Do Yogis Make Better Entrepreneurs?

April 20, 2015

11:00 am

For years, six days a week, Yos Goodman would wake up at dawn and do two hours of yoga. But that’s not what makes him a yogi.

“It’s treating life like it’s something to be explored,” says Goodman, who has been doing yoga for 12 years. “You treat everyone else like it’s their last day on earth.”

He adds, “It’s understanding the brevity of life – your own, everyone else’s – and acting accordingly.”

To him, being a yogi is about your philosophy and way of life, not whether you can do a perfect crow pose. As best as he can define it, it involves having compassion for yourself and others, seeking answers to life’s important questions, and living with full knowledge that life is short. Yoga, or “fitness yoga” as he calls it, is just one way to practice this – and not all yoga practitioners live their lives like yogis.

Goodman is the founder of NomadYogi, a website where students of yoga can find classes and get answers to their practical and spiritual questions. So does being a yogi make Goodman a better entrepreneur, all zen and focused? That’s not exactly the story he tells.

He says that being a yogi puts him at a big disadvantage in the competitive entrepreneurial world. Part of his attitude involves putting trust in people, seeing them in the best light and wanting to help them out. But that approach hasn’t served him well when dealing with customers and contractors.

NomadYogi offers teachers a platform to market their classes, send newsletters, and process payments from students (at a low 3% fee, capped at $30). Still, a small group of teachers try to avoid those fees by setting up a free profile on NomadYogi with minimal information and simply directing students to their personal website. NomadYogi hides URLs in profiles (similar to Airbnb), but teachers are always finding ways around that rule, and Goodman and his team struggle to keep up with their tactics. 

“Yogis stealing like this? I wasn’t ready for it,” Goodman quips.

Still, at least from my perspective, being a yogi has given Goodman one big advantage as an entrepreneur: he won’t sacrifice his vision to become some idealized notion of what an entrepreneur should be. His goal isn’t to raise tons of money and be the darling of the tech press; he just wants to help good people share their ideas and their expertise.

“We want to remain small and manageable,” he says. “The goal of this is not to be Uber.”

Goodman’s background in business has helped him mitigate the damages of his trusting nature, but he knows that not everyone is so lucky. It’s easy to get tricked, caught up in the hype or duped by dishonesty. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, he says – and if you’re a yogi and an entrepreneur, don’t expect smooth sailing all the way. 

Image credit: NomadYogi

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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