Building a Rebel Health Tribe
an interview with Michael Roesslein
Michael Roesslein is a Chicago-born, straight-talking, sun-loving filmmaker who’s on a mission to help people improve their health so they can live longer, happier lives. He’s also a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, a CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach, and the co-founder of Rebel Health Tribe. Michael’s latest project is The Human Longevity Project, an upcoming documentary film that will take you on “an exciting journey around the globe to learn ancient secrets from the planet’s healthiest centenarians – and shows you how to apply their wisdom to our modern world.”
- Tell us about your business – what’s your mission; your soul’s purpose and why you created your wellness business or service?
Well, right now we have three businesses – Rebel Health Tribe, The Human Longevity Project, and Fire Cream. My mission would be to help as many people as I can to improve their health, live longer, happier, and more fulfilling lives, and to do so in a way that allows me to build the life that I want in the process, to do the same for myself. Rebel Health Tribe was first – the other two are new or not quite launched yet – and it was created because we could get more accomplished (larger audience, bigger impact, more “success”) together than we could individually. Joe and I have very different skill sets/strengths, but combined we make a fairly well-rounded team!
- Tell us about your journey and your story….what got you to this point today?
For the full, unedited version of this, I’d recommend checking out the first episode of our Rebel Health Tribe Podcast. It’s much longer than I could possibly write here. That being said – I was 28 or 29, unhealthy, depressed, overweight, relying on intoxication, distraction, and numbing any way possible. It was either continue life that way, end it, or change. I got back in the gym, went back to school to get a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology, found the CHEK Institute (which taught me a new way of living, essentially), started working with clients, teaching classes, found Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) and went through that training, started working with more complex clients – then met Joe and we launched Rebel Health Tribe in late 2014.
The initial launch almost killed us (literally, we almost ran ourselves into the ground), but since then – there’s been steady growth, fun times, huge impact, and lots of small successes. With the new project (Human Longevity Project) we’re partnered on, we’re looking to have a much larger impact, hitting a much larger audience. I’ve done a TON of work on myself – in regards to physical (lost 40 lbs, training for my first amateur boxing match at age 37), mental (endless education), emotional (have worked with several excellent coaches, teachers, and read a number of books on emotional health/healing), and spiritual (developed a meditation practice, explored Buddhist teachings, and read philosophy/spiritual teachings/books). I’m in a much different place than I was 10 years or so ago when I started this journey.
- How are you changing the face of healthcare and/or the wellness industry? How do you create, innovate or break the rules in healthcare?
I think something we’ve done that’s fairly unique is bringing together dozens of world class doctors, practitioners, teachers, coaches, trainers, therapists, etc… to one central location to provide an audience with a single resource of quality information among many topics/subjects that they can trust and rely on for improving their own health/life. We’ve stayed out of the drama that tends to pop up in every industry (even health & wellness), and don’t work with people whose mission/values we don’t feel align with ours. (In it for the $$$ only, for example). If we don’t trust someone as being honest, in integrity, etc… we simply don’t work with them. That, in itself, could be considered a revolutionary act at this point.
The documentary film series we’re currently working on will be unlike anything previously created/released in the health/wellness space – and we hope it will raise the bar for everyone else going forward. Oh, and we say words like “bullshit” quite often – call it like we see it, be ourselves, and don’t sugarcoat anything.
- What personal and professional legacy or impact do you want to leave on the world?
I haven’t really thought about this, and don’t care much what people think about me, honestly. I guess I’d like to be remembered as someone who made a positive impact on a lot of people and on the world itself. We’d like to change the current trajectory of humanity – which is likely headed for extinction if we don’t change our ways as a species.
- In your opinion, what is the most significant factor in healing or overall wellness?
Your mental, emotional, and spiritual state. I’ve gone down the functional medicine rabbit hole, the nutrition rabbit hole, the exercise/training rabbit hole, etc… and have concluded that it’s things like trauma, subconscious beliefs, spiritual confusion, fear, lack of confidence, unhealthy/toxic relationships, etc… that really prevent people from “getting healthy” or accomplishing their health-related goals. Of course diet, lifestyle, etc… plays a role – but I have found that those big intrinsic factors can be the catalyst or the blockade, depending on how they’re faced/dealt with (or not).
- What do you wish people realized when it comes to their health or about the wellness industry?
That nobody is going to do it for them. They need to be their own advocate. Nobody can “fix” or “heal” them. That’s something I ran into a lot when I was working with individual clients. “Can you fix me?” “Can you heal me?”No, I can’t. Nobody can. And you have to believe you can, decide what you want, and work backwards to get it. Yes, a good practitioner, doctor, coach, therapist, etc… (or all of the above for some people) can be extremely valuable. Yes, reading books and watching videos and taking courses can be extremely valuable – but ultimately, someone telling you what to do, a book teaching you what to do, none of that is going to actually do it for you.
People often need to fundamentally change the way they live. They need to face old traumas and emotional pain. They need to re-evaluate the way they think about themselves, they think about everything. That type of work is hard, and can be pretty scary – but changing the programming is key to being able to do the rest of the stuff. (See: people who “know what to do”, but “can’t stick to it”. Why not? Why can’t they stick to it? Programming…)
- 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?
It took partnering up with someone who knew how to do everything I didn’t. (Web stuff, email marketing, etc…) I had loads of great content, was a pretty good/knowledgeable coach/practitioner, but I had very little business skill, didn’t know how to market myself, didn’t know the first thing about online marketing, etc…. I struggled and failed often for the first 5+ years of being in this industry. Once we teamed up, we’ve been pretty successful from the start – big launch (that almost killed us), and very steady (close to 50% annually the last 3 years) growth since then.
- Tell us about the start-up scares: Was there a moment where you ever seriously contemplated giving up?
At least once/day for the first 5 years. I was trying to make it in this industry. It was a struggle the whole time. Then during our launch, I debated quitting probably every 10 minutes because we risked everything, were working 15+ hour days for months, and had no idea if it was actually going to work. I faced the very real possibility that I’d end up back behind a bar or doing something else for a living. Since the launch in early 2015, I haven’t had to worry about that or consider quitting/doing something else, but it was very real for a long time – mainly because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing from a business standpoint, and I carried a TON of baggage. (Negative thinking, no confidence, subconscious patterns, etc…)
- Did you ever fail or make a substantial mistake in business or organization? Any serious challenges? How did you overcome and resolve it?
Yes, see above answer When I created a massive online-based educational program over the course of 6 months (consumed my whole life) and then sold (maybe) 10 of them, I earned about 3 cents/hour for my time spent. I thought people would just appear and buy it. They didn’t. I had no idea what I was doing, and I definitely wanted to quit.
I sat on that content for 2 years until Joe and I met and decided to spruce it up, rebrand it, and launch it as the flagship educational product of Rebel Health Tribe. We then did $30k+ in sales in the first month. I overcame/resolved it by partnering with someone who knew what they were doing with digital marketing, and by reaching out to (having the confidence to reach out to) a lot of people in the industry who I looked up to, admired, etc… to help us market/promote it, which I wasn’t able to do before.
- What action has the most impact that you’ve taken to reach your goal/s?
Personal development via emotional work, spiritual work, learning business, marketing – doing high level business coaching, and partnering with someone (and others) who have skills that I didn’t have. Accepting what I didn’t know/wasn’t good at, and ultimately trusting others to do that type of work on a team while I stuck to things that are my strength. (Content creation, networking, building relationships, social media, teaching/speaking, etc…)
- What would you tell your younger/earlier self about following your dreams?
Figure out what your dreams actually are. (I didn’t really know – didn’t have clear goals, etc…) Don’t buy into the BS that you need this degree or that degree or whatever – I have a ton of pieces of paper collecting dust and a lot of knowledge I don’t use. Don’t spend time doing “work” you hate, in a career that isn’t rewarding in any way – and clear your space of negative people/unhealthy relationships. This would have saved me about 15 years of trouble.
- What’s the best piece of business or personal advice YOU’VE ever received?
Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept the situation – all else is madness. – Eckhart Tolle (Don’t complain or fight reality).Not giving a shit (can I say “shit”?) what other people think about me, my life, etc… that’s the #1 thing that changed most everything. I used to live my life constantly concerned with what everyone thought about me, trying to gain approval, get everyone to like me, etc… etc… and when I dropped that and started being me, who I really am, things changed. I know that’s cliché… but it’s true and it really happened.
- 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?
Learn marketing and business. Unfortunately, I know a ton of great professionals, practitioners, doctors, etc. who could make a HUGE impact, but have no idea what they’re doing with business, marketing, especially online – where everything is going (If not there already). Also, don’t try to fit into what you think you should look like, act like, what you think people are looking for. You do you and your people will find you. Be authentic.
- What does a typical work day look like for you?
Well, most days are work days when I’m not traveling. I wake up almost every day between 5:30-6:30am and try to have a good hour or so to myself for things like meditation, journaling, going outside/getting some sun (very important health tip), doing a little qigong, drinking a glass of water, etc… I usually start working around 7:00 or 7:30 (I’m on the west coast and my biz partner is on the east coast, so that’s already 10am or later there). I start with e-mails/social media correspondences, etc… We have meetings usually around 8am my time.
I generally work until I go to the gym, which is late morning. I train for close to 2 hours (boxing), come home, eat, go outside again/sun (important), then work for several more hours in the afternoon. I try to take short breaks every 30 minutes and longer breaks every 90 minutes or 2 hours. I stop working by 5pm most days, and spend the evenings with my wife/animals. I batch cook most of our food on Sundays so that we only have to re-heat things and not cook during the week. Saves a ton of time.
- Stevie Wonder or The Beatles? (this, I personally must know.)
Not really into Stevie Wonder.
Michael Roesslein is the co-founder of Rebel Health Tribe, an online-based health and wellness company founded in 2014. He holds a Masters degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion, in addition to being a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach. Michael has been a guest on a number of health-related podcasts, webinars, and a speaker at several national events since entering the health & fitness industry in 2008. He’s known for his ability to simplify and explain complex subjects in the fields of health, functional medicine, fitness, and nutrition – and to present information in a straight-forward, no-nonsense style.
Currently, Rebel Health Tribe is partnered/producing The Human Longevity Project – a documentary series being filmed all over the world on the subject of optimal health and longevity. Michael is originally from the Chicago area, and currently resides in San Diego, California. When not working on building Rebel Health Tribe, he spends his time cooking, traveling, boxing, hanging out on the beach, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. You can find him on social media here: Rebel Health Tribe and The Human Longevity Project on Facebook.