Jim Labadie Interview with Eric Cressey

About the Author: Eric Cressey

LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar Recap

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone – both attendees and speakers – who came out to the Los Angeles seminar this weekend.  In particular, a HUGE thanks goes out to Andy Susser on a great job organizing the event.  He did a fantastic job of scoring an excellent facility and pulling together a great lineup of speakers, an enthusiastic audience, and several generous sponsors, including Biotest, APT Wrist Wraps, Staley Training Systems, Zach Even-Esh, Mike Robertson, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dan John, and I.

Next up will be Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp, followed by “The Sturdy Shoulder” seminar October 28th here in Boston at Excel Sport and Fitness.  For more information on registration for the shoulder seminar, drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com.

Congratulations to Greg Panora!

I wanted to take a quick moment to congratulate my good friend Greg Panora (Westside Barbell) on a tremendous accomplishment.  This past weekend, Greg squatted 1000, benched 685, and deadlifted 800 for a 2,485 total to surpass Steve Goggins’ world record in the 242-pound weight class.

What makes this feat even more impressive is that Greg contacted me less than a year ago to help him out with some back problems he’d been having.  At the time, Greg couldn’t even put a bar on his back, and several doctors had recommended that he give up powerlifting altogether.  Less than a year later, he’s pain free and the #1 lifter in his weight class in unarguably the most competitive powerlifting federation around.  My interactions with Greg gave me an appreciation for just how “hardcore” corrective training can be if you really understand both the psychological and physiological ramifications of having an injury when you compete at a high level.  And, he’s a perfect example of how you sometimes have to take one step back to take two steps forward.  If more lifters had the discipline Greg has demonstrated, I’d see a lot fewer injuries – and those who are injured would heal up a lot quicker.

Nice job, buddy.

Jim Labadie Interview with EC

A few weeks ago, fitness business expert Jim Labadie interviewed me for his newsletter.  The main focus of the interview was how I’ve managed to pull things together at the ripe ol’ age of 25.  Jim didn’t use all the content, so I figured that we’d post it here rather than let it disappear into the archives of my hard drive.  Additionally, in light of this past weekend’s LA seminar, I decided to add some tidbits.  The following comes in response to the question, “To what do you attribute your success at such a young age?”=

1. Mentors

I have to give a ton of credit (and thanks) to several mentors who have looked out for me with respect to training/nutrition and – probably most importantly – business.  Hard work and learning from your mistakes can take you as far as you want to go, but if you want to get there faster, you’re best off seeking out the advice of those who are where you’d like to be.

I’ve been fortunate to have guys like Alwyn Cosgrove, Dave Tate, John Berardi, Jason Ferruggia, Mike Boyle, Joe DeFranco, and – more recently – you and Ryan Lee.  I only wish I had found out about you two sooner; things would have come about even faster!  You can’t be an expert on everything, so it’s to your advantage to have a solid network of mentors to which you can turn when an unfamiliar situation arises.  Chances are that one or more of them has been there at some point, made a mistake, and learned from it; why bother to make that same mistake on your own?

Case in point: Alwyn and I had a running email dialogue going about two months ago.  I have one emailed saved in which he referred me to his production and shipping company (Vervante), recommended a great liability insurance agent to meet my needs (clubinsurance.com), and recommended two books by Thomas Plummer that have been great.  That email saved me thousands of dollars and countless hours on trouble.

A conversation I had with Dave Tate about four months ago really solidified this concept in my mind.  Dave did a tremendous job with his physique transformation with John Berardi’s nutritional guidance.  Truth be told, though, Dave knows nutrition better than you might think; he actually minored in it in college!  However, soliciting JB’s advice was in Dave’s best interests; John is really up-to-date on optimal nutrition and supplementation strategies.  Why would Dave want to spend hundreds of hours reading up on recent developments in the nutrition world when he can be studying up on public speaking, running a business, developing great equipment, and making people stronger – the four things for which he is best known?  A few phone calls and emails to John was the smarter – not longer – way to work.

2. A Variety of Experiences

I can’t overstate how valuable it has been for me to experience as many different realms within the fitness industry as possible.  I’ve worked in general fitness settings, collegiate strength and conditioning, and now athlete-specific training in the private sector.  I’ve worked with some great physical therapists, and in the human performance laboratory of the #1 Kinesiology graduate program in the country (The University of Connecticut).  I’ve spent a year training at South Side Gym, one of the world’s most renowned hardcore powerlifting gyms.  At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve done a six-month internship in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation during my undergraduate years.  All these experiences have given me a better frame of reference from which to coach, write, and speak at seminars.  And, as a competitive athlete who practices what he preaches, I have a more informed perspective to offer those who have competitive aspirations as well.

3. Reading about Business instead of JUST Training

Third, more recently (thanks to recommendations from ALL of the aforementioned mentors), I’ve been paying as much attention to business reading as I do training/nutrition reading.  I’ve already read hundreds of training books (and I’ll continue to read them), but in the grand scheme of things, increasing my training knowledge 5% probably won’t change my income or “brand equity” much at all.  If I increase my business knowledge, though, both will increase pretty rapidly, as that’s the area with the greatest room for growth.  It’s not any different than giving more attention to your weaknesses in the weight room, if you really think about it.

Our DVD and my off-season training manual are perfect examples.  These are training ideas that have been rattling around in my head for years now, but it took business “know-how” and enough confidence in my ability to bring them to market to make them a reality.  On a semi-related note, I should note that (assuming you have the right business partner), joint ventures tend to work best on big projects.  Mike Robertson and I work really well together, so when we decide to bring something new to market – as was the case with our DVD back in January, and a DVD set of our July seminar that will be out in October – things fall into place much more quickly.  It’s nice to be able to split tasks up, and more importantly, you always know someone is waiting for you to get your s**t done.  The deadlines are always built-in; you can’t procrastinate.

4. An Appropriate Outlook on Continuing Education

Fourth, I’m positive that my outlook on continuing education has played a huge role in getting me to where I am today.  If you ask most trainers to spend $199 to attend a seminar, they say that it’s too expensive.  However, if you asked them to put $199 into the stock market with a guarantee that it would increase their income, they’re call it a wise investment.  Does anyone see where I’m going with this?

Apparently, going to training and nutrition seminars in order to become a better training isn’t a wise investment; it’s just an “expense.”  Last time I checked, when all things are held equal, good trainers make more money than bad trainers.  In fact, I can speak from experience as someone who specializes in corrective training; I spend a lot of time fixing the damage some crappy trainers have done.  I get the clients’ referrals, and the “other guy” gets all the public criticisms.  Are those seminars, books, DVDs, and CDs still “expenses?”

And, these same people don’t seem to think that business education for trainers is a worthwhile investment.  I can say without wavering that this couldn’t be more off the mark.  Before I got into the fitness industry, I thought I wanted to be an accountant – so I spent two years at Babson College, the best entrepreneurial school in the country according to Business Weekly.  They taught me a lot about how great companies like Dell and GE operate – but they never talked about the fitness industry.  As much as I learned about business in a general sense in those two years, I can honestly say that VERY little of it applies to what I do on a daily basis now.  Our industry is entirely unique, and that’s why products from guys like you, Ryan Lee, and Thomas Plummer are paying themselves off hundreds of times over.  I’d call that an investment – not an expense.

People also need to remember that a lot of these expenses can be written off at year-end.  If you’re incurring income as a result of these expenditures, they’re business expenses (although you should still view them as investments).  I never lost all the accountant in me – especially since I’ve got three CPAs in my family.

I’ve invested over $8,000 on continuing education this year – and it’s only September.  Brian Tracy has said that reinvesting 3% in your continuing education is one of the most valuable career moves you can make.  That’s only $1,500 for a trainer earning $50K, but it would give you any of the following (or a combination of several):

·        6-7 two day seminars

·        10-15 one day seminars

·        15 manuals

·        30 DVDs

·        40-80 books

Think about what happens with a seminar, DVD, book, manual, or any other information product.  A qualified professional devotes hundreds and possibly even thousands of hours to pulling together loads of information in an organized format – and then sells it to you for a tiny fraction of the costs he incurred to gain this knowledge.  You don’t have to devote nearly as much time to acquire the information, either.

Seminars in particular are a fantastic expenditure not only because of the information presented, but also because of the networking opportunities.  To be honest, at this point, I look forward more to talking shop with colleagues in the audience than I do to the presentations!  This past weekend alone, I chatted at length with:

Factor in that I also presented to 65-70 seminar attendees on Saturday and Sunday, and then to another group of high school athletes and parents Monday night, and you’ll realize that I had the opportunity to interact with a ton of avid trainees.  You never know what training secrets they’ll bring to the table, or how they’ll add to the frame of reference you possess as a coach.  I’d also like to add that I saw Jessica Simpson at the airport – but I’m still convinced that the paparazzi were just there to see me!

With all that said, here’s your chance to see for yourself.  On Saturday, October 28th, I’ll be giving my first seminar at Excel Sport & Fitness Training.  We’re keeping the cost down because we want this to double as an “open house” for the new facility – but I can assure you that I’ll be going into a ton of depth on the seminar.  And, just as importantly, there will be a ton of big names from the industry in attendance – meaning that you’ll have loads of opportunities to network.  For more information, email ec@ericcressey.com.

5. Hard Work

This one probably should have gone first, but that wouldn’t have made for much of an interview, huh?  I’m not going to lie: I come from a family of hard-working perfectionists in which mediocre just isn’t acceptable.  There are a lot of people in the fitness industry who are working hard already, but need to learn to work smart.  However, there are also a lot of trainers and coaches out there who are flat-out lazy and need to get with the program.  I didn’t spend a penny on alcohol in my college career, as I worked every weekend, volunteered in any fitness capacity that I felt would advance my career, and trained to compete at a high level myself.

I’m not saying that people have to follow in my footsteps; hell, what I just typed doesn’t sound fun to me at all!  But, at the same time, I think that the take-home lesson is that you have to be willing to make some sacrifices and use some elbow grease if you’re going to get to where you want to be.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

That does it for this week.  Have a great week, everyone.