Who the Hell Is Sevan Matossian—and Why Was He Homeless?

Sevan Matossian

Andrew (00:00:02):

Sevan Matossian is on Two-Brain Radio. Sevan made the first CrossFit Games documentary, worked as the head of CrossFit media for years, and now hosts the Sevan Podcast. If you’ve heard of CrossFit, you’ve definitely watched something Sevan filmed. Please note that this episode involves an open discussion about media and context, and we’ve left the language intact. It is not suitable for all audiences and listener discretion is advised. Chris Cooper digs into Sevan’s crazy history right after this.

Chris (00:00:32):

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Chris (00:01:04):

Hey everybody, Chris Cooper here and today’s guest on the podcast is Sevan Matossian. Sevan worked for CrossFit long before my time, but he was one of the very first people I met as an employee of CrossFit or a subcontractor or whatever I was. It’s funny how I met him.

Chris (00:01:21):

So in 2012, I had been hired as a writer for the Canada East Regional at that time. And there were a number of people who were hired to be writers, and there was like a local or regional director of media too. And something happened with that local director, maybe she even qualified for the event. And so I quickly got promoted to the head of media for Canada East without really even doing anything other than writing a couple of articles. And part of my job at Regionals was keep spectators off the floor, keep out extra cameras out of the building. Don’t let other people take CrossFit’s IP and use it for their own purposes. So the event’s going along great. I’m kind of settling into this role. And Greg Glassman comes in the door and there’s this huge, huge tide of people just swarming to him.

Chris (00:02:12):

And the whole crowd kind of like stops looking at the competition and they all look to the door and they start lining up to shake his hand and high five them. And you can’t get through the crowd, even if you had to go to the bathroom or maybe even onto the Games floor. And while all this is happening, the bleachers are emptying out. And there’s just this mob around Greg. I happen to notice there’s a photographer on the floor who shouldn’t be there. The event is still going on and there’s this guy on the floor with his ball cap pulled down over his eyes, shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting. He has nothing on him that says he belongs there. He looks like a spectator. And I run up to the guy and I say, Hey, you got to get the hell out of here.

Chris (00:02:51):

And he says, oh, Hey man, I’m really sorry about that. I’ll just get out of your way. Very polite. I found out later this guy is Sevan Matossian and he was the executive or the director of media for CrossFit Inc at the time. And this was my first introduction to him. And you’re going to find in this interview, a lot of the times, Sevy, he’s humble, but I also want to let you know that he is clear. He is creative. He’s very, very smart. He has, you know, a bird’s eye perspective on a lot of things that are going on in the world because he was homeless for three years. And during that time he learned to be not an outsider, but an observer of what happens. That turned him into an award-making filmmaker. It really helped boost CrossFit. You’re going to hear all that in this interview.

Chris (00:03:42):

You’re also going to hear some perspectives on what’s happening with the cancel culture that maybe you don’t hear before, and maybe they don’t even align with your own observations. And that’s OK. The reason that Sevy is such a great guest on this show is that he’s going to say things that you might not agree with, that I might not agree with. He’s going to say some things that you wholeheartedly agree with, and he is just such a great guy to have around because he is that honest, that open. And that’s what the interview is all about. I know you’re going to love it. I’ve had some great barbecues at Sevan’s house when CrossFit HQ was in Santa Cruz, I know what a caring individual person he is. And I think that really shines through in the interview. I think you’re gonna love it.

Chris (00:04:27):

That’s where I want to start. Who the hell is Sevan? Why should everybody know who you are?

Sevan (00:04:33):

  1. I’m game.

Chris (00:04:35):

Yeah. Well, why don’t we go back to one of the first stories you ever told me about yourself. You were working in a retirement home.

Sevan (00:04:41):

A home for disabled adults. Boy. So freedom’s an interesting idea.

Chris (00:04:50):

Not to throw out a curve ball here.

Sevan (00:04:54):

Freedom is when you are not afraid. So like some people, their electricity goes out and they panic. Like they really panic. Some people, their water gets turned off and they panic. Freedom is your threshold for happiness, how little you need to be happy. And so I was, and it requires to go through barriers of your fear, stuff you’re afraid of.

Sevan (00:05:30):

Right? So basically I was living in Santa Barbara, California in a small town called Isla Vista. And I had been an undergrad for seven years and my parents were done paying my way. And I had started exploring what it meant to be, to live like sort of an ascetic, if I’m pronouncing it right lifestyle, like basically like a Buddha or Jesus. I was on a mission to, I had become aware of something of me and I was on a mission to like identify it and I couldn’t identify it. And I was struggling with that. And so but I was also extremely happy and I didn’t want to lose this sort of this peace and this happiness I had. So basically I decided through just the little bit I read about, psychology and Buddhism and how the mind works is the fewer things you’re attached to the happier you are and the easier it is to be yourself.

Sevan (00:06:21):

So basically, you know, you’re driving down the street, a rock flies up and hits your car window and you get pissed. You’re letting the small rock, crack your window, upset you and control your mood. That just didn’t seem like I didn’t want that in my life. Right. I wanted freedom from all of that. And so there’s two ways you can do it. You can get rid of everything you own, or you can start a practice, a mindful practice, so that when you do become emotional, your emotions, don’t, you know, come up out of the basement and take over your life. Right. You get bad news and you immediately have an emotional reaction. So through that, I just, I started cultivating, awareness. And, basically I realized that the only the way to cultivate the most awareness would be to give everything up and start like a really, really deep practice.

Sevan (00:07:03):

And so when my mom stopped paying for my college, because I was screwing around and I’ve been an undergrad for seven years, I think I actually did go out and get a job. I had the job for like two days. It was some typical job that hippies did. Like they went door to door and raised money. Oh God, what was the name of that organization? I forget, but there’s some big organization that’s in every college and you go door to door and you raise money for like campaigns or whatnot, but people hire this company to raise money for their campaigns. And so, I realized that job wasn’t for me. And I quickly just went from my parents, giving me money to having nothing, right. I just had this dog, and myself and I couldn’t afford rent. And just overnight, I just went from living a really nice lifestyle as a college student to just being homeless.

Sevan (00:07:49):

And I did that. It was a tough, it was a tough entry the first week or two was tough. And then after a while, I just realized, holy shit. And I just, this is amazing. This is freedom. I transcended my fears of needing all the things that I thought I needed. And, I quickly built a very structured and disciplined life for myself. I started, you know, making sure I worked out every day, making sure I read every day, making sure I went to the swimming at the beach every day. I taught myself how to play chess every day. I made sure I read every day, I started drawing. I had never done any drawing my whole life. I just built this life for myself, but not having a home. Right. And it’s in Santa Barbara, California, you know what I mean?

Sevan (00:08:29):

It’s not, there’s not a lot of crime. There’s an abundance of food and anything you would need and it’s warm weather. So take that as you may. And I was young. I was a 23 year old man, you know, and I had a great Dane and I had no drug habits. I wasn’t addicted to alcohol or marijuana, or I smoked cigarettes. I was addicted to nicotine. Although I don’t know if I smoked at that point, but anyway, and all my peers in that realm of being homeless, you have to understand they are all addicted to something a hundred percent. So all the guys at the park, anywhere you were to go, if I was getting food out of the back of a store, those people, most people who are in that situation are not doing what I’m doing on some, you know, 20 year old vision quest.

Sevan (00:09:14):

So after about two years of that, I walked by a home for disabled adults repeatedly on my path in this town, there was a home for disabled adults, and I would walk by it all the time. And I would see these disabled adults down at the beach, and I got to know them. And I got to know the people who work there a little bit, you know, just like not their names or anything, but I would say hi to them or whatnot. And then one day, and this whole time I was barefoot also, I basically just had the clothes on my back, my dog, it was pre cell phone pre basically computer. And there was a free box in town. It was a college town, so I could get clothes there periodically. But and so I walked by this home for disabled adults a thousand times.

Sevan (00:09:51):

And one day I decided, Hey, I’m going to get a job there. I have an abundance of love and freedom and time. And I really just want to go in there and like give of myself. So I went in there. I can’t believe I actually got the job. My wife at the time, who’s my wife now, Haley. I knew her in town. She was younger than me. She was just, a young lady who went to the college and I knew all of her friends. And when I told them one day just in the street, Hey, I’m getting a job at this place. She said, Hey, do you mind if I apply there too? And basically she was saying like, Hey, I’m going to apply for a job at the same time you are. And you have no chance of getting a job.

Sevan (00:10:28):

She later told me she felt bad. Cause I was going in there, just the homeless guy, right. With the long hair and barefoot. So we both ended up getting the job there. And I worked there for five years. And I started at the bottom there as the lowest out of 20 employees making $7 an hour. I think that was minimum wage, 7.15 or something an hour. And when I left five years later, I was the manager of the house. I had 20 people working for me. And, basically, you know, in my mind I’d become filthy rich, right. I was making $7 an hour with no expenses, zero expenses. And so, that was my, there supposed to—oh yeah, I see the recording light. And so that I saved after about a year or two I’d saved, I think it was a year or two I’d saved, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars.

Sevan (00:11:17):

Like I $10,000 or whatever in the bank account. And I was working a ton. I was working 60, 80, a hundred hour weeks. They had a night shift there, you know, so like I could stay there for like three days in a row. And so, I ended up one day just, I don’t know how I got this. Oh, I know how I got the idea. I’d always wanted a video camera my whole life. So imagine this guy who doesn’t own anything except the dog. And I bought a video camera at a store called Circuit City. I don’t know if a lot of you remember Circuit City. And I started just taping everything I could around town, in the home for disabled adults. And then about a year after doing all of that taping, Apple made an announcement that they were going to release a laptop called like a G5 clam book and some software called final cut pro where people could edit at home.

Sevan (00:12:03):

And I was fascinated by this. I hadn’t used a computer in probably three years. I knew nothing about technology at all. And basically in one fell swoop, I took all the money I had and I bought like a 1977, like Toyota Chinook with like a camper shell on the back and this computer and this software and spent all 10,000 of my dollars, plugged this computer into the cigarette lighter of this Toyota Chinook. And I just taught myself how to edit, like the day it came out and it was an incredible steep learning curve. And I was in a panic because it took me, you know, two weeks just to load the 10 DVDs into the computer. And there was no, you couldn’t go to a website. There was no internet. So I had to call and be on tech support. Anyways.

Sevan (00:12:48):

So basically my going back to what I was saying before, basically I was this person who had experienced tremendous, tremendous freedom. Like I know to most people from the outside, it sounds scary to be homeless. If you’ve, if you’ve never been homeless, if you’ve never experienced that type of freedom, you’re going to die with a life that’s not, in the most humble way, I can say possible as rich or as my life, you just will never know. And that’s going to be the vast majority of people. Unfortunately, we live in a society today where it’s actually the opposite of being — we have people who are terrified who can do zero risk assessment. We live in a society of the least free people who’ve ever lived on this planet. They think they’re free. I mean, it’s crazy. It’s crazy what I see because of the perspective that I gave myself and don’t get me wrong.

Sevan (00:13:34):

I’ve lost a lot of my freedom too, by detaching myself from that. But I’ve also over the years, continued to work on my practice of not letting, not being attached to my thoughts, my emotions, my belongings, my life. And if you don’t have that daily practice, if you’re not aware of that mechanism in the brain, that’s where all happiness leads to also when you are in that spot of ultimate freedom, and you’re just clinging to your life, the happiness is beyond explanation. Those are my beginning roots and you know and so basically I was on the cutting edge of technology. I was making TV shows with final cut pro and Apple before anyone else in the world was doing it. I made 20 TV shows and published them to a public access station in Santa Barbara, California started making commercials for all the local businesses.

Sevan (00:14:29):

There was, I knew no one else who was doing anything remotely like that. And I did it from day one from the day final cut pro came out. So then I just accidentally became who I am today. Like I just, basically, I was a homeless guy who just decided to put my oars, I was just in a boat floating in the ocean, just letting it take me wherever. And then when I got that job, basically, that was me putting my oars in the ocean. Right. And I started rowing and here we are now I’m talking to Chris Cooper.

Chris (00:14:57):

Well, there were a few other steps there. So the next thing that happened was that you actually produced a film that won awards.

Sevan (00:15:05):

Yeah. Yes. So, while I was there, I started filming the disabled adults, mentally disabled adults. I ended up making a film called Our House.

Sevan (00:15:16):

Won 30 film festival awards, did fantastic. And that, even though I still never felt like a movie director and to this day, like I talk about that, I don’t feel like a movie director. I did it, you know, like, I’ve made five or 10 movies. All documentaries, primarily documentaries. I’ve produced five or 10, including all, basically all of the CrossFit documentaries when I was there. But that was good. That was fun. That was in hindsight. I don’t know how much I like that. I don’t know if I like enjoyed movie-making. But I’m glad I did it. It wasa ton, a ton of work. But I never identified with it. Like now, now I have kids and I identify with being a father. I have a coffee machine over here in my kitchen, and I identify more with it being mine than I do

Sevan (00:16:10):

like any of those films being mine. It’s weird. But, yeah, I’m Armenian, my dad’s an immigrant. My mom’s first-generation. So I’m second generation on my mom’s side, first generation on my dad’s side. Hard work is just like something we do. I’ve always saw my parents work hard late into the night. I enjoy working hard. So basically what it was is it was just, it seemed like everything was just fortuitous. Like everything just unfolded in front of me and I just did it, but it all worked out like it was great. And I enjoy, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy making movies. It just wasn’t, I don’t know. I need to think that out a little bit more, but it didn’t come.

Sevan (00:16:58):

It wasn’t like perfectly smooth. I wasn’t like, oh my God. This is my craft. This is my art. I felt like there was probably more ego in it than, love of it.

Chris (00:17:10):

But what you did produce was really important to the growth of CrossFit. Before we get into that and storytelling and all that stuff, how did you meet Greg Glassman or find CrossFit or how did CrossFit find you?

Sevan (00:17:22):

So after my five-year stint at the home for disabled adults, basically. So when I made that movie, Our House, the state of California got really upset. And they said, this is a horrible depiction of disabled adults. And then the parents came to my rescue and they said, Hey, you’re right. It is a horrible depiction of disabled adults, but this is the reality. Being mentally disabled is actually this hard.

Sevan (00:17:46):

It was awesome that the parents came to my defense. And there was starting to become friction between myself and the owners of this company. And there was a lot of tension at the company because of the scrutiny that the state was putting this company under. So basically at that point, I started another movie called Pulling John, it’s an arm wrestling movie. And at that point I just broke away. I just, I think I quit. I think I quit the job there after five years, or I got fired. I can’t remember. And, so as I started making, I made this movie Pulling John over the next couple of years. Let’s say it’s from 2002 to 2005. I can’t even remember exactly. And then somewhere in there, I started making some TV shows, and I was making these arm wrestling shows for ESPN.

Sevan (00:18:39):

And I think I was either in Denver or Vegas, I can’t remember. And there was a body guard there and his name is Travis Titus. Do you know who that is, Chris?

Chris (00:18:46):

Yeah, I think so. Did Travis wind up doing some announcing at the CrossFit Games?

Sevan (00:18:50):

Oh, that was Travis Baigent. But I met Travis Titus through Travis Baigent. But yes. And, Travis Titus was a super high-end, security bodyguard. Like not like a guy in front of clubs, but like a guy in front of Mark Zuckerberg. Like that kind of guy. Right. Real body guard. Yeah. The real body guard, like guarding important assets. And so he was friends with Travis Baigent. He was at this arm wrestling TV show I was making and he was crazy fit. And he started telling us these workouts he did, this is 2005.

Sevan (00:19:24):

And I’m thinking to myself, Hey, why does this guy have to like, lie about his workouts? He already looks beautiful and fit. Why would he tell us he does a hundred pull-ups like, I mean, like, come on man. And you run a mile and then you come back and do 200 push-ups, and then you run a mile and then you do 300 air squats. Like there’s no reason, you don’t have to be a bragger. We already know you’re fit. So two weeks later, we get home and my buddy, Cary Peterson’s like, Hey man, I looked up that those workouts, that guy said he was doing, he goes, they have a ton of workouts with a hundred pull-ups in it. I’m like what? This is crazy. So the two of us ended up, just started doing CrossFit together. At least I thought it was CrossFit.

Sevan (00:20:03):

We basically just started doing the workouts on the website, but we didn’t do them for time. So like, if we were doing Fran, you would do your 11 thrusters. I would do my 11 thrusters. Then we’d look at some girls or drink some water or whatever. Then you do your 10. I do my 10, then we’d mosey on over to the pull-up bar. And tremendous workouts even like that. Right. For just guys who had never done thrusters, or, you know, we were using the lat pull-down machine instead of doing pull-ups. So we didn’t know what a snatch was. We didn’t know what a clean and jerk was. The muscle-up video on crossfit.com was so small and poor. And so we couldn’t just figure any of this stuff out. So basically what ends up happening is around. I want to say it was the summer of 2006.

Sevan (00:20:44):

We had gone back to my original stomping grounds of Santa Barbara. I had a motor home at the time, a 32 foot motor home, and we parked it on my friend’s lawn who lived on the beach and Cary Peterson and I would go to the gym at UC Santa Barbara and do CrossFit in the morning and then hang out at the beach all day. And then I would find odd video jobs on Craigslist. And we just did that for like three months. And in those three months, Cary said, Hey, they need better videos on their website. I go, Hey, why don’t you send them an email to Greg and Lauren, the owners and tell them we’ll make videos for them. And I don’t know if you remember, but it used to say on the site, do not contact us, like basically like crossfit.com and said, Hey, basically everything you need to know about CrossFit is in this website. Fuck off.

Chris (00:21:30):

No, I don’t remember that.

Sevan (00:21:32):

Yeah. So, but we wrote them an email anyway, and Lauren got back to us and said, Hey, so this is perfect. We’re looking for someone to make videos for us. So basically we went out to Prescott, California, where Greg and Lauren had just moved. And we made them a proposal for like $467,000 or something to make like a hundred videos for them over the next year. And, Greg and Lauren said, well, we don’t have a budget for that, but we’ll send you to an L1for free. And we went to an L1 and I had my head exploded. Like I couldn’t believe that I didn’t, I hadn’t already been doing this for the last 20 years. I couldn’t believe someone hadn’t — basically, they introduced me to my body.

Sevan (00:22:18):

They’re like Sevan, this is your body, your body. This is Sevan. And, I mean, you know, the thing, Greg says, everything I’m teaching you today, if you’re a 12 year old with even moderate ability to use the internet, you can learn yourself. I didn’t invent anything. These are all movements that are either, you know, created by God or part and parcel with your DNA. I mean, it was just like, and it all just resonated with me. And, you know, and I had issues with CrossFit right off the bat, too. You know, I was at the L1 and Dave Castro laid out the bars, the 95 pound bars and the 65 pound bars to do Fran. And he said, OK, we have the 95 pound bars over here for men. And we have a 65 pound bar.

Sevan (00:22:58):

And that’s where I had lined up for women and pussies. And I’m like, what I’m like, and, you know, I’m this, like, I’m this easily offended liberal from Berkeley, right. And I’m this easily offended like that. Life’s about being offended when you’re from California. And I was like, how dare he? Like, and so I had my speed bumps coming in. Right. And, I made videos for free for a year for Greg and Lauren. Cary Peterson learned how to make videos. He was my friend at the time I taught him everything that I could teach him. And he was a great self-learner himself. And basically me and him and Tony Budding made videos for CrossFit, basically just the two of us for the next two years. And I want to say that it’s, I think it would be fair to say that there was a period of a couple of years in there where 50% of the content I had made, like every single day for years, 2007, 8, 9, 10.

Sevan (00:23:52):

And, I remember one time it was like Christmas or January, like a 60 day period straight. I want to say it was in 2010 where every single video, every piece of content they were publishing, I made, and they had this thing on the wall when I walked into the office, it said Sevan.com instead of crossfit.com. So yeah, I poured and basically the way CrossFit’s so, so fascinating. There’s so many things that people just will never understand because they just weren’t in that situation. But imagine working, the only thing I can think of it,, and you know, I haven’t found God or seen Jesus, but the only thing I can think of that’s tantamount to is imagine, you know, 20 people standing around and Jesus showing himself, you know, those 20 people for the next till the day they die are going to talk about that experience.

Sevan (00:24:43):

And so I worked at a place where, you know, at its peak, there were 200 of us and all of us. Our lives had been saved by CrossFit, profoundly changed or saved. And so it was basically, you didn’t have to tell anyone what to do. You didn’t have to, like, there were just these, everyone there was so passionate and worked so hard and everyone worked 365 days a year. And you know, like, God forbid, let’s say you did take a day off. You would visit you were on vacation. You, what were you doing? You were visiting a CrossFit gym. I mean, it was a remarkable, remarkable. They’ll never be another place like it. And, you know, I’m open to being wrong about that. But as long as I live, most people will never get the opportunity to experience what anyone who worked at HQ in the beginning experienced.

Sevan (00:25:29):

And yet half of them complained until the company was sold. And I bet you now, if you circle back and talk to them, they would fucking punch themselves in the face and they can’t believe what’s happened. They would be like, holy shit, I’m sorry for every bad thing I ever said about Greg, I cannot fucking believe I thought the grass was greener on the other side. So, yeah.

Chris (00:25:48):

So, a big part of it was like Greg had created this incredible product, but there’s a yin and yang to the CrossFit story. And I think that CrossFit was always fueled by media. And what do you think would have happened if the company hadn’t embraced media in those early days?

Sevan (00:26:07):

So, so that’s really, really the crux of it. You nailed it. And they used to tell us, Hey, this is a media company, this is a media company.

Sevan (00:26:17):

This is a media company. And it depends on what day you caught Greg. But, there was a time when they were first launching the website and, you know, actually a few years after they launched the website that people started putting pictures on the internet. And I guess a lot of people don’t know this now, but there was this huge debate inside that the pictures were slowing down the load time of the website. And Greg was like, fuck you guys. I don’t care if it’s slowing it down, make other people catch up. We are tip of the spear, if the technology is there to load pictures, we’re going to load pictures. I mean, now people don’t get that because they load fucking eight K video, like bam like that. But there was, and so you’re right. You absolutely right. Without the media, it would be nowhere where it is today.

Sevan (00:26:59):

And I know that people are going to say this is self-serving, but I think probably one of the most profound things by far bar none that happened is Every Second Counts. I don’t know if it was as big as Nasty Girls, but there were these huge, massive leaps, that we took the videos that were just hugely profound to the movement. And of course, anything that Greg spoke, like, you know, if he gave a lecture and we published it, it was just nuts. I mean, when I started there, I think there were less than 300 gyms. And when I left, I don’t know, I don’t know how many there were, but let’s say the highest it went when I was there in the last two years was, let’s say 15,000. So, I mean, that’s a crazy, crazy experience.

Sevan (00:27:44):

I don’t think most people could get their head wrapped around of what it’s like being inside of a hive that grows that fast. And that big.

Chris (00:27:50):

I can say from my experience, we had found CrossFit and we were really starting to embrace the method. But when we saw Every Second Counts, we went all in and that’s when I said, we’ve got to do this. This is all I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m going to open up a CrossFit gym. And so that storytelling for me was really like, what made it a movement or something bigger than just another method.

Sevan (00:28:14):

Yeah. I want to tell this story before I forget. I really, really wish I would have opened with this. It’s funny. I practiced this last night as I fell asleep in bed, and I thought about it this morning, and I should have opened with this.

Sevan (00:28:26):

For those of you who are listening. I worked at CrossFit for 15 years and I used to have this podcast at CrossFit, Inc. For like 11 months, it was hugely, hugely successful from any metric you want to say. The affiliates, most of the affiliates loved it. The outpour of love we got from the affiliates was great. The metrics were crazy. And it was probably outside of the movie one of the first things that we were doing that was starting to go mainstream because it was climbing on the charts. At the time I knew Chris Cooper and I was a huge fan of Chris Cooper. As a person. I didn’t know much about his work. I mean, I had talked to him a bunch and I had heard through the community, but every time I saw him at any events or whatnot, we really hit it off.

Sevan (00:29:01):

We were kindred spirits. I enjoyed sitting with him. I felt the love. And there was some contention between Chris and CrossFit HQ because Greg and some of the people, depended on whether Greg was around, whether these people sided with him or not, they were pretty fickle. But basically there was this, poo-pooing from the top that Greg didn’t think that business advice should be given by anyone or HQ. And he, of all the people, he did have a soft spot for Chris, because I think so many of us did. We did say to Greg, Hey man, we’ve heard Chris’s shtick. It’s amazing. It doesn’t just work for CrossFit. It worked for life. Like he has some protocols in place that will really help in the advancement of just people understanding what they want out of life and what success looks like.

Sevan (00:29:48):

And then the steps to get there. So you don’t make the same mistakes other people made. Anyway, I don’t want to try to sum up what you’re doing in a few sentences, but anyway, we eventually had Chris on the CrossFit podcast and we had him on twice. And, I told the story and my sister said to me the other day, Hey, if you told that story a thousand times it would never get old. So I wanted to make sure I told you guys this story on Chris’s podcast. We had Chris on the CrossFit podcast. I had a great time on the show. The number of viewers for both shows Chris, were probably our two lowest amount of viewers ever. The response was the highest ever. And so by that, I mean the comments in the YouTube section, the emails we got into HQ, the outpour of like, holy crap, have this guy back on, oh my God do more of this, was pretty amazing.

Sevan (00:30:41):

And that’s why we had him on a second time. So while some people, like, if you were interested in quality, Chris was the guy.

Chris (00:30:46):

Thank you.

Sevan (00:30:48):

And so flash forward now, and it’s 2021, and I am fired from CrossFit HQ. A bunch of people are telling me to do a podcast. I’m like, no, I’ll never do that. I just want to hang out with my kids and play with my kids all day. And I just want to teach my kids and spend my time with my family and a gentleman, the shirt I’m wearing right here from CrossFit Livermore, Matt Souza reached out to me and said, Hey, I think you should start the CrossFit podcast up again. And I said, no, thank you. And he said, Hey, I’ll do whatever it takes to help you. And I said, no, I’m really not interested.

Sevan (00:31:20):

And he said, well, why aren’t you doing it? And I said, because I don’t want to schedule a podcast. I don’t want to be responsible for finding guests. It’s a pain in the neck. And he goes, OK. He goes, well, many years ago, you had Chris Cooper on from Two-Brain business. And I said, oh yeah, I remember that. And he goes and my gym was failing. I said, oh, how did that go? And he goes, I listened to the podcast. I started implementing some of the things that he suggested. I went out and got all of his books. I read everything he did, and now I’m killing it. And I go, oh, and he goes, no, I’m serious. I’m really killing it. And he goes, I go, well, congratulations. And he goes, and I want to pay it forward to you. And I’m like, oh, well, thank you.

Sevan (00:31:56):

But you don’t have to do that. And he goes, no, I insist. And I said, no, thank you. And he said, I’ll give you one of my employees to help produce your podcasts. And I’m like, no, but thank you. And I get off the phone. And I’m a little overwhelmed by this that I had Chris Cooper on four years ago, help this guy. And now this guy wants to pay it forward. This is like, it’s a little fairytale, right? So I tell my wife this story. And she says, I can’t believe you’re not going to do the podcast. And I said, why? And she said, you’re a firm believer that the universe is always conspiring to help you. And here it is giving you all the direction and everything you need. It’s rolled the red carpet out right to your cell phone and you’re turning it down. And I said, oh. So I called this guy back, Matt Souza, the owner of CrossFit Livermore. And I said, I will do 500 shows in two years and work my ass off, but you got to keep up with me. And he said, yeah. So I did a podcast with Chris Cooper that helped a guy who knows how many people it helped by the way. By the way, anyone who wants to pay it forward. I’m open to you guys paying me back now.

Sevan (00:33:01):

And so here we are, I’m 117 episodes in, and we’ve just, we’ve just taken over the space. We’re just killing it. And the community has been so sweet and nice to me. And once again, I think, I think that the attraction of that podcast is the fact that we’re in a society where everyone is so easily offended and everyone is so uptight and everyone is so scared. And I think people are just are, they’re sort of, they, it’s refreshing to hear someone like me be like, just let it go, let it hang, let it fly. I wouldn’t say—I’m just being as real as I can be. Right. I dunno. I don’t know if it’s real, but it’s as real as I can be.

Chris (00:33:40):

We’ll get back to the show, right after this. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Forever Fierce. Reach out to them to sell more apparel or retail items. Matt Albrizio and his team will save you time with templates. They’ll provide ideas and tell you what’s selling best. And they’ll supply marketing material and preorder sheets. If you want to get serious about apparel and retail, visit foreverfierce.com.

Chris (00:33:49):

Sevan, you’re known for being off the cuff, and it makes you a great host. But do you ever get in trouble for speaking your mind? Or do you ever have to censor yourself?

Sevan (00:34:10):

Well, I did that. Yeah. There’ll be some things, there’s definitely, I can see that’s weird because then I see those things. Right. But so the reason why I lost my job at CrossFit is basically because of an interview I did with Stacie Tovar. I mean, when they fired me, Andrew Weinstein called me and said, Hey, your position has been eliminated. Well, that’s fucking utterly absurd.

Sevan (00:34:35):

Cause no one had told me what my position was since the day Greg had sold the company and I had been there for three or four months. And in that time I’d gone from being an executive at CrossFit to once again the largest producer of content at CrossFit. I think in my last two weeks there, I submitted 50 pieces of content. So imagine that imagine you’re the executive media director of a company and you have a hundred employees and then within two or three years, they’re gone and you have no issue going back and just making content again. That was me and I made a ton of content and it was the best content. And what I mean, by the best it was, it was, it was, it was the best. And I started going back to L1 and filming.

Sevan (00:35:13):

So I basically what had happened was, is I did an interview with Stacie Tovar and we were talking about her menstrual cycle and how it, and granted, I’m not stupid. Like, I understand that I say that I say things that are off the cuff or that it’s not OK to tell a woman she’s beautiful. I totally understand that’s the era we’re in. I understand. It’s not OK to be like, oh my God, you have incredible butt. What did it look like before you did CrossFit? And I also understand the absurdity of it that it’s, I should be able to talk to anyone at the CrossFit Games about their butt, because 24 hours a day, they work on their body, their nutrition, their sleep, their motor recruitment patterns, their clothes, everything revolves around their body, 24 7.

Sevan (00:35:59):

So for me to not be able to say, to ask them anything about their body, right. When you squat heavy, do you get hemorrhoids? I mean, anything should be fair game and yet it’s not. I mean, it is for me, but it’s not for, and so basically I was, in this interview I did with Stacie Tovar, I was talking to her about her menses and what clothes look better on her for what workouts, what stay on better. And I have the same talks with men too, for anyone who knows my work. There’s no like, and these things that I get in trouble for Chris, I also, it’s funny. I just heard Jake Paul, he’s a controversial character here in the United States. I don’t know if he’s big in Canada, but he said, I’m really not a bad guy, but when people accuse me of bad shit, instead of avoiding it or explaining myself, I just lean into it.

Sevan (00:36:45):

And so the other day, someone made a comment to me that I referred to Danielle Brandon as the hot chick. So instead of explaining myself, I just leaned into it. OK, fine. Then she can just be the hot chick, if that upsets you then that’s, I mean, it’s so absurd to think that like that, like, that’s all she is. I mean, clearly we saw her perform at the CrossFit Games. Clearly I interviewed her. She’s a mental giant, right? I mean, she’s got a fierce, competitive mind. Her brain is a steel trap. So anyway, so I do this interview with Stacie Tovar three years ago. And basically it’s what gets me fired. You know, whenever I got fired a year ago and gets basically gets my wife fired, I would argue. And so CrossFit fired me and my wife on the same day.

Sevan (00:37:30):

And, yeah, I think it was for like, to answer your question, do I get in trouble for what I say? Yeah. The New York Times took that article completely out of context. It didn’t upset Stacie Tovar at all. I’ve had her on podcasts since then twice. Basically they did something vicious. Imagine if I did an interview with you, Chris, and someone leveraged that to say that I was putting you down when you never thought that while I was interviewing you. I mean, basically they, the only people who are sexist or vicious or malicious in this whole thing was the New York Times because they leveraged an interview. They never even called Stacie to be like, Hey, was that offensive? Or was that uncomfortable speaking to Sevan about your menses on the CrossFit podcast? I mean, it’s just so yeah, you can get in trouble, but at this point it doesn’t matter, right?

Sevan (00:38:11):

Like now, now I’m fired. And that’s what people like about the podcast. That’s what’s so absurd. Some people will be like, Hey, do you think CrossFit would ever hire you back? I could never go back. It would be like catching. You wouldn’t like me anymore. I would go back to being one of those guys. Like, like we would have never, CrossFit Inc. has something called the DEI council, diversity, equity, inclusivity, anytime anyone sees that you should like, if you know anything about leadership, you know, that’s just all horseshit because if you wanted more black people or more, short Armenian people into be doing CrossFit, you would put someone in charge of it and they would get it done. You wouldn’t have a council that’s like voting on this or that. And this, you would go build a gym in Harlem.

Sevan (00:38:52):

Or if you wanted more Armenians, you’d build a free gym in Glendale. Or if you wanted more Puerto Ricans, I dunno where the Puerto Ricans live somewhere in New York, but like, it’s I’m not that person. I come from the generation before, right? I could never fit in there.I’m a soaring Eagle. And if you gave me a job at CrossFit, I would be a caged Eagle and no one wants to see a caged Eagle.

Chris (00:39:13):

I think it’s part of this get shit done. Put somebody in charge of it until it happened. They kind of created this renown around you and the others across the HQ as being a biker gang. Where did that notion come from? And like, did it help? Did it hurt?

Sevan (00:39:29):

So no one’s ever said this to me, but this is my perception from far away.

Sevan (00:39:35):

And we all did—CrossFit was basically an experiment and there was this guy, Greg Glassman, who rode his bike to the gym every day because he couldn’t rub two nickels together. And he lived at home with his second wife in an apartment with a child from his first marriage. And he basically was putting together just this fitness program and he was extremely intelligent, but he was extremely eccentric. And he was an artist in a way that most people can’t fathom. And he was contemptuous and opinionated. And he was the first you know, on the low carb thing 30 years ago, when I don’t think people realized how dangerous that was like that he lost his job for saying things like that. Like, Hey, eat less bread. You’re fired. I mean, and squat below parallel. You’re out of here, we don’t ever want to see you in this gym again.

Sevan (00:40:23):

I mean, it was crazy. And so he basically started this experiment and, it spread to 162 countries and millions of us signed up to be his lab rats and people got confused. They started calling it a community and they didn’t realize that they, that it was an experiment. And they didn’t realize that. And the affiliates were basically like people who paid money to open labs and they didn’t realize they, people started making it something that it wasn’t, it’s strictly an experiment to make the fittest human beings and figure out what they need to eat and how we can make them live the longest. Longevity health, and he had defined a lot of the parameters like, longevity was how long you could wipe your own ass. Right? You would hear him say that in the L1 like, Hey, the cornerstone of CrossFit is not your Fran time necessarily.

Sevan (00:41:15):

It’s how low long you sit on the toilet, wipe your own butt and not go to the old folks home. Right. You’ve heard him say that a hundred times. Right. And so, and this is the diet. And so then what ends up happening is it’s an experiment and people will start wanting to like, interfere with his experiment. And those were people like Coca-Cola ESPN, Nike, and maybe they had been interfering with it all along. But once he realized they were interfering with his experiment, it threw Greg into an activism mindset. And so that’s where a lot of people just totally misunderstood him. He didn’t care how much Coke you drank. He didn’t care. Like if you, wanted to do meth all day, he was not a judgmental character. Do you know what I mean? What he was upset about was is that someone like Coca Cola could give money to someone like Ohio state who could, or the NSCA, and then they could make up a study and have it published saying CrossFit injures people.

Sevan (00:42:12):

And then it’d be republished 500 times. That’s where he started getting, like, what the fuck, guys, or where you would tell people that high fructose corn syrup and sucralose are the same thing and that you could pay to have that put in the new England journal of medicine when he started seeing stuff like that. He realized, OK, we have gone from a science experiment. And that’s where the mixture comes. Like we were part hell’s angels, part Catholic church part Greenpeace. Right? I mean, we’d pull up our little whaling ship next to the big Japanese whale ship and just start throwing rocks at it. And that’s the bizarre part too, because we weren’t actually ever selling anything. And Greg was adamant about not selling anything. It was basically just personal accountability we were selling and to, you know, and so to wrap up kind of what you’re saying, none of, I don’t think anything would have happened without the media, the steady drum beat every single day of, first starting with the workouts, then the write ups and the articles, then the pictures, then the videos that was the discipline component.

Sevan (00:43:18):

You could go there every day at five o’clock and get your fix. And then, and then the next step was just the spread of it, like wildfire and just keeping true. And that was another reason why it was so powerful. And that’s why it didn’t make a lot of money is because he stayed true to the message, just maintained integrity on the front end, integrity, integrity. Like this is our message. It’s none of that anymore. Anyone who thinks that — there is no CrossFit anymore. I know it’s weird. And it’s hard for people to understand that. There’s gas powered cars and electric cars, and they’re both cars, right? They both have this mission to move something from point a to point B. But it’s not like that anymore.

Sevan (00:44:02):

I think the business model that CrossFit was was is that CrossFit was the hell’s angels. They didn’t sell anything. They were a brand and they stand true for what the brand stood for, which was truth around health and fitness. And I think now CrossFit, because I’m assuming, you know, you could ask Roza, but because of its fiduciary duties and its investors and the desire to make money, it is not the hell’s angels. It is now Harley Davidson, or it’s trying to become Harley Davidson. And that will be the miracle. Can you take something that’s an idea. That’s just a singular focus on the truth of an idea and monetize it without losing that. I don’t think you can in the slightest, I think there’s no way to do it, but we’ll see.

Sevan (00:44:50):

Especially if you don’t know you’re doing it, right. Like, especially like, I don’t know if Roza even knows what he bought, I don’t even know if, like, I don’t even know if the affiliates know, like, I know some affiliates know what they bought, but I don’t even know if like, how many of the affiliates know what they bought. Another thing is this, you know, and Greg realized this also he had sold a hundred thousand L1s, right? They were always a thousand dollars. They never changed the price for 10 or 15 years. At one point he realized, oh my goodness, I need to tell these people that not only is this the CrossFit L1but it’s the cure for type two diabetes and chronic disease. So it’s kinda cool. It’s like, it’s kind of funny. I remember Greg had a Tesla and he’d be like, oh, let’s go out and drive my Tesla.

Sevan (00:45:32):

And I’d be like, why he’s, oh, they updated the software last night while we’re sleeping and now drives itself. It’s kind of like that you take your L1 and it just unfolds your whole life. You think you bought it to get a good Fran time or to go to the CrossFit Games and you’re 50 and you realize, holy hist, this software actually, will teach me how to wipe my butt my whole life and save my mom from dying of type two diabetes. I mean, it’s this unfolding gift that never stops giving. It’s the most profound thing that, I mean, that is what CrossFit still does have. I mean, those guys are holding onto a treasure with that L1. By treasure I mean, a gift in the form of gift to humanity, not in terms of monetization.

Chris (00:46:09):

  1. So you referred to the little Greenpeace rowboat taking on the battleship. And while you and Greg and CrossFit didn’t have the largest audience, you had like the audience with the highest affinity or the strongest connection to the brand, would you say that that was really the power of the CrossFit audience while Greg was still running the company was the connection.

Sevan (00:46:32):

I’m not sure I understand the question. I think the strongest connection was the fact that no matter what anyone told you about CrossFit, the people who did it knew the potency of it, right? So like someone like Josh Bridges starts doing it in 2005 shows up to BUDs a later. And he’s the fittest guy applying to become a Navy SEAL. And like, he knows, oh shit. And to this day, he’ll tell you, holy crap, CrossFit’s the shit right? You have someone like Chris Hinshaw who was considered the fittest man alive, you know, two or three years in a row when he was doing the Iron Man, it completely destroys his body.

Sevan (00:47:06):

He finds CrossFit 10 years later and he’s like, holy shit. I mean, you have all these guys overseas doing CrossFit. And they know that it’s the difference between life and death so that those people who had embraced it, and I guess referring if that’s the audience you’re talking about, we had their attention and then he had pivoted and pivoted way too far. Greg completely lost his whole balance. In my opinion, he pivoted to unhealthy people and abandoned his, he thought that it was OK to abandon the base because we had them forever, but it wasn’t OK to abandon them. We should have still made some content for them. We still should have, like, we had the tip of the spear. We should definitely did the right thing by pivoting to sick people, but we over pivoted. But, he basically then pivoted to people with type two diabetes, right.

Sevan (00:47:52):

And said, Hey, we have the cure for you. And how did he do that? He started, aggregating doctors and all the smartest people in the room and he did an amazing job with that. He got all the smartest doctors, scientists, people in the world kept bringing them to HQ. And kept talking about, Hey, if you do CrossFit, you’ll be saved. And, um, and for those of you who are listening to this, who don’t do CrossFit, I can’t imagine there’s any, by that. I know you want to get defensive and push back, but you should just look into what CrossFit is. It’s basically what you eat, how you move and it’s your friend, you’re in a support community. That helps you maintain that lifestyle. Right? So it’s everything you could ever want.

Chris (00:48:32):

At its peak, the CrossFit platform, or just the audience was so big that there was room for other people to build their brand. And you mentioned Chris Hinshaw, nobody knew really who he was, unless you were in the Iron Man community. Now I think everybody in CrossFit or worldwide has some idea of Chris Hinshaw, that guy runs or something. Right, right, right. And, there were a lot of other people who built a personal brand on the CrossFit brand and a lot of people would say, I’m in that boat. How was that perceived at CrossFit HQ? Or was it encouraged? Was it even acknowledged?

Sevan (00:49:05):

I could tell you that Chris, just fucking insane stories. I don’t want to speak for, I do want to speak for other people there, but I should just be careful. I love the other brand building.

Sevan (00:49:17):

I loved it and I wanted to do it. The only thing that sucked about building other people’s brands is when they would get so big and they would turn into douchbags, which was like all the time, but it was OK. I didn’t care. Like whatever, we’ll still do it. I love building the brands from the day I got there. I wanted to make Nicole Carroll, Chuck Carswell, all the L1 trainers superstars. And then once the sport started growing, I wanted to make all the athletes superstars. And, there wasn’t enough integration with those people and the L1. In the early days, as you remember, like you could, your L1 could be three days long and Greg would be there. And then he would be like, if everyone shows up at six in the morning, we’ll have John Hackleman there and he’ll be there with Chuck Liddell and they’ll show you how to fight.

Sevan (00:49:58):

And like, there was this, or Romanov would show up, you know, and there would just be just crazy guest speakers and just nuts. And even when there were a thousand gyms, the community was super duper tight, and we kind of embraced on building everyone up then. And this is the part that a lot of people forget, social media came around. So there were people who like ttheir 15 minutes of fame was their video that they got on crossfit.com went from that to people like all these CrossFit Games athletes. Now, like all these Icelandic girls or the Rich Fronings or the Mat Frasers. And like, most of them know nothing about CrossFit. Some of them do. I should be careful saying that obviously, Rich Froning knows a ton about CrossFit. Obviously Annit Thorisdottir knows a ton about CrossFit, but there’s a newer group, and it’s not it’s, I wouldn’t even say it’s a fault of their own, but going back, I don’t think HQ did a very good job of embracing them at all.

Sevan (00:50:49):

I think it became an us and them thing, and it was a huge mistake. We should have embraced everyone in the community. Greg was could still be honest about them the way he was about Reebok. You know, we took hundreds of millions of dollars from them. And then within the first week of the partnership, Greg made fun of them, publicly bashed them because they released that shoe that supposedly made your butt more firm. Right. And that was awesome. I love the fact that Greg did that, like, you guys we’ll take your money, but we’re not going to lie for you. Right. That’s the big concern now about these things like Whoop and monster energy drink and this, they’re they’re selling like supplements. Now, CrossFit is like, it’s not, people are like, how dare they sell monster energy drink?

Sevan (00:51:29):

It’s not whether they sell monster energy drink that should concern everyone. Fuck it. Let them sell Marlboro cigarettes. What should concern them is can HQ still be honest with their message about the, the safety of consuming those products? Like no one should be like monster energy drinks. Good for you. If someone at HQ says that or implies that they’re out of their mind, that’s not, but I think it’s perfectly OK to take their money as long as you can still tell the truth. The second you can’t tell the truth, I mean, we know what you are. You’re a whore. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way either, but anyway, sorry to get back to your question. Yeah, we pushed. Cause it’s just a vocation, right? And then we circle back to then is the experiment over? But yes, CrossFit HQ made a huge mistake by not embracing and bringing in those people closer, huge, huge, huge mistake.

Sevan (00:52:21):

And that was all from the top. And that, and that only got worse when Greg basically hired hired the new CEO after himself, there was Greg, then there was another CEO and then there was Dave Castro and then there was Eric Roza and there was that guy in the middle that just fucked everything up just, and I don’t want to cut Greg like completely free from it. It was still his company, but basically we went to war with everyone with no wildfire in the media team, basically imagine firing your propaganda machine and then going to war with people. It was nuts.

Chris (00:52:51):

Well, so the propaganda machine though, it got so big that there were actually brands not just built off the CrossFit platform, which were arguably benefiting the CrossFit platform, but there were also brands built on, we are not CrossFit. OPEX, maybe Robb Wolf was even the first. Do you think that that was a reaction to HQ’s lack of embracing them or was it maybe something else?

Sevan (00:53:17):

Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that when Cary and I went out to film OPT, in 2008 for the, for every second counts documentary that he was a little offended and butt hurt that no one from HQ had reached out to him after he won the CrossFit Games in 2007. And I do believe that we’ve seen that from every champion thereafter that there’s this inability to match the champion’s desire to want to be embraced. I feel like I’ve seen a pattern from everyone from OPT to, to who’s the champion. Now. I haven’t seen it from Medeiros yet, but there is this.

Sevan (00:53:53):

And I actually shouldn’t, I don’t know if I’ve seen it from Tia, but it’s a consistent pattern between people who’ve won the Games and not getting the love that they feel like they deserve from HQ. There’s always been this big misunderstanding of how big HQ is. Huge misunderstanding. Like people like the shit people say, and to this day, I defend them all the time. People are like, why isn’t there more prize money in the Games? Dude, you cannot get water from a rock. Like people have no, they have no, they think that CrossFit is something that it’s not, they’re so confused. There’s so many presuppositions and misunderstandings. But yeah, I think it was OK that all of those people, I think it’s healthy that, James Fitzgerald did what he did. I think it’s healthy that Robb Wolf did what he did.

Sevan (00:54:39):

I think it sucks sometimes if there was tension, but whatever. I think it’s great that there are different people out there who are expressing it. It should have never been a threat to CrossFit HQ. I think it’s great. I mean, I personally know, I don’t know, 50 people that you’ve helped save their gym and actually, I’ve never heard anyone say that they embarked on your program and it didn’t work. So, even looking at yourself like, or Hinshaw, like all the people, just love these people. And I know a ton of people who went to OPEX and left and I’m close with them now, and I’ve still never heard them say anything bad about it. So it makes me feel like everyone, it’s just the evolution of the machine moving forward.

Sevan (00:55:21):

Right. I mean, someone eventually is going to make an electric car better than Tesla. Right. And there’s going to be tension between them and Tesla. And then, so I don’t know if I answered your question, but I tried to, yeah.

Chris (00:55:30):

So, tell me about the Make WODs Great Again incident. And they had this t-shirt, that was like blocked by, and it was just number seven, I guess, that was supposed to be you. And, so once upon a time, Mike Warkentien and I were at a barbecue at your house and, you know, Haley was there, your mom was there, your kids were there and Noah Ohlsen was there. So like, I know that you’re friends with Noah. And if I’m looking at these comments that you made on your Instagram comment on Noah Ohlsen’s post, like, it really doesn’t seem like you had any ill intent there.

Sevan (00:56:04):

No, no.

Chris (00:56:04):

But they actually sold a t-shirt, saying blocked by seven, meaning Sevan, uh, because of a comment that you made on Noah Ohlsen’s post. I mean, what’s your read on that as a guy who’s just like open to the universe, how do you assimilate that internally?

Sevan (00:56:20):

There’s this group of people who have everything backwards and they don’t understand the mechanism. They don’t understand the mind and how the mind works. And so they think that they are saying, they think they can scream there’s no such thing as big foot, and that’s going to make big foot go away. And they don’t realize that the more you scream that there’s no such thing as big foot, the more you’re keeping big foot alive. It’s the same as saying, I saw Bigfoot, you don’t like, you are keeping this idea of this mythological creature, big foot alive.

Sevan (00:56:51):

And you’ve, and not only that, but the more you say that there is no big foot, you’re actually getting people to believe that there is a big foot. Imagine there was someone, uimagine your neighbor, Chris, I don’t know how close your neighbor is. Had signs all over his front yard. I am not a pedophile. It’s OK to send your kids here to play. There is a massive, massive contingency of people who are doing that. And they don’t realize that they’re actually creating pedophiles by doing that. And that they themselves are outing themselves as being pedophiles. You know? And that’s a metaphor by the way. That’s not like, like put anything in there. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like, so, it’s like me on my Instagram screaming, don’t eat sugar and don’t eat refined carbohydrates. Guess who needs to learn that the most? Guess who I’m talking to the loudest? Myself. To myself, because I don’t want any sugar and I don’t want to eat high carbohydrates.

Sevan (00:57:47):

I get it. So this got this. Noah Ohlson’s has said he was going to donate some money to a charity. And, I just, and I just read over the post quickly. And I guess that the charity that he was referencing was Elijah Muhammad’s charity who I know Elijah Muhammad, the three or four times I’ve talked to him over maybe 10, 10 times. I’ve talked to him since I met him in 2010, over at Rich Froning’s gym. We’ve hit it off tremendously. Like, like I’ve sat around and just looked in his eyes and his wife’s eyes. And my wife just sitting there and just like bonding. Right. Just awesome conversations. Just a great dude. Love him. And I guess Noah said he was going to donate that check to Elijah Muhammad’s charity. I didn’t even know it was Elijah Muhammad’s charity, but one of the things I said is, Hey Noah, whatever you do, don’t donate.

Sevan (00:58:31):

Don’t donate this money to anyone who uses the word equity, because equity is this word that people are conflating with equality. And it actually equity erodes at the core of what equality stands for it is it’s basically dumbing down everything for everyone so that no one can excel. It has nothing to do with equality. Equity is a, it comes at the cost of equality. And so I basically said that and people got upset. Well, the irony is, is, I don’t know, 600 people or 500 people liked my comment. And then there were like 30 comments below bashing me, calling me a homophobe, a racist, like everything. The opposite of what I was actually standing for, which is fine. I found it amusing, but none of those comments had likes. And so I think that really people off.

Sevan (00:59:22):

Right. You see that like, whoa, like imagine like I’m pointing at something. Imagine you’re the only person in the room who doesn’t see something. There’s 500 of us in the room and we’re like pointing at something and you don’t see it. You have a choice either like to take a deep breath and humble yourself, or to get really angry and think you’re around crazy people. And most people don’t humble themselves and they, and they get angry. And so basically what happened is people got angry at me because I was pointing out something that’s very clear, like as clear as two plus two is four. And so I don’t really know what happened with that guy. I think maybe that guy said something. I think maybe people were taking screenshots and sending them that he was like, oh, this is what it was.

Sevan (01:00:06):

This is what it was. He had made a comment basically that he was looking at the people who liked my comment. Like, Hey, this list of people who are liking Sevan’s comments, I’m looking at them. And I’m making note of them. I forget exactly what he said. And I read into that and I take that as a threat. It’s like you having a party at your house and you coming outside and seeing that I’m standing in your driveway, taking license plate numbers down. I won’t tolerate that. Like that’s bullying at the highest level. Like, you like you, you wanna play that game? You’re you’re like, like, I’m OK with your, like, go ahead. You can be racist all you want. Like, I don’t think that you need to be taken off the planet. You can be a homophobe, all you want.

Sevan (01:00:48):

I don’t think you should be taken off planet. Everyone’s open to their own ideas. But if you’re going to come over, if I’m having a gay pride parade at my house, and you’re going to come over and start taking license plate numbers, so you can hunt down the folk that came to my gay pride parade later. Now we got a problem. Like, that’s a threat. So I took it as like, I took it as like that. And I’m like, fuck this guy. I don’t want this guy even in my world. Right. So I blocked him. Well, I guess he, I mean, can you imagine. I started imagining this guy asking a girl out to prom and her saying no, and the very next day, him like spray painting on her door. Like he basically threw a massive, am I the only person who said that word in your podcast ever, Chris, I apologize.

Sevan (01:01:28):

Yeah, I’m sorry. But I just picture him being the guy who throws a massive temper tantrum when a girl denies him, like, who cares if I blocked you, you clearly already hate me. You clearly have no issue attacking me. And now I block you. And so he just, he lost his, I guess he doesn’t like rejection. I have a very, I suspect this guy’s identity is significantly built around his social media following, what people think of him. So basically he got really, really angry. Right. And he started making attacks and then I guess Dave blocked him also. And then he made another threat. He said, I’m going to spend the next two weeks, everyone buckle in, basically attacking Dave Castro. I mean, it’s just really bizarre behavior. I mean, it’s, if a girl says no to you to go out on a date and you attack her, it’s just, I think it’s a perfect parallel for it, it’s bizarre.

Sevan (01:02:20):

If I asked you out on a date, Chris, and you said, no, I would go back to plan B. I’d be like, OK, I need to send him flowers for a week before I ask him again, I wouldn’t egg your house or toilet paper your house. So he just had a meltdown and most of these people don’t know the fact. Yeah, of course. I had just done a podcast with Noah the day before, the timing was perfect. And then I released the podcast and then, you know, I had spoken about having Elijah Muhammad on and I had him on and it was nice of him to come on. Like he knows my, he knows where I’m at. He knows like, everyone’s welcome at my house. And you know what I mean? Like everyone, right?

Chris (01:02:58):

How do you deal with that? So, you know, Jordan Peterson went through something similar and it drove him into a multi-year depression where he couldn’t leave his house and he had to seek medical treatment. Really. Is it your history of freedom that we spoke about at the start of the show that helps you deal with this kind of stuff online?

Sevan (01:03:16):

Honestly it’s cause I’m unemployed. It just comes down to that. It just comes down to the fact that I don’t, that I saved enough money, that I live very, very frugally that this couch is the couch that I had growing up as a kid that my yard’s already fenced in that I don’t need to drive a fancy car. I’ve saved. I’ve been smart with my money. It’s just, it’s really just the fact that I don’t need other people so I can keep telling the truth.

Sevan (01:03:42):

Right. If I keep telling the truth, I don’t, I hate it when people say that, because people will be like, well, just tell your truth. It’s not that I’m telling my truth. But I have an obligation since I can tell the truth to tell it. And because of just the, I guess the little bit of financial security I have and the love I have of my mom and my wife and my kids. And, really, it’s just all sorts of people. I mean, if I was really that toxic, why would Matt and Josh do a podcast with me? Why would have Rich come on my podcast? Why would Chris Cooper, who runs Two-Brain Business have me on his podcast, like people who know and you know, me and a lot of people, people who know me like, I’m just fighting the good fight.

Sevan (01:04:28):

And the only reason why I can do it, Chris is because I’m already canceled. I’m already at the bottom. The New York Times already did the article on me. Those idiot woke CrossFit Games athletes already re posted this stuff like, it’s done. But the cool thing is, and for anyone who wants to experience freedom and you’re afraid, and it would definitely be different, especially if you’re young in your twenties, it feels like you’re going to die, but you don’t die. You come out the other side. It’s crazy. And it’s such an amazing experience. I know that’s a little vague and abstract, but that would be a whole nother show. But if you have nothing to lose, don’t be afraid. And I have nothing to, like, at this point, I have nothing to lose.

Chris (01:05:11):

Have you come out the other side thought, or are you still being rebirthed?

Sevan (01:05:15):

I think I’ve come out the other side, but you’re probably right, because like, I’ve already, this is probably my second major awakening in this lifetime. And I don’t think, unfortunately, it’s so difficult to go through one of those. I don’t think most people ever even go through one, they just probably wait until they’re on their deathbed. But, yeah, it’s probably. I mean, it’s different now because I have kids, someone said like, so there’s a lot less basically to define what we’re talking about, an awakening is when you basically abandon yourself and see what you really are. So you have this moment of clarity of who you would be if you’re not Sevan the filmmaker, like you have this holy, this is I’m really just a pencil.

Sevan (01:06:02):

Or I’m really just a stuffed animal, or you basically have this moment where you actually pass through what you really are and then, but it’s different when you have kids, because now something biologically is depending on you. So maybe it’s just a cycle, Chris. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s not a second awakening. Maybe I’m just, I feel like I’m just on a loop and I’m going through it another time. But, definitely easier this time, definitely easier. One, because you have the tools one, because you know you don’t die. I mean, it’s terrifying to let go of things. It’s terrifying to become homeless. It’s terrifying to like, but if you’re a young man or young woman and you have the strength and the courage to do it, I highly, highly, highly, highly recommend it.

Sevan (01:06:47):

Just be extremely disciplined in your approach and let things slowly around you just die until an impasse. You know, you don’t have to chase something, you can spend a year letting go and not chase things your whole entire life.

Chris (01:06:59):

So do you have plans for the future then Sevy or like making plans just kind of lead to internal suffering?

Sevan (01:07:06):

So it was funny when I lost my job at CrossFit, I looked over my wife and I go, Hey, shit got really, really weird. I say, we move into a car before we, with our three boys before we sell our home. And she goes, oh yeah, absolutely. Right. Like, rent out your house in California for 10 grand a month and move into a van. So like, that’s plan B. Right. But, I’m really just like Forrest Gump.

Sevan (01:07:38):

I just have my head down. Right. I’m just doing what’s right. Every single day. I wake up, I you know, greet my kids. We start our journey of like, you know, reading and writing. And then we go out to jujitsu and then we go to the skate park and then we come back and we take a bath and then we go in the yard and water the cucumbers. And then, you know, and then Matt Souza tells me I have a podcast in 30 minutes and I jump on my podcast and I’m just like, just run Forrest run, right. Go to bed and watch my breath every night as I go to bed and do energy body and try to stay awake as long as I can and stay conscious as long as I can, which is the opposite of what I think most people do.

Sevan (01:08:17):

They try to go to sleep at night. And that’s my time to commune with myself and try to stay perfectly alert. I fail every night, but I try every night.

Chris (01:08:25):

When you were homeless and alone, you said that was some of the happiest you’ve ever been. Yeah. Are you happy now or would you have to return to that completely homeless state to get there?

Sevan (01:08:37):

Wow. I think I’m enjoying. I’m very, I’m a very happy person. When I’m not happy, it’s very short. Like, I can be just like angry, like for 30 seconds and then it just goes away. But no, I don’t think you can ever be as happy as you were then. Now it’s different though. Now I’m like, you know, I explain it. This is the best example I could give. I wish I had another one cause I’ve used this one so many times, but there was a point in my life that if someone broke into my house, I had a plan.

Sevan (01:09:07):

If I heard them come in the front door, I would jump out the window and I would just run and they could steal whatever they want. I don’t give a fuck. I’ll come back later. And I never wanted to hurt anyone. That was like one of my goals in life, never to hurt another human being, never accidentally kill anyone. Like just really avoid hurting other human beings. Then all of a sudden we had kids and I remember one day, I thought I heard something in the house and I got up and just within two seconds, I had the gun out of my safe and I was ready to shoot someone in the house. Right. And I’m like, oh shit, something has changed. And it was the kids. And so I’m enjoying the role of, I’ve never thought of myself as anything and but now I see myself as a father and it’s so weird.

Sevan (01:09:52):

Like, I’ve really embraced this bit. I’m really just like, you know, I’m happy filling up water bottles, driving the van to the skate parks, sitting there, picking up the trash in the skate park. You know, when they ask for a wrench or a bandaid or someone cries, if someone has to pee or someone peed on their hands, they can wipe their hands on my back. Like I’m, you know, I’ve just fully, I’m just fully make sandwiches. When other kids get hurt at the skate park and their parents aren’t there. That’s when I really noticed I was a father that I’m really like playing this role, I run over and I’d be their dad too, you know, like, and I look for their parents or I talk to parents now. It’s like weird. Yeah, I’ve really embraced this role.

Sevan (01:10:36):

So it’s not as happy as being homeless. There will nothing ever be like that. Like if you really, really embrace freedom, it’s an unexplainable mindset and place to be. It’s really, really remarkable. It’s nothing like being a regular human, but this is there and I assume I won’t ever get to that place ever again, to be honest with you now that I have kids until I die. But, now that I have kids, it’s just different. It’s just different. I would even argue that maybe something biologically is going on, you know what I mean? Like I’ve been programmed, like, I mean, have you read Siddhartha by Herman Hessa? Basically, he has kids and he experiences freedom. And I don’t know. I have a mental block to that.

Chris (01:11:24):

I think, you know, the original story, the Buddha gave up a wife and child, because he didn’t think that he could find happiness with any kind of attachment.

Sevan (01:11:33):

Yes. OK. So that’s the story of Siddhartha too. So that must be the story of the Buddha. Yeah. Yeah. And I just find that, and then other people who’ve been on the journey will tell you that you don’t have to become homeless. Like, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Eckhart Tolle.

Chris (01:11:46):

Yes, absolutely.

Sevan (01:11:46):

But he says that you don’t have to experience the homeless on the park bench. I would like to have him point to me, including himself, someone who experienced it any other way. I think Eckhart’s being too nice. You basically have to abandon, you have to jump ship or else you’re not going to, unless you had an insane practice.

Sevan (01:12:08):

I don’t know anyone who’s experienced freedom who didn’t give everything up. I’ve never heard a story of it.

Chris (01:12:16):

I mean, Tolle did. Tolle lived on the park bench for at least a year.

Sevan (01:12:20):

Right, right. So that’s why when he says that you don’t have to do this. I’m like, come on, Eckhart, come on, baby. You know, you do.

Chris (01:12:27):

So maybe this will be your next gift to the universe, Sevy, is teaching people how to experience happiness through detachment or just being open to the world, cheering for you.

Sevan (01:12:40):

Yeah. Well, I don’t think I’m a good teacher in that regard, but I am, I do want to see, you know, you meet people and they have character traits. I meet someone like you and you have these character traits and I’m like, oh man, I’d really like to have those character traits.

Sevan (01:12:53):

And so if I could spend more time with Chris, I could learn those character traits. And so I’m hoping that through the podcast, that is like the one way I justify doing it every single day. I’m like, OK, maybe if someone will get a glimpse of like, it’s OK to say this. It’s OK. It’s OK to think that a woman is beautiful or a man is beautiful or a flower is beautiful or it’s OK. Like, it’s OK. Like if you have no ill intention, if your intention is just to be good, then it’s OK. Don’t let the judgment push you down. And hopefully I can share some of that or point people towards, you know, things like, Eckhart Tolle.

Chris (01:13:27):

  1. Well, thanks a lot, Sevy, I know that you have another podcast coming up, so I’m going to wrap it up there, man, but it’s always great to catch up with you and thanks for doing the show.

Sevan (01:13:35):

Thanks for having me. I apologize for using words that had never been used on your show. I wish they were big words.

Chris (01:13:41):

Next time.

Andrew (01:13:45):

That was Chris Cooper and Sevan Matossian on Two-Brain Radio. Don’t forget to subscribe for more shows.

Chris (01:13:50):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in. And I’m in there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym Owners United on Facebook.

 

Thanks for listening!

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories. Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday. 

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