I will always look back on 2017 with fond memories. A lot happened personally and professionally and I wrote about a lot of it here on the blog. My blog is for documenting things in life so I remember them both here at the end of the year and for years to come. Leaders are readers, they’re thinkers, they reflect on how things are going according to their game plan. I need a tool like this blog to remember all the things that happened. I want to look back on the year and see if my family is telling a story of love, that my business and brand is reflected in my life, I want to tell a great story not for the sake of showing off a great life but rather to think deeply about my values and hopefully to inspire others to think deeply. We are better together.
2017: Becoming A Media Company
The past 363 days I have wrapped my mind around becoming a media company. So much of my time and effort is spent building my next career as an exercise and wellness specialist. Any business needs to brand, advertise, and market themselves but a service business like personal training especially lends itself to getting content and media out into the world to sell your services and build a business. In late 2016 I came across two entrepreneurs who would inspire my transition to a media company. Gary Vaynerchuk is the one who coined the phrase and Casey Neistat is the vlogger who gave me a vision of what I could do with video to tell a story. These two people were in my head every day in almost every decision I made in 2017 to take my brand to the next level.
This review isn’t about Gary and Casey; it’s about how they inspired the foundation of my brand. As most of you know I’ve hung up my arborist gear – no more climbing trees with chainsaws and running brush through a chipper. A significant part of me misses this manual labor, leadership, and productivity. But I was made to work with people to improve their health and their livelihood. I absolutely love what I do and I’m getting pretty good at it. Of course there’s room for improvement (more on that later) but I am confident in where the brand is at and where it’s going. Let’s get into the details.
My second biggest accomplishment in 2017 was establishing my Instagram feed as a story about exercise and wellness. The Instagram account is a big deal because I went from personal posts and “any cool Instagram-worthy pic” to focusing on adding value as an exercise specialist and building an audience that expected this type of content. It was a strategic first step because it’s a platform I was already using and it’s a known network for this type of content. Numerous people asked what was behind the notable shift in content. I posted to Instagram numerous times per week, sometimes numerous times per day. It always feels good to put a plan together, execute well, and see the results.
Instagram was a win, but my number one accomplishment for 2017 was establishing a weekly newsletter called From The Training Desk of Hans Schiefelbein. As much as I believe in the power of social media, email is still a bedrock of our communication. We all have email and it’s still our primary means of subscribing to new information. Every week I read a lot of articles that help me in my career and so I thought ‘why not take that information and share it with my audience?’ I read a handful of newsletters each week and two in particular were the inspiration for my newsletter. Jocelyn Glei writes about ‘notes on work, life and creativity in the Age of Distraction.’ Chris Bowler writes a longer newsletter but the content is right up my alley: ‘a newsletter focused on cultivating the discipline and joy of living with intention.’ I took these two newsletters and realized I can take my content that I read each week and curate a newsletter that brings value to my readers. If you want to get a weekly update on what has my attention from a health and wellness point of view, I invite you to subscribe to From the Training Desk.
Love This Book: Vlogging
One of the mindsets I learned from Gary was testing new media. While he didn’t get into the details of his tactics, he constantly talked about ‘testing new platforms’, new side projects, new campaigns and themes in his work. In late 2016 my church announced that the entire year of 2017 was going to be dedicated to going through the Bible again. We had done a series called “Eat This Book” in 2012 and this year we’d be doing it again, this time in a four-part series through YouVersion (Bible app) which included embedded videos from Tim Mackie’s Bible Project. I naturally gravitate towards journals, devotional plans, and year-long studies like this so I was immediately asking what this would look like for me. I knew the church would so some social media around it but I wasn’t too hopeful it would work or ‘be a relevant part of the project.’ At the same time I was pondering the work of Gary and Casey and I landed on the idea that I would post a weekly vlog as I go through the Bible readings and subsequently reflect on what I was taking away from the series. This was an ambitious project. Again the goal here isn’t to recap the entire project but I’ll say this: I learned a lot about vlogging. It was a difficult project and in fact it fell apart in the fall and I couldn’t pick it back up – that’s a big regret of mine. But I also self-imposed a restriction on my vlog: I wanted to film, edit, and publish to YouTube end-to-end with an iOS device. The reason for this limitation was that I was thinking ahead to a health and fitness vlog and I wanted to be able to train other trainers on how to most efficiently use social media to improve their brand and tell their story. One of the downsides of this is the quality may be a little less than if I’d use a DSLR and also I now gravitate to Apple products and can come across as a ‘fan boy.’ But I’ve fully come to terms with the idea that you have to set boundaries of what you’ll be about and where you’ll say ‘no’. I can’t be all things to all people and I have chosen to be the resident expert on using iOS devices to build a health and fitness brand. I love this decision and I’m excited about building an iOS-only platform.
Training: HIIT and weight management
As an exercise specialist I’ve built a solid reputation for designing challenging and creative workouts using high intensity interval training (HIIT), namely the Tabata protocol. One downside is that I’ve experienced a handful of people at the club say that they don’t want to train with me because the intensity is too high, “I could never do that.” So then I have to go back and remind them that I train people to reach their goals, not mine. But if the eye-test is a downside to HIIT training, the advantage is that research is still on my side. Not only is HIIT safe for advanced and novice clients alike, it’s good for weight loss which has been a focus for a few clients in 2017. As my career develops HIIT training and a focus on weight loss continue to be where I spend most of my time. I’ve established an expertise with the exercise side of the equation but anyone who knows about weight loss knows that a bigger part of the equation needs to be nutrition. Which leads me to my next section…
Training Daily: The Year of Nutrition
So far I’ve reviewed what I did in 2017 but one of the most significant take-aways from the year was realizing what I need to do in 2018. This year I’m going to take my nutrition education and implementation to the next level. You’ve heard me talk about becoming a media company last year. My Love This Book vlog was really a testing ground for my next project as a fitness professional. I’ve decided to continue vlogging with nutrition as a storyline. In November I started filming Training Daily as my new media project, a vlog (for those that don’t know that’s a video log). The idea is this: Training Daily documents my life and career as a personal trainer which will include everything I do on any given week working with clients and maintaining my own fitness. Season 1 of Training Daily will focus on nutrition including the pros and cons of various diets, weight loss strategies, and all the recipes and tips that come with that progression of my career. I’m very excited to vlog this year and it’s so satisfying to look back on 2017 and see how so many things in life contribute to this decision to start Training Daily and take this media company to the next level.
A Few Highlights of 2017
A lot happened in 2017 and I documented a lot of it on the blog. It all started with starting in 2017. I created more than ever and had a giant focus on tech and health. I got Apple Watch Nike+ edition which got me thinking about my love for the original sport brand: Hello Nike! Speaking of running, I ran my fastest half marathon, fell in love with TRX again, and helped a client lose 45 pounds! It was a good year.
This week between Christmas and New Year is a special time. I’m finishing this post at the Java House in Cedarburg visiting Katie’s family for a few days. I’m ending the year with a satisfied soul that has a healthy anticipation and even eagerness to start 2018 with an ambitious plan. A great life can be achieved by anyone who’s willing to reflect on what has happened, make your adjustments, and put together a game plan for the next year. I encourage you to be intentional with your reflection and intentional with your plans and I believe good things will happen. Merry Christmas to you and your family and Happy New Year.