Success Lies in What You Decide Not to Do: Todd Vande Hei of Stark [Podcast]

There’s a place in Irvine, California, where executives of the business world and pro athletes are regulars. And it’s not some mahogany-lined boardroom or a private dining hall. It’s Stark, a personal fitness training company, which has attracted CEOs and off-season athletes.

The center of the brainchild is co-founder Todd Vande Hei, who partnered with training guru Brad Davidson to help clients practice mental and physical fitness through a personalized training plan.

Since 2011, Stark has attracted a healthy stream of clients who enjoy the client-centric approach Todd embodies in his business as a result of his Vistage group discussions and lengthy tenure in the manufacturing industry.

Getting your business at peak performance requires more tenacity and determination than any personalized fitness plan at a gym.

And from a personal perspective, Todd said the business mantra he tries to drive home everyday is that “success is in what you decide not to do and the things you say ‘no’ to.”

Todd said this lesson came from being a veteran in the manufacturing industry, where new opportunities were abundant.

“As a real estate investor, having shiny balls always landing in my lap was really distracting,” said Todd, a Vistage member since 2011. “I had to practice always having a clear sense of judgment to avoid making the wrong purchase or making a wrong exit.”

Todd’s discipline and clarity to say “no” to  80 percent of the opportunities that come his way revealed remarkable results. He grew his company from having 3 employees to 13 in just four years by being focused on meeting the business goals he set for himself.

“To think that I could have gone with a different direction can be devastating,” he said. “You have to stay true to your purpose and that will mean that you say ‘no’ to most opportunities presented to you, or else you just never arrive where you want to arrive.”

Another challenge Todd faced as he grew his company was reminding himself that he “can’t share everything with everybody, even if you are close to them.”

According to Todd, oversharing can have an emotional impact on those you work with and chances are what you share as a CEO can have a negative emotional impact on your coworkers.

That’s why Todd sought out Vistage—to have a group of people that he can share both business and personal challenges with. Because as Todd puts it, “It can be super lonely at the top.”

Because Vistage group sessions are confidential, Todd said he has been thrilled to be able to vent out his challenges and observations while running his business.

“Through Vistage I got one thing I loved the most: Having a level of accountability that’s hard to experience when you’re running a private company,” he said. “My Vistage peer group members keep me personally accountable for the goals I make by asking me whether I met the goals I set at the last meeting.”

To learn more about Stark click here.

Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Dave Nelsen

I joined Vistage as a founding member (CE 676) in 2003. I've started four tech companies, attracting $70MM in venture capital. I was recognized as E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (2000) and as Vistage Best Speaker of the Year (2011). I've h…

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