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Retired UFC Fighter Eliot Marshall on Fear, Depression, & True Strength - The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 22

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What’s true strength: beating up a tough opponent, or admitting the tears you shed when the fights are over?

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On this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Eliot Marshall shares the many lessons he’s learned as a bullied kid turned UFC fighter turned business owner—and how these lessons apply to life outside of the ring as well.

Since he was a young kid, the only place Eliot felt like he fit in was the Martial Arts Academy. He struggled to make friends at school, and with his half-Black half-Jewish heritage, found himself the victim of bullies more than once. But fighting was a way to work through his pain and fear. It became his passion, and he grew stronger, he turned that passion into a career.

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During fights, the fear of death creates an adrenaline rush unlike anything else. Eliot felt alive, strong, and free. But, while fear was his greatest strength in the ring, it makes life outside the academy very difficult. He has struggled with constant anxiety and dark episodes of depression. 

Fighting isn’t a life-long gig. Eventually, you get to a place where you need to start something new. For Eliot, that something new was his own Martial Arts Academy, the Easton Training Center in Colorado. He began teaching his skill to others. 

As rewarding as teaching was, he still found himself in the depths of depression. He stayed up late, crying and wrestling with the pain inside of him. His students stayed with him during that period. Their late-night phone calls and weekly support kept him going.

Eliot believes what really makes a man isn’t how hard he can punch or how much he can take. It’s showing up, setting an example, and sharing the highs and the lows. It’s easy to pretend like everything is fine, but acknowledging when you’re hurting and when you’ve messed up is much more difficult. He practices this regularly with his kids.

Eliot shares his story in his book, The Gospel of Fire. He also hosts a podcast of the same name. His school has become one of Colorado's leading martial arts schools, with 7 locations across the Denver area.

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Also available wherever else you get your podcasts.

You can learn more about Eliot here:
https://eliotmarshall.com/
Listen to Eliot’s podcast: https://eliotmarshall.com/category/podcasts/
Read Eliot’s book: The Gospel of Fire: Strategies for Facing Your Fears, Confronting Your Demons, and Finding Your Purpose

 

Read the books referenced in this podcast:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

 

Get your copy Steve Brown’s book, The Golden Toilet. Also available on Audible for free when you sign up for a 30-Day Trial Membership!

Topics: Marketing, Podcasts, Story

Eliot Marshall : 

My students saved my life, man. I, in 2016, I had what I like to call a mental breakdown/spiritual awakening, and all I could get myself to do was show up to the school to teach, because I would a loser. And my two general managers at the time.... I mean, I was crying every night. I would, I would take sleeping pills that... I would want them to work within five minutes. That doesn't happen. And then I'd have a panic attack. Five minutes later, I'd run down to my basement, I'd freak out all night. And these guys man, along with a couple other people, they would stay out sometimes all night long. I mean, we just didn't sleep. They just talked to me on the phone to make sure I was okay. And then, I just kept showing up to the school to teach and people kept showing up the take the class.

Steve Brown : 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcast, where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown, and this is the place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Welcome back, everybody, to the ROI Online Podcast and today, I'm proud for you to meet Elliot Marshall. Elliot is a former mixed martial artist. He's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. He's a business owner. He co-owns seven training centers, Eastern training centers in Denver. And he's also the author of a book called "The Gospel of Fire," and he has a podcast by the same name. Elliot, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.

Eliot Marshall : 

Steve, thanks for having me on, man.

Steve Brown : 

I'm so so this is interesting. I love this because I watch those MMA fights or the and I think about all the training and the heart put into the preparation of a fight. They walk out and they've got people yelling for them or against them, and they go out into the ring and publicly they put everything out there and they may win. Or they may get beat down and then they show up for the next one. That's fascinating to me. Talk to me about why anyone would be crazy enough to put their stuff out there.

Eliot Marshall : 

Because there's something wrong with us. We all joke about it, right? Like before a fight they do... You have to get a doctor exam, and they ask in the doctor's exam, "Is the person mentally stable?" Well, man, the answer's no. No, no, we're not mentally stable, bro. We want to get into a locked cage and fight and fight. So, why? Homie, there ain't nothing that will make you as present in your life as a life or death situation with you and somebody else, where your life is on the line. There's no feeling like it in the world. You can't mimic it. I haven't had it since. I don't know. I don't know how else to do it.

Steve Brown : 

So what makes someone walking down the street one day, you're bullied as a kid. And you're walking down the streets one day, I don't know. Why do you walk into some place and sign up to be slapped around by a bunch of guys that know way more than you?

Eliot Marshall : 

So for my whole life, the only place that I ever fit in was at a Martial Arts Academy. So since I was six years old that that was like my home. And then right when the UFC came out in the early 90s, I saw it. I just said I was gonna do it. When I was a kid. I was a teenager, you know, and everyone's like, "Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah." And I just kept saying that I was going to do it and then I got good at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And then one day, you know, I mean, this is this is obviously the short end of it. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the time, you couldn't make any money competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, like zero. But I was doing it, training all day, working at a bar at night, going I wouldn't say going nowhere because I was getting very good at Jiu Jitsu. But as far as like my life trajectory, yeah, going nowhere. I was married. I was getting out of the shower, getting ready to get into bed. And my wife looks at me, she goes, "So, um, yeah, let's either let's either fight, because that's what you said you're going to do, or let's get a job." And the job sounded so terrible to me.

Steve Brown : 

I think about in my past, I had a hard time getting people to hire me and the ones that did, they, you know, they would... The horse would die out from under me. And I kept thinking. It was nagging me that I should start my own business, which is very similar to what you're just talking about is like, "Where's my life going? Why have I been doing all I'm doing?" And the folks that are listening to this, they're business owners, they're entrepreneurs. But yet that same conversation happens.

Eliot Marshall : 

So yeah, I'm sure and since I started martial arts, when I was six years old, I said that I always wanted to have my own school someday. Like it was my dream. And I knew that after fighting, I was going to have my In school someday because finding only like... A professional fighting career doesn't last very long. You know, even if I became the champion, I was going to have my own school. So the business end of it was always on the horizon for me as well. So, I just I don't know what it was. I don't know why I am the way I am. I can't tell you. I don't like working for people. I don't like... I don't like bosses. I try not to be one. Everyone in my company tries not to be one and I don't even like to say my company, because it's not mine. And if we're going to talk about the business end of things here, it's not yours. It's yours, but it's not, right? It's like a person. Like they're my kids, but I can't own them. Like, it's my wife. But she's her own being, you know? It's not mine. She's mine in a sense, right? But your business and our employees, they're ours. They're ours. From from me all the way at the top to the janitor who trades intuition to clean my floors. The mats. So it was a change in, when it comes to business, it was a change in perspective in my life that made me see this.

Steve Brown : 

Awesome. So you see it as a responsibility that it's your job to protect the environment for these people to grow and develop.

Eliot Marshall : 

I'm at the front. But the all the people that are only like a millimeter behind me, right? It's not like I'm like way out here and untouchable, right? No. I'm in the front because I like to see. I'm a fighter. I like... I'm gonna die on my shield. Right? So that's why. But yeah, I love it man. Fuck like this. Sorry I curse. Am I allowed to curse or not? Sorry.

Steve Brown : 

My mom listens, but she's heard that word before.

Eliot Marshall : 

Okay, cool. My mom listens and tells me not to curse. I don't know, man, I love people and martial arts so much that to be able for me to connect the two has been, outside of children and marriage and family, has been the greatest endeavor of my life.

Steve Brown : 

So it's weird to think that this person that gets in a ring to just knock the snot out of the other guy can be so aligned to care and lead people. How does that connect?

Unknown Speaker : 

My students saved my life, man. I, in 2016, I had what I like to call a mental breakdown/spiritual awakening, and all I could get myself to do was show up to the school to teach, because I would a loser. And my two general managers at the time.... I mean, I was crying every night. I would, I would take sleeping pills that... I would want them to work within five minutes. That doesn't happen. And then I'd have a panic attack. Five minutes later, I'd run down to my basement, I'd freak out all night. And these guys man, along with a couple other people, they would stay out sometimes all night long. I mean, we just didn't sleep. They just talked to me on the phone to make sure I was okay. And then, I just kept showing up to the school to teach and people kept showing up the take the class more and more. But I've been teaching for a while now. This wasn't new. The business wasn't new, it's four or five years old, it's established, you know? And I was just like, "Okay, I just got to give the best class possible. I just got to give the best class. Just just do that. And then you can go home and then you can freak out." And, and that and them showing up. They didn't know it, right, but them showing up. To me it felt like they cared and loved about me. Like they, they were there for me. They're there to be like, "Yo, Eliot's struggling because everyone knew. Elliott's struggling, and we're going to show up for this hour to make sure he's okay." And, and we just... We talked about it like a year ago, me and those two guys, that we're all on the phone with me. That's when like the whole business took off a little bit and changed. We saw in the saving of me, we saw how important that the connection between people was. Not like we didn't see it before, right? Like it was good before. But like this was like the... You know when you hit the nos button on like in the Fast and the Furious? This was the nos.

Steve Brown : 

So you know when I watch your interviews with the other guys that have been in the ring that have done what you've done, your face lights up when you guys connect on this experience that no one else would understand. And so even though you had this business, this thing that's bigger than you with these two guys, you went through a similar crucible with them, no?

Eliot Marshall : 

Yeah, so there ain't nothing like fighting in the whole world, man. It's fine if we're going to talk about it. There's a lot of things that are hard. Right? There's a lot of things that are hard but unless you get good with dying with what you're about to go do, because that's what you got to do to fight, you got to get good with dying. And then the people that go through that with you. That's what it is. You'll never forget them. They're there. They're a part of you for the rest of your life, no matter how it ends. And everybody that you fought everyone that you stood in that in that cage or that ring with, they're a part of you forever, like they have a piece of you and you have a piece of them. It's art. It's a very beautiful thing. I know it looks violent, but you know... I'm kind of a stoic Buddhist, I would say is what I am that. I don't know what I am. My mom's a Jew that her parents survived the Holocaust and my dad's black. There ain't many like me, you know? So, because I don't know what the hell I am, bro. Yeah, there's just something there's something where you know it. It's you them and God and I don't really say God in the sense that everyone thinks of it as you know, but you guys are there together.

Steve Brown : 

When you say die and you got to get comfortable with dying, what does that mean? Where it... Describe it for a guy like me. I die sometimes in running a business or or just laid it out on the line but failed. What does that mean, dying?

Eliot Marshall : 

So dying I'm talking about really dying. I'm talking about you have to get good. So everyone can understand the notion of getting in a fight, right? Everyone either has been in one or has almost been in one. Let me put a date and a time and opponent on that. Well, you have to show up. That's so... It could be 15 minutes longer. 25 minutes long depending on if it's a title fight. You got to get good with it might be. Like you have to do whatever you have to do to when you walk in there. And it might, if that means it's the last 15 minutes of your life, then it's the last 15 minutes of your life. Like that. That is that is the preparation. And you have to realize that your life, it's not futile, but you could leave it at any point. Right? You could always leave life at any point. So what better one than this one man?

Steve Brown : 

How do you prepare?

Eliot Marshall : 

You prepare too late. everything on the line over and over. You have to break. You have to break in the preparation you have to you have to have died in preparation. You have to think I can't do this anymore. And then once you think you can't, once you break the person you build them back up. So that they know that they can do it that they can overcome. Because the minute I get your mind that breaks, your body doesn't break, your mind just goes, "I can't do this." And then once, and here's the people think, again, this is why you need to camp. This is why you need a team. This is why you need a good trainer. They pick you up. And they say, "Oh, yes, you can." Right? They go, "Oh, yes, you can. One more round. Give me one more minute. Give me 10 more seconds." And then when you can do that the line of once you do it right, when you think you couldn't get done, you're broken, you're dead. The line of what you can do just got pushed back, and then it gets pushed back. And then it gets pushed back. So it's never ending. Just like in your business what you think you're capable of achieving. "Okay, I want to I want to get to $100,000 in revenue. Fuck Yeah, that would be amazing." And then you're stuck at 80,000 and then boom. Oh, if you see it, you see a light you're like, "Oh my God, look at that. We're podcasting. Okay, I get 1000 downloads a month. God that's amazing. 1000 downloads. That's great. I'm never going to get the 10,000 I'm never going to get the 4000. Oh my god. Whoa, holy shit here I am." And then the line gets pushed back. But now there's a double edged sword to that line like as far as like business goes. Because then you start chasing that high. You start chasing that, "Oh shit I'm the man. I'm at 10,000 downloads. How many?" Then you start to attach yourself to that. It's the it's the yin and the yang of everything you know you have to be able to chase a goal, but know that that's not you.

Steve Brown : 

So let's talk about after a loss, one of your losses, how do you do a healthy self-evaluation of assessment of what you did right and what you did wrong? And how do you trust yourself that you're doing it healthy? Or being too hard on yourself or not being hard enough?

Eliot Marshall : 

Talking about fighting?

Steve Brown : 

Just about how do you handle that conversation in your head?

Eliot Marshall : 

Well, you drink a lot with fighting and you shouldn't because you probably concussed. You cry. You don't sleep. With fighting it's the darkest cloud you've ever had over your head. You've never used it for you. It's like someone died it's like it's literally like someone died. It's very hard to get away from. You have some loving. You get up, man you just get up. You just get up and fight again. Just get up. You walk back in the gym. Like I don't know what else to say you just... And I don't know if it's something innate in us that we do that we do it, that we could... But yeah, as far as business goes, so easy for me after fighting I have to say. And not even after fighting. It's so easy for me because I'm not stuck and trapped in the hell of my own mind anymore. And that's the worst place. When you're... When I when I go back to my 2016, when I broke down, there was no reason, man. It wasn't like the business was failing. It wasn't like my wife was leaving me. None of my kids were sick. Nothing. Absolutely nothing just straight anxiety. Straight like, "Yo, you know this devil that's that that you have been beaten down. Oh, he ain't going anywhere right now. He's here. He's gonna sit on your shoulder, and he's not gonna go anywhere." There was no reason for me. My business was growing, thriving employees. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Nice. Dude, I just got back I just got back from a two week Hawaiian vacation. There's no reason to be up all night crying. So when you can deal with that, like, as far as that, man, everything else is just quieter.

Steve Brown : 

So was it that you met this competitor, this opponent that you never really fought before? That you didn't know how to prepare for this?

Eliot Marshall : 

No, it was the I've met him a bunch of times. I had just masked it with fighting. I had masked this competitor with fighting because I gave myself reasons to be nervous and scared, like really scared, like a fight or whatever. And the real demon of my life, what I was really scared of which was me and who I was and maybe what a piece of shit I was or maybe how weak I was or how no one liked me and no one was gonna like me and everyone was going to leave me. And then it's going to get a little dark and deep for a second. My whole life, I was told that Hitler was going to come again, because I grew up with Holocaust survivors. So that that was happening, no one would be there to help me. And then I would be all alone. Because I had no friends growing up. And so I'd be all alone by myself. So I would try to scream at how tough I was. That's probably why I went into fighting in the first place. And then when you fight, it's shown that you like if you're not the champ, if you don't retire the champ, well someone fucked you up. So you ain't that tough, right? And here it was. So now you can't run away from it. It's right there everyone for the world to see. You can go on Wikipedia and you can look at my record. So now I got to deal with Elliot. So it wasn't it wasn't an opponent. It was me. That is our biggest enemy is ourself. It's our greatest asset, too. You can't... If you can get away from the flip side, the head and the tails, the Yin and the Yang. My anxiety, who I am, it makes me amazing. It makes me amazing, but it's also what makes me fucking terrible.

Steve Brown : 

I love that. There's this quote by Seth Godin, he says, "You have to give yourself permission." But I think that's the hardest person to get permission to be the person you're supposed to be is that permission from yourself.

Eliot Marshall : 

Yeah. People.... If you watch people get angry at other people, they don't get angry at other people for the shift that they don't do. You get angry and upset with other people because you do the exact same thing. Either you do it to yourself, and if you do it to yourself, you are therefore going to project that on to Steve. Or to Dave or to whoever, but when they do something that looks like you, because it scares you so much. It scares you so much when you see yourself and where you could go or where you do go sometimes.

Steve Brown : 

That's... I think it's the hardest thing for people to face is to really do this evaluation of where they need to hold themselves more accountable and, or to make a plan. You're saying that you had hidden.... You'd use that anxiety to hide what your real problem was, that the fighting was... How many of us do the same thing? Do you see that in a lot of people? How do you coach them out of that?

Amy : 

You got to love yourself. You got to really, really love yourself. The bad of you too. You have to take time for yourself. You have to give yourself some space for when you do make mistakes. So that you can give other people space when they make mistakes. It helps you love people more. It helps you love people more like, in a business sense. I was on vacation a couple months ago. One of my friends, we met a couple. We met a family there. It's actually a funny story. So we met there, we randomly vacation there once. The next year, they were there again. And it wasn't the same time. So we were like, "Oh, I guess we should be friends." So then we were friends, and now we like meet each other in Hawaii. So we met up and he was going through this time in his life. He's a very successful accountant in Canada. And he asked me he was like, "Yo, if I laid 100 million dollars in front of you, would you stay here forever? You can't bring your people here. Your schools are done. You can start new schools, do whatever you want. But here's 100 million bucks." He's like, "Because if you had 50 I'm staying," is what he's saying. I was like, "Fuck no man. No fucking way. I miss...I love what it is that I do so much." And I think that came with loving myself for a little bit, you know? And yeah, I wouldn't give up. I wouldn't trade what I have now for being the world champ.

Steve Brown : 

I love that. I want to pause here just for a moment and talk to you about a program that we have just released called the ROI QuickStart Academy for authors. Every day. I talk to business owners just like you who struggle with quickly getting their fundamentals in place. We want to create a great foundation and we want to grow our business but things that are in our way: our lack of knowledge about the specifics we should put in place, what kind of technology, what kind of messaging and what kind of campaigns? And that problem exists for authors as well. And we just gel so good with authors because, well, I'm an author, and I understand everything that you struggle with. You have a great idea. You have a great book. But what do you want to do? You want to get your book in front of more people. You want to make it easy for them to find you, learn how they can schedule a time to talk with you, hire you for a conference, or maybe sign up for the services that your book promotes. So what is the QuickStart Academy for authors? Imagine working with a small group of like-minded authors, and the experts from the ROI QuickStart team. It's a great way to get your messaging clear, to be confident with the technology in your marketing automation, and how to run a strategic campaign to get you more of what you want from the investment of your book. To learn more about the QuickStart Academy for authors, you can visit roionline.com or click in the link in the show notes below. And now, back to this episode. When we say... I believe in the invisible heroes of our time or entrepreneurs, they're business owners because they put everything on the line. They risk their family's well being, they're everything, just to try to make a better life for them and our world. But no one sees it publicly or necessarily understands us. Why? What's your definition between bravery and courage? What's the difference in bravery and courage?

Eliot Marshall : 

The difference? Well, courage is definitely being afraid and going anyway. That's courage. It's definitely being afraid and walking. Bravery is the act of doing it over and over and over again. That's when you're brave. Courage is a single thing. I'm showing courage right now. But if I was going to say, "You are a brave person, keep fucking walking." Like you keep walking into the unknown, and that's what fighting that's what martial arts has taught me. Is that the unknown, it's chaos, right? It's such chaos. And we're so afraid of it but god damn, if you can just calm down, take a breath, feel the chaos, you can navigate it. And even when you can't navigate if you can just sit in it and like you don't gotta keep your whole body afloat. It's just your mouth and your nose that has to stay above the water. And that's what it is like for me that's what it is right now man. I have seven schools. People nobody's walking in. Closed. Mandated by the government. Oh, well. "Woe is me?" No, fuck you. "Oh I'm being oppressed." No, fuck you. "Oh, you're stealing my rights." I mean, maybe all those things are true, but shut the fuck up. I'm sick of it. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it. Take care of work. It is time to lace up the gloves. And you get up off the stool. You have been beaten down, it is time to fight. And I'm not saying go screaming yell at your governor or whoever, like I don't disagree with your point. It ain't gonna get you anywhere. Complaining has never gotten anybody anywhere.

Steve Brown : 

So, what are you working on? Right now, everyone's feeling the same thing. They need to be working on themselves. They need... What is it that you're working on now?

Eliot Marshall : 

So first and foremost, you always need to work on yourself. So for me, my day starts with meditation gratitude, every single day. Every single day, meditation gratitude, that is where my day always starts. And when I say gratitude, gratitude is a tough thing. Because it's super easy to be gracious when shit's good. Can you be thankful right now? Can you be thankful for COVID? Can you be thankful for this time that is a struggle, the good and the bad, the problems? So I wake up and after I breathe... Excuse me, what I say is I say, "Thank you for my kids, my wife, my family, my friends, my students and my problems." I had a friend who just recently died during COVID here, my age, my best friend from growing up and I said I had two friends. He was one of them.

Steve Brown : 

I'm sorry.

Eliot Marshall : 

It's okay. I just take some time to be with him during that gratitude. I just take a deep breath in, think about him. Just enjoy a second with him. So I still get to be with him. And then I repeat the Four Agreements.

Steve Brown : 

What are those?

Eliot Marshall : 

Be impeccable with your word, take nothing personally, make no assumptions, always do your best. And then after that, I say to myself, "I am enough. Who I am is enough." And I get up and I just go. I just work, We figured it out... We have virtual as far as what we're doing. I'm growing my podcast. I started pod... I put something out every day Monday through Friday. Now I talk to people I reach out to all my... I reach out to as many of my employees as I can. I put motivational stuff up for the students on my podcast platform, so I'm not gonna say this is all for nothing or just because. I'm trying to grow my platform but look man I put it out, "Yo, you can do this." And yeah I can I put out my weaknesses. I talk about them. "Yeah sure I cry yeah. I didn't... Three nights ago I didn't sleep." I get scared just like the rest of you. This is what I do when I get scared. So what are you gonna do, sit at home do nothing? You got to fight, man. You got to fucking fight.

Steve Brown : 

You have two sons.

Eliot Marshall : 

I do.

Steve Brown : 

What do you think that... How did they see you? What do you... How do you connect with them on a different level, but you expect of them similar things that you two of the folks that you coach?

Eliot Marshall : 

You just show it. Don't tell people what to do. Don't tell people what to do. My kids... My dad did it. Yeah, I cook, I clean, do laundry, mop the floors, cut the grass. What do you want to do? What do you want? Like you show them how to be a goddamn man. And that does not mean bring home the money, right? That's part of it. That's definitely part of it, but it's not the thing. You show them how to take care of children. You show them how to be soft. You show them how to be hard. You show them how to love. You show them what a good dad looks like by being one. You show them what a good husband looks like. You show that... And then you talk about when you blow it. You show them, "Hey look, dad..." You know like the other day we were doing school work bro. God you know, can you congratulate me real fast?

Steve Brown : 

Congratulations.

Eliot Marshall : 

I graduated first grade again, just in case you were wondering.

Steve Brown : 

I don't know how far I could get right now without remedial...

Eliot Marshall : 

Bro. First grade is awful because your first grader can't do the online schooling by himself. So you have to sit there and do it with him. It was awful. It was so fucking terrible. But anyway, I have a fourth grader as well. And then my fourth grader, he's my mini. He is me on steroids. He does everything that I can do better. And the not so skillful parts of me, he has all of them too. Anxiety. So, like, he's my many. Like most kids want their moms right at a young age. He doesn't like he... I don't want to say he doesn't want her. But like when it gets really really dark for him it's Dad. "Where is my dad?" So I have to be super cautious with him. Because he... What he does, how he looks at me as is I can't be on a higher pedestal. So I have to really be cautious with how I talk to him and all that stuff. So the other day, we were doing math and I got so frustrated. And then I yelling, I was mad at him and then I was like, "God dammit, I'm being an asshole. Look, I'm yelling at you." So I had to let him see that. I had to let him know that I blew it. And then I gave him a hug. And I said, "My bad." And he goes, "It's alright, Dad." He's crying because the math is frustrating and his dad yelled at him. So I just let him see it. And then we talked about it afterwards, like, "Yo, that is not how to do it. Dude, not on your end. Look, you're 10 you know, like, Yeah, I agree. You shouldn't have cried. There's no reason to cry right there. But I'm a damn adult." So you have to you have to let them know. You have to let him know that that you're gonna mess up and then you're gonna walk forward from it. You're human. Don't hold yourself to perfection.

Steve Brown : 

You talk about being vulnerable, you know that second chapter your book where you're talking about this fight you are having to show up for that you had mentally given up.

Eliot Marshall : 

I can explain it if you want. So I got beat up. I took a I took a fight on 10 days notice. I wasn't ready the fight before and I walked... I was checked out in the walk in the fight before. I had some bad luck. I got poked in the eye so I couldn't see as well but I don't know that that would have mattered. I was losing that fight. And I let the poke the eye poke mask what was really going on in that last fight. I knew I had quit. And this is like the worst dishonor in the world. You don't fucking quit in a fight.But I knew I had so, man, it was an awful time. So then you get your next fight. And this goes back to the question you asked earlier, man, I was the day of the fight. I was the day the next fight I was tripping, crying. So scared. I wasn't scared of the fight itself. I was scared that I was going to quit again. Because I'd never quit before like that. So I'm sitting there crying in the hotel room and my wife, she goes, "Hey," she's never seen me like this. It's like an hour of me fucking crying. She's like, rubbing my head trying to help me. Not what you want to be doing before fight. And she goes, "Why don't you just walk out there. Take the first punch, fall down, cover your head. Get beat up for 10 more seconds. You might as well take the 30 grand. You're here. Don't like don't get hurt too bad. That first punch is gonna be like a jab." So, and then like that was what the plan became in my head. I was like, done. Okay. And that got me to the fight. Jab came, punched me in the face, stumbled backwards a little bit. I was like, "Man, fuck this, let's go." The best fight in my life.

Steve Brown : 

You call it the best fight of your life because you saw this part of you step up when you didn't expect it.

Eliot Marshall : 

I was fighting probably one of the best opponents I've ever fought, one of the most dangerous, and I was able to harness a moment. Every once in a while you get... It happens. It happens to really just let all of you be expressed. And for me, it came in the third round. I got five minutes of full expression of who Elliott Marshall was as a fighter.

Steve Brown : 

Beautiful. You lost the fight by the judge.

Eliot Marshall : 

Yeah, yeah.

Steve Brown : 

But, but you won. Because of that battle that was going on in your head.

Eliot Marshall : 

I conquered myself. I really conquered myself. Like, I even conquered... I accepted myself. I accepted who I was and I accepted that this could be the last five minutes that I ever get to express Elliott Marshall, the UFC fighter. And it was, but I got to show it. Got lucky. I got lucky.

Steve Brown : 

How do you... You know, business is full of negotiations. What do you learn... And what... Your history is of how you read your opponent. How do you look through bluff? How do you see... How do you negotiate that?

Eliot Marshall : 

Can I grab something real fast? I'll come back. Yeah. See this. This is Buddha. Right?

Steve Brown : 

Right.

Eliot Marshall : 

Look how big these ears are. Listen, man. Listen with the intent of listening and not in the intent of responding. That's why Buddha had big ears, so they say, so that you could listen really well. And you could hear somebody. And when you do that, there's always two perspectives to a story or two to anything. Maybe many more. There's many perspectives, but if it's you and I talking, there's two. There's yours and there's mine, who's is the most important. For me, it's you if we're going through a negotiation, because if I can't understand what it is that you want I can scream what I want all day. It's not even what you want, I guess, it's what you need. What do you need? Why are you saying this? Just think about like... Are you married?

Steve Brown : 

As good as, yes.

Eliot Marshall : 

Just think: what is your spouse need? Why is she screaming at me right now, calling me a fucking piece of shit asshole? Not that mine does that right but we're gonna take the worst end of it. She must have a need that's not being met, which is making her feel a certain way. So if I can address her... If I can address her need, and if I can express things when it's my turn to speak in a, "Yo I have a need for this." Now we can actually talk rather than negotiate, or argue, or win the negotiation or lose the negotiation. What if we can both win? What if we can both come out of this with a, "Man I really like that guy Steve. That went really really well, man. I really wish the best for him and how things go for him moving forward." And maybe I'm lucky because I carry a big fucking stick behind all that. Maybe I am, but I try not to fall back on that. Everyone looks at me, like, "Yo, that dude might fuck me up." So for me, the way I speak is so important. And that's why, number one, the Four Agreements be impeccable with my word. It's a book so I didn't make those up. It's called "The Four Agreements." It's so important for me because everyone looks at me 250/260 pound UFC fighter, they sit down on a table with me they're like, "Fuck, this goes bad..." And I don't want that. I want like, "Man, that guy was... God, I really enjoyed my time with him."

Steve Brown : 

So you get interviewed a lot, Elliot. I'm curious at what question you never get asked that you wish people would ask you that deep question. And I'm asking you because I think you're deep enough and that's where you're coming from right now. I'm just fairly interested in that answer.

Eliot Marshall : 

I wish people could really understand. One, how scared I am. I am deeply afraid. And that is a fight for me every day. It is a fight for me. And two, I'm working on that. Like I said every day, every day I work on that.

Steve Brown : 

Scared of what?

Eliot Marshall : 

Being alone. I'm so afraid of it. I'm so afraid to be alone. And not like I need to have a party. It's not that. I don't need a lot of people around me. But I guess like, so my childhood was... I had great parents. When I say I had a shitty childhood, it had nothing to do with my parents or needing anything. It was a different kind of shitty. I had nobody. I had no buddy and I spent a lot of time with Holocaust survivors, man. And my dad's African American, he grew up in the civil rights movement, during civil rights. So it was a lot of fear. You could feel it. You couldn't enter the house of my grandparents without feeling what death was like, what what's suffering, what real real suffering was like. So I think I was born with it from them, you know? So, it was a... And then it kind of came true. I moved to a town where we didn't fit in at all, you know, it was that it was the 80s. There weren't many interracial couples. There weren't many mixed marriages like that religious wise, and we just were weirdos. And I mean, lunchtimes normally the best time for kids at school. Well, shit, man. I sat by myself. I walked through the halls by myself. So that hurts, right? That hurts greatly as a child. And there's nothing your parents can do. Your parent, my parents can't help me. Like they can love me so much, everyone, my family members, they love me so much. And that's not my life now. But to this day, when I have a party, and if I say it's three o'clock that we're showing that the party starts, I get nervous that people aren't going to come, because that's what happened to me.

Steve Brown : 

And number two, I interrupted you.

Eliot Marshall : 

Oh, I love people so much, man. If people can... My people, I love you so much. Like my wife can't understand. My wife can't understand why it's so important for me on a Normal Tuesday/Thursday, which is when I teach, why I won't take a day off. I won't take a day off because god damn it's amazing. Seeing my people you know, and I will put the possessive mine on that because they're mine. Those are my people. Like I man, I love it. I love it so fucking much and I love my people and not like on a superficial like, "Hey, I love you, bro." They saved my life. You know, they saved my life. So I owe them everything. And I don't know... My super tight friends, it's not that they would die for me. Right? It's not that I would die for them because that's it's easy. It's over. They would kill somebody for me. And that's that's a lot harder to pass. If you kill somebody gotta live with that for the rest of your life. And I know that sounds kind of dark but you know.

Steve Brown : 

So you put yourself out and you really put yourself out there, vulnerable. I mean that's... I'm scared and I love you. But you open yourself up to be betrayed sometimes.

Eliot Marshall : 

That's the hard part because it happens. It happens. The hard part is to do it again.

Steve Brown : 

Exactly.

Eliot Marshall : 

It's so fucking hard for us, especially in business, right? You make a relationship and then you get burnt, and you're like, "Ugh, never again." And maybe never again like that. Maybe never again like that. But if you don't get burned again, you're being a fucking pussy because you're not... being you're taking no risk and I shouldn't say policy because it's really should be testicle because you flick those things and we cry like a baby, right? They push babies out of there so, anyway. Yeah, man, if you're not getting burnt, what are you doing?

Steve Brown : 

That's what it takes to be successful, you still have to walk into that situation knowing that could be...that rug can be pulled out from under you, but you have to try.

Eliot Marshall : 

Did you watch the last dance with Michael Jordan?

Steve Brown : 

No.

Eliot Marshall : 

It was amazing. It was amazing. I mean, it was about basketball, right? But it wasn't about basketball. And there's this one part where they're talking about, you know, the whole team. They're talking about making the last shot of the game, cuz he made so many. And it was like, how... Why would you... How do you do that? Aren't you afraid of missing? You know, he was like, "No, man. Why would I be afraid of missing a shot that I haven't even taken yet? Why would I be afraid of missing a shot that I haven't even taken yet?" Think about that.

Steve Brown : 

Totally.

Eliot Marshall : 

It's hard, because we're all afraid.

Steve Brown : 

I love this conversation.

Eliot Marshall : 

I have me too. I'm a fan. I like talking. I love people, bro. I love talking to people. I love getting to know people. I love talking to people that might disagree with me. There's two quotes I have on my wall. You can't really see them. I have two posters on my wall. One is Martin Luther King, and it's, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that." You know that quote from him? And then it's the man in the arena quote from Teddy Roosevelt. You gotta love. You have to love. You have to."So that's all people, you know, every single one of them. Like, goddamn. This is really hard to say and then people might hate me for it. But we have to find, and I hate this and... I don't hate this person, this person deserves to pay for what he did and all those police officers in Minnesota deserve to pay for what they did to Mr. Floyd. But we need to be able to find some love for every individual in the world. We need to, because this hatred is not going to get us anywhere. It is not you know, and it's so hard to do. I get it. I want... We all want to curb stomp those dudes, right? We all do. I don't want to put my knee on his neck. I want to curb stomp them. I get it. That's where we all are right now. But we have to move off of that. We have to move off of that. And then the second quote, man, "You got to keep stepping in that arena." So that you're... I'll read the end of it. "So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." That's my worst fear, man. That's my worst fear is to, God damn, to not try. What would that be like?

Steve Brown : 

Yeah, you lost the fight with yourself that you won't even step up and be measured.

Eliot Marshall : 

Just give up. Give up for good. We all have these moments of quit. That's why you have people, right? That's why you have love. They pick you up, go again, and then they make you. And then you know you're gonna have to be there for someone. "Come on. Get up."

Steve Brown : 

That's excellent and then I'm gonna tie the knot there. I think that was you laid it out there.

Eliot Marshall : 

I'm rough. I'm rolling around the edges. I say dumb shit with my.... whatever it is, but yeah, man, we gotta love each other. We gotta love each other. We can't... and we got to just keep walking one foot, one foot in front of the other, be a little more skillful every day.

Steve Brown : 

Hate is lazy. It's a cliche. It's an excuse.

Eliot Marshall : 

It's so easy to hate these cops right now. It's so easy. The hard part is to find some love. And I'm not saying not punishing them and I'm not saying not hate what they did and I'm not saying not hate maybe the people they are, you know, but we got to find some... They deserve to be punished. We definitely need change. That is all true. Every single part of that is true. And I'm black. I'm a black Jew. There's not two groups that have been persecuted more than me and I did not vote for Donald Trump. Okay, so like I do not have... I am not out there like that. We gotta find... and I don't have it. Don't misconstrue that. I have love for these people write them right now. I have hate for them. That is not correct. That is not the most skillful way to go through this. I know what the answer is. I don't have it right now. I can't do it, but I can't... I don't want to say can't. I am not doing it. But I know where it needs to go.

Steve Brown : 

It will come out of you when it's fine. It'll come out of you there. I'll find it.

Eliot Marshall : 

You know, I talked about my friend that died. He overdosed. I was really mad at him. I was really really fucking... I was so mad at them. And this is gonna sound all hippie dippie. Take it for what you want. But I was getting a massage, couple weeks afterwards. And the lady, the girl, the lady, she was like pushing on my upper back. And it really hurt like super, super painful. I was like... I'm almost to the point where I had to tell her stop. And I like intense massage. And then like the pain went immediately to nausea. And I was like, "Oh, my vomit. Holy shit." I was like, "I'm gonna... I gotta almost... I gotta run to the bathroom." And then the second the nausea passed, I was a little kid again, like 10 to 12 years old. And we used to sit on his couch in the basement and we were just sitting there again, just the two of us. And it wasn't a memory. I was there. It was 30 seconds. We didn't say a fucking word to each other. We were just watching TV. Like we always watch TV sitting in the same spots. Excuse me doing the same things that we always did when we were kids. And then like, we just... I got to say goodbye. And I got to say like, in that moment without words. "I love you. I ain't mad at me anymore."

Steve Brown : 

Elliot, thank you so much for everything. I appreciate your your energy and your presence. It's powerful.

Eliot Marshall : 

I love it, man. I love this. This is what I call the gospel. I love to spread the gospel. And it's whatever. It's not religious, but it is religious, you know.

Steve Brown : 

So people find your book on Amazon, "The Gospel of Fire." You've got a website.

Eliot Marshall : 

EliotMarshall.com

Steve Brown : 

And then you've got seven schools there in Denver, yes?

Eliot Marshall : 

Yeah. All currently close. So don't try to go to one now. Go there. We'll be back. We'll be back strong because we know how to fight.

Steve Brown : 

Elliot, thank you so much, man.

Eliot Marshall : 

Thanks. And it's also my podcast. My podcast The Gospel of Fire as well, which you can get to it from my website. And wherever you listen to podcasts.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah. All right. Take care. Thank you.

Eliot Marshall : 

Thank you, man. I appreciate you having me on.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah, I love it. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better, be sure to pick up your copy of my book, "The Golden Toilet," at surprise, thegoldentoilet.com. I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast.