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Vitamin W: Wisdom from The Mind Vitamin Podcast, Episode #1 with Chris Vitrano (a.k.a "Dog of War")

Posted on September 06 2017

In the very first episode of the Mind Vitamin Podcast, I was joined by a good friend of mine, Chris Vitrano, Chief Marketing Officer at indie agency Nelson Schmidt. Chris talked a little bit about his job, but we mostly focused on some of the peripheral gems that help make Chris the success that he is.

For all of the details and nuances, be sure to check out the Mind Vitamin Podcast (MVP) audio on iTunes or Stitcher:

Basically, what Chris described was his “Dog of War” system/mentality. At its core, it’s his  personal philosophy and it’s roughly divided into his approaches to sleep, business, and personal care – with some over-arching principles that make it cohesive across these main areas:

When it comes to sleep, Chris doesn’t believe that we need to take our sleep sequentially or at night: “… there does need to be some shortcuts [in an overwhelming and demanding world]… and I’ve found that it’s really the idea of no longer believing I need sequential sleep most often between... midnight and early morning. And by doing that, I don’t believe it all needs to happen at one single time… it’s cumulative. So when I sleep, I sleep; when I don’t, I don’t. And I don’t over rationalize that; I just listen to my body – my intuition – and that determines when I sleep, when I don’t, when I work, when I run, when I socialize… and it fits really well. So, I’m kind of maximizing that 24 hour cycle and worrying less about 8 hours of constant sleep and more about just getting the sleep I need when I need it… And then the day becomes more about what I want it to be and what it needs to be rather than more of a regimen and ‘if I don’t get [sleep], I’m upset.’”

Chris gave a fresh perspective on running as a personal sport: “For me, running is what does it; it fills that void [of a previous life in high-level amateur cycling]. And I’ve found that running is a great way to add to the workday and to get that kind of rush of endorphins … Running is basically strapping your shoes on and going. And so there’s just something different about running [from other “techno-lust” sports such as cycling or golf] that is very personal. I think …anybody who runs and maybe does have a lifestyle similar to mine will get this… you know you have something you can go to on almost any given day… you can have 30 minutes [or] you can have 2 hours; it doesn’t matter. It’s highly customizable to the situation. So, running has been the key [and] it’s been tremendous on business because I’ve run in some of the greatest cities and metropolitan areas in the world. And it’s kind of fun; I have this world map and whenever I go out on business and come back and have a new destination that I’ve run, I put a little push-pin [in the map] and it’s just fun to look at all the places that I’ve experienced that are outside of the typical business destination, [where] I would have only been in if I didn’t bring my shoes when I go travel on business.”

Running seems to also be a space of clarity for Chris. “[While] running, you kind of lose yourself in it… for me, it is getting into a frame of mind that is more about losing track, for a moment, of time – losing track of almost everything except I know that it is just as clarifying to the mind as cycling was and as athletics are. So, it is a chemical reaction that happens. And it’s just the high that I can continue to do daily… And, it really does a lot for me in terms of being able to deal with what I choose to do professionally and personally… I don’t think I’ve ever not had some epiphany or some clarity on something I’ve chewed on while running – because I think it’s the chemicals. Again, it’s that whole-body kind of experience in terms of rather than separating and waiting,… I’ve been able to find ways and embrace that as a unique part, but none the-less, the same capability I have at home, I doing on the road; I do when I travel. So, I think I’ve never felt, to me recollection, that I’ve “failed” to think something out, or to at least been able to think something out while having my running shoes on… It’s a very good way to be able to prepare, like you said, or to react and deal with something that has happened during the business day, especially when traveling.”

A favorite travel-hack
is utilizing the airport lounge of your airline: “I think that’s another serenity/distraction-free-zone. I’ve learned that getting an hour or two to the airport earlier… and hanging out at the Sky Club is the most productive 90 minutes I could ever have in a week. And not only do I get work done that I need to get work done in advance of my business travel, I pick-off some other stragglers that I haven’t been able to get to that nothing to do with my impending travel. So, that feeling is very similar. So, those maybe listening [who] don’t run and won’t run, a close cousin is that manufactured [distraction] free-zone that we all have when we’re preparing to board a plane. Getting there early, going to a loyalty lounge – I think it’s great. I think it’s very similar to some of the feeling and opportunities I get that we’ve talked about with running.

Seamlessness is an important part of the “Dog of War” system: “I don’t try to make a difference between what I’m doing when I’m home and what I’m doing on the road. And I think that’s very important. And that goes probably back to my cycling days when coached. My coach had a daily training regimen. And, what he said was, “If you miss it, for whatever reason – sickness, lack of time, injury, whatever it is – you let it go and you go to the next day; you don’t try to recoup something that you weren’t able to accomplish.” And what that taught me was this consistency of, “Do the best you can today and tomorrow is tomorrow.” So, rather than thinking of a business trip as interrupting that, it’s just the next day.”

The best diet for putting all of this together? A Las Vegas Buffet… (?): “… it probably won’t be a surprise to you, I like to eat and drink – I mean I really do; I enjoy the experience of great food and great cocktails. So,… anecdotally, I guess my diet would resemble a menu at a Las Vegas resort.‘Eat whatever you want whenever you want!’ And, I think because I don’t change, I don’t go from “plan A” to “plan B” because it’s Monday or because I’ve got a real hard day at work or I’m traveling for 4 days. I guess I fine-tuned it to where if the underlying current of this conversation is “blending things into one” versus “trying to silo things into buckets and then figuring out how to manage that,” my diet has become one of “whatever I feel like, I do” and then it’s predictable, but flexible just like what we talked about in terms of running.”

Embrace upredictableness/spontaneity: “But I think also like the aspect of unpredictableness… depending upon who you meet, where you are, what happens afterwards, you do want some spontaneity. I think I’d like to add that to the record; this idea of being flexible and agile enough to go with the flow. And so, there too is why I don’t require I eat, “this for breakfast. I must have this for lunch. And if I don’t get this before I go to bed…” That doesn’t for me and I don’t think it works for whatever this system is that I’ve been describing. And, […] tomorrow is tomorrow, the next day is the next day – it’s my coach’s philosophy – it was; don’t try to make up for something; just accept it and move on. I’ve learned to really listen to my body and I think […] as a result of mixing my professional personal passions, adding “athleticness” to my day – whether it be a workday or a weekend day – and that’s just kind of why this whole instinctual thing is what I believe is that secret to my success that we talked about.”

Finally, what does the future of successful business look like?: “… I think that successful businesses are going to find a way [to] and promote a much broader interaction of generations and demographics. I think we have kind of been tricked into kind of believing the only things we have in common, professionally and personally, are with most likely – those people that are in our generation; you know, those labels of those 10-year cycles. I think that’s proving to be quickly bunk and I believe successful organizations and businesses are going to embrace a much more multi-generational approach to business. They’re going to be giving resource[s], platforms, and true infrastructure for people of all ages to group together and solve challenges that they wouldn’t otherwise have the insight, perspective, opinion, or drive [to solve] if it was more based upon very, smaller groups of, “I’m this age and therefore I’m only going to hang out with people plus/minus 3 years from me.” I have found personally [that] getting together in small groups with 30-somethings, 40-somethings, 50-somethings to be inspirational. [That’s] where the big ideas are happening and [that’s] where big ideas that are thought of are executed. It’s the sum of contribution from people we wouldn’t otherwise think we had things in common [with]. And that’s why socializing and networking in which athletics is a part of the conversation or interaction, it’s easy ice breaking and it gets people to empathize…”

The Dog of War Philosophy at its core: “It really is animal instinct; I’m a mammal. You’re a mammal. We should act more like mammals. We should make sure that we’re breathing, seeing, hearing, talking, touching in a way that is keenness of senses. [Because] I think with keenness-of-senses, if we use our senses more than we currently do especially in our business environment – I think you keep your edge… I think you build your edge and you keep your edge – and who doesn’t want that?”



Brad Glocke is the Co-Founder of Harmonía, a wellness company. He lives with his wife, Kristina, an ACSM certified personal trainer, and his two children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds a Masters degree from the University of Wisconsin. More information about Harmonía can be found at Brad also hosts a brand new podcast, called the Mind Vitamin Podcast (MVP), which is available on iTunes and Stitcher.



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