Female Founders: Shira Atkins On Finding Time For Yoga While Shaking Up The Podcasting World

I met Shira in college at Brown University, where she was the yoga teacher at our free student-led yoga classes. She grew the student group multi-fold with her invigorating asana sequences and wise teachings, and help us all through the stresses of college life. She introduced me to yoga and is the reason I love the practice, too!

After graduation, Shira worked in digital media, and in July of 2018 co-founded Wonder Media Network, a media company focused on women at the intersection of politics, business, and culture. Shira started WMN with her best friend and co-founder, Jenny Kaplan, and they produce original podcasts and newsletters that aim to give a voice to the underrepresented. Their first podcast, Women belong in the House, discussed the record number of women who ran for office last November.

I was curious to learn how Shira has been balancing her love of yoga with her busy startup life. Below is my interview with Shira Atkins, Chief Marketing Officer of Wonder Media Network!

What does Wonder Media Network do?

We make great podcasts focused on women at the intersection of politics, business, and culture.

We dig in to the narratives of people – particularly women – who are stepping up to enact change. We create original content, work with like-minded organizations and individuals to co-create content, and offer end-to-end production services to select clients for white-label projects.

Why did you start your company?

My co-founder Jenny and I were moved by the record number of women who stepped up to run for office this year – and simultaneously disappointed in the way that traditional media outlets covered (or didn't cover, as the case often was!) these historic runs.

We felt like there was a space in the market to create a new kind of women's media vertical that wasn't couched in fashion, beauty, or lifestyle, but instead framed by politics, business, and culture.

Can you walk us through a typical day?

Gosh! Every day is so different. Most days, though, I wake at 6:00 am, and I'm on my yoga mat by 6:30 or 7:00 am (depending on how hard it is to get up!).

If I go down to my shala in the East Village, I'll listen to The Daily on the way down. If I practice at home, I'll finish up by around 8:00 am.

Then I'll usually make my way down to The Wing or Soho House to work.

My days are typically 50% meetings or calls and 50% straight work time. I also split my focus between business development and marketing for our existing shows. I work 'til I can't work anymore.

A few times a week I'll see a friend or go to a museum to unwind at the end of the day.

How do you hit your restart button?

Yoga is the easiest answer, but I also love to cook myself a great meal, curl up with a book or a podcast, and learn something new.

How do you make time for yoga?

Most days, I feel this aching sense that there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do.

My early teachers used to say that "time" was never an excuse for not practicing.

I like that notion conceptually, but it is true that a crazy busy travel schedule and unending amounts of work prevent a time-dedication that I would otherwise give to yoga.

So I find time through the only mechanism I know: wake up earlier, practice a little shorter, and on days when I need a 2 hour practice and the space to sleep a little later, forgive myself for being human, and love myself for knowing what will give me the strength I need to keep growing this incredible business.

How do you bring joy into your work day?

I work with one of my dearest friends in the world, so we laugh a lot and are lucky to feel a lot of joy while working.

What's a fear you overcame in building your company?

When we first launched WMN, I think I was most scared that I didn't know enough about politics or about the history of women's empowerment to be leading any initiatives in the space.

But as I've deepened and learned more, I see that my own sense that I didn't know enough about these topics is one of the fundamental reasons the work we're doing is ultimately so important.

Favorite podcasts?

Wonder Media Network's Web of WMN and Women Belong in the House!

I love Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History. In my mind, it's one of the most perfectly created podcasts, from a narrative arc perspective.

I also love Longform (Max Linksy is a genius!), and of course, I recommend the first season of Start Up to any entrepreneur.

What’s a non-negotiable in your self-care?

I must sleep and I *must* have coffee!

Photo credits: Hailey Wist