This Could Be The Most Shockingly Open Entrepreneur On This Whole Freakin’ Site – with Alexis Neely

In the very first set of questions, I asked Alexis Neely how she could teach business skills without feeling like a fraud since she filed for bankruptcy.

What I admire about her response is that, instead of being embarrassed to talk about it or making excuses, she opened up. She talked about feeling like a fraud BEFORE her bankruptcy, but also what she did to protect her money and her family from bankruptcy. If you’re someone who puts it all on the line, LISTEN to what she did. It’ll relieve a lot of pressure.

Oh, and you know how I ask entrepreneurs about how past hurts made them more determined to succeed, but very few founders are willing to be open about that question. Alexis’ answer is so personal and so open that you’ll probably not want to listen to it around anyone who’s judgmental.

Watch the FULL program

Alexis Neely, Eyes Wide Open Life

Alexis Neely is the founder of Lawbusinessmentors.com, where she teaches lawyers the business skills they need. She is also the Chief Visionary Officer of Eyes Wide Open Life, where she offers a radical new perspective on making your personal finance and business decisions.

 

Raw transcript

Mixergy's audio transcription is done by Speechpad

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Alright, let’s get started. Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. And this is a story of a lawyer, who quit practicing law and went on to build a multi-million dollar licensing business and of the shocking thing that happened after that. Alexis Neely is the founder of lawbusinessmentors.com, where she teaches lawyers the business skills they need. And, she is the Chief Visionary Officer of Eyes Wide Open Life, where she offers a radical new perspective on making your personal finance and business decisions.

Welcome, Alexis.

Alexis: Thank you. It is great to be here. I love that your people are freedom fighters.

Andrew: That is right.

Alexis: Say yes to that freedom.

Andrew: I was teasing. The shocking thing that happened to you, let’s skip and go right to it. You filed for bankruptcy?

Alexis: I did.

Andrew: Does that suck?

Alexis: No.

Andrew: It does not suck? It is not even painful?

Alexis: It was honestly the best thing that ever happened to me. Now, I do not recommend it for everyone. It is not the easiest path and, at the same time, I do recommend you build your business without being afraid of it.

Andrew: Without being afraid of bankruptcy?

Alexis: Say that again?

Andrew: Without being afraid of bankruptcy?

Alexis: Yes. Without being afraid of bankruptcy. Without being afraid to go into debt. Without being afraid to ruin your credit score. And, without being afraid to ultimately, if necessary, file bankruptcy. As I said, I do not recommend it for everybody, but it was absolutely critical to my path. And, it allowed me to get to the bottom as to what is actually the truth about money, debt, credit, and building businesses.

Andrew: What about this? I sometimes feel like a fraud, if I ask a guest a question about how to get traffic, and I think I should know this by now. How can I possibly respect myself if I looking out at the audience and saying, “I interviewed all of these entrepreneurs and I learned something and now I am about to ask a question like an amateur?” The bigger fear is if you teach finance and then you file for bankruptcy, Does that make you feel like how can I look the audience in the face? How can I ask people to trust me with decisions? Was there a moment that you felt that?

Alexis: The moments that I felt that were actually before I filed bankruptcy.

Andrew: Tell me more about that feeling.

Alexis: Yeah. That feeling was that I knew deep inside of me that the answers to freedom, financial freedom, and all of these things we think that we want when we go into business, were not about saving money, were not about spending less, were not about saving for retirement, were not about paying off debt. I knew it, but I was not living it. Instead, I was living this very conditioned life, in fact, very trapped. I will go back to 2009; businesses are making about $2 million that year. I am appearing on all the top television shows: Good Morning America, Today’s Show, O’Reilly, all of them. Straight-hair, fancy makeup, no feathers, no little jewels on my face, and as I am going on these shows I know that I am just regurgitating the party line.

Andrew: What is the party line that you were regurgitating?

Alexis: Save for retirement, pay off your debt, be responsible, do the right thing, build a business so that you can be successful.

Andrew: And, were you really doing that?

Alexis: I was doing that, but I was not successful, Andrew. I was not successful on the inside.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Alexis: My relationship with my kids was in the toilet. They were, back then, seven and ten, and I had sworn to myself, when I first started building a business when I went into my law practice in 2000 that by the time my kids were those ages, seven and ten, I would slow down and spend more time with them. That wasn’t even on the horizon because in my mind, I couldn’t relax until I had $40 million in the bank. Because $40 million dollars invested at five percent would throw off $2 million a year and then I could relax. Until then, I had to work, work, work, be a workaholic, show up in a very specific way, blow my hair straight, put on the makeup, show up, smile, follow the party line.

It wasn’t true to what I really was. Again, I had this voice in the back of my head saying, “Alexis, you know this isn’t true. You know that there is no actual saving for retirement. There is no point at which you’re going to have enough money saved, that it’s going to be enough. Even though your business is bringing in $2 million, you’ve only got $20,000 in the bank.”

Andrew: Why do you end up with just $20,000 when your business is doing so much in revenue?

Alexis: Because there’s overhead and there’s expenses.

Andrew: What kind of expenses did you have at that point?

Alexis: Huge payroll. I’d hired a coach for $100,000. All of the things that come up along the way. Media, doing media is a very expensive proposition. That’s not cheap. You have to fly yourself everywhere. Back then I had to fly first-class because that’s what I was taught. If I fly first-class then I’m going to be more effective. In some respects it’s true, but there’s a cost to that. Just getting my hair done is $100 a pop and I had to get it done every time that I went on TV. The clothes. You know you’ve got to buy clothes every time that you’re going on TV. All of these little things add up.

Of course, you have to live the lifestyle. Right? If you’re holding yourself out there as this super successful person, then you have to be living that. Of course, I had a Mercedes. I had a house on the beach in Hermosa. I had to have full-time childcare for my kids because I’m a working entrepreneurial mom and can’t do that without someone taking care of the kids. I was divorced so I had to know that everything was taken care of.

Then, just the amount of money it took to run the businesses, believe me, I made a lot of bad decisions when it came to investing in growing my businesses because I’m a big risk taker.

Andrew: What’s a bad decision that you made?

Alexis: I gave some guys $10,000 because they promised they could generate me leads. They were basically scam artists.

Andrew: I see. You were saying, “I’ve got to run quickly. I don’t have enough time to make sure that everyone is legit. I did a little bit of investigation. Give me the traffic that I need. Give me the leads that I need. If it doesn’t work out, hey, that’s the cost of doing business.”

Then, you had $20,000 in the bank. How did you end up going bankrupt then?

Alexis: At the time, the $20,000 in the bank now I realize actually that’s fine. That’s actually fine. I was making enough money to pay the bills every month, but my life was not in alignment with how I really wanted it to be. For example, big wake up call, I’m sitting on the sound stage of Nancy Grace. Do you know who Nancy Grace is? Super abrasive.

Andrew: Yes, a little bit.

Alexis: Okay. Super abrasive, lawyer-type on television.

Andrew: CNN, I think? Is that right?

Alexis: CNN. Mm-hmm. Basically, when the television people called, I went. That meant that four hours of my day was gone. Hair and makeup, [???] car from the studio, from Redondo Beach to downtown Los Angeles, or whatever it was. I’m sitting there in front of the camera. You have to stay there for the whole show. This show happened to be about Tiger Woods. You remember back when he had his divorce? I’m sitting there waiting to go on, and I realized that I was there to gossip about another human being.

Andrew: Yes.

Alexis: Gossip about a person, and that I was contributing to the world negative 100 at best, maybe negative 1,000. That is not what I was devoting my life to.

I made a promise to myself that day that I would never do TV again until I could do transformational TV. I didn’t even know what transformational TV was, but it sounded better than what I was doing. I really love TV. Let me let you know that. I love being on TV.

Andrew: What do you love about being on TV?

Alexis: It’s the one time that my mind completely shuts off, generally. Not this one time. Generally speaking, when I’m in front of the camera, and I’m all done up, I’m looking the perfect way, I know exactly what to say, I know how to say it, I know how to speak to the camera without . . .

Andrew: You can do so many other things really well. There’s something about television, about having people watch you, about being a celebrity. What was it about it that appealed to you?

Alexis: I have a deep, deep, deep desire to be seen. A deep . . .

Andrew: Where does that come from?

Alexis: Oh, gosh. Conditioning. My parents really thought all of that was super cool growing up. I was the pretty one. My sister was the smart one.

Andrew: It seems to come from a personal need to . . . Like for me, I wanted to be . . . I wanted a lot of attention. It’s because I wanted women to want me.

Alexis: Wow. Okay. [???]

Andrew: That’s where it came from.

Alexis: Okay. Okay.

Andrew: For you, on a personal . . . Get personal with me.

Alexis: I’m sure you ask great questions. I had to prove something to the people I went to high school with.

Andrew: What did you have to prove?

Alexis: That I was smart. That I was as good as them. That I could be something in the world, and I wasn’t the person that they said I was.

Andrew: What did they say you were?

Alexis: I was the high school slut.

Andrew: That’s what they said.

Alexis: Which turns out I actually am that, too.

Andrew: What do you mean? Were you really?

Alexis: Yes, I totally was. But, I thought that was a bad thing and I shamed myself for it a lot.

Andrew: Were you the high school slut because you were trying to prove something and get people to like you, or were you just that kind of free spirit at the time and it was the label that . . . I see, that’s what it was.

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: You wanted to shove it in their face?

Alexis: Yes. Absolutely. I wanted to prove it to them. I wanted to prove to them that I am smart, that I am capable. I mean, that desire drove me for a long time.

I graduated first in my class from Georgetown Law. Why? Because I wanted to prove to everybody that I wasn’t stupid. When I started Georgetown Law, I was certain that I was the stupidest person there because I went to a state college and everybody else went to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. What I didn’t realize is that the people who went to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale that were at Georgetown, they weren’t the ones who did the best at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. It turns out maybe I was the smartest person there because I came from a state school. Actually, I wasn’t. The truth is that I just studied more than everybody else. I studied more than anybody else out of fear.

I was living my life based on fear. I built businesses that were bringing in $2 million because I was afraid of running out of money, because I was afraid of not being good enough. Not because it was true to who I actually was or what I really needed. Today, we have businesses that are doing $2 million, but not to fill a hole, which is exactly what you’re getting at.

Andrew: Do you still get to keep the money from your businesses, or is it under some kind of trust?

Alexis: No. I do get to. I don’t . . . Okay. Let’s take a step back.

I get paid very well by my businesses now. I keep all of that. I don’t own my businesses. When I speak about my businesses, they’re not owned by me, personally. I have very good asset protection set up such that my businesses are owned by a series of irrevocable trusts. Remember I was an estate planning lawyer. A series of irrevocable trusts that are for the benefit of me, that are for the benefit of my children, but are controlled by someone else. It’s the best form of asset protection that you can have.

And, while we’re mentioning it, because almost all company founders should set their businesses up this way, even if you’re not afraid of bankruptcy, there are other risks that could come along and you want your companies always protected from those risks.

Andrew: It’s in a trust, so if for some reason you go bankrupt, or someone says, “Hey, you know what? This woman has a lot of money. I think I slipped on the floor of her house at a party recently. She better pay me tons of money.” Say, “Look. I don’t have the money. The trusts have it.”

Alexis: That’s exactly right.

Andrew: How do we set something like that up?

Alexis: You’ve got to work with a lawyer and you need to work with a lawyer who is specifically trained in how to do domestic asset protection planning. This is not offshore asset protection planning, it’s domestic. It’s a little complicated because you cannot set it up for yourself. A family member or a friend needs to set it up for you. There are not a lot of lawyers out there who know how to do it.

I do have lawyers that I’ve trained over the past several years. They’re called personal family lawyers. You can talk with a personal family lawyer more about it, or a creative business lawyer. Maybe the business lawyers might even have more information about it.

It’s something that when I find when I talk to most business owners about it, they’re reluctant to do because it’s a big investment at the beginning of your company. If you wait until your company is already set up, it’s actually much harder to do. But when you set it up at the beginning of your company, it’s a lot easier to do, because you’re basically having a trust set up and it’s going to start the company for you, as opposed to you having to try and have the trust buy your business once it already has value.

Andrew: I did one of those. You end up with this stack of paperwork, first of all. And you end up with a lot of up-front time and setup. And then you have to pay annually, right? And you have to…

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: So that’s why a lot of people don’t do it…

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: ‘Cause you’re just getting started, you’re trying to figure out, “Is this even going to go anywhere?” And…

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: …the reason that you were able to do it is because you had enough of a track record, and I guess by that point…actually, why were you able to do it? You just came out of bankruptcy. Why were you suddenly able to say, “I’m going to put all this money in up front?”

Alexis: I did this many years before my bankruptcy. [???]

Andrew: So you were able to protect your money in bankruptcy?

Alexis: Yeah. The company’s.

Andrew: Oh, no wonder you’re smiling so much. I was asking about bankruptcy, and I didn’t see a horrified look. So you kept the companies?

Alexis: The trust kept the companies, yes.

Andrew: I see, and you just…

Alexis: Yeah. There was some part of me that I think always knew that bankruptcy would be part of my path. I had once heard about Jack Canfield, and he’s been through bankruptcy, and Brendan Burchard has been through bankruptcy, and Donald Trump, of course has been through bankruptcy. And I looked at, what do all of these entrepreneurs have in common that would lead them to bankruptcy? It was that they recognized that you have to take risks in business. And, in fact, that’s one of my messages that I’m not bringing out after the bankruptcy, after having gone through the bankruptcy, is that there are so many people who are sacrificing their lives. And this is where I was — I was sacrificing my life to pay back my debt, and locked into a business model that kept me trapped in the made-up face, the straight hair, showing up in a certain way. And when I would break free of that, my team members would say, “Alexis, you can’t say that.” If they heard me talking about being the class slut, they would freak out, like, “That is not OK.”

Andrew: Why didn’t you freak out when you said that right now? I look at people because I know I like to push the boundaries, but I notice where I push too far, and that’s why I love video. You were fine. You had a calmness about you. Why doesn’t that make you feel like, “Whoo, I just admitted that?”

Alexis: [laughs] I’ve done the work on it.

Andrew: How’d you do the work on that?

Alexis: I’ve done tremendous personal work on it. [SS] How?

Andrew: Yeah. What’d you do?

Alexis: I’ve confronted my shame around my sexuality in a number of different ways. Tantra classes, therapists, coaches. Being now part of a community of people who support all of me, going to Burning Man. Have you…

Andrew: What’s the community, sorry, what’s the last part?

Alexis: Have you been to Burning Man?

Andrew: No, I haven’t.

Alexis: [laughs]

Andrew: What’s the community that you’re a part of?

Alexis: So, I’m part of a community of people that come out of Burning Man. A lot of them live in San Francisco, and they accept me exactly as I am. They’re entrepreneurs, they’re living this life of sovereignty where they get to show up exactly as they are without shame, without guilt, without fear. They’re not trying to prove anything. And I’ll be honest, when I first connected with this community, actually, through my coach, Brian Franklin — you may have interviewed Brian…

Andrew: Oh, yeah.

Alexis: Yeah. Brian was my coach several years ago. And I thought he was coaching me on my business, and he was, but what I really realize now is that he was coaching me on how to be all of me without shame. And he did it very sneakily. I didn’t know what it was about. I probably wouldn’t have hired him, had I known. [laughs] Because that’s not what I was looking for. I was looking for how to actually transition my business more to my team, which is what I thought that I wanted. What he helped me realize is that I didn’t want that team to support my business because they didn’t really support the me that I am — the slutty, free spirit, sexual girl. They wanted me in a box.

I was never going to be able to do what I’m really here to do in the world, which ultimately is about helping people to live beyond shame, guilt and fear. I do it in a number of different ways, and the businesses don’t say that on the outside, but, you know, at the core. But I never would be able to do that from the box.

Andrew: You started out as a lawyer, and then you started your own practice, right?

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: So you took the right path going out of Georgetown Law School.

Alexis: Yup.

Andrew: Then, at one point, you realize, “I want to build a business outside of it. That’s the business that I mentioned at the top of the interview.” What was that business?

Alexis: That business is the business that still exists today. It’s called New Law Business Model. Our website is at lawbusinessmentors.com. And it didn’t start off that way. It was originally called Family Wealth Planning Institute. And it was a business training lawyers on how to serve families with the New Law Business Model that I had created in my own law practice.

Andrew: What’s this model? I want, I keep talking about or I started at the top of the interview confronting the toughest questions in the interview about what you did wrong, bankruptcy and we’ll get back to that. But I want to know also what you did right. So…

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: What was this model that worked for you?

Alexis: So this model was one where I was no longer focusing on the next new client, the next new client, the next new client, wasn’t building anything on an hourly basis. And instead was building lifetime relationships with my clients in which they knew that their plan was going to work when their family needed it the most. And what was the most radical part about it at the time is that I narrowly focused my client, my practice on serving families with young children. That was the turning point.

Andrew: And you created a licensing program for $997. Any one who went through this program got licensed. How many people did you get to pay it?

Alexis: The first time that we offered it was back in 2007. I think we enrolled 13 lawyers in it, which was now all the sudden 13,000 a month. It wasn’t 997 once, it was 997 a month.

Andrew: A month?

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: And what were they getting for that?

Alexis: Back then they were getting basically everything that I did in my practice. All of my forms, all of my checklists, all of my processes, all of my procedures. I had created a product on how lawyers could engage nearly every client, every prospect that called their office.

Andrew: OK.

Alexis: Step-by-step system for how to answer your phone, what to say when you answer your phone, what to send out after someone makes an appointment, how to make sure they don’t cancel their appointments. It’s still one of our best selling products today, been upgraded a number of times. Back then, I didn’t know anything about creating products. And they, even though, I offered so little relative to what we offer today through that business they loved it. It transformed their practices. Many of those lawyers that joined are still with us today. To this day, still with us.

Andrew: What did you do right that got them to sign up? Then I’m going to ask you about this thing you told Jeremy in the pre-interview.

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: What did you do right that worked out for such a, to be so successful with your first product out of the gate?

Alexis: Well, I wasn’t so successful with my first product out of the gate. My very first product was something called the Kids Protection Planning Kit.

Andrew: OK.

Alexis: And I was actually a miserable failure with it. I invested about 15,000 in creating it. And then was dancing around when I sold my first one for 397 bucks and I couldn’t figure out how to sell the rest. I took out an ad buy on the blogger network and spent $5000. And they pulled it within 30 seconds because it was so in your face, over the top, red headlines, alarm, alarm, alarm that the moms wouldn’t run it on their sites. You know, I was a Dan Kennedy student. So I was just following…

Andrew: That’s his model to get people’s attention?

Alexis: Yeah, what he taught. But it doesn’t work, you know, you’ve got to adapt it. It’s not the same for moms. And I didn’t know that and have learned a lot since then. But that was my first product. I was failing, end of my line of credit. I had lots of revenue coming in but I was spending it all trying to figure out how to make this leap from one-to-one service to the one-to-many when I went to a Dan Kennedy event and met a guy there who I ended up hiring as my coach. He coached me to launch my next project which was the Plan Engagement System. With that product we did a phone call, one phone call, my very first tele-seminar ever we did $117,000 in sales. And that time I was really running around screaming.

Andrew: [Laughs] What did he tell you to do differently?

Alexis: He told me to focus on creating a product that was for the lawyers, not for the consumers. For the lawyers, that was something that I did in my office that was extremely unique, that provided a great value, that other lawyers needed to know how to do, that they didn’t do.

Andrew: I see.

Alexis: And then he, literally, step-by-step held my hand, interviewed me on the call, walked me through the whole process of having a tele-seminar, writing the script for the tele-seminar, writing all the emails to go out ahead of time. I didn’t have a list. Building the list, all of it. We had 750 registered for that call. My biggest fear was that we’d sell one because I didn’t have the product done. But we didn’t, we sold $117,000 worth. Over six weeks, we did about $200,000 of that product. Half the people returned it.

Andrew: Why? That’s what I was getting at from your conversation with Jeremy.

Alexis: Yeah, because I didn’t know how to build a product on the fly. And Dave didn’t know at the time really either. So what I put together as the product, was the kind of product that you are either going to either open the box and be so committed to figuring out how to apply it, because you had to go through different notebooks, and you know, it was kind of messy, that you’re going to apply it and get immediate results. Or you’re going to look at it and say, “Whoa, this is too much,” and send it back.

Andrew: I see.

Alexis: You know, I didn’t have any stick (??) campaigns set up, I didn’t know any of that back then. So half the people returned it, but half the people used it and started sending me unsolicited testimonials, about how, within the very first time of using it, they’ve increased their fees two thousand dollars. Their clients are telling them that they loved the process of working with them, that they’re so happy to pay their fees. Things that don’t happen to lawyers a lot of the time. And so, over the years we’ve upgraded the product of course.

Andrew: And this guy is David D.? That’s the name of the person?

Alexis: Yes, his name is Dave D. Today he is the chief marketing officer of Dan Kennedy’s business, Glazer Kennedy Inner Circle, but back then he was a magician turned entrepreneurial coach.

Andrew: I mean, literally a magician?

Alexis: Yes, literally he’s a great (??)…

Andrew: Oh I thought you were saying he was a magician because he turned around things for you. No, he was a magician who decided he was going to be an entrepreneurial coach. And unlike so many entrepreneurial coaches, he actually knew what he was doing.

Alexis: Well right, because he had built his magic business from three shows a month and failing, to doing fifty-seven shows a month using Dan Kennedy’s systems. And then he had started teaching other magicians how to do the same thing. And then branched into working with entrepreneurs, which is when I caught him.

Andrew: Alright, so at this point, now you’re in the product business, not the selling your time per hour business. You’re growing, you’re writing a book. You started to write a book. What’s the book, and how did it do?

Alexis: Right. The book is called, “Wear Clean Underwear.” It is the best- selling book on Legal Planning for Parents. And if you’re wondering why “Wear Clean Underwear”, it is because your mom tells you to wear clean underwear in case you are in an accident. But once you’re a parent, wearing clean underwear alone is not enough. there’s important legal planning steps to take.

Andrew: That’s what I was watching just as you and I started this call. I saw you on the Today show.

Alexis: Today show. Good Morning America. It was a phenomenal hit. A best seller. I ran my first best seller campaign for it. And, more than a best seller campaign, it was all the TV that I got to start doing, which was for me very exciting, because that was like the pinnacle of success.

Andrew: And this is where you started to do millions in sales, and here’s what you told Jeremy Weiss our pre-interviewer. You said, “I was constantly hearing this message in my head: “Alexis, you can’t do that. You can’t say that. You can’t write that. You can’t wear that. You’ll hurt your business.”

Alexis: That’s right.

Andrew: Is it really like that in your head? Just that chatter constantly saying, “Oh, why are you saying that? Why are you wearing that? Why are you about to tell them? Why? Aren’t you hiding this? What if they find out?” Is that what’s going on?

Alexis: It was. And it wasn’t just in my head. I was hearing it from my team. The people that I hired to work with me.

Andrew: Oh you mean, literally hearing it from people?

Alexis: Yes! Like literally from people. And then, I’m a big believer that everything we see outside of ourselves is a reflection of our own internal consciousness. So I was getting that reflected back to me from my team, from lawyers out there who did not like what I was doing at all.

Andrew: What do you mean? What didn’t they like about it?

Alexis: It was too in your face. I was doing sales and marketing. And a lot of lawyers are not ok with sales and marketing. It’s not professional. And the true me, like the real me, is not a straight-laced traditional lawyer. This is the real me. So, when I would bring out the real me, the lawyer community would make fun of me. It was like a repeat of high school.

Andrew: I see.

Alexis: And it was perfect, actually. Because I needed to have that repeat of high school as an adult, when I as an adult woman could deal with it. But I had to learn how to deal with it as an adult woman, and not respond to it as I did in high school.

Andrew: What were you doing to respond to it as an adult?

Alexis: Well, I didn’t really actually handle it that well at first. And I was torn between shutting myself down or really going over the top, and preemptively rejecting everything that I thought was rejecting me. So I almost killed the lawyer business, in fact, at one point, I was that close to giving it away to the woman that I’d hired to support me in that business. And I remember her on a call, we were on a call together. This was after we had a, I fired her, and she, and then I felt really bad. I felt really really, really bad, and so I called her, and I was apologizing and just this whole, like, cathartic crying thing, and she said,

“You know, you don’t even like the lawyer business,” which wasn’t true, but she was kind of feeding that into my head. “It doesn’t let you be who you are. Why don’t you just give it to me?” And at the time, I thought that maybe that was the right idea because if I couldn’t be who I really was and I, all I wanted was the work to continue. If I couldn’t serve the lawyers as the way they needed to be served, then maybe she could. Maybe she could take my work and build it and grow it and really give them what they needed. And so, I said “OK. OK.”

Andrew: [??] did you do it? Did you actually give her the company?

Alexis: No. She sent me a one-page document that I was supposed to sign over and send back to her, and when I looked at the document, the voice I heard in my head was “Alexis, are you crazy? This is your life work. You’re just in a, in a crisis moment. Don’t sign it over to her.” And I didn’t. Thank God [laughs]. Thank God. She did go and start a competing business, competing to some degree as much as, you know, she can’t really compete, but to some degree. And I then spent the next year completely deconstructing the business and looking at what is it that really provides so much value to the lawyers that they are willing to pay for it for the rest of their business lives.

Andrew: What was that?

Alexis: It was my creativity. There was a group of lawyers. What I, what I basically did is I cut the investment program down to a bare minimum. And I let go of the entire team, so I was able to run the business with basically just me . . .

Andrew: OK.

Alexis: . . . and few outsourced people. And what I noticed is that one of the lawyers said to me, “Wow, Alexis, you have priced this so that I will never leave.” And then I looked at what could I deliver at that price point because we had been charging 7,500 up front and 1,500 a month. So, I brought it down to $497 a month. And what I was delivering was a monthly marketing campaign for him to use in his local community, presentations that he could use in his local community, and at that point, really just that besides the systems. You know, we have our ??] . . .

Andrew: You mean if he goes out to like a Kiwanis club or Rotary Club, you give him what, you give him, you tell him what to say.

Alexis: I tell him what to say, what to do at the end of the meeting, how to follow up, all of that. How to set up his own presentations with the Mommy & Me groups. It’s a very niche, unique thing that we do.

Andrew: I see.

Alexis: So, you know, really opening up a whole other market. And then I started to add things in. Like now, we provide a weekly article that the lawyers can use in their local blog or newsletter, a monthly, a newsletter that they can send out in their local community. So, I started to add things in that weren’t dependent on me. So now, whereas before they, I was getting on the phone with all of them, once a month, getting on the phone with them. No, cut that out. Nobody’s getting on the phone with me again. And … it’s been about now, it’s, that we really started to rebuild.

About a year and a half ago, I decided, you know what? I can do this. I can be me, and I can still serve the lawyers. And when the haters were talking about me after that, I started to really like it. Like, really like it. It was good when the haters were talking about me, which was a hugesy [sounds like] change. I mean, that was like, completely radical a shift.

Andrew: Did you have a period in your life where you could let yourself just go. I mean before you started in business? Or, was . . .

Alexis: No.

Andrew: . . . it only? No.

Alexis: No. Ever.

Andrew: If it [sounds like] happened, did it happen after this incident that you told you me about with Nancy Grace where you decided, I’m not going to be this? And then you packed up your bags as I heard it, and you moved. What’d you do?

Alexis: [laughs] Right. So, in the midst of all of this time period that I’m telling you about, I sold the Mercedes, let go, we moved to Colorado. So, that was the first step was, January 1st, 2010, moved to Colorado, got away from L.A. and all the T.V. stuff. And I thought that would be the solution, but really it was just a perpetuation to move into this, you know, 5,800 square foot house on a lake, have a Mercedes. I’m spending 16 hours a day in my little office where my kids come home from school and go downstairs and play video games ’til 9:00 at night. That was, that was not . . .

Andrew: So, the rest of it wasn’t changed. Were you still married at the time?

Alexis: Oh, no no. No. My marriage ended in 2005 when I was in my law practice, but my ex-husband was living with me. He actually moved with us to Colorado. He’s living with us.

Andrew: But [??] you got, you got a divorce, but your ex-husband was not only living with you, but he moved to Colorado with you.

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: Why?

Alexis: Yeah. Yeah, he actually moved to Colorado with you.

Alexis: Yeah, yeah, he, actually, still is with me today.

Andrew: That’s got to be tough for dating.

Alexis: No, my partner, actually, just upstairs, they get along great.

Andrew: That’s…

Alexis: It’s unique.

Andrew: Okay.

Alexis: Yeah, it’s really good for the kids, and we figured out how to make it work. We are moving in July and he’s going to get his own place now, but it was really what we need to do. We needed to come together to be able to really support the kids, and ultimately, that was not the answer either, just moving to Colorado was not the answer. I had to let it all go and moved to a farm. I ended up buying this farm in Berthoud, Colorado and had actually bought it for my ex-husband start a business, but that got screwed up. I realize now that universally from a spirit-based perspective, I didn’t buy it for my husband the start a business, I bought it so I could go lived there when I needed to be up to let go of everything. And I did.

I let go of their Mercedes, the house, the personal chef, the housekeeper, the personal assistant. My entire team brought it all in so I could decrease my expenses as much as possible and stop doing anything for the money. And look at, okay, if I don’t need any money as I’ve got really enough coming in just in this recurring revenue from these products that I’ve created, there was another business to which today’s called Eyes Wide Open Life that had some products and I had enough money coming from that, then I have to take on another private guide up. I don’t want to I don’t have to take on another private client if I don’t want to, I don’t have to do anything more than what I’m doing. What is my life like? And it was like what it is now. Where I have an amazing relationship with my kids.

There’s no more working at night, very little if any working on the weekends. And only if there’s something super exciting going on and I really want to. I have just started taking on the occasional, private, client when I’m really super drawn to do so. Instead, what I’ve done is I looked at, do I still want to serve lawyers be answer was absolutely, unequivocally, yes. How do I want to do it? And now the business that we rebuilt, actually, with my partners support, is a business. It’s a real business. It’s not dependent on me, although I play a major role in it; it and we are back up to 100 lawyers. The investment in the program is back up to $997 month. It’ll likely increase the again, because we’re about to include a custom InfusionSoft application that were building for our lawyers.

Andrew: …and if they had InfusionSoft, they can get to use your application to make InfusionSoft work better for lawyers.

Alexis: ….to automate all of their client and prospect communications and to streamline how they interact with the members of their team. And everything’s tasked out and all of the logic is built-in.

Andrew: That’s all right. But, I still don’t see where the bankruptcy came in, because everything you’re doing, maybe scaling down at times, but your scaling up also. I don’t see anything that would lead to bankruptcy yet. The other thing is, I don’t see that you ever had a period in your life where you could just say screw it all. I’m going to be myself. I’m going to just do whatever I feel like, because even when you went to the farm, you were still a mom you are still running your business, right. Did you ever get the chance to just say forget the world and I’m going to do what I want and find out who I am and how to balance who I am with what people want.

Alexis: Yeah, I’m never not going to not be a mom, right so that has to be a part of it. 2010 to 2011, was really that time. 2010, 2011 I moved to the farm. I stopped taking on private clients, making enough money from the recurrent revenue that I don’t have to do anything for the money. And that was that time period of complete letting go. Complete, total letting go. And I remember actually my partner said to me one time during it… And believe me I I’m glossing over, it was a very challenging time, I’m making it seem like a was all very easy, but the time leading up to it, with which is probably the summer of 2011, I was in tremendous emotional turmoil . I mean, crying every single day trying to hold on to the big house and the car. It was like I was like I’m getting ripped away in many ways.

Andrew: I see in your self-identity, I imagine, is connected to it. Do you have this Mercedes?

Alexis: Completely. Oh yeah, I mean my self-Identity is connected to me showing up in a certain way, looking a certain way, having a certain product score.

Andrew: And the only reason why went away is because financially, you had to let it go.

Alexis: Had to is a strong word. I chose to… in order to, get the space that I needed to discover the truth of who I was.

Andrew: I see.

And I actually…prior to this happening at the end of 2009, I actually developed a process called Money Map to Freedom that gave me the structure that I needed to be able to do this. Back then when I started to go through this crisis experience I said to my CFO, Keith I can’t keep doing things the way I’m doing them. I need you to tell me how much money I actually need to live? He couldn’t answer the question.

And so I developed this process that helped me to identify how much did I actually need. Because $40 million was a lie and that was of course what I thought. And so, I put together this process where I could look at what did I really want my life to be like at four different levels. Minimum to be happy. Preferred if I could afford it. No limits and now, the actual reality of the now.

When I did that process, what I saw is that…and I did it a couple of time over, but by the time I was ready to let go of everything. I saw that I could live on at the bare minimum, moving to the farm, not paying the mortgage, not paying back my debt, giving up the Mercedes, all of it, letting go of the team and just running the business myself I could live on of $5,000 a month.

That $5,000 a month was coming in from the businesses easy. I could do a couple of affiliate things. I could sell products here and there, really low stress. And that is exactly what I did for leading up to the bankruptcy. As I had brought my income down to really not nothing, $5,000 a month. But, for me that was nothing. Let my bank accounts go lower than I ever let them go.

Even in law school, Andrew, I had $10,000 in my bank account. That was like my minimum. And I’m on student loans and putting myself through law school. My parents did not have money growing up. So, I paid for everything myself. But, I always had that $10,000 in the bank, and I let it go. I let it go down to nothing. And found my liberation in that. That’s where found who I really am.

During this, by the way we haven’t mentioned this other part of me yet. This other person. This other persona emerged. Your name is Ali Shanti. I haven’t talk to Jeremy about Ali Shanti, did I?

Andrew: No, just hold on a sec. Let me just make sure. I’m just writing down Ali Shanti. I want to talk to you about that, but just to clear it’s you said I’m not going to support this lifestyle anymore. And I know I’m little locked in the paying this mortgage, paying the car, etc. I’m going to intentionally decide to earn less and to not pay for those debts and let myself go bankrupt and then I can re-emerge with some freedom and some space. OK.

Then I can re-emerge as who I really am.

Andrew: Ali Shanti.

I didn’t know that at the time, but yes. Ali Shanti. I could find out who I am. I could really re-build things with the right foundation. And there was a time period this time last year, I would say. Maybe eighteen months ago, where I remember going into the grocery store and I only brought a hundred dollars cash in with me and having to put groceries back.

I wanted to have that experience, because I know that I’m here on this planet to help people who are having that experience. And I cannot help people who are having that experience without having had that experience myself. I cannot help people by being the girl who graduated first in her class from Georgetown and built these multi-million dollar businesses, and you’re going to trust me when I tell you to stop saving money and stop paying off your debt. Bullshit.

You going to call me. I’m going to be a fraud if I don’t go through it myself. So, I did I went through it myself and It’s been about almost a year now since we’ve been re-building. August of 2012, I filed bankruptcy and here’s what really cool about filing bankruptcy. The day after you file bankruptcy, you can start making money again.

And there are so many people keeping themselves trapped in the mindset of I can’t make money because I owe all this money. I can’t make money because I don’t have access to the resources. I can’t take on debt. And we have to break free of that. Debt is a tool to help you build wealth. It is nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it is a tool. Your credit score is no indication of your self-worth, despite what magazines and all these other things tell you. It’s not true. It’s what’s keeping you a slave, and it is my absolute mission and commitment to free you of that once and for all.

Andrew: Because people start to get down about themselves, start to define themselves as losers because they have this big debt.

Alexis: Absolutely. I experienced that myself where it would have been very easy for me to get trapped there even with all of the resources that I have access to – my mind, my degree, my…

Andrew: … But you at least had a business that was kicking off enough cash and was protected so that you could continue to earn a living from it.

Alexis: I did have that.

Andrew: When we have debt we feel like, alright, I could declare bankruptcy but it doesn’t solve the problem. How am I going to feed myself? How am I going to feed my family? What did…

Alexis: …I had that same fear…

Andrew: …you do in that situation?

Alexis: I had that exact same fear, and I completely understand it. The key is that you’ve got to use the available resources that you have to invest in learning how to create yourself an income stream that is not dependent on corporations, the government, or anybody else for that matter.

Andrew: So how do you do that? That’s not an easy thing to do. I’ve seen people struggle with that for a long time. They sign up to all these coaches. They sign up to all the websites. They read the blogs. And they still don’t.

Alexis: So I believe that it begins with knowing what I call your money map number. Knowing exactly how much money do you actually need to live now. Not with saving for retirement, not with paying off your debt, but to actually live now. What is your minimum amount to be happy, preferred if you could afford it. No limits. Maybe you don’t need to know right now. You just need to take…

Andrew: …[??]…

Alexis: one step at a time. When you know that number it’s incredibly freeing. Most people don’t know that number. They have a big sense. They have an idea. So, you get to know that number. Then you can focus your energy and attention on, okay, how many hours am I going to put in doing what to earn that number. And what is the business model that I’m going to use to do it. I find that most people are failing in business because they’re building a business model that is based on the wrong entrepreneurial archetype. And everybody always wants to know what is an entrepreneurial archetype, what is that. We’re not going to be able to go in depth on it now, but there are basically two archetypes that I’ve identified for people who have a service to offer…

Andrew: …OK…

Alexis: not products not manufacturing. A service to offer and want money in exchange for that service. And if you identify your entrepreneurial archetype you can then build a business model in alignment with that archetype and stop struggling to provide value in the world. Because that’s ultimately all it comes down to is a struggle to provide value and to get paid for the value that you provide.

Andrew: So, if I understand my archetype then I’m not going to struggle to add value to the world?

Alexis: If you understand your archetype you’re going to be able to structure your business model in alignment with that archetype so that you’re no longer, for example, hiring a mentor who is a star archetype, for example, when you’re a sage archetype. Trying to build your business the way that their business looks or the way that their business is, but it’s not in alignment with who you really are.

Andrew: I see. OK.

Alexis: And then you struggle, and you beat yourself up. My son just walked in. And you wonder why am I failing. I’m not good enough. And then you get in this mindset of beating yourself up. But instead, when you begin to realize that oh, I’m not there, or that’s not my archetype. Instead you can build a business that’s actually in alignment with who you really are everything changes. I built two businesses not in alignment with who I really was and in both cases I ended up sabotaging them in some way or another because I couldn’t maintain it. I couldn’t maintain this persona that wasn’t really me.

Andrew: OK. Let’s get to who you really are. Ali Shanti.

Alexis: Ali Shanti.

Andrew: What is this? I actually saw it online. I forget where. But you and I had a couple of interviews scheduled and we couldn’t make it work. And I would come across these things and I’d go, maybe she’s just avoiding me because she’s worried I’m going to ask about these personal things.

Alexis: I’ll tell you why…

Andrew: …But you seem good with it…

Alexis: …I was avoiding you. I was avoiding you.

Andrew: Tell me. Oh good. This is so open of you to say it. Tell me why you were avoiding me.

Alexis: I wasn’t ready to speak with you. The business model, not the new law business model side of things not the lawyer business but the other business that we haven’t even talked about yet – eyes wide open, was in flux. And I couldn’t interview with you when that business was still in such question. I didn’t know where it was going. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. And ultimately I was only able to say yes when I had clarity about that.

Andrew: Why does not having clarity on the business mean that you don’t feel comfortable doing the interview?

Alexis: Because ultimately this interview is going to be seen by people for years and years. They’re going to come back this as they join Mixergy. I really respect Mixergy and your audience, the Freedom Fighters. I mean, that’s the people that I serve.

Andrew: Thank you.

Alexis: If I was to speak to you from a place of lack of clarity, my message would be of far less impact.

Andrew: Is it also that you doubt yourself that you wouldn’t feel as solid and grounded if you can’t articulate what you’re doing? That you don’t feel whole if you can’t say, “This is what I’m doing and what it means?”

Alexis: I could have felt whole because I knew my message. I didn’t have the vehicle for sharing that message in enough order. I’m very transparent, so I’m all about sharing my process as I’m in it. I do that on my blog. People have said I do it too much. I knew that this interview, that was going to be out there for a long time was going to reach a lot of people. I wanted to make the most of it, needed to wait until I had the clarity. Again, not so much about the message, because I had the clarity, but that the vehicle that would be supporting that message, which is this Eyes Wide Open Life business was more cohesive. It’s still not completely done by the way. It’s in its rebuilding phase, but at least now I know that it is going to be rebuilt. I’m not even running it anymore. Danielle, who you’ve interacted with I think a few times, I’ve now given her, in many ways, the business. I gave it to her.

Andrew: To run, but you still own it?

Alexis: Well, you know, I don’t own it. It’s owned by a trust.

Andrew: Right.

Alexis: Basically, I have given her total control.

Andrew: Okay. The trust will still own it?

Alexis: The trust will still own it, the assets of it. If you look at a business like Eyes Wide Open Life, or any information training, coaching, message business, what are the assets? The assets are the products. Those need constant updating. That’s not that valuable of an asset. The asset really is the list. It’s the community. If you have a list, if you have a community of people that trust you and know you, you can turn that into money.

Andrew: Actually, first of all, I’m going to come back to Eyes Wide Open in a moment.

Alexis: Okay.

Andrew: I’m going to come back to [???] in a moment. First I have to have my own confession, not confession, but openness about my realization about myself. In the beginning when I was doing Mixergy, I felt this sense of inadequacy because I wasn’t running a software company anymore. I couldn’t really figure out where Mixergy was going because of all these different things. If someone would have said to me, as you did I think twice, “I can’t do the interview,” I would have thought see, they’re saying what you’re thinking in your head, which is that your stuff isn’t good enough, that your business isn’t good enough, that you’re not to be taken seriously.

Then, I would have reacted to it. I would have felt bad toward you for not showing up and not recognize why I was doing it. Once things started to go better, I was able to examine what I was thinking. Then I realized it’s not necessarily a reflection of me. Sometimes, in this case, it’s a positive reflection of me. You care so much about this interview, that you want to wait for the right time.

Alexis: That’s right.

Andrew: It’s such a big turnaround. One of the reasons why I stopped doing live interviews is because that kind of issue really messed with me when I had a live audience waiting for the guest, I would go into heightened self- questioning mode like, “Did she not really care about this? What is she saying about me? What do all these people now think in reaction to that,” and so on.

Alexis: Let me share one other thing about it.

Andrew: Yes.

Alexis: I was still at the point back when we were scheduling those interviews, that I thought that I needed to show up in a certain way for interviews with my hair done and my face made up.

Andrew: I see.

Alexis: A couple of those times, like the first time I didn’t know it was a video interview. I was like, “Oh, no. I don’t have time to get my hair and makeup done.” I’ve since let go of that. Now I show up as I am. This is me. This is how I am when I get out of the shower and I just put on a little teeny bit of makeup.

Andrew: And some feathers.

Alexis: And some feathers. I put the feathers in and my little glitter thing. This is not a two hour job. This is not going to the hair salon, getting the hair blown out, putting the hair piece in. I know that now I don’t need to show up like that. I had to get to that place.

Andrew: How do you get to that place?

Alexis: You show up enough as yourself and see that it’s okay. Then you keep doing it and keep seeing that it’s okay, and keep doing it and seeing that it is okay. And, I have also had to come to terms with that I may not do TV again, like traditional TV. I might not be a fit for it anymore…

Andrew: And are you okay with that?

Alexis: … and if I did I would still, by the way, make my hair straight because it really does look better on TV, but I also had to get to that acceptance of my message may not be a traditional TV message.

Andrew: TV does not want you to go on … TV bookers do not want someone to come one and say “go into debt.” It sounds irresponsible.

Alexis: They do not want you to go on and say “stop saving for retirement and stop paying off your debt.” Because, who makes money by you saving for retirement? The professional finance industry, the professional financial services industry. They are the only ones making money. Not you, them. Who makes money by you paying off your debt? The banks. Who do you think is supporting the media? It is the financial services industry, far and wide. So, I have realized I am very likely going to need to spread this message through alternative means, and I can show up as myself.

Andrew: We prefer you this way in alternative means. I have to ask you about this.

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: Shanti.

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: Who is that?

Alexis: So, who is this Shanti girl? So, really all of this started… and I know the lawyers are going to be all up in arms about this, but not the ones who love me and really appreciate what I do. This whole crisis started with a medicine journey, with a plant called Ayahuasca [SP]. This was back in 2009. I was certain everybody was doing it for recreation until one day I was called to do it and I did. I sat with a Shaman and had this experience, where I saw what life could really be like, harmonious, loving, and community-oriented, and just full of love, and what my life was really like: full of conflict and strife and pushing.

And so, I started to work with this medicine and over this whole period that I have been sharing with you, I worked with this medicine. One New Year’s, I cannot recall which one at this point, I got a clear message through the medicine that I am supposed to take on this name Shanti. That freaked me out. That really freaked me out. I am a left-brained, logical, Georgetown graduate, and I cannot possibly start using the name Shanti. That is too weird. Asking too much. But, some folks had already started calling me Ali and I said okay. I can do Ali Shanti. Okay, nobody is going to call me Shanti, but I could put Shanti on as my last name, and I can start going by Ali.

Andrew: Okay.

Alexis: And the truth is that Ali is really who I am. She is this very feminine, very soft, very right-brained, very creative part of me that I constantly pushed away, constantly suppressed, because she was really weird. And my journey more than anything, Andrew, has been about learning to live with and be both Alexis Neely and Ali Shanti.

Andrew: This would be all sound so much more, I am going to say, normal if you did not give it a second name. If you said “I just want to become a conservative person and a free spirit. And, why the name?

Alexis: Alexis Neely is a very distinct being and she is UH! She gets shit done. And she builds businesses. And she knows how to make money.

Andrew: Okay.

Alexis: And Ali Shanti is different. She is way more juicy and loving. When I hear people speak to me as either Ali or Alexis, they are speaking to different parts of me. And you are right, it would be way more normal, but I cannot do anything just the normal way, apparently. And so, it’s been learning to be both Ali and Alexis. I almost hired this very expensive coach, when the business started making money again and I considered investing in this very high priced coach, in the $100,000 range. I did not hire him, because he told me that I needed to kill Alexis Neely, He said if you really truly want to be successful, Ali, you need to go full force with Ali Shanti and you need to kill Alexis Neely.

Andrew: I see. This is a good direction for you. You can get people are open to someone who’s more free-spirited. I see, right.

Alexis: Totally but he used the words you need to kill the Alexis Neely. Alexis Neely, you need to stop serving the lawyers and you need to kill Alexis Neely and it was so painful to hear that, because I love Alexis Neely. Alexis Neely does incredibly important work in the world and she’s got the credibility. Because Ali Shanti is just another free-spirited hippie chick with big ideas and a lot of heart but without Alexis Neely is anybody really going to listen to her message to stop saving for retirement and stop paying off your debt or she totally disregarded and this message is far too important to allow… it to be brought out without the support and backing, the full support and backing, of this Alexis Neely.

I’m living and learning to live, in the both and not hide either one of them so you know lawyers in my programs know about Ali Shanti and I’m sure they think it’s weird, but they think that in many ways they also trust me more because she’s not some person I only bring out on the weekends or at Burning Man. She’s totally integrated my life, my family, my daughter sitting here right on the other side of the camera, listening to this whole thing and really modeling for the…

Andrew: What did she think about it when you started to bring this out?

Alexis: I think… my kids are 10 and 13 right now, so they think I’m weird, But they like it they really believe that they like it, and most of all, I think they like it because it lets them know they can be fully who they are, completely and totally who they are. They don’t have to be hiding parts of themselves from themselves or from me, and honestly, my daughter prides herself on being weird. And if I could’ve prided of myself in being weird, when I was in high school, things would’ve been totally different. The only issue with my high school life is that I had shame about who I really was. And my mom was weird. Really weird. I thought that at the time, now think she’s great. But I wasn’t okay with that because… there was no model for “okay-ness” with “weirdness”.

Andrew: I know what you mean, it was much more black-and-white and I have to tell you, it is still very black-and-white but when I have dinner or drinks with entrepreneurs. Kind of stuff comes out, not your thing, exactly, of course, but everyone has their own bit of weirdness and there’s a hesitation about talking about it. But if I give them room to be themselves without judgment. They say this stuff and I see it as my challenge and mission here at Mixergy, is to not put on these interviews that you’re supposed to see, but really put on the kind of conversations that I have what I’m talking to a person in private.

Alexis: You’re doing, I have to say, a phenomenal job. You’ve got me to share things today that I haven’t talked about publicly and I’ve talked about just about everything publicly so like you found like that one little nugget of thing I haven’t…

Andrew: Is there a part of you that’s going to feel self-conscious about some of what you said earlier today?

Alexis: I don’t think so. I think I really I’ll have a little bit of a concern like, ohhh, are some of the lawyers are going to see this… That kind of got ameliorated. One day when I was posting on someone’s blog. This guy’s blog was SingleDadLaughing [SP] and it’s about him being bisexual and being a dad and he posted something and I posted on it about coming out to my kids. And I thought it was just being posted on his blog and it posted on my Facebook.

Andrew: Oh… Right.

Alexis: And I saw it on my Facebook and I was like, ohhh, I should remove this and I thought, you know, I’m not going to remove this. This is who I am. I and so I posted a comment on it and said, wow, I didn’t know this posted on my Facebook. I was going to remove it but I decided not to . And one of the lawyers who follows me on that Facebook account is my private Facebook account. And she posted a comment and said you think this is the most “out there” thing that you’ve ever said. This is nothing.

Andrew: And you came out as what?

Alexis: Bisexual.

Andrew: I see and you kept saying partner is as a woman that you’re with?

Alexis: Male partner, a male partner.

Andrew: A male partner, okay.

Alexis: And you know there was a girl. My daughter’s school who actually had a transgender sex change at the age of seven. And she gave a whole presentation to her class about it. And so we got to have a great conversation about it with my daughter and she said mom, it’s normal, now. Now they teach about homosexuality and bisexuality in health class. So, the things that we think aren’t normal are actually totally normal to the generations to come. And they’re going to think that we were weird to trying to hide stuff. So, we’re just behind the times, and I’m just gettin’ with the times.

Andrew: It is weird. [?]

Alexis: Helping more people get the same by modeling it.

Andrew: I’m looking at my screen I’ve got all my notes and everything you and Jeremy talked about and everything I looked up and everything. I looked up on you online I got through everything… I also keep a checklist as we talk to make sure that I get to everything that I promised you I’d get to. And the one thing that I didn’t get check off was Eyes Wide Open [SP].

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: So tell me what Eyes Wide Open Life is…

Alexis: So, Eyes Wide Open Life is the business vehicle for bringing out this message of living your life and doing business with your eyes wide open. That means having a business model that’s in the line width of the truth of who you really are and how you want to be in the world and building your business with the legal, insurance, financial and tax foundations that will support you. So talk about right brain/left brain one of the things that I teach is legal, insurance, financial and tax from micro-business owners, because part of what almost killed my businesses was not just this weirdo Chante[SP]. But the fact that I didn’t know anything about legal, insurance, financial and tax systems. I was building my business with my eyes tightly shut.

So when things started to fall apart, they really started to fall apart in a big way And the only way I was able to rebuild his usual I was after the bankruptcy was because I got eyes wide open about legal structures. About all the financial systems. About tax strategies. I made about $1 million worth of mistakes, to learn, and then went on to interview lawyers, insurance financial people, tax people, to see what do you we actually really need to know as micro business owners about insurance, financial and tax. So this business, I couldn’t run two businesses. I was, like, this is part of the whole letting go. I’m going to have to let something go and I’m not going to let go of the lawyer business. I love it. There’s no one who can support these lawyers in the way that I can support them. With both the emerging new economy perspective and the lawyer perspective.

Andrew: This is Danielle Saville is going to be running this with Craig.

Alexis: Craig’s out of that business, too…

Andrew: So it’s just going to be Danielle then…

Alexis: Yeah, so that was a whole processes well. Because Danielle and Craig were doing it together. Now Craig, is now completely over, he’s my partner by the way, he’s completely over on the [?] side.

Andrew: He’s the partner who we were talking about, the relationship partner…

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: And you also work together with him… I’ve been emailing him.

Alexis: You have? Oh yes. You have been.

Andrew: That’s what all this stuff is about.

Alexis: Yeah, he’s my life and business partner. And we’re in an open relationship, too, a few want all the scoop.

Andrew: With your daughter here you’re comfortable saying you’re in an open relationship?

Alexis: Yes, I don’t even know whether she knows what that means, but yes, I’m totally…

Andrew: What does that mean?

Alexis: It means that we’re both able to have relationships with other people. That we support each other and having more love in our lives. But we’re committed to each other.

Andrew: You don’t feel guilty if he’s with someone… Sorry, who’s there?

Alexis: My daughter showing me pictures of cats… that she wants to get. Ten more minutes, babe. Do I feel jealous? I figured you said do I feel guilty about when he’s with someone the else? Or do I feel jealous?

Andrew: Both.

Alexis: Yes.

Andrew: Which one?

Alexis: All of it.

Andrew: All of it. So how do you deal with that.

Alexis: I feel guilty, I feel jealous… My path is a path of feeling… more. And we have great containers of support, community, therapists. We are extremely open with each other about what’s going on and we learned a process of communicating called authentic communication where we don’t have to hold anything back. While the same time being loving. It’s not an easy path. It’s a very, very hard path…

Andrew: Do you have an example of a time when you are feeling jealous and instead, of coming out and saying I feel jealous because you weren’t aware of it… you said something else.

Alexis: I’m pretty in touch with my feelings. I can’t say that there was a time when I felt it than didn’t know it, so didn’t say it.

Andrew: OK.

Alexis: But just, you know, an example, like this past weekend, there is a woman that he is involved with and I felt like he was giving her more attention and energy then he was giving me. And, you know, we’re together so much, that he, you know, like, wanted to give her more energy and attention because he only sees her on occasion. And I felt that. I felt really bad and we, you know, have been in dialogue about it since then. And looking at why is that happening. And we’re making a commitment, I think, to making sure that before either one of us is with anybody else that we make sure we’re really in connection. Because the reason that happened is that we’d had a disconnection between the two of us…

Andrew: What does that mean a disconnection?

Alexis: We were, like, in a disconnected space where we weren’t really feeling loving towards each other. We were under-resourced, tired, grumpy, business stuff just, you know, kind of [noise]. And so, instead of reconnecting together his energy went to connect with her and…

Andrew: I see.

Alexis:…we’re making a commitment to connect with each other before any of that happens. But, you know, that’s a challenging commitment to make because the natural desire is to just go wherever it feels best. But we’re in a committed relationship, even though we both are open to engaging with other people.

Andrew: And you were like this before iowaska[SP]?

Alexis: I was always…

Andrew: In an open relationship?

Alexis: Yeah, I was always like this. I just suppressed it. When I was 17, I came out to my mom as a lesbian and she told me it was a phase. [Laughs] And then I was like, I was really mad actually. But then, you know, went to college and started dating men and really put that part, you know, behind me. And in some ways, you know, I think part of the reason that I got divorced and then I was in a long term relationship with Dave D, actually. And, you know, those relationships I think ended partially because I wasn’t able to be fully expressed. Dave is, you know, conservative, republican from Atlanta and he was like, no. [Laughs]

Andrew: He’s not willing to have his wife go out or [inaudible] with girls, on the side.

Alexis: Or anybody. Anybody other than him, he’s like that’s not OK.

Andrew: What about this? We’re just now talking about open relationships, I’m looking at your website and I mean, I’m on eyeswideopenlife.com.

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: I can’t, I guess it…you’re wearing a shirt but it doesn’t clearly look like it. Is there any concern that people are going to look at this and not think of you as a business person? And you’re checking out the site yourself to see what I see.

Alexis: I might not actually be wearing a shirt. There was a series of topless photos that I took, that you don’t see my breast in them. But I’m definitely naked in them. Yes, is this the one that’s in the header?

Andrew: Yes and down a little bit below in that blog post where it’s signed you and Danielle.

Alexis: Yeah, oh yeah, I am. I’m topless in that.

Andrew: You’re topless there?

Alexis: I’m topless.

Andrew: So is there a concern that people are going to look at that and not think of you as a business person but think of you as, like for sex?

Alexis: Yeah.

Andrew: And, oh I guess. You know what look at me, of course there is and this is what you had to battle. This is what you decided you’re not going to live hiding anymore and you’re just going to fully express yourself.

Alexis: Totally.

Andrew: And that means in everything? Even in stuff like this, that I’m look at. This is no longer an issue for you because you’ve decided it. You’re just going to allow yourself to be yourself instead of feeling like you’re constrained by other people’s judgments.

Alexis: And, you know, there’s going to be some people that dismiss me as a result of that and I’ve gotten deeply, deeply, deeply OK with that. I’m OK with that. Here’s what I realized, everything that we most want is on the other side of our fear. And so if somebody’s dismissing me it’s because they’re afraid. Either that or they’re just totally not resonant with me, which is fine. But if they’re dismissing me because they’re afraid then I actually have what they really want. And I’m going to keep being me fully, holding that out as a model for them. Because one day they’re going to come back to it and they’re going to say, wow, thank you.

Thank you for maintaining that for me so that I could come around to what I really want in my true desire, even though I was really afraid of it in the beginning. And I’m totally all about supporting that and helping people to live through their fears and have what they most want. And I have to do it, in order to support people to that.

Andrew: This is one of the best interviews I’ve ever done. I’ve all these extra questions but I realize that they’re going to be way outside my focus of the site.

Alexis: I’m talking you way off track.

Andrew: I love that you are. I love that you got personal. I always like when guests are willing to go personal, and I’m really regretful to you for doing that.

Alexis: Thank you. Well, the one last thing that I want to make sure we cover is this thing with Danielle because in order for me to see the work of Eyes Wide Open continue. The money map and left without me having to be the one to run the business, which means hiring people and managing them. Because that ultimately what it takes to really build a business. You have to hire people and manage them. But, I couldn’t do it. My archetype is star creator.

Andrew: OK.

Alexis: And that means I need to be creating. And in order to do that I had to give Danielle total control of the business. I don’t recommend this for everyone. But I’d love to just let you know that there’s this model that I’ve created where she’s got a non-exclusive license to leverage money map and left. She pays me a consulting and licensing fee, me and another company that actually owns intellectual property. And she could do with what she wants. If she doesn’t capitalize on it, I can always capitalize on it because it’s a non-exclusive license. But, if she does, I totally happy for her to do that. So, In many ways I gave away the company.

When I was trying to negotiate with her, that she’s going to get paid, and then she’s going to buy in. It felt very old economy. We’re on opposite sides. Once I gave her the company and asked her for exactly what I wanted, which was my money map number. I knew that no matter what she’s going to pay me that amount and maybe I’ll get more, maybe I want. It would be great if I did but if I don’t it’s fine. I could let go of this idea of having to control everything. I could let go of this idea of ownership. And instead of just focus on the value that I’m providing and receiving what I need in exchange for that value.

So, I just want to open people’s perspective about how you can let go. Give more than you think you possibly can. In this case, me giving the whole company and as a result receive more on the other side.

Andrew: Alright. The website is eyeswideopenlife.com. Thank you for doing this interview.

Alexis: Yes. Well, you are absolutely welcome. I have to say one more thing. If people want to see how does this actually all work.

Andrew: Yes.

Alexis: One of our programs in Eyes Wide Open Life is we let people come behind the scenes and watch…

Andrew: …as you build the business.

Alexis: …as we build the business.

Andrew: And where do we see that?

Alexis: You can check that out at eyeswideopenlife.com/membership and you’ll see the options for joining membership there and actually we modeled you Andrew.

Andrew: Oh. Look at that. The same design except you improved on my design.

Alexis: Well, we made it pretty with our colors and then added a couple of other things. But, really the foundation was looking at Mixergy and how you were laying out your design. I really loved it. So, we modeled it a little bit. It will shift and change. The bottom line is…

Andrew: I like it. Oh. Look at the…I’m not even going to say it. I’m going to let people check out that last line of that page for themselves. I love it.

Alexis: We love modeling what we see really works and you’re definitely a model for us of how to really show up online and provide tremendous amount of value.

Andrew: Thank you so much. You guys if you’ve ever seen any of the pages on my site, you should check out eyeswideopenlife.com/membership. Alexis, thank you so much for doing this interview. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye guys.

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  • benny
  • unhillbilly

    Ya, sad. http://www.avgthreatlabs.com/sitereports/domain/eyeswideopenlife.com

    That said, a fascinating interview.

  • http://www.alaininternetmarketing.com/ Alain Guillot

    Each interview gets better than the previous one.

    One of these days I will speak as freely about myself as this woman does. Way to go girl, I tip my hat to you.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thank you guys. I emailed her about it a moment ago.

    Mixergy once had a terrible virus. Before that, I didn’t even think web sites could get viruses. Now that I know how painful it can be, I really want to help Alexis.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thank you. I feel the same way. I keep pushing myself to express more of who I really am because it’s liberating.

  • Danielle Seville

    Thank you, we will fix that right away!
    Danielle Seville | CEO Eyes Wide Open Life

  • http://www.allisonkoberstein.com/ Allison Koberstein

    Thank you so much for this interview, Andrew and Alexis. The message of being yourself while running your business is very inspiring to me. Watching this gives me courage!

  • http://lightroomlove.com/ Andrew @ Lightroom Love

    Andrew, wow. These interviews just keep topping themselves. Alexis is so refreshingly honest. Thanks for all that you do.

  • yagudaev

    Thanks for another great interview Andrew :). Shanti, I love how open you are about things. It is a great inspiration. Hope to run into you at burning man, it will be my first one this year ;).

  • felicia

    Andrew, you are so good at these interviews. You really, really listen and ask the questions people want to know about. I have being listening to you for a while now and you just keep getting better. Alexis, thank you so much for a great interview and for living your truth, not caring what anyone else thinks about it. Truly an inspiration to me.

  • Sheri Keys

    Love the honestly Ali. hugs and kisses!

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    You are most welcome. Andrew really is the best interviewer I’ve ever had interview me. :)

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Awesome! Where will you be camping at Burning Man?

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Fantastic, then it was worth it Allison.

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Thank you.

  • yagudaev

    With the Vancouver Camp most likely :). I should reach out to them to find out all the details. Where will you be camping? Any tips for first timers?

  • http://www.staff.com/ Rob Rawson

    Was a great interview and very honest which I did love.

    I don’t agree with the easy attitude to going bankrupt.

    Debts are agreements you make with someone to repay money. Going bankrupt should be ONLY the last resort when it is absolutely not possible to pay off your debts. I’m sure that Alexis would not be as casual about bankruptcy if she was the one lending (not borrowing) the money.

    So one of the major lessons of this interview is not to go crazy with your expenses when earning a lot of money. I get the impression that Alexis would not have needed to go bankrupt if she had been a lot more conservative about expenses in the first place.

    Also not something that has been discussed in interviews on mixergy but the concept of going into debt for personal items (including an expensive car or house) I believe is complete lunacy and is the root cause of most people’s financial troubles. Borrowing from the future to pay for something today. If you can’t afford to pay cash for a Mercedes, then you should never buy one.

  • Robert Bradford

    Andrew (and Alexis), it was such a pleasure listening to this. I know it has been said before: but Andrew, you have come SO FAR with your interviewing skills since I started listening a few years ago.

    I hear other podcasts and find myself wishing that Andrew was doing this interview instead of ______.

    Your biggest asset as an interviewer is that you TRULY CARE about getting to know the interviewee and understanding their story. Most interviewers would rather talk about themselves at every chance.

    Their lack of depth and constant interruptions breaks the flow of the story. They’d rather beat their own chest instead of diving deep into the narrative. And that’s frustrating when you’re used to hearing top-quality interviews.

    Most podcasts are a mile wide and an inch deep. Your interviews are somehow both an mile wide and a mile deep. Keep it up Andrew. Thank you!

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Thanks for your comments Rob. I thought long and hard about the bankruptcy, whether it was the right thing to do and if there was any other alternative. Ultimately, I concluded it was the right thing to do given all of the options and I’ll be writing about that decision and how others can make this same decision in my next book. It was not an easy decision, that’s for sure. And, I can say with certainty, it was the best choice I’ve ever made.

    In short, I concluded that filing bankruptcy and NOT paying back my debt was a greater service to society than the decision to stay in a business model doing work that was not for the highest good would be. I did make sure that all individuals were paid back.

    While it may be true that I would not have needed to go bankrupt if I had been a lot more conservative with my expenses, I also would not have been able to do as much good in the world as I’ve done and will do. When I net it all out, I’m not sorry about the investments I made. They were smart, benefited the world and the work I bring to it now and in the future and the lessons I learned alone were worth it.

    Many people have filed bankruptcy on their way to success (Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard, Donald Trump just to name a few) and my concern is that the kind of advice you have shared here, while standard, will keep people stuck in an old paradigm that keeps them slave wages. It’s time to go beyond that.

    Thanks for beginning this dialogue.

  • http://www.salesprocessengineering.net Justin Roff-Marsh

    Rob

    The entire reason why bankruptcy provisions exist is to prevent debtors being forced to live a life of servitude (literal or figurative) in the event that they cannot honor their commitments.

    Bankruptcy provisions enable individuals to take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t and, consequently, *enable* entrepreneurship.

    As far as debtors (or investors) go, if you expect to profit from our capitalist system you have to embrace the package deal. Without the downside, you don’t get the upside.

    I was in a position once where I was faced with the choice of struggling for years to service debts I had accumulated or hit the ‘reset’ button and pivot. I chose the latter. Interestingly, our creditors benefited more from this option. The next iteration of the business was much more successful and I was careful to continue to trade with those organizations who had had to write-off our debts. They all made more in the long run.

    More interestingly, no one who had to wear write-offs refused to continue trading with us. Some actively pursued our business when they learned what had happened.

    When I’ve been on the other side of the table, I’ve done the same thing.

    I think Alexis’s message is a valuable one — and that too many entrepreneurs have a distorted view of bankruptcy and the necessary role it plays in entrepreneurship (and capitalism, in general).

    Justin

  • http://www.staff.com/ Rob Rawson

    Hi Justin!

    I agree that it’s good to have it as an option. In some countries it is very difficult to choose bankruptcy, the US makes it relatively easy and this is credited as part of the reason for more entrepreneurial endeavors.

    I do not agree with treating it lightly and think it should really be the last resort.

    Also I’m saying that the real problem is the kind of attitude that gets someone into debt in the first place especially consumer debt.

  • http://www.staff.com/ Rob Rawson

    “NOT paying back my debt was a greater service to society than the decision to stay in a business ” – makes a lot of sense. No point in staying in the wrong business. Ultimately that type of business is likely to fail anyway and then you would be forced into bankruptcy rather than choosing it.

    “While it may be true that I would not have needed to go bankrupt if I had been a lot more conservative with my expenses, I also would not have been able to do as much good in the world as I’ve done and will do.” – I don’t understand this. How is borrowing a lot of money especially for consumer items or your house, doing any good in the world? Isn’t it just the same as the majority of the US, overextending yourself financially.

    “Many people have filed bankruptcy on their way to success (Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard, Donald Trump just to name a few)” – I’m not sure about Jack Canfield and Brendon Burchard, but you can argue that Donald Trump used Bankruptcy as a business strategy only. Essentially choosing bankruptcy but still maintaining your wealth through other structures is in my opinion abuse of the bankruptcy laws. I’m not saying that’s your situation Alexis because it’s not the case from what you said that you came out of bankruptcy with millions of dollars of assets in trusts with you as a beneficiary, but if someone is able to do that, it would be abuse of the bankruptcy laws.

    I personally know of someone who avoided paying his wife and child anything when they divorced because his assets were in trusts (but in reality controlled by him) and he then filed for Bankruptcy. This is abuse of Bankruptcy laws.

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    “I don’t understand this. How is borrowing a lot of money especially for
    consumer items or your house, doing any good in the world? Isn’t it
    just the same as the majority of the US, overextending yourself
    financially”

    This is actually addressed in the interview in the first couple of minutes. Andrew wonders why, if she was bringing in $2million she only had $20k in the bank and she goes through the things that were sucking up the money.

    One of the things she mentions is the “lifestyle” – since she was promoting herself very publicly as a successful person and giving advice on national television the “consumer debt” she accrued was actually an investment in her personal brand.

    I’ve never been nationally televised so I can’t really judge whether or not this is strictly necessary but I can imagine a situation where someone might take a photograph of a TV personality getting out of some shitbox car and sell it to a tabloid (something along the lines of “big shot business lady drives a corolla” or whatever) so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that this would have at least *seemed* an important investment (highly likely she was being coached and/or trained for that sort of public lifestyle by some kind of agent/representative as well and that part of that training/conditioning was image management).

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    I can’t remember the last time I dropped an F-bomb in the comments on mixergy but I can’t think of another way to express how amazing this was:

    HOLY FUCK.

    That was incredible. I listened to this interview twice today – I love the personal journey ones!

    It also spoke to me particularly because I’m currently dealing with a mortgage-sized tax debt that accrued as a result of bad management and decision making over several years during my 20’s and up until the end of 2011 having that debt (and credit card debt as well) really dominated my decision making.

    I have NEVER spoken about this publicly, but I feel compelled to do so after hearing Ali Shanti speak so openly about her life and her journey.

    I can really relate to the concept of doing business with your “eyes tightly shut” because when you haven’t addressed things like that, when you let them sit there as unknown fears, they control you.

    I got some very good advice from an accountant with many years’ experience dealing with far more successful people than me and the way he laid out bankruptcy removed all of the emotional and moral stigma and really opened my eyes to the reality of debt and finance, just as Ali Shanti is describing here.

    After I had that meeting, the guy referred me to an insolvency advisor who gave me all the facts about bankruptcy and what it would realistically mean for my life, and for my business.

    This put me in what Ali is referring to (I think) as an “eyes wide open” state and all of a sudden (literally within days of having this meeting) I started making better decisions in my business and personal finances. I started making more money within weeks because I was so much more in touch with the reality of my business.

    Not only did I start consistently earning more, but I started spending more conservatively, because I stopped paying off my debts. All of a sudden I had a positive bank balance and I became *very* protective of it, where as before I would put all my money into my debts and spend on my credit card.

    $200 seems like a lot less money when it’s going on top of a $20,000 credit card debt, than when it’s coming out of a $5,000 bank balance!! (I actually found out this is a documented psychological phenomenon when I later read the book “Priceless” by William Poundstone – I highly recommend it).

    I haven’t actually pulled the trigger yet and I may actually be in a position shortly to make a deal and pay back the bulk of what I owe … but I have no doubt that if I hadn’t addressed the “big unknown” and made some serious changes I would never have been able to turn my business around over the past 2 years and *get* to that position because of the stress and misery caused by living in the shadow of a seemingly intractable debt.

    Thank you thank you thank you Ali for doing this interview and for putting your message out into the world. It’s a really important one for all entrepreneurs to hear, and now a vital part of the Mixergy heritage.

  • Success81

    What it sounded like to me from this interview was that Alexis achieved a great amount of success and acquired high priced superficial debt(Huge house, nice car, etc) She realized how much it was taking to maintain her lifestyle and then decided that she did not want to keep up the lifestyle. So she strategically went broke. In the interview she said she had to for the first time “Put groceries back”. If her business was bringing in so much money why would she have to do that? When she decided to go “Strategically Broke” she either spent all her money or shifted it to her protected trusts to say she had no money because she would have had to give that money to creditors. I think the interview was good, but I don’t think this was because of a spiritual awakening, I think it was because of personal gain. But props to her for putting everything out there. Great interview Andrew.

  • http://www.staff.com/ Rob Rawson

    Warren Buffett is one of my personal idols. The guy has over $40 billion I think it is and still lives in the same ordinary house. Hasn’t hurt his image with the media.

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    “She realized how much it was taking to maintain her lifestyle and then decided that she did not want to keep up the lifestyle. So she strategically went broke.”

    I think that’s the point: a lot of people in developed nations find themselves in a similar situation but remain trapped in that lifestyle even though they may not want or need it anymore because they’re afraid of the consequences of declaring bankruptcy. This is the core part of her message as far as I can tell. Bankruptcy can be a useful option and can dramatically improve your life when used appropriately, and isn’t something to be feared or avoided at all costs.

    “If her business was bringing in so much money why would she have to do that?”

    She discusses the fact that she went back to living on $5k a month and budgeting her household instead of living a lavish, high stress lifestyle. As she mentions she had her corporate structure set up so the law business as an asset was protected/compartmentalised from her personal bankruptcy and she could still focus on building that back up after scaling it down, reducing costs and getting the product back to the “bare minimum”, then spent the last year or so rebuilding it. Seems pretty sane to me.

    “When she decided to go “Strategically Broke” she either spent all her money or shifted it to her protected trusts to say she had no money because she would have had to give that money to creditors”

    If you ever talk to an insolvency advisor they will discuss with you how to make provisions such that you and your family will have sufficient income to get by during the process – she openly discussed your asset protection setup at the beginning of the interview which is why her law business was not at risk during the process.

  • Style

    She lied to you earlier about the interview schedule, she made promises to creditors and didn’t keep them, only she knows how she got good grades in Law School (what would we guess based on the rest of the interview?) Impressive that you kept a straight face during this interview. In spite of the claim to the contrary, it seems like she has not reached her moral bottom yet and still has some work to do.

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Unfortunately, for women bringing our messages and work into the world, it’s far different. You can read this blog post to see what I mean: http://www.thestyleconcierge.com/i-cried-glam-tears-watching-my-client-model-her-message/

    I wish it wasn’t the case that women have to “glam it up” to make their mark, but in many cases we still do. Perhaps that’s changing and my hope is that I will have something to do with that change, but back in 2008 and 2009 when I was doing TV, it was necessary.

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Thank you for acknowledging my point about not staying in a business or work that doesn’t serve just to payback debt.

    As for your question:

    “How is borrowing a lot of money especially for consumer items or your house, doing any good in the world? Isn’t it just the same as the majority of the US, overextending yourself financially.”

    The money I borrowed didn’t go primarily to consumer items or a house, it went to:

    – approx $150k to take care of my clients and close down my law practice after the guy I sold it to gave it back to me. I ran the firm for 6 months without any income to do right by my staff and existing clients rather than taking on new work that I knew I wouldn’t be there to fulfill.

    — $100,000 coaching/mastermind program — expensive, but worth it and what I learned I now teach to others.

    — $100,000 tax bill in 2007 after I didn’t save or plan properly for taxes on income I earned in 2006. Expensive, but important lesson that I now teach others to avoid.

    — $150,000 in an effort to create a community in Colorado that would benefit a lot of people, but failed when the person running it dissolved into repetitive bouts of drunkenness. Learned a HUGE amount about agreements, community, and conflict resolution that I also share widely.

    Those were the big items. The cost of the “image” was relatively small and paid for out of the business model I had built that was ultimately not sustainable by me.

    The use of Trusts allowed my businesses to continue to do the work they do in the world even while I fell apart personally. I did not maintain any wealth through the Trust structures, but I was able to rebuild those businesses more easily after the deconstruction thanks to having set up their ownership so as to be protected from the risks I was taking. Those businesses do great, important work in the world and support and serve quite a lot of people.

    I definitely did not use the BK laws to avoid paying back any individual, especially to not care for my ex-husband (who I still support to this day) or my children. I would not and do not advocate the use of Trusts for that purpose.

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Thank you.

  • http://www.staff.com/ Rob Rawson

    Thanks Alexis, that’s a really honest answer. I have personally made a huge number of mistakes in business, and if I had borrowed too much money I probably would have needed to file for bankruptcy at some point also. So I totally understand, and your situation makes a lot more sense with this detailed explanation. I hope others can learn from your experience also!

  • Caroline Kirk

    what you say, says more about you, than about Alexis..

  • Caroline Kirk

    That was amazing Alexis/ Ali.. never witnessed before.. everyone keeps the ”mask” on, we’re so conditioned to do that ..strange how we are all going around not being ourselves, scared to admit so much.. when basically we all feel the same stuff.. you are amazing, an inspiration to all, in life & business.

    I’m about to begin a blog and have been procrastinating about being me.. afraid to be raw, exposed, open.. but you’ve given me strength..

    Keep on rocking girl!

  • Caroline Kirk

    Meant to mention you Andrew, I’ve just discovered you today through this interview. Excellent work.. will be hanging around here quite a bit. Thanks for providing such a valuable service.

  • http://www.salesprocessengineering.net Justin Roff-Marsh

    I’d be surprised if anyone was prepared to appear on TV *not* looking their best.

    However, it seems to me that women’s fashion is much more of an ‘arms race’ than mens’ — leading to almost laughable extremes (see your link). I think this phenomena is little more than a curiosity (probably rooted in evolutionary biology).

    For women *and* men, I think there’s an inverse relationship between the quality of the message and the shininess of the packaging. If you were on air to gossip, there’s little wonder they wanted you to look like you were off to the Oscars.

    This isn’t a requirement, however, for Warren Buffet and nor was it for Anita Roddick, when she was alive, because those people actually had something of substance to say.

    I doubt it’s any harder for women than it is for men to bring a message to the world. The *real* challenge is finding a message of value.

    70 years ago, Marie Curie had no problem finding recognition (and fame) as a result of her pioneering work into radioactivity. She’s still a household name today.

  • Anne-Sophie Dumetz

    Ali & Alexis: Your raw honesty, truth and warmth is so inspiring. I am now in this very transformation of bringing all of myself into the light, with kids, building a business, and know the only way to be truly seen in my life, is to let myself be seen. Starting by me. It’s so important to model this for our children, and to actually show up to our own life. In any case, i completely LOVED this interview. And Andrew – you are a gifted interviewer. Feeling lifted and inspired. thank you both!

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    Speaking of laughable extremes, I saw this video the other day cataloguing all the various ad hominem attacks on Julia Gillard’s appearance the other day which seems relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsECK-gRCGc

  • felicia

    You are so right Robert, about the interviewers that love to talk about themselves, and the most annoying aspect is that we have heard those stories a million times, every time they interview someone. I love Andrew’s interview style.

  • socialshout

    Thanks Andrew. Thanks Alexis.

    Gotta agree with the consensus here that this was a great interview. A tribute to both Andrew’s skills and Alexis’s openness.

    BUT…no matter how many different ways I look at it, I just can’t accept the concept of coming through bankruptcy ‘unscathed’ – for want of a better word.

    Of course, nobody really benefits if you’re forced to suffer following bankruptcy. Nothing constructive comes of it. But shouldn’t there be a price to pay for pissing away other people’s money?

    I think’s it’s great that Alexis made a point of paying off her individual creditors, but I don’t accept that’s the end of her obligations.

    To me, all those institutions have effectively paid for you to learn all these great life lessons. Great for you. Bad for them.

    Justifying it by saying you can now put more value back into the world is a bit thin to me.

    Now, I don’t have all the answers for how bankruptcy should work or what the ramifications should be for the bankrupt but I just can’t accept the way Alexis did it.

    Call me old fashioned.

    Thanks again Andrew for a great interview.

    Cheers!

    Trent!

  • Robert Bradford

    YES Felicia! YES.

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Camp Mystic along with some amazing online entrepreneurs. Come visit!

  • http://BrownstoneFitness.com/about-2 Hans Hageman

    Thank you Andrew and Alexis. This interview came at just the right time. I’m a lawyer turned nonprofit exec turned fitness studio owner. At 55, with several children, I needed to be reminded of the important things since I’ve “burned the ships.” It’s also good to know that I’m not the only one proud of the fact that my kids think I’m weird. Now to figure out my archetype!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Congrats on the fitness studio.

  • http://BrownstoneFitness.com/about-2 Hans Hageman

    Very kind of you. Thanks. Just another step in my evolution :-)

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    Hey Trent, I think you need to make the distinction between institutional lending and personal lending. Where an institution makes a loan with an interest rate attached, they’re doing so within the context of these laws (of which they’re intimately aware) and they build risk assessments into their financial models. In fact, lending money with an interest rate and *no* recourse to bankruptcy is basically what loan sharks do (although they also have quite a high interest rate :) In the case of a secured loan (such as a house or a car) you don’t get to keep the house or the car if you declare bankruptcy and don’t pay back the loan.

  • socialshout

    Thx Iain! Fair point re: institutional lenders & I guess they need to take responsibility to limit their exposure by interest payments &/or security. I wasn’t just meaning pure ‘lenders’, but also customers, suppliers, etc who’ve made an ‘investment’ to some degree or another in the biz. Again, you could argue ‘buyer beware’. Still, if everyone took any ‘easy way out’ approach to all their biz dealings then it’d be pretty messy, no?

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    My clients, suppliers, etc. made off far better because of the bankruptcy, which actually kept me in business. The personal bankruptcy was, in many ways, like when you cut back a tree in your yard and think “oh no, I killed it!” because it looks as if you’ve cut it back so far. But, in actuality, you’ve given it the space and energy to grow far bigger than it could have otherwise. That’s a lot like what happened here.

    Yes, the institutions that loaned me money took a hit, but that’s built into their business model. There’s actually a great book out there called “Debt” that makes the point quite well — we actually need folks to default on their debt to keep the economy going. If everyone paid back their debt the whole thing would crumble.

    My point is let’s just take it out of the realm of morality and let the decision to go bankrupt, take on debt, pay off debt, etc. be a factor of business, not morality.

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  • dean_l

    Great interview Andrew (as always) – great chat about business, but also about life and expectation in general. Alexis, you are wonderful, inspiring person. I really admire you for your courage and everything you did in your life and talked about in this interview. Best wishes!

    I love Mixergy interviews as they helped me understand so much about my business. They are great lessons in business, but lot of times I think Andrew’s interviews are even bigger lesson in life. At the end of the day understanding who we are and what we love is what makes us successful. Thanks Andrew!

  • Lyn Bowker

    Ali Shanti / Alexis Neely – the very REASON I am currently in conversation with your Eyes Wide Open CEO Danielle about MY new business is BECAUSE you are both Ali Shanti AND Alexis Neely (but not the lawyer Alexis, the BUSINESS woman – I am also Star/Creator btw).

    You are so authentically in alignment with my values, beliefs and ideals I’m kinda thinking you might be my daughter! (at least on some level).

    We also share a lot of similar “stuff” in our pasts re worthiness, needing to be successful, striving blah bah blah, which I’ve also done my own work on over many years and thankfully no longer carry the burden of.

    I was already very much looking forward to our call on Friday this week (with Danielle), but after listening to your interview here I am now even MORE excited about our call.

    Bless you Angel, Ali Shanti

    Lyn Bowker

    Melbourne Australia

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I keep trying to get founders to talk about their non work lives. But they’re often too uncomfortable with it so the discussion comes out awkward. Alexis feels comfortable with herself, so the conversation worked. I wish others could do it as comfortably too.

  • Johnny Quach

    I’ve been a big fan of Mixergy and all of the interviewees. However, this interview kind of confused me a bit. There’s a bit of a go-lucky attitude everything worked about it. Which is great and I’m happy for you Alexis. One of the things that really jolted me:

    “I went bankrupt but I saved some money with the “company””

    I’m not lawyer such as yourself but isn’t that shady? You declare you have no money to pay debts that you owe to people but yet you actually have cash stored away? You went bankrupt but you were able to buy a farm?

    I am very confused by this and to quite honest not convinced that was the most ethical move. I understand being scrappy but oweing people money and not paying it back is definitely a big no for me.

    Please correct me if I misunderstood.

  • Steven Murray

    Great interview Andrew. I have been a long-time follower but I have never felt compelled to comment before until this interview.

    The “Everyone” Rule…
    While listening to Alexis describe her decision to file bankruptcy I felt one of my personal moral tests being internally asked and challenged. I call this test the “Everyone rule”. I ask myself “What if everyone made this decision”. When I ask this question related to Alexis choosing to protect her assets under a legal veil, taking the easiest path for avoiding personal obligations, and calling it a personal awakening – it is clear that if everyone did this, our system of capitalism would fail. Imagine if we all had the “personal awakening” that Alexis had and it would be easy to see that the world would not be a better place.

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    The “everyone rule” as you’ve stated it here needs to take time into account.

    If everyone decided to declare bankruptcy simultaneously then the economy would collapse. The same holds true for any number of other activities, such as going to the supermarket.

    If everyone decided to go to the supermarket simultaneously, then it would be chaos (and this happens during sale periods and people actually have died as a result, it’s terrible).

    This doesn’t mean that you should stop going to the shops to buy groceries.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    What if everyone was a plumber? The we’d have no doctors or software developers.

  • http://www.salesprocessengineering.net Justin Roff-Marsh

    The issue is the phraseology.

    If you ask: what if everyone chose to declare bankruptcy when the continuance of their business became an act of martyrdom?, then the result is less absurd.

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    Hi Johnny, thanks for asking for clarification.

    I did not have cash stored away and bought my farm a few years before the bankruptcy. My businesses were set up in protective trusts that allowed them to continue to operate and rebuild through and after my personal bankruptcy.

    Alexis

  • http://www.alexismartinneely.com/ Alexis Neely

    One of the most interesting things I learned when I was making my decision about whether or not to file bankruptcy was that if everyone decided TO pay back their debt, our system would fail. The system depends on some percentage of people not paying back their debt. The bankruptcy laws exist to support this and encourage risk taking by entrepreneurs who don’t then have to live with bad decisions, but instead get a fresh start.

    I did not protect any of my personal assets under a legal veil, only business assets were protected for the good of their clients, vendors, and the people who work for those businesses. I’m separate from my businesses and fortunately they were able to keep operating and serving while I let everything go to discover what was really true for me.

    I’m curious if your perspective/application of the everyone rule changes with what I shared.

  • abby725

    as Nathan responded I am in shock that some one can make $7381 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you read this website w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. Glad you found me.

  • grumpy

    wow! kids, say NO to drugs! I suspended my disbelieve for a while which let me watch the video til about 58 min into it. But when Shanti/Ali came up I had to quit watching! Andrew, please stop interviewing crazy people! This is not The Jerry Springer Show! C’mon!

  • Always Grateful Lou

    I really enjoyed this interview. We want to hear the truth and have people open up. When they do, we criticize them. I don’t understand that.

    I did not pay any attention to the bankruptcy part at all until I realized how many concentrated on that. What is the big deal? The bankruptcy laws exist for a reason. In my opinion it gives the person a chance to start fresh. I absolutely believe in second chances – we are humans, we make mistakes. I see every day people with tremendous debt barely surviving, trying to pay it off. They have become walking zombies – work, work, work – talking about lifetime in prison.

    The problem is that the society is setup to get you in debt and keep you there. Banks, credit card companies do not make a profit of you if you pay your debt off. Good customer is the one owing a lot of money, interest and late fees. And no-one sees anything wrong with this?

    She filed a bankruptcy to get a fresh start. Good for her. So did Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Donald Trump, Abraham Lincoln. The list goes on.

    Andrew, great job leading the interview. Alexis thanks for sharing your personal life. I wish the society finally stopped trying to make robots out of people and let everyone be who they want to be. There is room for all on this planet :)

    Very refreshing interview. Keep them coming.

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  • dean_l

    Yes, I love that part. Humanizing entrepreneurship. I don’t really care what will be Tweeter IPO, but I am really interested in all doubts, fears and wins founders had in they early and growing days.

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  • Blake Ashley Freedom

    This interview is AWESOME!!!!!!! Ali you once again have inspired me to keep being myself and following my dream. I myself am dealing with some debt that I had to turn away from when I entered treatment and have really wrestled about filing bankruptcy. Thank you for your input, I am feeling much more clear now. I love how open and honest you are and the incredible beacon of light you are for so many of us spiritual free spirited hippie chick entrepreneurs ;-). Thanks Ali you ROCK!

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Thanks for sharing this Blake :)

  • http://ca-bankruptcylaw.com/ Malcolm Ruthven

    >it [bankruptcy] should really be the last resort.<

    That's certainly a common opinion, and I fully understand it. But I see the other side of that every day in my practice as a bankruptcy lawyer. Treating bankruptcy as a last resort often results in people "going through" assets that the bankruptcy laws would have allowed them to keep after their bankruptcy. That means that their Fresh Start via bankruptcy is far less valuable to them and their future endeavors than it could have been. In my opinion, "waiting too long" is the most common mistake people make before they come to see me.

  • Cate Eranthe

    Bankruptcy exists as a reset button and can be a valuable tool. I agree with Malcolm and see the same situation where people exhaust all resources before considering it. Alexis I applaud your openness and hope it helps others to learn about their options and let go of being a slave to their debt.

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  • Stephanie

    Andrew: I agree with others that you did a very good job interviewing Alexis. However, several of Alexis’ facts don’t add up. According to Alexis’ publicly filed bankruptcy petition, Alexis had $880K in liabilities upon filing, $350K of which was attributable to a mortgage and a car loan, and the rest of which is 9 credit cards (including a Nordstrom’s card with a $13K balance, a Discover card with a $16K balance, a Frontier Airline credit card with a $24K balance, and a Home Depot card with a $1800 balance) and several business loans. Accordingly, Alexis’ comment below that “The money I borrowed didn’t go primarily to consumer items or a house” is a demonstrable lie. The bank that made the business loans to Alexis (Beach Business Bank) was also suing her in collections at the time of filing, and that suit is listed in her bankruptcy petition. Alexis was also being sued by an entity called the Reinhardt Family Trust for breach of contract at the time she filed for bankruptcy, and that suit is listed in the petition as well. That’s a lot of broken contracts to creditors and, presumably, estate planning clients for a lawyer.

    Except that Alexis was not licensed to practice law in California at the time she did this interview, as evidenced here: http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/212365 . In fact, Alexis was not licensed to practice law from July 2011 until just last week, when a certain blog post was published essentially calling her out. Under California law, it is a crime to practice law without a license, so I sure hope that Alexis was not holding herself out as a lawyer during any of that time. Would anyone have gleaned that Alexis was not licensed to practice law based upon listening to this interview? That is shady at best.

    If Alexis really ever made millions in connection with her businesses, according to her bankruptcy petition, she lost everything but about $47K in retirement accounts and $500 in all checking and savings accounts by August 2012, which is spectacular. How did Alexis lose all of that money and rack up $880K in debt? Her partner Craig’s facebook account documents their activities in the months leading up to Alexis’ bankruptcy, including photos of Alexis and Craig taking a weekend trip to Vegas and dining out at a restaurant where the main courses cost over $50. Here she is hopping out of a limo months before filing bankruptcy: https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/t1.0-9/s720x720/398319_3683552094193_105211861_n.jpg . Here they are staying at the Palms in the same time frame: https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/t1.0-9/s720x720/403544_3929594725105_117186381_n.jpg . Here they are dining out at Alize in Vegas months before filing: https://scontent-b-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/155478_3930240581251_1889658687_n.jpg?oh=cdae1fe3676300094786f95ff07875ff&oe=53E7317D . Here is an example of the prices at that restaurant: http://alizelv.com/alize-spring-a-la-carte-menu/ . It goes on and on. Flying around the country and staying at hotels like the Biltmore in AZ.

    I am not saying that people can’t have nice things or file for bankruptcy as a last-ditch solution to their financial woes. I am saying that shopping at Nordstrom’s, spending over $100 on a single dinner for two, taking limos and vacationing at the Palms in Vegas are not the sort of expenses that should be racked up and then discharged in bankruptcy. I am also saying that accumulating debt in connection with those sorts of activities and then defaulting on that debt is not doing any kind of “service to society.”

    Despite Alexis’ frequent statements that she is open and honest, I find her narrative re living the simple life on a farm and not racking up a ton of consumer debt prior to bankruptcy to be incredibly dishonest in light of all of the evidence to the contrary that she and her partner have posted to the internet and that is available on the public record. I also think it was dishonest not to mention her inactive status with the California bar between July 2011 and last week while advertising on numerous websites that she is a lawyer. Perhaps a California lawyer reading here could provide some insight into the potential ethical violations involved there.

    I hope that you do not delete this comment because Alexis’ current and potential clients deserve to know that this “truth telling lawyer” neither told the truth in the comments below nor was eligible to practice law at the time.

  • Stephanie

    And here is the blog post I mentioned. http://rebloggingdonk.com/2014/05/05/here-is-an-alexis-neelyali-shanti-post/ I understand if you elect to delete this comment.

  • Stephanie

    Read the most recent comments on this article. Alexis lied about her debt.

  • Stephanie

    Justin, are you aware that Alexis was not eligible to practice law as of the date of this interview? She only reinstated a week or so ago. See here: http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/212365

    The relevant section of the CA code which appears to prohibit Alexis’ behavior is here:

    6126. (a) Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law who is not an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this state at the time of doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the person shall be confined in a county jail for not less than 90 days, except in an unusual case where the interests of justice would be served by imposition of a lesser sentence or a fine. If the court imposes only a fine or a sentence of less than 90 days for a second or subsequent conviction under this subdivision, the court shall state the reasons for its sentencing choice on the record.

    I bet even non-lawyers can see that advertising herself as the “truth telling lawyer” and giving interviews and writing articles in which she states she is a lawyer without saying “I am not eligible to practice” or something similar looks a lot like advertising and/or holding herself out as a person who is eligible to practice law, when she was not.

  • Mhassan Bkz

    hi alexise I am Hassan I need to your help plz help give to me your phone no and Skype

  • gramavegas2010

    My sentiments exactly Always Grateful. What’s the big deal? She filed BK…..the list of honest, upstanding, well known people that have done the same is a long, long one. Some people just tend to sway towards the “holier than thou” attitude which I, personally, find pathetic. Unless you are actually walking in someone else’s shoes, you have no idea about the intricacies of their decision making process.

  • gramavegas2010

    And thus the need for asset protection!!! Since when has asset protection been deemed “shady”?