“I had to create this tribe of people that wanted to be together.”

Jim Worthington, owner of the Newtown Athletic Club, has a reputation that precedes him. Some know him from his colorful youth. Others know him from his passionate fundraising efforts for ALS. Others know him as one of the health club industry's most successful club owners.

Angela Giovine, Owner of Happenings Media and host of Extra/Ordinary Small Business podcast sat down at Jim's office inside the Newtown Athletic Club. And he got real. He shared some key moments in his career that pushed him forward on the road to success, the role mentorship has played in his life, what it takes to go from employee to owner, and how he pays it forward.

Below are some excerpts from Angela's 2019 interview with Jim Worthington. To listen to the entire interview, click HERE. It is Episode #3. 

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Angela Giovine:
So I'm very familiar with the Newtown Athletic Club and I know you are in a number of other businesses, but I want to go back to the beginning. You're in your 40th year of business at the Newtown Athletic Club. Go back to 1977, young Jim, Philadelphia native, you have an idea. What's the origin story?

Jim Worthington:
That's kind of scary. 1977 I was just getting out or starting my last year of college at West Chester. At that time, unemployment was high. I was going to get a teaching degree that spring of 78. And I had was sitting in a classroom with a group of 300 other people that had the same degree I had, Health and PE and a minor in Physiology. And I remember the professor got up and drew the number 2 on the chalkboard and asks us all what it meant. A handful of us came up with different explanations what the number 2 meant, but none of us had the correct answer. What it was, is that of the 300 people that were in that auditorium that day, only two were going to be getting jobs in the field that they studied. So that was kind of alarming that I had spent three years or three and a half years and the job prospects-

Angela Giovine:
It's a wake up call.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah, it didn't look good. So I had to start thinking about other things. My intention was to graduate the following spring in '78 and go back for a Master's in physical therapy. I was going to go to Duke. And that spring semester I picked up a part time job at a racquetball club called the Babylon Racquet Club in my hometown. I was commuting my last semester to West Chester, 40 minutes each way. And I started working there and by the end of that spring semester, I graduated. There was a manager at that club. It was you know, maybe six months old at the time. It was a new industry at that time – racquetball. These clubs just were starting up they – 

Angela Giovine:
And when you say racquetball, you mean just racquetball?

Jim Worthington:
Just racquetball. This was a a 10 court, racquetball club nothing else. But remember, this is pre fitness clubs as you know it now. I mean, it's even hard to compare to someone your age, that you know, this was like rotary telephones versus your iPhone now.

Jim Worthington:
So there was no such thing as health clubs. So I guess the girl that was running it at the time was not doing a good job. So the owner asked me if I was interested in in running it being the manager and I, heck, I was just out of school, 21 years-

Angela Giovine:
He just saw your work ethic.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah. You know what I think what happened was, he – Interesting story. He came in, I used to work the Sunday night shift. And he came in one night at about seven o'clock at night, and I was on the phone. And he didn't understand why I was on the phone. He just thought I was just talking to someone, you know, one of my friends, so on and so forth. So when I got done the conversation, he kind of started to chew me out a little bit. He says “You know, you know while you're on the phone. You're supposed to be, you know, working the desk here as well.” And I said, “Mr. Hefran, I was calling people on the phone that were members of the club and asked them if they wanted to come in and play racquetball this week”. He said, “Really?” And I said “Yeah, I mean, we have all these courts that are empty during the week and I thought-

Angela Giovine:
No one asked you to do that?

Jim Worthington:
Nobody asked me to do it.

Angela Giovine:
You just thought it was a good idea.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah, I was just sitting there with nothing to do. And I noticed that there was nobody playing. I thought, well heck, I can match people up with other people to get them to come in and play.

Angela Giovine:
That impressed him.

Jim Worthington:
That impressed him. So that stuck in his mind. And I guess he was having trouble with this girl who was managing it and he came up to me one day said, “Would you be interested in managing?” I said “Well frankly, I'm thinking of going back to school.” He said, “Well give me you know, a two year commitment. I'll pay you-” you know, I can't remember what it was. I think it was like $15,000. To me that's like $100,000 at the time, and he gave me a shot to run it. So that was my first. It was in my hometown and a lot of my family and friends and people I grew up with were members. And it was awesome. So I ran that for a couple three years.

Another story – where I got hired by the Newtown Racquetball Club. I was running this team match at the Babylon Club on a Saturday, and this is where other clubs came to play against your club in a racquetball tournament, and the Newtown team was coming in that weekend. And they came in and they were all supposed to pay, they would go down to the court, and then they match up against our guys and women on our courts, and they were going to play in a match. Well, I hadn't collected all the money from everybody, one person hadn't paid. So I, I stopped the matches before they began. And I went to the top of each court and I yelled out “Look, somebody didn't pay! And until the Newtown member that didn't pay comes up and pays we're not starting!”

Angela Giovine:
Wow.

Jim Worthington:
Well, after about five minutes, the guy that didn't pay, did come up and pay. Well, at the end of that match, unbeknownst to me, a lady by the name of Dottie Mentor came up to me and she introduced herself and she says “Look you know, I'm the owner of the Newtown Racquetball Club along with my husband and a few other people. I was really impressed by the fact that you wouldn't let the match go on-“

Angela Giovine:
Right, and you did it in the professional way.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah. And she said, “My managers, which we've had, we're on our sixth one in our third year, they wouldn't even have cared about the money. In fact, they would have been down there playing and wouldn't even care that was collected. Would you be willing to talk to my husband, Charlie, sometime next week?”

Jim continued on to explain how he did talk to Charlie, and ended up working with his manager for about 6 months. After that time, Jim told Charlie that he had to do something different. It just wasn't working. Charlie ended up making him an offer to come to work with them, and Jim agreed to give him a 2-year commitment. After that, he was going back to school.

Jim Worthington:
I went to work for these guys. They were a 11 court racquetball club, 15,000 square feet, three acres, a few hundred members, probably doing $700,000 a year in sales.

There was four partners at the time. By the end of the second year, when I told him I was going to leave, they said, “We don't want you to leave. We have a partner that was a former manager too, who is an educator. We're interested in your taking his spot. He needs the money. He wants to get out. We all originally put in $40,000.”

Angela Giovine:
Also he was a partner.

Jim Worthington:
He was a partner.

Angela Giovine:
Okay.

Jim Worthington:
But they they were losing money when I got there. So they've got to keep kicking money in.

Angela Giovine:
I see.

Jim Worthington:
When I came, I stabilized it and started to make money, but he still wanted to get out. The other three guys were pretty wealthy guys, Wall Street guys.

Angela Giovine:
They could take the flounder.

Jim Worthington:
They could do it, but this guy couldn't and I think he had just had enough. They said, “Well, he's interested in getting out. Would you take his spot?” I said, “Well, yeah, I don't have 40,000 bucks.”

They said, “Well, we'll go-“

Angela Giovine:
How old are you at that time?

Jim Worthington:
Heck, I was 20…4? I guess at that point when it was 26 when I became a partner, or when they offer me the partnership. So I said, “Look, I can't swing that.” And they said, “We'll let you pay it out over, you know, three or four years. We'll just take it from your bonuses that you would get.” So that's how I became a partner.

Since the other owners had full-time jobs, they weren't there to see what was going on. The first few weeks as a partner, Jim cleaned house. He got rid of all of the employees that weren't cutting it. And as he fired people, he'd work their shift. And while he was working that shift, he'd interview to replace that position. At one point, he even cut back the janitorial staff. Instead of cleaning the building 7 days a week, they did 5, and he did the weekends.

Jim Worthington:
So I started cleaning on Saturday and Sunday at five in the morning. We would open up at eight. So I would clean the building on both those days. That saved the payroll I also got a better understanding what it took to clean and I then backed into what they were charging me Monday through Friday figured out I was getting overcharged because it was taking me a few hours to do it.

You know, if I was employing the people myself, I would be saving like a third you know, two thirds of what they were charging me. Eventually got rid of the cleaning staff, hired my own people that did it. And then kind of the byproduct of that, I started my own janitorial company.

He started cleaning buildings in the industrial park while running the racquetball club. About 3 years later, at just 28 years old, he sold his first company.

Jim Worthington:
It was called JNW Janitorial Service. And at those times, it was big money. I sold it for $300,000 which would today would be like a million and a half.

He had to make a decision. Did he want to stay in the health club industry or get out of that and grow the janitorial business. He made the call to stick with the health club. And after the sale of the janitorial business, he was secure financially. But he wanted more.

Jim Worthington:
But I still wasn't happy. And my partners were Wall Street guys and that back in those days, that was a very sexy-

Angela Giovine:
Oh sure.

Jim Worthington:
This is Michael Milken

Angela Giovine:
Wolf of Wall Street times.

Jim Worthington:
You got it. Big big money, big money was going on. And I saw them commuting to New York or him Charlie commuting to New York and you know, business suit every day and I was running around in gym shorts and I kept saying him you know Charlie, you know nothing for nothing but I'm running around in short shorts. I don't feel like this is you know, that my career path so on and so forth. I mean, so when I was about 28 he he left Merrill Lynch to start his own money management firm called Comstock Partners. And it was only a small office. Six, seven people, plus the three partners. But he was having trouble again managing the people because that's what they weren't good at. They were more Wall Street people but they weren't like Main Street people-

Turns out, they needed Jim's help again. So he started managing on Wall Street.

Jim Worthington:
and what I found out these high level people were no different than the people that work at my club. They were just as you know, they needed to be supervised and held accountable just as much the only difference they were making hundreds of thousands of dollars. My goal when I first started out is I wanted to be this Wall Street guy. Well, I worked there for three years and I was so frustrated and saw, I mean everything that Wolf of Wall Street on that, that all that stuff's true. It was like fraud on Wall Street. And it was really ridiculous what people were getting paid. And even myself. And I was never more unhappy in my life because I felt like I wasn't really contributing or doing anything for the good of the cause. So I told my partner that I was leaving.  I want to go back. It just wasn't about the money-

And so he came back to Newtown and focused on growing that business. They went from 3 acres, to 6, to 10. And then 25 acres. Angela and Jim sat in his office, on the original location of the Newtown Racquetball Club. It started out as 15,000 square feet and they're now at around 250,000 square feet. And it's so much more than just a racquetball club.

Angela Giovine:
Obviously a big turning point for you was the move from only racquetball to like you said, the aerobics and wellness and exercise industry. Tell me about that switch.

Jim Worthington:
So what happened was a game changer for me, which was the biggest thing that ever happened for me personally. And also this growth. It was it wasn't like I just woke up one day and I just this all popped into my head, but when I did get interviewed here in May of 81, when I first came, they asked me what the long term vision for here was? And I said “A country club without a golf course.” In fact, over on my wall, there is the article that, that I said that back in May of 81. And that was like, that would be likes saying-

Angela Giovine:
That was your vision.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah, I didn't know exactly what that meant, but I did know that, there was going to be more to it than raquetball. I knew that weights and fitness and, you know, aerobics, dancing back in those days was gonna be a part of it. What shape it was going to take 10, 15, 20, 30 years later, I wasn't quite sure. But I knew it was going to be something more substantial.

Jim continued on to explain how the racquetball fad was starting to die out. He went to a convention for IRSA (International Racquet Sports Association), which he later joined. And everyone was having the same problems. Businesses were closing. He knew he had to do something. He had to maximize the revenue per square footage, and racquetball wasn't doing that. He could put two people playing racquetball on 800 feet, or he could put 20 people doing an exercise in that same space. Another big change was switching to monthly dues. Before then, people just paid an annual fee.

Jim Worthington:
So it was killing this industry, particularly the racquetball business was, you would be busy in the winter when the weather was bad, but in the summer time you weren't bringing any money. So what what you had to do is you had to get a steady flow of income. So we went to a monthly dues structure and then we started back in those days we would say we debit your checking account. So we started to get a more continual cash flow and then you know, you could see that every new member you brought in put to the bottom line. Once you got over a certain amount of your expenses covered.

Angela Giovine:
Right.

Jim Worthington:
So that that was a huge game changer for industry. Again, I learned that through Irsa ironically, here I am in my 40th year in the industry, 40th year with this club. And this year I'm the chair of the of the global largest global trade association the world – IRSA.

Angela Giovine:
You grew with them, they grew with you.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah, and you know it was a pretty big honor. But I mean if it wasn't for me going to that convention, I'm not sure that we would even be here in this form. That was a game changer.

These days, fitness centers are everywhere. And especially in the past 10 years, a lot of low price clubs have opened where they basically just give you a facility and the equipment. But what Jim and the Newtown Athletic Club provides is different. It's customer service. A lifestyle. Hospitality.

Jim Worthington:
Yes, it's more like the hospitality industry in that it stayed the same because even when I didn't have a lot of members – When it was just racquetball only, I had to get people to participate in play. So I had to create this tribe of people that wanted to be together. So you had to have racquetball leagues and tournaments, and so on and so forth. Well, when I started converting those courts, then you have the tribe of people that work out. So you've got to get them, you know, introduced to each other,

Angela Giovine:
Sure.

Jim Worthington:
know each other.

Angela Giovine:
You were cultivating a lifestyle.

Jim Worthington:
And a family of people.

Because of their higher price point, the expectations of Members of the NAC are higher. One of the ways Jim meets those expectations is by focusing his energy on one location. He's had a few other clubs here and there, but without being able to be there all the time, they just didn't work out. On the plus side, that's what got him into real estate, which probably makes up for about 70% of what he does.

Jim clarified that it wasn't so much that he didn't trust the people working in the other locations. But he had promised himself that he'd never be that boss that took all the glory without being there. The ones that are there day to day, they're the heroes.

That doesn't mean that he keeps his opinions to himself though …

Angela Giovine:
Is that hard for you? Because we talked earlier about how you literally have done every job in this building. And I can imagine as a business owner myself, sometimes you feel like I can do this better than everybody else. How do you restrain yourself I guess to help people?

Jim Worthington:
I don't restrain myself.

So what so what what happens when it comes to interactions with the employees when I'm out and about and working out and so on and so forth I let them know. When I'm out, now I'm not out of the office that much, but when I'm out of the office particularly in the fitness center which I use every day, so poor Brittany who runs the fitness center downstairs, she has to hear me every day. I was just out at the pool before we sat down to do this talk. I was spending some time with the manager on duty out there saying you need to look for this this this this and this where I draw the line is I don't go to the members-

Angela Giovine:
To the customers.

Jim Worthington:
– to the customers. So I will tell the managers what need to be done and things I've seen. You know I pulled in today and I saw you know I pull in the driveway and I see like five different things that are you know, right away and on the phone to my son he's the facilities manager jack is jack you need to do this, this this this this. And by the way, I when I pulled up three or employees were standing in the parking lot, just talking and then when I told him to get going, 2 of them hopped in a truck and I had to stop the trucks and where are you going? You don't need two to people to go to deliver something you only need one

And then he explained to me so then he explains to me he goes “Well they're going to take scrap metal back to the the scrap place.” I said, “Jack, think about this, business 101, you're going to get $70 for the scrap by the time they get back. It's gonna cost you $45 in their hourly thing. It's your salary. You should be taking that.”

It's the little things like that where Jim's an expert. Managing the numbers, managing the payroll. Paying your people well, but not overstaffing. Instead of having too many employees, you just teach your employees to be the most productive they can be. To work smart.

Angela Giovine:
All the little things add up.

Jim Worthington:
For sure. So we've been able to keep our higher level employees for years because I've been able to compensate them, incentivize them, pay them well, but also find ways to control the payroll so that I don't waste money.

Another way Jim has been able to grow such a successful business is by focusing on what the customer wants and growing with them. By doing this, you create a business that can withstand the test of time.

Jim Worthington:
And so when these people were racquetball players, and then they got married, I knew they needed babysitting and then they needed kids programs. And then-

Angela Giovine:
So for you, it wasn't about specific passion around a certain business type. It was you always had your mind on a specific customer set.

Jim Worthington:
Yeah, I was just growing-

Angela Giovine:
How am I going to serve this customers?

Jim Worthington:
Yup.

That's how he's made all of his changes. Instinct, staying ahead of the curve, and always going just beyond people's expectations. The outdoor pool area is a perfect example. When it was being built, a lot of people (especially seniors) couldn't believe he was doing it.

Angela Giovine:
And to pause, the pool that we are talking about is a five star luxury hotel resort type pool. That is unheard of really for Athletic Clubs, has adult pool, hot tubs, full slides, full bar waitstaff it's quite unbeliev-

Jim Worthington:
It's almost like a resort and a health club. So yeah, it's very, very it's really the first decline in the industry. I was the first of its kind in industry to do that. But yeah, I mean, was the my vision so remap, imagine this is my vision. I'm going to do this. I know what you just described in my head, and I'm telling these people that are my age 60, 65, 70 years.

Angela Giovine:
That you're going to do it.

Jim Worthington:
I'm going to do it and they're saying, “No, we're going to quit. We're going to leave” and I'm there like, “Look, do me a favor, you've so many people have been with me 30 some years. Right now, I should have earned your trust. I mean, this is going to be beyond your expectation. You're going to love this.” When it was all said and done, guess who most of the people that go outside are? It's the 5,0 60, 70. They're out there morning, noon and night. They love it. this is their home away from home. This is their resort. This is their country club without a golf course. And to their credit, they've come back to me and said, “Hey, you were right. This is amazing.”

And he's not afraid of change …

Angela Giovine:
One thing that is a theme that I'm hearing with you is throughout your entire career, you've never been afraid to change, whether that be technology, completely appending a space, changing your career completely going into new lines of business, often with small businesses, people are afraid of change. What gives you I guess, the courage to change or what keeps you wanting to change?

Jim Worthington:
Well, I mean, for me, it's simple. Money is not my motivation. It's funny when when people think of business people, they think that that's really that that's all they're driven for. It's never been, I'm willing to take a chance because I have no problem going back to zero and starting over. And I don't mean necessarily going out of business. But I mean, if for some reason that my vision doesn't work, and the profits are less … I mean I can survive off whatever it is.

Angela Giovine:
Right.

Jim Worthington:
I mean, I don't don't get me wrong, I think things have gone very, very well. But if you took it away tomorrow, I'd still be the same guy. I work out in the gym every morning, you know, two hours and, you know, I try my best to be the best I could be. And because you really get in once in life, you get one shot to make a difference. And I think what's cool about the NAC, it's almost been like a test lab for the industry because we get a million visitations here. Like in the last couple, three months, we've had at least 40 club owners from around the world come to visit to see what we do. And I'm all about sharing and growing industry.

He's also not afraid to share. While many small businesses are scared to share their knowledge, Jim welcomes it. He knows that he wouldn't be where he is today if it weren't for the people that shared with him and gave him these big chances over the years.

Jim Worthington:
And they bought my vision and gave me the opportunity. So for me, every time I get the opportunity to share with other club operators or you know other people, even other like I got this friend of mine who's 21 years old. His name is Brandon Lee. Two years ago he was cleaning for me. I said him “Brandon, you know what's your plan?” He said “Well I don't really know”. I said “Why did you get into cleaning business?” I said “I do used to do that”. I set him up, got him a couple accounts, my buildings couple buildings I have, you know here we are 2 years later, the kid's going to make 100 grand this year. 

Yeah, so I mean like, I feel as good about that as if it was my own.

His sharing doesn't end there. Jim Worthington has helped to raise millions of dollars for ALS. The passion to give has been part of his life since he was a kid, something he learned from his parents.

Jim Worthington:
Frankly, it's been part of my life since I was a kid. And I learned it from my parents.

When I go out of college, I was very active in my local high school. I coached football and some other things and some years later, few years later I founded my high school alumni association. In fact, I own my own high school. I mean really, I own it. It's a 501 C3. I own it. It's the half of Horsham Alumni Association and the school doesn't even have it and it's mine, because I knew I was going to raise a lot of money, and I didn't want something to happen where somewhere down the road something happened to me, and you know somebody came in to the side they'd give all the money to the football team or the band, it's designated just for kids scholarship. I also founded their educational foundation-

According to Jim, he realized when he went to college that he wasn't as nice as he should have been in high school. While some people might have this realization and just move on with their life, Jim wanted to do something about it. He wanted to give back to the place that he knew had given him the foundation, the worth ethic for so much that came after.

Jim Worthington:
And I always felt that it was time for me to give back so now, it's the one of the largest public school endowments in the state of Pennsylvania. I've got $750 000 in an account. The interest and dividends thrown off each year, I award to 68 kids at my high school. I even since started one in memory of my mother.

He's carried that passion to give over to the NAC, offering financial assistance plans. According to him, “No one ever gets turned away here based on financial means.” But one of the causes he's most dedicated to is ALS and his work on the Right to Try Act.

Jim Worthington:
It's been that way for 20 years. But we've raised here, you know tens of millions of dollars for charity through donning our facilites, membership for free, raising money. It's just been recently in the last 4 years or so that we really started to leverage our initiative because we took this guy Matt Belina, who has ALS, and we made him the local face of our ALS mission – Matt's mission. One of the things I did, was a choice I made. I got involved in the political world 3 years ago. And a lot of people don't understand why, but I got involved in it because it was a good opportunity to advance the causes that we were trying to get done. Which was the right to try, which is the bill that got signed by the president a few months ago where terminally ill people have the right to try experimental drugs. So I'm really an advocate, Lin and I, Linda Mitchell who does like 90% of all the work and I 100% of the credit, we've expanded our work to advocacy so now when we do raise money for good causes, now were trying to change the world by getting good legislation pass.

Angela Giovine:
Would you say that those accomplishments, where do they rank on your meter?

Jim Worthington:
They'll be nothing remotely close to that, that I can think. You're talking about helping people that you know are experiencing the option of life or death. As I'm going through this bill trying to get it pass which we got we got involved 2 years ago. Now remember this was for 18 years trying to get done. We got involved my sister got pancreatic cancer about a year ago. Well you know so she was given the death sentence, terminally ill.

While the bill was passed, it was too late for Jim's sister.

Jim Worthington:
By the time it got passed, and signed by the president on a Wednesday in June. The next day coming back from Washington, I got the news from my nephew, her son that she went in the hospice. It was too late for her. She died two weeks later.

Angela Giovine:
Why do you think you were able to get it done? I mean other than picking a team.

Jim Worthington:
We stomped for him, we worked for him, he didn't even know what the right try was until he came to the rally here. If if Donald Trump wasn't a nominee, it would whoever would have been, was if they need to come to Bucks County, if they came here they were going to need to talk to us about the right to try. I don't care if it was Hillary. If you come here, I'll host you. We need to talk to you about the right to try.

So he was the nominee. He came, they said he was going to come, we said “Fine, we want 20 minutes with him or it can't happen. He gave us 20 minutes, Matt Belina, myself and Linda talk to him, we explained to him what the right to try was, didn't know what it was, 2 years later he sign in the law. So I mean
were a grass roots of regular people walking the halls of congress. These 4 families Frank Mongealo, Matt Belina, Tricket windler's family and Laura Mcleaner and little son Jordan. And we just got in there and just talked to every single person and before you know it, we got it passed in the Senate and the House. And the President signed it. But it took 2 years and so many lives were lost during that time period.

Angela Giovine:
Right, and you could have easily said, this is never going to happen, it's been forever, I'm going to give up.

Jim Worthington:
We never got that point because Matt Belina, he was here and I said to him 2 years ago because I knew his time was limited when I said “Matt, you got ALS you got 3 to 5 years to live, 90% of the people die.” Right here in this office were sitting right now.

Angela Giovine:
Right.

Jim Worthington:
He's sitting right where you sit at that time sitting, he walked in.

Angela Giovine:
Right and now he's in wheel chair.

Jim Worthington:
He came with his arms and legs,

Angela Giovine:
Right.

Jim Worthington:
– he can't feed himself, he can't he can't scratch his nose, so I said to him, “Matt, we need to do something else. Do you want to go to another county? What is it do you want to do? You know to get access to drug.” He said, “Well there's a bill called the Right to Try.” I go “What is that?” He goes, “It would allow me as an American to try experimental drugs.” I was naive. I said “Well let's let's do it. Let's get it done.” Before you know it, we were we were advocates for the Right to Try through my foundation Have A Heart.

Angela ends every interview by asking two questions …

Angela Giovine:
Finish this sentence. I wouldn't be standing here today, if not for.

Jim Worthington:
Three things: 1, my parents, 2, was IRSA, the organization I mentioned earlier. And 3 would be my partners. Early on, Charlie Mentor who hired me, because he didn't need to hire me. So for sure, in terms of giving me an opportunity. Other than my dad, no one did anything more for me than he did. And along with that, my two partners Howard and Peter that like supported my vision forever.

Jim pointed out that this last expansion was the final straw for Howard and Peter. They were at an age where they were winding down. They asked to be bought out, and Jim did it.

Jim Worthington:
But they by the way, they were dead right. My partners are right. What we're doing now makes no financial sense.

Angela Giovine:
This is your legacy.

Jim Worthington:
This is- right. And also they were winding down because they got families

Angela Giovine:
Right.

Jim Worthington:
And they had to winding down their estates. Made all the sense in the world for them and for me, because of what I said earlier it's not about the money, it makes sense for me. My partners were dead right, they this this makes no this makes no financial stance but at the end of the day, we're going to have a club that's going to be just one of the top in the world. I mean already is but it's going to be done in the next 2 years there will be nothing like in the global fitness industry.

And the second question …

Angela Giovine:
What's one piece of advice you would give your 18 year old self?

Jim Worthington:
You know at that, I had just started my freshman year in college at West Chester and that it was you know basically time to grow up. I barely. I mean high school I was 300 out of 350 my class rank. I was terrible. I just goofed around. And that it was time to buckle down. 

Jim Worthington:
Now at 21, I'll tell you real quick because it's a life changer for me. That same story I told you earlier about the professor drawing a number 2 on the board knowing that only 2 people are going to get a job out of 300. So knowing that, I started taking real estate classes that semester. Spring semester, 2 weekends in a row in Lansdale. So I came back from West Chester, we go home, get up Saturday and Sunday morning go to this real estate class in Lansdale from 8 to 5. And I remember the first class I got to is 8 AM in the morning. There were like 40 people there and I was the youngest one there. And the guy that was in the front- he goes, “I want to ask everybody here why they're here.” So he went around the room, everybody had a really good reason for being there. He asked me I said “Look you know, I'm going to graduate from college and looks like there's no jobs in my, in Health and PE.” So everybody answers and he looks up and says “Look everybody here, has a great reason for being here but most of you won't work out.” And he goes, “And I'll tell you who's going to make it and who won't make it.” And he goes, “The people that make it will live by this motto.” He said, “Successful people do, what unsuccessful people could do but choose not to do.” I just say “Successful people do, what unsuccessful people could do but don't do.” Fact they got it up on my wall here.

Yeah, so I was 21 years old and for some reason that hit home. So I live by that motto and you're going to say this is bullshit but I'm going to tell you it's true.

What you've read here are excerpts from Episode #3 of Extra/Ordinary Small Business Podcast. In the full interview, Jim shares more details about his family growing up, real-life stories of managing a business, mentors that helped him along the way, and more.

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For more information about the Extra/Ordinary Small Business Podcast, please head to extraordinarysmallbusiness.com

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