Sweat Local Columbus

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Last year, my wife and I decided that 2015 was the year of concerts (sorry to those of you who read this blog regularly and have heard this before, but I promise I’ll move on to the point soon). So, as 2015 was winding down, we decided to dedicate 2016 to travel (and also the year of yes for me personally). We had planned a trip to Grand Cayman with Kelly’s family in March, and we have our biggest trip as a couple planned to Ireland in September. We also have a weekend in Nashville planned, and I am sure one or two other little weekend-trips will pop up as the year wears on.

But 2016 is kind of morphing into something else for us. It’s kind of turning into the year of Sweat Local Columbus.

For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I live in Columbus and are very active in the fitness community. Aside from being a spinning instructor, my wife attends yoga classes, strength and cardio classes, and just about any other class that will get her to break a sweat. I go to a lot of those same classes, but also run in just about any race that sounds like fun, and I’m also training for my first Spartan Race (next month!). I can also do a flip aided by the pull-up bar that hangs in the door frame over one of our guest rooms. Just saying… impressive stuff.

Being that we do just about as much as we can do fitness-wise around Columbus, my wife had the idea of Sweat Local Columbus — a 5k and fitness expo that aims to bring all of the boutique studios and gyms around Columbus together and put their brands and message in front of the people who consume “fitness” in our city. I remember when my wife came home with one of those ideas that start out as a “hear me out,” and turn into a “it’s really happening” in the matter of a few days. We’ve sunk a few big dollar deposits down on event space and race coordination, so, we’re kind of past the point of no return…it’s REALLY happening.

It’s exciting to see something like this come together. My wife has for sure had the heavier hand in getting SLC off the ground and running. We’ve both been pushing the event like crazy to all of the small, locally-owned gyms and studios around the city. A lot of the feedback has been positive and we’ve already secured some really great sponsors and vendors to help support.

So while we aren’t giving up on the year of travel (still looking forward to Nashville, Ireland, and wherever else we end up this year), I’m equally as excited about Sweat Local Columbus and what this might mean for us moving forward. Now the only thing we are going to have to worry about is how to top it in 2017, the year of…?

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How to build an online presence that will pay off in the real world

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A mistake I make all too often is that I write about things that have no substance — they’re fun for me to write, but don’t give you, the reader, anything solid to consider after you finish reading. I can write about what I would do if I could relive an hour of my childhood or what kind of a story a certain image might provoke, but the truth is that outside of expressing some personal creativity, the bus stops at that last period.

I recognize that blogging posts like these doesn’t build my personal brand and doesn’t represent me in the way that I would like to be perceived online.

This is the issue with a lot of the content that gets posted to the internet. We live in a generation of picture-swipers that have a hard enough time deciding which filter to use on Instagram, let alone reading to the end of a 1,000 word blog post.

But building an online presence is more than just writing good blog posts or saying all the right things on Twitter. If your medium of choice is Instagram or Snapchat, you can still follow some key considerations that will help you build a strong and successful brand. The big things that need to be considered are:

  • Authenticity
  • Value
  • Inspiration
  • Specificity
  • Plausibility

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Authenticity

Being authentic in your blog or social media is paramount in establishing a good online presence. If someone is hilarious in real life, but blogs like a robot I am not going to be all too interested in what they have to say. That’s not to say funny people HAVE to be funny online, but you have to be true to who you are. If the real you and the person you’re portraying don’t add up, people will see through you. As sad as it is for me to say, the reason the Kardashians are as successful as they are is because they are as vain in real life as they are on social media (I say this as someone who has never kept up with any of the Kardashians, but I don’t think my saying they’re a little full of themselves is too far off base).

Value

Value begins and ends with letting go of ego and having a genuine desire to improve what it is you’re doing. In order to make something more valuable, you have to continue learning, improving, and challenging yourself to make a better product. Being derogatory to your friends was great in college, but there is no place for it if you are trying to establish an online brand. Unless you’re Rob Delaney, save the fart jokes for the bar and make an effort to put out a consistent voice through social media that makes your brand appear world-class to other users.

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Inspiration

If you just want to post pictures of your dog and fill out those “which animal cracker best defines your childhood” surveys on Facebook, more power to you. I’m going to block you from my feed, but by all means, Nilla-penguin, live your life. However, if you want to have people pay attention to you, you have to add some value to someone’s life. Tell stories with a purpose, comment on people’s blogs ONLY IF YOU’VE READ THEM. Inspiring people come from all walks of life, and you don’t have to be a revolutionary to be inspiring. Start with being yourself and be kind to others, and you’ll be surprised at how people will pay attention to you.

Specificity

When I first began blogging, I was all over the place. I wrote about poker, running, my dog (who still might make an appearance here or there)… I did some “creative fiction,” talked about my marriage, and about how poor my golf game gets in the winter time. The point is, I was lost and just reaching in every direction trying to get views. Specificity doesn’t mean you have to talk about one subject only for the rest of your life, but have some direction and stick to it. If ESPN started showing election coverage, they wouldn’t be true to their audience. Think of your online presence in the same way. Decide who you are and focus your content on that across all social platforms.

Plausibility

Plausibility means how likely is it that what you represent or have to say is realistic or applicable to the real world? Building a powerful brand online means what you say have to have real meaning to a wide audience on the other side of the screen. I could tell you why Israel is the next hotbed for rare diamonds, but how many people would be able to fly out to Jerusalem and start asking around for some buyers? Probably not many. But, if I tell you that waking up five minutes early and doing 50 push ups will jump start your metabolism and give you more energy throughout the day, that is something you could actually do. (For the record, doing 50 push ups will jump start your metabolism and I really couldn’t tell you left from right about diamonds in Jerusalem.)

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So once you have figured out how to be online, the trick is making the most of it. The simple truth is, you have to be diligent and keep your eyes open for opportunity. The best way to do this is to connect with as many other influencers as your can by reaching out and doing your best to network online. Explore every open door that might lead to another opportunity, and never be afraid to say “yes.”

The process is not a fast moving one, but little by little, you’ll see that by being authentic to who you are and having a consistent message will open doors and lead to real opportunities in the real world.

10,000 Hours

I wrote before about what it takes to be an expert. Recently, I’ve been reading a book called Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. It was a book recommended for any budding entrepreneur, and since I have my hand in a couple cookie jars at the moment, I thought a book like this would be good for me.

What Outliers aims to do is to inspire it’s readers to put in the work even when there isn’t a definite target ahead of you. It talks about the concept of 10,000 hours, and how you can’t truly become an expert at something until you’ve put in 10,000 hours reading, practicing, absorbing and doing that thing. It cites some of the world’s most successful people and shows you that it wasn’t always their drive to be the biggest/best in the world at something, but rather they did something they loved or were good at, and when the opportunity came, they were ready for it.

So if you’re like me, you want to take over the world. I want to create a business that is so successful that I can set my own hours and have the peace of mind that I can take care of myself and my family without having to worry about finances. I want to work when I want to work, and work HARD for something that I can see grow and see reward.

My wife and I talk about it all the time, what it would be like when we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves and we have the freedom to work harder and see a direct correlation in benefits. But what does it take to get there?

That’s where the idea of 10,000 hours comes in to play…

In a nutshell, if you do something for 10,000 hours to truly be an expert at it. It doesn’t mean that if you love fishing, and you fish for 10,000 hours that you’ll somehow find some magic formula that will make you rich. It means that, provided you keep your eyes open and you are dedicated to reaching for your dreams and not giving up, that after those 10,000 hours something might happen where you’re expertise will allow you an opportunity that you might not otherwise have ever received.

My brother is going through some hard times stemming a lot from motivation. I think he is at an age where it’s easy to pass your classes with little more than the smarts you woke up with, and he doesn’t apply himself to anything he really loves. I remember being that age and remember those same feelings. My parents tried to motivate me, but it never seems to come out right when you don’t want to hear it. I wish at his age I could have read something like Outliers and taken it to heart because it would have let me see my passions in a different light.

I loved baseball. I think I knew deep down that I would never go pro, but from the time I was 5 years old, I played every spring, summer, and fall (and for the few years I lived in South Florida, winter too). I put in 10,000 hours and I could have been an expert at baseball. But my problem was motivation and a lack of foresight to see past my lack of ability to be a professional. I could have been a great, GREAT baseball writer. I could have called games. I could have been a scout, agent, coach, GM, or even a great owner if I would have not decided to move on to something else.

So now, I write. I am a great writer and I am using this tool to explore a couple of business ventures that I am committed to making successful. And the best part is I have someone behind me who wants the same thing. And beyond that, I am so optimistic because my wife balances out what I am not great at so that we can collaborate on ideas and projects that WILL be successful in the near future.

So I’m done with hoping, wishing, thinking that I deserve something because I want it or anything like that. It’s time to put in the time and earn every reward I have coming my way!

Thinking BIG

My wife and I are starting a start up business. Scratch that. My wife and I have started a start up business. We met with lawyers, we have set up a functional website, and we have been starting to reach out to people to spread the word about what we’re doing. 

We still have a lot of things to figure out. Our business model connects people to people, so there isn’t any tangible “thing” that we’re selling. So, we have to figure out how we’re going to make money and allow the business to grow. We have to figure out how to reach as many people and expand our horizons as far as how many people we can connect. We have to figure out how to raise capital and track progress and all of those other pesky things you do when you launch a business. 

The old me would have focused on that last paragraph and lost hope. The old me would have stood at ground level and looked up at the mountain of work, sweat, arguments and hours it was going to take to even make a dent in conquering that mountain and stayed the course with my 9-5…

The new me is thinking BIG.

To help motivate myself, I have been reading a lot of books about strategy, how our brains work, and even continuing to read Atlas Shrugged because (1.) I have been reading this book since I MET my wife and just got past the half way point and (2.) because reading books like that help me feel like I can do anything, think like a business tycoon, and believe that I can do whatever it is I want to do if I want to do it bad enough.

Another book I am reading is called, The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz. This book reinforces, more than anything, a positive outlook on everything from relationships to business to the way we dress and how we can motivate ourselves to be the best possible version of ourselves that we can be. In it, Schwartz constantly reminds you that you don’t have to be the smartest or richest person to get where you want to go, but the most determined. 

I actually put into practice one of his lessons the other day. I was driving out to meet with a customer and Schwartz said to give yourself a pep talk. If you take 5 minutes before a big presentation or meeting and tell yourself 3 things that you think are your strongest attributes, and tell yourself why whatever it is you’re about to do will succeed, you’re bound to impress. 

So I was driving out, and I turned the radio off as I was getting off the exit ramp. I told myself that I was confident, that people like me, and that the customer was going to walk away from our meeting getting exactly what it was he wanted to get out of it. I couldn’t help but think of that old Saturday Night Live bit where the guy looks in the mirror and says something about “you’re good enough, smart enough, and dog gone it, people like you.” The funny thing, though, was that it actually worked. I WAS more confident and it showed. Instead of trying to be the people-pleaser that I usually am, I was confident and whatever he asked me I answered in a confident manner. 

Anyway, I think that taking this attitude towards launching a business is exactly what I need to take the business from the “I hope we make it” phase to the “we will make it” phase. I will not doubt that my wife and I will make this a success. And here’s the part that would have scared me off before:

We don’t have the next FACEBOOK idea and we’re not going to ever be as big as Google. 

Our idea is good — really good, but I know that our business model will shift and move to whatever it is the business will ultimately become. 

I don’t know how we will make money doing this right now but I know that we will do this until we do make money and we accomplish what we’re setting out to do. 

It’s not about making a million dollars or living in a 3 story beach-front house. It’s about the realization that I want to dictate the direction I go in life on my own terms. I want to be able to say that I made a choice, stuck with it, and followed through (and was successful at it).

So while I might not be ready to make it today, I am determined enough to know that I am making it today and that tomorrow holds much, much bigger things for me.

Chasing the Dream

I think everyone who has ever worked for somebody else has dreamed of running the show. From the stock room worker who dreams of her own clothing line to the 9-5 desk-jockey dreaming of the bigger office, everybody at one point or another has dreamed of making the rules.

I think I am on the verge of that chase.

Right now I work at a well-paying, 9-5 job. I don’t love the fact that I sit in front of a computer screen most of the day answering emails and filling out spreadsheets, but I genuinely like the people I work with and I think the work week moves pretty quickly.

SIDE NOTE: the last place I worked was very similar as far as what I did on a day to day basis, but the days and weeks drug on like there was no tomorrow. If you are reading this and you are stuck in a job where your days drags and you just watch the clock from the time you go in to the second you leave, start looking for something else.

Anyway, I like my job enough to not have any real complaints.

But….

I want to chase the dream. I want to dictate my own salary based on the amount of work I do as opposed to getting the same paycheck week to week. I think that will motivate me to push myself beyond what I have to this point. I want to work for something I believe in. Like I said, I like the company I work for now, but I don’t really care if the product we sell does great or tanks, so long as it doesn’t affect my paycheck. I want to have a titanium business card that reads, “Ryan Rauch: Owner and CEO,” or something to that effect.

I really think I am on the verge of that chase.

The scary thing is the jumping off point. I think without anything more than an idea, it’s hard to imagine leaving my desk job and really committing myself to this dream. But I also think that people think that about anything new.

Before you learn to ride a bike, you panic at the idea of your dad letting go of the seat and would never dream of being able to cruise around the neighborhood without even thinking about how hard riding a bike used to be.

Before you take that AP Algebra class, you look at the problems in the back of the book and think there’s no way you’ll ever grasp it. But you do…

Last year I ran my first marathon. If you would have told the overweight, high-school kid that I used to be that one day I would run 26 miles I would never have believed you. I had a hard enough time running around the outfield during baseball practice. But after I graduated college, I committed to the idea of running a marathon to prove to myself that I can reach a seemingly unattainable goal and I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be.

I think that’s one of the biggest problems of my generation. This idea that everything has to be perfect before we can do something. We can’t do anything until we research the background of something, cite examples in the real world, weight our options, list pros and cons, discuss it with our friends, and make sure the idea is as solid as it could possibly be.

I believe that in order to find out how cold the water in the pool is, we shouldn’t buy a thermometer on Amazon and wait for it to arrive, we should just jump in!

So that’s what I’m doing. Well, that’s what my wife and I are doing. We both have the dream to make the rules and set the tone and live life on our terms. We have the idea, and I think we’re about to dive in head first.

I hope that this is the beginning of something great. I hope that I will look back at this point of my life and say that this was when I decided to take charge of my life and do what it is I’ve always wanted to do.