Who is Stephen Oliver
and Why Should I Listen To Him?
Gee – in our industry it seems like everyone has popped up to offer advice how do you tell fact from fantasy? Value from Fraud?
Unfortunately in our industry most of the really successful people are spending their time growing their staff, students, schools, and especially their net profit not sharing their secrets with you. I am different from most of those sharing information in a variety of VERY important ways that are important to you and will help you dramatically grow your school – and, your income.
Many of the “gurus” in our industry fall into one of the following categories:
1. Never been there – never done that.
That’s right – there’s a BUNCH of people trying to sell you advice who have never sat where you sit – and, dealt with the problems and opportunities that you face every day. They often are excellent speakers – and, persuasive purveyors of their own products, programs, or subscriptions but really never did it themselves. Their ideas are unproven. Their perspective limited to that of an outsider.
How am I different?
Well – I opened my first school in 1975. And, have been continuously operating my Mile High Karate schools in Denver since 1983. Mile High Karate currently has successful locations throughout North America. I’ve operated a large school operation – have taught 1000’s and run every aspect of a school. And, can teach you step by step, item by item how to replicate my success – without the “brain damage!”
2. Not even a martial artist!
Believe it or not – there are “experts” in the martial arts business who aren’t even martial artists. They don’t understand the training, mindset, and love for the martial arts that we share – then dare to tell real martial artists how to run a school teaching real martial arts skills and curriculum.
How am I different?
I began studying martial arts in 1969. Trained in Tae Kwon Do with the Jhoon Rhee Institute along side the likes of World Champions Jeff Smith, John Chung, Charlie Lee, and the most awesome stable of kickboxers ever assembled. More recently I was promoted to 8th Degree Black Belt by Jeff Smith. Mile High Karate includes some of the top martial artists in the World from former World Champion Jeff Smith to the top people in the “Parker Kenpo” lineage, the top instructors in Kung Fu, Traditional Karate, Tae Kwon Do and, event Thai Kick-Boxing & BJJ.
3. Only run a school in their memory.
Some of those who consult or run organizations or even “fake franchises” only run a martial arts school in their memory – in some case distant memory. Some of those recollections seem more like a distant dream (or, in some cases vivid nightmare!) Many of these people operated in very different circumstances and times.
How am I different.
I am still totally immersed in the daily operations of martial arts schools – up to doing 527 enrollment conferences in the past 3 years personally – nose to nose, belly to belly. Every Friday I meet (by phone & webinar) with our Regional Developers from around the world. Every Wednesday I meet with our school owners, school managers and instructors – and, solve the everyday problems that you face in the real world (albeit at possibly a higher volume.)
4. Never ran a successful school.
Even those advise givers who really are Black Belts – and, run or have run schools – usually never ran a particularly successful operation. Many got into offering advice about running a school or, put together an organization (license, association or other fake – often illegal – franchise) since they really couldn’t figure out how to make much of a living running a school or schools of their own.
How am I different?
Right now – several Mile High Karate schools will do over $500,000.00 in gross revenues (in some cases much more) we will add many more locations with owner-operators like you, and with regional developers who develop multiple schools in their protected region. I broke the $1,000,000.00 a year barrier – way back in 1985 – and continue to operate a hugely successful operation. I’ve made a six figure + personal income for over 26 years strictly from schools.
5. “Flash in the Pan”
Often this comes in the guise of – gee I just started figuring this stuff out and had a great year last year. What if you pay me to tell you about my short-term successes. I did $ (pick a number $100,000 net, $400,000 gross, etc., etc.) will do more this year – and, would love to show you how I did it.
How I am different?
Well – I’ve already covered this for you – but, let’s just say that there are many people who have a good year of two. Let’s see if they can weather the ups and downs of our industry – and, boom years and recession.
6. Personality driven – not duplicatable.
I think we’d both be able to draw upon a few examples of Magnetic Personalities – who’s personal success is exciting – but, really not something that could EVER be replicated in your operation.
How am I different?
I’ve run a large school operation since 1983. In that time nearly 100% of our teaching, marketing, and sales were accomplished by employees (or, now franchise school owner/operators) who had to implement my systems. They are not dependent upon charisma or unstoppable energy. I have spent years studying operations and marketing – including formally achieving a Master’s in Business Administration – that included having a literal bevy of MBA’s and Ph.D.’s analyze the martial arts school business – to help me create powerful duplicatable systems for school operations.
7. Have lost touch with what works in the 21st century.
Unfortunately the industry is full of dinosaurs and leaders of the past – who’s time has long since passed, but who’s friends and associates are unwilling to say “the emperor has no clothes.” Systems that may have been revolutionary in 1970 or 1980 (even 1990 and beyond) may be out of date or just plain insufficient in the current environment.
How am I different?
In a variety of ways I continue to explore the “leading edge” of new technologies, teaching techniques, marketing strategies, and technological enhancements. I explore the latest approaches not only through my own school implementation but through an unmatched “master-mind” team of industry leaders that I network with and share ideas with constantly. The latest strategies and tools are immediately available to all of our franchisees.
A Little Background:
Maybe I was just born under a lucky star – but when it comes to running a professional martial arts school I was born with the proverbial “Silver Spoon.”
My training started in 1969 in the Texas/Oklahoma “Blood & Guts” era. I was with the at Jhoon Rhee Institute Branch in Tulsa, OK in the Jhoon Rhee, Allen Steen, Pat Burleson linage being directly taught at when I started by Jhoon Rhee Black Belts Gran & Greg Moulder, Bob Olinghouse, and David Harrelson.
I started my first school (under Jhoon Rhee) in 1974 and, concurrently trained with Jeff Smith along with Roger Green (Joe Lewis’ first Black Belt), and a variety of others in Oklahoma and Texas.
In 1978 I received by Black Belt directly from Jhoon Rhee along with Jeff Smith and a wide collection of champion Kickboxers and forms competitors. I was offered a teaching position in Washington. I was a National Merit Scholar and A student and already was accepted for college at the University of Tulsa with a full scholarship for the first year and partial scholarship beyond the first year. I attended school there while applying for transfer to Princeton, Stanford, and Wharton along with Georgetown University.
While attended college at Georgetown University I was a head instructor and branch manager for The Jhoon Rhee Institute, in Washington, D.C.
At the time the Jhoon Rhee Institute was the #1 martial arts business organization in the world. I sat through hours and hours of training sessions and meetings with a few notable figures in the martial arts industry: Jhoon Rhee (father of American Tae Kwon Do,) Nick Cokinos (Then President of the Jhoon Rhee Institute, now chairman and owner of Educational Funding Company,) Jeff Smith (the DC Bomber – first World Light Heavy Weight Kickboxing Champion and one of the top school owner’s in the United States,) Ned Muffley (then General Manager for the Jhoon Rhee Institute and now General Manager for Educational Funding Company) and many other’s.
When I graduated from Georgetown – I decided against moving on to big corporate America – and, put pursuing an MBA on hold.
I put together a very extensive business plan with Jhoon Rhee, Nick Cokinos, Jeff Smith and Ned Muffley’s help. Spent 12 months studying direct response, business management, and sales marketing at the Library of Congress and the SBA. Read everything that I could get my hands on about advertising – specifically direct mail and copywriting. I also spend several months at the Federal Trade Commission where I had an opportunity to read the sales manuals and management training materials for every major health spa chain in the United States and the other larger martial arts school organizations.
In a rather gutsy move I then moved across the country to Denver, Colorado and with $10,000 opened 5 schools in 18 months – and grew to over 1,500 active students and over a $1,000,000 in revenue by 1985.
Over the year’s I’ve continued to develop my schools and experiment with a huge number approaches.
In 1989 I decided to extend my management knowledge base and went back to school for a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (ie. MBA) with a primary focus marketing.
At the same time I began promoting the Mile High Karate Classic – which for 10 years was a very successful and highly rated NASKA world tour event.
During these many year’s I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with just about every successful business person, teacher, and school owner in the martial arts industry. I’m lucky to count as close friends a range of leaders including Nick Cokinos, Jhoon Rhee, Jeff Smith, Andrew Wood, Tim and Dave Kovar, Steve LaVallee, Keith Hafner and just about everyone who’s accomplished anything in our industry.
These industry leader’s have taught me much – and, I believe often consider me a mentor and leader in the business of martial arts school operations.
During these years I’ve had many huge successes – and, some spectacular failures. As in all endeavors – the failures have taught me much more than the successes. What I consider by greatest strength is a willingness to continue to take risks and try new approaches to all of the challenges of school operation.
In the recent past – I decided to pursue what I think of as an informal Ph.D. in Internet and Direct Response Marketing. I’ve traveled around North America – and spent way over $250,000 on a variety of internet marketing, direct marketing, and sales training seminars and programs – and, have developed several internet companies – many totally unrelated to martial arts.
I continue to run a chain of schools that’s spread out from Washington, D.C. where we have a national training center, to Denver to Fresno and Miami along with New Zealand and Australia.
I’ve written a series of books on Marketing and Management for Martial Arts Schools and a series on Character Development and Leadership for kids and lecture around the world on School operations – and, continue to expand my knowledge of all details or running a successful martial arts business.