Two-Brain Radio: Good Debt vs. Bad Debt With Clay Ferrer

Two-Brain Radio: Good Debt vs. Bad Debt With Clay Ferrer

Greg: 00:00 – Hey, it’s Greg Strauch of Two-Brain Media, and on this week’s episode we talked to Clay Ferrer. He’s the owner of Rigquipment Finance. You guys have probably heard some of the ads on here before of us talking about an amazing partner that we work with that has done phenomenal things with gym owners through financing. Even myself, I’ve utilized them in the past. We jump into good debt versus bad debt and really the differences between the two so that we can educate you more if you don’t know the difference between good debt and bad debt, and really, hey, as a business owner, what’s the first step I should be going towards if I’m acquiring good debt? Subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for the very best ideas, tips, and topics to move you and your business closer to wealth.

Greg: 00:48 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics, interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at We would like to thank another one of our amazing sponsors, UpLaunch. Over the amount of time that you’ve had your business, how many people have come through your doors and never signed up for a membership? When I first opened, I remember getting everybody’s name and emails because that’s what I was told was the best way to start the conversation with potential new members. The big problem was I never knew what to say. Over many years, I spent countless hours developing plenty of emails to send to these new members or people that are thinking about signing up for a membership. This took a lot of time, probably way too long, and could have been spent on more productive things. If you’re in the same situation I was, don’t waste any more time and book a free session with UpLaunch. UpLaunch has over a hundred prebuilt emails to convert new leads into members. And when your members decide to take a break, they have a whole campaign to get them back through the doors. You have the ability to text message members from the app, and with integrations like Google calendar, Facebook and over a hundred more via Zapier, UpLaunch has you covered. UpLaunch was created by gym owners for gym owners. Head over to today to get the conversation started with your future and past clients.

Greg: 02:20 – All right, on another amazing episode of Two-Brain Radio with Clay Ferrer. He is the CEO of Rigquip. You guys have probably heard their ads on our podcast here, but welcome, Clay. How are you?

Clay: 02:34 – I’m doing well, I’m doing well, Greg. Thank you for having me.

Greg: 02:38 – Happy to. So I want to dive into some things. Of course, I’m going to give a little bit of background that maybe some people don’t know and kind of talk to you about the whole fitness side of things that you kind of have brought out in your bio and that kind of stuff. But then we’re gonna really dive into educating people that are listening and really educating people on good debt versus bad debt. I think a lot of us have heard that term before, but not many of us understand fully what good debt is in what bad debt is. I mean, I’m sure people could say, oh, credit card is bad debt and a loan could possibly be bad debt. But nobody has really gone into details about those things so I’m hoping that we can really educate people out there so they can understand those two. But before we do that, a little bit of background about you that I learned was you are a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, is that correct?

Clay: 03:32 – That’s correct.

Greg: 03:34 – And you found CrossFit in in 2011, I believe, and you also coach at a gym or are part of a coaching staff?

Clay: 03:43 – I am. It’s funny. I actually was out at the Two-Brain Summit a few months ago, it was like the more and more conversations I hear and you know, every year as it continues to evolve, I realized that I end up, I think, coaching more classes on a weekly basis then than most of the owners that were in the audience. Which is kind of a funny way things have evolved over time.

Greg: 04:03 – No, I definitely understand that feeling. When I first showed up at the first Summit, I felt like I was the only one that was still coaching classes. And then that changed over time. With you owning a financing company, what kind of—where did you start from that kind of led you down that path to opening up Rigquip?

Clay: 04:26 – Yeah, absolutely. And you know, part of it and I think a big part of the reason why I’m still coaching is, you know, it’s something that I truly love. I’m truly passionate about it. You know, not only from a business perspective, obviously, but just from the perspective of the way, you know, it helps people change their lives. And I think I’m a actually a really great example of that. So my professional background, from before finding CrossFit was in the financial services sector. I had always been entrepreneurial by nature, very much interested in learning about business, about how businesses work. So, you know, as I was working on a college path, I knew I wanted to get into business in some form or fashion. I didn’t really know what it was. I did business school as OK that’s a great opportunity to learn, undergraduate business school, that is, you had to learn a lot about business in general and, you know, I’m gonna find my path along the way. And so as I kind of worked through that, I was really drawn towards finance in particular because I think the numbers are something that, you know, are very cut and dry in a lot of ways. It’s almost like, to a certain extent, putting puzzles together And then, you know, kinda crafting stories based on what those numbers are, and that led me down kinda further a path into investment banking. And this was, you know, I guess when I started in banking, it was, you know, 2007, 2008, at kind of the peak of the last boom, on the cusp of the great recession, the meltdown, which all occurred, you know, really starting in the financial services sector.

Clay: 06:12 – And you know, when I started down that path I viewed the financial sector in general as really the engine. Or it’s the gasoline, it’s the lifeblood of the broader economy And then, you know, what we went through in the great recession is a really good example of that When the banks and lenders and Federal Reserve and Treasury and FKC When there are issues there, that really ripples throughout the entire economy. And so I’m like, you know, I’d always viewed it as, again, at that point I still didn’t necessarily know what I want to do in business, but I viewed financial service sector as something that would allow me to learn, you know, a lot in banking in particular, learn a lot in really compact amount of time. And so, you know, the company that I went to work for, we did predominantly M&A advisories or merchant acquisitions. So effectively if you think about like a, you know, the way you hire a real estate broker to market and sell your house, it’s kind of the same thing except to sell companies. And we did M&A as well as capital raising. So helping companies, you know, raise money from institutional investors, both in form of debt and equity. And I really thought that this was, again, another way of learning a lot in a really short amount of time because in order to sell something or to raise money for something, you really have to understand it at a truly fundamental level. So really, you know, starting with the numbers And then kind of reverse engineer into how a business works, discussing with management, you learn a lot about a lot of different types of companies and services in particular

Clay: 07:46 – The companies that we worked with lent money to other businesses or to individuals. So not only are you learning about the business that lends the money you also have to learn about how they view or how they understand and analyze the people that they lend money to. Just again, viewed it as a really efficient way to learn a lot about a lot of different areas of business. And so ultimately that kind of dovetails back into where we started in 2011 when I found CrossFit, and it was one of those things where—I mean I’m a firm believer, Greg, everything in life happens for a reason. And so, you know, it was like New Year’s Day The unfortunate byproduct of banking, or at least the lifestyle was, you know, after I graduated from college, put on a bunch of weight, had a largely sedentary lifestyle, you know, didn’t quote unquote “have time” for health and wellness. And as I’m laying there, January 1st, you know, hung over, kind of at the, at the total bottom of the health spectrum. You know, there was a miracle, the CrossFit games came on TV. And I ended up like sitting there with my wife Chelsea, who’s a business partner and another huge component of Rigquipment Finance today, we got sucked into like five straight hours of like old Games reruns. And you know, again, as like serendipity or luck or whatever the case may be, the very next day I’m at the grocery store and I get a flyer on my window shield that there’s a new box open and like down the street. And so this was, you know, Tucker Jones’ handiwork of passing out these flyers in the parking lot where I come out of the grocery store, this flyer’s on the car and I was like, OK, someone’s—you know, this is a sign.

Greg: 09:36 – A sign to go ahead and make some changes in my life and get signed up. I ended up being in like the very first foundations class at Ballston CrossFit got to watch that community, you know, grow and thrive and started to learn more about the coaching side of things and the business aspect of things from Tucker and that ultimately led down the path of going through the kind of coaching development and training program and then starting to coach some classes at Ballston CrossFit. At that point, I’m now five years into banking, and always wanting to do something more entrepreneurial, and I realized like, wow, like not only am I super passionate about this and kind of view this as like the way of the future from, you know, health and wellness perspective, but there’s a massive need in this market for someone that, you know, can, can understand these small business owners, understand their business model, and then provide capital to help them grow and expand their businesses to help them, you know, build their community and help a ton of other people the same way CrossFit helped me. That was the kind of long-winded way of, you know, marrying professional background with this kind of newfound personal passion, and ultimately creating Rigquipment Finance as that vehicle that we can help, you know, ultimately a lot of people, both owners and their customers, you know, change their lives for the better.

Greg: 11:00 – Agreed. And I’ll tell you, I mean, you’ve helped me a few different times with financing. One of those things was our InBody and a few other things within the gym because I didn’t have the upfront capital and when I did have it for certain things like the InBody and I had that capital ready, I would much rather be able to personally mitigate my risk of losing all that money and then say something happens within the gym if I took that account down to zero and not having any cash on hand. So you helped me mitigate some of that risk by allowing for a, I would consider a short-term loan. It’s only a few years to have that paid off and still be able to provide value to our members and our staff with having that InBody.

Clay: 11:47 – Absolutely. And I will say, and this is definitely something I want to get to later, Greg, but you know, on one hand, certainly keeping that extra cash on hand, that cushion for inevitably we all know in business things are going to not go as planned or going to go wrong, and having that cash you might have otherwise spent in reserve is a huge safety net, and could get a lot of times be the difference between make or break for a business owner. But two, and again this is where we’re really talk more about it later is really just how financing that upfront purchase has changed the return on investment profile for you as the owner of the gym. Instead of coming out front for the full amount and then having to not only recoup the cost, but also then create profits, it stretches out the timeline significantly versus when you look at, let’s say a $200 monthly payment relative to how much additional income you generate to create a healthy return on that investment, it totally changes the math and definitely we’ll spend some more time on that later.

Chris: 12:46 – Hello my friends. It is Chris Cooper here. Since 2009 I have been writing daily blog posts, producing podcasts, videos, all kinds of stuff on social media with one mission in mind: to make gyms profitable. I came to that mission because I was an unprofitable gym owner. It almost ruined my finances and almost ruined my career, my marriage, everything. And since that day, since I made my recovery, I have wanted to help other gym owners become profitable, too. It’s part of my mission to the world because if you’re profitable, you’ll be here changing lives of thousands of your clients for the next 30 years. I think together we can have a tremendous impact. When we started mentorship, I did every single call myself. I was doing up to a thousand free calls a year and I was doing 10 calls with people who signed up for our early mentorship program, but the Incubator has been updated and improved a dozen times since then. Now the Incubator is really the sum of all of our experiences with over 800 gyms worldwide. In the Two-Brain mentorship program, we can now learn from everybody. We can collate data, we can see what’s working where and when and what the new gold standards are as they emerge. When somebody has a great idea, we can test it objectively and say, “Will this work for everyone or will it work for people on the West Coast or on the East Coast?” We can do that with little things like Facebook ads. We can also do that with operations and opening times and playbooks. All the questions that you have about the gym, we can answer them with data and with proof now. That’s the Incubator. It’s more than what I wrote about. It’s more than my experience. It is the best standard in the fitness industry, period. And I hope to see you in there.

Greg: 14:29 – Agreed. And that’s actually a perfect segue into jumping into it. So Clay, if I’m asking, I mean, for the community, anyone that’s listening, what is your definition of good debt and what is your definition of bad debt?

Clay: 14:42 – Absolutely. And I think, you know, I’ll use an analogy that I think a lot of people will be able to resonate with here ? I think you know, debt in any context, you know, particularly in the case of a business, you know, I kind liken it to a kipping pull up. Like, it’s a specific tool to accomplish more work in a shorter period of time. It can be something that can create a lot of issues if you don’t have the requisite, you know, strength and mobility and understanding the pull-up side of things before just trying to do it. But in a specific situation such as, you know, a a testing scenario or a competition where you have to complete as much work in as short amount of time as possible, or otherwise do more with less, it’s a very important tool. And so debt I think is, you know, a lot of the same way. And so when you start to think about that in terms of good debt versus bad debt, I think the best way to think about good debt is you know, utilizing other people’s capital to purchase assets that will ultimately earn you more money in the future. Bad debt, I think a lot of times is, would be debt that is used to purchase, you know, a depreciating asset or a non-cash-flow asset or kind of more separately or specifically, you know, other forms of debt that can be more punitive than they may appear on the surface. And speaking a little bit in generalities there, but a couple examples of that would be like, you know, merchant cash advance, or you know, very, very short-term, you know, working lines of credit or working capital lines, things that ultimately end up starving the business of cash to cover, you know, near-term operating expenses, which sometimes will be important but ultimately create more issues down the road than there were.

Clay: 16:37 – So, you know, I think even taking a step back and like good debt versus bad debt, I think a lot of times, business debt has this like, you know, I think mischaracterization as just being bad, and it’s like nowhere else in the world is like—so you see someone like buys a house and everyone celebrates it. You know, very few people are buying a house or buying their first house like cash only They’re using debt to purchase something they might not otherwise be able to afford if they had to finance it entirely with their own cash And then you know, or going to college You know, and you know, if you had to save your entire life enough money to go to college, and then pay it forward and then try and recoup that, it changes things That allows you to again, accomplish more in a shorter period of time. And so, but for whatever reason, you know, business debt a lot of times it’s kind of thought of as well, if they are taking on debt, they must be in trouble. And in reality it’s the exact opposite. And certainly there are cases where that might be true, but you know, more often than not, in order to even qualify for secure debt financing, that means you have a very successful and thriving business. And if you take it a step back from, you know, the micro gym, the boutique fitness space and look at all businesses, or the most successful businesses, in the broader economy or in the stock markets or otherwise, every single one uses debt in some form or fashion. It’s not a bad thing if it’s applied appropriately and with the proper controls and cushions in place. So I think there’s this kind of general misunderstanding of debt in a business context as always being bad. And that’s, you know, very much not the case.

Greg: 18:26 – No. And I will say for me personally, I mean I always thought if I have to get a business loan after being in business that that’s bad. I should have been able to generate the revenue to not have to get a loan to do that. And it sounds like from what you’re saying is getting a business loan or even student loans or as you put it, even like a mortgage for a house, those are things that are going to generate value or generate a higher net worth, it sounds like, so that those would be considered good debt.

Clay: 19:01 – Absolutely. There’s a million examples out there of people that are, you know, unhappy with their student loans and not utilizing their college degree and so there’s plenty of bad examples within those broader categories, you know, but by and large, things that are effectively an investment into your future ability to earn, whether that’s personally or a business or your ability to have cash flow generating asset or value appreciated asset, like a house. You know, oftentimes they’re going to be very smart uses of debt. Now taking, you know, buying—what’s a good example; buying a car with a car loan, not necessarily bad, but then taking a high interest credit card and putting a new set a wheels on there and a speaker system, you know, now you have paying more in debt service than ultimately the cost of the car is worth because you drive a lot and it’s worth, you know, 30 or 40% less right away. And that’s not going to actually generate any sort of income for you in the future.

Greg: 20:06 – OK. So I mean like you said, car loans, credit cards, I mean those high interest rates, those kinds of things, definitely. I could see—and I’ve had it in my personal life. I know when I originally opened the gym, I had a business credit card and there was times where I would throw equipment on there cause we need more equipment. But I would never pay off the balance completely. And I’d constantly have that interest rate going up and up. And I remember at one point I maxed out that credit card, and it was all business purchases of course, but it still was maxed out. And if we need more equipment there is no more, no way to do that. But that interest kept accruing and I had to find a way to get out of it. And of course, I mean now I’m at a point where I have it but it’s completely of course paid off and I still just have it in case anything comes up. But it’s definitely not utilized like it used to be. And those would be definitely cases of utilizing bad debt.

Clay: 21:01 – It’s good to have a safety net, like there are times when you need to rely on that and it’s good to have it. The only other thing I’d say about the credit card, you know, example is I think a lot of times people will get themselves in trouble because they get their monthly statement. They see minimum payment due, some really small amount. On one hand at least always make sure you make the minimum payments There’s no reason not to. And it will have really bad effects on your personal and business credit if you don’t make at least that minimum payment. Usually that’s like, you know, somewhere between 20 and 100 dollars a month. But I think a lot of times people misunderstand that as oh, as long as I’m making a minimum payment, you know, I’m going to be paying this thing off. The reality is that somewhere in the fine print will show you if you only made the minimum payment on a $10,000 credit card balance, it’s going to take you like 20 years and you’re going to pay like 40 grand to actually get it paid off. So credit cards and forms of revolving credit like that, you know, that minimum payment may only be sufficient to cover the interest component of the balance and maybe small amount of principal and then the next month, interest is recalculated on, you know, the same or a higher balance. So ultimately it’s not actually paying down the balance or not paying down as quickly as people may think. Particularly when you’re making just that minimum payment.

Greg: 22:20 – That makes perfect sense. With being a gym owner or gym owners that are listening, even business owners, really we can go generic with it because I think the principles that are the exact same whether they’re a service-based business or a product-based business for good debt and bad debt. What are—if a gym owner or business owner who’s just starting out, what are the forms of good debt that you would say, hey, these are the things if you don’t have the cash to just start out with it, what are the forms of good debt that you feel like people should be going towards? And then what are the ways of bad debt that people should be avoiding?

Clay: 23:00 – Absolutely. And I think the first thing that I’ll say is, particularly if they’re just starting out or maybe you’re going to go through a relocation or some sort of transition in your business. You know, anyone that’s been in business for any amount of time is going to be able to attest that things don’t happen exactly as you plan. And they don’t happen as fast typically as you plan on them to have them to happen. There are unperceived delays or unforeseen expenses. Things are—they’re more expensive and they take longer than even your worst-case scenarios, more often than not. As entrepreneurs, we tend to be optimistic or even overly optimistic people in general. And so, you know, we may make this assumption that things are going to go phenomenal from day one. It’s all going to go according to plan and just the reality is that’s not the case. Having those additional cash reserves that additional safety cushion, that additional working capital not only will help keep you out of trouble, it’ll also keep more money available for things that you can use to generate more revenue. So when you think about good debt at an onset or smart uses of debt or things like equipment purchases. Hard assets, you know, and the beauty of functional fitness, you know, business is the equipment, it’s built for durability, it’s build for longevity, you know, and by and large it can resell in the secondary market a very quickly and be at a pretty good percentage relative to the original cost. I can attest to that because we’ve resold a lot of it. Versus you know, a bad debt example in that same situation would be maybe taking debt in order to pay your coaches or pay your rent. Because those are things—they don’t have any assets backing. And so if there’s ever an issue it can’t be liquidated and there’s really nothing there, and while those things will help ultimately grow your business, that’s the kind of stuff that you should be using your equity, your investment towards to make sure you’re maximizing that return on investment and not be running up a high credit card with a bunch of operating expenses since you’ve spent all of your money to initially outfit the gym with equipment, finance the equipment and then conserve your cash to invest into the operations of the business, to growing it by paying your staff marketing, et Cetera.

Greg: 25:21 – OK. So using your cash or like you said, assets, to pay rent, to pay your coaches to pay marketing, even that kind of stuff. But to leverage a loan or business loan to help kind of make sure that you can utilize that cash that you’re using.

Clay: 25:44 – Absolutely. And I think the other way to think about it too is again, getting back to that return on investment. So whether you’re starting up or you know, whether you’ve been in business and you know, I think InBody, you know, is a good example, a sort of tool that you know, is a . So let’s say just to make numbers round, you have a $10,000 piece of equipment that you want to save up to buy and then put it into service to help grow revenue. And based on your budget, you’re able to save $1,000 a month. It’s going to take you 10 months and then you can make that $10,000 purchase, put it in service in month 11 and then start returning investment on it. That means every month for 10 months, you have $1,000 of cash that can’t be spent on coaches, that can’t be spent on marketing, that can be spent on rent, that can be spent on any other thing that will help improve the business. It’s just sitting in an account earning next to nothing. You have 10 months where you’ve been putting this money away earning you no additional return. Then you buy the equipment and you start to put it in service and let’s say that you’re able to then generate $1,200 a month going forward, so now you start to get a very small relative to $10,000 cost return on that investment, which has already happened 10 months in the future. Compare that to at day one you finance the cost. You have a small up-front investment. You finance the bulk of that $10,000 purchase. You then have, let’s say 10 one thousand dollar payments to pay it off. You’re still earning that $1,200 a month, except you’re doing it right away in month one instead of in month 11. Now, that same thousand or 1,200, $1,000, you would have been just putting into a bank, you’re paying towards the equipment and earning $200 on top of that at day one.

Clay: 27:42 – So now by month 10, not only have you paid off the cost of the equipment you’ve generated, what an additional $2,000 in profit and now from month 11 on, that $1,200 a month is going right the bottom line. That kind of changes things where you can from the very beginning start to make a 20% return on that actual cost of the equipment. And by the way, that, you know, $1,000 is not, you know, entirely interest, there’s some return of principal or paid out on the balance on the, you know, the equipment asset. But you’re able to use a much more efficient way to generate a return on that same $10,000 investment, even if it costs you more from a borrowing perspective in order to do so, you’re able to make so much additional ROI so much sooner that then when you repeat that 10 months from now, that’s where you start to really get the benefit of compound interest, and that’s compounding the return on capital, which over the course of a longer horizon, when you start to pull back and look at the next five, 10, 15, 20 years of your business, that ability to earn return on excess capital and then earn a further return on that return is where you really start to think about exponential growth in your business or in your financial assets. And that can be for you personally, you know, as the owner of the business, that could be for the business itself. You’re in the driver’s seat in terms of how you utilize that extra money.

Greg: 29:21 – So, I mean like with me having that InBody and having a loan through it, once I get that paid off, I still not only am generating revenue like you talked about earlier with your example of the $1,200 and a thousand of it going towards a payment and still coming up with $200 in profit, but after you get done paying off that loan, now I have that InBody as an asset. I can still, I mean, I could sell it if I wanted to. Now I’m not going to probably make the same amount that I did when I bought it originally, but if I take into account that profit plus however many years I have where I’m making $1,200 a month off of it, compared to just the $200, it definitely extremely paid for itself. And then plus many, many more. So it sounds like if you took that into a bigger scope, you’re saying, I mean, this could be even, a purchase of a building if you’re owning a business that you’re putting this business in, and with ownership of that building, once that gets paid off, it would be kind of used in that same example if we kind of grew it out to a mortgage payment and the ownership of a business building.

Clay: 30:28 – Exactly. And you know, that can be the difference of having spent that money up front to get the initial equipment or initially outfit your facility versus saving that money, leveraging the capital more efficiently, where instead of, you know, being 20 years down the road before you’ve accumulated the cash flow to buy the business, maybe you are able to do it in five to 10, you know, based on a more efficient use of that same exact original investment.

Greg: 30:54 – Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Now, bad debt. I mean, I think most people can understand definitely credit cards. But what are other forms of bad debt that you would steer entrepreneurs and business owners away from so that they can make sure that hey, these are the things, I heard Clay on a podcast talking about them. I need to make sure that if I’m just starting out or even if I’m in business, how I can correct some of the actions that I’m currently taking and maybe even the behavioral changes. Because I know with me when I had a credit card for the business, it was just like my personal credit card. I can use it for whatever, and not being really mindful of it, but what are the debts, the bad debts that you feel like people should be steering clear of?

Clay: 31:37 – Number one, first and foremost, is what’s referred to as a merchant cash advance. So, you know, the company that actually processes all of your membership billing on a monthly basis, a lot of those companies offer a separate, you know, loan product where they will lend you based on your track record of generating X thousand dollars per month, some amount, and then they will then repay themselves by taking a small amount every single day out of the payments that come into the business And then they send you the remainder thereafter. What happens is a lot of times people tend to rely on these at the most difficult point from a cash flow perspective in their business. So they’re behind on some obligations, you know, rent or utilities and they need access to quick cash. And this solves that problem, but it ends up just becoming a BandAid, because without that money being invested into something that’s gonna generate additional revenue, now they just have an additional payment that’s coming out of their account and ultimately ends up strangling a lot of businesses or accelerating the downfall of a lot of businesses. So, these short-term merchant cash advances are like the number one thing that I would encourage people to stay away from, which is like another reason why it’s always best to try and secure debt when things aren’t going well, the business looks better, you may secure some sort of form of debt, you know, and you don’t necessarily need it but allows you to A, keep your own cash in the bank and then gives you this additional, you know, reserve versus trying to then find debt at a point when you know, the businesses not in a good position necessarily and needs it most. And that’s what tends to be most costly, as well as, you know, the most difficult to obtain. The other thing, that you know, I’ve seen more recently with a lot of the online based lenders is you know, these kind of short-term working capital loans. And some of them function similar to the way merchant cash advances in terms of like daily paybacks. But what here’ll be a lot of times is like access of you know, a relatively large amount of money that has to be paid back in like six months’ time. And first kind of comment on these is when you look at the interest or how it’s calculated, you know, a lot of times what’s not clear is that, you know, at a shorter payback time, the effective annual rate is much higher than, you know, just the amount that you’re paying on a monthly basis relative to what you borrowed, so the annual percentage yield or the effective annual rate could be in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. I’ve literally, no joke, seen something as high as 98%. And it’s just because, you know, a lot of times it’s not that clear and you have to really have a good understanding of what you’re signing up for, which most people don’t. And that’s, you know, not just gym owners or small business owners. That’s like the vast majority of America or the world. Financial literacy is just not something that’s, you know, strongly promoted in schools. So you’ve got to kind of learn it on your own.

Clay: 34:46 – So you know, a lot of times with these kinds of hidden rates or hidden fees that are buried in, but what happens with these kind of short-term working capital lines is you’re making, the interest payments or some diminimous payments and then the entire balance comes due at the end of that six-month period. And that’s a lot of times where people haven’t generated not only enough excess cash flow, but have not generated enough excess cash flow to cover the interest, but also the entire return of the payment and then at month seven, they find themselves in a really bad position because they have a large balance that needs to be repaid, which is why I’ll, you know, almost always encourage people to take, you know, term debt, and I think you mentioned at the beginning, a couple-year, you know, term loan where you pay down the balance over time, seems in the grand scheme of things relatively short, but actuality for business lending, it’s a pretty long period of time to get, you know, three or five years. You know, term debt is not necessarily an easy thing in the broader context of you know, lending or small business lending particularly.

Clay: 35:55 – So, whereas we have the merchant cash advance or these short-term working capital lines, the alternative is you know, a term obligation where you have fixed payments over a fixed period of time and once you come to the end of it, nothing else is owed. And so I think that’s one of the things that’s most important for people to understand is do my payments change at all over the course of time? You know, is there any obligation at the end? And that’s one of the big reasons why we’ve structured, you know, our two key financial products at Rigquipment Finance as term-debt obligations. On one hand we do the finance of equipment purchases. We use what’s called a full payout direct finance lease. It’s kind of a long-winded way of saying, you know, rent to own, but the gym owner knows day one, exactly what the stream of payments is going to look like. Once they make that final payment, they own the equipment outright thereafter. They don’t have that large upfront cash investment. They have a manageable stream of payments over the life of the lease, and then they own it afterwards. The other that we have as a more traditional term loan and that’s going to function for all intents and purposes the same way. It’s a fixed number of payments. It fully amortizes the original amount that’s borrowed so that once the obligation is over, there’s, you know, no balloon payment or no additional amount, anything that was financed with that term loan is then owned outright. And with both of these, the additional benefit for the gym owner is that, you know, they get to recognize an ownership position for tax and accounting purposes. So you’re going to get to write off that depreciation of the asset that was purchased, you get to write off the applied interest component of it. So it really goes a long way into actually lowering your effective cost to borrow.

Greg: 37:40 – That definitely makes sense. And I’ve utilized you guys before, and I hope more people out there, if they are listening to this, definitely reach out and have the ability to utilize. Now I have a unique ability that I get to work with the Free Help call. And I know one of the options that when a gym owner gets on the phone, or a business owner and we’re talking about their business and we’re talking about the Incubator and how it could possibly help where they’re trying to go and their Perfect Day and getting ’em there and showing them the path. Sometimes they don’t have the money upfront to be able to pay for the Incubation outright. And I know that we’ve talked about it in the past with utilizing Rigquip for certain things. But we’ve actually been able to really work with you guys and you guys actually allow us another option now. So if people are wanting to—if they don’t have the upfront capital and they want to finance, you’re giving them that ability. Can you kinda go into a little bit of detail of what that structure kind of looks like for gym owners if they are not knowing that hey, this is an option if they are going into the Incubation process or wanting to within Two-Brain?

Clay: 39:00 – Absolutely, Greg. And I’ll, to a certain extent, you know, kind of put my foot in my mouth relative to one of the things I said earlier, which is, you know, in our business, we typically only finance hard assets. Things that go into capital investments that go into the actual infrastructure of the business. This is the one example in our entire history where we’ll finance something that is not hard asset based. And the reason for that is, you know, we’ve work with Two-Brain for many years and we fully we believe that the Incubator program, you know, is going to ultimately result in improvements to the business and helping make the gym, you know, more profitable. So we do view it as an expense that is in the best long-term interest of the business. And so even though there’s not necessarily a specific piece of equipment that’s getting purchased in exchange for this, it’s a tool and in the same ways of helping gyms, you know, ultimately become more profitable. Something we kind of kicked around with the Z team at Two-Brain for a couple of years but ultimately what we have is, you know, a six or 12-month payment plan, you know, well-qualified applicants which is kind of a general catch-all term. But you know, meeting certain requirements, it can be 0% financed. For anyone that qualifies, it can be 0% for the first six months. I have a slightly different criteria to get to the 12 months. But you know, again, we view it as a way to help offset that initial investment, which in the grand scheme of things is, you know, is pretty small in terms of what it can generate for your business in the future.

Clay: 40:47 – But again, getting back to that return on investment, you know, Two-Brain, you guys already offer a guaranteed ROI. If you have a guaranteed ROI on a $5,000 up-front investment, think of what kind of guaranteed ROI you can really generate, you know, with a payment of, you know, 400 bucks a month, 415 to 430 at 12 months or 830 on the course of six months. So then, that return on that initial investment, you know, gets really significant in terms of, from a financial perspective, you know, let alone helping, you know, potentially save or really grow your business and all the, you know, subsequent benefits that come to you as an owner of doing that.

Greg: 41:34 – And that kind of what you were talking about earlier, too, of good debt. I mean, you’re generating value. We know—me and you know what the Incubator can definitely do. People that have never gone through it may not understand what it is of having a mentor be able to work with you one on one so that we can build the systems and get you closer to Perfect Day and understand the metrics that you’re supposed to be tracking. I mean, just overall everything, so that you’re a better business owner and the business is running a little bit smoother than you could ever expect. But it’s generating value. I mean, you could put new systems into play that is going to generate more value. It’s going to provide you with the numbers to look at so you know what to track and how to track it and how to make it better if it’s not going in the direction. So, overall it’s a loan process that’s going to bring more value to your members, to your coaches, to you, and it’s definitely something that people can utilize now, which was not really an option in the past, which is phenomenal for—I know if I was a new business owner that was starting out a gym, this was never an option when I started with Two-Brain. So it’s really nice to be able to have a partnership with you guys to be able to offer this to those gym owners.

Clay: 42:50 – Yeah. I think you know, you really hit the nail on the head, Greg, is, you don’t know what you don’t know. And a lot of times people either don’t realize that quick enough or realize it when it’s already too late. And so, you know, we wholeheartedly believe in the Two-Brain family and the benefits that gym owners get as a result of going through the Incubator and that ongoing one-on-one mentoring because at the end of the day, you know, and you talked a little about numbers and tracking I mean, there’s no value in a number. The value as the owner of a business is in knowing what to do about it. And being able to work with someone that’s seen these experiences, that has either lived it themselves as a gym owner or is currently working with a lot of other clients that are going through the same issues. Because you know, they vary in degree now in terms of—no issue that you run into as a gym owner, you’re the first one to ever run into. If you have the ability to leverage someone else who’s gone through it, how they responded to it and what was most efficient is hugely valuable. Because as an owner or operator of a business it’s on you to make the decisions about what sort of activities, what sort of products or services that your business offers and those activities and products and services results in financial output. They result in numbers which you then have to turn around and not only understand, but then be able to reapply those into making better decisions about different activities or more or less activities, which then results in a different financial output, which you then need to understand and analyze and continually improve and evolve your business method, the key, to long-term success, long-term growth, long-term sustainability in your business, we’re still ultimately going to, you know, serve you as the owner and your family well and allow you to continue to serve and help hundreds of thousands of people in your community on their path towards health and wellness, which is the exact reason that we’re all in this business.

Greg: 45:11 – Agreed and I definitely could not say it better myself. So Clay, thank you so much for being able to jump on Two-Brain Radio and sharing your expertise and kind of talking about the differences between good debt and bad debt so people could really understand, and hopefully this has brought value to them and educate them. And if they decide, hey, you know what, I want to reach out to Riqquip, whether it’s for a loan or even more information from them, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

Clay: 45:37 – Absolutely. Show ’em you always access us through our website,, that’s R I, G, Q, U, I P M W N You’ll find a bunch of helpful information right there on the homepage, including a payment calculator and calculator where you can start to explore at various amounts, finance over various term lengths. What does that mean for you or mean for the average company that’s approved for financing in terms of monthly payments. So it’s a good kind of quick litmus test, you know, in terms of, OK, I want to purchase an InBody or I want to purchase you know, 10 new rowers or Airbikes, you know, what does that really gonna require on a monthly payment basis? You can use that quote calculator right on our home page. And from there you can always connect with us via email You can apply directly through our website or you can find us on any one of our, you know, partner pages. Two-Brain is a great example, but all the big equipment vendors, Rogue Fitness, you’ll find us on their websites as well. Because you know, we’ve come from within this community and we work, you know, exclusively with boutique fitness businesses so typically anywhere you run into someone that can help you grow your business, you’re gonna find us. Website, email and phones are always available, 571-933-8339 and we look forward to hearing from you, learning about your business and learning about how we can help you, you know, grow and expand your community,

Greg: 47:14 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

On Wednesdays, Sean Woodland tells the best stories in the CrossFit community on Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland.

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Two-Brain Radio: Matt O’Keefe

Two-Brain Radio: Matt O’Keefe

Sean: 00:00 – Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. Today I speak with president of Loud and Live sports, Matt O’Keefe. But first, are you a stressed business owner who’s working too much and still struggling to make a profit? Do you want to grow your venture and reach the next level? Two-Brain Business is here to help with a free 60-minute call. This is not a sales pitch; just an opportunity for you to get real, actionable advice from an expert who’s built a successful business. For one-on-one guidance on how to take your business to the next level, book your Free Help call today at Matt O’Keefe has really made a name for himself on the business side of the CrossFit Games and not only is he Mat Fraser’s manager, but he also helps run one of the most high-profile Sanctional events of the Games season, Wodapalooza. Matt and I talk about how he got involved in the business of the CrossFit Games, why Loud and Live decided to expand from one to five sanctioned events in 2020 and what needs to happen moving forward for the CrossFit Games season to not only be successful but to also grow. Thanks for listening everyone.

Sean: 01:13 – Matt, thanks so much for joining me today. I know you are super busy there in Miami. How are you doing?

Matt: 01:18 – I’m great, Sean. Thanks for having me. Obviously it’s great to spend some time talking with you, but things are good. A little hectic coming off the Games, but you know, we’re into the preparation for the Sanctional season.

Sean: 01:32 – Yeah, we’re going to get into that in a second. But I know your name is, I think familiar to a lot of people. They might not just know exactly who you are, but let’s go back a little bit. How did you find CrossFit?

Matt: 01:42 – Yeah, it’s a great question. You know, I played some sports in college, you know, looked to stay fit after and was rolling around in the yoga, TRX, and you know, boot camp world and got bored and a coworker of mine when I was in the insurance industry said they found this cool thing called CrossFit, I should try it. And I stumbled to gym with him back in 2013 in Danvers Mass, which is just north of Boston, which funny enough, ended up being one of the original affiliates in the world, North Shore CrossFit. And I started my journey there and like most completely fell in love and wanted more. And you know, that sort of has brought me to today. You know, I had a really a life-changing event in there. You know, and I think obviously most of us with the whole community idea, you know, I just was hanging around working out with like-minded people that loved CrossFit and, you know, doing it together and people who suffer together stay together. And, you know, I loved it and you know, really wanted to get more involved with it and on the business side. And you know, dove in in 2014, you know, when we started a company called Red Line.

Sean: 03:06 – Yeah. I want to ask you about that. What was your first foray into the business side of things, because that’s how most people know you.

Matt: 03:14 – Yeah, you know, again, I started and loved it and was bored with my job. It was like perfect storm at that point and I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and never really stepped outside of that, you know, cookie-cutter corporate structure and I, you know, loved it and it was time for me to really try something on my own. And I started a clothing company, Red Line Gear back in 2014. And that was, you know, sort of my first sort of delve into the business side of things in the CrossFit World.

Sean: 03:47 – That then leads you to becoming Mat Fraser’s manager. How did that whole process unfold?

Matt: 03:52 – Yeah, that was, you know, Red Line introduced me to Mat. I worked out with a very close friend of Mat, who lifted with him in the national lifting program at the Olympic Training Center. And she, you know, went to watch Mat compete one weekend at what was the ECC prior to the ECC we even knew it. And I met Mat, I was starting a business and wanted to sponsor a or some athletes. He didn’t really have a whole lot going on at the time, so I asked him if he wanted to be sponsored by Red Line. So when I met Mat, really the start of that was, you know, on the sponsorship side and you know, quickly blossomed into more, you know, he was getting a lot of attention from brands. You know, I always had an attraction to the management, marketing side of sports and you know, I asked if I could help him a little bit and just sort of, you know, almost watch over him, and that quickly kind of moved to him getting very busy. And I urged him to, you know, think about an agent and, you know, he asked me to do it. And that really is how I started as a agent management space was, you know, he really, you know, had the trust in me from the personal level, didn’t necessarily want to hire somebody that was, you know, maybe formal in that side of things. And, so that, you know, that started our relationship as agent/manager and that, you know, sort of blossomed from there. You know, a lot of people asked him who was doing that for him and you know, quickly we managed, you know, 15 to 20 athletes within the next couple of years.

Sean: 05:36 – Obviously Mat is in great demand given all of his accomplishments and his fame. What’s it like helping him navigate his way through all that?

Matt: 05:45 – Man, it’s amazing. It’s, you know, I’m so proud of him. I think, you know, whether I was involved or not Mat was going to be successful because of the way he’s wired and how hard he works. You know, it’s been so fun to be a part of that. And, you know, be allowed to be a sort of keeper of his business and, you know, sort of how he is marketed. It’s fascinating, you know, he’s always stayed very true to who he is, you know, no matter what and never really—one of the things I learned a lot through Mat is that, you know, I guess the best way to put it is like he’s never forced marketing. It’s never been about being a marketable product. You know, he’s done it organically and stayed very true to himself and true to his values and who he is as a person. And that’s boded very well for him from a marketing perspective and it’s been very, very fun to be a part of that. He offered me opportunities that I would have never been given in the sports marketing world. So I’m very fortunate to have the experience with him, but it’s a lot of fun. He’s a super smart, shrewd businessman. And I’ve been able to learn a lot with and through and for him.

Sean: 07:12 – People may have heard the name Loud and Live Sports because of the involvement that that organization and your organization has with Wodapalooza. But before we get any deeper, what exactly is Loud and Live Entertainment?

Matt: 07:24 – Yeah, so Loud and Live, before the sports division was born about 18 months ago, Loud and Live is an entertainment and marketing agency. So they do very similar to what we do on the sports side we do. Loud and Live owns, operates, promotes events, which are music events. So we are promoting concerts. We operate music festivals. We manage talent, so we have music talent, very Latin-focused that we manage. And we provide marketing services for brands. You know, my partners, Nelson and Marco, we’re part of a festival venture prior that was acquired. And it was a very heavy marketing-services business. So we do a lot of work with a lot of the big brands in the world. Walmart, Dr. Pepper Snapple, McDonald’s, like they’ve done a lot of marketing work for brands like that in the past. So that’s sort of the structure of the agency from the Loud and Live Entertainment side. So we’re very, you know, cookie-a cutter agency. We have marketing, manage talent and we promoted events.

Sean: 08:37 – How did you get involved with Loud and Live Sports?

Matt: 08:41 – Yeah, it was really a funny sort of scenario that played out. I think Nelson and Marco prior to me even being involved attended an event in Miami called Wodapalooza. They’ve always been event promoters. They’ve, you know, and they immediately fell in love with the culture and the action that Wodapalooza provided and wanted to be a bigger part of it. They have done a lot of business in the Miami market. And they were introduced to the founders, Steve and Guido, and they wanted to get involved and felt that they could enhance it. And Steve and Guido at the time were looking for partners to help take the events to the next level. So Marco and Nelson, Loud and Live, bought a stake in Wodapalooza about three years ago now. And they operated that for about a year with the founders. And I got asked to consult on the business. They were looking to get more involved with athletes and brands and they were introduced to me by the founders as someone that was very connected to that world. So I met those guys in January of 18 on a consulting agreement. And, you know, it just kind of went from there. I fell in love with those guys and what they were doing. You know, we wanted to get better on the management side and they provided an awesome platform and opportunity to really do a better job for our clients, the athletes. And you know, we had made a decision to merge forces shortly after this 18 Wodapalooza event. And you know, a part of that you know, was going to be, you know, launching a sports division that would operate fitness events and Wodapalooza was the start to that for me.

Sean: 10:27 – And even before it became the sanctioned event that we know now, Wodapalooza was always viewed as one of the best competitions out there out of the season. How were you guys able to build that up to the event that we now know today?

Matt: 10:40 – Yeah, I think, you know, and a lot of that has nothing to do with me really. You know, I feel a high sense of responsibility to continue what a lot of other people have built. Wodapalooza was a phenomenal event when I arrived. We’ve worked really hard to make it, you know, better and enhance what has already been built. But you know, prior to sanctioning, prior to Matt O’Keefe, prior to Loud and Live, you know, Wodapalooza was, you know, what I always marked on the calendar as really the off-season event that I wanted to be at and athletes wanted to be at. It was this phenomenal, annual touchpoint for the masses to come and party and express their fitness in Miami annually. You know, we feel very honored and privileged to be a part of now the season, but I think, you know, it’s really important that Wodapalooza is obviously a lot more than just that. You know, there’s 2,000-some athletes that compete at Wodapalooza annually. It’s really analogous to the 5k in marathon crowd that would run or triathlon. This is a point on the calendar every year that the everyday man, like you and I, Sean, might train to be a part of expressing our fitness. So it’s an unbelievable event. It’s an unbelievable community in its own right. You know, people love—whether they spectate, they volunteer or they compete, there’s a group of people that identify heavily with the Wodapalooza event and brand. And you know, it’s really taken on a life of its own. And again, it’s very important to point out that, you know, we’re facilitating that and we’re, you know, now a part of that. But that’s something that was born a lot longer before we ever arrived.

Sean: 12:33 – You’re going from one sanctioned event in 2019 and I believe it’s five that you’re going to be running, coming up here for the 2020 season. Why did you guys make the decision to sort of expand that quickly?

Matt: 12:45 – Yeah, I think we looked at immediately when I arrived at, you know, how do we expand the Wodapalooza brand, you know, is there opportunity to do that? Which I still think there probably is, you know, in key markets, but we love the sport. We love being a part of that, you know, creating platforms for people to express their fitness and also really love the elite side of the sport. We’re heavily invested with athletes, with sanctioning coming and the reality of this being more of a tour-type style season, we wanted to be more involved, and you know, we jumped at any opportunity that came our way. We strategically placed ourselves in some markets that we have a lot of involvement in like Mexico and Spain. We had, you know, prior to even me, looked at possibly doing an event in California with the Wodapalooza brands. So that West Coast event made a lot of sense for us because I believe and we will see that this year as it plays out, that market really needs and wants something big from a festival component with functional fitness. You know, the answer overall to that is we love CrossFit. We love the sport of fitness. We wanted to be more involved and we want to be even more involved passed where we are now. So, we’re excited where we’re at. We have a big year, a lot of work to do. We obviously just acquired Granite Games, which is another amazing event that, again was born with, a whole other group that we now feel a huge sense of responsibility to facilitate and grow and add value to. But yeah, we love this sport and wanted to be a big part of it and wanted to do more.

Sean: 14:37 – How do you duplicate the success that you’ve had with Wodapalooza with these other sanctioned events while helping them sort of keep their individual identities that they’ve been able to build like the Granite Games?

Matt: 14:48 – Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. What you just said is that they’re, you know, they all have to have their own identity, right? I think that, you know, what we do know is that we want them all to have a very, key community component. We want those local communities to participate in those events, and we want to give access to those local communities. So I think it’s really important that those events are culturally sound and contribute to the local community. So, you know, we’re looking to just honestly facilitate that. I think the success of each of those events is that they have their own identity. You know, Wodapalooza is its own thing and West Coast Classic can’t and shouldn’t be that. That is an event that the California and West Coast community—we want them to wrap themselves around, invest in and be a part of and we want it to be very targeted to how they feel that event should look and feel and run. And the same goes for any of those events, you know, in Spain and Mexico and Granite Games. Those events need to be, you know, about those local communities. You know, I think it’s easy to get wrapped in the sanctioned piece and being these global properties that, you know, attract the superstars, which I think there will always be a component of. But I think the real lifeblood of those events has to be the local community, the local gym that helped either grow the ones that are already established or will help grow the ones that we are now establishing.

Sean: 16:27 – We’ll be right back with more from Matt O’Keefe after this.

Chris: 16:31 – Hello my friends. It is Chris Cooper here. Since 2009 I have been writing daily blog posts, producing podcasts, videos, all kinds of stuff on social media with one mission in mind: to make gyms profitable. I came to that mission because I was an unprofitable gym owner. It almost ruined my finances and almost ruined my career, my marriage, everything. And since that day, since I made my recovery, I have wanted to help other gym owners become profitable, too. It’s part of my mission to the world because if you’re profitable, you’ll be here changing lives of thousands of your clients for the next 30 years. I think together we can have a tremendous impact. When we started mentorship, I did every single call myself. I was doing up to a thousand free calls a year and I was doing 10 calls with people who signed up for our early mentorship program, but the Incubator has been updated and improved a dozen times since then. Now the Incubator is really the sum of all of our experiences with over 800 gyms worldwide. In the Two-Brain mentorship program, we can now learn from everybody. We can collate data, we can see what’s working where and when and what the new gold standards are as they emerge. When somebody has a great idea, we can test it objectively and say, “Will this work for everyone or will it work for people on the West Coast or on the East Coast?” We can do that with little things like Facebook ads. We can also do that with operations and opening times and playbooks. All the questions that you have about the gym, we can answer them with data and with proof now. That’s the Incubator. It’s more than what I wrote about. It’s more than my experience. It is the best standard in the fitness industry, period. And I hope to see you in there.

Sean: 18:13 – You’re going to have five of, I think, what are nearly 30 sanctioned events next year. How is there enough bandwidth or how are there enough eyeballs or fan interest for all of these events to succeed?

Matt: 18:29 – Yeah, that’s a great question and I think, you know, a lot of that will play out. I think what we do know is that the global community wants this, right? Like the competitive side of CrossFit, the participation side of CrossFit and functional fitness is real. You know, people want to get out, they want to volunteer, they want to spectate it, they want to see Mat Fraser on the floor, Katrin Davidsdottir, Tia-Clair Toomey. They want to interact with that crowd, but they also want to move barbells and do gymnastics on the same floor that they’re doing. And I think, you know, the nice part, the cool part, which I’ve been able to see even with the 15 this year is it looks different and it feels different and it’s expressed in different ways in different communities. And I think that that’s really what the life of this thing is, is that, you know, Egypt will express this in a certain manner that a lot of people will be attracted to and that community we are super proud of and I think the global community will wrap themselves around. And I think, you know, it’s the same for all of these events. I think that on paper it looks like a lot of events, but you know, we see it annually through the Open, right? There’s so much participation globally and there’s so many people that want to compete. You know, I think there’s some sort of number, that like there’s 5,000 CrossFit-style events that happen annually around the world, you know, and these are just 30 that are being propped up to be a little more significant in that realm. And I think that you know, it’ll be interesting to see from a sanctioning perspective how that all plays out, what the participation is. You know, are the athletes gonna run around the world or are they going to stick to some key events, you know, that have more prize money. I don’t know sort of how that will play out, but I do know that the world wants more access to this. The world wants to participate in this and spectate this, and you know, I have high expectations for how this plays out over the next year.

Sean: 20:42 – Along those lines, and this may be getting too much into the weeds, so I apologize if it is, but in order for these events to be successful, like they got to find a way to make money. How do events like this make a profit?

Matt: 20:55 – Yeah, it’s a great question. I think that, you know, for us, I can only really speak to kind of how we operate. I think it’s a great question and it’s obviously something that I think everybody in the market is concerned with is the sustainability of an event. Events are really hard, you know, it’s a tough business model and I think the idea around that is value. I think there are so many components to it. There’s volunteers. There’s athletes, there’s brands and there’s consumers and you have to provide a really quality experience to all of those components to be successful. And you know, there has to be a return for each of them. A volunteer has to have a very good experience. There are very big components to operating an event like these and you know, the same goes for all the other pillars, you know, the athletes have to have a phenomenal experience. I think that you have to build those things from the ground up and you have to be very cognizant of creating an awesome opportunity experience for all of those components in order to be successful. I think the long-term value for all of this as an event organizer is, you know, people watching, right? In the end, if people want to watch this, if you’re putting a good product on the floor that eyeballs are on, then that’s the ability to sustain yourself in the long-term, through either media or on-site participation.

Sean: 22:27 – What, if anything, are you going to be doing differently with not only just Wodapalooza but your events in general this season that maybe you didn’t do last season?

Matt: 22:36 – Yeah, I think that’s an awesome question. Like, I think we’re always looking to get better. People will look at Wodapalooza and think like, you know, we grew so much last year, so many people came down and participated, watched, you know, we’re tweaking that, you know, we’re launching three new properties. We have a new property we acquired that we’re gonna move to a new venue to hopefully, you know, give more access, better access to people that want to come and participate in it. I think, you know, each of them has, you know, sort of key goals that we need to accomplish for each. But, you know, yeah, I mean, Wodapalooza, we’re adding a stage. The biggest criticism we get is access. Right? You know, it looks like the most accessible event in the world, but it’s honestly the least accessible because, you know, people get told “No.” When people do the Open, they’re doing it for fun and their gym. When people do our online qualifier for Wodapalooza they want to go there, right? So we’re trying to find ways to put more people on the floor because, you know, we have tens of thousands of people that want to participate in it. So we’re working on that. You know, when it comes to the other properties, we’re trying to make them different, right? Like, we want to, you know, like Madrid for instance, we’re going to try to really focus on the elite side with making that the world’s biggest opportunity for teams to participate in, from a prize-money perspective. So we’ll try to attract the super teams in Madrid and, you know, put huge money up on that side. So guys like Mat and Tia put a team together and Pat and his Deca team come and want to participate in. It’s not necessarily a opportunity for them to qualify for the Games, but they’re looking at that as an opportunity to just do something fun and maybe make some money.

Matt: 24:25 – You know, we’re looking in Madrid at making something fun on a beach. We’re looking to diversify those events and opportunities and you know, and then the current events, we’re looking to get better. Granite Games, I mentioned a move, you know, we’re gonna move to a major city with Granite Games. It’s in St. Cloud, Minnesota, now, we’re gonna try to move to either Minneapolis or Chicago. And you know, again, that’s another event. Try to give more access to it. There’s people that get told “no” by that event. So how do we build more opportunities for people to get on the floor? In the end, the overarching theme for us is how do we give as many people access to the floor as we possibly can. That the biggest opportunity for the community in general. People want to compete, right? We’ve got to build, you know, the ability for people to get on the floor. It’s hard because you can’t take 10,000 athletes at Wodapalooza or Granite Games. But we’re trying very hard to build more and more opportunity for people to go on the floor.

Sean: 25:37 – You mentioned the Wodapalooza online qualifier, you are currently working on the international online qualifier. What exactly is that?

Matt: 25:46 – Yeah, it’s an exciting, you know, test really. As people who are, you know, super invested in the sport side, the elite component, we’ve identified that there’s a lot going on with, you know, the qualifying world. You know, if there’s 30 events, there’s 30 people that are asking for an athlete to qualify through a different component, you know, and as sanctioned owners, we’ve talked a lot about, you know, that being a really painful barrier of entry. And so what we’ve tried to do is test this year with four events, you know, ours, South Fit, Filthy 150 and Atlas Games, what it looks like for people to do one qualifier and have access to multiple events. And I think, you know, we’ve already had a ton of success and great feedback from the market. And I think, you know, what we would love to do is see how that works moving forward. Is it all people doing one? Is there multiple touch points on the calendar that athletes qualify through for sanctioned events? You know, and by the way, I will always say this and I’ve said it in prior interviews, like we love the Open and believe in the Open and we’re having certain events qualify through that as well. I think that we’re all ready to work together as the answer to that. This is the first expression of that to try and solve the problem of, you know, athletes doing 10 qualifiers for 10 events. You know, and I think this is the test for it. I think I would say I’d give it like a B+ right now in execution. I think we’ll get better with it. And I think, you know, we’ve been able to talk to a lot of other sanctioned owners about it and I think, you know, you’ll see in the years to come that a lot of us will try to work together so that we can solve that problem.

Sean: 27:36 – Looking forward to 2020, what do you think absolutely needs to happen for the CrossFit Games and the surrounding season and the sanctioned events to not only be successful but to also grow?

Matt: 27:48 – I think that we need to work together. Like I think that that’s, you know, we all love this, the sport, we love the CrossFit Games, you know, it’s the pinnacle of our season. We have a really cool group of sanctioned owners that have that mindset of togetherness, community. We want to provide awesome platforms for people to express their fitness, whether it’s elite or not. I think that we just need to stick together, continue to work together. You know, nobody’s arrived. We’ve got the opportunities to facilitate something great. Like CrossFit has gotten over a million humps from becoming this like mainstay sport, and there’s still work to be done. But people love this. People love to watch this whether they’re in a CrossFit gym or not. And we all need to work together to you know, continue to grow. I think that’s it in the end. I think, you know, the Games made a huge change this year to how it functions and I think it’s on the right track. I think that, you know, even they’ll make some changes to that. Again, I don’t know what those will be and how they will come to the market. But you know, I think that allowing more access to the globe is a great opportunity for the sport in general to globalize, not only through sanctioning but at the actual Games. We all just need to work together and I think we all have that mindset and we all feel a huge sense of responsibility to see this thing through. I just always think personally, and I know a lot of people in the sport do, even down from CrossFit HQ that if we continue to think what this looks like 50 years from now, I think we’ll be OK. I think if we keep that as our responsibility as you know, as sort of what our role is in this, I think that how we change and how we move forward and the opportunities that we create for the community and the environment will reflect that.

Sean: 29:52 – You mentioned globalization. One thing that Loud and Live was able to do is that you are able to do the first Spanish language broadcast of the CrossFit Games. How did that go for you?

Matt: 30:02 – Oh man, I’m so proud of that. I’m an Irish kid from Boston that doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish so it’s interesting for me, but it’s such a big part of Loud and Live. A lot of my partners are Cuban and El Salvadorian. We have a lot of involvement in LatAm and Spain. To bring that to the world and be the first to do that was a huge sense of pride for us. And the results were phenomenal. It speaks to the community and how strong that side of it is. Our numbers were staggering and we got a lot of feedback. We need to get better. But I’ll tell you that to me was fascinating, not just in Spanish and French and Portuguese and Russian, no matter what it was, the fact, the numbers that were put out and the involvement and the engagement on that. I mean, more people watched the CrossFit Games this year than ever in history. And I think, you know, we were really honored to be a small part of that.

Sean: 31:04 – What do now the sort of next couple of weeks, couple months look like for you and what you’re putting together here?

Matt: 31:12 – Busy. The Sunday of the CrossFit Games is, you know, a celebration. It’s exciting. You know, we have so many athletes that we celebrate with because of our involvement on that side. It also marks the transition into our time of the year. Wodapalooza is always, you know, on our shoulder, looking at us, telling us it’s time, right. But this is really time, right? We’re in deep in the planning phase of that. We have four other events. We’re just getting really organized to operate February through July for our five events. You know, we have the Open upon us, you know, which is new this year in October. We have our online challenge. We’re just gearing up and getting ready to execute and make sure that we really bring something the community is proud of in each of those communities right now.

Sean: 32:07 – Matt, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this, man. I know you are super busy and I know I speak for a lot of people when I say we cannot wait to see what you guys have to bring with your events in 2020.

Matt: 32:18 – Well, I appreciate that. Thanks for taking the time and we’re proud of all the stuff you guys are doing. I think just to echo what I was saying before, like we all keep working together and keep loving this thing and what we’re doing and I think the results will be phenomenal.

Sean: 32:34 – All right, Matt. Thank you so much again. I really appreciate it.

Matt: 32:36 – Thanks, Sean.

Sean: 32:38 – Big thanks to Matt O’Keefe who is seriously one of the busiest men in CrossFit, not only right now but always. You can follow him on Instagram. He’s @okeefmr. That’s O K E E F M R. For more information on Loud and Live, you can head to or follow them on Instagram @loudlivesports. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper will show you what to do and how to avoid mistakes that can sink a business. Reader and gym owner Brendon Collins says, quote, “If you’re a business owner in the service industry, you must read this book,” end quote. Get your copy of the bestseller “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” on Amazon today. Thanks for joining us everyone. We’ll see you next time.


This is our NEW podcast. Two-Brain Marketing, where we’ll focus on sales and digital marketing, runs every Monday. Your host is Mateo Lopez!

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Two-Brain Radio: Jesse Topp

Two-Brain Radio: Jesse Topp

Mateo: 00:00 – Hey, it’s Mateo of Two-Brain Marketing. On this edition of the Two-Brain Marketing podcast, I’m talking with Jesse Topp from Topp Performance. You’ll learn about his experience transitioning from being a competitive Brazilian Jujitsu fighter to a personal trainer and then to a martial arts and CrossFit gym owner. You’ll also learn about his paid advertising system and how last month he spent $180 on ads and made $5,000 in front-end sales. So you don’t want to miss this. Make sure to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio for more marketing tips and secrets each week.

Greg: 00:41 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Greg: 01:00 – We would like to thank another one of our amazing sponsors, UpLaunch. Over the amount of time that you’ve had your business, how many people have come through your doors and never signed up for a membership? When I first opened, I remember getting everybody’s name and emails because that’s what I was told was the best way to start the conversation with potential new members. The big problem was I never knew what to say. Over many years, I spent countless hours developing plenty of emails to send to these new members or people that are thinking about signing up for a membership. This took a lot of time, probably way too long, and could have been spent on more productive things. If you’re in the same situation I was, don’t waste any more time and book a free session with UpLaunch. UpLaunch has over a hundred prebuilt emails to convert new leads into members and when your members decide to take a break, they have a whole campaign to get them back through the doors. You have the ability to text message members right from the app and with integrations like Google Calendar, Facebook and over a hundred more via Zapier, UpLaunch has you covered. UpLaunch was created by gym owners for gym owners. Head over to today to get the conversation started with your future and past clients.

Mateo: 02:11 – Hello. Welcome to the Two-Brain Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Mateo. I’m one of the digital marketing mentors at Two-Brain Business. Thanks for joining us. This is your weekly dose of digital marketing magic, and in today’s episode, special guest Jesse Topp, owner of Topp Performance. You’ll learn more about his experience and how last month, he spent $180 on ads and he was able to generate $5,000 in front-end sales. So we want to hear all about that. Jesse, how are you?

Jesse: 02:36 – I’m good, I’m good. Thanks for having me.

Mateo: 02:38 – Topp with two P’s, huh?

Jesse: 02:40 – That’s my last name. Yeah, Topp Performance, two P’s made the name. If I had to do it again, I would not use my name in the business but—

Mateo: 02:46 – Oh really, why?

Jesse: 02:48 – Well just for the long run.

Mateo: 02:50 – Yeah, I gotcha. You don’t want to have that icon problem. Probably having your name in the brand is tough for that. So tell us a little bit about, you know, who you are, where you’re from and a little bit about your business.

Jesse: 03:06 – I’m 37 I live in Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada. I have a martial arts business. Jiu-Jitsu’s my total 100% passion. And then in the midst I used to compete a lot. I’m 37 now. In the midst of competing, I was trying to find the right strength and conditioning regimen. I’d obviously trained on the weights for years, but the bodybuilding wasn’t working much for me anymore. When I was on the mats, I was putting on too much size. So I was fighting at a heavier weight. And so a friend introduced me to CrossFit. I was not an advocate of it at the time. And then once I trained for about three months in CrossFit, I went back to the competition scene in Jujitsu around Ontario, Canada, and it was like I had a secret weapon. Just like with the explosiveness of my hips and my cardiovascular system, my recovery time was better. And then I just totally bought in. So I had the martial arts gym and then I started a strength and conditioning center, affiliated with CrossFit, which is a amazing brand, and here we are.

Mateo: 03:55 – Wow. So is it Brazilian Jujitsu or just normal—.

Jesse: 03:59 – Brazilian jujitsu. We’re under another affiliation, Mestre Sylvio Behring from Brazil. Heavy in self-defense, awareness, self-awareness and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for sport.

Mateo: 04:09 – Wow, that’s pretty hardcore, man. So when you were competing, I imagine yeah, CrossFit probably helped a lot with the power and getting mobile, too, and yeah, it’s great. Awesome. So you have two gyms then? They’re connected, physically or—

Jesse: 04:24 – They’re connected; I have martial arts on the top floor. It’s like a 7,000-square-foot facility. Martial arts on the top floor. And then underneath is CrossFit and personal training.

Mateo: 04:34 – Nice. And so how long has the—maybe you already said, how long has the facility been open?

Jesse: 04:39 – So I’ve had the brand or I’ve had my business, you know, we scaled up accordingly in the last three years. I started out in like a 450-square-foot spot. I was renting off another martial arts club in a town over. I built up a personal training client list and then opened another location. I had a trainer running that for me and then I decided—it was doing quite well, so I decided to go all in on the second location and I closed the first one. I hope to go back there in the near future. And then, yeah, we started the personal training, martial arts, and then it took right off with the CrossFit and strength-and-conditioning program.

Mateo: 05:08 – Tell me a little bit more about that if you can. Cause I didn’t experience that where, you know, I’m kinda subleasing my own space or an existing space trying to build my own PT book, I never did any of that. But I know there are a lot of people who listen to this who are or were in a similar boat. Right, where you’re kind of trying to build up a book within an existing business and then hoping to at one point off shoot on your own. What was that experience like and do you have like any advice for people who are trying to build up that book enough so that you can go and open your own practice?

Jesse: 05:40 – Great question. I really just did it because I was passionate. And like I said, I was competing, I was a broke fighter, so you know, people would ask me, hey, can you strength and condition me or can you do privates with me? So I was doing that just to basically get by and compete. It’s expensive, the decision to compete. And then it just kind of blossomed something more. I like helping people, my passion shined through, I think, so I’m told. If I had any advice it would be 100% the game-changing thing for me was I hired a mentor. It was my first mentor I hired, it was about three years ago and it totally just—it opened my eyes to another level and then since I joined with Two-Brain Business, it’s like blowing up.

Mateo: 06:17 – Wow. And how would you approach, like how do you get your first couple of sales and your first couple of PT clients when you’re just starting off like that?

Jesse: 06:24 – I just used awareness on Facebook, so I made like these just kind of shoddy-looking ads on Canva. Actually I don’t think I was using Canva, I think it was just like some app on my Samsung, and it looked okay to me at the time and now I look back at these ads and I’m like oh man, they were weren’t ads. They were just like, they were just graphics with my name and a phone number on it. But you know, people—I learned since what I did was I solved a problem, right? So people want to lose weight and feel great. I would write that in there because that’s what I knew I could offer. And before—it didn’t take me very long. Within a year I had a pretty full client list and had to bring on another trainer.

Mateo: 06:58 – And are you just approaching people who walking around or you just have these images and you’re putting them out and people are just kind of finding out about you or?

Jesse: 07:05 – I’ll be transparent. So now I really target market with the help of Two-Brain and past people. But at the time it was just basically like picking up a can of paint and throwing it at the wall and seeing what would stick. And it worked for that situation. I could never do that now, but it worked for that situation.

Mateo: 07:22 – Gotcha. You had a little less responsibilities and so you could kind of hustle a bit more and just kind of ride off the—I got you. I totally got you. All right. Awesome.

Jesse: 07:35 – One other piece of advice starting out, would be sales. So a lot of—I know for me like as a personal trainer, I help people, I teach them how to defend themselves. I didn’t know how to sell. I read a few sales books, “Sales First,” and that was a game changer to realize like sales, if you look at it the right way, you’re helping people, you’re not being like that used-car salesman, you know, for lack of a better term.

Mateo: 07:55 – Well and you have no choice, too, at that point, right? You’ve got no one, if you’re trying to build up a book of private clients. You have to be able to sell. And I think you’re totally right. Like you just approach it with you’re helping first, that’s it. You know you’re painting that picture. You’re helping first and that’s all it is.

Chris: 08:13 – Hello my friends, it is Chris Cooper here. Since 2009, I have been writing daily blog posts, producing podcasts, videos, all kinds of stuff on social media with one mission in mind: to make gyms profitable. I came to that mission because I was an unprofitable gym owner. It almost ruined my finances, it almost ruined my career, my marriage, everything, and since that day, since I made my recovery, I have wanted to help other gym owners become profitable too. It’s part of my mission to the world because if you’re profitable, you’ll be here changing the lives of thousands of your clients for the next 30 years. I think together we can have a tremendous impact. When we started mentorship, I did every single call myself. I was doing up to a thousand free calls a year and I was doing 10 calls with people who signed up for our early mentorship program. But the Incubator has been updated and improved a dozen times since then.

Chris: 09:08 – Now the Incubator is really the sum of all of our experiences. With over 800 gyms worldwide in the Two-Brain mentorship program, we can now learn from everybody. We can collate data, we can see what’s working where and when and what the new gold standards are as they emerge. When somebody has a great idea, we can test it objectively and say, will this work for everyone or will it work for people on the West Coast or on the East Coast. We can do that with little things like Facebook ads. We can also do that with operations and opening times and playbooks. All the questions that you have about the gym, we can answer them with data and with proof now. That’s the Incubator. It’s more than what I wrote about. It’s more than my experience. It is the best standard in the fitness industry, period. And I hope to see you in there.

Mateo: 09:56 – OK. So it sounds like you’ve had some mentors in the past. It sounds like you’ve gone to a lot of changes just in the physical space and adding on these different services. What was life kind of like pre-Two-Brain for you?

Jesse: 10:12 – No systems, to sum it up perfectly. It was me in the business, not really wanting to spend money on staffing, no systems. You know, we always use that thing like if I was gonna get hit tomorrow, or I was gone, my business would collapse, 100% it would collapse at that time. Now, it wouldn’t. Now I have systems, you know, we talked about the marketing stuff. I don’t just like throw the thing at the wall, it’s all targeted. I know exactly how much ad spend I’m putting in and what I’m going to get in ROI or hopefully get in ROI. As far as managing people, my timetable, how I allocate my funding, the list goes on and on. It’s calculated.

Mateo: 10:44 – Nice. And what was kind of like the biggest struggle you were facing, kind of leading up to saying, “Hey, you know what, I’m gonna try this Chris Cooper guy out,” you know?

Jesse: 10:52 – Yeah. I started reading, actually I started hearing this podcast and I ordered all of his books. I’m an all-or-nothing person. I ordered them all, I read them all, I listened to the audiobook, and I just liked the way Chris like, you know, presented it, about helping people first. You know, like you have something to offer the community, we just have to realize it. So the mindset shift.

Mateo: 11:07 – What made you decide to finally pulled the trigger, what was the biggest problem you were kind of facing? What was the pain point for you?

Jesse: 11:13 – Scale. Scaling. I want to scale the business, I wanted to grow bigger, I wanted to help more people. I wanted to grow my martial-arts team. I had targets in my mind. I wanted to hit like long-term goals and I knew that I needed some sort of scalability, systems being the biggest one.

Mateo: 11:26 – Nice. And I know you said you work with Brian and then Kaleda; since then, what were kind of biggest changes you started to see after the first couple months in mentorship?

Jesse: 11:36 – An increase in revenue, for sure. I lowered my stress; the stress is just allocated differently. Now I’m able to spend my time doing other things. My staffing, how to manage my staff a lot better.

Mateo: 11:47 – Yeah. How many people do you have on staff?

Jesse: 11:49 – Now I have four full time. And between the CrossFit and martial arts, 15 contracts coaches.

Mateo: 11:56 – Right. I imagine with the two kind of facilities or the two levels, you probably have a good amount of staff. What was that process like trying to get people on board with the new vision once you started to try to implement some of these new systems, what was that process like trying to get everyone on board and on the same page with so many bodies?

Jesse: 12:15 – It was difficult. So I started bringing it in, you know, one piece at a time. Next piece, next piece. I was met with some resistance. Some of those people are no longer with us and that’s okay. I wish them well, but I know I just had to keep on like, clarity, like pinpoint focus. This is where we’re going. If I can bring my staff with me too, I always make sure I always refer to it like our business runs with me behind the scenes where some companies and corporations run with like the CEO up front. I like to stay in the back because without people beside me or in front of me, there really is no me, I’m back to personal training, you know, subleasing space.

Mateo: 12:48 – Right. So you had some tough conversations, but it sounds like you were able to eventually get everyone—the right seats on the bus filled.

Jesse: 12:57 – Yup. For sure.

Mateo: 12:58 – And I’m curious about this next question because I know you have these two kind of pieces to your business. So in your own words, what do you sell and then how do you sell it?

Jesse: 13:07 – I sell lifestyle change. So I myself had under—I went through a large lifestyle change about six years ago. I quit drinking. I gave up that whole party lifestyle at the end of my twenties. I’ve been sober now just over five years. And I never knew how good I would be able to feel, so I to pass that on to other people. Now the people that come into the gym, they find their lifestyle change through health, fitness, martial arts, body awareness, confidence, you know, feeling good in their skin. That’s what I sell.

Mateo: 13:34 – That’s awesome, man, that’s beautiful. Let’s get into the weeds a little bit now with the work you did with Kaleda. Walk us through, if you don’t mind, your paid advertising system. How do you structure it ? Is this just for the strength-and-conditioning folks downstairs?

Jesse: 13:48 – Yes, so we just started it with—I had done it before for a little bit of martial arts, but nothing in real like targeted manner. And then Kalita guided me through with the Two-Brain system, how to set up my ad account, how to set up my campaigns, my ad sets, create ads, my copy, how important the image was, and then how to track that. So just like having the spreadsheet to track it and knowing exactly where my money’s going, not just, you know, again, not just throwing money out the window and seeing what comes back. That’s what I did for a while and it adds up quickly. Like if you’re putting in money into Google Adwords and Facebook marketing, you know, before you know you’re into a thousand, two thousand, three thousand dollars, so just the structured, the way it’s laid out, like the structured videos and you know, the explanations. And then the mentorship to follow-up with.

Mateo: 14:31 – Awesome, man. So a lead comes in for you guys. Lead comes in. What happens?

Jesse: 14:36 – Oh, I love this system. Lead comes in, it instantly gets zapped in my Google Sheet. Once it goes to Google Sheets, Google Sheets zaps it to my phone, so I get a text on my phone saying, you’ve got a new lead. It’s this person. This is the phone number. I used to call them right away, but now I have my front desk. I send a screenshot to my front desk once a day. When she gets in or if she wants to do it from home, she bills me the hours. She calls the person, hey, let’s get you booked in for the No-Sweat Intro. Usually eight times out of 10 we find, 7-8 times out of 10 they already book in through the funnel software and then it books right into my Google calendar and I get a notification every day, these are the people you need to meet, this is what they’re coming for. They come down and sit down and sit with me and I sit at my desk and I lay the paperwork out, what I can do for them, if I can help them. If I can’t, then I tell them I can’t. I’m completely transparent about it, but if I can then we go from there.

Mateo: 15:26 – Yeah. Walk me through that a little bit more. I’m curious your perspective on this, coming from the personal-training background and coming from the martial arts background, that person walks in to meet you. What happens? Walk me through.

Jesse: 15:39 – I make it personal right away. I make sure I know their name. They come in and they sit down in my office. My office is a nice office. I put resources into it so that when people come in it’s like, wow, we’re not in the nicest building but this is nice. They sit down, it’s a good feel. I even go to the step of having like a Doterra diffuser on, like just for a scent, you know what I mean? And also because I love them. And then they come in and I say, OK, tell me what’s going on. I take them through the No-Sweat Intro, I’ve kind of customized it a bit myself. You know, like I go through what’s happening in their life, where I can help them, what they want to do, how they can accomplish it. And then I try to tie some sort of emotion to it. And I’m not trying to be like a snake-oil salesman. I’m just like, why is this happening? Like there’s a reason why you’re feeling this way. What is that? Rather than just what a lot of places do and what I used to do is, hey, come in and I’ll take your money, I’ll make you do a bunch of cardio, you’ll burn a bunch of calories and you’ll lose a bunch of weight and then you’ll go on your way. And then three years from now, or a year from now, or two years from now, I’ll see you and the weight will be back on maybe, sometimes. And then it’s not really successful in my eyes. Sure they’ve paid for my services. But at the end of the day, you want to see that person succeed, right?

Mateo: 16:44 – I think when you just said really important is tying it to a why, right? Because especially if objections do come up, you know, whether it’s about price or whatever it is like, or they’re just kinda like, ah, I don’t know. If you haven’t established that why, you’re probably not gonna be able to overcome those objections. The best way to do that is if you have that why, you’re able to tie it back in, bring it back up and say, well, you said, you know, you’ve got this wedding coming up and you’re and doing this other thing, or whatever it is. If you tie it back to the why, I think that’s super, super important for closing the sale, for sure.

Jesse: 17:22 – A hundred percent. A hundred percent.

Mateo: 17:24 – So it sounds like business is growing. It sounds like you’ve got staff on board. I mean, 180 bucks on ads, five grand in sales. That’s pretty awesome. What do you think has been—you kind of highlighted this earlier already, but what do you think has been the key to your growth and your success so far?

Jesse: 17:43 – 100%. Like there’s a lot of key if you want to know the truth.

Mateo: 17:46 – A lot of keys; yeah, I wanna know all of them.

Jesse: 17:49 – I get up at 4:00 a.m. every day. I always try to work my hardest. I make sure I get—one of the hardest things I find is getting myself rest and recovery. I do it for training, but I won’t do it in business. I’ll sit at my desk for hours on end. Now I’m really starting to like—and my wife is good at noticing this, like, hey, we need to take a break. Let’s sit back, let’s reassess this, shut our phones off, unplug. That has really put me into another stage. And then I mentioned it before, mentorship. It’s like I’ve grown this business—or we, sorry, not I. We, my whole team and I, have grown this business very rapidly and you know, a lot of businesses implode when they go that rapidly unless they have the foundation that they need. So how do I get the foundation? One, I either spend a lot of money making a lot of mistakes and it takes me a long time or two, I spend a bit of money in the front end, hire myself a mentor who’s done it in the past. They tell me what to do and how to do it correctly. I make the money back in a week with this one and you know, I’m going to have those systems and that foundation laid out for years to come. So that’d be my advice. Take time for yourself, hire yourself a mentor and just go for it.

Mateo: 18:50 – I haven’t heard that one on before here before and I think that’s awesome. That’s an awesome insight. If you’re serious about your training, you’re also serious about your recovery. And the same should be applied to your business. You know, maybe I need to go unplug now. I don’t know. But you make a great point. And I think especially if you’re coming up against some kind of challenge or hurdle and you’re like not able to break some kind of plateau, take a step back, take a break from it all and allow your brain to kind of breathe and come back a little bit with refreshed eyes. I think that’s really, really important insight. And then getting a mentor, you know, you would probably know better than I, being a top athlete, you need a coach, right? If you want to get to that level. And the same with a business, you know, you need a coach for that too if you really want to succeed. Well dude, it’s been a pleasure having you on. Really enjoyed this chat. If people want to talk to you or if they want to chat with you or if they wanna come grapple with you, where can they find you?

Jesse: 19:53 – They can find me on Facebook, that’s my biggest communicator. So Jesse Topp on Facebook, you’ll see my—I’m there with my arms crossed with my logo on. Or Instagram, Topp Performance or Topp Performance Martial Arts Academy on Facebook as well.

Mateo: 20:05 – Awesome man. Thanks for hopping on.

Jesse: 20:07 – Thank you so much for having me.

Greg: 20:09 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


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Two-Brain Radio: Incredible Client Success with Eden Watson

Two-Brain Radio: Incredible Client Success with Eden Watson

Chris: 00:01 – Eden Watson is the client success manager at Two-Brain Business. I usually call her the right brain of Two-Brain. Today we’re going to be talking about why your gym should have a client success manager, why you can’t just trust something as important as client retention to your coaches who are busy and have other things to do, why you can’t take client retention for granted or really hang your hat on your programming or your quote unquote “community.” We think this is a very highly leverageable role. I’ve been writing about this role with different names like Joy Girl and Joy Person since 2010 and today we’re going to talk about who is the best CSM, how to measure your ROI on hiring a CSM person, what kinds of things they can do and five tips that you can do to increase your client retention today and how to measure success. You’re gonna really love this. This is a very directive, actionable episode and we’re going to have some videos from our summit in here. We’re going to have some great links in the show notes, too. Enjoy.

Greg: 01:07 – Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. We make gyms profitable. We’re going to bring you the very best tips, tactics interviews in the business world each week. To find out how we can help you create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at

Chris: 01:26 – Everybody hates their insurance company until they need their insurance company. My insurance recommendation is Vaughn Vernon of Affiliate Guard. Before I get into this story, I want to make it clear here that I don’t get any kickback for recommending Vaughn, but I’ve done it so many times. Whenever anybody online asks a question about insurance companies, I always say Affiliate Guard. Here’s why. Years ago when we affiliated with CrossFit, my insurance company dumped me, citing quote unquote “tractor pulls” that we were going to be doing, whatever the hell that is. I’ve never pulled a tractor in my life. I’ve driven lots of tractors and I can tell you, I don’t think I could pull one if I wanted to, but that’s besides the point. At that time, the person who swooped in and saved CrossFit gyms in Canada was Joanne LeGal, and if you’re in Canada, I recommend talking to her—period.You don’t have to talk to her first. You don’t have to talk to her last. Just talk to her, period. If you’re in the states though, I recommend Affiliate Guard because the program that I get through Joanne in Canada is really, really awesome and all inclusive. Joanne’s personality, though, is what keeps me with their company. In the states. Affiliate Guard is run by Vaughn Vernon, a massive personality, a CrossFitter, a Jujitsu guy. He drives dirt bikes, he has good-looking kids, all that stuff and his policy is the best. It’s really, really tough to tell when you’re reading your policy if the benefits are the same as someone else’s because they obscure stuff on purpose. It’s just like taxes. However, when I’m looking at my policy, I ask myself, “Will that guy get up in the middle of the night and helped me out?”This weekend was a great example of Vaughn’s personality. One of my friends and clients down in Florida had their garage door smashed open by a Mustang that was doing donuts in the parking lot and they texted me at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday and I wanted to help. So I texted Vaughn, he’s two hours behind me and he responded right away. Your insurance company is not going to do that. As I said at the start of this, everybody hates their insurance company until they need insurance. And when you do need insurance, you want them to answer the damn phone on a Sunday morning and you want to talk to the head man and you just want to know everything’s going to be OK. With Affiliate Guard, it is.

Chris: 03:44 – Eden Watson, welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Eden: 03:45 – Hi, thanks for having me.

Chris: 03:48 – Let’s start with what client success manager means and then we’ll start getting into why and how and who.

Eden: 03:55 – OK.

Chris: 03:55 – So what is a CSM?

Eden: 03:55 – The CSM is a role in your business that gives your client a relationship with your brand and not one individual. Lots of you probably have read Chris’ books and we talk about the Joy Girl role, and that’s evolved a bit over time. The CSM role, basically your primary tool to increase your length of engagement with your clients. So if you have a high turnover, this is a critical role for your business. If you have clients coming in and out the door, you’re gonna want to have some person in place to make sure that stuff’s happening. So the CSM, we like to call it the CSM, client success manager, can be thought of as a human Bright Spot. You want to really encourage your members to stick around. The CSM person, they make sure your clients feel like they’re doing a great job all the time, they feel good about themselves and they know what’s coming up next. So they have a path in place and they can stick with your service. I’ve often thought like without a CSM, why doesn’t someone just go to a globo gym where they’re just on their own path doing their own thing and being lost in the mix of numbers at a big gym.

Chris: 05:09 – OK. So I mean you’re the CSM for Two-Brain. And often when people say, “What’s Eden’s role?” I say she’s the right brain of Two-Brain. Your job is to be empathetic and notice when people have big Bright Spots that I might not have seen or stuff like that.

Eden: 05:27 – Right, yeah. Cause it’s time consuming to do all the things that you do and see all the Bright Spots and somehow you’ve managed to do that for quite some time. But for sure that empathy piece, you want to be looking for and for folks kind of falling off or maybe not having such a great go of things, you know. Circumstances change, so we need to be there to rally around folks when they start having those difficult times and to help support the successes when they do have them. So that is the empathetic part that I do and the role that I play.

Chris: 06:01 – Yeah, it’s not that any gym owner or any business owner is so callous that they don’t have feelings or they’re not paying attention or they don’t notice, right, it’s just like all of us work, and tasks fill the time that we have. And so it’s very easy to be like, “Oh man, it’s that person’s birthday. I should send them a card.” And then you get all wrapped up in like a billing error with your software or whatever. And now it’s six o’clock and you’re exhausted and you’re choosing between, do I send this client a card or do I actually go home for my kid’s birthday party? So this is really the value of the CSM. But I never want to give somebody a—you know, here’s a hire that you have to have where we can’t directly attribute it to ROI. So, you already mentioned that the CSM increases length of engagement and we’re going to talk about how, I think, at the end of this conversation.

Eden: 06:53 – Sure, yeah. OK.

Chris: 06:54 – Awesome. So what are some tasks that the gym CSM would do?

Eden: 06:57 – Sure. So, I see primarily, maybe when you’re first starting out is that person is starting out by rewarding people’s Bright Spots; that’s a really quick win for people. And that doesn’t take a lot of a CMS’s time and maybe that’s all that’s on the plate right away. But then maybe the role also evolves to contain some checking in on client progress. Of course you can do some of this through automated emails, but that’s something the CSM would be, you know, in charge of and handle. And they’re basically acting as a liaison between your coaching team and your clients. And potentially the business owner as well, depending on how large the staff is at this time. The CSM also can create some of those automated emails or adjust them and they basically run the client experience. So they can provide feedback on that client experience and shape that client experience depending on, again, the level of the organization and how involved the owner wants to be.

Chris: 07:57 – OK. That’s awesome. So we’re going to walk through like the evolution and how many hours the CSM role takes and stuff later. But let’s say that we’re about to hire a CSM. We already know that we need somebody. What are the characteristics of a great client success manager?

Eden: 08:14 – OK. So I’d say there’s three primary characteristics that are most important when you’re looking to fill this role. You really need to have someone who’s empathetic. You have to have that right-brain person. You can’t fake empathy.

Chris: 08:24 – Right, exactly.

Eden: 08:28 – And that person needs to be able to—the definition of empathy—imagine what the other people are feeling. So imagine what your client is experiencing in the various stages of their journey and anticipate where they might fall off. Anticipate when they might need a pat on the back and some encouragement. Next, you really need to have buy-in. That person has to believe in your brand. They can’t fake that either. But don’t let this hold you back. I think, you know, you don’t have to hire somebody from within your gym to fill this role, so they might not understand or appreciate CrossFit or your gym or your branding right away, but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy in, just make sure your vision is clear to them. Your values are clear to them to bring them on board. And then you need to have somebody who’s somewhat tech savvy, and I don’t just mean they can operate a computer. I mean, basically build it right into the hiring process. Test them by asking them to upload a document and spell it a certain way and, you know, do a couple things there that would get them to check if they’ve got good grammar and that sort of stuff. Cause they’re going to be addressing cards to people, they’re gonna be celebrating wins. They’re going to be maybe posting on your social media. So you don’t want somebody who’s not got a high attention to detail in that capacity. But yeah, using, you know, Google Drive because they’re going to be tracking maybe spreadsheets and that sort of thing. And then maybe eventually using a CRM tool, a customer relationship management tool for you, like UpLaunch for example. You don’t have to test them on the full gamut of these things, but you want to make sure that they can handle the technology you’re gonna throw at them and be able to make that technology work for them. And kind of evolve the role like I said before as they do that. Some bonus parts to these characteristics, number four would be having that high attention to detail. It kind of comes with being empathetic. You’re going to have a high attention to detail for, you know, looking for the feelings of others and looking after the feelings of others. But this is also around the grammar and that sort of thing. Another bonus would be just that they’re a happy person and that they want to bring joy to others. It’s kind of innate in that role; it has to be there.

Chris: 10:39 – When I wrote the first book and wrote about the Joy Girl—by the way, the name Joy Girl came from her, the first person that I ever hired for this role, she called herself the Joy Girl. But originally the recommendation was like, this is a low-value, highly leverageable role. You can hire somebody to do this for about $12 an hour, two hours a week, and all they’re going to do is take client Bright Spots that coaches have recorded every single class or PT session. They’re going to call the client on Friday and say, “Congratulations, we’re so proud of you. What are you going to do next?” And that would buy the owner time, two hours to do something else, basically. But back then it was really more like, you need to do this. You’re not doing it because you don’t have time. So how has the CSM role now evolved with like the Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief framework?

Eden: 11:34 – So like you mentioned, in Founder Phase, maybe it’s two hours a week and the owner gets that time back to work on more valuable things that they could be working on and they’re just tracking client wins. They’re just calling them, texting them, sending them a nice message or posting on Facebook, whatever your system’s going to be and asking them, “What’s next for you?” And the big part there, Chris, is that that is keeping those clients engaged, and I know that that starts to contribute to LEG. And then as we evolve and we’ve got more clients and we’ve got more team members in the Farmer Phase, we’re looking at that role evolving potentially to five hours a week. Just because you have that bigger client base, you can’t do that all in two hours. And then you’ve got additional team members that you have to liaise with. So that go-between action of talking to coach A and you know, giving something or celebrating something for client A now goes from just point A to point A to ABCDEFG, whatever number of coaches and clients you have. So OK, so we’ve scaled a little bit more because your client base has changed, your team members have changed. You’re still tracking the wins, but you might be, if you have the right person in that role and you want them to be, you can be checking in on athletes. So doing something we call athlete check-ins or goal reviews, sitting down with them, say every 90 days and finding out what’s going well and where we need to tailor their prescription and get them, you know, working in a different place in your gym. So once we get into the Farmer to Tinker stage, now we’re talking, yes, maybe the role has evolved and it’s taking up a greater chunk of that person’s time. But the role is evolving to include things like metric tracking. So measuring that LEG, measuring the client journey, and developing and coordinate different tracking tools for the clients. So maybe you’re using something currently and your CSM has discovered there’s a different tracking tool. They wanna try it, let them try it for three months potentially and then see how it’s working and go back and reevaluate. They might want to start developing new processes as they pertain to sales and LEG. They’re probably providing some sort of feedback mechanism to your teams. So you know, if they’re hearing a lot of negatives about a certain coach, well, they’re going to have to address that with the coach themselves, or depending on your reporting relationships, maybe they’re addressing it with the owner or you know, your head of coaching.

Eden: 14:10 – Also this role becomes a little more autonomous at this stage. So the CSM’s proven to you that they can succeed in this role, that they can do the tasks you’ve asked of them. And now you can hand over the reins a little bit. For those of your listeners that were at the summit, Greg and I spoke about organizational culture and one of the ways to motivate any team is to provide them autonomy cause you feel really good when you’re able to work autonomously. Giving the CSM a bit more freedom at this time so they can decide the best way to move forward in this role is really motivating. So they’ll stay motivated when you get to this point. Also, basically developing and coordinating how to administer those athlete check-ins. Again, if they have an understanding of training and of the prescriptive model that your gym uses, they might be able to do this athlete check-in role, and they can have a hand in some operations or some HR functions, so if there are coaches that are requiring performance improvement plans and that sort of thing, they can have a hand in either sitting down with the coaches or providing that information back to whoever’s in charge of that. And I think we’ve talked about this all through all of your books, but when somebody is doing a role, it’s important to get them to document that SOP, the standard operating procedure of that role. So the CSM at this stage should really have a good handle on what the operations look like, but they might have a hand in other operations in the business because they’re so plugged into all the different kind of departments, if you will, that they’ll have a good idea of what those are and then they can have a hand in refining the operations as that begins to be a need in your business. OK.

Chris: 16:00 – So, you know, we are going to talk about like why the client’s relationship should be between them and your brand instead of between them and one specific coach. But one of the things that you just mentioned made me think of, you know, what if they have a bad relationship with your coach but they don’t have a bad relationship with your gym, right? Who will they turn to if the coach is their coach for life or like primary point of contact, right? They have to leave your gym, where one of the things that you do amazingly well at Two-Brain is mentor matching. So somebody new starts at Two-Brain, we have a team of 28 mentors. We’re gonna match you out based on personality and work habits. But a very tiny fraction of the time, after about three weeks, we realize that we could have made a better match. And so the client will say, “Eden, can I try a different mentor?” And that’s great. They don’t lose their progress. They don’t lose traction.

Eden: 16:58 – Exactly. So same thing could certainly happen in your gym where you’ve got somebody, you know, die hard, ready to go when the coach is either reeling them back or pushing them too hard or whatever happens, personality mismatch. And we need to reassign this person to a different personal trainer. Or maybe they discover that group fitness is not for them. Well now the CSM steps in and sees their lack of momentum that they’re, you know, you’re tracking that they’re not attending their classes anymore. And the CSM catches that maybe even before your client comes to you and says, “I don’t want to work with so and so” and certainly before the client says, “I just want to cancel.” The CSM can be all over that and help find what the best fit is for that client. So that’s where they have to have some empathy. Of course, that really relates back to that. We need to be able to anticipate those clients’ feelings, how they’re feeling, and digging in and asking the question like, what’s really going on here? And not being scared of the answer.

Chris: 17:56 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful, and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship, but no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-week sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: because you have the potential to change the world with us. And I hope you do.

Chris: 19:27 – That’s awesome. You know, we’re going to talk about like how the CSM role pays for itself and more, we want every role that you put in your business to have a positive return on that investment of at least 2.25 times what you spend on it. And one of the most leverageable is the CSM because if your length of engagement goes up and you can keep a client for an extra two months because of the CSM, then that’s an amazing increase. And we found in our research last year that if the average gym with 150 members paying $150 a month, if they could keep every client three months longer, that the owner would make another $40,000 a year in profit. It’s incredible. And you’re talking about, you know, a pretty inexpensive role working two to five hours a week to make that much difference. It’s hard to find another role that’s as leverageable as this one. OK. So regardless of that, some consulting companies say that like you should appoint a coach for life and the coach should be in charge of all these things. Right? So why do we say that a gym needs a CSM instead of just counting on coaches to build and maintain relationships?

Eden: 20:39 – Well, I think coaches are hired, presumably, to coach, that’s what they signed up for. So I guess what would you say if you were hired at a fast-food restaurant to serve customers and all of a sudden they started asking you to go up and shingle the roof?

Chris: 20:53 – I’d say they’re going to have a leaky drive-thru.

Eden: 20:55 – I think that’s still a critical function, shingling a roof, but it’s really not what they signed up for. And it might not be within that person’s wheelhouse. So I don’t know—I’m not saying that all coaches do not want to be a CSM. There might be some overlap. And when you have that coach who wants to do coaching and CSM or you know, client engagement stuff, great. Let them do it. But I don’t think that every coach—I can think of a few that don’t want that role—.

Chris: 21:25 – Like me and your husband?

Eden: 21:29 – For this role. So let’s let them do what they’re strong at, which is coaching. And let’s let somebody who’s super empathetic and engaged and wants to engage with people do the CSM stuff. So, OK, so let’s say you do have a coach who wants to do it. Add that role to their plate, right? Great. If you have a coach who doesn’t want to do it, now introduce them to your newly hired CSM and let them know what—keep the lines of communication open and let those two know how they can interact. Whatever mechanism, if it’s just a sticky note, great. If it’s whatever, make sure they know the tools by which they can communicate the Bright Spots or the client falling off the struggle bus or whatever it is the CSM has to know about.

Chris: 22:11 – You know what’s really funny, I never realized this until now. So for listeners at home, Eden’s husband, Mike, and I have been coaching together since 2002 and he was the first hire at Catalyst in 2005, like two weeks after we opened. Neither Mike nor I are jerks. However, when you put however in a sentence—anyway, so several years in we realized like we were super busy, we were doing personal training and coaching and our days were completely packed. And so when a client would get married, we would forget or we wouldn’t have time to like send them a card. Right? And so we said, well, let’s take the happiest, bubbliest person at the gym, that was Charity at the time, and let’s put her in charge of these things. And she called herself the Joy Girl and that’s where it really came from.

Eden: 23:02 – Yeah, you definitely need to designate somebody to this role that’s going to thrive in the role. Like I said before, you just can’t fake it. It falls off your plate. It’s just doesn’t seem as critical as, you know, payroll for example.

Chris: 23:17 – So, if—you’ve got two options, right? You hire a CSM and the coach backs them up or you add the role of CSM to one of your coaches for all of your clients. OK. What tools do you give that person to start being a CSM?

Eden: 23:37 – You want to send personalized messages. So lots of gyms that listen to Two-Brain Radio probably have a private members’ Facebook group for the gym members. If you’ve got a joy person just putting the Bright Spots in there, Great. That’s a really good first step. Costs you nothing except the person’s time. But we’re starting to use; we’ve been using SendOutCards for sending personalized messages, and I think what’s really special about that is if I catch somebody, I don’t even work at the gym, but I actually catch people having Bright Spots at the gym and capture it on my phone and send them a card through SendOutCards sometimes. Right? Take a picture of the PR board and send it to them. People are so grateful for that. SendOutCards, I should explain, is a tool. You take a picture, you upload it to this program and you can create a beautiful greeting card that someone gets mailed to their home. They open it up and they stick it on the fridge.

Chris: 24:34 – We’ll have a link in the show notes, but I actually got one from you this morning. It’s a picture of us giving our chef Mary a bike and her crying. The hashtag on the front says Oprah’s banker. ‘Cause you get to give out prizes.

Eden: 24:50 – It’s being the banker for all these lovely prizes that I give people. But yeah, so on a lesser scale, you don’t have to give bikes to all your members, but you can start with just a nice personalized message in a card. Literally I send out these cards to people and they post them on their fridge and they’re so happy to receive them. It makes my day and it makes their day. So another part of that is the affinity marketing that happens with that because now their friends are over for dinner and they look on the fridge and they see this card and they see your logo on it and they’re asking a lot more questions about the gym. And now you get this person in front of you eventually for a No-Sweat Intro. Next thing, another tool that you have to give your CSM, which is critical, is a budget for these kinds of rewards or a budget for rewarding the Bright Spots or how do we get them back on track when they’ve fallen off track? Some sort of budget for anything that you’re asking them to do.

Chris: 25:47 – I would go nuts if I didn’t have a budget.

Eden: 25:49 – Yes, you would.

Chris: 25:52 – Now that we figured out how to send steak and lobster dinners to people and stuff, like I can just press a button and I’m logged in and hit send, right? I would just do it every day.

Eden: 26:03 – And you don’t have to give them a budget in dollars necessarily, but you can give them a range of choices. So some parameters are very helpful for somebody who’s an empathetic person to choose from. So they don’t have to think, “What would Chris say if I sent this person a a hundred dollars worth of stuff” or whatever. You just set it up so it’s easy for them.

Chris: 26:25 – And usually you’re sending meaningful gifts too, right? Like, the lion flag. I’ll share the video in the show notes of us handing out lion flags at the summit. I have no idea what those things actually cost, but their value is tremendous.

Eden: 26:40 – Yeah, it’s incredible. I actually was blown away by the value the lion flag. It’s just so, it’s so sentimental. It’s so personal. It’s so touching for entrepreneurs to be rewarded for their struggles and their challenges. And when they overcome them and are rewarded with this, they feel like $1 million. It’s a measurable. But part of that budget and the range of gifts, you know, something that your CSM can choose from or use to track this is that they can track it afterwards, right? So they’ve got this range and I’m allowed to spend $50 a week on this or whatever. And now I can actually track and look at my LEG score increasing and have some values and some actual concrete numbers to pay attention to.

Chris: 27:25 – And that’s key, right? You have to look at LEG like just as you track your cost per acquisition when you’re doing Facebook lead ads and you follow that through the funnel to figure out like what a new client’s costing you, you should be able to track like what is it costing you to increase the length of engagement with every client.

Eden: 27:43 – And another tool that they need, they just need a tool as basic as you want or as sophisticated as they need to track these—to communicate with the coaches or, you know, figure out who is getting what. If that’s just a Google Doc spreadsheet, great, to start. If it’s sticky notes, great. We’ve also had some questions recently, can a CSM work remotely? So sticky notes, that’s not a tool you can use if you’re working remotely. But a simple spreadsheet shared between all your coaches and the CSM who works, you know, 50 miles down the road, that can work. There’s other tools; we use Slack with Two-Brain, it’s just a online tool that’s tracking all your messages in one place that can really work for you. Or if you want to use, you know, the actual software folks use like Wodify or Mindbody if there’s places for notes that pertain to the client, then use those. Or maybe a separate group on Facebook, something as, like I said, sophisticated or as simple as you want. And then we also recommend UpLaunch as a great customer relationship management tool and that will be to send out some automations and some information to your clients in an ongoing fashion and in a directed fashion, depending on what stage of the client journey they’re at.

Chris: 29:00 – So just keeping track of people, right? So maybe they called you, maybe they did a No-Sweat Intro and didn’t sign up. Or maybe they have left your gym. And nobody ever followed up with them. I mean, even for the sake of getting client stories, like in the Farmer Phase, you need to make your clients famous by telling their stories on video or whatever. Exactly like did. But if the coach doesn’t have time to do that, having the CSM do that is incredibly valuable.

Eden: 29:28 – Absolutely. Your gym is there to help people feel good about themselves. I think we’d all agree, and this is such a easy, affordable and beautiful way to do that.

Chris: 29:43 – All right, Eden. So I think we made the point that like this is a strong ROI. So what are five things that gyms could do right now that would really affect their length of engagement with their clients?

Eden: 30:01 – So one thing is, and I think we’ve made this abundantly clear, is get started with a CSM today. I think that role can be started in as few as two hours. And we talked earlier about, you know, who to hire, how to hire them. Just jump in, you know, a remote person to do this. Or a person from your gym, we’re good either way. Number two, second thing would be map your client journey as it stands today and find any gaps, because we need to know where those gaps are so we can have somebody fill those gaps in that role as the CSM.

Chris: 30:36 – What’s a client journey? Maybe somebody hasn’t heard our episode about that.

Eden: 30:40 – OK, sure. So your prospect’s journey starts before they actually become a member of your gym. And your client journey can contain that piece of it. But it’s actually the way in which a client travels through your gym. So by the time they come to the front door, who’s greeting them? Are they sitting down for a No-Sweat Intro or do they just start group classes? Maps it all the way through till they actually, if or when they cancel and leave your gym. It just maps the steps they take. If they interface with the software, if they interface with a human and if they interface with, you know, your coaches, you need to map the steps that they take and the person or people or softwares that they contact.

Chris: 31:26 – And we do that in the Incubator.

Eden: 31:28 – Yes. Another thing that we would encourage you to do today that makes a huge difference is just start Bright Spots Fridays if you’re not already celebrating and having your members celebrate their own successes in your Facebook private members group, I would encourage you to start that. It’s so powerful, on Fridays, Chris and I have to close our computers and not look at the Bright Spots on the Two-Brain private members’ page. But within Catalyst, Chris’s gym, they’re so powerful. Like the people are celebrating successes and milestones in there that are so wonderful to hear about. And if you start doing that and have a CSM hire, they can celebrate right along with them and they can actually start that ship, right, they can start those Bright Spots off on Friday mornings and then they can take those Bright Spots, turn it into a card and send that card to someone—.

Chris: 32:20 – Or testimonial or whatever.

Eden: 32:23 – Yeah, exactly. Go to that person now and talk to him about that Bright Spot and record it on film. Fourth thing is you have to actually measure your current length of engagement. Your current LEG. Don’t assume that people stick around for two years and be surprised to find out that they stick around for 12 months.

Chris: 32:41 – Yeah, I think this is huge and a lot of people make assumptions about what improves retention. Like, so a lot of gyms will actually come in and they’re doing like two gym family member outings a month, you know, so one night, oh we’re all going to the bar and the other night, oh we’re all going to play slow pitch. And that’s a lot of extra work. You know, it really, it plays on your family time if you have a family and you’re a gym owner, and you might be doing that for nothing.

Eden: 33:08 – Your members might not be that interested or they were interested one time, once, but you’re continuing on and it might be a huge waste. So, the fifth thing that you can do that we’d encourage is to institute an on-ramp program at your gym. Cause that will make a huge difference on how clients can actually be set up for success.

Chris: 33:31 – It’s funny that we even have to say this now because it seems self-evident, but you know, when I wrote the original “Two-Brain Business,” most people didn’t have an on=ramp process at all. And so after tracking this stuff for over a decade and thousands of gyms, the number one determinant of how long somebody stays is how well they’re on-boarded, right? So it’s mapping the client journey first so that you’ve got everything on paper and you know exactly what a person’s steps are going to be, but then also like providing the best steps to exercise with you. And that might lead to group training. It might not. So, OK, well that’s awesome, Eden. Let’s say that somebody has some questions and they’re like, how do I find a CSM? How do I hire? What should their job description be? How can they get ahold of you?

Eden: 34:18 – So you can email me. It’s Eden,, and I promise to return your messages and I am really excited to help other people implement this in their business. So drop me a line. I would love to help you make a difference.

Chris: 34:34 – So amazing. Thanks.

Eden: 34:36 – Thank you.

Greg: 34:37 – Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Make sure to subscribe to receive the most up-to-date episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. To find out how we can help create your Perfect Day, book a free call with a mentor at


Greg Strauch will be here every Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

Two-Brain Marketing episodes come out Mondays, and host Mateo Lopez focuses on sales and digital marketing. 

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Two-Brain Radio: Chase Ingraham

Two-Brain Radio: Chase Ingraham

Sean: 00:00 – Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s edition I talk with former Games athlete and current CrossFit broadcaster Chase Ingraham. First, are you a stressed business owner who’s working too much and still struggling to make a profit? If you want to grow your venture and reach the next level Two-Brain Business is here to help you with a free 60-minute call. It’s not a sales pitch, just an opportunity for you to get real, actionable advice from an expert who’s built a successful business. For one-on-one guidance on how to take your business to the next level, you can book your Free Help call today at Chase Ingraham has been involved in CrossFit since 2008. He currently owns CrossFit Dig D in Dallas, Texas. He competed at the Games in 2010 as an individual and has also been to the Regionals five times. Chase was a member of the CrossFit Games media team and most recently served as an analyst alongside yours truly on the Rogue Iron game in Madison, Wisconsin for the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games. We talk about how he got into the broadcast side of the sport, growing up as the son of two very high-level athletes and some of his most memorable performances as an individual athlete. Thanks for listening everybody.

Sean: 01:21 – Chase Ingraham, how you doing, man?

Chase: 01:25 – I’m great. Great. I got that. Post-Games honeymoon depression, but other than that, everything is fantastic.

Sean: 01:34 – Yeah. You’re coming off the broadcast. You and I got to work together on the Rogue Iron Game. Let’s go back. I should know the answer to this and I actually don’t, but how did you get involved in the broadcast side of CrossFit?

Chase: 01:45 – So from the very beginning or this weekend?

Sean: 01:48 – From the very beginning.

Chase: 01:49 – From the very beginning, it was 2012 and I had made the Games in 10, I had just missed the Games and 11, thanks to an unfortunate workout that shall not be named, although it probably will later. And I had to have shoulder surgery. Particularly just due to some previous cross-injuries that I’d sustained and I was looking for kind of a purpose that off season. Part of that was I coached and put together a team in 2010 a team in 2011 and another one in 2012, and you guys were having the Update Show— actually you weren’t, Rory was, I hadn’t met you yet. And a buddy of mine, I was talking to him and he goes, why don’t you submit a Update Show segment called “how to pick and choose teams for the CrossFit Games.” I was like, oh, that’s a great idea., And the only person I knew at the time was actually Dave Re, photographer. Local, then became local to you guys and is now re-local to us back here in Texas. So I emailed him my idea and he said he would forward it on, and three days later I get a call from Rory McKernan asking if I have any broadcast experience. And I said, no—

Sean: 03:20 – Does what I sent you count?

Chase: 03:23 – And he said “Would you like some?” I said, “Absolutely.” And kind of the rest is history, is that we all came together for that Central East Regional and went from there. And that’s really how it started with this. I think it’s funny is that after that happened, I’ve never been afraid to ask for something I’m willing to work for ever again. And every time I see Dave Re, I shake his hand and I thank him because the only reason why I got to do say what we did last weekend was because of him.

Sean: 03:56 – Well, I think you had something to do with that as well.

Chase: 04:02 – Yeah. I mean we work hard, but sometimes you gotta take advantage of the opportunities that you’re given.

Sean: 04:09 – What were the kind of the first lessons that you learned when you got into that side of things?

Chase: 04:16 – That I was horrible at broadcasting. But the reality is it’s just so much harder than you can imagine. Of how the process of broadcasting goes because you know, a lot of times when you’re just—if the broadcast is doing its job correctly, you don’t even know that they’re there. It feels like the inner voice in your head, dialoguing what’s currently happening. And for me, I just kinda thought like how many times when we sat around and had a beer and watched the game and kind of talked about it, that seems really easy to do, but that’s actually not the case. And so learning how to do a very, very difficult job and then with the added pressure of, I knew the importance of the position right from the bat. Partly because, you know, at the time I was still very competitive. I knew the athletes that were doing it. I knew what it took to get there. I knew that their story was very important. So that was very personal to me and to be in a position to bring that to either strangers of the sport or super fans of the sport, I knew that role was very important. So the added pressure to that was also very challenging.

Sean: 05:41 – When did it click for you?

Chase: 05:46 – I don’t want to say it’s ever clicked, but I think it was—you know what, it was actually in, I want to say the Meridian Regional in 2015 where I went overseas for the first time, and I do mean like first time to Europe ever, and I was with Mads Jacobsen, who can speak nine languages fluently and could say every athlete’s name, say it in the dialect in which it’s supposed to be said. And then he knew everybody. This guy was pulling out stats of the judges judging the athletes, it was incredible. And I felt a tremendous, like more pressure than I’d ever had in my entire broadcasting career to do things the right way, like say the names the right way, give the opinions the right way. And I was doing play-by-play at the time. And about a day and a half in, I’m just butchering these names, trying to say them the right way. Like it was embarrassing. Like if you go back and listen to that, I mean I was like trying to keep pace with Mads and then I was like, I can’t do this. Like, I’m focusing so much on trying to do this kind of the way you do it and the right way, that I’m screwing this up. And he goes, “Hey, you have an American accent, right?” “Yeah.” “OK. So how do you feel when these Europeans or Swedes or South Africans say your name in their accent?” “I think it’s cool.” He goes, “Exactly.”

Sean: 07:32 – Mads has a way about making you feel good about yourself.

Chase: 07:35 – Yeah. And it was such a weird, weird thing to make all of it click, but I was like, it transformed into be yourself, enjoy what you’re doing and just give the people what’s in front of them. I think right when that happened, I immediately got comfortable in my own skin and I started having fun. And I feel like that translated to the to 2015 Games. Where I was, instead of trying to be a broadcaster, which I didn’t know how to do, cause I’d only been doing it for three years, is that I just was myself, and I found out that being myself and just doing the job correctly was good enough. And if it wasn’t, then I was OK with that. So that’s when it all kind of clicked,

Sean: 08:19 – You’ve lived on both sides. Play by play and you’ve done the analyst work and the color commentary work. How does your experience as a coach help you as an analyst?

Chase: 08:32 – Oh man. I’ll tell you right off the bat, when we originally met in 2012 and they wanted me to do play by play, it was like for the teams, for the first two heats. We had so many people, we were getting such small roles—

Sean: 08:45 – 30 announcers—

Chase: 08:46 – And I’m looking around and this wasn’t meant to be like cocky, but it was like, I am not in the right role for this job. I shouldn’t be in the driver’s seat of what’s going on. I know more about what’s happening behind the scenes and CrossFit stuff than anybody here, and that’s how I felt. It wasn’t a slight to anybody else. It’s ’cause I’ve lived it as a competitor. I’ve lived it as a coach. I’ve lived it as a coach in an affiliate and I just knew all of that nuances in between that it felt like the little details of why something is happening is getting missed. So I think just being so immersed in it from the bottom up has really given me a good perspective as an analyst because I’ve seen it, I’ve thought—listen, I sucked at CrossFit before I got good at CrossFit and then I sucked at coaching before I could coach. And then I sucked—you know, it’s like you got to suck at something before you get good at something. I saw this play on words where it was like you need to—oh gosh, what was it—like you have to suck more to suck less to have success, something like that. I was like, oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense. But I think from the analyst side is that I had the fortunate position to be in it from every level in terms of athlete, coach and affiliate owner towards the end, but also be in it at every level of success, you know, the worst to find successes in the sport, I feel like has given me a good breadth of kind of analytical cash, so to speak, to kind of play off of.

Sean: 10:43 – What do you enjoy most about the whole broadcasting experience?

Chase: 10:49 – That’s a long answer. It’s a good answer. But I love being in a position to share my love and passion of CrossFit and the sport with people that are watching the broadcast. So for me, it’s a matter of I have so much fun doing it. I love it so much and I feel like I’m in a very unique and special position to be able to bring that to people watching it. Like, oh, this looks cool. I’m like, let me tell you how cool this is. I want you to hear how cool this is that you start to feel that. It’s like we can’t be in the Coliseum when it’s happening, but I want you to feel it. I want you to understand the magnitude of the situation and how special this is. And I take that so personally that, I mean, people may have found this before that I get really wrapped up into the call. While it’s happening, it’s like I’m having like emotional and sometimes like visceral, responses—

Sean: 12:05 – But that’s a good thing, that’s definitely a good thing.

Chase: 12:08 – And so what I want people to be able to see is the authenticity of the sport, I want it to be mirrored and mimicked by the authenticity of my call.

Sean: 12:19 – You’re certainly doing a good job of it.

Chase: 12:21 – Thank you.

Sean: 12:21 – I mean you’ve been to Regionals, you’ve been to, I mean, you’ve done Open announcements, you’ve done Games, you know, you’ve done desk stuff. What are your best memories from your experience on the broadcast side?

Chase: 12:34 – You know, it really has nothing to do with the broadcast itself. I think, you know, this last year really kind of put that into perspective is that, you know, I think you can attest to this too, is that when we were told that there was not going to be a broadcast anymore or the media department is being disbanded, the first thing I thought about was not, oh, I don’t have a job anymore or I don’t get to do that thing that I enjoy doing. It was, I don’t get to see the people and work with the people that I have as close to a personal relationship as family as you can get without sharing the same last name. And I truly do feel like that just because everybody behind the scenes and you know, people say this, like cared so much about what they did and were so willing to look so hard for the same reason. That’s what really made the coverage what it was. And it wasn’t like, you know, the six guys that got to talk in a mic. We had the easiest job. But it was just everybody there. And when we all said goodbye in 2018 usually it’s like, hey, great seeing you again, love you, see you in maybe February or May or back here in a year. And that is what I ,was the most sad about thinking I would never get to do that again with the people I really do care about. And that’s kind of my favorite part of it is that, you know, working with a like-minded group of people for the same thing is very rare and that is something that we shared as a group.

Sean: 14:29 – You come from a pretty athletic family. Let’s start with your parents. What are the backgrounds in sports for both your mother and your father?

Chase: 14:39 – So I’ll start with Dad because Mom’s gonna out-shine him. My dad was a multiple sport athlete in high school. College, he was a starting linebacker with the University of Arizona and he got drafted and tinkered around the Philadelphia Eagles and 49ers for a couple of years until he got hurt. A career-ending knee injury, and just you know, growing up, when I look at my dad, like he was a superhero. He looked like a superhero, he was as big as a superhero. Like my dad, you know, my dad is my real-world hero. Like trying to be like him has kind of been the cornerstone of what drives me to do the things that I do. And then my mom swam in college, also at the University of Arizona, played club water polo for the men’s team because they didn’t have a club women’s team. Made Olympic trials. And then recently, my mom still swims to this day, she runs a masters program in San Antonio. They have over 350 athletes now, and she recently went to, I believe it was Masters World and she just aged 60-plus and won seven gold medals and set five new records.

Sean: 16:25 – Wow.

Chase: 16:26 – So my mom is still considered the best athlete in the family.

Sean: 16:32 – That’s crazy, man.

Chase: 16:32 – And is still collecting hardware. So that, you know, not a lot to live up to. My younger brother, who is my bigger brother cause he’s 6’10 and I’m 6’2, was the All-American football player, a wide receiver for Purdue University.

Sean: 16:51 – Boiler up.

Chase: 16:52 – Oh yeah. A freak athlete. Could play any sport. Like my brother Kyle is by far the most athletically gifted person in the family. And he’s been like that ever since he was little. And then my younger brother I got to swim with in college, which was super cool. He’s the youngest, Colton, and you know, we got to swim together at SMU for a year, which was really neat. I had a super senior year due to a medical issue my junior year. So that was really neat to be able to play and compete with my youngest brother cause we never got to as kids. And you know, he was—he ended up being faster than me in college. So I’m actually the worst one in the entire family.

Sean: 17:43 – Which is crazy.

Chase: 17:45 – We put a little bow on it. So there’s absolutely no pressure whatsoever to perform in sports in my family at all.

Sean: 17:53 – Well that was my next question. How did growing up in that environment kind of shape you as a person?

Chase: 17:59 – It was awesome. My dad, so this is true story, is that we moved a lot when I was little, not like a military family, my Dad just kept getting, you know, promotions and then we’d move. So from, I would say 5 to 10, we moved every year. So, you know, move before kindergarten, went to kindergarten, moved for first, second, third grade, always moving, always the new kid. And when I was—you know, kids are mean. And they’re not nice to the new kid. And so I think it was, gosh, I was young, and I was getting picked on in school. I think it was like first grade, and I came home crying to my dad, and you know, he’s like, “Well, what’s the matter?” “It’s like, well, the kids are picking on me because I’m new and they’re making fun of this and that.” And I was like, “what are you going to do for me?” And my dad goes, “Nothing.” I’m like, “What do you mean? Like you’re my dad?” “He goes, “Yeah. I’ll tell you what I would do, and I’ll show you how to, you know, stick up for yourself and I’ll support you in whatever it is you do, as long as it’s done the right way.” And you know, my dad gave me some advice that probably most kids wouldn’t get. But he forced me to face that head on. And this was young. And so I did. And a few trips to the principal’s office later, he goes, “I’m proud of you for sticking up for yourself. Let’s reel back the combativeness a little bit.” But you know, that was the last time—that was the first time my dad put me in a position to succeed or fail. The other times were middle school, high school, I was like one of the smaller kids in my class, I was slow, I was weak, and I was trying out for football teams and basketball teams and you know, my dad just went, he was very honest. He was like, “Listen, the only way you’re going to make these teams is if you practice harder than all of them. That’s your only chance.” And it was really cut and dry like that. And so I was like, OK. Well that’s kind of where it started. It’s like, you know, you put in the work and you’ll get results. You won’t get results all the time, but at least you can hang your hat on the chance you gave yourself. So that was the household that I lived in. And having younger brothers all fairly close, and we got to live in a neighborhood that had kids all the same age and everybody came to our house to, you know, play basketball in the front yard or throw the football around, play baseball in the cul-de-sac. It was just the way we were raised. But it wasn’t forced. It was you have an option. And I think that’s kind of the difference between some, like maybe like hard knocks hands on sports dads and sports moms is that we were never forced to anything. We were given the choice and they made it really easy because they said, it’s like you want this to happen, this is what you need to do. I was like, OK, well I really want this to happen so I’m going to do that.

Chase: 21:30 – That’s cool that at that age you were able to absorb those lessons. Do you remember what your dad told you in first grade? What the advice he gave you was?

Chase: 21:39 – Yeah.

Sean: 21:39 – Is it something that cannot be repeated?

Chase: 21:43 – No, I mean I’ll tell it to you right now, he goes, “The next kid that comes up to you to pick on you, just punch him in the face as hard as you can, one time. Then he’ll never do it again.” And he was right. I did it. And as soon as I found that out that, you know, it’s not always going to work and sometimes it didn’t. But it was more of a lesson of stick up for yourself when others won’t for you and stick up for others they can’t stick up for themselves. And that’s kinda how it happened.

Sean: 22:28 – You mentioned trying out for different sports, you’ve had a lot of success as a swimmer. What was it about that sport that drew you to it?

Chase: 22:38 – Truthfully, it was by default. Cause I really, really, really, really wanted to grow up and be a football player like my dad. That was my number-one sports dream. And so middle school, like I said, I was small, I was slow. They have like A teams and B teams in all the sports. I was always on the B team and I was like the last one to get picked, but I made the roster. So that was really neat. That was special to me. And then in high school I was a freshman and I was 5’2, 125, trying to play tight end.

Sean: 23:11 – I can’t picture you at that size, it’s just impossible.

Chase: 23:16 – Well, and you know, now I tell people that story, it’s like I’m 6’2, 215, so a foot shorter and 90 pounds lighter. And I was just getting tossed around like a rag doll, it wasn’t really working. And my mom came up to me, she’s like, “Hey listen,”—cause I wanted to play a physical sport. And she’s like, “Water polo season’s coming up.” I had done like summer league swims. I don’t know if you guys ever had that in your neighborhoods where it’s like a six-week swim team, neighborhood vs. neighborhood. So I’d done that when I was like 12. So I was probably 15 at the time. And she’s like, here’s water polo. I’m like. “I don’t even know what water polo is, Mom,” and she—we had a pool, she goes, “I’ll show you what water polo is.” So she gets in her suit, I get my suit, she throws a basketball into the pool, she goes, get in, and we get in. And my mom proceeds to drown me, for like 30 minutes. Like try to get the ball or you try not to let me take the ball. And my mom kicked my ass for 30 minutes in the pool. And I was like, this is awesome. And so I went to the swim team and they had a water polo season. And the benefit there was I knew how to swim, but I wasn’t good at it and I didn’t have a lot of stamina. But for water polo, you don’t need to really be a fast swimmer. You need to be capable in the water. And then you have to have hand-eye coordination. You have to be able to see the field, you have to understand place, you have to use people’s strengths against them and be very strategic. And I could throw a ball hard, better than swimmers could. Swimmers are like, you throw a ball at a swimmer and it might as well be like a Rubik’s cube that has a detonation clock on it. They’re like oh, what do I do?! And I picked it up and by the end of the year, we actually won state my freshman year, I was the only sub in a team that had 11 seniors on it. I was like, this is my sport. And I wanted to swim to get better at water polo. And then by the time I was senior, you know, we won state twice, I was an All-American, I was really good at water polo. But then I was like I want to see how much better I can get swimming. And so I kinda took that into college and that’s just kinda how I fell into it. So it was happenstance and circumstance and instead of the push from my dad, I was getting the push from my mom and it was cool. So I got a lot of coaching and support from both my parents and I kind of found my way into swimming.

Sean: 26:19 – We’ll be back with more from Chase Ingraham after this.

Chris: 26:24 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper. If you’ve ever run out of money, you know that it affects every single corner of your life, all of your relationships, your business, even your self-worth. And so when I found a mentor in 2009, I said, I want to share this gift with everyone. Since then, I’ve been building and refining and improving a mentorship practice that we now call Two-Brain Business. We break our mentorship into several stages. The first stage is the Incubator, which is a 12-week sprint to get your foundation built, to get you started on retention and employee programs and finding the best staff, putting them in the best roles, training them up to be successful and then recruiting more clients. It’s an amazing program. It is the culmination of over a decade of work. It’s also the sum of best practices from over 800 gyms around the world. These aren’t just my ideas anymore. What we do is track with data what’s working for whom and when and we test new ideas against that data to say, is this actually better? Then when ideas have proven themselves conclusively, then we put it in our Incubator or Growth or Tinker programs. I just wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to define who should be doing what in what stage of entrepreneurship, but no matter where you are, the Incubator is your first 12-weeks sprint to get as far as possible in your business. We’re a mentorship practice for one reason: Mentorship is what works. We work with gym owners for one reason: because you have the potential to change the world with us. And I hope you do.

Sean: 27:55 – How did you find CrossFit?

Chase: 27:59 – I found CrossFit in 2008, and this was two years removed from college swimming. And I was trying to find my way, like every athlete does after they graduate, you know, who am I and how do I train, ’cause I’ve had a coach since I was four. I’ve been told what to do and how to train and it was really easy. It’s like do this and then I’ll go, OK, and I’ll do that as hard as I can, and I was just trying to find my way. And I ran into a college teammate of mine, his name is Justin Smith, and it’d been two years since I’d seen him. And in college he was an amazing swimmer. But the weird thing about swimmers is that they all look different and you know, some swimmers are just kinda soft, and Justin was one of those guys. And then I’d seen him two years later and he was not soft. Justin was in shape. And at the time I was trying to find something more athletic because I was tired of being like skinny fat or fat fat. And you know, it kind of circled back. It’s like I wanted to look like my dad did when I was younger. I wanted to look like an athlete. I know it’s there in my body somewhere. And he looked like that. I go, “Where are you training and what are you doing?” He’s like, “I’m doing CrossFit.” “Well, I’m coming with you tomorrow.” And he goes, “OK.” So we show up at six o’clock to CrossFit El Centro, and I came the next day just like I said, and it was Fran.

Sean: 29:35 – Oh no.

Chase: 29:37 – I mean I didn’t know at the time. And we show up and they write the workout on the board. And I did the classic rookie CrossFit mistake, and I went, “That’s it?” And so you’re looking at 21, 15, 9 thrusters at 95 and pull-ups. And I was really good at pull-ups at the time when we were in swimming, and even post-that, pull-ups to me were strict. If you kipped, you were cheating. So, you know, the coach is explaining it and he’s like it’s a front squat. And I was like, I’ve never broke parallel in my life, let alone holding a bar in the front-rack position. And squat and then press overhead. I was like, OK, I can do that. Then he goes, “Then you got pull-ups.” I started doing strict—”Oh no, no, no, no, you want to kip.” I was like, “You mean cheat?” And he goes, “Yeah, whatever, cheat.” This is the best! And so I start kipping right away. And to this day we’re friends now, his name’s Spencer Nixon. He owns CrossFit El Centro. He goes, “I had never been more happy in my life to have a brand-new athlete walk in and just start kipping on the cue of ‘just cheat.'” I was like, “You’re welcome? I don’t know what that means.” And so we’re getting set and I could do 95 but it was hard. And so he told me to scale to 75, to which I obliged, and went 21 unbroken, 21 unbroken, and then proceeded to set myself on fire afterward. And I experienced a level of intensity that I had never been prepared for in something so short, it blew my mind. And so I did what every competitive guy would do is that I never came back to the gym for three months. And was like, I need to get in shape before I come to CrossFit. And so it’s kind of funny that, you know, when you get new people in, it’s like, what are the things they always say like, well, I’m not in shape enough to do this, or they do it once and it’s hard, they get scared and you know, the perspective that I have is like “Look, I know, I was that guy and I’m telling you, having experienced that is that’s not the case.” And so that was kinda how it all started. So I started just like anybody else did, terrified and afraid and at the same time oddly drawn to it.

Sean: 32:19 – So two years later, you’re at the CrossFit Games in 2010. So what was that experience like for you?

Chase: 32:25 – Very brief. You’d have thought I’d have been the national champion out of Dallas, Texas, that’s how brief it was. But it was amazing. And the whole lead up to it is that when I started CrossFit, I had never heard of the CrossFit Games. I just saw a buddy. And then while I was doing it in 2009, I went to watch Regionals and I’m behind the fence. I go, I will be here next year. And then people started talking about the CrossFit Games, like what is the CrossFit Games? And I didn’t even watch them or I just kind of heard about them in 2009 when they happened and they were like, this person won. I was like, OK, cool. And leading up to it, it was, let’s see, I still hadn’t done a CrossFit competition until about October, 2009, where my buddy signed me up to a competition without me knowing about it. Cause I’d only been doing it for maybe six, no, eight months. And I didn’t want to do one because I wasn’t ready. Well, they signed me up, we went and did it. I ended up winning it. And so the funny part about that competition is that’s the competition that birthed Captain America. And so in this event I was winning, which I had in my head, had no business winning. We’re going into the final event, and I was holding two T-shirts in my hands before the final, and one T shirt was my gym’s T-shirt and the other T-shirt with my favorite Captain America T-shirt, that was really just like the Captain America bust, you know, where it looked like I had more muscle than I really did. And I made a conscious decision, I looked at my gym shirt and I said, you can compete with this shirt and if you lose, no one will care. But if you put this Captain America shirt on, you better freaking win because you can’t just show up and be that guy and make a fool out of yourself. So I’m sitting in the locker room looking at two shirts, you know, red pill, blue pill, and I was like, you know what, I’m going for it. And I put the Captain America shirt on, I win the final event by four minutes.

Sean: 34:55 – Wow.

Chase: 34:57 – And this is a small event, it’s Houston, Texas, it was actually called Oktoberfest. I don’t even know if they have one. And they had a, you know, at the time, CrossFit’s media was all outsourced. And this company was there and the program or the event director, you know, “third place, second place, and in first place Captain America.” They didn’t even say my name, said Captain America. That media outlet was there, watched it happen, logged it, and then posted it from there. And that’s how it started. So fast forward to 2010 we had Sectionals and ours was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And I went out there, wore the same shirt, proceeded to win every single event. And the CrossFit media guy that was there covering it was Heber Cannon. Short hair. Just a young lad with a small camera and he was making—he made a little short film on me at Sectionals, which was really cool. And that’s when I started feeling a little bit of pressure. I was like, man, this might be able to happen. So we’re moving into Regionals in May and I call my dad, I said, “Hey, I might have an opportunity to qualify for the CrossFit Games.” And he’s like, “OK.” I was like, “Do you guys want to come watch?” He goes, “Tell you what. If you make it to the Games then we’ll come watch.” I’m like, “OK.”

Sean: 36:55 – Thanks, dad.

Chase: 36:59 – Thanks, dad, thanks for the support. Love you. And I ended up getting third, qualified for the 2010 Games. And for me that was how special it was to qualify. Now it was a lot different back then. Not like it is now. It’s way bigger now. I liken it to, in 2010, everyone was just working out and I was the only one competing. It was like I could dissect the workouts and I knew how to attack and this was like competition and everyone else was just like working out really hard. But you know, I made it, I was super proud of it. For me in high school I was voted most likely to go the Olympics, and so this was kind of that full-circle moment for me. And my most proud moment was Event 1, under the lights, it was Amanda. So they moved to Carson. My dad was in the stands and he got to see a short highlight film of me and hear my name called out and see me walk out on the big stage for the first time. I’m not getting choked up, my throat’s dry. But the best part was the next day was my dad’s birthday. And we are lining up for Super Helen and they’re like, “Say your name and what gym you’re from.” And I said my name and I wished my dad happy.

Sean: 38:51 – That’s cool, man.

Chase: 38:53 – And so like for me I was really proud of myself and that’s OK to be proud of yourself. I was proud of myself for the hard work I did. But at the same time I felt like I finally got to show my mom and dad that I was a part of their club. It was this weird bonding moment with my parents who that, you know, I always wanted to make my parents proud and like make it to the highest level that they wanted for me. They never forced it upon me, they just, you know, like parents want the best for their kids. And I felt like I got to do that for my parents. So for me that was the most special part of the Games. That actually had nothing to do with the Games themselves because in reality I did four events and I got cut on the second day. So my Games, you know, I don’t put CrossFit Games athlete on my bio, on my profiles. I’m not referred to that on the broadcast because it was more personal than it was professional.

Sean: 39:55 – You mentioned being—you talked about you were able to, you know, break down events and know how to attack them. So there’s two things that—and we’ll kind of make this sort of the back or the end of the interview ’cause I love these stories. The first one, I will never forget your performance in the 100s Regional workout. This is in 2013 in the South Central Regional, and I had the pleasure of being able to call it. What stands out to you about that event?

Chase: 40:29 – For me, 2013 was coming back from shoulder surgery. It was a year process. It was a long process. It was a lot harder than I thought it was and it was a fear of I didn’t think I’d ever be the same athlete as I was before, after. There’s just not that confidence. You know, it’s really funny, when that event got announced, I was with our team and I go, guys, check out this kick-ass team event. And they went, “No, that is your event.” My jaw just dropped, because it was a hundred wall-ball shots, 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 100 pistols and a hundred dumbbells snatches at 70 pounds. And at the time that was really heavy.

Sean: 41:25 – Oh yeah. Still is.

Chase: 41:28 – And I was just floored that that was my event. So I practiced it. And I got capped. I think the time cap was 25 minutes. And I didn’t even get through the first 30 snatches when I practiced the event. But for me there’s something special about being on the competition floor, watching people go before me and then turning that into a game plan. And so I was in—well actually I was coming in first place after the first day, which was totally unexpected. So I got to be in the last heat, and we’re in the last heat of both the men and the women. So I’m watching this go and I had a med-ball strategy and I’m watching people go like, no, no, that needs to change. I think I’ll just do 10. And then watching them do pull-ups and seeing people rip off too big of sets and then watching the time and then watching pistols. And so what I did was just kind of watched this all take place. And you know, some athletes say it’s like focus on myself, I’m not aware of people. Like I’m the complete opposite. I was like, I am analyzing everything around me and I’m modifying my pace and my exertion based off that. And so when I was in it, I got to the wall balls. I was probably like one of the last ones off the wall. But it wasn’t about the wall balls. I knew that. But when a lot of people make the mistake is like buying time early, before they get to the hard stuff is their game plan. And it should be actually the opposite. What you need to do is you need to conserve energy early to save it for the hard stuff. And mine was the pull-ups. A hundred chest-to-bar pull-ups when I’m coming off shoulder reconstruction was too much for me. And so I knew that I had to be very, very careful game planning that. And so I just stuck to my plan. I did three sets of 10 and then after that I’ll go, I’m gonna do an unbroken set of chest-to-bar until it gets hard. And then I’ll do singles until I get to the next set of 10 and then I’ll rest. And then I found myself in like third. And when I got the pistols, for some reason they felt so good and I was just vibing up the crowd and I was watching the guys around, I’m like, oh my gosh, I am getting a lead. But then I’m looking at my competitors and I know that you know, Aja Barto is going to beat—this guy’s a mammoth. He’s gonna beast to that dumbbell. Like, here’s what I need to do. I’m going to lead right now. I’m going to push the pistols and make everybody chase me, because I knew that the guys behind me were all stronger than me cause that dumbbell was tough. That if I forced them to try to run me down, that they’d be too tired to finish the event. And so for the first 60 pistols I pushed him. I was going to do 10, so I decided to do 20, and I look at the clock rest 10 seconds and then go again.

Sean: 44:54 – I remember that.

Chase: 44:55 – One time, it was like after 40, the red hat is standing right in front of the clock. And I’m trying to like wave her off.

Sean: 45:03 – I remember that, too.

Chase: 45:04 – And, you know, I was waving people off the clock before Mat Fraser was, I’m just gonna throw that out there. And so then that was my game plan. So I was trying to figure it out. And then when I got to the pistols, it’s like get out early, make them chase you down, and then punish them at the end. And that’s kinda how it unfolded. And it all worked out in that event and I took first place and it was very special. Very special.

Sean: 45:35 – Yeah. It’s still one of the, as far as strategy goes and execution, it’s still one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. If people want to go watch it, I think it is still on YouTube. It was a 2013 South Central Regional, and I can’t remember what number event it was, but yeah, check it out. And then the other story—.

Chase: 45:50 – Event number 4.

Sean: 45:50 – Four, OK. The other story I wanted you to tell, this goes back to the Open and I think it was 2015 it was the thruster bar-facing burpee one. And you were in Scotts Valley. And I don’t want to give away the end, but you had a plan and then you executed it and just, I would love for you to tell the story of you going through that Open workout.

Chase: 46:13 – So when I’m— this is after the champions all got together, what was it, Rich, Sam, Annie, Jason and Graham?

Sean: 46:22 – I think so.

Chase: 46:22 – And so we were going to, after—this was San Francisco.

Sean: 46:26 – Was this 2014 or—I can’t, I think it was maybe 2013.

Chase: 46:31 – It was 2014. And the plan was to watch that and then go to Scotts Valley and learn how to be a better broadcaster. A little broadcast boot camp. But we were going to do the Open workout because there was a—gosh, when did they do them at the time? Friday?

Sean: 46:55 – No, we did them on Thursday nights. Live announcements were on Thursday nights. We would usually hit it the Friday or Monday.

Chase: 47:01 – Yeah. All right. All right. We’re going to do the Open workout at lunch. And so when I first get a workout, I close my eyes. I would say three, two, one go. And I start my wristwatch. And I go through the whole workout from start to finish. And then I stop my watch and see what the time frame is or how many reps I got within a certain time frame. And then I have that as a base number. And then look at how long reps should take. And you know, thrusters take this long and burpees take this long. From start to finish, I believe it went 21 down to three thrusters and bar-facing burpees, descending every three. And so I wrote out on a sheet of paper, you know, I’m going to go 12 9, 11 7, my burpees will be this slow and these are the rests I’m gonna take. And I wrote, you know, 12 reps should take this long, rest five seconds, and then nine reps take this long, rest 10 seconds, then slow 21 burpees should take this long. And I wrote it all out, rest breaks, transitions, paces. And at the end I wrote a time and then circled it. And so we go and do this workout. And I’m going, I’m going, I’m going and going and going. And I finished my last burpee over the bar, collapse, I think Bill Grundler was my judge.

Sean: 48:25 – Yep, Bill was the judge.

Chase: 48:27 – And I yell at him, I was like, go look at my piece of paper over there. And he picks up the sheet of paper and it said, I think it was like 9:12. And I got a 9:21. And I was laughing cause it was I guessed the exact time on paper that the pace that I—

Sean: 48:51 – I remember I walked into the gym, I think when you were done and Bill’s just laughing, he says, “You’ve got to look at this.” I said, “what?” He goes, “Look what Chase got.” And he goes, “Look what he wrote down.” I said, there’s no way. Yeah, that’s incredible.

Chase: 49:01 – It was cool. I was like, OK, maybe I kind of got it figured out, at least for myself a little bit.

Sean: 49:09 – Final question. You know, you own CrossFit Big D, a really successful affiliate in Dallas. What’s kinda the future look like for you there in the next five years?

Chase: 49:21 – In the next five years? I would love—you know, we just had our six-year anniversary, while we were at the Games. Which is crazy to think about six years ago. And then for me looking forward to it is that I just want to make sure that I can keep opening the doors to people that want to be there, like people knocking on the doors to come in. And a lot of times with a gym, you know, obviously getting members to run an affiliate to have a life is the end goal. But taking care of the people that we currently have is my number-one focus and my number-one goal. Giving people a place to come before work, after work, between jobs, during, I don’t know, stressful times in their lives or, is that I want to create, and I think I have, a place that will give people the best hour of their day, a place that they want to come to and never leave. And a place where they feel comfortable to be themselves. Physically, socially, emotionally, and if I can keep doing that, whether it’s 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now, then to me that’s a big success in the evolution of the gym. So numbers-wise, monetary wise, you know, I drive my wife crazy to hear that it’s not my number-one priority. I tell people all the time, it’s like, I think I’m a really good coach, but I’m the world’s worst businessman. But for me it’s more than numbers on a spreadsheet and an end goal, even though obviously we can’t do that without that. But it’s the intangible things that people hold on to the most dearly are the ones that I focus on the most.

Sean: 51:28 – That’s great, man. Well, listen, thank you so much for doing this, Chase. I really appreciate it.

New Speaker: 51:32 – Yeah man, thank you.

Sean: 51:33 – And best of luck moving forward. I hope I get to see you soon. We can get back on the broadcast desk again. That was a lot of fun.

Chase: 51:41 – I think the overall consensus was that was just the beginning of a new future.

Sean: 51:45 – I hope so, man.

Chase: 51:48 – Me too.

Sean: 51:49 – All right. Take care. Appreciate it. All my best to your family, my friend.

Chase: 51:53 – Thank you. You as well.

Sean: 51:56 – Big thanks to Chase Ingraham for taking the time to talk with me. If you want to follow him on social media, you can. He is on Instagram. You can find him at @chase_ingraham. As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to know where to start. And that’s where “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper comes in. As a reader and gym owner, Sean Rider says, quote, “If you are thinking about starting a business, just started a business or have had a business open for a while, this book is a must-read to show you the path to the successful life”. End quote. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” is on Amazon now. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next time.


This is our NEW podcast, Two-Brain Marketing, where we’ll focus on sales and digital marketing. Your host is Mateo Lopez!

Greg Strauch will be back on Thursday with the Two-Brain Radio Podcast.

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When you were a kid, you had heroes.


They came from books. Or sports. Or movies. Or your family.


These heroes were models for you. You were brave because Sir Lancelot was brave. You were smart because Nancy Drew was smart. You practiced because Michael Jordan practiced. You would slip into the body and mind of your heroes and become them. Mine included Sherlock Holmes, Wayne Gretzky and, later, Lance Armstrong.


But as you grew up, you lost your heroes. The lens of experience taught you that no one is perfect. The news highlighted flaws in your heroes. Your adult mind is more skeptical. And you stopped sharing your admiration for people out of fear that one of your friends would say:


“You like HER!?? You’re crazy: she cheated on her first two husbands!” Then they’d look at you funny.


You know the old adage: “Never meet your heroes.”? It’s true. You should never meet your heroes, because you’ll find a flaw in them, and that tiny flaw will undermine all the great things about them. Maybe that great scientist drinks too much, or that incredible athlete cheated on his taxes. Whatever the reason, we lose our heroes as we grow up. And that’s a huge problem, because when we lose our heroes we lose our models for success.


One of the biggest reasons people fail to lose weight, or fail to exercise properly, or even fail at business is that they don’t have models for success. They don’t have heroes.


The greatest value of the CrossFit Games isn’t to crown the Fittest on Earth. It’s to create heroes. It’s to tell a sticky story and provide models for success.


Before 2007, it was widely held that powerlifters should never do “cardio”, because it would sap their strength. I can remember Eddie White, who won world championships in one federation or another, talking about jogging 5k every day. And other powerlifters would say, “Imagine how much stronger you could be if you didn’t jog!”


But then the CrossFit Games happened, and some athletes deadlifted 600lbs and ran a sub-6:00 mile on the same day. And then the movie “300” came out, full of ripped dudes with beards who did CrossFit instead of bodybuilding. Suddenly, we had new models for what was possible. Suddenly, people became interested in CrossFit, because we had sticky stories about its success. Because we had heroes.


People at your box wear board shorts and knee socks because of these models. They train shirtless because of these models. They do snatches, eat Zone and bring their dogs to the box because their heroes do. Hell, no one even called their gym a “box” until their CrossFit heroes did!


Heroes are important. Your clients need them to succeed at fitness, and you need them to succeed at business.


Heroes are made by stories. And without CrossFit Media around, no one is telling the stories that make the heroes that form the models for your clients.


So we–you and me–WE have to do it. Here’s how.


  1. In the Founder Phase, be the hero. Tell your story, especially if you had to overcome some big obstacles. If you’ve lost weight in the past, talk about it a lot. If you weren’t an athlete in high school, tell that story. If you’re a Storybrand fan (like I am), you’ve heard that “the client is the hero, and you’re the guide”. But before you have clients, you still have to tell a story. So tell yours to get the first clients.
  2. In the Farmer Phase, make your clients the hero. Tell their stories. Highlight their obstacles and celebrate their success. Social media posts aren’t enough. Share your YouTube videos, podcast episodes or blog posts through Social Media, but sharing a picture on Instagram doesn’t count as ‘making your clients famous’.
  3. Also in Farmer Phase, make your coaches the heroes. Tell their story. Highlight their knowledge.


If you need help telling stories, follow the Hero’s Journey map from this podcast episode. Not sure which phase of entrepreneurship you’re in? You can take the test here.


4. Finally, be a hero to others.


If you have any kind of public platform–if you’re an athlete, or if you open a business–everything you do is open to scrutiny by your audience. Don’t take that lightly. Even the tiny bit of fame you get from achieving something small comes with the burden to live up to your reputation.


I was at a barbecue with some “inner circle” folks from CrossFit HQ last year. There were some Games athletes at the house, and they were comparing their Instagram audiences. Each had over 20,000 followers. But the head of CrossFit Media pulled out his phone and said, “You guys are only CrossFit-famous. That’s the same as “not-famous”. You want to see ‘famous’?” And he showed them Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account, which had around 22 MILLION followers.


The Media guy was right: on a grand scale, “crossfit-famous” is about the same as “not famous”. But he missed the point: “CrossFit-Famous” means “famous in a way that our tribe cares about.” CrossFit Games success might not matter to everyone, but it matters to THEM: the people we care about.  OUR tribe. OUR audience.


In your little gym, maybe even in your little town: you are the model for success. You are a hero. Live up to it.


(if you don’t have a business hero, get a mentor.)