Thriving vs. Surviving: Live a Life You Truly Love Instead of One You Secretly Hate | CJ Finley | Better Man Podcast Ep. 060

Thriving vs. Surviving: Live a Life You Truly Love Instead of One You Secretly Hate | CJ Finley | Better Man Podcast Ep. 060

Have you ever wondered what it means to thrive? To have a life so fulfilling that you wake up every morning bursting with energy? 

Many of us go through life on autopilot: We don’t question what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. We get used to our jobs and our day-to-day routines, sinking into a comfort that can quickly morph into depression if we don’t question ourselves, our careers, and our lives. 

Today’s guest, CJ Finley, the founder of Thrive On Life & the Thrive On Life Podcast was the same way 6 years ago. 

He chased money until depression hit him like a ton of bricks. But when he hit the proverbial “rock bottom,” instead of blaming others, he started asking himself simple questions. 

These questions allowed CJ to create a life and a business that gives him energy instead of draining it. 

And in today’s show, he’s sharing these secrets to building a thriving and fulfilling life with you. 

We also cover…

  • I have to vs. I get to
  • 3 things all of us can do to better manage our lives
  • Asking the right questions to create clarity on what you want in life

And more…

Tired of living a life you secretly hate? Listen Now

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Watch a Clip From Episode 060


Show Highlights with CJ Finley

  • How chasing money stifles your dreams (and 3 questions to ask yourself if you’re lost in life to rediscover your purpose) (7:54) 
  • The “why can’t I?” mindset shift for conquering even your wildest dreams instead of living an average life (14:20) 
  • The insidious way people pleasing haunts you with narcissistic tendencies (and why spending time alone is the antidote to people pleasing) (17:14) 
  • Why failing is actually one of the best ways to improve your long-term mental health (37:53) 
  • The real reason why you get distracted from your fitness, relationship, and career goals (45:13) 
  • How asking yourself this simple question unlocks a profound sense of clarity for your life’s direction (45:27) 
  • The 4-word question to ask your spouse that prevents divorce, resentment, and pointless bickering (48:44) 
  • Stuck in a rut? Here’s the FASTEST way to break out of it… (59:16) 
  • The “Sauna & Ice” strategy for minimizing your daily stressors and worries to almost zero (1:05:05) 
  • 3 questions to ask yourself to help you create a life you love instead of living one you secretly hate (1:14:22)

Resources mentioned in this episode: 

  1. Paleovalley Grass-Fed Beef Sticks: Looking for a quick, yet high-quality source of protein for building muscle? Try Paleovalley’s Grass-Fed Beef Sticks using our link to save 50%: http://manflowyoga.com/beefstick 
  2. Follow CJ on Instagram: Need help figuring out how to THRIVE in life? Follow CJ on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/cj.finley/ 
  3. Thrive On Life Podcast: Tune into CJ’s podcast, Thrive On Life, wherever you listen to podcasts—or on his site here: https://thriveonlife.com/
Episode 060: Thriving vs. Surviving: Live a Life You Truly Love Instead of One You Secretly Hate - CJ Finley – Transcript

Dean Pohlman: Hey, guys, it’s Dean. Welcome to the Better Man podcast. Today I am joined by C.J. Finley, who is the founder of Thrive On. I met him a few years ago at a group workout led by Noah Kagan and Jeremy Hills, who at the time was with on it, who is now doing his own thing. That’s way too many names to introduce in an introduction, but that’s how I know C.J. So, C.J., welcome to the show. Thanks for joining me.

CJ Finley: Yeah, thanks for bringing me on. It’s always nice to come full circle with people and anytime I get to podcast with other men and talk about being a better man is a good day. So I’m looking forward this conversation.

Dean Pohlman: Nice. Yeah. And that’s a I think that’s a really good description of us because when we met in 2017, 2018.

CJ Finley: 17, I believe.

Dean Pohlman: 2017, six years ago. Yeah. Like, yeah, 2018 actually.

CJ Finley: Spring 2018.

Dean Pohlman: Okay. Yeah. And I don’t know, like, you know, I don’t know where you were at with Thrive on mental yoga. I think we had just started a member’s area, but it looks nothing like it does now. And you know, so I like seeing people like you who have stayed on like, on my newsfeed for years and you’re like, oh, every now and then something pops up and you’re like, Oh, this is what they’re doing now.

Dean Pohlman: Like, Oh, okay, cool. They’re still they’re still doing this. So and you just became a dad. Graduation.

CJ Finley: Thank you. Eight days in.

Dean Pohlman: Eight days in. Okay, I’m about one month in with number two, so I am probably running on a slimmer, similar sleep schedule to you.

CJ Finley: I mean, lack of sleep schedule.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, lack of lack of sleep. Yeah. I will say that the second time around, that was for me. My wife Marissa has, you know, much more experience with the process, so she’s much less stressed about it, which means, like, if the baby’s crying, she doesn’t go straight to, Oh my God, the baby’s probably going to die if I don’t do something.

Dean Pohlman: So now she’s like, Oh, baby’s crying. Like, we don’t want that. But also, I know that you’re not going to die most likely. So it’s it’s different. The second time. So I don’t know what the how how are you guys doing the Justin Jeremy.

CJ Finley: We’re fortunate her my sister in law had her first about two years ago and she’s pregnant with her second and is about to have her second in a month. So we kind of see we saw the inside look of what it’d be to have an infant, so we would just hear from them. And we’ve been able to take advice.

CJ Finley: And I think that’s it sped up the process for us a little bit. But the first, like the only the big struggle we had was once he brought him home and he figuring out his cadence and how like he doesn’t really like the bassinet and he doesn’t really like swaddling and he has to be like swaddled in a certain way where his arms are free because he likes to wiggle until you figure out those things.

CJ Finley: It’s just like you have. You’re just awake, like for 24 hours and you’re trying to figure out like he’s trying to figure out, Oh my God, I’m alive. And that’s kind of scary. So he sighs, he’s crying, and then he starts getting a little bit more used to life every single day.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah.

CJ Finley: So he gets to spend time awake without, like, crying. And the only time now that he’s like, really crying or or calling out for us is like, if he’s hungry or if he needs a diaper change and I, I mean, we already know that that’s every 3 hours. So it hasn’t. Yeah, once we got past a week it’s before that it was just like trial and error a little bit with him and that was it’s stressful because you’re just you don’t know what the solution is, right?

CJ Finley: I love.

Dean Pohlman: It. They can’t tell you what the solution is. That’s the frustrating part. Yeah. Well, so and one reason I bring that up is because, like in the last day alone, you know, your social media, you’ve talked about your workouts, you posted about being a dad, you posted about why you should have invested in Amazon four months ago. And I’m like, This dude is all over the place.

Dean Pohlman: I’m on mic. I’m like, I don’t know what he does. So, you know, I’m assuming that this has to do with like the overall, you know, mission of Thrive on. And so first off, like, you know what is what is thrive on mean to you.

CJ Finley: Yeah so like thrive on is short for a thrive on life and I kind of thought through um, it’s more of like a marketing tactic when I first started Thrive on Life and the mission behind that. And that really started from something much more meaningful and purposeful. My wife and I have known each other since we were ten years old.

CJ Finley: She’s a girl I bought flowers for.

Dean Pohlman: Oh my God.

CJ Finley: In the sixth grade. She was in the sixth grade like talent show dancing. And I was believe it or not, I was filming the sixth grade talent show back then, like when they had these, like, little camcorders and we we kind of like dated when we were in like fifth and sixth grade. And dating then was pretty much holding hands at the skating rink.

CJ Finley: Right?

Dean Pohlman: Right.

CJ Finley: Then, Yeah. And then we went our separate ways In high school. We both had significant others and long term relationships that were like five plus years. We then split it off with those significant others. We got into other relationships, but Aaron has always been one of my best friends, and throughout our journey and throughout life, we’ve always kind of like reconnected and stayed connected with each other of like whether it’s career or life, always just being there for each other and reaching out every couple of months.

CJ Finley: She ended up going to Texas, Houston after she graduated college, and I was in New York City and I just was like living this lifestyle where it was fast paced. I finally was making like engineering money. I went to school for engineering and I was just blowing a ton of money on girls alcohol, going out gambling, going to Atlantic City, a bunch of different things.

CJ Finley: And I had lost myself in college. I was a I was an athlete and I had always had these big dreams and I kind of just like let those dreams go because I was just following the like, chase the money, get the job. Yeah. And then once you get into that cycle for me, what really changed it was I was living with two roommates that were like ten years older than me, and they started asking me some questions about life.

CJ Finley: Then I started asking myself those questions like, What do I want? Who do I want? Who do I want to be? And Aaron at the time had started an Instagram account called Inspiration Dot Fitness, and she was an engineer just like me. And when I saw that, I was like, Holy shit. Like, this is what I want in my life.

CJ Finley: I want somebody that not only is career driven, but has this or about them that. They’re just trying to get better at everything in life. And we had this common thread of like, we like to work out, we like to run, we like to play sports. And I reached out to her and I said, Hey, I want to visit.

CJ Finley: I’m not going to tell the whole story. You can hear it probably in ten other places where I tell it. But I want to give that back story where I reached out to her and I was like, I want to I want to reconnect with you. But that started because unfortunately, her father died in a spin class on my mom’s birthday, June 5th, and I couldn’t be at the funeral.

CJ Finley: So I wrote her a letter. And that kind of led to the whole me reaching out saying I want to visit and thrive on life started because when we reconnected and we started dating, we asked ourselves like, what is the point of our life? Like at the point of our life is to show up and have this engineering career like we want to do something bigger.

CJ Finley: What do we want to do? Like what do we represent? And in any given moment, we talk about having children here. It’s like, no matter how stressed I am, no matter what environment is around me, no matter what is coming at me, I still want to thrive. I don’t want to just sit here and survive. I want to do whatever it takes to live a meaningful life.

CJ Finley: And that’s where the word thrive came up. But if you go to thrive dot com, it says you can’t buy it. Somebody is parked on it right now. It’s just like shit, like I can’t buy this icon. Like what’s the, what’s the saying here? And that’s where she came up with Thrive on life and then the whole thrive on stemmed from like, okay, I need like a tagline after the content that I post and the people that I talk to, to just be that like thrive guy.

CJ Finley: Like how do you, how do I remind people that no matter what situation you are in, in life, you can thrive? And it really just stemmed from from pain, the pain of losing her father and like reaching out. And that that gave me the confidence to to really just chase everything that I’ve wanted in life because she was one of the main things that I wanted to surround myself with.

CJ Finley: And it worked. I, I reached out to her, we reconnected. I was like, if this works, like what else will work? If I just kind of like ask myself, what do I want and where do I want to go and just grind to get to get there. So long winded answer, but time life started really just because of death.

CJ Finley: Someone died and we looked at ourselves and we wanted to inspire other people to not just meander through life but but thrive.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So take me back to when you were an engineer and you had those older roommates who asked you those questions, like what was what were they asking you? And what you know, what did you go through as you were answering those questions? And, you know, how did your how does your answers compare to what you were doing on a day to day basis?

Dean Pohlman: Like, to me, it sounds like that was a significant event.

CJ Finley: It was. But leading up to that was an even more significant event. It’s and it’s a solid lesson for anybody listening. Before I before they became my roommates, I had this job where it was in North Jersey, and I was driving 2 hours to and from because back then, like there wasn’t really a Airbnb. It wasn’t set up the way it was now.

CJ Finley: It wasn’t as easy. So I’m on Craigslist looking for four places to live while I’m commuting this 2 hours. And I had reached out to these two guys that seem to have similar interests as me, and I hit it off when we were there and visiting the place and I thought I was going to get this place. I could walk to work.

CJ Finley: It was like a nice place. I was very excited and they ghosted me. They never reached back out to me and I was really upset. So then I was still driving the 2 hours like a shit. Like I really needed that place. Like why am I getting dumped on right now in life? And what ended up happening was I reached out to another guy.

CJ Finley: I went and saw the place, a guy named Ben. And then another roommate named Linda. And what ended up happening was Ben went to Rutgers. Newark, I believe, and I went to Rutgers. Camden. So we had that common thread. It was like, I got to show this to a couple other people, but I really like you and like, I’ll just keep you in the loop.

CJ Finley: So I was like, Oh, this another person, This is going to like ghost me again. But on my drive home, my two hour drive home, he like, called me. He’s like, dude, like, I just told other people, like, no, like you can have the room if you want it. So that glimmering chance that that it gave me and the lesson there is just like I never would have gotten asked the questions that kind of led me to the life I live now.

CJ Finley: If I hadn’t just kept trying, like I kept reaching out, I kept meeting new people. And the the people that I lived with, Ben was from the Ivory Coast. I believe, and Linda was from Nigeria, and she had this wonderful life in Nigeria. And then she moved to New York to try and like, make it and make it on her own in New York.

CJ Finley: And then they really just saw me kind of doing like all the mistakes that our early 20 year old makes is just like partying, staying up all night, just maybe hanging around people that are questionable, making some questionable choices. But I still had my shit together, quote unquote, like you had a good job. I’m a good human being.

CJ Finley: I always have been. But I just was making questionable choices. And they can kind of tell like, hey, you talk this big game. Like you say, you have these dreams and these goals, but then your actions don’t necessarily align with that. And what I didn’t know was that like I was just following what everybody else was doing. I wasn’t really thinking for myself.

CJ Finley: And they started questioning, what would C.J do if you were like in your own petri dish? What would life look like if you took this away? And Linda specifically, she’s the one that motivated me to reach out to Aaron because I would be like, Oh, she’s in Texas. Like, I can’t I can’t take a trip to her. I can’t reach out to her.

CJ Finley: And she’s like, C.J., like, I’m from Nigeria. Like, I’m here. Like, I came alone. Like, I didn’t really know anybody here. And I came to, like, go after a dream. Why can’t you do the same thing? And that was like when the bubble burst, where I started to ask myself, Well, why can’t I do this? Like, why do I have to listen to my friends that are in my bubble right now who are just doing the same thing that everybody else is doing that we did in college?

CJ Finley: Why can’t I break out of that? Yeah, and it really just inspired me to then seek other questions where I started reading a lot more. I spent then started spending a lot more time alone when I had free time rather than like I was always on teams and in a fraternity and spending a lot of time with other people.

CJ Finley: It was like maybe a coping mechanism a little bit. It was just like it made me feel good. But I started spending a lot more time alone and just digging into my own thoughts and questioning like, Where do I want to go in life? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to hang my hang around?

CJ Finley: And a lot of the answers that came about was like, New York’s not the right place. The people I’m around aren’t the right people to be around. And I when I look in the mirror, I fucking hate who I am. I don’t like this. I had this dream of being a professional athlete. I gave it up for drugs and alcohol and and partying and I want to change.

CJ Finley: And the only way to change is to change my environment. And that’s where reaching out to Aaron was that first start of, okay, she’s in this completely different environment. She’s in Texas. I never envisioned myself visiting Texas, let alone living in Texas.

Dean Pohlman: Right now I’m here. Yeah. What happened? So.

CJ Finley: So you think about it, You’re just like Texas. What? And that’s that. That initial those questions sparked a couple actions and then it was just like downhill from there.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So as you were, you know, in this period after college and during college when you were kind of just falling, doing what other people were doing were I mean, I’m just making assumptions here, but were you just caught up in, like the you just caught up in the excitement of, oh, I’m a young professional. I’m making pretty good money.

Dean Pohlman: Like I get to be with I’m I’m with my friends. We’re doing fun stuff like this is exciting. And during all that time, were you were you really, like, slowing down to think at all about what you were doing or was just like, just like on one thing on to the next thing you thought you’re doing the right thing.

Dean Pohlman: You didn’t really question it.

CJ Finley: And I think it’s a little bit of a lot, but I would say I leaned more then into narcissistic tendencies. I would push the throttle in life and say, like people would people would say, like, you can’t play sports and get an engineering degree.

Dean Pohlman: Mhm.

CJ Finley: So because people said that there was a little narcissism in me like oh yeah, fucking watch me and I applied that to everything. Oh you can’t, you can’t stay up all night studying, drive 5 hours, go visit somebody over the weekend, come back, take the test and still pass and still keep your scholarship and still help Start a fraternity.

CJ Finley: It was really just this like, okay, watch me do all these things rather than being like, why am I doing these things in the first place? And I think it stems really from if I look at my childhood, it was just people pleasing. Like I wanted to be seen as somebody who worked hard and earned the grades and was the captain of the team.

CJ Finley: And it was this big facade of what I thought I wanted to be thought of rather than who I thought I was and what I wanted to be and who I wanted to be. That was never asked of me, like growing up. It was never it was never like, what do you truly love to do with your free time?

CJ Finley: And it wasn’t until it wasn’t until I, like really reflected on what I do every day, no matter what. And that was sports and athletics and working out. And that opened up a lot of doors for me in terms of my mental health and leaning out of those narcissistic tendencies and saying like, that’s how I transitioned from engineering to personal training because I stopped caring about, Oh my God, what are people going to think if I leave?

CJ Finley: I spent five years, isn’t getting this engineering degree now? I’m not an engineer, I’m training people.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah.

CJ Finley: But I didn’t care anymore. I was like, This is what I love to do. I love to help people. So I’m just going to go all in on this and then see where the thread goes after that. And it really just yet stemmed from narcissistic tendencies and then breaking those tendencies and of caring what other people thought and proving that wrong and instead like proving myself right in terms of who do I want to be?

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Got it. So you became a personal trainer. And, you know, for me, first off, I want to comment on, you know, some of the similarities that I notice. Like, you know, for me, I think I had a I had a similar childhood and that I you know, it was very success oriented, like, you know, get good grades, like honor your commitments.

Dean Pohlman: Do you know, like mom was proud to have a son who got good grades, you know, was like captain of lacrosse team and also played bass guitar and, like, sang and did all these other did these things and, you know, I really enjoyed all of that. But, you know, I do I do definitely hear the, you know, the people pleasing thing like you do a lot of it because, you know, it’s going to make people around you proud.

Dean Pohlman: But, you know, is it like is it going to be the best thing for for you? So, you know, for you to how old were you when you when you how old were you when you decided to stop the the the engineering job or how many years.

CJ Finley: I have left? So I, I, I never actually went into engineering. I first started in banking in technology.

Dean Pohlman: Oh, okay.

CJ Finley: To chase money. And because those jobs are actually getting more money like the salary was more coming out of college than like a principal engineer job that my friends were getting so right from the right from the get go. I was like playing the game. I was like, I got the engineering degree because I knew it was a good it was good bait to get high salary jobs.

CJ Finley: I used the bait to then figure out what were the highest paying jobs in my area and it was really in banking technology or consulting, and I didn’t want to travel that much. I have some. I have a health issues and stuff like that dating back to then. So I was just like, Yeah, travel is not necessarily the best for me, that type of stress, but I will check out these banking technology jobs.

CJ Finley: And I ended up working at UBS Wealth Management and it was great that like that set me up to, to make the decisions that I got to make later on. But that was in 20 like 2014, 2015. And then I had a I bounced around a couple of different other jobs and I ended up leaving January 2nd, 2017.

CJ Finley: I left like my last sour, salaried corporate job. So it’s been about over. It’s been over six years now that I’ve been kind of on my own path and doing my own thing.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Got it. So. So you did that. Then you got into personal training and you when you started your personal training, the brand was was the brand thrive on at that point or was there like an evolution to getting from I’m personal training because this is what I really enjoyed doing and eventually you came to like, okay, now this is the this is what I will be doing.

Dean Pohlman: This is what thrive on does this is like the mission kind of know.

CJ Finley: So they were separate. And I want to make that clear because I only personal trained because I needed to make money and it needed a way out. Let me rephrase that. That sounds like a dick. I did. I love doing it.

Dean Pohlman: I think that’s fine to say. Yeah, like that was like that, wasn’t it, man? For yoga, like, I started personal training at first and I was like, I don’t want to do this forever, but like, I’ll do this for now.

CJ Finley: Yeah. And I’m good at it. Like, I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I’m really good with people and I really fucking care about helping people and getting them to hit their results. And it naturally happened. So what happened was at my corporate job, people were asking me to train them and at first I said no, because I was just naive.

CJ Finley: I didn’t really understand how it even worked. I was like, I can’t be a trainer. Like, I can’t work on the side of this job that I already have. I read four hour workweek and started like kind of understanding the world of entrepreneurship a little bit more from an actual business context.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

CJ Finley: And then I was like, you know what? Like next person that asked me to train them, I’m just going to say yes, but I’m going to say yes. But yes, but here’s my fee. And what I realized real quick, they they didn’t blink. So I was like, shit, I asked for too little. And when I realized, like I had the perfect route out because I was working in technology and an engineer like technology space, those people said it.

CJ Finley: That’s all day. And they don’t have the knowledge that I have in the health and wellness space, but they have the money like they’re paid very well, so they’re willing to pay for their for my time. So I went really quickly from like, okay, I’m making $0, like I’m making a couple grand a month just working before and after work on like three with three or four clients.

CJ Finley: But I knew right away I was like, okay, this isn’t my full time thing, but this could potentially be the thing that gets me out of my corporate job to, like, get to that next step. And that’s where in 2017 I resigned. I had enough clients to sustain myself and I immediately invested in into a nutrition certification so I could do more online consultations for people and take away the in-person.

CJ Finley: And then to I paid like I believe, like 500 a month for this place called Station Houston, which is like capital factory here in Austin. So I was like, if I’m going to yeah, if I’m going to do this business thing, I need to hang around people that have already done it. And I went to station Houston and like would go to office hours, I’d be in conversations and I just started asking people, Hey, I’m willing to help and thrive on life.

CJ Finley: Really just started as kind of like a connector of I would do Thrive weekly, where I would I would highlight somebody like you, Dean in Houston, where you were thriving and I would write a blog and then share that on my social media and the thrive on life. Like I didn’t have C.J. Friendly. That wasn’t a brand. Like I didn’t have a social media account under that.

CJ Finley: I didn’t have Twitter, I didn’t have a website under siege. Definitely none of that. It was literally just a thriving life account, and I was just showcasing myself and other people thriving and that it really took off because a lot of other people were just like, Yo, let’s go. Let’s do this workout, let’s go do this, let’s do that.

CJ Finley: And that led to enough clients for me to support myself and just kick the ball down the curve of like what really is thrive on life. Yeah. And that’s where today the main thing for it, it just says as a podcast, I’m going to keep doing that for a very long time. But it started really of just this idea of I’m going to highlight people on my website, on a blog and then on Instagram and just see where it goes.

Dean Pohlman: Mhm.

CJ Finley: So and the personal training allowed me to do that.

Dean Pohlman: Gotcha. And so you have, and you do one on one coaching too, right? Yeah.

CJ Finley: So eventually what ended up happening was because I was a personal trainer, a lot of people that you train end up knowing a lot of people and they would connect me with other people that were like, you know, they’re starting this business. I think C.J. can help you. So then it went from personal training to like helping health and wellness companies like kind of scale their business using like systems.

CJ Finley: And then I got into the world of like business consulting. And that’s really where my life took a whole different next level where I started. I’ve been like a fractional CEO, and now I can like I can build a whole marketing system. I can build companies from, I would say my specialty is like 0 to 1. If you’ve ever read the book, period.

CJ Finley: It’s like if you’re if you have an idea and you’re looking to scale that idea to the next phase, whether it’s like raising capital or getting enough money in the door to hire your first contractor or first employee and then build your first initial team like I’m your guy for that. Only because I’ve been in I’ve been in it for five years now, doing it with so many different brands and companies.

CJ Finley: And I really loved that that side of the world where it’s like a small one person idea and then how do you get it to the next phase? And then whoever wants to manage that and take it to the to the moon, that’s not nice. I’m not necessarily that guy.

Dean Pohlman: Gotcha. So, so so that leads me to a question that I had. So I think there’s a difference between having a career, having a career that you think you love and having a career that you actually love. And, you know, to me, when I was on your website and when I look at your content, my thought is how do you go from having a and you don’t have to necessarily frame this and like from an entrepreneur’s point of view, but how do you go from having, you know, a career that is that you think you love to like having a career that is strongly mission based and aligns with you personally?

Dean Pohlman: Like does is there is this question like ringing a bell for you? Is this.

CJ Finley: Yeah, I can answer this pretty, pretty straight.

Dean Pohlman: Okay.

CJ Finley: First you have to write down what you don’t want. It’s much harder to figure out like what you do want when you’re in your twenties and you haven’t really tried much. It’s like, Fuck, there’s so much out there. Like, where do I go?

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

CJ Finley: But, you know, like, deep down, I was like, I can’t sit at a desk. I can’t have a boss. Like, there’s these certain things that I just will not bend on. And when you write those out, it kind of narrows down like, Okay, what are your options now? I don’t want to work on the same thing for 20 years.

CJ Finley: I struggle to even work on like so I’m online for my baby. And the reason that I haven’t built it into something bigger is because it’s not who it’s not. I’m not going to live and breathe that every single day like I’m not going to show up and be like, I got to drill this thrive on life mission into everybody’s head because there’s so much more to C.J than just this thing.

CJ Finley: Yeah.

Dean Pohlman: Yes. And as evidenced by your extremely broad content on your social.

CJ Finley: Yeah you it that’s that’s me so when I when I really under started to understand that and write that down I was like who am I not. It got a lot easier because then I start comparing myself to anybody else out there. I just do my own thing and for me, I realized that there’s two types of people in this world.

CJ Finley: I mean, there’s more than two types of people, but when I’m talking entrepreneurship, there’s people that are literally going to work on the same idea for 20 plus years, and that’s going to be fulfilling to them. They want to they want to go from 0 to 1000. And for me, I get motivated every day by bringing new ideas to life, by meeting new people, by helping new things come about, by planting seeds that then get to at least have the chance to be watered, to grow, and then somebody else can come in and cultivate that seed when it turns into something that’s edible.

CJ Finley: I don’t have to be that person. I learned that because I naturally was doing it. I was hanging around people and be like, Oh, let me help you do with your social media. Oh, do you know how to use I do you know how to build your podcast because I have my own podcast studio in my house. I started realizing like I love to just consult and help people live a certain lifestyle, and every year I just get closer and closer, narrowing it down.

CJ Finley: So what it looks like practically if somebody is listening to this great example, is I eventually get to the point where it’s island life. I had my own office where we would have community gatherings. I had a gym in my first floor and then I had my podcast studio. COVID killed this idea, but it still remained like, okay, this is where I want to go with my life out of COVID.

CJ Finley: My buddy Jason Sabol has started Squash Frontier Fitness. He’s also the founder of Bushnell Coffee. And then we got a bunch of people to like, blow this gym up. And now that gym has a podcast studio and a recovery lounge and a full gym, and now they’re building out a second sector to it. Mm hmm. Then during the pandemic, my buddies John and Baldo at MSW Lounge, I was a client of theirs getting vitamin IVs.

CJ Finley: We partnered on this idea called How Do You Health? We threw a health festival and all that whole time, like helping them with their supplements that I was already taking them and getting to this level of like, okay, how do we scale this? Then my buddy Noah moves from Minnesota. He goes to one of the Squatch events. He’s a VC attorney, comes to the event on New Year’s Day and we hit it off.

CJ Finley: And I learned that, like, he loves sun and ice just like I do. And there’s a mobile sauna in Minnesota that we could buy. And I was like, Dude, we could buy the sauna, and then we can host for it. We can help people with retreats here in Austin and use the sauna to, like, meet new people and provide this service to brands or or businesses that don’t have access to sauna.

CJ Finley: So we ran with that idea. And then also, because he’s a VC attorney, I like to invest in other things like, Yo, this start this little fund where we’re going to invest in these other health and wellness companies and decide to what we want invest in and what we don’t. So we’ve done that. So all the dots start connecting because the sauna I can bring to other gyms and then that opens up doors to I can consult for that gym or consult for the people that are there.

CJ Finley: I mean, I’ve met clients in my sauna. Yeah, just open all these doors. But then at the at that event, I can also bring the supplements that I take that I’m also helping that company with and consulting for them. And then when it comes to the gym, it’s like we have these free community workouts where anyone that comes in the town is like, Yo, come through connect.

CJ Finley: And that fulfills like what I believe really thriving is, is just like connecting with other people and learning continuously to figure out how do I live the life that I want to live. And usually that’s like with other people. You can’t do that in a alone. Like I just stayed in my house. That’s like, that’s not life. Yeah.

CJ Finley: So another long winded answer, but like just connecting the dots for whoever is listening to this. Like, I didn’t just get here by chance. Like, I started with the personal training and then it turned into like, business consultation and then it turned into, Oh, how do I connect all the things that I love to do? I love to invest in people and businesses.

CJ Finley: I love health, wellness, fitness, nutrition. I love community events. So how can I be an emcee at those events? How can I be a trainer at those events? How can I connect people with products that I believe in at these events? How can I set myself up to be an angel investor in new companies over the next 25 years?

CJ Finley: Will All I need to do right now is right. 5 to 10 K checks into a couple of companies and like that opens some doors. Yeah, that that’s really the trajectory over now of a six year span of every year. I just ask myself how do I get closer to like making that more of like a beehive? Everything is just interconnected and supporting each other based on the things that I love to do on a daily basis.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, because like to me it sounds like as you’re going through all these different things, I’m like, Holy crap, that’s a lot of different things. Like, it sounds extremely, it sounds extremely complicated, and I feel like your head would be all over the place. You’re like you. One day you do this thing and then you remember like, Oh, I’ve got to do this to like, Oh, I’ve got to do this.

Dean Pohlman: Like, oh, this is connected to this. And then you’re like, Oh, wait, now I have a new idea that I can build off of this. And like, do you have, do you find that you have to do something to stay grounded or is that just, you know, excuse the pun, but is that just what you thrive on?

CJ Finley: I do. I have my routine that that keeps me grounded. But I think, again, it goes back to what I said earlier. It’s just knowing yourself and knowing what your specific strength is. You mentioned the word. I got to like I got to do this thing. Like there’s a saying like, I don’t have to. I get to.

Dean Pohlman: Write.

CJ Finley: I set myself up for everything that I mentioned here. Like, I don’t have to do any of it. I can just be like, Yeah, I’m done with this. So I’ve protected myself where if like I wake up tomorrow and I want to just ax something that I’m doing, I can do that if I want to, but I’m also setting myself up where I don’t I don’t take on a lot of operational load.

CJ Finley: The the most operational load that I have is my podcast. That is my baby. That is where am I YouTube channel now, which I just started this year, pretty much. So outside of that, the other things that I work on is just being very clear on what are the expectations of this business. A good example is like the sauna.

CJ Finley: From the first event we did, we had people reaching out, being like, We want to invest in you and and build more us because this is a great idea. Every week. Like literally yesterday I got texted, Hey, there’s this event Saturday. Like, can you all be there for tomorrow? And we’re not we’re not showing up. So it’s just being understanding that we why did we enter this business or enter this industry?

CJ Finley: It wasn’t to just make a ton of money with my sauna and like, blow the thing up. It was I have the choice to show up when I want to show up, where I want to show up, who I want to show up for. I don’t have to do anything When you come at it like that and you have that mental framework like it’s you don’t get overwhelmed because you’re in control.

CJ Finley: They don’t control me. I took years to like, get to.

Dean Pohlman: That’s my question. Like, is that something that was like natural for you or is that something that like, like, you know, I’m just again, making an assumption here, but like, it sounds to me like the big transformative like shift for you happened when you wrote your letter to Aaron and said, Hey, I want to come visit you. And then that got the ball rolling on, okay, I can do things differently.

Dean Pohlman: And yeah, for me, like the the I have to verse I get to, you know, that’s something we talk about this a lot on this on this podcast but like there’s an idea of logically understanding a concept versus actually internalizing it and emotion having like an emotional and like a deep rooted internal understanding of that belief. Like there’s a big difference.

Dean Pohlman: And so like, I understand, I have to verse I get to, but how did you get to the point where you looked at, you know, everything you did? And I don’t know if you do everything that you do does that, but like, how did you get to the point where the I have two verses I get to and I get to started being the predominant way of looking at things.

CJ Finley: Failing my to be extremely transparent. I was failing at doing that and I was all over the place before we got married. My wife ended up like throwing her ring at me because she was just like, You can’t like, this is not what I’m signing up for. Like, I would I would be at networking events every night of the week and on weekends I’d be running fitness classes and going to happy hours and doing everything I thought was okay.

CJ Finley: I’m I’m on the path to being a successful entrepreneur and like, providing for my my future wife and future kids. And the reality was she didn’t give a shit about any of that. She just wanted my time. She just she just wanted me to be fulfilled with what I was doing, to be honest with that fulfillment and then understand that this is a partnership and there’s a cost to you working on the things that you’re working on.

CJ Finley: So you have to be a lot more calculated on What are you working on, who are you working on it with and what time is it taking from you? Because if it’s taking time from us, then that’s a problem. So I had to reevaluate. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the video where it has like the jar with the rocks in the sand, like the big rocks, the small.

CJ Finley: Yeah. So I, I really just had to do that and be like what are my big rocks? And it’s like, if anything, it takes me away from my wife, then I have to be very calculated on is this worth doing? And then also I think the get too comes into being willing to adapt to change. So like I just had a child.

CJ Finley: So going into this year, like I built a podcast studio into my house because I was like, I can’t afford to be driving a ton of places. Like I used to because I want to spend more time with my wife and my son. How do I do that? How do I how do I make and mold my life to be optimal for me?

CJ Finley: I built a gym into my garage. I put a sauna in my backyard. I did all these things so that I’m optimizing for the right thing. And that’s what keeps me going. The business is like, I get to do these things because really I don’t have to. I just don’t have to do them. And I think other people come at it from the opposite way.

CJ Finley: They they go into that or they take on these things that they don’t necessarily need to take on and they pigeonhole themselves where they some of them some people do have to do some of the things that they do, they have to do because they just haven’t thought through that. So I think just by nature of like failing my way forward and learning from those sailors and reevaluating what actually matters, that’s where like years down the road now I’m able to come out I get to rather than I have to.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. So I’m kind of curious. So, you know, as you’re doing all this networking, as you’re going to all these weekend events, did you find that that that, that those activities that those things do that you thought that you were doing because you needed to do them because you saw like that’s what Entrepreneur World says we have to do is we have to go network and we have to be constantly putting our, you know, you know, out there happy hours, all this stuff.

Dean Pohlman: Did you find that that was helping significantly or did you find that you had more success when you stop doing that and focusing on things that were like more important or that you thought were more valuable for your time?

CJ Finley: So that was one. That’s a great question. I, I don’t think there’s a right answer to this. I think there’s only you’re right answer in your right way. For me, it I still kept I did like instead of being 8020 of like I’m doing all these things and then 20% of my time is going into my personal life and in my family, I flipped the 8020 and I still sign up for things.

CJ Finley: I’m just more conscious of what I sign up for and why. And one of the things I have for people to help with this is just like I had to forgo the things I like to really understand the things I love and only stick to the things that I love to do right rather than I think a lot of people.

CJ Finley: And so I was like, Oh, I like going to this event, but it’s like, if you had to pay $500, would you still go that? Those are the questions that I started to ask myself. And some of these events, some of these retreats, I would say I would pay to be there. So I’m bringing myself out of there.

CJ Finley: And if that means that I’m gone for the whole day and I have to make up that time with my wife and my child, so be it. That’s what I have to do. AM I going to do that every single day of the week or four weekends out of the month? No, I’m never going to have to pit myself like, okay, now I only get to choose one.

CJ Finley: So just being more selective, so for me it looked like that. But if there is anybody starting something, you need to be everywhere in everywhere, anywhere. Like I, I just think that’s invaluable to meet as many people as possible in your specific industry within reason, and then start dialing down like, okay, how do I be valuable to the people that I’ve met?

CJ Finley: So you see how I switched it from. I’m not trying to get anything out of anybody like I never was. So when I networked it was, how do I meet people that I can help? So I started with going to as many gyms and taking as many fitness classes and going to entrepreneurial meetups and just meeting as many people as possible.

CJ Finley: And then when when I’d leave, I’d send emails being like, I think I can help you on this. I think I can help you here, like for free. I just want to help. Here’s how. And then I started dialing into, okay, where do I really want to help? What am I really skilled at? What is worth both of our time?

CJ Finley: And that’s that’s where I just got more selective in that process. Part of the reason I got more selective was I was failing at home in my home. So that kind of forced that reflection are like, okay, I need to be more selective. And these days I’m very selective of my time and who gets my time and yeah, that’s kind of how I went about it.

Dean Pohlman: Got it. Yes. So just rephrasing it another way of saying like you’ve probably heard of the phrase like it’s either like hell yes or no. Like, that’s that’s one way to think of it. Or, or there’s a book called Good to Great when you know there’s a whole the whole concept is it’s a business focused book, but you know, the overall concept is like good gets in the way of great.

Dean Pohlman: So like, you’ve got to get rid of like the things that are like just okay and focus on the things that are like, you know, amazing. I know for me, I used to say yes to everything. I still say yes to too many things. But now when I get an email from somebody, if I don’t immediately feel like this, this feeling in my gut that says, like, this is awesome, let’s do it.

Dean Pohlman: I’m just like, I either delete or I like forwarded on to help my help desk. I’m like, No, because there’s too many. There’s there’s, there’s too many things. I remember my dad also used to like, he would send me he would send me news articles like AD and they’re doing like you’re doing like beer yoga downtown tonight in Cleveland.

Dean Pohlman: And like, this is a business opportunity. I’m like, No, that’s a business distraction. That’s just like there’s so many opportunities. So, like.

CJ Finley: I, I love that. And it I think that comes from a place of lack like people get distracted because they’re coming from a place of lack, like I’m lacking something. So I’m going to go to this thing because I feel like it could potentially get me something I don’t have yet. That’s one side of it. And then the other side of it is I sort of ask myself like, what’s a great day?

CJ Finley: Like, what am I what what more do I need in my day? That would really change my life? And what I’m saying, like, I already have everything I need. I have good people. I work out every day. I’m in the sun every day, like I eat dinner with my wife every single day. I just want this day for the rest of my life.

CJ Finley: And yeah, I want to travel a little bit more. I want to do there’s something that are on my goals list that personally I want to hit. I want to run an ultramarathon. So that means I got to run a little bit more. But once you start asking like, what does a great day look like? And nine out of ten people, like as long as you got got some clarity on where you want to go in life.

CJ Finley: Most people are going to say, I have a lot of what I already need and that almost like breaks the chains for them. They stop like saying yes to things and chasing things because they realize like, I don’t need to be anywhere but where my feet are right now.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah. So, like, I wanted to go back to where you were when your wife through your ring at you. And I wanted to ask, what did that, what did that you lacking in, you know, home life performance look like?

CJ Finley: Yeah. I mean, imagine your whole life being in love with somebody. So I loved Erin, like I loved her or how hard she worked, who she was, how kind she was. I felt like a better me when I was around her. Every given moment.

Dean Pohlman: Mm.

CJ Finley: Then imagine, Wow, this dream comes to reality. Like I’m living with this person. She literally is every day making me a better person. And then you wake up one day and that person is looking at you unhappy and you’re just distraught. Yeah, that was my life. It. It I had lost myself again. And I worked so hard to find a new me.

CJ Finley: And I got to this point where I was an entrepreneur and she yeah, just like we had a couple hard conversations. And I remember, like, we’re not we don’t we bicker, but we don’t like, fight and I we’re not like that. But there was a couple of times where it was just like I just walked out of the room and was like, This reminds me of my past with other people and like, this is not us.

CJ Finley: And the difference between me, with Erin and me in the past was I started blaming myself rather than the other person. I started saying like, This is not who Erin is. Like, I’m the one who brought this on her and something needs to make a change. What that looked like was I really just wasn’t setting boundaries. It was I didn’t communicate.

CJ Finley: I would say the overlying theme was communication. These days, I communicate with her like, here’s even in business, it’s like, here’s what I’m thinking about doing with these four businesses that I’m working with. Are these four people. What do you think?

Dean Pohlman: Hmm?

CJ Finley: Just that communication line right there. If you if you’re married or if you’re in a relationship, just that right there is going to strengthen your relationship. Hey, here’s what here’s what my day looks like. Here’s some of the things I thought about. You’re some of the problems that came about here, some of the feelings I had, like, what do you think?

CJ Finley: And just listening more versus what it used to look like. Dean would reach out to me and be like, Yo, dude, there’s this yoga event going on. Like, I think it would be great for you to be there. You can bring this or connect with this person immediately. I’d be like, Dude, I’m there. Just send me the address.

CJ Finley: Like right away. That was my response versus today. You would send that to me and then I would sit back and I would think, like, Why does this align with my day? Like with this make this day great on top of like, I already have my great day because I set it up that way with this, amplify that to what does it cost, what does it taking away?

CJ Finley: So if I can’t eat dinner with Erin tonight, what’s the cost of that?

Dean Pohlman: Mm.

CJ Finley: Or I could flip it into. Hey, babe, like here I got invited to this thing. What do you think about this? Do you think that I should attend this? Are you doing anything else tonight? So I started introducing her into the conversation of what my life looked like and what my great day looks like. And that transforms my relationship.

CJ Finley: Like, almost within six months, we were like we were at our worst to. Oh, my God, this is again, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And things are just rolling. And we got married and ever since then it’s been we’re just getting stronger and stronger because we’re willing to have this tough conversations. And a lot of it stems from me opening up, communicating, telling her what I’m struggling with and and why I’m struggling with it and getting her advice.

CJ Finley: Before that, I was just so headstrong and on doing it my way. And I’m going a million miles a minute.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, yeah. I found that. I find that having the tough conversations has been what’s probably like the hardest things to do. And they’re so uncomfortable when you’re approaching them and then as you’re going through them. But afterwards, it just feels so much better. Like it feels like the more you have those conversations and you can kind of tell, you know, in your partnership, if you haven’t had the conversation that you need to, it just feels like there’s there’s like this unspoken wall that’s just like up and you’re talking about other things, but you’re like, I don’t really feel connected to you right now.

Dean Pohlman: Like something’s getting in the way. And it’s not until you have that tough conversation and you get through it and you’re like, okay, like now I see you and you’re looking back at me and like, and there’s nothing in between us anymore. So like, I just saw that.

CJ Finley: Yeah, she just wanted to be a part of my life. Like I wasn’t making her a part of it. It was like she went to she was in grad school and she put her career on hold to go to grad school. And then I’m starting this new career path, and she was just getting drug along with me rather than, like, included.

CJ Finley: And I was failing miserably at being inclusive. But I gave myself grades because I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Like, I like the whole like opening up to somebody and being in a relationship and being vulnerable. Like that was the start of it for me.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah, I imagine that. And I wanted to touch on this because I would imagine that being in a partnership with someone like your spouse, like Erin, whose job is I mean, I’m assuming just being in the world that she is in if her handle is Erin inspiration Dot Fitness, that she’s different from. Probably most girls out there in terms of behavior, in terms of how they look at problems, in terms of, you know, accepting personal responsibility versus not.

Dean Pohlman: I mean, I just think there’s a lot of differences between, you know, I think there’s a lot of difference between differences between men and women. But I think that women who have kind of had the exposure, more exposure to the self-development world, I think they’re pretty different from most women. So I’m just kind of curious, like, have you that in her?

Dean Pohlman: Does it does it, does it what changes does that make in your relationship? I don’t know even know if that’s like.

CJ Finley: I mean, I’ve noticed that since I’ve noticed that since we were a little kid. Like she’s just next level. She graduated third in our class. She was a dancer. She danced in college. She was a bio chemical engineer. She still worked. She got one, got our MBA. And she’s the fittest. She’s the fittest woman that I’ve I’ve ever seen and hung around.

CJ Finley: And I don’t mean in a in terms of like.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, certainly lifting at 40 weeks pregnant thousands. Yeah.

CJ Finley: Like, like, like nobody’s business. Like, it’s just it’s just another day. Yeah, she is just, I just call her a machine. She just wakes up and is so disciplined in her reality. Ever since we were a kid, it was like that. But we balance each other out because I’m. I’m very, like, unorthodox and quirky and like, extroverted and an adrenaline junkie, and she balances me out because she’s like, okay, let’s be a little bit more calculated here.

CJ Finley: Let’s let’s be a little bit more disciplined. Let’s let’s think before we speak a little bit. And so we we balance each other in that way. But in terms of who she is as a woman, like since we were little kids, she just does the right thing when nobody’s watching at all times. And I really value that with her because growing up I saw a lot of my friends be the exact opposite of that, and I teetered on the line all the time.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

CJ Finley: And when I was thinking about the man that I want to be, comments like, I want to do the right thing and all moments I’m going to slip up, I’m going to fail. We all will. But I want to be in a relationship with somebody that is grounded in this is who we are and who we show up as regardless of the external circumstances.

CJ Finley: And she’s always been that way, whether it’s fitness, her career or relationship. And I just fall in love with it every day. It’s just something that literally holds me to a higher standard and I can’t get away with anything. And I like that. A lot of other guys I think would be intimidated by it. Yeah, but I frickin love it.

CJ Finley: It forces me to to sharpen my sword every single day.

Dean Pohlman: Well, I think it’s one of those it’s it’s one of those short term, long term benefit things like, yeah, it’s like short term. It’s nice to get away with something and it’s uncomfortable to be caught in like held accountable. But long term, you’re going to feel a lot better when you are are being held accountable or you are having, you know, a standard to hold herself to and you’re doing it.

CJ Finley: So I can give you like a very clear example. A paradox of us too, is just like in college, she went to UPenn and I went and visited with my friends. We were partying and me and my buddies just like got hammered and like I broke a ceiling at the bar, accidentally broke a mirror in her room and in her roommate’s room.

CJ Finley: Had to pay for that. And Erin, like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her to have more than two drinks. It’s always been calm, cool and collected. And I was just this like. Like, what am I doing? Kind of guy? Always goodhearted, though. Like I was bunch of fun. So we’re my friends, but just like, where is this dude going?

CJ Finley: And now I’m. I’m going on 20 months sober and her her motivating me to really reflect on the things that have been holding me back and and why they’ve held me back just by being herself. Like she she was never coerced into. We’re going out to a party. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t party. It just means that she’s not going to get tricked into being somebody that she’s not.

CJ Finley: And it just it’s so invaluable to have a person that is strong like that, especially like you, you bring kids into the equation. So it’s been a hell of a journey with her. And I’m just so blessed and grateful that she’s she’s helped me along the way and has allowed me to be remain who I am in many instances, but held me accountable to to being a better me.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, that’s awesome. Really quick, can you 5 minutes or you got a pop?

CJ Finley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dean Pohlman: Cool. All right.

CJ Finley: I pushed my next thing for 30 more minutes.

Dean Pohlman: All right? This is me waving to the camera. Say, cut, cut. All right, so I wanted to jump back to you know, you started a lot of businesses. You kind of help develop concepts for businesses or got them kind of, you know, got the got the structure in place, so to speak. And even if you’re not an entrepreneur and you don’t start businesses, I’m I think that getting clear on some of the process for establishing that structure and establishing the things that you and you don’t want to do is important for all aspects of life.

Dean Pohlman: And I’m curious about like what are some commonalities in those businesses that you developed that have enabled people to have a more fulfilling life versus being, you know, controlled by their career.

CJ Finley: Comes to, to, I think three things. Um, one, I’m obsessed with systems. I went to school for systems engineering.

Dean Pohlman: And yet you see my commonly scarily smart. So that makes sense.

CJ Finley: I appreciate that. I just curious I’m just a curious person. There’s a like I don’t I’m not a rocket scientist and have the highest IQ out there, but I’m not afraid to fail.

Dean Pohlman: You could and I would. You just to could be school.

CJ Finley: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I love I love that answer. I’m not because I choose not to be there. But I will say what my what a what I greatest strength is just like connecting dots and like being willing to explore and fail and just keep going. I just don’t care what what people think, and I’m just going to whatever.

CJ Finley: I’m curious. I’m just going to put it out in the world and and learn from it. And that’s where I learned over the years that from that first job, I got to getting into entrepreneurship, to building different things that people that number one system is people. And you are who you surround yourself with. So if you can change your your environment to be around people that are uplifting and are giving and are servant leaders, I think that’s a great word which like people that are are leaders, not because they want to see you’re the captain captain’s man, but because they want their team to be better.

CJ Finley: They know that the team is a reflection of themselves and vice versa. And I fell in love with how do I surround myself with the greatest people on earth? That’s really what keeps me here in Austin. I have a lot of great people around my wife and I, and like people have asked me like, what am I excited most about bringing my son into the world?

CJ Finley: And my number one response is like, he gets to meet so many cool people in the first couple of years of his life. They’re just going to give him such good energy the next is database, so any person, whether you’re starting a business or you’re not, you need to be organized in your file management system. That’s what I mean by database.

CJ Finley: So from collecting your taxes to I’m a big content guy, where’s my content sitting? If you’re if you’re my wife, she has a work phone and a regular phone and a work laptop and a regular laptop. Having a system of organization of like where are things being stored? Why are they being stored there and just decluttering your life?

CJ Finley: I’m obsessed with like making sure that everything has a bucket and I know where where to go when I need that. And then the last thing is project management, if you follow these two things. So like people trying to say, Well, great people, you’re organized in your approach to how you collect files, no matter if it’s your personal life or your business, and then you have some sort of project management system.

CJ Finley: So like I use click up where I’m not guessing when I go into every day. So going back to the question of like, how do I not be overwhelmed? I know what I need to get done on every single day, and that’s based on what I need to get done this year. And I just reverse engineer it down, but I put it on click up and I say, ask myself, do I need to do this?

CJ Finley: Or someone else can do this? And I just ask myself that all the time. And once you do that and you see it on paper, a lot of the times like 80% of the time, somebody else can do it. You probably have the money, you probably have the connection, you probably have the resources to make it happen from somebody other than you build that system, have it in a project management.

CJ Finley: You could do Trello, you can do click up, you can do Mondaq.com. There’s a million out there. Having a system is better than no system. I don’t really care what technology is. If you follow those three, whether it’s business or if it’s your personal life, you’re going to be the 1% regardless because 99% of people aren’t doing any of what I just said.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah. Mm hmm. And if you don’t do that, well, find someone else who does it. Well.

CJ Finley: That’s right there. That is the goal. That is the golden ticket is you don’t have like I said, I’m not a rocket scientist. But to Dean’s point, if I were to become a rocket scientist, the way that I think that’s different than most people is most people would be like they would go and get a right rocket scientist book and start reading about being a rocket scientist.

CJ Finley: The first thing I would do is I would Google who were the rocket scientists in my area, and I would say, you want to be on a podcast, You want to have a coffee, you want to like, What can I do to help? I’m thinking like, let’s grab a coffee. What can I do to serve that person? Okay, I can write a blog about them.

CJ Finley: I can write more traffic. Like what? What did they going back to the servant leadership aspect. But that’s where you hit the nail on the head with no matter what you want to be. If you don’t do the things well, that’s okay. I think that’s something that people struggle with. Like there’s a million things I don’t do well, but when I don’t do them all, I just find I find common connections and common threads with people that if they do do it well, how can I serve them and then learn from them?

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah. All right. Well, I want to move on to I want to move on to kind of part two of this, which is where I ask questions about you and and practices that you found to be helpful in your life. I ask these questions at the end of every interview that I do. And. Yeah, Are you ready?

CJ Finley: Let’s go.

Dean Pohlman: Corbett. All right. What do you think is one habit, belief or mindset that has helped you the most in terms of your overall happiness?

CJ Finley: Oh, that’s a loaded question. I put it 2 to 1, as.

Dean Pohlman: I said, one instead of the one that used to be way harder.

CJ Finley: I think. So at 18, I got a tattoo on my rib cage. My first tattoo says, Never give up. The one thing that transforms anything you do in life is your mindset. And I refuse to give up when things get hard. And I think that is what separates me, whether it’s business or personal or relationships. I’ll have the hard conversation.

CJ Finley: I’ll sign up to do the hard thing. Even when I’m not feeling my greatest. I will show up and get my 110% and that’s just somebody I’ve always been. My parents raised me to be that, and it’s tattooed on my rib cage for me to see every single morning.

Dean Pohlman: And what’s one thing you do for your health and wellness that you think is overlooked or undervalued by other others?

CJ Finley: I frequently get my blood work done. How frequently I refuse to put things in my body that I don’t know what they’re doing to my body. So I. I get my blood work done every 3 to 6 months and see what variables are there and then decide what supplements I need and lifestyle I need to optimize my blood.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm. Okay. What is the most important activity you do for your overall stress management?

CJ Finley: Sauna and ice.

Dean Pohlman: Sauna. Nice. You wouldn’t believe how many people say sauna. And now ice is getting more popular.

CJ Finley: So I. A sauna is my love. I just love sauna because you can do it with other people when you have great conversations. The ice, I think. Oh, yeah, look at that. Go. Oh, yeah, Yes.

Dean Pohlman: I just showed a picture of my sauna. That’s what we’re talking about. If you’re listening to this version.

CJ Finley: Yeah, that. That’s badass. The ice though, I think has it’s a quicker mental help. Mm hmm. Like 2 to 3 minutes. And just like, you’re. You’re calm, cool, and collected. Yeah.

Dean Pohlman: You don’t get in the ice and think like, Oh, man, there’s things that I’m worried about today. You get it, and you’re like, I’m dying. I’m dying. This is the end of me. If I don’t focus on my breathing right now, I will die. Yeah. So, yeah, I got a cold plunge a few months ago, and I’m very happy with it.

Dean Pohlman: It is. It is. It is. What I like about it is. It’s quick, right? Like a sauna. You’ve got to stay in there for like, you got to stay in at least, like 20 minutes until you’re like, okay, now I’m.

CJ Finley: Telling you to the my sauna did.

Dean Pohlman: Oh, yeah, you’ve got the that’s great.

CJ Finley: I’d like to crank it. It’s like, oh.

Dean Pohlman: Send me, send me an invite because yeah, you’re.

CJ Finley: You’re correct on that one. It’s very it’s a quick fix and I like it for that.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. All right. What is the most stressful part of your day to day life?

CJ Finley: Not enough time in a day. There’s so many things I want to do and so many things that I want to help other people do. And there’s just never enough time Do it.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing men and their wellbeing right now?

CJ Finley: Or talk about a great question. It fits not understanding, just not understanding what a man actually is. There’s no there’s no role models for what a great man is. And that’s creating so many lost men including myself. Prior.

Dean Pohlman: Mhm.

CJ Finley: There’s just I didn’t look up to anybody and that’s a really big problem.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah.

CJ Finley: That’s why we got to solve it. We got to be those men.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah I agree with that. And some. Yeah. I have a lot of thoughts on that but this is my time to share them. This is your time to share them.

CJ Finley: So I mean I don’t with these, I don’t know are these quick answers or like.

Dean Pohlman: You can go into it and go in depth. Yeah. I’d love to hear, I’d love to hear more personally. And if I’d love to hear more, that means that somebody else out there would probably like to hear more.

CJ Finley: Yeah, it’s just we glamorize the fast ness of life. Like get the followers trying, get the girls, get the cars. None of that. None of that tells me that you’re a great man or that you’re going to be a great man. Like what tells me that you’re going to be a great man is how do you handle problems?

CJ Finley: Do you own them or do they own you? Do you point fingers or do you point the finger at yourself? In times of scarcity, when the world is crumbling, who do you show up as? Are you principled? Do you have morals? Do you have a compass that says, okay, I’m not always going to be my best, but I’m going to point my arrow in the in the direction of trying to be my best?

CJ Finley: And then when I’m reflecting myself on other people, I give them grace. I have high standards, but I’m also willing to be vulnerable and ask questions and listen and forgive. I think I think a really strong man is able to forgive, and that’s something that I didn’t see in my life, really. People struggle to realize how small we are and how this all can be taken from us at any given moment.

CJ Finley: And when you realize that, it’s just like, why am I holding this grudge on this person? Why am I thinking about this scenario in my head that happened in my past and these things? A strong man is able to just get that out of his head and forgive that person in that scenario and many times forgive himself and move forward.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean.

CJ Finley: We don’t have that is not being taught anywhere.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. I mean, it’s the whole. Right. The whole softer side of men is just like the forgiveness grace. Not like being a hard ass, Right? That’s the whole side of men that we don’t know about, that we don’t idolize. That is, I think, holding us back.

CJ Finley: So, yeah, but also to that point that Jordan Peterson has a saying, it’s like he talks about like being able to to to stand up for yourself, like be able to kill but like, yeah, be a killer. But like, I forget what he said, but the thing that makes me think of is the quote like you’d rather be a warrior in a garden.

CJ Finley: Yeah. Gardener at war And like, yeah, that’s where it’s like, I want to be this conscious man who is vulnerable. But at any given time, like, if I need to run 100 miles, I’m going to be able to run a hundred miles. I need to, like, lift some weight and move some weight and and help somebody or help my neighbor.

CJ Finley: I can do it.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. And I think the reason why I don’t talk about that as much is because I’ve already heard that, like, that’s what we’ve all heard. We we’ve all heard like, be a man, be strong, be fierce. You know, like do do what needs to be done and don’t complain while doing it. And I think that’s important. But like, I also think that, you know, the other side of it is not being considered at all.

Dean Pohlman: So that’s why I that’s why I like.

CJ Finley: But here’s here’s a rebuttal to that. We were born in a day in an age where you still saw some of that. I’m like like if you’re ten years old right now, like, I guess your parents are like 40 and 50.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

CJ Finley: Like, there are those men I would say are a lot weaker. They’ve had phones and the internet and desk jobs and like, but. And my weaker like, I don’t necessarily think that they’re pushing on their kids like, be as strong man. I think they’re like pushing phones on their kids and like pushing distraction and pushing lack of focus and pushing like pointing fingers.

CJ Finley: And so I guess that’s not necessarily a rebuttal, but it’s just like I’m I’m fearful. I don’t like the word fearful. I’m questioning the future of our world because we have this disconnect of like what I saw, what a man should be, where there’s a lot of negative, toxic ways of that of like, but I saw like hard work and all those things.

CJ Finley: But then I what I lacked in seeing was vulnerability and communication and only hear your problems and acknowledging that you’re part of the problem. But then kids nowadays, it’s like they’re so with the world and it’s become more of a victim mentality rather than like, I don’t even know, like if it’d be a great question to ask a roomful of 10 to 15 year old boys like what is a man to you?

Dean Pohlman: Right. Right. Because they’re not getting the messages that we received when we were kids. Like they’re getting the the new messages, right?

CJ Finley: Yeah. Which I don’t know. I don’t know what they don’t know. I don’t know what they are. Yeah. I only know what my life was like and like, what my parents, I assume what their parents with what their life was like under their parents because I had relationships to my grandparents. So you can kind of see that. But kids that are like 10 to 15, 20 year olds right now, like they lived in a different paradigm than we lived in.

CJ Finley: And who.

Dean Pohlman: Knows what will we’ll find out in like 10 to 20 years and it’ll probably be okay.

CJ Finley: I believe, Right. I’m an optimist. So yeah. So everything’s going to be all right. It’s just we’re we’re talking about problems. Like if you could fix the world, one of them I or if you could help people. It’s like guiding, guiding young boys into. Into being men that they’re proud of and and building a better world.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah. Recognizing like, there’s no one type of man that we can be proud that you have to, you know, work towards. But like having a general set of principles or having like a a few different archetypes or a few different avatar hero men to choose from, you’re like, This is a good way to strive for it. This is a good one to strive for.

Dean Pohlman: But don’t be like this guy. This guy’s me. This guy’s a dick. Don’t be like that. So one thing that we’ve explored on this podcast is a lot is this idea of clarity, how getting more clarity is what leads us to, you know, just living a better life, being better humans in general. And it seems like to me that you’ve asked yourself a lot of those questions to help get to that clarity necessary to to taking the actions that you need to create a life that you love or create a life that you thrive on water with like three or five questions that we haven’t already talked about that people can ask themselves to find

Dean Pohlman: that clarity.

CJ Finley: Okay, So I’m going to who who’s the general listener to your show?

Dean Pohlman: Our guys are, mostly guys in their fifties. It’s like the average range guys, forties, 5060s, seventies, mostly, you know, established guys combination of both dads and non dads. Okay, So.

CJ Finley: That gives me a good enough answer. People that have life experience, enough life experience where, okay, if, if I’m, if I’m of that mindset and I’m looking for more clarity in my life really the things that I think don’t get enough, like we don’t turn the rock over enough is we.

Dean Pohlman: All.

CJ Finley: Most people, and if they’re listening to this podcast, they want to be great. And we know what we probably should be doing to be great.

Dean Pohlman: Mhm.

CJ Finley: But we’re not doing those things. So the question you need to ask is one, why am I stopping myself from being great? We all are stopping ourselves in some way. Even the greatest, even Michael Jordan, he could pinpoint in the years that he lost the championship or the years he didn’t make it a championship but he could pinpoint like what I wasn’t doing or what I wasn’t willing to do this year that I’m going to do next year.

CJ Finley: So whoever you are right now, what are you you been not willing to do that? You know, only, you know, you need to turn that switch on to do. Part two of that is okay. You sift through that question. What Am I what? I have not been willing to do that I really need to do. Part two is who or what is going to hold me accountable to doing that.

CJ Finley: Because if I haven’t been doing it up to this point, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So if I haven’t been doing it there’s a reason and one of the main reasons probably is like you’re either not enough pain to do it or you haven’t built the system to do it.

CJ Finley: And the best system is, okay, I’m going to pay somebody, whether it’s a coach, a consultant, a family member, to literally just hold me accountable to the same that I say I’m not willing to do.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

CJ Finley: Part three of that is. Okay, let’s go through that. You just noted down the things you’re not one to do. You had you hired the person that’s going to hold you accountable if you’re doing those things. The thing that I do on a frequent is every quarter or every six months asking myself, Is this something I need to keep doing?

CJ Finley: Or I need to drop it. So if you read the book Essentialism.

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm.

CJ Finley: Most people, they do things, and then because they’ve done them for so long, they just keep doing them because of the sunk cost fallacy. So if you’re 40 or 50 or 60 and you’ve been doing things a certain way for 20 years, that doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it that way, especially with new things that you’re trying.

CJ Finley: So with the businesses that I work on, we go about it in the same way. It’s like, what are? What have we not been willing to do that We just need to hunker down and do? How are we going to hold ourselves accountable to it? And then what point are we going to interject and say, you know what, this project worked or, you know what, we need to just scrap it and then lean into what else do we need to do?

CJ Finley: And you need to have a cycle of doing that over and over and over again. And if you’re just completely honest with yourself in this area and you take everything that we’ve talked about prior to this, you’re going to have a fulfilling life because. It really comes from doing the things that we say we’re going to do and we get stressed in our mind and our soul.

CJ Finley: We know deep down we should be doing these things, but we’re not doing them. That’s what creates the most stress. But I thrive and I thrive on life when I’m like, Yeah, I’m going to do my work out that I check, I’m going to run today, check. I’m going to be the best husband possible in these five ways.

CJ Finley: Check. I’m going to cook my wife dinner. Check. What am I not willing to do? I’m not willing. Like a good example is I need to reach out to podcast sponsors or things like that. Things that are like boring but need to get done because they move the needle forward. So then I’m like, want to hold myself accountable to it?

CJ Finley: While we started a podcast meetup group that in the podcast Meetup group was like, okay, everyone coming back to this next phase, the next meeting, you have to tell a story on who you reached out to and what did they say? You got to have proof. So I’m not just preaching here like I fucking do this and it works.

CJ Finley: And I reached out to a couple of companies and guess what? Started a couple of conversations and now we’re in talks and just do that over and over and over again in your life just becomes more fulfilling. I was like, Damn, I knew I needed to do this, held myself accountable to doing it. I did it. I feel really fulfilled now, six months down the road.

CJ Finley: I’m just going to do the same thing over. I’m going to reflect back. Do I need to still do the same things or do I need to iterate?

Dean Pohlman: Mm hmm. Yeah, I that’s great. I think. Yeah. Because we do get we get on autopilot with things, right? We don’t really think about whether or not to do them. We’re just we’re doing them. I think most of what we do is subconscious behavior anyway. So like, it’s just automated behaviors, so that makes a lot.

CJ Finley: Here’s a great one on automated behaviors. If you are driving to a job and you’ve always driven like 20 minutes, 30 minutes, is your life worth your commute? Are you willing to die for your job because Statistically, like if you’re listening to Google, the chances of getting a car accident every single time that you get in your car is very high.

Dean Pohlman: Hmm.

CJ Finley: Is your life worth driving to that job every day? And if it’s not, you have to change something in your life. Well, that’s autopilot right there. You don’t to people on autopilot. I got to drive to my job. Is it worth your life now? If it is, Yes. Like a lot of things I do, I’m like, Yeah, fuck, yeah.

CJ Finley: It’s like this is what I love to.

Dean Pohlman: Do.

CJ Finley: Is my calling. So I need to be doing I don’t want to be anywhere else and you have to change it today. But I would, I would know the answer to that question. And some of these things that we’re talking about.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, I’m okay. I got to ponder whether or not the commute is worth filming. Yes. Yes, it’s worth it. I think maybe I could drive a little more carefully, but. Yeah. All right. And in the last question I did wanted to ask you before kind of moving on, part two is what have you helped people to do with Thrive?

Dean Pohlman: What are some what do you help people to do but thrive on it? What are some of the processes that you use to help clients to to get those aforementioned results?

CJ Finley: Well, I think in its simplest form it’s when you’re thinking about everything we talked about here today, I help bring them clarity on what type of life that they want to live, what is a thriving life, looked for them. And then I just help build the built a systems to get to that point. I’m no bullshit. It’s very direct.

CJ Finley: It’s okay, here’s your goals. Here’s what you need to be willing to do your goals. Are you willing to do it? Here’s how you be accountable to doing that. What that looks like practically is like if your business like health businesses make a lot more money, help them scale and hire new employees. If it’s individuals, it’s anywhere from like helping them lose weight or I help people.

CJ Finley: I’ve helped people literally get more from their jobs, meaning more higher salaries just by simply asking how you this is how you need to go into your job and ask for more and why and here’s how you structure that when it comes to content and systems like that, producing content at scale for different companies. Most companies, they operate under the assumption it’s just like I’m means content expensive and I don’t know who do we reach out to and things like that.

CJ Finley: Like and then you teach them about UGC. You just generated content, affiliate, affiliate marketing, leveraging your customers in a great way, like your customers want to be your ambassadors, incentivize them, talk to them, build relationships with them. So it’s just like everything else. It’s a little bit of a lot. But like thrive on life today, what it exists is just so it’s like super clear for people is like, I have the thrive on my podcast and my number one goal is to connect like minded people through my podcast.

CJ Finley: So if I have a guest on my podcast, my goal is for them to share a story where somebody else reaches out to them and is like, Hey, like I think that we could be valuable to each other. And then I don’t have to. I don’t even have to know about it. I just know that I’m kind of this just the super connector that’s connecting people and solving the world’s problems.

CJ Finley: And all I’m doing is having a conversation to open up a relationship, to start. That’s really what it’s dialed into today.

Dean Pohlman: Okay, cool. I hope that.

CJ Finley: Answers the question.

Dean Pohlman: Yeah, No, that does. Thank you. Awesome, man. Well, thanks for answering those questions. I want to thank you for coming on the Better Man podcast. I a lot out of this conversation, particularly in some questions that I can ask myself and help to create more clarity in my life and hopefully if you listen to this, hopefully those are questions that you can ask to yourself in your own life and and hopefully come out of this and improve some things.

Dean Pohlman: So, yeah, C.J., thanks lot.

CJ Finley: Yeah, Thank you. Dean. It’s it’s been a pleasure to chat with you. And I really love doing this. And podcasting is something that I pretty much say, yes, to every person that reaches out to be on a show and to talk about something that I’m very passionate about being a better man and how can I personally be a better man?

CJ Finley: The conversation opened up some doors. The things that I need to continue to ask myself, and if anybody listen to this new game value from this, please reach out or share it with somebody you think had also gained value from it.

Dean Pohlman: And what’s the best way for people to follow what you’re doing and just learn, you know, see what you do?

CJ Finley: Best way is at C.J Dot Finley Fire in L.A. Why on Instagram? In that account, you’re to see everything else that I’m working on.

Dean Pohlman: Okay, Sweet. All right, man. Well, thanks again, guys. I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. I hope it inspires you to be a better man. And I’ll see you on the next episode.


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