Hi there! Thank you for visiting my website.
A bit about me… I’m a bit of a storyteller by nature. I love to write and speak about topics that help people reach their potential in life. My passion is sharing information that helps us understand how to love ourselves and the world around us more and how to lead ourselves and influence others around us better.
In my career, I am a business leader with more than a decade of experience in the fitness industry. I have an empowering approach and can-do attitude to leadership, which has helped shape award winning businesses and grow other leaders in the fitness industry across the US and New Zealand.
By taking risks and following the concept of ‘empower people and be the change’ I’ve been fortunate to find success training fitness professionals across the globe, opening multi-million dollar fitness clubs and rebuilding a failing business that suffered a deadly natural disaster.
My partner inspired me to create this website to share my passion for leadership and business philosophies in hopes of empowering others to be better leaders too. I believe great leaders don’t create followers, great leaders create more leaders.
My purpose is simply to inspire everyone to be the best leaders they can be for the people they influence, whether that be at work or at home. My dream for this Blog is to give you fresh ideas that renew your thinking and positively influences you to better serve others around you.
So please read as much as you want and stay as long as you like on this website, and hopefully you will find some information that is useful to your situation. I believe the thoughts and ideas on this blog can transcend all leaders in all situations, both in everyday life and business.
I will be adding articles to this website frequently so, to stay updated, sign up for my free e-newsletter.
I love stories. Everyone’s got a story! Mine is about a journey that’s taken me to the other side of the world, revealed my true self, built tribes, pulled hope from the ashes of natural disaster and experienced love and inspiration from so many along the way. It’s been on this journey that I’ve learned some great lessons – lessons that are practical, philosophical and, sometimes, way outside the box. And I’d like to share those with as many people who care to listen. I’m still learning and as long as I’m learning I’ll keep sharing.
One of the biggest places I learned lessons of leadership was over 3 years ago when I moved my life to the South Island of New Zealand to re-open a fitness club that was shut down because the city it was in was hit by a massive earthquake that destroyed most the the central business district. 1,000’s of buildings and businesses around it were shut down and cordoned off after the ‘big one’ hit in Feb 2011. Over 115 people even died that day in the building right next to our club. Most people swore they would never step foot in that ‘red zoned’ area again. Only challenge was that our building was earthquake proofed 18 months prior and was the only one in sight still standing and able to function.
The club closed for 14 months while cranes and dump trucks worked to clear the city of as much rubble as possible to make it safe enough to re-enter. That’s when I moved down… The job was to re-open the once central city club. Re-inspire the staff, rebuild the culture, and somehow get scared people to want to go out of their way in their new daily lives to drive into the broken city for exercise. Oh and most of them were also still dealing with insurance claims for their broken homes and some still without basic necessities like plumbing. The business had fallen about $2million in the red over this time too. It was a big hole to climb out of and one that taught me A LOT of priceless life and business lessons.
Beating the Odds
Beating the odds… well to be honest, in it’s simplest form the only way to beat the odds in the face of adversity is to practice and teach love, respect and care.
Tribes are built on culture, and culture can only grow stronger if there’s trust and cooperation in every interaction. I believe that trust can only be established when we practice respect and care.
My strategy is always the same, start with your people first, not the money or the customers even, start with your people first and the rest will naturally grow. If your people feel valued, safe, respected and cared for, they will pass that onto your customers and your business will grow stronger and stronger. Focus on the money or the customers and ignore your people, you will likely fail fast.
So if you want to beat the odds or just grow a business from good to great, the simple truth lies in every interaction you have with your people. It takes hundreds of positive interactions of love, respect and care to build trust and establish a strong culture that rocks, but it takes just one blow up or negative interaction that is undeserved to break that apart. It’s as fragile as a house of cards, treat it that way.
An American in New Zealand
So my story is still one in the making, but a lot has happened in my career to lead me to this place… I’m an American but have lived in New Zealand since 2009 and am a permanent resident here now.
In the States I graduated university with a double major in Business Management/Marketing and Communication Studies and I began my journey as journalist.
As a reporter, the education I gained early in my career in communication skills, writing and ethics set a rock-solid foundation for my business career to come. I reported on politics, plane crashes, court cases… you name it, I probably wrote about it. I even had the privilege of interviewing Barack Obama twice and John McCain once when they were Senators.
During this time there was one thing my mother said to me that I’ve carried with me ever since: “Do what you love and the money will come. But follow the money and you’ll never find true success/happiness.” Wise words to live by! Little did I realize how often these words would guide me on my path.
I wasn’t long into my career as a journalist that I got a bit stir crazy to fulfill my inner athlete. As a former University fastpitch softball captain I missed the physical fitness as well as the social fun of working out in a group. This led me to fall in love with group fitness, and I became an instructor. It was a pretty good gig actually, I got paid to get fit and the cash helped supplement my average wages at the paper.
I loved teaching fitness and positively influencing people to get fit and healthy. I was absolutely addicted and hungry to learn more and get better at the craft. On a trip to California to learn more progams to teach, I met a Kiwi business leader from the company that created my beloved programs – Les Mills. We ended up hitting it off and she ended up offering me a role as part of a team starting up one of their first US-based distribution agencies in Chicago.
So, following my mother’s wise words to follow what I loved and trust that the money would come, I accepted the role and set off on a new adventure.
I dropped journalism and moved my life to Chi-town (AKA Chicago). My role was Training and Event Coordinator. That meant for a 12-state region I coordinated all of the instructor initial module trainings and quarterly events. It also meant helping to create systems and procedures for the new agency that are still in use today.
I grew fast in that role and in less than a year was considered at the top of my game. Trainers loved to work for me because I was organized, treated them well and paid them on time. The events were a hit too. Pretty simple I thought: treat people right and they’ll want to work for you. Hmmm… good lesson, I’ll remember that.
At this stage the largest client for us in the US was a large gym chain called Gold’s Gym International. I met one of their most prominent business leaders and gym owners at an event I was running (who is still one my dearest friends to this day). She was presenting at the event but, for some reason, wasn’t on the food allowance list (not that she needed it, she had plenty of money). But I thought: do right by her and get her the cash anyway, even if it was my own. Turns out it was the best move of my life, she was so impressed that not long after she offered me a job.
I was shocked when they asked me to move to Dallas, Texas, to work for them; again creating a new dual role as Manager of Training and Group Fitness Manager for their new Dallas-based clubs. I soon realized I had a knack for setting up a department and building systems. I had done it for the agency and now found myself doing it again here. Hmmm… maybe I’m a builder – I do love it! I’ll remember that too.
I had a great opportunity there to advance my group fitness instructor skills and audition to be on the National Trainer and Presenter Team. Thousands of instructors applied, but only a handful of us made it to Trainer Boot Camp. I was one of a few girls in my group. It was a competitive few days of stress, preparation and performance. But in the end I walked in front of that judges’ panel and received a unanimous ‘yes’!
BOOM! I’d made it to a national level! That was an exciting moment! Little did I realize that it was an integral part of the bigger picture for me.
A couple of years later I had the opportunity to attend a Trainer Summit in New Zealand. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t sure where New Zealand was on the map – somewhere down under – and it was then I first fell in love with this country. I remember thinking: this is a place I want to spend some serious time in. But after a great trip, I headed home to the US.
Shortly after, my wonderful boss at Gold’s gave her resignation to pursue greater things and I was promoted to role as National Director, overseeing group fitness for 62 fitness clubs across the US, managing 36 managers and 2,000 instructors, as well as business coaching for franchise clubs who requested help. It was an amazing role in which I learned priceless lessons about people leadership as well as business management on a mass scale.
But I was still young and hungry for more life experience, so I decided to follow my dream and move my life to New Zealand.
Many colleagues were astonished with my decision to leave such a prestigious role to head to a new land and the unknown with no guarantees. But I love taking risks and I felt more alive than ever embracing the challenge.I worked for a short time as a contractor writing instructor training programs for Les Mills’ international office. I was only planning to stay for a short time, but they liked my work enough to offer me another role as Business Consultant to the Global Sales department. I enjoyed this work because I got to work on projects that helped US-based gym chains. It was at that time that the Les Mills’ New Zealand-based gym chain announced building a new club in the heart of the Auckland CBD and a few people pushed me to apply.
At the time I didn’t think much of it, but I ended up applying and getting the job. That’s when the real fun in NZ began! I was part of a team planning an $8 million club; my contribution was setting up the operational systems as well as hiring and prepping for opening.
When we opened our doors on April 2011, we only had 150 members due to a failed online only pre-sale the company had chosen to pilot. So I had big pressure and a big job ahead of me. It was a massive job but we became the fastest growing company in history reaching 3,250 members in our first 12 months!
As life would have it, while I had been chipping away at that club, the devastating earthquake struck our South Island sister club, where I eventually moved and helped re-open that club. As I mentioned before, I spent nearly 3 years there with that awesome team and we successfully got the club back on it’s feet with more members and workouts that ever before even under the circumstances of the broken city around it.
Just recently I accepted another role to open another new club in Auckland. I have moved back up to the North Island and we opened our doors in November 2015. We rapidly smashed all KPIs in our first financial year, even winning the Best Innovation award at the 2016 Newmarket Business Awards.
And the best leadership role is about to come in 5 weeks when we become parents for the first time to a baby boy!
I’m not sure what the next chapter will hold, but I know all the lessons I’ve learnt along the way I will use to their fullest to be the best leader for others that I can be. I hope in reading this Blog it helps you to do the same in your life. Thanks for reading!
Enjoy the site, and keep coming back to check it out because I’ll be adding to it. Sign up for the eNewsletter here to receive new material. Thanks for reading!