Decision Dialogues
Decision Dialogues

Episode 29 · 7 months ago

Finding Your Calling

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On episode 29 of Decision Dialogues, Mark Willoughby is joined by Michael Gibney to have a chat with Thomas Johnson, founder and CEO of GetUpNGetFit, a wellness concierge company. Thomas’ early life was tumultuous, as he was forced to escape the Liberian Civil War with the help of his family and their friends. His entrepreneurial spirit took over after earning his degree, when he decided to found GetUpNGetFit. He discusses the knowledge he gained up to and after its founding, the lessons he learned, and what motivates his philanthropy.

Get the full show notes and more resources at ModeraWealth.com/DecisionDialogues

Are you paving the way for the life you want, facing decisions that may affect you personally and financially? The decision dialogs podcast, brought to you by Modera Wealth Management, presents personal stories about navigating through life's pivotal moments, narratives that we hope will inspire you as you create your own story. You'll learn what influence their next steps and gain insights that could help you with your own critical choices. Welcome to decision dialogs. Thanks for joining us on decision dialogs with thrilled to have you along. My name is Mark Willoughby and I'm a principal and wealth manager at Madeira Wealth Management Llc. Today my colleague Michael Gibney, who's a principal and wealth manager at Madeira too, and I will be chatting with Thomas Johnson, who's a civil war survivor, the philanthropist and investor, a CE suite advisor, podcast host and founder and CEO of get up and get fit, a wellness concierge company. Welcome everyone to the show and I'll hand it over to Mike. Thank you, mark. Welcome everyone, and a special welcome to Thomas Johnson, who is college friend of joy. So that's how we got introduced to Thomas and we're happy to have him and Thomas, I will just hand it over to you to introduce yourself and welcome. Thank you for joining us. Yeah, thank you. Thank you, gentlemen and joy as well. So, UM, Thomas Johnson, I'm civil war survivor, philanthropist, investor. I'm also ceased for the visor podcast host and the founder and Cel get up a gift fit, which is a what is conscious company that supports high performers towards living a healthy lifestyle. All Right, I think the elephant in the room question is you must elaborate on the civil war survivor comment please. Yeah, so my parents had myself my sister in Lat Berrier and shortly afterwards they came to the states to get things settled to send for US little on. That was the goal. So they left us without grandmother. At the time I grew mother, she was very well off, had a lot of property, in my role view, but the civil war broke out shortly afterwards. That imagine your child right. You have the great time, you have a lot of space, you're enjoying nature, you enjoin family and all of a sudden chaos. So I experience this very chaotic situation at a very young age. I was what about three years old, three to five, hearing bombs, running. There was even a time where what everyone was running from, the rebels, they lost by accident. So I was I was missed place. I remember being so frightened and luckily for me, our family friends saw me and pick me up and took me to a place that was safe a little. My family found me. So I experienced a lot of chaos at an early age. But despite my situation, despite diversity, I was able to grow through that. It become the May I am today. So I'll tell people, instead of living the victim mentality, is of embracing that. You want to kind of embrace the hero. You want to be that person to overcome, because if you go overcome, you could show others and lea others towards it being better people, towards, you know, get into the next level in life. So I'm not a victim at I went through certain situation and maybe a better person. It made a better person. Wow, no doubt. When we were preparing for this, my first thought was your civil war survivor was a euphemism for something, but it was very literal and I know mark as a history of off. They want to jump in and ask some questions because that is a phenomenal storage. I just can't imagine what you went through, Thomas, and I'm just curious. In the end, so your your mom and dad had had come to the states first. Yeah, how did you eventually manage to get out of Liberia? So my family is extremely large. Right, I add...

...some family on my mother's side. Those that was also they were into politics, you know, they were, they were in hind were in there's some government position as well. Let's just say being consistent at persistent. My parents were relentless and try to get us towards the state. So going through the whole visa situation and, you know, try to meeting communication while everything was chaotic. You know, they persevere and it would sin for's, but my grandmother and my family members, they were the people that nurture us and protected us and show US love. Mat Tell everyone to this day I won't be alive right now if it wasn't my grandmother, you know. So, yeah, pretty much pretty much, I said right there, man, it's an amazing story. Amazing story welcome to the United States of American right. Yeah, I've been there for about thirty years now. So bring us through that, Thomas. Bring us through coming here, going to school, meeting joy. Bring us to your career that led to your working life. Yeah, so I actually stumble upon my career. Originally, when I first entered the university I was a business management major. I did my internship at mood is invested services, working as a finance and my goal was to go get, get a degree and come back right. But, as you know, life happens. So, while in college, my sophomore year, Bro College student right, looking for ways of means to try to know Ford Boo Booz and party money. I got a job at the gym. But while working there, that's when it dawn on me it did not feel like work. Everything was just flowing effortlessly. You know the part. Today, you know I come from a sports back crusts. I'll play football in high school, ran track. I've always took care of my body. But being a space that allowed me to learn more about about the human body and working with the faculty and the staff and the athletes and be also being able to support them along the journey. I have found my lane right. It was no longer just going into the gym and likes signing like a checking into the gym. I was literally in my zone. So the second semester they made missipervisor, you know, and I have amazing time and I still enjoy a few times coming to the gym. No, normally I'll ask, do you have the key car or do you have the cars? Just come to smiling cheese and you know what, greet each other and and keep it, keep it, keep a pushing. But Um being as space and I said, I found my calling. I change my major from business management to nutrition and add a personal training minor and little one. Also did at traditional studies, where they rock climbing on a random I can found the other around acts as well, but I will not trade my experience for anything else, because it was meant to happen that way. You know, that's that's great. And finding your Niefe in school, yes, it's a huge plus, and you're among the few of us who are able to to make a living from what we love to do. Good for you. So bring us through your history out of school and how you got to get up and get fit starting your own business. Yeah, so originally, you know, normally when we have a game plan, it doesn't go a hundred percent according to plan. Right, according to what you thought or what do you when you perceived this plan to be. So in college, my rugby name was Onyx, right, AUDEX. So my goal was to create a gym Qua Autic stitness. So I was like no, I'Ma graduate, you know, I'm going to look up the domain. And after I graduated I looked up on ex fitness. It was taken so by, you know, just asking my Siblians and next in just and...

...just come up with different type of in the wordens. I was able to come up with a name get up to get fit. But it has been a journey to be where I'm at right now. So from being in college and having my what is constiers company, it has been a journey. The reason why I said is, after I graduated, I would independent route. I work with a few clientele, right, but then I also realized that I was lacking experienced in terms of work with with high performers. Right, the only type of clientele I was accustomed to at that at that time was collegiate, right, athletes. You know folks within the college setting. So I knew I had to mix it up. So I got a job at a few games in Manhattan and I was like now was that was exposed to more folks in corporate right and and while going through that that time, in that experience, I became a celebrity trainer. I'll work with a few politicians, a few celebrities, a couple of professional athletes, even met the rock right Um and it was an amazing experience. But I'm very glory in it. So after two years I told myself, I don't care if I'm making six figures, I'm out of here. So two years or two years and two months a while being at divid Barton Gym, I left and I went the independent route. So I did a few bull camps, classes in Brooklyn other places that I finally decided to go a little further. But what really change the trajectory of being a person trainer to now being an executive? What is coach? Was My experience working with a kind of mind at the gym. So she was the VP of a multi mill out of company in Manhattan and she was having most of her meetings at boss restaurants just happen about eight meetings per per week and once too, three drinks per meeting. And when I saw that, I had to kind of stop in my steps and reevaluate what I was what I was reviewing, and that's like, you know what, something's going on. Let that's way beneath the surface. So I decided to have a conversation with her the next time. So this was a lady. She's very asked you a personality type, extremely intelligent, very upfront. So my though process was, I'm going to speak to her just like the way she is right I'm going to proach her and just keep it very honest, right up front, and that was that was the game playing. So she came, she came to the gym, we sat down. That's that. To a listen, this is what I just observed. If you continue, that is trajectory. This is what's bound to happen. Now if nowhere she's broke down my arms out of crying. Now, I wasn't, I wasn't. I was not expecting this reaction, you know. And while listening to her, poor out her heart to me, she's telling me how she was extremely stressed out. have been a woman helped position. was extremely stressed out how nobody understood how it was known to operate at this high level and I had had no response to only. I'm the guy with all the answers, right. I had no response while there was closed my mouth. Now listen and it dawned on me that there were so many other high performers going through the same thing. They're working their butts off to hit the bottom line, to make sure that what the companies that could a company are running smoothly, but they are struggling right they tend to forego their health and just double down on the company relate activities. And because I also work with professional athletes, I reflected on work with these athletes that realized that they had a water support him to keep them healthy doing the season offseason. They had, you know, besage, Sirpis, personal trainers, all the therapists right, a Dietitians, etc. To keep them healthy doing a season all season. So I ask myself what would look like if I just marry these two, if I took this structure at bring over to this type of clientele? It took a long time to kind of figure out how to really make it happen and I did it. I did it eventually and I was able to create my what is constiers service, where we identify our clients habits, the negative habits, and we create a program for them. We connect them with a what a support team to keep the accountable and support them a long a journey so...

...they could travel now back and forth and still be able to meet in a healthy lifestyle. That's a that's a great story. So obviously that was one of the triggers to have you start your own business. Yeah, walk through that with me, Thomas. That's a big risk to take starting your own business. How much risk were you willing to take him, and what was going through your mind if you said, you know what, I can do this on my own. The thing is I'm a very stubborn individual. Right my wrist hollerance is extremely high. I'm single, I have no kids, my overhead is extremely low. I could survive on one middle of day right in the small check. So my wrist Tyler's, was pretty was pretty high. But one thing I'm pretty good at is filling forward. If I fail, I don't I don't really believe in Philly. I believe in learning to the process right. So when I first started my business, acumen was zero to none. You know, I was just a personal trainer that wanted to help people. So it took a long time to figure out how to run a business. So once I started tapping to personal development and started collecting books and started studying success that other folks who were, you know, successful at creating businesses, I became better. Know, once I saw the asking the right questions, I became better. So the journey has been a beautiful way. You know, I have to jump in here, Thomas, because having been having listened to a number of folks like you on other podcasts, a lot of the stories have a lot of similarities and it sounds like you worked quite a while for other companies first and learned a lot along the way and use the journey as a way to come up with an idea for your own firm. If that sounds like it's the way it's worked for you over the last number of years. So yes and no. I learned a few things in terms of, you know, how to work with clientele, but one thing about me I'm very observant. I also learned the things that I did not like. Right I saw a lot of things within the fitness with the what was industry that I did not like. The first the first thing was the first thing is, I should say, is the lack of accountability. Right, most people want to join a gym, especially like around New Year's. They would join a gym because there are gun hold to change their body, change their mindset and want to lose that motivation to go right back to the old habits. So most gyms make the majority of their money through the first of the year. So that that lack of accountability is very prominent within the industry. I also saw, you know, clients worker with a trainers and focusing only on superficial goals. I want to lose a few pounds my wedding dress, I want to look good for Bahamas, it came in out islands at etc. But once they reach that goal, what happens? They go right back to the old habits. So seeing these reoccurring the trend, it bother me. It was not sustainable. Yeah, you know. So I wanted to really step up and make a difference. So I guess you would say I make I'm against allout the things that's occurring within the world's industry. I want to. I wanted to correct, correct that and be to change. Talk to us about how how you're doing that with your get up and get fit. We'll get up and get fit. We focus on all of a lifestyle change right, with a lifestyle structure. So, like I said, when a client comes on board, the first thing we do is we assess their lifestyle. That every individual is different. You can have a twin, but just because you guys are twinning does not mean you have to seem lifestyle all right. So we assess the lifestyle, we find out about the negative habits. They would create a program for them that we connect them with the water support team. So, for instance, if your person working at the at your desk for hours at a time, I'm definitely sure, I'm almost a hundred percent show you might have posterer issues, right, you...

...might have tie hips, tight shoulders and etc. So we're sess with set the client as an individual and for the customized program for them that they could implement into the lifestyle. The force, and that's high performers, were always busy. We're always on the go, so we don't think about the little details. But if we have a one to support team, somebody to keep the accountable. It makes it much easier. Having a want to support team is just as important as having a legal team, right, just as a point, as as having accountant to manage your money and finance an etce. But we tend not to think about these things. And I love the fact that you've mentioned it a couple of times, that you call yourself a wellness concierge. And you know again, things you've mentioned two and things I've gotten from your website is your customizing this for someone. So you're calling yourself an accountability partner, you're saying on your website that this is an investment in yourself and you're focusing on nutrition. So you seem when someone starts their own business you need to have a niche and it seems you've created a great niche to cover those three things self, investment, accountability and nutrition. Yeah, yeah, so, yeah, just so what I when I said lifestyle? It's the it's a huge aspect. But Um, I know they tell people slip is king, nutrition is Queen and exercise is the Prince of Princess Right, because people don't even think about think about sleep. Now, if you don't sleep for some of out of days. You could literally pass away. You could survive not eating for a few days. Yeah, you can survive not excising for a few days, but people don't think about these things. So it's more of a lifestyle approach. So we assess your sleep, you know your nutrition, your stress level. That stress we all we all know stress is. It's the devil in the sense. Right we deal with stress, but most people don't know how to how to really manage to stress right. They might turn to bulls or drugs, etc. Or just on some type of negative behavior to cope with that. So it's really the goal is to have a healthier lifestyle, have a lifestyle that allows you to be able person have lifes that allows you to feel good. You want to feel good, you want to you want to have energy, endurance, you want to be able to walk upout flintstairs and not be hoffing a puffy. There seems to be a lot of concentration and a lot of focus on that. You know, we're you see commercials for the Peloton and for Nord to track. Think that are trying to promote what you're helping people with. Do you view that as competition or is it just heighten awareness for you. You know there are competition. I'm not going to deny now. These these are huge company with with a lot of a lot of money. But my thing is it's just extra motivation for me, man, I'm an athlete. I have the athlete mindset. I will always compete. If anything, you know, I'm there basically feeling the on the fire. I love it. One thing I was like to ask Hercus Thomas, is, you know, as you were getting ready to start your own business, talk to me about some of the financial decisions sort of you had to deal with and think about and make before you decided to stop working for other companies and go out and work on your own? What was the financial end of that like? So, with that out a few thousand. I think I had like twozero knowledge in my account when I left. So it was extremely low. So when I start, when I started sorted my boot camp, like I said, the investment was extremely low. The only thing I needed was I needed some money to purchase flyers right and in terms of space. The first book Camp I had after I left dbg was at pross the park. There was a place that had a was position in the way where it provided shelter, but also I didn't have to pay an any money. So my overhead was a show me low. So as I brought a brood on board, a few clientele, I was...

...able to save up. But I wasn't really thinking about the future in that sense. Like I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot of the years. So what I first started off, you know, I wasn't thinking about how much money I need to invest in a company. I was almost not thinking about startup capital at all. You know, if what I know right now, I wish I knew it before. But everything happens for reasons. So what would you what would you share with our listeners that you would have done differently, maybe as you were going through that period of your life? What would you what would you say to the younger Thomas? Get a mentor get a coach. That's the fastest, fastest way to speed for by getting a coach, a mentor. I did have a mental no coach. I just went according to what I thought was right, good advice. And can you share a mistake that was made and then, on the flip side of that, some decision that was made that was really positive. The decision that was positive was leaving the corporate Gim I was working for, because I saw a lot of folks that were much older than me there for such a long time and I didn't want to be like these people doing the same thing over and over, years and years. So that was one of the best decisions I made. The mistake that I also made was not stacking up, not, you know, not play accordingly. That would have made things much better in terms of build up my business and providing me peace of mind. Switching gears a little bit and again, something I've taken from your website and something we've talked about the you philanthropic side of your business. Who or what you call the social sustainability impact goal? That is very near and dear to my heart. I am the philanthropy chair at Mode era, so anytime I see someone who has as much of a well thought out plan as you do, which is really encouraging to me. Can you share what you've laid out on your social sustainability impact goal? My social assustainability to impact go of impact of Fiftyzero people per year. It's something that's near and dear to my heart. I came up with this goal recently around Covid so I believe in listening to your instituition. I'm a person that lives with his heart on his sleeves, right. I love to help. I've always been that kind of person. So one day when I was in my kitchen, I had this empiphany and the question was asked, Tj, who do you want to be? Do you want to be that person that's always going to complain about life, about society and what's going on, or are you going to be want to make an impact? And the number Fiftyzero came out of nowhere. IMPACT Fiftyzero people. And once I got that number, I'm like kind of ask myself wife, Tzo. I was a bit confused by Fiftyzero, a random number. Why forty thousand? So I showed this with my coach. That also shared it with a few on false within my network and a but if mine from Australia. He owns a few companies, by eight companies out there. He connected me with this gentleman that lives in Singapore. He's the the chairman of this not profit called Bee g one. We hopped on a zone call and he has his energy was such electric. You know, he has so much energy for a person that's he's like late s he was so enthusiastic about his company, it by his not for profit, that I kind of bought me, I kind of bought into it. But what I what I love about be on g one is they match corporations with causes all over the world and they also provide a hundred percent of the proceeds to these causes. Now, I'm a person that's I'm big on due diligence. I love me. Before I dive intoe anything, I do my research right. So I did my research and they were legit and I told myself, this is definitely what I...

...need. So I decided on the spot that I'm going to connect all of my activities to this. I'm going to connect all of my companies activities to a course. So now, every time we get a new client, we provide three hundred sixty five days of solo energy access to a school India. Every time I have a podcast interview, we provide schools school supplies of boost the Children Cambodia and out of our guests, every time I pay my coaches, we provid portion of the proceed these to women entrepreneurs in west Africa. Every time somebody's fill out a surveys the same thing. So now everything is connected, right, and now this allowed me to make my goal more teamable. Supposed to just guessing and mess so far we've know we've impacted low full thou people, but it's such a fulfilling feeling to be able to impact people while growing a company without acts for hand out. And obviously the reason you do it is very personal. But do you see it helping get clients because of your willingness to give back? Yeah, this is something I mean, except it's something we've Insto we've incorporated recently. So with where get up a gift? It was concerts is right. Now we've restructured. We recently change up the website. Think of that nature. So we haven't really tapped heavily into marketing yet, but a lot of folks are extremely enthusiastic when it comes to work with us, even my podcast. Guess when they when I hear about the impact goal and how we are no providing for and supply stitute, they can built it on their behalf. Yeah, thats the enthusiastic about you know, having the podcast interview. So it's been a great journey. You know, absolutely sounds like it. The growth. Are you seeing organic growth? But you just mentioned that there's not a huge marketing effort, if I heard you correctly. So is your growth been organic through referrals of people you've worked with? Yes, it's been. It's been organic. The reason why I mentioned whether that heavy mark me yet I wanted to restructure and incorporate all the little details that we've focused on doing doing like last year. So I told my team to hold off on a marketing. So December and January that's going to be. We're going to focus on the marketing at first initiative. That's when everyone sets their new year's rest of exactually works happen ontuary. Can Accountability partner. There you go. I believe in Timey. It's about timing, you know. Yep. Talk to us a little bit about your staff. You've mentioned a couple of people you do that you're working with. How did you find them? How many people do you have? How does that work? I have a digital marketer, I have a person that handles and know our news letter and articles, things of that nature, and I actually leftage. I leverage a lot of thea's working with the a's has been a blessing for me. Right I have a few folks in the Philippines and also in Dubai. That has really, really helped big time. So it's a small team, but it's going to grow eventually. The goal is to have somebody to come on board and focus on the operation so I could focus on what I love doing. WHISH is created relationship ships and thing out of the box. That's great. You know, as we come to a close, your story is just remarkable, Thomas, so thank you for sharing with us. But give us one thing, maybe that I did not ask, that you want to share about Your Business or about your journey, because it's a unique one and it's a terrific one and it obviously very successful one. So is there something I missed that you would like to share with us? You did pretty well with the questions. Like Mike and Morgain, you guys did pretty well. You guys all agree, seeing the of course you enjoys in...

...the background. I appreciate energy questions instead of question what drives me? Yeah, yeah, we drive you. What? That's a great let's do. Let's go there. And what does drive you, Thomas? What gets you had a bed in the morning, the ability to create impact, the ability to force to change, the ability to make the people that passed away proud by doing my best to make a difference in others lives. Know all of these things driving my family, drive me. I'm the eldest out of five siblings, so I know after be a role model. That drives me as well. You know, really, really make an impact. That's great. That's great. We usually wrap up with the kind of a a question out of left field, Thomas. So like we've talked a lot about your but what was the last non financial decision that you've had to make in the last day or so? Enough financial decision, Adam make. Yeah, was whether, on that I should go outside and jump rope this morning. You know, that's not financial. You know that's a good enough conundrum. If, five o'clock in the morning, I tell myself, should I get up and go outside drop rope? Yeah, just and I made it happens. For you, that's something that sums up your attitude well. Thanks very much to Mike and to Thomas for letting this listening on their conversation. We appreciate your time and perspectives and thank you. Our audience for tuning in. We hope you'll join US next time on decision dialogs for more stories from successful business orders. So long for now. Thank you for listening to decision dialogs. We hope you found today's stories helpful for your own decisionmaking. If you like to listen to more episodes, you can subscribe on your preferred podcasting APP or visit our website, where you'll also find show notes and important disclosures. WWW DOT wellcom. Forward Slash decision dialogs. This has been a production of twin flames studios.

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