The Livewell Collective - July 2019


JULY 2019

WORDS TO WORK BY If you’ve interacted with our team here at O2, you know our core values are honesty, humility, and hustle. But why choose these words in particular? Sure, they’re great virtues, and together they’ve got some good alliteration, but they become more than just words when you have a real connection to them. For me at least, that connection stems from some of my very first jobs, where honesty, humility, and hustle got me through my summers as a teenager. Let’s start with honesty. Growing up I had a vague understanding that telling the truth was the right thing to do. But seeing a business where honesty and transparency weren’t valued made me realize how important the truth really is. I’d had some experience in food service and worked my way up to busing tables for an upscale BBQ joint in Cincinnati. The restaurant billed itself as one of the fancier places to eat in town, so I expected to see a ritzy operation behind the scenes. Boy, things didn’t run like I thought they would. Beyond the silken dining tables and behind the kitchen door was an absolute pigsty. There were flies, chefs who didn’t wash their hands — food dropped, scooped back up off the floor, and handed to servers, and these “dishes” were going for $30–$40 a plate. It was horrifying. I couldn’t watch customers eat without feeling nauseous and sick with guilt. So, I left. From then on, being transparent with people in my life wasn’t just some vague value — it was a must. The food service also taught me plenty of humility. My first serving job was at a restaurant in a retirement community for wealthy families. The patrons were used to a certain degree of preferential treatment and were more than happy to let me know when I didn’t meet their expectations. Having a bunch of wealthy folks take out their old age frustrations on me, a 14-year-old, quickly dispelled any illusions I was unique or special. My hustle came to fruition in college. I’d been a slacker in high school, and it became very apparent as a college freshman that my old attitude wasn’t going to cut it at Ohio State. Sure, it wasn’t Harvard, but, if I was going to make it, I’d have to work my tail off at school and my work study job helping me make tuition.

To my surprise, once I put my head down and got serious about doing the work, I didn’t just stay enrolled; I thrived! I went from being a B student to being in the top 1% of my graduating class. I managed this while working as a computer lab proctor and a TA. But this wasn’t because I was special, or gifted — I saw my studies like a job rather than an obligation. That made all the difference. While these little vignettes capture some of my lessons in O2’s core values individually, one job captured all thee. In fact, it was my very first job that introduced me to honesty, humility, and hustle all at once. I was 12 or 13 years old, and I was paid under the table for a contracting job in Over-the-Rhine. For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Over-The-Rhine is the Brooklyn of Cincinnati. Today it’s filled with craft breweries and avant-garde art galleries, but back in the 90s, it was a rough-and-tumble neighborhood. And there I was, a kid from the suburbs, putting up drywall in dilapidated tenement buildings for renters who didn’t want me there. Needless to say, literal hustle was a must — the last thing I wanted was to draw the ire of residents. It may sound strange to say I learned honesty from an “unofficial” job, but I had to be forthright about my actual work. But most importantly, I learned humility. Those trips to Over-The-Rhine were my first taste of the real world, the first time I could see how lucky I was to have the opportunities I grew up with, and what life was like for folks who weren’t as fortunate. Whenever I get worked up over my own struggles, I remember those old apartments and what those folks had to put up with every day. So, those are the roots of O2’s values. It’s great they all begin with H, but they’re certainly more than just words. They’ve helped me become the man I am today and kept our team focused on doing all we can to help our customers. Honesty, humility, and hustle are great values individually, but together, well, they’re refreshing.


–Dave Colina Founder, O2


DOES THE REVIEW SITE DO MORE HAR “Yelp is destroying my small business.” These words are becoming more and more common. Small-business owners are taking their stories public, claiming Yelp is hurting their brand. But is this true? Can Yelp harm businesses? At a glance, Yelp is a website and app where people can promote their businesses, and consumers can post reviews of those businesses. Yelp can be a consumer’s deciding factor in which restaurant to visit, which cleaning service to hire, which grocery store to shop at, and so on. Business owners claim that Yelp tries to extort them. For example, Yelp calls a business to sell ads. The business declines and, suddenly, good reviews get buried. Some business owners have even claimed that the best reviews disappear altogether. In their place are the lowest reviews, or even poor reviews that weren’t there before. When people search for the business, the worst reviews are front and center. Additionally, business owners have noted that Yelp cold-called them with the news that they have won an award for exceptional reviews. However, Yelp charges for the award, which is a plaque that can be displayed in the business, costing hundreds of dollars.


In the past, we’ve talked about how simple tricks like branded merch and community events can generate plenty of word-of- mouth for your box. But when you’re really making a push for new members, it can help to be more direct. Here’s our guide for putting together a stellar referral campaign to swell your ranks this summer. EASY AND MEMORABLE No referral campaign can succeed if it inconveniences members or slips their mind. Narrowing the process down to as few steps as possible for the member making the referral and the staff logging it will keep things running smoothly. Ideally, members should be able to bring their buddy, sign them up, and get rewarded. Whatever criteria you choose, coaches should mention the rules and reward often. SWEETEN THE POT Providing a worthwhile incentive is key to member participation. While you don’t want to break the bank, you don’t want to insult members with paltry prizes. Many gyms offer discounts on membership fees for each referral. If this isn’t feasible for your box, consider offering gift cards for your retail products. You get a new member, and the referring member gets to enjoy their favorite recovery drink or energy bar on the house. COORDINATE PROGRAMING Too many fitness referral campaigns fall flat because gym owners fail to account for the influx of new members in the workouts they

offer. Many of the referrals you see are friends and family of members who probably haven’t been to the gym in a while — if ever. A lack of beginner-friendly classes can scare away newbies fast. This is especially true of CrossFit

Boxes with reputations for intensity that already intimidate many would-be members.

The specifics of your campaign should be

molded to the needs and culture of your gym. Have a competitive bunch? Make a contest measuring who can get the most referrals in six months. Have a knack for designing unique merch? Create a custom T-shirt exclusively awarded to those who’ve made a referral. Once you have the basics in place, get creative, and go hustle!



While the second example certainly isn’t extortion, it raises questions. The fact is that Yelp does cold-call businesses to get them to sign up for advertising packages, and in this, Yelp has leverage. If you don’t comply, they can alter what people see when they search for your business. Business owners also point to discrepancies in reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. They may have four- or five-star reviews on Google and Facebook, but their Yelp reviews may be noticeably lower. It’s no secret that advertisements represent Yelp’s primary source of revenue, and cold-calling businesses can help drive that revenue. But can businesses defend against ad extortion? The answer is not really, unless businesses are willing to pay a big expense. Instead, the best defense is focusing on stellar customer service — and directing customers and potential customers to Google and Facebook reviews, ignoring Yelp altogether.

GET TO KNOW EVERYONE ADVICE FROM VIKINGS STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING’S MIGUEL FLORES Most boxes like to say they have a unique culture, but Vikings Strength and Conditioning takes unique to a whole different level. If you visit the homepage of this Texas-based gym, you won’t see the typical slideshow of flexing coaches and top-tier members. Instead, you’re greeted with a picture of members and coaches putting on their goofiest faces with the caption “Welcome to our family of misfits.” Fun, upbeat, and unexpected, this image captures what Vikings is all about. This proudly eccentric gym exists thanks to CF L1 coach and owner Miguel “Mike” Flores, though if you ask him, he’ll tell you Vikings “just sort of happened.” “I never thought I’d be a business owner,” Mike says, laughing. In fact, this three-year gym owner was first exposed to CrossFit back in 2013. “Before that I would go mess around in the university rec center,” he remembers. The gym Mike eventually called home was Vikings, an unaffiliated fitness center in the small town of Olmito, Texas. There, he not only discovered a love of CrossFit, but also of the community this local gym had fostered. Eventually Mike became an unofficial assistant coach at Vikings, but the owner at the time was struggling. “He started talking about closing [the gym],” Mike remembers. “I was like, shit, I really like being here. That’s how it started.” In three weeks, Mike came to the decision that he was going to take ownership of the gym he loved. When asked what convinced him to make this leap, he reflects, “I was lucky enough to have some pretty good coaches. I felt I could pass along what they gave me.” Three years since their grand reopening, Vikings is going strong. Mike remarks, “I didn’t expect the family this gym would create, or the number of lives it would change. I have people tell me they’ve tried other gyms but feel more at home here.” Easy going and open minded, Mike had no trouble attracting early members to his cause. But building from there took getting out on the floor and working. “You have to take the time to get to know every single person,” Mike advises. “Everyone is unique.” Talking to Mike, it’s clear he takes this mantra to heart. Getting a little choked up, he recalls one powerful interaction with a member: “They told me if it wasn’t for our gym, for the relationship we’d built, they wouldn’t be around. I’ll never forget that.” Giving advice to new owners, Mike states, “It’s going to be scary. It’s going to suck at times. But it’s going to get better. You are going to change lives.”


Skewers are a Fourth of July favorite, but these are not your classic kebabs. They’re a fresh, light, and fun way to start a barbecue. Oh, and they don’t require any actual cooking.



• 1 medium-sized

watermelon, cubed

• 1 packet of bamboo skewers

• 2 cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

• 1 block feta cheese, cubed

• 1 bunch fresh mint leaves

• Salt, to taste


1. Assemble skewers by placing one watermelon cube, one cucumber round, one feta cube, and one mint leaf on skewer in that order. Repeat until skewer is full.

2. Lightly season with salt and chill in fridge until right before serving.



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What ‘Honesty, Humility, and Hustle’ Really Mean Page 1 Is Yelp the Enemy of Small Business? Referral Campaigns Made Easy Page 2 Watermelon Cucumber Skewers How Vikings Strength Became Truly Unique Page 3 Your Ego Is Holding You Back Page 4

‘EGO IS THE ENEMY’ Once in a while, a book comes along with a truly transcendent message. “Ego Is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday is one such work. This book is not just for business owners, athletes, or those trying to lose weight; it’s a guide for everyone . By digging into the root of the human condition, this instant bestseller examines the single greatest threat to our own success: ourselves. This ambitious premise shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re familiar with the author. Dropping out of college at 19 to be mentored by business strategist Robert Greene, Holiday has become one of the most trusted advisors of our time, working with brands like Google, Taser, and Complex. His other bestseller, “The Obstacle Is the Way,” tackles the difficulties of the creative process and our natural tendency to avoid necessary steps toward our success. “Ego Is the Enemy” dives deeper into the latter concept, highlighting ways we sabotage or deceive ourselves. For Holiday, ego is defined loosely as our perception of self. Some may have a poorer outlook on themselves than others, but, as the book’s title suggests, ego hurts us regardless of which end of the spectrum we fall on. Holiday argues our self-perception can act as both a roadblock and a pitfall: Those with low self-esteem are stopped by doubt, while those with inflated egos often trip over their own arrogance. Those who unshackle themselves from their own


personal narratives, however, can find lasting success.

“Ego Is the Enemy” is rich with examples of this concept in action as it explores the lives and contributions of often overlooked historical figures like Katharine Graham and Howard Hughes. These powerful individuals remain relatively obscure thanks to their tendency to put their work before self-promotion, yet their impact on global events is undeniable.

Pulling from history, literature, and the latest psychological

findings, Holiday weaves an argument as engaging as it is thought- provoking. At times contemplative and other times combative, “Ego Is the Enemy” holds up a mirror to readers and asks them to challenge what they see. For those willing to attempt conquering themselves, this book is a worthy companion.


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