It’s no secret that I worked on the CrossFit HQ Media team for years. I’m still an irregular contributor to the Journal on business-related ideas.
My relationship with the Journal, the Hope team and Greg Glassman himself is too long for one letter, but here are the highlights, and how the conversation benefits you:
In 2013, after serving as Regional Media Director (and helping with the CrossFit Community Page), Greg called my gym to ask if I’d meet him in Seattle. Of course, I flew out. After a long night at the Four Seasons, I met some of his friends for coffee at the original Starbucks. Sevan Metossian, Jimi Letchford, and Andy Stumpf were there for coffee, and they asked what kind of business advice I’d been giving gyms.
Many readers will know that I was mentoring gyms for a website company at the time. The HQ staff asked what I was telling other gym owners–they were nervous, and rightly so. Other “consultants” had steered the community wrong before, in my opinion. I shared my views on mentors vs. consultants. They supported me (as they always do), but made it clear they couldn’t overtly endorse anyone as a CrossFit business expert. Late for my flight, I walked back to the hotel; made a handshake deal with Greg in the parking lot (my only ‘ask’ was for the firstname.lastname@example.org email address, which I still have) and flew home.
The next big conversation about business came at the 2014 Games. I flew out to Carson hoping to meet with Jeff Glassman about my CrossFit Brain project. That, too, was supported by HQ (I was sent to chess matches and memory contests; and wrote several articles that were unpublished as the “big soda” campaign began to take shape.) But the trip was worthwhile because the conversation turned back to business–my true passion.
During a long night in the bar at the Hilton with Sevan and my new friend Jeff Cain, the conversation about libertarianism and the affiliate model shifted a bit. I extolled the opportunity created by CrossFit–15,000 new entrepreneurs–but suggested that guidance was more powerful than a blank slate. Best practices, supported by data, could be delivered in a flexible way that didn’t approach a “franchisee” model. They listened, and an amazing thing happened: affiliate owners approached the table, one after another, to thank me for the help. I didn’t plan it, of course. But the social proof was powerful. And we were all encouraged to keep talking.
I spent the next few years building my toolbox as a mentor. When I left the software company to found Two-Brain Business, it was because I saw my responsibility as a gym owner, publisher and mentor as something far beyond selling websites and online courses. As soon as I applied to be an official CEU provider for CrossFit, Inc., Sevan (and Tyson Oldroyd) jumped in to support me again: they sent a producer to my first seminar in Charlotte. Highlights were published in the Journal in a 13-part series.
As case studies of gym turnarounds and affiliate success stories started to pile up, and I started to collect before/after data, the conversation became more and more frequent. I had great discussions at the Games this year, and followed up with calls with more HQ staff afterward. Finally, I was invited to Scotts Valley to record an episode for the new CrossFit podcast. And I’m on a plane now.
I’m going to HQ to talk about my own failures and successes, but also to continue the conversation about the business of being an affiliate. The CrossFit Movement is saving lives and changing the face of health, and affiliates are the conduits. We need support, including objectively-collected data on best practices. Currently, the collective knowledge of gym owners revolves around trickle-down myths and guesses, trials and errors. It’s NOT necessary for you–or me–to repeat every single error made by every other affiliate on the road to success. That’s the reason mentorship is so successful; why TwoBrain has rapidly become the largest mentoring practice for gyms in the world; and why I’m writing this from a plane headed to California.
But the reason I’ve been invited to talk about this is because HQ has always been open to the conversation; they’ve always been supportive of my ideas and vision. HQ isn’t a server farm occupied by robots; it’s a group of great people changing the world, and cautiously aware of their influence. They’re humble, but they know their support carries mountains of weight. I’m honored by their trust, and accepting of the multi-year road to reach this point.
Stay tuned. I’m here to represent you. And as I’ve done since my first blog post in 2009, I’ll tell you all about it.