Zibby Owens: I’m here today with Randi Zinn who’s the author of Going Beyond Mom: How to Activate Your Mind, Body & Business After Baby. She’s a mindfulness and wellness expert and the founder of community Beyond Mom which offers expert interviews, lifestyle advice, stories, a podcast including “Going Beyond with Randi Zinn,” events and retreats for the ten thousand creative and productive moms in its membership. Randi is an Athleta ambassador and has partnered with many companies like SoulCycle, Physique 57, Appleseeds, and more. She’s a regularly featured expert in the media and has appeared in The New York Times, HuffPost, and others, plus on Fox 5 New York and more. She’s a certified yoga instructor and teacher and currently lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Welcome, Randi. Thanks for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Randi Zinn: Thanks for having me, Zibby.

Zibby: Going Beyond Mom, it’s an empire. It’s a website. It’s also a book. Tell me about the book part first. How did this book come about? What’s it about? What can moms get out of this book?

Randi: Similar to yourself, I’ve always been a writer. Expressing myself through written word felt very logical. Beyond Mom really did start as written content on my website. Because of that, when I started really inquiring of myself, what is that thing that I can give people — it’s one thing to invite people to come to an event, which I’ve done. It’s one thing to write an article on a website, which I’ve done. There’s something very special about creating something that belongs in the hands of people, and that you know can go home with them, and that the things that you’ve written can impact them somehow. Frankly from a business model, you need something to sell. It was a mixture of knowing that I needed that thing to sell and the fact that I finally felt like, after years of working with women and mothers, that I actually had some things to say. The book was where I wanted to land that wisdom.

Zibby: Now let’s go back. You started Beyond Mom in your apartment? Tell me the story. You were sitting there one day. You’re writing. Take me through the whole thing.

Randi: It didn’t start from, “I was sitting in my apartment one day.”

Zibby: I just made that up.

Randi: I know you did. If I went back in time, it might look that way. If I really go into the story, it started earlier than that. I was a yoga teacher for a handful of years while I was juggling a lot of other very complicated parts of my life, which I have a feeling we’ll get into. Yoga was my saving grace personally. It also became the place where I could take a lot of the struggles in my life, take the lessons I was learning from them, and help people. It was a very direct equation. My favorite part of teaching yoga was not so much about the poses. Although, I love the poses. They’re incredibly healing. I loved telling stories. That was where I dug the experience of teaching. If you’re a yoga person, you might know that as the dharma talk. The dharma talk is that moment in the beginning of class where you take a deep breath and then your teacher gives you some kind of nugget of wisdom. That was my favorite part. Then connecting that to the postures felt like this incredible opportunity to weave whatever I was going through and give something, a gift, to a people that could, in a way I might never know, help them.

When I look back, that was the beginning of Beyond Mom. This is before I had kids. It was this place where I could be one on one with another human being and be like, “I get it. I’m with you. I feel your pain. I have some ideas for you. Let’s talk about it. Let’s be in community together.” I was really, really hooked on that experience. I got pregnant. I was still teaching through my pregnancy. I knew pretty quickly as my belly got bigger and my back starting hurting that I wasn’t going to be schlepping around New York City teaching yoga the way I was. I inquired, what part of my teaching can come with me? That’s why I started writing and I would say, at the time, blogging. I wanted to continue telling the stories. I wanted to continue helping people. I wanted that one-to-one experience. For anybody who knows what motherhood community feels like, the beauty of it is that one-to-one experience. It’s that, “I’ve got that solution for you,” or “I don’t have a solution, but I feel you. I’ve been right with you.” Whatever that one-to-one experience is, that’s the most powerful part of a motherhood community. Really, that’s where the spirit of Beyond Mom started.

Then once I started writing and blogging and so early, early dabbling in social media — I really didn’t know anything at the time. This is semi-pre-Instagram when I really was experimenting with this. The nature of who I was started to come out in this voice of being a mother. Then I said, what’s next? I don’t really want to live on a computer. I want to be with people just like I was in the yoga studio. That’s where the very early Beyond Mom event experience started. For several years, that’s predominantly what I was doing. I was having everything from events that had a networking vibe to it, always a wellness/fitness vibe to it. I just wanted to create experiences for women to come together, enjoy whatever action they were doing, make connections that maybe they wouldn’t have made elsewhere, and always, always to feel elevated, to feel like they left a little better than when they walked in. I’m proud to say that over the years I have done focus groups when I’m figuring out what I’m doing next. I ask people, “Why do you hang out with me? There’s a lot of places you could be. There’s a lot of places you can go, a lot of people you can hang out with.” People always say that whenever they’ve interacted with Beyond Mom, they know that they’re meeting people who are like them in the heart space. They feel inspired. They’ve met women who they’ve become best friends with or collaborated with. It’s not because you give me something I need. It’s like, “I see you.” There’s a deeper space. At basic, I’m a spiritually oriented human. Everything I do comes from that place of service and connection to people.

Zibby: Wow. If people want to be a part of your events in your community, what should they do? Go to beyondmom.com? Just getting that out there right away.

Randi: Definitely, beyondmom.com is the place to sniff around and read some content, listen to my podcast — we’ll talk more about podcasts — understand more about my book, see a video book trailer about it. Of course social media, Instagram is definitely the place that I hang out a lot. My book and my podcast are probably the most concrete ways.

Zibby: Let’s talk about the podcast. When did you decide to start the podcast? How did you decide on the format on it? Who did you want to talk to? How has it grown over the years?

Randi: Like so many of us who are entrepreneurial in their spirit, are moms, we come up with a format to express what we have to say in a way that works in our life, hopefully. The podcast actually came, I want to say that it was somewhat after the book, I think. I want to say that it was.

Zibby: Say it. Just say it.

Randi: I think it was. Time mixes up.

Zibby: It doesn’t matter. No one knows except you.

Randi: Time mixes up in my head. The book happened. Then the podcast idea came because my daughter was born. This is now almost four years ago. I was in that familiar place that many of us understand. I’m going to be home a lot more now, but I don’t want to lose the spirit of what I’m doing. I had been really heavy into events for probably two years before that. I was out a lot. That’s why I know a lot of the people I know. I was out there meeting people. That was coming to a shift. I thought, how can I be here with this baby, with her on my boob, and how can I continue to talk about what I want to talk about? How can I continue to “network” — I’m doing quotes — “network” but not be out there? It seemed like a podcast was a really smart way to do that. I totally did it very experimentally. I don’t regret that. A really big limitation for a lot of people is sometimes just getting started. People think it needs to all be totally perfect and developed and produced to do it at all. I definitely fit into that category in other parts of things I’ve done. When it came to the podcast, I was like, wait, there is some technology on my computer. There’s a mic. Let me just start recording some things I have to say. That’s really how I started.

Now when I listen to those very early episodes, I kind of want to strike them from the record. I don’t want to say they suck because that sounds very judgmental. They’re just not as good as what’s happening now, but I started. I’m glad that I did. I started to bring people in who, to me, fit a Beyond Mom conversation, who I could dig into their stories and their motherhood experience and their productive experience in their lives and pick their brains. With each iteration of the podcast, it’s elevated. Like anything, you learn what to do, what not to do. You learn where it makes sense to invest, where you don’t need to invest. I quickly realized that I needed a great mic, good headsets, a good editor. Once I got the good editor, she said, “You need an intro and an outro.” We recorded those. Before I knew it, it had a much more polished feeling. Then over time what’s been really cool is my voice, as now I can say a thought leader, has really elevated. In the beginning, even as an example, the intro was some actress’s voice introducing the podcast. Right before this current season, I really sat with it. I was like, no, it should be me. It’s me. I’m the person talking about this podcast, not an actor’s voice. I recorded that. It felt so right. Now for this next season that will launch in January, I’m ready to edit that intro and shift it a tiny bit because there’s something I want to get more specific about. That’s the process. I really enjoy that process.

In terms of guests, I have interviewed some unbelievable people. What I’m really proud of is that there’s a really great mixture of well-known names, people who I’m like, “Oh, my god, I can’t believe I’m interviewing this person.” I’m almost a little nervous. It has a little bit of a splash, “Oh, you interviewed that person.” Some of the most powerful interviews have been with people that I personally know who have amazing stories to tell. I just want people to hear these stories. Those episodes, I’m so proud of. Interestingly, some of those have gotten more listens than with the well-known people because there’s something really magical there. I always want to keep that balance between the well-knowns and the people who maybe don’t have a famous name but are so wise.

The other thing that’s interesting in the evolution of the podcast, this brand very much did start in the voice of motherhood, Beyond Mom. It still is there in a lot of ways, but I always felt a calling to speak to women in general. I wasn’t sure what part of my brand would head in that direction, but it’s definitely become the podcast. That’s why the name of the podcast is called “Going Beyond,” not “Going Beyond Mom.” I’m interviewing women who are not mothers. I’m having conversations that are not just about motherhood. Although, some are. That feels really right because women need these conversations, not just mothers. The podcast has been a fantastic journey. Now bringing live events into it and live podcast recordings, it’s really becoming an exciting space to play.

Zibby: That’s awesome. I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel the same with what you were saying about more splashy guests versus non-splashy. That’s why I love having debut authors. I feel the same way. I’m like, gosh, I hope people listen to this one because this one’s a really good episode. I hope people aren’t just clicking based on the name of the author or “Do I know this author?” Some of the most intense conversations are with people whose books I might not have found otherwise and who have these amazing stories. I totally agree.

Randi: A hundred percent. Also, the other thing I’ve realized, no criticism to anybody, but as you know as a podcaster, you need the people who you interview to also promote the episode. That’s part of the deal. We’re out there trying to get our voice heard, our podcast listened to. When our guests share it, it means the world because listeners who might not know about our podcast hear it. What I’ve noticed is that the well-knowns don’t always share the episode, but the people who maybe are slightly lesser-known names share so much. Then the listening happens. Give the underdogs a chance is the motto here.

Zibby: If we can go into more of your painful past, if that’s okay — you write about this in the book, so I feel okay asking you.

Randi: Yes, it’s public.

Zibby: Your father died in a plane crash when you were twenty-five. Tell me about that. I am so sorry. I did not know until I was in your book reading it. I’m so sorry. Tell me about what happened then and how it ended up changing your life and your mission and the reset button that got hit for you.

Randi: Those of you who are listening, Zibby and I had a little communication before this. I appreciated that you shared your own story of loss at a similar age. I’m sorry for that. I think we both know that it is the loss that does shift your life. It becomes a very difficult thing to imagine, in a very strange way when so many years have passed, that it didn’t happen. Although, you wish it never did. My relationship to the whole thing now fourteen years later, it’s a very interesting mixture of experience. I’m sure you can relate to that feeling. The painful past, my dad was a visionary. He was an entrepreneur and an environmentalist and a very, very successful businessperson who built everything he had from absolutely nothing. I was very proud of him. I was very close to him. I’m an only child. I was also very, very sheltered. Now I know that, of course. I didn’t know a lot about his business life. I knew a lot about him as a person. It wasn’t like I was trained to become his protégé at all. With all of that said, I moved to New York like many of us do.

Zibby: From where?

Randi: I grew up in the Hudson Valley, so not too far. My whole family is from New York City and Brooklyn originally. I moved here July 2001. It was just a few months before 9/11. I started my first job at Condé Nast in magazines.

Zibby: I worked at Condé Nast.

Randi: Did you?

Zibby: Yes.

Randi: We have the same life. We’ll go there. By the way, Zibby’s going to be on my podcast, everybody. I’m telling my story. She’ll tell her story on my podcast. I moved to New York. I was like, I’m going to do the magazine thing. I was a totally artist-y, creative kid, partied. I was doing the thing. I went to grad school because after 9/11 all the magazines were shutting down. The jobs were becoming limited. Of course, they paid nothing. It wasn’t the greatest of times in that way. My dad was really supportive of me continuing my education. I was interested in media, which is an interesting part of how it all — our stories weave over time. I was just finishing graduate school.

Zibby: Graduate school in what?

Randi: Sorry, I went to The New School for media studies in film. I had just graduated, June 2005. I was exploring what was next. Now it’s time to get out there. I took a job. I left a job. I started freelancing. I had an internship at Oxygen Network. Again, the focus on women and their needs was always there. I was just getting my own personal wheels turning in a certain direction. I had just become really obsessed with yoga, but only as a practitioner. I was taking classes all the time. Then it was October 19th, 2005. It was a beautiful sunshiny day. Out of the blue, I got the phone call that he had crashed his plane.

Zibby: He was flying the plane?

Randi: He was flying the plane. He was a private pilot. It was totally his passion, one of his passions. He loved to be in the sky. It was how he got around. He felt like he was skirting the little people in a way. He would be like, “Do you know that it would take six hours to drive? It just took us forty-five minutes in the airplane.” He also owned our local tiny general aviation airport in our hometown. We’ll talk about that if you want. I grew up as, in some respects, a copilot, not that I flew. I was always around it because I was with him. It truly was a worst nightmare, an absolute worst nightmare. He was alone. Thank god there was no one else in the plane. He was just flying from Florida to North Carolina for a golf game to meet his friends. It was a truly unfortunate set of circumstances. An air traffic controller basically steered him into a pop-up thunderstorm, which in Florida happens all the time.

In terms of that period of time of my life, I want to say that I remember most of it, but I would guess that I don’t remember all of it. I think what happens is you go into a tunnel of survival. It’s like having a limb cut off. It’s really the most visceral, physical experience. For me, it was a mixture of sitting with my own loss, my own reality of a whole life that I thought was going to obviously be a certain way and was now totally going on another path. It was the obvious loss of my dad. We were super, super close. The other thing that I think anyone who has lost, particularly a very close family member, can relate to is that every person plays a role in family unit. You remove one and it’s almost like a domino effect. All of those other family dynamics shift and change. I can say that no other relationship was the same after that, even on a family level, friendships, everything.

Business-wise, my dad’s life was not prepared for him to leave it. He was not well-organized. Let’s put it that way. It was a giant mess for years. When we talk about what happens next, there was a period of several years that I kind of lived multiple lives all at the same time. There was the fact that my dad’s life needed me. Again, I’m an only child. My parents had weirdly divorced the year before. All of his world was mine. It was really insane. I luckily at that time did have people that were very engrained in his business life that were there to work with me and support me. It was very painful. I’m only now just getting more verbal about these things. I was afraid to say a lot of things for a long time. I’ll just say it out loud. Whenever there is money or the perception of assets or money or wealth and then you add in death or vulnerability or anything, the ugly and the evil comes out. I suffered quite a bit of deceit and things that I don’t know if I’ll ever fully move on from. The reason that I say that is it’s not that I don’t believe in the good of people. Obviously, I do. It’s trauma. When you interact with certain things as your life goes on and you feel those similar reactions, you know that things that happen at a certain time are still with you. That’s what I mean when I say that. Over that time, I was very enmeshed in his estate matters being resolved. We had to sell off certain parts of his business. There was a lot of articulation of things that took a lot of time and energy. That was one track of my life.

The other track of my life is really what became the story I was just telling you. My other job was taking care of myself. I needed healing work. I started, in all of my spare time, figuring out how to do that. That was tons of yoga. That was every healing modality you could possibly imagine, everything from massage and acupuncture and Reiki and energy work and therapy and grief counseling and all of it. What I discovered was the path of all the layers of getting into the grief and the sadness and the confusion, and then slowly but surely discovering the light in it. The light, of course, is where you start to connect with other people. I wanted, suddenly, to share some of that. You mentioned that quote.

Zibby: Yes, let me find it.

Randi: It’s when your heart is broken —

Zibby: — First you said, “I had this buzzing sensation in my spirit telling me that the heartbreak I had been through was going to allow me to deeply connect with and help many, many people.” Then you mentioned a quote that you had heard, “When your heart breaks open, god floods in.”

Randi: Yes, those quotes say it all. I’ll say that the first quote of there was a buzzing, there was something that told me to get up every day. There wasn’t one day that I ever laid in bed all day in depression. Every day, I got up to do whatever had to be done, even if it was a quiet day and I just got to go to a yoga class or do something to get myself going. I never stepped out of life. I was always in it. In terms of the god flooding in, I think that’s it. Realizing that pain is universal, I remember suddenly being able to speak to people who were going through divorce, who had cancer, who were going through the loss of a friendship, and then the transition into motherhood which has a lot of loss. Suddenly, I was able to sit in that space with people and relate and talk and just reflect. I was always a compassionate person, but I don’t think that that comfort in the discomfort is something I would’ve ever been able to do without that loss. The other thing too is that, again, being a very sheltered young woman very much cared for by my dad emotionally and tangibly, I think that I wouldn’t have really been able to blossom in the same way if he were here, not that he wouldn’t have wanted me to, not that he wouldn’t have encouraged me to. Something happens when you’re forced to that is more magnificent. That is definitely part of my story.

Zibby: Wow, thank you. That was so beautiful. You’re amazing. You take a lot of your story in the book and give it back. It’s like a gift. You talk about weathering personal tsunamis.

Randi: Now I’m teary eyed.

Zibby: Oh Randi, I’m sorry.

Randi: It’s okay. I cry all the time.

Zibby: You story, it’s beautiful that you’re sharing it with everybody. I’m sorry it happened to you. Look how strong and amazing you are. Look at all the stuff you’ve created for all these people. It’s amazing.

Randi: Thank you. I’m very comfortable crying, by the way, for anyone listening. It’s good. It’s healthy.

Zibby: I cry all the time.

Randi: Let it out. Let’s just cry it out. It’s all good.

Zibby: By the way, I’m so sad that I at a younger place in my life when you were out there teaching yoga class in the city and I was in the city crying my own issues and wandering around, that I never intersected with you, probably because I didn’t really do yoga. Anyway, wish that I had because I can see how you helped so many people during that time.

Randi: It’s just humanity.

Zibby: We’re almost out of time. I say this often, but I really mean it. I feel like I could sit here with you the rest of today and rehash our stories.

Randi: It’s all good. Should we talk a little bit more about the book itself? We talked about my story.

Zibby: Yeah, I know. The story’s in the book. The book is great. The book starts with a whole thing about the body, which I read on the elliptical machine. I felt very self-righteous in that moment. It goes into not just mom-dom, but also the business part and entrepreneurial part of being a mom, which I loved as part of this book and I think is a real differentiating factor from other books about being a mom. It’s all about harnessing that entrepreneurial spirit, what you want to do with your life, giving back. It’s a roadmap to the whole thing interspersed with your own amazing stories and tips and quotes. I think it’s great.

Randi: Thank you. I liked it.

Zibby: That’s the book, Going Beyond Mom: How to Activate Your Mind, Body & Business After Baby. It starts from right away after childbirth. It talks about sex. It talks about really everything you’d ever want to know. It’s a guidebook, again, that I wish I had when I had just had my kids, but is not just for moms in a way. It’s really, how do you get through life? That’s really what it is. How do you make sense of the world and get through life?

Randi: The other really strong principle that I want to impart upon people who read the book is that all parts of ourselves are interconnected. What I think has really derailed many women in particular, and definitely mothers, is this idea that we’re supposed to plow through our lives and our motherhood experience and put different pieces of who we are on the shelf for a period of time, whether that’s our physical body, our spiritual self, our emotional well-being, and focus on all of these external needs, or let’s call it one category of our needs, like, “I have a business idea, so I’m going to go drive that idea.” What I felt really called to do with the book is to take the reader through a step-by-step process of defining these different layers of who we are. It’s very yogic in concept, which I talk about here in the book. If any layer of who we are, mind, body, spirit, is neglected, the whole picture is off kilter. If we really slow down and ask ourselves the question, am I — there’s a difference between whole, as in W-H-O-L-E, and perfect. I’m not talking about perfection. I’m talking about wholeness. Wholeness means that in a given period of our lives, we’re somehow paying attention to all that we are, not every second, not every day, not even every week, but that I’m understanding what the needs of my body is. I’m understanding what the needs of my spirit is. I’m working with it. That leads to a sense of wholeness because nothing is being out and out neglected.

The book’s real purpose is to bring you back into a sense of wholeness and that all of you has attention to some degree because you are a whole person. For any woman that thinks that you can be a present mother and you can be a productive person in whatever endeavor you’re putting out into the world and not give attention to the very basics of what makes you a human being, it’s just not real. It’s just not true. This book felt very much like a gift. Back to my painful story, that story taught me that truth, as loss does. Also, the other thing I want to say is that this book is not for people who just had a baby. The after-baby part was an edition by my publisher. They felt really strongly that it should say that, after-baby, just to be very clear on who it was targeting specifically. Actually, this book is for any woman and definitely a mother of any phase. As I always say, postpartum is forever.

Zibby: It’s true.

Randi: You’re always journeying motherhood.

Zibby: That could be the next book. It’s a good book title.

Randi: Postpartum is forever.

Zibby: That’s a good title.

Randi: Okay, I like that. I’ll write it down in my notes.

Zibby: What’s coming next for you? I’m sure you have a zillion things in your mind that you want to pursue next.

Randi: I’m really focusing on the next season of my podcast, the “Going Beyond” podcast. I have got some fantastic interviews lined up with some real amazing thought leaders. I’m super excited because on February 13th, 2020, I’m hosting the next live podcast recording that was so successful in October. This time we’re focusing on stress, and stress as a conditioning in our society, and then bringing on the people who are truly the masters and the experts about how we can shift away from almost what we assume is normal and really start forging a path that is happier and more free. We hear these buzzwords in a lot of things we might pay attention to, but how are people really doing it? I’m really excited to bring that conversation to light. That’s going to be hosted at Athleta Flatiron here in Manhattan, February 13th in the evening. All event information will on the Beyond Mom website. For any of you who love podcasts, love topics like this, and want to be around really smart, insightful women, this is the event to come to.

Zibby: Amazing. I’m adding it to my calendar. Do you have advice to aspiring authors?

Randi: I do. Can I give a creative piece of advice and then a logistic piece of advice?

Zibby: No.

Randi: Are you being sarcastic?

Zibby: Yes. Of course you can.

Randi: The creative part is once you feel the muses knocking at your door, not to disregard any idea, any thought. It can feel, especially if you happen to be someone like myself and Zibby or juggling kids, you have ideas, that you don’t have time. It’s amazing what can be going on in your brain while you’re doing all the things. Have either your tangible journal or your notes open on your phone all the time and jot your ideas down because you will forget them. I don’t want you to. Collect your thoughts at all times. They’re all relevant, especially when the creativity muses are starting to come to you. That the first one. The second one, as I’ve learned about publishing a book and putting it out there, it’s not just about the book anymore. We live in a world that is very much a platform-driven world. When you’re thinking about what it takes to come up with a topic for a book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, what it is that you want to share, what it is you want to say, consider the bigger picture also. What else might you want to be driving and growing to support the idea of putting a book out there? Maybe it’s an Instagram handle that captures a certain theme or a certain book that would support that theme of the book. Maybe it’s a YouTube channel. Maybe it’s that you want to start gathering people to have certain kinds of discussions in your home once a month that are supporting some of the things you’re talking about in the book. Start thinking outside of just the book itself because you will be expected to have platforms and other ways of connecting with the topic of your book, fiction or nonfiction. That’s my little tip.

Zibby: I’m glad you gave all the tips. Randi, thank you for sharing all of this and for all you do to help other women and everything that you do in life. It’s really amazing and inspiring.

Randi: Thank you. Thank you for doing this podcast, Zibby. It’s not easy to be an author. It has a whole bunch of gold stars associated with it, like, “Oh, you wrote a book?” Actually, it can feel a little bit like there’s a bajillion authors out there. Where do you find your place? It’s amazing that you give authors the chance to come and share the heart of why they do what they do.

Zibby: It’s my pleasure. Look at all the benefit I get. I get to sit here and listen. It’s amazing, oh, my gosh.

Randi: You do get a lot of it too.

Zibby: Thank you so much.

Randi: Thanks, Zibby.