training classes in the park, then rented out studios, then eventually opened up my own studio. It escalated to building an online workout platform where I now train thousands of people all over the world. Today, we've trained more than 50,000 people. But the most beautiful thing is that we've hired over 40 people coming out of the prison system, and none of them have come back into the system.

That's incredible. In New York, aren’t 53% of released prisoners likely to be back inside prison within three years?

Yes, and that's just three years. Within five years, it's 76%. Within eight years, 82% of the people will go back into the system. So more than three out of four people will go back, and I'm a proven statistic. I recidivated, and it a lot has to do with the lack of opportunities that you receive when you get out of the system and come home.

So you were inside and came up with what you thought was a solid business idea, but it was only when you got started that you realized just how good it was. How were you able to spread the word about ConBody? And were there any principles or lessons you had from your former life that were able to help you build it?

Yeah. I remember when I got out of solitary confinement, I had to do this group class for a couple of months called ASAT – the alcohol, substance abuse treatment program. In the middle of the class, full of inmates, they ask us what our plan is when we come home. I remember getting up in front of the class and telling everyone, “Look, I'm going to start a prison-style bootcamp. I'm going to hire people coming out of the system.” And I told them the whole idea of ConBody.

They all laughed and thought I was crazy, but that got me mad. I said, “This shit is going to fucking pop off! I know how to build the business from the ground up.” And that was just my mentality: that nothing was going to stop me. I was determined to make this thing happen.

My mentality was nothing is going to stop me.

Then I came home and used the same marketing and hustling skills that I used when I was selling drugs. I was going up to random people and giving them my business card. Any females wearing yoga pants who were jogging down the block, I would chase after them and pitch them left and right! I just kept doing it, and from there it started escalating.

Did you find people who were currently incarcerated and go into the prisons to train them as personal trainers? Or was it once they were released, you were able to train them as personal trainers and bring them into Conbody?

Yeah, once they were released. At the start, I was doing everything myself – teaching all the classes and running the whole business. I couldn't afford to pay anyone in the beginning stages. It took me a little over a year and a half before I hired my first guy. Then, one of the guys who I was locked up with that saw me lose a lot of weight, he contacted me immediately when he came home because he’d read about me in an article and became my Facebook friend. He hit me up and said, “Hey, yo. Can I be a trainer there?” So I brought him on board, and it kept spreading like that.

I love it. And this year, you started a crowdfunding campaign for Second Chance Studios, which has raised more than $60,000. What's your aim with Second Chance Studios, and why is it such an important project for you?

One of the biggest issues when people are coming out of the prison system is that we have a lot of manual labor jobs, and that's pretty much the only job you can get when you come out. One out of five people unemployed in America are formerly incarcerated people, which is crazy. That's millions and millions of people with criminal histories, and that correlates to people going back. Especially during COVID time, anybody who had a manual labor job pretty much lost their job. So now with the technical skill side of it, we want to launch Second Chance Studios so we can hire and train people to do podcasting work, video production, and audio engineering.

We want to have corporations hire these individuals once they’ve gone through our program and solidified their training. That would also be helpful for me because I want to hire people with those skills for the ConBody side, too.

It's perfect timing with the pandemic and the push to remote work, where people can offer their expertise from the comfort of their own home.

You've been a TEDx speaker, an author, and done all these amazing things. How long ago was it since you were released and able to start doing all these awesome ventures?

It's been a while. March 2013.

I have the utmost respect for the journey that you have been on. It was obviously a very difficult upbringing, but the bigger the setback, the bigger the comeback.

There seems to be a resistance to helping formerly incarcerated individuals develop skills and earn money. It’s like people would rather be afraid of them from a distance, and it remains a taboo subject. Yet, we need that change to happen if we’re to have a meaningful society. If you had one change to make to the prison system, what would it be?

I think we need to believe in redemption. Everyone in this planet has committed some type of mistake, something immoral or something bad. Not everyone's perfect, and we need to realize that we all commit mistakes. If we didn't commit mistakes, we wouldn't learn from our mistakes. But our system in the US is all about punishment. It’s a correction facility, and we need to correct the problem.

To do that, we need to recruit people who care. Instead of bringing in correctional officers who just want to beat you up with batons and turn you more into a criminal, why not have trained correctional officers and staff members who really care? People who want to correct the problem, to train and reform individuals, and who believe in second chances.

Hopefully sharing your story on platforms like this can help initiate that change.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Coss does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give her 18-year-old self, his favorite book, and a whole lot more 🚀


Final question. What's one thing you do to Win the Day?

Working out is the biggest thing for me. I feel so accomplished when I wake up in the morning and go for a run or workout.

Resources / links mentioned:

💪 ConBody

🎧 Ex-Dealer, Ex-Junkie Podcast

💚 Second Chance Studios

📚 ConBody: The Revolutionary Bodyweight Prison Boot Camp, Born from an Extraordinary Story of Hope

🎤 TEDx Talk

📸 Coss Marte on Instagram

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