Words of Wisdom with Mika Leah, a fitness expert, mother, young heart disease survivor and CEO of Goomi
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mika Leah, a fitness expert, mother, young heart disease survivor and CEO of Goomi. Her story has been featured in prominent news outlets such as CNN, Shape and Women’s Fitness, and she is an ambassador for the American Heart Association.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Three weeks after my 33rd birthday I was rushed into emergency heart surgery. As a young, fit, athletic mother of 2 under 2, the left main artery of my heart was blocked at 98%. 5 heart stents later, and a new lease on life, I was inspired to start the Goomi Group by bringing fitness and wellness sessions on-site to companies and schools to help everyone get fit, healthy and happy without having to leave their desks.
I learned the hard way that if we don’t take care of ourselves first, then we will not be here to take care of our family, friends, and loved ones. I am lucky to be alive and have made it my mission to share my story in the hopes that it will one day save a life.
Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Several months ago I was asked to speak at the Global Venture Summit in Los Angeles, which brings entrepreneurs and startups together with Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors. This was a whole new world to me and I was invited to a private dinner to meet the other speakers who would be presenting. This woman introduced herself to me as a VC and I humbly asked her, “What exactly does that mean you do?” She took pity on me and explained how it all worked and what all the lingo meant. I’m proud to say that we’ve “bootstrapped” it to this point! I’m never afraid to ask questions.
Yitzi: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The word “Goomi” translates to “Rubberband.” At Goomi we pride ourselves on being flexible, resilient and helping people to expand themselves both physically and emotionally. And we love applying that flexibility to our own approach. There are so many ways to approach wellness and to make the workplace fun. For example, last October we had a client request for a Halloween “Thriller” Dance class and we were able to make it happen. We are the only on-site wellness and fitness company that can offer any class in any city in the US. The possibilities are endless, from dance classes to mindfulness, experiential health fairs, cooking demonstrations, massage, acro-yoga, self defence classes, and everything in-between.
Yitzi: 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?
Absolutely. I would never have been able to achieve this success without my mother, the brave and beautiful Iriet Peshkess. She gave me the courage to leave my 6-figure career in advertising to follow my passion, and she believed that I could run my own company. My mom is the voice in my head that constantly pushes me forward telling me, “You got this!” As a single mom, I couldn’t do anything if it weren’t for her because she does it all — picking my kids up from school, helping them with their homework, buying groceries when I had a hard time making ends meet. She is always there cheering me on and supporting me. I am endlessly grateful.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe that a balanced life is possible for everyone and that is our motto at Goomi. When I see the growth that our clients and their employees experience by taking our wellness classes together, I realize that I am personally changing the lives of hundreds of people by alleviating their stress, encouraging wellness and helping people to find that balance. That is tremendously inspiring.
HR departments across the country are realizing that healthy employees make happy employees. Soon every company will be offering wellness programs. Our mission is to help people feel better and think better, so they can lead better; better lives, better organizations, better communities, and ultimately a better world!
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Ask questions. FDR once said to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and I find that the smartest leaders in business are very good at this. Don’t be afraid to ask people for explanations, you’ll only find yourself learning and growing.
- Give people chances. Sometimes you’ll find as you’re organizing your business that you’ll get the right people on the bus, but you’re not sure they’re all sitting in the right seats. This is especially important in a small business where everyone onboard needs to roll up their sleeves and just get the job done. Giving people the power and opportunity to to be flexible and nimble in their roles will give you the opportunity to make sure you have the right team in the right roles as you continue to grow.
- Make time for balance. In a business where we’re providing balance to others, it’s ironic when we become stressed. Balance requires organization of your time and prioritizing your health. With a healthy body and a balanced mind, you’ll succeed beyond your expectations.
- Take it slowly. Keep a finger on the pulse of your own growth and don’t be afraid to say no if it means your business will grow too quickly. Growing too quickly can be even more challenging than growing your business too slowly. Keep a close watch on where you are and where you’re heading with a detailed strategic plan for growth and don’t rush yourself. What may present itself as an opportunity might not be the best fit for you in the early stages of growth. Saying no is as powerful as saying yes when the timing is right.
- Stay positive, even when you hear a “no.” Rejection can be brutal. Staying positive will help you to keep the lines of communication open. Once you have a better understanding of someone’s needs, you’ll find a reason to connect in a more meaningful way and they’ll want to partner with you down the road or even be willing to refer you to others.
Yitzi: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
We are all in this world together and it is in the relationships we form and how we care for each other that propels everything forward.
Richard Branson said, “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.” I think he is very good at finding the balance between working hard and playing hard while still believing in and supporting his employees to better their lives. His approach to life is incredibly inspiring.
Yitzi: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.