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RapidChat: Anna Baeten

As Executive Director of The Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse, and full-time mother of two, Anna Baeten knows a great deal about the art of balance. While it is often difficult to obtain, she knows that the ability to "balance" work and children has less to do with herself, and more to do with the people she surrounds herself with. 
 
Anna Baeten

As Executive Director of The Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse, and full-time mother of two, Anna Baeten knows a great deal about the art of balance. While it is often difficult to obtain, she knows that the ability to "balance" work and children has less to do with herself, and more to do with the people she surrounds herself with. 
Rapid Growth: What does your role as Executive Director at The Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse encompass?
 
Anna Baeten: Pretty much my job is to think about yoga - really hard - to think really hard about yoga. I know, it doesn't even sound like it could possibly be a real job, and yet, it is. A real, incredibly awesome, totally engaging, completely fun job.
 
I would divide my job into three major categories: the employee experience (a.k.a company culture), the student experience, and the nuts & bolts - all of the "stuff" of any business that has to be running smoothly and efficiently in order for people to be inspired and do their best work).
 
RG: How did you fall into that role?
 
AB: The universe aligned, and the job was posted at a time when I was job hunting. In short, I applied.
 
In my job search, I was really looking for "the right fit." I wanted magic, inspiration, vision, alignment of ethics and values, excellence of quality, high high standards; I wanted the whole shebang. I was very focused on the "Who am I going to be working with?" over the "What am I going to be doing?" I really would have done any job if it was in the right organization with the right people. As luck would have it, I found my people. 
 
The "meat" of my interview was a brilliantly simple assignment from Chris & Kerri Reinbold (the owners). Spend time in our studios for a week. Take classes. Talk to the staff. Talk to the students. Tell us how we can be better. Brilliant assignment, and SO fun. I took on the assignment, and the rest is Funky history. 
 
RG: How did Funky Buddha align with your ethics, values, and standards?
 
I feel incredibly fortunate to have landed at the Funky Buddha. For the better part of my professional career I have been my own boss, which means that very literally my work has been driven by and subject to my own values, standards of performance, and ethics.
 
My position at the Funky Buddha feels like a natural evolution of my "work," both as a professional and as a human being. A commitment to ethics and exceptionally high standards is deeply engrained in who I am as a person. Chris and Kerri Reinbold and the entire Funky Buddha team exemplify these characteristics. But more than just basic "ethical standards" and "working hard," the Funky Buddha is a place where creative process and ideation are valued as the necessary tools for continuous improvement.
 
Another place where the Funky Buddha and I align is in a belief in the extreme importance of replication, replication and consistency (it's the scientist in me). In any endeavor, it is "easy" to do something once. Anyone can perform well ONE time. Anyone can be a rock star ONE time. Anyone can do the right thing ONE time. Show me someone that is striving towards their standards ALL the time. Show me someone that is committed to the pursuit of that kind of excellence. That is something to get excited about.
 
These are the kinds of ideas that impact not just your work, but your whole life: the way you live, the way you parent, the continuous work of defining who you are as a human being.  
 
RG: What is your background in?
 
AB: I have the strangest resume ever. I grew up in Grand Rapids. Graduated from East Grand Rapids High School, and attended college at Western Michigan University, where I double majored in Human Biology and Professional and Applied Ethics. Chemistry minor. I know, what? And now, I "think hard about yoga." It gets stranger.
 
After college I took a little 14 year professional detour into the world of Ballroom Dancing. Total whim, and as it turned out, I was a terrible terrible dancer, which totally pissed me off big time. Coming from a very academic background, I was not used to be challenged in that way, and I did not like it. What I did like immediately was the teaching. So I worked hard at the dancing and got better, and really dove into the teaching and business side of the field. Eventually that led to the co-ownership of two successful studios in Indiana.
 
The world of ballroom dancing and the world of yoga actually have many parallels. They are both rooted in physicality, mobility, functional movement, and above all.....practice. Both sports attract people (both students and professionals) that are process oriented and addicted to learning and continuous improvement.
 
Starting out as a scientist, my career path may not seem like an obvious fit, but my professional life has very much fulfilled and evolved my "inner scientist." Everything I have done professionally has been about learning, learning more, experimentation, analysis, deconstruction, diagnosis, reverse engineering - all of the things that a true nerd can get excited about.
 
RG: How do you balance being a mother and working full time?
 
AB: You need mad juggling skills to be a mother, any type of mother: single, married, working, non-working.
 
I spoke before about my role at the Funky Buddha Yoga Hothouse, and how that match was in many ways seamless. I believe that this is because at a very basic level Chris & Kerri Reinbold and myself align on many, if not all, of our most basic core values. We believe in hard work, excellence, creativity, continuous improvement, the highest of standards, and the most human of interactions. Being a "balanced" single working mother is really not possible. But I am fortunate to have the support and trust of my colleagues, and to work in a workplace that pays specific and deliberate attention to the holistic wellbeing of its employees.
 
This past week my 4 year old son has been sick. On Friday I worked from home. On Monday I made him a fort underneath my desk so that I could participate in all of the meetings that a Monday necessarily brings. He watched too much Ninja Turtles and ate too many suckers (given to him by my awesome co-workers), but he was able to be near me, and I was able to work.
My ability to "balance" my work and my children really has less to do with me and more to do with the people with whom I choose to surround myself. It is their grace and trust which allow me to do all of things that I need to do. They are also the ones that tell me to take a break, and encourage me to say no when appropriate. They guard my boundaries for me, even when I am too busy to do so for myself. 

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media. 
 
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