valerie Morini: work hard

Own a Business + it Will Own Your Time

This morning I sat at my desk and spent 5 minutes trying to figure out what day it was.  Yesterday I spent 2 hours trying to organize my organizer, and on Monday I wrote out the same to-do list in 4 different places because I knew I would forget both the urgencies and the physical list if I tried to rely on just one source for direction.  I think it’s pretty safe to say my mind is in a million directions, and none of them seem to be converging in the beautifully compatible matrix that I would prefer, but I’m in it.  I’m in all the things that I want to be in; I’m in the thick of building the businesses, the lifestyle, and the community that I’ve been so passionate about.  I’m in the chaos, the planning, and the constant demands of getting all the things done and trying to balance the fact that nothing seems to include an easy button — seriously, nothing.  I’m in it all because that’s what it means (or requires) to really be an entrepreneur and have successful businesses — even if that’s not intensely apparent in the pamphlet.

valerie Morini: work hardUsually when people tell me they want to ‘be an entrepreneur’ or own their own business it’s for more flexibility of work hours, the imaginary concept of work-life balance, or autonomy (hey, good luck).  I’ve never heard someone say that they want to own their own business because they’re interested in working longer work weeks (and every.single.weekend), owning more risk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If I did hear the latter from someone, and it was remotely believable, I’d tell them they should probably go for it, and I’d probably even invest some of my own money in them.

The hard parts about owning a business are all the things no one ever actually sees, or that no one wants to believe — and that too many people don’t want to put the time and energy into.  It’s constant working, it’s late nights and early mornings trying to get through emails, taxes, payroll, planning, organization, scheduling…..maintenance needs, inventory, staff issues, staff development, product development, being a little bit of everything to everyone, and somehow still trying to manage your own life so the structure doesn’t start to crumble.  Over time you develop systems (hopefully), you create consistency, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a staff that supports that structure so it’s possible to not only manage it, but to grow it. It’s the same as in a corporate environment, except it is exponentially harder and more personal.  Worst case scenario in the corporate world — you lose your job and you find another.  Worst case scenario as an entrepreneur, you lose your house and a little piece of your soul. My point is, it’s not easy.  If you’re doing it right, it will be the hardest and most consuming thing you ever do — and consequently, the absolute best.  If you’re in it for the image, the romanticized idea of the ‘freedoms,’ or worst yet for some sense of misplaced power over others, you’re not going to last very long.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from starting a business — quite the opposite really. I’m trying to discourage the false sense that owning/running a business will create more balance or make life easier.  What I’m encouraging are successful businesses and business owners — because that’s the only way any of this is worthwhile.

The single most important piece of advice I would tell someone thinking about starting their first business is to get more advice. Talk to people who have done it before — to people who have been successful, and people who haven’t.  Ask how they started, what they learned, what they would have done differently and what they wish they had known.  Then ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice everything to not only make it happen, but to make it work.  In your business you’re going to become the least important person — critical, sure, but developing your staff and building community trumps anything that you want for yourself, and most of the time, that means your own balance, at least in the first few years.

Right now we’re at the tipping point in our two businesses; one that has been tipping for a while, building and growing in ways that we could never have imagined, and it’s awesome.  The other is in a period of change, but for the better, and is poised and ready to build beyond the scope of what’s possible in most other markets.  The third business, well that’s still in development, and the infancy build doesn’t start until late this spring, so we’re just gearing up for another period of growth and constant nurturing. It’s never a dull moment, but it’s a work of passion.  A vulnerable, expensive, and very risky passion, but if you put the work in, and you work it smart, the payoff will be great — in more way than one.

Today I’m here getting myself organized for the week.  I’m mapping out to-dos, structuring new campaigns, and scheduling everything so all the moving parts can sync up a little bit better.  And you know what, while my brain might be ready to explode, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

valerie morini instagram

Life, Lately + the Perpetual Build of Business

Life, lately, has looked something like this.

valerie morini instagram

I’m on an all-day, every night, and throughout the weekend worker right now, trying to strike that balance between the corporate and entrepreneurial pieces of my life.  Despite the perpetual over scheduling, and my borderline obsession with my planner and all things levenger, I can’t imagine my life any other way.  In fact, I would probably hate it.

When I have time, the chronicles of my life – the sweats, the ever-valued hours in my kitchen, and the community driven pieces of owning a local business – all come to life and are shared on my fitness and healthy lifestyle blog, Fuel Sweat Grow (f.s.g.). While it’s been a little over a year since I switched over from my old blog and lessened the hold that blogging and personal social media had on me in my previous line(s) of work, it’s still an outlet I love to have.  Maybe, one day, I’ll push forward with a little more consistency, but for now, my time goes to my job and businesses first, and the blog is my treasured outlet.

I still want to keep all the lifestyle pieces rolling on f.s.g., especially the food, but this space is where I’ll be returning to share more of the build.  That’s what I’m ‘in it’ for — that’s what I love about all things business, entrepreneurial and corporate.  The build, the engagement, and ultimately, all of the effort and thankless hours that it takes to create a unique community within a community and, over time, see something brand new and beautiful materialize before your eyes – that’s what makes my heart race.  Some people might not get it – they might not understand why it’s appealing to work tirelessly for hours upon hours, without any sort of guarantee or prescribed method for success, and they’re not going to get it.  It’s not for everyone, but it is for me.  I do it because I love it.  It’s not being a workaholic, because it’s not just about working for the sake of working — it’s about the creation, the build, and each and every growth period that comes along the way.  There’s no job description, formula, or guaranteed prescription for success – it’s intuitive, it’s gritty, and it’s an all-consuming exposure of your souls contents… or else, it’s nothing.

As I’m getting ready to announce some big moves and changes, my mind is on GO – constantly.  Every moment is an opportunity to connect another dot, every conversation brings more depth to the concept and a greater reality to the next step.  My mind is filling with more information, expanding strategies, and growing to my truest fulfillment.  My brain is chock full, ever whirring, and it has me wondering; why would anyone ever want things any other way?

Organized Chaos, Updates + More

Life, most recently, has been a complete cycle of organized chaos, even more than usual.  While I crave hours to do ‘nothing,’ I can’t really complain because I love all of my different projects, and the amazing people and opportunities that have emerged from each turn.

Depending on how you venture over to visit me here, you may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been playing around a bit with the design and layout of this site.  This is in part to give it a little facelift that is more relevant to my life right now, and in part out of sheer boredom with the simple template that I had been using to keep things simple.

Right now you’ll see this temporary header which does the job — the ‘for now’ job — of keeping things together, but rest assured, it will change.


I don’t know exactly what it is going to ultimately look like, but you can definitely expect more evolutions over the next month or so, and hopefully a final unveiling of what it will ultimately be.

In addition to, and much more importantly than the appearance of this website, there have been lots of updates and announcements, with still more to come.

First and foremost, I recently joined the awesome corporate team for Fight Gone MAD Inc. as the Director of Social Strategy and Community Development, which could not blend more perfectly with my role as the CMO for our MADass Partnership group and our soon-to-be-opening Fight Gone MAD franchises in Charlottesville and Richmond.

We sent out this update on the FGM corporate blog, and added my bio to the website:

VAL: Fight gone MAD bio

I love the brand (obviously), and could not be happier with all of the people that are a part of the extended family, team, and community.  It’s a very exciting time for us all, and the fact that I get to do exactly what I love doing – social media, branding, and community development (read: interacting with all different people + building relationships) is awesome.

Recently I’ve spent a ton of time in Charlotte working on a number of different projects, but right now I’m back in Charlottesville getting ready for the August opening of our FIRST MADabolic franchise location.  This place is going to be amazing, and I’m beyond thrilled that I will finally be able to work out how I want to when I’m at my home base.

While this was all going on I got a little sparse with my blog updates on Fuel Sweat Grow, but there are some up there (some long ones) so head over and check it out if you haven’t visited recently.  I also became a #sweatpink Ambassador which is awesome, and an honor to be added to such a great group of active female fitness professionals and addicts.


I’m excited to get more involved in the community and the great opportunities that it presents to connect more nationally as we grow MADville and more focused fitness concepts in general.

And last but not least, I got a little love from my friends over at Cville Niche during the ‘Checking in with the Locals’ feature which is a really fun way to connect with the community and highlight all the different ‘favorites’ people have.  You can find that piece here, and get all of the Cville niche updates here.

That’s the quick and dirty on what’s been happening in my world – the details and exciting upcoming announcements will be coming very soon.  As will some new outfits for the blog, and hopefully a final style choice.  Until then, stay cool my friends.

The Flow Chart Called Life

There are the things we do in our lives that are resume builders, that are ‘obligatory responsibilities,’ and that we do to live up to other people’s expectations. And then, hopefully not in this order, there are the things we do for ourselves.  It’s in the things we do for ourselves, they way build our legacies through our passions that we build our lives.   Last week I was reminded of this, again, when I grabbed coffee with a friend in Charlotte.

The first time I met for coffee with this friend was for a pseudo job interview a few years ago – an interview that quickly transformed into a passionate conversation about goals, the nonprofit world, community development, and the most frequent theme of our shared goals – strong women in business.  Over the next 6 months we continued to meet for these caffeine sponsored existential refuels, creating a space for honest conversation outside of our everyday schedules and job(s), focusing on where we were going – in life.  We would discuss our lines of passion, rather than the typical ‘lines of work,’ and these musings became the foundation of our friendship.

flow chart called life

We talked about piecemeal resumes and employing what I like to call the ‘project strategy’ method of resume building; utilizing every opportunity to gain the experience necessary to eventually be qualified for the position that we have created in our heads.  We overflowed with excited words and emphatic hand gestures when talking about the projects we were owning on our own time. We connected the small ways they inched us closer to our goals and mapped out our re-evaluated paths.  The most substantial thing we did, however, was simply that we listened to each other.

By listening we created support, alliance, and most of all accountability as we shared aloud some of the goals that had only ever existed in the back of our own heads. It was apparent that slowly, but surely, we were evolving from building our visions to actually living them.  At the time, we were both working for lululemon, trying to keep our eyes up to see what was really beyond the great wall of black yoga pants.

There were many take-aways from my time working with lululemon, but the most impactful was the concept of creating your own role.  Look at your strengths, connect with what you love,  create your ideal life, and do it now.  Don’t wait for anyone to create it for you, just go out there and start doing it – Build YOURSELF.   Embracing this part of the lululemon culture, for me, was a confirmation of possibility and an encouraging thought that maybe there was a method to my madness (‘madness’ as a seemingly ironic and choice word now that I too live in what was then my ‘future’ life).  I had been doing it for years in my own way; selecting jobs for the learning curve, the skill set, and the opportunities that connected broadly with other groups and people; doing my best to maintain a trajectory that would land me where I wanted to be.


Had I never met this friend or ever ruminated over coffee I’m confident that we still would have been working towards these goals on our own.  We would still be creating, dreaming, connecting, and pushing ourselves forward because that’s what makes us feel whole.  We would be doing all of those things, but it might not have been the same; we may have hesitated longer before taking leaps, felt more obligated to prioritize work over life, or wondered if we were just out of our freaking minds.

As we caught up last week the conversation was much of the same, except for one big difference: it was no longer a conversation about the distant future.  We finally reached the ‘future,’ and are on the brink of realizing some of our most substantial goals.  We spent the last two years navigating through our own ‘project strategies’ to have reached the point where the passion collides with drive, where the future and LIFE begins.  The only thing left to do is start.

Exciting Announcement + Professional Update

It’s here.  After a year of planning, waiting, developing and pretty much chomping at the bit, it is here: announcement day.



This announcement has been a long time in coming, and is the culmination of longstanding respect, collaboration, and relationship development both in the fitness community in Charlotte, as well as in our relationships as an expanding Fight Gone MAD family.   We began this process with a solid foundation of mutual respect for all, personally and professionally, which has only grown over the last year.

Each member of our group has personal strengths and credentials that are diverse and strengthen the whole.  Every person has been wholly engaged and active in this process, and is vital to our future success.  I could not be more excited to join this group, both propelling my love of fitness to a larger stage and utilizing my background in brand development and marketing strategy.  The Fight Gone MAD branding has been expertly created by Brandon and Kirk, and brought to life by Carrie Barker of Pink Toast Ink, which makes my job even more exciting.

While this is a big day for us all, this is just the beginning.  We have so many amazing updates, announcements, and developments currently in the works that will be announced over the next few months, preparing for a very impactful opening at each location.

If you want to get a head start on following our flagship locations in Virginia, follow us on Facebook ( Fight Gone MAD – Cville ; Fight Gone MAD – RVA) or on Twitter ( @FGMad_Cville ; @FGMas_RVA) — Instagram is in the coming soon stage of development.


You Don’t Have to be Pushed.

This generation is different.  We’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification, in a world where no information or opportunity is more than a click away from your awareness, and being a 25 year old entrepreneur is almost commonplace.

We’re driven by the idea that we’re able to create change, and while we can follow the path of our parents generation and climb the corporate ladder, we can also create something of our own.  We leave jobs that promise security to do the things we love, to create new niche markets, and to develop possibilities that have only ever existed in our imaginations.   There is a power in our startup generation, in our drive to create something of our own, and something that connects us all on a broader scale. It is a power that can be inspiring on a level that is almost overwhelming.

steve jobs: love what you do

I relate to this generation – it is my generation.  I’ve always had that pull and the desire to believe in the ideas that I have.  The challenge is in allowing myself to be confident enough in my abilities that I don’t get lost in hesitation, or don’t fall into the trap of the status quo.  While it’s easy to quote Steve Jobs and give him enormous (and seemingly deserved) credit for helping to inspire and unofficially mentor my generation, my real inspiration comes from those around me.  I have amazing friends who support my ideas, who are eager to collaborate, and are rich with their own passions and tremendous capabilities.  More importantly, they are doers.  They dream it, and then, they do it.  They inspire me to live my passions, to create my ideal life, and to surround myself with everything that makes me come alive, and makes me better.

This week has been the culmination of a number of things that have long been in the works.  Next week will be full of announcements, excitement, and the start of amazing possibilities across more fronts than I can even articulate.  Some of them are extensions of other peoples visions, their creations, and their passions.  Others are the fully realized versions of the ideas I have had jotted down in my jumbled book of random brainstorms for months and even years.  All are tremendously exciting, and involve not only passion and hard work, but also collaboration, connection and community — all of which are vital to any worthwhile pursuit (in my humble opinion).

I’m so incredibly grateful for these moments, these opportunities, and all of the people that have been a part of the experience whether as collaborators or supporters.  The best part about it is that it’s just the beginning.  The visions have been built, the plans set out, but now is the fun part – actually getting to live it all out.  It’s in continuing to grow these ideas until one day we realize that they’ve become so much more than the visions themselves because they have ignited the passions in other people, they have grown out of themselves, and they have left legacies that go beyond these first announcements and what we thought we were all building.

Sharing everything next week will be exhilarating, yes.  But it’s the next five years that I’m excited about, and the five years after that.  I figure that as long as I’m excited, and as long as I’m being pulled by it I’m living my best life.  I’m stepping into my purpose.

Getting After it on a Dreary Monday

Today is a ‘get up and go’ kind of a day.  It’s a dreary and damp Monday out there but there’s too much happening to let a little grey get in the way.

create your own sunshine

This weekend was a welcomed work and play weekend, and a great start to the week.  For the last several months I’ve been in a ‘hurry up and wait’ pattern, preparing to announce a big new venture that has been a full year in the works.

This week has a full docket of press-releases, social strategy development and platform prep, and all of the things that bring me to life and ignite my most valuable skills.  I love what I do, and while I have always loved building and executing social media and brand strategies for an array of clients, being able to focus my attention and efforts on one main brand, exactly in line with my own brand image and business passion is beyond thrilling for me.

That being said, while there’s a big ‘new’ venture on the horizon for me, you can still expect event and community updates from me on FemCity Charlottesville, and the awesome programming that we’ve been building for the spring, summer and fall.  Fuel.Sweat.Grow is also still in full swing, and will be taking some exciting new directions in the coming months as well.  Lots of great things happening that I could not be more excited for.

Follow my updates on here, or get the updates minute by minute on any of my social networks.  Don’t be shy, I love a good social catch up.

So, go on out there into the world and create your own sunshine people.  Don’t let a few little rain clouds dampen the start of your week.