Leading A Health Revolution: Leadership Profile – Matt Parrott, Senior Director of Business Innovation
As we surpass a major milestone, our company’s 30th Anniversary, we wanted to celebrate the people that have led us to where we are today. By sharing their stories, their inspirations and lessons learned, we hope to enthuse others to pursue their goals and aspirations, so together we can lead a health revolution that moves the world.
The A-ha Moment
If you asked college-bound Matt what he was going to do when he graduated, he likely would have responded with career aspirations to be a high-power lawyer or business leader. In fact, it was Matt’s sophomore year in college when his ah-ha moment hit. He had been working toward fulfilling the general requirements for Pre-Law, when he discovered a growing interest in his personal fitness and health. Matt decided to take an Anatomy/Physiology course as an elective. After that semester, Matt found himself completely enthralled with the subject matter. He changed his major to Exercise Physiology and found his passion.
We asked Matt to share a few things about his career journey and success Corporate Fitness Works. This is what he had to say…
Tell us about a time in your studies or in your career that helped you prepare for the challenges you face in your role today?
Although I value my formal education and it’s certainly benefited me in many areas, my “on the job” experience of owning three fitness centers has been particularly valuable in my current role. As a business owner, I negotiated every single day. Whether it was with suppliers, potential new members, or landlords, I was constantly working toward creating a partnership on some level. I quickly learned that any negotiation must benefit both parties, and the best solution is usually one where each party feels they “won” a little. After several years of club ownership, I improved my ability to find mutual solutions to accomplish shared goals. In my current role, I am able to leverage this experience with CFW vendors, suppliers, and our potential clients.
What is your #1 motivator? What are you most passionate about in the work that you do?
This is an easy one. My passion is helping others realize their health and fitness potential. My entire career path can really be traced back to this passion, although I’ve selected various avenues to achieve this impact in diverse ways. In my current role, it’s very rewarding to know that we positively impact the lives of thousands of members every day.
Describe the key steps you took in the path to your career success/career growth that made the greatest impact?
I’ve always been the type of person who seeks to challenge myself by creating and embracing change. There were really 4 big decisions that led me down different paths.
Decision #1 – Get Experience – First, I decided to move to Little Rock after graduate school to accept a position as the Fitness Director of a large multipurpose health club. This experience was an invaluable part of my “real world” education, as I had the opportunity to learn from one of the icons in our industry – Bill Grantham. After a few years, Bill passed away and I found myself searching for my next challenge.
Decision #2 – Complete my Education – I made the decision to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Kansas. While there, I learned how to write technical research, which continues to serve me well today. After graduation, I accepted a position as a University Professor but quickly realized that teaching wasn’t my calling.
Decision #3 – Take the Leap of Faith – The next big decision came in 2007, when my wife and I opted to open a fitness center in Kansas City. This was a huge leap of faith and it put our entire financial future at risk. Fortunately, it worked out, and we were able to grow the business into 3 fitness centers. As the fitness center membership levels reached maturity, it became clear that we would either need to reinvest in the infrastructure of each facility or sell the business. My wife and I chose the latter and I began the search for my next opportunity.
Decision #4 – Join the CFW Team – After selling the business, I had been immersed in the commercial industry for many years and was interested in learning more about the corporate side of the business. I became familiar with CFW through a mutual friend, applied for a position in Kansas City, and have continued to learn and grow with CFW each year since.
How does your role as Senior Director of Business Innovation support Team Leader growth and our business growth?
This is what’s so exciting about my current role, as my responsibilities are split equally between Business Development and Business Innovation. On one hand, I contribute directly to the growth of new business. New business growth provides new positions for Team Leaders to move into while generating resources to strengthen our competitive advantage. Also, I explore new and/or unique ways to service our clients. These efforts often result in cost savings, revenue generation, or improved efficiencies within the organization. Each of these improve our ability to grow the company for long-term success.
How does your role most impact our client’s (and the members we serve) success?
Through increased efficiencies and new business growth, we can help more people realize their fitness potential. Each time we are awarded a new contract, it represents hundreds or thousands of members who will be impacted by our operations. If I can play a small part in that contract award, it’s extremely rewarding. Through Business Innovations, we impact member and client success through new technology solutions, cost savings opportunities, and by empowering our onsite teams with enhanced resources.
Share a career highlight.
One of my most rewarding experiences was overcoming the fear of starting a new fitness center with zero members and building it to more than 1100 members with less than 3,000 square feet to work with. During that period, we created a community within a community where so many friendships were established. My passion for building this atmosphere continues to motivate me in my current role, and with each new client we bring onboard.
If you could share one “value added tip” as Senior Director of Business Innovation of CFW, what would it be?
Be curious and never stop learning. Helping others and positively influencing your business starts with a thirst for knowledge.
Please share an interesting fact about you that you would want our Team and our clients to know.
In Junior High and High School, I was very into acting. I was cast in a dozen different productions throughout high school. In retrospect, this experience probably helped reduce stage fright during presentations and speaking events.
Pictured above is Matt with his family; wife Katie and daughter Ava. Matt enjoys spending his spare time out on the golf course, sharing his love for sport and activity with family any time he can.