Motivation Articles

The First State of the Spark Address

An Introduction from SparkPeople's Founder & CEO

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Hello Everyone!

I’m Chris (SparkGuy), the Founder & CEO of SparkPeople. Thanks for being a member of the site! This is the first in a new series of articles in which I’ll be updating the SparkPeople Community on topics that I think our community might like to know about.

The name “State of the Spark Address” obviously borrows from the US President’s “State of the Union” address. Not that I’m important, but I just thought it was a fun name!

This first address will talk about how and why SparkPeople is a free site. We get many questions about this. The answers help show that SparkPeople is a different kind of company with a different kind of mission. We truly want to help individuals and the world.

On with the address…
How Can SparkPeople Be Free?

Personal History
Back in the 80's and 90's, I developed a personal improvement program while conquering shyness and anxiety as a child and young adult. This program combined elements that help improve your body (fitness, nutrition, etc.) with elements that improve your mind (goal-setting, stress management, leadership, etc.). For example, I set a goal to do 10 minutes of fitness almost every day and turned this into a healthy and fun habit. It became as ingrained as brushing my teeth and helped change my life.

While working at Procter & Gamble after college, I accidentally motivated a woman to lose 50 pounds using this same program. She told me this changed her life. I said to myself, "Hmm…this could somehow become a business that helps many people someday."

First Company
The results of using this program for me were incredible. I had more energy and enthusiasm for life than ever. This gave me the passion and energy to leave my job at Procter & Gamble to eventually start an online auction site named Up4Sale with a friend in 1996. By focusing on PEOPLE, Up4Sale grew into the second largest person-to-person auction site behind eBay—well behind eBay, but second place was good in that category! Our company became eBay's first acquisition just before their IPO, and then I worked at eBay for three years.

SparkPeople Mission
After meeting my wife at eBay (we have the same birthday and met on that day at an eBay offsite), I realized that my improvement program had directly led to my personal and professional success, and that it was replicable to all types of goals (like the woman who had lost 50 pounds). So, I dedicated the rest of my life to Sparking millions of other People to reach their goals, by starting a company named (you guessed it) SparkPeople.
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About The Author

Chris Downie Chris Downie
As the founder and CEO of SparkPeople, Chris is passionate about helping people reach their goals! See all articles by Chris.

Member Comments

  • Chris, you are as inspiring as the whole site is. Thank you for providing this for free so that people who are struggling with finances can still make a positive change in their lives.
    I know that the only way I can keep on track is to keep recording, reading inspirational stories and sharing successes/failure
    s/fears and hopes. I love the point system, it encourages me when things are hard and gives me a boost when I am low. The various trackers remind me of what I am supposed to do. Knowing I have to track gets me out of my chair when I want to be lazy and stops me putting things in my mouth I shouldn't. - 1/24/2016 7:32:02 PM
  • Hi, Christ Can't I still stay a member of Sparkpeople even if I don't have a personal coach? - 1/7/2016 7:37:59 PM
    too many e-mails You don't have too write a book every day - 1/30/2015 12:55:30 PM
  • Chris you've made a difference in my life as well. I'm down 50 lbs since the second week of January this year. I have about 30 more to go but I'm confident I will lose the rest because of your site. I've gleaned so much good advice and information from this site. I tell anyone that asks about my weight loss about using SPARKPEOPLE. It's made a huge difference in how I think about life, let alone weight loss. Thanks for making this site and making a difference. I'm extremely grateful! - 11/14/2014 2:26:17 PM
  • Dear Sparkguy:

    While I *do* block ads on websites as a matter of course in my browser (Chrome via AdBlock), partly to make my sometimes slow internet connection and time online more efficient, I REALLY appreciate the sparkpeople site, and the fact that it is FREE!! :D I would welcome opportunities to click on partner ads, *at my time of choosing, on one page, all put together* especially if there were sparkpoints associated with clicking daily.

    Just a suggestion :)
    THANKS! - 9/21/2014 2:59:51 PM
  • Thank you Chris! SparkPeople has helped me greatly, and I have had many of my patients (I am a healtcare provider) receive help in achieving healthy goals by using your site. You have whatever support I can give you! - 8/3/2014 6:17:41 PM
  • Chris, thank you for this address. It is informative for those who have not read either "Spark" or "The Spark Solution" that I have both enjoyed. I found SP quite by accident in a magazine in the doctor's office. I joined SP in October, 2013, having lost 140 pounds on Jenny and on my own, beginning at 535 pounds. I have lost another 47 on SP. I am 67, went from a wheel chair to a walker, and now a cane. I have made much progress in all areas of my life, and am just starting with a personal trainer. I have a long term goal for another 100 pounds. My family says, "Mom, if you lose 287, you should go for 300!" I just might.
    Thank you for your commitment to the world, and this wonderful place to learn and grow.
    Cleveland, Ohio - 3/24/2014 3:47:52 PM
    I'm upset because Sparkpeople made me start over because I was forced to change my email address. I've lost all my Sparkpeople history. - 1/23/2014 4:20:05 PM
    Thank you Chris I love SPARK and feel that I am finally reaching my goals - 5/25/2013 9:06:16 AM
    Thank you Chris I love SPARK and feel that I am finally reaching my goals - 5/25/2013 9:01:56 AM
  • KLUTZY68
    I was reading reviews of Weight Watchers, trying with NO enthusiasm to get myself to try it one more time, when I saw a comment about SP. What drew me here was not so much *that* it was free as *why* it was free: that you wanted to genuinely help people rather than scam them out of their money. Every day I thank you and the woman who posted that comment! For the first time I feel like I may actually keep off the weight I lose. Losing the weight: $1000's. Keeping it off: priceless! - 5/4/2013 8:44:54 AM
  • Chris, thank you so much for turning your vision into a reality. This is the most wonderful company and resource. My husband and I started following the program on March 25 and it is changing our lives in profound ways. We are so grateful for the tools on the website, and every day we learn something new about how to achieve optimal health through nutritious foods and a commitment to exercise. THANK YOU! - 5/2/2013 8:53:15 AM
  • CATHY40176
    Chris you are truly AWESOME! I followed a link from facebook and now I am addicted to your site. It offers so much more than the others. From all of the motivational articles, blogs, etc., it really makes it fun for me on this life journey. I'm not all alone anymore. Thanks for everything you have done to make this possible. Cathy Mattingly, Webster, KY - 4/18/2013 1:22:05 PM
  • Chris and his company have truly come up with a working solution. I've been a member for 2 years, lost my weight and just had my one year anniversary at that weight. You have to really drink the koolaid and try hard to replace any bad habits about food or fitness with good ones (especially food) but I can testify that it really works. I feel great! and my husband of almost 40 years seems more in love with me than ever. I had a lot less than others to lose but I'm super proud of my accomplishment and never want to go back to the unhealthy life style I used to embrace. I have used Weight watchers on line and this works better so it is a genuine bonus that it is free.

    Thank you so much Chris and SparkPeople! - 3/24/2013 2:49:25 PM
  • KAB7801
    Thanks Cris! You gave me the hope and motivation I needed. - 3/1/2013 6:00:31 PM

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