Jeff Passan, “The Arm,” and Me

I feel like I should write something about the latest excerpt from The Arm by Jeff Passan that was just published by Yahoo Sports. The last line states:

“I was pretty pissed for about 20 minutes for the future of Driveline,” Boddy said. “The company is going to go on. It just sucks. For all of baseball. It sucks that not everybody’s going to know about his work, no matter what happens with the Dodgers. The worst­-case scenario is he has a breakthrough with them. Because then the world won’t see it.” He sighed. “You can only learn you hate pro ball one way,” Boddy said. “By working in it.”

First and foremost, I support The Arm. Jeff did a wonderful job writing and it is my opinion that this book will have a significant positive impact on baseball for years to come. It will change how we view Tommy John surgery and give hope to many that the future of baseball is bright indeed. My company’s official response to the book can be found on our website.

Secondly, I do come off like quite the asshole in a lot of spots. In no way did Jeff misquote me – in fact, in a lot of spots, he quoted me verbatim and I feel like the story suffered for it as it was a rather monotonous quote. But that only speaks to Jeff’s character; more than once he told me he felt the story could be better if only he could twist someone’s words slightly. When I pressed him for an example, he told me something that I would not in the slightest consider a falsification or an embellishment, but he quite rightfully pointed out the obvious: That wasn’t the point. Chopping up words and meanings in any context would do damage to what is supposed to be a work of truth that stands on its own. I learned quite a bit about Jeff’s character and journalism in that short conversation I had with him (that I doubt he even remembers).

 

The Arm

I will state that my feelings for the game have changed slightly to the less-cranky side. However, I remain incredibly frustrated at professional baseball as a whole because it is similar to academia – slow-moving for the sake of being slow-moving. It creates an enormous amount of annoyance in my soul, and occasionally it is let off as steam in the form of rants, or in The Arm’s case, interviews with Jeff. Still, I maintain a very honest and open persona both in real life and online, and the professional teams I continue to work with know this. Jeff honored all of my non-disclosure requests and received secondary confirmation on stories I could not directly tell.

The professional and college baseball teams that balk at working with me due to my blunt nature do not bother me; we’re not a good fit at any rate. I have been lectured by many mentors to tone down my level of discourse, but I simply don’t believe in lying to my clients about my true feelings, regardless of whether or not that loses me business. My strongest relationships with professional coaches, front office types, and college pitching coaches come FROM this font of honesty, not in spite of it. Some of my best friends work in baseball and are exceedingly blunt themselves; these are the people that really get shit done in the game. As far as I am concerned, my blunt nature and honesty are assets to Driveline Baseball, not liabilities. If it means I have lost short-term business by refusing to hold my tongue when truth is required, then so be it. Integrity, forthrightness, and loyalty are the greatest virtues that I hold dear to the exclusion of making money for the sake of making money.

I have faith that doing business the right way – open, honest, and direct – will reward me in the end. And even if it does not, I feel good running Driveline Baseball in this manner. I do not feel good lying and embellishing facts for the sake of marketing; in fact, those were the main reasons I left my last line of work before working in baseball full-time.

The only adjective I disagree with Jeff on is the assertion that I am arrogant – I feel that I am very open-minded to those who present data in a convincing manner, even if it runs counter to my viewpoints and beliefs. (Indeed, I have changed my mind several times due to being enlightened by others – not always comfortable, but always positive.) The definition of arrogance is having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities, and quite the contrary, I certainly think I strongly suffer from Imposter Syndrome in many regards. Not much of what I do is genius-level material; it is in fact simple common sense and iterative development over the course of many years and thousands of hours of labor, mixed with an above-average intelligence (I’ll give myself that much). I think my bluntness and often confrontational nature comes off as arrogant; it is only when I have the unassailable position of data-driven research and my opponent has merely conjecture and opinion that my true sense of superiority comes through, but this superiority is not granted as some internal feeling I have, but simply a stack of 1s and 0s stating unequivocally that the opposing side is simply, well, wrong.

So yes, The Arm makes me out to be a jerk, and to that I will cop. And while I don’t agree with Jeff’s assertion that I am arrogant (a fun point to argue, since arguing against it makes you somewhat of an arrogant person!), his book is an outstanding labor of love that took years to complete, and is itself a very honest, open, and forthright book. All pitchers, parents of pitchers, coaches of pitchers, and fans of pitchers should read it – and that is not a label I have given many books at all.

Getting Results vs. Being Right

Is it more important to know the best way to train athletes, or are results the true currency? So as not to directly disagree with my business partner Mike, who said this on Twitter:

I want to say that I totally agree. Driveline Baseball is driven to get results for our athletes, period. And yet, personally, that is not enough – because that is not how I started, and not how many of you will get started if you want to reach the level that I have in training baseball pitchers. Let me explain why.

Three Truths About Training Athletes

There are three true statements about training athletes of any sort. These were paraphrased from Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength (amongst other books), but as far as I know, I’m the first to really boil it down into an easy list:

  1. Everything works.
  2. Some things work better than others.
  3. Nothing works forever.

So let’s talk about #1, shall we? If you happen to luck into a position where you have a ton of clients who trust you, no matter what your program is, you’ll see some results taking athletes who didn’t do a lot and now do something at a higher intensity/frequency. You can luck into a group of them by being an ex-big leaguer who was influential, a strength coach who randomly had five elite pitchers walk through your door, or any other cosmic event that now “brands” you as the guru of [niche X].

Now, do you know anything? No. You know enough to be dangerous, and just because you have a bunch of elite athletes following you doesn’t mean you are the best. It just means you work with elite athletes. But does that matter?

Yes, Actually Knowing Something Matters

When I was working and starting up Driveline Baseball on my own, I didn’t have any athletes – mainly because I was a nobody athlete who was coaching Northeast Seattle Little League and Roosevelt High School freshmen and had a gym next to a trailer park. So I got very dedicated and discarded athletes to train under me and had to learn through experimentation as well as reading every bit of existing sports science and training research out there to form my base. And at this point, I probably knew more than the guy in the previous section who just happened to luck into an elite group of athletes and was getting “results.”

This is where some of you are: You are reading this and you scoff at the people who say “Scoreboard, baby!” And you have every right to do so. The problem is that you don’t matter to this industry and you never will until you just slog it out, because eventually you WILL generate decent results unless you take the dark path that lives in your soul, the same one that many pitching gurus have: Getting so mad at an industry that won’t listen to you that you lash out and make yourself a completely unmarketable person. You start to call professional baseball stupid, you get in Internet flame wars with other gurus, and you are so hellbent on being RIGHT that you don’t ever stop to think that at some point you’ll probably have to work within the framework that is handed to you.

I’m not saying you should accept this and deal with it; I tried this years ago with one of my first pro contracts. I’ve been there. I thought that doing work on the MLB draft for free/low money and just getting my foot in the door would make my value evident to the people above me. What I learned is that for professional baseball – or any other closed-door industry – to respect you, you must create results that are at least FIVE TIMES as good as what they currently have, and generally more like TEN TIMES.

The Key is in Iteration and Documentation

Two things will break you out of this cycle:

  • Iteration: Constantly improving yourself, your training program, and your athletes (most good coaches can do some form of this)
  • Documentation: Writing everything down and making it all testable and repeatable (most good coaches are dogshit at this)

You MUST be able to document everything you’ve done to train athletes and improve them, if only for your own sake so you can look back at old records and laugh or perhaps be inspired by risks you took that you would never consider today.

The worst person you can be in this industry is happy to be getting the results you are getting at this moment. You let results get to your head, that you think you know something, that perhaps maybe you really do have it figured out – even though you are modest and tell people you don’t have it figured out. You think you have a well-oiled machine that runs solidly and produces not only good revenue, but good results. It would be very easy for me to look at Driveline Baseball and say: “Damn. We get superior results to almost everyone and we are gaining tons of acceptance in pro ball. Let’s keep this train going and focus on business processes.”

The minute I do that is the minute this company should cease to exist. The reason is twofold – personally, I am driven to know the most and be the best in my niche of advanced pitching research; and professionally, I know there are at least 10 people out there who work almost as hard as me or maybe even harder than I do that don’t have the early-mover advantage or tenuous hold on the baseball industry that I happen to have at this moment. And maybe all 10 will fail because they become disillusioned or they learn to hate the game or they fall into the pits I describe above.

But I can promise you this: There are people out there who looked down on Driveline Baseball years ago and thought that Kyle Boddy was a nobody and wasn’t a competitor because he didn’t get results. To ignore the history that brought me here would be to sign my own death warrant.

So if you’re out there and want my job, I hope this post helps you. Just know that I will try to fight as hard as you to keep you off my back, because it’s the only way I know how. It’s not all about results to me. It’s about being right and getting results.

And if you’re that good, shoot me an email. We’ll just hire you and we can stay peaceful.

I Hate(d) Weighted Baseballs

The year is 2009.

The best way to describe how I train pitchers is some weird fusion of Dr. Mike Marshall’s wrist weight + heavy ball training, Alan Jaeger’s long toss methods, and Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength barbell lifting concepts. Also, we do some foam rolling since I read a T-Nation article about it.

We throw. We throw a LOT. I am coaching high school kids who can’t safely load a barbell with 95 lbs. and I’m forcing them to back squat it anyway. (I’m just 25 years old at this point, give me a break. 40 year old high school strength coaches do this all the time NOW.) I have them throwing wrist weights and duct-taped lead balls purchased from the Internet and I’m yelling at them for doing it wrong. I have them long tossing as often as possible. Miraculously, no one gets hurt.

But no one really gets much better either.

Jacob, my fellow coach, orders two more 2 lb. iron balls from Frozen Ropes – leather covered and stitched, a luxury for two people who are losing money regularly in this venture – but they screw up and send him this:

Frozen Ropes Weighted Baseballs
They don’t make them anymore.

“Hey, Kyle, they sent us these accidentally. I figured I’d bring them here,” Jacob says as he drops a sack of brightly colored – and striped? – baseballs of varying weights in front of the squat rack.

I look up at him and reply: “Everyone knows weighted baseballs don’t work. The 2 lb. ball is used for mechanical work and strengthening the elbow. Throwing these things will blow up your elbow.”

“Well, whatever. I’m not going to use them. Besides, they said to keep them while they send out replacement 2 lb. balls.”

And so the weighted balls sat in a drawstring sack in the weight room for months on end, until I stumbled upon an article by Dr. Coop DeRenne about weighted baseball training. This led me to reading more about Alan Blitzblau, Dr. John Bagonzi, and DeRenne‘s own research.

Meta Review of Research

Holy shit. I might have been wrong. But there’s only one way to find out.

By now I’ve purchased a high-speed camera, one of the first available on the market in my price range – the Casio Exilim EX-FH20. I am not making much money at my day job, but I tell my girlfriend that it’s a vital purchase. She rolls her eyes and agrees. I figure I’ll test high-speed footage of weighted baseball throws, velocities (I have splurged on a mis-listed JUGS Pro Sport radar gun on Ebay, nabbing it for hundreds of dollars under normal market price), and that’d be good enough for performance. But what about health? I have held for so long that weighted baseballs are bad for your arm that I can’t just leave it at that. So I contact a local physical therapist named Andy Lodato who has commented on my then-blog on the fledgling SB Nation network called Driveline Mechanics. Andy graciously hosts me and shows me how to use a goniometer to measure IR/ER of the shoulder. I begin to use this – as well as valgus carrying angle changes – to monitor whether or not the health side of these implements will work.

I post messages on bulletin boards and baseball Internet message boards looking for test subjects – free velocity program for those who stick out 8 weeks of testing – and randomly split the ragtag group of respondents into a test group (weighted baseball pulldowns 2x/week, short wrist weight routine, band routine) and a control group (regulation baseball pulldowns 2x/week, short wrist weight routine, band routine). I hypothesize there will be a statistically insignificant change in velocity between the groups but a likely large loss of internal rotation of the shoulder in the test group.

I was very, very wrong.

The test group showed incredible velocity gains in both pulldown / compression throws AND mound velocities by doing throwing-only drills compared to the control group. The test group did not have appreciably worse loss of internal rotation OR appreciably higher gain of external rotation about the shoulder. And the test group’s mechanics appeared to be much better, more dynamic forearm layback, cleaning up arm action flaws…

After crunching the data nine ways from Sunday, the only thing I can think about in my 200 sq. ft. caged-in weight area in North Seattle Baseball Association’s dingy facility is: “Does anyone else know about this? Why hasn’t this been more prevalent?” I start to realize then that the biomechanics lab I am beginning to construct (using Dr. Dapena’s DLT methods) will be useful not for analysis of individual pitchers, but measuring deltas of training effects on groups of them.

Driveline Biomechanics Research

I email my coaching friend: Remember those weighted baseballs? I’ve got some news for you…”

 

Building a Multi-Camera System to Videotape Pitching Mechanics

On Twitter, a few people have been bothering me to talk about my two-camera system on our PlyoCare wall at Driveline Baseball. It looks something like this:

PlyoCare Wall

It’s not too hard to build – the toughest part was figuring out how to actually assemble and hack together all the random stuff. Fortunately, I’ve done that for you. This guide isn’t meant to be 100% comprehensive; there’s going to be some troubleshooting and guessing on your end since we don’t have the exact same computer setup and the drivers that run the cameras are a little finicky… so if you don’t like rolling up your sleeve and using Google big time, you’ll want to skip this build. But if you need a computer-controlled multi-camera system like I did and don’t want to spend $5,000 (which I later did for my mound setup… that’s another story), this is for you.

We’ll be leaning heavily on the Playstation Eye camera for the Sony PS3. Believe it or not, these things work REALLY well.

PSEye Camera

You’ll Need This Stuff, and Here’s Where You Get it

  • A decently powered computer that runs Windows 7 or higher
    • Should have an i3 or faster processor; ours runs on a i5-2500k, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD, Windows 7
    • It must have a solid state drive (SSD) to save video, a spinning hard disk drive (HDD) is too slow. A decent option if you don’t have one is this Kingston SSDnow 300 at 120 GB – $50 from Amazon
    • If you ask how to get this running on OSX/Mac I’ll ban you from the Internet
    • If you ask how to get this running on Linux you already know enough on how to build this, so go away
    • And no you can’t get this working on a laptop. I mean you could but I’m not gonna help you if you go this route.
  • Two PSEye Cameras – $10 each from Amazon
  • Two PSEye Tripod Mounts – FREE 3d plans, pay to upload/print them at makexyz (cost is variable but around $30-40 for two of the CamHolderTripodMount.stl file)
  • Two Arkon Camera Wall Mounts – $38 each from Amazon
  • Two CL Eye Camera Driver Licenses – $20 for a Two-Pack from Code Laboratories
  • (optional) PCI USB 2.0 Port expansion card – $13 on Amazon
  • (optional) Two ACTIVE USB Extension Cables, 32 feet each – $14 each on Amazon (Use these if you need longer cabling for your cameras. You can daisy-chain more if you need to cover longer ground, but I wouldn’t exceed 3. Note: The BlueRigger cables work best in my experience. Other cables may be cheaper but we’ve seen major failure rates with them.)

Alright, most of you stopped reading. But for those who really want to do this, you need all that. Here’s an explanation on why and how the system works:

Your computer connects the PS Eye cameras to what is called the Universal Serial Bus. It’s probably what your mouse and keyboard are plugged into and potentially your external wireless modem adapter. This bus was brilliantly designed to allow 100+ things to connect to the computer and share bandwidth, which is basically a street where the cars (data) can drive on. However, using webcams like the PS Eye and recording data to disk is like dumping 10,000 cars on the highway at one time. Sure, it CAN hold that many cars, but the likelihood of accidents (packet collisions) and problems is really high. So, you probably need a separate highway (buses) for each flood of cars you unleash on the computer. Hence, the optional PCI USB 2.0 Port expansion card. This gives you a second highway in your computer for the data to flow over. You don’t NEED this, but I guarantee if you try to dump the data over your singular USB bus or split it across the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 bus, you’ll have problems. So buy the card and install it. It’s pretty simple, use YouTube to watch someone install a PCI card into their computer.

The above paragraph also explains why you can’t have a hard drive accepting all this data. It’d be like an exit ramp that forces cars to slow down to 5 MPH before getting off the highway. Not gonna work. A solid state drive (SSD) can process all the data quickly. You need one. Technically you could write everything to a RAMdisk if you wanted to do that (and you will need to do this if you go to 4 cameras), but that’s outside of the scope of this guide. If you’re nerdy enough, you can figure it out.

Now, the PS Eye was developed for the Sony Playstation 3, not a computer. You can try plugging it into your computer, and it will not work. To understand why, do you think the PS Eye should work with Microsoft’s Xbox? No, there’s really no reason this should work. The software that allows the camera to talk to the computer is called a driver. Back in my day, we had to manually install drivers before anything got plugged in; today, most everything is “plug and play” and easy to configure. Today, you get to learn the pain of everyone in the 1980s and 1990s felt when putting a damn sound card into their computer. Enjoy the history lesson.

These drivers take a lot of time to write and reverse engineer. Fortunately, Code Laboratories did this and made them available on their site. You can get the free licenses but that won’t work for multiple cameras, and if you are really reading this far and trying to get $20 out of the budget, seriously stop it. So buy the licenses, install their software, and open up their license manager. You can then plug your cameras into the computer and the license manager will allow you to “activate” each camera. This gives you access to use them in various applications. Hopefully nothing goes wrong in this step, because Code Laboratories’ customer support is absolutely terribleIf you venture into their forums you’ll see tons of posts by yours truly from years ago that went unanswered. So you can post here but I probably won’t help you either; the difference being that I didn’t charge you for any of this stuff and thus you have no expectation that I might actually help you.

If you use them, the extension cables need to be ACTIVE. This means the signal is repeated across the 20+ feet the cable runs. Imagine yelling at someone 1,500 feet away about how ugly their girlfriend is. Chances are good he won’t hear you. But if you yelled at him over your cell phone, he’d hear it loud and clear and be over soon enough to kick your ass. That’s what a repeater is. A cell phone. Kinda. This analogy sucks but I’m leaving it in; the whole point is to not get a PASSIVE USB extension cable. Get ACTIVE ones. And get a Blue Rigger cable, the other ones are terrible. Including Monoprice, and nothing they make sucks. But their USB cables sure do.

The tripod wall mounts allow you to put anything with a tripod screw into the wall. Simple enough. Get the ones linked above and screw them into your wall. You could use drywall anchors if you need, but the PS Eye is really light and there’s no load on them, so you could ride dirty and just use drywall screws like I did. I’m sure in six months it’ll fall out of the wall and I’ll be mad but for now, wheeeeee

PS Eye in Tripod Mount

Anyway, the 3d printed stuff is probably a little complicated for you. You need to download those files from above and send them to a place near you that prints things in three dimensions. Or you can do what I did and paste that URL to the plans to makexyz and buy the models. Remember: You do NOT need the Camera Holder plan, you need only the CameraTripodHolder plan – and two of them. How it works is… well I don’t really know how 3d printing works, something to do with heat and carving stuff out of a block of plastic. It’s cool. Your local hacker shop can help you with it.

3d Printed PS Eye Holders

So connect it all up and drill everything into the wall and run the CL Eye Camera Test program. Do you have an image? Awesome! You can test recording using the software.

Software: Or How to Actually Process Data

Alrighty. Now you have everything wired up and working, so how do you capture synchronized video across the two cameras? I recommend using iPi Recorder v2 because it exports individual cameras to AVI if you want to make GIFs of the stuff. It’s hard to find this version, but you can get it from this weird spammy looking site. You want the version that is 2.2.3.X or whatever; here, look at the screenshot below. When you click “download” the file will start downloading and it will prompt you to share your download success to Facebook, what the fuck is the point of this, I hate the Internet sometimes. Anyway don’t do that, or do, I don’t care.

WTF

Now you should be able to run iPi Recorder 2 and click through all the calibration and “background” checks. This is software that is used for motion capture and the actual mocap software is incredibly expensive, and the developers are sometimes total dicks about off-label use of the software. I am telling you this because I dealt with them a lot in the past, and while I’m sure it’s good stuff, it’s wildly overpriced. Theoretically you can use their stuff for biomechanics breakdowns (if you go to their site you can read all about it) but I’m not into it. The PS Eye isn’t good enough for that, and neither are Microsoft Kinects, even model 2. Not for baseball anyway.

From here, you should be able to record the videos – be sure the file location is saving to the solid state disk drive letter – and double-click them to open them and play them back. You can also export each camera to an AVI file. Why can’t you export both cameras to an AVI file combined? I don’t know, the developer told me he’d charge me a few thousand dollars to add this feature into the software which seriously can’t take more than a few hours at most. Whatever. To stitch them together, export both AVI files and put them into Kinovea (dual playback mode) and click “export combined video” or something like that. Bam.

Conclusion

This works pretty damn well, believe it or not. It’s completely hacked together but it’ll get the job done. Let me know if you have any comments or questions, but no technical support is offered. You’re GOING to run into problems, I guarantee it. If you aren’t the tinkering / DIY type, forget it.

Best of luck!

Your Marketing Earns You the Clientele You Deserve

I consider myself a guy that tries to read and consume a lot of information on everything entrepreneurship and small business. It was my original major in college, I was a co-founder of a successful financial firm, I did consulting for myself, I was a professional gambler, and worked for a bunch of startups making executive-level decisions as well. A message that is often repeated in the bubble of the dotcom/startup scene is to “sell benefits and not features.” This means that no one wants to hear about how powerful your new Dell PowerEdge server is in terms of a quad-core Xeon processor, but rather that this processor enables you to run 27 instances of Photoshop faster. You want to sell them a better version of themselves, so to speak.

Just google search that phrase and you’ll find plenty. Here’s one from HelpScout, which is actually a service that Driveline Baseball uses:

Apple understood the appeal of outcomes when they released the first iPod. MP3 players were nothing new, and the technology trounced CDs. The problem was marketing; the right pitch hadn’t been made to explain just how much better customers’ lives were going to be once they owned an iPod.

How do you think Apple decided to frame the magic of the iPod? Around its technical prowess, or what customers could do with it?

Credit to HelpScout

Here’s the problem: That advertisement is simply false. 1 GB does not store 1,000 mp3s. It might not store 500 mp3s either. It just depends on encoding, length of playlists, etc. But “no one wants to hear about that.” So you sell the benefits of having the iPod in your pocket with some slightly fudged words, a small percentage of people return your product, but a larger percentage decide to make the call and purchase your product, so at the end of the day when you net out support costs and return costs, it’s clearly a winner. And – probably – there was minimal damage to your brand for including this slight lie.

This model works when you are selling items. But it doesn’t work when you are selling relationships. Consider the amount of gym membership turnover and why places like LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness make it impossible to cancel – they inherently know they are selling you a package of lies. Sure, if you come in all the time and use their equipment, you will get the results you want. But most won’t. Now, that’s not the gym’s fault – well, it sort of is – but they weren’t being 100% honest and forthright with their service. Fortunately, this is an accepted fact in the gym industry, so everyone is free to be a scumbag and nothing is really worse for the wear.

Why I Fight Selling Benefits as Much as Possible

I’m not totally naive. Our websites sell the benefits of training at Driveline Baseball because it does work and hook the person. However, we also are very upfront with our clients about the fact that they probably aren’t Casey Weathers (30 year old with two elbow surgeries going on to throw 97+ MPH for strikes after training here) or Caleb Cotham (completely remapped his arm action and mechanics in 4-5 weeks before the 2014 AFL). Those things don’t really happen that often.

Or do they?

What I’ve seen on the Internet about our program – in comparison to others – is often that Driveline Baseball does a better job than your other random pitching guru out there. And while that might be true (and it probably is), we also do not use marketing on our site that is built for fast conversions and poor lead generation. We realized years ago that culture is the number one reason that people want to train at our place, and that is NOT dictated in large by the employees – it is dictated and shaped by the trainees.

So if you are in a business where you need constant relationships with a person and they will affect the culture of your business simply by having a physical presence, then you need to screen and treat your clientele almost as if they were employees of your company. This starts with your marketing. If you are using giant flashy banners that generate a strong “call to action” and optimize your site in such a way that manipulates people into believing something they may not really understand, then you will get a client base of people who are motivated by text on a website and who are not fully bought into what you truly have to offer. You can have the best of intentions and want to do things “the right way,” but if how you sell it is inherently dishonest, how can you not see this is a serious divide and will cause problems in the very near future?

The applicability to baseball is strong. The professional baseball community is very tight-knit, very resistant to outsiders who usually just try to make money, and very responsive to word of mouth and referrals from trusted sources. Knowing this, we set out to do right by those that matter – pitching coordinators, college coaches, and professional athletes. Instead of marketing to them like they’re 14 years old with an attention span of a monkey trying to sort colored blocks, we described our features and how we go about things and offered to demonstrate and send out free product for them to see for themselves if it was a good idea to use our stuff. And you know what? This turned off a TON of coaches. Which was great, in my mind – these are the people we DON’T want to do business with! We do not want those who do not buy-in and are actually interested in player development to represent our brand and use our products. No matter how much we can make off that deal – and it won’t be enough – it can never overcome the potential damage to our brand and reputation, which is all you have in this business.

A noted pitching guru has ridiculous ads plastered all over his site, pop-ups, and insane marketing talk all over the place with email captures, email spam, and crazy tricks to get someone to just get in touch so he might sell something. When I spoke to this guru’s assistant, he couldn’t understand why he was getting a lot of dead leads, bad press, and worst of all, a clientele that didn’t match his desired group of trainees. This guru is actually well-intentioned and a smart guy, but the way he conducts business earns him people that are looking to get rich quick. And no amount of money is worth training those people.

We send out email maybe once every two weeks and we try to turn around support requests in < 24 hours with someone that I actually pay who is knowledgeable to respond to emails. I am very responsive on Twitter and social media. And what we found out is that these “expensive” and “wrong” ways to go about marketing and support actually generate us a ton of sales and strong interest in our company from the places we really want to be known at.

Without question, this is a slower way to build things and it can be frustrating. I wrote 75+ blog articles over years and never had more than 5 trainees at one time in my chicken wire-enclosed place in North Seattle. But eventually, in this community, the best product/service and most straightforward guy starts to win. And I’m happy that we went this route to begin with, because it makes conducting business in the future so much easier – I never have to lie to my clients and I never have to make excuses. We tell them upfront the risks, caveats, and be as honest as possible. And our clients love us for it. Mostly.