while our feet are still recovering from our third IDEA world expo, we at fitlosophy wanna take a moment to reflect on the past 3 years – and most importantly take note of all the good. so often we get wrapped in what we have to do and what we still need to accomplish, but like the fitbook preaches, it’s important to reflect on where you started, acknowledge all the little milestones along the way, and then reward accomplishments. so here’s a little trip down memory lane and a reflection on the past 3 brilliant IDEAs – and little lessons we learned from each one. my hope: you can apply these to your goals whether they be in your business or in life.
IDEA #1: vegas baby!
july 8th, 2008. i remember this day like it was yesterday. i ventured out to vegas with our first run of fitbooks which were less than 30 days fresh off the press. with my team of 2 (lani – designer extraordinaire and carlos – director of non-important business) and my mom in tow (because sometimes you just need your mom there!), we nervously set up our booth and i remember feeling absolutely paralyzed with excitement as they announced the doors to the tradeshow were opening. an idea i’d had for almost 3 years and had worked on non-stop for nearly six months after launching the company in january – it was all coming to fruition right in front of my eyes. the product, by the way, that didn’t fare so well through my mba program because somehow my classmates thought i should (and was somehow capable of) creating a super high-tech fitness device that magically burned calories while doing nothing at all. while i appreciated their confidence in my abilities, i believed whole-heartedly in my simple pen and paper concept. i can’t tell you how many times i heard “so, it’s just a book?”. oh but i had more of a vision for fitbook than that. i wanted to create a research-backed concept that was designed so well that someone using it could be successful without needing to understand anything complex. if done right, i knew that it would work because the process behind it was proven if they’d just pick up the pen and use it. and that’s what we did. so that research we needed? it was a sheer blessing that the very same day we launched fitbook in vegas, anxious me with fitbook + our larger-than-life DEMO fitbook!
kaiser permanente released a study on the science behind logging food and activity which was featured on the homepage of msn and yahoo that very same day. talk about good timing! so as the doors opened and trainers, gym owners, and fellow fitness industry professionals poured through the doors all i did was put on a smile and say a little prayer that someone, anyone would love our little fitbook. and they did. positioned in booth #1038, people flocked to our booth saying things like “why didn’t I think of that?” and “did you see the research that came out today?”. it was at that very first IDEA expo where we landed our first sales and even our first corporate wellness program with chevron, a line of business that i’d never even thought of! we added chevron’s logo to the cover of the fitbooks and then provided them with cute little red pedometers which they gave to their employees. that was the birth of our corporate wellness program. the rest of that year brought more wonderful things like landing sport chalet and receiving rave reviews from trainer kim lyons (which was also the beginning of a wonderful friendship!). after 4 long days and 1 fun night (who has HEALTH conventions in VEGAS?), we had officially launched fitbook to the world and brought this little girl’s dream to life.
3 lessons from “brilliant” IDEA #1:
lesson #1: believe in what you’re doing whole-heartedly, even amidst the naysayers. there will always be a better idea, better timing, or a better solution to a problem. but the difference between those people and an entrepreneur, is that you actually do something about it. identify that passion, do your research, then pursue it with all that you are.
lesson #2: be smart enough to learn from your critics and be open to feedback. you may start with a plan or idea but you must be flexible and adapt. stay true to the core of what you, your brand, and your product/service represent and never lose sight of that – but keep your eyes and ears open.
lesson #3: don’t try to be all things to all people. ”when are you coming out with something online or an iphone app?” is something we’ve heard since day one. that doesn’t mean that we never will, but i don’t hesitate for a minute when i explain that research shows that the physical act of writing things down works. know who your customer is – and then do everything to make them happy. innovate, but be careful not to alienate those core customers in the process.
IDEA #2: in the OC
after seeing some major blessings in year 1, we headed to the expo in year 2 a little more confident – especially with it being right in our backyard in anaheim. people were coming up to the booth happy to see us again, wanting to buy fitbooks in bulk, and even saying “oh yeah, i use fitbook!” as though it was a household name. this was the same year that we also celebrated happy 1st birthday fitbook!
fitbook’s first birthday. i remember at the birthday party (yes, i threw fitbook a party – click here for more pics), just looking around our little party and feeling a sense of awe at how much our tiny but mighty team had accomplished in such a short period of time. a true testament to what good things can happen when you blend passion with dedication to something you believe in. and while we were celebrating our first birthday, things were just getting started at fitlosophy. IDEA #2 brought big things: meeting key players in the industry like the CEO of beachbody, mr. p90x himself tony horton, and of course meeting our beloved business partner 24 hour fitness. i often refer to my partner in crime lani (who towers over my mighty little 5’2″ bod) as my “eagle eyes”. as a designer, she always catches the tiniest of details which i love about her. but at IDEA it served us well in other ways. i felt her tug on my live life fit tank top and she said to me: ”ang, there are 2 guys in 24 hour polos and they look important!”. i didn’t hesitate a moment. i grabbed 2 fitbooks and business cards and went right up to them. important they were: the ceo and vice president. i asked for 5m of their time,pitching 24 hour at idea #2
told them that i had something that they needed to see, and gave them my schpeal on why 24 hour needed fitbook. a month later i was on a plane on my way to pitch 6 vp’s at 24 hour. that following december we launched fitbook in 25 locations and online at mystore.24hour.com, where fitbook is the #1 selling accessory behind the bodybugg. [sidenote: we heart 24 hour - amazing people that value entrepreneurship and gave us a shot to prove to them that fitbook would sell!] the year after IDEA #2 brought even more good news with our first mentions in publications like fitness and pregnancy magazine, the launch of fitbook junior, and the oh-so-big inclusion by hungry-girl in her holiday gift guide which went out to nearly 1 million subscribers.
3 lessons from “brilliant” IDEA #2:
lesson #1: create a team that believes in what you’re doing. there are plenty of days where you question yourself, so it’s key to have yourself surrounded by people that are just as passionate and committed to your vision. once you have that team: appreciate them. small companies, especially start-ups, don’t have the funds to always compete with the big guys, but i truly believe that sometimes an email that tells them what a great job their doing or even a shout-out on a team call goes a long way. my team is everything to me – and hopefully they know it. be loyal to them and they will in-turn be loyal and dedicated to a greater goal.
lesson #2: celebrate milestones along the way. yes, a birthday party for a product might seem a bit cheesy, but it’s a way to rally your team together and reflect on all the good things that have happened as a result of all your joint effort. so whether it’s a company anniversary, your first PR coverage, or hitting a revenue goal – take time out to reflect on the good which will energize you to reach the next milestone.
lesson #3: be bold. whether it’s going up to random strangers at tradeshows, cold-calling that ONE customer you really want to land, or launching an edgy marketing campaign (like nike says)…just do it. my tip is this: don’t think about it long enough to talk yourself out of it. good advice that i received some time ago is to always be prepared because you never know when you’re going to be face-to-face with a life/business-changing opportunity. but to that point: even if you’re not 100% prepared (because you never will be) – do it anyway.
IDEA #3: rockin’ LA
third time’s a charm right? stars (literally) aligned this year at the idea expo in LA. leading up to this show fitbook received some TV action so we went into this 4-day, fun-filled, action-packed expo with spiffy new banners, fun new little giveaways, and sportin’ more products – but with fitbook still in the spotlight as our main attraction. at last year’s fitbook junior: for the kiddos!
expo we walked away with a loud and clear message that people wanted our live life fit tanks (which are now on the website because of this!) so sell them we did. it was rather fun seeing random people running around the show advertising for us! the big debut for us this year however was our lil’ guy: fitbook junior! this was actually our first show to launch fitbook junior – great timing since we are celebrating its 1st birthday! we are rather proud since it’s the only product of its kind and happily received rave reviews from expo attendees – even the surgeon general herself! US surgeon general dr.regina benjamin was honored with the idea leadership award – so on the 1st day of the show she was meandering around the expo, taking classes, and checking things out. my team spotted her. i grabbed a fitbook and fitbook junior and marched right up to her and told her why fitbook junior is essential to the lives of our little americans in the fight to end childhood obesity. after chatting for 5m and flipping through how the products work, she said she was going to be meeting with the department of education and thought they should see it. (fingers crossed!)
she came back by our booth – and i gave her a live life fit tank. how exciting to think that fitbooks and our tank tops are traipsing around the white house! [side note: she doesn't endorse the fitbook or fitbook junior...she can't!...just want to clarify so i don't get a knock on the door by legal folks.] highlights for us this year were seeing the rave reviews and positive response to fitbook junior with potential projects with after-school programs, children’s nutrition organizations, and more school districts – right in my own backyard of orange county! with the media spotlight on childhood obesity lately, i’m hopin’ and prayin’ that the powers-that-be see the value in and effectiveness of this first-ever fitness + nutrition journal for kids. [a recent pilot program found that 75% of children reported back that using fitbook junior made them more aware of making healthy eating choices and being more active!] aside from presenting fitbook junior to the world like a proud mama this year, i yet again learned more on how fitbook is being used. while we have sold fitbooks to a few colleges for use in nutrition programs, i never really saw this as a large market. that is until i spoke with 4 universities at the show this year that came to us wanting to integrate it as THE textbook for their classes. yet again new ideas from our customers – and now i have the action item of creating a teacher’s kit similar to what we created for fitbook junior, but for fitbook so it can be used in the classroom setting! other highlights: seeing wonderful peeps that have come to be friends of fitbook (lisa druxman – founder of stroller strides, the girls of designer whey, cassie and other beloved smarty girls, and many tweeps that i met for the first time in person!), meeting childhood crush mario lopez, playing at the under armour combine 360 booth with kim, gunter, & baby jake (our fitbook junior mascot), and watching as my team pitched fitbook just as good, if not better than me! (see more pics of this year’s expo here). have i mentioned how much i love my team? all in all – year 3 was a success and it leaves us looking forward to yet another brilliant IDEA next year.
3 lessons from “brilliant” IDEA #3:
lesson #1: learn from your customers – they’ll tell you what they want. my philosophy (or “fitlosophy”, i suppose) is if they ask if you can do something, always say yes and figure it out later. hence landing opportunities like corporate wellness programs (that we’d never thought of) , developing a teacher’s kit for fitbook junior (feedback we got from a teacher who implemented the program in the classroom), selling our live life fit tanks, and now integrating fitbook into college programs. listen. learn. then – do.
lesson #2: dream big. we often limit ourselves before we even try. i love this quote by henry ford: “whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.” it may be far-fetched that i will one day be on oprah or that the first lady will call me up one day to talk shop about fitbook junior. but another quote i love: ”shoot for the moon…even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”
lesson #3: play hard – work harder. yes this is very much the opposite of the traditional saying, but this is how i live my life. while it may not be for all people, it works for me. i love life and my friends and family are a big part of that – and i think trying to find some sense of balance is important. but if you love what you do and want something bad enough, you will live and breathe it, putting every ounce of energy you have into it. the goal: find something that you’re passionate enough about that what you do isn’t work – but merely persistently pursuing your life’s calling.
so 3 brilliant IDEAs, 3 lessons from each, and 3 HOURS later (is this my longest blog post ever?)…a huge thanks to fitbookers everywhere for helping take fitbook from an idea to reality, to my amazing team for believing and making it happen, and to the big guy upstairs for all the blessings he’s sent our way.
here’s to hoping you find inspiration to pursue YOUR big IDEA and learn valuable lessons along the way…
live life fit..