NativeAdVantage 10-Q2BA:

(10 Questions 2B Answered)

What do you do best?
What makes you the best?
Biggest success?
What are your aspirations?
Most challenging moment?
Favorite Motto?
Favorite People?
Favorite Places?
Favorite Products?
Current Passions?

Featured NativeAdVantage:

Andy Weir: Author of "The Martian"

John Philipson: VP, Six Senses Resorts

Tom Sito: Chair of Animation, USC Film School

Elizabeth Wynn: Broker, Sotheby's RE

Leonard Greenhalgh: Professor, Tuck-Darmouth)

Ryan Blair: NY Times Best Selling Author/Entrepreneur


Featured NativeAdVice:

Shai Reshef: Founder of University of the People

Paul D'Arcy: SVP of Indeed

Susan Hatje: GM of Mandarin Oriental, NY

Dan Laufer: Co-Founder of RentLingo

Hilary Laney: President of Tri-Digital

Greg Marsh: Co-Founder of onefinestay

Omar Qari: Co-Founder of Abacus

Gabriell Weinberg: Founder of DuckDuckGo

Stacy Rauen: E-I-C of Hospitality Design Mag

Jon Gray: CRO of HomeAway

Joe Speiser: Co-Founder of

Ben McKean: Co-Founder of HungryRoot

John Boiler: Founder/CEO of 72andSunny

Wayne Pacelle: CEO of The Humane Society of the US

Tom Guay: GM at The Sagamore Resort

Dr. Alejandro Junger: Founder of The Clean Program

Rob Flaherty: CEO of Ketchum

Neil Thanedar: Founder/CEO of LabDoor

Andy Grinsfelder: VP of Sales/Marketing, Delaware North Resorts

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: VP/Publisher of Women's Health

Avi Steinlauf: CEO of

Kathy Bloomgarden: CEO of Ruder Finn

Gabriel Flateman: Co-Founder/CTO of Casper

Mark Bartels: CEO of StumbleUpon

Bill Hagelstein: President/CEO of RPA

Adam Singolda: Founder/CEO of Taboola

Jonathan Plutzik: Proprietor of The Betsy-South Beach

Jessica Scorpio: Founder/VP of Marketing at GetAround

Ralph McRae: CEO of Leading Brands

Warren Berger: Bestselling Author

Liz Kaplow: Founder/CEO of Kaplow Communications

Dave Girouard: Founder/CEO of UpStart

Dave Asprey: Founder of BullectProof Executive

Douglas C. Smith: President of EDSA

Val Difebo: CEO of Deutsch NY

Guido Polito: CEO of Baglioni Hotels

Doyle Graham, Jr.: CEO of Valencia Group

Oscar Farinetti: Founder of Eataly

Angelo Sotira: CEO of DeviantART

Ali Khwaja: CFO of Safecharge

Zach Erdem: Proprietor of 75 Main

Jim Beley: GM of The Umstead Hotel

Alexis Gelburd-Kimler: Proprietor of West Bridge

Elie Georges: Proprietor of Hotel San Regis

Kalen Caughey: Founder o VOKE Tab

Michael Friedenberg: CEO of IDG

Donna Karan: Founder of DKNY

Edward Nardoza: Editor-in-Chief of WWD

Scott Dadich: Editor-in-Chief of Wired

Rhona Murphy: Former CEO of The Daily Beast

David J. Pecker: CEO of American Media

Lilian Roten: VP of Swissotel Hotels

Kenny Dichter: Founder/CEO of Wheels Up

Joshua Tetrick: Founder/CEO of Hampton Creek

Paul James: Global Brand Leader of The Luxury Collection

Dr. James Wagner: President of Emory University

Amy Thompson: President of ATM Artists & Management

Neil Gillis: President of Round Hill Music

Brett Matteson: President of Columbia Hospitality

Jonathan Reckford: CEO of Habitat For Humanity

Phil Harrison: President/CEO of Perkins+Will

Chef Bill Telepan

Tony Horton: Founder of P90X

Beth Weissenberger: Co-Founder of The Handel Group

Michael Fertik: Founder/CEO of

Dana Cowin: Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine

Bob Proctor: Chairman of Proctor/Gallagher Institute

Dennis Turcinovic: Owner of Delmonicos

Vittorio Assaf: Co-Founder of Serafina Restaurant Group

Shafqat Islam: Co-Founder of Newscred

Matt Williams: CEO of The Martin Agency

Bruce Rogers: Executive Chef at Hale & Hearty

Caleb Merkl: Co-Founder of Maple

Candy Argondizza: VP of Culinary at ICC

Neil Sazant: President of The Sagamore

Matt Straz: Founder/CEO of Namely

Terry Couglin: Managing Partner of Marta/Maialino

Andrei Cherny: Co-Founder/CEO of Aspiration

Ronen Nissenbaum: Managing Director of Waldorf Astoria NY

Patrick Godfrey: President of Godfrey Q

Sarah Berman: Founder/President of The Berman Group

Michael Schwartz: Owner of Genuine Hospitality Group

Stephan Aarstol: Founder/CEO of Tower Paddle Boards

Peter Shaindlin: COO of Halekulani Corp.

August Cardona: Founder/CEO of Epicurean Group

Nick Kenner: Co-Founder of Just Salad

« Jeanne Heileman: Founder, Tantra Flow Yoga | Main | Chris Ryan: Fitness Expert & Personal Trainer on NBC's STRONG »

Valerie Knopik, PhD: Director of Research for Yoga Medicine & Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at Brown University & yoga teacher

My NativeAdVantage:


Valerie Knopik, PhD, is the Director of Research for Yoga Medicine, a Senior Research Scientist & Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, and a yoga teacher in Providence, Rhode Island. Formally trained in classical ballet, as well as a former runner, Valerie has always been a believer in staying active but yoga is the perfect marriage of her work in mental health & her love of movement & anatomy. With a PhD in Psychology, Valerie is extremely active in mental health research, focusing on how our internal biology and our external physical environment (including yoga, mindfulness, and meditation) can interact to positively change our mental health landscape. Valerie’s sincere hope is that, while the physical asana practice might be the introduction to yoga (as it was for her), her students can utilize the asanas as a tool to find cohesion of body, mind, and spirit in order to experience fullness & purpose in their lives. Valerie lives with her husband and their two children (and a big, loveable Great Dane named Justice) in RI.

What do you do best?

If I had to pick one phrase to capture what I do best, it would be the following: I inspire others to pursue and achieve their true potential.  I wear multiple professional hats – one as an academic researcher/scientist mentoring postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty at Brown University, one as a Yoga Medicine trained teacher holding space and guiding students every week, (as of a few months ago) yet another as the Director of Research for Yoga Medicine.  While these professional hats used to feel very separate and distinct from one another, I find that now, more than ever, my experiences in these various domains are mutually informative.  I truly believe that this gives me an advantage and allows me to carve out a very specific niche.  What I do best boils down to this simple action, informed by all aspects of my life – inspire others to pursue and achieve their true potential, provide them with the tools to dig deep, start from within, and achieve their goals.

What makes you the best?

I am so passionate about my new role as Director of Research for Yoga Medicine because it allows me to draw on every modality of my experience to date.  Working alongside Tiffany Cruikshank and the Yoga Medicine team, I am building a research program focused on the application of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to improve health and the human condition.  Our vision is to educate and empower our global communities to use yoga therapeutically based on a deeper understanding through purposeful and well-designed research.  Through this effort, I have the honor of mentoring and training our Yoga Medicine community of teachers in the nuances of conducting research and to deliver purpose-driven yoga, meditation and mindfulness instruction as a way to robustly examine its effects on various health outcomes. In my view, this continues the push, already started by Yoga Medicine, to raise the bar on what it means to be yoga teacher. Education. Experience. Results.

I teach, mentor, and speak from a genuine and authentic place. That is, I use my own personal journey and experiences – both struggles and successes -- to connect with others and inform my work. I know that not everyone is going to appreciate that and that is okay; but, in working from that authentic place, I have built a community that encourages all to bring their unique gifts to the table and to shine brightly.  Moreover, I think that passion and authenticity actually shows – i.e., that it is evident to those around me and they can, in turn, find a safe refuge to learn and grow in that space that I have helped to create.

What are your aspirations?

In many ways, my personal and business goals are intertwined.

PERSONAL: To love fiercely (family and friends), to support unconditionally, to be passionate about what I do for a living, to be better at creating balance in my own life, to stay grounded through life’s challenges, and to be someone people want to be around. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in people’s lives.

BUSINESS: To continue to find ways to combine my two loves/careers – scientific research and yoga – in a way that is meaningful and balanced. To continue to be an outstanding mentor and teacher in all domains of my professional life. To continue to learn and grow by working and training with my own mentors.

Biggest Success?

I feel very fortunate to have worked incredibly hard and to say that I’ve been blessed with many successes.  My academic career has had a trajectory that I am very proud of and my path in yoga has, of late, blossomed into more than I could have imagined one year ago.  The joining of the two – research and yoga – via my role as Director of Research at Yoga Medicine, is something I dreamed of and something that I proud to say that I am diligently working toward.  However, I remain steadfast in saying that my family is my biggest success.  My two children and my marriage are the most important work that I do. They are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders and I would not be where I am today without them. They have shaped who I am and my work ethic (and, let’s be honest, having two children has honed my ability to juggle multiple jobs and projects!).

Most Challenging Moment?

There are three incredibly challenging moments that have shaped who I am – (1) the death of my mother when I was 12 years old; (2) the death of my 16-year-old niece; and (3) a 6-month separation from my husband.

(1)  When I was 12, my mom died of cancer. She was sick on and off for about 3 years before she passed.  Having to navigate those waters as a child – well, I can’t say that I did it very well.  I did the best that I could and my dad and siblings did the best they could.  But how do you survive that grief and that loss? I am still dealing with the aftermath of really having never completely processed many aspects of her death. I still wrestle with feelings of guilt that I didn’t go into her hospital room one last time before she died and the constant wondering of whether or not she would be proud of the person that I have become. But, losing her gave me such gifts…a relationship with my dad that is like no other and the fierce desire to be the best mom I could be (and you can bet that I celebrated inside myself when my children, one by one, turned 12 because I have officially had more time with them than I had with my mom) – and for these gifts, I am so incredibly grateful.

(2)  Four years ago, my 16-year-old niece, Leanna, fell ill with a rare viral infection of the heart, myocarditis. From the time she fell ill (with what seemed like the flu) to the time that she passed, was a little over one month.  ONE MONTH.  One month of touch and go.  One month of my brother and his wife living in the Ronald MacDonald house at the hospital.  One month of ups and downs and gut-wrenching decisions. One month of our family, in various combinations, rallying in that hospital waiting room. It still feels surreal. I wish every day that she was still here with us. Yet, what I take away from this is the lesson in how one person can affect one person can profoundly change another’s perspective on life…and to remember to enjoy each and every moment, because I’ll never get another moment quite like it.

(3)  My 6-month separation from my husband and our decision to make it work.  Five years ago, my husband and I were separated.  I will not go into the details but suffice it to say that we lost track of each other.  After 11+ years of marriage, we lost each other, plain and simple. During that separation, there were times when I was sure we were going to get a divorce and times when I wondered how our children were going to handle things.  I hate that we went through that period. But, I’m so incredibly grateful at the same time.  Why?  Because we found each other again, in all of our flaws and our individual differences, and we made the joint decision to try to make it work. That period in my life taught me how much effort a successful marriage (or any relationship, really) requires.  It is not something to just sit back and watch.  You need to be an active participant.  You can’t check out.  Not for one moment. It also taught me who was truly in my support network.  I still can’t believe it, but I lost people who I thought were good solid friends when my husband and I decided to move forward with our marriage.  For whatever reason, they couldn’t understand it or chose not to.  It taught me who was in my tribe…and those people who stood by me (and by us). I love those people fiercely and always will.


Sparkle it up and let your light shine! AND, of late, “If you limit your choices to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you really want, and all that is left is compromise.” – Robert Fritz

Favorite People/Role Models?

My dad, Walter Knopik, for showing me what it means to be a beautiful person, inside and out, and for teaching me the value of hard work.

My brothers, Chris Knopik and Steve Knopik and my sister, Barbara Baker for setting the bar and being supportive every step of the way.

My dearest and oldest friend, Kristi Garner, for everything.

My husband, Scott Kiekbusch, and our children, Violet and Ronin, for holding me accountable everyday and for teaching me how to love deeply and unconditionally.

My mentor, Tiffany Cruikshank, for pushing me to be the yoga teacher than I am today, for encouraging me to grow and find my niche, and for giving me the opportunity to join my love of research and my love of yoga in a way that empowers others.

My trainees and students, for trusting me and for teaching me.  I’ve learned so much from each and every one of them.

Favorite Places/Destinations?

Ah, here’s the short list:

Secret Beach (Kauai)


Punta Monterrey Beach Resort, Mexico

Siesta Key Beach, Florida

Birch Restaurant, Providence, RI

Favorite Products/Objects?

Manduka Eko yoga mat

Rad Roller myofascial release balls

Meditate Your Weight, by Tiffany Cruikshank

The Great Work of Your Life, by Stephen Cope

My trusted meditation pillow

Any drawing or project created by my children

Current Passions?

Yoga, science, research, the beach, the ocean, food, dark chocolate, music, cooking, wine, reading for pleasure (not work), down time, relaxing at home, Sunday afternoons with no obligations, movies, massages, my family – translation???  Anything that fuels me and makes me feel alive!

(Photo Credit: Bethany O Photograpy)