Episode 336

Betting on Yourself – Leaving Your Job to Open a Gym

In this episode, we talk about betting on yourself and leaving your job to open a gym.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend today’s episode is very exciting because I’m not in it. Pete is taking over the podcast today and he is interviewing a friend, Zach Gould. Zach is the co founder of G and N insurance. And in this episode, they have a fantastic conversation about that moment where Zach chose to leave his work and dive into opening a business.

And for those of you who on this call, who currently own a gym, you know what that leap of faith is like, or you decide you’re going to open up a gym for the first time. And leave maybe the security of a previous job. And for those of you on the podcast, we’re thinking about maybe opening up a gym someday.

This is also a great episode for you. Pete and Zach talk about lessons learned in hindsight from taking that entrepreneurial leap. It’s a fantastic episode. I think many of you will relate to, so keep on listening and enjoy this episode.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, [00:01:00] where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym, get ready to unlock your potential.

And become a real unicorn in the fitness industry. Let’s begin.

All right, Zach Gold. Welcome to this unique episode of the Business Unicorns podcast. And it’s unique in the sense that, well, it’s, it’s unique in two ways. One, I don’t traditionally host this. I’m Pete Dupuy, not Michael Keeler. I typically sit in the, I’d say more co host than guest role, but I’m rarely driving the ship.

Today, I get to do that, bring you into chat. And the second way that this is unique. It’s sad, but it’s now unique to do face to face podcast interviews. And we are sitting in my own office, both staring at the same microphone and here to have a conversation, which is [00:02:00] honestly my favorite kind of podcast, but it’s hard to pull off in the most, well, we’ll say three, four, five years.

And I’m excited to have you here in this format so we can share a cup of coffee. So welcome. Honored to be here. Thank you. As I said to you off microphone here, We typically try and make these quick hitter, 20 minute to 30 minute podcasts. We may end up there. We may not, we’ll see where this conversation takes us, but my intention for reaching out in the past week, see if you want to chat, was that I was seeing an alignment between.

And the way that gyms in this private sector that I live in, get up and running with your personal experience in a completely different industry. And to give some context, actually, I want you to, can you give the, if it’s even possible, let’s say the 92nd to two minute description of your entrepreneurial journey in this context?

Yes. Okay. So I worked for a fortune 100 company. in the insurance space, which was Liberty [00:03:00] Mutual. Maybe that’s comparable to like Planet Fitness in your world, where it’s a, it’s a discount insurance market that is a direct to consumer. I think like Planet Fitness, and I’m not trying to be an expert in your field, but I just think Planet Fitness is an expert job marketing.

I think I very much know what they sell. I know why they’re in business. And I would say Liberty Mutual does the same thing. I know exactly what they sell. I know they’re going for savings, et cetera. So I was a sales rep at Liberty Mutual outside. So I would have to go get leads, but I had the benefit of Liberty Mutual behind me.

Like if I handed a business card, it’s a very knowledgeable brand. I was the top sales rep in the country. Life was very good. I was 23, 24, making a lot more money than I ever thought I would make. But I was, the more success I had, the more they were shipping me off to go train other people to make their own success.

So I was on the road constantly, [00:04:00] but then I wasn’t making as much money. Because I wasn’t being able to hit my goals. My goals just got bigger. It was just a, it was a weird relationship. I never, I didn’t not like my boss. I actually did not like what I was doing. I just, the more success I had, the less time I actually had to do the thing that made me successful and that frustrated me and I decided that.

I actually didn’t need Liberty Mutual to go do what I wanted to do. I just needed to go do what I wanted to do. So the only risk I really think I took was I didn’t have a brand anymore, but I was 25, 26. So I went off on my own, did the same thing. And my first marketing message. was now I’m offering Massachusetts residents choice.

You don’t have to just ensure with Liberty Mutual. You can share with any company that I have the awful marketing message, but here we are today. It still worked. Okay. So before I lose the thought, and this was not in my intent or my original [00:05:00] outline, but you, you mentioned Something that I think often gets qualified as the Peter principle, where it’s like, you’re so good at what you do, you get kicked up, up, up, interesting, different responsibilities, you get to a point of typically management in a sales role.

And then you kind of hit the top of your potential and you go one step further, and then you’re just shitty at where you get placed and you live there. Now, I’m not saying you were shitty at teaching, training or managing people. My understanding is you’re actually very good at that. But my question is, Having got there, realized it wasn’t what you were into as it relates to Liberty Mutual and jumping.

How do you reconcile the fact that you basically jumped into a role where your whole entire job was to teach people to do this if you wanted this to scale? So ask me that in a different way. I think I’m, I got lost in the question. So like when I was at Liberty Mutual, I got, I came more of a training kind of role.

That’s what you’re saying, correct? Well, this is an example of me not preparing for that. But you caught me by surprise by saying that because [00:06:00] I didn’t, I didn’t know that piece of the story that you were jumping into like an educational role for your peers. Yeah, I was being so now you and I are 40 plus, okay?

Imagine if a 24 year old, 25 year old from the headquarters of Planet Fitness Meaning, I guess I was at Liberty Mutual in Boston. I was next to their home office. So the headquarters of Planet Fitness came in to teach you a 40, you know, whatever year old successful Planet Fitness rep trainer. You look at this 24, 25 year old and be like, what are you doing here?

Like, you know, I don’t, I don’t care about you. I don’t know you. You’re, you’re just this hotshot who’s got a year or two of success. I was, I was being forced into a role where the recipient didn’t want me to be there. I I didn’t want to be there. And so again, I don’t think Liberty Mutual is a bad company.

That’s so far from the truth. I, I think they lost me and other talented sales representatives by saying, you’re really talented at this. Go make other people talented as opposed to [00:07:00] like, I’m going to give you resources so you can just do your job. Yeah. Okay. So once you got to doing the job with GNN, your business title, I don’t believe we’ve said yet you and your business partner had initial success.

But the team had to grow. And so when the team started to grow, did you tap into that experience from all the travel you had with Liberty as far as teaching and becoming a young but informed thought leader in building the team? Or was that your business partner’s job? Or did you guys share that responsibility?

We shared that responsibility. And I don’t want to speak for Matt, I did it exceptionally poorly. When things went wrong, I stepped in and I was, I, I think in the beginning of my call at sales management, I basically looked at if the inside sales rep or the person underneath me is struggling, it’s my job to make it right.

And, uh, um, protect the consumer [00:08:00] experience when in reality, if I could go back and shake myself, I would say, protect the employee experience. You could lose a client or two. It’s not the end of the world. So I stepped in, we did the process, stepped out, and it didn’t work. Step back. And so it took like three or four times.

And this is over the course of about two years. And eventually the sales process got good enough where I realized I personally To put this in perspective with numbers, if there are 10 Pete, Pete Dupuis referred into the agency in a week, I think at my height of sales, I could probably close nine of them.

If you’re my target client, I think a successful inside sales rep team for me, I realized could probably close six to seven. And then I just needed to make 10 Pete Dupuis into 20 Pete Dupuis, and all of a sudden, we’re good, you know, we’re at, you know, 14 to 16 per week before I was at nine, we’re in a great spot.

So how do you get over that, that early? [00:09:00] Say we’re in our mid twenties mindset, or I should say the fear of handing off that responsibility, knowing that it’s going to cost you the two to three in the early stages, because every gym owner I know goes through this. I’m the best trainer in my gym. Therefore I should own my own gym.

Now I do. I’m going to hire new people. They do a shitty job in front of my eyes. I go with the screw it. I’m just going to do it myself and they don’t develop. We did that. Yep. I’m sure you did that for a while. Like you said, you’re closing 90 percent of your leads. Someone else is closing 60 to 70 and they qualify as good.

Yeah. Quote unquote. When did you have the emotional maturity and experience to realize, Hey, this is a long game. And if I keep stomping all over the toes of this junior team, we’re just going to. Stay exactly where we are, we are, and I’m always going to be the best salesperson, but I’m not going to make what I could make because it takes so long for us gym owners to figure that shit out and start doing the delegating that needs to happen if we’re going to scale.

It’s a really good question. And I don’t want to tee you [00:10:00] back up and like advertise yourself, but I got a coach. Okay. Like I, I had an outside coach. I call it an executive coach that taught me a lot of different things. Can you tell me when that happened in the The age of the business team. And when did you guys launch 2010?

Okay, good. So there was five years of stumbling. Yeah. Five years of like, we were what the outside would look at as a success, but inside, I don’t want to say there was tons of turnover, but there was way too much turnover that you could argue. We weren’t hiring correctly. Like we were hiring out of desperation, which is true, but I probably like Every other employee I lost, I probably didn’t want to lose.

Maybe the way to look at it. So I got a coach who taught me a lot of different things and there’s so much I could go into another time. But one of the bigger things that coach really hit me over the head with was kind of like, what are you reading? Part one, what do you, what are you reading about? And I found myself, I was always reading about like sales and stuff like that.

And he was just like, [00:11:00] well, that’s not where you’re going. So like you’re, you’re trying to be an expert. and what somebody else is doing. It’s not helping anybody. What you need to read is more John Maxwell. You need to read more Seth Godin. You need to read more like things that you want to become and that can teach you stuff you don’t already know.

You don’t want to, you don’t want to read a sales book and then give it to someone and say, you should read this too. Well, I’d go so far as to say, it’s not so much what you at this stage, it’s not so much what you want to become, but it’s what you need to become. Sure. That’s a good way to put it. And then the gym owner space.

This is the strength coach who is reading Mike Boyle’s functional strength training book for the fourth time, but don’t understand basic accounting. And they’ve started a gym and, and they need to be learning profit first, or they need to be reading the e myth or something like that. And it’s, it’s amazing.

The coach is the impetus for that or really, really good thought partners outside of your space. And it took me probably 15 years of my career to [00:12:00] find people like yourself who were in an adjacent field, but dealing with the same headaches. But it’s funny you brought up the book thing. Cause I think. If you and I were to go, it’s, it’s hard to, cause we live in the same town.

Our kids play in the same fields, but let’s say we went three months without talking in any capacity. I know the first question both of us would ask the other is what are you reading right now? Every single time. And sometimes it’s just plugging a book into your mailbox and being like, do it. And so I I’m just fascinated by this maturation process of entrepreneurs.

And that’s where I think this conversation is, is best serving the audience because we both have this benefit of hindsight. Yeah. And I don’t want to pretend that any of our mistakes are actually like mistakes in the grand scheme of our life. Cause here we are, we’re two people who just discussed before hitting record that we’re happy.

I mean, we’re podcasting on a Thursday morning. We’re not blowing our brains out trying to make a sale. Exactly. We’re, we’re drinking coffee and you just told me that you’ve concluded. That you don’t need [00:13:00] seven to nine or 10 day vacations. You think five days is your sweet spot now, which not much of America is saying.

So now with this, with this stage of our life and career behind us, I want to talk about the things that you some people say messed up, things that you would encourage people to do differently with the benefit of your experience. And specifically, I want to get into the communication piece early on as you decided to leave.

Did you leave Liberty Mutual the way you, in hindsight, would have if you got to do over today? Good question. I would have left a year earlier, part one. I think I was waiting, waiting for the right time to leave. And what is the right time? There’s no, but the golden handcuffs just get tighter. Okay. So ultimately that was a little bit of a silly mistake.

Not a huge one, but I could have left six to 12 months earlier and been perfectly fine. The last six to 12 months, I didn’t want to be there. My [00:14:00] manager and their managers knew I was like half assing the whole thing. Like it, in hindsight, I probably, I probably missed out on a couple more lifelong friendships because I kind of ruined the relationship inside with upper management.

That, that wasn’t wise. Not that I’m looking for friends with my previous managers, but we’re not as tight as we could have been, per se. Well, and there are lessons to be learned from them. Yeah. Because they teach you in a different way when you’re not under their employ anymore as well. If I told you, because when you just said that, there’s probably, let’s say, one, two, three, four or five people that you’re thinking of when you say that.

If I said you need to reactivate one or more of those relationships today, How would you approach it? Or would it even be doable? I wouldn’t want to. Okay. Yeah. Well, let’s say there was one you wanted to. Yeah. I know. I wanted to clarify that. I, I, I, I, those relationships don’t serve me, but that would have served me in the short term when it opened my business.

Because I think those people knew my work ethic so much that they, they might’ve reached out and been like, Hey, I [00:15:00] guess in the ideal, if you’re looking for the perfect relationship, I would want to. Leave my employer where they would be like, Hey, Zach, I just want to let you know, like, you’re really good at sales, but you do have a tough time managing people.

And if, when you go off on your own, here’s one tip for you. Like I would have maybe, I hope I would have been great to receive that, but that was true. I needed that advice early on. I didn’t get that advice early on. Well, can I have you pause there? Please. I love, love, love that point. But the only thing you and I can do at this point is model that behavior on our own.

Exactly. We have. And it’s so hard. It’s hard, but I know you have, we’ve talked about it. I know I have. In fact, on the way in here, I texted a former employee just to see how she was doing. I don’t have a job opportunity for that employee. There’s no, there’s no like strategy per se, or if I just drip on her long enough, maybe she’ll come back.

I don’t have a job opportunity for her, but I actually just truly care about her. And I, I, And I think that there, I wish I created [00:16:00] those kind of relationships. I was leaving. So I would have ripped off the bandit earlier and I, there would have been still in pain, but there wouldn’t have been this long drawn out thing.

So if I could go back in time, that’s one thing I would do is I would say leave earlier. The second thing I would do. is I would spend zero time focusing on the name of the business. Interesting. Like zero time. I mean, How much time did you spend? Because ultimately you two settled on your initials. But that wasn’t, that wasn’t the name.

The name was Gould and Imoli Partners LLC. So, and again, there was so much unnecessary drama. And if Matt were right here, he’d be laughing and admitting because Matt was like, it should be Namoli, his last name in Gould and Partners. And I was like, no, it should be Gould and Partners in Namoli. And he was like, why?

I was like, I don’t know. It’s phonetically. It doesn’t really matter. Yeah. It’s alphabetical. Yeah. But like in, in actuality, like it didn’t matter to either of us. I know it didn’t matter to Matt, didn’t matter to me. Like, but, but regardless, we went with Gould and Namoli Partners, LLC, we [00:17:00] went and, and we, We presented in front of a group of people like six months in and they said to us after they’re like, you know, I thought you were lawyers.

We wouldn’t have had you in, you know, we didn’t know who you guys were. Like, why did you think we were lawyers? We’re like, what’s the last name? Last name? I’ll see. That’s a lawyer name. We’re like, oh, okay. So then it just became Gina. So like, it just, it was so silly spending, I’m shorting, shortening this.

We probably spent seven months in the name. And we came up with our last name, last name LLC, like that’s how silly this was. Whereas in actuality, still nobody chooses us because of our name. So here in the fitness space, the name thing is a common move. You’re sitting in Cressy Sports Performance. We could go back and forth on whether it’s a good or bad idea.

In fitness, I would, I’d go hard and say, if we could go back in time, we would have changed the name and gone with something a little more generic because of the Key man risk associated with putting one person’s name on the business. Just true. Do you feel that in your [00:18:00] realm of the corporate world? Was that a problem for you?

Did you guys get calls where someone said, I only want to talk to Gould? I only want to talk to Namoli. Yeah, yeah, I think so. I looking back, I, I think there are good. We talked in the beginning about inside sales team. When we transition to an inside sales role or your trainers transition to managing per se, they’re going to want to be like, no, no, no.

I like. I used to turn with Pete. I really want to turn with Pete. Okay. You got it. You got to figure out how to deal with that. We figured out our own way to deal with that. And I want to hear it. Yeah. So I’ll give you, I’m going to give you somebody else’s way of dealing with it. Cause I think it was better than mine originally.

I think we can go to my mistake. That’s fine. But there is a loan officer named Sean Panosian. He is still the number one loan officer in the entire country. So to put this in perspective, he is out of Waltham and or Watertown area. He does On a good year, two billion in loans. That’s a lot of loans. Okay, that’s a ton.

So we can, we can go back behind that. Yes, he has a team. Okay. Shant, to this [00:19:00] day, still talks to every single new prospect on the phone. He has a five minute automatic. I have a five minute call with him. He doesn’t do the work. He has a good five minute phone call and they have systems on how he can transfer them.

There’s a lot of other things, but if there’s a trainer out there that’s going to open their own gym, if I could talk to Zach or Pete back in the day, I would say develop a process where you have the initial, uh, thank you. Like you were referred to me and I want to let you know like this matters to me, but I also want to let you know that the person who you’re going to be working with also matters to me.

And like, I’m creating jobs as to why you’re being transferred. And I’m going to be here. I’m checking in the whole time. And you’re going to hear from me again. I think Sean does that better than anybody in the world. And if you can do 2 billion in loans, you can do a couple dozen training programs. I I’m so pissed at myself for not even thinking about this.

We’re 18 years in almost. All it would have taken literal [00:20:00] thousands of times was to say, Hey, Eric, can you make a five minute call for me? Yeah, it’s called. Hey, Zach, I heard you reached out. You want Mason to come in and see me and I’m flattered. That’s amazing. I wanted to explain to you how this is going to go.

And I want to tell you, I’ve set him up to work with my colleague, John. He’s, he’s a much better skillset and fit personality wise, based on what I understand about you and his goals. And I want you to know that he’s going to have an amazing experience. No one’s going to say, screw you, you’re wrong. Yeah, no, no.

It’s because it’s, it’s Eric on the phone. It’s his business per se. It’s Pete on the phone. It’s his business, Zach on the phone. That’s the thing. It’s like, I referred it to you. You’re the expert. If you’re telling me that this is the best way to get expert done, cool. But if I just refer to Pete Dupuy, Jim and Pete Dupuy never even gets on the phone.

There’s just a little bit of like what the hell’s going on here. It’s easier to leave you actually. Yeah, the way I get over that hurdle is, is purely, it becomes acceptable because I’ve got two locations. Sure. [00:21:00] Yeah. And people, people at the very least understand that Eric Cressy can’t be in two places at once.

And it’s fairly common for them to say, I was referred to Eric. Does he work at that gym? Sure. And they can get over it when I say, Hey, I’m, you know, I’m Pete, I’m the owner whose name isn’t on the wall. And I have good news and bad news. Bad news is now you’re right. Eric’s in Florida, but the good news is I’ve actually got an exceptional team.

And, and there are times where I’d say in front of Eric, I’ve got a better coach for that. I mean, there are definitely people on your team who are better at selling insurance than you in the end. And the question is, can you acknowledge that and get peace with that and say that yourself in front of the team?

But to your people listening, I would say that that’s only applicable. If you think the thing you’re doing right now makes more money than training. I, so what I would get at is I truly thought, no, I now with the benefit of hindsight, which is such a great thing to record a podcast with is. I, the [00:22:00] amount of leads that we were bringing in.

Okay. Let me, let me, I’m doing a bad job introduction, introducing this, but we were bringing about 20 to 30 leads, maybe 40 leads in early on per week. Okay. So that’s, which would change an entire Jim’s trajectory. Sure. Lead, but we were doing great, Matt and I, and we were bringing in about 40 leads a week, 30 leads a week, and we were closing whatever 90 percent of that is.

Okay. When we got the inside sales team up and running and we did it, now we’re going to 2015. And again, by the way, inside sales team needs three people. I’m not talking about this huge team per se. Okay. We were generating 135 leads a week. So we weren’t in, in, Three to four years we 5x that the leads 3x that however you want to look at it.

So we were, we were doing such higher value activities out there, but to your point earlier, if you bring an inside sales team and you don’t 3 to 5x the leads, you’re going to get overly involved in the training [00:23:00] side of life. And you’re going to be a bad manager. You have to figure out how to increase the leads.

Yep. And this one’s a tough one for people in our field to relate to because the concept of having an inside sales team at a brick and mortar fitness facility like this is, isn’t super tangible. Sure. So, but there are multiple people on each team selling typically. I I’m kicking myself right now because I’m realizing I got us an extended period into this conversation without mentioning to the audience that.

That you ultimately sold this business for, for a gross figure that’s in excess of all of the dollars my business has collected in 17 plus years. So good on you. And, and that, I think that speaks to some social proof and give some context. If you’ve listened up to this point, you’re like, this guy’s full of shit.

I’m here to tell you, no, he’s not. We will continue from there. Can we please circle back to the conversation of How we manage relationships with outgoing employees. And I want to hear about one that you [00:24:00] royally screwed up. Yeah. Regret. Okay. So I’ll leave her nameless, but there was an employee that I would consider more of a manager than an employee.

She was our best inside sales rep. It was 2014 just pre coach. Okay. We were growing like a weed. We were really excited and we had hired. Seven people were starting in the next four months. We had offers out there. They were accepted. We’re we’re seven new people are coming. We had signed a new office space for three X a square footage.

We were like just about to take that leap. She left on a Friday, didn’t come back on Monday. She sent a three sentence email basically saying, It’s not, it’s not you, it’s me, which was obviously not true. And it’s never, and she just quit. And I, we tried calling, we tried everything like three to six months later, she agreed to get a bagel on a coffee, got [00:25:00] no information from her.

Like she basically was like a tight lipped. She’s still in the industry. She’s doing great. Um, I to this day have not got a complete answer into what I did wrong and that still bugs me. It still bugs me. And I know, I know the surface level of what I did wrong. I wasn’t a good enough manager. I wasn’t a good enough leader.

I didn’t check in enough. Like I didn’t have a good enough relationship with her. There’s, there’s seven different things, but I don’t have that bullseye answer of what I did wrong. And it’s still, it still pisses me off. Well, that one’s tough for me. Cause I, I want to learn. I want to know. Where you messed up and how you changed.

Like I’ve talked at length on this podcast and over drinks with you over the years of how I had a massive employee defection coming up. I mean, close to a decade ago at this point that, that brought us to our knees. But it changed the entire way that I structure my employee agreements. And I don’t mean like, like we, we protected [00:26:00] ourselves more.

I mean, we got more vulnerable and we opened up the wallet more and we realized, God, we screwed up in 18 different ways. And like you, I didn’t get the answer to what went wrong directly from the source, but their colleagues who did stick around. We’re generous enough to be direct with us. And I learned a ton.

So I want to know if there’s an example where you, where you had an employee leave. You were furious. I mean, you wanted to make an angry phone call. You were hoping somebody would call for a reference check so you could tell them what you really thought, but then you slept on it and you were like, Oh shit, I need to, I need to do a 180.

I need to pivot. Are there any circumstances like that in your career? It doesn’t necessarily need to be an employee defection, but I want to know about these inflection points. Yeah. Those are the interesting ones. The direct answer which sucks is no, there’s no, there’s no one that left my team that I, that kept [00:27:00] me up at night.

There are people who have left, who have made direct comments about working at our company that, that did piss me off. And I have reached out to, and I’ve been like, Okay. I heard this about working for us, not on glass door, but like I heard, I literally saw you on a podcast say working there was a nightmare and this, that, and the other, like, I don’t view your employment that way.

Can we meet for a coffee and chat about it? And every time the person is, this only happened twice, but both times a person has gone back being like, you know, that was taken out of context, like this, that, and the other. So that kind of stuff has pissed me off. When someone leaves the, I guess, like. Me leaving Liberty Mutual and starting my own company, I look back on it way more heroic than it actually was.

You know, like it really was just a decision that I wanted to bet on myself instead of a Fortune 100 company. It’s pretty simple. It [00:28:00] happens every day there, I bet. Yeah. And now with no non competes, good luck. But, and by that, that’s, we’re, we’re 24 hours into this no non compete decision. And I’ve, and I’ve read a lot about it as you’ve answered, but I think the When someone leaves the company, a GNN, Cressy, whatever, and goes to maybe another place, not necessarily their own place, and thrives, Pete and Zach have a choice, do you reach out and say, I’m really happy you’re thriving, I’m happy you found it, and do you include some sort of undertone there?

Dick comment, or do you really just say like, congratulations and I mean it. And if you want to get a coffee, I I’d love to learn about what makes this place great. Are you actually going to do that? Cause now at this point in my career, I would 2014, 2015, head down generating leads, 2016, 27, head down. So no, I, I love this topic because I’ve sadly had a lot of employees come and go over the years.

Well, we’ve been in business long enough to have a lot of employees come and go. [00:29:00] And. The dick comment on the back end doesn’t need to happen, but the same thing can be accomplished. And let me explain this. I’m excited about this. Because I, I have this philosophy, I often refer to this as kind of the equivalent to the NFL coaching tree.

So when, when somebody leaves, I’m not going to use Bill Belichick as the example like I have in the past, because that’s just a dumpster fire right now, but we’re going to say Andy Reid. Sure. Somebody leaves Andy Reed’s coaching staff. They were a coordinator or they had some sort of role in the team.

And they go and they become a head coach. And one of two things can happen. They can kill it. They’re, I don’t know, you’re Sean McVay. You win a Super Bowl and everybody says, of course he did it. Yeah. He coached with Andy Reed. Yeah, there you go. Or you’re the other guy, and I’m not going to name another guy who goes and crashes and burns, but we know that they do because a third of the NFL turned over their head coaching roles this year.

And they crash and burn. And then what does the industry say? What does Sport Talk Radio say? They say, of course he did. [00:30:00] He left the nest. That’s why the dick comment doesn’t matter. If they go out and they kill it, and you manage the optics of the departure in a way that at the very least is just, like, it was a casual parting of ways, there is no negativity associated, people aren’t bad mouthing each other in either direction, then all you can do is win by their departure, in that sense.

There’s going to be an outcome, it can be attributed to you in a positive, It can be seen as, Hey, they screwed up. They walked away. That’s when the negative outcome was there. And that’s the way I choose to look at it. So I can let myself sleep at night. You do have the benefit. And I, I did have the benefit of having over a decade of your own brand and company experience.

You know what I mean? We’re like one person leaving. I’m not going to name a specific person at Cressy, but one person leaving in theory, cannot impact you too much. Sure. Okay. And so now there’s a lot of great people here. There’s no specific comment about that, but [00:31:00] I’ll go back to my own firm. I treated G and N that way when we were growing as well.

I thought like, no one can hurt me by leaving. And I was accurate by that. The only person I could hurt if it was, if he left, it was Matt. And that then Matt and I met. So let me relate this back to you as well. You brought up an example of Andy Reed. I’ll bring up a university of Connecticut basketball. So Dan Hurley, obviously I think is a phenomenal coach.

I’m a Yukon grad. I’m biased. But if you look at his interviews. he praises his assistant coaches all the time. So Bill Murray is obviously a famous actor, whatever his, I believe either grandson or son, I forget who it is. He’s one of the assistant coaches. Okay. If you can find so many interviews where Dan Hurley is absolutely saying the entire offensive scheme is because of Murray.

Like this guy studies European basketball. He, he, you can’t find him not watching women’s basketball, European basketball. And he brought this to UConn. Sure. I, I put it in there and I’m the motivation behind it, but like this guy’s incredible. [00:32:00] What’s going to happen in a year or two, this guy is going to get a head coaching job somewhere.

This, this, your story exactly is going to play out with the two UConn assistants. They are going to leave and they’re going to coach, not at like College of Charleston, they’re going to coach at like Power Five. Yeah. Like, like a conference that actually matters. Okay. This will play out live in front of us.

And you’re going to see Dan Hurley probably take the stoic approach of like, really, I’m grateful for them. And I can’t wait for the next person to come in and fill their role. How do we do that at our small gyms? How do we do that at our small insurance agencies? You just have to take the high road. But how do you take it when they’re there?

That’s the question. We do it on a micro level three times a year when we turn over intern classes here. Now there aren’t, and there aren’t, I can’t think of any examples where someone leaves an internship like in a blaze of glory. But we do constantly have people say, Oh, they were the best class I’ve seen.

How are you guys going to do it? Like this, that’s a [00:33:00] big loss. Cause we can’t hire everyone. We can barely hire one of them out of each class. And to me, this is just reinventing the culture three times a year, which is a beautiful thing. And I think that they’re going to do that. And when we know they’re going to do that at UConn, cause they just had, what, two players entered the lottery and the whole started back.

Okay. The whole starting five is gone. And they’re going to be competitive next year, but it’s, but it’s incredible. So again, there’s, what is it? I forget who says it, but like maybe Zig Ziglar said it, but you know, success leaves clues. And I, I, I love looking at college coaches. I know you do too, especially professional coaches and what you, what you do, the bad ones are so easy to focus on.

They’re so easy because of the dumpster fire, as you said, but there’s so many examples of good coaches where, when you actually When you get off social media and dig into their entire interview and you just listen to them speak, you’re like, wow, like nine, 10 things out of 10, every compliment they received, they directed back to their staff, every [00:34:00] compliment they received, they directed back to their players, they take so few compliments, so few.

So how do you and I do that as leaders? When, when criticism comes, how do you take it away from the employees and onto yourself? Both those things I think matter. Yeah. And it, it takes a lot of reps to learn how to do it well and gracefully. Yeah. Let’s make some of this actionable. Sure. First. You’re a gym owner, metaphorically a gym owner, and you, it’s, today’s Thursday, so tomorrow’s Friday, and tomorrow afternoon, someone’s gonna step into your office at four and say, hey, can we talk?

So, that’s coming down the pipe, and they’re gonna, they’re gonna give their notice. What’s the one or two things you suggest that gym owner, Do this weekend. So it was after the person, independent of filling the role, how do they handle themselves in that relationship? Yep. So in that moment forward, I think that they need to approach the person leaving as how can [00:35:00] I help you make this transition easier for you?

Cause this is obviously super awkward for you. You’re leaving a place that in theory, as the. You’ve helped and has helped you. So how do I make this less awkward for you? What do you need to do? Do you do you want a couple days just to say goodbyes? Do you want us to put together some kind of like coffee or drinks for you where you can just you know You say goodbye and what have you because it doesn’t I want to make sure this transition is easy Why do I say that and i’ve done that by the way, but why do I why do I say that is because Everybody eventually is going to leave your business.

Every single person. Um, or you’ll leave the business. One of the two is going to happen. So if you can show the rest of the team that the company is bigger than the employee, the employee can just come and go and we’re going to celebrate life. We’re not going to make them feel bad. Everybody feels at ease.

And nobody’s awkward about the transition. I’ve done the opposite where I’ve just said, okay, pack up your stuff and leave. And I’ve actually told people, I remember it’s like, you cannot go back to your desk because I’ve been [00:36:00] more worried about losing money than I have been. I’ve been like. And the reputation and that leaves like everyone on pins and needles.

So anyways, celebrate the person, take that, take the high road. And then after the fact, the second part is, can you really meet with the team and say, when we hire the next person, like. What qualities are we looking for? What qualities does John have? John just left. Man, John’s lost. We can all agree with that.

What qualities does John have that we need to duplicate for the next person? And then, do you know anybody? Yeah, I love it. You’re giving really like master’s level experience shares though, because I did. I’ve done both, just like you said, and I have had the pack up your stuff. We’ll pay you for two weeks, but we can’t trust you on the training floor because there’s a lot of soliciting business in our experience.

And I think at the stage I’m at right now, I’d rather just look them in the eye and say, I trust you not to solicit [00:37:00] business on the training floor and your farewell tour starts now, please do right by me. Yeah. And I think they would. It’s because of the relationship we have building up to that. Yeah, sure.

But also like you’re giving them trust by saying you can go back on the floor, they’ll probably give you trust back. Exactly. I think people have a hard time stabbing you in the back when they feel like you’re giving them something. Yeah. Uh, whereas if you, if you actually like force them out the door, which I’ve done, you’ve done, I’ve done multiple times.

I know for a fact they stabbed me twice as hard, uh, as they were probably going to because I stabbed Liberty Mutual twice as hard. I’ll give you a really fast story. Sorry. So, uh, when I left Liberty mutual, one of the things that was really sensitive is you can’t take your clients and I didn’t want to, okay.

Um, I, I felt like I had a good plan to go develop clients. I was so confident in the fact that I, the president of the personal lines department of Liberty mutual, like C level reached out to [00:38:00] me and Matt and said, I’d love to meet you guys for lunch to close out your employment. I love this story for the record.

So this, so this, we were very excited to meet with him because, um, he’s a very high to do person and I, I, I wanted to like let him know that I’m, I’m not even going to take anybody. I don’t need anything like, et cetera. We met, he won, he picked a steakhouse in Boston. And I believe it was Dabio’s and it’s right next to Liberty Mutual.

And we met with him, white linen tablecloth, 22, 26 year olds meeting a 50 plus guy, 50 year old plus guy. He flew in for this, didn’t he? Yep. Yep. Okay. So we sit down with him. He shows up about 15 minutes late, he orders a martini and a steak and looks us right in the eye and tells us if we take even one client, we’re fucked.

He is going to absolutely sue our pants off and we made a bad decision here because we had a really good thing going. He finished his martini, had half the steak and left us with the bill. And I To this day want to [00:39:00] hurt Liberty Mutual because of that experience, because here’s two 26 year olds having to foot multiple hundred dollar bill back in 2010 I didn’t have this kind of money I had no money, and I left that I went into that meeting Thinking I’m so grateful Liberty Mutual like gave me all this money and freedom and whatever I’m so grateful to give me the knowledge of training to go build my own business.

And I left that meaning being like, let’s get bigger than Liberty Mutual and crush them, even though I knew we couldn’t. I left with anger. Now, that was a long story, but what I’m saying is you and I have done our version of the steak and martini to somebody, and they’ve left way more angry than they were.

I wish every person who would listen to this, they’re going to take one thing away. It’s when people leave you, they’re not leaving you, they’re leaving the situation and they’re trying to find a better situation. They have one life to live. They’re just trying to make it taller. Who cares? You know, you, you’re going to see them at a coffee shop on a stage.

At a conference. Do you want to like duck around the corner [00:40:00] and not look him in the eye? Or do you want to grab a beer with him? Yep. And I’ll bet you he left that lunch and when did it at dinner? You’re probably right. I was like, that’s that guy’s role. He sounded pretty polished in that. He never apologized down the road either.

Oh, he doesn’t intend to. No, I, I was blown away by that, but the gall to, to do that. Hey, I mean, he, he made a choice to represent. Accompany that way. But what I think is even worse is he was probably taught that. But you know what, Zach, you’re, you’re so lucky he did that to you. Probably. So lucky. I’m reading a book right now I won’t celebrate for people called Choose Your Enemies Wisely.

I’m going to say don’t read it because it didn’t do a lot for me. It was just fine. But one of the initial takeaways from the author was Without enemies, without somebody we hate so much. We want to win. We’re not going to win. And I’ll tell you what, like, if I had to make a list of the [00:41:00] people that I should thank for, for where our operation has gone to and what it’s accomplished in the top five would be the two people who left and blew up my world for 24 to 36 months.

But they’re the impetus for it being as good as it is now. And it couldn’t, we would be exactly where we were. In 2017 today, right now, if, if they hadn’t done that to us. And so this is all about the benefit of hindsight. I’m so thankful. I, you know, one of the two of them showed up and popped his head into my office cause he was here for physical therapy in the last 48 hours.

And we chatted for 10 minutes and it was awesome. And we have a rapport and the other one, we’re still, we’re still blackout radio silence with. And I think we are the impetus for his competitive nature. And. It’s faded for us a little bit just because we’ve got bigger fish to fry, but for a couple years there, it drove success.

And, and we were immaturely just [00:42:00] chasing, you know, revenge wins. Sometimes you need an enemy. That’s okay. That’s okay. But as leaders, when you’re a couple of years in the business, that’s okay. At this point where you and I are at, we kind of regret those moments a little bit because we’re like, I really didn’t need to villainize that guy so much.

I like it a little bit though. Look, when it happened to us, we deserved it. For starters, if there was a reason for leaving, I would have left. And But what I have come to realize is that it was at the end of a period where Eric and I had deliberately plateaued a little bit. And more so me than him, because Eric doesn’t really have an off button.

I’ve never seen him not hustle. But we each started building a family in 2014. And I know I was content with status quo for a little while where I figured out how to be dad. And husband. As a dad. And so from 2014 to 2017, we coasted. And I needed a kick in the pants to kind of hit the restart [00:43:00] button. And for me, that was villainizing somebody who put us in that position.

And I’m so grateful that it happened. Yeah, it’s a good way to look at it. I couldn’t have said a couple of years back, like, but now finally, with the dust having settled and a little bit more emotional maturity, I’m realizing it did me a solid and it needed to happen. Well, going back to the original question of like, what happens when someone leaves on a Friday?

Well, I guess one of the answers is you got to figure out how can I use this? I don’t anticipate the majority of the people listening to this will say that, but if they can just write that down somewhere and put it on their desk, when something goes wrong, how can I use this? Uh, I think that that’s an interesting way to kind of look at it.

Um, and I wish I probably did that in the past. Now, when going to my own store, when this person left in 2014, like I said earlier, and kind of crushed our world a little bit. I mean, it took us like a couple minutes to move on. Now I didn’t move on mentally, but it took us a couple minutes to be like, all right, well, she actually is [00:44:00] gone.

So we need to do X, Y, and Z and kind of figure it did. We, it didn’t really impact us, but in the moment it felt like my entire world collapsed. Yeah. But I mean, we still had our best year ever. It seems like you had a lot of those over the years. Yeah, it is what it is. I know one employee is going to crush a business.

Well, not a business of that magnitude. One employee can crush a small fitness operation if it’s a two or three person shop. In the, in the vein of making things actionable. Now let’s pivot to the person on the other side of that table. So you are a personal trainer working at Equinox who has decided it’s time.

Mm hmm. And now it’s three o’clock on Friday afternoon and you got 60 minutes to think about how you’re going to handle yourself on your way out the door or as you pass that information along. How do you do that conversation now, knowing what you know? Yeah. First off, I, I, I write. A letter of some sort, one [00:45:00] page, what have you, just because when I’m in the meeting, I might not conduct myself, nor might I be able to speak the way I want to speak.

So I get, I get it. I actually read it out, get it written down that way. It’s like, I’m giving you something. The owner of Equinox, I’m giving you something that way in case I misspeak or in case this goes the wrong way. I want you to let you know how appreciative I am of working at Equinox. And then I just tell them like, it really is my goal to do what I want to do.

And Equinox has given me the training. Everybody at Equinox has been great to me. And you kind of take that approach of like, I couldn’t do this without equinox is training and my company is not going to hurt equinox. It’s actually going to show equinox in a positive light because people should go to equinox to work to understand more about themselves before they open their own company.

You should get everybody in my shoes. To build them up and probably six to seven out of 10. We’ll stay with that chronics forever, but three or four, [00:46:00] you’re going to do such a great job leading and managing. They’re going to go off on their own. So kudos to you. See you later. Beautiful. Let’s kill it right there.

Yeah. Certainly learned plenty of lessons. In the last 10 plus years, but I love this topic. I could talk about it for two hours if you let me. So I appreciate you coming out to my office to chat today at the expense of your golf schedule. I’m going to assume based on how you dress. I dress like I just dress for life.

Yeah. But it’s, it’s going to be nice enough to play golf today here in New England. I hope to have you back for a conversation of this nature in the future. And next time coffee’s on me. Love to. Thank you. Appreciate it.