Under the Bar: Feedback

TAGS: Elitefts Legacy Log, strength, powerlifting, dave tate, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, training

It has been many months since the last Under the Bar installment. The feedback I received from after the first two articles inspired me to take this column to book format. The Under the Bar book is now competed, edited and ready to send to the printer. From this point all we have to do is wait for the cover design, typesetting and printing. With any luck this should roll out within the next 4-6 weeks. I am very happy with the final product and have to personally thank Adam Campbell and his editing staff for a great job editing the material.

Early lesson

One of the first things I learned to appreciate was feedback in the weight room. When I first walked into the gym I asked a lot of questions about training and how to do certain exercises. I read a lot but realized that if I wanted to be strong that I had to talk and train with people who were stronger than I was. I knew that in order to get what I wanted I had to seek out those who had it.  Then I had to learn what they did to get it! I understood this very simple concept when I first walked into the gym at 12 years of age. I am amazed at the vast number of lifters, trainers and athletes who fall for “Guru Strength Coach” bullshit from people who have never had or produced strength in the first place. These Yoda’s (that what I call them because they talk a great game but can only lift with their minds) will defend themselves with science, methods, and theory and state you do not have to be strong to teach strength. Whatever. Say what you want, I am still listening to those who can show me what they believe.  Maybe I am lucky that I figured this out at such a young age because it is the number one reason I have lifted the weights I have.

Listen to everyone

You should listen to everyone and take in what they say. Even if they are a Yoda, you should hear them out and then decided if it can work for you. Yes, they do have some things to offer but you need to learn how to cut through the bullshit and get to the truth. How can I say this after I said listen to those who are strong? You can learn from everywhere and should seek advice from everyone.

This does not mean you have to take it, just place the highest value on those you respect most.

When you listen to all sides you get a better awareness of your own state.  Yes, in training I believe your core strength knowledge needs to come from the darkest, dirtiest, dungeons of strength.  These clubs, gyms and weight rooms are where the real training secrets are being tested.

These are where you find the lifters willing to put their balls on the line for an extra 5 pounds on a lift. They will try anything to see what will work. These are the true coaches of strength and should be your base line. But, they do not know every thing; they are also always looking for new stuff. They can help you filter through the bullshit and get to the truth. For example do you really think any high amateur or professional bodybuilder is following a damn hypertrophy program they found on the internet? No, what they did was take the time and figure out how to train based on the feedback they have gotten from others over the years.

You do not know it all

So you are jacked and can lift big weights? You have reached the top of your game and find yourself as the strongest gym in your gym. You may be the strongest in your gym but I can name three of four other clubs in this country where you would no be shit. Regardless of who you are there is always someone stronger. I don’t care if you are the strongest lifter in your weight class. All this means to me is there is someone else who is only one or two meets away from beating you. This is just how the sport works. You have to stay on top of your game regardless of who you are. To do this you have to listen to others. You may think you have great squat form, but a great coach like Louie Simmons can tweak one thing and you will be squatting 40-50 pounds more. There are many other people who can look at you squat and make suggestions. You need to listen to them and if you are unsure ask someone else about it. I know I take many calls from lifters and coaches who will say, “Hey Dave I just spoke with Louie and he told me to try this. What do you think?” I will go with what Louie says 99.9% of the time because I have great respect for his training knowledge and know him very well. Other lifters and coaches do not know him as well as I do and do not understand how much he really knows so they are seeking reinforcement. This is not a bad thing, this is very good and goes to show they are interested enough in the advice to pursuit it further.

A huge lesson

Many years ago before my coming to Westside I found myself lifting in the Toledo Hall Of Fame power lifting competition. I had known Louie for many years and he had always taken the time to help me along the way. I remember missing my opener squat and Louie came over to me and told me I had to learn how to use my abs when I squatted. He tried to explain this concept to me but I could not figure out what the hell he was talking about. He told me to not worry about it; he would back spot me and tell me exactly what to do. I repeated the weight on my second attempt and as I walked to the bar I saw Louie right there on the platform ready to help me out. He walked over and made me loosen my belt one notch less than I normally would wear it. When I got under the bar he told me to fill my belly with air and push my belly against my belt as hard as I can. I could not believe how light the bar felt when I walked it out. I ended up killing the weight and thought of Louie as some kind of miracle worker. If I had not been open to his feedback I am 100% sure I would have bombed out of the meet. This one experience actually changed many things for me. It was the final notch in my decision to move to Columbus after graduation. I also began to call Louie more often for advice.

The more I think about it if it was not for that one squat I may not been writing this article in the first place. I would probably still be trying to squat 800 and working in a strip club somewhere.

How does this relate?

As with all Under the Bar articles I show how these lessons I have picked up in the weight room have made a difference in my business or personal life. I knew when I founded EliteFTS that I need some serious feedback. I also knew I had to find those who were doing the work, not teaching it. It took a few years but I finally built a great network of other business owners who are very successful and know what they are doing. I also have read hundreds of books but they are only to supplement my core business philosophy. I do not create a new philosophy with each new idea. It has to be built on a solid base created from my personal experience and feedback from trusted sources.

My most trusted sources

I have two sources I trust the most. First are the customers of EliteFTS. They are first because they know best what they are looking for and how we will be a part of their training plan. My second source is the staff of EliteFTS. They are the driving force behind what you see and what you get. I am nothing more than the facilitator between the two.  I know how to take the feedback from these two sources and mix it with out mission to keep us on track for our strategic objective. We spend much time with our customers on the phone, email and the Q and A. From these we get a very good idea of who our customers are. It also gives them the chance to share training ideas, stories, product ideas and other suggestions with us. We also email a survey out to our mailing list twice per years to keep on track with how we are doing. These results have helped us grow as a company and have made us a force in the strength and conditioning field. I am beginning t think we may be the only company in the field that really cares about the results of our customers. They may talk a good game but when it comes down to it do they really care about your program or are they only interested in selling you a rack? They may not feel one relates to the other but I know for a fact that they do. How do I know this? FEEDBACK. Like the weight room it took a lot of work, time, reading and discussions for us to come up with the business plan we use. It is not as simple as talking about training with people or writing a few articles. It is about branding a company, and that is a whole article in itself.

So how is it working?

I feel very strongly that every indicator of a business has to be quantifiable. Everything has to be tracked, recorded, tested and retested. Many questions on our survey are designed with this in mind. We all know the difference feedback can make in a training program but how well does it work for business? Here are a few stats from our last survey. You tell me how well it is working.

  • 60% of those polled have purchased more than three times in the past year.
  • 100% view us as better than our competition with over 90% of them saying we were Excellent when compared to our competition.
  • 72% stated our products are top of the line. (Note: this was an open-ended question without any choices. Top of the line came up 70% of the time)
  • 78% perceived Metal gear as the best gear on the market with 97% of those who used it saying it was the best gear the have ever used.
  • 98% have referred us to other people
  • 95% rated us as an excellent educational provider.
  • 98% said we are doing a great job with 80% rating t he job we are doing as excellent.
  • 62% have been visiting the web site for more than two years.
  • 96% read all the articles
  • 89% read the Q and A
  • 60% visit the web site more than 5 times per week.
  • The number one reason listed for why you decided to do business with EliteFTS was reputation.
  • 87% rated our customer service as excellent with nobody rating customer service lower than good (there was only 1 of those)

While the results were excellent we did get a few great suggestions and also discovered a few things we can be doing much better. The lesson I learned Under the Bar is this:

"Get as much feedback as you can. Review it. If you find you need to make changes then get off you ass a do it."

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