Mindbody CEO Rick Stollmeyer on leadership: ‘You have to know yourself’
In 2001, San Luis Obispo native Rick Stollmeyer launched a brand-new company out of his garage with the goal of helping boutique fitness businesses move from punch card booking to online appointments.
Seventeen years later, that business, Mindbody, has grown into a publicly traded health and wellness software company that employs more than 1,500 employees around the world.
On Thursday, Stollmeyer was the keynote speaker at The Tribune’s 13th annual Top 20 Under 40 awards luncheon at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, where the CEO shared his insights into success, and how in today’s world, simply “effective” leadership isn’t enough — you have to be “conscious” as well.
“A conscious leader is not just about accomplishing an objective,” he said. “An accomplished leader is thinking about, ‘What is the endpoint of this? What are we actually doing for our world?’ Because our world has a lot of problems. It has a lot of division. It has a lot of angst. And we need conscious leaders, like the 20 who are in this room.”
The Tribune’s annual award honors the accomplishments of men and women younger than 40 who have demonstrated excellence in their professions and commitment to community service. To be eligible, nominees must have lived and worked in San Luis Obispo County year-round.
“Looking at the backgrounds of you 20 honorees today, it’s so inspiring to see what you are doing in our community, the business that you’ve started, the businesses that you are running, the community organizations that you are leading,” Stollmeyer told the honorees. “There is a common thread here, isn’t it? And it is, in fact, leadership.”
The first step in becoming a conscious leader, Stollmeyer said, is knowing yourself.
“What do you stand for?” he asked. “What do you care about? What do you want your life to be about? What do you want people to say about you after you are gone? This is deep, profound work. It’s work that each of us can only do for ourselves. But it’s absolutely essential to be a conscious leader.”
This means a lot of soul-searching on a regular basis — for example, Stollmeyer tells himself every day (while driving to work down Tank Farm Road, he added) that he “is neither entitled nor obligated to do this.”
And when his wife, Jill Stollmeyer, asks how much longer he plans to “keep doing this,” he has a response ready: “until it stops being fun or it stops feeling like I’m actually delivering something for others.”
“The world is changing so fast,” he said. “The product we serve up today to the businesses we serve, now to the consumers of our mobile apps, is a completely different thing than we started in our garage. ... This is a completely different product. What’s not changed is our core values and our purpose.”
Stollmeyer’s final piece of advice — fitting for someone so closely aligned with the health and wellness industry — was to consider a salutation oft-heard in yoga classes.
“This is hard deep work, unless you actually love people,” he said. “If you don’t love people, don’t be in leadership. I mean love everybody, even the people you don’t like. ... If you go to yoga class, the phrase ‘namaste,’ it means ‘that which is holy in me recognizes that which is holy in you.’ No matter how much they drive you crazy.”