Toronto entrepreneur : How he changed his daily 1000 calorie deficit – VitalHouse

Conversation with entrepreneur Josh Schachnow: How he changed his daily 1000 calorie deficit

Josh Schachnow shares his wisdom on how he managed to improve his calorie intake, graduate law school and start up 2 companies in under 2 years.

You finished law school back in 2016 and then you worked for 10 months as an intern there. You then started or co-founded a marketing firm called Mirkwood Marketing where you did sales copy, lead pages, and website design. Then you started doing your own immigration services and then you've recently partnered with Zaki to start Pursuit. So, a lot of really cool stuff to do in the last two years or so. 
Yeah, it's been a hectic year or so. I finished articling at a law firm and wasn't sure what I wanted to do right out of that. So, a buddy of mine had some time off over the summer. We decided to try some marketing and sales printing stuff, gave that a try, had some fun. He was going back to school and I got an opportunity to get into immigration law with a with a family friend of mine who was much older and more experienced. So, we started doing corporate immigration law, helping tech companies that needed to bring tech workers into Canada because it's very competitive to find tech talent these days. After a few months of that, which is still operating, I was put in touch with two co-founders who wanted to do global recruitment, so helping companies find and hire the tech employees and then offer the legal services as an all in one package. It's definitely been a crazy year.


What's your official role at Pursuit?
My role on paper is VP of Business Development, but with any startup, you end up wearing a lot of hats. I’m helping with sales, trying to find new companies to onboard them with our services, Canadian tech companies that are growing and looking to hire software developers. Because we haven't automated the whole process yet it’s all managed manually. When people apply to our website, we are pushing them through the stages of our vetting process manually; sending them coding tests, evaluating their profile and scheduling interviews with them. Some of it is slowly being automated out but it's all being done manually. We're in the midst of fundraising so it's kind of a team effort there. Whatever needs to be done gets split up among the team and you just kind of figure it out. 


When did you start Pursuit?

We started talking about it in December and it officially started operation early January. So still very, very new.

So it’s been live for two months, and from the sounds of it you're already having customers come through your site.

Yeah, it's been pretty cool. In just over two months, we've had over a hundred candidates apply and be vetted. We've had 11 of them now make it through the vetting process successfully. We have a big handful of Canadian companies that are on board using our services and we have successfully vetted multiple candidates who are now in their second or third rounds of interviewing with Canadian companies. We think we're about two weeks away, fingers crossed, from our first hire being made which would be really great for us. And then, I would also be handling the legal work as well. 

If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?

Just turned 27 in January. 

Wow, you're younger than me. That makes me feel super old then. So, you've already started two and a half companies, finished your law degree and now you're doing this. What happened to normality? Why didn't you take the normal route?

That's a great question. I don't have a wife and I don't have kids. I figured that when you don't have a wife or kids, it's the best time to give things a try. To do something that's a little more out in left field. I articled for 10 months with a law firm and I learned a lot, but working in a law firm office just wasn't for me. We're growing up in such an interesting time where basically the sky's the limit. There are so many great people doing great things and you just have to figure out what you could or may be interested in and put yourself out there. Talk to people, network and try to create some luck for yourself. A stream of lucky things happened that got me to co-found this company and having the current success that we’ve had. But if you don't put yourself in those situations to give you those chances to get lucky, they're never going to happen. When you're young, when you don't have a mortgage, when you don't have kids to take care of, that's when you should be taking the chances and not leaving them until you're older and regret not having done it sooner.

I couldn't agree with you more, except for the wife part. Although, she's more of an asset in my mind than a liability.

Hey, if you find an awesome life partner, then by all means. I'm definitely looking for one.

I’m really impressed with what you've done so far and where you're going. When we first met you were talking to me about how you're always a little tired and lethargic. You’re a pretty big guy, about 6’6” right?

I'm about 6'3 and a half.

“If you're not operating at your best physically then you're not going to operate the best in other areas as well.”

I remember you telling me that it was hard for you to eat enough, tell me more about that and about your health and nutrition.

I never ate poorly and I was always in fairly good shape, but I’ve never been at an ideal weight. About five years ago, that changed. I started exercising even more than I was. I'm eating better, having shakes, trying to up my veggie intake, fruit intake, cut down on red meat, stuff like that. I ended up cutting out dairy as well, in that process of trying to eat healthier. Because of all this, it became a little bit harder to eat enough calories because I'm an above average sized guy and I exercise in what is probably an above average type frequency and intensity. So, I need to eat an above average amount of calories. I love eating, but when you’re busy with lifemeal planning and eating in a healthy way is very difficult, I wasn't eating enough. I went to see a nutritionist twice over the course of the diet, and she told me, "Yeah, you're not eating enough. You need to eat more calories, you need more protein. You've got to eat more." I tried for a little bit and then you get busy with this and that and I wasn't eating enough again. That’s when I met you October and we had that chat about my nutrition. I was feeling good about what I was eating, but I wasn't feeling good in the sense that I had enough gas in the tank all times. Then we had a couple of really good talks and that was the tipping point of deciding, OK, I'm not giving myself enough. Not just physically but mentally and in business too, because if you're not operating at your best physically then you're not going to operate the best in other areas as well.

I think when we did a TDEE calculation on you, it came to like 3200 calories maintenance didn’t it?

Yes, it was saying in the low 3000's.

We did the math on your current diet and you were in the low 2000 calories each day.

Yeah, I think I was at a one thousand-calorie deficit each day.

That's what most pro bodybuilders do to get stage ready. That's aggressive. So, you started eating more and I gave you some of the shakes as well. How did that go? 

I ordered the big bag, the 10-meal supply bag and I started drinking those and I just started upping my calorie intake. Thankfully because the shakes are about 400 or 500 calories a pop, I only had to eat for the 500 calories more a day. I was just making each meal a little larger and I immediately started putting on a couple of pounds, which I think I needed, and I felt a lot better. I definitely had more energy. Typically, I would wake up in the morning and even after I got my eight hours of sleep and I would feel like I could sleep for another three to four, no problem. Whereas when I upped my calorie count, I was up and I was ready to go. I wasn't getting the kind of lulls in the middle of the day like I used to get.

How did you find the shakes in general?

I found the shakes really good. In the past, I found that meal replacement shakes never filled me up. I can eat all morning and not feel full, but especially if it's a liquid, then I almost wouldn't even count the calories because it had no effect on my hunger whatsoever. The difference with the Athlete Shake from a lot of the other powdered and meal replacement ones that I had is that it actually did feel more like a meal in my stomach. So, it wasn't just the energy, it was actually feeling full, which to me is big. Whatever you're putting in there, it's working in that regard. 

“Typically, what I do is throw one in my bag and keep it with me in case I need it in the afternoon…it was a great solution because I knew all I needed to do was to find a sink and I had a 400-calorie meal in a minute.”

You had some of the bottles too. Did you bring them on your trip with you? How did you use the bottles?

I had 12 of the bottles and I’ve used about eight of them so far. Typically, what I do is throw one in my bag and keep it with me in case I need it in the afternoon. Things tend to get hectic for me after lunch and if I forget to snack or I’m working late it was a great solution because I knew all I needed to do was to find a sink and I had a 400-calorie meal in a minute. That’s where I was using it a lot before my trip and then I brought two or three of them with me to San Francisco and I was using it much the same way. Especially, because I can save on spending American dollars.

“Don't be home by 5:00 pm every day and shut yourself off to the world…Meet people. Listen to what they have to say and find those connections that can help you reach your goals.”

To wrap up, is there anything you can recommend for other guys our age or younger who want to do what you're doing? 
I would just say to make the most out of your younger years. It's very easy to fall into something comfortable but that might not be what you want in the long run. Keep your finger on the pulse of what you think would really keep you going day to day and just start slowly taking steps towards it, even if it's just attending networking events towards a topic you like. Try to start a side hustle doing something you think might be interesting. Talk to people. When I started at any of these things I always started with networking. Just set up phone calls, invite people to go for coffee and you never know what can happen. I would just sum it up by saying put yourself out there. Don't be home by 5:00 pm every day and shut yourself off to the world. If you're young, if you're our age, put yourself out there and meet people. Listen to what they have to say and find those connections that can help you reach your goals.