Lewis Howes

Tap Into Inner Greatness

by Lucia Viti

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photograph by Nick Onken

Lewis Howes is a one-man empire. Cultivated from the ground up, the lifestyle entrepreneur, author, keynote speaker, high-performance coach, webinar presenter and podcast host crafted a multimillion-dollar online media company by fusing intellect, tenacity, fortitude, courage and perseverance. Recognized by the White House as one of the top 100 American entrepreneurs under 30, Howes is constant in his pursuit of excellence. Now touting his New York Times bestseller, The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, the online mogul towers among the entrepreneurial giants of today. But that wasn’t always the case. 

Chasing a Dream

Howes forged through a turbulent childhood—bullied and sidelined as an outcast—by excelling in athletics, in both football and the decathlon. Grit and guts made up for what the self-described “tall, skinny, goofy-looking kid” lacked in talent. “I wasn’t the fastest, strongest or the most talented athlete,” he says, “but I knew the coaches loved the guys who hustled. So I hustled; not just to make the team but to start, be great and [be] accepted by my peers. I worked to be better prepared than anyone else while taking advantage of every opportunity that came my way.”

The Ohio native became a two-sport all-American planning a future in professional football…until a wrist injury decimated his career. Broke and broken, the 24-year-old crashed on his sister’s sofa and sank into a deep depression. Without a formal education, Howes remained uncertain about his future. 

“Everything about my identity was tied to football,” he states. “I had little to support my need to survive, let alone thrive. I lacked the skills, tools, knowledge and expertise to land a job. I lacked a college degree. The economy was in decline. The timing was tough.”

Howes didn’t take long to change the trajectory of his future. “I began obsessing about business, marketing and positively influencing others. I reached out to mentors who inspired me. I asked them to coach me. I knew I had to aggressively change my mindset to develop the necessary skills to become 
an entrepreneur.”

Going For It

For the next two years Howes hustled “left and right, 12 to 14 hours a day” leaving no stone unturned and no prospect untapped. He rehabbed his injury by working out and taking salsa dance classes. Howes didn’t just learn the nuances of venues such as LinkedIn, he became an expert at building a foundation of relationships from it. When interning—for free—at an invention company, he attended master classes in business administration. He formulized self-promoting webinars, making his first “real money” while teaching others how to maximize LinkedIn as an essential resource. The budding entrepreneur burst onto the online marketing scene as a lifestyle and business coach, while establishing his name—and ultimately his brand—through social media. “I took what worked for me and ran with it.

“I worked for seven years before launching the podcast The School of Greatness in 2013”, he says of his successful forum that showcases inspiring stories from “some of the most brilliant business minds, world-class athletes and influential celebrities on the planet.”

Howes attributes his expansive podcast audience to his ability to connect with people from all walks of life, not just online marketers. Interviewees include sports, business and science aficionados. “Greats who reached the pinnacle of success by choosing to do so,” he adds. 

Putting It On Paper

Howes quickly capitalized on his podcast to fulfill his dream of writing a book that would inspire millions and become a New York Times bestseller. “I was determined to give people the tools that my mentors gave me to learn how to embrace greatness in their everyday lives,” Howes says. “The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy was written based on the success of my podcast. People were hungry for powerful, meaningful and purposeful.”

Within a year, his dream come true catapulted his podcast into the stratosphere. Howes had successfully translated his concept of hustling greatness into a thriving business that helped others. “I will do whatever I can to serve people and show them how much I care.” 

According to Howes, there are a million ways to be great for those determined to utilize their gifts and talents in achieving their dreams. “Greatness doesn’t come to you, you go to it,” he paraphrases from his bestseller. “Greatness moves. You slow down, it moves farther away. You stop, and it disappears over the horizon.”

The School of Greatness encourages everyone on their journey of discovery, regardless of their present track. “These concepts of mindfulness, joy and love harness dreams by lifting us from the depths of despair,” continues the social media kingpin. “The School of Greatness is not a bag of tricks or hacks. This isn’t boot camp. The School of Greatness is a way of life, a way of living.”

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Living Your Dream

Those who flourish do so because of their ability to conquer adversity and seize opportunity, notes Howes. “Greatness is the survival of your vision based on your willingness to face adversity while adopting a mindset to seize opportunity,” he reveals. “I took a strategic approach in learning how to leverage my talents to create results. The School of Greatness creates a package for everyone to put the work into their lives and do what they’re meant to do.” His advice for readers of American Fitness:

Identify and build on your strengths. “Our best asset is the perception that others have of us,” he points out. “Brand yourself, build an audience, network and give yourself options. Don’t limit yourself to just what’s offered to you; create an opportunity. Be proactive. Build relationships, educate and differentiate yourself.”

Do something you love. “People need to get clear on what they want to do and how to make that happen,” he concludes. “Many live a lie—frustrated, struggling, unhappy and unfulfilled—by not following their dreams. To achieve the building blocks of greatness, we must strive to do what we love. Success is doing what you love to do. I’m driven to do something great with my life—to be a symbol of inspiration for those who believe they’re champions.”

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Continue to dream big. “If we lose the ability to dream, we lose the ability to fully live and express ourselves. I dream constantly,” says Howes. “Dream as big as you can, and be on the path toward that dream.” AF

Meet our experts

AFM-Author-Viti Lucia Viti, is an AFAA certified, 34-year fitness veteran and freelance journalist. Ms. Viti presently teaches at the Bay Club Carmel Valley located in San Diego.

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