January 22, 2013
When CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman outgrew the 1,250-square-foot space where he was training athletes in Santa Cruz, Calif., he had a realization.
“I said, ‘Well, ya know what? I don’t know anything about business. Nothing.’ So I better go to the bookstore,” he tells an audience at the State Policy Network 20th Annual Meeting in Florida. “And there wasn’t one book on the shelf, not one, that told me how to improve my product or service.”
The Virginia-based State Policy Network describes itself as a group focused on improving the practical effectiveness of independent, non-profit, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks.
With few resources to guide him, Glassman made a checklist of pros and cons to determine whether he should find a bigger space or not. He asked himself, “Is this a good business decision?”
He explains: “And the mindset was that business is about makin’ money, ’cause if you can’t pay the rent, you won’t be in business. But then it hit me in just a blinding flash: ‘Wait a minute. I’m not trying to make money. Money’s what happens when you do something right.’”
Coach trashed his checklist. Instead, he looked at the pursuit of excellence. He asked himself, “Will it be good for clients?” and shifted his focus to virtuosity as a trainer.
“It was going to make a salient, powerful difference for the clientele,” he says.
He adds: “Excellence is obvious to everyone. It’s just that easy.”
Coach Glassman says he doesn’t understand business, but he does understand excellence.
“I believe that business is the art and science of providing uniquely attractive opportunities for other people,” he says. “That’s what we’ve done. That’s it. Nothing else.”
CrossFit, Glassman says, is in the business of value and wealth creation.
“I have a real problem with any business activity that isn’t about value creation,” he explains. “Money is essential to run a business, but it’s not why you run a business. It is not what makes business grow. Businesses grow on dreams. Trying to make money is no way to run a business.”
Video by Hayley Parlen and Noor Greene.
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Additional reading: Professional Training by Greg Glassman, published Jan. 1, 2006.