I saw my dad for the last time on July 4.

He died on Nov. 7, 2017.

On that Fourth, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, and friends all gathered at my sister’s house for one nal big family reunion like we used to have as kids for the holiday. We knew full well this would be, for many of us, the nal time we would see him.

and Alzheimer’s to the point of it having whittled his brain and body to a shell of its former self, and it would often take some time for him to remember me. Luckily, the years of trouble I caused created deep grooves in his brain. Not even dementia could totally wipe me out of his memory. Seeing him on the Fourth was tough. He wasn’t the man I remember growing up with. The last time he was at his best was at my wedding in 2015. We are so grateful he was able to be there, able to remember the time, and able to live to see me nd the woman of my dreams. I remember looking at his hands this July Fourth, and they were no longer the strong, calloused hands that used to pound pizza dough for 35 years. They weren’t the ones that planted gardens and groves or made homemade wine at our childhood house in Long Island, NY. And they were no longer the ones that provided our family with the opportunity to live in this country. My one regret is that I didn’t tell my dad I loved him enough over our lives. Sicilian men are not like that. Well, that’s the stereotype, and our family lived that stereotype. It’s not to say the men and fathers in our family didn’t love their sons. It was just that the open expression of that love was not the norm. They came from a different time, a different era of life. But we knew they loved us. It was never a question. It was a constant. I gave him every reason to want to toss me to the curb, but he always was there.

Growing up, my dad and two of his three

brothers owned La Strada Restaurant together. For 35 years of our lives, those men would only take four holidays off: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and July Fourth. It was one of our favorite holidays because we would all be together and eat, cause trouble, eat more, play games, ride bikes, cause more trouble, eat, and be a loud Italian family. My wife, still to this day, is trying to get used to how loud we are. For years, my father was deteriorating with dementia

My dad and me in front of our restaurant sometime in the ‘70s

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3. Take care of your family.

Our dads worked 12- or 16-hour days to have a business that could support our moms being home to raise us. That way, we could be taken care of by family instead of by others. My dad and his brothers worked all day to afford our schools, cars, health insurance, food, clothes, and all the things a lot of families struggle with. My wife had to pay for all of that herself growing up. My dad paid for most of that for me. He showed his love by providing for the family so we could be in school and have the opportunities he and his family didn’t have when they had to leave Sicily for America. In my youth, I didn’t honor this as much as I should have. But later on, I made sure he knew he did good work. It’s always been awkward for me to say “I love you” to him or my mom. I still have a bit of that old-school Sicilian in me. But we left nothing unsaid that July Fourth. We said our goodbyes. We said, “I love you.” And we honored a well-lived life that taught us so much. I was reecting on plane rides and in between conferences on all the top lessons my dad taught me growing up that I still live and utilize as life’s rules and principles that dictate the choices and decisions I make. I’ve used these principles to live what I hope will be remembered as a good life. I hope they can help serve you in your pursuit of a well-lived life. 1. Always work with an immigrant’s work ethic. My dad taught us that work is a privilege. They came here with $5 in their pockets and did not once view work as a chore. They were proud to work, proud to sell, proud to build, and proud they had an opportunity to do good work and give to people. They never had this modern-day entitlement about work. It was part of how they could leave a mark for a better life for their family. It was their responsibility. 2. Do your best work no matter what it is. I remember being a kid, washing glasses at our restaurant and looking for any way to rush the job so I could get outside and play in the back alley. Then, I remember my dad grabbing me with the not-so-clean glasses I had just washed and he asking me, “Would you want to drink out of this glass if you were paying for it?” I said no. He then asked, “So why would you work this way here in our restaurant? The restaurant that pays for your food, school, toys, and everything?” My dad had a way of asking questions that made me feel guilty without having to yell. He then shared this key lesson: “I don’t care if you are a garbage man; do it well. Someone owns that business and they deserve that for paying you.” I learned that day to do things well. I later learned in life how you do anything is how you do everything. Life can be simple.

Throughout all my years, the one lesson that we saw lived every day between my dad and his three brothers was the fact that they believed in one thing: At the end of the day, family will be the ones by your side. Take care of them even when you might not be getting along. Forgive them and come back to them. I watched my dad and his brothers give all they had, as one, for each other. If one went down, they all came down together. An uncle of mine became a gambling addict for a period of years and lost tens of thousands of dollars on bets. My Dad and his brothers would be there, money in hand, to make sure his brothers’ family was never affected until they could get him the help he needed. They were loyal to each other almost to a fault. But I saw in those acts the way we should treat family. I strive every day to live that. 4. Take care of and give to your guests. During 35 years of owning a restaurant, the man would always overdeliver. He would always give an extra serving here, a few extra garlic knots there, or spend a few moments at a table sitting with guests. My dad was the charismatic one, the talker (it is where I got it, after all) who would schmooze our restaurant guests, know their names, and ask about their kids. It’s why we had guests who came to our restaurant for all 35 years we had it. He was a man of the people. It’s probably why I often go the extra distance with my coaches and students and jump on calls even when my schedule is crazy. Or it’s why I offer free coaching calls when I present, because I was taught to give to our guests. Growing up in a Sicilian household, we gave of our food, fed anyone who walked in, and poured wine to make everyone feel welcome. Taking care of the people close to us and the people who trust us was a simple choice my dad taught us to make. 5. Love the simple things. My dad didn’t understand why we would want to go out to a restaurant or why we would want to buy wine. He would always say, “Why go out when your mother and grandmother can cook? And what’s better than our restaurant?” We had a massive garden, made our own wine, and ate homemade food our whole lives. He took us to Italy to see the family, and made sure we loved soccer and the simple things that men who loved a simpler life and worked their whole lives took pleasure in. I didn’t give this lesson as much weight as I do today. My wife and I live overlooking vineyards, away from the hustle and bustle. We cook six days a week, except for date night, and we enjoy wine, sunsets, gardens, our work, and trips to Italy to see our friends. Those simple things keep love in our hearts, work in our souls, and memories as the treasures of a lifetime.

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Anna and I were recently in Vegas for the Beachbody Leadership conference, and we had a chance to try a new restaurant at the Aria Hotel. We were introduced to one of the most amazing wines — a 2009 Rioja from Spain called Imperial that was bottled ve years before even being served and in a can cellar for another 20 years — and it was one of the best wines I’ve ever had, to the point that I bought a case and shipped some as gifts to mentors, teammates, and family. We also picked up a couple reminders of what it takes to deliver an impeccable customer experience that would cause someone to write about it in their newsletter.

<< Anna and I tasting wine in Las Vegas

and told us why it was priced well below its value, which was simply because Spanish wines are not as recognized as Californian wines or Italian wines.

That’s called price juxtaposition, where you compare what you offer to something else people can quickly relate a value to and demonstrate how what you are offering is cheaper than the alternative and that you’re getting a hell of a deal. Right in that paragraph are a few other major sales tools you can deploy in your business that are often missed. Tell the story and the origin of your offer and why it is special compared to other things out on the market. Stories sell. The cherry on top of this is how he handled objection. Because my wife, a little concerned about the higher price point and not sure of the wine, was concerned about if we didn’t like it. That’s when he kicked in the guarantee!

Here are two quick tips for you to apply to your business. I know I will with mine.

Love your craft as to be so condent you will give an unconditional guarantee.

I know my wine pretty well, but this being a Vegas menu, it was a little over-the-top, and so were the prices. I was stuck on what to choose, so I asked their sommelier for a recommendation. I gave him a price range of about $150, and that was about it. Now, what he did from there is what I consider well-trained customer service. I believe this guy had an innate love of his craft, so when I say he was “well-trained,” it’s because all great salespeople are trained and study their craft. Selling is an art. People who do it well are rewarded not just in sales and revenue, but in experience, value, and helping others. We were treated to a memorable experience and discovered something we love because our sommelier knew his craft and was unafraid to recommend a wine. He did what all great salespeople do — asked questions to discover our tastes and understand what we had experienced before and made two recommendations. Choice is always good for selling. This was his offer. Wine A: a little under the price range we asked, and he told us its great qualities. We were sold on it. Then he offered Wine B. He started with the words, “Now, if you’re willing to go just slightly higher than your $150 range into the $175 range, I have something SPECIAL .” This was a classic upsell, and my love of sales noted it right away with a smile. I don’t mind being upsold as long as the sale is justied. (A suggestion for you — always offer the upsell with justication, and you can increase your sales to your higher-priced, higher-value offers like clockwork). Here’s how he justied the upsell. He told us the story of this wine, the origin, and the reason it was a hidden gem among wines. And then he compared it to other wines of its quality to give us a reference point

He was so decisive and sure of the craft that, for a bottle of wine, he said, “If you don’t like it, I will buy it back and drink it myself!”

BAM! That’s a special kind of guarantee, because it said, “This would be my choice. I would enjoy it and not blink an eye.”

There was so much to learn from that sales experience that I couldn’t stop talking about it. I hope it helps you sit back at the close of this year and evaluate where in your business you can use some more quality, thoughtful, and well-engineered salesmanship. Here are four questions to ask yourself and work on for 2018.

a. Do you have at least a two-price offer and program?

b. Do you have the story and origin of your offer?

c. Do you have a price juxtaposition?

d. Do you have an unconditional guarantee?

And nally, one last takeaway from this amazing dinner:

Personality is differentiation today.

All things being equal, who you are as a person is a quality that separates you from the masses. Our waiter and sommelier was sharp, witty, funny, and on point to the level of being a sellable benet that


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In 2010, I chose to see the shift to online, and the oncoming reality that more people would choose at-home tness. I could see people would want more time and convenience. We were already becoming a stressed-out society, and the mobile phone was becoming an addiction that would drain our attention. That’s why I chose to let go of my ego and my reality that I owned a brick-and-mortar facility. I would need to not hold on to the 10 years prior, learn to let go, and skate to where a new puck was shifting. How long have you been idly sitting by without looking into the crystal ball of reality and forecasting that change would be necessary? What choices are you making about how you continue to earn money, where you work, how you live, how you invest, and how evolutionary you are? I chose not to listen to the critics about network marketing companies. That became an additional way to make money that sheltered me from the commoditization of the studio business that has left so many who came up with me at the same time in the industry, sliding further back or stuck at the same place. It left them barely scraping by, barely hanging on to relationships, stressed-out, wondering why things that used to work so well were no longer getting the job done. I keep using the word “choose” because it is the gift — the gift I want you to unwrap. You are always free to choose. Choose better. Choose differently. I chose to not live under the onslaught of low margins or having to live in one location because I had started in brick in mortar. That fact didn’t mean I had to stay there. I chose to move to Santa Monica for two years because I could. How? Because for years prior, I had studied new things and asked different questions. Now, my work and my money could move with me. I chose to move to Venice and Sherman Oaks for two years before nally settling in Temecula — wine country. I could bounce around and test the waters of where I wanted to nally settle down only because I got evolutionary in my thinking. I share this because you must gift yourself the challenge to question where you live, how you choose to live, and where and how you make money. Is the excuse, “I don’t know how to do the ‘online thing’” still on your lips? Hey, what courses did you take, books did you read, coaching programs did you invest in, or masterminds did you seek out? If your business is struggling because of “Amazon, and online, cheaper solutions” or you name it, just insert the reason. Hey, what did you do to create more value, differentiation, or customers who are so completely married to you that no force could tear you asunder? You can’t make more money?

Happy Holidays. I want to give you a gift this year. I can’t wrap it. I can’t mail it. I can only point to it.

You will be responsible for giving this gift to yourself. I will shine the light on its importance and hope you nd this under your tree Christmas morning and carry it into every new year from here on out.

This year, gift yourself and those around you ... clarity .

Clarity in self, in business, in thinking, and in your future.

Decide who you are going to be. I mean really decide who you are going to be.

This year, I watched many people who professed to be committed to their missions wafe, second-guess themselves, and back down from their commitments and convictions because times got tough. Or they gave up because distractions and other seemingly easier paths appeared. There is one undeniable truth: How you do anything is how you do everything. Who you are, what you believe in, and your mission should not be so easily swayed because things are tough. They should be like a marriage — secure through good times and bad. Decide who you are going to have as customers. If you want tire kickers and people who can’t afford you, then be okay with that. Be okay with struggling for money; be okay with returns; and be okay with people who never ascend to paying you more. You need to decide to go after people who can afford to pay you, see what you offer as valuable, and want you to guide them to higher and higher levels of performance. Decide what you have to do every day to earn a place at the table of excellence. If you believe you can be half in and half out of your life, well then, be okay with what you get. It could very well be that lack of consistency in your commitments is the core reason why you’re struggling to break through. I know this is a little tough love for your stocking this year. But if you decide to choose differently, you can be a gift to so many others around you that it’s worth being on Santa’s tough-love list. Be thankful you get to decide. We all have to acknowledge the reality of choice and decision. It’s the great equalizer, and the grand opportunity. It is the wrapping around this gift. Have you been in your industry for ve years, 10 years, or 20 years, and you’re still struggling nancially? And now, online and at- home solutions threaten you? Hey, what decision did you make for thousands of days that has left you nancially struggling so you are being threatened vs. choosing to switch up your game plan? Every day, you get the chance to decide and choose to shift gears.


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Vito Lafata •


a coach, buy a course, read books, or get into a mastermind where sales are talked about — not just some feel-good mastermind, but one that offers a road map to help you sell more of what you do and what you offer. I teach this for building online brands at In the vein of accurate thinking, what you want to avoid at all costs is delusional thinking. It’s a mental hazard that can drain the bank account, drain your belief in yourself, and drain your relationships. Don’t glom onto the utterly deceptive and meaningless facts like views and trafc are the end goal. Sales are the end goal — no sales, no change, no impact, no business. If you want more money, study more sales. Nothing happens without sales. My father taught me to be proud of that. It was the greatest gift besides our immigrant work ethic he never let slip from our minds. There are always a lot of useless or misleading facts swirling around as we are indoctrinated to watch and emulate media and entertainment personalities. And while you can always nd a few people to support any idea you hold dear, it nevertheless doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong. It just makes you feel better about yourself. The trick and skill of the entrepreneur is to wade through all that BS and only nd the actual, useful, meaningful, revealing, and relevant facts and hold them up, keep your eye on them, and listen to them. All the belief in the world can’t change facts. Money follows facts. Period.

Today, with social media as one of the major strategies for growing your brand, we are slipping into giving too much weight to false metrics, such as views, likes, and trafc. This is dangerous thinking — inaccurate, to be exact. The ght for more likes, views, and trafc shouldn’t be your top priority. Time is precious and you gotta know where to spend it.

Money and sales = business.

The rest = ego, delusion, and no business.

If someone pays you money you can take to the bank, you got something. If they just hit like, comment, and engage but never part with their money, you got nothing. Your product isn’t marketable. Your service is not valued. This desperate desire for likes and being liked or watched live is something social media has approved, as if that equates to success — and more importantly, money — and it’s got you chasing unfruitful behaviors. It has you spending a ton of time trying to display your life for consumption and your knowledge for free. Views mean nothing unless they equal sales. Remember that. It’s not popular to hear and painful to realize, but ultimately accurate. Accurate thinking can save you a lot of angst, despair, and false hope, which leads to letdown. Money comes from sales, not views.

To be fair, there are ways to monetize views. If you don’t know them and you’ve been getting a lot of views and trafc but no sales, get


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didn’t dwell on it or allow it to consume my energy and my focus. When I closed my studio after 10 years, I looked fondly one last time, remembered the good and the bad, felt thankful for my time there, and then aimed straight into the new pivot I was making. I aimed to be a completely online entrepreneur and focused on what that would require of me in terms of study, attention, attitude, and more. The list goes on. Where might you need to start seeing a pivot for your life? Are you still doing business the way you were ve years ago? Ten years ago? Are you worried about what people will say about you if you decide to pivot and make a change? Is your ego the Achilles heel that will take you down, or worse, have you slowly withering away in a world that moves faster every day and, in the grand scheme of it all, rewards only the brave, the courageous, and the legacy chasers?

If you’re in one market for a long time, it’s either going to start plateauing on you, going down, or you’re going to have to keep reinventing inside the market. I didn’t know I was going to become a teacher of visionaries in 2002 when I became a trainer. I didn’t even know I would be a studio owner when I started out. I sure didn’t envision being an online entrepreneur. But I live by a set of principles that dene my choices, shape my decisions, and help me navigate the unknown of constant change. One of my rules of life and principles of conduct is to always be evolutionary. A staunch advocate of science-based thinking, I’m fascinated by the concept of evolution. I even named my old studio Fitness Evolution because I believed as a core principle that tness would always be evolving. Our tagline was “tness evolved” and it still applies today, even though I no longer have a studio. Fitness is constantly evolving as we learn more about the body, as our behavior changes with technology, as we understand more about human psychology, and as our habits evolve with the modern age. It’s because of this willingness to evolve that my career has been long and fruitful while many others have suffered. Even in times when change comes and dips occur, I can see further down the road and make adjustments or do what I like to think of as pivots. I allowed the pivots to come and didn’t ght them. I didn’t lose emotional energy with sadness about moving on or letting go. It’s not that I didn’t mourn or have nostalgia for parts of my past, I just

In a world where you need to be able to move on a dime, the greatest asset you can have is belief.

Belief is the strongest asset and strength a man, woman, or child can have.

When I left the studio world, I believed in what I was doing. I believed that the online world was something we couldn’t ignore, so I moved without worrying or fretting about what anyone would say. When you believe in and stand up for something, others will only have two choices: a) get out of the way, or b) come around to your point of view.

Which one do you choose?

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sell, to market, to change, to be disciplined and consistent, and to develop your mind.

Odds are at some point, you’ve clawed, scratched, and dug deep. I know that about you, even if we are only acquaintances. Never forget that your customers and who you choose to do business with have as well. And even though most of you who have begun or are at the top of your mountain don’t expect it, it’s nice to know it, and to know that others, such as myself, respect it.


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Vito Lafata •

>>> Continued from page 2

6. Honor our heritage.

8. Have a sense of humor.

When my dad came to America, there was a lot of discrimination, as people feared the immigrants taking their jobs. It’s sad how that conversation still exists today over immigration. While many immigrants coming over changed their names to blend in, my father refused. He taught us to never forget where we came from. A proud Sicilian, they always took us back to Sicily to spend months in our youth knowing where we came from, to speak the language and know our history. It was as simple as teaching us to root for both our national teams in soccer, Italy and USA. My dad would say, “Never forget where we come from. But the world is meant for all of us.” I wish the world would learn to honor the diversity and heritage of the many people this Earth was meant for. 7. Sacrice for what you believe in. My dad didn’t think of things the way I do today in the sense of mission, message, and ghting for a better vision for this world. He sacriced his time, energy, and focus to provide his family with a better life. That was his mission. And he fought for it every day, in the restaurant, working with his three brothers in a country where English wasn’t his rst language. But they built something that provided for three families, was remembered by every person who ate at La Strada, and gave people the simple pleasure of a good meal in a good place, with enough leftovers to take home for another meal tomorrow.

My dad had a running joke whenever I brought a girl to the house or the restaurant. His rst question to her was, “What, you can’t you do any better?” It always made them laugh. They felt at home, and then he would go off into the wine cellar for some grappa and wine. Poor girls didn’t know what to do. But that sense of humor helped everyone who met my dad feel a little better. I believe we could all use more humor in our lives and in our work to keep the perspective that life should be lived to its fullest. 9. Be patient and have tolerance. He never told me, “Be patient and be tolerant.” He lived it. How did I know? Because he should have killed me 100 times. I wasn’t always this well-behaved growing up, and he had many chances to write me off, but he never did. Through school suspensions, troubles in life, and issues with money, he just did what he felt was his responsibility, which was to take care of us, give us another shot, and set us up for better success. That was how he showed us patience to learn, patience to grow, and the tolerance to accept that we are all different. But life is our work, we are made up of our history, and we sacrice for the things closest to us. Thanks for all the lessons, Dad. I hope up there you see the work we’re doing, the heritage we are honoring, and the family we are taking care of. I love you.

-Vito Lafata

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What did you do at night? Did you bemoan selling and avoid the study of marketing and business? Did you choose to do what everyone else was doing? Well, no wonder your results are what they are in life. I am neither ippant, insensitive, nor mean. I simply know how real decisions, or lack thereof, can entrap, depress, resign, and create situations that feel hopeless, and at times, even paralytic — although these situations don’t have to be. That’s the gift you can unwrap. You can chose for this to not be negative. I am not ignorant to the fact that everything I shared above is easier said than done. But if you can’t yet see, then fumble along. Scratch and claw if you must. Stay true to your commitments and beliefs, in a world where so many don’t. It makes you different — strong.

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would cause me to part with my money in this establishment over the thousands of options in a crowded marketplace like Vegas. How much of your personality is infused in your business? What about that of your staff? Are you checking in on the quality of how you and everyone who works for you shows up on a daily basis? Are you studying the quality control of everyone’s personality who is on the front lines of your business? It can be the difference between why they chose your trainers, coaches, front desk, help desk, and the list goes on. Hire for personality. The rest is coachable. I hope this mini- training on an impeccable customer experience is going to help push you to new levels in 2018.

I think more industry conferences should have sessions on choice and decision.

And since you are reading this, congratulations are in order. You get a gold star in that class. You get it. You are here deciding right now to take this seriously and to invest in your ability to choose more for yourself — to evolve, to study, to practice, to get uncomfortable, to

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Fitnesspreneur Life •

Published by The Newsletter Pro •

807 Brooks Ave. Venice, CA 90291



Lessons From Dad


Impeccable Customer Experience


Give Yourself the Gift of Choice This Year


Don’t Value Being Interesting Over Being Meaningful


It May Be Time for You to Pivot


The Power of Intention



Decide today that you’re going to take action, despite how scary it looks. Decide you’re not going to let “what if” or “What if it doesn’t work out?” be the thoughts in the driver’s seat of your mind.

success elevates you is huge. I was happy that it helped some people choose to invest in mentorship. You can never go wrong with that choice. You ever experience that in your life? I hope you do. Because the lesson here is that it wasn’t luck to be able to pay things forward. Instead, it was intention. The act of setting intentions to achieve more in our lives is the secret sauce to believing you can complete the things that compel you in your heart. Setting intentions is the driving force that helps you navigate doubt, push you outside your comfort zone, and play the long game of pursuing your dreams. When you decide to be in the driver’s seat, you get to work on being of value to the people whose circles you intend to inhabit and worry less about the things in your way. That’s the power of intention.

I had to jump into the seat of countless personal and professional development seminars to earn my way onstage with one of the best in the world, Brendon Burchard. Joining his mastermind — a dream I had for ve years — didn’t happen overnight. It started four years ago at his High Performance Academy event, when I turned to my wife, Anna, and said, “I will be up there one day and in his mastermind when I can add value back to not just the mastermind, but to him.” I was lucky to be able to share a few minutes on stage with him. (Thanks, Maggie Kirkland at Honeysuckle Photography, for capturing this for us.) He’s added value to my world, the difference a mentor and a hand reaching back can make in how quickly

Are you using it? How? Tell us about it. You never know who is reading this, who can reach back and give you that helping hand.


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