Episode 433 – Amiee Keenan

Amiee is a Marketer & Fitness Guru

Amiee Keenan, founder of The ISV Society, talks about her passion for health & fitness, how it improves her performance in the office, and how she has developed relationships in the office through her passion!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into health & fitness
• How fitness translates to her work
• Starting at-home workouts
• Developing relationships through fitness
• How an individual and an organization both play a role in company culture
• Why it is important to humanize yourself with other people in the office


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    Welcome to Episode 433 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.

    If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book, also called What’s Your “And”? on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for the book on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. It goes more in depth into the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture and also to your mental wellness. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.

    Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Aimee Keenan. She’s the founder of the ISV Society, helping ISVs collaborate with each other, out of her office in Barrington, Rhode Island, and now she’s with me here today. Aimee, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Aimee: Thank you for having me, John. I’m excited to be here.

    John: Oh, this is going to be so awesome. We’ve known each other for a while now and finally get you on the show. I’m super excited.

    Aimee: Me too.

    John: Yeah, I have rapid-fire questions, things I’ve never asked you before that I probably should have, now that I think about it.

    Aimee: Bring it on.

    John: Here we go. Here we go. All right, I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one here. How about a favorite color?

    Aimee: Favorite color would be peach.

    John: Peach. Okay, that’s a first, haven’t had that one. All right. How about a least favorite color?

    Aimee: Brown.

    John: Brown. All right. Yeah, that’s pretty popular. Just even the word sounds not fun. It’s just like, brown. How about cats or dogs?

    Aimee: Dogs.

    John: Dogs. Yeah, me too.

    Aimee: I used to be a cat person, believe it or not. Grew up with cats, but four years ago, changed my life when I got a dog.

    John: Oh, wow. There you go. See? How about a favorite day of the week?

    Aimee: I would say Friday.

    John: Friday. All right. There you go. How about a puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?

    Aimee: Definitely jigsaw.

    John: Jigsaw. There you go. Yeah. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Aimee: If I had to go with one, I’d pick Star Wars.

    John: Star Wars. Yeah. It’s the one that you know more about probably.

    Aimee: Yes, by far.

    John: Yeah. Computers, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Aimee: Mac.

    John: Mac. Oh, wow. Super cool. Yeah. I’m PC. I don’t even know how to turn a Mac on. Is there a button? I don’t know. Do you just look at it?

    Aimee: There is a button actually.

    John: Oh, okay. I figured you just tell it, turn on, and then it turns on. Or it reads your mind.

    Aimee: I wish it did.

    John: Yeah. Right? That’s the next version. Ooh, here’s a good one, diamonds or pearls.

    Aimee: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. You’ve got to pick diamonds.

    John: Right? They certainly cornered the market with that phrase. That’s for sure. How about a favorite ice cream flavor. I love ice cream.

    Aimee: Cookie dough.

    John: Solid answer. There we go. There we go. Yep, get as many chunks in there as possible.

    Aimee: Exactly.

    John: Yeah, yeah. Ooh, talk or text.

    Aimee: I feel like talking is better, especially with COVID and everything. Text is just. You guys could be on the phone.

    John: The tone is completely lost, and this is going to go back and forth for 10 minutes, where it could have been 30 seconds on a phone.

    Aimee: Yes.

    John: I agree. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Aimee: Well, I’d have to go with Robert Downey Jr. because I’m a huge Iron Man fan. He’s just come a long way over the years and overcome a ton of obstacles and just really came around and became a really great actor, I think.

    John: Yeah, and person.

    Aimee: Yeah.

    John: For sure.

    Aimee: He’s just an amazing person. Yeah.

    John: Yeah. No, totally, I totally hear you on that one. How about chocolate or vanilla?

    Aimee: Dark chocolate.

    John: Dark chocolate. Okay. Very specific. Very specific. This one’s probably a slam dunk living in Rhode Island, but oceans or mountains.

    Aimee: Oh, definitely oceans.

    John: That’s what I was going to say. How about your first concert?

    Aimee: My first concert was Bon Jovi.

    John: Nice. There you go. That’s awesome. Very cool.

    Aimee: I had to think about that. I was probably ten.

    John: The original Bon Jovi.

    Aimee: Yeah.

    John: The not dying his hair blonde.

    Aimee: Outside concerts, it was outside and everything.

    John: Right. There you go. How about a favorite number?

    Aimee: I don’t really have a favorite number, but I will go with three.

    John: Three? All right. Was there a reason?

    Aimee: Well, they say bad things happen in threes, but I want to say good things happen in threes.

    John: Okay.

    Aimee: Just change that.

    John: Yeah, I like that. I like that. Two more. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?

    Aimee: It depends on the book, I think. If I want to make notes and highlight and write things down, then I like hardcover, but if it’s just for reading purposes, fun only, then Kindle all the way for that.

    John: Okay. Yeah. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Aimee: Favorite thing I have. I’m a collector of Disney snow globes. I have a ton of those.

    John: Is there one that’s your favorite?

    Aimee: I have one that’s probably the most rarest is the Steamboat Willie one.

    John: Oh, wow. That’s super old school. Yeah. That’s awesome. That’ll be your Follow-Up Friday. We’ll talk about snow globes. You can’t hide behind this fitness nonsense. I want to hear about snow globes.

    Aimee: Sure.

    John: That’s super cool. That’s awesome. Let’s talk health and fitness and all that funness. How did that get started? I’m sure, as a kid, you’d had to do president physical fitness test and all that nonsense. After that, you become an adult. If you’re like me, you just stop.

    Aimee: It all started with running, believe it or not. When the kids were younger, and all I could afford was some running shoes, then I took the streets and just ran every day. I ended up doing a lot of races, mostly 5Ks. Then it morphed into other things. As I got older, I went into the gym, started doing spinning and classes. Then they offered this triathlon training. I’m like, oh, cool. Wouldn’t it be cool to do some sprint triathlons?

    John: A sprint triathlon, that’s just shorter everything?

    Aimee: Yeah. Basically, it’s a half a mile swim, 13-mile bike, and then a 5K run.

    John: Okay, all right. This is now more my speed. I like it.

    Aimee: Yeah. I could never do an Ironman or anything like that. Forget it.

    John: Right. I’ve got other stuff to go do.

    Aimee: It’s a lot of training, yes, it is, learning those three things.

    John: Good for you. That’s really awesome that you just stepped up and were like, you know what, I’m going to do all three. That’s really cool.

    Aimee: I think taking a class and learning the right, how to swim, the technique, all that stuff, learning how to change a bike tire because you could get a flat on your race, just things you never think of. They prepare you for all of that.

    John: Okay. Yeah. What was it like when you were, I mean, I guess the training is the most of it, but doing the actual sprint triathlon, that had to feel pretty invigorating.

    Aimee: Yes, it did. I did three my first year.

    John: Wow. Okay, so it wasn’t like you did one and then retired.

    Aimee: No.

    John: You’re like, no. You got the bug.

    Aimee: I did get the bug for a few years, but then I stopped.

    John: Well, no, it’s completely understandable, but that’s awesome. That’s really cool. Were they mostly in the Northeast there?

    Aimee: Yeah, I learned that I like swimming in a pool versus the ocean.

    John: Right. The ocean is not in your favor. No matter what direction you’re swimming, it is going against you, somehow.

    Aimee: And you’re going from swimming in the lane, back and forth, to swimming with 30 to 40 people kicking and smashing at you, and you’re dodging.

    John: Right. Don’t get kicked in the face. Don’t get kicked in the face.

    Aimee: Yeah, you’re first one is really overwhelming.

    John: I’ll just go last. You guys all win. I’ll be back here, and we’re good.

    Aimee: I highly recommend a wetsuit for that portion just because it makes you feel more buoyant, more safe and secure.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Aimee: What’s cool about it is some of them offer, when you run off the beach, they offer a strip person that will just strip that wetsuit right off of you.

    John: Oh.

    Aimee: Obviously, you have a triathlon suit underneath, and then you just run to your bike.

    John: That’s a totally different race, totally different race.

    Aimee: Totally different race. You run to your bike, get your shoes on, clean yourself up, dry yourself up and everything, just get on your bike and go.

    John: Yeah, stuff you learn from either the class or doing it once, and then you’re like, oh, alright. Good to know. Good to know. That’s fantastic. Really cool. Do you feel at all, the fitness and health, in general, translates to work? Does it give you a skill that you bring to your career?

    Aimee: I think it does because you have to have discipline and you have to have a mental fitness side of things also.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Aimee: When you’re doing fitness, you’re bringing in all aspects of your life into it. That also translates into your job, what you have to focus on, mentally, physically, emotionally. That plays into your job as well, so I think they both can play hand in hand on that. Of course, just starting your day out that way just makes you more productive. You just feel good. You’re ready to take on the day, and I think gives you more mental clarity. Sometimes, actually, when I’m doing fitness, I think about things that I get ideas for work. Because being marketing, you have to come up with creative things all the time. When you get into that mental space in your exercise, sometimes it actually kindles some ideas that you get for your work.

    John: That’s so true. Yeah. Because at no point in your education or training was it, hey, go exercise and train for sprint triathlon because it will make you better at your job. No one ever says that.

    Aimee: No.

    John: But there’s always a cool, accidental byproduct of the thing that you love to do. It’s cool to hear that you come up with ideas, and it starts your day well and gets you thinking right, and then you’re more productive. You’re better at your job.

    Aimee: Yes.

    John: At the end of the day, which is really cool. Is this something that coworkers know about or clients know about, throughout your career, that you share with people?

    Aimee: Yes. Well, besides triathlons, I obviously exercise every day now. I do a variety of different programs. I’ve actually transitioned into at-home workout programs, and not because of COVID.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Aimee: Just because, so, five years ago, I did a half marathon, a Disney half marathon, which I highly recommend. It’s called the Wine and Dine.

    John: Oh, nice. Okay.

    Aimee: So much fun. They close the parks down. You run through, I think we ran through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and we ended in Epcot.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Aimee: They have bands playing on the route, characters. You can stop and take pictures with characters if you don’t care about your time. Yeah. I had trained all summer for that because that was in November. Mile 10 is where my knee really started to bother me, for some reason, which it never bothered me the whole time I was training, never had any issues. Mile 10, those last three miles were torture for me. I had to walk, run, walk, run, walk, run, until the end. After that, I took a couple weeks off to see if it would stop hurting. Then I started doing 5Ks again, and it still started hurting. I’m like, I don’t want knee surgery. It just became not fun for me now because I’m worried about my knee constantly. That’s when at-home workouts came into play.

    John: Nice, and different things besides the running.

    Aimee: Mm-hmm.

    John: Yeah, and you grabbed a snow globe before you left.

    Aimee: I did. I did.

    John: Yeah, you did. You’re at the mothership. You’ve got to get one.

    Aimee: I am.

    John: It’s cool to hear that there are other things that you can do. It’s not like you had to give it up all together. It’s, well, I’m just going to do it in a different way. I saw some of the pictures that we have on the website at whatsyourand.com. The body bag is like punching or kickboxing or some kind of something. All I know is I don’t want to meet you in a dark alley. That’s all I know. Anyone who has a bag like that, knows what they’re doing. Because I’ll be flailing and then I’ll be down in about three seconds. That’s cool to hear that there are other things that keep you going. I would imagine, yeah, it comes up in conversation with people.

    Aimee: Oh, all the time, which is kind of nice, in a way. I’m kind of known as the fitness geek or the fitness guru or the fitness crazy person, but they all say I inspire them. They want to do what I’m doing someday. It always comes up in conversations, always.

    John: That’s super cool, though, because some people feel like, well, I’ve got this thing outside of work, but it has absolutely nothing to do with my job, so no one cares. Or I shouldn’t talk about it or whatever. You were the opposite. You were like, well, you asked, so this is what I’m doing.

    Aimee: Right.

    John: How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create this space where people are allowed to share or encouraged to share, even; versus, how much is it on the individual to maybe start the circle amongst themselves or to jump in?

    Aimee: I think it’s a little of both. If you don’t have a culture right now, where it is instilled, you could always start it. I find that a lot of cultures, and it could be because of COVID, that people are starting to be more open to these types of things because, hey, we are working from home. This is a different dynamic. Not everybody’s in the office all the time. We need to figure out other ways that we can connect and relate and just keep those working relationships going in a positive way, and learning about what other people do. There used to be time to chat around the water cooler but not anymore, so you’ve got to bring those chats to the Zoom screen, unfortunately. From a health and fitness perspective, what I’ve also noticed is a lot of companies now are offering incentives for working out. They’ll pay for your gym membership or half whatever you’re doing. I think, from a mental wellness perspective, companies should start thinking about having some kind of incentive for people to even dive into some kind of health and fitness regimen just to keep themselves sane

    John: Yeah. That’s the thing that’s been so interesting with the past year and a half or so is just how the “and” can really help you connect with clients and coworkers and customers and whatever, but it’s even more important for just your own sanity, just to have something to go to that’s not work. Because since so much work is happening in your home, and homes weren’t designed for this, not everybody has a spare office, or it’s something that you could still see from your living room, so it’s always there. Having that thing to just completely unplug and get away is so critical.

    Aimee: It is.

    John: For companies to endorse it or encourage it, is even better because then it shows that we care about you.

    Aimee: Exactly.

    John: Do you feel like people are sharing more about their hobbies and passions now, on accident, because we’ve been in each other’s homes?

    Aimee: I think so, just because you see kids running around now, and you see people’s homes in the background. Maybe they have pictures, or their pets are barking or whatever. It just ends up happening in the conversation because of that, too.

    John: Yeah, because it’s all the stuff that we tried to.

    Aimee: Hide.

    John: Tried to hide, right. Yeah. We had this veneer of I’m uber professional person, robot lady or whatever. It’s like, no, you’re just a real person that has stuff. Yeah, we get deliveries, and the dog goes nuts. Doesn’t everyone?

    Aimee: My dog does.

    John: Right? No matter how well they’re trained, I’m still convinced that they think that the guy is going to break into your house. It’s like, they’re not, they’re bringing you cool stuff, all the time. It’s always fun. Have you ever come across other people that are training for things like you are, and so then you you help motivate each other? As opposed to, I know that there’s been plenty of people that, like me, you’re motivating to actually start, but people that are actually doing it that you can run with or train with, or things like that. I would imagine that relationship’s a little bit different than everyone else.

    Aimee: Sure. Actually, when we did the sprint triathlon training, that was a great group of people. When we were training, we meet once a week, and then we’d also meet during the week. If anybody wanted to do running together, swimming together or biking together, we’d get together. We’d meet at the beach and get into the water because this is how it’s really going to happen.

    John: Right.

    Aimee: We would do that on the side, just with each other, to help each other get motivated and gear up and be ready and prepared for it.

    John: Yeah, for sure. Some of those people are through work or coworkers or whatever, which is awesome. Yeah. I would imagine that, just by accident, the relationship with those people has to be just a little bit different than just everyone else.

    Aimee: Exactly. Yeah. Because you have something in common with them so it’s just makes it that more relatable, when you’re working with them and hanging out with them, build a better friendship, as well as work relationship.

    John: Yeah. That’s such a good point of you’re spending more time with them, so, of course, you’re going to just be more inclined, it’s more the oxytocin connecting you, subconsciously, just in your brain, you’re going to like them more. That’s awesome to hear, awesome to hear. I always struggle when I hear people that have barriers to why they want to share or rather don’t. Do you have any words of encouragement to people that have this outside-of-work hobby, and maybe it’s something crazy like sprint triathlons, but do you have any words of encouragement that it does matter and that it does impact your career and make you better at your job?

    Aimee: Yeah, I think it’s so important just to humanize yourself with other people. If you’re sharing and getting out of your comfort zone, then that helps other people get out of their comfort zone and want to share. There’s nothing that’s not too crazy or outlandish. If it is crazy and outlandish, heck, that’s a great conversation. People are probably more engaged than if it was something really, I don’t know, mundane or whatever.

    John: Right. Right.

    Aimee: A funny story for you, I actually had my first call with the ISV Society. We had our first members call. Everyone went around and introduced themselves, and one of the things they had to say was what they like to do outside of work.

    John: Awesome. Love it.

    Aimee: Yeah, it was awesome. That was really what humanized the whole call was people just talking about what they do outside of work, and that just made it so much better. I wanted to tell you, I used your feedback from the book.

    John: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much. It’s just cool to hear that it works. I would imagine there are people that knew each other for years that had no clue that that’s what truly lights them up. Wow, that’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that because.

    Aimee: Sure.

    John: Yeah, I just write the book, and I don’t know what happens, type of thing. I work with some clients, so I’m able to see that a little more, hands on, but not all the time. Yeah, it’s awesome to hear that. That’s really cool. Really cool. Those are things that you’ll never forget about the person.

    Aimee: Exactly.

    John: Yeah. It’s like, what was their job? I don’t really remember, but they like to whatever. That’s super cool. That’s awesome. Well, this has been so much fun, Aimee. I feel like I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, so it’s only fair that we make this the first episode of the Aimee Keenan podcast. I’m all yours.

    Aimee: All right.

    John: Fire away, any questions you got for me.

    Aimee: Okay, so who is your favorite Avenger?

    John: Oh, my favorite Avenger. Is Iron Man an Avenger? Because it would be Iron Man.

    Aimee: All right.

    John: Not just because you brought it up earlier, just because Iron Man is just awesome. It’s like Batman but way cooler. It’s got all the gadgets but better.

    Aimee: Exactly.

    John: I would go with that. I almost had to Google it.

    Aimee: Favorite dessert.

    John: Oh, man, this is going to be hard. Yeah, all of them. Probably a brownie ala mode because then it gets more stuff, just warm brownie, dollop of ice cream, hot fudge, some nuts, whipped cream, cherry.

    Aimee: The works.

    John: Right. Yeah, that’d probably be pretty high on the list. It’s got the combo. Yeah.

    Aimee: Okay. Well, since the Olympics are happening, what’s your favorite sport in the Olympics?

    John: Favorite sport in the Olympics. Yeah, diving is always amazing to me. That’s always cool. The swimming is also interesting because it’s milliseconds, which is wild. I’ve always been an advocate, there’s a comedian who said years ago that they should just have a regular person swimming, so you can see, even the eighth place person is amazing. They lost by five seconds. It seems like they’re way behind, and they left you. It’s not even close. Diving is definitely, the fact that gravity and all the stuff, I don’t even know. Thank goodness for cameras now so they can slow-mo it.

    Aimee: I know. The synchronized diving is crazy.

    John: Right? Yeah, that’s the next level.

    Aimee: How can they stay so in sync? It’s crazy. It is crazy.

    John: Yeah. That’s the one where they even have, even getting up onto the platform is synchronized. Yeah, you guys practiced a lot for four years. It’s pretty much since the last Olympics. That’s awesome. Very cool. Well, this has been so much fun, Aimee. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?

    Aimee: Oh, thank you so much for having me, John.

    John: This is awesome. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of Aimee in action, or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, as well to the ISV Society. While you’re on the page, please click the big green button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read the book.

    Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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