As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a warrior. You could find me running around the house in a karate uniform, or all decked out in camouflage pretending to be a soldier. Funny enough, when the time came, and I was old enough (5 yrs. Old) to train martial arts I quickly shied away. I remember being scared and extremely intimidated. Navigating this part of myself at such a young age was nearly impossible. I faced many challenges as a child and had quite the unstable home environment. This played a crucial role in me becoming independent at an early age and learning to be responsible for myself. My urge to train never went away, and by the time I was 12 I made the jump. I started boxing at a local boxing gym in my hometown of Las Vegas. I took two busses and walked 1.5 miles to the gym every day, which was about 20 miles from my home. Drive and tenacity were always my strong points, it was my ability to stick to the course that I struggled with. Martial Arts was the key factor in me developing that discipline.
After a year and a half of boxing I became bored and wanted more from my training. I browsed the phone book and took a bus or caught a ride to every single studio I found interesting. I looked at a dozen or so schools until I found the right one for me. I remember vividly the intrigue I felt shortly after walking in the door. I was 14 years old and watching these guys was like watching magic. The name of the school and the art was Kung Fu San Soo.
The school was real, practical, and extremely violent. This appealed to me because not only were they keeping it real, but they were practicing every piece of a fight situation. Striking, ground-work, mauling techniques, leverages, throws, knife-stick-gun, etc. Mind you this is 1993 and the first UFC didn’t happen till later that year. There was no Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Las Vegas, and MMA was not even coined yet. San Soo in my opinion was the first real example of MMA, at least in my world. I trained diligently over the next decade and earned my black belt when I was 24 years old (1 of only 5 black belts to ever come out of the school in 15 years and 1000’s of students). By this point I was training Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and had decided to compete professionally in MMA. My MMA career was short lived although I did compete against two very notable opponents, Jared “J-Roc” Rollins and Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
Throughout my 20’s I continued to teach San Soo and train BJJ under the instruction of amazing coaches such as Rigan Machado, Sergio Penha, Fredson Paixao, Marc Laimon, and Cameron Diffley. I also trained Muay Thai under the instruction of phenomenal coaches such as Dewey Cooper, Shawn Yarborough, Kathy Long, and Sao Hin.
I was working my way up through the F&B industry in Las Vegas and found a new passion in service, and eventually wine. My career lead me from glass polisher, to busboy, to food runner, to server, and eventually to Sommelier. I opened Bellagio in 1998 under world renown chef Todd English and Wynn in 2005 under Stephen Cult. I also worked for celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. I eventually wound up at STK at the Cosmopolitan as a sommelier, managing a $12 million/year beverage program that did $5million in wine and $26 million combined revenuenbetween F&B. Being a sommelier is a prestigious position on its own, combining that with the success of such a monster restaurant speaks volumes. I knew that there were only two places to go from here. Either climb the corporate ladder or do my own thing. My spirit and drive kept me from the former.
I partnered with a few of my buddies from the Bellagio days and decided to open a brewpub in downtown Las Vegas. Beer was up double digits in a down economy and downtown Las Vegas was booming, it was also missing a fresh local brewpub. My partners and I knew nothing about beer or business for that matter. We made a $5000 investment in a home brewery and brought on a buddy who home brewed as a hobby. We brewed out of my garage for 4 years and saved $250K. Developed a PPM (Private Placement Memorandum) and partnered with Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO and founder) and Andy Masi (Former founder and owner of Light Group) raising an additional $1/2 million dollars. We opened in the heart of downtown Las Vegas on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Fremont Street. We doubled our revenue from year 1 to year 3 going from $500,000 to almost a $million dollars in sales.
As time passed our expertise allowed us the opportunity to consult on multiple F&B products, from brewpubs to bars to restaurants. Our largest consulting client currently is Station Casinos. The 3nd largest Casino operator in Nevada behind MGM and Caesars corporation, and the largest local gaming conglomerate in the state. As I begin to consult professionally I found multiple friends and clients not only asking for help with their businesses, but with their lives. The way I was living my own life was drawing attention and I didn’t even realize it.
By this point I had discovered that my true happiness came from helping people, I just wasn’t sure in which capacity to focus on. After some major soul searching and traveling I decided to employ a coach of my own. I had been advising people my whole life, whether it be teaching martial arts, helping a friend get in shape, consulting on a project, or just helping my buddy file a Trademark or start an LLC and open a business checking account. I figured it was my turn to seek some wisdom. While working with my coach I remember one major conversation that stood out about my future. He said to me, if your main goal is to grow your wealth to the point that you can help others in the world than why don’t you just grow your wealth while helping others. I said ok, great idea, but how do I do that. He told me you’re already doing it every day, you just haven’t made a business out of it. This piece of information was worth every penny I spent on him.
That was the moment of inception for Business Jiu Jitsu. The first greatest insight from my coach was that I really was doing what I wanted to be doing I just hadn’t developed it into a business yet. The second greatest insight was to add my unique style and swag to my business. This is where the Jiu Jitsu came in. Martial arts are a part of me. I have been training for over 25 years. The principles and discipline I have attained through my training have been the key factor in my success in life and in business. It is my dream to help as many people as I can achieve their dreams and transform their lives. We all have our own brilliance within us, it is my job to cultivate that brilliance within my clients and teach them the discipline needed to execute their dreams.