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23 - Joe Rosko: Building Your Body, Brand, and Business

On this episode of Conversations with Changemakers, we speak with Joe Rosko, Founder and CEO of Built for the Stage. With the pandemic shutting down the US and performing arts, I wanted to have this frank conversation with Joe about how we can take care of ourselves and each other... Read More

50 mins



On this episode of Conversations with Changemakers, we speak with Joe Rosko, Founder and CEO of Built for the Stage. With the pandemic shutting down the US and performing arts, I wanted to have this frank conversation with Joe about how we can take care of ourselves and each other. We discuss physical fitness and personal training, mental health, digital wellness, entrepreneurship, and more.

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If you enjoyed this episode, please visit RateThisPodcast.com/tonyhowell. Be sure to check out our past conversations and subscribe for next month’s special guest!


00:04 Joe:

There was something I read where it said you could either work at building your bank account or you can work at building your brand. And there is no right or wrong answer, but it's right or wrong as far as the timing of it.

00:30 Tony:

Happy Holidays! It's Tony Howell and I am so excited and grateful to bring you this next episode of Conversations with Changemakers. Wherever this episode finds you, whenever it finds you, I want you to join me and take just a moment of gratitude. Think about everything you have and think about all that you've already achieved and accomplished.

As we head into the new year, I am excited to help you make change, change the world, design our future. And that brings me to this month's guest.

Joe Rosko is the founder and CEO of Built For The Stage. They've been on the scene since 2014, and like me, Built For The Stage believes that actors are athletes. Therefore, they need to train like one and hopefully, eventually, we can get paid like one, too.

Built For The Stage offers custom personal training, nutrition planning, and they provide the coaching, the community and the tools needed to actually get results. I am a new member of the Built For The Stage fam and I do want to warn you. Some of these side effects can include improved confidence and improved mental health.

Built For The Stage has clients all over the world, all over social media. But most importantly, their clients have been seen in over 50 Broadway shows and they offer free weekly classes on Playbill and incredible, really awesome guests on the Built For The Stage Podcast.

But right now, in 2020, with the pandemic still harshly affecting the United States and shutting down the performing arts industry, I wanted to have this frank conversation with Joe about how we can take care of ourselves as well as each other.

So in this episode, we'll obviously discuss physical fitness and personal training, but we are going to dive into mental health, digital wellness, and entrepreneurship.

Buckle up, because you are about to be built for the stage!

Joe Rosko, thank you for being on the podcast.

02:47 Joe:

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

02:49 Tony:

I'm excited to talk to you because I wanted to have you on, it's been a crazy year, but I've seen you killing it for 11 months and prior to that– and I'm just like, I need to talk to Joe.

So I took it upon myself to sign up for your free trial to begin my Built For The Stage journey. But before we get into that, can you give us–because this is the first time I've met you–can you tell us a little bit about you, your story, how Built For The Stage came about?

03:18 Joe:

Yeah, sure. I am built for the stage. My life–literally when I came out of the womb–it was destiny. So, I grew up in a very athletic family. So I played sports my whole life. I played three sports, and then in seventh grade, my little middle school girlfriend at the time was begging me to audition for the school play with her. And it was Much Ado About Nothing. I was cast in the show and she was not. So I did this whole thing just to spend time with her. You don't drive or you really don't have any way of hanging out with your girlfriend at the time, because you don't have a car, so you have to do after-school activities. So I'm stuck doing this Shakespeare play as a typical jock and my girlfriend's not even in the show and I didn't like any of it.

I hated it. I always tell the story because I owe Kelly Scourge, my middle school choir teacher, basically all of this because she sat me down after the show in study hall and was like, “Hey, we're doing Guys and Dolls Junior. Just give it one more try, you're really going to like it. You're going to like it, I promise.” So she convinced me to give it another try, and indeed, I loved it. And ever since that moment I was doing my three sports and also every school production up until I graduated high school.

I then decided to go to school for musical theatre. I went to Coastal Carolina for musical theatre. I also wanted to stay involved with sports and fitness. So I got my personal training certification at that time. So I was just 18. And I missed sports though, still. And I would be in my college dorm room, hearing the loud speaker of the football game, crying in my dorm room because I missed football as well. So I was crazy and I walked onto my football team my sophomore year and basically, the rest of the time, spent from 5:00 AM until 11:00 PM, juggling class, sports and my musical theatre program all at the same time.

So fast forward, I do summerstock throughout college. And then I graduate, moved to New York, do regional theatre, all the while I'm still training all of my castmates. As a trainer and an actor, it was just kind of a natural circumstance where my cast members were always wanting to train with me. And that's kind of how the organic evolution of Built For The Stage began where I was predominantly training actors. Got burnt out, doing a show for two years back in 2013. Came back to New York in 2014 and said I was going to take a little break. And that break has now been over six years. So here I am doing my thing with Built For The Stage

06:29 Tony:

The two-year job was in a national tour?

06:32 Joe:

No, it was actually a sit-down in Missouri. I was playing Joseph and it was just a lot. I was on the stage for a long time and came back and I just need to take a breath. And it's been a long one.

06:51 Tony:

I'm with you on that. I wanted to talk to you because I feel, because of the pandemic, obviously our industry is not just going to kickstart tomorrow. We still have to deal with COVID-19. And so there is a huge percentage of our industry that's working with Built For The Stage. There's also a huge percentage of our industry that I think they're looking for possibly pivoting or something else that they can do on the side.

Before we dive into the entrepreneurial side, let's talk about that needing to take a breath. In my mind, it's just some self-care. So I know from working with you that I feel better when I go to the gym. What can you share about the connection between mental and physical health?

07:37 Joe:

Yeah, they're definitely connected. For instance, just yesterday, the way my schedule transpired: I wasn't able to get to the gym until around six at night. And typically I like to get my training session done in the morning, because it just sets the tone for my day and I literally feel better physically, mentally, spiritually. And I just was sluggish and feeling kind of low. Melancholic, if you will. And then I'm basically sleep-driving to the gym. What am I doing? This is pointless. And I got there and got in my session and I wish I had more than just three or four hours left in my day because I actually feel alive. I feel great.

So we're huge on cliché statements here at Built For The Stage, we feel that they're cliché for a reason because they're the truth. And that's why they're overly said because they're the truth. And one is, body, mind and spirit are all connected and no matter how much you want to try to put that off and feel as though you can have just one or the other, it's just not going to happen. They all are truly connected

08:49 Tony:

Beyond a workout every day or 3-5 times a week, what are some other ways that you take care of your body, mind and spirit?

08:57 Joe:

Yeah. Big thing during the pandemic I've been trying to do is when I wake up, I leave my phone at my bedstand–my nightstand–and then exit my bedroom and go about whatever morning routines I need to. Some days I'll journal, I'll read, I'll get right to breakfast if I'm hungry, but leaving the phone behind has been highly beneficial for mental health. I always keep a schedule on my Google calendar. But another thing that helps me as well is just, even though I have it there, I'll physically write out my schedule just to kind of take a literal physical breath, obviously breathing. You're taking a physical breath, but in a metaphoric way, I'm kind of breathing that all out as I'm writing it down just to let myself know that even though your day seems busy or kind of high on the totem pole in comparison to maybe other days, just letting myself know you're going to get through it. It's not as bad as you think, seeing it on the paper.

10:11 Tony:

I like that. And it'll help you remember things. I missed an appointment on Sunday. I was like, what?

Question: I’ve gotta poke around. You said you drive to the gym. Where are you? Where are you based?

10:23 Joe:

Well, so the pandemic hit. I was in New York City and I was just kind of staring at the four walls, paying the rent that we pay in New York. And it was May, I said I'm going to just go down the coast and check out some places I've always wanted to, like Virginia Beach, Charleston, South Carolina. So I was driving down with my wife, we were planning to make our final stop in Sarasota, Florida, and we didn't know what would come of it. We just did a short term rental for three months and we really liked it. We liked the vibe for the pandemic. And so what I've been doing is I've been based down here and flying up to New York when needed for work. So yeah, I'm down here in Florida.

11:18 Tony:

I'm in Mexico today. So for the listeners, I want to highlight that we've both created location freedom, and I think we'll see a little bit more of that in the entertainment industry, as we find new ways to create art remotely. One of the other things that you were talking about was how you were juggling so many things in middle school, you were able to do sports and whatnot. So can you tell us what a typical day for Joe looks like in 2020?

11:46 Joe:

Yeah. 2020 has been tough because my whole life has been just go, go, go. Not always to my benefit, it's the ups and downs of Joe Rosko. Sometimes I need to put the brakes on, but I tend not to. I love my clients, obviously. But it's a lot of just hearing people's ups and downs. The pandemic especially has been challenging for me mentally and emotionally because indirectly, I'm kind of carrying that load of my clients. And my clientele is predominantly 99% performers and it's been such a trying and difficult time for them during this pandemic. So a lot of it has been not so much like, Hey, I need help with technique on this movement, but it's more so been like, Hey, please help me get back to this because I just can't find my way to continue to work out in the midst of the struggles and stress.

So each day there's lots and lots of messages to talk with clients about. And then there's the setting up interviews, like you're very aware of, for either my podcast, my Built For The Stage podcast, or I have a Monday series with Playbill, where every Monday I'm interviewing a Broadway actor and maybe doing a little fitness with them. And yeah, just doing the financials. I'm becoming less and less of a one-man show, which is great. I've brought on a team, but there is a lot of logistics behind the scenes that's more than just, here's your sets and reps and what you should do training- wise. There are lots of business things that I'm having to always balance throughout the day.

13:47 Tony:

Well, let me throw this your way and tell you that you do it all beautifully. I'm a fan. And I will speak to the entrepreneurs that are listening, you've really done a great job of the onboarding process. The free trial, the service itself is really wonderful. So everyone should go check out, Built For The Stage, give them a shot, do the free trial. And I think what's really incredible is the remote training. This is the thing that I think COVID is going to open up for a lot of different industries, is this idea of online, remote collaboration. So kudos to you.

Let's rewind for the person who's listening, who has an itch to start some sort of business, but they're scared that they're not going to be able to be an actor and to run a business. Now, you and I are two entrepreneurs, actors turned entrepreneurs, but what [does] that person know about starting a side hustle, what did the beginning of your business look like?

14:43 Joe:

Yeah, I think it's important to know why you're getting into it and what your vision for it is 5 or 10 years down the road. If it doesn't go that far, if it strictly is just a side hustle, then you might just want to dive in head first, right out of the gate and just start hustling. If you see it a little bit further down the road and see it as something that you really truly want to lay seed into, then first I would get around as many people that have already done it that you can. If you're wanting to really see this further down the road 5 or 10 years from now, I would encourage you to surround yourself with as many people that have already done it. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the exact topic or business field that you are wanting to enter into.

But just someone who has done the grind of starting their own business and seemingly is successful at it. And you obviously can learn a lot from that. And then it's fake it until you make it from that person or the other resources that you study or listen to. You then try to adapt that in your own way and just continue to figure it out as you go.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be resilient. You have to be willing to pivot all change for your life, just pivoting and pivoting and pivoting. And you have to have thick skin as well. And just like in a career of theatre, you can't just like the idea of being an entrepreneur or the idea of being your own boss or the idea of owning your own business. But you have to be willing to do what it takes and to accept all of the responsibility that comes with it.

An employee might have a list of things that they can be upset about or not love, but at the end of the day, they typically go to bed at night not worrying about if their job's going to be there tomorrow. Whereas the entrepreneur, especially in 2020 you're just maybe wide awake at night thinking, how will we survive? So whoever out there is looking to start surrounding with people that have already done it, make sure that it's not just the idea, but that you are willing to kind of dig your feet in the sand and get ready for some work.

17:26 Tony:

I do want to also address maybe a higher level listener who already has been doing a side hustle. They've been training their friends and whatnot. So what is the mindset shift that you made to go from freelancer to owner of a company?

17:43 Joe:

However you do it, it's really about systems. It's really about what you can make maintainable, and no matter what is thrown at you, there's a system in place. So whether you're a trainer or whoever you are, if you're just kind of winging it day by day and every day is a new way of you doing it, it's going to to be difficult for you to sustain that over time. And if it truly will be a business and flourish enough where you need other people to come onboard, then it's not going to work by you just doing your circular fashion of the one man show. But systems, I would say, is one of your most [in]tangible, no negotiation–you have to have systems.

18:34 Tony:

One of the things that I think is interesting is in fitness and then in entrepreneurship, this idea of embracing failure, we always look up to the overnight successes, but where does failure fit in? Have you had any recent failures that you can share with us? Or how do you look at that word?

18:55 Joe:

Yeah. I think failure's important and is a stepping stone for any true feat of greatness. There's things that I look back on that drive me wild that I failed at, and I just kick myself over and over about it. But when you really step back, you realize that the success I have now would've probably not happened unless those failures occurred. I guess one would be in the midst of that break in New York, it was back in 2015, I moved back to Ohio, my home state and started two gyms of my own, with a partner. One of my close friends and the gyms are still going, but the partnership didn't go great.

And what I blindly thought would happen, did not happen. And the gyms are still running and the people are great there, but I end up coming back to New York, learning a huge lesson on business. Basically the money I invested was pretty much like I invested in going to real life business school. So when I came back, I was all the better for it. And now when I started another gym in New York with a friend and then finally did Built For The Stage. But without those failures back in Ohio, I wouldn't have learned the lessons I needed to kind of be where I'm at right now.

20:38 Tony:

So failure is necessary. I hate it, but I guess we have to embrace it. Let's talk about mistakes. So there are probably a lot of pet peeves that you have when you're at the gym and you see. But [let’s] hear from the expert, what are the biggest mistakes that you see people make in the world of being built for the stage?

20:59 Joe:

I think one is, especially now on the world of Instagram and social media, the content producers, you start to run out of content or movements. So there are all these like crazy exercise movements out there or programs. And it really is nothing more than clickbait and making the consumer feel as though this is like the next best thing, when really, they probably just need to squat, deadlift, press and bench.

Core strength is what I'm talking about. Four movements that have been around since the beginning of time, we all have to sit, put things over ahead and pick things up.

So I would first say start simple and probably stay simple. And it's more so how you kind of create not the ingredients, but I'll say the meal, to speak metaphorically. You have your ingredients, like we do in the kitchen, but there are a million different things you could do with those simple ingredients, and in fitness, that's the same thing. And that's why having an educated or experienced coach is important because there are ways that you can lay out a structure around those key ingredients to make something extremely beneficial and lead to success.

Another thing I would say is, this goes back to the social media thing: every workout shouldn't be a knockout punch. So usually what you see on social media is people dying, just breathing so heavily and laid out on the floor, which is all well and good sometimes. But to progressively be successful over time, the body shouldn't endure such stress like that on a daily basis. So knowing when you should be going 50%, 70%, 100%, and also just understanding percentages too. If I told you, Hey, I want you to run your one mile pace at 70%. Do you know how to calculate those percentages? Do you have the patience?

Some people, they're like, ah, screw it. That's not even worth it, but it just all depends on how much you want to get out of it. So kind of speaking as a brainy coach, keep it simple and you have to strategically know how to lay out a linear progression. And that's what a coach can do for you as well. It's not just about your one day or your one week or even your month. It goes into quarters of the year and so on and so forth.

23:48 Tony:

I like it. I mean, I told you my goals and every day I'm like, yeah, every day, isn't a knockout, but I'm leaving comments telling you this one was a knockout.

23:59 Joe:

Just saying all of that really it's the same for being an entrepreneur. You can't just have the daily plan or weekly plan. You have to have your year, per se, mapped out of where you're going. And if you don't, yeah, you can make some progress just like we can in fitness. But if you really have your ducks in a row, that's when you're going to see yourself skyrocket and really get those results you're looking for.

24:29 Tony:

So you kind of work a bridge between in-person, what would traditionally be an in- person job of like being with a client and training them and having this online business. And then you're also partnering left and right with Playbill and other brands. What is your prediction for 2021, this digital age that we're going to be in, and specifically, what does it mean for the theatre industry?

24:55 Joe:

Well for businesses or trainers I think the online platform is kind of now undeniable. Before there was businesses where they were just online, or they were still brick-and-mortar, but I feel now after the pandemic, you won't have a choice. You'll have to offer some type of online product or service of some sort.

As far as the theatre industry goes, it's tough to say, because like we were saying before, things aren't just going to return immediately back to normal. So I envision them doing more online performances in open spaces. I think what you've seen from Open Jar Studios in New York City, where they have a very large rehearsal space they've been using for performances, with tables, with the Plexiglass dividers and usually it's been a one-man or one-woman show where they're doing a concert of some sort.

I think you're going to see that on a larger scale where you'll see more performances on the stage that are also being live-streamed online. And I also think for the industry, you see it now on Netflix with Hamilton, with Diana coming out. I think it's going to start to become normalized to have your show recorded and produced. I think for the longest time the industry fought it because they thought if they did that, then no one would travel to New York to see the show, or the people in New York would see something else, because they've already seen your thing on TV. But I think that theory is going to be torn down. And I think we're going to see a lot more if not all productions are being produced on camera.

27:01 Tony:

I mean, you have some physical products– and I have a client right now who's an opera singer and she has productions of her operas available for sale on her new website. So I think you're absolutely right. And then as a business person have you seen increased revenue because you've been able to sell swag, things like that?

27:21 Joe:

For me it's tough to tell, because I–honest– from the beginning, when I started Built For The Stage, it was remote-only from the start. We never were brick-and-mortar. I always trained all the clients online, as well as sold my merchandise online as well. So I think, if anything, all of this will help. Just because now it's becoming more normalized. So I haven't seen anything significant, as I said, I had already started doing this before the pandemic even hit, which was actually very fortunate for us. So yeah, that's all I really could say for that question.

28:06 Tony:

What is the day to day practice that you have with social media? So you talk about going to the gym and really getting it done. How do you “get in, get out” when it comes to digital platforms?

28:18 Joe:

As far as running my business on social media, I like to use Instagram drafts. So if you go on to Instagram and you go to create a post, you choose your photos or videos, whatever the content will be, type out your post, get it all ready. And then if you click back a few times, as much as you can, it'll ask you if you want to save it as a draft. So I basically set aside a day or two in my week to get all those ready so that when it comes time for the post to go up, I'm not having to stop everything or schedule something out within that particular day to do it. I already have it ready. So the posting doesn't really take much time.

I try to interact with people, followers, three times a day. And that's just to try to keep the engagement of the clients or potential clients there. So whether that's through DM or people tagging us or just relevant things that I see on social media–but the drafts really help. And then the three times a day is intentional so that I'm not just sitting there just kind of being reactive, but instead choosing when I'm going to be on social media.

29:48 Tony:

What about your email inbox, what are your practices for managing email?

29:52 Joe:

I check it pretty close, it's not the first thing I do, but I try to get to it before 10:00 AM. And when I look at it, I just don't open and start hitting forward as I go along. I'll just look at my subject fields and see what is needed to be taken care of immediately.

And then things that I know that I can address later on in the day– I read a book, can't remember what it's called, I'm not very good with titles or names of people, to my dismay–but something that really helped me was they talked about your productivity, mentally, during certain points of the day. So a lot of people want to get up and first thing, feel good about themselves and check their emails and check mark off the list, when really you should be doing—this is the opinion of the author and I found it to be true —you should be doing more managerial, or things—we were talking about those systems before—things that require some thinking, but aren't kind of what you might say, "to be, like, mindless."

And then once you get towards that mid morning of 11:00 AM or so, that's when you want to do your most creative or most activities that you need all of that brain stimulus to be your best. And then the end of the day really should be, alright, no matter how burnt out I am, I can address these certain emails or certain checkbox list. So that's how I try to go about the day.

31:40 Tony:

So it sounds a little bit like a workout. You hit the heavy stuff first, then you go moderate and then you go for of the light fun stuff at the end of your day.

31:47 Joe:

Yeah. You could say that for sure.

31:50 Tony:

How do you feel right now? I mean, I look at you as successful. I don't know if you feel the same way. Once you're inside something and keeping it running, it can be a different experience. But was there a specific moment that you thought, wow, I built this thing and it's so successful.

32:09 Joe:

Yeah, definitely. So there was the building block phase in the beginning of the business and things slowly started to pick up. But I think it was, I guess, this was back in maybe the summer of 2018? I was starting to get text messages from friends saying, hey. This is when the pandemic wasn't going on. I saw some random person walking down the street with a Built For the Stage shirt on, or I saw somebody in the gym with a Built For the Stage hat, or I saw someone at the gym and they had their phone looking at their app. And I could tell that they were doing Built For the Stage. So when that started to happen, that was a cool moment where, oh, wow it's spreading, it's spreading.

33:00 Tony:

Rewind back a little bit more. What did the very first few years look and feel like for you?

33:06 Joe:

When I first started to have a vision of what it could be–because I had seen other people in the industry create programs similar to it, not for actors, but fitness programs. And I had even been a client or someone who had followed these programs. And I knew I could do this. I know the business side of it now. I had a friend of mine that I was very fortunate to meet, that is a very successful businessman. That taught me a lot. And then the fitness side I had been doing since I was 18 and I've practiced so many different outlets of fitness, so I knew I could do it.

And then it was just a matter of starting it. I feel like I never got discouraged by the low numbers because when you're just starting out, I want thousands and thousands of people do my program and you're just starting out and you have four people, if you look too far ahead, that might be discouraging. So I think I just knew that I had gone along the journey already so much to get to where I was at. And it was just a matter of continuing to put one foot in front of the next. And that's pretty much where I'm at now. Even now I don't think—I don't want to say that or be ungrateful for what has happened— but I'll just say I'm not satisfied or settled with where I'm at. I think that this is just the beginning still and Built For the Stage could be so much more. So we're just still just like the beginning, just one foot in front of the other, another cliché statement, but it's true. It's what's needed.

34:56 Tony:

So as you've progressed, you have added people to your team. And I think that is one of the things for new entrepreneurs that it's hard to let go of your baby to give other people responsibilities. So at what point did you bring on other people? How and when do you make those hiring decisions?

35:14 Joe:

Yeah, I think it's beneficial in the beginning as much as you can, especially if you don't have some type of capital investment where you're able to hire people right out the gate. I think there is some bit of a benefit to doing everything. So you kind of learn how the bones of the business work. I remember having a serving job when I was 16 and the owner required you, even if you're going to be a server, he required you to work the kitchen and work everything. And he wanted you to know how it all worked. I haven't done a job since then where someone's required me to do it, but I think it's extremely important as an entrepreneur to know how all of those things function. It doesn't mean you're necessarily going to do them forever, but it definitely helps in the long run.

And as you go about that, there just comes a point where you must realize, you must make this educated decision to say, I could either continue to try to do all of this myself and not allow my business to progress because I'm unwilling to let go, or I need to start letting go. And then as far as making the decision of what to let go of, you first should let go of what you're not the best at or what you don't enjoy doing. And you could see someone else flourishing in. So that's where I started. What do I love to do? Okay. Continue to do that. What are things I don't love to do? Or I know someone else can do better than me. And then I just started from there. And the more we continue to grow, the more you have to make those decisions.

37:04 Tony:

So if someone is sitting here going alright, I guess I need to start something because I need to start making money. How do they go about figuring out what path that they should pursue?

37:18 Joe:

You have to go with your passion. So sometimes, you see successful business people out there that are crushing it, but it's not even their passion. Some guy owns a donut shop and he's crushing it, but he doesn't even like donuts. You see that, you see that! So that person's passion might be making money or creating successful businesses. And that's fine. So if that's you, then you should keep that in the forefront of, for example, opening a gym. A lot of the time I have to be real, opening a gym. It's not the most successful as far as economically making tons and tons of money. If you want to make tons and tons of money off the gym, you're going to have to have a lot of capital backing and do something pretty large.

So if you have a passion for fitness, but your passion for running a business that makes significant amounts of money is greater than that. Then you don't want to go into the gym business. But if your main passion is fitness or the gym, then regardless of the money, you probably want to go after that passion of the gym. So what I'm trying to just get at is whatever it is you're going to be getting into know that you're going to be eating, sleeping, breathing it 24/7. So you better like what it is. And I think that's a tough line to balance as well. Once again, going back to that thing of saying some people like the idea, but they aren't really willing to do what it takes. When you're unemployed right now in the pandemic, you might be thinking, I have to start my own thing and you might have to out of survival, but the reality is it might not be for you and that's okay, not everyone should own their own business. Not everyone should be an entrepreneur. And just as the same as not everyone should be an employee. We all are very unique people and you have to follow the passion.

39:39 Tony:

I love that you said that. Because yeah, I mean, my intention was to have you on, because clearly there's an industry that's hurting. So I wanted to get your perspective of different ways that you can help take care of them. And one of the things, you've interviewed dozens of people through Playbill, as well as through the Built For the Stage Podcast. Are there any throughlines, any big ideas that you hear over and over from your guests?

40:07 Joe:

Yeah, it's a pretty strong statement, but I'll say a large part of success can be about who you know, and the actors and performers that I interview a lot of the time, it's about when they get their foot in the door and they get that chance, that not only did they come through as performers, but they came through as people as well.

And a lot of the time it just comes down to who do I enjoy working with, who do I like to have in the room. So when these people are booking show after show a lot of the time, they might be the same talent level as someone else, or maybe just even a touch less, but that the people casting the show know that, oh, so-and-so is good people. They're good to have around. They're going to be good for the morale of the cast and so on and so forth.

So I think that's one of the biggest driving factors, be a good human and really get to know as many people as you can. If it is all about who you know, then the more people you know, and the more positive of relationships you have, the better it'll be for you in the long run.

41:26 Tony:

Speaking of good people to know…hey Joe, what you got coming down the pipeline, what's built for the stage working on?

41:34 Joe:

Right now, there was something I read where it said you could either work at building your bank or you can work at building your brand. And there is no right or wrong answer, but it's right or wrong as far as the timing of it.

So right now I run a business that is targeted towards actors and performers that are out of work hurting and probably never at a lower point in their life than right now. So we made the decision to really focus on just building our brand and not trying to constantly sell people. So things that we've been doing we did this big special. We lowered our prices to $8 a month during the height of the pandemic back in March and April. And we donated all of that to the Actors' Fund.

And when we returned to our normal pricing, we've continued to donate those $8 to the Actors' Fund every month. So every first of the month we've been contributing a great amount. I'll just modestly say that. And now coming into the holidays, we're starting a thing called The Gift of Theatre where we're donating all profits of apparel and new subscriptions to unemployed theatre parents that are in need.

I said earlier in the interview–I've heard story after story after story of these just unfortunate circumstances and a lot of them have been parents. So that hit home for us because, you have your kids involved as well, they're helpless in that sense. So we're going to be donating that to all of the unemployed theatre parents that we have within our community that we have on a list.

And we're excited for that. That's up until December 15th. We'll also be running a special where people can sign up for a dollar for the rest of the year, sort of a holiday special, and they'll get a t-shirt come January 1st. And once again, those fundings will go to those theatre parents as well, come January 1st. So yeah, that's what's in the pipeline. It's just helping people as much as we can. And knowing that in 2021 or whenever it is, people at that point will remember Built For the Stage to be a business that was looking to help others instead of just continuing to try to pad their bank account.

44:23 Tony:

Amen. And thank you for that. I would applaud you– and that's also why we're here, is because I see you everywhere. Fast forward for me, it's the year 2030, where is Joe Rosko? What does his life look like?

44:37 Joe:

Yeah. I hope to be not only helping clients with their fitness, but I hope to be helping trainers with their profession. I hope to have a whole team of actors [and] trainers, training actors through Built For the Stage. I also hope to be creating other platforms for businesses that are wanting to start online in the fitness industry, that are outside of theatre. I've kind of started to dabble in that as well. So going back to systems, I hope to take the systems that I've built and help others using that system and overseeing those all the while.

45:28 Tony:

Now rewind for me, it's the year 2010. Think about where you were and what advice would you give yourself from the year 2020?

45:39 Joe:

I would just tell myself to ride the waves and that for everything there's a season, ups and downs and don't be too high and don't be too low because the highs are there for you to feel good and pat yourself on the back about, and the lows are for down the road so that you could be even higher than you already are. 2010 actually was when I was graduating college and it was actually a rough ending to college for me. And as I was going to make the move to New York as an actor, there's that uncertainty of what's about to happen. And are you going to be good enough? And are you going to "make it?" And yeah, you just have to have the wisdom to know that “making it” isn't ever going to be permanent or instant, and you have to be willing to put the work in and be patient. And you also have to be willing to–if you feel like you've made it, it's not forever and there's work to be done to stay in that place.

46:58 Tony:

Thank you so much for being on the show, Joe, thank you for who you are and the work that you do. Also thank you for listening, for who you are and the work that you do.

I want to highlight just a few things that Joe shared in this episode that mind, body and spirit are connected. I will say that in a different way: that we have our mental wellness, our physical wellness, and our digital wellness.

In order to grow, we have to embrace failure. That could look like making mistakes, or things not being the best or perfect with your first attempt. But failure is a huge part of growth.

Also, the final thing that I love that I just want to highlight for you is that, is it time to build your brand or build your bank account? One feels very long term. The other feels very short-term-focused, and regardless, the truth in both of those–as you'll learn, if you join me for my free brand bootcamp–is that it all comes down to your reputation and in each individual relationship.

So I actually really want to hear from you, what was your favorite part of the conversation? What was your biggest takeaway? So if you would, take a screenshot right now and tag us on social media, let Joe and I know what really popped for you, and I can't wait to connect with you. If you'd rather share that in a review, all good. But I definitely would love to hear from you.

Now, if you want to go further to get started on your fitness or your entrepreneurship, I'd invite you to click the link that goes alongside this episode. I've gathered a curated list of resources for you, including a free trial for Built For The Stage and and invite to be present at our annual online class that teaches personal branding and how to get photos that will pay you back and other entrepreneurial resources, including books, a nomad list of where you can travel and work remote, how to get remote health insurance, all kinds of good stuff. So click that link!

We do have one more episode for Season Two of Conversations with Changemakers. So if you enjoy this episode, I'd invite you to leave a review, check out our past conversations, and get subscribed for our season finale.

Thank you so much for listening. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving us your time. Have the happiest holiday season and think about this: how can you use your work to change the world? Maybe you and I can have a conversation about it very soon.

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