Today we have a very special guest on the podcast—Wes Kennedy. Wes is a former Canadian Special Forces operator and sniper. That’s right.
After serving, Wes went on to start the Brotherhood of Life, which is the world’s premier training system for military and law enforcement men. He is the number one fitness, leadership and vision coach for warriors, as he calls them.
He helps his clients with their fitness, nutrition and health, plus with their mindset and visions. You may not think a Navy SEAL would ever meditate, but Wes uses meditation to square away everything in their lives and get these guys in the right mindset to be able to take on whatever comes their way.
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In This Episode Wes and I discuss:
- How Wes became a businessman
- What it takes to become a special forces operator
- What he would do differently now
- How Wes has been able to target his niche
- Similarities between being a special ops sniper and an entrepreneur
3:00 – 12:00 – Wes’s Transition from special ops sniper to businessman
12:00 – 16:00 – Targeting your niche through Facebook
16:00 – 18:00 – What skills all entrepreneurs must have
18:00 – 25:00 – Hindsight is 20/20
25:00 – 30:00 – Rapid-fire Questions
What You Missed:
In the last episode, we talked with Nicole Dunn, who’s actually my former publicist and helped me get on Dr. Oz, and The Doctors, and some really cool exposure media-wise.
If you want to learn more about PR and media, be sure to check out the previous episode:
What No One Tells You About PR With Celebrity Publicists Nicole Dunn
Today, I’ve got a very special guest, once again, who is actually a former sniper. That’s right. I’ve always had this fascination with snipers and Navy SEALs. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the movies, like Top Gun and so forth that I loved growing up.
Nonetheless, our guest today is Mr. Wes Kennedy, who is a former Canadian Special Forces Operator and sniper, as I just mentioned.
This interview is going to be awesome—as they all are—and what I love about Wes is that he has a really great ability to reflect and introspect, which is very unique for someone in that environment of Special Ops types of guys.
You don’t really think of someone who’s meditating and being reflective as being part of that type of tribe. You’re going to find out in this episode how he is helping other people who are in Special Forces or training to become a Navy SEAL, really high level people like that—and how he’s bringing this element of consciousness and awareness to those individuals, to really help them live an amazing life and accomplish their biggest goals. It’s really truly amazing.
Wes Kennedy is the founder of the Brotherhood Life, and he’s combined his real world experience as a Special Forces Operator and sniper with his passion for strength and conditioning, nutrition, and mental toughness—to create the world’s premier training system for combat athletes.
He provides the world’s number one fitness and leadership training for warriors, as he calls them, and he’s the bestselling author of Sports Vision Training for Shooting Performance and has coached hundreds of combat athletes around the globe to individual successes in their various endeavors.
If you want to learn more about what Wes is up to, you can head over to his website, brotherhoodlife.com. As always, we will have everything over at the show notes on the blog at healthpreneurgroup.com/podcast.
Without any further ado, let’s bring Wes onto the show.
Yuri: Wes, what’s up, my friend? Welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast.
Wes: Hey, brother, what’s going on? Happy to be on here. Thanks for having me.
Yuri: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s always nice to connect with fellow Canadians, and people who are doing some pretty amazing things. Now, you are very, I guess, unique in our space, because you have a background in Special Ops, which very few people that I know of have.
How did you go from that to building an online business?
Wes’s Transition From Special Ops Sniper to Businessman
Wes: Oh, great question, man. I think I just got to a point where I loved what I did.
I loved what I did as a Special Forces Operator, as a sniper, and I really enjoyed my time in, but there is … Like every job, it doesn’t have everything. And I just found there was something missing, there was something calling me to something different.
Initially, it just showed up as “I want to own a business.” I didn’t even really know what that meant at the time, but I knew I wanted to create something to live in a way where I could take my creativity each day, could take my ideas—and create something and put them into the world.
I was free to play and create and bring my gifts into the world. At the end of the day, I had to make a decision, and that decision was to get out and give this game a shot.
Yuri: That’s awesome. For the listeners, you focus mostly on the health and fitness side for warriors, as you call them. Tell us a little bit about what the business model looks like and how you serve your audience.
Wes: Sure, yeah. I do fitness and leadership training for military and law enforcement men predominantly. What that looks like is we have two different services right now.
We have a membership site. It’s a recurring revenue model, $75 a month, and they get a program through thefitbot.com, which is a great app, if you’re not already using it. They get nutrition coaching each month, our nutrition feedback. There’s group calls to hold them accountable. A lot of these guys come to me because they’re training for some sort of Special Operations selection, so they’re training to become a Navy SEAL or Special Forces or a Ranger, for example.
Then, our higher level service is quite a bit more intimate, so they get all the same things that they get in the membership site, in the Team Room, but in the Warrior Leader Project, things are a lot more individualized. Things are a lot more custom. We track things a lot more.
We change things day by day, and we provide a sort of what I like to call Embodied Maximum Leadership Training. It’s a combination of that, of coaching, of meditation work, embodiment work.
The intent is to really ensure that men aren’t just coming at this game with the idea that if I just show up extremely fit everything’s going to be okay—but they also get that everything else in their life has to be squared away, that everything else in their life, their being, the stuff in their physical environment, how they’re showing up in the rest of the world, is going to impact how they show up on selection.
Yuri: That’s awesome.
Yuri: I totally agree with that, I actually just had a conversation with my wife yesterday about this, in terms of hiring people.
When I look at hiring someone, from now on, I’m looking at their personal life as much as I am about what they’ve done in business and what they can bring to the team.
I’m sure, especially in the Special Ops arena, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you don’t have your shit together, and if your relationships are a mess, that’s going to affect how you probably perform in a real-life situation, would it not?
Wes: Absolutely. I think one of the most important things I want men to learn is that you can’t stay unconscious.
All those things that you want to push to the side, not deal with—maybe your wife’s complaints, or maybe you don’t want to deal with your financials or your budget, or maybe there’s some sort of trigger you developed in childhood that has you show up in the world a certain way, when certain events happen …
You can choose to remain unconscious to it. You can choose to just put all your energy into what you’re good at—which, for these guys is oftentimes just crushing workouts at the gym.
It doesn’t matter, because it’s still going to show up in your life, in terms of the results.
All those things they remain unconscious to, it’s still going to impact them.
One of my jobs is to get them conscious, become more conscious men, so you can actually address those things that we normally want to turn a blind eye to.
Yuri: That’s pretty cool. I want to ask you, so when people think of Navy SEALs and Special Ops … We don’t really think of a guy doing meditation or being aware of a lot of this stuff.
How do you bridge that gap from, who they think they need to be versus who you’re molding them into becoming?
Wes: I think this is going to be my favorite question of the interview. That’s great, yeah.
I’ve encountered that exact issue as I’ve grown my business, and this market or demographic or type of clientele—they aren’t particularly predisposed to be ready to hear about meditation and embodiment work.
It’s often very foreign to them, so I try not to position it so much as that. Although some of my clients coming in, they’re real rock stars; they’re my ideal clients—they get it.
With the rest of them, I guess I just sit down and I get on the phone call, have a conversation with them, get really clear as to where they’re at. What is it that they want right now?
We can only go so deep in a 30 to 45 minute call, but we try and go as deep as we can, try and connect the dots for them.
Once they’re in, that’s where the real work can begin. That’s where the art can start to take place, take form.
It’s funny to watch, because a lot of them will come to me with some—I don’t want to call it surface level, but let’s just go with that, for the lack of a better term—fairly surface level problems. “I don’t want to get shin splints,” or “I want to develop basic leadership traits, without really knowing what that is.”
Then, as the program goes along, we start to open these men up and create structures for them to be held accountable, for them to open up in front of other men, to be seen.
Damn! The stuff that they start sharing at that point is just stuff that men never normally share.
They’re all going through it, whether it’s inability to fully satisfy their woman at home sexually or emotionally, whether it’s maybe some discomfort around their own taboos. Maybe it’s their lack of ability to set clear boundaries or their lack of ability to have powerful enrollment conversations, so they can really create the possibility in their world—rather than being stuck in a set paradigm.
Once they get started, these men are ripe for it. It doesn’t seem like it on the surface, but it’s beautiful, because they’re all super ready to go deep.
Yuri: That’s awesome. I guess they’re just looking for a safe environment with other people, where they can share that. I’m sure it brings them together at a level we can’t even comprehend.
Wes: I like to think so. I like to think so.
Yuri: That’s awesome. How big is this market? I mean, it’s not women looking to lose weight, which is hundreds of millions of people. How big of a market are you getting in front of, and how are you doing that?
Wes: Yeah, it’s a significant size, and it’s very specific, so it’s good in that sense. I mainly market to men’s training, not just a Special Operations Unit, but any unit in the military where you have to go through a specialized selection process— which usually involves a one to three week selection phase.
Very physically demanding, mentally taxing, always under assessment. As well as police, so if somebody wants to go to SWAT, for instance, it’s a similar process. Men from Canada, U.S., U.K, Australia, and New Zealand, so what we call the Five Eyes Community. That’s what I mainly serve. It’s impossible to know the exact numbers.
There’s a certain number of men that actually become Special Operations soldiers each year. There’s a certain number that get to the selection phase. There’s a certain number that just start thinking about it ahead of time, definitely in the hundreds of thousands.
I reach them through online means. I reach them through blogging niche websites, such as SOFREP or the Loadout Room or military.com.
I do a podcast where I do two or three episodes each week. I do Facebook advertising to a lead magnet or a webinar.
They come at me in a few different ways, but it’s definitely all online. It’s not a business that I could sustain just with a local community, even if I was in a big city.
Targeting your niche through Facebook
Yuri: Sure. No, that’s pretty cool. It’s fascinating. I just want to talk about the Facebook ad side of things for a second. How do you—and again, I haven’t looked too much into this demographic—are you targeting specific pages they’d like? Are you targeting interests?
Because I guess it’s tough to target aspiration, like “I want to become a Navy SEAL.” Unless there’s a page that says, “I want to become a Navy SEAL,” it might be tough to find that audience. How exactly are you targeting people?
I ask this, because I think a lot of people listening to this might be thinking of their audience, and they’re thinking, how do I get in front of people who don’t raise their hand and say, “I’m this type of person”?
It’s more aspirational, like a name tag that they already have, so what does that look like for you, just from a Facebook ad perspective?
Wes: Yeah, well, one—retargeting and creating a lookalike audience for my mailing list is a great way to go about it.
Two, the interests that I can select when I create a Facebook ad are actually quite specific. There’s a lot: Navy SEALs, Army, U.S. Special Forces.
Now, how many of those are people that are actually seeking to be in one of those units versus somebody that’s just interested in the movies and the books about them, I’m not sure, and I probably cannot say. But, at the end of the day, our advertising and marketing and sales funnel is profitable, so I guess we’re doing at least something right.
Yuri: Yeah, at least you’re getting in front of the smaller segment of the right people, as opposed to just blanketing the entire U.S. with “Hey” … That’s cool. That makes sense.
Wes: Totally, yeah, totally.
Yuri: As you transitioned from sniper to online sniper, what’s been the biggest challenge you face in your business?
Wes: Hmm, good question. That would probably have to be managing vision. I’m very good at seeing the bigger picture. I’m very good at seeing possibility. I’m very good at having 38 different software programs running in the background and having two, three, four, five of them pop up whenever I can connect the dots and see how these different ideas correlate.
It also can cause me to spend way too much time on the future stuff or getting ready for what could happen down the road, rather than just the thing I need to do right now.
I try to take on a practice of “What do I need to do before I die, and what do I need to be doing right now?” It doesn’t always work, but that’s definitely my biggest challenge.
Yuri: Yeah, I think that’s a challenge that a lot of entrepreneurs can relate to, because, as the entrepreneur, you’re really the visionary, so it’s balancing that, spending time on the vision, and also what is it that we have to do today to move us closer to that vision?
That’s something I think pretty much all of us can relate to, so thank you for sharing that. That’s just pretty cool.
Wes: Absolutely. I think the other question I’ll ask myself, in relation to that, is, “What’s bringing me joy?”
It doesn’t really matter for me to get to the destination. It doesn’t really matter for me to just complete the journey. It’s the journey, for me, that’s really important.
If it’s not bringing me joy, it also doesn’t really matter.
Sometimes I will focus on future stuff that might not necessarily move me forward as quickly as possible, but it’s bringing me a lot of energetic satisfaction.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s huge. I mean, there’s obviously people, who look at business and financials and stuff as the metric of success, but I think you mentioned a great point there, which is: what if joy or energy is a metric?
What if there’s a currency for that? Because there might be activities that don’t necessarily bring you as much revenue, but you really enjoy doing those. I think there’s a really good argument to be made for spending a lot of time doing that stuff, as long as it’s not obviously sinking your business.
At the end of the day, if you’re not building a business you love, what’s the point of doing it?
Wes: Yeah, exactly, no point to me.
Yuri: Yeah, and that’s when people start sabotaging their own businesses and then start looking for other things to do. Yeah, that’s a good insight. From your experience, what do you think is the number one skill entrepreneurs must have for lasting success?
What skills all entrepreneurs must have
Wes: Hmm, number one skill entrepreneurs must have.
Yuri: Other than being an amazing sniper.
Wes: Ha ha, right. Give me one sec. You can edit this out now.
Yuri: No, that’s okay. We don’t edit here. We just roll right through, so it’s all good. Take your time.
Wes: You know, I think I’d have to say overcoming their beliefs.
I have a practice where every week or every month I sit down and I write down all the current beliefs I have.
Maybe it’s I need car insurance, or I can’t just do a dentist visit once a year, or I can’t get a lower rate on the online software I use, or I can’t afford to travel first class everywhere yet.
It doesn’t really matter what it is. I just brainstorm. I just put it all out on paper.
If I could go to the dentist once a year and have my teeth good to go, I would want to do that, but I currently don’t believe that that’s possible. I currently believe that I need to put time aside to go twice.
I do that for everything: my business, my life, my relationships.
Then I start to challenge that. Is this actually true? Do I actually need to keep doing this? Do I actually need to keep showing up this way? Do I still need to charge these rates or can I charge more? Could I charge less and make more?
What I’ve found is that, if entrepreneurs can do that on a regular basis, they’re going to have far greater results over time than someone that chooses one way of doing things or learns from one person, sets things in stone, and never really changes it. I mean, that’s the killer of any business—staying stuck in one spot and not adapting to the market, as well.
It’s also not adapting to the world changing or how you change or your needs or desires, et cetera.
Yuri: That’s pretty cool. It’s such a good point, because I think it’s very easy to get stuck into, “This is what other people are doing. I have to do that, as well.”
I think you bring up a really good point, which is just having that introspection and that reflection is so valuable.
I mean, if you’re not taking time away from your business to just think and do stuff like you just mentioned, you’re missing out on a lot of big breakthroughs, because I’m sure every single time you do that, you’ve got epiphanies left, right, and center.
Wes: Yeah, exactly.
Yuri: That’s great, yeah.
Wes: Some of them are not as comfortable as others.
Yuri: Yeah, sure, but it’s good. I think, as you mentioned with the men that you serve, sometimes you have to have those uncomfortable conversations with yourself to not mask what’s really going on, which is good.
It’s a good practice. I think I’m going to adopt that into my monthly routine. That’s good.
Wes: Very cool.
Hindsight is 20/20
Yuri: Okay, so let’s say you were to start a new business in a different market.
Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you started again, if anything?
Wes: I’d hire the right people.
I think, when I first got started, my business was so daunting because—damn!—I didn’t even know how to get a website. How do you get a website? What’s hosting?
Now, I’m at a point where I can see all the pieces I’ll need to start, at least 80% of any business, really, and I have more people that I trust for different pieces: bookkeeping, IT, sales coach, writing sales copy, etc.
I think I’d take a hard look at, “What is it that I need?” I’d invest in the right people, so it’s done right the first time, and, of course, it’s going to need tweaking and modifications and testing, over time, but I would just get really crystal clear as to what support I need and find that first.
Yuri: That’s awesome, yeah. What are one or two key things you look for in a person to hire, and maybe what are one or two warning flags that send alarm bells off when you’re talking to someone?
Wes: One or two things … I’d say, one would be joy. I need somebody that has a very outgoing personality. I would say I’m an outgoing introvert, so I usually benefit by having people on my team that can bring my energy up even more and that are just super pleasant with my customers.
I’d say the second thing I look for is somebody that doesn’t say, “I can’t.” Somebody that doesn’t get stopped at the first roadblock or the first hurdle. They’re a little bit creative. They’re able to come up with a solution, at least, even if it’s the wrong one.
They’re able to come up with some solution before they come to me.
I think a warning flag for me is somebody that just asks, “How much do I get paid?” first.
Somebody that asks, “How much do I get paid first?” before even understanding the other ways in which this work will prove valuable to them or the other benefits it has to offer—that tells me there’s not a whole lot of places I can enroll them into my vision, other than just paying them more.
That’s a tough spot to come from.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s some good insights there, for sure. Then, as you said, hiring is like …
You can buy speed through money or people, and I think if, as you mentioned—if you hire the right people, it makes everything so much more seamless. You’re not working yourself to the ground, like you would if you’re a one-man show.
Some good tips.
Wes: Right, I mean, making more money is great, and I have no objection to paying somebody more. It’s the values there, that, when that’s the only component of the conversation, and that’s a that’s a tricky one to have.
Yuri: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, if they don’t jibe with the core values of who you are, then it’s a no-go.
Wes: You’ve got it.
Yuri: Awesome, Wes. Well, this has been awesome. Are you ready for the Rapid Five?
Wes: Let’s do it.
Yuri: All right, so these are five rapid fire questions. Whatever comes to you, tip of tongue, top of mind, just blurt them out, and let’s have some fun here.
All right, so here we go. Number one: your biggest weakness?
Wes: Ooh, my biggest weakness is getting triggered when people don’t follow the rules.
Yuri: Your biggest strength?
Wes: Vision and possibility.
Yuri: Nice. One skill you’ve become dangerously good at, in order to grow your business?
Yuri: Nice. Sales are huge. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Wes: Take my dog out for a walk.
Yuri: What kind of dog do you have?
Wes: Golden retriever. Golden retriever, Paxton. She’s a beauty.
Yuri: Nice, awesome. Complete this sentence: I know I’m being successful when …
Wes: I spend part of my day 100% on and part of my day 100% off.
Yuri: Nice, and that’s great.
That’s cool, allowing yourself to be like, “It’s all good. I’m done now.” For me, it’s I’m the same way. I’m like, “I’m going to watch three hours of tennis now, and I’m good with that.”
That’s cool. I want to ask you one more question, before I forget. What do you find are maybe some crossover similarities between being a sniper and being an entrepreneur?
Wes: Attention to detail.
You’ve got to have some crazy good attention to detail, judging distance, knowing what’s behind you, so you can blend into the background. You’re shooting targets one, two, even over three kilometers—now that we have our Canadian JTF2 sniper that set a new crazy record.
So you have to have attention to detail to put all that together. I think it’s the same in business.
You’ve got to be able to keep all those moving pieces in the back of your mind at all times and make sure everything’s working together.
Yuri: Yeah, and, with that said, do you think everyone can be an entrepreneur?
Wes: I think, in some sense. I think, in the truest form of the word, I think everybody has a bit of entrepreneurial spirit.
Do I think that everybody is destined to be a number one and become a CEO and create an eight-figure business? No, definitely not. That goes for any specific trade.
I think, we live in a world of seven billion varied and interesting and fascinating, awe-inspiring people, and everybody has their own gifts to give to the world.
Yuri: Awesome. Well said, my friend. Well said.
All right, Wes, what is the best place for people listening to find you online, stay up to date with what you’re working on?
Yuri: Beautiful, and again, guys, we’ll link up to all that good stuff in the show notes over at the blog, so be sure to check that out after the show.
Wes, once again, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us, and I look forward to connecting with you soon.
Wes: Thanks, brother, it’s been an honor to be on the show.
There you have it, guys. Wes Kennedy in the Healthpreneur Podcast Den/Shark Tank/House, whatever you want to call it.
As you can probably tell from our conversation, Wes is a very reflective, introspective person. It was really fascinating to see the correlation between being a sniper, being an entrepreneur, some of the best practices that he uses—which I think is the one idea or ritual that he has of writing down his beliefs, limiting or not, and really challenging those on a regular basis.
That’s something I’m going to be putting into my journaling practice. I think that’s a great exercise. I challenge you to do something similar or pick something up from this episode that has resonated with you.
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