There Aren’t Really Failures: Here’s Proof

Jenna Kutcher 

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January 7, 2019


Autumn Calabrese has gone from living paycheck to paycheck as a personal trainer to being a mini fitness mogul building her empire.In today's episode of the Goal Digger Podcast she is going to teach us how she stuck out in a saturated market, A to Z on how to develop a challenge, different marketing hacks, and how to use challenges to their full potential to grow your business.

Autumn Calabrese has gone from living paycheck to paycheck as a personal trainer to being a mini fitness mogul building her empire. Autumn doesn’t believe in excuses – just hard work. That’s what’s gotten her to the top, plus a passion for helping people and a determination like no other.

Autumn takes a positive approach to training, motivating and inspiring you through even the toughest of workouts. When it comes to helping people achieve their goals, Autumn takes it very personally. Your struggles are her struggles and your wins, her wins. We saw this for the first time with Autumns breakthrough workout programs 21 Day Fix® and follow-up 21 Day Fix Extreme® and 80 day obsession.

I am captivated by how Autumn used her platform to niche down and create on-brand, recognizable challenges. As you may remember from episode 183 all about how to rock free challenges, I told you how challenges are a GREAT way to grow you following, create a movement, gain exposure, and ultimately, grow your business. Today, Autumn is going to teach us how she stuck out in a saturated market, A to Z on how to develop a challenge, different marketing hacks, and how to use challenges to their full potential to grow your business.

Meet Autumn

Autumn was an active kid and always wanted to be a dancer, but a mysterious (and never specifically diagnosed) injury and pain in her hip left her unable to walk for a week. After that, her parents were afraid to let her do anything that might make it happen again. She didn’t start dancing until she was a teenager and at that point the other dancers had several years on her. This taught her how to work for what she wanted because she always felt behind.

Autumn applied to all her dream schools as a dancer, and ultimately got into a small performing arts college. But the challenges with her hip returned. She danced through the pain, but a difficult ballet master made it even more difficult for her to pursue her dancing dreams, saying he would never cast her in a performance which would prevent her from ever graduating. Doctors told her that continuing to dance would land her in back surgery by the time she was 21-years old. Despite her determination to make it work, all the mounting obstacles ultimately led Autumn to make the very difficult decision to leave school.

After a brief stint in Los Angeles auditioning for acting gigs, she returned to St. Louis to pursue a degree in physical therapy, but didn’t end up finishing because she didn’t have a passion for it. So Autumn started to work two jobs and saved money until she could move back to California and hit the ground running, going to acting classes and waiting tables. She landed a few commercials, got her SAG card, and met her future husband… Who encouraged her to get a “real job” and build her career.

The Road to Beachbody

When she moved on from acting and was working in a casting office, Autumn decided to pursue her personal trainer certification and quickly realized that it was exactly where she wanted to be. She worked for a company doing in-home training and found that many of her clients wanted information on pre- and post-natal fitness. Autumn pursued her certification in that specialized area and began to build a name for herself in fitness for pregnancy.

Autumn’s husband accepted a job in Dallas, Texas and they decided to move their family (Autumn had given birth to their son at that point) to Texas. On moving day, Autumn sobbed. She knew it didn’t feel right. She lasted 5 weeks in Texas before deciding to move back to California, with or without her husband. He was eventually transferred back to California to be with her but they realized they would make better friends than a couple because they both had very different paths they wanted to pursue.

It wasn’t until after Autumn got divorced that she really dove into her idea of creating a product for her clients. It launched on the Hallmark program “Home and Family”. That, in addition to word of mouth from her high profile clients, it reached the hands of Beachbody. They called Autumn in for an interview. Two months after the meeting Beachbody offered to buy her product, keeping Autumn on as the face of the workouts.

Why She Doesn’t Believe in Failures

At one point in her personal training career, Autumn was up for the opportunity to replace Jillian Michaels on the Biggest Loser. She auditioned for months. Countless meetings and waiting led to one final phone call from someone close to the show saying, “I’m fighting for you, but when they make the announcement tomorrow and it’s not you, you’ll know why.” Anna Kournikova got the gig.

Autumn now thinks of those missed opportunities and failures as being redirected to her correct path. In her words: “So many times we get caught up in the obstacle or in what seems to be the failure. Instead of recognizing it as a redirect, we can get lost in the failure of it. And if you get lost, and you drown in the failure, you actually miss your opportunity to be redirected to something much better.”

A Success Mindset

Going into the development phase with Beachbody meant weeks of test groups and creating the perfect product for clients. Autumn went into it with what she says was a “naive” mindset that there couldn’t be anything but success with Beachbody as the platform for this product. She doesn’t believe in failures, and when she started her programs with Beachbody, she led with a success mindset. It gave her a sense of security and positive view of the partnership. The product went on to do amazing (possibly the biggest selling product to date).

While she thinks her mindset may have been naive at the time, sometimes you need that approach when diving into something new and challenging. “Sometimes you have to be just a little bit arrogant,” she says. If you don’t believe in YOU, who else will? If you don’t believe the only outcome is success you will quit amidst the “redirects” that are disguised as failures.

Behind 21 Day Fix

Autumn can’t take credit for the idea of a 21 day program (that was the Beachbody CEO) but Autumn was the girl behind the workouts, figuring out how to give results in such a short time frame that even beginners could handle. The 21 Day Fix is based on the principle that it takes three weeks to break a bad habit or start a new one. The program took Autumn’s idea for the portion control product that she had previously launched on her own to a whole new level.

What really made 21 Day Fix blow up big time was Autumn’s decision to host her own challenge. Other coaches on Beachbody had hosted challenges, but a trainer and creator had never led people through their own program before. About 20,000 people signed up for the first challenge, and of course, they all had to buy the program. After three successful challenges, it started to catch on with other trainers. Soon, Beachbody trainers hosting their own challenges became the norm.

More from This Episode

Why are challenges so successful in selling your product or service? How can you use challenges to build community among your client base? How can you help people find success with your product or service? Autumn is an expert in the field of challenges, having led so many herself, and offers up so many actionable tips for your business in this episode, including how to stand out with your challenges when everyone else seems to be selling the same thing. Autumn is a wealth of inspiration and excitement. I can’t wait for you to tune in and hear the whole story. Click the play button above!

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  1. Jordan says:

    This podcast was so so so good! I loved the way Autumn talked about her failures. It’s so hard to treat failures as a bump in the road, but there is no other way to run a business!

    As a brand and web designer, I’m always struggling with perfection, but learning to let go a little has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health and my business.


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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