You will hit a dead end once you start thinking that you have all of the answers or don’t need to keep learning or evolving. Asking questions of yourself and others can help keep you fresh, in tune with new trends, and encourage innovation in your own team as you lead by doing.
The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Michael Capiraso. Michael Capiraso is a visionary leader who has stood behind numerous successful projects. His holistic team-building skills and results-driven approach are unparalleled in the industry, and Capiraso has a long history of delivering sustainable, measurable growth in the health and wellness, consumer goods, sports, and entertainment industries. Michael is currently an Advisor for JoggingBuddy.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up? Igrew up always working and playing sports. At an early age I had a daily newspaper route and I was so excited to be working and having a sense of responsibility. When I was old enough (while still delivering newspapers) I got a job at my father’s gas station pumping gas and fixing cars. While going to school and always working hard, I found time most days to play sports. I played sports whenever I could, working hard at trying to get better with the hope of playing professional sports some day. But all of my hard work at sports wasn’t enough to pave the way past high school sports. Fortunately, my strong work ethic provided me with opportunities to do other fulfilling things that I have carried into my adult life.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in? I have always been in an environment that encouraged and supported a healthy lifestyle. As a family growing up we were always active, and I carried that focus throughout my life. Movement helps to provide a wellness-focused lifestyle and for me running, playing sports, hiking, etc always made me feel good and that has kept me motivated to continue to live that way. I know it will always be a part of me, and a healthy lifestyle is something that I continue to align with any work that I engage in.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
For me, that activity has always been running. This is the number one way that I am able to clear my head and innovate in both the corporate world and my personal life. Physical wellness and mental wellness are inseparable for me. It also provides a unique camaraderie to push yourself physically along side others with a similar mindset. Even with COVID-19, virtual races have helped bring us together, along with revised guidelines for safe activity. There’s also a competitive edge to running that I find constructive.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
My career didn’t start out in the health and wellness space. It actually began with a focus on building corporate brands and operational teams by leveraging innovative marketing and technology tactics. However, I have always had a strong passion for physical health and running as a sport. I’ve completed 28 New York Marathons among other races, and so when the opportunity to help New York Road Runners came about, there was a natural synergy in place. I was able to cultivate tangible successes at NYRR, such as hitting targeted impact and revenue figures, while also driven by my personal interest in the sport to encourage participation and membership throughout the community. Now in my role with JoggingBuddy, I’m able to directly working to bring people together via a dedicated social network.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
For any up and coming professional, it can be hard to balance career opportunities that look great on paper and those that align with your personal passions and personality. At one point, I took a role that was a fit for my skill set but that I had no connection to on a deeper level when it came to the day-to-day work. The result was finding myself in a position that I needed to leave in order to do the best for myself and my career. This was a great learning experience for me, reminding me to always acknowledge the intangibles in a potential role as much as the tangibles. For example, I thrive in roles where I have the chance to connect with other people and in industries that match my own interests.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
At JoggingBuddy, our focus is about helping people create connections with other runners. The benefit here is two-fold. First, it helps to encourage runners to stick to their routines and stay on track with their healthy lifestyles. Second, it helps those with smaller social circles meet others with similar interests. After months and months of isolation due to COVID-19, many people are starved for interaction. Connecting with likeminded people to practice in healthy activities that can be performed in line with social distancing requirements is a win-win across the board. Overall, this can help foster wellness both physical and emotional in nature.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
It’s all about engagemnt through impact and growth right now. We’ve seen tremendous response to JoggingBuddy’s options for finding a training or running partner in over 100 countries. This has shown us that people are ready and eager to pair up for running support, safety, and motivation. We’re always exploring ways to optimize performance and operations so we can streamline efforts and introduce new options for our community to engage with one another toward healthy habits.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Listening, relentlessness, and prioritizing physical health. Much of my work involves team building. This drives everything from operations, to impact, to achieving revenue goals, no matter the organization. Being able to listen and truly hear another person’s perspective has helped me evolve as a person and a leader over the years. Seeing things from different angle helps bolster my strategic thinking, which is essential for any brand growth initiative. Relentlessness might seem to run contrary to this, but staying motivated with a clear goal helps drive teams and outcomes. You can listen along the way and encourage feedback, but teams also need that one person who won’t let the goal go out of focus no matter the obstacles you run into. Making my own health a priority has helped me be as available, alert, and involved as I can be as part of a team. This includes physical health and wellness in addition to mental health, which can sometimes go hand in hand.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
Wellness is approaching personal health like coordinated teamwork for yourself. Consider how a team operates within an organization. There are any number of moving parts and considerations, from budgets to schedules, that must be consistently evaluated and attended to in order to keep the team, and company, on track. Likewise, personal wellness is about acknowledging all of the separate components that make up your health and attending to them. For me, physical health comes with training and exercise as well as eating and sleeping right. My mental health is improved when I take care of my physical body and keep my connections with others. Emotional health requires reflection and socialization, even in unique forms during social distancing. In sum, wellness is not one thing; it’s a system of health that requires ongoing attention.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
Wellness cannot exist in a vacuum. Personal wellness affects so many parts of our lives, as I just detailed. But it also impacts those around us. If you can be a better version of yourself, you can also be a better contributor to your family, friends, community, and coworkers.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
Companies have an opportunity to be a positive contributor to each employee’s personal ecosystem of wellness. We’re in new, trying times that keep evolving. Supports for physical and mental health, both inside and outside the workplace, are becoming more essential. And by addressing these needs, you can continue to build productive teams and meet organizational goals without alienating people who are suffering in the face of the pandemic. Again, for me, the traits of being a good listener, striving toward a goal within a greater context, and prioritizing health are critical. There are opportunities for leaders to collect feedback, one-on-one or anonymously, to develop programs that make a real impact. But applying proper listening can show what your employees are in need of, not just what you think they may benefit from.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
First for me will always be exercise. I cannot be my best self, at work or at home, without taking care of my physical health. Exercise is a way for me to discover new ideas, become creative, and recharge my mental health.
Second, I believe every leader needs a trusted sounding board. Having the chance to talk through ideas with others can help you make go/no go decisions or spot pitfalls that you had no idea existed, often just based on their initial reaction. The health and wellness is such a broad category, and the perspectives coming into it are just as varied.
You need openness to be able to consider different ideas. After all, many concepts considered vital today, like meditation, were thought of as fringe options years ago.
Embracing technology is also important. Wellness purists can argue that we have too much technology in our lives. I think a better angle is to explore how we use it and to what end. Digital innovation can be a springboard to connect people, encourage activity, track performance, and instill healthy habits in new ways.
These things can all help you be more inquisitive as a leader. You will hit a dead end once you start thinking that you have all of the answers or don’t need to keep learning or evolving. Asking questions of yourself and others can help keep you fresh, in tune with new trends, and encourage innovation in your own team as you lead by doing.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-) Organizations can and should do more to give back to their employees in ways that promote wellness beyond typical compensation. Packaging up a wellness program that leverages existing resources can go a long way toward helping employees and their families. For example, I am a power user when it comes to the Calm app. Including subscriptions or subsidized access to a platform like this or Headspace can introduce larger audiences to new ways to find their own peace or clarity. Encouraging time away from the desk for physical activity with programs like JoggingBuddy or friendly competition for daily steps on apps are also low-entry, high reward. There is so much opportunity to engage our community in wellness to provide positive impact in our everyday lives.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. Being interested in the health and well-being of people and our planet, I have so admired the work that Bill Gates has done over the years throughout the world to help support and improve people’s health and the global environmental landscape.
How can our readers further follow your work online? You can find the most recent information about my work along with link to my social media accounts on www.michaelcapiraso.com. I post updates on my Medium blog highlighting my running pursuits and work with JoggingBuddy.