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From Nowhere to Business Idea

Posted on 19 November 2015

My Aha! moment

What led me to start a business?  I had no formal business training, nor ever had any thought to open a business before the age of 42, when I started working on YogaRat (I'm now 50).  Prior to that, I had a career in the film and television industry.  I worked there for more than 20 years, but eventually I realized I didn't want to do it anymore.  My enthusiasm wasn't in it any longer, and it was time to do something else.

The problem was that I had no training to do anything else.  I went to film school and had only worked in various jobs in Hollywood, so outside of there I really didn't have a lot to stand on.  I thought of a new career.  Maybe law school!  Lawyers always seemed to make money.  Maybe that's what I should do.

I couldn't afford any kind of prep class, so I bought a bunch of LSAT prep books and studied.  I went to the library pretty much every night for about six months.  I took the test, and when I got the results back I was good enough to maybe get into Pacoima law school, if I got lucky.  That's fine.  The experience taught me I didn't want to have anything to do with being a lawyer, and I couldn't afford law school anyway.  Whatever lawyers need to have to be good at their job, I don't have.  Good lawyers are a great help, and I would never have been any help to anybody as a lawyer.

I still had no idea what to do, but at least the juices were flowing, so I just kept thinking — what should be my new career?  I fantasized about all kinds of amazing things I could do but nobody would ever hire me for, without any experience.  This time of fluctuation took a few years to go through.  I got as much freelance work as I could, while I also started piling up lots of debt on credit cards.  It wasn't easy giving up on dreams and aspirations I'd held since I'd been a child, nor was it easy financially to make a career change at this point in life.  It was admitting not only the failure to reach my goals but the death of a life I had always imagined for myself in the future.  It was really the death of a self-identity, because without my dream I didn't know who I was, or what I would do.

Ultimately there was a sense of floating, as if the very foundation of myself had collapsed yet it wasn't really all that big of a deal, at the end of the day.  I opened my mind to the possibility that there might be something out there for me that I could not figure out on my own, so instead of forcing myself forward based on my personal wants, I decided to wait until an opportunity arose that felt right, no matter what it might be.  I allowed myself to think beyond the scope of getting a job, into the realm of letting life tell me what kind of work I should be doing. I became open to whatever thought popped into my head, regardless of how farfetched it may seem.  Something will happen.  

It was somewhere in this time I started to take some yoga classes.  A friend named Mike Vash introduced me to yoga.  He'd been doing it for years, so he took me to a class at Yoga Works in Santa Monica.  I started to go two or three times a week, there and some other studios, such as Power Yoga and Exhale.  I found I liked going to different studios on different days, instead of sticking with the same one all the time.  I wouldn't describe myself as a serious yogi then or now, but there was definitely something about the practice I really connected with and enjoyed being around.  It felt friendly, open, and healthy, and I noticed positive changes.  My back had stopped hurting, and I was sleeping better.

One day I was in a yoga class, and I momentarily looked up from my mat.  I "saw" other students' yoga mats on the ground with cool prints on them, with bright colors and designs.  The mats I was looking at were really blank; it was something I saw in my mind, more a sense of strong possibility and purpose.  It was one those rare "Aha!" moments you get, when everything looks different for a fleeting moment and time stands still, like the universe is pointing at you with a giant, blinking arrow.  This is what I'm supposed to do.  I know it now.  Make yoga mats with cool, printed designs on them.

That's how I got the business idea for YogaRat.

Next episode, Business Ideas 101

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