It started with a phone call to Cut Seven.
“Hi, my name is Jerry. I’d love to chat with the owner about their growth strategy. Give me a call back when you get a chance.”
About a week later, it was an email. “Hi, I’m hoping to get in touch with the owner. I called earlier but didn’t receive a response. My name is Jerry, my company is Vexor, we help gyms around the country expand. When you have a minute, please give me a call back so we can chat.”
Then he called my personal phone.
“Hi Chris, this is Jerry from Vexor. I came into the studio for a workout about a month ago. I’d like to discuss where you are in your growth phase and see if my company can help. Give me a call back when you get a chance.”
After listening to the third, nearly identical voicemail, I put down my phone and thought, This must be what pretty girls feel like.
I wasn’t trying to be dismissive. It’s just that, we get a lot of these—and most are bullshit. I called back enough times to find out. But this guy was persistent AF, so I bit and finally called the guy back.
It wasn’t a bullshit offer
Jerry was a part of the group that brought Orangetheory to Texas, opening something like 30 OTFs with his partners. He eventually decided to break from the group, starting his own thing with his OTF riches. While on a business trip to DC he tried Cut Seven, liked it, and decided he wanted one of his own.
He laid out his plan: Place nine Cut Sevens in and around the Dallas area (ya know, start small). Then we’d expand throughout the country.
Is this for real?
I countered. “What if we put two in DC, and see where it goes from there?” He didn’t like the idea. He dove into Dallas, describing how successful we could be.
In one phone call, we were promised instant success, money, and recognition
That’s the goal, right? In one cold phone call, Alex and I were offered everything we worked, waited, and wished for in our careers.
So we discussed it, weighing the pros and cons. Pro: We gain instant recognition and wealth. Con: We lose Cut Seven. Pro: No more nights worrying how the story ends. Con: The story ends without us, and we never find out how good Cut Seven could really be.
“Call us back when you want to help us open another DC location.”
This whole process made ME (re)evaluate what success means
During one particular call with Jerry, I started imagining how cool this exponential growth would look on Instagram (balling!). Two seconds later, I knew my vision for success was fucked.
Yes, the money would be nice. Every day, I wake up thinking about the life I want my family to live. I want my dog to walk on grass, rather than concrete. I want my wife and daughter to never want for anything. I want to be able to watch TV at full volume without the fear of waking a sleeping baby in the next room.
Money is nice. But it’s never been the ruler by which I measure myself. If it were, I never would have personal trained for $15 an hour before we built this place.
When Alex and I started Cut Seven, our mission was to help people. We both experienced the power of being surrounded by people who push you forward, create a positive environment, and root for you to win—never worrying that your wins equal their losses. People do not reach their potential alone, and our goal is to create a support system for people looking to go long and far.
I watched Megan P. quit her job to become the vice president of a (much larger) 300-person marketing agency. I watched Eugene publish his first album that took four fucking years to bring to life. And I watched Judd launch not his first, but his second media company. And those are just the first few examples that come to mind.
Every day, I watch Cut Seven athletes level up in areas far outside the studio. And when I weigh that against the original benchmark Alex and I wrote, I consider this place as a success.
Success doesn’t come from someone else’s approval
It’s the exact opposite.
The less you need approval from others, the more successful you are. Seeking approval from others only gives them power over you, plain and simple. The more value you place on others’ opinions, the less free you are. You should feel confident in your goals and ideals, and fuck what anyone else thinks of them.
I will never measure my success as a business owner by how many Cut Sevens we launch, no more than I measure my success as a coach by how many pounds my athletes lift. I’m looking for something more. And perhaps that doesn’t make sense to someone with 30 different franchises under their umbrella, but I can confidently say I wouldn’t trade the love inside this studio for one billion ahem million dollars. I have a happy family, the best team, and I don’t need to blast my TV (that’s what subtitles are for).
Part of being a teammate is helping one another cut through the noise—the bullshit examples of what success looks like. It is not inspiring to watch someone living only to impress others, whether through likes on Instagram or an annual salary.
Alex and I have a plan. Or at least, a map.
Not long ago, I sat on a panel with other fitness professionals. At one point, the moderator asked us, “What is your exit strategy?” Various answers rose up as those seated next to me explained how they planned to sell their companies. But when I raised the mic I said, “I’m going down with the ship.”
Some may say that’s unrealistic. Good. That’s what it takes to build something. My goal is to create some shit you’ve never seen before. I am so in love with my gym and the athletes that go here, I could never imagine leaving it. Who knows when the phone will ring again with an offer similar to Jerry’s, but that’s okay because we’re in it for the long game and will wait for the right partner.
Alex and I may never succeed in the eyes of others. But we will do this our way, and we will always return to the original ruler by which we decided to measure ourselves. And we will be proud of what we accomplish.
This story has no concise ending—because the ending is still being written.
When Alex and I said Cut Seven was, “not a gym—a team,” we meant it. And part of being a coach is letting your athletes know where your team is headed.
Our goal is to grow. Whether that’s one more studio or a small fitness island off the coast of Florida, time will tell. But, as you just read from this story, we would never pursue an offer if it meant sacrificing what we already created. We set out to create a space where people build relationships and challenge their potential outside the gym, but we never predicted it would turn out like this.
We are hosting a Town Hall at the studio this Thursday, January 16th at 7:45p. We are asking all of you—every member of this team—to come and ask questions.
I can’t tell you I’ll have all the answers, because we’re still figuring this shit out ourselves. But I can tell you that every decision Alex and I make is made with each of you in mind.