There is NO Shortage of People Willing to Waste Your Time…

I’ve heard them referred to as “time vampires.”  I like this description.  Those people all around you who love to suck out all your productivity.  They are your vendors, your unproductive clients, your neighbors, and even your friends and relatives.

You MUST beware.  Be very aware.  Because at any moment, one of them will latch on to your neck and not let go until you’ve realized that your day is gone, nothing got done, and you feel a little woozy.

This morning, it’s my heating and cooling company.  They come by twice per year to check the system and ensure it is functioning properly. 

I talked to the guy who comes two weeks ago.  He had called my home office by mistake (see what I mean, he has the wrong number on file) and wanted to come by “this afternoon” and check the system.  This is exactly how these time vampires operate.  They don’t manage their time well and expect that everyone else is living just the way they do.  It never occurs to them that you might actually have your entire week’s schedule and maybe even next week’s mapped out in advance…

I informed him that no one would be at the studio and that he should follow-up with my studio coordinator to set a day and time.  Of course, he hung up the phone and waited another two weeks to call.  Pitiful! 

Ridiculous and grounds for dismissal at this point.  I don’t take any sh… from vendors any more.  From anyone for that matter.  I don’t waste time.  I don’t have that luxury.

So, as you move through your day today, watch yourself.  These vampires aren’t so sensitive to light like the usual kind.  Heck, they’re not sensitive to anything or anyone.  They have only one mission in life.  And that mission is still a little unclear to me…

be a fitnessnomad…

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

Fitness Career Growth Does Not Come from Being Passive…

I had an employee barge into my studio this past Tuesday morning and quit.  He walked right in, placed some training materials and his key on my reception desk and said, “I’m done.”  “That’s it?”  I said.  “You have clients in your schedule this evening.”  “Did you get my email?”  He asked.  As if this would take care of any need for an explanation.

I discovered later that day that the email he was referring to had been sent at 9:30 PM the night before.  The email where he explained that he was quitting without any further notice.   It was only 9 AM in the morning the next day.

The truth is he needed to go anyway.  I was going to make sure of that once I had his replacement fully prepared.  He lacked the initiative I expect from the people who work for me.  Which is why I’m sharing the story with you here today.  This story provides a good example of why most people are not successful in their lives.  They expect the world to deliver them money, riches, opportunity, and anything else they deem important to them.  While at the same time not expecting to have to go out and get it – to make it happen.

Seth Godin, on his blog today hit it right on the head.  And his post was short and to the point, as any really good blog post almost always is.  So I have included the whole thing here to help make my point.

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The relentless search for “tell me what to do”

If you’ve ever hired or managed or taught, you know the feeling.

People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: “If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I’m safe.”

When asked, resist.

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The employee that dropped his key off on Tuesday morning was continually upset about how he was being compensated for his work (or lack thereof).  If clients don’t show, they pay the business anyway.  But I don’t pay the trainer unless they are productive during that hour.

In spite of repeated conversations and directions to this employee, he still felt that simply making himself available in the schedule to see clients was enough.  Even if he didn’t come in after the client canceled.  Now, you might be thinking to yourself…yeah, his time is valuable and he should be paid for making himself available.  And yes, I agree.  But once again, I still expect some work to be accomplished during that hour.

For example…what if during that hour this employee took some actual initiative and for every canceled hour decided to make phone calls to past clients of the studio and tried to sell them a KickStart program.  Do you think this might help keep his schedule a little more full so that cancellations did not become such a significant ‘burden’ on him?

Instead, the client cancels, he stays home another hour and works on another email to me about why he should be paid for the ‘work.’  Astonishing!

Every job I ever found and every accomplishment I have achieved, I earned.  I went out and got it myself.  There’s no substitute for this.  One of my first teachers in junior college taught me something I’ll NEVER forget.  It was a phrase she wrote on the chalk board that seemed to make no sense at all.  In fact, it was really just a series of letters…

TANSTAAFL

pronounced…”Tans-taffle”

It turns out it was an acronym for the following:

“There aint no such thing as a FREE lunch.”

If you’re a business owner, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you’re just an employee dropping off his key on a Tuesday morning, you probably still have a lot to learn…