When it comes to turning your passion into a career, Anne Mahlum has done it not once, but twice. At 26, she started Back on My Feet, a non-profit organization that uses running—a lifelong love of hers—to help homeless men and women improve their personal health—and get inspired to seek out job opportunities. The charity now operates in 11 cities and serves more than 4,000 people. Of those, over 1,512 members now have jobs, 1,066 of them have housing and more than 386,145 miles have been run. In 2013, once the non-profit felt well-oiled, Mahlum left to start Solidcore, a fitness center and personal training service that hosts Washington, D.C., Virginia and Minneapolis. She talks about her entrepreneurship secrets—as well as the importance of giving back.

Why I Run “Running doesn’t discriminate—it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, rich, or poor. Moving your body and connecting to people through a sport is powerful no matter who you are.”

On Choosing Where to Donate Your Time “Don’t ‘volunteer’ for something that you aren’t excited about. Find something you want to spend your time doing and you’ll get just as much out of it as you’re giving.”

The Biggest Risk I’ve Taken “Leaving BoMF. I stepped down as CEO August 2013 to start Solidcore, and that was a huge emotional decision for me. I thought I found what I was supposed to do with my life, but that changed, and I realized I wanted more. I’ll forever be involved with and stay connected to BoMF, but you can’t hold on to everything forever.”

The Leadership Lesson No One Ever Tells You “As a founder, no one will ever care more about your business than you do. Don’t make people feel badly about that—you’ll burn people out that way. You also need to learn what you’re really bad at. You think you can do everything the best because it’s your company, but at times I’ve had to admit to myself, I am really bad at this and I need someone else to come in and do it—someone I can learn from.”

On Sticking to Your Gut “I believe there are three brains—head, heart and gut—and I try to listen to all three of mine. I’m extremely proactive and ambitious, so if I’m being hesitant on something, I know it’s not the right thing.”

My Perfect Vacation “My favorite places to travel are places where I can be super active—surfing, snowboarding, zip lining, horseback riding, etc. I am not the girl who is going to sit on a beach for 5 days.”

Good Entrepreneurs Never “Forget that what it is they are building is not about them. They stay focused on the mission, the product, the team.”

Something I Still Want to Accomplish “Run a marathon on Antarctica. I have run a marathon on all the other continents and this will be the last one.”

 



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