Gainesville Health and Fitness owner Joe Cirulli’s lifestyle is action-packed, but he has found that spending more time thinking can lead to a successful business. Cirulli, who recently served as president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, runs a powerhouse of health and fitness, but he began cultivating his entrepreneurial talents long before the multimillion-dollar center hit its stride. Books, unsuccessful ventures and a strong will have set Cirulli on this path to success. Here’s what works for him.
— Interview by Heather van Blokland; additional reporting by Alexandria Ugarte and Rachel Sale
What is the best, and worst, business advice you ever received?
I worked for many companies that went through bankruptcy. I never had anyone I could go to for help in business, so I read books and listened to tapes. I read Think and Grow Rich at 21, and it changed my life. I accomplished the goals I set then 11 years later.
I never feel sorry for myself. I ask instead, “What does this teach me about myself? How does it help me deal with obstacles and challenges?”
What gadget is most valuable to you?
My iPad. With it, I keep track of all my long-term ideas and thoughts throughout the day. It also helps me stay up-to-date with flying news. I am a pilot and when I go flying, I have all the information I need in one place.
What’s your best tip for staying organized?
I spend time every week thinking—not just doing. Then I work on a plan. Usually Friday is “think and plan day.” It’s important to designate a specific time each week. Everything is known at the beginning of the week so when Monday morning arrives—there is no wasted time.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part is I love what I do, so work isn’t work.
There really is no worst part. The hardest part of any business, generally, is your people. I have an extensive program for hiring people, so the least of my problems are the staff. When someone new comes in, they fit right in, and it’s like they’ve been here forever.
Any new hire goes through multiple interviews and is tested for holding the same core values and company culture as the rest of the staff. I believe in getting the right people from the start. When hired, people mesh immediately without a problem.
My main focus is figuring out what I’m going to do next—making the next plan—and keeping myself in top condition.
What is your schedule like?
Monday mornings start at 8am, Tuesdays 9am, Wednesdays at 7:45am, Thursdays at 6am and Friday is think day. I do cardio in the evening. I have a new program for weight training twice a week and cardio four times a week.
My diet is very healthy. I eat four times a day, and I do not eat dessert. The last couple of months, I’ve been asked to speak pretty regularly. When asked to speak overseas, I always bring someone else from my staff. We just got back from Italy, where we are helping develop roundtables.
Who do you admire?
I admire author and psychologist Dennis Waitly. I’ve gone through The Psychology of Winning 40 times. Years ago, there was a guy who said bad things about me. So, one day I sat him down and told him my story. Then I listened to him and told him he’d never be successful because he had a self-defeating attitude. He was going on a job interview so, I lent him my tapes of this book and told him to come back to me after promising he’d listen to them on his trip. He came back and told me the tapes changed his life. He got the job and thanked me.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Creating something brand new is tough. Read every business book and talk to every person you can find before you start. If someone wants to go into a business, go to work in that business about 14 hours a day for two years, do every job in that business and work for every person in that business first.
What is your personal philosophy?
“If you help enough people get what they want out of life, you will get what you want out of life.”