Bold Investments for Healing Professionals with Sara Intonato
Hey there, Sara, welcome to The Bold Leadership Revolution Podcast. Thanks for coming on the show today.
Sara Intonato: Thank you so much for having me.
Tara Newman: So what I want to say is, I've known Sara for a long, long time. We have known each other for 13 years. I have been a student of hers in the yoga studio. We have been friends. She's been a client. We've had this wonderful symbiotic relationship. And what I realized today as I was reflecting back on having you on the show, Sara, that when I met you, you were probably 24.
Sara Intonato: I think I was younger than that.
Tara Newman: Yeah, like we're about seven years apart. And I was 30.
Sara Intonato: Yeah, I was in my early 20s, 23.
Tara Newman: Yeah. You had just started teaching yoga. You were just out of school. You weren't married yet. You didn't have kids yet.
Sara Intonato: Feels a long time ago.
Tara Newman: Like a lifetime ago.
Sara Intonato: Yeah.
Tara Newman: And my first impression, I've shared this with Sara, but I really want to share this with my audience that it wasn't my first time in a yoga studio, I'd been to various yoga studios before. I've had various yoga teachers before. And what I really liked about Sara is, she was the most business savvy yoga teacher I had ever met. Do you remember me telling you that?
Sara Intonato: I remember you telling me that and thinking, "Really?" I was sort of in disbelief. I thought that having gone to school for marketing and organizational behavior that yoga was my ticket out of business. So I was thinking, "No way. I'm not going back into that business world again." So when you said that, I was definitely flattered, but at the same time I thought, "I'm not going down that path." And here I am 15 years later, and the joke's on me because I've totally gone down that path, in a really joyful and unexpected way. But yeah, you called it from the start.
Tara Newman: I remember thinking to myself, when you told me this story that you graduated from Boston University. Where did you graduate from?
Sara Intonato: Exactly, right.
Tara Newman: Okay. Boston University, which is like a top-notch school. You have to be a real smarty-pants to go there and your parents have to cough up quite a bit of money.
Sara Intonato: And I had to have to mention academic scholarship.
Tara Newman: So I'm like, I remember you telling me the story when you told your parents like, "No, I'm good. I'm going to be a yoga teacher.
Sara Intonato: Oh, gosh, they're saints. They really are. I have to say they weren't so shocked when I said it. I think they thought it was a phase. I mean, I got the questions of, "Have you joined the cults? Do we need to be concerned?" But they trusted me. They trusted my judgment. And as my mom said, when I surprised them again a year later and told them I was up and going to India by myself for a month.
My mother said she was really nervous and really surprised. But she had to sort of talk herself through the process to calm herself down and said, "Sara was not an impulsive child. She does not make impulsive decisions. So I'm just going to trust that she's not impulsive with this either." And I think that she was absolutely right. And it turned out to be the first of 10 India trips that have totally changed my life. And yeah, my parents have digested it by now, and the irony is that I use my business background more than I ever expected to.
Tara Newman: I mean, well, you've come a really long way in those years and I really... Before we even get too much further into the conversation, I just wanted to share a little bit with my audience about what this podcast episode's about, why you're here, what you're going to be sharing with us, because Sara is one of the founding members of The BRAVE Society. And as you can see from just this short conversation, I'm sure you don't even doubt why I asked her to be a founding member. She really embodies so many of the values that we have: being bold, resilient, abundant, values driven, and endurable.
When I picked founding members, I tried to pick women who represent very different industries, very different walks of life, to have a diversity there so that other women when they look at The BRAVE Society can see themselves in someone there. Because what was shocking to me that I realized much later on, is that while I very much felt innately called to leadership, not all women do. And so, over the years, it's become apparent to me how important it is for women to have a picture of someone, a story of someone that they can relate to who has stood up and raised their hand and said, "Yeah, I see myself as a leader, I'm a leader." And you're that person for so many women.
And so that's really why I chose you to be a founding member, and why we're here today having this conversation and really talking about more deeply some of the reasons why maybe you stood up and said yes to being a founding member of The Brave Society, and what you're up to now, and how you really lead within your business as well as The Brave Society because you bring such a wonderful energy to the group, the founding members or their... Their sole purpose is for their energy.
I don't know if I've ever really talked about that in great detail before because I think energy is something hard for people to digest. But basically, that you're there holding the energy of what it looks like to be all of these values that we have. And that when you show up and you interact in the group, you come from this value system.
Sara Intonato: I love it. I love that you are talking about energy because you're speaking my language.
Tara Newman: Of course, I am.
I'd actually love to hear more and I'd love for you to share. So you've been to India 10 times.
Sara Intonato: Yeah.
Tara Newman: I don't consider you a yoga teacher anymore. I feel like you have shed that skin.
Sara Intonato: I think You're right. I know you're right actually. Well, I still use the ancient science of yoga with my students, what we're really focused on is how to transform their lives in a way that is sustainable and supportive. And some of the constructs that were commonly used in the yoga industry just were not working for the students who I see in a one-on-one format. And my jam is that if it's not sustainable, it's not happening. And for people who travel a lot for work, for people who live really full lives, getting out of the house, driving to the studio, doing practice for an hour and a half, driving home from the studio, and then showering and starting their day was not sustainable. And it also wasn't giving them the results that they desired for stress management and for really, getting out of the busy trap and focusing on what is essential and what really brings clarity of life, because it was not a customized environment.
They were walking into a large class and being at the whim of the teacher, as opposed to the teacher really having a relationship with them really getting to know them. And for me, that's what really lights me up is finding someone's situation as an individual really unique, and creating something sustainable, which involves yoga, which involves the yoga sutra, which involves for some people meditation, for other people chanting, for other people the use of essential oils, for other people journaling, and for some people all of the above, to give them the tools that they need to have a different state of clarity and awareness for the long haul. Not just when it's easy, and not just one life is really convenient.
So I really am selling transformation. If you want sustainable transformation, that's the type of person who I want to work with.
Tara Newman: Yeah, I remember the profound realization when I was doing yoga that it was less about what happened on the mat and more about what happened off the mat, and how you took yoga out into the world once I left that classroom environment. And brought in things like meditation and mindfulness and really slowing down my peace and really bringing some of those sutras and things like that into my everyday life to make change off the mat.
Sara Intonato: Absolutely, because let's face it, even the most devoted yoga practitioners are off their mat 22 hours of the day. And that's when it really has a chance to change your life for the better when you're not reacting as quickly or as much to all the stimuli around you. When you have more patience, when you are able to detect your own needs, when you need to invigorate, when you need to push pause, and you don't see that if you're going at 1000 miles an hour all the time.
Tara Newman: Yeah, you and I talked about it as ancient wisdom for the modern world.
Sara Intonato: Yes.
Tara Newman: It's kind of what you do. And then what's been really fun to watch you do, as well as kind of have two aspects of your business where what you've done really well is you've mastered the art of being a yoga teacher, delivering transformation through these ancient practices, through this ancient science and wisdom, and you've mastered the art of being in business. What you're doing now, and more importantly, why you're doing it now. But what you're doing now is starting to combine both of those, and working with other yoga teachers or wellness entrepreneurs, so to speak, and to help them break out of some of these cycles that we're seeing affect primarily women, but also men in these helping and serving types of businesses. Well, tell us about this. Tell us what you're doing, and then let's talk about some of the challenges these people are facing because we might have some of these people listening to our podcast today.
Sara Intonato: Sure, I work with yoga teachers and other healing professionals in both one on one format, and also I'm gearing up to work with them in a group format, in a 12-week program, and I'm calling it what you didn't learn in yoga teacher training. Because so many people come out of teacher training, they know how to teach class, they might know the basics of yoga philosophy. No one's telling them how to do their taxes quarterly...
Tara Newman: Nobody. Nobody's telling this?
Sara Intonato: No, nobody. Nobody's telling them how to make intelligent investments in their business. Nobody is telling them how to do things in a way which suits their unique needs. So they're stuck in this mentality of go to the studio, teach the class, go home. Even though this cycle is pretty broken in our culture, studios are closing left and right, teachers are being paid terrible salaries for the most part. And I've seen many brilliant teachers' burnout. Have side jobs like waitressing or singing at weddings, which is fine if you love that, but many of them don't love it. They're just really stuck in a cycle of lack. They don't know how to own their value. They are in many cases, addicted to getting certificates because they think of the certificate as the thing that's going to finally make them prosperous in their business.
Sara Intonato: So, they'll invest $3000, $4,000 in a next level yoga teacher training, in Reiki certifications. But if you say, "Hey, why don't you take that 3000 and put it into working with a business coach?" They get really nervous because it's just completely unfamiliar territory. And it's not that they don't want to, it's that they don't have anyone to look up to, as a successful case study, to say, "Oh, look what this person did and it worked. And they broken out of this cycle." So they stay stuck, and my job is to show them it doesn't have to be this way.
Tara Newman: I love how you're approaching it too, because, first of all, the whole concept that they haven't learned this in yoga teacher training, this happens with a lot of professionals. They teach you how to be the technical expert, but they don't actually teach you how to out and make money as the technical expert, and how to master all of those pieces. So, really you just become a really poor, burned out, disillusioned technical expert.
Sara Intonato: Yes. Many people become yoga teachers because they love yoga, not because they know anything about business. The same is true for music teachers, or ballet teachers, or any other type of teacher, or healing profession. So even a massage therapist could love massage, maybe it's healed their life and changed their whole existence. But they don't realize when they're signing up to do that as a profession, they're signing up to be an entrepreneur. And for many people, years go by before they digest that there has to be some type of union between the two if they want to survive successfully, let alone thrive.
So I think one of the things I'm really passionate about sharing with people is that yoga and business can coexist. They can do so joyfully and ethically and beautifully, and it's not something to be scared of. But, it will take time, energy, and your resources to master having both.
Tara Newman: So what are some of the biggest hurdles that you're seeing for yoga teachers and them... Well, let's back this up a second. Let's back this up a second. Why should a yoga teacher... Because I see this a lot, yoga teachers, they want to do good in the world, they want to help people, they want to heal people, and they feel for whatever reason that they shouldn't charge a lot of money for this. And I think yoga studios are really perpetuating the cycle where teachers are paid maybe 20, $30 a class if they fill the class with like 15 people.
And then what are some of the reasons why yoga teachers should want and desire to make more money?
Sara Intonato: There are so many. The first is that unless you're living under a rock, you need money. You need to be able to live a life that is joyful and somewhat easy if you want to be able to really give of yourself. I'm not saying life is without obstacles. I certainly have plenty like anyone else. But you can't really give off yourself if you are in a place of struggle. If you're in a place of fear, And I think many healing professionals have this low grade fear all the time of not being able to pay their debt, not being able to save for retirement, nobody's shown them how to do the stuff. Tax time comes around, and forget it. It's the mindset issues that people have, because they're just not in a state of awareness.
And if you really want to be generous, you have to be able to come from a place of abundance. You can't be generous with your time, your energy, or your money if you're struggling, if you're running from one session to the next, to the next, to the next because you're chasing after money just to get by. And this really hit me when I got into a much more abundant place in my business, and I was able to be so much more philanthropic than I ever was before. Both with giving money, donating time to causes which were important to me, also giving free content.
I was now able to write blogs and be interviewed on people's podcasts because I had the time, because I wasn't struggling anymore. So I think there's a little bit of this wishy-washiness of people, and like you said, studios perpetuating the mentality of this should be for free, then people doing it, but they're not fully present because they are worried beneath the surface about themselves about their families. And if you really want to show up and give something and be generous and volunteer your time and energy in a joyful way, without attachment to any type of result, you have to be in a steady place yourself first.
There's also I think, something really important happening. And this is certainly happening in The BRAVE Society where we're seeing many women step up and support families. We're seeing many women support elderly parents. And this, I think, is something which can only be successful if you're in a place of thriving. And I think this is crucial. I have a special needs child for anyone who knows me. They know this is a huge part of my life. And because I've been really focused and taking a lot of conscious steps in my business to be more successful, I have a lot more time with him than I used to. I have a lot more energy to give both my children at the end of the day.
On the weekends we unplug, and we have time together. And you know, you have children that were never getting these years back. And so for me to really be able to pour my focus into my personal life, into causes which matter to me, into family, I have to be in a place of abundance and success. Otherwise, I might physically be with family, but my mind is thinking about, "What am I going to do for my next business project? Should I sign this contract, should I not? And I'm mentally someplace else.
So I think if you really want to thrive in your spirit, in your energy, in how you spend your time, it's crucial to build up a place in your business where you have enough for your needs to be met. And that looks different from person-to-person. I'm not telling anyone they need to make X amount of dollars per year, because that's something that is unique to each individual. But I know that you can't be generous in any way, if you're stuck in a cycle of lack.
Tara Newman: Yeah, so many women that I talked to you have this connection between success and burnout. That the more successful they become, the more they'll burn out. The more money they make, the more tired they will be. The more they will have to work, the harder they will have to work. And they're going to get sick and all these horrible things are going to happen to them if they're more successful and have money. And the reality is, I have my own health issues which I'm open about on this podcast. Without my ability to earn a supportive living, I wouldn't be able to afford some of the treatments and supplements and therapies that I'm getting. So my business is actually in service to my health, not in disservice to my health. And that's kind of what you're saying around like, your businesses in service to your family, your business is in service to your philanthropy, and not a detractor from these things. It makes you more of who you are.
It's my mission, and I've talked about this before as well, to create more wealth in the world for myself and others. I say myself first because I can't do anything for anybody else until I do it for myself, for lots of reasons, the whole cliche with putting the oxygen mask on first. And that's really the energy in which that we bring to The Brave Society that we're all here as a collective of women to create wealth for ourselves and others. And everything you just said is such a wonderful trail and manifestation, physical manifestation of that mission.
Sara Intonato: Thank you. It's such a vital point. I think one of the things nobody tells you in yoga teacher training or any wellness or healing profession, and I've had this come up time and again when I've done research around the people I work with, or want to work with. They say, nobody teaches you how to put yourself first. Nobody teaches you that your needs can come before the studio owners or before the clients. Nobody teaches you that it's okay to put boundaries around your own personal yoga practice. It's shocking how many teachers I meet whose practice is suffering because they're feeling compelled to chase a sale when they have the chance, and they're putting their own well-being last. And I take a stand for saying that's not okay.
First of all, you can't sell something that you're not doing or that you don't believe in. So you have to take care of that. But also, you're setting the example. Just like people hire you, Tara. I hired you, and I love working with you because I know you practice what you preach. I know that you're doing the work on yourself and in your business. And I think I take it very seriously that is up to me to set this example for other people in the wellness community and small business owners too.
Tara Newman: Thank you. When we change the world around us changes. And I know that people... I mean, people have told me they have seen you change and they've witnessed how you lead in the world as being very different now than ever before. What do you think that moment was when you were like, "Oh my gosh, I've had enough. I need to make a change. I can't keep going on this way?"
Sara Intonato: That's a great question. I think it had been years of putting a lot of pressure on myself. And even though I was a savvier business mind than many yoga teachers, I was doing everything alone. And that means when something went well, it was great. When something was really challenging, I shouldered that burden alone. I didn't have anyone to share my successes with without sounding like I was bragging. I didn't have anyone to sound off on when I had a failure which every business owner has, by the way. And I didn't have any support in helping me pick myself back up and try again. And I just hit a point where I thought, "I either need to find something different, or I'm going to have to quit." Because it just felt like a really heavy burden to carry by myself.
Tara Newman: I know, so many of us, it's so hard to ask for support. I think we're pretty dang conditioned to be a go it alone, especially if you are a high achieving woman, and even men. Even sometimes more so men, where asking for support is seen as weakness. And so, once you had that inkling that you wanted to get some support, what happened for you immediately after making that decision? Maybe, you didn't even officially get the support then, but you decided that you were going to get support.
Sara Intonato: I felt so much more confident in myself. And of course, when you feel confident, you're more attractive to clients. So it's sort of like that needy woman on a date energy. I was able to let that go and I hen started attracting new clients. Clients who are more committed, because I was really committed. Instead of being in this wishy-washy energy of, "Should I stick with this? Should I quit?" I really was committed to stay in the course and trying something different. So because I was more committed, I started attracting really committed clients. So no longer do I have clients who cancel at the last minute 99% of the time because they are just as committed as I am to this work. And this is true of both the students who I teach yoga in all types of ancient wisdom to, and the yoga teachers who I mentor. They show up. They do the work.
So I noticed that almost immediately and it allowed me to become much more focused on the results they were getting. So because I was no longer thinking of myself as $1 per hour yoga teacher, I was able to really focus on my clients in a deeper way. I was able to take the focus off of myself and really ask myself, "How am I able to serve this person? What does that look like? How could I give them an experience that powerfully changes their lives?" And it was exciting for me. I think I've had that level of excitement for my work ever since, even as things have been flawed and changed. Because I knew that I had somebody supporting me always, reminding me that I could do this, reminding me that it was okay to do something different from everyone else my industry. And I never had that before. And the changes were profound.
Tara Newman: Yeah, I think you said something before about not working dollar per hour anymore. And I think it was because when you make those decisions, you start to value yourself differently.
Sara Intonato: Yes.
Tara Newman: Just by making the decision, you have valued yourself differently. And that in itself is a perspective shift.
Sara Intonato: I had never thought of myself in terms of the value that I offered. For years, here I was helping people change their lives, relieve stress, be in better health, have better boundaries around their self-care and their energy, and never once until I had made that commitment, did I think of myself in terms of the value I was bringing people. I just was thinking of myself in this dollar per hour mentality. And it wasn't until I pulled back and I was able to say, "You know, Sarah, you're helping people do something much bigger here. Why don't we focus on what that is? How you get people there successfully, what that feels and looks like, and how does your pricing fit into that?"
Because the reality is that I was never giving someone just an hour of doing asana or physical poses, it was always so much deeper than that. And so it enabled me to see myself and my business in a completely different light.
Tara Newman: That's such a tremendous perspective. If people who are listening here today, what is one thing you want them to take away from this conversation that we had because you've dropped some really good nuggets, and I always like to bring it back together at the end and give a key takeaway or inspire somebody to take one action. Would that be from your perspective?
Sara Intonato: Go do the scary thing.
I was terrified before I signed on to work with you. I often tell clients who are signing on with me, and it's a big leap for them and they're nervous, that I know exactly how they feel. Because the day I went to put my payment information into your website or your invoice, I was actually sweating, and I was probably shaking, and I was nervous, not because of the money, it was the biggest investment I had ever made in my business at that point. But I was shaking and sweating because I knew life as I knew it would be different after that, and investing in myself was part of that.
I knew that I was going to bring my A game to this work. I was taking it seriously. There was no way I couldn't take this type of investment seriously. My whole life is different because of that. Goals have been met and surpassed, new goals have been set my relationships with not just my family, my friends, but with people who support me, who I've met through our community have changed my life.
And none of it would have happened if I had said, "Oh, but I can't make this investment because I'm broke or because I'm struggling or because I don't have that money saved all ready." And instead, I said, "I'm going to do this, I'm going to make this happen, because it's time for me to take ownership of my business and my life." And I was I scared? Yes, 100%.
So I want to tell everyone listening that you can keep reinventing the wheel on your own. I certainly tried that for a long time. And if you're waiting for the big leap, to be super cushy and comfortable it's not going to be and that's not a real investment, that's not going to challenge you. That's not going to encourage you to grow.
So find that investment that you know you want, that you know is going to change your life, that mentor you know is the right fit for you, it feels good, and take the leap and do it. Because the doing it all on your own has come and gone, it doesn't serve anyone anymore. So do the scary thing and it will change your life if you show up for it fully.
Tara Newman: I love that. That was like we rehearsed that and we totally did it.
Sara Intonato: We didn't.
Tara Newman: That's awesome. Well, Sara, tell everybody where they can find you if they want to connect with you outside of this podcast episode.
Sara Intonato: You can of course find me in The Brave Society. I love being in there. And you can find me on my website, Sara yoga sarayoga.com, or on Instagram at Sara Intonato. I don't spend a lot of time on other social media channels, but I love Instagram and I often do market research with my audience there. So I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions, and I can't wait to connect.
Tara Newman: Sara has a highly valuable Instagram story practice going on over there. So I do recommend everybody go and find her and she's got great tips not only if you're a yoga teacher, but on meditation. She's got some really great freebies over there on Instagram, so definitely go check her out. Thank you so much for being here with us today, Sara.
Sara Intonato: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.
Now, if this conversation was interesting to you and felt unique and a little different, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to take me up on my invitation to join The Brave Society. So if you're a female small business owner, this is likely your community. If you're resonating with this podcast and the things we're talking about over here, because they are very much the essence of how we talk about things in The BRAVE Society.
The BRAVE Society was founded on three basic principles. One community, how can we come together and become a marketplace of business owners where we can do business together, where we can open doors for each other, where we can collaborate with like minded credible business owners? Two, nobody should ever short change their leadership development. I see too many times women spread thin making investments in their businesses as they grow and short changing their leadership development. And I'm here to solve that problem. You can make the investments that you need to make and say your marketing, or your branding, or your website, and develop yourself as a leader. And the third thing that we come together for, is to really stand at the pinnacle of our leadership, which John Maxwell talks a lot about in his work. And he says that, "We're the pinnacle of our leadership when we are a leader who develops leaders who develops leaders."
And what I ask the women of The Brave Society to do is to take what they learn in this Brave Society and bring it into the world, into their communities, into their families, to their clients and their customers, and to really continue to develop more leaders on this planet.
If this sounds interesting to you, I want you to go over to the show notes and click on the link, or you can come find me on Instagram at the Tara Newman and ask me any questions you need to about joining The Brave Society.
If you found this podcast valuable help us develop more bold leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues and other bold leaders. Also, if you haven't done so all ready, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency and it's the one thing you can do to help us out here at the Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it.
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