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From Professional Athlete to Bestselling Author and Beyond – The Story of a Most Unlikely Entrepreneurial Success

By August 24, 2014January 18th, 20248 Comments

It’s been a crazy week. This past Monday, we launched our new iOS mobile app to immediate and rave reviews, posted our 100th episode and surpassed 3 million podcast downloads.

Pretty awesome, thanks entirely to you guys — the audience. Most appreciated. But how did all these momentous milestones mysteriously transpire on the exact same day?

I call this the principle of Universal Synchronicity.

In my book, I wrote something like, “when purpose aligns with faith, the Universe will conspire to support you” (actually I don’t remember exactly what I said and right now I’m too lazy to look it up, but I digress). Toss service into the equation and that’s when stuff gets really crazy. My version of the age-old precept (and again I am paraphrasing), give of yourself freely and you will receive tenfold in return.

I don’t know why – it doesn’t make sense in the context of our logical three-dimensional world based in fact and physical laws like gravity. But that doesn’t change the fact that these karmic principles seem to indeed be law. Spiritual tenets I suppose. Truths you can’t touch, feel, see or hear. And yet without a doubt they are undeniable certitudes.

The aforementioned events in my life are a small thing in the context of life. They really don’t mean that much. And easy to chalk up as mere “coincidence.” But through direct experience I know better. Cosmic signals. Roadsigns along the journey. I am being supported. And for that I am incredibly grateful.

When you begin to pay attention — I mean center your attention, turn off the chattering mind, get present and really tune in to your environment — you begin to realize that even the tiniest observations, events and exchanges can carry meaning. Not always. And not necessarily in any external sense, but with the implication that everything is evidence — forensic tools to help calibrate the compass of your life’s trajectory.

To put things in perspective, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I have found myself in a metaphorical canoe without a paddle – unsure where I was being directed and just surrendering to the current, present and open to what might come downriver and proceeding only on intuition, instinct and faith.

Every time I allow myself to get out of the way, simply let go and allow, I end up someplace unexpected. This is not to be mistaken for giving up. In my experience it takes great courage to surrender the reins of control. And at the time it might not seem like it leads to such a great a place. I might (often?) temporally judge it as disastrous. But with the passage of time and the onset of objectivity, it’s almost unilaterally something great. Typically a better situation I could never have anticipated. And inevitably a superior outcome than I would have handpicked for myself if given the opportunity to dictate the result.

By contrast, when I am clinging to ego, fueled by character defects, self will, self-interest or base impulse (which is more often that I care to admit, although I guess I am admitting it now), my instincts are unreliable. My intuition is adrift. The result? The Universe will inevitably deliver me the lesson I need, which generally involves enduring a proper right-sizing. Time for another compass recalibration.

In either case, it’s always and without fail exactly where I am meant to be. I know this to be true because every time I peer into my rear view, it always adds up. Good or bad, the math is inevitably perfect. I wish I could access this perspective looking forward, but for whatever reason life just doesn’t work that way. That kind of sucks. But it’s also kind of great.

If I lost you, I get it. I still struggle mightily with these ideas. Too new age for me broseph – I’m out!

If you are still with me, I get that too. So how can I begin the process of getting right with myself?

I always say the best (and easiest) place to begin is with the food on your plate; what you put in your mouth. Change that vibration for the better and you just might be amazed by the extent to which your precious compass will begin to mysteriously recalibrate itself. A powerful baseline to begin anew; reconsider your life. And embrace the new journey that follows.

That’s my story. And it’s also the story of today’s guest – a guy who had a passion for healthy, clean, performance enhancing nutrition that catalyzed quite an amazing, unexpected journey to becoming recognized as one of the most prominent modern voices, athletes and entrepreneurs and authors in the world of health, fitness and nutrition.

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on plant-based nutrition and sports performance, it’s fair to say that Brendan is the guy leading the charge in the plant-based athletic performance kingdom. To be sure, he was the first guy I looked to personally (and continue to do so) for guidance, information, support and inspiration when I began exploring the nexus between performance and athleticism on a diet fueled entirely on plants. And suffice to say I’m not alone in this regard. It’s no understatement to say that Brendan deserves ample credit for truly galvanizing this global plantpowered evolution/revolution — his books, products and message largely responsible for unleashing thousands of of eager plant-based athletes into the wild…

Former professional ironman triathlete. 2-time Canadian 50K Ultrarunning champion. Formulator and face behind the wildly successful, ubiquitous and award-winning Vega line of plant-based nutritional products. Partner in the Zön Fitness Program and founder of  Thrive Foods Direct – a nationwide plant-based foods delivery service. Corporate and university guest lecturer and in demand public speaker on all things plant-based, Brendan has even spoken before the U.S. Congress. Bestselling author of the Thrive book series. Not enough? Brendan was also named one of the Top 40 Under 40 list of most influential people in the health industry by Natural Food Merchandise and serves as a successful performance consultant to world class, Olympic and professional athletes of all type and shape, including professional MMA fighters, cyclists, cycling teams like Garmin Sharp, and players in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

His latest venture? Thrive Magazine, a publication whose mission statement reads: to give all who aspire to continually improve the inspiration, tools, resources, and community to do so. Sound familiar? Indeed. I like to think of Thrive as a glossy print version of what I do my best to offer through this podcast — in depth interviews with the most innovative, inspiring people and personalities working to change the face of health, athletics, nutrition, creativity and entrepreneurship.

But beyond the labels, the books, the accomplishments, the accolades and the entrepreneurial success, at his core Brendan is simply a guy devoted to service – his compass properly calibrated to educate and inspire all people to access and embrace a more ethical, environmentally friendly, and healthy lifestyle. In certain respects, as he so candidly discloses during the course of our conversation, he is a most unlikely successful entrepreneur.

To bring it full circle, Brendan is a man who embodies this principle of Universal Synchronicity: a man driven by purpose; fueled by faith in said purpose; and devoted to service. And so it comes as no surprise that the Universe has conspired to support him. And in Brendan’s success we all benefit.

Brendan isn’t just an inspiration, he’s a friend I am proud to champion. I’m really pleased and honored to share his story with you today. Even if you think you know the guy, I assure you this conversation is different. I sincerely hope you enjoy the offering.

Peace + Plants,



Connect With Brendan: Website  | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


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  • nickls says:


    Long time listener to your podcast. I dig what you’re putting out to the world and I know that I’ve been able to grow as a result. Big fan.

    Your guest, Brendan Brazier, was talking about being an elite level triathlete, but pretty mediocre with respect to weight lifting, and mobility. In my opinion; endurance, strength and mobility are the three parts of fitness that shouldn’t be neglected. Let me cut to the chase. There exists a subculture of athlete called the Movement Culture. I like to describe the movement culture as parkour kids meet gymnastics with some yoga thrown in. It takes a great deal of strength, mobility and muscular endurance to do some of the holds.

    I hope this was enough to get you thinking about movement as a lifestyle. We need to move, we were born to run, to move and walk and jump, pull-push and lift and throw.

    Live life dramatically. Move. More. -Ido Portal

  • richroll66 says:

    Thanks for the comment. I am well aware of the Movement Culture and am a fan. In case you missed them, you might enjoy my two podcast interviews with Travis Brewer and Timothy Shieff — both incredible movement athletes.

  • Luke Jones says:

    Thanks for sharing Rich, such a good conversation. Really cool to hear two of my heroes talking about the things that matter!

    After listening to you on Joe Rogan’s podcast and reading your book, you were a huge inspiration behind me switching to a plant based diet, improving my health problems, and following my dreams by setting up my own site Health Room, where I explore and share ideas in plant based nutrition, movement, mindfulness and sustainability.

    So thank you so much! Keep spreading that message!


  • Rob Wilson says:

    Rich, great podcast with Brendan..keep up the good work.

  • KenZ says:

    Another great podcast! Had a couple of comments on a few items:

    A. Brendan had found it surprising that 80% of the people who buy Thrive buy it as a physical book instead of an ebook. As one of the ebook buyers, I totally wish I’d bought it as a real book instead; I read it through once, and almost never use it because it’s an ebook. To be frank, it’s a bit of a disaster as an ebook: the cookbook part refers to ingredients/other recipes in the book, but there’s no direct link, no way to jump, no way to easy get there. Yes, I can drag to that page, but now I’ve lost the page I was on, so I can’t remember what the other recipe for that meal was, so now I have to sift through, and basically it’s unusable for a meal plan following unless you also have a notebook and pencil on hand. It was frustrating enough that I just gave up as I didn’t feel like printing the entire thing out and holding together with a binder clip. Yeah, I could bookmark it digitally, but it’s so many extra steps to sift through a heavily marked ebook vs. just folding over a page, or putting in a physical bookmark into a real book. To be fair, it’s not your fault, just an issue with any cookbook sold as an ebook. To make something like this work in the digital form, it MUST have more app-like attributes, like the recipes and meal plans in an Evernote Food-type format.

    B. Paleo not sustainable. First up, I’m a vegan, so don’t take this as some pro-paleo rant. However, there is an argument to be made that if one were to eat paleo with the % of meat eaten proportional, albeit perhaps not in the same blocks, as people might have a long time ago, then they might only eat meat 2-3 times per week instead of using it as an excuse to eat meat for every meal. If the paleo /free range/grass fed crowd ate meat for 2-3 meals a week, there’d be a LOT more to go around. Just sayin. Of course, they’re welcome to it. I prefer my cashew cheese + garbonzo bean flour crust pizza better anyway.

    Loved the podcast, you’re both awesome and totally inspiring.

  • Denese Bottrell says:

    loved every bit of this interview. especially both of your admissions that while ya gotta talk about food, it’s not the only thing you want to build your platform around. i’ve hesitated having cooking classes or writing about food because i get so bored with it. on the other hand, i appreciated your reminder of the responsibility anyone on this wellness path has to share what we learn. i also appreciated the respect you two have for encouraging creative solutions and using capitalism to support big change. it’s so good to hear grounded in reality, yet open minded health advocates. thank you for doing what you do. also just listened (again) to Julie’s podcast on Katie Dalebout’s Wellness Wonderland….and, am off to finish Finding Ultra by the pool it’s been a PlantPowered weekend!!!

  • Paul says:

    I have been of the same mindset thinking that running and cycling is so limited in terms of range of motion. I started doing squats and have carefully worked my way up to 5 sets and 6 to 8 reps of 75 lbs. My legs are much more sturdy and feel more confident while climbing on the bike.

    I have inspected several poultry processing plants as part of my job. Some of the facilities debone and marinade. Half of the weight of the whole chicken (already de-feathered and gutted) goes to waste. The conveyor lines become clogged and coated with pulverized tissue and fat and an enormous amount of water must be used to clean the facility everyday. Another location grinds huge blocks of deboned chicken meat to the consistency of mash potatoes and then forms nuggets, “fingers” and patties. The formed material is dipped in a batter then fried, baked, fried again, then flash frozen. The cooking oil used is a massive centralized system, that is filtered and used over and over. I wouldn’t be surprised if the oil has trace amount of carcinogens since it is used for so long. All of the waste chicken bones and tissue is hauled un-refrigerated to pet food rendering facilities.

    I am not 100% vegan but I conscientiously limit the amount of meat I consume. I don’t accurately track my consumption of meat but I set a rough target of less than 1 lb of meat per week. See the 2012 article over at

  • Rhonda Herbst says:

    I love all your podcasts, but Brendan was really icing on the cake!!

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