One of the most common pieces of advice you’ve received as a yoga student may have been to experience a variety of yoga teachers. It’s a good idea for many reasons. One, how could you know which style of teaching you enjoy if you don’t try a new teacher? Secondly, you can learn something valuable from anyone – yoga teachers and fellow peers alike. Lastly, you get to soak in the wisdom from a vast range of people. However, when you check out different teachers, you might often find what they’re telling you is markedly conflicting.
For those of you who have chosen to become yoga teachers, and have thus turned yourselves into your own personal brands, starting a business might be difficult. Even though teacher training touches upon the business of yoga, there’s so much more you need to learn from experience, so naturally you’ll seek advice from seasoned mentors. Gaining business insight from different business leaders would be similar to seeking knowledge in yoga practice: you’ll receive advice from all walks of life, some of which will be polar opposites. So how do you figure out what’s best for you?
Having worked in fashion and marketing for over five years, I’ve experienced my fair share of personal cognitive dissonances in ways of conducting business. I remember one of my first jobs out of university required me to manage staff, as if these people would have no motivation if there were no external factors involved. Last year, I met a famous CEO whose philosophy was not to manage people for maximum productivity, but to have the right people in the right role. He believed in choosing people who were already had a higher purpose to do the job helped create the strongest possible company culture. I gravitated toward the latter, but it wasn’t without first questioning everything that came before.
This year, at Wanderlust Whistler, I had the honour of attending presentations by two young Canadian female social entrepreneurs. Miki Agrawal is a former soccer player who currently helps girls in developed and developing worlds with their periods through THINX undergarments. Alex Mazerolle is a former dancer who helps girls with self-esteem and body-consciousness issues through yoga at Girlvana Yoga.
Miki’s approach was to tell her story real quick and to leave the audience with her top 5 pieces of business advice, whereas Alex straight up told the audience she hadn’t prepared anything, and went through her story in a tangential form. Although differing in approach, it wasn’t until I took a step back that I realized much of what they were saying was on the same page, even if both had radically distinctive styles.
If what you’re hearing from your yoga teachers, business mentors, or even parents and friends sound conflicting, don’t get caught up in the speech! It’s a good practice to apply principles of mindfulness and take a step back to discern what someone is really trying to say. You may need to take it out of their context to see it in your perspective, change up the lingo, or rephrase it in the negative to hear to the main ideas.
Miki and Alex are both amazing young women with socially conscious companies who help other young women through education and business. These two pretty much define the term #GIRLBOSS. Here are 10 business tips spoken in different words from Miki and Alex’s unique perspectives.
1. Be of Service to Others
MIKI: Ask “How can I help you?” vs “How can you help me?”
ALEX: Bring value if you want to pick someone’s brain
2. Know Why You’re In Business
MIKI: Purpose is your best motivation
ALEX: See the bigger picture
3. Have a Good Elevator Pitch
MIKI: Always have 3 alarming stats about your business
ALEX: Never estimate the power of your story
4. Have Difficult Conversations
MIKI: Leaders don’t talk shit
ALEX: Don’t fire someone over email
5. Do What You Love
MIKI: Put yourself in a place where you shine
ALEX: Figure out who does what best in your company
6. Surround Yourself with Positivity
MIKI: Invite awesome people only!
ALEX: People want to be around real people
7. Start solving problems
ALEX: “I need to teach yoga to teenage girls”
MIKI: Solve a real problem
8. Bring People Together
MIKI: Create amazing experiences for others to connect through your network (She held dinner parties for potential investors who would be so happy they’d peer pressure one another to invest in her company)
ALEX: Get creative with bringing people together to support your business (She held classes at a local restaurant thereby connecting yoga students with one another over food)
9. Ask and You Shall Receive
MIKI: Her dinner parties helped her attract $250K in funding
ALEX: She and her partner asked their parents for seed capital, applied for grants, applied for corporate community funding
10. Just Do It
MIKI: Do cool sh!t
ALEX: Put your sh!t out into the world
You can see how everyone’s voice sounds a bit different, but nuggets of wisdom are timeless. What kinds of business tips do you have for other yoga teachers?
Miranda Sam is a marketing professional and fashion writer from Vancouver, BC. She believes that we all need to actively push our boundaries, whether on the mat or with our personal style. This yin yoga certified instructor will gladly help you challenge yourself with an inversion or try a new look. Check out Miranda’s latest fashion musings on www.StylebyFire.ca.