I expected to wait. I expected to be put off and have my call screened. After all, I was asking to speak to Brent Lillard, CEO of multi-million dollar IT company GovSmart. Lillard’s company
was named the fastest-growing business in Charlottesville, VA two years in a row.
When I called to speak to the man, I had to be creative to get through. When his staff on the other end of the phone asked who I was, I said “Rickson Gracie.” I was met with immediate laughter from the gatekeeper and a quick callback from Brent Lillard. He laughed and told me my creativity paid off, “that was a great way to get a call back from me,” and that he was happy to hear from me and talk some BJJ.
GovSmart CEO Brent Lillard credits much of the success of his business to BJJ. (He is a Pedro Sauer purple belt (soon to be brown) who has been training for 10 years.)
The benefits to the company have been endless, said Lillard. Executive leaders like Purple Belt Adam Deane, BJJ Black Belt and Account Manager Shaun Kennedy have used this martial art as a stress management tool; honing their ability to make quick decisions under pressure. BJJ helps staff keep their cool and get the job done. Joe Rogan did a masterful job of describing the benefits of providing corporate wellness to your employees, particularly in terms of stress management, in his interview with Stephanie Daniel’s:
“There’s a big difference between how I respond to situations in life when I’ve been working out hard on a regular basis and not. If I get out of jiu-jitsu class after a really hard roll and a boulder landed on my car, I’d be bummed out, but my reaction would be so different than if I was on my way to class all tense and angry cause I haven’t had a chance to work out for a few weeks, and a boulder landed on my car. Then I would be like, ‘What the f—!?’ The perspective changes depending on the stress level.”
GovSmart has their sales staff train BJJ, and Brent attributes their success to this training. Sales last year were $69 million dollars; in 2014, INC Magazine named this company “Fastest Growing in US” and in 2015 Forbes named GovSmart one of the 20 Most Promising Companies.
Quickly, here are a few more examples of BJJ’s positive impact:
- Formerly intimidated employees become more comfortable within the group and the cockier, alpha employees are humbled–possibly by smaller, underestimated staff!
- Reduced health care costs through employee weight loss: one man lost 150 lbs. and another lost 120 lbs.
- GovSmart has smartly chosen to continue their martial arts program as a team-building tool. They have formed a company bond that cannot be broken; morale begets loyalty, and loyalty begets productivity.
Brent says that it is hard to measure the health care savings gained by promoting BJJ as a company, but he knows that his workforce is healthier than his competition, employees have less sick days, and when they are on the job they perform at a much higher level. The company is breeding a group of highly tactical and strategic employees with a BJJ Mindset.
We all know that BJJ can help and transform people, but put to action as an employee benefit and it could transform small businesses all over the world while simultaneously creating a healthier, and happier workplace. Those who train BJJ have long known its benefits, and because of guys like Lillard who are brave enough to do things differently, their numbers are growing rapidly.
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