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Finding Your Edge with CEO Sky Meltzer

What do leading a company, practicing yoga, and raising children have in common? Just about everything, actually. We sat down with our CEO, Sky Meltzer, to hear what a little presence and breath can accomplish on the mat, in business and beyond.

Sky Meltzer

Since it is Father's Day, can you tell us a little about your kids?

Yes, of course. My favorite topic! My daughter is four and her name is Luciana. She is a master storyteller. She loves reading, dancing, and singing – and is just very bright and free-spirited.

Then I have a son named Henrik, or Huck. He’s two and a half years old so he’s just coming into his own as a little person. Right now he’s obsessed with animals – especially sea creatures. He has an incredible sense of humor, loves to laugh, and is attached to his mom’s right hip at the moment.

What has surprised you most about being a father?

Having children was always part of my vision, but as it got closer I became worried that life as I knew it would be over. To me, the most surprising thing is it’s not as hard as it seems… After all, only half of it is up to the parents. Kids have an amazing capacity to learn, adapt, and figure things out.

Are there any important lessons your dad taught you growing up?

A commitment to health, definitely. My dad is a doctor of preventative medicine so nutrition was always a central topic of conversation in my family. Seeing his work treat all sorts of illnesses using meditation, diet and nutrition has been a huge influence on my siblings and me. We grew up vegetarian in a time when it was still unusual and had a daily routine of going for a run and jumping in the ocean as a family – no matter what the temperature – for some good old fashioned hydrotherapy.

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Did your parents do yoga?

They did, but I was allergic to it for the first twenty-five years of my life. I played competitive tennis instead and found every way to rebel against my new age upbringing. When friends came over it wasn't unusual for  my dad to be meditating, or my mom to be in a headstand. Meanwhile, I would be trying to hide incense and issues of Yoga Journal out of sight.

How funny! Now your office is filled with issues of Yoga Journal. How did that happen?

After a few leg injuries, I lost the level of athleticism I had enjoyed from my tennis training. My sister finally dragged me to a yoga class and it was so hard. I was shaking and could barely touch my knees, let alone my toes – but I was inspired by the challenge. I was totally humbled watching people bounce up to handstands with so much strength and grace. From there I fell in love with yoga, especially ashtanga yoga. It changed me physically, but also started to positively impact every other aspect of my life.

What would you say your yoga practice has provided you with over the years?

Well, I met my wife in a yoga class. So I’m certainly grateful for that... It's been a huge source of strength and healing for injuries, as well as deeply therapeutic. But mostly, I use my practice as a way to stay spiritually grounded and connect to what is most important to me. It makes me a better dad, it makes me a better CEO, it makes me a better husband – it makes me a better me.

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How does yoga fit into your family’s routine?

My wife and I both practice at home often, so my kids are very familiar with it. They really love is to climb all over us, if I’m in plank, my son likes to tunnel underneath me. Or, if my wife does a video a few times, my daughter will memorize the instructions and recite a whole yoga class. We work on incorporating the principals of yoga in our house, too:  being present with each other, encouraging creativity, and embracing any opportunity to try and fall and learn – just like we do in yoga.

What does presence at home look like?

I always connect with my kids before I turn my phone on in the morning. We have a lot of rules around technology. We never have cell phones at the table, or in our rooms. It’s tough! Sometimes I’ll want to sneak in a quick email or text, but if I’m immersed in that and suddenly hear my kids trying to get my attention – it really makes me cringe to realize I am paying more attention to my device than to them.

Did becoming a father change the way you work?

It’s made me infinitely more discerning in how and where I spend my time. I’m an overachiever by nature and will do whatever it takes to get things done, but fatherhood taught me to trust and let go. My life is so full now as a father and CEO that I obsess less about the details that don’t matter as much.

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What is the best business advice you ever received?

Something a yoga teacher told me sticks out. “How you do anything, is how you do everything.”

What is the common thread between being a dad, a yogi, and a CEO?

In really challenging moments, yoga teaches us to focus on the breath and lean into what's happening. I think that's just as valid in fatherhood and business as it is in yoga. Raising kids and running a company both have an amazing way of pushing you to your edge but looking back, as the practice teaches us, the most difficult moments are often the most moving and personally transformative.

If you were going to give advice to a first-time father, what would it be?

Make the time to enjoy every minute of it. Stay as present as possible. And don’t forget – it’s a practice.

Sky Meltzer

Sky’s Manduka Selects:

The Black Mat PRO
eKO SuperLite
yogitoes Waterfall Midnight
Transcend Performance Striped Tank
The hOmme Short
The Local
Foam Roller

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