The Black Belt Business Podcast

Creating Alignment on a Growing Coaching Staff - Michael Phipps & Jordan Shipman (E37)

Sep 26, 2023

 We're back! In this episode of the Blackbelt Business Podcast, we feature Easton Kids BJJ Program Director Jordan Shipman and our Longmont academy’s Muay Thai Department Head, Micheal Phipps. Along with the podcast host, Eliot Marshall, our guests discuss what it means to have a north star, course-correction, and systemizing academy processes to successfully scale a people-centric operation.

Eliot Marshall: What's up everyone? Welcome to the Blackbelt Business Podcast. I'm your host Eliot Marshall, and it is my goal with each episode of this podcast to share the stories, strategies, tactics, tools and resources that will help you establish or grow your martial arts school. The Blackbelt Business Podcast is brought to you by Easton Online. You can find all of our digital courses, martial arts curriculum and resources designed to help you enhance your business at So without further ado, let's jump into the episode.

All right. Good job, fellas. All right, I'm glad we did that. Everyone, welcome back, Blackbelt Business Podcast, Easton Online. Go check us out, Easton_Online on Instagram. If you have any questions, fill out all that stuff and we will get back to you. Phipps, Jordan, what up fellas? How we doing?

Jordan Shipman: What's up? Doing great.

Michael Phipps: Howdy. 

Eliot Marshall: What is it, Friday afternoon? Nice, rainy Friday afternoon? We're down here in the office-

Jordan Shipman: Breaking the heat. 

Eliot Marshall: Yeah, finally. Right? Finally. 

Jordan Shipman: It's been nice. 

Eliot Marshall: It's been nice. Man, I've had one question really that I've been thinking about all day, and I think a lot of our academy owners think about the same thing, and I don't want to talk about core values because we talk about core values enough. I think everyone knows that you have to have core values and all that stuff. But Goddamn motherfuckers, how do you get people to do the work? How do you get people to teach the class they're supposed to teach in the way that they're supposed to teach them, and some actual particulars? Now, I agree with you, core values are super important. That's what gets them bought in and all of that. But we talk about them so much. We talk about them so much. How about some nitty-gritty? 

Dude, why are you teaching the class that way when it so obviously says teach the class this way? And we can take that to everywhere in the school. We can take it to the GM role that you used to play. Come on, man, make the phone calls the way the phone calls are written out and we've shown you videos to be made.

Jordan Shipman: I have thoughts. I want Phipps to go first, though. 

Eliot Marshall: Do your damn job. Phipps, how do you get people to do their damn job? You're a DH. Right? 

Michael Phipps: Yeah. 

Eliot Marshall: You're a DH. So, to explain to everyone your job a little bit, it comes down to you. You're a DH of one school. It's your job to get a particular instructor or all the instructors of Longmont to teach the class how they're supposed to be taught.

Michael Phipps: Yeah, this is an important question. This is a question I ask myself a lot, and also this is a question I do not have the answers to right now. I am constantly thinking, "What do I need to do to make sure that everyone on the striking team in Longmont is on the same page?" And I think every one of the coaches has been trained really well, and I think they all teach great classes. But I go in and I see different things, like just small aspects of the class that exactly like you said, why are you teaching it like ... Where did this come from? And I think part of it comes down to just a natural entropy. You get done shadowing, you know exactly how classes are supposed to be taught. You've been taught exactly how class is supposed to go, and you come out of the gate and you're killing it. But over time, things change. You get a little bit more comfortable, you get a little bit more lax in your preparation and the entropy occurs.

And slowly you start falling off the center line. You start diverting, and it's just little by little. And then in my position, I don't teach too many intro level classes, too many kickboxing classes. So, when we start training a new kickboxing coach I'm relying on the veterans on the striking team to do that, but they're slightly off course right now. And so, then we just get more and more off course. So, I've really been trying to rack my brain about how to bring everyone back. And I think I'm not doing any of this yet, but I'm like, "Okay, we need to go back to something that Jordan used to do as the GM/defacto BJJ department head is he would come in and he would evaluate once a year maybe, once every couple quarters, he'd come in and evaluate our classes. 

And he talked to us about what the evaluation means, and all the good things in class, and all the things that we need to be doing to be back on the same course together. And as a DH, I haven't been doing that but I'm going to start doing that, because that's something I don't know. I don't have the answers and I would like to hear what Jordan's been thinking about.

Eliot Marshall: I'm going to interrupt you for a second. And just so that we don't just shit on people who have diverged from what the standard is. When I was up in Longmont a couple months ago with the Easton Online guys I said I would teach the Jiu-Jitsu classes, or Phil asked me to. I was like, "Yeah, let's go. I'll do it." And I had a fundamentals class first, and I haven't taught a fundamentals class since COVID. And when I lined everyone up I was like, "Oh God, the warmup."

Michael Phipps: How does it go?

Eliot Marshall: I was like, "I don't know the warmup." I was like, "I don't remember the warmup. I haven't taught a warmup in two and a half years." The fundamentals warmup. I mean, so I just owned it. I was like, "Yo guys, I'm going to butcher this warmup. Let's just get through it. My fault." So, it's a natural thing that happens. All of these things that you're just talking about, whether it's, what was the word? Entropy, you said?

Michael Phipps: Yes, mm-hmm. 

Eliot Marshall: Okay. Or whether it's like you think you got it a little bit, you want to put your own flare on it a little bit. And every instructor goes through this. So, we're not talking about any of this to be like, "Oh man, the coaches up in Longmont are fucking shitty, and different," or any of that. This is natural at every school, every academy across the country. Jordan, go.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, it is natural. I like that word, entropy because I do think it's human nature to, whatever we're doing, whether it's just growing older or we get really good at something, and then over time the entropy happens and we decay. I've encountered this a lot, this model of going to different places, and evaluating, and trying to make sure that they're staying the course and that entropy hasn't veered too far off course. That's a big part of the program director role.

Eliot Marshall: So, let's stop for a second. Let's understand your role again real fast, just in case this is somebody's first time. Jordan, you're the program director. Your job is mostly to deal with the DHs of a program, not Phipps' particular program, but you deal a lot with DHs so that they're then going and making sure that their instructor ... So, you're a level above there as far as the passing it down. You're not dealing with the actual instructor for say in Denver on the mat so much, you're dealing with that-

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, not always. I mean, sometimes I do work directly with an instructor if they happen to be there teaching on the day that I'm visiting and there's something I want to talk to them about. But more often than not, it gets funneled through the DH, and in the DH at each program, the department head is who we should be looking to to set the model, like what Phipps just described. Everybody's modeling the way that he taught the classes, and he's modeling himself off of the Muay Tai program director, who's Sean Madden. So, Sean Madden has a way that he has the vision, the Easton vision of the way these things go. He imparts that vision to Phipps, and then he imparts that to the instructors, and so on and so forth. But what I've noticed, and I encountered this at the GM level and I'm seeing this so much across all of the schools now that we've been doing these podcasts, and I'm at the point now where I've probably been to every school over the last seven months, like two to three times now.

And so, I've really started to develop this clear, elevated perspective of what's going on, and I'm going to back up and use my experience of what happened at the GM level. So, I noticed that at a certain point there was a generation of fundamentals instructors on the Jiu-Jitsu side. And again, this isn't to shit on anybody, this is just an observation, is that the energy level in the fundamentals classes weren't what the previous generation of fundamentals instructors was. So I was investigating and I'm like, "Why did this occur?" So, the fundamentals instructors that shadowed me, that modeled me, they hit the mark. The fundamentals instructors that shadowed a different crop, I wasn't involved anymore because I had replaced myself, that was where we started to lose some fidelity. And I realized across the board, this is like a game of telephone. This is the organizational problem of scale.

This is what everybody deals with, and this is why a lot of schools don't duplicate, why they don't scale. We know there's people we're friends with that own schools that have no aspirations to have a second one, because they don't want to deal with the headache. Because being people dependent in one school is easy. When you have two schools, if you are people dependent, scaling and maintaining the fidelity of the culture, of the systems, of the product becomes much more difficult because every single person that you might be depending on has their own interpretation and perspective of what's going on.

Eliot Marshall: And look, they're your student, and they're probably shorter on the journey than you are and not as good as you may be.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, that's part of it. Experience, and skill, and inherent talent, these are all pieces of it but just all things considered equal, this problem still exists. So, what I've noticed is that the chain of communication, being people dependent makes this problem very difficult to tackle. Because if we're just like, "Okay, the program director goes, models the class, the staff sees it." Okay, I still have no control, even though I might've taught the best fucking class that they've ever seen, I have no control over what they did or did not pay attention to. Or what their interpretation of what they just saw was. I've heard this happen where I'm going around, I'm pumping the kids up, I'm yelling, I'm cheering and stuff like that. And then I've heard some people who have observed me doing that, they just see it as me yelling at the kids to get them pumped up.

They don't actually hear the specific Jiu-Jitsu feedback that I'm giving them, or they don't see the praise, correct, praise tactic that I'm using to get them pumped up. They don't realize this is part of my three by three where I'm trying to make them feel seen and heard. They may not get all that, they just have their interpretation of it, and that may or may not be an accurate interpretation of reality. And so, if they didn't understand something and there's a gap in their understanding, well then they fill it in the best they know, and then that's really where you start to lose fidelity. It really is the game of telephone that we all played in kindergarten. Just the further you get away from the source, it loses quality. So, my hypothesis and what I'm really trying to tackle now is how do we create sources that scale?

How do we reduce the ability to erroneously interpret something? If you go and teach a class at a school and all these instructors see it, and then it's six months before you go and teach another class. Well, there's a whole crop of staff who have never seen that model. Right now we're very people dependent in the way that we do things. Our entire meeting structure even I think is very people dependent. So, if we can set out to devise pipelines and systems that centralize these models, if we had some sort of class that existed in the ether that every time somebody was trained up, they were all looking and watching at the same thing, and there was some sort of assessment to discern whether or not they interpreted this model the way that we want them to, if we can do that and use that as the way to disseminate these things then I think that we've started to chip away at this problem of scale. And I hope I'm articulating this well because I see it in my head, but I also don't think it's a silver bullet.

Eliot Marshall: It can't be, because I was just about to say, because part of the best class you've ever taught is the feeling in the room, and you cannot get that other than by being in the room. You have to be in the room to get that.

Jordan Shipman: Right, you do. And then this is cool because I'm going to tie this back to a conversation that Phipps and I had, and this is a project that we started and I hit pause because I realized I needed to rewind and work on some other things before I get back to this. But we're trying to create a video model of a kids class, and one thing that we talked about was, man, we can record it, they can see how I do it. They can see the structure, we can do voiceover, we can explain all these things, but they're not going to feel the energy. And I agree. I think the hallmark difference between an amazing class and a good class is when I'm sitting on the sidelines and it's awesome to be there. I go to some schools, I watch some kids' instructors, and it is magic just being in that room.

You look down the sidelines, you see the parents, they're not on their phones. They're buddy-buddy with each other, they're having fun, they're engaged. Then you go to some classes and there's nothing interesting calling their attention on the sidelines. And it feels different. It doesn't feel good to be in the room. But I think, just like we were talking about Oppenheimer as we were getting set up, how Christopher Nolan used the language of cinema to create an experience so you could feel what the character is feeling. And then I'm getting really off track here, but I think, I hope that there's a way artistically that we can start to create these models and use the language of these mediums of video and cinema to where we can try and duplicate as skillfully as possible the energy. If we can create a really badass video that feels just as cool to watch as it is to be in the room during a kids class, we'll start to chip away at that. But it's never going to be-

Eliot Marshall: You're never going to replace it.

Jordan Shipman: No, it's never going to be the same but we can work in that direction.

Eliot Marshall: You're never going to replace the energy of Renzo on the mat with him, and how he says it, and the things that he does and interacts with everyone. And even when he's yelling at someone and asking them, "Yo man, what the fuck?" In a vacuum, let's just say on the bat, and I'll use me for an example, in a vacuum, if you just hear me be like, "Motherfucker, what are you doing?" You're like, "Oh my God. Oh my God." But if you're in the class feeling the energy, knowing who I'm talking to and all of that, it can be just fine.

Jordan Shipman: The context is different, yeah. You understand. 

Eliot Marshall: It can add to the feeling of the class, without a doubt. So I agree with you, we're never going to, but it could aid in. It could aid in. 

Jordan Shipman: It can aid.

Eliot Marshall: And then when they see the person, so when they watch it and then they experience it, now it helps their perception change to be like, "Okay, this is the north star that I'm looking for."

Jordan Shipman: Right. Ad that's what I'm talking about is there has to be some sort of model and system to where the north star that everybody is aiming at is consistent every single time. Because if you rely on people to be that north star, man, I don't teach the same class every time I teach. Like man, sometimes-

Eliot Marshall: Even if it's the same class.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, even if it's the same class. I mean, just Wednesday this week, man, I was just having a rough day and I really had to do a lot of work, a lot of emotional labor to pull myself out of that and teach the class. That's completely different if I had been rolling in there having the best day of my life, I'm going to be in a completely different zone. They're still both are great classes, but there's one that I want to be the model that everybody aims at. And I've been encountering this problem as I invite the department heads from the other schools to come up to the school that I teach at so they can see what I do. And then that way when I'm making recommendations to them, they've seen an example of what I'm talking about and what can be achieved. But man, there's all these different variables.

Like man, sometimes they show up and the attendance isn't as strong as I would like, and so that has an inherent effect on the energy. So, it's not quite the same. And sometimes they show up on the right day and it's lightning in a bottle, and I'm like, "Yes, you saw what the potential is here. And now I know that you really have a strong model that you're aiming at." So, these things can fluctuate. And even though, and I'll just use a video as an example, if we have a video model of what the best class is that we're all aiming at, even though that can never fully replace the in-person experience, and we're not trying to, what it does allow us to do is it gives us a systematic, consistent, every single time set of inputs for every single person. So, if we notice at a foundational level that something is missing, then we can tweak our inputs until we're getting the outputs that we desire.

I'm not saying it's impossible when you're people dependent, but to really do it well you really have to shift to making a systems dependent company. I mean, this goes back to the e-myth, system dependent versus people dependent. But I think it's really difficult to think in that way. And I am not trying to toot my own horn or anything like that, it's just I go back to Ray Dalio's book, Principles, and I can't remember what the five dimensions were but something that Ray Dalio does in his company is he takes every individual that he works with and he creates a baseball card for them. And on the back of the card he has stats of their strengths and weaknesses. And so, he literally cold-heartedly will design teams based on stats. And he's like, "If you want to have a successful company-

Eliot Marshall: No, his stats are traits. 

Jordan Shipman: Traits, yeah. Or ways of thinking. And so, this big picture, systematic style of thinking is an aspect of what it takes to be really good at business or build a successful company. He's like, "I know very few people in this world that are good at all of these types of thinking." And he's like, "I include myself. I myself am not good at all of these things," and he's a genius. And I think that that trait of being able to think about how we systematically approach these problems can be an elusive one at times.

Eliot Marshall: That was long. Anything to add?

Michael Phipps: No. You should just talk to Jordan honestly. I'll just sit here and take in the information.

Eliot Marshall: Look, let's talk about some don'ts. This is a good way to get to dos sometimes, is you're watching someone just butcher a class, butcher a sale, butcher something. What do you do? I mean, I know what I used to do. I know what I do-

Jordan Shipman: What do we not do?

Eliot Marshall: Yeah. So when I say, "What do you not do-

Jordan Shipman: That's terrible. 

Eliot Marshall: ... is what I used to do." I used to stop them. I used to walk in and stop them, and be like, "I'm going to take this over because you are fucking utterly butchering this." Without saying that, but just in my mind. Because as much as you were just saying to become system dependent, at the end of the day on the front line we're very people dependent.

Jordan Shipman: Yes, have to be.

Eliot Marshall: It's people doing everything. We don't have a kiosk. 

Jordan Shipman: You can't replace that. It's part of who Easton is.

Eliot Marshall: Well, it's part of what any martial arts school is. There's no way you're going to ever just watch a video, have no instructor on the mat and learn from the video and have not ...

Jordan Shipman: There are schools that do that.

Eliot Marshall: That's crazy. That's fucking stupid.

Jordan Shipman: Just saying, but it does exist.

Eliot Marshall: No instructor.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah. Yeah actually, you remember when Sachi was still around there was one of our first potential clients for Easton Online back when we had a different sales model when we were just trying to sell a-la-carte courses. There was a guy who signed up for our course, and then he didn't like the course. And we asked him for some feedback, and we found out a lot about his school. And that was his model, is he had set up a martial arts school that was completely automated to where literally you would show up and watch a video on an iPad, and then that was you drilling the technique.

Eliot Marshall: Oh, that guy's either out of business or a Mc Dojo.

Jordan Shipman: It's just a completely different model. It's not what we're about. Nobody's showing up at that school for the community.

Eliot Marshall: Or to get good

Jordan Shipman: Or to get good. No, I don't think any world champions are coming out of that school at all. No. 

Eliot Marshall: I don't think any fucking silver medalist that fucking grappling industries at a white belt level's coming out of that school. 

Jordan Shipman: No, it's probably one moderate step above training with somebody in your garage following an online curriculum. So it does exist, but it's not who Easton is. It's an intentional part of our culture that we build relationships and we invest in people, and that's not going away. That's a huge part of what we would consider our secret sauce of what makes Easton Easton, is it's the community.

Eliot Marshall: Yeah. We've been doing it since it was official that we were doing it. This whole thing came around because of that because before it was officially a thing it was the thing.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah. So, I guess to answer your question, what happens when somebody's fucking it up?

Eliot Marshall: Phipps, you're walking in on a kickboxing class and that instructor's just fucking butchering it.

Michael Phipps: I will save my critique for after the class. There's no admonishment that I can hand out that's going to fix the situation right there. So for example, and this has happened in recent memory, I've walked in right at the end of a class and I see the instructor, someone who's kind of new, and they're giving the announcements. So, everyone's lined up, and they're giving the announcements, and they're holding the board and it's right in front of their face, and they're reading line from line. And it's just like no one who is listening to this instructor right now knows what these announcements are because you don't know what they are. So, instead of being like, "Hey dude, you just fucked that up really bad," I sent him a Vox. And it was after I coached, because I was coaching right after him, I sent him a Vox like, "Hey, I recommend that you know what the announcements are at the beginning of your class. So look at the board, know what they are, and then you have that in your hand to remind you of details, it's not the thing that you read off of." 

So I basically said, "Don't read the announcements anymore." And I came in a couple of weeks later and he's doing much better job. He just needed a small course correction. And most of the time, that's what it is. It's hardly ever wholesale, like you are bombing this entire process, because you don't get to be a coach if you can't do it right. So, it's small course corrections. And so, whenever I see that I just try to address it as quickly as possible. Obviously I didn't talk to him right then, and I coached my class so it was probably a couple hours later, but it was the same day, just sent them a Vox like, "Hey, this is what I saw, this is how it could be better, and I'd like to see you work on that."

And they were really thankful for it. And so to me, it's just small course corrections. I can't do everything, and that's not what a leader is supposed to do. I'm supposed to empower everyone else who is, I don't want to say under me, but everyone that I'm supposed to be managing I need to empower them to be as good or hopefully, ideally better than me. And so, a lot of the time it's small course corrections, and when I see it, and that's why I want to go to starting to do some evaluations. Because I know everyone's doing mostly a good job, but there's probably one or two things that if we can just offer the small course corrections, they're going to be doing an even better job.

Eliot Marshall: My wife and I used to have this, well, we created this rule with our second child. Because our first child, Canaan, we argued at 3:00 AM all the fucking time. Because one person comes in to help or whatever, you're both just up. And it's like, "Well, I think we should do this, and I think we should do that." You're exhausted. No one's slept in weeks, and boom, blow up. Well, the second child, Simon, we put someone in charge and we did shifts. So his bedroom, Simon's bedroom was down the hall, and there's another bedroom right down the hall. So, somebody had a 10 to 2:00 shift and someone had a 2:00 to 6:00 shift. So, whoever's in charge 10 to 2:00, you're handling, you're handling. The other person doesn't even come. And then at 2:00, or whenever that feeding was, you do the feeding, you go switch, go back to sleep and then it's their turn.

But there are times when you need help. There are times when you need help, and the other person comes down, they hear it's a nightmare, whatever it is, it became the rule that the second person could only assist and give no feedback unless they thought the child's life was in danger.

Michael Phipps: I love it. It must've been so hard at times.

Eliot Marshall: And then if you think the kid's life is in danger, then you can intervene, but then you also need to get a divorce afterwards. 

Jordan Shipman: That is amazing. 

Eliot Marshall: So you're never intervening, you're just helping. And then whatever you thought was different, you talked about at 10:00 AM when the sun's up. Whether you slept or not, 10:00 AM is way easier than 3:00 AM. It's just way easier and I don't know why it is, but it is. So, you're saying that. You had a 3:00 AM incident.

Michael Phipps: They are the one in charge.

Eliot Marshall: Right, they're the one in charge.

Michael Phipps: I'm just there to assist, but afterwards we'll talk about.

Eliot Marshall: Afterwards we'll talk about it. And I've taken this to the teacher, because man, let me tell you, no offense to anybody again, I've been doing this the second longest to them all, maybe longer than them all actually teaching because I started young. So, I can see some mistakes. I see plenty of mistakes, and you just can't. You have to keep your mouth shut. You have to keep your mouth shut, and I personally like to start with a question if I'm in person with them., "Can you tell me why it is you showed it that way?" Just to hear their logic first at least.

Jordan Shipman: Amal's has done that.

Eliot Marshall: Yeah. "Can you tell me why it is you showed it that way so I can at least understand why it is that you thought you were teaching it right when you were just fucking butchering it?"

Jordan Shipman: That's awesome. That reminds me of a time where Amal approached me like that and asked me why I was teaching something a certain way, and then I explained it to him, and then he tried it and he goes, "Oh yeah, okay. That makes sense." So, it was a genuine question on his part, and I was like, "Awesome."

Eliot Marshall: Fuck yeah. 

Jordan Shipman: Yeah. And there was plenty of times where it didn't go that way, but that one particular time it was like-

Eliot Marshall: And look, everyone's had this. Let me be clear, I've had Amal take my class from me. Literally just be like, "Yeah, goodbye. Get out of the class." And I was like, "Oh, word. Okay, cool. Fuck off." I can remember feeling fuck off. And I was a white belt and he was a purple belt. So, it sucks. That sucks. That's not what we want to be doing. Jordan, what are some of your don't dos?

Jordan Shipman: Well, a couple of things came to mind, and this is a little nuanced, but from my thinking back to my GM hat and keeping people accountable is a big part of the GM role. The accountability arm of Easton, so to speak. And it was interesting, I went to a conference like a year and a half, two years ago now, and there was a talk about the difference between accountability versus responsibility. And I won't go fully into it, but one thing that I took away from it was you can't hold someone accountable to something that they have not agreed to. And so that, if it was a staff problem at the front desk, like they weren't selling the way that they need to be selling. I would first ask myself, "Is there something missing? Did I not communicate something to them? Did they not understand that they agreed to do it this way?" So I would ask questions, I would ask be like, "Why did you do it that way?" And that would illuminate whether or not I had communicated to them what I wanted them to be accountable for.

Eliot Marshall: It's easy, because you can even then ask that question. Even if you thought you did, you're like, "I swear I told you, you need to say the word enroll, not sign up." So you can ask the question, "Hey, why are we using the word signup instead of enroll?" And they can be like, "Well, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and they can give you an answer. And you're like, "Have I ever communicated to you that I want you to use the word enroll?"

Jordan Shipman: And they might be like, "No."

Eliot Marshall: No.

Jordan Shipman: And even if you did, if their perspective is that you did not, well, then we got to back up and we got to figure this out.

Eliot Marshall: But it leads to such an easy conversation.

Jordan Shipman: It does.

Eliot Marshall: Great, we're saying it right now. We need to use the word enroll rather than sign up. Can we agree that this happens? And now you're golden, because at the end of the day that one signup doesn't really matter that much. It's not going to make or break the school.

Jordan Shipman: Right, but if they continue to do that in perpetuity, it could really affect your signup rate and then everything. But then also, I also think of praise, correct, praise, how we teach instructors to handle things on the mat. I mean, it sounds so cliche and trite, and people also refer to it as a sandwich. And when somebody is praise, correcting, praising me, I know exactly what they're doing. I know they're saying something I did well first so then they can then deliver something critical and constructive, and then to make it feel better they tell me something good again. I know that they're doing it, but it still works. It still makes it easier.

Eliot Marshall: I just had this conversation with somebody about coaching pro fighting, pro fucking fighters. And you praise, correct, praise. You don't sit down and go, "Yo, motherfucker." Very rarely. It works in the third or fifth round of a fight that you're obviously losing, like, "Yo, motherfucker. You got to get in his ass right now." But it's obvious. That's right before you're about to fire somebody too. But when I sit down after a fight, after a round, and whether we won or lost the round, I look at my fighter, I say, "Take a deep breath. Okay, you did this well, does that make sense? What I need you to do is this." And then rather than praise again, I generally go back to having them repeat what it is that I need them to do to get an agreement out of them-

Jordan Shipman: That's a good tactic. 

Eliot Marshall: ... so that we end on them telling me what the agreement is. I got to tell a funny story real fast. Tangent. Okay, so I'm doing this once. 

Jordan Shipman: Is Elliot going on a tangent? I'm shocked.

Eliot Marshall: Shocked. So, I'm sitting there with a fighter, Mikey Baldwin, one of Donald Cerrone's friends who I just ended up cornering somehow. I don't fucking know, Donald asked me to, and I did that. I told him, '"Look this well," but he was messing up his rubber guard. And I said, "Okay, what I need you to do with the rubber guard is A, B, C. Do you understand that?" And he goes, "Yeah, I understand it." I was like, "What are you going to do?" He's like, "I'm going to walk out there and fuck him up." And I was like, "Word, you go do that. Word, you go do that." And he walked out there and fucked the dude up, so whatever. But yeah.

Jordan Shipman: Oh man, that's too good.

Eliot Marshall: So anyway, yeah. And that's kind of the praise, correct, praise in the sense of getting an agreement back, it kind of mixes what we were talking about in two ways.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, I mean, it's just-

Eliot Marshall: So, I'm just saying for people that call it a shit sandwich. Man, you do it at the fucking highest level.

Jordan Shipman: You do. 

Eliot Marshall: You do it at the highest level. And I know Leon Edwards coach of yelling at him in between the fourth and the fifth round works, but they didn't do that in round one. You do that when you got to hit a hail fucking Mary. And let's be honest, in that fight that's what Leon hit. He hit a hail fucking Mary. 

Jordan Shipman: Right. I think it's very human to just be defensive. And I noticed with the kids that I coach, I have a lot of rapport with a lot of the kids that I coach. And I'm sure you've noticed when you have a lot of rapport with a student, you don't always got to put on your padding and praise them first and everything. You can just be like, "No, no. You fucked that up. You need to fix this."

Eliot Marshall: You did this with me at [inaudible 00:34:32]

Jordan Shipman: Oh, what did I do?

Eliot Marshall: You got off the mat and you're like, "I don't want to hear that I did well, tell me what I did wrong."

Jordan Shipman: Oh, yeah, yeah. I didn't need to-

Eliot Marshall: You didn't need that.

Jordan Shipman: Because we have that relationship. But man, when you had first started coaching me though, that might've been difficult for me. But I've noticed with the kids that I coach, when I see them Berimbolo improperly, and I go over there and I start correcting them without telling them how awesome they looked first, they do this. They go, "Oh, I know." And I'm like, "Well, if you knew that, gray belt, then why did you do it wrong?" But that's not helpful. But what I've noticed the difference is, is if I first say, "Man, that was dope. That Berimbolo was awesome." I was like, "Can I give you a tip to make that even better?" And they're like, "Yeah." And then I give them the tip and then I'm like, "Do you understand?" They're like, "Oh, okay. Yeah, that's cool."

I could give them the exact same correction in a different order and they're going to want to tell me that they already know what I'm talking about, or they're working on something different first and that's why they weren't doing what I corrected or something. And I'm just like, "No-

Eliot Marshall: My favorite is I didn't do that.

Jordan Shipman: Right, right. Yeah, exactly. "No, I didn't do that." And it's like I just watched you do it-

Eliot Marshall: I actually brought my 3:00 PM class in the other day because two people told me that back to back. Well, one told me I was wrong, and the other one told me they didn't do that. And I was like, "Hey, everyone get in right now. Bring it in." I was like, "I'm not wrong." I was like, "I've dedicated my entire life to this since I was six years old. I'm very rarely wrong. In a live go, like in a stressful fight I might say right hand when it needed to be left hand. Okay, but that's with pressure. I guarantee you I'm not fucking wrong while watching you standing there, and you're doing it and I'm not. And my sole job is to watch you do it. I'm not wrong."

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, I totally get it. 

Eliot Marshall: Yeah. It's fucking frustrating.

Jordan Shipman: And the more experience or time you put into anything, I think that it gets increasingly frustrating. Because I've noticed the longer I do this, the longer I coach, the more when people react that way I'm like, "Think about how long you've been doing this versus how long I've been doing this." But it takes a lot of humility and awareness for somebody when they're being corrected to sit here and go, "You know what? Even though I don't agree with what they just said, let's think about some facts here. I'm six months into this, this person's 20 years into this. They have a black belt, I have a blue belt. Let me think about whether or not I actually know what I'm talking about." That thought process very rarely goes through anybody's head. Phipps actually really good at that. I see him just default the humility all the time. But I think that's a very rare quality to have. But this is why the praise, correct, praise at the highest levels to coaching kids works so well is just because just by telling somebody that they did something well first, that the doors are open.

But if you just start right away with what somebody did wrong, it's more likely than not that they're just going to shut that door in your face. Alex, I talk to him a lot about how he likes to give feedback, and he almost exclusively tries to give feedback through positive reinforcement. Because he finds that it's very efficient that way. It's almost like anytime I've ever talked to him about my matches, or classes, or what's going on, it's almost like he just skips what anybody did wrong and he just focuses on what you did well. And somehow that has the way of getting you to latch on to what you did well and continuing to do that. But then it gets you to think about what he didn't say. It's like he didn't address this and this didn't go well, so maybe this is an area I need to work on, kind of thing. I'm not even sure how it works exactly-

Eliot Marshall: Yeah, I don't know if I fully agree with you there.

Jordan Shipman: Well, I might be articulating how he does it, and it's not always. Sometimes you straight up have to be direct with somebody, and you have to talk to them-

Eliot Marshall: Right, because we're not going down the route of only telling people the positive.

Jordan Shipman: No, not always, but I get what he's saying. When I go to the other schools and I want to give them feedback on their program, if I just point out all the things that I think are lacking, it's going to be really hard for them. But if I give them a lot of, it's almost like proximity praise in the classroom. Like when a student is doing something really well and you say, "Man, this person is really focused and working really hard. Good job." All the other people want to do it. It's kind of like that, that's how he does it.

Eliot Marshall: Yeah. And you have to correct.

Jordan Shipman: And you have to correct.

Eliot Marshall: You have to correct. It's just the manner in which you do it. It really comes down to the manner in which you do it. And I will also say the relationship, because you brought this up too, the relationship you have with the person. Because it's such a big one. I've coached you a bunch, so when you were like, "Yo, skip the other stuff, tell me what I did wrong," you're fine with it. I don't think I've ever coached you. I couldn't do that.

Michael Phipps: No, I need you to be nice to me, bro.

Eliot Marshall: What's that?

Michael Phipps: I said I need you to be nice to me, please.

Eliot Marshall: I'm saying in a live moment. It would be a little different. I wouldn't just come up to you and be like, "Yo Phipps, you did A, B, C wrong. We need to fix ..." I would never do that. The camera over here? Different fucking story.

Michael Phipps: I'm the one telling you about how to do that though.

Eliot Marshall: Right, but I didn't touch the camera. 

Michael Phipps: I should probably be nicer to you. 

Eliot Marshall: I still didn't touch the camera.

Jordan Shipman: You remember that story where you brought all the people in and you said, "Guys, I've been doing this for a lot longer than you and I know what I'm talking about"? That's Phipps with video.

Eliot Marshall: I totally agree, but that camera's been that height the whole time. You moved it up and down.

Jordan Shipman: Fair enough, fair enough. 

Eliot Marshall: Anyway. 

Michael Phipps: I love this conversation. First of all, PCP is like, this is the number one thing I'm always trying to talk to new coaches about. Please, just start with something that they're doing well. I also think that another thing that Jordan said when we're talking about course correction, bringing it back on yourself as a leader is one of the most powerful tools that you absolutely have. And I want to tell a story about a time that Jordan did this to me and it ruined me. So, when Jordan was the GM at Longmont, for a long time he was also the department head for the Jiu-Jitsu program. So he's running our meetings, and there's just one meeting where I'm late. I'm probably like five or six minutes late, and I have three coaches coming in behind me so I'm not even the latest one. And we're sitting down for the meeting, we're starting about 10 minutes after we're supposed to, and Jordan's just gritting his teeth, shaking his head. He's like-

Eliot Marshall: You remember this?

Jordan Shipman: Oh, yeah. I know what he's talking about. 

Michael Phipps: He's like, "So, there's something I have to get off my chest or we can't do this meeting right." He says, "What am I doing wrong that we need to change the time of the meeting? Is there something that I can do to make sure that you are all here on time?" And me, as someone who's a leader in the academy and a leader in the company, I'm feeling the worst I've ever felt. And Jordan, he could have done this completely different. He's like, "Listen, motherfuckers. Every one of you were late to this meeting. You're all going to get fired if you do it again." He could have said that, and that would've had a strong impact. But the way he didn't blame any of us, he just said, "Because obviously there's something I'm doing wrong if we can't all be here on time-

Eliot Marshall: "You are all late so I must be fucking this up."

Michael Phipps: He's like, "So, please." Then went around in a circle, he's like, "Can you tell me how I can make this easier for all of you?" And all of us are like, "We were just late, Jordan. We're sorry." And listen, I was not late to any more meetings after that, and it's like I shouldn't have been late in the first place but there's multiple ways for that to be handled. And Jordan just put it all on him, and it made me feel 100 times worse than if he'd have just yelled at me and said, "You're going to get fired if you do that again." I think it's-

Eliot Marshall: Because you'd get a little bit of fuck that guy. A little bit.

Michael Phipps: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. 

Eliot Marshall: Like, "Man, he doesn't know what I was just doing."

Jordan Shipman: And then you should also tell the story about where you did have that reaction to me. About fuck this guy, I don't even want to coach Jiu-Jitsu anymore. You can tell that, I give you permission. 

Michael Phipps: Okay, so that was a different situation. And listen, as our relationship has progressed, especially in Longmont when he was a GM and I was a department head, Jordan gave me a lot of freedom, maybe more freedom than I should have had in my position. Well, we can talk about that later.

Jordan Shipman: We'll sauna, we'll talk about that in the sauna. 

Michael Phipps: But Jordan trusted me a lot, and on both sides, even on the Jiu-Jitsu side where I was a coach but I wasn't in the management position. We had this guy coming in, had a lot of previous experience, and I didn't realize that Jordan had told him like, "Hey, I want you to do fundies for a little while before you start training." And I had known him, I had seen him at Gold's Gym before, I had talked to him-

Eliot Marshall: God, you guys love Gold's. Gold's comes up every time we [inaudible 00:43:52]

Jordan Shipman: That's our gym, it's where we work out. 

Michael Phipps: But I had talked to him and I knew him through other people as well, and so I knew he had a lot of experience. He was a blue belt. And I was like, "Oh, dude. You're training here now? Awesome. Hell yeah, come to my No-Gi class, come train with us." He's like, "Oh, yeah." He didn't really tell me that Jordan had kind of said fundies only. I'm like, "Oh, you're totally good. Come train with us." And then I jumped in the coaches group on our Voxer after that and just let everyone know, like, "Hey, this is a conversation I had with this student. I told him to come. He's got a ton of experience." And Jordan was like, I think Jordan's first message was probably one of the most unskillful-

Jordan Shipman: Yes, it was. 

Michael Phipps: It was so unskillful to us-

Jordan Shipman: Say it what it was. Do you remember? Because I do.

Eliot Marshall: What was it? 

Jordan Shipman: I just typed in the thread, "What the fuck?"

Michael Phipps: In Jordan's defense, before I could even open Voxer to reply, he had already recalled that message-

Eliot Marshall: But you saw what the fuck?

Michael Phipps: Oh yeah, because you could see the preview so I saw the preview message. And then the way Jordan, he kind of stripped me of my authority. He's like, "Where do you ..." He stripped me of this authority that he had granted me, not by saying it but just through our relationship. And I felt very cut down in a way where I was like, "Man, shit. I don't want to deal with this. This doesn't feel good to deal with." And that was probably an example of an unskillful way of handling it. And that's kind of the two ways, because instead of looking at myself and saying, "Wow, I really let Jordan down. I need to be better," which was my reaction after being late to the meeting, my reaction was like, "Fuck this. I'm quitting. I'm not going to coach Jiu-Jitsu anymore. Good luck, bro."

Eliot Marshall: This is just parenting again. Literally parenting. I had it this week with a student-

Jordan Shipman: My son. My son, Phipps. 

Eliot Marshall: No, I'm serious. So, I had it this week. A student came up to me on Tuesday and asked, he was like, "Hey, I know that whatchamacall, the advanced class is normally only blue belts and up, I'm four stripes." And he said something, I don't remember how it went but he brought Carlos up. And of saying that Carlos said in some way that he could come to my advanced class. Before I'd be like, "Man, what the fuck are you talking about, Los? No. Los, what the fuck?" You have to just go to the parent, the other parent first. Like when my kid says something, "Hey, I'm going to go do this."

And you're like, "Well, did mom say it was okay?" So, that way you can hear, that's my, "Dad, can I?" And my first question is always, "Well, did you ask your mom," so that I don't have to be like ... But you know the next thing they're going to say is Mom said it was okay. "Did you ask your mom?" "Yes." "Okay. What did she say?" "Great, I agree with mom." So it's like, "Okay, so you're telling me Carlos gave you permission? Yes? Okay, great. I'll see you in class." Because that way you don't want to shit on Carlos and then get mad at both of them.

Jordan Shipman: Yeah. I felt really bad about that incident between Phipps and I when I reacted that way. And I think I repaired it because we had our same page meeting, and this is another way of helping people is you first open the door for them to give you feedback. If you have feedback for them, and this particular day I didn't have any feedback for Phipps, I could just tell that I had hurt our relationship and I needed to repair. And sometimes you have to do that. When you deliver feedback unskillfully, you may do some damage and you got to own that shit, and you got to repair. So in our next same page meeting, we went through the business, but then I was like, "Man, I want to give you the space to tell me how you felt." And I remember when Phipps walked into the office that day, I could tell there was a wall. 

But then after he had the space to tell me how he felt, and then it honed in on something where it was just really a miscommunication. When he told me, he was like, "Man, I felt like you had already given me this power, and then you took it away from me." I was like, "Oh fuck, I didn't mean to do that." And it was true because it was like, man, I do trust Phipps and I do want to empower him to make those decisions in that decentralized command model. And this also comes back to, I think a key to skillful communication that I'm learning is taking care of yourself. In that particular day, week or whatever, I had just dealt with some shit, and I won't get into what it was. Phipps knows what it was because he had to deal with it too, but I reacted poorly because my cup was not full. I was not taking care of myself. 

And so, I think part of delivering skillful feedback as well is making sure that you are taking care of yourself and that you're bringing your best self to your communication. There's a good book Alex recommended to me, The Elevated Communicator, talks a lot about that. It was very helpful.

Michael Phipps: I think, jumping in real quick, not just in your communication but as a coach, it's the same thing as a coach. And you talked about on Wednesday, you just came in and you just weren't where you would've wanted to be most of the time and taking care of yourself. In any situation where you are giving to other people in either a management, communication, coaching, you want to be the best version of yourself, and that always comes back to taking care of yourself and making sure that you are- 

Eliot Marshall: And you have to realize that that's depleting. Giving to other people, introvert, extrovert, I don't care who you are, giving to other people is depleting. Now look, if you're just out with other people and you're an extrovert, that's a different thing. But having to give all the time is very, very depleting. So man, I love the end of that conversation that we just had there, because we're giving advice here on this podcast. That's what we do with Easton Online in general is how to run your academy. We give a great example of how Jordan did it well, and then we gave an example of how Jordan did it really shitty, because we fuck up too. I fuck up, you fuck up, you fuck up, Mike fucks up, Ian fucks up. We all still blow this, and it's this iterative process where we're going back and fixing it, course correcting. 

And the hardest part is when you blow the relationship. And when you blow something and it affects the relationship, and then you have to course correct on that. Because what we don't want to be doing is running dictatorships. We really, really don't want to be running dictatorships. That's not what we're doing. We don't have the way. We're always changing the way. It's focused on the core values followed by the principles, and then we go. We find the best answer. So guys, great talk. Great podcast. One question-

Jordan Shipman: Yeah, it was good. 

Eliot Marshall: One question-

Jordan Shipman: And yeah, we got going. 

Eliot Marshall: ... and we knocked it out. Phipps, if you could leave that camera just how it is, I don't have to film for a little bit. Actually I do this week, so I'm-

Michael Phipps: I'm sure you do. 

Eliot Marshall: ... going to move it down. 

Michael Phipps: Yeah, I'm sure you will.

Eliot Marshall: I'm going to move it down.

Michael Phipps: As you usually do. 

Eliot Marshall: You're going to have to move it back up for the next time.

Michael Phipps: Don't change my settings.

Eliot Marshall: I will not change the settings. I turn the camera on and off, don't edit this out. Guys, as always, if you found this helpful,, check us out, share it. Man, I am butchering this outro. If you found this helpful, please go to if you would like some more help. Also share it with your friends who are other academy owners, even business owners. I think we touched on some broader topics as well outside of just martial arts. If you need help, please contact us. We are here to help. He is not on social media, Phipps and I are, so we will answer questions over social media if you need something. Hey, tell me about this, tell me about that. We have a bunch of freebies out there all over the place, on our website, on our Instagram, on our social medias. And I think that's it. Fellas, great talk. Let's go sauna a little bit, and that's it. Peace.


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