To Be Successful, Keep Moving And Stay Humble
Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer are the female leaders behind a rapidly-growing fitness franchise, Shred415. In the less than two years since announcing its business opportunity, the brand has rapidly grown and will have 100 locations by the end of 2019.
I had a chance to interview them recently. Here are highlights of that interview:
Jill Griffin: Where did you grow up? Describe your early childhood and its significance on your life.
Bonnie Micheli: I grew up in St. Louis and was fortunate enough to have two hardworking parents who were my role models – especially when it came to establishing my own work ethic. When I think of what I’ve learned from my dad, I can confidently say that his dedication and drive to finding success in the business world has allowed me as an entrepreneur to internalize his work habits. With my mom, although she was solely responsible for raising me and my siblings at home, she was always on the move. My mom always felt the urge to do something – she was never the type who could just sit around and enjoy the feeling of boredom. I’m like my mom in that sense – I’ve always considered myself an independent person, even from the moment when I was just eight years old and wanted to work to earn money so that I could use it any way that I wanted. At this time, I was mowing the lawn and by age 10, I was already babysitting. I even had a job as a full-time student in high school. My parents always told me that I didn’t have to work during the school year and always recommended working seasonal jobs, but I always had the urge to keep working and keep earning.
Tracy Roemer: I grew up in a suburb just 45 minutes north of Los Angeles called Agoura Hills. My parents were married and divorced when I was at a very young age – two years old. Both of my parents were and remain extremely loving and supportive. However, I along with my brother, lived with my mother six out of the seven days of the week. I was around my mother constantly. The time spent with her influenced me greatly. I was witnessing day-after-day my mother doing it all – going to school and working full-time while raising two young children. She was independent, responsible, disciplined and more. Knowing that she found success made me confident that I would too. I believed I could do it all – just as she did.
Griffin: When did you first get the whisper you belonged in business?
Micheli: Fitness has always been a huge part of my life. I always loved attending group fitness classes and always felt the need to add movement into my daily routine. Soon, I became a certified instructor and taught my very first fitness class – a move that eventually led me to launch Shred415 with Tracy.
Roemer: I always was told “Do more than what is asked of you” and “Ask a lot of questions.” I always considered my career my own business. It’s no secret that the world is full of competition – meaning I always felt the need to control my future which meant that I needed to stand out. I wanted to surprise people by giving them more than what they asked. I wanted people to want to continue working with me because they can’t afford to go elsewhere. With this mentality, I was able to advance in my roles.
Griffin: Was there an early teacher that inspired you? Who and how?
Micheli: My dad. He always knew what was best. He’s been the root of my drive and inspiration to become an entrepreneur. As a kid, I grew up watching him work hard for what he earned and I also saw a man who was approachable, open to new ideas, determined, encouraging to employees, and made the tough decisions when needed. His approach to all aspects of business are instilled in me. I live and breathe his sense of leadership and business acumen in my current role.
Roemer: I was inspired by many teachers during my school years but it was my 8th grade science teacher who stood out the most to me. One day, he pulled me aside and said, “You’re going to go places and I encourage you to run for student council and get involved.” I strongly believe that his encouragement changed my high school career, ultimately setting me up for success. Teachers make you come alive in the classroom, they inspire you, they excite you and ideally, they make you into a better version of yourself. I can say with absolute certainty that this teacher truly shaped my future.
Griffin: What’s a great piece of business or life advice have you received, who gave it to you, and how has it enhanced your life?
Micheli: “Stay humble.” That was always the piece of advice my dad would give me when I was just beginning Shred415 with Tracy. As founders of a fitness franchise, we’ve never stopped treating people well and it’s because each client, manger, instructor, kids’ room, front desk staff and cleaning staff members has a vast importance to us. Our team is absolutely indispensable and it’s because of the connections they’ve built with each and every team member. Without our team, we would have never found the success that we have today – over 80 agreements inked since launching our opportunity in July 2017.
Roemer: Like Bonnie, my father gave me the best advice that always sticks with me. He said “always do more than asked of you. Always participate. Be enthusiastic. Treat everyone with respect. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” As leaders and the faces behind our brand, Bonnie and I are also compassionate. Treating others how they want to be treated is our Golden Rule. We find it simple to remain grounded in our business and that’s because both of us choose to be connected with the community we’ve built through Shred415. We feel it’s critical to keep our physical appearance in our studios. Meaning, we frequently teach classes in addition to just popping into their studios to see some of their original shredders and the new faces who come to try classes. We genuinely want to know how our clients are doing and how they’re feeling – this allows us to not only catch up with them, but also lets us see how they’re liking each class. We love getting to know all our members on a personal level – we make sure they feel heard and supported both inside and outside our studios.
Griffin: Please give me the top three bullet points in your Personal Leadership Credo.
Micheli and Roemer:
- Transparency Ensures Better Results
- Positivity Is Contagious
- Equal Opportunities Foster Growth
Griffin: Describe a painful setback in your life and what it taught you.
Micheli: I had a difficult yet eye opening experience as soon as my first child was born. At the time, I was a 29-year-old stay at home mom and held that role for the first four years of his life. I was also the first of my friends to become a mom and my first collision with the reality of being a mom came when I had my son. I always consider myself a “doer” but there were moments when I would be home all day with a newborn baby and couldn’t do what I wanted. I wouldn’t even have a moment to take a short shower. The only ‘time out’ I had was when I would somehow manage to find time to hit the gym. It was my only temporary escape option – it helped me eliminate stress, fed my passion and gave me real meaning. Today, I’m a mother of two and as soon as my youngest turned one – that’s when I finally began teaching fitness classes which was an important moment in my life because I finally felt like a human being again. I was beginning to care for myself again which is so important because everyone needs a little TLC. Now, my youngest is 11-years old and I’m so proud that my kids were able to see how I learned to cultivate enough in order to be a mom and an entrepreneur.
Roemer: After being on the JV cheerleading squad during my freshman and sophomore year in high school, I did not make the Varsity team my senior year. I know this sounds silly but all my girlfriends made the team besides me. It was sad and I felt embarrassed. But after many tears, I decided to not let this moment define me and learned how to adapt to this change. Instead, it led me to discover a leadership role, allowing me to run for a position for my school’s senior class student council. What it taught me was when one door closes, another opens and there will always be a new opportunity ahead – even if it hasn’t presented itself to you yet.
Griffin: What advice do you have for young, talented, ambitious women who want to rise?
Micheli: You have to be a “doer” and never accept “no” as the final answer.
Roemer: Women – you have a voice! Many women are afraid to speak up or speak out in the workplace and turn down opportunities to showcase their talent and work. Don’t be afraid to lean into power . Be direct, assertive and confident in leadership roles.