In Conversation with Emily Fletcher of Ziva Meditation
Describe your business in a few words?
Ziva is all about meditation for extraordinary performance. You can experience our flagship training from the comfort of home. This isn’t a guided visualization you download to your phone and do once. Ziva teaches you the skill of meditation to help you get better at life, get more out of your time investment and remember who you really are. Ziva’s the practice you’ll finally commit to because you feel it working.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I was fortunate enough to find meditation during my ten year career on Broadway where I was struggling with insomnia, anxiety, premature aging and getting sick all the time. It changed my life so dramatically — I started asking myself, “Why isn’t everyone doing this?” I left Broadway, went to India and started what became a three year training process to become a teacher. That training consisted of eighteen hours a week of meditation, thousands of hours of apprenticing, transcribing books in Sanskrit by hand and studying The Vedas. I am now twelve years in and have taught 40k people to meditate!
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I had a 10 year career on Broadway. In the last year I was performing in the musical A Chorus Line and was an understudy for three different parts. I never knew who I was going to be for any given performance. Sometimes they would switch me from one character to another during the same show. It was incredibly high demand and I asked the woman sitting next to me in the dressing room, who was understudying five roles, how she was able to perform her job with such ease. Her answer was simple: “I meditate.”
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I always knew I wanted to help people. I knew I would start on Broadway but that it would be a stepping stone to helping people perform at the top of their game. It wasn’t until I started Ziva that I fell in love with creating a company, a community and a culture. Once I finished my meditation teacher training I dedicated the same time and energy to learning how to run a company.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
When I started teaching ten years ago, in NYC it was a bunch of monks and me. Meditation was still considered weird in the mainstream. I had a very different marketing challenge of convincing people that they even needed meditation. Now the challenge is differentiating from the sea of free guided apps out there. When I first started teaching, I was the accessible one. It was like you can either move to the cave and be someone’s disciple for five years or you can do this thing that’s made for us.
Now, people think that meditation is whatever the free app is on their phone or the hundreds of millions of guided videos on YouTube. When people say, ‘Exercise is my meditation’ or ‘Cooking is my meditation’. What they’re saying is that those things relax me. The meditation portion of the Ziva Technique that I teach is not based on something that was made for monks. It was made for people like us, people with busy minds and busy lives. It is healing you on a cellular level and changes your brain for the better. This is why it is so effective and so much easier for people to commit to.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Last year, I was manifesting my face off (already too much effort) to get my debut book Stress Less, Accomplish More on the NYT bestseller list. I’m talking years of writing, planning and hustling.
When the book hit shelves it was a raging success. It made it all the way to number 7 out of all books on Amazon, rubbing shoulders with Michelle Obama and Marie Kondo. We soon got word that the NYT was tracking my book for the list.
My book agent calculated that if they went by sales alone, we would be number 5 on the list! Then the next Tuesday the list came out…. Nothing. It hadn’t made it.
I was devastated.
That’s when I realized — I was trying too hard to control the “how” and the “when.”
I made it about me instead of about the mission. This book has helped over 60K people and been translated into 14 languages but I felt like a failure because the NY Times didn’t put it on the list. A big lesson in surrender and getting clear on your WHY.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
My son, Jasper. It is cliché but true. Birthing him and breastfeeding my way through a best selling book launch of Stress Less, Accomplish More has been a herculean feat and worth every second
A close second…. I started the world’s first online meditation training, which I’m very proud of, it’s called zivaONLINE. Most online courses have a 3% completion rate. zivaONLINE has a 70% completion rate which is unheard of in the online space.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
We put small, easy to miss details in the original job application. We also have applicants make a video with their first submission which weeds out anyone who doesn’t really want the job. Once they make it to a final interview with me I am looking for deep motivators, intelligence, drive and personality.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Because of the extraordinary demands being placed on medical workers Ziva decided to offer full scholarships to zivaONLINE for MDs, nurses, EMTs, physician assistants and respiratory therapists on the frontline. We gave over $1 MM in scholarships to 2700 healthcare workers during the pandemic.
We also created a whole new free resource for people who are suffering from the other pandemic, mental health. I have been doing weekly lectures and global meditations on our FB and IG platform. We archive them all along with audios for immunity and stress and tips for kids at zivameditation.com/selfcare
Thankfully we were able to keep all our employees and not reduce salaries but we have taken a hit for sure by not being able to offer live courses and still paying rent on an empty Soho studio. We keep asking what is the opportunity in this challenge?
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I’m very happy to report that our big project for 2021 is Ziva Kids. We’ve been developing this for 2 years with leading child psychologists from Harvard and creators at Sesame Street. It will really be the first of its kind — teaching children mental resilience and emotional intelligence that they can carry with them for life.
The course will include online meditation training for kids from 4-14. There will be different modules for different age ranges, complementary training for parents to make meditation a habit, videos + fun interactive activities to do together.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
“The braver I am the luckier I become” – Glennon Doyle
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
There will be a lot of shiny trains. Meditation fads will come and go. Stay the course. Do what you do well. This tool is 6,000 years old. It’s not vulnerable to the latest tech gadget. Listen to your own intuition but don’t get distracted by what everyone else is doing.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Trick question. Meditation is my non-negotiable. I also started working out with a trainer which has helped my mental game immensely. I have taken breaks from NYC to be in nature and I have 2 life coaches and 2 therapists to help me manage the growth and change happening internally and externally.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I have a 2 year old son, which really flips your personal and professional priorities. I had been working for the past two years to get Ziva to a place where I could take maternity leave. But having a baby, writing a book and running a company at the same time makes you get super diligent with your schedule and your priorities. Because I love what I do, who I work with and our students, it is easy for me to work all the time. Now with my son, Jasper, I protect my time off much more. Strangely having a son has helped my work and life to feel more balanced which I am grateful for.
The pro of running your own company is that you can go and workout in the middle of the day if you want to. The con of it being your company is that there is an infinite amount of work to be done at all times which makes it trickier to go and do that workout. Because I teach on ‘off hours’ when most other people have down time it is a little challenging to find time to hang out with my friends.
Tips to achieve the best balance between work and personal life:
- Relentlessly prioritize your tasks
- Schedule in down time
- Protect that time with your life
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I am learning about the art and power of sex magic! This is basically manifesting in high gear. Using your pleasure to help create your dreams. I have had the honor of working with the amazing Layla Martin!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Eat raw fat to keep my brain happy
- Exercise regularly
- Morning Routine
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
I have dedicated my entire life to either becoming or helping other people become high performers. But the real mission is that when you’re operating at such a high frequency, you start to change the collective energy of the planet. My biggest goal is to eradicate unnecessary suffering from the world. NBD.