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“Do a great job and people will find you.” I bet you have heard this or something like it. For many of you, I imagine that this exact thought is the one that keeps you up at night, and anxiety-filled during the day. You are doing a great job, you do have the credentials, you have been doing it consistently for years, and yet, people don’t seem to be finding you. I know you, I know how this feels, and I know how intensely frustrating this reality can be. Today, I want to help you do the small things that become the big thing that will help people find you, because you are doing great things, and they should be finding you.
In 2014 I found myself owning a gym, a chiropractic clinic, and a fitness event company. I was working 16 hour days Monday through Friday and I was working 12 hour Saturdays. I spent my Sundays in continuing education resources, reading articles, and trying to clear my mind of the reality that I was making less than $30,000/year. I had been training clients for almost a decade at this point, and my wife was pregnant with our first daughter (I have three now). I found myself on a walk with my wife, we were heading northbound on Laurelton Boulevard in Long Beach, NY, there was a white picket fence on my right, the beach was behind me, and my wife said the words that would change my life, and hers, and thousands of other people’s - “Sean, I love you, and I don’t want to be a single Mom.”
I knew what this meant, she wasn’t threatening divorce, or murder, she was just making sure that I knew she wanted me around more for her and for the new baby. At this point I had all of the testimonials, I had treated all of the patients who no one else could help, I had worked with athletes in collaboration with vast medical teams because of the extensive damage that the athlete was recovering from.
In one severe case, I was helping a defensive end on a scholarship who ended up getting tossed from the bed of a pickup truck on a main road (he was holding down a kiddie pool), breaking his fall with his head, and spending almost three months in a coma. This kid had just learned how to walk and talk again, and it was my job to get him back to a functional member of society, he would never play football again, but he works on huge shipping boats now as an engineer, and he carries heavy chains around the ship when needed.
I was really, really good at what I did. I tell you this so that you know, I do know you, I know how hard you work, I know what's on the line, and I know what I had to learn in order to start making the moves to build a financially freeing and emotionally fulfilling career and life.
There is no quick fix, but you can get off to a fast start. What I’m about to tell you is sac-religious in strength and conditioning, and fitness circles, but f*ck the circles, they’re not working… Stop studying to be a better coach. Stop studying exercise physiology, stop reading research articles, start choosing your CEU courses based on which require the least time and attention. Take all of the time, all of the attention, all of the energy, all of the intensity that you bring to your ongoing education as a coach right now, and place it in your efforts to learn three skills; sales, marketing, and leadership.
Start with sales. The reason I want you to start with sales is that if everyone in the world finds you, and you can’t get any of them to buy (your service with their money or your idea with their belief), it doesn’t matter that they came, they didn’t stay. In fact, it may be worse if they come and you can’t close because there will be an audience of people who you spoke with who decided you weren’t the fit for them, and they were wrong, you just couldn’t sell.
Resources for you to learn how to sell that I used:
Free resources for you to learn how to sell that I created:
Sales is a skill set that will improve with time and intentional practice. I have had thousands of sales calls in the last three years. I record and watch almost all of them the way you would tell an athlete to watch game film. Improve, improve, improve.
Learn marketing second. Once you have created sales skills that allow you to close 60% of the people who you deem appropriate for your services, you have the knowledge, and you just need to fine-tune to get yourself to 85% (This is what I believe the goal should be for people who SHOULD be buying from you. You won’t close them all, and you shouldn’t close some). Gaining marketing skills will help to attract people to you, and once you get them walking through the door for your uniqueness, armed with the sales skills, you will be able to truly help people the way you intended when you became the career professional that you are.
Marketing done well allows people to step into your vision, it doesn’t trick them, it doesn’t come across as click-baity, and it makes promises that it can keep. The best marketers in the world would tell you that at least half of the people who see your marketing should not only not want to work with you, they should be turned off by what you do.
Resources for you to learn how to market that I used:
Leadership comes third. Right now you likely only need to lead yourself and a few athletes. Maybe you’re the outlier reading this and you work with teams on behalf of a University or a professional sports team, in that case, start with leadership. The value of going deep on leadership for me was that I learned how to become a better person through leadership. I had to first learn how to be a better follower, gain empathy, work harder in conversations and relationships than I ever had before, then I was able to see so clearly why I was struggling before. Leadership will become more and more important as you gain success.
As my career began taking off and athletes, coaches, and gym owners started flying across the country and over oceans to come to my place to learn, the hate arrows started coming too. Not everyone is going to want you to succeed. Not everyone is going to want your athletes to succeed. And the reason why is often because of what they believe it means about their own effort and their own methodology. They’re playing a zero-sum game. They believe that your success means no clients and no success for them. It’s not how this works, remember, rarely will you see people punching down, successful people want to see more people become successful. You are going to need to lead the people who learn from you, athletes or student coaches, on how to navigate all of the questions they’re going to get. This is where being a great leader becomes the most important thing.
I do not have any free resources or even books that I can fully endorse on leadership. I’ve gotten the overwhelming majority of my leadership skills from mentors who I paid to speed the process for me. I’ve worked with some people you may have heard of like Jesse Itzler, and people you haven’t like my current mentor, Ken Andrukow who I have been with for three years and do not have plans to leave. The reason I tell you this is because you don’t need to seek out a big name to get tremendous value. The first mentor I ever worked with who moved the needle was a member of my gym who was successful in business, you most definitely have not heard of him
I know it’s hard. I know it feels counterintuitive, try to remember that it feels the same way for all of your peers, and that’s why so many coaches struggle. Treat yourself like a business and you will become one. When you are a business, people will find you. And when people find you, you can change the world.
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