From Barefoot to Business: How One Sprinter Built a Shoe Empire

On the Legacy Podcast this week, host Paul interviews Steven Sashen, the founder of Xero Shoes, to discuss the benefits of minimalist footwear. Steven’s personal journey into minimalist running after a 30-year break and his subsequent creation of Xero Shoes provide valuable insights into the advantages of transitioning to minimalist footwear. The conversation emphasizes the importance of healthier foot function, improved biomechanics, and injury prevention. Steven also sheds light on the misconceptions propagated by big shoe companies, advocating for informed choices in footwear. For runners and athletes looking for healthier footwear options, this episode offers a compelling exploration of minimalist footwear and its potential impact on foot health and overall well-being.


Topics covered in this Episode:

  • Discover the benefits of minimalist footwear and how it can improve your foot health.
  • Uncover the misconceptions about traditional shoe companies and their impact on foot health.
  • Learn how to transition to minimalist footwear for a more natural and healthier running experience.

Connect with Steven here:     


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About Steven: 

As Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Steven Sashen is the visionary and marketer of Xero Shoes. A natural entrepreneur, Steven and his wife, Lena Phoenix, launched Xero Shoes in 2009. They bootstrapped the business from home, and since then, Xero Shoes has grown to a multi-million dollar company with more than 50 shoes, boots and sandals. The co-founders appeared on Shark Tank in 2013 and turned down a $400K investment, and Xero Shoes has been listed on the Inc. 5000 for six consecutive years. Prior to jumping into the footwear business, Steven was an internationally-known Internet marketing expert, Search Engine and Social Media marketing consultant, and software designer. He is the creator of Scriptware, the industry-standard word processor for film and TV writers. He also co-hosted the Emmy award winning, internationally syndicated TV show, Disk Doctors.

Timestamped summary of this episode:
00:00:00 – Introduction to the podcast
The host, Paul Dio, introduces the guest Steven Sashen and Xero shoes.

00:01:00 – Steven’s journey to founding xero shoes
Steven shares his journey of getting back into sprinting, constantly getting injured, and finding a solution through barefoot running. This led him to start xero shoes.

00:04:10 – Transitioning to xero shoes
Steven explains the biggest adjustment for someone transitioning from thick, padded shoes to xero shoes, emphasizing the wider foot-shaped toe box and the impact on posture and form.

00:07:27 – Progression to making the switch
Steven discusses the importance of a gradual progression when transitioning to xero shoes, likening it to going back to the gym and listening to your body’s feedback during the adjustment process.

00:09:02 – Most fulfilling aspect of xero shoes
Steven highlights the gratification of receiving daily feedback from customers whose lives have been changed by xero shoes, citing numerous stories of improved mobility and quality of life.

00:11:29 – Overcoming Heckling and Legacy
Steven shares how heckling as a comedian has prepared him for tough business conversations. He also discusses his views on legacy and how he aims to make a positive impact without seeking recognition.

00:13:34 – Leaving a Lasting Business Legacy
Steven emphasizes that his business, Xero Shoes, is bigger and more important than himself. He aims to bring sanity back into the footwear industry and educate customers about misleading information from big shoe companies.

00:14:34 – Misconceptions About Big Shoe Companies
Steven exposes the misleading marketing tactics of big shoe companies. He highlights an example from Nike, revealing the misinformation about injury reduction in their running shoes and the false promises of improved performance.

00:16:01 – The Problem with Super Shoes
Steven discusses the detrimental effects of super shoes on non-elite athletes, citing the instability and gait alteration caused by these shoes. He also debunks the claims of improved speed and performance associated with super shoes.

00:18:29 – Finding the Right Shoes with Xero Shoes
Steven explains the key features of Xero Shoes, such as wide toe box, low heel, flexibility, and thin soles. He also mentions the 5000-mile sole warranty and recommends using the shoe finder quiz on their website.

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