As far as public perception goes, Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) has been a Strong-Link Business since the day we decided to put one individual’s name on the wall back in July of 2007.
Unfamiliar with the concept of Weak-Link versus Strong-Link Networks or Businesses? I was too, until I stumbled upon it while listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s new podcast, Revisionist History. It was the episode entitled My Little Hundred Million that introduced me to the idea that the games of soccer and basketball can be categorized as weak-link and strong-link, respectively.
More specifically, a strong-link game or network is one where the team as a whole can thrive thanks to the presence of a single super-star. The example Gladwell used was that of LeBron James leading a marginally talented team all the way to an NBA title to demonstrate how influential a single athlete can be in a strong-link game. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have a game like soccer, where scoring opportunities come few and far between, meaning that the mistakes of the below-average players are considerably more likely to impact the outcome of a contest than those of your fourth or fifth man on a basketball court.
Categorizing CSP as strong-link is inaccurate
Earlier this week my Facebook application was kind enough to remind me that “on this day” in 2014, I made the following declaration:
"Over 2,800 athletes have trained at CP. That means 2,800+ assessments, some multiple of that number in individualized programs, and just a shade under 100,000 supervised training sessions have been executed since 2007. Now, keep this number in mind when I tell you that roughly 96% of the emails and phone calls we receive start with either "Hi Eric" or I'd like to speak with Eric." Lesson to be learned...don't put one individual's name on your performance enhancement center when it takes about ten of you to keep it moving smoothy. Ooops."
While the number of athletes and sessions completed has crept up considerably since this original posting, the takeaway remains relevant and important. Strong-Link fitness facilities cannot thrive upon introduction of a second location. Similarly, the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t shift LeBron James over to their JV squad and expect that the varsity team would continue to thrive simply because the systems and philosophy didn’t change.
Scott Meyer put it best in this article when he said: “A small core of strong-link leaders can help a company get off the ground and lead it through growth, but a sustainable company has a skilled team. If someone leaves or is added to the team, the team maintains its standards and continues to develop its expertise.”
This is exactly why CSP Massachusetts kept chugging along profitably in Eric’s absence upon opening the doors in Jupiter, Florida back in the fall of 2014. Additionally, the walls didn’t come crumbling down when our Co-Founder Tony Gentilcore moved on to pursue his own personal endeavors. In the past 2+ years we’ve added new personalities to our employee roster, but continued to focus on the same standards for coaching development and the accumulation of useful skills and knowledge that were in place long before our superstar staff members transitioned away from being a full-time presence here in Massachusetts.
If your objective is to take your single fitness location to two or more, a considerably above average team will be far more successful than an average one with a single superstar.
Application to YOUR fitness business
All is not lost if you’ve made the decision to incorporate your own name into the title of your business. However, you’re operating an entirely unscalable model if you’ve done so and failed to concern yourself with developing your team. The next time you make a hire, focus exclusively on identifying a coach who fills a gap in your company skill set instead of recruiting the individual with the biggest web presence. Rock-star coaches are rarely the ones who are looking to be the hired gun that improves a team as a whole; they’re searching for the best-equipped space to coach their clients, and record their next tutorial video to drive traffic to a personal blog or website.
Attract quality candidates by emphasizing a focus on continuing education. At CSP we offer a continuing-ed stipend as part of the employee comp package, weekly staff in-services, and opportunities to be featured on the presenter roster of our annual fall and spring seminars.
We’ve empowered our team, and you can benefit from it...
I’m excited to announce that we’ve created a product titled CSP Innovations, the first ever collaboration between our entire coaching staff. This collection of 11 webinars not only showcases an in-depth understanding of complex and immediately applicable fitness concepts, but it also clearly illustrates that the operation of CSP is anything but a strong-link game. Eric Cressey is as smart as ever (as you’ll see in his presentation, Scapular Control: Implications for Health and High Performance), but he’s backed by a team of thought-leaders that I’m truly proud to have helped to assemble.
If you enjoy my take on running a gym and building a unique team such as ours, you’ll appreciate my presentation, Empowering Your Fitness Team. In it, I take you deep into the mentality and strategy behind our system which allows employees build personal brands and thrive as team members simultaneously.
Check out www.CSPinnovations.com today to learn more. Early bird rate now through Sunday saves you $50!