Cus D’Amato, the legendary boxing trainer who took Mike Tyson off the streets and turned him into a world champion, had a unique way of determining who was a contender and worthy of his time.

In Tyson’s book about his trainer, called “Iron Ambition”, he shared a story about D’Amato’s gym – which was in a rough part of Lower Manhattan:


“The gym was up three flights of rickety stairs. If you stood at the bottom of the stairs, you could see all the way up to the top … Once you got up to the top, there was a big hole in the door, patched up with mesh wiring, and there was a huge watchdog that would smash up against the mesh, barking like crazy.

Cus always said he could determine a lot about the character of a kid who made that trek up the stairs. He even called that walk ‘the trial’. If a kid came up alone and wasn’t deterred by the dog and pushed the door open and said he wanted to be a fighter, Cus knew he had something to work with. But if someone brought a kid there, it was a different story. ‘Now, if they were brought up by somebody, I knew I had my work cut out for me,’ Cus said, ‘because that fellow didn’t have the discipline or a desire strong enough at the time to come up there by himself and open the door and say, ‘I want to be a fighter'”


The same thinking should be used by coaches when determining who they’ll take on as clients.

I’m not suggesting that you buy an attack dog to threaten prospects, but it’s a good idea to have hurdles in place to make the person prove that they’re going to put the work in.

An example of how I do this is with my Secret Coach Club newsletter:

It’s a hard copy newsletter, and I’ve had people tell me they would only subscribe if it was sent to them digitally since that was “easier”.

I’ve also had people not renew their subscriptions because they “didn’t have the time” to read it. Not to knock those people, I don’t want someone to subscribe and have it sit on their shelf unopened and collecting dust, but each issue takes about 30 minutes to read (60 if you take notes) and if someone isn’t willing to invest 30-60 minutes per month then they aren’t the right fit for it.

Adopting a mindset where you set up hurdles can be scary at first, especially when you hear people say; “But you’re chasing away potential business!!!”, but at the end of the day you’re better off doing it that way.

Anyways, if you’re a serious, motivated coach who’s willing to invest an hour a month reading a newsletter and some time implementing what you learn, the March issue goes to the printer soon.

It’s a special 3-year anniversary issue, and you can subscribe here:

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