Andrew Rademacher wanted to create a place to work that made him happy every day, and a product that would help him find a solution to an issue that he first discovered while still in school. “In college, I was a track and field decathlete, which is comprised of 10 different events, requiring a different shoe for each. In my spare time, I found myself studying each of my shoes, how they fit, and how they were specifically designed for a different purpose,” he shares. “I came to realize that my shoes were the major cause of my injuries. Soon after, I began running with minimalist footwear, sometimes even barefoot, and that set off my dream to become a shoe designer and start a company.”
In 2008, Rademacher set out to develop a sneaker that would fit the natural shape of the foot, and cut out extra and unnecessary material to reduce our carbon footprint without sacrificing performance. Starting out of his parents’ garage, Rademacher put in tireless work and research to create the work culture and company he dreamed of and launched LEMS. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, the LEMS team seeks to live the lifestyle that the brand represents, and is growing in their own, unique way. “Living here, I’ve found it requires footwear that can do two things,” he explains. “It must be functional in the outdoors, and look at home around town. That is what we created.”
In his Thrive Questionnaire, Rademacher shares how nature impacts his happiness and inspires his designs, what brings him energy, and his top organizing tips.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Andrew Rademacher: My wife and I just had our first child, so our sleeping patterns have been off from what we’re accustomed to. With that said, if you’re referring to the 2:00 a.m. wake-up, then it’s taking care of our daughter, otherwise, it’s boiling water for a large cup of coffee to help offset the effects of the first wake-up call.
TG: What gives you energy?
AR: Besides that large cup of Joe I just mentioned, I’ve always subscribed to the idea that music can help enhance your energy and focus. I find myself turning to some of my favorite bands for an added pep in my step. I also think that inspiration for my designs — those lightbulb moments — are equally as exciting. And sometimes those come from past experiences, beautiful scenery, or just other designs.
TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?
AR: I’m not the most habitual person, but I will say that cardio has always remained constant for me and my daily routine. If it’s not cycling, then it’s most likely running. When you live in a place like Boulder, you start to get a bit stir-crazy from being indoors for too long, so in order to keep my sanity, I need to get out in the mountains and have some fun.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
AR: My phone and I have a love/hate relationship. I love having it by my side when I am searching for something specific, need inspiration, or am looking for an answer to a problem, but I hate the effects it can have on human interaction, which is why most evenings I put it on silent and spend valuable time with my wife and daughter.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
AR: I’ll be the first to admit that I am not much of a reader, but I’ve made time to read a few books that have made an impact on my life. The one that comes to mind is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Since reading the book, I have found that the Law of Attraction and positive thinking has made a significant change on my life and how I handle certain situations.
TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
AR: I find that I am most productive when I focus on one task at a time, but as with most people, the longer I look at the problem, the more I can lose that focus, making me turn to something else. And more often than not, if you come back to a problem that you’ve been trying to solve for the longest time, the answer kind of hits you right away.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
AR: Just this week. Several things came barreling down on me all at once — in the business, as well as my personal life. But that’s life. You can never plan things to work out exactly as you want them to, so it’s always best to try and be prepared for any outcome.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
AR: Just this week, again. It was a stressful one! At times, I take out some of my stress by reaching pure physical exhaustion on my bike or trail running, so there’s no energy left to fight the problem. And then, hopefully, I come back the next day, refreshed and ready to tackle the issue, one decision at a time.
TG: How do you handle social media criticism?
AR: I try and avoid it as much as I can. I really just follow what my inner voice says and block out negative comments from others. When I do hear them, I just try to have a sense of humor about the situation. No matter how good of a product you have, or how great your customer service is, we will always receive negative comments, and we’ve accepted that.
TG: How do you express your gratitude?
AR: I say “thank you,” a lot, and I hope the people around me realize that. When everyone leaves the office for the day, I tell each person thanks, and express my gratitude to them. I also continue to tell my wife thank you for everything she does to help us in life. Sometimes it brings me to tears for how grateful I am to have these people around me on a daily basis.
TG: What are the qualities of a good leader?
AR: I believe that to be successful in business, you need to inspire the people that work for you. And even more importantly, you need them to like the person that they work for. I personally don’t believe that you can succeed by intimidation or other similar tactics. A good leader must be fun to work for, and fun to work with.
TG: What are your top tips for organizing?
AR: When I take the time to focus on it, I can be. It’s very important for me to write clear and organized emails, especially when I am communicating with language barriers. My best tip is making lists, lists, and more lists. I usually number each item from highest priority to lowest, and tackle it from there.
TG: What brings you optimism and hope?
AR: Seeing my daughter and my wife so happy. There’s nothing more in the world I could ask for.
TG: Can you share a time you went from surviving to thriving?
AR: Starting your own business in the footwear industry comes with a lot of competition, and it’s a very costly road to go down. I would probably say the first four to five years of existence for Lems were survival years, trying to get our foot in the door, literally. With that being said, each year we have continued to grow at an exponential rate and will continue to do so. We’re cranking out more designs than ever before, have hired the right people for the right positions, and we’re getting the job done.
TG: How do you find time for yourself?
AR: My wife and I just had our first child this past January. Trying to balance being a new dad, being a husband, and owning a business is definitely time consuming, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I mentioned earlier that I thrive in the outdoors, whether it be cycling, running or hiking. I always try to get out every day, even for just 30 minutes if I can.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
AR: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” —Steve Jobs
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