In this week’s podcast episode, Mike shares a story from his earliest days as a studio owner about the importance of prioritizing time for yourself. Happy Thanksgiving!
Ep 50 A Short Thanksgiving Message
You’re listening to The Martial Arts Business Podcast with your host, Small Dojo Big Profits author Mike Massie. Remember to go to Martial Arts Business Daily dot com slash podcast for show notes, transcripts, links to martial arts, business resources, and more. Now here’s your host, Mike Massie.
Hey folks, it’s Mike Massie and I’m back with another edition of The Martial Arts Business Podcast. This week’s podcast episode is going to be really short. I had an interview scheduled for today, but unfortunately it didn’t work out, so I’m just going to record a short Thanksgiving message. Not like I want to be working on Thanksgiving anyway. And that is basically the crux of the message for today. So when I started my first martial arts studio, my first successful studio, I should say, because as you all have read my book, know that I failed, what, three times before I opened that first successful studio. So I wasn’t out of the gate. I wasn’t I wasn’t exactly the best, the best martial arts school manager in the world.
But eventually, you know, I figured things out, got some mentorship and so forth and and got things figured out. So. 1s After open that school. You have to understand where I came from. I had been kicked out of my house for life after I turned 17. Didn’t finish high school. Ended up getting a GED. You know, after I got kicked out of my house because I knew I needed, you know, something, some sort of high school equivalency. If I had graduated high school because of the my act scores, my college entrance exam scores, I probably would have got a full ride scholarship to any state university in the state where I went to high school at, but unfortunately, they didn’t give those scholarships to people who didn’t graduate high school. If you had a GED, you didn’t qualify for it, which is absolutely ass backwards. But you know, who knows?
So, you know, I was pretty much stuck working minimum wage jobs. I ended up entering the service, get trained as a medic, got an EMT certification. When I got out of the service, I worked as an AR tech for a year. And that was just honestly, even though it was a skilled job, it was just barely an above wage, minimum wage job. So when I moved to Austin, I moved to Austin, actually to complete nursing school, and I’d started teaching martial arts to pay my way through nursing school. I ended up, you know, kind of like a fool really dropping out of nursing school in my last semester because my martial arts studio took off and I, you know, I realized pretty quickly I was making way more money than I was going to make as a nurse with an associate’s degree.
So 1s I was obsessed with my business at that time, absolutely obsessed with my martial arts studio, absolutely obsessed with making it work. I sacrificed so much to get that studio up and running. I didn’t have a social life for years. I gave up all drinking, you know, all socializing, all going out and partying, going out to dance clubs, dating, serious dating. I didn’t do any serious dating for years. You know, I, you know, really honestly just focused on my studio and that was it. You know, it’s kind of funny because early days, my studio, I didn’t even watch television during the week because I spent all my time at the studio during the week and on the weekends. You know, I was honestly too tired to do anything but, you know, rest.
And, you know, of course I was working out every day and so forth too. But, you know, and then sometimes working on the weekends in order to make ends meet. While I was first getting started and there were entire years, I mean, I’ll go and I’ll watch episodes of shows that were primetime shows during that time. And honestly, you know, I have no recollection of these shows happening because I never watched them the first time around. So, you know, I missed out on a lot in order to make my business work in order to make a go of it in business, you know, coming from nothing, having nobody giving me anything and, you know, having to start from scratch and build a business from the ground up, bootstrapping it.
So because I was so obsessed with my business, I didn’t take a single day off for the first three years I ran my business. And I happened to get the flu one winter during flu season. And I was just like, I mean, I was beside myself because, you know, I was too sick to, you know, I was, you know, puking and, you know, all the good stuff that goes along with having a horrible flu and, you know, is bedridden for a few days and, you know, sent an email to all my clients telling him, hey, look, you know, I’m sick and don’t have anybody to cover classes for me because I hadn’t yet gotten to the point to where, you know, I had really trained people who could cover classes for me, or at least I didn’t think I had, you know, although probably I had some people that could have done it at that time.
But I was still in my stage where I was trying to do everything myself. And I remember coming back to the studio and apologizing to some of the parents and, you know, kids that were at my Black Belt Club and apologizing for missing class and not being able to teach class and and be there for them when they pay their tuition. And this one, mom, and she was a veterinarian, you know, so she ran her own business and she just kind of looked at me and she said, Mr. Massie, stop apologizing, you haven’t taken a day off for three years. You haven’t taken a day off since since we started here.
And it hadn’t occurred to me at that point that it had been that long since I had taken a day off. Besides, you know, typical weekends and stuff like that. And it hadn’t occurred to me that I was entitled to take six time off and to take time off and to take holidays off and do things like that. And that kind of marked a point in my business where I made a shift in how I thought about my business and to where I started looking at my business more as something that was there to support me, that I wasn’t there to support it.
And I think that kind of sparked my eventual move toward looking at martial arts studios and dojos, especially small dojos, and developing The Small Dojo Big Profit System as kind of a lifestyle engineering system for martial arts instructors, school owners, in which you determine what you want your school to do for you. As far as you know what type of lifestyle you want the school to support, both financially and time wise and otherwise. And then you design your school, your engineer, your school to support that lifestyle that you want. And so, you know, definitely that was a turning point for me. And it was something that taught me a very valuable lesson.
And from that point on, I started scheduling in days off for my studio. I started taking more time off. Eventually I got away from coaching because coaching, you know, I spent for like six years in a row, I spent every vacation coaching kids at Amateur Athletic Union, you know, tournaments and stuff, you know, going to nationals and finally realized that I wasn’t getting paid any extra for that, that, you know, it was a thankless job and people didn’t appreciate it. And I quit doing it. So I guess the overall message that I’m telling you on this Thanksgiving weekend is, is that you need to make sure you’re taking time for yourself. You don’t want to work yourself sick.
I believe that’s what I did. You know, I think that the amount of work that I was doing during the pandemic, you know, I was still doing consulting work, try to, you know, manage my consulting business because, you know, clients were dropping off like flies because you guys out there who were running martial arts schools at that time, you were struggling, and I understood that. And so I started teaching martial arts. That’s when I developed the micro dojo approach, and that worked very well for me. That carried me through the pandemic.
But essentially what I was doing was I was writing full time, I was doing consulting part time, and I was teaching martial arts full time during the pandemic, and I was in my house 100% of the time, like most of you were. But I just couldn’t get away from work. So for a period of a couple of years straight, you know, all I did was I worked three jobs and I worked, you know, 24 over seven, 365 practically. You know, I think I maybe we’d get one day off, but it never really works out that way because, you know, I’d be off on a Sunday and I’d still be doing work, you know, doing advertising, consulting, you know, media work, whatever.
So I believe that contributed to my illness. Now, there are many different theories about why people get cancer, and I’m not going to go into those. You know, I do have a background in health care, but I’m not a physician. And, you know, I’m neither a physician or a health care researcher, for that matter. But, you know, the stress is one of the contributing factors that is widely accepted to contribute to the development of cancer, simply because stress runs down your immune system. And when your immune system runs down, everybody has cancer cells in their body, and those cancer cells can have an opportunity to proliferate. At least this is the theory that some people hold to. And that is one theory why people will develop cancers.
So I do think that overworking and being stressed probably contributed to my illness. And, you know, it’s a lesson I’ve learned many years ago that I, you know, I should have never forgotten. So I’m going to encourage you this weekend, you know, as you’re moving forward in your business, no matter what stage you’re at in your business, whether you’re just getting started. Whether you are, you know, like in the planning stages, whether you’ve got your school launched, you’re in that critical first year, second year in business, or whether you’re more established and you’re looking to make your school grow, or possibly you’ve run a larger school and you’re looking to dial it back, you’re looking to take back some of your time and time freedom for yourself by downsizing to a smaller school to a small dojo big profits type school.
I would encourage you to engineer time into your schedule for yourself. Time off you know, engineer at least one afternoon every week during the work week that you can spend on yourself. It’s just me time for you and make sure that you’re scheduling your weekends off. You know, make sure you’re not working six, seven days a week because you can only sustain that for so long. And if you’re if you’re like I was and you’re not very good at duplicating yourself initially, eventually it’s going to take a toll on you. And that we’re in terror is going to show, and you’re going to wake up one day and realize that you’re running a school, the type of school that you never wanted to run, and you are living the type of life you never wanted to live.
So this Thanksgiving weekend, yes, and we should all be thankful for all the blessings we have that our business or martial arts studios or dojos have brought us. But also we also need to make sure that we keep things in perspective and and realize that the money you make, you can’t take it with you and the time you miss, you know, miss out on doing things that you would rather be doing, whether that’s spending time with loved ones, whether it’s traveling, whether it’s taking training opportunities that you might have missed because you’re running your studio or what have you, you’ll never get that time back. Okay?
That time is, you know, it is an asset, a resource that once it’s lost, it’s gone. So take time for yourself, okay? That’s my Thanksgiving message to you. I’m going to let you go at that, and I will see you in next week’s podcast episode.
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