Coaching For Impact: Applying Knowledge w/ Dr. John Berardi & Marcus Filly

Are you in the online coaching space? If so, get your notebook out.. This is such a special conversation that I was honored to be apart of. Two titans of the fitness and nutrition coaching industry, who I’ve looked up to and learned so much from over the years.

Marcus Filly pursued a collegiate soccer career at UC Berkeley, where he discovered his passion for what strength training can truly do. He has competed at the Crossfit Games 3x as an Individual and 3x in the Team division. He was also the captain of Phoenix Rise, the GRID league champions of 2016. Marcus is the founder of Functional Bodybuilding. Check out his work here.

Dr. John Berardi is the co-founder of Precision Nutrition, and is a trained exercise physiologist and nutritional biochemist. He’s the co-developer of Precision Nutrition Coaching, and has helped more than 100,000 people in 100+ countries change habits and reach their health and fitness goals. He’s coached hundreds of amateur and professional athletes who, between 2006 and 2012, collected more than 30 medals, including 15 golds.

Dr. Berardi has authored or coauthored more than half a dozen nutrition books, including Scrawny to Brawny (2005), Metabolism Advantage (2006), The Precision Nutrition System (2007), Gourmet Nutrition (2008), The Essentials of
Sport and Exercise Nutrition (2009), The Essentials of Nutrition and Coaching (2019), and Changemaker (2019).

Dr. Berardi’s research and expertise covers a wide range of disciplines from online coaching to probiotics and mood. For the last 25 years, he’s traveled the world to teach the latest in health, fitness, and nutrition science at hundreds of conferences. He serves as an advisor to Apple, Equinox, Nike, and Titleist.

Also available here:

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    Podcast Transcript for Part Two:

    Misbah (00:11):

    Hi, this is Misbah Haque. Welcome to the Look Good Move Well podcast, where you can get fresh ideas for your training, nutrition, and lifestyle to immediately put to use. If you want to be a sexy 80-year-old, and throw your grandkids around like basketballs, listen in with Marcus Filly, the creator of functional bodybuilding, and myself. We’ll be talking about avoiding burnout, keeping your passion alive for training, and fueling your body and mind, so you can look good, move well now, and for years,

    Marcus (00:39):

    Hi, I’m Marcus Filly and we’re broadcasting from Revival Strength in San Rafael, California. So, if you’re local, be sure to come check us out. Revival Strength is where you can find our programs like Awaken Training Series and one-on-one coaching for athletes of all levels and ages, locally or anywhere in the world. We also send out free warmups, workouts, and more to our email list at So, be sure to hop on there.

    Misbah (01:05):

    We would love for you to take a minute to head to iTunes and give us a review. We value your feedback, and we want to earn all five stars. Thank you.

    Marcus (01:28):

    Guys, before we dive into the episode today, first, we want to thank you for being listeners and supporting the show. I want to talk about Functional Bodybuilding 101, our education course that we offer right now on our website. And I want to ask you, Mis, you came into Revival Strength a number of years ago, and you were kind of right on the cutting edge of learning functional bodybuilding principles as a coach and as an athlete. How has being a functional bodybuilding-educated coach impacted your profession, as well as you as an athlete?

    Functional Bodybuilding 101

    Misbah (02:00):

    Well, I think that the biggest thing is learning the principles and the thought processes. We see a lot of movements that you put out on your page or on Functional Bodybuilding, and it’s fun to go through and experience yourself. But when you know the principles and the thought process behind that and the progressions and the way to build on top of each other, not only do you get a more fulfilling experience as an athlete because you’re just being a little more intentional about it, but then from a coaching perspective, you can confidently use some of these practices and principles to design programs that are fun, safe, effective, and are ultimately going to allow you to be a more valuable coach to the clients that you are working with.

    Functional Bodybuilding 101

    Marcus (02:54):

    I’ve seen firsthand, you grow as a coach over the years, and I have great pride in saying that Misbah is perhaps, maybe next to me, the best functional bodybuilding coach on the planet. And I’ve seen you use these principles that we talk about in FBB 101, and you’ve learned how to utilize them to the 10th degree. Now, Functional Bodybuilding 101 is an introductory course. You are going to get the history of how FBB was founded, which is extremely important that we understand where this came from, having language and knowing your history about what drove these methods will allow you to talk to your client in an educated way. 

    We also layout some very fundamental progressions, principles, and concepts of how we structure designs, how we build-out programs, and how we progress people through movement. So, please head over to, check out the “Learn” link, and go and get Functional Bodybuilding 101, the course. You’re going to get text and video instruction, and for being our listeners, we’re going to give you guys the 10% discount code to use that is LGMW10. Again, that is LGMW10. Look good, move well, 10. And use that discount code to get FBB 101. And it’s also valid for all our other products that are there right now.

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    Learning For Top Notch Coaching

    Misbah (04:22):

    Picking up from part one of this special episode, we return to our conversation with John Berardi on exploring the limits of what you know, so it no longer limits your progress. In addition to expanding your network, learning intentionally can propel your career and help you make an impact to be proud of. Tilt the balance from consumer to creator with this Changemaker’s advice for anyone who wants to do meaningful work in the world. 

    I love that there’s the common thread that seems to exist, regardless of which area you feel really drawn to and want to study, maybe be an expert in and still have knowledge in the other areas. There’s definitely an element of psychology or being able to maybe self-analyze or listen, and kind of understand very deeply, regardless of which one of these paths you kind of take, that really helps kind of enhance maybe your coaching experience.

    Precision Nutrition

    Misbah (05:16):

    And I love that you talk about that. Not just in the book, but I see you do interviews, or even in the Precision Nutrition certifications, there’s evidence of that everywhere. The second that I’m thinking of a question after you make a statement, there’s very clear examples of anything I could be possibly thinking of, it’s addressed right there. And so, you’re tackling it from all different angles, which I assume comes from being able to listen, over the years, to the 150,000 people that you’ve coached and 75,000 coaches. And the one thing I found really fascinating is, I think I saw a video of you at a conference where you were mentioning that coaches who can get their first two to five clients last longer in the industry, or maybe it was using the ProCoach System.

    Dr John Berardi (06:24):

    We see it across, yeah. It’s ProCoach and other places.

    Misbah (06:27):

    So, I’m sure there was a lot of analysis that went into that, but could you tell us a little bit more about that?

    Data on New Fitness and Nutrition Coaches

    First Online Group Coaching

    Dr. John Berardi (06:34):

    Yeah. This was an interesting insight. In 2016, Precision Nutrition launched Pro Coach, which is a nutrition coaching platform software tool that uses our curriculum so that our certified coaches can coach using our curriculum with themselves as the coach. PN started as a coaching company. We coached a lot of people online in sort of group format and it’s lifestyle coaching, right? So, it’s nutrition and exercise, sleep, and stress management. And then after years of success doing that, people in the field were like, “teach us how you guys do that.” I mean, it was the first-ever online group coaching program in the entire field. And we have a couple of hundred thousand clients now, probably the world’s largest database of body transformation anywhere because it’s a year-long program.

    Dr. John Berardi (07:28):

    And if you figure 200,000 people, daily data points, I mean, we’ve got more data than anyone else in the world on this subject. So, people are like, teach us what you’ve learned. And so that’s where the Precision Nutrition Certification came from. And then eventually in 2016, we were able to build a thing to put them together. So, here’s how we coach, and originally, we just coached, and then here’s how we coach, is what we thought the pros. 


    Now you can do it, using our system. Right? And so what we found in the first couple of years, was that coaches who got their first five clients as quickly as possible, were still on the Pro Coach platform in a year, and coaches who didn’t weren’t. And we’re like, okay, cool. That makes sense, because if you don’t have clients, then you can’t pay the monthly fee to use the software. But I’m also an advisor for Equinox, and I was at Equinox and they were talking about new trainer turnover, right?

    Dr. John Berardi (08:24):

    New trainers come and work at Equinox and they’re gone inside of a year. So I’m like, do me a favor, run these numbers for me: how many average clients per trainer and when they leave. And what they found is the same thing: if they don’t get around five clients in the first couple of months, then they won’t be in this field by next year. And it was oddly around the same number of clients. And maybe it’s not too odd because five clients at a couple of hundred bucks a week probably means you can pay your rent now, you know what I mean? Like, you can buy groceries and pay the rent. But it really was a clear testament to what’s most important if you’re new in the industry. 

    What's the most important action items to focus on?

    Dr. John Berardi (09:12):

    Now we set up a really interesting tension here, right? What’s most important is getting some clients, so essentially marketing. Maybe you’re not even a great coach yet. So, what do you study first? If you spend the first two years studying to be a great coach, you’re going to need a financial backer, whether that’s mom and dad, or whether you left a law career to come work in fitness so you have money in the bank. 

    But if you don’t have a financial backer, then you can’t afford to develop the coach skills. You’ll go broke before you can get there. So, it becomes this interesting tension and balance that each person has to solve individually based on what their financial means are, what their patience is like, what their timeline is like. But the bottom line is if you can’t find a funding source, and if you’re the funding source, then you need marketing.

    Coaching Development and Education Development. 

    Dr. John Berardi (10:08):

    And then you won’t be here very long. It’s a really crucial point that a lot of people don’t think about. But we just see it in hundreds of thousands of people, right? It’s just basic economics really. You need to be funded to become good at what you do. For some people, it may be 50-50, I’ll spend 50% of my continuing education for the first year on coaching development and the other 50% on marketing development. 

    It may be that you really need to lean into marketing right now and use other people’s programs. You know what I mean? That’s a solve. There are some great programs on the internet that people are giving away for free. Maybe your coach your clients using those so you’re not screwing up too badly while you’re learning marketing for the first year. Again, everyone has to solve it individually, but it’s a problem to solve for sure.

    Value System.


    Yeah. And it seems like having a really clear sense of what your value system is to guide that, is a key for coaches too. Just hearing you talk about that, I know that there’s a lot of people in the industry that get frustrated. They’re like, “oh man, that, that guy, or that girl, they’re just getting clients because they look good. They’re not even a good coach.” And it’s like, well, perhaps that’s their tool to showcase what the audience wants, what the market sees as potentially a good coach, somebody who’s got abs. 

    They’re working hard to maintain that aesthetic so that they can attract people into their coaching circle. Are they okay with that? Are they ok with selling a little bit of sex to get to that first 5, 10, 15 clients that’s going to allow them to stay in the business and have the time to develop themselves in, or are they even going to take the time to develop themselves as coaches?

    Way of Marketing.

    Dr. John Berardi (13:30):

    And three, you need to tell everyone about it. Okay? That’s the only way any business has ever been made. It’s the only way any clients have ever been gotten. Right? You have to know what people want, you have to do something awesome to deliver it, and then you have to tell everyone about it. So, then we think about the context of the things we see in the industry happening that we might like, or dislike, or whatever, and say, which bucket does it live in? Where does that particular thing live? Let’s use the example of someone marketing themselves with the shirts off picture, for example. Well, it kind of lives in telling everyone about it, right? Because we’re doing video and we’re teaching and whatever, but we have to ask the question, does it also live in what people really want?

    People ask me that, sometimes I attract a lot of people to our business through videos of exercise that happen to be shirtless and get attention. It’s just a tool that’s going to allow the ecosystem of our business to grow so that we can have great coaches work with these people and we can elevate. 

    To develop something remarkable.

    Dr. John Berardi (12:31):

    I like that framework. The idea that we’re going to look at someone who may market themselves with their abs or an attractive body, to have any judgment on that is too simplistic. It’s surface level thinking. It’s one of the things I dislike most: when we feel fervent against or for something, only having done a surface-level analysis. Right? So, let’s really expand that. It’s a tool, but what box does it live in? And what does the attraction of clients in business mean? For me, I think all business and all marketing are summed up by three things. One, you have to know what people want, like what they really want and are willing to pay for. Two, you need to develop something awesome and remarkable to deliver that.

    Dr. John Berardi (14:16):

    And does it live in something awesome? So, if people want to look amazing, or maybe they don’t want to look amazing, maybe they just want a coach who looks amazing. It’s an important question. I’ve long thought of this. Do some clients really like standing next to someone attractive at the gym every day? We have to ask that and the answer may be, yes, it may be, no, I’m not putting any value judgment against it. I’m just really deeply curious. 

    If all else were equal, you put someone attractive and fit next to someone who looks good, but average, you know what I mean? Or slightly above average, some people choose the attractive fit one every day. A young, attractive fit man or woman would be awesome to stand next to every day and talk to and be your friend and coach you on exercise.

    Attractive man or woman.

    Dr. John Berardi (15:18):

    Now, there’s going to be other people who that’s not at all appealing or motivating too. They might want someone, if they’re very overweight, want someone who was once overweight and is less overweight now. And that kind of person standing next to them is motivating to them. So, before we get judgmental about how people are marketing, let’s think about the client, what do they want and are willing to pay for? And different people will want and be willing to pay for different things. What is the awesome thing that you can build to deliver it? And we can’t just be like, your programming is the awesome thing.  No one can see your programming. You know what I mean? Like when I sign up with you, Marcus, I’m not like, “show me your workouts.” And you’re like, “here you go.”

    Dr. John Berardi (16:06):

    And I’m like, “these are remarkable. I’m ready.” There’s something else that’s attracting me that’s awesome about you or your business or the testimonials that I read from your business. And then the last thing is, you tell everyone about it. So, I think we need to figure out, not this, “I see other people doing yucky things.” What are they doing? What does it mean to prospective clients? Do you want to appeal to those clients or not? If not, who are the ones who want to appeal to? And then run this thing: Do you know what they want? Do you know how to build something awesome for them? And how will you let them know about it? And it helps make sense of everything? Like, should I be on social media?

    What Marketing Actually Works For Getting Coaching Clients?

    Dr. John Berardi (16:51):

    Should I fly around the town? should I be on the radio? Should I make YouTube videos? It can sound like a hundred things, but it’s really one thing. That’s the telling everyone about it part. So, now you get to decide, how will I tell everyone about it? I know I need to tell everyone about it, but which method do I think may be the most effective. And then you do the same for each of the three. And again, in the book, we talk about all of them and all of them are easier said than done. Knowing what people really want isn’t about asking them. That never works. There’s a series of questions and probing and a method, which I outline, for how to find out what people really want and are willing to pay for.

    The Changemaker!!

    Dr. John Berardi (17:36):

    And it’s usually not what we think. Then building something awesome. If you’re young in your career, how could you possibly know what’s awesome? You haven’t seen enough awesome. You have to know who to talk to you to go out and you have to ask people what’s awesome and have to look outside of our field. You need to put what you’re building in front of others. Like Changemaker, the book that you guys have. I’ve written a lot over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at it, right? 

    When I sit down to write this, there’s a good chance my first draft is at least decent. But I know enough to know that I can’t do remarkable work alone. So, I sent this draft out to 15 people in the field. They’re all people who are at different stages of their career, some outside of our field even. And they made the book markedly better. They gave me specific types of feedback, thinking aloud feedback, which is what I share in the book. But the bottom line is, even at my stage of my career, I can’t do awesome work alone. So, you need people to help and then telling everyone about it, we’ve talked about.

    How Learning Evolves Throughout Your Career


    Absolutely. Well, as you just talked about needing good people to guide us or as sounding boards in the industry, and I know something that you deep, deeply believe in, you talk about in the book about, having three impressive people or companies that you’re always closely following. Do you mind sharing who that is currently and who you’re learning from?

    Dr. John Berardi (19:16):

    Yeah, absolutely. So, in this section, I talk about how continuing education needs to evolve as your career evolves. Early on I went and did formal education. I did my undergrad and my master’s and my Ph.D. And then after that, it was what people call continuing education. So, seminars and workshops and books and courses. And then I realized, at a certain point, I’m going to need a new form of education. That is just not going to work for me anymore at my level of current development. I’ve been in the field 30 years, so what we’re getting is just like wisest people are retiring and getting off the speaking circuit and the youngest people are coming up and teaching just the new things of the day. Which there’s nothing wrong with it, but I need a different thing now, you know?


    Dr. John Berardi (20:07):

    So, at this stage in my career, I start, as you mentioned, following people. What I’ll normally do is pick a business that’s bigger than one that I’ve run, a business that’s about the same size, and one that’s smaller. It could be a business, or it could be a person, it could be a thought leader, or whatever the case may be. What I do is I sign up for their newsletter and I do everything they ask. 

    I get all their emails. And instead of being like, “God, this guy sends out so many emails,” like everyone complains, I open everyone and I read everything they write and I click every link they put in it and I buy every product they tell me to buy. And this to me, it may cost me a $1000-1500 a year or whatever the case may be, but that’s how much a course would have cost anyway.

    Management Tools

    Dr. John Berardi (20:58):

    But I’m getting real deep insight into not only how someone thinks, but what they do with what they think. You know what I mean? And that, to me at this point in my career, is way more valuable. I tell the story of John Goodman at the Personal Trainer Development Center and Online Trainer Academy. John’s a great friend of mine now. And it was funny because a few years ago he was my guy that I was following, and we didn’t know each other super well. And he emailed me one day about his list management tool that tracks all the emails and was like, “Hey man, how come your name is at the top of this list?” which is the top of the list of people who open emails and click through, right? He’s like, “that’s super flattering to me, but why?”

    As a Learner

    Dr. John Berardi (21:42):

    And I’m like, you’re my person. You’re the person I’m following right now. This is how I do it. And I’m not going to sign up for your course on marketing. I’m going to watch you market. And I’m going to learn from that. I really love that approach because as humans, teachers in particular, it’s very difficult to know exactly what we’re doing. I can tell you what I think I’m doing when I’m marketing, but sometimes I’m just instinctually doing things that my deep subconscious knows to do. And so, as a learner, I don’t necessarily want to hear what you think you’re doing. I can watch what you’re actually doing. And this is what I recommend that people who use our ProCoach software, or coaches who do certifications with precision nutrition, just sign up for our newsletter list.

    Charles Paul Quinn

    Dr. John Berardi (22:39):

    And instead of complaining about too much email, read everyone, see how we’re marketing. We are the most effective company at doing what we do in the world right now. Why wouldn’t you watch it very closely and see what you can borrow and use in your business? So, that’s how I do my continuing education now. And then there are two other parts of that one. One, I learned from the late Charles Paul Quinn. We were on a speaking tour with a bunch of speakers at one point, and he taught me about what he called his brain-picking fee. 

    And he’s like, you know, there are experts in the world, often professors, who know so much about a particular area that you’ll never spend the time to learn about, but you could pay them like a hundred bucks for an hour or two and pick their brain on that area of expertise and 80/20 it. You can learn everything you need for your business or your work, or your coaching in like two hours with a world-leading expert if you ask the right questions.

    Learn 10x Faster in Half The Time

    Dr. John Berardi (23:42):

    And you can get it for $100-200, that’s a steal. And I was like, he’s right! So I started doing that, I’d reach out. Oftentimes they don’t even make you pay. If there’s some guy who is the world’s leading expert on vitamin D, and I need to know something about vitamin D in my practice. If I can call that person and spend two hours asking questions, it’s invaluable. And then I’m done. I don’t have to read all the literature. I just talked to the person, who’s read all the literature. And so that’s part two of continuing education. And then the last thing is, at PN, we have a newsletter list of a million people. And so we’ve done studies with them over the years.

    Dr. John Berardi (24:32):

    Sometimes the questions that I have, no one knows the answer to. But I’m like, I can figure that out. So, we’ve done studies where we’ve reached out to our audience and said, “Hey, I’m testing a new supplement.” And one of the ones we tested was called eggshell membrane. So, you know when you hard boil an egg and you peel the egg, there’s that little sticky membrane that’s so annoying sometimes? Well, that, concentrated, is a great source of various nutrients that can help with joint pain. So, someone turned it into a nutritional supplement. And they were promoting it as this really fantastic thing for arthritis and joint pain, so let’s test it. We had 40 people with joint pain.

    Challenging Exercises

    Dr. John Berardi (25:17):

    We gave them exercises that challenged their joints. We gave them this supplement and we saw what happened. We had them report out on pain before, during, after two days, after five days, after exercise. Now, we have this opportunity to do continuing education, which is the creation of knowledge. So, that’s kind of my big three in terms of where I’m at now in terms of how I learn. And it might not be right for everyone who’s listening, but I think the lesson is that continuing education should follow the timeline of your career. As your career progresses, you need to think differently about it. If you’re 30 years in and you’re still just going to courses as your primary continuing education, it’s off. You need to level up your continuing education, just like you’ve leveled up other assets.


    I love all the different ways that you continue to educate yourself and learning. I just had somebody comment to me the other day, they said, “oh, wow, you, you follow so few people on social media.” And I said, “well, that’s my continuing education platform for marketing and for a number of things.” I want to be able to see who comes through my feed. I don’t want it to be cluttered by a thousand different, things that I’m not super interested in learning from. I want those people that I can learn so much from and be able to see, what is their method? How are they presenting themselves? How can I use some of that to reach more people myself?

    Social Media Consumption

    Dr. John Berardi (26:49):

    Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up because I’ve thought a lot about this lately. I just started an Instagram account six weeks ago now. So, I’m kind of figuring it out as I go. It makes me sound like maybe a dinosaur like I’m not hip on social media or whatever, but I just have been on Facebook forever. And so I’ve thought a lot about this in particular, in the context of consumer versus creator, as well as the education piece. I think you’re super smart to limit your social media consumption, not from a “Facebook’s going to kill your brain perspective,” but from attention and curation of what is exactly what you’re saying. I need to curate what I consume, not just randomly consume.

    Dr. John Berardi (27:42):

    I also think there’s something to think about in terms of the balance of creation and consumption. Again, we have four young children and right now, especially in the Montessori community, which is the community that we’re in, it’s really popular to speak badly about technology, especially screens. “Screen time is bad, less screen, screen time is killing our children, blah, blah, blah.” And I just keep thinking the coaching there is poor. It’s the same as saying, don’t eat sugar, which I do for nutrition. Don’t eat sugar, don’t have caffeine. It’s the negatives, right? Don’t watch screens. Well, screens are in front of us all the time. What do we do instead? I think about it the same for children and adults, the antidote for screen time, which is essentially passive consumption is active creation.

    Creating Things

    Dr. John Berardi (28:39):

    So, we get our kids creating things. If they want to be on their iPad, can we have them doing acts of creation? Can they be making videos? Can they be doing art? Can they be creating structures and drawings, versus passive consumption? Screen time is not the problem, it’s consumption, especially sort of uncurated consumption. So, I think that translates to adults as well.  When you’re talking about following a few people, that’s great. 

    Let’s curate the consumption and then I know you’re a creator already, so I’m not telling you something you don’t know, but I think for people listening in, what is your ratio of creation to consumption? Especially if you work in the field. It has to be skewed in terms of creation. Consumption should be curated, but you should be creating also. That’s kind of how I think about some of these things. I’m really glad you brought that up.

    Misbah (29:36):

    There’s something really important about what you said, in regard to who you learn from and how you learn. I don’t know if you’re a fan of Seth Godin at all.

    Blog Post

    Dr. John Berardi (29:47):

    Yeah. I had a phase where he was my guy. I followed him. I read every blog post and everything he sent and everything he did. And every course he did, I signed up for. So he was one of my guys a few years ago.

    Misbah (29:58):

    Wow. Yeah. You may know this exact post, Steven, but I think he wrote it. It was called, Mentors vs. Heroes. And he talked about how mentors can sometimes be a bit of an easy out because you can make the excuse that, “oh, I don’t have access to this person, or this person I wanted to learn from has passed away or they’re too busy,” or whatever it might be. But heroes, you can access at any point by following their work and their trajectory, and often learn things about them that they may have never shared with you if they were kind of articulating it themselves. 

    Mentors vs Heroes

    It may be through different kinds of vantage points that you’re learning about. Maybe it’s even you. In Changemakers, I think one of the most valuable things is there is the Q&A. You have all these common questions that people have asked you and really get deep into how you think. And us having this conversation with you right now, there are certain things we may ask you and you may respond to us with, but in the book, we might uncover a different angle that we may never be able to. So, heroes are accessible to almost everyone. It’s just kind of choosing who that is for you. 

    Dr. John Berardi (31:14):

    Yeah. And I think you’re also hinting at the idea of context, which is important. It reminds me of just this week. Our oldest is nine and she’s in grade four. So, she’s starting to do these active book report kinds of processes where she has to read a book and answer a series of questions and stuff like that. And so the questions we answered the other night were about the author. So, we had to go online. We had to research the author of this book that she’s reading. And I was like, what a good exercise because she’s reading this book and it’s about a girl who’s stranded on this island and has to kind of fend for herself, and as you learn about the author, it becomes so clear why he wrote this book.

    The idea of Context!!

    Dr. John Berardi (32:05):

    And his view on nature and survival and what’s good in the world. From the person, springs this story. The story isn’t independent of the person.  What you’re saying reminded me of that because it’s so true. And that’s what I get out of following people. I get not what they’re telling me. The same thing came up in the writing of my book. It took me two years to write this thing. And I was kind of surprised at first because I’m a fast writer and I’ve written prolifically. And so then it occurred to me, I set a really high bar with this because I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just spouting off cliches and what I think I’m supposed to say.

    Dr. John Berardi (32:55):

    So, when someone asks about marketing, I’m supposed to say X. And I’m like, well wait, but do I really believe that? Or am I just sharing what I think socially is acceptable here? Every single day I wished I would have written more that day, but I had to go back and do this process of, am I saying things that I think people want to hear or am I saying what mattered? What really worked for me, even if it’s not what people want to hear? 


    And going back through that process was really sort of integral. It’s one of the things I’m so on guard with learning from others, as well. They may not even know that they’re just spouting off what they’ve heard before, what we’ve all read a hundred times about that subject. I want to know what they really think. And one of the greatest pathways into that is seeing what they actually do.

    Misbah (33:49):

    From a creation standpoint, for somebody who’s maybe a newer coach, let’s say that they are in that two to five client zone. I think it’s helpful to have an idea of a vision of what is possible. Seeing another person has 40, 50, 60 clients. I can possibly do that too. When you think about people who aren’t working for a bigger company, like Precision or Revival Strength and they are kind of a one-man show, how do you recommend they arrange their mindset when it comes to the creation process? Because it can be very easy to get lost in, “oh, I have to create something where I have a hundred thousand followers on Instagram,” or, “I have to put out YouTube videos, Instagram stuff, all of this,” and you can kind of get lost in it.

    Down the Focus

    Misbah (34:46):

    This is a big one you mentioned in the book, where you talk about how, in the beginning, we all can fall into the trap of creating things for other people who are just as into our thing, as we are. We’re really into sports-specific types of stuff, so we’re putting out content and information regarding that. And you see over time, everybody’s just doing that versus that actually tapping out into, you’d call it the red ocean strategy of the person who’s just trying to play with their kids or get up off the floor and live a healthy life. How do you even begin to kind of wrap your head around that and start to narrow down the focus? 

    That Versus That!!

    Dr. John Berardi (35:33):

    Well, I think if you think of these two circles, right? Circle one is the people in the world that need help. So, them. Circle two is you, who you are, what you want to do, what’s special about you what’s unique, right? Then, you have to figure out how those two circles overlap and where. Going out and copying other people’s a mistake, it’s just a mistake. But that’s what a lot of people in health and fitness are doing. They’re like, “well, I’m going to see who’s got a good business and I’ll model mine after that.” And that’s cool if you’re them, right? If they modeled theirs after themselves, like their heart, their soul, who they want to be, and what they want to do in the world, and you’re that person, that’s really cool.

    Dr. John Berardi (36:20):

    If you’re not, it’s a recipe for misery. You’re going to do worse than them because they’re passionate about it and you’re not. There’s already one of them, so you’re just a copy. And then, even if you do have success, even if that low probability play works out, now you’re living someone else’s life. That sucks. Even at success, you’re unhappy. There’s a lot of theories out there about successful people being unhappy. And what’s the problem with that? Well, part of the problem is they’re just copying other people’s pathways to success. There is zero happiness in that for you unless that’s so happened to be your purpose and unique abilities, as well. When you talked about how do you focus your creation?  Well, the first thing is don’t think about creation, think about yourself.


    Sometimes Success sucks

    Dr. John Berardi (37:08):

    What are you good at? This is the unique abilities part. What are you or could you be world-class at? What, among that circle, do you love doing and could do for the rest of your life, continue developing without getting sick of it or bored of it? And then three, what among those has a chance to move the needle on whatever your metrics are for success, whether that’s reach or whether that’s the impact or whether that’s money, you decide. I have a friend in the industry who runs a great business, who was like, “Hey, I want to create a content machine-like Precision Nutrition created. How do I do that?” And my first thing is like, I can teach you how to do that.

    Dr. John Berardi (37:55):

    I mean, we’ve done that already. For those who don’t know, PN gets 2- 3 million website visits a month and is pretty well-regarded as the top long-form content provider in the industry, in terms of articles about nutrition and lifestyle and for graphics and animated videos. And I told him, but I don’t see a single person at your company who’s doing it already. Everyone on your team is passionate about something else. What you have to understand about me is when I was like 18 years old, I was reading Muscle Media magazine, which was the top magazine at the time for people like us. And it came to your house in the mail. There was no internet with stuff like this at the time. People were on dial-up and there were no websites devoted to training and nutrition knowledge.

    Muscle Media Magazine

    Dr. John Berardi (38:47):

    So, I got Muscle Media in the mail and I was writing articles for Muscle Media as an 18-year-old that I would never submit, that they would never accept, but I was writing long-form content before anyone cared, before I had any training, before anyone would’ve paid me to do it. I often say you ride the horses in the direction they’re already going. That’s the idea of unique abilities. I was already doing this, unpaid for fun, in the bedroom of my parents’ house, you know? When it came time to have a business, I was practiced at this, maybe not good yet. And I love doing it. I was doing it for no pay, but I’m going to translate this into a business. So, that’s what people have to think about with their content creation.

    Dr. John Berardi (39:35):

    What could you do at the world-class level? What would you be doing, even if you weren’t paid? That’s the stuff you lean into. Now go out and make it as good as PN stuff, but your work. Make it world-class, but the thing that you would be doing. I think that’s so critical. It makes the creation of that stuff more fun, it makes it way easier. You’ll be able to do way more in less time because you’re good at it and want to do it. It has a higher chance of working, when it does work, if it does work, you’re having fun. I mean, that’s the recipe right there. I’ve been giving this example lately. I was at a grocery store in the US, I live in Canada, for those listening now.

    Work and Fun

    Dr. John Berardi (40:25):

    And I was in the bread section. Have you guys ever seen Dave’s muscle bread or whatever it’s called? So, there’s this guy, Dave, and he’s like playing electric guitar and he’s got like long hair. He’s like a rock and roll guy, but he’s muscular. He’s got big arms. And so it’s a take on the classic, arms crossed trainer pose where you’re pushing out your biceps, but his guitar is pushing out his biceps, right? Like he’s number one in this. So anyway, Dave’s got this like high protein, low carb bread. And I don’t know Dave’s story, but I’ve manufactured a story for Dave, right? So here’s this guy who’s into health and fitness and into rock and roll and likes to eat healthy and likes to cook and bake or whatever.

    Dr. John Berardi (41:13):

    So, he comes up with this thing. It feels so improbable. But he’s in every store. He’s made a lot of money selling this bread and has mass retail distribution. But what he did was, he leaned into all these weird and quirky, unique things about himself. He’s like, I love to bake, I love to work out, I love to eat high protein, and he made this thing that no one else would think about and he’s crushing it. So think about what’s your equivalent of Dave’s rock and roll muscle bread. You know, what is that for you? It could be food, it could be a programming style, it could be something totally different. I was speaking at an event in Seattle recently and have this strategy I call my squint the eyes strategy.

    Advice to Online Coaches for Building Relationships

    Dr. John Berardi (42:03):

    So, instead of looking at the details of things, I kind of squint my eyes and just see the fuzzy shapes of them. I’ve taught it with respect to diet. What’s better, keto or plant-based or high fat or high protein? If you squint your eyes and look for the shapes, the similarities between the things, rather than the fine edge differences, that’s where the learning happens. I’m thinking about that with the people on stage. Everyone up here has leaned into their quirky uniqueness. Everyone on the stage was fundamentally different, liked different things. No one was copying each other. 

    But then we have this room of 500 people who are going to go out and copy us now. And they’ll never be on that stage because of it. Because there’s already someone doing that and they’re on the stage already, you know? So, that’s really my advice to anyone in any field: start with who you are. You have to know what that is. Now, you can’t just then blindly go create for yourself because there may be no market for that. You have to look at what people want and are willing to pay for and then you have to find where those overlap. And then that’s the little zone of the Zen, the Venn diagram that you live in now. You get plenty of you, but then you get service of them.

    On the Stage


    That was incredible. And as you were saying, the story about the muscle bread, I was saying, that’s the question that’s going to be on the wall in my office, “Is this your Dave’s muscle bread? Is it not?” Well, going back to the part of your book that talked about the challenge of, being ruthless with your prioritization and saying no to things, it just really highlighted how grateful I am, and we are, that you said yes to being on our show and coming on the podcast. It’s been a very insightful conversation. I’m learning a lot and taking a lot away. And you’ve been one of my people, not in the same way that you go through the process, but I’ve learned and followed so much of what you’ve done over the years.

    And it’s really impacted me. I look forward to seeing this book really reach a lot more professionals in lots of different industries, not just fitness because there are so many lessons that are valuable to people that are just looking to be in the service industry in some way. I wanted to see if we could close by one, the question of what do you wish people would ask you more of, what’s that question? And then, of course, anything you’d like to share about your book or what’s going on for you right now.

    About the Book

    Dr. John Berardi (44:54):

    So, it’s great, the question that people would ask me more of. It’s something I’ve long taught. I learned this when I was younger. So, when I’m with people who are more experienced or further along the journey, the questions that I ask will probably be too simplistic for what I need to know next because they’re framed around what I know today. 

    I remember Alan Cosgrove, who’s pretty well known in the industry, he’d tell me this story. When he first sat down with Bill Parisi, who started Parisi Speed Schools and was kind of a legend of franchising sport-specific conditioning centers, he said, “when I was young, I sit down with Bill and had the chance to have lunch with this guy, who’s had like amazing success in the industry, and I asked him what kind of squat rack I should get for my gym that I’m building.”

    Dr. John Berardi (45:41):

    He’s like, “what an idiot. I want to punch that guy in the face.” And I’m like, yes and no. That was the important thing at the time. If you would have asked him about franchising a business, it would have been irrelevant to you because you just needed to fill up that 500 square foot space you just rented with equipment, and that’s what you needed to know at the time. So, probably 80% of your conversation should be around your level right now, but maybe 10% or 20% should be, what do I not think about now that’s coming next. Right? Just a little bit of reaching ahead, but a lot of what I need today.


    Dr. John Berardi (46:27):

    So anyway, it’s a question that I ask a lot of people, “what haven’t I asked that I should’ve? Or what am I not thinking about that you know I’m going to need to think about next?” And so that’s the context I’ll answer this within. I think the bigger thing people ought to be thinking about is the interconnectedness between all the things in their lives. If we’re talking about business, if we’re talking about coaching, if we’re talking about parenting, if we’re talking about training, a lot of the same principles in life apply. I often say, the most freeing day for me was when I realized that becoming a better parent was the same as becoming a better coach, was the same as becoming a better leader in my business. It’s all the same skill: skillfulness with people.

    Dr John Berardi (47:14):

    There are only a few things you need to do well there. I don’t need to take courses on all three things. I only need to figure out the fundamental skill for that. I think the same is true if we talk about our own personal health experience and our fitness experience, there are only a few principles around training and nutrition that are required for us to understand. 

    Fundamental Skill

    If we can squint our eyes, if we can see things in their shapes, rather than the fine edges and the differences and details, life gets a lot simpler. We become way more wise and insightful. Then it becomes easier to make decisions about things and see through all the stuff that’s coming at us. We want to know if the new stuff is BS or true, but I think that’s the wrong paradigm here. We just need to know if it’s useful in the context of understanding the world.

    Context of Understanding

    Dr. John Berardi (48:06):

    And if it’s not, then we can just discard it. We don’t even have to be mad at it. We just go, “oh yeah, that’s not useful in the context of me understanding the world.” Or, it may not be true, but the shape of it looks a lot like the shape of this other thing that is true. What’s in common there? How can I learn from that? Now I’m starting to feel like I’m giving philosophical advice that’s devoid of context or real examples. So, if you’re feeling that way, listeners, my thing is, do it with a concrete thing. Go look for the similarities between people who are eating plant-based diets and those who are carnivores. 

    Care about Nutrition

    Not just like what they wrote down for breakfast, but the context of their life. What’s similar about the people who are caring about their nutrition in these two seemingly different ways? What are they doing with themselves? What are they thinking about? Are there a lot of similarities versus just differences? And when you start playing this game in as narrow as an area as food, you can start playing it in big areas of your life, like parenting and relationships and business. And then I think that’s where the real magic happens in terms of developing wisdom and then being effective.

    Misbah (49:23):

    That’s wonderful advice. Again, thank you so much, John, for being generous with your time and giving us all some food for thought. We would love to kind of support you and your journey in whatever way we can. So, where would you kind of recommend people learn more about you and what you’re up to and where can we point people to?

    Thanks and Support to you

    Dr. John Berardi (49:45):

    Yeah. So, folks can come check me out at We just launched a new website. I had a many moons ago. Marcus, you may remember this. It was teenage days and we shut it down at night. We sent everyone to Precision Nutrition for the longest time. So, if folks want to go read about our nutrition stuff, go to But if you want to figure out what I’m up to, what I’m creating, what I’m reading, what I’m thinking about, I have a bunch of different projects on the go, come over to 

    And then with respect to the book, which we’ve talked a lot about today, if any of these ideas we shared were resonant with you, then I think you’ll love the book. There are over 60 activities you can do to make some of this real in your life, rather than just be like, who am I? You’re going to get the questions to figure out that. You can check that out on Amazon or you can come to

    Your First Article

    Thank you so much. This was a real pleasure and something that 20 years ago, when I was reading your first articles, I don’t know that I would’ve thought would have happened. So, thank you again. 

    Marcus (50:53):

    If you’ve gotten something useful from this episode, we hope you try it out. And be sure to sign up for our email list at to get our free functional bodybuilding workout and nutrition starter guide. We all know abs are made in the kitchen, so this will help you build some good habits and hit a few workouts while you’re at it. You’ll also get some weekly warmups and other great content. So, head over now to and sign up.

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