Dear 210 Family,
For my birthday this year, I ask for nothing. Not because it wouldn’t be cool to receive a great gift, but because I already have received one this year. His name is Coach Mekel.
This young man came to me over a year and a half ago. I consider myself an entrepreneur who recognizes the difference between someone looking for a job and someone looking for a career, and my gut told me he wanted a career. So I listened to his story:
Texas boy. Navy guy. Mom passed away in his teens. He was willing to work for free for 210 for as long as it took. He just wanted a shot. I think a HUGE part of luck is making your own, and this guy was rolling the dice like a Vegas pro. I saw that and felt that if he was willing to gamble, then so was I. Hell, I spent over a year playing poker as my job, so it was easy to spot a fellow risk taker.
I actually didn’t know what his financial situation was at that time, but my best guess was that he had about $200 in his bank account and was living off his family. I am a big softie when it comes to people short on cash (that was me in 2009 when I started 210 CF on $200 in equipment), but I ignored the urge to “give him a job”. I have been burned by too many jackasses who took advantage of my generosity in the past, so this was a test for both of us. Could he make it in this business without my financial help and could I resist the urge to give him shit he didn’t earn JUST because I liked him?
And liked him I did. What’s not to like? Mekel has a great heart and is not afraid of hard work. He can pull a 12 hour day and show up the next morning at 5am. My type of ninja. He smiles a lot and uses words I have never heard of. Mostly because those words don’t exist, but you gotta admire his effort. I loved it.
He accepted my instruction like Daniel LaRusso did with Mr. Miyagi. He was a student of the business. I came down hard on him like I never have on ANYONE I have ever mentored. I took away his own training privileges for 3 months last year and he had to join Gold’s Gym just to work out. He did it. I made him shave his beard. He did it. I made him wear a polo to work and took away his backwards cap look. I taught him to sell himself by making him do things he was uncomfortable with. We did an extemporaneous speech exercise and he sucked at it. He was so bad that even HE laughed at himself. But he kept doing it and improved dramatically in a short amount of time.
Not many have the gumption to stick it out. This business has many fakers in it that you wonder what is real and what isn’t each week. People join and quit gyms everyday in America by the hundreds of thousands. There’s enough broken promises and declined credit cards to make a pop country “band” have a story worth singing about. And that is saying a lot because pop country is as good for you as Hurricane Katrina.
Loyalty is paramount to me. It’s a quality that I look for when I decide to accept someone in my life and in my business. People who work for me don’t actually work for “me”. They work for 210 and its athletes. They are an extension of me, not one of my workers. They work for themselves and they earn their right to keep their position by teaching, helping and inspiring OUR athletes to soar to heights they’ve never dreamed of. They are selfless and put the needs of our athletes FIRST.
Mekel, you have made me proud by not being perfect, but being you. You outworked everyone else and earned your spot as the top coach at 210. Your work will never be done here and you will always have to bring your best to the table, but right now enjoy your time as the top dog. You have made my year easier by busting your ass day in and day out, and for that I am extremely grateful.
My only birthday wish, if I had one that hadn’t already come true, is for you to keep exploring your own potential and achieve more than you ever thought possible. I want as much success for you as I want for all our athletes. Love you brother. Thanks for making my birthday awesome by being you!