On today’s show, I have my friend and amazing business owner, Tyler Sullivan. We talk about how we met – which is actually a funny story – and we go deeper into his journey in owning his gym. We also talk about his family and how he’s decided to home-school his kids which I think is a very interesting topic.
Enjoy the show and as always, thank you for listening.
Tyler Sullivan has been CrossFitting since 2008, and he’s passionate about helping people believe that they can do anything they put their minds, actions, and efforts behind.
“After seeing what was possible for people through good health and real fitness, and experiencing this transformation myself, I wanted everyone to experience it,” Tyler says. “I knew what I could offer was a truly caring environment, and I wanted everyone to see that it is possible to be better with the right person behind them. Six years later, I opened up BCF and have changed thousands of lives. I am beyond grateful to have this opportunity to help.”
Tyler was the trainer for the ABC’s Hit TV show Extreme Weight Loss and competed in the CrossFit Games Regionals four times. Him, his wife Amy and two children reside in Pewaukee, right outside of Milwaukee.
Angelo: Tyler Sullivan is in the house today, took the trip from Milwaukee. Thank you for being here Tyler.
Tyler: Thanks man, I appreciate it.
Angelo: I wanted to start this conversation talking about how I met you. Because I think it’s really interesting when two people connect and talk about what their first meeting was like. Me and you, I think from a distance saw each other at a few different CrossFit events over the years. Tyler owns a gym in Milwaukee. Throughout the years we never really spoke, I don’t think, but we kind of knew the faces. Then I was getting the opportunity to create the team for Barbell Business and I heard that you were working with Adam from Rasko, or you talked to him before.
Tyler: And Elaine.
Angelo: Yes, and Elaine. He mentioned you and I said, “oh, okay, that guy must be really smart”. I think I Facebook messaged you, did i?
Tyler: Yeah, yeah.
Angelo: I just Facebook messaged you and I was like, “Ro, I’m going to Milwaukee”. She’s like, “what?” I’m like, “Yeah, I got this guy, he doesn’t even know what’s going on yet though, but he’s going to be the coaches’ fucking thing. I have an idea”. Then I drove up to you, and we went to a really good place for breakfast. What was the name of the place?
Tyler: It was [inaudible 00:02:30] salad place.
Angelo: Yeah, it was very good. What’s that one thing that you made me try that was really good, that they are known for?
Tyler: It was the Milwaukee bread.
Tyler: Something like whiskey sauce, or something.
Angelo: So good.
Tyler: Oh my god, it was so good.
Angelo: Then me and you had a conversation and I just told you about what I was doing with the Barbell Business team. Then I think it was a week or two later when I asked you. I just went up there to plant the seed.
Tyler: Year, totally, you planted it.
Angelo: I think out of everyone on that team, me and you have always just been able to get along really well, especially with somebody as volatile as me, not Tyler.
Tyler: That’s true.
Angelo: It’s been an amazing journey since then, since about 2016. What did you think the first time I came up to you?
Tyler: Or even before that though, it was 2012 I saw and met you—not really meet you, but I got to know about you at the CrossFit Endurance [inaudible 00:03:33] downtown Chicago.
Angelo: Got it.
Tyler: I just remember you being very boisterous at that seminar, making some weird remarks. It was hilarious.
Angelo: I don’t remember that, but I probably was.
Tyler: I don’t recall the conversations deep or anything, but I knew you had the O’Hare showdown above that. That was the very first time. I was watching you from a far, because I kept an eye on gym owners in the area to get an idea where, what is that, what you are doing, I’d just like to know and learn about what people do in the immediate area, and Chicago was obviously the place. I would follow you and everything that you were saying, you resonated with me, from ideas to business thoughts, to just the way you think about life and how you approached it. When you Facebook messaged me I was excited, I was like, “awesome”. I felt important.
Angelo: Oh, wow.
Tyler: I felt really important because Angelo Sisco is messaging me. I just remember it being an exciting time and I was like, awesome, why he is coming up here, for whatever reasons, it sounds exciting. After our discussion it was just like, boom! For me, it was like that little side tangent kind of thing I’ve always wanted to do. You gave me a sense of, obviously pride to have you ask me and I felt very honored, but it was also the way in which I knew that I can help other people, and that was also a big thing, because I felt that what we were doing at Badger was a huge, huge thing for many people to learn from perhaps and take ideas from so we can further help other people.
By having that opportunity that you presented me with was just another avenue to make that happen.
Angelo: How old is Badger at this point?
Tyler: We are going to be 8 years old in August.
Angelo: Okay, so 7½ years. How old are you?
Angelo: Okay. What do you think you would be doing if there wasn’t CrossFit?
Tyler: I’d still be in IT. Probably still in IT, or by now probably opened some small coffee shop because I’m addicted to coffee.
Angelo: I think about that sometimes.
Tyler: Year, I do too. I remember starting the gym in 2011, and it was a good 6 months leading up to that true moment, but I remember telling myself if this fails I’ll probably just stay in IT again this coast. I didn’t really have any huge plans for myself or my family at that time. But I said to myself I can always go back to what I was doing. For me it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss just because I was afraid to say or regret, you know what I mean?
Angelo: Yeah. How did you get involved with IT?
Tyler: That’s a funny story. You are about my age, right?
Angelo: Yeah, I’m 35.
Tyler: 35. We grew up with computers, like just becoming awesome. I had Compact, or Gateway 2000, that was my first computer that my dad bought. The moment my dad bought that when I was like 10 I became obsessed with computers and I just wanted to learn about them and try to understand them. What’s crazy is that from that moment the AOL—you probably remember AOL.
Angelo: Yeah, I had it, it’s the only way you could get it with the free CDs.
Tyler: Dude, all the time, free CDs.
Angelo: 27 hours.
Tyler: 3½ inch floppies. It’s crazy, I got into the underground scene of AOL where I would send these instant messengers and I tried to kick them off AOL, the old school programs, whatever they are called. That was what got me tied into that stuff.
Angelo: What was your screen name on AOL?
Tyler: I think it was Enigma, the old 80s, 90s atmosphere group, whatever they were called- Enigma, it was something Enigma.
Angelo: I love it.
Tyler: It was so dumb.
Angelo: No it’s not, it’s so perfect.
Tyler: Yeah it is.
Angelo: So perfect, I love it. You were really interested in computers, how did you stay interested enough to go into IT? What was your journey like for that?
Tyler: I’d always be doubling at computers, I always wanted to play games, I was just fascinated with the internet, because the cost was just dial-up, it was amazing, right?
Tyler: That’s what changed it. I was able to read about many different topics. It was exciting, you could download videos and music at that time, NEXTAR was a big thing obviously a little bit later, and I just kept going and I’m like, you know what, I love this stuff, I love playing on these things I may as well just go to school for it. So I did, I went to school. I went to tech school first which was great. I think that was a great decision. I got recruited to play basketball and I turned a lot of those places down because I didn’t want to lose the love for basketball. I saw my friends who ended up going, even my brother; they just didn’t have that passion as much anymore after the fact. So I skipped that, I went to tech school, saved my money with my parents, left school with a job and no debt. Did school, finished it up, and got my first job doing consulting and support on the coast of Florida.
Angelo: Very cool.
Tyler: Yeah man.
Angelo: How do you think being in IT helped you become a gym owner? Because there has to be something that carries over.
Tyler: Totally. I worked in a small business my first job. Coming out of college I was feeling like, I’ll get paid this amount, I’m in demand, I’m going to work for this huge company or this business that has their crap together. I moved down to Florida to chase Amy pretty much, and the interview that I went to have with this guy was—it was a small business, and I didn’t have a job going down there, I’m like, I’m just going to get all dressed up, I have a full suit—my dad bought me a full suit and shoes and everything for this small business. I walk in and it’s just a mess, just a crazy mess, and it totally blew my expectations out the water in just having a proper small business. So I got to see that side of the small business. It was just a business owner trying to make it.
He probably even didn’t have a job and he saw that and I just moved down there; no job, and this was my last chance, and he just probably felt bad for me at that moment, and he hired me anyway for 10 bucks an hour, or 12 bucks an hour, or something like that. I saw this small business dive, I moved up to Ohio, worked for a large power company, saw a large business, Fortune 500 tech business, and I got to see both ends of the spectrum of teeny small time you can dip in pretty quickly, to you have tons of red tape, and tons of people and structure. I got to see both sides of the coin.
I guess the main thing is where I saw in both those pictures is what I didn’t want. What I didn’t want is to live and work with red tape, and I didn’t want to have my success at the mercy of someone’s decision. Because the big corporate side of things I thought was going to be the path that I should take, since that’s what you do, and I realized very quickly I don’t want to do that. Opening the gym was that in my mind; I don’t want to have someone’s decision, or someone telling me that my productivity and my work is only worth that. That’s one reason why I started the gym. I think that’s a lesson too I still take to this day; it’s that, I’m working inside my gym, and I can determine my value and my worth, or other people can tell me that based on what they pay me, but no one that had that control over myself or someone else.
Angelo: That’s awesome.
Angelo: Isn’t that crazy to really think about your life is; everything that you’ve done in your past has been training for this moment now.
Tyler: Every experience you get use or learn from is up to the person to use it, don’t you think?
Angelo: Yeah. Were you always this open-minded, and growing, and working on Tyler? Were you always focused on that in your life, or did that come later with business and stuff?
Tyler: I think once I started seeing the real world for what it really is, it’s when I started to think that I can do it myself. I’ve always been that—I’m the male child, got the older brother, I got the other brother, and then you’ve got the middle child who doesn’t get all the attention. That’s not the case necessarily, but sometimes I hinge on that. I think when I make myself look at the world and how I view it today, it’s been a natural kind of evolution because I’ve always been interested in how I change my breaks in my car, to—I started a stock investment club when I was a junior in high school, I wanted to learn about these things, so anything that I saw people do I was like, I can do that.
As I started to learn about other people’s success and other people’s abilities I always told myself I can do that, and because of that attitude created this environment for wanting to learn, and grow and be open to ideas. A lot of it comes down to fear; as a kid I saw my mom work through jobs, and it’s always been in my mind that if I don’t learn or grow, and try and make myself better, that I’m not going to be able to put food on the table, I’ll be living on the street. It was a deep-sited fear for a long time. There is no reason for it, it’s just that’s what I saw. I saw my mom just in severe stress and fatigue, and uncertainty, so I think that’s part of it too.
Angelo: Interesting. Very, very cool. How do you spend most of your days now with all that you do?
Tyler: At the gym?
Angelo: Yeah, at the gym, or just like in a day of life of you; because you have a family, you have a gym, you do coaching; you do a lot of stuff.
Tyler: I would say I’m very involved day-to-day inside my business because I like it. Again, I think sometimes part of it is me still wanting to see this thing through a little bit, and where does it go, and part of it is fear. But I think at the end of the day I stay in the business on a day-to-day basis pretty often, I’m still coaching, I do consulting. I break up my day as much as possible, and then try to manage and block my time as much as possible so I can be home with my family by 5 o’clock every night.
Being that my kids are homeschooled we are going to have a little more abilities to have some more flexibility there. It’s partly because when they were in school and then when they would come home, if I didn’t set those boundaries my fear was I wouldn’t be able to be a father then. Part of that has kind of shifted a little bit once we figured this whole homeschooling out.
Angelo: And the home school just started?
Tyler: Just started. We made that decision, we’ve been [inaudible 0:15:03] the last three of four months probably.
Angelo: So, how does it work?
Tyler: Like legally?
Angelo: For you guys as parents.
Tyler: We withdrew them last month and we told the school system that—and you don’t have to do anything super proper, you just let the school know, there is no legal requirement with the State of Wisconsin at least. Then my wife has been preparing this whole last three months to figure out the curriculum; how we are going to educate, what’s the time, how are they going to create a structure, what co-op groups it’s going to be a part of, how can they socialize? There’s so many things involved, so we are kind of still figuring that out. We are in a period of de-schooling at the moment with them.
Angelo: What does that look like?
Tyler: It’s where you create a place where you have fun, or curious, you are trying to prevent them from viewing school as must-do versus a want-to, if that makes sense.
Tyler: It’s just a time of trying to play unorganized the structure of learning, and as they start to get more de-schooled you start introducing the homeschooling aspect. It’s a little bit more structure with the parent.
Angelo: How did you guys come to this conclusion? Especially, you, you weren’t homeschooled, was Amy?
Tyler: No. For a longtime I was adamant against it, I still have my reservations. We are going to take it year to year for now at least. The main point was for us to do it. Again, having something that doesn’t put my kids in a position where they don’t love to learn.
Angelo: You saw that with them?
Tyler: Yeah. They would make excuses to go to school; ‘I’m sick’, when they weren’t, starting at kindergarten in 3rd grade, and I was like, something needs to change. As good as the school system is, and it’s phenomenal, we have the resources, and my wife stays at home, and we have the time to be able to homeschool. It just made sense for us to try it out. We want to travel; we want to go to Europe, let’s just say for a month and not have to worry about it. We want to be able to go on a trip, or do other opportunities other kids won’t be able to because they are tied down to school.
Angelo: Very interesting. Do you see one of your kids being able to adapt or thrive in this quicker than the other by their personality?
Tyler: Yes, my son probably. I would say between the two…
Angelo: How old is your son? So he is in 3rd grade.
Tyler: My son is 8, he is in 3rd grade. My daughter is 6 and she is in kindergarten. My daughter is very social, very social. My son is too, he just chooses to be on the other side a little bit more with exploring. He is more in his own mind, a little more introverted, but he is a very social kid. He is kind of an introverted extrovert, he’s an extrovert when he has to be, but he gets this fulfillment from being quiet and learning, and doing his own thing most of the time. It’s just awesome. I think it will be easy for my son a little bit from the social aspect because it’s not a huge requirement, but I think it’s just as important though to socialize him, even more so now. I would say between the two my son probably is going to have an easier time.
Angelo: That’s cool, interesting. I think this is just so cool.
Tyler: It’s weird to talk about. Even as a kid growing up you meet these homeschool kids, and there is always a little something different. That was the majority of my picture of what I saw homeschool, it was the weirdness, because I thought it was a socialization thing, and it still is for sure, that’s a big part of it. But I believe, and I truly believe this; it’s that, the kids are only weird because probably their parents are weird, or their environment was weird, or different, and it just kind of showed up.
But I also think that that weirdness is because I believe society is just a way of teaching kids, and what they are teaching them, and how they are having conversations is kind of numbed out that when you have a kid who is homeschooled has a vibrancy of a conversation or just acts a little differently because this huge structure that is a norm, these people probably just look different because they just know how to operate life better.
Angelo: Sure. I think when we were kids there is not a third of the resources you and Amy have right now to homeschool your kids, that obviously had something to do with their parents, but I think a lot of kids who are not really socially that’s all they had. Now there are so many tools for you to educate your kids. I think the level of it today has to be way different than when we were kids 30 years ago.
Tyler: [inaudible 0:20:47]
Angelo: It’s just interesting that you are doing it; I think it’s so courageous. I think it’s so fucking cool because, like I told you before we started, it’s so amazing to do something for your kids to not lose their spirit, and you could be completely fucking wrong right now but then the lesson would still be for your kids in 20 years it’s to take a shot to not lose your spirit. There is no way you could lose in this; either way they are coming out with an amazing lesson one way or the other.
Tyler: It’s very true either way you look at it. If we come to find out that this is not for them and we did the wrong thing, we have a lesson we can tell them, ‘hey look, we tried it, it didn’t work, now it’s time to move on and you can do the other thing, there’s always other things.’
Angelo: That’s awesome.
Tyler: That’s a good point.
Angelo: It’s so exciting. You have special time for you, check your phone?
Angelo: When I text you and you don’t answer me for 36 hours I just want to text you question marks. So I want you to help everyone understand this productivity hack that you have.
Tyler: Sometimes it’s laziness, sometimes it is productivity. I do sometimes really good at this, and sometimes really bad at it, but I will set certain times of the day where I check text messages or Facebook messages or emails. Most people kind of do the email thing, but the text messaging thing feels like an intrusion of my day. Sometimes I VDD and I’m hyper focused on something, the whole bing or something messages me, I don’t like it, it makes me mad especially when I’m in a focused zone. So I’ll purposely give myself the day to be like I won’t answer that at night or whatever time. Sometimes those things extend past and I forget about it, and I don’t look at the text message because I’m just whatever, and I get back too late. You and a few other friends can definitely vouch for that.
Angelo: That’s so incredible.
Tyler: I only do it because I want to get back to people, but I don’t want to set the expectations sometimes too that I’m available instantly at every single moment. Because sometimes I need my space to be able to—you know what I mean?
Tyler: It’s not your fault, it’s not anybody else’s, and I just need to tell people that that’s why I do it.
Angelo: Do you do it to your wife?
Angelo: You answer those messages.
Tyler: It’s weird you say that.
Tyler: Sometimes it will take like 4 to 6 hours to get back to her, but she knows that if she has an emergency or there is something serious she calls me.
Angelo: It’s good, I was just curious.
Tyler: That’s hilarious.
Angelo: Why do you think it’s so funny?
Tyler: Because you notice that little thing and I appreciate that.
Angelo: Rocio texted me like noon today and I was really busy, then I got home late and she would be ‘why didn’t you answer my message?’ I think there’s no rules when it comes to your partner.
Tyler: I agree. I also think that even 20 years ago we would not have been able to do the instant communication. There was an understanding there. We now have the ability sure to just instantly get communicated with, but I feel like as time goes on people that I think will truly have an advantage are the ones who look at the way in which other people did it way back when creating space in their lives to be able to be more productive. To picture the old school days you had to mail letters and type stuff up, there’s no email, it was phone calls, and that’s it. In order to communicate with someone, ‘hey, where’s the nearest pay phone?’ kind of thing. But you have that space in your brain a little bit to kind of formulate your conversation or think about what you are going to say, or just think of ideas.
I feel like all the information that we get from an input standpoint is too much. I guess that goes back to why I created space.
Angelo: A bit tough. I like that.
Tyler: I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, I think it doesn’t matter.
Angelo: If it works for you it’s right. Isn’t that it?
Tyler: Yeah. I actually just like to talk one-on-one because I get the message across really quick. I’d rather talk in person or on the phone.
Angelo: Your gym is almost 8 years old.
Angelo: Are you still excited about it? How do you still excite yourself about it after all these years?
Tyler: I like to think of new programs to implement, I like new strategies, I like to figure out how to become a better manager, again going back to investing and looking, and learning into myself as much as I can. There is always something I can work on to improve it. It’s like the guy who has a nice fancy car; it’s polished to the gills, nothing is wrong with the engine, but he is still changing oil and he is working on it. It’s another thing. I’m not saying I have a perfect thing, but it’s definitely something where I can always find something to improve. You know?
Tyler: That creates the excitement again of the learning about that thing I need to improve, and that keeps me going, it keeps me fueled.
Angelo: What are you trying to improve right now?
Tyler: I’m trying to change the way in which we bring on people into the gym that gives them the right thing for the right moment at the right time for their ability. We are implementing the level method system in our gym where we are going to have a true understanding of this person’s fitness; where they are currently, whether they are good, whether bad. Bringing them on with that, having another clear picture is going to give them more armor to understand their journey a little bit more than what they are doing on a day to day basis in the gym makes sense, it keeps them motivated, there is a purpose. We are changing up the programing a little bit with that, we are changing how we handle our people with that to create that structure.
Angelo: What is the level method?
Tyler: It’s just the way you assess athletes to help them progress essentially. Think of it like Jujitsu, like you do Jujitsu, it’s like from white belt to black belt. There is a system where I can—let’s just say I’m testing my front squat, that’s one of the tests, maybe let’s say I’m purple belt in that level. Then maybe the pull up strength, maybe I can squat 500 pounds or whatever but I can’t pull up my body weight or myself at all body weight. Most of the time I would say, oh, I can still squat, we can do the front is one of the tests, and that is one of the tests, I’m going to do the front squat no problem, but then I’m going to try and bust trough 21-59 on pull ups and you know for a fact that if you barely have one straight pull up and you are just doing a ring row you are not getting the same stimulus of that lactic test for that moment.
I think it’s the way CrossFit should have been, it’s that once I’ve identified where I am currently assessed I can give the proper prescription for that, rather than just saying skill test. It comes down to energy system training, it comes down to understanding the energy systems in the body and really attacking and prescribing that person the true prescription.
Angelo: How does that work in a group setting? You have a bunch of different programs?
Tyler: The way I foresee it, and we are in the process of testing it right now, is the program will be on the board, you’ll have white through, let’s say yellow is going to do this prescription, or workout, or skill, or strength, maybe it’s back squats. White might be a new athlete, someone who is brand new to CrossFit or fitness in general. Instead of doing 5-3-1 on a back squat they might be doing 3-10 because they need more volume, or just a neurological adaptation to that stimulus.
We’ll have a prescription of pro-programming for that group and then maybe it’s like the orange and blue belts are going to do this prescription, and the purple plus is going to do this prescription. So it’s going to come down to programming, but then we are going to have opportunities to do skill work, workshops, one-on-one training, program offerings to be able to meet the demand of those people’s problems.
Angelo: Who’s doing the programing, you?
Tyler: They currently have programming; I’m still in the process of trying to figure out the programming. I don’t know if I want to dedicate that much time to it, so I’m perhaps going to what they offer from a paid service perspective, otherwise it will be just me programming and trying to figure it out. Again, I don’t know yet.
Angelo: How have old members that hate new things taken to this?
Tyler: That’s going to be a challenge for some.
Angelo: When are you rolling this out?
Tyler: We are testing next week Monday. It’s called assessing; it’s not a test, because test is like pass or fail. Assessment happens starting next week for us. We’ve tested our work staff and coaches, so we have all our levels as coaches and staff.
Angelo: What level are you?
Tyler: I am a purple.
Angelo: What’s the highest, black?
Tyler: Black, yeah.
Angelo: How many from black are you?
Tyler: I have like three blacks, but my handstand and push up strength is absolutely atrocious, so that’s like blue or something. My [inaudible 0:31:32] was terrible, so I realized I’m shit right now. But my [inaudible 0:31:38] was in blue as well. It kind of averages it together.
Angelo: It’s cool. So you are assessing your group this week?
Tyler: Yes, it’s going to begin this week, this next week.
Angelo: Everyone that goes to Badger is going to participate in this?
Tyler: Yep. Not everybody is going to want to enter their results in. My goal was 50% of hearing some of our base membership, so we get 50% of the people to do it in the very beginning, which we are pretty close. We are at about 35% right now. I think once we start it should go up to 40-45. Then we are going to do that, we are going to test. I think most people, my older members, some of them who are resistant to change or they are in their way so to speak, I believe is going to help once they see the true reasoning behind it. They are going to see the validity of this thought process, because it almost gives the people that have been here forever more of a purpose.
You can get good at CrossFit, you could be generally fit, and you can just be there [inaudible 0:32:44]. Having the fire of coming in day to day doing test work and having strength with really not a true goal other than GPP is very frustrating. If I can know what my weakness is from a physical health standpoint, if I know my greatest weakness I can address those things to progress my health, because at the end of the day that’s going to come back to their reasoning, and we have to put into context why are they doing this, what is the point of them working on the ring depth for my overall health? I’m trying to frame it, and we’ll be able to do that later once everybody has come tested, just show them how this is important to them.
Angelo: So if you are a black belt in everything, let’s just say that, what does that say about you?
Tyler: As a human being?
Angelo: Like the most balanced fitness?
Tyler: Yeah. I don’t think anybody is all black that they have in their system currently. I would say this system is not for them, if that makes sense.
Angelo: Got it.
Tyler: This assessment doesn’t really matter for these people, so those are not necessarily the true reasons why we are implementing this process, but if there are, great, that’s awesome. But it’s more meant for the people from white to, let’s just say purple.
Angelo: And it’s all about giving them a balanced fitness?
Angelo: That’s like the [inaudible 0:34:17] now?
Tyler: Yeah, just balanced understanding. Like a true snapshot of their fitness. We can say we are balanced, like, oh yeah, I suck at handstand pushups’, but then what are you going to do about it? If you are okay with being okay, okay. No harm, no foul, you don’t need to push anything. Just be present, have fun, enjoy this, come in daily and just continue what you are doing here, you are still going to improve probably.
Angelo: It’s so interesting with the different levels of programming. It’s so cool.
Tyler: Sometimes it’s like our access scale, where you have fitness, health, fitness, performance.
It’s kind of like that same line, but not really because it’s truly prescribed for that person’s level. It’s kind of taking the hybrid approach of group and individual, and bringing it together in a little bit of same fashion. I’m excited. I have not been more excited about helping people out with their fitness than I am right now, and I haven’t even tested yet.
Angelo: It’s incredible. It’s very cool. Is it all like in a software app program?
Tyler: Yeah. They have a website they use, and when you enter your level for that test, there’s 15 tests, you get your overall snapshot of where you are at.
Angelo: It’s awesome. This is very, very cool. How long do you think you are going to own Badger for?
Tyler: Oh man, that’s a good question. My wife and I talk about this all the time. There’s probably only three ways, three things, three outs so to speak, and I think about those often, but I don’t put a timeline on. I would say once it becomes less fun to go, I guess is the time when I’m going to start to consider those three options. It can be down to my kid, or just close it. Those are the things. I would have a hard time letting it go than just letting it close down, I don’t think that’s even in the cards.
Angelo: But you have no idea in like….
Tyler: Right now I don’t. the ability to bring on people, to give them opportunities, to give them careers, to be able to make something happen, I think it makes sense to keep this thing going, and let’s just say have these people perhaps run it, and maybe kind of phase myself out a little bit. That’s maybe one option. Within three years I might even consider that, but right now it’s not really anything I’m hinging on to make a decision with.
Angelo: What about keeping the CrossFit name, do you think like you are more aligned with CrossFit now, or less aligned?
Tyler: More aligned. I’ve always believed in the vision of what CrossFit is, I really do. I don’t think the name has any bearing on one’s success. Sure, some people are going to knock me bear because of that name, or because of their experience, and that sucks, and there is nothing I can do about that other than to show and have my reputation supersede those objections.
Tyler: I see it as the name is just a name. If I changed it wouldn’t be because of the year, or because I’m not getting the business results I want, or I don’t believe in CrossFit. It would just be because I want to help more people with CrossFit. I want CrossFit. I think it is the best thing if done right. It’s the best thing I believe that anybody can do to maintain overall health and wellness if done properly.
Angelo: Now, would you open up a CrossFit gym though today? Do you feel like from a business opportunity you think it’s a good idea to open one up today?
Angelo: Neither do I.
Tyler: I don’t think so.
Angelo: Unless you are a big corporation, or have a lot of money behind you I think it’s such a hard business to get into right now.
Tyler: So hard, I think because we are established our roots are down and we have a name, we got in well. We got in when we were supposed to get in. But today man, I would not start a CrossFit gym.
Angelo: It’s hard.
Tyler: It’s way too hard, it’s so competitive. Everybody is doing something related to it. No, I wouldn’t.
Angelo: I’m going to take a little break so we could open up our water. There it is. I don’t think I would either. Let me ask you this, I don’t even know how many gyms you’ve probably worked with at this point, hundreds of gym owners; what are the top three things that people are fucking up right now, that when you are on your calls, and you are just like, goddamn it, I wish I could tell this blah, blah, blah, what are the three harsh realities for most people that are struggling right now in this CrossFit space?
Tyler: They are a shitty product. Just because they opened up a gym and a business and they view CrossFit and they are okay at it, I still believe that people have a shitty service.
Angelo: In what way, from a coaching perspective, like an education, or customer service?
Tyler: Service delivery, delivering awesome coaching, and just managing the product that they are delivering which is fitness in a group, or whatever they decide.
Angelo: How would you know if your product sucks? Because here is the thing that I think a lot of times people do, here’s a good example; I know a lot of people have eaten pizza, but I know the best pizza place in all of Chicago it’s called Spacca Napoli, it’s the best pizza. But your whole life you’ve probably been eating blah, blah, blah and thinking it’s really great, and then I take you there and you mind is blown. But if I don’t take you there you never know the difference, so how would someone know that they weren’t doing great in that department, in the product department?
Tyler: Yeah, very good question. I think that’s a big thing. I tell people to go visit other gyms that you believe are doing it well, or you want to see how they do it, or you put yourself out there and you have people evaluate how you are doing your service, or how you are coaching, or what the customer experience is from when they walk into the gym; having the outside perspective is a critical factor in knowing if you are truly offering a solid product, but the person has to be open to that idea. And the people that I’ve coached in their businesses, most of them want help; they are reaching to myself or anybody else in this business for help that want a different perspective. It’s the ones that are resistant to that help or that don’t see other fresh ideas that probably are going to be more in line with what you said; ‘I think I’m great, my pizza is great’.
Angelo: Yeah, so product, what else?
Tyler: Emotional intelligence, like really just having an understanding of the human being, knowing how they operate, what makes them tick, how to have a conversation, really knowing this persona and caring is the third thing, it kind of goes with both, with the emotional intelligence. But really giving a shit about this person is struggling through, putting yourself in their shoes and just really feeling their feels, their issues. I think that’s a really big thing. They become so transactional in this space because we want to get our business, and that’s important. In some instances we have to make that happen, but I think the care will never go away if you are truly a caring person.
It doesn’t matter what things are going to happen, other competitions come about, you can’t replicate someone who truly gives a shit. You can’t. You can put all the systems in place, you can do all these great things and you can make it look like really, really, you care, but you can’t show that on a human level with a business system or some ‘thank you’ card that gets [inaudible 0:43:13]
Angelo: Wow, it’s awesome.
Tyler: I say those things; it’s service delivery, emotional intelligence, and caring.
Angelo: What do you think you are the best at out of all those things?
Tyler: I think emotional intelligence. I can read people pretty well. I see their why based on how they interact with me. I see why they are coming training in my gym. I start to learn about it, I start to see their fears, their mannerisms, how they talk to me. I just can read people pretty well once I talk to them, and I can say that, yep, this person is going to definitely be someone who’s going to make this change, who may be great, or I can be like, this is definitely not going to be the case. I think it’s just years, and years of working with people, thousands of people, that I’ve been able to do that.
Angelo: That’s awesome. Emotional intelligence; that introvert IT life worked out for you buddy. That’s awesome.
Tyler: I guess so.
Angelo: It’s awesome though. I think also too, it’s just so competitive in our space right now, even if you’ve been around a long time, I think you still can’t rest on just that alone.
Angelo: It’s so hard.
Tyler: Yep. You can be the most caring person in the world and be amazing at what you do, but if you don’t have the business system and marketing argument, and everything, customer experience it’s almost like you have a wasted talent.
You just have all these amazingness that you can hand someone—I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve worked with people that’s like, ‘you are the coolest person. It’s wonderful to talk to you, you seem like an amazing human being, and I would love to have people use your services’, but there are so many things that we can work on from the business side. These people will never have that opportunity; they just don’t have that skill yet. Or it’s just maybe they are too late in the game, or they don’t have enough marketing budget- there are so many factors to it.
Angelo: Do you think some people aren’t good enough?
Tyler: At business?
Angelo: At the whole thing.
Tyler: Oh yeah, for sure there’s a lot of people.
Angelo: Have you ever told someone that?
Tyler: No, I don’t know if I could. I don’t know if it’s my place to say, ‘this is not something that you should be doing.’ I wouldn’t want to take someone’s dream and tell them that what they are doing in their dream is not good, because that’s not my place. Let’s just say that they hired me to be their consultant for their gym, or their business, or whatever it is, they are coming to me to help them to make their dream happen.
Tyler: I don’t know if I want to cross that line of telling them that unless I know it can truly make them worse or [inaudible 0:46:58] path, I don’t know if I could tell them that this is not for you.
Angelo: I’m just curious. I think along with carrying emotional intelligence and stuff, there is a place where talent and being made for something and not being made for something matters too. I think for a lot of people this idea of being an entrepreneur is really cool. I met a lot of people that I think want to be entrepreneurs for the wrong reasons. Not that they are not made for it, but at the same time too, I don’t think a lot of people are getting into this now anyways for—I don’t want to say the right reasons, because that’s kind of righteous, but I opened a CrossFit gym because I thought it was the greatest thing in the world and I would die to do it.
The thought of doing anything else was never—I was just like, this will be fun to work out, I don’t give a shit. I think sometimes people today, I don’t know if it’s just my thinking, but if you ever dream and you’ve got so many plans if the dream doesn’t work, or of there is anything like that, I think it’s not really your dream. I think people need to know that too. It’s got to be true with yourself, and maybe that’s why you are truly, truly struggling with certain things, because that’s not really it. I’m a believer that if it’s really your dream it works. You know what I’m saying?
Tyler: Mmh. I always think too, I use that quote all the time. These guys are like, I know I’m a starter, but know for a fact that the skills aren’t going to be able to make them starter, even though they want to be a starter. I’m kind of on the pessimistic side of that a little bit. It’s just my personality.
Angelo: What do you mean?
Tyler: if I see a kid who wants to make varsity on basketball, and he is trying out, his pure goal and passion is to make the varsity basketball team, that’s a junior or whatever, what he does he is not good enough to make that, but he thinks in his head that he is good enough, I think that’s [inaudible 0:49:38]. Even though he is so good at it I don’t want to say that’s going to work out. I’ll tell him I guess in that instance, that his work ethic, his passion should never die out even though the result hasn’t been what he wanted.
Angelo: So interesting. It’s such an interesting idea of not being the god of a situation, saying you can’t do it or anything like that, but at the same time encouraging them to understand the situation. You wouldn’t say no, but you would also help them try to get it that that’s where it’s at. I think it’s so difficult. I think we just on a little crazy tangent, see, I told you, we are just going to get down—it’s so difficult and so hard to really make it in business, and anyone that’s out there that’s doing it, I think I don’t care how much money you are making, if your business isn’t losing in this day and age I think is an amazing thing just because of how much competition, different people and everywhere, and so much out there.
Also too, I hope the people that need help get the help at. Walking away losing $1,000 is better than walking away losing $10,000. I think a lot of times people can’t take a L on their record even though they really should. I met a business owner, not a gym owner, but in a deal and we can’t let go, as long as we are still in the game, we didn’t really lose yet. But in reality, sometimes I think losing in the short term is really a fucking great solution for a lot of people, you know what I mean?
Tyler: Yeah, totally. Like [inaudible 0:51:48] sometimes you have to fail to move forward. I think that’s true. You have to take that L to understand that that was maybe not a good idea, or it’s just not for you.
Angelo: So interesting.
Tyler: That is interesting.
Angelo: Besides being really excited about your gym and your kids being homeschooled, what else are you really excited about for 2019?
Tyler: I’m excited to travel this year.
Angelo: Where are you going?
Tyler: In about a few weeks here we are going to [inaudible 0:52:22] area, later in the spring go to Europe.
Angelo: Where in Europe?
Tyler: Switzerland and Germany, Austria, that kind of area, and then France.
Angelo: Very cool. I love the fact that you convinced yourself; you and Amy convinced each other that in order for you guys to travel more frequently you were going to homeschool your kids. I love that you said that, I know you are like, ‘I’m so excited about all this travel, kids take this ski and try it on that airplane, we are out of here.’
Tyler: It looks like that.
Angelo: It’s awesome.
Tyler: It just gives us more freedom though to make that happen, I guess. Because of that decision we’ve now opened the realm of possibility to travel more, and now we are going to be, cool, let’s take advantage of it.
Angelo: I think it’s so cool. I’ve been thinking about this, and I think I’m not going to give my kids Santa gifts every year, their gift is going to be to travel, like we’ll go on a family trip, or multiple ones. The greatest thing you could teach your kids is having an open mind, one of them anyways. The more you travel the different places, you see different things, you appreciate different things, you meet different people, you learn that not everyone does what you do, I think it’s such an amazing thing for kids. You are going to go to Europe and Mexico, it’s awesome.
Angelo: Did you book Europe yet?
Tyler: No, not yet.
Angelo: What are you waiting for?
Tyler: We have to figure out when and where we are going to go specifically.
Angelo: It’s awesome.
Tyler: Yeah. That’s one of those things that I’m kind of excited for 2019. Business wise my ideas are we are going to expand this year. The goal is to grow that, more importantly create more opportunities for people in the business, so I’m excited about that part. I’m excited for a new chapter with the kids and Amy. I’m just immersing myself and my family a little bit more as a result of that. Again, more opportunities now that they are out of school, so be able to do a little bit more, I think in terms of opportunities of learning or whatever, as a family.
Angelo: That’s awesome.
Tyler: Because I want to grow my family close. I love my kids. It’s weird; it’s the one job that you are going to have forever, that you have your kids. It’s something that you can immerse yourself in that relationship and just see them grow, and then what you put into them, and they both will appreciate that, and then seeing them raise their kids and their families. It’s amazing. I always think I can leave tomorrow, or I could die on the way home today, and I don’t care about any other success in my business, I don’t care about any of the accolades so to speak, I care about what my kids are going to do and what they are going to think. For me that’s what keeps me wanting to keep immersing myself in them and making sure that those relationships are high priority for me and nurtured.
Angelo: That’s awesome. That’s amazing. Alright, I let everyone that comes on the show—I forgot a couple of people, but for the majority everyone that comes on the show takes a crack at defining alpha hippie. How would you define the alpha hippie if someone asks you?
Tyler: The alpha hippie to me means someone who is comfortable in where they are going, stumbling along the way, and they are open to new ideas, to be able to continue to grow, and be the best person that they can be. I see it as someone who is comfortable of failing and making mistakes, and just being open to new ideas, and giving other people opportunities, giving themselves the opportunities to succeed and to fail.
Angelo: I love it. Where could people find you, Badger, all your stuff?
Tyler: I’m available on Instagram as pcftyler, I have a Facebook page, a coaching page as well on Facebook Tyler Sullivan-Coach, and you can also find me on my gym badgercrossfit.com or the Facebook pages for them.
Angelo: It’s awesome. One last question; if you had one word to be remembered by, what would it be?
Tyler: Oh boy, honest.
Tyler: I’m honest in my relationships, my dealings, that everything I have was of integrity, and that people saw the authentic me for who I am, and what I believe.
Angelo: Good answer. I like it. Thanks for being on the show Mr. Tyler Sullivan.
Tyler: Thank you Mr. Angelo.
You’ve been listening to the Alpha Hippie Podcast.
Angelo: Thanks for listening to the Alpha Hippie Podcast everyone. Again, if you are enjoying the show, please subscribe and give us a rating on iTunes, my guest and I really appreciate the feedback. And if you are on Instagram, follow us at @thealphahippie to see what’s going on in our world, upcoming shows, and all our news. See you next time.
0:58:55 End of show.