“Work can convince you that you are working hard for your family, while you are being seduced through ambition to neglect them. Don’t let it happen. Don’t sacrifice the most important thing in your life for your dreams.”
– Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor
This book pushed me to realize that my work is temporary, but my life is eternal. I walked away from it with a challenge to myself, to not let the “law of diminishing intent” win, as it does with most continuing education or personal development attempts. You know, when you read or hear something and get excited, only to do nothing with it in your own life.
I chose to push myself a bit, by thinking about ways I can further leverage my gifts from God, to be a blessing beyond any monetary score or career accomplishment that the world would hold high. Instead, using those relationships to share my personal story of faith with others, giving them a chance to hear about the greatest hope we have – Jesus.
“How can I dream without making my dream bigger than the relationships God has blessed me with?”
– My Internal Question after reading Every Good Endeavor
For those who know me well – let’s face it; I am a passionate dreamer who likes to architect an idea into a plan that I am willing to carry out as the mason [if possible].
This is something the world celebrates. This is something I embrace. But is there a point where this is an idol and not only a distraction from my relationships with those I love, but also a distraction from my faith?
My answer was and is an astounding “Yes”.
So my conviction when I read this back in January 2013, was that I must use my work to attempt to further impact everyone I lead or come in to contact with; this includes customers, team members, friends, family, and especially my wife and children.
Let’s read it again;
“Work can convince you that you are working hard for your family while you are being seduced through ambition to neglect them. Don’t let it happen. Don’t sacrifice the most important thing in your life for your dreams.”
Seduced? Am I actually seduced? Am I neglecting my loved ones but blind to it, because of my addiction to the ambition and intense passion for which I dream?
Tough questions to ask yourself. Tough questions I asked myself.
I began to set better parameters in my life, while still passionately dreaming, but for a greater purpose.
I am still setting these parameters every day and getting feedback on where I fall short. Feedback from my business partner, Forrest. Feedback from my Leadership Team. Feedback from my wife. Feedback from friends. Feedback from my kids.
It’s not always easy to hear, but it always gets through my head in a way that makes me better.
It will be an everlasting challenge for a guy like me to disconnect from my dreams and enjoy the present moment with those relationships God has blessed me with.
To “be where my feet are,” as Dr. Kevin Elko so simply puts it.
During these past few years of praying, reading, writing and digesting these questions, my wife Yazmin has been building a side business in our garage. Women from throughout our Ross Bridge neighborhood here in metro Birmingham, let alone from neighborhoods all over the city, have been coming to our home to get their hair, makeup or spray tan on a regular basis.
You see, my wife has dreams too. And as much as she respects my dreams; they aren’t her’s.
She has been building this beauty business in our garage, while giving birth to and raising our three children, Savanah, Sofia and James IV.
Yazmin and I share in the passionate dreaming we do for our marriage, as we have dreams for our lives together. We also share in the passionate dreaming we do for our kids, and the things we hope they get to experience in their own lives.
But, as I saw her building her new business, I thought about what it could look like for us to share in a business dream together. Because I love everything about being an entrepreneur and she loves everything about what she gets to do for her female clients with the beauty services she so wonderfully provides.
I also thought about what it could look like for our children to see us starting and growing a business together, and how they could contribute, learn, and the natural ways our relationships with them could grow through this experience.
After lots of prayer, ideating and journaling; GLOW was born.
Yazmin originally fought for a brick and mortar salon concept, offering these hair, makeup and spray tan services, amongst others. Although I thoroughly enjoy the brick and mortar route we’ve taken with Iron Tribe, I felt like the opportunity for GLOW was more in line with the recent growth of the tech industry’s “on demand economy”.
Together, Yazmin and I designed a plan to pair two key groups through a mobile app we would call GLOW; the existing network of trained professionals who want to deliver these hair, makeup and spray tanning services when their schedule allows, and the other group is the marketplace of women who need to access these professionals in an on demand format that makes it easy to research and schedule an appointment to come to their home, place of work, hotel, or even for the customer to visit the professional’s place of work.
The past eight months have been intense, with lots of work amongst our existing roles as parents and my existing role as President of Iron Tribe. We’ve had to fund the business, which has meant sacrifices in other areas of our lives.
And the blessing of Matt Landers, CEO of Platypi, along with his wonderful team of co-founders and staff, has been the key to getting GLOW branded and designing our GLOW marketing plan together to the point where we’ve SOLD OUT our brand launch party.
In addition to the branding and digital marketing, Platypi is building the GLOW app, which launches on the Apple iTunes and Google Play app stores later this summer.
Ultimately, Yazmin and I are dreaming together, as a family.
It’s a blessing that God has given me, to be able to do something like this. And, one of many things my leadership position at Iron Tribe continues to teach me, I can use this blessing to bless others.
GLOW will follow in our Iron Tribe footsteps to “Connect God’s Blessings With His Purpose”, as we will bless others with our hopeful growth as a brand here in Birmingham and beyond.
I’m so excited to be able to embark on this journey with my wife.
I’ve been listening to the EntreLeadership podcast for more than a year now, and I’m not alone. Business, political and church leadership around the country is the makeup of the more than 500,000 weekly listeners who subscribe to this ever-growing show. It is aired under the Dave Ramsey umbrella that is becoming a mainstream staple in modern American Journalism. Being on this episode was so much fun that I thought I’d share my experience. You can listen to the episode in the player below (or click to here subscribe to the EntreLeadership podcast).
Earlier this summer, I headed up to Nashville to visit some of the Iron Tribe gyms in the metro area of the Music City, only to get an invite from a contact at Dave Ramsey Solutions, to “stop by and be a guest on EntreLeadership.”
“What!?!”, I thought. “That would be an incredible opportunity for the Iron Tribe brand!'”
As I walked into Financial Peace Plaza (the name for Ramsey Solutions’ incredible campus where 500+ employees are diligently serving their customers), I met Dave Ramsey himself, along with several of the key team members that lead each of the causes for this transformational brand. Their brand, of course, is getting people fit financially, while our Iron Tribe brand is getting people fit physically.
However, ultimately, these are two of the seven or so “spokes in our wheels” (financial, physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.) that we have to have optimally running for us to truly be well-rounded individuals. So there is lots of synergy.
As we geared up to go on the air for 15 minutes or so, I was so pumped to be able to showcase my passion and the Iron Tribe story. When you listen to the interview, I hope you’ll feel what I’m talking about.
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on September 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM, updated September 16, 2014 at 2:37 PM
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.