Online Reputation and Social Clout by Charles CHi

Anyone can post anything about anyone online.

So why would you leave those search results to chance?

Step 1: Find out what’s out there

First things first: Find out what the Web says about you by searching for your name. Start with Google, used by approx. 73 percent of people. Then try Yahoo! search, used by 16 percent of people. Then give it a go with Microsoft Bing, used by 12 percent of people.

The results will look similar, but there will be slight differences in the order and priority of your results.

  • If you have an uncommon name, most of the results will look familiar.
  • If you have a common name, most of the results won’t have anything to do with you.
  • If nothing came up, you’ve somehow managed to stay below the Web’s radar. (This is good. More on this later.)

But a general Web search isn’t the only place you should look.

If you’ve run into trouble with the law in the past, give CriminalSearches a try to see if your rap sheet is public (yet).

And if you’ve ever signed up for anything on the Web, you should take Pipl for a spin, which aggregates public white pages results, public records (names, addresses, phone numbers, past and present), e-mail addresses (past and present), mentions in print publications, court records, social media profiles (such as MySpace, Facebook, photo-sharing sites, etc.), Web page mentions, blog post mentions, even lists of your classmates from high school.

It’s at this point that you’re either overwhelmed, horrified, relieved or some combination of the three. That’s OK — I’m only a phone call away.

Step 2: Clean up what’s already out there (if you can)

If you weren’t able to surface anything about yourself, you’re lucky, and can skip to the next step.

But if you’re the vast majority of people, you’ve probably stumbled across something with your name on it. If it’s a public record — name, address, phone number – it’s nothing to be alarmed about, since that information is available for most people. (If it’s a criminal or court record, you may be concerned, but a public record is a public record.) Either way, you can’t modify these listings, since they’re public by nature.

If it’s something you’ve posted yourself, well, get thee to your account to modify or delete it.

But if a result that isn’t a public record and isn’t of your own doing, either, you’ve got one of three options if you’re displeased with it:

  • You can ignore it.
  • You can request that the person who posted it take it down. (Easy if it’s a friend, harder if it’s an enemy or stranger.)
  • You can attempt legal action, which is a deep and dubiously successful dive into libel or copyright law.

But if it’s a result of your own doing — a MySpace profile, or the website you set up for your wedding or baby photos, or that “secret” blog you use to gripe about your boss — it’s time to reevaluate how you’re presenting yourself online. 

Step 3: Understand that more information is better

Your first reaction to the discovery of your “secret” MySpace page might be, “I’ll take it down!”

That would be a terrible mistake.

As more information (public and private) makes its way onto the Web, it’s better to manage your presence, rather than hide from an eventual outing. (Yes, you can theoretically use an alias to conceal your identity, but once someone’s discovered the real you, the fun’s over.) So instead of clearing off all the information on your online profiles or removing your name from your website or blog, ensure that what’s on those pages complements your reputation.

Whether it’s a social networking profile or a blog, lose the purple glitter and your friend connection with Tila Tequila and the picture of you doing shots in Cabo.

Instead, put appropriate and accurate information. Remove any off-color or immature language. Correct poor spelling and grammar. Choose picture(s) you wouldn’t mind your boss (or your wife, or your mother, or your child) seeing.

The point of this: to surround your name with information you want to be associated with. The strategy: to bury any negative or inappropriate search results, if any, with positive, appropriate results.

Think of it like so: Like a crisp suit or dress at a job interview, you want to put your best foot forward. Your online reputation is the 24/7 stand-in for that interview.

Step 4: Take basic steps to build a foundation for your online reputation

If you’re trying to grab your online reputation by the horns, there’s no better way to do that than to take steps to create one for yourself. If 50 percent of the job is managing what’s already out there, the other 50 percent is creating appropriate references for yourself and tying them together as a cohesive whole.

There are several means you can use to accomplish this. Here are three of the most popular:


If you have ever had a job, you should probably create a LinkedIn profile, a social networking site that’s tailored for business professionals. Whether you work at a large corporation or you’re a student, LinkedIn serves as a great way to start your online reputation on the right foot in an office-appropriate way.

LinkedIn eschews photo galleries and favorite songs and other ephemera to instead allow you to reproduce your work history online, without slapping the whole resume up on the Web. You can connect your profile to those of your coworkers, which helps an employer or client get a better sense of who you are and where you’ve been.

As always, fill it out to the best of your ability: current job, previous jobs, education, appropriate photo, etc. Join a handful of LinkedIn Groups that are appropriate (alumni for your alma mater; industry-related umbrella groups), and make sure to fill the “website” field with another online presence, such as Facebook or another appropriate site from this list.

Finally, consider choosing a LinkedIn vanity url, so your name appears in the website address of your public profile, such as


Many people think Facebook is no better than MySpace when it comes to mindless, time-wasting social media sites, but Facebook is useful for building an online reputation because it is, by its nature, anchored to your real identity. Take advantage of this by taking the same steps you did with your LinkedIn profile: fill out your profile accurately, honestly, appropriately and completely. You can leave out certain fields such as religion or political views if you’d like, but make sure you put your educational and work info, as well as a picture your mother would be proud of.

Facebook has a comprehensive, if slightly onerous to use, set of privacy settings. Fine-tune “friends lists” with appropriate settings for the eventual reality that your friends, spouse, coworkers and family will all “friend” you.

In the “website” field, put your LinkedIn profile or another appropriate site. And create a vanity URL for your profile to tie it all together (

Google Public Profile

Google recently began offering “public profiles” for its users that appear at the bottom of the first page of search results for your name. Since Google is by far the most popular search engine, it’s a no brainer to create this page, which is a summarized version of a LinkedIn or Facebook profile. It includes your name, a photo, your job and general location, a short biography/”about me” and fields for previous employers and education.

Most importantly, it also includes a section to allow you to link to other presences online. So add your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to the list.

Step 4: Take advanced steps to proactively develop your online reputation

LinkedIn, Facebook and Google are all passive ways to establish an online reputation. However, as any celebrity knows, it takes work to keep on developing it.

Here are four ways to develop your online reputation that take some time and effort:

Create your own website

For most people, it’s not necessary to create your own website. But if you’re in an industry where you have public things to show a potential employer — images or words or video for creative professionals, press coverage for PR or public figures, appearances for actors, speaking engagements for CEOs, projects for entrepreneurs, etc. — it’s a good idea.

There are two steps to starting your own site: Buying a doman name (such as and paying for hosting services. It’s a bit like buying a street address and renting the land assigned to it. There are many companies that offer these services, as well as many more that will create a website for you. It can get quite technical at times, so if you’re not that type, call a knowledgeable friend for help.

Start a blog

A blog isn’t necessarily a place to talk about your day’s activities — it’s a way to brand yourself, personally and professionally.

Why? Because a great blog sets you apart as an expert in your field, either professionally (your industry) or personally (your hobby). A focused, articulate blog about a topic that you care about creates a resource for others interested in the subject, trains you to articulate yourself and shows that you have the will to contribute to something on a regular basis.

Entrepreneur and brazen careerist Penelope Trunk has a great quick ‘n’ dirty guide on how to start blogging.

Join Twitter

Twitter has been called a time-waster and an echo-chamber of meaningless drivel, but it’s a fantastic networking tool. Why? Because it’s a way to directly connect with others.

While a blog can be difficult to gain readers, because you must steer them to it, anything you post on Twitter easily appears in another person’s feed. The one-click “follow” function allows people to see what others are saying without much effort, and the “@” tag — which is used to direct a comment to anyone (@barackobama, for example) — really does go right to them (or in the case of President Obama, his staff).

That means that by following both colleagues and friends — as well as people you respect in your field but have never met — you can be noticed yourself. Just remember to post something useful (”Check out this great article on management”) rather than inane (”Just ate a hot dog…yum!”).

So sign up, put your real name, link to your website or another presence, and use the same picture you are using on all your other profiles for continuity.

Step 5: Remember why you have to “build” an online reputation

Regardless of whether you take a passive or active approach to your online reputation, recognize that it involves your intervention.

You can’t afford to let the collective Web dictate what other people think about you — certainly not if you can help it — and taking steps to build and maintain an online reputation helps you control that.

That way a search for your name shows results for your professional profile — and not a listing for how much money you owe your township in back taxes.

Keep in mind the value of connecting all these profiles (with links) to create a digital spiderweb that ties everything about you together. By tying these “appearances” together by cross-linking them, you’re publicly indicating that you’re not only aware of these other mentions of your name, but you’ve approved them.

A good portion of prospects won’t just search on a name. Many will also search based on phrases around reviews and scams — in an effort to be as thorough and as savvy a consumer as possible.

Be proactive in giving your customers and prospects a helping hand in demonstrating you are genuine and professional. Optimize your online reputation and create some online “clout” for yourself. Yes, the content on your website is vitally important but don’t neglect your off page marketing strategy as it can do a lot for your branding and reputation.

The web knows how many followers you have on Twitter, how many friends you have on Facebook, how many people read your blog.It also knows how often those people retweet, amplify and spread your ideas.It also knows how many followers your followers have…

It’s More Than Just Numbers.

Maybe your business has lots of fans and followers on social networking sites. Social media clout, though, is more than just numbers. Your clout has more to do with how – or whether – your fans and followers engage with the content you provide on social networking sites and share it with others. Content isn’t just what you say in tweets or on Facebook status updates. Included in the concept of “content” are photos, audio and video. If you aren’t interacting with fans and followers and your activity across online channels is static and not dynamic, then there’s plenty you can do to raise your level of online influence. Are you already active and dynamic? Well, there’s always room for further improvement.

Build Clout By Conversing.

Interaction is the key to creating and maintaining an engaged and accessible online presence for your business. Build clout by conversing. Never assume that “If you build it (a Facebook Page or a Twitter feed), then they’ll come.” You have to use your Facebook Page or Twitter feed as a springboard from which to reach out to your potential audience. When you engage in dialogue with people, though, don’t make the conversation all about you and your business. Take an interest in what people say and in what moves them, and talk to them about those things. That’s how relationships are built, and over time, it’s how clout is built.

Become an Online Thought Leader.

Social media clout means that your content not only grabs people and motivates them to share it with others, but also that it influences them in some way. When you build clout by positioning yourself as an expert in your field and sharing your advice with people who seek it, you become an online thought leader. For this to happen, though, you must commit yourself over time to becoming a good conversationalist and an even better listener. It isn’t just any old content that will develop your online clout – it has to be content that your audience cares about. To create targeted, quality content, you need to get to know and respect your audience.

Tools to Measure Clout

Probably the best-known tool to measure your social media clout is Klout, which analyzes your activities on Twitter and Facebook, breaks them down into concrete ways on which you can work to improve your online engagement, and assigns you an overall Klout Score. Other tools to measure clout include TwitterGrader and Facebook Page Insights. Insights is particularly useful as an analytics tool to show you what, among your content, is most popular with fans of your Page and how your fans are interacting with your content.

Online clout is a measure of how people respond to the content your business provides – whether they find it interesting and worthy of sharing with others. The more people interact with your content, the higher will be your social media influence. The point of social media clout is to leverage online tools to present your business as likable, reliable and personable, not as a faceless, impersonal organization. A likable online persona and quality content that’s widely-shared can fuse together to become your business’ well-respected online brand.

Here are some ways you can go about getting some online clout:

  • Write link bait web articles. Write a fantastic article on your website and promote the heck out of it. If it’s as good as you hope it is, people will link to it. They’ll mention it on social media sites and you might also get a flock of attention to it. If it’s a really good article, it can have some staying power and drive both search engine and human traffic to your site.
  • Guest post on great websites. Find some of the most respected websites in your industry and pitch that you’d like to write a guest post for them. Be sure you have a great idea. Hire a professional web writer if necessary. That post can include a byline back to your site. Be sure you spend some writing something valuable for the guest post and before you submit it, spend some time getting great content on your website (hint: have your SEO specialist optimise it before you publish that post so that new traffic will have a great experience when they land on your site!) and your byline will direct them there. Don’t forget to participate in comments sections of the site, too. This helps demonstrate your professionalism, personality, openness and helpfulness.
  • Create online profiles. Create profiles on sites that allow you to create professional looking profiles that link back to your business site and / or social media pages. You’ll find general sites, such as LinkedIn (hint: create professional profiles on LinkedIn and join industry groups and also create your own group, if possible), and you’ll find industry specific websites and directories that will offer opportunities to create corporate and professional profiles. You’ll find direct and indirect benefits of using many profile sites. Some of these sites rank very well online so you’ll create additional clout for yourself when you dominate the search engines with your name and professional image.
  • Get a professional quality headshot. Use it online everywhere. That professional image will become closely linked with your name and will demonstrate that you are a true professional.
  • Post testimonials on your website. There are various web design methods of doing this. You could have a marquee banner turn up on all your pages with rotating testimonials or you could also create testimonials links on each page to point people to proof that you are, in fact, a reputable company. It doesn’t hurt to use video testimonials and to show proof, through case studies, as well. The more info you supply on your website that helps visitors overcome typical sales objections — the better!     Finally, remember that the Internet never forgets (even if you delete something!). So your best strategy is to always put your best foot forward online.

Why Partnerships Soar Or Sink: A Q&A with Sifu Alex Chan

Alex Chan and Luigi Cuellar are co-owners of Nubreed Martial Arts Academy, a hugely successful martial arts school in Queens, NY. They have been partners for almost 20 years! We asked Sifu Chan some questions about how they’ve made their partnership work so successfully for so long.


Q. Is it a good idea to have a legal contract in place before going into a partnership?

A. I feel that when people get into contracts and other legal matters, they are stepping away from trust. Without trust, there is no relationship, and then what’s on paper doesn’t really matter.

Q. So what sort of partners are you and Luigi?

A. Luigi and I are 50% shareholders of our business, which is an S corporation.

Q. What advice do you have for partners whose relationship is going south?

A. If things become really unbearable, dissolve the partnership and move on. Cut your losses and split up. A business where two partners don’t get along won’t be successful in any case. So what’s the point of sticking around, really?

Q. How do you handle a disagreement?

A. First off, we both have an understanding that there is no such thing as a bad idea. If I were to come up with an idea that Luigi doesn’t like, we still talk about it, mull over it, sleep on it, debate its pros and cons, and get feedback from staff members. If I’m really convinced it’s a great idea, I’ll keep presenting it. We both have to put our egos aside and one of us will eventually convince the other. The trick it to not take this process personally. Problems only arise when people let their egos get hurt.

Q. Do you divide responsibilities?

A. Yes, it helps tremendously to define and allocate responsibilities. We don’t step on each other’s toes, but we check in with each other frequently. We also make sure we are doing our part to make the organization function smoothly, and we always keep the other in the loop.

It’s helpful to have a great communication system. It’s great if you talk or text every day. If one of us is away, the other keeps him informed. We keep the other in the loop even about personal matters that can affect the business.

To illustrate how we divide responsibilities: Luigi is in charge of the inventory for our pro shop, while I do the banking. And while I manage the stats, Luigi knows the numbers just as much as I do, because I keep him informed.

Q. What happens when one of you upsets the other?

A. If you have procedures and systems and guidelines, then that won’t happen! There are no surprises! Neither of us does anything impulsively. We have such good understanding that he knows what I will say or what decisions I will make under a certain scenario, and vice versa.

Q. Tips for others?

A. Here are my main suggestions:
» If you’re contemplating going into partnership with somebody, you have to think about the pros and cons. One of the greatest pros is that you will have a trusted partner whom you can trust with your baby, so to speak. It will allow you time to follow your pursuits and enjoy your life more. You can sleep better at night. If you’re the sole proprietor, you can reap a lot of the rewards of being in that position, but you’re also solely responsible, with nobody to share your responsibility with.
» Always maintain great communication.
» Trust is the most important element. The relationship has be about mutual respect for a fellow martial artist. And you must have an honor code that goes beyond signing a piece of paper.

Problems: Train yourself to think Positively. See through the problem to the solution.

By Nicholas Cokinos

Are you a problem maker or a problem solver? Too many people get these two situations confused. Some people thiNicholas Cokinosnk that consistently pointing out problems is really helpful. Think how much better everything would have been if you were capable of identifying and coming up with solutions. Pointing out problems often is interpreted as complaints.

The blame game is all too prevalent. Pointing the finger at someone else is a common phenomenon. It’s doubly harmful in a business. All too often, we blame others when things are not going our way. We have come to expect too much from our company and our surroundings and too little from ourselves. Check to see if you are a “moaner and a groaner.”

Just think for a moment about the difference that can be made by asking the right questions: “If I can’t stand the way things are around here, what am I going to do about it?” Or do you say, “wouldn’t it be great if we could have a discussion to find out what could be done to make things run more smoothly?”

The point is obvious: train yourself to think positively. See through the problem to the solution. Be among the first to suggest positive solutions and best of all, if you can solve a problem without calling attention to it, you really will be ahead of the game. You are the kind of person the boss is looking for!

Now here is a key sentence: “Make sure you contribute more than you cost.” A great attitude, positive approach to problems, viewing problems as temporary challenges, “makes a world of difference. By the way, do you hate change? Become part of the “change.” Help to make it work.

Things to remember:

  • Do not waste energy
  • Do not get angry
  • Do not give into grief about what has already happened
  • Do not be emotional. Use logic and seize every opportunity to be a problem solver!

There is more to martial arts than fighting: An Interview With Al Bartlinski


Q. Who is the biggest martial arts influence in your life?

A. Of course, my Sensei, the late Francisco Conde. In my opinion, he was ahead of his time. He told us never to be restricted by style, to explore and, in effect, create our own system. He developed in excess of 50 kata during a time period when many considered that to be anathema.

Another greatest influence is my father, Al Bartlinski, Sr., whose influence continues. It was he who took the time to explore other systems and taught various principles to me. We began training together in January, 1966. It’s hard to believe that this time next year, we’ll have been involved in martial arts for 50 years!

Q. What is your thinking regarding loyalty?

A. Years ago, a prospective business owner called me out of the blue for advice about purchasing a small division of a publicly traded company. For almost a year, he would occasionally “pick my brain” for advice, all at no charge. (I plead temporary insanity!) When he consummated the deal, he hired my firm to provide accounting, tax, and business advisory services at a very significant fee. He would sometimes let me know that he was being courted by firms larger than mine, but assured me that he told them he goes with “horses that got him there.” I always appreciated that loyalty. And it went both ways.
Loyalty permeates all that we do. It has to do with trust, faith, appreciation, honor, and honesty, to name a few. (There’s much more to it though.) It sustains healthy relationships, which is what life is about.

Q. Please could you mention five management activities for better retention?

A. A good new student orientation program.
B. 2-4-6 meetings.
C. C-student classification with a positive solution.
D. Taking the time to get to know students and parents.
E. Weekly instructor training on teaching and relationship-building

Q. What are your thoughts on the new emphasis on practical martial arts?

A. If you’re referring to schools focusing more on self-defense, I think it is a good thing. People enroll into martial arts schools for differing reasons. Of course, self-defense is probably the number 1 reason. We need to make sure that our students can fight – as my Sensei once said to me.

But those of us who have studied the martial arts for an extended period of time have generally found that there is more to it than that. With its physical, mental, and spiritual attributes, it has become a way of life.

I’m at a stage of my life where my body is frequently presenting its bill for services rendered! I can’t do things that I used to do or, if I do, I do them much differently. My favorite martial arts activity is practicing kata, which I do several times a week. It keeps me in tune physically, mentally, and emotionally. And, where I used to practice them with a lot of power, I now take a much softer approach. And when I feel energetic, I crank it up a bit!

Q. What are the greatest challenges martial arts school owners face?

A. Of course, getting and keeping students is at the top of the list. I believe we have to get better as an industry in communicating why people – young and old – should choose martial arts over other activities. 30 years ago the movie the ‘Karate Kid’ introduced martial arts to mainstream America as a great activity for children, which propelled the industry to new heights. I believe it has since been relegated (to an extent) to being perceived as just another activity for children.

Adults as well as children have more choices about where they spend their fitness and activity dollars. Think about it. How many TV shows or movies do we see that include scenes of martial schools compared to gyms, soccer, baseball leagues, etc. The industry and each school owner has to do a better job.

The industry and we as school owners must be able to answer 3 questions:

A. What are we selling?
B. Who wants to buy it?
C. Why choose us?
Answers to these questions are critical to the growth of our profession and schools.

Q. How do you motivate and influence your students?

A. First of all, I show them that I’m full of enthusiasm and energy that comes from enjoying what I do. I let them know that I see in each one of them a black belt waiting to emerge (different words for the younger ones). I follow basic teaching principles that I learned from my association with EFC, including:
A. Praise, Correct, Praise
B. Demonstrate, Explain, Correct, Repeat
C. Name X 3

Q. What is your process for renewing students and to what programs?

A. Within four months, students are invited into the BBC at a belt ceremony. The strength of the process rests upon effective after-sale service, which includes the aforementioned ‘100 Day’ process.

In addition to the standard special gi, they can attend more classes to help them qualify for the minimum hours to black belt. We require students to attest that they have practiced a requisite amount of time at home. This was a big issue for students and parents. Upon joining the BBC, they get home practice credit for the week simply by attending our Saturday makeup class. (No more tears for children and parents!)

Q. Do you have any advice for martial arts schools owners as a CPA?

A. 1. Be aware of the numbers. Take the time to understand your cash flow and profitability drivers. Work closely with a CPA who knows your industry, meeting with him or her throughout the year to review those issues.
2. Know what taxes you are obligated to pay and pay them in a timely manner. These include income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, and use taxes.
3. Business is more complex than it ever was. Use advisors – CPA, CFP, Lawyer, Insurance professional, and of course, EFC.

Q. Your thoughts on EFC?

A. You asked about loyalty. I’ve been with EFC for 28 years or so. I was there when all of their principles were being developed. I’ve participated in industry events sponsored by other organizations and can easily trace their principles to EFC. As they used to say about the Rose Bowl: It’s the Granddaddy of them all! ‘Nuff said.

And John Cokinos has been there all those years, learning from the Guru himself, Nick Cokinos. John knows that times are changing rapidly, requiring the merging of timeless principles, knowledge, and experience with new technology and processes. Buckle up! It’s going to be a great ride!


EFC’s Founder Late Mr. Nicholas Cokinos sent a letter to Kathy Olevsky, owner of Karate International, 7 years ago in response to her query about the viability of 401(K) plans. Since EFC believes this letter may be of use to others as well, It has decided to publish it on our blog.

Nicholas Cokinos

Nicholas Cokinos

Dear Kathy:

The subject of 401(K) or other “savings” plans is controversial at best. We do not subscribe to this concept, nor do we recommend it. We believe very deeply that every school owner should be very conscious of the importance of securing his financial future. Uncle Sam provides four areas for significant savings and investments:

1. Owning your business, which happily most martial artists do already.

2. Buying your own building. I am happy to say EFC helped 17 owners purchase their own buildings last year.

3. Investing in real estate rental property-great benefits, great deductions and appreciation of properties is always a serious benefit.

4. Investing in a good blue chip stock of well-managed companies. Over time the appreciation has been great and history has been great and history has it at about a 10% – 12% increase per year. Also, if you should decide to sell instead of putting your certificates up on the shelf, the tax bite of capital gain is only 15%.

Instead of providing a 401(K) plan at EFC, we have embarked on an attractive pay incentive closely tied to productivity. We are very conscientious about giving pay increases on longevity, but mostly on productivity. Financially speaking, I think one comes out much better in the long run by following a good investment policy.

I know you will continue to grow your school with the good leadership you provide.

Nicholas Cokinos, EFC Chairman

5 Fundamentals for Training Your Instructors by Farshad Azad

EFC CEO John Cokinos & Farshad Azad

1. Have a clear and concise definition of your school’s goals and priorities.

Before you attempt any type of training for your instructors or for any of your future staff you must first decide on your goals for your martial arts school and business. what are you trying to achieve? Whom are you going to serve?

In the 1970s, most martial arts instructors (regardless of style) were brought up only on the basis of their physical abilities, tournament achievements, or knowledge of curriculum in their systems. Many instructors were very good technicians but not good instructors.

Before you decide to hire an instructor or even begin to train anyone to assist you on the floor, you must first decide what your school’s goals are. It makes a huge difference in your school’s success and in your instructor’s training program.

If your goal is to create adult full-contact kickboxing champions, you need to train and hire a person who knows how to best train a student for full-contact kickboxing champions, you need to train and hire a person who knows how to best train a student for full-contact kickboxing championships. Your training program must embrace a combination that is entirely different from training senior citizens or five-years-olds.

2. Consistently follow a well-designed course of training.

Today there are so many wonderful instructor training programs in the martial arts world. You can also develop your own training programs and manuals. However, that will take a lot of time and energy. The trick is to be consistent with the training program once you choose one. Make sure to train your instructors in three specific areas:

A: Developed martial arts system.

B: Tools, skills, and coaching to become a fantastic teacher and leader.

C: Clear understanding of the business system you employ in your school.

3. Create a training program that addresses upward mobility, personal growth, and future career advancements in your business.

Many instructors remember when they were pulled aside by their master instructors and suddenly put in teaching positions. Feeling flattered, most of them jumped at the opportunity. However, the passion soon became a chore, and the challenge was that most instructors saw no light at the end of that tunnel; they had no clear vision of where this road was going.

As the school owner, you must think about your staff’s present and future growth in your business. If you want their passion for martial arts to grow steadily and turn into a wonderful lifetime experience, you owe it to yourself and to them to create a clear path for their financial, personal, and martial arts career. This way you will have the best possible training for each and every one of your staff, including your instructors.

4. Treat your instructors the way yo would want to be treated.

Treat your instructors like loved ones. Lead by example in all aspects of your business. Martial arts culture fosters an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding, love, and compassion, as well as respect, discipline, loyalty and honor. Each and every instructor must be trained and treated with such concepts. As martial artists, we are as good as the regularity and intensity of our training. Likewise, our team is only as good as how we train them.

I remember an instructor once told me that a school owners hadn’t paid him for three months, even as he was busy buying toys for himself! Out of respect and loyalty, this instructor hadn’t left the school. But he naturally felt very disappointed by the situation! I happened to know the school owner personally, and I can tell you he himself wouldn’t have stayed in that situation more than a day if he were treated that way. Not only should we expect our instructors to be professional, but we need to demonstrate professionalism in every aspect possible also. Treat your instructors like you would want to be treated yourself.

I personally know a great martial arts master who has the habit of embarrassing his instructors and staff in front of everyone all the time. He simply reprimands his staff openly without regard for their feelings. But at the same time, this great martial arts technician would completely sever connections with anyone who would mistreat him remotely. Treat your instructors with honor, respect and love, and you will get all three back. Of course, fail to do this and your life as a school owner will be short lived!

5. Design a training program that provides your instructors with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual trainings and meetings.

Communication between the chief instructor or master of the school and all other elements of your school is essential for your success as a business owner. A fiber optic line of communication is a simple way of guaranteeing transfer of knowledge and expectations in your school.

In 1978, I moved to the Midwest for my higher education at the University of Kansas. I started training with a new school headed by a wonderful seventh-degree master instructor with incredible martial arts skills. One of his instructors, then a fifth-degree master instructor with incredible martial arts skills. One of his instructors, then a fifth-degree black belt, was teaching the material slightly differently than him, and neither of them wanted things done in the other manner! Guess what-as students we decided to not fight the uphill battle against the authority of our instructors. Instead, we decided to perform our techniques one way on Mondays and Wednesdays and another way on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Wasn’t that ridiculous? There were so many students that left the school and dropped out as a result!

It is crucial for you and your instructors to have similar viewpoints about crucial matters, or you might frustrate your students and lose them. Train, train, and train your instructors on a regular basis so you will all be on the same page for all requirements, changes, modifications, expectations and goals. There should never be a Monday-type kick and Tuesday-type kick.

This is also a great time to talk about new policies and procedures for your school. Many times in my instructors meetings, my staff has brought up points to my attention that have saved us from a lot of future headaches. Be receptive to their ideas, just as you expect them to be receptive to yours.

this is also a great time for all of your team to voice their opinions and be heard on various issues and challenges, which you may need to address. You don’t want to get blind-sided by problems and issues that involve you, your instructors, and the school. Regular meetings will allow your instructors to measure the old goals and set new ones, so your school can prosper.

Developing Reasoning Skills For The Decision-Making Process

To develop good reasoning skills you need the ability to deeply think through a problem. Reasoning is the ability to see an issue from more than one side. To reason through a problem is to fully evaluate all of the factors of the issue. It is the ability to closely examine the present circumstances and determine what the choices johnare, so as to find a good resolution.

Here are factors that impact the reasoning process:

The amount of time that you have to make a decision.

  1. 2.     The number of choices that you have.
    3.     The evaluation of each choice and what the possible outcomes would be.
    4.     The emotional tolerance you bring to the problem or people involved.
    5.     A determination of the level of patience one is going to need.
    6.     The expense, both emotionally and financial.
    7.     The ability to examine one’s motives.
    8.     The ability you have to make others “buy into” your choice.
    9.     The ability to look at the big picture.

Here are factors that will inhibit good reasoning skills:

1.     Showing anger that is out of control will reduce the number of good outcomes.
2.     Making a snap decision.
3.     Not properly including and influencing the key people necessary.
4.     Not thinking about how to make a decision so that it is win-win.


I have been thinking about the concept of stewardship. It’s significance takes on the persona of a complete ownership mentality. You take on the full responsibility for the surrounding circumstances. You never give excuses and catch yourself before you groan or complain because you know you must take on a higher level of responsibility. This kind of stewardship is not for the faint of heart. Someone who is easily rattled by oncoming challenges will self-destruct. There are only a few who can withstand the weight of the pressure, which must be stronger inside to offset the pressure from the outside. When you take on the role you will be an example to many. At your low points, you will fight with yourself to remind yourself that it’s a great privilege. At your high points you will feel closer to God.

—John Cokinos