Breathe Education Culture

 

If culture is the way of life for a group of people, then company culture is the way of work for a group of people. It is a company’s shared set of traditions, values, goals, attitudes and norms; whether written or unwritten.

We believe that every company should be as different and unique as every individual. Just as two individuals may or may not be compatible with one another, an individual and a company may or may not be compatible.

 

History

Breathe Education started as Breathe Wellbeing, a Pilates and yoga studio in Melbourne Australia co-founded in 2006 by Raphael Bender and 5 others.

The studio had a rocky start but ultimately prospered and when Raphael eventually sold his share of the business to his partners in January 2016, the studio business was generating $2.4M annual revenue and employed 42 people.

Breathe Education began as a subsidiary of the studio business, really just a side-hobby that supplied instructors for the Pilates studio.

In 2016 when Raphael sold his share in the studio, he and his wife Julie bought Breathe Education from the remaining partners. At this point Breathe Education was a tiny business doing in-person Pilates instructor training in Melbourne Australia.

Over the next 4 years the company expanded to deliver in-person training in 4 states of Australia. In 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Breathe Education took all our training online and we are now a fully remote company. We currently have staff in 4 countries and students in over a dozen countries as well as in many rural and remote areas.

Going fully online truly has democratized Pilates education and made it more accessible for a large number of people.

 

1. Our Mission

This is The Mission:

At Breathe Education we use science-based tools to help Pilates instructors become better, happier and more financially successful.

We use science because it is the most effective way known to humanity, to advance our knowledge of how the world works.

We help Pilates instructors become better by being more skilled and knowledgeable about anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, communication, critical thinking and pain science.

We help Pilates instructors become happier through building their confidence, increasing their impact for clients, and increasing their income.

By doing these things we enable Pilates instructors to help their clients more joyfully and more effectively, increasing the fitness, health, longevity and happiness of a very large number of people.

In helping Pilates instructors become more financially successful we raise their standard of living, allow them to pay better wages and provide better service for their clients. We enable them to feel proud and legitimate and we equip them with essential business skills to thrive financially for a lifetime.

We believe that in these ways, through Pilates, science and entrepreneurship we make the world a better place.

 

2. The Mission is core to our culture

A mission statement creates the core identity of a company. It encourages unity among the team and informs fast and easy decentralized decision making, which is critical to our business success.

Pilates, science and entrepreneurship are at the core of The Mission.

Although we’re mindful of things like profits, client feedback and enjoying our time at work, our unwavering north star and ultimate goal is always The Mission. It underpins who we are, what we think, what we build, and all key decisions we make. Thus every Breathe team member believes in The Mission.

 

3. Our values

Our values help guide us in decisions on how we do the work.

 

Genuine care

We see each person as they are and foster their potential

 

Growth mindset

We cultivate a culture of excellence and personal responsibility

 

Trifecta

We balance the long-term interests of the customer, the team and the company

 

Science

Science is the most effective tool known to humanity to progress our understanding of empirical questions about how the world works. 

Freedom of speech, civil discourse and open inquiry are crucial for science and the progress of ideas. We must be able to discuss and debate ideas, if we are to replace them with better ideas.

 

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the process of setting up a business, and taking risks to achieve financial and personal growth. Through entrepreneurship we will make the world a better place by raising people’s standards of living, and helping them create better products and services that deliver more happiness and better results to their clients.

Entrepreneurship is a journey of personal growth. A business can never outgrow the owner’s limiting beliefs.

 

Freedom

Every individual should have the freedom to pursue their own version of the good life, to think, and speak, and act as they wish, and to associate with whoever they want to; as long as they do not harm others in the process.

We define harm as physical or financial harm; we do not consider “hurt feelings” to be harm.

 

Toleration

For diverse people to flourish in a free society there must be toleration and goodwill towards others with different views, and that each person should be treated as an individual without regard to their skin color, ethnic background, disability status, religion, politics, sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

Truth

We value truth over political correctness. We are pushing the envelope in the Pilates world and while it is not our goal to offend people, we recognize that it’s inevitable in a global organization that is optimizing for impact

The ideal Breathe team member is thick skinned, well intentioned, and assumes good intent in others.

Our basic principles for communicating:

  • We communicate in English
  • We give each other the benefit of the doubt
  • Everyone is responsible for their own feelings
  • We use specific rather than general language e.g., we say “Your email dated X with the subject Y” instead of “the email” 
  • We use scientifically accurate terminology rather than politically correct terminology
  • Being offended doesn’t necessarily make someone right
  • Being offended doesn’t necessarily make someone “harmed”
  • Neither words nor silence are “violence”
  • We say why we disagree and calmly challenge ideas with logic, reason and better ideas.
  • We bring data, and we request others to bring data
  • We do not call someone’s words toxic, hateful, racist, x-phobic, problematic etc.
  • We assume ignorance before we assume malice
  • We always work to de-escalate a discussion that becomes emotional
  • We try to resolve personal disputes 1:1, ideally over a video or phone call vs chat
  • We are optimistic, proactive, solution and future-focussed
  • We encourage each other to stay out of the weeds and use high impact communication

We DO NOT support these things

  • Authoritarianism (Dictating how other people should think, speak, and live their lives)
  • Defining people by their color, race, religion, gender identity or sexual preference
  • Intolerance of people with different views
  • Victim mindset
  • Cancel culture, bullying, attempts to publicly shame people, trial by public opinion
  • Fearmongering, treating people as fragile
  • ”Walking on eggshells” for fear of saying “the wrong thing”
  • Taboos against questioning beliefs

We support these things

  • The right of each person to pursue their version of the good life, as long as they don’t harm others financially or physically
  • Optimism, assuming positive intent
  • Seeing people as individuals not defined by race, color, sexuality, gender, disability or religion
  • Tolerance of others who hold different views
  • Taking responsibility for our own emotions and actions
  • Seeing people as resourceful, resilient & antifragile
  • Saying what we mean plainly
  • The scientific method, seeking truth even when it’s uncomfortable
  • Trial by law, innocence until proven guilty

4. We unite around a shared love for Pilates, science and entrepreneurship

We respect each person’s right to form their own values and beliefs, and we don’t feel any need to convert others to our values and beliefs.

We are a community built around a shared desire to help people through Pilates, science and entrepreneurship. In this community we unite around those things we agree on, and that common purpose, and we accept any other differences we may have.

We come from over a dozen countries, and we have many different religious faiths, cultural practices and political beliefs.

Breathe Education is not a place for ideological debate. It is a place for people who love Pilates, science and entrepreneurship to come together and celebrate our joy in helping people through those things. 

In our community we disregard any differences we may have outside of our shared love for Pilates, science and entrepreneurship. We focus on our shared humanity and we treat each other as individuals, not as members of this or that group.

We are here to focus on making the world a better place through Pilates, science and entrepreneurship. If you love Pilates, science, and entrepreneurship, you are welcome here regardless of any other thing that we may disagree on.

 

5. We are an inclusive organization

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

We believe the ultimate goal of any inclusivity initiative should be to achieve a world where no-one cares about the color of your skin, your gender, your sexual preference or your religion. Indeed a world where the color of your skin is one of the least interesting things about you.

We believe that the best way to achieve inclusivity is to focus on our shared humanity, and treat each person as an individual, not as a stereotypical member of some group based on skin color, sexuality, gender or religion.

All reasonable people want to reduce racism and discrimination in the world. However trying to reduce racism by hyper-focussing on race is self-contradictory.

Focussing on race is the exact opposite of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream, and will only increase division and polarization. We cannot achieve a world where no-one cares about race, by hyper-focussing on race.

Instead at Breathe Education we focus on our shared humanity, equality of opportunity for all, and treating each person as an individual who is not defined by their skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual preference, but rather is defined by their unique individual skills, knowledge, beliefs, preferences and behavior.

Because of this we welcome people who support our culture and The Mission regardless of their ethnic background, skin color, religion, politics, disability status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

We hire based on merit, meaning we seek out candidates who are aligned with our culture and The Mission, and who have the abilities, knowledge, and skills that are most suitable for the job. We strive to evaluate people on merit regardless of their group identity.

We foster diversity by striving to provide equality of opportunity based on merit. We see diversity as greater than a checklist of obvious physical features. We oppose judging people by their skin color, ethnic background, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

For Breathe team members, given the multiple countries and languages represented within the company, we place a strong emphasis on team cohesion around culture and The Mission.

To maintain cohesion in such a diverse environment, we acknowledge we all see the world through our own cultural lens, we assume good intent and we strive to be thick-skinned. 

Misunderstandings will occur and mistakes will be made, but we don’t dwell on them. Instead we move forward with the belief that all people have inherent dignity and that disputes can be resolved through open discussion and due process. 

We are aligned with and support the work of FAIR: Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.

 

6. The Mission is the only mission

There is no second mission. The question: “Should we do X side mission?” is always answered based on the extent to which the side mission is instrumental in achieving The Mission

For example, given The Mission is to use science-based tools to help Pilates instructors become better, happier and more financially successful..

  • Should we engage in social justice activism? No.
  • Should we treat all people equally based on individual merit? Yes.
  • Should we use politically correct language where it conflicts with scientific accuracy? No.
  • Should we make our content accessible to as many Pilates instructors as possible? Yes.
  • Should we strive to make our Pilates as historically accurate as possible? No.
  • Should we strive to make our Pilates as effective as possible? Yes.

Whilst we are opposed to all forms of discrimination and we strive to treat all people as individuals, it is not our remit to tackle social policy. We are not an activist organization. Our mission is to use science-based tools to help Pilates instructors everywhere become better, happier and more financially successful.

 

7. We move fast

Speed of decisions, and speed of execution are critical advantages in any business. Moving faster means we put things into the world fast, and get feedback fast. This allows us to adjust and iterate fast, which in turn means our products will improve faster. This means better results and experience for our students.

  • Processes and systems should only and always help us do the work faster. They should never slow us down or make it harder to accomplish The Mission.
  • Therefore we try to avoid bureaucracy i.e., committees, approvals and a risk-averse mindset where no-one wants to take sole responsibility for a decision.
  • We don’t seek consensus. Instead we designate a single person as the DRI (directly responsible individual) who will make the decision; the DRI decides who needs to give input, and who needs to be informed. After people give their input the DRI makes the decision quickly and we DAC (disagree and commit). This means once our input has been heard, we accept the decision and implement it as if it were our own, even if we privately disagree. 
  • We decide quickly, implement quickly and iterate quickly. We strive for short cycle times between decision, implementation, review and adjustment so we can learn faster than our competitors.
  • We celebrate mistakes or decisions that don’t turn out as expected and view them as learning opportunities.

 

8. How our Mission and Values show up in our workplace and courses

Here are some examples of how our values might affect how you work or study and your experience with Breathe Education:

  • We will treat each person as an individual and we will not discriminate for or against any person based on race, color, religion, gender identity, political affiliation or sexual preference
  • We will not tolerate the use of shaming, name-calling or ad-hominem attacks
  • We will celebrate mistakes and prioritize fast decisions, fast implementation and fast iteration
  • We will bring data, and ask others to bring data
  • We will ask awkward questions and engage in open investigation in a spirit of mutual enquiry
  • We will affiliate, advertise with and sponsor controversial podcasts, influencers and events, if it furthers The Mission
  • We hold all empirical views conditionally and change our minds easily when presented with credible evidence
  • We celebrate all approaches to Pilates whilst encouraging every instructor to adopt science-based best practice
  • We abide by all labor laws and do not support illegal activities in the workplace

 

9. Conduct becoming a Breathe team member

What we encourage and reward

  • Driven by purpose, reward, competence, achievement, goal orientation
  • Team-minded
  • Radically transparent, substance-rich communicator
  • Positive and determined attitude
  • Speaks simply and truthfully
  • Curious and encourages curiosity in others
  • Craves and appreciates critical feedback
  • Polite and friendly to everyone
  • Holds self and others accountable for communicating clearly and concisely
  • Actively resists scope-creep and irrelevant side missions
  • Treats every Breathe team member and student the same regardless of role, tenure or perceived level of power
  • Doesn’t let fear of risk prevent them from doing what’s best for The Mission
  • Thinks laterally and generates multiple solutions to a problem
  • Understands that every solution is a trade-off, seeks to balance upside and downside
  • Values speed of decision above fear of making a mistake
  • Acknowledges mistakes and learns from them so we don’t repeat them; doesn’t dwell or become fear-avoidant
  • Addresses people directly 1:1 when there is a problem
  • Extremely comfortable with computers, modern technology, the Internet and automation tools

What we discourage and don’t reward

  • Driven by ego or the pursuit of power
  • Arrogant, self-righteous, or acts morally superior to others
  • Lazy
  • Aggrieved, self-pitying or victim mindset
  • Pessimism, catastrophizing, defeatism
  • Pursues religious, political or social justice agendas in our community
  • Lies or tells others what they want to hear
  • Not curious and/or punishes others for asking questions
  • Speaks with a lot of corporate buzzwords, jargon, or fluff 
  • Reacts defensively to critical feedback
  • Responds to mistakes by becoming fearful and over-cautious
  • Is only nice (or extra nice) to those who they can gain advantage from
  • Treats Breathe team members or students differently depending on their role or hierarchical position
  • Takes no or low risk for most things, regardless of what’s best for The Mission
  • Black and white thinking

Thank you for taking the time to read about Breathe Education culture.