The Fresh Aroma of Systems and How Systems Build Fitness Careers

I love systems and the nuances of business. All of it is so intricate, intellectual and profound in the way that it mirrors our skills, personalities, and our innate ability to solve problems,
overcome obstacles, and keep moving forward in new and improved directions.

The system I used to capture this idea is a perfect example.  The dictation software I used is an iPhone app called Dragon Naturally Speaking.  You open the app, hit the record button, speak your thoughts, and then Dragon generates text that you can email or text to yourself, or wherever else you might want it to go.  It’s beautiful.  Seamless.

I had just been to Starbucks to buy my espresso beans for the week, and had an inspiration during my exchange with one of the baristas.  As a writer, these inspirations are frequent for me.  Often, I’m writing in my head all day long.  It’s nice to capture some of those thoughts and ideas when I can…

I had purchased my own gift for Christmas this year – a really nice espresso machine.  I put down about one and a half months worth of lattes purchased over the counter and took hold of ‘Serena‘ and a new love affair began.  It has taken a couple months to build my own system around making lattes, but the practice of building this system has been well worth the work.  I now prefer my version of the latte even more than the one I used to ask the barista to make for me.  And it costs about 75% less!

As an aside, I encourage you to read, “Pour Your Heart Into It ” by Howard Schultz.  Howard is the CEO and founder of Starbucks and will give you a very close look at what it takes to build a true system and why it is vital to your success.  Not just your success as a business owner, but your career success in general.

OK, back to my story…

I have two Starbucks within my daily life radius.  There used to be three but as I heard someone say in an interview recently, the recent downturn in the economy has forced on all of us one giant enema, and ALL of the excess is getting trimmed down and eliminated wherever necessary.  And this will be good for all of us even though it might not feel like it right now.

Anyway, I’ve discovered that one shop does a much better job at grinding my espresso beans then the other.  And because I read Howard’s book, and because I’ve read many others that discuss the importance of a duplicatable system, I asked one of the baristas today why their beans come out so much finer, fluffier, and ultimately tastier than the beans I’ve purchased from the other shop.  “I buy my beans here directly as a result of this.”  I said.  To which the general manager replied with a big smile, “I don’t have any problem with that!”

Her answer was telling.  In fact there seemed to exist in the answer a sense of pride that resulted directly from the implementation of a system that they were proud to follow because of the results that it produced.  “We calibrate our machine weekly.”  One of the manager’s staff replied, almost before I could even finish asking my question.

Now, I have no idea whether or not the other store on University Avenue is calibrating their machine on a weekly basis.  It certainly seems they are not.  What it seems to me instead is that the shop out near my fitness studio is doing a much more effective job of following and implementing the system that has been created for them.  And as a result, I’m shopping there more often.

Can you see why I love these systems so much?

John

PS  I’ve created many systems in my businesses but so far the one I’m about to tell you about next is the one I’m most proud of so far.  It is the system I use to sell personal training at my fitness studio here in Madison, WI.  This system is so good, so fine tuned, and so effective that potential clients actually pay me to sell them training.  That’s right, I get paid to sell fitness training at my studio.  If you’re interested in reading more about this system, just follow the link below.  I’m planning to offer a very small teleseminar where I will give you this system…

Here’s the link:  CloseLikeANomad.com

Why are Man Hole Covers Round and How Does Your Answer Affect Your Fitness Career?

If you’ve read this blog recently, you know that one of my staff members quit abruptly and unprofessionally about a week and a half ago.  No big deal.  I’m over it, hired someone new and the steam engine keeps puffin’ out that pretty white smoke.  You can read the full story about by clicking here.

Of course, any time something like this happens it’s an excellent opportunity to re-assess on many levels all of the systems that take care of staff management, etc.  These systems are NEVER perfect and ALWAYS need more work, especially in my case.

You may have already heard the expression that “People Respect What YOU Inspect.”  And if you’re a studio owner or manager of anyone, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  For me, this part is difficult…there are so many other more interesting things I’d rather do than check-up to see if you washed the toilets last night.

Managing a lot of people is NOT what I do best and is NOT my preferred activity, EVER.  This might sound a little brash or insensitive.  Tough!  Over the last year I’ve worked very hard to contract my business model down to the point where it feels much more manageable, and where I can spend good productive time building my way into more and more information marketing.  From the day I started my first paper in graduate school, I have been madly in love with the work of researching, reading, and then writing about what I know.  This is what I like to do best.  I always will…

Still, I realize that I will always need a small number of staff members to help run my operation (which will always include the fitness part).  As such, like it or not, I’ve got to get better at managing my people.  But first, I need to make sure and hire the right ones.

Which brings me to my point…

Far too often in my own career I’ve experienced the job interview as a potential candidate and realized something very profound – most people doing interviews have absolutely no idea what they are doing.  Really, it’s true.  I learned early on that if I took advantage of my strong and intense personality, that I could easily take control of the interview and end up asking more questions than my potential employer.  Great for me, but not for the employer.

Remember, the person who is asking the most questions and talking the least is the person who is in control of the conversation.  So, as an interviewer, your first job is to Shut Up!

To keep you interested, I uncovered a list of really cool, fun and interesting questions that I encourage you to work in to your interviews.  It is just these types of questions that will tell you more about a candidate than any of the other basic ones.

In fact, my favorite question to ask, which tells the best story about a person is this one…

“What is your most powerful personal asset?”

You would be surprised at how this one weeds out the weanies.  I actually had one girl tell me that it was her “good looks.”  That experience told me that I needed to do better with my screening process but that’s a different blog post I’ll write another time.

In the mean time, be sure to check out these interview questions from Microsoft, Google, and IKEA.  They’re awesome!

Interview Questions from Microsoft, Google, and IKEA.

And here’s the one I promised that’s not written into that article…

“Why are man-hole covers round?”  I’ll look for your answers in the comments section of this post.

In the mean time, here’s a list of simple questions I use.  They get the conversation started and then I look for places where I can dig for gold…

“Tell me about yourself?”

“What are your strengths?”

“What are your weaknesses?”

“Have you worked with clients before. If so, What’s your favorite part of the work?”

“What do you like about working with people?”

“Why did you choose fitness as a career?”

“Why aren’t you in better shape than you are now?  And what do you plan to do about it?”  And how do you think this will affect your work with clients?”

“What is your most powerful personal asset?”

“Why should I hire you?”  (This one always tells me a lot about how good a salesman this person is and how well they can or cannot promote their personal brand)

OK, now go find some great people….ExerciseCareers.com is a great place to start

There's Gold in Your Back Yard…

I’m out in my backyard again on a Saturday morning – writing…

This time, there’s a giant new red shed staring right back at me. It’s not mine. I would never plant something so obtuse in my backyard. The new little ‘Red Barn’ (as I’m calling it) belongs to the neighbors behind me. I don’t like it!

That was my first reaction though. Now, I’m trying to embrace it’s presence, because like it or not at the moment, it landed here for a reason. Possibly, my guides decided that it was time my kids learned how to plant some trees, or learn new landscaping techniques. Because there’s no doubt, something will need to be planted to remake the view.

Or, there are other reasons I cannot see yet. And I suppose it’s possible that in the mean time, it makes damn good blog content 🙂 One reason is for sure – I’m listening…

As a fitness business owner, Dad, and Husband, I have much to balance in life. Especially when presented with big challenges like the ones I’ve tackeled in the last few weeks. Most present in my mind today is the experience of having to let a long time trainer go. I’ll share those details another time. For now, it’s important that my focus stays pointed in the right direction almost every minute of the day.

If you’re a fitness business owner, I’m know you can relate to the challenges. I hear regularly from many of you who share the passion.

One of the most important lessons so far, is the fact that as a business owner, you are no longer simply a practitioner of your craft. You are now a “marketer in the business of fitness.” This was an important lesson I learned when studying in the NPE program with Sean Greeley and Eric Ruth. Eric especially drilled this message firmly into my head. And since then, I’ve heard and read it in countless other books written by leading marketing experts.

The problem, of course, is that often, it is extremely difficult to manage my time effectively enough to take care of clients, staff, and my family. When days get long, and staff changes like the one that happened this week present themselves, there is not a lot of time left over in the day to craft effective marketing messages and get them out the door.

You can waste a lot of money in a short amount of time, sending innaffecitve marketing messages to the wrong market, the wrong media and with the wrong message, especially when you’re in too big of a hurry. That is why these headlines you read about promising to double your income in half the time are so compelling. And if you’re working at your business and studying the way I do, you find them everywhere.

I’ve said in the past that this does not mean that the programs behind the headlines are not for you, or that the content and the information is not excellent. Often it is, and as I said, I learned a lot from my work with NPE. The important thing is that you have to remember at all times that your business is YOU and your unique situation, and that any message you model, program you purchase, product you buy for business building, MUST be molded to fit your business, in YOUR market, and through the media that makes sense for YOU.

The most important thing you can do right now is to LISTEN closely to what your current clients are telling you. Because there is pure gold in there, right in your own backyard. And if you’re listening closely enough every day, you won’t even have to dig for it…

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If you’re interested, I still have a few spots available for my 30-minute consultation offer.  I promise that this offer will have to come down soon.  I’ll be entrenched over the next few weeks making up for a lost trainer and in working on the new products and services that are comine down the pipeline.  So, if you would like to take me up on my offer, you can use the order form at: http://www.WorkLikeANomad.com

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging…

My business coach recommended it was time I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” again. And I have to agree, she was right. It was probably 4-5 years ago since I last read this book and after running my fitness business for the last 5 years, my perspectives have changed dramatically.

I would say that “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is required reading for anyone who wants to be rich and successful. There is no substitute for a solid financial education. This book, and all of the other books that Robert has written are a great start.

I’ve read all of them and am working my way through again…

Click here for Robert’s Home Page and a good introductory video:

http://www.richdad.com/