Leaders’ Euglogy: Remembering Paul Mihalescu

Leaders’ Euglogy: Remembering Paul Mihalescu

By: Claudio Espinoza

I e-met Paul Gabriel Mihalescu back in 2010. We were both active members of John Romaniello’s Facebook fanpage.

Back in those days, we were both two former fatties who’d been seriously bitten by the fitness bug. Two years later, Paul would pour his passion, time, and energies into building his baby: Leader’s Fitness.

Over the next two years, Paul would grow Leader’s Fitness on the strength of his fitness blogs, found at paulmihalescu.com, and his brash personality which was always on display on his Facebook fanpage.

In 2013, I met Paul IRL at a book release party in New York City, and we kept in contact ever since.


Paul and me (on the right).

I mentioned to him that I wanted to get started with fitness coaching, having been inspired by Paul’s transition from trainee to trainer. He was very helpful, encouraging me and helping me along whenever he could.

He would come back to New York City later in that same year, and we hung out, broke bread, and discussed business and our ambitions.

A few months later, he took me on as an intern for Leaders’ Fitness. He was on the verge of launching a group coaching program, and I was going to help him run it, along with Andrew Edwards (pictured on the left) and a few other coaches.

And just as the group was about to get started, the unthinkable happened.

On the morning of February 3rd, 2014, I woke up with the news on my Facebook feed that Paul passed away. Much like many of you, I assumed he was trolling us. There was no way that someone so young and full of life, someone who had touched so many lives and had a positive influence on the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of people he’d never met would be gone so suddenly.

It would soon become clear that this was no troll.

Paul died of cardiac arrest at the age of 23.

As far as I knew, he had a pretty nasty infection on a cut on his hand which required a hospital visit the week before and left him out of commission for the following few days. By the following weekend, he seemed like himself again, but obviously something wasn’t right.

Moving On

Over the next few days, the private Facebook group for Paul’s online coaching clients bonded over our loss. We also helped the remaining clients finish their coaching program, while trying to keep Paul’s vision alive.

We soon realized that no one would care for a baby better than its parent. Which is to say that Leader’s Fitness wasn’t our vision. We eventually took what we learned from our time together and went on our own separate ways, in and out of fitness.

Paul believed that taking control of one’s appearance was transformative and that it could lead to taking control of other aspects of one’s life. And that those who achieved this would go on to become leaders, helping others do the same.

Paul played a role in inspiring me to believe that I could help people with their fitness journeys the same way he had. From this, [CTRL-ALT-FIT] was born. It took about two years, but I’m ready to fulfill the potential that Paul saw in me.

And we’re ready to help you fulfill the potential that Paul saw in you.

Today, I wanted to share with you three things I learned from Paul.

Three Things I Learned From Paul

1 – Be Bold: As I’m sure you saw in his writing and interactions on social media, Paul took action boldly; he fully committed to anything that he did, be it fitness, business, or his relationships. As I’ve embarked on my own fitness journey and with my own fitness business, I try to make sure that I’m acting with boldness.

The author Robert Greene, in his best-selling book The 48 Laws of Power said “if you enter an action with less than total confidence, you set up obstacles in your own path.” Not time, not money, not your parents, not a president, not your friends, not your girlfriends. You. Taking that level of responsibility in your own life is scary, but it’s also liberating because you’re free to become the architect of your life.

In fact, timidity–the opposite of boldness–doesn’t come from a place of not hurting or offending people. It actually comes from a place of being self-absorbed, worrying about how others perceive us. Once you start operating with boldness, you’re free to help people to your fullest capacity; to be the leader you’re meant to be.

2 – Have Fun: Paul knew how to have a good time. Even though he worked hard, in and out of the gym, he always knew how to disconnect and live in the real world. Getting things done is important, but if you’re always working you’re going to burn out. If you’re always working, your relationships might suffer. It might seem badass to say that those sacrifices are worth it in the long run and that people will understand, but if losing Paul teaches you anything, it’s that no one lives forever.

Be present and mindful, not just for the people in your life, but also for yourself. You won’t remember all those extra hours you spent in the gym or in the office on your deathbed. What you will remember are all the great memories you created with the people you love.

3 – Leave Your Mark: You’re going to die one day. It doesn’t matter how old you are right now, your time will come. Being keenly aware of that fact should make you think about your legacy.

Now that Paul’s gone, what’s his legacy? Is it his 500lb squat? Is it his abs? Is it his six-figure business?


Paul’s legacy is us. Your legacy is the people you touch. Next time you see a n00b in the gym doing something right, let ’em know. If they’re doing something wrong, ask them if they’d want some advice. Think of your life as a rock that gets tossed into a lake. Your legacy is the ripples that appear long after that rock has sunk. Those ripples are the lives of the people you touched. And the lives touched by those people, and so on.

This is what makes a leader, and this was what Paul was all about.

In the meantime, if you have any memories of Paul or if he touched you in some way please reply to this email. I love hearing stories about Paul from his friends, colleagues, and fans.

-Claudio Espinoza

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Claudio Espinoza
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Claudio Espinoza

Claudio Espinoza is a lover of all things 90’s, especially 90's hip-hop. When not working at his corporate job, he picks things up and puts them down, goes for long romantic walks with his French bulldog, and helps kids who can’t read good and want to do other stuff good, too.
Claudio Espinoza
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