Fabio Spinella of My Own Defender: Providing Self Protection Training for Everyday People

This is part of our series highlighting businesses that have been operating for two years or less. In this article Fabio Spinella shares his experiences and insights since opening My Own Defender.

How did your business get started? Tell us your story.

I have been around firearms since I was a teenager. My father was an army officer in the Italian army where I was born. I remember how awesome it was to see the soldiers training to be better defenders. Later in life I started to go shooting pistols and rifles with friends as a hobby. Over the last decade my desire to become a better, more diligent, defender was multiplied by getting married and being blessed with 2 daughters. I feel responsible to have more tools in my toolbox to be able to defend myself so I can go home to them every day, AND I feel responsible for their safety and I want to be more prepared to defend all of us should there ever be a need.

I have been taking firearms classes and open hand self defense (Krav Maga) classes on the regular. I’m learning and increasing the tools I have in my defender toolbox.

As I attained and continue to attain new levels of mastery and even formal certifications I felt the need to help equip other “mama bears” and “papa bears” with tools to defend themselves and their loved ones.

Self defense requires MODifications to your mindset, awareness, discipline, and personal health. This is why I started MOD (My Own Defender).

Who do you serve and why?

Anyone that feels the need to develop their self defense skills. From simple close contact combatives, to open hand attacker disarming/disabling, and more advanced pistol handling and marksmanship, MOD is dedicated to equip people to grow in confidence with their ability to become a better defender.

What makes My Own Defender different?

This isn’t your tactical, commando training company. There are plenty of places to go to get your “special forces” training. MOD is dedicated to every day people who are looking for tools to better defend themselves.

What obstacles did you have to overcome in order to start your business?

Unless people know you personally, they’re looking for credentials next to your name to trust you enough to work with you. I have been going through tens of hours of training toward certifications in the firearms space. People are more and more trusting if you have accumulated credentials from Nationally accredited companies such as NRA, USCCA and Front Sight.

What has been the most rewarding experience for you since starting your business?

The look on students’ faces when they get it. This happens every class and every private lesson. Taking the student from that place of doubt/fear to that place of confidence and growth. They can see their ability to execute skills and feel empowered.

What has been the biggest mistake/lesson you’ve learned?

I’m not the right teacher for every client. I used to want to take on any client that sent an inquiry. I’ve learned that I’m better off qualifying students by asking them questions before we work together. If their outcomes align with MOD, then it’s a great fit. Otherwise, it’s better to direct students in a different direction.

How do you keep things fun and interesting for yourself?

I’m constantly taking classes to come up with new drills and exercises. The best teachers never stop learning and working on their craft. I like to keep it fresh!

Who do you admire and how has that person helped you to reach your current level of success?

Russ Ruffino, he is a business/mindset genius. He’s been a great inspiration. He only chooses to work with the right clients, he constantly works on his mindset, and he surrounds himself with people that push him to be better.

I have embraced those concepts and strive to do the same.

What is your primary business focus for the next 12 months?

Consistently have 12-20 students in each monthly class.

Philipp Lomboy

Philipp Lomboy is a Los Angeles-based writer covering business, leadership, and innovation. He is also a podcast host and author of the bestselling books "The 5-Star Formula" and "Bodybuilders in Tutus and 35 Other Obscure Business-Boosting Observations". His work has been seen on BusinessWeek.com, USAToday.com, and CNN.com.