Philadelphia Business Journal - CEO

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Treat people with dignity, grace and respect."

BillBill Olson | Smooth Fitness

Philadelphia Business Journal


Name: Bill Olson.
Title: President and CEO.
Company: Smooth Fitness, King of Prussia.
Type of company: Online home fitness retailer.
Number of employees: 45.
Revenue in last fiscal year: $30 million.
Recent project: Revamping of
Education: Temple University, BA in pre-law criminal justice (1981).
First job: Paperboy.
Little-known fact about you: I am dyslexic.
Home: Wayne.


Essential business philosophy: Act with total integrity and treat people with dignity, grace and respect.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Working out and maintaining a positive, healthy lifestyle is important, and it helps to keep me on top of my game. I think this is an important message for everyone.
Yardstick of success: For me it is more qualitative. It is all about the people I encounter and how they enrich my life and vice versa. Life is a journey that never ends, not a destination.
Goal yet to be achieved: To become a resonant leader who creates an environment where people can achieve extraordinary results.


Best decision: To join Procter & Gamble rather than go to law school.
Worst decision: Pursued costly, protracted litigation.
Toughest decision: Telling my 13-year-old son that the family was moving from Greenwich, Conn., to Philadelphia.
Mentor: Sir Anthony Tennant, chairman and CEO of Guinness plc.


Word that best describes you: Passionate.
Like best about your job: Actively participating in the lives of people and putting the company in the best position to continue to grow.
Like least about your job: Detailed administration that has to be done.
The most important lesson you’ve learned: We are the product of our challenges … how we handle those challenges determines the quality and fulfillment of our lives.
Life motto: Oliver Wendell Holmes quote — “Life is a romantic business. It is painting a picture, not doing a sum, but you have to make the romance, and it ultimately will come to the question, how much fire you have in your belly.”
Greatest fear: Dying young and not living a full, healthy life.
Person most interested in meeting: Paul Cézanne, a master of context and a bridge between impressionism and cubism.
Company you respect most: Procter & Gamble — for the quality of its people, thinking, training and discipline as well as its high integrity.
First choice for a new career: Head coach of an NFL or major college football program.
Greatest extravagance: Golf. I try to play as much as possible, at least every weekend.


Award/honor most proud of: Full athletic scholarship (football) to Temple University.
Most influential book: “The Old Man and the Sea,” by Ernest Hemingway.
Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption,” directed by Frank Darabont.
Favorite restaurant: Langans Brasserie, Mayfair London.
Favorite vacation spot: African safari.
Favorite room in the house: The study — to read and listen to music.
Favorite way to spend free time: Spending time with the kids.
Car you drive: BMW.

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