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Laura: Hi everyone. I'm Laura Max. Welcome to The Light Files on the BusinessMakers.com where we're interviewing people who followed their unconventional dreams and have taken very unconventional means to get there. I'm so excited to be here today with Henry Richardson from Define Body & Mind.
Henry: Well, thank you.
Laura: He's going to tell us all about how he has followed his extraordinary dream. If you haven't seen a Define Body & Mind studio in Houston then you must not be driving on the streets because they are popping everywhere. And Henry's journey to starting Define is a fascinating one that I can't wait to have him share with you all. Welcome Henry.
Henry: Thank you so much. It's so good to see you.
Laura: You too, you too.
Henry: Matching kind of brightness. I like this.
Laura: We are matching brightness. And Henry and I actually - I have a heartfelt story with Henry because when I was just graduating college about a year ago I was incredibly broke in my college apartment wondering what to do with the rest of my life. I thought I wanted to be a yoga instructor and my mother, who is friends with Henry, had him call me to give me some guidance on following my dreams. I did not end up going the yoga instructor route but there is certainly time for that. But he was a wonderful person to get that kind of guidance from. So please tell us - I know your journey to where you are today started a long time ago, actually at 22 when you moved to Manhattan to start working for Exhale.
Henry: That's right. You know, and let me just start by saying first off we are always looking for more instructors, so if you're interested -
Laura: I will think about it for sure.
Henry: But you know honestly my whole life has been kind of pieces of puzzles putting together that have led up to this point because I used to be a diver. I had a lower back injury which kind of got me interested in yoga and Pilates. I started teaching at this place called Exhale as a summer job basically that then turned into this passion of movement and everything that I was looking forward to. It led me to Define. There were lots of steps in between but it's been a lifelong kind of process for me.
Laura: Yeah and you were telling me earlier that you actually moved back to Houston to go to Rice University after -
Henry: That's right.
Laura: helping to open several of the Exhale studios around the country to get a "real" job. And then look where you ended up.
Henry: Yeah I think it's a real job but it's very -
Laura: It's a very real job. It is a very real job but from my understanding your interpretation of real job was working in real estate right?
Henry: Well so I was living in New York City and I was working for Exhale. I moved to California where I helped them open up a couple different studios. From there I decided it was time to grow up and get a real job. I moved back to Houston. I'd been accepted to Rice's MBA program and I was very excited about that. And I was focusing on real estate, specifically finance in real estate. Part of it was thinking, "Well I could work for my family," because my dad is actually involved in real estate. After being in school for about one year I took a class took New Enterprises at Rice University and I kind of found what I've wanted to do for quite some time.
Laura: Didn't you tell me your professor kind of gave you the idea for Define in a way?
Henry: Well you know what he said was, "It's all of our responsibilities to define our role in life." And the word define at that moment stuck out so brightly to me that without telling on myself I cut school - my next class - and I went to the Harris County Office and filed my DBA which is the Doing Business As.
Henry: And it was Define Body & Mind.
Laura: And only a couple years later I guess you opened your first studio.
Henry: Right, exactly. So this is the beginning of my second year of business school that I was taking this New Enterprise class. And actually my second semester, which is the last semester of business school I did an entire independent study with this same professor.
Henry: And before the actual graduation of my MBA I had signed a lease and decided I was opening up my first studio.
Laura: For your 30th birthday.
Henry: It was for my 30th birthday. It just so happened that we did - We opened up the day after my 30th birthday.
Laura: That's pretty amazing.
Laura: That's so amazing.
Henry: Yeah. It was fun.
Laura: So I love asking this question. I'm sure that despite all of your success today there had to have been many people who told you at one point or another that your dreams were crazy or -
Henry: Oh, yes. No doubt.
Laura: not going to happen. Tell us a little bit about that.
Henry: Okay. You know let me start by saying most of the people in business school thought I was crazy. My professor in business school was truly the main support.
Henry: He was giving me so much helpful guidance and that alone was worth my MBA experience. But at the same time my family was a little skeptical. Let me tell you why.
Laura: It's their job right?
Henry: It's their job. My dad opened up a business that was a gym. He opened up a gym when he was fresh out of college.
Laura: No way.
Henry: And it went under.
Henry: So this is his experience.
Henry: He was a football player. He loved working out. He was excited about opening up a gym. It didn't work out for him and he was not very, let's say, positive that it was going to work out for me either. But through all and all, you know, he ended up being one of the biggest supporters and he saw that I had a passion.
Henry: And he helped me with it. He said, "If you're going to fail at least I'm going to show you my support in your failure."
Henry: "But we're going to make this work."
Laura: Well it's cool that you say he could see that passion in you because as somebody who knows you it's really hard to imagine you doing anything else.
Henry: Yeah that's so true.
Laura: I mean I can't imagine you doing anything else.
Henry: I can't either actually.
Laura: This was like what - I mean you can just sense it when I'm around you this is what you were born to be doing.
Henry: This is - Define is an extension of who I am.
Laura: Yeah you can sense that.
Henry: So this is - Yeah this is my life. This is what I love.
Henry: I love the clients. I love the every day-to-day activities. It's my dream.
Laura: And what is your favorite part of being here?
Henry: Truly it's meeting the people and hearing the stories. My background with being in diving and hurting my lower back;
Henry: It gave me a sense for empathy for other people that are having chronic pain or just wanting to feel something different in their lives. And we get to see so many people and see the changes both physically but more importantly, in my opinion, spiritually/mentally.
Henry: And it's life-changing for me as well as for others. So it's always about giving back.
Laura: Awesome. And I guess the last thing I'll ask you, which is my favorite question, is what would you tell someone who's thinking about jumping off the ledge and following their dreams?
Henry: That's a good question and honestly it is learn every aspect of the business that you possibly can when it's on someone else's dime. You know?
Laura: I love it.
Henry: Because when it's on your own dime you make a lot of mistakes and it costs you a lot of money. But when I working for Exhale I was able to learn so much about the different aspects; everything from the janitorial duties - which I was when I first opened up my own studio. I was the janitor.
Laura: Oh my God.
Henry: All the way to management duties.
Laura: So those learning opportunities that are in front of you even when you feel like you're working some kind of dead-end summer job -
Henry: Oh completely.
Laura: I mean you have such an opportunity in front of you even when it feels like that might not be what it is at all.
Henry: You know the phrase it's about being impassioned about life?
Henry: No matter what you're doing make sure that you are getting the most out of it by truly investing into it. And then take what you can from the situation. You might learn what you really don't want to do in life. But more importantly you'll probably learn really what makes you excited in life.
Henry: And I think that's the most important thing.
Laura: Well I really don't want to end this interview but I think I have to. So thank you all for joining us. This is Henry Richardson from Define Body & Mind.
Henry: Thank you Laura.
Laura: For more of The Light Files you can join me on http://www.thelightfiles.com or follow me on Twitter @lauramaxnelson or find me on Facebook. Facebook.com/The Light Files. And we'll see you next week for another episode with people following their unconventional dreams in unconventional ways. Bye guys.