Presented By lululemon: 5 Lessons Learned Owning a Studio

Garden State Yoga studio founder Seth Weisberg reflects on what he learned about leadership being in the yoga business.
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Garden State Yoga studio founder Seth Weisberg reflects on what he learned about leadership being in the yoga business.
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Practicing yoga on the mat is one thing, but doing so at the negotiation table flanked by lawyers and high stakes is quite another. Especially when those stakes involve honoring the trust of a devoted local yoga community and anxiety about the future of a beloved studio as it changes hands. Yet when Seth Weisberg sold his trio of New Jersey Garden State Yoga studios to Power Flow Yoga owner Jerry LePore in early July, his attorney remarked that he’d never seen two parties so committed to doing right by each other.

"Yoga’s not just about posture, it’s about acting a certain way,” says Weisberg. “I think we were both in the same mindset.”

That’s not to say creating, running, and eventually selling his labor of love was all deep breaths and mindfulness. We asked Weisberg, who launched his first Baptiste-style power vinyasa studio in 2008, what he learned about leadership in his six years as a studio owner.

1. Cultivate community.
“When we started out, we really wanted to create the right feeling so we didn’t charge for towels or mat rentals and did things like allowing people to share 10-packs with spouses. It created a great sense of community. Right from the get-go, I knew that was important to me, but [now] I think it’s possibly the biggest draw to yoga as a whole.”

2. But you can’t please everyone.
“Our goal really, truly was to try and help everybody involved as much as possible. I’m not sure we ever said ‘no’ to a teacher looking for more money…and we put so many classes on the schedule to try to accommodate every student. A yoga studio is a tough balance, being that it’s a business and you’re paying bills, but you want to do it the right way; you don’t want to be greedy.”

3. Be honest, even when it’s hard.
“A mentor once said to me, ‘Seth, if you’re always telling the truth, you never have to worry about what you’re saying.’ I live by that.”

4. Mistakes are excellent teachers. 
“I’ve made massive mistakes. The biggest was opening spaces that were too big, and even opening multiple locations may have been a mistake. (If we’d just kept one, the concern over potentially losing money would have been smaller.) But it was a great lesson because I realized you don’t necessarily have to create something large to make it special.”

5. Find your center—again and again.
“Owning a business took away from my own practice—it was just too challenging to be in the room and not be in my own head. I realized that was my yoga, that’s what I needed to get over. [In fact] I’m constantly learning from my dog: He’s got good moments, he’s got bad moments, but he always comes back to the center. ”

Join the conversation in progress on Facebook and sign up for our next Leadership experience here.

—Jasmine Moir