Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeffrey Siegel, Founder & CEO of Jeff Siegel Wellness, located in Somerville, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I help guys break out of unhealthy habits with food or work and develop a lifestyle of self-care that sustains health and performance. Most guys show up because they feel stuck, unhealthy, and spinning their wheels trying to figure it out on their own. On the surface, they want to feel better, perform better, and accelerate toward their goals. But underneath all this is usually a lot of fear of vulnerability and self-destructive attempts at control. Guys need to first get back into their bodies, not from a place of force or suppression, but with curiosity and mindfulness. This is why I focus so much on a diet, exercise, sleep, and somatic practices for stress management. This builds their "wellness toolkit" that we can then structure into every aspect of their life.
"Physical performance + Emotional Health + Mental fitness + Spiritual Guidance = Sustainable Peak Performance" I believe sustainable peak performance is not possible without a strong foundation of body and mind. That is why I teach science-based practices delivered mindfully with total unconditional regard for all of you — physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. I break this down further into four phases of growth: Waking up. Cleaning up. Growing up. And Showing up. Together these are the elements that help guys get out of a rut and actually create transformation in their lives.
Tell us about yourself
I first had to free myself from compulsive eating and exercising. I was letting food and body image issues run my life. It was totally exhausting trying to control every aspect of my day to fit into a tiny predetermined box. I was stuck until I got really honest with myself about what needed to change. At the same time, I was teaching at a community college. I love teaching and helping people take the next step on their learning journey. However, the biggest issue I saw with students was not their ability to grab the content from class but their inability to take care of themselves outside of school. They weren't eating well. They weren't sleeping well. They didn't understand how all these lifestyle factors were negatively impacting their ability to learn and thrive.
I decided to I wanted to teach wellness. I became a personal trainer and health coach. I was fortunate to have two graduate degrees, one in Buddhism and one in Mind & Brain Education, that perfectly complemented my whole-person, holistic approach to health and wellness. Slowly I built up my coaching practice to full-time and decided to focus mostly on men since I saw so many guys out there struggling to take good care of themselves physically. They didn't know how to cook, how to recover, how to engineer their day to optimize their biorhythms.
While I'm a huge proponent of personal responsibility, a lot of these issues stem from larger social forces. The legacy of patriarchal masculinity has left guys totally unequipped to have a real relationship with their bodies. They're cut off emotionally, hell-bent on overworking to prove their status and worth, and usually cut off from the more subtle, "feminine" energies that are vital for a well-balanced life. I try to show guys how to reclaim these essential qualities and integrate them into mature and mindful masculinity. It's about being strong and feeling your feelings. Being emotionally available and ambitious. Having a powerful body, not out of a need to dominate or control, but as a vehicle for service. These are the deeper drives that motivate me to do the work I do. I want to see guys flourish. I want to see everyone live healthier and happier lives. And this requires lots of skill-building at the personal level as well as confronting and dismantling unhealthy social norms around gender, beauty, and body.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
On a superficial level, I created a video with TedEd back in 2015 that has over 19 million views. I never expected it to reach so many people, so I'm happy about that. On a deeper level, the most satisfying thing is when a former client sends me a text message out of the blue thanking me for the work we did together and giving me an update on how his life has dramatically improved because of the skills, insights, and support he gained from our coaching relationship. Priceless. Fucking priceless.
Looking ahead, I am currently writing a book about getting to know your "inner eaters." It's not about diets, food, or even health. It's all about understanding who you are as an eater. Most people lack self-awareness of why they eat the way they do. The framework I'm putting forth totally revolutionizes how people see themselves so they can actually make sense of the myriad reason they're compelled to eat. It's all about building awareness and choice in how you eat. I hope to one day turn this into a curriculum that can be taught to middle or high-school students as a way to promote healthier eating through self-knowledge. I want to change things systemically, and I believe education is the place to make that impact. If we can help young people develop mindfulness of their bodies and real self-care, we can empower them to make better decisions to protect their well-being.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As they say, there's a big difference between working "in" your business and working "on" your business. Taking the time to step out of the daily operator role and into a CEO mindset takes discipline and practice. I'm still not great at business plans, budgets, or key performance indicators. I'm still learning a lot about SEO, marketing, and how to package services that resonate with the challenges people are facing. These business skills don't come as naturally as, say, connecting with a client with total presence and positive regard for who they are while at the same time nourishing who they're becoming. That is what I love about my job. I the bookkeeping, contracts, and social media posting I can do without, but it all comes with the territory of being a business owner.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be brutally honest about what tasks are within your "zone of genius" and which ones you're ill-equipped to handle. Hire others to take care of those things that aren't your real competitive advantage. It will enable you to put your energy where it makes the most difference.
- Always be doing "market research." This doesn't have to be some kind of formal survey, but asking lots of questions and then shutting up and truly listening to what's on people's minds is so important. You have to know what people are struggling with and what is the actual challenge that will make them reach out for help. People will buy solutions to their problems. Get to know their problems as if they were your own.
- Businesses need to grow, pivot, and adapt. You need to be willing to let go of thinking you know exactly what is best and try on new ideas. Seek diverse opinions. Build a group of mentors and coaches that can support you. The more you grow, develop, and invest in your own skills, the more the business itself will be able to grow and evolve. Don't neglect to wither your personal development or the business development. The two go hand-in-hand.
Where can people find you and your business?
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