Thursday, November 8, 2018

Positive Lessons from Judo Con

I learned a lot at Judo Con in Kansas City last week. It was a really positive event, with 54 people from 12 states and Chile (me) in attendance. The limit was supposed to be 50 attendees, with a focus on club leaders interested in improving technical skills, growing their martial arts programs in both size and quality (shameless plug, for example, by focusing on academics as well as athletics). However, there were a few young blue and purple belts who wanted to come and how can you say no to kids who want to do judo, so they slipped in for the technical sessions.

I learned a lot about marketing and social media from the sessions James Wall and Lester Martell did on how to recruit martial arts students. One lesson that really stuck with me was this quote from James,

"Every new white belt I get is a precious little nugget. I take care of them, polish them up like gold. Do you know how much time, effort and money it takes me to get a new student into my school? Take care of those new students! Don't take them for granted."

He's really correct, not just for judo, but for business in general. How much do we take care of our new customers versus just going back out there looking for more? I could go on quite a bit but you could listen to the Judo Chop Suey podcast for a lot of detail.

The biggest takeaway for me, though, was a personal one. Several times during the weekend and thought,

"I am surrounded by good people."

Usually, when I go to a judo event there are mostly good people there but some who are complete assholes or plain out frauds. We all know them, the people who have an eighth-degree black belt and flat don't know much judo.

At this event, every single person was either someone I had known for many years and knew was a hard-working, intelligent, honest person doing the very best he or she could to make the world a better place in their own way.

This is your reward for being a good, honest person - you get to be around people like yourself.

If you're all about pretending to be a ninth-degree black belt, you aren't going to get on the mat and actually roll around doing arm bars with us. No one on the mat was there to impress people. We were having fun. I grabbed Caitlyn, Madelyn, Sandi and Julie at various times and said, "Hey, let me try this move on you."

It's not often that I've been in a group of this size and thought to myself, "I can see being friends with every single person in here. These are the people that help their neighbor with a flat tire, take the time to talk to a kid who is having a bad day. They are also people who, regardless of age, keep learning."

I felt very privileged to be there.

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