Leaders are all around us. They don’t look any different and often times are completely unassuming. Upon first meeting Nicole Matthews you might not think she is a leader. She has a quirky charm to her demeanor and a humorous persona. Yet, in her own way, she has aligned a large number of people in a shared direction and common goal. She put herself out there and simply said “follow me.” Learn about her journey below.
James Patrick: Many don’t take action because they fear that they need some form of social permission to do what they want to do. However, you set out on your journey regardless – how did you come to the decision to do that?
Nicole Matthews: My decision to help make a difference and use my own personal story to touch the lives of others started at the age of 23 when I finally overcame my 7-year-battle with bulimia. Experiencing a total transformation of my mind, body and soul left me with a burning desire to help others going through similar thought processes.
The doors finally began to open when I entered a fitness competition in 2013. My choice to do this spawned a lot of chatter and fear from my loved ones that I may relapse. I began blogging my journey and remained true to myself to finish what I started and do it the healthy way. This triggered a positive out reach from my friends, family and perfect strangers. I began getting messages daily, people asking for advice, direction and acknowledging my story, as it was relatable and encouraging. This would be the beginning of establishing my brand and the vision I had been dreaming of for nearly 12 years.
JP: Everything you’ve done has been targeted at your community. First, how did you determine who that audience was and that your message was not for everyone?
NM: The day that I became clear on who my audience would be, was the day I noticed a lady testing out free weights at target. Picking one up, putting it down. Then picking that same 5 lbs. weight up and putting it back down. I stopped and asked her if she had any questions and she broke down and shared her life long weight battle and how intimidated she was to try again. She also shared that she was on a very tight budget and hoped the 5 lbs. weights were enough to get started. After a brief talk and a quick demo on the 5 lbs. weights, she gave me a hug and we parted ways. I knew that she was my audience, my community, the person I was intended to help. All I could think was; what if I recorded what I just showed her? What if I created a simple, convenient, inexpensive and supportive system for other’s like her to grow and gain confidence? What if I could provide an outlet to get people started and focus on the importance of making life changes “One day at a time.”
JP: From there, how did you develop further connections? How did your audience and community grow?
NM: I had been sending individual workout videos via text to a group of friends and realized that I could post the same workouts for everyone I was helping and modify them with a beginner and advanced way of doing the workouts. With my target audience in my mind and their permission, I started a closed group on FB called “Starting Today Fitness” and added them as members. As the days went on they added friends who added friends and the community continued to grow. We have fun with it, we do weekly challenges, the members have incentives to participate but it is not mandatory. We then have reflection at the end of the week. Reflection is a chance for everyone to talk about how the challenge went for them. Nobody passes or fails, I encourage feedback and honestly. It is a chance for others to vocally express what worked or didn’t work for them. This helps me in giving new information and ideas in moving forward.
JP: What is your goal with this alignment of people that was forming? What is your mission moving forward?
NM: My goal was to educate and encourage others to give health and fitness a chance. I wanted to create a friendly and supportive environment free of judgment, advertisements to make money and empty promises. I wanted people to know that every little step matters and each day they choose to move in a forward direction get’s them closer to their goals. I’m here for the longevity of people and I sincerely care about their story. My mission in moving forward is to continue to inspire positive change one day at a time. Get my web sight launched in the next 60 days and continue to provide even more information and positive outlets.
JP: So as the community of listeners grew – how did you get your idea to spread further?
NM: I started posting my videos through my YouTube channel where I now have over 500 subscribers. I also started sharing my videos on my ‘Starting My Life On Monday’ Facebook page, my personal Facebook and Instagram. I am also a personal trainer and let other trainers know about my videos and the target audience. Some have made remarks that I am taking money from trainers and gyms by doing this but they are mistaken. I am actually doing quite the opposite. I have already had several group members message me and tell me that they just signed up at a gym because they no longer feel out of place. They do my workouts at the gym and have a direction. Who’s to say they won’t eventually hire a trainer as they continue to make progress?
JP: Essentially you’ve established a community of people and conversations who were waiting for a leader to show them where to go. How has being a leader changed or impacted you?
NM: I have never been this determined to succeed in my life. Everyday, I ask people to be fearless and take chances. Live outside their box and do something different, something new. I listen to the words I preach and I know in my heart I should be listening too. My words of wisdom to those who seek the impossible, feel that burning desire and believe that they are meant for greatness, is to just keep going. Each choice you make, each step you take, do it with intention and purpose. Be patient and stay in the moment. Being a leader isn’t about being right or having people copy what you do, it’s about teaching other’s how they can be leaders in their own life.
Special thanks to Nicole for being our featured talent for the month of March.