Join us in talking to Kawan Karadaghi, Anytime Fitness Franchise owner, podcaster, and fitness influencer. We are going to be diving into how to lead with failure, and how you can use previous mistakes to have a larger impact on those around you. Can failure make you stronger, is it something we perhaps welcome more openly in our lives?

Kawan walks us through his journey of starting out in fitness to becoming a trainer to where he is now in owning and managing Anytime Fitness franchises. He talks about how he has learned from his failure to better lead and empower his teams.

We also talk about the impact that simply listening to people can have. Kawan illustrates how learning this earlier in his career significantly improved the way he leads people in his business and interactions with clients. The most important aspect in succeeding in something new is to start, join us in learning what that looks like in the terms of leading through relationship!

Can Failure Make You Stronger Conversation Transcript:

Brent: I think that people misjudge what leadership is, they think that what I’m doing is not necessarily a leadership role. If you step out of your house every day, there’s someone out there that is paying attention to what you’re doing.

Kawan: I look back on all my mentors and teachers, and I noticed that they did that with me. They just provided an ear and a few calibrated questions got me going.

Brent: Welcome to the Lead With Relationship Podcast today, we’re talking to Kawan Karadaghi, Anytime Fitness Franchise owner, podcaster, and fitness influencer. We are going to be talking about leading with failure, and how to learn from that process in your relationships and in your career.

If you are just joining us, our podcast is produced by BeFun BeKind Podcasts. If you want to explore podcasting yourself, check out to learn how to create impactful conversation through podcasting. That’s also where you can learn more about our mission and even partner with us through this journey. You can find us at We would also love if you would share this podcast with someone, you know. Let’s get started.

Kawan it is good to have you on the podcast today. I know we chatted a little bit about this beforehand, but I know this is a big part of your story. The aspect of managing your failures and using your failures to lead to success.

I think that’s something that so many people can relate to. I think it’s something that so many people struggle with, how to deal with failure, how to learn from it and just how to not let that overwhelm you. I’d love to start there and just get your feedback and your journey of how that’s been for you.

Kawan: That’s a great question. I think the most important thing to understand from any type of failure is to listen to the message that is the takeaway from the learning lesson of it. And I think, pain these types of things signify.

What that learning lesson is, and it’s just being really sensitive to what that means for you, you don’t have to go through catastrophic events every single time to, to learn something. You can learn something just by being taken by surprise or being curious about something. And I think for me that’s what it always was.

Had a lot of those trial and error moments. And then I started becoming more and more sensitive to, how to learn better, through each one. And, they’re, it’s laughable, but there’s games like, chess, for example. I played a lot of chess and I learned a lot from that.

And I think, the takeaway there is to, kind of understand where your actions get you to. We were designed to think what that next step is, and then the step after that, but we don’t look at the third step or the fourth step.

And that’s what I learned to take away. It’s important to take away that from the process of any mishap or misgiving or something that happens to you is to take away the learning from it.

And that way it’s not necessarily a bad thing, right? It’s like a learning lesson it’s like going to school, you learn it. Every failure is, has a golden opportunity for you to take something valuable away.

How Failure Can Lead To Success

Brent: That’s great. And I love the chess reference. It is a good example of learning and strategy, but I a hundred percent agree with what you’re saying. I think so often people can experience failure and just shut down.

We all have different personalities, and I think that plays a big factor. Some personalities are much better at this than others, but I think that a lot of people just natively do not handle failures well, and I think what you just said gives a really great realization to us that we don’t even have to look at this as a negative experience.

We can look at it from my positive standpoint of, wow, I learned a lot, I grew a lot, I developed a lot from that failure and now I get to move forward with that growth and I get to grow into a new person, and I get to impact people in even more powerful ways because of that failure.

Kawan: That’s right. I think there would be no no real story of any kind, if you didn’t go through that bit or that rough part there. And for me, it was, I went and did this like a little experiment with exercise, I felt immense pain from that because I was out of shape.

And that’s when I looked at myself and I looked at my choices in my life and I sorta took ownership of the things that I was doing because I was living in a a way that you, I wasn’t confronting things. And I was, speaking denial for lack of better words.

And that helped me shed the light on all the things. It put it all out there for everyone to see which everyone was myself at the time, and that’s when. I revisited everything. I’m very thankful for that moment. I’m very thankful for the teachers of those moments.

And there’s a great book. I think it’s a man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl. And, you read these stories and in that book, and it reminds me of what kind of was said in the book about not letting your suffering go to waste. And I thought that was such a poetic way to say, but it’s essentially the same thing that we’re talking about.

It’s using that moment to really understand what is the, the higher calling that’s trying to show you this or the universe or whatever you believe. And that’s giving you this signal. And it’s really up to us. To take ownership of it and to take it upon ourselves, to get better from fitness, that’s my field, so to speak is if you think about it, in essence, it’s repetitive, muscular failure to grow and become stronger.

That’s just what it takes, and that’s how you adapt. That’s how you grow. And that’s what it is, it’s the growth from it that you have to take.

Brent: Yeah, absolutely. So let’s chat about fitness specifically for a little bit. That is your field. First of all, what got you into that specifically?

Kawan: It’s a great question. And one that, it just always is, goes back to the same story that it just really came back to a person that cared. And that took an interest in me and, extended a handout and just said, Hey, let’s let’s try this thing here. And I took that and I ran with it.

Literally I went on a run and that was the beginning where I embarked on this, quest really of finding out more about this about this tinkering with myself this finding this voice of wanting to do something good and for myself.

So I went on this run and I just got into it, I love the feeling that I got from it. And that’s kinda what it was, it was getting hooked to that feeling of getting somewhere or becoming something better and feeling good, so I chased that. I liked what fitness did for me and I liked the results that I got from it.

And it’s really, when you start to feel something and do something about it, and then you start to see progress from it is when it clicks for you. That’s when you say, oh, okay, this is working. And if I continue to do this, I will get to this goal.

And that’s, I guess what it was for me driven in that way of going after something and seeing a result from it. That’s kinda what got me into it and I did it nonstop. And then there’s so many things you learn in fitness that are transferable in life and in business. That, that kind of built the ground for me there and and took off from there.

But essentially it was going on a run and being hooked on a feeling that this was something good.

How To Start A Success Story

Brent: You said something that really jumped out to me and then we have to start somewhere. Again, a lot of people get caught up in that, they think, and they dwell so much about the long-term picture or all the details that can be involved in making something successful that is hard to start.

I really hear that in the story, you just came to the realization of, I’m into this and I’m just going to start and see where it goes. And I think that’s really powerful mindset to be in. I know that you started off in fitness and you went into training I believe.

And now I believe you actually co-own several gyms, correct.

Kawan: Yeah, that’s right. With my business partners, we co-own anytime fitness franchises.

Brent: Yeah. So that’s got to be a transition from a career standpoint, going from an interest, which is probably where we all start in a progression of being entrepreneurial.

 Then we get our feet wet, and it sounds like that’s a similar progression that you did with doing training and then have a whole new level with actually co owning the gyms. Maybe talk a little bit about that progression and what those in-between stages of moving up to that next level felt like.

Kawan: That’s a great way. I love the, next level that you, put it at. Cause that’s exactly what it is and everybody’s life. And, the takeaway theme from this all is it’s the constant process of in essence recreating. Yeah. In finding the time to get to that next level it’s the transition was as tough as, learning that the phases you can’t go from phase to phase without mastering that level first.

 So for me, it was the transition was tough because, in essence, when I look back it’s moving to the west coast starting off with this, working out of the self, which leads to, in essence, mastering, yourself first, right?

You have to get to that level that, you know yourself, what you want to do, or you’re capable of doing before you can go on to master other people or systems or work that’s outside of yourself. So that’s the very first step. And then I became a personal trainer and then I, so I had a lot more autonomy there.

I was able to train more and have my own schedule. And that was a big shift in and of itself because I had to learn communication with people. I had to learn how to give and take. I had to learn science, incredible things that were beyond my scope.

And then from there to move on to manage larger systems people, teams, and then, levels if you will. Fitness is great because you go through the process of progressive overload and that’s adding slow increments of stress. To yourself. Whether it be with weight training with running or whatever the case may be, that eventually you become stronger and you have to move on to the next level.

So the transition was tough because the progressive overload from the training perspective to managing or running a business, it was, very substantial and overwhelming it, it just it, it was sleepless nights and learning a bunch of things on the fly.

And but you had to be in a place where you had these things already set for yourself and that ground level, that foundation, those principles and values, the work ethic, learning the improvement. So a big thing for me, as I always say is it’s constantly improve, it’s one of the cornerstones of how I do everything and that’s how you have to approach it. And, in business, you’re going to learn things that man it’s like going to school. Times 10, I think it’s you learn a bunch of new stuff that you just really aren’t prepared for.

And that’s why it’s so important to, to pay attention, even going, circling back to our conversation of what that pain is, because you’re going to experience a lot. And that’s okay. It’s what you take away from it and how you apply it on the next one, and then just learning. And I think we all move through phases for particular or specific reasons to prepare us for the next phase of what’s coming and what you’re going to be doing in life and listening to that is super important.

The Relational Model Of Leadership

Brent: That is so true. We’re all moving. We’re all progressing. We’re all growing in life and yeah. Everything that we go through can very much prepare us and lead us for the next level. And I can certainly imagine owning a fitness business and owning a gym would probably be one of the best examples that you could give of going through that process of going from a trainer to actually owning the entity where people come and train in.

And there’s so many different types of dynamics that you have to learn in that. One of the things that we really talk a lot about and enjoy talking about is relational leadership. And I would imagine. Again, this is one of the best examples of growing specifically in relational leadership that there can be, as a trainer, that’s all about what you are doing is developing relationships with your clients and learning the different dynamics that people are in.

People come to you I’m sure with different struggles and different personalities and different ways of how they think about that struggle. And then as you mentioned, owning a business, in a sense, you have to figure out how to scale what you did on a one-on-one basis with the people that you worked with to a lot of other people.

So I’d love to get just your input of maybe relational leadership specifically and how that has played a part in both the training part and how you scaled that up to really owning and running the business and developing great relational leaders under you.

Kawan: It’s

a great question.

And I realized that during the middle half of being a trainer that I was in essence a a leader, I, it never occurred to me that way. I just thought that I was someone that knew what they’re talking about and I was, educating people on it, but it is that isn’t it. And, the leadership component of it was critical to know, because I had to.

I unlearn a lot of things that I had was hanging onto him in the beginning. And then I basically, I communicated to people the way that they were communicating. You could see it on someone’s face when you were talking and they were just zoned out. And I was thinking. That this wasn’t working.

And I had to learn people and how to talk to them differently. The most important thing I think to have with anybody, and this is, what I try to take away from everything that I learn is what is the core principle behind it? And, the easiest way for me to say this is it’s just empathy.

You gotta have a strong foundation of empathy, and it takes slowing down. It takes listening skills and you just got to just be there for them and just listen. Don’t try to impart too much advice in the beginning. And, just dump a bunch of information on people.

Just be there and just listen. They’ll give you the answers. And it’s to really just be that sponge. And for me it helped writing it down. So as soon as someone told me something that stuck out, I say, why did that person say that to me?

And what is, what does that mean? And the context of who they are. And that’s what I tried to do is was just purely listen and use a lot of empathy. And when in doubt, some more empathy, because you’re going to have people have their lives, they have their issues, they have their problems.

And, the last thing you need is somebody telling them more things. So you’d be surprised how far that’ll get you? Some of the best things that I’ve had or successes that I’ve had if you want to call it. That was just having conversations with people, being their friend, being their partner in it, rather than telling them what to do, but just walking alongside them.

 I think that’s the missing component there. Management’s great. It’s important to be a manager, but you’ll have to know how to be a leader and that’s, adapting your style to how people communicate and also having a lot of empathy to be able to listen to what they say and to truly use that to basically communicate better.

Listening And Learning As A Leader

Brent: Yeah, I think that people often misjudge what leadership is, they think that what I’m doing is not necessarily a leadership role, and I don’t think that’s the case. I think we’re all in a leadership position, regardless of what we’re doing.

There’s people following what we are doing regardless of what role you’re in, if you’re putting something out into the world, if you step out of your house every day, there’s someone out there that is paying attention to what you’re doing. That’s one of the things that we enjoy talking about is just encouraging people to have that mindset.

You said that in your training process, you stepped back and realized, Hey, you know what? I’m very much in a leadership position. And then some of those other things fell into place. You started to think if that is the case, if I’m going to consider myself a leader, then I need to pay attention of how I can lead people.

I need to pay attention of my clients and figure out what’s going on in their life and just have a conversation with them. That’s really powerful. I think that conversation itself is something that number one, we can all get better at. But secondly, it’s something that we overlook how powerful it is. Conversation and just sitting down and relating to people on a personal level is hugely impactful in a lot of ways.

Kawan: Oh man. One of the toughest things was for me too. Be that because of the position I was in, I had all the answers. And fitness that is I thought that I did. And, you want to come in and say what you think is right, because you’re the pro and I basically had to switch that or re-engineer that, and ask a lot of questions.

 One thing I got better at doing was just asking questions of how we could become better or what we could do differently. And the most valuable and most important thing you can get from someone is when they tell you how they’re going to do it and that they’re going to do it because they come to the realization themselves and nothing is more powerful than that.

I look back on all my mentors and teachers, and I noticed that they did that with me. I wasn’t even noticing what they were doing. They just provided an ear and a few calibrated questions got me going, and that was it.

So I always remember that’s what I had to do because the more and more I imparted my authority and, I tried to push my power on the people, the less. Result I got from it. So I had to realize that wasn’t going to do it. I had to get them to realize it for themselves.

And I asked myself, how do I do that? And that was through listening, through asking questions and so forth. And then, obviously recommending things and telling them, what was, what is and what aren’t good choices. And then allowing them to make those and learn from them. And then that’s it, the conversation component is absolutely critical.

It’s just connecting with someone, I had people coming in and they would just go on and on. I wouldn’t say anything. I would I would just nod, I would encourage with body language.

And then at the end, some people would stop and say, Hey, thanks so much for listening. And they would take off, and I thought to myself what happened here? And the there’s the same thing that happens with me when I talked to my coach, I have two, and I’ll dump a bunch of information, and then at the end I say, you know what?

You’re so good. And they laugh because they say, I didn’t do anything. That’s what it is. It’s giving them that space, to allow for that conversation to happen.

Brent: Absolutely. One of the most impactful experiences that I have had personally. I was chatting with someone in a conference, and the person that I was chatting with actually ended up being the keynote speaker. We did not have a long conversation, I thought nothing of it, and they actually called our conversation out in their keynote address.

So apparently whatever we were talking about or whatever’s going on in their life, impacted them in that moment. And it just helped me to realize every conversation you have every little moment that you have can hugely impact people simply just by listening, simply by just stepping back and being interested in what is going on in another person’s life.

I think it’s easy to not recognize, but listening is absolutely a leadership quality that can impact people in a really profound way I think.

Kawan: And I think you nailed it with taking an interest in people and a great book that I’m sure you’ve heard of is, how to win friends and influence people. And he, that’s one of the core principles is take a genuine interest in other people. And it’s so true, treat each individual very precious, with that time with them and just listen to them and you’ll learn so much from them, and that’s, that to me is just priceless.

What Is Purpose In Life And How To Define It

Brent: Absolutely. One thing that you talk a lot about is identifying your purpose and really what that was like for you in your journey, but I think there’s a lot of people out there that are going through that right now. Maybe they’re lost in understanding what their purpose is and maybe just need some advice or need some help in that.

Tell us a little bit about what that experience was like for you, and also just any advice that you might have for someone that is trying to figure out what they should be doing with their life.

Kawan: It’s a great question. I went through a lot of phases. Of, of trying to find what that kind of was, and you’ll be surprised.

 I noticed a constant theme is I look for what it is on the outside and more often than not, it’s literally right in front of me and it’s just, it’s what I’m doing. And it’s within me. And that’s where I found it. So I asked myself and I always tell others the same thing.

Yeah. There’s a few elements to it that I found in my life that’s worked. What brings you joy? What brings you excitement? What is it that you’re doing and you don’t mind doing it. And it’s fun for you, right? Where it’s rare for somebody else it’s not fun at all.

And that’s, you have to pay attention to that. What is it that it’s drawing you, what’s getting your attention. What’s getting your curiosity that you can do for hours and hours, right? So for me working out was that because I loved it, I would go to, I couldn’t sleep at night.

Programming the next day, his workouts and what I wanted to do and how it was going to be. And I was planning it all and I thought, wow, this is like this healthy obsession. So find what that is. What’s your healthy obsession that you really like doing. The second is being honest, with yourself and you might want to do a lot of things, but find out what you’re also good at doing.

So that way you can run with it and do open maybe a business with it or monetize that. I think that’s important. So being honest with yourself. And there’s so many more things that, that I went through with that, but I think the excitement and joy part and the honesty component of it is important.

And it never really stops your purpose can change also, and what that is, it changes after I worked out I thought this is great. Now what? Now I was passing it on. So my purpose was affecting more people with it. And then that changed because it was, opening more, locations to allow for that process to happen more.

So your genuine purposes, you know what that is? That you are doing that you can also, pass on to the world. That’s what that influence is. And that’s important to do and something that you can constantly learn and grow from and that’ll keep you going beyond any thing that you can imagine.

It’s that, that you have to find it, it just takes digging and don’t stop. I read in a book recently That inspired me was write 10 ideas. Every day, just every day, write down 10 ideas of something that that gives you inspiration from that, from the book, reinvent yourself, I think is the title of the book.

And I that’s so true every day. Just think just don’t stop, whatever it is for you. If you have an idea, write it down, revisit those ideas. And then if they constantly show up, it’s telling you. I try to find the patterns and what that is for you. And sure enough you’ll find what that, that purpose has never stopped.

The curiosity and the open-mindedness of discovering what that is for yourself, because it can take years and, but it’s worth it.

Brent: I’ve heard the same thing. In other mediums before that you should be doing the combination of both what you really enjoy and what you’re also good at.

And that is a phenomenal way to look at that. As I have looked back through, my personal story a little bit, I’ve seen things that I have enjoyed immensely, but I was terrible at, and I’ve seen things on the other side of the spectrum, maybe I was pretty good at, but I just did not enjoy doing it.

So I feel like that is a great way for people to rule things out and to look at different avenues that they’re going down, even if they try it for a little bit and think through those two different spectrums in their mind. I think if you can find something that you don’t mind spending a little bit of time investing in and getting better at than, you’re a long ways down the road of finding your purpose and finding what you want to do.

Kawan: A hundred percent. And I think that the important part is to find the reason why you’re doing it and it’s use case, the function of it. And is it going to make someone’s life better? Is it going to solve a problem that’s happening? So when in doubt, if you’re looking at all these things, you can’t figure it out. Look for problems. And look for a use case for it, is this something that I can do that, that solves a problem and how can I grow this to solve that?

You can’t do something that you can’t stand by. If you don’t believe in it, you gotta believe in it. And I believed in fitness because it, it did that for me and I, this is what I ran with it for many years. I wanted to share that with people.

I wanted to pass that feeling along to somebody else and what that was like for them and watch them grow in so many other areas. I believed in it because it was science-based right. Fitness works on lowering blood pressure, brewing, muscular strength, bone density. Those things spoke to me because you couldn’t refute.

And when they were in refutable, that’s when I said now I have ground. I have something that’s real. And that’s when I just took off because I knew that it would work. There was no second guessing at anymore.

Community Building As A Social Impact Leader

Brent: Yeah. One thing that I also think a lot of people get lost in is that we live in a society that really glorifies mass impact and not as much impacting on a community level and, not everyone struggles with that, but some people certainly do. They think I have to do something that is seen by the entire world. If I don’t create the next Apple, then I’ve failed in my life.

And. I think that’s a tragedy to some degree, again, not everyone deals with that, but a lot of people have that paradigm in their life that they have to do something that, is massively impactful. But I think where that gets lost, and I think that you’ve hinted at this, when you scale to some degree, you’re likely always going to lose some sort of personal touch to what you’re doing. And so there’s so much to be said to, Hey, you know what? I want to do something that impacts a group of people deeply. I want to do something that impacts my community deeply. I want to do something to impacts this specific niche of people in a very profound way.

I want to be a part of that and I want to see how their life has changed and I want to be changed. My guess is for a lot of people that is probably a more fulfilling choice, than do something on a mass scale, where you’re not necessarily feeling as fulfilled as you would the other way.

Kawan: That’s right. And I think the important thing with that is to say, what can I do to start now? And who can I help in my immediate circle? I think that was important for me because before I became a trainer, Giving advice to friends and they were getting results from it. And they were, they asked me, why don’t you become a trainer?

And I never thought about it that way. It just never occurred to me. And that’s what it was. It was helping out somebody that was immediate next to me. And you want to start there, you don’t want to bypass that process to begin with. And the reason I say that is because you gotta have that first component of mastery, which is doing the work on the field, doing the work with your hands, working with people directly.

And once you get to this level of doing that, you can then say, I think I can do more with this. And, but you have to give that a try. You can’t just jump to this large scale. It doesn’t make sense just yet either you need to figure out this thing works.

This is something that you like, and if it’s not that’s all right, you can move on from it and minimize your I guess loss component there. If it’s, if it doesn’t work out, cause you can try something on a grand scale, but if there’s no demand for it and you have a really tested the market.

Yeah. You might, be at a loss there if you haven’t done your homework. So try to affect one person with it and see how that goes and then go from there, try to affect two or three and it started off with that community, there’s a great. Saying on that is I’m paying a book, a thousand true fans by Kevin Kelly is it tells you, you don’t need necessarily a million people to believe in what you believe in.

You just need a thousand, and you could make a great living on that on a medium, to large scale. And the same kind of thing applies here. I think it’s the ideation. Yeah. Is it? Yeah, you don’t have to go super big. You can test the market, see if it’s in demand and then start on a smaller scale there and see how it goes.

See if there’s something that you like to do. And that’s the important part. You don’t want to bypass that part cause it gives you insights into what it could be.

Brent: I had never heard of that book before, but that was a great example I think that illustrates that path, that people can think of when they’re going through that journey. I know that you also have a podcast that you do, and I want to mention that. And I want to dive into that just a second. I know we’re going to dedicate an episode specifically to go behind the scenes and talk about that. So we’ll leave a lot of that for that, but just really quickly ValueVerse.

What’s your mission? What are you trying to do in that project with that podcast?

Kawan: Listening to shows like yours and they’re inspiring and putting out quality work like the podcast you have is, something that pushes me to do something that, to get back what I learned. And value is basically something beneficial and verse being words.

Beneficial words and stories of work and life. Is what that is about. And they’re honest and informative discussions from influencers, entrepreneurs, from all realms and learning takeaways from what those people went through and what we can apply to our lives on a smaller scale, whatever that looks like.

And it was my way if kind of creating a space to have these open discussions. And what we chatted about before we went on was that ability to have a conversation. You and I are sitting here on, on Friday and I don’t think you and I would have ever met if it wasn’t for, the beautiful medium of a podcast.

So I just think it’s a, it’s awesome to be able to connect with people like yourself and impart things to each other that we didn’t know and have that space of conversation. There’s so many ways to do it, but I think podcasting is a great way for that.

Brent: It is a really powerful, medium, always encourage people that are thinking about it, don’t hesitate. Feel free to jump in. Also everyone that’s listening, go check it out, ValueVerse. Is there a website associated with it as well? Obviously anywhere podcasts can be found, but you have a website or anything behind it as well?

Yeah. Thanks. It’s on as well to see all the episodes and then all platforms.

Yeah. Okay. check it out. We’re going to do it behind the scenes as well to dive in a little bit deeper on specifically Kawan’s journey in the podcast, and we’re going to specifically talk podcasting for a little bit.

Kawan, it has been a pleasure and look forward just to keeping in touch and learning about what you’re doing in the future.

Can Failure Make You Stronger?

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