We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Karp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, what do you attribute your success to?
There are two most important factors behind my success — education and relentless persistence. The fitness and run coaching industries are unique in that they don’t require an education. With no barrier to entry, everyone with an interest in fitness and running is in it. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the science of athletic performance, so I followed a path that was in line with my goal and my curiosity. If someone wants to become a lawyer, he/she goes to law school to study law. If someone wants to become a dentist, he/she goes to dental school to study dentistry. If someone wants to become a physical therapist, he/she goes to physical therapy school to study physical therapy. For me, pursuing a career in coaching is exactly the same. So I went to school for many years to become a leading expert.
But education is not enough in a competitive industry when you are self-employed. While my education differentiates me from everyone else in the industry, I have had to be relentlessly persistent to get things done. There will always be a “no” response from someone, or even no response at all, so in order to get people’s attention, one needs to be relentlessly persistent. I am glad I have that personality trait!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Navigating my career has been both easy and hard. Easy in that my curiosity placed me on a road at a young age and I followed that road to become a professional in the industry, never veering away from it. Hard in that being self employed has many challenges, not the least of which is marketing and branding in a saturated industry, which is made more saturated with social media. Everyone has the microphone now, so the real professionals have to do something to attract business. Over the years, I have been able to build a reputation off my volume of work that, I dare say, is among the most impressive in the fitness industry, and has included four academic degrees, numerous publications and conference presentations, published scientific research, the creation of a certification course that has penetrated 25 countries, serving as a continuing education credit provider, the founding of a literary agency for aspiring authors, moving to Kenya to coach some of the best runners in the world, the founding of a women’s-specialty run coaching company to create a platform for women’s fitness, and a TED talk on how running like an animal makes us human.
The major lesson I have learned along the way is that you don’t always (or even usually) get what you want, and you have to find a way to be okay with that. You often have to be creative and find a different path to the goal.
What I want the world to know about me and my story is that I am a deeply passionate guy who follows his curiosity and will go to great lengths to be the best. And I love cereal, apple juice, and chocolate.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As I write this, I am living in a rural town in Kenya that has many cows, sheep, roosters, and the best distance runners in the world. So if my visitor is a runner, I would show him or her how remarkable and inspirational this rural town is by taking my visitor on a run with the Kenyans.
When I’m not in Kenya, I live in San Diego, which is such a beautiful place that it’s hard to decide on a single place to take someone. I would likely hang out with my visitor at Mission Bay during the day and La Jolla in the evening.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout out to my literary agent, Grace Freedson! Shout out to all the scientists and coaches that I learned from and studied under!
Enock Kirop (for the coaching photos in Kenya)