Women Who Win: Shelly Mady

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The D10's Women Who Win series, brought you in collaboration with ADAY, spotlights some of the incredible female athletes who take to The D10's playing field each year. 

Meet Shelly Mady, managing director at Ankura. 

What has competitive athletics meant to your life?
Growing up in Pennsylvania, sports were always a big part of my life. I ran cross country, and I played soccer since I was very young. In high school, my soccer team came into its own between my freshman and senior year, and advanced further than it ever had in our school’s history.

What I love most about sports is the team aspect. You’re all in it together with a common goal and purpose.

Since starting my professional consulting career, I haven’t been able to play at the same level due to heavy travel. I did participate in intramurals and on corporate teams. Fitness has never stopped being a big part of my routine. It’s how I clear my head, how I get geared up for the day. Fitness, I find, really does help in your professional career. It gives you a self-taught lesson in discipline and flexibility, and the courage to take on different challenges. 

In the last few years, my schedule has become more stable, and I started experimenting with different gyms. I discovered Ruben Belliard’s Warrior Fitness Bootcamp back in 2013, and followed him to The Training Lab when he opened in March of last year.

Competing in The D10 with The Training Lab team was more than just a fitness competition. It was a community, a form of support, and a push I got from outside myself. 

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The Training Lab team. From left: Natalie, Jolis, Ruben, Shelly, Jenny

You and your Training Lab teammates had a remarkable D10 debut this year. Tell me about the team. 
My team is my squad and I am extremely thankful to have them in my life. We pushed each other to be the best versions of ourselves, and that extended beyond the fitness goals we set. We were each other’s daily motivators and uplifters. What started as a common interest turned into something bigger - I can’t quite put into words the bond that we formed. I found a quote a while ago that I want to share, because this best describes my teammates: 

“Sometimes in life you meet the wrong people, but once in a while the right people come into your life and never leave. They are the people that celebrate you on your brightest days, but also comfort you on your darkest nights. They elevate you, they challenge you and they believe in you...You may not see each other as often as you’d like, but when you catch up, it lights the whole sky. These people are more than just your friends, they are your squad. Hold onto them, protect them and love them.”

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It isn’t the norm for D10 teams to have dedicated coaches, but Ruben really filled that role for The Training Lab team, didn’t he?
Our success would not have been possible without Ruben. He was more than a coach - he was the backbone of our team. Our challenges and successes became his challenges and successes, and he gave up a lot of his personal time to carry us through. He knew when to give us tough love and when to give positive reinforcement.

Ruben’s ability to push his clients beyond their self-imposed limitations is remarkable. When I think I can only go so far, he knows he can push me further. He can be very, very tough, but he never takes it too far, so you have to trust the process, trust him. His style of training mixed with his caring and concern is why he has followers who have been with him for ten-plus years. 

How did the team go about training for its first D10 competition?
Our team was incredible during the process. Sometimes my schedule required very late nights, and sometimes it required very early mornings for all of us. On several of those mornings, Jolis made her phenomenal pumpkin pancakes, which was the extra motivation that I needed. 

The biggest key to scheduling the training was flexibility. Whether it was injuries or sickness or big project deadlines at work, I faced several challenges that I had to pivot from. Adapt and overcome, as Ruben likes to say.  

He also constantly tells me, “Just BELIEVE,” and that was a huge takeaway from the competition. I had set an aggressive goal on my Marquee event, the 500 Meter Row. I only hit it once in my training, and having had strep throat two days before Game Day, I didn’t think it was possible. I was aware that I could adjust my goal prior to the event, but I thought, No. I want to live up to the expectations I have set. And I hit it! I rowed 1:41.

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It’s unbelievable where you can go with something that once seemed impossible, when your goal is for people beyond just yourself. 

The day of the competition, it was about not letting your team down, not letting your donors down and doing what I could to help towards the cause. I felt invested in far more than just myself, and all the training and effort really paid off. 

The sliding donations on your great 500 Meter Row increased your fundraising total to about $12,000, an exceptional total for a first-year competitor. What was your secret?
I'm blown away by the support I received. I have to give a huge shout out to my firm, Ankura. I’d known that I was surrounded by incredible colleagues, but it was amazing to see people across all levels at the firm buy into this cause. One of my mentors at the firm donated $1000 right off the bat. All it takes is one person to get you going. Another senior managing director heard what I was doing and asked me to speak on a conference call focused on work-life balance. He wanted to show that work-life balance can mean different things to different people. I’ll be honest, I was both excited and nervous to share my experience, but there can’t be awareness without communication. 

I had already taken part in The D10’s visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering, and meeting some of the kids and families who are directly benefiting from these efforts was truly eye opening. 

I also used emails and social media. I waited until later in the fundraising cycle to post on LinkedIn, because I wanted to be sure to frame the message just right. In the thank you email I sent to all my donors after the competition, I said, “Thank you for taking the journey with me,” because that’s really what it was. It’s far bigger than just making a dollar donation. People are buying into the journey and I am blown away by the support I had from my incredible friends, family, and colleagues. 

You’d be surprised at how much people are willing to help once you put it out there. 

Ready to #bringit #withpurpose? Register for The D10 NYC 2019