Episode 259 – Madeline Pratt

Madeline is a CEO & Yoga Instructor

Madeline Pratt, founder and CEO of Fearless In Training and Womxn Talk Money, talks about how her passion for fitness and yoga has helped her achieve balance in life through her professional career, health issues, and encouraging her team in the workplace to be more active!

Episode Highlights

Fibromyalgia diagnosis
Teaching yoga to colleagues and clients
Setting an example to colleagues to find their own balance in life
How Intuit encouraged fitness in the workplace
Why the influence of culture should be top-down in the workplace

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Pictures of Madeline Teaching Yoga

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    Welcome to Episode 259 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And,” those things above and beyond your technical skills that you do for work, the things that differentiate you when you’re in the office.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s being published very, very soon. It will be available in Amazon and a few other websites so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it and the book will really help to spread this message.

    Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Madeline Pratt. She’s the founder and CEO of Fearless in Training and also the founder of Womxn Talk Money. Now, she’s with me here today. Madeline, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Madeline: Thank you, John. I’m super stoked to be here.

    John: Oh, this is going to be awesome. I mean you’re the founder of two things and you still have time to talk to me? Thank you so much. I’m just the founder of this thing, so whatever. But no, this is going to be so much fun. But as you know, right off the gate, we do rapid-fire questions. Get to know Madeline on a new level here.

    Here we go. Favorite color.

    Madeline: Blue.

    John: Blue, nice. Mine too. All right. How about a least favorite color?

    Madeline: I’m not a big fan of red. It’s not a color I can wear. It’s just not one that I interact with at all.

    John: No. I hear you. I hear you on that for sure. How about more Kindle or real books?

    Madeline: Real books. I’m a total book nerd. I’ve got a stack of 15 in my office right now.

    John: Good for you. Wow, that’s ambitious. How about a favorite actor or an actress?

    Madeline: Like a celebrity crush situation?

    John: Even just a favorite actor or actress, however you would take it.

    Madeline: I’m a big Reese Witherspoon fan. I love what she’s been doing both as an actress and for the industry like her newest show on Apple TV, I’m a big fan of that one.

    John: Right, and creating her own studio and stuff a couple of years ago, and all that.

    Madeline: Exactly, and creating experience for women to jump into new roles. I think it’s pretty awesome.

    John: Right. How about more pens or pencils?

    Madeline: Pens, and I’m very particular. If I find a pen that I love, it’s got to be a felt tip of a certain size. I buy them like a weird hoarder, and yeah.

    John: That’s fantastic. That’s so good, so good. How about puzzles? Sudoku or crossword?

    Madeline: Sudoku. I’m a numbers person in a big way. Whenever I’m on an airplane and my son is next to me, we’ll whip out the Sudoku and he’ll time to see how fast, and it’s me being really cool and impressive to my kids.

    John: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. How about early bird or night owl?

    Madeline: I’m definitely more of a night owl than an early bird. I always hope and aspire one day to be a person who can work out at 5:00 am.

    John: Oh, man. Those people are crazy.

    Madeline: If it’s a work thing, a flight or I’ve got an early morning meeting with somebody on the east coast or in the UK, I can do it. I’m just — I love to lay in bed in the morning though. I’ve got a good bed though. It’s hard to get out.

    John: Totally. I hear you on that. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Madeline: Star Wars. This is only because my son has been really, really obsessed with The Mandalorian right now, and the situation that I’m into.

    John: Right, the baby Yoda that’s everywhere. How about computers? PC or Mac?

    Madeline: Mac all the way. My mom runs a publishing company and an art magazine. I grew up with her having really nice Macs and we didn’t even have TVs in my house growing up, but we had really, really nice flat screen iMacs. I’ve just been Mac since day one.

    John: Okay. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?

    Madeline: I’m a dairy-free person. There is this company called Almond DREAM that does this amazing salted caramel that is to die for.

    John: Oh, yeah. That sounds fantastic. How about more heels or flats?

    Madeline: It’s funny. Full disclosure. When I record podcasts, I oftentimes sit in my walk-in closet and I may or may not be in there right now. It’s just all the clothes dampen the sound perfectly. I’m looking at all of my heels and I know that I have worn none of them recently. My big thing is high top sneakers. I have a very nice collection of Nike Dunks and Converse.

    John: Nice. I love that. That’s awesome.

    Madeline: I finally started to be able to be like, I can wear this to a conference and it’s been a game changer especially in terms of comfort.

    John: Totally. How about favorite toppings on a pizza?

    Madeline: Goat cheese. Anything with goat cheese. I’ll buy these cauliflower pizzas and then I doctor them up, so I add goat cheese and shallots and maybe a little bit of hand-sliced salami, just make it perfect.

    John: Fancy. Totally fancy. All right. We’ve got five more, five more. Balance sheet or income statement?

    Madeline: Balance sheet for sure.

    John: There you go. Do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Madeline: Oh, I’m like a lizard person so I have to have it the temperature of the sun, like 73 degrees. My showers are scalding.

    John: A lizard person, that’s so funny. That’s so awesome. All right. How about a favorite sports team?

    Madeline: Oh, Seahawks all the way.

    John: There you go. How about a favorite number?

    Madeline: 8. 8 is my lucky number. It was my soccer jersey growing up and my mom’s lucky number is 18 so we kind of have a connection there, and then I obviously travel a lot so I get like when I book seats on airplanes and when I get hotel rooms, I always think it’s a good sign when I’m on a trip when I get a room with an 8 or multiple 8’s in it. When I book my flights, I often try and sit in row 8.

    John: Wow. Yeah. Well, it’s close to the front so either way, everybody wins.

    Madeline: Exactly.

    John: Yeah, wow. I’ve never gone to that level but that’s impressive.

    Madeline: I got to get it where I can.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Madeline: This past year, some people who follow me on Twitter know I have been on like a quest for headphones because I do podcast myself and I do a lot of recording, and I literally bought and returned six different pairs of headphones and nice ones, fancy ones, expensive ones, and I just got a new pair of Jabra Elite 85s. I tried them on n the airport, they’re the last pair, so I got them at 10% discount and they are the best, they’re the best thing I’ve ever bought. I’m obsessed.

    John: That’s so awesome. The accounting background in you is super excited because you got the discount.

    Madeline: Yeah. They were like, it’s the display pair for 10% off. I was like, it is meant to be, folks. Give them to me and we’ll go.

    John: That’s fantastic and wearing them now in your walk-in closet surrounded by your shoes, I love this. This is awesome.

    Madeline: You’ve got the full visual.

    John: I totally do. I totally do. I’m excited to talk I mean certified yoga instructor. I mean that’s next level. That’s not just you put in the DVD or throw in a YouTube video like I do once in a while and try, but so what made you get in to yoga? Is it a recent thing or are have you been doing it for a long time?

    Madeline: It was interesting and winding path. I’m somebody who considers myself a life-long athlete. Growing up, I was a dancer and then also a soccer player. I reached a point where in both of those sports, you have to pick one. You’re going to go all in on, and so I went all in on dance. When I got to middle school and high school, I was dancing five to six days a week ballet and modern dance, and dance is really, really hard on your body and so you need some other modality to kind of cross train and particularly to stretch because you got really tight and you need that flexibility.

    I had originally been exposed to yoga as a kid. My dad, prior to becoming an attorney was actually a yoga instructor. He taught me yoga when I was little. I was like, this is cool but you’re kind of a hippie dad so whatever. Then I came back in my dance world and then I continued to dance throughout college.

    I saw it as a workout methodology primarily, just like a way to train, to stay in good shape. And then in 2015, I had a crazy, crazy thing happen where I had just started a new job and I had a lot of changes going on in my life. All of a sudden, one day I woke up and I had pain all over my entire body. I couldn’t get out of bed and I was basically bedridden for about a month actually.

    Luckily, I can work remotely so I was working from my bed every single day, spent the next six or seven months going to doctor after doctor after doctor, trying to get an understanding of what was going on with my body because I would just have these crazy symptoms or rashes or flair up of really bad nerve pain.

    In the end, I saw a bunch of different specialists and they diagnosed me with fibromyalgia which for those of you who don’t know fibromyalgia, it’s basically like chronic nerve pain and also inflammation and fatigue but it’s also kind of a category that doctors give you when they’ve tested you for everything else and they’re like, we can’t figure it out, so you have fibromyalgia.

    What I corelated and started really understanding was that the biggest trigger for me in terms of what really amplified it was stress. Stress, a lot of times from my travel a lot and I have children. I mean I have a lot of things that cause stress. If I was going to be well, I needed to get really serious about managing my stress levels. Around this time, I started to notice that when I practice yoga, it really, really helped.

    I got into doing yoga more and meditating daily, it became a thing in my life. Then I realized that if I really was going to be consistent, the best way for to be consistent and make sure that I was doing, as we say in the yoga world, yoga every damn day, if I’m going to do that, I should be teaching it because if I’m a teacher, I’ve got to stay in the physical shape to be teaching.

    I’m doing the math backwards here. In 2017, one of my dear friends, she owns a yoga studio near where I live and so she was launching her first teacher training and so I joined it and I got my certification through that, and then I started teaching and I was teaching for a little bit then I got pregnant, and then I had my second son. Then after that, more recently, I’ve been teaching yoga and bar which bar is a combination of dance and pilates and yoga and a little bit of weigh and strength and conditioning training. Now, I teach those twice a week. It is super, super helpful for my sanity.

    John: Wow. That’s impressive. I mean so fantastic that you found this, and a way to take care of the symptoms and also just to feel better, I mean to function. I mean wow, that’s really powerful. It’s not just so I can be able to touch my toes. No, so I can get out of bed and function as a human. That’s amazing.

    Also, what a great idea to become a teacher, so then it’s like hey, I have to be teaching people. You can’t be the dentist with no teeth.

    Madeline: Exactly. You got to stay on your game.

    John: Right? That’s fantastic, wow. Really impressive. Is this something that you talk about at work or you did in your career?

    Madeline: It was super funny. When I started going through the yoga teacher training process, it’s required that in order for you to pass, you have to have a certain number of teaching hours where you’ve taught a certain number of people in a class style format. At the time, I was working for Fathom and I was overseeing the US team and I had a few employees. I was like okay, I need a captive audience to teach yoga.

    We worked in Seattle and it turned out both of them, I love these guys, like James and Alex who worked for Fathom with me and both of their girlfriends had been trying to get them into yoga and so they were like okay, my girlfriend’s trying to get me to do it. I didn’t force them into it. I put kind of a call out at the WeWork location that we were all at, like hey, free yoga class. Come by. It was the two of them and then this other amazingly wonderful programmer guy who maybe spoke two words and he showed up in jeans every single time.

    I would teach lunch time yoga at WeWork. Prior to that, actually, many many months ago when I worked for Avalara, I was just so into fitness, I actually would teach a pilates class at lunchtime there too. I have woven it into my work life a little bit and then definitely my employees have always known that it’s part of who I am, but now in my current company, I get full creative license for what we do and it’s definitely something that I see a desire for especially in the audience that we’re working with.

    I think that all of us are kind of looking for this way to connect to a vision for the next chapter of the world. We’ve got to kind of unfold this new way of being and a lot of that requires a certain level of consciousness and yoga and meditation gives us the tools to tap into that.

    I, for the first time recently, I was doing a lot of work with some of my coaching clients in terms of setting the vision for the new decade and I as basically guiding all my clients through guided meditation. I realized that it was super valuable and that it could benefit many people and so I just recorded myself doing it, just for the fun, just let’s see if anybody wants to download this. I was actually super delighted to see how many people in my base were totally latched on to that, and were like yeah, that’s something I want.

    This year, now that I’ve tested that, I’m like oh, this would be really cool to start integrating this a little bit more because it’s such an important practice for me, I would love to get it in the hands of more people. I definitely think 2020, you’ll start to see more and more of our content, include elements of that nature.

    John: That’s fantastic, yeah, because I mean no business school ever tells you to do yoga or meditate because it’ll make you better at your job but clearly, it does.

    Madeline: Yeah. I mean this is the thing that I’m always looking for stories and behind the scenes of CEOs and leaders that I super admire and if you look, they all have some sort of practice, not necessarily yoga, a lot of them meditation though and visualization and then a lot of them, they have a pretty clear physical regimen.

    I think particularly, when you do something that’s such a heavy line of work, like when there’s so much time up in your brain to have something that is the opposite that’s about getting out of your brain and into your body is super, super valuable, just as a way to just let it go and for me, to distress and to let my mind switch off for a little bit so that I can have a different experience and decompress a little bit.

    John: That’s really fantastic. Were you always open to sharing? I mean it sounds like — did at any point in your career, you ever think hey, this has nothing to do with the work we’re doing, maybe I shouldn’t bring this to the office?

    Madeline: Yeah. You know, I’ve been lucky to work in companies primarily that have had cultures that are really about bringing your whole self to work, and a lot of what I do these days is teaching people whether I’m coaching or leading course work or even when I’m consulting with a client, really when you boil that down, it’s teaching.

    That’s the same thing that I do in the yoga studio, and so I see a lot of interplay between the two. The concepts may be very different and when I get in the yoga studio, I’m typically landing some sort of intention and some sort of mental process that I want students to think through and move through as we’re going through the series of pastures, whereas when I’m teaching a course or coaching a client, the content’s very different.

    But I see that there’s a lot of integration there. For me, I tap into what I consider flow. So flow is any experience that you have where you are just connected to the energy of what you’re doing so much so that you don’t really have to think about what you’re doing. It’s just this thing where you can dive in. I’m sure you know this experience, John because it’s like when you’re hosting the podcast or probably when you’re speaking on a main stage or when you’re writing for the book, that’s flow for you. You just find it and it’s there. You don’t really have to seek or prepare or train for it.

    For me, I find flow when I’m teaching, when I’m writing or when I’m speaking. For me, I also see a yoga as just this perfect complimentary place for me to continue that practice of finding and diving in to that energy, and that totally influences my ability to flow in all of the rest of my work.

    John: Absolutely, because it definitely carries over. If you’re able to talk about this or better yet teach it like you did, I mean that lights you up. If you’re that excited while you’re at work, I mean it’s only going to spill over to the work that you’re doing but also the people around you are going to feel that energy.

    Madeline: Totally. My team is all women. The majority of my team are also moms. It’s something that I share with my team too in hopes that they can find a practice that sustains them because I think when you’re a working woman, you really need good outlets or even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you need outlets.

    For me, I share it with my team not to pressure them to be like oh, you got to go workout, look at how this benefits me, look at how I’m able to juggle all this stuff. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for this complimentary thing that allows me to let go this way. And so I share it with my team as to encourage them and members of my team come to my classes sometimes and they definitely know it’s a part of my life.

    John: Fantastic, yeah because I mean it’s not a distraction because I mean the old school mentality and what professionalism tries to tell us is that these outside of work things are distractions and they’re actually enhancers.

    Madeline: Totally.

    John: It’s so cool to hear it first hand from you. Is there anything specific that those companies did to make that culture be where you can share hobbies and passions?

    Madeline: I, at one point, worked for Intuit. I will say that Intuit, when they say bring your whole self to work, they really, really mean it. It was super, super cool as you know, a company that scale too, 8,000 Plus employees really walk the walk, and so they allowed us and encouraged us to bring our whole selves to work and they also have amazing benefits around health and fitness so like when you’re an Intuit employee, they’ll buy you a Fitbit because tracking your health data obviously gets them health insurance benefits but they have a really big culture that encourages fitness.

    You get a gym and wellness benefits. So basically, half of my gym fees or yoga classes were covered for the year. It’s definitely an integration and encouragement. I think that any company can benefit from doing that because quite frankly, if you’re paying out of pocket for employees’ healthcare like anything that you can do to encourage people to be moving particularly if they have desk jobs like let’s be honest, we are not meant to sit on a desk all day. I definitely feel the impact of it on my body.

    I think that just trying to figure out ways that companies can make that part of a standard and encourage people to do it is huge. I’m starting to see more and more companies do things like bring in yoga instructors or bring in personal trainers or things like that, and although that’s something I can do for my team quite yet, I’m still on the smaller side, but it’s something that I would love to be able to do as we grow.

    John: Right, for sure or you just do it yourself.

    Madeline: Yeah. We’re taking a stretch break.

    John: That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. What great examples. How much is it the tone at the top and how much is it just somebody in their little small circle creating that atmosphere to share?

    Madeline: I think it does have to come from top-down because we talked about just a little bit ago about whether or not the company believes that these things are a distraction and quite frankly, leadership has to create the space for it, right? Sometimes, in my case, it’s actual physical space.

    When I worked at Avalara, they had a gym space at the office which is how I was able to teach a pilates class there. It also helped that TRX was a major client of theirs, and so they had a bunch of fitness equipment that was donated by actual clients of the company, which is cool but again, that’s a corporate decision to create space for employees to take care of themselves.

    I do think it has to come from top-down. I also think it makes a huge difference in terms of how a leader takes care of themselves because that leader is setting an example for others. It’s going to determine who you attract as well to your organization because people want to be around people that they aspire to be like or they want to emulate or that they’re inspired by quite frankly.

    Having a leader of an organization who, not only is healthy but also talks about the things that they do outside of just being a leader of that organization to maintain that state of balance and wellbeing is really critical to opening up the door where people feel like they can come and share the things they do outside of work that help them maintain balance inside of the organization.

    John: Yeah, because I mean modelling that behavior of what you want is the easiest way to get everyone else to buy in and to be that way. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe have a passion that they think has nothing to do with their job or no one’s even going to care?

    Madeline: My main advice would be to really dedicate time to it. I think that it’s hard to see the impact if it’s something that you’re only doing sporadically. For me, I live and die by my calendar. It defines what I do all day everyday even on weekends. I live and die by that calendar which means that if I want to be able to get this in, I have to put it on my calendar. The first way I did that was by teaching, which means today at 4:30 and on Thursday at 6:45, I will be teaching.

    That is a commitment that I hold and it’s on my calendar that got me started, but then when I wanted to bump the level up, what I do now is every Sunday, because I have a husband who’s a firefighter and firefighters have really sporadic schedules, so his schedule is different every week. So every Sunday, we sit down and we do the calendar for the week and in that process, I’m putting on my calendar these are the two or three, in addition to the Wednesday I’m teaching that I’m going to be going to this week, because part of being a yoga teacher means you get free access to the studio which is awesome.

    I really wanted to start taking advantage of that but it wasn’t enough for me to say like oh, yeah. I want to go to two classes a week. I have to put it on the calendar. My big thing is if it’s something that you want to dive into deeper, make time for it and make consistent time for it, so that then you could start realizing oh, wow. My stress levels have dropped or I’m tapping into this whole level of flow and creativity inside my work that I didn’t have before. Then you can start to realize like the tangible benefits of these things and that makes it that much stickier as a habit that you can carry forward.

    John: That’s exactly it. Sometimes, you’re super busy or whatever, whatever the regular pattern is, maybe it’s once a month for some people but whatever it is, don’t let it slide. I’ve talked to so many people in my consulting where that passion for whatever they had, when dormant and then now it’s extinct, and it’s like oh, my gosh. Wow. You forgot what you loved to do? It’s so easy to get sucked in to all work all the time and more hours and do better work. I mean you’re already doing great work. It’s not going to resolve itself. It’s really great to hear.

    Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to rapid-fire question me since I so rudely started the whole episode by just peppering you with questions. If you have two or three, and I ready, it’s all yours.

    Madeline: Hoodies or button-downs?

    John: Oh, wow. I’m not a hoody guy. I do not like hoodies. It’s too much going on in the back of my head. I don’t know. Whatever the alternative is to a hoodie, button-down, I’ll take it.

    John: Right.

    Madeline: How about sand or snow? Would you rather be on a beach or on a mountain?

    John: Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. That’s a really tough one. I’ll go beach, I guess. I mean I think because I’m spoiled, I live in Denver, so the mountains are always here, so I don’t always have the beach, so I guess it’s a little bit more of a treat in my mind.

    Madeline: Okay. Hotdogs or hamburgers?

    John: Hamburgers, hands down.

    Madeline: Yes. All the way.

    John: Awesome. Well, very cool. Hopefully, I passed, and we could still be friend, so that’ll be good.

    Madeline: Yeah. Flying colors.

    John: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? Madeline. This was really fun.

    Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Madeline in action or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com, all the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.

    Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use, and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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