Hi, I’m Bettina. What I'm working on : Forget to slouch. Relaxing is freedom. Choose life.

Yogis Talk Radio Show : Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist

Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist

I was really anxious when I interviewed Penelope Trunk. Not only is she internet famous, I had no idea what the conversation was going to be like. Actually, I had thought that talking to her would make me squirm uncomfortably.

Penelope Trunk is a big name in career advising. She’s got a start-up funded doing exactly that. So it’s no surprise that even though I called her to talk about her humane goat cheese project, we ended up talking about my career as a yoga teacher around 8 minutes in.

She told me right away that people don’t want to read about yoga. And it’s a waste of time to blog as a marketing tool, because only people in a three-mile will come to my yoga class. So she tells me I should quit blogging.

No one wants to read about my yoga successes, because it’s boring. She told me to force myself to fail and then to blog about that. Or else blog about how yoga can help you get a boyfriend, or how yoga can save your marriage, or how to make more money by doing yoga daily.

Instead of reading about yoga, people want an interesting experience. She, for one, started doing Ashtanga yoga because movie stars went to the Ashtanga studio. Any movie stars out there who want to come to my class? I teach yoga to the movie star equivalents of the Berlin start-up world. Does anyone get a thrill from doing yoga right next to successful start-up founders?

Listen to my interview above (or download it!) with Penelope to find out:

  • Why Penelope thinks I should go work at McDonald’s
  • How yoga is like sex in terms of career
  • Why Yoga Journal is a Ponzi scheme
  • Why yoga teachers should not get paid—and why yoga should be free
  • Is it yoga if you’re pissed off while you’re doing it?
  • The difference between struggle and failure

Here’s what I wanted to tell Penelope on the phone but couldn’t: Penelope will grow in yoga by accepting the reality of her yoga practice. Her struggle with her current practice is her path of growth in yoga. It’s inner, not outer physical, work. Yoga is not just about putting your feet behind your head or holding headstand for 3 minutes. Yoga is also about how much you try and how much you fail and–the most important part—how you treat yourself after your failure. If you berate yourself and push your body towards injury during yoga practice, that’s not yoga. The yoga is in the compassion.

Be grateful for your limits. If we didn’t have physical limits, we’d have no opportunity to listen to our body telling us where our boundaries are for today. Maybe that’s a better way to describe yoga: playing with your physical and mental limits to keep expanding them.

Around minute 12 Penelope asked me how I got the courage to email her. I sent her an email without expecting any response whatsoever. The importance for me was in thanking her, not in getting any kind of acknowledgment. That’s how I do yoga too—I’m not doing it for weight loss or stress management. I do yoga for the sake of doing it—to connect my body, breath and mind. Does anyone want to buy that? The more I write about yoga, the more I think it’s unmarketable.


  1. Do yoga to feel strong inside.
  2. Take a risk like sending an email to someone you admire.
  3. Forget about that email.
  4. Repeat every day for an entire year.
  5. Let me know what happens as a result.



Photo from Penelope Trunk

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  • Ur_girlfriday

     What an amazing interview. Thank you so much for posting this. I have to
    say after listening this twice…you held your composure and weren’t
    defensive as most people might have been in your position. Makes me
    think that that’s was the yoga training kicking and that Penelope is
    freaking brilliant cause that is how you should market yoga to save
    marriages from conflict…look at your example! I love Penelope and
    have been reading her blog for years now and she rarely says anything I
    don’t agree with… and probably cause we’re a lot alike truth be told.
    I’ve been told that I’m honest to a fault and when asked an opinion I
    don’t bullshit my friends. I want honesty so I give it in order to get
    it back. I’m constantly amazed by how many people can’t do that and
    would rather lie than tell their best friend that “yeah, those pants make
    you look fat”. Personally, I can’t call anyone friend without that
    level of honesty in the relationship. Luckily, I have a hardcore group
    of friends where we don’t lie to each other ever…. Sorry, I went on a
    tangent there but just had to say this was an eye-opening interview and
    though I don’t share your situation but I think this can be applied in
    an area of my life I’ve been avoiding looking at. And I would so go to
    the yoga class is it was marketed “How Yoga can help with your dating
    anxiety” or “Yoga for Dating Anxiety, Special Class” Learn pose that
    will sooth your anxiety, heart beating too fast, palms sweaty..learn
    yoga to control your breathing control your body, blah blah blah… you
    get where I’m going with this…

    • thatbettina

      Yes, keeping my balance is a skill I learned from yoga. I don’t react to situations that might otherwise freak other people out; I observe first.

  • Sherri

    I was surprised how shallow and unkind  Penelope’s comments were.  It seemed like she was baiting you and she seemed arrogant and then she advised against being arrogant.  Wow! goes to show you never can tell.  I hope her mothering finds her much more gentle w/her tongue…it was pretty yukky!  Too bad she doesn’t appreciate yoga …but her ignorance was on her sleeve.  As an interviewer …you were extremely forgiving.  I call that Immediate Forgiveness…you did well in the face of Brazeness!  I’m sure I could never have allowed her to entertain herself for so long.  So sorry, it was painful for me.  I should thank you for modeling such humility…wherein lies true strength.  

    • Rosalie

      I fully agree with you Sherri! 🙂

    • thatbettina

      Hi Sherri,

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      I didn’t think that Penelope was unkind; I think she was trying to be as helpful as she knows how to be–which is being painfully honest, in her case.

      In any case I always consider other people’s perspectives even if I don’t agree with them. I don’t let other people’s opinions change how I feel unless I agree with them.

  • Hi Bettina, 
    That was quite an interview! You have such an open heart and were so kind to the personal attacks you received to your personality, your work, etc.  You responded with much more grace than I would have! But I think what I got out of this, was that all her “You can’t do’s” and “You will fail’s” will inspire  you to work harder and prove her wrong. I’m not saying her cynical view doesn’t have some truths, because they do (hello, self-marketing, that is essential!). But not every studio is a ponzi scheme, and not everyone needs to become a famous LA yogi to be successful. Call me naive, but I think you can be successful with something you love and the money will follow. Keep doing what you’re doing! Namaste. <3 ~Kris

  • Baguamarsbar

    Trunk gives the best blog!

    • thatbettina

      Yes, she sure does!

  • vic

    where is the link to the podcast?

    • thatbettina

      Hi Vic,
      Thanks for writing in! If you hadn’t left a comment, I would never have found out that DivShare, the service that hosts the mp3, has made my interview disappear.
      So now I’m uploading it to Soundcloud and will add the link above in the next 10 minutes.
      Enjoy the listen! I remember this interview with fondness; Penelope is brutally honest here with me. And I love her for that.
      Let me know what you think after you listen to it.