You have to walk your talk every day. Words can be totally meaningless if they’re not followed by action and illustrate someone’s real intent.
Liz Grantham is a single mom, entrepreneur, marketer, and innovator. She is the founder of TheOptimal.me. Liz has more than thirty years of experience in marketing and advertising with global clients such as Visa, Shell, and Sony Mobile, working on projects including the Olympics.
Where did the idea for TheOptimal.me come from?
After years of chronic pain from stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and the aches and pains of midlife together with headaches and sleeplessness, I realized that if I was going to maintain energy and focus to keep my business growing I had to make a change. Discovering the power of functional movement through Jannie Classen’s exclusive classes was a game changer. It was unlike any other class I had done; the integrated, repetitive nature of the movements done to great music made the 50 minute class fly by and I felt better than I had in years.
Friends and colleagues noticed that I wasn’t popping ibuprofen for my headaches, that I was walking taller and so much more energy. Many people started asking me what I was doing. I became a real proponent for “functional” solutions. One day I was in Barcelona feeling awful after a long haul flight, and wished that I had one of Jannie’s classes available on demand. And on went the lightbulb. Not only would it work for me, but I could share this amazing solution with everyone in the same boat around the world!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Luckily, I am productive by nature. I’m a single mother, a business owner with Fortune 500 clients that demand a high level of excellence, plus the founder of a start-up (that is like raising a newborn)!
I try to stick to a few daily principles:
• I wake up and spend 10 minutes doing slow diaphragmatic breathing or an TheOptimal.me 15 minute class. Then I reset; I don’t let yesterday’s defeats or disappointments rule today.
• I am a chronic list maker, so 15 minutes spent prioritizing the day’s output means that I am able to map out the day. I can be productive because I know what needs to get done and I also know that things out of my control can’t derail me.
• I shut down when I leave the office; no business calls or checking voicemails or emails when my day is over.
• I make sure I get some sort of workout in, and I eat properly.
When I stick to these principles, I always move forward more efficiently.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Determination and the power of a small planet. I know my limitations and those of my team and I am not afraid to acknowledge where I need help. With technology comes the ability to find the best people and experts in the field for needed support. I begin every project with a journey map that clearly lays out the path forward and helps identify gaps.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A global workforce and gig workers, especially those over 50 with years of experience yet not ready to retire completely, are just a click away. This ability to find people anywhere in the world that have the skill set a project needs without any geographic limits is a game changer for small businesses.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My realism. I don’t fall in love with my own ideas and I am not afraid to take risks. However, I also know when the risk is not worth the potential reward. If I was a card player, I suppose you’d say I would know when to hold and when to fold. And I never feel any shame in trying and failing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t fear failure and don’t let self-doubt get in the way of trying something new and completely unknown. It is advice that took me a while to take, but it empowers me and propels me forward today.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I don’t have a sense of humor.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Research! And don’t be scared to ask as many questions as you need to until you’re sure you understand every angle of any problem or solution.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Find the loose brick. That sounds a bit crazy, but here’s what that means: no matter the field you’re in there will always be competition and rarely is there a truly “new” idea. So whatever the market, you have to find the loose brick – the point / place where you can break through against your competitors – then own it and work fiercely to exceed customer expectations in delivering against the opportunity.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
After my daughter was born, I decided to open an exclusive children’s “emporium.” It seemed perfectly logical to me and after opening, it took only 2 weeks for reality to set in. Retail is difficult. Customers are difficult. Cash flow is difficult. Custom-made is difficult. It was really more a flight of fancy than a business with a solid business case, but of course hindsight is 20/20. “Knowing when to fold” meant I was able get out before the losses were too big. I went back to doing what I was good at and started over. I paid off all my vendors and walked away with a great big life lesson – and well and truly humbled!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Honestly, right now I’m so focused on getting TheOptimal.me going that I haven’t given anything new a thought!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I sponsored a friend who was doing a 25-mile bike ride to raise funds for breast cancer. She was out of shape when she committed and started using TheOptimal.me to ready herself for the ride. That was thrilling for me, that she was finally getting healthy was thrilling for me, and that she was helping a great cause was the proverbial icing on the cake.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I think Waze or GPSMyCity is a game changer. For both business and pleasure it gives me the confidence to get where I am going in the most efficient way without stress, or walking in circles, or fear of being ripped off if I am in a cab in a foreign country. I travel extensively for business. If I am visiting a foreign city, it’s a real confidence booster.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
When the idea for TheOptimal.me began bubbling, I saw an interview with Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler on Fareed Zacharia’s show on CNN. They were discussing their new book BOLD. It has been my inspiration and North Star while building TheOptimal.me. The nay-sayers are many. When I end a day feeling disheartened or discouraged, just seeing the big title BOLD on the bookshelf behind my desk gets me going again!
What is your favorite quote?
“Actions speak louder than words.” I am totally action-oriented; I don’t believe in standing on the sidelines and having a lot to say. You have to walk your talk every day. That’s how I built a successful company that punches way above its weight. Words can be totally meaningless if they’re not followed by action and illustrate someone’s real intent!
- Don’t let yesterday’s defeats or disappointments rule today.
- Begin every project with a journey map that clearly lays out the path forward and helps identify gaps.
- Research! And don’t be scared to ask as many questions as you need to until you’re sure you understand every angle of any problem or solution.
- You have to find the “loose brick” – the place where you can break through against your competitors – then own it and work fiercely to exceed customer expectations in delivering against the opportunity.
- You have to walk your talk every day. Words can be totally meaningless if they’re not followed by action and illustrate someone’s real intent.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.