Recapping Don Faul Talking CrossFit’s Future on Jason Khalipa’s Podcast
Nearly six months into his role as CrossFit CEO, Don Faul sat down with Jason Khalipa on the Effort Over Everything podcast to discuss plans for the company moving forward, lessons learned since his tenure began, and more.
Faul, who has been an avid CrossFitter for about six years but earned his Level 1 Training Certification before assuming his leadership role in August, said that humility has been important to keep at the top of his mind. He admits that while he always tries his hardest, there are always other people by his side that can provide more knowledge. Also, humility has become a core value for the CrossFit HQ team, which Faul says is something they need to lead with.
- Faul: “(We) lead with humility, integrity, and principle. People and partners need to be confident in the brand they’re working with.”
Starting his first week as CEO at the CrossFit Games, Faul has been on a “listening tour” during which he’s gotten to hear from members of the community about what values and actions are important to them. After compiling this data, HQ has come up with a list of four deliverables they’re actively working towards.
- Driving Growth to Affiliates
Faul has spoken before about his goal of changing the misconceptions people view CrossFit with that can push people away from local gyms. First, Faul wants to change the idea that CrossFit is dangerous. Also, he plans to help make the sport work alongside affiliates, whereas it can sometimes turn potential athletes away because “CrossFit is only for the elite.”
- “I think about how we have a ton of people out there that (. . . )that could benefit from what we have to offer but think that CrossFit is dangerous or intimidating and it’s only for elite athletes, and (they) need to get in shape first,” Faul said. “When I think about our ability to attract those audiences and keep them, we have to make sure that the CrossFit brand is one that they want to associate with.”
Despite challenges going forward, Faul says that the potential for growth the company has is extremely invigorating. With an estimated two or three million participants now, Faul hopes to reach 30 million by 2030.
- Faul: “The biggest takeaway for me is the richness of the opportunity, the richness of the impact – I didn’t anticipate how incredible that was.”
- Supporting Affiliates and Coaches
One key way to bring more people into affiliates, Faul says, is by supporting owners and their coaches to give prospective clients the best possible experience. The team has a number of plans in the works, increased education (with a structure and pricing plan adapted to new goals) chiefly among them.
Faul says he was inspired by how many of the people involved in CrossFit do it because of a deep passion. This revelation that he’s working with very intrinsically motivated people, he says, drove him to workshop new continued education programs.
- Faul: “Every day, every week, how do we do a great job of helping these intrinsically motivated coaches and the affiliate owners that support them get better every single day?”
In addition, HQ has plans to support the autonomy of affiliate owners while simultaneously giving them extra tools, like the recently introduced content marketing kit, to boost their brand. Also, Faul says there is a plan in the works to give affiliates with higher-level coaching staff a higher place in internal search engines.
- Building a Strong Business
Internally, Faul and his team are working towards creating a version of HQ that works sustainably and successfully. He talked of changing tides and shifting the business model away from a startup survival mode that worked in the early 2000s to something of a much larger business.
Also, Faul is consciously working towards a healthier culture at HQ.
- “Shifting the culture of a brand that’s been around for two decades is hard but we’re gonna get there,” Faul said.
- Investing in the Culture
While this goes hand-in-hand with his other points, Faul says it’s the cornerstone of all operations going forward. This started at the Games, where the team made a very intentional decision to only broadcast media that featured everyday athletes in hopes of coming across as more accessible to potential athletes.
At the same time, he recognizes the Games as a valuable asset and wants to help elite athletes become ambassadors of the sport and methodology.
- “When we think about the role of the sport moving forward, it’ll continue to be essential for us,” Faul said. “I think of sport as this not-so-secret weapon that we have.”
Between growing the brand, supporting existing participants, and healing internal issues, CrossFit under Faul’s leadership has many (including Khalipa) optimistic about the future of CrossFit.
Go deeper: Lauren Kalil interviewed Faul last week on the Morning Chalk Up YouTube Channel to continue the conversation.