Episode 292

From Corporate Training in a Company to Independent Course Creator with Kurt Von Ahnen from Mañana No Mas

Learn about the journey from corporate training in a company to independent course creator with Kurt Von Ahnen from Mañana No Mas in this LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS.

From corporate training in a company to independent course creator with Kurt Von Ahnen from Mañana No Mas

Kurt is a LifterLMS user, and he has also had a really cool experience using it through a few different applications – one in the corporate world when he was working for Suzuki and Ducati, and now that he is working with his company Mañana No Mas, independently working with LifterLMS for the motorsports industry.

In 2008 when the economy in the U.S. crashed, Kurt was working as a service writer and sought a way to reinvent himself in this industry, so he wrote a book on his experience as a service writer. After Ducati read that, he was in touch with them and picked up a job working for them as well as Suzuki. For those unfamiliar with it, service writing is the job of the person you would interact with at a dealership if you have an issue with your car or you need an oil change, tire rotation, etc. The service writer documents what needs to be done with vehicles and passes that on to the technicians.

The standard in training for service writers is to have 10-12 technicians at a workshop where they would meet for live training in a venue like a school or hotel. This isn’t the most efficient or cost-effective way to get the training done, so Kurt spent time with Suzuki and Ducati working on their online training system using LifterLMS.

Kurt shares some insights on entering the corporate world offering LMS services, as a lot of large companies spend upwards of $400,000/year hosting their training systems, where now with LifterLMS and WordPress, you can host secure, robust websites for less than $10,000/year.

While in the corporate space near the end of 2016, Kurt took the job at Suzuki, and at that point he was really out of shape. He signed up for a Transformation Camp program and ended up dropping over 60 pounds. After that he got back into BMX and mountain biking with his son. He is now into motorcycle racing and running Spartan races and Warrior Dashes.

Now Kurt is helping dealerships with their training for service writers, making courses on service writing, and making courses on the corporate world and how a work-life balance relationship can lead to much better health in both areas overall. He also helps people with leadership within the corporate world.

To learn more about Kurt Von Ahnen and the developments he has going on, be sure to head to MananaNoMas.com and LMS.MananaNoMas.com.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a very special guest, Kurt Von Ahnen. He’s from manananomas.com. Kurt’s a LifterLMS user, and he’s also had a really cool experience by using it in quite different applications, one in the corporate world, and under some brands that you’ll recognize, and then also for his own projects.

Chris Badgett:

Now he’s been through a bunch of evolution as a e-learning professional that will get into his story. But first, Kurt, welcome to the show.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Thanks, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be here, man. I’m thrilled that we got this time to set aside and do this.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. It’s awesome. Our paths have crossed over the years in the LifterLMS Office Mastermind and emails and just seeing you around and whatnot. It’s always great to connect with the community which is some, of course, we’re big at over at LifterLMS, but tell us about corporate e-learning. What were you doing with Lifter? How did you use training in the corporate space, and who are these companies?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. It’s interesting because I listened to your podcast frequently, and I joined the mastermind that you host. I’m always intimidated because I’m not super, super technical. I’m a great user, and I’m good at the strategy of implementing the use of the product, but when I watch some of the other guys that jump on, Jonathan and the other guys, they have a much firmer grasp of the coding and stuff.

Chris Badgett:

Well, a lot of people don’t know. I just want to add I don’t know how to write a single line of code, but I have a software company. It’s not always, knowing the tech super well isn’t always the thing I guess.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. For me, it was I was running an agency in New Mexico. I was doing a lot of startups and helping a lot of people establish their brands out of Albuquerque. It was going really good.

Chris Badgett:

You had a marketing agency?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. I was doing a lot of web stuff, social media stuff and really pushing that stuff out. We started it at the height of the recession. We didn’t end up homeless, so I consider that a win, but I had been in the car business for a really long time on the service side of the industry. When the economy crashed, it didn’t make a lot of sense to stand there for 14 hours and make 30 bucks, right? I wanted to figure out a way to reinvent myself. I wrote and published a book on service writing. It did pretty well. I’s a really easy read. Then, I was doing this agency stuff.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Then, through all that, that’s how I made contact with Ducati. Ducati read the book. They thought the book was good and got in touch with me and asked me to write them a course on service writing and service managing that they could host as Ducati to their 166 dealers that were in Canada, United States, and Mexico.

Chris Badgett:

For people who don’t know, what is service writing and what is this expertise?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Service writing, in its most basic form, is a really easy job, but in practice, it’s one of the most difficult that a car dealership or power sports dealer has. That is like when you have a car and your car breaks, so let’s say you just need an oil change, a tire rotation, your check engine lights on, whatever, you go to the dealership, and the guy that you talk to, the guy that you hand your keys to and get the work done, that’s called a service writer. Then, typically there’s multiple service writers in a dealership. Then, there’s a manager over them that just makes sure that what they’re writing and what they’re promising for the day is actually going to get through the shop with the technicians.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Then, it becomes valet on the backend. It becomes like having the right parts, charging the right labor amounts, just getting things warrantied and charged through the manufacturer, things that might be customer pay. Then, it turns into, like I said, a valet. There’s a lot of stuff in the background. That’s where my expertise comes in. I show those places how to be the most efficient at getting the work in and out. Then, I also teach them how to deal with people and personality traits, communication styles and how to sell the most without driving customers away. If that all works, then we reduce turnover in the shop meaning technicians don’t keep looking for better shops to work in because this just became the best shot to work at. That’s kind of my thing.

Chris Badgett:

I love niches because we all think we understand something like, oh yeah, take my car into the shop and somebody write some stuff down. Then, I come back, and it’s ready. I remember they called me and they find something else, but it’s actually, like you said, I’m sure a complicated valet of managing expectations, we need time to diagnose. The person that does the work might find something. The person who does the work, you want to keep them happy so they keep working there becoming a better and better mechanic. There’s a lot that goes into it.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

There’s a lot. Yeah.

Chris Badgett:

More than we think. More than we think.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

If you think back to like you and I are hopefully close to the same age group, I think I’m a little older than you.

Chris Badgett:

I’m 41.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I’m a lot older than you. I’m 52. I think back to our youth and how guidance instructors, guidance counselors would look at someone in high school and go, “Well, you’re probably not going to go to college. You might want to be a mechanic.” There’s this stereotype that’s like, “You’re a mechanic because you weren’t smart enough to be a lawyer.” That’s, nowadays, that’s just not the case. These guys got to go to training. You wouldn’t believe how much training a motorcycle technician has to take to be able to work on a Ducati, a BMW, a Kawasaki and a Yamaha. They’re like brain surgeons.

Chris Badgett:

One of my good friends in Alaska is a helicopter mechanic. He’s highly trained. He helped me convert my diesel truck to run off of used vegetable oil. Actually, drove around for a long time off of grease. It’s called a grease car.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. Biodiesel.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. This was actually straight. It’s called SVO, straight vegetable oil. It wasn’t even mixing, but it had this whole thing where it heats up and everything, but just as a mechanic, the guy, it’s like watching Mozart play just watching him work under the hood and not even just the helicopter stuff. It’s just stuff, and he was teaching me and explaining all these systems. I’m like, “Wow. There’s a lot going on here.”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

It’s a lot. Yeah. If you think about it, an automotive mechanic will have a specialty. Your friend might have been, well, he’s a helicopter mechanic. But in most automotive centers, a guy’s really good at drivability which is how the car burns through fuel. Then, other people are suspension specialists. Other people are electricians or electronic specialists.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

In the power sports field, technician has to do it all. You have to be good at steering, chassis dynamics, tires, brakes, suspension, internal engine work, transmissions, the whole thing. Yeah. When I work with my power sports people, I know that I’m dealing with people that have to… they have to be able to transmit a lot of technical information which usually if they’re really good at that makes them not so good at interacting with customers. That’s kind of creating that blend or teaching them about communication styles is one of the things that I really employ.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool. Where does the LMS or the education technology come in? If you’re working at Ducati and there’s all these different dealerships and whatnot, are you traveling a lot? Are you doing virtual meetings? Are you creating courses or training manuals? What are you doing?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

You’re asking one of the best questions possible actually. I don’t want to say I’m a forerunner or the new mind in training and power sports because I think that’s giving myself far too much credit, but they used to actually just travel and do small groups of 10, 12 technicians or service riders and had these kind of workshops. They would do them at hotels at different schools, anywhere. In fact, my last year working with Ducati, I traveled over 200 days that year. For one person to leave a wife and two kids at home and just fly on 120 airplanes for a year, it’s not a great use of efficiency or budget.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

What I did with the online learning and how I introduced… I actually used Moodle at Ducati. That was my first real e-learning experience. I jumped in with Moodle because it was open source and ran with that. Then, when I went to Suzuki, I upgraded and went to LifterLMS. But for me, being able to take core material like best practices material and put it online, it at least gets the audience from here to here. I need to get the average intellect or knowledge of the subject matter. I need to raise that level so that everybody’s on a certain plane when they show up to class. [crosstalk 00:09:21]

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

If I can get everyone to that baseline, then when I do host the workshop, it’s not such a struggle to get to here. Right now, if everyone’s already here, it’s just that next jump.

Chris Badgett:

It’s like blended learning. It’s not an either or. You’re like, “Let’s get everybody on the same page and then we do the in-person stuff.”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. And the in-person stuff is so important. I keep trying to find ways to substitute some of that like these Zoom things that you do with the masterminds and stuff. It’s great I can get. Right now, I’m hosting technicians on Zoom calls. I’ll get 10 or 12 different people on. We’ll discuss things. It’s good to have that interactivity with the with the users, but it’s still not hands-on. I still think that there’s a need to every now and then have that mastermind real get together group where you get face-to-face and you do workshops and overcome objections in person and stuff. There’s a lot to it, but I’m doing more and more online.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

The more I can reduce the travel and reduce that travel budget, the more I can expand what we’ve got. Once I record it and put it online, that work is done, and I can work on developing the next step rather than regurgitating the same step over and over and over again.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. As a consultant, if you find yourself repeating yourself all the time, that’s a perfect opportunity for a course. What was the journey to LifterLMS or is this, are we at Suzuki at that point or how does that happen?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. I actually experimented with Lifter MS on a Manana No Mas project before going to Suzuki. Moodle was a great proof of concept for me at Ducati because I was able to run a lot of people through it. I don’t want to talk bad about product. If people like it, that’s great, but it was too much for me. The backend was a little confusing, and I wasn’t able to play enough with the interface to make it attractive whereas I knew from my agency work that once I got into a WordPress platform, I could play with graphics and user interfaces and make things more pleasant for the user.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Based on my comfort level with WordPress, I started focusing more on WordPress options. Then, I looked at some of the competitors to LifterLMS. Then, I found LifterLMS. If I’m just going to be honest with you, I think you responded to a question email of mine pretty quickly between you and customer service. This was going back few years. This was 2015, 2016. The idea that there’s somebody at the other end of the communication that’s there to help me or to point me in the right direction was a big plus. I downloaded that. I did the Manana No Mas build. I was ready to leave Ducati and be independent at that time, but then Suzuki called and made me an offer, and I went to Suzuki, and I ended up building some projects for them over the last three, four years.

Chris Badgett:

Wow. Was it more of the same service training, service writing training or-

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. Suzuki was a lot different for me. It was interesting. I don’t know. Maybe, you would find this interesting as the application goes, but at Ducati, they sell motorcycles, and that’s it. It’s a small team that runs the distributorship here in North America. It takes care of the three countries, Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Suzuki was completely different. They had a power sports brand was switched motorcycles, and it did off-road, on-road, and ATVs, and all that stuff. That was cool. Then, there’s the marine category which is outboard motors which is completely different than power sports. Then, even though they don’t sell cars in America anymore, I was in charge of the publications and training division for the automotive division, so if there’s a new recall or a new service process, we still had to support that.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Instead of working by myself in a little hole at a smaller really exclusive awesome brand like Ducati, I got to work on a team and manage a team of people. That was a really good growth experience for me because then, I dealt with an instructional designer. I had a publications guy. I had to proofread and do a lot of editing which was usually I would do the writing and then publishing and then do editing post-event. I know that a lot of small businesses deal with that. You end up making content and realizing you got to fix mistakes later. At Suzuki, it was really cool because we had systems and people and the overhead available to make a near-perfect product before publishing it.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

It was a completely different work style for me. It really helped me grow and learn a lot. Now, having left Suzuki, I’ve begun the rebrand and redo Manana No Mas again. That’ll be so I can help dealers directly instead of having to filter my content through an OEM distributorship.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Before we get into that, inside of a corporation, does LMS sit on the internet or is on a private intranet?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Oh, that’s a very big question, Mr. Badgett. I will tell you-

Chris Badgett:

I’m just curious-

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

… most of the companies that I have dealt with or that I have done investigations with to try and push my own agenda, they don’t host it themselves, but they typically pay another company which seems like an exorbitant fee to supposedly self-host this this content on their servers. Then, they’ll link it through their mainframe server that they used for their business stuff. Typically, they’re logistics, accounting. All their sales stuff is in their mainframe. Then, typically these companies will have some third-party training company that makes the content and hosts it securely on their internal servers, and then they link everything together.

Chris Badgett:

I see. That makes sense. I was just curious how it works because a lot of course creators are doing courses for profit just selling directly versus using it for internal training in a company. It’s like a different use case. Just curious how it’s a little different.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Well, when you sit in on these IT meetings of these big companies, it’s really interesting because a lot of them are having… They’re all talking about being agile companies. They’re all talking about cloud hosting, cloud sharing, and all the stuff that’s going on. Then at the end of the day, you’re sitting there thinking I can make you… For me, as a trainer, I’m thinking why are you guys paying $400,000 a year to host a website over here when for less than 10 grand a year, we could build and host an amazing learning platform for you that would still be secure? When I say secure, I mean as secure as like any other major company that’s been broken into and lost all their contact information, right?

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. There’s no such thing as a 100% secure.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. When I look at it, and when I look at the usage, so we had spoke and we started to talk about college use and stuff like that. Corporately speaking, even a big company, there’s not as many active users as you think using these platforms month in month out, month in month out. I might have three thousand users registered for a product, but based on the turn of the material and the content and stuff, I might only have a couple hundred active users on a month. That was one of the real attractive things that brought me to Lifter in the first place because a lot of companies had these billing examples based on usage licenses.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

When I tried to figure out what my budget was going to be to run an enterprise platform learning system, it was really hard to go to my bosses and say, “Okay. Well, this is how much money we’re going to spend in 2017 or 2018 or 2019,” and then trying to forecast growth and stuff was really difficult.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. I get that. I know what you mean, like if the LMS is charging you based on users. You’ve got 3000 users, but only a hundred active, the model doesn’t work or you’re being overcharged for how much you are actually using. Go ahead.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

The obstacle comes up like in automotive motorcycle power sports, if there’s a recall that comes out or a technical service bullet and you go, “Man, we really got to train the people about this.” You make this new thing and you put it up. Well, then all the sudden, you’ve got a surge of 3000 people taking new content over a month or six weeks’ period. Then, that spikes your building like crazy. Then you’re trying to plan these budgets in advance, was really difficult where was self-hosting on Lifter, I was able to consolidate the whole idea of billing into something that was manageable.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. You have a more concrete, you know what your expenses are. What was the genesis of Manana No Mas? First, how did that website start?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

When we say how did it start, that’s kind of funny thing. Manana No Mas, and I’m not Hispanic or anything like that, but I had an agency in New Mexico. When I worked with people, I had a company name that was based on my name. It Von Ahnen Designs & PR. Then, I thought to myself, “The bigger this grows, someday, I might want to sell this thing, and it’s hard to sell something that’s got your own name on it.”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I started thinking I need to change the name. Then, the customers I were helping, and you talked about working with VSPs, very small businesses, I was working with a lot of those. I was working with the Economic Development Center in South Valley there in Albuquerque. They would refer all the people to me. You would give them tasks. You would say, “Okay. I’m going to build the framework in WordPress for you, guys, to have your first website, but do you need a logo?” They, “Oh no. We can do it.” Okay. Well, do you need this? Oh, we can do it. Well, I need your about-me stuff or I need your about-us text to put into the site.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Then, you’d schedule the next meeting. Then, I would have all my stuff done, and they wouldn’t have anything done. This would push on for meeting and meeting and meeting. Then, everything was always a rush. They would put something off for three months and the give you two days’ notice to finish the project. I lost my cool one day. I said, “These people never have their act together. If they’re not vested in their own success, I can’t continue to beat myself to death this.” Manana No Mas, there’s no tomorrow, they got to get this stuff done today.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

The guy running economic development center, Tony, he goes, “That would be a really good name for your business.” We’ve reserved Manana No Mas right then and there. Then, when I took the job with Ducati, I knew I should have shut down Manana No Mas, but deep in my mind, I was like, “It’s just too good of a name and a story to give up.” So, I kept it. It really became more like a travel blog as I went to Italy and Spain and France and worked with different things in power sports. I thought it would be really cool to develop that.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Then, I got fat. That’s why you see a lot of the training material that’s on Manana No Mas now. It’s about personal development, losing weight, being fit. It’s not about competing in Mr. Universe. It’s about being fit enough to finish a workday and not be exhausted.

Chris Badgett:

There’s a lot of reasons why I wanted to interview you, but you do more than having businesses run more efficiently with service writing and stuff as one thing, but you also have this whole health transformation thing going on. What was the inciting incident that made you decide, “You know what? I’m ready to make a change.” Was there a moment or was it more just like slow crawl out of a bad spot you got yourself into?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I got to be really unhappy working for the Italian brand not because of the brand itself, but the situation I had allowed myself to get into. I was travelling way too much and I was working way too hard. They didn’t have the budget at the time to bring in the help that I needed. I had committed to the dealer network that we were going to do all this awesome stuff. I don’t know if you know enough about the Manana No Mas mindset, but I have never missed a deadline or gone over budget. I treat that the same corporately.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

At Suzuki, I didn’t miss deadlines or go over budget. At Ducati, I don’t do that. I believe that whatever I commit to, I got to make happen. My last year at Ducati, I made that commitment, and then, I realized, “Man, I bit off a lot.” I had a corporate credit card. You could eat and drink whatever I wanted. I did. I got really big. I had a hard time fitting on the airplane once. I was flying from Florida back to California. They put you on a little airplane to go from Daytona to Atlanta. I was like, “Man, I’m not too comfortable in my seat. This is…”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

then from Atlanta to California, this horrifically obese woman sat next to me. I was in the middle chair, and she was on the aisle seat. Her thigh was pushing under the armrest and squishing up against me. And by the time we got to California and she got out of the chair, when I stood up, sweat and perspiration was dripping down the inside of my pant leg from just being- Then right there, I was like, “I’m not doing this anymore.” This has to change.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

And some people go, “That’s really disgusting and that’s really horrible story that you just shared,” but that was the moment that you said, “What’s the moment?”

Chris Badgett:

How long ago was that?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

That was near the end of 2016. I think it was like June or July. Then, I took the job at Suzuki. I moved down the Southern California. I tried to break my bicycle back out of the garage, but I was still too fat to ride it. My wife and I joined a thing called the Transformation Camp. It was one of those lose 20 pounds in six weeks. I lost the 20 pounds in six weeks. I signed up for another six weeks. I signed up for another six weeks. I ended up dropping just over 60 pounds. Then, I hit my goal weight. I was like, “Man, if I get down to 205 pounds, I’m going to be pretty happy about that.” Then, man, I got back in a bicycling and then I was doing road biking and then mountain biking. I did BMX with my son.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I started running Spartan races and Warrior dashes. I was approaching 50 years old. I’m like, “At 50, I’m doing stuff that I couldn’t do when I was 30.” I used to race motorcycles semi-professionally. I used to road race and travel around the country. Even with road racing, I wasn’t as fit as I am now. The mountain biking I was doing the day I broke my collarbone, I was hitting PRs on every trail there was, [inaudible 00:24:11], rock gardens. I was having a blast. You come out of that with a broken collarbone. You’re like, “No worries. It was still a great day.”

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. I love that. It’s so true. You can get in better shape as an older person. You were at your “prime age,” or whatever. It’s totally possible.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. It is. It’s pretty bizarre now. I am one of those gadget people. I’ve got the computers on the bikes. I’ve got the heart rate monitor that I wear. When I go mountain biking, I literally just play with the heart rate if I’m riding by myself, and I say, “Okay. I’m going to stay at 164 to 168 for this next 3000 feet of climb.” I’m surrounded by mountains, so I’m able to regulate that. I’ve been able to become a pretty decent athlete in my 50s which is weird, but it’s fun.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s awesome. More power to you. That’s really cool. On the Manana No Mas side, what is the discipline mind?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

It’s one of 14 courses that we’ve got currently. Some courses are specifically designed for business like key performance indicators or setting goals, things like that. That’s more business oriented. But the discipline mind is part of the content that I have that’s for personal development. So many people like that transformation camp I told you that I went to, I was the only person in my group that went through the whole thing and then didn’t gain the weight back like that rebound weight gain.

Chris Badgett:

What did you have that they didn’t?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I think I was just so disgusted with myself that I was never going to go backwards again. I don’t know what makes that. For me, I looked at how they succeeded in the first place. It was through community. When they’re part of the group for the six weeks, everybody’s pushing each other for the six weeks. Then, when the six weeks is up, they go home, and they’re like, “I don’t feel like running today, or I don’t feel like doing 25 burpees in between commercials.” I think that that’s where some of that gets lost. Then, there’s people like me. I’m pretty active online. I’m active socially.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I’ve got a pretty decent following on Facebook and Twitter and stuff. I interacted with a lot of people that were active. Then, I started interacting with people at the office at Suzuki that were active with the mountain biking. Again, I think was the community that helped drive that. One of the things I like about using LifterLMS is the social learning aspect.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

My goal is the discipline mind and goal 365 and some of those other courses that I have. Embrace the process is another one like the discipline mind. It’s all about its great content, but if I can plug people into the community side of it and they can begin to edify each other and build each other up, not like a Facebook group that can maybe get some trolls in it and stuff, but something that’s in the site where I know it’s moderated and that it’ll be people building each other up like-minded. I think that that’s really going to help.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

The discipline mind is all about that. It’s like how to enjoy the fruits of saying no to certain things or how to enjoy the fruits of saying yes to things you need to say yes to. It’s great to say no to something good in search of something better. That’s a lot of what the discipline mind is about.

Chris Badgett:

That was cool. Who’s the ideal customer for that or a learner?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

It’s twofold for me because to me, fitness and business are intertwined. They’re not separate things. I think that’s why I’ve been confusing people a little bit. I’m trying to clear that up. To me, it’s about physical fitness that leads to physical fitness. If I’m too tired at the end of a workday to enjoy my family or if I’m too tired halfway through a work data to really kill it at three o’clock meeting in the conference room with the vice president, well then, I’m failing.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I think that people need that push. If people are struggling to get through their workday, they’re a great candidate. If someone is stuck in the same position for more than two and a half, three years at a corporation that has turnover an opportunity, then, they’re a great candidate. I did that John Maxwell training. That’s the stuff that really fires me up and gets me to push people. It’s about adding value to people. It’s about helping them get the next step or the next stage. I’m not saying that everyone that becomes a client of Manana No Mas is going to be a CEO someday, but it’s about getting people. It’s loving on people enough to help them realize their self value and that they’ve been telling themselves no for too long and that the next level is available for them. They just need to pursue it. I’m not sure how to build goals one step at a time to get there.

Chris Badgett:

I love that. I know. I mean there’s this saying like you got to manage, you got to focus, but I also believe in living an integrated life, the health, wealth, relationships. They all work together. The whole work-life balance thing, I totally get it. I’ve had struggles with that, but if you really love your work and you’re in your life, and it’s kind of integrated together, who cares? They worship each other and definitely the fitness and the health is like if you want to be a top performer and you’re letting that slide, that’s a serious handicap.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. The mountain biking has been really interesting socially and I’ll say politically around because people say to me, “Oh, hey. You want to do this on Thursday night?” I don’t know. I mountain bike on Thursday nights. They, “Look, can we reschedule that for another time?” People are like, “You’re going to blow me off to go mountain biking?” I’m like, “Yeah. It’s in the schedule. That’s what I do.” Saturday morning is road biking. Thursday night is mountain biking. It becomes part of the schedule.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

When I talk to people, they say, “Well, I don’t have the time for that or I don’t…” It’s, no, you have the time. What you mean is that you didn’t prioritize properly. I’ve been really working with people about how to prioritize their time better so that they can find the balance to do the things they want to do. A lot of times, it requires putting this thing in the glove box or turning off the TV, but we’ve got an amazing amount of time to get things done. I just don’t think people are aware that they have it.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s awesome. I’m a pretty schedule guy too. I have a pretty elaborate morning routine or whatever. Every morning, first thing I do is a 5K every single day. Sometimes, that’s walking. Sometimes, that’s running or sometimes I’ll blow it off and do an hour on the road, on the bicycle or whatever, but it’s like non-negotiable. Even my family knows like, “I’ll be gone.” I’m usually gone before they’re even awake. That’s some of my best thinking time. If I didn’t have that and I’m also learning. I’m listening to podcasts and things like this. Maybe, you’re listening right now or exercising. That’s a total hack. I have 10 years of having this morning routine listening to people about business and health and all kinds of stuff that has transformed how I think and how I operate.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. I went to the bone conducted headphones so that I can still hear the environment.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool. What is that?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Gosh. Where do I have them? They’re over there. They squeeze your head right over your temple. It pushes the sound through your bones.

Chris Badgett:

There’s nothing going into your ear cavity?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

There’s nothing in my ear cavity. When I’m road biking or mountain biking, I can still hear other people on the trail or hear cars coming, so I’m still aware of my environment, but I can hear the music of the podcast. If I’m drilling myself on a road ride, and I need to maintain cadence, I’ll listen to Daft Punk, but if I want to learn something, I’ll listen to podcasts. I listen to an awful lot of business podcasts while I’m exercising.

Chris Badgett:

Wow. That’s awesome.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

But you still hear everything around you. It’s pretty cool.

Chris Badgett:

I should get some of those. I’ve definitely had a few cars sneak up on me, and I’m walking the dogs too so imagine them, and then sometimes either or a runner will come up behind me or something. You mentioned leadership, John C. Maxwell. I remember when I first became a manager because I was good at my job, this is when I lived in Alaska and managed a sled dog tour business, you can only get to by a helicopter. All of a sudden, if there’s a lot of risks, there’s a lot of intensity with that kind of work, but I went through this whole journey of like, “Man, I really need to figure out leadership and management.”

Chris Badgett:

I read John C. Maxwell. I’ve probably read a thousand business books on business but also leadership management. What are some key counterintuitive takeaways you have around leading and managing people that the person out there, let’s say, they’re an expert and a good operator at something, but they’re trying to become a better manager, a leader or maybe build a team to help them, what should the key into?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I think I talked best from personal experience. I can remember when I was young, I was a manager at UPS, loading the outbound trucks. I can remember when they first made me manager, I was a kid. I was like, “I’m going to tell these guys what to do.” I was a really good at loading the trucks. I held the record in the Willow Grove Hub for a long time on how to load trucks. I’m really into it. It’s like Tetris but in real life.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Then, these other people would come in, and they didn’t have the same passion or drive to play Tetris in real life. They just wanted to do the five and a half hours and go home. I’m barking orders at them, “Hey, that box fell off the belt. Read that zip code. Throw that. No. Build the wall this way.” I’m yelling at people. They’re just like, “God, this guy’s an idiot. I can’t wait till this shift is over.”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I didn’t realize then how bad I was at managing people, but I wasn’t bad at managing. I was managing great, but I wasn’t leading anybody. Nobody wanted to follow me. There’s a lot of things that John Maxwell says, but one thing that really sticks out to me is if you find yourself going somewhere and nobody’s following you, well, then you’re not leading anybody. You’re just going for a walk. I’m like, “Okay. Who is following? Who am I pouring into? Who am I mentoring? Who am I bringing alongside of me?”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

That’s been a huge transition in how I look at running teams. At Suzuki, I didn’t want to just be a guy that sat in a cubicle and babysat for other cubicles and told people what to do. I wanted to make sure I became a working manager and understood like, “Hey, how does articulate storyline really work or how does this really work or how can we work together on this and take this to the next level?” Then by empowering other people and adding value to other people or giving them training in areas that might have been their deficiencies, I was able to build a really solid team.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I think that that’s the difference. When you can add value to other people and lead them and they want to follow you, when I left Suzuki, that was one of the weirdest transitions ever. I actually had two employees write recommendations on my LinkedIn page. I had never seen that before. I had never seen employees writing recommendations for bosses that had left. I was like, “Well, I must have done something right.” Something about the leadership training I had at John Maxwell, the training that I give others, it must have resonated in a way that made enough sense that these employees recognized that was something that I would find value in. It was touching.

Chris Badgett:

Can you tell us if somebody has a job in a corporate and they’re thinking about moving to operating in their own? You’ve made that transition. What do you recommend with that? How did that work? Then, what are some key takeaways to make it not so scary or at least set yourself up for success if you’re thinking about it?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

There is so much at play in that question, Chris. That’s not even fair to ask me that. That’s a tough one. I will tell you when I started Manana No Mas when it was Von Ahnen Designs & PR in New Mexico, that was at the height of the recession, and that was pure bootstrap survival stuff. Man, that was I didn’t care if I slept or didn’t sleep. I would eat peanut butter and jelly because I couldn’t afford to buy something on the road. I just wanted something better than beans in a crock pot for my kids. That was rough. That was taking any meeting at any time for any benefit, and it was a struggle. I don’t recommend that for anybody. I don’t because that desperation led to really poor leadership on my part.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

We survived, but I don’t know that we really thrived. This time is completely different. I made sure that I understood my niche. I made sure that I understood my customer first. I built a product that’s not perfect, but it was good enough to launch and start getting people through it. Now, I’m able to do a proof-of-concept. I’ve beta tested with a couple of dealers that I’ve put in. It was like, “Hey, I’m going to give you guys a smoking hot deal on this, but here’s the flipside. You’re going to become a modern-day case study that I’m going to publicize, so I got to make sure you’re okay with this. We’re going to share your numbers. We’re going to share your successes. We’re going to share your challenges, but you get access to me and the program for next to nothing.”

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Taking the time to set it up that way, I think is what’s going to really lend it to success. I also built my network pretty high before I went independent. I have access to about 3000 motorcycle dealerships now that people know who I am. They know my name. I published a book in 2007 that lends me credibility. There’s all these things. I have a second book that’s coming out in a couple of months. That’s called Service Writing in the Gray, and the first book was Service Writing in Black and White. I’m very focused on that niche.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

It’s understanding the niche, the customer, building the network and then having a product to actually sell and push. I think is really important. I don’t think people are prepared. When they think about owning their own business and leaving a corporate safety net, they don’t really think it all the way through. They don’t think about what is the product and how am I going to distribute the product and how am I going to get the customer. Who is my customer and how am I going to approach that customer because in a corporate environment, they might see customers coming and going, but they’re really not aware of the marketing or the expense that was made to get that customer in the first place.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

They really have to have a realistic expectation before they jump in.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Any quick advice on if somebody… I think writing a book is a great idea especially if you’re in a niche within a niche within a niche or whatever. How did that go down for you?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I’ll be honest. I was in the car business for so long on the service side. I was really frustrated that I didn’t enjoy it. I mean I was good at it, but I didn’t enjoy it. I worked at way too many dealerships because I would get ticked off and go to the next one. I couldn’t sleep. Finally, I wrote the book kind of like I didn’t understand. I didn’t know how I could go from one service center to another that was struggling with being profitable and then making it extremely profitable and then seeing like a lack of culture shift in other ways.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I wrote a book about it. It’s a really short book, but I wrote the book and went that direction. I was surprised. I didn’t think anybody was going to buy it. I self-published it. I didn’t even get a real publisher. I self-published it. I thought, “If it sells 10 or 15 copies, at least I exercised it.” I got that demon out on my brain, but then people started buying it. I think we’ve sold something like 5000 copies already. But it’s so specific. My subject matter is in a real niche.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

How many service writers are there? How many people do you know personally that make their living selling oil changes at a Ford dealership? That’s my audience. That’s who’s been buying it. Then, manufacturers have bought it. Ducati bought the book and then distributed it to all their dealerships. Other brands have bought the book and distributed to their dealerships. It’s been really interesting.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

In the book, like I said, I wrote the book out of frustration. There’s a lot of things in there that really aren’t super positive. It’ll talk about who owns a dealership. Usually, it’s a sales-oriented person. You can’t expect a sales-oriented person to understand the investment it takes to have a really great service department because for a lot of dealers, [crosstalk 00:40:55].

Chris Badgett:

Cost center.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. The service department, they look at it as a cost center instead of a profit center. I see it as the service department is what keeps your business alive after the sale. The sale is a little bit. I make this much money selling a motorcycle. I make this much money maintaining that motorcycle for the next 10 years. Getting dealers to understand that the back end fixed operations is where the real profit structure is, has been a really fun journey. But yeah. To write a book and establish yourself as some kind of expert, I don’t think there’s a better way to really do it.

Chris Badgett:

That’s a big business card.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. When I teach, I give people a copy of the book. They’re like, “I didn’t realize you’re the guy that wrote this.” [crosstalk 00:41:41] You’re just laying down more stamps of authority on what you teach.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, any just words you have about LifterLMS like how it’s served you or just any comments about that software?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I [inaudible 00:41:59] with this on email before. It’s fantastic. I don’t tell people anything other than it’s fantastic, but you have to prepare yourself because as simple as it looks, there’s a lot of plugins and stuff that you could get. When you sign up for the universe or the infinity bundle and you can take care of how much things cost and put links in the description if you want, but there’s different bundles with different packages. My mistake when I first signed up was I put in all those plugins, and I started trying to figure out how I was going to use everything.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

That was the wrong direction to take. What I should have done was, yeah, get the bundle, but then only plug in the things that I really saw a need for and then grow my understanding or my expertise of using it stair-step it in a way that made sense. It’s years down the road. Now, I’m plugging in things like groundhog and all kinds of stuff making the site more interactive for my users, but that’s not a requirement upfront.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Requirement upfront is you’ve got a course or you’ve got material you want to share with an audience. LifterLMS in its base form does that. Then, you’ve got the packages that really help edify the user and build up a support structure that gets them up to speed relatively quickly. Then, they can plug in the other stuff as they want to improve it or raise the level.

Chris Badgett:

I like that. Keep it simple and evolve. It can grow with you over time.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

So amazing. I’ve built samples for other companies. I’ve used your free version, your freemium version. I’m like, “Hey, I’m going to build you a quick course just so you can see how it would work.” Then, I tell them, “When you’re ready to pull the trigger on this project, there’s a package we’re going to get for you, and it’s going to give you access to so many more interactive points of touch with your users.” I think that when you sell it that way, it makes it easier because they’re visual. They want to see something work.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

But then, you tell them, “Hey, this can grow and expand as you grow and expand.” It doesn’t cost. I wrote down some examples in my notes here, but I’ve got examples from different companies anywhere from 90 to $400,000 a year to run a learning management system. When I look at those numbers and then compare to what I’m spending with Manana No Mas, well, it’s no wonder that I’m in a position to become profitable more quickly because I haven’t expended myself.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah. That’s a good point. Well, Kurt, I want to thank you for coming on the show. It’s been awesome to catch up and learn more about your story, and I find your story inspiring. I’m sure the listener does on a lot of levels.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

I hope so.

Chris Badgett:

Kurt’s at manananomas.com. Any other final words for the people or places to go to connect with you?

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Well, the catch line is get it done yesterday. Manana No Mas, get it done yesterday. That’s my big thing. Don’t sit around. Make yourself deadlines. Give yourself budgets. Don’t exceed deadlines. Don’t exceed budgets, and focus on the next step or the next level that you can get to. I’m all about the leadership training and building these LMSs for other people, but my core my happiness comes when I can help service departments in the power sports industry expand. It all seems possible sitting at home doing this with you, guys.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Kurt. We’ll have to do this again sometime.

Kurt  Von Ahnen:

Yeah. Cool, brother. I like it.

Chris Badgett:

That’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

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