jiu jitsu business

104 – John Smallios – Aligning Your Jiu Jitsu School With A Higher Mission & Purpose

Every student at Higher Jiu Jitsu knows their mission statement. John Smallios shares how a clear purpose simplifies their message.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • The mission statement that John upholds in his Jiu Jitsu academy
  • The critical factors that influenced the close-knit culture in Higher Jiu Jitsu
  • The one thing that John avoided which now guides his students on the same path to learning
  • Aristotle’s philosophy of learning
  • And more

*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.

Download the PDF transcription

TRANSCRIPTION

With regards to the mission, hopefully if you ask any Higher Jiu Jitsu student, they will tell you that our mission at Higher Jiu Jitsu is we help everyday people build quality of life with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. And that's in my mind all the time.

GEORGE: Good day, George here, and welcome to another Martial Arts Media Business Podcast, episode number 104. So today I've got an old friend with me, someone I haven't spoken to in a while, and we got chatting again on Facebook and thought we'd catch up, talk a bit about Jiu Jitsu business and things past the whole pandemic. So I'm with John Smallios.

JOHN: How is it going, man?

GEORGE: Good. How are you?

JOHN: I'm doing well. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me on.

GEORGE: Your school's name is Higher Jiu Jitsu, right?

JOHN: Yep. That's the one.

GEORGE: I've always wanted to ask you, where did you get the name Higher Jiu Jitsu? What was the thinking behind it?

JOHN: It's pretty cool, right? Well, basically, I had a nutrition coaching and personal training venture that I was into at the beginning, and the name of that was Higher Health, because I was always interested in getting better and improving on health in many different ways. And there's always ways to improve in that realm. And then I was running the BJJ Commune.

I think there might have been a time maybe when you came to Higher potentially. I think it was still the commune at that time. And the commune was that because it was an open map pretty much. Everyone was more than welcome to come. There was no affiliation at the time. And then things developed and changed. And then I was faced with a little bit of a spot where it was very hard running two businesses at the same time.

And I was kind of doing a similar thing, because I was looking at helping people, whether it was during nutrition or movement, or in this case Jiu Jitsu. So I thought, you know what? It's time to amalgamate the two and make it one, and Higher Jiu Jitsu was born. And I like it. It's got a nice ring to it. And I just love the idea now that it's endless refinement and you can always do better on the Jiu Jitsu mats and off the Jiu Jitsu mats, of course. But Higher Jiu Jitsu it is.

GEORGE: There we go. Actually, you just from minded me now of the first conversation we had, because you worked with us way back, version one of our Academy Program, which is a coaching program for school owners with marketing and emails and contents and so forth. I recall being on a call with you and you had this divided attention of how are you going to make this thing a thing?

Because you had the health of the business working with Jiu Jitsu. But when I stopped by in Sydney at your location and you had me joining for the open mat session there, I recall that step was already refined and you were already on your way with this whole amalgamated venture, as you say.

JOHN: Yeah. It was actually really tough at the time because I'm just so passionate about all of those realms. It was hard to make… I think I put more pressure on myself than I had to at the time and I wanted everything to just be seamless and perfect, in a way. Things aren't always perfect. But I guess changes had to be made and it was within me. I'm sure you weren't the only person I was chatting to that about.

It was just a constant dilemma in my head like, how can I make this work better? Because I wanted to represent one particular movement, one particular philosophy, and I didn't like being split through the middle. At least that was in my own perception. Maybe other people didn't take it like that or see it like that. But in my case, I wanted to have one sole purpose. That's how it worked out.

And it was much better off because now all my heart and soul is going into the one avenue and I can improve all different aspects of that one particular direction, which is awesome. And so now I have a health program within my Jiu Jitsu school. I don't do too much personal training with regards to movement coaching anymore. But in saying that, when I'm doing private class with my students, I'm definitely teaching them how to move and I'm definitely teaching them how to build awareness throughout their body and throughout their own movements.

So in a way, the first dream still lives on. It's a different brand, I guess. I did marketing at uni. So I was studying branding or studying all different aspects of marketing. So perhaps in my head I guess I was a bit more choosy and just wanted it to be on point. But now I feel good. Now I feel like Higher Jiu Jitsu is my one and only professional kind of endeavor. And day in and out, I'm looking at improving on it in all aspects of it. So it's worked out well.

GEORGE: Yeah. Perfect. I think sometimes as entrepreneurs we can get stuck in how the vehicle has got to run. And so now you're divided. We sort of just jumped in on the story that we know together, but I think we should just probably give some more context for you on what this was on how you were going on the health side and how you were going on the Jiu Jitsu side.

But as I was referencing, I think you get so stuck in the vehicle that you forget actually the higher outcome that you're trying to serve. And so removing yourself from the vehicle, which is health and which is Jiu Jitsu, and thinking, all right, well, what is it that I actually want people to get? What is that outcome? And then something that I've been really working on is how do I incorporate that in my actual mission statement?

And not a mission statement of the, hey, here's the thing that you put in the wall or shove under the desk and never look at, but just something that is congruent with the outcome that you want to serve within your business for you personally, but also an outcome obviously that you want for, in your case, your students or your clients as such.

JOHN: Okay. So in that case, I thought about this long and hard, and whether I was working with my client with regards to movement, or if they came up to me and said, “John, I want to lose weight. I need a nutrition program,” or if they said, “John, I want to learn Jiu Jitsu,” my goal, and it is the same thing to this day, is to help the client, the student build quality of life.

And quality of life for me is something more than health. It's on the mat. It's off the mat. It's your physical being. It's your mental being. It's your emotional side. It's everything in one. And it's your ability to flourish in life. And I was thinking, even though there's different avenues and different roads that I thought I was on, it was all within the one highway, I guess, within the one direction of building quality of life.

So with regards to the mission, hopefully if you ask any Higher Jiu Jitsu student, they will tell you that our mission at Higher Jiu Jitsu is we help everyday people build quality of life with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. And that's in my mind all the time. So it means that, again, the purpose is quality of life. And who do I serve? I serve the everyday person.

And the everyday person is of different age groups and different professions and might have different interests, but is not like an athlete who's looking to be a world leader. That's not the student that I think will flourish at Higher Jiu Jitsu. I think it's the everyday person that's going to really, really thrive at our school. And how do we do that? We do that with Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

And of course, Gracie Jiu Jitsu can encompass anything and everything. So Gracie Jiu Jitsu is your diet. It is your health. It is your movement in Jiu Jitsu. It is self-defense. It is all of these aspects. So that's the mission statement right there: we help everyday people build quality of life with Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

GEORGE: I like that. I was not aware that we were going to have this type of conversation. It's really cool. And I like it because it's something that I'm spending a lot of time with now. I'm not going to reveal my mission statement just yet on this call because it is a work in progress. You said you were struggling to get this refined. I know that refining that takes a lot of work.

But in doing that, it brings a lot of clarity, because there's a lot of things that you just eliminate. And I guess I'd put that to you. How does that change the way you go about attracting students or talking to people? Because now I guess you're more aligned, right? You're more in center of, well, this is what I'm trying to achieve and this is who it's for. So how do you find that adapts your message? And I'm curious to know because it's very important to you, because as you mentioned, all your students should actually know what the mission statement is as well.

JOHN: That's my job there. So in all of our communications, the things that I do and say publicly and just every day in the gym ought to reflect that if I'm going to be true to it. And I think I found a nice touch, just the touching point there. Okay. So how does it affect my communication when I'm talking to people on a YouTube video or on a call with a potential student who wants to be a part of the school?

For that, and I'm not afraid anymore to acknowledge that our school is not for everybody. And there are some people who I much prefer go into a highly competitive school. And there are a lot of highly competitive schools around the area that just love and would live and breathe competition all the time. And look, we have students that compete. I competed a whole bunch as much as I could earlier on in my Jiu Jitsu journey.

And so I'm not against competition in the slightest. But it's nice that we have a lens with which we can discern between student A and student B; the student who wants the hard, super tough training, and then the student who's more than happy to be a little bit more patient. And more than anything, I think the student who's looking to enjoy the art.

The art is a bit different, because we're not really… Well, I'm not overly interested in practicing the sport of Jiu Jitsu. So rarely, very, very rarely, unless there's a comp coming up or something or I talk about the points, I'm talking about positions, I'm talking about safety whilst we're training Jiu Jitsu. I'm talking about your ability to manage distance to prevent strikes, let's say, even though that's not in the sporting realm.

All of that is reflected in my communications online. And hopefully that's what people get. I talk a lot about movement and how the body works with regards to techniques and talking about how to gain leverage. Because when you're looking for leverage in Jiu Jitsu, you're doing that through your own body and through the grounds and through your opponent.

So definitely there's a lot of things that I can focus on more than others and it makes my life so much better. And it makes everyone's lives better and easier, I guess. Because if you don't like kind of the tone of what we do and say, then just tune out. That's fine. And then I've found that you can't please everybody. I'm sure you know that. Over the years when I first started the school, I wanted to please everybody. And I don't think that has the effect…

GEORGE: And you pleased no one.

JOHN: Yeah. In a way, it was like a school, where you didn't know if we're here or there. Whereas over the years, I've kind of really… I wouldn't say I've been stubborn about it at all. I'm still trying to be open-minded, for sure. Some students will come in and I'll say, “Hey, man, maybe this isn't the spot for you.

Maybe go to the school up the road and try them out as well. Find the school that's most important for you.” So, yeah, definitely it helps. Knowing who you are, I'd say, knowing your values as a school and as a person can most definitely help you attract the people that are going to get the most utility out of what you're offering.

GEORGE: I like that. It comes down to a couple of things, right? I think maturity, just maturing in your business and getting in tune with, what is the type of business that you want? What is the type of business that you want to build? I mean, if you are the guy that wants to build multiple schools and take a step back and not be that involved, maybe you'd take a bit of a different approach.

But if you want to stay close to the business, close to the purpose, close to the mission and be really in tune with what your customers want and build a business that you actually love and not despise, I think that's a big thing. Because it's very easy to get caught up in this fake want of growth and want this moving thing. But it's very easy in business to build this thing that you despise as well.

You build this business that you look at and you're like, “Oh, what have I built? I've built a monster that I don't want.” And that's when you're going to have to talk with a mirror and reflect and think, all right, well, I don't want to take this thing. What is it that I want to build? Anything to add on that, John, before we move on?

JOHN: Most definitely I do, because I think that's just really important. So when I got into Jiu Jitsu, George, it was love at first sight. I was watching the UFC and then I went and did a class on Jiu Jitsu. And I'd always wanted an athletic endeavor. I just hadn't found that yet. I wasn't good at soccer. I never got picked into the rep teams, unfortunately, at the time.

Now, I tried boxing and my parents didn't want me to do that. I tried to do rugby league. My parents didn't let me do that. And then I was like 18 and I found Jiu Jitsu. And I was like, wow, this is something that I can really hone in on. And I can really take it and enjoy it and do something with it. And so I started off at SPMA, as it was known in the day, as Anthony Perosh and Elvis Sinosic school.

And that was a beautiful experience right there. And they did things a certain way. And then as a white belt, I flew off to Brazil to get stuck into it, into the Mecca of Jiu Jitsu or what I thought was the Mecca at the time. And I got to go to many different schools. I was traveling and I was using Jiu Jitsu as the vehicle to travel, really. So I'd go all the way up to the North of Brazil, to the South of Brazil, and all along the way I just stopped at different schools and trained and learned. And that was awesome.

I went to America and I went to the East Coast, West Coast, training and learning all there. And Europe, I've spent some time in Greece and Italy training there as well. And I think that experience really helped me just see how schools run and see what aspects of schools I liked and what I didn't really like. And I think Elvis and Anthony's school at the time, they were very successful. They're great businessmen.

And they built that school up to something that was a monster academy. I think it had definitely over 500, 600 students, I think at the time, within two venues. And I guess being a student there, you could see the nature of that, how it reflects in life, and I guess all the challenges that they faced. And at the time, I think I was a little bit critical, but I'm not critical anymore at all because I understand that because now I'm a school owner myself.

So I understand the dilemmas that we face. And so with Higher Jiu Jitsu, I'm just happy that I've managed to incorporate all the things that I love about our school. So as a super passionate, enthusiastic white and blue and purple belt, I came in and I've managed to create the school. There's still a few things that we can improve on. But right now, I'm very, very satisfied that we have the school that has all the beautiful things that I love about a Jiu Jitsu school.

Most definitely the culture. You go to different schools and within minutes you can feel the vibes. You can sense the moods of students and teachers and the Jiu Jitsu. And I love coming into Higher Jiu Jitsu and many students tell me that as well. I had a student come in last week that was like, “Man, your school, it's an electric vibe.” And that makes me really happy. And that's something that I really want to focus on.

Post-class when we're shaking hands after the class, well, now we get fist bumps due to the nature of the times right now. But with every fist bump, I'll call out my student's name. And I know every student's name at Higher Jiu Jitsu. And I hardly forget them, which I'm very proud of, but that's important. There's a lot of teachers that don't know their students because they have so many students that it just becomes impossible to really remember names, for example.

But I make sure that I know every student's name and every other student knows each other's names. And we've got a very, very nice tight-knit community. So I think just the fact that the experience of seeing different schools and now seeing the likes and dislikes has helped me create something that I thoroughly adore right now. That's Higher Jiu Jitsu. So anyone can come in. Everyone can feel it for themselves. Some people might not like it. So be it. And the people that like our school tend to absolutely love our school.

GEORGE: You seem very attentive to the feel, the culture. And I was actually going to ask you, how do you feel the mission statement plays a big role in the actual culture? But then you also mentioned that you know everyone by their first name and you call their names as you address them. I think we all do some form of a handshake and a fist bump. Attention to detail is what I'm hearing. But what else do you feel contributes to a great culture in your school?

JOHN: There's a lot to do with that, a lot of aspects of that. Here's one really big one: having everybody on the same page, going in the same direction. In 2016, we affiliated with Pedro Sauer Association. And prior to that, we didn't really… Well, I had a syllabus, but I had made that up myself. And there were a few holes in there and we weren't super certain about implementing it with every class.

Whereas now we have a syllabus and it means that every student is on the same path of learning. And of course, students can go to different seminars and students jump on YouTube and BJJ fanatics and try these different DVDs and different techniques. Of course. And that's not a problem. But the syllabus is the thing that guides everybody in that same direction.

So when you come into class, like the higher belts would help the lower belts. Because the higher belts know the techniques that we're practicing, they get to help them. And I think the knowledge has to go from the top down, as in I'm coming to class and I'm teaching and I'm sharing the technique of the day and the details that work for me and that are required for the technique to be on point.

But then you've got the higher belts taking over, and we'll call out the newbie, the beginners, and say, “Hey, come with me for this class. I'll help you out.” And then the newbie, they feel like they're well looked after. They feel like they're welcome. They don't feel like a burden to the rest of the class because they don't know anything. And before you know it, they're a part of the school, too.

And with that being said, the higher belts, they also get to learn and they also get to learn by teaching. So I think the fact that everybody's on the same page really, really helps. Whereas previously, we had, as you know, the Jiu Jitsu commune. I was actually promoting the fact that we don't have an affiliation. There'll be students coming in from different schools, different systems, different trains of thought, different philosophies, and it wouldn't create a cohesive kind of a group.

Everyone had their own ideas and it was a little bit just like, “This is what I do. Okay. This is what I do. This is what I do.” And you couldn't go deeper. I think the syllabus is just such a big help. There's a lot of other things that we do at Higher Jiu Jitsu, too. So when a member comes in and signs up, I tell them, “You're not just paying for Jiu Jitsu tuition, you're paying to be part of a community.”

So on the first Friday of every month, we have the hangout. And that's just when we go out for dinner and drinks. And I remember when I was like a white and blue belt, if somebody asked me if we managed to go to have some dinner after the training, it felt great. It was awesome. You get to hang out with your Jiu Jitsu friends. I always found that the conversation with Jiu Jitsu people was always free flowing and you don't ever have to try because if you never run out of things to say, it goes back to Jiu Jitsu all the time.

And just the best people you find on the mat. Everyone's awesome. The people who have the humility to have Jiu Jitsu as part of their lives, they're just great people that associate with Jiu Jitsu. So the hangout really helps to kind of get off the mat and have some other conversations outside of Jiu Jitsu and eat and drink together and have some fun. We do the Higher Hikes now that it's summertime.

So that's us going out on a Sunday and meeting up and having some time off the mats and hanging out together. And there's many, many aspects of Higher that I think really helped that culture. Most definitely. Does that answer your question?

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. I was fascinated just by your perspective of sort of top-down and I never really thought of it with… And especially in times of COVID, people spend a lot more time online and studying online and online Jiu Jitsu, online this. There's a Zoom class for pretty much everything. How do you feel that could impact?

If you've got sort of this top-down approach and you've experienced having this commune effect of just too many influences or too many perspectives, how do you feel that can actually impact the way you teach and the way you go about things if you've got the syllabus or more like a philosophy that you sort of stand by? And people are plugging into different philosophies all around and checking things and picking up different techniques. Do you feel that compliments or sometimes there's a bit of a clash or they need a bit of a course restructuring in the direction in that?

JOHN: I don't think it affects anything. Firstly, I'll mention, too, that I think the knowledge is top-down, but also bottom-up as well. On Fridays, George, it's a Lab Friday. So what lab is, is we come in and I don't have an agenda for the day. Every other class that I come in, I know what I'm going to share. There or thereabouts, the class goes a different route, maybe someone asks a question and it sends me on a loop into answering that person's question. That's rare though.

But Lab Fridays is when people come in and it's like a basic Q&A. So the white belt can come in and say, “Hey, I learned this on YouTube. What do you think?” And I'll say, “Yeah, that's pretty cool. Maybe you can think about this and this aspect as well.” So it allows for a lot more open-minded learning. And that's why I started the commune, because I wanted to be a bit more open-minded and I didn't want to have a super stringent focus on a syllabus.

And I think A, the syllabus that we have, it's evolving. It hasn't been stagnant. And every time I teach the syllabus, every time we go through cycles of the syllabus, it's a new me. All of our coaches are always learning. And we do courses ourselves and we learn ourselves as well. So the cross collar choke that I did yesterday would have been a different cross collar choke than we did three months ago.

There would have been many different details that added to it. And if the students are concentrating, if they're focused in on details, then they can see that the technique is always evolving, because that's what Jiu Jitsu does. Jiu Jitsu doesn't stay the same. It's always an evolving martial art. And if you can see here, that's our logo. Can you see that triangle?

The triangle, what we have is it's one part of the triangle, the second, and third part comes up and then it drops down. So it's not a closed triangle. It's a triangle that the top is always open and it allows for new techniques to come in and maybe some techniques to be jettisoned if they're not effective anymore. So I think our art is just an amazing one.

And I think if we stay stagnant in martial art, then just like in life, if you stay stagnant, if you don't want to learn anymore, if you don't want to develop yourself, then very soon you'll find yourself falling behind. And that's the same with our Jiu Jitsu as well. So with that being said, George, it's never been a problem. We've got some very enthusiastic students that always do their homework and always go beyond our program.

And I have no problems with that, as long as they're respectful to the class. So what I don't like to see if I'm teaching a cross-culture because I did last night, is to see two students doing something completely different because they want to. I don't think that's been a good student in that class. If you're going to come to the class, then focus, there or thereabouts on what the class is.

So if we're doing a cross collar choke and then you develop it into your own Apilado or a triangle that's kind of related to the cross collar, I have absolutely no problems with that. But if the whole class is doing guard and then you choose to do mounts because you're learning your own mount DVD, and it's not an open mat, it's a scheduled class, then I almost feel like you don't really need to be in that class.

So it hasn't been a problem at all whatsoever. If anything, I like students just going elsewhere. It shows me that they're keen to learn and that they're enthusiastic. I think sometimes, depending on your experience level, if you start looking a little bit too far beyond the syllabus, I think it can have adverse effects on your learning. So for example, the way, Phil, my teacher puts it to me.

He's like, “When I studied marketing at Macquarie, all the subjects of the Macquarie uni marketing degree, I did them at Macquarie.” Whereas if I had done branding at Macquarie and consumer behavior and New South, and then something else that Sydney Uni, then it really takes away from the effectiveness of the whole program.” So if you're a white belt at Higher, I'd probably advise you to go on to Pedro Sauer online. That's our online portal.

And we have Master Sauer and all the black belts of the association that share technique on that portal. And it tends to be more focused on our way of doing things on the mechanics that we do and the techniques that we have in the syllabus. And then I think as a blue belt and beyond, I think there's no problems whatsoever in you looking elsewhere. And then bring it back. Bring it back to the crew. Bring it back to the nest, share your knowledge, and then we all get better.

GEORGE: I love it. So we have a mutual friend who was on the podcast on episode 101 – Costa Prasoulas. Hello, Costa. And you seem to share a lot of similar philosophies. Is that due to your Greek heritage or is that something else that you just pay attention to?

JOHN: I don't know. What philosophies do we share? Cons is an awesome guy. His values are on point and he's a guy by the book. He's respectful and he's honorable and he's a school owner as well. And he's been in the game for a very long time. I guess I'm happy that I share similar views as him. But what in particular?

GEORGE: It's not something that I can actually put a finger on. It's just when I speak to you and when I speak to him, I can hear congruences in the values, just the way you approach things. Very attention to detail. Very in-depth. Very thought out. I mean, just a simple thing where I think most guys would go get a logo designed and you'd kind of just say to the graphic designer, well, just put something together.

And you'll just look at it and say, okay, that's good. Where you actually show a triangle where actually there's a purpose behind it. That's a very fine attention to detail level that most people just don't think of. And discussing your mission statement, the thought, and I think the real deep work that went into really thinking of this is exactly what this is supposed to communicate by itself without you having to say it.

There's a real in-depth attention to detail and values that come from that. I hope that I did it justice, but there's just some similarities there in the way you guys communicate.

JOHN: Yeah. Maybe it is our Greek backgrounds. All right. Let me kind of give you a little something. So Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, distinguished two aspects of learning: the ethos of something and then technique. So the ethos of something is, I'm probably going to botch it up for sure now, but just the overarching kind of idea behind it. How can I say it? The philosophy behind it, perhaps, and the way that you go about this particular thing.

GEORGE: That's the reason why?

JOHN: Yeah, that's definitely a part of it, too. And then you've got the how, which is the technique, which is the ins and outs of doing things. And I think it's really important that we have an idea of both. So Higher Jiu Jitsu has an awesome syllabus, for sure, full of really beautiful techniques. But if various techniques are done in a way that's not congruent with people's intentions of being there, then they're just techniques.

So what I'm trying to do here is kind of bring a beautiful ethos, a beautiful vibe, a beautiful feel to Higher Jiu Jitsu. And then within that, kind of add the technical aspect as well. And I think having those two aligned helps to create the fireworks of a beautiful Jiu Jitsu school. I don't know. Does that help, a bit of Greek philosophy in there?

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. You did it great. I don't know Greek philosophy, but for me, that sounds awesome.

 

JOHN: Well, Cons is really keen on his Greek philosophy. I think he dropped some knowledge in your podcast as well. Cons is awesome. I haven't gone to his school for a little bit, but I plan to go there again soon. It's just hard as a school owner. The night off that I have, I'm wanting to spend it with my kid and my wife, because usually I'm not home. But Con, I'll be coming to your school very soon again.

GEORGE: That's perfect. Hey, John, so good to catch up. Wanted to chat a bit, how are you going with your kid? How's the new little man in life affecting life?

JOHN: I'll tell you what, it's amazing. It's so beautiful. You think you love something and then a kid comes along and it's like, whoa, I've never felt this before. It's just a whole new realm that's opened up in my heart with this boy. And every moment that I spend with him is just a gift, that's so beautiful. Yesterday he rolled. He was on his back and he's been working on it a little bit.

I've seen him. He's trying to turn here and there and he could never really succeed with it. But yesterday, just by himself, I had him on his back and then I was in the kitchen and I came back and he was on his tummy. I was like, wow, that's awesome. So having a kid is amazing. It presents a lot of challenges, for sure, with regards to running a school.

I guess you've touched on it, George, I'm pretty thorough with my work and I love my work. And I put my heart and soul into everything that I do and I want to put my heart and soul into being a dad and into being a husband and into being good to my family. And then I want to continue putting heart and soul into the school. And it's just a little bit hard logistically because when I'm at home and I'm trying to do my writing, because I try to write every day, I try to write a thousand words a day so I can get my articles out so I can keep the pages of podcasts going and the emails have to be written.

No one's going to write them for me. So I'm trying to be there in the morning, trying to write my emails. And I can see Roscoe, my son, just staring at me and smiling maybe in the corner of my eye. It's so distracting and I want to just sit there and cuddle him and play with him for the next five hours. So it's difficult. It presents some challenges, but these are such beautiful challenges and I'm more than happy to kind of work through them and find a way and I guess work with my wife. It's teamwork. I think teamwork is really, really important.

Touching on that, I think teamwork is a big one. As school owners, I think we need help from other people. And I think a lot of the times I've fallen into the trap of trying to do everything by myself. Whereas now I guess I have no choice but to delegate. So I felt like there are some awesome students at Higher Jiu Jitsu that have aspirations of their own school.

So I'm bringing them in now and showing them the ways that I do things. And then hopefully there are some certain tasks and things around Higher Jiu Jitsu that I don't necessarily have to do. And so that's how I'm slowly trying to delegate to other students and then I can focus on the things that I do well, that are unique for me. And so writing those articles I think is an important one. I don't want to delegate that. I love doing that. Yeah. So it's just an ongoing challenge. As you know, you're a dad, how do you find balancing work and family life?

GEORGE: It's always a learning experience and being attentive. I mean, kids know only one currency and that's time. They don't understand work, this, that. Where I live, which was a good idea right before we had kids, this is a lounge converted into an office, which is great, but it has no door, which means my daughter will come and jump on the couch and I'm like that's gone.

For me, I mean, the big discipline is early mornings, just getting a solid, early routine in. I'm up between 4:30 and 5:00 and just knock out some hours of deep work, getting some creativity in. And if I can just set that momentum early, that just helps the tone for the rest of the day, that at least I've set that momentum. And then, yeah, once the kids are out the door, I have my space, then it's simpler.

I mean, it's always a juggle. It's always a challenge. I think just really trying to be when I'm attentive, to be attentive. The beauty of our life and probably the most disruptive in our lives as well, these mobile things, just really trying to put them aside and when I'm attentive, I'm attentive.

JOHN: That's the thing, because your attention is so important. And it's hard to direct your attention and you can't pull your attention left and right all the time, because I don't think it works like that. I think if you want to do deep work, as you said, I love that book, by the way, if that's what you were referring to; if you need that, then you need… I like having time gaps.

So I like working in an hour, at least two hour blocks, and really delving into the depths of the task or the job that I have at hand. So it is difficult, but that's all right. We manage and we live on. We continue and we do our best to kind of move forward with it and make it all a little bit better every day.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. Hey, John, it's been great chatting to you and good to catch up. I'm looking forward to getting on your mats again. Real quick before we go, if people would like to learn a bit more from you, where can they go?

JOHN: Hey, hey, hey, the Higher Jiu Jitsu podcast. That's where they can go. Can I plug it?

GEORGE: Of course, you can.

JOHN: Thanks, George. So it's me and me and my student, Matty. It's his birthday today. Happy birthday, Matty. We have the Higher Jiu Jitsu podcast, and I think we're about 28 episodes in. And it's plenty of fun. The why on the podcast is an interesting one, because sometimes it is for us just to come in and have a chat, but it's to help the everyday people on that journey of Jiu Jitsu, really.

And we take all different dilemmas. Sometimes a student will ask me a little question in class and I'm like, ooh, that'll make a nice podcast. Or if there are certain kinds of themes or patterns of problems that I can see, then that's our chance to open things up and work on the ins and outs of how to approach the problem and what to do in order to get better.

So the Higher Jiu Jitsu Podcast. Everybody, check it out. It's plenty of fun. I think it's cool – higherjiujitsu.com.au. If you're coming to Sydney, you're more than welcome. We're in Woolloomooloo. We're right just on the outskirts of the city, which is actually really nice. A beautiful school at the PCYC City of Sydney. So if you're ever in Sydney, come in. You're more than welcome. Thanks, George. Thanks for having me, man. It's been a pleasure to chat to you. Thanks for all the work that you do with the Australian Martial Arts Community. I think your work is making everyone better as well. So keep it up. It's awesome.

GEORGE: Thank you, John. Much appreciate it. And look forward to seeing you back on the mat.

JOHN: Yes. Perfect. Thanks, George.

GEORGE: Thanks, John. Speak to you soon.

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George Fourie

Hi I'm George Fourie, the founder of MartialArtsMedia.com. When I'm not doing dad duties or training on the mats (which I manage to combine when my son is willing! :), I'm helping Martial Arts Gym owners grow their business through the power of online media.

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