Hey, have you heard the saying “books aren’t meant to be read, they’re meant to be re-read”?
Well anyway, I dusted off my old copy of Rich Dad Poor Dad’s CASH FLOW QUADRANT by Robert Kiyosaki …
It’s a monumentally valuable book by the way – ignore the fact that it’s more commercial than Britney Spears.
Whoa – this time around the book hit me upside the head – it really gave me a lot of insight into how I do business and it’ll probably do the same for you: how your work life is organized, your views on, and passion for, Personal Training, and the debate on the different roles of a trainer.
In the book, they talk about the 4 different Quadrants through which people earn money- lets get into them and see how they relate to Personal Training, with some specific examples:
E (EMPLOYEE) QUADRANT – Just like it says, you’re in this quadrant when you’re an employee, for example if you work for a gym or a training studio. The view Robert takes, that I agree with 100% is that you should only stay in this Quadrant to pick up skills. Once you’ve learned what you need to know, get out.
I feel the only exception is when your job allows you to learn at a rate that is significantly faster than you could on your own. This is the role I look to take as a leader for anyone that works for me. Another way to get the same benefits without being an employee is through masterminding.
S (SELF-EMPLOYED) QUADRANT – this is where most trainers that have dumped the gym find themselves. This is the INDEPENDENT TRAINER for the most part, at least in the beginning. Being here is much better than being in the E Quadrant. Robert actually speaks highly of it in some ways.
People that are self-employed and good at it are perfectionists – they’re highly motivated and fiercely independent. These are the characteristics of most Personal Trainers.
Here’s the insight I had:
This is also the reason many excellent Personal Trainers refuse to give up the reigns to their Personal Training businesses. They continue to put in tremendous hours. My buddies Rivak Hoffman and Jim Hart come to mind, both exceptional trainers who work themselves into the ground. It’s because of the personality of the person in this Quadrant. Although I’ve learned to cut back and leverage, this describes me too. It’s the passion and personal investment in their work that sets them apart, but also keeps them trapped.
Here’s the very, very, funny irony. When someone is doing really good in this quadrant, and are among the best at what they do, is when it can actually become their prison! They’ll get great results for the work they do, and then just add on more work, and become very attached to it. If they weren’t as strict about quality as they are, they’d let someone else do the work for them, or set up a business system – but that’s not good enough!
Want to know another irony? Consumers demand services from these types of people. The example Kioysaki makes is, if you’re going to a brain surgeon, you want this person to be a perfectionist. The same example holds true for trainers.
People in this Quadrant can often earn very high incomes. But you have to be careful because like I said, this can become a trap. As Personal Trainers, another reason many of us stay in this Quadrant for so long is because most of the people we know, including our clients, are high paid people in the EMPLOYEE QUADRANT. Since we’re better off than most of these folks, are earning good livings, and have the stubborn personality traits I described, we find it hard to make the jump into a higher Quadrant.
Regardless of the downsides, this is a Quadrant that any new Personal Trainers needs to spend at least some time and master. Every trainer that’s made the jump to bigger things mastered this part first.
B (BUSINESS OWNER) QUADRANT: Ok, here’s when you start to get into some more interesting territory. This is a person who’s created systems and standards so that other people can do the work. With these systems in place, the business can essentially run on its own with minor supervision. This is the whole “make money while you sleep” phenomena. Even if you’re an Independent Trainer and you’re business is incorporated, if you’re still doing the training, you are not in this Quadrant.
The ultimate poster boy for the B QUADRANT is another one of my buddies, Chris McCombs (who Michael Duivis just did a killer interview with for the blog – post coming soon). Chris is fiercely devoted to spending his time only in the B Quadrant, and revels in the fact that he has a gut and bad habits that now prevent him from being in either of the previous two Quadrants. If you have an online PRODUCT like me, or have a training studio where you have other employees in addition to yourself, you are only dabbling in this Quadrant, not all the way there.
I (INVESTOR) QUADRANT: This is the highest leverage of all Quadrants. This is the Quadrant where you put in the money and let other people do all the work – even creating the systems and thinking of the ideas. If you own any stock, it’s pretty self explanatory.
This isn’t devoid of work however – there’s some analyzing of risk and other factors involved (actually, you can pay people to do that part for you too!) Seems you can never really avoid work, but this is a different kind of work. It’s on your terms, doing what impacts you directly, and is very high leverage. A few smart decisions can have a very high return.
Being at this level gives you true perspective on what’s going on around you. The only person I know in the fitness business who really explains how trainers can get up here is Bedros Keuilian. Bedros talks about strategically deploying your time among the different Quadrants as part of his seven-figure formula. That is what you’ll find most savvy people doing – learning how to deploy their time in the Quadrants for maximum effectiveness.
A very interesting example of this is a member of my Advisory Board, Gunnar Peterson. He is a very devoted trainer that puts in a ton of hours, but for him it’s almost a loss leader because of his other business ventures and endorsements. You could say this for entertainers as well. They might be employees due to the nature of their contracts with their recording labels or movie studios, or self-employed when performing, but it’s all for the bigger goal of growing their BUSINESS side, which is where the real money comes from (and then putting this money into investments, as well as toys and botox). We can learn a lot from entertainers in this way, because they have professional managers whose job it is to take the talented individual (a trainer qualifies as one of these) and then deploy them for maximum returns.
Understanding these different personality traits also explains some of the different views on work in this business. The hard-nosed, in the trenches trainers can’t stand the business and marketing guys because they look at them as sell-outs. And the business and marketing guys can’t understand why the trainers are continuing to stay in the trenches. But Kiyosaki’s explanation says a lot: when you love something and are good at it, it’s hard to let it go.
But I’d have to say that most trainers are seeing the light and trying to maximize their effectiveness by dabbling in the B Quadrant these days. John Izzo, one of the most passionate and perfection oriented trainers I know, is very active in business in his limited free time. I know in my case I had a very hard time allowing my training practice to grow into the B Quadrant, but I am finding other ways to do it, and I dablle to a small degree in the I Quadrant as well.
My main advice for trainers like me still in the trenches? You have to eventually make the transition to giving more time and energy to the B and I Quadrants, no matter how hard you might find that to be. I know from personal experience that giving responsibility to employees is like giving away your baby. But just like every parent has to let their kid leave the nest one day, every trainer at some point will have to let earning money through the S Quadrant go as well.
The blog is just the beginning!
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