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Joe De Sena CEO and Founder of Spartan on Passion, Resiliency, and Health

Podcast Host Jamie Allison sits down with Joe De Sena – Founder and CEO of Spartan, the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand to talk about leadership, perseverance, raising resilient kids, and achieving BIG goals. Joe has appeared with or been interviewed by everyone from Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss to Grant Cardone and Gary Vaynerchuk.

You Use It or You Lose It

Jamie relays to Joe how some people perceive the Spartan Race and his own hard-hitting lifestyle as un-relatable. Joe thinks that most people who feel that way are wired to avoid discomfort. In actuality, human beings are programmed to avoid discomfort.

“We learn helplessness with each passing day, each passing generation. We lose the tool set that allowed us to navigate the world and face some obstacles that gave us resiliency. So all I'm doing, all you see me doing, and all you hear me stating is: I pushed myself outside my comfort zone because I don't want to lose it. You either use it or lose it, right?” - Joe De Sena

Joe proudly shares he learned how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. He trained himself to wake up early and exercise and he has also taught his kids the same mindset that he has.

Daily Exercise Is Non-Negotiable

Joe built a swimming pool cleaning company in the past and gives Jamie a great analogy relating the human body to swimming pools. Exercising is just like the pool filter and not exercising is stopping the filter from cleaning the pool.

“All I'm saying is, we are asking this 13-gallon swimming of our bodies to process all this crap, food and drinks that we put in it and we're not even turning the pump on. So my message to the world is like, stop eating the garbage. But if you can't stop it, at least keep your pump and filter clean.” - Joe de Sena

He poses a question to all entrepreneurs or other individuals out there who have goals to achieve, big or small, why are they not taking care of their bodies? Everybody definitely needs a healthy body to be able to perform and function well.

“So if it's not enough motivation to say that you're going to live longer, you're gonna be happier, you're gonna have more sex, you're gonna sleep better, you're going to like everything in your lif...if that's not enough? Well, you're going to more likely achieve your goal. Yeah, whatever those goals. Like everything in your life is better.” - Joe De Sena

The Success of Spartan Race

Joe shares that he has been battling the health and fitness industry for 20 years now, 15 of those years he had been losing money. He acknowledges the fact that the gym industry, MMA training, and other health and fitness boomed, which benefited them as well.

“I think because we were authentic and really focused on making people better. It wasn't a business for us. When we do our board meetings, it's like, ‘how many lives did we change?’ That's our first focus. I think consumers feel that. Because of that authenticity and the fact that we time people, we rank them, we officiate, people want to be better. They want to test themselves. It's a confluence of all those things that came together. And we're still standing here. We're still battling.” - Joe De Sena

To know more about Joe De Sena, the Spartan Race and his thoughts on passion, resilience, and health, download and listen to this episode.


Joe de Sena has demonstrated his entrepreneurial drive since his pre-teens.

After building a multi-million dollar pool and construction business in college, and creating a Wall Street trading firm, De Sena set his sights on ripping 100 million people off their couches by creating the Spartan lifestyle.

Following a successful career on Wall Street, De Sena moved his family to Pittsfield, Vermont to operate an organic farm, a bed and breakfast, and a general store for hikers. It was here his passion grew for ultramarathons, adventure races, and endurance events, and thus the idea for Spartan was born.

Joe has competed in any extreme sports adventure he could find, testing his mental and physical endurance against nature.

With more than one million annual global participants at more than 270 events across more than 40 countries, Spartan offers heats for all fitness levels and ages, from beginner to elite and Kids as young as four-years-old. The brand has transformed more than seven million lives since it was founded in 2010.

Throughout his lifetime, Joe has competed in any extreme sports adventure he could find, testing his mental and physical endurance against nature. Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion. His racing resume is the stuff of legend – over 50 ultra-events overall and 14 Ironman events in one year alone.

De Sena is also the New York Times Best Selling Author of “Spartan Up” and “Spartan Fit,” and recently released his third book, “The Spartan Way.” As a popular key note speaker, De Sena has parlayed the teachings of his Spartan Principals into the SpartanX Leadership Forum, a series of events in which participants collaborate to solve challenges alongside business leaders while learning to overcome mental and physical obstacles.

In addition to race events, the Spartan lifestyle that De Sena built encompasses all the tools one needs to transform their lives including partnerships with fitness brands such as Life Time, 24Hour Fitness and the DailyBurn; complementary training, nutrition plans and content; television series on NBC and Facebook; forthcoming documentaries about the brand, sport and health; and an extensive line of apparel and licensed fitness gear and equipment.


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