Mentors, Perpsective

Don’t Disregard The Turtle

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I recently had the chance to get back up to Syracuse, New York, where I was fortunate to grow up and live for the first 20 years of my life.

While I was there, I headed to the north side to spend some time with Coach Dotterer, a guy who’s impact on me will forever live within my story and the story of my wife and three kids.

It was merely 13 years ago that I left Syracuse on a whim, when I sat in the liquor store of my high school baseball coach, Tom Dotterer, in tears because of the confused state of growing up that I was enduring as a then 20-year-old kid trying to figure out this thing we call life.

After two years at Ithaca College, I was frustrated because I was not getting playing time on the baseball diamond and I was also not accepted into Ithaca’s acclaimed Park School of Communications; these were the two reasons I attended Ithaca in the first place, and I had decided I didn’t want to be there anymore.

Coach Dotterer urged me to consider traveling down to the University of Montevallo (UM), a small college in the heart of the south, just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. His daughter had attended UM just a decade before this moment I was sitting down in front of him in the summer of 2002, and Coach Dotterer had high regard for the school and their baseball program.

I had already been accepted to a pretty prominent academic institution in Hamilton College, and it was only a few weeks before enrollment for my junior year, but I thought “what do I have to lose? I’m gonna do this.”

So I did.

On August 4, 2002, I flew down to UM, tried out, received a scholarship offer from the baseball coach and two weeks later, I was in Alabama. I’ve been here ever since.

I had life-changing experience at UM, where I graduated in 2005, and sewed my leadership and entrepreneurial roots. But ultimately, I trusted Coach Dotterer, took a chance and became a man, all through this experience.

I’m one of hundreds of young boys that Coach Dotterer molded and impacted. But it isn’t just the impact he has had, its the way he’s gone about it. He is a philosopher who teaches with parables and riddles that will sometimes make sense instantly, and other times, take years for you to comprehend.

He would rather you learn from the journey than from his direct instruction, even though he has many words of instruction he can bestow upon you, with the wisdom he’s gathered from his diverse experiences and ongoing obsession with books – he also owns a book store next to his liquor store, which is now closed, but he boasts “has the widest selection of books published long before this current era.”

Now, as CBA raises a fund to build a new on-campus baseball complex, those of us who have been impacted by Coach Dotterer, are coming together to support it with our dollars and with our stories. Like mine, they are woven together into our adult lives in ways that will pass on his impact to our children, friends, colleagues, employees, customers and many others.

When I graduated from CBA in 2000, Coach Dotterer gave me a gift – a green porcelain turtle. I asked him why this was my gift and he told me that I am the turtle. I have a hard shell to endure the challenges that come my way, I am sometimes slower than those around me, but in the end I will win.

Powerful moment.

I’ll never forget that and I’ll always remember the impact Coach had on me to yearn to be the best version of myself each day I wakeup. It is the reason that my personal purpose in life is to help all of those God puts around me, to be the best versions of themselves.

If you want to support Coach Dotterer’s movement, his legacy and the CBA baseball program that has had such a big impact on all of us who have gone through his program, simply visit this link to give.

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Business, Journal, Mentors, Press

My EntreLeadership Podcast Experience

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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!'”

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 6.52.30 AMAs 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.

Getting to meet the host Ken Coleman, was a huge honor for me, after listening to him interview the likes of Mark Cuban, Mike Rowe, John Maxwell, Gary Vaynerchuck, and so many more. Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 6.53.13 AM

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.

Enjoy!

Click here to listen now!

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Perpsective, Seven Takeaways

7 Ways Michael Jordan’s Story Can Help You Win

I sat down with my oldest daughter, Savanah, to use our Apple Final Cut Pro editing program, to cut up an awesome MJ Documentary from the ESPN Sportcentury series. The one minute video snippets below, work in conjunction with these seven takeaways, to tell the story of MJ’s journey from scoring leader to team leader and six-time champion.

The State Of MJ: Pre-NBA Champion

I’ve learned from several CEOs and Leaders, much smarter than me, that leadership is the process of doing just that; letting go!

So how did Michael Jordan transform from a guy who couldn’t win in the playoffs to the best NBA player of all-time, who’s teams won six NBA Titles? What did it take for him to go from MJ the league’s top scorer to MJ the NBA Champ and G.O.A.T.?

1. Mentorship – MJ needed somebody who knew better than he did, and wasn’t afraid to tell him! You need a leader to lead you to become a leader.

I have to give my own personal shout out on this one. For me, that guy is Forrest Walden, my business partner and CEO at Iron Tribe.

Forrest has taught me countless ways to let go and become more than just a producer for our business, but instead, how to focus on leading the people on my team to be the best producers they can be for our team. And we have honest conversations regularly, which is integral to getting the feedback I need to continue being a best President for our company that I can be, and for me to give him that same feedback to be the best CEO he can be.

2. Transparency – You must open yourself to direct conversations. For MJ to truly know where he fell short, Phil Jackson couldn’t hold back. And, as you can imagine, Phil had a lot on the line. MJ was the franchise player for the Chicago Bulls. If Phil couldn’t get along with him, the Bulls would most likely choose MJ over him.

But Phil knew that if he didn’t tell MJ where he fell short and why the Bulls were losing, MJ may have kept playing the same way and never won a title – could you imagine that!?! Instead, Phil helped him get his head around this new offense and gradually gain belief in its philosophy.

3. Unselfishness – You will have to think about your team before yourself. It was a process, but Phil got MJ to continuously do this more and more, to the point that when he finally was in a defining moment in the 1991 NBA Finals against legend Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, MJ deferred to his team first and it resulted in the Bulls’ first NBA Title.

4. Trust: You Trust Them & They Trust You – You will learn to believe in your team. MJ trusted his teammates in specific moments that showed it was genuine, and this pulled everyone together in a way where they were operating as a true team that nobody else could stop.

Once they know you believe in them, your team will believe in you. MJ and the Bulls couldn’t get enough, and neither can any team that is clicking on all cylinders. This is a productive form of desire that will help you accomplish things that you could have never imagined without the people around you being there with you each step of the way.

5. Boldness – You cannot hold back on pushing your teammates in an honest and constructive manner, which challenges them to not only be the best they can be, but to deliver their production responsibility for the sake of the team. MJ is legendary on this topic, sometimes going as far as hitting teammates in the face, (which I don’t recommend).

6. Confidence – After they believe in you, your team will follow you anywhere! MJ’s team not only trusted that he would take them to victory, but they were confident enough to be ready to deliver in their specific role or function, when called upon to do so – just look at John Paxon’s big shots in the 1991 and 1993 championships. Could he have hit those without MJ becoming the leader he became? Would the Bulls even have been in that position without MJ’s leadership growth. I think not.

7. Dedication – Leaders like this, will do whatever it takes to keep getting better because they want more. The best leaders are the best versions of themselves every day. They are continuously better the day you see them, than they were the day before.

Jordan only became better with time, and ultimately MJ ended his career with a six NBA Titles in six tries. Kobe couldn’t do it. LeBron can’t do it (he’s already lost three NBA Finals), and I’m not sure anyone ever will repeat a feat of perfection like this again in all of sport.

Phil Jackson is quite the common denominator when it comes to leading teams. He went on to lead Kobe and the LA Lakers to five more NBA Titles, to add to his six titles as the head coach of Chicago and two titles as a player with the NY Knicks.

However, he couldn’t do it, and neither could MJ or Kobe, without the team. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. You can’t do big things without a great one.

And your team can’t be great, without you stepping up and being a great leader.

What are you waiting for?

—–Read Below For The Full Version Of This Blog Article—–

I recently attended a brand-wide conference for a business partner of mine, who happens to be the seasoned CEO of a large franchise chain, that has a 200+ unit footprint throughout the southeast United States.

As he got up in front of his franchise owners and operators, he began to talk about teamwork, and one his core analogies were the phases of Michael Jordan’s career. He did a good job relating MJ’s career phases to his franchisees, and I left intrigued to dig a little further on the topic.

Now if you know me just a little, you know I’m a huge sports fan and I pride myself on knowing every and any fact I can, regarding the history of each sport, who did what, what team won the championship each season, what player went to what school, records set, etc…

But most of my knowledge was acquired at a time where I didn’t understand what it took for these athletes and teams to actually accomplish what they did – I had limited perspective because I learned these facts as a teen with limited perspective on life, compared to the perspective I have now, as a husband, father, friend and president of a nationwide fitness franchise.

So, when I left the conference, I dove back in to Michael Jordan’s career, to explore and see what I could learn that I either had forgotten or might have never knew about in the first place.

If you like sports, you’re going to leave this article ready to run through a wall!

OK — so we all love Michael Jordan. And if you don’t think he’s the best ever, well; you’re just plain crazy. Sorry, but come on. Six NBA Finals. Six Titles. Six Finals MVPs. That is all that needs to be said.

Because of all of MJ’s championships, seldom do you hear talk of MJ’s first six seasons, each of which ended with a loss and a great deal of frustration.

Despite winning scoring titles early on, MJ couldn’t figure out how to garner the same success for his Chicago Bulls team, as he was experiencing for himself – for instance, he averaged an NBA-leading 37.1 points per game (ppg) in the 1986-87 season, but yet his team was swept 3-0 in the first round of the 1987 NBA Playoffs to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.

Keep in mind, since that 1986-87 season (almost 30 years ago), not one scoring champ has exceeded 37.1 ppg, with only two players getting within two points per game of this number; Kobe Bryant averaged 35.4 ppg to lead the NBA in scoring in the 2005-06 season and MJ averaged 35.0 ppg to lead the NBA in scoring in the 1987-88 season. Woah.

Basically, MJ was a great leader, as far as being the leading scorer. But that was about it.

As sensational as his individual talent was, MJ needed somebody to teach him how to engage his team to win games in a team sport that he happened to be approaching more as an individual.

This is something that anyone who has grown into any sort of leadership role, can relate to completely. Think about it. Most people are thrusted into a leadership role solely because they are great at doing something – they have talent. Not because they’ve displayed leadership capacity.

So naturally, the next move up in the organization chart, is for them to be a leader of a team, in a role where they are asked to influence other people to be the superstars that they had previously been in that same role. But it’s a totally different skill-set that they must learn to be as good of a leader as they were as a producer.

This same thing happens with business owners, who launch a business that requires them to play just about every role there is, from sales to marketing to product development to finance, and in between. These business owners successfully wear all these hats to prove the concept and grow their business. But then, the business owner who had the great idea and did everything to make it happen, now has to hire, develop and lead others to get their business to the next level.

MJ couldn’t play point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center and coach, all at once! He had to let go or else he’d never win.

I’ve had to go on a similar journey in my own career as an entrepreneur. I’ve struggled with finding the right people, trusting them, and ultimately; letting go so that they can fly as the superstars God’s intended them to be!

MJ’s story has seven core takeaways that I’ve had to learn in my own career as well.

I sat down with my oldest daughter, Savanah, to use our Apple Final Cut Pro editing program, to cut up an awesome MJ Documentary from the ESPN Sportcentury series. The one minute video snippets below, work in conjunction with these seven takeaways, to tell the story of MJ’s journey from scoring leader to team leader and six-time champion.

The State Of MJ: Pre-NBA Champion

I’ve learned from several CEOs and Leaders, much smarter than me, that leadership is the process of doing just that; letting go!

So how did MJ transform from a guy who couldn’t win in the playoffs to the best NBA player of all-time, who’s teams won six NBA Titles? What did it take for him to go from MJ the league’s top scorer to MJ the NBA Champ and G.O.A.T.?

1. Mentorship – MJ needed somebody who knew better than he did, and wasn’t afraid to tell him! You need a leader to lead you to become a leader.

I have to give my own personal shout out on this one. For me, that guy is Forrest Walden, my business partner and CEO at Iron Tribe.

Forrest has taught me countless ways to let go and become more than just a producer for our business, but instead, how to focus on leading the people on my team to be the best producers they can be for our team. And we have honest conversations regularly, which is integral to getting the feedback I need to continue being a best President for our company that I can be, and for me to give him that same feedback to be the best CEO he can be.

2. Transparency – You must open yourself to direct conversations. For MJ to truly know where he fell short, Phil Jackson couldn’t hold back. And, as you can imagine, Phil had a lot on the line. MJ was the franchise player for the Chicago Bulls. If Phil couldn’t get along with him, the Bulls would most likely choose MJ over him.

But Phil knew that if he didn’t tell MJ where he fell short and why the Bulls were losing, MJ may have kept playing the same way and never won a title – could you imagine that!?! Instead, Phil helped him get his head around this new offense and gradually gain belief in its philosophy.

3. Unselfishness – You will have to think about your team before yourself. It was a process, but Phil got MJ to continuously do this more and more, to the point that when he finally was in a defining moment in the 1991 NBA Finals against legend Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, MJ deferred to his team first and it resulted in the Bulls’ first NBA Title.

4. Trust: You Trust Them & They Trust You – You will learn to believe in your team. MJ trusted his teammates in specific moments that showed it was genuine, and this pulled everyone together in a way where they were operating as a true team that nobody else could stop.

Once they know you believe in them, your team will believe in you. MJ and the Bulls couldn’t get enough, and neither can any team that is clicking on all cylinders. This is a productive form of desire that will help you accomplish things that you could have never imagined without the people around you being there with you each step of the way.

5. Boldness – You cannot hold back on pushing your teammates in an honest and constructive manner, which challenges them to not only be the best they can be, but to deliver their production responsibility for the sake of the team. MJ is legendary on this topic, sometimes going as far as hitting teammates in the face, (which I don’t recommend).

6. Confidence – After they believe in you, your team will follow you anywhere! MJ’s team not only trusted that he would take them to victory, but they were confident enough to be ready to deliver in their specific role or function, when called upon to do so – just look at John Paxon’s big shots in the 1991 and 1993 championships. Could he have hit those without MJ becoming the leader he became? Would the Bulls even have been in that position without MJ’s leadership growth. I think not.

7. Dedication – Leaders like this, will do whatever it takes to keep getting better because they want more. The best leaders are the best versions of themselves every day. They are continuously better the day you see them, than they were the day before.

Jordan only became better with time, and ultimately MJ ended his career with a six NBA Titles in six tries. Kobe couldn’t do it. LeBron can’t do it (he’s already lost three NBA Finals), and I’m not sure anyone ever will repeat a feat of perfection like this again in all of sport.

Phil Jackson is quite the common denominator when it comes to leading teams. He went on to lead Kobe and the LA Lakers to five more NBA Titles, to add to his six titles as the head coach of Chicago and two titles as a player with the NY Knicks.

However, he couldn’t do it, and neither could MJ or Kobe, without the team. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. You can’t do big things without a great one.

And your team can’t be great, without you stepping up and being a great leader.

What are you waiting for?

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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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Business, Press

Big business for Iron Tribe Fitness equals big opportunities for Birmingham

By Kathryn Jacoby | kjacoby@al.com
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.

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