Turning adversity into business success

Turning adversity into business success

A businessman who’s suffered depression, been in a wheelchair with broken knees, pulled
people out of the rubble in the Christchurch quakes and ridden a rickshaw across India for charity,
has been recognised with an award for running a top gym franchise in New Zealand.

Matty Lovell’s gym recently won the Franchise Facility of the Year at New Zealand’s Exercise
Industry Awards and he says he takes the same approach to business as he does in life.
He’s got a list of top tips for leadership that he believes have propelled him forward in business.
Lovell, who owns the Anytime Fitness Cashmere branch in Christchurch with his wife Sally,
says business leaders shouldn’t discount the little things and work on encouraging the “soft
skills” in their teams.

“Our team has a ‘thousand things’ approach to everything we do. That is, all of the small,
positive things we can do for each other and our customers every day counts. On their own they
might not seem like much, but all together they create a great experience and atmosphere that
our members love.
“Things like smiling, saying hello, making sure the gym is clean, or calling a member on their
birthday, they all add up and go a long way.”
Lovell says good leadership is about enabling staff to nurture their own innate skills and abilities.
“I believe having the right team comes from hiring the right people at the start. We tend to look
for people who have innate qualities, such as empathy, compassion, and the ability to relate to
others.

“You can always teach people systems and processes, but you can’t necessarily teach
someone how to bring someone up when they’ve had a bad day.”
Lovell doesn’t refer to himself as a ‘manager’, but simply a ‘team member’.
“I’ve had jobs where managers have certainly made you feel less-than, or that you aren’t
contributing to the bigger picture. But when you focus on nurturing the fundamental skills in your
team and encourage them to reach their own goals, success and profit becomes a side effect of
that.

“There’s a great quote from Richard Branson – ‘train people well enough so they can leave,
treat them well enough so they don’t want to’; I like to think that’s how I operate.”

“My previous experiences have taught me that when you focus on the big fundamentals in life –
things like empathy and being a good person, you can’t go wrong, no matter what industry
you’re in or the type of business you lead.”
For Lovell, turning his attention to business is a chance to empower others to reach their goals
and make a difference in their community.
“It took a while to figure out that business is where my passion was,” he says. “I initially trained
as a teacher, then spent five years in media and marketing, before I quit my job post-earthquake
and travelled for four years.

“I believe good or bad, our experiences define us,” he says. “The earthquake reminded us all
that life is fragile and I try not to take things for granted anymore.
Matty Lovell’s top tips for leadership
1. Lead by example – don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself
2. Look out for the soft skills in your new hires – you can teach them systems and
processes later
3. Treat your team well and nurture their goals – success and profit becomes a side effect
4. Don’t discount the little things – on their own they may be small, but together they make
the bigger picture
5. Celebrate the wins with your team often

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