Author Talk: Joan Barnes


MM: Your story — founding Gymboree, stepping down as CEO due to an eating disorder and eventually finding peace through yoga — is pretty personal, though empowering. What compelled you to share it?

When I experienced the incredible audience reactions to the tales of my journey, I knew I had to continue telling my story, and what more effective way than through a memoir? My eating disorder recovery taught me about the power of self-honesty and awareness and gave me the courage to be vulnerable, raw and transparent.

MM: What do you believe is the biggest stereotype when it comes to female entrepreneurs?

The world often assumes that women lack the same ambitions as men, meaning their goals are not as lofty and are more temporary. While it is no day at the beach to build something entrepreneurial and raise a family at the same time, women are ably handling this challenge in greater numbers.

MM: Did you find it difficult to ask for help when you needed it? Why or why not?

I never asked for help. To me, then, asking for help was a badge of shame and an admission of frailty and inability to function well. It was only after I collapsed — literally — and confronted my problems head-on that I began the arduous process of learning how to reveal my core self without fear.

MM: What would be your top piece of advice to women who dream of starting their own businesses?

Align your passion with purpose. When we take the plunge into the deep waters of a new business venture with so much unknown and so much that will not go as planned, it is important that the decisions we make along the way express who we are and not who we or others think we should be. If the emotional, personal and psychic — not to mention financial — resources we invest are harmonized with our core values, we will be on a path toward contentment.

Local Page Turners

Joan Barnes Book, Play it Forward

Play It Forward: From Gymboree to the Yoga Mat and Beyond by Joan Barnes (Mill Valley) Agate B2, $17. Forty years ago, Joan Barnes founded a play center in a church basement. 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. Signed books available from Book Passage

Book, Mediterranean Jewish Table

The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old-World Recipes for the Modern Home by Joyce Goldstein (San Francisco), University of California Press, $39.95. In the United States, the translation of Jewish culinary practices has resulted primarily in a table of matzo ball soup and knishes, brisket and gefilte fish. Joyce Goldstein expands that menu with this collection of recipes from the kitchens of three Mediterranean Jewish cultures. Appearing at Book Passage’s Cooks with Books series at Spinster Sisters Restaurant in Santa Rosa June 1, 6:30 p.m.

Book, The Murder of Mary Russell

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King (Santa Cruz), Bantam, $28. Sherlock Holmes is back in the latest in the New York Times best-selling series — but is Mary Russell? When the novel opens, the shabby carpet of 221B Baker Street is drenched in blood, and no one knows the fate of the protagonist. Appearing at Book Passage San Francisco June 2, 6 p.m.

Book, Five Presidents

Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin (Tiburon), Gallery Books, $28. Secret Service agent Clint Hill brings history intimately and vividly to life as he reflects on his years protecting the most powerful office in the nation. Hill walked alongside the title’s presidents through a long, tumultuous era. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera June 11, 1 p.m.

Book, Murder on the Quai

Murder on the Quai by Cara Black (San Francisco), Soho Crime, $27.95. The world knows Aimée Leduc as a cool, no-nonsense private investigator — the toughest in Paris. Now, author Cara Black dips back in time to reveal how Aimée first became a detective. Appearing at Book Passage Corte Madera June 12, 1 p.m.

Book picks by Book Passage Marketing Manager Zack Ruskin.