Thomas Plummer

The business of fitness


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Living in Balance is so Last Century

Living in balance is so last century. If you want to reach the edge of your ability universe, sometimes you just have to let go of your routine life and surge.

I used to teach living a life in balance as part of the fundamental beliefs everyone should have in their life, along with such one-line wisdom as, “never wear a tie,” or “never hang out with idiots.” In fact, it wasn’t too many years ago I was still ending our workshops with a few minutes of final inspiration on seeking complete balance in everything you do illustrated by tossing a chair upside down on a table representing the four pillars of a balanced life: personal development and family, a sense of community, creating wealth in your life and the search for faith.

Living a life in balance means you stay grounded in these principles and honor each one as equal never letting one become more important than another. The belief is that if you move too far out of balance the universe will correct. Play too much golf and you lose your business. Do too much business and the family fades away. Spend your life focusing on nothing but money and you become poor in everything else. This concept is still true and you can achieve a quality life living this way, but the theory is also incomplete and won’t stand alone if you want to rise above being the average human being who lives, eats, dies and leaves nothing of value or no lives changed.

Looking back, I have to say that I was right on the concept of balance as the foundational concept, but I was wrong in believing that simply living a life in balance is all you need to achieve a life worth living. I have come to realize, through my own life and talking to so many I respect who live at a higher level, that if you want to accomplish anything of true substance in your life, and live up to your talent, you have to be in a constant rotation between a life in balance and a life driven by an intense surge and focus chasing something wildly important to you.

All this means is that once in a while, you need to move out of balance and surge spending a few weeks, months or even years laser locked on chasing your passion. Surging means you move out of balance and into a single dimension where all that is important for that dedicated period of time is accomplishing the goal. Once the goal is achieved, you back off and move back into balance taking time to heal your soul, grow your mind and recharge for the next power surge that will again move you ahead.

The idea of a dedicated surge is that your mind can only really handle a relatively few things at a time and if you want to achieve something of importance you need to jettison as many things as you can that will distract you from the energy and brain power you need to get things done. For most people, this means you move out of a broad based balance of floodlight into a narrow laser beam targeted at the eye of the needle with room for only your major goal and two or three other things of importance to pass through.

For example, let’s say you want to create a new business. As of today, you are that well balanced person who goes to work everyday, workouts, coaches his son’s games, is active in the community, golfs with his friends and pretty much lives the perfect life nicely balanced between everything that is important. But if you want that business, something has to go.

Opening a business, or writing a book, starting a new career, or focusing on a major personal challenge, such as training for a race, all require your undivided attention, especially if the business, book, career or race will be done at the highest level of your ability and talent. Remember the old adage, if it is worth giving up a second of your life to do, then it is worth overdoing. In other words, never, ever commit to anything if you aren’t willing to do it at a mind-blowing, full assault, take no prisoners intensity or you are just wasting your life and other people’s time.

If you commit, then surge and put everything you have into the goal, but keep in mind that you now have to move out of balance and into the laser light. In the example above, you may need to back off on the friends for a few months, quit coaching, set aside other projects that could eat up valuable brain wattage, and cut all external energy down to taking care of the family, keeping your job and eating. Sleeping of course, it totally out of the question if the quest is pure and the energy is focused.

Most of us settle into a steady state of balance as our default mode. We get fat and happy doing what we do and the routine becomes our balance. The surge is where your energy for life is derived from and everyone needs to find something in their life that drives them bat shit insane for at least a few weeks each year just to keep the mind sharp and the accomplishments in life at a higher level.

Remember your passion and remember that living in balance for too long leads to a mediocre life. Mediocrity is for unimaginative, the weak, the boring and the soulless, but passion is for the select few willing to get crazy once in awhile and surge. I feel it coming for you now; it’s time to surge my friends.


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Living in Balance is so Last Century

Living in balance is so last century. If you want to reach the edge of your ability universe, sometimes you just have to let go of your routine life and surge.

I used to teach living a life in balance as part of the fundamental beliefs everyone should have in their life, along with such one-line wisdom as, “never wear a tie,” or “never hang out with idiots.” In fact, it wasn’t too many years ago I was still ending our workshops with a few minutes of final inspiration Diesel+BE+STUPID+3on seeking complete balance in everything you do illustrated by tossing a chair upside down on a table representing the four pillars of a balanced life: personal development and family, a sense of community, creating wealth in your life and the search for faith.

Living a life in balance means you stay grounded in these principles and honor each one as equal never letting one become more important than another. The belief is that if you move too far out of balance the universe will correct. Play too much golf and you lose your business. Do too much business and the family fades away. Spend your life focusing on nothing but money and you become poor in everything else. This concept is still true and you can achieve a quality life living this way, but the theory is also incomplete and won’t stand alone if you want to rise above being the average human being who lives, eats, dies and leaves nothing of value or no lives changed.

Looking back, I have to say that I was right on the concept of balance as the foundational concept, but I was wrong in believing that simply living a life in balance is all you need to achieve a life worth living. I have come to realize, through my own life and talking to so many I respect who live at a higher level, that if you want to accomplish anything of true substance in your life, and live up to your talent, you have to be in a constant rotation between a life in balance and a life driven by an intense surge and focus chasing something wildly important to you.

All this means is that once in a while, you need to move out of balance and surge spending a few weeks, months or even years laser locked on chasing your passion. Surging means you move out of balance and into a single dimension where all that is important for that dedicated period of time is accomplishing the goal. Once the goal is achieved, you back off and move back into balance taking time to heal your soul, grow your mind and recharge for the next power surge that will again move you ahead.

The idea of a dedicated surge is that your mind can only really handle a relatively few things at a time and if you want to achieve something of importance you need to jettison as many things as you can that will distract you from the energy and brain power you need to get things done. For most people, this means you move out of a broad based balance of floodlight into a narrow laser beam targeted at the eye of the needle with room for only your major goal and two or three other things of importance to pass through.

For example, let’s say you want to create a new business. As of today, you are that well balanced person who goes to work everyday, workouts, coaches his son’s games, is active in the community, golfs with his friends and pretty much lives the perfect life nicely balanced between everything that is important. But if you want that business, something has to go.

Opening a business, or writing a book, starting a new career, or focusing on a major personal challenge, such as training for a race, all require your undivided attention, especially if the business, book, career or race will be done at the highest level of your ability and talent. Remember the old adage, if it is worth giving up a second of your life to do, then it is worth overdoing. In other words, never, ever commit to anything if you aren’t willing to do it at a mind-blowing, full assault, take no prisoners intensity or you are just wasting your life and other people’s time.

If you commit, then surge and put everything you have into the goal, but keep in mind that you now have to move out of balance and into the laser light. In the example above, you may need to back off on the friends for a few months, quit coaching, set aside other projects that could eat up valuable brain wattage, and cut all external energy down to taking care of the family, keeping your job and eating. Sleeping of course, it totally out of the question if the quest is pure and the energy is focused.

Most of us settle into a steady state of balance as our default mode. We get fat and happy doing what we do and the routine becomes our balance. The surge is where your energy for life is derived from and everyone needs to find something in their life that drives them bat shit insane for at least a few weeks each year just to keep the mind sharp and the accomplishments in life at a higher level.

Remember your passion and remember that living in balance for too long leads to a mediocre life. Mediocrity is for unimaginative, the weak, the boring and the soulless, but passion is for the select few willing to get crazy once in awhile and surge. I feel it coming for you now; it’s time to surge my friends.


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How Marketing Works

Retro marketing built this industry, but electronic marketing will build its future. Websites, blogs, social media and almost all other forms of electronic marketing change so fast it is almost impossible to keep up. TheImage coupon sites, for example, were a rage for about a year or two and then died. Writing about how to design a coupon would have been an exercise in futility since that form of marketing came and went before the paragraph could be written.

Keeping that in mind, we are going to focus on the theories you need to master that can be applied to any form of social media or electronic marketing that might arise in your future. Understand the rules and any version of the game you play will be easier.

The most important lesson you can possibly learn about electronic marketing can be expressed in another basic rule:

Hits, looks, likes and number of views mean nothing if you can’t monetize it

It is easy to get caught up in the grand game of social media. For example, where you sit in a bar and brag about the number of likes you have on your social media site. There can be great gamesmanship involved here but these numbers mean nothing if you can’t figure out a way to turn those likes into money. The ultimate goal of all marketing is to create interest, which attracts leads, which come to the gym, who become members and who pay you money for the results you will help him get. If this sequence doesn’t end with the getting paid part, then it was inefficient marketing that proved to be a waste of your time.

Here is the entire theory of electronic marketing in one simple chart:

Create content

Develop your own community

Gain influence by having a community

Make $$$$$

Creating Content

People love to learn, be challenged, be entertained and most importantly, people like to hangout with a lot of like-minded folks interested in the same things. All electronic marketing, and especially social media, requires you to supply an endless stream of content. Posting content on almost a daily basis gets people to your sites, and getting people to your sites regularly begins to build the community, or as the powerful writer Seth Godin refers to them, your tribe.

Content doesn’t always have to stem from you. You can repost other’s writings, find a tidbit in a magazine, recommend a book or video and a thousand other things that keep people coming to your sites each and every day. If you post a short informative tip on your blog three times a week, people become trained to go to your site during a break during their day. They will follow you because you are giving them information that somehow challenges their mind or entertains them and if you do this consistently you will eventually end up with a lot of people who care about what you say and now belong to your community. There is a rule of marketing for this thought:

You have to become the source on a specific topic

You can become the weight loss expert, the sports performance for kids expert, the overall fitness expert in your small town, the body weight training guru or just about any other niche you could imagine. You become the source, or the filter, which gathers information for his tribe and then posts the stuff daily that your tribe needs to see based upon you being the master of that niche.

If you own a mainstream gym, your goal is to build a site for your business, but you as the owner should have a site where you become the local expert on everything fitness. This gets you invited to speak at local groups, quoted in the newspaper as needed as a fitness source, and eventually drives people to your business because who knows fitness in this town better than you do, and that is proven by the last 300 post you have made on your sites.

There are rules for content and here are just a few:

You can challenge thought, but you should never insult, be mean or put down someone by name. If you disagree with someone, disagree with class and style and state both sides before making the position for your point.

Never post personal stuff. This includes not posting pictures of your kids, unless it relates to your fitness mission, your dogs, your family vacation, you drunk on a beach in Mexico, you and the buds in a bar or anything that might even vaguely distract the tribe from believing you are the source.

It is hugely important to note that a decade from now everyone who will ever consider hiring you or doing business with you will immediately pop your name into a search engine and go to all the social media sites of the age. What do you want them to see, and remember that anything posted never, ever disappears from the web completely? Many younger people in the industry cry that this is unfair and their sites are their own private business. This is true, except for the fact that any person in any civilized country in the world can see whatever you post, except for anyone in China, and nothing is truly private on the web. Post often, but post with the one thought that you are trying to improve your personal brand, not kill it.

Never repost without giving credit, but always repost with a comment as to why you think this is important for your community.

Post something fresh at least six days a week.

Use pictures and videos several times a week

Remember that every post either enhances your brand, or hurts your brand. There is little in between.

Post and answer the comments as best you can each day. If the community is working, you will start to see interaction and response to what you are writing. Don’t wait a week to answer. If you post something controversial and expect comments, be there to answer and redirect the issue if needed.

Consider hiring someone to manage all of your media. This can be done for as little as a few hundred a month or as much as several thousand or more. The bigger you are, and the bigger you want to be, means you may need help posting daily and gathering the material for the posts.

The Community

The content gathers the tribe. The community gathers around someone that pushes their mental buttons and keeps them challenged. Content and community are both in fact one big circle. You feed content; the community feeds back and around it goes again. The goal is to build a significantly sized group of people that follow what you do and what you write because you are the true source in whatever niche you choose to exploit.

The size of the community will vary from site to site and from niche to niche. One person might be a failure with 30,000 likes on his social media site, while another person might be wildly successful with 500 friends on his social media. Don’t overestimate the need to build the largest community you can in your market. For example, a small training gym in a suburban area that has 500 followers on his site is doing quite well and that is enough to eventually start to turn that number into guests and memberships.

Building Influence

Once you establish your community you now have influence, but what to do with this new power? Think of influence as power to move the herd.

For example, you’re a small country and you declare war on the neighboring country. You summon your army and five drunks show up with a few shovels and a club. This is going to be a short war and it will end badly for you and your army. But let’s say you are a bigger country and you now want your loyal subjects to gather. You notice that you have 30,000 likes on your social media page and you want to sell your first e-book for $1.99 just to test the waters. Your community of 30,000 likes is far more likely to give you back sales versus the army of five. Put another way, when an army of like-minded individuals band together, whoever is leading that army has influence to make change, both monetarily and through driving change in your industry or niche.

Make $$$$$$$

You have content in place that changes daily. You have built your community of followers. Your community represents a large enough segment in your niche where you can alter thought and drive change.

You are now ready to monetize the process.

There are rules to this of course. Here are a few tips when it comes to going after the money:

Do not, and this means DO NOT, try and sell anyone anything until you have at least provided content for six months. Stated differently, build your community slowly without asking anything of them.

Once you starting asking for something, only do it once out of every 7-10 days. Don’t pound your tribe daily. Give, give, give for a week or so and then ask for that e-book sale. Give, give, give and then sell that trial membership. Build slowly and sell even more slowly.

Occasionally give something away free just for being part of the tribe. At least once a month, give everyone who follows you a free something, which is usually some short PDF tip sheet or informational piece. Create one of these a month and recycle each one the following year. You want, you want, but you need to give a little to your followers.

Here is an example of monetizing a social media site. This gym had 1,400 members at the time and had about 900 followers on its social media site. This tribe of 900 was a mix of members in the gym along with other people in the community that followed often due to the health and fitness tips that were posted daily along with the videos that showed workouts you could do at home.

The gym’s manager ran a post after about six months of gathering the tribe that said, “Post a video on this site in the next 30 minutes of you doing a burpee anywhere on the island and if you are a member of the gym you will receive 30 days of training valued at $300 for you and 30 days for your guest. Non-members, if you post you will get 30 days free to the gym, which includes a full training package for you too.”

The gym received 38 posts in 30 minutes. Out of the 38, 21 were members and the gym gave away 21 months of training and 21 guest months to the members to use with a friend. Remember the part from above where you need to reward the tribe with something free now and then. The other 17 posts were guests for a free trial month. In other words, this gym generated 38 guests in 30 minutes at no cost. Also consider that this gym uses primarily group training and another body in the groups doesn’t really cost the gym more money to service.

Another example from this gym was the use of the community, and the influence with this community, at generating revenue for the gym. The manager went to the local sporting goods store and asked the manager there if he would run a special just for the members of the gym, which is only about a half mile from the store.

The manager agreed since he had to do nothing. The sale was set for Friday from noon to three. All members of the gym would get 30 percent off shoes if they presented their membership cards. On Thursday night, the gym’s manager sent out a social media post stating: “special flash sale just for our members. Go to Freddie’s sporting goods from noon to three tomorrow and get 30 percent off any shoe in the store by just presenting your membership card.” The store sold 78 pairs of shoes. The gym’s tribe was rewarded for their loyalty and support. Most importantly, the gym’s manager could now ask $500 to run the sale again since he had proven he has the influence to drive customers to the store. Everyone wins and the community grows since friends refer friends who don’t want to be left out of these great special offers.

This formula as stated above applies to all electronic media since the basic progression is always going to be the same. Marketing electronically isn’t hard if you have a plan and if you realize that everything has to lead to the ability to capitalize on your influence at the end of the day.

 


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The Burnt Out Lie We Tell Ourselves

There comes a point in many careers where you get up, hit the shower and find yourself leaning face against the wall with hot water Imagerunning down your neck for an extra 10 minutes stalling to face the inevitable day at work. Unless you have a shower buddy in there with you, this is the day you need to consider quitting whatever you call work or a career because you are longer going to be any good at what you’re doing for a living. You are also wasting a day of your life, destined to be repeated, for as long as you continue to let yourself shower in misery, which eventually results in the loss of the most important asset you own…your life.

The mistake is that you should have never allowed yourself to get to that point in your life. How and when did you lose your passion for what you do for a living? If you ever had it. How did you ever let the world take it away from you? Worse, if the work you are doing isn’t important to you then why are you still doing it? Lost minutes in the shower often lead to lost years trapped doing work that is meaningless. Your life’s work defines you in so many ways, yet choosing work that forces you to find ways to avoid it drains you of your best years and most creative energy. You are not the work you do, but you often live your life by the quality of the work you choose.

Here are five questions you need to ask yourself if you are the person in the shower:

1.     Are you living your dream or someone else’s? We too often end up doing work that is part of someone else’s dream. You find a spouse, the spouse has a good job in that area and you then take a job that isn’t firing your passion, but it keeps you fed. You spend a few years doing this and your dreams vanish to be replaced with someone else’s, and if you lose that person, you now are often too late to reach back and rekindle that passion that excited you and your dreams earlier in your life.

Your first realization has to be that what you are doing is not what you were meant to do. Of course you have to make money out of whatever you do, but you can’t change lives when you are the person that needs taken care of in life. So the first question really is: whether the job you are avoiding was your choice, or did you commit to something that allows someone else to live his or her dreams while yours are lost?

2.     Are you in a job you should have never taken? You would not be the first person who spends years preparing for a career that turns out to be a bust. And there are still many more people who take what appears to be a dream job and then find that it just isn’t what it seemed to be from the outside. These people refuse to leave due to pride or embarrassment and end up equally trapped doing work that never delivered on its promise.

If you picked badly, run away now. Admit the mistake and move on now. Pack up your bags and move on now, or at least as soon as you can get other work that moves your career ahead. Remember, every job, certification or course should only have one purpose, and that is to move you closer to your dream. If isn’t doesn’t move you forward, then don’t do it.

3.     If not this, what else would you do? This is my favorite and the most common complaint. Owners or senior people rack up years doing what they wanted to do and then mentally just quit. You can almost tell the exact day it happens. The first thing you hear is, “This would be a great job if it wasn’t for those f%^&*ing clients.” Or “I can’t deal with another person in my face bitching about the same old thing.” The second indicator is that their business begins to immediately fade. The place is dirty, the paint is outdated, the staff is undertrained, if trained at all, and finding the owner actually in the business working would take Sherlock Holmes.

The question is now what will you do? If you worked this business for years, what else would you do or could you do to make the same amount of money? Walking away only means you will again become trapped in yet another business, and this time it will happen sooner. You forgot how to work and you forgot the pleasure work is supposed to give you.

This is sort of like the old married guy who is forever in love with a super model in the catalogue. He dreams of her, buys her pictures and has a secret crush on her for years, but he never learned the most important thing; your dream is someone else’s pain in the ass. The point of this is that if you don’t learn to find a way to make yourself happy in the business you own now, then running away to another business will never change that failure; it just perpetuates you being miserable somewhere else doing something else.

4.     Can you find a different way to get it done? This is really part of the question above. The burnout of an owner or senior manager is often the failure of his management style. If you do the same thing everyday for 20 years you will hate it, but who said you have to do the same thing for 20 years. There are too many owners that cling to the images of the past. “You can’t teach me anything new, I was making money doing this way 20 years ago.”

Yes, you were wildly successful 20 years ago, but how is that working for you now? Everything changes in the world. Businesses come, businesses go. Technology changes daily. The consumer changes, grows and becomes more sophisticated. The market you are in changes too with new competition we couldn’t have imagined even a few years ago. Yet there you stand, too cheap to paint the place and too lazy to sit down and reinvent your business.

Your business didn’t fail you, you failed it and it is amazing that people who are making a lot of money seldom ever complain about being burned out.

5.     What have you done to reinvent yourself in the last year? We all used to be somebody and back in the day I am sure you were the master of all you surveyed, but what have you learned today?

Part of burnt out is that our tool kits start to deteriorate. Ten years ago you were a master salesperson, but now those pressure tactics just make potential clients laugh and walk out. Fifteen years ago you used to be a master trainer, but now there are workshops that teach more in three days then you have learned in those last 15 years. You fail because you cling to glory days instead of admitting you don’t have one clue left in how to do things anymore and that the world has past your lazy ass by.

The perfect example of being trapped by former glory is the 40-year-old trainer who learned how to train during the bodybuilding craze. His solution to every training situation is the application of technology that is older than he is and isn’t every coming back, but to let go of this he would have to attend a workshop and admit that he needs to start all over again and reinvent himself.

Sometimes letting go of something is the most powerful move you can make. Remember that life is about going forward, not living back in the day when we were all young, beautiful, smart and rich, at least in our heads.

People fail to change because the perceived risk is too high so they cling to everything that fails and then here comes that perception of burnout. If what you’re doing isn’t working anymore, and you won’t change because what you might do might not work. This circular thought leads to a person freezing in place and while we might call it burnout to be nice, it is really just a nice way of saying you are going to avoid your problems until they take your business down.

If you are in the trapped, burned-out avoidance crew, sit down and spend a few hours with someone who cares and ask why? You will find that there is fine line between being a crispy piece of toast and a productive passionate person totally laser focused into making money and changing lives, and in kicking a few assess a long the way. Come on, get your ass out of the shower, it’s time to go live the dream.


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A Prayer for Those Who Care

ImageThe holidays should be a time of reflection, but we are often too busy with family, friends and work still undone to sit and think about the year and what we accomplished. This is a time to be grateful for who you are and what you do for a living. What you do looks so easy from the outside and yet is so hard from within. You are responsible not only for your own well being, but you have to take care of so many other people who look to you as a guide and coach. What you do matters, and if you do this for a living somewhere you were given some special talents to accomplish the difficult tasks each day.

People who live within the fitness world often gain a sense of spirituality that they don’t always think about or discuss with friends over the occasional glass of wine, but the perfect workout with friends could easily be viewed as a spiritual event that brings you closer to a universal truth. Fitness is motion and motion is life as life was intended to be. It doesn’t matter who or how you worship to most people, but it does matter that you are on a path that constantly leads you to seek a higher power in the universe.

The touch of spiritualty that someone living within fitness often feels comes from the ability to take what you know and do and change someone else’s life. Because of you, other people are better, and by any definition, of any religion, when you leave the world a better place due to your presence you have gained an understanding of the spiritual side of the universe.

What you choose to do for work in your life should matter to other people and what you do should make a difference in the universe. This is a prayer written for all of you that get up every day at the first light of dawn, kiss the family goodbye and then set out to help people who struggle in their lives reach goals and find happiness through simply feeling better about themselves.

 An Open Prayer to the Universe

Allow me the knowledge and the power to change lives and help those who trust me with their lives find the happiness that comes from the simple pleasure of being a healthier person

Guide me to always do the right thing with the people who seek my help and to keep my ego and personal agendas out of my teaching

Help me always remember that small steps are important and any change is valuable in someone’s life if that change is a positive step forward

Please help me remain patient and nurturing for the people who fail on their journey

Grant me the means to keep doing the right things and to be able to support and protect my family through the dedication to my dream

Please help me be a friend and guide to those around me who are also on the same path and are seeking the same goals in life

At the end of each day please grant me the knowledge that what I did made a difference and everyone I touched left a better person because of my efforts

And at the end of my days, please grant me the privilege of looking back and knowing that my life made a difference and I did not waste the talents given to me by the universe.


 Take a few days off; you earned it. Sit quietly and think about the good you did this year, the people you helped and the lives you changed. There is a new year coming and 2014 will bring many more people into your world. Your job is very simple: you exist to change lives and no one does it better than you.

“Happy Everything,” and thank you for the friendship and support over the years. ~ Thomas Plummer

 Originally Posted – 12/19/2013