Episode 338

Inside Mark’s and Michael’s Brains: Recent Lessons Learned

In this episode, we go inside Mark and Michael’s brains and talk about the recent lessons they learned.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, Mark Fisher and I are taking a moment to kind of pause and give you a behind the scenes glimpse into what’s happening in our brains recently, as we reflect on the changing landscape of what’s happening at Mark Fisher fitness, the growth we’ve experienced at business for unicorns, we just pause to share a few of our recent lessons learned as business leaders and entrepreneurs.

So if you’re looking for a little behind the scenes into the craziness that is happening inside our brains, this is a great episode for you. So keep on listening.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, 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 [00:01:00] industry. Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. I’m back again with Mr. Fisher. How are you, sir? I’m doing good. Awesome. Before we dive in today, I just want to do a quick little shout out to all of you who have been thinking about working with us, but have not taken the leap yet.

We’re offering a new way to connect with us, which is called a brainstorm call. Fisher, you want to talk through what this is for them? Yep. We want to do call with every gym owner in the world. So one of the ways that we now do that is you, and we’ll put the link here in the show note, but basically we think we can, whether it makes sense for you to work with us or not, whether you even really want to do anything with us.

We feel like we can do a pretty good job these days of really quickly helping you unpack where you’re at, what’s possible for you in the next 90 days to uncover the number one bottleneck that holding things back and help you develop a very simple three step plan [00:02:00] to get you moving in the direction of your goals.

So it’s a completely free thing. There’s totally no pressure. The reason we do it is of course, obviously some percentage of you people are going to be excited about working with us. And maybe you do want to know about some of the different ways that we work. More directly with gym owners to get faster results.

And if that’s you, that’s amazing. And if that’s not you and you just want to hang out and get some guidance, totally happy to do that. You’ll find the link in the show note below. So you can go ahead and do that, hop on a call. And we’d love that opportunity to, if nothing else, help you get clear on what the next steps are for you to keep seeing progress in your gym.

And if you are, you’re already interested in either Unicorn Society or our newest program, Gym Growth Blast Off, we’re happy to have a conversation about that too. I love it. Awesome. We’ll go click the link in the show notes, friends, and come brainstorm with us. We’re here to help. Uh, that being said, today’s episode is going to just be an update from Fisher and I about what are we learning about recently?

We’ve been both in, uh, multiple like learning journeys in and outside of work. This is Unicorns has been [00:03:00] growing and changing and we have lots of other things going on in our lives. And so we thought we’d just pause and take a moment to just share maybe one or two reflections of things we’re learning about.

Our own work about working with a lot of new Unicorn Society members and just share those tips. So hopefully you all can benefit from the lessons we’re learning. Fisher, what’s on your mind? Do you want to kick us off with something? Yeah, I guess I’ll go with one observation. I’ll say I’d like to think of maybe one thing.

It’s been a tough lesson and one thing. It’s been a good lesson. Okay. So one thing that’s been a good lesson, we’ll start with something positive is. So we’ve seen a lot of growth. in the past six months, like a potentially terrifying amount of growth ever since we decided we really are going to be a little bit more intentional about really focusing on the marketing sales.

And also importantly, and this is the thing I think we did really well was build a system, build a SOP is build a team that can really operationalize our process. So the gym owners can very consistently get the results that they’re here to get, because at a certain point, just like with your [00:04:00] gym, you. If you only have 20 clients and you’re a great trainer, you riff it and sure.

A lot of the program designs overlap and it’s all quote unquote customized, but you’re working off algorithms in your head and it’s fine because it can just be in all your head. As business unicorns has grown, the unicorn side at this current size. There are a lot of different people touching a lot of different things.

And there’s a lot of different ways that our members now can come to us to get support. So the systems we put in place, I think, to further systemize the playbooks. So you’re never making things up totally, but importantly, always pairing that with the one on one coaching, the biweekly group coaching calls, the Facebook group to make sure we’re working with you.

In an interactive way to customize it for you, I think has worked really well, right? Because I think making things up from scratch every time is probably not great, right? On the other hand, having everything cookie cutter with no breathing room is also not great. And think about it, it’s the same way for your gym, right?

And honestly, that is, I’ll say. I think we’re awesome at that. It’s [00:05:00] something that is not, I think, appreciated. I think it’s hard to tune. A lot of businesses is the operations piece. I think people think understandably a lot about marketing and sales. And listen to certain point. Yeah, you have to grow your business, but if you just focus on getting obsessed with the people you’re working with, the specific person that you are designed to help, and then just keep.

Just relentlessly aggressively tuning all the dials to make sure that it’s almost impossible for someone to get left behind to have a bad experience so that there’s no way to not catch somebody not having a good experience. That will be very good for your business. And I do think it’s something in spite of the growth that we’ve had, I think we’ve done really well.

And it’s part of why I think retention has remained super high, even though we’ve grown at the clip we have. Yeah, 100%. And I see all the time, the unicorns and members who come in, they learn the value very quickly of getting their processes written down and clear. It’s just that the idea that you get to really operationalize and scale your gym, you have to have clear expectations written for all the things that matter and you have to have [00:06:00] ways of testing it to make sure it’s consistently happening and I think you’re right that we’ve done a good job and we’ll keep doing an even better job of having some of those like Done for you processes, like first drafts of those processes ready for all of our members so that they can have a much faster experience than people who don’t join a group like unicorn society and getting their, their operations dialed in.

Yeah. I’ll say this another, speaking of our unicorn study members, I’ll share one from unicorn society and one from. Not Unicorn Society, but a lot of recent members who’ve joined Unicorn Society, a theme I’m seeing throughout some of my initial conversations and getting to know them is that they are pretty frequently overwhelmed as a business owner, overwhelmed as an entrepreneur and manager and leader of people.

And one of the themes I’m seeing about why they’re overwhelmed, why they are stressed out and not sleeping well is many of them don’t. Take very seriously their own self care. They haven’t put a lot of energy and effort into [00:07:00] taking care of themselves. And they’re working 30, 40 hours on the floor and still expecting themselves to also be a good spouse at home or a parent at home and trying to get in, run the payroll and do marketing and HR, in addition to working.

30 or 40 hours in client facing on the floor time. And they just haven’t yet come up with a strategy for how to take care of themselves in some of the most fundamental ways of making sure that they’re continuing to work out and eat well and sleeping well and have quality time for family and friends and have time for vacation.

And listen, I’m not saying that. Those things are so easy to do, especially when you’re growing a business and a team in the first few years, it’s really hard to get any time away. Hell, when we started MFF for years, we lived above the gym and had no separation between personal and professional. And I get that, but that period can’t last forever.

I see a lot of people stuck in that zone where they’re in that first year [00:08:00] sprint, but it’s year five and they haven’t found that balance yet of actually taking time away and days off and, and delegating. And we know there’s lots of things need to happen to step away a little bit, but I think that is something I’m seeing being really important in our work and helping folks who join Unicorn Society is helping them learn to take care of themselves.

You know, I don’t say that in like a flippant or judgmental way, but like truly helping that have someone on their side who’s like, it’s okay for you to take a day off. Like, how do we give you permission to take a vacation? Right. And having someone in your quarter to help you do that, I think is really huge.

And I’m realizing more and more how important our role is in doing that.

Yep. Makes sense. Yeah. What else? Other things you’re learning these days, Fisher? Okay. So here, let me talk about something that I wouldn’t say I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, because I can’t say that I was doing this wrong. I think, however, something I’ve learned in the past six months, if I’ve really [00:09:00] focused my full brain on business unicorns is.

I honestly think I was underweighting how important leads is to everyone. And as I say this, depending on what kind of a grizzled gym owner you are listening, you’re like, Oh no, I don’t. It is cliche, right? It’s the one thing all gym owners want is leads. And I wouldn’t say I was reluctant to talk about it.

It’s certainly no secret that you and I are very interested in the people stuff, right? I often think it like it’d start. It has to start with money, right? Until you have enough money, that’s existential. You have to start with money. And then this is not a perfect model. But once you have enough money.

It’s only about the people. That’s not the only thing that matters anymore because that’s how you like you keep the money or how you continue to make the money. And so much of your emotional experience is dependent. Am I having good relationships with the clients and the team? Am I creating positive impact on them?

And then of course, if you get through that, then we can start talking really about your own sort of personal freedom, but you don’t get there unless first there’s money coming in and you’re making impact and having positive relationships, interpersonal. Skills [00:10:00] and the money stuff has to come first, right?

Because if you, and admittedly, I guess if you’re terrible at interpersonal things, then it’s hard to have any success in the business. If just no one wants to be around you. But I think the, you can get by pretty far as long as you have some. Skill at basic customer service, which honestly emotionally is a lot easier because they’re the one giving you the money.

Yeah. It gets a little bit trickier once you need good interpersonal relationship and you are being held accountable for other people’s performance that you’re giving money. I’ll just say that’s going to feel very different to many of you. Having said that, I think. Although I was maybe slow to learn that lesson.

I think it’s something that has been very well. Uh, it’s I’m very clear on that’s the case right now. Also in part because we now have just have so many conversations with gym owners and that’s the thing, 90 percent of the time, what do you need? More leads? Because even a very big and sophisticated business, listen, even Mark Fisher Fitness could use more leads, right?

Do we have a lot? Yeah, but sure. More leads is great. And I think the result of that has been the gym growth. Blast off, which is the new 12 week program that is likely launched recently, depending [00:11:00] on when this podcast goes live. And we’re looking forward to that to be a regular part of the repertoire, not only for people that aren’t ready for, or not interested in the unicorn side to jump into, but because people in the unicorn side, he can now as part of their membership opt into this very intensive prescribed 12 week factory style thing where I’m going to soup to nuts and teach you and personally look through every nook and cranny of your lead generation, lead nurture and lead conversion strategies to make sure that you really know how to make it rain.

Because although money is important, ultimately that’s really just the first step, right? And we can’t help people. We don’t have clients, but at the end of the day, the, the metaphor I often think about is the money, the numbers of a business it’s air or food. If you want to use that metaphor, like you’re really in trouble if you don’t have air and food, but at the end of the day, If all you have is Aaron food, like that’s not the, that’s not the game.

And I of course would argue that’s a pretty imperfect metaphor for this because in practice, you’re also not going to be very financially successful if you’re not doing a good job with the clients. And if you’re not. able to [00:12:00] really support high quality people that are really willing to work with you and be paid by you to do what is often a gratifying, but often very difficult job that for most of our employees is not going to be making them super wealthy.

Yeah. I think it’s a great one for you to bring up. Cause I think a lot of our listeners, if they’re anything like the people who are joining unicorn society, they got into this work because they liked the work. They like the training and the customer service interaction, but they didn’t get into it necessarily because they love training and marketing and sales.

And so it’s very easy just to sweep aside that and get to that. When you get to that and I’m I’ll send some emails or when I have time, I’ll learn how to run a Facebook ad, but, but really what I keep learning time and time again, is that we need to help our members prioritize that and make that. Just not.

Just much, if not more important than delivering a quality service to clients, because without that flow of leads through the door, most businesses are just going to decline month. If you’ve got retention out the back door and no one coming in the front door, it’s just a recipe for closing. So I think it’s a, it’s an important lesson for everyone to learn.

They got to prioritize that lead [00:13:00] gen. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m excited that we have that resource. Yeah, 100%. I think we keep getting more, building more and more resources for that. And I think it’s, it’s exciting and blast office. Another is it is going to be really great for that as well. I’ll share one more.

Maybe this is a quick one, and this may be a hybrid of something that has come up that I’m learning in school and the PHA program I’m in, but it’s also, I’m seeing it in real life with Unicorn Society members. This is a hybrid lesson that’s been coming to mind recently, which is we help a lot of Unicorn Society members make.

Big change in their gyms from changing their pricing, to changing their models, to changing the kind of services they offer, to changing their staff and how they pay their staff to changing locations to there’s so much change that we help, you know, members navigate. And one of the kind of myths I think we’re fed in business, and I can look back and figure out where this myth comes from, that’s not today’s topic, but is this myth that change happens in a linear fashion.

Right that I do step one and step two and step three and step four and by the end [00:14:00] of those steps The change is over and done and I don’t have to look back and there’s no going backwards It’s only going forward and once I move through this linear change process, I’ve made the change and it’s never gonna Need to talk about that again.

And that’s true. Yeah. And we get so frustrated when we do have to go back for a few steps or we see as a failure, if we have to repeat any part of that process, we beat ourselves up. If it didn’t get the exact results we wanted to, after the first attempt through step one, step two, step three, and what I’m coming to learn both from.

A research perspective and my experience working with people is that change is almost never linear. It’s always cyclical, right? You’re always taking a few steps forward to take a few steps back. I think the more that we can set that as the initial expectation up front for ourselves. As leaders for our teams, for our clients, but yeah, we’re gonna take these few steps forward together, but then we’re going to pause and reflect on it and talk about it and see how that change is going.[00:15:00]

And we have to take a few steps back in the other direction, but that’s okay. That’s still forward. And then we have to go, we’ll make a different decision. And that kind of embracing non linear kind of like constant ever going change cycle, I think is even more important this day and age with things moving so fast.

Technology changing so fast competition coming and going and changing so fast in our space that I think we have to really embrace the fact that we’re always in some change cycle and it doesn’t always look like full momentum and that’s okay. That’s normal. That’s actually good. But the idea that, that we’re just always assessing and recalculating, I think that’s part of what owning any business looks like these days and to not beat ourselves up when we have to do something that feels like double work.

Does that make sense? Yeah, I think the not beat yourself up there is really important because I think that’s so much of the gain of entrepreneurship is just, it’s, you’re going to get beat up some days, right? Fully. Like I, [00:16:00] I’ve had great weeks this year and I have weeks this year where I’m like, what am I doing?

I think the difference is I’ve been doing this long enough now that there’s a little bit more distance between my consciousness perhaps and like the thoughts, but I think it’s important lesson, right? Cause it’s interesting too, even with like fitness clients, right? Where, you know, let’s say someone has like a fat loss goal.

and they’re celebrating themselves and they’re feeling all this momentum. It’s so exciting, but then they gain a few pounds back and it’s hard for them because they were waiting so much positivity and good affectation on the measurable progress for them not to feel like I’m failing because I’m going back the other way instead of seeing that’s just the way this works.

And businesses are very much the same way. A lot of business owners, Uh, can get, I think, overly identified with some weekly metric or your monthly revenue. And again, it’s not that you shouldn’t track those things. It’s not that you shouldn’t be, uh, you know, honest because sometimes things do start to trend the wrong way and you have to make adjustments or make some big decisions in some case.

But in practice, the more [00:17:00] you can breathe through the inevitable, more modest fluctuations, the better off you’ll be. In fact, one of my next tattoos I’m actually getting is of like a, a boom spiral upward thing. Um, Cause it’s always two steps forward. One step back. Ideally we’re going up into the right, but it’s just, if you look on a short enough timescale, you can always find, you can always find a timescale that looks like absolute failure down to the right.

I was just having this conversation with Ben today. I’ll have Ben Pickard, I’m talking about how we made some decisions at Business for Unicorns. So we knew like our profitability might take a dip for the first. Quarter or two of this month because we’re spending more on marketing. We brought out a bunch of new coaches and that’s part of the change is knowing that some numbers are going to look bad and having context for ourselves and communicating those expectations to the team helps it make it so that change is a little less scary.

It’s always going to have some anxiety surrounding it, but if you can set clear expectations that it’s not all going to be smooth, it’s not all going to feel like progress, I think the better off. Uh, I think it’s when we, we set those unrealistic [00:18:00] expectations that it’s all going to be smooth, like a straight arrow up into the right that we get disappointed.

Yeah, it’s very true. I think the other, maybe a corollary of this too, is also don’t be overly impressed with your own press when things are going up in the right. Maybe that’s a good advice now, considering this came out of having many consecutive months, and now I think, listen, years and years of each quarter, Biz for Unicorns growing, and maybe that won’t happen for forever.

And that’s okay, but maybe we should one, enjoy it now. And then two, not hold on to it too tightly because that’s. I think it’s a great sentiment to end on, which is we’re feeling great about where things are going. We’re so excited about business unicorns and where we’re heading and, and it’s going to continue to have ups and downs, like all of your businesses.

And we’re here along for the ride. Yeah. Yes. And we’ll be honest with you, every entrepreneur in the world. How’s your business? Great. It’s great. Is it always great? Every time that’s shitty, sometimes you’re getting punched in the face. Dear listener, if you want any help thinking through changes you’re making right now in your gym and you want to jump on a brainstorm [00:19:00] call, click the link in the show notes, come jump on this.

No obligations call with us. We’re here to help you make sure you have a clear plan for the next 90 days. And so take us up on it and we’re, we’re here to help. Thanks for a great call as always Fisher. I appreciate you and I’ll see you on the next one. Bye.