Hi Sylvia, welcome to Gettopreneur’s Entrepreneurial Series Exclusive interviews.
A space to celebrate and highlight entrepreneurial achievements as we boldly include underrepresented entrepreneurs in the technology conversation.
Entrepreneurship is not a 9 to 5 gig, it is more like 24/7…
What many entrepreneurs forget is that you must take care of yourself to be able to take care of your business and ultimately your customers.
With that said Sylvia… Can you introduce yourself to our community?
Sylvia: Sure, my name is Sylvia, founder of Fit with Sylvia.
I am a Health and Fitness Professional, a public speaker and a columnist for magazines and an Instagram fitness icon featured in RSVP, Vip.Magazine, Sunday World Magazine, etc.
I quit my dream job in the corporate world and built a successful online coaching service that’s thriving.Fit with Sylvia is the result of my journey, which was not always easy.
Working as an international fashion model in my teens brought me an eating disorder from which I fully recovered.
A recent thyroid cancer operation also marked a change on a personal and professional level.
This made me stronger, both physically and mentally and put me in a better position to help others.
Sylvia, you mentioned that you recovered from an eating disorder that coincided with the time you were working as an international fashion model.
Many entrepreneurs have poor eating habits…
What can entrepreneurs start doing to change their behaviour?
Sylvia: They can start by doing online courses, or hiring a coach, not just with the specific certifications but also someone who has preferably passed through the exhausting but exciting experience as an entrepreneur.
A coach in the health areas, like a Health or Fitness Coach and/or a Nutritionist.
On the other hand, it would be nice to hire a Business Coach to keep you on track.
This is an idea that our entrepreneurs can relate with as they know how important it is to invest in themselves.
In your experience… Do people give adequate importance to exercising and nutrition?
Sylvia: Not at all! People do if they “have time”. People also focus on Exercising and Nutrition when they already feel some sort of pain or they gained weight, etc.
This should be a long term goal, a lifestyle forever, without having a short term goal in mind, like “losing the weight gained during Christmas.” And this is the short term goal, at least use it as a hook to learn from a Coach/Expert in the area and apply the healthy routines yourself for the rest of your life.
Nutrition and Exercising should be another daily task in our busy calendar and make sure it is done because that’s going to affect us in all other areas in our life.
The way we feel, how energetic of not we are.
Nutrition and Exercising should not be your priority in your life, be happy and spent time with your people is, but by integrating healthy eating habits and regular activity, we will feel in a better mood, more energetic and we develop a high confidence, etc and all this is finally reflected in our happiness, which is what really matters in life.
“I realized I was good at changing people’s lives by giving them tips and after overcoming an eating disorder, I did not want anyone to use the food as an escape of emotions like I did, until becoming sick.“
Talking about what really matters in life… You quit your dream job and built a successful online coaching service.
Can you let us know how your entrepreneurial journey started?
Sylvia: When working in the corporate world, I saw how my colleagues were using food or exercises as a way of dealing with their emotions at work, for example: non stop eating snacks because of stress, or avoiding meals because of “not having time” and I ended up giving nutrition and fitness tips to them.
When I met my now husband, he also lost around 35kg just by following my advice.
I realized I was good at changing people’s lives by giving them tips and after overcoming an eating disorder, I did not want anyone to use the food as an escape of emotions like I did, until becoming sick.
It comes from my heart to help others. This along with my ambitious personality and creativity, I started posting on Instagram and having individual sessions when I became a Fitness and Health Coach and Nutritionist.
One of the key traits of an entrepreneur is to analyse their surroundings, see where there are gaps and provide solutions to close or narrow those gaps.
Sylvia, you saw how your colleagues were using food or exercises as a way of dealing with their emotions at work and you provided them with tips that helped them change their behaviour and you were able to see and measure their success.
This is a great example of spotting a problem providing a small solution “TIPS” which can be seen as your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and most importantly you validated your value proposition with your co-workers.
Now that you have scaled and created a successful online coaching service, what do you enjoy the most about what you do?
Sylvia: Since my whole work is doing what I love, it’s hard to say.
I enjoy helping others to be happier. I enjoy when clients make progress throughout Coaching Sessions, and although I focus on Fitness and Nutrition, at the end people change their way of thinking and they change their whole life.
This is beautiful to see. I also enjoy teaching online dance classes as this helps many people to have a fitness routine – we have the classes set up on a weekly basis so they know which day and time to expect the classes.
Being in contact with my audience on Instagram is also something that I enjoy, showing my personality so they feel identified and that can help them.
Of course I also enjoy writing articles and doing public speaking in events or corporate talks because it is for a massive audience.
“The greatest challenge I have learned is getting out of my own way.”
We can’t highlight enough the importance of constantly communicating with your customers and using various channels to do so… be it social media or your preferred CRM Tool (Customer Relationship management).
Having said that, nothing beats going out there and speak directly to your customers to get that first hand feedback and public speaking events are a great way to do so.
Sylvia, you said that you enjoy helping others be happy as well as online teaching.
What would you consider to be your 3 major strengths and areas you would like to improve?
Sylvia: My personality brought me to create long term relationships with clients without the need to get constantly new clients, this made me have a successful online business.
My creativity helps me to create everything from scratch and have new ideas to keep the business growing.
Fresh content for my audience on social media channels and for my subscribers in the monthly newsletter I send over.
I am very consistent and determined in what I do. I don’t get tired of working hard because I have the goal of helping others and helping more people through online courses, online fitness programs and e-books that I am working on right now.
So I can change people’s lives without having only 1:1 Coaching sessions.I need to separate my job from my personal life because I ended up doing what I love so it’s hard to stop.
My clients’ progress makes me so happy that their messages make my day, I take it personally in a good way but I am trying to take it as a job because what If a day I have a bad experience situation with a client?
Also my time management, I am very perfectionist and It’s hard for me to stop working on something subjective, like editing a video for Instagram.
This is another great point that you have just touched and is something that we always tell our entrepreneurs… The importance of being creative… ideate… iterate… and constantly add value to your offering. That is the only way to retain your clients and scale your business.
What are the challenges you have experienced in this journey and what have you learned?
Sylvia: I have learned that there’s never an end in your business, there’s always something to do.
If you grow, you can automate processes or tasks that you do on a regular basis or delegate/hire specialists in some areas that are not your strength or you could totally trust someone to do.
The beginning of an entrepreneur career can be a nightmare but if you love what you do, others will feel that passion and more and more clients will come and will STAY with you or buy your amazing products, or whatever your business is about.
Well said Sylvia, in order to scale it’s important to know your strengths and work on addressing your weaknesses.
You can buy precious time by automating processes and it’s crucial to add talent and resources to your operation.
Talking about buying precious time… Sylvia, do you have a daily work routine? And If so, can you share it with us?
Sylvia: I wish I could have more of a daily work routine! I suppose I do so many different things.
There’s never a boring day or two similar days in a week. I try to set up days for specific tasks though.
For example, specific days for clients, adapting to their preferences, bearing in mind my calendar, other days even if I still have clients, maybe I do some admin stuff in the afternoon, like invoices, creating new choreographies or clients’ fitness programs, other times for possible interviews and blog posts.
I dedicate hours on a daily basis to social media.
This is needed for my business because I (the real person behind the brand @Fit.with.Sylvia) connect with my audience, they get to know me better and trust @Fit.with.Sylvia more.
That is another great nugget Sylvia, it is important to start building your personal brand and showcasing it…
Because in the beginning your business brand is not strong and what will help strengthen your business brand is customers seeing who is behind the brand which in turn will help you build a long lasting relationship based on value add and trust.
Now that we are on advice giving mode… Can you tell us what was the best advice you ever received and what advice will you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Sylvia: The best advice I received was “If you love what you do, you will never feel like you are working.”
My advice is: If you do what you love with PASSION, you are consistent and you are also patient…
You can keep your hobby turned into a business for life but be careful about work – it might take your whole personal time.
Remember if you want to stop working from 9am to 6pm in a company, do not work yourself for 24/7 hours, because remember, you are your own boss!
This has been a jam packed session… with lots of nuggets…very informative and inspiring…
We are going to milk it a little bit more by asking you what book or event that had the most impact in your life?
Sylvia: Titanic movie! No matter how much you love someone or if you love what you do…
if something external that you can’t control happens, like hitting an iceberg or a mental or physical illness, our life can be at risk so at least, let’s control what we can control…
Like having a healthy lifestyle, fitness on a weekly basis, healthy eating habits – everything in moderation and also a good social circle that keeps us happy.
Titanic is definitely a great movie… and the part that the violinists keep playing despite all the chaos is a testament of Leadership and Passion.
Sylvia, when I will be watching Titanic for the 100th time… I will definitely be watching it with different lenses.
WOW… Time flies when you are having fun… this means that we are approaching the end of our interview, however, we have time for a few more questions before we sign off.
Sylvia, this question is one of our community’s favorites. What is your favorite business/personal (tool software etc…) and why?
Sylvia: Asana & Trello when I was working with other colleagues in the corporate work but now that it is just my at Fit with Sylvia business.
I use very well elaborated excels that I create myself, I track everything on it.
And that is our cue…! Sylvia, is there anything you want us to know about you?
Sylvia: Yes, I got married last summer and I couldn’t be more excited! I wanted to break the stereotypes by staying away from the traditional white dress so I got married in RED!
After wearing so many original and beautiful wedding dresses during my career as a model, I realised that, as elegant as they were, they just weren’t my style.
As a Fitness and Wellbeing Coach, I’d love to spread awareness about the importance of doing what makes us happy regardless of other people’s opinions or what tradition tells us to do.
In fact, that’s what brought me an Eating Disorder back in the day – people’s opinion.
Fitness and Nutrition are essential in our day to day but with confidence and high self-esteem, we can be happier.
Self-worth and the importance of following what makes you happy and dealing with other people’s expectations and opinions is important, because that might determine our happiness.
Congratulations Sylvia, Red wedding dress that is innovation right there…!
We have had an amazing time and you have been an absolute sport and thank you once more for sharing your knowledge and story with our community.
As we strive to create a platform where all voices participate in the technological debate in order to build tech that will speak and represent all parts of the society.
We hope this conversation has inspired you to pursue your dreams, connect with people and resources that will help you grow, don’t take no as an answer but as an opportunity and most importantly TAKE ACTION!
Folks, this concludes our ENTREPRENEURIAL EXCLUSIVE SERIES interview with Sylvia Diaz.