Episode 1: Jiu-Jitsu with Dana Dickeson

In our pilot episode, we chat with Dana Dickeson of Absolute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about his transition from police officer to jiu-jitsu academy founder. Dana discusses the impact of martial arts on his life, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the importance of community and culture in his academy. This inspiring conversation offers insights into resilience, leadership, and following one’s passion.

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Part 1: Journey from Police Officer to Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

They discuss Dana’s journey from being a police officer to becoming involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and eventually founding his own BJJ academy. Dana shares his initial skepticism and eventual passion for BJJ, highlighting its impact on his life, including dealing with PTSD from his policing career. He recounts the growth of his academy, the challenges of introducing BJJ in New Brunswick, and the evolution of his business, including a significant increase in student enrollment following a move to a new location. The conversation also touches on the broader impact of BJJ on individuals and the community, emphasizing the importance of creating a positive and inclusive culture within the sport.

Part 2: Creating a Sense of Community

The discussion delves into the importance of creating a culture within a business that draws people in and makes them feel like they’re part of something greater. Dana Dickeson emphasizes the significance of his students and teammates in the success of Absolute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, highlighting a sense of synergy and community. He also shares insights into seeking help and guidance from others, including a consulting firm, Legacy Consulting, which played a crucial role in his business’s growth. This segment further explores the mentorship and coaching aspects of Jiu-Jitsu, both in terms of technical skills and business acumen.

Dana discusses his affiliation with Lucas Lepri, a multiple-time world champion, who has influenced the culture and mindset at Absolute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The conversation also touches on the challenges and strategies of business expansion, including maintaining a high quality of instruction and the importance of a central hub for fostering culture and energy.

The hosts and Dana then shift focus to the business side, discussing the handling of customer satisfaction and the inevitable occurrence of unhappy clients. They share personal experiences and strategies for managing such situations, emphasizing honesty, responsibility, and the importance of learning from mistakes to improve processes and client relationships.

Part 3: Making the Business Work

The conversation shifts towards the challenges of managing a growing and diverse group of students while maintaining a positive and inclusive culture. Dana Dickinson emphasizes the importance of preserving the culture of the gym and how it’s crucial to address any individuals who might negatively impact it. He shares his personal journey of transitioning from working in technology sales to focusing full-time on his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) academy, Absolute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the decision-making process behind this significant life change.

Dana discusses the balance between relying on the financial numbers from the gym and his belief in the potential success of his business. He highlights the importance of being fully invested in the academy, which has allowed him to be more present and available for his students and to focus on new initiatives and business development.

The conversation also touches on Dana’s personal goals, including returning to competition after recovering from ACL surgery, and the support and camaraderie among the instructors and students at the academy. Dana and the hosts discuss the importance of believing in oneself and one’s business idea, seeking advice, but ultimately making decisions based on personal conviction.

In closing, Dana offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of believing in their vision and being prepared to face failures and setbacks as part of the journey towards success. He encourages anyone interested in trying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to visit Absolute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, highlighting the wide range of ages among the students and the welcoming and inclusive environment of the academy.

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