Colby Harris: Welcome back to the “Grit.org” Podcast. My name is Colby Harris. Alongside me as always is Brian Harbin and we are here with today's guest Kevin Butler and Jack Foster. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us today.
Jack Foster: It's a pleasure. It's a pleasure.
Kevin Butler: Yeah, super excited to be here today. It's been a lovely summer with you fellas and I'm excited to get going.
Colby Harris: Yeah, that it has. I can't wait to share this story. So, Jack and Kevin here have been our two Grit University interns for the duration of summer 2022. Over the past 10 weeks, they've tested their limits physically and emotionally while also getting hands-on business experience running Grit Camp our summer sports camp. During the 10-week program, they follow a rigorous schedule starting with the 6 AM, workout each day, followed by running camp, building the business in the evenings and following a reading, meditating and journaling schedule before bed. So, to kick us off, both Kevin and Jack come from athletic backgrounds and have always love sports growing up. So, to kick us off can you both share where your passion for sports started and maybe a quick story to showcase why you love sports so much.
Kevin Butler: Yeah, sure I'd love to, I want to start by thanking our host for having both of us on the podcast. Like I said a little bit earlier, it's a pleasure to be here. But sports have really shaped me into the person that that I am today. It's startling to think about that something like that can translate into the type of man you become. But in truth, my love of sports started at a really young age. I played in some really competitive soccer and basketball leagues and it taught me a lot about failure and how to handle coming up short of a goal. Learning that a poor performance in sports of any sort doesn't really affect you as a human being. That lesson took me a while to get a grasp of had a lot of emotional outbursts. I tied a lot of self-worth into youth sports which wasn't super healthy. But, anyway years and years of practice in playing in high stakes events like that, even a couple years of football in there.
Kevin Butler: Yeah.
Jack Foster: I learned how to, yeah you know, come on. I can step out there, you saw me at camp. I learned how to compose myself in in stressful situations and put the needs of the team above my own. I really think that that's helped serve me at Great University this year, because we are a team, the four of us all year we've been a team, all summer I should say. Those skills that I learned from you the sports really helped. So yeah.
Kevin Butler: So, getting into my upbringing started out playing T ball as most kids do or T ball or soccer depends. But first grade, I had a very close friend of mine Jared Fire Sheets also from Mandarin. So, he was really into football and we'd hang out a lot. He was my best friend growing up and then I got, I was like, I want to play football. And I really fell in love with it. Playing as like a tiny might kindergarten first grader all the way until where I got now into playing in college. That was definitely my first love. And then later in the years as you get older started getting into basketball. But short story I want to share about why sports means so much to me. Has to be my Senior year. I had a great high school football career playing for Pontevedra. Only lost about 8 or 9 games total throughout my high school career.
But senior year like for every athlete is definitely like that most special year. I just remember one moment where it really like full scale hit me was sitting there on the field after our last game, was a playoff game versus Columbia High School. Pouring rain, can't really throw the ball that well, ground and pound. We got to do new schemes that we'd never done before like I did tackle over. So, I was on the left side with the other tackle and we would run like gap scheme, like power counter that sort of stuff. It just really hit me like we're sitting on that field after that tough loss balling our eyes out, because we knew it was over and just like there's a moment that we captured. The photographer took a picture of like all the seniors just sitting on center field like right on the shark logo. Just like sitting around like a campfire and it's a beautiful shot. The rain's like pouring down. You see the rain we're all just like sitting there.
All we did, just sit there and talk. Just talk like brothers. So, the biggest thing from sports for me is the camaraderie that you build and the relationships that you build. I'll talk more about relationships and what not as we get deeper into the podcast. But that is the best part of sports is the bonds you form.
Colby Harris: I think it's really cool at that age too because and your early years it is so much about personal development. And outside of sports just being in school and your extracurricular activities it is just about yourself. So, to be on a team to those years and be a part of something that's not only bigger than yourself, but in competition with those guys by your side for something that is for the collective betterment of the team. It's just so amazing. Jack coming over to you, you're currently enrolled at Floor State University. You graduated from Pontevedra High School just a few minutes south of Jacksonville. But I know you've not always been in Florida and actually spent most of your time growing up in Massachusetts. So, can you show us a little bit about your transition of Florida and the things you learned during that time relocating about midway through high school?
Jack Foster: Yeah, sure. So, I moved at 16, which is always going to be a difficult age. I feel like no matter who you are, it's a tough time to uproot your life. But to sort of pile on to that Massachusetts was really the only home I'd ever known and moving to Florida from a town with 20,000 people in it. It was quite a culture shock. I'd spent like Colby said basically my entire adolescent life there. But the most important thing I took away from those first couple years where I wasn't super in my surroundings just yet is that, tumultuous time can bring about a change in worldview. I think that I have never evolved more in a single year of time than my first year in a new place, and it was sort of very similar to how we did it at Great University.
I'm sure Kevin and I will get into a trial by fire method that we had here. But that's sort of what it was for me is when I was thrown into this new setting with a bunch of new faces, new people, new agendas, new everything. I had to learn to be my most natural self in a new environment and I was really gun shy when we first got started. I spent the first-year sort of regretting the move and like being upset that all my friends were behind and using my phone to stay connected with people in Massachusetts rather than move on to people who were in my surroundings now I was sort of trying to grasp onto those relationships that had held so much value in my life for years. But once I was able to sort of move past that, I found out that it's definitely a possibility to hold on to new relationships, make new friends and keep the old. And that was something that I was really focus after that first year.
But once I sort of shed that shell of nerves and just fish out of water feeling a little uncomfortable all that sort of stuff. I enjoyed life in Pontevedra a lot more, I met a lot of new friends including one sitting across the table right here. We met senior year had a had a blast ever since and I don't know, there was a lot of fear. And looking back on it now, I think there's the number one thing I regret is taking too long to step outside of myself and learn more about the area that I was in. I know Great University; I didn't really have that problem because I'd already learned. I feel like I immersed myself into what your guys' culture was pretty instantaneously. That's a lesson that I'm going to carry with me for the rest of my life.
Brian Harbin: And then, Kevin, yeah, you on the other hand, you've always grown up in the Greater Jacksonville area. You mentioned Mandarin earlier and then moved to Pontevedra from middle school and high school. So, what were some of the positive negatives or what was it like kind of laying your roots here in Jacksonville?
Kevin Butler: Yeah. So, in all honesty Jack and I are complete opposites of that upbringing, being up upscale rooted across the country. But we have similar flaws. I had a hard time making connections growing up. Like I had friends. I was friendly. I had school friends. I had football friends, but it was very hard for me to have that like tight knit social circle. Because to me that was like what family was. But it wasn't really until I met Jack's senior year that I really started to like form that social circle. I'd say the biggest positive of being in one area for so long is being so comfortable in my environment. I was never scared to like try new things, whether that be playing/doing track, I'd never touch the shot putter or anything. But junior year I was like why not do track. One of my friends me into it and it was a great decision. I love track. Shout out coach Kyle. Just like being able to try new things was definitely the biggest plus of having my roots here.
Brian Harbin: And you're a shot-put record holder by the time you graduated, which is fantastic.
Kevin Butler: Well, I don't even get into that it's already been broken. It's already been broken. The guys this year, they broke the record.
Jack Foster: I was going to say you had it to this day good thing I didn't say that was freshly broken and stuff.
Colby Harris: Yeah, it's you got your glory there for a minute. But I do love both perspectives of having a safety net of somewhere you're comfortable and then having a lack of a safety net and the things that you learn of being able to step out whether it's because you feel like you have to or you feel like you want to.
Jack Foster: Right.
Colby Harris: So, I've being someone that moved in sixth grade, another very ripe age, I can definitely understand Jack's perspective but now that I've spent the last better 8 years in Fernandina, I feel like the world is in the palm of my hands up there. So, I can definitely understand that and moving into the high school years for you both as mentioned, you both graduated from Pontevedra High School and played sports there, became friends there as well. What are some of the lessons or values that your coaches instilled in you or frankly failed to instill in you during that time that you played and how did those really help shape who you are today?
Jack Foster: Yeah, I mean I'm sure we'll get into Kevin's high school glory. He had a lot of fun over there at the PV football program. But I on the other hand, I was always a basketball player. Actually, I was sort of off the mark from the get go, because in Florida my two main sports which was soccer and basketball all the way up until I moved or actually played during the same season. So, I sort of had to make a choice going into my sophomore year whether I wanted to pursue soccer or basketball. My dad always joked around with me saying that I was a much better soccer player than I was a basketball player. But I always had a fire and a passion for basketball. So, for me, it was a no-brainer choice. I chose basketball almost instantly. Unfortunately, by the time my senior year rolled around, the program didn't select me to come back for varsity and that was probably the most pain I felt in a long time that I can remember. I was very broken up about it I, because I really valued my ability to play basketball. I really thought that I could contribute to a winning season for Pontevedra which they didn't end up having that year.
So, I was really upset about that, but the coaching staff over there really did teach me something inadvertently by making that decision. That lesson was definitely that you need to have confidence in your own abilities regardless of outside perspective. So, these coaches may not have thought that I was ready to play or that I could have helped as much as the next guy or whatever it is. But that upset feeling that I felt after not being placed on that team brought me to the conclusion that okay, I know that I'm good at what I do. I know that I've been doing this since I was old enough to hold a basketball and reach the 10-foot hoop and all that stuff. I know that I'm good at this and just because other people don't see it or choose not to see it whatever it is, it doesn't mean that I'm worth any less or I'm a worse person or any sort of that stuff. Some of those negative thoughts that come creeping into your head when failures about.
So, I still love basketball. it didn't change my passion for the sport in any way I was upset about it as I said but I really feel that I'm a lot more confident in my abilities not just on the court but elsewhere, because the opinions of others only matter to a certain degree. The opinion that matters most of all is your own of yourself. And that's something that every one of us has to come to know. I was fortunate early on in life just about my senior year of high school to find that out for myself.
Kevin Butler: You want to talk about that AAU stand after that.
Jack Foster: Well, that's just actually some of the most fun, I've ever had on a basketball court. But that's not really appropriate for this podcast, I would say. We have a lot of stories we could tell about that for sure, but I'll let Kevin get into to the football glory days.
Kevin Butler: So, the lessons that my coaches instilled to me, it really comes full circle because a lot of it ties into the Grit Creed. We had Adam Silva come speak and he was definitely a big factor in those formative years, like pre-game meal. Adam Silva's coming to speak to us and he always preached the three steps to being a man built for others. The kid the kids at camp got to hear that. Relationships, building relationships, being able to give love and receive love. Transcendent cause, cause greater than self just like our Grit Creed and then having a code of conduct, discipline, hard work. I think what's nice about those lessons that were instilled is I really got ahead of the curve. Not a lot of high school athletes get that mental performance and that foundation for a future. It really helped me along into my college years and we would also do some reading during the summer, during like summer camp for football. One of the ones we read was how to make your bed in the morning like in the little things.
Awesome, awesome experience being able to do that with people around me. Like I said, once like I said earlier in the podcast, like, it's about relationships. So, going through and being with those guys every day at football and learning the same things and kind of having that entourage of we have the same mentality, we have the same purpose. It translates to what we did here this summer and I think that's awesome like translating things from the sports world to now to the business world.
Jack Foster: And I was going to say that being great university interns is we're sort of like the entourage who has a similar goal. Right. It's same thing. It's really cool. Must have one hand in glove with what we did this summer.
Colby Harris: It's definitely cool to experience Adam Silva first hand. I'm sure Brian you could agree. We can only imagine what that would have been like to have him in our corner five six days a week in high school playing sports. Adam Silva, anyone who's watching or listening give him a Google. Listen to a few of his speeches, but I was fully blown away and the things developed into you and other people are truly incredible and you're completely right if he put you way above the curve of what was to come in the future.
Kevin Butler: Oh yeah.
Brian Harbin: For sure and so upon graduation, I know Jack obviously you decided to go to Florida State where now you're pursuing and you're going to be able to get your business degree undergraduate and your master's degree, your MBA in four years. And then Kevin decided to continue his football career and play division one football at Stetson University and played offensive line last couple of years. So, tell us a little bit more about that decision to continue to play football through college.
Kevin Butler: So, I continued to play because that was my cause greater than self. That was my purpose. Being dedicated to a team, working out every day, practicing, learning the offense. Everything that you contribute to the success of a team was because of the foundation I laid through sports in my formative years in high school. I really thought being a division one athlete was the best way to set myself up for success and like I said, it comes back to relationships. The first step in those and being a man built for others. Building those relationships with my college teammates and now I have even though I've decided to kind of walk away and we'll get into that more. Having that network and those relationships was super important to me and yeah, that's what sports are about is relationships.
Colby Harris: I think it was really healthy for you to see that for yourself to reach that dream. I think every kid that plays sports envisions themselves playing division one day whether that happens or not and few people actually get to see that come into fruition. I think that's something you'll carry with you for the rest of your life. But coming into more present day, obviously, you both have been great university interns for summer 2022. Diving right into that. Why don't we start with both of you just sharing a bit about how you found out about us and really why you want to pursue the opportunity of being a Grit University intern.
Kevin Butler: So, funny and Colby and I have known each other since around what? 6th grade?
Colby Harris: 6th grade.
Kevin Butler: 6th grade and I saw what he had been doing for the last two summers. We lost touch for a while. I saw what he'd been doing on social media and I reached out to him in what like August of last year.
Colby Harris: 2021, that's right.
Kevin Butler: And I was like hey this is something I'd be interested in doing like tell me more. Tell me more. And then funny enough you guys start your recruiting in February and March to get interns. And I was like, oh this is an opportunity that I want to partake in. And then we started the interview process. I was falling in love with what you guys were doing, and then I got, I was like, yo Jack, like this is something you need to do too. So, roped him into it and I wanted to do something like this because this was about becoming a better me like the best version of myself. There's no other opportunity to do it physically, no better opportunity to do it physically mentally, and emotionally than here at Grit University.
Jack Foster: It's really funny that he mentioned roping me in, because during that that interview process time I was actually deciding what route I wanted to take in terms of an internship. I'd had a lot of places where I'd sent an application in and a couple more where I was thinking about sending in one in and I'd narrowed my options down to like a final two or three. Traditional run in the mill internships when I get a call and a very impassioned call, a very very call from Kevin Butler over here. At this time, when I first heard him talk my ear off about it, I had no idea what Grit stood for. I didn't know was it an acronym. I didn't know what we were doing. I knew nothing about it, but Kevin suggested that I really took the time to read into everything all the information that's online. Everything about Grit and the mission statement and all that sort of stuff. And my trust in Kevin coupled with the passion that he definitely had for what you guys were doing caused me to sort of put all my other internships on the back burner and give this Grit my full time of day. And man, I really could not be more fortunate than to have done that. because all the stuff that you guys have in terms of like Kevin said the mental, physical, and emotional sort of growth is something that every single internship that I had on my desk did not offer.
Obviously, the business experience is something that is integral to college and me trying to get my degree and everything. But Grit University to that and stacked multiple chips on top of it in order to make this probably one of the most enriching summers I've had. So, Kevin told me all about the physical commitment. The morning lifts, the journaling, all the mental stuff and I probably had a day or two's worth of hesitation before I was like look mom and dad like this is what I'm doing. Like I'm staying in Florida this summer, because we'll get into a little bit more later but my parents moved this summer. So, I was here in Florida full-time Grit University intern while my parents moved across the country without me. So, that's another wrinkle that sort of speaks to my passion for Grit University and all that they have going on. Because I was able to sort of delay my move to another part of the country with my family to sort of give my full effort to these guys and everything that they have going on.
So, I knew that with everything that I had read and talked about in the interviews with Brian and Colby here. I knew that everything that we're going to do is going to be far from easy. I knew that it would take a lot of work, but I saw that all the rewards and potential good things that could come of this. I remember thinking to myself, all these positive outcomes and I still get college credit, like it just sort of became an afterthought at that point because of all the things that have been laid in front of me in terms of, if you put in this amount of effort for 10 weeks, this is what you're going to get on the other side. Now that we're on that other side, I can safely say that I've basically achieved every single one of those rewards. So, couple that with great goal of Grit Camp and Grit University and making every person better for having come through our summer camp that we ran. I was all in. I pushed in all my chips. So, I'm really glad that I found it in the way that I did and I'm really glad to have spent this amount of time with you guys. Because Grit University it was a blessing for the stuff that I needed to get done this summer.
Brian Harbin: Well, we definitely Colby and I interviewed a lot of people to find you guys I mean it was definitely a few dozen people. So, but we knew you were our top two and that's who we wanted to run with. Obviously, Grit University is only so big. So, we had room for two and you guys were the two we chose. But you guys started that week one was the end of May. So, tell us about kind of initial reactions, drink it from a fire hose that first week. Tell us a little about your initial reactions.
Jack Foster: Yeah, so it's funny. I didn't know that there were a large amount of other candidates in consideration. That was something I just learned right now, but I appreciate were the top prospects. That means a lot to both of us I could say. We're both very proud to have that under our belt. But I don't know, I mean my first reactions none of them are really negative. That's something that I'm going to get into when we talk about if we get to what future Grid Interns should do when they first arrive. I sort of suppressed all sort of thoughts of negativity and I just really thought that if I give my full effort here and now what I experience down the road will be all the more better. Sacrifice now leads to benefit in the future, that sort of thing.
So, really my real only apprehension when we first got to HQ was HQ itself because I've never had more than one roommate in my life. I've never had to live with more than one person. So, I was like, three guys, one guy don't really know all that well. We're all sharing this house. It's like, how's this going to work but it worked really well swimmingly. I had zero complaints. No landlord complaints, nothing. Everything was great. It was smooth living for sure. And then honestly, I want to talk about fear a little bit more because I did have a little bit of fear when we first started. A lot of that sort of originated in the workout room. I haven't really been on an intense workout schedule in terms of lifting weights since maybe late high school years. But these two interns who are a part of that workout regimen with me really helped me see that it's not about how strong I am now, it's about how strong I'm going to be at the end of all this when I put the work in and all that sort of stuff.
So, besides the little bit of fear of the workout rooms slight fear not nothing too bad, but and then HQ being what it was. I really had no apprehensions during the first week. I'm sure Kevin will talk about the trial by fire of the sales sort of and business aspect of this, but I loved it. The first week again there's a little bit of fear there, but again having the guys beside me made it a lot more easy to conquer. So, the first week was really smooth and that really led to the next seven or eight weeks being really smooth as well.
Kevin Butler: Yeah, so I mean we're on complete opposite sides of the spectrum on this one. I was extremely nervous. But you guys threw us into the fire. I mean day two we're doing door to door sales pitches and God, let me tell you. Colby I never felt so useless in my life. I mean we were just Standing there like your bodyguards even the art studio that ended up doing a corporate sponsorship was like you made a joke about it. Like, what are these two doing here? They just like what are they doing?
Jack Foster: We were secured.
Kevin Butler: But yeah, we were secured. But I mean you did a great job showing us the reigns and kind of like how it's done. I was so overwhelmed, but at the same time I was extremely determined to learn and to grow. I don't know if it's the competitive nature that sports is instilled into me, but things like that like really set us up for an amazing summer.
Colby Harris: Yeah, definitely agree and I'll never forget really going out that first day either because I've been doing the corporate sponsorship sales for a whole summer now, a whole summer in 2021. I was doing it all alone and it was my first go at it and I've only closed a number that first day when we locked up that first sponsorship in San Marco Square. It got me excited because not only did we score the sponsor, but it gave you guys an opportunity to see it and that it works and that what we were teaching you guys wasn't cut and dry sales. It was we're building relationships. We're promoting what we're doing and if people enjoyed enough to want to get involved, then amazing. That's really what we got that day is they loved everything we were doing and they wanted to help further our mission.
Another thing I think that's so important is just as you guys are saying is we're throwing you into a lot of people talk about investing employees. I think what Brian's been so good about that he's taught me mainly is it's more about enriching. I think if I would have just tried to teach you guys this stuff rather than go out and have you right next to me doing it. It's a lot more of wrenching experience.
Jack Foster: For sure.
Colby Harris: I'm glad you guys enjoyed that because that was definitely one of the highlights of my summer was locking in that first sale with both of you guys by my side. So, we really wanted to hit the ground running just like we're talking about the sponsorship sales. That was a really big task our first few weeks because as those of you who are listening that may not know we actually sell corporate sponsors to help send underprivileged kids to Jacksonville into our summer camp. Jack, I know you were really excited for the sales experience. So, from your perspective what have been some of the key challenges and takeaways from your first time working in more of a sales environment?
Jack Foster: Yeah, I would say I kind of alluded to it earlier on, but I would say that the cop out is fear. But I think that any negativity that comes from sales experience like the type that we had, it really comes from like an inability to try. If you give full effort towards any sort of sales-oriented mission. If you're diligent in how you prepare if you know and love what it is you're procuring all that sort of stuff. It makes the whole sales process a lot simpler. And the only failure that comes with that is a failure to give that full effort. I that I didn't really see that when we first got started especially doing the door-to-door sales that Colby mentioned earlier. But I think that when you have the passion that Colby had and that by sort of extension Kevin and I came to have as we got later into the summer. The camp and the corporate sponsorships by extension again, they sell themselves. Because we believe in what we're doing we've seen the benefits that these sponsorships have to the people who receive them and all that sort of stuff.
So, it really taught me that that pride and passion in the product that you provide, wow, that was alliteration how about that, there's no substitute for it you need it to in order to be your most effective. Another quick takeaway that I really want to add on since we're talking about this sort of subject is there's no substitute for getting over fear. Fear is always going to be there in some former fashion, but you really have to overcome it. I think Kevin and I can both agree that we were we were pretty startled during that first day the door-to-door thing. Which is, it was honestly good that we were silent as much as we might have wanted this to chirp up and help out a little bit. It was probably that we sort of were more observant rather than helping to participate, because I think we both had a great deal of fear back then.
But overcoming that fear is one of the best feelings you're ever going to feel because when Kevin and I, I'm sure I can say that when we both made our first sponsorship sales on our own, we felt over the moon because we came to the conclusion ourselves. We determined that not only should we not be afraid of this but we can do it ourselves. It was a great feeling.
Colby Harris: So yeah, definitely was considering the hoots and haulers I heard throughout Grit headquarters when we first had those sales. I remember the first week I just hear you guys like simultaneously in opposite rooms start screaming and getting time like I know what that means. We're locked in.
Kevin Butler: We got one.
Colby Harris: I think it's really cool to talk about the point of passion because it that first week of training was our week before our first week at camp.
Kevin Butler: Yeah.
Colby Harris: And the number one thing that I told you guys because from where you started you guys are already doing so good to have never spent a day at Grit Camp. Me and Brian both just kept harping to you guys that look, it might feel weird now but once you do first week at Grit Camp. You guys are going to grasp this thing like never before and you're going to fully understand you're going to be able to sell it with your eyes closed because you're going to love it so much. I think that's really how we hit it so well that first week in June was after you guys experienced camp at that point. It was full on. Grit University for the summer grit camp and you guys were pretty locked in from there.
So, Kevin, on the topic of sales, we had one really big meeting this summer as we sat down with the CEO of a large distributing company here in Jacksonville. So, the week leading into the meeting doing run throughs we're trying to really orchestrate how we want to come into the pitch very professional also getting our point across and letting them know what sets Grit Camp apart. So, from there we're about 24 hours out from the big meeting and then we had a slight curve ball. So, Kevin can you tell us a little bit more about that meeting and how you and Jack really rose the occasion to make one of the biggest sales this summer?
Jack Foster: Yeah, so I mean Brian sets us up a meeting with the big company and we're all practicing throughout the week and we just get off a day at camp. I believe it was a Wednesday. We just get off probably the hardest day at camp. You got CrossFit that morning, the whole shebang and then Brian sends us a text he's like we have a pitch with Coastal One in an hour. He's not going to be able to make it tomorrow, so we're just going to do it now. And then we're running around like looking at each other big googly eyes, like chicken, the whole deal chicken with your head cut off. And we're just like, oh my gosh, what's going on. Then so we're getting ready practice our lines a few more times and then we head over and you can just like feel the nerves from Jack and I. You stay cool calm and collected, but we get there and it was like butter like we killed it. It felt so good to be like in that uncomfortable situation and rise to the occasion. That's what sports are about too and it's fascinating how it all just comes full circle again with tying summer sports camp to the business world and how it's a cycle and they all connect. And oh my gosh, it was such a thrill to do that meeting.
Colby Harris: A good team win. I think we needed that too as the three interns together. Well, coming back to the house and being able to all high five and get excited and just know that we nailed it. I think that really jailed us for the summer of like hey man we make a good team here.
Jack Foster: I experienced one of the largest adrenaline rushes of my life after that. I'm being honest here. I was ready to bounce off the walls. I went to do CrossFit all over again after that one.
Kevin Butler: It was back to the car man.
Brian Harbin: Yeah, I was going to say walking back to the car you guys for like little kids. It was fantastic.
Jack Foster: And Santa has come early or something. It's great.
Brian Harbin: And one of the things with the Grit University experience that we try and create is I'm trying to pack 25 years of life and business and entrepreneur experience into 10 weeks for guys to really put you very far ahead of other people your age. And a big part of that is pushing you to your limits. Mentally, physically, emotionally, getting up early which 5:50 for a college student is totally off your usual routine. Taking cold showers, working out, physically you're exhausted. Mentally and emotionally dealing with kids which you're not used to reading to totally out of your comfort zone. Get a little bit of recovery on the weekend, which is helpful. But the idea is to push you to your limits to see how you're going to respond when things matter most. So, but there comes a point where a lot of times you reach a tipping point and we told you guys beginning of summer, at some point it could happen first day, first week, third week, at some point you're going to hit a wall.
We try and create a crutch for you to fall back on with the Grit Creed like look these are the 12 principles that when things get hard this is what you can rely on. But for both your experiences. Do you feel like either one of you hit a wall during the summer?
Kevin Butler: I mean, first couple weeks, I had some minor things like I sprained my ankle, whatever. Not a big deal. Stuff I'm used to because of football but I really want to harp on I never really felt like I hit that wall mentally. A big part of that was this guy sitting across the table, like this this guy's going to be the best man in my wedding. Like I can't stress enough how important it was that he was here that's why I wanted him to take this journey with me so bad is because there's a balance. Like we are very similar, but we also have our differences and that's what kept us level headed. When he would get high stress moments, I'm like dude, big picture, take a step back, calm your nerves. When I get worked up, it's the same thing. I think it just the friendship we have got stronger because of the adversity we went through together. I mean I couldn't be more happy that you're here with me.
Jack Foster: Thank you for all that. I'm not that great a guy, I promise. But it is great to have a brother in the trenches. I think that stands true for almost every piece of adversity that you face throughout your life having someone who you trust and believes in you by your side is really big. But again, one thing that I do want to talk about with Green University is the camaraderie that Kevin brought up from football. I really feel that I've experienced this. I was a total stranger to Colby when I walked in here in early May. I think that not only like Kevin said has it strengthen my friendship with Kevin, but it has also helped me grow a new friendship with Colby. Because I've gotten to know him really well through all of the stuff that we've had to go through together. I just think that that's really special because the difficulty that we faced all three of us in a weird way it made us made us closer. Which is something that I did not expect, because like I said I talked about a large amount of rewards at the end of the summer and one thing that I wouldn't have predicted is a stronger friendship. So, that's really cool.
Another thing that helped me I do want to say I didn't hit the wall either I heard of a wall that was coming I it had been told to me like a legend or a myth. I was like, when's the wall going to hit I'm ready. I thought like my whole body would go numb or something terrible would happen. But no wall came and I think that, like I said, having people next to me who really help prop me up and hold me up, really staved off the dreaded wall. But another thing for me when to be music. I'm a very music-oriented person. I have songs for every mood and emotion and occasion. On mornings where it would be really difficult for me to get up at 5:45, where I was dreading getting yelled at by our CrossFit trainer. All those sorts of mornings, I would turn on the Bluetooth speaker from my phone and I would get the morning started with a banger and just really get me in the right head space to attack the day. And then at the end of camp similar thing. The kids drive you insane. You really feel like you need to wind. Your mind down you play something a little slower. Maybe a little yacht rock something like that just to sort of calm you down a little bit.
So, I think that those are probably the two biggest things. I would say that I think Kevin and I might be understating how difficult it really was at times, because it wasn't all peaches and roses. It did get hard. But I think having each other and then having ways where we can sort of wind down and relax a little bit during those tough days was huge. Because these days were 10 to 12 hours at time. Just where we were just dialed in the whole day. So, it's really key to have stuff like that. But I think that Kevin and I will both agree that we helped each other defend against the big wall. The dreaded wall. So very cool.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I definitely I could not agree more with all of those savings from both of you battling the wall. I did this program alone in 2021 and as Brian said, we went through a lot of prospects and something we really discussed is the desire and you have to have that desire and we had that in both of you guys. I think that was a huge part of you guys getting it. But from my perspective, I can tell you guys right now and even for our listeners, this has been a whole new experience for me of having you guys at the house. I mean even if we were budding heads at camp and we could all get in the car and kind of cut up about the day and the campers and what we need to do for the afternoon. And sometimes as you guys know, I get a little hot headed. So, to be able to let loose it really help me because usually I'm a little bit more of a person keep it to myself.
So, to be able to come back to the house with other interns and to kind of let things off our chest from the day from camp or stress levels. I felt so much better than I felt in years past of kind of bottling it up to be able to let it out in a similar experience with you guys who are going through the same thing. Really collaborate and work through it together. You guys definitely made that a lot easier for me and I'm glad you guys felt the same way about having me there and Kevin and Jack just this little triangle going on here.
Brian Harbin: Definitely.
Colby Harris: Nonetheless Grit Camp is our business and that's what you both participate in and helped operate for the summer. We spent a lot of the time this summer developing the next generation. Playing sports with them, really trying to push them into absorbing our Grit Creed, bringing out these speakers to enrich their lives as well. Although you both come from sports backgrounds, you likely never spent this much time and over such a long period with kids. So, from spending time with the kids as well as managing counselors, what are some of the things you've learned this summer that you believe are directly optical to life and business in the future?
Jack Foster: Yeah, this is a great question. Really lengthy one but the entire ordeal in terms of translatable skills that I acquired would have to be patience. That was something that I feel like I definitely struggled with. I have a little sister. She could tell you all about how I don't have any patience. But you have to be able to choose your battles in life and especially with kids who are looking to have fun at a summer camp. It's even more so. But if you lose your temper for little mishap, every little mistake, every little token of disrespect that the kids probably unknowingly bestow upon you sort of stuff like that. If you really get mad at all those occasions, the kids will tune you out. You lose that authority that you've been trying to covet, which is sort of counterintuitive but that's just sort of how it ended up working.
It's similar to the counselors who we manage to a degree. They're obviously a lot better because they're sophisticated people. But patience is definitely key and choosing when to full force, full passion in order to get the kids to where you want them to be is something that's definitely tested when you're running a summer camp like we were. Another transferable nugget of knowledge that I had would have to be the ability to accept flaws and a plan. So, I think in life no matter where you are you're making plans. I think that's what we as people do day in and day out, we make plans for our day, our kid’s days, our lives all that sort of stuff. But plenty of those visions that we had, definitely have cracks in them and can definitely fall through or not work the way that we intended them to work all that sort of stuff. I had to realize that, because I'm very plan oriented. I like a system of how things are done but sometimes, the kids can't do a drill that you created for them because they don't have the skill level or the desire, all that sort of stuff.
So, learning that the perfect plan is to have a plan that's adaptable and something that you can change on the fly. And still make it fun is something that I learned that I think will serve me throughout all other walks of life. Because when you have a vision and it falls through, how do you respond and that's something that every person needs to comfortable with.
Kevin Butler: Yeah, my largest takeaway was learning how to manage people. Whether it be the counselors or the kids starting off with mister Ford. That kid was super competitive and you know, I just tell him, here's the sit up record. You going to beat it? And then he's like, oh yeah, I'm going to beat it. I'm going to beat it and then sure enough he goes and does 400 sit ups. Then there's kids like Tyler or Jaylen that are motivated by reward. Like, hey, if you do a 12 -minute plank, even your son Max 12-minute plank. I was like, if you do 12 minutes, I'll give you whatever candy you want and then get them a bag of Airhead Extremes or whatever. Then but just like learning how to like how people work and how they operate and what motivates them is really important. Like just knowing your people. Knowing your people is important. The counselor side of things, just knowing, who's good at what and who can do, what who has the ability to do what. Knowing their strengths was also like a big thing that I learned this summer.
Colby Harris: Yeah, and on that note of connecting with people and knowing your people I think that delegating is a huge part even amongst the four of us here. We're all definitely good at certain things we learn that and hold memories with us of these campers and their kind of nuances and the things they do. So, on that topic of understanding these kids and knowing them so well at the end of these eight weeks. What is it meant for both of you to become so well connected with our campers, not to mention our counselors as well and to really be able to see their growth throughout their time at Grit Camp?
Kevin Butler: Yeah. So, what it's meant for me is being a better big brother. Like you, my brothers around the same age as the older kids that come to camp. Right going into high school or like finishing up that middle school time and seeing other kids with in similar situations, not knowing what's next. I kind of felt like that was one of my downfalls growing up was not having that relationship with my brother. I always thought he was annoying and he was just bothersome but as he's getting older like he's going through the same struggles that I went through. Whether I was blind seeing it then or didn't remember because I don't remember that younger time in my life. But like he's on his trek to high school.
So, what it meant for me was seeing kids in that same place and like we talked about that trickle down. Like us to the counselors to the jucos to the older kids, then feeding into the younger kids it all translates. So, if I can teach a 13, 14 year old kid, how to do this and how to become a great high school athlete or how to fit in socially and how to operate themselves in high school? What to expect and what to be nervous about, what not to be nervous at? What matters? What doesn't? It was just really important to me because it made me like sit back and think like, if I can do this for a kid that I just met, why can't I be that for my brother. So, being at camp, being around kids all day like Eli Jackson Zion all have potential to be great athletes. Zion could be a great football player. Eli could be a great football player. And just being around those kids that I don't know and then going back home every weekend seeing my brothers, like why can't I do that for him, why has that been lacking.
So, really was a focal point of like of growth and focusing on relationships. Relationships include all relationships, familial, platonic, significant others like it. So, focus on being able to give love to my brother was definitely a huge deal and something I realized dealing with campers every day.
Jack Foster: Yeah, I kind of have a quick aside for this. I know Kevin and I both have experiences similar to this. But for me, sort of one shining example of how, you're able to impact someone else's life without even really knowing it is we had one sponsored camper who was with us for a number of weeks this summer. Her name was Shereen. She was one of the more shy campers who I'd really ever dealt with. I have some camp experience prior to Great University and I've never seen a camper as shy as she was. It was really difficult for her to string more than three or four words together when she first arrived to camp. I understand she had been to camp maybe a year prior, maybe two years. And from the scouting report that I got, it was the same. She's very quiet, very introverted, didn't really say much, looked uncomfortable at times, all that sort of stuff. But she was placed into my group for the majority of the weeks that she was here. The more and more face time I got with her, the more and more I tried to connect with her and make her feel like a part of the Grit Camp team and not so isolated.
As I continued to do that, she opened up more and more. Started telling some jokes, being more natural and becoming more and more available. Telling me how she was feeling, her problems, all that sort of stuff. And as camp ramped up and we got deeper into the experience. I couldn't keep her away from me if I tried. She felt very comfortable around me. She sat with me at lunch every day, all that sort of stuff. She felt like she was in a place where she was heard and that she was cared about. And for me, that meant a lot that I could do something for someone like that. I've had numerous examples of this like with other campers throughout camp. So, that little Shereen story is a shining example of my development of the ability to resonate with people who are very different than myself. I think that that's key in all walks of life once again. If you can make a 7-year-old for example you feel comfortable and kind of, be buddy, buddy with them and make them smile and laugh and all that stuff. Even though at two completely different stages of your life. Then there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do that with a 47-year-old or 67-year-old or whoever it is. People who come from any walk of life.
So, those relationships that I was able to build that can't really built my confidence and, in my ability, to connect with all people. Because there's no reason on paper that Shereen and I should be as close as we were. But that ended up being how it went down and I'm really grateful for her for showing me that things like that are really possible. It's about the person who is trying to cultivate that relationship and how you treat them and how comfortable you're able to make them feel in their own skin.
Brian Harbin: Yeah, and it's amazing to see the different relationships a lot of you guys had with different kids that kind of emerge and a lot of times like you said the people you least expect, right.
Jack Foster: Right.
Brian Harbin: And that's what's so rewarding about it.
Jack Foster: Right.
Colby Harris: And Jack I was going to ask too. So obviously, we know you've got a huge passion for basketball. Two of your goals coming to the summer were to get better at basketball and improve your entrepreneurial skills. One of the highlights for me for the summer for you guys was orchestrating a game where it was you guys plus a few of our Grit Camp counselors against a team of all former collegiate athletes two of them played European ball. One of them was a two-time national champion at University of Florida. But tell us about kind of your personal journey in terms of some of the mental and physical challenges you went through to get to that point.
Jack Foster: Yeah, so when you take the time to develop the big three, mentally, physically and emotionally. When you put time and effort into making each of those aspects better, it's 100% going to help you out on the basketball court. I can that that is held true for me. I think that the person who walked in early May to right now, the basketball abilities are night and day. In terms of my mental confidence, my strength and conditioning, when I'm out there. All that sort of stuff has really improved in part to what we've done over here at Grit University. That game that Brian had mentioned which is on YouTube. By the way, be sure to check it out. The highlights are exquisitely done. It's just a looking tape right there makes us all look great.
I was actually really kicking myself after that game, because I felt that I was really gun shy and I didn't play to the best of my abilities. But it wasn't anything physical. I had put in the same amount of work as my fellow interns. I wasn't super gassed. I had a lot more to give, but there was something in my mind that just kept me from going full force from shooting the shots that I shoot at camp or the shots that I shoot in the mornings, all that sort of stuff. I just felt really shy and nervous and I realized that it's all in my head. So, I had made the physical jump from a basketball perspective at that time where I had the ability to shoot from anywhere on the court and had the confidence to do so as well. But mentally, I was apprehensive because of the level of the competition, because of how good these guys were and how big they were. It was an environment that I hadn't really been thrown into yet this summer.
So, that game was also an awesome it's great to play alongside those guys and match up with them. But it really did show me that there's mental growth to be had as well. A complete player needs a lot of different elements going for them and even though I've gotten my body better and focused on my emotions and all that sort of stuff. You still have to keep your mind sharp and free of fear. That's tough to say. Free of fear, because like I said, fear is typically an inhibitor. I was very inhibited by it during that basketball game at Bulls. Still a blast by the way, not knocking the experience. It was a terrific time. But all my problems were self-made. But yeah, I need to take the time to thank Brian for setting that up, because that was a really cool thing. I'm sure we can all agree on that.
Colby Harris: Yeah, definitely and I'm sure that we'll have a whole new game to bring on a rematch next year. They're definitely not going to be ready for what we bring come 2023.
Jack Foster: They will not be.
Colby Harris: No, not at all. But Kevin coming over you, as mentioned you spent the last two years playing football at Stetson University, I mean that basically tacked on about 12 years of your football career. But this year you decide to hang up the cleats to pursue other opportunities and that really started with Grit University this summer. So, just to really give us an insight into kind of where you're at and your experience through what you've gone through playing and deciding to now move on to better or new things shall I say. What really led you to making that decision and what vision do you have for yourself as you enter this new chapter of your life?
Kevin Butler: What Led me into making that decision was for the first time focusing on myself and not my purpose, not the team, not the mission, not winning games. First day of fall camp last year, I was about 296 pounds. I wouldn't say I was out of shape, but I'm a heavy sweater. I'm a big guy and I cramped up full body cramp, called the ambulance, went to hospital, they put three liters of fluids into me. It was at that time when I started to question what I wanted, what do I want to do. Football is all I know right now. There's something more for me. It felt like there was something more and I felt like at the time I was prioritizing things that weren't healthy for me. I was overweight. I was in a bad mental place because of my struggles with cramping and medical issues. No injuries, but just like it's very morally defeating when I would cramp up. And then I'm like, what am I doing wrong? I'm eating all the right things. I'm over hydrating., I'm doing everything you could think of and it's just not working.
So, I decided to walk away. Started losing weight. By the end of the fall season, I was around 275. So, that's 20 pound over a season which is pretty normal for linemen. Then in the winter come to winter weigh ins, 264. Then by the end of winter the lowest I've been on our weekly weigh ins was 256. Then I start spring and I'm just like, I made a commitment to my teammates that I would do this. Like I'm ready to walk away, but I will follow through with what I say I would do. I will be here for the spring. I played every single practice for spring. Finished spring around 260 and then we had about a month and a half, two months before school ended and got with you guys about doing an internship. There’re conflicting times and by the time we got to exit interviews I was like, here's what's going on with me coach. I want to thank you for everything you've done, but this is what I want to do.
So, I hung it up and for those last two months I got down to the lowest I got was 250. And right now, I'm sitting at around 245, but I prioritize myself for the first time and it felt good. It felt like there were so much more opportunity out there for me. So, my vision for the coming year and the coming years is to build more relationships, live by the three things men built for others and expand my knowledge horizon. There’re so many things that I felt like I missed out on, because I was so committed to one thing. Whether that go back to high school and me not playing high school basketball because I was so in love with football. So, committed to football that I felt like it would be troublesome or take away from that. So, now I'm at a time in my life where it's time to take away from football and move on and expand on the things I want to learn and the things I want to do one day.
Jack Foster: And visit Florida State.
Kevin Butler: Yes, and visit Florida State.
Jack Foster: Something else that football didn't allow.
Kevin Butler: No. I actually cool thing about that. I got to visit a lot of places. I went to New York for the first time when we played Merist. I went to Jersey for Princeton; we fly into LaGuardia and you just see this landscape. It's really a concrete jungle. You fly in the first thing you see is the Statue of Liberty and then you see the whole city and Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building. Oh my God, it was a spectacle. Just sitting from the plane window and looking at it, oh my gosh. I had a lot of great experiences for football but it was time for me to expand on new things.
Brian Harbin: So, I wanted to ask you guys, here we are. We're at the end of your 10 weeks. The last day of camp was last Friday. We're shooting the podcast today. Tomorrow, we've got our counselor appreciation which we're playing top golf with them and then tomorrow night, we've got a big banquet for you guys and your family to celebrate your summer and get your profit-sharing check. Then Wednesday, we wrap up. We were actually asked to make a presentation in front of the mayor's committee on health and wellness. So, I feel like that's kind of our big final exam our dissertation of the summer is we've got 30 minutes in front of some people to kind of explain what it is we do. But I wanted to ask you guys looking back over the course of the summer, did you have a favorite part? What was the most challenging? What would you say in reflection at this point after 10 weeks of the summer?
Jack Foster: Well, I think I'll save the favorite part for after but I'm going to start with my biggest challenge if that's okay. I had experience working at summer camps and with children before, so the summer camp part came pretty naturally to me. So, I would say that the biggest issue I had was the mornings. I was very entrenched in a sleep schedule. And changing that sleep schedule was one of the hardest parts. But then couple that couple with having to change your sleeping pattern too. Getting up in the morning and the first thing you do is you hit the gym as hard as you can. I was not used to that. So, it was definitely hard. I wasn't super comfortable around weights since I really hadn't been crazy into weights since high school. I went to the gym at FSU and stuff but truth be told, I played a lot more basketball there than lifting. But now, I can safely say that Gray University has rekindled my love for the weights part of the gym. I really like it. I've seen improvements in my mood, my self-confidence. Obviously, my basketball game that we talked about earlier.
Those are all direct results keeping my body moving and really pushing my limits every morning for these 10 weeks that I've done, that we've done. I'm sorry. My parents have signed me up for a gym in North Carolina which is where I'm headed to finish out the summer and relax a little bit. So, I can safely say that I will be keeping up the physical aspect of the Great University curriculum. So, that's definitely cool. In terms of the best parts of the summer, I would have to say the to one pitch which if you ask me, I would've called you crazy if you told me that that's what I was going to say. But that was such a unique thing where it was like we're walking down this long corridor to this conference room and like I'm close to the most nervous I've ever been in my life. Like just pondering what's the worst possible outcome. If we completely fail what happens here like just trying to ease myself a little bit. But then by the time we were done with it, I felt so accomplished and all that sort of stuff. It was is terrific.
I would also say that my favorite parts have been sort of the changes I've seen in my body and stuff and my self-confidence and all that sort of stuff. Which is all a direct result of what we've done all summer. So, that's great as well. Getting to spend time with Kevin has been a terrific part because like he's been committed to football for the last two years. So, there's really been no visiting each other while we're at school, sort of stuff. So, getting to spend 10 straight weeks with him. Going through what we've gone through, but also spending time like just hanging out like we used to in high school, has been awesome as well. There's been a lot of benefits. I could probably go on for another 10 minutes if you let me. But I'm going to pass it over because I'm sure Kevin has some good stuff to say as well. I'm sure he's experienced a lot of positives.
Kevin Butler: Yeah so, I mean I have a lot of favorite moments. It's hard me for me to pick when we're running through podcast earlier. Probably said something different, but what came to mind right now is going to your house every Thursday to have dinner.
Jack Foster: What a treat. What a treat.
Kevin Butler: I mean it's just I don't know if you planned for it but it really feels like family when you come over the Harbin’s House. Like you come there and there's not a beat skipped. I think that's what I appreciate about this internship so much, didn't feel like a job. Like yeah, we get paid we're here to make profit but it didn't feel like a job. It just felt like, oh this summer I'm just running a summer camp with my family, my Grit family. But the most challenging part once again going to touch on it being thrown into the fire. It set us up for a great summer, but just like the nerves and the probably being at my most uncomfortable being thrown into the fire. But yeah, I just want to commend you for how you have this set up. It really feels like family and you take care of us I appreciate that.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I definitely co