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How to Let the Universe Guide You

How to Let the Universe Guide You

Title: "How To Let the Universe Guide You" with Photos of Eric Levine and Karla Nelson

Why would you willingly go from earning $4K per month to $60 per month?…to learn how to grow your business to $100M+.

Eric Levine is a world-class expert in all aspects of the fitness industry. He is the father of the Asian fitness industry.  His vision brought California Fitness to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.  In 3 years, he grew from $0 to $100M, launching during a pandemic.

Website: http://ericlevineglobal.com/

LinkedIn: Eric Levine

Some Favorite Books: “The Power of Full Engagement”  “Psycho-Cybernetics”

Listen to the podcast here:

Read Along as Karla and Eric Discuss His Journey and Letting the Universe Guide You

Karla Nelson:  Welcome to the People Catalysts Podcast, Eric Levine.

Eric Levine:  Thank you for having me, Karla. Thank you.

Karla Nelson:  I’m super excited about having you on the show, Eric. You have such an incredible history entrepreneurially and so many fun stories. I can’t wait to share it with our listeners. I’d like to start out just by asking, how did your entrepreneurial journey start? Everybody has this entrepreneurial story and I’m sure yours is quite interesting just like everybody’s.

Eric Levine:  I think I was born with… My father was a businessman. I remember the first day he started throwing money, like playing with me with the coins. We’re going to go to the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. It was the Stanley Cup playoffs. We were going to go and he started for… I said, “What if I want to buy a shirt?” He started throwing some coins at me and some dollars and I said, “This is fun. I can buy something with this money.” He was always there to teach me about how to make money, how to use the money properly. I think it came from my father and my brother also. He had a casino going when he was 11 on his skateboard. He would have an over and under game. He take all the change from all of our neighbors. That was pretty cool as well. My family started me off, I would say.

Karla Nelson:  It’s just in your blood there. I know your background has primarily been in the fitness industry. How did you hone in on the type of industry that you wanted to… Start your entrepreneurial journey? Although if you’re doing that at 11, you probably had even an earlier entrepreneurial journey before the fitness industry. Were you passionate about it? Or how did you get there?

Eric Levine:  Again, my father was a professional athlete and also a bodybuilder. In Montreal, Ben and Joe Weider were members of the synagogue that we went to. They’re actually the founders of the whole bodybuilding thing, the Weider Company, that muscle and fitness magazine. My dad used to take me every weekend to the gym, even when I was five years old. I loved muscles. I even loved the smell of chlorine at that time. It’s interesting, I’ll tell you. I worked in the spas when I was 16 and 17. Monday, Wednesday and Friday were women. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday were men. Men and women never worked out together at that time. My whole training was, “Do you have a blue shirt?” I said, “Yeah.” “Do you have running shoes?” I said, “Yeah.” They said, “You’re hired.” That was my training at that time. To give you reference, a Corvette was $5,000 at the time.

Karla Nelson:  Well, you are looking good. Working out’s done you well there, Eric.

Eric Levine:  I started in this club. Within a week the manager said, “What are you doing when you’re showing people around?” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because everybody buys a membership after you do that.” I said, “That’s what you want. Right?” “Why don’t you start selling?” Make a long story short, I’m not even 17 yet. I become the top sales person in the 12 club chain. Then I became a manager right near my house at the new club. I was making $4,000 a month in 1972. Remember, a Corvette is five and I’m on top of the world. I love it. I’m meeting new people and making this kind of money. I’m telling you this story, because there’s a funny story.

Karla Nelson:  No. I love it. I love it. I love some people think, it’s not possible. But you found something you’re passionate about. You like the smell of chlorine. You’re walking around completely passionate and selling to people because that’s what you… You love it. It’s not a yucky sale at that point. It’s something you feel passionate about. You wanted them to work out and you want to be healthy and they saw your enthusiasm for it. That’s likely why you did so well, because it wasn’t… Anytime you’re in sales, as long as you’re passionate about the product itself. Don’t sell something you don’t believe in.

Eric Levine:  That’s right. Passion is the key. I never sold anything. I’ll go to that in a minute. The funny segue… I’m making that kind of money. I’m in the fitness industry. My dad’s bragging to everybody about me. I’m making more money than doctors, lawyers, than him. I get a job, get this. I see the cover of Newsweek Magazine. This beautiful girl, Christie Brinkley style and it says, Club Med G.Os: The True Gypsies of the World. Actually, my ex-girlfriend’s mother gave me that magazine, which she wanted me to go. When I finished reading that magazine, it just blew my mind. I decided to apply to Club Med and I got the job.

Eric Levine:  I was supposed to go to Martinique in the French West Indies April 15th. I go to my father, a Jewish businessman, who knows how much money I’m making, and I say, “Dad, I’m going to Martinique.” He said, “What’s a Martinique?” I said, “It’s an island in the French West Indies above Venezuela.” He says, “How long?” I said, “No, no. I’m going to live there and work there.” He said, “Well, what are you going to do there?” I said, “I’m going to be a G.O for Club Med.” Naturally his next question was, “Well, how much money are you going to make?” I looked him in the eyes and I said to him, “$60 a month.”

Karla Nelson:  What’d he say?

Eric Levine:  He didn’t hear it. It was too far out for him to acknowledge it. He asked me that questions again.

Karla Nelson:  He was like, “Son, what are you thinking?”

Eric Levine:  Again, he asked me the same question again I said the same answer and again, no response. He just quietly left the room. That was another step in my journey. I left the fitness industry for a while. I went to work for Club Med which, if you know about it, at that time it was the wildest place on earth. Every six months you would go to a different part around the world. I learned branding, marketing, the experience you get. The rooms were terrible. The food was okay the first day or two then, everyone is-

Karla Nelson:  They gave you the same thing every single day.

Eric Levine:  It was so much the same like that, Karla. On the last day of every week, I would cut a hole in the buffet table, stick my head through it, color mayonnaise, everything, pickles and carrots and people would come and take the vegetables from my neck. I’d say that’s mine.

Karla Nelson:  That’s funny.

Eric Levine:  I learned about creating an experience, not about a facet but the overall experience. When people left in the parking lot, they were in tears. They weren’t going to get on that bus for anything. Doctors would stop their practice to stay on the scuba boat, to be a scuba diving doctor for $60 a month. They created this movement. It was a cult. It was more than a brand. Thousands of people wanted my job. When I went to New York, it was a frenzy. Everybody wanted to work for $60 a month at Club Med. The rooms were mediocre. The people that they hired, we were a hundred of us strong in each location plus the locals. Everyone was an adventurer. Everybody had such love for what they were doing that collectively… It was the antidote to civilization. That was their motto.

I learned the whole gambit about… In the laws that we practiced, about giving much more value. We change people’s lives. In that week or two, they became a child again. They became free again. They became happy again. There’s no price on that. I took that, what I learned in four years there, right into my fitness business. You walked into any of my clubs besides the… You know this was before Walkmans. The music was Led Zeppelin at a concert level. It was a party. The people that I hired, I tried to make Club Med into my fitness. No one was boring. No one was dull. Everybody was passionate. It worked the same way as Club Med did because people would look so forward to escaping from wherever they’re coming and having that time where they could be themselves, be the best version of themselves and actually improve their life while having the best time of their life.

That’s been my motto to this day, 40 years later. Whatever it is I’m doing, I want to make that experience. Whether I’m telling a joke, whether you’re coming for dinner, whatever it is, I want to inject you with that excitement. It’s so addictive. The team thrives because they get that. They get that. They wear it. They looked forward to it. They’re proud of it. They don’t stop. It’s not like I’m leaving. They never leave, it’s part of their life.

Karla Nelson:  I love it. And there’s something about… You have to have a team and you have to have this culture and being able to build that is… Guess what? If that’s not your passion, you better find somebody on your team that that is their passion. You grew… What was 24 Hour Fitness, I believe, right? To-

Eric Levine:  I’ll give you another quick little tidbit. I was an actor and let’s say, I wasn’t doing that great. When I left Club Med… It’s funny because the Chef de Village, the head guy said “Listen, Eric. You got to leave because if you don’t leave this season, you’re never leaving.” He was 50 years old and he’d been there for 30 years. But he knew. He said, “Like Peter Pan you better leave this season.” And I said, “Where should I go?” He said, “Go to Venice Beach. It’s like a halfway house between reality.”-

Karla Nelson:  A halfway house for Club Med. That’s funny right there.

Eric Levine:  I went to Venice Beach and I was a child actor. I tried to re-establish. To make a long story short, I wasn’t doing well. I was a stripper with Chippendales in the Beefcake Review. I was a waiter. Nothing was really what I wanted. I had a part in a film that got canceled. I walked from Sunset Boulevard from my agent’s all the way to Venice Beach in the pouring rain. I said, “Okay. I get it. It’s not supposed to be. That’s not supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be an actor. That’s not my calling.” I took my boots off. I was soaking wet. It was raining all day. I said to the universe, “Show me something, because I don’t know what to do. I was always thinking I was going to be an actor.” I fall asleep in a stupor, like my life is over and whatever.

I was working out at Gold’s Gym, the muscle man, the bodybuilding. It was a couple of blocks from where I lived. I go there with my head down, like, “Oh my God. I don’t even know if I can pay my month’s dues here, 30 bucks. What am I going to do?” I’m standing at the front desk. At the time Schwarzenegger was there, Lou Ferrigno, it was Jurassic Park. The only girls that were there were more dangerous than the men. These ladies were tough. This beautiful girl walks in and she says to me, thinking that I worked there, she said, “Oh, will someone show me what to do?” I looked at her. I said, “Excuse me?” “Oh yeah. I’d like to learn how to work out.” I said, “Here?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Do you see what’s behind here? Does this not frighten you?” She says, “No. I think it could be cool.” I said, “So you think you could work out here and enjoy yourself?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Would you bring your friends?” She said, “Yeah, I would.”

The lights went off because there was only one Gold’s Gym at the time, that one. I went directly to the owner, who is my friend, and I said, “I want to buy your name.” It’s very funny story. His name was Pete Grymkowski, Mr. Universe, gorgeous. He wasn’t a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he wasn’t a scientist. I said, “Pete, I want to buy your name.” And he says, “What do you want to buy Pete for?” I said, “Not Pete. I going to buy Gold’s Gym.”

Karla Nelson:  He really said that? That’s hilarious.

Eric Levine:  I had $10,000 saved up, which I was prepared to pay him. I dropped it down to $2,500. When he said that I said, “No, not Pete. The logo, the name.” To make a long story short, I bought the name and I opened up my first club in Toronto. That’s how I started my entrepreneurship in the fitness industry. That was the beginning of the different companies that I started and I worked with. That’s how funny it started.

Karla Nelson:  That is a great story. Isn’t it interesting though, sometimes you got that little thing tapping on your shoulder and it’s like, wait a second, I’m passionate about working out, everyone likes it here, I could combine the girls and the guys together. Now you just increased your market potential.

Eric Levine:  Learning for drivers. My personality, I’m a driver-

Karla Nelson:  I am too.

Eric Levine:  For your driver. For me, the hardest thing to learn is, when it’s not happening. Because I don’t give up, I’m not. You’re not going to give up. Sometimes to be sensitive to the fact that there’s another path here and let the universe guide you, surrender at least enough to say, show me, because the doors aren’t opening. It’s not flowing, I’m not meeting, I’m not doing, I’m not in the flow, it stopped. To be able to learn that, which I still don’t have the answer to that, that for drivers like us is one of the most-

Karla Nelson:  It’s hard because we never want to admit defeat in any way. Sometimes it’s not defeat, it’s just pivoting. In our mind. It’s no, I set out to do this and I’m so bull-headed that I’m going to do that come hell or high water. I know you built that out to 465 clubs. I know you sold it for $1.8 billion or a little bit over that. When did you get to the point where you were like, “Okay, it’s time.” Was it a shift? Or was it like, “oh, I need to do something else?” Because I think that’s a hard time too, is either pivoting or shifting or when you’re called to do something different.

Eric Levine:  You mean at that size?

Karla Nelson:  Yeah.

Eric Levine:  Well, I have to say that Mark Mastrov was the real founder of the company. I joined them later and he was a chairman of the board that made those decisions.

Karla Nelson:  Got it. So you were just along with the team.

Eric Levine:  I was on the board of directors. I represented my share. I was in charge of the rest of it. But Mark was the one that made the decision on the $1.8 billion. A year earlier we had an offer… I was the third largest private shareholder in the company, Mark would first. We had a crazy offer the year before for $1.3 billion. We all say yes, take it, take it, take it and Mark said, “No, we’re worth almost 2 billion.” There was like, “How do you see that?” At the time the companies in the fitness industry were going for four, five times cash EBITDA, that was the norm. When we ended up, Mark-

Karla Nelson:  That’s an incredible multiple that’s got to be because people have memberships and don’t use them or something. I don’t know. I don’t know what goes into that.

Eric Levine:  The auto-pay-

Karla Nelson:  Yeah, the auto-pay.

Eric Levine:  -the recurring income. We sold for over nine times EBITDA. Mark Mastrov gets a credit for that sale.

Karla Nelson:  That’s an incredible multiple right there. I need to get in the fitness industry. I’ve always been passionate about it, but never really dove into the buy and sell on that vertical.

Eric Levine:  It’s back up on the opportunity in the fitness industry because of COVID. It’s sad some reason why there’s some opportunity in it, because the fitness industry has been shot for 18 months, there’s lots of opportunities in the new company I’m with now. That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re buying companies that aren’t coming out of bankruptcy or we’re taking them through it. People that need help that need some money. They were great. They just got murdered because of the situation. Our group is partnering with these great people and bringing them up. That’s what we’re doing right now.

Karla Nelson:  That’s awesome. Well, and there’s a lot of different areas that you could utilize that either roll-up structure or bringing people into a team with the right strategy, because there have been so many hurting, which is interesting, because didn’t you bring the fitness industry to… During the SARS pandemic, too? You’re a glutton for punishment, Eric.

Eric Levine:  I was with Family Fitness Center in Southern California. I was a partner with my mentor, he’s 94, Ray Wilson. We then merged with Mark Mastrov. He was 24 Hour Nautilus, we created 24 Hour Fitness. It was a huge company. I’m an entrepreneur, Mark is my dear friend I’m the godfather of his daughter, but I didn’t want to work in a corporate situation. I said, “Hmm, been there, done that. Don’t want to do that.” Ray was always going to Asia saying, “That’s the mother load.” I had never even been to Asia. Get on a plane, I land in Hong Kong and walked the whole city because I couldn’t sleep. I said, “This is it.” There wasn’t another fitness center in all of Asia, not one. They had the hotel gyms, which were ridiculous as we all know, and this is 25, 27 years ago. I said, “Ray, Hong Kong, I want to open up at Hong Kong.”

I went around and everybody told me the Chinese will never work out together. The Chinese ladies will not sweat in front of a man. It’s not part of their culture. You cannot find a location that I want. Because I had already Karla, visualize and manifested 40,000 square foot, all glass building in the heart of Hong Kong, ground floor entrance, no doors, huge signage. The excitement of the people running around, the good looking women, the good looking men, the money, the crank of the machine. I had already manifested every single detail and everyone said, “Go home is not going to work. Nobody works out here, forget it, you’re never going to find a building like that, etcetera, etcetera.”

I was at a building and they said, “Get out of here” just like everyone else said, “Get out of here, kid.” I didn’t have the right watch, I didn’t have the car, my hair was as long as you. “Get out of here.” As I’m walking out and I’m thinking to myself, well, I already manifested it. What’s happening here? As I’m walking across the street, ready to this, keep my head down, I look up and see someone putting a sign up on this 40,000 square foot floor, escalators, all glass, for lease. That’s exactly-

Karla Nelson:  That was a sign that was a sign.

Eric Levine:  It was sign that was assigned. There was one, we were talking about this before the interview, there was one person that I knew. He was a Jewish businessman from Montreal who now was a billionaire. He had made it in Hong Kong and his company was California Entertainment. He owned all the bars and restaurants real estate. His name is Mr. Allan Zeman, now is Sir, in China is a big guy. He was the only person that I knew and his restaurant was right across the street from this building. I walked in there and I said, “Is Alan here?” And he said, “Here I am. Hi, Eric, how you doing?” I said, “I think I’m doing great. Who owns the building across the street?” He is “Oh, my good friend William” said, you’re good… I explained to him what I’m doing and everything. He made the phone call.

William came to get a beer that night. We toured the building and he says “You know, we only have one year leases.” I said, “Well, what do you mean one year leases? I’m going to spend four and a half million dollars on making this into a fitness center. I can’t get my money back in a year.” He said “Well, how long do you need?” I said, “I need five years with a five year continuation” He said “I can’t do that now.” I convinced them to do it. He said “Okay. I’ll do it under one condition.” “What’s that?” He said “The rent is $250,000 a month” He was looking in my eyes to see what’s happening. At being a veteran salesperson, no expression, even though I’m biting my lip as hard as I can “And I want six months rent in advance.” I said, “Okay.” It cost four and a half million. We pre-sold 300,200 people. 60 days after I opened I was in the black, I’ve got all my money back.

Karla Nelson:  That’s an awesome story. I love it. As we wrap up here, I would love for you to share your strategies for manifesting. Because I think that we all get told no, or we’re going down the wrong path or doors are shutting and we have to pivot just a little bit. Do you have strategies that you use in order to… Because I remember reading this book and it talked about… I’ll have to look it up, I read it so long ago. But they would teach and train pro athletes how to do this and how you saw yourself over and over and over again. There was a gentleman that never touched a golf club but learned what it was like. He was actually in prison and when he came out he was a good golf player. There’s definitely strategies that you can utilize. What were your strategies?

Eric Levine:  That’s a great question Karla and bringing up the golf. The first book of its kind that I read was a book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz called Psycho-Cybernetics and the power of manifestation-

Karla Nelson:  It’s The Power of Full Engagement. You just gave me the name of the book. Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full engagement is the one that I was referring back to.

Eric Levine:  The techniques are very similar. I mean, Jack Nicholas was talking about how he would feel the sweet spot of his putter. Watch the dimples roll, roll through the grass and clunk in the center of the cup before he do any… You always see him, if you remember him walking back and forth, he’s visualizing, manifesting all the time. The techniques, Dr. Joe Dispenza is one of the today gurus on neuroscience. His morning meditation is all about manifestation. From Dr. Maxwell Maltz, which I read in 1968, to today. They refined the techniques, but more or less the same, it’s about actually going into the universe, they call it the quantum field now. The rishis called it something different, but it’s the same. It’s 5,000 years old knowledge. It’s about going into a place where your ego isn’t there, your mind isn’t there, your body isn’t there.

Dr. Joe Dispenza says no where, no time, no one. Being in this area of absolute quiet and silence. From that point manifesting specifically. I’ll use a simple example, a car. It’s not a good example. What does it look like? What does the new leather smell like? What do you feel when you put your foot down in your head goes back? What do you feel like when the girls are all “Woo. Is that your car, is that your daddy’s car?” Every detail, what you feel like, what you would do if you had that. The more detail you give, the easier it is for the universe to recreate it for yourself. Never lose that, keep that. It’s got to be prevalent at all times in your mind, in your vision, without any type of interruption. That’s how the universe knows, he’s got it, he’s serious. It’s already happened. It’s already happened in the universal field. You’ve already put your initials on it. It’s just coming now. It’s not a matter of panicking. It’s just, it’s on its way. Keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s on it’s way.

Karla Nelson:  I love that Eric. I think it’s so prevalent in sports and high achievers in these… You bring that into your entrepreneurial and your business focus as well. That’s how, when you hear no, or when you have the board meeting or you missed your deadlines or… I will definitely have to include those books in the notes.

Eric Levine:  When you’re a leader and you’re sharing your manifestation with your team and your team starts to grow inside that manifestation. Now you’ve got a team that’s so together that you’re all blood sisters and brothers. That takes on a new energy.

Karla Nelson:  There’s the movement you got going on there.

Eric Levine:  There’s the movement you got.

Karla Nelson:  That’s where you go from making $4,000 a month to $60 a month. Well, Eric, how can our viewers and listeners get a hold of you?

Eric Levine:  ericlevineglobal.com is my consulting and I’m on LinkedIn, ericLevineglobal.

Karla Nelson:  Well make sure we put that in the show notes as well, Eric. This has been not only fun. However, I have also remembered some things that I need to go back and brush up being constant learner. Really appreciate you being on the show. Love your stories. I can’t wait until next time.

Eric Levine:  Thank you for having me, Karla. Thank you.


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