The benefits of my job as the head of F3’s Expansion effort are many. Trips to exotic destinations, a massive paycheck and the groupies … I could tell stories if I wasn’t sworn to secrecy…
But there is a downside to an otherwise tremendously rewarding position: I have to say no to people all the time.
The inquiries come in daily, by phone and email, through Twitter and the F3Nation.com website: Can you bring F3 to (INSERT TOWN HERE)?
I have at least a dozen conversations a week with members of the pax or interested Sad Clowns about planting F3 in new locations. If we responded to every request, we would launch at least three new cities and towns each week.
But we don’t do that. This spring, we will launch three new locations via Leap (Kirkland, Wash., San Mateo, Calif., and a second Dallas workout). Existing F3 regions are leading two additional “concentric expansion” efforts, in Hampton Roads and Roanoke, Va. Countless other regions are expanding within current territory.
When we plant new workouts, we do so with purpose and a plan. That’s a result of several years of trial and error around Expansion strategies. We’ve failed or fallen short of our goal on multiple occasions, but we’ve always learned from those failures.
One of the main lessons we’ve learned: a poorly executed plant is approximately four times harder to fix after the fact vs. what it would have taken to do it right in the first place.
So we’ve become really uptight about how we launch. We don’t hand you a copy of Freed to Lead and a Shovel Flag, point you to the “How To Count” video on the website and wish you luck – we insist on only launching in places where F3 men can lead the first three-to-six workouts and have an opportunity to teach the F3 culture to the pax in the new location.
This is how we made our longest LEAP thus far… the state of Washington took in a mustard seed, someone who was part of F3 in year one and a veteran of how we operate. And with the help of LEAP and expansion, he’s now making measured progress and has said he recognizes now he couldn’t have done on his own.
That can be frustrating for people eager to launch F3. They tell us that what we do looks pretty simple (it is!), so why should they have to wait for guys to get on a plane from Charlotte or Columbia or Winston-Salem to come teach them how to do this really simple thing that mainly seems to involve running around a parking lot in the dark and doing burpees?
It turns out that while F3 is really simple on the surface, there’s actually a lot of nuance to how and why we do things. Stuff that seems small – and maybe even disposable – to guys who don’t know any better. Stuff like the COT. Or the Backblast. Or why we work out rain or shine.
If a workout is going to bear the F3 name and be advertised on the website, we’ve decided that we need to teach guys all that nuance at the very beginning.
F3 has grown tremendously over the last five-plus years, and the Law of Large Numbers and the Power of the Emotional Headlock both tell us it will continue to pick up steam in the years ahead.
Here at Expansion HQ, we have some ideas about where we want to grow for strategic reasons and to expand our existing footprint.
And I know from experience that all of you have ideas about where we should grow. One inevitable byproduct of our growth is an increase in Mustard Seeds – members of the pax who relocate from an existing F3 location to a new town or city where F3 does not exist.
When we first encountered this phenomenon, we were sympathetic – we all know how hard it would not to have F3 in our lives on a daily basis – and encouraged men to plant F3 flags in their new locations.
But it turned out the Mustard Seed success rate was painfully low – less than 5 percent. (We used to say 0 percent, but we have one location that through ceaseless effort by one member of the pax is finally beginning to take hold.) The simple reality is that relocating – moving a family, starting a new job, finding a new neighborhood and home and social circle – is a huge burden for most guys. Pile on the task of starting F3 in a community where you are a newcomer and it’s a recipe for failure.
We’re constantly thinking about ways to solve this problem – we’d like nothing better than to send out an army of Mustard Seeds across the world to spread F3! But there is no magic answer.
So for now, we ask this: If you are relocating, please reach out to your Regional Nant’an and let him know where you’re headed and when. The Nant’ans will handle communicating with the Expansion team and discuss options for supporting a potential new site.
This allows the Expansion team to function as it should – as a clearinghouse for F3 launches and potential growth. Too many times, we learn after the fact of guys who have moved DR and are planning to launch a workout – or have even taken steps to do so – without checking to see what other plans might be in place or who else might be working on the same problem.
Our other main source of inquiries comes from visiting pax who live in cities that do not have F3. We get a ton of tweets and emails around this topic: Joe Smith was in town from Springfield this morning and workout with us. He’s all set to launch there – can we get a spot on the website?
Again, please forward these requests to your Regional Nant’an. They can serve as a filter for requested plants and help us get a grip on where we’re being asked to bring F3.
Finally, just a bit of reality – and a way for you to help us turn all those NOs into YESes.
We are an all-volunteer organization with exactly zero full-time employees – just a lot of pax who invest a lot of sweat equity (literally and figuratively) to grow this thing and put it in front of more men.
We have a budget for Expansion, but it is limited. Currently, most of our expansion budget comes from the Licensing revenue from the sale of F3 gear – an amount that totaled about $33,000 in 2015. Last year and this year, Area 51 has generously agreed to donate proceeds from their annual Golf Tournament. The F3 Foundation has in some cases issued grant money and many of you have generously donated as well. And Dredd and OBT’s royalties from the sale of all copies of Freed To Lead go into the Expansion account as well.
We have two main ways of planting F3 workouts in new cities and towns. The most commonly used is the Concentric Model (aka, the Columbia Model). This is for towns and cities that are within driving distance of an existing F3 location. These plants are sponsored by an existing Region, which sends pax to teach and lead workouts for six consecutive Saturdays. After that launch period, leadership is handed over to the new local pax and responsibility shifts to the planting Region to help the new location grow to Regional status. Successful examples of this type of expansion include Isotope planting Winston-Salem and Winston-Salem planting Greensboro, Raleigh planting Wilmington and Greenville, N.C., and Columbia planting workouts at every stop-lighted intersection in the Palmetto State.
The other way of planting is via Leap. In this case, F3 Nation sponsors the new location, which takes place in a location that is beyond driving distance of any current AO, and funds travel and other expenses associated with the new launch. A Launch Q is chosen and is responsible for managing the full process. We fly pax to the new city for three consecutive weekends. These pax lead the Saturday workout, then teach a Q School session.
Leaps are expensive. We reimburse for travel, per diem expenses, other launch costs and pay a modest stipend to members of the pax who sacrifice personal time to go DownRange (DR) and #GiveItAway.
They also require that we as leaders of F3 make choices and judgments about how best to spread the model. OBT and I weigh the merits of different cities and where F3’s dollars can have the greatest impact. So please understand that if we choose a Leap to Houston over one to Lake Saranac, New York, it’s not a value judgment on Houston vs. Lake Saranac (which we hear is lovely in February).
More importantly, even if we had all the money we could ever use (please donate that amount, if you’re so inclined), we do not have a quarter of the manpower we need.
We need you! For every Leap, we need pax who want to travel, pax who are good with technology, pax who are skilled at marketing or planning logistical operations. Even if your work and family life don’t give you the flexibility to travel, there are many ways you can participate! Some roles require a lot of time, others 1 to 2 hours a week at most. If giving F3 away to other men who have never heard of it is your Daffodil, we can almost certainly find a job that fits your Dolphin!
Please reach out to your Regional Nant’an and let him know you are interested in working with Expansion. Even if you are not sure what part you are interested in playing but you feel called reach out. I can find a spot and you WILL make a difference!