For the initiated, whenever anyone is kind enough to accept my invitation to be featured in a PROfile, I always send ‘em the same three deep-thought provoking questions (inspired in no small part by James Lipton‘s interview style).
Depending on how much detail they go into with their replies, I usually take a bit o’ time to work my mojo and format it in such a way that I deem worthy of THE CUP. So even though the questions are always the same, no two PROfiles look alike (or so I hope).
PROfiles Are NOT About Me
As I explain to all of my hapless victims exceptional guests, this forum is meant to be THEIR stage… I’m just here to work the lights. Of course, I begin with a little back-story, add in whatever elements I feel will make the material flow (and of course, entertain), tidy up the format for readability… but the bulk of the content is generally provided by the person being PROfiled.
In Carter Schoffer’s case, I’ve actually spent several months trying to figure out how to restructure the incredible volume and quality of content he provided. I finally came to the realization that Carter already did the hard work for me so all I need to do is post it.
This is by far, the longest PROfile to date, so grab a PN-compliant Super Shake and pull up a comfortable chair.
I inserted the live links/captions, the BOLD HEADINGS and might’ve tweaked a comma or two but other than that, Carter, this stage is now yours…
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IT’S NOT UNUSUAL…
The quick, dirty and more truthful than not, account of my life on this planet as a performance and body composition “authority” starts, more or less, during my final year of high school. It was then that I contacted, met up with and befriended the Tom Jones of Exercise and Nutrition Scientists, the one, the only, the venerable John Michael Berardi. We got along famously and I’ve been riding that wave – some might say his coattails – to this day.
To stay firm course on the productive side of the protégé vs. freeloader line, I took up the role as head performance and body composition coach/consultant, designing the exercise and nutrition programs for our stable of athletes and clientele while contributing content here and there for whatever project or article JB was working on at the time. It was in this capacity that we (JB, Phil and I) formed the foundation of Science Link as a business entity with johnberardi.com as the storefront, so to speak. From there, No Nonsense Nutrition (NNN) and the first version of Gourmet Nutrition (GN) were born, a couple books were launched and hundreds of articles, etc were written. This all set the stage for the creation of Precision Nutrition (PN) and in turn, the launching of the PN forums.
Anecdote #1: The PN forums grew out of the promise JB made to Scrawny to Brawny (S2B) readers – that there’d be a support forum for skinny bastards. It was right around the same time that we were putting together the S2B support forum that we were launching a service called the Berardi Nutrition Network (BNN).
Realizing that we were shooting off in too many directions without a solid nucleus, JB started to work on a draft that detailed the foundation upon which all of our otherwise seemingly disparate products and services operated. The point of this draft was to create an in-house business plan, of sorts. That is, a defined backbone to our business. Or so we thought. Soon thereafter, this draft became a little known guidebook called Precision Nutrition.
Now that we had our nucleus, we decided that a PN support forum was the way to go – encompassing all of our offerings. From there, the support forum grew into the community that it is now today and has continued to evolve beyond any initial expectation.
My specific role during all of this was to continue with the fully supported coaching service and content contribution while taking on the duty as Forum Patriarch. Essentially an extension of what I was already doing – providing web-based exercise and nutrition advice/support. Fortunately for me, as the community grew, so too did the influx of experts. As it stands today, we have many of the brightest and, as importantly, generous and friendly minds, both in and out of the biz, contributing to the community.
From here, I suppose the next natural question is what’s next? While I can’t let all of our projects out of the bag, I suppose I can talk about a couple of the soon to be released productions.
FASTIDIOUS AND PRECISE…
Body Transformation: As stated, we started out with our fully supported coaching as an anchor to the business. Over the years, however, because of NNN, GN 1.0, PN, GN 2.0, seminars, articles, S2B, MA, PN 2.0, the forum, and a bunch of other stuff, we haven’t been able to devote the time and effort to grow this area of the business. And, in fact, we’ve reduced our roster to fewer and fewer clients. This, in turn, has increased our waiting list to a few hundred applicants.
Knowing the potential for of this area of the business, and genuinely feeling as though we’re letting those on the waiting list down by not growing the service, we’ve decided to “spin-off” our Body Transformation component (that’s what we call our fully supported coaching) with the idea of nurturing it in the same way we’ve developed Precision Nutrition.
Basically, it’ll become a sister company to PN and I’ll continue to man the helm. What’ll be different is the amount of time I’ll now be devoting to the development of the service. In time, the idea is to grow it to the point of fully complimenting PN. That is, it’ll provide overall body transformation strategy and application to solidify PN.
Exercise Database: The creation of an exercise database has been something we’ve talked about doing ever since our inaugural “business meeting” back in ’01 in JB’s driveway. But for about as many excuses as there are words in the Oxford dictionary, we hadn’t gotten to it. That is until a little over a year ago when, essentially on a whim, we rented a bunch of equipment and shot 450 exercise videos from 3 different HD angles. Once we had the video shot, we figured it’d be a breeze to put together the database of our dreams – silly us.
The fact is that it was anything but a breeze. Not because it’s a conceptually difficult task, per se, but because we already had an overflowing platter full of work and, I think more importantly, it’s damn expensive to create an online exercise video library the right way. Especially so when, short of another expensive and time consuming project, it would be without a revenue stream. The result has been a picking away at it strategy that I think we’re all at least a little embarrassed about.
Fortunately, countering this slight shame and expense is the pride that we (nearly) have in what I think is a kick-ass resource that’s on the verge of being complete.
Special Note: If it weren’t for contributors such as yourself, we’d still be mired in the enormity of it.
LOOKING BACK – MOVING FORWARD
That wraps up the couple large scale business projects that I can talk about. On a personal note, I’m actually gearing up to head back to school in the fall. Because of the success we’ve had, and my desire to get a full time whiff of the real world, I put formal studies on hold after my undergrad years and focused on developing the business. Without a doubt, that decision turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made and I intend to continue to build upon what we’ve started. That said, a large part of me feels as though I left unfinished business behind and, in fact, I’ve been contemplating the merits of my decade old desire to become a teacher.
The idea is to go back for a semester to get my bearings. From there I’ll have to decide whether I’ll do a Masters in something like Exercise Phys, go to Teachers College, or pursue an MBA – or some combo of the above. And who knows, maybe I’ll even make use of a year or two of collegiate eligibility and strap on a bucket and cleats.
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FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD
We’ve had the good fortune of working with a number of Pro, Olympic and Collegiate teams and individual athletes over the years. And I have to admit that it’s pretty freakin’ cool sensation to see an athlete/client you’ve worked with podium, win a championship, show off their new bod’ or yank a contender down from Hang Tough (speaking of Valerie Waugaman aka American Gladiator “Siren” with this last one). It’s also cool to break bread and talk shop with some of the most accomplished minds, or in some cases personalities, in the field. The tips, insights, “insider” stories, anecdotes, and I’m sure, tall tales, have been a great bonus.
Having said all that, what I enjoy most about what I do is helping the everyday Janes and Joes change their lives. From overall wellness to new found confidence from body comp and/or performance changes, this is by far the most rewarding aspect. Their stories aren’t nearly as glamorous as the podium finishes or professional photo shoots but, to me at least, they’re so much more fulfilling.
As an Aside – A phrase that I first heard back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and have since grown to appreciate more and more, is that “it’s not who you know but rather who knows you.” Within the industry I doubt more than a small handful of “big names” know or care who I am, despite the fact that I’ve met most of them in one capacity or another. A rather depressing statement until one considers that this industry is chalk full of nutties. But that’s beyond the scope of our chat over coffee and in fact is a subject that I think is worthy of a 60 Minutes exposé.
With respect to fame, and how it ties into the aforementioned expression, one thing that I’ve always found amusing is the grandiose delusion of celebrity born out of association. A trainer or strength coach will brag that they worked with stud athlete/actor X so that everyday Joe will be wowed into enlisting the services of said coach/trainer. Everyday Joe will then brag that they’re working with the trainer who trained Stud athlete/actor X. Cleary, and I don’t mean to understate this, there’s some potentially legitimate social proof with this chain of association. But fame? Give me a freakin’ break. A coach or trainer may be a genius (I’ve met a number who really are) but they’re in the wrong field if they believe that they’re deserving of celebrity.
And don’t even get me started on internet guru “newsletter” harassment. Selling crack and calling it holy water would make a bunch of money too. It doesn’t, however, vault the huckster to a seat on the board with Jack Welch and Warren Buffet.
By the way, a newsletter, by bloody definition, should contain news or, at the very least, useful or important information. Not some drivelling about how your friend’s baby farted last night and you had an epiphany.
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You know all that talk above about helping people change their lives? Well that’s the fulfillment – or reward – half of the equation. The other half, the implementation or work side, has an equally appealing component – the hours and freedom. Because what I do is primarily distance based and the specific medium is largely email, I have a great deal of flexibility. Essentially, I work where and when I want so long as “the work” gets done.
The result is that I roll out of bed, knock down a mind-body concoction of Greens+, chocamine, green tea extract, piracetam and a few other ingredients, head into my office and make use of the 30 most productive minutes of my day. From there, I basically fly by the seat of my pants.
Anecdote #2: I’ve never actually had a cup or, for that matter, a sip of coffee. The reason, so far as the best of my introspective ability has found, can be traced back to hearing adults make the statement “I need my morning cup of coffee” or any of the numerous other permutations of stated dependency. This is a line of thought beyond the depth of this piece but to me, dependency equated and still does to a large extent, with weakness.
I don’t like appointments or schedules or, for that matter, planning. If I’m feeling creative, I write. If I’m feeling helpful, I answer forum questions. If I need a mental pick-me-up, I’ll grab a good book and either get lost in a world of fiction (helps me with feeling creative) or gain insight of one form or another via a work of non-fiction. Generally speaking, I go through each the above states and a few others each and every day which is why the flexibility is great.
My everyday also includes exercise of one form or another. These days it’s most usually resistance training and/or squash. I never thought a sport that didn’t involve deliberate physical contact could be so much fun, but man, I love it. With respect to the weights, I do my best to practice what I preach.
Favourite Exercise: Barbell hack squat
Clean or Snatch: Snatch, preferably clean.
Heavy load or high rep: Load’er up
Powerlifter or Bodybuilder: Athletic bloke who lifts heavy and looks good
Dumbbell or Kettlebell: Capitalism all the way.
Split or Full body: Split
Interval Sprint or Low Intensity: Heavy weights and a sport.
Personal Trainer or S&C Coach: Performance and Body Composition Specialist.
Exercise or Nutrition: Both. Not 50/50, 90/10, 10/90 but 100/100. Like water and oxygen, you need both or you die.