Episode 64 — TJ Anderson of Founder Health

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Welcome to the Welch Avenue Show, episode number 64.

Today we’re joined by TJ Anderson, a health coach who focuses on the startup community. A few weeks ago TJ joined us at Gravitate for First Friday and did a bulletproof coffee demo — you know the coffee with grassfed butter and MCT Oil mixed in — it was a big hit.

Hey, if you’re enjoying the Welch Avenue Show do us a solid and share the post for this week’s show on Twitter, Facebook or whatever social network you’re using these days. We’d love to grow the audience for the show and the sharing economy is a great way to get the word out.

Thanks and enjoy episode 64 with TJ Anderson.

Geoff Wood:    How are you doing today?

TJ Anderson:    Awesome. Geoff with a G.

Geoff Wood:    That is exactly. Since it's audio, we need to spell all of that stuff out.

TJ Anderson:    Amen.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. It's been awhile since we've recorded a podcast, a couple weeks. It's good to get back. You just stopped in today because we were talking about your business, Founder Health.

TJ Anderson:    Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    And some of the things that you're working on so thought it would be good to grab you and come up here and talk a little bit about Founder Health and what makes you an entrepreneur.

TJ Anderson:    You bet. I love the spur of the moment idea and the connection. I'm happy to be here.

Geoff Wood:    What is it that you do?

TJ Anderson:    What is it that I do as an entrepreneur, as a human being earning a living on this earth? As you mentioned, Founder Health, that is one of two main projects I have going on right now. I serve as a health coach for entrepreneurs within Founder Health. We help entrepreneurs and startup build their businesses without sacrificing their health. That's one of our fun little pitch tag lines. It's fancy for a lot more details.

Geoff Wood:    It's a good one. I have to imagine it's a hard business just because startup life is so focused on crush it, intensity, work all the hours.

TJ Anderson:    I think what's key there is the fact that the definition of success for health, for each and every person is different. It's about, for me what I've learned is allowing people to get clear on where they stand currently with their health, with their work/life balance, with everything in their life whether it's relationships, their physical activity, their nutrition, their productivity and really just take a step back and look at the bigger picture and ask questions for them to get clear on whether or not it is a top priority to start reinvesting more time and energy in their health.

    You're right. We do live in this society beyond entrepreneurship, but especially in entrepreneurship of work hard, play hard. It's the crush it mentality.
Geoff Wood:    We blame Gary V. for that.
TJ Anderson:    Hey. I don't know if Gary V. is the best image of work/life balance.
Geoff Wood:    It's funny because when I first met Gary, years ago, at about the time that Crush It came out, I remember he talked about this at a conference that I put on. He was like, all of you people- this will date this, but he's like, all of you people that are sitting at home watching Lost are missing out on building your businesses, that type of thing.

    Then booked him for a conference a couple years later after he'd had his kid and he's like, I take some of that back. That really shuffled his priorities once he had a kid, that type of thing. Even the guy who wrote the literal book named Crush It has changed a little bit of this.

TJ Anderson:    Totally. I love that. That's a great point. Priorities shift throughout life.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah.

TJ Anderson:    That's so important.

Geoff Wood:    How did you get into entrepreneurship health? Those two, that intersection, how did you get here?

TJ Anderson:    Definitely. Thanks for asking. I grew up the son of two hard working entrepreneurs here in Des Moines, Iowa. Born and raised in Des Moines. Post college I was living with them to save some money while working at a large insurance company in Des Moines.

Geoff Wood:    As many do.

TJ Anderson:    As many do. During that process, I started to notice the stress that naturally comes with running your own business. They run a unique business within entrepreneurship, more of like a small business mom and pop. Entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship. Stress will come with any sort of endeavor that requires that sort of risk taking.

    At the same time I was working at a cubicle seeing the lack of health at the company I was working at and the people I was around. That's when it just went off for me that this was a big problem in our country. My hunger for entrepreneurship was going off at the same time. 

    A year and a half after this first job in Des Moines at a big insurance company, I landed what I call my dream job. I'm writing a book now about maintaining balance and using your health as an asset as an entrepreneur. Just today I was writing the introduction about how that story got started. There was a mentor in Des Moines that helped create a position for me within the Healthiest State Initiative. You and I may have talked about this before a little bit. [inaudible 00:04:42]

Geoff Wood:    Yeah.

TJ Anderson:    I left that first big job and explored the non-profit world of community health and population health programming as a liaison between the Healthiest State Initiative, Live Healthy Iowa, and Hy-Vee the state of Iowa's largest private employer. That's-

Geoff Wood:    Hy-Vee's the largest private employer?

TJ Anderson:    They are.

Geoff Wood:    Interesting.

TJ Anderson:    Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    Sorry.

TJ Anderson:    Lot of employees out there.

Geoff Wood:    They do.

TJ Anderson:    Lot of grocery stores.

Geoff Wood:    And helpful smile.

TJ Anderson:    In every aisle.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. You were a liaison with them. How'd that-

TJ Anderson:    That's kind of how it all got started.

Geoff Wood:    Okay.

TJ Anderson:    Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    How did you get from there to founding your own company?

TJ Anderson:    Great question. Other mentors along the way kind of sprinkled some ideas out there. I was attending a conference called Succeed Faster for a couple years in a row that a good friend of mine, Adam Carroll, puts on.

Geoff Wood:    I know Adam.

TJ Anderson:    You know Adam really well. A lot of networking, just thinking outside of the box and experimenting with health coaching is when that really went off for me. I started as a health and wellness coach at the YMCA, the Healthy Living Center. I went through their training programs about two or three years ago. It was about that same time that I started my own business on the side thing and coaching people and consulting, starting my own business. Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    Cool. You've done lots of other things too, right?

TJ Anderson:    Yes.

Geoff Wood:    Male model.

TJ Anderson:    True.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah.

TJ Anderson:    Yes. 

Geoff Wood:    What was that experience like?

TJ Anderson:    Cue the Zoolander jokes. Yeah. It's interesting. It kind of bridges right into my story. About a year ago I landed in Miami Florida for modeling.

Geoff Wood:    Do you miss Miami on days like this?

TJ Anderson:    Like this?

Geoff Wood:    [crosstalk 00:06:47] negative four out?

TJ Anderson:    Negative four. Recently I was talking to some friends about that and they were saying how whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger type of deal. I actually missed this weather a little bit.

Geoff Wood:    Really?

TJ Anderson:    Growing up in Iowa you have four seasons and I was thrown off. I lived for four months in Miami.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. 

TJ Anderson:    So I missed the whole winter last year.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. My wife mentioned something like that too a week ago. She's like, I really like that we have seasons here.

TJ Anderson:    For sure.

Geoff Wood:    Have you been outside today? It's good and [crosstalk 00:07:16]. Sorry I interrupted you. Yeah. You're in Miami for four months.

TJ Anderson:    That's where good hot coffee and tea comes into play. Yeah. I spent nine months really focusing hard on modeling. It was something my whole life that friends or family would sprinkle out there as an idea that I should consider just because I have what society deemed were decently good looks. 

    Finally I decided that it could be a fun journey, a way to make some money and meet some pretty ladies. I had my health coaching business all virtual now so it afforded me the opportunity to move to Miami, move wherever, really. Spent four months down there. Wow that was a lesson in the human experience is what I liken it to.

    Learned a lot about myself, about the industry, about society, about how much we place too much weight and focus on the physical body and the fitness industry and fashion and modeling. I'm grateful for it though. Learned a ton. Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    What brought you from that world back into the Founder Health world?

TJ Anderson:    Yeah. I had an opportunity to go over to Asia when I was modeling in Miami. It was a tough decision and I'm grateful I decided to come home to get grounded and get reconnected to my routes and get back into the entrepreneurship focus in the house I live in in West Des Moines with five other entrepreneurs.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. I want to talk about the house.

TJ Anderson:    Yeah yeah yeah. We'll get to that. It's funny- not funny at all it's divine intervention- Josh Krakauer, friend of mine, who runs Sculpt in Iowa City. I was in Miami leading my most recent group health coaching program for entrepreneurs and in some calls with him around that time this past winter, he suggested I connect with Will Lenzen out of Cedar Rapids. We did and I met with Will in Iowa City and the Iowa EntreFEST conference. That was last year. In meeting Will, that's how I got connected with Founder Health. Will started Founder Health as a podcast and blogging community for entrepreneurs and then we joined forces, Will and I did, earlier this last year.

Geoff Wood:    That was the catalyst to come back ...

TJ Anderson:    It played a role in my entrepreneurship journey. Yeah it did and coming back to Des Moines and staying here and wanting to follow my passion and my Dharma and helping entrepreneurs with their health. Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    Cool. You and Will are not working together, at this point Will's kind of chasing some other dreams.

TJ Anderson:    Will is on his way out of Founder Health. Yep. He's transitioned out. The man is a story teller. He's a genius in his own right. He's got some good things cooking. I'm grateful for our friendship, for our business relationship. Yeah. We met at, as I said, at EntreFEST. 

    You want to talk about the house, right?

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. Yeah. Let's talk about the house. What I know of this house is Dane owns it right? Dane Maxwell. It's out in West Des Moines somewhere and there's just a bunch of dudes that are all focused on building their businesses that live and breathe and work 24/7 out of this house.

TJ Anderson:    Yes.

Geoff Wood:    Is that the right description?

TJ Anderson:    That is an adequate description. Yeah. No. That's fair. Yes, Dane owns the house.

Geoff Wood:    But Dane's not living in it right now. He's somewhere else.

TJ Anderson:    Currently no. Dane's in San Diego.

Geoff Wood:    Okay.

TJ Anderson:    He was home over the holidays and he comes home every now and then. I think he's like me. He got smart and ditched the Iowa winter. He might be coming back in the spring. There's something special about Des Moines. 

    Anyways, yeah. It's a five bedroom house and we have six of us so we have a makeshift bedroom. That's how passionate we are about supporting each other. One of our roommates just took a year off college to build his business, Rob Burke. He's launching six Kickstarter campaigns in 2015. Six of them.

Geoff Wood:    Wow.

TJ Anderson:    He's an idea genius. 

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. Okay.

TJ Anderson:    He's starting small and he's building up. Yes. You can call it an entrepreneurship house, you can call it a vision house, but it's been much more than that. It's been very healing for all of us. Relationship building.

Geoff Wood:    Okay.

TJ Anderson:    Book clubs, heart to heart conversations. Just a lot of joy, fun and love and creation. We want to invite more people to come over and more and more people are. It's great.

Geoff Wood:    Very interesting. Yeah. The folks that live there, they're people that actually have moved here to be part of that house right?

TJ Anderson:    Yeah. Technically I moved back to Des Moines to get back in the house. I lived in the house before I moved to Miami. I was living in Andy Drish's old room, who runs the foundation with Dane.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. they're kind of teach- train you to figure out what your market is so you can build a business around it right?

TJ Anderson:    Yeah. Focus on SaaS, but it's bigger than that. They market and promote SaaS but what people end up doing is creating other things as well.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. I always tell people when Dane's name comes up, it doesn't surprise me the least bit that you describe the house that way. The very first question Dane asked me- when we reconnect, I actually met Dane for the first time at the first startup week in Des Moines in 2009. Then lost track, I think he moved, whatever. When he surfaced back up in Des Moines and was just starting up the foundation, we went and had drinks one night or something and he's like, why do you love your wife? That was like the very first question that he asked me. I'm like, this is an uncomfortable- but I think that's kind of his thing.

    He went into the whole burning man story and why he's on this path. A very interesting dude. Little different than the space that I tend to inhibit.

TJ Anderson:    Yeah. Definitely. That's a great point. I was talking to a friend today on the phone who went through the foundation. [inaudible 00:14:09]. He was sharing a quote that Dane had shared with him. I don't recall exactly if Dane came up with this himself or found it somewhere else. If memory serves, it went something like this, and this will give you a little bit of context as to some cool things that I've learned just from being around Dane. "A boy becomes a man when he releases his need for approval and his fear for disapproval."

Geoff Wood:    Interesting.

TJ Anderson:    Yeah.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. That sounds like something Dane would say.

TJ Anderson:    Totally. Again, I shouldn't quote him.

Geoff Wood:    I get it. 

TJ Anderson:    We digress.

Geoff Wood:    I'm probably too neurotic for the lifestyle. Good dude. It's tough to argue with what he's been able to build for himself and the lifestyle I think that he wants. Next time he's back let me know. We'll have to sit him down and talk about that here.

TJ Anderson:    Totally.

Geoff Wood:    What's next for Founder Health and how can- most of our audience is the Iowa startup community. How can they help you with what you're trying to build? What's on the horizon for your company?

TJ Anderson:    Thank you for asking. Been going through a little bit of a positioning change, to be quite honest. Will started Founder Health as a community, a podcast and a blog for entrepreneurs to interview entrepreneurs about their story of maintaining their health and building their business.

    When I've come to the table to provide some more programming and coaching for entrepreneurs and strategy around that, it's really not about me it's about we, it's about the community. We are all in this together. To answer your question directly, I would just love to connect one on one with people that are actually interested in this topic of leveraging your health for your business and avoiding burnout. 

    I've just talked to so many people that get into burnout mode before they're even ready to launch a business. There's a happy medium there. 

    We'll be launching a few more group programs over the coming months and look into the idea of consulting and coaching startups on a larger scale and co-working spaces. As you and I talked earlier today, those sorts of environments that create this entrepreneurial go go go, in my experience, have needed a little bit of an identification, the ability to find blind spots. What are we missing here, what could we be doing that we're not taking into consideration from a nutrition, a sleep, a movement aspect? From a scheduling and a productivity standpoint? 

    I'm creating my own personal productivity system right here in front of me. It doesn't just include work. Our morning routines, our evening routines and how are we creating new habits in our lives? Those are the types of conversations and stories that I think need to be told more and more.

Geoff Wood:    Yeah. Cool. Best way for people to find you or find Founder Health? Is it online, email?

TJ Anderson:    Find Founder Health. Yeah that's a tongue twister. You bet. I can be reached directly at my email, tj@founderhealth.co or on Facebook, TJ Anderson or Founder Health and Twitter, or go straight to our website at founderhealth.co.

Geoff Wood:    Okay.

TJ Anderson:    We got a blog and podcast and some changes to be coming though. Really exciting. Would also like to throw out, going to be running a course through successful start school. 

Geoff Wood:    Okay.

TJ Anderson:    Phil McNiven, who also went through the foundation used to work for Eben Pagen, is creating a community to have different courses run for entrepreneurs, startup entrepreneurs, to take while they build their business. I'm going to be leading a course on preventing burnout and maintaining health as a startup.

Geoff Wood:    Very cool. Yeah. Let us know. Do you have a date when that's supposed to launch?

TJ Anderson:    No we do not have a date yet on that.

Geoff Wood:    Okay. We'll pay attention.

TJ Anderson:    You bet.

Geoff Wood:    Get you from there.

TJ Anderson:    Thanks man.

Geoff Wood:    All right. Thanks for coming in.

TJ Anderson:    You bet. It was fun.

Geoff Wood:    All right.