Derek is the founder & CEO of Greatist. A website that values making health and fitness easier to understand and was a big influence and still is of this blog.
He’s a Harvard University graduate where he built two 60+ member organizations that are still thriving today.
Derek digs theme parks, theme bars, basketball, and meeting new peeps and discussing life’s passions with them.
When he’s not blood, sweat, and tears over at Greatist, Derek can be found sipping black coffee with cinnamon, swinging kettlebells, running really fast, and lifting heavy shi* and putting it back down repeatedly.
Derek Flanzraich (Flanz-rike)
- CEO & Founder of Greatist
- Age: 24
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 200
- Throwing arm: Righty
- Bats: Righty, but I’m more of a “shoots the basketball” than “hit a baseball” kinda guy.
- Email: derek [at] greatist.com
- Twitter handle: @thederek @greatist
The Greatist interview with Derek
Me: Derek, thanks for taking time out of your day to chit-chat a bit.
Derek: No worries, I’m just hanging here in NYC.
Me: I just got back from a surf sesh and I literally still have my wetsuit on.
Derek: Haha. Nice. That’s where I wish I could be.
Me: Tell me a bit about how you got started with Greatist?
Derek: “Right, so I’ve been starting media-related organizations most of my (short) life. All of them are still around and bigger and better than I left them (On Harvard Time and HUTV Network). But my key, my personal passion throughout all of these was health & fitness. I was always working out, swinging kettlebells, struggling with diet, so that I could be more efficient, more creative, happier while doing everything else.
I was also a huge knowledge junkie but found myself extremely frustrated and disappointed with the sources and brands out there that were covering the topic. There was nothing on the web that I could trust and felt spoke to me in a way that resonated, you know?
So I became obsessed with filling that void. I wanted to build a high-quality company that over-delivered: was credible and backed by research (every fact is cited by a PubMed study, every article approved by multiple-experts), but still entertaining and accessible. Something that everyone could relate to and educate themselves with in order to live a healthier, fitter, and happier life.”
Me: Well you succeed my man. Totally badass stuff on Greatist. Any apprehensions with the start-up? Any butterflies or second thoughts?
Derek: “Of course. But I believed in our mission, believed in our incredible team, and believed someone needed to be doing what we’re trying to do. I don’t consider myself an expert, but like anybody is always learning. And luckily I was able to bring in some amazing experts for our expert network and some amazing advisors as well who really know their stuff.”
Me: I love that. Always willing to try something new, educate yourself, and help others at the same time. So tell me, how has Greatist impacted your life thus far?
Derek: “Greatist is my life in every way imaginable. It’s obviously much easier to be healthy and fit when you’re running a health and fitness startup, especially when you’re surrounded by people who are striving to do the same, but Greatist gets me out of bed excited each day. I’m constantly learning as well as having the opportunity to teach and work with others that are just as passionate about educating the world about health and fitness.”
Me: I definitely agree with your brother. When you surround yourself with like-minded people it’s contagious… but in a good way. It’s easier to stay excited, motivated, and your ability to soak up knowledge is enhanced.
Fear is a big theme on my site. Well overcoming it is. Any fears that you have had to overcome with regards to Greatist?
Derek: “Totally. Entrepreneurship is sort of like a seesaw battle: often times it can feel like who are you kidding with this, but at other times you’re like, man, this might actually work! It can be totally scary and totally exhilarating at the same time. I have also been lucky enough to be surrounded by a great team in all my ventures, which definitely helps.
Derek: “Wait, wait. Let me touch on that a bit more. One big fear of mine is letting down the people on board, whether it’s the Greatist team or its readers. That’s a really big motivating factor for me and I’d imagine it’s the same for many entrepreneurs, especially those driven by wanting to make profound social change.
You never want to let your team or the people who believe in you down. It makes you work hard and strive for excellence. Because that’s what they deserve. But I have this odd sense of confidence in Greatist. Maybe because it’s my passion or maybe because I’m slightly crazy. I know I have a great team here and am confident we’ll get there.”
Me: I hear ya man. That fear of letting others down can be extremely powerful. I’m glad you are using it as a motivating factor for yourself as opposed to letting it bury you.
Can you touch a bit more on how you overcome those fears?
Derek: “Sure thing. I think what has made it easy is surrounding myself with very supportive people who believe in what we are trying to accomplish. They give me a hard time, keep me grounded, give me shit from time to time, and remind me to take time away every so often so I can sleep better. All that is super, super important.”
Me: Just a few more questions my man and I’ll let you get back to work
Derek: No problem, fire away.
Me: Great. The theme on the blog is… well, is living without limits and simple fitness and smarter nutrition. We will be having a pretty awesome launch coming soon with some great minds sharing their thoughts on what a life live limitlessly entails. So I’d like to ask you. What does living without limits mean to you?
Derek: “I love it! Well, living without limits to me is making my own rules. Creating my own game, my own story, my own luck, and opportunity. Being limited is just an excuse. Of course, realities can limit you. Finances, family, and of course health. But you are never limited in your ability to be creative. Be creative and work around it.
Work hard and don’t accept that something “just is that way.” Limits are usually temporary and self-imposed. Keep working, live creatively, follow your passions and dreams, and be a good person. That’s the best way to live without limits. As for me, I always feel most limited by time. I seem to never have enough. But if I am productive and efficient and stay creative I can always figure it out.”
Me: Derek my man, that is all I have for you today. I want to thank you again and wish you continued success over at Greatist. My best wishes to you and your team of rebels.
Derek: Hey Justin, my pleasure. I love what you are doing over there. Keep up the hard work and play to your strengths. All the best bud.
1. Most important piece of fitness advice you can give to someone just starting out?
A: Go out and try enough activities until you find something you love to do.
2. Favorite “cheat food”
A: Ice cream.
3. Nutrition strategy (ie: Paleo, Zone, Calorie Counter, No strategy, etc…)
A: Have tried nearly everything, but have found I really value the flexibility of just eating smart, most of the time.
4. Favorite workout when in a pinch.
You can catch more of Derek and his wonderful team over at www.greatist.com. A ton of useful information and knowledge being passed around over there. Take advantage and educate yourself.
All the best,