How to Overcome Setbacks and Achieve Your Goals with Chris Albert
Become the best version of yourself.
Chris Albert is a trainer, entrepreneur and US Marine Corps Veteran. As host of The Warrior Soul Podcast, Chris delivers strategies and information to help the US Military Veteran Community. In today’s show, Chris shares how you can pick yourself up after setbacks to achieve your personal and professional goals.
“You need good people in your life. You can’t just be an island.”
Warrior Soul podcast
Chris Albert is a personal trainer, podcaster, entrepreneur and US Marine Corps Veteran. His platform, The Warrior Soul Podcast, delivers tools, tactics, strategies and ideas to help the US Military Veteran Community live their absolute best lives. Chris strives to help his audience find positivity in their lives, regardless of where they are in the moment. His passion comes from the fact that Chris has experienced numerous failures, ranging from crashing and burning his first business to living out of his car for months while trying to get back on his feet. Chris has interviewed many notable people for his podcast, including Robert Greene, Gary John Bishop, Bas Rutten, and Les Stroud. He’s also coached and trained numerous professional bodybuilders and fitness models, and he currently heads Fortress Marine Anchors as the company’s General Manager.
“Try to become the best version of yourself.”
Warrior Soul podcast
Hello, I’m Michael Kurland, CEO and Co-Founder of Branded Group, an award-winning California based facility and construction management company that services multi-site commercial properties such as retail, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions.
Welcome to the BeBetter podcast! Each week, I interview thought leaders from a variety of industries who will share their stories and the lessons they learned as they strive to be better for their clients, partners, employees, and their community. Are you ready to Be Better?
Michael Kurland (00:02):
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the BeBetter podcast. I’m your host, Michael Kurland. Joining me today is a very special guest. Someone who’s known me for about 37 years, I’d say.
Chris Albert (00:18):
A long ass time.
Michael Kurland (00:22):
Good friend of mine, Chris Albert. Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris Albert (00:27):
Michael Kurland (00:27):
You’re welcome. Let the audience know who you are and what you do.
Chris Albert (00:32):
My name is Chris Albert. I am General Manager of Fortress Anchors. I am also a trainer and podcaster.
Michael Kurland (00:43):
Yes, podcaster. Audience, we’re going to get into what Chris podcasts on a little bit later in the show. I grew up with this guy. I’ve known him since the first grade. A little quick story about growing up with Chris in the first grade: Chris and I did not get along in first grade. I’m not a fighter. I’m not a big guy, but we used to bicker a lot in first grade and may have pushed each other around a little bit. I may have pushed him around a little bit. I regret that probably ever since the fifth grade because that’s when Chris started getting into bodybuilding, and I cannot push Chris around since that day. Chris, you got anything to elaborate on that?
Chris Albert (01:29):
Mike tortured me a little bit in the first grade. I was, in all honesty, a really weird kid. You kind of have to understand my background to understand why I’m so weird, but people would come up to me – people told me this later- and they say, “Hey, what’s your name, kid?” And I’d be like, “Well, it’s Chris Albert, of course.”
Michael Kurland (01:53):
I think you actually said Christopher Brian Albert. I think that’s how you used to introduce yourself in first grade.
Chris Albert (02:01):
I was a weird little kid, and I think Mike was pretty justified at the time for picking on me. We became friends, and our group of friends has remained friends from first grade all the way up to present day. I don’t know many people who’ve been able to hold friendships that long.
Michael Kurland (02:23):
I remember your mom worked at the school, and she pulled me aside one day and said, “Why are you picking on him? Why are you picking up my son? Stop doing that.” And I was like, “Okay.” You have to understand Chris’ mom has like the quintessential Jersey accent.
Chris Albert (02:38):
Michael Kurland (02:38):
So, she was saying that in her very New Jersey accent.
Chris Albert (02:42):
Little Italian woman.
Michael Kurland (02:48):
She’s not scary, but when you were in first grade, I was definitely like, “Okay. I will leave your son alone and I’ll be friends with him.” I think that’s how we actually became friends because of your mom.
Chris Albert (02:58):
Michael Kurland (02:58):
Like Chris said, we have been friends since pretty much halfway through first grade, so I think we were six years old at the time.
Chris Albert (03:12):
Michael Kurland (03:12):
Me, you, John, and Jed were probably like – I’m not bragging audience but- we were probably the four most advanced first graders at Marvin Elementary School in 1986 or 1985 or whatever year that was. We all kind of stuck together and we’re still all friends to this day. I don’t know many people that are still friends with people that they were friends with in first grade like the way we are. So, Chris, welcome to the show. This is the BeBetter podcast. Audience, they want to hear your BeBetter story. You have a very, very interesting story of a woven path of how you’ve gotten to where you’re at. I’d really love for you to maybe start right after college and give a quick synopsis. Take your time and tell the pertinent details. I’ll probably press you on some stuff I want you to hit on along the way and then where you’re at now. Let’s start with where you were right after you graduated school.
Chris Albert (04:15):
I graduated from the University of Connecticut and while I was at the University of Connecticut, I joined the United States Marine Corps reserves. I grew up without a dad, was always kind of looking for a father figure, and chance to kind of prove my manhood because of that. I got myself into a buttload of trouble because of that in the past but really, really wanted to be a Marine. I joined this reserve unit and had desire to go to officer candidate school and become a Marine Corps officer. I ended up having an injury that kept me from immediately going to OCS, but we graduated in May of 2001. The injury happened that summer. And then right after that, September 11, 2001 happens. During that time period, we were wondering whether or not we were going to get activated. I had met a young lady at the time and was hanging out with all my friends at that time. We were kind of partying and then one day I get this phone call says “Corporal Albert, you are to report at the reserve unit on this day. You’re being activated.” I got activated in 2003 and ended up going over to the Middle East. I served in a bunch of different places but ended up serving Southern Iraq doing ship security which isn’t the most sexy admissions or anything like that. I was traveling up the Euphrates River, a place called the Khor Abdullah. I was trying to protect some civilians who were doing some things over there. I ended up coming back home and had another injury. I had to get my ankle reconstructed and kind of settled into what was supposed to be my post-collegiate life. I remember coming back and all my friends had gotten into jobs. I remember, Mike, you were working over at Nine West with another friend of ours, Mario. Everybody seemed to been so far ahead, and I ended up getting a job with the local congressman’s office as an administrative assistant and was just doing that for a while.
Michael Kurland (07:00):
I got to pause you here because I think that we need to talk about that. First of all, the partying thing. Audience, me and Chris lived together after college. We were really great friends, and we still are, but this was our heyday. When Chris says partying, we had a thing called the Friday Morning Hangover Club because we all hated going to work. We had these entry level jobs, so we would go out on Thursday night and drink way more than we should have and then we would roll into work on Friday, hungover. It lived up to its name. I haven’t thought about that in a while.
Chris Albert (07:43):
We did that and then eventually it became more than the Friday Morning Hangover Club. Me and another one of our friends ended up turning it into the Tuesday and the Wednesday, Thursday, and a Friday morning hangover club. It got to the point that the only day we weren’t going out was, I think, Sunday and Monday.
Michael Kurland (08:03):
Monday. No, we still went out on Sunday.
Chris Albert (08:07):
Michael Kurland (08:07):
Monday was a day of rest. I want you to get into you. We don’t have to mention which Congressman it was. When you say admin, you were not an admin. You were a gopher. You were a chauffeur. You were getting lunch. I remember those days when we were living together. I said, “I don’t know how this ever pays off.” Get a little more in detail in what you were doing.
Chris Albert (08:35):
It sounds like a sexy job when you hear it. You’re a congressional aide, but the reality is you’re making dirt. You’re making dirt money. The entire office is set up around this one person. It’s not like a normal company where you’re supposed to be supporting the brand. Everything’s centered around this one person, so you’re at their beck and call. I was driving around. I was doing all this stuff, working like crazy hours. At the same time, I got to do some cool stuff. I got to drive John McCain around Connecticut. I met President Bush. I actually got to see President Obama before he was president. I got to do a lot of cool stuff about it. I’m thinking about it now. It sounds like I’m complaining about it, and I don’t want to sound like that.
Michael Kurland (09:31):
No. These are just experiences. For the audience’s knowledge as well, back to when you were in first grade and you were walking up and introducing yourself as Christopher Brian Albert, when we went around and said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and people were like, “Oh, I want to be a firefighter.” I used to say I wanted to be a baseball player. I know this is right. You would tell everyone you want to be the President of the United States of America, so you were following your dream. There was nothing wrong with that.
Chris Albert (09:59):
Exactly. I definitely don’t want to be the president today. That’s the last thing I’d want to be or any kind of politician. Back then, I had this whole delusion of grandeur and believed I was going to do that.
Michael Kurland (10:16):
I would have voted for you. [Both laugh]
Chris Albert (10:22):
If some of those things come out about those years we were living together, it will never happen. [Laughs]
Michael Kurland (10:26):
Keep that under wraps. I got a business to run as well.
Chris Albert (10:32):
Exactly. So, I got back. All of our friends partied, but I think some of us partied to a point to where it was becoming a problem at difference places.
Michael Kurland (10:53):
Clearly. Yeah. For the audience that doesn’t know, me and Chris have lost probably four friends that I can think of off the top of my head since high school to drug overdoses and two of them real recent. The partying in our group in our younger days was getting out of hand. We would go out and drink, but we weren’t partaking in it on any level like that. I think that’s where we kind of knew we wanted more. We both knew we wanted more so, we kind of like separated ourselves from the greater group.
Chris Albert (11:29):
Michael Kurland (11:29):
Let’s talk about that. You wanted to go do better for yourself, and you then made your way out to California. Talk about that.
Chris Albert (11:40):
A couple of things happened. That young lady I was dating eventually smartened up, and she left [Michael laughs]. She went and married somebody else. That was kind of heartbreaking at the time. I was like, “What does a kid veteran from Connecticut do to kind of get over it?” I just picked up everything and moved out to California.
Michael Kurland (12:05):
You were semi-professionally or professionally bodybuilding at the time, so let’s not leave that out.
Chris Albert (12:12):
Right. I was doing the fitness thing. That came a little bit later, but I had applied to a PhD program at UC Santa Barbara. I got into the PhD program in political science and went out there. I had absolutely no money. Zero money. I was in a fraternity when I was in college. I got in touch with the fraternity out there. The fraternity is called Sig Ep. They have a resident scholar program, and they let me move into the house. I was a 28-year-old dude living in a frat house doing academic programming for that fraternity. I’d like to say that I left all my drinking and stuff like that behind when I left Connecticut, but I didn’t. It kept being a little bit more of a problem when I got out to California.
Eventually, I woke up one day and I looked at myself in the mirror and I said, “You’re killing yourself.” My face was drawn and everything like that. I was starting to get the symptoms of a disease that I eventually developed called ulcerative colitis. I said, “Alright. I got to turn my life around right now.” I stopped drinking right then and there. I don’t think I’ve had more than seven or eight beers that entire time since that time. I had to fill the gap with something, so I decided that I was going to get into bodybuilding. I had always wanted to be a bodybuilder. I’d been lifting weights from a very young age, and I was personal training on the side to kind of make some money. I entered a bodybuilding show out there in Southern California and won my first show. Eventually, people started coming to me and asking me for advice about training and nutrition and fitness. At that point, political science seemed like it was becoming more and more dull to me. The prospect of being a professor seemed like it was becoming more and more dull to me. I disenrolled from my PhD program and decided to take the absolute no money that I had and opened up a gym in Southern California with a friend who had more money than I did. That gym, at first, was just a warehouse full of equipment and two kids, trying to play around. Eventually, it became one of the most famous gyms in the world. It’s called Metroflex Gym Long Beach.
Michael Kurland (15:09):
I’ve been to this gym. That’s right about the time that I moved out here. Didn’t you get married at some point during this?
Chris Albert (15:21):
I was trying to avoid that one.
Michael Kurland (15:25):
[Laughs] That’s part of the story. It’s the whole reason I moved out here. A good portion of the reason why I moved out here is because I got divorced. I got fired, as the audience already knows. I could have taken that bad marriage and become a victim. Instead, I became a victor, and here we are. Same thing for you. I think you got married three months after I did, I want to say.
Chris Albert (15:50):
Michael Kurland (15:50):
You were divorced before I was divorced.
Chris Albert (15:54):
I met a girl. A friend of ours who’s since passed, Ryder, he had a wedding down in the Dominican Republic, and I met this girl down there. I had an issue with women at the time. I’ll be straight up about that. I had an issue with being very all over the place with women, and I met this girl. I had been pretty lonely out in California, and I thought she was the answer to everything. I thought it was just going to be a fling down in the Dominican Republic, but then I open my door one day in California and she’s standing there. I say, “Okay. I guess we’re going to have a relationship now.” We ended up getting married. I made the genius decision of asking her to marry me while I was building this business that was extremely difficult to build. When you’re in a startup and you have no money, you’re living off of like 500 bucks a month. I told her, “Hey, this is the deal. This is what I’m doing right now.” She was like, “Okay. Fine.” And she said, “I just want to be in your life.” When push came to shove, she really wasn’t about that life. Our values were not aligning at all. I began to realize that she hated me more than any person on this earth.
Michael Kurland (17:44):
I’ll never forget the time I was going through my divorce, and you were living out here already. You were in Irvine, which is the most un-Chris Albert place for any Chris Albert to ever be. I came to visit you, and I was staying at the hotel right around the corner from you guys’ apartment. I came in, and it was like World War III. I said, “I just wanted to see my friend,” and you guys were yelling at each other. The dogs were barking. She was belittling you in front of us. I said, “Oh my gosh. This is worse than my marriage” and my marriage was pretty awful. That was pretty tough, but I’m glad we’re both in better places. Let’s leave it at that. We don’t need to slander anybody else.
Chris Albert (18:33):
From there, what happened was one day something snapped in my mind, and I grabbed a bunch of garbage bags. At this point, I had actually lost equity ownership in the gym because things had gotten really bad with me mentally. I pretty much had gotten fired as the owner by my partner. Everything was down to like nothing. I had no empathy left in me. No nothing left in me. I said, “I can’t deal with this anymore.” I went and grabbed a bunch of garbage bags, filled my bags up with whatever clothes I had. I took the dog and then left. I lived out of my car for a few weeks. Luckily, me and my business partner, we remained friends. He let me crash at the gym. He let me continue training out of the gym. I was able to build up my clientele. During that time period, I started recording myself giving fitness and nutrition advice on YouTube, which I didn’t think would add up to anything. People started listening to me. At the time, I was coaching a few pretty notable people. A guy named CT Fletcher, who had walked into the gym one day. I was doing nutrition coaching for him. He’s now a really super famous YouTube star. My friend, Mike Rashid, gave me a computer. Mike’s a really high-end fitness model these days. He’s also super famous. Mike gave me a computer. He said, “Hey, you’re good at this stuff. Why don’t you just start putting material out there?” So, I built up an online training business and slowly got myself from living in my car and crashing on friend’s couches to being able to rent a room and then eventually being able to rent a house. I met a new girl, and she’s been awesome. I’ve been with her ever since. Everything got back on the rails, and then all of a sudden, after years of doing this and kind of building my name up, I developed a disease called ulcerative colitis, which is an auto-immune disease where your immune system starts attacking your intestines. I kind of knew my days were numbered with bodybuilding. I wasn’t able to compete like I did. I wasn’t able to think. I wasn’t able to have strength or anything like that.
Michael Kurland (21:19):
What does this disease do to you, for the audience? You don’t have to get graphic.
Chris Albert (21:25):
You’re basically running to the bathroom 30 to 50 times a day. I went from being 210 pounds with 3% body fat; at my worst, I was down to 148 pounds. My face was drawn. I was really, really sick. I wasn’t able to really train like I could. I just couldn’t do it anymore. During that time, I had gotten a contracting gig with a podcaster out of London, UK. It’s called London Real. You might know him. He’s a pretty famous guy named Brian Rose. He just ran for mayor of London. He took me on as an instructor in his academy because I had actually taken one of his courses. I was the lead instructor of all of his courses for three years, and that’s how I got by financially during that time.
Michael Kurland (22:40):
That is ridiculously crazy that you’ve been through all this stuff. So, you’re on the ulcerative colitis now. You’ve pretty much beaten that. Now, where are you at in life?
Chris Albert (22:55):
I had this going on. I had all of the disease going on, and I was working with London Real. I had decided that I had to do something. I had all this stuff that I’d learned over my years. I’ve had all these turnarounds. Quit drinking. I had been pounded into the ground, slowly built myself back up. Pounded into the ground. Built myself back up again.
I noticed what was going on in the veteran community. There was all these statistics out there about 22 veterans committing suicide every day. So many veterans out there who are homeless, and I had decided that I wanted to put some good things out there into the world. That’s where the idea for the Warrior Soul podcast came about. Literally, I knew nothing about podcasting. I got on my laptop, and I just started recording myself. No microphone. No nothing. It was just me giving bits of advice to people, some were longer segments, some were shorter segments. Somebody said, “Hey, you should start doing interviews.” I started reaching out to people, and I started doing interviews with awesome people who maybe the veteran community hadn’t heard of but that had bits of advice to bring into the veteran community. I’ve interviewed people like Robert Greene, the author of 48 Laws of Power, Les Stroud, the Survivor man. I’ve had on Bas Rutten, a really famous MMA fighter, Grant Cardone. I’m going to interview Mike soon. A whole bunch of whole bunch of different people. The podcast had some success. It’s reaching a pretty large audience these days.
I had that, but I was still kind of trying to figure everything out as far as what was going on with me financially. Right around when COVID hit, one of the kids that I used to advise at UC Santa Barbara, he hit me up. This kid was awesome. He was a really smart kid in school. He graduated in three years with a 4.00 and went on to become an investment banker. He ended up buying his family business, which is an Anchor company. I had been giving him some fitness advice because he’s an ice climber. He said, “I’ve got this part-time gig if you want to come down and do some part-time sales for us. You could it remotely for now while in California.” Then COVID hit. I was able to do some things for the company that helped the company out quite a bit. He said, “Why don’t you come down here and be my Director of Sales and Marketing. By down here, I mean moving from California to Florida.” At the time, with COVID, I said, “Yeah! That would be awesome.” Me and my girl packed up. We moved across country to Florida. I moved down here, bought a house. I never thought I was ever going to be able to buy a house. That was a huge thing for me because of the VA loan. I had been working here as Director of Sales and Marketing and some other things happened and was able to help out the company a little bit more. They asked me to become the General Manager. Going from literally where I was to now leading an awesome company here in an awesome place and completely got my life back on track again.
Michael Kurland (27:04):
That’s a great story, Chris. Thank you for sharing all of that and the little side stories in between. The real thing I want to touch on now is the podcast. What’s the podcast called again?
Chris Albert (27:18):
It’s called the Warrior Soul podcast.
Michael Kurland (27:19):
What is the mission?
Chris Albert (27:25):
What we do with the Warrior Soul podcast is we deliver tools, tactics, strategies, and ideas to help the US military veteran community and pretty much anybody else that’s willing to listen to live their best lives. I publish every week. A lot of times, it’s me talking about a lesson that I’ve come across. As you guys just heard, I’m not some guru or anything like that. I’m not somebody who knows it all. I’m somebody who’s in the trenches trying to figure it out. What I’ve been able to do is give advice to the younger guys who are just getting out of the military, trying to figure out where they’re going, what they’re doing and also to bring on people much smarter and more accomplished than myself to give their advice. That’s what we’ve been doing. I’ve been doing it for five years now. I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever done with my life.
Michael Kurland (28:22):
That’s great, and it’s definitely Being Better, helping the veteran community. From my opinion, it’s an under-focused on community. You probably know the statistics better than me but, like you said, 22 veterans a day are committing suicide. The amount of PTSD I don’t even think can be measured for a lot of these guys that are coming home, like the Wounded Warrior Project.
Chris Albert (28:53):
I don’t think it’s neglected. I think there’s a lot of people who care about veterans, but I think it’s misunderstood. Our community is highly misunderstood. None of us out there are looking for anything extra. I think most of us, what we’re trying to do, is just figure life out. If you know a veteran, I think the best thing to do is go and talk to them. If you’re somebody who’s accomplished a lot, the best thing you can do is go and talk to them about what you’re doing. Talk to them about how you got where you’re going because a lot of us are just trying to figure out what our next step is because it’s not always clear.
Michael Kurland (29:37):
I read the book Tribe, and I referenced this book a lot, but in the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger, they were talking about how in other countries… In this country when you see a veteran, you say, “Thank you for your service.” In other countries, they do exactly what you just said. They just talk to them like they’re normal people because we put them in this category when we say, “Thank you for your service,” from his research. They feel awkward and it feels disassociated. They just want to be talked to like a normal person. I don’t know if that’s makes sense.
Chris Albert (30:12):
Yeah. That’s exactly it. The other thing that happens, once you hit 26, 27, 28 what tends to happen with young men is that you drift away from other young men. You’re so wrapped up with your wife, your partner, with your family that you no longer have that band of brothers that you grew up with. It happens to, I think, all men, not just veterans. Once you get in your 30s or 40s, a lot of men feel very much alone. That’s not to say that women do not serve. There are a lot of great women warriors out there but, particularly with men, they get further and further away from their tribe. You need good people in your life. You can’t just be an island. If you’re of these people like I was that just kind of took on everything on myself and you try to isolate yourself then you’re going to get yourself into trouble, both mentally, you’re going to get yourself into trouble because you’re not out there connected to the world and you’re not going to be able to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. Mike’s been able to do all the awesome things, in my opinion, because he’s great with dealing with people. And people genuinely like him. He’s learned that.
Michael Kurland (31:34):
Sometimes. [Both laugh] Chris, I think what you’re doing for the veteran community is great. I look forward to coming on your show in the near future.
Chris Albert (31:52):
That’s when we will get into all the dirt.
Michael Kurland (31:53):
Exactly. If you really want the dirt, tune in there. If the audience wants to get ahold of you, how can they do so? And if they want to check out the podcast, where can they go for that?
Chris Albert (32:06):
The cast is up on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio at your favorite podcasting app. You name it, it’s on there. The best way of reaching out to me through Instagram and that’s at @warriorsoulagoge.
Michael Kurland (32:27):
What does agoge mean? I’ve always wondered what that is.
Chris Albert (32:30):
The Spartan agoge was kind of like this process. This process through which they took their young boys. They were put in the agoge at age seven and that’s where the train to become warriors. That’s where they’ve trained to become the Spartan citizens. The reason why I called it the agoge was because the Spartan agoge lasted all the way up to your 30s and 40s. With us, regardless of whether you’re wearing the uniform or not, you still have that sense of service. There’s still that obligation to try to become the best version of yourself. You still have learning to do no matter what.
Michael Kurland (33:18):
I learned something new today. I always just thought it was some reference, and I had no idea. Thank you for solving that mystery. Chris, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been great having you and we’ve told everyone where to be. Do you have any stories of Michael Kurland that you’d like to share with the audience? That are PG, please.
Chris Albert (33:40):
I don’t want to get into specifics here, but he always had the ability to just go up to anybody and talk. What me and my friends would do is we would all kind of line up at the bar. I had this friend, Mario, he was pretty jacked. We would sit there, and we would flex. We’d just sit there and drink our beers and flex. We would wear the smallest t-shirt possible. Mario would go get his little brother’s t-shirt, put that on, and go out to the bar. What Mike would do is Mike would go out there and he’d be the fetcher. He’d be the one that kind of like break the ice.
Michael Kurland (34:32):
Chris Albert (34:33):
The icebreaker. Then he would get the girls. They would come back. I’m not good at talking to girls. I never was. [Michael laughing] I just tried to pretty myself up as much as much as I could.
Michael Kurland (34:50):
You’d do your one dance move. [Laughs]
Chris Albert (34:52):
Yeah. My one dance move. I would do that. I don’t want to see what numbers you are responsible for, but you are responsible for a good part of my love life. [Both laugh].
Michael Kurland (35:07):
I’m happy I could help, Chris. I’m happy to have helped. Again, it was great having you on, my friend. I look forward to coming on your show. Glad to have caught up on some old stories. Audience, until next time.
Thank you for tuning in! I hope that today’s episode inspired you to become a purpose-driven leader in your career or your community. There is no doubt that when we lead with purpose, we can change lives. If you enjoyed today’s show, I’d be grateful if you would take a moment to rate us on your preferred listening platform.
To learn more Branded Group’s “Be Better” experience and how we provide industry-leading on-demand national facility management, construction management, and special project implementation, visit us at www.branded-group.com. Be sure to follow us on social media and you can also reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. Until next time, Be Better.