Facing adversity and not sure how to get past it? In this series, word-renowned inventor / entrepreneur Johnny G sits down and shares his story and how he has overcome numerous adversities in his life. You can take these steps and principles and apply them to your life to beat the adversity you are facing.Sign Up to Watch
-Because to find this balance and this happiness we have to face the challenges that are in front of us.
-Johnny, thank you for allowing me to visit you at your dojo here, my friend.
-Good to meet you, Clay.
-Hey, today we are talking about facing adversity. And I know this is something you're very passionate about. Something that you believe that everyone needs to be aware of and know how to deal with. Talk to me about why it's so important for us all to learn how to face adversity.
-The thing that we look for most is happiness. And the Chinese say that happiness is a combination of harmony and balance. So to look for this peaceful place we freak out if it doesn't happen. And most of the time we're pushing to find this balance, this equilibrium. And adversity is an interesting concept because to find this balance and this happiness we have to face the challenges that are in front of us. So most people shy off when we facing the adversity. But it's the blessing of the adversity that takes us to the place of equilibrium.
-I don't know if you read a lot of Napoleon Hill, but he's this success author who wrote Think and Grow Rich, and he says that failure is a prerequisite to success. You're saying it's a blessing. It has to happen. It's a prerequisite thing?
JOHNNY G: Yeah.
-So, in your life as you think about your career and I'm sure you can think of countless examples but I think what happens is if we're not careful, if we go on a website, we watch an interview with a guy like you, we want to training and we go well it must be nice living here with the pool in the background and the dojo.
JOHNNY G: [LAUGHTER]
-It's probably easy for you. I would have no problem facing adversity if I could hop in that pool at the end of the day. Talk to me about some adversity you faced before the pool, before the dojo, before the success with the Krank Cycle, before the success with the Spin, before the success, I mean before the success what kind of adversity did you face?
-There where some major, major things that happened in the course of my life growing up. Being bullied at school that would be the furthest memory of how to come back to a Catholic boarding school as a day student every day and having Raymond McNorton pushing me around.
CLAY CLARK: Raymond McNorton?
CLAY CLARK: Is this--
-I must have been 11 years old and I never forgot his name.
-Have you Skyped with him recently? Is it cleared up now? Is he good?
JOHNNY G: Nah, I let it go.
-OK. All right.
-Letting go is another good thing. Coming to America I had this dream of finding out in 1979 what was happening in the American fitness market. There was this guy by the name of Jack Lalanne. And Jack was making these headways in America motivating people at a time where I think it was Dale Carnegie making friends and influencing people.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah, Yeah.
-The first motivational book I ever read.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah, It's a good one.
-It was a good one. It was a great one. So I want to make the sabbatical to America and my mom says, you know South African is really in a tough place. My father said if you go to America and you want to learn about the gym business make sure you learn everything you can, come back to South Africa, and continue your part. Three days after I arrived I get held up at gunpoint. No money.
-Three days after you arrived from South Africa.
JOHNNY G: Yeah and the tough thing was that the South African government would only give you 3,000 rand which was about at the time $1,000 allowance, travelling allowance.
CLAY CLARK: That's all you can bring.
-That's it. So you couldn't get money wired. Once you had your allowance that was it.
CLAY CLARK: OK.
-No more ticket to ride. So it's a Saturday morning and I've just come back from Gold's Gym. Had a workout and this was right at the beginning of Gold's. They were on 2nd Street in Santa Monica and Muscle Beach had just opened up. So I went to Gold's in the morning and I wanted to go to Muscle Beach in the afternoon to watch the guys in the cage.
-The guys in the cage?
-They had like a cage.
-Yeah. And the guys used to go on the beach and train and everybody used to stand around and watch. It was amazing.
CLAY CLARK: That was the deal.
-That was the thing. So three days after I arrived, it's 10 o'clock in the morning, I'm reading the paper, my motel door is open and all of a sudden this guy with a big Afro walks in, he's got a gun, he kicks the door closed and says, "Freeze, give me your money." That wasn't the kind of adversity that I thought would happen in my lifetime.
-So that was than the bully. Now you find yourself-- you're there, you have a gun pointed at you. Do you just give him all your money?
-The funny part to this was I had my money in traveler's checks. So he said, give me your money. I said, I don't have any money. It was like a comedy show. So he said, well-- it got a little intense in the room. I said, I've got traveler's checks. The way it works is I sign them over to you. You take these traveler's checks and cash them. I signed the traveler's checks over to him.
-So you find yourself now-- I mean, once you've turned over the traveler's checks, did you lose your ID? Did you lose everything? Did you lose your--
JOHNNY G: No.
-Just the traveler's checks.
JOHNNY G: Just the traveler's checks. So if you can remember, you probably don't want to go back to that place. But if you can remember, what did you do, I mean, the 10 or 15 minutes afterwards? Do you just sit there and go, oh-- you didn't have a cell phone. It's 1979. I mean, what do you do? You just--
-I was absolutely freaked. And that feeling was a feeling that had taken me through, in retrospect, every difficult situation I've ever had was the same feeling, hopelessness, despair, no ability in that moment to put my arms around it, no control, just complete fear, paralyzed.
-So how did you go from there, you know, to overcoming adversity? How do you go from having no money now. You're living in a different country. You know, you're from-- I think you obviously spoke English. So there wasn't a language barrier, but you don't know anybody. You're in a new country. You have no money. How did you get on your feet? What did you do? I mean, how did you move from-- what did you do?
-I did the one thing that's kept me grounded through the course of my life. I went straight down to the beach. I had a pair of jeans on. I took my shoes off. I was in Santa Monica, one block from the beach. And the one thing that saved me my entire life was my ability to use and express myself physically. So what did I do? I got into the water. I went for a run up to my knees, and I ran and ran and ran till I was exhausted.
CLAY CLARK: Wow.
-I sat down on the beach and decided that I needed to get into a plan.
JOHNNY G: Yeah.
-Whoa. So did you-- what was your first job that you did after--
JOHNNY G: Selling the Ginsu knife.
-The Ginsu knife?
-Yeah, because you see when I sat down and I started to make a plan, the first thing I needed to think about was where was I going to sleep. So the most obvious place to sleep that night was on the beach.
CLAY CLARK: Is that what you did?
-I slept on the beach.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah.
-And then I took a walk the next morning, and I found myself on Fourth Street. But you see, I had already set up my mind that I wasn't going to go backwards. I was going to move forward. And I think this is something that I'd installed in a program within myself early on, that once you set up your mind, your body follows the mind. So once I knew that I wanted to stay and not run back to South Africa-- because I did have the return ticket. I was here on a 30-day holiday.
CLAY CLARK: Wow.
-So I could've bailed.
CLAY CLARK: You could've bailed.
-But bailing wasn't an option. See, my mechanism is to go down, really down, and then I start to resurrect. This is part of my behavior pattern.
-So you just kept on moving. You didn't go back. You decided not to go back home. And then you're selling Ginsu knives?
-Yeah, I'm on Fourth Street in Santa Monica, and I see a guy. He's got these blue and yellow boxes under his arm. So he comes up to me and he says, do you want to buy one of these? So I said, what is it? He says, it's a knife. It's called the Ginsu knife. I said, so show me the Ginsu knife. So he takes it out. And the first thing he does is take a can and he cuts through the can.
CLAY CLARK: Did he cut through a shoe as well?
-No, he didn't show me the shoe one.
CLAY CLARK: OK. [CHUCKLES]
-And so I said, how much is this? And he said, it's $5. And I said, that's funny, I used to make jump ropes in South Africa with plastic segmented pieces. And I used to sell them for 5 rand. I said, so how much do you make on each Ginsu knife? And he says, $1. So he says, why are you asking me these questions? And I said, because I think I can sell some of these Ginsu knives. Will you pay me $1?
CLAY CLARK: Really?
-And he said, I'll pay you $1, but you've got to carry the knives while I drive the car up the street. And every time you run out, you come to me. I'll give you the knives. At the end of the day, I'll pay you $1.
-Now I want to make sure we're hearing this because if you're watching this and you're thinking, are you kidding me? You go from the getting robbed to selling Ginsu knives to a dojo? But This is the kind of mindset you have to have. You have to fight through the adversity.
-That it. It's like there's no guarantee. I wasn't thinking dojo. I wasn't thinking pool. But I grew up in South Africa, and I was privileged. So I had a taste and a sense in my consciousness what a beautiful home looked like, what a tennis court looked like, what riding lessons looked like.
My father was a pharmacist, but he came from a tough place. You see, I think we learn from our parents. We learn from the people around us. His mother got married eight times.
-Wow. That's the ocho.
-Yeah, but it was rough for him because they put him in a boarding school through this whole period. So as an athlete, he managed to face his adversity. So part of this already started to bleed and come into my consciousness.
This type of thinking-- adversity, houses, where you would want to live, spend your time-- wasn't something I thrived-- no pun on Thrive 15 or being a Thriver. But what happened to me was I started to understand later that the things you're exposed to and the things that you like you can attract if you've been exposed to them.
-Yeah, Napoleon Hill says is you have to conceive something before you can achieve it. I always tell people the example, but when my wife and I were building our first home, I had never seen granite countertops. I never grew up around them. And so my wife, we talk about building this house, and I was thinking of all the different building materials and meeting with all the different builders. And I had no idea that granite was even a possibility.
And she had seen that. She had had some family members who had some nicer homes. She knew some people who had some nicer homes. And so when we were talking about building the house, I wasn't even aware of the building materials that could potentially go into a nice house. I'd never seen a nice house. So I didn't really know how that works. And so I had to conceive it before I could achieve it or start to believe that I could get there.
-But your partner, the person that you loved and respected more than anybody else, already had that vision. So the people you associate with, the weaker parts of what you don't have can be compensated.
My wife, for 27 years, she had visions of Bali, tropics, creativity. She was a stylist. She was into fashion. She was ahead of herself. She never had a creative outlet. So when we took this space, nobody would touch it. It was broken down and was the most dilapidated, depleted place in a good neighborhood.
So the dilapidation for me was possibly part of my cellular being, coming back from adversity. And hers was this creative genius when it came to not just vision but taste, feel. And the dojo became a reflection of her need to express herself. And this is how she expressed herself.
We were blessed from the first Ginsu knife to be able to follow our path, and this manifested. But I think manifestation is already in you, and you can learn it. But that's a hard part.
-You had just said three, in my mind, very profound things. And as we're talking about overcoming adversity, I think we don't want to skip these things, because you said three things that I know you live it. You've been living it. So I'm just going to kind of go back for a minute here.
You mentioned that my partner had things that she saw that I didn't see, so it compensated for my lack of ability to see it. Is that an action step that all the Thrivers can do is make sure you're surrounding yourself with people who can conceive maybe the world at a higher plane or a higher level than you can or people that have a bigger vision-- surround yourself with those people?
-That's why you dedicate to those people. They have everything you don't. Those are the prize gems. Those are the people you put your trust and faith in. You put your life in, so cold terms, in their hands-- if it's a wife, if it's a business partner. And this is why I think these relationships, when they break, are so painful.
Send us your email address, and our team of elite minds will get right on it.