Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena's maiden appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience was a hit! The two Joes bonded over two-and-a-half entertaining hours and talked about everything from the mafia to video games to marijuana. Yes, two-and-a-half hours is a LONG time, so we've put in the legwork and broken it down by subject matter.
Why does De Sena carry one everywhere he goes? He explains the origin of his kettlebell, Leo, and some of his misadventures traveling with it around the globe.
The Warrior Call, and Living In Asia
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, De Sena began the 5:30 a.m. Warrior Call, with conversation and analysis from people on every corner of the globe. Plus, De Sena talks to Rogan about his time living in Asia, and how their culture and lifestyle compares to ours.
Chris Davis Comes to the Farm, Drops Almost 400 Pounds
When Chris Davis came to De Sena's farm in Vermont, he weight 696 pounds. Eighteen months — and more than 400 pounds — later, he was down to 265. How did he do it? He lived on the farm, hiked 10 miles daily — as he dropped more and more weight, he upped it to 20 miles — and ate literally nothing but raw fruits and vegetables. De Sena took his wallet and keys and forced him to stay on the farm. The result was a remarkable transformation.
Lessons Learned From the Mafia
De Sena grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Howard Beach, Queens, which just so happened to be an organized crime hotbed. His neighbor, a mafia boss, taught him many lessons that he would take with him the rest of his life. The main three? Always be on time, make yourself irreplaceable, and never ask for money. De Sena chats about his lucrative pool cleaning business, which was tied to organized crime members. He also touches on his bohemian mother, who was into yoga back in the 1970s, well before it was hip and trendy to do so. It was in fact De Sena's mom who inspired him to do yoga, eat healthy, take cold showers, and put a premium on health and wellness.
The Spartan Paradox
What is The Spartan Paradox? It's about picking a date, marking it in your calendar, setting a goal, and getting to work. Of course, as Rogan points out, there have certainly been instances in which picking a date has not worked, but it certainly increases the likelihood that you'll ultimately accomplish what you set out to accomplish.
Joe De Sena Goes to College
After graduating high school, you go to college, right? Not De Sena, who was so enamored with the "neighborhood" – aka the gangsters — that he wanted to stay in Queens and go to work. A buddy of his had a connection to Cornell University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States. Despite the connection, De Sena didn't get in – his grades were not nearly strong enough to warrant admission – and as a result, despite not really wanting to go to college, he saw it as a challenge. He studied like a madman — while concurrently running his business — and, after repeated attempts, was finally accepted.
ADHD, and Working in an Office
De Sena has been very open about his having ADHD, and how he believes it's actually made him more successful in life. Plus, Rogan can think of nothing worse than spending his life in an office, at a 9-to-5 job.
Video Games Are a BIG Problem
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First off, @joerogan was taken out of context about his stance on gaming. If you watch the proper clip we talk about the issue of the youth spending so much time on it. His point was that you can spend countless hours on it without a real sense of progress as opposed to martial arts as an example. Kids gaming for 7 hours a day is a waste of time in my opinion. Yes you can make a career of it but the chances are far to none. At least if you spend so much time on other skills those skills will help you later in life. Now if you’re gaming for an hour or two after work to relax that’s one thing. But kids gaming for the entire day is a big problem.
Kids Camp at the Farm
What is the kids camp?! As De Sena explains it, it's 14 days of craziness at his farm in Pittsfield, Vermont. He explains why he decided to put the camp on, how he got his "campers," and the goal of turning them into little warriors. He also reads some of the text messages from kids to their parents, which are either harrowing, hilarious, or inspirational — or perhaps a combination of the three — depending on how you look at it. As much as the kids struggled during those two strenuous weeks — the struggle is the whole point — they felt a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at the conclusion and actually thanked De Sena for putting them through it. Many even asked when the next one would be!
C.T. Fletcher, our master motivator and the host of Don't Break With C.T. Fletcher, is friends with both Joes. They talk about the six-time powerlifting champion's remarkable journey — he flatlined five times — and De Sena tells Rogan about the ridiculous workout that C.T. put him through.
The Greatest Hunting Story Ever Told, and More Adventures From the Farm
De Sena knows that Rogan is a hunting aficionado, so he regaled him with, in our opinion, perhaps the greatest hunting story every told. The main components: a dead deer — allegedly tackled and killed with a handsaw — ferocious Slovakian carpenters, and a Turkish driver with a major appetite. (We can't do it justice by writing it out. You just have to listen to De Sena tell it.) Plus, De Sena talks about his experience on Wall Street, why he left it for the farm life, and his Scottish Highland cows.
How De Sena Started Spartan
After leaving an unfulfilling career on Wall Street, and falling into less-than-optimal shape due to constantly being sedentary at his desk, De Sena began to try his hand at ultra-endurance races. He was immediately hooked. He wanted to share that feeling of being truly alive, of ripping others off the couch and out of chairs, and thus Spartan Race was born. Plus, De Sena talks about his battle with Tough Mudder, which Spartan acquired earlier this year.
Are There Benefits in Indulgence?
De Sena doesn't believe so. Rogan, on the other hand, points to iconic author Stephen King, who did some of his best work when he was under the influence of substances and living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. Could you reach that level of genius without substances, Rogan wonders? And is it different for creative endeavors? Regardless, both agree that one thing is always detrimental to success and productivity: inactivity. This back and forth is one of the most interesting parts of the podcast.
Vitamin Deficiency and Global Eating Habits
De Sena's extreme diet has been well-documented. Unlike Rogan, who loves meat, De Sena primarily eats vegetables.
De Sena's Philosophy: Fire, Take Shots
De Sena admittedly has too many irons in the fire, and simply does too many things. Most would argue, however, that that's exactly why he's so successful. His philosophy isn't ready, fire, aim; his approach is to continually fire and take shots in rapid succession.
What has COVID-19 taught us about our society, and our weaknesses? The Joes discuss how the United States handled the pandemic, in comparison to other nations, and De Sena takes Rogan through Spartan's return to racing in Jacksonville, in June. De Sena and his family, along with a few Spartan staff members, road-tripped down to Florida from Vermont and noticed that Southerners largely viewed the pandemic differently from their northern counterparts.
The Government's Role in Your Health
Both Joes agree that the government needs to take a greater interest in people's health and wellness, but they disagree on how to reasonably make change. De Sena ideates about a sugar tax, and other such restrictions, to force people to make better choices. Rogan, vouching for freedom, believes that if they want to make such choices, it's on them. It's not up to the government to make such mandates, he argues. Both agree that the American diet is destructive, and the government has to do a better job of educating the public and encouraging healthier habits.
Smoking Joints and Hard Exercise
Rogan is a major proponent of marijuana. (De Sena, as you could have guessed, is not.) Why, De Sena asks? Rogan explains its benefits, both for him personally and as a whole, and how it mitigates stress levels and calms inner demons. De Sena equates that to exercise, with both agreeing that if everyone exercised — even just 20 or 30 minutes daily — the world would be a far better, and happier, place.
The Importance of a Rite of Passage
Human beings NEED a rite of passage, De Sena argues, which is what he claims he's giving kids at his camp in Vermont. Either you pay now or you pay later. Anybody can thrive when times are good, but the real test comes when things are tough. Consistency is key — forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do. Spartan shines a mirror in your face, De Sena says, leading to incredible transformations. Plus, the two Joes talk about the constant negativity that encompasses social media.
Joe Rogan Is Leaving LA for Texas
If Rogan's video games take was his most newsworthy part of the episode, his confirmation that he's moving to Texas was a close second. Rogan explains why he's ditching Los Angeles for Texas. What about Vermont, alongside his new pal? Thanks, but no thanks. It's too cold up there.
De Sena and Rogan Talk Stand-Up Comedy
Is performing stand-up comedy scary? Not for him, Rogan says, and also adds that he loves all of his ventures — the podcast, the stand-up, and the MMA commentating. Plus, they touch on Rogan's latest Netflix stand-up special.
What Is De Sena MOST Excited About Right Now?
More than anything, he's jacked up about the kids camp in Vermont, where he feels he's making a huge impact on young Spartans' lives. The camp is simple: Kids eat only healthy food and drink only water, go to bed early, and are allowed no more than 30 minutes of screen time daily. Another camp is in the works, so stay tuned!