Today we speak with supplement industry insider, Mike Matthews. He provides some great tips for spotting junk supplements and sketchy supplement companies. We also discuss the business of healthcare and supplements. Finally, we cover strategic tips for optimal body composition which is Mike’s area of specialty.
Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Well, it’s good to have you here my man. We’ve been chatting for a couple days now, and we’ve had some really good conversations. You seem to be a wealth of knowledge on everything from Rockefeller, all the way to training routines.
Mike Matthews: One of my favorite tyrants in history. Alexander the Great’s number one though.
DrMR: Yeah, he’s got a hard track record to match. There’s a lot that we can talk about. You obviously have lot of knowledge rolling around in your head, but you seem to have built up some really impressive businesses related to health. And I thought it might be interesting to talk about lessons that you’ve learned in building health and fitness businesses, cause I know we have a lot of people in our audience who are in that space, or trying to get into that space. And then it also might be interesting for the consumer just to realize like, “Hey, if you found someone who you really like, support them. Don’t just go buy something on Amazon because it’s not easy.”
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Dr. R’s Fast Facts Summary
How to spot sketchy supplements
- Be wary of the lowest cost supplements and the highest priced supplements.
- Look at formulations, make sure there are no “proprietary blends”
- There is no way to tell how much of each ingredient is in a “proprietary blend”
- Look at who is coming up with these formulations and who owns the company
Red flags for supplement shopping
- If a company sells “testosterone boosters” don’t buy anything from them
- Companies that sell a lot of weight loss supplements – raspberry ketones, garcinia cambogia, etc.
- Greens supplements/powders that claim to replace your daily servings of veggies and fruit
Protein powder buying tips
- Look at the serving size in grams compared to how much protein you are getting in grams, if there is a 10-15 gram variance, there are too many fillers involved
- A very low-cost whey protein is likely very low quality
Tips for practitioners building a business
- Become a good marketer
- Focus on your message and deliver it authentically
- Try IQ and aptitude tests for hiring
- Coach your first clients for free and ask for testimonials in exchange for services
- Speak with people one on one
- Use Streak for email efficiency
Where to learn more about Michael Mathews
- Get help using this information to become healthier.
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing your gut health with my new book.
- Healthcare providers looking to sharpen their clinical skills, check out the Future of Functional Medicine Review Clinical Newsletter.
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DrMR: And sometimes the owner of an operation goes years and years and years without even getting paid or paid barely anything. And so, we shouldn’t just think because someone’s out there with a big website and Instagram following, that they’re always crushing it. These people do need support, and I think sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that. So, can you tell us a little bit first about your businesses? I know you have five or six books out and a few other things, so give us the purview.
Bigger Leaner Stronger
MM: So where things stand right now is I have a number of books that are popular. I’ve sold over a million books since self-publishing my first back in 2012, which is called Bigger Leaner Stronger. That was the first book, it’s a fitness book for men.
DrMR: But you also followed with one for women, just to make sure you don’t leave them out.
MM: Yes. Thinner Leaner Stronger is for women. And the reason why that came about is Bigger Leaner Stronger I kind of wrote on a lark. I had a previous life, a previous business and I wrote it as kind of like a nights and weekends thing. And it was just a book that I wished somebody would have given me back when I was like 17 or 18, and so it’s very specific. The title makes that clear. So, women though would read the book and what was happening is they would write me, cause I put an email address in the book in case people wanted to contact me. And they would say, “Hey, I really like this. It sounds like I could do this as well. Can I?” And I would have kind of a copy paste, a longish response to clarify some things that, “Yes on the dietary side of things, our metabolic machinery works in the same way. There are some differences that you need to understand. And on the training side of things, the program that’s in the book has a bit more volume for the upper body than you probably would care about.” Because for most guys, it’s gonna take a lot more volume in our upper bodies for us to be happy than our lower bodies. At least for most guys, right?
Eventually, I was like, “Okay, I need to actually write a book for women.” So, I took Bigger Leaner Stronger and just tried to differentiate as much as I can. And now, I’m actually releasing new third editions in the next couple of months of these books, which I’m really excited about cause I rewrote them from scratch. Just because I’d written the second additions about four years ago, and I’m a better writer now. I’m kind of that person too, who if I’m not happy with something, it’s like, “Okay, I just have to redo this.” And the information is good currently, and then obviously their success is a testament to their value. But these new ones are gonna be extra valuable, and really even more differentiated. Because it also helps that I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from women. I can’t think of everything that could throw people for a loop, or what about this, or what about that. And so, that’s why the book came about. I was like, “Okay, I need to give women their own book.” And they also need their own program, which the volume is flipped. Where most woman it’s gonna take more work to get the lower bodies they want, not their upper bodies, right? So that’s why that came about. And I did a cookbook, and I’ve done other things. So that’s the book side of things. Then, along the way, I started a supplement company, which is called Legion.
DrMR: So, real quick before you go to supplements because I just wanna take this for the audience. So, you just got done doing the audiobook read. And that was 80 hours? For one book?
MM: Well, for both. So it was 80 hours in the chair, which we produced. Both of the audiobooks are about 20 hours I think. The guy who’s like putting it all together hasn’t been-
DrMR: What’s the word count for both of them? Gonna try and compare it to the sessions I have coming.
MM: 100,000 to 110,000 words, so yeah.
DrMR: Right. So for our audience, the reason why there’s been a delay in me getting the audiobook out is it’s 80 hours, unfortunately.
MM: And I’m gonna say, one of the reasons why I took a little bit longer is because that served as my final draft as well. Cause I wrote the books in Google Docs, so one file per chapter. And so as I’m reading, inevitably I’m kinda-
MM: Yeah, I’m just like, “Nah, I don’t like how that sounds.”
DrMR: So maybe I’ll get out at 60. Still, that just struck me. Oh man, that’s gonna be a long few weeks. But anyway, so you have this supplement company.
MM: Yeah exactly, and that was kind of a scratch my own itch thing as well actually. Where there was a point where it was clear that I was getting sold supplements all the time, and there wasn’t anything out there that I particularly liked in terms of an individual company. And I thought, “What if I could make the …”
DrMR: What were some of the things that you were finding challenging about not being able to find a supplement you could point to?
MM: It’s not that big of a deal, right, because supplements aren’t that important. You don’t need them at all. You don’t need it as far as workout goes.
DrMR: Yeah, they’re not the foundation.
MM: Not at all, yeah. They’re supplementary by definition, so it was more that I saw an opportunity to … I’m interested in more than just body composition, cause there’s not that much you can do with body supplementation. Obviously Creatine works, we know that. There’s some good evidence that Beta-Alanine can help in similar ways, it’s not as effective as Creatine. And Citrulline is also interesting in that it can probably help you accumulate more volume.
DrMR: Is it vasodilatory also? Do you find…
MM: Yes, there’s that, but then it also looks like it can help you accumulate a bit more volume over time. So, there are a few interesting things, right. On the fat loss side of things, you have caffeine of course. Although as you become more desensitized it loses its fat burning effects, or it loses its fat loss effects so you have to pay attention to that. You have synephrine, you have Yohimbine, a few things that are interesting, but not that many. As far as health goes, as you know this is something, now getting into your sphere of things, there are a lot of things neat molecules and neat things that you’re not really gonna get from your diet, that you can supplement with. Like Spirulina is a cool molecule, there’s a lot of cool things in the body.
So that was how the supplement business started. And I have a working knowledge of supplementation, I can say things and I know some things, but I wanted to get someone who really knew this. And I wanted to give them also money to work with, and essentially just spend more than most companies spend on products. This gets into just some general business. Something to consider if you have a cost of goods business, is, and I didn’t understand this early on and now I’m painfully aware of it, is that product margins are obviously very important, but your standard cost of goods business, whether it’s selling some shoes, or supplements, or whatever is I would say, if you’re marking up five times from your cost to MSRP, that’s pretty good. That’s okay. That’s pretty standard.
Anything below that, it starts getting worse, you get above that it starts getting better. And so the problem there though is with supplements, if you wanna have a very profitable business, you’re probably looking at more like an eight times mark up. And you can’t make good supplements with an eight times mark up. You can’t. You can’t make a good anything. Maybe you can make a vitamin D pill, or something, maybe. Even then, probably not, cause it’s so commoditized.
DrMR: Because you can’t get a consumer to spend more than x, so the only way you take out of that margin is by decreasing what you have available for the goods itself.
MM: The prices are obviously fairly inelastic, especially with again very commoditized supplements.
DrMR: Which is also … and I’m curious to get your thoughts on this. But I’d be careful of the most expensive supplements, but also the cheapest supplement. Because one’s probably gouging you but the other’s probably just cutting some pretty bad corners to cut.
MM: Yes, that’s a good point and that’s very true. So, when I was getting into it, I was looking at this and going, if this means that I played the standard supplement game, which is make shitty products and just lie essentially. And you just pixie dust them with some things, and you go, “Oh look it has this. And look at all this research. Please don’t look at the dosages.” And I didn’t wanna do that, just wasn’t interested in that. So to do things the way I wanted to, it meant that the business wasn’t gonna be as profitable as other supplement businesses. And what that means though is that I’m not gonna have the advertising dollars to go toe-to-toe with some of these other businesses. And there’s very much a science to advertising, and one of the big things of advertising is repetition, repetition, repetition.
DrMR: Which costs money, every rep costs money.
MM: Exactly. And also, you have to be able to front money that doesn’t necessarily … a lot of people, we can get into some marketing stuff if you’d like, but it isn’t one of the lessons I’ve learned. But with advertising, you have direct sales, you do have that direct marketing click, buy now. But what you see in the world of advertising is not direct … like you see a weird Geico commercial, and you go, “That was weird.” Of course, they don’t think you’re gonna pick up the phone and call Geico. What they want is, they want to be at the top of your ladder, in your mind, of insurance companies.
So, maybe three months later, you’re like, “Maybe I should get another insurance quote.” when you think of Geico, right? So you need money to spend for all that repetition. It may not pay off the first six months, eight months. Standard practice is to assume that it takes about six months to see a return on advertising dollars traditionally spent. So getting into that, I was like, “Okay, but I can use my platform as an author and content creator, and I’m gonna essentially pay myself way under market rate. For if I were to go whore myself out to some other supplement company, I could get a lot more money, but I’ll do it this way.” So that was about 2014.
DrMR: As you’re building, right?
MM: Exactly. And fortunately, the message and how I’ve gone about it, and it’s not just me, I have a whole team of people, but so how we’ve gone about it has resonated, and Legion is doing quite well.
DrMR: So, one quick point that I just wanna point out for the consumer, which is just because you see a supplement, and I would also argue a test everywhere, doesn’t mean it’s good. And I’m really glad you made the point that if you cut on quality you have more for marketing. It’s really important I think, that the healthier consumer be aware of the fact that just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good. And there’s some lab companies that this is really starting to just ruffle my feathers because you’re seeing certain labs everywhere, and essentially I think they’re trying to buy their way into the market. And it doesn’t mean they’re bad per se, but I’d be careful because like you’re saying, a company only has so much money. If a company is putting all their money into advertising … and for our clinicians, I commented on one supplement in our clinicians newsletter, and I criticized them because they’ve put a lot of money into marketing, yet they don’t have one clinical trial published yet. So, yeah, I think that’s a good point to be aware of. Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean –
MM: Yeah, take Garcinia Cambogia. That’s probably the most popular weight loss supplement of modern times. Not of all times. And it does nothing, it doesn’t work. We know that now, period. So, yes, that’s absolutely true. So then that’s the supplement side of things, and it’s grown and it’s doing well. And profitability will always be an issue for that business if we look at it strictly by business standards. When you talk to a businessman and they just go, “Show me the numbers.” If they’re seeing anything less than 15% EBITA, they’re gonna go, “Ew.”
DrMR: Can you break down EBITA for people?
MM: Oh, earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes. It’s best profit, just profit. Basically when it’s all said and done what … and think of it this way, if you own the business, what’s left for you to take when it’s all said and done?
DrMR: But that’s being compared, it sounds like, to an unfair field where the standard is kind of a crappy product with a lot of marketing. Would you agree?
MM: Absolutely. Yeah, that is the supplement space just summed up, right? So, as a consumer, you should very skeptical of supplement companies. And I’ve written about little criteria as a consumer. Heres what I recommend.
MM: So like for example, I think that you should look at their formulations and make sure that they’re not proprietary blends, so-
DrMR: Well, why is that?
MM: Because proprietary blends are bull****.
DrMR: They’re just hiding behind that for crap?
MM: Absolutely. So what that allows you to do, so a proprietary blend for some of your listeners who aren’t familiar with it, it is a … and in some supplements, you’ll see. It’s where instead of listing each ingredient and listing the dosage of each, it’s a what the usually call “The blah blah blend.”
DrMR: It’s a paragraph, and you don’t know how much milligram is in each one.
MM: Yeah, they’ll tell you how much the blend weighs but not each ingredient, and those ingredients are listed by predominance by weight. So the top ingredient is number one by weight. The second is number two, however, what that means is that the first ingredient could be 98% of the blend, and there could be one milligram of all the rest.
DrMR: Thank you, that’s a really insightful point. I never really put those together like that, but that’s a front for doing whatever you want. And they market that probably, right? “Our proprietary blend,” so it’s like a double scam.
MM: Yeah, it’s like gas lighting actually, right? It’s like just putting your light in their face and telling them that you’re not seeing what you’re seeing. But if I was sitting here with somebody who sells stuff with proprietary blends, they’d say, “Well, no, it’s because we need to protect our proprietary research.” That is false because all the research is publicly available. They’re not doing their own research.
DrMR: What research are they gonna take it from? Everything reputable is gonna to be published in the journal that goes through peer review. And if it’s not gonna go through peer review, it’s probably shady anyway, so.
MM: Exactly. And then if they even try to say, “Well, it’s our dosages of these ingredients.” Yeah, no it’s not. That’s also just in the research, what are you talking about? And especially again with the resources, like examine.com, which I recommend to anybody who’s interested in the science of supplementation, has made it very accessible to anybody who is scientifically inclined. So, that you can go find out the dosages right there. You can read about it. So that’s something, look for proprietary blends. Another thing is look for who is behind the formulations, and who is creating these things. And the reason why I say that is because what happens … and I’m speaking more for the sports nutrition space, I don’t know if this is also true in your space, but many sports nutrition brands, what they do is you have a person, usually some bodybuilder guy or whatever. And he has some money, and he goes to a manufacturer, contract manufacturer, and he says, “Yo, I want a pre-workout.” And they go, “Cool. We have this off the shelf piece of crap that costs $6 a bottle.” And he’s like, “Yeah cool, give me that.”
MM: So, that’s also something I’ve been cognizant of, in even building Legion. So, like I’ve said, I’ve given credit to Curtis, and I also have a scientific advisory board of a number of people that previously haven’t been associated with supplement companies. They’re known in the evidence-based fitness space. I don’t know if you’ve heard of people like Dr. Eric Helms, or Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, or Menno Henselman.
DrMR: Nadolsky I’ve heard about, yeah.
MM: Okay, so a number of people and it’s fun to watch cause Curtis is kind of like he heads the research, but then they have discussions on like, “Okay we’re looking at this. We’re looking to update a formulation if this.” So I rarely have anything honestly useful. Every once in a while-
DrMR: Quick side note. How well do you know Nadolsky?
MM: Fairly well.
DrMR: Will you connect us after, because we had a back and forth on Facebook. I wanna make sure it’s the same guy, he’s a MD endocrinologist? Is it the same Nadolsky?
MM: No, I think it’s his brother.
DrMR: Oh, it’s his brother?
MM: Yeah, yeah. I think Spencer’s brother … cause they’re both MDs but I believe his brother is the endo.
DrMR: Okay, because we had a back and forth about an article I wrote about Graves about natural therapies. And he was kind of politely and inquisitively questioning. Which I totally understand, and I’ve been wanting to kind of have that … not a debate, but polite conversation with him. That might be a really fun podcast, so.
MM: I’ll put you in touch with Spencer, and he’ll get you in touch with his brother.
“…do you trust the company because it’s very easy to obfuscate with big words and citing scientific research. Where if you’re not, as a consumer, if you can’t vet that information yourself, you are just trusting that you’re not being mislead.”
MM: So that’s another thing, look at who is coming up with these formulations. And in most cases, they never talk about that. And also look at who owns the company and check this person out, do you know what I mean? And see … because in many cases you’ll go and look, and if they’re doing decently well, you’re just gonna see like Ferraris and Rolexes and shit. And that’s cause that’s what a lot of it is about, especially in the sports nutrition space, right? And so get your sense of, does this seem like an honest upright person? If not, nah. And the reason why I’m kind of personalizing it is in the end, it is a lot about do you trust the company because it’s very easy to obfuscate with big words and citing scientific research. Where if you’re not, as a consumer, if you can’t vet that information yourself, you are just trusting that you’re not being mislead.
Red Flag Supplements
MM: And another thing is that there are certain products that I say are just red flag products. So like if a company sells a testosterone booster, don’t by anything from that company, for example. There are no natural supplements that are going to make any difference that you could honestly sell as a testosterone booster. You could make a slight argument for maybe diasporic acid, and-
DrMR: We’re talking about like maybe 10%?
MM: Yeah, I mean there was one study that went as high as about 43% or something like that, but it’s short-lived. That’s the thing, you’re talking about two or three weeks. So cool, that’s the best you’re gonna … yeah, it’s the best you can hope for, is something that actually is significant. Now, of course, everything is on a bell curve, right? So, you may not respond really much at all to it, but either way, it’s gonna be short lived. You can’t just supplement with it and permanently have even 20% higher testosterone levels, right? And then these types of products always include stuff like Tribulus Terrestris, worthless. You just go down the list of ingredients and they either have been proven not to work, or there’s no human evidence. It’s like, “Well, in the animal model.”
DrMR: That’s why I love you man because we think the same way.
MM: We’re just big rats, right? We share about 98% of DNA, or whatever it is.
DrMR: And would you say the same things if they have a lot of weight loss supplements it’s probably similar? They’re just pandering to what people will spend the most on and what people are most interested in?
MM: Yeah. So if they sell … now I have two fat loss products that are different. One contains Yohimbine, that’s the primary ingredient. Yohimbine is a neat molecule, there is good research on it, and it’s particularly useful with … I mean you have to be in a fasted state, but it’s a neat thing for very specific use.
DrMR: Appetite suppressant right?
MM: Yeah, as well. Anything that raises catecholamine levels is gonna reduce appetite.
DrMR: I actually read a study on it recently. Yohimbe being paired with arginine for erectile function.
MM: Yeah, that makes sense. It also has that side effect of harder erections, so. That’s better when you’re cutting too when you have less sex drive. But yes, I agree. I would say by ingredients, so if they sell something with Garcinia Cambogia, walk away. If its raspberry ketones walk away. There are a number of very popular fat loss ingredients that don’t do anything. I would say the ones that are in, for example, the primary drivers in mine I mentioned Yohimbine, and the other are synephrine. Which works, there’s no question. Its-
DrMR: What’s synephrine?
MM: Oh, well, it’s kind of like a natural analog to ephedrine. So it has similar effects in the body, it’s just not as strong. But there’s some recent research that you can read about on the sales page. That’s also something I try to do, is really educate people on my sales pages, as this is what you’re getting and here’s why it’s in the product, and here’s the dosing and here’s the study so that you can look at this stuff yourself. Is there a couple other similar molecules that are in the bitter orange fruit, hesperidin and naringin, that when paired with synephrine they have a synergistic effect. And when you pair it with caffeine, it’s even more synergistic.
So, it’s very fair to say that you could burn up to an extra 150 calories a day with a moderate dose of caffeine and a few of these other molecules. Which is cardio, it’s actually significant. So fat loss products are not bad per se, but that’s where being a little bit more informed as a consumer is important. So there’s a number of things to look for with supplement companies.
DrMR: Yeah, the proprietary blend, God that’s still resonating in my head. It’s such a good insight to be cautious of. Any others that … and you said the fat loss supplement have a few products.
MM: A testosterone booster. I personally take greens, supplements. I have a greens supplement, but it’s not … What I don’t like with green supplements is, if you have a greens supplement that is just powdered vegetables, powdered fruit and then, oh, enzymes, probiotics. That is a red flag to me because I know that those are very cheap products to produce, and I actually think you’re doing people a disservice when you’re like, “oh, just have a scoop of this powder and vegetables. Who needs vegetables?” That’s stupid. You can’t, from a nutritional standpoint at least, I don’t think you can just replace food with powders, and then just … “if it fits my macros”, kind of approach.
That’s another product that is a red flag. Let’s take protein powders, it’s smart to I think, look at the serving size, and compare it in … so it’s going to be in grams in weight, to how many grams of protein are in the in each serving, because if there’s a big discrepancy there, what is all that extra? What is that?
DrMR: I actually wanted to ask you about excipients. Do you find that it’s hard to get the excipient amount low with the manufacturers that you use? Or the distributors, or packers, or however you want to term it?
MM: Yeah, though need to have some, obviously. It is what it is, and I’ve actually spoken to the manufacturer about basically anything in addition to just the core ingredients and trying to keep them as low as possible, so I haven’t run into any issues with that. No. Again, I’m also relying not just on this-
DrMR: But you had to request it. It wasn’t something that you-
MM: Yeah. We’ve spoken about that … for example, the use of maltodextrin to improve the taste, take Whey, because Whey doesn’t taste very good in its raw state obviously. That’s okay. I’m fine with that, but it, unfortunately, means I have to list maltodextrin on, and then… This is a different discussion, but I call companies out for including something cheap like maltodextrin. I know it’s not an excipient, but I’m just using an example of an extra ingredient that is tasty, and cheap and whatever. But there are one or two grams per serving. But to answer your question, no it hasn’t. I think my manufacturer has been good in that regard. I’ve had no issues where it’s been … it has not been like it’s clearly I don’t want that in there, so we need to use something else. There’s been a soy lethicin which again, is not a big deal. But unfortunately people just see soy, and the and they go, “ugh,” so now we switched to a sunflower lethicin. There have been little things but nothing major.
DrMR: Look for the gram compared to the serving size?
MM: You want them to be similar. They’re never going to be the same, and-
DrMR: Let’s say they’re going to look for a vegetable protein and a Whey protein. If they’re trying to do this test at home, take them through the process.
MM: Let’s just start. The first thing is, let’s look at price. Especially with Whey, or let’s just say any protein. If you feel like, “oh this is a steal”, it’s almost guaranteed because it’s just a low-quality product, period. With the price of Whey, if you want high-quality Whey it is expensive, and it’s continued to go up, so what-
DrMR: Just for the audience, when I was looking for Whey proteins for our store, I looked hard to find a good company that had a Whey protein that was less expensive, and I just could not do it.
MM: It’s expensive and I pay a premium for … the Whey that I get comes from Ireland, it comes from … it’s very high-quality dairy, and you can actually taste it and feel it. It’s very different than Opti Nutrition’s Whey, for example, although ironically the farms are owned by Glanbia, which owns Optimum Nutrition, but it is what it is. It’s expensive and I’m going to be able to sell a 2.2 pound tub of that for $25. I would probably lose money actually.
DrMR: But some people do, and that that’s one of the ways I’ve really come to avoid certain companies, because you just see … and it’s ironic these companies are the companies that some people love to use, because everything is so cheap, but once you learn about a couple of these supplements and then you use them as proxies, you’re like, “okay, this company is just cutting huge corners.” Because you have a 2.2 pound tub for 30, 35 bucks. Then the one I’m using, I can’t get that below like 60, or in that realm, and there’s gotta be a reason.
MM: I would say, just to that point, $35 price point could work. That actually could be … when I say high quality, I would say it’s not going to be organic, that is another price tier, but you actually could, if you’re willing to take low margins, you could sell a 100% Whey isolate for $35. Your margins aren’t gonna be great. You could do it. It depends on volume and so forth, but yes, if you want to go maximum quality, then it gets very expensive. I’ve gone with again, a high-quality Whey isolate, and it’s … all of my stuff is naturally sweetened and flavored, which makes it more expensive actually. Some of the flavor systems alone in some of my products are up to $5 a bottle just to make it taste good, whereas if I were to go artificial it … from a business perspective, this makes no sense, but it just is what it is. It could be 50 cents to maybe a dollar, and just think about that when you’re moving a lot of bottles, that really adds up. But that was part of what I wanted myself. I’m not an alarmist about artificial sweeteners, or food dyes, or flavoring. That’s probably completely benign, but this is more your realm, but from my understanding of things, there’s probably an argument could be made, that having too many of these chemicals can be a problem, and if too regularly. It’s not hard to reach a relatively high-level intake. Especially with guys who are using four scoops of protein a day pre workout. Maybe they’re double dosing it some days, post workout. Let’s just start there, and that’s just their baseline. And sometimes maybe they’re drinking BCAAs all day as well.
DrMR: A few other things on top of that.
MM: Exactly, then maybe they chew gum, and maybe they drink some soda.
DrMR: This is why I think clean supplements are so important, especially if you’re going through a healthcare journey, and you’re taking maybe three, or four, or five, or six, seven things at the same time. All those excipients, and fillers, and colorings, those add up and … for my audience, we really try to keep things as clean as possible because a lot of them have sensitive guts.
MM: That’s the approach I’ve taken, simply because I thought it’s the right approach, really. That’s what I would want for my own body. Back to the proteins. Price is a thing. If it’s way underpriced, let’s say if it’s a 2.2 pound tub of Whey protein for $20, beware. Because I get contacted by Chinese manufacturers, or suppliers all the time where I could cut my way costs in more than half … by more than half actually if I didn’t care. If I just got protein from China and don’t test it. Another thing I could do is immuno spiking, which is … what that is, is when you look at the nutrition facts panel, the supplement facts panel-
DrMR: The cheapest amino acid, you just water it down.
MM: Exactly. To claim 20 grams of protein per serving, you don’t have to prove that it’s 20 grams of protein. You just have to prove that the nitrogen content is commensurate with what you’d expect, or is equal to what you’d expect from that on protein, because proteins are obviously very nitrogen rich. What you can do is, and companies do this, this is very common. You put 10 grams of protein in the product per serving, and then you fill the rest up to hit your nitrogen requirement with a cheap nitrogen-rich amino acid like glycine.
Glycine tastes good too. It’s sweet, so you even get that benefit. That’s very common. I know my manufacturer, for example, one of the reasons I like them is they have integrity, and I pay a premium to be with them, but they’re a good company. They were working with a very big supplement company, and they refused to run their protein because they were insisting on immuno spiking. My manufacturer was like, “we’ll run this stuff … we’ll run this other stuff, but that, we’re not doing that”, so they had to go elsewhere for it.
Unfortunately as a consumer there’s no way to know if a product has been immuno spiked. However, if it’s on the way cheap end for the quality of whatever they’re claiming it to be, that’s a red flag. Again, that comes back to some of these personal … do you trust this brand? Do you trust these people? Because that’s what it comes down to. That’s important as well, and then there’s also the serving size points. Looking again at how many grams of proteins … because that’s what we’re buying it really. Sometimes it also helps highlight for people how many carbs are in each serving, how much fat is in a serving. For me, I want to eat my carbs and fat. If I’m having a protein powder it’s really just out of convenience. I want protein.
DrMR: You don’t want to drink them. Is there a scoop to a certain gram of protein that you’re looking for, and if it’s underneath a certain amount, does that tell you it’s filled with some-
MM: Well, again, what I look at is how many grams of protein is in the serving, and how large is the serving in grams. If you have 20 grams of protein in a serving, but the serving is 34, 40 grams, what else is in there?
DrMR: You’re looking for the gram-to-gram to be fairly-
MM: Fairly. It’s got to be comparable, again, because … speaking to this point, there are some additional … my protein has about one gram of maltodextrin per serving because it cuts the bitterness of Whey very well. Also, the flavor system has a weight to it, so it’s never going to match perfectly, but if there’s a big discrepancy, you have to wonder what else is in here.
DrMR: What would you say if you’re above this, it’s big?
MM: I would say a discrepancy of probably five to eight grams is reasonable. You start getting to 10 to 15 plus grams and now you’re … you should be wondering what that is. From there it’s really … it gets into more of your realm of how do you feel when you … because low quality Whey proteins will upset many people’s stomachs. I know that firsthand because we hear from a lot of customers who write us to say this is the first … my Whey is the first way they’ve been able to use that doesn’t upset their stomach or just doesn’t make them feel off. That also is an easy feedback mechanism of, how do I feel? Do I feel good? Is my stomach upset? Am I getting gassy? That’s an example.
DrMR: Are those a couple of the most salient things from that checklist of things to be wary?
MM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
DrMR: I’m curious to see if there are any important lessons that you’ve learned for practitioners going into this space. I know it’s a really broad question, but you’ve had a pretty extensive and broad experience, what are a couple of things that you’ve learned that you think for someone who’s trying to establish a business, and I get a lot of these people will be clinicians, but some supplements that are used as part of these practices, or for businesses. What have you learned? What’s insightful?
MM: I think actually something that’s very useful that is … and I’ve seen this firsthand, is become good at marketing. I’ve actually spoken with a number of people like you, practitioners and clinicians who do exactly what you want to do, and they don’t want to become good marketers. They want to stick to what they’re good at, and not give marketing much attention. Even in many cases, marketing leaves a bad taste in their mouth because they-
DrMR: Which I understand, because there’s a lot of sketchy marketers. You feel like you’re taking away from the purity of being a clinician, so I get that perspective, but … continue your point because I think it’s a good one.
MM: However, that is the game. If you’re going to have a business, you’re going to have to sell things, and that’s the art of selling at a distance, it is marketing. Marketing is also … it encompasses branding as well, which is very important, and a big point of that is first impression, or even the name of the line, the name of the products, the look, who are you trying to appeal to.
Again, there’s a whole art and science to marketing, and getting … I think one of the things that I’ve done well is I really enjoy marketing. I’ve spent a lot of time studying marketing, and doing marketing, and made different types of marketing, and that is one of the reasons why I sell a lot of things. I sell a lot of books, I sell a lot of supplements, I sell a lot of … we have a coaching program, and meal plans and stuff like that. You can do marketing in an honest … you can be honest. You don’t have to be dishonest. Have a good product, that’s the first thing.
If you have a product that you can really stand behind, then in some ways it sells itself, which is never … that’s never the case, but if this product is really good, I just need to communicate it in a way that the average person will see that and see the value.
DrMR: Let’s go into a few things there, because marketing, I think erroneously so, sometimes carries this negative connotation where you’re selling yourself out, and you do see some doctors on there, where you get to the video, and it’s like, “hey, are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Doctor Jeffery is here, you can …” It’s like, what are you doing? You don’t have to go into the tone and demeanor of a used car salesman. As you’re saying this, I’m actually … I’m thinking about myself where … and I’m curious to get your perspective on this. I never really looked at what I’ve been doing as marketing and but it is. This may be helpful for the audience, where I just wanted to get the word out about what I was doing and share an important message. For me, I was just trying to pursue, how do I reach people with this? You could look at that as marketing because getting your messages to people is marketing. But I think for the people listening to this, maybe a way of framing it that would make it easier to connect to would be, you don’t have to sign up with the sketchy sales guy, and do all this weird stuff that you don’t want to do. But, let’s just find vehicles for you to tell people who you are, what you’re doing, how you can help and what you’re excited about in a genuine way. As I started doing that, I noticed I got really busy in multiple ways.
It turns out that if you have … A, I think you need to have a good message. You can’t take a turd, wrap it in tin foil and then sell it as earrings. You have to have a good product or good message. I would say that step one is make sure you have a good message. Not a perfect message, because that’s the other thing you have to contend with, is some people will never feel good enough and they never execute. I like the saying, “ready, fire, aim”. You got to fire at some point, you can aim along the way. Get a decent message-
MM: Just to inject there. There’s a good book called Ready, Fire, Aim that has quite a bit of good marketing advice, and also just business building advice by Michael Masterson. I think it’s actually a pen name for the guy’s real name, but I don’t know if I honestly believe all of his claims and his boasts in there, but it’s good information nonetheless.
DrMR: I think it’s something that I had to fumble through some marketers, and then be like, “okay, you know, what? Screw all these guys. I’m going to find someone who just seems to be practical, and humble, and help me with just some basic ways of disseminating my message.” Again, I didn’t really even ever look at it as marketing, but it really was a form of marketing.
MM: What we’re doing right now is marketing. This is content marketing.
DrMR: But I think there needs to be more of us out there to contend with the people who have a bad message, and all they do is marketing, because those doctors I think, have predominated, unfortunately.
MM: They made a bunch of money, which becomes self-reinforcing because then they can spend more money…
DrMR: Yes, we need to turn this tide. It’s really incumbent upon the audience to really start stepping up and sharing a good virtuous message-
MM: As opposed to saying … well, this complaining and waiting for someone else to step in. This is where we can become market forces and correct things. There’s also something to keep in mind, is that there will always be a market for hucksters because you have people that go through a life cycle in terms of market awareness. You have people that get in when they come in initially to something. Let’s just say it’s weight loss. So, you have someone where they’re like, “all right, I’m sick of being overweight, I want to lose 30 pounds”, and they start poking around online and like, “Garcinia Cambogia pills, Dr Oz says they’re amazing. You can lose 30 pounds in 30 days.” That sounds a bit extreme, but who knows? Yeah. Who knows? And you go, “who cares? $40, might as well”, and then they do it and they don’t lose any weight or whatever, and they go, “hmm”. Then maybe they go for another magic bullet and that doesn’t work. There’s a point where now they go to the next phase, they’re getting a little more skeptical, and when somebody is claiming anything like that, they’re immediately like, “no, that’s not for me”, and they then start finding their way toward more reasonable avenues.
DrMR: That’s where I think the pendulum has swung in my area of functional medicine, I think people no longer trust these extreme and lofty claims. I think that’s one of the reasons why my message has been well received is, it’s just reasonable, and I think people are looking for that reasonable, trustworthy message. Maybe this is the most marketable message now.
MM: Even if it’s not, if we look at it in absolute terms, we are serving and it’s the same thing in my space. My lane is health and fitness, and I focus on body composition, and just helping everyday people get into shape, and I’m not making crazy promises. I’m saying … and I’m actually saying this with enthusiasm to a guy, but I’m saying, “okay, normal guy, you can gain up to maybe 25 pounds of muscle in your first year of proper training. Let’s say 15 to 25 depending on how your body responds.” I can say that, and that’s pretty cool. If you think of a pound of muscle as a big steak and that’s actually a lot of lean mass. But is it 50 pounds? No. Is it 25 pounds in three months? No. Some people, my message isn’t quite … it’s not going to resonate with them because they’re like, “that sounds like too much work. I want to go do the max OT shred program or something.
Eventually, again, those people find their way, so there may always be that market there for the quick fixes, and the hacks. But I think also with the increasing availability of information because of stuff like this, thanks to the internet primarily, you can help move people. You’re in the beginning, you can do all this stuff here in the beginning, you can learn how of that works, or listen to me for just five minutes, and let me say that we could just skip that. You’re gonna find your way to me anyway. That’s the type of marketing that I focus on.
DrMR: Do you think that the younger generations are less quick fix driven? Do you think the quick fix marketing has been so pervasive that now it’s becoming more commonplace that people are looking for reasonable perspectives? Do you have any gauge on that?
MM: I don’t. I don’t think I have an intelligent answer to that. My following, I have a lot of … I have a fair amount of people in their 20s, but I also have a lot of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and that’s probably because I’ve built my base primarily with books, and … your everyday person … think I saw a survey, the average person … I don’t even know if they finish one book a year, so … seriously. If you have someone who’s willing to sit down and go through 100,000 words on something, and actually do something with it, that’s a different person, it’s usually not a 19 year old. I’m not sure on that.
DrMR: Coming back to marketing, I think it’s a great point, which is just start marketing, get good at marketing-
MM: Let me just say on that, what does it take to get good is … marketing takes a lot of work. It’s something you need to learn, and it’s a creative activity as well. I do truly believe that you can’t become very good at marketing unless you enjoy it. Just like how it’d be hard to become very good at painting if you didn’t actually enjoy it. Especially not just the technical, “can I move the brush in the right way”, but can I come up with a painting that someone would buy?
You can always start out and you can be good enough to get something going, and you don’t have to study that much, and there are very simple principles you apply and you do them. However, if you really are like, “marketing is really not my thing”, then it’s just incumbent on you to find someone who it is their thing. I just wanted to interject that.
DrMR: I think that’s a good point, especially when you’re starting out, you probably … and I did the same thing-
MM: I think you should do it yourself in the beginning actually.
DrMR: I did everything, I was the graphics designer, I was the making all the newsletters and everything, but then you find people who are going to help you. I think for audience members who are grappling with this also, you have to decide, because there’s this proverbial ‘fork in the road’, where either you’re going to do this, or you’re going to let someone else do this. I think it’s a valuable exercise to take stock of where you think you should be, relative to that fork. Because I see some people who try to be the person who has to learn how to market. To do that is a bunch of extra work and it’s a challenge and you have to slug through a bunch of BS.
If you can do that, then great, but if you can’t you may wanna partner up with a clinic that’s doing a good job. And I think it’s important if you can reflect on that and decide early, because I’d hate to see someone spend four years and a bunch of money and then later figure out, “I was kidding myself. I’m 120 pounds, I’m trying to be a lineman.” It’s also good to play devil’s advocate, to have ambition and a positive self-image, but I think most people if you took some time and reflected, you could figure out, “Do I seem to have a decent ability with marketing?” And I think there are some simple things you can look to.
Do people tend to listen to you? Most of my life, I tended to find other people around me coming to me with questions. All the way back in college. Those are some early indicators that, “Okay, I seem to have a decent ability to turn a phrase, to grab attention.” But if you haven’t noticed that, then maybe don’t try to-
MM: You can work to develop it, but yes, I agree. There is a point where you need to objectively assess, not only your skill level, but I think also the highest and best use of your time as well. In some cases, it may make more sense to, like you were saying, partner with … I think the same thing goes for having a business.
I look at it as a writer. Many, many writers don’t wanna … They’re even more allergic to marketing and anything entrepreneurial, maybe, than anyone in your crowd. You have a lot of writers that they don’t even wanna think about it. So for them, they would rather just publish with a big publishing house and get nothing for royalties and always be struggling to make money simply for that reason. I don’t think that’s necessarily a great decision, however, some people make that decision. And then you also have successful writers that know they could make more money if they self-published, but they just don’t wanna mess with that, and they’re happy with the amount of money they’re making, and they can just focus on what they do best, which is writing or researching and writing. So there’s probably something to be said for that as well.
DrMR: What other lessons have you learned, or points you think are important for new people in business to be aware of?
Business Growth Tips
MM: Something that has worked very well for me from the beginning is I’ve put a lot of time into interacting with people on a one-on-one basis. So it’s been email mostly, and then social media became more of a thing, but I didn’t even have any social media in the beginning. I put an email address in my book and said, “Hey, if you have any questions or suggestions, just reach out.”
So there was a point a couple years ago where I was spending four to five hours a day, I would say three to five hours a day, just answering emails and social media messages, and really actually answering people’s questions. In some cases I was able to send them off to articles because let’s say somebody says, “Hey Mike, what do you think about fasted training?” I could copy and paste … I wrote an entire article on it, so I could … You know what I mean?
I could even have a shortcode that expands into text, and it’s short and punchy and whatever. But I actually think it’d be better if they just took the 10 minutes to read the article because then they really would have it nailed. So that might be a short answer, “Hey, that’s a good question.” And if they read my book I’d say, “Hey, thanks for reading my book. That’s a good question, here, check out the article that I wrote on this, I think it’ll give you all the information you need. Let me know what you think.”
And then I also would P.S. and I would basically, again, these are all shortcodes, they expand into more text so I don’t remember the exact wording, and what I mean by that is I use something called Streak, and it integrates into your Gmail, and what it allows me to do is have a P.S. for asking them to leave a review for the book. And I don’t ask for a positive review, and I don’t incentivize the review, I simply just say, “Hey, would you mind taking a minute to just write a quick blurb on Amazon about the book? I’d really appreciate it.” So it’s “rev book 1”, review book 1, that’s if they’ve read one book, “rev book 2” is if they’ve read more, then it’s worded a little bit differently. But when I type that in, it expands out into a whole thing.
DrMR: So you just type that phrase into Gmail and it automatically … Oh, that’s a cool-
MM: I have a whole library of these things. And now I’ve answered every question ever, so there are recurring questions, and so in some cases my replies are literally a series of shortcodes that just expand, expand, expand, and I use keyboard shortcuts, Alt-Enter-Send, then I go on to the next email, so I get to just hammer through emails.
DrMR: So you’re really being efficient, that’s great.
MM: So what that has done, though, is it has generated a tremendous amount of word of mouth and goodwill with people because it’s rare that you can do that. And especially as things have grown, it’s actually become more valuable because people are more aware that I don’t have to be doing this. I don’t have to answer a single email, I don’t even really have to show up to work if I don’t want to. But then they’re even more appreciative.
And the fact that it doesn’t scale is also a benefit in that that’s the kind of work that most people don’t want to do. You can’t delegate it effectively unless you find somebody who you really can train up to do a really good job on it. It’s grindy, there’s nothing quote-unquote “fun” about it necessarily, you just do it. I’ve done that since the beginning.
I’ve also read and responded to every single Amazon review of my books, which has actually been awesome because I’ve gotten a lot of great suggestions from the … One-star reviews are usually pretty worthless, but two- and three-star reviews, they often have some validity. They’ll bring up a point where I’m like, “That’s a good point actually, I could do better. Does it deserve a two-star review? I don’t know, I don’t think so. But that is something I can improve.”
But my point with all of this is being over-the-top helpful and … I never ask people to buy anything, never once have I asked someone to buy anything in an email unless they’re like, “Hey, do you have a pre-workout?” Or something like that. It’s really just been answering their questions, and I have people I’ve been in touch with since the beginning, six years now since I first published the first book. And they still reach out to me now and then even just to give me updates about their lives.
Fitness Coaching Tips
So that’s been tremendously helpful, and I’ve told a number of people, and I’m speaking more to people wanting to get in the fitness coaching space. In the beginning, take clients for free. Prove that you can get results, just take 10 people, take five people, and just work with them for a couple months, and tell them that they can pay you at the end of it if they want to. If they’re happy with what you’ve done for them, and then tell them that all you are actually asking is if they’re happy, they’re willing to be a testimonial for you, and they’re willing to do a video testimonial. Because you can’t fake that like you can fake pictures, right?
So get a really good case study out of this, and then hey, if you wanna pay me in addition to that, that’s great. But I actually don’t really care. And a number of people have taken me up, and a lot of people go, “Oh yeah that’s a good idea” and never do it. But a number of people have taken me up on it, and that’s how they started their coaching businesses actually, and now they’ve been able to leverage that. Take it from a marketing perspective, it’s not very hard to sell a person to sign up for some sort of coaching service with you, for example, if you have five to 10 really good case studies. These people are on video, you have their before-and-afters, it can be literally just on their phone, it doesn’t have to be highly produced, that’s not the point. So that’s also something that … And I still am adamant about it to today.
DrMR: I think that’s a really good point because sometimes I think people fall into the mistake of wanting to charge what they would optimally wanna get right out of the gate. And there’s this weird … Some circles advocate this until you ask for it you’ll never get it. And I understand that.
MM: Isn’t that more in the corporate world?
DrMR: Yeah, so I understand where that’s coming from. But I’ve always been a believer of, “First do a million-dollar job, and then you’ll start making a million dollars.” So I think that’s a good thing to pair for people, be okay with maybe working for a little bit less than you feel like you’re worth until you’ve proven the concept, until you’ve proven the ability, and then you can start scaling up-
MM: And think how you can leverage that in your marketing. Then you are getting tremendous value out of that actually, those people are gonna make you far more money than you could get from them individually. Just those five case studies, for example, or 10 case studies, if you just use them halfway decently. A lot of what works well in marketing is commonsensical. Some of it is a bit interesting when you dive into it.
Really what you’re getting into is you’re getting into the science of psychology and of persuasion. A bit of that is on the nose, “Of course, I am a consumer, so I understand that,” and some stuff is counter-intuitive, especially when you get into pricing, that gets kind of interesting. But again, you don’t have to do that much reading, you could read a book like Scientific Advertising, Claude Hopkins, you could read Influence by Cialdini, I like Pre-suasion as well, Eugene Schwartz has some good stuff. You don’t have to read very much is my point, you can read a few books, get some fundamentals, and be like, “Cool, this is how you persuade people. It makes sense, here are some examples of how to do that. I have really good stuff that I can show people.” If you do it halfway decently, you’re off to the races.
DrMR: Yeah, when I read the book Launch by Jeffrey … Do you know who wrote Launch? Jeffrey … I’m blanking on his last name.
MM: Oh yeah, it’s Jeff Walker. Right? Product launch guide. He’s a good marketer. I haven’t read his book, but he’s a good marketer, so it’s probably decent.
DrMR: You read the book, and you could just take that. And in fact I know someone, who’s a pretty influential marketer, and I said, “I read the book, what should I do?” And he said, “To tell you the truth, all we do is we just execute the formula he has out in that book.” Now, I’m not saying Jeff Walker’s book is the only book, but the point I’m making is – I actually just had a call with someone on our team about this. Some marketers, unfortunately, will make you think that marketing is something that they have this crystal ball, and only they know how to do it-
MM: Proprietary blend.
DrMR: Yeah, their proprietary blend. But really it’s not, a lot of it is partially commonsensical, and then part of it is just reading a little bit of good work on the topic, and then just starting. I think that’s one of the things that holds people back from marketing, and this is something I grappled with when I was getting into my career also. You have all these marketers who wanna take a lot of money and make big promises. And I worked with some people out of the gate, and then I realized, “Okay, this is not rocket science. We could get a good person on our team who’s not Jo Shmo slick marketer, just a good virtual assistant or whatever, an operations person, and have them assist us in executing this.” It doesn’t have to be this magical thing.
MM: Relatively high IQ, willing to work.
DrMR: Right, yeah. So you do IQ tests on your employees, I thought that was really interesting. Interesting not in a “Hm, that’s weird” interesting in I thought it was actually very insightful. Because sometimes you get wrapped up in these personality assessments, which I think also have merit, but the more I’ve been thinking about it, if you’re a person who’s decently able to get along with people, if you’re not this may not apply, because then you may wanna really make sure you find a personality match for you.
For myself, I’ve never had a hard time getting along with people, probably because my older brother was kind of a bully, and so I learned how to just roll with the punches. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, he was as much of a bully as a bigger brother should be. Prepared me for life, exactly, did a good job at helping me get along with people and roll with the punches. So if you’re okay getting along with people, I think the personality assessments might be a little bit less important. But I’d be curious to get your take on that.
But the thing that I’ve noticed is sometimes hard is the aptitude that someone on our team has. And we’ve developed ways of sussing this out short of IQ, but IQ is something I wanna incorporate going forward. But sometimes-
MM: You can test aptitude separately as well.
DrMR: Okay, I’d love to hear your take on that. But you’d have someone who is a good person, and they really wanted to contribute to the operation, but they just didn’t have the ability to get things done quickly enough. And this is something I think for entrepreneurs to be really careful with. You want people on your team who can do more than just learn how to do the system you currently have. Because new things come down the pipe, you’ll have to update your system, and it’s great if the other person can contribute to updating the system, and you don’t have to update it and then teach it back to them.
MM: Yeah. Also, just being able to give people simple marching orders and they figure it out. How valuable is that? Then they’re not coming back to you every step. You say, “Hey, this is what we’re going for here.” With somebody really good, and I have a few people that are particularly good in this regard, where I can give them pretty much anything, and I don’t have to give them much in the way of instructions, and they’re gonna come back with something good. It can be better, and maybe I’ll find some things, and I’d say that applies to myself too, it applies to any of us. But that’s a big thing. And I think a very objective way to determine how likely is this person to be one of those people is IQ. That’s primarily why I test for it. Let’s just tag it to an IQ, there’s a certain level that it frustrates me. Especially in a work environment. If we’re just hanging out I don’t care. But when I’m counting on this person –
DrMR: Which is fair, we should clarify that we’re not saying people with lower IQ are bad people.
MM: Not at all, no. But working, it bothers me-
DrMR: Yeah, but when you’re paying someone a lot of money to do something and you feel like they’re not executing at the level that you’d like them to, then it annoys you. So I get that, yeah.
MM: Exactly. And I’m a fairly abrasive, non-PC person, so I’ll say things like that sometimes. But I am legitimately qualifying that, in everyday life, I couldn’t care less. If I’m at a party hanging out, I don’t care.
DrMR: You’re talking to me, right? So you must not care that much.
MM: Yeah, right. I’m sure your IQ’s real low. But you get what I’m saying. So yes, that’s why testing for IQ and aptitude I think makes sense.
DrMR: So how do you test aptitude?
MM: There’s an aptitude test, actually one of the guys on my team-
DrMR: So there’s an aptitude, like a well-recognized test? Oh cool.
MM: Yeah, and actually I should know it, but I don’t know off the top of my head because one of the guys that set this up, this is one of the things, he’s like, “We need to start testing for this, let’s get something in place.”
DrMR: Will you ping me with that, and we can add it to the show notes for this episode?
MM: Sure, yeah.
DrMR: So what we’ve been doing on our team is we essentially have skills tests that we have new hires do. And both skills tests and then detail-oriented testing. It depends on the level that you’re looking to hire, but if we’re hiring someone to work on our web team, we may have them create a webpage, give them a bunch of copy and some links, and we may make the link drruscio.com, and then at the end of it we put a number sign.
DrMR: So obviously it’s a broken link, but we’re looking, “Are they going to check the link? It’s not working, and then are they gonna go, “Oh hey, that link didn’t work,” or are they gonna take two seconds to read the URL and say, “Oh, there must have been a keystroke there with the number sign, I’ll just delete that out, and now the URL works.” Little things like that I’ve found to be hugely helpful in weeding out people how you want on your team versus who might be a constant frustration.
MM: Yeah, that’s smart. It’s kind of like IQ testing, actually, in a way. You’re also then testing, though, for attention to detail and work ethic to some degree. Are they really wanting it … And how badly do they want this, does this matter to them?
DrMR: Yeah, so that’s another thing that we do with our hiring, is you can’t just send us your stuff. We have people fill out a form, and there’s a couple questions in that form that aren’t hard to answer, but you have to do 10-30 seconds of research to pull up the answer. And just that little bit of a hurdle, a little bit of a hoop to jump, weeds out the people how have really low motivation scores, I find.
MM: Yeah, that’s good. And hiring is an area that I’m not very knowledgeable in, honestly, or proficient in. Because, fortunately, my businesses don’t require … I haven’t had much turnover. I’ve had to fire a few people, and I had one person which, I understand, he came with me from Florida and he wanted to go back for several reasons, which made perfect sense in his circumstances, so that was … He wasn’t fired, he technically quit, but I totally got it. So I haven’t had really any turnover to deal with.
MM: But, if I had a business that … For example, my dad’s business has a few hundred employees, and he has sales teams, and there’s turnover, so if we wanted to talk hiring I would have to call him up.
Yeah, exactly. So for me, I’ve only dived into it enough to make sure that I have people that are reliable and trustworthy, hardworking, loyal. But unfortunately there’s only 20 of us, maybe there’s a few more now, 20-25, I don’t know the exact number actually off the top of my head, because not everyone’s in the office, we have some people elsewhere. And on the whole I’ve done a fairly good job, but it’s not as systematized as some businesses would need it to be.
DrMR: Sure. Well, it’s another very important area in a health business, because I quickly learned that I can’t do any more. I’ve hit this wall hard, and so the only way the operation gets more done is we have good people.
And my two cents here would be if you’re ever hiring, this is given that you’re in a growing situation or you plan for there to be growth, hire a little bit better than you need rather than what you need. Because the last thing you wanna have is, eight months down the road, this person is now maxed out. And I know that, on the face of that, to the entrepreneur, that’s stretching you a little bit financially. But it’s been well worth it.
MM: That makes sense to me, I agree with that. Something I just thought of, and I mentioned this when we were speaking earlier, Principles by Ray Dalio, I recommend that book, he has a lot of good information. Because he has taken hiring systems and personnel systems to an extreme level. But he has a lot of good insights that he shares.
DrMR: Yeah, I haven’t read much of Ray Dalio, I may have to read more, because I’ve heard a lot of good things about him lately, he keeps coming up.
MM: Super smart guy, his reputation precedes him obviously. Again, he’s developed a whole system where employees have essentially baseball cards that have strengths and weaknesses. So obviously we’re not gonna go to that level, but he has a lot of good information on building effective teams and hiring people.
DrMR: Sure, if he’s at that level he can probably scale it down to some basic-
MM: Yeah, or you can. You can just be like, “Well, I’m not gonna be making baseball cards for everybody, but I like this idea, this makes sense, here’s a toned-down version.” Turn the volume down a bit.
DrMR: Yeah. Any closing words you wanna leave people with?
MM: Well, I hope your crowd found this talk helpful.
DrMR: And please tell us more about your books and your URLs.
MM: Sure, yeah. You can find my work at muscleforlife.com. The flagship books are Bigger Leaner Stronger for men, Thinner Leaner Stronger for women, and then I have a cookbook which also does well called The Shredded Chef, a flexible dieting cookbook.
I would actually tell people, though, don’t buy the books yet because I would want you to get the new third editions that are coming out. I’m really proud of how they came together, so wait for December or January. Second editions are good, but the third editions I think are truly great. They’re really the best possible fitness books that I can write right now. So I’m excited about that. For anybody that wants to learn about the supplements, it’s legionathletics.com
DrMR: Awesome. Well, thanks for having the conversation. For the audience, I know we’ve had some people request more about business and how all this stuff orchestrates together, so I know for the entrepreneurs and practitioners this will be helpful. I’m hoping it was interesting for laypeople in the audience, and I think definitely some of those tips for trying to discern shady supplement companies from non-shady will be really helpful. Yeah, Mike, thanks for taking the time, it’s been a real pleasure.
MM: Absolutely, thank you.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
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