Picking up from my last blog, in the spring of 2019 I was doing my best to enjoy a new Equilibrium in my life, but my ordinary world had a serious problem brewing underneath it. On an emotional level I was longing for the next adventure, but on a tangible level, I was in serious financial trouble, which in hindsight was probably contributing to my feelings of unease. My work as a Pilates instructor, while personally fulfilling, was starting to flounder as more clients quit, and fewer new clients filled in the slots, causing me to use my credit cards just to get by (something I did while I was married which only exacerbated problems with my now ex-wife). I was, of course, still trying to figure out how to get my personal development business (this business) up and running to the point where it could make me some money.
I should backtrack and mention that about a year prior to this point I had quit my job at a health spa because I wanted to focus my attention on growing Hero’s Breath. From the outset my plan was for it to become, not just a means for some random, internet “sober-bro” (me) to dish out a bunch of feel-good motivational jargon, but as a distribution platform for ideas. I wanted to create events and host other thought leaders, which I hoped would bring in a flow of capital to help Hero’s Breath become a household name. So when I quit the spa, things at the Pilates studio were cranking, and I was able to pay my bills in the few hours a week I had clients, which left me plenty of time to work on writing, filming, networking, etc. Flashforward a year later however, and the wind had begun to shift.
I didn’t notice it at first because there are always seasonal peaks and valleys in the fitness industry. Besides that, it’s expected for clients to just flake out A LOT (all trainers know and accept this as reality). However, something was different; something in the ether was changing, and I think on some level I knew it, which probably further added to my sense of unease. Still, I kept my head and my spirits up. I focused on what I could do to increase joy and positivity in the world. I continued to apply the lessons I had learned on my first long round through the monomyth. I was determined to never again be the toxic, negative person that I once was, but to be better, and to share that vibe with others. And hey, new girlfriend…so…that was nice!
One day in late August of 2019 while I was struggling to write a coherent blog (a task I labored at for months to little avail) I got a phone call that changed everything. It was from a number I didn’t recognize, so naturally, I didn’t pick up.
A minute later, that same number sent me a text, “Hi Matt this is Nicole. I was referred to by Daniel *redacted*. He had some great things to say about you. Have you a minute to speak?”
To which I replied, “Hi Nicole. What can I do for you?”
She answered, “He put your name down as a character reference.”
That’s all she had to say. Daniel (Dan, to me) is an old buddy from high school and a fellow Freemason, so I was glad to help him out. I’m not one to make a habit of lying, but for a friend and brother I would have exaggerated every positive attribute and minimized every flaw to the point of absurdity. I dropped the unworkable blog I was throwing words at on and picked up my phone. An incredibly warm and friendly voice greeted me on the other end. I asked what position Dan had applied for and she explained that she was calling from a financial and marketing firm. I told her that he was a truly solid dude; loyal, trustworthy, and hard-working (all of which was true) and that she should hire him without delay. She thanked me for my input and asked me what I did for a living. Not wanting to sound like Dan had just put some shmuck working at an old Ikea desk under the stairs in his parents’ basement down as a professional reference, I did my best to sound important. (The previous sentence was constructed out of pure narcissism with no lack of self-deprecation.)
I told Nicole that I was a recovering alcoholic building my own personal development brand. I explained the philosophy behind it, elucidated the hero’s journey to her, and clarified that I was currently teaching Pilates to pay the bills as I grew my business. She seemed genuinely intrigued and we chatted for a few minutes. During the conversation she said a few key phrases that I recognized from my time in various MLM’s, so my guard quickly went up. Even so, within a five minute conversation I had somehow agreed to a meeting at the office with her husband to learn more about the company. I hung up the phone and said to myself, out loud, “What the hell just happened?”
As I’ve mentioned before, when you strip everything about me away – the brand, the careers, the dressing of what I do – and get down get to who I am at my core, the truth is I am a marketer. I love connecting human beings with the ideas, products, services, and people that they need to make their lives better. Now, marketing comes in many varieties and it utilizes many tools, one of which is the telephone. I hate the phone. I always have, and I probably always will. I don’t communicate well during personal calls, and I’m even worse on business calls. However, when it comes to things I’m bad at, I remember the words of social media mogul, Gary Vaynerchuk who tells us to go all-in on our strengths, but to sure-up our weaknesses.
I immediately realized that Nicole got my walls down with such ease and grace. Somehow, within the span of five minutes she got me to agree to drive almost half an hour away from my house in the middle of the day to what I was relatively certain was a MLM type of situation. I realized she had a skill I needed and I thought that if I could learn what she learned, and applied that skill, even just a little bit, that it would help me out in my own life, both personally and professionally. If it was a MLM as I suspected, experience taught me that all such companies have formulas and systems and scripts, and there’s usually a point after joining that I can grab a bunch of training material, and then quit the business before the first payment even hits my credit card. So the next day I put on a collared shirt, got into my car, and drove to the offices of Revolution Financial Management, fully expecting to join a MLM, get as much free training as I could squeeze out of them, and bolt. Little did I know I was walking in to the next phase of my journey, Refusal of the Call.