Rebel Health Warrior
Joe Rignola embodies the famous proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” He battled personal health challenges for much of his life; challenges that included severe digestive issues, blood sugar problems, and depression. This led Joe to seek standard medications for these ailments, which brought along debilitating side effects, and forced him to seek alternative means for his health. It was through these means that Joe was finally able to take control of his health, and implement a holistic wellness approach that transformed his entire life.
With this new life came immense amounts of gratitude. Joe decided to walk away from a successful business venture, and went back to school so that he would be able to teach others how to transform their own lives. His schooling was based in the holistic health and functional nutrition fields. Now, as a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, and Writer, he is able to give the gift of a healthier, happier, and more sustainable life to people all around the globe.
- Tell us about your business – what’s your mission; your soul’s purpose and why you created your wellness business or service?
We created Rebel Health Tribe in 2014 after launching a massive program called Primal90. That launch nearly destroyed us and we vowed to never do a launch on that scale again and to keep our business as low-stress as possible. Cut to 2017. We’re launching a gigantic documentary series in early 2018 called The Human Longevity Project. So there’s that.
I’m also working on another documentary called Grow Food which highlights people all over the country who are growing food and making a real difference in their cities, towns and the planet. The goal is to inspire the masses to grow more food locally so we can fundamentally change the food system. It’s not just a documentary, it’s a call to action.
Growing food and filmmaking are two of my greatest passions.
My mission is to make creative content that inspires people to live happier, healthier lives, and that has a positive impact on the planet.
- Tell us about your journey and your story….what got you to this point today?
About 11 years ago, I was pretty miserable actually. I owned a real estate business which I grew to hate. I was extremely unhealthy and was on medications for digestive issues, depression, and more. Turns out consuming Taco Bell, Coke, and living a life with no real purpose isn’t so good for your health. Who knew?
The catalyst for me was when I finally decided to stop taking my depression medication. Apparently, you need to wean from that stuff very slowly and some people who stop too quickly experience gnarly side effects… like the feeling of hooking jumper cables up to your face. Not kidding. It’s called brain zaps and it’s a real thing. It took me over 6 months to come off of them slowly enough to not experience the zaps too much.
This, however, caused me to look more deeply into how my lifestyle was affecting my health and I began to make substantial changes. Within a year or so I completely turned my health around, and generally became a happier person. I was so profoundly grateful for these changes that I decided I wanted to help others and went back to school for health and nutrition. Around 2009, I started coaching people one-on-one as well as in small groups.
It wasn’t long before I discovered this thing called the internet 🙂 and learned I could help far more people by creating online content and programs. I wrote a book in 2012 and through some crazy, creative online finagling, it hit best-seller status on Amazon. In 2013 I launched my first online event called The Primal Cooking Workshop.
This was right around the time “summits” started becoming somewhat popular and to my amazement, over 20,000 people registered for that event. At the time, I thought it was a failure. It wasn’t until I promoted someone else’s product that I saw the real potential. I actually made more money promoting that other product, than my own. From that moment I was hooked on online marketing and the ability to reach and help more people all over the world.
- How are you changing the face of healthcare and/or the wellness industry? How do you create, innovate or break the rules in healthcare?
At Rebel Health Tribe, we pride ourselves on challenging the status quo. Usually that’s directed at mainstream or conventional “wisdom.” Sometimes it’s even directed at our so-called alternative health space. Hey, we’re rebels.
- What personal and professional legacy or impact do you want to leave on the world?
I want to show people that they can find their passion and live life on their terms. The best way I can do that is to step out of my own comfort zone, not be afraid to take chances, hustle, and to lead by example. It took me way too long to give myself “permission” to live my passion. I want to help more people realize that they don’t have to wait for permission from anyone else–that they can lead and inspire now. If people can look at me and say, “if he did it, I can do it,” then I’d consider that a success.
- In your opinion, what is the most significant factor in healing or overall wellness?
Dealing with past traumas, forgiving people (especially yourself), and having a sense of purpose and connection. As our crew travelled around the world interviewing healthy people who were in their 80s, 90s and over 100, one of the most common threads was connection and purpose.
- What do you wish people realized when it comes to their health or about the wellness industry?
That health is not so much about diet and exercise (and the dogma of diet and exercise). There are so many factors that go into your health and, if I’m being honest, I think diet and exercise are toward the bottom of a pretty long list which includes things like sleep, connection with nature, stress management, living a purpose-filled life, relationships, sunshine, play, and more. I tell people to eat what makes them happy as long as it doesn’t hurt them. Once folks have switched to eating real food from eating crap, the rest is minutia and shouldn’t be a source of stress.
- How long did it take you to reach important milestones in your wellness business?
And, what has really helped you move the needle in making your vision a reality?
About 2 years after I started my coaching practice, I wrote and launched my first book, The Definitive Way to go Gluten Free. This was my first taste of online marketing. Hearing from people all over the world that read my book, and were helped by it, was mind blowing. That was a huge turning point for me.
- Tell us about the start-up scares: Was there a moment where you ever seriously contemplated giving up?
A moment? How about dozens of moments? Well, maybe not “seriously” but certainly the thought of quitting crossed my mind quite a few times over the years. The only time I really, seriously considered it was right after I launched The Primal Cooking Workshop. I expected that launch to make well over 6 figures. By the time the smoke settled, after 6 or 7 months of producing content, learning new marketing systems, learning how to write copy, learning how to get partners and affiliates, building the website, writing endless emails, and on and on and on, I only made a few thousand dollars.
I seriously questioned if this was meant to be. Maybe I was destined to work for my father’s construction company, live a mediocre life, and be “comfortable” and “practical” like most people. Once I overcame that, I never seriously contemplated quitting again. Every success and every failure just became an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Did you ever fail or make a substantial mistake in business or organization? Any serious challenges? How did you overcome and resolve it?
Ha! Of course! The biggest “mistake” (I don’t really believe in mistakes necessarily) was trying to do everything myself. However, I don’t regret that. Doing the first couple of launches by myself allowed me to learn all aspects of the business. I think that’s important. It also helped to recognize what I’m really good at, and what I really suck at. Hint: I suck at more things than I’m good at. That should be a major takeaway for people reading this. Figure out what you’re really good at and focus on that. Bring on people that are really good at doing the stuff you suck at. You’ll be way happier and way more successful.
- What action has the most impact that you’ve taken to reach your goal/s?
Making the decision that no matter what, I would be able to look my son in the eye and say, “You can do, or be, anything you want.” How could I say that honestly if I wasn’t living it? So even though I’ve had moments of flirting with the idea that “it wasn’t meant to be,” I don’t think I was ever really capable of quitting.
- What would you tell your younger/earlier self about following your dreams?
Don’t believe the bullshit stories you’ve been told. For far too long I let other people define who I was supposed to be. I was convinced that the things I was most passionate about were, by default, just hobbies. They weren’t something you pursue as a career. It wasn’t “work.” I was raised with an insane work ethic but it wasn’t until I gave myself permission to apply that work ethic to my passion that the world opened up. So I would tell my younger self, “You don’t need permission from your teachers, your parents, your friends, or society. You only need permission from yourself… so here it is.”
- What’s the best piece of business or personal advice YOU’VE ever received?
Don’t wait to get picked. Choose yourself (Seth Godin). If you want to write a book, write a book. If you want to make music, make music. If you want to make movies, make movies. Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Okay, now you can do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.” That’s not going to happen. Hollywood is not calling. You don’t need a publisher, a manager, an agent, or a record deal. Put yourself out there. No matter how scary is may seem, deliver. And then do it again. And again.
And don’t focus so much on the outcome. Define what your goal is. Truly understand WHY you want what you want (the WHY is the most important thing). Then be completely present and in the moment so you recognize the opportunities that WILL arise from you living your purpose. Keep moving forward. Create from your heart.
- What’s the #1 piece of advice you would give a new Wellness professional who really wants to make an impact in healthcare and people’s lives?
Just start. Don’t make plans to start. Don’t try to start. Don’t wait to start until the “perfect” time. There is no perfect time. Start. Now. You have something important to share with the world. We need you. While it’s important to have a plan, to understand the business, none of that matters if you never actually begin. No amount of planning will take the place of action anyway. So you might as well get going. And don’t be afraid to “fail.” (Hint: It’s not really failing as long as you keep going).
- What does a typical work day look like for you?
You want an actual work day or an ideal work day? Ideally, I wake up refreshed at around 6:30 before my wife and kids. I go downstairs, make coffee, drink lemon water and sit and meditate and/or do yoga. I make list of things I want to accomplish for the day. I do a few positive affirmations. Then I make a breakfast of perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs and crispy bacon for everyone. My wife and kids come downstairs smiling. We eat together as a family and then I head upstairs to get ready for a productive day.
Before I shower I check in to make sure there are no immediate fires I need to put out–no support tickets or emails that need attention right away.
I head out to my favorite coffee shop and systematically check things off my list. I move around and stretch every 30-60 minutes. I eat a healthy lunch without looking at my computer. I finish my day around 5:30 with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude.
Actual work day: I wake up at 6:19 with a giant 14-month-old clenched to my forehead. That’s because at 2:00 a.m. he woke up crying and the only way he would go back to sleep is by latching himself to mine or my wife’s face. I’m tired as hell. I pry off said 14-month- old, roll over, and go back to sleep. I wake up again at 7:55 and quickly grab my computer because there’s an e-mail I forgot to write the day before.
I head downstairs where my wife is already there trying to make breakfast. The 14-month-old is wrapped around her leg and/or throwing food on the floor and/or the iPad. The 5-year-old still hasn’t peed because apparently there’s a freaking monster in the toilet. He’s also upset because the 14-month-old threw food on the iPad which he’s not supposed to be using anyway.
I pour coffee and attempt to do 4 minutes of yoga while both children climb on top of me.
We eat as a family.
I quickly run upstairs and try to do some work as I sit on the toilet.
I skip shaving again because I have a meeting 5 minutes ago.
I get in my car and attend meeting on my phone while I drive.
I get to the coffee shop and try to focus on what I need to do. I drink more coffee. A lot more.
I get distracted for at least a half hour.
I finally focus and start getting things done. I get into a groove. I’m kicking ass.
Then I realize it’s 3:30 in the afternoon, and haven’t had lunch and I haven’t stood up, or peed, in hours.
I shove food in my face as I try to edit a podcast, or write an article, or design graphics for social media, or write an e-mail, or edit the documentary, or respond to support tickets, or… all of the above.
I have 3,917 browser windows open and feel overwhelmed.
I get distracted more.
I get into a groove again. Once again, I’m kicking ass.
It’s 7:12PM now and my wife is texting to ask (again) when I’m coming home. They miss me.
I miss them.
Finally I close my computer with a haunting feeling that I forgot to do something important… or simply that I didn’t get enough done today.
I lie to myself that I’ll get up at 6:30 tomorrow and have that ideal day.
I forgive myself.
- Stevie Wonder or The Beatles? (this, I personally must know.) 🙂
Stevie Wonder. All day.
Joe Rignola is the author of the best-selling books The Definitive Way to Go Gluten Free and Sow: Planting the Seeds for Health, Wellbeing, and a Superhero Life. He’s hosted several online health events and is the co-founder of Rebel Health Tribe, and the co-creator of Primal90: The Total Mind/Body Transformation System. Some of Joe’s favorite activities include writing, film making, cooking and spending time with his family. His main form of exercise is keeping up and playing with his 5-year-old and 14-month-old sons. Joe lives in the State of New York, about an hour outside of Manhattan, with his beautiful and supportive wife, Marissa, their ever-inquisitive and adventurous son, Mason, and fearless 14-month-old son, Gavin.