When a Prominent Yoga Studio Owner avoids Paying Her Bills.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jul 20, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

Integrity in Mindful Business Community: Walking our Talk when the Going gets Tough.

(Walking our Talk) (Sucks, Sometimes). (But it’s far better than the alternative) (Not being able to fully respect he or she we see in the mirror)

A few years ago, I had a big happy (stressful, tiring) business called a magazine. Humans paid to read it, nationally, in Whole Foods and Pharmacas and Book Stores and such. Yadayada. Then, we jumped online. Which meant, suddenly, I’d killed millions of dollars of value. I had to let my staff go, and give up my office. I got rid of my car (I prefer biking anyways). My home went into foreclosure. It was like a cowboy song…you know, I lost just about everything.

And in our transition only a few businesses stuck with us. I didn’t blame our longtime partners for deserting us in our hour of need—after all, we had no readers, online, at first. They had no one to advertise to.

But I reallllly appreciated those few folks who, in return for an insanely wonderful deal, stuck with elephant, getting an ad for a year. It’s now been 3.5 years, online, and one of those heroic friends still hasn’t paid his bills. Instead, experiencing financial difficulty of their own, they’ve paid us $20/month, or something, for years. They owe us $140, now, and have declined to pay in full, though said teacher travels extensively and gives talks and interviews about yoga and the business of yoga. I get that he needs to promote himself, and his studio, in order to succeed. But…$140. It’s been years.

It pisses me off, to put it straightforwardly. It’s been a bit of a timesuck for my accountant and myself and one of our staff members.

It seems a bit out of the line of personal integrity, to put it more constructively.

In the months and first years after I killed our print magazine and took things online, I frequently had to click on an email, turning it from bold to normal font, or pick up a phone call from someone I owed money to. I did it every time. It was hard as f**k to pick up a phone and have nothing but my heart, and word, and character to offer. But in picking up the phone or answering that email—though I felt like avoiding such—I found that I liked my heart, that my word meant something, that I had character. That was a strangely somehow surprising and welcome discovery. “I’m not a douchebag! Whew.”

And that’s our yoga. Our path. Our meditation. Our prayer. Our seva. Our service. Our word: when the going gets tough, we cowboy up. Not out of machismo, not with false words, but with simple honesty.

I’m happy to be able to say that elephant and my word is gold. We’ve paid everyone back from our days as a magazine…(I’m still paying the IRS back, on monthly autopay, that is, for not having paid taxes on my nearly-foreclosed-now-barely-fine home/office for 1.5 years, but that’s none of your business, get outta here)…and in so doing I gained in self-respect. And that’s a gift I’d happily pay for.

Moral of the story: let’s answer that tough call. Open and respond to that tough email. Let’s settle our debts.

So let me repeat: other people are other people. They have their good, and bad situations. I can’t know why we’re not getting paid by my friend. But…we each are responsible for our own integrity.

Without it, what do we have left?




About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


6 Responses to “When a Prominent Yoga Studio Owner avoids Paying Her Bills.”

  1. OhWoe says:

    great post. So true. I have a yoga business and advertised in Yoga Journal for years giving them mucho bucks each year as I built the business and had some funding however eventually it caught up with me the overspending on print ads and the ads were not producing the return on investment and I found myself with a few month's bills for ads which was thousands of dollars as the economy collapsed and I saw my own poor judgement and monumental mistake…yoga journal had sold me larger ad space at "big discount" as my last ads and I thought that would help the situation but it didn't it in fact made it worse, they sold me the bigger space even as I still owed payment on the previous ads and therefore was stuck with huge bill as the business was surviving with no national advertising and much reduced revenue. When I did have money I paid as much as a grand at a time to try and pay it off, then for a few months this year…. I started to ignore the emails and fell behind and didn't pick up the phone because I resented the persuasive selling of the ads spaces.. And it was easy to do a few months but not longer. Back to paying even minimal amounts monthly. I spent the last two years making payments because my word meant more than anything. I was honest and told them when I could and when I couldn't and am now back on track. Nothing matters in the end except our integrity which is what we hold through the power of our word. It is one of the great things about ya'all. In the end it is the power of your word that can move mountains and ….make businesses succeed.

  2. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks for sharing. The good news is that, in doing the right thing, in biting the bullet of our own karma, we get to like ourselves at the end of the day, and feel wholeheartedly good about our path as we walk it.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Rory: Nicely done and well said. Namaste.

    Awaken Your Inner Goddess: Karma is only a bitch, if you are.

    Integrity is like pregnancy you either have it, or you don't. Yes, some days it's hard to answer that phone, open that envelope or tell that truth, but it is the only way to truly love your life and your Self within your life. Practice makes it easier, as does the knowledge of the law of karma. Don't make the mistake my late husband made. He thought that Karma came back to you in the same area you screwed up in. It doesn't. Bad karma comes back to you in whatever area means the most to you.

  4. cathy says:


  5. […] When a Prominent Yoga Studio Owner avoids Paying Her Bills. […]

  6. […] ago, I turned my magazine online, and in so doing gave up my car, office, staff, house went into foreclosure. Then, kicking me while I’m down, I had an epicly scary though brief relationship, one that I […]