You know, sometimes you’ve got to toot your own horn. I do a lot of that on this blog as you may have noticed.
But that’s NOTHING – my guest today is a guy who in a few short years has gone from a new-b in the fitness industry to a major book deal, a tremendous fitness career, and friends with some of the top people in the business. All that at only 23 years old …
I’m talking about Nate Green. If your familiar with his career you know he’s never been afraid to think out of the box, go the extra mile for a new opportunity, and just be himself without worrying about who cares.
I wanted to get him on here to talk about his whirlwind career course and what he’s got cooking next. Watching him in action is an exercise in self-promotion, networking, marketing, and upward mobility. He’s someone we all need to pay attention to as an example of what’s possible.
Here’s the transcript of my convo with Nate, and you can find some more commentary on the subject afterwards.
Whatsup Nate – From looking at everything you’ve accomplished in the industry at such a young age and short time, marketing and self-promotion seem to have been a driving force in your career. This is really interesting because way too many fitness professionals put this on the back burner and expect their marketing to just happen on it’s own – can you talk about that?
I agree with you; most don’t understand how important “marketing and self promotion” are to overall success in their fitness businesses. However, I think there are two distinct points often overlooked from non-marketers and ambitious people, alike:
1. You absolutely must be credible and good at what you do before you unveil your “brand” to your customers and fans. No wannabes allowed.
2. You have to understand that marketing is merely drawing people’s attention to your core values, your habits, your work ethic – everything that encompasses you – projected by what you do, what you say, who you meet, what you stand for, and if you continue to act congruently with that message.
“What I mean by that last point is simple: while you can dupe yourself, you can’t pull a fast one on others. They’ll notice if your message doesn’t “fit” with you.”
Don’t write an e-book about fat loss if you’ve never really produced results with actual people. Don’t try to write about physical therapy issues if you’ve only read an entry-level text about rehabilitation. And make sure to keep your charisma, your innocence, your wit, your sense of humor (whatever it may be), your arrogance, your whatever. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and what you stand for. And if you’re in a position where you can’t express yourself the way you like, I’d suggest figuring out a new career path.
I write about looking good naked, weight-training, girls, bourbon, travel, cigars, sex, steak dinners, Testosterone, and close friends and family. I’m not trying to re-write the basics of exercise physiology. And I never have to use the word “tummy.”
Yes, very true – that marketing must be grounded in reality. I don’t know why, but a lot of trainers are looking to make the jump before they’ve even developed a specialty, learned to deliver value to clients, or earned a stable income from fitness. Speaking of Personal Training, you’ve stepped away from the career for a little while – do you plan on going back?
Currently, no. While I loved training, I owned my own private studio and was actively training clients for the past four years, I realized how exhausting it was for me and how unmotivated I felt.
Now, that certainly wasn’t always the case. I had an amazing “job” and a great group of clients, but I started to lose my passion for my own fitness and health.
I was sulking through workouts, getting less than six hours of sleep, eating at random times, and succumbing to time-famine, causing my social life to sputter.
Does everyone in the fitness industry feel that way? Of course not. There are some who love to train one on one or in small groups; I prefer to speak to a different audience and help them through media, whether my blog, my articles, or my book.
Haha – you don’t have to sell me on that one- me and a lot of trainers are in or have gone through the same situation. Burn-out‘s the mortal enemy for any ambitious Personal Trainer. Yeah, you mentioned the media – you’ve moved on to the role as a Journalist now with your job at Testosterone magazine – how did that happen and how’s it coming along?
Honestly, I was a journalist before I ever was a fitness professional; I’ve just combined the two.
A lot of people thought I just fell into my writing career: “It must just be who he knows!” some say. But I’ve always wanted to write. Personal training was a means to an end – a way for me to find out what inspired me and how I could share my idea of the ideal fitness and lifestyle with others.
When I was a junior in high school, I covered sports for my hometown weekly newspaper. I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I wrote for a handful of local publications before I ever had the opportunity to submit to a big magazine. And when I contributed to those magazines – namely, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, STACK and T-Nation.com – I was still training clients.
Fast-forward to last winter and I got my first book deal. Skip ahead to this summer, and I accepted a full time position as a contributing editor to Testosterone (T-Nation.com), leaving my training studio in the hands of my business partner. It definitely wasn’t planned out, but it wasn’t out of left field, either. They say “luck” is when opportunity meets preparation. I believe that.
You mentioned the people you know in this industry, and it’s a pretty impressive list. You maintain a social and professional circle of some of the top dogs. What’s the importance of networking in fitness?
It’s as important as networking in any situation. It’s how you get your foot in the door. It’s how you start word-of-mouth chatter, rumors (both good and bad), and cement yourself in the minds of others.
But remember, you must be good at what you do before you try to get “fast-tracked.” You don’t want to arrive at the top of the world to be reminded your skills are lagging way f*cking behind.
“Be honest, interesting, and humble. Be intriguing. Listen. Surprise them.”
Lou Schuler, my editor and good friend, once wrote me that at a certain point in your career, your experience and contacts will speak for themselves. Nobody will be talking if you haven’t introduced yourself, though.
Yeah that’s a good point – speaking of contacts, I checked your Flickr and noticed you recently met someone you’ve admired for some time, Tim Ferris, author of the best seller The Four Hour Workweek which is a really good book I’ve mentioned a bunch of times on the blog – what was that like?
Yeah Tim’s a friend. His book helped me straighten some things out and for that I am incredibly grateful.
He actually contacted me earlier this year and asked to see more of my writing after reading a post I left on his blog. We’ve been in touch ever since. That picture was just our first face-to-face meeting.
And speaking of blogs, you’ve got a great one – everyone can find it here: thenategreenexperience.com. We’ve never met, but from reading your blog I get the feeling you’re a real high energy guy, but you also value peace and serenity – what’s your view on life?
High energy? Really? I should print that out and show it to my mom who calls me a “grandpa.”
I work effectively. I keep myself entertained. I have an amazing circle of friends and a very inspiring family. I love the company I work for – their mission and values are very aligned with my own. I value my health. I like to lift heavy shit. I enjoy looking good. I like bourbon, green tea, cigars, glazed doughnuts, Coke Zero, and helping people.
I have diversity and routine at the same time. That’s the “secret”, I think. It keeps me sane, at least.
It’s obvious you place a high priority on your lifestyle – I think people don’t put enough importance on this, and then end-up very disappointed even if they do achieve their goals. Is your lifestyle your first priority?
Absolutely. You and I only have a small, precious amount of time. We need to have the ability—the courage—to do what we want, when we want. We need to outline our “perfect life” and work like hell to reach it.
So that’s it – you heard it from the man himself. Looks like Nate’s message is clear – that all of the networking, self-promotion, or marketing in the world won’t help unless it’s based on a strong foundation. Good thing we’re all Personal Trainers, which allows us to set up this proper career ground work in probably the most natural way known to man.
And back to the subject of self-promotion, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been talking a lot about it lately – it’s been a subject on a lot of newsletters, recent blog posts, and is really what we deal with in the services you get here.
That’s because looking at yourself as an “individual” is such a vital part to proceeding in the industry. Not as a worker, not as faceless commodity, not as a business in an ivory tower. As an individual – a three dimensional person with interests, a personality, and a life. Your fitness career is an extension of your individuality.
If you’re just starting out that might not make sense because you haven’t explored it yet – and if you’re a vet in this biz, you may be so caught up in your grind that you’ve lost touch with it. I felt both those ranges of emotions at times, as you well know. We all toe this line in some way. It’s actually a small percentage of trainer’s that get it, and we see them skyrocket to big things in the industry – Nate’s in that minority.
In getting published in big-name national magazines and getting his own major book deal, Nate’s an example of how to get your name out there. This personal marketing has a snowballing effect – it leads to more opportunities, which then lead to more success.
Whether it comes to succeeding right now, expanding your current training practice, mixing up your services, or even going into a totally different area of the profession like Nate’s done, it’s going be based on the identity you’ve created .
I’m a big believer in this because it was this idea that flipped the switch in my short training career. When I stopped being a moocher off of my clients, and instead became a value giver things totally changed. It was when I realized I was entitled to live the life I wanted and earn the money, own the things, and do the things that everyone else had. That distinction made me a much better trainer as well. That’s the “secret” like we’ve talked about before. That’s something that goes beyond Personal Training.
Nate’s new book is called BUILT FOR SHOW: Four Body-Changing Workouts for Building Muscle, Losing Fat, and Looking Good Enough to Hook Up – great title huh? I love the idea and I’m sure it’s going to do really well.
It comes out November 20, but you can pre-order the book now on Amazon. It’s available for $13.57, and just email Nate your confirmation receipt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and as a gift he’ll email you a 14-page report on networking, marketing, and “being discovered”, along with giving you the opportunity to directly email him with any two questions you may have about fitness, marketing, writing, or training.
It should be a really cool book, and a chance to get some more info from a guy on the inside of the industry – spread the word and help push his book to the bestseller list!
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Great interview – I gotta meet this guy. Sometimes when I’m ONLY doing personal training it gets old – I know I have other interests (like writing) that I want to continue to explore.
What struck a chord with me is you all talking about being yourself.
Nate mentioned he liked bourbon and glazed donuts, which isn’t exactly typical for a trainer – but he’s congruent with this and doesn’t have to hide it – people probably respect him for being himself and being proud of it.
I often feel I have to hide the fact that I like being single, socializing, and staying out late an having a good time on occasion.. Of course I eat healthy and keep myself in shape, but sometimes it seems like I have to be Mr. 24 hour a day fitness role model to preserve that imagine in my community. But this isn’t quite me..
You guys hit some great topics and had some great perspectives here – thanks for that.
What a releif!! I thought I ws the only trainer that had a sweet tooth! I definitely share Dougs’ sentiment as I have to hide my twice a week trip to dunkin donuts for my post workout donut. I definitely agree that you can balance both and be an amazing trainer and mentor.
Great piece here. I’ve vaguely followed Nate’s movements over the past year and his attitude to training, blogging, hey let’s just say it, living the life, was a definite factor in my getting off my butt and writing regularly. This article was a handy reminder that pursuing your own dreams is not selfish, but just plain old good business sense!
Thanks again for the interview, Kaiser.
And thanks to everyone who read it!
Hey Kaiser! Does Nate read your blog? Because it looks like he’s living everything you always talk about!
I am loving your blog. It is really making me think about my plans to become a trainer in a completely different light! Thank you for writing your blog and your books. They are inspirational!
Yeah Doug – I really feel what you’re saying – I was in exactly the same place not too long ago – I felt a discord between my personal and work identity – this must be the essence of zen, where you can be the same person to everyone – I’m happy to say I’ve come pretty close to it –
The key is not having anything to hide – if you’re comfortable with who you are and what you do, why not let others know? Wear your fitness clothes in public and be known as a trainer, and bring the passion and fun attitude you have in your private life to your sessions – when it’s appropriate, even bring up what’s going on with you – they’ll like that –
I know you’re working for a gym now so that might be putting a hamper on your self expression – but in general you shouldn’t have anything to hide from anyone at any time – and if you do, you need to ask yourself why –
Yeah Gaby, you’re definitely not the only one! We’re human – I heard Michael Jordan used to down an entire six pack on the bus after games – at the end of the day, it’s the results that speak for themselves –
And thanks for the positive feedback on the blog – I’ll keep the solid info coming –
Yeah Kaiser – Definitely working for a gym affects things, and not owning my own yet may play w/ self-confidence a little bit.
Ha ha I’d like to get to that Zen stage too – I’ll take that advice and try experimenting over this next week as far as talking about what I do for a living when I’m away from the gym, and talk to my clients a little bit about what’s going on with me outside the gym – I’ll let ya know how it goes.
That’s a great blog, Nates a guy with goals. The key was he had a plan and he followed it. I have been training off and on for a few years but really never on the serious tip. I just decided to go full time trianing and make it my carrer. But just as my previous experinces I understand now more than ever there is a fitness syllabus that I must follow to be sucessfull. The syllabus is called “Lifestyle”, fitness has to be a lifestyle. When you live breath, walk and talk fitness it shows! That’s what Nate is doing and it shows from his success a trainer, and now as a writer. “Lifestyle” make it happen!