Ed Buckley III, Ph.D.
Ed Buckley III, Ph.D.
FOUNDER & CEO, PEERFIT
HOMETOWN: Growing up, my dad was in the military, so we moved everywhere. Now I would consider it to be Tampa.
ALMA MATER: University of Florida, bachelor’s, master’s & Ph.D.
AT THE OFFICE: While working on his master’s degree focused on healthcare policy and teaching group fitness on the side, Buckley founded Peerfit. The workplace wellness technology platform allows individuals to exchange credits for visits to a wide array of fitness studios and gyms across the country using just one account. The company has raised almost $48 million since 2011, making it one of the most successful Tampa-based startups. In October, Peerfit sold its intellectual property, technology and other assets to the hugely popular fitness company Peloton for $74 million. “My chief strategy officer, who used to be an advisor to the company before he worked with us, told me, your job as CEO is to do the things that other people can’t,” Buckley says. “And if you find yourself doing things that other people can, then you’re not delegating and you’re stepping on people’s toes. I really try to both lay the vision for the company and instill the culture and spirit of how we want to tackle problems.
“We’ve got great people from top to bottom at Peerfit,” Buckley adds. “If they can understand what we’re trying to achieve, and I can help reinforce that the playground they’re working in is safe and provides great nutrients for them to grow, then the rest kind of takes care of itself.”
GIVING BACK: Buckley is a member of the American Heart Association of Tampa Bay’s Heart Ball cabinet, which plans and steers one of the organization’s biggest annual fundraisers. “The AHA’s mission is one that I’m incredibly passionate about,” he says. “Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your heart. It’s one of the best things you can do for your soul. It’s great any time you can find the opportunity to blend your passions of what you do each day at work and the causes you participate in.” During his time at UF, Buckley also co-founded Balance 180, a nonprofit that gives children of all abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds an affordable way to participate in gymnastics classes.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD I WANTED TO BE… An astronaut, so badly. I was obsessed. I’ve actually met Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I skipped school so I could attend a lecture they gave when I was like 10 years old.
WHEN I’M NOT IN THE OFFICE, YOU CAN FIND ME… Generally doing one of two things. I am either out on a walk — I live on Harbour Island, and I just pace around the Riverwalk — listening to podcasts or books or on conference calls while I’m walking. Or I’m going to a great fitness class with my friends and family.
DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO OR PHILOSOPHY YOU LIVE BY? There is no right or wrong. There’s effective and ineffective. I think people often look at situations as, what’s the right way to do it? Look, what’s working, and what doesn’t work? That’s what we need to figure out.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED? Our chief revenue officer, Chris Patton, says this all the time, and it’s such a great piece of advice: People respect what you inspect. If you make it known what is valuable and how you’re going to measure it, and you’re consistent about measuring it, it sets the correct expectation. It gets rid of a lot of the friction of the known and the unknown. You have to be consistent about inspecting it. It’s a very simple phrase that has a lot of layers to it.
THE BIGGEST LESSON I LEARNED THIS YEAR WAS… How important non-work factors are to the workplace. While we’ve always had great culture at Peerfit, we watched in a year of a pandemic, shutdowns and elections non-work stressors dramatically affect people’s emotional health, mental health in ways that we probably never have before. I think the biggest pivot is to lean into that a little more. I think some leaders try to shy away from mental health or those touchy areas. But I think it’s going to affect you anyway. Lean in. Talk about it. Address the elephant in the room. Label it, and figure out ways you can be supportive to yourself and the people around you.
MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA IS… I’ll tell you what made me stay here. I came down to Tampa to do a four-month program. I’d never lived here. I had no family here. I fell in love with the sense of progress that I felt across the whole city. At that time, you had Mayor Bob Buckhorn, I got to meet him. You had what Jeff Vinik was doing. I thought, here is a city on the same page about trying to become better — extending the Riverwalk, reinvesting in downtown, building up different parts of the city. It understood both the infrastructure and the cultural issues that it takes to be a fun and great city in the modern era. I travel pretty much for a living, so I’ve seen pretty much every other city, and they struggle with getting all sides aligned. Tampa seems to just nail it. And the Riverwalk. I go on the Riverwalk pretty much every single morning for walks. How can you beat that?
MY SECRET TALENT OR SKILL IS… I can hold a handstand for an exceptionally long time.
THE BEST PODCAST I LISTENED TO THIS YEAR WAS… I really got into the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. I’d listened to it here and there, and I know everyone loves it, but I read a lot, and I was just craving a bit of a break in back-to-back books. I was consuming about two books a month, so I wanted a bit more variety. I added that in and really enjoyed it.
DREAM VACATION: I’ve got one that was scheduled for this year, and it’s been delayed until next year. I’ve got tickets to Wimbledon. I go to the U.S. Open every year, so the idea of going to Wimbledon is just an absolute dream.