How This Entrepreneur Overcame Anxiety Attacks and Turned His Life Around
Bedros Keuilian shares how to ‘cut the bullshit’ and kick ass in business and life.
7 min read
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Picture this: Monday starts as usual. You wake up, shower, drink coffee, and get dressed. But as you bend down to put on your sneakers, your chest tightens. Your arms go numb. Your throat closes. Your hearing is muffled. You get tunnel vision. You can’t stand or catch your breath.
You’re having a heart attack. You’re going to die.
Just as suddenly, your symptoms disappear. You have no idea what just occurred. This happened to Bedros Keuilian, the CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, one of the fastest-growing franchises on the planet. “I didn’t immediately go to the doctor,” says Keuilian. “I had a ton of work to do, so carried on as normal.”
Keuilian’s wife persuaded him to visit a doctor the next day. Tests revealed he’d had a massive anxiety attack — the first of many to come. He was 38 years old and appeared physically strong but was an emotional wreck. “My business was falling apart,” he recalls. “I kept making excuses. I’d made myself a victim.”
After several anxiety attacks, Keuilian finally started accepting responsibility and explains how in his new book, “Man Up: How to Cut the Bullshit and Kick Ass in Business (and in Life).” Here are nine principles that helped him break out of mediocrity and dominate his goals.
1. Stop making excuses.
You’re too busy to network. Your health is failing because you work so hard. You aren’t smart enough because you didn’t excel in school. You’re a bad leader because you’re introverted.
“Excuses are like sugar: They taste good in the moment but are damaging in the long run,” says Keuilian. “They provide false comfort and avoid reality: that you didn’t want to face the challenge, so didn’t try.”
Keuilian recommends wearing a rubber band on your wrist for a few days. “Every time you make an excuse, snap it and let the pain sink in.”
2. Release the ’emergency brake.’
Our childhood experiences shape and shackle us. Maybe your parents taught you that money is bad. Perhaps someone was cruel or abused you. “If you don’t properly process these experiences, you become like a sports car that’s driven with the emergency brake on,” warns Keuilian.
To face this head on, write down your fears each morning. Imagine the worst-case scenario. What’s the likelihood of that happening? How can you prevent it?
3. Do not hit snooze.
Keuilian used to sleep in to avoid his problems. Now he wakes up at 5 a.m. “Start by getting up 30 minutes early for a week. If that goes well, wake up another 30 minutes earlier the following week.”
But don’t hit snooze. “That act of weakness tells your subconscious that you value 10 minutes of mediocre sleep over living your purpose.”
4. Dial in your morning routine.
Keuilian’s morning routine starts two hours before bed. In his iPhone notes, he identifies up to four high-priority tasks that will move his business or life forward. This could be reading for 20 minutes, journaling, sending a message of gratitude or improving a system. Maybe it’s reviewing your tax liability, filming a sales video, or writing 1,000 words for your book.
Then he attacks them first thing in the morning. “I put my phone on silent and place it face down. My emails and social media are closed. I protect my ‘magic time.’ It’s not easy to wake up early and focus on one thing uninterrupted until completion. Discipline requires your best, but brings out your best.”
5. Create excellent work habits.
“I used to be a master procrastinator with horrible work habits and ‘busy work,’” recalls Keuilian. “I thought I was too busy to spend time with my family. I was just disorganized through time-sucking social media, unnecessary emails, and unscheduled calls that derailed my day. It was killing my business — and me!”
Keuilian recommends seeing how it feels to turn off your phone notifications for one day. Install an app like RescueTime to identify where you waste time. At the end of each day, determine how you can prevent time theft tomorrow.
6. Focus on the 5 Percent Rule.
“I once lost a $5,000 sale because I delegated it to an assistant who couldn’t close,” says Keuilian. “Meanwhile, I was dealing with a broken pipe that I could’ve paid someone $100 to fix!”
Keuilian explains that effective leaders work on their business, not in it. “Focus on your zone of genius — 5 percent of tasks with the most impact that only you can complete. Stop wasting your time doing trivial work you can delegate. Pay someone $25 to do your grocery shopping, laundry, or blog posts. This isn’t ducking responsibility — it’s isolating how you’re uniquely suited to drive your business forward.”
7. Build emotional resilience.
Emotional resilience helps you respond calmly to unpredictable situations with clarity. “Entrepreneurs need to be more resilient than the average person. Without it, you might fire off an angry email after an employee quits or send a passive-aggressive text after a bad month,” warns Keuilian.
“You can build emotional resilience like a muscle. Read books instead of the news. Stop gossiping. Eradicate negative self-talk. Surround yourself with optimistic people. Your mind is a computer that will underperform if infected with a virus. So, reprogram it with uplifting messages!”
8. Be decisive.
Indecision is a choice. Basketball player Lebron James says, “Decisions I make, I live with them.” Former Secretary of State Colin Powell coined the “40/70 rule”: You only need between 40 and 70 percent of the information to make a decision.
“Practice acting decisively,” suggests Keuilian. “If you’re choosing an outfit, decide quickly and stick to it. When out with friends or on a date, tell them exactly what you’re all going to do. They’ll appreciate your decisiveness, perceiving you as a natural leader.”
9. Choose to be a fighter jet.
“The world is divided into crop dusters and fighter jets,” says Keuilian. “Crop dusters are victims. They complain or seek approval. They’re indecisive and scattered with no sense of urgency. And they’re always broke.
“Fighter jets are disciplined with their mindset, nutrition, exercise, and time management. They invest in personal development. They do the work to outsmart, outsell, and out-service the competition.”
Each week, Keuilian recommends picking a crop duster habit or belief and replacing it with a fighter jet characteristic. Study models of excellence. For example, Kobe Bryant studied Bruce Lee, while Elon Musk studied Nikola Tesla.
Ultimately, there is no hack, silver bullet, or shortcut. Start believing in yourself instead of looking to others to solve your problems. Man up (women included!), get disciplined, and you’ll take your business and life to the next level.