TRX Inventor Randy Hetrick’s 7 Rules for Success in Business and Life

The former Navy SEAL and successful CEO on entrepreneurial epiphanies, prioritizing family, and rejecting failure.

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Talk about bootstrapping your way to success: While on deployment in Southeast Asia in 1997, Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick used a spare jiu-jitsu belt and some parachute webbing to create a versatile training apparatus. That simple gizmo would become the TRX System, or Total Resistance Exercise System, a suspension training device that is now used in fitness centers and home gyms all over the world. Now CEO of TRX Training, Hetrick shares his advice on how to turn your own moments of inspiration into lasting personal and professional success.

1. Address Needs, Don’t Create Problems

“One of my core beliefs is that the best entrepreneurial ventures usually come on the backside of some epiphany. In other words, it’s hard to say, ‘I want to start a company… hmm, what should it be?’ A surprising number of would-be entrepreneurs do that, they come up with a solution for which there is no problem. Instead, you should try to say, ‘Wow, there really is this need, aka a problem, and I’ve got an idea that satisfies that need, aka a solution.’ When you realize you have created a solution to a real problem, then the business behind that becomes little more than a formality.”

2. Don’t Quit Your Day Job

“You have to understand your own time and priorities. Part of that is dependent on your own risk profile. There is no sense in wasting a lot of time or energy or brain damage if you know you are not going to be in a position to pursue your idea to the fullest extent. And at this point, I would not quit your day job.”

3. Be Truthful, Ask for Honesty

“I would spend a significant amount of time really thinking through your concept and then talking with friends who have expertise in that area, telling them up front, ‘I do not want you to humor me here. I actually want the opposite. I want you to tell me every problem you can envision with this idea I have.’ Otherwise, you get a whole lot of confirmation bias. Then, if you get to a point where your idea is really good, then people will introduce you to people who have money and are angel investors. And then sources of capital start reaching out to you.”

Part of choosing what you want to do is, by definition, choosing what you don’t want to do.

4. Figure Out What Really Matters

“The way I view my personal goal achievement is you can only be good at so many things, so figuring out what really matters to you, what you really enjoy, to me is a big part of the equation. I think being good at things is really important. You get a lot of karmic value out of being good at some things relative to others.

Let’s say there are three or four things in life that you can be really good at now. If you are a dad, that is one of the things you want to be really good at. Another one is likely your work. That means you have one or two other things you can commit to doing on your own and be really good at. So if you are serious about some other personal goal, whether it is being really healthy or getting in great shape or being the best-read cat around, you have to devote a significant amount of time to it. And I think that also involves certain trade-offs. Part of choosing what you want to do is, by definition, choosing what you don’t want to do. You have to be okay forgoing the things that aren’t driving you to your goal, and not spending any time or energy on them.”

5. Evolve or Die

In a business, you have to keep evolving, or you die. If you are not moving forward, someone is passing you. That alone is enough to keep you looking for the next opportunity. One of the things that should always keep driving individuals is satisfaction and enjoyment. If you enjoyed what you did, then doing more of it makes sense. If you are setting all new goals, I would ask yourself: What are the main three or four things you want to derive satisfaction from? You have to set your expectations accordingly. Because if you don’t do that, you won’t achieve mastery in any of the things that you care about.”

6. Embrace Optimism

“If you have an idea that you really believe in, that gives you the optimism to not give up. Because the process of developing it is going to be hard. you should constantly ask yourself, ‘Am I enjoying this tinkering, am I enjoying the gestational period of my idea?’ If the answer is yes, that’s enough. So why quit? Now, if you get to a point where you are constantly thinking of other things you could be doing, maybe you should be doing those things instead.”

You can’t ever be defeated if you don’t surrender. I look at every shortcoming as an opportunity to do better the next time.

7. There Is No Such Thing as Failure

“One of the pieces of advice that I really believe in is that a lot of people don’t pursue the thing they are interested in because they are afraid to fail. I am a big believer in the idea that there really is no such thing as failure. The only time when failure really exists is when an individual says to himself or herself, ‘I failed. I am done.’ You can’t ever be defeated if you don’t surrender. I look at every shortcoming as an opportunity to do better the next time. I am not afraid of daring greatly and trying some hard things. What’s the worst thing that happens? I learn something.”