Finding Calm in Chaos - Josh Dinar (E13)

Jan 20, 2020

Josh Dinar is the co-founder and publisher of DiningOut Magazine, a successful publication that showcases the restaurant culture in Denver and Boulder since 1998. Josh has consulted on and has ownership stakes in several of the most popular and successful eateries in the area. Josh is also heavily involved as a volunteer in his community, sitting on several non-profit boards.

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Transcript:

 

- Welcome to the Easton Online Podcast. I'm your host Eliot Marshall and what this podcast is here to do, it's here to help you gain strategies and tactics and tools that are gonna help you grow in your martial arts business. If you have a martial arts school, a gym, this is one of my passions is how we spread the message of how to really grow culture and business and some ways that we do it the best with our people, with our staff, with our clients. So I hope you enjoy. Give a listen.

- Hi Josh.

- Hey buddy. Take two.

- Take two. So you're the guy that we all call for advice.

- Is that true?

- I think so. I know so.

- I like giving advice. It makes me not have to think about my own shit.

- How'd you get here man? That's what I know. I know that you are the guy that I call for advice.

- That's an honor.

- I know.

- That's all you need to know.

- Everyone's like call Dinar.

- How did I get here?

- Where are you from? Tell people where you're from.

- East coast.

- I know.

- Jersey. I grew up in New Jersey and never left there really through high school. Thought that New Jersey was the center of the world, just outside of New York. And then in college I did a semester abroad in Australia and that was like, oh, there's other parts of the world here. And after that--

- There a whole big world.

- Whole big world. All you gotta do is get on an airplane. You can go anywhere. So I did that and I traveled and I got the travel bug and then after college I traveled for about a year and a half. And then--

- Where was college?

- UVM, Vermont.

- Okay.

- Yep.

- Oh I got into Vermont.

- You did.

- I did, I didn't go.

- No.

- I went to Boulder. It was too close to New Jersey.

- Boulder is exactly like Vermont with significantly better weather. It was a shitty, shitty winter there. So, anyway, I traveled for a year and a half after college around the world and then came back and got a job in New York and was gonna be a lawyer 'cause that was the path that I was on.

- East coast Jew baby.

- East coast Jew. My parents said, "What are you gonna do?" I said, "I'm gonna be a lawyer." And they said, "Okay, we'll leave you alone "until you do that." And that bought me some time.

- So when you say you traveled around the world, where's the world?

- I was in Israel for awhile, I was on a program there. And then traveled from there. I was in Africa, I was in Iceland, was in Europe.

- Okay.

- And then came back and was back in New Jersey and was like oh, this is just New Jersey . And it's funny 'cause I got a job offer in Manhattan and I was gonna be on that path and I was day one on the train in my suit and it was raining outside and everyone was just fucking miserable and just staring down at the ground and I was like, "I hate this "and I haven't even started yet." So I went to that last interview and it was a really competitive job that this women went to bat to offer it to me.

- This is as a lawyer?

- No, that's a long story that I won't bother you with.

- Okay.

- But I, I self-sabotaged on my LSATs and was like that's it, I'm not doing that. So I got this offer, it was actually at the Israeli Consulate and I wasn't, by far was not the most qualifed candidate, but this woman kind of took a shine to me and like I said went to bat for me and I went in to that last interview where they offered me the job and I said, "I was offered a job leading wilderness stores "outta Jackson Hole for the summer, "if you can hold this job for me for three months "then I'll take it when I come back." And this woman just looked at me for like a minute and a half and went--

- And this is the lady that helped you?

- Uh-huh, she goes, "Are you fucking crazy?" And I was like, "Maybe, probably." So, I didn't get that job and then I went and took this job leading wilderness stores outta Jackson Hole. I'd never been to the West really and I was gonna move to Jackson, fell in love with that place and a buddy that I traveled with in Africa got a job in Boulder and he's like, "I'm moving to Boulder." I was on a payphone. And he was like, "I'm moving to Boulder at the end of the summer." I was like, "Okay, I'll go there." And that was it. And then I met my wife like two weeks after we moved here.

- Here?

- Yeah.

- Was she from here?

- No, she's from D.C..

- Okay.

- So she had just moved out also completely randomly and we met through a mutual friend. My friend from UVT, here friend from growing up and met. Both of us had just moved out within weeks and met and just started hanging out with each other and that was it.

- It just worked out.

- Just worked out.

- That's crazy.

- So far.

- It just works out, yeah. So when did you meet Sus?

- I met Sus pretty early on too. Sus and our other--

- Early on here? Or early on?

- Early on here.

- Okay.

- Yeah, he was producing. I was working for "Ski Magazine" as an assistant editor. It was my first job. I was also busing tables at BJs and--

- BJs on Pearl Street?

- BJs on Pearl Street, that was a good job.

- Is it still there, no, right?

- No they moved to--

- Oh yeah.

- Yeah, yeah, fancier digs.

- Yup.

- I remember that job. It was the first, they had like a crazy, busy day and they had like two other bussers call off and it was just me on this crazy, busy day. And I'm racing around sweating and just killing myself to like, you know, and the guys pulls me aside at the end and he goes, "I just wanna commend you "on that job today." Like "That's the kinda thing that's gonna get you moved up "to lead busser in no time." And I go, "Cool, I quit."

- I quit .

- I'm not aspiring to lead busser. But I was working at "Ski Magazine" as an intern there and then was working as a, I was always wanted to be a writer, so that's really what I came out to do. So I was freelancing around town and then Ski had just moved out here from New York and got an assistant editor job there and Sus and his partner, who's now my other third partner, also named Jeff.

- Stiggs.

- Stiggs. Were publishing a magazine and the restaurant scene was kind of just--

- What was that magazine?

- It was called "Insight."

- "Insight," yeah.

- Yeah, it was like a college tabloid, like a franchise almost.

- Okay.

- So it was interviews and jokey stuff and whatever and we just got to be friends through I was helping out editing that magazine and they had been talking about doing a menu guide 'cause there wasn't one in Boulder. And the restaurant scene was just starting to be a thing in Boulder and Denver so I approached them about turning it into more of a magazine rather than just a menu guide and you know, we could do interviews because of the writing piece of it. And they had their other things that they were working on so I said, "Let me take this and we'll partner on it" and it just kinda took off from there.

- "Dining Out" right?

- So that was "Dining Out." So we started that and then Jeff Sus' sister was a concierge at a hotel in Miami and she was like, "Miami doesn't have one of these "and I wanna be the publisher down here." So, Jeff flew down and helped her start down there and then at the same time my wife Kate got part-time transferred to New York, this was pre 9/11. And so we were back and forth between New York again and Boulder and at that time we didn't know whether we were gonna stay in Boulder.

- So pre 9/11, how old's Mason?

- Mason is 14.

- So pre,

- Oh yeah.

- pre Mason too. Pre everything.

- Yeah, we weren't married yet.

- Okay.

- Yeah. So we were back in forth. We had a place in New Jersey and we had a place out here and we were just back and forth. We were missing each other actually. Sometimes one was here and one was there. And so we started the magazine in New Jersey at the same time and so all the sudden we had three of them and we were like, "Hey, this makes sense "to hire a full-time editor "and if I hire full-time designers." And then we started creating and from there it just, the internet wasn't really a thing yet. Right time, it just took off. And we were in 17, 18 markets within a couple a years. And then the internet became a thing. So, it scaled back from there and has taken lots of other directions and that's how we got into the restaurant industry.

- Right.

- Yeah.

- Because the internet, I mean, Yelp right?

- You know all of it.

- All of it.

- It was combined with so right around 2006, 2007, is when you started hearing that and then the recession hit and restaurants just got the shit kicked outta them in 2007, 2008 and for the next several years.

- Right.

- Everyone was seeing 40% declines in their revenues.

- Holy shit, how did anybody make it?

- Lots of 'em didn't.

- Yeah.

- Brutal and that was our timing with the Jet Hotel also. Sus and I got involved in--

- Was Stiggs in that too?

- Stiggs was in that, but Stiggs took the lifeboat early on and he was the smart one. We coulda got on the lifeboat with him but we didn't. So we took the ride. We got an expensive education.

- I think, man, so many people hate that though. The expensive education.

- I wouldn't trade it.

- I know, that's why everyone calls you.

- I would trade it when I was in it.

- In it, yeah .

- But no, you come outta that and realize I think it's the Jiu-Jitsu analogy, right. When you're in a position that fucking sucks, you realize that you're not gonna be in that position forever. You go through enough of those and you're like, "Okay, I think my neck hurts a little bit, "but, I learned."

- It might hurt for a month, but you know. Yeah, Amal and I have some of them obviously as well. I can remember this one story. Like when we spent like 30 grand on this new funnel, infusion software. You don't any of the story?

- Mm-mm.

- I mean months of work, $30,000, time as well learning how to use it as it was going along, but you didn't really get to like see it see it and then we implemented it and within two days we were like, "Nope." Right, yeah.

- And you're like ah man, really, I'm gonna swallow that.

- Right.

- I'm gonna swallow $30,000, all right, fuck.

- Part of the game.

- Part of the game.

- Yep.

- So the internet led you to restaurants kind of?

- No, actually, so what happened was again, it was Stiggs our third partner

- Okay.

- that always wanted to do a restaurants. I never did, I thought it was crazy.

- Hm?

- I have since confirmed that it's crazy. And so he wanted to do restaurants and so we were supporting him, Sus and I were supporting him

- Oh let's be clear real fast everyone, Josh is a restaurateur . Yes?

- I guess that's what I've become.

- Okay.

- So he wanted to get in and he opened a couple of his concepts. So there was a hamburger concept.

- H Burger.

- H Burger. And there was a taco concept which is T/ACO that is still in Boulder today and that's kind of the last,

- The lone wolf.

- the last lingering fragment of that episode. But learned a lot from that and again, he got us into it, I was very passive from an operational standpoint on that, but I kind of got the bug from it so that when he decided, "I'm done," and most of those restaurants got closed, I was like, "Hm, maybe." I still didn't think I was gonna do it and then it's actually Casey Easton's fault that I got back into the operational.

- Really?

- Yeah. I had a conversation with a friend who had mentioned an idea for a restaurant that was like crowd sourced recipes. And I loved that idea because that's what I loved about restaurants, was this community piece, it what I love about Jiu-Jitsu too.

- Right, right.

- Where it's a bunch of people who otherwise would not be in the same room all coming into the same room. And so we had been talking to her about that concept and this was when she was just getting ready to start her cooking school.

- So, four year,

- Four years ago.

- Food, her cooking school that she was doing out of the house? Or like actual Food Lab?

- No, Food Lab. So she was just looking for a place for Food Lab.

- Okay.

- And she looked at the place where River and Woods is now and said--

- That was John's right?

- That was John's, yep. And we were talking to her and she said, "You know, I just looked at this place. "It's not right for a Food Lab, "but I couldn't stop thinking about the concept "that you were talking about." So we went and looked at it. It's like going to the humane society just to look. Just gonna see if there's a puppy that speaks to us. So you come out with--

- So you got a puppy.

- So you come out with a puppy and that's pretty much how it happened. And then I ended up partnering, I wasn't with my chef partner at the time, that's Daniel Asher, he was at Root Down at the time and was running Root Down and Linger and this Denver restaurant Empire.

- [Eliot] Empire.

- And we had been friends for a long time. And what happened was he had been looking to kind do his own thing.

- So the restaurant thing made sense a little bit, right? Because you met all these people through "Dining Out."

- Oh yeah, totally.

- Right, because "Dining Out" was a restaurant magazine.

- Yes. You think you start to know. You start to see these, in over 15 years I'd seen hundreds and hundreds of restaurants open and close

- And close.

- and what they did and what worked and what didn't work. You start to see these patterns and you start to play this game like okay, this one's gonna work and then you'd see like okay, what went wrong here? So it was almost like a course in it without actually being in it. The course is never the same as the real thing .

- No, no, of course not.

- But you get a sense of it and you get a sense of what the real crucial elements are.

- And that game is always so easy to play, right? I mean everyone does it. Everyone does it with their Jiu-Jitsu schools.

- Right.

- They're like, ah man, they do it mostly with money.

- Yeah.

- I don't know if it happens as I don't do it as much with restaurant game, but I do it for sure. Everyone did it with Jiu-Jitsu, but you look at students, you multiply by a number,

- Mm-hmm.

- and then you go, subtract 20,000

- Mm-hmm.

- and that's what they make.

- Right.

- And you're like, yeah, fuck off.

- Right , right. Yeah you can see. It's one of those things. I think all businesses like that are one of those things where people are good at some aspect of the thing in the industry or they have some interest. As soon as I hear, "Oh my God, I have the best recipes, "I should open a restaurant," I'm like "You, should not open a restaurant . "You should cook for your friends."

- Cook for your friends.

- Yeah.

- I thought about it.

- Yeah, I know.

- I thought about doing a barbecue restaurant and then I was like, oh man, nope. I like it too much.

- Yeah. Oh yeah.

- I like making barbecue

- Oh yeah.

- and food for my friends too much that I don't want to

- Yeah no doubt.

- cook for my friends.

- Yeah.

- I don't wanna cook for the public.

- Yeah. No there's an aspect of having done the publishing industry and no business is easy right? Anyone will tell you that.

- Right, right.

- I will tell you that restaurants is significantly harder than the publishing industry. There's no stopping. It's the difference between skiing and kayaking. You get into trouble skiing, you stop.

- Yes.

- You get into trouble kayaking and the river

- Yes.

- does not give a shit. And that's how restaurant are. Tomorrow you gotta open again.

- Right.

- And the next day you gotta open again. And I literally sat in your driveway when I was supposed to walk in here and got a call that the guy who we had been counting on to run our first out-of-state restaurant that's supposed to open in two weeks, just literally sent a text that said, "You'll never see me again." And you gotta deal with it 'cause the clock isn't gonna stop and you gotta just be thankful that it wasn't a different time that you couldn't figure out a solution and get it squared away.

- How do you figure out these solutions?

- I mean it depends on what the problem is I guess. I mean I think the first thing is don't panic. It's stop, assess, and say okay, best case, worst case and then think about your resources. And again it goes to that network thing. If I was just someone that didn't know anyone in the industry and didn't know who to call when shit breaks, then you're like deer in the headlights like holy shit, I don't know what to do. So, having that network and then starting to reach out and I don't think there's anything more powerful than the network of people you know. I would call you and Amal. Like when I have a problem, I call you and say, "Hey," and you know a gazillion people that have industries outside of just from your student base. And you're like "Hey, I know a guy that you should talk to. "Call Vetry."

- Right.

- Call so and so.

- For this, you're the first non-Jiu-Jitsu or fight, so I depart for this podcast. It was like came up with us and then has a gym.

- Right.

- You're the first non-gym person.

- Yeah.

- To come on Eastman Online and I wanted to do that because I want people to see and I wanna hear the stories about what you were just talking about, it's just a people business.

- Right, everything is.

- Everything is.

- Yeah.

- The way you have to deal with all of your problems is first Jiu-Jitsu. I was watching Danaher's "Escapes and Pins" and he was like "Look, there's steps to this. "First you have to not be vulnerable."

- Right.

- Right.

- Yeah.

- So you're very vulnerable today, right? So the first thing you had to do was solve vulnerability.

- Right.

- And then you have to stop, end the discomfort. So that you can at least sit there for a minute and then you can start to assess how you're going to get out.

- I think that's exactly right.

- Well that's exactly what you just said.

- Yeah. Look I'm right, I'm always right,

- I know.

- that's why you call for advice.

- I know. So it was so interesting how because that was on my mind and then literally you just walked through that same thing and had nothing to do with actually escaping somebody pinning you down.

- In a lot a ways it is.

- Yeah. It's someone pushing you down.

- It's oh shit, the airs coming out of me.

- Right.

- Right, it's like oh, I got caught in a choke here. I think a lot of that is also preparation. A white belt knowing what kinda base and background they have doesn't go into, don't put yourself in a situation that you can't get out of.

- Well the problem is you don't even open, as the white belt you won't even open the guard.

- Right.

- Like you get someone in the close ground, you learned arm bar 30 times, you know how to do an arm bar and you don't try it

- Right.

- because you have no network.

- Right, that's right. And you see what happens when you're someone who thinks they're super strong and so you just take a grip and you hold on and that's the same thing with restaurants. You see them just holding and then you see the shakes start to happen and you're like, it's only a matter of time. It's happening.

- Because they could cook.

- Right, 'cause they could cook.

- Because they could cook.

- And they're like, "I've got a loan "and there's X dollars in the bank "and I'm losing X percent of those dollars every month "and when they're out I have no plan." What are you gonna do? You're gonna wait until they're out and then you're gonna get kicked in the nuts. So going into it saying, "Okay, what is the worst case?" What happens when the choke comes on? What happens when I start to feel like I'm gonna get in trouble? And what am I gonna do? So know that going in. Obviously that's not where you're looking. You're looking to win, but if I do get in here I've got some sort of escape plan. What's the worst case? I mean literally, the worst case? I'm gonna run outta money and it's gonna start affecting other businesses, how am I gonna prioritize?

- Right.

- And that goes right down to I think a life thing. Like your personal life. How that's gonna effect why personal life. I'm sure you do it too. You gotta talk to your home base and be like, "Okay, here's what happens. "We're in this for love, right?" It's a nice house right now.

- What if we sell?

- What if we can't sell?

- Right.

- So going right down to the core and thinking about who are we as people and what makes us happy? We're in the process right now of doing some, we're swinging for the fences at the moment. We're opening five restaurants in the next year and a half. By statistics there's a good chance that not all of those work out.

- Two or three probably, right?

- Well, here's hoping that we beat those odds.

- No, I'm just saying, statistics.

- I mean statistics, yeah, yeah. But, again, I think we're building outside of the statistics in the same way the you are. You're doing something different. And we like to believe that we're doing that too. But, nothing's a sure thing. So what are you gonna do?

- According to Foster, World War IIIs not gonna start and some others of us are nervous.

- Can we have a separate podcast about it?

- We should get the four of us online right? Me, you, Evie, and Foster just sitting here and fucking go.

- That would be good.

- It might ruin my brand actually.

- Listen, different name.

- [Eliot] Yeah.

- So anyway, when you're going for it you have to say, okay, I'm looking where I wanna go, but I know in the back of my head that there's a cliff off on the side and yeah, if I look off the cliff, that's where I'm going, so I'm gonna look straight ahead. But I gotta know that there's a cliff.

- It's the arm bar analogy.

- What's that one?

- You'll go for the arm bar, like the white belt closes his guard and knows how to do an arm bar and knows how to do a triangle, knows how to do a kimura, and doesn't move. Because they don't know how to deal with

- Right.

- when they miss it.

- Right.

- Right, like you miss the arm bar, all you've got is arm bar.

- Right.

- And then you're like shit, shit, shit, oh no I'm not doing it. But,

- Right.

- and kinda with your failures.

- Yeah, that's it.

- With H Burger, The Jet, all of these things right? Like that you were talking about earlier that you're like, okay, this is how you maneuver, this is how I retain my guard.

- Right.

- Oh shit, I got my guard passed.

- Like I passed now I'm on the bottom.

- No I'm the bottom of side control, I'm pinned, now what do I do and you just work your way through it, you stay calm.

- Yep.

- It's Jiu-Jitsu with restaurants.

- Right, and sometimes you gotta tap out, right? I lost. And you tap and you go and you reset. I've been there too, I've had to tap out. And you see that it's not the end of the world, nothing is the end of the world.

- It's just in our head that it's the end of the world, right? We tell that shitty story in our head where when this happens, it ends.

- That's right.

- And then the sun comes up.

- That's it? That's it? Yeah, and you saved me a few weeks ago 'cause I was like I started for the first time. I'd never been a panicker. I just kind of had a natural ability or gift to,

- I was gonna ask you about this but go ahead.

- and when I say gift I don't mean it's like a talent, I mean it's just like for me naturally I don't stress out and I don't panic and I kind of take things as they come and I've always just looked at life as a game. Lucky me. But I woke up one day and was like, "Holy shit, what the fuck am I doing? "We had it good. "We were safe. "Why am I taking us out of safety to take this risk? "Why am I doing that?"

- How old are you?

- I'm 46.

- Yeah, you're almost 50 years old.

- No, I'm 46 mother fucker.

- Oh I'm sorry man. But you're middle aged.

- Yeah.

- Maybe, I don't know, this could be late in life.

- Like one quarter, whatever.

- Yeah, but this could be late in life for all of us. We never know.

- That's right.

- We could be at the end.

- That's right.

- Statistically middle aged. You're very comfortable. And now here you are, you took yourself out of this.

- Took it out. We're right now in the midst of walking a tightrope. It's a rope that I don't know and the net is questionable.

- Right.

- Right.

- It might be there.

- It might be there and again try to set yourself up with to make sure that each business is success. So, again, we know sorta the 101 things like people think that they're gonna get open for X dollars so they find X dollars and think that day one they're gonna start making money back. And that is the case about 0% of the time. So, one thing is like, okay, if we lose this much money I need to be able to give myself a little bit of cushion for a turnaround.

- Runway money.

- Yeah, so things like that that are basic to be like I don't have to start literally panicking when the numbers don't show up on day one or month on or year one.

- So you woke up the other day.

- So yeah, I woke up, it was we went to a friend's wedding in Jamaica and I was like "I have no business going on this trip." It's the first time that I haven't been able to just turn off even for a few days. I literally sat in paradise stressing the fuck out. Sitting on a chair being like, "I can't sit in a chair right now, this is crazy. "I can't read a book right now." And I spent six days going, "Oh my God," and then all of a sudden I understood what a panic attack was. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, everything went out the window and I was like I'm in no place to make decisions right now and we came back, this was over a holiday time when everything is like you can't get people on the phone, and there's vacation time happening. So I came back from that trip that I kind of had to go on and I couldn't get it right then and I was like what am I doing? What am I doing? And I saw you and Mike at--

- Grand Dory, training right?

- Yeah. And I was just like, you both saw it actually. You both saw it in me. You're like you're off. And I was like "Yeah man, I'm kinda losing my shit right now. "I don't know what to do first this morning." It's the first time where I'm just like, I'm able to compartmentalize, I'm a total organizational train wreck, but I'm able to compartmentalize and be like I need to work on this and I'm gonna put on my blinders and do this thing that has to get done. And it was the first time that I felt like I couldn't do that, I couldn't focus. And you sent me the,

- The mediations.

- the meditations. And I was like, okay, I'm gonna go sit and do this and for the first however many minutes I sat there going like, this is 10 minutes that I don't have. And then by the end I was like, oh, I get it. Same deal right? I'm safe, 10 minutes.

- 10 minutes.

- Nothing happened.

- There's this saying in meditation that says if you don't have 10 minutes to sit down and meditate then you need an hour.

- Yeah .

- You know?

- I believe that and I started doing them on repeat. I was like every morning when I woke up with that knot in my stomach, that horrible knot. I mean that knot to the point where you're like man, I'm gonna die of a heart attack and I'm kinda okay with that.

- Please.

- Please, that's the safety net. My wife will be fine, my kids will be fine.

- I bought insurance.

- I got insurance. I'm buying them outta this with this heart attack right now. And literally had to stop and center myself like that. So I started doing it morning and evening and the difference was shocking. So thank you for that.

- Yeah, you're welcome, thank you for a host of things. That is such a thing for me. So I do it every day, I don't miss. Well I miss, but it's my thing because I know that I just need practice for when it goes bad I know it's gonna go bad. I know things in my life will go bad again and rather than worry about those things that are gonna go bad and sit there and "Okay, and okay, "okay, when the," you know what to do. I wake up I meditate, I have gratitude and that's my morning. So I was talking about it last night. Just some family things in my life aren't great right now and it's pretty shitty, it's pretty awful you know. And I have to start my day winning and we're not old enough yet that we can't pee in the morning right, like that's coming for us. One of my students, I said this last night, she was like, "Huh?" I was like, "Yeah, we have this thing called a prostate, "males it enlarges and then we can't piss in the morning." It's a pain in the ass. I'm not that old yet. So I start my day successful with four things. I pee .

- Still winning.

- Still winning. And then I meditate, I have gratitude, and I learn. So I win out the door. Before anything else happens I have one of the four things done. And then as things come to try to make me lose, I go "oop, nope." I was like nope, I've already won. I've already won. It's like getting to the mount on somebody. You mount them, you've already taken them down, passed their guard to side control and mounted them. So what they put you back in a half guard. You didn't want it, but you're like all right, you're tired, I'm not, I'm gonna keep winning.

- You're up on points.

- I'm up on points and I'll just keep riding that out. I'll just keep riding that out. What are the systems that you have to put in place Josh with this five restaurants in a year and a half?

- Yeah, it's part of that. The analogy that we keep using is we're changing the tires while this car is moving. And that's that. You don't have the luxury of closing and pausing and doing these things. So you gotta come outta the gates as strongly as you can. It's more important now than it was when we opened one and had time to focus on just that thing 'cause now it's like fires from all directions. So what I'm seeing is people and I think you guys do that as well as anyone. I always thought that you and Amal were so lucky in the business that you found because you're like grooming in your customers, you're grooming future staff. These are people who are some percentage of them are gonna fall in love with what you do and it's gonna change their life and they're gonna become passionate about it and then you see it all over your company. And then I take some of those people and hire them. But restaurants is not quite to that extent, but the people who here in it, love it, for some there's a switch in them and there's something that they love about what it is. And finding those people and putting those people in I believe in, and we did this with the magazine as well, in finding people who don't come with a predetermined idea of how things should be. So I don't wanna hire someone who came from the Ritz Carlton and that comes with their experience and says, "This is how we should manage." And it's because, no, we're not the Ritz Carlton. So if you try to make us the Ritz Carlton it's gonna fall down. So finding passionate people first and foremost that have a natural, like I don't have to tell you don't fucking crumple when the shit comes down. I want people that are looking at a challenge and they do it naturally. I don't have to teach it. I don't have to tell you this. When there's a challenge, I rise to the challenge which is why finding people from Easton has been so successful. Those are people who understand Jiu-Jitsu. They understand that I'm getting choked, it's not the end of the world, there's still shit that you can do.

- [Eliot] I've been in the chaos so much.

- Right.

- The chaos doesn't scare me. That's what Jiu-Jitsu breeds.

- That's the personality. I wanna dive into this puzzle and see how to solve it. That's just how I'm wired. So if you find people who are wired to wanna solve puzzles and who have just a positive outlook, an optimistic outlook and not unrealistic, but optimistic. We had a situation at River and Woods. We have a tent out back and it's half of our dining room and we have events out there and we had that big snow a few months ago in October. And I was in Jamaica and I got a call, "Hey, the tent collapsed last night under the snow." That was part of my Jamaica trip.

- Amazing.

- Yep. Right, and we have two buy-outs this weekend.

- What's that mean?

- It means events. People who have

- Bought out the whole restaurant.

- their special events. They bought out the tent specifically. And these are people who, you know, for months have been planning on having their event in our tent which is now under three feet of snow. And I'm in a foreign country.

- Jamaica.

- So you can collapse like the tent or you can be like well, let's start figuring some shit out. And lucky for us we have this amazing group of people from management down who are like, "Hell yeah, give me a shovel. "And let's start digging 'cause that's step one. "Get the snow off the tent." And then we started making calls from Jamaica and we found a tent and we had a bunch of people come out and we cleared off the snow and with literally an hour before the first event, we hung a bunch of lights and we got these fucking people into their tent. And it's not gonna work out every time, but it's gonna work out 0% of the time that you just go like, "This is impossible." And that's the people that you want. So, from a systems standpoint, step one is get people who are gonna rise to the occasion. And then start organizing it. We're in the process now structurally where we're figuring out like I've got people who are ready to invest in some of the future projects that we've got going and I can't take their money because I don't have the corporate structure in place yet. So I've got an attorney working on the corporate structure. Can't pay the attorney till I get the money from the people. And I mean that's what we're in so it's like, okay, well I'm gonna talk to everybody and right down to our attorney, who by the way is a BGJ guy in Denver.

- Who is it?

- Dornik, Mike Dornik.

- Oh, okay.

- He's got that same attitude. He's just like, "Hey, I wanna help you do this. "I know that this is gonna happen "so this is how we're gonna structure it. "I recognize that you can't pay this bill "until you raise the money to pay it, "so I'm gonna help you get there."

- This is my favorite thing about Jiu-Jitsu. It's that you just meet so many people.

- From,

- All kinds of lives

- All kinds of walks.

- Hell yeah.

- Like I walk into the ER and I'm like oh, fuck yeah. My kid was sick in the middle of the night one night, we had to rush him to the ER, you know Renae works in Boulder, we had no time to go to Boulder, so we had to just go to Avista and I walk in and there's the doc of a kid that we teach and he's like "Hey Eliot." And I'm like I'm gonna be good.

- Yeah totally.

- Not that any normal doc wouldn't take care of me. But like now I know it.

- There's a difference.

- I was going to be taken care of.

- 100%

- And Jiu-Jitsu, it's so crazy how it happens. It just brings so many people together that you're just like, okay, you do this. It's amazing.

- And again, to a lesser extent, restaurants are very similar. You have your regular customers and some of them are you know. And you have your staff all who have different interests.

- Different interests.

- And you're putting these people together in ways that they wouldn't without this thing that you made and that's the fulfilling piece of it.

- Yeah, I don't know, if it all went to shit for you, would you still do restaurants? Do you love it like that?

- You know I think it's for me it's less about the thing. There's all kinds of analogies I think that you can take from anything. Food was never my passion.

- Yeah, do you like to cook? Do you cook well?

- I like to cook.

- Okay.

- Yeah, no, I do. I enjoy it.

- Are any of these things at your restaurants like your recipes?

- There's input.

- Okay.

- So it's like it's the creative piece. If I had a passion it's writing. It's what I always wanted to do and making restaurants is, and I think any business is writing. You're building a story and it's a creative and it's an incredibly creative process. And if you're not creative then I don't think you should be an entrepreneur either. And it's creative from a problem solving standpoint, but it's also creative from a messaging standpoint. You have to be able to say this is who we are, this is what we do, this is our story, and make that an engaging story. And not everyone coming in and ordering a hamburger necessarily will be able to tell that story, but when there's something behind it, there's this subtle thing that people coming in sense if you're doing it right and that's not every night. But again, I think it's the same thing as you. Not everyone who comes in necessarily knows Amal's journey and how you got involved and know the whole path. You guys do a good job of telling that.

- Nobody knows it when they come in.

- Nobody knows it when they come in, that's right, but they sense it because the people who've been there for a long time, know it. And even if they've learned it over a lot of time. And so that trickles down to the people who come in as a white belt for the first time. That message from the very first time that a coach stands up and tells the story from their perspective, which is what I love about what you do. It's not a script. There's a baseline, there's a "This is our story." But I wanna hear, I want you to tell the students what your story is, like how it affected you because that's the only authentic story that you're gonna be able to tell. If you start talking about what Helio Gracie means to you, it's not gonna be authentic, you don't know that guy, you've never been to Brazil, you don't know anything. Amal can tell that story.

- You can tell a story about you and Helio Gracie.

- Right.

- You can't tell a story about Helio Gracie though. Like his life.

- Oh sure.

- Nobody cares.

- Sure, but again, Amal tells his story.

- Right.

- I'm saying that some of your newer coaches,

- Right, right.

- they couldn't tell that lineage story.

- No, no.

- So they're talking about when they came in as a white belt,

- Yes.

- what they're journey meant to them and that resonates with everybody. And the people who end up staying, stay because that person's story resonated with them and that's what you guys are passing down and that's what I think the differentiation is. I've been to lots of schools also every where I go, I go and check it out, and you see across the board that it is just not the same. If you start at your school then you take it for granted that this is what it is, but that's not the case. It's a rarity.

- I hate saying it, but what we do is special. And we've been lucky enough to make that happen.

- It's luck, but it's also you've empowered, you took Mike and Mike, same deal, I had the same conversation with Mike that I had with you when I was freaking out and Mike took me aside and said, "Hey, in my own way, I've been there. "Here's what I did. "Let me talk to your operations guy "who's probably in the same place that I was four "or five years ago." And he did that and they had this amazing conversation and Mike gave us some books that he's been working on because you guys are several years ahead in the organizational standpoint and that kind of creating systems and putting people in places and that's what we're in the midst of and so Mike was able to say, "Hey, I've read 100 books. "Here's three that I keep coming back to." And we're able to take his 100 book library and say, "Okay, here's the three."

- Here's three.

- And I have everyone reading those books right now including myself. And they're great.

- What were the books?

- Well I'm only reading the one right now so I can get so "Traction."

- "Traction."

- Yeah, and it's a blueprint book, right, and to someone who's not in the midst of it it's probably dry as fuck and so boring. But to us it's like a roadmap and it's like okay when you're reading a roadmap of a place that you need to get to, it's life changing. So again, it's one conversation where you say, and everybody, this is what we always talk about, say it. Let people know because if you're in your own head, you've only got what you've got.

- Man, you just gotta talk. Like I was talking to Peter last night. Peter called me and what you just said in your own head and he was talking to me. We had the holiday party Monday. I didn't really feel like saying anything. And then I said something and I guess it was really good. No, I've been getting messages. I don't feel like talking. And I got up there and I said that. I don't feel like, I don't feel like moving the needle. So I'm gonna just say thanks and I guess it moved the needle.

- You can't help but move the needle.

- So he asked me what was the matter, Peter. And I was like, uh, and I had five minutes. I was like this isn't a five minute story. So he called me and he was like, "Hey, if you wanna talk." And I was like, "All right, I'll talk." And sometimes just talking, like what you were just saying.

- Yeah.

- Getting it out. Like that's what I mean. I got therapy in two hours.

- Oh yeah.

- Every week.

- Heck yeah.

- I just get it out, I vomit. I just .

- Yeah. I would imagine this is a therapy session for you.

- That's why I love it.

- Yeah, totally. I have a buddy who teaches an entrepreneur class at CU and each year he asks me to come and just speak. He has multiple people come in every week. He's like "I know you're super busy this year. "If you don't have time it's totally fine." I was like, "Man, it's therapy." I come outta that thing like totally jazzed. And he's like "The students wanna hear about failure." That's what they wanna hear, that's what they love.

- 'Cause they're so scared of it.

- Yeah, and maybe it's just people love a train wreck.

- That too. That's why I watch reality TV. I don't do it anymore, but when I had time before kids

- That's why I watch it.

- I loved reality TV to watch.

- Yeah.

- I can remember the two girls names on "Real World" that I loved to watch just .

- Right, right. Well if you're gonna read, like I go and read restaurant reviews. If someone likes a place, nah.

- Nah.

- That's boring.

- That's a five.

- That's boring. I wanna see someone actively rip something apart and that's just human nature you know? You don't slow down to watch someone drive well, you slow down to see the car wreck. So that's okay, but it's like what can I learn myself and how can that teach? But it's again admitting it, A makes it like nobody's just successful 100% of the time in everything they do and I think that's why people like hearing it because it reassures them that the shit that I fell down on, like oh, someone that seems like they have their whole shit together also, doesn't. We have a food hall in Golden and I just had a meeting with the vendors and everyone is like, "There's another food hall coming to town,"

- [Eliot] What's the food hall called?

- Tributary. And everyone is like "There's another food hall coming "to town and we need to figure all of our things out "because they're gonna open up and blah, blah, blah." And I was just like, "Here's the deal. "They're gonna open up and it's gonna "be the exact same thing because the truth "of the matter when it comes down to it "is no human being knows "what the fuck they're doing in life." Tomorrow is a day that I have not lived yet and everybody else is in the exact same position.

- Dude, life coach. It drives me insane. It drives me insane. What the fuck do you mean you're a life coach?

- Right?

- I barely have mine figured out. It's going okay, but it could fall off the rails at any point. Life coach?

- I think that coaching is something that we're doing with each other anyway right?

- All the time.

- So like our conversations is we're life coaching each other.

- Of course, but I'm not your life coach and you're not mine.

- No, but if you have someone, it's like a therapist. Your therapist helps you.

- Of course.

- Your therapist helps you because you're paying her to just listen to you. The best therapists are just listening and they know that you're gonna figure your shit out if you take the time to work it out in your head.

- I just hate the term.

- I hate the term also.

- I hate the term.

- And I hate most of the people that do it because they think they have to sell themselves as having it figured out when they don't, nobody does.

- Right. And that's what I hate. Look man, come to Jiu-Jitsu. For me that's all it is. Oh you want a life coach, come on, we'll find somebody for you.

- Right, like you found it.

- Yeah, we'll find somebody.

- Some people are lost though. So that there's an outlet for somebody even if it's just blind leading the blind and I think there's a lot of that. If you have some raw talent in you you can have a soccer coach or a Jiu-Jitsu coach or whatever and either you've got a good coach, the same good coach is gonna coach someone to their full potential and that's it. And your full potential might be I play JV soccer and that's it. But you get there and you learn what you learn from it.

- That's success.

- Yeah.

- That's success. Like Wooden's definition. I can't remember the exact words. It was something about, fuck, I need it. It's so good. Yeah it's too good, hold on. This is where Jordan's lacking. Success quote. "Success is piece of mind which is a direct result "of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best "to become the best you are capable of being."

- Yeah, that's success.

- That could be JV.

- Right and it's believing it.

- Self-satisfaction.

- It's self-satisfaction and I think there's a line between self-satisfaction and self-delusion, speaking of Foster. But, there's a line there which is why stupid people are the happiest people.

- [Eliot] God, something that's right.

- And I think you can be too smart. I like to think of myself as just smart enough to know but not smart enough to realize how pointless the whole fucking thing is.

- Good, I was too smart for fighting. I couldn't get away from the risk. My brain, you know.

- Right.

- That's not too smart, right, but I couldn't turn that off.

- Well it's self-awareness. Yeah, for me to a much lesser extent. In high school I wrestled in high school and my senior year I was always fine, I wasn't gonna be a champion and I knew that. But I really enjoyed wrestling. And they would say like everyone would laugh at the person who wants it more. And I remember it was the district finals, all right, if I won this match,

- You go to regionals.

- I went to regionals. Sorry, no, it was the regionals. I would have gone to states.

- So it went to state.

- States, yes. So, if I lost, career over. Right, so that's where I'm at and I was up against this guy that I had wrestled with and been back and forth with and we were very evenly matched. I still remember his name. Throughout my high school career. We're in the third round and he's up by a few points and I remember thinking to myself, if I win this, I'm exhausted, I'm dead, I'm just fucking so dead. And I'm thinking to myself, you're gonna lose by a couple of points, you're gonna hold your head high, and you're gonna go home and you're gonna eat a pizza tonight. Tonight. And I remember thinking you know they say whoever wants it more is gonna win this match and I'm like this mother fucker wants it more, I want a pizza.

- I want a pizza.

- And I was like okay, where am I going from this? If I get into states I know what I'm up against in states, I'm gonna lose in the first round and it's gonna be the end of it. And I'm gonna go through a month of hell to get there.

- [Eliot] Right.

- So I don't remember where I was going with that but it was just kind of like that, it's like the mind of the champion right? I think you have to be able to delude yourself into thinking you are the best.

- The best, yes.

- As opposed to, and that's what it is. And it's a delusion.

- It's a delusion, yeah.

- And only the people that are either dumb enough or have blinders on enough to say "I'm the best in the world" as opposed to "I'm really good and can hang with anyone."

- I think it's why you see them crumble so often.

- Right, well you know you always hear the "I made it to the top" and then what?

- Right.

- Right, so like I'm the best, I'm gonna prove that and now all you gotta do is keep proving that over and over and over again. I'm gonna climb to the top of the mountain in freezing cold weather and you get to the top and it's a beautiful view and then you're like there's no more to climb.

- Nothing.

- Now I go down.

- There's so few Michael Jordan's.

- Right.

- Right, like who just are the best and then just continue the best. Like he's crushing life right now. He's a billionaire.

- Sure, but he's gotta be okay with that pivot, he's not the best basketball player anymore.

- No, no.

- He once was.

- Right, but he pivots. He keeps deluding himself, delusion, whatever that word is, delusioning himself but he's an awful person.

- I don't know him.

- I don't know him either but you can just read about him.

- Right, right.

- I mean I love him, I mean I'll talk that bad about him, but he's the goat of sports, but he's just the shittiest person that you can imagine. Because he just keeps that "I'm going to crush you."

- Right, right.

- And he never stops.

- It's exhausting.

- It's exhausting.

- Yeah, not for me.

- It's gotta be.

- It's not for me. There's enough.

- Yeah.

- I think about that with guys who crush business and become a billionaire. I don't care how well I'm doing, I'm checked out before the billionaire. I'm having the pizza. And I'm gonna walk away and be like that pizza was delicious and I got stories for days. So I know myself that way. That doesn't mean that when I'm in it that I don't wanna win, but I recognize what it is that I want. Did you see that movie, it was on Netflix, it was the guy who was the producer for Jim Carrey's movies.

- I didn't see it.

- I think it was called "I Am" or something like that

- Okay.

- and there was this thing where he's talking about it's the guy who came up from nothing and he's like I'm sitting in my 10,000 square foot mansion in Beverly Hills and I moved in there the first day and I sat down and I looked at this place and I was like, I am 0% happier than I was when I was in a two-bedroom apartment and look what I did. What nobody else does. I got gazillions of dollars in the bank. I'm a famous movie producer and what's it for? And he like then took a step back and there's this whole thing around it, but I keep coming back to that. What is the race for and where is enough? And my wife is really good at that. At like kind of always saying "Why?" You have to have an answer for why am I doing this before you start doing it. Or at the very least if you have already jumped in, you better figure out what,

- What you're in it for.

- what you're in it for. Why am I doing this and what is the end goal? You could do that into death.

- If you don't know why then you're gonna violate core values of your life.

- If you even have 'em.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, and if you don't have 'em

- You're really fucked.

- then you're a drug addict.

- Yeah, then you're really fucked. If you don't have that why, that why it's the north star. It's where everything's gotta point to and if you just do things here or there then next thing, I mean, I joke with people about it when they're like "I wanna make money and be rich." And I was like "Dude, you're male, so gay porn and cocaine."

- Right.

- Like gay porn's ridiculously profitable for males. I looked into this, I know.

- Sure, yeah, you looked into it.

- I did. Not for me, just like somebody told me that and I looked it up. So I was like just do that

- Sell cocaine.

- and sell cocaine. These things are hugely profitable.

- So my safety net just got a little bit stronger.

- You know, some other things depend. But that's what it is man. But that's not why we're doing it.

- I don't think so.

- For money I'm saying.

- No. I don't think you can, I forget what kind of like 101 book it was, but our attorney early on when we were starting "Dining Out" was like don't even think about the dollars. Just do this thing. Have it figured out, have the numbers figured out of course, but the money follows. You do what you do well and the money will follow. Yeah if you're doing it for money, first of all you're like a pretty vapid person. Early on there was a guy who we working with and he was just like, "I'm gonna have $10 million "in the bank," by whatever age. And I was like, "Cool." What are you gonna do with it? What's that gonna buy you? It's a number man, what are you gonna do with it? And zero answer.

- And most of it's not even real anymore. We don't even have real dollars.

- I would like to make a withdrawal for $10 million.

- Good luck.

- Exactly.

- Unless you sell cocaine and then you have real dollars.

- That's real dollars.

- You know?

- It's true.

- It's not what we want, it's not why I do it. Like when I asked you about the restaurant thing because I'm gonna teach Jiu-Jitsu for the rest of my life.

- I know, lucky you.

- Yeah, if all these crumble, I'll buy a garage.

- Yeah, you've found, there's all these find your passion talks. I actually heard one of the more interesting Ted Talks or something I heard, God I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert and she was talking about how she found her passion and she used to give all these speeches about your find your passion and then live it and then drive towards it and do that. And she's the unicorn, one of the unicorns. You're another one.

- I don't know who she is.

- She wrote, "Eat, Pray, Love."

- Okay.

- And she's like "All my life since I was a little kid "I wanted to be a writer and then I wrote "and then I did it and I went to got my MFA "and I wrote and I got an agent and I wrote a book "and it became an Oprah best seller "and I make a living at it and it became a movie "and look at me, I got to do exactly what I wanted to do "from the time I was a kid." And she said same deal, "That happens to exactly 0% of people." And she said, "I gave one of these talks "about find your passion, "like you have to find your passion." And she had someone come up after the thing and say "That was the most depressing talk I've ever heard. "That was completely uninspiring." And she's like, "I was crushed." And she's like, "Why was it uninspiring?" And she said, "It's because I don't know what my passion is. "How the fuck am I gonna find my passion? "I'm 20-something years old or 30-something years old "and I don't know what I wanna do. "So, I don't have a passion so am I useless? "Is my life pointless?" And so that crushed her and then she took a step back and started talking and her new message is be curious. Which is like, no, you might not have the one thing that you want to do, that's a blessing and a curse too. Like I've got one thing and if that thing doesn't work out for me then like, you know, it's the fighter guy. I was in a Vegas at a gym in Vegas and there was this guy who was running with a backpack and he was like, "I'm getting married "and my girlfriend is pregnant

- I gotta make it.

- "and I gotta make it "as a fighter." I'm like, oh man, fuck, oh Jesus Christ . I'm like that sounds worse than I gotta make it in a restaurant. Anyway, it's the same thing. So her point was go out and be curious about a bunch of shit and anyone can do that. I'm interested in hearing what you do. You're asking me about restaurants. You have zero interest in a restaurant, but it applies to you in some way and so you take what's interesting about that to you and you're interested in it and you become a listener. And I think it's the same. I think that's her point that really resonated with me. It's like hey, I'm interested in all this shit. I'm not gonna go do it. I suck at three quarters of what I'm interested in, but I love listening to somebody else who is passionate about something. So let me go, Sus is great at this too. He's like, "I'm gonna go make soap." And all of a sudden you gotta hear him listen to his fucking soap stories for a month and a half until he gets tired of soap making. But now he can talk to someone who makes soap about soap. I just think that that's like if you're gonna create a mission for your life and you don't know the specific thing that you wanna do, then it's like okay, well, go do something for a month. Go find out about something for a month. Have interest.

- Don't be so scared.

- Be an interesting,

- Or be scared and do it anyway.

- Yeah.

- Just go try it.

- Yeah.

- See what it's like.

- It's low risk.

- Especially young.

- Especially young. Yeah, and then maybe you bump into something. You didn't know Jiu-Jitsu was your thing until you.

- Yeah no, not at all and then it hits you and you're like oh.

- Yeah, that's the thing. I can do it.

- I have no business being in business. I break all the rules, all of 'em.

- That's why it's good though, right.

- Yeah.

- Because it's working for you. And that's the thing about the creativity and a little bit of the delusion. Like I believe that this can work. I'm gonna believe that this can work until it doesn't, until I'm proven wrong that it's not gonna work and I'm gonna be open to being proven wrong and then I'm gonna pivot.

- But pivots very important.

- Pivots crucial. But again, look at everyone who's at your management level. They were all lost until they came into the gym.

- Every single one of us.

- Everyone one of you including Amal. Didn't know what you were gonna do until you bumped into this thing and then just started doing it. Different stories but the same story.

- God, for me, you were talking about why I do this a little bit. Because I get to hear stories about the be curious thing. That was great because I tell people a lot to go find their passion and I can see it, it could be awful.

- Yeah.

- Like if you're 35 and I tell you to go find your passion, you're like "Dude, fuck off."

- Right, what's my what?

- What do you mean. I got two kids, I got a wife, find my passion?

- Your passion might not be that thing. Lots of people work in a cubicle and they're like I come home at the end of the day and my passion is my kids or my passion is my, I throw pottery or whatever.

- Whatever, yeah.

- And that's my outlet. So many people ask like what do you do? And you know, that's a hard question for a lot of people who are like I'm a systems analyst for whatever. They find things out of that.

- That's not the nicest question.

- It's a micro aggression.

- Oh God. All right we're done. No but seriously man, thanks. I know, like I said, I know you're busy.

- Gotta go find a GM in Idaho.

- Gotta go find a GM in Idaho. Fuck. Good luck man.

- This was fun. It's the meditation right. You take yourself out in the same way Jiu-Jitsu is.

- [Eliot] Yeah, this is the only thing we can do is talk. Door's shut, cameras are on. You look silly if you just get up and leave. So all right man, thanks everybody. Thanks for listening. Josh thanks for coming in.

- Thank you.

- If you're in Boulder, River and Woods, Golden Tributary, where else?

- Ash'Kara.

- Ash'Kara.

- [Josh] That's coming to Boulder too.

- Yeah I knew that yeah, yeah excellent.

- [Josh] And the Boulder Reservoir, that's gonna be this summer.

- What's that? What's the Boulder Reservoir?

- We're doing a restaurant food truck park and event center.

- Fuck yeah. Hit up Boulder Res.

- Yeah.

- All right guys, Josh thanks a lot.

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