How Barry's Bootcamp Found Its Perfect Company Mantra

The CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp shares how a piece of artwork at a garage sale helped shape the company’s mission.

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This story appears in the March 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

My husband and I live in the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park in Los Angeles, and we love to spend our Sundays walking around — there’s always plenty going on. About three years ago, I found something at a garage sale that I just had to have. It was a simple painting, based on the work of artist Anthony Burrill, of a simple phrase: “Work hard & be nice to people.” 

Related: Need Inspiration? Here Are 9 Ways to Find It.

I pulled it from a pile of artwork and held it up to show my husband. “Don’t you feel like this explains the meaning of life in seven words?” I remember asking. We’re both entrepreneurs, and as we built our careers, it always mattered to us that we treated the people who worked around us and for us with respect. Whether we were at the bottom of the barrel or slowly rising to success, we wanted to feel proud of how we treated others. And so the painting came home with us. 

Related: Respect: The Cornerstone of Success

We hung it in our downstairs powder room, but it became much more than just decor for our home. This was back in 2015, when I had been helping build Barry’s Bootcamp for nearly 10 years and had recently become CEO. During a weekly social media brainstorm, I shared a photo of the painting and suggested that we use it as inspiration for a social post, slightly editing the text to read “Work(out) hard and be nice to people.” We posted it on Instagram, and it immediately took off and developed a life of its own. It really resonated with our customers and even started conversations outside the Barry’s community

We began installing the amended phrase in various Barry’s locations around the country — we have a lot of graphics throughout the studios, little moments of inspiration everywhere you turn — and people started taking photos in front of this particular phrase and posting their own interpretations and commentary online. 

Related: 4 Ways to Inspire Others in Business, and Beyond

Our customers and employees alike had such strong reactions because that one sentence contains two points that really apply to our brand. First, Barry’s is a place where there’s no nonsense. It’s not an easy workout, and you have to put in the effort if you’re serious about changing your body. And second, we really do strive to be nice to people here. So, yes, the workout is intimidating, but we deliver it to you in a supportive, loving atmosphere. That’s what we try to foster, and this garage sale purchase spawned a mantra that has turned into our informal mission statement, and a constant reminder of the community we’re building. 

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