One of the truly inspiring women that I’ve “e-met” over the years is none other than Anna Sward. You may not know her by her full name (she doesn’t give herself enough credit if you ask me!), but you probably know her by her recipes – especially if you’re into weight training and/or bodybuilding. We’re talking about the legendary PROTEIN POW(d)ER Chef!
To be quite honest with you, I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon her Facebook Page and Blog, but I was flippin’ ecstatic when I did. Anna is one of the kindest, bubbly, smartest (hello PhD!) and most-successful bloggers I’ve ever seen! She’s got over 31,000 Facebook Fans, a crazy delicious Pintrest page (you have to see it!) and she’s a regular columnist now for Muscle & Fitness Magazine and Bodybuilding.com - two of the biggest names in the industry!
If you don’t know her, this genius-of-a-lady develops mouth-watering, high-protein recipes that are out of this world unique! Between her amazing food-photography (yup...food porn!), her cartoon drawings and her brilliant use of protein powders to create everything from cakes to pizzas to sandwiches, it was hard not to get all starry-eyed when I found her online. In my mind, I yelled “JACKPOT!”
Well, I’m super excited to let you know that Anna granted me an online interview to pick her brain about her countless successes! Between the launch of her recent cookbook and her continuing cooking classes in the UK, I’m surprised she even had the time to answer me! So I felt super special when she responded.
Here's my inspirational interview with Anna Sward of PROTEIN POW(D)ER.
What's the name of your company & blog, & what's your mission?
My blog is proteinpow.com and the company behind it is Protein Pow Ltd and Protein Pow Publishing (the arm from which my cookbook was born!)
My mission is simple: to take over the world of protein powder cooking, hehe. No, but really, my mission is to inspire people to be more creative with their cooking, to care more about their fitness and nutrition, to have fun in the kitchen and to think outside the shake when it comes to protein!
I want to show people that a healthy diet doesn't have to be boring and it doesn't have to be flavorless, not when it can be jam-packed with flavor, excitement, and fun!!!!
"...a healthy diet doesn't have to be boring and it doesn't have to be flavorless..."
I started proteinpow.com when I was still doing my PhD (I've since graduated!) The blog was a hobby really, a way for me to release some creative energy while writing up my thesis which was heavy in sociolinguistics and cultural theory. I felt like I needed something totally different to take my mind off Foucault so I turned to food. I thought my protein cooking would be really fun to blog about because everyone I know has always been intrigued by my 'unique' way of cooking and my experiments in the kitchen, so that's how it was born.
It wasn't until last year though that I turned Protein Pow into a business and started really building it into something bigger. I now work full-time doing what I love! So I feel incredibly fortunate, even though it's kind of odd to be working in food after doing both a Masters and PhD in the humanities.
"...when you LOVE something, when you have a PASSION for what you do, you work hard and you get better and better and better until KAPOW!"
What sort of risks have you had to take in order to make Protein Pow(d)er a success? And have the risks been worth it?
Oh man! So many. I've taken lots of risks and made an ocean of mistakes because, as you can imagine, my background is in academia - not business. So I had to learn a LOT (and am still learning!) about ways to grow it as a business and making it work in the long run.
There are a lot of risks that come with starting your own business: financial and even emotional! Because you're putting yourself out there, opening your hands and showing the world what you’ve got. And they can either take it or walk away, leaving you with a ‘sad face’ wondering why the hell you risked an actual career with something as intense as running your own business in something completely untried and untested like protein food is!
But I have to say: it's been totally worth it. I wake up every day and I think OH! I love my job! Because I get to do what I love on a daily basis: work out, cook, write, draw, experiment, and learn more about nutrition!
What are some obstacles you've faced while getting your business/website started? How did you overcome them?
By not giving up! I can't tell you the amount of eyebrows that I lifted when I told everyone I was going to open my own business and work at Protein Pow full time. "After a PhD you're going to work in food?" Most people didn't get it.
Can you give some advice to those who might be hesitant to take a risk in their own lives?
It probably sounds cliche but I'd say to people to chase their dreams and to do it without fear. I mean, fear is unavoidable - it's a quintessential side of risk taking, but a lot of people are scared to take a risk and later regret that they never took a single step in the direction their heart was always pounding towards.
I'm an ardent believer in the quote that says that. "When you choose a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life." OK, you DO have to work - you have to work HARD and sometimes you get battered by trial and error, by things that don't go like you wished, or risks that backfire and get you down. But, the rewards you reap at the end of each day are invaluable and you walk every day knowing that you’re giving it your all and you’re pushing as hard as you can and you're one step closer to where you envisioned yourself one day being.
Do you have a favourite motivational quote/book/blog/movie that inspires you?
Quotes-wise, one of my favorites is “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – R.W. Emerson. I ALSO love love love thingsweforget.com, can't recommend it enough. There are some beautiful quotes there and the illustrations are fabulous. I also like "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz. It's VERY cheesy and some parts make me cringe but the overall message is beautiful.
Another kind of tacky book that I really liked when I read it a few years back - it's very basic but at the same time I reckon this makes it really accessible to everyone - is the cheese book with the mice. Let me Google the name. Ah yes, “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. It's a really quick read.
"...I'd say to people to chase their dreams and to do it without fear. I mean, fear is unavoidable - it's a quintessential side of risk taking, but a lot of people are scared to take a risk and later regret that they never took a single step in the direction their heart was always pounding towards."
To be honest though, it's not really quotes/books/movies that inspire me the most, it's people. It's people who've given their all; who've loved with all their hearts and fought with all their spirit. People who've overcome challenges and even those who've faltered. People who dedicate their time - their lives - to make the lives of others a little bit (or a whole lot!) better.
How can people reach you?
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me at facebook.com/proteinpow