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Weekly Thoughts: BTSB – The MisFits are Coming with Seth Page of MisFit Athletics

The MisFits are Coming with Seth Page of MisFit Athletics

In Episode 3 of Big Time Small Business, we talk with Seth Page, co-founder of Misfit Athletics, a fitness company that does everything from operating CrossFit gyms to running an apparel brand, to remote coaching for high-level Crossfit Games athletes and everything in between.  Since starting their business from a garage gym almost 10 years ago, MisFit Athletics has grown to a tribe (their term) of 40,000 “MisFits” who look to Seth and his team to help them get healthy, fit, and engage with a community of like-minded people.  For those that follow the sport of CrossFit, you can see their athletes all over the competition floor with multiples more in the stands (just look for the purple).

We talk with Seth about what has made MisFit Athletics so sought after by competitive athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, how growth forced Seth to change how work gets done and decisions get made, and the similarities (and differences) between being a coach and being a boss.   

You can listen to the full episode by clicking the audio image below, on our website, or on iTunes (more podcast players coming soon!).  Know someone who would be great on the Big Time Small Business podcast?  E-mail in at podcast@chenmarkcapital.com.

The MisFit motivation

I’ve thought about this a lot and I keep coming back to the same answer.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually appreciate other people’s success more than my own.  I get so much enjoyment out of an athlete I work with crushing a competition and watching them celebrate and them getting the glory.  I don’t think I’ve ever once wished that it was me that won the competition.  I just don’t have that desire even though I’m competitive.

I’m satisfied, and there’s a selfish satisfaction I get, by somebody else that I work with beating someone or just having their own success.  That actually drives me.  I genuinely want the people I work with, the hungriest athletes that I meet and see, to win.  I enjoy being a part of their victory.  I don’t want credit for it, I don’t want them to even make a post on Instagram thanking me.  I just want them to win.

I think that makes me authentically who I am and actually should lend credibility to the work I do because if I just did real lazy, sh*t work, but we pushed a ton of t-shirts and promoted a brand, no one would be winning anything, right?  We would lose constantly, and it wouldn’t work.

Point being, I work super close with any athlete who states that they have followed our program into the first level of competition [and] then makes it to the second level, where we travel and meet them.  I’ll help them out any way I can.  I’m back behind the scenes with them, doing whatever they ask for, giving them advice, just motivating them.  Whatever it is that they want or need, I’m there.  Other athletes are looking around like, “I don’t have a coach. No one’s helping me.  Why do you care so much?”  It’s like, “Because I want my guys to win.”  They’re like, “Well, I want to be one of your guys.”

The next year, we have guys, girls lining up to say, “I want the same treatment that you gave them.”  Just because you showed that you’re dedicating yourself back.  People see that, and when enough athletes start seeing that, they want to wear your shirt, they want to be a part of what you do, they want to represent, and that just is exponential growth.  When you start seeing purple on the competition floor, which is our signature color, you look in the stands, 10 times more purple in the stands.  It’s just the way it works.

Product quality demands sacrifice

We’re so serious about delivering a consistent product, it’s not something I’m willing to teach someone over a couple of Skype phone calls.  Even if they’ve been following our blog for years and years, we have a certain way that we work with athletes, a certain way we deliver our message, there’s a certain way that we teach movement.  And for somebody to just be able to go rogue on us and call themselves a MisFit coach because we allowed it, you can undo good work that way.  I’d almost rather not grow to a point where we take those risks quite yet.

Delegation is great to get stuff done

We used to have meetings all the time.  Five or six people in a room, and we would just vote on things constantly and just talk about things over and over again.  We’d go, “Okay, we’ll pick this topic up next week.  We’ll do it again next week,” and nothing was getting done.  Nothing.  We would just keep having the same conversation and meeting over and over again.

Eventually, we said, we’re just going to start having teams.  You two are in charge of apparel, and you’re going to contact whoever the manufacturers are, and you’re going to help with the design.  You’re in charge. It’s on you guys.

You and you, you have to write the program.  The program has to be done ahead of time.  You need all scaling parts of it done.  If you need to test something, you need to reach out to athletes to get it tested.

We just started splitting things up, and then it wasn’t a vote anymore.  It was whoever was in charge of the project was getting stuff done.  They’re just these little micro-teams that just move, move, move.  If something big comes up, we’ll talk about it, but typically, the BS decisions, pick one and go.

… but it is hard to let go

One of the biggest things I had an issue with was when we were trying to get a new logo.  It took us six weeks, and I still hate our logo. It’s fine, it works, people recognize it.  I personally begged to try something else.  I didn’t care if it extended the project another two or three weeks.  I don’t like it, and I got outvoted, and I live with it.

When something doesn’t go my way, I have other things I can work on that I know are helping the company, and I can just take my focus off the thing that’s bothering me.  It might take a minute.  When something really bothers you within your company, you’re going to say your piece and you’re going to make it perfectly clear that everyone understands your opinion on it, and if they go the other direction anyway, I just consider it out of my control at that point.  I need to just shut up and get back to the things that matter, so that’s what I do.  It used to be really hard.  It took time and it took understanding and realization.  It’s not hard anymore.

Are you a coach or a boss?

The biggest thing I’ve learned as a coach is reading emotion, whether they are happy, sad, mad, or glad.  When they give me scores, just their tone of voice, their body language, things like that.  I pick up on what they’re really feeling, even if they don’t tell me.

I’m good at figuring out what kind of feedback I need to give them in order to keep their eyes on the prize.  Sometimes athletes really want a pat on the back and a good job, and sometimes when they want that most, I won’t give it to them, because you only reward certain things.  The whole psychology of coaching and learning each athlete as an individual, understanding when you have to give them a big hug and be like, “You crushed it” or when you have to let them sit in the corner by themselves and think about what they’ve done.

All those things are really valuable just in life, so I could take those things and use them as an effective boss, better.  I try to in some situations.  As a coach, I can turn my own emotions off and deliver this stuff.  That’s what I got good at, but [as a boss] when I become emotional about things, I’m not great at reading people as well, because I am too worked up myself, and then I don’t give the feedback I need to give.

As a business owner, [it’s] really hard to take a step back all the time.  When something’s in motion, something needs a decision, something’s happening, to take that step back, always remove emotion, make logical decisions, and be confident about it and then execute it.  I know that’s what I need to do, but I’m not sure that’s always what I do.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Capital Team

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