Episode 306

Mark’s Most Painful Lesson of 2023 with Mark Fisher

In this episode, Mark Fisher joins me to talk about his most painful lesson of 2023.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friends on this episode, I’m speaking with Mark Fisher. And in this episode, he shares his most painful lesson from 2023. And I’m not going to spoil it for you. I’ll let him describe what it is. So you got to listen to it, but I’ll give you a hint. There’s a lot of tips in here for you about how to manage your time more effectively.

So if you suck at managing your time, this is a great episode for you. Keep on listening, my friends.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. 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.[00:01:00]

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. I’m stoked today to be here with Mr. Mark Fisher, because today is all about the most painful experience you’ve had in 2023, Fisher. And I love talking about your pain. We all do. Everyone does. Pain equals ratings.

Before we get into your therapy session here today, we have, we have an exciting, also maybe like never before done thing coming up where we’re actually. Selling for the first time and making available to all of you, a course that historically has only been really available at least the last bunch of years to unicorn society members.

And it’s about time management is a course that is essentially all you describe it. So what’s this course it’s time management for gym owners. So what’s that involve? It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a very well named course if you ask me, but basically it is a course that is soup to nuts, how to manage your day, how to get more done in less time with less stress and still get better results [00:02:00] through effectively mastering the best practices of time management.

And importantly, it’s all done through the lens of a gym. owner. So although a lot of the principles are broadly applicable, if you happen to be a carpenter or a refrigerator repair man listening to our gym owner podcast, you might actually find benefit too, but it is very specifically designed for the specific challenges, the requirements, the schedule needs of a gym owner.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed all the time, if you’re finding you’re never getting to the end of your to do list, if you find you’re not exactly sure how to prioritize things and you feel frustrated at the end of your day, what you want is to have a system. That creates games you can win. And this has been one of the most well reviewed courses we have in our arsenal to Kira’s point, we’ve actually never released the videos before.

So for limited time only by February 9th, you can get lifetime access for 50 percent off. So if you’re interested in finding out more and snagging access, go ahead. Click the link in the show notes, but remember that the price goes up after February 9th. So do it soon. Yeah, I just want to underline that we’ve been doing a [00:03:00] version of this course for many years and it’s the one that consistently gets some of the best reviews and outcomes for people who take it.

So if you know you suck at organizing your time and you’re always spending time on the things that don’t fucking matter, please do yourself a favor, take this course, click the link down below, get it before February 9th for 50 percent off. Um, you’ll be so glad you did. All right. Well, let’s dive in. Let’s talk more about kind of time management because you had a real painful lesson in 2023 that was really about how you were spending your time.

Before we get into the pain, one more delay is we’ve been talking a lot about personal management, self care, time management. Personal productivity for many years. This has been like a topic that you and I have both been deep students of for a long time. Can you just say a little bit about like where your passion about this topic comes from?

Yeah. To me, it seems that this is the most foundational question, which is how are you using your time, right? So I think anybody that has a passing awareness of the. [00:04:00] Finitude of the human experience knows you’re not here long. You’re, it’s going to be a lot shorter than you want. It goes faster than you could think.

So to me, being intentional about how we’re using the time, I think is super important. If anything, it’s been interesting to as somebody that reads lots of time manager books, I got to say Oliver Berkman, I think is his name, a writer wrote a book called 4, 000 weeks, which I think is a very important contribution to the topic of time management.

And I do think as a total straw man, because this is somebody that used to write about time management. The thing I think is sometimes not helpful is on the one hand, time management correctly should be criticized if it’s really just about squeezing you into the output capitalist meat grinder and you’re really only doing things because you’re trying to make more of whatever your widgets are per day.

I think we should all criticize that. I think that’s appropriate, but I think good time management definitionally is not about that. Certainly not the way that we think about it, which is you start with your values, you start with your mission, you start with how you want to live your life, and then you do so [00:05:00] intentionally.

So this is not necessarily about I’m going to keep working 50 hours per week, but now I’m going to get X percentage more work done. It might be I’m going to actually work 35 hours per week and still get a little bit more done because I’m being so efficient, so effective. And then I’m going to take that extra time, that Delta, and I’m going to hang out with my kids or I’m going to go on vacation or I’m going to read a book or I’m going to do something that’s nourishing and enriching.

And two, I know a topic that you hammer all the time. The types of things also, frankly, as leaders, you really have to do if you want to show up at your very best because your behavior is always leaky and contagious. So strangely, I think this is an argument for time management as a foundational thing that a leader needs to have their arms around.

Because if you are stressed out all the time because you’re disorganized. You feel like you’re not making any progress, you are constantly dropping balls, that’s not going to have you in good stead to your clients, or your team, or frankly for that matter, your clients, or frankly for that matter, your family.[00:06:00]

Yeah, 100%. I think it’s really well said. And I think there’s a really powerful analogy here that, that time management is a kind of a life skill, that when you do create really good habits over time, it has all of these trickle down effects on your life. Personally, unprofessionally, and the analogy of that to fitness is to your physical well being.

It’s very similar. The way we talk about fitness is that you want to create habits that when you find the right, the sweet spot for you, the right actions, behaviors at the right time, the right pulse consistently, and it’s all these tremendous trickle down effects. So it really is a foundational kind of routine to find in your life that when you find it.

So much becomes unlocked, so to speak. And so let’s talk about what happened to you in 2023. I don’t know. I’ll just tee it up with this. What happened to you in 2023, Fisher? Yeah, I don’t know. I’d be curious. What do you think happened to me? You were there. Yeah. My sense on the inside, though, I’d be concerned, certainly curious to hear your perspective on the outside, but yeah, it just hit my wall.

I just, for really, honestly, one of the [00:07:00] real first times in my life and career, maybe I got to the point where I just couldn’t outwork. what was on my plate because I, for better and often for worse, can just go into this over functioning mode where I’ll just go in hyperdrive and I’ll just get up earlier, I’ll work later, I’ll work on the weekends.

and I will go very fast, right? Now, something that has really overall worked for me, though it is a strength that can be taken to its extreme and then become a weakness, is I do think I have an unusual ability to go very fast and get a lot of work done and have it all be like pretty good. And I’m not like, I’m not somebody that never ever drops the details, but overall, I can do like a ton of pretty good work at a very unusual pace and that has worked very well for me and create a lot of opportunities.

However, there’s still only so many hours in the day. So this fall, just to set the scene, I had moved back to New York City part time. My wife and I were figuring what do we do with this house upstate that we love, but also we have to [00:08:00] manage. My wife is back working full time. in a Broadway show for the first time since the pandemic.

And for those that don’t know, for you non Broadway fans, it’s very gnarly to be in a Broadway show. So she’s working six days a week. She, the show is in rehearsals and then the show is opening and she’s doing the press junket. Our daughter who we love and adore is now really popping, right? She’s 15 months now.

Some both demanding in ways that are like awesome, but also very challenging. We’re navigating childcare in the city. And not only that, but all those things in themselves would be, I think a little bit of a thing to navigate, even if I only had one job, but I had three jobs for a while, right? Which was trying to help.

Yeah. Help is the good word. I don’t know. I was doing an amazing job of it, but doing my best to continue to lead MFF and support the leadership team. They’re doing my best to support a lot of opened up a franchise with my partner, Greg, and we were opening up our first location. And of course, when you open up any location, the first of anything, there are going to be some things that balls don’t bounce the way you want.

So that [00:09:00] also wound up taking out a little bit more time than anticipated. And then the really wonderful challenge, which I blame you. Listener is busy for unicorns. Suddenly start really getting some very intense headwinds and we really want to leverage those opportunities. So all of that to say in brief, I was just a, it was everything everywhere at all at once, like I remember at burning man, there was this funny moment.

So a burning man story, not a long burning man story, but there definitely were like a couple of times that burn this year in August of this year where I literally found myself. In tears, I’m looking around at Bernie, man. I’m like, I have everything. I have everything I’ve got the career. I’ve got the Hudson Valley house.

I’ve got the apartment. I got the wife. I got the baby. I’ve got the 40 something guy with abs. Let’s go. And unfortunately, I have everything and I have it all at once. And that has been amazing. And it has forced me to do to take some of my own medicine again. Because the thing that I now, and I’ve [00:10:00] always known this to be true, but the thing was so clear to me is I had a real capacity limitation that I frankly just almost never ran into that wasn’t to say that I never had periods where I didn’t get burnt out or I didn’t have periods where I was working.

Ridiculously silly hours, but particularly before you have a kid, particularly when it was really only one business and not having the cognitive lag of toggling back and forth between three different ventures. It was a really difficult time to really explore my own limits. Now I’ll say this, the things that.

You know, as we move maybe towards both some of the things I did as well as something that you might want to consider if and when you found yourself in the same place. The first thing I got to say that I think was helpful was acknowledging it was not good, right? Being candid with the people that I worked with and acknowledging that, Hey, I am Drowning right now.

Overall spirits are good. Not in the best place because I’m not liking having to get to the computer at 5 30 in the morning and go till 7 38. And then also in general, the thing that became really valuable for me [00:11:00] was, frankly, without getting like to like legit therapy or just explore some of my more compulsive tendencies, which have broadly brought me a lot of professional and financial success.

But I think I’m now really getting curious around, okay, what is actually is the cost? Because I have a wife that’s incredibly supportive and permissive. I have a lot of people that I work with that I keep myself in a pretty good place. They tend to benefit from my, at times, very manic energy. And it just, at this point in my life, I don’t want to say I’m done.

I want to keep growing, but we’ve built some things now. We’ve built some things. I’m not saying I’m like, Oh, now I’m going to really lay back and take the foot off the gas and just coast. Not that at all. But at a certain point, I do think you really do have to start enjoying the fruits of what you’ve done and not.

be working all the time to say nothing of the fact as we get older, your physiological energies do start to change. You don’t have all the gas that you did anyway. So that is, I think I’m sure we can tease apart some things that listeners could potentially consider doing or applying. But yeah, curious if you have any follow up questions or anything [00:12:00] else you’d like to emphasize about that tale of woe and send challenges from the fall.

Yeah. Listen, I appreciate you sharing it for sure. Cause I think it’s great for our listeners to hear that someone who can. Who’s even capable of creating a course on time management is also capable of being bad at time management sometimes. And not that you are bad at organizing yourself, right? It’s just what you wanted for your life was suddenly got to the place where it was mismatched with the commitments you had made.

And like, yeah. It’s going to happen. That’s going to happen. Life is always in seasons and you just found yourself in a season where you were drowning in the commitments you had made. And so I guess before we get to solutions, which we absolutely will, I would love to just talk a little bit about what were some of those like early warning signs for you that like the tide was rising?

Like, what were the things that you were experiencing just either mentally, psychologically that were telling you like, Oh crap, this is getting to a place where I have to switch course. Yeah, I think for me. [00:13:00] One of the things we really emphasize in the time management course, which overall is a thing I usually do very well, even when I really have a very full plate is I.

More often than not, win the games, right? Something we always say, you want to make games you can win, which is basically another way of saying, you want to have a reasonable enough set of goals for a given day and a week and a month that it’s some challenge to do, because it’s not fun if it’s not hard at all, but also is in the realm of possible.

And for me, I think it was when I started seeing that, okay, I’m actually not getting to all of the things. Now, to my credit, The time management skills still were worthwhile because I was able to clearly communicate with other people. So one thing that is a skill set that really served me well in that moment and probably did a lot to help preserve the relationships was to always know what I was trying to get done so I could communicate to people if timelines need to change or also like asking for help, which I think at this point in my life I tend to do a better job of.

So that was one piece. And I [00:14:00] think certainly like another piece was just my experience of work. It just wasn’t as fun. And I think the other thing that I didn’t really have any way of quite clocking was the combination of being back in New York City, the extra demands on my time of social opportunities, which was part of why I moved back, but I was now having to turn down Everything.

I’ve not even really seen my friends that much. My wife being back at work a full time was also, in retrospect, I’m like, of course you idiot. Of course it’s an issue. But I don’t think I understood, whoa, the Broadway schedule is literally opposite to my schedule. So if I’m crashing at the end of the day and I only see her two nights a week or in mornings and I have to work a lot of those times.

That’s not going to work for me, because my wife, that’s the foundation, that’s the bedrock of my life, so if she and I are not feeling connected I think she and I are both very reasonable people. I think it’s part of why our, I think marriage works unusually well. I think we have, I would say realistic expectations of what anybody can [00:15:00] expect from another person.

I think that’s an important thing to successful marriage. It’s, I think not always grasped, but nonetheless, even with that, I think it was clear really, okay, we really don’t have the time to be with each other. And of course in final, the the kid thing definitely is a thing too, right? Because any parent listening, here’s like the epitome of being a parent, right?

When you’re with your kid, you’re feeling like a little stressed about some work stuff you maybe could be doing, or maybe feel like you should be doing, maybe even like really want to do. And then if you’re with work, doing work stuff, you’re feeling crappy because you want to be with your kid, right? I think there’s an art there.

I don’t know that there’s a, yeah, I don’t think there’s like a right or wrong there. I think that you have to get a sort of values conversations. And I certainly don’t mean to make it sound like I’m. I’m gonna be very clear, like, I’m not complaining about my life, like, I’m, we, she and I are very fortunate.

We have a lot of resources, like, this is all a very solvable thing, but I imagine there’s people listening that can resonate with a lot of this and frankly are maybe not in a situation to make some of the choices I’ve been able to. Use those resources to opt out of a lot of things, but yeah, but that’s, but I would say if [00:16:00] you’re feeling any of these things where this is resonating, that’s a sign that there’s maybe some things to explore.

And I think I hear echoes of that, those early warning signs almost every day talking to our Unicorn Society members. And the two things that you said that I hear almost every day is I’m just not having fun. Like work is at the point now where I’m not enjoying it. I may be even senting it or looking, not looking forward to going in like that happens a lot.

And the other one you mentioned, which is. Just have more on your plate than you could really accomplish even at your high level of proficiency and effectiveness And I hear that all the time from unicorns any members that like I just that sense of I’m always behind I’ll say cool. What are you behind?

What do you mean by I’m behind and they’ll say like I just have more than I can do And I say, okay, how do we change that because you’ve set up a game here that you can’t win You said expectations for yourself that you can’t reach, so you have to change the game, right? It’s not always a matter of just getting more effective.

That matters to a point, but at some point the rules just have to change if you’re going to be successful. So if you’ve [00:17:00] gone months and months of never being able to check off your to do list in a day, you have the wrong fucking to do list, right? And so there’s has to be some conversation about. The system you’re using to set expectations for yourself.

And that’s exactly what you described. So let’s switch to solutions a little bit. So you already started sharing a few, which is like share with people around you that things are not looking great, that I might need to extend deadlines. I might need some more leniency here, more time here. Aside from that, what else did you do that helped you turn a corner?

Yeah, I think certainly after admitting the problem, which of course, always the first step, I think. In addition to letting people know that I was going through a little bit of a challenging time and to ask for a little bit of grace and patience with me, I started making moves to get things off my plate.

So the dumb, obvious thing that I did is the same thing we tell everyone to do, which I go back to again and again. Admittedly, it’s usually not quite this. of a mission critical requirement, but it’s literally just make a list of what are my [00:18:00] tasks? What are my responsibilities? How long am I spending per week?

How valuable is that for the businesses? How much do those tasks or even manage relationships? How much are they filling me up or how much are they challenging me? And then just come in with a hacksaw, right? Because here’s another, I think, thing to be. understood, which is true that I think sometimes it feels like more of a bear than it should.

You do need some time, right? So I think one thing that is true is that once you’ve dug this kind of hole for yourself, in many situations, you’re not getting out of that by the end of the week. Like you’re going to need some time. If you’re going to delegate more to other people, you have to train them.

There might be a period where you just have to hit the gas harder to get out of it. And certainly that was the case for me. But I think just knowing you have a plan and knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Can help because I gotta tell you now, like my calendars, I can free that look at my counter.

It’s great. I have time. I don’t feel like I have to sprint all day long every day. I’m not like Indiana Jones with a boulder coming at me as I’m sprinting to the end of the day, which means that I just like what I’m doing a lot better and [00:19:00] I would probably argue my work is probably a lot better too, particularly because for those of you that have a lot of creative things, which by the way is anybody listening does anything that’s marketing related.

There’s a certain artistic element to that. And if you’re just grinding through it, holy cow, or if you’re like training down sessions and this is the energy you’re bringing to your clients, like it’s not going to go great. I think identifying what you’re doing, identifying where you can make changes and then making the plan.

for making those changes, which in, for some of you in some cases, and I think it’s another bear sometimes might mean you might need to make a few less dollars for a little bit. So the reason why we’re fan of making sufficient money with your gym, making enough profit, because I know this is an issue.

Some of you probably feel you’re like, Oh, I cannot make. a dollar less than I’m currently making. That’s going to present an issue, right? You not only need time capacity, a certain point you do need a little bit of money capacity. And in some situations you, I’m not saying literally this, but maybe I’m not saying this.

Some situations you’d be better just putting on your credit card, just going to debt for two to three months and just digging yourself out. [00:20:00] So you have more time to do the things that are going to drive the business forward. And so that you’re not completely losing your mind, working untenable amount of hours because most of you, And admittedly, like my situation is a little bit different.

So I not only had more resources, but I had to get like higher level things off my plate. It wasn’t like most of my day was administrative stuff. A lot of you listening, it’s things that you really don’t need to be doing and you could replace for a minimal hourly amount for a competent person that’s either someone who’s already on your team, could be a fractional person you work with online.

It is the, there’s never been a better time to find people online and take things off your plate or in some cases is even bartering with your clients. I think that’s, it’s so true for sure that I think your solution will have a lot to do with what resources you have access to time, resources, money, resources, in some cases, patients, resources, how well organized your SOPs and systems are, but listen, when we talk about doing a kind of a time audit like this and thinking about what you can off your plate, the thing I’ve always found very helpful, which we talk about in this course that [00:21:00] Mark’s going to be doing are the four D’s, do, delete, delete, Delegate and delay.

And I think thinking through your tasks and using those four D’s has always been helpful to me because the thing that people often forget is you can just stop doing some things you can just stop, you can just delete the task. So often we get so precious that, Oh, we’ve been doing it this way for so long.

Or I always do this. What would happen if you just stopped? That’s an option to consider. And in many cases, I. Talk to people all the time who are just shocked that they stopped doing a thing. And no one noticed they delayed it. They went from a thing that they do every week. They just kicked down the road.

Now they just do it once a month or they delegated to someone. And it was, they got someone to do it for minimum wage. And so I think there’s, there are solutions to clearing your plate and sometimes. The biggest barrier is people’s discomfort with change that you have to get over. If you’re going to dig yourself out of a hole like that.

And yeah, I think that’s a great story to wrap it up Fisher. Any other kind of words of wisdom on this topic as we bring things to a close? [00:22:00] Certainly. I do think like at the risk of being obnoxious with the plugging, I do think it’s very much worth considering going and checking out this course. If this is something that you think is a pain point for you, because I do think another thing to understand is.

If you’re never having periods where you’re feeling you’re grinding it too hard, that too is maybe something to explore. And listen, again, we get these values conversations, right? So I have a lot of ambition for what I want to do professionally, the way I want to impact the world before I die, frankly, even ambitious for the type of husband and father I want to be.

And that’s going to mean there’s going to be some moments where I’m flying a little too close to the sun. And I think I’m okay with that. So I’m not suggesting for me, the The preferred path is not I’m always going to make sure I’m majorly under shooting so I know I can get and I never run into this issue of pushing a little too hard, but conversely, on the other hand, if you’re always pushing it too hard, if you are going months, years at times, feeling the way I felt for a couple of months over the fall, [00:23:00] that too is really worth exploring, right?

And not only because even if it’s not about your own experience, and I would argue you Are worth it. Like your own experience is enough of a reason to consider changing that, but because one, you’re not going to get the results you’re looking to get with your gym and then two, you’re not going to have the impact you want to make on the people you love.

Because again, as the leader, your behavior is contagious, your, your emotions are leaky. So you know, put on the old oxygen mask first. And then, and I think if you’re looking for a very tactical ways to do that, perhaps you’ll consider taking our course. We’ll leave it there, my friend. I know you and I can talk about this topic all day, but I’ll leave you, I’ll leave everyone with the same thought, which is go take time management for gym owners.

It’s 50 percent off till February 9th. The link is down below and we promise you it’ll help you level up your ability to fulfill your life purpose and mission with less time and less stress. So go fucking do it. Thanks for a great conversation, Fisher. I’ll see you on the next one. Bye.[00:24:00]