125. The Joy Code with Marc Zalmanoff

Does it seem like everyone else is doing great while you’re struggling?

And because it seems like you’re the only one who can’t manage and everyone else has their shit together, you’re either afraid or unwilling to talk about it?

But what if you then got to have deep, meaningful conversations with other people and discovered they’re going through the same struggles as you?

Marc Zalmanoff was raised largely by a single father who didn’t really explain much to him. His father taught him lessons by example – how to be a good human being, how to be an entrepreneur, and how to be decent toward women regardless of the circumstances.

His other major influence was his joyful, warm grandmother who went through a lot of health struggles yet maintained her optimism and cheer until the end.

Marc grew up, married, and had a child. He became a partner in a gym. Then he got divorced. Not long after, he had another child with another woman, but then they broke up.

Then the gym ran out of money. Marc didn’t speak with his partner about any of what was happening, he just walked out in the middle of the night, inviting his own personal training clients to follow him to a new venue he rented.

Somehow Marc managed to get through every situation, so it seemed fine.

But Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

Over and over again, he found himself going through major changes without talking about it. He had learned from his dad that this is just what men do. And he never noticed that others might be going through the same thing. Until one day, when he found out the other gym owners he shared a parking lot with were also struggling in business.

In a moment, when you meet Marc, you’ll discover how his life significantly changed when he got himself around other good men and discovered the power of masterminding.

Coupled with this, he realized how our culture teaches men to talk about surface-level stuff like sports, politics, and current events, but never to really open up to each other in the same way women find themselves able to do naturally.

Through his new venture, The Joy Code, Marc is bringing men together to help them share their successes and struggles by creating a space where they feel comfortable. Where they can get around others who are leveling up and pouring into themselves to become better humans. Asking “how can I have a better relationship with myself?”

Marc’s hype songs are “Bodies” by Drowning Pool and “The Game” by Motorhead.


Invitation from Lori:

Like Marc, it’s possible you’re not “fine” because you don’t feel comfortable admitting things in your life aren’t as fine as you’re convincing people they are.

If you want to start changing the coding in your brain so you can – as Marc is known for saying – make good choices, the 5 Easy Ways to Start Living The Sabbatical Life guide is for you.

Once you read it, you’ll

✅ Discover a counter-intuitive approach to making intentional changes in mindset and lifestyle.

✅ Learn how to own your feelings and your struggles so you can address them.

✅ Find out how to face fears, step out of your comfort zone, and rewire your beliefs.

It’s only 7 pages, so it won’t take you long to get through. The five tactics are simple, but once you follow even ONE of them, you’ll find yourself feeling more open and able to deal with your situation in a more powerful way.

When you’re ready to say F*ck Being Fine, then this guide is the place to start. It’s time to blaze a new trail and chart a new course!

Go to https://zenrabbit.com right now to download it for free.


Lori Saitz: Hello, and welcome to Fine is a 4-Letter Word. My guest today is Marc Zalmanoff. Welcome to the show, Marc.

Marc Zalmanoff: Hey. Thanks for having me. I am excited. For anyone who knows me and doesn't know me yet, I love running my mouth, so this is my jam. So I'm excited to be on here.

Lori Saitz: Excellent, excellent. I'm trying to remember how we first met. I don't know if it was through Success Champions. I think we were connected somehow before that.

Marc Zalmanoff: We may have been. When you get in this entrepreneurial world and you start to understand how small it really is—and it can seem really big because social media paints a picture of certain things. But after a while, you're like, "Oh, we're kind of all connected." And there's only, like, this—I know, it's not small, but it's small relatively speaking. Just looking at America. There's, what, 330 million people or whatever. There's only a handful of us really pursuing things the way that we pursue, and being public about it and being on social media. So at some point, we're all crossing the same path somewhere along the line.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, absolutely. And at the same time, there are so many people that we don't know. And I bring that up because I've had so many conversations with entrepreneurs who have said, "Oh, well, people are already doing what I'm doing." Everybody knows, I don't know Brendon Burchard, for example. And he's not a small—he's somebody that a lot of people know, but yet I'm constantly running into people who don't know who he is.

And I just came across somebody today who—I can't remember her name, even. But I was like, "How do I not know who this person is?" You feel like everybody knows everybody, but then there's still always room for somebody else to bring in their knowledge and wisdom, which we're going to get to talking about in a minute in your base because I love the new project you're on.

But before we go there, what are the values and beliefs that you were raised with that contributed to you becoming who you became as a young adult and into now?

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah, great question. When I was growing up, my dad and my grandmother raised me. My mother wasn't in the picture, and my dad was never the type of guy that sat me down and taught me lessons. It was very much, I just saw the example on a daily basis. And whatever I gathered from that is what I gathered. And my grandmother was the same way. And it's not that we didn't communicate and didn't talk. He just wasn't that guy. He just didn't sit down and go, "Now, I'm going to tell you about how to talk to people, and I'm going to tell"—like, that wasn't him.

But he was a salesman when I was growing up, and I saw him in the way that he communicated on the phone. I saw the way that he communicated in person. I saw the handshakes. I saw the eye contact. I saw the way that he treated people. I saw the way that he treated people when they would leave, too. And so over time, I just kind of formulated this opinion of, "Okay, this is the way that we operate."

And, especially, we didn't have the Internet and social media and all that when I was a kid. So I only had the examples that were being shown to me. I didn't have other people to look up to outside of what you saw on TV. There was no content. There was no YouTube. I didn't read things at that time. Kids my age, we didn't read anything. But it was very much like you just treat people the way you want to be treated. And as mundane as that may be, and it's not just mind-blowing advice, it's what I was shown.

And then my grandma was this very happy, very joyful, very grateful person. Outwardly expressed her gratitude, really for just being alive. She faced a lot of stuff in her last 15 years, a ton of health problems. Mentally, she was always there, but health-wise, her body really just gave up on her. But I saw the way that she handled it and the grace that she had and the joy that she continued to put out in the world and the people around her, despite her own "suffering" and physical pain that she went through.

In years later, removed from all that, I'm like, "Oh ..." All the lessons that I was being taught that I had no idea I was learning at the time started to really come to fruition as I faced challenges. And, look, I know we talked before. My problems are first-world problems. I'm not going to make any mistake about it. But they're still my problems, and they're still things that I have to deal with.

So at the end of the day, I have to pull from some of those examples of what I was shown and the way that they handled adversity and figure out, okay, what fits with what they showed me? How do I handle adversity? And then how can I get a little bit better at it, too? Because I coach people, and I have for years and years and years. And those people faced adversity, and I want to be a resource for them as well.

So, really, it was just examples that I was given that ended up being the foundation of who I am now. And, thankfully, I was very blessed to have a great father and a great grandmother and really great examples because not everybody has that. I was talking—

Lori Saitz: Right. Well, I was just going to say that's how everybody learns. Most of what they learn is by watching the people around them. Whether they have good role models or not, that's how beliefs are instilled. It's not so much by what people tell you. It's by how they act.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. I was talking to a buddy of mine last week on my podcast, and what shaped him, again, was his upbringing, but the other way. He was like, "That's what I don't want to be. I don't want to be like my father. I don't want to have a household where I'm never present for my children. I don't want my kids to have to raise my other kids because of decisions I've made." And again, thankfully for him, he chose that route. He could have chosen the same route.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: Which, you know, we see that all the time. People just repeat that vicious cycle of toxic behavior until somebody—somebody's got to be the breaker of that chain.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: And, again, thankfully, I had great examples. So I get to continue to instill that in my kids and the people around me as well.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, that's awesome. But you had some challenges in the earlier part of your life as well, as a young adult, that I'm sure the lessons you learned from your dad and your grandmother helped you get through. But we all still have those stumbling blocks. That's one of the points where you said everything was fine but wasn't fine.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah, for sure. As a fitness professional for 20-something years, I started in a big box gym, and I got married really early and divorced really early. So I'm trying to start a career. And then, all of a sudden, I find myself—I'm a single father and managing those things. And, again, that's stuff a lot of people go through, but it's still your stuff to go through it.

And it's interesting because my dad has always been such a great supporter of me, almost to a fault, where it's like there's a few times in life I just wish he would have called me out on my shit. He would be like, "I don't know if you're making good choices here or not." But again, it was super supportive.

And then I did well early in my fitness career, and so I decided, "Well, I'm doing well, so I'm going to go do my own thing." And I had this business partner. That didn't work at all, and there were all these red flags. But I was so stubborn in what I wanted that I was at the time—I don't know that I necessarily see things as a sacrifice, but I made concessions to make something happen that I probably shouldn't have. And I pushed and pushed and pushed because there was this selfish part of me that was like, "But I want that."

And I've never been one to like, "I'm going to prove them ..." I don't know. I've kind of operated with a level of confidence where I don't have a lot of people that have ever told me I can't do this or I'm not capable of doing that. But I don't hear those things. I don't have the haters that a lot of people talk about. And I'm sure there's people out there who hate me because I'm so happy. I got that.

So life starts coming at me. Again, I'm a single father. I'm trying to start a gym. And that's hard because I had no idea what owning a business meant at 20-something years old. And then I find myself in another relationship. I have another kid. So now, we've got two baby mamas. That relationship doesn't work. So, obviously, I've got some relationship issues that I haven't figured out. And that's one thing I didn't have a great example of.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: My dad was married several times. And, again, he treated them kindly. I saw chivalry. I saw a gentleman. And I don't know what happened. That wasn't any of my business.

Lori Saitz: Right. Because from a kid's perspective—right. We don't know.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. That wasn't my business at the time. But, again, nobody taught me how to have a healthy relationship either. So now I've got business struggles and relational struggles, and I don't know of two bigger struggles in life that a person can face at the same time.

Lori Saitz: Right. What did your dad do as a career? Was he an entrepreneur?

Marc Zalmanoff: He sold everything. He sold homes, shoes, pianos, cars. We owned a car lot. Most of my middle school to high school, we literally owned a car lot. It was a used car lot in Sherman, Texas, and it was at a time where you could still find really nice used cars. His market was basically parents who were buying kids their first car. And at that time, for four or five grand, you could still get a really nice working vehicle that he would put me in if that needed to be the decision. So he just sold things.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. I was asking because I didn't know if you had a role model as a business owner.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. I mean, really, it was him.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, okay.

Marc Zalmanoff: But, again, when you look at—like, we lived on the car lot. So I never saw P&L. I didn't know any of the inner workings other than, "Oh, we put nice cars on the lot. We take good care of them. We sell them to people." I was like, "Oh, that seems easy, relative [10:21 inaudible]."

Lori Saitz: Right, right. And the gym industry is not—I mean, no business is "easy," but you have so much capital investment in equipment.

Marc Zalmanoff: It's equipment. It's overhead. I live in Frisco, Texas, where my gym is located. It's one of the fastest-growing cities in America, which means rent is not cheap. And I'm in an industrial building. We've got the big garage bay door. There's no heat or AC in the part of the gym where we work out. There's literally three other gyms.

Lori Saitz: So I've heard.

Marc Zalmanoff: There's three other gyms in my parking lot. Like, right across from me, there's more gyms. And people will say their industry is saturated. And, yeah, maybe it is. Maybe it's not. But the gym industry is hard, and I know very few people that are operating what's called a boutique-style gym like mine that really, really excel. And most of them have had to go online to supplement the income because there's such high turnover. The client turnover is enormous. The cost of acquisition of a client is enormous. And rent keeps going up. It never gets cheaper. You know?

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: And we can only charge so much in certain business models. Otherwise, there's a tendency—you can really price yourself out. If I want to charge a lot more than I charge right now, I would really have to move locations and create a different type of experience. So I have this gritty, hard-working style of workouts where people come in, and there's some pride that comes along with that. We do hard shit in the gym.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: And for most of our clients, it's the hardest physical thing they will do any day of the week. But there's some level where, like, if you're charging $1,000 or more a month for training, there's also Life Time Fitness down the road, and people can pay $1,000 a month to train down there. And it's nice, and it's bougie, and there's a sauna and a spa.

Lori Saitz: Right. Exactly. To have the resort-style experience.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: I understand people come to you for burpees.

Marc Zalmanoff: I don't know if they come to me for them—

Lori Saitz: That's what they're served?

Marc Zalmanoff: —but they 100% receive them because I'm a giving person. You know? I like to share the love.

Lori Saitz: I know that about you. Yes.

Marc Zalmanoff: So fun. People who have adversity to burpees, it's hilarious. To me, it's like—I'm not saying they're easy, but it's literally your own body getting on the ground and getting back up. But you do enough of them, it's challenging, for sure. Take your breath away. That's for damn sure.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, for sure. I've been in that. Yeah, I've done them. So, then how did you move from the challenges? So you mentioned your business partnership that didn't work out. Let's go there first and then come back to the personal relationship, your partnerships that didn't work out. But how did you work through that, or how did you get—what was that experience entirely?

Marc Zalmanoff: So we co-owned a gym, literally 50/50. And it just got to a point where I'm like, "This isn't working. I'm broke." Like, broke-broke. And I literally just left. I took the people that I was training at the time that were—the clients were the gym's clients, but there had been this division because of the times that we worked. Like, I typically worked mornings. He typically worked afternoons. So it's like all the people in the morning got me. All the people in the afternoon got him. And I just told all my people, "Hey, I can't do this anymore. I'm leaving. I found a place to train. If you want to follow me, I'd be super grateful for you to follow me." And most people did, which was awesome.

But, again, I just ended that. I was like, "I'm out." And that's the last time I ever talked to this guy.

Lori Saitz: So you just walked out the door, and you're, like, "See you, dude."

Marc Zalmanoff: "Peace out." Because at that time, I didn't have good counsel. I didn't have bad counsel. I had no counsel. Really, I had zero counsel in my life. I didn't have people that I could confide in. I didn't have people that I could turn to and say, "Hey, I'm really struggling with this." And so that's all I knew to do, was just leave. So there were several years where business was just a struggle.

Again, I was training people out of somebody else's gym, paying them rent for the space. So when we talk about fine, it was fine. It was never great. There were times it was really, really good. And, again, it didn't necessarily rob me of my joy, but I know that there was more, and I didn't know how to find it. And so just years of being a couple of clients away from breaking through, but also being a couple clients away from breaking. And doing odd Internet jobs to make up income on the weekend. Anything I could do to support—because now I've got two kids, and I'm a single dad. I'm trying to figure that out.

And so what ended up happening was several years later—this was probably seven or eight years ago now—I started to see that there were other fitness people out there doing well. And I was like, "Huh. Well, that's refreshing because I don't know any of them." Literally, everyone that I knew—

Lori Saitz: Right. But once you see—

Marc Zalmanoff: —was okay. No one was doing great.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. But once you see a role model who is doing what you would like to be doing, then it becomes possible for you.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. I'm like, "Huh, this is something." And I came across a coach that—this was really kind of early on in this—I know business coaching has been around forever, but as Facebook grew and the rise of Internet coaches grew, I came across this guy who had been in the fitness industry for 20 years at that point, and he had this program.

So I joined his program. I was able to join his program, and I started getting around other people who were pushing for more and striving for more and being successful. And that was probably one of the biggest turning points was that initial coaching group. And I've learned a lot more from other groups since then.

But that was the turning point, was me getting in the room, paying to be in the room with those people. And then as time went on, there were business strategies and techniques and things. And so it started to immerse me in this coaching realm of, like, well, what else is out there? Who else is out there? What else are people saying?

And we've all heard of Tony Robbins and John Maxwell. And in my head, those were the two prevalent guys for decades on end. Right? We read John Maxwell books when I worked at Life Time Fitness in management to grow our own personal leadership. But it kind of came back around to that, like, "Oh, you have to work on yourself if you want things to be better." Like, what a concept. Right? Like, who knew?

Lori Saitz: Yeah, right.

Marc Zalmanoff: Who knew my own personal shit would affect everything else that I do? And I was fortunate to begin to surround myself intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally—just, you know, fate would have it—around people that were in that realm of, "Hey, why don't you work on you? What are your habits? What are your routines? What are you reading? What are you listening to?" Because now podcasts were growing, and people really started to pour into that and get away from watching TV at night and all those things. So it's little by little.

Like The Tim Ferriss Show. That's one of the biggest podcasts in the world. I started listening to him. And he has all these world-class guests on that started to expand my mindset to what's out there and different ways of thinking and different approaches. And it's when I was introduced to stoicism, which, to this day, I'm a huge fan of stoicism. I read philosophy all the time. I have a tattoo on my arm that says "memento mori." And so I kind of started to immerse myself in that. And eventually join a couple of other masterminds where, again, the real primary focus was: work on you. And that became the theme.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. And I just want to point out something here, too, because, for people who are listening, it's not necessarily—you don't have to be in physical proximity to people, because some people don't have the resources or don't have whatever. They don't have the time to physically get themselves in a group where people are doing the same thing and up-leveling.

But we have so many resources that—like you said, podcasts or video on YouTube, all of that stuff, to help raise your vibration, raise your energy, put you in the right environment around the "right people" who are thinking more in line with where you might want to go. I just wanted to point out that—

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah.

Lori Saitz: —there are so many resources that you don't have to physically be in a room with somebody.

Marc Zalmanoff: The majority of the guys that I talk to on a regular basis that are in this circle of people that I associate with are nowhere near me. One of my really good friends, he comes to the gym. He lives locally. We chat. We've done business together. We've coached together. We've vacationed together. We've done a lot of things together. But outside of him, most of the people that I look to, to confide in or mastermind with or whatever, they're all over the place. And one of the coaching groups that I belong to, we meet up once a quarter throughout the year. We go two days. We go meet up somewhere. We do events and things like that.

But the world is different than it used to be even 10 years ago. You want to learn something? Go to YouTube. I've been kind of mentoring ... So I have a 16-year-old son. He's got an older brother that's not my son, but a great kid. We have a great relationship. And he's started a car detailing business. And so I've been voluntarily helping him because I want to see him succeed. He's a great kid. He's got a great work ethic. He's really driven. He's got purpose in his life. And I love seeing it. He's 19. Right? Look, we complain about these—I don't know what generation that is right now, but we complain about these kids.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: But there's a lot of kids like him that want it, but they don't know where to go. So I've been mentoring him. I was on a call with him last night. We were working through some CRM stuff. And he's like, "Oh, yeah. I've been on YouTube learning how to do things." I'm like, see, right there, he took some initiative. Almost anything you want to learn nowadays is on YouTube.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: So if we don't have the money yet, if we don't have the resources to pay to be in groups, there's so much content. Find the people that you resonate with and go listen to their stuff. And go listen to their podcast, and go watch their YouTube, and go watch their Instagram, and go buy their book for $10. Never has information been so accessible to everyone.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. I just wanted to point that out when you were talking. So you can go on now about how you got yourself around the right people and started up-leveling.

Marc Zalmanoff: And so the pouring into myself and really taking a step back for a second—quit worrying about the business side and how much we need to worry about revenue when you pay rent every month. But it was, "Okay, what can I do for me to be a better human being," and not, "How can I be a better this or that?" No, no, no. Just me. How can I show up in the world better?

And when I started doing that, lo and behold, all of a sudden—"all of a sudden"—I have this great relationship with this woman, and my business starts to do a little bit better. And I look around, and my circle of friends is growing. Again, it was almost non-existent. I just didn't have people around me. And all of a sudden, I've got these men that I look up to. Very specifically men because, as a man, sometimes we have this tendency to isolate ourselves. And then we go, "Everything's fine. It's fine. It's all fine. Everything's fine." And then they go home and suffer every day in their own shit because they have nobody they can go talk to about it.

Lori Saitz: Well, in a lot of ways our society has shaped that. That's what we expect, or that's what we have created.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. I think it's a little easier now. I think there's more people talking about it. But that's definitely part of my mission with "The Joy Code," is targeting men that need that help, that need a place. You know, from the outside, they look successful. They appear to be successful. They make great money. But they're not happy, and they are not fulfilled. And they don't know how to remedy that because most men will just work more. "I guess I'll just make some more money and see what happens."

Lori Saitz: Yeah. And I was having a conversation with a friend's husband a few weeks ago about this and how men are—like, women will get together, and even if they don't really know each other very well, they'll just start chatting. You can bond, and you can start talking about the most intimate stuff in 10-15 minutes. But men don't do that. They'll talk about sports. They'll talk about politics, maybe. They'll talk about work.

Marc Zalmanoff: Food.

Lori Saitz: Food, yeah. But not their inner feelings. Not their emotions. God, they have emotions? What? What are those?

Marc Zalmanoff: Oh, it's so true. So true.

Lori Saitz: And I think that's to the detriment of not just the individual, but as you were talking about earlier, to the family, to the society as a whole.

Marc Zalmanoff: We have to learn how to communicate better. And communication, I believe, is the key to everything—business relationships. Spirituality, even. All of it falls back to communication. And, look, we don't need this enormous group of people. I always say Jesus had 12, but He really only had three. You just need a couple of people.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Marc Zalmanoff: But looking at males, as a man, if you've got two or three people that you could talk to and those men have two or three other people they can talk to, and those men—that's how we facilitate change. That's how we get better as a society because you start to create this network of men who feel comfortable. Not with everybody. You don't got to air all your shit out on social media. But just a couple of people to go, "Hey, man, I'm really struggling right now. Life is hard right now. My business sucks. My marriage is rocky. I don't have a great relationship with my kid." Whatever it may be. We need an outlet for that.

And even if it's just to outwardly voice that, not looking for a solution at all. Even just saying it out loud is a powerful exercise to be like, "Okay, it's real." But a lot of times when we say our problems out loud, they don't sound as bad because in our head, we have all these stories and things floating around. But then you're like, "You know, I really need to work on my marriage. Okay. Well, I can do that. There's solutions to those things. It's not easy. I can make that happen." Instead of this story I make up in my head of how everything's going to shit, and it's all going to fall apart tomorrow.

Lori Saitz: Right. Well, it's when you pull those demons out of the closet, they're not as scary.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah, for sure.

Lori Saitz: And what's that thing, something about "shame lives in darkness."

Marc Zalmanoff: Yes, for sure.

Lori Saitz: And once you say it out loud and it comes to light, now you're like, "Oh, okay."

Marc Zalmanoff: And we can see on social media, you know, there's some guys that have put their shit out there. And for the most part, they're never judged because if somebody has been suicidal, if somebody has been divorced, if somebody has been addicted to drugs or porn or whatever, so have millions of other people.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: So they put the story out, and everybody's like, "I feel you." And they're like, "Oh, shit. Really? It was just that easy? I can talk about it? Oh, my gosh."

Lori Saitz: Right. In the meantime, they've been—

Marc Zalmanoff: And we need more of that.

Lori Saitz: —hiding in the closet with it for years and torturing themselves with the shame and the guilt. And, right, once it becomes free—

Marc Zalmanoff: Nobody is facing anything that somebody else has not faced before.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: Again, I read a lot of stoicism. If you read Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, which was his own personal journal, if you change the verbiage of the way that he spoke or read it in a modern day translated language, you wouldn't know that that was 2,000 years ago because it's the same problems. It's the same shit that all of us continue to face to this day. It's the same battle between bravado and humility and grace and compassion and greed and humbleness. It's the same thing. We haven't really changed that much. The surroundings have changed. The environment has changed, but human beings haven't changed that much.

And I think it's important to remember that you are facing something that literally millions upon millions of people have faced and will face at some point, which means there's a blueprint out there to facilitate the change that you want. Somebody's done it. Go find it. Seek it.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. So that leads into what you're doing now, the new project you're working on. Tell me about that.

Marc Zalmanoff: So, "The Joy Code". Two years ago, I had this idea. And then my wife got pregnant, and so we put all our focus on the baby. We did a home birth and had a midwife. It was amazing. Right? And then we had the baby.

Lori Saitz: Yes.

Marc Zalmanoff: And my wife is also a business owner and a coach. And so we really spent the first half of last year trying to figure out life again, and manage time and manage our own personal stuff and figure out what everything looked like. We were searching for a nanny, and it was really survival mode. We were talking about it over the weekend. I know it wasn't like, "Oh, where am I going to eat," but it was true survival mode like, "What are we doing now?" So it was not a time to launch anything new.

But I had the opportunity to work with a couple of men last year who had reached out to me for help. And I've always been a happy person. I've always been a joyful person. Most of the time you find me with a smile on my face. Most people that know me would say I'm the happiest person they know. I kick people's asses in my gym, but we have a lot of fun in here, too.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. That's what makes you happy, kicking their asses.

Marc Zalmanoff: It does fill me up. It definitely fulfills me.

Lori Saitz: I know you.

Marc Zalmanoff: So I was able to really help these two men work through some things and lead them to what they were looking for. I didn't provide the answer to them, but I asked a lot of questions. I gave them exercises to do. I gave them my own personal experience of things that I've worked with clients over the years. And so when things reoccur in my life, I do my best to pay attention to it. And I've had a lot of business ideas over the year that literally just faded away somewhere, and I'll see something pop up on Facebook or something like, "Oh, yeah. I remember trying that, and that didn't work."

But this idea of helping other people find more joy and fulfillment in life keeps coming back. And so as we approached the end of 2023, we have a regular schedule. We have a great nanny. Baby's a little bit easier because he's one now. So he's got a schedule and a cadence to him. My wife's finding her groove back with her life and her business stuff. And I'm like, "All right. Well, it's time."

And so I launched this initiative. I'm still working out the kinks. Like any infancy stage of a business, I'm still figuring out—like, I know the purpose behind it. I know what I'm really good at. Still working out, like, how do I facilitate that? There's definitely two prongs to this, where one is more of the public. Like, I'm just looking for people who really want to be coached in that realm. And then there's going to be a corporate side where I go into companies to help with employee engagement and job satisfaction and those things like that. But it's utilizing the skill set that I built over 20-something years of learning how to live life with joy despite what's going on.

And for those listening, I personally define joy as a deep-seated sense of peace and fulfillment that is not affected by the external.

Lori Saitz: Yes.

Marc Zalmanoff: It doesn't mean you're always happy. It doesn't mean you always have a smile on your face. It doesn't mean that you can't experience sadness and anger and anxiety and all those other things. It just means at the end of the day, I'm still content with me as a human being. And that if everything around me crumbled, I may be sad and I may be angry, and I'm going to have some shit to deal with, but I'm still internally going to be a joyful person. And that's hard for a lot of people because a lot of people I've encountered have never experienced what that feels like because they've always been in chaos and turmoil and trauma.

But I have a system that I know works, because I've seen it work over and over again, where I can lead people down that path. And everybody doesn't need to be the same, and everybody's level of joy and contentment and fulfillment is going to be different. But I truly believe that if we can do that for more people in this world, then the world gets better and we don't have all this—look, you've been on the Internet. It's a cesspool. We got it.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: But you don't have to contribute to it. You can keep scrolling past things that you don't like. You can not have an opinion. What a concept. You could not have an opinion on something. It's one of most freeing feelings in the world, by the way.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. Or you could just stay off the Internet.

Marc Zalmanoff: I can't wait for the day.

Lori Saitz: I mean, really. You don't have to be on it, or you don't have to be sucked into it.

Marc Zalmanoff: That's the truth right there. And I've curated my social media to where I only see what I want to see.

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: So if there's people that I've followed or that are friends with me or whatever that are just negative all the time and always—I just hide them.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, same.

Marc Zalmanoff: I don't delete them because I want them to see my shit. I definitely want them to see what I'm posting. I just hide them so I don't see them anymore. Great.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, you can do that. I've done that, too. Yeah.

Marc Zalmanoff: So fun.

Lori Saitz: It is.

Marc Zalmanoff: But, yeah, I'm really excited because this is something that I'm extremely passionate about, that I know I can facilitate long-lasting change in people. And the ripple effect of that is huge. It's the butterfly effect that we'll never know how many lives we affect by change like that. If I can go into a company and help the worker over there live a more joyful, fulfilled life and he takes that back home to his wife and kids, and they see a better father and a more present husband and a better leader for the household just because he has more joy in his life, and they start to see that example growing up and that example around them, and those kids show up differently, and they're a little more compassionate in the world—

Lori Saitz: Right.

Marc Zalmanoff: Again, that's how change happens. So instead of this, you know, whatever people would call it—downward spiral of morality in our country and in this overbearing selfishness that's very selfish in a bad way—we get people going, "No, I'm going to protect myself and protect my joy and happiness so I can serve others in a greater capacity." And that's what I'm trying to do.

Lori Saitz: Exactly. And I'm going to keep saying this, that selfish is different than self-care. And even "selfish" as a word is not necessarily a negative connotation. We've created it to be that, but being selfish in taking care of yourself so that you can be a better person for the rest of the world. Nothing wrong with that.

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. It's the oxygen mask analogy. They always tell you, "Put your mask on first so you can help the person next to you because if you're passed out, you ain't helping shit."

Lori Saitz: Right, exactly. All right. So, two more questions for you. One, you're already a happy person, and I know you're super energized because you transfer that to your clients. What's the song that you put on when you need that extra boost of energy, or maybe when you're trying to inspire people to do more burpees?

Marc Zalmanoff: So I have two. I love this question. I've asked this question on social media before, and I'm always woefully intrigued at the responses I get. In the gym, if I'm really trying to get people to move, especially with burpees, it would be "Bodies" by Drowning Pool. And for those of you who don't know, that's a song that says, "Let the bodies hit the floor" over and over again.

Lori Saitz: Okay.

Marc Zalmanoff: I'm like, how appropriate a song.

Lori Saitz: Very appropriate.

Marc Zalmanoff: Let the bodies hit the floor. For me, this is interesting because this came up last week. I was doing a really heavy deadlift, and I have a song that I've used for probably 15 years that is my heavy-lift song. I know the cadence of the song. I know exactly when the part hits that I'm going to lift the weight that I'm going to lift. If I'm squatting, I know when to step under the bar. If I'm deadlifting, I know when to approach the bar and grab the bar and roll it out and roll it back in.

And it's almost like Pavlov's dog. I've trained my nervous system to respond to that specific song so I have this adrenaline rush in that moment, which is—

Lori Saitz: I love that.

Marc Zalmanoff: It's a weird thing to do, but it can be done.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Marc Zalmanoff: And the song, because I was a wrestling fan for years—I still watch it. If it pops up, I'll watch it. So there's a wrestler, Triple H, who—I don't know—he's like co-owner of WWE now. His theme song is called "The Game," and it's by a group called Motörhead, which is a huge rock band. They have been for years.

But the song itself, when he comes out to the ring and that song's playing, he's got this whole cadence. And he comes out, and he kind of hulks himself up and spits water in the air. And it's this spectacle. Right? And so I used to see that playing in my head. It was the same thing for me. So it's like when he's flexing his muscles and spitting the water in the air, that's when I'm lifting the weight. And I'm just training myself like that. And it works almost every time. Sometimes I bite off a little more than I can chew, but that's my song right there.

Lori Saitz: That is magnificent. And I've got to give it to you, Marc. That is the most detailed explanation of why a song is your song that I've ever heard.

Marc Zalmanoff: It should matter. There should be some meaning behind it. If it's just a song where you're like, "I don't know. I just kind of like the song," that's fine. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But I think when there's some attachment to it, it allows your body to really respond in the way that you want, especially when we're talking about trying to hype yourself up. It's one thing to get in the mood for something or, you know, I'm going to meditate, so I need this. But when you're trying to literally almost artificially create some excitement and hype and adrenaline, you need something that means something to you.

Lori Saitz: Yeah, absolutely. And you are giving me an opportunity to talk about, for a second, why I even ask this question. And it's because, for me, music has always been—and there's science and research behind it, too—it's very powerful, music. And especially when you have it personalized to, like, "This song means this to me," or, "When I hear this song, it gets me into this mood or it inspires me to take on this accomplished this task or challenge."

Marc Zalmanoff: Yeah. There's a video. I think I saw it last year. It's this lady in a wheelchair. She looks very old. And I don't know how cognizant she really is on a regular basis. She kind of looks like she's just there. And they put some headphones on her and start playing classical music or ballet or something. So back when she was a young girl, she did ballet. And yet she's in a wheelchair.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Marc Zalmanoff: And the music starts playing, and all of a sudden, you see her start moving her arms like a ballet dancer. And it was the music. Like, it literally just flipped something in her brain that's like, "Hey, we remember this." And it was incredible to watch how much, in those two or three minutes, she was alive again.

Lori Saitz: Yeah.

Marc Zalmanoff: We're so worried about medications and all these medical techniques and stuff that we forget how powerful some of that stuff actually is.

Lori Saitz: Yeah. They've done a lot of studies in nursing homes as well where they have residents who are completely unresponsive until you put on some music.

Marc Zalmanoff: It's amazing.

Lori Saitz: It really is. All right. Now, "Joy Code." Or if somebody wants to get in touch with you to have you kick their ass in working out or whatever. Either way, how do people get in touch with you?

Marc Zalmanoff: The easiest way really is social media. I'm on social media all the time. Probably too much. Facebook or LinkedIn. I got on LinkedIn.

Lori Saitz: Okay, all right.

Marc Zalmanoff: I avoided that platform for so long.

Lori Saitz: It's not bad.

Marc Zalmanoff: No, it's great. In my head, I was just making it to be something like "Oh, one more thing." But it's an awesome platform. It's a great way to connect with people. But Marc Zalmanoff on Facebook. Marc Zalmanoff on Instagram. Marc Zalmanoff on LinkedIn. Marczfitness—that's M-A-R-C, the letter "Z," fitness.com is my gym website. And we're working on some "Joy Code" stuff, but I'm not hard to find. Literally, just Google my name. My phone number is probably somewhere.

Oh, my book. I have a book called Make Good Choices on Amazon. I have a podcast called Make Good Choices. I'm not a hard dude to find. I could never commit a crime because I'd have nowhere to go.

Lori Saitz: Well, there's some incentive to keep you on the straight and narrow. Yeah, cool. I'll have links to that in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for joining me today on Fine is a 4-Letter Word, Marc.

Marc Zalmanoff: So fun. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. And for those of you listening, man, go live life. Put a smile on your face, nod your head yes if you want some stuff, and make good choices. It's too short of a time we're here to not do that.

Lori Saitz: I knew you were going to have to tell them to make good choices. I love that. All right.

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