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Anna Greenwald of On The Goga Believes Health Culture Is Good Business

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Anna Greenwald

Anna Greenwald is the founder and CEO of On the Goga, a company that specializes in helping corporations focus their corporate culture on mindfulness and wellbeing. On the Goga offers a variety of services like corporate yoga, meditation, nutrition workshops, company retreats, and more. Anna Greenwald has built a mobile corporate yoga studio that takes care of all their clients’ corporate wellness needs. Her holistic approach has brought her clients like L’Oréal, Drexel University, and the Philadelphia Eagles. She uses evidence based practices that increase employee well being, creativity, and productivity. 

People sitting together

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur in the corporate wellness sector?

I came into this sector completely by accident. I trained most of my life as a classically trained singer. When I was a sophomore in college, I got a vocal injury that prevented me from talking or singing. To help recover, my voice teacher recommended I do anything possible to relax my muscles including yoga. I had never tried yoga before – in fact, I hated the idea of it – but that first class in a small studio in West Philadelphia changed my entire mindset. Within a year, I was practicing 4-6 times a week and the practice changed my mind and body. It helped me realize so much about myself and what I’m capable of. I wanted share that experience with others, and from that came the original idea for On the Goga: make yoga and mindfulness accessible to people who wouldn’t normally go to a yoga studio.People in Nature

What was your biggest challenge in founding On The Goga and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge in founding On the Goga has been to discover exactly how to present yoga and mindfulness to individuals who haven’t already experienced its benefits. Even I only tried it when I was told it would help my singing. In actuality, yoga is the physical practice of mindfulness, and mindfulness is simply the practice of noticing what is happening right now. This can apply to sweating it out on a yoga mat, or noticing the temperature of the cold beer in your hand when you’re at a happy hour with coworkers. So we teach yoga and mindfulness both ways now. We meet people where they are in terms of physicality level and interests. We teach the tools of mindfulness through traditional yoga, mindful happy hours, hikes, retreats, cooking classes, and more. People doing yoga

What, if any, connection exists between productivity at work and yoga in your opinion?

Yoga improves employees performance through improving their mental and physical health. But since all of our programming is research-based, rather than give you my opinion I’ll share some research on the subject:

  • “In a randomized study of employees from a British government authority… in comparison to the control group, the yoga [group’s] scores were significantly lower for perceived stress, back pain, sadness and hostility, and substantially higher for feeling self-assured, attentive and serene.” – Journal: Occupational Medicine (Lond), 2012
  • “Yoga practices improved neural performance and reduced fatigue and stress level. Yoga reduced rescue medication use in bronchial asthma, and achieved the reduction earlier than conventional treatment alone. Yoga produced a reduction in resting pulse rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure irrespective of age, gender, and BMI.” – summarized from an article in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences 2012
  • After a 6-week yoga intervention for a randomized group of employees, “The yoga group reported marked improvements in feelings of clear-mindedness, composure, elation, energy, and confidence. In addition, the yoga group reported increased life purpose and satisfaction, and feelings of greater self-confidence during stressful situations.” – Summary and excerpt from the Scandinavian Journal of Environmental Science, 2011 People in Nature

What kinds of benefits can a business expect from participating in On The Goga classes?

 

We look at wellness as a form of professional development. In fact our driving principle is: Happy People Do Great Things. Each one of our programs are designed to make every employee feel cared about and supported, in turn increasing their loyalty to their company and pride in their work. We are also helping employees to learn sustainable habits of wellness that improve their performance at work and physical health over time. It’s a win-win situation for employers and employees. What’s the return on this investment? Again, I’ll point to some research sources:

  • Happy employees are 3x more creative, 31% more productive, and have 37% better sales – Harvard Business Review, Positive Intelligence, 2012
  • “Highly engaged teams… saw significantly lower turnover (25% in high turnover, 65% in low turnover organizations).” – Gallup, 2013

On an individual level, mindfulness has been shown to achieve the following benefits in as little as 10 sessions:

  • DECREASE STRESS LEVELS – Source: “What Are The Benefits of Mindfulness,” a Meta Analysis from American Psychological Association, 2012
  • INCREASE FOCUS – Source: “Meditation, Mindfulness, and Cognitive Flexibility,” The Journal of Consciousness and Cognition, 2009
  • LOWER OVERALL ANXIETY – Source: “Short-Term Meditation Training Improves Attention and Self-Regulation,” PNAS, 2007
  • REDUCE EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY – Source: “Mindfulness Meditation and Reduced Emotional Interference on a Cognitive Task,” Journal of Motivation and Emotion, 2007
  • INCREASE QUALITY OF LIFE – Source: Study from Massachusetts General Hospital, 2011
  • INCREASE HAPPINESS- Source: “A randomized controlled trial of compassion cultivation training: Effects on mindfulness, affect, and emotion regulation,” The Journal of Motivation and Emotion, 2014 On the Goga Classes

What are some memorable On The Goga milestones, and what developments do you project for this year?

We’ve had the opportunity to work with and for some amazing organizations and individuals so far. Some of our past clients and partners include L’Oreal and Pureology, Philadelphia Eagles players, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 2018 is shaping up to be a big growth year for us. We’ve got an amazing team of top-notch coaches, and have forged some tremendous strategic partnerships that are helping us bring our services to more and more companies.

What is one character trait that defines you and why?

Resilience. This is a character trait I have grown over the years through my yoga practice. I wasn’t always as resilient to failure, rejection, or criticism as I am today (and I still work to strengthen this personality trait). Through my yoga practice, I’ve come to realize the beauty of resilience: you don’t have to do well. You don’t have to handle each failure perfectly, each rejection with grace, or each criticism humbly – you just have to try. Over time, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you get better at all these things. When you look back down the road, you realize that the only differentiator between you and the people who have dropped off along the way, is that you kept walking.

What are your tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My two mottos since the start of this business have remained the same:

  • Value courage, not success. You can’t practice success, but you can practice courage, and if you practice courage over and over and over again, success happens.
  • The difference between people who do cool shit and the people who don’t, is that the people who do cool shit do it.

Aaditi Tamhankar is a student at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. In her free time she can be found cooking healthy food, running, and watching too much Youtube.

Business

How To Journal As An Entrepreneur

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I’ve been journaling around 3-4x a week for the past year or so now. Basically, I focus on asking myself 3 questions every morning.

The first question I write down is: What good will I do for the world today? ( I learned that Ben Franklin used to write this question down every morning, so I took a page out of his book). The purpose of this question is to set the priority for the day. For me, it helps me understand that focusing on how you help others is what matters the most. Typically, my answers include:

–         Be kind

–         Make others smile around you

–         Be empathetic- look beyond people’s actions

–         Help someone!

The second question I ask myself is- what three things am I grateful for today? Usually the answers include my health, care for the people around me, and of course, hearing the birds! (favorite part of my day!) Again, the theme here is perspective- focusing on the basic essentials puts you in the right state of mind to start your day. Being grateful is not innate in everyone, and it takes practice and focus to make this type of thinking instinctive.

The last section I title is called Reflections. This section is a little more open ended. Typically, the topics include:

1.      Lessons I’ve learned from the day before. Usually this involves feedback I got in a conversation, an area where I think I made a mistake, or just an interesting observation that sticks with me.

2.      Giving advice to myself- I try to take a step back, and imagine if I was an observer giving me advice, what I would I tell him? Key phrases usually include “Stay hungry, stay humble”, “Act in a way that you’ll be proud of in five years”, and of course “Have fun!”. I also remind myself to try to be as strategic as possible, and to make sure that each action I take is bringing about the greatest return. I’ve found this also helps because by giving yourself advice in the morning, you no longer have any desire to give other people advice, unless you are asked.  I’ve found that giving people unsolicited advice is something people do not appreciate or like.

3.      Write down any stresses, or worries- then write down motivational lines, or actionable steps to get through it.

That’s it folks- takes about 10-15min, but I’ve noticed it builds my subconscious mind to instinctively be nicer, more positive, and more self-aware. For my company, it’s led to dealing with conflict in a more constructive way, accepting and pivoting faster on things I cannot change, and being a more empathetic leader. I highly recommended business professionals add this to their daily habits!

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Business

How You Know A Co-Working Space Is For You

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Working at home is one of the best reasons to become a freelancer. However, there are people who work better when they need to get up and get dressed or when they are surrounded by co-workers. A group of people doing different jobs but working together in the same space is called co-working. Here are some ways to determine whether it’s time to look for a co-working space.  

You’re Not Getting Work Done

Working from home is great but only if you get work done. This is perhaps the obvious sign that you need to find a co-working space. If you’re snacking every 15 minutes or you spend lots of time on social media instead of getting work done, you seriously need to consider a co-working space.

You Want Human Interaction

Humans are naturally social beings. Even if you hate some of your old co-workers, there is something about being about other people that can help you work hard throughout the day. You might not like some of your co-workers but sometimes it’s nice to have somebody to complain to or chat with every day. If you find that you’re missing water cooler chats or if chat messaging is not enough, perhaps it’s time to look for a co-working space.

Your House Is Distracting

Your house has a bed, a TV, a fridge full of food and maybe your kids. All of these can be distracting especially if your kids need attention or if there’s noisy construction nearby or when a telemarketer calls. Distractions also keep you from focusing on work and getting it done in a timely manner.

You Need To Meet Clients

Yes you house is cozy and warm, but is it really an ideal place to meet clients? What if your home is a studio apartment? Is there enough space for all of them to discuss matters comfortably? Co-working spaces have common areas like conference room where meetings can take place in a more professional atmosphere.

You Need Space

There are just some types of work where you need a big space. You might need lots of light, big windows or a big table or space for bulky equipment. Not all co-working spaces are big, but there might be something that can accommodate your need for bigger space.

You Need To Get Out Of Your PJs

If you haven’t changed out of your pajamas for a couple of days, perhaps you need to look for a co-working space. Changing into something more professional could help you focus and become more productive.

You Need A Central Location

Your house could be out in the suburbs or somewhere not accessible to public transportation which can create logistics problem not only if you’re meeting clients in their offices but for supplies deliveries too. A central location – which some co-working places have – is not only convenient to clients but for other matters too.

You Need To Grow Your Business

A home business is fine if you only have 1 or 2 employees. But what happens when you need to scale up and need more space? A co-working space can give you the flexibility to scale up or down depending on your needs. Depending on the co-working space, it can be for a small 1-man team or a 10-person team with access to a conference room.

Networking

When you’re in a co-working space, you are surrounded with other goal-oriented people. This is a good opportunity to network with them, learn their business or share thoughts. Having access to people in different industries can open new doors of opportunities.

You Need Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is important but it can be hard to achieve for some people when you work from home. Chores, children and distractions make it hard to focus on work so it creates an imbalance by making it hard for you to work. When you’re in a co-working space, you can forget about your house for a while to focus work. However, you still have the freedom to attend to your child’s PTA, go to the gym or pick up your dry cleaning.

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Business

Things Successful Entrepreneurs Never Say

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Mindset is what separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack. While many people complain and let their negative thoughts get to them, successful entrepreneurs are steadfast in their thoughts and words. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts and saying negative things, it’s time to stop because you will never hear successful entrepreneurs say the following:

Because I Said So

Everybody knows you’re the boss but saying “Because I said so.” shows unnecessary bossiness. Not only is it unnecessary, it is also rude to speak to an employee this way. This statement can humiliate and disrespect an employee because they feel that their ideas are worthless or is not valued. Good leaders know that employees are not puppets with strings to pull. Good leaders know how to give input in a more pleasing way.

I’m Not Good Enough

Everybody experiences self-doubt every once in a while. However, successful entrepreneurs know when to detach themselves from this feeling. Dwelling on this kind of feeling can have a negative effect on your self-esteem and you’re going to need to stay positive especially when you’re running a business.

I’ll Try

I’ll try has a very negative connotation. For recipients of this reply, it sounds like a dismissal or an admission of defeat. Successful entrepreneurs on the other hand get things done.

I don’t have time

Successful entrepreneurs know how to manage time especially if it is about business. They make time for things because they know that it is important to the success of their business.

X Does This Better Than You

If you want to demotivate your employee say these words. However, if you want to keep them motivated and productive, do not compare them to other employees. If you want to give feedback, give it in a constructive manner so that employees gain insight and perspective without losing self-respect.

I Don’t Care

This is another demotivating phrase that can ruin your working relationship with your team. This phrase also breeds mistrust and disbelief. A great leader always, cares, always has ideas and opinions. Successful entrepreneurs praise their employees and know how to give constructive criticism.

We Don’t Need New Ideas

You will never hear successful entrepreneurs say this because they know that companies constantly need new ideas to stay competitive. They know that new ideas can help expand their business, retain their competitive edge or venture into a totally new market.

Don’t Show Up With Bad News

This phrase is demotivating to employees because it leads them to hide issues from their employees which in turn could be dangerous for the company. Good leaders know that receiving bad news from employees is normal because there is no such thing as a perfect business. Instead of this phrase, say “I want to hear good news today”.

That’s Not Fair

Business has nothing to do with fairness. Business is about being prepared and knowing to anticipate developments and keeping up with the competition.

It’s Too Hard

Nobody said going to business is easy. Successful entrepreneurs know it’s hard. However, they don’t see it that way because they see the hardships as a challenge.

I Did It On My Own

Successful entrepreneurs know that they need the support of their employees to become successful. They also know that they are only as good as their employees.

I Don’t Have Time For A Break

Successful entrepreneurs know when it’s time to take a break. They know timeouts are important in order to stay productive. They also know that their employees need periodic breaks and encourage them to do so.

It’s Impossible

Saying something is impossible is like saying that they don’t trust their employees. This phrase is another demotivator because trusting employees helps boost their self-confidence and can help motivate them to try harder.

It’s Too Early/Late

It’s never too early or too late to attend a business meeting or networking opportunity. True entrepreneurs never fail to seize an opportunity especially if it is related to the business.

I Never Read Books

According to Tom Corley of Rich Habits, rich people read more books than other people. What’s more, rich people rich people tell their kids to read 2 or more non-fiction books per month compared to the rest. 63% of rich people also listen to audio books on the way to work compared to 5% of the rest.

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