We have gotten to know the RHONE brand over the last year by attending the group workout events around New York City. We see you are also doing this on the west coast now. First, off thank you for taking the time to be in the pages of MAN OF METROPOLIS. It has been an honor to witness what you have built, experience the brand, and see the people you impact by the programming RHONE has created here in New York.
MM: What was the thinking behind this activity and programming by the RHONE brand, are you achieving the goal and what is one or two surprising takeaways from these workouts with the extended RHONE family coast to coast?
NC: The initial thinking is we were being approached daily by various people to represent the brand as influencers, ambassadors, etc. It all felt very inauthentic to me. We wanted to get to know the people that represented our brand, we wanted to learn what they liked, didn’t like, and filter out those we thought were a brand fit vs not a fit. I would say that the events have completely exceeded my expectations. A fraternity has developed between the group. Guys look forward to getting together, sweating together and pushing each other. Outside of Rhone
I care most about inspiring men to move forward in their own personal pursuit of progress. Watching people progress and get closer to their goals is like magic—nothing more special than that.
MM: Fitness apparel is a big market with the Adidas, Nike, Under Armour of the world — and even luxury brands are getting in on the business of fitness apparel. A brand new guy comes into your Times Square pop-up or visits the website. What do you want them to think or experience with the RHONE brand, and if they could only buy/try one piece before they become loyal customers, what item should that be and why?
NC: I want guys to realize that we are more than just an apparel brand. That we stand for something, we have a perspective and a point of view. My goal isn’t simply reaching a revenue target, it is building a big megaphone to have the biggest impact possible. On the product front, I want guys to get it immediately simply by touching and trying the fabric. They can feel the difference and watching guys light up when they get to see it in person is the best. I love all our products but right now I’m really digging our Spar Tactel collection—rarely a day goes by that I’m not wearing something from it.
MM: Let’s talk about HEART. From the vision and mission of this brand to the employees and fitness professionals that surround it, what is it do you think you the designer and overall team have here? Some call it lightning in a bottle, but we know this has been a carefully nurtured and strategize evolution. Can you talk about the pulse of the heart of what is happening and RHONE right now and what excited you for 2019?
NC: The heart of Rhone is its mission—to inspire each other in the pursuit of progress to move Forever Forward. It’s about not viewing the person next to you as the competitor as we have been taught to do—but to look at each other as a teammate to help us excel together. If we are competing with each other then we are only happy when we ourselves succeed and angry when someone else does. That’s the worst kind of way to live. Our competition is ourselves, getting better over time. I used to say every single day but the truth is that’s not how real progress works. Some days we move forward others we move backward but over time if we stay focused and with the right intent we will have an upward trajectory. What gets me most excited about this year is growing and building our team—our employees across HQ and retail and those we work with as influencers and ambassadors.
MM: We love the line, “Forever Forward.” is this your personal mantra each morning and all day? Or is there a book, or quote you have adopted for this year or season in your life both as a CEO, and husband, father, and man? What is it or are there a few you can share?
NC: I have always believed in eternal progression and when we were considering a mantra that really represented us that just came to mind. I don’t remember where I was but it felt like a “Eureka” moment for me. I loved the alliteration and meaning. Asking me for a favorite quote is a dangerous thing to do because I might take the nearest crate, stand up, and never get down! One of my favorites that I have been considering again and again lately is this by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”
Life is hard. Work can be hard. Fitness can be hard but oftentimes we make it harder by simply caving early. If we just persist then tasks get easier even though the thing we are doing hasn’t changed at all—we have.
The notion of what a CEO is and isn’t is most likely still based on assumptions we get from movies or the news. Ultimately it is about being a successful leader, right? What is your leadership philosophy? Is there any great challenge you have had to overcome in the role since starting RHONE? What have you learned about yourself through this process?
I am a student of leadership because I care so deeply about it. In looking at history, great leaders have made a significant difference in how organizations, countries, and families develop. All of us need to be leaders in our own ways. For me, leadership is about empowering people to reach their full potential—giving them the right tools, resources, and helping them define what choices they are free to make themselves and then—get out of the way. I’m a flawed leader in many ways but I know that the team at Rhone knows that I care about them and would do anything for any one of them and I believe that makes a big difference.
MM: Do you have a sports hero and why?
NC: This is tough for me. I grew up a big sports fan and there are many great sports heroes but I think it just feels too cliche to pick one for me. I look up to the heroes who are great people first and great athletes second.
MM: There are a ton of guys out there on Instagram showing off their fitness skills, they are ex-pro athletes, trainers, models, Dads, Kids, etc. As a man and the leader of a men’s fitness brand do you have any assessment or commentary on the state of men’s health and fitness in this hyper-connected world?
NC: It can be a really powerful source for good if consumed in the right way. Recently with a difficult family situation, I saw the good in social media—people reaching out to offer support, working together in a cause, and powerful imagery to make me feel supported and cared about. There’s a great story I heard a while back about a Native American Chief speaking to his grandson about life where he said “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Chief replied, “The one you feed.”
Social media is very much the same way. Are you feeding your self resentment and comparison, long loops of others highlights or are you feeding yourself inspiration, motivation, and education in some cases, it might even be the same images but your interpretation might be completely different. We are blessed to live in a time where we have access to incredible information but if we become consumed by it we will lose the forest for the trees and the bigger picture of what matters most.
MM: What is the best advice you would give to a guy who doesn’t look like the “gym gladiator” and wants to reset his life and place a more prioritized focus on fitness in his life?
NC: To use a Simon Sinek phrase “Start with Why”. Why do you want to focus on fitness? What is the core reason? The more we learn about health and wellness the more we understand the role that fitness plays. Understand you’re why make a commitment and then execute. Too many people spend time on goal setting and not nearly enough time on goal orienting and track- ing. Deciding you want to build a house is the first step but it will get you absolutely nowhere in isolation.
MM: It isn’t all about brands and fitness, you are a human too. What do you most look forward to each day/week in life? What brings you real happiness?
NC: I absolutely love being a dad. It is honestly the greatest challenge and reward. I can think of nothing more motivating and inspiring than having an opportunity to raise 3 boys into what I hope will be great men who are kind, generous, and contributing.
MM: Words to live by?
NC: Forever Forward!