Wake up early! YOU CAN DO IT. Think of all the things you can do with the early morning hours? I am not one that likes to feel rushed. I am an early riser, always have been. There is something soothing about seeing the sun rise.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Maurer.
Emma Maurer is the Vice President of Business Development and Partnerships for Peerfit, the market leader in connecting employers and carriers with personalized fitness experiences. With over 20 years in corporate health promotion and population health management, Emma authored a results-oriented implementation strategy that can be applied to all organizations regardless of size, industry or geographical location. At Peerfit, Emma has led the enterprise division and recently has transitioned to oversee the development and execution of Peerfit’s business strategy. Prior to joining the Peerfit team Emma was director of St. Vincent’s HealthWorks, where she built an onsite/near site clinic model for employers in Northeast Florida, and prior to that was director of wellness services at GBS Benefits.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
My enthusiasm and passion for health and wellness are simply part of my DNA. It was after completing an internship at a gym specifically targeted to the working professional, that I realized there was an opportunity to help employers who wanted to positively impact the health of their employee populations.
Since then I have experienced corporate health from all angles. I have run client wellness programs for a large national insurance carrier, built a wellness strategy for insurance brokerage firms, established near and onsite clinic models for employers when working for a large health system, and today I work for a wellness and fitness vendor. I have a unique appreciation for how employers approach wellness for their employees.
I myself, am very active, and prioritize being active every day over most things. I play tennis, run, do a lot of HIIT training and love my road bike. In fact if I have any brainstorming or problem solving to do, I get on my bike (real or stationary) because that is usually where I do my best thinking. Is that weird?
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I had been in my role at a large Health System for over a year. I was building an onsite/nearsite clinic model for employers in our local market and there was a particular pitch to a client that I felt might be worthwhile bringing my CEO to. For context, at this point in time I hadn’t spent anytime with him 1:1. All interactions thus far had been in group settings and meetings. On the day of presentation, I offered to drive to and from the appointment.
The presentation went very well, and his participation was definitely a game changer. It was on the drive back to our offices where we had an exchange that would be one that I have thought a lot about over the years. My CEO asked me what should be an easy question to answer. He simply asked “Emma, you have me here, 1:1, no distractions or interruptions, what would you like me to know, what ideas do you have, how can I help you?” I wasn’t prepared, I had no idea what to say! I froze, and was immediately embarrassed. A lot of thoughts raced through my head, like, ‘do I walk him through current roadblocks?’ No don’t do that it will sound like you are complaining. In the end, I simply walked him through where I was with the new clinics and told him that “things were great”. It was a huge mistake, there were a dozen things I could have brought up, most of them obstacles to growth, that we would both have benefited from him knowing about.
The lesson? Don’t ever drive your CEO anywhere! I’m joking, of course. If my direct supervisor had asked me that question I would have had no problem answering it, but because this was asked by someone less familiar with the detail behind my work, I opted not to educate him on some of my barriers in fear that it would look like I was complaining.
We need to remember at times that we are in fact the experts, and that means educating those in more senior positions to us. I would actually argue that this is extremely important to maintain or gain their buy-in to our work and how it aligns with the greater corporate objectives.
While this may seem like a minor and trivial exchange to others, to me it was one that forced me to reflect on my interactions with senior leaders and change my thinking. I have benefited significantly from this lesson.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh goodness, all of the mistakes. How does the saying go? “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying”, is that right? Many of the mistakes that I made early in my career were a result of acting or reacting to situations too quickly, and when I do that it’s typically an emotional response and that’s seldom a good thing. As I matured in my career I learned to take the time I needed before making decisions, or responding to sensitive situations. Understanding that about myself has made me much more effective in each of the positions I’ve held throughout my career.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Grateful to many, and while I have had some amazing mentors in my career, when I think about who I’m grateful for I think of the clients that I’ve served or represented. The lessons from them have molded my career path every step of the way.
For over 20 years I have been listening to and consulting employers to learn and understand population health. Not only their barriers, but their successes and of course to get a strong comprehension of the problem they are trying to solve. The reward is finding and implementing the solution. It is only by repeating this process with hundreds of clients over the years that you get an honest and authentic feel of the industry, and how approaches and strategies to improve the health of populations can be greatly varied yet very prescriptive client by client.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My passion has always been in physical activity. One of my favorite quotes is “if exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be the single, most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation” (Robert H. Butler) because I believe this to be true.
At Peerfit, we connect employers and their employees to thousands of different fitness experiences across the country (not internationally….yet). Our users don’t just get access to memberships or contracts to gyms, they can hop around to different experiences, or only one if they wish, but the beauty is that the employee is the one that is empowered to choose for themselves. Yoga one day, Pilates the next, perhaps CrossFit® on the weekend. By giving consumers choice and flexibility they can make decisions based on their physical capabilities as well as their personal interests. This is much different than the traditional way of bringing fitness to the workplace which was always onsite or big-box gym memberships. Gyms are great, but they are not for everyone. Our network has gyms and studios as well as digital streaming options. This diversified approach opens the door to those who may not be motivated to exercise but when they see that the yoga studio next to their grocery store is in their network, they may be inspired to try it based on geography alone.
One last thought I have when thinking about this company and how we are impacting lives is that we put the “Peer” in Peerfit. Fitness, for many of us, is social. We like to work out with others, whether that be a group fitness class, or walking the dog, we like doing it with our friends and family. We factored that in when building our solution. Through our platform I am able to invite others to join me making my workouts a social experience, as well.
Can you share your top five“lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Make time in your schedule everyday to do something you enjoy! It can be something different every day and it doesn’t even need to be a lot of time. My son is now 20 years old and away at college, but once upon a time I was a young Mum (I’m Australian) with a career, and like so many of you, I put my family, my work and even the needs of my friends before me. For many years I put my own interests on hold and, unfortunately, that led to me resenting those I loved. I would ask myself, how do others find the time to do leisurely activities and I’m at home stuck with the domestic tasks?I had a flourishing career, yet did not find the time to pursue my passion and hobbies outside of work. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, it’s just that I never prioritized anything for me.
I don’t like to shop, but I love to treat myself to massages and I joined a boot camp gym (I told you fitness was my passion!), and I made time to schedule these things into my days. For others it’s meeting friends for coffee, reading a book or magazine, meditating, buying fresh flowers… honestly it could be a million different things. It’s important to choose something that brings you joy!
- Wake up early! YOU CAN DO IT. Think of all the things you can do with the early morning hours? I am not one that likes to feel rushed. I am an early riser, always have been. There is something soothing about seeing the sun rise.
I used to like being awake before everyone else in the house. The opportunity to sit peacefully and think about the day ahead while sipping tea as the sun was rising puts me in a mindset that I could accomplish anything that was thrown at me.
- Spend time with a pet. Full disclosure; I am an animal lover! To me there is nothing like coming home to a pet that is happy to see you. For those of you who have raised teenagers and have dogs, you know what I mean. The dog is thrilled to see you…. But the teenager, maybe not so much 😂. It’s so great to feel needed by our 4 legged friends.
- Know your risks. I’m a data girl. If you don’t know your numbers, whether that be your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, BMI, (and maybe waist circumference) you should and I encourage you to monitor them yourself. Your health needs to be managed by you, not just by a doctor. You are in the driver’s seat! Outside help is there as a backup, but your diet (not to be confused with dieting), exercise and stress management are on you!
- H2O. You’ve heard this one before. There is a reason for that! The benefits of drinking water are endless. 60% of the human adult body is water. Carry a bottle with you at all times and sip throughout the day. You’ve got this.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Wow… had to think about this one a little. Once upon a time I was a member of Alliance for Cardiovascular Health, and one of the initiatives that I became very passionate about was working with city planners in an effort to make cities more walkable. Older cities were not designed with pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, etc. in mind, so when it comes to city planning and new roads and developments, I’d love to see some level of legislation around walkability.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
These are in no particular order, but all things that I learned along my journey.
- Asking questions is a good thing. When you ask questions, you are demonstrating that you are more engaged and interested in learning more or making sure that you understand what you just heard. Asking questions will make you smarter.
- No one expects you to be perfect. Mistakes are perfectly acceptable, everyone makes them. The other thing that I will call out here is that you need to also own your mistakes. You will be respected more as a result.
- Your network is important, build it, nurture it, and support those in it. Always remember that age old saying: “don’t burn bridges”. It is really easy to neglect your network, until you need their help in a job hunt or when you are looking for their participation in a project. Support and help them and they will do the same for you.
- Listen and observe more than talk. You are not learning when you are talking!
- Dress for the job you want not for the job you have. I’m not saying that you should wear a red gown to the office but I do suggest that you show up looking clean, neat, tidy and professional…. Yes, even when you are wearing jeans on casual Friday.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
In today’s climate I am becoming increasingly concerned about mental health. Isolation is not natural for the human race. We are social creatures and having interaction with family, friends, and our peers is an innate need. Having spent most of the last 3 months isolated from my team, family and friends, I have noticed a drop in my own confidence and self-esteem, and have more times of loneliness than at any other time I can remember. I think as an industry we are going to have to band together to tackle mental health in the coming months.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
linkedin.com/in/emma-maurer-3651527 and @peerfit
Thank you for these fantastic insights!