You are what you overcome. Life and business are often messy. Failure sucks, even when it’s fast. Progress is not a linear path. And the road to achievement is rarely the highlight reel you see paraded on social media.

Choose the Hard Way explores peak performance & lessons learned at the limits of human experience with guests from sports, politics, business, tech, the military & more.


This is Andrew Vontz, creator of Choose the Hard Way. I’m a 360-degree storyteller and spent more than a decade during the first half of my career working exclusively as a freelance journalist for publications like Outside magazine, Rolling Stone, Big Brother Skateboarding, Men’s Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Salon, FoxSports and many, many others.

I wrote about a wide range of subjects. Celebrities like Samuel L Jackson, Paris Hilton, Katie Holmes, Mickey Rourke and John Travolta. Musicians and artists like Daft Punk, the Beastie Boys, Suge Knight, Kanye West and Audioslave. I wrote about full moon gatherings in the mojave and the Mars society and the Tour de France. I wrote about Jenna Jameson and Stan Lee and Navy SEALs and Bikram and UFC champions including Frank Mir, Lyoto Machida and Cain Velasquez.

One week I’d be in Miami hanging out with a guy who claimed to be the antichrist and his followers while they got 666 tattoos or following Bikram at his yoga world championships. Another week I’d be working on an adventure travel story about mountain biking in Squamish, British Columbia or having breakfast at Caeser’s Palace with Ric Flair.

The thing about these gigs I valued the most was what I learned from spending time with these individuals, the conversations we had that didn’t make it into the stories, the view I got behind the public facade, and the experiences I had along the way.

There are dozens of personalities and gurus out there with podcasts focused on hacks, shortcuts and optimization. I’ve listened to many of them. Sometimes they have great guests. But at their core they have a false promise--that there’s some shortcut to being the best. Whether that’s your best, or the best in the world. The thing is, that’s not really how it works.

The people who are the most successful in any given discipline aren’t people who have taken shortcuts and hacked their way to the top. No matter what it might look like from the outside, no one is an overnight success. There’s no doubt that people are born with gifts and that luck plays a role in achievement.

But by and large, giftedness and luck are nothing without hard work. The people who become the best at their discipline or just unlock the best versions of themselves are people who think and work hard, even when they’ve made it to the top. They set audacious goals and push themselves to achieve them. They sacrifice. They suffer. They cry. Sometimes they step on an IED, lose three limbs and consider suicide. But what sets them apart from everyone else is how they respond to challenges and to failure. Whether they encounter small or dire setbacks, they find a way to go forward. And they don’t stop going. When they reach their goals, they set new goals. Goals that aren’t easy to achieve. They choose the hard way. And it makes all the difference.

On each episode of Choose the Hard Way, I interview experts and people who have achieved awesome things. Some of them are famous. Some of them aren’t. They’re all remarkable in their own way. They’re people whose paths have taught me something valuable and worth knowing. And I think you’ll enjoy their stories, too.

If you like what you hear, please tell all your friends and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Play Store or wherever you listen.  If you have any feedback, questions or suggested guests, please email me at choosethehardway@gmail.com. Thanks for listening.