Joe De Sena, the CEO of Spartan, is a man who had an interesting upbringing. He grew up in New York City in a time where the Howard Beach area was brand new, being built on a swamp. It was a bit of an interesting mix of people who lived there. It was mostly business owners, but there were also quite a few crime bosses of the organized crime families in NYC. This is something that helped shape his life journey in a serious way.
When he was still living with his parents, Joe started to clean pools. One of his neighbors was the head of the Bonanno organized crime family. This man was Joe’s first client. He taught Joe three important lessons about work: 1.
Eventually, his family moved up to Ithaca, NY, and Joe was going to school upstate to finish high school. Joe had no intention of going to college at this point in time, but he had a good friend who wanted them to apply to Cornell, even though they had bad scores. They were convinced that they could get in because Joe’s friend had “a guy.” Of course, they guy failed to help them get in, but the interview was great.
Joe decided to go to St. Johns University that summer to prove that he could handle the workload for Cornell. Joe goes, works hard at class, and finds out that he loves college. He loves the classes, the professors, and to learn new things. He crushed the classes, and then went on to do 3 classes at Cornell that wouldn’t count for credits, but were continued-learning classes that anyone could take. He does well in those, but Cornell doesn’t accept him again!
Long story short, he did this twice more to no avail, and then his mother introduced him to a professor at Cornell who got him into the textiles school as the only man in the entire program. All while running his business in NYC the whole time.
He graduated from Cornell after they had rejected him a total of four times. He even has a Spartan building there now, attached to the wrestling building. An incredible journey. At the end of our interview we tease how Spartan got started, but you’re going to have to tune into Part 2 of our interview. Please, check this interview out, it was absolutely incredible, and get ready for the sequel!
Joe, thank you so much for being on the show. We truly loved our conversation, and we can’t express how truly excited we are for the next one!
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