Saturday, July 4, 2009
A nice trip to Dusseldorf reminds me of something important
I just returned to New York after an eight day trip to Europe, primarily in London and Dusseldorf. Travel can be a bit of a grind as jet lag wreaks no small amount of havoc on me, with some trips worse than others. However, no matter the brutality placed upon my internal clock, having the chance to spend time with our people overseas and in their meetings is truly a perk of the job.
This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to give a town-hall meeting to a group of 25 German Weight Watchers leaders (they are referred to as "coaches" in that country). They were a wonderful group, and we were able to have a great discussion. After the town-hall, I had the opportunity to visit one of the coach's meetings in a town called Muelheim, about 40 minutes outside of Dusseldorf.
It was held in a small, charming center which the coach secured, decorated, and maintains with her husband. This particular coach, Bianca, runs about 16 meetings every week in this small center. Although I do not speak German, it is pretty easy to see that Bianca is a terrific leader, and is well liked by her members. She is full of energy and passion, and that comes across no matter the language barrier.
I had a chance to hear her tell her story, and it was a striking reminder of the power of making a permanent change in your life. About 7 years ago, Bianca carried about 140 kg (300 lbs) on her small frame. As she explained, she was sure that if she continued on her path, she would not live for long. She happened to visit a Weight Watchers meeting in the US of all places. From there her journey started and continued back in Germany. Over a course of several years, she lost 90 kg (about 200 pounds), and she has been at her current weight for about 3-4 years. She is now in great health, and she looks F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C (note the before picture she is holding).
She took the opportunity to become a Weight Watchers leader. Across her 16 meetings, she is helping close to 500 people each week try to make a similar change in their lives. This is the way it has always been at Weight Watchers, back to our founder Jean Nidetch's early days. It is a full reflection of the inherent power and momentum of our organization, and it perfectly represents why I love working here.