This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Jason Pohl. Jason is a former wealth management entrepreneur turned professional athlete, specifically Ironman Racing. As many of you know, I race Ironmans and have a real love for the sport and what it takes just to finish one of these races.
But, Jason takes it to a whole other level. He races internationally all over the world and has been featured everywhere from Running Magazine to Impact Magazine. He trains 7 days a week for 7-8 hours per day and has finished Top 5 in many Ironmans around the world, as well as qualifying for the world championships in Kona. Additionally, he coaches other athletes on training and nutritional programs.
There are so many parallels between Ironman racing and entrepreneurship and I wanted to have Jason on to share his thoughts and what it was like to take the leap of faith and sell everything to pursue his dream.
Jason was an elite hockey player for 16 years into college. After school he was looking for the next challenge and got into triathlon. He thought because he was an elite hockey player, he would be good, but was quickly humbled by the sport and what it takes to really compete.
2014 was his first amateur season for Ironman at 22 years old. After his first Ironman, he found out that he qualified for the world championships in Kona, HI. He still didn’t know much about what he was doing. He raced Kona and ended up in the hospital because he didn’t understand nutrition and did not take care of his body during the race. It was in the hospital that he made the decision to go after it as a career.
2015 was his first year going toward pro and after 2 years, became a pro with 2017 as his first season.
Tell us what it was like to make the leap and leave your business and become a pro…
- It is scary.
- You can’t serve two masters
- Jason was training 30+ hours a week and running his business
- It was a hard decision that took a lot of deep soul searching and brutal honesty.
- Ultimately, he had to go with what was truly aligned with his purpose and his heart which was racing.
- He sold off everything and took the leap.
- It’s been a year and things are starting to click with his sponsors, speaking, and racing.
What advice would you give people that are in the position you were in to help them make their leap?
- Take time for a lot of reflection.
- Be completely honest with yourself which is hard to do.
- The opportunity lies in the toughness of being honest to your core. That is where breakthroughs happen.
- The hardest thing to do is to be really honest with yourself.
Can you explain Ironman and what it takes for you to do what you do at your level?
- Ironman is the world’s most challenging single day endurance sports. It is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and then a full marathon.
- At the professional level is takes between 8-8.5 hours
- Jason trains for 35 hours a week and the has different therapies
- On top of that is the business with sponsors, marketing, etc.
- Its 70+ hours a week, 7 days a week.
Tell us more about the business around being a professional athlete…
- A lot of it is on the performance side with prize money and bonuses.
- Then you have sponsors which is no different than client acquisitions and really pay for the travel and gear needed to compete.
- You treat sponsors as your price possession. They are your clients.
- It is not an easy road and no different than building a business – you try things, adjust, put processes in place, and never stop working on it.
- You must have a dream and a goal to push you.
How do you get and hold onto sponsors?
- First, you have to get your mindset right.
- High energy, high passion, and knowing your why is very important.
- Be present when meeting with anyone you are trying to do business with – listen intently and really understand how you can help them succeed.
- Ultimately, it is a relationship and you both are impacting each other.
How does training and competing in Ironman’s relate to business and entrepreneurship?
- It can be presented as very glamorous and glorious, but it is no different than building a business.
- It is hard work that you have to grind out.
- You have days where don’t have it and are tired and don’t want to train or get rejections from sponsors.
- With any success in life it boils down to the consistency and discipline.
- If you take a day off, your competitors are out working you and it will impact you in races – just like in the business world. You have to do the mundane things you don’t want to do every day.
- You have show up every day.
At the 27-minute mark, Jason talks about persistence and his hardest time in Ironman…
- Get clear on your dream and real life and commitments, it is easier to persistent.
- This comes through in your business interactions as well.
- His hardest time was going into his second season as he came off a great first season. He got mano and when he was recovered, got into a bike crash, got a concussion, then had to drop out of the next race because wasn’t healed enough. Later in the season, he go into another bike crash. He ended up 3 races out of the top 10 with an unfinished race.
- He made very little money as he did not place and went through self-doubt.
- His coach helped him get through it.
Talk to us about the power and importance of mindset and the mental game…
- It is everything. It is the difference between being world class and not.
- What you believe is a direct reflection in your outer life.
- It all comes down to your inner belief and mindset.
- The first thing to know is that you can define the feelings you have. For example, you can redefine anxiety as your power to be ready to go.
- You can change you mind in an instant. It is hard in a low energy state where negative thoughts creep in. But you can change it. You can use a phrase or something that changes your physiological state – a trigger.
- At the 39:30 mark, Jason talks about “anchors”
- Anchors are movements or power phrases
Best Quote: “Get clear on your goals and commitments. When you get clear on why you are doing what you are doing, everything will fall into place as you connect into your purpose."
Jason's Misfit 3:
- You are the author of your external life which is a direct reflection of your internal life.
- Enjoy the journey. Live your life backwards.
- Connect to your mortality. Reflect on the last day of your life and ask how you want to be remembered? Who do you need to become to be this person?