Marketing Tai Chi
Part Three – Mentors and Forming a Group
The content for this 3-part article came about in a talk with my group. I put this information to them and got their feedback. We regularly meet and talk about what is going on with each other and how we can be of assistance. One of the members recently had a Halloween party for his English school and many of us went to help out. The relationship we have is one where the attitude is “What can I do for you?” rather than “I’ll do that for you and you do this for me”. The core members are myself, Chris Campbell of YES English School (who is also a Business Consultant) and Shojiro Ono, our Computer/Website guy. There are many other people who circle in and out but the 3 of us have a part in everything going on. We are just that way because we care to help each other.
We don’t always agree with each other’s ideas and the leadership role revolves around who is the main focus of the topic.
In the previous article I mentioned trust. It is also a big part of who you have in your team. We don’t keep secrets and don’t introduce anyone we don’t trust. If someone is untrustworthy they have no business being a part of your team. Selecting your team is not a difficult process. Chris was first a friend then my boss years ago when I first came to Japan. I worked for him for 6 years and kept in touch after moving on. I was helping him with consulting and the relationship grew from there. I have introduced people I have worked with or simply were friends. One of my students was always a part of what we were doing until recently leaving to start teaching self defence in America. I have introduced a singer (AK form JAGGA) to our group who is now doing very well in Japan. We are long term friends who have developed trust and genuinely want to help each other succeed. Those people are the ones you can rely on. They are the ones you want by your side. Although having an easily recognizable skill is a great asset to the team, it is not as important as their willingness to contribute. We have a saying in Australia that I like a lot:
“It doesn’t matter if your mate can fight for you but if he will fight for you!”
Whether or not someone has something to offer to your team isn’t relevant. If they are the kind of person who wants to help you succeed and you feel the same way back then they are perfect.
About a year ago I set up my own location from which to teach Tai Chi Chuan and Kids Kung Fu, rather than the places I was using. My team came to my assistance to make sure everything was a good as it could be. I didn’t agree with everything they recommended as our thoughts on Martial Arts training is not always the same, but their support was priceless. A friend of mine, who is quite successful teaching police and security defence, gave me his opinions and his example was a good one to know. Again, I did not follow everything he recommended but having the chance to see things from the outside is valuable.
I love my training and assume everyone else does as well. That isn’t always the case, though. A support group lets you see how others will feel. I recommend getting some people in your group who have opened a business before, successfully or not. Learn how they did it and adapt it to your needs. They will be the ones who will recommend you. The benefits of Tai Chi Chuan are too numerous to include here but your team will learn about what it is you are doing and be witnesses to how great an art it is. Be there to help them when they need it and if they are the right people for your team they will return it a hundred fold. Two potentially dangerous situations to avoid are the friends who take and take without following through on giving, and burning bridges when you find better people. I have moved on from some members who were going in a different direction to me and tell them clearly why it’s best for us to go our separate ways. Others have shown that they are not the best to associate with. You have to distance yourself from negative people any way you can. Those bridges are better burned.
Mentors are a different version of your group. I am very selective about who I count as a mentor or as an example to follow. I am even more selective regarding who I will learn from. Those in my group are not necessarily people I emulate, but a mentor should be. They have done already what you are trying to do and they can guide you in the right direction, much as a martial arts teacher guides those they teach. One man I count as a mentor from my past I wasn’t even aware that he was a mentor until much later. I worked for him and was lucky to receive training in business systems from him. He also was a martial artist who had learned Aikido. He also was a genuinely great guy. The lessons he shared with me were beyond monetary value and he never asked for anything other than my best effort. Search for people like that. They are out there and can really help you.
As you’ve seen, I am far from a business guru. I accept that I don’t know it all and I don’t always choose to follow what I have learned. I prefer to take a slow and steady approach. Retention is equally as important as recruiting new students, if not more so, for me. I have an ideal of what being a Tai Chi Chuan Teacher is and hold strong to those principles. You do not have to sell your soul to be successful. This art of ours is truly a treasure that we are lucky to be able to share. So, share it the right way. If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact me. See you around the site!
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