What I’ve learned from having Chalene as a Mentor
When I think of the most influential people in my life, one person stands out beyond others – Chalene Johnson.
You may know her from TV – hit infomercials like Turbo Jam (which I had the privilege to be in), Turbo Fire and PiYo… Or maybe you are familiar with her podcasts The Chalene Show or Build Your Tribe. Or it’s possible you’ve heard of the 131 Method or Marketing Impact Academy.
All in all, Chalene is an extremely successful entrepreneur who has a way of connecting with millions of people around the globe. She’s a phenom. And the cool thing is: She’s one of the most real, down to earth people I’ve ever met.
I met Chalene in 2002 when Turbo Kick (The gym workout) was really on the rise. Chalene actually TAUGHT my Turbo Kick certification. I’d only ever taken 2 classes in the gym then I heard about the certification coming to my school. As a Kinesiology major, we got extra credit when we took certifications so I signed up.
I met that little blonde spitfire and FELL IN LOVE with the format! It was everything I loved all combined into one exercise: fitness, fun, dancing, martial arts and MUSIC! SO. Much. FUN.
A few weeks later Chalene called the school looking for me (specifically, by name) and asked if I would come in to interview for an “internship” at the company, Powder Blue Productions.
I was busy… like, BEYOND busy. I was basically putting myself through college working 3 part-time jobs and taking about 21 units per semester. So… I didn’t call back for SIX MONTHS!
Eventually, I did call back (when my schedule lightened up) and I agreed to come in for an interview. I was later hired on as the 2nd full-time employee at Powder Blue Productions and we built a multi-million dollar company together. (Yes, I say TOGETHER because, from DAY 1, Chalene said (to me, the intern) “I want you to treat this business as if it were you own.” And I did. I felt a moral responsibility to be the best I could with that internship (even if was just taking out the trash or picking up lunch for her and her husband, Bret). I took it very serious and eventually I became Vice President.
I worked for Chalene and Bret Johnson for 10 years at Powder Blue Productions. It was one of the best times of my life. I kinda feel like I grew up there because I learned to be the entrepreneur I am today because of their mentorship. I want to share with you the 5 most impactful things I learned.
1) Treat Me Like a Kindergartener: Ok… I’m not sure if I ever physically heard Chalene says these exact words, but I did hear her say several times, to people in meetings something to this effect. Basically, she taught me, through watching her interactions that it’s OK to admit that you don’t understand something. It’s ok to ask people to slow down, break it down in simpler terms and really come from a place of “look, I don’t get it… can you explain it differently.” This is a valuable lesson because we MUST BE LIFE-LONG STUDENTS if we want to continue to grow and become better people. I still use this to this day.
2) Think Outside the Box:
In planning for our very first Camp Turbo event, Chalene explained to me this grand idea of basically a CIRCUS to be the opening act… Like Cirque du Soleil (which was the inspiration for PiYo, by the way)… In my mind, it was already impossible. How would we hire circus performers for our camp? So, I poked around on the internet a little and reported back that it couldn’t be done. That wasn’t the right answer… She got quiet and said, “Really? I’ll call you back” – like 20 min later Chalene had a LIST of companies we could hire to do what I thought was impossible. From that moment on, I didn’t think “impossible” – that one thing taught me that EVERYTHING can be figured out… you just have to be willing to do some research on HOW to do it.
3) The Difference is in the Details:
One of the things we would do at Powder Blue Productions is recruit and hire Master Trainers to recruit and train instructors in the formats of Turbo Kick, PiYo, Hip Hop Hustle, and All-Star Presenter Camp. A theme one year was “The Difference is in the Details.” The entire 3-day event had this interwoven throughout. We learned how subtle changes can drastically affect how others viewed and received us as Master Trainers (I was both VP & a Master Trainer). We learned that slight changes in our makeup, outfits, how we styled our hair, vocal tone, eye contact, smiling, facial expressions and even how we listen can be dramatically improved just by paying attention to the details. While the rest of my age group was enjoying the “college comfy” I was dressing for success and yes – even wearing MAKEUP to teach FITNESS classes… why? Because it helps me look more awake, which conveys better energy and eye contact. It’s all about the details. Show people, you care about yourself and them enough to pay attention to those details.
4) No Gossip Allowed: Negativity is like a cancer and attitudes are contagious. We had a strict rule in the office. No gossip. What I LOVE about a Chalene is not only did she not tolerate gossip, she also didn’t allow negativity to take up space in her mind. I remember when we would get complaints she would ask “Is it something I can change?” and if the answer was no, then she didn’t even want to hear it! But don’t you want to hear all the horrible things they’re saying so you can defend yourself? I would think… but no, she didn’t. And the staff took that posture as well. It’s powerful because it helped me rise above attacks that came against the office as well as in my personal life. Some people just want to drag you down and they can only do that if you let them.
5) You Can Be Successful and Still be a Good Person: I LOVE telling people that Chalene is just the same in person as she is on TV and in social media. Legit. She is. She’s one that’s a good example of how not to let riches and fame and fortune go to your head. I admire her and Bret so much for that. They’re good people. I would do anything for them and I believe they would do anything for me as well. That makes my heart happy.
It’s important to have mentors in your life that speak truth to you, even if it’s messy or if you don’t want to hear it. I believe that both Chalene and Bret have been that for me throughout the years and I truly owe so much of my business mindset to them and how they SHOWED ME every day, for 10 years, how to be a business owner.
They taught me how to work smart, not hard They taught me how to train others. They taught me how to recruit, interview, hire and even fire people with dignity. They showed me that you can have a business that doesn’t own you. They showed me that you can have a life by design but most of all they showed me how to care about people in the business with so much passion that they feel like family. For that, I am forever grateful.