Play It Forward: From Gymboree to the Yoga Mat and Beyond

“There are only two leaders ferociously honest enough to share the true cycle of success and failure that every great entrepreneur faces. The most widely watched is – Oprah Winfrey, and now the memoir from Gymboree founder – Joan Barnes. Play it Forward (co-authored with Michael Coffino) deftly packs her riveting life story into a wisdom-war chest for us to witness and learn from.” 

Amazon Review.

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.

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