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340. Transforming Health and Entrepreneurship with Mike Fata

the daily helping podcast Dec 18, 2023

 Mike Fata's story is one of transformation, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit. Once a high school dropout who weighed 300 pounds, Fata turned his life around by embracing health and fitness. His journey led him to co-found a successful company that pioneered the introduction of hemp foods to the market. Fata's entrepreneurial ventures stem from his deep passion for natural, healthy foods, a passion that resonates throughout his professional endeavors.

Fata's transformation was not just physical but also mental and professional. Growing up in a challenging environment, he realized at the age of 18 that a change was necessary for his health and future. He replaced his fast-food diet with nutritious, whole foods and discovered the benefits of hemp seeds, which sparked his entrepreneurial journey. This transition was a stepping stone to his later successes in the health and wellness industry.

The essence of Fata's philosophy is captured in his book, "Grow: 12 Unconventional Lessons to Becoming an Unstoppable Entrepreneur." Here, he shares invaluable insights into aligning personal passions with professional goals. The book is a testament to his belief that anyone can achieve entrepreneurial success with the right mindset and dedication. One of the key lessons Fata emphasizes is the importance of understanding one's "best day ever" and striving towards making every day as fulfilling.

A crucial aspect of Fata's journey is his emphasis on community building and legacy. He advocates for giving back and supporting others, a principle he actively practices through volunteering and involvement in nonprofit organizations. Fata believes in creating a purposeful impact that extends beyond personal achievements, a legacy that makes a lasting difference in the world.

Mike Fata's journey is a powerful reminder of the potential within each of us to transform our lives and make a significant impact in our communities and industries. His story teaches us that growth, in all its forms, is not just possible but essential for a fulfilling and impactful life.


The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway

“We have to grow. You can’t sit status quo. It doesn’t work. I’d encourage everyone to think about what’s your next step of personal and professional growth.”




Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Google Podcasts to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.



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Mike Fata:

You can't sit status quo. It doesn't work. And so I'd encourage everyone to think about what's your next step of personal and professional growth.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Hello and welcome to The Daily Help with Dr. Richard Shuster, food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, tools to win at life. I'm your host, Dr. Richard. 

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Thanks for tuning into this episode of The Daily Helping podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Richard. And our guest today is awesome. His name is Mike Fata and he's a serial entrepreneur with multiple nine figure exits, and he's dedicated over 25 years of his life to studying and practicing natural health. We're going to talk about why in a bit, but he's gained an excellent knowledge base of human anatomy, diet, nutrition, and natural health lifestyle. He's a best-selling author, a keynote speaker and he's been featured on countless media outlets regarding natural health, nutrition, hemp foods, organic agriculture, sustainable business, entrepreneurship and mentorship. 

He's won countless awards. To name a few, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Socially Responsible Business Award, Top 40 Under 40, Company of the Year, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and Top 100 Health Influencers. Mike also hosts the Founder to Mentor podcast, which is a top five podcast globally, connecting you with world class founders to inspire your personal and professional growth.

His bestselling book, Grow: 12 Unconventional Lessons to Becoming an Unstoppable Entrepreneur was released in March of this year. We're going to talk about that and more. Mike, welcome to The Daily Helping. It is awesome to have you with us today.

Mike Fata: 

Yeah, thanks for having me and thanks for the great intro.

Dr. Richard Shuster:

Absolutely. So there's a lot we're going to talk about today. And I left a little bit out of your bio on purpose, because I don't like to give that away before we dive into it. So you've had a journey that has taken you on some different tracks here, but I want to hop in the Mike Fata time machine. And let's go back, let's talk about your kind of superhero origin story and what puts you on the path you're on today.

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. I'd say the superhero origin story, I grew up poor with a single mom. And I guess maybe without my dad's influence, I found myself misguided in my youth and decided that I was going to drop out of school. And I did that with my mom's blessing at a high school, but I fell prey to the fast-food movement and literally ballooned up to 300 pounds eating fast food every day and became sick and tired of being sick and tired. And that was my aha moment. 

At 18 years old, I decided to change everything about my life and go down this path of health and trying to be a healthier me, which led to being a health advocate, getting into the health business and basically all that I've done over the last 25 years. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Was there a moment in particular? Was there a health scare? Did a doctor say, hey, look, you're going to die. Like, what was the specific moment? If there was one where you said, I -- 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. I just felt shitty all the time. Every day was, I was tired, I was lethargic. I was smoking cigarettes then even. Like I just knew that I was not on the right path. And so there was a breaking point for me. I was influenced at that time in my life, but I also wanted a girlfriend instead of friends, girls that were friends and the two kind of went together. But yeah, I was literally, my hands and feet were getting numb and tingly. I couldn't walk without just being drenched in sweat. And so that kept me out of a lot of just normal activities that I saw my friends doing or people that I knew. And I wanted some of that. 

Thankfully, I have an older brother and he was a little chubby when he was a kid, but he was already into working out and going to the gym. And so when I said, hey, I want to make some changes, he’s like come to the gym with me. And that was a big part having a mentor that could help me start down that path. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

So the mentor piece kind of was planted as an early seed and obviously impacts what you're doing today. I know that you're one of the top influencers in health. You studied this for over two decades. Talk to us, we're here in 2023, people aren't healthy in 2023, both psychologically in many ways and physically. Talk to us about -- and I know this is a very loaded question with a very broad base set of answers but talk to us about some of the things that people could do to take command of their health.

Mike Fata: 

Well, your health is mostly what you put in your mouth, what you eat. You can say put what you put on your skin too, but people can start with what they put in their mouth. I've learned a lot being not only a health advocate, but in the health food industry, the reality is most of the food that is available is highly processed. 

So people eat fast food and all these bad oils and too much sugar in their diet and additives and preservatives and food colorings and all these agents that are in food that that just have an impact on the body. They make you more fat. They make you more -- they take your energy away. And I'm a big believer in the natural food diet, eating whole foods, which probably means cooking a little bit more for yourself at home than going out to fast food. 

But really when you change what you put in your mouth, and you eat for nutrition, but you avoid these chemicals and foods that you can't even pronounce when you look at the back of the label, it has a material impact on the body and people naturally feel like they have more energy. And that's the start of things. So focus on what you put in your mouth. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Succinct and awesome. I love that. And I know you've spent a lot of time in the food industry. I'm excited to hear this part of your story because where we left off, you were a high school dropout who wanted to have a girlfriend and be in better shape. You got hooked up with your brother. He was already going to the gym. You went to the gym. But how did you go from a high school dropout to getting into this space where you are creating and exiting multiple businesses? How did that entrepreneurship begin for you? 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. It was all about passion. So when I started losing the weight from going to the gym and experimenting with different foods that I was eating, basically cleaning up my diet, I started feeling better and each day I was feeling better. And so I became passionate for health, but I was learning about -- when I first started on the diet, it was a no fat diet, which was popular in the mid-1990s. And I learned about the essential fatty acids, omega 3 and the good fats that you need in your diet. 

And that led me to learning about hemp and hemp seed. And I just got super interested in good fats and thought that. all these people that are eating the no fat diet are going to suffer like I was from cutting fat out of my diet and got interested in hemp. And we were the first company to bring hemp foods to the market to start growing hemp seed in Canada and making hemp hearts in 1998. 

But I didn't have -- there was no business background for me. And so I didn't even know how to write a formal letter when I started the business. Everything was just following my passion. I thought the world needed this food. I thought I could be successful, but I didn't have any idea at how large we could make this business and how successful I was going to become at the time that I started.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

When you started, what were your professional goals? Just to get help people get -- 

Mike Fata: 

I wanted to make a million dollars and be a millionaire because that seemed -- as a kid that grew up poor, that was the shining star. It took us five years in business to reach our first million dollars in sales and a million dollars in sales in business is not a million dollars of cash because there's lots of expenses in the business. And I learned then that, oh, we need to be 10 times bigger. We need to be a $10 million dollar business before this is really going to be successful. But by the time that we achieved that 1st million, I saw the path to the $10 million which I couldn't have seen before that.

So I'm a big believer in entrepreneurship and just life goals in general. Just start. It's so much easier to drive and steer when you're already in the car moving instead of like, just sitting there and thinking that you want to start and that's been my entrepreneurship journey. And that's really what I talk about in my book and really in the information that I share is that I believe anyone that has a passion for something can be a good entrepreneur if they just jump in and start, start working at it.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

What I love about that, and I've heard this from many, many successful people over the years doing these interviews, is that it's never a cash grab, right? Or at least if it is a cash grab, you're less likely to be successful than seeking what you're really passionate about. And you had the personal story, you had multiple health risks and you had found the solution and then you had this idea in hemp, which a lot of people don't still today don't know a ton about. And that's really kind of what propelled you into the entrepreneurship. It's the passion. 

Mike Fata: 

Passion, yeah. And I, whether you're passionate about health, or you're passionate about sports, or you're passionate about building and construction, or there's so many things that people can be passionate about. And some people don't know what they're passionate about yet which then I would encourage you to go out and expand your palate, like you do with food, like nibble on all these little things and try. Like, if someone would -- if you could do something for the rest of your life that you enjoy, what would that be? And start there. Because if you love soccer, you could get into, and maybe you're not going to be a professional soccer player, but you can get into the business of soccer and start making soccer balls or find a way to make an app that ties into helping people find soccer games. 

Or just when you're doing that, what I found, it doesn't feel like work. You feel like you could do it for the rest of your life. You want to be excellent at it. So besides putting in the work, you're also learning how you become better. And that whole act in itself will lead to success. And ultimately, for us, it was a nine-figure success. It was massive. But I've seen it over and over the blueprint with friends and other people in the industry and entrepreneurs that they start out doing something that they love, that they're super interested in and they become world class at it.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

So I want to spend some time talking about your book, your bestselling book, Grow. Why did you write the book now? What was the impetus for creating this book? 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. I've always felt like I've done things a little different. I didn't grow up with rich parents. I didn't go to school. The business that we started was very unique, starting a hemp food business and being one of the first to pioneer hemp. But ultimately, I created a hundred million dollar multi-hundred-million-dollar success with it. 

And so I wanted to share that with other entrepreneurs and people that were even intrapreneurs, people that are working in other people's businesses. And I started sharing on social media. I was never into social media before that over the last three or four years and in short form, but this was the opportunity, and it was an itch that I needed to scratch. I had a book on my list for probably 15 years of the 25 years we've been in business. And finally, through the pandemic, I sat down and wrote it and brought it to life. And then, it launched earlier this year.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Let's talk about it. So the book is geared towards entrepreneurs, but I suspect whether you're an entrepreneur or not, there's going to be some things in there that could be helpful. And what's exciting about your book, unconventional lessons, right, because you had such an unconventional path. So we're not going to have time, obviously, to go through all 12, but let's talk about a few of your favorites.

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. I think it's, first, focusing on being your best self, right? And we just talked about some of it, but like, how do you go, how do you become, and give yourself boundless energy, get yourself in the healthiest space for being you? It starts with -- and I coined the term. I like the term best day ever. You have to understand and focus on what your best day ever is. 

A lot of people don't even sit back and say they're just stuck doing whatever they're doing. But if you take a step back and say, what is my best day ever look like? How much sleep do I want? What's exercise for me look like? Is it in the gym? Is it playing soccer? Is it doing something else? What kind of foods am I going to eat that are going to nourish me? What kind of work do I really want to work on that's going to just motivate me and fire me up. 

And so a lot of the initial part of it is focusing on what your best day ever is. And there's some exercises in the book for people to encourage them to think about it kind of outside the box. Because I believe if you're being your best self, you're going to be successful at whatever you put your energy to. So it starts there for me. But it goes deeper into finding your passion of what you really want to be working on, where you're going to leave your impact. 

And you're right. It's not only for entrepreneurs. I'm a big believer in entrepreneurs help really shape and build this world, but there's intrapreneurs, people that work with entrepreneurs in the business and they want to be the best finance professional that they could be, or they want to be the best marketing person that they could be, or the best salesperson that they're going to be. And they're really entrepreneurs within a business helping that business along. 

And so some of the lessons and some of the approaches are very, very similar, aligning your personal passions and interest with your business’ success or your business, which unfortunately, 99 percent of us aren't doing where we went to school for something, and then got a job to pay the bills and it's not necessarily aligned with what we're interested in. And then people feel stuck there. And I want to help people kind of have a view of how they get themselves out of that stuck place and some steps to be able to get there. Because from there, it's really about building community around your interest and your passion which means you have to put yourself out there. 

There's a lesson in the book about getting yourself up to a place of confidence where you want to scream from the mountaintops what you're interested in. And that allows the people with like interests, your community to form around you. And when you have a community around you, you are unstoppable as an entrepreneur or as an individual.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

I want to talk about forming community in a little bit in depth, but I don't want to lose the point because we've teased it throughout our conversation, Mike, about following your passion. One of the things you said is that you've got some exercises in the book to help people get there if they don't really know what their passion is. So I'd like you to share one of those because I think if somebody's listening to this, saying I want to know my passion, but I don't know how to find that out. What's your advice for them?

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. And we touched on it just briefly earlier, but I think about it, and I share it in a way that's very much like expanding your palate for food. Okay. If you don't -- if you ask someone what their favorite food is, and they say, well, it's pizza. Okay. Well, how many foods have you -- and maybe someone would say, I don't even know what my favorite food is. Well, you need to go out there and try all these different foods. Have you tried olives? Have you tried the different -- have you tried seaweed? Have you tried these different products and know what really -- because it's not only what tastes good to you, it's what makes you feel good. 

Same thing for work. Like, are you giving yourself enough time in your day, which usually has to be outside of your normal job? Because we all have our job and we have our responsibilities with family and kids, but you need to carve out an hour or two hours a day or whatever that right amount of time is for you to explore your interests. 

And some of the examples of -- and the questions asked in the book, the exercises are, what would you do if you didn't have the responsibility to go and make money the way that you're doing it right now? What would you be doing? How would you spend your time? And it's not drinking margaritas on the beach. Some people would think like that. That's not sustainable. I don't -- trust me. I tried that. It only works for a weekend or something. And that's why it feels good. But where can you align? 

And there's some examples that are pulled from other cultures in life. Like you're Ikigai. I don't know if you're familiar with that. 

Dr. Richard Shuster:

Tell us about that. Yeah. 

Mike Fata:

Yeah. Like what are you interested in? And then what's one of your passions? What are you good at? And those two usually align. What does the world need? And then how you can make money at that? And I have like kind of countless examples of it because it's different for everybody. Like some people want to be all into health and I know so many people that health is their driver because if you're unhealthy and you don't have energy and you start to change your diet or change your lifestyle and you get into a place where you're feeling better about yourself, likely, you're going to be super passionate about that because it just it feels good. 

You even spoke earlier when we were talking about some of your own personal circumstance and why you're doing what you're doing. Now, you want to share that message. You want to give back and you want to talk about balance and like how to leave a good life and not overwork yourself. But others, like my brother's in the construction, since he's been young, he's wanted to build things. He loves putting things together. It started with models and drawing and then it went to he built houses. Literally, that's what he wants to do all day long. And he's created a very successful business on it. 

And so sometimes, we just got to go back to our childhood to think about, like, what we would be doing if we had the opportunity. That's a lesson and can help people kind of tease that out. Everyone comes out a little bit different. So try to share a couple of different avenues that folks can be thinking about to get themselves out of their box and give yourself permission that really anything's possible in this life. There may be a gap between where you are right now and where you want to go but that really starts with a road map. And you have to give yourself a road map to what your best day ever is and then put the work in to get there. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Great stuff. I love this. So I'm excited to talk about community because I don't think I've ever done an episode where we've had an expert in building communities, but a lot of people have no idea. Right? Is it Facebook? Is it just having a lot of followers on social media? How do we go about building the community? Once we have this idea, as you said, that we want to shout from the rooftops.

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. For me, it's about giving back. Like if you're giving and helping other people, you're going to have people that want to help you. And it's not about that return helping you. But that's basically for -- you can think about community in the most simple way, because most people think about the community of where they live. Right? You move into a new neighborhood. You want to meet the neighbors and let them know who you are, and maybe what your strengths and what some of your interests are, and then you want to align to -- you want to get to know your neighbors and who they are and align to the ones that have similar interests. 

But then you know you can go further from there and say, hey, we're going to help organize event at the community park and get everyone together and whether that's a potluck event so everyone can contribute, but you're going to be the person that organizes. I'm a big believer in when you take that to a professional level and you align it with your business and whether you're an entrepreneur or the business that you're in form community around your business, your profession is really going to help to open doors for your own personal growth.

So, in my case, in the health food industry, I started volunteering my time right when I got into the business. And it started off in nonprofit organizations associations that everyone, that entrepreneurs and different members of the industry hung out at. And I said, sure. I started first by like, I'll be on a committee, or I'll help organize an event, which then led to being on board of directors for many different national organizations that govern our industry and just giving my time and my expertise there. 

I was learning through that. I learned a tremendous amount about governance and how larger organizations run, which served my business too, but I made so many friends and so many people that wanted me to win really, because they saw what I was giving to the industry, and they wanted to support me being successful in that. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Fantastic. So we've talked about community. We've talked about your best day ever. I know you've got 12 lessons on becoming unstoppable. Give us one more. 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah, I think there's a lesson around what's the impact that you want to have on -- what's your legacy building? Some people think about that as what are you going to do after you're successful when you retire? You exit what you're doing right now. I think you could build it in, along that, and start that kind of earlier. But, like, what is the next stage of you that you want to bring to this world? And you have to scope that. You have to scope that out. 

And I give some examples. Many people that are parents will be what do you want your kids to think about you? How do you want your family legacy to show up? Because, A, for the most part, we know our children don't do what we tell them to do. They do what they see us doing. Right? So that's a form of legacy building right there, but you could do that through your work as well. Similar to the example of community, what do you want to be known for? 

And some people, they're inventing new things. They're quite simply like bringing humanity, more humanity to the world or to their local environment, and that's what they want to be known for. 

But there's many people that don't even have that lens, Dr. Richard. And they don't think about like, why am I here? What's my purpose? And if I don't have all this distraction that I'm currently working on after that, so whether that's, you have to create success, or when you're 65 and you retire, like what's the next stage of you? Because I'm a big believer in that's what's going to keep you healthy and happy and have full longevity in life. And then just be and mean more than actually your life. You're going to have the ability to get bigger than your own life. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

You've said a couple of things there that are actually pretty rooted in science. Those that have fulfillment in their life tend to be happier, healthier, live longer. And those that have their mind engaged in exciting things are less likely to get dementia than somebody that hangs it up in 65 and just watches daytime TV for the rest of their life. 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. I've had, unfortunately, personal experience with it. My mom, I got to work with my mom and hire her at the business and she helped me build the business for the last seven years before we sold it. And when we sold the business, her retirement at 65 came at the same time. And so we sold the business, she retired and three weeks later, she died. 

And I know, well, she was struggling with some health issues, but she had this purpose to help in the business and that purpose, it drove her. And as soon as that was not in the picture anymore, it had an impact. I truly believe it had an impact. And now, you're right. There's a lot of science and great materials for people to kind of study to know, like you have to have purpose in life. It's all too dangerous.

Especially in your own family, your purpose is to raise your children, your children leave, and they're successful and they're off living their life. And all of a sudden, you lose that. You don't have that purpose anymore. Or you go and you work until you work 40 years until you're 60 years old and then you retire because you think it's about sitting on the beach and relaxing then and after two weeks of doing that, you realize it's not that but now you don't have a purpose. And so you have to think about what's next and it has to be bigger than you.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Well said. Well said. Mike, I know you've got a great podcast. Tell us a little bit about the show. 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. I realized that -- and I'm all about selflessness and then selfishness, and then marrying together. I realized that being a successful entrepreneur in the natural products and the consumer package of goods community, I have an unfair advantage access to all these great founders. And I wanted to have conversations with them myself. Some of them are great friends, and some of them, I know through the industry. 

And I wanted to bring those conversations forward because it's many, many successful people that have grown big businesses and even created new products and new movements. And these stories and how they overcome adversity and how they built great teams and how they built their business and the impact that they're having on the world, I wanted to share that. 

So Founder to Mentor was launched in late 2021, early 2022. And we've had over 50 episodes, great access to these world class founders. And there's nuggets and aha moments and takeaways in every episode. Again, whether you're an entrepreneur or you're just looking to personally and professionally grow in life.

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Beautiful. And we'll have a link to that in the show notes for sure. Mike, I have loved our conversation today. The time has absolutely flown by. As you know, I wrap up every episode by asking my guests a single question, and that is, what is your biggest helping, that one most important piece of information you'd like somebody to walk away with after hearing our conversation today? 

Mike Fata: 

We have to grow. You can't sit status quo. It doesn't work. And so I'd encourage everyone to think about what's your next step of personal and professional growth. 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Perfect. So, Mike, this has been awesome. Give us some URLs where people can learn more about you online, hit the podcast, get the book, et cetera. 

Mike Fata: 

Yeah. Everything, all things Mike Fata, you can find it at www.mikefata. Ca, 

Dr. Richard Shuster: 

Perfect. And for those of you on the treadmill, we got you covered. We're going to have everything Mike Fata linked in the show notes at Mike, thank you so much for joining us today. I love the conversation. Really excited about all you're doing in the world.

Mike Fata:

Thanks again for having me. 

Dr. Richard Shuster:

Absolutely. I want to thank each and every one of you as well, who took time out of your day to listen to the show. If you like what you heard, if you're going to get some help, if you're inspired, go give us a five-star review on your podcast app of choice, because that is what helps other people find the show. 

But most importantly, go out there today and do something nice for somebody else, even if you don't know who they are, and post it in your social media feeds using the hashtag #MyDailyHelping, because the happiest people are those that help others.


There is incredible potential that lies within each and every one of us to create positive change in our lives (and the lives of others) while achieving our dreams.

This is the Power of You!