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Meet My Mentor

Meet My Mentor
By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

For many, many years, I have spoken about my mentor, Wayne Cotton. Wayne helped me get started with my business, Fitness Quest 10, back in 1999. Since then, he has guided me through the highs and lows, especially in my first 5 years of business. He is my close confidant still today. I would easily say there is no single man or woman alive who has IMPACTED me more professionally. And, there is no single man or woman alive, whom I have quoted, thanked, credited, and honored while speaking to fellow trainers more than Wayne Cotton.

So, for over seven years, I have been trying to get Wayne to present at one of my events. It just hadn’t worked. Our calendars would not align.

Until now.

This weekend, the Todd Durkin Platinum Mastermind Annual Retreat was held in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. It began on Friday and went through the weekend. Over 50 fitness pros came in from all over the world for this year’s theme, “Extraordinary Retreat.” An echo of my theme for the year, “Extraordinary.”

Wayne spoke for 2.5 hours on Friday, 2 hours on Saturday morning and 1 final hour to close the event on Saturday afternoon. In between, the group was busy with breakout discussions and personalized feedback sessions.

TD & Wayne at TD Mastermind Retreat

After 7 years of trying to make this happen, finally, my Masterminders were able to hear some of the same messages Wayne imparted to me 15 years ago. Straight from the man himself who has always reminded me, “methods change, principles don’t.” I want to share with you my 10 favorite Wayne-isms… Here’s the 30,000-foot view of the weekend.

My Top 10 Wayne-isms (of the weekend & of all time)

1. “Build it like you’re going to build 500 more.” There’s good and there’s good enough. Then there’s good enough to repeat. You know what I mean here. If it’s important enough to do, it’s important enough to do right. SYSTEMIZE!

2. “Is life a marathon or a sprint?” You can’t go through life running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. It’s got to be like the way you train… a series of sprints followed by some quality recovery.

3. “Structure buys you freedom.” Structure, when built well, allows you to grow. Structure helps you to respond to changes in demand for your products and services. Structure helps you train your team and nurture your culture.

4. “If your outgoing exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.” This reminds me of the simple relationship between calories in and calories out when trying to lose weight. But to be clear about your financial health, unlike dieting, you need more coming in and less going out.

5. “If you want a referral, you must ask for a referral.” Wayne talks about building trust bridges. But before trust bridges are built and before referrals are given, there’s a lot of honest work and relationship development.

6. “When you know what you want, you can say no to what you don’t want.” Man, this says it all. Clarity, clarity, clarity.

7. “If you want more ‘green machine,’ you must take more ‘mellow yellow’ and ‘blue sky’ time.” Wayne is a pioneer in success calendars. Over the years, you’ve heard me speak of mellow yellow time and 90-day Wonders… Learn more here: (

8. “Be a strategist, not an opportunist.” Anyone hungry enough can be an opportunist, but it takes thoughtful strategic planning to build a solid business.

9. “Purpose, profile, program, process, and performance ultimately lead to your success.” These are the building blocks of your business and your life. The ESSENTIAL ingredients.

10. “Fear, frustration, and failure are overcome with faith, focus, forward-thinking, and follow-through.” Man, that’s a lot of F’s! BUT, there is no doubt that I believe in the power of these words. When you look toward your future and choose what will define you, what will it be? Fear or Faith?

Wayne was dropping knowledge bombs all weekend. But more than any single topic or entire session, it was his close on Saturday afternoon that ultimately shook us to our core. It may have been the most powerful close I have EVER heard during ANY talk. Ever.

Wayne shared with my Masterminders about having 2 strokes in his 50’s due to sleep deprivation. There was a time when he considered R.E.S.T. a 4-letter word. Not anymore.

He spoke of the 1995 motorcycle accident that nearly killed him, leaving him in critical condition for 37 days.

He spoke of his love for his father and why it took so many years for his father to utter the words, “I love you.”

But you could have heard a pin drop when Wayne spoke about his 4-year old daughter, Adina, who loved butterflies and loved making butterflies for her daddy.

One day, Adina got sick. And although they went immediately to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with spinal meningitis, 18 hours later, Adina died. It was 1975, and she was only 4-years old.

For many years, I have heard Wayne tell this story. But never like this. This time, Wayne brought with him the last paper butterfly Adina had made for him back in 1975. He shared it with us, and then read the poem he had written for his daughter upon her death 39 years ago. Man, this was a moment like no other.

There we were, 50 of the strongest people I know, sharing the room with the memory of a beautiful and sweet 4-year old girl who died a lifetime too soon, a paper butterfly, and a love poem written by a grieving father for his lost baby.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We hugged. We cried. We shared stories. We loved on each other. Our retreat was complete and we knew with clarity what we had come together to learn. Life is precious and just plain too short for big egos, small agendas, and no love for fellow humans.

So the next time you see a butterfly, stop, think of the fragility of life, and let it fill you up with love and gratitude and wisdom from one of my favorite human beings, Wayne Cotton.

That is IMPACT!

Much love.



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