How does a dancer with tens of thousands in debt build a profitable lifestyle business?
Marie Forleo is a best selling author, marketing strategist and business coach, who created the brand, “Rich, Happy and Hot,” a program that shows you how to use your unique talent to change the world, while creating a lifestyle you love.
Marie Forleo, Marie Forleo
Marie Forleo is a marketing and lifestyle expert and professional trainer and coach.
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Here’s the program.
Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart and over 700 entrepreneurs have come here to tell you their stories so that you can learn from them and build your own successful business and hopefully come here and do an interview as they have.
And in this interview, I’m going to be answering the question How does a dancer with tens of thousands of dollars in debt end up building a profitable lifestyle business?
Marie Forleo is the best selling author and marketing strategist and business coach who created the brand Rich, Happy and Hot, which is a program that shows you how to use your unique talent to change the world while creating a lifestyle you love.
Marie: Thank you so much. Glad to be here.
Andrew: Rich, Happy and Hot. I had that wrong there in the intro. Glad I got it right. Let’s get to the most important question I’ll be asking you today which is…
Marie: Bring it.
Andrew: How much revenue are you generating with this business?
Marie: Andrew, we are in the multi-millions right now, which is really exciting. To start, was it one or two years ago, we broke the $9 million mark and now we are, it’s growing and this year, on track, I don’t want to jinx it myself because we got some big things coming up but that’s what we’re doing and I’m proud to say that we are extremely profitable.
Often times I’m sure you interview entrepreneurs and like ‘Oh, these big numbers’ but it all depends on how much are you keeping, right? What’s the profitability on that? I’m really happy we’ve been able to stay very lean and very profitable.
Andrew: So you know we do a lot of research on guests here. We also have a producer who did a pre-interview with you.
He managed to get a number out of you. Tell me if, can I tell you the number that he said? Can we make that publicly?
Andrew: $1.36 million in revenue for 2011. Does that sound right?
Marie: That was actually, it’s under. That was for one program.
Andrew: Oh, that’s one program.
Andrew: What program is that?
Marie: That’s called Rich, Happy and Hot B School. It’s an online business school for women who want to learn how to sell more and market better online.
Andrew: OK. I actually had a friend here in Washington, D.C. who, over drinks, she was telling me that she’s part of your program and she was telling me how much she’s got out of it.
But let’s talk about one of your other graduates. Laura Rhoder, an entrepreneur who did an interview here about a year ago, she went through one of your programs.
What happened to her? I want to give people a taste of what your programs can do for people.
Marie: Absolutely. Laura actually was through a higher level program that we have called Adventure Mastermind. It’s more of a mentorship, a 9 month program where I work with women over the course of the year and Laura is amazing. I adore Laura so much. She’s so smart, so ambitious, so creative and when we started working together, she just happened to getting up her business.
She was leaving website design and she was just coming into establishing herself as a Social Media Expert and Coach and it was really exciting. She started about $50 or $60,000 a year and within one year we had her break the 6-figure mark, which was incredible for her, big goal. And then by year two she was in the multiple six-figures and that, her business has just sky-rocketed.
Andrew: She’s the woman I get a lot of emails about from people who say ‘Hey, Andrew, who’s the woman who you interviewed who makes money by selling How to Twitter programs and who’s the woman you interviewed who makes money by talking about Facebook? There’s something about the simplicity of what she’s teaching that they feel they can teach it too. And the size that she grew her business because of it that impresses people, and you helped her get to that. And that’s why I want to interview you.
Marie: Yeah, it was really amazing, you know. Obviously, Laura’s very bright so I don’t take any credit. I was just, I’m one of those people who can see a vision for others and help point them in the right directions and help them really hone in and focus what they’re doing. And also communicate that in a way that’s true to who they are as a person. And one of Laura’s big hurdles that she had to overcome when she was starting. You know she was very, very young. She was 24 when she first was starting to build this aspect of her business. And she had an idea that she needed to come across bigger than she was. And she wanted to name it like a studio. And I’m like, girl, you are what people are going to buy. Because so many people are confused by social media. They’re so confused about how to put this all together. And she had such an approachable personality, and I said you’re very trustworthy and you need to really highlight that in your brand. And she was a little nervous about it and then when she jumped on board things took off.
Andrew: All right. So my focus for this interview will be on how you went from where you were to how you got to where you are today. Why don’t we go back in time and see where you were just before you launched the business. You were working at the New York Stock Exchange. How was that?
Marie: Yeah, that was my first gig out of college and it was awesome. I’m a person that has a lot of energy and I always knew that I wanted to make a lot of money, and being a finance major in school that was like the only logical position for me to go for. And it was awesome. I mean I feel so grateful for that opportunity. But within like the first six months or so I had that sinking feeling. I don’t know if you can identify with this. But you’re in a place where you’re like, this is not where I’m supposed to be. Like, I’m supposed to be doing more things with my life. I was 21 at the time and I didn’t know what those other things were supposed to be. I just knew where I was at, the New York Stock Exchange, wasn’t it.
Andrew: You said that you knew you wanted to make a lot of money with your life.
Andrew: Why, what was your motivation?
Marie: Freedom. To be really honest with you.
Andrew: Freedom from what?
Marie: Freedom from worrying about how much something costs. Freedom to travel wherever I wanted to travel wherever I wanted to travel. Freedom to help people like my family. Like if anyone every needed anything or medical or anything like that, just being able to go, you know what, I got this. For me that was real important.
Andrew: You know I remember growing up there was a time where we didn’t have health insurance. And my Dad would make a joke of it. It was like, hey, watch out. Don’t stand on that chair, if you fall we don’t have health insurance and we can’t take care of you. It was a joke that he kept repeating but there was a lot of seriousness to it. And that made me want to just make a lot of money so it was never an issue that no one in my family would ever have to worrying that if they ate the wrong thing or fell the wrong way that they couldn’t afford to get better. That, you know, getting better should just be part of life. Did you have a situation like that? Do you have anything specific that just burned you?
Marie: You know it was like when I was growing up. My parents, they got divorced when I was about 8 or 9. They actually wound up staying together, they’ve been together ever since. But I remember the fights about money in my house. And I remember hearing my Mom going like, we can’t afford, like we can’t do this. And I just would feel this stress around money. And I made a promise to myself, I was like, I’m never going to live that way. I want to earn enough to be able to have my family, so like money is not the thing that we fight about. You know what I mean? That we could do whatever we need to do, and we’ll work out all our other issues because we’ve all got stuff. But I didn’t want money to be the thing on the table.
Andrew: Okay, so you worked at the New York Stock Exchange, which to me a kid growing up in New York is a dream come true. What was it about that job that made you say it’s not right for me.
Marie: I’ll tell you. I took a look at my bosses. You know, the guys who are kind of in the front, and they were actually trading the stocks because I was an assistant. And I realized they were all looking forward to their vacations. Like their two weeks of vacation out the whole year. And I just started to see my future. And I was like, oh my god, I’m going to come to the same place every single day in this kind of dark dungeon and I’m going to wait for my two weeks of vacation every year to go travel. I was like, I’m going to kill myself, I can’t do this. And I had this feeling that I was just supposed to be out in the world and traveling and teaching and doing things. But again, it was a very amorphous kind of sense or idea. I didn’t really have concreteness around it to understand what that meant. I just, my intuition was screaming that said, get out now.
Andrew: By the way because your mic is on your headphones, when you move your hair it gets picked up by the mic. So we should just both be aware of that.
Marie: I’m not going to move my hair anymore, there we go.
Andrew: Oh good. All right, so then you were offered a job at Bolding, you turned it down, why?
Marie: Yeah, so after I left Wall Street I went on a bit of an odyssey to find what I was meant to do in the world. And I thought magazine publishing was going to be it. Blend of business and creativity. I was in ad sales for a little bit, then I was in the fashion department at Mademoiselle for a little bit. And again I kept experiencing that same sense where I did not want to be my boss. I looked at their lifestyle and who they were and I just couldn’t see myself working into that role. And while I was at, I actually stumbled upon an article about life coaching. When I read that article, something inside my heart lit up like nothing I’d ever experienced before. It was my proverbial fork in the road.
I started my coach training at night, and then I got this job offer for Vogue. I was like, oh goodness. Do I work at the top fashion magazine in the world, which is quite an honor, or do I quite, and I was about 23 at the time, and start a life coaching business? Who the heck is going to hire a 23 year old life coach?
But again, my intuition was screaming, you have to do this. So, I quite my job. I said no to the Vogue offer. I started bar-tending at night and started running my business during the day.
Andrew: You know what? That brings up a good question. The impostor syndrome is something…
Andrew: …that Jason Cohen of WP Engine came on here and talked about that he sometimes feels it. He built one of the top software companies before that, and now WP Engine is generating $1 million a year within the first year of business by hosting people’s WordPress sites. The guy should not feel the impostor syndrome. He feels that he has to overcome it.
When you’re 23, and you have every reason to feel like an impostor as a woman who’s going to teach other people how to live their lives and be their coach, how do you get past it so that you can bring out your best and really be effective?
Marie: I’ll tell you. It was a struggle. First of all, I used the internet to mask my age. I went and got some head shots done in New York City that made me look 10, 15 years older than I actually was. They were done in black and white. I kept focus on my training. I kept focus on how can I deliver value. Every time I’d work with a client, or I was writing a newsletter at that time, I would literally have to shift my attention.
It was either going to be on me and how young I was, and how I wasn’t able to do this, or I would shift my attention to how can I be of service to this person right now? How can I add value to their life? How can I help them get where they want to go? It was literally that practice building muscle of keeping the attention off myself that go me through it.
Andrew: I see. That helps me actually here with interviews. Sometimes I talk to people who I’m in such awe of, and if I keep comparing myself to them and think, wow I didn’t do nearly as well as they did. Or, they’re such good talkers, I’m not nearly capable to compete with them or to even hold a conversation with them.
I have to take a step back and put it either on my audience or put it on the guest, but take it completely away from me. That’s what helped you. You talked about what it was about those other jobs that you didn’t like.
Then, you also said that there was something about being a life coach that drew you to it. Can you talk about what it was, because I know that there are a lot of people that still haven’t found that aha moment that made them say, ‘This is where I want to spend the rest of my life.’ Here you are in your early 20’s, it hit you.
Andrew: What was it about it?
Marie: There are a few things. First of all, there was the lifestyle aspect of it. In this article that I read, they did a really good job positioning and selling what the business was like. The fact that you could work from anywhere, which was very attractive to me because I like being location independent.
The fact that it was focused completely on supporting people and being strategic, and it was all based around positivity. When I was an undergrad, I had taken some psych classes because I thought for a little bit that maybe I wanted to be a psychologist or a therapist. My first psych class was all about child psychology and how your parents screw you up, and I was like, ooh this is so negative. It just didn’t feel like a right match for me.
The one thing I really appreciated about coaching was it was about looking at what’s working for the person. How can we add to that? Just the general vibe, that positivity, that building people and things, and organizations up.
I realized, I was like that is very much in line with who I am at the core of my being. Positivity, optimism, and looking for what works and helping people reach and grow. For myself, I was like I could spend my days doing this. I could do this with my eyes closed. This is awesome. That was really what lit me up.
Andrew: I totally get that. I introduced you at the beginning as a dancer who went on to build this big successful company. Where did the dancing come in?
Marie: This is great actually. When I was building my life coaching practice, I hit a wall. I hit a point where I realized, I was like, God. The tools that I received from my coach training were cool, but I didn’t feel particularly satisfied in my own life, and for me integrity is everything. I could not be out there selling myself as a life coach if my life on a day-to-day basis wasn’t freaking awesome.
So, I really took a step back and I said, God what am I struggling with here? Part of it was the fact that I liked a lot of things, and I wasn’t really pursuing all of them. Dance and fitness were big passions of mine, but every business and career book that I read was all about focusing on one thing, so I only focused on my coaching practice. At about 25, I gave myself permission. I said, ‘Screw it’.
Screw conventional wisdom. I am going to go start taking hip-hop classes. I’m going to start writing. I’m going to start doing all these things that everyone tells me that I shouldn’t do, that I should just stay focused. That was when everything started to take off. I got asked to start teaching hip-hop by my teachers. They asked me to audition, and then I wound up teaching my first class. How’s this for synchronicity? A producer from MTV was in one of my first hip-hop classes, pulled me aside after class and said, ‘You are really good. We are looking for a choreographer. Will you come and audition for MTV?’ I thought this is crazy. So that’s how that whole career got started and eventually I went on to create some fitness videos with Prevention and Women’s Health and Crunch. I was recruited by Nike as a Nike athlete and master trainer. I traveled around a while with them.
Andrew: Let me pause for a second, because I want to understand this. You’re a woman who wasn’t a professional dancer before she hit her mid-20’s?
Marie: I never took a dance class in my life.
Andrew: So how do you become a dancer who’s so good that an MTV producer comes and asks you to choreograph? How do you pick it up so quickly?
Marie: I know this is going to sound weird, but I really think it was a function of the fact that I had this talent and gift in me. Once I gave myself permission to just say screw it, I’m just going to go do it, I’m not going to listen to the junk in my head that says I’m too old. I feel like that’s what happens for all of us when you take the brakes off or you take the limits off of what you think you can do. The world really does show up to meet you. Of course it was me having to go, ‘Oh my God. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m going to do this anyway.’ I had to continue stepping over my own fears and my own limitations of failing. That’s all. Obviously I’m in New York, too. If I was living in Kansas, I don’t think this would have happened. So I happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Andrew: Let’s talk a little bit about this junk that’s in your head. I know how having that junk in your head can keep you from doing things. I know also that we often don’t recognize that it’s there. I didn’t walk around very aware that I was filling my head with junk about how I’m not a runner. It wasn’t until years later that I realized: Why didn’t I think of myself as a runner back then? I clearly had a passion for it. I should have just tried it.
Andrew: It feels to me that when we go through low points in our lives, that’s when we’re willing to do anything and that’s when the noise just isn’t nearly as loud as this desire to get out of that low point. Do you feel it?
Marie: Yes. Absolutely. I was so upset with myself because I felt like I had talent as a coach. I knew I had a gift to share with the world, but I also felt like there was this whole other piece of me that wasn’t being fed. That was everything around the dance. I just got to the point where I was so miserable, and I was following all the traditional self-help tools like journaling every morning and meditating and none of it was working. I was like, ‘What am I doing wrong here?’ I was really just ignoring a huge part of myself. I also asked myself a key question which I think everyone in your audience should ask. It’s one of the best questions I’ve ever asked and it serves me to this day. When you’re looking at a bunch of opportunities and you’re wondering should I go with this, you have to ask yourself: In ten years from now, will I regret not having done this? For me, when I was 25 I was like, ‘You know, when I’m 35 if I didn’t just go for it with dance, if I just didn’t go kick ass and at least give it a shot when I’m 35 I’m really going to regret it because this music lives in me, this movement lives in me. If I don’t do something about it now, I’m going to be screwed.’ So that really propelled me to just go ahead and say screw it. I’m going to go see what happens.
Andrew: What about anything external? Because, maybe I’m just projecting my life on to yours, but I find that I was able to reach out and do things that I never thought I could before after major issues like burnout – where I was too burned out and needed to go something else, bad breakups – bad breakups make me feel like I was trapped. You’re pointing. I won’t even go to number three. What was it?
Marie: I had a horrible breakup. I was engaged to be married when I was 23, right around that time when everything was starting. There’s one thing we didn’t talk about. I wrote my eBook which is ‘Make Every Man Want You – How to Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself.’ I did it kind of as a marketing test and as a marketing tool for my coaching practice, but out of writing the first version of the eBook I realized I did not want to marry the guy I was engaged to. We were living in this tiny studio apartment, our funds were co-mingled, I was so embarrassed and I obviously broke off that engagement. He was a great guy, but we just weren’t meant to be together. That breakup was right around when I asked, “what am I doing here?’ I have this passion for dance, all this stuff. That was the big thing that just said, ‘Screw it. You only live once, girl. Go for it right now.’
Andrew: I see. You’ve got this book where you’re teaching relationships and your relationship isn’t feeling so good. Talk about again is there an imposter syndrome going on there or insecurities?
Marie: I took it off the market once I broke off that engagement. It was an eBook, so it was really easy. I could just take it down, take the sales letter down and I put it on a hard drive. While I knew it had some good core information, clearly I had a lot more work to do in that department so I said let me take it offline for a little while. I wound up rewriting that book several years later when I had a lot more wisdom, I did a lot more work and really saw some incredible ideas that I wanted to get out to women in the world. We republished it, and it’s now in eleven languages.
Andrew: All right. So I understand at MTV, going back… Actually, you know what? Let’s take a non sequitur here for a moment.
Andrew: Usually when I get this carried away with the conversation, I’m enjoying myself so much I forgot to tell the audience where they can go if they want to follow up with the guest. So, why don’t I take this odd non sequitur and ask you about what’s happening on May 2nd, and then I promise I’ll get to you, to how you went from being a woman who just broke up with the guy you were going to marry to building this big successful business. And we’ll also talk about one of the big setbacks along the way, where you lost a lot of money . . .
Andrew: . . . because of a . . .
Andrew: Yeah, we’ll save that for later. If anyone’s ever gone through a low point, I want them to be able to reflect back on what you did and how you got past it, so that they can get past it, too. But this non sequitur, May 2nd something’s coming up. What exactly is going on?
Marie: Yeah, we actually are relaunching our flagship program, called Rich, Happy & Hot B-School. It’s online business school for women who want to learn how to sell more and market better, without being slimy, sleazy or scammy. And so we just have a ton of really great free educational content coming out at rhhbschool.com.
Andrew: RHHBSCHOOL.com. For women only, or men, too?
Marie: Yeah. We market to women, but we’ve actually had some early enrollments, and we have a great group of guys. So, the material is not gender specific. So, if you’re a man who likes to hang out with a lot of smart, ambitious ladies, you are so welcome aboard.
Andrew: All right. Okay. So, I understand, kind of understand going from not ever taking hip-hop class to suddenly becoming the woman that MTV comes in and asks.
Marie: I’m going to interrupt you for a second. While I never took the formal class, you better bet your behind that I was dancing my whole life. I was always the girl who was out at the clubs, like the teen clubs, the under-18 clubs. So I was always, even though I wasn’t formally trained, I was always boogieing.
Andrew: I see, okay. And you know what? And I’ve seen people at clubs who are hella good.
Marie: Yes. That was me. I was the untrained girl who was just always tearin’ it up.
Andrew: And it’s amazing to watch them. And then I’m in awe, and I need a few drinks to really go back and dance after that, because I feel like I can’t do anything near it. All right. So, you do that, but it doesn’t stop at MTV asking you to choreograph. How do you go to the next step, the next step, the next step from that? Because a lot of people who would get that job would probably say, ‘Wow, this is great. I get to tell everyone that I did this.’ And nothing ever happens to them.
Andrew: You took it to a whole other level, How?
Marie: I had this little mini crossroads, because in a dancer’s life, people think like, ‘Oh, you’re going to want to go on tour with Janet Jackson or Lady Gaga,’ or you know, whoever. And I remember going to some of the more pro dance studios in New York City, and taking those classes and going on auditions and I felt like crap. And I said, ‘You know who my people are? My people are the gym people.’ My people are the everyday folks that want to learn how to dance. They want to come and take an hour-long of hip-hop, and then just go home. And so I stepped away from my idea of what I thought a professional dancer should be, and I focused all my energy on the gym crowd, because those were my people. They weren’t professionally trained, either. They weren’t 18-year-olds going like, ‘Move out of the way.’ So, one, I was teaching at Crunch, and I became one of their top instructors. And when you’re a top instructors in a top gym in New York City, there’ just a lot of attention, and people always come in. So, that’s where video producers found me, and they wanted me to do fitness videos. That’s where Nike came and found us, we did a joint program with them. So, all those opportunities showed up where I was at.
Andrew: And you made a great point earlier about living in New York City. Things like that happen in New York City.
Andrew: And they wouldn’t happen in other cities. And that’s one of the reasons why sometimes you do have to get up and go to where the action is. Where are you now?
Marie: I am in the West Village. I am still in New York City. You know, funny story, I was just talking to my parents the other day. When I was six years old, we’re from New Jersey, it’s not like we’re from some far-away land. But when I was six years old, we were right around the corner and I told my parents, I was six, I’m going to own my own apartment here, around this exact area. They were like, ‘You are crazy, girl.’ Wouldn’t you know, I am a block-and-a-half away from where I said that.
Andrew: Wow. You know what? I was thinking how when I was a teenager, maybe even younger than that, I had this vision for something that eventually became Mixergy. And man, when you achieve what it is that was in your head as a kid, it feels so good. Feels so good. But you’ve got to know what that thing is, and a lot of people don’t. And I see how you were trying to figure, how you were at the time trying to figure it out. You gave yourself room to try different things, where most people wouldn’t. You gave yourself room to see, ‘Well, do I love that?’ And then allowed yourself to keep going deeper with things that you loved, instead of saying, ‘You know what? Dancing,’ for someone in her mid-twenties especially, ‘is no career. It’s not going to last,’ you know, etc, etc.
Andrew: All right. So then, how do you go, actually one more thing about dance. You were in Dubai teaching women how to dance?
Marie: Yes. So that was through Nike. I’m so grateful for my relationship with them. They have been fantastic to me. We had a program that I was part of, I was part of spreading the message called the Nike Rockstar Workout, and it was with a guy named Jamie King, who is Madonna’s choreographer and director. And I was one of the master trainers, so I was responsible for going out to other countries and teaching this curriculum and training other Nike instructors around the world. And so we had an opportunity come up in Dubai to bring dance to the women of the Middle East, and I remember I just had no idea because I’m from Jersey, I don’t use proper language all the time. I get a little four letter, I’m like, ‘Oh. How am I going to have to conduct myself in this completely other culture.’ So much fun. Wound up going over there and I would go to an all women’s college and the women would come in with their [??] and totally covered up and then once the doors were closed and we were clear that there were no men around, these women would take off their [??] and they were dressed in these sexy outfits and I was like, ‘What just happened here?’ They would get down like nobody’s business. It was awesome.
Andrew: How do you go from teaching women in Dubai to dance to becoming, we have such a hard time coming up with one word to define what you are today, but to where you are today? What was the next step in the story?
Marie: My coaching practice that was always building that whole time. I was always building my email newsletter list so I was constantly putting out coaching content each and every week, and then I think I was about 31 when I realized I had to make a choice. I had so many balls in the air and the Nike contract was coming to a close, it was right around when the economy started taking a tumble and we lost funding for all that. I realized I was teaching about five classes a week here in New York City, choreographing every single week doing fitness classes and I said, ‘If I really want to take my online business to the next level, I need to focus. Now is the time for me to focus.’ I wound down my fitness career and my clients, the people that I was coaching as a life coach, they were asking, ‘How are you doing all this? How do you have this coaching business? How are you running this dance thing? You have a book, you have a relationship, you don’t seem crazy. You seem like a pretty normal girl.’ I had come out of the closet with how much I love business and marketing and I thought to myself, ‘How can I blend in the personal development that’s so core to who I am, but also take this passion and all of this expertise I’ve built up around online business and marketing I’d built up over the years, and put it together?’ The name, “Rich, Happy and Hot,” appeared in my mental theater. Titles are something that I really love, and I love headlines and when that name came into my mind, I was like, ‘That’s brilliant for me,’ because it allows me to talk about wealth building, it allows me to talk about personal development and happiness and the hot was a nod, at the time, it was a nod to the physicalness, all the fitness stuff that people knew me for and they would buy my fitness DVDs and they knew me to train their bodies, but it was also about confidence. It had nothing to do with how you look but it was about, ‘Are you willing to take a stand for yourself in the world and use your voice and be confident in who you are, even if it doesn’t fit into some mold.’ I used that as my excuse to start developing new programming that was geared towards women entrepreneurs who not only want to have a great business, but who want to have a great life.
Andrew: The reason that you had the ability to do this is now you had more experience, so you can stand up and say, ‘I can teach you based on what I’ve helped other people and what I’ve done for myself.’ Also, you had a mailing list. How did you know? I notice that you’ve said that several times both in the pre-interview process and now here in our conversation, the mailing list was the big asset. We’ll talk in a moment about how you had a lot of debt, but the asset was a mailing list. How did you know to get that mailing list?
Marie: I will give credit to the first coach training I ever had. It was all about, ‘You should really be communicating with your audience.’ I heard it and something in my mind knew that it was all about the list and every week I would publish this email newsletter. When I first started out, I got everybody and their grandmother on my list. I was bartending and people at the bar would ask me, ‘What else do you do?’ I’d say, ‘I have a coaching practice and you should be on my newsletter list.’ I got everybody on that newsletter list and that thing just grew over the years. When I did my fitness videos, I was unknown. I was just the talent. So I got hired to lead and create these fitness videos but I wasn’t getting royalties, but you know what I negotiated for? I negotiated to have my website on the back of every single one of those videos because I knew that if someone watches videos and they connected with who I was, that they’d want to see what else I did. I have so many people on my list that have found me through working out with me.
Andrew: They would work out with you, say, ‘This woman’s interesting. Let’s go find out who she is.’ I do that with folks all the time. Or, ‘Let’s see if she has any other courses or anything else.’ They go to MarieForleo.com and that’s when they get to know you. I see, and you collected email addresses there too?
Andrew: I see.
Marie: Always about the list.
Andrew: It took me so long to recognize the value of a mailing list for Mixergy and I wish that I’d listened to early interviewees who told me, ‘Andrew, build a list.’ I kept saying, ‘No. That’s not for me. I’m just trying to do interviews here.’ No one’s going to come watch your interviews if you don’t build the list. Get them to get some repeat business. By the way, on that website, I was almost embarrassed to have you on here because we pay no attention to production values. Your production is so good and so simple too. I saw you with just . . . I was deconstructing it, because yesterday I spent some time thinking about what we could do to put a little effort in the design of the site. Go beyond more and more research. Maybe we can do something with the design. I saw just a plain brick wall background, great freaking lighting, good cuts. You read somebody’s email and you talked about some ninja something or other, a little ninja cartoon came up. It was just enough to keep it interesting.
Andrew: I thought that is really well done. All right. So, I can see they go to marieforleo.com and they learn more about you, and they want to sign up for the mailing list. What about this debt? You talked about the asset, the debt.
Marie: [Which debt?]
Andrew: You weren’t happy then, you were working for Nike…
Marie: Oh, my.
Andrew: …you were flying around the world? No. What was the debt.
Marie: No. I had, it was probably around $10,000, maybe a little bit more. It was from college. It was from me just spending stupid money on things I just didn’t have. I was like, ‘Oh credit cards? Yeah, sure. I’m going to go to Miami. Oh yeah, sure. I’m going to go shopping again.’ While it wasn’t outrageous, it was one of those things that, for any of us who have ever had debt, you feel it looming over you.
It was just devastating to me, because again, as we talked about earlier in my life I was clear that I wanted to not only have a lot of money, but just be financially free. For me, part of the definition of that is not having looming credit card debt. I’m cool with mortgages. Mortgages are awesome as long as you’re on the right side of them. But I didn’t want to have a lot of credit debt, and so I really just busted my hump. I worked a lot of different jobs, Andrew. When I was building my business, whether it was bartending, assisting other people, any time I needed more money and I didn’t feel like I could ethically generate it from my business, because I never wanted to seem desperate for coaching clients, I would just go out and get more side jobs. I will work as much as I need to work to get what I need.
Andrew: At that time, one of the reasons was to pay off debt. I kind of estimated at the beginning of the interview that it must have been tens of thousands, because I figured college debt is a lot of money, at least $10,000. Credit card debt wasn’t more than $10,000?
Marie: Well, no. I was lucky where I did a lot of work study throughout my college career, so I paid for a portion of my college education by working, and my parents paid for a lot of the rest of it. It was just silly consumer spending. It was around $10,000, maybe a little bit more, but that was all me. No one else did that but me.
Andrew: All right. We talked about how you built up the asset of email. We talked about where your mindset was at the time. Let’s talk about what the first version of your first product was. What did that look like? I’m always curious about what drew people onto it.
Marie: OK. This was not under the Rich, Happy, and Hot brand. This was actually a followup to my book. “Make Every Man Want You”, while on the surface seems like a book about dating and relationships, it’s a bit of a Trojan Horse. For me a Trojan Horse is you think you’re getting one thing and then you get something else that’s much better.
The book is actually all about being present, living in the moment. My coaching clients love that topic. They’re like, ‘Can you teach us more about that?’ I would always direct people to Eckhart Tolle, one of my favorite authors. I think he’s amazing. My girls would always say, ‘Can’t you just tell it to me? I fell asleep listening to him. He’s amazing, but I just don’t resonate.’ So I created a…
Andrew: I hate to say it, but I felt that way too. I need somebody…
Andrew: …who’s more my speed to do it. He’s very Zen, but I need hyper.
Marie: Yeah. So that was the thing. I was like, ‘OK. Everyone is giving me this signal.’ I know how to teach this material because it made a huge difference in my own life. So, I created a program called the Live In the Moment Booty Camp, that we’re actually changing right now. We’re rebranding to call it the Instant Game Changer. Booty Camp was a little…
Andrew: It was called, Live In the Moment Booty Camp?
Marie: Yeah, because I was teaching fitness and booty was…
Marie: I’m a woman. It just happened.
Marie: Anyway, Instant Game Changer is what it’s going to be called, but that was my first product. It was my first time I had my first $30,000 month, and I freaked out, Andrew. I was like [gasping]. Back when I first started, that was all I would make in a year being an assistant at a magazine. I did a great course outline, the best that I could do. It was a totally teleseminar based program. You learn a lot of lessons like how to reduce noise in the background and some different things like that. We had a forum that we used through Ning. It was an awesome program. It was amazing. I think it was $97.00.
Andrew: All right. I’ve got to break this down, because if you’re doing $30,000 all of a sudden, people are going to want to know how you made such a big leap.
Marie: The freaking mailing list, Andrew.
Andrew: Then how big was the freaking mailing list?
Marie: The freaking mailing list at that time, even though it wasn’t that big, it was probably, and forgive me, I don’t have an exact…
Andrew: Right. Roughly.
Marie: …photographic memory, but I will say roughly around 3,000 people.
Andrew: Get out!
Andrew: OK. 3,000 people. That’s so small.
Marie: Yeah, but here’s the thing. When you treat your list well and when you really take care of them and you focus on delivering value, and for me it’s all about… The way I communicate with my list is the same way that you and I are talking, which is the same way if you had me out to dinner, which is the same way if you’d seen me on a video. It’s the same.
There aren’t any different styles of speaking. So my list feels very connected to me because they get the real me all the time, and I’m constantly looking for ways to add value to their life. When I come out with something that is a way to go deeper, they know they can trust me and they’re like, ‘I’m in.’
Andrew: What did you charge for it?
Marie: I think it was 97 or 197. I’m taking out my little iPhone because, honestly, we’re going back a couple of years and I’d be more accurate with numbers that are more recent, but it was amazing. It changed my life.
Andrew: What was in this program? You said it was teleseminars?
Marie: I was teaching women, in the book it’s all about how to live in the moment and there are certain principles and ideas and obstacles that you come up against when you’re trying to practice this as a lifestyle. It sounds like you’ve been familiar with some of this material and it’s about just being present in the world, being present with others and unwiring a lot of the mental BS stuff that gets in all of our way. It was me taking people through four weeks of curriculum. There was a lot of Q&A. So people have questions, when you’re learning any new skill set it’s always challenging, so you have things that you’re going through that you want to ask questions for. So it was a community based program, it was a group program. It was awesome.
Andrew: It has its own website, you had you doing teleseminars that were recorded and live, so people could interact with you and if they couldn’t show up at the time of the teleseminar, they could download it and listen afterwards. There was a forum where they could ask you questions, it was dripped out over four weeks, actually was basically live, produced over four weeks. You didn’t bank it and then put it out there?
Andrew: What else was a part of this?
Marie: Community. Community is something very, very big for my brand, for my world. Right now we have an audience in 188 countries, but going back to Live in the Moment Booty camp, especially my women, love to connect with each other because when you’re looking to develop a new skill set and especially if it’s around personal development or business, you might feel weird because your family or friends, they’re not into the same subjects you’re into and when you’re experimenting and you’re trying to grow, you can feel very vulnerable. But when you have a community of people who are struggling with the same things or having the same kind of insights or having new resources to share, it really helps move you along and it keeps the momentum going. For me, I love connecting people, I love helping people form friendships and now that we’re in a new category with business advice, our ladies do business together, it’s amazing. I love it.
Andrew: Laura Roeder, who was on here, said that there’s a danger in putting together a community when you first launch a product and that is that people show up and see that there’s no conversation going on, or maybe there’s a little bit of conversation at first but it starts to die down. How did you overcome that and make it into a useful community?
Marie: We didn’t run into that issue. We had a nice group of people that were in there and they were so passionate about the topic, but I agree. There’s some programs that we do that we do not have community within the program. Right now my method and my technique is having people have their own Facebook group that they run. It’s community run and we endorse it, but they know I’m not in there so really, I like to train people to do things on their own and to not need me anymore. To answer your question, you really have to take a look at your specific market. Do your people talk on your blog? Are they talking regularly? Are they talking on your Facebook page? Are they writing in and asking for community? For me, I always try to pay attention to what my people are asking for and then see how it can fit into my business model. How I can not only serve them but make sure it works for us as well.
Andrew: What about this eBook that you had with a whole lot of exclamation points. At what point did you launch that?
Marie: That was the first eBook, the “Make Every Man Want You” eBook, that was the first eBook that I wrote. Tons of hot pink. So many exclamation points. Andrew, I was a cheerleader in high school and enthusiasm is one of the things that’s in me. My first attempt at writing, I was like, ‘You should do this! You should do this. This is great.’ I look back at that and I’m like, ‘OMG. Cheesiest thing ever.’ Our first attempts at anything are usually our worst and then we get better as we grow.
Andrew: At the time, did you know that it wasn’t the typical thing? How did you allow yourself to publish it considering how professional you wanted to be at the time?
Marie: I had taken this course from a guy named Dean Jackson [SP], who’s an amazing marketing manager [??]. He’s awesome. It was about how to use eBooks to market your coaching practice and he was my teacher and I was still close enough to graduating from college that I was still in that mode of wanting to please the teacher and get an A and he was like, ‘Just put the thing up.’ I was like, ‘All right. I’m just going to put the thing up,’ and it was my first experimentation with buying AdWords, which wasn’t Google ads at the time, it was Overture, if you remember that. Way back. I just put it up and honestly, my first sale was 29.95. I remember being bartending that night, coming home and having made 29.95 without having been at my computer. I was like, ‘This is the Holy Grail. This is awesome.’ It was amazing.
Andrew: Just put it up. It’s such great advice. One of the reason why I ask entrepreneurs who I interview what did the first version look like is to just keep showing the audience that very rarely entrepreneurs will come on here – I can’t think of one; I’m sure there must have been some but it’s so rare that it doesn’t even come to mind – where an entrepreneur says, ‘You know, I had to have it perfect, I launched a perfect thing because my brand is perfection and that’s what I launch with.’ You rolled your eyes, I noticed, as you heard that because it’s so ridiculous. It’s the fear and the insecurity that people have in their heads that keeps them from launching until they get it perfect. It’s not based on any experience, it’s not based on any research of how it worked for other people, just insecurity. Once you give it up and just put it up, then good things start to happen. In your case, you felt that the pride of launching and you started to see some revenue come in. How much revenue overall would you say that eBook did for you before you changed it or took it down?
Marie: Well, I’ll tell you. It was probably only maybe a couple hundred to a thousand dollars before I took that first version down, but I republished it as a self-published paperback before I sold it to McGraw Hill. That little puppy, man, that brought me in. We sold about 8,000 copies on our own – no advertising, no major media. It was a little cash cow, and it was amazing. I was little afraid to give it up to McGraw Hill because I was like ‘I like the money coming in from this one.’ But I knew that in order to really get the message out, I didn’t want to be in the foreign rights business, I didn’t want to go into that. I was like, ‘Let me sell it off.’ But that, God, that was probably close to six figures, my self-published version. And that was amazing.
Andrew: All of something that you just launched. A lot of exclamation points, a lot of different colors, but you just launched it.
Marie: I launched it, and then it had its evolution. I want to make one other note. Because people probably judge you and me, especially if they come see any of my videos like the ones that you mentioned. They’re like, ‘Oh my God. All this editing.’ Take a look back on the blog two years and I’m looking straight into my webcam and there’s no editing and there’s crappy light and that’s how I started with video. I’m sure it’s the same thing with you. Your videos now and your interviews now are probably a little more polished or they probably look a little more elegant, perhaps, than your first version. I think what you just brought up is an amazing point for all of us. We have to get it out. We have to ship. We have to put it up there and we can evolve as we go.
Andrew: Yes, absolutely. By the way, your hair, again, on the mic.
Marie: Sorry. Italian hair. I need to get this hair away from me, Andrew.
Andrew: It looks great on camera, but it is an issue with the mic. I see what you mean about the site. Absolutely. Even as I look up here, some people hear that I have all this research in front of me, and I do. I know exactly where we’re going in this conversation, I know what will work in the interview and what will be useful and what people will be grateful that we talked about. That didn’t just happen. It took a long time. At first it was just me on the phone with someone and just putzing around, looking for the right root. But you have to just launch, and you have to just start. All right. Lowest point. Do you remember when that was?
Marie: One of them.
Andrew: Wow. Your eyes just lit up. Watching video is great because I can the reaction that you have to these questions. Yeah, tell me about it.
Marie: So, one of the lowest points that I had came a few years ago. I think it was two years ago or so, and forget me for time having a little bit of a warp. I don’t know if you noticed this. It seems like as we advance in life, as someone just told me last night, not as we age, as we advance in life, things just seem to start moving faster and faster. So a couple years ago I had just been selling a lot of programs. This is so funny. I was making a lot of money and I didn’t realize how much was not in my bank account. I realized that in our backend system clients weren’t being billed properly, and there was about $220,000 in outstanding accounts receivable that if I didn’t check maybe wouldn’t come there. It never would have never come in. I wanted to throw up. I felt so embarrassed. I felt so ashamed. How could I be someone who teaches about business and who teaches about marketing and how could I have missed this? I don’t know if you’ve ever had an experience like this in your life, but it even makes me feel a little bit emotional even talking about it because I felt so vulnerable at that time. The truth is, we all make mistakes. We all have things where things are growing so fast and you don’t have proper checks and balances in place. When you’re using a lot of technology sometimes technology doesn’t work as it’s suppose to work. You find something that breaks or something’s just not talking to something else. I remember just being like, ‘Holy cow.’ The embarrassment and the shame was a huge piece of it. Then I just said, ‘You know what? OK. We’re going to take care of this. Let’s start breaking this down, pull people in. Let me get some experts in to help me figure out how we can rectify this.’ Honestly, I think we might have just lost $30,000 in revenue. When I say lost, it was people who weren’t going to anyway. If it was something on a payment plan or something on where you just have to write it off as dead or as it’s just not coming in. That was scary. That was really scary.
Andrew: You know what? I had a situation like that, where I went months without invoicing my clients at Mixergy, [the sponsors]. It was so painful because, here I was someone who’s telling people this, everything you said.
I’m supposed to be the entrepreneur who is running Mixergy, and of course I’m telling people that I know what I’m doing. Otherwise, if I’m listening to these interviews and nothing is getting into my head, if the basic of just invoicing properly isn’t coming into my head, then what the hell is the point of this whole thing?
Andrew: When that happened to me, I just procrastinated. I just put the whole thing out of my mind for the day. Then I allowed myself to get sucked into the fires of the moment, like email to getting new guests to etc., etc., so many things that I could come up with.
How do you catch that problem and then force yourself to stop and deal with it, because if you don’t, it’s going to get worse and worse and it’ll take down your whole house?
Marie: I’m a person, as you can maybe see during this interview, I do not have a poker face. There is nothing about me, anyone who works with or anyone in my life, you know what I’m feeling because I wear it all over my face. If I’m upset or if something is gnawing at me, I have to talk about it. That’s my method for processing things.
That’s how I work with my team. If I intuitively feel like something is up with them, I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s stop the action. Let’s have a five minute discussion, let everything cool so we can move on and do our work in the world.’ When I caught this, my fiance I was like, ‘I need to talk about this. The world is coming to…’, going to hell in a hand basket. I need help here.
For me, there was no ability to hide it, and I just had to reach out and communicate because I knew that that was the only way for me to get support and also to take care of the situation in a responsible fashion. I almost don’t have a choice in these issues. Procrastination, if the crap hits the fan, you will see it on my face and we have to deal with it right now.
Andrew: You know what, actually? I was thinking about the person in the audience who’s not me, who’s not you, who’s in this situation right now or will be at some point in the future. I made a promise to them at the beginning of this interview, which is that we’ll show them how, based on your experience, they could get past it.
Andrew: You just gave me a quote that I think is perfect. Your response was, ‘I need to talk about this.’ I think about the people who I have private conversations with from the audience who are struggling. The first thing that they say is, ‘Andrew, I’ve never told anyone about this, and I don’t feel comfortable even telling you, but I’m going to push myself.’
They’re doing the opposite. Frankly, I was doing the opposite. We keep it locked inside. By keeping it locked inside, there’s no external push to get results. So you’re saying, find somebody, at least one person who you can talk to about this.
Andrew: Do talk about this. Sometimes, frankly, even just saying it out loud cures it because you realize, oh, wait. I didn’t bill clients. I’ll just call them up, I apologize, we make it work. You know? They don’t care, and frankly if I don’t, then at least I can find new clients and I could invoice those guys and start collecting revenue going forward. So, talking about it is a huge thing.
By the way, I mentioned your program earlier, and I said that, ‘Is it only for women?’ I knew the answer was no, that men are going through it. One of the things that I’ve heard from people who’ve gone through your program is that, because it’s aimed at women or marketed towards women, there’s a different way that you talk about things.
You will break things down step-by-step in a that I think men don’t feel comfortable asking for, men don’t feel comfortable expecting. If we don’t know how to install WordPress, we’re not going to stop and say, ‘Tell me how to install WordPress.’
Andrew: We’ll say, ‘Everyone knows how to install WordPress, we’ll figure it out later.’, and then nothing happens.
Andrew: Yeah. Tell me about the different attitude that women have versus men, having worked with both. Tell me, what other mistakes are we making? We don’t talk about things, and we don’t ask for clear breakdowns of issues that we don’t understand. What else are we doing that we’re not aware of?
Marie: I’ll tell you, I think you just nailed the two on the head. One of the things that I take a lot of pride in with our programs is, it’s a ‘no dumb question zone’. The only thing that I will give people a little bit of a smack down on, and this is a loving smack down by the way, it’s always done with a lot of respect, don’t ask a question that you can clearly Google. You know what I mean? If there’s something that you can Google, where it’s just like, ‘What’s the link to this?’ It’s like, dude, Google it.
Beyond that, if there’s a marketing campaign that just you don’t really understand the sequence, or what you were talking about with WordPress, dude say it. That is the only way you can get help in the world. Nine times out of 10 I’ve seen, especially, I go to seminars all the time, I take courses all the time, I’m the girl in the back going, I don’t get it. I don’t get this piece because that’s the only way that we learn, right? It’s not by pretending that we have this machismo or this strength or, like, I got it all together and I see people at seminars and they’re like ‘What are you doing here?’. I’m like ‘What do you mean what am I doing here?’. I am a perpetual student. I am constantly looking for new insights or new ways to do things.
So I think, going back to your question, I think having the courage to talk about what’s not working for you, and I’ll share something interesting. I’m in a pretty tight master mind group with some high level people and they all happen to be men. And we get together about once a month and we talk about business and I noticed, they’re like, one of the things they love about our group in particular, like, we always get to talk about things. Stuff that they may not feel comfortable talking about and perhaps none in their environment, because they have to feel like they have it all together.
And so I think one of the other things that may be, one of the things that you didn’t mention, it’s OK to talk about your personal life when you’re trying to get advice about your business. Because, for anyone to compartmentalize and to say, like, whether something’s happening, a member of your family’s ill or maybe if you’re in a marriage or relationship and you’re having a little bit of rocky times, you have to be able to say ‘Hey, you know what? I’m having a little bit of trouble focusing right now. I’m have a little bit of trouble at home. My pet’s sick.
I know this may sound insignificant but just the fact of saying that out loud gives people a sense, you might get resource. You might say ‘Hey, I actually went through that. There’s a great book you should read.’ And then you get back to talking about marketing. Or then you get back to talking about profitability but that’s one thing that women do really well that I think would benefit men greatly to do.
Andrew: What is the thing that impacted your business on a personal level, beyond the breakup with your fiance in your early 20s? Give me another thing like that that it was personal but it clearly had an impact on business.
Marie: Oh, for sure. So the man in my life now, we’ve been together for 9 years. Josh. He and I got together when I was just in that phase of starting to dance, really starting to come into my own, had my own business and again, it was at the teeny, tiny stages. Wasn’t making a ton of revenue but I was just in the building stage and he believed in me so much. And one of my dreams is to own a home here in the West Village.
I remember we bought this house together and I was scared shitless to have a mortgage because I was like ‘How am I going to do this?’ and he just believed. He’s like ‘You want to build this multimillion dollar business? I already see it. You’re just at the beginning stages.’
And he kept holding that vision for me without telling me what to do, letting me make my mistakes, all that stuff but he’s been a crucial factor in my personal growth and also in my business growth.
And so, if that works for you, that’s another big thing. Just having people in your life that really believe in you is huge.
Andrew: It really is. I find it sometimes that I fight more to impress my wife or, even growing up, to impress the girl in my life, than I would for money, than I would to get out of problems that were a big pain. And I’ve also been with, you know, I’ve dated girls who were so negative that it impacted the things that I did. I couldn’t stretch without being told that I wasn’t stretching properly. This support is critical. That’ a great one.
Let’s see. So, you had this big slump. You got out of it, we talked about that. I guess at this point now, you’ve launched multiple products. Let’s find out why.
Why multiple products as opposed to just saying ‘This is the one thing that I stand for. This is what I’m going to create’.
Marie: Yeah. Honestly, it’s thinking about your customer’s journey and looking back at your customer development. So, for me, I’m really keen on understanding who this women are, where they are in their journey and I realize I have a lot of women on my list who are at different stages of their development. And some people really enjoy having a virtual environment to learn in, download videos, watch them on your iPod, watch them on your iPad. That’s all good.
Some women, and including myself, I love being with people in person. So we have an annual event called [Retapping Hot Life], just like a rock concert of possibility and people come together. People flying from like 17 different countries, come to New York City, two and a half days. There’s music, there’s dancing, there’s other speakers. It’s this beautiful experience and for some people that’s their method to really step up and like claim their own power and really get into, like, I can do this and believe in themselves and go do great things.
Remember mastermind? It’s a product of what I wanted to do, like, I love learning and I love being mentored. And I joined other mastermind programs and different types of things and they were all very dry, to be honest with you. And they had a very similar regimented format and I thought to myself ‘Based on my history, based on what I love to do, what do I enjoy? I love being with people and, like, these intense deep dives, and I love traveling and I love having fun. So I built out the Adventure Mastermind program where we get together three times a year, there’s three retreats, they’re three days long. No one gets an agenda. We tell them how to prepare, but they just get a packing list, they need to show up at a certain place, so they have those basics, but that’s it. Then throughout the experience, I take people on adventures, so some examples are a private pole dancing class. We’ve done private boudoir shoots and these are things, not just for fun, but they really encourage my women, they have to step into their own. They have to face some fears, they have to really enjoy what it feels like to be a woman and to own that because one of my challenges, one of our pitfalls as women, we can get into that masculine driving energy, because we’re building a business all day, but that is not useful when it’s time to be with your honey. It just doesn’t feel good. It’s not the space that we should live in 24/7, so I create these containers for women to experience different parts of themselves and then we do, obviously, business masterminding, we get down to business as well.
Andrew: What do you say to someone who’s hearing that and says, ‘Boy, that’s such a distraction. Pole dancing and boudoir photos are just fun, but keep them for the Housewives of New Jersey.’ I know myself, when I’m in financial trouble or if I’m having any kind of struggle, the last thing I want to do is go and explore a new hobby like rowing or go run and do my usual runs. Want to sit and focus and focus and focus. Why not just focus and focus with these women and the men who show up to the other events?
Marie: I will tell you, in my experience, that is the wrong way to go about it.
Marie: You can never think yourself out of a problem that you got in probably doing some thinking. What I’ve seen is, creativity lives in your body, not your mind. That’s one of the things I know from my career in dance and fitness. When people are engaged physically and they are outside of the normal scope of what they’re doing, like on their computer and ‘Oh my god. How would I figure this out?’ That’s where your most brilliant, creative insights come from. In what state are you more effective? When you’re stressed out, when you’re focusing down and you’re really tight or when you’re actually laughing? When you’re having fun? When you’re sweating? When you’ve been taken out of an environment sufficiently enough so you’re seeing things in a new light. When you’re pushed out of your comfort zone. In my experience, it’s the latter. That’s where the big breakthroughs come from and that’s where you get your strength back. That’s where you get your clarity back.
Andrew: I found that too, actually. I remember asking Tim Ferriss when I interviewed him, why entrepreneurs need to spend time improving their health. He said something that really worked in my life, he said, ‘When you’re having trouble with business, you’re in this feeling of failure mode. You’re feeling like a failure.’ I know I am anyway. But if I could go ahead and do a run and really kick butt and go longer than I have before, faster or just feel like I can conquer it, I come back into work the next day feeling like I could conquer business too. I’m no longer feeling like a failure, I’m feeling like a conquering hero. I’m feeling like someone with confidence and that confidence seems so superficial to people on the outside and even to me when I’m thinking, ‘Do I even care about confidence? Don’t I care about competence and getting things done?’ It works, and if it works, I want to do it. Speaking of health, what are you drinking? I keep drinking tea. You’re drinking something green.
Marie: I am drinking a little Organic Avenue Green Juice. I have green juice every single day. This week because we’ve got a lot going on, usually I make my own green juice, but I walked my dog, I went to the store, I got my green juice because I needed to save a little time.
Andrew: . . . New York.
Marie: One quick thing though. The whole, what you were just talking about with your body and the confidence and the competence, we cannot live from the neck up. We are not from the neck up.
Andrew: I would like to, to be honest. I would love to be nothing more than a brain and a jar connected to a computer, but it doesn’t work.
Marie: Andrew, it does not work, honey, as you know, it doesn’t work. If we engage this full thing, this full amazing body that we have, our brains actually are more efficient. We actually did a [??] TV on that. There’s so many studies where your brain becomes more effective and more efficient if you actually give the sucker a break. If you go doing some other things. I’ve really seen the more fun that you have, if you can laugh, if you can move your body and sweat and get into a state of pure feeling and sensation, your brain operates on an optimal level.
Andrew: You had another setback, by the way. Before I go back to the high, I want to end it on a high, but there was a setback with an online shopping cart company. Which one?
Marie: I’m going to plead the fifth on that one just because I pride myself on maintaining a lot of positivity in the world and people, we all have failings. I have failings as well, so I’m not perfect either, but this particular company, very expensive.
Andrew: Premium WebCart?
Marie: Nope. I’m not going to state.
Andrew: . . . [SS] . . .
Andrew: I won’t ask anymore, but I figured your eyes reveal a lot and I’m using Premium WebCart and I wanted to know if I should stop.
Andrew: OK. It’s not them.
Marie: No, no, no.
—- 13 of 14 —-
Andrew: I wanted to know if I should stop.
Marie: No, no, no. They’re no it. They’re not it.
Marie: Robust company, going through a big growth spurt, very expensive. Over time, customer service is so big in my business, and customer service. I never mind paying great money for services, but please take care of me. Treat me like you actually care. You know what I mean? One day we were up for paying affiliates, and we obviously take care of our affiliates. They’re my partners. I have to pay them very, very accurately so we take a lot of care and time with that. My team was going in trying to pull out pull out our reports, and they’re like Marie, God everything is all buggy, we can’t get this. It took people three days to what takes them usually half a day. Wrote into customer service and said, hey you just cost my team a lot of money, a lot of time. What can you do. What’s going on here. The feedback we got back was, it’s a software system. It has bugs. I’m paying $500, $600 a month for this system to manage my entire business. I was like, uh-uh. I was like that is not… I have a big megaphone. We have women in over 188 countries, and over 50,000 people listen to me every single week. You’re going to piss me off? It’s not smart.
Andrew: And they’re all business people who need the kind of software they they’re selling.
Marie: Totally. So yeah. That was a little bit rough. We’ve since moved on and I will say that no shopping cart service is perfect. Everybody has their faults. Again, us as content providers, we have our faults. We’re not perfect either, but I think it’s the manner in which you handle things. How you communicate. How you say, hey, yeah, you know what, we do have a big bug. We’re going to credit you for the whole month. We’re going to work really hard to fix this and figure this out. We’ve got your back. I didn’t hear that, so I was out.
Andrew: And you’re with a new company, so what the new company?
Marie: Office AutoPilot.
Andrew: Office AutoPilot. I’ve heard good things about them.
Marie: They’re, again, nobody’s perfect but they actually listen, and they take care of you like they actually care.
Andrew: And they’ve got a person that you can talk to.
Andrew: I’m going to ask you in a moment about Richard Branson, but first, you’re going to teach a course right after this.
Andrew: The course is on a topic that I don’t see people talk about. What’s the topic? Can you tell the audience?
Marie: Sure, absolutely. It’s about how to lower your refund rate. Specifically, we got a refund rate, we took it from 20% refunds to less than 3%. So this is really about not only how to keep more money in your business, but really how to build your brand and how to have customers that are raving fans that adore what you’ve sold them, and their happy to spread the word.
Andrew: See, all I hear about online from people who sell anything is, I have no refunds. If you sell a good product only one person a year will refund and you give them their money on pillow with a thank you note, for having told you about the problem that was probably yours, and your going to fix and keep others. That’s why I think people don’t talk about refunds, but it is an issue. From 20%, you’ve seen marketers go to 20% with refund issues.
I had a software entrepreneur, I won’t call him out here, but he said Andrew, I had these high refunds. If you would have just kept it quiet and not handled it, yeah, he wouldn’t have figured out the problem. The problem in his case was, I forget what it was, he did an interview, but it was solvable. It was a few problems with the software that he was able to take care of. It was maybe something like on-boarding, or I don’t know what. By talking about it he could solve it. Can you give us one tip for people who decide they don’t want to go to MixergyPremium.com, become that [??].
Andrew: What’s on tip that you’re going to teach there.
Marie: One of the major things that we did was really map the psychology of our customers. What are they going through, what are they experiencing at that moment that they purchase your product or your service, and how can you create an email sequence or a touch point sequence that walk them through the entire purchase after they’ve given you their money, that maps out confusion, overwhelm, regret, what they should be doing next. There’s this whole method to really, and anyone could do this if you just take the time to think through your customers eyes, and you really start to communicate with them on a more consistent basis and just map out their psychology over the course of your purchase, your product, the experience itself. Your refund rates will go down.
Andrew: That’s awesome. Alright. If you’re a Mixergy Premium member you don’t have to hear me tell you this. You’re already going to have this course. We haven’t recorded it yet but once we do it will be part of your plan. If you’re not, I hope you join us by going to MixergyPremium.com. What you’ll see there is, it’s not courses for people who are not entrepreneurs. It’s courses for people who are real entrepreneurs because this is the kind of issue that if you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re going to think who cares about this. You don’t even have this issue yet. You first concern is how do I get my first customer. When you’re a real entrepreneur issues like this crop up and you need help, and when you do we don’t bring you a guy who just read a book on the topic. We bring you an expert who is an entrepreneur, who dealt with it herself. In this case, Marie Forleo is coming in and very generously going to walk you through how to understand your business so you can avoid problems like this. Go to MixergyPremium.com if you’re not a member and join, and if you are, watch out for that course. Marie is fantastic as you’ve noticed. If you’re here all the way to this point in the interview, you know it.
All right, final question. Richard Branson, you met him. How have you connected with him? He’s one of many people I could’ve pulled out. I could’ve asked you about Tony Robins, whose video I watched with you. He interviewed you to find out about business. I could’ve talked about him. Could’ve talked about others, but I’m always fascinated by Richard Branson. How’d you connect with him, what did you do with him?
Marie: Giving back is a huge part of my company. We have something called Change Your Life, Change the World. Every for-profit program we have has a non-profit tie. A few years back we had a virtual coaching program, and I earmarked 5% of our net profits. We were looking for charity that I really believed in and felt was in line with our brand.
Fast-forward. There is a charity called Girl Up. It’s about empowering 600 million young, adolescent girls around the world who don’t have access to education, who are getting married before they’re 12 years old, and get HIV by the time they’re 16. It’s a train-wreck. Girl Up is part of the UN, and their initiative is to change that. I was like, ‘This is perfect for us.’
We took some of that money when Girl Up was having a launch party here in New York, and I did a check presentation. One of my dreams was that I always wanted to have on those big checks and be able to say, ‘Here you go,’ and just give away some money. I was on stage and I gave Girl Up their check, and when I got off stage a woman came up to me and was just berating me questions. She was like, ‘I want to hear about Rich, Happy, and Hot. What do you do? I want to know your whole story, etc., etc.’
10 minutes into the conversation she says this, ‘I work for Richard Branson, and we’re looking for more women entrepreneurs like you because we don’t really have enough in our network. We’ve got this trip coming up to South Africa with Richard. Would you be interested in hearing more about it?’
Literally, I was in heels and a fancy cocktail dress, but I was jumping up and down because Richard has been a huge inspiration and one of the people that I just adore from afar. So, the chance to not only get to work with his team, but to meet him personally is how that whole thing happened.
I wound up going to South Africa and hanging out with Richard for four or five days, and he’s ridiculous. He’s the coolest guy in person, so genuine, and so present. Obviously the guy is pretty busy running over 300 companies, but when he was with us, not once was he on his Blackberry. Not once was he like, ‘Oh, yes, yes, yes,’ and then went off and pretended like, ‘Who cares who these people are.’ That was one of the things that really struck me about him. Since then I have had an opportunity to spend more time with him, and he’s just amazing.
Andrew: One of the things that strikes me, as I do this interview and listen to you, is how much of what you’re doing is your own vision for your life that you’ve invented. That is one of the great things about entrepreneurship. I’m hearing you talk about the people who you get together with and the events that you put together for them. Everything from pole dancing to quiet conversations where you can talk seriously about business in an environment where you can say the things that you feel that you want to say and that you know entrepreneurs need to talk about. To going and talking to Richard Branson, to having a charity that’s the kind of thing that you envision. That’s one of the best parts about entrepreneurship.
Anyone who’s listening to me knows the lows of entrepreneurship. Maybe that’s what brought you to Mixergy in the first place. You said, ‘I’ve got this issue, and there’s an interview with some who’s had it. I’m going to listen to it, and I can get past it.’ Let’s never forget that, even at our lowest lows, the vision for what we want to do as entrepreneurs, and that we can get there. You have to just keep getting in touch with your vision.
Marie has done that here. You’ve heard it over and over. Everything from the dance classes, to the events that she puts together, to the charities that she supports. Do the same thing for yourself. Experiment until you find that life that you really, absolutely want. Then just keep visualizing it and wanting it, because, God knows, other people are going to put forth visions of the things you don’t want and the dangers that are out there.
Did you hear that statistic Marie? Nine out of ten businesses fail. I don’t even know where it came from.
Marie: I can never find it verified anywhere.
Andrew: Me too. I can’t find it. I can trace back that one thing about how people are more afraid of talking on a stage than death. I can trace it back to some magazine article where a ridiculous survey was done, and it’s funny how we got to that understanding. Where nine out ten comes from, I have no idea, but people will bombard you with these pseudo-facts, they’ll bombard with the failures, they’ll bombard you with their own troubles because they need your help. All those things that you don’t want are very present in your life as an entrepreneur. Keep reconnecting with the things you do want. One of the reasons why I do these interviews is to show you the people who have done that, and what they’ve been able to do. Marie, you’re clearly an example of that.
For anyone who wants to follow up and see how this is all playing out, I urge you to go check out www.marieforleo.com. What was the other website where they can go check out the courses that we talked about?
Marie: Oh, sure. You can go to www.rhhbschool.com. We’ll be releasing, specifically, free business content on there. On www.marieforleo.com we have Marie TV, which are funny and useful videos every week, and they’re about five or six minutes.
Andrew: Cool. Even if you don’t want to sign up for the program, or maybe if you do want to sing up for the program, get it for your audience. You know how we always sell things to men in our audiences. If you run affiliate programs, and you’re saying, ‘Hey, you know what? There’s a whole other half of my audience that’s not being addressed. I need to find something to sell to them, and it’s not going to be some Google AdWords.’ Check out Marie’s programs.
I happen to know one person who went through it who was generating good revenue from your for it, so I know the program is working well for him. And, now that you’re software is working solidly, the audience who signs up as affiliates can generate revenue from that too, and can depend on it.
I’m talking to much because I don’t want this interview to end. I’ve truly enjoyed myself here.
Marie: Awww. We’ll do another one if I can be of service.
Andrew: We are. We’ll do another interview, and in a few minutes we’re going to come back and we’re going to record that chorus for the audience on how to reduce their refunds.
Alright, www.marieforleo.com, thank you for doing this interview.
Marie: Thank you so much for having on. Pleasure.
Andrew: Thank you all for watching.
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