Hi. My name is Felix.
Before our meeting where I ask, "What's your story?", I felt it would be fair to first tell you mine.
What are my motivations? Why open another gym when there are so many others out there already? What makes us so special that we have the right to say that we can uniquely contribute to society?
Here are the stories that created these ideas.
The best articulation I have found for my thoughts on business and leadership:
“Starting a business starts from the right mindset. Your why and conviction has to be strong and clear. If someone wants to start a business because they say “at least I have something on my own”, or “I’m tired of working for people” or “I don’t like working at my place”, I will go like F**K you!
The amount of responsibility you hold as an owner is large. So large that it involves other people’s lives – your staff and their children, their family, their partners.
Take this perspective into account when you look at your financial statement and worry that you have to lay them off when you go into the office. It’s so mentally torturing. Sometimes I will just feel ashamed to even go to work, but I know the 2 routes that exist are either downwards or just keep on trying to go upwards.
We get paid last when it counts. There’s no security, no fixed schedule of 5 days work week, no benefits of public holidays and to sum everything else in a much worse state, we are not even building something that is ours, because we will never able to bring it with us in the grave.”
- Teoh Wee Kiat, myBurgerLab (full article here)
I used to have empty ambitions.
Driven by the prospect of fame and wealth, I acted out of selfish wants and needs.
In an attempt to emulate the great figures of history, I studied their past. I read books, watched videos, and attended leadership talks.
"What is success?" "How do I become successful?" I asked since I was young and I did all I could to learn from every example I came across.
I discovered that although there are many different 'methods' of achieving objectives, every great leader shares these three things in common.
They don't just know What they want; they all know Why they want it. And their Why is strong.
Stronger still are those who work for causes greater than themselves.
For their family.
For their country.
For the people.
For an Ideal.
People don't get rich and famous by thinking about how to benefit themselves only. They start by thinking about benefiting others. It is through consideration of others that game-changing ideas and innovations are born. It is through altruist emotions that we find strength to endure the pain of failure and defeat time and time again - until we finally succeed. When we pursue a cause higher than ourselves, we will find the strength to rise above.
And once I understood this, everything changed.
Suddenly, my thoughts of ‘setting out’ for myself seemed petty.
I saw employment and business in a new light.
And this, is my story.
I started working when I was 18 years old, straight out of SPM.
Before fitness, I was an insurance adjuster. My job - to verify claims. Yeah, I was that douchebag whose job was to make sure your insurance couldn’t be claimed.
I finally got enough income to spend on a gym. Herein laid my introduction to fitness.
I did all the things a regular amateur would. Treadmills. Machines. Group classes. More machines. Hard diets.
A few months passed with little to no improvements. I was still fat! I started to buy books and self-experimented with the theories I studied. By end of the year, I'd accumulated some decent knowledge about body transformation, and started on a serious transformation program.
I went from 87kg at 27% bodyfat to 73kg at 13.5% bodyfat within a mere four months. Apart from adding 8 kg of lean mass to my frame, my waist size also dropped from 38” to 32”.
Experiencing this amazing transformation caused me to wonder why my gym was full of people who trained day after day, year after year, and yet saw little to no results. Why didn’t people see results despite having such good looking trainers who obviously knew what they were talking about? Why couldn’t people 'wake up', do some proper research and change their ways?
Instead they kept complaining about how difficult it was to lose fat. Simply overhearing random conversations in the gym made it apparent that what was simple to me seemed like rocket science to them.
But being young and naïve, there were a great many things I hadn’t considered while trying to understand this phenomenon. I figured that:
Some trainers were simply too lazy - they rarely push their clients hard enough, nor paid enough attention to technique.
Marketing blew what gyms and programs could do well out of proportion. This makes people complacent, and even misleads some people in their quest for results.
I would soon realize that this problem wasn’t confined to my local gym alone, but everywhere else.
I started being very outspoken about how I felt about the lack of results among gym-goers.
Prompted by a friend, I enrolled in a 3-month personal training course on a part-time basis and made a drastic career change. Determined to right this wrong, I signed up to be a personal trainer at a big local gym.
But, in my first ever experience working for a gym, several things happened:
- My package was misrepresented to me. I was told that if I worked hard and sold X amount in sales, I would be getting X amount of pay. I followed through, but only got less than half the promised amount. It was only then that it was explained to me that no matter how hard I worked, I would still be given entry-level pay because I was an entry-level trainer.
- I was forced to conduct personal training sessions for free after another blunder caused by my manager. He had neglected to inform clients about their package expiry dates. When they threatened to complain to HQ about this, he threatened to terminate me unless I trained all five clients three times a week for the rest of the month. Free of charge.
I lasted exactly 3 months.
In my 12-14 hour work days, I wasn’t able to do much aside from closing sales, because my salary back then was 100% sales dependent and my commission was peanuts.
On top of being underpaid and overworked, dealing with the mistakes of my superior was the last straw for me.
After a major fight with a him, I quit and came to KL.
The next organization that I worked for was thankfully much better. There I was treated more fairly, and that allowed me to regain my bearing.
The problem wasn't any different however. Simply less severe.
I started to see why it appeared to some that trainers were ‘lazy’. They were overworked and exhausted. They were unmotivated from low pay, and unskilled from lack of practice. Unable to afford continuing education, the mass majority of the trainers stayed ignorant. The overabundance of conflicting information from the Internet made it even worse.
Yet the status quo continued.
I realized that rewards & remunerations were based on the assumption that you were already a good trainer and salesperson that could secure business deals easily.
Today’s market is structured so that a trainer would only be able to earn a decent income by hitting a certain sales target.
But this status quo does not take into account that:
Not everybody likes to do sales
Those that excel in business don’t have much reason to stay
From a new trainer’s perspective, a trainer’s job is to train clients, not do sales
This disparity of what mainstream globo gym organizations say and do leads to a high turnover rate. Trainers simply won’t stay.
If you're really good, you'll leave the gym. If you're bad, you leave the industry. If you're average, you simply survive. This is the case with 99% of the fitness industry and in my eyes that's messed up.
Before Honey Badgers I had a job I liked – one that lasted about 4 years. A friend of mine offered me a position at her new training studio where trainers weren’t required to do sales.
I agreed immediately.
I didn’t earn much there, but I was happy. It was an opportunity for me to focus on my coaching.
I stayed in that company for 4 years - longer than any other company I have worked for. I was loyal, but what led to my departure has got to do with the final realizations that drove me to set up Honey Badgers Coaching Facility.
The following three reasons are not exclusive to any one place. They are prevalent everywhere.
In a fitness environment, every trainer has different philosophies and conflicting theories when it comes to training.
It is a classic case of “too many cooks ruins the soup”. Clients would go to one trainer and receive one recommendation, and then have another trainer give a completely different recommendation. Every trainer thinks that they’re right and others, wrong. It can get pretty confusing for the client.
During my first job as a trainer, I came across a member who was struggling with the lat pulldown machine. I explained the machine to him and offered some advice on fitness, to which he readily accepted. What I didn't know was that he already had a trainer. During his next session, his trainer gave him some recommendations that conflicted with mine. The client questioned him about it. Feeling challenged, he came at me and screamed, “If i catch you giving your crap advice to my client one more time I will beat you to the ground!”
Needless to say, this hurt me quite a lot.
I realized that this problem exists because there is no one head coach or program director who is knowledgeable and respected enough to reconcile these differences.
Why can't we just put aside our egos to talk about methods objectively? After all, isn’t it for the client that we do this for?
There is often a lack of transparency and a clear-cut ‘path’ to become more than just another drone.
After polishing your skills, you’d want more challenges, responsibilities and the increased pay that comes with it. That isn’t always possible however. Complete strangers would also come into the company and be positioned higher than an existing team member who is more capable.
It is extremely disappointing how managements are often unwilling to disclose the specifics in regard to advancements within the company.
It is commonly accepted that working for organizations means that their policies are to be followed unquestioningly.
Upper managements are often more preoccupied in rejecting rather than considering new methods seriously. This is because the existing protocols are so set in stone that any change in these deeply rooted philosophies would require the approval of the head of the organisation. And followers tend not to question their leader.
In other words, resistance to change is the fault of the leader's attitude.
For growth to happen however, new ideas should be welcomed and considered.
I eventually left the last organization I was a part of, and was determined that if I couldn’t find any place that fit my idea of ‘justice’, I would create one myself.
Organizations are run the way they are simply because they don’t know any other way of doing it. I think there might be a better way.
We are not makers of history, we are made by history.
It is through experience that we learn to make better choices for our future.
There is no better teacher.
Therefore, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Good job on finishing the first part.