Amanda Tress: making it in a male dominated industry, supporting other women and finding balance

For women entrepreneurs, there’s no better time to be in business. Not only are there more women in business than ever, they’re also driving more of the economy than ever before. In fact, as of 2017 The National Association of Women Business Owners states that “women-owned businesses account for 39% of all privately held firms.” And while there is more opportunity that in past decades, making it in a male-dominated industry can still be challenging. I recently interviewed Amanda Tress of Faster Way to Fat Loss – a dynamic and successful businesswoman dedicated to authenticity in the Photoshop-dependent fitness industry.

6 things women entrepreneurs can do to find success

In this episode, hear how Amanda tackles finding balance (she has two school-age kids AND a newborn, plus a wonderful husband) while aggressively growing her very successful business. We also discuss:

  • the specific reason she is committed to supporting women entrepreneurs
  • scaling a business and the importance of timing
  • rather than fearing change, embracing change as a pivot-point
  • the importance of investing in others (and who to invest in)
  • why self-care should be a priority
  • and Amanda’s key to success – it may change the way you see your entire business

“I’m so passionate about helping women feel a sense of progress and passion. When you’re pursuing ambitious wellness goals or even just simply trying to prioritize self-care, the key is progress and passion, it’s not perfection. We don’t have to be a size 4, we don’t have to be a fitness model, we don’t have to drop 100 pounds, we just simply need to consistently feel a sense of progress and passion toward our goal. That is what I love to help women with.”

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Transcript

Jennifer Maggiore (JM): Today, I got to speak with Amanda Tress. She is an amazing entrepreneur and I’m so excited to share my interview with her. She and I met through having the same business coach. I was just so impressed, she’s my soul sister. I just loved her immediately. She is a digital marketing expert and she’s also a fitness and nutrition consultant. She’s the founder of FASTer Way to Fat Loss, which as you will hear, I have been a participant in her programs since January 1st. This is not an ad or an endorsement, I’m not getting paid, I just think she’s amazing. But we talk a lot about self-care and why that’s so important and how that translates into success as female entrepreneurs. We also talk quite a lot about how she’s against Photoshop and why transparency is so important. She’s also the mom of three. She had a baby this year—as of the time of this recording—she’s got three kids but one of them is just a little tiny brand-new baby. We talk about balance and how balance can be a myth, but how she is really shifting her business so that she can scale it, keep it sustainable, and still be able to spend time at home with her kids. I think that’s so important. There’s a lot of insight and inspiration that you’ll get from hearing her talk about how she is unafraid to make those changes that are best for her business. I love her—I think you’ll love her too. I hope you enjoy this interview.

JM: Hi, Amanda. Thanks for joining us. How are you?

AT: I’m great. Thanks for having me.

JM: How’s that little baby of yours?

AT: Oh, my gosh. She’s just perfect, she slept through the night last night so I’m feeling rested and very happy.

JM: It’s amazing. She just seems like such an incredible baby. It’s one of those things where it’s so easy to be like, “Oh, she just has this great baby,” but I know how hard you have worked to stay healthy and getting her into your routine. You’ve done such an amazing job. She’s your third.

AT: She is, yes, third time’s the charm on this one.

JM: Nice.

AT: We’re loving her.

JM: Oh, good. You do a lot so tell us a little about what you do but also how you manage to balance everything.

AT: Yeah, absolutely. I am the creator of a fitness program called The FASTer Way to Fat Loss—which you are familiar with—and we might get into that just a little bit. I’m also the founder of the agency side which is a digital marketing agency where we primarily serve female entrepreneurs in the wellness industry. Then regards to balancing it all, frankly, I don’t necessarily balance it well—if we want to use that term—but I will say it takes a village. I have so much help—I have help at home, I have help on my team, and frankly, there’s so much going on behind the scenes that most people don’t see and often they’ll say, “How are you juggling all of these different things?” I have such a phenomenal support staff and I couldn’t do it without them. I also have a really, really supportive spouse, and he is working with me and for the agency, so that’s very helpful as well.

JM: That’s awesome. I’m so glad that you bring him up. It’s really good to give those people acknowledgment, especially the husbands, that put up at that all.

AT: Yeah.

JM: In support just there at all.

AT: He’ll appreciate that.

JM: It’s interesting. I’m excited to talk to you anytime I talk to you—and about anything we end up discussing—but you are really looking at some ways to scale your business and you’re making some changes. It is hard to balance. I think it’s a funny concept because I don’t know that balance really ever happens for me. It’s like on a weekly basis. Like this week, I will be completely crazy with work, and next week, my kids will be off, we’ll have spring break, and I’ll take time with them. That’s how balance ends up happening for us. But I do think it’s important to really always be evaluating your business if it’s serving you or if you are serving it. And you’re making some really big changes. Tell us a little bit about how you realized you needed to make a change. I know Lily was a specific part of that. I think it’s one thing to say you need to make a change. It’s really hard to know where to start and have the courage to do it sometimes, so walk us through some of what’s been going on.

AT: Yeah. Absolutely. I have maintained the same products flow and business model on my fitness business side specifically for the past few years, really the past several years. It’s a scalable model where I run a feature program then I drive people into a membership program. I have a great staff, things have been going well, but I wanted to take things to the next level. In order to do so, I needed to adjust my model and make it even more scalable but also sustainable. I think sustainability is really the biggest goal moving forward because, at this point, I have no interest in selling the business, I want to be a big important player in the business for the next 5–10 years. What I’m doing is actually adjusting my model and also adjusting the focus of my agency side, staff team, to where we are now going to go all in with the fitness business because it’s working very, very well in the marketplace right now. We’re seeing a lot of momentum, a lot of traction. I’m big on timing in the marketplace. I say less than you have to capitalize on where the momentum is and what is getting a lot of traction. We’re actually as of April 1st—to which when we’re recording this, it’s the end of March—we’re making a big shift where my agency staff team is now going to be all hands on deck with the fitness side of the business. We are going to be really developing our coaches who actually go through my fitness certification program to run my FASTer Way to Fat Loss featured program. We’re going to be really supporting them and bringing in a bit of a network marketing component to that coach community. I know this might sound just a little bit complicated but that is what’s going to make the fitness model more sustainable, long-term is that network marketing component with the tiered commission structure. I’m really excited about it, I’m 100% confident in the model. I know we’re making the best decision and the right decision for the coach community, for my team, for my family. It’s hard, it’s always a challenge when you tell people who are working with you that there’s going to be a change. I’ve been marketing it as a new opportunity versus a change in the business model. It’s been going really, really, really well. But of course there’s always pain when you change things and it’s definitely this week or kind of in that murky middle where everything’s a little overwhelming and stressed. But I still feel very optimistic, very positive that we’re making the right decision.

JM: That’s awesome. It’s funny that you say that because my other business is a social media company and we have gone through something almost the same time and similar changes where our model for a long time was full-service social media management, and then some training, and we’re actually going to flip-flop that where we offer social media training and take on a very select, much fewer clients for the full service, social media management. It’s interesting, I do think that we’re seeing a lot of changes when it comes to marketing and offering those services. There’s such an abundance in the marketplace and I think you are right on about the timing that it is time to start looking at doing some different things. I think, interestingly for people who are listening, I think that more people want to learn to do for themselves and that is really kind of what you’re doing as well. We’re teaching people, we’re empowering them to manage their social media well and provide them with ongoing support. You are empowering women really to have their own businesses and to take control and learn how to do it for themselves. Kudos to you for recognizing that timing. I want to shift gears just a little bit. I know that serving women is really important to you and I was reading your bio. I’ve known you for a while, we had the same business coach. I’ve gotten to tell you on a personal level but of course, I had to kind of poke around your website, read your bio, and be a good interviewer. I know that you specifically talk about wanting to serve women, why is that?

AT: Yeah, that’s a great question. Frankly, that was a shift that I made several years ago after serving as the general manager for a business incubator for a little while, and also ramping up my agency, and working with a lot of male clients with tech startups. After working with male entrepreneurs for a couple of years I got a little burned out. One of the reasons is because the male entrepreneurs didn’t necessarily understand the fact that they couldn’t call me at 9:30 PM on a Friday night and expect me to drop everything to work on their marketing campaign or maybe they were upset or frustrated that I was taking off on a Saturday afternoon to play with my kids. From that perspective of male entrepreneurs just not quite understanding the responsibilities that I had to parent my children, that was definitely discouraging for me. But also too, I felt a bit disrespected in the marketplace being a female digital marketing consultant versus one of the dudes. I was helping a lot of people make a lot of money and watching those same people purchase their mansions or their sports cars. For me it’s just wasn’t fulfilling. Then on the flip side, I would work with female entrepreneurs, and these women were just so passionate about helping others. I’d help them earn significant income and they were using that income to put food on their table, to pay for piano lessons for their kids, to go to their church, or to support their community. Something clicked with me when I read a quote that said women will give 90% of their income back to their family, their church, and community. Conversely, men only give back about 30%. Several years ago, I’m like, “Gosh, I want to equip and empower women to earn significant income so they can then recirculate their wealth.” I now believe that is the most important way to solve problems in the world for a variety of reasons. But now I primarily work with women and it’s so fulfilling, frankly, it’s just more fun.

JM: I absolutely love that. I know that you know Barbara Huson, formerly Barbara Stanny, she’s just amazingly talented and knowledgeable. But one of the reasons that she enjoys working with women is really seeing the self-realization and their ability to take care of things that are important to them whether it’s philanthropic or if it’s taking care of your family. I know you and I know so many women who are successful and dynamic. Not only are they taking care of their families but they’re taking care of nieces and nephews, their places of worship, and making sure that people in their community are getting the things that they need. So I think that’s incredible. I absolutely love your philosophy. It’s so funny too, going back for just a minute to feeling disrespected. I think it happens in a lot of industries as women feeling disrespected in their industries. But for some reason, it does seem—in my experience in marketing—to happen. It’s interesting because, on one hand, I think about why that still happens. Not to generalize—because I am married to a wonderful man, I know that you are, there are lots of incredible guys out there—but in those times where we do feel disrespected I feel like it’s either because men are willing to work those hours and they expect other people on their teams or the people supporting them to do that as well. Often times we are the primary caretakers for kids and all of the many things, the pets, the kids, remembering birthdays, going just all the dates, and all the things that your household needs to run in. Sometimes, I think there’s a mismatch in terms of the expectations. Other times, I think there’s still kind of that throwback too, for some men, fewer and fewer luckily, but that mentally of the secretary that we should be available all the time, whatever. I don’t know which of those you’ve dealt with more but I can understand wanting to get out of that position and taking on your own roles and entrepreneur working with women.

AT: Yeah. Absolutely, 100%.

JM: Let’s talk a little bit in terms of everything you do revolve around health and making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves. But it’s really along the lines for me, it was an issue of self-care and not making the time. I have struggled with weight my entire life, my whole life like genetically it just [we’re Italian 00:13:17]. It was nature in nurture for me, it was the way that we ate as kids, it was something that we didn’t focus on growing up. It’s interesting now having two boys of my own really starting to put those better habits into place. But also as an entrepreneur, trying to find the time, it takes time to make sure that you’re exercising, prepping your meals, and doing all those things that you’re supposed to do. But one of the things that I love—I’ve done lots of different programs, I’ve tried lots of things—but one thing that I love about your program is very early on, you said something that clicked for me, it was that you want to progress and not perfection. I thought that was amazing because I’ve always felt it’s easy when you don’t have perfection to feel like, “Oops, I blew it, forget it. I’m going to get Sprinkles on the way home.” That’s my version of having a drink on the way home after a long day. I’m like, “I’m going to stop and eat something.” But talk to me a little bit about what you see in your groups in terms of that problem that women have with self-care. So much of that translates into how we feel about ourselves and for the women entrepreneurs who are listening. When we’re not taking care of ourselves it’s really hard to project that image as a successful entrepreneur who can provide those solutions for their clients and their audience. There is that link to how we feel about ourselves and what we’re putting out to the world. What are some of those frustrations and challenges that you see in the many groups that you run and why people are not taking care of themselves?

AT: Oh, yeah. That’s such a good question. It’s a question that I deal with on a regular basis or pinpoint that I deal with almost daily. As women, as business owners, as community members, as moms, it is difficult to prioritize self-care, to prioritize our own proven enough wellness. We are worrying about everybody else, and frankly, if I can just share one message on this podcast is that there is no downside to becoming healthy as a woman, because if I can empower my clients—or you can become a woman who prioritizes self-care, prioritizes proven enough health care, gets fit, gets healthy—you will then be a catalyst for your family, you’re going to have more energy to fulfill your other goals. I’m so passionate about helping women feel a sense of progress and passion. When you’re pursuing ambitious wellness goals or even just simply trying to prioritize self-care, the key is progress and passion, it’s not perfection. We don’t have to be a size 4, we don’t have to be a fitness model, we don’t have to drop 100 pounds, we just simply need to consistently feel a sense of progress and passion toward our goal. That is what I love to help women with. Also, I love to help women say, “Hey, instead of counting our defeats and our losses”—which is definitely something that we are often doing, I like to help women focus on daily wins, focus on victories, because women who are optimistic. Women who think through non-scale victory, they’re far more successful long-term and have a better quality of life overall.

JM: I love that. It’s such a great message. I am on my second round of FASTer Way To Fat Loss, it has been kind of my personality to have to warm up to things a little at a time because if I just jump in and change everything at once, it never sticks. But your program has been easy. The first round, I really focused on the nutrition, this round, I’m really focusing much more on the exercise. It’s incredible because—this is not an ad, I’m not getting paid for this, it’s not an endorsement—it has worked for me. But I think Amanda, you’re brilliant. It’s been interesting because I do feel that change in myself. I’ve always been a fairly confident, intelligent person. I work really hard, I’m a successful entrepreneur, I like to help other people, but I feel like this has taken life to just a new level like another place for me. It’s not eating sometimes, we have some processed food, we have soccer games, and run around like crazy people like everybody else, but so much less processed food and junk food. We’re paying attention to what we’re putting into our bodies. We’re tracking that and very aware of it. It’s so funny because I’m sleeping better and I feel less stressed out. I mean, there’s always trust but I feel more resilient to what I guess and it’s like your skin clears up, you feel more peaceful, and you care about what you’re putting into your body. It’s just amazing how it really changes things. You’re absolutely right. When you have struggled with something, you’ve had a challenge, and you start to find your way out of that challenge, you start to feel more confident about yourself and what you’re capable of. You feel like you can encourage other people to see that they can see their way out of their challenges. It’s been good emotionally, spiritually, physically, it’s been just an amazing transformation. The bigger picture of what we’re talking about is not just like plugging how amazing Amanda is—because she is—but anything that you’re struggling with, whether it’s physical, something you do with your self-image, your finances, your business is getting out from under you, or family problems, really looking at prioritizing like Amanda has done, something had to change in her business, she is moving full scale into making those changes, she will come out the other side of that, and she will have regained more of that balance in what she’s looking for. She will be more successful, more optimistic, productive, and a better leader because of it. I appreciate this conversation, Amanda. It’s amazing. One other thing I want to touch on before I let you go, you made a funny comment to me about how you don’t believe in Photoshop. It made me so happy because I think we live in this world where you go on Instagram or Facebook and it’s deceiving. You see even the makeup artists, they post these incredible pictures and people don’t realize it’s very hard to recreate that in real life. Of course, people don’t walk around looking like that because it’s Photoshopped so much of the images and the videos that we’re taking in anymore have been manipulated to look and feel a certain way. It’s very easy to do that before you put that media out there versus what is happening in real life. Talk to me a little bit about that you are no Photoshop.

AT: Yeah. Oh, my gosh, girl. Frankly, I think part of it is just I can’t even be bothered with using an app. I recently saw an ad on Instagram for some crazy app that will help you lose 20 pounds. You can add abs, and you can add all kinds of different things. It first made me sad but then just disgusted me that who’s going to spend time taking a thousand pictures of themselves for their gym selfie, and then pop it into this app and give themselves abs and the whole thing. Frankly, I believe in transparency, in running my business with integrity, in being genuine and authentic. Because of the fact that I’d never once in my entire career in the fitness industry posted a picture with Photoshop or taken a thousand pictures to get that perfect selfie, I think that’s part of the reason that my business is still successful. We funnel thousands of women through the program. I think part of it is the relatability. I’m not over here with the professional film crew, the glam squad, and whatever, all steps so many other fitness professionals are using. I think women are like, “Okay, this is attainable, this is relatable, this is professionally generated but not picture perfect or Photoshopped,” There’s definitely a balance there. I’m just very committed to that and I could be on my soapbox about Photoshop all day every day that the fitness industry is just the whole another animal when it comes to who is Photoshopping what and all those types of things.

JM: And how you present your look, yeah. I think it’s such a great point though. I love that you bring it up because I will tell you, there’s Facetune, and there’s Photoshop, and there are all kinds of apps. I will be the first person—I’m not going to lie—I will go on there, if I’m having a skin issue that day, I’m going to clean that up. Nobody should feel bad about making those kinds of little adjustments if that makes you feel good. If getting your hair done—obviously if you’re going to invest in headshots, go do these things, do the things that make you feel good. But I feel like you have to draw that line where you are not using a program like you said it’s making you look like you are a different weight than you are or you’re Photoshopping in muscles, crazy things, it’s not real and it’s not relatable. People know it. Heaven forbid they see you in real life and you don’t look like that. I agree. A lot of it is about doing what makes you feel good. But staying genuine, staying who you are. There’s a lot of pressure on professionals to be polished and to present themselves as perfection in a Photoshop world but it’s not relatable. You have a responsibility as a leader to give the people who follow you fairer expectations, real expectations. We can’t elevate ourselves to being this unattainable perfect status that nobody can attain, it just makes people crazy. That’s one of the many things that I love about you. You’re gorgeous, you’re real, you’re healthy, you spend time on social media engaging talking with your audience. But you’ve got your baby and you’ve got your kids, your husband, and your dog, it’s very real. It’s like this is us running sprints on our backyard today, this is what we’re actually doing in real life and I absolutely love it. Before I let you go, let everybody know how can they find you and tell us a little bit about any programs that you think listeners should know about.

AT: Absolutely, thank you for asking. People can find and follow me on Instagram @amandatress. I’m on Facebook as well as Amanda Tress. My main website is fasterwaytofatloss.com and that’s really the best place to find information about what it is that I’m up to and my future program but you’ll also see quite a bit of that info on Instagram. Like you said, I’m on Instagram Stories quite a bit sharing kind of a day and a life. It’s quite a circus around my house so you’ll have a lot of fun too.

JM: That’s awesome. Yes, definitely. I think Amanda has one of the best Instagrams – I love following along, so definitely go check that out.