When I got fired as head coach in a local gym, it crushed me so deeply that I quit jiu-jitsu and moved to another country. I had been coaching for about half a year, and in my mind, I was doing great. People were improving rapidly—people who could hardly do a hip escape before passed people’s guard like a tornado. And we saw new heights on the local competition scene. “You were the first to ever really pay attention to my game. You told me that as a high-level judoka, it made no sense to pull guard; I should work on my passing instead. I worked on that for years, and it’s paying off” - Gauthier Blommaert. But it wasn’t all good. For every person who would go through hell and back for me, someone drove back home when they saw I was teaching a class. For every person that loved my drill sergeant-style classes, someone was looking for another gym. For every person who saw me as a friend, someone saw me as a bully. It turns out that when I came back from my 15 months in Stockholm, I brought more than good jiu-Jitsu and grit. I brought back a fake alpha bully mentality. (This is long before Stark jiu-jitsu was started). I made nicknames for people; I rolled my eyes when they made mistakes, I made them do burpees as punishment, I yelled at them. I was just generally an asshole. I had never worked with people before and had honestly never really learned how to propagate a productive, positive environment. I thought all that mattered was that people got better. After running my marketing agency and leading a team, I realized how important it is that every individual feels good. And that the relationships between the people are what helps everyone improve. I studied the psychology of leading people and even got a leadership coach Sarah Locke to help me help everyone in my team shine their brightest. I’ve now gone so far the other way that my bosses compliment me on this weekly. “ It is praiseworthy how you managed to create psychological safety for your team. You’re a real people manager.” - Stef Nimmegeers. Later, when Stark Jiu Jitsu opened in Stockholm, I had extremely positive role models in Max Lindblad, Erik, Elina, and Big Max. They truly found the balance between pushing people and nurturing them—a difficult feat. I now want to create a positive environment where everyone feels heard and supported. So we can help each other be the best versions of ourselves, train hard and have a good time together without toxic fake alpha bullshit.