Motivation Articles

The First State of the Spark Address

An Introduction from SparkPeople's Founder & CEO

196SHARES
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.
Continued ›
Page 1 of 3   Next Page ›
196SHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

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

  • 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.
    Tearose22/Tina/
    Cleveland, Ohio - 3/24/2014 3:47:52 PM
  • KATFORD63
    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
  • MEDITERRANEAN1
    Thank you Chris I love SPARK and feel that I am finally reaching my goals - 5/25/2013 9:06:16 AM
  • MEDITERRANEAN1
    Thank you Chris I love SPARK and feel that I am finally reaching my goals - 5/25/2013 9:01:56 AM
  • 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
  • Thanks Cris! You gave me the hope and motivation I needed. - 3/1/2013 6:00:31 PM
  • I am very impressed with your values and the quality of this site. Above all, I am grateful. I am one pound from achieving my original weight goal but this success has given me confidence and hope that I can go beyond that to a truly healthy weight (and meet other goals in my life). So I will continue. I feel better than I have felt for years and I am seeing many crossover benefits in other areas of my life. So thanks! A million thanks and more! - 1/18/2013 6:32:42 PM
  • Words can't express my true gratitude towards this free site that you have founded. I can't thank you enough! I have spread the spark to my family doctor when I was in to see him about my last lab work results this month. Compared to my lab work done in July for high cholesterol and triglycerides, he thought that the most recent one was a mistake. He couldn't believe his eyes! He said, it was nearly impossible! The improvement was out the roof! When he asked me what I did and what changes I've made, I said....I joined SparkPeople the same day I received the horrendous lab work results back in July. He asked for the website and told me that he will highly recommend this site to any of his patients who have struggled with weight, cholesterol, diabetes issues. He was so impressed, that he will be also spreading the spark! Thank you, thank you, thank you Chris! You are a forever gift to us!! - 10/21/2012 4:54:33 PM
  • I am so grateful for your vision. It would be impossible to really express what Sparkpeople has been for me so I will sum it up by saying that SparkPeople has been a lifesaver. I don't have much support with family and friends in reaching my health goals. Either they try but they just don't have the right information or they are negative people. Coming here has given me a place to become educated about health, support, and motivation. And because it is free I don't have to worry about whether or not I can afford to continue. There is relief in knowing it is going to be here. I'm fine with the ads. I have stumbled onto several things that I was interested in.

    I do believe this site will be very profitable for you SparkGuy. You come up with the greatest ideas and people flock to them. So the ideas you have to monetize some things here will be well received.

    And just in case you read all of these, I hope that you will partner with local farms to advertise their products, services, and hours so that we can locate healthy foods from the source to help us along the journey. - 10/21/2012 4:48:38 PM
  • Thanks. I had tried on my own to lose weight and didn't stay with it. I had talked to my daugther about weight watchers , I had done this years ago. I knew they had the right concept and she had even said she wished she had the money to pay for jenny craigs for me. I liked weight watchers because of trackers. I knew I could do better with trackers. Then when I was at doctor's office I was flipping through a magazine and seen a story and wrote down the site ,came home and checked it out. I honestly joined for the trackers. Oh what a surprize I was in for. I found support, friends and I learn everyday. I can blog and get help, all kinds of ways to find out answers to the questions I have.It is like having your own cheer leading squad. This is not a diet, but it a heathy change of living. While losing weight , I am building a new me spiritualy, emotionly,and I like the new me. I tell people about this sight and that it is not a diet. It is the balance that everyone needs to secede.And they don't have anything to lose, except weight, because it is free. They will gain allot ,just check it out. I am glad to be a sparks person. - 9/28/2012 7:03:58 AM
  • I love Sparkpeople and it is helping me to make healthy eating and fitness a way of life, rather than something one does while trying to loose weight. I tell anyone who will listen just how great a site it is.
    Thanks
    Valerie (lost 15 pounds sofar) - 9/28/2012 3:23:19 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by October 31! Get a FREE Personalized Plan