9 – Brannon Beliso: Replacing Contracts And Belt Testing Fees With Service And Martial Arts Merit Badges
Brannon Beliso shares his versatile life of being a musician, Ted Talks and teaching life principles through martial arts merit badges.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- How to avoid an unsustainable bad business model
- A different perspective and philosophy to martial arts business
- Locking people into contracts vs. giving them what they really want
- Leading a new movement of business
- The humility habit of success
- What consequences occur when kids can't deal with rejection
- And more
*Need help growing your martial arts school? Learn More Here.
You need to have a very clear vision and vision is based upon purpose. Once you understand what your purpose is, then you create a vision to facilitate that.
Hi, this is George Fourie from martialartsmedia.com and welcome to the Martial Arts Media Business podcast, episode number 9. Today, for the first time, I cross international borders and have an American guest on board, all the way from San Francisco, Mr. Brannon Beliso. Now, of course, I'm still going to be interviewing multiple Australian martial arts school owners, but the aim of this podcast is to interview guests from all over the world, anyone who is a leader in the martial arts industry that is doing great things and anybody that we can learn from. And professor Brannon Beliso is definitely on the list of one of the great leaders within the industry.
I was familiar with these one merit badge systems before I knew who Brannon was, which is basically a system, a reward system for kids. And we're going to touch a bit on that, which you might probably be familiar with already. But more importantly, we're going to talk about Brannon's philosophy on martial arts, how he got started, basically living on top of his dad's martial arts school premises when he was a kid and how he's focused on the servicing side, on providing a great service and modeling different companies on providing a great service to the martial arts industry I can assure you, lots to learn from Brannon in this episode.
Show notes and transcriptions are available on martialartsmedia.com/9, the number 9. And I would love your feedback: anybody that you recommend that I should be interviewing, any feedback on what we can improve on this show. And if you want to support us, the great way to do that is to head over to iTunes, which you'll find the link to this episode martialartsmedia.com/9. Find the link that goes over to iTunes and leave us a comment and a review. Five-star reviews help us to get up there in the rankings, but an honest review is much appreciated.
That's it from me for now- please welcome to the show professor Brannon Beliso.
GEORGE: Good day everyone, today I have with me my first American guest, professor Brannon Beliso. Brannon Beliso is all the way from Sacramento, is that right?
BRANNON: San Francisco actually, San Francisco.
GEORGE: San Francisco, all right, I got that wrong in the first few seconds of the interview. All right, we'll definitely flip it from there. Now, you might be more familiar with Brannon's program as well, which is currently called one merit badges. This is the first thing I remember from when my son started martial arts, he's getting all these badges that were really impressive because it’s got all of these successful words and complimenting words for skills and things that they achieve in their classes. And now I actually meet the man behind the whole system, which is Brannon Beliso. So, welcome to the call.
BRANNON: Thank you, thanks for having me George, I'm grateful to be here.
GEORGE: First up Brannon, let's just go back to the beginning for the people who are not familiar with you – who is Brannon Beliso?
BRANNON: Well, somebody the other day labeled me: I am a multifaceted modern-day renaissance man. And I went, wow! I've actually got a couple of books I'm working on, a children's book, I've got an actual self-help type enlightenment book coming out. As you know, I have one merit badges, which will soon be called kids love life skills, that's in 300 or 400 schools across the globe and it's very big in Australia.
I own two martial arts schools, one in San Francisco, one outside in a suburb. And we have about 900 students between the two locations. But it's a very unique business model and I'm sure that with you and a little bit… I had a big music career in Asia about 20 years ago. I've owned several other businesses. I love to create, I love to impact, I love to make a difference. Anything that allows me to do that, whatever medium offers me that, you'll find me there.
GEORGE: Ok, so I’d almost call you a true artist – not just a martial artist, but a real artist because it sounds like you're using a lot of outlets for the expression of your creativity.
BRANNON: Absolutely. Now, with social media, you'll find me at Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram – any type of social media, anyway, I can communicate. I use Facebook live, I break all the rules. It's really about content. We know content is the king, whether it’s social media or otherwise and it's producing relevant content. Not just sales-based content, but relevant content that impacts people at a much higher level. And I find that to be an art form as well.
GEORGE: What came first, the music career or martial arts?
BRANNON: I'm going to date myself a little bit George. I started martial arts back in 1967, I'm actually 55 years old. So I started in 1967. At the time, kids weren't training and my father was one of my instructors. So as a child, I’d sit in the corner for two hours a night, 3-4 days a week I believe. And I’d have to sit in Seiza, kneeling position in silence to prove to these adults I wouldn't be disruptive if I was allowed in the class.
So I actually began training in San Francisco at the age of 5. I've done martial arts my whole life, but I never really looked at it as a viable business. I see the majority of our industry, I don't know how it is there in Australia, but I would say 80-90% of the industry, maybe 100 students, the owner is the operator, he teaches, he does everything. And that's pretty much the way they exist for the entire duration of their martial arts career.
And for myself, I felt that to be a very bad business model. I didn't see this to be profitable as I believe the martial arts instructor should be. Kind of like the teachers here in America get paid so little, or politicians make so much – I think it should be the other way around. Teachers that are educating children and making an impact should make so much more money.
So I never looked at it as a business, I always thought, I was a good soldier. I taught to my father while I was running other businesses, I taught my other instructors. So it was never really a business I looked at – I have to say, though, I had a school when I was 19 years old, down in Southern California in Los Angeles. But I was a fighter, so every night was fight night – within nine months, that school was closed, so I didn't really consider that a business, it was more of a hobby that fed into my training. So I didn't succeed with that. I was a great fighter, but the school went nowhere.
GEORGE: Ok, so not to go completely off that topic, but how does a musician – and I'm a musician, this is the self-interest coming in, I play the drums very passionately in my living room. Where did the music career art come in Asia?
BRANNON: I think originally, my father managed this guy that was the Elvis Presley of the Philippines. So when he was here in America doing his shows and his tours, I was a young child. My father being a single father, I would tag along by default. So I already, at a young age developed a kinship for music. Then I started playing in bands and I did that well into my 20s.
I wasn't landing a record deal here and I got tired of being married to five guys – not to be discriminatory, but drummers are the artist! We're always turning over those drummers, right? All the time we're replacing a drummer. So we never developed the music because we're always trying to break in a new musician. I went solo, taught myself to play well enough on any one given instrument. Kept plugging along and eventually, I wasn't getting a record deal here and I landed one with Warner Brothers in Asia.
Had a top ten album, three-time ten hits. I did that for a number of years and the lifestyle was just too decadent for me. If I could just be on the stage every minute, I would be fine, but the rest of it wasn't something that really appealed to me.
So I gave it up and came back here and put out a very popular, my version of Tae Bo at the time. I liked it because it had music, it was martial arts, it was all sort of rolled up in one. So I put out of my own version that's still at Amazon, it sold quite well. And then eventually from that, I opened up my first school.
But you need to know, I think the thing with my platform or the message that I communicate with people George is, I don't believe in most of the philosophies that the martial arts industry offers us today: the contracts, the upgrades, the belt testing fees, the enrollment fees. They're always nickel-and-diming you.
When I hear that perception associated with the martial arts at all, that makes my heart very sad, when you can look into Wikipedia and you see a term McDojo, or black belt factory – that was very unappealing for me, that hurt my heart, having grown up in a martial arts school, because we actually lived above my father's martial arts school, so martial arts is a life for me. And I would never associate it with something like a used car salesman or McDonald's.
So what I set about doing George is, I created a service-based business model. And that's a huge movement. If you look at companies like Zappos, companies like Amazon, everything is working towards being more sales-based, getting rid of the sales scripts and service space, getting rid of the sales scripts – all those things are going to the side. And you look at people's social media, like Gary Vee, Vaynerchuck would say the same thing: content is king, people don't care what you know until they know that you care.
So I created this business model which is very service based. And what we've done with that, which is very unique: both my schools, collectively, the first school, we broke our first million in year seven. That grosses a million a year, that's a 30% net – that's pretty phenomenal for a school in 3700 square ft. The new school that we have, which is only 18 months old, has 330 students and is on a path to do $700,000 this year. So people are very intrigued that there is actually data now because we're replicating it, and the people that I consult also feel that way.
Because at heart level, I don't believe a martial artist who wants to sit somebody down in an office and sell them a contract. And if you ask any mom what would she prefer: a month-to-month, or a long-term contract? I think any mom's going to tell you, I would prefer month-to-month. So if we look at it from that perspective, as an industry that we want to serve our clients at a higher level, George, then we're in a whole different realm. And from that, I've created this very unique business model. I lead the movement, I would say I'm one of the only successful people doing it this way. A lot of people are doing it with no contracts, things like that, but are not very profitable and they're not very successful.
GEORGE: it’s interesting, because at the end of the day, if you follow the service based business model, if you just put your focus on delivering, if you deliver, you're going to keep a happy client, rather than keep them there under this mess of contract that keeps them there unwillingly as such. But beyond the contracts, where do you think school owners are going wrong?
BRANNON: Well, I think it's, number one, really defining your values and what your purpose is in this world. I learned at a very young age, sweeping in my grandmother's restaurant, you know these little coffee shops: I love service. I love serving people, whether I'm being paid, or not being paid. I love serving people. You come to my house, I'm the first one to cook dinner for you, and I just love to serve. So at a heart level, I understand very clearly what my purpose is in this world.
Now, to turn that into a profitable business was really the goal and loving martial arts, it went hand-in-hand. So I think that's the first thing. In martial arts, normally you buy your teacher's school or you get a black belt, you love the martial arts, so you think you're going to throw down some mats and open a school: you need to have a very clear vision and vision is based upon purpose. Once you understand what your purpose is, then you create the vision to facilitate that. Does that make sense?
GEORGE: Definitely so, definitely so.
BRANNON: Yeah. So for me, that was really important. Once I knew my vision was about service, and I wasn't going to be this guy, that sat you in an office and tried to sell you a contract. And then six months later, I'm going to upgrade you to a black belt club or a master's club or a super ninja club. Once I was clear about that, then it really had to go about creating a business model that didn't exist. There was no data in our industry because all the data is contracts, upgrades,black belt fees, retail, equipment etc. So there was no data. So I had to look outside our industry for that, but I was able to do that because my vision was very clear.
So going back to that question, where are martial arts school owners going wrong: first of all, understand your values and purpose. Second, define that clearly into vision. Then once you have a vision, then you develop an action plan and then you develop the team to facilitate that. Then you execute it on a daily basis. Because we're living in a dual purpose: I have here and I have there. Here George is, I have got to open the door, take the money, teach the classes – that's got to happen, or I have no business. But beyond that every day, I want to move my business there: what is it going to look like in 3 to 5 years? How many students, how many team members, how much revenue am I going to generate, how many locations? If that's even in your vision. Some people are perfectly content: I want 100 students, that's all I ever need, that's my vision of success.
And that's the other part about that: if you're very clear on your values, you're very clear on your vision, then who, but you, can define what is success for you? And that's the big thing with the consultants and staff. I'm going to step up and stand toe to toe with any of them: I'm tired of consultants telling you, this is what success should be for you. So what do we do? Out of fear George, what do we do? We chase these guys, we want their cars and we want their success and what they have when it may not even be your vision, to begin with.
This year, my business will do about 1.7 million – that'll work. I mean, I'm very content with that. It’s not as much as other people, but for my lifestyle, it works really, really well. Really well. So based upon that, you have to decide that. If I would make a dollar and I spend $.50, I have $.50 in the bank. I make $1 million and I spent 2 million – I'm in debt. So it’s also the lifestyle you want to create and what you determine a value, versus what isn't a value. And for me, service is just that.
And that's the first thing: be clear about your values, be clear about your purpose, make that vision, make the action plan, develop the team to facilitate it and then execute that on a daily basis. And then I think what everyone should understand: when you open up a martial arts school because you love to teach – teaching is probably the smaller part of what you're going to be doing.
Here's a great example: I love to bake, so I open up a bakery. Guess what? I'm not only baking: I'm hiring, I'm firing, I'm marketing, I'm doing payroll, I'm doing books, I have to do customer service – probably have to clean the place on my own in the beginning too, and the band played on. So recognize it's not martial arts by itself: it's the martial arts business. And I cannot just be a black belt on the mat – I have to be a black belt in advertising, Facebook ads, customer service, hiring, firing, motivating a team – I mean, there're so many facets.
And you need to know enough of each so that you can speak to an accountant in an educated, professional manner and know what you need and what to get from it. Just like if I speak to a janitor: I want to be able to know how to facilitate that best. So you need to kind of wear many hats in your business and be great at wearing those hats.
GEORGE: Excellent. I want to know more about where that there and that vision is for you. But I want to go back just one step again: as you mentioned, and as it’s known, as it is here: most martial arts business owners are not that successful. And I guess, if you take the flow of how that happens, there's a passion for martial arts, obviously there's this burning desire inside, like, I feel like I could make a better difference, I could do things better, I want to show my way of doing things. And that progresses into going for the business.
But do you think it’s hard for martial arts business owners to ask for help? Just because of the nature of martial arts, because you achieve so much going through our belts and achieving a success level in martial arts, that it’s hard to go and face the music and say, well look, I actually need help with this, instead of just being stubborn about it almost, and not asking for help? And due to that, maybe that being the cause that martial arts business owners are not that successful?
BRANNON: Well, I think we should go back to establishing the mindset, to begin with, and I'm very passionate about creating a success mindset. And that success mindset is rooted in learning. So everyday I wake up, I put on a white belt and I'm the first person to raise my hand at a seminar, I'm the guy sitting up in the front row, taking the best notes: I just want to be successful and to be successful, you have to learn, because if I'm not learning, I'm not growing. And if I'm not growing, I'm not living.
And you're right: they become a black belt and they put that black belt around their waist and it's almost like, I can't show that I'm weak. I can't show that I don't know. And it's so detrimental because I'm my own best friend, I'm my own worst enemy. And if I wake up every day and I'm my own best friend, I'm going to recognize. To be successful, I must live from a learning or a growth mindset. Because how else is my business, not only going to sustain but be growth oriented if I don't live from that place?
BRANNON: So it’s accepting that. Humbly accepting that every day, the oldest white belt is the one who woke up the earliest today, and that's it. And you're right, because they wrap too many degrees around, and then they're the master, or the grand master, the super great grand master – I don't know when that happened, because when I grew up, we had 2 things: there was Sensei, which was Japanese for teacher and there was Shīfu, which was Chinese for teacher.
And then somewhere in the 80s, I don't know what happened, all of a sudden there was a master. And then there was a grand master, then there was a great grand master and then suddenly, these guys get 50 different black belts and it just became this thing of insecurity and everybody trying to one up another one. It should be the actual opposite direction: the higher I get in the martial arts, the less I know.
I'm not afraid of what I don't know: I'm afraid of what I do know George because that's what limits my thinking, that's what narrows my vision, and that's when ego and insecurity dominate that and then I'm at a loss. So if I can wake up every day, strap on that white belt, and live from a humble learning mindset, I don't believe I can't be successful. It's impossible.
GEORGE: All right, excellent. Brannon, you were heading in the direction of the “ there“ and the vision, the vision that you have – do you mind sharing a bit more about your vision?
BRANNON: Yeah, my vision is to change the world. That's it. And I'm going to start with the martial arts industry and work my way out. I love the martial arts, I was born on the mat and I'll die on the mat. I love being a martial artist. So I want to change the industry and that first part is recognizing one: you don't have to suffer for your art, and two, you don't have to be a McDojo and be a terrible martial artist and a great businessman. I don't believe that I think that's old thinking and it needs to be eliminated.
I think you can have quality martial arts and be extremely profitable. It's like a fine restaurant and I really promote that vision. So that vision today as part of that is recognizing. Number one is the food in the restaurant, and that is the curriculum we deliver. It's the same thing. Food = curriculum. You want to put a bad restaurant out a business – give them great marketing. And that's what bothers me with the consultants, that's what bothers me with the majority that's out there. Everything's marketing, marketing, marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing, but they never get into what's the quality of the product and how to improve that product.
So curriculum is the food in the restaurant. Second is the staff. The waiter, the busboy, the hostess – well, that's your teaching staff and are they delivering that food, or in this case the curriculum at the highest level. I spend a lot of money on curriculum development, I spend a lot of money on staff training. Those two things are very, very important to me. Then three, fulfilling our purpose of service. So we develop systems and teachings to teach people to serve better. So really, first it’s that vision and then I want to reach a bigger audience and that's where the one merit badge comes in, soon to be kids love life skills.
I don't know if I'm just getting older, but I see the challenge for children today with iPads and technology and everything. There's a huge disconnect – respect is not a bad word, self-discipline is not a bad word, we should not be afraid to be parents. We should not be afraid to challenge our kids, we need to stop pacifying them, we need to hold them accountable, we need to give them the tools to be successful. And so my vision on a bigger stage is to facilitate learning for parents, for coaches for educators, for instructors on how to teach life skills. Cause life skills aren't taught anywhere. Maybe in church on a very small way, but it's not taught in everyday life, which it needs to be, even in martial art schools.
I think for the majority, we need to do a better job. You wouldn't go to the football coach and say, Hey, teach my son focus and discipline, but you would walk into a martial arts school and demand that. And if we don't have some type of written, proven system in place, then we're just spinning our wheels with life skills. So I think that needs to change too.
And then lastly, my vision on a bigger platform is to speak, to travel, which I'm doing so much more and affecting every business. Any type of business that believes in service, believes in people before profits, that believes in raising that bar and developing a culture, developing a tribe where their team wins, where their clients win, where everybody can prosper – that to me is the future. Fortunately, being here in San Francisco George, I have right in my backyard, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Google, Youtube – everybody's here. Everybody's here, so this movement of being in a service-based business, where everything is month-to-month and where we aspire to serve you, is really something I get to be immersed in on a daily basis. So I’d like to spread that further too.
GEORGE: That's awesome, yes, you're definitely at the heart, the foundation of where all the top startups of the world are positioned. I’d imagine you'd almost feel that when you wake up, just that buzz of business and passion on a day-to-day basis.
BRANNON: Yeah, absolutely! We have Tesla here! We get Elon Musk right here my backyard, and want to talk about an artist! Creating all the time, and what I learned from him is you don't have to know to go. He knew nothing about space travel or anything. He decides he wants to colonize in space – boom! Developed a new wing. This guy developed PayPal, I mean, it’s incredible just to see that type of inspiration here.
And of course, Apple’s in my own backyard with Steve Jobs, God bless his soul, so just to see that. Creating balance is the other thing that I see, the work-life balance. Zuckerberg fights for that in Facebook with his people. And I'm striving to create that with my team, I don't want to burn people out, I want them to love to come to work, I want them to love to live their life outside of work. So it’s supporting that in every way possible, so yeah, I wake up to that buzz every day. Every day and I'm very grateful for that.
GEORGE: I want to get back to the one merit badges that are now changing over to kids love life skills – how did this come about and if you can just give a bit of a background for those that are not familiar with the program?
BRANNON: Absolutely. I walked in a guy's school and I say, well how do you teach discipline? He says it's up there on the wall. What do you mean it's up there on the wall? Anyone can hang a sign that says discipline, how do you teach it? Well, if you do 5000 kicks, you have discipline. I said, no you don't, you have a really good kick. Again – teach me how you teach discipline? So I saw that huge disconnect and I knew as far as being a premium service, being able to fulfill that client's needs, going back to everybody's walking in the martial arts school, demanding you teach focus and discipline. I felt a huge gap, a huge disconnect. And the other thing I saw out there was every life skill system that was available is very task driven. And why don't tasks work?
I’ll give you my example. I was judging at a tournament in forms. Kid step into the ring, had a black belt, right? Black belt kid, perfect respect, perfect eye contact, perfect focus, perfect form discipline – everything. First place trophy. I looked over 10 minutes later, that same kid had his black belt tied around his head and he was kicking and punching his friend. So does he really possess those life skills, or was he simply dancing for the prize? I believe he was simply dancing for the prize and that's the problem in our culture as a whole. I want people to love to learn, not appear smart. I believe if you love to learn, you're learning, you will be smart.
But they put the cart before the horse, it's the same thing here. They say yes to your face, and then they turn their back and they're dropping the F-bomb. Or on the flipside, in our industry you've got leaders dropping the F bomb left and right.And I think it’s just so backward now. And of course we have the election coming up and we know we've got Trump on one side, who has no problem saying anything about anyone.
I think that's wrong, I just think it's wrong. I think we as the leaders need to teach. Going back several years before that, I really decided I wanted to develop a life skill system that was more organic. People say, what do you mean by that? You're from San Francisco, OK, I get it, you're organic. No, no, no – what I meant by that is, where people learn a life skill like focus, they practice a life skill, like focus. Then it becomes a habit through that practice, and it becomes part of their nature. So instead of saying, you have to do these 10 things to get a focus badge, we look for signs by planting seeds, by creating opportunities, environments, exercises where people organically are experiencing focus, not just simply learning it.
It’s like when you took a history class, remember that? Memorize a bunch of useless information, got a great grade in the class and as soon as that history class was over, we forgot all of it. It had zero impact on our life, zero. And I recognize that too, I watched all the students doing these pages and pages of these life skill systems that are out there, and I'm going, it’s much like as a fighter: when I step into the ring, I used three or four techniques. So I had to learn discipline.
If I can't write a match in one short page, I better go back and rewrite it again. I'm either being very repetitive, I'm adding a bunch of fodder that's useless, so I had that discipline. Every document at the student-parent handout, which we give to the parents to utilize, but we don't tell them what they have to do: we simply say, read this.
Apply it to the dynamics in your house and you choose how they earn this badge at home. So again, holding the parent accountable, involving the community – all those different elements. And it is a little, as we say, kum ba yah, cause people, I want them to become critical thinkers, not sheep. No, tell me the 10 things I must do to get this… No, no, no, no, no, no – you tell me the 10 things you want your student to do to get that focus badge.
BRANNON: See, we live in this instant gratification, quick fix society where people want it all done for them. I think that what's lacking, because now again – I'm going to date myself George. I grew up when there were no computers, right? There was none of that. Nowadays, if I don't know something, I just Google it. Look at a video on Youtube. So that critical thinking is being bred out of people methodically, because of technology. And there needs to be that balance, where we're critically thinking through every challenge that we have. Because at the end of that critical thinking and solving a challenge you might have in your life, is self-esteem, is self-confidence, is a self-worth you feel from figuring something out. So one merit badges basically assimilate those different philosophies.
GEORGE: Great. What I like about it is it’s covering all modalities: it’s kinesthetic , so it’s physical because the kids are earning it and they’re working for it. Then it’s verbal, they get it from their instructor, well done, you get the focus badge. it’s visual, audio, and kinesthetic . I remember my son, his last martial arts gi was kind of unbalanced because he had all these badges on the one side. But the pride that the kids feel when they earn that, and they really earn it because they put the hard work into it to get it, and they wear it with pride, definitely.
BRANNON: Well, that's why it’s called a badge. It's not a patch, it’s like a badge of honor, they're earning this. And that's the key thing that you picked up right away as a parent George: sitting there in the audience, watching your child in the martial arts school, is that they learn to earn things. Because we are earning our whole life. We're earning our personal self-respect, we're earning our wages, we're earning for building a business, we're earning the respect of our team – we're constantly learning things. And I think the quick fix, give your kid everything, where they believe they're entitled, is a huge mistake and a huge injustice that we're giving our children. They should learn to earn things, that is very crucial to their development. I believe that.
GEORGE: I had a conversation about this a few days ago, that I think we're going to see the repercussions of this way of teaching. Everybody gets a reward, everybody gets participation awards, nobody has to earn anything – and I hate to be negative, I'm certain there's going to be some repercussions in the next few decades of this whole lack of education and getting people to earn what they learn basically.
BRANNON: Well yes, because they believe they're entitled. With minimal effort, they have this misconception that they're great at something when they're not. It started that way here, you see 3-4 years old, my son was playing baseball – they never kept score, everybody got the same trophy and everybody got on base. And I went, what? That doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever because you know what? Some people win, some people lose. There is first place, there is second-place, there is third – that's life. And if you can't handle disappointment or process disappointment – I do some of my best learning lying flat on my face George. Flat on my face! I don't learn to be comfortable and complacent: I learn when things are challenging, I learn when life asks me to step up and swing that bat when there's nothing left.
That's a huge difference. We're already witnessing it, we had it here a while back, where a young man who is very pretty well off at one of the colleges, wanted to date a certain ethnicity of women and the girls wouldn't date him. So he was so bummed out, he killed his three roommates, went over to the sorority house, killed a couple of them, then drove his $70,000 Beamer to a downtown area hitting people till he shot himself. Because he simply couldn't handle the disappointment and the rejection that came with that.
Rejection is necessary for life. We need to learn to process rejection, disappointment, failure – that's just part of life. And if you can embrace it and learn to embrace it as a positive and make it work for you, that's very important. I've had parents come up to me, I really think my child should have earned a badge. They didn't earn a badge in class, and that kid has. I hear you there ma'am: here you go. Here's a student-parent handout, I will give you the badge and you can choose how you want them to earn it. And then they go, wow – OK. And then they're even tougher on their kid then we were in class.
So I think that it's just an awakening and I agree with you George, we need to awaken people to that. Children simply mimic what we teach them and that's the truth. Of course, they have their own individuality, their own expression, but when the day is done, we as educators must recognize. If I take a seed and I stick it in the dark and I never water it and leave it on a paper towel, it will not grow. I give it fertile soil and fertilizers, and good water and I play Mozart to it, and I stick it in the sunlight every day, it's got a better chance of growing strong, right?
BRANNON: So yeah, I'm very passionate about that as you can hear. Cause I have children myself, right now, I have a five and a seven-year-old. And I see that. And my children learn things and they do have more than I ever had growing up as a child, but they will never walk around as if they're entitled. I'll be the first one to check them on that.
GEORGE: Excellent. Brannon, just a few more questions, I want to touch on the TED talk and how that came about. And for the people that aren't familiar with TED, how would you describe TED?
BRANNON: I think TED is a very unique culture. Their demands are very high, very stringent. I speak all over the world, I teach all over the world – haven't been to Australia yet, but I know they're going to bring me out there soon. It'd be a great thing to go to Australia. It really is, TED is a movement, TED is a culture and it's about critical thinking. And it could be a highschool kid, it could be a philosophy professor, to a scientist, to a fireman – anybody that's a critical thinker that's trying to make a difference, trying to impact the world – TED will definitely look at you.
So I submitted a tape, I submitted my philosophy, who I am to TED. And a local TED event contacted me. And I've never had to do this: I had to submit a full written 18-minute speech what I was going to present on. They countered it, crossed it out, edited a bunch of stuff. I had to go to a rehearsal, two rehearsals, and a dress rehearsal – it was intense. But it taught me to be a better speaker, it tested my conviction on what I believe and mine was being happy on purpose.
And I spoke about happiness as a choice and what it takes to facilitate that choice of wanting to be happy. Because we live in a very cynical, negative world and I think it takes a lot to be happy. When you are happy, people want to pull you down and there's negativity, so it's really about what it takes to be happy, so it was called happy on purpose. And it's out there, I think they pulled it down because I wasn't happy with the edits. It was shot very poorly, it needed work. I had one of my people clean it up as much as possible, it will be back up at the TED site soon enough I believe.
GEORGE: Ok, well as soon as it’s up, we will link to that here in the show notes, or actually include it in the post right below here. Brannon, thank you very much for your time. There's a lot of points that you hit that I can hear you're so passionate about. I’m not fond of asking this question, but I have to ask it to you: is there anything that you'd like to share that I didn't ask you and that I didn't lead into?
BRANNON: I think we're at real crossroads in the martial arts industry. I think people believe they have to suffer for their art, and if they're in any shape, way or form profitable, they feel guilty, almost ashamed of it and I think that needs to change. I think we, as true martial artists, need to take back our industry from these salesmen. We need to take it back from these consultants, that every slick oil salesman that's trying to sell you, I’ll get you 1000 students in six months – all that needs to be done away with. I think we need to become a culture based business that's rooted deeply in service and values – and we need to be clear about our purpose and responsibly and transparently market to people and believe in our product at the highest level.
I used the Disneyland experience: you don't walk into Disneyland and they make you sign a contract to pay for next year. You walk into Disneyland, you go for that one day, they create a memorable experience and guess what: you come back again and again. And people do that from decade to decade, from the time they were a child until they become an old person. And I think it's really, really important.
We're at a crossroads and I see people are just throwing up their hands in desperation, they're giving their last penny to these guys. And I'm a consultant, so I know I'm shooting myself in the foot with this, but you really need to know who you are. You really need to spend that time. Go on a walkabout as you say there. Go on a walkabout and really understand why you're here in this world, what your purpose is. Because once you can truly understand that and your vision is clear, guess what? The law of attraction.
The right mentors will come to you. You will see them, they will gravitate. And those type of unities will happen. It needs to happen, cause I'm feeling it here. I feel like it's the dark side against the Jedi knights. And we're fighting, because people are desperate, they're giving up and they're just falling in line with the fitness industry and their marketing practices and I don't think we should be doing that. I think it's short-term, it's shortsighted and long-term, we're going to end up hurting our industry more by doing that.
GEORGE: I love it! Brannon, thank you so much. If anybody wants to get in touch for you, where’s the best place to get in touch with you?
BRANNON: Oh yeah, of course. At several places, you'll find me on Facebook as Brannon Beliso, you'll find me at Instagram, Pinterest. You'll find me on Snapchat as well. But you can go to brannonbeliso.com, all my services are there as well. You can go to my Youtube channel, there're tons of motivational videos, I post tons of free content. People call me the robin hood of the industry because I'm out there.
Also, what people are actually telling me is, don't post so much, you're hurting us. You're posting too much free content, how are we supposed to sell any of this? Well, I think you can only keep what you have by giving it away. And when the day is done, if I can make a huge difference – so be it. But my services themselves, my online videos you can purchase, different things like that are at brannonbeliso.com, and you'll find me on every social media outlet.
GEORGE: Excellent, thank you very much for your time, Brannon.
BRANNON: Thank you, sir, thank you, George, for having me. All the people there in Australia – thank you for supporting one merit badges, thank you for supporting my vision. I know I see a lot of you at the super show and the different places I speak. I know that we're kicking around the idea of me coming to Australia: don't let that one go, I would love to come out there and share this and give it a new sense of hope and possibilities of what we can do as true martial artists, who are a great businessman and be externally profitable. So thank you George.
GEORGE: Thank you very much.
And there you have it – thank you very much for listening. So: how did you like the interview? Did you get value from it? Is there something that stood out for you? How do you feel about Brannon's philosophy and perspective of delivering service and everything else that he discussed? Please let us know, head over to martialartsmedia.com/9 and leave us a comment below the show notes and transcriptions.
Thanks again for tuning in – I’ll catch you next week. Cheers.
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