Podcast Episode 8: A Conversation with Natalie Rast from Y7 Studio yaelsivi-cc June 18, 2019

Podcast Episode 8: A Conversation with Natalie Rast from Y7 Studio

A Conversation with Natalie Rast

A Conscious Collaboration Podcast

In this episode, Yael and Natalie discuss team growth and culture building – and the work Y7’s leadership team engaged in over the course of two+ years.


Natalie Rast, SHRM-CP, is the Head of People at Y7 Studio. Y7, a rapidly expanding and widely popular yoga studio with many locations in Manhattan, L.A, and elsewhere, is on a mission is to create an inclusive and accessible space for clients while offering an approach to Yoga that’s disrupting the Yoga space. It which was recently named number 80 in the Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies List. After launching her career at Warby Parker, Natalie has gone on to build out the entire people department at Y7.

A key success factor to Y7’s success goes beyond its brand promise – but lies in its culture that values authenticity, empowerment, and experimentation. This mindset does not only inform the actual yoga practice at Y7. There is a general orientation towards growth and a readiness to show up for the personal work that comes with it – which ultimately positively affects how the organization is run and how leaders at Y7 role-model collaboration.

Natalie partnered with Yael to facilitate a series of workshops with Y7’s leadership team that helped it to engage in a process of authentic interactions, skill building, and “collaborative norming”. Both Natalie and Yael talk about steps on that journey.

I haven’t seen these types of trainings work sustainably before. But now, when we need to have difficult conversations, we are having them. 

Highlights from this episode

  • Bringing intention to how you go about your work is important for you and your team
    • Approach each work interaction thoughtfully
    • Think about the impact you can have on others in your organization
    • Realize that we’re the same people inside and outside of work
    • Work relationships can be healthy, just like our personal relationships are

We bring our whole selves to work; this impacts our work and our team.

  • Support and trust start at the top
    • If the top management is not dealing with issues – be it a need to change or interpersonal dynamics – in an optimal way, it will trickle down and affect others
    • Support and trust can be felt on every level, but it must come from the leadership team
  • Working through the Forming and Storming stages of growth at Y7:
    • It’s important to go beyond the “what” (content and results-focussed) conversations and talk about the “how” and “why”, i.e. how are we doing/relating as we are acting on our sense of purpose
      • Trying to get things done together inevitably leads to friction
      • Begin having those difficult conversations
    • Anonymous one-on-one interviews in preparation of any team offsite help bring important issues to the fore; which allows us to then address the root of whatever is relevant
    • Laying the foundations of conscious leadership / conscious collaboration by drawing from shared theories and thus creating a common language for how we want to work together
  • Best Practices in Leadership at Y7:
    • Feedback training
      • Learning how to give and receive feedback upward, and peer-to-peer has made a big impact on the organization; more difficult conversations are happing and people are moving past the drama
      • Giving effective feedback affects every single aspect of a team; creating a tremendous amount of openness and trust
    • Be authentic
      Authentic relationships contribute to growth – personal and business 
    • Involve the team in the work of creating healthy work relationships and conscious leadership
    • Be willing to hear things that maybe you don’t want to hear in order to create change
    • Have the right people on the bus – people willing to engage in personal growth work and who work through conflict to support collaboration
      • You cannot build a healthy collaborative culture if people don’t have that readiness – it’s a serious consideration during any hiring process
    • Spread the culture of healthy relationships throughout the organization

Some concepts and materials mentioned in the conversation:

  • Y7 Anthem Campaign
  • Superpower Cards by SY Partners (nice strengths-based card deck to support teams to leverage team members’ “best self”
  • Above – Below the line: An concept from several decades ago to encourage responsibility and “self-authorship” – really brought back into popularity by for instance the Conscious Leadership Group. (They have a nice explainer video of the idea and we recommend their book The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership)
  • Drama Triangle: This idea goes back to Stephen Karpman, a student of Eric Berne, the father of Transactional Analysis. It’s a social dynamic model that looks at three archetypes (victim, villain, hero) that we inhabit when we go below the line. We can flip these, though, into proactive above the line archetypes – see this explainer video.

Enjoy listening and stay tuned for our next episode.