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How to Make an Extra $1800/mo with Online Fitness Training in just 30 Days

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INTRODUCTION

Last year there were 266M consumers around the world that purchased or used home exercise equipment, apps, and videos. Out of the 2M fitness professionals around the world, only a fraction are offering their services to clientele online.

Maybe you think online training is too impersonal or simply too confusing. Maybe you think fitness should only exist in the real world; face to face. Just 5 years ago, these excuses may have held some weight. No longer.

Earlier this year my cofounder Daniel and I came up with the idea for BODY. BODY is a video platform for live fitness classes where instructors see and interact with participants and participants see one another, emulating an in-person studio.

When BODY first launched in January of 2016, we had a single ‘in-house’ fitness program taught primarily by one fitness instructor. Before opening our platform to many health professionals around the world, we wanted to first prove that we could build a viable online fitness business for ourselves.

Before founding BODY, we had little experience running a fitness program — but we did have experience growing six figure businesses from scratch.

To grow our service to 80 monthly subscribers and $1800 in revenue in just 30 days, we used some of the same techniques that helped one of our previous businesses generate over $40,000 in its first month.

You can be just as successful (if not more so) than we were.

This article includes all of our email templates and spreadsheets, which can serve as a blueprint for maximizing your online fitness business at minimal cost.

GETTING STARTED

So you’ve launched your online fitness business, but you’re scratching your head wondering…

  • Why do I have so few clients?
  • How do I convert prospects into paying customers?
  • I’ve been posting on social media but how else can I market myself?

Growing an online business can be easy once you learn how to effectivelyactivate your network.

With our online fitness service, our goal was to acquire at least 30 paying subscribers within the first 30 days of launching without spending a dime on marketing.

Using a variety of marketing tactics, we blew our goal out of the water. We generated $1,800 in revenue in our first month with over 80 paid subscribers. Customers took an average of 2.4 classes per week and each referred ~2 friends.

We were successful for three reasons:

  1. We activated our network and encouraged word of mouth sharing.
  2. We showed early adopters overwhelming value, making it easy for them to say YES.
  3. We were committed to our clients’ success before, during, and after class.

Here’s how we did it…

STEP 1: SET YOUR FIRST MONTH TARGET

Quality online fitness programs are inherently viral because they are easy to share. Anyone, anywhere, can be a consumer of your service — this is calledscale. Scale is how you can win out over professionals only offering in-person services.

In launching our service, we knew that if we could establish a strong foundation of subscribers in the first month, organic growth would take over through word of mouth sharing (i.e. referrals). The key to our success would be setting a goal and come hell or high water, achieving it.

We set our first month target at 30 monthly subscribers because we believed this would be the tipping point where word of mouth growth would kick in. If each of our 30 customers referred 2 friends, we would be at 90 subscribers by month two and 200+ subscribers by month three.

Now that we had our goal identified, we began planning our launch.

STEP 2: SEGMENT AND ACTIVATE YOUR NETWORK

How did we get 80 paying subscribers in a month? Simple: Friends.

Our success was driven by leveraging our existing networks. Our friends introduced us to new clients, were the first to subscribe to our studio, and promoted us to their own personal networks via email, social media, and word of mouth. Your friends will be your biggest supporters, you simply need to activate them.

A few posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is not enough to successfully activate your network (unless you have thousands of loyal fans). Leveraging social media is great for general awareness, but not very effective for motivating your network to take action. We wanted to get directly into people’s inboxes and give them a sense of ownership. This way, our friends and acquaintances were given the individual attention they deserve —which resulted in them doing us way more than just a favor.

We started by making segmented email lists of our personal networks. It was tedious and took some time to get right, but it was probably the most important contributor to our success. To do this, we compiled every email address of every person we knew into one excel file.

  1. We first exported all of our Gmail contacts to a .csv file. Here’s how to do this.
  2. Next we exported all of our LinkedIn contacts to a .csv file. Here’s how to do this.

After all of our contacts were organized into one Excel spreadsheet, we deleted all of the contacts we did not have a meaningful relationship with (about 70% of them). The remaining contacts were divided into three groups: influencers, friends, and acquaintances.

  1. Influencers are people with lots of influence within their own network. Some of these people were bloggers, while others were friends with lots of followers. Our goal was to have each influencer share our link on Facebook and/or drop us a post on Instagram. Here are the emails influencers received.
  2. Friends were already aware of BODY. They were willing to subscribe to our service and spread the word. These people were ready to hustle for us. Here are the emails friends received.
  3. Acquaintances were people we hadn’t spoken with in a while. They needed to be told what online training was all about and why it’s important. This group was by far the largest. Here are the emails acquaintances received.

Each of these three groups received a different type of email when we launched. Here are all of our launch email templates for your convenience.

Acquaintances received a mass email sent via MailChimp. Influencers and friends received personalized emails and each was slightly different.

While personalized emails require more time than one mass email, they show people you care. Typically the more personal the email, the more likely the person will be to help you (responses, shares, etc).

One tool made our personalized emails manageable. Yet Another Mail Mergeis a Gmail plugin that allows you to draft a template email and then quickly add personalization within Google Sheets. For example, you can put {{Name}} and {{Intro}} at the beginning of a template email, and then customize an introductory sentence for each friend and influencer. This plugin saved us dozens of hours.

While it’s a bit more expensive, another personalized email tool we recommend is Yesware. Yesware integrates directly into Gmail, which makes it a bit simpler to manage.

STEP 3: TURN FRIENDS INTO ADVOCATES

The first thing you’ll notice with our email templates is that we not only sent visitors to our storefront page, we also provided them with something valuable (a discount code) that they could re-share with their network.

The second thing you’ll find is that we didn’t prepare just one wave of emails. We created a campaign that lasted 10 days with emails that were sent on days 1, 3, and 10.

When the initial emails went out, essentially we were asking people to take one action: try a class. But by providing them with a coupon code and periodic updates on our progress, many friends went above and beyond to re-share this value with their own friends and family. People are busy, so we made sure to provide them with multiple opportunities to engage.

Side note: Some people believe sending multiple messages is spammy. The is simply not true. Your friends should be happy to hear from you, and acquaintances can unsubscribe from your emails via Mailchimp if they feel the need.

STEP 4: SET AN EXPIRATION DATE

The coupon code we distributed was for $20 off the first month. We didn’t offer a coupon for 100% off the first month because people tend to devalue things that are free and we wanted to avoid that perception.

In addition, the offer was not open-ended. We set the launch discount to expire within one week so that people were motivated to take action quickly.In fact, within the final 24 hours before the launch coupon expired, our total number of subscribers increased by ~50%.

STEP 5: FIRE ALL THE NUKES AT ONCE

Our goal when we launched was to create a ‘surround sound effect’. We wanted people to hear about our service, in multiple ways, over and over again until they tried us out. To accomplish this, we sent several thousand emails within a window of only a few hours.

Days and times of the week are not created equal when it comes to launching. Research has shown social network usage and online purchasing behavior increase dramatically in the middle of the week (Tuesday through Thursday), particularly at mid-day (around Noon).

We chose to launch on Wednesday at 11am because we wanted to be at the top of everyone’s inbox during lunchtime, when many people check their personal email. Since we had all of our emails ready to go with Yet Another Mail Merge and Mailchimp, sending a few thousand emails at once proved easy.

STEP 6: SHOW LOVE TO EARLY CUSTOMERS

Early customers often become the biggest advocates and we wanted to treat them accordingly. For each prospect who tried a class for the first time, we wanted to provide them with an overwhelming amount of value, giving them a handful of reasons to say YES to subscribing. We reached out to each prospect individually and offered a “getting started” consultation (some were by phone and others by email).

This worked well for two reasons. First, it showed our commitment to our clients’ success before, during, and after class. Second, it helped us get to know our customers a lot better — which helped us adjust our programming accordingly.

We used a simple spreadsheet to track our prospects, and always followed up the day after their first class. You can see our prospecting emails and templates here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This campaign worked well because we empowered the people within our network to share something meaningful. It’s easy to just post on Facebook — don’t fall into this trap. Always take the time to connect with people on a personal level and treat them the way you’d like to be treated.

By setting a goal upfront, we held ourselves accountable to our own success. We were laser-focused on converting 30 prospects into paying subscribers by the end of our first month, and did everything possible to make this happen; emails, phone calls, whatever was necessary. As suspected, once we had our first 15–20 customers, our total subscriber numbers began to grow organically through referrals.

Although we stopped actively promoting our service after about 10 days, we had already hit a critical mass of paying subscribers who each referred several additional clients. In our first month, we achieved 2x the number of subscribers that we had planned for.

The marketing methods we used are relatively simple. You can replicate what we did. Now go for it!

LIST OF TOOLS AND TEMPLATES

Tutorials

Email Templates

Tools

Special Thanks

This article was inspired by and heavily influenced by the post, Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise $100,000 in 10 Days (Includes Successful Templates, E-mails, etc) authored by Tim Ferris and Mike Del Ponte. It can be found here.

A Healthier Approach to Consulting

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What do you imagine when you think of a management consulting company? If you were to ask me this question a month ago, my response would have included a description of Marty Kahn from Showtime’s House of Lies, the notion of 90 hour work weeks with 90% travel, fancy suits, and big degrees from HBS and Wharton only trumped by bigger egos. Kiss any notion of a healthy work-life balance goodbye.

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Enter Vynamic, a healthcare consulting firm hell-bent not just to shatter this stereotype, but to reinvent it entirely.

I first met Dan Calista, the Founder and CEO of Vynamic, through an introduction from one of the members of our advisory board, James Key Lim, our culture guru. It took only two phone conversations with Dan before we both realized Hackfit and Vynamic were destined to become organizational BFFs.

Vynamic is on a mission to be the healthiest company in the world, while Hackfit is on a mission to unite forward-thinkers, entrepreneurs, and organizations that believe fitness, wellness, and entrepreneurial purpose are catalysts not just for innovation, but for a happier life. BOOM, it was a match made in heaven, and the next thing I know, Vynamic joins up as a mega sponsor to help us bring our awesome sauce to the City of Brotherly Love this coming April. But enough about us, let’s get back to Vynamic.

A cookbook which was created by Vynamic team members
A cookbook which was written by Vynamic team members

In the movie Jerry Maguire, remember when Jerry has his epiphany and writes a mission statement for the future of the agency? The “who’s coming with me?” speech? Well Dan had a similar moment in his experience with management consulting in 2002. After several years of long hours, too much travel, and transactional relationships with clients, he realized, there must be a better way. This was when Vynamic was born.
Now I could continue telling you all about Vynamic’s Zmail, Dan being a moveable CEO, or their walking desks, but these topics have been covered before (click the links for these articles).

Instead, I’m going to list the top 3 attributes of Vynamic that you won’t read in any other blog or news story which are a testament to the fact that they are truly living up to their vision of being the healthiest company in the world.

1.) All the Vynamites love working there.

IMG_0022IMG_0035Imagine one of those corny corporate culture videos that every company has on their website where everyone talks about how much they love coming into work…but in Vynamic’s case, it’s actually true. We observed many of the Vynamic team members going about their daily work activities (yes we interviewed a few of them, but I’m referring to those we didn’t interview), and everyone was genuinely happy to be at work. It was something you could just feel in the air.

2.) Their own employees teach yoga and meditation…in the office!

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It’s one thing to bring in outside fitness and wellness coaches into your office (which Vynamic also does on occasion with a local Philly fitness company called Relentless Fitness), but Vynamic actually encourages their own team members to lead yoga and meditation sessions. And these are not amateurs, they’re straight-up certified wellness and yoga instructors.

3.) There are few companies so dedicated to culture and even less in the management consulting industry.

I’ve never worked in the world of management consulting, but from what I hear from many friends in the industry, the large firms don’t exactly exude a sense of intrapreneurialism. Vynamic is the opposite. There are several Vynamites (that’s what they call themselves) who’s sole job revolves around making the company a fun, creative, and healthy place to work. It’s impressive to see such dedication to what they believe in.

As an example, in its over 10 years in existence, Vynamic has not expanded beyond the Philadelphia market. Why? Because Dan and his team refuse to sacrifice their work-life balance. By focusing on local clients, Vynamic team members have the ability to make it home by 7p on weeknights. That’s unheard of in most management consulting companies, but made possible because of Vynamics dedication to a ‘better way to work.’

Hackfit Boston Spring 2014

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It’s been 8 months since we held the first ever Hackfit event in our hometown of Boston/Cambridge Massachusetts. With the success of our Philadelphia and San Francisco events two and four weeks ago respectively, I was rearing and ready to crush Hackfit Boston to round out our 2014 Spring season of hackathon events. With over 125 participants registered from all over New England, I knew this was going to be just as big and totally badass as year 1. I wasn’t disappointed.

Hackfit unites physicality with ideation and hacking like nothing else that exists today. Everything we do is different – from our initial ice-breaker to our scoring criteria – we are uniting the technology community around an ideal and cultural mantra not ordinarily seen in startups and large companies alike – health.

In true Hackfit form, I decided to kick off Boston’s friday night ice-breaker with an Insanity workout led by our friends at ChiBang Bodies. We didn’t do this in a gym or in a studio, but in the middle of the Microsoft NERD 10th floor conference room. It was not for the faint of heart – Vuong (the Insanity instructor from ChiBang Bodies) whooped everyone’s ass. Even the most hardcore Hackfitters were dripping in sweat after 15 minutes.

Friday night Insanity workout to "break-the-ice"
Friday night Insanity workout to “break-the-ice”

To continue the energy and excitement, I brought in Joe DeSena, co-founder and president of Spartan Race, to speak to our Boston Hackfitters about his entrepreneurial journey. Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.  His racing resume is the stuff of legends – over 50 ultra-events overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone. Joe’s keynote delivered quite a punch – particularly when he described creating the Death Race as a way to find team members who can and will overcome literally anything.

Joe DeSena delivers a keynote presentation about his entrepreneurial journey from a multi-million dollar pool business to launching Spartan Race
Joe DeSena delivers a keynote presentation about his entrepreneurial journey from a multi-million dollar pool business to launching Spartan Race

Next up was our pitch competition and team formation which resulted in 10 teams out of approximately 30 pitches. Out of all of the events we’ve done so far, I was most impressed with the balance of talent amongst the teams. Here was the breakdown (no particular order):

  • Chill Out – A wearable device and companion app to measure, monitor and manage stress levels in your life.

  • myPlate – Medication and food item interaction cross checking.

  • Spontraineous – Find fitness partners and workouts, pickup sports, etc.

  • Duo – Fitness, dating, and social media combine to create an ultimate and new way to connect with others who share the same passion for an active lifestyle.

  • BuddyBeats – “Sweat-n-sync.” Livestream music/audio at the sametime through website or application for working out with Buddies to be listening to the same song/same time.

  • Life Back – Create an API to help get substances abusers from rehab into healthy, active lifestyles in hopes to decrease the chance of relapse.

  • Desk Trainer – Chrome plugin that diverts you away from wasteful social networks to a curated quick workout.

  • Sleeping with Friends – Getting you to the best sleep of your life.

  • Stock-a-Fridge – Meals plans for after your work out that match your caloric expenditure to nutritious meal options.

  • Quus – Snapchat meets Quora that allows you to ask questions to your circle for instant feedback. (This was tailored to the health market to meet the Hackfit hack criteria).

Throughout Saturday and Sunday our teams proved that by intertwining hacking with exercise, healthy foods, and sleep – fucking rocks. Productivity and camaraderie also seem to become significantly enhanced :)

60 second pitch competition
60 second pitch competition
If you go over 60 seconds for your pitch, we all do a pushup penalty
If you go over 60 seconds for your pitch, we all do a pushup penalty

We work hard and play hard. But our play is the hardcore ass kicking kind where you climb rock walls or train doing Kung Fu.

tweettweet2Not only did our 10 teams build impressive and fully functional applications (and one hardware device), but they exercised over 240 hours throughout the weekend. Here are the Final Scores and the winners of our Hackfit Activity Leaderboard:

Business Tech WOW Activity FINAL
1 Spontraineous 5.60 6.60 6.60 8.68 6.87
2 Life Back 6.00 6.00 8.20 6.69 6.72
3 Desk Trainer 4.60 7.00 6.00 8.36 6.49
4 Duo 7.00 5.40 6.40 6.60 6.35
5 Chill Out 5.60 6.60 5.80 6.43 6.11
6 Sleeping with Friends 4.20 5.60 4.40 10.00 6.05
7 myPlate 6.20 5.00 4.80 7.14 5.79
8 Quus 3.00 6.00 4.80 3.51 4.33
9 BuddyBeats 3.40 3.60 3.60 6.44 4.26
10 stock-a-fridge 3.00 4.20 3.60 5.22 4.01

bostonleaderboard1bostonleaderboard2

Hackfitter at Brooklyn Boulders hitting the bouldering wall
Hackfitter at Brooklyn Boulders hitting the bouldering wall
Joyous Hackfitters celebrating first place at Hackfit Boston
Joyous Hackfitters celebrating first place at Hackfit Boston

What was my takeaway from this weekend? The caliber of talent was staggering, something we expected from Boston, but I was still amazed. With some additional tweeks and a few weeks of serious dev time, there are more than a few teams that are capable of raising capital. My final call to action for our Boston Hackfitters, “Go Go Go”!

Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to our wonderful sponsors who made this weekend possible. MeYou HealthConstant ContactWithings, and Microsoft. All of these companies are hiring like mad, and they want Hackfitters. Email me (justin at hackfit.com) if you need a referral.

How Activity Inspires Innovation

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When I first developed the concept for Hackfit, there were many who thought I was naive. And if not naive, maybe insane. “You’re going to take engineers and ask them to do WHAT? Yoga? Rock Climbing?CrossFit!? That’s never going to happen.” innovation and exercise: these characteristics combine together like oil and vinegar, right?

Wrong.

I’m an interesting hybrid of attributes myself – an athlete and a huge nerd. I’m at my best, both physically and mentally, when I am active, engaged, and stimulated. This doesn’t just apply to me. Most people have their Eureka moments, not while stagnant, but instead during incredible conversations, adventures, and physical challenges.

Hackfit is built on the ethos and understanding that technology development and a healthy lifestyle do not have to be mutually exclusive. Last year, we hosted our first Hackfit Startup Competition here in Boston with Constant Contact as one of our major sponsors. Our goal was to unite coders, students, and athletes to develop fitness and health related hacks, interspersing work with play by participating in exercise classes such as rock climbing, yoga, CrossFit, martial arts, running and more – healthy food included. Not only do Hackfitters live a healthy lifestyle, they make the world a healthier place as well.

What was the result? We sold out with over 165 Hackfitters in attendance and even had a Constant Contact engineer, Jason Weden join the ruckus. In just one weekend, each Hackfitter (on average) walked/ran 50 minutes, biked 30 minutes, did yoga/meditation for 47 minutes, and participated in heavy exercise (rock climbing, CrossFit, weight training) for 48 minutes. That’s a total of 2.9 hours of activity IN ONE WEEKEND! And so you might think, “how does anyone get work done?”

Well, we also discovered an overwhelmingly positive correlation between each team’s activity level, and their final project score (teams were scored on tech, business model, and WOW factor). The teams with the highest activity levels, had the most creative ideas and hacks. This result is not surprising.

Physical activity, particularly aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming, has many cognitive benefits and effects on the brain. This includes increased neurotransmitter levels, improved oxygen and nutrient delivery, and increased neurogenesis in the hippocampus (crucial for learning and memory storage).

There are a number of ways in which exercise also reduces levels of stress. Exercise produces feelings of happiness through the production of endorphins while also improving stress resiliency (people who exercise more are more likely to have less of a stress reaction to adverse situations).

At Hackfit Boston, we found the overall stress levels of our participants to be low, which is extremely uncommon for typical hackathons. Tylor Hess, one Hackfitter commented, “when you get frustrated with your work, you can go climb and then come back to [your work] after you’ve cleared your head, this is super helpful.” Another participant, Joey Orlando said, “I biked to the rock gym, did CrossFit, and then worked on my demo presentation. I felt so productive and exercise helped a lot.”

Some of you might be thinking, “I could never do something like this. I’m out of shape. Too old.” Wrong again. There were Hackfitters who had previously never run a mile in their life, complete a 3.8 mile run along the Charles River. It’s all about adopting a mentality where work, play, and activity are one-in-the-same. You are capable of more than you could imagine.

In innovation intensive environments, physical activity and exercise is absolutely critical for the success, sustainability, and wellbeing (both physically and mentally) of individuals. We hear very often about the long-term benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, but very rarely do we hear about the acute effects on productivity and creativity. At Hackfit Boston, we proved that activity truly inspires innovation.

Why I Made Hackfit 70% Cheaper

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Yesterday was one of the hardest days I have faced since founding Hackfit nine short months ago. With the buy-in from my team, I decided that we needed to drastically change our ticket pricing model. What was the result? We cut the price of our Standard Entry tickets by about 70%. From $130 to $49.

To give you some context behind this decision, I’d like to explain how we’ve gotten to where we are today, and where we are headed for the future.

I developed the idea for Hackfit in late April of 2013, started the company in May of 2013, and put on our first event in Boston just four months later in the Fall of 2013. Yes this is my first company, and that summer, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. More than a few entrepreneurs and tech evangelists mentioned,

“You’re going to have developers exercise while coding…impossible.”

“Good luck getting anyone to come to an event like this.”

I knew they were wrong, and I was even more determined to prove them wrong. And wouldn’t you know it, Hackfit Boston, our first event, drew out 166 participants from 14 different states across the country. It was one of the biggest hackathons to hit Boston. We were covered 3 separate times in the Boston Globe alone (one of which was a front page feature).

After that first event, I’ve never been so humbled while also filled with such fire. To see so many people transform before my eyes in a 48 hour period was awe-inspiring. In the aftermath of Hackfit Boston, Hackfitters were hired to several different health-tech companies and startups. They’ve embarked on their own businesses and some are raising funding. But most importantly, they’ve formed lasting bonds with other Hackfitters and have continued to “hack well and stay active”.

Fast forward to today and we’re launching 10 events in 10 cities. We’re bringing in speakers like Joe DeSena (Founder of Spartan race) and Derek Flanzraich (Founder of Greatist). We’re offering insanely nutritious meals and superfoods at every event. So when we came up with our pricing for the 2014 year, we thought, “how much is this really worth”? Totally setting aside the qualitative value-add of our product, we summed the quantitative value-adds and came up with a $500-600 value to every Hackfitter at our event (food + fitness classes + speakers + coaching + swag + prizes + event programming). We also looked at events such as Spartan RaceTough Mudder which are priced around $150. Last year, when we ran Hackfit Boston, we charged about $100, and had great traction.

So what did we come up with for 2014? Well we decided that $130 would be affordable, while also being sustainable for us to continue to operate as a business and grow. Forging ahead at quantum speed, we set this as the price range, and opened registration on January 1st.

Now fast forward one more month. Registration has been open for 30 days in BostonNYCSan Francisco, and Philadelphia. While we’ve had great traction with dozens of Hackfitters in each of these cities, we’ve had even more potential Hackfitters messaging us telling us their inability to participate due to the high price point. Some are students. Most are entrepreneurs that are just fighting to make their dream a reality. But as a whole, they’re all up-and-comers who are totally kickass innovators. Why did this bother us so much? Because this is who we are as well.

So we went back to the drawing boards with a simple objective – Deliver the same jaw dropping experience at every Hackfit event all across the US at a dramatically lower price point. We thought about our core values, drew a line in the sand, and stated to ourselves, “we’re going to offer Hackfit startup events for less than the price of a date night, less than the price of a monthly gym membership. We’re going to offer our startup event experience for less than $50 and make our weekends accessible and financially feasible to every entrepreneur at every level.” We want there to be no barrier standing between Hackfit and innovators looking to make a difference in the health and happiness of our communities. Thus, we came up with our Standard Entry pricing of $49.

So how is this feasible for Hackfit from a business model standpoint? The answer is tied into our plans for the business longer term. Partnering with brands is the simplest answer. We will be integrating large brands into the Hackfit experience to make it more impactful and enjoyable for our Hackfitters. No we’re not selling out. Think along the lines of Dos Equis, Degree, or Under Armour at a Tough Mudder event.

We are also building a platform for entrepreneurs, startups, and companies in our Hackfit community to engage with one another. What does this look like? It looks like an open source project which will allow Hackfitters all over the planet to collaborate with one another. It looks like a jobs board where startups and large companies the highest standards for entrepreneurship, healthy living, and badass innovation can partner and/or hire Hackfitters.

How does this impact the Hackfitters who already paid?

Easy. We’re refunding them the difference between what they paid, and the new prices of our tickets.

Why not offer a student/entrepreneur discount and the other tickets at full price?

I firmly believe that you should make exceptions for the majority, not the minority. If one person, regardless of their professional or financial status, can attend at $49, everyone should be able to.

Are the Hackfit events going to decrease in quality to reflect the lower prices?

Never. Hackfit was born upon a set of values that we abide to in all circumstances. Hackfit events will be more impressive than any other hackathon or conference you’ve been to. Come talk to us after the Hackfit weekend if you disagree and we’ll refund your ticket purchase.

Why not keep prices high and run smaller events to an exclusive audience?

Well there’s the exclusion of students and entrepreneurs that we want to avoid. The other reason is that even with ticket prices at $130, 75 or 100 person events would not be sustainable from a revenue standpoint, and very unlikely to accrue large sponsorships which we will need to grow. To optimize our ability to attract sponsors, we need to sell out events at the 200 person mark – massive and fucking awesome experiences.

If optimizing the event is your goal, why not make it free?

We want to minimize the number of ‘no-shows’ at the event, and also maintain some price differentiation from the typical ‘free’ hackathon. At $49, Hackfitters will think-twice before not showing up on event weekend.

What’s the net net net?

Get pumped. Hackfit will be nothing short of EPIC in every regard.

The Value in a Personal Mission Statement

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A good friend of mine and fellow adventurer & entrepreneur recommended that I write a personal mission statement. I’ve only ever seen mission statements used by businesses in the past, so initially I wasn’t sure how this would be applicable to myself. But as I started to brainstorm ideas, thought about places I wanted to go, obstacles I wanted to conquer, I realized that this was a real and valuable way to hold myself accountable to these goals and dreams.

At first the process of writing this was relatively daunting. How and What was I supposed to put here? Then I decided to just start talking out loud and think nothing of form, grammar, or sense. I generally do my best brainstorming out loud, and if you are by yourself, sometimes this can feel a bit strange. SO do it when you are in your car driving to work…because after all, what the hell else do you have to do during your commute? In my case, I set my iPhone to record, and just started talking…Here is the transcript of that:

I will build an epic community/organization where fun is no different than work. Wherein work is no different than what I thoroughly enjoy. Where work is not a task but rather an enjoyable activity.

I will live in an environment that is conducive to my personal mental wellbeing and where it is enjoyable to meet active professionals and non-professionals alike who inspire and motivate me to become better than I could possibly be on my own.

I will build an epic organization with a culture that fosters continual innovation that creates a profound change in the world wherein work is enjoyable. Where everybody feels as if work is enjoyable and gratifying and motivating.

I will live in an environment that is conducive to my health. To not network but to build lasting and beneficial relationships with those that inspire me and share my passion. An environment that is sunny bright and warm. Mentally and emotionally warm.

As a person who is inspired and motivated by building. I will build an organization and culture that is considered by all to be epic. I will no longer consider work to be any different than what I thoroughly enjoy and I will live in an environment that inspires me and allows me to connect with people that motivate and inspire me and create lasting and positive change in my life.

After I recorded this stream of consciousness, I found that there were some definite keywords, and some definite redundancies. So that’s where I began. After a bit of organization and cutting out of excess fat, I ended up with my final product:

I am a builder of ideas, resources, people, and organizations. I impart lasting and beneficial change upon myself and millions of others by doing what I love. I exude positive energy. My playground inspires me and contains friends and family who empower me to crush it.

Notice how I used NO future tense here. If you indicate that you WILL impart lasting change or you HOPE to exude positive energy, it leaves room for you to simply put it off until the future…ie, you’ll never do it. So make sure to use present tense. I also used verbiage that has personal meaning and impact to ME. Some people might look at my last sentence and think, “crush it? that sounds negative/weird.” But to me, when I imagine “crushing it”, I think of conquering the world. Slaying giants. Saving damsels in distress. So on and so forth. So use words that build your confidence and help you imagine the best YOU, you can imagine. If you need help with this, check out my post on how to talk like a badass motherFu*$er (without using obscene language).

Once I finished my personal mission statement, I thought it only right that I take this from simple black Times New Roman font in Microsoft Word and convert it into something visually EPIC. For those curious as to how you can do this yourself, I designed this in GIMP which is free software you can download online. Take a few hours and go through some free tutorials on Youtube and you’ll be ready to design your very own masterpieces in no time!

missionstatement

Presenting Like Steve Jobs

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Think about a time when you heard someone speak and you could feel their words resonate throughout your body. As if their passion gripped your mind, opened your heart, and reached into your soul. We have all had experiences such as this, after all it is only human to feel this way. This is called empathy. Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient being. The power of public speaking lies in your ability to tap into this emotion.

1. Build tension

Steve Jobs

We all know Steve Jobs is an amazing presenter. He’s famous for it after all. If you haven’t seen Jobs present, then please crawl out from underneath the rock you’ve been hiding under, and take a look at this.

Now in order for you to start making great presentations yourself, lets delve into some of the detail here that makes this presentation one for the history books.

If you’ve ever been given constructive advice on presentation etiquette you are aware that every presentation should come with a hook. In a sense, the hook of the presentation builds excitement and interest for the rest of the talk. Some potential hooks that you could think about using are:

  1. Rhetorical Question
  2. Screening Question
  3. New Twist on Familiar
  4. Quote or Anecdote
  5. Personal Note
  6. Audience Participation Exercise

After laying the initial groundwork for the presentation, Jobs really builds tension by stating, “Today, we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first is a wide-screen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary new mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.” Tension increases palpably as he goes on to say, “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device…today Apple is going to reinvent the phone!” BOOM. The audience goes wild!

Now I realize that presenting on interesting material isn’t always a given. Discussing scientific data or fiscal-end results? Not earth shattering. However, don’t go into the presentation thinking that you will simply inform your audience of your data. It’s all about playing to their emotions. Ask yourself, how do I want my audience to FEEL after listening to me? What is the call to action? Instead of words like inform, think of words like invigorate, excite, empower, or enthuse. Consider how you are going to impress these emotions upon your audience and you will naturally create tension with your words.

2. Show enthusiasm and paint a picture

One of the first things that an audience will notice about your presentation is your enthusiasm in regards to the material and ideas you are conveying. Many people are so afraid to over-hype a product or result that they migrate towards the opposite extreme. They end up exuding a sense of monotony and deliver a wonderfully boring presentation. If you’re passionate about your material, then SHOW IT! And if you’re not passionate about your material…then figure out a way to be. Have fun with it. Throw in some jokes. Express yourself fully and the audience will respond positively.

Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is stunning in the way that he weaves stories for his audience. Although he speaks quickly, his story is never lost. After all, he is enthusiastic about learning from spaghetti sauce!

Make sure to take notice the way in which he uses body language. At times he will throw up his arms, point to invisible bullet items in the sky, or count with his fingers when reviewing the numerous types of spaghetti sauce. This is an extremely effective tactic to use to capture visual learners and draw them to various impactful words.

And one final thing…he doesn’t even use slides during this presentation. Imagine that?

3. Practice

Think that the great presenters out there are improvising? Think again. An outstanding 1 hour presentation very often takes upwards of 30 hours to prepare and fully practice. If you need some convincing. Check out this slide show…you’ll be blown away. Want another interesting example? Check out Dick Hardt and Identity 2.0.

Dick Hardt

This is by far one of the more interesting presentations I’ve ever seen. Almost every sentence, every word even, is connected with a separate slide. I’m not necessarily recommending that you come up with a 200 slide presentation, but you do have to appreciate how much time and effort went into this for it to go as smoothly as it does.

4. Add some flair and create meaning

Learn how to vary the pitch in your voice, and the speed at which you deliver your words to effectively create meaning. Pausing for a few seconds may seem awkward, but it’s a great way to emphasize the power of single words or phrases. Now here’s a more advanced technique. Change up your vocal pitch. This is a great way to wake up sleeping audience members and to grab attention.

Guy Kawasaki

The beauty of Kawasaki’s presentation here is that he isn’t afraid to throw in some flair. He uses jokes and speaks bluntly about several very important concepts. This is a skill that is very often lost in public speaking. If you can pull it off, you’ll succeed in creating a message that really sticks.

If you are unsure what kinds of words will grab the attention of your audience, make sure to check out one of my earlier posts. It explains how to use action oriented verbs in your every day language and presentations. It’s a must read.

To sum everything up, make sure to remember these four items and your presentations will be much better off. If you feel nervous, that’s good. It means that the presentation is important to you…and if it’s that important, make sure it packs a punch.