A little over 3 months ago, I decided to give CrossFit a try. My friend John had been encouraging me for some time to join his home-based CrossFit group and finally after a few adult beverages at a cocktail party I relented and agreed to show up at 6am Monday morning. I’ve been a regular ever since.
But, I’m not going to talk about the fitness program (which is fantastic). What I want to share with you is the business philosophy of CrossFit founder Greg Glassman. A few weeks ago I stumbled across this 12 minute video which has some truly profound business insights. The cool thing is that this guy didn’t set out to build a billion dollar business, or graduate from business school. If he had, he most likely would have failed in his real mission.
According to Glassman his goal when starting out was to build the “best training program on earth”. He was so “successful” that he was fired by every gym in Santa Cruz due to taking the other trainer’s clients. After being let go by the last gym one of his clients, who ran a Jiu-Jitsu studio, offered him 150 square feet to start his own gym, telling him, “they hate you because you’re the best”. That was in 2000.
He soon outgrew the space and decided to rent a 1250 square foot building. Within 4-5 months he had an over-crowding issue and was faced with having to make real business decisions. With that early success, he began to focus on money and not on making the program better.
At this pivotal moment, Glassman realized that what fed the success of CrossFit was the pursuit of excellence. As he puts it,
Excellence is obvious to everyone. It’s just that easy.
Today CrossFit is a worldwide phenomenon with over 7000 affiliate gyms around the globe.
As a small business owner it’s easy to be more concerned with making money than creating value. At around the 4-minute mark in the video, Glassman goes to the white board to beautifully illustrate his point about pursuing excellence first.
He closes the talk with these thoughts:
Money is the result of doing things right. Money is essential to run a business, but it’s not why you run a business or what makes it grow. Businesses grow on dreams. Trying to make money is no way to grow a business.”
Watch the video, it’s well worth 12 minutes of your time. Let us know what you think. Agree or disagree?