A few weeks ago, it was my 42nd birthday…and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life that is worth sharing is….it’s better to give than to receive.
Because of that, I’ll be unpacking a host of life and business lessons I’ve learned over the course of the weekend. I’ll share each one in three parts:
Part 1: The Lesson
Part 2: The source I learned it from
Part 3: My viewpoint on the lesson
Lesson 1: If You Don’t Know What You Want…Nobody Can Help You.
Source: Thom Plummer, Fitness Business Legend
My Viewpoint: The times I’ve struggled most in my life was when I was unclear on what I wanted the desired outcome to be.
The times where things seemed to click were when I’d wake up each day with clarity around what I wanted.
Lesson 2: If You Don’t Know What You Want, Write a Vision Story.
Source: Ari Weinzweig, Founder Zingermans Deli, an 80-million dollar food company in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
My Viewpoint: Visioning is quite possibly one of the most impactful business skills I’ve ever learned.
Whenever I get on the phone with Ari and ask a question, the answer he gives me is almost always, “I don’t man…why don’t you write a vision about it.”
This taught me two things: 1) Here’s a guy that runs an 80-million dollar business that tells me he doesn’t know, talk about being humble and having a beginner’s mind, and 2) I shouldn’t even bother asking for help until I get clarity in what I want.
Lesson 3: Cash is King.
Source: Michael Waldron, my CFO, and founder of Carmel Valley.
My Viewpoint: What Michael taught me back in 2010 served us very well in a global pandemic.
Cash is oxygen to a business, when you run out of money the business dies.
Having a cash cushion of 3-6 months of expenses will help you sleep better and enable you to not run your business from your heels.
Lesson 4: Pay it Forward.
Source: Mike Boyle, world-famous strength coach.
My Viewpoint: As a very young personal trainer, the great Mike Boyle took 3 hours out of his day to answer all of my stupid and ignorant questions.
When I asked him if I could pay for his time, he said to just pay it forward to others. I’ve never forgotten that day.
Lesson 5: Live a Guilt-Free Life.
Source: Paul Gough, Founder of Paul Gough Media
My Viewpoint: While money can give you freedom, true freedom comes in living a life without guilt, expectations, and being held back by fear. This was an eye-opener for me as someone that admittingly has had guilt about several different aspects of my life. I realize there are zero benefits to have ANY guilt and it must be left at the doorstep.
Lesson 6: Writing an Email a Day is the Best Way to Get Better at Marketing.
Source: Pat Rigsby, Fitness Business Coach.
My Viewpoint: When you commit to writing an email a day there is no possible way to do this without going deep into the minds of the people you’re writing to.
The goal of marketing is to enter the conversation already going on in the prospect’s mind, when you put yourself to the test to do this daily, your marketing skills will become better than you ever expected.
Lesson 7: Be Present.
Source: Vanessa Gabriele, my wife
My viewpoint: As someone that struggles with being in the moment, I only have to watch the love of my life each day…as there’s no one more present and in the moment as her.
Sometimes we take for granted the blessings of our weaknesses being strengthened simply by being around certain people. I have the good fortune that my wife has taught that to me by example.
That’s it for part 1.
Question for you before I go…
What’s the one business or life lesson you’ve learned over the years that stands out to you most?
Lesson 8: Comparison is the Thief of Happiness.
Source: My longest-standing coaching client, Kyle Newell from Hillsborough NJ
My Viewpoint: If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will always feel stupid. If you want to feel bad about yourself, reduce your confidence level, and diminish your self-esteem, compare yourself to your neighbor, your brother in law or the people that post on social media…and wish you had just a little of what they did. If you want to be happy, focus on the progress you’re making in life. If you’re not happy with your progress…you’re in the driver’s seat to change that.
Lesson 9: What other people think of you is none of your business.
Source: One of my Therapy Sessions
My Viewpoint: There’s a great chance that the more success you have, the more you’ll get criticized. I’ll never forget the email response where some guy told me to F off. I’m guessing he unsubscribed from this list but if you’re still here I’d just like to thank you for strengthening my immunity to criticism muscles.
The more you put yourself out there, the greater likelihood people won’t like, disagree with you, or say harsh things to your face…at the end of the day..what they think is irrelevant and none of our business.
Lesson 10: Create Your Own Version of Success.
Source: Jim Loher interview on the Tim Ferris Podcast
My Viewpoint: I used to define my success in direct correlation with my business…to make matters worse, our revenue was a big driver in that definition. When business was up I felt successful, when business was down, so was I.
I freed myself when I changed my definition of success. It’s been a life-changing decision. Success has a multi-part definition for me that includes my health, marriage, finances, relationship with my kids, my impact, my business, and some others.
Success is NOT a universal term…My definition of success will be different than yours. Only mine matters to me and only yours should matter to you.
Lesson 11: Hyper-Local Newspapers are a Tremendous Place to Market a Gym.
Source: The recent success of the newspaper ads we’ve been running at Gabriele Fitness
My Viewpoint: The only marketing media that should be off the table is the one that your clients never see. If NOT one of your clients is on Tik Tok, don’t bother.
The only dead media is the media that your clients no longer use. Direct mail will die when the US Postal service goes under…which will never happen. Newspapers will stop working when they go out of print. Facebook still works, it’s just more expensive than it used to be.
The worst number in marketing is one. If you want to grow your business you need many ways to get people to call you. Don’t underestimate media methods based on people saying it’s dead, that’s just a cry for attention. My favorite is people saying email is dead. You can’t stop the cockroach of marketing!
Lesson 12: The definition of Focus is Saying NO.
Source: Gordon Blocker, Consultant at the Table Group
My Viewpoint: At a company off-site I was silenced by what Gordon said to me. While trying to argue that we should have 10 goals instead of 7, he looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Vince, when everything is important, nothing is.”
Seth Godin has 2 rules for success: 1) Show-up and 2) Be Focused. Being focused is all about deciding on one thing and then repelling everything else for that moment.
The best tool for focus is a digital kitchen timer. Sit down with your work, put your phone away, set your timer, and work…on ONE thing until the timer goes off…You’ll be completely amazed at what you get done.
When you do this you’re saying no to people needing a second of your time, you’re saying no to the text you got, you’re saying no to all other work you could be doing. When you do this…you’re focused.
Lesson 13: Build Marketing Assets.
Source: The professor of harsh reality, Dan Kennedy
My Viewpoint: Recently, I launched a series of Father’s Day emails. I wrote them in 2019. I pulled them out, dusted them off, and spent 45- minutes tweaking the subject lines, adding an email or two, and a few other things.
The majority of them remained untouched from 2019. The result was our most successful Father’s Day campaign ever. That Microsoft Word file that holds those 7 emails is an asset…not a campaign. An asset that can make my business money year after year with very minimal effort each time we pull it out.
When you market your business, you should be creating assets at the same time…so you can create something great once that will multiply. It makes the case for slowing down and doing really great work the first time.
Build lots of these and you will create a small fortune.
Lesson 14: You get paid to think.
Source: Keith Cunningham, The Road Less Stupid
My Viewpoint: I think the women in my neighborhood think I’m a trust fund baby. While they are walking their dogs, sipping coffee, and having a casual conversation…it’s common for them to see me walking backwards, very slowly on my street at 10 AM on a Tuesday…Their husbands left for the office hours ago.
As a business owner, the faster you understand the goal to do less work IN your business and spend more time thinking about how to make it better…the faster your business will grow.
The best ideas never come while you’re working, they come while you’re intentionally thinking. Don’t forget to schedule that.
Lesson 15: Write in a Journal.
Source: About a dozen people that I respect and admire
My Viewpoint: The Stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius has a book called Meditations, much of what you know and read about personal development and success is in this book.
The book is a series of journal entries from a very long time ago that is read daily by millions of people today. Talk about a legacy. You never know if your journal will be the next meditations 500 years from now.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Journaling requires you to record your life, your thoughts, your ideas, and your struggles. It enables you to reflect about your life and from there make progress.
If nothing else, it serves as an emptying mechanism. It empties your brain from all the thoughts that are pinging around your head…which feels good. A good journaling session is close to a great therapy session. Use it..you’ve got too much going on not to.
Bonus Tip: Write in Cursive…Trust me on this one. Your brain will thank you for it.
Lesson 16: Become Fascinated with the Best in the World.
Source: Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Robbins, and Michael Jordan
My Viewpoint: What does it take to become the best in the world at what you do? I saw Adele live and she’s incredible. I saw the Boss Live on Broadway. Like his politics or not, he’s the best in the world. I’ve seen Tony Robbins live for 7 days straight in Florida and witnessed human performance. I watched Micheal Jordan play hoops growing up and re-watched him in the documentary, The Last Dance…no one better.
These people are talented…no doubt. But they have an additional gear, an additional amount of focus, an additional amount of drive.
The lesson is to watch them. See the best in the world in any category, LIVE. So you can witness their greatness and learn from them.
Lesson 17: Raise Your Prices.
Source: The several members of my Mastermind that have done this recently.
My Viewpoint: I’ve been teaching this for years. It’s the fastest way to drive pure profit that will pad your checking account, which is good for you, your team, and your members.
One of our top members recently paid for all 3 of his kids’ college tuition with one price increase. Another colleague of mine asked for my advice about improving profitability. I told him to raise his prices by $3 a session. The increase in monthly revenue covered his monthly rent, which was VERY expensive.
Hell, if COVID-19 didn’t take your business down, a price increase sure won’t either…but most people can’t stomach it. I’d rather have a stomach ache than a flat business.
Lesson 18: Find Your Highest and Best Value to Your Business…and Do That as Much as Possible.
Source: Darren Hardy, who I’m not a fan of, but his book, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, was very good.
My Viewpoint: There is some stuff as the owner of your business that you should do. Preferably the stuff that brings in the money…which at the end of the day is your job description. There’s a LOT you shouldn’t be touching with a 10-foot pole.
Putting a value on your time will help tremendously. If you value your time at $100 per hour then you could argue you have no business training sessions where you can get a trainer to do it for $25.
You’ll see massive growth when you focus on doing the highest value work for your business and delegate the rest.
Lesson 19: Learn How to tell good stories.
Source: Devin Gage, an SPF Mastermind member who asked me to teach him how to tell better stories.
My Viewpoint: I never learned how to tell good stories. One day people started asking me to help them tell better stories. I asked why they were asking me…they said because I was good at telling stories.
That was news to me. After reflecting, I realized I have done a 90- minute Zoom call with the SPF Mastermind every Wednesday for 3 years, have spoken on stage dozens of times, and have written thousands of emails. I also remembered the thousands of hours of podcasts, CDs, audiobooks, and seminars I’ve listened to. Only after that did I become a good storyteller. The best advice to get better at telling stories is to listen to good storytellers for thousands of hours and put yourself in a situation where you have to tell lots of stories.
But at the end of the day if you want to influence people, follow this: Facts Tell, Stories Sell.
Lesson 20: 8 Cool Things I’ve Bought Recently Worth Checking Out.
Source: My Credit Card Statement
Sonicare Toothbrush: The iPhone of toothbrushes. It’s like going to the dentist every time you brush your teeth without the pain and the big bill. Absolutely crazy we waited this long.
Chillipad: A mattress cover that keeps you cold while you sleep, has improved sleep quality according to my other cool purchase noted below, the Oura Ring.
Solo Stove: Possibly my favorite material item I own. Lots of good family and thinking time around the Solo Stove.
TheraGun: I sit way too much, this thing helps.
Oura Ring: Solved the wedding ring issue and gives me good feedback on my health.
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee: A staple in the AM that brought down our Starbucks bill dramatically.
Rewind Greens Powder: New company that fitness legend Ryan Lee started. The best-tasting greens I’ve ever had.
Hiking Boots: I splurged on these, but have been huge for when I take my daughter creaking in the woods.
Lesson 21: Making More Money is One Question Away
Source: McDonalds and Eavesdropping
My Viewpoint: “Do you want fries with that?” is the most profitable sentence ever known to mankind. I was watching my son’s basketball practice and overheard a guy talking to his landscaper. After discussing the project at his home, the guy asked a final question: “Do you also do power washing?” Based on what I could hear, the landscaper said yes and possibly doubled the bill.
Here’s what the landscaper should have thought…I should end every phone call with: “Just curious, do you have any areas of your home where you need power washing?”
It’s a gold mine of a question. Here’s why…not many people own power washers. The ones that do (like me) NEVER use it. If this guy took my advice, he could double his business with this question.
You could do the same for yours.
Lesson 22: Be Tough
Source: Teddy Roosevelt
My Viewpoint: Teddy Roosevelt got shot in the ribs on his way to do a speech. The doctors told him he must go to the hospital at once. Roosevelt did the speech anyway, before going to the hospital….and went for close to 3 hours with a blood-stained shirt.
Being a business owner is more about resilience than anything else. Those that can overcome challenges, obstacles, and problems fast will get where they want to go a lot faster.
I don’t claim to be tough like TR, I could never do the things the heroes in the military do. I often get scared, overwhelmed and sometimes don’t push through like I know I can.
The stories like TR, listening to people like Jocko, and realizing that life is for the most part a nice dream…snaps me back into reality and helps me push through tough times…even though they’re not really that tough.
Lesson 23: Learn to Be a Great Marketer
Source: Dan Kennedy
My Viewpoint: I heard Dan Kennedy preaching on this when he was hired by Weight Watchers. The CEO realized they were paying Kennedy more money as a consultant than the CEO was making in salary. Kennedy replied with “The reason I get paid more than you is I know how to put fat people in meetings.”
My life changed when I truly understood how to market. It’s a skill I work on daily and have committed to a lifelong journey of learning to be a better marketer. Marketing transpires to any business you ever decide to encounter. When you hold a skillset that enables you to give someone a piece of advice that can make them money immediately, people will pay you handsomely for it. When you can do this for your own business, you hold the keys to making money at will.
Lesson 24: “Buy Yourself a Swimming Pool”
Source: The Beatles
My Viewpoint: The Beatles were sitting around their new home and talking about how nice it would be if they had a swimming pool. One of them said, “Well, let’s write a song that will buy us a swimming pool.”
As a business owner, you hold that same power. People that are employed do NOT. When you own something, you have decision-making control. You can create and implement anything you desire that will bring you money whenever you please.
As long as you have a customer list and something to sell, you’ll always be in a position to ring your own register. It’s only limited by your own creativity. Unfortunately…this is a freedom many business owners never actually realize.
Lesson 25: 90% of Business Problems are People Problems.
Source: Mark Odonnel, Head Visionary of EOS
My Viewpoint: Most of the problems you have in your business can be traced back to problems with people. It could be the wrong person for your business, the right person but in the wrong seat, a lack of knowledge about their role, poor communication, etc.
A key question to ask when issues come up is, “Who owns this issue?” The real problem lies when you own them all. At the end of the day, the people issue live and die with you and me.
Lesson 26: Nose Breathing Changes Your Life.
Source: Breathe by James Nestor
My Viewpoint: As a lifelong mouth breather, my level of stress was elevated well beyond what it should be because of my breathing pattern.
After reading the book listed above, I am a committed lifelong nose breather.
Not much else to say here except close your mouth.
Lesson 27: Running Your Business, Parenting Your Kids, or Navigating a Disagreement with Your Spouse On Emotion is a Complete Waste of Time and Energy.
Source: Too many places to list this year
My Viewpoint: Our lives are shaped by one thing, and one thing only…our decisions. The better decisions we make, the better life will be. I’ve learned that letting yourself be run by your emotions never leads to making good decisions.
When you allow yourself to be run by your emotions, all logic and reasoning are diminished. Stay calm, breathe (preferably through your nose) and keep your heart rate low….and start to watch your life be enhanced.
This makes a huge case for being in good shape, doing breathwork, taking cold showers, and meditating. The less reactive you are, the happier you’ll be.
As a business coach, people pay me lots of money just to tell them to calm the F down. On the flip, I spend lots of my own money for people to tell me the same.
You can listen to the podcast here where we discuss the 3 most impactful lessons based on feedback we received.