I had the pleasure to interview Jillian Michaels, health and wellness entrepreneur and creator of the Jillian Michaels App
What is your “backstory”?
My background is actually in fitness. Shocking I know. I got my start as a trainer when I was just 17 and training for my blackbelt. People would approach me in the gym regularly and ask me if I was training other people and one day I just figured — why not. Maybe I could make some money doing this. I got my certification and jumped right in. By the time I was 29 I had opened a sports medicine facility and by 30 I was on The Biggest Loser. The rest is “history” as they say. I did, however, have a 3 year stint where I worked at an entertainment agency from 24–26. I have never been so miserable. I got into the field because I started to get guilted by friends that I should get a “real job”. So I started in the mail room. Worked my way up to becoming a motion picture packaging agent. Then got fired for pretty much hating my boss. Bottom line, I should have stuck with my passion and followed my heart. Lesson one — the more security in life you seek the less you will have. The more you pursue your passion with patience, fortitude, and the ego strength to take responsibility for mistakes and learn from them the more affluence and abundance you will reap.
Which person or which company do you most admire and why?
I of course admire great humanitarians, but professionally speaking I have always admired Suze Orman and Maria Shriver (despite the fact that both are actually humanitarians). They are truly great woman who care about people. They never let greed compromise their integrity. I love their originality, authenticity, and talent. They are true experts and professionals (which is a dying breed now days).
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
At my company we call that the “quan”. Does the project have the following three qualities:
1. Are we passionate about it?
2. Can it make the world a better place or does it offer a better for you solution?
3. Can it be profitable?
The project or product has to meet all three of the above criterion in order to make it onto our plates. So yes, I do believe that myself and my company make it our mission to bring people cost effective solutions related to health no matter what arena. It could be a better for you water, coffee, gym, supermarket, meal plans, fitness programs, etc.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Trust your gut. The biggest mistakes I have EVER made professionally were because I didn’t trust my gut. I would second guess myself because I didn’t want to ruffle feathers or maybe I thought that the other person who was running a project knew better than me because they were supposedly an “expert” in their area of the business. This has got me into trouble across the board, whether it was crappy legal advice, crappy creative for tv shows, crappy marketing strategies for products we took on… the bottom line is that in each instance I had the gut feeling the direction was wrong, but didn’t push hard enough for the aforementioned reasons and paid for it tenfold — literally and figuratively.
2. Be a realist. In the beginning of my career I was obsessed with being a positive thinker. HUGE mistake. This truly leaves you unprepared for pretty much everything. And the ability to anticipate and prepare is critical. This quote really says it all: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
3. Only pursue your passion. Early on in my career I got caught up living the life I thought I should instead of the life I really wanted and as I mentioned above, it was the worst three years of my life. I took a job that I thought was the responsible thing and never made less money and never felt less fulfilled. You have your passions for a reason and you can and should make a living doing what you love to do. Cesar Milan is a guy who really loves dogs. Coco Chanel was an orphaned seamstress who really liked fashion. Martha Stewart ran a catering company out of her basement. And I am just a kid who did lunges to feel more empowered. It doesn’t matter what your passion, you can make a great living out of it and in truth you should. I believe each of us has those passions for a reason and it’s to share it with the world. If you want one professional responsible thing to do that would be it.
4. Be fluid. So often we get stuck in our ways. We throw good money after bad. We push an angle that is no longer viable. We lose ground, money, and time. For me this lesson came with social media. I came from the world of traditional media — tv, print, radio etc. The concept of Facebook and twitter was so foreign to me and I just couldn’t see the light until it was almost too late. I really hurt my business by not appreciating it’s value and while I have been on the page (literally and figuratively) for awhile I definitely got hurt by not adopting it sooner.
5. Take risks — especially when you are young. If you have a massive failure in your twenties it isn’t as hard as in your forties. Generally in your forties you are supporting aging parents, young kids, possibly a team of employees etc. So take big risks while you are young. The stakes are lower and the rewards are higher. And ultimately, in order to know any form of success- be it personal or professional, your ability to tolerate risk is critica