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Mentor Lesson #8: DO BETTER!

I’m not sure where to even start this email. It’s going to be a tough one for me to write.

I started my “Mentor Memoirs” with my Dad (thank you all for the emails on that one!).

And today, I’m giving you an “and then some” lesson. I will try not to get too emotional.

You know, I said a week ago that I was going to share 7 lessons over 7 days. Today, is an “extra” day. It’s an “and then some” day. It’s the last and final lesson I will be sharing with you.

But it’s this “And then some” attitude that my last mentor epitomized.

He was my best friend. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders. And he was just a great human being.

And he is no longer here.

His name is Ken Sawyer and he was a client of mine for 17 years.

He rarely missed my boot camps on Saturday mornings. I trained him during the week.

He was my insurance agent.

He was the best friend anyone could ever ask for.

He was an amazing husband and incredible father to 2 children.

And he died on June 26, 2012. He was hit by a car while driving his motor scooter to go workout one Tuesday morning at 6 am. Ken was only 51 years old.

I could go on and on about the amazing man that Ken was.

Or share the goofy, funny things he used to say.

Or how inviting Ken was to every new attendee at a Saturday morning Boot Camp class.

Or how he loved to playfully haze our fitness interns every Saturday.

Or share how he would go out of his way for ANY of his friends in need at any time of the day, literally, to lend a helping hand or to be an ear to talk to.

There was no one like Ken Sawyer.

And I want to share just one story and lesson with you today.

In 1999, I was looking for space to open my training studio. And I thought I found a little space. It was about 600 square feet.

I actually kind of fell in love with it. And I envisioned my studio there with both simple functional exercise equipment as well as a massage table to do my bodywork. And I was convinced that this was the next step for me.

The overhead was low. It was close to where I was living at the time. And it seemed like a logical next step.

And then I shared my vision with Ken. And he vehemently disagreed with me.

Ken said, “Todd, you can DO BETTER than that. This place is too small. You need bigger. Listen, NOW is the time for you in your life to take big risks.”

And I said, “Ken, I can’t afford to take RISKS right now.”

And he said, “Bullcrap. You have nothing to lose. You don’t own a home. You barely own a car. You’re not married. You have very little money. And you have very little assets.”

Well, that certainly didn’t make me feel too good.

But he was right. I had nothing to lose. Why NOT go for my “dream” place NOW?

6 months later, I found that dream location and opened up my 2,000 square foot studio, Fitness Quest 10, in an area called Scripps Ranch (San Diego). And the rest is history.

There were many a days, after I opened Fitness Quest 10, that Ken would come up and joke to me about he wished I only opened that “one room closet” to train one person at a time. And he would just laugh and laugh, as people were bustling all over the place and practically tripping over each other.

And after multiple expansions and much growth, Ken & I would often reflect about life and how you need to live life to it’s fullest…NOW and not wait.

Pretty interesting that after Ken’s tragic death, there was a yellow sticky note taped to his computer screen that said the following words: DO BETTER!!

Do better. Think about that. Do better.

How can you DO BETTER?

  • Maybe it’s in your business.
  • Or the leadership of your team.
  • Or communication with your spouse.
  • Or being maniacally focused on what you NEED to be doing with your life. You know, not getting so distracted with “unimportant” things.
  • Maybe it’s in your physical conditioning. Or your nutrition.
  • Maybe it’s finally doing what you have been saying your’re going to do for the past few months. Or years.

To me, the mindset and lesson that I learned from Ken is that we can always DO BETTER. I use the mantra “1% Better Everyday” as a daily reminder on my continual improvement.

What is the ONE THING you can do today to get 1% BETTER?


1. Define and write down how you can DO BETTER in your own life. And then share it with someone.
2. Call up or email a mentor and let them know the IMPACT they have had in your life. You just never know when it’s going to be too late to let them know the difference they made.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Ken Sawyer. I miss him dearly. And I share this message with you today because we can ALL DO BETTER & BE BETTER. Me included

There is also not a day that goes by that I don’t think of how I can DO BETTER and BE BETTER.

And I commit to my daily improvement so that I can live my best life. And I hope you will commit to doing the same.

We all have 8,720 hours in a year. That is exactly 525,600 minutes. And it’s up to YOU as to what you do with your time.

Maximize every minute you have and always choose to DO BETTER!

Thank you Ken for being in my life for 17 years. And while you are sorely missed by so many today, I can assure you that your life’s message and lesson to “DO BETTER” will never die. Thanks brother for continuing to inspire me to DO BETTER.

Much love… and much IMPACT.


P.S. Would you like to DO BETTER? 

If you would like the opportunity to immerse yourself in my most intensive, LIVE program I offer, my 3.5 Day Mentorship for fitness professionals is coming up Oct 2-5th in beautiful San Diego, CA. Meet me, my extraordinary team, and a host of other passionate, fired-up fitness professionals for the best fitness, business, and personal growth experience of your life. Train at the legendary Fitness Quest 10, be a fly on the wall at one of America’s Top 10 Gyms, hear from over 10 other extraordinary fitness leaders that I have personally mentored, and let me guide YOU and facilitate over 15 hours of coaching to help you craft your BEST LIFE.

Go here to get all the information on my 3.5 Day Mentorship Program and sign up today:


Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally-recognized performance trainer, bodyworker, speaker, author, and owner of award-winning gym Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA (one of the Top 10 Gyms in the U.S.). His outstanding team of 38 professionals deliver extraordinary service in personal training, sports performance training, massage/bodywork, Pilates, yoga, physical therapy and chiropractic. Todd is the Lead Training Advisor for Under Armour, regular contributor to Men’s Health, and author of The IMPACT! Body Plan.

Todd is also the President/CEO of Todd Durkin Enterprises where he conducts motivational keynotes/presentations, educational & leadership workshops, he operates a Mastermind Group for dedicated fitness entrepreneurs, and he presents internationally on health, fitness, peak performance, and success in life.

You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ToddDurkin, his FB Fan page at ToddDurkinFQ10, or sign up for his monthly motivational newsletter at You can get more information on his facility at or

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