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Jenna Wolfe and the importance of taking risks in life

By November 23, 2016 No Comments
jenna_wolfe“So my overall message when I speak to anyone is that life isn’t dress rehearsal. This is it. This is your life. This is the only shot you get.” –Jenna Wolfe

Jenna Wolfe was the first fitness and lifestyle correspondent on the Today Show, but recently left to start her own live-streaming show on Facebook called The Jenna Wolfe Show. She is also the author of the book “Thinner in 30: Small changes that add up to big weight loss in just 30 days.” When she left the Today Show, it was unexpected and she talks with Commander Divine about the value of the left turn and making unexpected changes. Timing is often not right but the value of keeping your goal in mind even when it’s not the right time for a change is crucial.  Find out how you can focus on your goals and move on even when it’s hard.

This week’s episode is brought to you by The Neurohacker Collective has recently come out with Qualia, an extensively researched nootropic that combines natural ingredients with the best synthetic ingredients to maximize our capacity to think effectively. It is the “Lamborghini” of nootropics, having been researched and held to higher standards than most new nootropics are. When you purchase an ongoing subscription for Qualia at neurohacker.com, enter the code “unbeatablemind15r” to get 15% off the price of a monthly subscription.

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Other episodes of our podcast that you might be interested in are  Mitch Horowitz , Tony Wrighton and Lewis Howes.

Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, this is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thank you again for joining me this week. I super-appreciate it. I do not take it for granted. It’s amazing. I know you’re busy and there’s about a hundred billion podcasts out there, probably a hundred billion new ones since last week. So it’s cool that you found this and you’re listening, and like I said, I super-appreciate it. And if you want other people to find it, it is definitely helpful if you go to rate the podcast at iTunes. And then when people search for stuff that is similar we’ll pop up. And if you’re not on our email list, please go to unbeatablemind.com/podcast so you can put your name on our email list and we can let you know about all the cool training that we do, and stuff like that.

Introduction

[01:22] I’m really stoked today to meet Jenna Wolfe, our guest. Some of you might recognize the name, because she’s been in the public sphere as the lifestyle and fitness correspondent on NBC’s Today Show. Huge show, she did that for 8 years. She’s got a new book out that we’ll talk about. “Thinner in 30: Small changes that add up to Big Results in 30 days.” I’m excited to talk about that. And has recently kind of branched out to create her own show, which is going to be called “The Jenna Wolfe Show.”
So Jenna, thanks so much for your time. Super-cool to meet you. How are things going?
Jenna Wolfe: Great to meet you as well. Great. It’s busy, and I’m finding that I have less and less time and I’m also finding that nothing makes me happier. So it’s the way it’s going to be for me, and I feed off of it. It’s busy energy. It’s a lot going on. I’ve got 2 little kids, who each have their own schedules. And I’ve got my own schedule, and a partner with her own schedule. So it’s mayhem, but it’s beautiful chaos I like to call it.
Mark: Controlled chaos. Just in some degree. Cause you’re doing what you love. You’re in alignment, so it feels like you’re probably flowing in spite of the chaos a lot of the time.
Jenna: Most days. Most days.
Mark: Good for you. And you live in Manhattan, you just mentioned. How long have you been out there?
Jenna: So, everything NBC based is centered around 30 Rock, which is right here in midtown Manhattan. So it’s much easier if you’re working from here if you live around here, because television is weird. You’re there for a couple hours, you run off to do an interview, you come back there, you come back home, and you have to steal pockets of free time to come home and, like, introduce yourself to your children whenever you get a chance. So for us, we just thought it would be much easier for us to live close by work. And it’s paid off. We’ve been here… I’ve been in the city, gosh, almost 20 years now. My partner, Steph, moved here from London 5 years ago.

Childhood in the Caribbean and Westchester

[03:26] Mark: I see. It looks like, from my notes from Allison that you actually lived in Haiti? And that you are… you actually weren’t born in Haiti, were you? You were born in Jamaica.
Jenna: Kind of a different upbringing. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and then my brother and I, we were raise d in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. My dad has a leather manufacturing company in the Caribbean. And so my mom and dad moved down to Jamaica to start the business and then had us, we were born there. And then the political situation got pretty bad there in 1979, and they moved us to what at the time was a very stable and calm island of Haiti.
Mark: Little did they know what would happen.
Jenna: Which was anything but. Little, little, little did they know. And then in 1989, it got so bad… they overturned the government, there was a coup and this government military force was basically looting everyone, and looting the homes of anyone related to anything government whatsoever. So we needed to get out pretty fast. So we basically left within a week. After being there basically our whole lives, we left within a week and moved up to Westchester, NY. So it’s just about an hour outside of New York City, in 9th grade.
Mark: Like how did that happen? How did you go from Haiti to Westchester? What was the link there?
Jenna: So my grandparents lived in Westchester. We didn’t have much time to make a choice, so we wanted to go somewhere close to the only people we really knew in United States. So my dad’s parents were in Westchester, New York. And we moved about 20 minutes north of there, to Chappaqua, home of the Clintons. At the time when we moved, the high school was in the top 10 or something, in the country. The irony is that in Haiti, we had, like, the worst education. I mean it was as bad as you… it was like a freelance education. They were basically like auctioning off subject matter to anyone that wanted to teach it, so my parents felt it was a good idea to send us to the most competitive high school, just about, in the country. So that was a culture shock for me, across the board.
Mark: I can imagine that was quite transition. How old were you when that happened?
Jenna: I was… it was the end of 8th grade, beginning of 9th grade, and for my brother it was 6th grade. It was a lot easier for him. He was a little athlete, and never had braces, and never had a pimple and always had great hair. And was very popular.
I had the opposite. Anything that could make me seem like an after-school special, basically did. Like the bad frizzy hair, and the acne and the like, getting bullied in school. And not knowing how to dress, and having the wrong friends. It was a really tough 4 years for me, but I was always very athletic. And in the Caribbean being an athlete was cool, was in, you were popular. It was the opposite up here. So I went out for every team, and made varsity really quickly, and I was like the freak, and the standout, so what I thought I was doing something good, finally. It was still, you know, more reason to get harassed by the rest of my high school mates. So it was tough 4 years for me.
Mark: What type of sports did you play, that you liked?
Jenna: So interestingly enough, I played Tennis in Haiti and Soccer in Haiti. And when I came up, they only had… in the fall it was… volleyball and like, field hockey or something. And I’d never even seen a field hockey or lacrosse stick before. I never knew what that was, so that was a disaster. My tennis racket never made it up in the cartons, so I couldn’t try out for the tennis team. This one girl asked me to try out for volleyball. I said if it’s anything like basketball, I guess I know what basketball is. And I tried out and I ended up making the varsity team. Purely based on athletic prowess, not on actual skill. But I learned the skill very quickly. I was always very, very athletic, so I played volleyball, basketball and softball and a little soccer while in high school.
Mark: And then you went on to college. Where did you do that work?

Start of TV Career

[07:17] Jenna: Then I went to a state school. I went to Binghamton, in New York. And I played some more volleyball. And about a mile from the campus was an NBC affiliate with a big NBC peacock on it. So a week into school there, I got on my bike, and I biked down to the TV station, and I basically knocked on the door and I asked for an internship. And they kind of laughed and explained to me that there are 75 steps to a process that I knew nothing about. Which revolved around credits and English departments, and it was just words. So I went to the English department… I basically talked my way in, and kept doing that for semester after semester after semester, even though you were only supposed to intern one semester. Lo and behold, I found myself basically having taught myself to do every single thing at that TV station, so by the time I graduated, they had no choice but to hire me. And I grew into myself, and I got rid of the bad hair, and the bad acne, and the braces and all of it. And I turned into a little reporter who wanted to tell stories.
But there was no news reporter job opening. So my news director said, “Look, I know you want to be a news reporter. We don’t have a job for you. We do have a sports reporter job. Would you be interested in that?” If people knew how they were basically just like handing out jobs, but it was funny. So I took it and I taught myself sports, even though… I knew how to play, I didn’t know how to cover. So that’s what I did.
Mark: That’s really cool. So when did you first get this idea that you wanted to be journalist? I mean, what compelled you to get on your bike and ride over to NBC that day?
Jenna: I was always extremely theatrical. Always theatrical when I was little. I was in every play, but I was always athletic too. So I knew that I wanted to do something in front of the camera, but I didn’t have the family that you always hear about. Like the Michael J. Fox family, that drove them to Hollywood, so that they could interview with all these places. Those weren’t my parents. My parents were like, “You’re going to get a job. So get yourself a job.” So I felt like journalism was a respectable way to harness my theatrics, and my desire to be on television. But my English degree was also going to be a way for me to sort of tell stories and make it as reputable as possible. And then when I saw the TV station I figured it was perfect. How hard could it be? You tell some stories and you get to be on TV. That never made me nervous.
It was the politics that ended up making me nervous. The working with certain people, and trying to navigate the very murky waters of this industry, which… It’s far more complicated as you get closer to the Today show, than in this little first job that I had in Binghamton.
But anyway, so I wanted to be news reporter, but they didn’t have it for me there. And I wasn’t going anywhere, so I became a sports reporter. And I kid you not, I accepted the gig, I went home that night–I subscribed to “Sports Illustrated,” to this new magazine that just came out called “ESPN-the magazine,” I don’t even know if it’s still in circulation. “Golf Digest” and 2 others. And I figured I taught myself everything else, I’m gonna teach this to myself. And I basically… I learned it, I learned sports. I read all the local papers, and then I would just…
Mark: Was it all sports that you had to cover or a specific range of sports?
Jenna: So, it was local sports. It was sports in Binghamton. Softball games, and the Binghamton Mets–the Mets double A team was here. The New York Rangers triple A AHL team was here. But I needed to have a foothold in this industry if I was ever going to walk into a clubhouse I need to understand how to keep a box score, and I needed to know a little bit of the history of baseball, and a little bit of the history of hockey, and I didn’t know any of it. I played it, but I didn’t know it. I never grew up in this country. My dad never took me to games. So I felt like I was at a disadvantage. I never went to a big school, so was sort of at a disadvantage I felt coming in.
Mark: Did you have any mentors at the time? Anyone you could turn to and like say, “What do you think about this or that?” Or anyone you aspired to be like?
Jenna: You know, I didn’t have any mentors, but I always loved… I don’t know if you remember Kenny Mayne used to work at ESPN, and he found a way to make sports funny and interesting and this great dry humor at the time he did. He was hosting, now he’s doing sort of special projects, but I loved him and I loved that style. And it turned out I ended up being just like him. I sort of did the craft exactly like he did.
But I didn’t get there right away. It took me years and years to get there. But in Binghamton, that’s all I did was I watched, you know… you remember when sports center–I don’t even know if it still does–came on at 6 AM and then it kept repeating all morning until like 11 or something. I watched every single one. What was I thinking? Every single one.

Jenna’s Beef

[12:08] Mark: So the idea of making sports a story and fun with it, is that where Jenna’s Beef came from?
Jenna: Yeah. Exactly. I just wanted to be funny. I just… like these are grown men playing games. Let’s all calm down a little bit. Right? Settle down. You were a Navy SEAL, like that’s real. This was just quick hit the ball and then run as fast you can around those little bases. It’s adorable. So like everybody needs to just calm down a little bit and I wanted to be funny about it. And I wanted to be witty. And I wanted to be able to make my mom, who has no interest in sports, interested in what I was talking about. So if a guy like Chad Pennington played quarterback for the Jets, and he was out with a bad shoulder, I didn’t just want to say, you know, “Jets are going into this weekend’s game against the Bills down a quarterback. But whoever it is going to step in.” Like, my mom would never care.
But if I told you how he hurt his shoulder, and all of a sudden a guy that never had any practice whatsoever was going to have to step up. And imagine that guy, how nervous… it would be like my mom, you know, getting the following 3 tiles in Mah-jongg and not knowing what to do with it. I would make some ridiculous…
And people just sort of started tuning in, and they kind of liked it. And they had no idea what was going to come out of my mouth. And that turned into–I did this little segment called, “Jenna’s Beef,” where anything that bothered me, felt like I needed a platform to get it off my chest. Very little of it was sports related. One time I did a whole thing on almond butter, so… but it was just my way of using my personality for something more encompassing and fun than only sports. And I did that for a long time. I did sports for 12 year before I got a call from the “Today Show” and ended up going over there.
Mark: So did you bring that style to the today show? Were you working on athletics there? Or was it more of a general show? I have to admit, I’m kinda ignorant, cause I don’t watch TV, so I don’t think I’ve ever…
Jenna: Absolutely, yeah, no. I was doing sports, but I guess in the back of my mind I always thought that I was going to go back to doing news or doing something else. It was never 100% in my wheelhouse. There was always something a little bit off. But then I sat down and I was at my station here in New York, right before the Today Show. The biggest local affiliate in the whole country, WABC, and I sat down with the general manager there, and I said, “Look, I would stay here if you tell me there’s a place to go. No woman has ever done Monday to Friday sports in New York City. No one. I wanna be the first one.”
And he basically said it’s never going to happen. He’s like, “This city’s never going to have a woman do Monday through Friday.”

The Today Show

[14:49] So in my head I already left. So when the Today Show called, I was ready to start something new and go, and they didn’t have any sports over there, so I was going to be just a lifestyle correspondent. I basically just cover fun, interesting stories in my fun, interesting Jenna way. I was doing the kind of “Daily Show” pieces the “Daily Show” now does. Where I played to the camera, I played to the audience. Where we all knew something but the person I was talking to sometimes didn’t. I played off my funny questions. I did the “Jay Walking” the way that Jay Leno used to do, that Jay walking on the street kinda thing with people. I just had a lot of fun with the tools that I was given, which was like, a microphone and a brain, and you know, a work ethic. So I went to the Today Show and said, “This is the kind of stuff I do.” And they never had anyone like it before. It was refreshing, and it was different, and I got to do some really fun pieces.
Mark: So what were some of the coolest things that you did while you were at the Today Show? I imagine you got to do some things that most people don’t have access to.
Jenna: Sure! I went to space camp with Richard Branson, and I played golf with Tiger Woods. And I developed up at the Ben and Jerry’s lab, my own ice cream flavor. And I went surfing and I hung off the CN tower and I went racing with Mario Andretti, and I went jet packing across… down in Miami. And I flew an F-18 with the Blue Angels from one Floridian coast to the other. I mean, every day was something crazy. The largest waterslides, the largest roller coasters. It was one adventure after another. I mean, it was crazy. I mean, I sang with Kenny Rogers, I was on a Broadway play with Matthew Broderick, I did a Cirque de Soleil episode. I mean, you can’t imagine, it was incredible. Recently I went back to look over some old resume tapes I had, and I still to this day marvel at how much they either allowed me to do or dared me to do. But it was really great
And I ended up hosting the weekend show with Lester Holt. And that reigned me in a little bit, and I had to be a little bit more serious, cause we were covering sort of news of the day. And then, I gotta tell you, we change as people. We think we’re on this path, and society tells us that we have to have… you know, where are you gonna be in 5 years, where you gonna be in 10 years, map it out, what’s your goal, where are you? Show me the path, Put your blinders on. Move forward.
But it takes a strong kind of person to allow life to shift you left and right off your given path. And if you are smart and brave enough, fearless enough, ballsy enough to allow life to push you left or right, you can experience things you never would have experienced, and meet people you never thought you’d meet. And if you’re fearless enough to take chances when a crossroads truly hits you in life, and not just stick to you 9 to 5 because it’s safe, you win. Whether you’re successful or not. You win.
And I was at the Today Show for a long time and I was really into fitness, and I’m really into working out. I mean, I was 8 months pregnant and I was on “The Biggest Loser” as a trainer, you know, as a celebrity trainer. And I was working out the day the baby was born. And I was training clients, and I was the fitness correspondent on the Today Show. I mean, I was really, really into it. And then, I think I outgrew it. I think I outgrew the Today Show and felt like I needed a bigger box, and they had me play within the lines, and I just… I wanted to color outside the lines just once in my life. I wanted to be able to go out and do something without a safety net. Because that’s the scariest and the most rewarding thing you can do in life, is to be able to do something without a safety net, at any age, much less when you turn 40. So in November of last year, I left the Today Show. And it was a crazy decision, right? It was sort of nuts.

Timing, the Left-turn and Leaving the Today Show

[18:43] Mark: That was a surprise to them too, I imagine. Had you had conversations about it, or was it just something, you just went in one day and said, “You know what? I’m done. And I’m going off to do this new thing.”
Jenna: No, it was a little bit of both. I mean, I was no longer working weekends, and I was still sort of under an anchor contract, but I was just doing the fitness stuff, and I wasn’t doing a ton. And they came to me about maybe redoing my contract, and I was like, “I don’t even know if I want to be redoing my contract. I’m not even sure if I want to stay.” And one thing led to another, and I was like, “Maybe this is that thing I talk about. Maybe this is that sort of sign from above that… my crossroads, that it’s time for me to do something else. I could fight this, and rework my contract, and then what am I doing? Same thing I’ve always done. But I’m gonna take my own advice. The thing I motivationally speak about, and I am going to make a left. And let’s see if it was right. You know, life is sliding doors, and every decision we make and every person we meet, every left-right, north-south we take leads us to something we never would have done if we were just sort of head down, moving straight along. You know what I mean?
Mark: Yeah. You know when I do my training, that’s one of the things that we do is help people try to find their… what I call their personal ethos, which is a combination of a deep self-awareness of who you are at this point in your life, and then a clear vision for a future that’s possible. So in between that set point and that vision, lies your potential. And it leads to some big shifts in folks, so then they get all excited to go blast off, like you just did, but then they come to me and say, “Oh I’ve got a wife and 2 kids at home. And I’m really kind of addicted to this steady income that’s coming in. What do I do?” So how did you deal with that? Cause you’ve got 2 kids, and they were young and you had a household to maintain. That’s the challenge that a lot of people have when they’re facing these types of changes. They wanna do it but then they’re pulled back by the American lifestyle, which says, you know, “You got a mortgage, and you got a car payment, and this and that and the other thing. And, oh, by the way, those costs have gone up considerably in the past 10 years, and purchasing power has gone down.” You know the story.
Jenna: Look, I will say I’m very, very, very blessed. Because I left in the middle of a contract, I was still able to keep my salary and keep some money coming in, when I left early. So I was able to play around for a few months where I know a lot of people don’t have that opportunity to. But at the same time, it’s… and I fully understand that, and look you’re 100% right, that’s exactly what it’s all about. But then you hear these stories of the folks who…you gotta sort of gamble big to win big. Sometimes you really do have to take a chance. If you truly, truly believe in it, and you know something is right, and it’s going to work out, and you’ve got the work ethic to do it. I’m not ever saying to do it when you have a… when you’re solely responsible for your family, and for food on the table and a roof over your head, then that’s not the right time. But you have to know when the right time is. I knew I was still gonna get paid for a while. I knew I had an opportunity to do something a little bit different. This was my time. Maybe, you know, a couple months down the road it wouldn’t have been, or a couple months before, it wouldn’t have been, because I would have had other things to factor in. But if that’s the… there’ll be a right time. You’ll just know it. But you have to have your eyes wide open to be able to recognize it when it comes.
Mark: Right. You know what I like to also say, is you can be working toward that. Don’t pretend that you’re not going to do it just because it’s not the right time. Start working toward that and you’ll accelerate the time that’s right. Does that make sense?
Jenna: Yup. Absolutely.
Mark: So one guy, one friend of mine… now he’s a friend, he was a client at the time… wasn’t willing to leave his day job, but he did come up with the idea of starting a fitness training program, and he really liked the idea of doing character development, so he called it CrossFit Honor. And the next thing you know, his wife and kids are having a great time building this community through this CrossFit gym and all the while he maintained this steady income. So he got the, you know… he had a win-win to the point where he realized he didn’t have to leave his job, and he was getting all his needs met and having a blast with this appendage that they created which added a lot of meaning to their lives. So there’s a lot of ways things can play out, and the point is to be open to it, and to tap into that intuition that lies inside of you.
Jenna: yeah, look, none of this is easy. It’s not… I wrote this book about change because I was so just inundated by people who kept saying, “Well, where do I start? Well, how do I do it? I’m too overwhelmed. I’m too old to change. I’m too tired to change. I’m too busy. I’m too this, I’m too that.” I figured, you know, why is that? Why are we so stuck as adults, where it’s so incredibly difficult to change our course? And I think it’s because change is overwhelming. And people feel they need to go from 0 to 100, and they need to change everything, because making small changes is not going to make you sort of net the results you would if you were on 6 episodes of The Biggest Loser.

30 small changes in 30 days

[24:17] So I took the word “change” and I looked at it and I looked at it, and I chopped it up into 30 different pieces. And if I hand you 1 small piece every day, on day 1 you just do this, then on day 2, these 2, then on day 3, these 3…then maybe suddenly it doesn’t become so overwhelming and you’re able to incorporate little things into the life you already lead. So sure, that sounds fantastical, so how does that work?
So I took my mom as the perfect example. I start most of the chapters with this ridiculous conversation with my parents. Like the fact that I walked in on my dad one day eating nuts right out of the trough, like the horse’s trough of a Planter’s container. And I was like, “Dad, what are you doing?” He’s like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “How many nuts are you eating?” he’s like, “How bad can this be? There so light. Look, they barely weight anything.” I was like, wait a minute, my dad is a very intelligent man. Does he honestly, truly believe that calories are based on like, weight? I was appalled. I was like, “Okay, this needs to change immediately.” So I ended up writing this book, and I took everything I know about health and wellness, and, you know, soul searching and sleep and rest and all of it. And I broke it down into 30 little pieces. On day 1 is water. Its drink 20 sips of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. You know, that’s easy. Anyone can do it. Everyone, both genders, any age, wherever you are in life. 20 sips of water. That’s it. If your body’s dehydrated… it’s the first thing to get you started. That’s all you do the rest of the day. Day 2 is the water plus walking. Walk a certain amount of steps. Day 3 is the water, the walking and then I think I gave food diary. Whatever it is. But they’re small things, and if you really follow them, you know, you can start watching your life change without someone taking a Mac truck to your face and being like “Change!” Pow!
So that was sort of the impetus to writing that book and pushing that message across. And I do a ton of motivational speaking, because I really enjoy getting through to someone. I enjoy, you know, when I see the look on their face, when they finally get what my like overall message is. And my overall message when I speak to anyone is that life isn’t dress rehearsal. This is it. This is your life. This is the only shot you get. You get one body, you don’t piss it away and then when you wake up and your 70, you say, “Oh, let me get the last 10 years back, so I’ll lower my cholesterol that way.” No. Instead you’re taking 20 pills, or knee replacements, or heart disease or whatever it is.
This isn’t the preview to the main show. This is the show. And I love when people finally get that. Like, you don’t have to start on Monday, or on the first of next month, or on the first of next year. Start with your next meal. Start with your next piece of activity. Start with anything that is going to help you and make you a better person than you were yesterday. And it’s small little things that make a big difference.
Mark: No, I agree with that. It’s just the metaphor of a ship setting out from San Diego to Honolulu. One degree shift is going to put it up in Alaska, know what I mean? So if you could do 1% a day. Even if it’s just one thing, you know. And you did 1 thing for 30 days, it’s going to have a significant impact in 30 years.
Jenna: Absolutely.
Mark: So I love that. I think it’s terrific. What is number 30? (laughing) So you get to 30 and your like, “I’m doing 29 things, I hope the 30th isn’t going to crush me.”
Jenna: Right. Number 30 is easy. Number 30 is to look in the mirror and to sort of take stock in what you’ve just done, and to appreciate it. Cause we just wanna go to the next and the next and the next. But I need you to stop and look at yourself and say, “I did this. I can do anything. If I can take care of myself and fix myself, and make myself the best self, there’s literally nothing I can’t do. The worst that could happen in life is people say no. But you say yes to yourself, and you’d be surprised how far you can come.
Mark: Yeah, I love that. So often people just focus on the negative. Focus on the things that aren’t working. Focus on the things that they don’t like about themselves, and then they become obsessive. And that… we call that feeding the Fear Wolf. And if you take a moment to feed the Courage Wolf and realize, “Hey, you know what? I’m pretty dang good. Could be better, that’s why I’m working on it, but I’m still pretty darn cool.”
Jenna: Yeah. Absolutely.

Mark’s Interview

[29:40] How much of this did they ever… I don’t even know if you ever want to talk about it, but how much talking did you guys do when you were a SEAL? I mean, did you ever stop and sit back and analyze what you were doing and what it was all about, or was it just every day, you get up and you had a mission and it was just go, go, go.
Mark: There was a lot of self-reflection. I mean, the SEALs are very, very intelligent individuals. You don’t get into that program unless you’re very fit, very intelligent and very creative, like a MacGyver type. And so most of the guys… I mean, like, there was the 10% rule, where you’re like, “How did that guy get through?”–but most of the guys are very self-reflective and very willing to have dialogues about these types of things. You know, the meaning of life, and positivity. We didn’t allow any negativity on our team, because we understood that negativity destroyed performance, and we had to stay… You know, so the person who was always like, “you screwed up.” but didn’t offer… “Okay, I did screw up but what’s your resolution? What do you offer to me as a way into improving myself?” If you didn’t have an offer, then that was no good. So anyways. It was really interesting. It’s a special breed. It’s one of the reasons that I kinda created SEALFIT and then Unbeatable Mind is to bring some of that mentality to the general public.
And we weren’t afraid to have what I call brutally honest conversations. The kind of heartfelt conversations that women usually have, we’re having as men. And most guys don’t go there, as you know, but we had to go there because I’m trusting my life with these team mates. And I’m willing to lay my life down for them, and so, you know, it got pretty intimate at times in terms of what we were willing to share and hold each other accountable without fear that we were, like, crossing a line and hurt someone’s feelings. Cause the whole team and mission accomplishment in our lives depended on it. Anyways, I went off on a little riff there didn’t I? Sorry about that.
Jenna: No, I’m fascinated by it. I always have been. I’m in awe of the SEALs and what you’re asking your mind and your body to do under the conditions that you’re in, and it takes a certain breed to be able to do it. I’m beyond in awe of what you did and why you did it, so, I mean, thank you, obviously, but also I’m like kudos and all of it.
Mark: Yeah, hooyah.
Jenna: When were you done?
Mark: I finished up in November 2011. So after 20 years, half of it reserve, half of it active duty. The interesting thing…
Jenna: Can I… I’m sorry, I’m asking you questions. Because I also have a live streaming show, and I ask questions every day. But I’m going to ask you 2 more questions and then I promise I’ll be done. I don’t know how many of your guests ask you questions…
Mark: I don’t think anyone has, actually, so this is a first. Hooyah. Go for it.
Jenna: As far as training goes… I don’t want to know about actual… I mean, you can tell me anything you want, but what was the hardest thing that you had to do, as far as training goes? I mean, how bad really was it? Was it as bad as we all think that it is?
Mark: You know, the training for me it was just the relentlessness of it. And so, yes, day in and day out, we had to run, and the running was gut wrenching. And we had to do the obstacle course. And every time we did the run, the obstacle course, and our 2, 3, 4 mile timed swims, we had to beat our times from the week before. So that was challenging.
Jenna: So break it down, Mark. Give me an example. So, you wake up at what time? O-what?
Mark: Zero four hundred and we’d be on the line at zero-five hundred for a timed run. 5 mile timed run on the beach. It’s still dark out in Coronado. Really low tide. They would time it so the beach was pretty firm. And then, it’s balls to the wall. Gut-busting, 5 mile timed run. And then you run to breakfast. And back in our day the chow hall was a mile away, so just running to and from breakfast, lunch and dinner put an extra 6 miles on our legs every day.
Jenna: Oh my God.
Mark: And so then it just rolled from there. It was like after breakfast then we had another physical evolution, then a class, then maybe another physical evolution then lunch. Then maybe a class, and then maybe some skill development. Cause we had to learn the basics. It’s basic underwater demolition SEAL training, so we were learning the basics of how to be very comfortable in, on and under the water. The basics of how to use firearms and demolitions, and be a really good team-mate. And then after that, we’d go into the advanced training. We’d do it all over, but you do it with your team at a more advanced level. Crawl, walk, run.
But back to your question, it kinda ties into your book, “Small Change: Big results in 30 Days,” like, you know, people think that SEALs go from zero to hero, or you just gotta be this super-stud to be a SEAL. The point is that if you decide you’re going to be a SEAL, just like if you decide you’re going to be optimal weight, and healthy person, then it’s just a matter of showing up every day and doing the work. And so you take it one day at a time. So with the SEALs, it was just one day at a time for 6 months. And then when you hit the really hard evolutions, like you’re doing that 5 or 6 mile ocean swim, then you gotta break it down into smaller chunks…
Jenna: You did a 6 mile ocean swim?
Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And I won it.
Jenna: 6 miles?
Mark: Part of what we call the waterman’s club. Whoever wins that race. And it was really enjoyable for me, because that was where I got into… you know, at a young age I had learned through my martial arts training, how to control my breath, control my mind, control my emotions. It became the foundation for what I teach today in terms of developing mental toughness and resiliency. And so I just immediately… within 20 minutes I got into a flowstate. My swim buddy and I were kind of facing each other and we’re doing the combat side-stroke. We just literally cruised for 3 hours without even a pause or any break in our rhythm. It was fantastic. And we beat everyone else by about 45 minutes to an hour. WE just got completely in the zone, and just kick, stroke and glide…
Jenna: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. And my last question to you–how hard was sort of returning to your regular scheduled program after you left, because your mind and your body were in a state that is incomparable to anyone in our lay society.
Mark: That’s a challenge for all SEALs. A lot of SEALs get out and they get back in, because they’re like… they’re used to the constant changed and the challenge, and a level of accountability… a level of accountability, challenge and risk that is very unusual in our society and you get, I would say, almost addicted to it or at least used to it. So then you’re right, the transition can be a challenge and the way I dealt with that is to get… to become an entrepreneur. I said, what’s the closest thing to being a SEAL in the civilian world was to go out and start a business, and start every day with a blank sheet of paper and figure it out. And then the 2nd part about it, was because I knew that because the physical/mental training was such a big part of the SEALs that if I stopped that then I really would… I’d be really missing a big part of what I was meant to learn that the SEALs brought me. So I maintained my training program, and then I continued to evolve it. And then that became my business. So I actually never really left. I mean, I left active duty, but I continue to train SEALs and to be involved in this community in that regard. Help people prepare mentally for it.
Jenna: Well, I would love–next time I’m out your way–you and I are gonna work out and then you are gonna just give me a mental workout as well. I’m fascinated by all this. Just absolutely fascinated.
Mark: Yeah, let’s do it.

The Jenna Wolfe Show

[38:05] Jenna: So I started a live-streaming show, aptly named “The Jenna Wolfe Show” and it’s basically a collection of all the most interesting people that I know, that I’ve met that I’ve ever come across. Even people I haven’t met yet. Singers and comedians and actors and just regular people. Anyone with an interesting story to tell. Whereas other places they can give you like 3 minutes, I can give you like a half hour. And I dive in, I dive in headfirst. I swim around in all your storytelling, and I help you tell the best parts of it, and I help you tell the best parts of it. I wanna hear about it, I wanna talk about it, I wanna have great conversations. And it’s on daily, live across Facebook and Twitter and Periscope. So if you ever come through New York, Mark, you’re my guy. You gotta come down and sit with me.
Mark: Let’s do it. I feel like I was just on a micro-episode of the Jenna show. Let’s do it.
Jenna: I know. Believe me, we would have dug in so deep I’d have you out doing like laps around my building. I would have gotten really specific.
Mark: That’s cool. So we kinda probably should wrap things up here Jenna. I know you got things to do, and you know, life to get back to, and probably kids kicking at the door. So when does your book come out?
Jenna: So my book came out earlier this year, so it’s out and about, so head out and grab it if you’re looking for a reason to change and I really tried to make it as funny and as entertaining as possible….
Mark: And is this book for everyone, or is it geared toward women or for general readership.
Jenna: No, it’s geared towards anyone. So the producer of my show, now, lost 35 pounds because he took 2 chapters, he just took 2 changes and implemented them. No simple carbs after 6 and half your body weight in ounces of water every day. And out of the 30 changes, he took 2, he lost 35 pounds.
So it’s for anybody, it’s… change is all around, you know? Even if it’s a mental change you’re not looking to lose weight, so check it out if you can.
Mark: Okay. And the Jenna Wolfe show, we can find that just by going to Facebook and searching for it?
Jenna: Yup. It’s every day, live. I mean, it’s there on Facebook live. 11 to 3 and its fun and we just started, so there’s some bumps and bruises. Where we end up is not where we are, but Simon and Garfunkel weren’t Simon and Garfunkel when they first started. So… but it’s a new venture, it is uncharted waters. Live-streaming content is not very organized right now and we wanna get in while we have a chance to be on the forefront of something. Where else in this grand, vast world of technology can we jump onto something that hasn’t really been figured out yet? So that’s what we’re trying to do. So call in, or write in or come to New York and come visit us, and hang out with us and come share some stories. And you do the same, Mark.
Mark: yeah, definitely. I will do that. I’ll Allison follow up. I’m from New York, my point of origin I should say is upstate New York near Lake Placid, and so I’ll definitely be back there.
Jenna: Nice.
Mark: Awesome, Jenna. Well thank you so much for your time, and it was super-cool to meet you. I look forward to doing so in person, and doing some training together. And good luck with everything and for all you folks out there listening, please check out the book. I’m gonna get it myself, it sounds terrific. And go check out “The Jenna Wolfe Show” on Facebook and everywhere else it’s streaming. And we’ll connect again with you, Jenna. It sounds like a lot of fun, and we’re going to do some stuff together, and we’re going to help people get healthier and improve their lives and change the world. How does that sound?
Jenna: Sounds so good. Thanks for having me.
Mark: Hooyah, Jenna. All right, take care. Take care, everyone. Stay focused, train hard, have fun. And do the right thing. Get up and do the work every day.
Hooyah!
Coach Divine out.