My Interview on Burn TV | Breaking Down My #1 Key to Success

Being interviewed by Jamal Gibson

It’s been a long 6 years since I started Burn Boot Camp. We started in a parking lot in 2012 and really evolved the business model from there. To sit here now is pretty surreal, it was a very short amount of time, in retrospect.

What is the one thing you seem to center and focus on?

The impact I want to have. When I was 24, I started Burn Boot Camp. At the time, it was about impact, but also about paying my bills. Initially, that was a driver to keep me going. Once I was 26 and that wasn’t a factor to me anymore, it became an obsessive compulsion about achieving as much impact as I possibly could. It’s a blessing to have that impact, and it keeps me going every single day.

My time is dedicated to other people. Whether it be answering my direct messages from clients or diving into marketing, making the time isn’t what I’m doing – I’m here to serve others. To be a strong leader and to have a strong following, you need to serve them to become a leaders, too. There are a lot of people who have a ton of followers but aren’t creating leaders from that following.

Tell us a little bit about what it was like to grow up as young Devan.

It was awesome. If you look under the hood of my story, no one would say it was that awesome. The reality of it was that I had a father who was an abuser of drugs and alcohol, an abuser of his family members, and in and out of prison his whole life. I also had a mother who fled and struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol when I was 13 or 14 years old.

I got a lot of love from my coaches and teammates because I was a good athlete, but that was my only source of love. I used that fear of going back in a toxic environment as motivation to stay on the field. I was a Minor League baseball player for three seasons and played with the Central Michigan Chippewas in college. I went on to play for the San Francisco Giants before I was finally released from playing baseball.

My upbringing taught me so much about who I was as a person, and the reason I perceive it as awesome is because of all the lessons it taught me. The past was an incredible experience, because of what it built. Burn Boot Camp taught me how to have a family and taught me what true family really was.

Where did your foundation of influence come from?

Modeling is my #1 key to success. Looking at the successes, or the failures, of other people and studying it and being curious is really important.

I’m also influenced by guys like Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn. Will Smith was an important role model in my life when I was a kid. To come out of Philadelphia and have the impact that he’s having is incredibly inspiring to me. Frank Kern is a huge success as well and I’ve learned everything I know about the Internet from him.

When you don’t have many resources, you have to be resourceful. I didn’t have a mentor growing up, which means no one really took me under their wing; I wasn’t blessed with that opportunity. We were blessed with the Internet.

All these role models represent something different, but they all tell you to find a role model, find a mentor, model and emulate those who are successful so you can take decades of time and press it into hours or days.

You have some really strong role models, could you expand on that?

Anytime you go from a parking lot with about $600 to almost a $100 million company in six years is pretty rapid growth. Especially doing it self-sufficiently and not using any external help or resources.

I’m no different than anybody else. All I decided to do was make a decision, take a stand, and be bold on something I really believed in. I didn’t choose training and building a franchise company because I wanted to make money. I chose it because it chose me. I opened my heart up to allow my life to lead me in whatever direction after baseball that would fulfill me and create passion in my life, and that was this industry.

[On different roles in his company] I think you have to wear multiple hats. I grew up on fitness and graduated to entrepreneurship. There’s a learning curve there, especially not having any role models.

When I was 24 years old, I had no idea what I was doing. One of the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my career was when I was 24 and I was learning to build HTML code. I didn’t know what a staging server was so I using other people’s pictures for place fillers, but I didn’t realize it was live. But no matter what, take action, even if the action is imperfect I still learned a ton from that. I learned to never do that again at a very early age.

For 6 straight years I was focused all on baseball. My second biggest mistake was probably during that 6 year period, not learning more. Don’t wait to start learning, learn now. I was so focused on making the big leagues, that it was all I thought about.

Despite all the mistakes we make, no one is ever perfect. I believe that perfection is the ultimate failure. If you ever try to be perfect, you will end up disappointed. I don’t have an expectation of perfection for myself, but I do have an expectation of growing every single day. My expectation is making mistakes then taking those mistakes and pulling out the positives.

I think my mentality is shaped that way because of my background. My circumstances are not a reason or excuse for me to be broke or not be successful. At 24 I had to figure out everything. I think my mindset has been shaped that way because of the lack of mentorship that I had and my ability to be self-aware that I need mentorship in my life. You need to go out and seek it.

Eminem is a huge role model for me. Everything is stacked against him, you have no money, you’re a white kid in Detroit, and you have a silly different style that is more bold than everyone else. To have that audacity to say ‘this is who I am, and I’m doing this because this is what matters to me,’ is incredibly inspiring to me.

Who is somebody you feel you’ve impacted through this experience of being with Burn?

If you’re measuring impact on a day-to-day basis, my Franchise Partners are the most impacted. Not only is it an opportunity for them to change their health, it’s an opportunity to do something that they’re passionate about and to be surrounded by a group of people that also want the same things they do. When you add financials into it that affect your family and the places you live and the career path you have, I believe that they’re impacted the most.

I get an equal satisfaction of seeing a Franchise Partner quit their Corporate America job and join our family and blow it up. I seek satisfaction in the lady who dropped 30 pounds. When I walked in to Surprise, Arizona, she gave me a giant hug said “Thank you for starting this, because I’ve never been a workout person and this is something I didn’t know that I needed. Until it came into my life and found me, I wasn’t a whole person and it’s given me an opportunity to create a whole life for me.” That is super powerful.

With the way the fitness industry is and the way you treat your Franchise Partners, why did you make that part of the business you have?

Magnetic people are attracted to people like them. You are a product of the five people that you most surround yourself with. It’s important because your circle of influence is your lifeblood.

When I was released from the Giants there was a fork in the road – I had a choice to make. Do I go left or right? If I go left, I am no longer going to play baseball, I’m going to move on and find a different passion. If I go right, it’s give up, quit, and go back to the life I was planning on leading.

Those people you have in your life are the ones that are going to help you make those decisions. They are the ones that will be honest with you and allow you to make decisions to chase your dreams.

How does it feel to have your wife in that circle?

Morgan was the first person I called when I was released from the Giants. I had a conversation with her and said “Look, I’ve been away from you for six years, I was more passionate about ball when I was in high school and college than I am here. Do I want to spend the next eight years grinding to make the big leagues, or do I want to find another passion and start now?” I’m a big believer in progression. Happiness is all about progressing and getting better every single day. In that particular situation I had to weigh in the fact that if I went to another team, I would have started at a lower rank. For me, it wasn’t worth it to do so. She said, “What do you love to do, what motivates you, what drives you?” She was a mentor for me in that regard. Those questions allowed me to examine my life moving forward and who I wanted it to be.

The maturity that you display at such a young age especially in business success and also how you do your everyday movement, how does that affect your effectiveness so that you can contribute to your career?

My entire world is built around rituals. When I get up in the morning I do the same thing every day. I’ll get up at 4:30 a.m. and have some Burn Nutrition supplements. I’m either going for a 20-minute run or a 45-minute strength training workout. Always listening to one of my mentors, like Tony [Robbins] or Jim Rohn. I’m getting those good inputs in the morning.

I enjoy my time with my daughter; I am focused on her and her needs. I get out early and spend time on projects all day at the office. Then I go home and spend more time with my kids, not necessarily disconnected from technology, but investing it back into time with family.

From there, I love to work. It’s not even work, it’s a mission. It’s a focus on creating an impact at scale. Your impact doesn’t take time off, and everyone else out there is trying to beat you. That’s where my competitor comes out because nobody was beating me in baseball! I wasn’t always the most talented person out there, but I always worked hard and had a strong mentality.

It has translated well in business because I don’t believe there’s anyone out there that can work as hard, as long, endure as many problems, and be as excited about enduring the problems. My passion moving forward is going to take me more into that business ownership and teaching people the formula to put it together.

If we were in a race to California, there’s thousands of different ways to get there. The ones who drive the most, who make it through those tired hours, who don’t make unnecessary pit stops, keep a lean process, getting there as fast as possible. The navigation will change along the way.

It’s important to understand you know why you want it and what’s specific to you. What are the strategies that will help you to get there. If there’s any difference, I was able to understand who I am and what I wanted at a young age. At my first job, after baseball, working at Direct TV I realized that’s not what I wanted. I hated my first job even though I was making good money.

I was most satisfied with my family and training. I realized money, and making money, was not what created fulfillment for me. I’m a very decisive person and that job lasted three weeks. I wanted to pursue training. I started a bootcamp called Lightning 900 at a parking lot in Naples, Florida. That was the first model for Burn Boot Camp. I built the Burn Boot Camp model while finishing school and working a full-time job.

What do you see moving in the future?

We started off with goals to open 1,000 locations in the first six years, to help millions of people change their perception of what it means to be healthy. We want a cultural paradigm shift. We want to be able to get into the psychology of what makes people unhealthy and reverse engineer that process so that, at scale, we can teach people that being healthy is not something you’re born with. You are not born a fitness person. You are born the same as everybody else, and it’s your choices you make along the way. So many people have been told they are ‘big-boned’ or their family is overweight or it’s genetics. Our mission is to get people to say, “taking care of myself is the least selfish thing I could possibly do with my life.” It starts and stops with us at human beings, we control ourselves. We want to scale that mindset and get the world to redefine what fitness is and why it’s so important. I believe we will be a catalyst, but we need the rest of the world to collectively be unified with the same mentality if we want to make a shift.

For Burn Boot Camp it’s not just 1,000 locations anymore, it’s 15,000, and that’s global. Every day is an opportunity to redefine the standards.

Before we wrap it up, what’s your favorite thing about your Daily Devan on your Instagram?

My favorite thing about that is sharing my daughter and son. That probably gets the most engagement. It’s a snapshot into my daily life. It’s my thoughts and opinions and advice on business and fitness. If people want to listen then that’s great. Follow me on Instagram @devan.kline to see more fitness, nutrition, family, business and lifestyle. 

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