Richard Simmons is an American fitness expert and actor best known for his "Sweatin' to the Oldies" aerobics series promoting weight loss. Simmons is instantly recognizable and known for being a wild man.
He's smiley, happy and extremely energetic even at 65 years old and his love for people who have struggled to manage their weight for their entire life is obvious. With his trademark pouf of hair and his love of super short jogging shorts, if you've seen him on television or done one of his "Sweatin' to the Oldies" videos or DVDs (yes, he's been around long enough for both video and DVDs) then you won't forget him quickly.
Simmons is not just an actor and fitness expert, he's a true entrepreneur with an estimated net worth of $15 million dollars in 2013 according to the website Celebrity Net Worth.
Despite his wild appearance and crazy high level of energy there are lessons any entrepreneur can learn from Richard Simmons.
Lesson #1: Be an Educator and an Advocate for Your Brand
Forget Generation X, Y, Z. The business world is suffering from a bad case of what looks like "Me, me" syndrome. One thing Richard Simmons doesn't have problems with is thinking about only himself, worrying about how to sell something to make money, or keeping up with the latest fashion trends. He's clearly focused on educating as many people as he can about his core messages which are: fitness and exercise can be fun, you can do it and exercise and healthy eating can save your life.
He's also an advocate. He fights for and supports people who struggle with their weight, eating healthy and exercise. Not only does he fearlessly share his own story with the world, but he champions a group of people who have often been shamed and ostracized in society, the extreme morbidly obese. Not limiting himself to one group, Richard Simmons is an educator and advocate for all types of people who struggle with food and fitness.
Lesson #2: Use Micro-specialization
Richard Simmons is passionate about his career, he's clearly dedicated his life to educating, advocating, teaching and yes, selling the benefits of health and weight loss to as many people as he can get to listen. It's often overlooked that he clearly made a choice to focus his life and career in one area: fitness. Not only did he build up his expert status in fitness, he micro-specialized in working with obese people, especially morbidly obese people.
Today, with an increasingly global economy, there are many options for building a business or a career and it is easy to want to generalize in order to retain the possibility of pulling business from many different sectors, but Richard Simmons is an excellent example of how micro-specialization can rocket an entrepreneur or business to the top of their industry and keep them there with the staying power of decades.
Lesson #3: Be Unique/Different
Why does Richard Simmons still wear his tiny Dolfin shorts on television and on his videos? They're different. They stand out and they're definitely memorable. Look at a picture of Simmons on the cover of a 1980's videotape and watch him on television in 2014 and he looks remarkably the same, yet "the same" for him stands out as unique and different from anybody else.
When people think of a fitness guru, they aren't going to confuse him with anybody else. His style is part of his personal brand.
In a sea of "me-me" businesses, being unique and different can really get you noticed and help you rise above the rest. Color, design, fashion or style are only a few tiny ways to stand out, what you really need is to have ideas, a message and marketing that is incredibly different than not just your competitors, but from anybody else out there. That is one of Richard Simmons' true secrets.
Lesson #4: Put Some Energy In It!
If you watch Richard Simmons glide on to a television show's set, he instantly takes over with his energy. He makes smiley morning talk show hosts look like they've been sleeping at the wheel every morning.
What does he do?
He smiles; he is clearly 100% present in the moment and not worried about the future or thinking about the past. He's paying attention. He's giving of himself and his energy to the audience and to the host without holding back.
He isn't worrying about being accepted or presenting a social mask, that's one of the reasons he's such a wild man, not just for his love of 4:30 am mornings and working out 7 days a week.
Lesson #5: Don't Care What Others Think You Should Be or Do
If Richard Simmons cared what others thought he should be or do, he probably wouldn't be on television wearing a vest covered with hundreds of tiny pom poms that might remind you of elementary school art class. He might think 65 is too told to wear tiny shorts or even to wear bright colors.
What kind of other things might that thinking lead to? Maybe that he's too old to dance around? Too old to be happy and smiley?
Entrepreneurs need to remember that in order to stand out from the rest you have to risk not being what others think you should be. Others place limits on what is possible, what is acceptable to be "normal," but there is tremendous power to breaking out of that jail and risking being different.
Lesson #6 Be Real
Richard Simmons tells his real story and shows his real self in everything he does. Since he's being real, he doesn't waste a bunch of energy being fake, fitting in, or pretending to be like everyone else.
Entrepreneurs can get caught in the trap of trying to copy a successful competitor, spending too much time recreating what others have don instead of discovering and playing to their own unique strengths. Being someone else might work for a while, but true success comes faster and lasts longer for those who create a business based on being real.
So if you've been paying attention and taking notes, the secret success formula Richard Simmons is so good at using is: educate, advocate, specialize, be unique, put your energy into it, don't care what others think and be real!