When I first met Lisa I thought women like her only existed in romantic comedies. You know the type? Beautiful, charming, ambitious, successful and walks with comfort in a great pair of heels. Gabrielle, Taraji, Sanaa – then there’s Lisa Simone Richards, Principal of Vitality PR & Communications.
As head of her of her own PR agency, Lisa is committed to helping small businesses, centered in the health and fitness industries, grow their profile through media placements, social media marketing campaigns, and other results-driven PR & communications strategies. She’s strategic, smart and an expert in her craft.
Lisa is also an active mentor – which is amazing given her busy schedule. In fact, it was through a mentoring opportunity with Ten Thousand Coffees that I first met Lisa to discuss the business of entrepreneurship. I became captivated by her poise and confidence. Not knowing her very well at the time but feeling very comfortable by her warmth and openness, I confessed how scared I was to take the plunge and start my own freelancing business.
She gave me homework – make a list of your next steps and give yourself a year to accomplish them. I haven’t looked back since.
Please enjoy 10 Questions with Lisa Simone Richards.
1. In the beginning, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Two things led me to entrepreneurship: my desires for control and freedom. I remember working in an agency where I got assigned a client that I would never in a million years be a consumer of. That was definitely a big trigger for me because I’ve always wanted to work on brands that I’m already an active user of and could wholeheartedly endorse, not just because I got paid to.
Also, the idea of being confined to a boring beige cubicle for 40 hours a week for the next 50 years is debilitating – I’m creating a life for myself where I can travel, work remotely, spend my days constantly checking out new spots and meeting new people. When I juggled a full-time corporate job with Vitality PR & Communications as a passion project on the side, I always felt the most fulfilled when I’d take vacation days from my 9 to 5 to work with my private clients for TV segments and other projects.
2. What problem are you solving?
I’m helping entrepreneurs get noticed and get clients. Being an entrepreneur isn’t cheap – there are so many passionate health, fitness and wellness professionals that leave the safety of their corporate jobs and want to help people live healthier lives, but working with a PR can cost upwards of $10,000 per month with a 12-month minimum contract – that’s just not feasible to most start-up operations!
The problem that I solve through Vitality PR (VPRC) is offering public relations and marketing communications solutions to health, fitness and wellness-focused entrepreneurs and small businesses at a rate that’s reasonable without extended contract commitments.
3. What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?
Definitely working ON my business vs. working IN my business! I’m really fortunate to have a healthy client roster and I’m so committed to helping them achieve their goals that my own get put on hold. So to solve that challenge, I’ve structured my schedule to dedicate 9:00 through noon to work on tasks that will help Vitality move forward as a business, and then spend the balance of my day working on client tasks. Often that means working ‘til 7:00 or 8:00pm. but when you love what you do it isn’t a big deal!
4. What does a typical day consist of?
I’m still nailing down my routine but so far my general schedule is up by 7:00am to hit the gym. I’m a huge fan of Fitset and try new studios in the GTA constantly. Then I’m in the coffee shop du jour by 9:00am to work on VPRC tasks until noon. Typically I go home and make lunch, decompress for a bit then I’m back on the grind by 2:00pm until I decide I’m done for the day.
Luckily I have a lot of freelancer friends so we love to work together – it’s nice to have company and someone to chat with between tasks. In an effort to keep productivity up, I’ve limited my phone calls and meetings to Tuesdays so I can get them all done in one day and have the rest of the week to work without interruption. My favourite days are we I accompany clients to a shoot or segment taping – nice change of scenery plus seeing the fruits of our labour come together for the final product.
5. What do you love to do at night?
Despite being an avid health and fitness lover, this girl loves to eat. I’m either having friends over for dinner or checking out one of the newest restaurants in the city. Admittedly I’m not big on the club scene so I’m always happy to check out a lounge, patio or hang out at a friend’s place.
6. How do you dress to exude confidence?
I always joke that I am the most comfortable publicist you’ll meet. Nine times out of ten I’m running around the city in gym clothes (clearly with perfect hair and makeup though, LOL). My favourite thing about working in fitness is that spending all day in Lorna Jane Activewear, Lole, and Titika is entirely acceptable. Make no mistake, I’ll don a fitted dress and killer pumps when the occasion calls for it but if you give me a choice between Kim Kardashian’s designer-filled closet or Khloe’s fitness closet, I’m going the Khloe route. I always feel awesome in my rhinestone studded Lorna Jane tights (love me some bling!), a cut-out Titika sports bra and top with some sort of fun design element – mesh, over-sized, whatever!
7. Yoga, strength training, cardio or all three?
All three, one hundred percent. Gotta have a holistic approach to training. My favourite workouts are kickboxing with Jason Battiste, interval classes like T-Row or Circuit 60 at Track Fitness, yoga (Moksha), Pilates and Spin at Quad. I’ll usually do strength training solo in the morning, cardio at night (seriously, working out is fun for me so I love doing double-days) and then Pilates/Yoga on the weekend.
8. How does your culture/background influence your work?
Truthfully, it hasn’t very much but maybe there is one tiny influence: my dad was the original side hustler: he had a full-time aerospace job but ran a business, Sat Sun Enterprises, on the side. I remember years ago, I think I was just finishing high school, and my father said that he’d help me put money aside to start a business straight out of university so I wouldn’t waste time working for anyone else. While I wouldn’t say that a decade of experience as an employee was a waste, I bet there’s always been a small piece of me that attributes my entrepreneurial spirit to him.
9. What do you consider to be a life well lived?
A life full of laughter and learning. If I laugh to the point of tears once a day and learn something new every day, I’d consider myself to be doing well. Definitely won’t deny that I want the financial freedom to travel and acquire a few shiny items and take care of the people who matter most to me in the world.
10. If you could write your own obituary, what would the tagline say?
Images via Lisa Simone Richards