Think about the last time you watched one of your favourite health and fitness personalities or entrepreneurs on TV or read about them in a magazine. There's a good chance that today's Smart Girl was behind it! Lisa Simone Richards is not only a PR guru for health and fitness professionals, but is an avid athlete herself. Today, we'll share her tips for balancing it all:
Name: Lisa Simone Richards
Tell us about your job in 100 words or less. I help health, fitness, and wellness entrepreneurs harness the power of publicity to grow their businesses. Through Vitality PR & Communications, my main business, I do PR on behalf my clients, getting them featured in magazines, newspapers, on TV, blogs, podcasts – you name it. What I’m growing into right now, the next evolution of my business, is teaching them how to do what I do - learn how publicity works, how to find the right contacts, and how to do their own pitching in a DIY style approach. Either way, ultimately I get them coverage, credibility and clients.
Career accomplishment you are most proud of? Oooh that’s a tough one, I have a lot. Some of my favourite moments have been fitness DVD shoots in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, going on stage after Jillian Michaels, plus winning an inspiration medal at the 2014 IDEA World Health & Fitness Conference, and helping a former CEO win a bunch of different awards in both fitness and business categories. If I really had a narrow it all down to one accomplishment though, it would be getting my clients (they’re an identical twin duo) a regular guest expert spot on one of the country’s biggest daytime TV shows. The show has a live studio audience and any time my clients would have a segment, it turned into a family affair: mom, dad, siblings, friends – the whole gang would be a part of the audience that day. Nothing made me more proud than seeing my clients have a great media segment and then share that experience with some of the most important people in their lives. It’s so unbelievably sweet at the end of a shoot to have their mom give me a hug and say how happy she is to see her sons achieve such success.
Best piece of career advice you’ve received? Don’t wait for opportunities to be handed to you – create them. I’m not sure who taught me that but straight out of school I was always very determined to get exactly what I wanted out of my career and not just take whatever jobs were available. Right out of undergrad, there were two companies I wanted to work for (at different times). Neither of them were hiring at the time, but I was persistent to the point that they actually created a PR internship specifically for me and by the end of them, both offered me full-time gigs. I wouldn’t be where I am if I just nicely and politely sat around waiting for someone to notice me and offer me the experiences I wanted to have.
What advice would you give to other young professional women? Advocate for yourself fearlessly. In the first few months of working independently, I was still building my business confidence. I didn’t charge quite what I was worth, I wanted to be considered nice and accommodating – that quickly left me feeling pretty resentful. I’ve since learned business first with no apology and have zero shame around that – two of my friends have been amazing with helping me learn and implement firm boundaries. Yes, this is what I charge and it isn’t up for negotiation. I have a proven track record and will walk away from any ‘opportunity’ that doesn’t recognize my value. For the most part, people can only take advantage of you if you let them. So I don’t let them. I’ve definitely learned to be more of a hard a$$ in the last few months, and it sets the standard of how I expect to be treated and respected.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Five years from now I will have fully transitioned into the PR online education space – as much as I love it, I don’t see myself doing one-to-one client work past 2017. I want to create something scalable and not limit myself to trading time for dollars. Ideally, I’ll be doing a ton of travelling, waking up wherever in the world and working in some cute café in the morning, then spending my afternoons and evenings exploring!
How do you like to stay active? A few years ago, I was surprised to learn how much I love group fitness. So typically you’ll find me at some cardio class of sorts – I love kickboxing, Spinning, Moksha yoga, aerial yoga. I’ll do most of my strength training solo unless I find an awesome kettlebell class. I’ve been getting out of my comfort zone lately and adding dance classes into my routine – I tried Beyography for the first time and it was SO fun – I’ll definitely be doing a lot more of that.
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of? In 2014 I decided to try my hand at a bodybuilding competition as a bikini athlete. That was three months of dedicated training (up to three times a day!), really regulated eating (we’re talking food scales), and lots of ‘posing’ classes. It isn’t something I’d be up for again, but it was a really fun experience. I’m proud of staying dedicated to that for as long as I did, though I’ll be honest – I definitely cheated and secretly ate a few cupcakes while training!
What tools and resources do you use to help you stay on track with your fitness goals (apps, journals, books, websites, gadgets etc.)? Truthfully, nowadays just the S Health tracker on my [Samsung] phone is good enough. In the past though, I would manually log and record my training. Actually, one of my favourite online resources is Jamie Eason’s three-month LiveFit program. It’s free and a great starting spot for a comprehensive workout plan with zero guesswork.
Favourite spot for healthy eats: Mmmmmm I swear by brunch at Fresh – it’s even better than a ‘normal’ brunch. That tempeh bacon, hot sauce, and almond blueberry pancakes? YUM! Other new favourite spots I’ve been hitting up in Toronto include Sweat and Soda (perfect spot to park up and work for the day while eating healthily), Kupfert and Kim, B.good, and Calii Love.
Favourite spot for tasty treats: In any given week, I definitely will be grabbing food at Levetto, Golden Turtle, Porchetta, and a really good burger from somewhere. When I’m on a healthy kick I’m pretty religious about it, but now I’ve totally become one of those people who exercises so I can enjoy whatever tasty delights I feel like!
Last book you read: I’ve just finished Dr. Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. It was phenomenal and I got through it in a day. I’m looking forward to picking up two of her other titles, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. Right now I’m reading The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington.
Favourite quote: I’ve never seen Star Wars (Oh, the horror when I tell people this!) but I believe Yoda said ‘Do or do not, there is no try’. I’m working on eliminating the word ‘try’ from my vocabulary. Do or don’t. No in betweens and no excuses.
Do you prefer routine or spontaneity? What does a typical day look like for you? A year ago I would have answered ‘routine’ without even thinking about it. But I’m growing into spontaneity more and more. My typical day is working in a coffee shop from 9 til noon, heading home for lunch and a chill session, then finding a second work spot for the afternoon. I know a lot of entrepreneurs brag about never sleeping and always hustling but that’s not what I’m interested in my life looking like at all – I work maybe five or six hours a day, seven days a week and that’s perfect to me.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced pursuing both career and health and fitness goals? I’m sure there has to be a challenge somewhere that I’m not thinking of, but I’m really fortunate to say that career + health and fitness have always gone hand in hand. Even when I was in corporate, I worked for fitness companies so they absolutely believed in allowing the space to get a workout in during the day. When I worked for a boot camp company, it was no problem to dip out for 90 minutes to go to hot yoga in the middle of the day, or to leave work early because I had to go instruct one of the actual boot camps. We even would all take turns making healthy lunches for each other!
Do you believe work-life balance truly exists? Yes, I think anything you want exists once you ditch the excuses and make it happen.
Why do you think committing to health and fitness is important for young professional women? It’s really imperative because 1) it’s a healthy outlet to unleash any frustrations from the workday, 2) it’s a great way to refresh, clear the mind and helps with problem solving and 3) we’re so likely to overdo it and burn ourselves out – keeping our minds and bodies in prime condition will help us better function in work and life.