Self-Made Summit 2019

Self-Made Summit 2019


Name Tag… WTF?!

I am co-owner of a gym; Workhorse Fitness, located in Columbia, SC. I had a great opportunity to attend the Self-Made Summit in Charlotte, NC this past weekend. One of my other businesses that I founded and have run for almost 10 years is an event production company. We created and produced a multitude of events, meetups, conferences and workshops;, & to name just a couple. Different industry than ‘gyms’ and ‘fitness’ but the event production aspect is related. 🙂

The Self-Made Summit was a very well run, very content intensive two days. I first thought that it was a little light on speakers but after the first day I realized that Stuart Brauer, the founder of the event was spot on and hit all the right notes for the subject matter. Now, we already work with Stuart via his WTF Gym Talk consulting services and have already gotten a ton of great insight and help from him in the micro-gym world of business. But this Summit was spot on and has us charged. There’s nothing quite like gathering like-minds together to share knowledge, frustrations, fears, wins/losses together in as honest a setting as it can get like this.

There are still plenty of things rolling around my skull right now. Here are some notes I took during the two days. This is not exhaustive nor is it meant to be. Consider this just shorthand highlights through the filer of my brain:

Day 1

Brandon Cullen, co-founder of MADabolic, opened up the day/event with his backstory and overview of how they are currently working on their expansion into Franchising. A lot of his insight is into the business side of franchising and there is just a ton of intel there to comb through. That said the current status of where I am in almost all of my businesses, is not, relatable to franchising or opening up multiple locations. Regardless of how good that insight was I found myself really excited by the straight up trainer talk he was dishing out in the first half of his talk. His background as a pro-athlete and hearing that he has experience in training as a fighter and within the fighting world peeked my interest a great deal:

Some Takeaways:
Intensity in training is a goal.
Strength is relative.
“Gameday” is not how you should train every day. Training should prepare you for Gameday.
They program in Quarterly Cycles (actually all 12 months at once) then program the specific WODs weekly or bi-weekly.

John Briggs of Incite Tax wasn’t really a speaker per-se but had some pretty insightful thoughts he shared with us. He is also a very cool human. He’s coming out with a book soon too:

Steve Pinkerton founder of Vitality Fitness spoke on evolving his CrossFit affiliate into a more all-encompassing ‘overall’ fitness centric foundation. EvoFIT he calls it and he runs every new member through it, then graduating those members up into more standard CrossFIT as desired/capable. The most notable thing that stuck with me was when he said not to just call it a ‘bootcamp’ and slap it onto whatever you have going on. To treat it with the same respect and approach as your main program and actually sink full effort into it and it will work.

We sat in on a great table discussion with Brandon as the last session of the day and were able to ask him and his team direct questions and get into some more detail with him.

Joe Tebaldi founder of Flexx was the last ‘speaker’ of the day. He really blew us away with his approach and tactical mindfulness for sales. He is probably the most quotable speaker of the entire event too.

Communication. Validation. Relevance.
This is the basic set of ideas he bounces all banding, messaging and sales off of. And boy is that relevant to where we are within our business’ process.

Quality depends on the customer’s frame of reference.
In this vein we need a 1 sentence, 3-4 sentence then a 5 minute sales pitch on our business. This is pretty common branding 101 stuff and i’ve been in and done it a thousand times when consulting with start-ups in the past, but the way Joe does within the Gym/Fitness space is mesmerizing.

People remember the emotion they had. Emotion matters, be positive! Don’t sell fear or fear of sickness. Sell the cool aspects of the community and how you will be validated by your peers for making the right choice with us.

Gym sales are based on 3 things: 1) Proximity to where they live or work 2) The person wants to look better 3) They will validate you on social and by looking at your website. Then “educating the consumer” is your job #1. If you are a CrossFit affiliate, then CrossFit does this for you with your $3k affiliate fee as part of their overall worldwide branding and marketing. But as a micro-gym owner, you don’t really get to leverage this…

These things aren’t like only for gyms, these are for just about any product or brick and mortar business that sells things, but i’d just never applied them in the ways he was discussing it to our gym members.

Day 2

Mike Jones, founder of Alchemy 365, went through the beginning to current status on the evolution of his business. Starting out as a CrossFit affiliate owner, owning something like 5 affiliates then developing their own approach to fitness based a lot off of Core Power Yoga and Orange Theory’s model and approach. It is largely a mixture of no-barbell based functional fitness and yoga fusion.

By the way, he also invented the Torpedo, which is a pretty interesting Kettlebell + Dum Bell thingy. I’d like to get my hands on one soon…

Going from his roots to his corporate owned locations his story if fascinating and I couldn’t help but notice his humility as he was talking to us and it made me wonder if this guy practiced any type of martial arts and sure enough, yep, he’s a Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt.

Takeaways from Mike:
C.A.R.E. Consistently Acquire and Retain Excellence will lead to Customer Acquisition, and Reduce Attrition…

Removal of Non-Core products and services. A-la Apple computer/Steve Jobs.

Net-Promoter Score – How likely are your customers to recommend you.
– How can we make things better?

They run a “Fresh Start” challenge:
4 Weeks, Weekly Check-ins, Diet Planning and Coaching- For New-Customers & current members
They run a Free-Week intro that they up-sell memberships into.

Stuart Brauer
Along with his WTF Gym Talk podcast and services he produced this event as well as owns and operates Urban Movement his micro-gym. He gave a really great run-through from start to finish of his rebranding of UM as well as the current situation of his branding by showing off the brand book he is about to roll out in his gym. Very thorough and thoughtful approach to how to share that intel with us.

Another great table discussion today with Joe Tebaldi where we went through a lot of what he spoke about the day before but more one-on-one. The way he sized up an attendees ‘1 sentence’ was amazing. The speed he showed with knowing his audience and business was awesome. Quite honestly Joe inspires me to get better at aspects of my other business roles in a huge way. Thank you sir.

Panel Discussion
We wrapped with a panel discussion with all the speakers they went through a TON of Q&A and covered some big ground, the coolest take away I had was when they went through their ethos statements:

Mike’s was:
Yes is the answer; what is the question?
Be F&%king awesome.
Be a Pro.
Pursue your legend.

Stu’s was:
Why not, not why. “Hold my beer”
Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it.
Be endearing/enduring. Via Glassman. 🙂
Be Positive.

One of the coolest things was the access to the sponsors. This is apparent in a small, by small I mean less than 100 people. In the past my events have had up to 800 people – not small enough… I prefer the smaller more intimate events like this greatly to the larger more Expo like ones. I sincerely hope Stu keeps it small next year again… Because of this we were able to get lunch with TRIIB and have them go through several things with us in regards to our business and how we use the product that we were up until then largely not able to accomplish with phone confs and online help tickets. Bravo in a HUGE way to that and TRIIB’s willingness to do that. So cool.

The other sponsors were top-notch. You could tell Stu personally endorses them and it shows. They were all very solid humans behind the companies and were all people that we made the rounds and spoke with one on one. Something iv’e very rarely done at events.


In many ways, I want this type of event for every day business people. I know they are out there, but in order to do that you’d dilute the message. The fact that the attendees were all Gym/Affiliate owners looking at change in their business was inspiring and what puts us all on the same footing which allows us to be honest with each other and the speakers. It’s intimate and true. Something you can’t say for many conferences and/or workshops that sell you the same lines about what it will do for you. Probably because Stu walks the walk with this consulting and in his own micro-gym.

This was hands-down one of the most honest, rewarding and thoughtful conferences i’ve been to in a long time. I’m inspired, charged up and ready to take on my business now. Thank you! Truly.