Staying True to Who I Am

Max Fennell

 Attention Magazine October 2019

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At the end of the summer of 2018, I was faced with a unique situation. I didn’t expect to find myself in such a position. Things were not working out with the company where I worked, and a change needed to happen immediately.

For months, I had been expressing my dissatisfaction to my good friend Chris. He kept chirping in my ear, “Why don’t you start your own coffee company?” I always responded that I didn’t think I could do it, especially with my triathlon training and all the other goals I was pursuing.

The day finally came when I parted ways with that company. It was one of the best days of my life, a serious emotional release. But I had started building something and I still wanted to fulfill the vision I had created. I knew I’d have to start from scratch in order to pick up where I’d left off with my former employer. I decided to give Chris a call to talk about what I planned to do.

“Let’s do it! Let’s build a coffee company,” I said.

There are easily more than twenty important tasks that need to be completed in order to create a company. To start a coffee company in a month, you must—in no particular order—create an LLC, branding, webpage, webstore, social media pages, marketing, logo design, product sourcing, the actual product, and the packaging and labeling for the product. That’s just a small list of things necessary to create a coffee company. Most of it was completed first by mentally writing out the plan and seeing the vision, and then working with my business partner Chris to fulfill all of those tasks.

As a child growing up with ADHD, you feel like it means you are limited or can’t do what “normal” people do. I think this gets internalized and can cause you to not take the risk you intuitively know you should take. Thankfully I have always been a risk taker—someone who chooses the freedom of their ability to experience the present moment to its fullest.

I think that the reason I was always the student in detention—or was seen as the troublemaker—was because I want to make things happen. I wanted to create, I wanted to learn with my hands. And I wanted things to be created as quickly as possible. I can easily be thinking about ten things at once, going over in my mind the process of how to construct those things. If I am a student in a classroom thinking about ten things rather than creating them, it’s hard for me to pay attention to the one thing you want me to.

What has made me successful is I have always embraced my gifts and stayed true to who I am. I learned to accept who I naturally was and trust in myself when I decided to follow my goals and dreams. I am the type of person who needs to wake up in the morning and work out at the crack of dawn in order to get to whatever daily work task there may be.

When I first started getting into triathlons, I had no idea where the sport was going to take me and what doors would be open. A professional license, reality TV show appearance, and numerous overall triathlon victories—it’s been a great journey so far and it is still moving in the right direction. I hit so many adversities on the way to becoming a professional triathlete, but reflecting on them they all truly helped shape the athlete and person I am now.

Training for triathlons prepared me for the daily obstacles and business trials I face on a continued basis. The physical activity helps me to release energy while also simultaneously allowing me to mentally analyze and conduct the work that needs to be physically completed. With most weeks and days structured around my workouts, training brings a level of structure to my life that leads to positive outcomes for my business life.

Sometimes people tell me to focus when it comes to my business endeavors. But me working on multiple different projects is me focusing. The ability to manage multiple tasks with ease is what truly allows me to achieve my goals on a consistent basis.

Max Fennell is a professional triathlete and entrepreneur. He recently starred in the reality game show Million Dollar Mile and launched his own coffee company, Fenn Coffee.