Episode 3 with Mark Zionts - How to Optimize Business Performance in a Remote Working Environment

Episode 3 with Mark Zionts - How to Optimize Business Performance in a Remote Working Environment

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(upbeat music) - All right. Well, welcome everybody again to another episode of the Industry Leaders podcast with myself, Kim Leggett, and my partner in crime, Daine McDonald. On today's show, we have a man who has many hats.

He's an executive. He's an athlete. He's a father. He's an environmentalist as well, has been successfully leading companies since 1987. He is the one, the only Marc Zionts and who is the Executive Chairman of Precision Nutrition. - Yeah. - Who is very much passionate

about helping positively impact more people in their journey to live healthier and happier lives. And you know him very personally too, don't you do, Daine? - Yeah. Look, I've known Marc for about the last year or so. He's somebody that, obviously, I have a lot of respect for.

He comes from a corporate background, so a little bit different to a lot of our guests that are kind of born and bred in this industry. Marc's been an avid health and fitness enthusiast and participant himself his whole life, but he's worked in a corporate environment for different companies, whether it's in the private equity realm or startups, et cetera. He was brought on a few years ago by Precision Nutrition when they were acquired by one of, a private equity group in North America and kind of put in as their executive chair.

And he's been the man responsible for their exponential growth the last few years. So he's someone that could share a lot of insights for fitness professionals, especially those that are kind of working with multiple sites or an international business. So yeah, look, we're looking forward to getting him on today. - So Marc, thank you very much for being on today's show.

We're going to be discussing the topic which is how to optimize business performance in a remote working environment. Now, to our viewers who aren't familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, when did you start in the industry, and a bit about your background too? - Thank you, Kim. So my background is actually not in the health and wellness and fitness world. I come from a background as an entrepreneur, having started companies and run many companies with investors for over 30 years. But predominantly, they were tech-enabled businesses and software companies.

I do have the experience of working though with private equity sponsors, and that's relevant to this experience. That is my professional background. So I am recently professionally involved in health and fitness, but from an advocation standpoint, I'm a lifelong athlete and a lifelong nutrition geek. So for me, being the Executive Chairman of Precision Nutrition is a total mashup of everything I've done professionally in the past three-plus decades and how I've essentially lived my life. - And it's one of those things where, even what you've just said there, I was a nutrition nerd before I got into the industry, and Precision Nutrition was the first certification that I actually did before I even got to PT.

- Me too. (laughs) - So this is 10 years ago. So I actually love that that was actually one of your passions too. And in terms of you breaking into PN, what are you now focusing on these days? - With PN, one of the things we've recognized is that we were early in the space. We have continually tried to improve our offering. But at the same time, one of the big things we recognized is that professionals, once they get that base education, they want to have tools to use in their business.

So we've created those and we're improving those. but people also want continuous education. They want to also be part of a community where they can get great resources. As you both know, the industry is plagued with misinformation, with clutter, with noise, and people want to know the latest information but in a way that's scientifically backed, research backed, but also in ways that are actionable as a coach on what you should do with that.

So we have introduced recently an ongoing membership program for people that have taken our nutrition course called the PN Academy. So that's something we've been very involved in. So a lot going on at our company as we've grown up, as we've grown, as we scaled, and as we're all, everybody in the industry, learning to deal with the interruption we had to our world last year that continues to this year. Certainly, we'll emerge from it, but it will be a different world as well. - Yeah. - Very well said. - Well, talking about like, obviously, PN, for a lot of listeners out there, many will be familiar with the brand, the company, and what it provides.

But for those that aren't like, give us a little bit of a background on kind of where it came from, how it came to be, a little bit of the journey on the company, the brand, and obviously, what its core offerings are today. - Yeah. Thank you, Daine. So the company was founded about 16 years ago, and the founders were John Berardi and Phil Carpaggio. John is a PhD and is well known in the industry. They really started their journey not different than many coaches.

They were coaching people and then they wanted to, being mission based, if you will, they wanted to learn or figure out how could they help even more people. And so the thought was take what they've learned and create a program so they could teach more coaches to coach more people. And that way, they could reach more people and impact more lives in a positive manner. So really, from that initial experience of coaching was born the idea of creating a curriculum to teach other coaches to do what they had done successfully. So that's where the journey began, and the company has essentially scaled over time. From the mid-2000s really through 2017, Berardi and Carpaggio were very involved, but then the company was sold to a private equity firm.

Phil and JB are on our board. They retain some equity, but they're not day to day in the business. They're very involved and very connected, if you will, to the business. - More in the creative side of things, I would presume.

- There's something, there's creative, and it's certainly spiritual and connectivity as well. A lot of relationships there. But the business, my partner, Tim Jones who had been running the business, and he really took a leadership position, and then I was brought in to partner with him as we continue to scale. But I think, this will be something I think we'll touch on later, a lot of people start off in this business as no grand vision.

It's really, hey, I just want to help people. I think that's why we're all here. - That's true. - Yup.

- At some point in time, people find themselves with a pretty large business, and then they're kind of like, "What now? "How do I scale it to the next level," and that's where people hit a brick wall. That's what gets really hard. - It's a good problem to have though. - It is a good problem, but I'd say more people stay in that couple of million, if you will, versus really explode the business upward. - Yeah, that's right. Now-- - Yeah, so today, as we look at the company, it's education certification.

It's software tools. It's continuing education. But we still do some direct coaching.

And the reason we do that is so that we can constantly test the efficacy of our curriculum, which we've continually improved, and test the efficacy of the software and gather data for research purposes so that we can share that with our community. - Now, myself and Daine are very familiar with PN, and I'm sure many of our listeners are as well. Can you explain to us what the PN point of difference is? For example, why has your programs become, arguably, the world's most successful nutrition certification for fitness professionals, especially over the last decade or so? - Yeah, that's a great question, and I would really identify a handful of items to respond. One is understanding how people learn, so pedagogy. What's the learning process? What tools, be it physical materials, online materials, text, audio, video? How do people learn? And how do you give people the right tools to learn effectively? And that is a challenge, frankly, no matter what domain you're in.

We've been at that for a long time because we've always been an online learning company. Many people were forced to figure out how to flip that switch overnight, including, take it out of the industry, schools, right? The schools were physical and then they had to go online in certain places. The science of knowing how to teach and how to teach online, it is very-- - It's an art. - It's very challenging.

So I'd say we started there, and that's something we've continually worked to refine. So that's outside their domain. The next thing I'll say is related to the domain but also its own thing, is understanding what behavior changes.

- Mm-hmm, a big one. - It's really much more about psychology, right? I sometimes like to tell people our real differentiation is that we really understand the pedagogy of online learning and behavior change, and we happen to be domain experts in nutrition. And it's not like we invented something about nutrition. In fact, we're not prescriptive to say this is the one thing you should do. It's just the opposite. So a lot of people know about nutrition.

How do you get people to act upon that knowledge? That's the special sauce. - I think it's one of those things it's like you can train someone up to become a nutritionist, but training them up to become a nutrition coach is a very different thing. It's the same-- - Right, there's a big, I'll make it even simpler. There's a big difference between information and action. - Yeah.

- So lots of people have great information, they just don't know what to do about it. So it's those things combined with the fact that I think we have exceptional content quality. We've invested in that.

We have a staff of full-time employees that are experts, many with PhDs, that really help us drive quality in our content. We've continuously improved it. We've rewritten from scratch almost our course every three to four years since it was introduced. And I think from there, we built a reputation. That kind of feeds a flywheel, if you will. And we've built tools and ongoing education by listening to our community saying, "Well, how can I scale my business?" Well, let's give you tools to help you scale.

How do I continue to learn? Let us give you tools to continue to learn and you can pick and choose what works best for you. So I'd say that those things in combination are really what kind of set us aside from competitors. - Hmm. - And talk to us about, obviously, the infrastructure to run such a program that's done such a high volume of students and continues to do that. You touched base before over the last 12 months, not just the fitness industry, but business in general has changed.

People have gone to remote working environments and things like that. Obviously, it's something that PN has done since its inception, been a remote-working business, so you guys are like seasoned professionals when it comes to this. Like, how have you guys managed to do that? How have you guys managed to stay ahead of the curve in what is in vogue today? You guys have been doing it forever, it seems. - Yeah, so it's interesting. When the world changed, for many people, it was a total shift in how they work. The culture-- - It was for us, yeah.

- The culture of their company, the organization, the processes. It may even be who works in the company. So for us, we very much have focused on what is the operating system, what is the organizational structure that supports remote working effectively, and who do we have join the team that actually has the, not just the desire to work remotely, but has the ability to work remotely in a sustained basis, because it is much more romantic sounding than it may be in reality. A lot of people they hear, "I can work remotely? "Oh, that's awesome. "My life's going to be great."

- Yeah, yeah. Let's touch base on that part. For a lot of fitness professionals or fitness businesses that have moved online, whether it's in online coaching or whatever field, it's one thing that we've even found, culturally, having a remote-working team could be quite different than having an in-person team. What are some of the, I guess, maybe not recruitment strategies, but kind of what type of people are you guys looking at trying to bring into your tribe from a recruitment standpoint to work in that type of environment? Because like you said, I think people romanticize that they can sit in their slippers doing their work whilst petting their dog, but the reality of it can be quite different for a lot of people. - Right. So for us, there's really two main things that we do.

First of all, from an organizational structure, we actually have, we're organized with a structure called holacracy. And the notion of holacracy, I think the company that brought, made this more famous for people was Zappos. It really is very much a self-managing organization where people opt into roles and they can opt out of roles. It focuses people on working in their core competencies. And that means what are they good at, because there's a high correlation between what you're good at and what you enjoy doing. And when you ask somebody to do something that they, a, aren't good at, and b, don't enjoy, the outcome is usually not good, yet it's actually how most businesses operate.

- Very true. - You'll have a performance review after a year and they said, "You did these seven things great, "and these three things you really need to improve on." Well, guess what. They hate those three things and they're not good at it. And I can pretty much guarantee you, a year later, they'll pay all the lip service, but a year later, the same condition will exist.

What if you have a structure where they just did those seven things that they did well? Would they be a higher performing and more satisfied individual? We argue, yes. So holacracy is self-organizing. It's also, it's almost like an agile process, so it allows you to be much more flexible and adaptable. I think that's been pretty important over the past year as well. The final thing is how do you assess if somebody's right for that structure? So we actually do testing. So I think more and more companies do it.

I think they're certainly, it's not without some controversy, but we actually do psychological testing, if you will, to try to profile people and align them for the role to vet if they're really, if this is really good for them and good for us. So there's ways of trying to dig into that remote work. When you describe who you are or you're answering questions, you may say that you want to do it and every way you answer actually shows that that would be an unbelievable challenge for you. So we try to use testing to help us vet through the process because we never want to hire somebody if they're not positioned to succeed.

Nobody benefits from that. So we put the time upfront and our candidates have to put time upfront to really kind of work through that with us so that we can get that assessment. And by the way, we share those assessments with people. We talk about what it said, because there's no right or wrong. It just says, It kind of profiles who you are, and then we try to line that up with a role to make sure that the fit is strong.

So those are some of the tools that we use, Daine. - Yeah, well, I mean, I think it's the one thing, a few things I took away from that, but one of them is obviously spend, for fitness business owners out there right now, spend more time at the beginning so you spend less time at the end in terms of when you're onboarding somebody into your business. I was going to say, obviously, one of the things with Precision Nutrition is you guys are obviously a global business. You've got students around the world. You've got staffing around the world. Obviously, staying on the topic of team and performance, how do you guys kind of manage the evolution from being a North American-based business, to a global audience, to a global team? Because obviously, having a global team in a remote working environment is, I guess, a step up from just having a remote working environment within your own city.

- Yeah, we are fortunate that while we are not limited on where we hire geographically, we have had some concentrations in North America, specifically in Canada, our largest concentration of workers, followed by the US. And then, so most people have been within a few hours of time zone, but we have some people in Asia and Europe. We run the business really on a North American time zone basis.

So if people want to join us somewhere else, or they want to be a nomad, we had people that were constantly moving, they can't wait to do it again when it's safe, they have to kind of recognize that where the gravity of the company is with regard to time zone focused meetings. That being said, we try to be flexible and accommodating, and we always make meetings opt in, opt out. People are responsible to their roles and they're responsible to the work. So that means they don't necessarily need to be in every single meeting, but they need to be, they need to achieve what they've set out to do.

- Yeah, definitely. Now, Marc, we've already sort of touched upon on this one too that 2020 was a challenge. 2021 appears to be very much the same. What do you see being the biggest challenge that fitness professionals face in 2021? And how do you think that they can best overcome whatever the challenge might be? - Yeah.

So first of all, I think 2020 and 2021 are going to be very, very different years, both challenging, but in very different ways. So as we all sat here, if we think back a year ago, we were pretty happy. Life was kicked off. It was a new year, and here we go. And then suddenly, we hit a brick wall, and we didn't know what we were in for. And I think we may have thought, "Oh, okay, it's a few weeks and we'll be through this," or, "It's a couple of months."

We had no idea. And when we understood how bad it was, then we learned it was worse. Then`we didn't even know a solution. I mean, it probably wasn't until the latter part of the year that we got some good news about this incredible pace of development with vaccines. But there wasn't much light last year. The year started off good, and we went into an abyss, and we just kept falling and falling without much hope.

- Yeah. - I think as we sit here right now, there's a lot more hope. And the hope is based not just on wishful thinking.

I think there's facts to support it. The pace of development for the vaccine has been impressive. People are taking measures, particularly in your part of the world, be it Australia, New Zealand. It's been impressive. Not everybody's been as disciplined, i.e. where I live. It's been embarrassing.

But there's hope. So I think this year is, last year was falling into the abyss without hope. This year, I think we don't question if the world's going to change. We just don't know one thing, and that is when. So my expectation was, if I was a betting man, is this year will look like two different years.

The first half will look a lot like last year but with a lot more hope. The second half will be starting that path, that return path to a post-COVID world or something that looks more normal. Now, that being said, I don't know that the world is ever going to look the way it did before, 'cause I think COVID accelerated trends that were underway. - That it has. - Yeah. - But I also think the pendulum swung. From being all physical, it swung all the way to the right.

There will probably be, as people can return back to some normal life, there'll be a yearning for socialization. It may actually swing hard back to the left, and then it's going to settle somewhere in the middle. So I think there will be a new normal, maybe a hybrid world in which it can be physical, virtual, at somebody's place, at your place, wherever you want.

It's going to be a new world, and hopefully, people have more options, and that can work out better for everybody. So those are some of the things I see. But with, again, I'm much, I'm a lot more hopeful right now than I was in March or April or May or through December. - Sure. - How are you guys finding

in terms of like feedback from students, in terms of like more people going down like the hybrid path or going online? Have you seen a big shift of your students that have been coming through PN really taking themselves into the online space and growing their online businesses and profiles? - Yeah, so it's a really good question because there's not, there's no one size fits all. There's traditional coaches that are absolutely amazing and awesome at coaching, and what they're weak at is absolutely everything else. So when you say to them, "You need to use technology. "You need to create an online presence. "You need to communicate with your students remotely," they struggle.

And so for them, it's been how do we help them solve that if they want to solve that. For some people, they're like, "This is not my role," and they may be leaving the industry. So we did see a decline in traditional personal trainers last year as a cohort of students. We did see an increase in people that wanted to do this as a side gig.

We did see this as people that are aspiring to change careers. I think one thing last year taught a lot of people is reflect on their lives and think about what's important to them and what's not. And I think for a lot of people, they're like, "That's it. "My other job wasn't so meaningful.

"I've always wanted to work in health and fitness. "I've always wanted to help people, and now is the time." - There's definitely been a society shift for people wanting to work more towards their passion. - That's right. Right, 'cause suddenly, life seems a little shorter when you're hit with a global pandemic, and people's perspectives changed. So we've seen, call it a shuffling of the deck, if you will.

And some people are well equipped to make a change. And by the way, some of the new entries have done exceptionally well because they come in with skills that somebody, if they just come out as a trainer, may not have had. For example, if somebody's switching careers, and let's just say they were a product manager at a company, they may be very technically savvy and understand how do you use all the digital tools to create an online business and be a good business person. And now, they're ramping up their domain skills in health and fitness. Some of those people have been remarkable. They're like new entries, and suddenly, they're making a great living.

And then you've got people that have been in this business for a decade or two. They're shaking their head to say, "How did you do that?" Well, they walked in with those skills. So shuffling the deck, I think, is appropriate. And again, I think there's a shuffling of the deck too where you've got people that they reassess their life. I'm not going to live in the dense city. I'm going to live in the suburbs.

Oh, my club's not here. Is there a club nearby? Frankly, if I was thinking about opening a fitness studio, I don't think there's going to be any better time in the world to open one than probably late spring, early summer of this year. And if you open it in the right location, the rent is probably going to be cheap. People are going to yearn to get back to a safe physically designed place, And there's probably going to be a shortage because some people couldn't weather the storm. So it may actually be a great time to open and start in this business, and that's exciting. - Definitely.

And Marc, when it comes to, I guess, people who do still want to work remotely and take their businesses online as a fitness professional, how do they then bridge the gap when it comes to tapping into behavioral change with clients when they are away from their clients? So the people who are still in a COVID sort of world where they're having to do a zoom PT session, how do they then keep their client motivated and also help them make changes to their lifestyle, or their training, or whatever it might be? - Yeah. So Daine, you said something earlier on that I think is applicable here too, and that is investing upfront. And I think you have to be very intentional and deliberate to try to build a relationship and an understanding with somebody when they're a two dimensional avatar on your screen. So Zoom is great, but it's not like being in person.

- No. - Yeah, true. - But it's the next best thing. It's safe. But I think you need to really work on understanding what's important to your client. And I think if you talk about behavior change, it takes a while to get to that deep root cause reason of why somebody wants to change.

What's motivating them? And I'm pretty sure that most of the time, when you ask somebody about why they wanted to change, or why do you want to get in shape, or why do you want to lose weight, or why do you want to gain weight, the first couple answers they gave you are probably not the real answer. - Always. - Always. (chuckles)

- The easiest answer of people, if you just talk about weight loss, something very common, the easiest answer is, "Hi, I want to lose 20 pounds." And the worst thing you can ever do is say, "Great, I'm your person, and I'm going to help you do that." The right thing to do is you have to probe and just be like a little kid in a way and keep asking the question why, because why will get you to the real reason.

And the real reason may be, my father died at a young age, my siblings died at a young age, I don't want to die at a young age, and that's really powerful. That's really emotional. And that could be, if you tap into that, that's really an important understanding. What if you're talking to somebody that's been married for 20 years, they say they just want to, "I want to look better." But the real reason is they were married for 20 years.

They got divorced. They don't feel good about themselves, and they want to go out, they want to start going out again because they're lonely. So maybe the root cause is loneliness. So I mean, things like loneliness, fear of dying early, I mean, those are super powerful things.

And if you just were dealing at the weight loss, you didn't get there. Now, that's so much harder to do on video, but you still got to invest the time to uncover the real why, the real reason people want to change. - I've always said that as a coach, you've got to be like a detective.

There's layer one of questioning, which is, what is your goal? But then, layer two, three, four, and five is like, why is that your goal? And generally, the first one or two whys that they come back with aren't their actual whys, until you really stop peeling the layers back. Do you guys-- - So I think it's essential for behavior change. But go ahead, Daine, I'm sorry. - No, no, I was going to say, obviously, the behavioral change piece that you guys do, I've always said it's second to none.

That's a real strong area of what Precision Nutrition does, because you guys are creating coaches that actually can coach change. Coaching change or being able to coach a client is going to improve their compliance to actually follow the program. You can't out-eat a bad diet. You can't out-train not training, right? So at the end of the day is, as a coach, as a PT or a fitness professional, all you can do is give them the tools to go and get those results.

You're not with them 23 or 24 hours of the day these days when they're not communicating with you. Do you guys feel like, talk to us about ProCoach and how that fits into that piece, because obviously, from my understanding, as a software tool, it really allows you to kind of automate a lot of those processes, and cuts back off the admin time for coaches, allowing them to actually focus more on connecting with their clients. - Yeah, so thank you for asking.

Yeah, so what we try to do is couple what we teach people in our education process with software that allows them to scale their business. So we're trying to give you a great tool for running a remote business. So how can you identify what their goals are and then try, as a coach, to say, "Now, what habits, what practices do people need to have "to help achieve those specific goals?" And you can design a program using the software that you can then automate with that client and that they can be offering feedback about how they're doing. And they can opt in to say, identify how they're doing, which then furthers the conversation and allows you to hone in on what's going well and what areas you need to continue working on. And at the same time, it's a great platform for communication.

be it with pictures, with texting, with messaging in the product. So it becomes a way for a coach really to run an online business and communicate with their clients and giving their client access to the tools they need to communicate with their coach and to get the habits that are going to help them make those changes in their lives. So the whole purpose of creating this was giving coaches the ability to have a way of scaling their own business. I mean, if everything you do is you create a plan for each person, you write them each day, you send them an email in the morning, you send them a text, you know, it's great if you've got one client or two clients-- - Not if you're trying to do 50. - If you want to do 10, you want to do 20, if it's a side gig, it doesn't work.

So this is really the tool that we've created to help coaches effectively help their clients achieve the outcomes they desire, and from a business perspective, help them scale their business in a way that they can be successful. - Yeah, and I think that's like, oh, I mean, Kim, you could probably attest to this, still being actively coaching clients, the amount of time that you spend outside of your actual, FaceTime with your clients spent on doing all the fiddly bits. - Yeah, for sure.

I mean, it's a whole different ball game when it's online versus face to face. And I think the important thing, which is what Marc touched on, is when you try to scale, it becomes a reality check, that the time spent one on one diminishes because you've got all these other people to talk to. So it's just about having a one-stop shop where you can manage all these people in a very efficient manner, but they feel like they're still being looked after, but it's in a way where it's a two-way street.

It's you're giving them something, but they have to give you stuff back, whether it's a check-in, or a photo, or things like that. So there are touch points but in a manageable way in one place. - That's right. And it allows you to spend your time in a more productive way because you don't want to lose that human touch especially in a remote world. - That's right.

- Right? - Yeah. - But if I can be, if my time with you is quality and I'm not just doing the basics, now I can hone in on what's really important, and how you're really doing, and how I can really be helpful to you, because I think people are yearning for that physical touch and physical caring. If they weren't, they could just use some bot-driven product but I think people want a human.

- 100%. - I think coaches are always going to be important. In fact, I'll argue they're going to be more important. People have just seen through this pandemic how health and fitness, it doesn't just matter from a being healthy standpoint.

Mental survival, right, it's really been vital. And it's tough. I mean, we've lived in anxious times. I believe we here in the States have unequally contributed to that anxiety levels, and I'm hoping we'll bring that temperature down a little bit now.

- Yup, yup. Talk to us, and we'll stay on the topic of kind of some of PN's core offerings, because obviously, majority of our listeners are fitness professionals, and PTs, nutritionists. And obviously, one of the, we always get asked, outside of ourselves, who else should you study with, and PN is someone that we've always recommended. Obviously, a lot of our students might be familiar with your certification program.

Like I said, I did it myself back in the day. Kim's done it as well. The software has been around a few years. You touched base earlier on about a more recent launch of your PN Academy.

Do you want to kind of give us a little bit of, our listeners a bit of a blurb, spiel on that, what that is, who's that for, what that does? - Yeah. So PN Academy was just introduced at the end of last year, and it is a continuing education platform. So it's a subscription product. It features research reviews which are curated twice a month in which we give three timely topics that are on people's minds often.

And we write about those. We provide the scientific research. But mostly, we talk about what's the issue, what does it mean, what does this mean to coaching, what can you do about it, and what's the science behind it. And if there's any controversy, what's that? And we cite all the references. So as a coach, you don't have to spend all of your time researching everything.

You'll have at your fingertips the latest, greatest information so that you can stay up to speed as a coach. So research reviews are-- - It's very handy. - We also have webinars that are for that community. So, and there's a, everything is, they're both live, and then they go into on demand, whenever you want. You have, you become part of a community in which coaches help each other.

And there's a lot of self-help, but it's really dedicated professionals. We also, in there, have specialty courses, so small courses that you can take. And if you take a few of those courses, you can get a specialized certificate. So they could be in change psychology.

They may be in athlete, nutrition for athletes. They may be in a topic like intermittent fasting. So we have a whole host of specialty courses in there too.

So we have, there's a bunch of things in there. We introduced it first to people in the PN community. So if you have taken one of our courses, then we make you this offer. What we'll be doing soon, later this quarter, is opening this up to people that have taken a nutrition course from anybody, or they have nutrition education. So you don't just have to be in the PT community. So let's say somebody got their nutrition education through you guys and they feel very confident, but now, they want a place where they can subscribe to something cost effective, that gives them-- - And ongoing.

- This is a place where they can go in. So we're going to start inviting people in whether they have taken our nutrition course, your nutrition course, somebody else's course. Maybe they're an RD, or maybe they're just, they've been self-taught over the past 20 years and they're well qualified. Nobody has to be formally educated to be knowledgeable. We do want some baseline in nutrition understanding.

Otherwise, being part of this community probably doesn't create value. - Oh, I think it's a great tool. And you know, I'm sure you can attest to it too, Kim.

If I put my PT hat back on, doing 40, 50, 60 appointments a week and then trying to study on top of that, like having a place that basically, it sounds like it really just cuts through the crap of what's out there in the industry and packages and presents it in a way that is easy to absorb and integrate into your work week without cutting back on your time constraints. - Yeah, absolutely. - Yeah, for sure, 100%. - Yeah, so we opened that up under 60 days ago. There's thousands of members already around the world. - Wow.

- So it's a nice program, and it's great to see how people are receiving it and how it's being helpful to people. - Well, let's kind of take that last section there. You guys mentioned you opened it 60 days ago and you've already got thousands using it.

Obviously, that's a sign of a business that has been around for a long time, that has a large database, that is able to basically build and launch and scale products quite quickly. You spoke before about kind of, and this is for a lot of fitness business owners that are out there right now, one of the questions that we wanted to speak to you about today, because obviously, you've got a lot more experiences, for fitness industry entrepreneurs that are trying to grow their business and get it past that few million dollar point to the next level where potentially, they're able to grow it and scale it to a point where they can exit it, what would be some kind of success tips or tools that you feel that they could use to kind of get past that plateau point and really take their business to the next stage like, for example, the founders of PN did? - Yeah, so it's a great question, and I don't have magic, but I have a few thoughts to share. So one is a caution, well, a couple of cautions.

One, scaling is really hard. So it may be to go from, to get started is really hard. You got to be brave, and you got to believe in yourself.

So the first step is a super hard step. If you have some success, you've worked hard for it, and you've gotten to a point of success. The next step in scaling though could be really tough, and I think you need to be very thoughtful and reflective to say, "What do I really want? "Do I really want to scale? "And if I do, can I do it? "Do I have the skills? "Do I have the capital? "Do I want to bring in a partner? "If I have a partner "and I've been used to calling all the shots, "do I want somebody else calling the shots? "Do I want to have to make decisions with somebody?" So I think people, not unlike remote work, the notion of, hey, I want to scale my business way up, it sounds great, but it's hard, and you know that, right? - Well, I think you hit on a point there, like the why behind it.

Why do you want to do it? It's the same with a coach. I think a lot of kind of coaches or people, initially, they might be doing it from a place of ego, or because they perceive that there's some magic rainbow or light at the tunnel when it's not exactly always like that. And I think one of the other points that you mentioned is about skillset. I think, especially in the fitness industry, a lot of brands or people that have had success have started as trainers, not business people. And so they're SMEs.

They're subject matter experts in their field. But being a subject matter expert as a nutritionist is very different to being a subject matter expert as a CEO. - Yeah, so that was really where I was going to go next, and that is, I say it a little differently, know what you know, and admit and solve for what you don't know if you want to scale. And by the way, that needs to go back to the why do you want to do this, and are you really, do you really want to do this, because if you've grown up as a trainer, a, you probably didn't enter this business to say, "I want to become rich and famous." You probably entered the business because you said, "Hey, I love health and fitness, "and I want to help other people live a great life." And for some people, it works out, and they achieve some of those other things.

And for most people, it's, "I make a good living. "And you know what though? "I'm really happy. "I really feel I have fulfillment "because I'm helping people." So be honest with yourself about what you want because the second you bring in somebody, do they have your passion for helping people? Do they share in your mission? Are you willing to admit what you don't know in a role where you've always been able to control things because it's at a scale that you can manage? And that's a big transition. I think a lot of people have a hard time, a, finding a partner to help them scale, and b, be ready for that. There's probably more stories of people that tried to scale and didn't than those that succeeded or those that maybe didn't even try.

So I think you have to be super honest about that, and I think you're right. Unless you are somebody that maybe was in the business role then came to health and fitness, and now, you've got all those experiences, would you really be well equipped? So what PN did differently was even before they sold, as they started to scale up, JB and Phil brought in Tim, then they started hiring more people. Then I came in through the private equity firm to partner with Tim. And we have a professional Chief MarKeting Officer, and we brought in, I brought in a new Chief Financial Officer, and then we have a Head of Business Intelligence and Analytics. And then suddenly, you have all these experts in the business that didn't exist before.

Is that what you want? Because that's different. And so again, it may sound great, but it's hard. And we're dealing with a board, and we're dealing with a private equity firm, and behind them are limited partners. There's people's pension funds that count on this.

And there's a trick there too because people who work at PN, they don't come to work for PN because of all those reasons. They come or the mission. That's all they care about. And the fact that we're bigger, what that means to them is, "Oh, we can reach more people "and impact more people's lives in a positive way." That's great.

So we try to isolate them from the rest of that world, if you will, the challenges of that business, but those things are not easy. So again, I don't have magic tips for people other than to be honest, think through what you want. And there's going to, you're going to have to find and develop relationships that you don't have, and you're going to have to start trusting your baby to somebody else to help you grow and scale it if you don't have those skills. And most people probably don't have that if they come from a lifetime background in health and fitness. - Oh, I think it's 99.9% that they don't for a lot.

Even myself, with our journey, I've gone from being surrounded by a lot of industry professionals to these days, being surrounded by a lot of people from outside of the industry that come from a more corporate background because I've had the self-awareness to realize that, you know what, that's not my area of expertise. I know the product. I know how to position the product. But in terms of operating the product, someone else can do that. So one of the biggest things that I think I've, I think probably Kim and I have taken away from today so far, I think, whether it's with coaching clients, or if you're a fitness professional trying to grow your business, is self-awareness, asking others and asking yourself the tough questions and being okay with whatever the answer is.

I think we live in a very society, or we, a lot of us grew up in a place where there's fear of judgment. There's fear of, okay, that's a bad thing or a good thing, when a lot of the time, it just is a thing. And it doesn't really matter what it is.

Just accept it for what it is and move forward. - By all means. And yeah, that awareness, whether you're coaching individuals or thinking about yourself, I think is really important. - Yeah. - Yeah, I was going to say

I think it's one of those things within this industry where there's a lot of ego in the room or just when it's about keeping your own business and your own success intact. So thinking that, "Oh, I actually need "someone else's help here to scale," is actually quite scary for a lot of people, especially when it comes to personal trainers, coaches, even small gym owners who own a studio, to actually think that I need to bring someone else who's outside my little bubble is such a scary thought. But like you said there, it's probably the key to success there is being able to do that and impart someone else's expertise into your own business to grow. - Yeah, well said, Kim. - Now, Marc, we've talked a lot about 2020.

We're looking forward to 2021, and I love what you said there where there's a lot more hope in this year. What does 2021 hold for you and PN? Are there any exciting projects that are in the works at the moment? - Yeah, so I mentioned PN Academy, so that's certainly a big thing for us. Taking care of our team, making sure they're being mindful to get through to the other side here. But I would say the other big thing for us is I would say that this time next year, Precision Nutrition may just be called PN because we, like others, are recognizing that nutrition is vital, but it's only one element of deep health. And certainly, you guys understand exercise and movement and how vital that is, but you can't be successful there without the right nutrition.

But you can't be successful with those two without sleep and recovery, and you be successful with those three without being mindful and investing in self care. And so there's a lot of adjacencies that I'll just call it they kind of relate to the whole person, this holistic coaching, and I think we are rapidly expanding curriculum to make sure we're addressing those other elements of deep health. And I don't think this is so unique. I think we're all becoming more aware. I think we've been on a journey.

I'll just date myself a little bit. I used to live in Chicago. And during the Bulls, the Chicago bulls, the star was Michael Jordan.

I live in Chapel Hill now-- - You do know I'm the biggest Chicago Bulls, '90s, Michael Jordan fan, because Chapel Hill is where he's from. - Well, he came from Chapel Hill. He went to Chicago. I was in Chicago.

And I think about Michael Jordan in that era, and it was all about one thing. It was about athleticism. It was about the fact that he practiced, and he missed more shots than he made.

It was all about the activity. If you fast forward from that '90s era to our current era and you think of a LeBron James, he's talking about nutrition. He talks about sleep recovery. He talks about mindfulness.

I think as a, in our role, we've gone from the simple train, athleticism, understanding that to saying it's a whole person. - It's gone, I think, from an amalgamation of physical fitness to mental fitness and-- - That's right. - And one of the terms that we use, and we didn't make it up, but it's optimizing a high performance lifestyle that includes mindfulness, that includes sleep, that includes recovery, all these things.

I think it is the future of our industry. - Yup. - And I think that the comparative example between MJ and LeBron is spot on, because I think back then, it was about Jordan building his physique to deal with the Pistons, like as in building muscle and things like that so he could deal with the physical rigors of playing. Whereas LeBron today, it's about, he spends 1.5 million US per annum on his body. He'll sleep, his room temperature will have to be set at a certain time. He'll meditate.

These are things that just were not, they weren't around. They went around a decade ago. - Nobody was talking about it. And I always like to, when you look at professional athletes, sometimes they're the canary in the coal mine, what's coming to the general public, and I think that's what we've seen. - Yeah.

- So LeBron was early into this. It's come to the public. The beauty of our industry is coaches tend to be continual learners. Whether they have a formal education or not, they always want to learn and get better. So I think coaches are excited about that world where I can just help whole person, because it actually makes you, as a partner with your clients, even more important.

It's more like you're this life coach and health coach, not just a PT, right? And I don't want to diminish the PT's importance, but I'm just saying you're becoming even more important. - No, like, I think it's very accurate. When people use the term frontline worker, and obviously referring to medical doctors and nurses that are dealing with the pandemic and things like that, in some respects, the future of that when that settles down are fitness professionals because-- - Yeah. - Because we're the ones practicing trying to prevent disease through being holistically healthy, really. - Yeah, I tend to be, I like, sometimes I'm a little snarky about it and I'd like to say that we're all involved in healthcare and the rest of the people are involved in sick care.

- Good way of wording it. - But no one would argue with that either, right? - Yeah. - Because I think it's, when people get to that stage, it's because they haven't slept. It's because they haven't managed their stress.

It's because they haven't eaten a healthy diet. It's because they don't move. It's because their daily activity levels are very low. So I think it's exciting. I mean, you guys obviously have the team and the size and the scope to really do that on a really big and impactful level. - Yeah, thank you.

And by the way, obviously, there's people that have just the unlucky genetics club and they get something, they did everything perfectly and they need medical. And we get that, but the majority, I think, of health outcomes is driven by lifestyle choices. By the way, they may not be choices too. They could be circumstantial, right? I don't have the money, or I don't have housing and food, let alone time for my care.

So there could be a lot of other environmental factors that can be an impact. But for so many people, there's things they can do to address it. Now, by the way, something that could be getting in the way as a starting point is just it could actually be mental.

It could be anxiety. Our society, that's common. But again, if somebody reaches out and they want a trainer, that's why it's so important to have that discussion about what's important, what are you trying to achieve. And then you can, it can also help you really get to the right pace with those people, because for a lot of people, it's all about just tiny little steps.

If you try to throw it all to them at once, they fail. And if they go slowly, they can just build up habits, change their behavior over a long time. But you know what? That's more likely to be prolonged and really change somebody's life versus I promise to get you in shape in 45 days. - Yeah.

- I don't think that works. - Definitely. - That's right. Thank you so much, Marc. I think all of our listeners took heaps away from that, from coaching tips, to client retention, to bridging the gap when you're working remotely from home, and also how to scale your business. So thank you so much for your time today.

We really appreciate it. - Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity and want to wish everybody a very happy, healthy, and successful 2021.

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2021-04-13 01:08

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