With BlackBerries buzzing and cell phones ringing, not to mention soccer mom responsibilities and planes to catch for business travel, trying to balance one's personal life with work is becoming harder and more pressured.
With BlackBerries buzzing and cell phones ringing, not to mention soccer mom responsibilities and planes to catch for business travel, trying to balance one's personal life with work is becoming harder and more pressured. No downtime for relaxation? Think again.
Tevis Gale integrated her love of yoga and meditation with her experiences in business and corporate culture to create Balance Integration, which offers relaxation and centering practices and tools to corporations throughout the country to help employees balance their work and personal lives. WWD spoke to Gale about her company, its beginnings and how what she teaches impacts the work life of her clients' employees.
WWD: What is Balance Integration?
Tevis Gale: Balance Integration offers on-site workshops that address employee engagement so they feel better, think better and lead better. The workshops range from business creativity to on-site yoga and meditation. They emphasize employee engagement and contribution with practical tools to immediately enhance work and life. Our clients include Google, Yahoo, MTV, Disney, White & Case, AOL, Viacom, Deutsche Bank and Chanel, and our programs fit into any corporate culture. Some clients put us into action à la carte to complement a specific initiative or support a specific team, while others use our programs as an ongoing work-effectiveness tool. -Carla O' Connor
WWD: How did the idea for the business come about?
T.G.: In the fall of 2001, after 13 years of working in corporate America, I started to wonder why so many people hate their jobs. Looking around me, it was clear who overengaged to the point of burnout and who had difficulty engaging at all.
In both cases, I saw there lacked a sense of centeredness in the midst of daily mayhem. I wondered how we can succeed, and [still] have a great day at work. I wasn't sure that there was any one answer for everyone, but I knew a couple of tools that would help. There was no doubt that my own yoga, meditation and self-growth efforts had made my success sustainable.
WWD: How did the business get to where it is now?T.G.: Robin Eletto, now vice president of human resources at Disney Publishing, ran human resources at my last employer. When we exchanged views on this aspect of the human element in corporations, she told me to let her know the minute I was ready to put programming together to tackle it, and several months and lots of study and program design hours later, one phone call to her landed our first client.
I then trained and hired other corporate-savvy yogis to help me serve clients, and later developed our training program. The company's growth was easily managed by a program manager and myself for quite a while, although now we have grown into a staff of 10. We also count over 150 corporate trained teachers and facilitators in our ranks and maintain a consulting presence that serves the East Coast out of New York, the West Coast out of Los Angeles and San Francisco and the mid-states out of Colorado.
WWD: What is your background?
T.G.: After earning a global M.B.A., I worked in global marketing and [held] strategic roles for such companies as Coca-Cola, UPS, AOL and IBM. I was living my dream of country-hopping, putting together multimillion dollar deals and managing business development teams across the Western Hemisphere. Fulfilling that dream simply gave way to my current passion, reintegrating the human being into corporate America.
WWD: How do your clients hear about you?
T.G.: Until now, it has been completely word of mouth. Just this year we began to invest in public relations to get out the message of the win-win of engagement at work. We have just hired our first sales person and anticipate more growth.
WWD: What makes Balance Integration different from other businesses that offer similar services?
T.G.: We address the human equation of corporations. After all, what are corporations other than groups of human beings organized around achieving a mutual objective? The adversarial relationship between work and life serves no one and simply leads to the same relationship between employee and employer.We saw that there are plenty of yoga studios that can send a teacher to a company [and] plenty of coaching consultants to provide mentorship to an executive team, but we also saw that no one was making these tools relevant to work-day challenges and available to the mass population in corporate America. Ceo's and vice presidents might have access to coaching or can attend pricey think tanks with top business gurus. They have a team of people to keep their big picture functioning. The normal folks need help with managing it all just as much, perhaps even more. Balance Integration has taken the tools one might get through executive privileges and created a model to make them available to the greater populations in corporate America...the soccer moms, the PTA dads, the success-obsessed singletons.
WWD: What do clients say the biggest improvement is after working with you?
T.G.: We've gotten great feedback. They've told us that Balance Integration's programs have helped their employees balance their personal and professional lives through a creative and fun approach that's focused and grounded. We've heard that companies have gotten overwhelming positive feedback from employees who felt that Balance Integration provided a way for them to reduce stress and create an environment that gives people an opportunity to find balance in the midst of their busy workdays, as well as give them a morale boost. Others who use our program as an ongoing tool have said employees feel it's a great perk and don't understand why everyone doesn't take advantage of the yoga classes and other offerings.
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