How to lead by example and share the power, with Peerfit CEO Ed Buckley
Leadership means serving the people below you. That’s true leadership that I teach to our department heads and anyone in a leadership position at Peerfit. The only way that you can use power correctly is to give it out to the people around you.
I had the pleasure to interview Ed Buckley. With nearly 10 years in the fitness industry, and a background in digital health behavior research, Ed continues to push the envelope on innovation in the fitness-technology space. He is passionate about designing new ways to drive engagement and help deliver flexibility and personalization to the health and wellness marketplace. If you’ve met Ed, he’s probably invited you to an interval class. Ed holds a PhD in Digital Health Behavior, and a Master’s of Public Health, from the University of Florida.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thanks for having me! So I grew up as a military kid which meant moving everywhere and constantly having things going on because I had lots of siblings and an active, talkative and energetic family. Ultimately I ended up moving to Florida for my undergrad, masters and Ph.D. I then started Peerfit, and the rest is history.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
So for the most interesting thing that has happened it’s all related to our investors. We now have two sports team owners on our board. So being able to go to a pro sports game, with the owner of the Celtics, sitting courtside has been one of the most interesting things that I’ll ever be able to do. To be able to bring my father, who was born in Boston and loves the Celtics, was one of the most interesting things I’ve done, undoubtedly.
As for funniest, we are big practical jokers and pranksters at Peerfit so funny things are happening pretty often like the memes our COO is constantly creating of us. The Golden Mickey I received as an award from the team because of my love for Disney, or when I was gifted a lego private jet in lieu of an actual private jet. Our team loves to make each other laugh so funny things are happening quite often.
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
This answer can change as you grow. Hopefully it does change and you are getting new obstacles that are bigger than you have ever surmounted before. Each year there is a different type of challenge based on the professional you have become. One of the ones that sticks out is a story I have shared often. We were closing funding and the group backed out of the deal at the last minute. It was the only funding we had left and we literally were going to run out of money. The company, on paper, probably shouldn’t have made it, but we found a way to make it work. It was an uphill battle, but we kept our heads down, worked hard and pushed through, and kept a positive attitude. That was one of our more proud moments because here we are today, much much bigger.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
Leadership means serving the people below you. That’s true leadership that I teach to our department heads and anyone in a leadership position at Peerfit. The only way that you can use power correctly is to give it out to the people around you. That means empowering them, motivating them, and helping them accomplish their goals. That’s what a true leader does. And how do I do it? I try to lead by example. I try to be positive and upbeat at all times. At the end of the day we all have challenging jobs and if you can keep people’s spirits high and keep them focused and pushing at a velocity that they wouldn’t do on their own, then I think you are doing your job as a good leader.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are lots of people I am grateful to. I’m absolutely grateful to my parents for what I learned, both good and bad as a kid because it made me who I am today. I’m grateful for the traits they bestowed upon me of hardwork and positivity.
I’m also grateful for the people who took a chance on us when we were just an idea. And for Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics’ Owner) and Jeff Vinik (owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), for taking such a chance on us. They have both invested in a lot of companies, but they have both personally bought into me, our vision and my ability to execute. On paper, they both probably bought in earlier than they should and probably more than they should. But, it means a lot to me to go achieve what they saw in me. As a professional having those two guys whose reputations are outstanding buy in the way that they did, then, and every single day since, is really one of my more proud moments.
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
There are two phases of this. When we were early start up, it was easy because most of the people I hired were my friends. You have to hire people that you trust in that first group of 20. The culture, the relationship and the trust was more important, so work and non-work was a pretty gray area. But as the company got bigger, as I became more of a ‘figure’ I had to draw a line between work and personal. I had to distance myself from friends for their sake and my own and for the good of the company. That was hard at first, but honestly being on the road as much as I’m on the road, I don’t really have a personal life. My life is work, and by the way, I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. Work energizes me, challenges me and gives me great purpose.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
I don’t think it hindered the other areas. You know thinking about family, physical fitness, and emotional health, it almost made me take a more concerted effort. For example think about on a Sunday afternoon when you only have maybe two things you need to get done, how often do you not get any of those things done because you have so much time on your hands? Because I’m so busy I have to put in time and energy to schedule things like “go for a walk”, thinking time, reading time. I also now make a point to schedule months out in advance time to go see my family. I think I’m healthier and more balanced now than I was even a year or two years ago because I schedule everything both inside and outside of work.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Make a list of the things that are important to you, that will help you grow not just today, but in the future.
- Schedule a time for all of those things.
- Develop regular, weekly habits so these items become part of your routine.
- Find a buddy to be accountable with, to make sure you do those things.
- Find ways to reward yourself when you actually stick to your habits and the things that are important to you.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
There is no greater sense of accomplishment then to get to watch people become who they should be, knowing you helped encourage and motivate them to believe in themselves. To see them take a leap of faith and watch that pay off. Watching our team grow and step up has been something that has filled me with so much pride.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would create a campaign to teach people it’s ok to take care of themselves first. You know you don’t want people to be selfish and not give back to their communities and their families, but often we neglect ourselves which limits our capacity to go and help our communities and our friends and family. And what I wish to inspire is for people to know how even just the little things you do to take care of yourself can dramatically increase your ability to help others.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Authority magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live