Earlier this year I was asked to write a blog in my role as Ambassador for MyGroupFit which is sister entity to FitPro. I felt it was important to repost it here at this time as we head towards a new year. As you all know I'm big into NOT focusing on weight loss and so due to the fact that the most popular New Year's resolution is to lose weight, I like to proffer an alternative focus for change, should you absolutely feel the need to make any change in your life.
I did, because I wasn't getting anywhere - in my business. Look out for my review of how all this went in the next couple of days....
"Picture the scene: It’s misty… The heroine of the story (looking fashionably dishevelled but still beautiful of course) is stumbling around in the haze, trying to navigate debris on the path. She says "Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going?" The path is strewn with debris of stuff that isn’t working and she can’t see a way forward…
This was me a little while back. No, that didn’t really happen, I’m being metaphorical. The path is a metaphor for my career and I had to take a serious look at what I was doing. Like so many fitness professionals I was getting worn out, going round in circles, not progressing with anything and often I felt like I was flogging a dead horse.
So I began a process of stripping away and letting go of the stuff that was not sparking joy in me. I did a little KonMari on my life (the KonMari Method is the Japanese art of decluttering one’s home conceived by Marie Kondo who presents an illustrated guide to her method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for shirts and socks and also provides advice on whether to keep necessary items that may not bring you joy.) My career needed decluttering.
The first thing to go… RaveFit®.
I had been working on this project for approximately 10 yrs, but by my own admission had left it too late to launch the training course, which I should have done 5 years previous and as such another brand, who had nailed their branding and business model, launched their programme just before mine and gained ground quickly, to the point where I was being asked if RaveFit was a cheap copy. I soldiered on for months but in all honesty, I was gutted that everything I had envisaged for my brand was being done well by another. My heart was broken. I saw my friends and peers jump onboard, some even creating their own versions… and why not, they owed me nothing. Waving glow sticks around in the dark to music was not something I could claim as my idea in the first place. But RaveFit® no longer sparked joy, quite the opposite, it sparked pain and it had to end. I appreciate that in business competition is healthy and unavoidable but when I made that decision, a weight was lifted and with a lot of prayer all hard feelings were wiped away.
Apart from the competition, RaveFit® had also been an issue for another reason. It wasn’t the only thing that made up my repertoire and what I was well known for.
I also had the ‘other side’ of what I do which is helping women to feel fabulous regardless of their shape or size via my School of Strut® dance classes such as Strutology®, Raunch®, SweatSexy™ etc. As a larger lady in the Fitness Industry I completely identify with larger ladies who are trying to lose weight and I have a passion for helping them realise they should stop putting so much pressure on themselves... now this sparked joy. Teaching a class and having women tell me about what happened afterwards… “#RaunchEffect”… is very powerful.
But having these 2 strands to my bow was causing me grief and confusion. I was sending out mixed signals. On one hand I was teaching to 2500 at Wembley Arena for the Comic Relief Danceathon giving it large with the “Big Fish Little Fish, Cardboard Box” and on the other hand thriving off the persona of raunchy, curvy minx in high heels. If you’d have asked one group “who is Zoe?” they’d have said “She’s a curvy dance teacher who helps to make us feel really sexy, she’s kind and funny and really makes us feel at ease” and another group would say “she’s off her head, she’s crazy, jumps around like a nutter, really makes us work hard, never sweated so much”. The 2 descriptions just do not match up. Are you sure we’re talking about the same person?
I have had Personal Branding Schizophrenia for most of my career… and I’ve done ok. But I’ve failed more than I have succeeded.. BUT THAT’S OK! Failure is just discovering ways to not do something.
And yet the penny still hadn’t dropped…. so I tried something else. I know, I’ll become a YouTube star!! Actually this not quite how it began. I started my blog in order to be relevant, to learn about all things t'interwebby and was going to do something different everyday (oh how little I knew at the time)...
- Man Crush Monday (something to brighten up mondays, a hot guy sent to your inbox)
- ToneTuesday (workout video)
- Woman Crush Wednesday (interview with the countless gorgeous women I know)
- Throw Back Thursday (social proof of my skills and what I’ve done in the past)
- Future Friday (where you can find me and catch my classes over the coming weeks).
Seemed like a good plan, but I had NOT realised what sort of time this would take up and one by one the days dropped off. The only thing I kept was #ToneTuesday. Even this took me several days to put together.
All the kids were YouTubing and I didn’t even realise at this point to what extent the kids were making these videos and making money (pronounced “mon-AAAAAAY”) from it! But after 42 weeks of diligently providing awesome free content, views were not going up and I was exhausted. #ToneTuesday which had at one point sparked joy was no longer doing so. I told my ‘fans’ I was taking a break… but the weight that lifted told me that it needed to be more than a break. If I am to expend this amount of energy on something surely it would be better spent in the direction i actually want to go in, right? I was STILL giving out mixed messages. Telling women that they’re gorgeous just as they are and then showing them how to reduce their bingo wings and get a thigh gap (although that last one was tongue in cheek).
It was at this point that I realised that all I wanted to do was encourage women. Not to encourage them to stick to their diets, to do one more workout, to never give up… but to encourage them to stop pressurising themselves, stop focusing on the bits they don’t like, start being kind to themselves, not hard on themselves. I had an awesome brand in School of Strut® and fabulous sub-brands within the Strut umbrella, and thus I began to figure out how I can get my message across to the most amount of people.
I created a private Facebook group (Secret Strut Syndicate) and invited women to help me figure out how to provide products specifically tailored to them. These ladies have become my support network - thank you ladies, you know who you are! And I am slowly developing the plan, laying the foundations, creating the vision of my online body positivity hub where you will find online dance classes, blogs, vlogs and interviews, confidence courses and webinars. And I’m very excited.
Even now though I need to get more focused. I still have a tendency to jump from one thing to the next, within this one thing I’ve chosen. A friend once told me that if you throw a load of balls up in the air, you can only really catch one ball. Do one thing, get it up and running, move on to project 2. So it’s still very much a work in progress but let’s see what happens in the next couple of months, eh?
So to summarise "Find your niche, create a brand and watch it grow." I think it was Peter Jones who said that. Stop wasting time flogging a dead horse. Strip away the stuff that doesn’t serve you well and discover what floats your boat and what you could be the best of the best at. Then get tunnel vision and go hell for leather towards it! I hope this has helped encourage someone out there - drop me a line if so, or if you have any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you want to find out about my progress as it happens jump on my mailing list here: http://zoemcnulty.com/sign-up
Follow my School of Strut® Instagram posts for daily giggles and motivation (not of the fitspo kind, I should warn you) and videos http://instagram.com/schoolofstrut
Join my private FB group: http://Facebook.com/secretstrutsyndicate
And join me for my live event, the Strut Summit on November 19th in London, loads of time yet but over half the tickets have sold already: http://strutsummit2.eventbrite.co.uk
Happy Strutting and Stay Sexy, Zoe xxx"