[00:41] Ryan’s Family Background
[03:23] His Insurance Industry Experiences
[07:26] Believing in the Product That You’re Selling
[12:55] College Education
[15:45] Getting a Scholarship Through Division 3 Sports
[17:31] Jobs After College
[22:11] Ryan’s Take on the American Education System
[23:10] Interest Towards Entrepreneurship
[25:18] Is Going to College Important?
[31:56] Getting Started with “Metabolic”
[35:16] Metabolic Resistance Training
[41:41] Why Ryan Loves His Job
[44:26] What Makes an Organization Healthy?
[51:10] Ryan’s Book on “Content Marketing”
[59:47] How to Get in Touch with Ryan
What do successful organizations do differently than the ones who barely scrape by? One of the differentiating factors is that they pay attention to their organization’s health. While it’s an important concept, not many entrepreneurs take it into consideration.
If you want to have a competitive edge over your contemporaries, you need to focus on organizational health.
According to research by McKinsey and Company, organizational health is based on the organization’s ability to do the following:
- Align around a clear strategy, culture, and vision
- Adapt to the changing market trends
- Renew the organization’s focus when required
- Execute planned strategies with efficiency and excellence
- Deliver excellent operating and financial performance long-term
The key here is not to focus just on performance. You also need to keep in mind factors like sustainability, values, and adaptability.
Pillars of Good Organizational Health
So, which factors affect your overall organizational health?
According to Ryan Hanley, these two factors are extremely crucial for any organization to function in a healthy manner:
1. Well-Defined Hierarchy
According to Ryan, an organization needs to have a clear structure. Everyone from the CEO to the entry-level employee needs to understand their responsibilities and accountabilities.
With well-defined boundaries, everyone can clearly be aware of the scope of their work. Ryan believes that a well-defined hierarchy is essential.
2. Open Communication
Another key factor that contributes to the health of an organization is open communication. Doesn’t it seem contradictory for organizations that have a hierarchical structure AND open communication?
Healthy organizations manage to strike a fine balance between the two.
So, what exactly does open communication mean? It refers to a structure in which even the employee at the bottom of the hierarchy feels heard.
Their ideas and opinions are considered. In addition to this, different departments within the organization mingle freely. This ensures that everyone gets exposed to different facets of the business and gains more perspective.
In addition to this, factors like ability to delegate, flexibility, capacity for reinvention, and others also play a major role in evaluating an organization’s health.
Do you think your organization is healthy? Have you evaluated it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Shane: Welcome to another episode of Shane Barker’s Marketing Madness podcast. In this episode, we'll be talking about entrepreneurship and business health assessment.
My guest, Ryan Hanley, is the CEO of Metabolic, a fitness studio with six locations spread across upstate New York. Ryan is also the president of Hanley Media Lab, a content strategy firm that helps brands grow their audience. He is the author of, “Content Warfare,” a book that he likes to call, “a work in defiance of mediocre content marketing.”
Shane: So why don't you for the audience, maybe if some of the people don't know who you are, why don't you tell us a little bit like where did you grow up? Where are you at currently, actually?
Ryan: I am currently coming to you from Colony in New York, which is just outside Albany. So Upstate New York, born, bred, raised, spent most of my life in this area , went to school at the University of Rochester and then spent five years in DC working for an accounting firm. And then another year, well called two years in New York City, working in finance.
And you know, I've had a meandering career which has led me to this point, I would not, I don't know that anyone can take my career path and pull out any nuggets outside of, you don't really know unless you do. But yeah, so I'm in Upstate, New York.
Shane: Nice and so you’ve stayed pretty much have stayed kind of like in the same area for a long time. So it's like you just kind of.
Ryan: Well, that's what happens when you get married and have kids and your wife owns a business, you tend to stay where she is. So, my wife with her family owns an independent insurance agency. So, she's small business owner, right here in the Albany area. Her father has owned the firm, for probably going on 50 years. I want to say it's between 45 and 50 years.
And she's been an owner in that business for five plus years. So, she's buying her way in slowly but surely, that keeps us anchored to this area, which is perfectly fine because this is a nice place to live. And I have had multiple jobs during that time, one of which was actually working for the Murray Group Insurance Services, the name of her agency.
So, I'd say I really became a professional selling insurance boots on the ground salesman. Kind of “the cliché” you know, the white shirt in the black suit with a tie and the briefcase, although I didn't carry a briefcase, kind of pounding the streets selling insurance, that's really where I became a professional.
I had jobs before that, but it wasn't until I worked for my father in law that I really learned what it meant to be a professional, what it meant to sell and not in the kind of hokey you know, three tactics to do this or say this at this moment kind of sales, but true relational value added sales, how you create relationships, not for this year, but for the next 20 years.
And that experience of having to kind of keep what I kill even though I worked my father in law. I wasn't really handed anything it kind of, I was just an employee like anyone else. And that experience really turned me into the professional that I am today.
Shane: Yeah, I'll tell you man insurance is a grind right? I mean, it really is, it's so funny we will talk about insurance and you know, getting out of college I got quite a few, you know there was a few that came and said, hey, you want to get into insurance? And I knew that that would have been hard. But I tell you what's interesting about it is like insurance, if you grind it out for five plus years, you know, the residual side of things. There's some good money there. Right?
And there absolutely is but you absolutely will become a beast at sales. Every day it's a numbers game, right? That's what they tell you. It's like, hey, how many calls Can you make? How many hands can you shake? And it really becomes one of those things, I think, I mean, it sounds like that's really what turns you into what you are today, right? That was a pivotal point of like, hey guess what well, that sucks that you had 948 NOs, because guess what it means you're sneaking up on a yes.
Ryan: Yeah. What's interesting about the insurance and particularly property casualty insurance well, which is the part that I worked in, there's also life insurance that's kind of a different game, although we did sell life too. Life is very much a one-time sale even though you can sell multiple times to the same person.
It is, in essence, a one-time sale where with property casualty, it's all about residuals. So what's interesting to me and what I learned in that experience is investments is sexy, working for Northwestern Mutual or any real investment firm nothing against them. It's perfectly fine way to make a career.
It's super sexy, I mean, you got your series six and all the series seven and you're looking at the stock market and your office has one of those ticker tape things and you're talking about stocks, and that's super cool except that work is just as hard until you hit a certain precipice of success.
You are grinding and so many people just get chopped up and thrown out. Where in the property casualty insurance world there's nothing sexy about it at all. Literally nothing. I lived that life for 16 years. There is nothing sexy about insurance in any regard. That being said, it is the ultimate lifestyle business.
So before 22 year old, well, I won't curse on your podcast. But before 22 year olds we were taking Insta bangers on the beach with their rented cars and a little umbrella. The guy that was actually living that life was an insurance agent. So the dude took two umbrellas down, who's in his 50s, who's actually living that life, that's the insurance agent, right? Like, it's the ultimate lifestyle business.
The problem is, it takes, like you said, five to seven years to build up a book that allows you to get to that point. So no one wants to do that no one wants to, you know, they'd rather read an Ebook that tells them how to get rich in seven days rather than the seven years that it would take to actually get there. And that's a big part of the lesson that I learned while I was working for my father in law.
Shane: Well, that's most people right? I mean, the thing is in nature, most people won't you know, why do the seven second app when I can try to find the three second app, it's like you want to try to figure out how you can do it faster and less work and really what it comes down to like anything you do in life like you want to grind it out, like once again insurance was definitely something that was on my radar, like I knew if I could grind that thing out for five to seven years, I knew what was on the end.
But then I have to figure out, would I be able to take that many punches in five to seven years? Because it's literally I mean, you're being told no a lot more than been told Yes. I look at it not to get into religion at all. But, it's like you are like Mormons who are great salespeople, because for two years, they go on a mission, they're knocking on doors, talking about religion, like it can't be any harder than I think.
I think the only thing that can be more difficult than insurance would be selling a religion to somebody that doesn't want to hear about it. So that's, you know, but it's the grinding that out, it's knocking on those doors. It's the alarm sales, it's all this kind of stuff that, like that is hard. That is a hard business, you are being slammed at, other people are yelling and cursing at you and everything else.
And it's like, wow, like, but you learn how to work with people and how to deal with people and be able to evaluate people, which I think is extremely valuable.
Ryan: Yeah, the other thing that you have to learn is a belief in both yourself and in the product that you're selling. So the thing that's interesting about insurance is no one puts any value on it unless they've had a tremendous loss already. So if you've never experienced a tremendous loss, I'm not talking about a little fender bender, a couple hundred bucks. I'm talking about like, half your house burns down and where are you going to come up with the $200,000 is going to take to rebuild it?
Well, it's not the 1800s, your community is not having a barn raising, right? The only institution that is going to walk up to your front door and go, here's a $200,000 cheque rebuild your house, is the insurance company. Well, no one believes that's ever going to happen, nor do they ever visualize that horrible incident happening to you.
So as an insurance professional, you have to believe in the product even though your client doesn't at all, which is a really interesting dilemma. Like how do you sell something that you believe in wholeheartedly, otherwise you wouldn't be doing the work, to someone who could literally care less like you.
If you mess up, if insurance professional messes up, you have the opportunity to ruin someone's life because you didn't properly set their insurance program up. So it's a major, major decision that no one takes seriously, and they don't actually want to involve themselves in.
So what you learn is to have, and I didn't understand this at the time, this is like, I’ve kind of pulled these lessons out in hindsight. But like, what you learn is to believe deeply and be committed to your product, even when your customer is not. And knowing what that value is, even if they don't understand it as well, and then the caveat to that is being able to sell it to them even though they don't care.
And it's a tough thing to do. But even though I don't work in the insurance industry anymore, those lessons have carried through and, today it's obvious to me that, that time I feel like I have a competitive advantage in other industries because I spent so much time in the insurance industry.
Shane: Yeah, I think so, I used to have an alarm company that we used to do the sales and that's the reason why I know about that. And it was, you know, most of the time people get alarms only when they've already been broken into, right you get a car alarm when you're like, oh, somebody's already taken my system or done something.
Okay, now, I understood I need a car alarm. So usually is the deal, we all want to be in denial until it hits us. And it's like, you know, a car alarm is one thing 300 or 400 bucks, whatever the number is, right? But it's another thing when your house burns down. That's right. That's a whole different level of, like well I think 300 or 400 bucks is not a problem, but hey 400,000 I don't think I have that saved and if so, it was my house that just burnt down. Right?
So it's a lot a lot of reality there that sucks, but that's interesting. Yeah, I mean, it's cool that you kind of cut your teeth that way. I was in early on in the mortgage industry making phone calls, and I hated it…
Ryan: That’s a tough one too.
Shane: Absolutely hated it and because I was like I hated it when I received those calls around six when I'm trying to have dinner with my family this is many months ago. But it absolutely helped me cut my teeth on you know, psychology and people and how to work with people and how to talk to people and so, I think there's some value in those… my son I’m telling like hey, Jacob, when he was like doing paint sales.
This guy this is terrible, you know what, grind it out. Just do it. And because you will realize the value of this later on down the road, because you just won't, it’s one of those things, it's foundational. You'll be able to build upon it, and so anyways, it's kind of interesting, kind of talking about backgrounds and kind of how it got us to where we're at today.
So how big like,so you're obviously in the same area and you'd sounds like you are very grounded there. Like how big was your family growing up?
Ryan: I came from relatively small family. My parents got divorced early. My father never had any more kids. My mom remarried. So I have a sister, who's always just that was a fairly small, small town, like the town that I grew up in, I think had about 1100 people in it. Actually well known for being the third most polluted body of water in the state of New York for a long period of time.
That's something to be known for. But yeah, a small town couldn't wait to get out like one of my drivers in life. And I think part of the reason why my career was so meandering early on, was because I didn't really care. Like my goal wasn't to do or become a thing. It was to get out of the town that I lived in and never have to go back, like, sure I still go back to visit my mom, that's cool, but like, I never wanted to have to live there ever again.
Okay we used to say the criminals didn't steal in our town, they lived in our town, and they went to other towns, that's the kind of town that it was, it just, you know, it just was the kind of place that you couldn't wait to get out of the middle of nowhere, five minutes from the Massachusetts border, 45 minutes from anything, it just wasn't the kind of place that I wanted to go back to.
So I didn't think I had a clear goal on how to get out of it just like I want to get out so that's what actually forced me, that's maybe why some people come out of high school and they're like, this is the thing I want to be, they are laser focused. That was certainly not me and I think that had a lot to do with it.
Shane: So you were like, I just want to get out of this town, like that's what my goal is I don't care where it is. It's just outside of the town. That was the goal, hey, it worked, you hit it.
Ryan: Yeah, kind of.
Shane: I mean yeah,
Ryan: Not that far from it now but yeah.
Shane: That's on the outskirts but still yeah, but still the outside of it but you didn't say how far outside right I mean it's all good.
Shane: So you said you went to Rochester University?
Ryan: University of Rochester, yep, which is right in downtown right along the Genesee River. Yep.
Shane: Nice and what did you go to school for, you said it was in finance.
Ryan: I ended up going to school and graduating with a math degree, a degree in mathematics. So technically,I don't think I can say that I'm a mathematician because I have a BA not a BS in math. But you know, my college experience so I was the first one in my family on either side to go to college.
And you know what, the day that I told my mom that I was going to college she was like, oh, great. Like what do we do? You know, there was nothing against my mom. My mom's amazing. Just there wasn't that, like no one had ever done it before. So there was no expectation.
So I was a fairly decent High School athlete. And I basically took a four hour radius from where I lived. I made a list of every school that had a division three baseball team, because I was a baseball player. And I applied to every one of those schools that I thought there would be a program. I didn't even care what I went… I think I ended up applying for mechanical engineering at Rochester, but that lasted one year.
And I realized real quickly I didn't want to become a mechanical engineer. So, I applied to all the schools and I literally, then sent a handwritten note to every one of the baseball coaches that basically said, you know, who I was, what I had done, some of the achievements that I had in my baseball career, what I was applying for why I was applying to their school and I finished it with whoever offers me the most money is where I'm going to go and that was how I made the decision.
University of Rochester was great, it was a perfectly fine experience, but there was no part of that was like, I can't wait to go here for this. It was literally when I got the financial aid package, I had to pay the least to go there, versus every other school that I applied to even state schools. And for whatever reason, I don't even know why that was, but that's literally how I made my decision to go to college.
I wish it was something like, they had the perfect program for this thing that I want it to be but it wasn't that it was I wanted to get out of this town. College was my way out. And I didn't have a ton of money. I also did not have the wherewithal to take on a ton of debt. So that's I just leverage that to try to find a way to pay for college and it ends up working.
Shane: I love that though, you like to send out a thing to the coach that hey, this is who I am. This is what I've done and just you know, I would totally, totally go to university if you give me the most money.
Ryan: Yes yes
Shane: I mean, why not be more blunt. Like here's the deal, I couldn't come to see you, but here's the deal you guys have to give me as much cash as possible, whoever gives me the most,gets to actually see me in person.
Ryan: The interesting thing that most people don't understand about division three sports in particular, and is that everyone thinks division three sports can't give scholarships. Well, that is true in the very straightforward sense. There are no athletic scholarships, but every school has all these slush fund academic scholarships, general scholarships, and depending on the school and the program, and if you know how important sports are to them, or just where they you know, each school also has a different allocations for different departments that they just like to put out, and they all have access to capital so they can make it work and that's exactly what happened is I got a fairly substantial scholarship from this generous slushed Scholarship Fund, which was literally just called on the finance document, Rochester’s Scholarship.
That was it there was no description, no explanation. It was two words, Rochester Scholarship, and a dollar amount and so this is for anyone listening for whatever it's worth, if you are a good athlete but not obviously someone who's going to go play division one or pro ball but you still would love to make athletics part of your college career, there are opportunities to get scholarships from D3 schools it is possible.
Shane: That's what's funny. So, my son kind of did the same thing he was talking about playing baseball in college and didn't end up doing it, but it was we looked at the same thing. They're like, listen, we don't do scholarships, sports, athletics scholarships, but there's other ways, right? That was kind of the undergoing thing I was like, hey, listen, if they want you enough, they'll figure out a way, right?
I mean it's down to the thing like there's cash somewhere, it's the same money it's just whatever you put the title to be and they can understand these different things. And so it's kind of interesting.
So what was your first job out of college, like after you get out of college and you played some baseball? What was your first job?
Ryan: Yeah, again, I'd love to say I don't have these epic experiences in my life, so I graduated, I guess I just kind of survived mostly. I had a decision to make, I was either going to be good at school or I was going to play baseball, drink booze and chase women and I chose the latter.
It took me two extra classes at the University of Albany post-graduation in May 2003 for me to actually graduate. So I actually went back in Albany, I waited tables, I painted houses, I took a bunch of jobs. And when I finally officially graduated in December of 2003 I drove down to Washington DC which is where a bunch of my buddies on the baseball team have been living.
I had no job I literally just threw all my crap in the back of my pickup truck, quit all three of my jobs on a Friday morning, got in the truck, drove down to DC, turned the living room into a bedroom and a couple weeks later, I found a job working for a finance company.
It was a terrible job, I hated every second of it. It basically was show up in your cube at 8:30 a.m. Open up your laptop work on a spreadsheet, do nonsensical work. It basically was like a stage job you know, it was nonsensical work for eight hours and then the whistle would blow everyone would close their laptop stand up out of their great cube and walk right home.
That was my first, I guess you could call it real job and I quickly got out of that and joined a company called RSM McGladrey, which is at the time it was the fifth largest accounting firm in the country. That was a very good company. I enjoyed working there. I didn't love the work, it was more spreadsheet work, but there was a little more kind of consulting aspect to it.
I got involved in some larger projects, which were kind of fun and that was a good experience I did that for four years. Again, didn't love it knew it wasn't my future. So this is again meandering, but during that time is when I met my wife. So she was living in Boston, I was living in DC. We were actually acquaintances in college like never dated or anything just acquaintances…she's also from Albany, obviously, we randomly saw each other at the mall, the local mall, like we're both home for some over…. doesn’t matter.
Ryan: Bumped into each other made the connection, long term, long distance relationship. And this is where it gets back to the story, she basically gave me like a shit or get off the pot. She's like, I'm moving to New York City.
You move to New York City, or we're not dating, or we are not doing this long distance thing anymore. So again, I quit my job at RSM McGladrey drove to New York City, found an apartment throw all my crap in that apartment, and then started hoofing the street for jobs and ended up landing something with American Express. And I just worked in general finance again for another two years before we ultimately moved Back to Albany.
Shane: We got some similar stories. My wife did the same thing. And maybe this happens maybe most men feel like this happened. My wife hit me with the shit or get off the pot. And the funny part funny and sad part, she's gonna be super excited that I'm telling the world about this story, is like the day that she came to me and said, Oh, I won't go into heavy what she was saying.
But she was like, Oh, I'm in love, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, okay, and she's like, so we gotta figure this out. I'm like, well, we're together, what do we need to figure out? We literally that day broke up, because I was like, I don't know what you're asking, it was like this weird thing. And then we got back together six months later, but it was funny, and I'm like, I feel like we're going in the right direction.
Like I'm not seeing anybody, like what's the problem? And you know, there we go. So should I get off the pot? And so I was like, well, I guess I'll get off the pot, which, you know, six months later, I was like, maybe I should have stayed on the pot.
Ryan: Yeah, I get that.
Shane: We've all been there. Right? So I actually graduated 2003 as well. It took me about 10 years to graduate from college only because I was traveling and have my businesses and I had some other stuff but I was never that… I wanted to finish college but I was just it was never number one on my list. Like, I want to like you. I mean, you went to some other cities and did some different things.
For me it just wasn't, hopefully if my son is listening to this like no you need to finish in four years my friend, but everybody else in the world just go ahead and take 10, I'm just kidding. My son can take 10 years if he needs to I’d like… everybody has their own journey, I guess.
Ryan: You know, that's an interesting perspective. I think it's funny that you would give the four year advice to your son I think, right now, you know, we can go into that or not go into it. I'm fairly down on the standard American liberal arts education in general. I don't know that it's necessary.
I think the STEAM fields, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. I think you need to go to college if you're interested in those areas. Although if arts is debatable, but I think understanding the history of art and where it came from can help you but certainly the STEM fields I throw steam in there because I heard and then it sounded, I liked the idea of that as well.
But everything else, I think you can read a couple books and be perfectly fine, I get that you need to have the diploma for some jobs. And if your goal is to work on Wall Street, then you need to go get your masters and your MBA and probably beyond that. That's just the way it is. But for most of life, I mean, one of the things that I feel like I have today that I didn't have at the time, was no one ever taught me about entrepreneurship.
Like it was never, it's interesting I was actually from my own podcast, I was just having this conversation with Bryan Ferns the other day who I don't know if you know, but if you don't, you should have him on this show. Tremendous guy. Yeah. So we were talking about just our journeys. And I said to him, like, I feel like when I was younger, I intrinsically was drawn to entrepreneurship because we were broke constantly.
I mean, we weren't poor, but we were broke. We were never, never had more than enough to get by. And from that, like I used to wake up at four o'clock in the morning every Thursday and I would walk the streets in my town at 10 years old and collect bottles out of people's recycling bins, and I could make about 30 bucks a week. Putting those bottles in. I did the snow shoveling, I did all these stuff like you know that now Gary Vee is like made famous, right? Like baseball.
You can't say I did baseball cards and I mean, that's all it's kind of cliché now, but like, I did all that stuff. And then I was kind of shown this path of if you go to college, you can get all this stuff you want. And I forgot it. I started believing that literally working for an American Express or an RSM McGladrey, or one of these big huge companies was the only way to get out.
And for a long time, I mean, jeez, if you really chop it up probably a decade of my life. I lost any real belief that I had an entrepreneur inside me. And I feel like I cheated myself, here I am like, Oh, you know, I'm almost 40 and I'm just in the last few years have started to shift back to what I've truly believed like an entrepreneurial mindset and kind of operating in that mentality.
But for a long time, I was just playing the game and it never helped me get ahead. It wasn't until I stepped out of what I think you classically would assume is a career that I actually found my career and started to make my own way. So like I go back and forth this now my children are younger, I have a five and a three year old.
But I've struggled, I've talked to my wife about it, and we've struggled with like, if college is $50,000 a year minimum, I mean, if you want to go anywhere, like Rochester is almost $60,000 now, it was 25 when I went there, like 65 thousand dollars a year for the University of Rochester, I would not pay that. I would say that it is not worth going to that school for that amount of money. So I just, I really struggle with that idea, I don't know.
Shane: So now,I'm with you, so as much as I tell my… I'm being facetious like, hey son you have to get done in four years like I literally told him it's however long you want it's different these days, because the amount of resources that are online, I mean, I've talked about this in my past podcast, like, I don't think it is a necessity I don't think you absolutely have to go that route like I mean, I've actually thought about going back and getting my masters but not because I need my masters in anything that I do.
Just because I would have my Masters like I use what I learned in college and what's going I graduate in 2003 I use like point .01 percent of it and its me being very generous because sitting there at my college and they didn't have one entrepreneurship class. And I'd already been an entrepreneur before I take this class.
Everybody in the class was like, I want to do this and I just want to go own a restaurants so I can go golfing with my friends and all these stuff and these misnomers of like, hey, it's gonna be super easy.It's not going to be a problem like, hey, you could do this and really the universities out there, really your education is tailored towards working for somebody, that's what they do. It's like, hey, you got to go in and you got to jump in, you got to work for enterprise or in a local rental Car Company, you have got to work for American Express, you have got to work for something.
And I'm not saying that's bad. Like, for some people that's their natural course like for me. I knew that I wanted to have my own business because I had my own businesses before I even started college. And I'd always done this when you talk about like the collecting of cans, because I remember I was maybe four or five years old and we were I'm in California now, we were in Oregon we were camping.
And I remember there was, we were going by and this guy was giving cans and they were giving him money and I said Mom, what's going on? Like what's going on there? She goes, Oh, they you know if you get cans you get cash for them. I was like we are camping, like there are cans everywhere.
So I lost my mind, I’m like what? I started digging through garbage cans to go grab cans and my mum was like, what are you doing?And I'm like, I'm going to get the cash, there's cash everywhere like there's trash cans everywhere. So I literally spent my time going around collecting these cans, went and cash them in they gave me my three bucks and I lost my marbles.
I was like, this is the best thing ever. My mom is a nurse, she's like wear gloves do this and I'm like five years old just grind in and out in this garbage can, like Raccoons were pissed off at me because I’m in there they think I’m taking their food, I mean, that was it. I always kind of had that growing up, it was this hey, there's ways to make money, right? I little lemonade stands. And I had this little things.
And I was like, wow, this is really cool. In fact, even today, when I'm just the other day, whenever I drive by any kid, I don't care what they're selling, what they're doing. I will buy lemonade I will buy this I will get a car wash because I think it's important to instill like, hey, there are other ways to make money, right colleges is one of those things like I mean, yes, you can make more money if you go to college.
I'm not saying this for everybody. I would like for my son is going to college and if he wants to get done in four years, great if he could, I've told him literally, if I said earlier in only four years. 10 years is cool, man. I just want you to like stay focused on what you want to stay focused on.
But if you want to make money in other ways, it's not the end all be all, like it's not like if you don't get a college education, you can't make money, because you can, I know plenty of people that have crushed it that didn't go to college. Right. But it's that old school mentality of like, you have to finish college.
Ryan: This is the caveat I will put on the diatribe that I had, was, I still think College is a valuable experience. I think, why we go to college, we have to have that in our head, like, why are we going here? I think that if you're going there to build connections, if you're going there to learn how to learn, like I will say the one thing that I took away from college, I use zero of my math degree, to be honest with you even basic arithmetic I struggle with at this point.
But I did learn how to learn, there's absolutely no doubt that in order for them to give me a diploma, I had to learn how to learn and that part of it, I will say I did take away I also took away how to operate in various hierarchical systems.I was involved in the different organizations and baseball team or fraternity, I was also in the Supreme Court of the school, I was also involved in different academic associations, how to sell yourself to the opposite sex or just someone you're attracted to how to operate in environments and that include drugs and alcohol and still come out and be a…
You know, what kind of decisions are you going to make in those situations? How are you going to handle yourself? Like, there are all kinds of really valuable takeaways from college that I think it's a useful experience. What I struggle with is, I'm going to go to college for a liberal arts education and my life is going to be okay, I think that has been completely disconnected.
Those are not synonymous anymore, it's almost meaningless, if you don't go with the right mentality, why are you going, what are you doing? You should experience, you should have some crazy days, you should use that time to quote – unquote find yourself I know this is a fluffy ideas, but I think it's really important stuff.
I lived life hard in college and today at 38 I have none of that wishful thinking of God, I wish I'd done this, I wish I'd done that, like, I got all that stuff out of my system. Like I lived a fairly fun and exciting existence for a few years. And as an adult with a wife and lovely kids, I don't feel that yearning to go do or chase something. Because I allowed myself to have those experiences.
Shane: Yeah, I think and I agree with you, I agree with you 100%, I think it is important to go because it is a time to, once again, explore yourself or find out what you like what you don't like, I think that is very valuable, right? So you would not get that if you were to start a business and I have friends that got married when they were 18 years old. And they were like, oh, now it's like, I wish I would have done this, I wish I would have done that like, Oh, this experience was for me, I didn't graduate from college until I was 30.
And I did that for a reason. Right? And even though people were like, oh, you got to finish college. I'm like well, but I'm going to go experience things and I can start a business and I can do this and I can provide for myself and I did and I did go back and finish, just because that's what I wanted to do but I mean I went to I think five different colleges like I had enough units to probably help two people graduate.
I mean I'd still need to admit it but it was also great time I learned how to business and traveling and culture and stuff so I think there's a lot to that so let's tie this up, we talk about new experiences in college and stuff like that so you're the CEO of what, metabolic Train Metabolic?
Ryan: Yeah, Metabolic
Shane: Yeah, how did that come about? Like because I'm really intrigued by that because fitness has always been real heavy. I've always been heavy into fitness and boxing and cross field and this and the other and minus injury from about a year and a half ago, like I said, a very active person, I mean I walk and run probably about almost about 10 miles a day right now.
I get up early but I also have an international team so they're all remote so I can be on slack and get stuff done take calls other than breathing heavy on some of the calls, which I think is super awkward for people, like what are you doing I'm just really excited about this call today. I just breathe heavy into the microphone like this is so weird that you breathe heavy into these cell calls, but they are obviously know thatI'm up and about.
Tell us a little bit about Metabolic and how you started that and kind of what the goal is there.
Ryan: Yeah, so I got to metabolic like all things a little bit serendipitously, if I'm taking you forward from our previous things, I was boots on the ground producer for eight years, I really got heavy into the into the marketing aspect. So of the business like I, I kind of got the sales piece underneath me and then I got really into it, okay how I scale inbound opportunities.
You had started this by saying most of your opportunities for your business are inbound. So I had set up our insurance agency and kind of flipped our model where traditional model for insurance is very outbound. I'd flipped it to predominantly inbound and had kind of started making a name for instance on the national insurance scene as an agent who could do that.
That transitioned into, I kind of wanted to test myself like doing it for 14 person independent agency in Upstate New York is cool, but I got the opportunity to take those same skills and apply them on a national level as a consultant and insurance technologist and actually had the opportunity to form my own brand as part of a sister brand to an already existing brand called Agency Nation.
And I was the Chief Marketing Officer of that company. We grew that business I did that for four years, we took that audience from a non-existent brand to over 500,000 unique visitors to that website. Inside the insurance industry, we put on an 850 person conference that was profitable, like we did some really awesome stuff there. And, and I was very proud of that.
Eventually, one of the things that I found to be really interesting, and one of the things I like to talk a lot with people is leader executive relations. So I kind of fell into a point where I was a chief marketing officer, but I was very much operating my unit as the CEO and some of it might have been lessons that I had to learn in terms of maybe I was overstepping my bounds but I hit a point with the actual CEO of the of the overall enterprise in which we started to fall like I didn't, his vision for what we should be doing and mine started to diverge.
And that happens. I'll take some of the blame for that, for sure. I've learned a lot from that experience. I then joined another insurance technology company, which wasn't really a good fit. But that whole time, I had been doing Metabolic as a client. It's a local gym that started here in the Albany area by Matt Phelps, who's now my partner, he actually sits right there now, he's not here, I'm alone.
But when it started, when I joined, there's about 120 people. And I was like, one of five guys and a bunch of ladies and we were doing this workout and it was really interesting, it was a lot of body weight, a lot of strength and the whole concept of metabolic training. You can Google this metabolic resistance training, if you're looking for the official title, the philosophy is ‘strength at a pace’ so every exercise has a load, but you're doing them in rapid session so it keeps your heart rate up.
So you get the same cardiovascular impact on your body that you would as if you're running except you're also strength training at the same time. So, reduce your training time reduce the impact on your body, and you're doing non-Olympic lifts you're doing very sustainable safe lifts that create consistency and functional mobility. So it's a really… I won't go into the technical aspects of it because I don't have any kind of background in fitness.
And these are more my CEO talking points. But what I will say is that the workout absolutely works. Some of the course of that time I lost 35 pounds, I kept it off. I turned I went from 35 year old feeling like I was 45 to a 35 year old feeling like I was 25 again, and I still feel that way today. During that time period, I became friends with the founder and I just helped him with some marketing stuff.
So love the business so much right like this is why I say there's serendipity. Like I took a lot of meetings with him and gave him a lot of advice that I think a lot of people if they weren't thinking about, if they weren’t coming from a mindset of abundance, which is something that I absolutely, positively believe in, I think it's maybe used a little too much. So it sounds a little bit like a cliché, but I think about abundance almost daily, and how I can add to the world and not subtract.
So I was happy to help this guy, who, I liked. And I like this business. And so, and over that time period, we got to know each other, he got to know me as a business professional. So he also grew his business from 150 members to almost 3000 during that time, and he now has six locations, and he wanted to grow nationally. And what he said to me was, I'm a gym guy, I'm not a business guy, I need a partner who is a business guy who can help me take this to the next level.
And I came in about eight months ago. That's my role. So we're going to double the size of our business and the next eight months, we're going to put six new locations by March. And hoping to put another six on in September, and every March and September for the seeable future, we'll be adding more and more locations. All the locations will be corporately owned.
So it's not a franchise, we're just rolling them out. It's a human centric business. And, you know, there's some really interesting marketing problems. So you take like some of our competitors, you're in California. So you know of orange theory, you probably know that 45, which is very big in California. I'm not exactly sure where you are in particular, but if you're in any of the major metropolitan area 45 is there too.
I would say those are two businesses that you could compare us to in terms of boutique the consistency of what we're trying to do, the quality of the brand, the quality of the training, the different training philosophies, but the quality of the business presentation and the consistent and presentation is what we would like.
So the major difference is, their model is moving away from not completely but away from a trainer centric model. So they're injecting technology and ways to scale their business to keep consistency, which absolutely positively makes sense to me. I'm not anti-technologist or anything. But we are going the other way. So our product, you know, we don't use flashing lights or crazy colors.
Our model is based on the fact that our trainers are world class. So there's no TV monitors, there's no gamefication. We don't put heart rate monitors on you, although you can obviously wear one if you care. It's all about our trainers’ ability to deliver individualized workout in a community setting.
So you may be surrounded by 47 other people, but you feel like you're getting individualized personalized training. And there's a whole methodology to that which I won't bore you with unless you care, but I believe so firmly in it that it was worth moving out of an industry that I had been in for 16 years to 15, whatever it was to move into a space, I don't know anybody. And so and it's been a lot of fun.
Shane: Well, that's interesting, so I have so many parallels. It's kind of funny. So I actually myself, I had a business this was kind of maybe 10 years ago now, I was probably about 30 pounds overweight as well, I was probably two I think I got it to 230 something. And the premise of it is I was working 18 hours a day, it was just a crazy situation.
And I start working out start doing kind of the same thing, watch my caloric intake and then start working out and doing some stuff. And it's once again, it's changed my life as well. I feel like I'm healthy now. I can do some stuff minus like I said, other than this injury that I got, which is a whole other conversation. I’m getting better now, but it's just interesting how something like that changes your life.
And now it looks like you guys are looking to change other people's lives, right? I mean, it's like we are concerned in the training metabolic people understand the premise of that is exactly what you said right? It's more cardio, you feel like you're doing cardio but yet you're also doing strength training at the same time and its shorter workouts.
You don't have to be in there for three hours and, and do you know crazy amounts, you know, spend half your day in the gym doing that it's the short like these almost like these hit, right? It's almost like hit like where you're fast,fast getting your stuff in high intensity type training.
Ryan: Yeah, hits is a four letter word here, but yes, I completely understand the closest correlation unless you've actually done metabolic training. So it's just giving a hard time it's completely cool. Yeah, and I will say this, like, what I found is, I was a professional speaker for a long time, I did as many as about 45 keynotes in a year so never as many as some other really top notch guys, but I was certainly maybe that next level down and, I gave up all of that.
Because what I realized is that work was all… what I love is helping people feel better about themselves and be more comfortable with themselves and whatever shape that forms I just I love that. I don't want to… I really struggle with… I don't want to go into the self-help, I don't want to sell.
I don’t just want to, I don't say just because I don't think there's anything wrong with it but like, I don't just want to write books and sell Ecourses. Like I think that's great work. And I love that work and I have no problem with it. But I kind of wanted to have something substantial behind it. Like I felt like I didn't earn the right to do that work yet because I had never done enough physical in the real world stuff to warrant any advice that I would give in that space even though I would love to believe that at least I have some expertise.
So when I saw the opportunity, and my work even in insurance had gravitate away from like tactical insurance stuff into more like how do you feel good about what you're doing because if you feel good about what you're doing, then you will deliver a better sales presentation, you'll be able to manage your people better you'll be able to handle an angry customer’s phone call better, if you feel better about yourself and what you're doing.
So a lot of my work was about making insurance cool and we won't go into all that. And when I really started to realize that all of a sudden my writing which if anyone is interested I do a ton of writing that doesn't directly relate to any of the specific industries it's more just general stuff at ryanhanley.com you can find it there.
But I found it up man, it was all about this you know, confidence and strength and in those words maybe weren't right there for me at the time. But when I got into this job I was like, I was like oh my god, I can take this kind of the psychological side which is what I love personally mirror it to the physical side the diet and the health and just the physical activity and the community. I can marry all that together in one place.
And wouldn't that be something pretty powerful and special? And I found out that I have a founder that I work incredibly well with. And he provides me with the freedom to talk about the things that I want to talk about personally that he knows are part of who I am.
Because he knows on the backside, that I'm going to push this business and do everything I can to make it successful. And that give and take is very special many, founders, I don't think would allow a non-founding executive to have as much freedom as I'm able to have and in return, I would like to believe that he gets 125% from me at all times.
Shane: Yeah, that's awesome and I think we talked about that, like, one of the things we've been talking about is the health of an organization. I think the premise of that probably is the foundation of balance, of having… Hey, I mean, the way I start my day, I can't believe you walk 10 miles in a day like I did this morning. Well, I get up at 5am and for me, that's great, it's great for stress.
Since I can still get some work done, I can still do things and I can still have conversations through my phone or sometimes I don't, sometimes I'm not, I'm just listening to music or sometimes I listen to audible tapes or whatever that is. But it's time for me to start my day off. Right having that foundation and I think that helps my organization because if I was stressed out every day, if I was eating crazy, I'm not saying I'm not eating crazy.
I did say I'm working out I'm not saying, I haven't stopped drinking beer to all my Irish people out there and I totally only changed.
Ryan: Please don’t
Shane: No I won't trust me. It’s like it's inside my whole generation. So I can't stop that. But I can walk more. So let's talk about that real quick. I just want to touch about when we talk about like a healthy organization. Obviously, you know, having balance and stuff like that. Why don't you touch on a little bit like what is your definition of a healthy organization?
Ryan: Yeah. So I'm going to start by addressing your balance comment and I promise I will backdoor into healthy organization. Here's my thought on balance. I don't know that consistent balance should be our goal. I think that balance should be something we find spread out over a long term, I think when we think about balance, we think about it in too short of a time period, like will be like in a day.
Well, I didn't read today, so I'm out of balance. And it's like, yeah, how many times did you read this month? Or how many times did you read this quarter? Or how many walks Did you take this quarter, I think, too often we get a little messed up on the idea of balance, because we think about it in these short little intervals. And really, I think balance is more about what our lives look like, over a much broader period of time, maybe even a few years.
I mean, there are six month blocks of my life, where I was so out of balance, it would be incredible yet if you then take the next six months and match it against the previous, you'd be like, oh, everything's fine. And, I think these are just conversations we need to have with yourself and with our spouse or our business partners so that… you may want to write a book, you're going to go completely manic for a period of time, but that's okay.
If once it's over, you come back and maybe you give a little more, so I think the idea of balance is my one thing on balance because I do think it's a good term, some people fight it, I just think we need to extend the period of time and not give ourselves such a hard time like over a longer period of time, you want to trend line to be fairly even keel, it's going to spike up and down all the way through. Okay, that's my idea of balance.
So as far as a healthy organization, I kind of have my belief structure is a slight dichotomy. I'm a firm believer in hierarchies that you need a hierarchy structure. I'm a strong staunch opponent to flat structures, I feel like they are the quickest way to feel really good about your failing organization.
And that being said, the reason that I believe in hierarchies is because you need a hierarchy to get things done. In order to get things done there has to be a clear sense of how an idea is passing through an organization who's responsible for what gets done by which individuals. That being said, I do not think that we treat each other as if we're in a hierarchy and I certainly don't think ideas flow in a hierarchical structure.
Just I think you have to have a hierarchy in order to be a… in order to be fast moving, there needs to be a clear sense of what needs to get done where and in order to not let things slip through the cracks. I think you need a hierarchy. That being said, I don't think the person quote - unquote, at the bottom of the hierarchy is any less valuable to an organization for the most part, certainly, their ideas are not less important and certainly they should be treated with the same amount of respect and trust and all that as anyone else.
So I think a healthy organization is an organization that has a solid, understood well communicated structure that also provides opportunities for, vertical idea flow, right? There needs to be flow throughout the organization, they need to be cross pollination, they need to be conversations, there needs to be opportunities for people to mix and, and hey, I never knew that you did this and what would it have you ever thought about this idea, we need to be willing to accept ideas from up and down the chain and throughout the organization.
But at the same time, I also believe that your organization has to have solid flow. So when you have that, your culture isn't ping pong tables, or lacks schedule, your culture is respect and communication, and carrying through on the tasks that you have either decided to take on or have been passed down to you based on your role in that organization.
And ultimately, a clear and concise communication culture, that's what I think because there's always gonna be problem, someone's gonna have a bad day and say something they shouldn't have said, you know I mean like, I feel like right now we want to chastise or worse cancel someone because of something they said or did and trust me there are plenty of people doing things they shouldn't be doing in the world and I'm not making excuses for anybody but I think we need to be slightly understanding both ways.
And we need to be very clear and concise in our communication and if that's the case, we can work through most problems, hey, I need a couple extra weeks for maternity leave, here's why I need those things and what I'm willing to give in exchange for those things, no problem.
Hey, I would like there to be, this policy which isn't normal in an organization such as this and here's why I think I would like it and then the people in a position to make those things happen, need to be willing to accept those ideas, understand them, and hopefully put them into practice. But that's probably a long winded way of answering that question. There's nothing concise about that answer.
Shane: No, no, I like what you're saying that regards to healthy organization. I mean, it talks about communication and being open and having that line and I do think hierarchy I do believe in that.
And I do think sometimes when people feel like if you're at the bottom that you're not being heard, so I do think that you know, there's some way to make it so you have that open communication ideas and stuff or are warranted and you know, once again, not always perfect, but at least they can have those conversations I don't think that's a bad thing at all. So what about the different… because you talk a little bit about your book the content…
Ryan: Content Warfare
Shane: Content Warfare, if I say that out loud, that's a tongue twister, tell us a little bit about that book what inspired you to write that book, was it the things that you've done in the insurance industry and you kind of said, hey, listen, I got some good stuff here some methodology that I should be showing the world or how did that come about?
Ryan: Content marketing was the vessel in which I grew my insurance practice my personal book of business, and when I was operating on about $150 a month budget. I was driving anywhere between 90 and 120 inbound leads into my business I was signing, I was writing, I guess in that industry is writing, about 50% of them.
So I was making an F ton of money and conversion rate was ridiculous. And content marketing was literally every aspect of content marketing was exactly how I would how I did it, from the tactical to the strategic to the philosophical. I was a firm believer, and absolutely everything that content marketing was at that time, and I use those tools to grow my business.
I shared my story. I was tactically relevant, all that kind of stuff. So in doing that work, I also felt because there were so many people in the insurance industry who were looking for something like that, who hadn't had it, I started sharing those tactics and that's how my speaking career began. I was really a content marketing and communication speaker.
Although brevity it will never be one of my communication specialties. So I also, it's not necessary that mass of audience, and people wanted more and more of my time. And I said, okay, I'll put it all in a book. That being said, I did not want to go through the hassle of a traditional publisher at the time.
So I crowdfunded that book I raised just over $11,000, in 21 days, I used all that money to both create the physical copies of the book that the people who had done the crowdfunding had bought, and also pay for, you know, like professional copy editing, story editing, cover design, interior design, and all the things that go into actually making a real self-published book.
So I self-published the book, released in February of 2014. So it's a few years old now. Most of the stories are still relevant. There's probably a decent chunk in there that isn't any more, like I talked about Google Plus, because that was a thing back then. And it was a really interesting experience, crowdfunding was blew my mind the ability to raise that amount of money in that few days.
And to be honest with you, I raised most of it, I raised like 8000 of it in the first three days. And I just really didn't do that much work after that, because I was so close to my goal of 10 K, I had a couple of plans, things that I did after that but that was really, really interesting. It showed me the power of a community, and what having a community can do for your business.
And I've sold 2500 plus copies of that book, over the course of the years, I also had a full time job, I was a CMO of a company so and they weren't particularly keen on pushing that book super hard. So that was a little bit of tension there. So there was this weird I have to kind of push this in my free time kind of thing.
But yeah, no, that was a really an incredible experience, and I don't know that I would self-publish if I were to write another book today, I still believe in self-publishing but having done at once, I would probably want today to try to go a traditional publishing route just to experience that. And then I would always go back to self-publishing, I think self-publishing is tremendous.
You have to do it right and you're held to a higher standard, which is tough. Even though you know, you could line up a self-published book next to a traditionally published book, the self-published book has to be of higher quality than the traditionally published book in order to gain an attraction, which I think is unfair, but kind of reality today. I'm hoping that continues to change but, it was an awesome experience.
Shane: Yeah, well, you've got a great, great foundation now if you want to get up with a bigger publisher, get on with publisher, I don't think it would be too difficult. So well, we're getting to the end of this podcast, but this has absolutely been awesome.
But I'm going to get into some real personal questions here. So I'm glad you're sitting down on this podcast. So if you could have one superpower, what would that superpower be?
Ryan: When you send me this question, I thought about this a lot. I tell you, mine is probably not that interesting. I would love to be able to read faster. Like, I truly believe that power comes from knowledge. And, you know, like, it'd be cool to say, I love to be able to fly. But then the first time I catch a bird strike, like I'm gonna be super pissed.
So I don't know that… if I could read like 10x faster than I can and I could just plow through books like right now I'm trying to get through on Robert Greene'sMastery, and I’m just like, oh, it's so good. But it is like 10 tones on pages this big. It's a beast to get through if I could read faster, that would be a tremendous superpower.
Shane: Do you read books? Or do you actually listen to audible?
Ryan: I wish I could take in the information through audible the same way I can if I read and I just can't, I’m like, I destroy books. I dog ear them I put tags in them, I underline them I write notes. So, I gave my copy of Jordan Peterson's 12 rules for life which I think is the best book. I think it was written in 2018 is when he published it absolutely tremendous life changing book for me personally.
And I gave that to somebody and he was like, this books not fun I can't come to any of my own conclusions because you've literally written into it like a textbook, because to me that's what they are like, well written books are textbooks, their textbooks for your life there.
I go back and I reference like, you know, I just I reference a lot of books. I have a whole bookshelf I reference books constantly like it's not just for vanity. Maybe some of them are for vanity. I actually starting to think Robert Greene's Mastery is for vanity because it's just so dense. I don't know how I'm ever going to get through it, but you know I truly find them to be textbooks for my life.
I constantly reference my favorite authors I'm rereading. Last month I reread the Subtle Art of not Giving an F by Mike Manson or whatever. Mark Mason, whatever doesn't matter. But I reread that last month, this month I'm rereading purple cow by Seth Godin. Right? Like you can plow through that book in a couple of days it's no problem.
But the idea is like, I just want to refresh the ideas because the core philosophies I actually reread Seth Godin's The dip, six months ago, because I felt that coming on, I was worried about that in our business right here I didn't want us to put a toe and I wanted to think through that. So that's a textbook for my marketing life.
I go in bam I pass through it, I look for my highlights, so I sound like I'm reading the whole book word for word. I'm kind of getting to the core principles that I pulled out earlier. It allows me to completely refresh my brain and bam, now I feel like I just read it for the first time again, and I'm putting the information to use, so yeah.
Shane: That's the way to do it, it's funny, so my ultimate goal or what I thought was gonna be my ultimate goal was to listen to audible tapes and actually buy the book and highlighted as we as I go through it like in other words, somebody would read it to me and I would just go through. And it's just it never worked out, like I have all these books that I've never even read.
I mean, I listened to it audibly, and I go and now I take notes with my phone and do some stuff. But yeah, that was kind of I've got to come up a little bit of a better system, I actually quit reading books or quit listening to books just a few months ago. And so it's actually something that I've kind of talked about jumping back into, especially with, I just wrote down the 12 Rules of Life. I'm going to probably check that one out as well.
Ryan: Do it, let me know what you think, that was a life-changing book for me.
Shane: Okay, that's awesome. WellRyan, this has been awesome and like I said, you got a great energy about you. And if anybody needed to get in contact with you, I mean, obviously I know you guys have train metabolic right? dot com
Ryan: If you're interested in the fitness side of my life and everything I'm doing there, go to trainmetabolic.com you can learn all about us. Unfortunately, unless you're in Upstate New York, it would be hard for you to find one of our gyms today. Hopefully that will not be true in a few years.
If you're interested in just my work or me individually go to ryanhanley.com and you can find just about anything there I'm also probably the best social network is either Twitter or the Gram, Ryan Hanley underscore calm on Twitter and Ryan underscore Hanley on Instagram. None of my handles are the same. I'm like the worst brand ever but yeah, you can find me on all the socials and happy to answer questions or just connect or just, you know, I love to chat about this stuff. So it's been my pleasure to be here, man.
Shane: Yeah, man, thanks for coming on, by the way it's been awesome. And if you guys like listening to this podcast which is why we hear more, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. We have more guests on like Ryan, and Ryan once again many thanks for being on the show. But we'll be talking with you soon.
Ryan: Thanks so much.
Shane: Cool. Thanks, brother, bye bye.