Important Business Lessons

Episode 1017: Important Business Lessons, with Peter Taunton

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Important business lessons — Explore business wisdom and insights to drive growth and success with these important business lessons.

Important business lessons are very essential for today’s modern business. Despite the ups and downs of markets and new technologies, one thing always stays the same: the important lessons we learn from our experiences.

In today’s episode of Onward Nation — I will be partnering with Peter Taunton, Founder and CEO of Lift Brands. Peter is an expert at understanding consumer desires and fulfilling them. Over the years, he has acquired or founded several brands to round out the consumer-fitness experience: 9Round, Farrell’s, YogaFit, STEELE Fitness, and Fitness On Demand. Together with the Snap Fitness brand, they comprise the world’s largest wellness franchise organizations with over 6000 locations open or in development across multiple brands serving 165 million workouts and counting.

Peter and I are going to cover the important business lessons that you should follow to attract the right clients. You’ll undoubtedly walk away with several golden nuggets that you can apply to your business.


What you’ll learn in this episode is about important business lessons

  • How Peter learned his first important business lessons at just eight years old, selling popcorn in front of his father’s grocery store
  • Why one of Peter’s most important business lessons to share is that sometimes it’s necessary for things to get uncomfortable for you to achieve your success
  • How Peter helps his coaching clients recognize the changes and pivots they need to make to restart the growth of their businesses
  • Why getting your entire team aligned is vital, and what key lessons Peter’s book “Impossible Hill” teaches about discipline, accountability and perspective
  • Why we usually see a curated, fictional version of people’s success, and why those who are truly giving of their wisdom are the best teachers
  • How Peter built out a thriving, successful team full of coachable people at Snap Fitness, and why this team was crucial for the brand’s success
  • Why recognizing team members who are “pulling deep on the oars” with love and respect is vital for building loyalty and strengthening relationships
  • How Peter tackled the tough challenge of turning around a failing business by focusing on the opportunity it presented rather than the difficulty
  • How 22-year old Peter led by example and created a shared purpose for the club’s team of 50 employees, and how he turned things around in just 8 years
  • Why Peter wrote his book “Impossible Hill”, and why he considers himself a “hill-taker” who can overcome unbelievable odds


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Important Business Lessons: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner. 


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation, where I interviewed today’s top business owners. So we can learn their recipe for success, how they built and how they scaled their business recently, and had this really amazing opportunity Onward, to talk with a business owner who has successfully built and scaled multiple businesses in what I loved, absolutely loved about his story was that it didn’t happen overnight. And I know intellectually we get that, but the fact that it didn’t happen overnight, not even close, he was actually some of the most inspiring pieces because of the lessons learned along the way. 


In fact, I’ll even say that in the trenches work, those hard work lessons he learned in, or to build one of his companies. I mean, these staggering numbers built one of his companies to the point that he cashed out a couple of chunks of his stock for a hundred million dollars. Well, it took him 30 years Onward now he had to learn those lessons. He had to practice those lessons. He had to perfect those lessons, and multiple businesses along the way. And one of the most valuable lessons he learned, well, he learned it when he was just eight years old working alongside his dad. It’s his dad’s grocery store. There was the day. 


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Important Business Lessons: Peter’s Introduction


And I’m going to ask Peter to share the story with you in just a few minutes, but his dad said to him one day, Son, you’re either going to make things happen. How are you going to watch things happen? His amazing story, how that just was burned into his business psyche, as soon as he learned that lesson. So the business owner I’m alluding to today is Peter Taunton. Peter is our guest expert, and I’m going to ask Peter to walk us through his path and journey, and specifically the lessons you learned along the way from his dad and other, super smart people who were kind enough to share their insights and wisdom with Peter. 


And then he took that knowledge. And this is the key piece. We all learn lessons every day, but then he took that knowledge and he transformed it through his hard work and he built successful companies as a result. Peter is the founder of Snap Fitness and yup. He and his team, are best known for opening over a thousand locations in just seven years, more locations than that. But think about that for just a second or a thousand locations in seven years. I’ve got my numbers right in just 12 months. However, one of the key lessons, I’ve learned from Peter in our short term, the short time of knowing one another is that the success of snap fitness is and was amazing. 


Of course, absolutely super impressive what made that possible, where the lessons he learned from his most influential mentor of course like his dad, as I mentioned, and then the blood, sweat, and tears, Peter invested for 20 years in building seven other fitness clubs years before he had the idea of how to revolutionize the fitness industry, which is what snap did, but years before thinking about how they could change the industry on a dime in what would become snap fitness. So when Peter shared his story with me, I thought holy bananas, I need to invite him to join me on the podcast because all too often, we, as business owners were in a hurry. 


We want that next level. We wanna achieve X, or we see on social media that someone else achieved Z. And then it becomes super easy to forget that there are lessons and opportunities around us all the time, and it is super important to get better and better every single day so that when the time comes we’re ready. So without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, Peter. 


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Important Business Lessons: Lessons from an Eight-Year-Old Entrepreneur


Hey, Good morning, Stephen. Wow, thanks for that. Thanks for that great introduction and welcome onboard nation. Now I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a long time. And as I said earlier, nothing’s off the table. You feel free to ask me anything. You’d like, I’ve obviously been in the last, had an amazing journey in my life. And it hasn’t all been easy. It’s been a lot of hard work, but certainly very rewarding, even the even, or even the difficult times. And I think for all your listeners out there, that’s like that. That’s the first nugget of gold to throw out there this morning that, Hey, look, life it’s uncertain. And it’s that uncertainty that we have to learn to deal with. And it’s interesting how some people deal with that. Sometimes, when those uncertain moments come or people feel like they have been blindsided, how do you respond? 


Because that’s how you see the true leadership qualities. How did they respond? How did they pivot? How did they remain calm and collective and in their wits about them as they need to make important decisions that not only affect them, but affect the hundreds of families that might potentially work for them? 


Oh, amen to that. And the end to that, this is going to be such a great, great conversation. Thank you again for saying yes Peter, of course, take us back to you being eight years old and you’re selling popcorn and your dad’s store. I don’t want to, I don’t want to give the story the way. So take us back to that lesson and then also why it was so impactful. 


Yeah. And I think just to, just to have to break it down and I love to get people context of I grew up in a small town in, in rural Minnesota, right? I’m the youngest of seven kids. I am an identical twin and he and I were the youngest of seven kids. So I’m not some trust fund baby. I went to school in a two-room schoolhouse. And my father happened to own, the grocery store in this small hometown that we, that we, that we grew up in, and with my father, it was not a, it was not an option. My dad, often said, Hey, look, we’re going to do one of the three things you’re gonna go to school, play sports, or are you going to work for me? Right. So, it was great for me. 


That’s the kind of structure I needed to be honest with you. So at eight years old, you just like my brothers and sisters had done before me. They sold popcorn in front of the grocery store. Now, I didn’t know where I sat 50, some odd years later, I didn’t know that some of the life lessons I was going to learn, would stick with me all this time. And now as I sit back and I have perspective and I reflect, I think about, wow, what an, what an unbelievable gift to have, to be able to sit there and witness my father and some of the people that he worked with, how they handled certain situations. and then my father holding my feet to the fire, making me you to be accountable, making me level up in any way that he thought I, could you go through the lens of an eight-year-old, because you obviously in eight years old, you have to handle at somewhat delicately. 


But my dad was, he was very direct I responded well to that. 


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Important Business Lessons: Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone


It’s amazing. So one of your first jobs,  I understand if I understand the story correctly, was you selling popcorn, like your siblings before you, right? And then your dad comes to you and checks in on sales. Right? 


My dad, one morning I remember it. Like it was yesterday. He was such a pivotal moment for me. My father watched past me and he got about 30 feet out in front of me. And he stopped and pivoted and he turned his back towards me. So I’m thinking as any eight year old, I’m thinking, oh my gosh, he’s looking right at me now. And as he’s walking back towards me I think, and oh my gosh, what did I do? Now? He stabs in front of me. And he says they send out our, how our sales. And then as I said, well I’m just getting ready to give him my eight-year-old dissertation, how sales were kind of slow. And I got about five words deep at the end of the staff’s. And he goes, son, just slow because you’re just sitting behind that desk. 


Important business lessons:

You’re just sitting behind that counter. He goes, you are, they’re going to watch things happen. And we’re going to make things happen, which isn’t going to be. Right. And I said I’m not going to make it happen. And he goes, you needed to get out from behind that counter. you need to ask people, would you like some of my popcorn, tell them how fresh it is. Tell him how great it tastes. He, he went on and on and I said, okay, okay. So I let him get out of the way. Right. I let them leave. I didn’t want to make an ass of myself. I’m eight years old and I’m shy. Right. So I’m a shy eight-year-old kid. And here I am. I mean, I’m sure, I’m sure I had sweat rings all the way down to my waistline in my boy. He said cause I am thinking, oh my gosh, no, I got to go out to complete strangers and Paul on their shirt sleeve and say, Hey, would you like some of my popcorn? 


I just popped it. It’s really good. And I was totally over at selling it because I was nervous and I couldn’t shut up. Right. It’s really, it’s fresh. It’s really good. I just, I just made it. And they’re like, probably like, all right, all right. How to taste? Well, the bottom line is my sales, like my sails doubled for the day. So the lesson in there was it was uncomfortable. And that in that’s the punchline in that whole scenario, Stephen is the, sometimes things are going to get uncomfortable in order for you to win. Right? In order for you to get outside of your comfort zone, what was my comfort zone at eight years old? I can tell you exactly what it was. It was sitting behind that desk, reading the comic book and waiting for somebody to walk up. 


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Important Business Lessons: The Path to Growth and Success


And then I would say, hi, can I help you? Well, I mean, how easy is that? We were just an order taker. Hi, can I help you? Yeah. I’d like a popcorn. And then you scoop it up and you take the 25 cents and you can put it in the, in the cup. Right? I mean, so it really forced you to get out of your comfort zone. It really forced me to level up and go to chase it. And obviously, I’d been chased in it ever since. 


Well, okay. And you’ve been chasing in every sense. It forced you to get outside your comfort zone. Is that why that lesson was so pivotal to you and stuck with you or were there some other layers to it in that lesson your dad taught you?


Important business lessons:

Of course, being uncomfortable. That’s where the growth is. And that’s why it’s just like failing. All right. We all fail. And I always tell people, look, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. Failing is actually can be a gift. And that’s all how you look at it. You just, to me, when you fail, you have to be a quick learner. Okay, don’t sit there and do the same thing every day and expect different results. Right? You got to really pay attention to what you’re doing. Pay attention to the environment around you. Things happen for a reason. I coach people every day and I’m amazed at the amount of people that there in a business or whose sales have started the flat line. 


Important business lessons:

Sometimes they are on a, or they’re on a little bit of a spiral, and then they’re still doing the same thing. And they’ve just, they’ve just chalked it up to your change in the competitive environment. But I tell them, Hey, look, I make it. I forced people to dig. Dig a little bit deeper. Has consumer perception changed? Who is your product no longer relevant? Is there a pivot that needs to be done here? I’m not talking about doing a complete makeover for you or your business. Hopefully, we’ve called it in time. But the bottom line is in business. Especially if it’s consumer-facing you have got to constantly be looking at what you’re doing and constantly be searching out the validation from your customer base to make sure that you are doing everything you can to over deliver on their expectations. It’s critical. 


Important business lessons:

Yeah. It’s interesting when you’re saying that, and you mentioned all these types of scenarios or questions that you were asking the business owner, or my guess is when you’re asking that is a good mentor, would those be uncomfortable questions? And then the person on the other end starts to get uncomfortable. But to your point, that’s where the growth is. If they can answer those questions they can force, excuse me, face the discomfort. Then that’s where the growth is. 


Right? You gotta get people into the shadows. You gotta get ’em into the weeds, right? You got to get them, you gotta get ’em in. I mean, for me, when I’m, when I’m mentoring or consulting where the company I’m, I’m there to help them. So I’m not there to necessarily boost them up. I can tell them what they’re doing really, really well, but I can also show them areas where they’re leaving money on the table or whether they’re under-delivering. And it’s sometimes it’s just a small tweak on how they work things to the customer, to have to bring more perceived value to the customer and that whole dining experience or service experience. So, I mean the bottom line, people want to be, people want to be pushed that the people like at your audience, as an example, every year, I’m sure every one of them, I want to be the best version of there, they can be. 


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Important Business Lessons: The Path to Growth in Business


Important business lessons:

In order to do that, you have to keep checking in with yourself and make sure that the number one, that year is on point, that you leveling up every day in the areas that are matter, focusing on the material items and not getting caught up in the minutiae, the granular details that are not really moving, moving the ball, right? And then most importantly, make sure that the people that are around you, share the same vision that you have. They can see because getting mine, you can’t follow that you can see. So you got to take the time to make sure, to articulate to your team exactly the vision of the company, what your expectations are, and how you’re going to over-deliver on the promise to your customers. When you get your core people dancing to the same music and everybody pulling deep on the oars in the same direction, you can make that happen. 


It’s like a great symphony. I mean, that’s when the magic happens right there, you’re buying your job will get easier. Your customers will be happier and your revenues will rise. 


Well, let’s take this, I love where you’re going with this. Let’s take this as sort of a law of nature. And I’ll use a sort of fitness training or his strength training, or a metaphor or example, I should say when somebody is strength training, there, there’s a principle trying to fail. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger is the one who famously said, ah, in a set of, ah 10 repetitions, which, which repetition gives you the most growth? And of course, some people will say, oh, it’s eight or nine or 10. He was like, no, it’s 11. And it’s the training to failure actually tearing the muscle and really pushing yourself to where you can’t do it anymore. 


Like that, it’s a widely accepted principle in strength, training, training to failure. But yet when we think about business, we want to avoid failure as much as possible when, to your point, that’s where the growth is. It’s uncomfortable, as hard as it’s the toughest repetition in the set to do. And it’s the best one to do, right?


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Important Business Lessons: Discipline, Accountability, and Perspective


No question. You know what, Stephen, in my book and Possible Hill, I talk about the three things, discipline, accountability, and perspective, discipline at accountability. They are, I mean, all three of those are my favorite words, but I’d say when, if you don’t have discipline, you own hold yourself accountable. So without discipline, don’t hold yourself accountable. On the other side of it as if you hold yourself accountable too. I always say anyone can be an all-star if you set the bar or your ankles, so that you in a standard for yourself, I mean, leave it. I would say you leave it on the field, do your best. And I don’t care if it’s sports school, you’re business, people lean in and give everything in your best shot. 


Every single thing that you set out to do in your life, put your best foot forward and put your best effort forward. And so when you do that, then good things are going to happen perspective as another important. You alluded to it earlier in my intro too, to some people, I talk to people in this, and Peter I feel like I’m stuck. I feel like I’m just not getting it and just don’t have the momentum. I just can’t. I feel like I just can’t get this thing off the ground. And I let them vent a little bit. I turned out because of a little bit of cleansing for them, but then I rewound the tape a little bit. I said, okay, let’s talk about what we were a couple of years ago. And the bottom line is once we go through this little exercise where they might say, look, you’re not stuck in the least what you land, his perspective. 


You don’t know how long this road can take and they are. and here’s the slippery slope people. They are looking at their Instagram and example. Now the reality of it just Instagram, his people’s highlight real. And most people out there I’d say nine out of 10 people, Stephen, honestly, nine out of 10. If you look at their Instagram, half of it as fluffy in fake there, standing in front of Jet’s, they don’t own cars, they don’t own banning a hundred dollar bills gives you the impression that this was just so easy that this just came so easy. And by the way, subscribe to my $20-a-month course, it was just smoke and mirrors. 


They were just constantly selling each of them, you know what I mean? That the people that are giving up, giving stuff away on the internet, that people that are really out there that have been through the trenches that have been through the fire were not selling anything. You know, what I’m giving. I feel so indebted to teach for the unbelievable blessing that I’ve had, the blessed life that I’ve had. I feel like that’s my calling and my calling has to go back and give back to people. And there’s nothing that brings me more joy than to help people find their way to the promised land of financial freedom or independence that we all see as entrepreneurs write. 


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Important Business Lessons: Building a Diverse and Coachable Team


I mean, that’s the fruit of being an entrepreneur number of wine, or you get up, you have to get up every day, keep in mind. You don’t have two, you get two. I mean, how or what a blessing that is, you get to get up every day and fight the good fight for yourself. I mean, I would never die on the sorta someone else die in your own store and right. I mean, just to get in there, fight in your own fight and you know, there are right and wrong ways to do it. And there’s right. There’s the right pass the tape or the punchline here. Look, quit looking in the rearview mirror at everybody else and making those comparisons because you’re comparing yourself to a fictional character. That’s just not being forthright, honest. 


Oh, this is so great momentum. And in that S actually sparked me to remember something that you had shared with me during our last conversation. When, when you had sort of dissected a little bit about the strategy of how you build the team at the snap and you know, to this person from over there in, in now that person is running the business, or this person was in that previous role, and then they grew into this other role. And so if I understood you correctly, it was, it was all about helping people be more and step into like all of their God-given gifts and talents and so forth. So, let’s talk a little bit about that because I think the strategy that you use to build your team at Snap is something that we should all learn from. 


Yeah. You know, in with people. And I had such a diverse team. I mean, to keep in mind when I started the company, I mean, one of my guys, and these are the people that ended up being some of my best employees, one of them was at, was a bartender. And then in his twenties, one worked at a bakery, one, one woman where she was just an admin at a, at a small little community Christian college, okay. One guy ran a of a marina, a doc cyst of on just the Marine. I write here on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, but here’s the one thing that all four of them had in common. They were coachable and they were in, right? And they would lean in, I mean, these, these people would go to battle for you. 


And I think when you’re hiring people, you’ve got to if you want to clip someone whose wings give them the way out, the illusion that word, that we’re in, that the position that you hire him in his going to be the position where they’re going to, you stay with every one of my people. I said, Hey, look, we’re a growth company. This is the role I need you to play today. But if you can show me you can show me that you can manage people, that you can manage people and maintain control and mentor if you can do those things. And then I can use you across a number of different areas within the company, especially as I am acquiring other brands in growing, but, and growing this, this global brand with six years, thousands of locations, 28 countries. 


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Important Business Lessons: The Commitment Needed for Business Success


I mean, it’s just an unbelievable business that we were able to grow. And if people always say, Hey, Peter or you grew up in one of the largest wellness brands in a way, Hey, look, let’s be honest with you. One person doesn’t do anything. I had to leave with the blessing of working with some amazing people who shared the same vision I had. They were coachable. They had the same passion I had, and everyone was willing to pull deep on the doors. Some people say what does it take? Well, I’ll tell you what it takes. You’ve got to give you everything. It’s not five days a week from nine to five. It’s you have to give it sometimes if it’s seven days a week, it is what it is as an owner of a company, as I’m sure many of your followers and listeners are, they look like you never get away from it. 


It’sthe latter. The last thing you think about when you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning, right? And that’s okay, but the slippery slope is there. You’ve got to create, it’s some redundancy. You’ve got to be able to hand off some of these responsibilities to people. So you can really grow your business because it can be a one-man wrecking crew, believe me, over a period of time, it’s going to stunt your growth. It’s not going to help it. So for my people, I was able to really inspire them and help them grow within my company. So they had a clear path to their own dreams. Well, it’s interesting. I left the company two and a half years ago. I stepped down to just do other things. and many of those people left within 12 months after I left one of them, who is the CEO of another fitness brand. 


And she was just an admin at this little community college, right? I mean, another guy went in. He was a seat of another brand. And they’re just, these guys have just gone onto grow and fluorescent, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. And I’m so happy that I had a chance to work with them and follow you. I’m on their journey. 


Oh, amen. To that. Amazing. I want to tease out of a lesson that you just said, and I want to tease out and shine a brighter light on it and get you, get your deeper explanation around this. You used the words pulling deep on the oars. And I think, I know exactly what you mean by that, but, but, but I don’t want to assume. And I think there’s probably a good lesson in here for Onward Nation. So when you say pulling deep on the oars, what do you mean by that? 


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Important Business Lessons: Recognizing and Rewarding Those Who Pull Deep on the Oars


Important business lessons? Well, it does there are all different kinds of people and people, and people have different visions, of work ethic. Okay. And that’s just, that we’re all wired a little bit different. And for me, there are some people just by nature I had hundreds of employees that were working for me at my corporate office, and some of them, they would show up to work on time, and they would give me a full day’s work. Would they do anything extra? Okay. What would they do if they saw that they could have helped the person next to them? Were they doing anything beyond the call of duty? And then the, and the short answer to that is, you know what, probably not. 


Okay. And that’s okay. That just makes them an average employee and you can, and they’re just motivated by different things. On the other, on the flip side of, when you find someone who has a great workflow, they lean in and ask questions to enhance a process. And when they see the person who is on the right or their left or doing something that they feel can show them a better path, they share that insight with them. Those are people that you want to be number one, acknowledge it. And that’s another thing too, as you’re leading people, never leave those secrets. Okay. For me, every time that once a quarter we would have company-wide meetings and then we would have our annual Christmas party. 


And I’ll tell you what, that was my time to really shine a light on some of these people that were pulling deep on the oars. And that went from everyone to our receptionist at the front desk. I mean, at one time, or do you remember her Johnny out, Peter? How at I’m just the receptionist. I stopped to write in our tracks. I said, Hey, I want to set that straight right now, you are in the face of our brand. You’re the first person that people see when they walk into our global headquarters, that smile that you have in the face that you make them feel so welcome. You’re so warm and inviting that is the reflection of our brand. So, no, you are far more than just a receptionist. So I could see her face light up, right. And every one of my employees, they benefited and in a profit sharing plan. 


So the bottom line, if you want people to walk on fire for you got to love him. You got to respect him and you have to give them opportunity. 


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Important Business Lessons: Why Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, It Whispers


Love that. Okay. So interesting. I know you didn’t plan it this way. Interesting segue using the word opportunity because you taught me a great lesson recently, when you said opportunity, doesn’t knock Stephen in whispers like, oh, that’s profound. And then we went on to chat about that, but I would love for you to share with Onward, why you believe that to be true. 


Important business lessons? Well, I’m living proof of it. I mean, the first opportunity that I had, I was 22 years old. I had quit college and I had an opportunity to turn around a failing health club. And this was a health club. It was in my hometown. This club was losing $200,000 a year. So I got to call one day from the owner’s. That was five owner’s. And they said, Peter, we would like to hire you as the manager of this club. And I tell you what, if you can turn this clubs around, we’ll let you by us out with the profits at that you generate. Now. They paid me $16,000 a year, and at the time I was living in Orlando, Florida. 


So some people would say, Peter Y in the devil, would you leave Orlando to go back to cold Minnesota for six, $16,000 a year salary in a business that’s losing 200,000 a year. And when I got there, I said, okay, guys, what’s my marketing budget. I’m just gonna try and think about what they have to work with. And these guys. So, they beat her, or maybe you didn’t hear us. We don’t have any marketing budget, right? They win. This club loses 200 grand a year. So I was put into a very difficult situation, but here’s the mindset that I had. I didn’t see a business that was losing 200,000 a year. What I saw was an opportunity for me to somehow grind, grit, whatever, whatever you want to put on it, that God willing with a lot of hard work, I would have the opportunity to own my own business one day. 


And that’s what lit my fire. And that’s what got me, rather than rolling up in a ball in a fetal position to under my desk figure. And there’s no way I’m going to turn this thing around. I got creative, I got creative and my mindset, how am I going to turn around a failing business? How, how am I going to get people in this small community inspired to want to come in and use this facility? I mean, that’s the story in itself. I did that through, through bartering. I didn’t have money, but I had memberships. I remember I wouldn’t do carpet stores. And he said, look, I need carpet, but I don’t have any money. And they would look at it and they go to all, this is an interesting call, right? 


I need a carpet, but I don’t have any money, but I have memberships. So I would like to trade you, memberships for your staff and Al and all of their kids to come in, use my clubs for carpet. And I want to every carpet store and believe it or not some said no, but the good news, the blessing was, many of them said, yes. Okay. And I started carpeting and I’ll tell you what. I was very methodical, how I started. I put the carpet, like in the entry I started. So the first, when you walk in the door, the first thing you saw with something was different. Right. I bartered with carpet, with paint was electrical. You name it. I traded it. 


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Important Business Lessons: Turning Challenges into Triumphs


Okay. And then every time one of these family members, every time one of these people came in on the free membership, I would ask them if they had a friend that they wanted to bring in. So I was working referrals, right? I mean, I didn’t leave any, any leave on germ. Right. I w I was, I was just on top of it. Well, the long story short, over eight years, I took a business that was losing $200,000 a year to making about $250,000 a year. It took me eight years to own that club free and clear. I own that club free and clear. And then I went on for the next 12 years to build six more clubs. And then then I sold out of them and they ended up starting to snap fitness, pull out of the story. 


Important business lessons:

Right. And that’s what’s so amazing is that this 20-year body of work, right? That certainly didn’t happen overnight. When, when you were talking about referrals and you were talking about the barters. So I want to see if maybe a litmus test here. It takes a lot of courage to do that, right? Because you’re going to get some knows, and maybe even lot of them, but it takes some real guts in some chutzpah to be able to do that right now, to try and can leverage memberships in to the things that you needed. So here’s my question. Was that because of your dad and the popcorn lesson?


Well, it could of been number one and it’s certainly you. And I always say in that, say you have to have grit. You know, when things get tough, I loved people with grit because they are not quitters. Okay. When things get tough, they figured out that they figure out solutions rather than how this is not going to work. So I always appreciate someone with grit from me, failing was not an option. And even the S the second or third day in my own in to getting into the business, I said, I invited that the staff to come in and we’re going to clean the staff, that our clean the club. and this is interesting; so then, on my first day on the job, I walked around with a legal path. I mean, you can picture Stephen, I’ve got a legal pad, I’ve got a pen and I’m walking around the club. 


And one of the first things that was very apparent, and there was a lot of equipment that wasn’t working, but the club was filthy. So I called an all-staff meeting and I said, tomorrow morning, I want everyone to show up here at eight o’clock, we’re going to do a deep cleaning of the club. All right. Which is a good starting point. So I’m there the next morning. And the staff is there. There’s about 50 people. Keep in mind of the 50 people. Most of them were older than me. I’m 22 years old rocking this mullet. I’m thinking, oh my God. And I only knew, I probably knew 15 of the employees. Okay. The rest of them, I’m a complete stranger. Anyway, I’m getting ready to start dividing people up into groups so we can divide and conquer. 


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Important Business Lessons: From Adversity to Accountability


And this woman steps forward. And she says, Peter, before we get started, I’d have something unlike to say, and I said, by all means, what’s on your mind. And she goes to, we don’t play. Okay. We don’t play out. So, that means that’s not in their job description. Okay. So that was a character building moment for me. Now at 22 years old, I could of said, you know what? You are exactly right? My apologies, like a year, that’s not comfortable cleaning, go ahead. You can leave. Right. I could of done that. But instead I took another path. I looked her in the eye and I said, and you also don’t have a job here anymore. And I pointed to the door. 


Wow. And I tell you what, you couldn’t. You could’ve heard a pin drop. Now. She ended up staying. And I divided people up into groups. and I took the bathrooms. So here’s the punchline. I said, look, you also don’t have a job here anymore. and I spoke about how do we want to show up every day? And I spent the next of 20 minutes with, everyone’s just saying, look, maybe you are not aware, but this business, you do loses $200,000 a year. It loses $200,000 a year and the place is filthy. So why you would any member want to come? Why would anyone want to come in and pay their hard-earned money in displays? 


We got to give this club a complete we’re going to clean it and where you got to keep it clean. And then we’re going to slowly clear way out of here by fixing the equipment, getting at working. And if we’re managed to make a little, well money, we gotta invest it back under the club’s. And I shared with them the vision of how we were going to clear our way out of this, and actually make it a club that we can be proud of. And that talks about how we’re going to greet people. When they come in, I said, our goal is we want to call people by name. When people come in, Hey, Joe, good to see. I have a great workout when they leave. Thanks for coming in. Hope to see you tomorrow. If that doesn’t flow off your time, if that’s not what the, in your skillset or something that you’re not comfortable doing, then you can’t be working on the front end. 


Yes. So I lead by example and I also, you know what? By taking the bathrooms, I learned that from my father, when my father, when you were to go into his grocery store, you would to see him working at the checkout stand, or you would see him bagging groceries back then you use to carry out, use to have to carry out boys. They carry your groceries out. So it, my dad, he was a carry out the way he would shell all the sidewalk and he would work the Castro’s or he’d be stocking the shelves. And he’d be in his office doing the books. He put himself above the line, nothing. And that’s why everyone that worked for him, they loved him and they would walk on fire for them. So to me, if you want to get people to really lean in and really support your vision in what you’re trying to do, you have, they’ve got to know they’ve got to trust you. 


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Important Business Lessons: Setting Expectations and Embracing Accountability


And they’ve got to feel like you’ve got the bag. And that’s something that I do that that’s point of how I want to show up every day. 


And maybe it didn’t happen immediately, or maybe it did. But when, when those 50 employees at the end, your first club, when they saw that you, that you had decided to choose the bathrooms and to lead by example, what did you do for morale or attitude or outlook? You know what 


I did it purposely obviously, right? I mean, it was a well thought out plan on my part at, at, at the moment. But taking the bathroom sends a great message across everyone saying, Hey, look, this guy, he’s 22. So most of the people were older than I was, but he’s not playing. Okay. He’s not coming in who he was not coming in here. And to try and make friends, he was serious about what he’s doing. And he’s willing to get in on and do the heavy lifting. He’s really, he’s willing to get in there and do the dirty work. So he’s not going to run this business like a dictator. Yeah. This guy is going to lead by example. So that’s what everyone saw. And they continued to see that over time. And you know, what or where the period, I’d probably the next six months. 


Probably a third of those people no longer worked for me. Why? Because I expected more of them. Right. And I wasn’t over the top of what I expected them to show up every day. I expected them to be pleasant, to leave their, leave their drama at the door and come in and be having a serving mentality, which is so key. If you’re going to be in the people in businesses and you are going to be in the service business, you got to be willing to serve you. Can’t just, you gotta be able to walk to talk. and if you weren’t willing to do that, and you weren’t willing to be mentored and to grow than then I, at some point of time, you got to cut bait. 


Well, but that, so let’s go back to Impossible Hill for a second, right? When you expected more from them, that’s the accountability piece, right? 


Absolutely. And accountability, accountability to yourself in every day. I mean, at first and foremost, if you want to win, you got to believe in yourself. You have gotta believe at that person staring back. You knew. And then in the mirror every morning, you got to believe, because believe me, the road to success, whatever success looks like for you, it’s a long, hard road. And you got to believe in yourself when no one else will, because there’s going to be some very tough character building moments that are going to come along in that journey. So that’s first and foremost. So you you got to believe in yourself and you got to be willing to put in the work. You got to be willing to accept that this is his journey is going to be riddled with sacrifice and you know, commitments. 


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Important Business Lessons: Conquering Impossible Hills


And it’s gonna be hard. And that’s where people that, or have a significant other, it’s so important that you get your significant other or in your kid’s in the game and the game with you as you’re all part of the big journey. Right. And that’s what the beautiful things happen. 


Hi, how amazing. I know our time is quickly coming to an end, but one, one big question left for you. Why do you call yourself a hill taker? 


For me? I think I wrote a book, Impossible Hill, and I think all of us in our lives, we have these moments where you have to take the hill, right? And the right thing to do is take the hill. So for me, Impossible Hill was, was taking the hill. when maybe somebody else hasn’t want it to you. It means sticking up for the underdog. It means believing in yourself in an over overcoming unbelievable odds, which is the narrative for my entire life. And hopefully when people read my blog in the, and I’ve had hundreds of people respond, just saying, you, man, you know what? 


You lit a fire with them. And I love that. I love when I hear what people say, look, you know what? I I’ve changed my mindset. I changed the way. And then I’m thinking, I believe in myself that I believe that I’m deserving of success. Just like the guy next to me they’re, they’re willing to put in the works. So Impossible Hill, his about lighting, lighting that fire within and letting you choose to chase the dreams that you, that you’ve always wanted. Find your way to financial freedom and flexibility within your schedule and in love with you. 


Amazing conversation, Peter, thank you for your generosity and all the lessons. So I know we covered a lot before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, or any final words of advice, any final recommendations that you like to share, maybe we miss something. And then please do tell Onward Nation the best way to connect with you. 


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Important Business Lessons: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with Peter


You know, that the one piece of advice that I did that I tell everyone, look, it’s life is uncertain, it’s unpredictable. And that’s what life is like. Just accept that that’s the life and that’s okay. They right. It’s not going to have these moments where you feel like you’d been blindsided. you have in your business life, in, in your personal life. So when you know that those things are going to happen, that those moments are going to happen. and you like to feel like you’re blindsided. You have to take a step back and kind of gather your composure and say, look, this is something that everyone goes through. So it’s just part of, of life itself. It’s not the don’t be defeated by it. Just sometimes you just gotta get up, dust yourself off, just fit in your palms and sh and in charge forward. 


Right? I mean, so that, and then understanding that you’re having the perspective that sometimes things take longer than you had anticipated. You’re going to make mistakes. That’s where the growth takes place. Make no mistake about it. If I lined up 500 people that were, they were unbelievably successful and he said, look, everyone of them would tell you that all of their growth came through moments of strife through difficult, challenging times. I always say anyone can run a company with the wind at your back. It’s how do you control? How do you drive the company? How do you pivot the company with the wind at your face? And you have to pivot and make big choices that are going to be material choices, big moves that are going to infect your entire company in the people you work around. 


Those are the character building moments by what, if you, if you have to fire at to be an entrepreneur, you love those one in which you cherish. I’m just as much as the other moments. 


Amazing Peter, what is the best way to connect with you?


Through Instagram. And really it’s clear, I’m clearly not a creative market or it’s Peter_Taunton, which is T-A-U-N-T-O-N. You know what I watch when you get to response in most of the cases, it’s me responding. I look at it because I feel like I owe that to people that want to respond people that want, or that are going to reach out to me. So feel free to communicate with me through Instagram. And then obviously I’ve got the heel takers academy that they had just launched last week, which gives you a chance to have some, some moments with me. You can either do it in a group setting where we talked about different topics, or you can get one-on-one consulting as well, but my hands and my social media, Instagram is the best way to connect with me. 


Okay. Onward Nation, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and relisten to Peter’s words of wisdom and all the lessons that he shared with you, the key is you have to take it and apply it. Just like all of the examples, the, he just shared with you. He gave you a blueprint, a roadmap, and it was based on, Hey, Onward Nation. I learned this lesson and then I applied it and he did that for years and years and years. And so that’s now the key to take the lessons that you learned from Peter, and to apply them with the same discipline he talks about from his book. So we do that if you do, you’ll accelerate your results. 


And Peter, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. And I’m grateful that you said, yes, thank you for coming onto our show and helping us move onward to that next level, Peter. 


Important business lessons:

Can I make one more point, Stephen? Of course. Yeah. So we were just one more point. It’s really winning as a mindset and that when you look at people that can, that seem to continually win, there’s some common characters that type that they all share, and that’s the mindset that they absolutely believe in themselves. So that’s why it’s so important to have the confidence to believe in yourself. That’s what winners do. And that’s the common thread. So you all your listeners, thank you so much for your time today in Stephen. Thank you for having me and I come back on your show or anytime. Thanks very much. 


This episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more foods. If you have your ambition, continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 

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