The Keys to Improved Leadership for Gym Owners

Andrea Savard-BLOG

Mike (00:02):

Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, LeBron James, Megan Rapinoe. And you? As a gym owner and coach, you’re a leader. Whether you like it or not, people look to you for guidance, strength, and inspiration. On this episode of Two-Brain Radio, certified mentor and longtime gym owner Andrea Savard will tell you exactly how you can be a better leader for your staff and your clients. She’s here right after this. Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Driven Nutrition. If you’re struggling to develop a profitable retail program, you need to contact Jason Rule’s team at Driven. Driven puts customers first and provides a huge product line with some of the highest margins around. They’ll even provide training to help you grow your retail program. Curt Hendrickson of Iron Jungle CrossFit says Driven “has you, the affiliate owner in mind. Driven nutrition has some of the best support I have seen from any company we have partnered with.” To find out how to make more money with supplements, visit driven Welcome to Two-Brain Radio, I’m Mike Warkentin and I’m excited to talk leadership with Andrea Savard of FirePower Training in Ontario, Canada. Andrea is a former boxer, a corporate marketing exec, and one of the most experienced microgym owners in Canada. All right, Andrea. Welcome to Two-Brain radio. How are you today?

Andrea (01:09):

Thank you so much. I am awesome. I’m super, super excited and honored to be here.

Mike (01:14):

I’m pumped up too. You are one of the longest serving affiliate owners in Canada. Do you actually know what number you are?

Andrea (01:21):

Not a hundred percent, but we’ve always gone with, we were just north of probably 250 worldwide.

Mike (01:27):

Yes. So you’ve gotta be one of the very first ones in Canada. You’re probably up there with Cooper, I think probably.

Andrea (01:34):

I think we started the same year.

Mike (01:34):

So you’ve got a ton of experience that I’m super pumped to talk to you about leadership today because obviously you’ve been a leader for a really long time. What was your year of affiliation that you officially got into it?

Andrea (01:45):

Early 2008.

Mike (01:46):

Yeah. So you’ve had a flock of athletes and staff and clients, for, well more than a decade now. So you’ve got a ton of experience and this was going to be your talk at the Two-Brain summit. Which people can still register that is going to be online. So be sure you check that out and register for that, but this leadership and influence, I can’t wait to talk about it. Let’s get right into it. Here’s the thing right off the bat. What is leadership? People talk about this stuff all the time. There’s books, movies, everything generally, what is leadership? And then how is that specific to the microgym industry?

Andrea (02:20):

I see leadership as having the courage and competence to, I say, step away from the crowd, not do what everybody else is doing, just because everybody else is doing it. I see it, you know, creating space for change and then getting people to see your way of thinkin, and getting them to take actions on the thing that you want them to do.

Mike (02:44):

Those are three super important things. And that’s, you know, tell me the first one again?

Andrea (02:49):

Creating space.

Mike (02:52):

Yeah. And so like in the current climate right now, you’re seeing a lot of people that are doing exactly that because we have the COVID thing. We have, you know, the Black Lives Matter situation where there’s this huge social upheaval and people are actively working to change and you see people stepping up and really asserting their leadership to try and make space for that change, which is really, really cool. And in the fitness industry, Chris has written about this, Chris Cooper, our founder, in some of his blogs where he’s talking about how the industry is changing so fast right now, and we have to adapt and the opportunity there is for people to step up and be leaders. And some of those, some of that is going to be just in the sense of like your clients are panicked and stressed and they need someone to look at. And then part of it is also in the industry. We have an industry that’s just got like multiple gunshot wounds here and is bleeding out and we’re trying to find people to follow and fix it. So do you see this current crisis as a bigger opportunity for leadership than ever before in this industry?

Andrea (03:48):

I do. I mean, I look at it multiple things. I look at levels of our Two-Brain operations, where our job is to take care of the other gyms and businesses that follow us. But as a gym owner myself, I see leadership more like I equate it to a shepherd watching over your flock, guiding and directing people, you know, providing security and visibility in scary times, you know, and helping them walk a path. I see this as a huge opportunity for us as other local business owners in town to establish ourselves as a leadership environment. One of the biggest things I’ve always felt about leadership is great leaders draw and attract other leaders. And, you know, if we can do our best in that environment, in our own gyms and our daily lives will attract really great people to our communities.

Mike (04:41):

Have you had a chance to put that into practice? Like I know you’ve, I think you’ve been entrepreneur of the year in your city. Is that the right reward you had?

Andrea (04:48):

We have been, we’re really fortunate that our goal is to take care of other people, that has been the founding piece of what we do. It’s our vision and it’s our driving mission every day is building a community. It’s connecting people together. And I think that’s where leadership allows that attractiveness to bring people together who are also awesome people. And that’s where the community thrives.

Mike (05:10):

And have you had that opportunity now in the, in the COVID crisis to kind of step up in your entrepreneurial group, in your local city to kind of make those connections and see what other people are doing and kind of form a, you know, almost like a called a local leadership group.

Andrea (05:24):

You know what, yeah, I actually have done this a few years ago. There are some other gym owners where ironically, we are competitors. We play in the same space, but we have developed a connection, a respectful friendship of each other. And we are infusing our local marketplace with, you know, social posts and content that shows that we can work together and it can be a healthy environment for us.

Mike (05:52):

And that’s such a cool thing where, you know, you’re competitors quote unquote, but at the same time, there are many people that don’t go to gyms that gyms aren’t really competing with each other. Right. Like you just need to find ways to get the people who aren’t in your gyms to get there. And there’s a huge number of them, right? So it’s really fascinating when you look at that. And that’s the abundance mindset that people talk about all the time, right? It’s like, there’s enough for everyone. And if we work together, there’s probably more than enough for everyone.

Andrea (06:15):

You got it, you got it. For sure. We’ve also tried in our environment too, to craft a pay it forward culture. And that’s what we do in our membership as well. And that, you know, has bled out further as over, you know, over 12 plus years that we’ve been doing this. It’s created other many leaders in their own environment that they, they go off and service the community and feel confident about their efforts and connect people together.

Mike (06:44):

So ave you always been a leader, like you obviously started a gym and you have athletes and clients looking up to you from day one, was that something that you kind of just naturally gravitated toward? Or was it something that you had to work on and cultivate over the years?

Andrea (06:59):

I think I’ve looked at myself as a natural leader, but I sure don’t think it’s always been that way. I’ve always felt like one, but I know that doesn’t mean I’ve always been a good one, you know, it’s trial and error. I have had a natural love of leadership. I’m constantly seeking, learning. I observe a lot. I’m actually ironically a natural introvert by nature, but I observe a lot and I feel I take the good from people that I observe. I really like how so and so has done this. I really like how they communicate with people. I like how they make people feel. I like how they project professionalism, more confidence, but you can also use the same concept to follow leaders that you say, I never want to be like that person, because I know it’s the same as what we teach in the incubator or the ramp up, you’re learning your values. Who do you want to emulate? And who do you want to never be like.

Mike (07:58):

Yeah, isn’t that powerful, like the positive examples of like amazing leaders are super inspiring, but then you also can learn a lot from negative leaders. I’ve had a few jobs where I learned a lot from someone who just wasn’t a good leader and tried to do the opposite of that. You know, it’s like the Seinfeld bizarro world where you do the exact opposite of what’s normal or whatever nd that situation.

Andrea (08:19):

You got it. One thing I’ve learned though, is you’ll never be done working on your leadership.

Mike (08:24):

Yeah. It’s a continuous process and that’s almost like intimidating in some ways is because you never reach the level where, you know, it’s like, Oh, I’m Barack Obama, he’s still working on stuff, right? Like, it’s like, you know, he’s a leader of the free world, quote unquote, and the most, you know, highest office and so forth. Probably still has some personal issues that he’s got to work through. And it’s almost intimidating to think about it.

Andrea (08:43):

I agree. I think sometimes we feel we’ve got certain areas down pat, and then life throws you a humbling moment where you realize I got to start again.

Mike (08:52):

No shortage of that right now. Certainly not at this at this point. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about how to build leadership skills yourself, but do you think that leaders are born or built and you’ve talked about a little bit where you said that you’ve had to work on it, but do you think that someone who’s never thought of himself or herself as a leader can grow into that role? Or is it just like, you just don’t have it, sorry.

Andrea (09:15):

Yeah. Good, good question. I think my personal opinion, I think leaders are built. I think being born into an environment, you know, where if your parents are leaders, for example, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re given a gift of leadership. I truly feel that leadership is a series of experiences, positive or negative that develops your style. And I’m a huge advocate of constant education, continuous evolution of your skills and human interaction and development comes and changes as we age. I don’t think, you know, you’re perfect from the start obviously, but through experience and through feedback, you build confidence and confidence is what builds action. And I think leaders arise from people taking action.

Mike (10:05):

And have you seen that? I mean, I’m guessing that you have in your staff, like for example, you have a brand new coach that you’ve just hired or released from your training program. And that first whiteboard speech is probably a little bit awkward and there’s some nerves and things like that. But then, you know, if you give this person the right resources and as they build that confidence and have you seen them just blossom into these glorious leaders that, you know, the clients can’t get enough of?

Andrea (10:27):

I sure have. I truly believe that people’s confidence grows from just try, have the courage to go out and try something like that. You can look at it from staff doing their first whiteboard and stepping on the training floor for the first time. You can also look at it from clients who come in the door and are terrified. I believe as leaders, it’s our job to give feedback and positive feedback like in different stages of someone’s development, into a leadership role, into a new something. I think anybody that has any expertise in anything in life started from square one and they were given positive feedback and that built their confidence and then slowly built their expertise.

Mike (11:15):

I’ve seen it in, you know, in two cases I’ve seen like one coach, we selected simply because he just had something, right? Like he was a natural, peopl just gravitated toward him, wanted to like be around him, would follow him wherever. Like he was just that guy. He just had that unassuming charisma kind of thing. And he was just a natural leader. We’ve had other ones who weren’t like that but grew into it. So they started out that same thing where it’s almost like a little bit meek and kind of afraid to correct the deadlift and like, just not, I mean, definitely had potential, but you wouldn’t call them right off the bat leaders. But then after a little bit of growth, you could see them start to flourish. And it was cool to see some of their paths where as coaches and athletes, they really developed, but then also in their professionals like that, they had other professions outside. This thing’s even changed there for them professionally because their confidence and everything changed. And they became, I think, leaders in those jobs as well. So it was just fascinating to see what happens in that environment.

Andrea (12:11):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Personality is such a major piece. I will always hire for personality over skill. I’ll teach you the skills, but you have to have the personality as well.

Mike (12:20):

You can’t uncoach being a jerk right. Or unlearn that, right? Yeah. So Chris Cooper, our Two-Brain founder, he’s written a ton about leadership. He calls himself a student of leadership and he’s often said that, you know, it’s something that he works on all the time. He wrote a blog called How to Lead in a Crisis. It’s, we’ll put that in the show notes. If you guys want to take a look at that, he’s got some really great advice in there, but he said in tough times, leaders need to be realistic and optimistic. And so that’s the idea of saying like the next three months are going to be rough, man, they’re going to suck, but we are going to get through them. So he’s saying, you gotta tell people, you know, he based this on Admiral James Stockdale, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Mike (12:59):

Right. And he was the leader of this horribly imprisoned group. And he had to tell them, we’re probably not getting out of here for a really long time. It’s going to be brutal. We’re going to be tortured. It sucks, but we are going to get out. And it was just a fascinating concept, that you know, that Chris has written about and others have written about. So what do you think about that whole thing where you have to be realistic? And sometimes that comes with tough love, hard news and you know, some negativity, quote, unquote, but also some optimism for the long term. What does that do for you?

Andrea (13:29):

100% onboard. He’s so right. You know, in times of crisis, people still have to have hope and faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel, right? Again, back to the personalities. If they don’t have hope or faith, then people turtle and stand still and don’t do anything. That’s the worst thing that you could possibly do. You know, leadership in tough times, it comes through experience and it comes through courage to move forward. Chris’s amazing talent of leadership didn’t come out of nothing. He has gone through experiences that craft his ability to respond in crisis. He’s had tough times. You can’t take somebody who’s never had a job and expect them to become a CEO right away. You have to start at the bottom, work yourself up, go through the hard times and gain the experience. So he’s a hundred percent bang on, you know, leadership in crisis. I always say, it’s never born out of the ashes. It’s the relationships and the trust that have been in place, or have been growing years before that. People have to be able to trust their leaders, that they have the capability, the decisions and the, you know, they’ve got the experience to lead them through.

Mike (14:44):

Chris has also talked a lot about, it’s a leader’s job to tell people what to do in tough times, like the most important things to do. And that’s one of the two main principles of mentorship. Obviously, you know this as a mentor, but we try not to sit here and tell clients, well, you know, maybe, you know, try this and this, you know, it might work. And here’s an idea I haven’t tested. We’re trying really hard to give them actual concrete advice. And that requires a lot of courage, right? Like to say to someone, listen, you need to raise your rates by $50. Like have you had to have that call with a client and how to maybe not $50 or whatever, but you’ve had to tell a client something tough and it’s difficult for you, obviously, because that requires a lot of leadership and courage to tell them what to do in a tough time when they’re freaking out, has that happened?

Andrea (15:32):

Absolutely. Yes. It definitely happens. In my opinion, it comes to clarity. People need in tough times, they need clarity and they need steps. They have to understand without getting too much information, but you have to be able to break stuff down into steps. So for taking people through emotionally, mentally draining times, they’re physically drained, they’re emotionally drained. They just need to see a way out and they need to see the steps, how to get there in simple ways. But it has to be real.

Mike (16:03):

This was kind of where a mentor comes in, where right. Where like when I’m having my most difficult moments, everything is just piling on it. Really helpful to have someone outside, just look from the outside and say, OK, dude, like you’re spinning a lot of plates here. There’s one that’s really wobbling. You need to address that one right now. You know? And that’s really where the benefit of mentorship comes in. It’s interesting because of all the Two-Brain mentors, I think there’s 30 something, there’s a lot of strong leaders on there. Like these are people that are like, you know, amazing gym owners, but then also like, you know, people that they look to obviously are big players in the community and just like big family people, either in their church or in sports leagues or things like that.

Mike (16:43):

Like people that, I can’t think of a single one on a list that doesn’t have some aspect of follow me, you know, that you would want to follow. You know, so these guys and these mentors, they definitely the work on this stuff. It’s not something like you said, like there’s no one that’s just done being a leader in training. There are so many things you can do. We’re going to talk about exactly what you can do to become a better leader in just a sec. This episode of Two-Brain Radio is brought to you by Wodify. Wodify is an all in one solution for member management, appointment scheduling and tracking. Wodify’s insights tool includes the business health dashboard co-developed with Two-Brain to provide average revenue per member, length of engagement and more key metrics. Gym owners, to receive 20% off your first year of Wodify Core visit And we’re back. So now we’re at the actionable stuff. We want you to listen to this podcast and then take some action. So we talked earlier, we said, you can improve leadership skills. How do you do it? How have you done it, Andrea? And how would you recommend people start doing it? If they’re just like, man, I need to be a better leader.

Andrea (17:45):

Like I said earlier, I observe a lot of people and I sit back and I said, what are they doing right now? What is helping them stay focused? You know, I’ve watched Chris a significant amount since about, for years, we’ve been friends, but obviously through Two-Brain, but specifically during this time through COVID, what is he doing? How is he making decisions and how is he basically being a shepherd to, you know, hundreds of thousands of us that need leadership right now. And the three things that come to my mind for him for that I’ve looked at is like, what do you see? What do you believe is going to happen? And how do we get there? And in each of those situations, he has continuously come forward with answers for all of us.

Andrea (18:36):

How do we get to where we’re going and balancing the realism like we talked about earlier, but also with the enthusiasm that this is the way, and people are seeing success from that. Ultimately my best advice is find something, someone, a course, a person, something that you can follow and stick with it. For us, it’s been Two-Brain. For me personally, I’m a huge advocate of Dale Carnegie. I’ve seen people, you know, read multiple books and courses and jump from course to course to course, but never dive deep enough to really learn anything or take action and do it. I’m a big advocate on find something that you connect with, something that you can follow with, study it, learn it and practice and go back and do it again. Study it again, learn it again, practice it again. So something like that, it’s the same reason that even us as mentors, who’ve been following Two-Brain for many, many years go back and ourselves redo the incubator or the ramp up program, you know, two, three, four times now because you are following a system, you’re following a leadership style and you’re continuing to learn it and practice it.

Mike (19:46):

So you’d recommend as opposed to kind of being a tourist who spends a little bit of time in every city, maybe buying an apartment or renting an apartment for three or four months, or maybe a couple of years, and really digging into that place. So to speak.

Andrea (19:58):

You got it. It doesn’t mean you put blinders on to any other concepts or any other ideas. There’s always aha moment. There’s always, you know, tidbits to be learned. But I think for example, if people wanted to be authentic CrossFitters and make it to the Games, they weren’t dabbling in Zumba for a while and then dabbling in, you know, boxing or something else, whatever their craft is. They got there by finding something they believed in, a tool, a methodology that got them where they were long term.

Mike (20:26):

So if we laid out a step, the step right now would be find a person or a course that inspires you and then dig in. And so that means like, you know, you’ve talked about Dale Carnegie. There are other leaders and people have written about it, find a person and it doesn’t have to be maybe a, you know, a famous leading light in the industry. It could just be, you know, a local leader in your community that you connect with or something, but find that person and study. And that means observing, observe, talk, read anything they’ve written. If they have a blog or a book or anything like that, of course take it, and then really, really dig into that. So that’s step one.

Andrea (21:04):

That’s how I’ve done. Like I said, I follow the Dale Carnegie methodology. I took that course and went, Oh, that’s kinda cool. Took it again. Oh, that’s really interesting. I’ve taken it a third time and now I understand the methodology. I understand how I approach. It has changed every single way that I interact with my staff and with people. I’m finally finding courage to put certain tactics into practice with great success, but it’s follow the methodology and stick with it.

Mike (21:38):

Can you give me an example of that? Like what is something that you wouldn’t have done before this course with a staff member and an interaction and something that you would do now based on, you know, the three times through this course that you’ve gone.

Andrea (21:48):

Yeah. Learning that to be an effective leader requires your ability to gain cooperation from the people you are leading. And the only effective way to gain cooperation is by enhancing relationships. So in their concept, it’s a bit of a pyramid structure. God CrossFitters love our pyramids, right. But at the basis of all leadership is interacting with people, human relations and how you deal with conflict, how you deal with new people, supporting them, how you deal with teams, how you deal with unproductive people, how you deal with combative people, everything to do with developing relationships, influences your ability to gain willing cooperation from the people you are leading. And that again, if you can gain cooperation, it makes you an effective leader, and this is irrelevant, if you’re in the gym industry, it is irrelevant. If you are my husband’s a firefighter, I talk about the same thing him and as a captain in the Toronto fire department, if he does not have relationships with his colleagues, they will not follow him. And when it comes time for an emergency situation, if they do not have cooperation as a team, people are at risk, people die. It’s irrelevant of what industry you’re in. It could be sales =, could be a gym, could be new people that walk into your gym. Your first and foremost thing is develop a relationship with your new members, getting their cooperation to follow what you are prescribing for them to work out, to eat well, to sleep, mental health. And you’ve created success.

Mike (23:22):

So in history there’ve been a lot of leaders who have been, maybe not based on relationships, they’ve been based on fear or intimidation or you know, violence, even in some cases. But you know, in the business world, there are certainly leaders who are, it’s not violence and authoritarianism, but it’s a form of authoritarianism where you have leaders who are very, you know, assertive almost to a point of being they’re super aggressive. They’re like my way or the highway, they’re almost dominant. Is there a place for that style of leadership or where does that fit into things? Because those people are out there and like, nobody likes working for them, but some of them are deadly effective.

Andrea (23:59):

In my opionion, there’s a place for it. Cause I observe them and I say, I’ll never be like that.

Mike (24:03):

There’s easier ways to get things done.

Andrea (24:06):

My response to that, Mike, is I look at those types of people and say, how long did they last? How long do they last versus effective leaders and there’s cases, of course, there’s, you know, there’s cases where you can say sure, they lasted for a long time, but I’m not inspired, obviously. They’re not inspiring to people. So they don’t attract people. They don’t attract the right people, but you can see what happens to those that are under their tutelage for many years. Think of people that have worked for a real poor boss or a real difficult person for years, their mental health has suffered, their physical health has suffered, their relationships at home have suffered with their spouse, with their kids because they can’t, you know, compartmentalize the work environment under a real crappy boss.

Mike (24:53):

Yeah. And that, you know, the term that comes to mind, I believe it was Jim Collins who wrote about this. And I’m not quite sure if I remember correctly, but it was the concept of the brilliant jerk where it’s like, there are these people that often come into into companies that are brought in, because they’re just, they’re amazing at something like whatever that is like math or whatever their skill is. But then they turn out to be just jerks and they ultimately ruin the culture and everyone kind of accepts them because they’re like, Oh, they’re really good at that. So like, we’ll just, you know, this, and I think Gordon Ramsey, the chef was using as example where he’s just like, you know, just vicious with people. Right. But he also has something that people want. But in great companies, and I believe this was in the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, they talk about how that, it doesn’t really work because it’s this thing that’s great, but it’s also corrupt in some way. And it spreads, and like you said, it creates all these problems with misery and, you know, mental health issues, no one likes working, you got staff turnover. And ultimately the solution is to get rid of that brilliant jerk and hire someone who’s brilliant and nice.

Andrea (25:53):

Right? Absolutely. I think of the difference, you know, a dictator type of leader, they can gain compliance. They’re not gaining cooperation.

Mike (26:04):

Ah, that is insightful.

Andrea (26:06):

Very, very big difference. And if you have somebody that’s cooperating, they’re going to give you their best. If you have someone that’s compliant, they’re just going to meet the bare minimum.

Mike (26:15):

So I got a little off topic there because you brought up such an important point. But so if we talk about developing cooperation relationships, so we said observe some great leaders, take some courses, we’ll talk to you about some specific people after this, but for you, how do you work on that? Like how do you start building relationships and getting cooperation? Like what are, because those are like soft interpersonal skills in a lot of ways that are like, it’s not necessarily like a step by step, do this kind of thing. Or maybe it is, how do you do that?

Andrea (26:44):

The core of it, it’s caring about people. It really is a genuine care, the kind of care that you’re like, Oh, I thought of you today. Let me just pull out a little blank thank you note or a little note and send you something to let you know, I care about you. It’s going that over and above to acknowledge to people that they matter and developing deep relationships with people. Yet at the same time, I do have to say the relationships have to have boundaries because there’s a time where you can care too much and be taken advantage of. I think a big piece of leadership is also learning the difference between urgent and important. You know, being able to prioritize, Chris is phenomenal at that. Especially with a team of people he has surrounded himself with, a big, big benefit of leadership is surrounding yourself with the right team. But I’m a big advocate of investing in others and growing the next generation of leaders.

Mike (27:36):

So if I summarize that one, it would be to build relationships with boundaries. And that doesn’t, I don’t mean that in a negative way. And I know you didn’t either, but the idea is like you’re a leader. That means that there is sort of a hierarchy going on, especially in a business. Like we can’t all be in charge of the business and we can’t all make decisions, right. There has to be, you know, one or maybe two, if it’s a partnership or something like that. But again, there has to be a leadership structure. And I know gym owners have certainly gotten into the situation where, you know, you hire friends and your friends are your coaches, and then your friends don’t follow the procedures and you can’t fire them and you don’t know what to do.

Mike (28:11):

So there, you have to build these—that’s the one where you’ve got the relationship, but you have no boundaries. Right? So if you know, step two here might be form close relationships with people, but also make sure that you do have boundaries and structure. So that it’s clear, you know, I’m in charge here, but I do care about your opinion. I do, you know, maybe not how we spend the entire budget, but I do care about what, you know, if you want new wall balls or something like that. And if you do build those relationships, it’s not a short term thing. Like you talked about doing things and it’s like, it can be small gestures like that. I know that you have often, you’re the secret gardener, is that right?

Andrea (28:48):

Yes. The garden bombing.

Mike (28:49):

Tell people about that. I love it. That’s a relationship builder.

Andrea (28:53):

You know what, that’s my favorite little hobby. When people go away, you know, they go away for a weekend or go on vacation or something. I sneak into their house and I do a garden makeover for them. And they come home and it’s done. I love it. And it just makes me happy. It brings me joy because I love seeing them feel proud of their place.

Mike (29:11):

Well, I’m sure that probably builds that relationship. Right. And like anything, you know, I’ll give you an example of a relationship that was built, it was super cool. And this is something that Chris has done too. But, John Briggs, the accountant, he wrote Profit First for Microgyms. And I helped him out with a few things there through Chris. And John sent me a bunch of stuff, but one of the coolest thing was a blanket and a pillow with my dog’s face on it. He actually took the time to go take a look at what I do and who I am and send me something that means something to me, I thought that’s the coolest thanks I could have had. Right. And so that to me is like a leadership thing where you’re finding out things about people and making those connections. If you’re trying to improve your leadership skills, how do you look for opportunities like that? Like maybe it’s not intuitive. Like some people are just like born givers and helpers and things like that. Other people are like, you know, you talked about being an introvert. I’m the same way where sometimes I don’t want to like go out and put myself out there. How do people get past those things and find those opportunities to build relationships, whether it’s with a staff member or even anyone in the community.

Andrea (30:14):

Great question. My answer to that is to always look for opportunities to give honest and sincere appreciation for people. Somebody that’s gone out of their way or did a little bit extra effort on something, just acknowledging it because we know how good that makes us feel when somebody acknowledges that. So like you said, for John to have given you a small little gift that was so important to you; it was sincere. It was appreciative by you, but it shows how much you meant to him for your effort and your time.

Mike (30:43):

So it’s essentially, it’s just trying to be, I think this goes back to what you said earlier. Try to be observant and find and find ways to connect with people. I suppose if you look at it that could become almost like an overly robotic process where if you’re really trying too hard, you know, you’re forcing connections. This has to be kind of a natural thing where you’re just learning to interact with people. Like in the Dale Carnegie stuff, have you kind of learned how to pick up on cues and just how to build relationships and extend influence in like subtle and effective ways?

Andrea (31:15):

Absolutely. Oh yeah. Becoming genuinely interested in other people, there’s a difference between, you know, you and I can have a conversation and I’m like, Oh, that’s nice, good job on that. I can be genuinely interested and ask questions and be present in, you know, in mind I can listen, letting other people do talking and just truly make somebody else feel important and feel valued. There’s so many of those, you know, basis to relationships. Whether it’s somebody that maybe you’re not super fond of, finding ways, but finding good in something that they are interested in, find some way to connect with people. Whether it’s your best friend or some guy who kind of annoys you, there’s something involved in that person that you can get them to relax, to simplify and be open to listening to your ideas, even if your ideas are very different from theirs.

Mike (32:13):

That brings up something I heard once, I don’t recall who said it, but it was the idea of having a conversation. And instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, actually actively listening to what the person is saying. And it’s fascinating because if you catch yourself sometimes, and I have done this in conversations where you’re sitting there like, Oh, I thought of something really clever to say, and you’re like kind of waiting, waiting, waiting, and then you’re not actually listening to the conversation anymore. And it’s really interesting when you get a really good listener or someone who’s really good at interacting how a conversation is so different because if you really observe you can see people waiting for that opportunity to jump in, you know, and it’s fascinating.

Andrea (32:50):

And people typically want to jump in because they want to talk about themselves, right? Flip that conversation and get the other person to talk. People love talking about themselves. We get them to start opening up and pull some tidbits of information that you might be able to store in your brain for the next time you can appreciate them, or you may need something from them or the ways that you can find that you can help them.

Mike (33:12):

So another we’ll talk actionable stuff as well. Are the courses, we’ve talked about Dale Carnegie. We’ve talked about some of the other things, but are there other courses and books that people might want to just take note of? Is there anything in your library or stuff that you’ve experienced that you think maybe people would, especially gym owners, might want to write down right now and look at?

Andrea (33:31):

I’ve always followed Jim Rome, love his teachings. I really, really enjoy John Maxwell’s 21 Laws of Leadership, a big advocate of him, you know, audiobooks and a lot of that stuff, you know, what I find is spend a little bit of time learning often. Doesn’t require, you know, hours a day, but find something that you can find an aha moment for you. Cause we’re all at different stages of our leadership skills. Some are just beginning, some have been doing this for years. We can always learn more. But I find when something you come across gives you an aha moment, I take those things. I’ve put them as little sticky notes on my monitor. I write them down and I remember them and refer to them often until they’re ingrained in part of my new repertoire.

Mike (34:22):

You guys can’t see this, but Andrea just literally picked up a sticky note and showed it to me off her monitor though. So I couldn’t read what inspirational stuff it had on it, but I’m sure it was it shady. So we’ll share that in the next episode

Andrea (34:32):

It says, even if you think you’ve won an argument, you may have broken the relationship.

Mike (34:36):

Where does that come from?

Andrea (34:36):

I don’t even remember. But those types of things, so I’m constantly spending time remembering these little tidbits of information that will add to my skill set.

Mike (34:53):

You said the Dale Carnegie course was great. So let’s talk a little bit about characteristics of ideal leaders in the gym environment. So again, this is business and there are going to be some shared things, but the fitness business is kind of interesting where you have these close personal relationships with people, you have to be a motivator, you have to be a psychologist in some cases, it’s not the same as potentially, you know, say owning a convenience store where the relationships are very much transactional and very short and brief. And it’s like, I’ve got my Twinkies, I’m out kind of thing. This is like you are dealing with people’s hopes, dreams, goals, self-esteem, wishes, beliefs about themselves. You know, I don’t know how many people have cried in your gym, but there’ve been a lot in my gym, right? Tears of joy and sadness, right?

Mike (35:38):

These are like very close personal relationships. So let’s talk about like the leadership elements in that environment. I’ll give you one right off the top just to, you know, start it off and then we’ll talk about some more. So one that I’ll give you is, and you tell me if you agree or not, consistency, meaning I think it’s important in a gym environment to be a consistent presence and very level. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t be like a little bit more restrained or a little bit more enthusiastic, but in general, I think people gravitate towards leaders in the gym environment who are always consistent, nothing really fazes them a lot. Nothing gets them, you know, obviously excited, but like they’re not erratic moving up and down in kind of that, you know, see-saw kind of way, a consistent leader. I think the ones that I gravitate towards are those people that nothing really fazes. What do you think of that one?

Andrea (36:27):

Oh, I love that. I mean, and from a staff point of view, you have your coaches, absolutely. People with relationships, they get to know your personality and think of gym owners, sorry, or even coaches over the years. Just like a family member, they know when you’re not on, they know when you’re not yourself. So if you are providing, if you are committed to a consistent level of service, you’re committed to, you know, a consistency in how you treat people. Everybody should be treated equally and fairly constantly. Consistency, in my opinion, as far as continuing education, that is really, really big,

Mike (37:03):

That’s a good one. And that’s probably technical in terms of like actual, like hard skills, like coaching the squat and professional and personal development.

Andrea (37:12):

Right. Absolutely. You can’t have one without the other, but coaches need to be continuously educating themselves. Education and learning energizes people because they feel they have value to offer. As soon as people feel they have nothing of value to offer any more, then they’re not useful. You know, they don’t provide value to the people, whether it’s motivation or, you know, why would I keep paying for somebody if they have nothing else to offer?

Mike (37:44):

What other characteristics, what else, what would you look for if you were going looking for a gym right now and you walked in, what would you want to see from that owner? Is there any other characteristics we can put our fingers on .

Andrea (37:55):

Customer service for one thing, they have to be, they have to care. You can genuinely feel if people genuinely care about the success of people, or if they’re just another number.

Andrea (38:08):

Yeah. Professionalism as well. You know, safety first, they have to be professional in how they treat people. I often watch people how they treat their staff. You know, to me, the level of effort they put in their marketing materials, their website, their branding, what level of care did they have? I feel that establishes their leadership in their marketplace.

Mike (38:36):

If we break that down a little further, that would be caring in the sense of like being a kind, caring, engaging person who is realistically, genuinely engaged in a client and wants that client to succeed. So there’s that, but then there’s also the element of, I have a clean bathroom because that’s just how much I care about this place.

Andrea (38:56):

Yeah. I agree. The other thing I’d add about caring is how you talk about people when they’re not there.

Mike (39:03):

This is a good one.

Andrea (39:03):

Yeah. You know, a piece of human relations about you shouldn’t be criticizing, condemning, or complaining to other people about people. Because if you do that in front of others, they’ll then wonder when I’m not here, do you do that to me, whether it’s to your staff about your staff, whether it’s about other members, you know, if you have a stash of new people and you’re talking about other members that can’t do this, or can’t do that, of course your new people are going to be like, well, that’s me. I fall into that category. Do you talk about me when I’m not there? What you say about people when they’re not around is very, very important.

Mike (39:39):

So there’s an element of character there. I think where it’s like, as a leader, you obviously have beliefs and you have standards and so forth. And I think not speaking ill of others when they aren’t there or speaking only to people’s faces even goes so far as to say, standing up for people who aren’t there maybe. I’ve been in groups and I’m sure you have too, where someone’s like, Oh, so-and-so is such a jerk. And I don’t like that person. And it kind of gets into one of those, you know, sessions of cutting people apart, standing up, and maybe saying guys, like, you know, cause we’ve all sat there and it’s easier to join in, right. It’s easier to join and say, Oh, that person does suck, man. I can’t stand him or her. It’s tougher to stand up and maybe bring that down. So that’s what I mean, what I’ll say there is character. I think the one word I’ll use to find that is leaders have to have character and that character probably needs to be grounded in some, you know, firmly defined system of beliefs that allow them to operate.

Andrea (40:31):

I agree. And you know, we talked about that right at the top of the hour, when we said, in my opinion of leadership, a leader is somebody that’s willing to step away from the crowd and create space for change.

Mike (40:40):

It’s hard to do that. It’s really hard to do that. But one of my favorite lines that relates to that is from George Orwell’s 1984. And it’s “sanity is not statistical.” Meaning if 10 million people do one thing that doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t mean that’s the smart thing to do. And man, it’s hard in the COVID crisis right now where there’s a lot of people that just went with the crowd are in some tough times. And a lot of people that made some like really hard choices and changed some things and had to re you know, reshuffle their entire business models and create new products and services overnight. And a lot of the Two-Brain family did that very quickly. That was hard to do, but there is a leadership element of that. And all of a sudden, you see these gyms doing it, other gyms are asking them, how did you do that? What did you do? And that’s exactly right. The willingness to change and step out from the crowd is hard, but that is a true leadership. We’ll call that an element of, you know, daring risks, maybe self-confidence, I don’t know. What do you think of that?

Andrea (41:41):

Having courage. But that’s where the magic happens. When you step out of your comfort zone, we all know that that’s where everything, that’s where the good happens.

Mike (41:47):

Amazon didn’t exist before, and then someone made it happen. Same thing with Netflix, right? The courage to say, VCR tapes suck.

Andrea (41:54):

You got it.

Mike (41:55):

I don’t want to rewind this thing. How about passion? Do you think that’s important?

Andrea (42:01):

I believe, yeah. And I think, passion has to be genuine. I feel people, maybe it is like us that are, we’re very passionate people. You are, I am as well, but that’s where my introvert side comes in because I don’t think passion can exist all the time. I think it takes a lot of energy and I don’t think it’s effort, but it can—it’s there in, I don’t want say spurts; it’s there, but it also has to have a regeneration to it.

Mike (42:32):

I think that almost relates back to the consistency that we talked about at the beginning because the same thing, like it’s not enough. Like I’ve seen people like, OK, I am passionate about powerlifting for three months. That to me is like, that’s more of kind of a whimsical, you know, flight of fancy than it is a passion. And for me, that passion is less like that big, giant flame than it is that, you know, steady burning fire that kind of warms the campsite for the entire night kind of thing.

Andrea (42:58):

Exactly. And that’s why I was saying it has to be a genuine piece because we can all have moments of super hot fired passion. And then it recedes.

Mike (43:09):

There’s probably a marriage analogy in there probably somewhere too, I think. Right,

Andrea (43:15):

Right. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that they fall out of love with whatever they were passionate about. It just means that the ebbs and flows of the energy is changing.

Mike (43:24):

But the fire never goes out and so forth. Humble. Do you think that’s important?

Andrea (43:30):

That is an absolute hands-down requirement for our facility.

Mike (43:32):

Cause some leaders, some leaders very much aren’t.

Andrea (43:36):

Yeah. And they’re the ones that I don’t follow. Cause I can’t stand being around them. Yeah. We call it a humble confidence. You have to have confidence as a coach to stand in front of the class, but you can’t stand up there and tell how awesome you are. People, they don’t like that. This is such a turnoff. If someone that is cocky and overconfident.

Mike (43:58):

I dealt with, we’re doing some home renovations and I dealt with a number of contractors over the last little bit. And some of them were like assertive and confident and gave me a real feeling of like, you know, that is fixed the way it should be fixed. And that is a good job. And then I had the other experience where there was another contractor and she was very like overconfident to the point of like no one has ever done a better job than that. This is literally the best thing that’s ever happened in the history of home renovations. And it was just like this, like it reeked of arrogance. And it didn’t give me the same feeling. Right. Like I felt like this was like a snow job, right? Like someone was just trying to put one over and blow past whatever, like obscure what had actually happened. Whereas there was another guy and he, like I said, he’s, I just said, does this need, he’s like, this is done really well. That’s what I needed to like, write that off and not worry about it anymore. Do you have that humble confidence? Is that built into your life? Is that language actually in your staffing documents and the language you use around your facility? How is that communicated.

Andrea (45:02):

I think it is. I think we talk about it often as our staff, like it’s a requirement on staff to be humble. It is my contract of their code of conduct. We have a code of conduct that all staff sign as part of their service agreements. And then part of our team values it’s in there that you must be a humble person. You can be super confident in your ability, but when you interact with people, that’s the caring piece. It’s more about them and not about you.

Mike (45:28):

So guys, this is an example of, you know, taking your vision as an owner and actually baking it into every aspect of your business. And if you want to see more about that check the previous episode’s Two-Brain Radio, Kaleda Connell was here and she talked about making your vision a reality. It’s an unbelievable show about taking this like grand vision that guides everything you do, and then pushing it into every single element of your business so that your staff clients feel so, you know, Andrea just talked about that and there’s a good overlap there. But if that is something that you’re struggling with, spend the hour with Kaleda Connell and me and that’s in our archives and you’ll learn a ton of stuff. I sure did. I wish I had heard that show 10 years ago. I think, as we’re wrapping up here, let’s give people one thing to do.

Mike (46:08):

So this is the one big takeaway they’re going to step off this show hit stop and they want to be better leaders. Can we give them one thing? And again, putting you on the spot here, what would you tell someone who if I said to you, if I was a mentorship client, should I be so lucky to talk to you, I say like, I am struggling with leadership right now at my gym. I’m just, I don’t know that people want to follow me. I don’t know how to assert myself. What would you tell me to do right now to get better?

Andrea (46:35):

I’d say, start with building stronger relationships with the people around you.

Mike (46:39):

Would you, sorry, would you recommend like a few that I look at, like, you know, pick five and hit those people? Or would you just in general start expanding my net or what would you do?

Andrea (46:49):

Start with your immediate team. So in our case at our gym, yes, I’m the owner, but I also have a management team of my core staff that are around me because I need to invest in those people. So they can be my army that goes out and takes care of the rest of my community in the methodology that I want taken. In the humbled confidence that we just talked about. So I invest in the relationships with the people closest to me, so they can become better leaders and take care of the rest of my flock.

Mike (47:20):

And to do that would you go plant a secret garden or what would be the step that you would take? And you can think of like one specific person, but if you want to strengthen a relationship with one of your, like let’s say, it’s your number two, whoever that person is in your business, male, female, whatever, that person, if you want to strengthen that relationship right after this podcast ended, what’s the step that you would do?

Andrea (47:43):

Find something that they’ve worked on recently that they’ve put a lot of effort in and acknowledge that and give them a special little appreciation reward. Could be just some positive words, could be just, I just bought my staff new pairs of shoes because they all worked their tails off during the COVID shutdown and acknowledgement that this was really hard for you guys. And I gave it to them over a poolside, little barbecue. We just held for them all as a way to build the team back up.

Mike (48:12):

I like it. I think that’s a super cool thing. And it could be, you know, as awesome as a pair of shoes or it could be even a small thing. If, you know, if the budget doesn’t have that, you could probably find just about anything. So the advice, I guess, is find something that’s important to the people closest around. You find a way to tell those people that you appreciate what they did, what they’re doing, you know, through a gift or even through the gift of like your time and words and high five, probably.

Andrea (48:42):

You got it. Just a small little, it could be, it doesn’t have to cost money. Words are so powerful, a small little take your time, get them a little, thank you card. Say, I really appreciate what you’ve done lately. We’ll pump their tires so much and that they were acknowledged that you saw what they’ve done, that you value them.

Mike (49:03):

So there it is. If you want right now totake a step right after you hit stop on this podcast, think of two or three people on your team who are closest to you. And if nothing else send them a text and just say, thank you for something that person did to make your life, your business better. And you can certainly take that further. If you want to call that person, that’s even better. Say it in person. Awesome. Send a gift even better, but do something to strengthen that relationship. Andrea, this has been great. You’ve you certainly give us a ton of cool stuff to think about. And, I thought it was really cool to talk with you about this because you’ve been in a leadership position for so long. So thank you for spending the time with us.

Andrea (49:44):

Thank you so much for having me here. Really appreciate the opportunity.

Mike (49:47):

In another 10 years when you’ve been a gym owner for two decades, we’ll get you back on and tell us what you’ve learned about leadership then. Will you join us?

Andrea (49:55):

I sure will.

Mike (49:55):

All right, thanks, Andrea. Thank you for tuning into Two-Brain Radio. I’m Mike Warkentin with Andrea Savar. Our leader, Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper, is all about action. For free daily directives that will help you improve your business head to Check out the blog. Chris turned a failing gym into a thriving business then built a worldwide mentorship company to help others do the same thing. And he shares his secrets for free. That’s the blog at Thanks for tuning in to Two-Brain Radio. Please subscribe for more episodes wherever you get your podcasts.


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