About this episode

This week we are featuring Ashley Borden founder of Ashley Borden Fitness. Ashley is one of the most sought-after experts in her field. She has helped transform some of the biggest names in Hollywood, like Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and World Series Champions Nick Swisher and Brian Wilson. She is a featured trainer on programs like Khloe Kardashian’s Revenge Body, as well as, The Today Show. Ashley is a true expert in her field.

After a long career helping people 1:1, ,she is now utilizing technology to reach even more. While the use of technology in fitness is not unique, what is unique is Ashley’s journey. Her entrepreneurial adventure has faced tremendous obstacles. Within Ashley’s story we see the epitome of resilience and agility.

Ashley did not enter her industry as an expert, she became an expert when she entered the industry. As she learned the technical side of her craft she also began to master the business side. Her consistent pursuit of self-improvement and her improvement of her brand is what has led her to be the expert she is today. This is Ashley Borden’s startup story.

In this episode, you’ll hear

  • Her early childhood, growing up in a household of business owners but not understanding entrepreneurship
  • Struggling through school with a learning disability and the impact it had on her future
  • Her realization that working against her nature, she started to learn what worked for her
  • Ashley’s decision to move to LA, her journey through acting, reaching a breaking point and leaving the industry
  • Her journey to recovery from an eating disorder through Overeaters Anonymous
  • Her realization that she needed to find her purpose in life and the importance of focusing on your strengths
  • Her introduction into the world of fitness training, learning as she went, and her first client experience, working nonstop to make something happen
  • How working with Christina Aguilera changed everything for her and her fitness training business
  • How her grandmother funded her first publicist for $2,500 a month
  • The importance of asking for help

“In training you have to focus on your weaknesses, but in business you are better served to focus on your strengths.”
—Ashley Borden

Resources from this episode

Article $50 offer: https://www.article.com/startupstory
Ashley Borden Fitness & Lifestyle: http://ashleyborden.com
Strengthfinders 2.0, Gallup and Tom Roth: https://amzn.to/2OKfrgt
The Startup Story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thestartupstory/

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If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Danny Ozment.

He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world.

Contact him today at https://emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory

Special Guest: Ashley Borden.

Episode transcript

The Startup Story - Ashley Borden

Ashley Borden: Hi, I'm Ashley Borden, founder of Ashley Borden Fitness and Lifestyle, and this is MY startup story.

James McKinney: Every wildfire began with a spark. Every superhero has an origin story. And every single startup has a moment that they point to as their beginning. And every founder has a purpose that drove them in the midst of all obstacles. THAT is The Startup Story.

James McKinney: Before we jump into this week's episode, I want to say thank you to the team at El Camp for allowing me to fly into LA and use their incredible space to record this episode. If you're looking for a very cool co- working space in the LA/El Segundo area, then definitely visit elcampusa.com. Let them know you heard about them on The Startup Story. We'll include a link in the show notes. Again elcampusa.com.

And every week we read an iTunes review from a listener, and this week's review is from Ryan Taft at Story Soft that gave the show a five star rating and wrote, "Great interview with Scott Paul. I'm connected with him on LinkedIn and that's how I found the show. I'm now a subscriber to the show, looking forward to digging into the other interviews. I recently got a startup off the ground, Story Soft. Brands use our digital story telling platform to tell emotion evoking digital stories about their brand, products, and services. Think social media stories but more powerful, flexible, and insightful because they're built with web technologies and hosted on a URL. You create the content once and share on any channel. Analytics are built in so visit storysoft.io." Well, thank you Ryan for taking the time to write your review. I hope everyone checks out storysoft.io to see this great business you're building.

So for all my listeners everywhere, if you have found any value in The Startup Story, please leave a written review on iTunes and plug your brand, URL, or social media accounts. If you do that, then I will read your review in an upcoming episode and it becomes a mini ad that lasts for years, just like it did for Ryan. It's just my way of saying thank you for taking the time to leave a review. The written reviews mean a ton for being discovered within the iTunes platform. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Apple Podcast has redesigned their navigation, and finding great shows has become a bit more challenging. Climbing the charts on iTunes is not just about listeners, but it's about engagement. Listening is one way iTunes measures engagement, but written reviews have a multiplying effect. So please, leave those written reviews.

One last thing before we get into this week's episode. It is now December which means it's the Christmas season, which also means 2020 is right around the corner. At the end of this episode is a special offer just for you, The Startup Story listener. Don't go into the season or the New Year without a strategy on how to improve your health and how to show up for your business. So make sure to listen until the very end. And now, let's jump into this week's episode.

Our guest this week is Ashley Borden, founder of Ashley Borden fitness. Ashley is one of the most sought after experts in her field and she has helped transform some of the biggest names in Hollywood from Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling, to world series champions Nick Swisher and Brian Wilson. She's frequently asked to be highlighted as a feature founder on programs like Khloe Kardashian's Revenge Body, The Today Show, and Steve Harvey. Ashley is truly an expert of her craft. After a career of helping people on a one on one basis, she's now utilizing technology to reach many, many more. While the use of technology in fitness is not unique, what is unique is the entire journey that Ashley had to overcome to reach the top of her game. Her entrepreneurial journey is one with tremendous obstacles.

Ashley Borden: I didn't know what the word entrepreneurship was when I was younger. I grew up in a household where my mother owned a health food store and my father owned sporting goods stores. He started as an attorney initially when I was very young, and then was always working for himself. So I have not known any different. I grew up with parents that owned their own stores. So I haven't known "working for somebody else." As my mother did then sell her health food story and then started being employed by other people. But for myself, everything I like to say up until maybe 15 years ago was kind of like oh, look at this, oh I'm here, oh look at this, I'll do this. But it wasn't necessarily like from the beginning I was so riddled with so many, my mantra in my head, and we're talking in junior high, was like I'm not smart, I have a learning disability, I'm bad in math.

James McKinney: Just a lot of negative self talk, yeah.

Ashley Borden: Yeah. I was really, I did not do well in a traditional school setting. I know everybody to this day uses ADD/ADHD but like I was genuinely an ADHD child who, I didn't know. This is back in what, the eighties. So I had a really hard time with school. My brother was the one who was really good in school.

James McKinney: Older or younger brother?

Ashley Borden: One year older than me and we're very different in that way. I'm very much an extrovert as far as my personality. He was a lot more reserved, although still really funny and dry funny.

James McKinney: So he was British.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, exactly.

James McKinney: For all my UK listeners, I take that back.

Ashley Borden: That's hysterical. It's weird. He did grow up with an English accent. I'm just kidding. It wasn't until, I mean I was always in athletics, dance. I was a dancer and that's how I kind of grew up dancing, but with a father that looked at me as a very poor athlete and was very negative to me about the way I moved and I couldn't play tennis, and I couldn't bowl. He was very hard on me. My mother was a runner and I was a terrible runner.

So I, for a very long period of time, I was a dancer. Not on a pole, like jazz and ballet which I know I have to qualify for everybody. But I was a dancer which by the way does not set you up for anything athletic in life. I mean literally, it's actually probably destroyed my body in a way. As I was growing up, it was kind of like I want to become a better athlete, but I didn't know how to do that. I wanted to learn how to run and not feel like I was a friggin' ostrich legs going two different ways, do you know what I mean? I felt so un-athletic.

James McKinney: Like a Great Dane puppy.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, and I just didn't know why. It wasn't until I struggled my way through high school, but in high school I was acting. So I was doing commercial work and I had an agent downtown. I was always very business minded. I was like this whole school thing is in the way of my business career. This is what I was thinking, and my career making money and doing commercial work, and down town a lot. I was really out of the mindset of high school or probably after my sophomore year, I'm like I'm done.

James McKinney: So you knew that wasn't, academia wasn't going to be your next step after high school. You just knew.

Ashley Borden: I actually honestly didn't understand how people went to college. I was like wait a minute, this was the hardest thing for me to graduate friggin' high school was so hard for me. I had so much shame around my ability. I can learn really well. I feel like I'm an intelligent person, but when you give me a book and you're like read this, you're going to take a quiz. There is not a chance in hell that I can even open the book and even start it. It's interesting, it's the same thing with podcasts. You have to put it on for me to start listening because I'm like oh my God, I can't commit to a whole hour. How am I going to commit to an hour? How am I going to commit to a half hour?

This is part of my problem just sitting down in general, but I've now started listening to podcasts and listening to, I realize once I start hearing the story of it I'm like oh, this is actually really enjoyable for my brain. So I would say that I was working with my nature, which was actually not a good thing. Until I started working against my nature, then I started learning what worked for me. I graduated high school barely. Couldn't believe I graduated high school. I was like get me the f*ck out of here. And I was like I felt like I was really, and by the way not in an ego way. I was like these people are still in school, I already had like a business mind. I was like I need to start my career, I have things to do. I'm very busy.

James McKinney: What were those things? What were you thinking?

Ashley Borden: At the time, I was doing commercials. I had an agent downtown. I wanted to make more money. I didn't know that I wanted to be a trainer or anything, but I was like I'm going to move to LA because I lived in the suburbs of Chicago, and this is like ignorance is bliss. I'm going to move to LA and I'm going to get an agent in LA, and I'm going to work in LA. I was 17 at the time. I didn't ask anybody. I didn't consult anyone, I didn't do any research, this was just what I was going to do. I had family that lived out here. I had one friend that lived out here so I decided I'm going to move out here and I'll live with my cousin for six months.

So I packed up. I convinced my mother, which I don't know how she let me, but she was like okay. We drove out here. I lived with my cousin for six months. This was when I was 18. And during that time, I was like I need a friggin' agent. No, I also told my agent in Chicago that I was going to move to LA and that I was going to be with William Morris, ICM, or whoever the other big agent. Because that's who the best people were. She was like, "First of all, you don't tell your agent in Chicago, which by the way we have an agency in LA, that you're leaving us and you're going to go to these big agencies. It doesn't work like that." I was like, "Okay, then I guess I'm going to leave you now." I didn't know.

That's what I'm saying, ignorance is bliss, right? I didn't understand the protocol, and I was working in Chicago, but this is I need something bigger. So I move out and I write a letter. I write a friggin' cover letter with my friend, Andy Berman. He and I constructed a cover letter to all the agencies. This was back when you could send… you could go to Samuel French, this store on Sunset. You could buy all of the agents addresses in a sticky roll. So I went to Samuel French and I bought them, and I bought all the manila envelopes, and we wrote out a cover letter that said something like, "Hi, I'm Ashley Borden. I'm an actress. I'm new in town from Chicago. I'd love the opportunity to meet with you however, if you're going to f*ck with me, please use one of these," and I taped on a condom.

James McKinney: Oh my goodness!

Ashley Borden: I got in a meeting with William Morris. I got a meeting with ICM. I got probably four letters back telling me how inappropriate I was, and how inappropriate it was to send that. But I ended up being hip pocket at the time by William Morris, so I started working with William Morris.

James McKinney: That's awesome.

Ashley Borden: Then I was like I hate this.

James McKinney: Where did that idea come from, to come out so raw in that letter? You were 17 or 18 at the time.

Ashley Borden: Well, okay, I guess part of it was I knew that taping on a condom would probably be shocking because that's the thing. They get the same sh!t all the time, and I'm not necessarily a disruptor in a disrespectful way, but I am very much speak my mind. I've never been one to dim my light unless I'm working and I need to.

James McKinney: So you just understood how you were wired in that the context, this is going to be the thicker than a usual envelope, it's going to get opened, letter is going to be something that's worth being passed around. Got it.

Ashley Borden: Yes, yeah.

James McKinney: So you just understood all of that.

Ashley Borden: Yes, I understood. I've always had an understanding of people, and probably a big part of that has to do with, which I completely skipped over, all my recovery in 12 step program.

James McKinney: We'll get to that for sure.

Ashley Borden: But I understand people. I also feel like I can feel people. I can download people very quickly. I don't know, I just knew that would be not necessarily… maybe offensive, but also like I thought it was funny. And if you get my humor, then we should probably work together. If you think I have balls for doing that, then good.

James McKinney: There's a lot of subconscious processing inside that that is applicable today in our social media world. It's how do you grab the attention, how do you do it well, how do you aggregate the people that are like you as well. So there's a lot of things inside of that, that are so applicable to our digital world today.

Ashley Borden: It's interesting that you were saying that about understanding that when I, I've been in LA now for 26 years, I don't know, long time. Since I was 2. Just kidding. And I've gone, there's a group of us that are all the usual suspects. I've been on camera and done this a million times, and I don't get uncomfortable. The same way I am here is the same way I am on camera, it doesn't bother me at all. But when I went in for Revenge Body, they're like, "Do you want to come in and put on camera for another friggin' show?" I'm like ugh, all right, fine. Let's do it again, right? And I decided this time, which I am always myself, but I used to be a little more edited and I was like no more, I'm done being edited.

I went into this interview and I just said it like I felt it. I'm sick of people being victims and I just said everything that I felt without a filter, and got the show. Not necessarily that's why I got the show, but that was a conscious decision when I went in. because this is what I tell everybody. There are, it's just like a podcast, there's hundreds of thousands of podcasts. There's thousands of trainers, tens of thousands of trainers, therapists, service people. Instead of trying to compete with everybody, I need to know what makes me unique. I need to know what my strengths are. I need to know who I work with the best because there are enough people in the world to help everybody.

I can't work with everybody. I am not for everybody and that's something that I think some people don't realize is like you're not for everybody. Everybody is not for everybody, and that's okay. That is okay.

James McKinney: Yes, yes, Oh my goodness.

Ashley Borden: And when you make yourself, when you try to make yourself likable to everybody, I'm bored. And it's not authentic, and you can't because then you don't have a true personality. You're so bland. I'd rather you have an opinion and be an asshole than be a passive aggressive person who's trying to just appease everybody, because also you can see that. So I always tell trainers, and I coach a lot of trainers one on one, and I tell them all, when I first started training I didn't know necessarily what I was doing. I knew, so when I moved to LA I decided okay, I'm going to live in LA and I'm going to act. So I moved to LA, I got an agent, I started to go on auditions. I went on a friggin' Baywatch audition, I'm not kidding. I went on a Baywatch audition.

James McKinney: Oh, the Hoff.

Ashley Borden: And I left that audition. I think it was Avenue of the Stars area or something like that. Anyway, I left this audition and I was like I'm done. And I remember, because I had already gotten out of treatment and I was already starting my recovery in Overeaters Anonymous, which is for every eating disorder you can imagine, but I was like this is the most vacuous job. I can't do this. I don't want to be a girl on a beach running in a bikini. What am I doing? It was the first time that I realized that I needed to have a purpose in my life. I have to do something, and I have to help people otherwise I don't' think I'm going to be able to handle this life.

James McKinney: There's a lot I want to unpack real quick before we keep going on.

Ashley Borden: I've got a lot of luggage, and I have another U-Haul outside.

James McKinney: And I love this, and I love how authentic it is and how real it is. It's been brought up a couple times about recovery. In our timeline, you come from Chicago to LA around 17 or 18.

Ashley Borden: So Chicago is where recovery was happening.

James McKinney: So you were in recovery in LA, like you were in recovery or recovered?

Ashley Borden: Yes, I had just started.

James McKinney: What happened? One, what was the addiction and what was the catalyst for seeking help?

Ashley Borden: So I started having like kind of disordered eating, like control over it wasn't necessarily about my body, it was more about control over my food. My parents got divorced when I was eight. This is what I'm thinking, why it all started. I always wanted, I mentioned I always wanted to impress my dad and I wanted to impress my dad and my mom I think with eating really healthy. But then it became incredibly obsessive as I got into high school, and then it kind of flipped into… When I got into high school was the first time that I was actually acknowledged for what I look like, for my body.

James McKinney: Okay.

Ashley Borden: It was like a big thing in my school. They were like, "Oh my God, have you seen Ashley Borden's body? Oh my God, you see her body? Have you seen her body?" and like I know I sound like an asshole saying that like this, but it was. Because I was dancing for so long beforehand and I had really good posture, and I had I guess in high school you'd call a "good body", but I remember that started me going oh, well I must be really ugly in my face then since all you guys talk about is the way I look in my body.

I had no idea what was going on. The next most logical thing to do would be to stop eating because I don't know how I got my body. I don't know how I got this body, but I'm scared I'm going to lose it, so I'm going to stop eating or whatever. So just the insanity friggin' started in high school, which is also why it was hard for me to study and focus because I wasn't eating, and I was just a lunatic.

So I hit like a mental bottom when I graduated high school, meaning like I could not do it anymore. The disease itself, it flip flops. With eating disorders, they all flip flop. It's anorexia, then it's compulsive overeating, then it's bulimia, then it's compulsive exercise, then it's anorexia.

James McKinney: Just a general absence of balance.

Ashley Borden: Totally and just disordered eating. I had such a fcked up relationship with my body and food. It was so fcked up. There's nothing else, space, in my brain for anything else because I was so obsessed with myself, which by the way is so boring and exhausting. I mean and limiting and boring and exhausting. So that's why I was like I can't do this anymore and I went into treatment.

James McKinney: Okay, but it was all driven by yourself? Like you-

Ashley Borden: Well, no. I finally told Carol, my mother. I finally told her, "Hello, I need some help." She was like, "Oh, I thought I heard you throwing up in the bathroom." I'm like hello?

James McKinney: But again, I don't want to minimize that, it was still your seeking the help.

Ashley Borden: Yeah. I was like I'm either going to kill myself or I'm going to get help. It's one or the other. And my dad had already died so I was like if I did end it, my dad would see me on the other side and be disappointed in me even more. I swear to God, it was even like the disappointment on the other side, I was like I can't. So that's really what kind of had me hit a bottom was that I just mentally couldn't do… I wasn't l leaving my house. I wasn't getting dressed. I wasn't doing anything. Who can live like this? And it was for a very long time.

So all of that recovery is the over shell of my entire career and my business, and my logo, and what I do, and what I accept, and businesses I work with, and things I promote. My logo is a circle with 12 bumps around it that's an integrating color of green. The logo symbolism of it for me is the 12 bumps are the 12 step program-

James McKinney: Oh wow.

Ashley Borden: … And the circle is integrating everything into focus, and the green is the color of vitality, wealth, and health. That was all very on purpose, my logo. And another interesting side note of that was Robert Hails who is my client, who is the one who created the Nine Inch Nails logo, created my logo.

James McKinney: Well that's awesome.

Ashley Borden: Yeah. We created it together a long time ago. So that's what I'm saying. The 12 step program is an undercurrent for everything, for just me personally. I'm not a big preachy person about it, but…

James McKinney: You know, it's interesting just in the short time that we've had with your journey. When we started in the beginning and hearing how your dad owned an athletic store, your mom was in health foods. My mind is like oh, well that's how she ended up in health and fitness, because this was like her upbringing.

Ashley Borden: Right. It was so positive, yeah.

James McKinney: Yeah, and obviously it wasn't it.

Ashley Borden: It was the complete opposite.

James McKinney: So then we keep going and I'm so big on the breadcrumbs of entrepreneurship. You can just see things in our lives that kind of just set us up for this moment and whatever that moment is. Thus far, in the short time we've been here and we'll say from the beginning to being done with Baywatch, that audition, there are so many breadcrumbs where you have full ownership of your life. You acknowledge the eating disorder and you're like I'm going to get help, so you went and got help. Again, ownership. I want to move to LA, I want to send my cover letter with a condom, you did it.

So many things where you recognize who you are. You may not have acknowledgement, a full vision of where you want to go, but you just know that this is a change that needs to take place now. I just love that about your journey so far. Too, as we continue on and you make that decision I don't want to be running around in a bikini on Baywatch, again another ownership moment. So what happened once you, because that was I guess the point you decided I'm going to give up acting?

Ashley Borden: Well, it wasn't like growing up like I am going to do Shakespeare. I also did standup comedy, by the way. I did standup, but I did sitcom stuff. I have all respect for actors and anyone who wants to do that, but the bottom line of all of this was, by the way this has been my mantra since I was a baby, is don't tell me what to do, I can do it myself. And don't tell me what to do is number one. Deep down inside, I have always had a problem with having a boss. And I have a problem with you telling me what to do unless I say tell me what to do unless I say tell me what to do. Unless I hire you to tell me what to do. I'm asking you to help me what to do.

James McKinney: Unless you willingly submit to that position of authority.

Ashley Borden: And by the way, I can submit very… I have no problem submitting to anyone and being like tell me. So I have a problem with having a boss. As I learned in life, like learning also about ADHD and stuff about why you thrive, why people will thrive in positions where they own their own businesses, is also because of the deadline thing. If you put a deadline on me, I start freaking out. But if I put a deadline on me, I know how to manage it and I know how to manage my own time. But if you're like, "Ashley, can you write up a brief summary of this whole podcast for me and give it to me in two days?" I would be like, "No, I can't." I'd start with all the reasons why.

But now what I've learned at this point in my life, at this time, is I know how to work with myself so I have a wonderful assistant, Luce, who I would say, "Absolutely, James, I could get that for you," and Luce would help me, and she would probably type it up. Because understanding your strengths and understanding your weaknesses. There is a friggin'… okay, another turning point in my life of understanding myself, because going back when I was younger I felt like a lot of stuff was happening to me. I didn't necessary feel like I was driving the bus, but there were a lot of things kind of getting on the bus that I wasn't aware what was really going on. I was like, "How did you get on the bus?" then as I got older, I was packing the bus myself and I knew where I was going, and I had the whole trip ahead of time.

So there's a test for a lot of people when they are in college called it's either the Meyer's Briggs or the Briggs Meyer's.

James McKinney: Meyer's Briggs, yeah, yeah.

Ashley Borden: Right, which I never took, which I wish I had. There's a book out that's called StrengthFinders 2.0.

James McKinney: I love StrengthFinders2.0.

Ashley Borden: Oh, high five right here, James. That book changed everything for me.

James McKinney: I hope you are loving this episode of The Startup Story. Before we continue on with our episode, I wanted to let you know about some exciting Startup Story news. We are preparing to launch our very own YouTube channel. Yes, The Startup Story will be expanding our platform to YouTube. Now, as you can tell the listener experience is critical for me for the podcast, so viewer experience is obviously going to be critical for me for the new channel. I was not about to just record this from my office. I needed to make sure I had some great looking furniture. And yet, furniture shopping is terrible. Over eager sales people, poor quality pieces, and terrible customer service.

So in my search, I discovered Article. I was able to get everything online on my own. No showrooms, no sales people, and incredible pricing because there are no retail markups. Look, I'm bootstrapping The Startup Story, I have to be frugal. Article was an amazing resource and I cannot wait to announce when the channel is live so you can see what I've been working on. But look, you know I'm all about entrepreneurs helping other entrepreneurs. So when I reached out to Article, they gladly put together an offer for all The Startup Story listeners, and it's an amazing discount too. If you visit article.com/startupstory, you can get $50 your first purchase of $100 or more. Once you visit article.com/startupstory, the discount will automatically be applied at checkout. Like always, in case you can't remember the URL, we'll include a link in our show notes. I hope this hookup helps you in a big way. All right, enough about the update. Let's jump back into our episode.

Ashley Borden: There's a book out that's called StrengthFinders 2.0.

James McKinney: I love StrengthFinders 2.0.

Ashley Borden: Oh, high five right here, James. That book changed everything for me. See I forgot one of mine. So mine are, yours are commander, achiever, activator.

James McKinney: Communicator and connector.

Ashley Borden: Oh, okay.

James McKinney: Communicator, winning others over (WOO), commander, activator, and communicator. I'll have to…

Ashley Borden: So mine are competition, significance, communication, empathy-

James McKinney: Yeah, I don't have that one.

Ashley Borden: … see I have no sympathy. I have no sympathy. I have a lot of empathy. And the one where I can help you figure out exactly who you are, and I can't remember what that one is. But all of these things that when I found out what my five friggin' strengths were, and explaining to me… Because my whole life I used to think oh my God, I don't know how to do a spreadsheet. I should hire a tutor to come teach me for five hours how to do a spreadsheet while I gouge my eyes out with glass because this is the worst thing I've ever had to sit through. And then when I realized oh my God, this is amazing, I just focus on my strengths and I hire out my weaknesses. Or I gather my weaknesses from other people and we create a team. It changed my life. I also have anyone who works with me take the StrengthFinders, too.

James McKinney: Because you need to know how to work with them.

Ashley Borden: I need to know if they're right for me. When I was interviewing my new assistant, I've gone through many assistants over the years and I've never really understood what I need an assistant for. I used to think can't you just read my mind and just do it? But this time around, I had them do the StrengthFinders test so I could see do you have any empathy also? I need you to care about me a little bit. Not pretend, but it was great because it really helped me understand who I'm working w. my old publicist, she and I we did the same thing with the StrengthFinders stuff. It is life changing.

James McKinney: It is.

Ashley Borden: It really is life changing.

James McKinney: For a lot of people, Myer's Briggs is great. Obviously, there's a lot to understand about how you're wired, but for me StrengthFinders, and I love that you love it and we're going to have a link to the book in the show notes because I really think every person should get it, let alone entrepreneur for sure. As an entrepreneur, especially day one in starting a business, there are so many things you're doing and if part of what you're trying to accomplish and you're spending most time on are the things that really just suck the soul out of you, you're going to get discouraged faster than you would. As an entrepreneur, you're going to get discouraged anyway, it's inevitable. But to be focused on the things that you're just not good at will just destroy you. I'm going to have a link to the book.

Ashley Borden: Yes, and you actually don't move forward. It's kind of counter intuitive because with strength training, you do focus on your weaknesses. You do have to work on your imbalances. You have to work on the things that aren't working, but it's different in business. You need to understand, like I have an understanding of what I don't understand, but I don't need to know it in that way. Whoever I bring on to be a part of that is how you thrive. And also embracing the things… so like I always knew that I was competitive, but I didn't understand that it was a strength until I read this and I was like yes, I have to work in an environment where there's other amazing people and I can't be the best one in the room because then I get bored. Then I'm like there's nothing, I'm not inspired by anything.

The significance. I thrive when you tell me I'm doing a good job. I will do a better job for you when you say, "Hey, by the way Ashley, that was excellent what you did." I'll tell you what, it was so life changing to me I still remember it. I did an article years ago with Livestrong, and this is when Livestrong was still epic. Adam Bornstein was the editor-in-chief, and I'm still friends with Adam and I love him. He gave me a huge breakthrough with this and I had my own program on this Livestrong channel on YouTube for training. But he had me writing this article. It was a huge article and it took me, by the way if I write anything what might take a you a half hour will take me four hours. I'm not kidding, because I have to triple check everything. He said to me when I turned this article in to him, "Ashley, this was one of the most well written…" I could even cry talking about it now, "well written, intelligent things I've ever read." I was like what? And he inspired me more. He really was a game changer in my career because gave me this different confidence that okay, I am a good writer.

James McKinney: I'm assuming it validated all the narrative you had from your high school years and how you handled the education system.

Ashley Borden: Oh my God, yes James, yes. Can I lie on the couch because I'm going to cry?

James McKinney: It probably validated it, right?

Ashley Borden: Yes, yes.

James McKinney: It's those moments, and again listeners, recognize these moments in your life because these are, again, breadcrumbs for the things that you will be great at as you start your business.

Ashley Borden: And sometimes people don't even know… a lot of times, I actually did, I worked with this girl once who didn't know what she wanted to do with her career. By the way, I don't even know how we found each other. We met at this coffee shop and I worked with her for an hour and a half. By the time we were done, we realized that she was going to be a vegan chef and I don't even know how we started. But it's that breaking down of understanding like what do you love? Instead of getting in the way of why it won't happen, I'm never that person that's like well it won't work because of this, it won't work because of that. You need to be in the well how is it going to work? How are you going to make it work? What do you need to do? Who do you need to talk to?

I'm probably the most introverted extrovert. So I love to sit here and talk to you for five hours, but if you said, "We're going to go for 15 minutes to a party," oh my God, no. I don't understand what I'm doing there. I don't want to have vacuous, stupid conversation. So that I used to beat myself up over. I'm like, "You are not social. You're a fraud because you don't want to go to these events that everyone wants to go to." Then when I really started understanding, when you really understand more about who you are it's okay. That goes back to the everything of the everything. You don't have to… you can be you. I am me, who loves to have intimate conversation. I don't like big vacuous parties. I don't understand what I'm doing there, unless it's for work.

James McKinney: Yeah, you are, and this is for you, for listeners, you are uniquely made with a divine purpose. You need to figure out what it is.

Ashley Borden: Yes. Everybody is.

James McKinney: When you are open to the idea of just what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses, what are the things that just really fill me internally, you will find yourself in those places and just don't disregard those moments, and figure out where is this current taking me. So as you realize and start piecing all these things together, and you're leaving acting, what was that next step for you? Because there's a lot of life that you have lived emotionally and spiritually up until this point. What was the next step for you when you decided to say I am done with acting, the sitcoms, all this, I'm done?

Ashley Borden: Okay. Well at that point, I still didn't know anything about training but I was working out at the time. So I was like I need to get a job. I actually worked at, this is when it completely changed, I was selling… Do you remember the movie Glen Gary Glen Ross?

James McKinney: Yes.

Ashley Borden: Okay. In the boiler room? I worked at that.

James McKinney: In the boiler room?

Ashley Borden: In the boiler room, yes. I worked in a boiler room where everyone was like smoking cigarettes in this building in desks, and we had a big sign with everyone selling. We were doing this for I think the Jewish Federation or something where we're selling friggin' advertisement. It was awful, right? And the guy who was the boss there, it was like a horrible sitcom but the guy was horrendous. He was a horrendous person. Talk about like sexual misconduct. It was like, but back then who was even saying anything? This guy was disgusting. His name was Jeff.

James McKinney: Let's make sure we don't say last name.

Ashley Borden: I don't remember his last name. He had a mustache. That's all I know. But at the end of, I'll never forget, I finally got to this point where I stood up and I went to the end of the, there were like rows of desks. I was like I'm done, I quit. And I screamed at him and I said, "Fck you, Jeff. I fcking quit. This place [inaudible 32:49] sucks." And I screamed it, and I quit, and I slammed the door, and I walked out.

James McKinney: Oh my goodness.

Ashley Borden: Yes. Because I'd had it with him. I mean, it was awful. He was like, "You need to work in this room alone if you're not going to sit next to me." He was disgusting. Anyway, that moment I didn't have a backup plan. I did not have a backup plan because I was in my twenties, still struggling week to week with my money, but I couldn't do it anymore and that's kind of part of my thing. Emotionally, I couldn't do it anymore there. And I was dating this guy at the time that was a trainer, and I was like, "Wait, hold on a minute, people are giving you money to work out?" He was like, "Yeah. I collect 10 sessions up front." I'm like, "What?" I'd like never heard of this.

I know this wasn't like 1925, but I was like, I had never… I wasn't around college sports, I didn't know this was a profession, do you know what I mean? I didn't go to college. So I was like, "Hold on, how are you doing this?" So he like gave me his waiver that he had. I was at Gold's Gym in Hollywood, and there was really no women that were trainers there at the time because this is a long time ago. But I had a six pack. Not at the time, I still do, but I had a six pack then, and I still do. I would wear a half shirt and I only was comfortable working with women, because at that point I assumed that any man that wanted to work with me-

James McKinney: Had bad intentions.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, because I didn't know how to work with a man at that time. My first person I ever worked with was my hairdresser where we bartered. She was like, "I'll do your hair and you train me." This is the first lesson I learned in boundaries, okay? For all of you people that want to barter with people in understanding things. So I didn't put anything in writing and I was like, "Okay." So I would train her like twice a week and she would do my hair like once a month and I was like… So she lost 14 pounds. I'll never forget this. Julie. She lost 14 pounds and I gained no clients. Like nothing. I think we did this for like two months. But it was a good experience for me to start training her. By the way, I would never suggest to anybody to just go cold turkey and start training, put your hands on people, without having a certification and without being insured. This is a completely different era, do you know what I mean?

James McKinney: Yes.

Ashley Borden: This is a litigious era now, so I would be very careful to not just do it with a random person, or not do it being certified. Then I just started, I was at Gold's, and girls would come up to me and be like, "Oh my God, how'd you get the six pack? Oh my God, how do you…" like that. I was like, "Oh my God, let me show you." So I started and I think I charged $30.

James McKinney: For a gym session back then?

Ashley Borden: For a training session, yeah. And I remember there was a guy there, he was like the top trainer, and he was like, "Yeah, I charge $90 a session." I think I actually fell on the ground at the time. I was like, "Wait a minute. Hold on a second. Somebody pays you $90 for an hour to train?" and he was like, "Yeah." My brain exploded. But still, I was like that will never be me. I didn't know. I didn't know what I was doing. 10 years went by like this.

James McKinney: Ten years?

Ashley Borden: Ten years. I worked like I said, I worked on the prison yard. I had a feed bag on and I worked 12 hours a day. So I would just say yes to everybody, and I went all over the place. I trained in people's homes and a bunch of different gyms. I was terrified. I was like if I said no to somebody, oh my God.

James McKinney: You had this level of fear that, to your point, if you said no the business was going to stop.

Ashley Borden: Yeah.

James McKinney: You had to work nonstop in order to make something happen. You didn't want someone going elsewhere.

Ashley Borden: Yeah. I was working until 9 o'clock at night, starting early in the morning, working for a very minimum amount of money but I was like… I didn't know what the f*ck I was doing. Sorry to all my clients that I had back then. But they were getting results, but I did not know what I was doing. So I worked very, for 10 years doing that. Then the next big change for me was I went to a smaller gym. I was like I can't do this running around anymore. It was all day. It was exhausting. And I'm running around collecting people's money and I was terrified. I had no confidence that if I stayed at one gym that people would come to me. That's not possible.

Then I decided okay, I'm going to try it. I was at Todd Tramps, this gym, and I was like okay I'm going to stay here, I'm going to tell people this is where I am, and then people were like, "Okay, I'll come to you." I was like what? I mean what? So people started coming to see me at the gym. I was like I cannot believe this. I was like I don't know what I'm doing. But I did feel like I knew what I was doing, but I didn't. So I stumbled my way through more years of training like this.

James McKinney: So those 10 years, it sounds very much just kind of like a freelance mindset, where just how can I get work, how can I get work, how can I get work?

Ashley Borden: Yeah, and how was I getting work? I wasn't advertising.

James McKinney: Yeah, it was probably word of mouth, by being present in the gym and things like that.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, it was.

James McKinney: When did it, and maybe it was at you said the name of the gym was Todd Tramps? That was the name of the gym?

Ashley Borden: That was his name.

James McKinney: Oh. Well I figured that, but just an interesting-

Ashley Borden: Yeah, yeah. Todd was like a gay Mecca at the time, yeah.

James McKinney: So when did you start seeing yourself as a brand more than just a freelancer? Was this like a long time after the fact?

Ashley Borden: Well, let's see. Okay, I'll tell you. I was still just working, working, working. Different gyms. But by the way, through all of this, I was always a very kind person.

James McKinney: Well, I'm sure.

Ashley Borden: Well, there's not… not necessarily, but I was always aware of myself around other people. Even when I started and I didn't know what I was doing, which by the way everyone remembers, hello everyone in business, when you're starting out if you are a friggin' dick or you're an asshole, people remember. They remember. But I was at a gym and my first, when it changed for me was there was a guy who used to work at this gym that nobody was really friendly with, but not that friendly with. But I was friend with him because I was friendly with everybody, and he actually said, "I have a client that's looking for a trainer for a female in home. Would you be interested?" and I was like, "Sure," because I'm a friggin' work machine.

So I went in and I met with Irving Azoff, and I didn't know who Irving was at the time. Irving is a huge manager, and Irving at the time was Christina Aguilera's manager. So he was interviewing me for Christina. So I got the job and I started working with Christina Aguilera. That's when things really changed on a bigger level, because that's when I really realized oh, people care about what Christina's doing with her training. That's when I started thinking more in terms of like an overall business. Because at the time, I didn't understand. I knew nothing.

This is what I mean about stumbling my way through in the beginning. I was at a gym that I saw on the wall that they had articles, like for magazines. And my friend Reza, who we're still friends now, but he was one of the owners. I remember I said to him, "Reza, how do you guys have these articles with your gym name in it?" This was a million years ago. He was like, "Oh, we have a publicist." I was like, "A what? The gym has a publicist?" He was like, "Yeah." I had never heard of this before. So I was like well I'm going to get a publicist.

So Bob Harper, who was on The Biggest Loser, so Bob was a friend of mine also, and Reza who's on Shah's of Sunset.

James McKinney: By the way, I have been told, I'll have to show you a photo. I used to be his doppelganger. People would post photos of us side by side.

Ashley Borden: Oh, how funny!

James McKinney: There are some photos I'm like wow, I really do look like him.

Ashley Borden: Oh my God, that's funny.

James McKinney: Not the physique, obviously, but the face is like, yeah.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, but Bob, yeah. Bob is such a good guy. But I've known Bob for 20 years. We worked together and trained together too, and Reza who's on Shah's of Sunset who is now my client still, and an ex boyfriend of Bob's, it's just such a small world. So Bob Harper at the time, he was also a photographer, took these pictures of me. I'm wearing Lucite heels. I'm not kidding. I am in short shorts and Lucite heels taking some publicity pictures to bring to my publicist.

So he took these pictures of me. No idea what I'm doing. And I went and I met with this PR agency, Harris Shepherd and Associates. They are no longer. Oh I'm sorry, before that when I found out how much it was. I was like, "I'm sorry, how much is a publicist?" and at the time they were like, "It's $2,500." I was like, "That's ridiculous. I can't afford that." So another example of when I had a big change was I'm like how can I find this money, right? And I don't come from money.

But then I remembered that my grandmother would always give the grandkids $30,000 when they would have a kid to pay for like a year of help or something. How nice of her, right? Well I knew I was not… I knew even back then I wasn't having a child probably ever, or any time soon, so I approached her with a whole business plan. I sat down with her and I explained to her everything and I said, "Grandma, would you mind instead of paying for a nanny for a baby that I'm never going to have, would you mind giving me that money monthly to pay for my PR for this project that I want to do for six months?" and she said yes.

James McKinney: That is awesome.

Ashley Borden: So that's how, we talk about funding right? That is how I pitched my grandma, and she did. So they paid for my PR for six months with this company and I was with Christina. I didn't quite also understand Christina was huge. She still is huge, but she was very big. So I came into this, I met with these people. I have no idea what I was doing. I showed them my Lucite heel photos and then I said, "I'm training Christina and I need a publicist." Why? I had nothing to promote other than me, do you know what I mean? I understand so much more now, which is why I like to coach other coaches now, because I can help you not make all the mistakes I made.

James McKinney: And that's why I do The Startup Story is that so people can hear the journey. There's great podcasts that talk about how you built the existing business, but it's the journey there that people don't talk about, that is so helpful.

Ashley Borden: So important, yes, because the underlying bones of my business. So that's how I started with my first publicist. Then Dana, who was a very junior publicist there, she and I really liked each other and she decided to take me on. I paid her I think I scraped together $1,500. Then she was like, "I'll barter with you." She's my only barter person. She and I bartered together. I think we worked together for like 13 years.

James McKinney: Oh wow.

Ashley Borden: And Dana changed my entire life. She is the person I give the most credit to that taught me about how to be in business, and with editors and meetings, and returning emails.

James McKinney: So Dana is the one that really helped you shift from a trainer to like a brand.

Ashley Borden: To being, yes, to also being a professional with a brand. My deep, deep down… and I'm a Pisces, right, I'm a hedonist. I'm not organized. My nature is to be a hedonist. My nature is to be unorganized. My nature is to not be on top of it. I had to completely work against my nature my entire career, and decide I'm going to be organized. I'm going to fix that problem that I have. I need to.

She was the one who I remember I had an interview with an editor. I don't know. I don't know what happened. Maybe I didn't call her or I was late, I don't remember. Dana called me and she ripped me a new [inaudible 44:29] like I had never in my life. She was like, "Let me just tell you something, Ashley." She's like, "You get one chance with editors to make an impression, and I will tell you this. They remember you forever. And they move from magazine to magazine and they will always remember you, and they will never want to work with you." I was like, "I'm sorry!' She was like, "You return a call the minute you get it, and you return an email the minute you get it or we're not going to work together."

James McKinney: I love that hard love.

Ashley Borden: Changed my whole life. Everyone says even now, "You're so on it. Thank you for responding so quickly." Everyone always says that about me because I'm like terrified that I won't respond, you know what I mean? Then Dana and I stopped working together. She went into another area of business, and that was horrible for me when I lost her.

James McKinney: So when you think of Ashley Borden now, Ashley Borden Fitness in 2019, when would you say is the real… Now again, you've been training for-

Ashley Borden: 40,000 hours.

James McKinney: 40,000 hours. You're so experienced in that world, but when would you say Ashley Borden Fitness that we see today, when did that start? When do you really think that brand began?

Ashley Borden: I would say that the Ashley Borden brand hatched when I became an LLC probably, which was I want to say in 2004. I don't know.

James McKinney: So 2004 is when you started putting some structure around it.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, but again like the structure around it was Dana really helped me with my structure at first as my publicist, but she also was kind of like my business mentor in a way, yes. I had such respect for her and how she was with people, and how she handled herself, and she was very friendly but she was also very she got things done. She was a clear communicator. I think the confidence in my business continues to even now evolve as I realize oh, I can do this myself.

But oh, I'll tell you, another big change for me happened. Gosh, I was probably in my thirties and I was with Sean Hayes, and Sean was my client and my friend at the time. Sean was on Will & Grace. He's the actor Jack on Will & Grace. Sean and I had been working together for a long time, friends for a long time. He and I, we took a road trip to San Francisco. We were in the car. Sean also, I would give him credit for really being probably a big business mentor to me as well, because we were in the car and he said to me, "What are you doing with your business, Ashley?" and I was like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "Well, what are you doing? How much money do you make?" I'm like, "How much money do you make? Sean you're on a friggin' show."

Because at the time, he was like, "But what's your plan?" He's always asking me what is your plan. And his other thing he would always say to me is, "Nobody is going to do anything for you, just so you know. No one is going to do anything for you." That has been like my ongoing thing. Everything I have, I've created myself. I don't know how exactly I…

James McKinney: Well, when we breadcrumb your entire life, you can see all the moments where you own the decision, so it would make sense that what you have now you've created.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, yeah. I would say that's a big thing in my head still, even to this day. Some people might say, "Oh, you're not helpful," like Sean would never do anything for me. He would always say, "I will look at it when you do it and I'll give you my feedback." But it was actually at a really very life changing thing, because he was almost like representative of how the business is.

He would tell me this all the time. He was obviously much more accomplished on that side of entertainment industry, but I've never wanted to be on that side of the entertainment industry. I love what I do. I love supporting the people who are on that side of it. That's also why I think I thrive in this business, and why I've lasted so long, and why I'm good at it is because I don't secretly want to be you. Do you know what I mean?

James McKinney: That's powerful.

Ashley Borden: That's a big problem in this business.

James McKinney: That's a powerful mindset for anything because so many entrepreneurs go into something because they want to be this other success story. It's like that's not your race to run, and so that is a powerful mindset to have in any area.

Ashley Borden: Yes. I don't want to be you. I want to be me and I'm not interested in being you and what you're doing. I think knowing what your strengths are, what you want to do, how do you go about… and you have to ask questions. Here's another thing. I ask more questions than anyone I know, and I ask so many questions. Sometimes it's hard for me to ask for help, but I'll ask questions, do you know what I mean? I finally got over myself when I was like with my finances. Here's another thing as a business owner, right? Oh, you want to be a trainer? You want to work for yourself. Well, you better know how to do your taxes, organize your finances.

You don't realize you have to be an expert in almost every other thing, or understand how to bring in those people. When you work for yourself, you really actually aren't alone working for yourself but there's so many other things behind it that you have to build. That's what, for myself, I was like when I say prison yard, I don't know what I was doing. I was just kind of building it together as I was going.

James McKinney: The Ashley Borden Fitness that we see today, what are all the elements? Because we know that you train trainers, but up until this point, that has not been the case. So let's unpack Ashley Borden Fitness. What are all the things that you're doing? What is inside of that, Ashley Borden Fitness? We know you from your television appearances on Revenge Body. You mentioned a few celebrities that you've trained, so we know that you still train the average Joe as well. So what are all the things that you're doing in addition to those things?

Ashley Borden: Gosh. Well, I'm a published author. I wrote a book years ago with Paige who owned Paige Jeans. We did a book together called Your Perfect Fit. I have another e-book called the SOS Food Plan, which is the food plan that saved my entire life. It's a food plan. It's an 80 page amazing food plan that I wrote with Kristen Bell, who's my registered dietician that I work with. She's great. I still do one on one coaching. Business coaching with trainers for their business. I do one on one coaching with some people who they're in another state and they need coaching with their overall life, with their training.

My AB Fit App is a huge thing for me, and that is… those are programs that my partner and I, Brian Redfern… so he's my only partner I have in my business is he's a 50% partner for anything with the app. He does all the programming on the backend and he's also my coach. So we develop programs around either like Revenge Body, the programs these people did on the show that they had this incredible success. Those exact programs then we make available to everybody. I'm really big on transparency. That's why I like to work with coaches and trainers because I don't feel like I need to not tell you how I got here. I love to tell everybody the story because there's no shortage of people in the world that need help.

James McKinney: And that perspective is a perspective of abundance and not scarcity and I love that.

Ashley Borden: Yes, yes. But it's true.

James McKinney: Because I share the sentiment. There's enough for everything.

Ashley Borden: There is. It's not like we are living in a small island and there's only 100 of us on the island. There are no shortage of people in Los Angeles that need help. There's no shortage of any of that.

James McKinney: But that perspective is why you're successful. So many entrepreneurs will kind of sure up their own little island and they find themselves alone. When you find yourself alone, you become short on ideas, you become short on resources for execution. There's so many things that you will miss out on when you isolate yourself.

Ashley Borden: Operate out of fear.

James McKinney: Yeah, so abundance always.

Ashley Borden: Yeah, definitely. So I've always felt that, and I feel like I want to help other people, especially other people who are in service industry, to understand you can run a totally successful business and this is how I did it, but I want you to do it and take out the I'd say 15 years that I was here and there that I did it wrong, or I wasted this amount of money, or I…

James McKinney: The value that those who want to train under you get is incredibly rich because you're accelerating their learning. You're accelerating their success because they're not needing to go through their own bumps and bruises that you had to go through.

Ashley Borden: Right. Also it's a lot like there's a guy I work with. His name is Drake and we do on the phone, one on one coaching.

James McKinney: His name is Drake?

Ashley Borden: His name is Drake, but it is not the Drake. I wish. But I love this guy. He lives in Evanston, Illinois and he's great. He's a coach and a trainer. He was like me in my twenties. Working 12 hours a day, seven days a week. On Groupon and not making enough money. Within, I don't know, maybe four to five sessions we did, he quadrupled his income.

James McKinney: That's awesome.

Ashley Borden: Because I'm like you cannot sustain this life that you're doing. And he didn't understand how to… A perfect example of using, so my years of training. When we were talking about, he was having a problem talking to his clients about money. So I said to him, "Well, okay. There's two ways you can do it. One is we'll write out a really well written one sheet that you can email to everybody. You email that to them and that way you don't have to have the verbal conversation about it. You can email this to them," which I think is always the best way to start, with a sheet like that. If you don't feel comfortable talking about your own worth and money, then don't. I can tell you're uncomfortable. And then what I can tell is I can also, the minute I feel you're uncomfortable, I'm going to be able to negotiate you down. This is not what I personally would do, but this is the mentality of everybody. The minute I smell that you're uncomfortable around me talking about money, I'm like okay, I can dominate this whole thing and have you charge me $5.

He was a very big guy, too. Very tall, big guy and I said to him, "So where are you having these conversations with your clients?" and he said, "In an office." I said, "Oh my god, are you sitting behind a desk?" And he said, "Yes, I am sometimes." I was like well first of all, no desk when you're talking about money with anybody. Because that gives this air of like importance, and that you're beneath me that you're sitting at the desk. And I said, "The other thing is that you need to sit down and be at the same level with your client that you're talking to. You can't stand up and have your client sit down, or have you stand up and have your short client stand up and talking about money. That won't work either. You guys need to be on literally the same level." So I said, "Kneel down or sit down, and you guys have a conversation. Don't have something in-between you guys."

Those kind of things are just because I've done this for so long, and I understand how people are, do you know what I mean? That's not in a book about how to have a conversation about money. Remove the desk. But that was something he wasn't aware of and his voice. Like he had a very booming, deep voice which is intimidating to a lot of people. So I just said to him, "You know, you need to record yourself and I want you to... Just record you and your wife talking and you just need to hear your voice so you also understand how people receive you." Because that's a big thing in business a lot of people don't understand is how people receive you.

Oh, that was another life changing thing that happened for me. When I moved here, I was in my twenties and there was a school called Sam Christianson School of Acting I think it was. But I wasn't acting anymore, but I had read that this guy was amazing at helping you figure out what your seven essences were. I was like what the F is he talking about? I think he had worked with Cher or something. So I went. It's in the Valley. So I went and I signed up for this thing, this class. He was this white hair, big guy. I don't think he's alive anymore.

So one of the events we had to do, there were like five people in a group. This is obviously before 9/11. We went to the airport and let's say me, you, and three other people. Then we had a piece of paper that had like 100 adjectives on it. It just had 100 adjectives and a little line next to it, and we had pens. So we would go there and people who were waiting for a plane, I would say, "Hey, I'm in a class right now." You would stand over in the corner and I would say, "Can you just look at my friend who's standing over there? Can you just do me a favor and just look at this paper and just check off all the descriptions that you feel apply to him just by looking at him?"

So everyone was doing this. So you would collect like 50 of them for each person, and then we would go back and you would tally up all of the essences. It was like everything on there from adventurous, rude, happy, sad, uptight, sexually advanced, just so many different descriptions. Then you came back and you tallied up your seven essences of how people perceived you. Because this is what the problem was with a lot of actors, is what he was saying. Robert DeNiro does great in movies where he's urban and he's in the city, and he's a single man. People have a hard time accepting him when he is in the suburbs and he's married, and he has children.

James McKinney: Interesting.

Ashley Borden: The movies don't do as well, because his essences of how people perceive him and receive him are of this other person that's in the city, and he's rough and tough, and he's probably divorced and blah, blah, blah. So he was talking about how when you don't know what your essences are and you don't know how people perceive you or receive you when you come into a room, it's a really big problem. So it was life changing for me. I have to go back and actually look at my things, but it was when I realized wow, people actually perceive me a lot differently than I perceive myself.

There was a lot of people perceiving me as arrogant. There were some negative things that were on there, but I get that a lot because I walk upright with good posture. But it was good information for me to know. But that's a big problem that people don't understand is you have to understand how people receive you in every business of what you're walking into. That was fascinating and life changing, and that was another kind of change for me where I was like oh, I'm not just stumbling through life. Do you know what I mean? I was like oh, I hit a door and I'm not stumbling.

James McKinney: So what do you see, because again a lot of your early days were just kind of I want to picture this raft down a river, where you're just kind of bumping side to side. But in 2004 with the LLC and Dana helping you, things started to be having some structure and the people that have poured into your life to help you think larger for your brand. Now, we're in 2019. Where do you see this going? Because now you're not just bumping in a raft side to side. There's a drive and a focus. Where do you see Ashley Borden Fitness in five or 10 years? If we do this podcast in a where are they now episode.

Ashley Borden: I love it. Let's do it. So I'm focusing a lot more on my digital content. The ability to help a lot more people on a digital platform, either through TV, the phone, computer, with my programming, I love that. I do want to do more television or a vehicle where I'm able to communicate with more people. We're actually working on a podcast, my girlfriend and I, right now.

James McKinney: Awesome.

Ashley Borden: I'll have you on, James.

James McKinney: Awesome.

Ashley Borden: And you know I still love training people, but I feel like I need to train people on a bigger level. And I know this sounds, well I don't care if it sounds arrogant or not, but it's like I have such a skill with people and their bodies that I want to be able to do it on a much larger platform to be able to just help more people all at once.

James McKinney: Love it, love it.

Ashley Borden: Because that was my biggest thing with my own recovery is that you do not have to be a victim to your body. There are solutions and you don't have to feel like a psycho about your food and about training. You can live like a normal, lean lifestyle without being a maniac. There's a lot of fitness people on Instagram and all that who have a different way of being, which is fine. Like I said, they're not my peeps, right. My direction in that way is where I feel like the most passionate. But I love all aspects. I develop… I don't know, I'll probably find something else I like and I'll develop it.

James McKinney: I can't wait to see the lives you're going to impact as this journey continues. But as our time comes to an end, I feel like we could sit here and chat for so much longer. This has been amazing. As our time comes to an end, there's two questions I ask every founder and the first one is about gratitude. The reason I ask this question is I truly believe that if we forget all the people that poured into our journey to get us to where we are today, we'll think we did it on our own and that will isolate us. Ultimately, that will lead to our failure as we're isolated. So as you look back on your life journey to get to where you are today, who are the people that you point to with such immense gratitude?

Ashley Borden: Oh, gosh. Okay. My treatment center therapist that I went, when I was in treatment, that told me nobody was jealous of me, I needed to get over myself. That was probably her. Carl List, who was my fitness mentor for many years. Changed my entire life with the way I trained and how I work. Dana Sarbeck who I think works for OPI now as PR. She's incredible and changed my life with my business. Tom Thayer. So Tom Thayer played for the Chicago Bears and he is still a color commentator for the Bears, but Tom was an old boyfriend of mine but a friend, and has been a friend for many years. But I would say because he was a huge mentor to me with his discipline and his work ethic as well to this day. And Sean Hayes. Sean. There's probably more coming up, but I'd say those people really helped shape a big part of my career.

James McKinney: I love that. That's one of my favorite questions.

Ashley Borden: That's great. I like that.

James McKinney: And the last question as our time comes to an end. We've been talking to tens of thousands of listeners and kind of unpacking your journey. But right now, I want to bring the conversation down to just one persona. And that person may be the frustrated entrepreneur who is working 80 hours a week, driving between… doesn't have to be a trainer, any business owner. They are grinding and grinding, and they're frustrated and discouraged. Or maybe it's the want-repreneur who has a 9 to 5 job and a book full of dreams and ideas, but is hesitant to move on anything because whether it be a mortgage or kids, or maybe they're 60 and they think they're too old for entrepreneurship. Or maybe it's the defeated entrepreneur, the one who's been punched in the gut time and time again, and just think they can't do anything so they're going to hang their hat up. I want you to speak to just one of those personas, directly to them. What do you say to them for their journey?

Ashley Borden: I'd say that you're not alone feeling like that. That those feelings are totally normal. Every other day, I'm about to move to the woods and live in an RV, just so you know, and that has been going on for many years. So that is completely normal. I think that when you think you're alone, that it feels more defeating, and you're not alone. Ask for help. Create a team. Find a way that you can barter what you have. If you don't have the money, find a way that you can barter your services with somebody else's services that you need of theirs. Work as a team together. Try to help each other. You can do it.

And if you are around people that are negative and tell you that you can't do it, then don't be around those people. Do not be around those people. You need to have a plan. Even if people feel like your plan is not viable. You still need to continue to try and make your plan viable, because for the rest of your life, you will regret it and you will turn around and you'll say what did I not do? I would say absolutely go for it, because life is very short and we only get one shot.

James McKinney: After 49 episodes of The Startup Story, I hope you're starting to piece together some of the patterns we have seen within our successful founders. Within Ashley's story, we see the truth of resilience and agility. From Chicago to LA, she grinded through the gauntlet of the entertainment industry to discover her place within the fitness industry. Yet even once she discovered her gifting within fitness, she remained agile and continued to adapt her business based upon what she learned.

Ashley did not enter her industry as an expert. She became an expert when she entered the industry. As she learned both the technical side of her craft, she also mastered the business side. Her consistent pursuit to improve herself and her brand is what has led her to be the expert that she is. Within Ashley's story, you heard about the book StrengthFinders 2.0. this book had an incredible impact on Ashley as well as myself. For much of our lives and by our, I am including you the listener, we have been taught to continually work on our areas of weakness. The book StrengthFinders 2.0 flips the script and helps you to discover your strengths so that you can find others that complement your weaknesses. The reason this concept is so effective is that it allows us to focus on what we're great at, and to surround ourselves with those that happen to be great at what we are weak at. It also gives you the understanding of why you do the things you do. I hope you'll check it out. We'll include a link to this book in our show notes. It is incredibly powerful and it is December again, so might make for a great Christmas gift.

Well anyway, I hope you found real value in Ashley's Startup Story episode and if you've been around The Startup Story for any length of time, then you know how much emphasis I put on the idea that entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs. In fact, if you are looking for a great gift idea for entrepreneurs, Ashley has a special offer just for you.

Ashley Borden: As we're getting closer to the holidays, I have a fantastic gift idea for any entrepreneur because all we do is sit a lot, and there's so much on our brain. You need someone that's going to help you with your fitness and your food, and your recovery. So the AB Fit App, all of my programs are available on ashleyborden.com. Whether it's fat loss, whether you want to put on muscle, whether you want to work on your conditioning, I have over 400 videos that are on there. You get the program. It tells you exactly what you're doing that day. You can download it onto your phone, look at it on that computer. It has your food plan as well. It has your rolling out guide. You will never feel lost in the gym and that way you can show up, do the work, and then get right back to what you're doing with your own business.

James McKinney: Entrepreneurs support other entrepreneurs, so visit ashleyborden.com for a great gift idea for the entrepreneur in your life. And now for my personal ask. The Startup Story community has been so incredible about sharing our podcast with others, but we have more stories to tell and more people to reach. We too are a startup and word of mouth is everything, so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @TheStartupStory or on Twitter @StartupStory_. If you're on LinkedIn, please search for The Startup Story and follow our company page. LinkedIn is a really powerful way to raise awareness of the show. But the most impactful way you can help us grow our audience is to leave a review on Apple Podcast. Or if you listen to the show via Spotify, then please simply share the podcast directly from your Spotify app or wherever you listen to the show.

These simple actions can make a huge impact in getting these amazing founder stories out to the masses. And please make sure to tag or mention The Startup Story when you do share so that we can connect with you and say thank you directly. I'm so incredibly appreciative of the fact that you listen to the show each and every week, and I look forward to sharing these amazing stories with you every Tuesday with hopes of encouraging and inspiring you to start your story.

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer Danny Ozment. He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and make a real impact in this world. You can contact him today at emeraldcitypro.com/startupstory.

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December 03 2019
Ashley Borden, founder of Ashley Borden Fitness

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