The following is from my DVD with Chip Conrad (if you decide to order the DVD or digital file, use the coupon code ‘Arcata’ for a 25% discount). I like it a lot as it sums up something that I really believe in: the dialogue between coach and athlete rewards not just the two of them, but generations to come. Enjoy.
This is a big one: Your best press agents are your clients. Your best press agents are your clients.
Anytime I have someone referred to me, I find out what the referrer said, because whatever I’m doing right, it’s good enough that the person to send somebody else my way. Whatever they say, I want to know about it.
Those two things he mentioned suddenly become much more important in my career. I look at those two things. Now it might be, “We train hard, but we have fun.” All of a sudden, I hear, “We had fun. We trained hard.” Whatever that means to him, I have to keep doing that. Your press agent, fire her. Go talk to your clients who were referred.
I have coached generational families now. I’ve coached not just brothers and sisters, but actually I’ve done mother and child. It’s interesting when you hear that feedback. When a parent comes in and says, “I remember doing that.” Good! That’s obviously something that works if it lasted that long. “This is new.” “I saw that at a clinic. What do you think about that?” “It looks stupid.” “Yeah, I think so too.” “Let’s go back to what we’ve been doing for 50 years.” It’s generational.
I’m going to give you just a few quick keys here.
First, don’t believe your press clippings. When I look at my vitae online, I am wonderful. I’m far too good for all of you. Why they didn’t carry me in on a chariot, I have no idea.
Seriously? You have to be really careful about that stuff.
What’s going to happen if you believe your own stuff is that you’re going to forget Rule #1: Your client’s goals are the most important. You must constantly live there. Your client’s goals are number one. Your athletes and your clients are the truth.
Listen, I know tons of personal trainers who have great relationships with their clients and their clients don’t make any progress. They’re paying by the hour to have a best friend. They talk. They laugh. They chat or walk with each other. I’m paying $150 an hour, so I can talk to them about my life. You have to give results, folks. You have to have results.
Anytime or anywhere a client refers someone else back to you, that’s your gem. That’s your goldmine. Get out the pick and shovel. Go dig, dig, dig, and find out what that was, why that person is sending someone they care about to you. That’s where the money is.
Here’s how I know what I did right. I do this unusual little thing: I ask. I ask.
My athletes owe me a letter. I coach track-and-field for free. What I ask in return is, “I’d like you to sometime sit and write down what you learned.”
John Richardson only took third place in the State of Utah in a high-school track meet—only third. I told the coach at Utah State he should be the number one recruit. He later became a Big West Champion three years in a row, so I got that one right. I asked him, “Well, what did you learn from me?”
Now he’s an engineer down in Arizona. Years later, I get this letter, and he wrote, “The best thing I learned from you is ‘they can’t all be gems.’”
I use it in my life: They can’t all be gems. If you’re a discus thrower, not every throw is going to be beautiful, perfect and awesome. When that happened at the track, I’d say, “Well, we can’t all be gems.”
If they had a bad track meet, I’d say, “Well, we can’t all be gems.”
When I asked Paul Northway about what he learned, he said, “Tweaking.” Every year he would come in and I would tweak his program. I didn’t throw away 90% of it. I threw away one or two things and made one or two things better. Look around your gym. What are the things that work? What are the things that make you good?
Obviously, I think it should be about an 80/20 relationship. Eighty percent of the stuff you do will never change. Twenty percent, play with it and tweak it. Now the hard thing is you’re not sure what the 80/20 is.
I asked Devin, who went on to throw for Ohio State, “What is it you learned from me?” He wrote me back, “Coach, you always had the answer.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I made the answers up. I literally made them up. “What am I doing wrong?” My brain would be going, “I have no idea. It’s a shot put.” I would come up with something. “You have to blah, blah, blah.” “Ah, thanks so much, Coach.”
Ask. Do what I did. Ask your clients what they’re learning. Let them help you become a better coach.