What We Learned in Business Together with Doug Larson

What We Learned in Business Together with Doug Larson

Host of Barbell Shrugged podcast, Doug Larson, joins me to discuss current fitness trends in relation to COVID-19.

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What We Learned in Business Together

Doug Larson | Source: Instagram

Mike: All right. We got Doug Larson here today. My previous business partner, we built a CrossFit gym together Faction Strength and Conditioning and had Barbell Shrugged together there for a long fucking run. And I had a lot of good times and so it's been, it's been a while.

Doug: I have people ask me the same thing. I answer that question today. I say me and Mike still talk not as frequently as I used to go, obviously because we don't have to do or we don't have projects we're working on together, but I'm not sure for sure. We still talk here and there, but it's more like once a month or once every two months, that type of thing, just catch up calls and then, you know, prior to a Covid 19 kind of taken over the world. We run into each other at random events.

I was thinking about Arnold until the last moment then I thought that wasn't going to and then it got canceled anyway, which is nice. That makes me feel like I'm not missing out. But we ran into each other at Spartan world championships last year and were in the same world. I'm totally glad we were still friends and everything.

Mike: Not all business partnerships end that well.

Doug: I mean I've certainly had partnerships that didn't end as well as is our ending ended. You know, we were in our business partners, so you know, starting technically starting in 2009 but really you started the gym in 2007 we were still roommates and so I was kind of involved from day one and then from 2007 all the way til til we technically ended are our business partnership together. That was til the very end in 2018 which is what the paperwork says. So that I guess that's 11 years run. I like to like stay friends with somebody that I considered my best friend and business partner for over a decade.

Mike: I have listened to shows, or listen to different entrepreneurs, people who have been in business for 20 plus years and I've heard this from a few people that have been in business longer than 10 years. And you and I both hit this point around the same time, which is, until you have been in business for a decade, there's just certain things you don't know. I remember hearing that and then don't worry, I don't know what they're talking about. We're crushing it, you know. There are moments when we were moments when we were crushing in business and there were moments when we were starving to death. Is there anything that you have noticed that after being a business for over a decade has, it's like, Oh, I could not have known this at year five or three or whatever.

Doug: Maybe more of like more of an emphasis. Like when you and I started doing the barbell business, We had that podcast there for a couple of years. We did a shy 200 episodes and that the very first episode we ever did, as you likely remember, it was all about just picking the right partner, like picking the right team. Your partner is the first person on your team and kind of the most important people on your team are your partners and then you have the rest of your team as well.

And I always knew that that was an important thing. I probably never would've started a gym, you know, during graduate school all on my own. It just wouldn't have happened. But you know, having you and Rob around to do that. And then I came in and kind of just helped run the place, realizing that I have s some motivation to run businesses but my motives to start businesses wasn't a natural thing. So it was good that I have someone like yourself who's a little more entrepreneurial to kind of balance me out.

Having a Complimentary Partner

Handshake
Photographer: Chris Liverani | Source: Unsplash

Doug: Having that complimentary partner I think is really, really powerful. And I've continued over time to recognize that even though I thought it was important before, I now even think it's more important who you partner with not just from a complimentary technical level, but you have to be aligned on our values and goals and everything else. That's just something that you just can't get away from. You just have to have the right people on the team. And, you know, the longer you're in business, the more important the relationships become.

In my opinion, you can make big money doing one thing or the next. But if you lose all real friendships along the way, even if you have money, it's not nearly as fun. It doesn't, it's not nearly as fulfilling. So having a good part in this thing is really a really valuable. That was one thing that you said to me or we said to each other prior to, formerly on paper, exiting as a business partner was that I was like, you want to move on to some new things I was still and have always been really interested in fitness specifically.

And I was like I recognize that you want to move on to other interesting topics in your life and, and you want to take on a new path, but I want to have that complimentary partner so that that's, we kind of talked and recruited, Anders into the business in the Barbell Shrugged. That way we could have that complimentary partner. And I actually really appreciate it. I don't have a very directly told you this, but I really appreciate you hanging around for as long as you did just so I can have that partner and I wasn't just left, you know, high and dry all by myself. I appreciate that.

Mike: This is such a good topic because it's so confusing and it's so difficult for business partnerships. There's a lot of things that like I look from the outside into somebody else's business, I'm like, Oooh, that's a business partnership should probably end or Oh wow, you guys, like your working with somebody right now who has three business partners. I'm like, I find out there's three business partners that when they start working with us and I go, Oh no.

And then I find out all the business partners who they are and how they all work together, I go, Oh wow. It was actually a very magical. I think most people do it poorly whereas most business is done poorly. So you know, I think just like anything in the world, 90% of businesses and 90% of the partnerships, all that are done poorly and then the 10% just crush it and do really, really well. That was one of the things that I didn't feel like I did it on purpose necessarily.

I appreciate how long you started with me because like one of the things, one of the things that makes us complimentary is also some of the things that cause stress in my perspective that I would love to know if you agree or disagree, but I'm very aggressive and I didn't think I was out aggressive.

We were complimentary because I am more of a starter, I'm aggressive like, and there's to that. For every way of being there is, there's what, what you love about that peace, which is if your a person who has these traits, then likely you're just going to see all the good parts. And then, but then there's all the parts of the shadow that comes with that. The Oh that's how it behavior means that like I would start. I have a tendency to start projects and not finished them.

Start to many a one time. and then for yourself it was good to have you as a partner to pull the reins back a bit, as much as you could, but at the same time that would cause him from our perspective, he's like causing you stress or to try to pull me back and it was cause me stress cause whatever. And then intellectually going, okay, this is good, this is good for me. It's a good for the business but it's driving me fucking crazy. So it was a really beautiful relationship and that it, there's just so much learning to happen.On like teaching me how to like that been with you have taught me how to slow down.

Doug: I recognize that at that I had like there were times where after we'd been in business for eight years into that or whatever, where where we would, I feel like sometimes we would flip flop. I'm like, Oh, I'm like there's this new cool thing we need to go do it. And you're like, Whoa, fucking pump the brakes dude. And I'm like, Oh. And then we were like, how can we get here? Like how come you're like being aggressive and proactive and your in Bledsoe is telling me to slow down to be more cautious and vice versa. Sometimes we would pass each other on the spectrum. But you definitely pulled me away from my side a little bit and we met in the middle of a lot more over the years.

Because we respect each other and know the other one has a valid perspective. Even if it's not the exact same style being used. If you have a complimentary business partner as far as temperament goes, but your not aligned on your vision and your values, then your gonna fight a lot. If you have a clear vision on what you're doing and why you're doing it, and in our case like back in a day like we were super in a weightlifting super in CrossFit, like we love training together.

Like we're aligned on this very cool thing that we like so much. And then we had a complimentary skillset to build a business around this thing that we were so passionate about and it works amazingly well if we didn't have that alignment and we were just like to people that just were total total opposites and we were trying to do total opposite things at the same time, well then we would fucking kill each other.

Mike: I think that was a really good point is there are a few things that everyone on the team has to share to work with the vision and values. You said that two things that are critical. There may be a few other things in there. there's definitely boundaries and guidelines that every company has in which everyone needs to adhere to for it to work well. But the vision and values, especially with business partners is, is the most critical. I think for us, I know there are a few times we attempted to put our core values down on paper.

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