Still catching up on the Ask Havi posts!

Ask HaviToday we have one that is very short, very to-the-point and very anonymous:

“I’d be interested in knowing how your business developed from the way it started to where you are now. How did you get from being a yoga teacher to this?”

Oh I wish I had a really good answer for you!

But I don’t think I do. Shall we stream-of-consciousness it? Let’s see …. scooby doo time travel noises

It just kinda happened.

Right. Here’s what was going on.

I was teaching yoga in Tel Aviv and Ra’anana. I was doing that crazy yoga brain-training stuff that I can’t stop talking about. And I was doing a lot of intense work on my own patterns and habits.

Several of my friends — who were also yoga teachers — started coming to me for advice on things like how to quit eating sugar or start learning Russian or get up earlier in the morning.

And because we were all yoga people, I used a lot of yoga concepts and terminology to talk about the stuff we were working on.

This led into developing programs and workshops. And then people started wanting to hire me. And when people throw money at you and say teach me, and you can, it’s pretty hard to say no.

[Aside: obviously if you have any business sense at all — which at the time I didn’t — you know that saying no can be very, very, very good for business. But we can talk about that some other time.]

And then some more stuff happened.

I got bored with teaching physical yoga. It occurred to me that in a physical yoga class you kind of get cheated out of the real yoga part of it.

Like, it ends up becoming all about the body and the poses, and then as a teacher you have a few seconds here and there where you can sneak in the wisdom and the helper-mouse bits.

So I stopped teaching yoga-yoga and focused on teaching how to apply yoga concepts to real-life problems. And using the Dance of Shiva work as one of the tools.

This is around the same time that my whole Fluent Self system of self-learning and self-work mysteriously came into existence.

I threw myself into documenting the system so that it could be teach-able. I launched this very website (over three years ago now). And people showed up to learn.

Not enough, though.

I can write more about this later, but probably the biggest business lesson I’ve learned is this:

No one cares about your stupid system!

Seriously you can have the best system in the world (and I do) and it just isn’t that relevant.

No one wakes up and says, “Gee I wish I had a system for solving my problem. You know what I need? Some rockin’ methodology and a bit of theory!”

So … selling a system? Not a great business model. Being able to help everyone with everything? That’s also a bad idea.

Somehow, despite all of the things I was doing that should have ruined my business, I was still getting clients.

And I was teaching a bunch of workshops at yoga studios in San Francisco and Berkeley. And I started doing group programs and online programs and developing products. But it was a lot of work and … not a lot of fun.

Eventually I figured out that I should just shut up about my system already, and start talking about what it’s like to have patterns and habits that are getting in the way of you being your very fabulous self.

And biggifying your fabulous self while you’re at it.

And that’s when everything changed.

I started talking about stuckification and how much it sucks and what happens when our stuff trips us up. And what to do about it.

I started actively using the vocabulary I used in my head (stucknesses, biggification, doing the thing) in my noozletter and with clients.

I stopped taking those depressing classes at the SBA. And stopped working with all yoga studios except for the ones that a. weren’t run by total flakeroonies and b. did the work of contacting me and begging me to show up.

And mainly, I started having fun. And letting my business be more playful and goofy and generally more like something I would actually do.

And here we are.

So now I have to tell people that they have to wait over a month to do a session with me. And I have more time to spend on my writing. And things are pretty good.

As you know, I dumped the noozletter — and I also stopped “marketing”, in the traditional sense, altogether. I do zero marketing. Zero outreach. Nothing.

Instead I just hang out here and on a few other blogs and on Twitter. But not in any “strategic” way. For the fun of it. And, astonishingly, that seems to work just fine.

There’s still stuff I’m working on. But my business challenges at the moment are more administrative and team-related than anything else.

The very, very abridged version?

Like this:

  • Learned yoga, internalized it, stopped doing it in any sort of “traditional” way.
  • Learned business, internalized it, stopped doing it in any sort of “traditional” way.
  • Now practicing yoga and practicing business in a loose, playful way.
  • Now learning more about how to live yoga and thrive in business, all while being true to myself and being in authentic non-cheesy non-manipulative service to the people I really care about.

That’s it, I guess. Happy ending? Or no ending at all, really. Works for me at any rate.

Thanks for asking the question and for making me think about it. Because wow, now that you mention it, my life is kinda crazy.

You know what? Let me go away and think about that for a while. And then I’ll come back, and Selma and I will hang out with you in the comments.

The Fluent Self