Business, Podcast

Podcast Re-Launch Featuring Best-Selling Author Jon Acuff

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THIS MONTH ON TRIBECast we interview New York Times Best Selling Author, Jon Acuff.

Our interview with Jon covers the overarching ideas highlighted in his latest book “Do Over” which include not only Prioritizing, Grit, and a Career Savings Account™, but the path that led him to those topics.

Here’s a short description of the book from Jon himself:

“It took me sixteen years to write this book.

That breaks down to a brisk twelve words per day. But it wasn’t the writing that took so long. . . . It was the working.

I had to work at big companies and small companies. I had to get hired and fired several times. I had to find my dream job, then walk away from it. But after all that, I can now say the following with absolute certainty:

You already have everything you need for an amazing career. In fact, you’ve had it since day one.

“Brimming over with sound, practical advice, this book will benefit individuals looking to take charge of their careers at any stage.” ~ Publishers Weekly

Starting on the first day you got paid to scoop ice cream or restock shelves, you’ve had the chance to develop the four elements all great careers have in common: relationships, skills, character, and hustle. You already have each of those, to one degree or another.

Now it’s time to amplify them and apply them in a new way, creating a Career Savings Account™. This unique approach will give you the power to call a Do Over—whether you’re twenty-two, forty-two, or sixty-two. You’ll have the resources to reinvent your work and get unstuck. You’ll even rescue your Mondays as you discover how to work toward the job you’ve always wanted! Just as a bank account protects you during a financial crunch, a Career Savings Account™ protects you during a career crunch.”

Do Over – Book Preview from Jon Acuff on Vimeo.


We also interview a Owner/Manager of our Iron Tribe Fitness On Ponce location in the heart of Atlanta, Ben Davis, as he talks about his mission to change over 2,000 lives in the metro Atlanta area while growing the Iron Tribe presence with excellence.



We’d like to thank our Title Partner, Isagenix, for ensuring our athletes get the best products available for health and recovery.


Click Here to learn more about Iron Tribe’s Tribal Wars, Powered By Isagenix, mentioned in this episode. The event is slated for Saturday, June 20th. Get your tickets before they sell out!

For older episodes:

Episode 3: Tribal Wars 2014

Episode 2: Formerly, The Lab

Episode 1: Who We Are

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.

Journal, Perpsective, The Gospel

Be Careful What You Ask For!

Monday, January 12, 2015


I wrapped up my quiet time with a short, half page journal entry. I usually finish the entire page, but I was in a rush to get in my car and head to the office for our Monday Morning Meeting that I lead each week with our corporate team.

“What if my life was a continuous risk-taking plunge, that forced me to live a life dependent on God? How different would I live compared to how I live now?

That’s it! I am going to take one risk this year for the sake of The Gospel, that is dependent on Him with no guarantee he will deliver the result I’m hopeful for as I take this risk.

I often look at so many of the unfortunate situations in the lives around me, wondering ‘Why not me?’ People I know have died much too early from cancer and other, more abrupt causes… Yet, I am still here?

For what? Why? How can I leverage whatever time I have left to make the most of it for those that I am able to touch?

This unknown time that I have remaining on this earth, must be my bankroll for this risk I am going to take for Him, without knowing how He might return my investment.”


I began my daily 20 minute drive into Birmingham, to our Iron Tribe HQ near Southside’s Pepper Place. As I drove in, I continued a tradition I began a couple months ago, listening to Kevin Elko’s Monday Morning Cup of Inspiration.

Kevin has helped countless college and professional sports brands, from their coaches to their athletes, focus on keeping their ‘eye on the prize’ with his motivational sports psych expertise. He’s worked with ‘Bama Football, The Yankees, The Steelers, The U (Miami) Football and so many other groups of coaches and athletes.

He also was the keynote speaker at our recent TribeCon14 annual franchise conference event that we hosted here at The Westin Birmingham for our Iron Tribe franchise partners, and he pushed us all quite directly to ‘stop wishing to receive the blessing and instead, go out and BE THE BLESSING.’

His Monday Morning Cup on January 12th left me with two takeaways. First, ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable.’ Second and more importantly, ‘stop wishing life was easier; just GET TOUGHER.”

[Click on either of the two Monday Morning Cup links above to listen to this one – it’s worth it]


A few us meet each week to discuss a book we’re reading (What’s Best Next? by Matt Perman) and before we began our Monday Morning Meeting with our entire team, I played them Kevin Elko’s Monday Morning Cup and then we prayed for God to help us focus on being desperate for Him and inviting Him to make things tougher, so we will only rely on Him more to be able to GET TOUGHER.


Because we introduced a new format for our Monday Morning Meeting, it ended in 32 minutes, instead of lasting for its usual 60 minutes.

The team walked out of the conference room on the 3rd Avenue/27th Street South corner of our building, and I walked into Forrest’s office to put a game plan together for an important project we would be working on side-by-side all week.


An extremely loud, thunderous sound occurs, which is not unusual because accidents happen weekly on the 3rd Avenue/27th Street corner of our building.

Then the thunderous sound (with slight millisecond moments in between it as you heard it) became louder and louder, with Kelli (who works at the front desk which has all windows facing the 3rd Avenue/27th Street South corner) screaming “Oh my God… Oh No!” louder and louder intermittently.

Then… IMPACT into our building… Power goes out… Lights off… Vibration felt… Forrest and I rush out of his office to see a truck stuck inside of our building.


Before I keep going, let’s list off the realities of physics here;

  1. The gym side of our building had no classes going on, so the only people in that side of the building were in their offices (our manager, Josh Taylor, and coaches Mike Collins and Alex Brigham).
  2. The gym side of our building is a low-bearing, concrete wall, that directly supports the roof of our building.
  3. The corporate office side of our building is nothing but glass and sheet rock.
  4. There were ten of us in offices on this corporate office side of the building.
  5. Our TribeMobile Tahoe truck that Tra Griffin (VP of Birmingham Gym Operations) drive, was parked in a spot that was directly in line with the corporate office side of the building, which caused the truck to veer toward the gym side.
  6. The semi-truck did not have a load. An empty load would have been 5-10 more tons of weight behind the truck, while a full load would have been twice as many tons of weight behind the truck.
  7. The semi-truck hit the power line directly and missed the gas line by mere inches.

Thus, the potential results;

  1. The truck goes deeper into the building because it is carrying at least an empty load or at most a full load, and the ceiling collapses on everyone in the building, because the low-bearing support wall is totally destroyed by the increased impact.
  2. Tra doesn’t park his TribeMobile Tahoe in that spot and the truck goes into the corporate office, destroying the mere glass and sheet rock that primarily make up this side of the building, running us all over.
  3. The truck hits the gas line and an explosion occurs.

Here is a diagram of the turn that the truck driver tried to make, and why the accident happened.

I’m not going to go one step further and talk about what the news stories could have been, which you could have read last week versus this personal blog article of mine.

But I can tell you this, they would have been life altering for a lot of different groups of people.


I finished that page in my journal. It’ll be a page of two different, but united tales, that I will hopefully re-read for how many years I am left on this earth. It’s context. It’s perspective.

“Why does God give us challenges? Why is life so hard? How can we believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign God, as our Creator and Eternal Lord, when things like this don’t always have this blessed ending? With the horrors of man that are continuously prevalent in this world?

Well, all that God has created is good. Through our sin, we each continuously take great creations from Him and disfigure it in ways that mutate these things He has blessed us with. Look no further than ways we have abused sex, alcohol, or even the environment, etc.. We think we know what to do with those creations, to the point that we abuse them in ways where they have power over us.

Life is supposed to be hard! Challenges are supposed to come our way! If you think it’s easy, it’s probably because you aren’t trying hard enough!

We ARE NOT called to face every challenge on our own. We ARE called to “Get Tougher”, not merely by OUR own strength, but the strength that comes from our relationship in HIM.

And when a situation like this Monday morning happens, you take the extension on life that you’ve been blessed with, and you use it to invest into the opportunities around you.

Jim! Wake up! What are you going to do with this extra time? You can’t complain! You can’t grumble! Be thankful your heart is beating and beg God for strength to stop wishing things were easier, but GET TOUGHER.”




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.

Business, Press

Big business for Iron Tribe Fitness equals big opportunities for Birmingham

By Kathryn Jacoby |
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on September 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM, updated September 16, 2014 at 2:37 PM
Forrest Walden and Jim Cavale

Iron Tribe’s CEO Forrest Walden and COO Jim Cavale

Even though Iron Tribe Fitness is one of the fastest-growing companies in America with franchise locations in Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas, the company hasn’t forgotten its Birmingham roots.

The six-year-old company, which brought in $4 million revenues in 2013,  is on track to have 38 locations across the country by the end of the year, and 100 locations by the end of 2017.  This year, Iron Tribe came in at #602 on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies in America. Interestingly, 90% of all the company’s franchise locations are owned by Alabama natives, and executives say that ties to the Birmingham community are strong.

Occasionally, people find it more than a little surprising that a successful fitness empire was born out of Birmingham, explains Iron Tribe’s CEO Forrest Walden.

“Alabama always ranks so poorly in nationwide studies on health. You’d think this kind of business wouldn’t do so well here, but people have completely embraced it. They see they can get to a better place in their lives and meet other likeminded people. I can’t think of a better place to have done that than Birmingham.”

No matter where one of Iron Tribe’s franchises opens, the operator and the trainers at the facility all come to Birmingham to learn how to do things “the Iron Tribe Way,” explains COO Jim Cavale. The training period, which lasts for a full month, teaches the best ways to train clients, inspire clients and keep the business side of things running smoothly.

“A lot of franchises around the country have a 2-day training course or a quick certification online, but ours is an immersive experience that allows people to really see what we are about and spend some time in the city,” Cavale says.

It’s no secret that the southern hospitality found in Birmingham is part of the heartbeat of Iron Tribe. Walden says that part of the reason the training is held here is so that people can “feel” what Iron Tribe is all about.

“Southern hospitality is in the DNA of our culture. You can’t teach that through an owner’s manual,” he says. “What we do can be intimidating, but when you greet people with a smile and everyone is encouraging, it turns it into something fun. We support one another completely, but we’re also extremely honest. People need that friendly environment but they also need to be called out if they’re not doing their diet and showing up to class.”

During the training sessions, Cavale and Walden and are constantly watching to see how trainers and operators work together. Occasionally, they’ve had to make some tough hiring recommendations.

“We’ve had to pull the red flag on a few employees, although that’s very rare,” Cavale says. “We’ll say, ‘Hey, you might want to reconsider on this hire.’ And they listen to us.”

So far, more than 100 people have been through the four-week training program and another 23 are training in Birmingham now. Trainees typically stay at the Westin or the Sheraton in Birmingham’s Uptown district and are given welcome packets when they arrive that tells them about the Civil Rights Museum, Vulcan, Railroad Park and more.

“We want them to really enjoy their stay and so we make recommendations for things to see and places where they can eat the way we eat,” Cavale says. All Iron Tribe Fitness members are encouraged to eat the Paleo Diet, which consists of non-processed whole foods.

Although many of Iron Tribe’s out-of-state franchise owners are Birmingham residents, the franchises themselves are run by operators and trainers who are based near the business.

“Out of the 70 franchises we have sold, more than 60 of the owners are Birmingham residents who were a member of one of our first five facilities. They’re people who said, ‘Hey, I love this and I want to invest in this and take Iron Tribe to Miami or Denver.’ It’s a really cool thing,” Cavale says.

Typically, the franchise owner maintains a presence in the city where the business is located, and Cavale says the more presence they maintain, the more successful the franchise.

“They’re still present in those markets in a semi-offsite way,” he says. “Our Nashville group is very successful, and they visit frequently.”

The company’s annual conference for franchise owners, TribeCon, also comes to Birmingham. The 2014 conference, the second in the conference’s history, is expected to bring in a crowd of around 120 franchise owners and their guests.

The conference will be held again this year at the Westin, November 2-4.