Angelo Keely on Creating Your Ideal Life

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Katie: Hello and welcome to the “Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. And I’m here today with a friend of mine who I also find extremely inspirational both as a parent and as a business owner and just in the way he lives his life. I’m here with Angelo Keely who is the co-founder and CEO of Kion, which is a lifestyle supplement and functional food company dedicated to helping people live their most vibrant, fulfilling life. And there are some links and special codes for that in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm if you wanna check it out. But Angelo is equally committed to producing quality products as he is to creating a vibrant, self-aware, and playful company culture for his employees, which we talk about today. Angelo is a Yogi, a beatboxer, a multi-instrumentalist, and a polyglot. But more than anything, Angelo is a creator.

He intentionally designs, strategizes, and executes his dreams for work, adventure, health, and family. And this creator approach has unique implications for raising healthy children, having a successful marriage, and building healthy companies with the highest quality products. And we talk about all of that today, and especially his system for a creative loop. This approach has led Angelo to live on three continents, speak multiple languages, perform on stage with top 40 artists, found and lead multiple successful businesses, and most importantly create the marriage and family of his dreams. I know that you will enjoy this episode as much as I did. And without further ado, we’re gonna jump in with Angelo.

Angelo, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Angelo: Katie, thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor.

Katie: I am so excited to have you here and there’s so much I wanna chat about with you, especially related to things like family and parenting, because from the little we’ve talked about this, I know you have such unique views and advice on this and I wanna jump right in. But I think for background and also for my own curiosity, I would love to hear how you grew up and what your early life was like because I’ve always thought it would be fascinating to interview like the parents of highly successful people or to hear about their childhood. So I’m curious if you can kind of like start from the beginning with us.

Angelo: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. Well, my family, you know, sometimes when I think about this, it’s almost most helpful to think about like where, what was going on with my family before I was born? And like quickly, my dad is the children of like very entrepreneurial east coast people who owned a sewing factory. And my mom comes more from like a pretty uptight corporate Denver family. They met in Austin and they were both very big hippies and my dad was in the health food industry. He was actually a distributor and broker for botanicals and ginseng and stuff like that in the ’70s.

And then when I was born, they had a health food store and a health food restaurant in Wimberley, Texas. And there were already three sisters before me. And it was a pretty like hippie scene. I don’t really know how else to say it. We didn’t eat meat. I never had a haircut until I was 8. I didn’t have a birth certificate I think until I went to school. I’d never gone to even see a doctor until I went to school. I was raised on supplements and natural foods, organic before it was even really like organic. And yeah, it was a pretty hippy scene. Did that give enough or you want to know more?

Katie: No, that’s super fascinating. So I’m curious how that translated into once you left home because that’s a question I now have a teenager and I realized we have limited number of years with him left. And so that like juggling act as a parent of like how do I best prepare my kids and how is this gonna translate into the real world for them. So was there an adjustment for you when you left home or had you already integrated pretty well before then, or what was that like?

Angelo: Yeah, well, so I mean, they raised me in a neighborhood or a part of Austin that was pretty…we ended up moving…we actually moved to Austin because my dad was a early year partner in some of the Whole Foods part of like their restaurant business. So we moved to Austin for that. And I was raised in like a normal neighborhood I guess, but with them as my parents. And so it was always this kind of like bridge between being the, like, the weird kid that went to school with tofu sandwiches and everyone else had like cool bologna sandwiches and Gushers and stuff like that. But I was around it and, yeah, I mean, as I got older and I had more…and they gave me autonomy to make more of my own decisions as I got older, it was up to me to make my own decisions, to try things and to start exploring the world.

I would say though that like the foundation, if anything, of having parents that really cared, like they really cared about what we put in our body, they really cared about health. They really cared about, I would say even like emotional health and the way people treat each other. They were just really intentional about those types of things that even though as I got older and I was somewhat kind of I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t isolated, like kids that go to like really protective, you know, private schools or things like that, but I was isolated from some of like the worldly things. But still when I went to go and explore those things and try them and learn about them for myself, I had a background of thinking deeply about them and wanting to choose things that were really good for me and caring about that. And I think simply being raised with that type of intention and meaning behind choices has really influenced my whole life.

Katie: That makes sense. So what happened from there? I know that there’s a couple of really fascinating experiences in your life after that. What was your journey like after growing up like that? What did you wanna do with your life and how did you springboard into that?

Angelo: So, I mean, it’s interesting. I just described it as like, you know, my parents were really kind of intentional about emotional stuff. I think they were when I was really little, and naturally…well, not naturally, but what happened as I got older was there was more tension in the family and actually my parents ended up getting divorced when I was a freshman in high school. And I promise the story is gonna end well for anyone who starts to think like, “Oh, he’s just said it’s all good.” I did start getting into a lot of trouble in high school. I started just experimenting, doing drugs, being more motivated by social things and less connected to my family and my parents. And I would say that because they were less stable at that time, it gave even more like risk or possibility to go out and explore things on my own because I didn’t have as much like grounding at home around it.

And it led me to get into some like pretty complicated situations. I got in trouble with the law multiple times for like alcohol and pot and stuff like that. But then I actually got into a really terrible experience when I was 16. I upset some people that were much more hardcore than me and I got stabbed multiple times and nearly beaten to death and basically left to like die in this parking lot. And coming back from that…that was when I was 16, was that recovery period was really…it was just a super transformative part in my life. It’s one of those moments in life when either you could just get way worse. Like you could get much more depressed, you could be feel more lost, or it’s one of those times that becomes kind of like the catalyst for greater change and experience in one’s life.

And actually I had some friends’ parents who gave me the book “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain who’s like one of like Oprah’s, you know, guru people. I don’t know if she was back then, she probably was. And I read that book like kind of in my…I wasn’t in my hospital bed, I was like all laid up at home. And it was the first time that I really saw like, wow, I’m not in charge of my life entirely, but the degree to which I take the time to really think about what I want from my life and put time and attention into visualizing that and getting specific about it and designing it, the greater chance I have of creating that, which was a really empowering thing for me. And it’s interesting to think, you know, if I hadn’t been slowed down so much and bedridden and in such kind of a dark place, would I have been open to that kind of message at 16? You know, I think lots of 16-year-olds are just motivated by their immediate social surroundings.

And so I honestly take that whole experience as grace and a really unique opportunity, and it really transformed my life and it took me to a place where I became much more interested in school again. I ended up getting a full ride to college. Through that process though I did decide to like move out early. At 17, I started supporting myself on my 17th birthday. And kind of strangely enough, I did that via being a professional musician locally as like playing in bands and I learned how to beatbox. And so via beatboxing a bunch of commercial work, like Kinko’s and Chilis and kind of all these like bizarre, bizarre things came together in my life.

But yeah, I ended up going to college. I got a full ride to college. Through college, I…you know, I think because I was so challenged by that experience and wanting to have deeper meaning, I got really into religious studies and philosophy. And I was raised in a family that was not very religious. And through that experience, really, I learned a lot about where people get meaning from the world, how to just like live a good life. And I got really turned on to service. I’d never really done service earlier in my life either. And so via that I started doing service projects overseas. I did them in orphanages in India and Central America. Actually developed like whole new programs in an orphanage in India. And I ended up graduating as valedictorian of my college.

And so I would say that it was I mean pretty, pretty remarkable turnaround from how dark it was in high school. And I would say, again, you know, not to highlight too many like dark hard things, but that experience in high school, which was pretty traumatic but transformative, coming from kind of like my own stupidity, ignorance, youth, it was really transformative. And yet I had actually another experience in India when I was 21, was a very challenging…it was actually a bus accident in the foothills of the Himalayas. My bus and another bus collided and the other bus went off a cliff. And there’s no one there, you know, it’s hundreds of meters. There’s no like, emergency services. And so myself and a few other young people climbed down this cliff and spent hours, you know, rescuing the few people that we could from this cliff. And that’s like, you know, a whole other side of trauma, of challenge, of life, of suffering that was, you know, not for me necessarily making bad decisions, but just being in life and kind of seeing how I would react to that and what I would do in that type of moment.

And again, that was a moment that I think was really transformative for me and taught me a lot about how fragile life is, how not in control we are sometimes, and the importance of just really like savoring every moment. And I think from that, it’s weird. You know, it’s this kind of contradiction between, are we in control of our lives? Are we not? We are to some extent and we aren’t to another. And I think in really having those deeper kind of near death experiences like that, it can help one, helped me at least to really, really believe in and really, really want to take advantage of every single place in my life where I do have influence, where I do have control with my thoughts, with my beliefs, with my goals, with my time, with my attention. Those things I can have impact on and it’s not worth kind of just like letting float away. So, yeah.

And from that it kinda took me into a whole, I think, unique career after that. I got really…during that time period as well in college, I got really turned on to other languages and cultures. I never learned another language as a kid, but I realized actually through my religious studies, because I learned classical Greek, Koine Greek so I could translate the Bible. I learned Arabic so I could read the Quran. And through that I realized like, wow, you can like learn languages as an adult. It’s not as hard as they say. So I learned Spanish and I learned French. And so when I graduated, I moved to France. And through that, you know, I kinda just kicked off a whole international career right out of college and ended up living overseas for the next five or six years before I moved back to Boulder…or I moved to Boulder. I was originally from Austin and, you know, kind of restarted a career here in the U.S. So I’d say that’s kind of…that’s the transition from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood.

Katie: You definitely have one of the more interesting stories I think I’ve ever heard when it comes to a lot of that. And I’m really curious actually to get your perspective on a follow up to that. So I also had a really traumatic experience with sexual trauma in high school and like you, I now actually am extremely grateful for that experience and I can see the many benefits that it has and the ways that it helps me like grow and face things. I did realize like even in the last five years, I had another round of things that I worked through with that, realizing that I think I had shut down a lot of emotions after that time and then had just powered through, which was great for getting through college and being successful. But then there came a point where I had to learn how to work through those emotions and actually feel them again. And so that was kind of my last five years.

But I’m curious because something I’ve struggled with so much as a parent is realizing that trauma actually helps me so much to get where I am. And so many of the difficult experiences in life in general have helped me to get where I am. And we all hope for the best for our kids and we don’t want them to have to go through, you know, these traumatic experiences to be able to succeed in life. So I’m curious, were you able to take things from that and how you have brought that into your parenting and giving your children those same skills and lessons, but hopefully without them having to face quite the pain that you faced?

Angelo: Katie, that is such a good question and one that I’m trying to work with and that I honestly struggle with. You know, I joke about we were just talking that I live in Boulder, and Boulder basically is like…it’s like the equivalent of a jumpy house or something. It’s like you’re like basically like can’t get hurt. It’s like everything’s so easy. It’s so soft. It’s so pleasant. It’s so nice. And sometimes I wonder for my kids, like are they getting enough kind of grit and challenge from life? And actually last year we were at the beach in Costa Rica with some pretty, pretty serious waves and I was just watching get like slammed and I could see how kind of scared they were. They’re 6 and 4, and I was like, gosh, like finally some challenge for them.

But in terms of being more intentional about how to help them develop skills of, I would say resilience, gratitude, grit, you know, these things that come through challenge, I do think it’s possible to give it to them without, you know, making them struggle through trauma. And I’m sure they’ll have their own traumas in life to some degree. And the way that I have approached that is to really treat them like complete humans. And not saying that like most parents don’t do that. I do think there’s like an element though of almost like I think I can get and some parents can get too absorbed in like the dynamic of “I’m a parent, you’re a child. I need to just like raise you in a certain way”. Versus really, I guess bringing the child in at a very young age and to the fact that like, wow, you are part of this like miraculous, crazy thing called life.

And there’s parts of it that we can explain and we can understand. There’s others that we don’t, there’s parts of that involve faith, but overall it’s like this…it’s this magical kind of challenging world that you’re coming into. And not trying to protect them from certain realities. And I guess really engage them in the more challenging dynamics of life. So for example, when they’re acting out and being disruptive or being rude, I really just talk to them like an adult and tell them how it’s affecting me, that, you know, when you act this way, I feel frustrated. I feel sad. I feel kind of stuck in the way that you’re…that we’re like stuck in this pattern together and, you know, when they’re really young, like when they’re 2, they don’t really get it. But it’s been surprising to see as they get to 3, 4, how they get that.

And I think simply being confronted with real tension with people that you love and you care about, and then being real with you is some of the most challenging stuff you can work through in life. You know, people talk about, “Oh, I’m a great…” you know, this is I think an adult joke, but like, you know, I’m great. I’m like, perfect until I have to like be around my parents, or my family, or something like that. You know, people get triggered emotionally. And yeah, I think just being real and honest about our emotional dynamics and about the way they impact people and just like not letting them off the hook. Like, “Oh, they’re just a kid. They don’t get it.” I just don’t let them off the hook.

They’re responsible for the way that they feel. They’re responsible for the way that their behaviors potentially impact other people. And other people have feelings that come up. I mean they’re not responsible for someone else’s feelings, but they have to take account for the fact that they really do have an impact on other people. I think another way that I do it is, you know…and this is an interesting thing for me because I don’t feel like my parents did this as much with me. There were some things I was just naturally good at and they’d kind of just let me do that stuff. And that’d make me work really hard at the stuff that I’m not as good at. One thing I’ve really leaned into differently than I think I was raised is making them practice stuff. Like just making them work at stuff that they don’t like. And, you know, it’s like anything like playing piano, they’ve actually been playing drums. They’ve been having drum lessons for like the last couple years. And even when they don’t wanna practice, just making them practice, like making them get through that kind of discomfort of what’s not fun.

And so, I mean those are some of my tactics to work towards this. But for sure, I mean none of that is gonna be as challenging as suffering through struggle…you know, struggling through and overcoming sexual abuse or some type of near death trauma. I would just hope that at least, you know, me trying to be as real as possible with them and trying to introduce them to grit and resilience and really direct communication will at least prepare them for when even, you know, medium sized challenges come up in life.

Katie: I love that. And to speak to that, you mentioned about like not regressing or emotionally regressing on your parents. I’ve heard that quote that you don’t become an adult when you’re 18. You become an adult when you stop emotionally regressing around your parents. And I love that. You’re hopefully creating a scenario where they never feel like they have to do that with you, that they can be real with you from the very beginning. And I hear echoes of…like, we do a lot of that as well. Like I can’t in good conscience make my children’s lives difficult for them just so that they develop character, but we travel quite a bit and we don’t travel in luxury. We travel and try to experience cultures where they are and I feel like travel brings its own discomfort at times and lack of sleep and carrying heavy bags and things that like build that in without us, you know, making their life hard on purpose.

And we talk a lot about being able to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and getting comfortable with discomfort in general. And like you, we also are very real with them and try not to do anything for them once they’re capable of doing it themselves. That was something my parents did with me that I think was really beneficial.

I’m curious if there are other ways that…or other kind of principles or tenants you follow in parenting, because I think like that, what we just talked about is one of the really important things. But I think also like I know right now very top of mind for me for instance is just now jumping into the teenage world is how do you keep that connection and relationship and fun with them as they start getting older and they do have that natural desire to pull back a little bit. Do you have any ways that you keep those touch points with your kids?

Angelo: Absolutely. I can’t speak to kind of the teenage years because I’m not there yet. I do have the benefit of actually in a…previous to the company that I have now, it was a young adult mentoring program and it works specifically with like 18 to 22 year olds. And through that I did a lot of research on and studied a lot about brain development of adolescents, which is actually 12 to 26. It doesn’t end at, you know, 20 or 22. It keeps going all the way to 26, and how that impacts them and ways to engage with them around that. But specifically for my children, you know, the number one thing I found, and it sounds like so obvious, but it’s actually not. And I feel like anyone who’s a parent will get how it’s not…. really following their lead.

Like when I get home from work, oftentimes, you know, I wanna engage with him. I want to hear about what they did. I want to connect with them, but I kind of still have my own agenda. Like maybe I wanna talk to my wife about something or, you know, I just wanna eat, or I wanna get to whatever like my next thing is. Or you know, it’s been a hard day and I’m just kind of tired, it’s like I just wanna get through the…to be honest, I feel ashamed to say this, but like kind of get through the family stuff if I’m struggling for or waiting ’till I can have some time alone. And so it’s like I’m there with them, and then that last case it’s like I’m the least there with them, but in other case is I’m there with them, but I’m not totally there with them.

If I can really just make them the leader in a moment of play, like, “All right guys, like what’s up?” And they start directing everything and I just like hang in there with that for like an hour, an hour and a half, which is a long time to not get distracted, to not kinda try to take over and be the facilitator of the play of whatever we’re up to, then it’s pretty remarkable. I mean, they really like…I can even see it in their eyes. It’s like, wow, like Papa, it’s what they call me. He’s like, man, he’s like, really…he’s like, really here with me. It’s not like I’m part of his world. He’s part of my world. And honestly, just transferring that into the teenage years, I’ve really found, and not as a parent, but as a mentor for that age group how it’s really the same thing.

And again, I think that’s one of the challenges of sometimes having teenagers is they start kind of taking over, right? Like they have their own world, they have their own way of seeing things. And there’s elements of being a parent where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, like that is just…you know, not wise what they’re doing,” or their taste in whatever kind of music or art is just…you know, it’s just not that good or it’s offensive. And there’s this element of kind of wanting to clam up and not be open to them and more wanting to kind of bring them back to your world.

And I think the willingness to engage with them fully in their world, fully in their interests, fully like in their stream of thought and their thought patterns creates a level of trust and understanding that you can’t get any other way. Because what someone feels when you do that is like you’re really listening. You’re really empathizing, you really care. Like, you’re willing to give up your own agenda to be with me and my agenda. And I just don’t think that there’s another way to…I don’t think there’s really like a better way to build trust with people than that, whether they’re 4 years old and they’re 16 years old or they’re like your 40-year-old spouse. So that’s…I guess that’s my hack.

Katie: Yeah. I think you’re 100% right on that. And we had that same realization with our kids a while back realizing that rather than putting them in all the extracurricular activities, they’re still in quite a few. But we couldn’t let anything interrupt those kind of carefree times with them where we were just focused on them. And for us, like family dinner is a huge time together that we try never to like get interrupted. And bedtime is a time we try to make sure that we’re all present and that we are there to tuck them in and talk with them before they go to bed. I’m curious what like tangible ways do you bring that in in your family? Like we have a family manifesto and we have kind of meetings occasionally as a family. How do you build in those touch points with your kids?

Angelo: For sure we use a similar structure in terms of like set times that are just…they’re almost like Holy times, and that is, that’s the morning and that’s the evening. So always in the morning, you know, we’re all together. My wife and I wake up quite a bit before the kids. You know, just kind of get ourselves ready with our own personal practices, a meditation, exercise, etc. And then with the kids, yeah, just always being in the morning to help prepare breakfast, you know, I take my kids to school. I take my son to school now. And then in the evening, you know, it’s definitely being there to play outside before dinner and then to have dinner and then to, you know, do bedtime. Like, those are just those really key times. And I think also you know, kind of going back to like how to…what are the key ways to help children develop if they, you know, can’t have like these traumatic experiences is actually, you know, just like prayer before dinner. And it really being a time and a place to express gratitude I think has been really, really important.

And we started that from when they were like…when my oldest was like 1 year old, just really every single night everyone has to dig in and talk about what they’re really grateful for that day and just connect with how special life is and how unique it is to be alive. You know, I think outside of…in bigger context than just with the kids is really with my wife and I and what we do. And we started this…you know, we’ve been together 12 years, I’d say we started it in some form about 10 years. It’s become much more formal over the last five years, six years. And that is, we have really dedicated annual planning. And that looks like two to three day intensive basically of visioning out our life for the next year.

And we go through different forms of visioning out actually like doing death bed visualizations. Like when we’re on our death bed, what do we wanna look back and say about our lives to mapping out kind of in decades, what are gonna be the most important parts of each decade and what we want from that time. And these sound kind of like heavy things. But it’s really helpful to see in context like actually there’s like two decades basically with your kids around and then they’re not around. So there’s other things we may want in our life that we think we need now or we want now, like some type of career success or business or something. But it’s like there’s gonna be time for that, you know, if we’re so lucky as to keep living that long. And just really seeing, yeah, life in kind of these chunks of time has been really helpful.

And then we do these pretty comprehensive mind maps, which is for anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a visual way of exploring ideas, setting goals, etc. Basically where you draw like circles on a page and you connect them with lines. And so you can have like a central idea and then sub ideas. And with that, every single year we set our mission and purpose for the year. It’s kind of like our slogan for the year. And then what are our key objectives and desires from that year in terms of health, in terms of adventure, specific things we hope for our children, etc. Then we have quarterly meetings where we go and we reflect on them more deeply again. And we make sure like the kids are with the grandparents. We’re really lucky to have grandparents nearby who can do that.

And then every single week we have a weekly family meeting. And really this, sometimes we bring the kids into it. It’s typically just my wife Kerry and myself. And in that we take the time to go over all the key areas of life. So to be looking at kind of this master vision, but also to be…we have, like, we have agenda points basically to remind ourselves of that I think are all the standard things that can come up in a relationship. Everything from just basic communication, like are there any snags in our communication where it looks like we’re not necessarily fighting, but it’s maybe sharp or there’s misunderstanding. Checking in around sex and intimacy, checking in around financials, around the weekly schedule that’s coming, around the annual schedule, like thinking out in terms of like, you know, future trips you wanna make, etc.

We have a whole list of kind of standard agenda items and we see them and we just every week go over them and we decide, is this something we need to talk about this week or not? Is it okay? If it’s okay we don’t have to worry about it. But it prompts us to think through and talk about those things. And I would say Kerry and I having that meeting is the single most important thing that we’ve done in terms of like a behavior that has led us to have a happy family and really to show up for our kids in a positive way. Because if my wife and I have some kind of like unresolved tension or something we’re not talking about, or we’re just not even like synced up around what we’re doing that week and there’s miscommunication. And on the day of it’s like, “I thought you were picking up the kids.” It produces unnecessary conflict and unnecessary stress for the family. That’s not the kind of, you know, positive, transformational stress. It’s just extra noise. And so, yeah, I mean I’d say that’s the number one thing that contributes to my wife and I together being great parents and family leaders.

Katie: What I love about that is just how intentional you guys are and how much you make that a priority because that’s something I realized several years ago as well. When I got really stressed…I’ve talked about this a little bit, but where I was probably close to a nervous breakdown and considered actually deleting “Wellness Mama” because I was so stressed and I realized in business I had…everything kind of flowed well. I had systems and procedures and checklists. And because of that everything worked. But at home I was much more just trying to juggle everything in my head and I was much less intentional. And becoming more intentional in family and relationships and at home was absolutely life changing. And I think so many of us, it’s easy because life is so busy to get caught up in that and just, you know, fly by the seat of our pants or just juggle and just get through and survive each day.

But when we take that time to step back and be more intentional, it really can be dramatic, the difference that it has for us. But it also made me think of it as kind of a segue, the business side of it because I know that you also are an entrepreneur and that that’s something that’s probably important to you. And that’s one of the core values that we’ve wanted to make sure we pass on to our kids. And so I’m curious how you guys…I mean, I definitely have some ideas of my own, but how you guys are incorporating that with your kids at their ages and what plans you have for the future if that’s something they choose to do as well.

Angelo: Yes, absolutely. And it’s something too that I think like my parents gave to me. I mean, I was just raised in this household where I remember I would get 10 cents a copy, like, so my mom would pay me per copy I would make. You know, I describe my parents as being these hippies and had a health food restaurant and store. My mom also was an accountant and so she had some accounting clients and, you know, I would be like her assistant doing this different type of work. So I was used to getting hired to do work at a young age.

With our kids, you know what…I think the approach that we give them to life is multifaceted. You know, there’s a whole dynamic around ethics and people like, you know, how do you treat people, and what type of relationships do you wanna be in and why? And there’s also another dynamic, which I think this is where I…there’s many, you know, there’s health, etc. But where I put entrepreneurship is kind of like the creation box, the active box. Like if you’re gonna go out into the world and do something, what do you wanna do?

And you could be a professional, you know, you could go to school and become a really talented, trained technician as like a doctor. You could become an artist and you could be a business person. You know, like what is it that you wanna do? And so regardless of what path they go down, I want to…we want to teach them and empower them with the skills to look inside themselves, find out what they’re interested and passionate about. And then know how to take that interest and turn it into something real in the world that has real meaning to other people and to society and that people want to pay you money for it. You know, that you can engage in the world around that.

And so really, any time they have an interest in something, we make sure that we nurture them doing it for themselves and they just love doing it on their own. And then we do ask like, “Hey, how is this something you could share with other people?” So for example, if it’s playing music, they…so my kids and I have…we’ve made up this band it’s called The Filthies. It’s a punk band. And we really do have practice and we record some songs. And, you know, I think I chose…I led us in the direction of a punk band. It’s the easiest band to make with a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old because it’s just like noise.

But with that, you know, they love just doing it, but they also liked the idea of making a video and sharing it with friends. And now they’re really excited. My son Joaquin just designed our first tee shirt and we just ordered them. So we’re getting all these Filthies tee shirts made that then we’re gonna sell and share with people. But rather than it being like, you know, here’s this way that like, you’re gonna make money, it’s how can you take this and engage others in it and create more value in their life. And similarly, you know, we’ve done like the lemonade stand a lot, which they love the lemonade stand. And probably, you know, from a more kind of capitalist or financial standpoint, I have started introducing to them…Joaquin gets it more now he’s 6. Just like kind of the basics of financials, you know, what the difference is between getting like a return on your investment.

Like if you put money into these lemons and into this honey and into these jars, you know, how much money do you need to get back from it? And what’s the difference between like CapEx, you know, like actually investing in the jars that you’re gonna be able to use over and over and over again versus the cogs of just like the lemons and the honey for this time. And how do you start to think about when and how you’re gonna spend money, you know, do you really need like the fancy jars to start or do you start just with the lemons and the honey now and then once you get more money then you could get nicer jars to serve them in.

And I think just teaching it as kind of like a game and a fun way of understanding how to use the resources of money. It’s super fun to them and it’s not like they’re trying to like go out there and like make a bunch of money just for doing it. They’re pursuing passions and things that they love while at the same time just learning how money works and how to get a good cash on cash return.

Katie: I really like how the focus for you guys is creating value and that’s the metric, not just money because I 100% agree if you create value and help people, the money can come from there.

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Katie: And we do something similar. So ours are a little older and our goal is that they finish…we homeschool, so that makes it a little easier. But they finish school by about 13, 14 at the latest, with traditional bookwork. And then from there we’ve created a framework for an entrepreneur incubator of sorts where they…the contract that they have with us is they have to have a profitable business for one year before they can drive or get their own cell phones. We have a family phone but they don’t have their own until they’ve created value. And our thought being, we can build in so many lessons in a fun way into that, whether it be tracking your financials and understanding profit and loss, or understanding like what profit is in general and how that ties to cost of goods sold or solving a problem.

So it doesn’t have to be a hugely profitable business. It could be, you know, like mowing the grass or it could be something. I have a feeling we’ll have some creative wins with a couple of our kids, but that way they learn those lessons in a tangible way that hopefully is actually very applicable once they leave home as well. And so I love that you guys seem very much on the same page with that. And it’s something that you’ve very much done as well because you’ve been involved with several companies from what I know, including the one you’re currently with, where I feel like you very much are creating value. Can you talk about that a little bit and how you yourself make the decision on what your career moves are gonna be based on that?

Angelo: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I just love the idea you just shared. Like I’m definitely gonna take pieces of that and I can’t…I love that you’re ahead of me in the game too. So I can take some of your lessons of what worked really well with my kids when they’re teens. You know, in terms of my own career, I think it relates really well back to what I just described with the kids. It’s like how can I participate with others in such a way that I really create value in their lives? Whether that’s with colleagues, whether that’s within consumers, whether that’s with other businesses, that it’s not like I show up and I just do my job and I get paid for doing my job, but that whatever I contributed is worth enough that people wanna give me more money or more time. Because it’s so valuable to them, and that I really pursue interests and opportunities that are exciting and fun.

And I think that’s more…I think that’s just unique to me. I mean, I know lots of people, you know, pursue things that are fun, but some people are more oriented around service or around stability, and for sure I think…you know, and this kind of oftentimes goes with being an entrepreneur. It’s towards adventure for me, you know, like, what’s the next cool big thing I can learn or do? And I think the balance of being a good entrepreneur is to combine that drive for adventure, that drive for new…that willingness to take risks with the intelligence to what I just described earlier about the kids, like to think about a cash on cash return.

You know, it’s like if you can make sure you invest your time in the right order so that cash is coming in, you can keep doing things. Because if you just, you know, kind of are all over the place with all your ideas and you wanna try everything and you’re really excited and it’s always new adventure, and you’re changing careers, or changing business every three months, you won’t be able to get enough momentum. You need to make enough choices in order that you start to get momentum and that you get enough money in the door that you can keep doing things.

And so I would say, you know, the current business that I’m part of, Kion, which is a lifestyle supplement and functional food company cofounded with Ben Greenfield is, it’s just…it’s been the coolest thing I’ve ever been part of as a business. It brings out the best of me. I love it so much. We found a lot of success. It’s an amazing partnership with Ben and, you know, it’s just kind of like, it’s an ideal for right now. And I think the reason why that is, is because in Ben, I found a partner who was as excited about life, made me even more excited about life than I am.

This guy is like, he’s a wild dude and he’s been on the show before, so I’m sure some of your listeners have heard of him. And if you haven’t…if you didn’t miss that…if you missed those episodes, go check out Ben Greenfield fitness. He’s just really up for adventure and trying everything. He is so passionate about life. And he’s also really willing with me to be patient, to build a company the right way, to build the right team, to do things step by step. And with that, we have been able to build a company that, you know, is not just exciting for us or profitable, but it really I just feel deeply connected to it. I love it. You know, I can’t imagine loving a company more than the way that I love this company.

And that’s because we’re really making the highest quality products we can make. We’re really trying to build the highest quality culture and team and set of relationships that we could possibly make. We really are dreaming big in the future about like the types of unique ways that we could serve the world through better health products and solutions. It’s just this kind of perfect combination of being…I guess it’s like the idealist and the realist, being connected to our deepest passion while at the same time making smart business decisions in the moment.

Katie: And I’m so curious. I know I’ve heard it from Ben I think before, but remind me what Kion means and the meaning behind the name of the company.

Angelo: Yeah, absolutely. So Ki is the Japanese word for ch’i, which you’ve probably heard the Chinese word, which means, you know, energy, life force, and Kion is a development on that word. And it’s really the purpose of the company. You know, being beyond just like one more, you know, performance supplement company is to really be focused on helping people connect with their core life force, with the energy that makes them up and that makes this whole life possible, and to find a way of optimizing that.

You know, in lots of ways people are like, “Oh, I just wanna, you know, get as thin as possible,” or as strong as possible, or as smart as possible. But if you really like kind of break all that down…and this actually I think is interesting if you go to the heart of the word health, which comes from…you can trace, you know, proto-Germanic or old English words. But really what it comes down to is like wholeness. Fundamentally, it’s wholeness. It’s kind of that integrated wholeness of life.

You know, seeking health is about being able to have this experience of being fully alive, of being fully vibrant, of feeling integrated and whole. And we wanted to make sure that we built a company that…like, that’s what we encouraged in the office. That’s really what we encouraged with every single person that purchased one of our supplements or our bars, our coffee, that they could feel the fads that we were about and that we made all of our business decisions from that.

And not from a place of like, “Hey, is this the thing that’s gonna…” You know, you could add an ingredient, for example, into a pre-workout that maybe gives someone a better pump, and they could maybe get more results in the gym. But if it’s a type of stimulant, for example, that after they take that, they come home and they act like a jerk to their family because they’re kind of too edgy, it’s not worth it. That’s not wholeness. That’s not real health. It’s like seeking out one extreme over what it really means to be healthy and have a vibrant life. Sorry, that was a long answer.

Katie: No, I think that was a perfect answer and I love that so much. And the recurring theme I notice with you both from being your friend for the last couple of years and everything you’ve said today is this amazing ability to learn from life experiences and then to really kind of create and build the life and the family and the career and the relationships that you want based on that. And that’s kind of the theme I was hoping that we’d pull out today. So I’m curious for anybody who maybe doesn’t have that same confidence or doesn’t have the life that they hope for right now, if you have any steps or things, other ways that you would encourage people to start manifesting that in their own lives.

Angelo: The idea of manifesting the life of your dreams is obviously really appealing, right? Like the idea that you can get exactly what you want and be exactly who you wanna be. I think that the first thing to acknowledge and to consider is that it’s not a direct line. It’s not like, this is who I am today, these are the parts of my life I don’t like. This is how I wanna change, this is who I wanna become, and I’m just gonna go directly there. I think it looks more like a series of circles or spirals and a continuous learning process. And so rather than thinking like I’m just gonna set this goal and I’m gonna get to it and then if I don’t get to it, then I’m like disappointed, really consider that you need to go in loops and circles.

That’s why I actually I talk about this process of the creative loop and I actually use this a lot with Kion as well and like our whole team, and in building a company. And I call it a loop because it’s a circle that repeats itself. And I think at the start of the loop, if there’s a start, it’s about really deeply unearthing or if you’re in a business context, kind of brainstorming what you might really want, what’s really most important to you. And you know, the first time you do it or the second time or the third or the 20th time, it’s not gonna necessarily be the final time. You’re not gonna like, you know, really uncover what it is. But what’s your best effort today? You know, what’s your best effort today to think about what you might really want, and are you willing to challenge notions of what’s possible, what’s not possible, and don’t try to think through all the how and the what and exactly, you know, how it’s all gonna happen, but just what could it be?

And once you’ve unearthed that and taken the time to do that, what’s the piece that really sticks out? Like if there’s a vision for the ideal relationship, or marriage, or way to be a parent, or health, you know, what is it that, not in all of its detail, but just kind of like the vision of it for you. Like the way you can imagine yourself interacting with your children or the way you can imagine yourself interacting with your spouse. And then to take that and to add some more color to it and to design it in a little more detail. Like what would that mean? That would mean that I…you know, if I wanna have this relationship with my wife, I would really remember to take out the trash every Tuesday morning.

And I give this as a real example because it’s like one of the things I just consistently like fail at. I mean I do it pretty well, but I mess it up like every six weeks or something. And yeah, just designing in specificity what that looks like. And then as you continue to kind of move through, if you can imagine this being a circle to the next stage of the circle, after you’ve designed the specificity of it, then get into like the “how”. Okay. So like how am I gonna do that? Like, how am I gonna remember to take out the trash because it seems like I keep messing it up. And to spend some time on that, and that’s what I call just like…that’s actually what strategy is. When people talk about like business strategy, strategy is honestly just the sequencing of activities in the right order to get at the end result you wanna get to. And so, spending some good time on that.

And then after you’ve done that, think about…then it’s really just comes down to action. Like, you have to start taking action. And some people are better or worse at taking action. Some people are better or worse at strategizing, at designing, at the brainstorming, and just acknowledging kind of in this whole, in this circle what you’re best at. And after you get through the action, and I think this is the most important part of this whole loop to evaluate what happened. Oftentimes people set goals and then go for it and then it happens or doesn’t happen and they never really go back and evaluate what happened. If you really spend the time, and my wife gave me this insight that I needed to make binders. So I’ve had binders for years now where I actually track like my life goals and track the strategies I set to get them and come back and review them on a weekly basis.

So I come back to my binder and I look at it and be like, all right, what happened this week? What’s happening in this quarter? What’s happening this year? Why…you know, why was I successful? Why was I not successful? Did it have to do with, like, I wasn’t actually connected with that vision for my life and so I wasn’t motivated? Or was it, no, I was really connected, it’s just, I had dumb strategies. Like I can’t even believe, I thought I was gonna be able to like, you know, take this huge step first. I need to take smaller steps. Or, does it have to do with the action? Like am I just kind of like lazy at night and I thought I was gonna get this stuff done at night and I’m not getting it done.

And then from there next, which I think is really important, literally list and keep track of all of your lessons. Every single lesson. I literally have an Angelo instruction manual in one of my binders. That’s like every single lesson that I’ve learned it’s like, hey, these are the things that I shouldn’t assume or think that like Angelo’s gonna be successful at doing it that way. Or these are, you know, really hard lessons that he learned via this. Sorry I talk about myself in the third person but it kind of helps to give myself perspective on it. And tracking all that, and you get all the way through that circle, then you start again. You know, and maybe you don’t need to like, you know, do the really deep brainstorm and uncover, unearth everything again, because your vision for your life is still pretty on point. It makes sense. You’re motivated by it. You just need to like, you know, maybe modify the strategy, and like what things you need to do first or, you know, maybe you need to find ways to motivate yourself more during the action phase. And you just keep going through that circle and keep going through that loop.

And through that progressively, and this is why I think of it as like a spiral, you know, you climb, you get higher and higher and higher and you become better and better at knowing yourself, knowing what you care about, knowing the parts of that loop that you’re best at, the parts where you need help. And you just become a better actor in the world in behalf of your own…on behalf of your own desires and dreams.

Katie: Such a cool idea with the idea of a loop like that. I just took a ton of notes while you were saying all of that. And that feels like something I would implement as well. I’ve always kept notebooks and sketchbooks and just journals. But I love the how like intentional and how there’s a formula there and that makes sense that over time you’ll be able to build on that. I also know that you are the CEO of a big company and I need to respect your time and I made sure that we would have a hard stop in just a couple of minutes. A few questions I’d love to ask toward the end, the first being if there’s a book or number of books that have dramatically impacted your life and if so what they are and why.

Angelo: The number one book that I would recommend is Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet.” And the reason why is because they’re real letters from a real person to another, just giving the best advice that this young man could give another young man. And it’s not specific to males. It’s great. Actually, a young woman when I was 20 recommended it to me, and it’s really an amazing guide book for how to pursue what you love most and how to be motivated from your own passion in that way. And it’s also a really amazing guidebook for I think overcoming struggle and suffering and being connected to your own sense of power and responsibility in that versus feeling like life is just happening to you. So I would just leave you with that one.

Katie: Perfect. I will pick that one up as well. It’s new for me as well. And lastly, any parting advice you wanna leave with the listeners today building on anything you’ve said in this episode or something completely different?

Angelo: You know, the most important advice that anyone’s ever given me was by a monk. His name was Father Theophane Boyd. And I went to him thinking he was gonna, you know, just like tell me the most amazing deep, esoteric knowledge when I was…I must have been 19 years old. You know, I was like, “Give me the deepest information you have.” And his simple response was, “Every single person you meet, know something you don’t.” And I think if your listeners, all the world, would take that into all their interactions with everyone they meet, with strangers, with their children, with their spouses. We would really have a better world because there’s something that every single person can teach us and can give us. And our willingness to be open to that is perhaps the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Katie: I love it. I think that’s a perfect place to wrap up. I really appreciate you being here and sharing today. Like I said, I really respect you as a friend and that from our previous conversations, the way that you interact with your family and with your business. And I’m just so grateful that you took the time to share with all of us today.

Angelo: Thank you, Katie. I really value you as a friend too, and have so much respect for the work that you do, and it’s an honor to get to be on your show.

Katie: Thank you. And I know we didn’t talk as much as I would’ve liked about it, but you guys, Angelo is the CEO of a company called Kion, like he mentioned. There will be links to some of my favorite products from them in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. So make sure to check those out. And thank you all for sharing your most valuable asset, your time, with both of us today. We’re so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the “Wellness Mama” podcast.