Founder & CEO of Peloton Talks Heart, Hunger & Health image of man on Peloton
Health, Business
July 30, 2021

Founder & CEO of Peloton Talks Heart, Hunger & Health

John Foley at Business Mastery

Did you know that more than 1 million people train on a Peloton every day? How was this phenomenon created and maintained? What does it take to become that successful?

Tony had the pleasure of speaking with John Foley, cofounder and CEO of Peloton, at a Business Mastery event. With 3.6 million raving fan customers, Foley has created an online community that both supports and challenges people to live better lives through convenient fitness in your home. His dedication to principles like “stay hungry and humble” and “don’t use hope as a method” are part of the secret to his success.

Peloton has faced more than 400 rejections from potential investors but Foley’s principles for building a successful business led him to persevere. In this podcast, he shares his top tips with Tony and takes questions from a live audience.

“We have a saying: Don’t use hope as a method…Plan for success because it becomes self-fulfilling.” – John Foley

Watch or listen to the full conversation below to learn:

  • John’s three pieces of advice for every entrepreneur
  • Why perfect is the enemy of good
  • Who inspires him and why
  • How company culture helps you hire the best people
  • Why spaces matter, even in a remote work world
Proximity is power

As Tony likes to say, “Proximity is power – opportunity can rub off on you.” To find success, you must surround yourself with success. You must embrace alternative ways of viewing the world and learn from them. Foley would agree. Once he did, he left his cushy job as a shift manager at a manufacturing plant to follow his dreams.

Surrounding yourself with success matters for hiring, too. Every entrepreneur needs optimistic, inspiring people around them who believe deeply in the company vision and keep you going when the going gets tough. Peloton had conviction from cofounders and early customers but investors did not see it in the early years.

Plan for success, not for failure

Despite the lack of interest from investors, Foley always planned for success. He was expecting to grow. He’d been investing in the supply chain and had a watertight plan to go from 2 million to 200 million. He saw success in his future, and he made a plan to achieve it. That’s an unstoppable belief in yourself.

This helps to explain how Foley has led Peloton to geometric growth. After more than 400 rejections from potential investors, it is now valued at over $32B!

Stay hungry

Foley says, “Never feel content – stay hungry.” Hunger destroys fear of failure. It means finding your passion, fulfilling your deepest desires. It’s a force that pulls you toward a goal, rather than needing to push you. It gets you out of bed in the morning with vitality and energy and drive. It’s an inner desire to be the best, do the best and have the best in life, no matter what.

Hunger and humility are two of the most important things that Foley wants in Peloton employees. He says, “There are a lot of smart people but not a lot of people with hunger.” You need that hunger, and you need your employees to have it as well.


[01:03] Intro of John Foley, CEO and co-founder of Peloton
[03:32] Foley background, including working at a Skittles Factory
[05:25] Hunger and humility most important to success
[06:44] Foley’s mentor
[08:01] Digital media disruption
[09:52] 400 no’s before a single yes
[11:06] Funding Peloton
[11:39] Surround yourself with people who see the vision
[13:22] Consistency and perseverance created traction
[14:41] Goal of growing business 100% and making your life better
[17:55] Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good and minimum viable product
[19:23] Communal motivation in group fitness to make it fun
[21:15] How willing are your customers to recommend your business? – Peloton is in low 90’s on 1-100 scale
[23:12] Foley’s competitive nature
[25:23] The instructor, the human factor, matters. Scaling via digital media
[28:22] Don’t use hope as a method
[28:47] Don’t plan for failure, plan for success because it becomes self-fulfilling
[30:13] Partnership with Beyonce
[33:59] 8,000 employees globally
[34:06]Marc Benioff is an inspiration. Champion of social change and team culture
[34:57] Internal culture permeates into the brand
[36:32] Audience question from Karina: How have your margins increased with COVID?
[37:24] COVID was tailwind for Peloton
[38:23] Had to spend $100M to satisfy the demand but margin structure has increased
[40:14] Audience question from Michelle: How did you build a team with great people AND establish a culture?
[42:30] Audience question from Brett: What did it feel like to see something you created finally succeed?
[43:15] We are not doing a victory dance. Hungry and humble with fire in our belly to get to our goals
[44:45] Audience question from Ann: What was your journey as you began putting Peloton together as a company?
[45:33] Bought parts of our business. Decided needed to be good at software, hardware and content. Focus on what will make your business special
[47:12] Find partners that share your work ethic, that you like being around
[48:32] Sign off

It is Foley’s continued focus on aspirational goals combined with his ability to inspire his employees to act like owners in solving problems and staying hungry that ensures Peloton will continue to accelerate and thrive as a business. Listen to the podcast to see how you can create raving fan employees who will take your business to the next level.

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