Phil Black is an athlete, Navy SEAL officer, investment banker, bootstrap entrepreneur, performance coach, and firefighter. He is the founder of PrepWell Academy, a professional training & coaching company that offers an innovative approach to preparing high school students and their parents for the rigors of the college admissions process.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood on Long Island, NY. I prioritized academics and athletics and ended up going to Yale to play basketball. My life changed when I visited the Navy SEAL base in San Diego on one of our college basketball trips.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

How important relationships are over the course of your life. 

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Getting into a prestigious college guarantees a life of wealth and happiness. 

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

After taking on a business partner who was a bad actor, I had to pay a hefty ransom to buy him out of the business. It was a low point in my professional life. I overcame it by using the negative energy to build the business back and better than ever (without him). I learned to be more cautious about who to join forces with.  

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I combine two potent forces of vision + discipline. I call it “viscipline”. I have an ability to see the future (vision) as well as map out a plan to get there (discipline). Early preparation is also one of my core principles. 

What is your morning routine?

Every morning, I make sure that I challenge myself with 3 distinct “discomfort” rituals. They are small, but keep me honest ((1) breath-holding/meditation, (2) assault bike workout, (3) cold shower). I wake up at 0500, downstairs to my home gym, breath-hold exercise (working toward a 5-min breath-hold), 16 minutes on assault bike, stretch/mobility routine, strength training, cold shower, dress for the day. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

1-gallon of water per day, never go more than 1 day without exercise, drink only water, no alcohol or drugs, 7 hours sleep. 

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

Getting up early, standing desk, to-do list, doing the hard stuff first, wall calendar. 

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I read mostly personal development books. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins was the first book that excited me about what is possible in our lives.  

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“Seldom do you exceed your expectations”. “If you want to change your life, change your story”.