8 Questions with Jesse Itzler

I know that I send out a lot of these. If there was just one video and one interview that you read that could completely change your life, it's this one. Jesse Itzler's life story, and specifically his experiences with Navy SEAL David Goggins, absolutely blew me away when the two came to visit Steiner Sports yesterday. 

Imagine it's the 1990s and you're a rapper on MTV. Fast-forward to 20 years later and where do you think you would be? A highly successful entrepreneur? An NBA owner? Living with a Navy SEAL and writing a book about it?

Perhaps that's a lot to take in for most people, but not for Jesse Itzler because that's exactly what he did. Jesse lives one of the most unbalanced lives of anyone I know, and he is incredibly successful because of it. He is one of the most incredibly driven people I have ever met. He went from writing the New York Knicks Go NY Go theme song to founding Marquis Jet and then Zico coconut water (among other endeavors). He married the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely and the two recently became part owners of the Atlanta Hawks. Recently he and his family lived with former Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer David Goggins for 31 days and he just released a book about it, Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet.

Simply put: the man know how to pitch, and he knows how to work. There is a lot to be learned from Jesse and after he came to speak to the staff at Steiner Sports yesterday, I had an incredible conversation with him (below), which I hope you will enjoy...don't forget to pick up a copy of the book (you can also enter to win one below). It will change your life! 




Brandon Steiner: Who did you write this book for and why did you write this book?

JI: I first saw “SEAL” (as I refer to him in the book) at a 100 mile ultra marathon.  I was running the race as part of a 6 person relay team where each person would alternate running various legs of the race. SEAL didn’t have a team, he was running the entire race…alone. By mile 70 he had broken all the small bones in both of his feet…and he still FINISHED the race. I was so inspired by his determination that I flew out to meet him and during that meeting I decided to invite him to come live with my family and me for 31 days. The motivation and life lessons I got from our journey together were so powerful I thought a book would be the best way to share them.


BS: How does this book relate to the average person that’s trying to  get himself in tip-top shape? What kind of impact will it have for them?

JI: I think we all need a little kick in the butt sometimes and SEAL took the concept of “no excuses” to the next level.  Like so many of us, at the time I wrote this book I was struggling with  discipline. We are all disciplined in our own ways, but being consistently disciplined is so hard to maintain. SEAL showed me how to find my motivation and how to push through those thoughts of quitting. Many readers have told me that this book has motivated them to work harder, not just in the gym but in multiple buckets of their life. Roger that!

BS: How have you developed some of the most difficult and diverse set of relationships? LeBron, Coach K, a Navy SEALs...why you? What is the common thread between everything you have done in your life from being a rapper on MTV to being a highly successful entrepreneur and now an NBA owner?

JI: I didn’t have any past experience in any of the businesses with which I have been involved.  I think the common theme there is that I didn’t let that inexpereience or the fear of the unknown deter me from going after it.  I have always relied on my gut and followed my passion and it’s been very rewarding.

BS: What were some of the challenges you faced early on in life? How did you handle them?

JI: One of my biggest challenges early on (still is) is that I got bored easily.  It’s really hared for me to stay focused on one thing for a long period of time. I think now they would probably classify it as ADHD, but when I was growing up it was just called "being bored.”  That challenge has also been the biggest blessing for me as it has allowed me to enter a variety of different fields and try so many different things.

BS: Living with a Navy SEAL for 31 days- what surprised you about the experience?

JI: I thought we were going to “ease” into our journey, but there was to be NO easing. We got right into it. SEAL took my daily routine and turned it upside down, but what I learned was that when you mix up your daily routine and step out of your comfort zone amazing things happen. For me, the harder the challenge and the more difficult the task…the more rewarding and alive I felt. SEAL lives his life like that and some of it rubbed off on me.

BS: Can the average person achieve some of a Navy SEAL’s mental skills? How?

JI: Absolutely. I think a lot of us already have those mental skills, but rarely tap into it. Look at marathon runners who hit the wall during a marathon. They have to tap into a mental energy that they may not have known they had to break through the wall.  One of the big takeaways from the book is what SEAL calls the 40% rule:  When your brain tells you that you’re done, you’re really only 40% done. That is something I have applied to various buckets in my life and has really resonated with those that have read the book.

BS: You famously offered to run a 100-mile race to impress a woman,  whom you ended up marrying of course. What’s the key to being bold and taking risks?

JI: I think it’s important to not be scared of embarrassment.  Anytime you put yourself out there it comes with great risk. My wife and I always discuss the importance of letting go of what other people think of you. That is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. 

BS: What’s next for you?

JI: Living With A SEAL is the first in a series of books I am writing where I live with interesting people. I’m going to live with a Monk next! 

BS: Thank you, Jesse.

About Jesse Itzler
Jesse Itzler only eats fruit until noon, loves Run-D.M.C., and enjoys living life “out of the box," actually, he doesn't even have a box. He cofounded Marquis Jet, the world’s largest prepaid private jet card company in 2001, which he and his partner sold to Berkshire Hathaway/NetJets. He then helped pioneer the coconut water craze with Zico coconut water, which he and his partners sold to The Coca-Cola Company in 2013. He is a former rapper on MTV and he produced both the NBA’s Emmy Award-winning “I Love This Game” music campaign and the popular New York Knicks anthem “Go NY Go.” When he is not running ultra marathons or being a dad to his three kids, Jesse can be found at the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks games, where he is an owner of the team. He is married to Spanx founder Sara Blakely and the couple and their 3 boys live in Atlanta, Georgia.

About Chief Petty Officer David Goggins
There is no one quite like Chief Petty Officer David Goggins.  As a Navy SEAL, Goggins was one of an elite group of men regularly sent on some of the toughest missions in the world.   Goggins military record is astonishing.  He is the only member in the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training (including two Hell Weeks), the U.S. Army Ranger School (where he graduated as Honor Man), and Air Force tactical air controller training.  Goggins faced combat in Iraq, and served as the body guard for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. 

Always one for a challenge, Goggins took that drive to be the best and set about conquering the toughest sporting events known to man.  He is now considered to be one of the greatest endurance athletes in the country.  In less than four years, Goggins completed more than 30 endurance races.  These sporting events include multiple ultra-marathons, triathlons, ultra-triathlons, bike races, and arduous mountain ascents, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five.  In 2007, shortly before he was diagnosed with a hole in his heart, David completed 203.5 miles in the 48-Hour National Championship endurance foot race, beating previous records by 20 miles and earning a spot among the top 20 ultra-marathoners of the word.  His extraordinary achievement earned him a feature story in Runner’s World, where he was named a “Running Hero.”

Goggins’ life is a metaphor for adversity destruction.  His bold, “no excuses” approach makes him a wanted commodity on the speaking circuit.  He has received invitations to speak at college campuses and business forums, as well as, top sports teams.  Goggins is passionate about his focus on positive mindset.  His message is one of overcoming diversity and pushing yourself to the limit and beyond.  He’s pure old school, and that’s precisely what makes him one of a rare and unparalleled breed of men.

"Living with a SEAL" by Jesse Itzler Signed Book Giveaway

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