Episode 272

Confessions of Two Imperfect Gym Owners with Pete Dupuis

In this episode, Pete Dupuis joins me as we talk about the confessions of two imperfect gym owners.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend. In today’s episode, I’m speaking with Pete. And this episode is an unusual one because it’s really a confessional. It’s really the topic is all the ways that Pete and I are messed up. And so it’s a little window into a therapy session for the two of us. And the reason we did this is because we think more content creators like ourselves Should not just be putting out best practices and wins and things that we know and things that we’re getting right, but we should remind everyone that we’re fallible, we’re imperfect.

We’re messing up all the time. There’s some lessons that are really hard to learn. And so today we just, go off the beaten path and share with you a few lessons for that, for Pete and I have been very hard to learn mistakes that we have continued to make in our lives and ways that we’re thinking about processing them in real time with all of you.

So I hope you enjoyed the today’s episode and let’s dive in.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the [00:01:00] 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.

Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business for Unicorns podcast. Today. I’m here with Pete. Hello, sir. Thank you for having me back. Oh, pleasure. As always, before we dive into today’s topic, I just want to give a quick shout out because Mark Fisher is doing a free webinar, which is coming up soon.

The dates are October 13th and October 14th, you get to pick which one of those days you want to come to. Both are at 12. PM Eastern time. And the topic of his webinar is how much should a gym owner make? It’s going to be talking about financial benchmarks for both what a gym owner should make and other really important financial benchmarks for your whole gym.

It’s a free one. [00:02:00] The links are down in the show notes. If you want to join, share it with all your other, gym owning friends, but it’s completely free webinar with Mark Fisher again, October 13th or 14th, 12 PM Eastern time. And only people who come live, we’ll get a special kind of done for you.

Template for your finances that mark has been working on and making but you have to attend live If you can’t make it live, that’s okay You’ll get the recording but only those in person are going to be getting this special magical spreadsheet that helps you with your finances So click the link in the show notes and register.

It’s free. Let’s move on to today’s topic pete, which is I want to talk a little bit about mistakes we make, our relationship with messing stuff up in the business. And this was really inspired by, we hear from time to time, the people we work with, Unicorn Center members, other coaching clients, that sometimes when people compare themselves or their gyms to Cressy, to Mark Fisher Fitness, or they compare them to their ideas of what we think they think we are as leaders and managers and entrepreneurs, that [00:03:00] can be a little overwhelming.

It can be a little daunting. When someone who just started out in year one, here’s about the way you run things at CSP, or here’s about how we run things at MFF can be a little daunting. And we have to always as coaches and mentors remind people that we’re totally fucking fallible. We mess up stuff. All the time we’re teaching them best practices that we’ve learned over many years after many mistakes.

So we thought today we’d really just double down on that idea and share some examples of ways that we mess up ways that we keep messing up and how we approach that kind of self learning process ourselves. How’s that sound? It’s a good intro. Yeah. I like it. It’s a mistake that pretty much all content creators make it seems.

And I don’t even know if I’ll call it a mistake because a lot of people are very deliberate about it. But what I’m talking about is only sharing the wins and we spend a lot of time putting up the happy pictures of us in the space or us with [00:04:00] the clients or us with our kids. But there aren’t a whole lot of videos up on the internet of my kids throwing tantrums and having shit fits on the kitchen floor.

But guess what? It happens. So I guess this is more of an opportunity for us to say, to our members of Unicorn Society, We’re broken just like you. Let’s talk about it. Yeah. 100 percent 100%. I think you’re right. I guess as content creators, even as coaches, most, I think most of our job is people want to know what works.

What have you learned about what works? And often we just jump right to what we know or the wins we’ve had, like you said, and we skip over the fact that, oh, by the way, I learned that this works because I did 100 things that were shit that I fall. I fell flat on my face for it. Years before I came up with this thing that I just taught you and made it look really simple.

And so they don’t need to see all the work and experience it took to get to a best practice. I don’t know, let’s dive in. When we think about ways that you’ve messed up or keep messing up, what’s the first thing that comes to mind for you? In real time [00:05:00] right now, my office manager is in Ireland. On vacation and so I am relearning the same lesson I learn every time I am either between office managers or have one out and that is that what worked yesterday may not work today and I need to get back into the mess.

To find out where the biggest messes are and I have systems that were designed in a lot of cases the last time I found myself stuck at the front desk for an extended period of time. And so this is a, this is the best version of learning for me because it’s not indefinite. I know that next Monday he’s going to be back out there and this isn’t one of those.

I got to just figure this out until I find an alternative. This is like a. strategically placed week of learning, adjusting and course correcting. And so I’m just really, I’m learning again and again with each email that comes with each phone call that rings [00:06:00] through that the language, the copy that we use, the messaging strategy that I use to sell old products at old price points.

is just old. And so I have found myself just two days into the week reworking a lot of our front end S. O. P. S. Because they’re dated and it’s more my fault than it is my office managers fault. He’s not empowered to rework our systems. He can certainly share ideas. But it’s easier for him. I’d say the path of least resistance for him is to just run a semi janky broken system than it is to stir the pot a little bit.

So I need to slide into that role periodically and start figuring out where my headaches are. And Michael, you asked me how my week’s going. I’m only a shift and a half into running our front desk. And I have found a lot of headaches through no fault but my own. Yeah, that’s a really good one, Pete. And I think that’s one, I think that’ll resonate with a lot [00:07:00] of listeners and certainly it resonates with me.

And it’s that whole dance we do as business owners of trying to delegate, trying to give other people clear roles, clear responsibilities, and then also have clear assistance in place when they’re gone. to have someone else help. And often we’re the ones, we’re the stopgap. We’re the ones have to jump in when they are gone or they’re on vacation.

And we have to do that. It’s because we haven’t made another system for it. We’re the stopgap. And you also will jump in and learn that there’s holes. There’s headaches. There are things that you just didn’t even know were things that needed to be addressed. Yeah, that’s a really good one. Yeah. So what’s the ideal for what you do differently moving forward?

What’s your vision for how this headache doesn’t repeat itself year after year? Not avoiding the obligation of doing the job sometimes. And so I think that a lot of us get so caught up in this mindset that it’s more important that we be working on the business than in the business. And what we do is we completely strip ourselves of the opportunity to work at it.

And I make this mistake. [00:08:00] My default pattern is to say, Who is my backup front desk person for that entire period? Let me throw money at this problem. The whole, the old adage, If you have money to throw at your problems, you don’t have problems. I just, I wipe the problems away by saying, I’ll throw a couple hundred bucks at that this week.

And it only gets worse. Because the person who’s doing it in a part time format is, Not particularly well trained like you mentioned and I’m not going to put a ton of time and energy into designing SOPs for this hypothetical that I could cover for an abbreviated period. Embracing the, how do I put this?

It’s important that I stop trying to avoid a handful of challenging work shifts. Just because I have the means to throw out the problem for temporary fixes because those shifts end up being Insanely productive for me. I had a two hour shift Just I should say a two hour window last night after hours because we had four hours of quarterly [00:09:00] planning yesterday or monthly planning Where I was making up for some lost time and I just found myself Reworking multiple aspects of my system, but then coming back to work today energized So I’m feeling like I basically need to throw myself at what I perceive to be a problem when in reality, it’s an opportunity Yeah I think that’s such a great way of looking at it because I think so many people resist having to cover for staff when they’re Out especially owners were to cover for trainers where they’re gone or someone who’s on a really long along health leave or maternity leave or whatever it might be and there’s oftentimes it’s It feels like a real wrench being thrown in the works that you have to redo your schedule and your priority list.

And not to say it’s not, it can’t be disruptive. It certainly is. But I think there’s also an opportunity there that if once in a while, that’s just going to be something to do at this point of growth in your gym. And you can lean into it as an opportunity to connect with clients, to audit your systems, to learn more about.

XYZ. [00:10:00] I think it’s a really great reframe that makes that time feel really useful and productive and you’re not avoiding it. You’re diving in and making the most of it. I think that’s a really great way to leverage what at the moment felt like a pain point. Yeah. Right now it feels like a win. It just took me two days of the work week to get into that mindset that this is more about growth than it is about keeping my head above water.

Yeah, 100%. Yeah, I’m going to share something. I think that I do. I keep messing up too. And this is something I think has been true for my time at MFF. I think I can even probably trace this back to as a weak spot in kind of my whole management career. Is that I feel like sometimes the thing that I keep messing up to my own detriment and probably the detriment of those around me is that I don’t know that I’m always.

As quick to, to discipline employees who are exhibiting poor performance. I’m really good at these conversations and I like coaching people. And I always believe that people can improve if they want to. So I think like the coach in me just [00:11:00] really wants to like, keep working with them, keep working with them, keep teaching, keep training, keep auditing.

I just like that process of watching people learn and grow and develop. When there’s probably more often where I should have just I should have just fired them. I’m not afraid of those conversations I’m fine doing that too. But to my own detriment, I think I keep my coaching hat too long on too long When really I should try and find an off ramp or get people into new roles or you get the idea But that’s something I can remember myself doing that early on as a manager.

I remember I can think remember myself doing that During my MFF years, and I think there’s probably even times where I do that now, even with our business unicorns team, right? I lean so hard into my coaching skills to help people develop and grow that I don’t do enough boundary setting with people when it comes to performance expectations.

And I know better. But it’s one of those things where it’s, I like being liked. I like the actual process of teaching and developing people. And so turning it into a disciplinary conversation is just like, something I know how to do, but I’m just so resistant to. [00:12:00] Which I think is, again, probably pretty normal feeling.

No one likes doing it. But it’s just, I feel particularly shameful about not doing it more because I know how. I know how, and I still don’t. I think this comes down to the fact that you have a hard time drawing a line between student and business owner and you’re actively working on your craft every time you extend those things where maybe the path forward is to just crack the whip.

That doesn’t bring us, the podcast listeners or the people who use your services as much value as you just workshopping this stuff. Because as far as I’m concerned, you’re just, you’re practicing your instrument. And I think it’s great for everyone except for MFF. So my two cents is 100 percent keep exploring.

All of the options to fix broken people because I just learned from it. Yeah, for sure, and certainly it’s like one of my strong suits to be able to coach people and help [00:13:00] them develop and grow and work through challenges, and I like a project, and sometimes the worse their performance is, the more excited I get about trying to turn it around, and I think that sometimes that’s good, and sometimes I’m doing them a disservice by trying to fit a square peg into a round hole where they should just Get a different job, or they should be in a different role or right.

I’m not the right person to be managing them because what they really need is more discipline. And that you get the idea. And I’m sure that Fisher would probably tell the podcasts would agree. There’s probably more times where I could have laid down a firmer boundary when it comes to performance. So that’s one of my.

One of my bad habits as a manager. So what about you? What else is on your list of things that Pete screws up and is learning from? Yeah, I got one more for you. And I continuously make this mistake. I find success in an area. So let’s say I find success in content creation when I’m consuming a lot. If I’m actively reading.

I’m doing a good job to consume content, other people’s ideas. I’m creating more [00:14:00] and I get a little bit of momentum going. I get a backlog of content. I’m excited. And then I’m like, all right, that’s cool. I figured that out. Now let’s go run the shit out of my business. And I stopped the thing that was working.

And this happens in our business as well. So this might be like, Hey, we’re on a hot streak. We just pack the gym out with clients. The best time to look for new clients is when you don’t need them because you’re doing it from a place of not insecurity. There’s no urgency in the process. You’re just continuing to build this awesome thing.

That’s already awesome. Whereas when we’re doing it from a place where it’s, Hey, Keeler’s going to tell me to shut this thing down. If I don’t find. 10 new leads that we convert into our high ticket offering in the next three to five weeks because we’re out of options. That’s a very different type of lead gen strategy.

So for me, I need to crack myself, pull the little rubber band on my wrist and feel the pain every time I forget to set aside some time deliberately to [00:15:00] read. Because I know that I’m not going to make time for it all the time when we’re busy. Or if I’m on the front desk at work for the week, I’m going to deprioritize the things that work and they are lagging indicators of success.

Like I, I know that if I take this week off from it and I say, Hey, you know what? I was so busy. I was in spreadsheets all week cleaning up systems. Two, three weeks from today, I’m going to be lamenting to you that I’m out of ideas and my content strategy has gone off a cliff. Don’t ever take your foot off the gas is my piece of advice.

Yeah, I think that’s a great one. And for certainly for something like that is working on so many levels, right? That you always looking at content and creating content is the thing that fuels you, keeps your brain active, keeps you challenged, keeps you learning, keeps you growing and continues to be useful to develop your brand and contribute to business Like it’s working on so many levels and it’s very easy when something is working so well, like that to be like, Oh, it doesn’t, I can stop doing this for a little while.

And this doesn’t need me anymore. I did this [00:16:00] so well for a while now I can walk away and spend time on something else. Those are the moments where I think you’re right. They’re like double down. That’s something that’s really working and why not keep doing more of it? That’s a good one. Can you think of any other examples like that?

I think content creations are really good. One, one that comes to mind for me that I see Unicorn Society members do a lot is they’ll be creating systems in their business. Like creating SOPs and other procedures and they’ll do it for a little while, do it for a few months. They’ll be on a streak.

They’ll be writing everything down, making it really clear. They’re like, okay, I did that. I guess I can go do other things now. And then they just stop. And you’re like, wait, those things were maybe weren’t fully implemented. There’s like still gaps to be filled. So I think that’s a common habit for entrepreneurs to wear many hats.

Okay. Once this. Or maybe the plates is a better analogy that spin many plates. Once this plate is spinning, I can probably, let’s see how long I can walk away from it before it crashes to the ground. And I just, I don’t think that’s the best strategy. If you need the plates, it keeps spinning the damn plates.

Yeah, I see it in Unicorn Society all the time. And I see it more in Missed Opportunity, where if I [00:17:00] say, all right, tell me about your best lead generation strategy in 2023. And they say, oh, we host this charity event and it crushed it. And I’m like, that’s amazing. What’s the date of the next one? And they’re like, I don’t know.

If you step back on Monday and say that event on Saturday of this past weekend created 25 qualified leads for me. By Tuesday, you damn well better know when the next one is and what the cause is and what your marketing strategy is, because we found something that’s working. Why are we going to say that was cool?

Now let’s start from zero again over here. And so it’s really just about identifying opportunities for momentum and leading into them instead of having shiny object syndrome in all facets of how we are creatively running our business. Yeah, that’s a good one. I’ll share one more since you shared too.

I’ll share another one. A place where I continually drop the ball, and I think anyone that works with me would probably agree with this as well, is that, and again, I teach this in our Time Ninja course. I know better. Knowing better is not always the same [00:18:00] as doing better, but I constantly struggle with planning fallacy.

I think because there’s lots of areas where I’m confident and competent. I’m like, oh, yeah, I can do that in 10 minutes. I can do that in 15 minutes. Yeah, that’ll take me an hour or two when the reality is, if I’m really being honest, it’s going to take me twice as long. It’s going to take me twice, sometimes three times as long.

And I definitely, I think people who work with me would also agree. I’ve gotten way better at this over the years. Like it’s a known challenge for me. It’s, I try not to dampen my ambition, but it tries to be realistic about timelines. And even we just, Pete and I were just on a planning call yesterday for business unicorns.

And one of the things I put forward in our meeting was, Hey, y’all, we’re planning for the fourth quarter. They’re holidays. Let’s be realistic. And I shared that with the group, but I was mainly sharing it for me. I was mainly sharing it so out loud I could remind myself, Hey, Michael, you want to spend time with family this fourth quarter?

Don’t take on a million projects. Yeah, you got a lot of stuff going on with, I’m getting a new puppy soon. You’re gonna want to spend time with your puppy and just chill. Don’t [00:19:00] take on so many projects. But for me, that is a constant running battle. Even though I know better and I teach people how to put buffer time on their calendars to avoid planning fallacy, I still fucking do it myself.

Oh my god. Literally all the time. That’s all that accountability coaching is to me. Do as I say, not as I do. I can’t tell you how many people are like, I’m procrastinating so bad and I’m like, you should totally watch or do Time Ninja. It’s going to change your life. But I haven’t done Time Ninja since January of 2020 and I will spend as much time making my to do list.

As I should be spent doing my to do list, I’m there with you. Yeah, 100%. And it’s the thing is that, the title of this podcast is going to be something like, Surprise, Michael and Pete aren’t perfect. And it’s just because we know how to give good advice and teach people about the things that we’re doing well, doesn’t mean that we’re good at it all the time.

We totally fuck stuff up repeatedly. And all of you have a hard time with some topics, just learning our lesson. And there’s all kinds of reasons for that we can [00:20:00] dive into on a longer podcast about psychology. But the reality is that just because you know better doesn’t mean you always do better.

And there’s a knowledge gap, which is one thing that’s easy to fill, but it’s the behavior gap that’s really the hardest to fill. And we’re walking examples of that every day. Yeah. We’ll call this one. You’re broken and we are too. Yeah, that’s good. That’s more, that’s catchier. All right, my friends, we’ll leave it there.

We can keep going all day with ways that Pete and I are fucked up, but we’ll leave it with just those few examples and hopefully some lessons about how we’re processing the fact that we know that about ourselves. So I hope there was a few takeaways for all of you in there, but as a reminder, go register for Mark’s free webinar.

Again, October 13th or 14th, 12 noon Eastern link is in the show notes. It’s free and it’s all about financial benchmarks for your business, including how much owners should make. Thanks for a great call, Pete, and I’ll see you on the next one. Yeah, this was fun. I think good therapy for us. Bye. See ya.[00:21:00]