Sammy is an attention to detail aficionado from the land down under who’s been with Fitspot from the very beginning. With a BA in fine arts from the University of Miami, she’s a dancer, an actor and a nationally certified Pilates instructor who brings a blend of grit and imagination to the zillions of tasks that confront every startup. While she wears many hats at Fitspot, doing everything from sketching app screens to managing the customer experience, she can’t leave the house without her Akubra.
Shantel: Hi. We're so excited to have Sammy with us today. Sammy welcome to the show.
Sammy: Hi. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Shantel: Yeah of course. We are excited to dive deep into what makes you imagine more, and your journey. Can you tell the listeners all about your company and how you got started, to kick it off?
Sammy: Sure. I'm the co-founder and COO of Fitspot. We help companies create more active workplaces, by providing on-site wellness programing. We cover everything from biometric screenings, to meditation classes. Kickboxing classes, has also been a really big hit. Through to educational workshops on financial wellness, or how to best manage diets through holiday season. Whatever tickles employee's fantasies, we do it on-site for you.
Shantel: That's amazing. So you provide the trainers, they come to the facility themselves? So everyone comes to you?
Sammy: Everything is done on-site. We provide the trainers and the equipment, so you don't have to lift a finger. The whole point with Fitspot is to be your external wellness coordinator.
Shantel: That's great. We have had some offline conversations about when you initially started, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it was a little bit more B2C-focused initially, right?
| THE BEGINNING |
Sammy: Yeah. We did launch as a B2C mobile app, similar to Uber or Lyft, we were the "on-demand personal trainers". You press a button and your trainer comes to your door with all the equipment. That was awesome. We were in the heat of the on-demand space. However, as we started to learn more about our space, and most importantly our customers, we saw that people really wanted us to start bringing this wellness experience to their offices, to offer it to their employees. There was a period where we were kind of in this inbetween phase, but now we're really focused on the B2B side. The B2C still exits, you can download it, book sessions, that's great. However, the B2B is where we're really focused at the moment.
Shantel: What started this passion and this company? Was it a personal experience, an opportunity that you saw?
Sammy: Yeah, so I'm a certified Pilates instructor. My co-founder Jon, who's also my boyfriend, which is great. I always feel like I want to mention that, because it helps a lot. He's also a certified trainer. We started recognizing an opportunity in the market with training, where connecting trainers to clients is quite difficult. Usually you go to a gym, you look on the trainer bulletin board to find this trainer, or it's word of mouth. There just didn't seem to be a centralized marketplace for trainers, so that's how the B2C app came into play. But then once we started digging deeper into the B2B opportunity, no one sends trainers, wellness experts, chefs, onsite to companies. We really wanted to make that as easy as possible, being as I think we all spend the most of our time at work anyway, so why not bring the wellness to the workplace.
Shantel: That's great. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur, or personal trainer?
Sammy: I definitely knew that I didn't want to be a Pilates instructor forever. I'm not hating on that. I think it's a wonderful skill, however for me personally, it wasn't something that I always wanted to do for the rest of my life. I think there's many different sides to my brain, and there's one creative side where things like being a Pilates trainer, the acting in music theater, kind of more of my background, gets to be fulfilled. But then the other side of my brain is the business side, and unfortunately those don't really get to marry all the time. Until really, Fitspot came around, where I get to get the wellness side in there, and then I also get to run a business, and strategize, and brainstorm. All of those things that I really enjoy doing.
Shantel: That's so exciting. Can you tell the listeners a little bit about the breakdown, and your role, and Jon's role, and how you guys as you were collaborating and forming this business, figure it out, who would be best suited in which role?
| BUSINESS PARTNER BOYFRIEND |
Sammy: Everyone says, "Oh gosh. You know, how can you possibly work with your boyfriend? Isn't that miserable? You must never not talk about work." I'm like, "I guess it would be if we didn't get along, or if we had similar strengths." I think the best thing about our dynamic is that we're very clear with where we stand with one another. Jon is extremely good with the financial side. He comes from a finance background. He worked seven years on Wall Street, so that's really helpful. He's great with the sales process. He's really into the strategy and setting up process with sales. He's great at fundraising. That's something that Jon is like, "Hey. This is what I'm good at. I know I'm good at it. I'm naturally gonna to that line." And I'm more like operations. The day-to-day, making sure the trains run on time, making sure that trainers are onboarded properly through to customer service, through to handling relationships with our marketing agency, PR. That's really where my forte lies. Both of us just establishing that from the get-go, makes it incredibly easy. It's not like we don't cross-pollinate, we definitely do, because we need to know what's happening around all aspects of our business. But being really clear with what are your strengths, where are mine, stick in our lanes, and keep it moving.
Shantel: It sounds like both of you came into this business very self-aware of strengths and talents. Did you do any outside StrengthsFinder tests, or anything to dive even deeper into that? Or has it just naturally evolved into, "Okay, you know, I've learned that I'm better at this, so I'll take the lead on it"?
Sammy: Yeah. I think that's what's really difficult about starting your own business, is that you're not completely aware of what you're capable of. Maybe it's just me, sometimes I doubted myself along the process, and I realized that I actually have some really awesome skills, that maybe Jon doesn't have, and Jon has really awesome skills that I don't have. We both learned as the company progressed, but also both of us receive professional coaching. We're all learning how to become better leaders within the company. That's been something that's been really beneficial for both of us, because we both realize that in order to be the best that we can be, we need someone with more experience to come in and help us grow into better leaders.
Shantel: That's amazing. Do you meet one-on-one with these personal development coaches, or together, or as a full team? I'd love to hear more about that. That's really interesting.
Sammy: We meet one-on-one. It's better that way, because the things that I want to work on are very different than what Jon wants to work on. As a team, we've actually budgeted it into our next round of financing, so the entire team can receive one-on-one coaching too, because we also think it's really important for everyone to experience that type of professional growth. It also really turns into personal growth as well. But I'm a number one supporter of that. I always believe that you can always keep improving, keep growing, and it's tools as well. Just things that you can add to your toolbox, that you wouldn't necessarily learn just on your own.
Shantel: I'll have to look into that. Is this someone locally, or programs that you use nationally?
Sammy: We work with someone named L.J., she's based in San Francisco. She works with startups at our particular stage, so series A, Series B funding. She can obviously, she could work with anyone at any stage, but her focus and where her expertise really lies is in these key moments where you need to be quick with decisions, and you need to be on your game at all the times you're exhausted. So how do you really make time for yourself, and time for your professional career? It's been really helpful. She's virtual. We do virtual sessions, but sometimes she is in Atlanta, and we meet up and do face-to-faces. I'll intro you.
Shantel: Yeah. I would love that. Speaking of making time for yourself, and being on your A game, especially when you are leading an organization and people are looking at you, what do you do to recharge? How do you find time in your day? Or do you just make the time in your day? Can you tell us all about your routine?
| TIME TO MEDITATE |
Sammy: Sure. I'm not very good at that. This is something that I've been working on personally, is the ability to just let things go. I think when you run your own business, that's nearly impossible. I don't want to say it's important, but it's very hard not to think about it all the time. So Jon and I have actually actively been trying to work on this, because we came to the realization, I can't believe that we really launched this in 2014, and 2017 we can to the realization that this is a marathon, it's not a sprint. We were working like it was a sprint, and that's okay. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could work our butt offs, and we still do. We work extremely hard. But we also weren't balancing the other side of our lives, which is the personal side, the social side, I've been really trying to work on that. So that for me, involved, I used to do a quick 45-minute workout in the morning, a 30-minutes workout in the morning, because I wanted to be everyone. I wanted to get X, Y, Z, done before I walked into the office. I realized, I can do that stuff when I get into the office. So how about I take that full 60 minutes in my day. I get a good workout in, in whatever I feel like doing that morning. Then taking the time to actually shower, and relax, and enjoy that time. Then come into the office. We still get in at 9:00, 9:30. But instead of feeling so rushed, my approach has been a little bit different. Jon and I have both been meditating more, something that's been kind of new in our lives, so we wanted to give it a go. It's been great. It's just 10 minutes of your time a day. We find, you've got to set a time. They like it to be more routine, or they rather advise it to be more routine. So we're setting time aside to also just meditate, to breathe.
Shantel: So have you been doing that in the morning, or afternoon, the meditating?
Sammy: I find mornings to be best. Usually after our stand ups. So each morning we have a stand up where the whole team gets together and we just review what we're doing that day. We amp everyone up. And then once my emails have been done, I step away for 10 minutes, and I use that time to medicate and just focus.
Shantel: That's great. I'm glad you said that you kind of start your day, and then you go to that, because I've personally been struggling with I want to workout in the morning, and I want to mediate. But you see 10 emails, or however many emails come through, and it's hard to then unplug and actually do that. But it was refreshing to hear that, you are gonna tackle your emails, but then you still are gonna spend that time before you move onto something else.
Sammy: Yeah. It's not easy, trust me, especially if you've read an email that you're like, "Oh I could brainstorm to my response to that during my meditation." Don't do that. It's a practice.
Shantel: How long have you been meditating, and do you feel different?
Sammy: I really started in the last few months, so let's say the last three months. I feel, and I think this is probably in conjunction with taking the more of the, it's a marathon not a sprint mentality that's been coming in. I do feel more in control. I do feel more settled, and that's something that I haven't felt in a while. When I say in control, I just mean things would fall into place. I can only do as much as I can do. I cannot control everyone else, but I can at least control my circumstances and what I do. And more settled in the sense of just being more grounded. I think it's very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running your business, and you're in the weeds all the time. You don't really come up for air to look at the big picture of what you're doing. I think that has helped me, meditation, has helped me recognize the big picture a little bit more. And I forget the cool business that we started. I always said, until I talk about it, I'm like, "Oh man, you actually have a really cool business." But day-to-day, I think like, "Oh man. Did we schedule this? Has that been organized? What about this?" It allows you to appreciate it a lot more.
Shantel: I love that. I think that at least from a lot of the entrepreneurs that I've spoken to reflecting, and taking that time to sit back and pat yourself on the back sometimes, and really get excited about the company, and the culture, and the growth. It's hard to do when, yes, you feel like you're in the weeds, and there's a million things that you can be doing, but I think setting that time to reflect is so important. And I'm glad you touched on that, because it's a good reminder for me, and I'm sure plenty of the listeners.
| CELEBRATE THE SMALL VICTORIES |
Sammy: Yeah, and it's also about these small wins. Hey, I mean call a win whatever you want it to be. It could be that you answered all of your emails, that you closed a deal, or that you onboarded someone new onto your team. It's celebrating those little things, I've become better and better at doing that, because it just makes you feel better. I know it's not the big win, whatever that may be for your company, or your goals, or objectives, but it's something. I feel like those little somethings all add up. You feel a bit better about it.
Shantel: I think we should create a Slack channel, or some community something or another, that we can kind of just brag on the little wins, but then all congratulate each other, because it's tough, having a business, and running a business. And I'm sure you can relate, some days are harder than others. But it's nice to have a community of people around you. We'll have to start some text thread, Sammy, I think.
Sammy: I support it. Let's do it.
Shantel: Is there anything that comes to mind that you wish you would have known when you first started the company?
| MANAGE EXPECTATIONS |
Sammy: Yeah. A lot of things. So real talk, get yourself a good lawyer. I mean that, just because your best friend's, sister's boyfriend's, tennis partner, while that's a great referral initially, may not be the right fit for your business. Not only that, you just want to make sure that you're in really good hands, and that all of your Is are dotted and all of your Ts are crossed. I'm not saying that we've made a fatal error on that end, but I think that we could have and should have probably gotten really great legal representation from the get-go. That's one thing. What else did I wish that I ... So many things. I think honestly going back to, there is a really unrealistic expectation that comes along with staring your own business, that you're going to solve this massive problem that everyone in the world will want solved. That means that you're gonna acquire millions of customers, and make billions of dollars, and it's gonna be this crazy growth. In 30 days you're gonna reach X goals, and that's it. You're gonna be acquired, and you're gonna be sold, or you're gonna go public for billions of dollars, right? I think that while that's awesome and that happens to few companies, it doesn't really happen to every company. I think being more realistic with that, has been something that's been hard to come by being a business owner, because I read all of these success stories of all these other companies that have it big before we have, or got their series A funding way before, behind the times, are we to late? But it's just being okay with where you are, and where your business is at today is probably where it needs to be, and being okay with that. If you grew too quickly, maybe it wasn't the right time. If you're going at your own pace, it's probably the right time. I think just accepting that. If I wish I learned when I was younger that this is a business. A business needs to grow. And business needs to take time to grow. It's not gonna be just flash in a pan. Now that I recognize that, I think I'm a lot more confident with the direction that we're moving.
Shantel: I love that. I think that especially with the digital age, it's difficult not to compare. You hear of these businesses being sold or that business being acquired, or getting that big dea. You want to get there. I actually just had a really interesting conversation with another podcast guest. He honed in on the, why you want to get there. And really actually spending some time to reflect on that, of "Do you really want to grow your business to 100 employees?" Will that make you happier? Because if that's where you're going and you'll get there, are you gonna be able to sit back at the end of the day and say, "Oh yeah. That's exactly what I wanted." I think adding in that why to that component is a really good point, so I'm glad you mentioned that.
| AN ARTICLE A DAY |
Sammy: Yeah, and I don't know about you, but I get stuck down these rabbit holes. I'm on, it basically curates a bunch of articles for you. I follow entrepreneurship, or business, staring your own business. I start reading article after article, like Five Best Tips to Run Your Successful Startup. How These Five Successful Startups Got to Here. I just start going insane. I'm like, "Why am I doing this to myself," because all of the rules, or all of the points that they mentioned, I may not have done yet, or I'm probably not going to do, because it's not suitable for my particular business. But then of course, I start questioning, what if I should be doing this? Everyone else did it and that's how they're successful. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. I think it's good to read them, but I've learned, me and L.J., so going back to coaching, she's like, "Okay. How about this, limit yourself to like one article a day. Take what you need from it and then just let the rest go." And I'm like, "Okay fine. We'll compromise."
Shantel: That is a good little nugget of information, so take one piece of advice and let the rest go. I have a planner, and in the back it's just all the running things of all the other things that I need to be doing. I'm sure sometimes the team looks at me with wide eyes, like I'm bonkers. Like, "What are you doing bringing these 10 new things we need to be doing right now to the team?" I'm glad that I've got Margot and operations to hold me back and say, "All right, like let's calm down-"
Sammy: Take it step-by-step.
Shantel: Yep. Speaking of being bombarded with a lot, and a lot of ideas, and a lot of inspiration, what are some favorite tools or techniques to stay organized?
Sammy: Naturally I'm super type A, so not only do I like to organize my own life, but if I could I would organize every single team member's life. One tool that we use for product, that's been really beneficial is Trello. I'm sure you're aware of Trello, but it visualized everything for me. Each card that is written on Trello, it's nearly like post-its on a page. You move from one screen to the next. That to me, there's something just oddly satisfying about moving that stupid post-it from one column to the next. But there's a reason why they invented it, because it must work, and it must work really well. Trello's really beneficial for that. My calender keeps me on time. I set my reminders for like 15 minutes out, 10 minutes out, and 5 minutes out. There are times it's incredible, with the 15 minute out, I'll run and grab a drink, and then I'll stop and chat with someone. By the time I get back to my desk it's already the five minute out, so I try to keep those really consistent. Lists. And lists, finally, and list lists each morning, or the night before the day, I write lists, I cross those bad boys off each day. That's helpful.
Shantel: So we haven't used Trello yet, and I'd love to dive into your experience a little bit more on that if you don't mind sharing some of the columns, just so that I can visualize. You have a task, what are the columns? Is it like to-do, and then completed? Or like a-
Sammy: It depends how thorough want to be. Mine's like five long, so it really depends. On the far left-hand side, I have my inbox. That is just ideas that come to mind. That can be anything, just an inbox like your email inbox, just a whole bunch of ideas or thoughts. Then I start moving them over columns based on their deliverables, or when I do complete them if they need to be completed, or if it's just thoughts, then they can stay in the inbox until I tackle them. Then the next column to the right of that would be more high priority, and then medium priority and low priority. Then it would be in-review, if it's something that needs to be reviewed by the team or by Jon, and then it would be completed. It really depends on what works best for you. But I know Jon just has a list of to-do's, and then completed. But that could just be a boy thing, or it could just be how he best processes his to-do list. But I like mine to be a little bit more prioritized, so I know that say Friday, I could start tackling the more low priority, versus Monday morning, I know high priority needs to come first.
Shantel: Neat. That's great. I might have to give that a shot. I'm using this really great tool, a life planner right now, and categorizing in urgent and not urgent. But those visual stickies maybe is something I need to add.
Sammy: Yeah, it's a lot of fun. Check it out. You know what, it doesn't float everyone's boats. I speak to a couple people on our team and they're like, "Nope. I need lists. Like I, Slack me the list, I cannot see them. I need to like have a list one-by-one. No post-its, nothing." Okay. So that works for them.
Shantel: Speaking of that low priority column, what is one thing you take off your plate today if you could, what would that be?
| HIRE SLOW, FIRE QUICK |
Sammy: That's a good question. I think hiring. It is crucial, and it is mandatory that Jon and myself both get involved with that, but it takes up so much time. Our motto is, "Hire slow but fire quick," right? Because you really want to take the onboarding process very seriously. As a startup, whoever you bring into your team is crucial at this stage. So we really do take it seriously, and we have many rounds of interviews. We do some fun things, interactive things as well, session with candidates, depending on the particular role that they're coming in for. But it really takes a lot of my energy, and a lot of my time, so if it was like another Sammy, I would probably ask them to solely focus on hiring, looking for new great potential candidates.
Shantel: I 100% feel the exciting pain, maybe is something we can call it.
Shantel: It's exciting to grow, but it's not fun to do that piece.
Sammy: Yeah. You talk to so many people, and everyone's a great fit until you get to a certain stage. And then everyone starts to roll at some point and the business. It's a lot. It's a lot. And I think about it often, so that takes up a bit of time.
Shantel: Flip side, what would be one thing you'd love to do more of everyday?
Sammy: Not work-related, I would love to swim. I'm from Australia. If I could be in the ocean every day, I would be so incredibly happy. I'm already incredibly happy. That would be the cherry on top. Work-related, so the operational side of the business is what i really love, because obviously it's organizing everything and staying on top of everything. But the relationships that we have with our clients, so we have account managers to handle that, but I truly, truly love interacting with our clients, because they are so honest with their feedback. To get a little note from someone to say like, "Oh my gosh, we just had the session with Lauren. She was incredible. Everyone loved it. Thank you so much for making me look good at my job." Because it's all about making everyone at the office feel great, and really enjoy being there. Those types of interactions, if I could get a trillion of those a day, that would make me extremely happy.
Shantel: Well that's great. Sammy I've got two more questions to wrap it up. The first one being, what is next on the horizon for you?
Sammy: For me that would be building out Fitspot a little bit more. There's some key positions that we do not have yet, because we hadn't needed them yet. I'm really looking forward to onboarding a couple of new additions. In particular, we've just started with the different marketing agency, and they're awesome, so I'm really excited to engage with them and really get things moving on that end. But with me in the role within Fitspot, what I'm most excited about is getting out of the weeds, and doing more of the big picture. Now that we've hired some wonderful people to help take over a lot of responsibilities, the day-to-day responsibilities, for me to take a step back and to really think long-term Fitspot, and what is the end goal of this, our potential partnerships with other vendors. I'm so excited to dedicate a lot of time towards furthering this kind of wellness hub that Fitspot will become.
Shantel: That's very exciting. Well we can't wait to follow along. Last question, how can people learn more about Fitspot? How can they get in touch with you if they have more questions?
Sammy: Sure. Our website is fitspotwellness.com. Our Instagram is @fitspotwellness. Email-wise, it depends on what you're interested in. If you want to chat to me, my email is Sammy@fitspotwellness.com. However, if you think that your company, or your business, or your colleagues would enjoy having something like Fitspot come on-side, through our website there's an intake form that you fill out and we run you through an awesome demo. We get to know you really well. We send out surveys. It's a really interactive experience. So jump on the website and check it out. If it's something that you're interested in, then we will get in touch.
Shantel: Great. Well thanks so much Sammy for being on the show. We really appreciate it.
Sammy: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.