So, my business is tech, my passion is fitness: imagine my excitement when I was invited to try, IMHO (that’s text speak for ‘in my humble opinion’, for those of you not yet familiar with the lingo that youth is speaking these days), the most fun fitness equipment going. It’s an anti-gravity treadmill whose technology was developed by AlterG founder Sean Whalen.
Happy new year!!! My first blog of 2016 to give you an honest look back at last year and what went needed to change. And more importantly a motivational look forward to 2016 and what it holds for me!
I have recorded a video for you to watch on my YouTube Channel.I hope you enjoy it and that you continue to share my exciting journey into 2016…
As many people may know, I was a candidate on last year’s show. What people might not know is that my idea was, like Vana, an app. It is now my business The Link App. Despite not winning I went on the launch my app regardless. The final is always an interesting episode and this one didn’t disappoint.
During the course of my blogging I get to meet some really great people. One such lady was the wonderful Zanna Van Dijk, personal trainer, Instgram star and fitness inspiration to many. I have often mused about the link between entrepreneurs and athletes and there are fascinating studies providing insights about the similar characteristics needed for success in both fields. Zanna is also a business woman in her own right, successfully turning her passion for fitness into her business and I am keen to learn more.
It’s great to be able to interview you Zanna, to start please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I am 23, live and work in SW London and have my finger in many pies. I am a fitness, lifestyle and travel blogger, personal trainer and fitness model. I am a speaker, event host and the co-founder of the #girlgains movement. I am also a little bit of a social media addict and enjoy sharing content across various platforms from youtube video-blogs to instagram posts. I love the multi-faceted nature of my job!
Turning your passion into your business is the dream for so many, how did you achieve this?
I get asked this a lot and I actually find it hard to answer as my journey to where I am now was not a typical path. I actually studied speech therapy at university, but alongside my degree I started my fitness related social media accounts. These were simply there to share my passion and find other people with the same interests. Before I knew it, I had unintentionally gathered a fairly significant following and started to collaborate with brands and get new opportunities – all alongside studying. When I finished university I got a first class degree and everyone expected me to become a speech therapist. I went against expectations. At this point I had around 30,000 people following me and the chances I was getting were more and more exciting. I decided to give the fitness industry a go. I made my website and rebranded myself. I got offered a free personal training course in London and moved down on a whim. I intended to be here 6 weeks… here I am 8 months later. It was a struggle at first to make ends meet but now I have learnt how to monetise my social media and am finally grasping what it takes to succeed as a blogger. You have to have an element of entrepreneurship as you need to pull together a series of incomes and find new ways to expand and develop your brand. Its risky, exciting and rewarding. I love it.
I follow you on Snapchat so I get to see snippets of your day, but for those who do not, can you give us an insight into a typical day?
A typical day does not exist! No two days are ever the same. Some days I will be working from home in my PJs, others I will be all over London in meetings with brands, sometimes I will spend an afternoon shooting and often I am awake super early to take early morning PT clients. If you want to see a day in my life then add me on snapchat where I show little snippets: zanzapan 🙂
You are doing amazingly well on the social media side. One of the things I love about your page in the odd refreshingly honest post that documents your tricks and what real life looks like the other side of a lenses, that’s refreshing. Do you feel a responsibility, particularly those followers younger than you?
Well firstly, thank you. I am glad you appreciate those posts! I definitely do feel responsibility to my followers. I am very aware that many of them are younger than me and often say that they look up to me (and not just because I am tall!). I try to make sure that I show my imperfections, the lows as well as the highs. No one is polished all the time and eats salad 24/7. We all have down days and it unrealistic and unattainable to only show the good bits. People often compare themselves to those they follow on social media, so it is our responsibility as influencers to make sure they are comparing themselves to real, honest and open human beings.
The online world you occupy can unfortunately be notorious for negativity and trolls, have you ever experienced this? If so, do you have any tips for dealing with it for any readers who might experience the same?
I have to say, I am very lucky and have received very little negativity online; which is a miracle as the internet seems to be full of trolling. If I do ever receive a negative comment, I am confident enough in myself to just let it roll off my back. I just delete the comment and move on. There is no point dwelling on the opinions of people who don’t know you.
As you know from our previous exchanges, I love fitness but recently have struggled to strike the work life balance, do you have any fitness tips for busy people or entrepreneurs?
I think everyone has their moments where the work life balance falls to pieces, and that is ok. Sometimes business has to come first. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I don’t train for days because I am too busy. However, here are a couple of strategies which you can put into place to help fit fitness into a busy schedule. The first is to plan it into your diary for the week ahead, writing it in like an appointment that you can’t miss, so you organise your other work around it. The second is to be efficient with your workouts, you don’t need to be in the gym for over an hour. Most of my workouts are between 35-45 minutes long. I just use techniques like supersets (doing exercises back to back) or HIIT (high intensity interval training) to cut down on time. If all else fails, do 8 minutes of tabata training. It is hard to make an excuse to avoid an 8 minute workout!
It is great to see you doing so well but what is next for you?
Thank you! Lots of exciting things are in the pipeline. I have my clothing collection coming out in a couple of months, a few press trips before the end of the year and some exciting magazine articles being published. In terms of the long term, I hope to continue to grow my own brand as well as #girlgains and eventually have world domination…. it’s ok to be ambitious right?!
It is more than OK to be ambitious Zanna! Thank you for the interview. I hoped everyone enjoyed the read and picked up a few tips too!
Social media: @zannavandijk on Facebook, instagram twitter and Facebook, @zanzapan on snapchat, www.zannavandijk.co.uk
It’s been few weeks since I have done a review for The Apprentice, sorry about that but I am so busy in my day-to-day life TV is the last thing on the list. I make a special effort to watch it to compare it to my time on the show and to get the blog done but I wouldn’t be good business sense if I let it take away at all from running The Link App. Anyway, I am back. I concluded a call 5 minutes into the show so watched almost all of it.
Week 8 so a more serious stage of the programme, those left standing have done well to get to here. This week’s task was an events planning one, children’s party planning to be specific. It had lots of promise to be a fun episode but it was a bit flat for me. The editing team decides what particular aspects are going to be heavily featured and this week it was the turn of health and safety. As a lawyer this pleased me immensely as a viewer not so much.
I got to the end of the whole thing feeling there were fewer than usual business lessons to be had, save for Richard’s well thought out but poorly delivered comments about focussing on the margins. I think one of Lord Sugar’s assistants may have uttered the customer is king- or words of that sort. I am not the biggest Apprentice fan or anything but I do like to make a case for its relevance on UK television if it somehow at least ties to business lessons and they have a glimmer of hope to inspire a younger generation to be entrepreneurial. However either I missed them in the five minutes I was on the phone or they were sadly lacking. Also not a lot in the way of entertainment for me either.
I do feel Gary’s team was somehow on a road to failure as soon as the nut allergy was mentioned, that no matter what happened from that point they were lining up Lord Sugars puns about the mother going out on a stretcher etc. Allergies are a serious issue of course but no doubt the options were limited and drama expected.
In the end David was the one fired. I knew he wouldn’t last (see my previous blog) even when he won as project manager. There is a particular type Lord Sugar seems to prefer and no slight on him, he’s not it. From the clips we saw he wasn’t particularly entertaining in his role and it was clear he was the weakest target for the other three left in the final boardroom to pick off.
Next week’s episode is property sales, now that should be interesting.
Earlier this month I interviewed with Zanna Van Dijk, who is an Instagram star and fitness inspiration of mine, so it was great to be involved. As it is mostly about my attitude to fitness, life and business I thought you guys might like to read it too. Here it is, thanks to Zanna:
Interview: Lauren Riley
8th November 2015
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the gorgeous Lauren Riley at a press event earlier this year. As a woman in business myself, I find her incredibly inspiring. She is a successful entrepreneur with a lot of knowledge to share, I hope you enjoy getting to know her.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Where to start…I’m Lauren Riley and I’m a lawyer, public speaker, blogger, vlogger but most recognise me as a business woman. I founded The Link App a communication tool revolutionising the way law firms interact with their clients. I was on BBC The Apprentice last year so I can be found on the odd red carpet too. I am super keen on health and fitness although at the moment I’m working 6-7 day weeks so this is suffering much to my dismay. I promise I am not just saying that because I am talking to you. I think keeping on top of my body, keeps me on top of my mind and I’m just a normal person outside of my business, I am quite girly really and where I can I like to look good. Travel is a major passion of mine, I’ve been very lucky and been round the world a few times but its hard right now with all that’s going on with work. Currently loving life as a newbie to London town, I’m a bit of a social butterfly!
Obviously many of us know you for your time on the The Apprentice – can you tell is more about what that was like? (Is Alan Sugar as scary in person?!)
You know what it was actually a lot of fun to film and it been an amazing place to start a business from so I can’t complain. I always say that he is exactly the same in person as he is on television. So if you think he’s lovely then he is, if you think otherwise… you are also right. That’s my diplomatic answer but the whole process is designed to be scary or it wouldn’t make good TV. We won two awards last week including the most inspiring TV show so we must have done something right, thanks to all those who voted. I have one of the awards on my dresser at home.
You’re a successful entrepreneur, can you tell us how your career developed and progressed this point?
Sure. When I was younger I wanted to be a barrister or an actress. I was close… I’m a solicitor. I was pretty proud of that being the first generation in my family to go to uni. I worked in the civil service to help financially through my course. So although I did a straight academic route I always had to work pretty long hours. When I graduated I was completely fed up with exams and only part way to qualifying as a lawyer so I took three years out. I worked abroad and enjoyed my early twenties, enriching myself with travel and life experience. After a year I went to do a business graduate scheme as I was always interested in business, I loved the skills but hated the job so went running back to the law. I qualified from my post grad with distinction and was lucky night to land a training contract that year. I put this down to my ability to talk but mostly the ‘mistakes’ I had made, taking three years out to pursue something outside the law gave me ‘commercial awareness’ and that’s very important no matter what your industry. Then when I qualified I was a divorce lawyer and I enjoy that side of my work but I spotted a huge opportunity for technology to improve the way lawyers work for the benefit of them and their clients. The idea for The Link App just wouldn’t go away and I eventually went for it with the thinking that it would take off slowly but from almost day one the reaction was amazing. I feel very blessed and I LOVE what I do. As my journey isn’t conventional I am asked to speak regularly and I love sharing my journey through my talks and my blogs.
You are smashing life right now! How do you juggle everything you do – especially with an interest in health and fitness?
Being completely honest, if you’d have asked me about fitness a month ago I’d have said I was doing alright. Just recently there has been zero hours in the day for me and I hate to admit that as I strongly believe that balance is the key to a happy life. I’m still in OK shape as fitness is such a priority so if there is ever even a small amount of time, I’m on it with HIIT type exercises. I get up early and go to bed late and work every day except Sundays. However I am NOT complaining, I love what I do and I realise it’s a choice. I took on a lot but I don’t want to give up any aspect of my work. I love blog/ vlogging it’s a form of self-expression and I only agree to take on brands that compliment my lifestyle. For example I’m passionate about fitness and tech so I’m working with Move GB at the moment, it’s an app that allows you to have flexible access to hundreds of gyms across London. Working with fitness and technology, two of my things, does not feel like work! Same with law, I am passionate about my clients and as The Link App is aimed at lawyers it make sense for me to understand them from inside the industry. There’s no magic formula I can share I am afraid, it’s about hard work and surrounding yourself with the right people to support you. There is that famous phrase something like “entrepreneurs spend a few years like most people are not willing to, to spend a lifetime like most people can only dream of”. If it all works, I will take my downtime then…..from a villa in Barbados and I will work out every day and look like a Victoria secrets model haha.
Can you summarise your own personal approach to training and nutrition?
Sure, I don’t like to mess about. I am time poor determination rich so I chose high intensity every time. Classes like Insanity, kettlebells etc. I do like the body weight stuff, burpees, pushups etc but I’m also a fan of weight training. I quite often Instagram the stuff I am up to in the gym too, battle ropes etc. When I was employed I went to the gym 4-5 times a week and that’s what I would still like to achieve. When I’m being good I eat ‘clean’, everything from scratch, nothing processed etc. I also instagram my food from time to time. I am not perfect though and do indulge in things that I know aren’t great from me. I think life is about balance so if you eat right most of the time that’s OK, 80/20 is a good principle. I am a massive fan of hot lemon water in the mornings and religiously drink green tea.
I can imagine you’re pretty busy – what is a typical day in your life?
There is no such thing. One day I will be chained to my desk 8am to 10pm pushing through things for the business. The next I will be in my own law firm seeing client, or in other law firms giving training on how to use The Link App. The next I will be travelling to give a motivational talk elsewhere in the country or at a launch of a product for the blog and that evening I could go to a celeb event; although I usually only allow myself time for these if they are for charity or a brand I like. The good thing about the blog/ vlog is that I will nearly always be doing things I love; like taking spa breaks or trying out beauty or fitness products, so that’s really like my time off. If im lucky I will have the time to eat right and smash it in the gym.
I love seeing whats on peoples plates. What does a typical day in your diet look like?
Good question, breakfast is nearly always scrambled egg made with oat milk and spring onions and hot lemon water and green tea. Lunch will be chicken cooked in coconut oil and soy sauce with broccoli and flax seeds and dinner will be similar to lunch. I try and make double portions so I only have to cook once. I live in London so I eat out too much, steak is my favourite!
Everyone else seems to hate burpees, but I personally love them! What is your ultimate favourite exercise move?
I wouldn’t go as far as love, but I actually do like them because you can smash though them in a relatively short period of time and they really work to change your body. I am with you on the burpees.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of health/fitness advice and one piece of business advice what would they be?
Business: don’t be so hard on yourself. You are not making mistakes when figuring out your path. They are all just lessons leading you to where you are meant to be. Fitness: educate yourself first. I spent years in the gym doing low intensity stuff and eating badly and it was doing nothing for me.
Well done on all your success! What are your future plans?
Thanks lovely. Well I have only just start the vlogging channel. I am lining up some fab things, among them interviews with people like you, Amy Childs, Olympic athletes etc. I want to give people a real insight into my life and advice and that of others. The channel is www.youtube.com/c/misslaurenriley so that is very exciting. New thing happen with the business everyday so I cant wait to share how that turns out with you all!
Check Lauren out across the web:
I hope that you enjoyed reading that, to find out more about the inspirational Zanna head to http://www.zannavandijk.co.uk/
So the weeks of trying to learn everyone’s names while it looks like there are dozens of them running about are behind us, 14 candidates remaining at start of this week. I was thinking we might get a double firing. Not this week so the next two episodes I would say.
The ominous phone call comes, candidates to be at St James Square with 30 mins to get ready. That annoyed me as when I was on it, we only got 20 mins, one likes to looks ones best when there are up to 10 million people watching you. Elle questioning whether it was worth getting out of bed for, a funny moment but not the motivated start you would look for in your next business partner perhaps.
So we are well and truly underway with series 11 now.
Something has VERY much impressed me about these candidates, particularly this episode, I will reveal exactly what at the end of this post.
This episode was one of those that looks fun to be a part of. Choosing pet products and selling them on during a pet exhibition. To be fair I think both teams did quite well and both project managers excelled at keeping the moral of their teams up, which is important in a sales task. Continue reading
Ok so this episode was a combination of two of my favourite parts of The Apprentice. The abroad part and the scavenger hunt. Essentially the task is the most simple. Find everything on the list for the cheapest price. The team that doesn’t gets penalised. The penalty is £50 plus the retail price of the items. The most obvious thing to me would therefore be to secure the most expensive items first, with the i Continue reading
Every so often in life you get to the stage where you need a break. I don’t mean the ‘yeah I fancy a holiday’ or ‘oh wouldn’t a spa be nice’. I mean I’m working 6 days a week plus and had to cancel my much anticipate trip to South Africa because the business cannot spare me type scenario. Throwing that in there as context, not to moan, I make my own choices and love what I do but this little trip meant a lot to me. Continue reading