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Property Management Mastermind Show

#161: James "The Iron Cowboy" Lawrence on Finding Your Ethos.

Jan 13, 2023 by Brad Larsen

What does it take to be the toughest man on the planet? Just ask James “The Iron Cowboy” Lawrence. After completing 50 Ironman-distance triathlons in 2015 and being dubbed “toughest man on the planet,” James Lawrence kept moving forward. It’s this drive, this ambition, this toughness that sets him up to be a source of inspiration for millions – not just for athletes, but for anyone with a mind to get up and go. This episode features an in-depth look into Lawrence’s mindset and how he sets himself up for success by establishing his ethos. 

Connect with James Lawrence at https://www.ironcowboy.com/

Connect with Brad's team at www.rentwerx.com

ANNCR: Welcome to the Property Management Mastermind show with your host, Brad Larsen. Brad owns one of the fastest-growing property management companies in San Antonio, Texas. This podcast is for property managers. By property managers, you'll hear from industry-leading professionals on best practices, new ideas, success stories, and lessons learned. This is your opportunity to learn about the latest industry buzz surrounding property management, as well as tips and strategies to improve your business.

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BRAD: Welcome, everybody, to another edition of the Property Management Mastermind podcast. I'm your host, Brad Larsen. Now, today's guest, a very distinguished guest, probably the most famous guest I've ever had on the show. His name is James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy. Now, I booked James to come to the PMMCON in March of 2023 to be our close-out marquee speaker for Friday afternoon at the conference. And I got to introduce you in this long format of an introduction because there's just a lot to cover. So, James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy, he did the 50 5050 triathlon series, he did 50 Ironman-level triathlons in 50 days straight and 50 states. It's a Guinness Book World Record stuff going on. There are several exposures and other things out there, like on Amazon Prime. You can find out. You can see his whole it's like a movie, a documentary about it. Really impressive to see how that worked and the amount of pain he had to go through. And that was all in 2015. And so there were some things in there that kind of ate at him. Obviously, the social media ate at them. The haters are out there eating at them. There are some things running around because it just there's things going on with that particular series. But dang it, he did it. He accomplished it in the 50, 5050. And so it ate at him for a few years. And I was listening to several of his podcast because he's out there.

BRAD: And so in this interview with him, I don't get into the racing stuff. I don't talk about the pain, I don't talk about the distances, I don't talk about the training because that's he's put that out there in 20 different other formats. And our audience is not they're not racing nuts. You know, we're not trying to figure out how exactly did it go 140 miles in a day on your own power? You know, when you do a triathlon, it's 2.4 mile swim. That's 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. And he did that all in one day, 50 days in a row in 50 different states. And so you got to understand, it's just mind boggling to to think about it. And so he got through all that, made that record and really did a great job in working with his family. And that's one of the things we talk about in this quick interview. And one of the things you're going to talk about as main this presentation. But in addition, he turned around in 2021, about a year and a half ago and did 100 Ironman level triathlons in 100 straight days in Utah. So get that through your head, actually was 101 to be technical, but he set out to do 100 and did 101 and 101 2.4 mile swim each day, 112 mile bike each day and 26.2 mile run each day. And he did that in 2021 and 100 consecutive days, 101 in a row.

BRAD: It's just the more you think about it, it's just mind boggling. I can't even understand it now. He's very proud of the fact he's very strong with his family. He's got five kids. He's been married for 22 years and he lives out of Utah. And one of his children, his name her name is Lucy, and she's been the one that's been instrumental in his business because she's the oldest. And naturally, I worked with her to book him for the podcast and for the conference. So we're going to start off the conversation talking about some of those things and really lit into what he's going to be presenting on stage at PMMCON. So we're just going to jump right into this interview with James Lawrence and here we go. James, thanks for coming on. How are you doing today?

JAMES: Good. Brad Mann Happy to be here. Excited to have this conversation with you.

BRAD: man, I got to tell you, you got a really good barber going on because that look is just like primo, a number one. You got the bald head going. Now, I kind of missed the beard you had going. I mean, yeah, that probably gets a little tedious to have all the time. 

JAMES: Yeah, it was interesting because I kind of pigeonholed myself as a brand and a look, and I would go places, and if I had it, I was recognized. If I didn't, I wasn't. And so recently we did something that was called the Conquer 100, where we did 100 consecutive Iron Man's.

JAMES: And on day 51, after we broke our existing record, I shaved it because to me it symbolizes like New Birth. I wanted people to recognize me both with and without it. And so that was kind of a perfect opportunity for me to leave that in my past and be this new person, this this new rebirth as I as I forge a new path in my life. 

BRAD: Clearly an amazing accomplishment. I mean, there's just not enough that can be said. I mean, it's so impressive. And you know, what we wanted to get to is we want to have a quick discussion about your presentation at the Property Management Mastermind conference and then some of the things around what's going on in your life. So, for example, you know, in booking you, for example, and getting you to come on this podcast and getting you to come to the conference, I've been talking to your very astute, very good assistant. Her name is Lucy, and you should tell me a little bit about her. 

JAMES: Yeah, Lucy is one of a kind and I'm grateful to have her. She's actually my oldest daughter. And you'll you'll hear multiple stories at the conference about my daughter and the impact that she has and how truly special she is. But it's just it's just been a lot of fun. She was the campaign manager for us during the Conquer 100 project that we did in 2021. And afterwards I said, Hey, would you be interested in coming on board and running the business? And she looked at me with this kind of like, sly look, and she said, Dad, I've been applying for this job my entire life.

JAMES: And it just made me really happy and excited that she wanted to do that. And it's been so much fun to to work with with one of your children, especially when they, you know, because I had hired a few other people and they just didn't understand our brand and where we were trying to take it. And and she really did because she grew up with it. And she we've had all these amazing experiences together. And she she truly is special. I mean, I just made a post yesterday on my social media that one year out of high school, she graduated with her four year bachelor's degree. And people are like, how how does a person do that? Like and my my initial reaction is by working hard and making sacrifices. That's how you get shit done. And the the the reality is, is she she really honed in and focused with you know, I made a lot of sacrifices to get this done. She graduated high school and did her associate's degree well in high school. And then her first year out of high school in college, she loaded up both summer block semesters and and went year round and did full more than full time and ran my entire business and did everything else, social life and everything.

JAMES:  So it's just, you know, it's crazy. The mentality that we see today of these kids are like, Man, I can't do 12 credits and work the drive thru. I mean, it's just so hard. And I'm like, Give me a break. Like, so I'm just really impressed with her and her her willingness to show up and and invest in ourselves because I think that's what we're missing in today's society is people are just unwilling to invest in themselves and they're like, No, you should give that to me. I deserve that. 

BRAD: Well, reason I bring it up is very true. A couple of things. I'm very impressed with the work ethic. And too, in our industry, we get a lot of legacy business owners and it's a situation where you can build up a property management business or you own a property management business and they're passed down from generation to generation. Yeah, because it's consistent, consistent residual business. I mean, for example, you take a real estate business where they're making sales. You can't pass that down to anybody. I mean, it's just like a pass closed book of business. But in a property management company where you have clients for decades, that business goes often from one generation to the next. And we're seeing a lot more of that in our industry. And so an example I told you pre show I have a 13 year old and I hope she Cora will become the Lucy someday.

BRAD: I mean, she's already a straight-A student and so I only bring it up because that's the first thing I remember in first interacting with you. Thanks to Steve Rosenberg, by the way. So Steve introduced us, but getting to interact with Lucy, I'm like, Oh my gosh, she's really sharp. I'm hoping, you know, my daughter ends up like that. So I know it's I know family is very important to you and I want to bring it up because I thought that was really neat to be able to interact with her. And then, of course, I watched the documentary. Right. And so that's you know, for those that don't know, I'm going to mention it during the pre-show, but the documentary is on Prime or several other factions out there. You can watch it mediums, but that really goes into the 50 to 5050 accomplishment and you get to see the interaction with your kids and your family. And so, Lucy, you just kind of grown up into this and very impressed. So it's not an episode to make it about Lucy, but I just want to bring it up first thing and go from there. So switching gears a little bit, you know, talking to Steve Rozenberg this morning and he was mentioning, hey, you got you got to ask James a few questions. So Steve is known in our industry quite well. He's been around for a long time and a lot of people are familiar with him. He's a big time coach and mentor in the residential property management space, and thank you for his introduction, but he wanted me to ask you a couple of questions and I'm not going to like rattle them off necessarily, but tell me a little bit about your interaction with Steve and some of the things you've been doing with his investor groups.

JAMES:  Yeah, it was actually a lot of fun. He invited me out to to come speak at an event where it was kind of at a mansion, this really elite group of people that were wanting to take their game to the next level. And I've become kind of this expert on on mindset and overcoming challenges and becoming a master problem solver and really raising the ceiling of what is possible both in our personal lives and business. And just had an amazing three days there. After I spoke, I just saw the quality of person that was there. And and it was the type of individual that just like like with Lucy wanted to show up in her life. And I just said, Steve, can I hang out for the next couple of days and really, you know, grow from you and impart some of my knowledge. And that's how we grow together as we do it as a collaborative group. And so I just had a good experience with him and met some really cool people and some connections that I'm now working with now. And obviously it leads to stuff like this and opportunities.

JAMES:  And so yeah, life is about connection and Steve's Steve's a special person. He's kind of one of those rainmakers that knows everybody and wants to see everybody win. And that's a rare, rare attribute in today's society where someone wants to see somebody else win and succeed at a high level. And I just really respected that. And the energy was just a lot of fun.

BRAD:  So softball question that Steve wanted me to ask you. Okay. Full disclosure, he wanted me to ask you what is your ethos? 

JAMES:  Yeah. So those people that don't know and ethos is is kind of what you stand for, black and white and this takes a little bit of pre thought premeditation because reality is is like everybody that's an entrepreneur and is building a business and is pushing their relationships and pushing themselves mentally and physically, there's going to become a point where you become overwhelmed, maybe backed into a corner. You find yourself in a sticky situation ethically where you. Maybe can't see the right path because you're so filled with emotion in that moment. And so this is where I where preparation comes in. And you you create what we call an ethos. And an ethos is what you stand for, black and white. And so when you're in that kind of sticky situation, you can take a step back and say, What is my ethos? What do I stand for? What are the lines I'm really not willing to cross? And if you if you pause for 2 minutes in that emotional situation, remove the emotion, read your ethos.

JAMES:  The answer is obvious. And it's and it's an easy one. And so I challenge everyone to create an ethos, just your main ethos, to start meaning what you stand for, black and white in just general situations. And then once you've done that, you can take this exercise even further and break it down into different categories. Hey, what's my ethos with my relationship with my wife? What's my relationship with my relationship with my kids? What's my relationship with my friends circle? What's my boundaries? What am I willing to do? What lines am I not willing to cross? What is it in business? What is it in spirituality like? Take all of these different categories and you can have a different ethos and there's going to be some crossover, but I think it's one of the most valuable exercises we can do as humans because we're we're life is chaos. We're running around and it's filled with emotion and it's so busy and so chaotic that we make these decisions that sometimes we look back and go, Man, that is not who I am and nor am I proud of that. And so we can avoid a lot of that regret in our lives if we take a little bit of time and prepare ourselves for those moment where we're backed into the corner, it's super dark and we're we're on the cusp of making a bad emotional decision.

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BRAD: I first heard about the ethos thing way back in my Army days. This is 20 plus years ago. One of my battalion commanders in an infantry battalion that I was in named it the warrior ethos, and he just beat that into our heads. He ended up being a four star general, so the guy knew what he was talking about. But you really start to understand that that mindset of what do you stand for? What are your boundaries? You know, when you talk about a fight or flight scenario, are you going to be the ones that are going to jump into the fray and get after it? Or are you going to be the coward and tuck tail and run? Exactly. And so that's the ethos that we've always talked about as far as in that in that regard. So one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is to give a little bit of a preview for the PMMCON presentation because you're closing out the conference. That's Friday afternoon. We're going to start you off at four. One of the things I wanted you to hone in on is setting goals, accountability and implementation. I mean, that's always been a challenge in our industry because people will go to conferences, they'll get ten or 15 or 20 great ideas. They go back to their normal lives and they implement nothing and nothing gets improved. And so this is one of the things I'm sure you're very good at addressing, because I don't know of any better goal setter than what you've you've done. And so give us a few minutes on that. 

JAMES:  Yeah, not only goal setting, Brad, but also follow through in execution. I work with a lot of people that come to me and they're like, they've got these great plans and big ideas and then they lack the action piece of it and then they lack the follow through piece of it, which, which ultimately is discipline. And one of my favorite books that I think everybody should read annually is Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. And it's a story of a gentleman who was in the Nazi war prison camps, but he was also a psychologist and a doctor. And he was he was just an eternal optimist. And he was so filled with hope that that it allowed him to survive the situations that he was in, which were just incredible. And it was interesting because he goes on and tells how he could tell the moment that somebody lost hope on their journey because they died. And if that's true, that means hope is life. And when we lose hope, that's when we start to get bombarded with the conversations that we have with ourselves, the negative ones. And it always leads to excuses and abandonment of our dreams, which takes us away from follow through and accomplishment. And so, you know, a lot of things that I that I talk about and get into is how important hope is and raising the limitations that we have as humans.

JAMES:  You know, it's interesting when when you look back when you were a kid and growing up, how many of you remember sitting there dreaming and what it could be like and who do I want to be? And then at some point in life, we get beat down and we we stop dreaming and we become just okay with what we're doing. And we set these limitations on ourselves. And I think that's what's so beautiful about our story and what what people end up getting from it is we give we give them hope and we remove their excuses and and hope. Hope isn't going to get you through all situations. But hope leads to habits and leads to discipline and execution. And ultimately, that's what we're trying to get people to do is move from that hope. Get rid of excuses and move into the action and execution part of things. And so that's really what we're coming to to help people understand and engage in and get to do. So I'm really excited to get up on that stage and address everybody in that way. I love it. And one of the things that you've been honing in on is the phrase figure it out. And so you and I are on the exact same page there, ironically, because I even have a license plate that says g0fitfo go figure the f out. Yeah. And that's a license plate I have on one of my cars.

BRAD: I love it. And, and it's it's a Texas plate, so it's a beautiful thing. Right. Go fit though. And so it's like a saying that I have and if your kids come to you and say Mom, dad, how do I do this? Well, yeah, you can walk them through it. You can guide them through it, but there's a lot of power and telling them, go figure it out for yourself. Yep, I'm here to help you along the way, but I'm not going to give you the answers. You've got to do it yourself. It empowers you. So I'm hoping in this presentation, you know, for example, I mean, if you really get into the weeds when you did the 50, 5050, that was a logistical nightmare, right? I mean, the specified and implied task to actually execute that was just a nightmare. And that's a great example of people saying, well, I don't know how to implement this one thing. Well, what you did in that 50, 5050 was you broke it down to the minute by the minute and you backwards plan to get you to the execution point, to get you to the finish line. And that's something I'm hoping you bring across the presentation because people are going to walk away with that, saying, Yeah, I'm now motivated to go implement the 20 things that I learned at this conference.

JAMES:   Yeah, and I think that's really where the the, the concept for the Conquer 100 was born was because the 50 was so logistics heavy.It was so filled with chaos and unknowns and we really had to start putting systems into place in order to to be successful. And one of the things we did was we brought in someone that wasn't emotionally attached to it because, you know, because the group of us that were out there on the road, it was just we had to become master problem solvers and figuring one thing out right after the other and a couple of our buddies back home were like, Hey, you guys are really struggling and you can't you can't maintain this pace. You guys aren't going to finish. Allow us to help you put some systems in place that we can see that you guys can't because you're so busy dealing with problems. And as soon as that started to happen and we started to get help from the team to really put those systems in place, it really helped free up the chaos from what we were doing and we became master problem solvers. And it's truly the reason the 100 was born was because of we wanted to figure out how to remove that chaos and really find out what we were capable of physically, mentally, with what we'd learned by implementing the systems and processes that we had. So that's really where the 100 came from. 

BRAD: I hope everybody heard that. And I'm going to reiterate it because what he did is he brought in outside resources, outside help to take a look at his business from a 30,000 foot level and implement resources, implement systems into his business.

Right. So take take that. His business was getting the goal that he accomplished. Done our business in property management and life in general is to get these goals accomplished. And he brought in an outside source to help them. And so even at that, you know, monumental transaction where it's a one time thing, you know, for the for the several months that it had to go, he was able to bring in outside resources to help them. And so I relate that to it's always good to potentially have an outside coach. It's always good to potentially have somebody take a look at your business from a different angle and give you suggestions on how to better run that business. And those are some of the things I think that are going to come across from your presentation at PMMCON is you're going to be able to infuse some of that into people and they can walk away feeling, you know what, I have a clear path and what I want to do going forward from this point. 

JAMES: 100%. Yeah. I'm excited to to share that journey in those those key teaching points with your group. 

BRAD: I love it. Well, there's not a lot I want to give away today in our presentation, Right. Because I just want to give you a quick conversation of what we're doing.

BRAD: A lot of the bio that I'm going to do post-show is going to be pre to this episode, and that's really the meat of it because I want you to save some of the magic for the presentation at PMMCON and your people are going to have opportunities to meet with you. You're going to be hanging out there for a few hours before and a few hours after. I mean, hoping you can stay as long as you want. 

JAMES: We're going to go to we're going to go to the party afterwards, aren't we? 

BRAD: I am hoping you do. It's going to be a fantastic event.

JAMES: Let's do it. There's no better place for a cowboy to go, right? 

BRAD: Exactly. So we're the after party. Gang is going to be the Wild Horse Saloon. That's after PMMCON downtown in Nashville. Nashville is going to be a fantastic event for this particular conference. March 29, 30, 31, 2023. We're at the Grand Hyatt Nashville, literally 5 minutes from Music Row right there in Nashville on Broadway. And so, James, I know I want to keep this quick to honor your time. I appreciate what you've done for us, man. I'm just so impressed with you. I'm so glad you could do the PMMCON this year. I look forward to meeting you more in person and get to know you. 

JAMES: Awesome. Brad. Thanks. I'm excited to meet everybody that's attending too. Looking forward to it and I'm pretty excited. Awesome. Thank you. Yep.

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ANNCR: This has been a podcast episode by property management Productions dot com. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast, leave us feedback and come back for our next episode.

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About The Host

The Host of this Podcast is Brad Larsen from San Antonio, Texas. Brad is the founder and owner of RentWerx, one of the fastest growing residential Property Management companies in Texas that currently manages over 700 single family homes.