Endurance Cycling Helped This Former Karate Champ Become a Top Ad Exec

In this episode of Spartan UP!, former martial arts champion Howard Chang tells host Joe De Sena about how he derives more satisfaction from being bad at something than he does from being a master. He was a karate champion at 17 but completely switched gears to endurance cycling, a sport which he admits he had no natural affinity towards -- but he eventually excelled at that as well.

"The challenge for me is that I actually found martial arts too easy," he says. "I got my black belt at 16, I became a national champion at 17, and frankly, I got a little bit disengaged at that point... I knew I had to explore something else."

Change says that learning to fail and get back up  is the key to success in any endeavor, and he is eager to practice this at every opportunity. This gritty strategy has propelled him to high places. He is currently CEO of Top Drawer Creative, a Toronto ad agency which is renowned for its high standards of environmental and social responsibility.

"[Endurance racing] helped me to go on in life, because I made the national team eventually, I won a provincial championship... but as I went into business, what I found is that ability to fail, pick yourself up and rebuild was essential," he says. "Sport teaches you resiliency -- we bend, we don't break."

Other takeaways include:

  • The fast-track to growth is to take on a challenge you're not necessarily good at -- and let adversity be your teacher.
  • Don't coddle your kids. Teach them a work ethic while still allowing them the freedom to have adventures. Don't shield them from difficulties.

Related: Author of 'Becoming a Supple Leopard' Wants You to Stand Up and Get Physically Ready for Anything