The Next Level for Gym Owners: Two-Brain’s Tinker Program

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Mike (00:02):

Your gym is stable and profitable, but you’re an entrepreneur and you’re always looking for the next challenge. So what do you do? How do you do it and how do you acquire the skills you need to succeed at the next level? Today on Two-Brain Radio, Chris Cooper talks to Jeff Smith about the Tinker program for advanced entrepreneurs.

Chris (00:19):

Hey, everybody, it’s Coop here. And today I get to chat with Jeff Smith and Jeff runs the Tinker program for us at Two-Brain. Welcome Jeff.

Jeff (00:27):                                                                   

How you doing? Thanks for having me, Coop.

Chris (00:29):

The last podcast that Jeff and I did was about buying buildings and it was cool because we had to record it separately. And I was talking about commercial and Jeff was talking about residential because that’s just our personal preference. But there was a lot of overlap in that podcast. And a lot of people really loved it. Today, we’re gonna talk about the Tinker phase of gym ownership and the changes that an entrepreneur goes through as they kind of like, you know, go from this caterpillar into a beautiful Tinker butter fly or whatever, as they emerge from their chrysalis into Jeff Smith’s world. And like the mental changes that you have to go through, how you have to level up as a leader and other stuff too. So Jeff, why don’t we kick off with, like, when people come into the Tinker program, how do you see them leveling up as an entrepreneur?

Jeff (01:20):

Well, I think initially when they come in there’s a lot of overwhelm because it’s just another level. And so now they’ve leveled up where they’re used to dealing with their normal problems and day to day stuff that they understand. They’ve now kind of moved into a next phase where we’re inundating them with so much information again, that is not necessarily gym related, it’s new stuff. And there’s all these investment vehicles and all these different discussions going on and they just dive into it and they want to absorb it. But the initial thing is usually that little person on your shoulder creeps in and says, what are you doing here? Like, why are you here? You don’t belong in here. And then we deal with like this cycle of imposter syndrome that is inevitable for everybody.

Jeff (02:25):

And so I think when they come in, there’s just like this shell-shocked kind of version of them until they get comfortable. So we try to make them very comfortable, bring them in the group, cuz it is a super welcoming group, but it is also, it can be super overwhelming. Like people are talking accounting and taxes and money and insurance policies and all this that like most people try to avoid to this level. Right. And then you really wanna understand that it, there’s no rush in things like, and that’s the one thing that I try to impress on people when they come into the program is like, man, run your own race. Like you don’t have to be going out there and like, oh, I saw so and so’s buying Airbnb. So I guess I better go do that.

Jeff (03:13):

I saw so and so’s doing a hundred grand a year in their life insurance policy. So I better do that. The real thing we try to impress on them is that like just slow down, get some space from where you’ve been at. Or what issues do we need to separate you from in your business, in your primary business? Cause a lot of people are working on their primary business. I mean, I just had a call a minute ago about like the Tinker phase. And that was a specific question. Like am I working in my business too much to be considered a Tinker. And I think that that’s the wrong way to look at things like you should be asking yourself how you’re spending your time and are you spending your time effectively and efficiently. And then are you doing what you wanna be doing? And then is that actually the truth? Cuz the example I used for the gentleman that was on the phone is like, you may go out and take on six new high ticket clients cuz you wanna make 20 grand for the gym this month, but really is that what you wanna be doing?

Jeff (04:32):

Cause the farmer phase is really about like putting your systems and structure in place and then pouring on the gasoline and making money. Like the Tinker phase is like detaching yourself a little bit so you can get a hundred mile view of what you’ve been doing. And then like, are you doing things the way you wanna be doing them? And sometimes the guys come back and they’re like, well, not exactly, but we need to by tweak ve degrees and then I wanna go to a million bucks a year. OK, cool. Like stay in your gym or I want to go and I want to open five more locations, that’s a different thing to do. Other people just get more effective and efficient with their businesses and they spend less time in there cuz they wanna spend more time with their family, but they wanna make the same amount of money and that might be your ultimate goal.

Jeff (05:31):

So it really just doesn’t matter. I think you and I, the reason that this podcast is happening, cuz we were chatting last week and I mentioned that most people come out of the farmer phase with like a level of PTSD for business cuz they’ve just been getting beaten with lessons and that’s how we all learn. Right. And part of being able to take a different view and a different perspective and hear other people’s problems and what they’re working on and aspirations, it really is just eyeopening to where you can be going truly with just a few different levels of thought. And then also who you surround yourself with or you’re connected to, sorry.

Chris (06:23):

Yeah man. That’s great. And the PTSD really was the trigger. And when you said that to me last week I laughed out loud. Then I said, oh my goodness, we gotta record this. So, I wanna start with that imposter syndrome that you mentioned first, this is what stops a lot of people from joining a mastermind. I know you and I have certainly felt that in different masterminds that we’ve been in. So Jeff, what is the value of imposter syndrome and how do you overcome it?

Jeff (06:49):

Man, the value of it, I oftentimes use it as a reason to dig deeper on like what exactly the stories I’m telling myself are. But it also can be just an indicator that you’re actually doing, you’re in the right room because you’re taking steps to do things that scare you to continue to make progress. Cause I believe that you’re either moving forward or you’re moving backwards in life or business, both. And a lot of times we just get paralyzed by not doing anything because we don’t know how to make a decision. There’s no catastrophic decision you can make. Truly. I mean, you’re not gonna go to zero tomorrow for any reason. There’s no fatal decisions. It’s just about continuing to make decisions. The imposter syndrome that you experience in this program or any other mastermind that we’ve been a part of, like they’re all the same.

Jeff (07:53):

You have to recognize that everybody’s human and that everybody has a journey that they’re on of their own. Like, I mean I met some crazy successful people that all have their own problems and like they may be different than yours and your skillset may be far ahead of them in certain areas. And that’s kind of what you don’t realize. You have to kind of take yourself back and be like these aren’t celebrities, these are just people that, they’ve done the same thing that you’re doing. And they’re either, it’s different timing or they’ve been on it longer or like there’s just different levels. Like that’s the one thing that I got down rabbit hole with really digging into the Tinker program over the past few years and thinking about like where we’re at, what level we’re on from a wealth perspective, from an entrepreneurial perspective.

Jeff (08:54):

And like everybody in the program is, with the exception of one person, has been in business less than 15 years. And I am also a huge believer that the magic doesn’t even start to happen until two decades in. And so like when you talk about impost syndrome, like you just need to slow down and put it into perspective. Like you’ve been in business five years, man. Like you expect to be a nine figure business and like having all these multiples and IPOing like, that’s not happening yet for you, but that’s not to say that by year 30 in business, you couldn’t just dominate that and achieve everything you’re looking to do. Like I’ve had a lot of conversations with the people in the group that are coming in and they’re in their late twenties, early thirties. And I’m like, man, you are so far ahead of me that you’re gonna be, you’re gonna have such a foundation and a wealth platform built by the time you’re 40 years old that like anything and everything that you want to achieve with your family, you’ll be able to have it by 50 and it’s true, but you have to take skills and perspective and pour time on top of them because it’s not a fast situation.

Jeff (10:17):

So there’s nobody in that group that will hit year 25 in business and not have really everything they want possible in life.

Chris (10:27):

OK, man, that’s awesome. For me, joining any new mastermind I’ve learned, like I should try to find my niche. So what I’ll do is if I’m showing up and I know everybody’s earning way more money than I am, or they have a bigger business, I’ll say, does anybody wanna work out at 6:00 AM tomorrow before we start? Right. Because that’s something that I know that maybe, you know, other people don’t, or I’ll say, Hey, is anybody here writing a book? I’m just finishing one or whatever, and like find a little niche and if you can get to know two or three people around the table with you, then that often helps you feel like you fit in.

Jeff (11:03):


Chris (11:03):

The next thing I wanna ask you about was the joke that you made about PTSD in farmer phase and how you’re just getting smashed with so many lessons. And I think I had that for 10 years, right? Like what are some of these examples, Jeff, that like the big lessons that we have to learn in farmer that are just beating the crap outta people.

Jeff (11:21):

Well, I think most of it is mental cuz I spent some time thinking about it after we talked. And I think that when you’re living in that farmer phase, oftentimes you are living with a scarcity mindset, scarcity in every aspect of life because you’re just freshly used to being broke or almost not making rent or having these issues. It’s usually money driven. And that’s what causes us to kind of shy away from our abundance mindset and our like possibility mindset of like, what truly could we do with this business? Cause I mean, we all go in with these thoughts of grandeur and then we get smacked down a little bit and taught a lot of lessons. And then what happens is you have your profit first account and you’re sweeping like 50% of gross revenue into long term savings.

Jeff (12:19):

And like we’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Like we have these conversations with people and they’re like, we’ve got $500,000 in our savings account. And we take home $1,500 a month and you’re like, what? That seems backwards. What are you doing? And they’re like, well COVID might hit again and or something like that. Right. And that can be taught in a variety of ways though, because the things that happen over time caused that scarcity mindset, your number one trainer leaves you, your GM steals from you. Like any variety of things. It doesn’t have to be money related. Like it can be emotional. You have a gang of 20 clients that gang up on you and think you’re a bad person and on you on the internet and leave you at the same time, like stuff like that happens. And it creates, first of all, it creates like armor for us, which is good because you’re gonna need that going forward. Cause you’re dealing with bigger and bigger problems over time if you’re growing. And, but what it can cause is it can cause a level of stagnation as well. Like once you reach a certain level of success.

Chris (13:35):

So you’re saying like once you reach that level, are you scared to go for the next level because you just don’t want more beatings?

Jeff (13:42):

Well, what I see most is that people’s growth muscles kind of atrophy because they’ve been broke. They’re now making money. And now like they go from $2,500 a month to taking home like $7,500 a month or $8,000 a month. And now life is really comfortable for them. And so they can sit there in that phase for years, if nothing pokes them. And what I say in the Tinker program, oftentimes I tell stories about it is that you’re, everyone that’s ready for that phase. And if you’re listening to this and you’re in the growth phase and you’re doing well, you should probably ask yourself, am I a big fish in a small pond? Because every one of us is until you level up and then in that room and you’re like, all right, I got a lot of work to do.

Jeff (14:40):

I’m on level one again, but that is the push that most people need to start thinking bigger and going bigger and doing different things in their lives, in all aspects. Right. So I just think that often time, and some of that is perfectly justifiable as well because of the fatigue factor. Like I see people get in there and they get profitable and they do need to rest. Like maybe I just need to see if this thing will run for a couple months, like a year and just pay me like this. Because when you think about that scarcity, like they think what if I step away and go shift focus to this Tinker program. And then my $8,000 goes back to $2,000. Like I won’t be able to pay my house payment, blah blah. And that’s another misconception of the program I think is like, you’re gonna focus on what you should be focusing on whatever aspect of life that is.

Jeff (15:39):

You’re going to be held accountable for focusing on that. The thing about it is you’ve got all these tools to fix it faster than you did before. And you’ve got a group of people around you that are operating at a very high level that are very resilient. So when that next setback happens, it doesn’t drop you down. We’re pulling the floor up. If you think about it like an elevator, you’re on floor 10 and you fall all the way back to the floor, OK. We want to teach lessons and skills to bring that floor up to level three. So that as you climb again, you’re only gonna fall down to level three and not down to the basement ever again.

Chris (16:23):

Yeah. Good stuff, man. That’s really insightful. What about time? Like I know a lot of people, when they get to this level, they have a little bit more money than they need. And they also have a little bit more time than they need. And for me, like the biggest signal that I can get that I need to surround myself with higher level people get into a different mastermind is when I have money that I’m wasting on crap or I’m spending, you know, time playing NHL 22 on the Xbox. Like I am wasting time or wasting money. So when somebody comes into like Tinker level, how much time do they need to work on all this other stuff? Is it one hour a day, one day a week? Or what should they do?

Jeff (17:12):

That’s a really good question. I think it just depends. You don’t need very much time. But I mean, we do Q and A’s on Wednesdays, so those are an hour. But besides that, you can kind of jump in and participate as you’d like to. So, I mean, you can do modules, we’ve got Growth ToolKits and modules and everything else that are Tinker level stuff. There’s a lot of interaction in the Facebook group and things like that as well. But it’s not a huge time investment. I would say the number one thing is like the perspective of how you’re spending your time is what we want you analyzing in the Tinker phase. Going back to the conversation about the high level ticket and things like that. You need to be asking yourself harder questions at that phase because like, are you doing what you’re passionate about?

Jeff (18:07):

And why are you doing the things that you’re doing? Like I’m big on questioning, like why I’m operating the way I’m operating and what I do, the schedule I keep, why. It’s like that stuff needs audited all the time. And is it serving you? It’s OK to implement and run it for a quarter and then come back and say, OK, well, I thought, a prime example, cuz I get on this kick all the time is I hate the miracle morning. Like I hate that with a passion and so, but I’ve done it. OK. So I was a believer for a minute. I read the book, I’m like, oh, miracle morning, miracle morning. And like, then I implemented it and then it didn’t serve me. And so when I went back and I audited my time, I’m like, oh yeah, I’m doing yoga and meditating and doing all this for an hour and a half in the morning.

Jeff (19:02):

But was I meeting all the production goals I wanted to, was I was I moving the needle where I needed to during the day. And my answer 10 times outta 10 is no, because the way my life works and operates on the highest level is I get up early as hell four o’clock in the morning, whatever it is. And I do my critical tasks first. My number one projects are done before eight o’clock in the morning, every day. So I don’t waste time doing yoga and all that, cuz I’ve got, cause that allows me at eight o’clock to turn the switch and I can be reactionary then. And I can deal with gym stuff or I can deal with real estate stuff or I can take phone calls or do podcasts or do things like that. Right. But if you’re are not spending time on your project work that’s deliberate and carved out,

Jeff (19:57):

You’re not gonna move forward. And that’s what happens with most of these gym owners that are in the farmer phase. They get to where their cycle and their time is Parkinson’s law and, and it has consumed, their reactionary time has consumed 100% of their workday. And so that gym is stuck. It’s not going to progress. It might, they might dink and dunk and add a few here and add a few there. But like, if you want exponential growth in anything that you’re doing, you really have to spend that quality time on it to innovate and move things forward. You know, this I’ve seen you completely change the way you do things with regards to your time management. And I think it’s really increased the trajectory of where Two-Brain’s going too.

Chris (20:47):

So you’re saying like, you don’t need to have a lot more extra time. You just have to be more, discipline’s the wrong word, right? You just have to be more,

Jeff (20:54):

Deliberate, intentional.

Chris (20:55):

Yeah. Intentional. Yeah. OK. That’s a great point, man. So Jeff, over the last couple years, we’ve seen something really remarkable and that is, I think it’s now 13 people have reached the level of millionaire. They have a million dollars in net worth. That’s like assets minus liabilities. If they cashed in all their chips and paid off their debt, they’d have a million dollars or more. These guys are getting there way faster than you and I ever did, right? Like three years instead of 15 years or whatever. Why is that, like tell people, what are we doing now that’s getting people to this million dollar mark faster.

Jeff (21:33):

I think it’s partially mentorship, because like now they’ve got people out in front of ’em that have made these mistakes, learned these lessons. An it’s also a matter of focus and then opening their eyes to what’s possible, possibilities. Because people come into the group and they’re like a little bit blown away by the level of conversations that are going on and what people are thinking about. And then, you and I talked years ago about taking your cashflow and your excess cash flow from your business and turning it into assets and how powerful that can be. But people don’t really, they take it for granted because it’s the compounding effect of being able to do it and make some moves. We’ve also had a lot of people come into the group not understanding leverage, things like that.

Jeff (22:23):

And so you can go a lot further, a lot faster with leverage and you and I have had a lot of conversations on that topic for sure. But that is the one thing I’m most proud of about the group. I think it’s fantastic to see that kind of stuff, because I know how life changing that can be for them and their family. And a lot of people have kids and things like that. And so it’s very, it’s fun to watch. I love watching people succeed and win and the answer I’ve droned on here. But like, I think it’s just because it’s the banister four minute mile.

Chris (22:59):

Like that’s a big part of it. Right. And also there are a lot of us in the group now who can say like, what not to do, like don’t waste your time on that. Or even here’s how to get focused or even here’s what to do first.

Jeff (23:10):

Yeah. Well, with the size of the group we’ve gone to 60 or whatever now, and like there’s somebody doing nearly everything you wanna be doing. So it’s nice from the standpoint of like, who can I align with like, OK, so and so is at this level. So and so is scaling gyms. So and so is buingy Airbnb. So and so is doing this. So like you can go out there and like really find your niche on who you want to align with, but then like if you gotta return to your gym and ask a question, where do we get the SOP for this? Or what are you guys doing best practices? I mean, we’ve been talking daily about how to pay staff and compensate staff for the long term. And like that has been a constant conversation in the group recently. And so like, that’s not related to assets and like investing and things like that, but there’s resources in the group that are experts at many different areas of business. So that’s been a lot of fun as well.

Chris (24:09):

Yeah. One of the great things about curating a small group like that is you get to talk to only the best and find out what just the best are doing without a lot of extra noise. Like we try to track data every month and publish leaderboards to help people outside Two-Brain even understand like, what are the best gyms in the world doing? But the beautiful part about being in a mastermind like this is, it’s just a Facebook message away, you know, Hey, that guy did an $80,000 event last month. Why don’t I just text him? You know, oh, I know h froimm Tinker or this guy is really doing well on crypto right now. I’m sitting beside him at the mastermind event. I think you just highlighted, like one of the most beautiful parts of this program is everybody’s a gym owner, but everybody’s doing something and somebody’s doing everything.

Jeff (24:57):

And the beautiful thing about this group and what we’ve been able to curate is that like, it really is an open abundant area. And what I mean by that is like, you can literally pick up the phone and ask for, you can post in the Facebook group. Will you give me that verbatim? And they’ll send it to you. Yeah. Anything. So if you’re trying to implement something in your group, like you can go ask the guy who’s doing it seven figures with it. And the guy who’s doing seven figures with it will give it to you. And like, it’s not a competitive environment. Meaning like you getting a piece of the pie is shrinking pie. We’re all just growing one exponential pie. And if we get better, it’s just better for us and for everyone quite frankly. Right. Yeah. And so that’s been fun to watch, sorry.

Chris (25:52):

No, that’s great, man. So is there anything else that you’ve noticed among these entrepreneurs that shifts in their mindset once they reach Tinker phase or maybe after they’ve been Tinker phase for a while?

Jeff (26:02):

I think a lot of people have a lot of aspirations, but when you see people around you taking action on a massive level, like it makes you really question why you’re still sitting on your hands and not going to the bank and getting pre-approved or why you’re not being deliberate about investing more or why you’re not doing X, Y, or Z. Cuz I mean, we’ve seen some tremendous growth and when you get behind the curtain and you get to watch it, you’re like I’m not making enough moves or why have I been questioning this or am I an over consumer of education versus taking action on things?

Chris (26:47):

And I am guilty there. My favorite thing that I’ve realized, and I wouldn’t say that, you know, this is because of us or anything, but in the last round where we qualified seven brand new millionaires, what I noticed immediately was that every single one of them wanted to help everybody else get to that level as fast as possible. So as soon as they found out that they had reached that milestone of a million dollars in net worth, they started giving more advice and tips and here’s what I’ve learned to everybody else. Yeah. That’s really incredible. And that’s my favorite thing about this group this month, but next month I’ll have something different that’s my favorite. Jeff dude, thanks so much for making time for this. This is gonna help really inspire a lot of people. And if you’re at this phase already, by all means, reach out to Jeff or I, and we’ll talk to you about joining the Tinker mastermind program. If you’re in the farmer phase and you’re still getting those daily beatings, you’re trying to fight through the trauma of learning those hard lessons. You know, you can always reach Jeff through Two-Brain and he can tell you how to fast track to get up to Tinker faster.

Jeff (27:53):

Heck yeah. And thanks for having me Coop. The one thing I do wanna say real quick is like, just cuz you’re having problems in your gym or there’s something wrong with your business, like don’t allow that to block your ability to level up, because we’ve all got problems. Every single one of us is dealing with on a different level. And like just cuz these people are in the Tinker phase doesn’t mean that they’re having zero issues. They’re not having to go one step backwards to go two steps forward, everyone deals with that forever and it’s never ending until you just get outta business or die. And so don’t allow that to hold you back. So thanks for having me Coop. I really appreciate it.

Chris (28:37):

Yeah man. All right.

Mike (28:41):

Two-Brain Radio airs twice a week and features all the info you need to run a successful fitness business. Subscribe so you don’t miss a show. Now here’s Coop one more time.

Chris (28:50):

Thanks for listening to Two-Brain Radio. If you aren’t in the Gym Owners United group on Facebook, this is my personal invitation to join. It’s the only public Facebook group that I participate in. And I’m there all the time with tips, tactics, and free resources. I’d love to network with you and help you grow your business. Join Gym Owners United on Facebook.


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