The Flywheel Turns on Trust

The Flywheel Turns on Trust

This series is about the Flywheel Principle and how I’ve built our mentorship practice to maximize its effect.

In the first post, I explained what it takes to get your wheel turning in the right direction and then how to build momentum and grow.

The second post showed how your personal flywheel is different from your business flywheel.

In the third post, I explained how you can remove flat spots in your wheel and obstacles from the road.

To close out the series, I’m going to talk about trust.


The Axis of Your Flywheel


Put a barbell on a rack. Place your hand on the sleeve. Spin it. Track how long the sleeve spins. That’s a measure of balance and friction. Good barbells have sleeves that spin longer.

Now put a 45-lb. plate on the sleeve. Grip the edge of the plate. Spin it on the bar. No matter how long the sleeve spun on its own, it will spin far longer with a plate on it. This is called rotational inertia.

Now put that plate on a rusted barbell that doesn’t turn at all. Spin the plate hard. It might turn a bit … but it will grind against the sleeve. It won’t turn for long. And you’ll have to use greater force to get it moving.

No matter how big your flywheel, it will spin faster and longer on a frictionless axis. And the axis of your flywheel—in business and in life—is trust.

I said that there are six “handles” on your gym business flywheel, and that pushing on any of them will make your business grow faster and last longer.

But if your axis doesn’t turn smoothly—if you don’t have trust—none of your pushing will work nearly as well.


The Six Handles


First Handle: Teach the Vision

Your staff and your clients know when you’re lying. If you’ll say anything to make a buck, they’ll see it. They’ll know when your values are different from their values. They’ll know whether you’ll have their back or throw them under the bus. But if they trust you, they’ll believe in your vision and pursue it to the death. Read more about Aligning the Vs (vision and values) here.


Second Handle: Improve Operations

Your staff and your clients know you’re not perfect. If you say, “I made a mistake. I should have charged more. And I should have focused on coaching instead of selling you open gym,” that’s going to be a difficult conversation. But the outcome depends on trust: If your clients trust you to do the best thing for them in the end, they won’t leave. If they don’t know why you’re making these decisions, or if they distrust your values, they will. And they should. They’ll argue. They’ll join another gym in revenge. They’ll try to recruit other members to go with them. These aren’t rational actions: They’re emotional ones, and they happen because there’s no trust.


Third Handle: Upgrade Team

Your staff has to understand their opportunities and responsibilities and trust you to measure them the same way every time. “That teacher hates me!” is now a common complaint among students who get bad grades. That means they don’t trust the teacher to provide equal attention and grading. If you sit with your team and set goals with them, show them their opportunities clearly, answer hard questions and give them feedback regularly, they’ll trust you. If you don’t, they’ll be susceptible to people who want them to fight with you (yeah, they’re out there).


Fourth Handle: Keep Clients Longer

When does your bank call you to ask, “How’s everything going in your business?” In my experience, that never happens until you close your account. Then, when the banker calls, I roll my eyes because I know the bank doesn’t really care; it just wants me to leave my money in the vault. Building trust with your clients means constant contact. You must re-sell them on your value. Just like a marriage.


Fifth Handle: Sell More

When your clients know you’ll give them the best possible prescription, they’ll pay for your suggestion. When they know you’ll run bait-and-switch marketing to get more clients, they also know you’ll say anything to get more money from them. If they understand that you value fairness, your rate increase won’t be a surprise. But if they see that you just value more clients, more clients, more clients, then they won’t trust you to give their goals much attention. Word gets around.


Sixth Handle: Get More Leads

When future clients see an ad, they might not take action. In fact, most won’t. And over time, as the high-trust early adopters move to something else, the rest of us need to trust you before we buy from you. We need to go to your website and see proof. We need to see other clients who look like us. We need to read or watch something to see if you know what you’re talking about. We need to trust you. Even Facebook now tells high-level marketers they need to publish a lot of free content to build authority (another word for trust) on their platforms. Gyms that publish a lot of media spend far less on Facebook ads (sometimes $0). Paying for attention isn’t the same as establishing trust.


Trust and Leadership


The axis of trust is important in your business. It’s also critical for your personal flywheel (listen to this podcast from Naval Ravikant on “compounding relationships”). But of course, there’s a lot of overlap.

Local physiotherapists and chiropractors refer their clients to my gym, Catalyst, because they trust me as a person. Local parents trust me with their kids because they see me volunteering in the community. And my wife trusts me to work long hours (and travel) because she sees me work hard to be a dad when I’m home.

Trust means that people know you will do the right thing even when it’s hard. That you will make the choices that will ultimately benefit them. That you have their best interests in mind.

Leadership means that you have earned the collective trust of your group.

Where will you lead us?


Other Articles in This Series

How to Build an Unstoppable Business
Building Your Personal Flywheel
Removing Speed Bumps

Building Your Personal Flywheel

Building Your Personal Flywheel

In the previous article in this series, I told you How to Build an Unstoppable Business. I used Jim Collins’ “flywheel” concept to illustrate.

I told you how to identify the six handles you can use to roll your business forward. We teach you how to remove obstacles, push on the six handles and get your flywheel turning in the Incubator.

In the Founder Phase, you’re really going to be pushing your flywheel yourself. But if you’ve made a smooth wheel and haven’t placed any speed bumps in your own path (like underpricing), you can still get the wheel turning pretty well.

In the Farmer Phase, you can get other people to help you turn the flywheel. You turn specific handles over to them one at a time. Gradually, your job becomes leadership: getting everyone to push together in the same direction.

And, finally, your job is to have someone else take over the leadership role so that you can work on your own flywheel.


The Six F’s


One gym is enough to make a living. But entrepreneurs often want more in their lives: They want another business or a bigger stage. They want a wealth platform. I call this the Tinker Phase, and Tinkers build personal flywheels.

The handles on your personal flywheel are:

Fitness—This is your physical and emotional capacity to meet your challenges. Are you ready? Can you manage your stress, your physical output demands—and your response to both? Can you last long enough to finish the race?

Finances—Do you have the capital necessary to invest in your big goals, and are you prepared for the increased financial risk at this stage?

Freedom—Do you have enough wealth to create choice? Are you free to spend your time and money in constructive ways? Do you have enough positive constraints to keep you focused?

Family—This is the sum of all of your relationships. Are you surrounded by the right people? Do your relationships make you happy or angry or sad? Who surrounds you, and where are they taking you? Where are you taking them?

Faith—This handle represents the belief that order exists among chaos, that we are not helplessly falling, that we have control over our destiny, that happiness is attainable.

Future—Do you have a goal? Do you have a clear vision of what you’d like to achieve next? Do you have a plan to get there? Are you focused?A yellow circle that represents a flywheel; it is surrounded by the words fitness, freedom, finances, family, faith and future.

Destination: Smiles


Where’s the flywheel rolling to? Happiness.

One of my most controversial articles this year was called “Fat People on Mars.” In that post, I wrote that the ultimate goal of all of this—business, fitness and money—was to achieve happiness. But happiness isn’t a static state: You don’t simply cross the border into heaven, find a seat and sit down for eternity.

Happiness is an active process. To be happy, you have to keep the flywheel moving. That means a balance of challenge and triumph, of focus and creativity, of finances and time. People are happiest when they’re moving.


Other Articles in This Series

How to Build an Unstoppable Business
Removing Speed Bumps
The Flywheel Turns on Trust

Playing the Infinite Game

Playing the Infinite Game

If you’ve had a bad week—or a bad month‚ it’s easy to think, “I’m losing!”

But you’re probably not. You’re probably just playing the wrong game.

In the context of a 40-year business, a bad month is nothing. Hell, five bad years are no big deal—that’s only 12.5 percent of your career. No pro athlete, superstar entrepreneur or politician is at his or her peak 100 percent of the time. Five years spent learning hard lessons and 35 years spent reaping the rewards is a great tradeoff.

Take it from the guy who did it the hard way for 10 years!

In the Founder Phase, playing “the infinite game” is easy: You’re just trying to survive. Every day, you win just by opening the door. But eventually, you need your business to sustain itself and feed your family. These are the goals of Farmer Phase.

Most gym owners play finite games:

They try to get the most members.

They try to get the highest gross revenue or average monthly billing.

They try to get their athletes to the CrossFit Games.

Instead, they should be trying to build a business that lasts 40 years, provides great careers for their coaches and makes them wealthy.


Simon Sinek Says


Simon Sinek calls the long-term pursuit of success “The Infinite Game.” Here’s his new book on the subject—it’s great so far.

Sinek presents five keys to success in the infinite game:

1. Just Cause

You must feel compelled to serve your mission, whether you’re going through good times or fighting for your life. If you started a gym, I know you’ve got this one covered. You didn’t do it to get rich; you did it to get people healthy. Your “just cause” is so inspiring that helping you achieve it is my “just cause.” No exaggeration.


2. Worthy Adversary

You must have someone else who is trying to compete with you. I know, you have other gyms nearby. I know they copy you. I know they undercut your prices and blah-blah-blah-blah. Guess what: You need competitors. You need them to make you better. You need them to justify your high rates. You need them to force you to get better at business instead of better at coaching the snatch.

3. Open Playbook

You must pursue a fixed cause with a variable strategy. You must choose your methods without being trapped in an ideology. HIIT and Paleo are really effective, but they’re not what you sell. You sell weight loss. HIIT and Paleo are tools. When better tools emerge, you will test them and adopt anything that’s better. Right?

(Here’s a test: Could you change your gym’s name and still attract new clients? If your gym name is “Bill’s Pilates” or “Harry’s Barre+Boxing,” you’re probably trapped in an ideology.)

Your clients should know that you’re updating your skills and knowledge all the time—that you will find what’s best for them and filter out the rest.

4. Vulnerable Team

You must have a culture in which people feel free to say “I don’t know” or ask “how do I do this?” Your coaches must balance being an authority with maintaining a “beginner’s mind.” And you, the leader, can build trust by telling your team “I hired a business mentor to help me build a sustainable platform for you.”

5. Courageous Leadership

You must have leadership that focuses on the just cause instead of the competition or what’s being said on social media. This is pretty tough. It’s easy to get distracted by what the other guys are doing, what HQ is doing or what the critics are saying. But none of that matters: What matters is helping people live better, healthier lives. The more focused you are on The Mission, the easier it is to block out all these distractions. But it takes practice.


Up or Down: Where Do You Look?


Three years ago, Dave Tate of EliteFTS told me this:

“You’re playing a game of attrition. You don’t have to win; you just have to last. Three years from now, everyone else will be gone.”

He’s almost always right.

As other “gym consulting” businesses in the CrossFit space wither—or even fold up their tents and join Two-Brain—we’re growing.

The key reason why?

We’re focused on making gyms successful. They’re focused on us.

It’s pretty amazing to see Tate’s advice borne out three years later. The “competition” in 2016 is either gone, or they recommend us at their seminars, or they’re among our clients now. That means we can all focus on making gym owners successful.

Sure, some are still playing the finite games of getting followers or likes or attention—and some always will be. When they die, someone else will take their place. You and I will never be without critics or short-term competitors.

But if you play the infinite game in your business, as I try to do in mine, they won’t be distractions for long. Because it’s easy to ignore the mud on your shoes when you’re gazing at Infinity.


Other Articles in This Series

We Can all Win
Never Have Competition Again
The Mindset Necessary for Success
Why You Want More Two-Brain Gyms in Your City
1,000,000 Fitness Entrepreneurs: The Two-Brain Plan

Mentors: Teachers, Guides and Therapists

Mentors: Teachers, Guides and Therapists

In this series, I’ve been writing about the Path to Wealth and how we’ve mapped it. I even gave you some blurry little preview pics.

The journey from Startup to Legacy passes through four phases: Founder Phase, Farmer Phase, Tinker Phase and Thief Phase.

Here’s how a mentor helps you along the path.


Mentorship Through the Four Phases


In the Founder Phase, a mentor is primarily a teacher.

We’ve done so well with new gyms that the path is really, really clear. There are steps to follow, in order, that virtually guarantee a profitable opening. We just have to tell them to you and keep you focused.

Gym owners in the Founder Phase have either just opened, are about to open or are struggling to break even. Their best mentors are those who will help them avoid overwhelm and give them the confidence to do it the right way.

And it’s so much easier to open a gym the right way. New owners who have gone through the Incubator have literally shaved up to seven years off their journeys to wealth. Imagine: seven years of pain, poverty and poor health—avoided!


In the Farmer Phase, a mentor is a coach—and a therapist.

The majority of gym owners in the Two-Brain Family are in the Farmer Phase. And when we meet them, they’re usually paralyzed. Maybe they’ve made some mistakes that they’re terrified to correct (like low rates). Or maybe they’re just overwhelmed by all the ideas out there.

Like a fitness coach, a mentor in the Farmer Phase must provide clarity and support. First, we help the owner make decisions (“Do this one thing today”). Then we provide support while the owner takes action. And when the action is really tough, a mentor shares the burden.

Your investment in mentorship is $5,000 (a fraction of what mentors usually cost). A mentor’s investment in you is physical, mental and emotional. I’ve spent many sleepless nights knowing that my clients are anxious. I’ve skipped many holiday parties to shoot them how-to videos and taken hundreds of phone calls at my kids’ hockey games. I do all of that because a mentor is invested deeper than money can measure.


In the Tinker Phase, a mentor is a filter.

When you achieve Functional Retirement, you have freedom of time and money. Maybe a little too much freedom: It’s very easy to chase after every idea you’ve got locked in the vault. That’s a recipe for incompletion and burnout.

Tinker-level mentors help you get clarity. They help you decide and then take action on one thing at a time. Most of our clients in the Tinker Phase start by building a wealth platform, and then they decide to duplicate their current business. Or, sometimes, they start a new one. But they don’t pursue all options at once.

Tinker-level mentorship also includes group support with peers at the same level. Because relationships create opportunities—when you’re ready to receive them.


And in the Thief Phase, a mentor is a trusted confidante.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” then you understand the mindset of the Thief. In this stage, mentors help clients establish an immortal legacy. Your legacy should grow and give after you’re gone, and your mentors should guide you to set up a platform to make that happen.

Are you in Founder Phase, Farmer Phase, Tinker Phase or Thief Phase?

Take our test here.


The Right Approach at the Right Time

Good mentors are teachers, coaches therapists and trusted confidantes. Great mentors know how to fill all those roles. But the best mentors know which hat to wear—and when—to move you toward wealth.

Here’s our mentoring team:


All have been trained to be teachers, coaches, therapists and trusted advisors. And all have different personalities because there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to mentorship. We’re not a call center or a help line or a group of consultants.

We’re smart, caring and experienced professionals who have been where you are now and mapped the Path to Wealth for you.

Book a free call with our team to talk about mentorship here.


Other Articles in This Series

How to Achieve Any Goal
How to Solve Any Problem in Fitness
How to Solve Any Problem in Business
The Two-Brain Wealth Map

The Two-Brain Wealth Map

The Two-Brain Wealth Map

In this series, I’ve been telling you how to solve any problem by breaking it down. Fitness coaches are good at this process, but business owners sometimes forget how to do it. And the overwhelming number of business books, ideas, podcasts and videos makes the path to wealth unclear.

But if you’re a fitness coach, you’re good at filtering out pseudoscience and crazy workout ideas to give your clients a clear path. I’m a business mentor, and I’m good at filtering out bad ideas and overwhelm to give my clients a clear path.

It’s taken us years and tens of thousands of one-on-one phone calls with entrepreneurs to do it, but we’ve mapped the path to wealth. Real wealth.

I wrote about the process of mapping the path here:

Mapping the Path to Wealth


First, we defined Point B: Wealth.

I wrote “What Is Wealth?” to give us clarity.

What Is Wealth?


Second, we assessed thousands of gym owners to determine Point A.

From 2012 to 2019, I personally took over 1,000 free calls and 3,000 paid calls with gym owners. As our team expanded, we took more: We now book over 275 calls per week with gym owners. And we do them all one-on-one with a mentor for an hour at a time.

Then we worked backward to map the path. As I showed you in this video, we asked, “What’s the halfway point to wealth?”

The halfway point to Wealth is Functional Retirement. Basically, it’s the point where your business pays for your lifestyle but doesn’t require you to be there. You have security with your money and freedom with your time.

Functional Retirement


Then we chopped up the journey even further. We asked, “What’s halfway to halfway?” and “What’s halfway between Functional Retirement and Legacy, fixing-the-world status?”

Well, halfway between Startup and Functional Retirement is the Breakeven Point, where your business pays for itself (but doesn’t really pay you yet).

And halfway between Functional Retirement and Legacy is Financial Independence, where your wealth grows on its own. Your money has babies. You get paid in your sleep.

The spaces between each of those achievements (Breakeven, Functional Retirement, Financial Independence and Legacy) are the phases of the Entrepreneurial Journey.

I named those four phases Founder Phase, Farmer Phase, Tinker Phase and Thief Phase.

Founder Phase: from 0 to Breakeven

Farmer Phase: from Breakeven to Functional Retirement

Tinker Phase: from Functional Retirement to Financial Independence

Thief Phase: from Financial Independence to Legacy.

(That last one means that your wealth creates opportunities for others after you’re gone.)

So the map looks like this:


Next, we have to break down all the steps necessary to get from one phase to another.

I wrote “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” to share those steps with everyone.

In our mentorship practice, we break those steps down into their smallest irreducible parts. That’s my superpower. There are actually 10 steps from the start of Founder Phase to the end of Farmer Phase—multiplied by 42 categories. Seriously—there are 420 things you have to do to achieve Functional Retirement. So now the map looks like this:



Then we built our service to move entrepreneurs from Startup to Wealth as expediently as possible.

Our Incubator program is a 12-week sprint from your starting point. We move fast. And then the Growth Stage program takes over to maintain momentum, continue development, reward victories and keep your eyes on the prize.

Our mentors help entrepreneurs move from one step to the next, with personal guidance and access to MasterClasses. Sometimes mentors can help gym owners skip a step or two. Sometimes we have to spend a few months on a single step. And the net result is that gym owners can often become wealthy in three years (it took me 12!).

You haven’t heard about a map to wealth anywhere else. There isn’t one.

No one else has done it.


Other Articles in This Series

How to Achieve Any Goal
How to Solve Any Problem in Fitness
How to Solve Any Problem in Business
Mentors: Teachers, Guides and Therapists