It’s All Business: Lessons from Bug & Tank

If there were a canine version of The Godfather I’m pretty sure Bug and Tank would be the main characters.  Beyond their creepy co-dependence with each other and the fact that Tank’s snaggle tooth and collar bling makes him the best mob-style short Italian dude ever, I’m constantly finding animal heads in their beds and strewn about the house.

Fuel sweat grow: tank the godfather

Last week I had both dogs with me in Charlotte they must have torn through at least two new babies a day.  The mistake was definitely mine because I gave them too many new things up front — by friday the house was full of empty, lifeless carcasses of once fluffy toys.

As tedious as it is to constantly pick loose fluff off the floor (and out of the carpet), I have to respect their spirit.  These dogs have never met a challenge to large, a toy too durable, or anyone impressive enough cause them even the slightest misstep on the way to achieving their goals of destruction.  They’re all business.

Lately I’ve felt like my life is all business as well – transitioning from one job to the other, slowly transforming into that ‘face behind the computer screen.’  All projects and business items are in the ‘build and stand up’ phase, which is actually what I love the most, but with it all converging at the same time work days seem like continuous cycles just broken up into 24 hour phases with short interruptions for food, other obligations, and physical activity when at all possible.  Last week I hit up Flywheel in Charlotte twice to salvage what I could of my cardio endurance, and squeezed some short runs and walks into other available windows.

I could not be more excited for our MAD Charleston location to be open, and for the really fun parts to begin; welcoming new clients, planning the grand opening party, and connecting with the community that has already been creating so much buzz for us.  In Charlottesville we’ve hit a really amazing tipping point with new clients and energy in the space, the MADrave with TruPilates and Opal Yoga coming up in June, and then our 1 year Anniversary party on August 16th.  The things on the horizon are definitely appealing, now is just the business of getting there.

This week Dar is in Charleston to check on the last phases of buildout, work through layout, and stand up some of the major operational pieces, so, in the spirit of keeping all of our bases covered and continuing the momentum across the board, I’m holding it down in Charlottesville working remotely for my (other) job by day and working it ALL out by night.

Last night I got to squeeze in a little more of the fun part — coaching – with packed evening classes (and thank you to Elly for being back up at the Front!).  I’ve only been on the schedule a handful of times in the last couple of months, so it was so fun to return to the floor and experience the energy of the workout on the other end.

fuel sweat grow: MADville MADabolic Cville

Clients that were ‘new’ in the beginning of 2014 are now moving like seasoned veterans of the MADness, and everyone has managed to really engage mentally in the business and intention of the work at hand, without sacrificing the social and charismatic vibe that makes us all want to be there day after day.  In these moments, whether coaching or taking, every hour spent on back office planning and tasks all seem so worthwhile.

Accompanying my return to coaching has been my return to working out, and I’ve managed to squeeze in the Monday and Tuesday intervals.  I’m still in the debating stage of whether today will happen or not, but I’m going to err on the side of it happening since I need something to counterbalance the last three days of absolutely dreary and horrendous rain.  The other way I’ve been fighting the rainy day blues is by getting back into the kitchen.

Happy Spring Salad: romaine, snap peas, heirloom cherry tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds.

fuel sweat grow: spring salad

I’ve also been incorporating more grains into my meals, not every day, and on a moderate scale, but it has changed everything about my energy level.  I’m definitely not a carb fiend, but every once in a while I need it for that recovery — just usually in the form of quinoa, or products made with brown rice.   So, last night, to go with my ground beef, zucchini, and Keswick Gourmet Sauce, I threw in some brown rice fettuccine and tossed it all together.

fuel sweat grow: fettuccine w/meat sauce


I’m actually in Charlottesville through the middle of next week, so I’m pretty psyched to hit up the city market this weekend and put together some new local meals that hopefully can be paired with actual spring weather.   But for now, it’s all business, and like Bug and Tank, I’ve got my eye on the end goal.

Monday Round-Up: MADness, travel, music + food.

It’s 10pm on a Monday and I’m sitting at the dining room table eating avocado and heirloom cherry tomatoes because: a) why the hell not? and b) it’s been that kind of a week.  Last Monday feels like it could have been yesterday, or a year ago, so at this point the only thing to really do is enjoy my snack and get set for the week ahead — starting with right now.

There’s a lot happening right now in Charlottesville and Charleston, all good, and all full steam ahead.  In Charleston we’re just over two weeks from our soft opening, and it’s all hands on deck to make sure our schedules are aligned with having coverage across the board.  We’re all still executing on to-do’s in our own little silos, but the over-arching mother-of-a-goal is to make sure the doors are opening with everything complete.

MADcharleston window graphic

In Charlottesville we just announced an event that has been long in our minds, and relatively lengthy in production, but will undoubtedly be a great kick off to summer.  We’re hosting an interval rave with our friends from TruPilates and Opal Yoga at our space in the IX on Saturday June 7th.

MADrave at IX

[click on the poster to be routed to the event registration]

If you told me that any one of these event partners were having an event you’d immediately have my interest, but just seeing all of them bundled together in one single event just makes my heart nearly explode with happiness.  My goal for this event is not to just stop here (of course it isn’t) but actually to grow it outside of our space onto the lawn of IX for a bigger and more inclusive community event.  With all the changes happening on our property with the art park, I’m thinking that it could be amazing.

Speaking of amazing…Friday night was the long awaited Delta Rae show at the Visulite in Charlotte.   I planned this as my friend Cara’s birthday present this year, and despite the fact that she had never heard them and I was still reeling from missing them in Charlottesville, it worked out perfectly.

Delta Rae

This band is amazing; from their stage presence, to lyrics, and the fact that every damn one of them sings and plays instruments.  It was hands down one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time, and I would have paid double and gone back every night for a week just to linger in the experience a little while longer.  And because that’s pretty much all I’m looking for – great lyrics and the enveloping comfort that comes from being invited in to someone else’s feelings and experiences.  That’s what their music is for me, and when I’m away from it too long I really start to disconnect from myself.

Prior to the show we actually went to dinner at Carpe Diem, a favorite of mine right down from The Visulite on Elizabeth, which was amazing as always and a great end to my ‘I don’t care how bad it is for me, it’s delicious and I’m going to eat it’ week (except really the end was Saturday when I killed a cinnamon roll from Sunflour Baking Co. and pizza and wine at Wolfgang Puck with work friends).

Now I’m back in Charlottesville manning the ‘ship’ here;  back on track with my local food groups, and finally back on track with working out – and life.  Despite the chaos of the multi-city life, and the divide and conquer that our team is currently pushing through to get the doors open in Charleston mid-may, things are falling in to place pretty nicely and summer has just begun.  I guess Monday isn’t a bad place to start new.


Wednesday, Thursday, FRIDAY….plus a little weekend

This week was more than a little crazy, but despite the long work days and project balancing, I was in Charlottesville and that in and of itself is something to be celebrated.  And it was, because Friday’s After Five is back for the season and we all finally have a renewed sense of motivation and drive to push through the rest of the week.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Friday's After Five 2014

Based on sales there were an estimated 20K people in attendance on Friday, only slightly down from last year – which I’d imagine was a result of the 50 degree chill, but still no place in the world I’d rather be.

Earlier in the day I actually took a little lunch break adventure as a part of our #MADloveCville campaign around town, and grabbed some sweet Cadbury Egg FILLED cupcakes from SweetHaus and dropped the off with a note and free class for a little ‘Free Sweet, Free Sweat’ action.

First Stop: the NEW Sass Factory Salon on Main Street (next to Bella’s).  These ladies are awesome, and despite being MAD in their own right, they’re some of our favorite clients to have in class so it made perfect sense to drop in.

fuel sweat grow: Sass Factory Salon #MADloveCville

Stop #2 happened at lululemon Charlottesville (showroom now located next to Shenanigans in the Main St. Annex) where Coach Kiks watched over the sweet little bundle and made sure it went to a good home.

Fuel Sweat Grow: lululemon #MADloveCville

I had two more cupcakes to give out, but was tight on time, so I saved them for the evening and left one with the awesome police at the information booth on the way in to Fridays to give out with their best discretion, and soldiered on into the MADness that was Fridays to give out the remaining treat, along with about 50 free class passes.  The beauty of Charlottesville is the community, the events that bring us together.  It’s rare to be able to go out every Friday night and know where all your friends are, and that there’s a single place to bring everyone together without having to juggle scheduling and multiple obligations.  For the constantly over-scheduled and under-available of us, it is the best way to streamline friends and friday plans into a pretty concise and guaranteed package.

By 8pm it was time for some food, and wine apparently, and Orzo was an easy choice after last week’s great dinner.  My parents were in town checking out houses, again, so it was a great meal to add to their slow tour d’Charlottesville.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Orzo kitchen

While it was pretty substantial that my parents were looking to retire in my favorite town in the world, the most substantial thing was the unlikely reality of the place they finally found.  My parents have a thing for water and land, which made some of their initial choices a little ‘interesting,’ but they eventually found ‘the one,’ that just so happens to be a house that I’ve observed from afar more times than I can count.

It’s not central in town, or on the typical beaten path that everyone would know, but if you were a rower at Virginia, it was on your daily path…on the water.

fuel sweat grow: Rivanna House

The edge of their property lines up with the final 250 meter marker on the rivanna 2k course, on the water UVa rows on.  It’s beautiful, it’s sentimental, and it’s the last little puzzle piece tying so much of my college experience together.  Even though they aren’t planning to move for a couple of years, I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be sooner rather than later.  And the best part?  There’s a pool that will be ready by closing in a month, and you better believe I’ll be ready too.

All in all the weekend was a pretty great start to ‘summer,’ and the rest of what’s to come.





[NEW] Cville Food: Three Penny Cafe

Monday night was the much anticipated soft opening of Three Penny Cafe on Main Street (in the old Zinc location), and it was worth the wait.

fuel sweat grow: Three Penny Cafe

It just so happened that Monday was beautiful in Charlottesville, so the outdoor seating was a must, immediately ranking it as a great summer spot.  And the exciting news is that the best part about the restaurant was the menu – which is saying something because the space is beautiful.  From the appetizers of root chips and olives, to salad and ultimate dinner of amazing pizza – and of course the accompanying wine – things were great.

fuel sweat grow: Three Penny Cafe

It is entirely possible, if you want, to eat clean here, and there is plenty on the menu to keep you from feeling deprived.  My carb bender happened to be an intently thought out and very committed action after a long weekend of wine, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

fuel sweat grow: three penny cafe

All in all, I’m so glad that I didn’t miss this opening, and I am definitely going to be back here – on the regular.  A big thanks to the staff at Three Penny Cafe for the warm welcome, the great hospitality, and all of the effort on what could have been an overwhelming pre-opening run through.  Congratulations, you deserve it.


The Sure Things

There is not a lot of surety in this life, but there are some things that I can count on to reignite all of the passion and positivity in myself, and in life, that can too easily get buried under the remnants of a too-long winter.

This weekend included everything that I love most in my life: amazing friends, great food, community (the best I’ve ever known), innovation paired with intellectual inspiration, and most importantly, beautiful spring weather in Charlottesville which is incomparable.  This weekend, in and of itself, was greatness embodied.

On Friday I took the afternoon off from work — from ALL work — which is a rarity that must be celebrated in full.  It was 75 and absolutely gorgeous in Charlottesville, and day 2 of the Tom Tom Founders Festival.  Last year I arranged my entire schedule around the innovation talks on business and education (UVa President Teresa Sullivan was speaking), and I absolutely loved it.  This year, the talk of choice was on finding investors and funding in Charlottesville, with a panel assembled by a few of the numerous angel and private investing firms that are housed in our city.

fuel sweat grow: tom tom founders festival

The talk was great – not entirely for the content since none of it was particularly relevant to our business, but because real intellect and business conversation never fails to inspire me and always gets the wheels in my brain firing faster than I can keep up with.  This talk achieved exactly that.  By the end of the panel I couldn’t have told you exactly what was said, but I spent the next hour rattling off a stream of concepts and business development plans that were exploding out of my brain.

And of course, since I was ruminating on my new most passionate plans, I took to the kitchen.  A quick spring salad turned into a late lunch with grilled skirt steak, romaine, avocado, cucumber, and blackberries for a little sweetness.

fuel sweat grow: tom tom spring salad

The pace of my ideation slowed as the weekend progressed, but thankfully never stopped developing — and it is the surest sign that I am alive and well.

Friday night was the Block Party for Tom Tom Fest at McGuffy Art Center, which pretty much translated into drinks and socialization a la Friday’s After Five, but at a slightly different venue, and with cool lights to add a little flavor.

fuel sweat grow: tom tom festival block party

We had some of our MAD crew out spreading the good word and handing out MAD passes like they were critical AAA cards for health – pretty much because they are.

Saturday started with some much needed MADness, and the sweat out that I needed after some late night dinner/wine at Orzo.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolicCville April 2014

Aside from the amazing 80 degree weather and the blooming of everything, spring was made official for me with the post-Saturday-MADness walk to Paradox followed by the City Market. Oh, and this, which is brilliant.

fuel sweat grow: neuter weird friends

The next stop on the I love this city spring stroll was the Southern, which is now actually serving brunch, and an awesome one at that.

fuel sweat grow: the southern

I had this killer frittata with bacon, and, of all things, green apples in it.  It was exactly what I needed, and was the only thing that got me through the next 2 hours of this three hour tour.

fuel sweat grow: the southern brunch fritata

Since Tom Tom was still in full swing there were events everywhere, and people, but for the first time ever the Chili Cook-Off benefitting the Ronald McDonald House of Charlottesville which is such a worthy cause that it can actually make chili tasting feel noble.  It also totally justified a late morning beer -Three Notch’d espresso stout (not expresso, as it may read) to be specific.

fuel sweat grow: beer for a cause

After the cook off the weather seemed perfect for a little walk down Main Street to hit up the lululemon showroom.  On the way back we took a quick peek in to the old zinc, and soon-to-be 5 Penny Cafe, a great new spot that we’re checking out tonight at their VIP opening night that I can’t even begin to anticipate since food in Charlottesville is beyond words pretty much all of the time.

The evening was full of more amazingness as we MADbombed Bella’s Restaurant to check in with our clients Doug and Bella, and to wish our favorite bartender (and good friend) Ayo the very best on his last day behind the bar.  MADpasses flowed like the wine, and the conversation was of course of tremendous quality with so many of our favorite people in one place.

And that was the weekend, not in it’s entirety, and not nearly inclusive of everything, but it still seems more than ample to chock it up as an amazing prelude to summer and the community that is thriving here in this town and our tight and growing community of MADness — and that’s the surest thing I know.

Academia, Siblings + What Drives Me Forward

I can’t tell you how many times over the past 7 years I’ve wished I were back in college, if for nothing else just to have a little break from the ‘real’ world.  There’s something to be said for existing in the academic bubble, away from the 8-5, and with every opportunity to actually learn before having to execute.  Organizing books, binders, notes, and the structure of each syllabus was like my own personal drug.  The stimulation and fulfillment that comes from being constantly engaged in intellectual conversation, ideation, and exchange  — I lived for that.   That was the love part of my relationship with school, but like any relationship, we had our issues.

On the other side, was the hurry up and wait.  The tedious nature of step by step learning and credit accumulation that felt like a slow march towards paralysis for me.  In my post graduate life I’ve learned the most by surrounding myself with people that are smarter than me, from my own trials, and the baptism by fire way of life that defined my early twenties.   I am impatient at best, and more likely to take something apart to find out how it works than to consult the instructions, or read a book about how someone [I’ve never heard of] has decided it should be done, despite having never done it — you know, whatever the ‘it’ happens to be.

That being said, the reality is that despite my mid-college belief that I was destined for a PhD, I never would have made it.   I am not cut out for it on any level, but my brother was.

In my family, when it comes to rankings of academic prowess and raw natural intellect of siblings, I finish in a very distant second place — out of two.  This is not to say that I’m stupid — that’s not my point.  My brother is far and beyond the most academically oriented, and stupidly smart person I’ve ever known.  His ability to capture ideas, retain information, and systematically memorize anything he’s ever seen, heard, read, or thought makes even the most gifted ‘normal’ people default to a state of perpetual humility.  I know, because I’ve been one of those people.

When we were younger I struggled to appreciate what he taught me and what a privilege it was to live in the wake of his genius.  And yes, I mean the wake.  Every teacher he ever had would rave of his brilliance, the (what I then thought was insufferable) way he could dismiss and intellectually dominate a debate with an adult 40 years his senior, and his exhaustive reading list [including the Russian literature he taught himself to read when he was bored in high school honors english].  I rolled up on a three year delay, fully prepared to be the disappointing non-genius little sister.  I developed my own flare, but I was always jealous of how much smarter he was.

I wasn’t the smart one, but I was the gritty one; the one that learned to work just a little bit harder for everything.  I knew my strengths, and I used every last one of them to grow into my own.  I may not have his same IQ, but you better believe that I learned from his and I absorbed everything that I possibly could from the intellectual crumbs he left behind.  I learned from his strengths, and took notes on how to develop my own weaknesses.  We grew into our own people, and our personality differences merged with our experiences to really define our adult selves.

fuel sweat grow: things you want

I had always hated writing because he was so (and yes, that should be a capital SO) amazing at it, and in comparison I was marginal at best.   I started to write more in college because, well, I had to, and he was the only person I trusted to proof read…and still is if what I’m doing is important enough.

Ryan found his home in academia, which I don’t think surprised many of us…at all.  He thrives in the hyper focused, idea ruminating, slow-and-steady environment that it provides.  I, on the other hand, gravitated towards business, another obvious and predictable path if you know anything about our family  [or if you’ve been paying attention at all].   Despite having never left his niche, my brother was a huge contributor to the path that led me here.  The strengths I developed and the skills I learned through compensating for my relative weaknesses are what drive me every day.  I learned the value of being the underdog, the resiliency it takes to not give up, and just how critical it is for me to be pushed by people that are smarter and more accomplished than I am at each stage in my life.

I still crave development from more accomplished, intellectually superior, humble leaders — and I’ve been lucky enough to have tremendous mentors that fit that description along the way.    The growth that comes from being surrounded by people smarter than me pushes me to reach beyond my limits and to achieve more than I ever initially assume is possible.  I always need the brass ring to reach for, and I owe that to my brother.

fuel sweat grow: work hard stay humble

Last Friday my brother defended his dissertation.  After eight years and two masters degrees he finally, officially, has his PhD.  He’s humble and understated (almost to a fault) and is without a doubt the best of us all — and not just because he’s smarter than us all combined (though it doesn’t hurt).  Congrats Ry, you definitely deserve all the praise in the world.