Archives for April 2021

114 – John Will – Balancing Your BJJ Black Belt ‘Mindset’ Across All Aspects Of Life

Australia’s first ever BJJ black belt, John Will, shares a lifetime’s experience of being an outstanding coach, adapting to adversity, and mastering life through a ‘black belt mindset’.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • What is the ‘black belt mindset'?
  • How to learn new skills effectively and enjoy the process
  • How to create a positive martial arts club culture
  • The consequences of chasing martial arts marketing tricks
  • The smartest financial thing you can do for your martial arts business
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Most people aren't up for that. They want the quick magical, they want the quick answer. We want the quick everything, right? Instant gratification, the marshmallow theory – you need one marshmallow now, rather than two marshmallows two weeks later, people want that. So, they want quick answers. And I think that's silly, because I don't think it's about the outcome. I think it is about the journey and about enjoying the whole process.

GEORGE: Hey everyone, welcome to another Martial Arts Media business podcast. This is George Fourie, and I've got an exceptional guest with me today, John Will. And so, I'm going to give just a short little intro. So John, if you're not familiar who John is, John is famous as one of the Dirty Dozen, meaning he is one of the first twelve non-Brazilian to reach a black belt in jiu jitsu, one of the early adopters and also the first Australian to receive a jiu jitsu black belt. Welcome to the call, John. 

JOHN: Yeah. Thanks, George. Thanks for having me. 

GEORGE: Cool. So, look, if we had to go through all the credentials and background, we'll probably take up all the time of the podcast. So, and when somebody has their own Wikipedia page, I think that's where you should start and just go read that. So, I want to skip that. I think I want to just start with a bit of context how I initially came across you, John. 

So, back in, I think it was 2015, I was probably training jiu jitsu for about one year, and the club where I was training at was sort of a side gig, you know, they were a very successful karate school, but jiu jitsu wasn't really the thing. And, jiu jitsu sort of crawled into my life, and I felt like, alright, this is the thing that I'm going to do. And you know, I'm going to only start with the training. So, I was looking around Perth, and I wasn't really, you know, well versed in the know-how of which clubs do what and which, you know, which different organizations and so forth. And I came across a podcast, BjjBrick Podcast. 

JOHN: Oh, yeah. 

GEORGE: And I was listening to you talk, and I can't remember all the details, but I remember the one thing that stuck by me, which was the way you articulated stories and combined it with metaphors and your way of teaching. That struck me as, alright, you're someone that doesn't just know martial arts, but know that delivery aspect of how to teach it and how to articulate. So, I thought we could just start straight there. How did that develop, that side, obviously have lots of years and years of martial arts experience in jiu jitsu and many other styles, but where did this concept of teaching develop, on how you articulate with stories, metaphors, and so forth? 

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JOHN: Well, I think that the way that I started, first of all, even though I started in a traditional martial arts background, you know, meaning Taekwondo, karate, I did some freestyle wrestling, and all that, that was just like my first toe in the water. My real experience was gained in Southeast Asia, where I did a lot of traveling back and forth and training over there in the formative years of my life, you know, between like the age of 17, 18 through to my mid-20s. 

And so, the way that I was learning was by looking and analyzing, because I couldn't speak the languages, George. Right? I mean, when they first went over there, you went to a foreign country, I didn't know whether they were giving me good instruction or not. Now I can hazard a guess – probably not. Just like most people, they're just saying things, you know. And so, because I couldn't speak the language, at least initially until I learned, you know, how to speak Indonesian or different languages. Prior to that, I'd be looking, I would figure out – who's the best guy? What's he doing? What's he doing that's different from everyone else, and try and model that. 

So, I became, my learning style was one of the like, an autodidact style of learning how to teach myself through modeling. And that in itself, I think, puts you on a different road than most people. You know, because you've got to look, and you've got to analyze, and you've got to do comparative analysis, and all that kind of stuff. So, I was always like that, and then, I think that speaking is just thinking out loud. So, that's the way I was thinking, I was always thinking analytically about things. So, then when I started teaching, to the extent that I did start teaching by that, I was just doing that out loud. And that's how I started. 

And then I had a few influences that were known martial arts people, and I thought – wow, I would like to be able to sound like them and be effective in the same ways that they were being effective. But in martial arts, a martial arts landscape rather than in the landscape they were on. Robert Kiyosaki was, I mean, nowadays, people might know Robert Kiyosaki, the guy who wrote ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad' and the guy who's shilling gold and Bitcoin. 

But prior to that, way back, I'm talking 35 years ago, I met Robert, I spent a few weeks with him, and I was astounded. Like, I was really impressed by his communication style, teaching through analogy, gamifying lessons that he wanted to impart to other people. And I thought, wow, I'd like to be like that, but in the martial arts landscape. So, that kind of got me going that way. And then I guess the short answer to your question is, that was the beginning, the catalyst if you like, I was always analytical, because of my, where I started training in other countries, not being able to speak the language. 

So I did the analytical, I was influenced by him and a couple of other people, thought – wow, they really do well in their own thing. I wonder if I can do that in my own area of interest, martial arts, and then the next thing, so I combined those two things. So, every time I took a class, I would debrief myself with notes. If I said it this way, I got that result, if I change that around a little bit, I got a different result. So, I did brief myself for probably 20,000 classes. That's how I kind of developed my own teaching style. 

GEORGE: Alright, so, it's a lot of fine-tuning and refining, because what you're mentioning here is you're actually debriefing every class and being very analytical about the approach, really refining process ideas. 

JOHN: Yeah. Yes. 

GEORGE: Okay, cool. A couple of things that you touched on, and I was at your seminar a couple of days ago, at AMMA Gym, here in Perth, and a couple of things that you said that really resonated with me. And, you know, one part I'm trying to listen for that jiu jitsu knowledge and the other thing is, that that really struck me. One thing that you mentioned was talking about a black belt brain, and talking about how you develop as a martial artist, as a black belt, and how it kind of surprises you that people don't apply that all or out in business. 

I've used a fraction of that analogy before when we work with martial art school owners just about growing their schools, and really tying that back. Well, you know, if you really, if that's how far you get with your art, and you develop that as a mindset, then why is it not being applied elsewhere in business? In business and in life? So, wanted to ask you actually, John, where do you feel that people actually get stuck, that they're not making this a way of life in all aspects of life? 

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JOHN: I think it is, it is strange to me, George that people don't. I can't relate to that very well, because I can't see how if you do something here, and the approach you take here works for you, then I just do not understand why you don't take the same approach everywhere else. I don't get it. I was always that way. It's just a matter of how much time you allocate, in my view, meaning that if you take an approach to something – growing potatoes or, you know, designing houses or doing jiu jitsu or cooking, and it's working for you, like, if you're methodical with your cooking, you know, you go, “Well, I want to learn to cook. I'm interested in how to do that. 

So, I'll find some people who are really good at doing that. And I'll do what they do, and they have a recipe and so, okay, if I follow his recipe, exactly, I should get something pretty similar.” So, to me, that's like, an absolute no-brainer, why would I try to reinvent the wheel? Why would I not do that – follow the recipe? So, when I see people trying to bake a cake, to pursue the analogy further, the recipe has eight ingredients, mixed in this order, but they can only bother using five ingredients, and not using the same order. I do not understand why they do that. It is absolutely beyond me. 

Worse, they expect or complain that they don't get the same result as that person, when clearly they're only using five out of eight ingredients. I don't understand. So, I don't know, like why people don't do it. They are unreal, people are delusional, and like a lot of people clearly when you look around the planet, as a species, human beings are very, very happy to delude themselves at every turn. And to think that we can get this done, but without doing the same work as the person you’re trying to model, is kind of delusional. It's magical thinking. Perhaps that's what it is, and human beings, as we can both well imagine without drilling down too much, are awesome at magical thinking. Like, we are masters of bullshit, like, and convincing ourselves that, you know, all these untrue things are true, because it makes us feel better. 

And if I want to, you know, apply that same magical thinking to baking a cake, I can make the cake without, do I really need the eggs? I can't be bothered going to the shop, I'll do it without the eggs. I might think that. But you know, that's again, it falls into the category of magical thinking to me. I think the black belt mindset, if you and I are going to call that such a thing, to me it's very personal. It's different for every black belt, you know, and who am I to make a statement about what that means? But for me, what is a black belt in BJJ? What is a black belt mind? How is that different from a brand new white belt mind? I don't think it's got much to do with the amount of techniques you know or don't know. I don't think that's the thing, because some black belts know 1500 techniques, and other ones might only know 300 techniques, but it's not about, it's about how you use whatever techniques you know. 

By the time you're a black belt, you want to, in my view, have developed an appreciation for nuance and detail. And you realize that small nuance and small details can make a giant difference, and that's something as a beginner, you don't realize – you're just looking for the big things. And then as a black belt, you realize that by having your fingers that way or pushing that way, it's a giant, it's a big difference in outcomes. So, that's what I mean when I say a black belt mindset, someone who has developed a palate for nuance and detail. Like coffee – what's the difference between someone who's a great barista and someone who doesn't know how to do it? They have developed a pro coffee. 

GEORGE: Yeah. 

JOHN: And that's something that takes a long time to develop. With that kind of mindset, if you can have an appreciation for nuance and detail, and the importance of nuance and detail, and how relevant that to outcomes that might occur. It should occur to everyone that the same thing applies, irrespective of the subject matter. That if we're growing vegetables, I still need to figure out what are the small little things that my grandma does to grow tomatoes, you know that she gets an outstanding result, I don't. I've got to do all the things that she's doing, not just the convenient things that she's doing. Dig a hole, throw seeds in, cover up, water it. That's the convenience stuff. 

What are all the little inconvenient things that she's doing? But they make a big difference in outcome. I think, people, most people aren't up for that. They want the quick magical, they want the quick answer. We want the quick everything, right? Instant gratification, the marshmallow theory – you need one marshmallow now, rather than two marshmallows two weeks later, you know, people want that. So, they want quick answers. And I think that's silly, because I don't think it's about the outcome. I think it is about the journey and about enjoying the whole process. 

GEORGE: As a dad and having a teenage son, I think that was one of the hardest concepts to actually get across to my son. You know, when taking music, for example, we, you know, I used to play drums when I was a kid, and I remember trying to learn and getting this tape cassette of Enter Sandman, and I've never seen somebody sit in front of drums. And I'm like, trying to figure where my arms go. And I'm listening, and I'm rewinding and forwarding. And you know, when my son started playing when he was four years old, at the time when he was enjoying it and playing it, yeah, it was YouTube, and it was there. The outcome is already achieved visually. 

So, the hard work almost feels unnecessary. And I think that takes away a lot of resilience in kids that it's just, they don't see the work, and the outcome is already visible. But on that, so, you know, on the topic of black belt mind and talking about recipes, and I guess what it really comes down to then is habits and problem solving. Do you have sort of a, I don't want to put you on the spot, but do you have sort of a recipe in mind or something that, you know, you have developed, that if you took on a new skill or whether it's investing or just anything other than jiu jitsu, that you have this methodology of how you go about approaching things? 

JOHN: Well, we have a big advantage nowadays, of course, as you just alluded to, you know, YouTube, and we've got such so much information that, you know, we didn't have when we were kids, we didn't have that. So, that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Yeah. So, at least I'll use the good thing. So, I will tend to go out and find out, like, I try to get the big picture first. If I'm going to build a puzzle, like a jigsaw puzzle, I'll want to see the front of the box, because I want to see what I am trying to build here. But that's something that is kind of important. 

I remember doing that experiment way back. You know, I've got a bunch of jigsaw puzzles, got a bunch of people all divided up, I gave half the box of a jigsaw puzzle, the other half just the same puzzle, but in plastic bags. Click stopwatch, go! I mean, who finishes the puzzle? The people that know what they're building, and the other guys are still trying to figure out it’s three ducks in a pond, you know, that they're clueless. But the first thing I always tried to do is I try to take a macro view, step back, what is it? What's the whole, what's the bigger picture? And YouTube is awesome for that, You know, you can do that. So, I try to get the big picture first. Okay, I'll give you an example of something more concrete. I designed and built my own home, the one that I'm sitting in now. 

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So, what did I do? Well, I just went online, and I Googled very simply, best 50 architects of all time, well, recently. And then each architect, what are their top three houses of their career, or buildings or something? So now, I've got three x 15 – 45 pictures. Then I asked about the big picture, what's happened in architecture? Now, I look at those 45 pictures and go, “What do I like?” Well, I don't like 40 of them that leaves five. I like, you know, falling water, the house, falling water. What's the architect? Who's the architect – the famous, oh my god, slipped my mind. Everyone's listening to this guy, idiot. It's, anyway. But I like the look, I go, I like the look of that. I like the look of that. I like the look of that. 

So, I get those things. And then I started, I got Google SketchUp, spent 15 hours trying to learn how to do the Google SketchUp and then I kind of drew some stuff that looked like what they did and then went from there. You know, so, I don't think it's hard. So, I guess my approach is always to try to get the big picture first. Get a feeling, what I like about it. Then I try to find some people who have done it before me, which is like, lots. Then try to isolate the best ones, and then kind of model. See if I can get into their head a little bit like, wow, you know, and what they are thinking about. And then I go from there. 

I'm also okay with making mistakes, I'm okay with that. As long as it's not catastrophic, you know, as long as it's small mistakes, you need to make a lot of them, you don't want to make big mistakes that you can't come back from. So, I'm conservative in that way. I'm up for making mistakes, I rather make lots of little ones that don't cost me much. Rather than all in and make a big one. You know, investing in cryptocurrency, put 1% of your portfolio in and make as many mistakes as you want. And then when you figure it out, then put in another 2%, and you're good to go, right? You don't go all in. I mean, every now and again, someone goes all in, but then someone picks the time, right, gets it all right, and they do exceptionally well. 

GEORGE: And we hear about him. 

JOHN: We hear about that guy, because of what's it called? Survivor bias. You don't hear about the other 99. So, I'm a bit, I'm much more fearful. And I will go, I'll go all in, but with 1%, you know what I mean? 

GEORGE: Yeah, perfect. So I've got, I guess, if I just break it down, what I got from that big picture, get a clear understanding, part of what you actually want out of this thing, like, what do you like? Boil it down into who can you model and they look for the little attention to detail, the nuances. 

JOHN: Yeah, exactly. Yes. 

GEORGE: And I guess the last thing, which is always the thing that no one does, is take action. Take action and do it. Yeah.

JOHN: Yeah. The reason why I don't feel a problem, like, I don't seem to have a problem with pulling the trigger, or taking action is, I actually enjoy that process that we just talked about. That's the fun for me. That is the fun, the outcome isn't. I'm not waiting to move into my house to enjoy it. You know, I'm not waiting to take the trip, to enjoy it. I enjoy the planning of the hike, or whatever it is, you know, and I enjoy sitting down if it's about, you know, Bitcoin or it's about whatever it is, I enjoy the process of that thing we're talking about. I actually like that. I like that bit. It's almost like, you know, it's a bit of a letdown when you get done, because that process is, in a way, ended. The fun is the training to black belt. It shouldn't be like, I'm not having fun until I get the black belt. 

GEORGE: That's depressing.

JOHN: That is depressing. Like, anyone who's like that will never get it, because it's just too difficult. That is the fun, you know, so therefore, yeah, I think you enjoy the whole thing. I enjoy learning. And I enjoy learning about new stuff and I enjoy that uncertainty, try and figure it out. Try to put the, you know, the bits of the puzzle together to sit back and see the picture. It's not that it's all miserable until then. Oh, it's done. Beautiful picture, two ducks in a pond. What, no, the fun is doing it. Yeah.

GEORGE: Perfect. I think something that you said on Sunday that goes well with that is, in a way there's no such thing as a bad position in jiu jitsu, meaning that you can put yourself in situations where you're going to make mistakes and be vulnerable and still move through it. 

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JOHN: Yes, anything, like, if we're in jiu jitsu. So like, any position, unless you're telling me that you know, everything there is to know about that position? Or if it's a bad position, so-called bad and underneath side control, do you know everything about escaping and this and that, because if you did, we wouldn't be there, right? So, you don't, so what do you need to do? You need to spend more time there. So, in other words, wherever you are, is exactly what you need to do. Enjoy it. It sounds like a Buddhist Zen thing, but it's not, it's just real.  

Wherever you are, is exactly where you need to be, and if you're stuck on an inside control, then that's exactly where you need to be, and you need to be learning, and then the same thing with everything else in life. You know, if you're, if you've got financial drama and whatever, and you're trying to fix that, then that's exactly where you need to be. Someone giving you $5 million to make your problems away, is not going to make your problems go away. It's just going to put a band aid over it. But you need to be wherever it is. So, you may as well enjoy it, because eventually, it will go away. You won't be there, you'll be somewhere else, with another set of challenges or whatever. It's all good. 

GEORGE: It's all good, yeah. So, I want to talk about two things actually, if we change gears just slightly. Obviously, coming out of things like COVID, you mentioned, it's been your best year yet. And I want to talk a bit about club culture and things like that. But I think first, probably a good place to start, as I mentioned it – pandemic, if you want to call it that, COVID presented a lot of challenges, interesting challenges for a lot of schools, a lot of martial arts styles, jiu jitsu and everyone else. I know, I've met a lot of people adapt, you know, a lot of people crawled in a hole and waited for it to go over. Some people took it on, took different directions in business. How was the experience for you? 

JOHN: Yeah, we shut where I am in Victoria, Australia. We shut down for 10 months, meaning our academy shut down for 10 months. So, like everyone else, at the beginning, I thought, “Oh, this might be two weeks or might even be three weeks”. So, it was like, “Awesome! We get to take out a two week break, and then we're going to be back,” and then two weeks turned into three weeks. So, at that point three, four weeks – uh-oh, this going to go on for a while, you know, it was becoming a little bit worrisome. 

By worrisome, what I mean by that is, it's unprecedented. I've never been here before. We've never experienced this before. This goes on for three months, six months, and nine months. What's going to happen to my academy, my martial arts school? Like, I don't know, but because I've got, there's no historical precedent. Do they all come back? Have they all taken up skateboarding? As it turns out, they all came back the night I came back. I didn't know that at the time. 

So, I just made the best of it, we had a great time – my wife and I did a lot of stuff we wouldn't normally do, because you're forced to. So, go for bike rides and walks and this and all that. So, great. Pointed my brain at a few things that don't really interest me that much, but I know I got to do it. You know, like my self-managed super fund, my finances. I'm not interested in that kind of stuff, but I've got the time now, so I may as well look at it. And it's amazing when you point your brain at it and tweak a few things, how much better things get. You know, it only takes 5% of your attention, is infinitely better than 0% of your attention. 

So, I pointed my mind at a few things that didn't interest me, but I've got nothing else to do, so I may as well do that. Wow, that was good. So, it was all of that. But it was interesting to me how what I learned from it is, it was really like pressing the pause button on a movie, going away for 10 months, coming back and I just press play, and the movie started playing again. So, I can't tell. Like, a week later, after we started again, I could not tell that there'd been a break. The only thing was that I had not opened my academy door for 10 months. That's good to know, in case it ever happens again. Also heartwarming to know, you know, everyone's pretty keen to get back to training. A lot of schools struggled, because I know a lot of schools and a lot of them struggled. A lot of them struggle, because they were completely unprepared for a Black Swan event. 

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So, for those who don't know what Black Swan event meant, you know, it's just a way of saying, it's a book by Nassim Taleb. And he wrote a book called ‘The Black Swan', and basically, it just means a completely unexpected event. But when there's a completely unexpected event, you can't, it's difficult. Most people don't prepare for it, because to prepare for things means you kind of expect it. 

So, an unexpected thing like an asteroid hitting New York or a pandemic, most people are not prepared for it. So, that taught a lot of people a lesson. They need to make sure they have 6 – 12 months of money put aside for an emergency. They need to make sure, you know, all these kinds of things. Most people didn't, so they were 100% reliant on their income. You know, that must have put a lot of stress on those people. I didn't need an income, I've got enough income put aside for another 20 years. So, I don't need any. So, to me, a cup of coffee, or a cup of water, or, you know, whatever, I was just sad that I couldn't see the people who I normally see, and train on a mat, and do teaching, which I love doing. The money wasn't a part. I didn't care about that. So, that's interesting. 

Like, I think now people, they should go, you know what, maybe we should start saving 20% of our income, like for a rainy day, not just for retirement, I'm talking about just for an emergency, you should get, because emergencies clearly happen every now and again. Some businesses fell over, you know, now I take a harsh view of that. Probably a bit unfair, but I say, you know what, that's Darwinian forces at play. Here they are, next. Bit mean, but hey, that's nature. You were weak enough to fall over? Yeah. You don't deserve to trade in the marketplace.  It's interesting. 

My wife and I had that conversation, you know, about all these businesses closing. I know, I mean, it always saddens me, you know, with the business going down, but I also think, you know, was that business going down already? Was COVID just the tipping point? Yes. Yeah. I think you're perhaps, I mean, if you're on that, if you're walking such a fine line, really, do you want to do that? Walk such a fine line for the rest of your life? Really? I'd be getting another job, or another two jobs. I mean, someone asked me the other day, it was only five minutes. It was after a class. I didn't have any time. But they said, “I heard you got some properties. 

So, how do you do that?” I've got a question to ask me, and I've got five minutes on the way. I said, “Do you have a job?” And he goes, “Yeah, I've got a job.” “What do you do?” “I do this.” “How much do you earn this month?” “Okay, here's my first thing, you need two jobs, or maybe three jobs. Go get two more jobs, and once you get two jobs, and you're saving all the income for those extra jobs, then come and ask for the next step. You got to have some fat or some leeway, I don't think you can be walking along, living on such a fine margin. That's not a great way to do life, I don't think – because the slightest little earthquake, and you're dead. I used to call it, you know what I used to call it, George? A bug on a leaf. 

A bug on a leaf, so, in the canopy of the rainforest, a branch is falling down, it's opened up a hole, a little ray of sunshine comes down. And it makes this little one meter square ecosystem with certain little mosses and certain leaves and it's a certain temperature. And if you're a bug, that's beautifully acclimated for that one square meter that is not a good place to be. Like, you've got no options, you can't move anywhere. If there's a five degree change in temperature, you're dead. But I don't want to be that delicate an organism. I want to be like a cockroach. Shit, it can be minus 20, it can be plus 40. There can be wind, no wind. It can be radiation, a nuclear bomb can go off, and I’m golden. I want to be a cockroach. A bug in a beautiful little environment. 

GEORGE: I love that. Change gears again, just a little. I was chatting to one of your students who works with us, Sam Broughton. Actually, I was on your website last night, bjj.com.au. By the way, and I know it's a side note, but what a great domain name bjj.com.au. I'm a bit of a domain name nerd. 

JOHN: Early adopter! 

GEORGE: Early adopter is what it's called. Yeah. There we go, if you had any questions about the early adopter there. I was looking through the list of black belts, some of the people that we work with that's on that list, Brett Fenton, Cam Rowe, Mike Fooks, also Karl Norton. You know, we were talking about questions and things that we should discuss and, and you mentioned that I should ask you about club culture – club culture and the relationship between student and teacher. 

John Will

JOHN: I think it's really important. For me, club culture, it's purely a side benefit that is also good for business. I am not that interested in business. It might not look like that from the outside. People go, “Hang on, you got all the stuff that you got, and you got this and that”. I couldn't care less about it. It's a byproduct of being passionate about what I do and caring about what I've learned. Now, the analogy I'll give you is before, you might have to remind me about the culture question. This was an analogy told to me by Robert Kiyosaki, who was talking about Buckminster Fuller, who wrote a book called ‘The Critical Path'. 

Buckminster Fuller was the most inspiring person, he was Robert Kiyosaki's hero. And Buckminster Fuller gave this analogy, and I'll repeat it here, he says, “How do you know, that you're doing life well, is by the consequences of your action.” In other words, and the analogy he used was, a bee goes around being a bee, and it wants to collect pollen from the flowers. It doesn't even know about the greater thing, which is cross pollination of flowers. It just thinks it wants to go and collect the pollen. With the greater processional effect of it doing what it's doing, is that it's cross pollinating flowers, and we get these gardens, and we get all this stuff. And he says, you can tell the bee is being true to its Venus, because of the cross pollination, that it might even be unaware of. I kind of liked that idea. 

To me, the money side and the business side, and the successful stuff like that, is the cross pollination of flowers. I, as the bee, actually don't care about that. I care about being passionate about what I'm doing, and I'm interested in it. How I know I'm doing it right, is if I step back, when someone points out that cross pollination happened. That is, I got no debts or got enough money for 20 years, and all that shit that I don't care about, you know, what I'm saying? I think a lot of people chase that stuff. If they are chasing the effect, maybe they're not truly being tethered to their passion or their mission. So, going back to your question about club culture, it's very important to me, it has certain benefits, which I don't care about. 

But I'm passionate about what I do, and teaching at my school. So, because that's an extension of my home, my mat. When I'm on the mat, it's kind of like an extension of my home, it's another room in my house. So, it's not like business, separate. It's part of who I am, defines who I am. So, I want that to be comfortable, and I want it to be the way… Like, if you run a barbecue at your house, you're not going to have people come to the barbecue that you don't like, who aren't behaving well. And my school is just like that, except that's not a barbecue, it's training. 

So, I'm not going to have people in there who don't gel with the atmosphere that I want to create. Now, weirdly, paradoxically, like when people in martial arts business, I guess, I'm no business guru, what do I know about business? I just know how to do life. But business – if they're just focusing on business and the numbers, then one of the things I see happening is they think more customers are better, because it's more money. And that to me, I disagree with, because that means they'll train anyone for money, and now they've got people in there who are acting counter to the culture they're trying to build. 

So, I think that some of what they want to do is counterintuitive. They've got to identify and get rid of the 10% of their school that's taken away from the culture they're trying to build. That is counterintuitive to a purely business person who's trying to get as many customers as he can. I don't give a shit about customers. Customer, getting numbers, I don't care about that. 

GEORGE: I think you just answered the first topic we discussed, you know, we were talking about having a black belt brain and applying yourself and why people aren't succeeding in other areas of life. And it could be that it's just the wrong ‘why', it's following the wrong drive, and focusing on the wrong thing, and all these side effects possibly are happening. 

John Will

JOHN: You will be very aware, as anyone who's done any kind of business or I mean, talking about saving money, investing money, superannuation, American 401k, you know, whatever it is. You need to do whatever it is you're doing for a long time for this to work, right? Mostly, there's no shortcuts, sometimes you get one, you know, you can buy 100 Bitcoin when it's $5. But it wasn't genius, it was just luck, right? 

So, most of the time, whatever you're going to do, you're going to do it for 10 or 20 years, whether it's investing in property – it's not a five year gig, it's a 10 to 20 year plan. Saving 20% of your income and reinvesting is a 20 year plan. Learning a new language is a 10 year plan. It's not a three month plan. So, everything's a 10 year plan, let's say, but what I really mean is 20. But if everything's a 10 year plan, our approach has to be the kind of approach that I can sustain for that long. 

So, there's even another reason why I want to be very careful about the way I budget, I have to be happy with it, so that I can keep doing that for the 10 or 15 or 20 years it's going to take to get these peripheral benefits from it. So, I mean, you could do all these – I remember going to America a lot, way back, and you know, some of these martial art conventions and stuff, right? Where it's all business tricks, how to do business tricks, to trick people into joining your schools, then you can make a lot of money. All these suits walking around giving lectures about business tricks, made me sit. One, because none of them, I wasn't impressed with any of them as martial artists. So, there's that. 

And the second thing is, how long could they do that all before they wanted to just, woke up one day and wanted to shoot themselves in the head? And some of them did, because if they're not really, they're just doing tricks and they're not connected to their purpose and passion. They're too busy learning the tricks. I think you've got to take a stance of green and stuff, you got to take a sustainable approach to whatever it is you're doing. If you take a sustainable approach, you'll be happier as a human being, your relationships will be better, you'll be a better person. And you'll be able to do it for 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 years. And even if you do a bad job, if you do it for 40 years and save 10% of what you earn, you'll be a millionaire a couple of times over. I take that approach – got to be sustainable. 

GEORGE: Love it. John, I want to be conscious of your time. I've got one more, one question for you. I so resonate with the tricks because you know, I mean, what got me into working with martial art school owners was the fact that there was a business model where it comes from passion and drive and something with some essence. 

Coming from that online marketing space, it is a place full of hype and tricks. It was never there when I started working with martial arts school owners, but I was sorely disappointed when it started to creep in. And I'm very against that, because it's tiring, and it's not sustainable. Chasing tricks means your business is chasing tricks. But it's kind of what we spoke about in the beginning, of not being resilient and working on the things that actually bring results over time. It's dabble here and dabble here. Like I always say to my clients, just put the horse flaps on, work your plan, do your thing.

JOHN: Do all these things are what these American people do? I don't do those things, but I've got a waiting list of 103 people to join my school. I don't do the tricks, but what I do is, I do my job well. I care about planning my classes, I care about the class, I care about getting outcomes on the mat, getting results, the culture created, you know. Obviously, there just has to be some things, there's got to be some basics in place. 

So that you automate things you don't care about, like payments, good that they automated, I don't have to care about that. Or advertising – we don't do much advertising, but pre-COVID, we were dropping flyers out. So, I wouldn't reactively market, I just do 60,000 flyers, give them to the guy and say, “Put out 5000 a month and call me when you run out.” So, I automate the things that I'm uninterested in, automate the things you're uninterested in. Just make it automatic, so you don't have to attend to it ever again. 

GEORGE: Focus on the product. 

JOHN: My business advice, but I like automating the things. I know I should do these things. You know, so I'm not saying you shouldn't do things, I'm just saying, it shouldn't be all about trying to find some trick people. That's no good. When COVID happened, a lot of the martial arts schools were begging their students to keep paying the money, “Keep paying my fees, I'm gonna die! If you want your martial arts school to be still here, when COVID is over, you need to keep paying me. I'll teach you a Zen class on stretching, so that you feel like you're getting something for your $100 a month.” I didn't do it. I just stopped everyone's fee straightaway, because leaders should eat last. 

If anyone's going to suffer, it's going to be me, not my students. And so I stopped everyone's fees right away. If I need money, I'll go, if I did need money, and if I wasn't organized and squared away, and I was owing money, I would go and get a job at McDonald's or digging holes, or whatever I needed to do like every other human being. And then I would live on that. And that's what, so I stopped it. I bought a lot of goodwill by doing that. And that goodwill that I got, when I came back, about eight weeks before Christmas, I didn't turn their fees back on, I said, “I'll give you six weeks, no one's going to pay fees for the rest of 2020. It's on me, at my school, to enjoy it, because I know everyone's having a difficult time.” As it turns out, the goodwill that I got with that was worth way more in dollar terms and what I would have got by begging for money. 

So, you know, so the same thing I'll say to a lot of people, what I say to a monk in Thailand, “Hey, you want money? Go get a job like everyone else.” I think that we need to show leadership. Well, we don't have to, but the way I view it is that I have a leadership role at my school. And now if I want to go beyond that, outside the circle of my mat into the community, and if I'm calling myself a leader, which I'm not really, people are, but if that's the role I had, I should show some leadership and suck it up. You know, so I think all of that is so important and life is, it's not always easy. You know, it's difficult. So, it's difficult for lots of people. We need to show that we can get through that, that we can suck it up. You know, it's like most things, get this, rainy days followed by a sunny day. You just have to wait, you may as well make the best of the rainy day, enjoy it, because it's going to go away and then it's going to be too hot. And then everyone will be complaining about it being too hot.

GEORGE: Yeah, I've got to admit I've been, because I remember you sharing that, that post about shutting down and everything, and I've got to admit, I was sort of on the two sides of it. Because, you know, I had a lot of clients that I was concerned about, like, if you do that, you might not be here in two months, you know. I remember I had an event planned in Perth for over the weekend, and that's when we realized COVID is actually a thing. It's actually a thing. 

I ignored it for probably the longest, but then I realized, alright, this is probably serious, and I was with my wife and I said to her, “Look, I'm going to go down to the office and I'm just going too…” I'm a martial artist. I've not run a school. But I've worked with martial arts school owners for longer than I've done martial arts, and I thought if there's one thing that I could probably bring to the table, was my knowledge of running a business online. Can somebody get something out of that, that they can provide value through their membership that's not on the mats, you know, the vehicle of the mat is gone, and it can be done online. 

So, I put together this thing, and I gave it away for free and I just wanted to make sure we can help and looking back at it now, you know, some guys did. Most of your jiu jitsu guys did exactly what you did – shut completely and kept things going for free. I think the karate guys, the Taekwondo guys had it a bit easier, because Zoom is a bit easier. I mean, I've got guys in the UK that are still running their Zoom classes, and you know, it's become a thing. But it's interesting to look back, because a lot of guys that did go one path did it successfully, you know, the online thing, and some guys are still trying to get their students back. And then the guys that actually cut everything and carry the weight, when they flicked it back on, we're in the same situation as you were – that the goodwill carried over. Nobody had to put in a cancellation, I think was the key thing. Nobody had to assess what we were doing and put in a cancellation and they're not able to get open doors and carry on. 

John Will

JOHN: Look, it's also good to take the macro view – life is long. Yeah, like people who've been around for a while in the martial arts, the way I looked at it was – you know what, this is just the long service leave that I would never take unless someone's got a gun to my head. So, someone did put a gun to my head, saying “You're taking long service leave,” and I went, “Maybe I should be!” Just like that, you know, the race is long. I think a big lesson, which is one that I would have, I've been recommending to people anyway. 

So, we can talk about, if we have a discussion about making a living from martial arts, okay, let's call it business. I don't think of it like that, but we'll say that. If you're talking about making a living from martial arts, to me, it's not just about how much money you're getting in. I don't think that matters actually as much as people think. You can get in 60, $70,000 a year that's, yeah, very modest, running a nice little school. But it's what you do with that 60 or $70,000 over 15 to 20 years that will make you fantastically independently wealthy or not. There are other people who are boarding $300,000 a year, 400 grand a year, and they still don't own their home, and they still have credit card debt. Like, I don't know, other people who might only earn $60,000 a year, but 20 years later, they own three, four houses with no debt. 

So, it's not just about the money that comes in, it is how much you're keeping. And I think a lot of people have a bucket, and the hole in the top of the bucket is the same size as the hole in the bottom of the bucket! And they're wondering why the day after the rain stops coming that they’re dying of thirst. I mean, guys, you need to learn how to plug the bottom of the bucket and even a little sprinkle of a rain, meaning the income, will see you with an excess of water. So, you can't just concentrate on making money. You've got to look at your lifestyle, maybe tune that a little bit better. And then your investment strategy – maybe tune that a little bit better, and create a self-managed super fund, so you're not going to get taxed and then you've saved 30% right there. 

Do all these little things and not put all of your attention on “I need another customer”, because we've, what do you call it? A modest amount of income. It's never been unbelievably good. You know, it's not been hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Plenty of people earn that, we haven't. But you know, it's easy to accrue millions of dollars and have no debts, if you just put it in the right spots, and learn a tiny bit about self-managed super-funds, 401K or, you know, in America, IRA lots. I'm not talking about being serious, just spend half an hour a week, and do that for a year and you'll be ahead of 99% of the planet. Read the richest man in Babylon, and then just double it. I believe this is what you should do, like, not 10% you should save 100% of one of your two incomes. 

GEORGE: Nice.

JOHN: Get two jobs, or if your wife's got a job and you've got a job, or work two jobs, suck it up and save 100% of one of those jobs. Just do that for five or 10 years, and wait. But people don't want to do it. 

GEORGE: Patience and resilience, yeah. Hey, John, thanks so much. I do have one more question. Again, at the seminar, you were talking about reevaluating the reasons why you do what you do. 

JOHN: Yes. 

GEORGE: And I wanted to ask you that, you know, you mentioned the reasons that you train, still train, you know, for where you're at in life has evolved and changed over time. So, what is that for you? What keeps you going? 

JOHN: So, when I started, it was about, I mean, if you really dig in, it was probably about building self-confidence. You know, if you drill down, I could say it was about self-defense, but probably really about when you get into some fights – it's not just self-defense that you're then looking for, it's really about your confidence having taken a hit, and you need to build your self-esteem, stuff like that. But you can say self-defense, but unless you're getting into like a fight every week, you're only getting into a couple of fights a year, which most people aren't even doing that. But say it was a couple of fights a year, because you're the kind of personality that can't take a step back, let's say. 

Then, it's still not about self-defense, because a couple of fights a year, really? You're going to spend all that money and all that time and get all those injuries? You're better off just having the two fights a year and getting beaten. In terms of the injury, and the money, it doesn't make sense. So, I think it's about self-esteem. I started out like that, then it becomes like you're fascinated with the concept, and the way you see yourself as this thing. So, you have to like, so you don't suffer cognitive dissonance, you have to make the vision that you have in your head and the reality of who you are the same. That requires training. 

And then it's like, morphs again, for me, it morphed into, like just the adventure of it all. Like, it's just an adventure to, you know, training overseas in different countries. It's like the hobbit going on a journey. You know, it's like, you don't know what's going to happen. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, like, COVID was a bad thing, but don't cry, because you're sad you're alive. You want to go live to be an adventure, I will don't you realize that when you're a hobbit on an adventure, there's a troll that's trying to eat you. 

So, what you're telling me is you don't want all of the adventure, you just want the fun bits. That's not an adventure. An adventure is the contrast between the bad and the good things, and that the grind and fun day, and the lack of money and the money, and the hunger and then that nice meal, and you know that it's an adventure because of contrast. If there's no contrast, you're in hell. So, it was then for me about all the adventure and all that. Now, it's not so much like that. For me now. It's about I like design – by design, putting things together in a more optimal way, which goes to design. I like that and problem solving, creative problem solving, or problem solving that requires creative thinking. I like that stuff. 

My martial arts practice is a vehicle to just keep that part of my brain. You know, training like, keep it active. I like doing that. And for me now, it's much more about that and leaving, sounds a bit weird, but leaving a good footprint in the world. So, I like to do that with the footprint, try through teaching, because I have, to some degree, a captive audience when they're on the mat. So, I can teach them this thing that I like doing myself and that they're there for. And then I can slip in some other stuff when they're not looking, to make them maybe live their lives a little bit better. And then I'm making a better footprint on the planet. So, that's why I do it now. Not for the money anymore. 

GEORGE: Love that. And that, what you just said, brings things sort of full circle and kind of what I experienced when, you know, when I listened to you at the seminar. It's not just the jiu jitsu, it's the life knowledge, and everything else that's being taught in between. 

JOHN: Well, I don't want to get into this whole thing about being a guru. Right? Because a lot of martial arts people are portraying themselves as some kind of life guru. But if you look at their lives, you do not want their life. They are hollow, in debt on their credit card, bad relationship, they're plastic, inauthentic. I don't want that. But I'll just say, listen, I want to try to live my life by example, and I'm happy to be judged. 

In all, every facet of my life, I'm happy to be judged, because I'm trying to do the whole thing well, balanced. And then people can make their own decision. So, they can go, they can look and go, “You know what, I'm going to listen to this person, because they seem to have ticked the boxes. So, I'm going to listen”, you know, and then they should listen to a lot of other people. And then they should step back and then make up their own mind about which advice they can take from who to create a better life for themselves. 

GEORGE: John, thanks so much. You know what, yesterday I walked into one of my favorite little book shops. It's a niche little book shop, I pop in there every so often. And I was pretty lucky, right? Because I walked in, and I saw these three stacked next to each other, and I thought, yeah, that's something I don't see in the bookshop every day. So, I'd love to say I've read them all, but it's been one day of about 10 pages in. Yeah, so they are available on the website, BJJ? 

JOHN: They are on my website, BJJ. Oh, the name of that book, Rogue Black Belt. 

GEORGE: Rogueblackbelt.com. 

JOHN: You can get them there as well. Basically, I mean, it's an autobiography, but it didn't start out to be that. Someone like yourself just asked me a question. They said, “What are the 10 best things you've ever learnt?” You know, like the 10 best life lessons I've ever learned to think about. I wrote them down. And then, oh, is that 11? Oh, 12. Oh, hang on, there's 24, 25, so that in those books, there were 60 most important things I've ever learned. So, I wrote them down. And then I put them in chronological order, and then told the story that went with that – turned into an autobiography by accident. 

GEORGE: Great, awesome. Well, I'm looking forward to diving in and perhaps I can, I'll swing you in for round two after I've got some more insight. 

JOHN: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Perfect, John. Thanks so much. So Rogueblackbelt.com, you mentioned? 

JOHN: Yes.

GEORGE: And bjj.com.au. Anything else? Any last words? Anywhere we should check out any of your seminars or any… 

JOHN: Oh, they can figure it out, I'm not trying to sell it. 

GEORGE: Perfect. John, thanks so much for your time. Much appreciated. And I'll catch you in the next one. 

JOHN: Thanks, George. 

GEORGE: Thank you. Cheers.

 

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113 – Wired To Win: Game Plan And Strategies For Martial Arts Business

Turning the tables. Florence Sophia interviews me, George Fourie, about Martial Arts Business, training brazilian jiu jitsu, marketing, success and life.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The three key strategies to pivot and grow your martial art business 
  • AIDA Model: What is it and how to use it in your marketing
  • The most important element that many school owners forget to add on their ad campaigns 
  • Why some martial arts businesses fail
  • How to stand out from the crowd with your martial arts business
  • How to create a sustainable game plan for your martial arts business
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

So, I'd like to talk about marketing, because how marketing applies to that. Because without the marketing, you really don't have the business and you're not able to teach, create the impact that you want to create through martial arts and live that lifestyle. So, it always comes down to the marketing side of it. Though you can be a great teacher, if nobody knows who you are, it's always going to be a struggle. And I mean, 99% of the school owners I speak to, it's always, “How do we get more students?” 

Hey, it's George, I hope you're well. So, a bit of a different podcast interview for you today. I just got off a podcast interview where I was the one being interviewed. So, it was a little different – me sitting on the other side of the fence, getting asked all the questions – it was a lot of fun. And so I decided to actually share the podcast interview with you here. Yeah, thought it was a good idea – we discussed a couple of cool things. 

First 20 minutes – more or less sort of life background stuff – but I think about 18 minutes in, we really got into some real good actionable marketing steps, things about business, life, and general. So, I had so much fun, it was great, and I thought it would be good to share the podcast with you today, simply because I'm always the guy asking all the questions. 

So, perhaps you'll learn a bit about me, if you're curious about that. If not, you've heard all that stuff, skip the first 18 minutes and get into the nuts and bolts because we really discussed a couple of real good concepts, actionable stuff for your martial arts business. So anyway, the podcast was with Florence Sophia from Toronto. You can check out her website at bjjyoga.com, and also her Instagram handle is @jiujitsuyoga, right, @jiujitsuyoga, and website bjjyoga.com. Anyway, here we go. Hope you enjoy the episode.

FLORENCE: We are alive. Hi, George. How are you doing?

GEORGE: Good! How are you, Florence? 

FLORENCE: Very well! It is 8pm in Toronto, Canada, and 8am in Australia. 

GEORGE: That's right. 

FLORENCE: In Perth. I can't believe we are speaking from such a distance away from each other. 

GEORGE: It's all good, the future looks good for you guys. 

FLORENCE: Right? The world seems smaller than what it is actually with technology. Amazing. So, let me start by introducing our guest. I am Florence Sophia, I am your host today. And we have an amazing podcast – ‘Wired to Win' is the title – Game Plan and Strategies for Martial Arts Business. I am so much looking forward to this conversation with you, and thank you for making the time to be with us today, George.

So, George is the founder of Martial Arts Media. And from a former computer programmer he turned into a successful online marketer. He found his passion for martial arts by following his son's journey, and fast forward eight years later, you're now a purple belt. Congrats on that, that's an amazing achievement. 

GEORGE: Took a while! 

FLORENCE: People don't get there. Yeah, yeah, a lot of tears and sweat, I bet. So, George works with a new group of school owners and community called Partners, and we'll get into it shortly, where the focus is generating more income, more impact, and leading the lifestyle that martial arts provides.

Your success comes from your expertise in online marketing, coupled with your ability to bring in tested principles from outside the industry and apply it to the gym and school owners. That's amazing. So, tell us, George, what are the things that are interesting to you that you are working on right now? And also why is it interesting to you personally and professionally? 

 

Martial Arts Business

GEORGE: Probably, if I had to go with the most recent, it would be just completing the 75 Hard Challenge. I don't know if you're familiar with that? 

FLORENCE: Yes, I did two days, I lasted two days. Yeah.

GEORGE: Where did you get stuck? 

FLORENCE: Going back to work. The weekend was fantastic. I had the time and then the Monday came, and yeah, it's just challenging when you have a busy work schedule. But, I do intend to get back to it and also with the weather being nicer, it's going to be easier for the… Right, so, one of the items for our audience who doesn't know about the 75 Hard is 45 minutes of workout outside, which sometimes, yeah, with the snow might be challenging, which I'm sure you don't have the challenge in Australia. 

GEORGE: Yes, so we probably, the outside workout is probably a lot easier in Australia. And now, when you move on to phase one, you've got to add cold showers to the mix as well, which, in summer, yeah, it was easy to do. But the 75 Hard Challenge, yeah. So, if you don't know, it's a challenge that you do for 75 consecutive days, doing five things – two workouts, 45 minute workouts a day, one outside, read 10 pages of non-fiction, follow a diet, no cheat meals or alcohol. And I'm missing one… Water! How could I miss that? A gallon of water, so, that's four liters of water a day? Yeah, so it's a real simple thing. 

But it's, to be honest, and I've done a lot of personal development, you know, working on myself over the years. But that's probably hands down the best thing I've ever done, because just that reinforcement of daily habit, to really understand what habit and discipline is – that really ingrained it in me and it's not something you pick up in a book, not something you read, you just got to do it. And once you've done it, it really transforms your life in so many ways. Yeah. 

FLORENCE: I'm actually curious, you completed the 75 days, right? 

GEORGE: I did the 75, yeah. 

FLORENCE: How was that journey? How did you feel along the way to keep yourself motivated through it? Because I bet, you know, I know a lot of people who go halfway and then have to come back and like me, you know, lasted two days. But it takes a lot of discipline, like you're saying, to get to the 75 days. 

GEORGE: Yeah, a big part could be accountability. If you're in a group of, and you got to choose your group wisely, of course, but if you have a group of motivated people that are doing it, it's a lot harder to fall back on what you're doing. And yeah, and just obviously wanting to do it, the thing is when you follow it on the app, but the further you get into it, the stakes just become higher. And you know, if you're 20 days or 30 days in, and it's 11 o'clock at night, and you haven't done that second workout, you suck it up, and you do it, because you don't want that little meter to go down to zero. 

And I've never been one for challenges and doing this type of thing. I always thought it was what, “Yeah, I don't know.” It didn't catch me until I did it. But how was the journey? So, what I decided to do was, I figured, well, I've got a daily routine of training jiu jitsu at 12:00. So, I figured, well, I'm going to not change the rules, but I'm going to, I'm just going to do it a bit differently in the sense of I will have jujitsu every day, which is kind of an hour to 90 minute workout. 

But then I'll do my second workout, which might just be like an evening walk, like a brisk walk outside, and could do that for 45 minutes. So, that was my plan, right? I'll just do jujitsu every day. And which is always a great plan, until injuries start to creep up. So, which they did, because I got a shoulder injury, and I'm now sitting with tennis elbow, which is, anyway, we're not going to talk about injuries, right? Because we talk jujitsu and injuries could go, they could, yeah. 

Yeah, so, my shoulder injury came back up and I just decided to work around it, like really work around it. And I know it needed rest, but uh, I just carried on training and really, it just paid off. And two, three weeks in, my shoulder was better, routine got back on track.

The hardest part was traveling. Because we had a holiday booked. And so we've got on the plane, this is the first time I've gotten the plane after this whole, you know, pandemic thing, hit. And I felt sick, really sick. I remember being on a coaching call with my clients and I couldn't talk. I really couldn't talk. I just, no words came out and so that week was probably the hardest part of it, because I had to really… 

FLORENCE: Push to stick to it and not give up. 

GEORGE: Again, just having to start over again. And I had the deadline of, my deadline was – the 75th day was Christmas. So, I wanted to have a good meal on Christmas Day. 

FLORENCE: That's a good deadline. 

GEORGE: So, I knew stopping and restarting, then, you know, going over. Anyway, but um, yeah, that's kind of what got me through it. So, if you are going to do something like, just make sure your deadline, make sure that you've planned out, you know, obstacles in between of what dates can come up that might throw you off course, travel, birthdays, celebrations, etc. And have a good group of people that are cheering you on. 

FLORENCE: Yeah, that's wonderful. So, talk to me about your journey from the computer programming industry to being, you know, the successful online marketer that you are today for martial arts businesses. 

Martial Arts Business

GEORGE: Okay, so, that's a, whoa. What's that about, a 26 year journey compressed into a little bit? But it's something that really fell from one thing, and I'll skip a lot of gaps, because I don't want to go into, bore you with too much detail. But I mean, I started computer programming after school, I'd never done martial arts, martial arts was never, as a kid, the right thing, it was surfing, playing drums. That was really my passion. And after taking some time off after school, I was like, “Alright, I've got to go do something.” And I've got to go study marketing. Like, that's what, that's what it feels like, for me. You know, this feels like a calling. 

And I remember, you know, people giving me advice, as people that care about you always do, telling me that, “No, you shouldn't do marketing, everybody does the marketing!” And so somehow I stumbled on “I'm going to do computer programming.” And so I started computer programming, which was actually quite funny, because when I walked into the class, the first day, I recall sitting around all these kids that have obviously been programming for life, right? And they just tapped away, and here's me trying to figure out where do I actually put the computer on? That's how amateur I was with technology.

And so, yes, I started computer programming, which was really interesting in the sense of problem solving, and learning, but halfway through, I started selling computers to my classmates. And so that just got me into business.

So, I kind of just fell back into what felt natural – was marketing. And so yeah, after studying, I had two paths. One is I go follow the corporate lifestyle, or number two is I become an entrepreneur. And so I thought I would give this entrepreneur thing a go, and that's the early 20s, you know, where things really began, you know, we started knocking on doors and trying to figure out how we're going to get clients. And I think we got our first client out of pity more than anything, you know, two young guys knocking on business doors. 

FLORENCE: Faith. 

GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah. And so that became a thing. And we became super successful, you know, like the talk of the small town. And we did well, and about two years in and now this is going back in time, if you know, the year 2000, where all computers were going to die. Well, obviously, that didn't happen, right?

But we couldn't navigate our business through that and we crashed in more ways than one, you know, financially, egos… Yeah, so I lost a lot of money and that was it. I parted ways with computers for a good ten years. And then I've got into sales and marketing, more like a default profession, not chosen. I'm from South Africa. So, in South Africa, sometimes employment opportunities are not great. 

FLORENCE: Yeah. 

GEORGE: Yeah. So, I just started in sales and marketing. And that was, you know, when I started in sales and marketing, I really understood why my business failed. It's the lack of understanding, marketing, and sales. And it's probably the best education I've had in life, is just going through that sales process, because when you have sales managers that are really drilling you and really putting the pressure on you to understand yourself and what you are projecting to the world and how that is affecting your business. Yeah, that was life changing. 

FLORENCE: It wasn't a failure. It was a lesson. 

GEORGE: Yeah, everything is disguised as a lesson, right? But yeah, fast forward the life story. I moved to Aus. I broke my neck actually in a car accident. That was probably the biggest wake up call of all, broke my neck, and I look back on it and you know I think what sort of really struck a nerve is, I was in hospital and yeah, I had a big neck brace on, I had a hemorrhage – I've still, if you can see, I've got a cut. 

FLORENCE: Yeah. Yeah. 

GEORGE: I'm lying in hospital and a doctor's looking at me and he laughs! And I'm like, “Why are you laughing?” “Yeah,” he says, “Guys like you, we normally just don't operate.” And I say “Why?” And he says, “Ha! Because you're dead in 2 weeks,” and he walks out. I snickered, but it hit me so hard.

You know, like, it was just, you know, the kind of the thing that hit you between the eyes and was like, “Whoah, okay, well, what if that was it?” What if that was my life? I was 27, 28 at the time. And then I planned my exit strategy, like, how am I going to leave South Africa? How am I going to live life?

And yeah, I got a job on a cruise ship in the States, moved to the States, around Los Angeles, New Orleans. We cruised through Alaska, did all that. And then I, yeah, I landed up in Australia. It was going to be a holiday, turned into life. And then yeah, here I am in Australia.

Where are we at in the life story? Yeah! So, I got back into sales and marketing and somewhere along the line, I picked up a computer and looked, actually, in reality I landed up in Australia, and I didn't have a valid working visa. I'm legal now, any authorities listening. 

FLORENCE: Congrats! That's a big milestone. 

GEORGE: Yes. I mean, well, I was expecting a son, and I was in Australia, I couldn't leave to go and apply for a visa, and my son was going to arrive. Like, it was a bit of a juggle. And in that time, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I bought a computer and I got back on to marketing.

And that became a blend for me, right, because now I had computer programming knowledge, but I also had a lot of sales and marketing. And I started looking at business opportunities. And I spent my money on a lot of stuff, just trying home business opportunities, and network marketing and selling ecommerce products, and just a lot of trial and error. And that's why I just don't take for granted what we have now – because now we have Facebook groups and knowledge is just infinite, you know?

Back then, 2006-2007, there wasn't much around, right? There was Google, there was MySpace, and you know, you could search and you can find stuff. But it was really hard to, you know, if you just a newbie starting out, there's nobody to ask. I got into a book and this was probably the most foundational book that changed me into, you know, like, that really taught me about marketing was Perry Marshall's Definitive Guide to Google AdWords.

And that really taught me the foundations of how does marketing work? How do numbers work? And I still have that same type of conversation with school owners every week, because those foundations still don't change – understanding your lifetime, your lifetime customer value. How much can you spend to get a customer and understand those metrics? That's super powerful. 

FLORENCE: So, tell us what, what has jiu jitsu taught you, and what aspects of the digital mindset are you applying? You know, in times of uncertainty, like right now in the lockdown. 

Martial Arts Business

GEORGE: So yeah, so look, I guess just for some context, I started training martial arts just after that, wasn't jujitsu at first. I figured that I could only train jiu jitsu after getting punched in the head. And the doctor said, “That's not good.” 

FLORENCE: I don't think it was recommended. 

GEORGE: No. And so yeah, so I got into martial arts and, you know, so I have been doing jujitsu for the last six, seven years, I believe. Anyway, but just skip from that story. What has jiu jitsu taught me? Well, really resilience, problem solving. Being okay with obstacles and learning how to overcome them. You know, we're fortunately in a completely different situation, compared to I know, you guys in Canada for having a super tough, in the UK, and so forth. 

You know, for us, you know, we've moved past it. And so things are a lot different here, you know. We can walk freely and you know, no masks, etc. We continued with, you know, normal day-to-day life, but uh, yeah, for the most part, what it's taught me is just being in the moment, being able to navigate through problems. And there's always options, but there's always a second option. There's always options to go beyond the situation of what you're dealing with.

FLORENCE: I can definitely hear the resilience in you. I do relate to that aspect of jujitsu. But tell us, like, moving on to the main topic of the night – martial arts, businesses and end strategies – what would you say are the three key strategies to pivot and grow a martial art business? Especially, you know, when everything seems to be going wrong? 

GEORGE: Okay, so, so it's a big question, right? And I want to be conscious of, you know, your audience and where people are at, and especially if they, beyond the pandemic, or, you know, still navigating out of lockdowns and so forth. But for me, because I help school owners with marketing, you know, I'm not an instructor, a teacher or a school owner, marketing is where we help the lead generation. So, I always start there, because the same advice I could give a school owner that's trying to get to 100 students, we got school owners that have, you know, a client base that have multiple 1000 students, and they're still applying the same principles. 

So, I'd like to talk about marketing – how marketing applies to that, because without the marketing, you really don't have the business and you're not able to teach, create the impact that you want to create through martial arts and live that lifestyle. So, it always comes down to the marketing side of it. Though you can be a great teacher, if nobody knows who you are, it's always going to be a struggle. I mean, 99% of the school owners I speak to, it's always, “How do we get more students?”

FLORENCE: Yeah, one of the strategies I heard, actually today, is, you know, you are, you are successful, when actually you don't need to brag. It's the other people who do that for you. Which I, you know, for me, was like an aha! moment. 

GEORGE: Yeah, so, and in that sense, right? So, if you've got a great product, and you can get your students to talk about it, I mean, you know, that's magic, you're never going to be the power of a good referral. So, so first up! And this is why I always, what I've grown to learn is, you know, everybody asks the question, “How do we get more students?” But it's a loaded question, because it goes way deeper to that – “Well, are you keeping students? Or are you getting the leads in, but you're just not converting them? 

So, to go back on your question – how do we go about this – there's the three core things. And I'm happy to dive deeper into it, but the three core things start with one – irresistible offer. So, you've got to have a good offer that people can resonate with and that kind of gives a no-brainer effect. And I always start there, right?

Because if, you know, when people come to us and say, “Well, you know, been posting these Facebook ads, they're not working.” That's probably the first place we normally start, is how does the offer look? And just to clarify, the offer is the transaction that people have got to do to take the next step. So, is it a free trial? Is it a paid trial? What do they have to do? And how attractive is it?

And so there goes, a lot of science goes into creating that offer, because it's got to communicate value. And sometimes there's a disconnect, you know, as martial artists or a school owner, that, you know, you understand the value of martial arts, but the person looking to start, they've got no clue. And it's, you know, to tell someone, they're going to get confidence or fitness or self-defense. Yeah, but what does that really mean? So, some packaging the offer in a way that communicates value, and it's a no-brainer. And the risk is on you, the school owner, not the client, to take the first step. 

That's the most powerful thing that you've got to do. So, that's number one. Have a good offer. And then number two, how do you get the offer to market? So, look, there's always talk about this social network, but you know, for the most part, the easiest way always is for Facebook, Facebook ads. If you follow the right formula, and you know how to grab attention, pique interest with a good benefit, present your offer, and then number three.

FLORENCE: Sorry, what is the right formula? 

GEORGE: Yeah, so the formula we always use is, and people are super familiar with this, but if you go a few levels deeper, but the formula we stick to always is, it's called the AIDA principle. A-I-D-A, but I'll break it down for you. So it stands for, A's for Attention, I for Interest, D for Desire and A for Action. So, attention. Attention is you've got to stop people in their tracks.

So, if you think of a platform like Facebook, you know, people are mindlessly killing time, you know, nobody's really looking for something. And so, if you have to compare a platform like Google and Facebook, Google's got intent, because people are actively typing in the thing that they're looking for; where Facebook, they're not. People are just looking at cat videos or whatever they're doing.

But you could target, you can target so accurately with Facebook, that you can put the right offer in front of them. And that's why the offer is so important on Facebook. So, you've got to stop people in their tracks. So, how do you do that? Well, you can call them out, just say, Toronto parents. Yeah, that's simple, you call them out, but 70% of why people will stop, will be your media. So, your photos, and videos should be on point.

Now. People will say videos are better – they could be, if you're super good at video, but most people aren't. And even people that are good at video, miss the points of the true benefits. They might be a good video editor, but it's not resonating with people that they're actually going to stop. They can't see themselves in the picture. But a picture is easy, right? A picture is, “Can I see me or my kid there?” And so that covers attention, right? I've stopped.

So, now I'm paying attention, and so now you have got to grab my interest. And so there's two ways we go about interest – one is to ask a question; number two is a benefit-driven headline. I'm not such a fan of a question. And a big mistake I see people make is stacking the questions, so – do you want this? Do you want that? Do you want this? And you know, your prospect might be sitting there – yes, yes, yes, no. Right?

So, you've got to be, you've got to make sure that if you ask a question that it actually answers ‘yes', but you're probably still gonna have to follow up with a benefit-driven headline anyway. So, I just start with a benefit-driven headline. Yeah, so easy formula, the easiest formula still is this, I think, so many people claim to have made this popular, but I know it as how to benefit without pain.

So, how to get the thing that you want, without the thing that you're trying to avoid. So, you could look at your audience and think, “Okay, well, what is the thing that they get the most out of their training, jujitsu or martial arts?” And if you don't know, just interview 5, 10 of your students, you'll get a clear insight real quick. And then, what are they, what don't they want? Are they sick and tired of the gym? Are they sick and tired of people posing in the mirror at the gym? Are they, you know, what is it that they don't want? And so this is how you create this polarizing effect. 

Florence Sophia

FLORENCE: I like it. How do you get the thing you want, without doing the thing you don't want? 

GEORGE: Exactly. And that framework, it's probably the simplest place to start. So, going a bit deeper, the thing that you want is not a jujitsu class. That's the vehicle, right? The thing that you want is what the jiu jitsu is going to give you, or what the martial arts is going to give you. So, what is that outcome that's going to resonate with people? You know, is it confidence? Is it self-discipline? Is it self-defense? Is there, like, what is that higher level? I mean, you can go way deeper than that as well, because what do they get out of self-defense? 

But I mean, that probably comes up more in a conversation. But that's how you establish the value, right? So, you got to remove the value from just the vehicle. It's what does the vehicle give? And so this really helps people, I think, in the sense where people get hung up with their art, and sometimes people will tell me, “My art is so complicated. I don't know how to explain it.” Well, you don't, because you're the only one that at that point cares about it, right? A new prospect – they typically don't understand the difference between karate, jujitsu, muay thai, most of them just don't. 

FLORENCE: They're looking for a feeling, for an emotion. 

GEORGE: Yeah. So, most people just aren't, maybe there's a fraction of people that are educated, but they probably know where they want to go anyway. So, the general population that you're talking to don't. Alright, so that's where we are, right? Now, you've stopped them in their tracks, attention. You've gathered some interest, now some desire.

You know, desire, depending on the price point of your trial, you might need a few bullets, like short, little benefit-driven sentences, but typically if you and I, you know, what we do is we would have like a paid trial, like we work with this sheet that, you know, numbers that we've tested and price points that we've tested. So, it kind of takes the thinking a bit out of it. But if that offer is below $100, then you can typically just get away a desired section with a good offer. So, if you have a really good offer, and it's crystal clear, it's well communicated – that could be enough. 

FLORENCE: And what if it's higher than $100?

GEORGE: If it's higher than 100, you might want to have some bullet points to back it up. 

FLORENCE: And those would be the benefits? 

GEORGE: Yeah, those are just the extra benefits, what they get with this offer. So, kind of before the offer. And then action, like what do they need to do to get this thing? And so two big mistakes that school owners make here is, one not having it. Yeah, that is probably the biggest mistake is people just don't tell them. They do this perfect ad, but then they're like, what do I do to get this thing? So, telling people super clear what they got to do. 

Now, this is where you got to be, you've got to abide – we talk about abiding by the platform rules. A lot of times, I'll see people have like a flyer, and they put the flyer on Facebook. It was a great flyer, but now it's on Facebook. So, it's great in print, but it's not a great ad. And on the flyer, there'll be a ‘Call Us’, phone number or email. Now, I don't know about you, if you've ever tried to click on a phone number or email address on a phone – doesn't happen, right? So, imagine most of your people looking at an ad and looking at it and, “What's the number? They don't have a pin? I don't know, what do I do?” 

FLORENCE: And then they forget. 

GEORGE: “And then I'll do it later.” They've got all the intent to do it later, but they just won't, because you've lost them, right? So, what's the simplest way to have a call to action? Well, what we've learned over the years, and I guess, I'll say that – six years ago, when we released our first Martial Arts Media Academy course, which was, which is a marketing course, our advice was also different.

We would say, have a great landing page, and send people to a great website or landing page. Now, I never start there. Will having that be an added asset? Yeah. But now, we just want to sell the conversation. We just want to have more conversations, because if you have more conversations, we can have more conversions.

So, we just go for what is the best way for people to get in touch. Easiest is to send a message. Or you could do like a lead ad in Facebook, where you gather the names, emails, and so forth. But again, depending on the level that people are at, we just go for the messaging. So, those are the three things right?

You have to have a good offer, the formula to put in front of people, and then what is the call to action. And you can do those three things at scale. Because I see people do that with 10, 20 students a month, to hundreds. That means staying focused on it, getting better at the method, kind of like your martial arts, right? You don't just go practice once and do something new.

But I think as business owners, we get bored with our marketing before anybody else does. So, we want to try something new. But if you've refined that and you know your offer converts, then you can improve the offer by the messaging, and then you can improve the conversion by the way you actually follow up on the messages.

FLORENCE: Alright, so just to recap, we have an irresistible offer number one, number two was how to get the offer into advertisement, and that is AIDA. What is next? What comes out? 

GEORGE: Master your messaging. So, your follow-up process, and that's for the call to action. So, mastering the follow-up process of taking people from curious, to serious, to sign up. So yeah, we typically use Messenger for that. We've got what we call the Messenger Signup Method, which is just sort of a process where you go on, how do you build relationships fast and establish value and then take the orders.

Florence Sophia

FLORENCE: I like that. How do you follow up to have them from curious to serious? Generally speaking, why would you say martial arts businesses fail? Or how do they plan for risk management? 

GEORGE: Risk management. Wouldn't say that I'm the best person to answer that, but on failing, things that I have come across, a lot of it, well, everything in business starts with mindset. That's sort of the overarching theme. And with mindset comes beliefs about money, ethics on charging money for martial arts. And a big one that's probably never spoken about is the peer group, because if your great, great, great master teacher that you learn from, doesn't charge for martial arts, or, you know, maybe they've got different philosophies, and that's passed on to you, that creates a lot of conflict. 

Because if you want to try and grow a business, but your martial arts master who is truly a master at martial arts, is not a master at business, but is a master at martial arts is enforcing those beliefs and mindset onto you, you're going to face a crossroads, right? Because you're going to have to let go of that to move forward. So, a lot of it starts with mindset, and I was on a, we host this virtual event, it's called the Martial Arts Media Intensive.

We used to do it physical, but hey, digital is great, because I can run the events and go home. I can access the world, so it's always better. And I was going through this process, and somebody brought up, somebody was chatting about… We were talking about sales, and he mentioned, “I'm too honest a man to be good at sales.” I was like, “Whoa, whoa, we got to talk about that. Right?” Because for you listening, you know, maybe there's something else that you're attaching to it, right? Maybe you've got a different type of belief.

So, you can take this example and, you know, work it into your own scenario. But we really had to dive deep into that, because if you feel that you are too honest to be good at sales, how are you going to move your business forward? How are you going to present your martial arts to someone, if you feel that what you're doing is unethical? You will sabotage your own success, day in and day out. So, you've got to get clear on that.

And the easiest way to really get clear on that is just go look at your students, like if you're teaching martial arts, do you change lives? How many lives have you changed? Are people better off after training martial arts with you or not? If they're not, you probably shouldn't be in business, right? But I think for 99% of martial arts school owners, you change lives. And I know, you know, we skip that part of my story. But you know, it definitely changed my life when I got into martial arts.

And I wish I was a kid, you know, and I had a martial arts instructor convince my parents to get me started when I was a kid. I know the benefits now. I mean, I'm 44 now, but, you know, I started in my mid-30s. I see the benefits now and I see how that's helped my son. And that message needs to be enforced.

So, you have to be able to communicate your value, and understand the value that you provide, and the value that you provide is not on the mats. It's much higher. And this is what really helped us help school owners during the pandemic. Because what do you do in a pandemic, when the vehicle that you attach to, which is your martial arts training on the mats, camaraderie, friends, high fives, that community?

If that's missing, then how do you transfer that experience without the vehicle? And that's what you got to think about, right? Well, how do you do that? Well, how do you take your community? The missing element? How do you take that online? How do you continue being a coach? How do you continue being a coach and make sure that people move up? And what content? Can you provide the support? That challenges your thinking in big ways, because that's the vehicle. 

FLORENCE: And also, you value, you know, I would imagine the value you're bringing to the community has to speak from a place where you're understanding yourself as a business owner, what you and the gym is bringing to people's life. So, how do you translate that into your sentence? How do you translate that into a powerful value proposition? 

GEORGE: I don't know if it's much of a, how I can put it in a sentence, but it's more of a – give me a better scenario, like let's say, are you talking about a current circumstance?

FLORENCE: Let's say there's, around Toronto, there's like, I don't know, hundreds of jiu jitsu gyms? How do they create a message that is different from all the other gyms? And is not saying come to train with me, I'll build your confidence, I'll help your child not to be bullied, right? How do you separate yourself from everybody else who is offering the same, basically? 

GEORGE: Offering the same? But how do you go about presenting that message through to people? So, maybe this helps. Last week on our Partners Power Hour call, I was with one of our Partner members who is based in the UK. And I think the UK and Canada are still in, I mean, I know for the UK, they've been in lockdown for about a year, but now things are starting to look up. So, we looked at, alright, well, well, what's the plan? How do we navigate through this? 

So, for them, they're still doing their online classes, they're doing things online. I know jujitsu can be a bit trickier, because how do you do it online, but there's many successful models that you can look at of people doing that, like if you look at what the Gracies are doing, you can take things from that and apply that.

Now, some people might look at that and say, well, that's the Gracies, and that's them, and we can't be that. But, wrong, because you're the coach, and you've got your community and your community listens to you. And where would you want him to get the content – from someone else or from you? So, you totally got to be the leader, if you're trying to step up as a leader. 

FLORENCE: That's a powerful statement, is don't be afraid to kind of steal from somebody else and give yourself that permission. Yeah. 

GEORGE: So, just a bit more context on things that, you know, we really saw school owners struggle with, is when things are going up and down, you know, how do you stay positive? Right, it looks like the whole world is crumbling, you know, locked down, not locked down, we're open, we're not, break up, you know. And so you have to divide empathy and sympathy, and sympathy – what I mean by that is, when things go wrong, I see school owners jump straight to Facebook, and they take that emotion of sympathy with them of how life sucks. And it goes, that energy goes out in their posts, their communication. 

And it's kind of like saying, “Hey, all of us, we've all got our heads in the sand, and I understand because I've also got my head in the sand and let's all have our heads in the sand, and life sucks and we'll wait for better days. Or you can have empathy, and take it as an opportunity to lead – meaning, it sucks.

And then give yourself permission to go have a sulking moment of how life sucks for an hour or two hours, get it out of your system. And now I have to find your message. Okay, and this is the hardest thing, but like, okay, so what? What's the plan? Because if there's no plan, and this is, you know, when we saw all these cancellations, you know, when people run out of the future with you, they cancel.

So, you know, when things shut down, they're like, well, we'll cancel, because what's the plan? Yeah, so it's important to have the plan. And I'll get back to how we're doing this with one of our school owners in the UK, you've got to have the plan. And having empathy is understanding the situation, but then turning the wheels.

And so we did this with Don a few times where like, “Okay, we're locked down. Well, how are we going to handle this?” And the messaging was something like, to his members, right, “Okay, we're in a lockdown. It happened again. It's probably going to happen again, too. Right? But, what are we going to do? We're martial artists, are we going to let this get in our way? Or are we going to actually just commit and get the thing done and train and be better off when we open, because when we open, this is the plan that we're going to do X Y and Z. So, if that helps in one part.

So, what are we doing with our client in the UK? Well, they know that, I think by the end of this month, they can, I forgot the exact dates, but I think by the end of March they can do more outside training. April, they're looking at opening doors, and then they're moving into summer. Now, one thing that we noticed in Australia was schools boomed at times when they wouldn't normally boom, meaning like right before December or as people move out of the pandemic, people were just keen to get on with life and gyms are just booming, right? 

I spoke to someone yesterday, doubled his business from last year. So, things are really looking up, right? Martial arts school owners that have moved past it are thriving. And so for us looking at, in the UK, we were looking at all right, well, so we've got these four dates, we've got the end of the month, we've got something happening in April, we've got summer, etc., coming up. So, how do we plan the campaigns? Well, the secret to that is having your message to market match on point. So, the right message, at the right time, for the right person. And this has been the trickiest in the pandemic, because you've got, as much, whether you agree with governments or not, what they say, goes, right? 

So, you can hate it, love it, and fight it. Like, that's what is said. So, what can you do if you just ride the train, you can piggyback on what it is that they're saying, and you can draw the good news out of that. So, we're preparing the campaigns, and we're going, “Well, we've got these four dates.” And the minute the announcements get made, then it's good news. We're open, you know, it's sending the message out that we're ready. Let's go, right. So, you know, if things have been tough, and you're looking at the next few months, and like, what's going to happen? Well, be prepared, right? Because your time is coming, and the boom is coming, but make sure that your messaging is on point at that day, because the message one day before lockdown, and one day after, it's a completely different message. 

So, you've got to be prepared, that your message resonates where people are at mentally, at that time, and move past it. And just know that for every 50% of people that don't want to continue on with life and are paranoid and everything else. There's another 50% that are. 

FLORENCE: In terms of the messaging, would you say, for the messaging to be on point, is to say what's in the moment, or divulging a part of the plan? And where the gym is, like, what's the vision? 

GEORGE: Depends on where the marketing message is at. If it's for retention, it's definitely more about the plan. If it's for marketing, and attracting students, in ads, I would have been more in the moment of what it is. And, you know, if there's sort of a glimpse of the plan, that's ahead of opening dates etc., do that. But you know, something that could really work to your advantage in all this, is waitlists. You know, wait lists and scarcity is a really powerful thing. And if you're dealing with restrictions, and you can't have enough people on the mats, follow up or waitlist. People understand demand and supply is a scarce thing. And that can drive a lot of people to make sure that they get on the list for when you open or when you have a spot available as well.

Florence Sophia

FLORENCE: Nice. So, if someone had to start a business today, where do they start? And how do they create a sustainable game plan? 

GEORGE: Okay. 

FLORENCE: So, the question… 

GEORGE: It is, so look, I'll just give my perspective, right. And my perspective, I would say, simplify. And what I mean by that is, you want to, obviously want to have a good product, you want to be good at something, delivering something good. And be clear on what that is. And, and then again, going back to market, well, where is your market? Who are your ideal customers, and how are you going to get a message out to them?

And you can go back, actually, to my initial marketing advice, get a great offer, find a way to put it in front of people, follow up with them. And do that until you have a sustainable customer base, and then you can get all fancy and everything else. But I'd want to do that before I build websites, get a flashy logo, do all this stuff that feels like I'm an entrepreneur, but I'm not, because if you don't have a customer, then you got nothing.

So, I'd focus on like, what is the minimal viable way I can get started, deliver the thing? And perfection is a killer, right? So, just go, because you're going to learn when you go, be clear on what you're offering to people, what benefit they get, find a way to get that started, even if it's not running ads, and it's just in your sphere of influence. Friends, family, sometimes they're your first customers, right? A lot of people have had a mum as the first customer. But you know, just start somewhere and get that out and just refine that. And avoid, have horse flap blinkers on and just fill the customer base. 

FLORENCE: Great advice. What would you say are the biggest myths for online business marketing? What are the things that someone should avoid? And what are the absolutely must to implement?

GEORGE: Lists to avoid? So, I guess, be careful where you get your advice from. That's a tricky part, right? Because in today's world, you can buy the course on how to be the expert, and that's your intro into business. It means that someone hasn't applied any of what they learned in a real business, or maybe it works in another business, and they haven't adapted it into a model. So, just be super cautious who you get your advice from based on what you want to do. That's probably the biggest thing. People will always sell on their strength, right? So, people will always sell what they sell. 

So you know, people who are selling websites are going to tell you that you need the best website, if they selling course on AdWords, they're going to tell you AdWords is the way to go, if they're on YouTube, they're going to say YouTube is the best way to go. So, you know, people are always going to sell to their strengths. And that's why I, and I was that guy, you know, we used to do websites, and yeah, that was the go-to thing. But I realized it took a lot longer for people to get where they wanted to go. And so we stripped it all away, and boiled down to the three things that I shared earlier – the offer, get the message, right, get the follow-up. 

FLORENCE: And if you don't know to whom to go for advice, they should come to you, George, and before we close, I want to be mindful of our time. I know you have a call in in about eight minutes. If people want to follow you or just get in touch with you. Is there any, you mentioned there's a master class you're providing? Where can they find you? And how can they contact you? 

GEORGE: Yeah, the easiest way probably is martialartsmedia.com/scale. I don't know if I can help you, but that's what this little form is about. It's like a six step form. It just tells us who you are, what you're doing. It gives us just a bit of a gauge on what you need help with, and if we feel we can help you. We'll have a chat anyway. But yeah, if we feel we can help you we jump on a call and we will chat about the details. We only take on clients that we can help. 

So, I'm very transparent on that part. You know, don't want to try and help people if we can't help them. We typically only work with martial arts school owners, that's jujitsu, taekwondo, any martial arts of all sizes. So we've got different programs depending on where you're at. But that form is the best place to start – martialartsmedia.com/scale. Let me know exactly what it is that you're struggling with and we'll see if we're the right guys to help you with that. 

FLORENCE: I love it. Thank you. So, the website is… 

GEORGE: martialartsmedia.com/scale. 

FLORENCE: Awesome. And we'll put it into the show notes. Moving on in two minds. Sorry, go ahead. 

GEORGE: Yeah. And if you log on today, our new website is going live like three days ago, so if it's down, it's just because they are moving. Supposed to be done yesterday. 

FLORENCE: Exciting. All right, we will share the link in the show notes. If you could go back before you started your online business and give yourself that conversation knowing everything you know today, on top of the pandemic, you know, everything that happened? What would you say to yourself, you know, and what would you say to yourself the day before you started the process of preparing yourself for what is to come? 

GEORGE: Think less, do more. Just execute. Perfection is a killer. Perfection will kill progress. Think less, do more. Do get a result. Assess the result, improve on it. 

FLORENCE: I love it. I think let's do more. Let's move on to the fire, rapid fire questions – our favorite of our audience here. And so I'll just, you know, come up with a couple of rapid fire questions and you can just answer with whatever comes to mind, okay? What is true?

GEORGE: What is true is there's always an option. There's always a plus side, there's always an option. You always have options. 

FLORENCE: Love it. What is missing in your life right now? 

GEORGE: I wouldn't say it's injuries, because I've got those. Good waves. 

FLORENCE: Good what? 

GEORGE: Good waves, good waves in the ocean. Yeah. 

FLORENCE: Do you surf? 

GEORGE: I surf, yeah. 

FLORENCE: Yeah. Nice, amazing. What is the greatest fear moving forward that you will overcome next? So, you've done the 75 Hard. What's next? 

GEORGE: Well, I mean, my biggest fear is still jumping out of a plane. But I can't say I'm gonna address that one, but fear of just not living to my full potential, more than anything. 

FLORENCE: Beautiful. Life is a journey. So, you know, like you said, keep your jiu jitsu mindset and go for that fear, right? That's what makes us grow and stronger. What is your favorite, by the way? You have your own podcast, and is that weekly, monthly? 

GEORGE: It's weekly and sporadically. So, I interview martial arts school owners, that's how I got it started. I'm just wanting to learn from martial arts school owners. It's called the Martial Arts Media Business Podcast. And then I, you know, as I've gathered knowledge of marketing and things, I sporadically just share thoughts and ideas that are current in the moment, and then we feature the odd case study with our clients, and so forth, as well. 

FLORENCE: And then I've seen bits and pieces on your IG, @GeorgeFourie. So, I encourage anyone in our audience today to check that out, those are really great and inspiring. 

GEORGE: Thank you. 

FLORENCE: Virtually all the tips and techniques that you sharing, so good for you. What is your favorite podcast? Besides yours, of course, that you would recommend? 

GEORGE: The Martial Arts Media? I don't listen to too many I go in and out. I guess the longest podcast that I've listened to is one of my mentors, James Schramko. From superfastbusiness.com. That's probably the most value driven podcast there is. The others I sort of move in and out of. I'll listen to a bit of Joe Rogan, if I'm interested, a bit of Tim Ferriss. I like Franklin's podcasts, super short, marketing advice. Those are the ones that I typically dive into.

FLORENCE: Awesome. Imagine the world is coming to an end. And these three lessons that you can share with the world? When will they be? 

GEORGE: Wow. The world is coming to an end. Well, the lesson is, go out and live. Go make the best of it. 

FLORENCE: Beautiful. Thank you so much, George. I want to acknowledge you for the work you are putting. I want to congratulate you for allowing people to tap into their potential. And thank you so much for joining us today and spending this hour together, I can wait to share this podcast and have the world discover what you're doing. And I hope you know I definitely took so many golden nuggets from our conversation.

And I'm sure you know everybody listening today and who will be listening from the recording will get you know, maybe we will need to have a second follow up because I still have a lot of questions. So, thank you so much. I don't know if you have any closing words. 

GEORGE: No, not really. Firstly, thanks. Thanks so much for having me, it was really great to speak to you. It's always find it funny when I'm on this side of the chat, because I'm always the guy asking, asking all the questions. Yeah, I guess just for martial arts school owners, you know, if it's been a tough year, but sitting in an area, which I'm thankful for, and I don't really like to say it's so great here, because I'm conscious of how people are struggling and you know, we got clients in the USA, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, you know, it's all over. And, you know, we had to really draw the positives of what's good and what's, you know, what's good in the martial arts industry, which a lot of people haven't been talking about. 

Your time, if you are struggling, your time is coming but sympathy, empathy, get your, you know, get your mind right, whether you like it or not people look up to you as a leader. So it's, it's your opportunity to lead people through it at the misery out into the misery, so be careful what you say on social media. Be careful of getting rowed up into politics and having ranks, because it's never a winning conversation you know? So look after your own mind I know I know it can be tough but you know look after yourself first go do something like the 75 Hard Challenge or something like that if you're if you're really struggling to get momentum back and yeah, just be in the moment and make it happen, because life is good and there's good things coming.

FLORENCE: Just wire yourself to in, like the title of our podcast. I love it. 

GEORGE: Choice, by choice. 

FLORENCE: Thank you so much, George.

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

112 – Should You Have A Martial Arts Marketing Budget?

If your martial arts marketing budget is stalling your growth, it might be time to reevaluate your strategy.

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IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How much should you really spend on marketing your martial arts business
  • Trading $1,000 for $48,000
  • When should you turn off your Facebook ads
  • And more

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

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Should you have a marketing budget for your school? When should you stop running ads? When should you continue? When should you stop marketing or give it a little break? 

Should you have a marketing budget for your school? When should you stop running ads? When should you continue? When should you stop marketing or give a little break? Important topics. So, let's jump in. 

Hey, George here, hope you're doing fantastic. So, I just got off a coaching call with our group, our Partners Power Hour session that we run a couple of times every week, and we had discussed two very separate scenarios. 

One, when you should stop running your ads, and when you should continue? And when you should have a marketing budget, when should you stick to it and when not?

Alright, so this is super important. And I really want to bring this up because I see this come up so often. And so, let's talk about the first scenario. So, one of our members, doing really, really well with their ads, with their campaign and leads are coming in. And it's really working well, right? 

So, the ads are working well, the campaigns are coming in. And we fine-tuned the conversion process of making sure that the leads that are coming in are being signed up and followed up properly, and all being signed up through our Messenger Signup Method, through messenger, through chat. And so, all that is working well. 

And so we got on the call, and our member mentioned that, you know, they brought down the budget. So, we started looking at the numbers and said, ‘Well, you know, leads aren't really coming in as they should.' So, digging into the numbers, it kind of all revealed itself, right? 

So, what it comes down to, and this is for most, is when you are attaching a budget to your marketing, then you are trading pennies for dollars, right? You're trying to save pennies and sacrificing big dollars. 

In this case, we were calculating that, you know, the next 90 days that we want to grow by at least 30 to 40 students. And so, those 30 to 40 students would calculate $48,000 worth of revenue over the year. So, that's a substantial amount and the ad spend to get there based on the conversions were well in the range of just about $1,000. 

So, the question came up – how often would you trade $1,000 for $48,000? All day long, right? You could trade $1,000 for $48,000. You'll do it all day long. But, when you don't have that big picture in front of you, and the plan is clear, it's easy to try and think that, ‘Hang on, I just need to save the dollars on my marketing.' 

But here's the thing with marketing, it's never going to run as smooth as you think. And you know, at the time of us recording this right now, you know, ads are running great. But you know, if you've done marketing for a while, you know, that's not always the case. Things happen in marketing, and sometimes marketing is not as great. 

So, when your ads are converting and you've run the numbers, and you know they're doing well, then, in my opinion, you got to milk it for what it's worth. 

As in, you know, generate the leads and signing students up until things start to break and what I mean by break, is break through to the next level, because with any growth and going from one level, you know, going from 50 students to a 100, to 200, as you know, every phase of growth, something else is going to break. 

So, and that causes some discomfort in itself. So, run the ad until something breaks, and then you know, then you can maybe look at slowing down or, you know, throttling down your growth. But, you know, we really do deep dives on that, because sometimes it's just getting in our own way of our own success. And we stop before we really need to, right? 

And, you know, all growth in any business creates discomfort, you know, you get comfortable with something, and now you got to grow and that creates discomfort and for you, you know, now you got to get more instructors, or, you know, your class is at capacity. And so, now you have a whole different scenario, a whole new proper set of problems to deal with, right? 

So, look, if your marketing campaigns are working, they might not be working tomorrow. So, go all in and, you know, fill up those classes, unless you reach to a point where like, you know, one of the other members were discussing – well, they are now at full capacity, and so they're trimming down all their classes, but they are running a wait list, which is super powerful as well. And, you know, so we have a whole different story and a whole other strategy with that. 

But, hey, if you are trimming down your growth, because you have a marketing budget, and you know how to run and your numbers are looking good, then take away that budget and start growing. That's a, look, if you need help with getting clear on those numbers, and knowing when you should be growing and you should be slowing down, reach out, maybe watch this video, send us a message. Maybe we can help. Anyway, have a good week. I'll speak to you soon. 

 

Here are 3 ways we can help scale your school right now.

1. Join the Martial Arts Media™ community.

It's our new Facebook community where martial arts school owners get to ask questions about online marketing and get access to training videos that we don't share elsewhere – Click Here.

2. Join the Martial Arts Media™ Academy and become a Case Study.

I'm working closely with a group of martial arts school owners this month. If you'd like to work with me to help you grow your martial arts school, message me with the word ‘Case Study'.

3. Work with me and my team privately.

If you would like to work with me and my team to scale your school to the next level, then message me with the word ‘private'… tell me a little about your business and what you would like to work on together and I'll get you all the details.

Enjoyed the show? Get more martial arts business tips when you subscribe on iTunes for iPhone or Stitcher Radio for Android devices.

***NEW*** Now available on Spotify!

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Use of Testimonials

In accordance to with the FTC guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, please be aware of the following:

Testimonials that appear on this site are actually received via text, audio or video submission. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who have used our products and/or services in some way. They are individual results and results do vary. We do not claim that they are typical results. The testimonials are not necessarily representative of all of those who will use our products and/or services.

The testimonials displayed in any form on this site (text, audio, video or other) are reproduced verbatim, except for correction of grammatical or typing errors. Some may have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received by the testimonial writer is displayed when it seems too lengthy or not the whole statement seems relevant for the general public.

is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted on https://martialartsmedia.com. is not a forum for testimonials, however provides testimonials as a means for customers to share their experiences with one another. To protect against abuse, all testimonials appear after they have been reviewed by management of . doe not share the opinions, views or commentary of any testimonials on https://martialartsmedia.com – the opinions are strictly the views of the testimonial source.

The testimonials are never intended to make claims that our products and/or services can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Any such claims, implicit or explicit, in any shape or form, have not been clinically tested or evaluated.

How Do We Protect Your Information and Secure Information Transmissions?

Email is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. For this reason, we request that you do not send private information to us by email. However, doing so is allowed, but at your own risk. Some of the information you may enter on our website may be transmitted securely via a secure medium known as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. Credit Card information and other sensitive information is never transmitted via email.

may use software programs to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing the number of visitors to the different sections of our site, what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, uses software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy, currency or completeness of the content contain on this website or any sites linked to this site.

All the materials on this site are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of merchantability, noninfringement of intellectual property or fitness for any particular purpose. In no event shall or its agents or associates be liable for any damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of profits, business interruption, loss of information, injury or death) arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials, even if has been advised of the possibility of such loss or damages.

Policy Changes

We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy at any time with or without notice. However, please be assured that if the privacy policy changes in the future, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this privacy policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this privacy policy, without your prior consent.

We are committed to conducting our business in accordance with these principles in order to ensure that the confidentiality of personal information is protected and maintained.

Contact

If you have any questions regarding this policy, or your dealings with our website, please contact us here:

Martial Arts Media™
Suite 218
5/115 Grand Boulevard
Joondalup WA
6027
Australia

Email: team (at) martialartsmedia dot com

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