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Jan 25, 2023

How to build a personal brand with Matt Choi

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Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: What's up True Sports family. Thank you so much for joining us again for another awesome episode. You're about to hear Matt Choi talk about all things personal branding. He's done an awesome job of building his own personal brand, of monetizing his passions. He'll talk a little bit about that, and really share some pearls of how to build a following and how to really chase your dreams. And he's done an outstanding job of it. And we also get towards some of his clinical side, which is the accomplishments of transforming his athleticism from an explosive anaerobic athlete all the way to completing ultra-marathons, really being, an anaerobic animal. So without further ado, enjoy the conversation with Matt Choi.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Welcome back to the True Sports Physical Therapy Podcast. We got Matt Choi with us, who is a ball of energy. I feel like we just did an entire podcast before I even hit record. I will make it a habit, for those of you watching to have more bald guests on. Unfortunately, we have Matt Choi today who looks fresh with an outstanding head of hair. And he's gonna bring really an awesome perspective to the sports PT world, to the fitness world because he lives so well in this digital space. So I'm really excited to learn about that and hear about that and hear how we could be doing it better at True Sports PT, how sports physical therapists across the country maybe could be doing this better. I look forward to learning that. So as we get rolling, tell us, Matt, how you would describe Matt Choi.

Matt Choi: One, thank you so much for having me here, man. It's super fun and I think our energies are just bouncing back and forth from each other. But, I would best describe myself as someone who has developed himself into a lifelong learner. And I think that's a big part of who I am as a person. I think I can go into a lot of my traits and qualities that make me who I am. But I think above all else, I'm a lifelong learner and I haven't always been that way. And I think it's why I wanna start off even just kind of speak on that now. I think when I was playing college football and my whole childhood, giving you guys a little context has been around football and sports specifically. And I earned a college scholarship and I did all the things of being that student athlete, but for a long time I never stepped outta my comfort to actually dedicate learning as a big part of who I am as a person. And it wasn't until I got done with football, after I kind of lost my identity as that athlete, that I really started to dive deeper into furthering my education just as a human. I think so many times after we are done with college, after the textbooks are done in front of us, how many people actually spend the time to continue their learning? And that's been a big part of my journey in the marketing space and the fitness space. In my space, just as learning more about who I am as a person but I would say Matt Choi is a lifelong learner.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Love that. That's a hell of a description and a tall order to certainly live up to. But a great description. I think I've learned that if you're continuing to work on yourself and coming from a place of humility that's gonna just lead you to, one, attract people to wanting to be around you. I think that's such an endearing quality that people wanna be around. So that's probably why you've, one of the reasons you've developed this unbelievable following is that you come from it from a place of, "Hey, I, Matt Choi, I am trying to get better." So that definitely lands with me. Walk me through your professional history. How you got to where you are.

Matt Choi: Hell yeah. So after I was done with college football, I graduated with a business marketing and management degree. And just like many kids when they're 22, 23, however old you are at that age, you're trying to figure out what's the next step. I didn't have like a... I wasn't studying to be a lawyer or physical therapist or doctor. So there wasn't this planned blueprint of what's gonna be next for me over the next 8-10 years. So for me it was just like the next thing was get a job. So I worked corporate America. I worked for this company called Shredded, and I did a lot of different jobs at this position. I did management, I did operations, I worked in sales. So I got a three-angle approach of business as a whole from a corporate company. But after about a year and a half of working there, I decided to then shift out of that job and kind of go more into a passion project. I went fully into personal training and content development. And at that time I moved back home. It was a big slice of humble pie to move back at home at 24 years old. And it's something that not many people really wanna do at that age, but it actually was a big stepping stone in my career. But I got into personal training at that time. Yoni, I didn't even have a NASM-CPT, I was just using my knowledge and education as a practitioner from playing football and then helping other younger kids with the same exact things that I was doing for college.

Matt Choi: But as during that time, I was continuing to make videos and continuing my learning as a personal trainer. So I would actually intern at Rehab2Perform, and then I would intern under Coach Plez up at Mad Fitness just so I can learn around people that are doing the thing that I was trying to do. Physical therapists have a such amount of knowledge that if you're a personal trainer and you're listening to this right now, I highly recommend find a local PT that you can shadow once a week or once every two weeks because they have so much of that book knowledge in addition to then applying it for certain injuries or how to program and all the things that PTs know. At the same time, my experience of actually learning under a performance trainer with Coach Plez was by far an experience that really catapulted my athleticism, but also my ability to work with people and coach. So that was like kind of my grassroots start. And with a lot of that during those times, no one was really following my journey. I had maybe 1000 followers on Instagram, but I was just sharing what I was trying to do. And that's kind of been the jumpstart of all of this. And fast forward 2 1/2, 3 years later later to where I sit now, I've actually then been able to turn this online business into what I do full-time. And I don't really train people in person anymore. A lot of my business is all online.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: And so you're doing coaching, remote coaching, tell me exactly how you're generating an income now.

Matt Choi: Yeah, so I do remote coaching now in addition to, I have brand partnerships where I work with brands to make videos. And as simple as that sounds obviously the world is going to very... A lot of short form content, specifically these big brands. And a lot of big brands have CMOs that are very, very old school, that are very conventional, that they're still pushing money in TV ads and billboards and all those things. But there's a new way to market what you do. And if you're not on the platforms that have the most organic reach or that can get you the most exposure, then at some point someone in your industry will be on those platforms and they'll take some market share, right? It's not like your whole business is gonna be destroyed because you're not on social media, but the people that end up committing to those things and investing time and assets into building a social following, which in this scenario, I would say personal brand, the best way to describe it is it's your reputation.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: For sure. For sure. Yeah. And why wouldn't you want to invest everything you could into your reputation? We are only our reputation. So that makes total sense. It's amazing. Just backing up a little bit, when you talk about CMOs in larger companies, chief marketing officers, they get this massive budget and they just have to spend it. And I feel like that... Just the fact that that exists is what keeps these TV ads progressing. One thing I learned in my entrepreneurial journey is that doesn't work for the here and now or for sure, like in the market. You're trying to develop uber local, you have to really understand your market before you say, "Here's how I'm gonna attack marketing to them." And I think that's what you've done really well is, hey, your market lives online, right? My market is the prep school, the collegiate, the professional athlete, they live online. I think it's hard to make a case who doesn't? Maybe geriatrics, maybe the elderly and if that's your model, great. Maybe you plunk down a couple bucks like on a TV ad, but so much, especially in the sports world, is younger, living online, that's where you gotta spend your time and it doesn't have to be paid. It's creating great content. Just like you're kind of pointing out, Matt, would that be right? 

Matt Choi: A hundred percent, man. I think the organic opportunities for specifically small business to medium size business is actually the best strategy. Like if you are a small or medium size business, you can't operate how big organizations operate because it's a losing battle. To exactly what you said, Yoni. You don't have the budget of a Coca-Cola of anyone in your industry, right? Like a pivot or whoever it is that's kind of more corporate. So you have to act as if you are a small or medium size business. And the best way to do that is utilizing organic content. Because if you use the platforms that give you that exposure, that reach, that's your funnel, that's your lead in, right? You want new customers, you want new eyes, you want to grow your email list? Well, if you grow online and it gives you a better opportunity to build that and then use that platform to then build your actual business.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah. I love that. You've been exceedingly nimble with the way you've marketed yourself. That's something that's a strength to the startup world, to the startup nation. We're able to maneuver around the pivots of the world or these larger stodgy practices or if you're... If you're a, let's call it a fitness startup, you're able to better position yourself maybe than even the Nikes of the world because they're just these albatrosses that are monsters and there's so many moving parts in there. But you Matt Choi, you could be nimble and you can craft your message beautifully because it's... Right now it's just you, right?

Matt Choi: Yeah, 100%. I think it's like... It's why when you're an entrepreneur, I think it's... It actually benefits you sometimes to stay private because then you don't have to respond to shareholders. You don't have to act business-wise to appease someone, to appease the numbers, right? And I think to your point, Yoni, like in my space specifically, if you're a creator or you're building something online, you are... You're the judge and the jury. You get to dictate kind of how you move and how you wanna maneuver your business. So it's almost like an Achilles heel. It's a strength and also it could be a curse.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah, absolutely. So much of it is being self-aware. I think that has a lot to do with what you were saying being a life learner. One thing that you mentioned that that really opened my eyes a bit was when you were talking about you move home, little bit dose of reality. Certainly a dose of humility, can be a humbling experience because maybe you didn't hockey stick your way straight up, but you took in a personal account to say, "Hey, what do I know? What don't I know? Where do I get better? And you find the Plezes of the world who's just an outstanding speed coach and you didn't even have a certification. Dude, even if you had a certification, you wouldn't have known crap. And I say that as a guy who has a doctorate in physical therapy, 'cause when I came outta school, I didn't know crap. And I promise you, Matt, yesterday, I hopefully don't know as much as I know today having had this conversation with Matt Choi, right? So knowing where you are and how you continue to get better is so essential. So the advice that comes out of that listening to you talk about it is always, always figure out, "What am I learning today that I didn't know yesterday?" And then you've done an awesome job of finding different platforms to say, "Hey, here's what I learned. Maybe you guys could use this, maybe you couldn't, but here's what I just learned." So the next piece of that is what platforms would you say are most important?

Matt Choi: I would say as many as possible. And I think we all live in this game of like, or... Like Instagram or TikTok, Instagram or LinkedIn, right? And I think everyone should be thinking, and. It's all of it. As much as you... As much as you have the bandwidth for, that's as much as you should push out. Right now, it's easier to be on a lot of these platforms because they're copying each other. Everyone wants to be like TikTok, right? Everyone wants this short form, 30-9o second videos where you're grabbing someone's attention and giving them value to then extract something in return, whether it's a follow or whether it's potentially a customer, whatever it is. But I would say for most people, listen to this, in any business, you wanna be everywhere because on TikTok, you might get that young athlete that's dealing with that hammy injury or that ankle injury, right? Or if you're on Instagram or Facebook, you might got... You might get that middle of the pack business professional that's leisurely watching. They're leisurely scrolling as they're watching their tv. And then if you're on LinkedIn, you could go directly to business consumer of like, "Hey, are you someone that slouches all day, that sits at your desk and your fricking back is super sore?" You can hyper get super specific with who you target on LinkedIn.

Matt Choi: So I think for everyone it's understanding who's your end consumer and how can you best communicate a message to then target them. And you can do this on every platform in very, very different ways. But the positive is that because everyone's copying what TikTok is doing, you can seemingly put the same video on TikTok and post it on Instagram, post it on YouTube shorts, post it on LinkedIn, and post it on Facebook reels where you can use one video across five different platforms. And that's how you can pro... Basically upload a video on every single platform. And I always tell people like, "Yo, post one video a day on every single platform." They're like, "Matt, I don't have the time to post five videos. And if you do what I just said of using the same asset and basically outlaying it on multiple platforms, that is the best strategy to get yourself more organic reach and more exposure.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Where did you learn all this stuff? 

Matt Choi: Dude, a lot of this... That's a great question. A lot of this has just been online through the internet. I listen and I consume so much Gary Vee like it's my job. People ask me, "Who's your mentor?" I say it's Gary Vee. I've only met Gary a couple times. I actually have exchanged some conversations with him. But so much of this information is no secret. There's nothing I will say today that's brand new that Matt Choi made up. It's all of this is already out on the internet right now. I think what I've done a great job of, Yoni, is actually putting it into practice. A lot of people read a book, they listen to a podcast, they get the information, very few people do something about it. And I think over my past three and a half years of making content every single day, dude, when no one was watching my stuff, I still had this energy, I still had this fire. And I knew that at some point someone will watch it. And I think for anyone, if you're patient enough on your process or whatever you're trying to do in this world, at some point you will catch a break. And that's kind of been my journey.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Love it. Tell me about where that fire comes from, because holy cow, you got a lot of fire.

Matt Choi: I appreciate it, dude. I think, really it comes from a place of not fully maximizing who I was as a human, and I really do this football story for me is my whole life, man. I dedicated everything I could to football, and I got a lot back, man. I got a lot from football, earned a college scholarship and all those things. But I've realized that at some point there's a cap for that passion project for me. It capped me out at 23 years old, I didn't go get a chance to play in the NFL. I had to throw my cleats away just like every... Just like most college athletes, you have to figure out what you wanna do next with the next 60, 70 years of your life. And as I started to peel back that onion, I realized, I'm like, "Hold on. Why am I putting myself in a box? Why am I just a football player? Is that all I am? Is that all that God put me on this earth for?" And I started realizing, I'm like, "Why am I limiting myself on what I can do in this world?" And I easily could have stayed at that corporate job and moved up the ladder and in a couple years maybe been a VP or in the C-suite or whatever. But I don't think I would've found passionate in just getting by, just staying comfortable playing on "defense". And I think a lot of my journey has been, one, to your point about self-awareness, it's about understanding who I am as a person and what I can achieve on this earth.

Matt Choi: And I think through a lot of different things... Once I got done with football I kind of went through my own little mental depression of like, "Damn," like that lost of identity. And as I started to listen to different entrepreneurs and different people that were winning in their space of business or lifestyle or whatever it is, I realized that the human potential is all in our own mind. Whatever you think you can do, it's all in your own mind. Whatever you think you can or you can't do is in between your own ears. And if you're able to change that framework and if you're able to download a different software, you can pretty much do anything in this world that you want. And once I saw that opening and that awakening, I was like, "Oh, shit." This translates to relationships, to business, to fitness, to lifestyle, to mindset, to everything that we touch in this world. Every human is multifaceted. You're more than just a PT. I know you're probably a father, you're a husband, you're a brother, you're X, Y, and Z. We have all of these roles and tasks that we live by, but so many people just put yourself in a box of I'm just a physical therapist, I'm just a lawyer. No you're not. And I did that to myself for so many years and I will not do that again moving forward. And people look at me as just like a runner and I'm like, "Dude, I'm more than a runner." You see me as a runner now. Yes. But obviously as humans, we're so much more than just "what we do".

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah. I love that. I love your your phrase. We need to start thinking and not or, but and. I also love your phrase, we are not just, and I think it should stop there. I think we need to get rid of this word just, because I think that does it pigeonholes you. It's like when I give home exercises to a patient and they come back and I'm like, "Hey, did you do it?" "Yeah, I've been doing the little exercise." I'm like, "Da, don't call it little. It's massive." It's so goddamn important. What do you think? I'm wasting your time and my time by giving you this exercise? It's the ticket to you achieving your goals. It's the same thing with just, you're not just a runner, you're not just a personal brand. You're so many... You're an amalgamation of all of these skills and you're providing just awesome education because you're including all of these skills. One of the things that in doing a little bit of research for this pod that I loved was you described yourself as pushing yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And I wanna hear from you, what does that mean? That you are pushing your body spiritually.

Matt Choi: I think... What I think about first, Yoni, is everyone has their own level of faith in something. And if you look up what the definition of faith is, is believing something that you can't see and it could be fairy dust, it could be God, it could be a holy figure, it could be the big bang theory, whatever someone might believe in. But I think for me, working on that spirituality part is a mixture of a couple of different things. It could be as simple as my practitioner-ship of doing meditation every day in the morning, where I don't touch my phone at all in the first 25, 30 minutes of the day because it's a big intention for me because I'm on the phone and devices so much that I need that little time in the morning where I have zero distractions in the world. It's so easy to scroll through Instagram and DMs and messages and emails the first thing in the morning, but I'm sure you've done studies and there's so much research now that the cortisol happens in your brain as you're trying to really dive into this...

Matt Choi: It's not the best practice early in the morning. So even for some, that's something technical. But I think spiritually just in general, I think as humans, we're all looking for that belief system. And honestly, for me, sometimes it happens when I'm doing physical challenges. Sometimes my spirituality push is happening in those moments as well. When I was on my 100-mile race, I was not just taxing myself physically and mentally, but there are some internal beliefs as well. There are some thoughts of doubt and uncertainty that you're facing, and any time you're in that essence of the unknown, I feel like you're pushing your spiritual limit because you have to have that inner belief. And it's bigger than just a mindset. It's bigger than the physical aspect. I think any time that you're really in a challenge or digging deep in something, you start to work on the spirituality side. And I grew up going to church. I grew up doing those things because my grandma was so heavily invested into that community, and then it trickled down to my mom, and then my aunts and uncles and things of that sort. But there became a point where my mom didn't force me and my brother to go to church anymore, because there was like...

Matt Choi: There's a lot of drama in any industry, in anything that you do right? And it's just like period, right? And she had some bad experiences and she didn't really foster us, like she didn't encourage us to go all the time. But me and my brother had to do work on our own faith in our own way. And I think it's different for every single person. There's no right way to practice faith. I think it's just something that if it's important to you, you find aspects of your life to maybe dedicate a couple minutes here and there. But I would say that two things are doing my dedication and meditation practices in addition to do... When I'm in that ringer, when I'm in the unknown, sometimes those moments are the most clear for me.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: That's really powerful. You talk about religion. Truth is, when you talk about your entrepreneurial journey, what I've heard from you is just so much about self-control, humility, self-realization, and then I asked you a question about spirituality and you're talking about meditation and dedication and overcoming the trials that you put yourself into. That is the crux of a religion. When it's well-played, everything you just kind of laid out, should be synonymous with all of these different types of religion. It's just about pulling out the best parts of them, owning them, embodying them. And that sounds like it's a big piece of what's taking you to this high level. It's pretty powerful.

Matt Choi: Yoni, I could not agree more. And you know what the funniest thing is, is like if you just look at history, if you open up a Bible and you look at the actual theories and the ideologies that are in that Bible, it's very similar to the biggest entrepreneurs, the most successful people in the world, the belief system, it overlaps so much. And I never try to push religion on anyone 'cause it's just like politics, it's like it's your own thing. Make it your own. But to your point, Yoni, 1000%, the more that I actually listen to different pastors that were able to preach a message that hit the younger demographic, in addition to me learning from some of my favorite entrepreneurs, Yoni, so much of the belief systems overlap, patience, curiosity, self-discipline, accountability. These are not sexy traits, but it's actually the ingredients to build something powerful.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah. I just wish religion was taught a little bit more like this and with a little bit less guilt. Right? Like wouldn't that be...

Matt Choi: It would be an interesting thing.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Guilt, yeah. Can you imagine Judaism without guilt? I can't. But we should. We should imagine that. Okay, you're right, enough about religion, but fascinating nonetheless. When you talk about the pastors that you listen to, and Gary Vee being one of your business pastors, anyone else on that list? Who else are you like, "Hey, I gotta listen to their pod. It's gonna help me with building my own personal brand"?

Matt Choi: Yeah, I mean, it's a mixture. And I try to pull from a lot of different directions just because, like I said, the first thing I said, like being a lifelong learner, it's important to get different thoughts, right? So I would say this. A business coach or a mindset coach I like to listen to is Jim Kwik. I'm a super big fan of Jim Kwik. He has this book called Limitless and has one of my favorite quotes ever of, "The only limits you have are the ones you believe in."

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Love it.

Matt Choi: I love that quote. So he's someone that helps me with neuroplasticity, things of that sort. Andrew Huberman's a great one just in the neuro space as well. Jay Shetty, who wrote the book "Live Like a Monk", more on the spirituality side once again, Yoni, that's also something where listening to him and how he thinks about life and practices every day stuff is a big spirituality part for me as well. Then there's guys like Jesse Itzler, who I just really admire his ability as an entrepreneur, as a husband, as a runner, as an athlete, just down the list, he's just a really quality human. And then obviously, I'd be lying, guys like David Goggins and Joe Rogan. I love pulling things from different people. It's like... It's, how do you make a great piece, a great food, a great recipe is ingredients from all these different things. If you just put salt and pepper, it'll get the job done, it's solid, but putting that Cayenne pepper, putting onions and all these different things that make a recipe really good is how I treat my learnings. It's... I wanna get the knowledge and information from the best people in the world at what they do and make it my own, I don't need a copy and I don't even mirror it, but I'm gonna sprinkle it in just like any quality ingredients.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: That's really awesome. It sounds like you've made awesome headway in terms of even developing relationships with some of these leaders you just mentioned. How did you get to meet Gary Vee?

Matt Choi: Oh my God, I love this.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: And let me tell you... Yeah, let me tell you why I ask, because there's... I know... I don't know the answer to this, but there's gonna be some bit of knowledge that a sports PT who's trying to chase down whoever, an athlete, a referral source can glean from your answer. Go.

Matt Choi: 100%, Yoni. One, I had this manifestation in my own mind that all these people that I look up to, that I'm able to now sit at this table with, at one point it was all just a dream, Yoni. It was just this fairy dust, pixie dust of just this thought. But I knew in my heart that if I actually stayed committed to doing this, at some point, I will have a seat with them. So to answer your direct question, obviously, I consume a lot of Gary Vee, that's just kind of been my journey. And I was in LA last year for the Super Bowl and Gary was also there. He put on his Twitter, he said, "Hey, I'm having a secret wine party at this bar downtown." And I was... Told my friends, I'm like, "Yo, I don't care what we're doing, but tonight, we're gonna go to this bar and we're gonna go say 'What's up?' to Gary." And they were all like, "Yeah, let's go." We go down there and obviously it's a mad house, everyone wants Gary's attention. It's just like... It is what it is. We get to this bar and Gary was actually on the second floor of it and I was at the...

Matt Choi: I was on the first floor and I was like right under the staircase and he starts coming down and everyone starts to go crazy, pulls out their phone, everyone's like, "Yo, I want my shot with Gary." That was the very first interaction. I actually had a chance to... I chatted with him just for about maybe 90 seconds. It's super quick. Everyone... There's a crowd of people all right there. And I asked them... It's funny, I didn't know what I really wanted to ask him because I felt like I consumed so much of his content that I already knew what he would tell me. And at that time, I had just moved to Austin, Texas. So I just was like, "Gary, I'm in a new city. What are your thoughts? Austin? What should I do next?" And he's like, "Matt, you already know. Just network your ass off, get in the circle with the right people, talk with the right people, handshake the right people, put yourself out there, be positive." All the things that Gary preaches, I did. And to your point, I've now been able to stay here in Austin in the year. It's been an awesome decision.

Matt Choi: I've actually now sat at the table with a lot of the people that I looked up to. So from that conversation, I took a picture with Gary, post it on my Instagram, boom, I never thought he would... He didn't follow me, nothing else happened from that moment, but I ended up going to VeeCon, which is his conference for NFTs in April. It was in Minneapolis. So I had another opportunity just to kind of be in his energy and his circle and his demographic, whatever. But I actually didn't have a chance to talk to him at that convention. Fast-forward, New York city marathon, I actually got into the marathon because his right-hand man, Nick Dio, who's the VP of Relationships for Gary Vee, was raising money for leukemia. And obviously, I'm a marathon runner and I love the energy of races, so I told him, I said "Yo, I'll help fundraise money for you. I've raised $4,000. We had one of the largest fundraising groups out of the whole New York City marathon." And from that moment, I created a shit-ton in New York City content. And me and Nick hit it off, just had a really good vibe.

Matt Choi: The day after the marathon, I get put into a group chat with Gary Vee, and Yoni, I was so clueless, I didn't even realize that Gary was in this group chat. One of my buddies put us in a group chat, there's five people, a couple people's numbers I didn't have, so I'm like, "Oh, who the hell is this?" Long story short, I put a message and I'm like... I knew some of the people, so I was like, "Hey, if you're in this group chat, you gotta be a good human. Love you guys all." People started chirping away, and then I realized someone kept saying, "Gary, Gary, Gary," and then Gary ended up taking the screenshot of that picture I took with him in LA and put it into the group chat. And I'm like, "That's fucking strange. Why is he doing that?" I'm like, I didn't even put two and two together. But it was just so funny how that organically just happened. And then kind of just simmered down. Nothing really played out. I didn't get a chance to meet him. But about four weeks ago, right before Christmas, Gary DM-ed, he said, "Matt, keep pushing. Happy Holidays."

Matt Choi: That's it. Just like...

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: He's everywhere.

Matt Choi: Just that little motivation of just like, "Yo... " I don't really need the validation from external things, but seeing that and just like someone that I really admire, acknowledging maybe some of the things that I'm doing well, just send me that message, it did mean a lot and I just was like, "Gary, I really appreciate that." I was like, "Next time I'm in New York, I would love to get five minutes with you." And it was just that. But I say that to say, the people that you guys wanna talk to, that you wanna work with, that you want as clients, they're right there. You can shoot them a message. There's nothing stopping you, if you have an Instagram account, to send that message to the athlete on the Washington Commanders, someone on the Washington Wizards. Will they respond? Maybe, maybe not. But you're shooting your shot. And I think for anyone, having that opportunity is just a blessing itself. 20 years ago, you would never have a shot at messaging the person that you really wanna work with or work for. So even you having that opportunity is the game.

Matt Choi: So social media has created this opportunity where most people, celebrity or not, manage their DMs in their direct account. Very few people are having a whole team manage their entire page. But most people are gonna read the messages. So I would say if you're listening to this and you wanna reach out to someone that's crazy out of your sphere of influence or sphere of connections, just try it.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah, I love it. Just try it. It reminds me of Tim Grover story. He was a strength coach for Jordan and then Kobe. And I think he sent a handwritten letter to everyone on the Bulls roster, and the only one who opened it and was interested in lifting was Jordan. So kind of lucky. Obviously, it took hustle to do that. Just like you though, Matt, he had to be awesome at what he did. And that takes hustle, right? So he had to be a great trainer once he gets that shot with Jordan. I think that's the lesson with your interaction with Gary Vee. You had the hustle. You created those videos when no one was watching so that Gary would have a little taste of what you were doing. At least it's the same thing with a sports PT. When that NFL athlete gets back to you or you get a referral or someone just shows up in your office, you better be awesome at rehab.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: You can't fake that. I have a relative who was a very successful physical therapist and when I was in grad school, I used to hound him like, "How do I start my own business? How do you run your own business? How do you... " Ask him all these business questions and finally he's like, "Shut up and become a really good PT." And I'm like, "Okay." Yeah. I wanted to kick him in the head when he said that, but he was right. He was right. You gotta be awesome at your craft before you start... So that you can set yourself up for the success. I think that's a really wise lesson. Now you met Gary Vee. Now you're hanging out at the table with all of these influencers and you have these partnerships with these big national brands right? And I see them listed on your website and it's awesome to see you have the Nikes, you have the Adidas and you have the Hokas. What do you do with them? What does that mean? First of all, how did you get 'em? And then what does a partnership need?

Matt Choi: Amazing. One, a lot of them came through the funnel of organic content. So just like our  conversation earlier, so for someone in my space, it would be very similar to like, I make content so that big brands can see my content and then wanna work with me. For PT, you might make content so that the end consumer of a client sees you doing your job so well that they wanna work with you. So that's kind of the flow of it. I made a video about running, then those videos do well. So every running brand is like, "Oh, I wanna work with that creator because his ability to communicate, his ability to talk about the brand message and all those things," and working with... As a... Working with brands, there's multiple ways to work with them. Sometimes it's just a one-off deal where Adidas comes up to Matt and says, "Matt, we'll send you this pair of shoe. Can you do a review on it?" "Awesome, let's do it." I have to just do a review, boom. We're not really a partnership. It's just a one-time kind of transaction. But as I further along my career, I've realized, I'm like, "Hold on. If I actually don't wanna be like that influencer that just pushes out 30,000 different products, I wanna push out products that are meaningful, that I actually believe in."

Matt Choi: So when Nike and Dick's Sporting Goods approached me, I was like, "Hey, Nike's the brand that everyone wants to work with or work for." It's the biggest brand in the fricking world. There's pros and cons to that, right? There's pros of having a lot of budget, but there's cons of restricting some of your language, restricting some of you as a human, right? So there's always gonna be pros and cons when you're taking a partnership opportunity, but you have to weigh out where you're at in life and what you need at that moment. So partnerships for me now, Yoni, are typically longer-term stuff. I wanna now schedule out something that's six-month contracts or nine-month or 12-month contracts where I don't feel like I'm gonna just be pigeon-holed and I'm gonna be like a one-time transaction type of thing. But that then puts me in a... Not scarcity, but I can't work... There creates exclusivity where I can't work with an Under Armour or Adidas anymore, because now if I sign with Nike, I represent Nike.

Matt Choi: So there's always gonna be pros and cons when you sign a partnership opportunity. But I think to answer your question, that's how it worked. So at first, I had mostly one-off deals, then as I kind of understood the game of pricing myself correctly and understanding how to negotiate and find deals and work through contracts and all of those things, I've now developed this better opportunity where I can negotiate myself better and understand the terms and agreements and negotiate the things that will help me as a creator and also as a business. And dude, that stuff's a lot of learning. There's not like a book that shows you how to be a creator, because dude, this creator economy is so new, so it's something that it's still getting written as we speak.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Do you have a team around you that helps you with some of those things? You mentioned, negotiation, understanding your market value. How do you build that?

Matt Choi: I actually don't, Yoni. And I'm glad I don't because I've been able to learn a lot of it on-the-fly. Now I sit where people do wanna work with me. There's people that are approaching me to be my manager and things of that sort, but I pride myself on getting my hands dirty and I've done a good job of kind of doing the work. So I understand what's required of me. And the people I've talked to in my space that are older than me that had been around, I've asked them the same question like, "Dude, who manages your shit?" and they're like, "Matt, honestly, I had a manager, but I realized that they weren't really bringing me any deals or opportunities and they were closing all the deals themselves, but the manager still gets 20%." So a lot of them started realizing that and they actually dropped their managers and end up just managing themselves. Obviously, there's...

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: That's still a large approach.

Matt Choi: 1000%. Right? It's to your point of being a practitioner. I don't need to be the best accountant or the best lawyer, or the best all of those things, but if I have a little bit of knowledge in it, I can speak their language at least. And then if I do wanna hire someone, at least I understand what they're doing and what's required of what they're doing. Because if I'm gonna pay them, I wanna know that this work is actually the work that they're doing versus, "Oh, you got this deal and now you just get 20%, even though I had to do all the talking and sell myself and use my energy as a human to tell them that I'm the person they wanna work with." So I think everyone's at a different point. If you're willing to stay patient and learn those things and build the network and community around you to help you...

Matt Choi: That's always a winning strategy, but if not and you're just starting out, you know, having someone that can show you the ropes can maybe help you skip a couple of steps if you don't wanna be "patient".

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: For sure. Ironically, one of my biggest fears in opening my own practice in 2014 was tech, and I don't mean electronic medical records, I don't mean GPS wearables, I don't mean force plate analysis, I mean who the hell is gonna connect my printer to my computer so that I can do whatever? And the first few weeks, I had one patient, so I just remember sitting on the floor in my office trying to figure out how do I get the printer to talk to the computer, and I will tell you that was like... I would say one of the highlights of this whole private practice world, when I figured that out and I realized, "Yeah, I could keep doing this. And by the way, if you give me time, I could figure out anything to make this dream of true sports at the time work." So I think learning all the nuances of your business is imperative. I also have found success learning some of the nuances, like you said, the finding the experts to fill in those gaps, you get that contract, you're negotiating that contract, have someone look at it who just does that, but be able to read it first yourself, but have the expert look at it, right? The same thing with the accounting, same thing with finance, same thing with all strategy. So I would encourage you to do both. Right?

Matt Choi: I agree.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Kind of see both. Okay, let's shift gears a little bit because I've been told that you're not just a runner, you're not just an elite runner, but you know your crap around the endeavor, so this is an audience of sports physical therapists, they know a little bit about rehab and fitness, so you don't have to dumb anything down. I'm amazed watching or talking to a Division 1 wide receiver at, which to me is all things power, speed and aerobic ability. Then I've followed Matt Choi on Instagram, and I'm like, "This guy doesn't stop running. Now he's an endurance freak," so how the hell that happened? 

Matt Choi: During COVID, Yoni, I know, just like most people, I was in Clarksburg, Maryland, at my mom's house. We all got shut down. I was at Orangetheory training and job... I got laid off and every human was probably thinking like, "Damn, how am I gonna continue my wellness? Or my health or whatever?" And some people weren't thinking that, they just went to drinking, and they just went to putting on extra pounds, 'cause it's... I get it, man, and COVID was a tough time, but it comes back to being that life-long learner and just being curious. I started reading David Goggins' book Can't Hurt Me, and it then triggered something in my mind. It first downloaded some software and it made me realize like, "Oh shoot, the human potential is really limitless if we believe that to be the case," but then the actual work, the practitioner-ship had to... You get put into place. To your point, Yoni, I started with my running doing the Murph Challenge, which is one mile run, 100 push... 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, another mile. I did that 30 days in a row.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: You did with the weight vest?

Matt Choi: The first two weeks, no weight vest, the third week I had a 10-pound weight vest, and then the fourth week I had a 20-pound weight vest, just if you think about progressive overload, I didn't wanna crush my body just kind of just starting that challenge. Nonetheless, 60 miles by the end of the... By the end of the month is what I accumulated that month. So after that was done, Yoni, then I did 2000 jump ropes every day for 30 days.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Where are you pulling this stuff from? You're just like, "I wanna keep going?"

Matt Choi: I just... I was looking at different stuff on YouTube and people that were making these crazy challenges just to see if it can be done, and I just wanted to see if I could do it as well, but Yoni, you know, running is a pylometric single leg exercise and jump roping is by far one of the best ways to create elasticity in the Achilles and the Soleus, it's a great exercise, not just for your heart, but for runners, for everyday humans. That, those two things, those two challenges accumulated a very strong kind of base for me, but from there, I started to just ask myself, I put on Instagram one day, I'm like, "How many miles should I go run? Four plus miles or just keep it at five miles," or whatever it is. Everyone's like, "Yo, go run four plus miles." So that next day I ran six miles. Then the next day I do the same thing, they're like, "Oh, should I go further? Or should I just keep it the same?" They're like, "Go further." So Yoni, next day I did eight miles. And slowly but surely, I just started to move the needle into what I thought my limitation was, and that's been my journey.

Matt Choi: If someone was looking at my first marathon, which the first marathon I ever tried to do, Yoni, was a summer day in Maryland. I got a new pair of Nike Pegasus shoes, and I said, "You know what? This is a good idea. Let me go run a marathon with nothing. No nutrition, no hydration, not eating breakfast, and starting at 8:30 AM in the morning on a Maryland, humid summer day." I was not able to complete that marathon that day, Yoni. I got 18 miles and I got full body cramps in my quads, hamstrings, and I could not walk. And it was about 95 degrees. I called a friend, I was sitting on the German town sports area. I called a friend, I said, "I need you to pick me up. I can't finish this marathon." So that right there, Yoni, was just me pushing boundaries of like, if I could go 18 miles with nothing, what can I do if I actually prepared?

Matt Choi: So then the learning started to happen where now I started to listen to Steve Magness, which is someone in the running space, he's a super knowledgeable guy, started to see Nick Bare pushing out more of his content about being a hybrid athlete, and I just started to flood my mind with knowledge. And then, more importantly than all of that, like I said earlier, is I started to put it into practice. I just started to do it, I'm like, "Alright, well, let me go get a gel, let me actually do the proper hydration and nutrition," and I felt better on my runs. I completed my first marathon on my 26th birthday. So a lot of these things don't just happen overnight. Someone sees me as a runner now, they... Yoni, they have no idea I played college football, that I have that ability, right? Everyone's like, "Oh, you're just an endurance guy," but I think I say this to say, as humans, we can change.

Matt Choi: You, physically, mentally, you can change, our body and our minds are malleable, you can adapt it, so anything that you think that is a limitation, if you actually work on that weakness or that limitation, watch it turn into a strength in a year or in two years or in three years. So that's been my journey, and now I've just gotten so addicted to this learning process that I do it in marketing, I do it in business, I do it in my life, I do it in fitness, I do it in mindset, and it's almost become a big piece of just who I am as a human. So that's kind of how I've been able to accumulate all of those things and turn myself into this aerobic endurance athlete.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: I love it, "Not just an aerobic athlete."

Matt Choi: 100%, I love that, I love that. [laughter]

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Okay, so, I know you've completed 100 milers, you've obviously completed a number of marathons at very competitive and elite levels, what's the number one exercise you would recommend to keep yourself healthy?

Matt Choi: I love this. If I were to say one exercise, I would say the rear foot elevated lunge, whether it's an isometric position, working the centric or the concentric movement of it, it is just a great exercise for all athletes specifically for runners. But Yoni, I would say pylometrics...

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: That's a good answer. I like that answer.

Matt Choi: It is, right? I like the RFEs, they're good, but I think in totality, pylometrics as a whole is something that I really, really pride myself on spending a lot of time on doing. If you think about running, it's a pylometric activity, right? So being able to stay elastic, being able to stay bouncy has been a big part of my training, and obviously being a football guy, I've kind of kept a lot of my... I've kept some muscle, I've kept my strength and my explosive-ness still, and I think it's been a big help just to stay healthy. Early on, dude, I dealt with a lot of foot and ankle injuries, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, a lot of the overuse stuff, and I think just the difference of training has helped me kind of remain healthier with all the fricking running I do.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah, so for those of you keeping score at home, that was two exercises from Matt Choi.

Matt Choi: Yeah.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Even though I asked for one, but that's fine. Now, you make a great point, by the way, you've made it twice during this conversation, which is running is a series of pylometric activities, right? So this gets me rolling like crazy, it's... When I talk to physical therapists that are either newly out of school or just haven't worked in the sports environment, they struggle so much wrapping their heads around exactly what you just said, which is, if running is a series of pylometric activities, why would I start my rehab progression with running and then box jumps versus an understanding of box jumps and then peeling back the onion of, "What is a good box jump? What is a bad box jump?" By the way, what planes of motion am I moving in? How do I perfect that? How do I then add multiple planes of motion, how am I moving around the transverse plane? All of that world, before we get to running, maybe not the transverse plane, but before we get to running is so imperative. If PTs would just listen to you, dude, we would know that. That's an awesome bit of advice, it just led me down that tangent, but please, God, teach your athletes how to jump, how to land, how to accelerate and decelerate before we throw them just out to return to run, 'cause you're gonna get that overuse stuff, like you said.

Matt Choi: It happens, it's just... It's bound to happen. And honestly, Yoni, to your point, I think it's one of those things where I've been around a lot of really good PTs and just understanding like, "Hey... " It's like that concept of like, your training should support your hobby.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah, exactly.

Matt Choi: Right? But so many people, they just train for the aesthetic because they want six-pack or they want huge arms versus training for the functionality of what they're trying to do in the day to day lives, and I...

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: What they do, their hobby, right? That's like... That kills me like, when I talk to endurance athletes, and I'm like, "What do you do for your lower body strength?" And they're like, "Well, I run." Like, "No, you need to work on strength so that you can run."

Matt Choi: 100%, dude. And I think it's like... So, do you know Kelly Starrett?

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Well, he's been on the pod, what a freaking stud. Yeah.

Matt Choi: So Kelly is a friend, but also we used to... We had him on part of... Me and Shawn had him as part of our agency as a client, so obviously I've been... Read his book, the Supple Leopard, and I've read Ready to Run, and a lot of good just kind of knowledge in that sense, but I think he's spot on with a lot of things he's talked about in Ready to Run. If you look at marathon runners that finish between four hours and eight hours, a lot of them are struggling to get to that finish line, mechanics are awful, and you wonder why your body is torched after the marathon, right? And I'm all about durability and sustainability, I wanna be able to run and do these challenges and do these things as long as possible pain-free, and I think that part of my messaging needs to get clarified a little bit more where... A lot of the things I do now around the gym, they look different, I'm not doing as much compound lifts as I used to do when I was playing football, because if you think about even the movements of compound lifts, like when in running are both your feet planted into the ground? Right? It's never done in that way, so if you can just train single leg, if you can train unilaterally, these are good things that are gonna help you as athletes and help you as a runner, and that's kind of how I picture my training. A lot of it is just supporting the things I wanna do in everyday life.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah, that's awesome. And really powerful. I think it's the elasticity, the springiness, for lack of a better term, if you can train those and live on that energy system as opposed to living on your muscular system, I think that end of that marathon gets a lot smoother, it gets a lot of cleaner, right? What's the one thing you wish sports PTs knew about treating ultra-marathoners?

Matt Choi: I would say, I think ultra guys and ultra people in general, they are definitely a mentally tough group of people, so I think maybe having an understanding that these people are gonna operate a little bit differently than just your normal patient that you might see is always gonna be a good step. I've been around so many really good sports PTs, where I think the first thing is like movement is actually the best form of the medication. I think that would be the biggest thing, just 'cause now that I've been around, man, I've realized, I'm like, "Shit, icing is like, doing opposite positive things," right? So it's just like those small nuances where when you're treating with ultra-marathoners and just ultra athletes in general, their tolerance is gonna be higher for pain for a lot of things. So understanding that, maybe you're able to give them a little bit more of a nuanced approach of recovery versus just kind of your textbook style of like just someone who's a little bit more sedentary. So I would think the mindset of it, in addition to the nuances of giving them a little bit more complex movements for treatment.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: I love that. I think that totally gets glossed over, it's like, the truth is the more and more athletes that I work with, we have to take a textbook and just burn our text books, like, no one fits this textbook world. When you talk about ultras and you talk about their pain tolerance, you have to be able to endure some type of pain to complete those, right? So let's think about that as a rehab specialist, giving them an intervention in order for it to be impactful, it's gotta look different than what you would give to the anaerobic athlete, right? And I would flip it and say on that anaerobic side, when I'm working with NFL guys, the biggest difference for me is when I go to a dumbbell rack, I have to understand the actual strength that lives with... Inside these skeletons. It's far greater than mine. For greater than a textbook, right?

Matt Choi: Right.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Grab the weight that's appropriate, grab the rep count that's appropriate for your ultras, make sure that you're matching the person who stands in front of you.

Matt Choi: 100%.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Regardless. There's so many unbelievable things that you shared with me, and hopefully, obviously with the audience, what's the best way to find Matt Choi?

Matt Choi: Yeah, you guys can find me on Instagram, on TikTok, mattchoi6. I'm also on YouTube and Facebook and LinkedIn, just like Matthew Choi, if you just look that up. But yeah, I'm pretty readily available on all the platforms, [chuckle] so however you wanna consume it, long form, short form, more business professional, I'm pretty much everywhere.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: I love that. The only thing that would have made that better would have been if you would have been like, "Yeah, I don't do social. I'm just... I'm good."

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah, yeah. A wealth of knowledge. Thanks for the time. Thanks for joining us. I can't wait to do it again.

Matt Choi: Hell yeah.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Yeah. I think we really made sports PTs just a little bit better today. So thank you, Matt.

Matt Choi: [chuckle] Thank you for having me, Yoni. Next time I'm in Maryland we'll definitely link up too.

Dr. Yoni Rosenblatt: Hell yeah. Alright, see you guys.

Matt Choi: See ya.


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