The Obligation To Disagree - Rebecca Baack (E17)

Mar 16, 2020

Rebecca Baack has been working as a leader in the fitness industry for over 13 years. She founded and opened CorePower Yoga's first franchise and expanded to two successful yoga studios before merging with another franchise, Level 4 Yoga, which now owns 34 CorePower Yoga locations across the country. She recently left Level 4 Yoga to work on a new fitness concept she's passionate about, Boulder Movement Collective. We discuss balancing parenting and running a business, working hard to earn flexibility, building employees that can honestly disagree with you, and more.

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Transcript:

- Welcome to the Easton Online podcast. I'm your host, Eliot Marshall, and what this podcast is here to do, it's here to help you gain strategies and tactics and tools that are gonna help you grow in your martial arts business, if you have a martial arts school, a gym, this is one of my passions is how we spread the message of how to really grow culture and business and some ways that we do it the best with our people, with our staff, with our clients, so I hope you enjoy. Give it a listen. Hi Rebecca.

- Hi Eliot.

- For someone who doesn't, who calls themself an introvert, you're my first two-time guest.

- I am your first two-time guest? Holy shit. I feel special.

- This is our second podcast together.

- Awesome.

- How are you?

- I'm good, how are you?

- I'm well, how was your trip? Where'd you go?

- I went to Kyrgyzstan. For backcountry skiing. It was fabulous.

- Okay, by yourself or?

- I went with a friend and we went on a tour there, that this guy and veteran owns.

- Oh, you were out of the country.

- Yes.

- I can't believe I invited you over, you have corona.

- Probably. I'll be sure to cough all over your microphone here.

- Thanks. Yeah, I'm not worried about it. I was talking to a friend the other day, he's an ER doc, and he was like, he read an article from another ER doc and it said, look, I'm gonna get corona. It's just what it is. But I'm a young, healthy, male, that's gonna get the flu and then be fine, so.

- I'm kinda worried about it actually, 'cause I mean, do you have elderly parents? Yeah, I do too. And my dad just got over having pneumonia for a couple months, so.

- So you're not worried about it for you?

- I'm moderately worried about it for me, because I sometimes have asthma, but for the most part I think I'll be fine, but like you I'm in the fitness class business, and so I'm worried about it for business reasons, and also for my parents.

- Right, yeah we're not taking any distributions anytime soon.

- Right, that's for sure.

- Just gonna let it sit there, right, just let it sit there. So for everyone listening to this podcast currently, if you, uh, it's all, you're probably all fitness or martial arts studios, don't take any money right now. Just leave money in the business. But let's not talk about that. You have done so much, right, with your fitness businesses, and people so often compare jiu jitsu and your businesses, yoga. So first of all, what do you think of that comparison, and then we'll talk about how you built it.

- I think the comparison is pretty accurate. It's a similar business even though, maybe yoga is 90% female 10% men, and I think the reverse in jiu jitsu, it's a similar business in that it's all about getting new students, getting them to convert to new members, and then keeping them coming. So I think same thing with jiu jitsu, right?

- Very similar, yes, that's what we do, you know? You could say that 24 Hour Fitness is that business, too.

- Yeah.

- But you wouldn't say you're anything like 24, would you?

- I think it is, I think the gym business is similar, is similar too. Their economics are different, and they're less about community, you know, it's more about accessibility for them so a cheap price point, lotsa members, highly accessible, whereas jiu jitsu and yoga is about the community that you build there, and making that sticky for people because, you know, I don't know 24 hour charges a pretty lower rate than probably you or I do at our facilities, right?

- Yeah, for sure, we charge $199 a month, 24 Hour Fitness doesn't come close to that. So I would call us the boutique fitness, right? We're boutique, we're not like fitness like big box gyms.

- [Rebecca] Yeah, correct, I would agree.

- So how, I know we went over this a little bit on the Gospel of Fire, but how did you get into this?

- How did I get into the yoga business? Let's see. So I was, yknow, kind of working various jobs. I worked in telecom for a while, switched over to working in advertising, doing marketing strategy, and realized through just exploration in my 20s that I was pretty unhappy, and found out that what I really wanted was to work for myself, and at the time, I was a pretty spotty practitioner of yoga. I would go, you know, maybe once every couple of months, but when I would go, I would just notice the economics of it, so I became more interested in the yoga business from the business side of it first, and then dove deeper into my own personal practice and decided that it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I found a location which became my Bloomfield school.

- I turned the fan on and then you could hear it, right, I was like oh god that was way too loud.

- You could hear it. So that became my first school, and I did well at it. I had to learn along the way, I mean, a lot of sleepless nights when I first opened, and had to.

- [Eliot] Were you married at this point or not married?

- I was married, yeah.

- [Eliot] Kids or no kids?

- No kids, no kids. I think it would've been really hard to do that with kids. But yeah, it was successful, grew it, merged with other yoga studios, grew from there, and yeah, just kept going.

- Okay, yeah really hard with kids. I did the second one, no I did both of 'em with kids.

- Yeah, so was Boulder first and then Denver? Or Denver first.

- So okay so Boulder was Amal's first, and they were all already, they were smaller, boutiquey, smaller schools. And then we did Denver first. And then when Denver was successful, we were like hey, let's do this again, and then we did Boulder. Yeah, so, Boulder we did right when I had my second kid, I was in the middle, ugh, it was fuckin' terrible. There's a picture of me, I was talking about it yesterday, so I'm crazy about when I know I'm going to the beach, 'cause there's a picture of me right after I retired, I was cornering Brendan Schaub and Neil Magney in the UFC, and it was in California, and they wanted to go to the beach, or they wanted to go eat somewhere, and it was right by the beach, so we go eat somewhere, and then everyone's like oh let's go to the beach, and then we go, we're going to the beach. And you know, I just retired, two schools, two babies, you know how this goes, and nobody brought a bathing suit so we all went to a bathing suit store and it was like, it was California dreamin' style stores where like, like the new age, it's halfway up your legs, the short ones. I don't look good in this in general, okay.

- You don't, I bet you do.

- No, I do not, you know. So I have this too small bathing suit on, and I am with Brandon who is a former NFL player about to fight, another fighter of ours Cody, who's about to fight, so couple months later, and then this guy named Joe Kloppenstein who, Kloppenstein, who looks like a greek god 'cause he played tight end in the NFL, and then there's me, and then they're like let's take a picture, and so I'm like, oh God.

- So you were feeling self-conscious?

- Oh, and I still feel self-conscious to this day.

- Really, really?

- Because hold on, hold on, my friends got that picture and made memes of me.

- Okay, so what was one of the memes?

- I don't even remember, it was eight years ago, so whenever I go to the beach now, I go on this crash diet right before, right?

- Oh my god, so I think you need to post this picture now.

- Peter, find it. Some of my friends have it somewhere, you know. It's not very flattering.

- I doubt that, but okay.

- So anyway, I don't know how we got there. Oh, starting businesses with kids. Yeah, I started with kids, and you said it would've been very hard. I agree with you, it would've been, yeah it was, but I think it would be harder from the female perspective, maybe.

- Yeah, for sure, I mean I was, I got pregnant shortly after I opened my second yoga studio and, I mean obviously, no regrets about that, but it 100% limited my ability to continue to expand on my own, which is something that I regret not having the opportunity to do, so it was, I really had to pause on the growth of my business after I had kids, to be a mother for a while, and just deal with that, and then by the time I was able to lift my head out of the weeds, it's like the opportunity had passed.

- The kids decision, I would say, especially from, I'm gonna ask you here, maybe, from your perspective, god once you start you gotta, you gotta go.

- [Rebecca] Just knock 'em out.

- Right, yeah, you're not gonna take ten years. You're not gonna have one, take ten years off, and then have another.

- Yeah, well I mean after my first one, too, I was, I mean I don't know if you experienced this but I was just terrified of this feeling of like so much of your heart is in one person outside of your body, and it's like, I almost immediately wanted to have another kid to like hedge, it was like a biological urge of like I can't only have one kid because I'm gonna be just a neurotic mess about, worried about this kid, and it's like, I need more kids to distribute.

- I get it, I was scared to not, oh man, I cut you off, I'm sorry.

- [Rebecca] No, you're fine.

- I was scared to have the other kid, I was scared I wasn't gonna love him like that.

- Yeah, I think that's really common, too.

- You know, whoa, hold on. But like the love shocks you, and you're like wait a minute, wait a minute, 'cause like you've never, you think you love your mom and dad, and then you think you love your spouse, and then that thing pops out, and it's just a thing.

- It eclipses everything.

- There's nothing like it.

- Mmhmm, yeah, nothing like it.

- And it's immediate. I've never had something so immediate happen.

- Yeah, it's, it's legitimately a trauma, I think, to have that experience because you realize how much you have to lose.

- Right away.

- Yeah, immediately. And that is traumatic because before, you know, when you're single, or whatever you know it's like yeah, I'd be up, obviously I'd be traumatized if I lost my spouse, but never in the same way that I would losing a child.

- Uh, yeah, because you can imagine having another spouse.

- Correct, yeah.

- Hopefully, somebody, before you love your spouse, you've loved somebody else before, right. So this idea of loving someone that much, you can get behind. And then that kid comes, you're like wait a minute, so, you know and then, so how did you do that? What did you do to mitigate, you had another child, but then you also wanted to grow your businesses.

- Yeah, it was hard. I mean, I don't have the right answer for it. It's difficult. I think, particularly, for the mother because, I mean I nursed both of my children for a year, and like that is a full time job, pretty much. So it's like you are locked down with an inability to really aggressively grow your business for sometime because of that. I mean, I'm grateful that I had those businesses, because I was my own boss, and I could give myself that flexibility. I think it would be even extra hard if you worked for somebody else, and were still trying to expand your career. So I didn't have anybody over me, you know, that I needed to report to or anything like that along the way, but it was, it was something that I wish that it's hard, 'cause you don't really wish anything differently but I regret that I wasn't able to be more aggressive at that time.

- Right, I wanna go back to what you said a second ago, flexibility. This is something that I think everybody sitting in your and my chair, in their own business, in their martial arts schools, or in their yoga gym, school, wants. How did you do that? How did you create your flexibility?

- I worked my ass off at the start, I mean that's the shortest answer to it.

- [Eliot] More specific, please.

- Yeah, so when I first opened my first school, I did everything. I worked every single day, was there at 6 AM leaving at seven, 8PM, probably didn't take a day off for, I don't know, four or five months, just passionately driving that business forward and making sure everything was super dialed in.

- Were you the teacher?

- I was one of the teachers, yeah. I taught around 11 classes when we first started but I spent a lot of time taking the other teacher's classes and coaching them up, and making sure that they taught a class at the level that I thought we should offer, so I just drove into it and drove it forward, and then because of that, it was successful, and at some point you can start hiring help and get extra people on board and begin to take some steps away.

- But then they don't do it like you.

- Correct, you have to, and that's a whole nother kind of experience of letting go of control, too, because when you first open your own business, I think when you pour so much of yourself into it, you become a little bit of a control freak about it. I feel I was a, you can ask people who worked for me, but I feel like I was able to at least recognize that in myself, that I demanded a lot from the people who worked for me, but it's another process to find people you trust and to start to take a step back and to let them make mistakes and learn from their mistakes, too, without, you know, same thing with parenting, right? You're supposed to let your kids fail or experience failure. You kinda have to let your employees experience that, too, to learn, because you can't just be breathing down their necks trying to solve every problem for them.

- Yeah, that's great advice. What about the finances of that? Because you're at a certain number right now, and that's the number you're making, right? That's your money. That can be very hard for people, 'cause they're like, you might take a little bit of a paycut when you hire.

- Oh, as the owner you make a cut, right.

- 'cause you own it, right? I think it's so hard right, 'cause you can be like oh man, okay, I think it's gonna grow. Like when I do this it will be able to grow. But it's not there yet, so you have to make less money. What do you do to get over that, what did you do to see that, how did you forecast, what were some of those steps like?

- I think that, well, to be candid about it, I recall one of my teachers just pulling me aside and looking at me and being like, Rebecca, you need help.

- Oh shoot, one of your employees.

- Yeah.

- Okay.

- They're like you are, you're overworking yourself and it's time for you to hire somebody. So I think I needed a confident to call me out on that, and then to take a step back and be like, okay, yeah, I can, I need to do this. It's time to have somebody help me out, because, I mean when I started the yoga business, I did it not from this, at least initially, it became it over time, but initially it was not an idealism around yoga and yoga philosophy, it was more from the business side of it, that's what interested my brain around it.

- [Eliot] So did you always know you wanted more than one?

- I'd hoped for that, yeah, for sure. I think I know that more now than I did then, though. There's like a little bit of a fear that you have as a business owner, and I was always very financially conservative growing up, and so it was a struggle for me to start my own business and invest so much of the money that I had saved from working into that, and so I had a lot of financial fear at the start, and it took me a while to get over that and see that it was gonna be successful and start to feel safe again.

- What did that look like, your financial fear, because I think so many of us struggle with this, right? It's so safe to go get a job.

- Yeah, yeah it is. I tell people who start their own business, just be ready for a different kind of stress. There's stress when you work for someone else, and that's the stress of you don't control your own schedule, or you don't control your own destiny, and that's like one kind of stress, and I honestly think that's more destructive overall as a form of stress, that I'm not in control stress, yeah long term. And then when you start working for yourself, you don't necessarily have as much of that stress anymore but now you have the I'm all alone in this stress, and what if this fails, and what's the worst case scenario, so I'd say just to answer your question about like how I dealt with the financial risk of it, was someone, like a business mentor once told me this advice and I think about it all the time which is just manage your downside and the upside takes care of itself, so I spent a lot of time thinking about like what's the worst that can happen here, and being comfortable with that. Like okay, the worst that could happen is they decide yoga's bad for your health, everyone stops comin' to the yoga studio and we have to declare bankruptcy, and I go back and get another job. It's fine, I'll survive. So I think it's spending some time thinking through what is my absolute downside in this business gonna be, what would it look like? Getting comfortable with, you know what, ultimately, that's really not that horrible of a situation. I'm not gonna die, you know, I'll get through that and I'll survive and I'll come back from it, and once you get to that place, then you are willing to take more risks. I think it's like getting to this place where you have more fear of regret than fear of failure.

- Yeah, I definitely fear, I don't wanna die regretful, no way.

- Yeah, same although I think as I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate that it's okay to have some feelings of regret, because you learn from that, you know like I'm saying yeah, I regretted not being able to be more aggressive with my business, I wouldn't have changed that, it's not like I would've said okay, well I wouldn't have had kids if I could do it over again. I would still make the same choices, but that experience of having that regret has made me more aggressive now.

- Okay, how are you aggressive? What does that mean?

- More aggressive in terms of my ability to accept risk. More confident in myself to overcome the worst case scenario and to minimize my downside on business investments.

- Okay, are you only investing in yoga, still, or are you doing more?

- No, I'm doing more, yeah.

- What are you doing?

- Yeah, so I'm investing, I have invested in Boulder Movement Collective, so I'm a partner with that business, I'm closing, hopefully, this is another thing that coronavirus is sorta stressing me out about because I'm supposed to close on another fitness concept in less than a month right now.

- Oh, what's the concept?

- Well, until it's done, I don't wanna say talk about it, but I mean I'm really excited about it, and I think it's gonna be amazing, I plan to expand it pretty aggressively over the next three to five years, but I also am in the case of trying to manage my downside concerned about what's gonna happen with this virus.

- Right, you alone, or you have partners in this new one coming?

- This one I will be alone in. Yeah, I don't need partners anymore man, I got this.

- Heck yeah, I like it, I like it. Amal and I feel the same way. No partners.

- Yeah, I mean partners are nice when you're.

- I guess we're partners, but.

- Partners are nice when you're trying to minimize your downside, right, and distribute that downside across to other people, right, financially what would happen when you have some partners it's like you have a little bit more financial support, but yeah, when you're on your own, you're on your own, but at this point in my life, like, I got this. You know, I've learned to be aggressive, I've learned what I have to offer, and I think I have more than ever this recognition of what I know, my experience.

- Yeah, there's nothing like experience. That's why it's hard to have regrets sometimes, too, though.

- Do you have anything you regret?

- No.

- No.

- No, I, you know not a single thing. And I fought like shit sometimes, that caused me to get beat up in front of millions of people, like I used to regret that, sometimes, I mean, okay. I wish I could've performed better in a moment, but.

- Yeah, I think that's different than a regret though. Wishing you could perform better, that's a common feeling, but wishing you had never done the experience.

- Oh god, no, right, so yeah nothing. Nothing. Yeah, not a single thing in my life.

- Yeah, that's good. That's fortunate I feel like, to go, to like die with no regrets, I think, is a dream for people. I mean, I think that's something to strive for.

- I mean, the only thing that I'll be regretful for, I feel like, and we just don't know yet, is how my kids turn out.

- Like if you could've been, like if you found out oh I should've done this as a father or that as a father.

- If they go downhill in their adult life, you know, I don't know how you don't have some regret.

- Does that mean you are nervous or uncertain about whether or not you're being a good father?

- [Eliot] No, I'm not.

- But don't you think your kids, I mean this was one thing that I thought was interesting when I became a parent was I felt like my children's personalities were there at birth, you know, like I really appreciated it kind of became more forgiving of parents with kids that don't turn out so great, because you realize, yeah, there's for sure parenting as part of this, but they are who they are, and they're gonna do what they wanna do, because that essence to them is present at the day they come out.

- I agree with you, but our kids are still young. You know, I have a sister who's a mess, and I'm looking at my parents. And if you ask me about my parents, amazing, I couldn't have had better parents, but that doesn't help them with my sister that is the way she is.

- So do you think your parents should have some regrets though, because maybe your sister is having some struggle, so?

- I don't think they should, but from their perspective, right, from their perspective, I could see it. Like, you're like goddamn if I woulda done this different, 'cause they weren't exactly the same with me and her.

- They weren't? Is she older or younger?

- She's younger, plus she started havin' struggles earlier in life and then they do things to try to help mitigate that, rather, you know, I don't know. Who knows, there's all these ifs, because I agree with you in the sense when you said you are who you are a little bit, but there's also life experience, like the Holocaust changed people, I mean I know I went drastic there.

- I was like whoa, okay.

- Right, so whoever you were and then you combine that with Holocaust experience and now this is what we got.

- Okay, so she had, she had some traumatic experiences that.

- No, no, but still, they don't have to be that traumatic to change you. Every experience can change you, so that's why I have no regret because I'm super happy with where I am, where I'm sitting right here, talking to you, I don't have to do this, you don't have to do this, I would rather do nothing else right now, than sit here and talk to you.

- [Rebecca] Oh, thank you.

- Yeah, well all of my-

- likewise.

- All of my previous experiences in my life have led me to this exact point.

- Yeah, I feel that way too for myself.

- So therefore, that's what allows me to not have any regret, so even my failures, have led me to right here.

- [Rebecca] Agreed.

- In the case of my sister, for example, her life sucks. So, you know, that's tough. You can have some regret now, like we're super fortunate so when people talk about being blessed, and lucky, and you know God saved them or whatever, I'm not on the religious side of it, but I'm for sure blessed. Noone's more blessed than me and I'm sure you probably feel very similar.

- Yeah, I feel that way.

- Because I get to sit here and do what I want. I have an amazing life.

- Yeah, yeah I feel that way, too.

- The only, what will change it is if, like, my kids.

- Yeah, it's tough, I mean I have some friends going through some really hard times with their kids.

- [Eliot] Young kids or old kids?

- You know, the middle school age kids. One of my friends just sent her son to military school and, yeah, I mean it's tough. It's hard, and I think at the same time though, as long as you, you know, unconditionally love your children and try not to rescue them from too much failure, I mean, I do really think that people need to experience failure at a young age and get over it, and if you rescue your children throughout their life, that that would be the one thing I would really regret if I ended up doing that and then my kids, when they're adults, like can't handle any failure, right? I want kids like you where you've had failures and you learned from them and you grew from them and moved on. I think sometimes when parents rescue their kids from failure all the time, they, as adults, look for someone to rescue them as an adult and that shit does not work.

- Well that's why I love jiu jitsu, personally, for my kids, that's why it's rule number one in my family, is because no one can save them but them on that mat.

- Yeah, no, I think jiu jitsu is great for kids, and for adults, too, I mean I think that that's still something you can learn on the mat as an adult. I feel like jiu jitsu's really helped me in my relationship with fear through that experience.

- It's the best, it's the best, I don't know what else does it, personally, you know? Yeah, I get through my worst days because of jiu jitsu.

- [Rebecca] Yeah, that's wonderful because that's your business now, too, so I mean it's, it's true how fortunate are you that you get to contribute back to what has helped you so much.

- Right, and I'm sure you feel the same way with yoga. Let's get back to the growing of yours, you know? So how many schools do you have now?

- So here's the complication to this, so I grew to 35 schools, but the corporate parent of my franchise group is forcefully buying us back.

- Okay, forcefully?

- Forcefully buying us back, yeah.

- [Eliot] So you're not happy about that?

- Not happy about it. I mean it's bittersweet, I'll say that I guess. There's part of me that was trying to manifest some sort of exit strategy to it, because when you are a franchise owner, there's some limits that you have to follow.

- So are you guys a franchise?

- Yeah, we were a franchise, and so you have to follow things a certain way that your corporate parents want to follow them, and if you disagree, it's like you, yknow, tough. You don't have the controls, and so I, at first that was nice to have that sort of support, right? But over time you start to understand the business better than your corporate parent sometimes 'cause there was lots of turnover with our corporate parent and you know, you realize they're making mistakes that are affecting your business, and you get irritated at that, so like, there was a good part of me that was really trying to manifest some kind of an exit strategy so that I could end up doing my own thing, because I was just tired of that.

- Can I ask who the corporate parent is, or are you not allowed to say?

- Yeah, I can say CorePower Yoga. But, I mean, there's a private equity owner to CorePower, that's who is exercising this option to repurchase us.

- What does it look like for you on the franchise part, you're the franchisee, right? What if you just wanted out, like five years ago, if you wanted out of CorePower? What would that have looked like?

- There wasn't a lot of option to do that five years ago if I had just wanted out completely, because, you have to give the corporate parent first right of refusal, and the valuation wasn't fair for that.

- So, okay so what does it look like now and there and what does that mean, they're buying you back?

- Yeah, so there was a clause in our contract, which is probably pretty common in the franchise world where I think it was triggered because they had a new private equity owner and it was a-

- [Eliot] Trevor died, right, it's going through a lot of changes.

- Mmmhmm, yep, and so they had the ability to buy us back at like a pre-determined ibata multiplier that was already in our contract, so, the price was already a bit in there but the frustrating thing about is was we were not expecting that to happen, so obviously we were not financially spending in a way where we were trying to prepare the company for sale. We were spending in a way to prepare the company for expansion, and so, it's definitely an inopportune time to sell back to our corporate parent, because we had been staffing up anticipating that we would be doubling in size over the next couple of years.

- So you were looking to get to 70, and now you're gonna have zero?

- Yep, now zero.

- So they're gonna buy you out and then you just don't have 'em?

- Correct.

- And you can't do anything about it?

- Correct.

- Motherfuckers.

- Yeah, it's been a heartbreak, you know, in many ways. But like I said, it's coming to terms with it, because in some ways I had been wishing for something like this to happen, but it just, it's kinda one of those things where you didn't want them to break up with you first, you wanted to be the one that broke up with them.

- I use this example all the time when I teach, because people hold onto moves for so long, they're like I'm gonna get this armbar, and all they have is the person's pinky, you know? And I'm like, hey, what's the rule if you find out that your boyfriend's gonna break up with you, what do you do? Break up with him first.

- Oh, right.

- So you let go. But, god this does, I guess this is just a weird, it has me so interested. Like don't they know that it's so about the community? Like what's their play? Do your instructors have to stay? What happens?

- Well the heartbreak for me has been that I built a fantastic team in the studios that I ran, and because I'm no longer a part of it, there's been, that team has almost 50% turned over so far. The teachers I think are waiting it out just to see what happens, but noone's all that excited about it, 'cause, well people fear change. I mean it could be fine but I do have concerns, when the owner of the business is not, they're not yogis, you know, so I think that that is inherently problematic because they don't understand what's important, which is, at the foundation level, it's the community and the happiness of the teachers and the manager inside the four walls of that studio, because if they're not happy, they're not gonna be delivering happiness.

- Right, let's talk about, let's leave your buyout and let's talk about that, what you just talked about. How have you kept them happy?

- For me, I was just talking to somebody about this the other day, when I, the people that I work with closely, I need those people, I need to love those people, and I treat them like my family, and they become my family, and we become very close and bonded together and that's just my management style.

- [Eliot] Mine too.

- And so, because I formed such a strong community with my staff, those people don't turnover and we have a lot of fun together.

- But you have to pay them, too, right?

- Yeah, for sure, you gotta take care of them.

- Do you pay above, probably, or do you pay?

- I don't, I think we probably pay at market rate, but what I do for people is I give them a lot of flexibility because going back to what we talked about earlier, I appreciate that flexibility of working for myself, so I like my managers to feel like this is your business, so run it like your business, and I will compensate you for your success in it, but when you don't need to be there, 'cause you have strong teachers on the schedule and you've trained everybody well, you don't need to be there all the time. If you wanna take extra vacation or go visit your family or whatever, as long as the studio's running well, people are happy and they're taken care of, be flexible with your life. Go pick up your kids from school, go home in the afternoon, so that's a little bit, that's one of the approaches I use to keep people.

- Okay, so this is a slippery slope, in the jiu jitsu world, too, so you have a manager who you're paying all this money to. The teacher themselves doesn't get paid that much, correct, how do you, but let's say your manager's doing too much of the going, doing their thing, the school is still very successful, but it becomes all successful around this teacher over here.

- Like a star teacher?

- Like a star teacher, right, and now everyone loves this teacher, and this teacher's like, man, fuck, I'm working for 25 bucks an hour, which, you know, I mean it's okay but it's not great. So how do you prevent, and then this teacher goes hey, man, fuck you manager A, I'm the one making this happen.

- Right, right, well one of the ways that.

- This is so common in jiu jitsu so that's why I ask.

- I could see that being common in jiu jitsu, it's less common in yoga, well particularly with CorePower because our approach is not to focus the schedule around a celebrity yoga teacher, so it's to try to make everybody as popular, as consistent, where people don't look at the schedule and think oh, so-and-so's teaching today, I'm gonna follow them. They'll come every day at 9AM, and they love everybody, they might have a favorite, but that doesn't mean they avoid going to this other class, so that's been a strong value in CorePower's business model is to not have that situation happen where one person has 20 classes on your schedule and they become the favorite.

- So how do you build a, all right so in Denver, for example. Everyone knows that Ian teaches Monday and Wednesday at 7 and I teach on Tuesday and Thursday. You know it, there's just, there's nothing getting around it, and yeah, there's 50 people.

- So what do you guys do to help up-level the rest of your coaching staff to be at the level that you and Ian are at?

- We try to, what do you mean?

- What strategies do you employ so, you want a student to be, of course they're gonna have favorites, right, like you're gonna be a favorite because it's your school, but you want people, like I always viewed my success in yoga as not how many people are coming to my class, how many people are going to my other teacher's classes, so I put a tremendous amount of time in coaching those other teachers.

- Yes, yes, so all of the teachers, like for example something that I do, you asked, I have my student Ana, who's 115 pound girl, and she said she wanted to teach jiu jitsu. Well, there's not many girls out there teaching. Especially in big, large schools. There's girls that will teach girls classes. But I was like man, that's bullshit, she doesn't wanna do that. 'cause that's what she told me, she wants to like, she was like maybe I wanna be the teacher, so I'm like all right, you're gonna teach with me. So she teaches with me now, and we've been doing it for a year, because she's gotta be better than all the guys, 'cause she's a small female, so you're gonna get, in a fundamentals class, or maybe even in an advanced class, you'll get some douchebag guy who wants to challenge a little bit, right, because like for me, nobody challenges me. You don't think it works, word, let's figure this out. You know, not the case for her, people can be assholes. Especially the male and the male ego. So she's just learning how to be an amazing teacher. She's just mirroring me and mirroring Ian, and so we mirror each other, to answer your question and then we teacher train, just like you guys do. We have instructor training so that you can be an amazing teacher, and then you gotta put your flair on it. And I think everyone does that, right? But I don't know what would happen if we changed, I mean those are the primetime hours. That's the advanced class, and there's one advanced class every day, one at 7PM. If we changed teachers permanently, I don't know what would happen. I think we have an amazing backup team, but for sure that class is mine. I built that motherfucker from five people.

- Do you go to, do you attend the other classes of your team to support them?

- I don't, the people in charge of the programs do, yes.

- Yeah, I mean that might be very meaningful. Like if someone were, if she were to take over one of your classes, for then you to show up for a while as a student in that class.

- So she teaches most of the class now and I just watch. I'm a pain in her ass. I ask all the asshole questions. So yes, but, yes. I think you're interviewing me a little now, but I think this is something that CorePower does as well, right, like the, we have a program director, they have to watch all the people teach, they have to take the class and see what it's like, so for all of your jiu jitsu school owners out there, who want to grow, you have to do this.

- Yeah, you must take your staff's classes. You must.

- How do you not criticize in the moment? It is so hard.

- Well sometimes, yeah, it's hard. First of all, I don't put somebody in front of students that I don't feel can at least deliver some baseline experience for people. But I have had situations where I've gone in and taken a class and felt like someone was not executing on the class properly, and it's tough. I kinda go bananas in the moment.

- Me too, I walked in the other night Rebecca, and it was a shitshow I was like. How are you fucking this up? Like in my head, right, I didn't scream it obviously but this can be so hard and I used to go in and be like yo dude, what are you doing? So, I'm sure you've been here. How did you not do that?

- I give myself a cooling off period. So if I have an experience like that in a class, I won't give that person feedback until maybe the next day, maybe even two or three days, because I wait for myself to have no more emotion about it in that kind of anger sense.

- [Eliot] No visceral emotion.

- Yeah, where I can give them feedback without it causing a reaction in me anymore.

- Right, like hey, let's okay.

- Yeah, that's my policy to never give feedback when you're pissed off.

- Never give feed, right, and it happens. For all of you, you know, and even with your front desk staff or whoever. You walk in, and they're like on their cellphone lookin' at Facebook, and you're like. Yo, motherfucker, I'm sure you don't. I don't know, where are you from again?

- I'm from Colorado.

- Colorado, so I'm from New Jersey, so motherfucker's a very common word, okay. So, you don't even have to be that mad you know. I'd walk up and be like yo, what's up motherfucker, give somebody a high five, you know? But yeah, so, don't do it is what you're saying.

- Don't do it, yeah.

- How did you learn not to do it, and how did you stop yourself?

- By mistakes.

- [Eliot] By mistakes.

- And being called out on it. I mean luckily having a team of people that would tell me when I was messing up. I think that's important, too, when you're owning a business is not to facilitate a culture of yes men around you, but to have a team of people who will tell you, I think you made a mistake in doing that. And, you know, now when I have new reports or new people that I'm working with, I tell them that in advance, I'm like please let's have a culture with each other where you tell me if I'm fucking up.

- All you black belts out there, are you hearing this? 'cause for us it's even harder, 'cause we have that belt on our waist.

- In what way?

- That belt means so much.

- To the, for somebody who is a blackbelt?

- Yeah, like the white belt, the white belts are looking up to the black belts forever. Now I hire you, let's say, 'cause you're a purple belt, but for your whole life you've been looking up to me so far.

- Oh, so you can't tell the black belt you're fucking up because you're a lower belt level than them, gotcha.

- Right, you could never do that on the mat. And our whole experience so far together is the mat. But now I'm hiring you as an employee, or you're becoming part of my team. Mike, and Ian, and all my dudes tell me when I'm fuckin up all the time and it's so important, right? But I took them from white belt to black belt, with you know, me and Amal, some other people, and I say I, you know.

- So you're saying there's potentially an issue with your other staff that's?

- They look at you like a god.

- Gotcha, okay.

- This happens all the time, and I don't know if it does in yoga or not, but in jiu jitsu, people, I looked at Amal like a god. I still probably look at Hansel like a god, it's because he is.

- Yeah, well I mean I think then you have to overcome that by telling people what you expect from them. We have a value that I bring in any organization I'm part of which is exercise your obligation to disagree. And if you don't follow that value, if I see you not following that value, you don't belong in my organization.

- Exercise your obligation to disagree. And then you have to do that nicely.

- Yeah, I mean, you have to do it in a healthy way, right? But yeah, I don't tolerate people that are just do whatever I tell them to do, even if they disagree.

- Right, man that's a good one.

- It's a good one.

- I liked it, I liked it. Exercise your obligation to disagree. And, look, it's mostly jiu jitsu people listening to this podcast in general, right, maybe some yoga, your yoga people might jump in, but yeah, so everyone that's wearing that black belt with a couple stripes on your belt running your schools, that's gotta be a part of it. That's so big, you have to, when you hire those people that are on your team, it's gotta be a part of it. You have to tell me when I'm fuckin' up, I'm just a human being.

- [Rebecca] Yep, 100 percent.

- How often do people tell you you're fucking up?

- I think when I am, they do. Because, like I said, I like to be with teams that feel like my family, and your family will tell you if you're fuckin' up.

- And then how did you not take that very personally?

- Sometimes I do. There's been times where it's stung, and I felt myself being triggered by it, and I would have to just leave the room or end the conversation, and then spend some time away from it, looking at how I was reacting to it, and you know, coming back to that person later saying, okay, in the moment I had a really hard time with how you told me this, here's how you could tell me in the future where I would listen better, but I don't disagree with what you said about whatever I need to work on, or whatever it is that I did wrong.

- Very good, where'd you learn that?

- Where did I learn that? Meditation.

- Everyday, right? For me, every day, anyway. Twice a day, right now.

- [Rebecca] Twice a day?

- Yeah, I'm in the middle of a little struggle, so.

- Oh, what's your struggle?

- I have a concussion.

- Oh, shit.

- I've had a concussion for almost six weeks now.

- From jiu jitsu?

- Yeah, I got kicked in the head by accident.

- Oh wow that's, have you had other concussions? Probably, right?

- Like ten, so yeah, they keep now, with my older age they're getting worse, so it's brought up all of my, all of my demons are saying hello currently, like my anxiety, my insomnia, all of that, and then the one just builds on the other and the way I normally get rid of all of this is through jiu jitsu, I go get on the mat and have this life or death struggle. I can't do it, so yeah.

- You have to find other kinds of medicine.

- Yeah, so I have to, you know. I have some breathings, so I'm doing some meditation two to three times a day just to let, like feel the stress and feel the anxiety and then let it pass on through.

- Yeah, what do you get anxiety about?

- [Eliot] Sleeping. I have sleep anxiety.

- Sleep anxiety, so you get worried you?

- [Eliot] That I won't sleep.

- Yeah, yeah, I dealt with that when I was nursing. Big time.

- Right, and then like ten o'clock rolls around, like you're good for like two hours. Right when you wake up, or right when you get out of bed, you're like okay, and then noon or ten comes and you're like oh shit, the night's coming, and then you try to set up the perfect night of sleep, and then it doesn't, that's impossible. Once you start trying to sleep then you're fucked.

- That is true, that is true.

- So yeah, that's my demon. And that is my deep demon.

- That's a tough one for people, I know.

- Well yeah, for sure, it's a tough one. But it's okay, you know. It's okay, I have jiu jitsu, so.

- But you can't do it right now because your concussion?

- Right, but I still have jiu jitsu, I still have all the lessons that I learned from it.

- [Rebecca] Right, right.

- You know, so. Reading a lot of Buddhism a little bit, as a philosophy and meditating.

- You gotta come with me to my meditation group some time.

- [Eliot] When do you do it?

- Tuesday nights.

- [Eliot] Where?

- It's in Boulder, up in, it's in south Boulder, they just hold it at a Unitarian Church, but it's this former neuropa teacher that leads the group, and it's phenomenal.

- Okay, how long is it?

- It's a 45-minute sit, and then they take a little break and then he does a dharma talk. It's awesome.

- So 45 straight.

- 45 straight.

- Phew, I don't know if I can, I think I can do 45 straight.

- [Rebecca] You can do it.

- I remember that big Alex, you know big Alex?

- [Rebecca] Yeah, I know big Alex.

- He took me to a Buddhist meditation, like a morning ritual thing, and the first time I sat, I couldn't sit still for two minutes.

- [Rebecca] It's really hard.

- But now I can, I've learned, I don't even need a cushion, I can do the floor.

- Well dang, look at you.

- Yeah, I can do the floor, but it was some work. It was some work to be able to sit there.

- Yeah, if you don't, I feel like if you don't go a little bit crazy by the end of the sitting period, you need to sit longer.

- You need to sit longer, that's what they say. If you can't find ten minutes in your day to meditate, you need an hour.

- [Rebecca] Right, right for sure.

- Man, thanks so much for coming.

- Yeah, thanks for having me.

- [Eliot] I really appreciate it.

- I appreciate it, too.

- This was, you're, oh no, Amal, I did Amal twice. I'm sorry, oh.

- That's all right, I'm comfortable being partners with Amal being the other person that you've talked to twice. He's pretty awesome.

- He's the man, he's the man. Back in, I don't know how I say it now, but I used to say that he's the Emperor and I'm Vader. Now, I've spun it to, you know. 'cause everyone used to say that we have an empire, but the empire's so negative.

- Yeah, yeah I suppose so. You have a kingdom or something, you need a different word.

- [Eliot] Yeah, not even that, I don't like that, 'cause it puts a king.

- Ugh, I guess that's true, okay.

- It puts a king, so. We're all the kings, we're all the kings and we're all the peasants all in one.

- [Rebecca] We are.

- Before we leave, I had a, I'll tell ya, I had a good quote the other day and my friend told it to me. He said I am because we are, and then we are because I am.

- That's nice.

- Yeah, it's really nice, right. It's a really nice way to run an organization I feel like.

- That is nice, I feel like that could be like an Easton value.

- Yeah, I'm gonna talk, I've been thinking about how to approach Mike with it. So, Rebecca, I really appreciate it.

- [Rebecca] Yeah, thanks Eliot.

- Thanks for coming, now we can go back down and walk through the shitshow that is my house.

- Okay cool, sounds good.

- All right guys that's it. I hope everyone enjoyed that episode. What was, what did you say, that one thing? Exercise your obligation to disagree. So if there's a golden nugget in this episode. For all of us black belts, that's the golden nugget. Have staff that can exercise their obligation to disagree with us, and then we have to just sit there with that and not be like yo, I'm a black belt, to that person. So great job, thank you.

- Thank you.

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