Hustle

Onward

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Six years ago, God blessed me with an amazing opportunity to begin working with Forrest [Walden] and the Iron Tribe brand. In 2011, I got the chance to open up the second-ever Iron Tribe gym on Highway 280 in Birmingham, and then in 2012, Forrest invited me to join him as an equity partner in the entire brand, as we began to open up more of our own gyms and launched the Iron Tribe Franchise partnership opportunity.

I’ve had a ton of fun laboring each day with our team to serve our franchisees and gym members at Iron Tribe locations across America – as our footprint has grown beyond 40 gyms in 15 states, impacting thousands of lives and winning some pretty awesome awards, like the most recent INC. 5000 honor as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for the third straight year!

As fun as its been and as thankful as I am, I’ve decided to accept a generous buyout for my ownership in Iron Tribe, and thus, I am stepping down from my role as President. I’m confident that this a great decision for me as an entrepreneur, my family and for the Iron Tribe brand. I’m still as bullish as ever, on the growth ahead for Iron Tribe and extremely excited for Forrest, the Leadership Team and our franchise partners, for what lies ahead.


I will remain a part of our brand as a client here in Birmingham, along with my wife Yazmin, based at the Iron Tribe 150 community. I’ll be at our annual TribeCon Franchise Conference as an attendee, to be there to visit with our franchise community and support our leadership as they take Iron Tribe to its next phase of growth.  

As I move on to my next chapter, I reminisce with some of my favorite moments from the past six years;

 

I’ll never forget the first-ever workout at the first-ever Iron Tribe.

 

Standing at the freshly built Iron Tribe 280 location. The second-ever Iron Tribe gym!

 

This was the original Iron Tribe Headquarters – 400 Sq. Ft. of beautiful space! This was some operations training I put together before we opened up our third and fourth Iron Tribe gyms in Birmingham!

 

Forrest and I traveled to Phoenix for Infusionsoft’s annual conference, as finalists for the Small Business iCon award. On the same day we opened up our fourth gym (Iron Tribe Mountain Brook) and launched the Iron Tribe Franchise model, we won this award as Infusionsoft’s top user in the world!

 

Especially as our team continued to grow, it became harder to get everyone together, but that much more special when we could. Here is the team from the first four Iron Tribe gyms and our growing corporate team, at one of our awesome annual Christmas parties.

 

We’ve been blessed with a lot of smart entrepreneurs around us, to help us learn and build systems, tools and solutions to scale Iron Tribe more efficiently. This picture is with Dave Lee and Brad Martineau from Sixth Division, where we built some awesome examples of just that.

 

I never knew my broadcasting skills from my younger days, could come in handy in business. But our growth at Iron Tribe has given me the incredible opportunity to get on stage in dozens of cities and talk to other entrepreneurs. Something I get really charged up on doing!

 

Last year, I got to dust off my coaching skills a bit, as I went on a “President’s Tour” and visited Iron Tribe gyms all over the country. I got to coach with our teams at each gym, as well as meet clients and hear their Iron Tribe stories!

 

Forrest and I were able to do the first visit on our respective CEO/President Road Tour, together. In Tuscaloosa, we were able to lead a team meeting with franchise owner Kevin Gann and his entire team.

We’ve been coached by some amazing experts. Most recently, we spent the last year or so getting coached by Dave Ramsey and the guys at EntreLeadership, who have taught us so much about leading and learning as an entrepreneur.

 

Rarely did we ever miss a workout while on the road growing the Iron Tribe brand. I think I’ve hiked up Camelback in Phoenix, at least 5 times. The first one was with Forrest in a really tough time in my life (had just lost my mom). I’ll never forget this hike. We dreamt big.

 

We established our Leadership Team 2.5 years ago. Every week, month, quarter, etc., we get together to work on the things it takes to grow our brand for greater impact. What an amazing team!

 

The first-ever TribeCon annual franchise conference. This even brings together our brand ambassadors from across the country, every November. I’ll be attending the fourth annual TribeCon this year. Can’t wait to see everyone!

 

What an amazing opportunity. God has truly blessed me. Iron Tribe is bigger than I, and will continue to grow and impact folks without me as President. I’m so very thankful for the opportunity to have served for the past six years and help this brand get to where it is today. Thank you Forrest, Leadership Team, Franchise Partners and especially our members across the brand; you were why I worked as hard as I could for this brand and I hope I can do so again in my next chapter.

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Hustle

Be/Feel More Productive By Scripting Your Day

There is just something about a pen and paper, that is classic, creative and enjoyable. You get to carry it with you and reference it, add to it, present it to others, etc.

Most people who are around me, classify me as a “tech savvy guy”, thinking that I prefer devices like a laptop or smartphone, to view and edit my documents I’m working through. They’re actually incorrect in their assumptions, however, as I actually enjoy a printed out set of materials to take notes on and work through individually or with my team. 

However, I don’t like my obsession with paper and pen so much that it is more important to me than my time and convenience.

Sorry I’m not sorry. I’d rather have more time and be more efficient in my personal operation, than carry around my paper and pen to meetings, take notes, and then at some point, type those notes into live documents, emails or wherever else they might be required for me to send out on the web. It’s double-work that I avoid at all costs.

If my tasks and notes are hosted in the cloud, I can access them on my laptop or smartphone, copy and paste them wherever I need to [into emails, company systems, etc.], and my life is just easier, while I am much more productive.

Thus, I’ve created a cloud-based personal system to manage my tasks, my projects and my notes on a daily basis, that has continuously evolved, especially over the past five years, as new tools have been developed and released (ie. Evernote, Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox, etc.).

I’ve been asked by my team, franchise partners, and various leaders of different organizations that I mentor or consult with, to share this personal system.

For now, I’m going to focus on breaking down my task/project management system and the simple tools that you can leverage to make it work for you.

  1. Choose a cloud-based app, where you can apply this task/project-management system, and make sure you’ve downloaded it to your desktop/laptop and your smartphone. For me, this is Evernote, but you can also use Google Drive or any type of live document create/edit system that is hosted in the cloud.
  2. Create a new document [or note] and name it so that you know it is your task/project management system, along with locating it in a folder or notebook (tag) that you create and title, so that you can easily find this document multiple times per day, whether you are on your smartphone or desktop/laptop.
  3. Inside this document, create a table with three columns and two rows (NOTE: both Google Drive and Evernote have a table icon or menu option, that you can click on to create a table, and then the application will ask for your number of rows or columns, when you click on it). Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 8.41.01 AM
  4. Using the first row, name your first column “A – Execute Today”, your second column “B – Execute In The Next 1-2 Weeks” and your third column “C – Execute In The Next 30 Days”.
  5. The second row is where your tasks/projects will be entered, based on the urgency of each. If its a new item that you know has to be done, but you won’t get to it today, you can put it into the second column (“B – Execute In The Next 1-2 Weeks”) or third column (“C – Execute In The Next 30 Days”). If it’s something you want to get done today, you can obviously put it in the first column (“A – Execute Today”). 
  6. The objective to achieve is simple; layout all of the tasks/projects that you currently have listed in a vertical, linear-fashion on your legal pad, journal or whatever you are taking out and writing on, and move it into one of these three, non-linear columns that will dynamically help you prioritize your tasks. Then you can continuously add new tasks or projects that come your way, by taking out your phone or going to your desktop/laptop, to enter it in the respective column where it belongs. Because you’re entering it into a document you’ve created that is hosted on a cloud-based application, you now have the ability to access your ABC task-prioritized list anywhere from your smartphone app or desktop/laptop.Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 8.40.20 AM
  7. The most important part – WORK THE SYSTEM. At the end of each day [this means every single day – from now on], you must be in the habit of moving your task/project list right-to-left and adding all new items that come your way, to this list in its most-relevant column. The end of each day means that time is moving forward and thus, your C and B tasks/projects need to move to the left, so that are eventually an “A – Execute Today” task item. This allows you to close your day out strong, not feeling like a failure because you still have this crazy-long linear list of things you didn’t do yet, which remain listed on this same page of your legal pad or journal. Instead, you can end your day knowing what you did, and you are now ready to “Crush It” on a clear set of items tomorrow! Each new day has a script for you to execute on!

NOTE: For projects that have their own set of tasks, you can create a separate note or document that contains these tasks and even uploaded media (pics/vids), and then hyperlink this note or document back to the listed project on your ABC Task list. This is advanced, and I think you should refrain from doing this at first. However, if you’d like, I can break this down in a separate blog.

FAQ’s

Do you want me to actually take my smartphone out in front of people to take a note? 

YES. Explain that you are taking a note, and hope that you’ve build the trust where they don’t think you are on Facebook! Otherwise, you are relying on your memory, or pulling out something to write on. To me, it’s not worth you forgetting and there is not much difference in pulling out a notebook to write on in front of them. However, if you are in a formal meeting, go back to the pen and paper so that you can stay engaged and note things as they come, without disengaging. Then, immediately after your formal meeting, type what’s relevant to your task/project note in your cloud-based app.

How does my calendar and any calls, meetings or appointments factor into this system?

Great question. If you want to put calls, meeting and/or appointments into this list, just for context, that’s fine. But ultimately, you will want to put any prep required for a call, meeting or appointment, into the A, B or C columns, with the specific reference of what prep needs to be done and maybe even a reference to the date of the meeting in ( ).

Ok, I get that. But whether I’m keeping my tasks on a legal pad or with your system, how do I figure out when to get these things done, a midst all of the calls, meetings and appointments on my calendar?

Another great question. Create calendar events, just as you have for your calls, meetings or appointments, but call the event “Evernote Task List Block” or whatever you’d like to call it (I call it my “Evernote Wins List Block”) so that you’ll know what it means when you see it on your calendar. Then, copy + paste the specific tasks from your list, which you want to get done in that time block. Paste those tasks into the notes field of the calendar entry, so that it is clear as day, what you have to execute on in that time block. Assuming you have your calendar translating to your smartphone and note just your desktop/laptop, you now have these entries available on demand in a live format from the cloud as well! You’re paperless, organized and calculated!

What about personal tasks?

I put all tasks on here, so if there is a dentist appointment I need to have scheduled or I want to spend time with my daughter going through a test she took, it lives on this list.

What about standing tasks that are repetitive?

I have a top and/or bottom segment of each column for these standing items that will be repeated, such as daily tasks like my morning workout, supplement intake, reading/prayer time (not a task but an important habit), etc.

Why not use an established task management system like Trello?

Those systems are awesome! I feel like they are not as easy to scale to the average individual who just wants a simple, cloud-based document of text to work off of, copy + paste from, and ultimately be able to create, edit and develop regularly. However, if you already use one of those apps to accomplish the objective I’ve stated in this blog, stay with it. Don’t switch to this strategy. You’re already advanced.

Do you want to “get advanced”?

If you want, I can talk about some really awesome spin-offs in a future blog piece. Two examples of this, are;

  1. My daily journaling system that you can develop off of this daily task system (essentially copy and pasting the tasks you executed on today, before you delete them forever, and making it a journal entry where you tell a quick story of your day).
  2. Breaking tasks that are essentially there own project, into a separate, hyperlinked document or note, that has media uploaded (pics or vids) along with further notes required for you to play your role in executing on that document.

Until then.

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Film, Hustle, Journal

I Thought I Had Lost My Identity

The Montevallo March To GloryIn 2003, Bob Riesener, the winningest college baseball coach in the state of Alabama, retired after 1,000+ wins and 30+ years as a head coach at the collegiate level. Just a couple years earlier, Coach Riesener recruited me from Syracuse, NY, to attend the University of Montevallo (UM) with an athletic scholarship offer and a chance to live out my dream to play college ball in the south.

I worked my butt off in the summer of 2003, both at home in Syracuse, NY and taking summer classes at UM, not knowing who my new coach was nor how he would come in and lead us versus what we were used to.

Then, I got the news that our new coach would be Greg Goff, the pitching coach from the University of Kentucky and he was bringing an assistant with him from NC State in Jeremy Browning.

These guys came in an put us to work in a way I will never forget, running us hard in the August heat, working us out in the gym to limits I didn’t know I could reach, and teaching us skills on the field that made us into a decent team that would set the stage to help the program reach the NCAA Division II World Series just a few years later under Goff and Browning’s watch.

Many guys didn’t make it through that fall, but I did. And I was better for it. They taught me a whole new level of excellence, work ethic, and overall leadership, that is engrained in me as a man and will be forever.

Unfortunately, for me, I didn’t get to play more than a season for Coach Goff, as I experienced a second labrum tear in my right shoulder and was left with a decision to finish out my final year at UM in an unfamiliar place, as a student-only instead of a student-athlete, for the first time in my entire 21-year-old life.

I was depressed, asking myself what exactly to do with my time and my life, now that I was not playing the game of baseball that led me to trek 1,000+ miles away to Alabama from New York, in the first place.

Now, this truly is where I began a journey that showed my only true identity being in Jesus Christ, but that’s not the point of this post, even though I could tie every post back to that Gospel truth.

Instead, this post is about the journey that I went on in my final year as a Broadcast Journalism student at UM, to co-found a TV/Radio network (The Falcon Network), which still exists at UM for students to run and broadcast live streamed events; something that was new and cutting edge back in 2004.

The Falcon Network is where I would broadcast 100+ live sports events and produce 30+ televised sports shows. I had to raise money, sell sponsors, hire student-workers, buy equipment, learn the engineering side of editing audio/video, lead my team and of course, be the face and talent of it all.

I was the guy on press row, broadcasting the games live while holding a miniDV camera (Gen Z doesn’t even know what that is) to film it for my post-game highlight show. It was humbling but also quite exciting, because I didn’t know where it would lead me.

Many of my teammates and friends were wondering what the heck I was now doing with my life and why I was so passionate about going back to my dorm room or the Mass Communications editing suites to work on my “projects” all the time.
I had caught a “bug” for the creativity of it, and I was addicted to it.

I thought it was leading me to ESPN or something like that, which it actually did for several years to provide credibility to my first entrepreneurial venture.

But ultimately, it led me to entrepreneurship and a desire for autonomous creativity and leadership of a team for a purpose, which is something I continue to get to do for a living just 10 years later.

So in the summer of 2004, after our UM Men’s Basketball team, under the watch of Danny Young, turned the program around from four wins total, to win their first ever conference title and a berth into their first-ever NCAA Division II Tourney, I had no choice to go back to the footage and map out a documentary of this story.

I took the summer to travel around and interview the players, press and even stay in NY’s Brooklyn projects in the housing for a week, where the team’s point guard lives.

The film was packaged up as The Montevallo March To Glory and I was even able to attend the Ivy League Film Fest at Brown University, where I was honored in the Documentary Film Category.

I’m not going to go deep into the story because you have the film to watch for yourself, but the film’s storyline (second chance guys coming together to change the face of the UM Athletic Program while transforming their own lives forever) and the creation process that went into making the film, had changed my life forever.

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Hustle, Mentors

My Friend From Central New York – The New SEC Commissioner

Greg Sankey and I met about three years ago at our Iron Tribe 280 gym in East Birmingham.

Since then, I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, not only through Iron Tribe, but also through our Church at Brook Hills.

Greg has character, integrity and an overall work ethic unlike almost anyone I’ve ever been around.

On top of our Iron Tribe and Brook Hills synergies, Greg is also from Central New York, growing up in the Auburn area of Upstate NY and even beginning his career as the Athletic Director at Division I Colgate University.

So, after several early morning coffees and workouts together, over the past few years, where he mentioned he might have a shot at becoming the head guy for the most powerful college sports conference in America… It was a proud moment when I saw that become true.

Here is my sit-down with Iron Tribe athlete, Brook Hills church member, Upstate New Yorker, and the new commissioner of The SEC… Mr. Greg Sankey.

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Hustle, Journal

Four Months Into 2015 – We Gotta Keep Up That Mo!

dream-control-expectations

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short stint here on this amazing planet, it’s the fact that the default state of my human psyche is doubt, fear of failure and avoidance of regret. We regret our mistakes twice as much as we relish successes.

This message is a chance to speak out to anyone else who wants to battle that default state with some serious determination to succeed!

I’ve also learned that, to achieve goals, set productive habits and ultimately to reach the dreams we’ve set out to conquer, there must be a building of momentum or “MO” as we called in the dugout whenever we wanted to get a rally going to comeback and beat our opponent. MO can be the catalyst to your success, but it could also work against you, as a deterrent that overwhelms you to the point where you decide not to take action.

This message is prepared to provide a plan to get you out of your seat, to take massive action in combating any negative MO, to redirect it into a positive flow that will get you climbing the mountain to reach the summit of dreams you may have not even defined as of yet!

Earlier this week, I was walking into my office to crush another awesome day of creating fitness communities that change lives and I looked down at my iPhone (I tend to do that a lot :)). I was SHOCKED! It wasn’t the time that surprised me, but the date – we are already four months into another calendar year! That’s one sixth of the year; GONE.

But is it really “GONE”? Or have you and I invested these first two months of days into actions that will produce fruit in our personal lives, professional careers and spiritual echos into eternity??? Surely we both have individually done this with the first two months of 2015!

When I realized the fact that one sixth of 2015 is gone,  it reminded me to do a monthly I exercise that I have found essential for me to celebrate wins and learn from my mistakes. I want you to try it to!

Simply spend 30 minutes writing in your journal, on a piece of paper or, if you’re like me, in your Evernote app on your iPhone.

FIRST, list out your Accomplishments from the past month. THEN, list the lessons you have learned over the past month.

Finish the exercise by answering this question; In what ways are you progressing toward your priorities for 2015 and which goals have you already achieved thus far?

For those of you that have set goals for this year, I highly recommend that you take the 30 minutes it will take to reflect this way monthly – it will only remind you of what you have already accomplished or still need to, while also reinforcing some of the things you’ve learned in your experiences this year.

However, if you have not set goals, there are no worries… My goal setting workshop that I hosted earlier this year for a group of Iron Tribe athletes at our Downtown Birmingham gym, will take you through the process of setting Annual Priorities, Quarterly Tops and Monthly Goals.

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Business, Hustle, Seven Takeaways

The Networking Connector

You’ve heard it a million times; “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

So true. But what does that really mean for you and I anyways?

How can we live this out?

How can we focus on the things that will help us not only know lots of people, but know the “right” people in regard to whatever it is we are trying to accomplish with our lives?

And how can we leverage those relationships to be a blessing to others, while also experiencing the benefits of their network too?

Here’s what I’ve learned…

1. Take Diversified Initiative.

I say “diversified” initiative, because your presence in different places with different people, is really the first foundational step.

To fully diversify your initiatives as a networking connector, you must make sure you are spending your time in different geographical, socioeconomic and industrial environments.

He who can be more multidimensional; wins.

2. Be Memorable.

Presence is key. Your ability to make people feel your presence when you walk into a room, before you even speak, is the type of stuff that makes your memorable.

This comes from the swagger you walk with, the carefree smile you maintain and even your fashion, or confidence in it. Not everyone has these inclinations, though.

So you ability to say memorable things, but be your crutch instead. Start by asking a lot of questions to get people to talk about themselves. Then weave the things they are saying into things you’ve experienced or things that have happened in history, to establish not only your understanding of what they said, but your emotional relation to each thing they’re talking about.

3. Think Big.

The best visionaries can see things that most can’t. It causes them to make decisions 99% of us wouldn’t and take risks that most everyone wouldn’t take either.

You can follow the majority and look at each conversation you have with anyone at any time of day, as a chore OR you can live by my networking connector principles and really look at every single relationship as a step or connection that enhances your larger network.

To do the latter, you have to constantly think BIG and remind yourself that all of these conversations are all small pieces that work together to build a network that creates less and less degrees of separation between you and the people you need to know to accomplish your big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs).

4. Lever Your Network.

If you want to meet and connect with new people, you have got to make it a habit to connect new people to those who fit them well within your own network.

This isn’t a “get” game, it’s a “give and take” game.

The best part is that the people you are connecting your new acquaintance to, will appreciate this too. So much that they will usually reciprocate with new connections from you that you may not have even planned.

5. Borrow Their Network.

This step alone, is a 200-300 page book I’d like to write one day. Here’s the short story;

I grew up going to Christian Brothers Academy preparatory school for six years (CBA) in New York. While the athletics and academics were what drew me to go there, the biggest thing I attained at CBA was the ability to network and meet new friends.

Each of the 120+ kids per class in this school, were from different neighborhoods around our city of Syracuse. If we didn’t go to CBA, we would have went to one of the dozens of public schools with the rest of our childhood friends from our respective neighborhood.

So as I made friends at CBA, I would get invited to their neighborhoods, where I would meet their childhood friends that went to those public schools. By the time I graduated, I knew a core group of kids from each school district in the city, and I had more friends than I could have ever had if I went to a public school in the neighborhood where I grew up.

This story is a picture of how you need to approach networking in the United States and really, the world.

When I went to college in Ithaca, NY, I took the same approach, meeting kids from all over the country that were attending either Cornell University or Ithaca College. Then I moved to Alabama of all places, to play baseball at a small college  (University of Montevallo), but was living just outside a city in the center of the Southeast (Birmingham) and close to one of the biggest markets in the U.S. (Atlanta), where I began to meet people from all over this new region.

But what might be my most valuable lesson, has been in business, where I’ve meet young men and women who have gone to the best schools, are better networking connectors than me, and live in bigger cities than I.

Through these relationships, I’ve experienced some incredible networks of people. I’ve been able to meet the same amazing people they’ve been able to meet through their accomplishments of graduating from prestigious universities and/or building awesome companies, and I exchange my network with them as well.

This is the true “give and take” of “levering” your network while “borrowing” theirs.

6. Elevator Pitch.

People usually compartmentalize an elevator pitch as something just for business or sales. Not true.

I don’t know about you, but when I walk away from a conversation with somebody new, I have zero doubt if I won or lost. I know if it’s gone well and we’ll talk again, or if I was a babbling failure.

The idea of an elevator pitch came from the Madison Avenue days that we have become so familiar with from shows like Mad Men, where people took skyscraper elevators every day, only to have seconds to pitch somebody new in the elevator ride up their respective floor.

If you only had seconds to meet somebody new, what would you ask? What would you want to make sure they knew about you? What do you want them to think about you in leaving the conversation?

Figure this out. Write it down. Massage it. Get it into a less than 60 second pitch with some questions and comments built around it as customized ammunition. Memorize it. It’s the key to you walking away from new conversations feeling like you’ve had “a win”.

7. Systems & Habits.

Like everything else, you’ll have natural skills that will contribute to your ability to be a networking connector. However, to take these things and put them together, you have to have systems for each.

These steps are more about “the game” than the prep or follow up before and after it.

Thus, you must make sure you have solid preparation tactics, such as researching the people you know you’ll see at an event before you get there.

And your follow up game must be on point. Collecting contact info or using social media, in a way that allows you to follow up to remain fresh in the minds of those you’ve connected with, is so important.

The more you do all of this, the more it becomes habit. Then you can take your game to the next level and learn a new skill set. But first, get these things right and I guarantee you’ll develop a network that will reinforce that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and you’ll have met the who to accomplish things you could have never imagined.

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