For Joe De Sena, business is “a combat sport”.
De Sena, 53, founder and CEO of obstacle course franchise Spartan, has spent the past two decades leading company training exercises at his farm in Pittsfield, Vermont, for companies such as Nike, Google and Goldman Sachs.
Now, he’s the host of CNBC’s new primetime series, “No Retreat: Business Bootcamp,” which airs Tuesday, March 8 at 10 p.m. ET. In the show, business owners from across the country bring their employees to De Sena’s farm, where he puts them through a series of challenging physical and mental tasks designed to improve teamwork, communication, and skills. leadership skills.
For De Sena, physical and mental strength are just as important when you’re hosting a business meeting as when you’re running a marathon. In some cases, that could mean testing workers’ knowledge of their business as they crawl through mud, or implementing team-building exercises that culminate in a group dip in icy waters.
“That physical stuff, and that ability to survive the unexpected and be comfortable in uncomfortable situations [situations]it’s really almost like the armor you need in business,” De Sena told CNBC Make It.
The concept comes from De Sena’s own experience leading Spartan: he says he’s learned over the years that staying physically fit makes him a better leader. Neuroscientists agree: Sleeping well and exercising regularly can help you be more productive and focused, among other benefits.
Here are the Spartan CEO’s tips for identifying the biggest obstacles to your success and overcoming your fears of failure:
How to identify your own weaknesses
When it comes to knowing more about how short you are, De Sena paraphrases an oft-used quote about learning to listen. “Two ears, one mouth,” he says. “Listen more, talk less and go to the front line.”
For leaders, “going to the front lines” means talking directly to customers and low-level employees about what they and their business can do to improve. “If you’re just sitting at your desk and talking to yourself or your close team, you’re probably not living in the reality of what’s really going on,” De Sena says.
The advice applies to everyone, not just managers or business owners: if you’re wondering what weaknesses stand between you and success, improving your listening skills is probably a good first step. You can usually find someone who will tell you – assuming you’re willing to listen.
De Sena says the first step to overcoming your fears should be to face them, because you’ll likely find that they aren’t as scary as you thought. The feeling of empowerment that comes with it can help motivate you for greater success.
“In most cases, fear is fiction. Let’s use it as fuel,” he says.
Putting your fears into perspective can also help, he says: “What I tell myself is, ‘It could be worse, I could live in Ukraine right now, I could live in Siberia… ain’t so bad.'”
De Sena goes even further: some of your absolute worst fears might just be unrealistic, with little chance of happening, he says.
“In almost every instance of my life, of my business career, those things that I feared never materialized anyway,” De Sena says. “When I faced them head-on, they became fuel. And they became something that was actually a superpower and not a negative, not something that should have held me back.”
Watch the premiere of “No Retreat: Business Bootcamp” Tuesday, March 8 at 10 p.m. ET on CNBC.
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