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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.


Ep157 Transcript: Interview with Will Matthews

October 9, 2023

Andrea Vahl: Do you think you could do an Ironman later in life? How about seven? My guest today, Will Matthews has done seven Ironmans. And not only that, he left a lucrative corporate career to start his own company. We’ll dive into both of these things in today’s interview.

Hello, dreamers. Welcome to the late starters club, giving you the inspiration, mindset, and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Hello, late starters. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl. And I am here with the amazing Will Matthews, who is like a seven time Ironman competitor, which is amazing. Later in life, just got started doing Ironmans later in life. And I’ll give you your full intro in a second, but I just want to say welcome Will.

Will Matthews: Hey, Andrea. So happy to be here. Thanks for having me on board.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. So I want to share a little bit of your story because I love the things you’ve done here. So Will has left a lucrative corporate leadership role at the age of 47 to open his professional development company, Matthew’s Performance Group.

So that already is starting a brand new thing. Later in life in your later forties, but then also you competed in your first triathlon, followed that with your first Ironman two months later, I can’t believe you went from triathlon to Ironman in that short a time. And now you’ve competed in seven Ironman competitions.

And this year became the first Colorado state champion in your age group. That is so cool. So cool. And he’s got a book called this, “You’ve got this! Five keys you need to live boldly and accomplish anything.” And it’s talking about resilience and reinvention, which is what we’re talking about on this podcast.

So I knew that you had to be on this podcast when we started talking about all this. Will is a high content keynote speaker with a motivational and inspirational style, and we’ll get into some of that too. So yes. Rewel coming you will.

Will Matthews: It’s super great to be here. The late starters. You kidding me?

That is such, I love what your work is all about. The message and the encouragement that you provide for sure.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, it’s been so fun. It’s just been such an inspiration for me as most people know, my main business is Facebook advertising. And I thought, I don’t want to start a podcast about this, that I was just wanted something that I was super passionate about, which is, the whole message that you can do anything later in life, even compete in Ironman. So that’s so cool. So what got you started with the triathlon? What, was the motivation there to get started with that?

Will Matthews: Yeah great point. I’ve always been not always since high school, later in high school, I’ve been a fairly athletic kind of guy.

I’d like to test my limits that way. And I’ve done a fair number of. Marathons and things like that. Then I got that nuisance tap on the shoulder. Like, all right, you’ve done it. That’s are you gonna go do more of those? Maybe, but that’s happened. The shoulder was okay. All right, Matthews, what’s next?

And the first thing I heard was iron man. I’m like, Oh no, I don’t want to hear that. Because Ironman is crazy. It’s a crazy distance. It’s a crazy training regimen. But I listen to that tap. The tap we always get right. We feel that nudge to go do something different and we either follow that nudge or we push it back, or we maybe someday.

So that’s what drove me into that. Starting. Yeah. Later in life, you can see the little gray hair here. And starting that out and really it’s just been a fascinating journey almost metaphorical toward the kind of stuff we all do whenever we want. We get to reinvent.

Andrea Vahl: I love it.

I love it. So remind people, remind our listeners and myself, I always get mixed up on the distances. So what is the Ironman distance for all of those events?

Will Matthews: Yeah. Yeah. So Iron Man the Iron Man distance is you start off with a 2.4 mile swim. Typically it’s in open water like ocean or a big lake or something.

So 2.4 mile swim, and then 112 miles on the bike. And then following that with a full marathon. was 46. 2 miles. So it’s a long day to say the least.

Andrea Vahl: Oh my gosh, that is just crazy. And so how long does it take you to train for that? How long, are you just in constant training seven?

You’re probably doing, are you doing one a year? What do you…?

Will Matthews: Exactly one a year. And so the training for me, I love to ski. I’m one of those. Like all of us, we like to do a lot of different things, or we have a lot of demands. And I love to ski. I love the winter sports. And so I start usually right in March, and then I try to find one triathlete or an Ironman to do this more like August, September, October time frame.

So I can train all summer. Yeah.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Wow. That’s awesome. And Yeah. So you just won the Colorado state champion. That just happened here recently, right?

Will Matthews: That was in August. Yeah. And to be clear, the state championship that I’m the state championship for the state champion for the Olympic distance.

So for clarity, for everybody. Ironman’s this one that is different than that, but yeah, it was fun to stand on top of the podium. That was great.

Andrea Vahl: That is so cool. That is so cool. I love it. Love it. Yeah. I, so what, yeah,

so have there been any hardships along the way with training? Have you gotten injured or are there any things that have unexpected obstacles that have come up during your training?

Will Matthews: Absolutely. Yeah, there’s it’s just a constant thing. And I really do think Andrea is I look at it as a metaphor. Again, you look at what it takes to train and as an example to answer your direct question. Yeah, I’ve had Achilles heel. Not full tears, but damage. And once you do, when you have that, you can’t run at all.

You have to just let it heal. And not get diverted and not quit, but just say, okay, I have to be smart about this and let that heal up. I have diff different things like that. Thankfully, my knees are bulletproof so far. A lot of people have that challenge, but there’s always something that gets in the way, especially sometimes life.

There’s a lot of other things, that it’s sometimes not always easy to go say, Hey, I’ll be back. I’m going to go do a six hour bike ride. Then I’ll be back. Oh, by the way, I’m going to be totally exhausted for the rest of the day, too. Yeah.

Andrea Vahl: I know. That’s the thing is it just, it’s not just a, quick little bit of exercise in the morning that you’re doing, like a whole weekend is.

Is probably dedicated to that and you got to eat right all that stuff.

Will Matthews: Yeah, exactly. Yeah There are a lot of things, emotionally mentally Physically that something like this, really does test in the process.

Andrea Vahl: So what has driven you to do this multiple times? What keeps you going?

Why has it not been like a one and done check, check the box? What is it about this? That keeps You know, hooked in and doing it over and over.

Will Matthews: Yeah. It’s an interesting thing. It becomes a bit of a lifestyle. Really right now I’m outta season now. I’m complete for the year. And I can tell you, and maybe if you, everybody else can relate to this, sometimes it’s if I don’t have a goal, if I don’t have something that I’m working toward for me, wow.

It could be a little difficult to get to the gym. It can get a little bit difficult to do the kind of things it takes. to keep preparing. So for me, it’s wow, it took a lot to get to that level of physical endurance and so forth. And I just didn’t want to, I don’t want to lose that. I want the next stage of my life to be the best stage of my life.

And I think to do that, you have to be strong physically to the extent that you’re capable.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, for sure. I think that makes a huge difference with your attitude and energy and everything, right? It just trickles down into everything, into mindset and all that type of thing. Yeah, so I want to, I also do want to get into you, especially like you’ve made these big changes.

With the activities you’re doing the competitions you’re doing, you made big changes with starting your own company and, what do you think it really takes to make big changes? And I know you’re, you basically focus on this with your content. So I’d love to hear more about your philosophies there.

Will Matthews: Great question. And again, I’m just, I’m looking at the logo here, late starters club. I think there’s a couple of ways we can navigate life. And one of those is to anchor in and say, okay, I’ve got this, I’ve got a status quo, I’m making it. I use the word like a mediocre life approach to life, not with any being derogatory about that but just settling.

And what am I just, oh, my gosh, this goes against every grain of who I am is When we settle for less than what we can experience, I’m not saying you have to be a maniac and go after everything and change up everything all the time. But look, if you’re getting that nudge, I talked about earlier.

And as I did in corporate America, I was in some pretty lucrative, pretty big positions, leading teams as an executive at corporate America. I got the tap there too. Andrea was like. Is this it? Is this all there is? And am I going to spend another, 20 plus years just replaying that same video every day?

Me, I just, the answer was no, I can’t. So I decided to contribute in a different way and start my professional development company and, really never look back. But I think what it takes to make those kinds of changes is, the ability to assess who you are and have certainty and comfort.

And routine are important for you. Look, That’s great. And that might make a lot of sense for individuals listening who want to just stay kind of get comfortable and have the certainty, then that’s, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no better or worse. But for a lot of people, maybe in that late starters club, they probably felt that nudge.

And they’re getting tired of ignoring it. And so it’s really about leverage. If you’re willing to accept a certain amount of uncertainty and see where you can go, then that thing doesn’t, that’s what starts or makes the genesis of big moves in your life.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, for sure. I think you got to pay attention to that tap, especially if you hear it over and over.

It’s just such a, it’s a huge thing because it’s, the universe telling you, you need to look at this because, it keeps showing up in your life. So for sure. I think that’s so great. So what do you think though? It actually like, how do you get through the fear of committing to that leap?

Yeah. Into that next thing, because there’s obviously, with training with a race, it may not be as high as stakes, right? You, until you have already started and you’re, you’re out there, you’re a mile in on the swim, you got to get back. So you’re already doing that, but yeah, your training is has helped you with that.

But like, how about if you’re for making this big change and how do you move past that?

Will Matthews: Yeah. Great question. And it’s, it is very real, isn’t it? It’s the fear that I believe really holds us back. And when we anchor to or really listen to that voice, the voice of fear, the voice of concern, I think it’s important to say where’s that coming from?

Is that truly my voice, my higher, being, or is that maybe and everyone probably is familiar with the idea of our ego is that little nagging voice on your shoulder that says, play small. Don’t do it. Everyone’s laughing at you. What if you fail? We have, we all have them.

And I think, making just being aware. Hey, it’s there. Yeah. It could be something that drives my decisions moving forward, or I can right size that voice here now. And I’m a huge fan Andrea of reality testing. You want to make sure that you do what you can to mitigate any of the risks that go along with making a big change.

So having your peer group or your advisor, advisory group or your coach or friends or whoever it is to really say, Hey, this is what I’m thinking. Can you tell me if I’m, I’m missing something. One thing I would suggest is make sure you don’t go out to everybody and say that because. Even people with the best intentions really looking out for you will offer this opportunity for you to play small.

They know the risks that might be involved with what you’re thinking and they want you to not have to experience the potential of failure. Without the potential failure, then there’s no juice around the joy of really having tried something you didn’t know if you could do and find out you could and now on the other side of that life is so much more fun.

Andrea Vahl: I love that. I love that. That’s so true. Because once you like level up to that new thing, once you’ve completed the triathlon, then you’re like what’s next? Maybe, then you can do it, go for the iron man. Or once you started your own business or, gotten some clients and what’s next, you can grow even bigger and take.

Take bigger risks and realize that you are able to handle it. So I love that. I love that. What has been a a moment in your journey where you started? I keep going back to starting your own business because I do love those kinds of, I love the competitions too. I love starting competitions and starting that training, but I also love, the stories of people who are starting some starting a business too.

Where, what has been a moment in your business where you ran into a roadblock and. Got around it. And what was something that was a, was an obstacle there for you,

Will Matthews: right? Yeah. Because they will show up. There’s no doubt that all and test your commitment and all those things.

And so looking at. at those things as they arise as exactly that. Okay, I see what’s happening. This is my tester. It’s not always going to be super easy. Like a career change is a big thing. Yeah. And I admire people who can, let’s consider like the, a postal delivery person who does the same thing. Every day they do their thing, they walk the route, they drop the mail, and they probably find those individuals who have that kind of routine and enjoy that probably have other ways.

They’re experiencing expressing themselves in life. So I just want to stress no right or wrong. There’s no better. But if you’re feeling like, hey, I want to try something new, Just realize that, I believe we’re all eight year olds walking around trapped in adult bodies. What I mean by that is that we have stories we’ve been telling ourselves about what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, what we’re capable of.

That third grade teacher said it’s a good thing you’re good at, working with knowing people and having good friends because you’re terrible at science. And that goes into your head all of a sudden. If you’re not careful, you’re terrible at science for the rest of your life, because you never changed or challenged the stories you picked up.

The challenges that showed up for me as I started it, as I mentioned, I was in pretty lucrative positions. Let’s see. I had an older son in college. I had two younger kids. That was responsible for my wife wasn’t working and I had some financial backing because I bet a lot of people who think about career change are thinking, if only I had two years worth of, you know, savings, then I’d be good. And, that could be that thing that holds you back or gives you that little bit of a, an out, we find those, that’s, I would do that. But if only. And there again, that’s that tester. It’s wait a minute, this is not it.

I can go do this. Remember, if you don’t go, you don’t know. And so in that thing, because you don’t think you have everything lined up yet, then unfortunately you might get to the end of the road and say, be that person in the rocking chair is darn it. I didn’t experience this beautiful thing in life to the fullest for me.

Yeah, I definitely had some financial ups and downs. Going from poof to


you know, But uh, but it all works out. And it’s that keeping your eye on the ultimate outcome you have, and hopefully for many, that’s going to be serving people just like you, Andrea, that one of the goals is just to be able to serve as many people as you can. And to do that, sometimes you’ve got to get out of those skinny branches a little bit.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. I love that. I love that. That’s it. That was, that’s definitely would have been a very scary time to start a new business. You’ve got, college payments, but at the same time, if there’s never a perfect time, right? There’s never a perfect time. And if you’re waiting for the perfect time, it might never come.

It’s all perfect. That’s great. And now what I love too is that you are now transitioning to doing just, you had the coaching business and the leadership coaching that you were doing, but now you’re transitioning into doing just keynotes and focusing not just keynotes, but focusing your business on keynotes.

And Tell us a little bit about what that’s like. What are you doing to pivot a little bit into and lean into that part of your business a little bit more?

Will Matthews: Yeah, the, so I’m a, I’ve been a board certified coach for many years in the executive leadership kind of branch of coaching thing about coaching is I think, you know, us.

Turns out we bring ourselves to work. So executive coach, we end up working through whatever might be hindering someone from having the kind of joy and success they’d like to have. And it’s been great. I’ll always have some clients. But what I really like is the idea of being able to touch the lives of as many people as I can.

And one to one is great, but one to many opens the door for more impact. And it’s joyful speaker, performer you are, and you know how it’s fun. It’s enjoyable to be out really interacting and seeing what’s happening in the world for other people. So that’s where I’m excited to go now. And so it’s been great.

And my primary keynote speech is called the game you must win. And it’s really about that internal tug of war between coming from fear. or coming from a platform of strength and we have that every day. So how do we, some tools in there about how do we make sure we’re coming from a place of strength?

And not coming from a place of fear where we’ll be called to play smaller and have smaller impact than we would otherwise.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. I love that. I love that. It’s so great. And I think that I think that that also plays into what you’ve done with your With your competitions too, coming from a place of strength and hoping, and just pushing yourself into new spaces there.

I think that that trickles down and feeds into, our lives. So I think it’s all so synergistic with that, with our business and the activities we do outside of work. Yeah.

You have been an executive coach for a long time and are there other fear?

We talked about fear a little bit as, as keeping people stuck, but are there other obstacles that you see keep people stuck and keep people from making. Big changes or doing, the things that they’re tapping them on the shoulders. What other things come into play?

Will Matthews: I think for me what was really tough to overcome is what I talked a little bit about before.

And I think many of your viewers and listeners will be able to relate. And that is, the it’s just a, it’s a path of least resistance to stay where you’re going. On the path you are on.

I was fascinated to learn that the space shuttle that we had that we’re going to do the space shuttle when up in orbit travels at a rate catches of 17, 500 miles an hour. And I’m like, wow, really fast. I can’t get my head around that. But what’s interesting is it does so using virtually no fuel.

Now that’s because of gravitational pull and you’re in an orbit, how all that stuff goes. It doesn’t, but that’s a huge rate of speed, but to change course, just a little bit requires 4, 000 liters of liquid fuel per second. Oh, wow. Yeah, I know nothing about liquid fuel, nor do I want to, but 4, 000 liters of liquid anything per second is a lot, right?

Yeah. And so it’s a tremendous effort just to take that space shuttle and change this course, even two degrees. Probably the metaphor is probably not lost on you. It’s it’s easy for us to stay. We can move right along on the path we’re on. For reviewers, it takes a lot to make that small change to change our course.

So of course it’s easy. I felt it. My gosh, people thought I was nuts when I left my corporate job. Hard to get there. How are you doing it? So I think it’s that it’s the voices in our head. It’s. It’s just the idea that, you know what, it’s easier to stay on the path we’re on. And again, if that’s people who are listening or watching, don’t, if that’s what you’re called to do, there’s, that’s fine.

There is no better, no worse. The beauty of life is we all get to experience it in our own way. But I have to say this, if part of what’s happening here is you’re just settling because you don’t want to put that energy in to make that little change. That can deliver you a whole different result.

Keep listening to the late starters club podcast, because it’s going to be good information and kind of maybe be that little nudge you need from time to stay on the course of changing.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing. Just I’ve never even heard that, about the space shuttle, but like it is, there’s just a lot of, I think there’s also like societal pressure.

There’s, there’s. Pressure within our families, our friends, and you might be in a group of people who are all, in that same space and to make a change feels really challenging. And yeah, I 4, 000 liters of fuel. That’s a lot. I don’t know. Does that translate into like cookies or something can we, is that our fuel? We get to a lot of cookies, a lot of cookies.

Will Matthews: The questions are good. We’re like, no, look, it’s not always easy. And using your own power of thought, your own power of the words that you choose. I’m a ridiculous optimist. I know that about me. And, like I, it’s just some of us are that way. Some are what I realized, it’s like when I prepare for a race I’ve got a new mantra now that I write to myself every time.

It’s really look, there are gonna be times during that race, and there’s gonna be times during any change anybody else makes. that are gonna, I’m going to feel strong. I’m going to feel on point that everything’s going great. And there’s gonna be times during that race or whatever this other path changes.

Where I’m going to feel terrified and I’m going to feel not great and I’m going to want to, so being aware, even though if you’re an optimist like me and you might be able to say, no, it’s all going to be great being aware that, having a reality test around that is really valuable.

So that when the hard times come, you’re not knocked off center, they will, it’s not a trajectory of ease.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s such a great metaphor for, any big change or anything that you’re trying to do is that just realizing. That this is just a down moment. It’s a, it’s a rough time.

We’ll get through it and there’ll be, a good time or, a high or where you’re feeling on top of the world on the other side of that. So that definitely. Is so true. So true. Love it. Love it. So this is a great segue into you’re talking about that as a mantra. I also love to have our guests share that one of their favorite quotes or inspirational sayings, cause I’m just such a quote junkie and I just love all of that.

So I’d love to hear what your favorite quote or motivational saying is. And if you could share that with us.

Will Matthews: Yeah, it’s wow. What a tough question because like you, I love so many, whether it’s Eleanor Roosevelt or any of the others that are out there who just were so prolific and things that came up with, but I guess I’m going to choose this one and it’s a little longer.

So I’ll hold it up and read it. And this is by Walter Wintel, who wrote really a lot of books back in kind of the turn of the last century, not to, not the 1900s to 2000s, but the 1800s to 1900s. Okay, if you think you’re beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t. If you’d like to win but you think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost. For in this world, we find success. begins with a person’s will. It’s all in your state of mind. So that’s what I chose for you today. Cause it’s just,

Andrea Vahl: I love it. I love it.

Will Matthews: He was, he’s a good one. If you haven’t read Walter Wintel’s work, it’s a good one. Okay.

Andrea Vahl: Nice.

Nice. And I love when these quotes come from, just so long ago and they’re so like still so valid today. It just shows that we still struggle with the same things, the same issues in our, challenges in our, the way we think and just. It’s been, through the ages.

We have to just keep honing our mind and honing our attitude and bringing that, those winning thoughts to our everyday life. So I love that.

Will Matthews: Yeah, and supporting each other on that.

Andrea Vahl: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Will, I would love to have you share, like, where people can find you, where people can find more about your keynotes that you offer and we’ll have these in the show notes, but just, I’d love to hear more about that.


Will Matthews: Thanks for that. Yeah. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of different ways that I’ve shown up as a professional development maniac, but where I’m at, where I’m now is really two things. So my book, which I think you could probably see here, it’s called, you’ve got this, the five self coaching keys you need to live boldly and accomplish anything..

It’s available on Amazon. It’s available as an audio book. Hey, it might be a resource. It would be beneficial, especially if you’re in that. Okay, I’m going to start taking that walk into the cross that line between the known and the unknown. This might be a helpful resource for you. The keynote that I mentioned earlier, the game, you must win, is really available for people who have, who want to inspire their team, whether that’s within a corporate world or a small startup sales conferences, association conferences, everyone’s a member of an association, right?

If some kind of people are, sometimes they want to have a really good start to their event. And that’s where I come in. Typically as the keynote speaker, unless it’s for celebrity. George Bush, who knows? But that’s not me. But if you’re looking for a surprise and delight, good time, let’s get everybody going and get some ideas and some tactics in place.

And that would be, I’d be honored if I could come serve you in that way.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. And yes, I met will through the national speakers association Colorado chapter here, and he’s just great. So just. Highly recommend connecting with him and if you need any type of keynote or if you’re there or need that type of inspiration connect with him.

So thank you, Will, so much for inspiring our listeners. Hopefully we’ll get people out there doing Ironmans or at least triathlons.

Will Matthews: We all have our own Ironman, whatever it happens to look like, absolutely.

Great. Thank you so much. Great. Okay. See you later. Bye everybody.

Andrea Vahl: Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide top tools for late starters on the website at late starters club. com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.

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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.

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