The last couple weeks, I’ve found myself less busy at work. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything to do at work. There’s always a sale to be made, of course. However, I admit that my afternoons have been less busy given my mornings have been highly focused. Perhaps this is why a LinkedIn article by author Benjamin Hardy resonated so well with me – “This Morning Route will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week”.
Hardy argues that peak performance occurs when people work 3-5 hours per day – far from the dogmatic 8 hours. He continues by sharing how the first 3 hours of the day are the most productive for folks according to  psychologist Ron Friedman in the Harvard Business Review.
Not saying that I’ve somehow stumbled on this currently, or that I’ve found myself hitting Hardy’s magic 3-5 hours per day. After all, I also work out most days within my first 3 hours of waking up.
Instead, I’ve realized there are certainly days where I am hugely productive and creative for 8-10 hours. But after several weeks of this, I am fatigued and need long periods to recover. These days, I believe I’ve hit a great stride of less hours of work but being highly focused. [This morning I created some great sales collateral in –yep—3 hours.]
The other key elements I havestumbled on that Hardy mentioned include protecting my mornings and detaching during non-work hours. For the former, I find myself preparing for the day by getting up 530AM. At this time, I’m either working out or reading. I protect these morning rituals by ensuring my nights start early.
For detaching during non-work hours, I do other things important to me –okay, 85% of the time. This includes doing yoga, reading, or watching the occasional Netflix show. I’ve gone so far as to also block out my calendar specific days and times to be completely off. Completely off times = social time or simply my time.
Everyone is different, but the concepts and lessons are applicable – know what works for you and hold those priorities as sacred.
Since I left business school at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School for my MBA, I’ve taken on the scary move of working full-time on the startup I co-founded with friends, Body Boss Fitness.  In a couple months of full-time startup-ship without the funds to really pay me (or anyone) a salary yet, I got all scared, and dipped my feet back into consulting part-time.  It’s been a few months doing this to put some money in my pocket, and I’ve taken on now two different consulting projects.  All the while, I also push Body Boss including traveling for sales and marketing and writing up blog posts like I just did here at Starbucks in Brookhaven on a Sunday.

I do enjoy supply chain consulting for sure… but I’m going to dip back out of consulting and give Body Boss my undivided attention for a long while.  If I say it out loud and put it on a blog post, I’ll have to stick to my word, right?  Well, all this experience has also brought out this strange affinity for writing my thoughts, and it’s about time that I write another article for my SC Ninja Skills blog

Reflecting on my previous life as a consultant (okay, some of my current, too) and my passion in weight lifting, I’ve seen a couple important take-aways that have been highly leverageable in both worlds.
  • Change is hard.  When you go to a gym for a few years consistently weekly, you see those who come and go, and those who stay true.  It’s clear those who are “newbs”.  They come in, sometimes work half-heartedly, and then either stick around and wonder they’re not seeing the gains they want or they just disappear as quickly as they arrived.  In consulting, similarly, companies who are looking to change make a difficult decision to embark on change.  However, it’s so easy for companies to lose sight of the goal and milestones to bring about sustainable change.
  • Even if you’re seasoned in the gym, you need to change to keep improving.  Companies who don’t embrace the necessity to change as the world evolves are likely to see growth become stagnant, and is most often the case, fade away.  It’s so easy for companies to keep going about their business managing the day-to-day without thinking larger and more strategically.  However, without change, it’s even easier to then let competition come in and take everything away (think Blackberry, Kodak, etc.).  In the gym, if you’re doing the same routine over and over again, your body adjusts and you no longer see gains in your strength.  It only takes six weeks before your body adapts.
  • Bringing an outside perspective can help.  As a consultant, this is almost the very reason we exist.  Similar to the point above, it’s so easy for companies to be complacent and continue to operate just as they have over the last 40 years.  However, bringing in fresh eyes from consultants, an outside hire, or otherwise, can easily give perspective from potentially competition, other industries, etc. In the gym, bringing a friend who is knowledgeable about working out can easily bring new routines, or even help spot when you’ve actually got poor form.
  • Establishing goals helps you achieve greater.  One of the first things you do as a trainer with a client is to run an assessment.  This includes understanding a baseline or where a client is, and where the client wants to go (i.e. lose weight, add 25 lbs to her squat, drop your 40 time by a half-second). Without knowing where you want to go, it’s hard to really push yourself and make it timely.  In the consulting world, if you don’t establish a baseline of “current state” and plan for a “future state” (Shangri-la), how do you know what to do, who to employ, how your customers will react (if any)?
  • Post-workout is just as important as in-workout.  In working out, it’s important to take care of your body after a workout.  That may include a post-workout protein shake to ensure you have the nutrients for recovery, or just daily nutrition in meals.  If you aren’t eating right and stretching and the like, it’s hard to sustain any gains you may have from a workout.  In consulting, implementing post-transformation catches is key to sustaining the change.  Tracking efforts via metrics is one way of ensuring change has sustainability; while establishing a culture embracing change is another sure-fire way of keeping the momentum going.
So what do you think about the parallels in working out and in consulting or even business in general?  How would you use the lessons learned in the weight room in consulting, or vice versa?

Okay, so I’m going to be one of the first to admit that I didn’t always believe in tracking workouts.  Thought it was just a pain in the rear, and a waste of time in the gym.  I tracked with a notebook back in the day in undergrad at GT, and found it not-so-useful.  I would also have to translate what I wrote in the notebook into Excel – big pain.  Too much work to track trends. 


After Tech, I was a management consultant specializing in supply chain management. I actually developed reports, dashboards, and metrics for several Fortune 500 companies, and it was then that I learned how successful companies always had their fingers on the pulse of the business.  They knew the state of the business from Execs on down to Analysts through structured, actionable reporting.  The companies that were less-than well-managed had poor reporting capabilities.  It dawned on me that with successful companies WHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS IMPROVED.  Enter a new world for myself and the Body Boss team… porting over intelligence though analytics to strength and conditioning.

In my earlier post about how we started, I mentioned how we built Body Boss with sleek and sexy design on top of statistics and regression modeling.  With the growth of technology especially in the mobile space, we could now remove the painful, time-consuming notebooks from the Stone Ages into the new digital era.  And the results are AMAZING. 

Where many coaches have created their own spreadsheets with percentage calculations, we’ve designed an application that does all the calculations for them. We’ve designed a tool that automatically takes what Coaches currently do, but makes everything that much simpler and that much easier to read while also engaging and MOTIVATING the Players.  Players have to execute afterall, right?

We’re updating our current Player Profiles soon with a new Stats page that is going to change the game – see the design below.  Now, we’re going to be able to provide Coaches and Players a quick and easy-to-read Stats page showing the progress of players.  No more messing around in spreadsheets.  To do this today for most coaches, this would take AT LEAST 2-5 minutes PER player.  To gather all the workout data, keystroke those numbers into Excel, and create charts to track trends?  If you’re a coach with 10, 20, 100 players… that’s a lot of time.  No longer is the game just working out harder, but working out SMARTER. 

We’re still implementing the new Stats page, but I built it roughly in Excel, and the below is what I saw.  So this tells me several things.  1) I’m a beast, and I’m getting stronger. I’m creeping up to 30 years old and still after some injuries, I can achieve greater. 2) Building this in Excel was a PAIN.  I can’t wait when this is automated with Body Boss. 3) As much as I love Excel from consulting days, it’s ugly. 4) Tracking workouts WORKS.  Intelligence is knowing where you are now, and challenging towards a goal.  That’s what Body Boss does.  It challenges you to NEVER settle… to always strive for greatness.

Testing and original layout of the proposed Stats page in Excel — a bit ugly, a whole lot of work

The new design of the Player Profile and new Stats page — much sleeker than Excel and much easier, automated



So for Coaches, Trainers, Players everywhere… we hear you, and we’re here for you.  We’re going to change the Strength and Conditioning game to help you focus on strategy and player development, not spreadsheets and number-crunching.  We’ll do that for you.  Customize your workouts how you want (percentages and all), and we’ll help you with the analytics.

– Daryl “D-Train” Lu

You can email me at daryl@bodybossfitness.com or message me on Twitter @TheDLu

It occurs to me that Body Boss has a great story.  A great story of why we’re here today with Body Boss trying to disrupt the “industry” of Team Strength and Conditioning.  
Darren Pottinger really started us on this path back in 2010/ 2011 of bringing more intelligence to working out – bringing regression and statistical modeling/ forecasting to training with a simple Excel model… yet can be built better and stronger.  Being the zealous and extraordinarily gifted problem-solver and programmer, Don Pottinger joined in on the fun looking to build the spreadsheet into something greater – an app for the masses.  
For several months, the brothers Pottinger iterated, and it was in the fall of 2011 when Andrew Reifman joined the team to bring his black magic of Design Creativity to the fold.  Andrew and Don were long-lost friends from Dunwoody High School.  After learning Andrew had built award-winning sites while working at various design agencies, Don asked Andrew to join.  Definitely loved his personal website.  I mean, how do I get little power bars like the X-Men cards I used to collect???  This Andrew guy is LEGIT.
I’m not sure when I really joined because I was consulting and always traveling.  Tell you what – if you can travel while trying to do your own startup, props to you because I don’t recall when I was adding value on a consistent basis.  SO enter me, Daryl sometime in that glorious assembly of the Dream Team.  Having played soccer at Tech with Don, we had become best buds for a while.  I bring to the field the execution and drive as well as some patience for the business administration – makes sense since I was entering Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in the accelerated One-Year Full-Time program May 2012.
Gifted with an extraordinarily talented team who also lived and breathed personal fitness, we entered Startup Riot as one out of 30 startups competing in a pitch-off of sorts in Atlanta in February 2012.  Many to this day will never forget our presentation where Darren stripped off his shirt to the hoots and hollers and affection of women… and men.  We were voted into the Top 5, and at the time, we were aiming to be a B2C company.  We were going to build an app based on the principles of intelligent personal fitness leveraging the growth of mobile and technology.  Though, we didn’t even have a product to show.  All we had was a dream.
After meeting with Georgia Tech and re-evaluating our strategy, we decided to shift to the B2B market – focusing our efforts on helping improve the feedback loop between Coaches and Players in sports teams and organizations.  As we reflect on our own past experiences, workouts were disseminated from Coaches to Players via sheets of paper and rarely, if ever, were those workout results ever returned to the Coaches. Even rarer was when the Coaches would take those sheets of workout results and plug them into something like Excel spreadsheets.  Tracking pieces of paper, writing it all down, transcribing the number into Excel… that’s about a 2-3 minute process for a single player.  If you’re a Coach of a team with 50 players, you can do the math and that’s a lot of wasted time.  Add to that other competitors’ focus on just the Coach… that’s not how TEAM sports are played.  We wanted to create a tool that engaged everyone on the team from the Coaches, Trainers, and the Players.  Afterall, Players are the ones who have the execute come game time.  That’s when Body Boss was really born.  
We built towards a vision without actually talking to too many other players or Coaches, but in August, we met with the Athletic Director of Centennial High School in Roswell, GA where we presented the initial design and vision of Body Boss.  Excited for what we were working on and seeing an immediate value, he invited us back after a few enhancements.  In December, we really locked in with the Head Football Coach and Head Baseball Coach at Centennial High School to trial Body Boss with their players starting January.  Everything since then has been… shall we say, history.  
So here we are, a bunch of Georgia Tech nerds + a talented Graphics Designer from University of Georgia.  Our home is Atlanta, GA, and our dreams lay in the stars.  Our backgrounds in soccer, weight training, certified personal fitness training, expertise in data and analytics, technical programming and design know-how, some great business sense, and a whole lotta drive… we’re aiming to change the world.  We’re not just a team… we’re a family looking out for one another.  We’re proud of the family and friends we’ve earned over the years, and we will make you all proud.  We’re here to disrupt the team strength and conditioning space with Body Boss.  Be excited.  Visit us at BodyBossFitness.com. Follow us.  @BodyBossFitness