The Importance of Mindfulness in the Life of an Entrepreneur
It is no secret that working full time and running a side hustle is HARD.
That does not mean it has to over-stress, overwhelm, or otherwise consume you in order to be successful. In fact, a lifestyle dedicated to service and passion could actually spark great JOY. That said, if you don’t keep tabs on yourself, you just may falter on the fine line between dedication and sacrifice, losing your sense of self and health in the process of building your dream life.
I may not be an expert on this balancing act, but I do consider myself aware of my strengths and shortcomings as an entrepreneur. Every day I continue to learn more about myself as I navigate my full-time day job and my passion working in the wellness world. I recently sat down with mindful marketing expert, Holly Martzial of Mindwell Marketing to share my experiences. We discuss the booming wellness industry, the endless hustle, and how to practice self-care when you barely have a New York minute to yourself. Not all my lessons came easy, and I certainly do not claim to have mastered the mindful side hustle. My hope is simply that sharing these experiences with you could be of benefit if you are also weaving together a life of intentional work.
First and foremost, tell me about a typical day in the life of Daniele Gates.
I wake up ridiculously early. I usually work 7 days a week, all of which I have to be at work at 7 and my commute is at least an hour. That means by 4, my body starts to wake and I'm definitely out of bed by 5. I do some journaling, about 10 minutes of asana and some type of meditation - usually Japa - and then I shower and put clothes on. I leave by 6 and do coffee, breakfast, and makeup while I'm sitting in traffic. It's not ideal or even Ayurvedic, but for now, this is how I find balance. I work at a school with grades 6-12 and I teach grades 10-12. My school struggles with all of the issues that come with systemic racism and oppression - poverty, violence, and huge learning gaps. I teach 5 classes a day and four different courses with 48 minutes each day to "prepare." That means unit plans, lesson plans, grading, phone calls, social-emotional support - all of it. It isn't possible to do it all well. I have to admit defeat pretty often and focus on creating experiences that provide learning opportunities for my students. At 2:50 I move on to my next job. Tuesdays I volunteer at the Bhakti Center from 5-9. Mondays and Wednesdays, I teach yoga classes. Thursdays I attend community group and Kirtan and on Fridays, I work with private clients. On weekends, I am an anatomy trainer with Breathe for Change.
We often hear the term “work-life balance” as if it were something to strive for, but often impossible to achieve. As an entrepreneur with a full-time job, how do you approach “work-life balance?” Do you believe it is feasible in your situation?
For me the balance is less about work/life - my work is my life - and more about labor/joy. Some of my "work" is unfulfilling. It includes tedious paperwork that doesn't offer any learning to my students. Other work - the work I do with children and adults that is hands on and engaging - that is where I "live." That's where I find my joy. I make sure I take one hour each day for just me - whatever I want. This last year I didn't travel at all, and that killed me - It's definitely a lesson I learned about what I need to feel nourished. I think this last year of having my own business plus keeping my day job has taught me a lot about what matters to me and what I need to make time for. I don't really drink anymore because I don't have time for hangovers or dehydration. I only watch television that makes me feel good and I avoid violent shows. I get a lot of bodywork and see an Ayurvedic practitioner as often as I can. I say no a lot more.
As someone who is clearly very passionate about wellness, I know that maintaining your own health and wellness is super important to you. How do you make time for self-care while still maintaining all your responsibilities.
I'm in a particularly challenging situation because I am never home to cook, and in Ayurveda, you don't eat leftovers. I work in a food desert and my lunch period is at 10:30 in the morning. This means I don't always eat as well as I would like to between 8 am and 2:50. I make up for it by eating well all the other times and on weekends. I also make sure I practice some sort of movement everyday and take good care of my skin. I use breathwork everyday to keep my anxiety at bay, and I also take magnesium supplements and CBD Oil. I just started acupuncture and cupping and gua sha. I practice abhyanga massage everyday. I use aromatherapy regularly. In the summer I'm a wellness monster, which makes me feel like I need to live somewhere it is permanently summer.
Who is your brand crush, or your biggest business inspiration?
Marie Forleo. Bschool is the reason I started my business and the way she executes her marketing strategies is brilliant. She doesn't make her consumer feel used and abused, and her brand is consistent. She has so may revenue streams that I can't imagine how organized she must be to keep it all together! She reminds me that failure is necessary for growth, and that not everyone is your ideal client.
You have a large Instagram following – how do you feel about the platform? Would you say you have a healthy relationship with social media?
I make so many connections via my social media. Many of my followers are from trainings and workshops I've done, so it's a way for me to maintain relationships with them. I also really appreciate the way that I get to know people who are in my niche - I learn a lot from following other wellness professionals. I've struggled more recently with making sure that I'm staying true to my values - yoga is a spiritual practice and you can't do it drunk is a big one, plus the white-world-of-wellness is largely in conflict with my mission to support wellness to communities where it's lacking, which is largely communities of color. Sometimes when I share these views on IG, I get pushback and I feel badly about that. I have to let go of the idea that everyone has to like what I have to say. I've done a few promo ops as a result of my IG following that made me feel icky, and it's caused me to be more protective of my page and my brand. My goal is to use my page to share information on what a Yinsa lifestyle looks and feels like, and if it's not in alignment with that, it's not for my IG feed
The wellness industry is booming in the United States, how does your brand stand apart from other wellness businesses?
I think the focus on balance over perfection is key. I can have a glass or wine or a cookie and still be balanced. I don't believe that full renunciation is the path to wellness, and I hope that my brand portrays that. My goal is to accept that life is hard, but if you balance out the hard with self-care, yoga, and meditation, it can be less hard.
What has been one of the best lessons learned through starting your own business?
I need to be more organized with my finances. I used to waste a lot of money, and now that I have to reinvest it, I have to be more mindful of my spending. I've always been able to make money even when I was a kid. I've historically been bad at maintaining it, so I'm trying to change that story so I can feel less anxious about money.
If you could go back in time to when you were just starting your business and give ‘brand new entrepreneur Daniele’ one piece of advice, what would it be?
Know that you can't do it all. Know what your very specific skills are and outsource the rest. If you pay someone to write your newsletter and you get some sales out of it, there's an ROI. There's no ROI when you can't get the newsletter done because you work too much.
With a fulltime job and a serious side hustle, how do you keep your energy levels high and show up in all aspects of your life?
So, first of all, I don't. Sometimes I'm tired and cranky. I nourish my body with food that gives me energy whenever possible and if I get a free minute, I don't go to the movies, I sleep. I still manage to get 6 hours which is rare for someone who works as much as I do. My goal this year is to get 8-9 every night, and take at least 3 weeks off.
As a marketer, I am always asking my clients about their business goals. I find measurable goals to be wildly important. Tell me, what is your number one business goal for 2019?
Do more workshops and events outside of NYC. My long-term goal is to be a traveling yogi, so I need to spend my time off figuring out a way to make that happen.