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Joe DeSena Sparta Greece
Erica Schultz / M+F Magazine

Joe De Sena is a bestselling author, host of CNBC’s primetime series “No Retreat: Business Bootcamp,” and most notably, the founder and CEO of Spartan, the world’s largest obstacle and adventure racing company.

For the past few decades, De Sena, 53, has made it his life’s passion to “rip 100 million people off of their couches,” through his events. He’s a high-energy Queens, NY, native who voluntarily left a lucrative career on Wall Street for a quieter life in rural Vermont to upstart what would evolve into Spartan.

Since the late 1990s, De Sena has sought to participate in and produce extreme endurance events that would find unique ways to put both mental and physical mettle to the test. He founded the Death Race—a sleepless multiday slog that fuses mundane tasks with endurance race obstacles as well as brain teasers. He once opted to run from New York to Vermont to raise money for charity. And he did the 1,000-mile Iditarod … on foot, telling

“Most participate with a team of 12 to 16 dogs, but I chose no dogs—two feet. Temperatures would reach 30 below zero. It was cold and miserable. I don’t have good memories and it’s not a place that I’d ever go back to. But the grueling weather, icy conditions, and relentless course taught me a thing or two about being tough.”

Joe DeSena at farm
Courtesy of Sparten

In his M&F Reps interview from late last year, De Sena gets candid about the obstacles Spartan faces as the brand continues to climb out of the COVID shutdown, why fear is usually fiction, as well as his thoughts on the negative impacts of working from home and motivation tips for those who are currently facing motivational issues — like our chief content officer and host of M&F Reps, Zack Zeigler admitted to De Sena during the interview.

Whether it’s through his books, social media updates, on network television, or his Spartan Up! podcast, De Sena tells it straight and dishes out uncomfortable truths and words of wisdom.

Here are a few of our favorite Joe quotes:

“The easiest way to convince your body that sitting in traffic is not worthy of a stress-induced freakout is by showing your body what real stress feels like, in the controlled setting of your daily workout.”

Joe DeSena Sparta Greece
Erica Schultz / M+F Magazine

“Put one foot in front of the other, focus on the little goal right in front of you, and almost anything is possible.”

“Discipline is not about being abusive; it’s about setting firm rules and boundaries and then enforcing them.”

“Adversity is around every corner. You can’t escape it. How you handle that adversity is how you build your legacy.”

“Don’t allow your dedication to weaken either. Get rid of distractions. Focus on what’s important, and learn to say, “no” to anything that pulls you from the path of your commitments.”

Joe DeSena Sparta Greece
Erica Schultz / M+F Magazine

“Bite off more than you can chew, then keep chewing.”

“Death is the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.”

“With a determined sense of responsibility, I pledge these statements: I will follow my True North, I will commit to what is important, I will be ambitious and motivated in all that I do, I will value my time, I will make all my decisions by examining the upside and downside, I will delay gratification, I will grit it out, I will shift my frame of reference, I will live each day honoring my journey to live the Spartan Way.”

“Remember that there is no room for ego in work ethic.”

the main difference between an amateur and a pro is their depth of commitment. The amateur’s commitment is shallow. The professional’s is deep.”

“Commitment requires complete honesty. It means that you will do what you said you were going to do, even when you don’t feel like doing it. Anything less is pointless. There’s no “maybe” in commitment.”

“You can either go to bed satisfied with your efforts today or stressed with what you left for tomorrow. You can either work hard to take on the hill or never know what it is that people see at the top.”

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