• Founder of Athletes Authority
  • Marketing Maverick
  • Business Strategist
  • Newsletter Publisher

Burn The Boat

An Alley-Oop subscriber writes:



I’m still an employee at my current clinic but I’m now in a position to take the plunge and go out on my own. I’ve been weighing it up for a couple of months now and (am) struggling to decide when is the right time. What do you think I need in place before I press go?


Timing your decision is such an attractive concept.

If you can just get your timing right, you can avoid all the downside and only benefit from the upside.

But by and large, timing things perfectly is something that most people almost never get right.

Think about it: 

How many times would you strike out if you waited for the perfect pitch?

How many great buying opportunities would you miss if you were always waiting for the market to crash?

How many shots at goal would you never take if you were waiting for an open goal?

Timing anything in life is great in theory and almost always terrible in practice.

It’s mostly a fallacy.

And it’s something that separates business owners from wantrepreneurs.

Because if you’ve had an idea for months but haven’t taken action on it, that great idea of yours is worth sweet FA.

Compare that to business owners that succeed — they are governed by their mission and act even if the timing isn’t perfect.

This leads me to my advice on this:

Burn the boat.

If you’re familiar with the Conquistadors, you may know the story of Cortés and his counterintuitive approach to the conquest of Mexico.

Cortes, the Spanish Commander, arrived with just over six hundred men. Instead of ensuring he had an effective exit strategy if things didn’t go to plan, Cortes doubled down on his commitment by ordering the burning of his ships.

This was a clear message — they would succeed in their mission or die trying.

There was no turning back.

For Cortes, it was do or die and there was no plan B.

Two years later, he would go on to conquer the Aztec Empire.

Throughout history, we can find numerous examples of this.

It happened in the Muslim invasion of Iberia.

And again In the invasion of Italy by Aeneas.

As well as in the Battle of Naungyo (in this instance, it was as a bridge that was burned across a river).

The point of no return more often than not yielded the victory for the commander brave enough to make the do-or-die decision.

And it can be a winning strategy for you too in business.

For me, I walked away from the comfort of my cushy school gig to open up AA in an old residential apartment above a smash repairs.

It was a terrible decision on paper that ended up being the best decision of my life. 

In fact, all the best decisions I’ve ever made were when my back was up against the wall with no other choice but to make it work.

In my subscriber’s case, I said that if I was in his position, I’d burn the boat at the earliest possible opportunity…

Because sometimes, the only thing that will get you out of your comfort zone is to draw a line in the sand and cross the point of no return.

You have to “burn your boat” in order to make the jump.

That makes me think of the Alley-Oop. 

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to invest in your own self-optimisation, then you’ll die waiting.

There will never be a perfect time to invest in your own self-optimisation.

Because the perfect situation is engineered through action, not by sitting on the sidelines.

If you sign up in the next 24 hours (the deadline is 7:30 pm AEST), I’ll make sure your newsletter gets shipped in this month’s run…

Otherwise, that’ll be another month of opportunity that will pass you by, which is cool of course, but because each edition is unique, you miss out on this edition, forever.

If you want to burn your boat and take the plunge, I can hand on heart say that for $3.19 a day, it’s one of the safest investments you could ever make to get your business on the front foot.

And the best part?

It’s not a do-or-die scenario because if you find it’s not for you, you literally lose nothing but a couple of bucks each day for a month (even though you get to keep all the bonuses).

So while the worst case is essentially risk-free, the best-case scenario is that it could help you make a decision like I did that completely changes the course of your life. 

 – Karl Goodman

Comfort Is The Enemy Of Progress

“Don’t be a coward, Karl.”

That is what I told myself as I asked one of my employees to meet me in the office.

I felt like I had a lead ball in the pit of my stomach. The weight of what I was about to do made it hard to keep a clear head.

While he didn’t know it yet, I knew that it was going to be the last day he spent with us.

In 5 minutes, I was going to fire him… and it wasn’t because he was a bad guy…

In fact, he was a great guy.

He’d be a guy I’d always be happy to have a beer with. We had a lot of common interests and he is a salt of the earth human. A quality guy.

Which is what made my decision so hard…

But still so necessary.

Because despite this, I knew that it was a disservice to him and to AA if he stayed.

See, the work dynamic in our organisation is fast-paced and the expectations are high. I don’t apologise for that because it is no doubt one of the reasons that we’ve had the levels of success we’ve had.

Some people might even say our success has been completely unreasonable. Perhaps they’re right. With unreasonable success comes unreasonable expectations (sounds like a Spiderman quote if Uncle Ben were more cynical).

But in my experience, a lot of people find excellence unreasonable only because we’ve come to accept mediocrity as standard.

These days, there is a war on excellence.

In our organisation, excellence is the bare minimum. Excellence comes standard.

Justin puts it brilliantly:

“Being a team player, committing 110%, and going over and above is the bare minimum expectation.”

And for this staff member, we just couldn’t make it work. We were on different pages. We’d given it a red-hot crack, but we weren’t landing where we needed to be.

I sat down.

So did he.

It was time for me to put my big boy pants on.

For a while, it felt like time was going in slow motion.

But knowing there was no good way to start a conversation like this, I just said it:

“This isn’t working… it’s best you find a new job where you can thrive.”

I’d been thinking all day about how I’d frame the conversation, but in the end, I knew I had to pull the band-aid off and not beat around the bush.

In moments like these, there is no room for hesitation. No room for doubt. You cannot second guess and you can’t walk on eggshells.

In the end, it was amicable…

After all this time, it seems we were finally on the same page.

And as the weight finally lifted off my shoulders (and probably his, too), an idea crystallised in my mind that I wanted to share.

Comfort is the enemy of progress.

This reminded me that the army can only move as fast as the slowest troops can march.

And when you’re fighting the infinite battle of business ownership, you can’t afford to not get where you need to go.

Now I know that some of you are going to find this email jarring.

Some of you may even find it callous while others think it’s in poor taste.

Fair enough. I get it.

This is not in my nature, either.

And if I can be frank, I actually hate it.

The last thing an employer wants to say to an employee is:

“Hey, I f*cked up and put you in a job role you couldn’t thrive in. Now, because of my f*ck up, I need you to find a new place to work.”

While admitting this personal failure is hard, it doesn’t mean I didn’t have to do it.

Which is why I’m sending this to you, in case you needed to hear it too.

I’m happy to risk judgement from a few if it means I help others make a decision they’ve been needing to make for a while.


If avoiding an uncomfortable conversation is holding you back, then this is your chance to make the decision that you need to make.

Because on the other side of discomfort is progress.

It’s up to you to chase it.

– Karl Goodman

Cancellation Conundrums

On a consulting call yesterday, a director of a physio clinic asked:


“How do you deal with cancellations? With COVID surges and winter sickness rising, we’re around 20-30%. That means by the end of the week we’ve brought in 30% less than what we expected.”


My answer is controversial…

And it all comes down to tolerance. 

You get what you tolerate.

If you get into the habit of tolerating cancellations, then expect them regularly.

If you get into the habit of tolerating underperforming staff, then you’ll find that more and more staff get used to coasting.

If you get into the habit of your clients not valuing your time and expertise, then your success in business will revert to the mean.

In this case, cancellations can be immediately & swiftly eradicated by getting your clients to pay in advance.

We do it, have done it for years, and it’s never been an issue.

You can do it in almost any industry.

Shift all payments to Monday morning at 5 am like we do, and you’ll never worry about losing out on a cancellation ever again.

And for first-timers? Yes, they pay in advance too when they book online.

It’s only an issue if you make it.

I’ll say that again.

It’s only an issue if YOU make it.

Sure, it might take a client by surprise if they aren’t used to it, but it will only reinforce that you hold yourself and your time to a higher standard…

Which will rub off well for your clients anyway in the long run.

But I can already hear the objections running through the sceptics…

“But my reception staff aren’t confident to enforce our cancellation policy.”

“But I might lose clients if I charge them…”


These are smokescreen concerns.

If you’re worth your salt, people will respect your time. It’s that simple. 

The best way to reduce cancellations is to enforce cancellation policies.

Within weeks, you’ll have little to no cancellations and your bank account will be thanking me…

And if your staff are on commissions… so will they.

With every man and his dog sick at the moment and cancellations presumably going through the roof…

I’m sure there is someone who needs to hear this.

On the topic of tolerance, I teach you how to raise your standards in this month’s Alley-Oop Newsletter… and show you how tolerating less mediocrity will improve every area of your business — sales, marketing, results etc by understanding a simple formula which I explain.

It gets sent off to the printers on Friday, so get in if you are keen to raise the standards so you aren’t left with the scraps at the end of the week.

You can subscribe here:

– Karl Goodman

The Platinum Experience

Lachlan and I received our AMEXs in the mail today.

After many months of spending a pretty penny on expenses, we thought we may as well start getting a return from it. 

And can you blame us? 

Getting flights and accommodation for a nice family holiday a couple of times a year on points is hard to say no to.

So when it arrived, I was pretty excited to get it all underway and start accumulating those points (gamification is so simple but it works).

And while I knew I’d be excited, I didn’t expect what happened next.

It reminded me of an important business lesson that I wanted to share while it was on my mind.

Someone is always doing it better than you.

As I opened my package, it became immediately apparent that AMEX had put a tonne of effort into their first impression.

They had made receiving a credit card a goddamn experience you won’t forget easily.

And compared to my normal bank which is so transactional, it blew them out of the water.

As I popped my AMEX Card from its holder into my hand, I was immediately taken aback by how thick and heavy it is. It was as if I was holding real platinum in my hand.

The box it came in was matte black and felt like I was 7 years old again unwrapping LEGO at Christmas… I didn’t want to damage the box because it just looked too good to spoil.

Inside the box, coloured leaflets detailed the key benefits of paying with AMEX:

“A card that works for you as you do for your business” was sprawled across the leaflet in bold. In smaller font, it told me about all the benefits and use cases for the points I’d effortlessly collect while going about my daily business.

“It’s having the capital to capitalise” gave me insight into how I can access a line of credit with a simple phone call… up to $45,000 with 55 days of no interest.

Each of these single leaflets reinforced what a great decision I’d made.

As I cycled through them all, I found out I had a free subscription to the Australian Newspaper, free comprehensive travel insurance whenever I go, late checkout at all their partner hotels, and free access to all the fancy airport lounges… 

Man it felt good.

Bonuses and benefits on top of bonuses and benefits.

They had opened the dopamine flood gates and I was on cloud nine.

Activating the card online felt seamless. It made it easy and enticing to share a referral code that would benefit both me and my friends.

Within 30 seconds of activating my card, my phone started ringing.

“Hello Karl, this is James from American Express. Welcome aboard, I’m your personal concierge. It’s nice to meet you.”

Wow, I thought — these guys know how to make a first impression.

As I returned to earth, I realised just how special they made something real damn ordinary.

And that is what reminded me that there is always someone doing it better than you.

As good as our onboarding to our program is, it could be better. We could make them feel more special.

As good as our Elite Athlete GamePlan is, it could be better. We could make it feel more impactful.

And as good as our culture is, we could do better. We could make it feel more exclusive.

We are simple creatures.

We all look for status and recognition.

And AMEX gave me that feeling in droves this evening.

And you bet I’m thinking about what I can do to recreate that feeling at AA.

Maybe, this sparks some inspiration for you too.

– Karl Goodman

Jam That Puts You In A Pickle

If you’re in business to help others, then you need to know about the paradox of choice.

Because as a service business, we assume that the more offerings we have, the better.

This makes sense.

  1. Have more offerings.
  2. Increase your pipeline.
  3. Make more sales.

It sounds good in theory, but it falls flat in practice.

Nothing illustrates this point better than the famous jam experiment.

The landmark Stanford & Columbia study reminds us of why less is more… 

At a local food market, passers-by would find a display table with 24 different kinds of jams to try. The next day, there were only 6.

The researchers tracked sales and found something no one would have expected.

While the larger display table generated way more interest, people were far less likely to buy a jar of jam.

When they offered fewer options at the display, the table made more sales.

That’s because choice paralyses the consumer.

But we seem to forget that.

Because choose a random independent, private, non-franchised gym and you’ll likely find:

  • Gym Membership.
  • One on One PT.
  • Programming.
  • Group Training.
  • Small-Group Training.
  • Online Only…

And then combinations of the above.

But more is not better.

You can think about it this way.

Imagine if you tore your bicep off the bone.

You went to a hand and elbow surgeon.

They suggested surgery, but gave you three options.

A partial reattachment where he/she reconnected 30% of the biceps tendon to the radius.

A majority reattachment where they connected 60%.

Or full reattachment of all biceps tendons fibres.

Which one do you take?

Trick question… because the answer is none.

You would have left that surgeon’s clinic wondering what kind of quack you wasted half an hour of your time with…

And instead, find a surgeon who does it right.

Here is the takeaway:

When people ask experts like you for help, they don’t want options.

Because there aren’t 7 different solutions to their problem. There is one.

The one that you offer.

So give it to them.

That’s why our ADP program works so well.

Want to work on your speed?

Join our ADP.

Want to work on your strength?

Join our ADP.

Want to work on your mental skills?

Join our ADP.

You get the idea.

If you want lots of interest, offer a lot of jam.

If you want to have lots of customers, offer less.

This is why I only offer a few ways to work with me.

The most affordable (at $3.19 a day), is the Alley-Oop Newsletter.

For a cheap and nasty coffee, you can get pure business gold that pays you back in stampedes of new customers.

You can check it out here.

– Karl Goodman 

Grey Rhino > Black Swan

One of the most powerful concepts in macroeconomics is the concept of the Black Swan.

It is a term first coined by Nassim Taleb to describe an improbable event that causes catastrophic results.

Why a Black Swan?

Well, for the longest time, Europeans couldn’t fathom the idea that Black Swans existed… they only knew of White Swans.

COVID is an example of a Black Swan. Who predicted that shitshow?

The GFC was another… it completely restarted the whole economy and eradicated the wealth of the middle class.

These events can completely destroy businesses too.

They get all the news features and all the media attention as they lay wake to the business landscape.

But in reality, these Black Swan events pose far less risk to a business than Grey Rhinos.

Grey Rhinos, unlike Black Swans, are obvious dangers that stare you down in the face. These types of threats scuff the ground with their hooves as they point their horn at you.

As they prepare to charge, you stand there, frozen in fright, as an impending and obvious threat hurtles toward you..

Grey Rhinos are a problem you can see from a mile away…

And unlike the Black Swan, they are completely avoidable.

But, instead of acting swiftly and decisively, you freeze, putting you, and your business in danger. 

These are the types of threats that I mostly deal with when working with my mentees.

These stampeding Rhinos might show up as hugely inefficient employees that you won’t move on despite burning through the culture of your organisation and pulling down the average…

Or a glaring deficiency in a sales process that is slashing your conversion percentage and leaving opportunity at the door…

Or an absence of a real marketing strategy that leaves you relying on hope.

Regardless of the threat, it’s something obvious that you’re choosing to ignore.

So how do you avoid a stampeding rhino?

Never get yourself in a position of danger in the first place.

This is why I recommend mentors for everyone who owns a business..

A great mentor can help you spot obvious threats before it unravels all your hard work.

And if the mentor is worth their salt, they might even turn a threat into an opportunity, which is the topic of next month’s Alley-Oop newsletter.

I’ll be walking through some strategies to avoid getting your business in sticky situations that have the potential to undo all the progress you’ve made… before it wreaks havoc… AND, turning it into opportunity so you can capitalise on every curveball that is thrown your way.

Want to make better decisions (that could save you thousands) for less than the price of a coffee a day?

Subscribe to the Alley-Oop here:

– Karl Goodman

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Karl Goodman

  • Founder of Athletes Authority
  • Marketing Maverick
  • Business Strategist
  • Newsletter Publisher
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“I knew that Karl was good… but I didn’t realise he was this good. He is changing the game... and you know I don’t say that lightly!”
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Woodford Sports Science Consulting
"Karl's advice packs a serious punch if you want your gym to rock... we've 10x'd revenue, 5x'd our facility size... and learnt how to build our own little empire... and all of that was during a worldwide pandemic when most gyms were on their knees!"
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Lift3 Gym & Physiotherapy
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Swift Movement Academy
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Trademark Performance
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TNT Ignite
"I first started listening to Karl's advice while working out of my shed at the back of my house. As I write this now, I'm the owner of RadCentre, one of Victoria's Elite High Performance Training facilities. His advice along the way has been crucial in every element of business... especially how he's helped my financial success. We wouldn't be where we are now without Karl."
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