Daniel Nyiri is the founder and CEO of 4-U Fitness. A personal training studio franchise based in Tampa, Florida. Previously he was a professional hockey player, model, and certified personal trainer originating from Budapest in Hungary. In 2011, with just $150 in his pocket, not speaking English and nothing else to his name, he moved to the U.S. after two events changed his life forever. Daniel lost his grandparents to obesity and he suffered an injury severe enough to close the door to any potential future in hockey.
Now, instead of letting all that shatter his world, Daniel discovered a new purpose in life. And he decided to pursue a dream to change the world by reducing obesity, one person at a time. And by the way, that $150 that I mentioned, well that is now a one million-dollar fitness business. Here is my interview with Daniel Nyiri.
Chantal: Daniel, that is an incredible story. Now, we were having a chat last week and you said to me that you get up at 4:45 each morning and you read for two hours. And I believe it was about 12 months into owning your business that reading became part of your daily ritual, and it changed everything for you. Can you explain the effects reading has had on your business?
Daniel: Yes, definitely. And the cool thing is, I did not realize that I should read for a long period of time, so I would put it away and come up with excuses that I have time for it. But once I picked up and actually it was a…to be honest with you, when I thought of it, it was the Steve Job’s book when he passed away that made a huge change because it was a giant book and I read it, and what he went through and I was like, wow, if he did all that then I can do whatever I want also.
So, after that, I just learned how much he reads and how much he read. So, I just went into and started buying books that Steve Jobs was reading. So, I started doing all the things that he did, and I did the same thing with Elon Musk and picked people who are successful and set amazingly big goals. Even Tony Robbins is one of them to copy their habits. So, that’s basically what I did, I analysed their habits and how much they read and what they read. And I stumbled upon two books. One of them is The Key Person of Influence and the other one is The E-Myth.
The Key Person of Influence really showed me, how to become literally a key person influencing my industry where I am. And then, how I should go about growing my brand and then how to pitch myself. So I can be pitch-ready. And then E-Myth really showed me how to fire myself off literally everything in the business and it is a really cool book, it is a really good audiobook too.
I read it and actually listened to it because it really walks you though how to actually run the businesses instead of falling the business. But the number one take away that I would say about my reading every single day, because you know, people usually say, “Oh, it’s just a waste of time.” But usually, those people that say that are not successful or they haven’t read books for a long time. But the thing is that in the morning, when I stimulate my brain, literally like how you stimulate your muscles, they grow. So, when you keep stimulating your brain, you actually remember things easier, faster, I can quote things from lots books I read. I remember almost, like I’m at the point where I can literally remember word for word for some of the books at any page, not any page but the memorable things that I read. And the reason is that, because in the mornings, you’re sharp first thing in the morning, you’re literally when I realized that when I read, I really am stimulating my brain when reading. And then cool thing is that I get into that mood, I’m just really sharp for the rest of the day, probably all the way until late in the afternoon
And the book reading, it just completely changed the business and how I do business, like a 100% and just like you said, the growth is almost unmeasurable in a year to year basis.
Chantal: You know, I think it is interesting Daniel and I purposely mentioned that it was about twelve months in you implemented this ritual of reading. I think it is important for everyone to understand that in that early stages, you hadn’t learned about the importance of as you say, of firing yourself from the business. You were one of these people – like so many personal trainers are – that were hands-on in the business and felt that you needed to do absolutely everything in order to make ends meet and to run a successful business. So I wanted to make sure that everyone is aware that you didn’t go from a $150 to a million-dollar business overnight. It was really a learning process for you. So, I was hoping that you might be able to share from your experience, what are the top three things that every fitness professional should do before they open their very first studio.
Daniel: Definitely, yes and I’ve been there, so… to clarify that before I started making it, when I started firing myself, all the way up until that time, I tried to talk about it when I was working the five jobs at the same time. No sleep, no going out, no friends, no nothing at the very beginning just because I want to scale my business but I couldn’t scale it anymore because I reached a cap because I was working in the business instead of on the business.
And really…I mean, if you think about it, those two hours that I spent reading books, the very first time I felt so guilty because I was like, I could have done so much work. And then, I finally realized that was an investment and how much It actually helped me. Now, I can look back and I laugh about it. But back then, it was kind of tough.
And the three things that I would recommend is, first of all, a personal trainer should ask the questions, “Do I want to own a gym? Or I want to work in the gym?” And it’s the two things…it’s way different because usually what happens is, where the trouble starts is when clients, your friends, your family members start telling you how amazing you are at training clients, and you start believing them because you are amazing, that’s what you do. And then they tell you that you should open your own studio. So, that’s when you step in and open a studio and you have no idea what’s next. So, what’s next do is, first of all, read a great number of books on business, not fitness, on business because you already know fitness. I mean, I really hope so. But you should really focus on the business side of it. Especially if you haven’t read a single business book, you should probably start with accounting first and then, just to have the basics of it. And then, definitely getting to the E–Myth that I was talking about. It’s a must read book for literally anyone who wants to start their own business.
And then, once you read the E-Myth, you will actually decide by the end of the book if this is really for you or not. I mean, I 100% guarantee you that. And then, if you, I’m not really trying to sell my book but the thing is, in my book, I wrote it for personal trainers. I wrote it for myself, like in the past. So I wished I had that book to myself because it was really my pain that I turned around and put it into the book, to teach you literally what you need to do step-by-step. And that’s what I just put in there because I felt horrible about what I did and I need to tell the world. So, basically in the book, it goes through about that. And then, they really need to just learn and then hire a business coach or hang out with people who have already made it already in the fitness industry and they are successful owning, either fitness studios or at least businesses that is somewhat in the service Industry. So that you can relate to them. But they have to be successful. If they’re working in the business, here’s the thing, number one advice is, if the people that you are studying and they’re working in the business, you’re going to end up working in the business as well.
So, you must study a person who works on the business instead of in the business because he won’t tell you how to do that. Otherwise, you’re going to get stuck. Don’t believe the people that tell you, “You need to work in it and that kind of stuff.” Because that is not true. That’s what they want themselves. Don’t buy what they are selling. You can actually work on it.
Chantal: Daniel that’s really good advice. Is it more beneficial to have a mentor or a coach that is from within the industry or outside of the industry in your experience?
Daniel: That’s actually a really good question. It’s yes, definitely. It would be great. The idea is always of course if you find a person who has done what you want to do, which is kind of tough. But if someone is in the fitness industry, let’s say, my mentor would be, even though I don’t have one right now, who is in the fitness industry, but if I would find someone who let’s say opened up over a hundred studios like Starbucks but it’s fitness studios, then that would be my mentor.
However, it is not necessary the best thing to have it in the same industry because the people who have created successful businesses, just let’s go with my dream mentor will be actually Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO. He just actually stepped down. Because the reason why is because he built basically the same thing that I’m building meaning, each of their studios, I mean coffee shops are owned by the company, it is not a franchise so that’s what I want to do actually not in the long run, to have all of them corporately owned just like Tesla and Apple but Howard Schultz, his leadership, I read lots of his books, his leadership and how he built and how he cares about his employees and how he setup his whole business is someone who can 100% setup my own business, just because it’s not in the fitness industry, it still has the same exact concepts and core values in everything that they do.
So no, you don’t need the same person on the same industry, you see the same person that has done what you want to do and it’s just basically business. It speaks one language.
Chantal: I specifically want to tap in to your knowledge about books and ask you for your top three sales book recommendations that every fitness professionals should read.
Daniel: I would start with the toughest one to read. What I mean by that is it is a really tough book to read. If you don’t like Math, because you don’t have to like Math, you just have to know it because that is the main language of business. But when I gave it some of the CEOs who are good friends of mine, and when this book arrived, it was like 10 pm at night, and they would call me, and they we’re like “What the F is this?” It’s like a textbook. It’s actually…I don’t know if you haven’t heard of it already, it’s called Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. Did I say his name right? Would you like to make of sure of his name?
Chantal: Look, I say Verne Harnish, but between the two of our accents, we’re hopefully somewhere in between…it might be somewhere in between.
Daniel: Actually, if I would have a picture…for example in my… I have a giant monitor, which is 32 inches curved monitor and when I pull up my binder from that book, it is literally just numbers, you’ll get a headache. So you’re almost looking at a matrix. So, what I’ve learned from that book first, I got a path to measure my business and literally just look at the numbers and nothing else whatsoever.
When to hire, when to fire, when to buy something, when to not buy something, when to do this, when to expand, literally just by looking by the numbers. So easy, I can decide it in 5 minutes because I understand it from the book. It’s changed everything. So, when I looked back, once I was done with the book, I was like, let’s see if it’s true or not. So, I analysed my whole past. Even though you should have had it all analysed but I didn’t have it that time. So I analysed my whole past and I realized that I actually should not have done this and that and that and it all checked out. It was correct. So, I highly recommend that for that.
Chantal: So, Scaling Up by Verne Harnish and it is all about learning how to read the numbers within our business.
Daniel: And the second book would be of course, be my book because it is in the Fitness Industry and I have a giant sales process in it that was featured in a couple of magazines already which is FitBiz and I would recommend that just for the fitness people.
And for my third one, it will be Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone. It puts you in that mindset that you’re either just get by and do alright, so you become average just like everybody else. Or, you really get obsessed about your goals and what you want to accomplish. And you really go after them. And it might not sound like a sales book but it is a sales book. Because he is nothing else but sales. So Grant Cardone is anything about sales, sales and sales. And if you Google it, who is the number one sales person, he will come up as the number one sales person in Google. And all his books are all about sales. However, it has been told that you really have to put the work into it.
Chantal: And he is one of those examples of someone that is outside of the industry I should say because we’ve had the amazing Casey Conrad on the show many times, who is obviously a sales expert and very well known within the fitness industry but Grant Cardone is outside of the industry and he deals with all people from all different businesses, correct?
Daniel: Yes, that’s correct.
Chantal: And I might just jump back to your book FitBiz, Daniel. You mentioned that within that book you’ve got a detailed sales process outline. So, just to clarify, that is for fitness professional selling personal training or that is for fitness professionals selling gym memberships?
Daniel: It’s actually both. Well, it’s mainly for selling personal training. So it’s really about, that’s part or half of the beginning of the sales process. It’s just really how to make a sale. Not necessarily personal training group or a membership but since in our studio, we kind of have both even though we don’t have contracts, we just really have to get the person from body language, from language use, to creating a connection and all the way through from the first time you’re meeting, the phone calls, the script all the way till the end. You make the sale and have to remake that sale. So it’s all the way from the beginning to all the way to the end.
Chantal: Excellent, the complete process. Okay, so they are your top three sales book recommendations. Let’s go on to marketing. What are you top three for marketing?
Daniel: So, you’re going to like this. Have you ever heard of Blue Ocean Strategy?
Chantal: Yes, absolutely!
Daniel: Okay, so that’s my number one and favourite book in marketing.
Chantal: So, Daniel what would be the most important take-away from Blue Ocean Strategy?
Daniel: Oh yeah, it’s really that you should not compete on the let’s say the Red Ocean or the crowded market in the fitness industry. And I think we’ve talked about this and let’s say for example in Tampa, we have six to eight personal training studios in a five-mile radius on the same street that we are. So, as you can see, it’s a very very crowded market. And there is no point… I would have to mention, I’m not counting the medical weight loss clinics. I don’t know if you have any of those. But we have all these people trying to sell you pills. It doesn’t matter, anything for fat loss or weight loss.
You really can’t really beat out those people or companies because those are medical-weight loss clinics, so, they will spend a $100-$150 per click on every single one of their ads. So they surely will break you if you compete against them. So, what you need to do is, and what I’ve learned from it is that, you really need to go and create your own market. So you will target the people that need your help, which is above 95% of the market and the good news is there is only 5% of the people/competition who are targeting to those 95% of the people versus if you compete against them anyway with those weightloss clinics or other studios, you have 95% of those studios, gyms and every other personal trainer competing against the 5% of the people, who are already in pain and searching for your services. So, that is the number one take away that I got from that book.
Chantal: Great! Thank you so much for sharing that! Okay, so Blue Ocean Strategy is marketing book number one. What about two and three?
Daniel: The second one is a very old book. Well, I can confirm, I think it was like 20-30 years old. But it is The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. This is an interesting book because… and I can actually just go over my book shelf on my phone anyways because it will actually tell you the year that is written but the reason why I want to say this is because it’s an old book but it is still relevant and so, it was written in 1993.
Chantal: Oh, it’s not that old?
Daniel: Yeah, but if you think about marketing, it’s pretty old right? I mean Facebook, before the internet.
Chantal: You’re making me feel old
Daniel: If you open the book, you have like the picture of the Apple II in the middle of it. You know what I mean? So it is very old. I mean like old technology. But the point is in this book, if you want to know about advertising, and they really show a lot of companies in it like Coca Cola and Pepsi and all these, and how they made it. It’s a pretty amazing book to show you… to understand actual marketing and how to really setup your marketing campaign at the basics.
Chantal: That’s great! That a really important one, especially for people that need to gain a basic on the stand of marketing to get up and running. So, thank you for that.
And book number three recommended for marketing?
Daniel: And that would be, I Would Like The World To Buy a Coke. I know people in the fitness industry, might not like the title. But the reason why I love this book is because the CEO that was hired Roberto, I don’t think I’m going to…
Chantal: We’re not going to try and attempt that one?
Daniel: No, it’s just pretty bad. But I believe he’s from Colombia. There was a book I read a long long time ago, and the point is that he was hired, he was a very hardworker, and nobody knows who he is and eventually he became the CEO of Coca Cola and he changed everything about what we know about Coca Cola and at that time, it was good to know that Pepsi was taking over actually the whole market, and then he was like, “Okay, so I guess we cannot compete right now, so what we need to figure out is what people drink most of the day when they don’t drink a Coke besides Pepsi.” And then the answer, believe it or not was water. So, what they did is they created Nestle, and you know all these other companies and all the water bottles and Gatorades is Coca Cola products. So what he did is he created all these lines, and that is why the title was called I Would Like The World To Buy a Coke because he literally didn’t mean like Coca Cola, he means just the cola product, which is literally almost anything in the market right now. So that’s what they did.
Chantal: Very very interesting.
Daniel: And it just literally walks you through it. Yup.
Chantal: Daniel, we’ve covered off your top three recommendations for sales books, marketing books. Lucky last, how about leadership?
Daniel: Yes, my favourite concept. My absolute favourite that is the number one that I literally share to anyone and I was just reading it and showing it to lots of people is the Lincon on Leadership by Donald Phillips or something like that and this is just one of those books that really teach you the main concepts of leadership and the number one take away that I would say from this book that I’ve learned and use very single day now is that I let my employees to come up with their own ideas and I literally let them go with it and just guide them through it but keep them as their idea.
So, when they come to you and they say, “I have this amazing idea.” And then you tell them, “Well, that’s great but what I would also like you to do is to do this.” Then, it’s not their idea anymore. So, you literally hijacked it and they’re not going to be as excited so, you need to just take that idea away and you just guide them through the process. And then at the end, if they become successful, their idea goes through, then you take no credit whatsoever. You give them 100% of the credit. But if they fail, you don’t blame them, you blame yourself, a 100% as well. And that just creates an amazing leader in their eye. And then, you set them up for success as well
Chantal: Thank you very much for sharing that one. So, Lincoln on Leadership.
Daniel: Yes and the second one would be The Radical Leap by Steve Farber,
Daniel: It’s literally a must-read book to every manager, leader or business owner because it’s really easy and fun to read and it’s laid out strategically with a fun twist at the end. You have your needs that in life and in leadership and without pursuing those moments, you just can’t succeed in higher level and basically that is all it is. And it is all about the radical leadership – the leap.
Chantal: Tell me what’s your third recommendation is.
Daniel: It’s The Five Temptations of the CEO. And the reason why it’s my favourite is because if you as a personal trainer wants to own a gym and you want to read this book as you are about to become a leader because just like The Lincoln on Leadership, you really need to lead your team instead of running the business inside.
I know it’s tough but this book really goes through like the Five Temptations that will bring you back into the business or how would you manage the people. How you will say, that you finally step out and like you have two trainers and they’re amazing. And then, all of a sudden, they start messing up. So you’re just like going to step back into training again, which is one of the biggest mistakes. And this book just really walks you through it with an amazing story that you can live through. It’s like the whole book is literally about a CEO, who is about to have its quarterly meeting and he is scared, really really scared.. And he is just hopping on the train at night instead of driving home because he needs the time to think. And then he meets these five different CEOs on the train on the way home and they just go through this whole process and it’s just really amazing because while you’re reading it, you are almost like reading about yourself. So, it’s a really good book.
Chantal: Well, Daniel, this has been such a fascinating conversation. I know that I’ve now got a list of books that I need to go out and read. So I want to say thank you for sharing those with us. Because I have no doubt that it wasn’t easy to pick just three from each of those categories. So we could probably talk all day long. Or we may very well have to get you back on for some more recommendations in six month’s time. But thank you so much for sharing that with us. And it’s great to hear your journey that you went through and how learning and reading really changed your business around and if anyone wants to check out your website, your business, and grab a copy of your book, where should they go to do all of that?
Daniel: They can go to www.fitbizbook.com and that’s where they can see my book. Or they can just go to our main website, which is the www.4U-fitness.com.
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