Engaging Your Staff

Engaging Your Staff

by Anastasia Bennett, TwoBrain Mentor


Why are some members of your team more engaged than others? This is such a good question to discuss and it comes up very often on my mentoring calls.


In fact, this is the main reason I got a mentor for my own business. I thought the problems in my business were because of my team. But I was wrong: the problem was not my team, but my leadership.


Everything a leader does has a huge impact on the team performance and their engagement.


“Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”

Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win


As a business owner, you are the leader and you are in charge of everything. It is your job to take responsibility for your own actions and to lead by example. If your team is disengaged, or they use an “I have another full time job” excuse, it’s on you. You have not done what it takes to get your team motivated.


What does engaged mean?


Engaged = motivated


Being fully engaged in your workplace means they are professionally happy; they have a defined role that outlines what their responsibilities and expectations are; they actively contribute to the team; and they are continuously working on their self development.


Why is it so important for us to have engaged staff?

  • Customer satisfaction  
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Profitability
  • Productivity


As a manager/owner you have a huge influence on your team and how they are performing.


How do you keep your team motivated?


  • Have defined roles, clear expectations and pathways to show them opportunities for personal growth;
  • Show them that you care:
    • Share your WHY with them, your vision and your values. Alignment is important here. If they understand and align with your vision you will have a better chance of succeeding. Commit to your staff and try to build relationships. What do you know about their family, dog or home? Small things make a huge impact.

  • Help them with their personal growth:
    • If you want to have engaged staff, loyalty is the key. And loyalty isn’t a one-way street. They need to see that you are invested in their development. You can always start with coach development sessions. Pay them for the attendance and spoil them with coffee.

  • Listen to their needs and feedback. Implement some of their suggestions
    • If you’re not sure where to start, get feedback on your own leadership. Ask your admin person to do a survey. This can be painful, so be prepared. I did it a couple of years ago and while it was hard was to read their responses, it gave great insight on what I needed to work on.  As a leader you should always be working on your own self development and the ways to improve how you operate. After all, you can’t expect your team to do it if you’re not setting the example. Look for you team’s strengths and weaknesses, then bring in outside experts to help you all improve. Let them see you working on yourself. Look for improvement and don’t settle on the average. You need to set your standards high for yourself and your team. This is why it is so important to do staff evaluations and give them constructive feedback. Then develop a performance plan so everyone is accountable and working towards being their best.

  • Concentrate on their strengths
    • Do you even know what their strengths are? There are so many great online tests that they could take or get a professional to come in and help you to identify strengths and weaknesses. It is not only super beneficial for your business but also fun and enlightening for everyone in the team.

  • Help them with their wellbeing – work-life balance
    • Go back to their perfect day and see how you can help them to get there.


Remember, you can’t force people to do anything. Force creates resistance. If you want your team to be more engaged, turn up to the meetings and participate in community events: you have to lead them. Lead them by example and be a positive influence in their lives.


The biggest part of leadership is TRUST.  We build trust by trusting others. Trust your team, let them make mistakes and create a plan for their development.


Without a team, you don’t have a business, you have a job!


As usual I have an action plan for you. Just like you do your annual planning, marketing planning and sales planning, I want you to have a team development plan.


Create a 12-month calendar and plan out:


  • 1x Team building activity (something fun)
  • 1x Team development block
  • 1 x Cooked breakfast at your place
  • 1 x Dinner out (maybe a Christmas party)


Share your plan with me and let me know how you do. Start leading your team and soon your team will be fully engaged and ready to follow.


The Problem With “Balance”

“Part of this balanced breakfast!”


What memory does that stir up?


For me, it’s something from 35 years ago: little Chris in his Transformer pajamas, eating his Frosted Flakes and watching The Smurfs.


In those days, as now, sugary cereals marketed to kids when they were at their most vulnerable. And they got their ads past the censors by using confusing language. They couldn’t say “healthy” or even “good” breakfast, so they used another term: balanced. And, over time, we all started to believe that “balanced” meant “good”.


Balance doesn’t mean equality; it doesn’t mean tolerance. It sometimes means “as much evil as good” or “just enough of X to justify all that harmful Y.” It’s worth noting that healthy food producers don’t have to talk about “balance”, because they can legitimately say “good”.


Our duty as coaches is to help our clients reach health and fitness–not to help them reach “balance”.


My role as mentor to fitness business owners is to help them achieve wealth. That means, instead of presenting all possible opinions, I serve as a filter. I fight infobesity (thanks Brendon). I don’t want to overwhelm or paralyze; I want to activate.


There are a lot of fake gurus and consultants out there who would love to sell you something. But a sales platform requires some authority, and authority requires a platform. Credible platforms take a long time to build (it’s taken me over ten years.) So they get themselves booked on podcasts or published on websites as a shortcut. Listeners tune in to hear a balanced perspective. And their misinformation blunts our collective progress.


Let me give you a more specific example: the best way to sell supplements is to show them beside steroids.


You might not have fallen for this, but I have: as a new trainer in the late 90s, I saw ads for spray-on Testosterone boosters. The ads always trumpeted them as “The Next Best Thing To Steroids!” And there was always a picture of the supplement bottle beside a bottle of mystery pills. The label said “andro-” something, and the article mentioned Mark McGwire, and the PayPal link was just so easy to click…


So you assumed: this stuff is SO CLOSE to steroids that the bottles are practically touching! Because that’s how your brain works.


In reality, the “next best thing” to steroids doesn’t exist. The “next best thing” is not really effective at all.


But I bought the spray-T, followed the instructions, got heckled by my roommate, and smelled like ammonia for a few weeks. I fell for it.

Because when a publisher puts two things on the same stage, they appear to be almost the same. Our consumer brains can’t differentiate. And that’s a huge problem.


Most of the media around gym ownership tries to portray a “balanced perspective”. So they’ll ask one gym owner: “How much revenue did you collect last year?” And he’ll say, “One. MILLION. Dollars!” And the interviewer will say, “Wow!”


Then they’ll ask another, “How much revenue did you collect last year?” And he’ll say, “ONE million dollars.” And the interviewer will say, “Wow! Two experts! Their opinions are equally valid.”


But they’re not.


If the first gym owner had three locations, twenty-seven part-time coaches, 30% monthly turnover, two ex-wives and a 5% profit margin, is that really the same as the gym owner who nets $300,000 on ONE location and two hundred clients? Not even close. This will sound funny, but the million isn’t the hard part: the profit margin is the hard part. But if you aren’t told the difference, then the spray-on andro looks a lot like the steroid bottle.


Now, we all accept that everyone’s equal on Facebook. We all put our best foot forward, and when we look at the long line of shoes, it’s hard to tell who the experts actually are.


But in larger media – like the CrossFit Journal, podcasts and various magazines – we trust there’s some kind of filtering process going on. And there’s not: the spotlight shines equally on anyone who will step onstage. There’s no fact-checking or proof. And even worse, opposing points of view are sometimes promoted in the name of a “balanced perspective”.


Publishers need to fill up their platforms. If they stop producing, listeners and viewers will go elsewhere. Trust me on this: it’s hard to publish a podcast every week. Many podcasts PAY recruiters to find them guests. And when you’ve paid $350 to get someone on your show…how critically will you assess her claims?


I don’t blame podcast hosts for wanting to have interesting shows. But we, as listeners, must learn to critically evaluate their messages.


We don’t need all possible opinions. We don’t need to hear every perspective. What we NEED is facts.


Facts require filters and proof.


When we launched the TwoBrain podcast, I invited guests who had relevant messages for gym owners. I didn’t invite guests just for the sake of having guests. And it’s still our rule: “Is this person’s opinion borne out in practice, or are they just machine-gunning guesses?” Because I think it’s my duty as publisher to give you ONLY what works.


This means we turn down popular guests all the time. It means we’re invited to appear on fewer podcasts, because we won’t agree to a reciprocal hosting agreement. It’s not the fast way to build a platform of trust. But it’s our responsibility, as leaders in the movement, to actually ask: “Does that really work?” Because our mission isn’t to make the most money or get the most “likes”. It’s to make gym owners wealthy.


Magazines have to fill pages between ads. Blogs have to sell supplements. Podcasts need a good lineup of entertaining guests. That means selling “balance”.


Now, what’s CrossFit HQ’s responsibility here? As the licensing brand for our businesses, should they be sharing advice? Should they be sharing more, or less? Should they be filtering, or providing a balanced perspective? Whose responsibility is it?


I have my own opinion, but I also have an obvious bias. I’d love to hear your opinion!

Why I Started TwoBrain

Why I Started TwoBrain

Last week, I told you why I started a gym: to create freedom for my family.


Today, I’d like to introduce you to my larger family.


Years ago, a physiotherapist told me, “If you care about your health, then you have to care about the health of the people around you. And if you care about their health, then you have to care about the city.”


I started the gym to take care of my family, and help my wife achieve her goal at the same time. But I started TwoBrain to help my larger family: other first-time entrepreneurs who had opened a gym. I knew what they were going through, and the camaraderie of the early days of CrossFit affiliation encouraged me to share all the mistakes I’d made.


You’ve probably heard the story ad nauseam: I hit bottom, found a mentor. Posted the mentor’s lessons on a blog called DontBuyAds.com every day for four years. Answered a call to mentor a couple of gym owners through a website company. Published three books about gym ownership, added a few dozen videos and articles to the CrossFit Journal, and continued to publish love letters to gym owners every day.


But the story I haven’t told is why I founded TwoBrainBusiness.com; why we keep producing free stuff every single day; and why I’m more committed than ever before.


In early 2015, while still mentoring gyms through a website company, I built a 14-hour online course around the conversations I’d been having. While every gym is different, certain work has to precede other work, and I recorded videos, wrote lessons and built templates around these foundations. I was the guy on the videos and the guy behind the lessons. I thought we could help more gym owners by selling the video course for less. And with a waiting list, selling a course as an alternative to 1:1 mentorship seemed like a great way to leverage my time.


It didn’t work.


If my goal was simply to make more money in less time, I’d say the course was a success. But my goal is to help gym owners, and an online course without 1:1 mentorship simply isn’t effective. MENTORSHIP IS THE ONLY THING THAT WORKS. It’s not the cheapest service to provide; it’s not the most scalable option to offer. If your goal is to scale without big costs or have a massive profit margin, you can get away with selling an online course. But if your goal is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of entrepreneurs and their families, you have to provide 1:1 mentorship.


My goals didn’t align with the website company’s goals anymore. And so, on February 13, 2016, TwoBrainBusiness.com opened its doors to gym owners.


Now there are over 500 in the TwoBrain Family. Every single one has a personal mentor. Every single one gets at least a full hour of 1:1 time every single month (and that’s an hour every WEEK in the Incubation phase.) Every mentor has a small caseload. Because that’s what works!


Like you, I took this leap into entrepreneurship. Like you, I made an emotional leap: I believed in the mission of getting people healthier, because I cared about them. I embraced CrossFit as the most effective tool available. But, like you, I quickly realized that a fitness tool isn’t a business plan. A business plan is a business plan, and a mentor makes it work.


We now have nearly 30 mentors at TwoBrain: all successful entrepreneurs who have been through our model, reached the Tinker Phase, and are dedicated to pulling others up behind them. This huge staff means a LOT of big ideas and new solutions to problems; these aren’t call-center employees trying to troubleshoot your website. These are high-earning, successful entrepreneurs who have been there. As my own mentors tell me all the time: it’s not the fastest way to build a business, or the cheapest. But it’s the ONLY THING THAT WORKS.


I care about the health of CrossFit. I care about the health of the fitness movement. That means I have to care about the health of those pushing the movement forward: the gym owners. You serve them; we serve you. Every hero needs a guide.


That’s why, most days, I wake up with a chip on my shoulder: because we have a long way to go, and gym owners deserve better.


Think about this: you’ve put your entire life on the sidelines to help others get healthy. You’ve asked your family to carry on without you at breakfast and bedtime; taken a vow of entrepreneurial poverty (hopefully short-term); skipped your own workouts; eaten your stress; missed your sleep; skipped meals; drank too much coffee…


…all in the name of providing excellent service. The least we can do is fill the gap between that service and your reward. No one else is willing to do it this way–the only way that works. But I am. That’s why I founded TwoBrain.

Episode 155: The Intramural Open

Episode 155: The Intramural Open

Episode 155 – The Intramural Open with Mike Lejeune

The Intramural Open is a fantastic way to build your community during the CrossFit Open. The focus is on inclusion and celebration instead of competition (though there’s a good bit of that, too.) Every year, we’ve built and improved on the idea thanks to the feedback from those gyms.


The Intramural Open was invented by Chris Cooper, founder of Two-Brain Business. You can download our 2019 Intramural Open Guide here for free!

You should also read “How To Make The Open Easier” after you’ve downloaded the guide.

On the podcast today, we are joined by Mike Lejeune of CrossFit SciCoh and Echelon. Mike’s been running the Intramural Open at his gyms for years, and built Echelon to help him host competitions in his gym. The software makes it easy to host world-class fitness competitions. We talk about hosting competitions in general; the Intramural Open in particular; changes to the Games season (and the effects on your business!) and new opportunities for you as a box owner this year.

Don’t Forget! Find out what stage of entrepreneurship you are in by taking the exclusive Two Brain test here: https://twobrainbusiness.com/test/ or schedule your free mentoring call by clicking here! 

2:43 – Introduction to the Intramural Open
4:19 – What is the Intramural Open?
5:57 – How you can get the Intramural Open started at your gym?
10:45 – The importance of creating a competitive environment and keeping it fair
17:17 – Why RX athletes are not placed on a pedestal for the Intramural Open
18:31 – Facebook Live Events to pump up the gym during the Open
20:24 – Boosting participation through Friday and weekend events during the Open
26:46 – The Sixth-week grand finale to the Intramural Open
28:24 – Motivation and prizes for winning the intramural open
33:00 – The Re-Open, the midterms for the Open.
36:19 – The benefits of using Echelon for Intramural Open planning
39:29 – How to sign up to use Echelon and begin planning an event


Contact Mike:

Lead Magnet Success Quickstart Guide Part 3 FINALE!

This week’s edition of Marketing Monday will be a follow up to last week’s lesson on lead magnets. If you didn’t get a chance to check out Part 1 or Part 2, CLICK HERE for Part 1 or CLICK HERE for Part 2 to catch up! Otherwise, keep reading…


We’ve been learning a lot about Lead Magnets.  We learned that the first step to generating more leads is – you need to have something on your website that entices people into opting-in and that get’s the conversation started.

Next, we talked about how you can generate opt-ins for free by simply posting on your business’s Facebook page.

In this week’s video, you’ll learn how to expedite the lead generation process and how you can 3x your opt-in rate with paid client attraction and lead magnets: