What John De Sena Learned While Cleaning Pools for Mobsters


3 years ago



Joe De Sena

1 appearance

Joe De Sena is the CEO and founder of "Spartan" and the "Death Race". He is also a NY Times best selling author of "Spartan Up", "Spartan Fit" and "The Spartan Way".


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I like helping folks that, you know, I had, I grew up in Queens and Howard Beach and it was, for whatever reason, organized crime capital of the world. And this is going to sound crazy, but my neighbor was one of the big bosses. And one day when I was pre-teens, he said to me, you know, the best thing we could do on this earth, I said, well, he said, help people. He's the guy that killed people for a living. And because that was his perspective was he was a protector, right? He would help people even though from the outside we know what they really do. But it stuck with me. I got to help people. So this was one of those people I helped. Isn't it crazy that sometimes even people that are just, you would look at them, they're like, they're bad people. They have some good advice. Like even morons can occasionally say something like, huh, all right. I got that. You know, like every now and then, like even a real fool will say something that makes a whole lot of sense. He changed my life, this guy. He said to me, my parents were going through a divorce. I'm 12 years old and he wants to help me. So he says, come over. You're going to clean our swimming pool for us. I don't pay you $35 a week. So I come over on Saturday morning. He says, all right, the first lesson, sit me down for lessons. First lesson is if you're going to come at 8 a.m., you show up 7.45. Right. On time is late. Great lesson for life. Second lesson is if I'm paying you to clean the pool, I want you to straighten up the shed, straighten up all the lawn furniture, clean the windows, do whatever the fuck you have to do. But make it so that when I get home, I can't live without you. You are irreplaceable as far as a service provider. And number three, never ask for money. You'll get paid if you do a good job. And it just stuck with me for life and really, really good lessons from, like you say, like a most unlikely source of advice. Well, you know, not all mob people are bad people. That sounds like a crazy thing to say, but I've known quite a few of them in my life and some of them were genuinely good guys. They were just in a fucked up line of work. In a fucked up line of work. Well, you know, a lot of them thought of themselves as soldiers. You know, they really did. They thought of themselves as soldiers in an ancient war that, you know, we're not going to understand. You know, we're not talking about people that are, you know, shaking people down for money. I'm talking about, you know, people who were doing work for organized crime. And they looked at the government as criminals as well. They were like, they're all criminals. Wall Street, you don't think they're fucking criminals? That was the exact—as a young person growing up in that, that was the exact narrative I heard as I was being indoctrinated. That the government was just as bad. They killed people from these guys, is what they were saying to me. Wall Street does it with a pen. What the fuck are you looking at? Cops plan evidence. Yeah. I'm not defending them. No, but that was there. It's good that the mob's not around, but they did a great job with Vegas. They did a good job with Vegas. They ran Vegas very nice. This guy ended up giving me 700 customers by the time I graduated college that were— Oh, so you had a whole pool cleaning business by then? I had a giant business, knock on wood, that were mostly connected to— And I became friends with all these guys. Wow. And could just go on anybody's—it was pretty unbelievable. It's pretty surreal thinking back. Who wouldn't want to be that? You're a young kid. You're in this neighborhood. They got money, respect, beautiful cars. I want to be that. That's the problem with that and with young kids growing up around, gang members or drug dealers. You look at that and you're like, they have things that I don't have and they live this life. They get respect from people. They're feared. It looks attractive. One of the bosses' wives said to me one day, because I was alluding to, how do I make my bones? She said this isn't for you. I had red hair, light skin, everybody else had dark hair, dark skin. This isn't for you. You stick with cleaning pools. This was from the wife, one of the bosses. That kind of set me straight. www.mooji.org