John Brenkus has spent the last decade studying and popularizing the unique characteristics of the world’s greatest athletes. A co-founder of BASE Productions, he co-created the groundbreaking series Fight Science for the National Geographic Channel, the on-air host, co-creator and executive producer of ESPN’s Emmy Award winning show Sport Science.
SPORT SCIENCE has appeared in and produced over 1200 segments that have been featured on ABC and ESPN’s enormous sports platform. He’s been featured in coverage of The Super Bowl, Monday Night Football, the NBA Finals, Sunday Night Baseball, and The Masters just to name a few. Through SPORT SCIENCE, Brenkus has appeared before 80 million people annually for the last decade, has won 6 Emmys, and has written a New York Times Best Seller “The Perfection Point”.
His expertise in analyzing the performance behind all things sports science-related has landed him national endorsement deals with Ford, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Gillette, Nerf, Coors Light (with Ice Cube), Taylor Made, and many more.
John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit the marketingmasters.com.
John S.: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I am John Shegerian. This is a special edition. We have with us today a six-time Emmy Award winner and the CMO of Kill Cliff, John Brenkus, with this today. Thank you for joining us today in the Impact Podcast, John.
John Brenkus: Hey, thank you so much for having me.
John S.: You know, John, I am just a relative rookie in this podcast world and to have you on, a six-time Emmy Award winner, I am going to tell you that is rare and I have never interviewed– and I have had over thirteen hundred interviews in the last ten years, I never interviewed a six-time Emmy Award winner. Before we get talking today about the important work that you are doing at Kill Cliff, can you share a little bit of the John Brenkus back story? How you came to win six Emmy Awards? What work you were doing then and what you are doing now, then we will get into them, what you are doing now at Kill Cliff, and some other great things too.
John B: I am best known as the host and the creator of a property called Sports Science that was on ESPN for a very long time. I did eighteen hundred different episodes, ran for eleven years. I was fortunate enough to win a bunch of awards and bring the New York Times best-selling book, but that really just came from the fact that I own a production company that had a Sport Division and a Science Division, and we created a real niche in the market. We saw that people really enjoyed learning about the human body and what humans were capable of, entertaining fashion, so we carved a little niche for ourselves and sort of taking it to the next level now with the involvement with Kill Cliff.
John S.: Well, now that you have joined on as the Chief Marketing Officer of Kill Cliff, I am so intrigued because Kill Cliff is a great brand. I am actually sitting at my desk here in Fresno, California today. I love your products. I am drinking this morning before I went to the gym and post-gym, I am drinking the Gangsta’s Berr-Dise. I love it. I have all of them, though. I always buy the mix pack and enjoy all of them. The thing I love most is not only does it give me a charge in the morning, but also it does not affect my sleep. I am a big sleep guy and I do not want anything affecting my sleep. Coffee messes my sleep. Other energy drinks mess with my sleep. This does not. Can you share a little bit about why you joined and why you so believe in the mission and the product at Kill Cliff?
John B: Yes. Kill Cliff is a clean energy drink. Literally, before joining Kill Cliff I drank water and water. So it took my own research and my own exploration to really arrive at the conclusion that Kill Cliff was truly different. Now, there are energy drinks in space like Red Bull and Monster and you know the other sort of big boys in that space, but they are full of synthetic caffeine and sugar, and quite honestly, they are just not good for you for lack of a better word. Many people refer to them as toxic energy drinks. Kill Cliff is defining a new space. Nothing artificial, nothing fake, sugar-free, it is a clean energy source. You have B vitamins, electrolytes, and all clean green tea caffeine. So what is interesting is that a lot of people who have used Kill Cliff over the years say exactly the kind of things that you are saying. It is like, “Yes, I get a boost of energy but I do not feel a lot of my mind. I am not lying awake in bed.” It is a drink that is good for you and gives you that little extra energy that you need. We have an energize and recover drink that has 25 milligrams of clean green tea caffeine, and we have a drink, a line of Ignite that is 125 milligrams. We also have a CBD drink. So we are the best-selling CBD beverage in the country. Not only are we the best-selling but were the fastest-growing. Joe Rogan is probably our biggest ambassador. He is a real believer in the product. When you look at all the things I have been exposed to, with sports science, what I am able to arrive at the conclusion, just like Joe Rogan did, on our own, it was not a matter of being approached and coerced into some kind of job. It was a real adoption of a product and then just being a great fit for the DNA of the company that is founded by Navy SEALs and run by Navy SEALs. It really fits the core beliefs that I have, not only in a company but in the product.
John S.: It is interesting, and by the way, I have never tried your CBD drink, but your recovery drink is also delicious and never spikes my sugar or my carb intake. I am very careful about that stuff. I have been a vegetarian for forty years, a vegan for twelve and a half years, and typically intermittent fasting to go through my week. I am very sensitive when it comes to these issues. You started parsing though, one thing I want you to explain because you are a science guy beside the physical side of this thing, you are a science guy. You are known for science. People hear the word caffeine, John, and they think all caffeine is created equal. I could say that that is not true. I am not a science guy like you. I know I love the taste of coffee. If I drink two espressos I am done that night. I could drink it at seven in the morning, I am still done at midnight. I am up wide awake. Meanwhile, when I drink Kill Cliff, I am totally chill. Last night, I had drunk two Kill Cliffs yesterday morning and I slept eight and a quarter hours and my aura ring tracks it all. Explain that to our audience, the science behind caffeine, and how all caffeine is not created equal, please.
John B: Well, it is not even that all caffeine is not created equally. It is that all ingredients are not created equally. If you think about things that are genuinely artificial, things that are synthetically made, they just do not, for lack of a better description, they do not fit into our systems as easily. They just take more energy to actually digest and to absorb into our body. So when you have synthetic ingredients and a high amount of sugar, I mean everybody understands there is a difference from naturally occurring sugar and high fructose corn syrup. They are absorbed differently into the body because it just literally takes more energy to do something with them. There is also, without getting too technical, but as you are breaking things down, you are thinking about where is that energy being stored? How is it being used in my body? When you think about something that is a naturally-occurring source of caffeine that does not have the interference of other synthetic ingredients, artificial ingredients, or anything that is fake, your body is able to do something with the ingredients. That is what is so brilliant. When you pick up a can of Kill Cliff, you say, “Oh my God, this has fifteen calories. How is that possible as opposed to another energy drink that will have two hundred calories?” Well, it is because it is all naturally occurring, it is sugar-free and it is just better for you. So your body can absorb it in a much more efficient fashion.
John S.: Got it. Hey, for our listeners out there, we have got John Brenkus with us today. He is the CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer of Kill Cliff. To find that great product, please go to www.killcliff.com. John, you joined on in January of this year if I am not mistaken, and you have already started taking all of your experience in production, all of the great episodes you made back at ESPN, and all the knowledge you have in science and physics, and you applied it to Kill Cliff. Explain a little bit about how you brought a whole new approach to innovative ad campaigns and raising the visibility of Kill Cliff.
John B: Because of my experience in creating television, movies, and commercials spots, and I literally have created thousands of episodes and ad campaigns and pieces of media prior to joining Kill Cliff. What we really wanted to do is to build a media company and to say, “Okay, well, we will have our own streaming platform. We will have our own proprietary programs, we will be able to recruit some giant personalities and to really support our audience not only with entertaining content but with content that we really can get behind and believe in. We are essentially building a network. If you think about the different players that are out there in the space, it is very challenging, but having been there and done that, when you have the backing of Kill Cliff and the ability to reach giant audience, evolving into being a media company in addition to an energy drink company is something that is really exciting.
John S.: That is awesome. Can you share a little bit– One of the really exciting things that I was so taken by with your company compared to other companies, the whole issue of circular economy sustainability, environment, and social governance is becoming a huge deal now, not only in the United States but obviously around the world. What I love about your company is not only is it a great brand and it is so much better than everything else, a cut above, but you have a mission that is literally undeniably something that sets you apart from all of your competition. Something I have never heard before. Can you talk a little bit about the founder story and how you guys give back to the Navy SEAL Foundation?
John B: Yes. Kill Cliff was founded by Todd Ehrlich who is a former Navy SEAL and it is run by John Timar who also is a former Navy SEAL. The purpose of the brand was to not only provide the audience, our customers, with a quality product that is good for them but also to generate a revenue stream that can go back to the Navy SEAL foundation. So it is incredibly important to the mission of Kill Cliff to give back from where they came. It is really an honor. I mean every time that we see sales growth happening in the company, we just feel so great because we know where we came from, we know who we need to give back to, and we know where we are going as well. So there is nothing but blue skies ahead and we certainly are honored to be able to provide the Navy SEAL Foundation with significant money.
John S.: That is awesome. So far, I am on your website now, and for our listeners out there, go to www.killcliff.com. Over eight hundred and thirty thousand dollars to date have been donated by your company back to the Navy SEALs and the Navy SEAL Foundation. Can you just frame that up for me a little bit, John, and for our listeners, over how long of a period is that?
John B: Yes. I mean it is even probably more than that. We just had a giant fundraiser that went really well. So we were given well in excess of a million dollars which will go to the Navy SEAL Foundation. Obviously, we are not stopping there. We will just kind of continue to grow and continue to give.
John S.: I love it. John, like I said at the top of the show, six Emmy Awards. I mean, I have never had the honor to interview anyone with your level of success and experience. What I love about you as well is you are one of these multifaceted people. It is just not enough to do one thing and master one thing. Besides being the Chief Marketing Officer of Kill Cliff, you now have an AR series called Soul and Science which you have just launched with Intel. Can you share with our listeners what Soul and Science, the new app, is and what you are trying to accomplish there?
John B: Yes. We were able, through Sports Science, to give people an inside look into the world of how athletes do what they do and why it is possible, and what Soul and Science have done is to take that to sort of the augmented reality space. We got some of the world’s greatest athletes to come in and shoot underneath the dome that as over a hundred cameras are shooting at 8K simultaneously. It is essentially bullet time on steroids. It has been a real honor to be able to work with some of the greatest tech minds and combine that with the greatest athletes in our production expertise to create something that is really unique.
John S.: Are you taking– is that meant to inspire others to follow the hacks and other tricks of the trade so everybody can up their game, to be better at what they do like those elite athletes?
John B: Certainly in terms of inspiring, I always want to be involved with stuff that inspires people to raise their game, whether or not it is a physical game or a mental game or spiritual game. It is certainly everything I do is geared towards trying to help people just become better however you define that. I always like to say, “Be the best version of you.”
John S.: Let us talk about that for a second. John, we are still doing this interview. You are in Georgia. I am in California. We are still under the cloud of the COVID-19 tragedy that has hit the whole world. One thing I have seen is a lot of people talk about science winning, the vaccinations coming, and us getting back to a new normal and I feel new normal is almost the white flag. When people talk about the new normal it is almost like a diminished version of ourselves. I like to say to our company, my colleagues, and other people that I am around, when we get through this thing which we are going to, when we get to the other side, let us be a new better. What I have seen with a lot of people is during this period they have emotionally eaten a lot, they have not taken care of themselves. What can you say to people out there that maybe do not even have their gyms available, and their regular creature comforts, whether it is their CrossFit Studio, their Soul Cycle Studio, their gym, the whole country is disparate and how they are managing their public places for people to get their typical workouts and other things. What words of wisdom for people, when we get to the other side, how can they be more of a new better and better themselves using the science that is out there when it comes to nutrition and physical exercise, and not just go back to a new normal which may be a diminished version of themselves?
John B: The most important thing to recognize is that the only thing that is constant in life is change, and change is something that sometimes it feels good, sometimes it feels bad but change always is happening. Sometimes it is more obvious to us what that change actually is. What I like to say is if you do not like where you are, if you feel like you are in a rut, if you do not like the thoughts you have in your head, if you do not enjoy the habits that you have created, if you do not like where you are, move. Moving forward is the way forward. Now, you can move literally and change up your entire environment. You can move figuratively where it is like, “Hey, I am just going to think differently,” but mental loops and thoughts, loops are very real. When we are dealing with the situation that we are all sort of confronted with in the world today, Loops are created more easily because you are just thinking the same thing over and over and over. Breaking your patterns, breaking your thoughts is really step one to freedom. Realizing that you are free to do what you want. You are free to eat better. You are free to consume better drinks. You are free to exercise. You need to understand that you need to seize the day and to harness that freedom and turn it into something that is great.
John S.: I love it. We are going to leave it at that, John. It is really beyond an honor to have you on today. He is John Brenkus. He is the CMO of Kill Cliff. To buy Kill Cliff and learn more about all the great things they are doing, their great products, their CBD product, their recover product, and their Ignite which I drink every day, go to www.killcliff.com. Also, support their great mission in giving back to the Navy SEAL Foundation. John Brenkus, you are making the world a better place. You are definitely making an impact every day. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you for being on the Impact Podcast today.
John B: God bless you. Thank you so much.