Nicholas Zappas is a successful entrepreneur and the founder of Peaceful Warrior Jiu Jitsu. After graduating high school Nicholas attended California State University Fullerton where he obtained a degree in business before earning an MBA at Pepperdine University In Malibu, California. Peaceful Warrior Jiu Jitsu Fitness is a full gym, Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai school that trains first responders in various self-defense tactics. As a result-oriented community, Nicholas takes pride in helping individuals become the best version of themselves.
In his free time Nicholas is a mental and physical health advocate for first responders. As an active member of his local community he is also a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at Dana hills high school. In his free time he enjoys spending time surfing, snowboarding, and scuba diving.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I was able to come into a property in Dana Point that was empty. It was Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo studio prior to this, so it made sense to keep it in the fitness realm. We opened a private training facility with jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. I also like starting businesses.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My day typically starts at 6:00 AM answering phone calls and emails. Usually, I go to the gym after that to check on trainers and employees and make sure classes are running smoothly. I have an office in Tustin where I usually meet with my business partner, and we go over meetings, hiring, and interviews. I’m back to the gym by 5:00 PM for the evening class where the supervisor teaches, then I’m home by 9:00 at night.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I usually write them out, draw up a plan of action or business plan, and if I think it’s financially smart to do, I execute it.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I like how the world of jiu jitsu is growing and becoming more of a mainstream sport. There’s a Jiu Jitsu World League, International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, and competitions around the country and around the world. It’s a sport where the athletes can actually make a living from it.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
Keep a very good calendar. I still have a daily planner that I use a pen to write in, and that allows me to keep my schedule straight.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do better in high school. Take studies more seriously and focus less on popularity and athletics.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
That great ideas don’t always lead to successful business ventures. Owning and operating a business requires extensive planning and success will never happen overnight.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Consistency is key with everything, but whatever your trajectory is, don’t be afraid to change to meet the current market demand. What might be most popular today might be different tomorrow, and you have to be able to adjust your business model to continue making money.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Customer service is key. In such a digital age, being able to still meet with customers face to face is a dying art in the ability to communicate. Providing a quality product at a reasonable rate or even below market rate is what people want. Everyone wants value, especially with the state of the economy in the world, so I think providing a better service is one of the ways that I’ve been able to maintain my gym and stay up and running through COVID.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
I owned a water treatment business with a business partner, and I put too much faith in him and let him get too much control. That was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I should have been more involved with the company and had more oversight on finances and where the money was going.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Storage units would be a great business to go into.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use Google Docs and Sheets regularly so we can all access the information.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
The Art of War. It not only applies to combat, but to business as well. Knowing your competition, how you view your competition, and what it takes to get ahead, and win are very important in business. It’s all about strategy.
What’s your favorite quote?
It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.
- Execute ideas that are financially sound.
- Whatever you do, be comfortable with shifting and changing to meet the demands of the market.
- People want a quality product at an excellent value.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.