« The Tony Robbins Podcast

The SoulCycle Phenomenon (Part 1) | SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan reveals the secrets to their massive success

2017-03-24 | 🔗

In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, we are bringing you front and center to Business Mastery, where Tony recently led a panel discussion with the business leaders behind some of today’s fastest growing companies – companies that are simply on fire. Companies like SoulCycle.

Chances are, you’ve either been to SoulCycle or have at least heard someone raving about their experience. Because it has taken the fitness world by storm. And one of the key players behind this new fitness phenomenon is CEO Melanie Whelan.

Melanie has served as SoulCycle’s CEO since June of 2015. And in just this short time, she has helped take the company from 7 operating locations to 70 jam-packed studios across the nation serving over 4 million people a year. And they are still growing at an exponential rate.

So what makes SoulCycle such a powerhouse? How did they create so many raving fans? And how have they managed to consistently maintain their revolutionary customer experience while scaling at such a massive rate?

These are just some of the questions that are answered in this episode, as Tony and Melanie delve into SoulCycle’s innovative workout culture, their unique hiring process, and the customer experience that they’ve built so consciously that it has created raving fans in every location.


This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
If you're listening to this podcast, it means your hungry hungry, for change hungry for growth and ready to have a major breakthrough in your best as a partner or founder in more than a dozen businesses that do more than five billion dollars in revenue each year, Tony Robin is learned from the best in the world. The Steve wins Mark, Veni, Offs and Peter goobers. What it takes to be successful, whether you ve been in business for decades or just getting started it's important to get help from someone who spend their someone is going to coach you through it. That's why Toby's offering a free one on one business strategy session from one of his talk business strategists Six hundred dollar value completely Bree no strings attached. If you're listening right now go to Tony robins dot com, slash the eel and sign up for a free session with a totally robins trained business strategist, whose helped business owners just like you to overcome the obstacles and set them.
The path to success in a world where ninety six percent of businesses bail after ten years, you must know how to anticipate and how to take advantage. Take advantage of this offer today. Everyone welcomes the tenor of inspired cast. I'm any york the editorial led for Robins Research International in this special episode, bringing you front and centred business. Mastery. We're Tony recently led a panel discussion with the business leaders behind some object is fastest growing companies, companies that are simply on fire companies like soul cycle chances, are either been to a soul cycle class or have had a friend whose raved about it, because it's really taken the fitness world by storm.
And one of the key players find this new fitness phenomenon is C o Melanie well on Melanie has served as Socio since June two thousand fifteen, and in this very short time, she's help take the company from seven operating locations to seventy JAM pact studios across the nation and there still growing exponentially. So what makes so cycle such powerhouse during this interview, which had the audience absolutely riveted the whole time. Tonia Melanie talk about so cycles, unique work out culture, there hiring process and the customer experience that they ve built so consciously, but its created raving fans in every single location melody reveals just how they ve been able to manage the rate of the company's enormous growth while still retaining its culture. She also talks about the secrets behind what makes so cycle stand. Apart from and above the rest, let's hear the honor.
How do you think you could join us? Thank you so much for having me gotta watch, videos like were, or brothers and sisters on a path around here. That's why? I'm so thrilled to be here mainly you really the amazing what you guys are created tell us. I know you're at the founding zeal, but you're making a groan scaling. It tells me about the history for people of how this came about to start with the two Ladys started. What their intention was, if you were absolutely in this also gone ass awesome. So for those of you who have not been this also given details, I got you often big fan over your so great, so well, we really create in the room and hopefully what this video shows you. It's really antics periods when you walk into the studio. What we always wanted you to feel was that this was part of your family. You we're hospitality company first and we really get to know our writers why they ve men of his studio, what's going on in their lives, and we want to make those genuine connections
they're right from the moment. They hit the lobby door once you get into the actual studio, it's a candle lit space, and you have forty five minutes disconnected from technology gee, where you're moving to the rhythm of the music and just as it says in the video, you push yourself further than you even new possible, because you have fifty five people moving with you together. So when Julie, Melissa it sounded the company. The idea was that they each moved to New York, one from Colorado and one from LOS Angeles, and that where fitness was really part of their lifestyle, they would go either spinning or to yoke. Argo hiking, They couldn't find anything in New York where they could connect with friends and have a community experience. It was also fitness based, and so they created a marketplace basically to put the product into. You know there was no boutique fitness Wenzel psychology
in two thousand and six, and we always say that you have sole cycle needed to be created in this entire industry. We sort of born behind it, but the idea was that it was a space that with social and with joyful, and it gave people away to connect in a time when we are increasingly connected to see funds in devices and as much as we say, we're connected more now than ever were actually really disconnected and what's all cycle does it give you that space not just to connect to it. Other in the lobbies, but to connect to yourself and really set an intention on those handlebars. Every time you walk into the studio, create that does not give a habitats asked what it all everyone talks about, giving people experience, designing inexperience, believe you, companies really pull back off and you have how many locations. Now we open, our seven, these location on Friday in Seattle, its awesome! So we,
when you ve scale to that level, that's the secret right. Have you do it's? I remember talking originally with the gentlemen, took over random tv and eventually took over six lax and when exceeded six legs to turn around, as he came for all the employees together and said, we're going compete with Disneyland everybody's rolling their eyes, but told me the reason for doing that was first to train than they used to become parents themselves to the county. Fair raises, but the recently yes, he did this big meeting with everybody. Instead, we want to treat everybody like family possess. This is gonna, be what the cultures about later, that day is not very famous looking right, so he's walking round checking things out any watches this mother, who gives her son- and I, army, slams it on the ground of ice everywhere, the concrete Janitor runs a start screaming at this mother about hearse per child.
Witness this whole thing has hearts beat Natalie runs over separates the janitor from the woman poligized, the woman, vibrant I've always been countenanced, caused the janitor and says: what are you doing this that this conversation about treating people like fail, because that's what I'd do it, my family, fifty what I'd be down so we realise the other more specific to agriculture and what he had to do was Disney. Where there are rules, I'm sure you know cast members right. You want some gets within ten feet. You must make eye contact where they get a five. You must mile, where they get five to three b. You can say one of five things. Asked to go the janitor or to the to the bathroom. You walk into the bathroom, so we'll be realised. I need specific rules to make that happen to you guys. How do you guys create this culture at new locations with new staff and really create the same quality of experience that you're famous fell it great question and much harder to execute them?
This actually talk about, MR, so when I started with the company, we had seven studios all in New York and we knew that we had grand ambitions for the business and where we wanted to go, and so what we did is we took a step back and we really said what is the culture? What is it that we stand for and we got really clear on what it is and they serve overarching principle. We have ten core values, but that the overarching philosophies that we're a culture of yes and we believe that there is a yes in every corruption with a colleague with a rider with anyone that you come across in your day and then what we do is we empower our teams to make that yes happen. So, if you dont get into class or even that, the bike that you want to, I want to make sure you get into that class. Next week you get into the next class, you get top of the wheat list. You get that biker, you gotta peace or retail, we're going to make it happen for you in
a moment and when you get really clear on what your culture is and what you stand for, then you take one more step back and say know: how do I hire for that kind of attitude? You know we we believe internally, that you hire for attitude and aptitude not for experienced, because we will teach you everything that you need to know about how to leave a Soulcycle class or how to run a full cycle check in or how to market whole cycle, but what we really are looking for, someone that's got that twinkle in their either really wants to be the best part of someone's day. You naturally looks at the glass is half full rather than have em somebody's really solution oriented and that's really is what are the foundation of what we have created, and then we developed in a whole university on top of it. Well, so we have over a hundred proprietary training programmes and something that we call the wheel, which is our centralized training Repository is an online social platform that we used to be trainings all over the country.
Adding new modules all the time we if we see something that we're not really sure how to solve the problem, we always say making s being created training and when we started there was, no training, and we have just built this one module at a time, but I think what really important? How we ve been able to scale this? Is we say we create freedom within a framework, so we give you the framework- and we say here how you lead full cycle class, here's the format of the class, but then you're free to lead it. However, your inspired its playlist playlist. It's message: message. It's your time of day, it's your room, so the instructors bring a lot of creativity to what their creating in that studio and the opera I find the yes is the bane or meaningful. What what's meaningful in Seattle may be different, then what's meaningful and crawl gables and I think, by challenge empowering our teams and enabling them to have this creativity. That's how we ve been able to deliver something- that's not just consistent, but also really special and connected to our writers. Finding the right people is so critical or the business like this.
Private given expert by that breath. In that shoulder movement, see that's really true, it's always a task of sure. But how do you really testified? Member I talked with people. Tat was their lines. They are saying at one stage they were getting horrible reviews on their stewards and stewardesses and the reason was you know: you'd see these people need say it's time to buckle. You see now understand taken other people, they buckled aims, and so they came up with the technique, they told me, but which is they started a group interviews and everyone was preparing the onstage, but who they were. Judging was not the person speaking. They were judging the people in the audience, in her sitting here, like there's a rather Euro notes without paying attention. You are not paint the person's nodding shaking supporting their cup, Titian with one they hired and eliminate virtually all challenges from a pragmatic perspective. What filled do you used to know you ve got that person who's the right person in the right see the container culture as we do two things I would say when we run all behavioral interviews. So we ask a lot of questions having nothing to do with soul cycle so
tell me about the worst day that you had it work and the best day you how to work, and then we see how they answer that question to be led with positive daily but the negative, and then how do they close it out into the frame it? As an Tuesday or learning experience or something there completely dejected about. We have a whole series of questions that we ask the really just try to help us understand how someone things the other thing that we do is we run shadow ships. So we bring people in. You know people think that they want to work. It's all sides because they're writers and they love it, but it's a lot of work on this again and we want to make sure I always say to people at this is your special place. You may now to be on the other side of the desk you might want to keep. This is your special places, so we bring him in for a shift and we watch how they live with the team. Did they run into trouble or do they run away from the trouble if there's a lot its common? Actually, when you got sixty people coming in and sixty,
we're coming out and everyone wants shoes and water and retail. Do you run into that fired? You run away so I think the combination of the qualitative and then putting them into the circumstances so we're we're making it work so far. What sort of Europe with its spiritual that you do so you go from silver, deserve abuse its will on your watch, Google, Europe about. That's who company was sold to which company wasn't even not made out to be the purchase, the thousands very much a billion dollars. Each was pretty amazing. They run the company for five years before the sort of total global transaction. How that came about. So so, I'm actually Elizabeth back in two thousand and eight back at west. Seventy second street, I'm going where you want me to go trust me here and then two years after that, when I worked at equinox at the time and I have this rule in my life? If I hear about something three times from three different people, you have to go and try- and I heard about souls like once twice three
ten thousand times, and I finally went to try it and I met them at seventy second street and I just fell in love. I fell in love with the experience I fell in love with each of them. The day after I got back to my desk Equinox indeed mention. I was six months, praying When I first child, then messenger me a ones with a hand. Written note. Thank you for coming in. There was no ask there was no comeback. There was no here's an offer. It was just a thank you and it was so beautiful and it was so deeply authentic and unique, and I remember saying we got it. We gonna throw away to work with these guys. This is amazing. This is so cool and at the time I think they're, only four or five studios so fast forward to two thousand and ten, and we ended up entering a partnership with joint Elisabeth when I was it Equinox and we invested in the business noses strategic partnership, and we are now still completely entire. Independently run, but they are majority majority owners
Anyone knows best ran the company for it for a couple of years, before economic spot, the remaining share of the business and continues to be our partner in investor. As we continue to scale. That's wonderful, there's people go, have not been wet honestly, but I've read itself by politicians have to watch a video of works here. I can't help you with that. You could help. People go. Tell me that it's like a try. That's a word of her use. Most often told me: what is what is the goes? There wouldn't the metaphor group about, of course, who I see warriors ledger. They see rockstar asked Racial is really huge, tough, a little bit about what people experience at what I didn't do they get from being a part of cells like only when it is that part conscious effort, I would, but I do want to so many they want ass, so underneath. All of this we say we're in the business of personal transformation. The bikers meals
you're, really that the bank is the vessel to create the change, and so what people come to us for the fitness- and I say this on the video they come for the fitness, but they stay for the breakthrough. They have on the bike, what we create in forty five minutes with no technology. With someone in front of you pushing you harder, inspiring you and giving you messaging thing. You can do better tomorrow than you did yesterday. You can be stronger in your life or you can push through this hill and the change comes through the transition. All of those sort of poaching moments are then applied to your life when you walk out the door in that, that's kind of the idea is that we use the bike to create the change, to give you the power to view yourself in a different way. When you leave the studio, was that creates is that of an addictive connected experience. Did you go through that with fifty five other people, and then you come out into the lobby and for those of you who have been to our studios, I mean I would love to have a ten foot radius to actually make eye contact with someone. I've got about two feet.
Then my lobbies, you come out in your all their together and you ve gone through this collective, physical, emotional and musical experience. I mean they're watching this happened. This is it exactly what goes on in a micro scale in our studios, your hearing, something music and everyone's excited in your hearing, your stronger than you thought that you were, and then you come out together and you celebrate that moment where you're coming back the next day in the next day. After that, because where you get an experienced like that, your data they live, so that's really, I think, we're the tribe comes One notices, rhetorical, quite rhetorical questions of them, but I, like your beer, why dont more people copy what you doing you're the successful idlers, but if you dont know why most we're still running it? What what's the difference? Why don't people's support and what really separate you? I've heard several ways, but what, in your mind, what separate you from all the other
type of splitting classes. The personal go to here there have been a lot of copycats all over the world, its fascinating. What people are willing to knock off and call their own? I truly believe what separates us is our people and the way that we invest in our teams. So I think we hire the greatest people think we retain them because we invest in them. We train them, we give them the skills to be successful. Not just in the role that therein today, but with a high growth company, were always pushing people into jobs before they're ready. We are them to a new market. We promote them to run a market run more studios to come into our each Q office into a new job So inspiring when we're mission driven and also giving people so much opportunity for growth within the company- and I think I am
things. So much in our teams. Nor retention rate is in a well north of ninety percent, and so we are creating these authentic connections in the communities, and I dont think other companies necessarily have have done that ninety percent reduction. That's quarters, servers closely. What is a massive growth? Are your watch? What's broom wandered through the biggest challenges, very determined, I think tat if I could tell one story so the way the way our business works is we release Oliver Weekly reservations, Monday at noon and it's our or sign up period and our whole. We goes live and over percent of weekly reservations are better than the first fifteen minutes. So it's a very frenetic time that a lot of people pounding our servers and we decided rebuilding relaunch our website back in two thousand and thirteen. I think- and we definitely weren't ready and we definitely should not have switched over and we ll.
State and the whole thing crashed and what was about that moment was the entire company knew that this was a huge priority for us, much smaller. At the time we had, we had probably only a hundred some people in our EU office, but because everybody was clear that this was the highest priority everybody piled on to make it? Okay? So if you think about it, we ve got all these people are trying to put their bags and they can put their bikes in their frozen out. Our whole age Q office became a customers the centre so we're all calling writers we'll get you in your class and worry about you top of the way list for working to figure this out for you and it was really cool to see the whole company. Come together and figure out and find the s right, we're culture of yes, we all found the SB were long is the long long weeks, but I think what it takes in that moment was be clear in your intention with the company be transparent with your goal, because then, when things don't go right, everyone sort of piles.
Help because there aligned with the vision and where you're going. I have tons of stories of of challenges we face, which I think it's just the nature of a high growth business but that was one of the more challenging times, I would say- was booking ten thousand people manually. In our view, I can only wretch What are you most proud of that? You. I can tell you that we never dreamed the business was going to be this big girl when we started the partnership- and When I got involved the founders, I you, I think we thought we could maybe I'm twenty five studios by two thousand fifteen. We thought, maybe Good work in New York, LOS Angeles and- and maybe San Francisco to be sitting today with fourteen market, seventy studios, two thousand people and seeing over form million people a year and the change that were creating in their lives so overboard. Nothing and so exciting Greek us so much more to do read worsens
Furthermore, bring Europe next could just little informing young wife. All three of your presence in torture is yes, I have a question. I have a politician bike and in my town we don't have your locate. We don't happier facility, but we do have something called cycle bar and that's compared to what I saw your studio inside Europe to be more raw and like people aren't afraid to sweat and the cyclebar like I didn't even want to go in there like sweat. I was embarrassed if I was sweating. It's real clean as high end. Yours seems to be very different to try to keep that. World functional atmosphere in all your locations. So first ought wordy, live tat. We're in Texas, Levick, Texas, ok, we'll talk, I've got to find a place, I'll go but has also yeah. You know. I think that what we more people,
the turkish citizens out there. So we are in Dallas, used in an Austrian, now lie behind the wheel. We will get there awesome GM from San Antonio to you. So we'll talk, oh good. What we really try to create honestly is sort of this. Environment of hospitality. We really want to know what how you came in this whole cycle, what you're looking to accomplish? What going on in your life, and we want to know how your experiences when you come out the other side. The class. We really want to make that connection and whether that It is wrong or honest or authentic. It's just really real I think one of the other reasons we ve been successful as we treat our employees know we're customers first internally, we all use product. Writing is a huge part of our culture. We encourage everyone to send feedback when they're taking a new class trying a new instructor going into a new market. We were really
transparent dialogue on all of the teams of what's working, what's not working so that we can all get to the collective right answer, and I think what that does is breed the sort of great energy where we're so connected internally. We really want to connect with our writers as well and build those relationships, one one rider at a time, a lot of the weather, its politician or psycho barks, actually just try to cycle bar class over Thanksgiving. A lot of the competitors are technology and showing you. Your statistics are competing against each other and that that's great because for some people that actually is what motivates them to work out. We're the business of motivation in a very different way, and we believe the collective good is more important than your individual success and that the collective energy is going to drive you harder individually and so that that really, that feeling of collective energy and individual relationship is what I could see that in your very ask you one question about urges member Lollo from Austria,
my question to you is I gave you going into that emotional like going into that thing. But how do you mean pain, it that that emotional, like you know, some people like they go up and down right how do you maintain and that that sustainability on that being to that level of, like you know that they want they wanna go next the next day and all that, because some people they go up and down absolutely. But for me the key thing is that sustainability serve us. Like you have like your fees and all that score. Sometimes they go through that as well, that how can I maintain two too to be a member of that? So how do you do that sustainability?
So one of the ways that we have done this in the beginning when the company was founded, Joint Elizabeth had two thousand dollars left when they built out the first studio decided rather than taking out an ad in a paper magazine, they would produce a line of tee shirts with the wheel and the brand on it and they thought of people or just by the t shirts and where the t shirts, that would be the best marketing for the business and what that has become is in apparel business that a sort of a business in its own right to decide where, once you have this great experience and it's not unlike Disney, exclude, come through the gift. You're high on endorphins, you pull a piece of the brand and you take it with you and it's a sort of constant reminder: you're wearing your sweatshirt, or set pants out in your life of that feeling that you got in the room. There is no doubt that some days you'd come into souls. I just want to work out Looking at your butt kicked- and you want to go, it's not about emotional connection or spirituality is just about a great work out, and maybe your
feeling ass connected to yourself or to us that day. There are lots of other days where again just putting that the simplicity of putting your phone away and not having any distractions, but yourselves, and this challenge in this connection with your community, is so rare that that we ultimately is with sustaining people and their connectivity, but whether it's our retail or are front desk teams and how to gauge nor writers, there's lots of other ways that we try to sustain it in between those classes, because there are certain that various thank you for shared by the way and also my name's tony touchy from Atlanta Georgia,
fascinating. My question is what I also other Jim: it's booty cell jam. We have nine different programmes under one kind of house and we were roughly about four thousand members and what was the hardest? What is your pain points of France, so we don't franchise, we're all company owned and operated and women. We may that decision frankly, because we're in the experience business and we felt like that, was something that we needed to control and oversee, as we have scared as quickly as we have thank you for most motion, Minerva for Holidays Pole,
so from Australia. Every turn myself, my wife come to America and its probably twelve fifty tonnes a year, we always getting so circle. One thing I noticed, though, is the crowd is predominantly women and after what I go, how did you know that I'm a man? That's a question is dead. You like to go to the German. When I go in dsl cycle by the guys that realize you do the bicycle within you idiot whites little part of it also and it's funny when you pick up that five killer white by the time you actually exhausted you ringing weight, it feels like about a hundred kilos, but is that a market that is that just develop that? Why or is it.
A market that is, it is the marketing pushed to get more men or is it a predominantly female by default, all because a guy, it's pretty awesome. I just wonder why there is a whole day or is it a good thing or is it a when you will be the face of our new campaign because there is something approach, not a problem, an opportunity we have been trying to solve for the last couple of years, so we don't market to anyone. Anything rose is all about a second graphic and the type of person that is looking for connectivity, impersonal transformation. Eighty percent of the writers that come in come through word of master friends every time in the lobby, and I ask: how do you hear about souls cycle is always my friend drag me? My friend dragging my friend, you have my word exactly so. The other thing is: if you go to a different studios depending on time,
a day, so I live in downtown New York. If I go in order to use it for the six and seven a M classes, we call this a rooster classes, because our people that want to get out get it in their hard charging they're going to work. That's play fifty fifty male female, eight, thirty, nine thirty ten thirty in the morning of your for vacation- maybe that's when you're writing that maybe a little bit more female and the evening you know, especially in our urban markets, is usually a little more sixty forty female Moussa really ranges by time of day and market that were in, but there is thing about group exercises, always you too little more female, but what we find is once we hope the man there have lower dramatic, turning weapons pot cast is directed and hosted by Robins unmarried bucket? Any org is our editorial director, an occasional host the podcast is produced by carry song and other Culbertson Jimmy curve. Hop an angel dilatory are additional editors, special thanks to die, and I call for a creative review, copyright, Robins research, international
Transcript generated on 2020-04-04.