I never received a business degree.
Instead, I opted for the life of an actor: 5:00 AM auditions, below sea level wages, no health insurance, and the constant flux of moving from one place to the other.
It was all worthwhile because I was pursuing the noble profession of Shakespeare, and suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune while working in a cupcake shop in the middle of NYC is how it’s supposed to work, right?
We suffer for our art for as long as we can.
And it turns out that length of time is about a year for me. Which is how I found myself seated behind the front desk at an office, scouring the internet (namely Reddit) for hours at a time between calls that would come in.
Here’s the quick TL;DR version of the next few years: I realized how out of shape I was, joined a gym, and started reading about fitness in order to have more effective workouts. From there, I got in crazy good shape and along the way, fell in love with fitness and decided to pursue training as a career.
There’s a bit more to it than that, but you’re busy, and it’s all on my website, so let’s get to the point, shall we?
Joining A Mastermind
My degree provided zero foundation for the business world, much less the world of internet entrepreneurs.
In the words of Ygritte from Game of Thrones, “I know nothing.” Or at least knew nothing, or very little, until I joined the RFS Mastermind.
When it was announced about a year ago, I figured, “What the hell,” and threw my name in the hat for consideration. Why wouldn’t I?
I’d already considered John Romaniello to be my Brobi-Wan Kenobi for anything fitness related since I’d read his book and was able to make such drastic changes to my life, so learning how to grow a business from him was a no brainer.
After applying and getting accepted, I immediately become infected with a crippling sense of fear and doubt.
What if all this doesn’t work out? What if I find that I have no business being around this group? Oh god, what if it all implodes, life laughs at me, and I have to go back to sitting at a desk working on spreadsheets and handing out TPS reports?
Luckily, none of those fears came to fruition. The last year has been eye-opening and challenging — as a business owner, yes, but in every other aspect of my life from personal relationships to my creative process to my general mentality.
These are the 7 game-changers I learned, all of which can be successfully applied to any career.
1. Make Good Art
Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech has long been one of my favorite videos to watch online; I’d seen it at least a dozen times before I started the Mastermind.
Once I was in, though, it was the first thing Roman posted for us. And he continued to post it or reference it every chance he had.
A few years ago, there weren’t very many people offering online fitness coaching — the ones who did are now some of the most successful pioneers in that realm. But in 2016, however, the online coaching market has become far more saturated and it’s only adding more people to its ranks every day.
Search #coach or #fitnesscoach on Instagram and everyone with at least a four pack of abs is offering their coaching services.
Since our first meeting, we were told numerous times, “The cream always rises to the top.”
No matter the industry, that statement will forever be true.
You can’t be mediocre, and you can’t build a career only writing articles about IIFYM.
Writing about fitness is great, but more people will find you intriguing and worth following if you write the truth and leave your heart on the page.
As Neil Gaiman’s says, it’s imperative that you make good art, and references his first book, which he says was a failure:
“I decided that I would do my best in the future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money, then you didn’t have anything. If I did work I was proud of, and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.”
Write–bleed on the page–about the deepest most meaningful things. People want to know that you’re human and not a fitness robot. Because anyone can write about squats, bench presses, or fat loss.
Only you can write about your experience. And people aren’t buying coaching, they’re buying coaches.
2. Get Dressed Everyday
Most of my work is done at home. I have a few in-person clients where I live, but for the most part, I’m in my home office or at a coffee shop grinding.
It’s tempting to wake up and never change out of your PJs. That’s the dream, right?
But the clothing you wear that day has a massive amount of influence on how you feel. Put on a tailor made suit and you’ll feel like a million bucks. Put on the pair of pajamas or lounge pants and all you wanna do is grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, fire up Netflix, and binge Buffy the Vampire Slayer all day. (Perfect day to me, but not conducive to being productive.)
Do you work from home? Good. Put on clothes and dress like you’re going to work.
Your productivity will thank you for it later.
3. Time is Money
I don’t need to go into much here because the sentence below is all you need to know.
Time is the only non-renewable resource in the world.
Energy, passion, creativity, money, love: all of it can be recouped.
Time, on the other hand, is gone. Once it leaves, there is no getting it back.
Protect your time, especially your creative time, at all costs.
4. Learn About Marketing
The only marketing experience I had before all of this was the time I got hired to act in a Public Service Announcement for the city of Greensboro, N.C.
So, yeah. I wasn’t exactly a pro.
Before the Mastermind, copywriting terrified me; it felt slimy and disgusting; it felt evil.
As we studied good examples of copywriting, I discovered it was a tool.
And you know what else is a tool?
A wizard wand. And if you’re a wizard, you can either use that wand for good or evil.
The choice is up to the person who’s wielding that wand. Thus, the blame is not on the wand or tool, but the wielder.
Good copy will make a sale; great copy will make many. Leaving this important tool on the sidelines because it feels icky will prevent you from growing your business and further diminish your chance of providing a meaningful service.
5. Be Better
This touches back on making good art, but it also digs deeper than art and content itself.
Yes, the game is getting a lot more crowded and today, getting to the top is going to take a lot more work.
There are far more megaphones for everyone to scream into with social media, blogs, podcasts, and video; the airwaves are clogged. If you want to stand out, not only do you need to be different, but you need to be better.
Everything you do needs to be better. And I’m not only speaking about being a better writer, coach, or content creator. You need to, above all, be a better person.
Go above and beyond your client’s and fan’s expectations.
Show people you care. The end. There is nothing more important than that.
6. Unasked Questions Never Get Answered
Being good at math has always made me feel smart. I opted into every advanced and higher level math course that was offered during my formative teenage years.
I had a small problem, though, which in retrospect has haunted me ever since.
Accepting I’d made a mistake on a quiz or a test was one thing, but nothing was more agonizing than sitting at my desk and debating whether or not I should raise my hand to ask for help.
My mind would swarm with self-doubt: I’d sit at my desk and brood on a level that even David Boreanaz would find impressive, falsely accepting that I was too dumb to ever understand.
During the Mastermind meetups, I realized that even if the question seemed dumb, it was better to ask it than not.
We’ve been told this all our lives, right? Well, finally it’s sunk in.
Asking questions is the only way get the answers you need to become a better businessman.
No one’s going to make fun of you for asking a seemingly simple question, and more often than not, I’ve found that I’m never the only one in the room with the same query.
7. Your Network is Your Net Worth
In the world of business, I may have been a level zero noob, but thanks to my podcast, I’ve been able to interview and connect with the top fitness professionals in the industry.
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavor, especially if you work from home all day and night by yourself. Most of the world has no idea what it’s like to deal with the strains of running your own business.
Enveloping yourself with those of the same ilk provides you with a larger network, but more importantly, it allows you to learn from other’s mistakes and failures.
A strong network not only provides you with the chance to improve in areas that you are lacking, but it can provide you with opportunities that otherwise would have never happened.
I can’t tell you what it’s like to be around a ravenous group of entrepreneurs sitting in a packed conference room for nearly 12 hours, ready to devour all the information they can to take their businesses to the next level.
There’s an energy that pulsates throughout the room. It infects everyone and if it wasn’t for the need to take breaks, most days would run until midnight (or at least until the bourbon runs out).
I wish I had words to describe what it’s like on those days. But honestly, it’s something you have to experience.
8. BONUS TIP: How You Do One Thing is How You Do Everything
This phrase isn’t new, but after hearing it repeated so many times over the course of the year, it’s finally attached itself to my brain and influences my thoughts and decisions every day.
When I make my bed, write an email, style my hair, — even during a conversation with my wife — I’m reminded that how I do one thing is how I do everything.
Every year, John Wooden, arguably the greatest basketball coach of all time, would begin each season’s first practice by teaching his players to properly put on their socks and tie their shoes.
It sounds outrageous, I know.
What 18-year old man wouldn’t know how to put on his socks and lace up his sneakers? But that wasn’t the point for Wooden. He knew that poorly tied shoes and loose socks, meant his players were more likely to get blisters. Blisters would influence how his players played and could even keep them from playing.
To you and I, that may seem extreme. But it’s those little details that helped Wooden win 10 out of the 12 NCAA championships his team took was a part of.
Wooden has been quoted as telling his young players that learning to do this seemingly simple act was the first lesson in,“Everything we would need to know for the rest of our lives.”
May the Hustle Be with You
Pausing for periodic reflection is important no matter where you are in life. A year after joining the RFS Mastermind, not only can I say I learned the valuable lessons above, but, even more important, I’ve tripled my business.
For any entrepreneur, that would be huge, but what I’ve really gained out of this experience far exceeds monetary value.
In the last year, I extended my network within the industry, made some incredible friendships, become a stronger writer, and yes, grown my business. But more than any of that, I’ve shared experiences with other hungry, hardcore hustlers that have unlocked uncountable areas of growth within myself.