Chris: Good, how are you sir?
Randy : I’m excited. I’m really excited to have you as part of Dojo Nation this month and to put you on the cover. You’ve been a guy that I’ve known for a while, and you’re one of the real givers in our industry, and you’re one of the honest good guys. You’ve also been able to help a lot of martial artists, so I’m pretty excited to have you on the interview here.
Chris: I appreciate you asking me to be on here. I definitely feel that I can share some value with you guys.
Randy : Cool. For the readers, let’s start just by, could you tell us a little bit about your martial arts background?
Chris: Okay. This dates back, way back. My grandfather was a World War II vet. He was a champion boxer in the Army. My uncle was a boxer. He taught me a bunch of stuff, coming along. My uncle wasn’t necessarily a professional boxer, but he just knew a lot of stuff from my grandfather teaching him. When I was a young kid, my grandfather used to teach me how to throw punches, and block, and whatnot. I got bullied. I remember this story. I got bullied on the block by a big kid down the block. His name was [Niko 00:01:24]. He was a big Greek kid; I was probably about nine and he was like, 13 years old. He used to bully everybody on the block. I remember vividly that my grandfather cut down a tree in the backyard, and he had the blocks laying there, and the kid came and he pushed me. I fell backwards over the tree, probably started whimpering or whatever, and I went back in the house.
I was always the type of person that had a long fuse. It took a lot to get me mad, but when I finally got mad, I was like an atom bomb. I still am that way. It takes a lot for me to get mad. My grandfather saw this in the window, and when I came back in the house he said, “I want you to go back outside and punch that kid in his face, and if you don’t you’re going to have a problem with me.” Now, my grandfather was a strapping guy. I didn’t want to deal with any of that, so I went back outside. Low and behold, here comes [Niko 00:02:12] down the block, and he went to go put his hand out to push me again over the things, and I wailed him in his face. He ran back in the house, his mother came out of the house.
My mother, who was always very hot tempered, came flying out of the house, and she’s like, “Your son is an animal. He punched my son.” My mother turned around and said, “Lady,” and she was like, “If you don’t get back in the house I’m going to kick your butt.” That was how things started out. I trained boxing until about my early twenties. My early thirties, I started taking Muay Thai for a couple years, and then my buddy who actually was the partner originally of Pixel Mobb, he was already a purple belt in jujitsu, and he’s like, “Dude, you have to come and check out jujitsu.”
I’m 5’10”, I have naturally long limbs, like 73 inch reach. I’m pretty much the same size Conor McGregor, maybe a little bit bigger in weight, but I’ve always had a striking background, I’ve always been a good precision striker. He was like, “Come and check out jujitsu.” I was like, “You mean you got to roll around with Superman pajamas on with a bunch of guys on the floor?” He said, “That’s exactly what you have to do.” I came, I checked it out, I got my butt kicked terribly. I consistently got my butt kicked for quite some time. Pretty much everything that I picked up in life, I’m pretty adept at it, I get a little OCD on it, I study it and I become good at it, but jujitsu, I could not grasp it. I was so out of my element. Normally, I wanted to create distance and push away, and jujitsu is all about closeness and being on top of each other. I’ve been training jujitsu now seven years. I’m currently ranked purple belt on the Christopher Brough at Elite martial arts.
Randy : He’s a heck of an instructor.
Chris: He’s a great instructor.
Randy : I know he’s got a very successful school out there. He’s got a great team too. He’s done some really neat stuff.
Chris: Very successful school, one of the best kept secrets probably, in the martial arts. Most people don’t know how successful he really is, but he’s probably one of the top 1% of the school owners out there. Jujitsu has taught me so much about myself. One thing about jujitsu is it exposes you for who you are. It exposes your weaknesses. You can’t hide on the mat. It makes you come in contact with your ego. It separates you from your ego. It makes you realize, “Okay, I have a bunch of weaknesses. There’s fears that I have to get over.” It makes you confront those weaknesses.
Literally, it has changed my life for the better. The people that I’ve met in martial arts are some of the best people that I’ve ever come across in life. Jujitsu itself has just transformed who I am, from little tiny things that even my wife would say, stuff that I would normally I used to get upset about or maybe freak out and have a little road rage or whatever. These things, after a 200 pound gorilla is trying to take your head off, things get put into perspective after. It’s definitely helped me greatly.
Randy : Then you took your martial arts training and experience, and then you moved that into the video business that you run, Pixel Mobb. Is that how that worked?
Chris: No. Actually, to take a step back from that, as I’m working with Christopher Brough, he asked me to create. I was never really a videographer until about 11 years ago. Before that, I was a graphic designer, freelancing. Ten years before that I was working on Wall St. in finance, in a suit and tie, until 9/11. Then 9/11 happened and I was faced with the decision that I wanted to pursue my creativeness. I’ve been an artist since I’m four years old. I went back to school for graphic design, and I was a graphic designer. I was a damn good graphic designer. I was working with Chris and he’s like, “Hey, I need some cards made.” I made him some cards. He was like, “These are really awesome.” He’s like, “Why don’t you create a site to sell these templates?” He’s like, “There’s a couple of other places that are doing it. Why don’t you try it?” I was like, “Okay.”
I was doing freelance business anyway. It was something that was supplemental to what I was doing as it is, so I put the stuff out there. The very first day that I ran an ad, Alan Belcher bought the very first product on our site. When I looked I was like, “This is a UFC fighter.” After that, we were starting to get a lot of sales. I was like, “Wow, I’m onto something here. It’s a good passive income. I’m doing my other business.” In that time, as a graphic designer, I met my old partner. His name was Pete. Good guy. He was a videographer, so he brought me into this. Before this, I was doing music too for a while. I’m a musician and artist, photographer, a writer, a videographer, somebody who dabbles and masters a bunch of different talents, so video was the natural progression to this whole thing. It gave me the outlet to utilize all of talents in one place.
When we started Pixel Mobb, he was doing video, I was doing graphic design. I picked it up very quickly. It felt very natural to me, and I learned a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, our partnership went different ways. He was a good guy. We just didn’t have the same opinion on a few things, but that’s how everything started.
Randy : Now, you’ve made some really neat video stuff for summer camp and different businesses, plus the cards. You’re really involved with a lot of martial artists out there. You also do, I know you do a lot of go overseas to do video shoots for people, and you’ve got a lot of experience in shooting videos to help people promote their business. What do you see? It seems like martial arts schoolers really haven’t picked up on the importance of video yet, and the people outside of it have. Where do you think that disconnect is coming in, between the school owner and your average business person, or even gym owner for that matter?
Chris: One of the things that we do at Pixel Mobb, Pixel Mobb is my umbrella company. It’s the parent company. For the last decade we have been flown out to every corner of the planet to do shoots for fitness coaches, that they take these curriculums and sell them online as informational products. I’ve had a great experience to see firsthand, some of the launches that some of these people have done, have done multiple six figures, moving in on seven figures. Video works very, very well. Right now we’re at the forefront of the video revolution. Every year it’s growing by 150%. Every single year the investments are in the billions at this point, for online video and online video ads. Moving back on this, I believe that martial arts school owners sometimes don’t see how transformative they are on people’s lives. Again, I’ve worked with fitness industry and they transform lives too, but they don’t do it to the degree that martial arts schools do.
Why I say this is because my own experience is that I’ve trained strength training for a long time. People go to a fitness program, you lose some weight, you get in good shape, you feel good about yourself, but there’s no ranking system. There’s nothing to look forward to growth, and there’s no spiritual and mental component that really is increased by working out in a fitness program. Whereas, martial arts people, martial arts school owners are transforming not only a person’s body on the outside, but they’re doing it on the inside too. They’re transforming their mind, their spirit. In that, I sometimes wonder why it was so hard for them. I always feel like the martial arts industry is maybe two steps behind a lot of the other industries. I hate to say it this way. I think that while they change people’s lives, discipline, even though they teach discipline, is sometimes lacking in the actual owner.
Like we’ve discussed in the past, a lot of these owners come to training or opening their school because they’re good at martial arts. To be good at martial arts is one thing. To be a good successful business owner is something totally different. I think that a lot of martial arts school owners need to understand that either you’re going to have the money to pay somebody to do that, or you’re going to have to learn it yourself. Learning it yourself really empowers you to make good decisions. I think one of the reasons is that there are also a lot of, for lack of a better word, a lot of bullshit in the industry, where people will portray a persona, or tell you about stuff that they’ve done, but they haven’t done it necessarily in that industry. They’ve done it in a different industry, and they’re trying to get you to do the same thing in this industry. It doesn’t necessarily always work.
The business aspect and the business models, yes, they may be the same, but what people are going there for are a little bit different. I think that one of the reasons why they haven’t picked it up is that they just don’t really know what to do. There are people out there that are telling them, “Hey, listen. You need to create content.” “Okay, well what kind of content?” “Well, you need to tell stories.” “Well, okay great. Well, what type of stories?” Getting up on Facebook live is good once in a while, but getting up there every day to just talk about your stuff or to tell people about your programs, or to tell people about your events, is not necessarily connecting. You need to figure out a way to connect. That’s something that we’ve done at Pixel Mobb, and that’s something we do at Dojo videos and Dojo [inaudible 00:12:58], know how to understand what the market wants, and connect emotionally and logically with visuals and video that are going to make somebody act.
I think that if a martial arts school owner can just wrap his head around a couple of simple concepts, they will be able to create videos that will really propel them forward. That’s the thing. I’ve actually been talking about this to a lot of martial arts school owners recently, is that I find that sometimes martial arts school owners, like all other entrepreneurs, are technique collectors or moves collectors. If you just know a punch and a kick, and don’t know the concept of how to move your body in and out to get into proper distance to utilize those kicks and punches effectively, you don’t really know anything except a technique. Then when something switches on you, you don’t know how to adjust. If they’re able to learn concepts over techniques, the techniques will fall into place.
Randy : Right. It seems like right now out in the martial arts industry, we have a culture of people who came up like me. The big deal in my day was yellow page ads, then we finally we would do newspaper ads. We used to do radio and television. We’re still, I think, got some of that in the back of our brain. We haven’t really understood this new revolution of what’s going on. Like you say, the online marketing video revolution is crazy, and you add to that the fact that it used to move from the regular desk computer, to the laptop, and now it’s gone from the laptop to the phone. Mobile is more than 50% of what’s going on out there. Whatever you do, whatever concepts you do have to work on a phone, have to work on the desktop, and it takes a little bit of guidance. As you said, it’s going to take some discipline to sit down and learn some of this stuff. It’s not rocket science.
You can do it, but it’s just like learning a form. You’ve got to take your time, sit down, and work your way through it. You’ve pulled out a couple of products. I know I bought your first one, the video authority. Man, that thing, that’s helped me so much. I bought all the equipment, we’re shooting videos, I feel like a superstar. I haven’t seen your new one, but I know it’s going to be great, and it’s almost free, so I have to pick that up here surely. As a marketer, and I know, Chris, that you’re coming from a place in your heart of really trying to help people. I know you personally. I know how you conduct yourself, and you really do want to help people. Where do you see your company going in the future? This can allow you to help us. When I say us, the martial arts profession, even more.
Chris: One of the things that, we’re not trying to do, we are doing, moving forward, is to really put together curriculums and trainings. I’m a big advocate of if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. I’m a big advocate of making people independent and self-reliant. I’ve always been independent and self-reliant. My mother will tell you that I’ve maybe been a little too independent and self-reliant over the years. I think that everybody has the ability to master a couple concepts and master certain things that will make their business exponentially grow. That’s what I feel that I’ve been put on this planet to do.
I’ve learned so many different tips and so many different talents, and strategies, and marketing tools, and have them at our disposal for us to use, that I feel that it’s my duty now to give back. I’ve learned all this stuff for the last decade. Now it’s time to grow past that and help make other people grow. Anybody who talks to me knows very well that I’ll sit on Facebook chat with you for an hour trying to figure something out, and I’m not even getting paid for it. It’s not about money with me. I know people say, “Oh well, we’re all in business to make money.” Yeah, of course I’m in business to make money. I want my company to be 100 million dollar company one day, but it’s more than that. I really believe in my heart, and these are values that I guess my grandfather has given me, and my father.
My father’s still in business. He’s 45 years old. He’s been in business 45 years. He would love to say that he’s 45 years old. He’s 74 this year. He works his business. He has his own business and he still works a side job. He has no quit in the future with it. He brings to the table this mentality of the mom and pop era of business, where you care about people on a personal level. Sure, you need offers, you need funnels, you need sales tactics, you need all of that. If you genuinely care, and I believe that guys like [Russel Bunsen 00:18:21], and even yourself Randy, if you give before you look to take, you’ll get. You’ll never have to worry about getting. There’s a lot of takers out there, and there’s a lot of guys that are out there. They’ll get up on stage and they’ll brag about themselves for two hours. No one on the planet is that good that you need to be talking about yourself for twenty minutes.
The one thing about martial arts, I feel like right now we’re at the precipice of change again. I think that originally it came from a mom and pop era. Then it got really commercial with certain franchises that came in for a while. Now I believe that it’s coming back full circle, where yeah it’s commercial, it’s mainstream now. It should be because it really transforms peoples’ lives, but at the forefront of that is every single person, every single owner, school, has a unique story and experience, that even if you use the same exact blueprint, say for instance that I was to show you to create videos. Your story would be completely different than my story, and then the guys down the block, because everybody has a unique perspective. The idea that we should get rid of the unique perspective was one that was pushed for many years in this industry for some reason. I think that that is the biggest unique selling point. Your USP is who you inherently are, and your values, and your morals.
What video does is puts all of that in peoples’ faces, so that they can make a decision. Those people resonate with me. I like them. Those people I’m not really cool with, I don’t want to go there. You’re going to attract and repel different types of people, and that’s what marketing’s supposed to do. When you’re in the middle and trying to be like everybody else, and using the same pitches that everybody else is using, and you’re running to the bottom by just promoting what you offer, what makes you any different? You become a commodity. If you become a commodity, there’s always going to be somebody else. There’s always going to be a Walmart out there that’s going to undersell you and put [inaudible 00:20:37] out of business.
Randy : Great. The race to the bottom never works.
Randy : Yep. I tell you, I sure appreciate your time today. Those are some tremendous insights for our readers. I hope they listen to this. I hope they understand the deeper meaning of it and the benefits of some of your lessons here. Let’s get this thing typed up, and we’ll get it, put you on the cover of the magazine, and get everybody a chance to listen to it. Mister Chris, I really want to thank you for your time today.
Chris: Thank you very much for having me here.
Chris Perilli is martial arts and businessman. His company DojoMuscle.com provides marketing support and video production courses for martial arts school owners: https://www.dojomuscle.com/