BY MARESA FRIEDMAN
[Things to note: The Executive Cat Herder was not paid to promote, distribute, or create this article. I meet interesting Entrepreneur's and sometimes feel compelled to share their story- to inspire, ignite, and incite innovation ]
It doesn’t take much to feel Anthony Lero’s enthusiasm and Joie De Vivre. There are very few people that live and breathe their work or profession. Authenticity is not just a value or word placed on a wall. As, world renowned speaker and author Simon Sinek once put it, “You can’t tell someone- I’m going to need you to be more authentic today” . Authenticity is a living breathing value that is lived day in and day out. (If you don't know who Sinek is, I've enclosed his Ted Talk, with more than 2M views, for you to watch- it's 18 Minutes and one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen. It changed my life when I first saw it in 09)
It only takes a couple of minutes for Anthony to lay out the story of how he created The Lean Machine Meal Prep. As a former Veteran, Anthony made conscious decisions in his life to make choices to eat clean. He also knew discipline and how to execute. Shortly after finishing his tour and entering back into the civilian world he met his wife Dana. Dana had an amazing talent and passion for cooking, coupled with Anthony's outgoing personality and knack for business, they made the perfect team. Both Dana and Anthony shared a mutual love for fitness and as they began to focus on working out and eating clean, Anthony soon started expressing an interest in competing in Men's Physique, fitness competitions. Along the way Dana had to adapt her unrestricted talents as a chef and create recipes that would help him achieve his competition goals. There are multiple processes to losing weight or getting lean for competitions, but the basics of clean healthy foods are the foundation needed to achieve any health and wellness goals, and maintaining consistency with your diet will be the factor that keeps you moving in the right direction.
When Anthony first came up with the idea to start the business several years ago, he saw that there was untapped market for prepping meals for the health conscious individual, peoples busy lives were making it difficult to eat healthy and there were very few services that made it easy for people to eat healthy without cooking for themselves daily or prepping their own meals for the whole week at one time. That idea quickly became a solid vision of the potential market he wanted to tap into.
He knew that people would appreciate what he had to offer he just had to find a way to get them to try it.
After approaching a few of his fellow gym buddies – Anthony had his first group of “beta testers”. They loved the meals- and a business was born. He laughed as he told me the story of the first “menu”. “It honestly looked like a flier for a Mexican Restaurant… I’m pretty sure it looked horrible- but it was important for me to get it down on paper”. Most entrepreneurs lack the ability to write down what their goals are. They also lack the discipline and the ability to put things on paper. This is Anthony’s strength. Whether it’s a business plan, aspirations, goals, or notes on what hasn’t worked- Anthony makes sure to keep track of it. He has been able to be agile and apply different types of models as his business has grown.
Scaling for any business owner can be difficult- but the greatest attribute Anthony brings to the table is his ability to ask for help and adapt and learn along the way. After integrating a simple e-commerce solution- he was able to offer a menu online to allow clients the ability to customize their meal plans. Shortly after he saw that there were more people out there that were not in the fitness industry and didn't have the knowledge to allow them to create precise meal plans so he introduced a combo menu that was a variety of pre selected items in proper portions for a human body. Now everyone could benefit from the service they were providing and they were no longer restricted to the fitness industry alone. He also recently added premade weekly plans that offered a variety of the items we offered on the menu for people that were not picky and just needed to eat healthy daily and didn’t want to select what meals they would be receiving. This then created an opportunity for people to reorder quickly and even subscribe to past orders, create recurring revenue for his business, he is now focused on the next stage- offering meal prep for corporations and small businesses to go with health challenges and offices that see the value in feeding their employees the right food that their bodies could use which leads to increased production and happier employees.
As this next phase in The Lean Machine launches- Anthony has added a few additional tools to his tool belt. As a founding Member of The Collective Access- a charitable/mastermind/networking group of similar and like minded individuals. The group’s goal is to network, participate, and create opportunities for each other and the community. Having a team of strong business owners and executives has been a great place to share and bounce ideas off one another. The group’s membership spans a wide range of experience in technology, retail, real estate, and attorneys. It has also supported Anthony’s passion.
The passion and ability to learn, grow, and adapt is the best part of what I noticed after meeting Anthony. It’s created a momentum that is spanning this next new focus of his business and is reinvigorating to watch. Where the business goes from here, one can only imagine and expect continued greatness. As a part of the Health and Fitness movement taking over the united states, knowing that Anthony and Dana are doing their part to help people achieve wellness makes me happy that I can be a witness to how far they are going to take their business and help change the way people see and live a healthy lifestyle in the years to come. Well Done.
Maresa Friedman founded The Executive Cat Herder after running Operations & Market Development for Halo Business Intelligence, a global Analytics firm. She specializes in creating high impact changes with simple execution strategies. Her simple, no frills, and direct approach to project engagement has created a fractional COO/CSO model that has been embraced within the technology community. Friedman is in the top 1% Social Selling Index in the technology industry. She was also a judge for the Business Intelligence Stratus Awards and is currently a contributor to the Innovation Enterprise a platform connecting leaders from startups to Fortune 500 companies. She writes for the Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Data Officer and CFO channels. She is on the Board for the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and is also a founding member of The Collective Access, an organization dedicated to empowering the underserved within the San Diego Community.
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