In The Trenches catches up with Nathan Holiday, owner and creator of the Level Method, to discuss leadership, principles, values, planning, staff development, and a “before, during, and after” look at “readiness and resiliency”
Nathan Holiday is the owner and creator of the Level Method. In this episode Eric sits down with Nathan to discuss leadership, principles, values, planning, staff development, and a “before, during, and after” look at “readiness and resiliency” through this crisis.
Eric LeClair [0:04]
Welcome to In The Trenches a weekly podcast series dedicated to entrepreneurial leadership, the principles and values that define and develop it, as well as actionable steps that you can take to immediately lead your team to victory.
Good afternoon guys. This is Eric LeClair with PushPress and we have our next episode with a great friend, former coach at my affiliate and the creator of the Level Method, this is Nathan Holiday, great guy to have in your back pocket for solutions, and it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to bring him on our leadership discussion today. Nathan, you could do a little introduction for those that are watching and may not know you, for sure.
Nathan Holiday [0:50]
So Eric sort of mentioned it. I started coaching at his gym back in 2008 after I got out of the army. That’s really where I sort of got all my coaching skills and we sort of moved up the ranks, went into gym ownership, did some competition stuff and really just had been in the world of fitness for quite a long time. And then, after four or five years of owning a gym started going down the path of creating the Level Method, and that has been just a massive learning opportunity in so many different ways. And over the past now, four years, developed the Level Method more, our focus is to make gym owner’s lives easier in a variety of ways. And now my life is really taking care of the Legion, which is our group of gym owners within Level Method, and helping them in every way possible and taking the skills that I’ve developed and the experiences that I have to just, you know, help any way I can.
Eric LeClair [1:52]
Let’s dig in on that. I mean, obviously we’ve got a similar background where the term discipline or organization was necessary. Were there any defining, like leadership principles or values that you took from your time in the service and layered over any of your company or your development of your company?
Nathan Holiday [2:15]
Yeah, like, for me, my military experience, you know, if it was my trial by fire in the sense that it taught me how to deal with things that I didn’t like, you know, so I came out of I came out of that with a whole new outlook, but my real leadership development, I would say, came through business with really understanding that no one’s gonna do it. No one’s gonna come and help you the you have got to take control. And it took me a bunch of years to realize that, like, I was always sort of waiting and this happens, you know, when you’re younger especially. You just think that like, mom or somebody is going to come and help, but nobody ever comes. And unless you figure out how to do it, right, it’s not going to work. You know. And I think that that being best pushed into the dirt for so many years, and thinking that I should be having success, but not getting this success, almost like I deserved it. You know, that was really through enough of those experiences, I came out realizing that like, if you’re going to be going, make things happen, you have got to do the work. And then that’s really that’s the lesson.
Eric LeClair [3:33]
So if it didn’t come, let’s say, deeper down insights, I’ve really what I really want to ask is do you study this discussion? Or this discussion topic like is leadership, organizational leadership or direct leadership or you know, is it something that you value and spend time developing in yourself so that you can in turn, help develop your staff?
Nathan Holiday [3:54]
Absolutely, yeah. So I am a big fan of of archetypes and mythology. So anybody who studied the work of like Joseph Campbell or The Hero with a Thousand Faces you look through any of these stories throughout history and they have common themes you look at like a Star Wars is a common theme, the hero’s journey, this whole thing. And when you look at archetypes, there’s four primary defines of big ones right? And there’s a book by it’s the same name. It’s King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, right, so these four primary archetypes now the king is the leader. The king is the the person that is taking a look at the domain, it’s much more meta level. And then you have like the warrior mode, which is like the worker, the person doing the stuff. And so through my studies of archetypes and mythology, just these big things is really directed me into understanding what the primary roles of these different archetypes aren’t how they manifest in my own life. And if I’m if somebody things going wrong in my life, it’s generally an imbalance in one of these primary archetypes. So like the king mode as an example, it’s all planning. So having a key having an understanding of what you’re trying to do having vision, understanding how to communicate that vision, getting people on the same page. So if I see somebody who doesn’t, isn’t capable of doing that, as opposed to thinking, oh, there’s something wrong or whatever, I look at it as an imbalance of the archetypes. We got to take a step back and sort of rank these different areas and figure out what’s lacking, and then figure out what needs to be done in order to to move those things forward. So like, in my own practices, I mean, I’m very obsessive in a lot of different ways. But I do a weekly review. I’ve done a weekly review for a couple years very diligently every weekend. There’s time spent to take a look at these sorts of things and I go through these steps. And it’s a little it’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it. Because each week I take a look at what happened the past week and I sort of plan my next week. That’s all King work. And for first 10 years, I didn’t do any of that work. I was just, I was reacting just going through and we’ll get to where we are now to Coronavirus and all that sort of stuff. But when when stress comes into our lives, and there’s a whole bunch of stuff that we cannot control, it’s very easy to go into reaction, it’s very easy to go into pure warrior mode, where you’re just in it going trying to survive trying to do all these things. But really, the value is going to be in taking a step back into that King mode and and taking a look at all the different areas of your life and working to balance and as the King, you then assign different duties to these different other roles, right so your warrior role a king role would be I’m looking My week, I have my primary outcomes that I want to do for my week. I look at my day, I structure out my day I’m get up at this point, I’m the king. I’m like, this is what’s gonna happen. And then when I wake up in the morning, I’m now warrior mode, and I’m going through my day, and I’m taking a look and I’m listening to the Kings directions. Where is it?
Eric LeClair [7:19]
Yeah, just chipping away, knocking them down.
Nathan Holiday [7:21]
Right, just one at a time. And now if I fail as a warrior to follow the plan, that’s a whole other set of things. I got to take a look. I got to see what’s in balance did I did I give myself too much of a crazy schedule, am I, you know what’s going on. But I feel most satisfied and most fulfilled with my work specifically, when I’ve looked at things and I’ve defined what it is that I want. And I’ve clearly defined my outcomes. And I know if I had been successful, I haven’t been successful. If I’ve not been successful, then it’s simply let’s go look and see what went wrong and how we can fix it for this upcoming week. So the constant learning, it’s not like I have all the answers or I know, magically, suddenly, you know, this has been an ongoing thing for me a constant, a constant study the out of frustration for not having balance, you know, the lover in the archetypes is all communication connection with yourself being able to rejuvenate, you know, the physical environment, touch all that sort of stuff his lover world. And if you’re not, if you’re missing that you’re going to be missing out a lot of passion in life, so they all weave together, but the king leader, and the one who has direct and I find a lot of entrepreneurs and this is this was me for many, many years. I didn’t want to define what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to be relegated to something now that this is but the whole idea is that once you make the decision, you can morph you can make little adjustments as you go but you have the general idea and you done the work, the thinking, the thinking is the most important thing. It’s one of the hardest things to do is to sit and think and come to conclusions and figure out what it is that you want and what you’re going to do about it, then you map out your plan. And then it’s warrior mode.
Eric LeClair [9:17]
So that brings me literally to the next step. I mean, clearly that structure that you’ve set for yourself, has laid the framework for you to be able to deal with the, you know, the present day, pandemic, and you’re able to have options you’re able to, to delegate to communicate, to organize to structure, I mean, I get a chance now luckily, to think outside of the gym ownership spectrum and look and watch how the Level Method has impressed upon other gym owners made their lives easier. I mean, within 12 hours, I think of some of whether California was mandated or whatever. I mean, you guys had immediate solutions. You had an immediate response with the resiliency challenge. And it was like you, it was in your back pocket already. You were like, hey, I’ve got the solution for you. Here you go. Right and flow, like the workflow was seamless. That wouldn’t have been possible had you not arranged from the king on down your order and the planning. Am I correct?
Nathan Holiday [10:20]
Yeah, like so essentially, I looked at the Corona, everything, what you focus on is what you feel and how you view things, you know, so when I, when this whole thing started happening to me, it was an opportunity to really just step up, like, here’s a bunch of craziness that’s happening, what can we do to actually make a difference? And so I’ve been challenged for years and years and we have this, the resilience challenge was a repurposing of something that had been previously built. And there was a ton of work you know, I called up John and my business partner and we were like, you know, talking like, look, we should probably do some sort of thing that does this. Well, as soon as we made that decision, I mapped out the plan. So we sat down mapped out the entire plan, what are the elements that need to be in place to have a successful thing and all of these different areas. And when you look at mapping out a plan coming back to the king, it’s about defining the vision is really defining the outcome, what is the outcome that you want to do if you weren’t by to do lists only, and you work by action steps only, you’re going to get caught into the details, you’re not going to be able to see the bigger picture. But if you think about outcomes, as the primary thing, outcome is like this end result. Now how I get to this end result, it can be a whole different variety of ways, right? Yeah, it’s gonna, I might get mixed up. But if I have that picture of where I’m going, I can look at that constantly and brings me back and I’m like, Okay, now with all the assets that I have, what can I do to get to that result fastest and most efficiently? So that’s what we did. With with the Level Method, immediately the entire business changes. Everybody’s experienced this every business that anybody has me now a completely different business, like you’re doing something completely different now. So you got to think to yourself, well, what’s the outcome? What do I need to be focusing on in order in this new environment to continue to deliver, you know, a product or service or whatever it is. So the buckets that we focus on on a day to day basis have changed. So before I might be focusing on intros and doing okay, that’s all gone. Right away, we’re moving to a virtual coach. And so then it’s like, Okay, if I’m going to do a virtual coaching business, what are the things that need to be in place? Well, I need to make sure that I have a way of giving the programming, I need to make sure that I have a way of keeping the quality high. I have to have a way of giving somebody workouts that are predefined and good. So the Level Method now we came up with we needed an engagement, a way to engage and this is universal. You can, any gym owner can use ideas because it doesn’t matter again, our the way we did it was through like a resilience challenge. But the outcome was to engage our members, right, we need to have some sort of community engagement thing. That’s the outcome. And so all across the world now you see different people doing that in different ways. So when you do engage the members, and then we did at home workouts, which was just to provide a high quality, you know, good workouts for people. And so those were the two factors that we had with Level Method was at home workouts and resilience challenge. These were the two central pieces now in my gym at the gym level, it moved immediately to keeping people engaged and then keeping the communication and the the relationship totally tight. You got to make sure that and the way to do that is individual program design mixed in with whatever sort of community and zoom events you can possibly Do we got to mix those things in. But again, the outcome is the same. We got to get provide our clients with an exceptionally good service, where they know we care, where we’re communicating them on an ongoing basis is as quickly as possible. They put something in, we put something back. And then we need a way of spinning up the environment for the broader community. Pretty simple outcomes again, the way you do it is I’ll give ways to do it.
Eric LeClair [14:26]
I love it. I love it. I’ve heard nothing but great comments and feedback for the gyms that we touch base with now through PushPress that are leveled at the gyms that are running the resilience challenge. They’re taking attendance, they’re having a high level of communication, they have high touch points to celebrate. And you get to think to yourself at the end, or extreme you say the end, how long this goes for. That thing can continue to move like obviously it can be rebuilt and rebuilt and rebuilt because how long does this go for? None of us know, right? Maybe it’s May, maybe it’s June. Have you had a discussion yet with your coaching staff about pivot points or ways you care to change if need be if this goes longer than, let’s say longer than May?
Nathan Holiday [15:14]
Yeah, right away. We mean, all of the steps, you know, you, one of the very first steps that we had within at a gym level, is getting the team completely cohesive rowing in the same direction. Everybody knows what we’re doing, and the basic, the foundational idea is that we’ve got to engage and we’ve got to do true coach, essentially, this is like, or not coach any way of doing it, but it’s an individual program designed so that that became the highest priority is like, in our meetings, we’re discussing now, all the things around making sure that we have defined I mean, define what the outcome for the client is. Each client is different. Some clients don’t want necessarily to be trying to get a bunch of, you know, they don’t want to run a mile in five minutes, they want to just stay consistent and get some structure in their day. And so when we you clearly talk about and so these are the sorts of discussions we’re having with coaches, where it as an owner role, my job is to sort of I have my team, I have my team of coaches and I want to keep them with income, I got it, I got to figure out the way they’re gonna they’re going to make some income Well, they normally would be coaching these amounts of classes and whatever they’d be making this amount of money so how do we more fat and be able to do the same thing you know, like there’s a each community each gym is going to be different but that that communication with the coaches so that they know like, Okay, this is going to be it’s going to be like this for a little while until we can then bridge back into regular stuff. But yeah, the the ongoing coaching meetings is super important, and you’ve got to reinvigorate from a coach, from an owner standpoint and we’re talking about the king role, the leader role. You’ve got to reinvigorate constantly it’s up to you.
Eric LeClair [17:08]
Yeah like daily I mean that’s gonna be the role, constantly deliver information.
Nathan Holiday [17:13]
Oh yeah. You’ve got to reinvigorate it sucks you know you thinking I don’t want to be a cheerleader or whatever Okay, it’s well if you don’t want to do that then just prepare be prepared for people to be sitting in their frickin living rooms getting all like depressed and not doing shit. Yeah, exactly. They just get this is what’s gonna happen unless you’re on top of it and you’re talking to them and you’re addressing these issues. You’re getting people excited, because again, the the Coronavirus environment, everybody’s looking for somebody to help them sort of show them the way like, right where do I go? What do I do, and if you’re that person, your clients are going to stay with you because they’re looking for that. I mean, unless they can’t because they’re lost their job or whatever. But for the vast majority of people There are okay, you know, and it is the majority, we look at these unemployment numbers, and it’s a staggering number, but it’s still the majority is going to be okay. It’s the people that are losing. I mean, it’s just a horrible situation. But we have that and with the clients that we can keep, we can keep them motivated and excited. You know, that’s, that’s the goal. I kind of lost my train of thought, when I’m setting up the unemployment numbers.
Eric LeClair [18:25]
Because that’s, that’s the reality is that a significant portion is going to be able to stay engaged. I mean, that then we come to the point of, then what people come back, the gyms start to thrive. But what if a gym owner doesn’t make it there? I mean, we know I personally know a handful of gym owners that are at the brink of failure. They for a myriad of reasons, but they’re at the brink of failure or they are very close and if you were to deliver maybe not even Inside, but like, what would you say to them if you had a chance to face with them.
Nathan Holiday [19:04]
So I mean, there’s, there’s only a few, there’s only a few things we can do. Number one, if you’ve lost a bunch of clients, you’ve got to get clients. Now the thing is, if you’ve already lost them, because for a number of reasons, these are all warm clients, these are prospects now, and you’ve got to win them back. You’ve got to show them why they are missing out. It’s the fear of missing out you got to show them why your community is still buzzing, why things are still awesome that you have all these cool programs. You know, you’ve just got it, you’ve got to fake it until people start coming back the prospects that are out there going cold and trying to get Facebook leads and all that sort of stuff. That’s not the best idea. You want to go right to everybody that you already have a relationship with and reach out individually. You got to go back to this like grassroots style of individual calls and Individual emails talking to them get I mean, it’s gonna be an exorbitant amount of work. You think that I want to put all my frickin my all of my people in true coach, right? If anybody who’s ever done any program design knows that. Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of work. I said 50, 60, 100 people, 150 people in true coach, we’re talking about a load. So number one right away, you’ve got to be starting to pull people in that door. I mean, this is my opinion, pulling them in that direction, and training your coaches on how to deliver outstanding service, right and having a set program. So this is what we’re doing what I recommend with Level Methods, specifically, we’re delivering at home workouts that are designed to be done at home. They’re comprehensive, they’re good workouts. We’re putting a lot of time into this. And it seems to me even now that a lot of people have missed the opportunity because what they’re doing is they’re delivering workouts to their members like, here’s a group workout that we’re doing and then they’re getting levels as opposed to taking those workouts and delivering them spaced out in true coach done for you already I just got to put the workouts in. And then on my, you know two or three home workouts a week with some simple progressions for any of their weaknesses or maybe some habit development or some mental stuff. Yeah, some things that get them engaged and you build that relationship all the programming is already done for you. And now you’re putting them in you’re making adjustments based on the workouts that they have or sorry, the equipment that they have, you’re and you’re just you’re free flowing with it, but you’re delivering you’re keeping that that engagement and that connection and the relationship alive,
Eric LeClair [21:39]
Which is outcome anyway, so how they’re getting there, right could be different for the 150 clients.
Nathan Holiday [21:44]
Exactly. Each person is going to be a little different and they’re not going to leave if they know that you care about them and that you’re delivering them value. right there’s a we did a little thing before like people that are we hoping that people don’t quit because they want it’s more of a challenge. Already stopping and no offense to anybody that’s doing that, right. That’s, you know, there is something to be said about that. But my thinking is that we want to deliver value that’s so outstanding that they’re not going to quit even if they like they’re going to be like this would be ridiculous to me like what I’m getting this is awesome. I’m making progress I’m, I have a coach that cares about me and you know, when it’s like, again, every community is going to be a little different with the relationship you have with your clients. Some communities don’t know anything about true coach, and I’ve seen zoom classes work really well. But in order for them to work well where you do group zoom classes, you’ve got to pay attention to the details and you’ve got to deliver value. So that’s that if you’re doing zoom it means that you’re coaching individually you’re touching base with people you’re sending attaboy cards the same way as you would have normally you know, it’s not now just suddenly a free for all I can just sit back and not even have to worry about it. No, it’s gonna be even more, you know. And so when I see, there’s gonna be a lot of struggle out there for sure. But the app, the stress and the anxiety that that bubble up to the surface comes from not being action biased. You want to be action bias. Now, if you’re gonna take action, though, you better be sure that it’s the right action. And in order for it to be the right action, you’ve got to do the thinking. And the thinking comes through planning. So you’ve got to take a step back, go into King mode, plan out your stuff, you got to figure out what the most valuable actions are, and then frickin double down on those actions. And what I’ve been saying now, all these little things, these are the actions that we’ve decided upon, and these are the ones that we’ve we’ve gone I’ve lost one person at my gym, and it was an entrepreneur who owns like five breweries. So he and his four kids, he’s out of luck, but I keep them on my schedule the same way so I’m programming for even though he’s not paying, I don’t care it’s about that relationship and helping him cuz he’s going to need some stuff anyway you know, and the lack of losing a lot of people come solely from being able to pivot, getting everybody into a platform that I’m we’re able to deliver value and then spinning up as much to the community as we can and just keeping things cohesive. So and then a really important thing is always casting the vision, casting what’s coming, this is gonna stop, you know, at some point, you know, it’s going to stop and we’re just going to hit the ground running just like we never even stopped, right. We’re just gonna keep on rolling. Right? And when people know that they’re like, yes, cool. This is, this is good.
Eric LeClair [22:02]
That’s it and that’s the winning the winning strategy and winning team to be a part of a someone that can have that vision that I can follow right? sincerely appreciate your time, your wisdom, your knowledge, most importantly, your friendship through the last 14-15 years.