We Are Our Only Saviours

There I was, sitting in a banquet room at the Hyatt Hotel that adjoined Grand Central Terminal in the middle of New York City, surrounded by 200 fellow meatheads when I, unexpectedly, received the best business advice of my life.

This wasn’t a multi-level marketing pitch for supplements or an offer to buy into a brick-and-mortar gym franchise, this was simply a nutrition seminar run by one of my all-time mentors, Charles Poliquin.

Charles is a legend in the strength and conditioning field, having trained hundreds of athletes at the professional and Olympic level. He also, almost single-handedly, developed the concept of hands-on, in-person education for personal trainers.

Charles was always ahead of his time, discussing concepts that it has taken the better part of a decade for the rest of the fitness world to fully grasp. In fact, there are currently multiple coaches and systems out there utilizing (sometimes giving proper credit, oftentimes not) his methodologies in order to make a profit.

(SIDE NOTE: As groundbreaking as Charles was, he could also say things that were completely without merit and unprovable. I often said that 85% of what Charles said was genius, 15% was bullshit. It was up to you to figure out which was which.)

I’ve been very interested in researching and studying business methodologies lately. The thing that strikes me about them is that they are not so fundamentally different from training. Stay consistent. Be willing to do the boring, repetitive work. Have the ability to delay gratification (resist the urge to chase quick gains at the sacrifice of long term results). These are the tenants of both successful business and long-term fitness.

But it was one seemingly throwaway, cryptic-at-the-time, sentence that Charles gave in the middle of a 30-minute “how to improve your business” diversion during our second day of scribbling in our notebooks that has, to this day, had the greatest impact.

“Just by being in this room you will see your business improve immediately.”

At first, I couldn’t get my head around what he meant. Thinking about it later that night I believed I grasped the concept but immediately filed it into that 15% bullshit column I mentioned earlier.

I mean, I get that the information I am learning here will make me a better trainer or nutrition coach. And that those skills can lead to being more in demand or feeling justified in charging more for my services.

But certainly I would have to apply those practices first. And how the hell would people even know I acquired any new information that was worthwhile? And, for sure no client was going to say, “Hey Dan, I hear you went to a seminar last week. Here’s another $50 per session.”

But sure as shit, by some magical force that can only be explained in the movie “The Secret” (IFKYK), my business did improve almost immediately.

Suddenly my clients were training more consistently. A colleague asked if I would do a nutrition talk at a company where he was doing some personal training. When that company had an office-wide weight loss challenge a few of the ‘competitors’ hired me as a coach. The winner – who was on my team – sent his mother to me. When she lost 15 pounds, she sent me three of her friends.

Reflecting back on it now, if I had to expound upon and clarify what Charles was getting at I would say it something like this:

The path to success – whether as an entrepreneur, business owner, freelancer or employee – is best achieved by investing in yourself. Increasing your skills and taking your task seriously is the most bullet-proof way to reach your business and financial goals.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t. In many ways, it takes a huge leap of faith and a lot of self-belief.

Charles’ seminars weren’t cheap. And when I took most of them I was an unpaid intern with a family and a mortgage. I had a lot on the line. The investment was very real for me.

But in many ways that is part of what made it work. If the price tag gets you a bit shook there is a great chance that you will take the opportunity a lot more seriously.

I had a client who would spend anywhere between thirty and seventy thousand dollars a month on executive coaching. Whether it was leadership or public speaking or personal organization, he put the highest priority on investing in himself and his skills.

And while he had the resources (he was the CEO of a large company) that type of money was still very real. And he never regretted any of it.

Sometimes it is hard for us to have enough belief in ourselves to make the investment. Funny how other people can see the potential and specialness in us much more clearly than we can see it in ourselves.

But if you aren’t where you want to go – in business, fitness, whatever – I can’t recommend investing in yourself enough.

Whether you dip your toe in the water or dive in head first, some level of reward awaits you.

You’ll improve just by being in the room.