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Tate HackertJanuary 1, 20234 min read

ZayZoon Drink & Thinks: Ryan Janes

Drink and Thinks are a virtual event we have every Friday afternoon internally at ZayZoon. We like to bring on cool and inspiring guests for a fireside chat and hear about their wins, losses and learnings from their journey. This gives an opportunity for the team to step back from the day to day work, unwind and think differently with a new perspective. 

Ryan Janes is a mixed martial artist and former UFC fighter with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

Oh, and he’s a web-developer.

It didn’t come easy though. 


Ryan actually got into martial arts because he was overweight, had body issues, and faced anxiety when it came to “working out” with others. Even after fighting took on a major role in his life, he had to keep pressing forward with tenacity as not one but two “UFC debut” fights got canceled at the last minute. The thought of working so hard towards something and the loss of opportunity in front of you, not once, but twice really exemplifies Ryan’s hard work, hustle, dedication, and mastery.

In this episode of Drink and Think, Ryan touches on his dedication to his fighting career, encompassing aspects like rigorous training, disciplined dieting and the significant time commitment it required.

I didn't think I could start a sport at 25, considering that I played no sports before. And so I went home, thought about it. Literally the next day I came in and I went, yes, yes I will.” - Ryan Janes

Enjoying the process

Following a decade of training, Ryan secured a spot in the UFC for his debut fight. Though after months of intense training, strict diet and weight cutting during his training camp, Ryan encountered the unfortunate circumstance of having not just one, but two fights canceled at the last minute. 

How do you deal with losing out on such a big opportunity -- not just once, but twice? And how do you stay motivated in spite of it?

“You just had to deal with it. I mean, there's nothing or anything to do really. I got paid like half that purse when It got canceled. I mean, I was really disappointed that I didn't fight in Vancouver 'cause, I'm from Victoria, BC.

Though, I was lucky 'cause I enjoyed the process. I like training and dieting. I didn't love dieting, but I really liked training hard and the dieting kind of came with that more than the fighting itself. So I really enjoyed that process.”

When faced with missed opportunities, setbacks, or unfavourable outcomes, Ryan exemplifies remarkable strength through his ability to embrace acceptance and maintain a positive outlook.

Wholehearted effort and a focused mindset

Ryan's story portrays unwavering commitment, dedication, and persistence in the face of challenges. He acknowledges immutable outcomes, embraces them, and maintains momentum without dwelling on losses, thanks to his focused mindset and wholehearted effort.

1. Small steps and discipline

Striving for a goal or getting ready for a competition requires strong determination and discipline to stick to your daily routine and stay focused. Breaking down your goal, focusing on weekly priorities, and accomplishing smaller tasks related to the main objective helps staying disciplined with the small wins.

2. Acceptance

Ryan's acceptance was eye opening. With his dedication of training for four hours a day, six days a week, and essentially centering his life around the sport, he understood that regardless of the outcome, he would embrace it. He carried the assurance that he had exerted his utmost effort, win or lose.

I approach it like a math test. Like I worked really hard. I practice, I practice, I practice. I listened to the people who are trying to teach me, and honestly, you go in there, win or lose. You did what you could and, there's things you can't foresee and that's it.”

Learning to accept specific outcomes is crucial. If you've exerted yourself, stayed focused, and put in the effort despite distractions and the result isn't favorable, the real lesson lies in accepting it and continuing to move forward. 

3. Following your gut feelings

“There's a moment I saw it, when I stepped forward and he stepped back where I broke him. I knew I had it, like I knew it. My coach, Adam, was like, you should trust yourself in that moment. You should have just done it. I'm outside. You gotta trust what you know and how you approach it.

So if you see something that I don't see, you gotta do it. And that was late in my career to  find that out. So it's just this weird combination of building your skills, trusting the people around you and not being afraid to kind of put yourself in uncomfortable positions and then just in the moment, do what you do and also trust.”

There are moments where trusting your intuition is essential. Despite following what seems to be the optimal path or the primary plan, there are instances where following your gut feeling and when to seize the opportunity and take calculated risks is crucial.

I was excited for the opportunity of sharing Ryan’s story as I knew it would resonate strongly with our team. Everyone was so engaged and interactive throughout the entire conversation. Ryan's perspective and approach to his fighting career is inspiring, with his embodiment of qualities like hustle, dedication, wholehearted effort, and a willingness to learn and accept. It was truly a pleasure having him join on an episode of Drink and Think.


Tate Hackert

Tate is the brain behind ZayZoon, developing the idea of providing access to funds before payday, in 2013. He feels gratified knowing “we get to improve the financial health of people each and every day.” One of his favourite ZayZoon experiences involves a business trip to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania where he helped film a Holiday Inn Express testimonial video. Wearing a ZayZoon shirt at the local Walmart, someone saw Tate and exclaimed, “Hey, ZayZoon! I use that!"