SAMANTHA: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat. I'm your host, Samantha with Love Live Dance. Today. I'm joined by Michael Johnson. He is a US professional 10 dance finalist, the host of the Majic for Life podcast, owner of Dance Majic studio in Utah and the author of "The First Step" and "Every Minute", please welcome to the podcast Michael Johnson.
MICHAEL: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
SAMANTHA: So, Michael, how did you get your start in the industry?
MICHAEL: Well, I'll give you the short version, which is still a little long, but I'll give you the short version. I started dancing when I was five and my mother. Couldn't afford a babysitter. So, and I had stayed with my grandparents all day long, so she took me to dance class with her. And next thing you know, the college kids were using me as a toy. So I got to learn all the dances and become very proficient at it.
So by the time I was 10, I knew most, pretty much every dance and I was dancing pretty well by that point. By the time I was 13, my mother had. Taken over, or opened a dance studio. And she had me teaching the beginning classes at 13, so she'd be my TA. And, and so I started teaching very young and, I got a scholarship to go to BYU, to be on their tour team. So I went there and danced by that point, I knew I was going to make dance a career, and so I graduated as fast as I possibly could because I wasn't really there for school, I was there for dance and for a way to find myself into the pro ranks. And so, went to New York and New Jersey to work with Gary and Diana McDonald, who at the time where the world, 10 dance champions.
I figured since I wanted to do 10 dance, that was the best place to be. So, went there, was privileged enough to work with a great Fran Rogers who is Diana's mother, and she's a hall of fame, inductee. She was probably, responsible for teaching some of the greats in the ballroom industry, but, oftentimes now is forgotten about, so we'll try to fix that, but she was amazing. And so were Gary and Diana and my other coaches, And so I was really, really lucky, but, I'd say about three years into that journey, I, was just stuck. I just felt like things weren't progressing the way I wanted to. I wasn't, wasn't doing as well in the pro ranks. You know, I was, I knew I was talented. I knew that this was a career and so did everybody else around me, I just wasn't making the progress that I wanted to. So, on a whim, I accidentally bumped into personal development. It was kind of taboo back then, you know, it was like, Oh, do you need a psychologist? Or do you need a psychiatrist? Or you need professional help if you're going to get, you know, self-help who does that?
Well, I dug in any way and, became, Enthralled with it. So I ended up getting my certifications to be a NLP practitioner and master practitioner, and I also got certified to be a life coach. And personal development sort of became my world.
I started taking on clients that were outside of dance. So I had my dance clients and I had my life coaching clients and a was helping people with everything from weight loss, to marriage counseling, to depression, you name it. And so I had my clients for my company Majic for Life that I started way back then, and I had my dance clients. So it was kind of living two lives and. And started incorporating that into the dancing and then to working with my dancers. and just found that it was really massively useful. So then when I moved to Utah, cause my kids were getting older, my wife wanted to move back to Utah and, we just, I started doing more coaching and so I kind of put Majic for Life to the side for a little bit and just dug into all of my coaching, for dancing for a little while.
I also took on a job at a software company, Doing that as well. So I, you know, I kind of had a little bit different path, but, as I did that, you know, found my way to success with a lot of different athletes and dancers along the way. So it was a lot of fun doing that.
As I progressed, I found the calling for Majic for Life and personal development and wanting to go back into that. I have a particular passion for helping entrepreneurs specifically be able to take their life to the next level. And mindset is such a huge, huge portion of what that's all about. And so now I have my playground, which is, which is our ballroom studio combined with my personal development company, which is my other playground. And so, you know, I literally am living the dream and having a ball doing it, you know? So it's, it's a lot of fun, kind of a, kind of a crazy path, but, but a lot of fun along the way.
SAMANTHA: Well, that's awesome because I mean, obviously the two go hand in hand, right?
If you have a mindset that is healthy, if you know your drive, if you know your focus, then you can use that and put it directly into either your dancing or your career or your side hustle or your main hustle or whatever that might be. So, the fact that you are able to coach. You know, youth, amateur, adults, amateur professionals, and also weave in all of these wonderful just life, affirming, ideas and concepts along the way, I think is so fantastic. you mentioned, the importance of being an entrepreneur. And that you work with a lot of entrepreneurs, obviously, for those of us that are in the dance industry. most of us are not full time employees. we don't have, you know, the salary and the 401k. So we are either small business owners, or independent contractors, or we own an LLC, or what have you to kind of navigate through, Through the business end of the world.
What tips would you give instructors to make the best go at being a successful entrepreneur?
MICHAEL: Well, I think, first and foremost, You know, it's, it's split in a few different things, right? You have your skillset as being a dancer. And I believe that is massively important and I've seen too many people along the way, too many coaches, too many dancers along the way that get by with regurgitating information to me as a, as a professional and someone who's, who's taken dance very seriously. I sort of am offended. And I think anybody that is a professional dancer out there should also be offended by what I'm about to say, if you don't do this. Right. You need to become a master at your craft.
If you're going to have people pay for it and regurgitating your last lesson and giving it to the student, whether they need it or not is not being a professional, right. That that's being YouTube. And we know learning to dance from YouTube isn't exactly the best means by which to become a great dancer.
So, you know, regurgitating information or giving the same lesson to everybody over and over and over again, which I've had many of those from. Many of the greats in the past. If you're teaching the same lesson over and over again, you need to get some new lessons and you need to get educated in what you do.
It is our profession. It is our art, and it is our responsibility to the next generation to teach them the theories and principles behind what it is that we're doing, whether it be just from ballroom or we're taking in other principles and concepts from other forms of dance and or other skillsets. from athletics like football, basketball, it doesn't matter.
Those things need to be brought in. And so I would say become a master at your craft, become a well-versed teacher and learn how to do it because we are getting paid good money for this and teaching what you learned on your lesson from the last coach. Are you kidding me if it's appropriate? Yeah, that makes sense. But, Oh my gosh. I mean, I can't tell you the number of times that's happened to me during my career and I was appalled by it, you know, and, and I guess maybe I just, wasn't a willing to be a mindless. So to all of you dancers out there that are taking lessons, do not accept that. Do not accept that from your coaches do not accept.
Like if you come to. your lessons that day and you hear them teaching one lesson to three other couples before, and they give you that same lesson, you ought to start thinking twice. Cause did you really have that problem? Or were they just lazy? You know? And so I'm sorry to call the, the coaches and people out there, but you know what, they're, they're better than that.
Even the ones that are doing that, they're better than that. And I believe that. And so I think it's important that we do that. So on one set. You know, one end it's it's getting good at your craft. Getting good at your skill. I think second is mindset and not second because it's second place. But second, because, you know, you have to have a great mindset to be able to succeed, whether it's competitively or entrepreneur wise, or just even being able to sell yourself on the floor, you have to have a great mindset. You have to have a great belief within yourself. And some of the biggest successes I've had with my coaches or coaching clients, whether it be in life coaching or whether it be in athletics or dance has been really because we were able to get them to believe.
And really that's the first step before anything else, if you've got to believe it. And, and that is so much harder to do than it is to say, but it is so important. So I think mindset is huge. It's it's the 80%, not the 20%. So, you know, you've got the 80 20 rule and a lot of people put time, put the 80% as the skillset. And honestly, as a dancer, yourself and myself, how many times have we stood there after not making the callback or not making the cut. And looked at the floor and went, I am better than at least for those couples, what in the heck happened and what happened was right here and right here. It was right between the years and right inside the heart. Those two things were the thing that got us because we may have technically been better, but they may have been able to share their soul. And when it's all said and done, that's what the judges are looking for. That's what the audience is looking for. And it takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of effort here. So I'd say that's the second thing.
Third of all, stop avoiding as entrepreneurs or as dancers stop avoiding the idea that you need to become an entrepreneur. You do. You have to learn business. You have to suck it up and do the accounting. You have to learn how to do marketing. For goodness sakes.
Marketing is massive and you have to learn to be a good salesman. And all of those things are massively important. And bridging that gap is huge because if you don't, you're going to always be that cliche, struggling entrepreneur or struggling artists, right? We have this idea that artists somehow have to be poor and struggling, and that is not true. That is not true. But when we think of it that way, it will be true whether you like it or not. So I think, you know, if you need help with that side of it, the marketing, the entrepreneur side, the salesman side, Hey, you know, look me up, we'll talk, I'll chat. We'll have a conversation about how you can expand yourself outside of just the teaching, because the teaching is one element and that is one way for us to get income as a professional, but it's only one way, and there are hundreds of other ways.
You were a perfect example. You here, you are doing this awesome show and it's another way. Other dancers out there might think, well, gosh, how do I monetize that? Well, that's the conversation. That is the question you have to answer. How do I monetize that? How do I make something of that? And you can't be afraid of money being like some evil thing. Forget it. Money is what it is. You are what you are. And if you are evil, then money will be evil. If you are good, money will be good, but it's not about the money. The money is a piece of paper. It grows on trees. You can make more of it. And so. You have to learn how to do that. And there's a process behind it and there is marketing behind it. There is education behind it and you need to become the best entrepreneur you can.
One of the things that kind of led me out of this was just dealing with, you know, I became a judge a number of years ago. And so I jumped on the circuit periodically. when I have time, I like to be able to go out and give back because I feel like it's our responsibility as former dancers -- former competitors, I should say. You'll never be a former dancer. I got out there and I thought, gosh, these professionals, some of these judges, this is all they have.
This is all they have. And that made me sad. It made me sad because I think they would want more. And some of them are like, Oh, I don't have more, but this is what I have. So this is what I have to do. So I have to lean in and I'm like, you know what? There's so much more for you. There is so much more, you don't have to just be this because they have trouble standing up all day long, judging these comps, they are getting older and their bodies are like, yeah, no, not doing that anymore. And they're going, but I have to do this. And I would love for them not to have to do it right for them to have some other opportunities, other streams, other forms of income, because. They are amazing and they have amazing knowledge inside of them, but they didn't learn the business and the marketing side on the other end to be able to do that.
So, you know, those are, those are those things. I think that these entrepreneurs can do and, you know, If they're interested, we recently started a cool Facebook group, that they can come join us on that's it's free, you know, how do you get better than free? Right. But when we were starting up this cool Facebook group, specifically for entrepreneurs to be able to figure out their ideas and, and get solutions to being stuck, because I think we all feel that as entrepreneurs there's so many times we feel stuck and we just need some help. A mastermind would be amazing. So that's why we created this cool group.
SAMANTHA: That's awesome. So kind of going through everything that you just said, which is phenomenal. If you are listening to this, either in its podcast form or you're live with us now, be taking notes right now, because that was such great insight and information on the topic of looking at yourself as a business person, that is 100% a hurdle that I have had to get over and continuing to remind myself and reset myself. Like, no, you are a small business owner. That is your identity. Own it. It's okay. Because I feel like at least in my experience, and I'm sure it's a shared experience among younger, newer, dance instructors is this idea when you're talking with a student or a client and you say, okay, this is my schedule, these are my hours, The comment that we all sometimes hear in passing is, Oh, so what else do you do? Like what, what's the, what's the real job that you have? The first half dozen times that I got that, I was like, okay, well they just don't understand that this is my business. This is my livelihood. This is my career.
Then suddenly, and it was probably a year and a half or two years ago when I made the switch to building my own brand. I had this epiphany. I was like, no, I'm not presenting myself in a way that says this is my career. This is my identity. This is what I do. So how can I make it so that every interaction that I have with a student or a client says that she is a dance instructor period, full stop. End of statement.
I think that's a really difficult mindset shift to have when you're in the industry, because you are the struggling artist or, Oh, I'm the competitive dancer. That's between professional partners or I haven't found a professional partner yet or competition isn't really my thing.
So I'm teaching instead and making that conscious effort to shift the dialogue and to shift the narrative to say, no, this is what I do, and I would like you to respect the fact that this is the career path that I've chosen.
You also made the comment, early on about, dancers or the greats in the industry and the coaches and the industry that just gives the same lesson over and over again and reteach the same thing. That has kind of been a through line in conversations that I've had on the podcast with my other guests. Everybody is different. Everybody and every body is different. So if you are a student that is either paying for lessons with a coach and you're getting the same regurgitated information, or you are attending a lecture and it's the same lecture that you've seen 1500 times, ask yourself why that instructor is giving you the same information. Is it because they haven't taken training in 20 years and that was the last piece of information? They're holding onto it for dear life, and they're like, this is my thing. I'm just gonna teach everybody it because that's where I feel comfortable, or is it because that's the limit of their ability and they don't have the skillset to teach in different, unique ways to every single person and identify that your Latin professional couple is going to need different feedback than your standard professional couple or someone that is just starting out in their first year is going to need different same concept, but different information than somebody that's been doing it for 15 years.
So just be an inquisitive student. I think that is what I would say. Be someone who is willing to ask questions, absorb the information, but then critically think about it.
MICHAEL: Well, I think, You know, I started teaching when I was 13, as I said earlier. And from that point I got a lot of backlash. How could you, how could you teach us? Right.
The college kids were much more receptive to a 13 year old teaching them than the adults that were in that class. The adults were very stuck in their ways. And how could this 13 year old be teaching me until I got in and was entertaining and kept them going and could teach them the same stuff, and all of a sudden I earned my way in and I think because of those early experiences and being younger all the way through the first portion of my career, it was always that I was younger than everybody else. I was always, you know, trying to be something more and prove that I could do it.
So because of that, I oftentimes dug into the skill a little bit. And I felt like I had to know all the why's. I had to know why, whether I got it or not. Cause I was fairly naturally talented, so I could, I could imitate, I could see it, I could do it and I can get what they wanted me to do really fast. But I was because I was teaching at such a young age. I was trying to get the inside the internal, when I finally met up with, And I had some really great coaches that, that started me on this path. Ron Montez, Buddy Schwimmer. They are coaches to the nth degree.
So you look at buddy Schwimmer and you might not have ever taken a lesson with him, but the guy knows his dancing. He knows his stuff. And most people think of him as just the swing guy, but he understands dance. And so because of that, he would challenge me to ask why, but when I got to Fran Rogers, she really changed the game for me and anybody that was privileged enough to work with her before she passed away, knows that she understood why we did things and the resulting factor of what would happen if we did things.
So as we were going to be inspired to create new methodology or technique and principles. It was important to her that we did that, first of all. Second of all, that, when we did do that, that it was based on sound principles, and we didn't just say, this is how it is. We actually did it. We tested it, we checked it out. We saw the results of what would happen. And then we made a decision as to whether that was going to be the thing that we taught all the time. And so what I would say to the students is if you're hearing that lesson over and over and over again, There's two sides of the coin. One that that coach may not have any other lesson besides that.
So that that's definitely a possibility, and that is our responsibility as Americans. Okay. Now let's pretend we're international. That is our responsibility as humans to challenge our leaders. That is our responsibility. It is not, anything less than that. We are here and we should appreciate our freedoms, but our freedoms require us to challenge our leaders, not to not follow them, but to challenge them, because they're doing the best they can in most instances, but it is important to challenge them. And what I learned through working with people like Fran is that she expected me to walk in her smoke-filled office. Without a mask I might add, and challenge her on the technique book on the little gray Bible and I'd walk in and I'd go, it said we were supposed to go side and slightly forward on this step, but she's supposed to go to the side that doesn't make any sense to me. And so then we would go round about why that was the case. And we'd have these long drawn out arguments about why, one way or the other, and then the argument would be done.
Sometimes there would be a solution, and sometimes there wouldn't and she'd expect me to go figure it out. This is one of the things that I miss from Fran, and I know each of the great teachers out there that I've ever talked to each of the professionals, they all have that coach that did that for them. Whether it be somebody like a Benny tour Meyer or a Billy or bill and Bobby Irvine, it doesn't matter. But those people challenged us to be able to think and not just regurgitate. So if you have a coach that you suspecting is the case, become curious, ask why don't ask why as a little brat. Because I know what that's like, I was that too, but don't be a brat about it. Just get curious. And if you're curious, they will feed off of your curiosity and they will find out why, because they have the passion and love somewhere in there, whether they're teaching the same dang lesson over and over again, they might still have it in them, but you might have to actually dig it out of them if you are, if you care to do that.
If you don't care to do that, and you don't resonate with them, move on, get a new coach. It's okay. Everybody have their feelings hurt a little bit. We might cry a little bit this cause. Oh, so and so left me. But you know what? Move on. It's okay. It's all right. You know, and you gotta find somebody you resonate with. And when you do for goodness sakes, if I could say one last thing to this next generation, find some loyalty, people find some loyalty, you know what we are, we're not in the world of loyalty right now. Let me tell you, there is a whole lack of loyalty, but you know what? It will take you so far. If you have a coach that you resonate with and you work with well and you, and you know that you can learn from them and they get, you show some loyalty, show, some loyalty, give them that loyalty and they will give it right back to you and they will feed you like none other.
That seems to be missing a lot these days because of YouTube and all of the information online. Everybody's bouncing around, I can get this free lesson here and I can get this free lesson here. Oh my goodness. What a mess. Now the loyalty is gone. But you know what these coaches, they, they just show them some loyalty and it's just human nature. It's not even a dance thing. It's just human nature. If you show somebody loyalty, they will show you that loyalty back. And that doesn't mean you can't take lessons with a hundred coaches, but show some loyalty.
SAMANTHA: Yeah. I think the important part of that is find someone that you resonate with to give that loyalty to. If you are in a bad student-teacher relationship on either end, if you're an instructor and you can't stand your student for whatever reason, or if you're a student that cannot stand your instructor, we're not saying be loyal to them because you need to find someone that you really enjoy. The way that they are instructing, find someone who is inspirational from a dance perspective, find someone that you look forward to going into that studio to work with. And then for goodness sake, stay with them for as long as you can.
MICHAEL: And that kind of address it. You mentioned it on both sides, you're saying, well, even from the teacher side and that kind of addresses your other, the other portion of your statement earlier, which was, you know, how do you go about being and seeing yourself as a business owner. Part of that is that you have to understand that you need to do the best for the people and that they will always come back to you, whether you want to call it karma or the universe, or the good Lord above, I don't care what you want to call it. It will always come back to you.
I was taught this statement early on in my career. It wasn't until much later that I realized it became a plague, and that was TATM. This was the statement I learned. And it stood for think about the money. That was what I was first taught in the game. That was how I was taught to move forward.
So for years it was TATM. That was our chance. That was what our group talked about. TATM. Suck it up. We don't care if you hate this student, suck it up. TATM was all about the money. Think about the money. And for years, that was what it was about. And at a certain point, you know, you realize that man, you can actually make a lot of money when that's the focal point, but it doesn't feel good. In the end, it'll leave you empty, unfulfilled, and your customers and clients will leave you because they have to.
So I changed it and now our focus at magic for life at dance magic is all TAGP. Think about the people. Think about the people it's gotta be TATP. So there you go. Take that acronym, put it on your wall, put it on your studio, put it in your car. TATP. Think about the people. If you think about the people you'll know what they want. You'll understand what your client wants. You'll understand what your business needs, because you'll be thinking about what they want and what they need, and you'll give it to them and then they'll come back forever.
SAMANTHA: Yup. 100%. If your mindset as an instructor is I want to focus on the money, you're going to have a lot of burn 'em churn 'em attitude in your business. You're going to bring someone in and then you will probably never see them again because it is far more lucrative to have a thousand new students than 20 returning students in a lot of cases, because you can just do one time lessons. You don't have to put a whole lot of emotional, investment, and you don't have to think about the syllabus. You're going to teach the same one lesson intro lesson to a thousand different students, and then you'll be done. But you've. You've made whatever your first lesson prices, which is normally a little bit more expensive because a lot of us do package pricing if you buy more lessons at a time.
From an emotional stability, from a mental stability, from a stress level, if you have 20 or 30 regular clients that you see every week or every other week, and you are investing your time and your effort and your expertise into each one of those students. That is going to be so much more rewarding, and you are going to have people that identify with your brand and identify with you and speak positively.
You talked about the importance of marketing, earlier, and the fact that most of the industry, most of the professionals in the industry do not spend the time and the effort to market ourselves well, and the biggest thing that I have learned is reviews on the internet will make or break you. And if you have a loyal customer base, if you have a loyal student base that is going and liking your videos and liking your posts and giving you the five star review on Google and giving you the five star review everywhere else, Bing, Yelp, whatever that is going to do so much more for you and your business than if you have no reviews and just a lot of people in and out of the door.
MICHAEL: Yeah, that is that's so true. I mean, it's such a piece of the game now and you can't avoid it. You can't avoid the fact that everything's so internet based and without the marketing knowledge of it, you're wandering around hoping, and that's not how. That's not how the game is played.
SAMANTHA: we've got a couple, comments and questions from chat. first, I think there's a daughter of yours in the chat.
MICHAEL: Oh, yeah. She's one of my biggest fans. She will follow me everywhere I go. She's awesome. She's a dancer as well.
SAMANTHA: Excellent. So then, Matthew has a couple of different comments and questions. "this conversation makes me think about the HubSpot flywheel model to marketing -- attract, engage and delight, It's specifically designed with an eye to minimize that customer churn." So, kind of thinking about how to keep people engaged, how to bring people in that are going to show you that loyalty, that you can have positive interactions with and just continue to have that wheel spin, for itself.
The other question was, "how do you, Michael, feel about the established syllabi like DVIDA, Fred Astaire, Arthur Murray, NDCA, et cetera." I think that I'm going to kind of lump those two question about the established syllabus in with your comments about learning through YouTube.
So I want to kind of bring those two together.
Personally, I rely mostly on the DVIDA syllabus to teach my students. I have my lovely DVIDA app on my phone that I can go through and refresh my memory on syllabus steps and technique and get their feedback.
We are seeing an increase in online instruction, whether it be from YouTube or prerecorded segments that you can kind of opt into. You yourself did the Online Ballroom Congress last year. So, what is your take on using the internet as a medium for dance instruction? And then if we're all being critical thinkers, what is your take on established Syllabi?
MICHAEL: Well, you know, I think we were a bit of ahead of the game. We did the Online Ballroom Congress last year, and before everybody figured out what Zoom was, we were out there teaching the pros what Zoom was. So hopefully that helped them when the time came. but I believe that, you know, the real leader in the industry was really Wayne. He's the owner of dance visions, and he's always been that leader in the industry. He's always been the entrepreneur and the businessman in the background. And whether people like him or don't like him, it's irrelevant. He has established a proof that that dancers want more, and we thank him for that, you know, like, That's that's been great.
I think that, getting dancing more online, you know, moving out of the VHS days and into the, into the DVD days. And now finally, you know, I think the world because of this pandemic, The world has started to realize like, Oh, we can use streaming and the internet. Oh my goodness. You know, and it's like this like eye opener. but I think there is a lot to be gained from it. when we did the Congress, the Congress for us this last time around we're, we're gearing up for a new one in the coming days. But, But this last time around, we really wanted to make it not about taking the dancer out of the studio, but absolutely helping them with their mind and their soul, because as we said earlier, I do believe it's 80% of it. You know, there's, there is the technique and there is the dancing part of it. We, we, we can never replace getting in the studio. You can never replace having a one on one coaching, but that's the same in life. If you're having trouble with depression or anxiety, get a coach.
You may not need a therapist or you made it right, but at least get a coach because we don't need to do any of this alone along the way. And that's, that's the huge part. And so we will never replace the human interaction. We'll never replace one on one coaching. That's not the point, but what we can do is we can supplement it and we can gain insight, which is the age that I believe we're in is an age of insight, not just an age of information, you can find information anywhere. Now, as far as all of this influx because of the pandemic of things being free online, I have to say that I'm terribly, terribly, terribly concerned. I feel like the industry as a whole, is tried to copy. The outside world of marketing without understanding the principles of marketing. And so the outside world of marketing, some of them like the big, big mega brands are doing things that are charity oriented.
They're giving away money. And what if you don't understand business, you don't understand that for them. It's two things. It's good PR. Well, maybe three good PR. They have to write off a certain amount in taxes. So it's, it helps their company. And third they're being charitable. People are allowed to be charitable, even big companies too. Yes.
SAMANTHA: People can just be good people.
MICHAEL: But what happens is then you've got the medium size and the marketing community, which is all going, alright, let's take advantage of the situation. I don't mean that in a bad way. So all of you people that aren't marketers and entrepreneurs, that's not what I mean. I mean, take advantage of the circumstances that we've been given rather than crying in a hole, right. We're going to take advantage of the circumstances we've been given, and make something of it, even though it's grit, it's not good for us, right. Or, or maybe it is good for us. I don't know.
And what they're doing is as marketers, they have a plan and a strategy implemented for giving away free stuff. It's very calculated. It is very purposeful here. Let me give you this free thing, because it will show you I'm the real deal. It'll lead you up my value ladder. And if you don't know what a value ladder is, entrepreneurs, then you need to talk to me because that's not okay. Right. Even if you're an independent contractor, if you don't know what a value ladder is, we need to chat. Yeah. But they're leading them through a process. So that they can become loyal customers, right? So then you have the next tier down, which is not understanding what's going on, not getting it, but they're going while everybody else is doing it.
So then what they're doing is they're offering everything that we do as dancers for free. With no understanding of strategy or implementation of how this value ladder works. And it is a detriment to our industry. It is devaluing our professionals, knowledge and experience it is making it so that our industry is going to suffer in the long run and people haven't quite seen that yet.
Again, if you have a strategy for it, then kudos to you. I'm glad you're doing it. When we did the Congress, we had a strategy to it. So I don't want to hear back in the chat, Oh, but you gave away the Congress for free. Yes, I did. Because I wanted to prove that we had some great value. You could get the value online and I could actually send you out to those amazing professionals to get their attention. One on one. Yeah, right. We had a strategy and we knew what we were doing. We knew the direction we were heading, but giving our hard work and our years worth of experience away for free. Okay. There's a line. There is a line we have to, we have to understand the value of. Of our professionals right now.
And I think we're headed to a really dangerous place. Now that leads into the idea of syllabus. And when you talk about syllabus, we have to understand that in order for us to feel academically like we are as proficient as a lawyer, we have to have some standards. We have to have some guidelines and some basis for us to operate on. So in order to do that, we needed to create certifications and we needed to create tests and we needed to create syllabus, a consistent thing. And so I value what all of these syllabus, organizers and creators are doing, because what they're doing is they're trying to create a situation in which all of our dancers can actually have certifications and qualifications that say, yes, we are proficient.
We know what we're doing. We are good at what we do and we can prove it. And when we do that, now, all of a sudden we can say, yes, we can command this amount of money for our lesson, we can command this amount of money to be in our studio. And therefore we are more like a doctor or more like a lawyer, except better. but sorry, doctors and lawyers, right. We, we help people souls. And so do they. And so I think we are all equal in that regard, but doctors and lawyers tend to get this massive amount of attention because they went to school for 20 years. So you can't compare to us. And I'm thinking I went to school for 20 years. I started when I was. Five, and I am still learning to this day. I bring in a coach to my studio and I will cancel all my lessons so I can go to all of theirs. That's how I get my coaching. I don't need to take a lesson. I take 20 every time a pro shows up. And so this is important, right? We have syllabus as a structure and a framework to establish, establish credibility for us as professionals.
So we need them now, as far as which syllabus is the best. We could debate about that all day long. And every one of the owners of every one of those syllabus would say their syllabus is the best. And what I can tell you about all of their syllabus, if you were a student of dance, there is something wrong in all of them. Because they're not perfect. Nobody's expecting them to be perfect. So leave them alone. Like let them do their job. They're going to try to get better. Each one of them is trying to do the best they can to create some sort of stable structure for all of us professionals in the industry. And that helps us all get more credibility.
But you have to go use it. And I think that's where young professionals go wrong. And that all happened when there was the whole deregulation of who could teach, which was a mess like yeah, that, that hurt all professionals in the industry that hurt our industry massively. And we are suffering the consequences from it now. But, but the syllabus is, is massively important. And whether it's accurate or whether it's got flaws or not is irrelevant, because. Everything that's written down has flaws. And if you've tried, tried to write a book I've written three or four now, three. Or, you can, you know, that it is impossible to get a book down perfectly.
It there's always going to be a flaw. There's always going to be something wrong. So, so we need to give the syllabus people a break. We need to understand what it's there for. We need to utilize it. And then we need to support them in the best way we can and, and help them when we find flaws and, and. Support the different industries, you know, everybody's got their syllabus. do we wish that everybody could agree? Yeah. Don't we wish the whole world could get along and there could be world peace. Yeah, we do. But all the syllabus get along together. It ain't happen anytime it's not happening
SAMANTHA: I think that's a good mindset. I think the theme for today is going to be, what is your mindset going into these topics because that's going to make or break it. I think that's a good mindset to have that the syllabus is a structure. You can think of it like a governing body. You can think of it as a regulatory agency. You can think of it as, as an outline to focus and create some structure in which to work around, but as we know, especially in ballroom dance, it is equal parts, sport and art form. So, if you've ever watched strictly ballroom, you know that our industry only grows and adapts as folks are willing to take chance and say, okay, this is the syllabus. This is what we've been doing for the last 10 years. Where can I put my individual stamp on it? Or how can I, how can I play and make creative choices and, and split test it and say, okay, if I teach. You know, this group of students the old way, and I make a slight tweak. Is it more efficient? Does it look more interesting? Is it more eye catching? Does it work better biomechanically?
At least for me working with older, older dancers working with more of that retirement age, Biomechanics are a huge thing that I need to work around and take a critical look at to fit the age and the experience level of my students. I cannot teach them, you know, an international Rumba hip action, where you're putting all of your weight on your big toe and your second toe, and you're doing a rib isolation over the foot as, as you're still suspending your hip back like that doesn't work on an 80 year old body. so even though the syllabis might have, you know, technique or step patterns, you have to take creative liberties and make creative choices that best fit the dancer that you're putting the patterns to.
MICHAEL: And I think that, you know, there's balance, of course. There's always a yin and a yang and there's balance. I love the technical element and the theory behind it so much, so that I've done. you know, I've had some of my colleagues do biomechanic research. We went into one of the local colleges and we literally did a massive study on the biomechanics of all the core fundamental movements in Latin and standard.
Like we went. It, it, it's an amazing paper. and it's amazing research that's been done and we're looking to further that research. So, I mean, I've dug into the depths of it. So when I talk about knowing your craft, like, I really mean it, like, know your craft. Now, not everybody's going to have the resources to do that. And, you know, I found a way because I love the biomechanics of it. And I love to understand how the body is aligned in what works, where and how the muscles are working. That's important stuff. But on the other side, I love the mindset and the soul. And one of the things that I've taught my dancers from day one is share your soul.
You've got to share your soul. If you can win the audience, you can win your freedom to still align from gladiator. Like the idea's simple, right? You have to have a mind, body, soul connection. And you've got to understand how to balance the three, because if one of them is off, the whole system is off and that's huge. It is, it's a massive deal. So, you know, understanding yourself then that mindset and understanding how to deal with your internal core challenges. This is tough, but you know what? Sometimes you're in internal core challenge. You don't even know what it is because you've learned to hide in a way so well that you, your conscious mind doesn't even know.
And so it's important to go through processes that get you there. And that's some of the stuff that, that we create and, and do in magic for life is we create things that help you figure out and identify what your core challenges, whether you're a dancer, whether you're a salesman, whether you're a grandma, it doesn't matter.
It's the same process. Yeah. I love talking to entrepreneurs specifically and athletes and dancers. And, but you know, I, but it's the same principle. We're going to dig down to the core. We're going to figure out what your core block is, your core challenges. And we're going to help you figure that out because literally even if you just figure out that core challenge and you do nothing about it, just the fact that you brought it to your conscious mind is like astronomically beneficial. But after that, What if we took that found the solutions to it figured out how to actually retool it so that it was an asset for you now, that would be amazing, right? That's
SAMANTHA: the kind of stuff that'd be pretty impressive.
MICHAEL: And literally that's the stuff I've been doing for years with my dancers, which is why I have champions in so many different levels and different styles. And now in the pro ranks, like it's, it's. Not an accident, it's a blueprint and that's the only way you can find success. You can't accidentally find your way to success. You have to plan for it. Yeah. Anyway, so I, you know, I think, I think it's, it's both sides, right? It's, it's understanding that you must get good at your craft and you must have the mindset to allow that, that goodness that you created in your craft to actually come out
SAMANTHA: Absolutely. And I think that transitions really well to the book Every Minute. So. So emotional mastery. I imagine goes along with similar concepts that we were just talking about, but how would, how would you define emotional mastery and, and what it means to give someone that extra competitive edge for dancesport?
MICHAEL: well, you know, I feel like one of the things that is overlooked in mindset, And I would actually blame this on the marketing and business world is that at a certain point, the successful people started pointing out that mindset was valuable, but then it got turned into mindset, you know, and it's this like, again, it's a business skill you have to have. And I'm like, well, actually everything kind of drills down to emotion. And, and I came to this from the backdoor from dancers. And realizing that, Hey, we were always bringing emotion and if we didn't bring emotion, nobody wanted to watch us. And we weren't the relevant couple. We weren't the relevant dancer.
And so bringing emotion to the floor and authentic emotion is so valuable. It is like, I can't even explain the difference between a dancer who is amazing and a dancer who is amazing, that has emotional content. One, we'll just knock the other one out of the door. I saw it in a amateur championship a few years back with, with a couple of couples and one of them, they were both technically amazing.
Right. But the one, couple that won literally in the final, they were kind of neck and neck through the, through the early rounds. But in the final, they stood next to each other and the audience who was cheering for this other couple just kinda got deflated. I was like, because the other couple just was so much more emotionally connected and authentic that the whole room knew it.
They knew it in a heartbeat. They knew it in a half a second. And all of a sudden that whole, the whole vibe towards the other couple just kind of went away and it was clear that the other couple was supposed to win and it came from the combination. Of not only the skills, of course you have to have that, but you have to have that emotional content.
So the core of it is emotions and emotional mastery can only be attained through finding your emotional education and intelligence because you can't have intelligence without education and you can't have mastery without. Education and intelligence. So it's a process. So I like to teach that it's it's education, intelligence, mastery mastery is a journey.
The other two are process along the way to learn how to get to that place where you can say, yeah, I am in emotional mastery. I'm not an emotional master, cause that's not what we're, we're not here to be at the end. We're here to be in the journey. And so we are going through the process of getting there. And that's, that's the value, right. Is learning how to be educated about emotions, how to be intelligent about emotions. Now, all of that comes down to the idea that we are here to experience and to experience is to have emotion without emotion we are not experiencing. And that's why artists do what they do, because they want to have a feeling.
They want to have an emotion. They want to have a connection. That's why we love looking at art. That's why you can run through the Hermitage in Russia, the, the famous museum of paintings and a painting can stop you specifically in your tracks. Yeah, I was there once they said you have about a minute per painting, if you wanted to see all of them.
And if you do that, it'll take you about two months to get through. So yeah, we'll pick you up on the bus in about two hours and we're like, Do two hours. You'll take us two years to get through that at one minute per piece of art. So we're like gliding through the Hermitage. And literally there were certain pieces of art that stopped me in my tracks.
I don't know anything about art, but I do know that there was emotional content in it. And there was emotional feeling for me, maybe not for the person next to me, but for me, and as a dancer, we need to have that emotional content come out. Every single time we get on the floor with no exception, because T ATP think about the people, not about yourself, about the people.
And that's part of the contribution that we need to give as humans. It's part of our desire to give back because it's connected to growth. And so we go into those moments, we need the emotional content. And in order to do that, we have to get more educated. We have to become more intelligent. At emotions now here's the kicker. Nobody taught it to us in elementary school. Nobody taught it to us in middle school. Nobody taught it to us in high school and, Oh, well they must have taught it to us in college. Yeah, no, they didn't teach us in college. You know how we learned it by breaking up with our boyfriend or girlfriend by losing the job, getting fired, getting laid off, running out of money, going bankrupt.
Losing our business. That's how we learned emotional education and intelligence. That is a hole that is like the worst school of hard knocks. You could probably get, it was horrible, right? Why not teach it? This should be our number one subject in schools. And maybe someday I'll get. Oh all accomplish that goal. Right. But it should be taught to our children. It should be taught to them and it should be a mastery class through their entire education. Yep. The best school systems in the world, like in Finland, they. Moved to the top of the educated people list. They went from like some crazy number to like stick in the world and you ask their math teacher, what is their primary focus of teaching their kids, their math teacher.
He says, teaching them how to be happy. Yeah. That's plus two equals happy. Four. Right. And we're not teaching people that we need to teach people that. And so I take the, I take advantage of that dance. It's through so many years leading up to it, as soon as I dug into, into personal development. And you know what, all of my dancers are happy.
They may not win. They may not get to the final or they may, because a lot of them have. But they're gonna understand their emotions and they're going to know how to do happy. They're going to know how to do sad. They're going to know how to do depressed when they want to, because you should be allowed to be depressed. If you want to. You just don't need to be stuck in it like a jail cell. It could be passing storm.
SAMANTHA: Yup. Well, and, and to echo that, something that I talked with, Kimberley Mitchell about was the fact that, from a judging perspective, she's seeing a number of the, the kids coming up, amateurs, high level amateur competitors, that have taken. Other routines, other, other high professional, other great routines. And I've just taken everything, including those emotional cues. So it doesn't read as authentic. It doesn't read as believable. It's someone else's wink at someone else's smile at someone else's attitude on this other dancer. Okay. I think finding, learning how to find that authenticity and tap into it and understand it and then harness it and projected out is definitely something that, is tough to teach.
And it's tough to understand on your own. I. Tell a lot of my students, if you want to be a great competitive dancer, I want you to go take a theater class or an improv class, because understanding how to cry on cue or laugh on cue and figure out how to get into that place emotionally for the moment. And then let it go at the end of the class or the end of the scene, or the end of the dance is going to take you so much farther because it is, it is. We don't. In elementary school in our math classes, we aren't talking about, well, how do you feel today? And how can we, how can we improve your mood? And how can you understand those feelings that you, that you have under the surface?
And how can we, how can we address it? I do think you are correct in 100% in saying it's education and then it's, it's. Being educated about what, what the emotions are that you were feeling and then understanding. Okay. Now that I, now that I know now that I'm aware that I'm feeling happy, or now that I'm aware that I'm feeling anger or rage or stress or frustration or sadness, how can I take that thing that I'm feeling and use it in a constructive way or a non-constructive way, if you just. You know, need to vent for a while.
MICHAEL: but you know, the thing is, is that people don't understand that emotions are a tool for us. We are not, we are not, in a position where we are subject to anything. We decide we have a set of filters right inside of us and everything that comes in, we put it through our filters. We made the filters or somebody made them for us. So you probably ought to get on board and figure out how to make your own filters. And once we make those filters, everything that comes out of us was after what we decided it meant. So that means we can decide what everything means, and that takes a whole lot of response-ability.
MICHAEL: And if you don't have that response ability practiced, which, which through my years of coaching dancers, I taught them how to practice it in their dancing. And once they could practice it, it easily carried over into their regular life. We need to know how to practice it, just like everything else so that we can have responseability now with that, it leads us to that emotional mastery and therefore to what, what I called in my book every minute. It's about understanding how to live every minute. And in that is learning how to have the emotion that you'd like to have at the time. You'd like to have it when and for how long, and being able to be live or believe in yourself and be able to be in that moment where every minute mattered.
Right. It doesn't mean you don't, it doesn't mean you don't fix your mistakes and it doesn't mean that you don't focus on planning for the future and preparing. It just means that the most important thing is right now, focusing on right now. And in order to do that, you're going to need to learn to master your emotions because it's part of the game.
You can't just wander around aimlessly, you know,
SAMANTHA: Yeah, I love it. And that's certainly something that I am going to continue working on. Cause I know I need to work on it. And hopefully some of the folks that are listening today, take up the mantle as well. Yeah. quick question from the chat. When will we get more online congresses Congressi?
MICHAEL: great question. we are in the background, you know, contrary to popular belief. This does take a massive amount of work. And so our team is actually, they've actually started into that, probably two or three weeks ago. They started into the next round of preparing for it. And so, you know, if you have. Those of you out there listening. If you have people that you'd like us to include in the Congress, we'd love to hear who you'd like us to include. Obviously we are reaching out to all of the people that we would like to participate in the next round. And I have a great team at dance magic that, is taking care of that they are. They're putting together this amazing Congress and we're excited to bring it to you. So I can't give you the exact date right now, because all of that is, as you know, when you're producing content and creating it's about how quickly you can get it together. And it does take a lot of work. Last time we had 27, professionals that, that joined us on the Congress and it was.
Amazing. We had, I think we had the biggest at that point, the biggest online event for ballroom that's ever happened and the attendance was great. The people loved it. we still went back and took a whole lot of feedback from people about what they'd like more of what they'd like less of. And. The things that we have planned for the next go round are, are kind of ridiculous.
They're going to be super fun. But again, our goal is actually to get on and teach dance lessons. You know, who's doing that really well. Waning is doing that really well. Like you let him do what he's doing really well. What we're going to do is we're going to bring you something that you can't get anywhere else online. Yep. And we're going to improve your ballroom. We're going to improve your life. We are going to improve your world by bringing you some of these amazing pros. So anyway, it's, it's coming along soon. I wish I had a date for you. I really do. But, unfortunately we, we we'll, we'll let you know, it'll be everywhere. As soon as we, as soon as we put it out there, but it is coming and it is in the works and it's being, procured at the moment.
SAMANTHA: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. I, I was, I was one of the people that picked it up last year and thoroughly enjoyed it because it, it, it you're right. It's not. You can't go into it with the mindset of, I'm going to learn how to do a gold syllabus routine at the end of it, because that's not the purpose, it's conversations like this.
It's talking with other individuals in the industry and figuring out, you know, what are, what are those gems that we don't get to hear in a lecture or in a private lesson that is going to. So improve your quality of life, your quality of dancing, your quality of teaching everything. So, yeah, I really enjoyed last year's Congress and I'm looking forward
MICHAEL: Wait till see what we have this year. Our, our premise for this next one is, is pretty sick. And it's a, it's a lot of fun. If you're good, you guys are gonna love it. And, I think, I think my team has out done themselves with, with this next one. It's it's, it's pretty amazing. Like no people aren't gonna want to miss it for sure.
SAMANTHA: Awesome. Well, we will definitely keep an eye out for that. I know that we, we kind of had some technical difficulties in the beginning. Are you good to talk for just a couple more minutes?
SAMANTHA: Excellent. Excellent. So I, I did want to get to the podcast. It would be a little weird to bring a guest on that has a podcast on a podcast and not talk about their show. So, Majic for Life. you refer to the folks that listen and follow as Life-Rs. With a capital R it started back in 2018. today you posted episode 175. Oh my goodness.
MICHAEL: Crazy, right?
SAMANTHA: Yeah. That's awesome. So what's, what's the elevator pitch for the podcast?
MICHAEL: Well, you know, what we're here for is to help people take their life to the next level. We are specifically focused, as I told you earlier on entrepreneurs, which we believe are also dancers. I mean, and so I think it's a great podcast for dancers, but we want to help, entrepreneurs. Find clarity and be able to help them get rid of their internal blocks. I talk a lot about emotion and emotional mastery as we've discussed so far.
And so, anything from motivation to, education in terms of emotional mastery to business principles. And so we talk about all of those. Different ideas and concepts on the podcast. And, you know, I share stories about things that are going on and in our world, that apply to where they're at. and, and that's kind of the short of it.
You know, it obviously we've been around for years. Couple of years now. And, and, it's been a lot of fun. It's been quite the journey and, and for anybody that doesn't create content on a regular basis, it has been, a growth and then experience to go through and, you know, posting, we post three times a week. so there's new content up three times a week. And actually we went back this year and posted all of our. back episodes on YouTube. and so we, we just got caught up with all of our back episodes. So now, we're doing three times a week and we have some people that are maybe requesting us do some live stuff like you're doing here. And, so we might move into that, but, but we really enjoy it. Our team does such a great job. They are amazing. So kudos to them. they do a great job turning around. all of the produce content really quick, and it's a lot of fun. You should come. Listen, you can find it on Apple. You can find it on, anywhere on Google, Google play music or Google play music.
I think it is. You can find out stitchers, Spotify, wherever it is, even on YouTube. If you like YouTube, So it's all out there and, you know, basically, you know, you had mentioned, I call, I call our listeners lifers. They are, they're lifers, they're in it for life. They're in this game for life. And I think at the point when somebody realizes that it's such a big change over, because there are some, some guiding principles that as a lifer, we understand, and one of them is that we must learn ourselves.
Right. It's know thyself, as Socrates said it ages ago, right? Learn yourself. You have to imagine the possibilities you have to kind of get out there and be a dreamer and imagine what could be possible because thank goodness for the Wright brothers. Right? Thank goodness for Einstein and the things he did. Thank goodness for Walt Disney. Cause I love Disneyland. All right. So you have to be able to imagine the possibilities and you have to then free your mind. Why? Because it's so easy to get stuck in the matrix. It's so easy to get stuck in there and believe that my boss made me angry. She made me upset. That thing made me mad. Oh, it's life. That makes me depressed. That's a bunch of bologna. So I'm sorry if I offend you, but it's below me. You have to free your mind. You have to. Go and understand that you are in charge, you are response able for your life. And then at that point, you have to engage your soul. You have to engage your soul. We have to know our emotions. We have to learn our emotions. We have to use our emotions on purpose. If I want to be sad, I need to know how to be sad on purpose. Not on accident, not if the wind blows a certain way, or if somebody comes in and looks at me funny. But because I chose to do that. I chose to feel that way. And that is a journey that we're on to be able to engage our soul. And then lastly, the big R right, you said a capital R that's because that one's huge re presents your experience. You have to learn to re present this experience of life back out to the world. And when you do that, you're putting things through your filters, like we talked about, and then you're representing it to the world.
And so when I taught my dancers, starting. Years and years ago to share their soul. It was because they were learning to re present their experience in their soul. So the audience who happened to be the judges too, and great, give us a marker don't but represent your soul something from the inside out. And so to become a lifer means. That it means that very specifically, that took me years to figure out and come up with. But as soon as it came together, I went, Oh my gosh, that is exactly it. I am a lifer. And the people that I'm teaching are lifers and the people that are on this journey to become better, take their life to the next level, figure out business and life and dance and athletics and the things that they're doing.
They have to become a lifer and get on that journey to take it to the next level. So that's, that's what a lifer is. I'm a little passionate about it. So sorry if I chased some people away, but I am passionate about it and I love the idea. So all you lifers out there if you know your life, or if I just said that and it resonated within your soul coming, follow us at the podcast, come and listen to the stuff we're doing and check it out.
We've got so many cool things for you out there because our goal is TATP. Think about the people, you know.
SAMANTHA: I know I love it. I love it. This is something that I, I, in my own life. I'm on a journey to discover and grow and hone. And it's something that I try to convey to my students as much as possible. It's a conversation that I've had with so many amazing people in the industry. It's not just dance, it's not just business. It's a holistic approach to you as a person to you and your community, to the world larger. If you can. Find a way to put, as Molly King put, if you can find a way to put all of the pie, the pie pieces together to make a circle and to make a whole circle, then everything moves. So much better and you will be so much farther ahead in life by tapping into your emotions, to critically thinking about the information that you are absorbing to looking at your, the sphere of influences around you.
Are they positive? Are they negative? If they are negative, what can you do about it? Honing your craft, like you said, Focusing time and effort on your education and, and marketing and business and goal setting and all of that. It all fits together to make a better quality of life for you and those around, you
MICHAEL: For sure.
Well, and, and the information is out there. There's no doubt. And it's been around. And what I'd like to think that I've done up to this point is now consolidated it and put it into a fashion that's a bit more consumable, and, and going to help you speed up your journey. and, so hopefully we can help you do that.
And that's, that's our goal, right? We want to be able to bring this information out there in a, in a unique way and bring it to you in such a way that, that it resonates with you and that it, it finds its way into your heart so that you can do something with it right away. And that's our goal. Right. So, yeah,
SAMANTHA: I think that's fantastic.
Well, thank you so much, Michael, for coming on and talking all about your amazing projects, your amazing, mindset and a life philosophy. I could probably talk to you for just hours on end, but I know you've probably got things to do with your day, so I won't keep you.
MICHAEL: We'll have to do it again sometime
SAMANTHA: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Orem and salt Lake city are not that far apart. So, so we will, we will find an excuse to chat again soon.
MICHAEL: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me and good luck with your future adventures.
SAMANTHA: I'd like to thank Michael Johnson for being our guest. On today's episode, you can find his book at everyminutebook.com.
If you'd like to learn about lessons or more information about his studio, you can find that at dancemajicmindset. Dot com. If you're interested in his podcast, you can find the Majic for Life podcast, everywhere podcasts are available. And if you are an entrepreneur that would like to take your game to the next level, you can find out more information by joining his Facebook group at MindsetSolutions.
I've been your host, Samantha from Love Live Dance. You can find this and all of our other podcast episodes at ballroomchat.com and you can follow us on social media at ballroomchat across all platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you are interested in finding out more about lessons, either in person or online, you can find that out at lovelivedance.com, and if you ever want to be part of the conversation live as we're recording these podcasts, you can find that over at the Love Live Dance YouTube page.
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