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

The Good Man’s Paradox

I watched Equaliser 3 last night.

It is every bit as good as its predecessors.

There were many memorable moments, but one in particular struck home for me.

So as to not spoil the movie, I’m going to leave out the context, but keep the essence of the exchange:

In the second scene, Denzel is asked:

“Are you a good man, or a bad man?”

Denzel replies, “I don’t know.”

A simple exchange on the surface, but a deep business lesson beneath once you peel back the layers.

I’m calling the lesson the Good Man’s paradox (although I make no claim that it relates to my last name).

This is the takeaway:

Good men don’t know if they’re good. They are filled with doubt, riddled with hypocrisy, and spend the quiet moments in their own head second-guessing themselves in the pursuit of an ideal.

Bad men, on the other hand, have a dog-to-a-bone-like conviction that their agenda is superior to anyone else who gets in their way. They see their vision as ‘good for thee’ regardless of whether it’s good for anyone else. They have far less doubt.

You can copy and paste this analogy right into any business that was built on good intentions.

We all have to bear the weight of both intuition and doubt resting on each shoulder. In one ear, intuition is telling you you’re right. On the other ear, doubt is telling you you’re wrong. Add in the expanse of the world’s opinions and it’s no surprise many of us feel like we’re trying to run a business while stuck in quicksand.

What experience is teaching me in business, is you never really know if what you’re doing is good. Everything is a hunch, a scale of probability, and a hope that you’re acting not just in the best interests of you and your company, but those under your employ, and those who you’re in service to.

But at the end of the day, you’ll never really know how you’ll be judged, or how things will play out. We are not the arbiters of our reputation, no matter how hard we try to curate it.

I mention this because I’m about to turn 33, and I’ve run my own business(es) since 18 when I became a Personal Trainer. For the last 8 years since 2015, it’s been all AA…

And despite hundreds of conversations with other gym owners and close to 3000 continuous days of running an S&C gym with a solid track record, the reality is…

“I still don’t know.”

Like Denzel in the movie, I may never know…. But regardless, both you and I have to soldier on, hopefully, motivated by good intentions, grounded by humility and driven by vision.

– Karl Goodman

The Goodwill Economy

I have a prediction for 2024.

And it’s a complete backflip from what I would have said just a few years ago if you’d asked me the following question:

“What should you optimise your marketing for?”

Back then, and in line with the Gary V approach that made him famous, I would have declared:


Whoever can maintain the markets attention, makes the moolah.

But in just three short years, the game has completely changed.

Attention is a bloodbath.

It has been massacred and it’s near impossible to capture it.

Don’t believe me?

Try out this short experiment.

Can you recall five ads that you watched/saw yesterday?

List them out in your head.

Having trouble?

Me too… I wouldn’t have the first clue of a single ad I saw.

The reason for this is a result of three forces, that have all been amplified in the last three years:

1. Market scepticism
2. Privacy policy
3. Our brains and habits.

While I could write an email on each of these forces themselves, safe to say the following:

Since COVID, there is a massive amount of scepticism toward the 3-letter acronyms and institutions that were once held in high regard – FDA, WHO, CDC, WEF, TGA etc.

You don’t have to wear a tinfoil hat anymore to know these guys aren’t as virtuous as they claim to be which has a trickle down effect into the free markets – which includes us.

Secondly, maintaining consumer privacy has been put into the spotlight since iOS 14. Facebook can’t leverage your data in the way it used to since Apple c*ckblocked them — and for good reason… the retargeting was getting a bit insane when brands could literally follow you around the internet like a stalker.

And then there is our own habits.

We now doom scroll into the wee hours of the morning…

Many of us spend 4+ hours a day on our phone, without being able to recall what the hell we were doing…

And the ability to keep focus is being eroded faster than public trust in Government.

Which brings me to the point of this email.

The attention economy is dead.

A new force is taking it’s place.

Enter goodwill.

My prediction for the coming decade is this:

Those with the best product, and the most goodwill, will win.

Those that give, far more than they take, will win.

Those who will win won’t try and convert prospects into buyers.

But will convert prospects into believers.

The winners will be missionaries of a big vision who put the product first, while the losers will be mercenaries who bludgeon the market for anything they can take, putting conversion first.

Missionaries will have the best product.

Mercenaries will jump from product to product, obsessed with the next ‘thing to sell.’

Missionaries will have customers for years, with huge LTVs. They will be surrounded by disciples who spread the word, and even more followers, who are ready and eager to listen.

Mercenaries will constantly be chasing acquisition because their business is built on churn.

Missionaries will focus on retention > referral > content > paid acquisition in that order, while mercenaries will do the reverse.

Missionaries will make sure they build a product so good, they have long-term retention.

A product so good, people can’t help but talk about it.

A product so good, that the content practically creates itself (through UGC etc).

A product so good, that paid acquisition is a tiny element of what they do.

Mercenaries on the other hand, will rely on paid acquisition and mindless content that takes a lot of time to get them nowhere at all.

They will be scraping the bottom of the barrel for a referral because their products do what they say on the package, but nothing more.

And, they’ll constantly be looking for new customers, as the existing ones leave through the revolving door they entered a short-time before.

I’m so certain of this, that I’m betting our whole business strategy around it.

And on that note, there is something I promised Nathan, the head of Education, that I’d do for him.

This was to remind you that if you ever refer someone to our Cert III/IV in Fitness to get qualified as a PT, to flick us an email and let us know.

If they end up choosing us, then we’ll make sure you get $500 for putting your faith in us to qualify someone you care about.

And since you’re likely to have done it anyway (quality courses to get qualified are few and far between these days), it makes sure that we never take for granted, the goodwill you have with us.

If you want to find out more about our Cert IV which kicks off in a couple of weeks, you can do that here:


Otherwise, here’s to the goodwill economy… it’s going to be fun.

– Karl Goodman

Rich Men North of Richmond

It’s crazy how quickly things can go viral when a message really taps into the conversation that the market is already having inside its head.

No better example of that than Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.”

Two weeks ago, no one knew this guy.

Today, he’s trending on Twitter, being interviewed by Joe Rogan, and his debut hit has skyrocketed to the top of the charts with over 50m views on YouTube.

The left wing of American politics is calling him a right-wing fanatic.

The right-wingers of American politics are calling him a left-wing fanatic.

All that tells me is the silent majority in the middle are lapping it up.

You can listen to it here… you’ll quickly hear what I mean.

The business lesson in all of this is as old as time:

You can’t create desire in the market.

All you can do is channel the desire that is already there.

Meaning, you have to meet your customers where they are, if you want your marketing to hit home.

Making this practical for you doesn’t need to be complicated.

Just listen.

What is your market saying?

What are they hearing?

How are they feeling?

How can you curate a marketing message that connects with that?

How can you, with your solutions, meet your market where they are, right now?

If you want to take it a step further — go ahead and audit your current marketing message. If it ain’t hitting, compare it against these simple questions.

What would you change?

How would you like to change it?

My two cents? The closer you are to the customers, the more you already know what you need to change.

– Karl Goodman

Height vs Depth

There is a big difference between something that grows up and something that grows down.

And interestingly, the higher you want something to go, the deeper the foundations that must be dug.

Many of you will already know that Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. And for those that didn’t, me saying it now has probably jogged the memory bank.

But what about the deepest building in the world? What goes the closest to Earth’s core?


No one talks about that. While digging out foundations is hard, brutal and time-consuming work, there are no accolades for going deep…

I can only assume that’s the case because we’re never hard-wired to celebrate the things that no one can see. 

But you know who is obsessed with depth?

The people responsible for building skyscrapers.

Before the guys that build skyscrapers build up, they build down

Engineers, architects, risk assessors…

The people with something to lose are far more interested in the building, not toppling over, so they become depth-orientated.

And in business, so should you.

In business, depth takes on the not-so-frequently-discussed:

– It’s the documentation, measurement and tracking of your operations & processes;
– It’s your safeguards that prevent you from becoming bloated and inefficient as you ‘grow’
– It’s your financial modelling and engineering so you don’t topple over when the economic cycles change direction
– It’s your client satisfaction and LTV to make sure you’re building — not taking away — your market goodwill.
– It’s licensing your systems (because it forces you to get your own house in order)

Depth is pretty much everything that the goo-roos don’t talk about.

All the ‘boring’ stuff (pardon the pun… I suspect not everyone will get that if you’re not an Elon fan)

But the reality is, someone needs to tell you this stuff, otherwise, the pursuit of scale will kill you.

In this month’s alley-oop, I go over all the frameworks that constitute the “infrastructure” of your business.

Solutions for pipeline management, continued client education, reputation management, centralised communications, documentation and staff/client onboarding.

Yeah, the “boring” stuff, that will make you a tonne of money, regardless of whether you’ve got a big team, or whether you’re operating solo.

Plus, it’ll show you how to automate the majority of this stuff with software like getgymini.com, so that you can keep the focus on what matters — delivering an exceptional client experience so your goodwill expands over time (rather than detracting).

If you want to get your hands on the edition, you can subscribe here:

– Karl Goodman

The (not so) secret strategy behind Apple

Just about every business goo-roo online will give you advice on how to gain new customers.

“More leads.”

“More sales.”

“More customers.”

But how many make retention an emphasis?

Very few… and that’s probably because keeping customers is nowhere near as sexy as gaining customers.

Interestingly, the best businesses in the world put retention as a higher-order priority over acquisition…

And Apple is the king of it.

I’ve only bought a non-Apple product once since I was 18.

It was a Sony phone… and it sucked.

I felt so out of place with my Sony that it only took me six months to walk back into Apple with my hands outstretched like Oliver Twist:

“Can I have an iPhone, please?”

Have you ever wondered why Apple puts retention way above acquisition?

Once you see the numbers, it just makes sense:

It costs 5-25x times less to keep a customer, than it costs to gain a new one.

In my case, it costs Apple exactly $0 to keep me as a loyal customer. 

But to convert a diehard Android user? A tonne of money would have to go into sub-conscious, un-conscious, and conscious marketing to get a PC guy across the line (the only thing more diehard than Apple users are PC users).

See what’s going on here?

The chances are, though, we’re approaching this in our own business the opposite way.

We’re putting 5-25x less effort into keeping our customers, than trying to gain new ones.

Bit arse-backwards if you ask me (and I say so from experience of making the same mistake).

One of the best ways of getting retention back on the scorecard and putting it in focus is with automation.

And there are heaps of easy ways to leverage it, too. Like:

1. Using automation to ensure onboarding is thorough and personalised so you don’t have hiccups that leave a bitter taste in the customer’s mouth.

2. Using automation ensures you follow through on your brand promises and do what you say you’ll do. No trust? No retention.

3. Using automation to implement customer feedback loops, like the Net Promoter Score, which is widely accepted as the ultimate question to gauge customer satisfaction (if you’re interested, the creator of NPS Fred Reichheld, has a book on the topic).

4. Using automation to roll out a ‘continued education program for onboarded clients’. This ensures your customers continue to understand and believe everything required to continue to see the need for your service.

5. Using automation to capitalise on social proof  by broadcasting your success stories to your current client base on a regular cadence.

6. Using automation to leverage reciprocity. When a client has a win, associate that win with your product by asking for a Google review.
 Easy enough to do, rarely capitalised on.

7. Using automation to leverage referrals because a referring customer is a customer that has the highest personal satisfaction with you. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it certainly gives you a taste of how automation can save you tens of thousands of dollars in marketing costs by not having to pay for acquisition.

Because, after all, a customer saved is a customer gained.

– Karl Goodman

The unconventional Roman approach to scaling

You can learn a lot about scaling a business by looking back at history and seeing how civilisations became empires.

And no better example comes to mind than the Roman Empire, which, for a long time, ruled the world. If there was ever a definition of ‘scaling’ an empire, they were it. 

As the civilisation sprawled throughout Europe and Mesopotamia, Rome encountered a recurring problem. The Aqueducts, which supplied clean water for their great baths, and the bridges that linked trade were collapsing within minutes of the scaffolding being removed. The superior workmanship and quality control that built the famous ‘Roman Empire’ had been eroded with speed and size.

The faster the Empire expanded, the more the quality suffered.

The Roman governors, realising that the speed of their growth was outpacing the rate at which their infrastructure could support it, implemented a ruthless (and genius) upstream solution.

The architects responsible for the design and construction of the infrastructure had to stand under the archway as the scaffold was removed.

Rather than watching it collapse from a distance, they had to be underneath its grand arches during the ‘moment of truth’.

It was a brutal way of ensuring they had ‘skin in the game’, and it also ensured that speed never again outpaced quality.

The result?

Bridges and aqueducts stopped collapsing (funny that).

Most of us as gym owners get this wrong when we start to think about scaling.

We ‘add’ members to our community, ‘add’ to our offering, ‘add’ to our marketing efforts, and ‘add’ to our staff without ‘adding’ to the infrastructure that will support the growth.

So things break.

This is how it looks in practice:

  • You go from being able to easily manage your leads with high conversion rates to being overrun by low-quality leads that won’t pick up the phone. And even if your leads do pick up, they are much harder to convert.
  • The quality of your product goes down — more things go wrong, more mistakes are made, and your customers become less forgiving.
  • As you try and patch up the holes in your product fulfilment, other things slip, and no matter what you try, you always seem to have more mess than what you started with.

Because quality, lead conversion, and resources are dropping, none of your original projections, growth assumptions, or expectations are playing out in practice.

All of this is costly and, more importantly, a waste of time…

Because once it’s broken, you have to rebuild it again, anyway.

I speak from experience here.

This is why your infrastructure can’t lag behind the intended growth you want to have. You always have to build for what you don’t need (yet), rather than building infrastructure once you do (by that time, it’s already too late).

When I talk about infrastructure, I mean automation systems.

  • A system that nurtures leads for you, so even when you don’t have time to call them, they feel like they already know what you’re all about…
  • A system that continues to educate new members well after they sign up (which happens to be the time you typically stop calling/following up with them)…
  • Consolidates all communications into a central hub, so you can see everything that anyone in your organisation said (rather than chasing screenshots, or getting your wires crossed by doubling up on steps)…
  • A system that tells you what marketing campaigns are actually working (and what are wasting your money)…

You’ll resonate with the above if you’ve already tried to scale.

And if you haven’t tried to scale but ever intend to, then it’s arguably even moreimportant to get right (if your goal is to save stress, cash and hassle in the future)…

In this month’s Alley-Oop, I’ll be talking from first-hand experience about the do’s and don’ts of automation so you can ensure you don’t have to rebuild your whole marketing, sales & fulfilment process because it broke when you tried to scale.

It will be valuable for everyone who’s ever felt like scaling something didn’t turn out as first predicted.

Plus, there will be an insane offer from the guys at getgymini.com to trial their new all-in-one gym lead software that makes everything I talk about a breeze (we’re using it ourselves and couldn’t rave more highly about it).

You can sign up for the Alley-Oop here:

– Karl Goodman

Karl Goodman

  • Founder of Athletes Authority
  • Marketing Maverick
  • Business Strategist
  • Newsletter Publisher
“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!”
Christian Woodford
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
"Karl's business acumen has far exceeded even my wildest expectations. His unique insights and willingness to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom, told through captivating stories makes his words literally worth their weight in gold."
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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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Rad Centre

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