How to do it all (?)

I'm coming to grips with the fact that you can't do it all. Yes, I've identified those things that are essential to me and bring me the most joy and reward and make the most time for them, but there are still so many other things I want to do! How does one do it all? This isn't something I have an answer for, but I think, for me, laying out everything either already on my plate, or that I want to add to my plate, will help me just feel more grounded. Here is my list:

  • Work/Career growth
  • Study for the GMAT
  • Apply to business school/get my MBA
  • Start a podcast
  • Go on more dates
  • Work on self exploration with a therapist (just started!)
  • Go to chiropractor regularly and do rehab/prehab exercises
  • Take a Project Management class
  • Learn to dance hip hop
  • Workout
  • Do triathlons
  • Do obstacle/adventure races
  • Travel
  • Practice for Improv group 1
  • Shows for Improv group 1
  • Practice for Improv group 2
  • Shows for Improv group 2
  • Networking
  • Go to more business/professional development events outside of work
  • Keep great friendships
  • Maintain my social life (where it doesn't overlap with other items on this list--like simply going out or concerts, etc.)
  • See more live music
  • Sleep MORE
  • Write more for myself
  • Writing articles for other websites
  • Finding and training new personal training clients
  • Practice mindfulness/meditation; possibly in a class setting
  • Go to gymnastics
  • Go to Crossfit
  • Play more basketball
  • Start playing hockey
  • Play in my rec sports leagues
  • Host some mastermind group dinners/friends dinners
  • Go play ultimate frisbee
  • Read more books

I'm sure there are more I can add.

How does one balance it all? Alongside maintaining full focus on getting ahead at work and keeping and growing meaningful relationships with friends and family?

Just throwing it out there--Let me know if you're a life organizer and can help me ; )


How to Use Improv to Network Like a Pro

I wrote an article for Improve It! Chicago recently! It's called How to Use Improv to Network Like a Pro. Go check it out here and read below! improv blog pic

There is a very small subset of people who get excited when they look at a meeting agenda and see the dreaded “Network and Cocktails” time slot. Before beginning improv, excited was the last word that came to mind when I thought about networking. My initial response was usually, “I hope I can find a group of people I know to go with” or “I hope something good is happening on Twitter so I can spend the next hour playing on my phone.” Neither of these options helps to make any new connections.

There is a better way to make it through a networking event, and a way that can actually lead to making some new friends or identifying business opportunities. What if networking events could actually be fun? Well, they can be if you embrace some of these general improv techniques that will help you get rid of the anxiety, make new friends, and most importantly, have FUN at your next event!

Enter the Networking Scene:

This is the hardest part, especially when you don’t know anyone at the event, or there is someone in particular you really want to meet. You need to make the first move. Start by engaging someone new with a statement or feeling that can take any direction. Improv is about joining a scene in a way that adds value; no one is going to cue you up for your entrance.

  • Point of View: By having a point of view, you add value to the conversation. Enter a conversation by making a statement that will allow you explore a subject. For example, I could enter a conversation and state
    • Me: “Wow, this guacamole is actually really good! It almost tastes fresh!
    • New friend: “I thought so too.”
    • Me: “I think the best guacamole I ever had was at a little taco place in San Diego called Oscars. Have you ever been to San Diego?”
    • New Friend: “I have! Actually I grew up in Orange County."
    • Me: “How cool! What was your favorite part about California?

Choose a Character to Play:

To be clear, you need to be yourself in order for the networking to be effective. But if you’re simply too uncomfortable to walk up to a group of people, or even a single individual, choose a character! Chose different (real) assets that you want to highlight about yourself to be your focus.

  • Body Language: When we take on a new character we also channel their unique and identifiable body language. For example, if I’m in a scene where I’m playing a sad old man, I’ll bow my head, shuffle my feet, and look at the ground. Note, this would NOT be a character I’d recommend embodying when trying to meet new people. Choose a character that is strong, friendly, and approachable! Think of yourself as a celebrity – someone that other people want to talk to and approach. Remember to smile, uncross your arms, and turn your body to face each new person. Remember, never turn your back to your audience!
  • Take on a Persona: Let’s say you’re an investment banker. Imagine instead, that you’re the “best investment banker in the Loop”. This might be true, but you need to bring that confidence and carry yourself like you ARE the “best investment banker in the Loop”. This confidence will create all types of new introductions!

Add Value with the Call Back:

Now that you’ve entered into a conversation, here is a great tip to take it even further. In improv, a “call back” is when a character refers to something funny that happened in a previous scene. In networking, a “call back” is anything that helps make a mutually beneficial connection for two people. It’s a great way to add value!

Let’s say you are speaking with someone whose specialty is digital marketing and they are in need of someone in graphic design to help with their website. Turns out, you were chatting with someone earlier at the event who is a graphic designer! This is a perfect opportunity for you to make an introduction. In the end, both will be grateful to you for making the “call back”, and perhaps they’ll return the favor!

Evoke Emotion:

If you aren’t able to add value with an immediate “call back,” another improv technique that will help fuel the conversation is to make statements that elicit an emotional reaction. Asking good questions can work in the same way if what you ask the other person allows them to respond passionately and with full emotion. For example, if the person you’re speaking with mentions they have kids, dig into that a bit! Chances are they will be delighted to talk about their kids!

Listen to Understand:

The most common question asked at networking events is “what do you do?” But how many times have you asked that question without actually listening to hear what the other person has said? Most of the time, you’re too busy planning on how you’re going to describe your answer when they ask you the same question.

In improv, there is a skill called listening to understand, rather than our innate habit of listening to respond. The next time someone tells you what he or she does, ask follow-up questions that show you are interested and give the other person an opportunity to share. For example:

  • Listen to Understand: “Wow, a microbiologist, how interesting! What part of your job is the most fun?”
  • Evoke Emotion: “Tell me about the moment you decided microbiology was a field you wanted to pursue.”
  • Listen to Understand & Evoke Emotion: “What is the most exciting project you are working on right now?”

Exit Stage Left

As you can see, networking can be made easier by embracing a few tried and true improv tactics. If you enter each conversation with purpose, add value by making connections, and truly listen to understand, you will be able to work a room like the best of ‘em! We guarantee that if you employ these techniques over time, you’ll gain confidence and see your network, and your business grow!



Chuck Feerick is a graduate of the Second City Improv Program. He performs around Chicago with his Improv group, Roger Bob, as well as in other shows. Professionally, Chuck is a healthcare consultant as well as a certified personal trainer. You can find out more about him at his website or contact him on Twitter!

"Yes, and..." My Journey Into Imrprov - And Why You Should Do It

Moving to Chicago in the middle of a bitter winter makes the process of making new friends very difficult. Everyone is bundled head-to-toe until about March, and it seems no one really does any outdoor activities, such as softball or flag football. So with finding a cycling group or joining a rec sports league out of the question, I decided to start taking Improv classes at Second City. Second City is where a lot of names you may know started their careers, such as Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, or Stephen Colbert. It is a cool feeling knowing that I was taking classes at the same place so many of these successful actors and comedians had. Second City offers a plethora of classes, but Improv (improvisational comedy) was the one I knew would give me the best chance to really connect with my classmates and make new friends. Plus, I didn’t really have any interest in taking a sketch writing class or a voice-over class, as cool as that would be someday.

So over the past 10 months, I’ve taken levels A-E at Second City. Each level added a new element to the craft, for example in Level A it’s all about learning to “yes, and…” and support your classmates. In Level C, we worked a lot on character development, and in Level E you really work on bringing it all together and learning your style. What hooked me were my first couple classes; for the first time in what felt like forever, I was able to be out of my own head, mindful, and fully present to the environment I was in. When you’re forced to remember a bunch of new names, throw multiple objects in a specified pattern, and remember everyone’s favorite hobby all at the same time, there leaves no room to think about the minutia that take up so much of our brain space.

2014-06-19 21.37.43

A few of us got together in Level C and opened for a late night show at one of Second City’s stages. Once I got the chance to perform and make an audience laugh, I was hooked.

2014-11-02 08.41.28

I had an amazing group that I went through the program with. While we lost a few and gained a few along the way, a core of us went all the way through Levels A – E and I’m now in a group that is going to start performing around the city!

2015-03-04 10.28.51 2015-03-04 10.28.17

2015-03-03 22.54.02

During Level D, I also auditioned for and got a part in a coached ensemble team. For 4 weeks, a group of 8 or 9 of us had a running performing on the Second City stage. We had a coach who gave us guidance and feedback and we were able to perform a mix of scenes based off a random idea we pulled from the audience.

2015-01-22 22.41.24 2015-01-22 22.40.25

The essence of Improv is simple, but so much of it can be applied to everyday life. The main rule of Improv is always say, “Yes, and…” You never disagree or shoot someone’s idea down, instead, you accept their idea and build upon it.

For example, if someone enters a scene as yells “Ow, I broke my leg!”, instead of responding with “no you didn’t”, I would say instead, “Yes, and your crutches match your shirt perfectly!” Every scene requires energy and commitment and you are always looking to heighten in some fashion—How could I make this scene more fun? And remember, “If you’re not having fun, you’re an asshole.”

Here are a list of the benefits and lessons I’ve taken from Improv:

  • To learn to listen; hearing what my are my scene-mates are saying in order to understand and respond appropriately
  • To say “yes”—“Yes, and I will do this __________"
    • Never “yes, but” or “no"
  • To live in the moment
  • Don’t talk about getting ready to jump out of a plane, instead, have already jumped and then start the scene
  • Play with people who have your back
  • Make big choices
    • Make them often
    • Make them early
  • Take risks:
    • If you’re scared, look in your partners eyes and know they will support you
      • "I got your back"
    • Work with others and allow them to be in the spotlight with you
  • There’s nothing more unattractive than a selfish “actor"
    • The compelling actor is one who is going after what they want. But there are roadblocks or other actors trying to prevent the actor from getting what they want
    • They act on their wants and goals
  • Rather than being devil’s advocate, say instead “Yes, that’s an interesting idea and I have another!"
    • Don’t crush the energy that is moving the group forward
    • “Yes, and”, but without being a “Yes-man"
  • Mistakes are gifts—own them, don’t correct them but keep going, keep the flow and acknowledge it without apology
  • Heighten, Explore, Transform
  • Approach the scene with an attitude of “today’s the day!"
    • Be confident! Like a pilot walking through an airport
  • Can enter a scene as if the scene is already occurring
  • Don’t have a planned end
  • "Yes, and”—accept and build upon
  • Listen to understand, not to respond

Improv summed to one statement: “Yes, and…”, love, and have fun!

These lessons have helped me so much, not only do I think differently about approaching problems at work and with others, but also in every way that I interact with people on a day-to-day basis. I’m more inquisitive and try to find how I can connect with them so that we quickly form a better relationship. Actually listening to what people have to say shows them that you’re actually paying attention and care about them and not just biding time to say what you are thinking. And being able to think quickly and be witty is great… especially when talking to girls...

Now that I’ve finished the program, I’m exploring some options of what to do next. As I mentioned, I’m in a group with a coach who will be performing around the city. I’ve taken a few other classes (like Yes, Yes Y’all: An Improv Rap Workshop) and just finished class on Auditioning For The Screen. I finally got some headshots done (needed them my business life as well, so win-win) and am planning to take an acting class and start auditioning for more shows and creating some of my own stuff.

I’m lucky in that my approach is to try it all and see what sticks and find out what I love doing.

If you’ve never done Improv but it’s something you’ve thought about trying, or just want to have fun and meet some new people, I can’t recommend it enough!

And with that: Yes, and you are all amazing!

Adventure Racing!

With my triathlon season coming to a close at the end of August (thanks to not having a car and living in the middle of Chicago), my focus switched to obstacle racing! As soon as I made the decision to move to Chicago, I immediately signed up for my 4th Men's Health Urbanathlon. I had done this race 3 times previously, here in Chicago, and it's by far one of my favorite races. Plus, it's in downtown Chicago, so I can get there. I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was doing this race and he told me he was doing a Spartan Race two weeks before the Urbanathlon. I desperately wanted to do this Spartan Race, but even though it was in "Chicago", it was over an hour away and I didn't have a way to get there. Luckily, my awesome friend wasn't doing the race with anyone, so we were able to carpool and get a hotel.

The race was a Spartan Super: 8+ miles of trail running and obstacles! Our wave got pushed back to 1:45 pm, which actually turned out perfect for me because I hate morning races. My body doesn't really wake up till 1 pm or so, and therefore I was able to really feel awake and ready to rock.

Within half a mile of starting the race, we were submerged in chest deep mud and water. There was no avoiding it. The keys to this race were being a strong runner, being agile and swift, being strong, and being alright with getting hurt. Also, being able to run in soaked and muddy shoes.

For every obstacle you weren't able to complete, the punishment was 30 burpees.  I ended up doing somewhere between 90-150 burpees, but mostly for avoidable reasons (messed up the spear throw by having the cord wrapped around my leg, falling off a 6-inch high balance beam, and slipping off the monkey bars, to name a few). I was really pleased with ability on a number of the obstacles though, mainly the rope climb. For this obstacle, you started in chest-deep water, then had to grab a rope above you, climb 20 feet into the air and ring a bell at the top, then climb down.  I'm very grateful now that I taught myself to climb a rope back at my old gym in Tampa.

I finished the race in just over 2 hours. I was really happy with this time, but was frustrated because I would have at least 20 minutes faster were it not for a huge jam up where at least 100 people were all trying to get up an impossible mudbank. It's all good, but I'll remember that for next time!

Rock the W!

A while later, I saw my friend making his way toward the finish line, but he was struggling by this point after a long day. I knew how hard the last obstacle were and that he wouldn't be able to (as I wasn't) get over the last couple without someone to help.  So I asked the staff if I could go back in, which they let me do! Together, we pulled him over the last hurdle (which was a slippery, sloped wall, covered in water and mud) and crossed the finish line together! It was such a great finish and amazing race!

2014-11-03 16.59.06

2014-11-03 16.59.04

I can't wait for my next race and am already planning a lot of obstacle racing for next year. With my strength being running, plus my willingness to suffer and my love of lifting, this type of race caters much more to me. Here are some tips that I will remember for my next race and hopefully will help you in you in your next race:

  1. Know your strengths! I knew that some of the strength obstacles would take me longer, but that I could make up ground with my running. Therefore, every time I got the chance, I would run hard.
  2. Learn how to run downhill. I've been lucky enough to do a fair amount of trail running and have had some good friends who've taught me to run downhill well.  You basically swing your arms out wide and take big steps and just barrel down the hill. It looks super dangerous, but its safe if you know how to do it right.
  3. Lift! You have to be strong to be competitive in these races. Lifting strengthens your both physically and mentally and those are key factors in this race.
  4. Help other racers and allow yourself to receive help. The only reason I made it up that mudbank I mentioned above was due to working with a few other guys and basically making a ladder out of ourselves to take turns climbing up. When we reached the top, we each instinctively turned around and started pulling other people up who were struggling. While I wanted to do well, the camaraderie is more rewarding than the podium in a race like this.
  5. However, if you do want the podium, like I would like to see in the future, chose the right wave. I'd like to go elite at obstacle racing next year and will be signing up for races to be in the first pack of elite racers who are the first on the course.

Fire Jump

Two weeks after the Spartan was the Men's Health Urbanathlon, which takes place right in downtown Chicago. I had absolutely no expectation going into this race since i had no idea where my fitness level would be. I always train hard, but had been doing less running mileage.

The race, as always, was fantastic. The obstacles weren't nearly as hard as the Spartan, but this race was 10.6 miles, colder, and had the added "fun" of Chicago winds. In fact, I don't know if I've ever felt like I was going "with" the wind since I've moved to this city... The obstacles in this race were more of crawling under obstacles, jumping over obstacles, and some more challenging tasks like 5 foot military hurdles, which aren't difficult if you approach them correctly.

The killer in this race, though, is the 1-mile worth of stairs you climb inside Soldier Field! (The Bears stadium). The portion consisted of running up, over, and down, the top tier of the stadium over and over. Talk about a quad burner.

The race ran North up Lake Shore, around Navy Pier, and back down Lake Shore past the Museum Campus, through Soldier Field, then around the Convention Center, before finishing in the parking lot of Soldier Field (If you've read Divergent, I know you're picturing this...)

The last obstacle of the race is what has killed me each previous year--the 9 foot wall. In past years, I've been so close to getting over, but having someone grab a leg and help me at the end. Feeling much stronger this year, I took a much more aggressive approach and flung myself up the wall! One of the race staff started to reach for my leg to help me out and I just remember screaming "NOOOOO! Don't touch me!" to make sure I got over all on my own : )

As for results, I finished 37th of 1,500, 8th in my age group of 227, and had the 13th fastest split overall on the Stairs! I was really happy with this!

I'm looking forward to writing again soon about a ton of other fun stuff that's been going on mixed with plenty of personal things I've been working on. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Trip to Virginia Beach and The Unbreakable Body

I just got back from a great trip to Virginia Beach where I got to spend an awesome long weekend with my whole family! It was great to get a little break from the big city and get some “real summer”. The weather cooperated most of the time we were there and the Atlantic Ocean gave us waves for at least one of the days… and then acted like a lake for the rest of the weekend… 2014-08-15 20.10.56 2014-08-16 15.53.13We went to some great restaurants and got some fantastic local seafood. My brother has a sweet little house in Norfolk and it was nice to have everyone in one place. It was really weird to be back honestly. If you recall, I used to live there and it wasn’t my favorite of the places I’ve lived. But the trip was great…  Saw a Norfolk Tides game, plus we did the traditional Feerick men trip to see a Super Hero movie! We saw Guardians of the Galaxy and, if you haven’t seen it, it was awesome! I highly recommend it. Also got some great workouts in with my dad in little brother's "garage gym".

2014-08-17 18.41.06-1 2014-08-16 11.10.23 2014-08-16 11.54.50

Today I wanted to bring you guys a post from someone else whom I highly recommend! Kate Galliet is a good friend of mine and I’ve know her for a while via Twitter and both being personal trainers. She lives here in the Chicago area and she and I have hung out a few times; including walking across the city to get great coffee in negative 10 degree weather as well as going to awesome EDM concerts.

If you weren’t already aware, I am a huge proponent of strength and mobility work to compliment endurance training and I make all my clients do it. In my last post I mentioned the shoulder pain I was having in my wetsuit during my last race. Kate read that and immediately called me and we got down to the root cause of the issue and how to fix it! I’ve been putting into place everything she said and hopefully I will be pain free this coming weekend at the Chicago Triathlon!

Kate has just launched a brand new product called The Unbreakable Body! It is an all-inclusive solution to fixing yourself, maintaining mobility, and preventing injury to be a stronger athlete. While the program is for everyone, it has a strong bent towards endurance athletes who (myself included!) largely neglect mobility and recovery work. And no guys, using a foam roller doesn’t cut it! I asked Kate if she would be willing to share more about how she diagnosed my shoulder and more about her program! If you have any questions let me know and I’ll do another post later this week to answer more questions about the program.

Enter Kate!

500 Hours - Are You Ready To Handle That?

For most triathletes, the focus in training is on volume; run more miles, swim more laps, ride further routes. Did you know the average Ironman training plan adds up to around 500 hours?

This places an immense amount of pressure on your body, from your joints to your muscles. And as that pressure increases, your body begins to compensate in strange and damaging ways.

And when your injury happens, it likely won't be a freak coincidence. It will be because up until the moment of your injury, your body's durability was being worn away one day at a time.

Then, finally, it reached breaking point.

The saddest part about this isn't the pain and emotional grief of suffering an injury while you're training your heart out.

It's that it could've been prevented in the first place.

Sexy Comes Second, Foundation Comes First.

Yes, you want to hit the pool straight away, or hop on the bike. But that's the sexy stuff. And it’s also the stuff that, if sub-optimal movement patterns exist, will be the demise of your body. Before beginning any workout, it's important to ensure your foundational movements  are correct. If you don't, you not only run the risk of encouraging weak movements, but setting yourself up for injury. Whenever I work with an athlete, they are not allowed to start their workout until after we've done muscle activation work. We do this at every single workout, so that when we reach race day, doing pre-race movement activators are second nature (and protect them from mid-race injuries, too).

99% Of The Time, Your Injury Was Preventable

People hate me for saying this. But it's the cold hard truth. If you get injured, 99% of the time it could have been avoided.

Yes, there was an unexpected bump in the road and your ankle rolled, and it caused a sprain... But would your ankle have rolled if you did ankle strengthening drills every day for 60 seconds?

And yes, your arm was pulled awkwardly by the current as you reached the 1/3 mile mark and impaired your pull...But if you'd been doing daily mobility work on your shoulder, would you not have had greater margin to absorb the awkward movement in the swim?

The reality is that nearly all injuries are simply the punctuation mark at the end of a long string of poor decisions. But it’s ok. You’re ok. We’re gonna be ok. We learn. We get better. We get stronger and more durable.

You Aren't Alone: Preventable Injury Happens At Every Level Of Performance

I’m gonna put Chuck on the hot-seat now. ;-) When I first met Chuck, it was over a coffee at La Colombe in Chicago. He hit me up over Twitter, I obliged, and the friendship began.Then, not long ago, I read Chuck’s blog about his race and saw that he was noticing something strange.

Every time he swam in his wetsuit, his shoulder would go numb and start to ache. This was to the point where if he didn't stop every few strokes to shake it out, it would get worse. But it was more than an uncomfortable feeling. It cut into his performance. Imagine doing a swim and every few strokes you gotta stop to address your arm — annoying and time-consuming!

Chuck’s an Elite Team Member of Wattie Ink, he couldn’t be getting held up by something stupid like a numb shoulder!

After a quick assessment of how he felt, and his current training regimen, I had a solid idea of what was causing his issue but was straight up with him - if this didn’t help him, or anything got worse, I wanted him to seek out a medical professional.

Chuck had tissue that wasn’t moving as it should, and it was compressing the nerves around his shoulder that led to his hand. Without a wet suit, this wasn't noticeable. But when he put on the skintight suit for the swim, the added compression of the suit seemed to magnify what was going on already in his shoulder. My hope was that with proper, consistent, mobility work that we’d unglue the area and get everything that supports the shoulder girdle moving well again and working in a harmonious way that allowed him to swim, and do so without that numb aching feeling in his shoulder.

So with a lacrosse ball, some basic mobility drills and specific area targeting, Chuck was able to begin unlocking the tissue that seemed to be compressing the nerve. And happiness ensued in Chuck’s and my worlds.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Prehabbing The Pain Points

With the compressed nerve now unlocked, Chuck's got a new mission. To ensure that he never has to stop mid race and shake out his fingers again. To do this, he's continuing to perform regular drills with a lacrosse ball. These drills don't just prevent the nerves from being clenched tightly beneath his skin, though. They put his tissue into a more optimal state for every movement he is going to ask his body to do.

In turn, this will help Chuck to move faster, take greater advantage of his strength training, and see better performance across the board.


Thanks again Kate! If you guys want to learn more about the Unbreakable Body, click here! Let me know if you have any other strength training or mobility questions for myself or Kate and we will be sure to get them answered!