Take a listen here or read more below.
Adam’s story is a great example of how having an online presence has opened opportunities up to him, including growing his offline bricks and mortar Martial Arts school.
In this interview he talks about how he took his martial arts school and turned it into an online business. And then how he took the same principles, the same method, invested into another business and made a huge success out of that as well.
Adam: My name’s Adam and I’m from New York. I’m a professional martial artist and I opened my own school in New York. The type of martial arts that I teach, it's a traditional Old Samurai style, and globally, there's probably only about 25 instructors. It's not a big, but there is an audience for it. Late 2005 my teacher (who‘s in Japan) contacted me because there was someone in Jacksonville, Florida, who wanted to learn this martial arts, but couldn’t travel. How could we teach him?
So to fast track the story a little bit, I created an online martial arts school.
I really want it to have a live experience. Streaming back then was difficult. I found a company in Newport beach on the other side of the country that was offering live streaming and it was incredibly expensive.
My martial arts school had around 200 members, so I was making really good money and I said, I'm gonna invest in this.
March 6th 2007 is when we launched our first live stream.
I was in the middle of teaching class and a chime went off. And my program director, who was running the camera, said: ‘We just had someone join us’.
I had a pretty good email list. And I’d told them ‘I'd love it if, regardless of where you are in the world, you can tune into my classes’.
That first chime notification was a training group in Boston, Massachusetts. And then only a few minutes later, a training group in Mexicali, then Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then Milwaukee.
When I was driving home that night, I realized that my small conventional bricks and mortar local business had just gone global.
It wasn't like a global enterprise or global business, but it was a global small business.
People wanted to hear my voice and my message from all different parts of the world.
I could tell my clients, my customers, my students who came to my New York school, that I had students all over the world. So my New York school grew too.
If you come to my martial arts school, pretty much any day of the week now, there's going to be someone from Australia or Israel or some part of the States who will be coming and sleeping at the Dojo just to train here for a week.
That's a pretty powerful statement.
These early students, they created their own training groups as a result of my teaching because they want to train together.
So now I start to build these communities, these little pockets, satellite communities of my brick and mortar business in different parts of the world.
And now I'm traveling and I'm teaching these seminars, which of course resonates back to my local market because I'm the teacher who's wandered all over the world to teach.
I know that sounds a little bit inflated, but it's actually kind of what happened.
So the economy has a downturn, in 2008. Some friends of mine were suffering because of the economy.
And they said: ‘I see what you're doing and it's great. And is there any way you can help me do that?’
So I did.
I helped one friend of mine who was a carpenter. He was laid off and I helped him create a course for fixing things around the house, fixing cabinets and stuff like that. And he wanted to market to single moms.
And then I helped some other people.
I replicated exactly what I'd done and we did some videos, and I showed them how to run it.
I didn't really think much of it, but that started to snowball a little bit and I thought, hey, maybe I'm onto something here.
I wanted to go look for people who had a very, very unique proposition that they could offer an audience that didn't know that they were looking for that proposition.
The first one was Gino, he owned the pizza place right next to my martial arts school. Gino had an incredibly successful pizza place, he also homeschooled his six kids and had a very happy marriage and a real-estate investment business with this partner Jake, who at the time was a drug rep who sold pharmaceuticals.
So you've got this drug rep and you've got a pizza guy that had figured out a cool strategy for multi-family real estate investing, and they wanted to write a book.
But real estate's kind of a big saturated market.
We talked about what he was most passionate about, what were his models and how did he communicate with his children and live such a happy and fulfilled life?
Could we take Gino’s model for multi-family real estate investing and put that into something for investors or for people who maybe wanted financial freedom, or create a legacy wealth. Instead of writing this book, let's create a course and let's do what I did with my martial arts school.
Jake and Gino launched Wheelbarrow Profits podcast, and they had a book which became an Amazon number one bestseller. And the three of us built a team, built everything on Kajabi, and created Jake and Gino’s Community of Investors.
The podcast was really a memoir or a story of their investments, of their successes and their failures and they documented everything step-by-step.
Fast forward a couple of years, the business was successful, and we had our first live event - we didn't know who's going to show up - but we had 200 people. And then last year we had our second annual event and we had 450 people show up in Nashville. And this year we're going to the Gaylord Palms in Florida and we're hoping for 900 people.
I think staying true to the core values of my initial discussion with Gino and Jake, which was serving people and helping people, that's ultimately what we need to do.
It becomes almost like an obsession and an addiction to helping others because there's no limit on there. It doesn't matter where they are in the world because you can actually serve them as long as you've got the right solution for them.
You can achieve anything online as long as you have the ability to serve an audience.
I have a sequence that I found works for me, which is to Give, Build, Fire, Listen, Give again.
Unfortunately people get stuck in one of those.
They get stuck in giving to their audience.
Sometimes people will get stuck in that loop of building. You’ve got to actually fire, you’ve got to move, you've got to deploy.
And then, then after that, some people I found get stuck in launching (firing). Those are the ones that like: ‘I want to make money. I want to make money.’ They make another course, do another launch, do another webinar, and wonder how come I'm not making money on this webinar, but they're not listening.
You've got to build small and speak specifically to that audience. Build something the best possible, then listen to the feedback. Then take that feedback and optimize, and then do that cycle all over again.
That's what I've found works for us. I know that's not news.
Building your product, putting it out there, and making sure that you're putting it out to the person you want to reach and then listen to them. I love that. I love that secret. It's really true.
For me I’m always listening, tweaking and tweaking. And everything changes so quickly - what’s working now might not in six months’ time. So it is important to keep going over it.
#1 Do not start unless you are committed to not quit.
Knowing you're going to fall on your face. You're going to feel stupid and humiliated. You're going to be embarrassed. You’re going to have people say something about you that's going to hurt.
Don't trip over your ego. Pick yourself back up and keep going because this is not easy.
This is not: I'm going to get from my iPhone, make some videos, do some Facebook ads and then poof. It's not like that.
#2 If you already have a small business, you already have something.
If you have one customer, one client, one student that you've already been able to give a transformation to, some type of change, give value back to their life at some level, then you can multiply that exponentially. If you've done it for one person, it is possible. If you can commit to not quitting.
#3 Don’t do it if you're not passionate.
There are things you're going to come up against where you know, a lot of people would just quit and say it's just not worth that. And that's why you need to have a real passion for what you're trying to achieve. Because passion keeps you going. If you've got a real belief in something, then that keeps you getting up, dusting yourself off and trying a new way. Don't get into this work in teaching unless this is something that you are obsessively passionate about. It's something that just bleeds through your skin, you just want to talk about it constantly.
If you do not have that passion, then go somewhere else because you're going to get lost here and you're going to get beaten up.
My first online transaction was $67.
But it wasn't about the transaction. It was that I have someone listening that wants to listen to me. I didn't have to market. I didn't have to try to convince them to come in, do some sales script and try and manipulate them, sign, contracts. I just put my message out there. It resonated with them and they wanted to be part of that experience.
I think anybody who's ever sold anything online for the first time, it doesn't matter how much it is, it doesn't matter how much he brought in, it's the fact that it works.
I think three years is the timeline from that first transaction to the million dollar mark.
I was coding my own sites when Kajabi came out. I was on Andy Jenkins’ email list, he was a marketer at the time. I saw this launch for this new learning product and I checked it out and I think I was probably one of the very first people to click that buy button because I'm like, Oh man, here it is. I don't have to worry about any of the computer stuff anymore. I can just do what I do.
And I signed up day one and with Kajabi since day one.
I think if I had actually listened to them better rather than thinking I knew best, I think that that process would have been a lot faster. And if I had someone willing to mentor me.
I'm going to be working on a new product for dads this summer. It's called Close Quarter Dad.
Over 20 years, I noticed that a lot of dads sat out in the car while their kids were in the martial arts school working with me. After some research I found that there was a discomfort that fathers have with outsourcing their kid - teaching them the abilities, skills and confidence to stand up for themselves.
So I'm creating a program specifically for Dads about how take on that trainer/teacher role that the children look toward to their dads for.
I'm starting without anything. I don't even have the lessons done yet. I just started mapping the whole thing out. All the courses and everything will be completely new and I'm gonna stay a hundred percent Kajabi pure on this. I'm not going to be using Active Campaign or any of the other third party solution providers. So I'm pretty excited about that. That's what I got going on.
It was maybe the first time I was asked to teach a seminar in Europe as a result. That was pretty awesome. I went to Holland to teach and I had a community of people that I’d never seen before show up for me.
Adam’s been true to his word, and he’s been in touch to see how I was going on.
In the next episode I’ll give an update on how I'm actually starting, where I'm starting from. How do you start from scratch with building an online business? And then I have another interview for you in episode four. So I'll see you on the next episode.
Adam’s Martial Arts school - https://www.jissenkobudo.com/
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