51: Joe DeSena: Spartan Up! Overcoming Obstacles in Life

Joe De Sena, 44, has been an entrepreneur since his pre-teens. From selling fireworks at age eight to starting a t-shirt business in high school, to building a multimillion-dollar pool business in college, to creating a Wall Street trading firm, De Sena is a living definition of the word “entrepreneur.” Currently, he is a managing director for ICAP, a brokerage agency.

It’s also well documented that Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion. His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 14 Ironman events in one year alone. Most of his races are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix. (He once said that running a 26.2 marathon distance was “adorable.”

To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week. The elevation climb for the 135-mile Badwater race, which starts hundreds of feet below sea level in Death Valley, is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney and temperatures soar into the 120’s. Joe also biked cross-country in the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined “The Toughest 48 Hours in Sport.” It’s no wonder his favorite quote is, “Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

Joe and other racers who came to be called the “Founding Few” wanted to create another event, something that captured the extreme spirit of the legendary Death Race, but was modified and accessible to a much wider racing audience. And so the Spartan Race was born in 2010.

Spartan Race has grown dramatically in 2013 over just the year before. The number of competitors now stands at approximately 350,000 racers in 60 races in 2013 in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Over 3 million “likes” are on Facebook, a new e-book is available at spartanrace.com, and an NBC Sports TV Special airs on Dec. 7, 2013. Participation in 2014 is expected to grow to 650,000 at events in 22-plus countries.

Favorite Succes Quote

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Key Points

1. Business is the Ultimate Endurance Race

If you want to test your mettle and challenge yourself to go beyond what you think is possible, then business is your gateway to struggle.

Nothing that you can take up in life will be as brutal and as challenging as running and operating a real business.

When you have to deal with clients, employees, deadlines, conflicting personalities, banks, and bad business partners, you will quickly realize that entrepreneurship is not as easy as some people make it seem.

Business is hard, and if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur or even a high-level executive, you are going to need to toughen up to handle the pressure.

2. Harden Up 

Do not pray for easier lives, pray to become stronger men ~JFK

We live in a world of abundant ease and comfort in the 21st century.

If you are reading this right now then you have it better than 99.99% of the entire population of the world that came before you.

And with these ease has come a softness and a weakness that is pervading our society.

If we get a little hot, we crank up the AC. If we are hungry we stuff our faces with donuts. If we bored, we flip on the TV.

And then when real struggle comes into our lives, whenever our business is going under, our marriage is failing, or our bodies are injured, we shrink back and weakly proclaim defeat.

If you want to be truly successful then you need to harden up.

Plain and simple.

Take the hard route, do the difficult thing, and embrace discomfort.

Take cold showers, run endurance races, lift heavy weights, go get punched in the face at a boxing gym.

Do whatever you can to make your life tougher.

Because when you get stronger, life gets easier.

3. Put in the Hard Work Now

If you want to succeed, then stop waiting.

Don’t wait for tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

Start now.

Especially if you are a young man reading this, put in the hard work now.

Build your body now so that as you age, you will be less susceptible to injury and disease.

Grow your business now so that when you get older you no longer have to work as hard.

Build a great relationship and grow your social skills now so that you can have truly fulfilling relationships and a powerful social circle in your later years.

Don’t wait for success to come to you.

Put in the hard work now and you will be rewarded.

4. Change Your Frame of Reference 

Whenever you think that something is tough, take a minute, pause and realize just how good your life is.

Only 150 years ago, our ancestors faced death and disease on a daily basis.

If they wanted to travel to a new part of the country then they accepted that someone in the family would probably die, at least one person would fall ill, and all sorts of calamity would befall them.

This wasn’t nice or pretty, it was just part of life.

You have it easy.

Change your frame of reference and remember the real struggles that people are facing.

Your problems will immediately be put into perspective and your attitude will shift.

5. Accept that Everything that Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

Look, in whatever endeavor you are pursuing, everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Plain and simple.

In business, you will fail to meet pay roll, clients won’t fulfill their invoices, and business partners will screw you over.

Deal with it.

In your health, you will get injured, you will get sick, and you might even face a life altering disease.

Prepare for it.

In your relationships, people will cheat on you, friends will leave you, and family members will ostracize you.

Expect it.

Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.

So accept this and move forward.

Connect with Joe DeSena


Spartan Up!

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