Carl Daikeler is Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Beachbody Company, a leader in digital at-home fitness and nutrition with a 20+ year record of creating innovative content and powerful brands.
A sought-after direct marketing executive early in his career, Carl shifted his focus entirely to fitness and weight loss creating the surprise breakout hit, “:08 Minute Abs”, and recognizing the enormity of the in-home fitness content opportunity. Under his leadership, Beachbody was the first to forecast a future where the home would become the dominant and legitimate fitness and nutrition hub. With some of the most consistent success using direct marketing to acquire customers, and the earliest of social-media influencer networks, Carl uses an empirical approach to develop product, test, learn, revise and rollout. From inception Carl was focused on ensuring that Beachbody offered the total solution to healthy weight loss and fitness by incorporating meal planning, appropriate supplementation, and community.
Leveraging his extensive product marketing and direct response experience, Carl has led the creation of the most comprehensive catalogs of compelling fitness and nutrition content in the industry, with over 1,400 unique streaming videos from world-renowned experts. The Beachbody model integrates supplements – such as the Shakeology® line of superfood protein supplements— and a peer-support system of over 400,000 Team Beachbody Coaches.
Carl also runs the Beachbody Foundation which has contributed over 10 million dollars to various organizations including International Justice Mission, Hope Of The Valley, NAACP, The Lakota Tribe, Upward Bound House, Go Campaign, and Save-A-Warrior (SAW), among others.
Driven by his background in theater, in his spare time Carl is an active producer of multiple Broadway productions, winning two Tony Awards for Hadestown and the revival of Once On This Island. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Where did the idea for The Beachbody Company come from?
I created 8 Minute Abs for a company I previously helped to start and saw that people responded well to fitness concepts – not gadgets – which made sense. At the time it was a lot easier to add value to tape and paper than it was to try and reinvent a source of gravity. So Jon Congdon and I decided to test how far we could go by creating challenging training and nutrition programs that we would test before we ever brought them to market. The results people got were never easy, but they were undeniable. We’ve been scaling that concept since 1998, from VHS to DVD, and now to two digital platforms.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am connected to the business pretty much 24/7. I’m actually lucky I run this company because otherwise, I’m sure I’d be pretty unhealthy. I wake up around 5 am, take my Energize, check my email for 15 minutes, and then push play on Beachbody On Demand. Then it’s emails over breakfast and Zoom calls start around 8 am. Besides my Shakeology nutrition shake at 10 am, and then a portion-measured lunch, I’m pretty much in non-stop meetings until 7 pm. I then enjoy, dinner with my family, which allows us to catch up on each other’s day, as we engage in a little TV. After dinner, is bedtime, and 30-45 minutes of business reading or personal development. That’s 5-6 days a week right there, and so much happens in those hours with so many innovations and big decisions it’s sometimes a whirlwind.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is why I started the company; I wanted to be able to get an idea on Sunday and dive into it on Monday. Ideas usually happen when enough data points and insights accumulate to form a concept, which insists on being developed. That’s what happened with 30-Day Breakaway. I saw people running 5K’s after they finished one of our workout programs. I saw the rise of running apps and our subscribers were asking us for run-training. Those inputs lead me to reach out to Idalis Valesquez, a collegiate track star and ask her to design a 30-day program that would give people the transformation they expect from Beachbody, while also empowering them to be ready to run a 5k with great running form. Once we have a concept that’s worth putting into development, we test it like crazy and refine it to maximize healthy results, see real transformations, and achieve “product-market fit. ”We did that with 30-Day Breakaway and we do that over and over again with tremendous success.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Easy one: I love seeing people discover what we’ve known all along; that in-home workouts are just as effective and gratifying as working out in a gym, but superior in convenience and efficiency. That was literally the premise on which the company was formed. We’ve grown on that premise for two decades, and once stay-at-home orders began last year, and people realized how much the choices they make in regard to their health and well-being matter, the in-home digital fitness disruption exploded!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My greatest strength is the ability to approach an idea without the predisposition to judge it based on anything else I’ve seen. That means I am not holding concepts back to conform to a standard, and means we have a chance for major breakthroughs. That’s what happened with P90X. Nobody thought that was a good idea at first. Same with 21 Day Fix and the color-coded portion control containers. But we put great talent in front of really straight-forward ideas, and once we test the programs, that’s where the magic happens. The same thing happened with Shakeology. Nobody thought a daily nutrition shake, which is literally worth $5 per serving would sell directly to consumers. People thought that it was only something fancy smoothie bars could serve, and they’d have to charge $8-$9 to make it work, but we found a way. I’ve been drinking this shake every day for 12 years. I don’t have to drink the shake, but my digestion and regularity, feeling great and staying healthy matter to me more than expensive tequila or designer vodka, so this is where we innovate and that resonates with like-minded people.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d tell myself to pay attention. Learn from everything and trust that the situations you’re in right now will serve the next step. What I wouldn’t tell myself is to skip a single step.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep reading, keep studying. Look at how the experience of others relates to what you are doing. There are lessons in every experience and any business, which can help you avoid traps. Never, ever, stop studying. Learning is one thing, studying is a different mindset. I study.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Early on we saw that the relationship between the cost of customer acquisition and the predictable lifetime value was what determined free cash flow. I was able to grow the business and maintain ownership control not by generating cash through attracting rounds of investment, but by scaling a predictable free cash flow model. I watched the cash balances like our lives depended on it. I still do. Helping people is the mission, but without the resources to do it, you’re nowhere. Cash flow, and cash management matters.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I started a company in my 20’s after some success in the infomercial business, but I had no plan, and I didn’t know where the business would fit. I didn’t know how much capital I needed because I didn’t know what value I was going to bring to my customers. That business went nowhere. I learned from that experience, and I didn’t start the next business until I knew what the strategy was and how I would bring solutions to people which would solve problems.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
That’s an impossible question because whoever is reading this shouldn’t look for an idea from me. The idea that they are uniquely situated to scale is the one that solves a problem they understand. Look for a problem you’re having. Realize that you’re not the only one with that problem. Solve it and then package the solution. There’s gold hidden in your problems.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
My favorite book these days is “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday. I read this book at least twice a year.
- Plan and be prepared.
- Never stop learning.
- Don’t judge an idea by its cover.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.