Colorado’s appeal to people who like to climb, ski, snowboard, kayak and bike is undeniable. And the Rocky Mountain lifestyle makes it easier to recruit entrepreneurial talent, but what happens when the jocks are on the job? Does the head-down, all-in approach of entrepreneurs mean the gear stays in the closet? Or does work suffer because everyone’s chasing powder?
Neither, according to the World’s Fittest CEO.
That’s Dan King, head of ReadyTalk, a Denver audio and web talking company. He won the title in 2012 at CEO Challenges, a global competition that sets C suite-ers against each other in a variety of events. He also won a gold medal in a cross-country race at the 2011 World Master Athletics competition. Oh, and he’s a triathlete.
“You have to make (fitness) a priority if you’re going to be an entrepreneur and want to maintain that level of physical fitness,” King said.
Twice a week, the 54-year-old bikes from his home in Boulder to his office in Denver (72 miles round-trip) and he runs during his lunch hour. And King makes it easy for his employees to stay fit as well.
ReadyTalk reimburses its 180 employees up to $300 a year in entry fees for athletic and charity events, subsidizes gym memberships, sponsors teams in various races and provides free athletic gear.
A fit workforce is a productive workforce, King said.
“We want to build something sustainable, something that endures. In order to do that, we have to have people who are engaged and energized,” he said.
ReadyTalk was fifth last year on Outside magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work,” a ranking based on the elusive “work-life balance.” ReadyTalk had neighbors on the list. A total of 27 companies, including half of the top 10, are in Colorado.
Among the perks: An annual free night at a resort (Groundfloor Media, Denver); well-stocked playroom for kids (Zen Planner, Highlands Ranch); rafting at lunch (Blue Tent Marketing, Carbondale); Whole Foods-stocked kitchen (Gnip, Boulder); and unlimited vacation (TrackVia, Denver).
Colorado’s strong showing is no surprise to Jim Franklin, CEO of SendGrid, an email firm with offices in Denver and Boulder.
“If you go to a party in Colorado and ask someone, ‘What do you do?,’ you won’t get the answer of what their career is,” he said. “You’ll get what their identity is about, what it is they’re into, and whether it’s Native American rights or metalworking, an art form or endurance sports. You’ll find out what their passion is.”
And, yes, Franklin is a triathlete.