Play It Forward: From Gymboree to the Yoga Mat and Beyond
By Joan Barnes
Play It Forward details the remarkable journey of Joan Barnes, founder and former CEO of Gymboree, and how she learned to align her inner life with outward success. Forty years ago, Joan Barnes founded a play center in a church basement with $3,000. Determined to enable women to achieve personal and entrepreneurial success, Barnes led Gymboree to become an innovative leader in a new industry: activity-based early childhood development. The company eventually became a global billion-dollar brand. But this dramatic entrepreneurial memoir is also a cautionary tale and redemption story. When Gymboree's IPO became a phenomenal success story, Barnes was nowhere near Wall Street. She had left the company because of an eating disorder that threatened to destroy her and everything she built. Barnes overcame the disorder, charting a path that replaced demons with an enduring sense of worth and hope. She eventually resumed her business career on healthier terms with a line of yoga studios in an inspiring example of how women can triumph through reinvention. Published to coincide with Gymboree's 40th anniversary, Play It Forward offers readers a deeply honest perspective of the challenges of business building and seeking a work-life balance in tune with personal values.
Praise for author Joan Barnes "A franchisor who did it right is Joan Barnes, a vivacious mother of two and founder of Gymboree. She opened her first center in a San Francisco suburb. . . Gymboree was an instant hit." "Fortune" "Kids are encouraged to play independently. As the children climb on diminutive Jungle Gyms or roll around on huge foam-rubber logs, the classroom rings with laughter." "Newsweek" "Forget leaning in, Joan has always jumped in. As a young mother of two active daughters she started Gymboree in a church basement. When she sold that business, hundreds of stores later, she took up yoga with her usual passion. Within a year she launched the Yoga Studio, a group of beautifully appointed studios in the San Francisco Bay Area with the region's best teachers and yoga clothing. Always evolving and adventurous, Joan is one of the most inspiring women I know. Her life force, intelligence, and wit are as expansive as her asanas and as full-bodied as her laugh." Patricia Ziegler, Founder of Banana Republic and Republic of Tea ." . . see how something that looks like just a lot of fun for kids can be a very beneficial learning experience for them and their parents as well." "Good Morning America" "Parents contend the program improves the child's balance, coordination, and social skills. It gives babies and their parents a chance to mingle with their peers." "The Wall Street Journal" "Second Acts. OM is where the Heart is. After a breakdown, Joan Barnesthe founder of Gymboreethought she'd never run another business. Then she discovered yoga, and made peace with her entrepreneurial spirit." "More" "Gymboree Barnes finds new life, business in yoga. Now, still entrepreneur at nearly 60, she's launched an upscale business called Yoga Studio to nurture and soother adults stressed by daily life." "USA Today" "Move Over Romper Room. All the Best Babies Come to Joan Barnes' Gymboree." "People""
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