We had the good fortune of connecting with Todd Vande Hei and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Todd, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My thought process behind starting my own business came as a result of recognizing what I wanted didn’t exist.
There were several personal issues I experienced which lead to that: I no longer trusted my General Practitioner to guide me toward better health; I recognized that my Orthopedist wanted to perform surgery on my shoulder which didn’t address the underlying problem; two well-known neurologists weren’t able to identify the cause of a cluster of grand mal seizures; my cardiologist wanted to prescribe beta blockers as the only solution to an irregular heart beat (while in my 30’s) which completely disappeared when I exercised. Then, my chronic migraines disappeared after three decades, simply by changing my diet and drinking more water; I was exposed to alternative medicine practitioners. But, those practitioners were too entrepreneurially-focused for me to trust them with my health. Exercise and nutrition had transformed me, and I was confused as to why the “experts” didn’t lead with that solution. There was no organization which forced collaboration among licensed and non-licensed health practitioners, leading to the healthy debate every other organization in business has. The medical professionals were too reliant on surgery and pharmaceuticals. The alternative medical professionals weren’t sophisticated enough with their diagnostic tools. So, I decided to start a business combining all of those tools but focusing on optimizing health to a level where serious health complications are identified well in advance, allowing one to treat with gentle therapies like exercise, water, nutrition and high-quality nutritional supplements.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m most proud of creating a business model and a culture which brings together doctors, chiropractors, nutritionists and coaches to work in teams, leading to the life-changing experiences our clients have on a daily basis. We are what personal training wishes it was.
I am here because of my parents helped me develop a belief system that I can accomplish anything; my mentors were exceptional; my current employees believe in me and what we do.
Stark has been the most difficult business endeavor of my life. I overcame the challenges by refusing to give up on the idealistic concept on which Stark is built.
The biggest lesson in starting a business is to brace yourself for the journey toward prosperity to take five to ten years longer than you expect.
I want the world to know that we changed the future of health and fitness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the Soho House in West Hollywood! The food, the views, the people watching…..and, it’s in our building!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I had great mentors. I want to thank the professors who lead the leadership course I took at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. I also want to thank the executive management team at The Dixie Group who invested in my in my younger days. My mentor, Royce Renfroe, for putting so much care into my development, teaching me how to ‘listen with filtered ears,’ guiding me on how to behave at the top, the importance of being able to read financials in running a business, and sharing with me his inner-most concerns about running a business. I also want to thank Al Frink for believing in me as a sales rep and exposing me to the art of selling and negotiating. I also want to thank the 35 “millennials” at Stark for teaching me the importance of having a purpose greater than oneself, and that a business is a powerful tool with which to affect change for the better.