10 Questions with Shawn Stewart

1. You recently made a career move to O2 Fitness, after working for GHF for over 20 years. What was it like to leave a company you worked at for so long? GHF isn’t just a company to me, they are part of my family, so it was extremely difficult. However, for my wife and I both to have opportunities within our profession, we knew it would have to be outside of Gainesville. Having Joe Cirulli’s support was very important to me. He guided me through the process and reached out to industry leaders to make sure it was the right move. Also, knowing there were great people ready to step into my role made the decision a little easier.

2. What are you most excited about concerning what you’ll be doing at O2 Fitness? My passion has always been working with a team of people to achieve greatness. My philosophies are simple — begin with a solid foundation built on culture and core values. Then, implement systems to execute a clearly defined strategy. Finally, focus on growing and developing people to become leaders. The challenge of executing this plan with multiple clubs across multiple markets is very exciting.

3. What was your first day at O2 Fitness like? I was a little nervous, but mainly excited. I walked in the door and Michael Olander greeted me by saying, “Are you ready to do this?” I said, “I’m ready, let’s do this!” Michael and the team helped make the transition an easy one. From the moment I arrived, everyone has gone out of their way to welcome me and it’s proven to be a world-class company.

4. What is one key to your success? I’ve always had great mentors. My first great mentor was my dad. I strategically surround myself with smart, successful people. I study what makes them successful. I know when to stay quiet and listen when successful people offer advice.

5. What is your favorite leadership book? “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. This was the first leadership book ever given to me and I have read it over a dozen times now, each time with a different objective. Business, relationships, new ventures, and recently, when I accepted a new career challenge. Each time I have gained valuable lessons as if I were reading it for the first time.

6. What advice could you give to those just starting out in the industry who have big dreams? Dream bigger, but don’t be afraid to scrub the toilets. Success in this industry begins with cleanliness. If your club’s not clean, nothing else matters.

7. What’s something unique about you? For years, I have played an ice breaker game with new staff called, “Three truths.” Three of these four are true about me, you have to guess which ones. 1. I worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a strength and conditioning coach. 2. I was once detained by the U.S. Secret Service as a threat to the president. 3. I was a high school varsity football coach. 4. I have traveled to all 50 states in the U.S.

8. Where’s your favorite place to take a vacation? Any place with my wife, Amy. With our hectic schedules, we rarely get time away together. Since moving to North Carolina, we have been able to explore new places on weekends, and I have enjoyed that very much.

9. What was your New Year’s resolution for 2015, and did you stick with it? To learn to dance so I would not embarrass myself at our wedding. I agreed, reluctantly, to take dance lessons with my then fiancé. I stuck with it until the wedding in March.

10. How do you start each day? I spend the first 15 minutes planning my day. I have never worked a day without my daily plan written on a sheet of paper. I have never left the house without the bed made. I feel energized knowing I have accomplished the first task of the day. U.S. Navy Adminral William H. McCraven said, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

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