Two months ago, I was contacted by Lindsay Vastola, Editor of PFP Magazine, regarding interest in featuring me as the magazine’s “Journey to Success” story. I have a lot of respect for PFP (Personal Fitness Professional). It was an honor to visit with Ms. Vastola and share my journey with readers of PFP Magazine. To read the interview, simply click on the picture below. Once directed to the URL, click “layout,” then “paper” from the top toolbar on the screen so that the article will be legible.
I owe a lot of my success to my dad, Robert Dabbs. He has thirty-five years of entrepreneurial experience as a preschool photographer. Dad is both my biggest fan and my greatest resource for business advice. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from Dad and others along the way. I hope they’ll help you on your own journey!
1. ”Oh, Presentation Everything!” (Dad’s words, exactly)
Whether you are creating a website, meeting a potential new client, or selling a widget, how you present yourself is a direct reflection of your quality. Choose your presentation wisely. It will mark your perceived value in the consumer’s mind.
As many of you know, I often use self-depricating humor when talking about my freshman attempt at making a workout DVD. Not only was the DVD filled with cheesy one-liners and a soundtrack that sounded like 70s porn, but my packaging was equally underdone. As a new business owner, I tried to cut expenses in any way possible. My strategy was to buy manilla envelopes from Office Depot in bulk. With a Sharpie marker, I’d handwrite the recipient’s address on the front. I’d then shove the DVD inside along with a homemade business card, wrap the whole thing up with scotch tape, and send it off. I can only imagine that customers pulled that thing out of the mailbox and thought “what kind of business sends their merchandise in a manilla envelope?” Poor quality was sealed in the customer’s mind of my company, myself, and my DVD long before the video ever made it into their player. Packaging was cheap, but cutting costs on presentation meant I would probably never see that customer again. With the release of my second DVD, Cardiopump Fusion, one of my personal favorites to date, I also hired a graphic designer to redo my business cards, stationary, envelopes, and website. I ordered Uline boxes for DVD mailers. Now, when you order videos from Cardiopump Fitness, you will open your mailbox to find a beautiful box with a professional label and an excellent professional workout DVD inside. (My original DVD is no longer sold on this website. If you are curious and would like to purchase a copy as a “collector’s item,” email email@example.com).
2. If You’re Good at Something, Make Sure You Get Paid For It
Like doctors that get accosted while at the supermarket or church by random people with aches and ailments, wanting a diagnosis and treatment, fitness professionals are highly sought after for free advice. Our advice is valuable because we have spent countless hours in school, certifications, workshops, and seminars to learn the most current and relevant research to base the sound advice that we give. That knowledge came at a price. Yet, the higher you climb up the fitness ladder, the more requests we get to offer our wisdom and talent for free. We tell you to buy fresh and healthy food because it’s richer in nutrients, but to afford to eat clean and organically, ourselves, we absolutely have to make money. Because we so love helping people make healthy life changes, it’s hard for us to avoid just giving away our time and services, but it’s necessary. Give it away long enough and you won’t have a job- you’ll have a hobby.
Volunteering time for charity or for a cause is a great thing, and entrepreneurs should feel compelled to get involved with a cause greater than themselves. That is a different thing, altogether. Be very careful with the slippery slope of giving your services for free to clients. I recommend keeping a blog, mass email distribution, or post workouts to your website as a great way to influence the masses without any cost to them. This allows fit pros to give the public invaluable fitness, health, and nutrition resources without spending a lot of time on individual consultations.
When I told my dad about a conference I presented at (for free), not too long ago, his response was this:
BB, that’s great! When the dust settles, you can ask them the same question that the old lady at a restaurant in Quitman, MS once asked your granddaddy. Granddaddy was leaving the restaurant and he turned to the old lady who owned the place and said, “Ms. Twilly, that was mighty good.” And her reply was, “Well ain’t you goin’ to pay fer it?”
3. Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken.
Some of my dad’s favorite work that I’ve ever done are the “BB’s Back Burner” episodes, especially episode 1. He loves that I’m just being my silly and quirky self. ”Just be BB,” he always tells me when I’m wound up tighter than a top before a presentation. I would love to be taken as seriously as Mark Verstegen, but presenting as scholastically as he doesn’t fit my personality. I would love to say some of Petra Kolber’s cute encouraging remarks in my own workout videos, but without an adorable British accent, they don’t quite roll off my southern tongue the same. Trying to be other fitness personalities only makes me a sub-par version of myself.
Get to know yourself and be the real you in every facet of life. Those who love you will love you, quirks and all. Those who don’t won’t like you, anyway.
4. Be Grateful for your Accomplishments, But Keep Striving for Better.
None of us have done so much or are so exceptional that an arrogant attitude is justified. We all work hard and achieve milestones, but there is always room for improvement. Every accomplishment is a gift, and it should be embraced with a humble spirit. Humility is beautiful. Be grateful for your good fortune, but keep striving to make an even greater difference in the world.
“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself, either. Your choices are half chance. So are everyone else’s.” Lyrics from Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen by SunTan