Ep. 2 – Wayne Dunne & Stephen Kearney: Big Challenges = Big Breakthroughs


In 2015, Wayne and Stephen had stopped growing. They had accumulated over $120,000 in debt from a remodel of their facility and felt completely overwhelmed. They reached out to NPE to get support with establishing a strategy and plan to improve profitability, grow revenue, and improve cash flow to improve the financial health of their business. But they weren’t new to facing and overcoming adversity. 

Former investment bankers from Dublin, Ireland, Wayne and Stephen immigrated to the USA by taking advantage of a unique opportunity to open a new studio for an Irish company. After falling in love with California and growing the new studio to great success, they left their jobs to open The Training Loft in their home garage in West Hollywood, California. Within a few months they received a notice from their homeowners association to ‘cease and desist’ running a business out of their home. Three days later they had researched and found a commercial location, negotiated a lease, and opened their studio to begin their next adventure. Since joining NPE in 2015, they’ve grown their studio to a high six figure income (approaching seven), gotten debt free, and are now preparing to open location #2.  

In this episode you’ll learn more about:

1. How Stephen & Wayne started in the investment banking industry in Ireland

2. How they transitioned into the fitness industry after going through personal fitness transformations

3. Their journey to the USA and Los Angeles to open up a new facility for an Irish company

4. How they started their garage gym from scratch after texting some friends

5. How they managed through getting a notice from their HOA to move their business and how they secured a lease and opened up a new facility in less than 4 days

6. How they changed their mindset from ‘get more clients’ to looking at the big picture and getting on the right path to create long term success in business

7. The key systems they used to get back control from the chaos they had created during their early years in business 

8. How they grew to value themselves more, charge what they’re worth, improve their packaging, and fall in love with the numbers to drive financial performance with their business

9. How they created a strategy and plan to successfully pay off $120,000 and became debt free in 12 months 

10. What they’ve done to have continual best-months-ever in business, exceeding their revenue goals, and reach capacity

11. How they navigated a 30-day eviction notice of their studio when their landlord died, the building was sold, and the new owners wanted them out

12. Keys they use to continue facing and overcoming adversity when it shows up

13. And much more…

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Podcast Transcript

Sean Greeley: All right, welcome to the show guys. I’m here with Stephen Kearney and Wayne Dunne, who own the Training Loft in West Hollywood, California. They’ve been long-time MPE clients for several years now. They’re in our NPE Pro Mastermind Program for quite some time. I get the pleasure of working with them and seeing them regularly. They’re also not too far away from me as the crow flies here in Los Angeles, California, and very excited to have you guys to the show today. Welcome. Great to have you here.

Stephen Kearney: Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Wayne Dunne: Great to be here, thanks.

Sean Greeley: Awesome. So for those, kind of to hear a little bit of the background story, you guys are from Ireland. You’re native Irish heritage. Came to the US as immigrants, and have a unbelievable story. But tell everybody where you’re from originally.

Wayne Dunne: We’re true Irish cabbage-eating folks, indeed.

Stephen Kearney: Yes.

Wayne Dunne: Originally hail from Dublin Ireland, City Centre boy. Was born there, grew up for a few years in Melbourne Australia, and moved back to Dublin. I thoroughly love the country. I miss it dearly sometimes, but you look out the window and then you realize, “Why? We’re here.” So yep, that’s where I’m from.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah, and I’m from Cork, which we say is the real capital of Ireland. I’ve done my traveling as well. I’ve lived in London and I lived in Paris for a while. I’m going to move back. I’m going to move to Dublin. That’s where I actually met Wayne. We both worked in an investment bank, and that’s where we met. That’s where it all started.

Sean Greeley: Awesome. We have a lot in common. We all live in Los Angeles, in California. We also have Irish heritage. We’re fair-skinned, and a little bit of ginger, and all the good stuff. I love we share that as well. So your background in the fitness industry, you didn’t start in fitness. You guys started in finance. I know Wayne, you have degrees in mathematics and actuarial science. So tell everybody just how you guys got into fitness in the first place.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah, I’m a total nerd. Went to Dublin City University, got a degree in actuarial finance and mathematics. Absolutely loved it with a passion, and still do to this day. I think I always will. But once I left university, got into the corporate world, and very quickly saw a huge decline in just overall physical shape, ability, endurance, all those kind of things, to the point where three years after leaving university I was 30 pounds out of shape, which was just something I was never, ever used to. I was always pretty fit and active in school and university, and just hated it. From a financial perspective, working in actuary was very rewarding, but from a physical and health perspective, absolutely hated how I looked and felt, and energy-wise, and all that kind of stuff.

Wayne Dunne: Fortunately I found an amazing trainer, an amazing place in Dublin Ireland where I started training, called the Educogym. They literally turned my life around from a personal standpoint. Eventually left the financial world, went back to school, did all the things I needed to do to become a personal trainer, and joined Educogym. That’s how it all kicked off for me.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. I’m kind of the same. I worked in Trinity College for a couple of years, and I was there in front of a computer for sometimes up to nine to 11 hours a day. And even though I used to go to the gym, it was just something that … I like to move around. I kind of always liked health and fitness. Then I kind of watched my dad suffer from cancer a lot, so that kind of edged me towards the fitness industry and wanting to be healthy, and help others as well.

Stephen Kearney: That’s kind of how I connected with Wayne in investment banking. We both kind of wanted the same thing. Then when we got the opportunity to move to California to work for a … to manage an open gym sort of …, that was a big yes for us. A very easy yes.

Sean Greeley: Yes. So tell us how you came to the States, and what started your journey here.

Wayne Dunne: Sure. Worked with Educogym for a few years. Both of us ended up working with Educogym. We were in an investment bank, we met in the same bank. We decided to leave together, work for Educogym together. Wonderful synergy. And one day the CEO of Educogym came to me and said, “Hey, I have an idea about opening one of these locations in Los Angeles.” I don’t think he even had finished the word ‘Los Angeles’ and I was like, “Yes. I’ll go.”

Wayne Dunne: It was supposed to be originally for a two-year stint, where we were going to come over, open a location for him in downtown LA which is still there and still thriving, and that’s exactly what we did. So our two years came and went very, very quickly. 2010, we looked at each other and said, “I don’t want to go anywhere.”

Stephen Kearney: When you wake up to the blue skies, and just when you’re in California there’s so many places to see outside of here. Then we just loved the lifestyle. It’s a very healthy city. The food is great. It’s something that we really loved, and we didn’t want to go. That was the opportunity for us to say, “Okay, let’s sort out our green card, and we want to stay.”

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. That was a journey in itself. Not a Visa journey, but … we went back to the CEO. We said, “Hey, listen. We want to stay.” He was more than happy to keep us on at that point in time. We stayed there until 2012, when we eventually went to him and said, “Hey, listen. We’ve offered you everything we possibly could at this point in time. We’d like to leave and do our own thing. Obviously we’d love your blessing and that.” He was more than happy at that point to give it.

Wayne Dunne: We still stay in touch with that guy. An amazing guy, and we’ve had a great relationship ever since then. But we left in 2012, and we opened up the Training Loft, and that’s how it began. When I say we opened up Training Loft, we opened up in our garage, in our house, and we started training our friend.

Stephen Kearney: When we left Educogym we had no plans at all, so we had to start from scratch. So we just texted a few friends and said, “If you are looking for a trainer, we have a garage in our house.”

Wayne Dunne: Did we say, “If you’re looking for a trainer@ or “You better be looking for a trainer”?

Stephen Kearney: Pretty much. Pretty much “You’d better help us with this.”

Wayne Dunne: Yeah.

Stephen Kearney: So we started off in our garage. We started from one, and then in the space of six months we had like 30 or 40 people coming in and out of our property, which our neighbors wondered what’s going on there. People come out sweating after 30 minutes.

Wayne Dunne: They were like, “What kind of business are you guys running?” So we got a letter from the HOA one day, and they said, “Guys, we understand you’re running a little home business, which is great but not permitted.” That began really the Training Loft. We went trawling the streets that very day. I’ll never forget it. It was a Wednesday. We went trawling the streets, looking for an available location in our neighborhood. At the very end of the day, we found a location at 307 South Orlando Avenue. We went in. There was a business in there, it was a marketing business, and we spoke with the … well, we asked to speak with the landlord.

Wayne Dunne: This great lady came down, Desiree, and we said, “Hey, we want this space. We need this space. We know this company is moving out in two months, but we need to be up and operational by Monday.” So she thought we were absolutely crazy, but she entertained us. That was Wednesday, and the following Monday morning at 6:00 a.m., we opened the Training Loft in that space. She moved that company out into an available place that she had, and we moved our machine in over the weekend, by hand. It was four brick walls, and we just started training. We texted all our clients on that Sunday night and said, “Hey, by the way, you’re not coming to our house tomorrow. We found this local place, and it’s our new gym. You can come there.”

Wayne Dunne: That was the birth of the actual Training Loft.

Sean Greeley: I love it. I love it.

Stephen Kearney: We ran around all that weekend. We needed to run to Home Depot. We bought flooring. We bought plants to make it look great. So yeah, we put everything into it.

Wayne Dunne: We could afford two plants at that time. Yeah. So-

Stephen Kearney: But it did look great. We have pictures, which we’d love to share with anybody whose interested. We’d love to share those.

Wayne Dunne: I will share those. Yeah.

Sean Greeley: Yeah. We got to bring those out for sure.

Stephen Kearney: Just don’t judge ….

Wayne Dunne: Yes.

Sean Greeley: No, no. I love it because your story, like many successful entrepreneurs, is marked with a big challenge turned into a stepping stone and a jumping-off point to the next opportunity, right? I know we’ll talk about this a few times in the conversation today, but talk about … this is a big leap, right? You’re like, “Okay, we either can’t operate a business, or we’re finding a lease and finding a way to open a location in three days, right? Four days.

Stephen Kearney: Yes, pretty much. That was our ultimatum. It was we’re either going to lose everything that we’ve built in the last whole six months, which to us was our life, you know. It was our life back then. It was either do or die. It was that or go home. You know, we knew we didn’t want the alternative, so it was, get out there and do whatever we figured was necessary to maintain what we had developed at that point in time with that. That was it. That was the ultimatum for us at that point in time, get this place open by Monday morning, which we did. And it was chaotic.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. And we still have a life to live. Like, we had to pay our rent at home. We had bills to pay, so we had to create something in order to get income, in order to do that, to live here. So it’s, going to have to hustle and just be determined and move forward.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. I think the one thing we always knew, though, was where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do, and who we wanted to serve, and why we were in this business in the first place, and how it transformed our lives into something. I think, you know, 15 years ago if you were to ask us, “Hey, in 15 years’ time, you’re going to be living in Los Angeles. You’re going to own a studio in Los Angeles,” we would have thought you were absolutely crazy. But as you go along the journey, and start to figure these things out, it’s incredible the effect that this lifestyle and this journey has had, just on our personal lives, our professional lives, on every aspect of who we are right now. It’s just been an incredible transformation from so many different perspectives. Not just health, but mental. Everything. And just to be able to impart that to other people and see what’s possible is an incredible gift, to say the least. So yeah.

Sean Greeley: I love it. I think it’s fair to say that there is no greater personal development journey than deciding to become an entrepreneur and starting your own business.

Stephen Kearney: That’s right.

Sean Greeley: You’re going to be faced with everything you could imagine, and will you allow yourself to be transformed? Because it’s required, not optional, to continue.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think the one thing I remember my mom and dad always kind of instilling in me from a very, very young age is that the only thing constant in this world will be change, and you move with it, and you adapt, and you figure out difficulties, and problems, and issues, as and when they come. You figure it out that way. One thing NPE have always taught us was that there are no problems, there are just the perception of that problem that becomes the problem, and I think that was a huge part … It was almost like a stamp of approval, learning that from NPE. It was always, I kind of had that idea, but now I’m hearing it from other very successful entrepreneurs within NPE.

Stephen Kearney: And I feel part of this community that all experiences what we have gone through as entrepreneurs. We thought we were so unique, you know, and then we meet all these other amazing studio owners at NPE, and they all tell their stories, which are very unique. But the issues and the challenges, and the hurdles, are all very similar in that journey. It’s amazing to share those and understand that you haven’t been alone. There’s been other people that have gone through everything you’ve gone through. It’s a wonderful feeling, to feel part of that community.

Wayne Dunne: I know it’s silly, but it’s kind of comforting when you … here are the people with the same problems as you.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah.

Wayne Dunne: Sometimes you feel you’re … yourself, and then you hear other people who’ve … certain things. Like, okay, just go move ahead and deal with them. Everybody else is. It’s just part of life.

Stephen Kearney: You’re not the unlucky one.

Sean Greeley: Yes. No, you’re not. No, you’re not. You’re not alone. Yeah. Let’s jump into 2015, when we first came to meet each other. You first started working with NPE. Tell everybody what was going on in the business, and how did you find us, and what encouraged you to engage NPE.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah, sure. So three years on in business, we found out that we were not the masters of the universe that we thought we were. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just simply the case. We figured out that we were surviving in business, and we were, you know, from our training in risk analysis and finance and all that kind of stuff, we were doing some of the right things. But we had no clue how to grow, we had no clue what was important. At that point in time, I think we always just felt it was, if we could just get more clients, you know. It was that type of mentality. Getting more clients is, what? 20% of the battle, almost. There’s so much more. Which we always knew, but we just didn’t know where the resources for that unknown were going to come from.

Wayne Dunne: We were getting your emails that were coming out at the time, and we were reading them, and a lot of them made a huge amount of sense to us. There was so much information in those emails that just clicked with me. I remember one day … We must have been getting those emails, I would say from anywhere for about six months before we actually said, “Let’s give these guys a call.” That’s where it all started, was just reading that information, making it click with us, have it resonate with exactly the point in time that we seemed to be at, at that point, which was stuck. We were just at a point where we were like, “We’ve gotten this place to where it is right now, but we have no idea of what the next step is, or should be, where we should be putting our resources, how we’re going to figure all this out, and how do we continue to grow and expand so that we can help more people, and employ people, and all that kind of stuff.

Wayne Dunne: Lo and behold, I picked up the phone one day, and I called in and made an appointment to meet with Rick, who was an Aussie. I was so happy to hear that. We made an appointment and we met, and he just did the most wonderful presentation to us that seemed to resonate with exactly the point in time that we seemed to be at right then, and it was just like literally a no-brainer for us to try this out, and see how it went.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. And we were okay to say … At that point we were kind of stuck. We didn’t know what changes to make, and we’re not afraid to say that we kind of needed help with our business at that point.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. And I think it’s not because I’m on the podcast with you, Sean. Had we not made the decision at that point in time, there is not a hope in hell or a chance that we would be sitting here right now, thinking of opening a second space before January. I absolutely know that with hand on heart. As I said, I’m not just mentioning that now because I’m on a podcast with you. I know that from the bottom of my heart, for sure.

Wayne Dunne: When we made that decision, it has been the best business decision that we have ever made. We made decisions about who we were employing, where we were going to spend the limited dollars that we had in terms of marketing or getting in new people, or whatever it was.

Stephen Kearney: We needed to control our finances so much better, and your guys’ guidance with that. I think for us, the big changes were the opening bank accounts, which was a huge thing for us. Because we had everything in one account, and then you guys taught us to separate everything out. That was an amazing thing. We saw a very quick transformation with that. That was amazing, so we thank you guys.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. Getting back, it was, just going off what Stephen said there, it was getting back control of the chaos that we had created ourselves by being in an arena that we were unfamiliar with, even though we had a background in finance and we had a background in risk analysis and all that kind of stuff. It was gaining back control, and realizing that we are in control of where we decide to go with this, not the banks, not debtors, not creditors, not clients, not all of these kind of things that we seemed to be reactionary to when you first open a business, and you just want to please everybody.

Wayne Dunne: But realizing that, you know, you’re in control and it’s very easy to gain back that control, and actually do a job that’s incomparable to the one that you’ve been doing for the first two or three years in business. So that was a huge … I mean, just massive. I don’t even know if transformation is the right word. This is something different, yeah.

Sean Greeley: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up, because I think especially for a lot of facility owners, they grow to a point. We get clients, we serve clients, and then we’re stuck. We find very often at this point exactly what you stated. People think, “Right, I just need more clients.” But that’s the wrong area of focus to grow the business, right? A lot of the success starts with, number one, understanding the money math that drives profitability and cash for the business. It starts with digging into finance. It starts with the area that’s the most uncomfortable to actually deal with, and you have the least confidence in figuring out.

Sean Greeley: Small business finance is not investment banking. It’s a different world, right? And we’ve got to go figure out things like our cash forecast. We’ve got to understand what a P&L is, what a balance sheet is. We’ve got to set up different systems that make us make decisions about our cost structure, our margins and packaging, pricing. So all that is … I don’t think there’s a more uncomfortable place to begin. But it is the most important one to begin with, to set up the next run.

Sean Greeley: I’d love for you to speak to working through that process, because I think frankly a lot of people are just scared to deal with it, and they just put their head in the sand and think that, “I’ll just focus where I’m comfortable, training some clients, or going to figure out an ad, or something that is an area that I feel good about, and I’ll avoid this thing. And if I just bring in more clients, there’ll be more revenue, and that will figure itself out.” But that’s not the case, right?

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s that kind of mentality, we realized for us very quickly was, it’s a fungus, right? It just grows. You have this problem which could be how much you’re charging clients to get more clients, and that notion, that idea that if I just charge less than the guy next door, well then I’ll get those clients. That whole race-to-the-bottom mentality. Then transforming that idea into charging what you’re worth, first and foremost, and believing in what you’re worth, and then making sure that all the margins are correct so that you can sustain a profitable business and have a healthy net profit at the end of the year, is just transformational.

Wayne Dunne: And while it can be very uncomfortable to deal with, I think once you get into it, you actually develop a love for it eventually. You really do, because it is a true mirror of how you are doing as a business owner, and how effective you are at managing and running your business, because we all have opinions about how we are. If you ask me what do I think of myself, I’m brilliants. But sometimes I look at the numbers, and I’m like, “Okay, I’m not that brilliant.” So numbers don’t lie. It’s one of the real true mirrors in your business, is to start to really take a look at that stuff, and dig in, and tend to it like a garden.

Wayne Dunne: You know, that’s how I always describe my numbers to the staff and all that kind of stuff. Those numbers, you don’t just try and fix them once and that’s it. It’s a garden. You have to keep tending it, and if you do you’ll end up with a beautiful garden at the end of the season or the end of the month or whatever it is, you know. But if you avoid it, you’re going to start to see the weeds. The weeds are going to start to take over very, very quickly, and they’re going to start to kill the nice things that are in that garden.

Stephen Kearney: One of the big things I think we both learned from NPE is, just looking for clients. We are looking for the ideal kind, the right type of client, and not everybody’s going to be right for your business, and your business is not going to be right for everybody. When we joined you guys, we kind of saw that. Every person coming through the door is always not the right person, not the right fit.

Stephen Kearney: So in order for your business to grow, you want the right type of people coming through, the people who nourish and flourish there in your business, and love being part of the family that we’ve created. So that’s a big thing I think we learned when we joined.

Wayne Dunne: We can’t be everything to everyone, and we don’t want to be everything to everyone, because we’ll end up serving nobody. That was a huge part of what we learned from NPE. It all drives into what we’re talking about, which was the numbers, and making sure that they’re all in check. And you’re absolutely right. It’s sometimes the most horrible thing to dive into, but when you come out the other end you feel amazing about it. You really, really do. There’s no greater feeling of relief and stress relief, and all of those kind of things, than understanding precisely where you’re at, even if it’s bad, in your business, because then you know.

Wayne Dunne: I think what causes a lot of fear in business is that fear of the unknown. It’s fear of, “Oh God, I think my books are all over the place, or I think my margins are pretty crappy. But if I just keep trucking on, I’ll be good.” And removing that sense of wandering around in no man’s land is one of the best things that you could ever possibly do, as uncomfortable as it is sometimes. But as we all know, dealing with the uncomfortable things in any situation is always the most rewarding thing to do. So yeah.

Sean Greeley: Yeah, I’m so glad you stated that. And really, whatever it is, figure out what the problem is, and get a plan. Work that plan until you need to adjust and make a new plan, and just keep going. That’s really all it is, right? All the time, regardless of the problem. We just got to … just like math. We got to analyze it and we got to have a plan. Every equation has a solution. You just got to figure that out.

Sean Greeley: One of the things I think is so inspiring about your story is being West Hollywood where everything’s expensive, and facilities require a ton of investment, not just your lease but your build-out, your equipment, all this stuff that is required. And you guys, like many facility owners, accumulated a significant amount of six-figure debt that needed to be addressed through growing the business. A lot of people feel like, “Oh gosh, I could never overcome that challenge.” You, over the last couple years, you paid off all the debt, which is crazy. I mean, I feel like we should be on the Dave Ramsey show here that free, so tell people about where it was and how you worked through that, because it took consistent effort for more than a year to make something happen. I’d love you to share that story.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. It really did. I think to go back to where we met with you guys in 2015, and fast-forward two years, we realized that a huge part of what we wanted to offer our clients was an amazing client experience. Not just from the perspective of, when you come in you’re going to get a great workout and you’re leave. We wanted to create the ultimate, beautiful experience for clients. A huge part of that was the environment that we wanted to build and stand in front of, and be very proud of. It comes at a cost.

Wayne Dunne: We had a facility at the time, and it’s still the same facility, but we decided to overhaul it, revamp it, and completely gut it basically. We knocked down walls and built walls, and all that kind of stuff. But lo and behold, all that stuff comes at a massive cost. But we thought it was worth it, because this is the kind of experience that we wanted to create for people. And we knew at some point it would be a great investment. Well, we knew at that point it would be a great investment, and we also expected a return on that investment. Fast forward a little bit, two years on from all of that, it has been an incredible investment for us, to the point where people walk into that location every single time, and they just … they’re wowed by how it looks. It’s just an amazing space. We’re very, very, very proud of it.

Wayne Dunne: We managed to clock up a debt in 2016 or 2017, of about $120,000 in debt. We had somewhat of a plan of how to pay it back, but we didn’t want this to drag on for years and years and years. So one thing I know I’m particularly good at is when I have an end-goal in mind, working back from that end goal. I wanted rid of that debt within 12 months. That’s exactly what I did. Obviously laying out 120 grand over the course of 12 months was going to be a debt repayment of 10 grand a month, and so on and so forth.

Wayne Dunne: Just with the help of NPE, figuring out the strategies that we could immediately employ to increase our revenue by that amount of money every single month. Like what we were just talking about when it came to finance, we figured out, “Okay, this is our issue. This is our problem. It’s a big fat number of $120,000, and we need to tackle it head-on. Let’s figure out and start strategizing on how we’re going to do that over the course of 12 months, and let’s just get to work. That’s exactly what we did.

Wayne Dunne: It took us about three, four weeks to figure out the strategy, and it seemed like wasted time. It was like, “We could be out there selling this. We could be out there selling that.” But as you always say, it’s the sharpening of the axe. That’s exactly what we did. With the help of our coach out in NPE, we just sat down and said, “All right, how is this going to look over the next 12 months? Is it going to be a lot of work?” And it was a lot of work. It was a very stressful year.

Stephen Kearney: I think it was one of our biggest challenges, really, for both of us. When we looked at that amount that we owed, it was like, “How are we going to get through this? How are we going to pay this? Was it worth it?” We talked about all the points. We have a beautiful building, but is it worth having $120,000 in debt? But again, we had our ups and downs on it for sure, but we talked about it and with NPE’s help we were able to move forward. We started to pay down, then. We were like, “Okay, it’s going, it’s going.” By the end of the year, we were like, “It’s gone.” We were ecstatic. I think it was one of the biggest challenges we ever had to face, looking at how much we owed. By the end of it, it was like, “Okay, if we got through that we can get through anything.”

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. As long as you’re clear on, and I think this is a note to self for absolutely everything. No matter what the challenge or the problem is in front of you, if you have, and you manage to sit down to create a strategy and a plan to attack it, it no longer becomes that problem. It becomes something that you’re dealing with. As long as you’re dealing with it, it’s no longer that problem, right? Because it’s just something that’s a work in progress. It’s in motion, it’s on its way down. That goes … anything that I’ve ever dealt with in business.

Wayne Dunne: I was asked a question there recently, “What’s one of the biggest transformations that you have gone through?” I think when people are asked that question, they’re very often looking for material things that have happened to them. You know, “Oh, when I got 10 more clients, or I got this new machine.” Got this and got that. For me, one of the most valuable things I think I have received from NPE since 2015 is my ability to deal with problems, and understanding the nature of problems are constant. It’s how you attack them and deal with them that will make them either a problem, or something that you’re just dealing with in business. 99 times out of 100, it’s something that you’re just dealing with in business. Very, very, often it’s not the problem that you perceive it to be, in any way, shape or form. It’s just that you don’t want to deal with it, and that becomes the problem.

Wayne Dunne: So going through all of that turmoil that year, of all the hard work and looking at this debt and all that kind of stuff taught me a lot. It was great to get to the end of that issue. We developed a strategy, we dealt with it. It all worked out, and now we’re back to zero debt, a beautiful building, and something to be extremely proud of from so many different perspectives. But yeah, that’s how we dealt with that.

Stephen Kearney: I think dealing with that has obviously led to our next problem, which … remember, we got the notice on the door?

Sean Greeley: So we’ll pause just for one second, to set up the next story. First off, I can’t say congratulations enough. We’re so proud to support you guys in your journey to see … because many times I think financial pressure and debt is one of the most excruciating stresses for every human being. Not just business owners and entrepreneurs, but for everyone in life. You know, you feel like you’re not in control, and you feel like it’s a hole you can’t get out of, really. But you can. As you said, you just need a strategy, and a plan, and a mindset, and you just work the plan until the problem is solved. Whether it’s a month, or three months, or six months or a year, or five years, it doesn’t matter. You just keep working through it. And you come out the other end with more strength, and more confidence, and more firepower than anything else.

Sean Greeley: I want to just ask you to speak about how you felt once that was completed. Did you celebrate any special way, or what did you do? You know, was it just another day at the office? Or how did you guys take the time to acknowledge that moment?

Stephen Kearney: A deep breath. It was like, it wasn’t even a celebration. It was like a weight was kind of lifted off our shoulders.

Wayne Dunne: The biggest celebration you could have asked for was just having the weight off your shoulders.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. We definitely had a drink for sure. Maybe a couple of drinks. We are Irish. But yeah, it was just kind of like that heaviness over your head of thinking about what you owe, and even though the plan is in place, it’s kind of like when you finally get there and it’s gone, it’s kind of like this weight which you can’t really describe, but it just lifts off your shoulders. You can take a deep breath, and you can kind of relax again, until something else pops up, what is sure.

Wayne Dunne: I do remember calling Stephen in that morning, that the final payment was due to be taken out of our account. And I literally sat there for hours refreshing, to see when it would go, you know? It eventually went, and it was just … I don’t know the feeling that came over me, but it was definitely one of very proud. There was a definite sense of amazing achievement, and yeah, the pressure was lifted. I felt like i could start to move all that brain power from where it was over to creative, and start to see how we build, and build on what we have already spent, and all that kind of stuff.

Wayne Dunne: One thing I did want to mention though that was so helpful throughout that year, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs do this. I know I started to get this, Stephen’s done this, and I know some of my friends who are entrepreneurs do this. When it comes to debt issues or financial issues, it’s something that we don’t want to discuss with other people. It’s private. It’s embarrassing. It’s shameful. It’s all of these very strange notions that we attach to something like this. And carrying something like that on your own shoulders just multiplies the burden.

Wayne Dunne: The one thing that really helped me through was number one, having a business partner that you could go to at any point in time but say, “Hey, shit, I’m having a bad day. I’m stressing about this,” and blah blah blah blah blah. But just sharing it with other people like NPE, like coaches, like other people in NPE, it was just like offloading that burden. It’s not that you want to offload your issues onto them, but just sharing what you’re going through with people, and have people come back and go, “Don’t worry about it. I was there two years ago. I did this,” blah blah blah.

Wayne Dunne: It’s just reassuring to hear that from other entrepreneurs and people who support you. I think that’s one huge learning thing for me, was that share these things with people that you trust, and all of a sudden it … I don’t know what magical things happen when you start to open your mouth and talk about your problems, but they tend to subside very quickly after that. I’ll say that was a huge help, just to have a shoulder to kind of go to, and say, “Hey, I’m having a bad day,” or “I’m stressed,” or anything like that. It’s massive.

Stephen Kearney: And then when the coaches show you other clients who you guys are working with who had debt and then it’s gone, it’s kind of like when they share them things with you, it’s like, “Okay, if they can do it, we can do it.” It gets you in more of a positive attitude towards it. That really helped us in that year a lot.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. Then debt doesn’t become so fearful anymore. Structured debt doesn’t become such a horrible thing, as long as it’s like everything else. It’s planned for, it’s affordable. You’ve done your homework, you’ve got the best deal possible. Money costs money, so there’s interest on top of it and all that kind of stuff. But as long as you’ve done your numbers and all that kind of stuff, it shouldn’t be a stressful situation. It should be a very healthy, natural part of growing sometimes, you know? Yeah, that’s my attitude towards debt right now.

Sean Greeley: Well said. I’m glad you took the moment to just talk about this, because I think this is such an area that, as you said, people are ashamed of, and they are scared to address and to acknowledge, and to speak with someone about. But I think the number one thing, if you’re facing any of those issues, just face it head on, ask someone for help. You can’t figure that all out yourself if you don’t have the experience to do so. And then, you got to plan it. Again, so many times, the stress level comes down when you just have a plan and are working a plan. It’s a structured plan, it’s not free-fall chaos and overwhelm. So thanks for sharing that.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah.

Sean Greeley: The other thing I wanted to talk about is, you guys, this was a major milestone for you in your journey. Celebrating paying off, being debt-free, paying off six-figure debt, and continuing through that growing, having your best month ever, milestones and huge profits, exceeding goals, stacking cash, which is what everybody wants. Well now you’re there, right? Everybody wants it tomorrow. It might take a year or two years, but you’ll get there, right? And you got there. But I think the thing about being a business entrepreneur is, once you get through one challenge, you’ll have a little breather and then there’ll be another one.

Sean Greeley: You guys had a really significant one come up, that I’ll let you tell the story, but you came into work one day, and there’s a notice on the door that says, “Eviction”.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. Literally “get out”, yes. That’s exactly right. Our first trainer, he starts at 6:30 in the morning. He sends us a text at 6:30 a.m., so we go, “All right, there’s something wrong.” He said, “Hey, there’s some weird notice on the door. I think you guys should see it.” Lo and behold, we go down, and it is a notice from the building owner’s lawyer to say that we are illegally occupying this space, which we’ve been in for almost eight years now, and that we have 30 days to vacate. And if we don’t, X Y and Z is about to happen to you. We’re going to send He-Man in to get you.

Wayne Dunne: And this was the day before we were due to go on vacation.

Stephen Kearney: Oh yeah.

Wayne Dunne: We were due to go on vacation that day, so that was a beautiful start of the vacation. So of course, the initial thing of course when you see something like that is sheer and utter panic. We’ve never received a legal letter or notice before in our lives, so we had to sit down and again figure out what the hell this was all about, why we were getting this eviction notice, and all of that kind of stuff. And what transpired as a result is that the building was sold. The lady who had owned this building for many, many decades had passed away. She left it to a trust. The trust wanted the money. They were trying to sell it to a private investor, and he wanted everybody out before he would pay over the money for it, and then they were looking for any little thing within our contract to see if we had violated any terms and conditions or anything like that. So it was just the start of a process of trying to remove us from the property, even though our lease is valid until 2022.

Wayne Dunne: It was shocking, to say the least. But again, like everything else, I remember sitting there with a notice that day, and I said, “This is a letter from a lawyer. It’s an intent. It’s a notice of what they would like. But we are going to have to go through a process here, to understand who is right and who is wrong.” The one thing that I remember saying to myself at the end of the day was, “The only person that can decide on this, and who’s right and who’s wrong, at the end of the day, is a judge. And we feel that we have done everything correct and right. We were not in violation of any of the terms, or contracts, or clauses, or anything like that. They feel that we are in conflict with a particular tiny sentence in one clause of something or other. We’ll just take it from there.”

Wayne Dunne: So we contacted the necessary people that we needed to contact. Our lawyer. Then we contacted NPE, and we said, “Guys, help. We’ve never been in this situation before. What do we do?”

Stephen Kearney: To be honest, a couple of years ago, we probably would have flipped out at this, and probably headed home for a week, and was like “What are we going to do?” But because we’d been with NPE for a number of years, and we’ve talked through so many challenges with them, and we’ve had so many problems along the way which they’ve helped us with, we were actually very calm. We were like, “Okay, we got this notice.” We talked about it. We said, “Okay, we’re still going on vacation. Let’s ring the landlord and sort out whatever needs to be sorted out before we go, so we can still enjoy ourselves.” But yeah, it was a process. It’s just another problem which happens in business. You have to deal with it. I think from NPE’s experience of helping us, we were pretty calm in the situation. Before, we would have been pretty freaked out.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah, but it was a good feeling.

Wayne Dunne: It really was, and it was a huge teaching point for me. It was a huge learning point for me about myself as well, in terms of how I’m going to deal with adversity, and how I’m going to deal with issues that come up. I mentioned at the start of the call there, when … the great thing I saw the other day from a guy was, “I’m so glad that my business has problems, because if it didn’t we’d likely be out of business.” It’s true. It’s like, okay, this is just the next evolution of issues that we’re going to have to deal with. We’re going to come through it. We’re going to go through a whole court proceeding which is going to be massively educational, and to see how all this works out from an American perspective.

Stephen Kearney: And it’s going to be a process.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah.

Stephen Kearney: So we have time, if we do need to find another location. We have time to do that.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. But it was a case of, here’s an issue that we have to deal with. Deal with it. Don’t try and sweep this under the carpet and not deal with it and hope it goes away, because chances are it’s not going to go away. It’s definitely not going to go away. So deal with it, and do what you can up to that point in time to the best of your ability, to deal with that issue. But there’s only so much that you can do before the next phase, and the next phase and the next phase.

Stephen Kearney: We have a plan laid out. As long as we have a plan together in what to do moving forward, we’re a lot more comfortable than if we don’t have a plan. Then I think we’d freak out. So yeah, applying processes is a really important education, too.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. And it’s funny sometimes how the universe works, because we’ve been talking about opening a second space for a very long time, because where we’re at right now is … we’re almost at capacity. I think we’ll always be almost at capacity. Never at capacity, right? There’s always space for one. But we’ve been talking about this and toying with this idea, and talking with our coach at NPE, Tiffany, about this, for a long time. You know, the planning figures, all that kind of stuff. This was kind of like the perfect opportunity for us to go, “Why don’t we make that second place now, rather than this plan that we have to do it some time in the near future? Let’s start putting dates on things, and let’s start holding ourselves accountable to plan, and a date, and a cutoff time for XYZ. That can change and all that kind of stuff. But let’s start putting real serious numbers together, and start viewing places and all that kind of stuff.” And that’s exactly what we did.

Wayne Dunne: Within the space of probably a month we have seen a huge number of places around West Hollywood that we would be very happy to open, but one particular place that we absolutely have fallen in love with, and we’re probably going to put an offer in on it within the next seven days, and issue our letter of intent of what we would like and all that kind of stuff … so it’s be a kind of like, this has been a, if anything, a catalyst for us to kind of move forward with that notion of opening a second space. The next space that we open will be so close to where we are right now that if we continue to keep that momentum going, and if anything does happen to our current space, we can simply continue the business over onto this new space that we’re about to open without any hiccups.

Wayne Dunne: It’s probably less than a mile away from where we are right now. It’s in a beautiful, wonderful neighborhood of West Hollywood. So yeah, it’s just been one of those things where the universe has this strange way, sometimes, of kind of like pushing you towards the idea that you always wanted to do. This has been a great excuse for us to move along with that, because left to our own devices we probably would have toyed around with the idea of a second space for a lot longer. But now we’re kind of like, “Let’s get this done, so that if anything does happen with the current space we’re still okay.”

Stephen Kearney: And instead of worrying about it, when you saw it again for the second time yesterday, we were both very excited again. It’s like that meeting when we first opened Trading Loft in Orlando. We kind of got that feeling back, so it’s a great feeling.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah.

Sean Greeley: Yeah. I think we share in common … your old Orlando address, and we were originally based in Orlando, Florida.

Wayne Dunne: I know. I know.

Sean Greeley: It’s so funny. Okay, and just to share with people. You’re on the cusp of opening a second location. To give some context, you’re in the high six figures with business revenue, and moving towards seven figures plus, which is a big milestone for you guys. I know that’s coming down the road in the next year or two as you continue to grow here, which is super-exciting. What are the big pieces that you’re working on now?

Wayne Dunne: Big pieces that we’re working on right now … Actually just to say, if we have the same growth next year as we intend to have this year, we will push it from six into seven figures.

Sean Greeley: Yes.

Wayne Dunne: Which is really, really cool, and very exciting. You know, it’ll be another one of those milestones. What we’re working on right now is obviously space number two, and a huge part of that was … one of the things that we’ve kind of been messing around with for the last couple of years is is employee compensation packages. How do we continue to attract the type of employees that we have right now, which are career professionals? They are incredible at what they do, and absolutely massive passion for their craft, and for their business. But one of the areas that we have always been concerned with is, what are the career progressions for these staff? How do we continue to engage them, not just physically but mentally and financially? How do we create a path for them to see there’s a huge future here for you, not just, “In five years’ time you’re going to be our senior senior trainer.”

Wayne Dunne: That was a huge push for us, in opening up a second location, third location, was to create career paths for the wonderful people we have working for us, and say, “The career path for you, as I see it right now, is to be brought to manager, studio manager, part owner,” blah blah blah, so on and so forth. That’s one huge area that we’re looking at right now.

Stephen Kearney: We try and look at our staff as business partners, rather than people who work for us. They’ve been there, or Adam has been there for five years.

Wayne Dunne: Almost five years.

Stephen Kearney: We like to keep our staff, and I think that’s built our business hugely, rather than the turnaround of changing people all the time. I think it’s quite important to look after your staff, to make sure they’re happy and to always talk to them and make sure they’re always motivated. And even to talk about problems, like we do with NPE. It’s like when you talk to your staff about what they’re going through, or if they have any concerns or issues, that’s extremely important. I think it’s one of the reasons why our staff are still there. So we definitely want to see them progress, and that’s very important to us.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. It’s a huge thing for me, to be known as a really great place to work, is one of the things that I would love to have as something said about us. You know, “It’s a great place to work.” Not just from a social aspect of they come in, they have a lot of leeway in terms of what they do because we don’t treat them as employees. I always tell them … we just took on a new guy and I said, “I’m not hiring you as an employee. Just so you know, I don’t need an employee. I need a business partner, and I need you to take that role very seriously, and that’s what we’re looking to employ.”

Wayne Dunne: But yeah. I want to be known as a great place to work for people. And not just a great place to work or a great place to work out, a great place to hang out. We always want to be thought of as that.

Stephen Kearney: Yeah. And people who want to come to work. You want to see people happy coming to work, and not just going there to get a check. When you see our staff coming in every day, we love seeing them. That makes our day. That’s why we love going to work and part of the business, is because we get to hang with them, and we get to see them work. It’s been great every day to wake up to that and go to that.

Wayne Dunne: Yeah. And mock them and make fun of them, and do all that kind of stuff. But yeah. It’s all fun.

Sean Greeley: Awesome. So I’d love just kind of as we wrap up this interview today, think back about, because there are going to be people listening to this that are, where were you guys were in 2015? So have a studio, have kind of flat lined growth the past, you know, year or so, maybe more. What advice would you give to yourself back then that, knowing where you’ve come from in the last four years?

Wayne Dunne: Hindsight is always 20/20, basically, right? Looking back now if I could see myself, it would be just, “Oh my God, do this. You need the help. You need the assistance.” I think every successful person in business in the world has somebody who coaches them in some way, shape or form. They have a very trusted network of people, who are constantly around them. While they put themselves forward as the successful one, very often what we don’t see is the team of people behind them that make all that happen. For us, that team has been NPE, all the coaches, and all the other studio owners that we get to mix with every single day if we want to, and ask questions and all of that kind of stuff. We would have never been in the position that we are now, if it were not for the coaching, guidance, support that we received from NPE.

Wayne Dunne: My advice to people who are kind of at a point where they’re like, “Will I, won’t I? Will I, won’t I? Will I, won’t I?” Is, like what I would tell anybody who comes into our gym and who’s unsure about whether or not they should start training, is you clearly have something that you want to deal with. It’s a pain point. It’s something that you need assistance with, so try it. Just try it. Dip your toe in the water. You know what? What have you got to lose? If you figure out in three months, or six months, or 12 months’ time that this is not for you, so be it. But we’ve been here four years. We have known … most of the other studio owners have been our colleagues for the last same period of time, and it’s something that we consider a necessary investment in our business, in our growth, in our future, in our peace of mind, to know that we have people there to look out for us and look out for our best interest.

Wayne Dunne: I really say that from the bottom of my heart, and I wish, if I could impart anything on somebody out there who’s kind of thinking, “Will I, won’t I? Is this an investment that is worth my while, that is worth my time, that is worth my hard-earned cash?” My answer is an emphatic yes. Try it. I don’t think you will ever look back. I don’t think you will ever regret making the investment into your business. I think it’s one of the most important things that we have ever done. I think the same would be true of every single member that I speak with at NPE and get to meet with personally, three times a year, when we’re on our Mastermind meetings, or daily on Facebook groups and all that kind of stuff. It’s an incredible resource.

Stephen Kearney: I think some people might not join because they might be ashamed of the problems they’re having in their business. I think that’s a big thing. When we first started we probably were like, “Maybe we shouldn’t mention this” or “Maybe we have this debt, so we’ll keep that out.” But now, we’re so comfortable with saying anything to NPE members about anything that we’re going through, because I know they’ll just help us figure out a plan to deal with that. So anybody who’s kind of on the fence about, “I don’t want to tell about what I’m going through in my business,” let all that go and just dive for it, and just open up and your problems, they’ll help you with your problems in moving forward. So yeah, I just want to give that advice to any members who are thinking of joining.

Sean Greeley: Oh, that’s-

Sean Greeley: Thanks a lot. Go ahead.

Wayne Dunne: I’m sorry. Yeah. It’s like people who come to us and they say, “You know, I wasn’t going to join you until I lost 20 pounds.” That’s why we’re here. We’re here to help you. But very like what we were, back in 2015, it was like, this seems right for us, they’re saying all the right things. This is resonating with us, but maybe we should get XYZ in order before we even go there, because we just need to appear perfect. It’s the total opposite. I think people will resonate with that story of the people who come into them and say, “I’m going to join you as soon as I lose 10 pounds.”

Stephen Kearney: I know it’s silly, but when you actually join and you have a problem, and somebody who’s already been there shares it with you, and then they’ve got through it at the other side, it’s like, Oh my God, I can do it too. That feeling is amazing, when you see people that have gone through what you’re dealing with right now. I think that’s a huge boost to anybody in business.

Sean Greeley: I’m so glad you said that, because it is so much like a metaphor. People think, “I have to get in shape before I join the gym.” No, you just have to join the gym to get in shape, right? Oftentimes we think that, “I have to wait six months or a year, a certain amount of time to get an answer to that problem, or to start to be able to work on that problem, or think I’m ready to engage that problem.” But really, you can start now. Literally this moment. You pick up the phone, you talk to someone, you join. You go right in the group, you get an … on a call tomorrow. You’re creating solutions, and you’re finding new possibilities and new ways to get to the other side. The only one holding you back from that is yourself, just your own fear and your own insecurities. We all have to be able to face ourselves in the mirror and tackle that, again and again, on this journey. That’s the first step.

Wayne Dunne: Anxiety. Just on that metaphor, people who come in and say they want to lose 20 pounds. It could take that person a year to lose 20 pounds, or we can tell them how to do it in a month. It was the exact same for us with NPE. We would have spent the next 20 years figuring out some of the stuff that we’re putting into practice every single day. When we looked at NPE initially as well, it was like, “All right, we’re going to put this investment into our company. How long is it going to take before we start to see a return on that investment? I can tell you it was immediately. We had groundwork to do, we had reading to do, we had homework to do, we had all that kind of stuff. But it was, let’s just take this one part, let’s implement it, and boom. There’s a massive change in our business, immediately. Now, next part, next part, next part.

Wayne Dunne: It’s just this huge jigsaw that comes together, and it happens straightaway, immediately. It’s not a dip your toe in the water and you’ll see something happen in 12 months, 18 months, two years. It’s, for that section of your business, it’s immediate and the result is very apparent very, very quickly.

Sean Greeley: Awesome. Well, I’m excited for people to listen to this story. Hopefully those that are out there thinking about joining NPE, and when you come to our program get to meet Wayne and Stephen at an upcoming event. We’re so excited to see your new facility. Coming soon. I look forward to being at the grand opening with you before long here, before the end of the year. We’ll bring the family over. We’ll bring the dog.

Sean Greeley: Yeah. And we all have puppies, too. That’s another thing we have in common. Awesome. Well guys, thanks again for being here today. Congratulations again on your tremendous journey, and we look forward to speaking with you again soon.

Wayne Dunne: Pleasure Sean. Thank you Sean.

Stephen Kearney: Thank you so much.

Wayne Dunne: Thank you so much.

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