AMY PORTERFIELD: Listen, I know this isn't going to be the most upbeat way I've ever started an episode. However, I've got something important to say, and I really want you to hear it. One of the number–one regrets that people have in their last days of life is not having the courage to follow their dreams and live a life that aligned with their deepest desires. In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware says it this way. “This was the most–common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and they look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made.” When I read that, I thought, “I don't want any part of that. I do not want that to be me.”
But sometimes it’s easier said than done to follow those dreams. In fact, what's difficult is finding the courage to actually make it happen and move past all the fear and doubt that comes up when you want to do something big. Believe me, I have been there many, many times. That fear is real.
So that's why I've invited a very special guest on the episode today, because her goal is helping others live a life that they will never regret and helping them bring their dreams to life one step at a time. In fact, she's going to share an exercise with you that you can use right away to start taking action in the direction of your dreams and be courageous every single day in doing so.
So, here's the deal. You know that life is crazy short, right? And as entrepreneurs, we have this opportunity to create a life and a business that we absolutely love. But we've got to make decisions that will get us there. We have to move past the fear. We've got to muster up the courage to say, “I'm going to do it even though I might just crash and burn.” And again, that is all easier said than done. But it is very doable, my friend. And you don't have to go at it alone. You can get support, and this episode is going to be that support that will get you moving in the right direction. I hope I've got you all fired up. I think you can hear in my voice I am genuinely fired up for this episode.
Okay, so, who is my guest? Well, my guest is my friend Marie Forleo. She's been named the thought leader of the next generation by Oprah herself. And—this is the first time I've ever said this—she's a New York Times’ best–selling author. That's the first time I've ever introduced her that way because this is new, and that's exciting. And she's also the creator of the most–popular training program on the planet, the training program that literally shaped my business, B–School. And she's the host and creative force behind her award–winning show, MarieTV. She has been one of my most–favorite guests on the podcast, and she gets the award for being on the podcast the most out of everybody. But more so than that, she is my dear friend and mentor from the very beginning.
Marie Forleo, welcome back to the show.
MARIE FORLEO: Oh, Amy. I love being with you. Thanks for having me on again.
AMY: Again. It's so fun to have you on. And it's crazy because as everyone knows, I prepare for these shows, and we were just talking about what we were going to talk about today. And even though you've been on the show so many times, we always have so much to talk about and get into and new stories and new examples. So I just want to tell you that I think this is going to be the best one we've ever done. Would you agree?
MARIE: Me, too. Yes, yes, yes.
AMY: For sure.
So, before we get into all the goodness, you have had some exciting times. You've been hustling, you've been working hard. Can you talk a little bit about what's been going on, where you've been, what's been most exciting, all of that good stuff?
MARIE: Yeah. I mean, last year was probably one of the most challenging and creatively rewarding years of my entire career. We finally brought my book, Everything is Figureoutable, into the world. I'm really proud to say it was an instant number–one New York Times’ bestseller, which was awesome.
AMY: Congrats. That was a very exciting day. I loved watching the video on social. It was incredibly exciting.
MARIE: Yeah. I was both exhausted and elated, and I burst out into tears the moment that I heard. So that was really great.
And just got to meet thousands upon thousands of people. I was actually chatting with someone from your team, and I was talking about signing books. And I said, you know, I think over the past few months, I've signed over 10,000 copies of this book.
AMY: Oh my gosh.
MARIE: Yeah. So I got to meet—we had a big event in New York City, which maybe we'll talk about in a little bit. We had folks fly in from twenty–one different countries, forty–two states. Then, I went on an eight–city tour around the U.S. Then, I did a whirlwind press tour in London and then did a tour in Australia as well.
It was a really full season, and we also had our biggest B-School program ever, which we'll talk a little bit more about that and a few other things as well. So it was a banner year.
AMY: It was, truly, and it was exciting to see you just do it all and talk about it on social and take us with you, and it was really fun to be behind the scenes. And I can only imagine how rewarding it was. But talk to me about what do you think was the biggest challenge of getting into all of that? And it was so new to you, right? You had never done anything like that before. A book tour, writing the book, all of it.
MARIE: Yeah. So it's actually my second book. So I have written a book before, but that was over a decade ago. And this was very different. And I think what's different, one of the things that was challenging for me is I didn't have the size business that I have now. It’s not like I had dozens of people and a show and a podcast and all of the things that come along with businesses like we have. So just figuring out how to manage my time, how to keep myself healthy, how to make sure that my relationship kept going.
You know, Amy, I don't know if you'll find this interesting, hopefully, your listeners do. I love finding limiting beliefs in myself, about myself, right? I kind of [unclear 06:25] down where I may be holding myself back. And a year previous, so it was around the fall of 2018, I uncovered this big limiting belief which said this: If I get more successful, I'm going to lose my relationship. That was a juicy one. I remember when I stumbled upon that one, I was like OMG. I realized it had been lurking around there. And then I challenged myself to see if the opposite could be true, meaning the more successful I get, the deeper and stronger my relationship actually gets—my relationship with Josh. We've been together sixteen years now. It'll be seventeen in a few months—actually, in two months. And, Amy, here's what was wild. I actually saw legitimate proof for the opposite of my limiting belief.
AMY: I mean, what did you do differently that that— Tell me more. I need more.
MARIE: So I realized that when Josh and I first got together, my business was in its baby stages. I was still bartending. I was still waiting tables. And I really got realistic about the quality of our relationship back then. And it was awesome, as most relationships are in the beginning, but it was also really challenging.
And I really tracked, over these sixteen years, because my success has gone up and we are still together, how the more successful I've become, the stronger our relationship has become, partially because I actually really take the time to invest in us; partially because I have the resources to gain even more skills to become a better partner, to become a better communicator; that we have the resources to invest in things that help us take care of each other. So I started to collect all of this proof for how that was true.
And I'm really, really proud to say this. When I was doing my annual year in review, which I just did, I looked back and I saw concretely that even though I was on tour for months and even though it was the busiest time of my career, Josh and I were actually more connected, more intimate, more close, and more supportive of each other than we've ever been. And I'm not bullshitting about this. You know that I am not someone who is just going to talk about a bunch of rosy stuff that isn’t true. Shocked me when I was writing it. So, anyway—
AMY: I love this, and I love that you got honest with yourself and said, “Okay, there is something that keeps popping up for me. I have this fear that this relationship isn't going to make it through all the success and the growth.” And then you went on a mission to see if that were actually true or if the opposite could be true. I love that you were intentional about that.
MARIE: Yes. So, that was something that was an unexpected surprise.
AMY: So good. I love it.
Okay, so, it's fun to see what you've been doing and what you've been up to, and I love the honesty around some of the challenges that have come up as well. But I want to talk to you about something very specific that was actually in your book, called the Ten-Year Test. And I want to talk about this practice because I think my listeners are going to find it incredibly valuable. I know it's going to resonate with them instantly. So will you talk about that first? And then, we're going to break it down.
MARIE: Yes. So, the Ten-Year Test is something that I still use, and it’s something that was incredibly transformational for me, especially at the beginning of my career. And it relates to this notion, to this mantra that’s almost as potent for me as my life mantra, which is everything is figureoutable. And that other mantra is this, this idea of starting before you’re ready. For everything in my life, Amy, that is rewarding and challenging and meaningful and things that I’m proud of, I have always started before I was ready.
So to give that a little bit of context. I think one of the biggest little lies that can hold all of us back is this notion that we're not ready yet, that we don't have enough expertise, that we don't have enough street cred, that we don't know what the hell we're doing, right? There's all these things. I have a family. I have this constraint. I have this limitation. I am not ready to x, y, or z. That could be to start a business, to start a family, to change your career, to make a change in your health or your fitness, or anything like that.
And so one of the things that has helped me extricate myself from the lie that I'm not ready yet is the Ten-Year Test. So what is the Ten-Year Test? The Ten-Year Test is something that you can do when you find yourself being held back by this notion that you're not ready yet. And let me tell you the context through which I discovered this. When I was beginning my coaching practice back in my early twenties, one of the things that I discovered for myself was that I just didn't want to be a life coach or a business coach. From all the personal–development work I was doing, I realized that there were these other aspects of my passions and my personality that I wanted to pursue creatively and professionally. And one of those aspects was this notion of dance, of wanting to be a dancer.
Now, Amy, you have to get, I did not get trained in dance. I never took a formal dance class in my life. And I'm twenty–five at this point, so I am—let me just paint the picture—a struggling life coach; hardly making any money; bartending; waiting tables; doing all the things that we do to keep a roof over our head and food on the table while we're trying to build our business. At least, many of us do that in the early days. And then I had this notion like, oh, and I also want to pursue dance, yet I have no experience. I have no training. And sadly, in the professional dance world, if you're thinking about starting when you're twenty–five, it's a little over the hill. Again, most people who are professional dancers have been doing it since they were six or seven years old, if not earlier. And by the time they're seventeen or eighteen, they are professionals, going on tour, or doing all the different things that professional dancers do.
So I had all this fear. I was like, oh, I'm not ready to do this. This is dumb. I'm going to make a fool out of myself. I should just really focus on building my coaching practice and getting out of debt, and all those kind of things. And I remember one day, sitting down and thinking to myself—and this is the Ten-Year Test—I sat myself down, and I said, “Marie, this is wild. This is crazy. You keep thinking about pursuing dance in some form. You're twenty–five. In ten years from now, will you regret not having pursued dance more seriously right now? Meaning, will thirty–five–year–old Marie look back at twenty–five–year–old Marie and want to smack the crap out of her for being terrified at that age?” And Amy, when I asked myself that question, the answer was clear as day. At thirty-five, I would absolutely regret not having at least given dance a try while I still had the chance. Does that make sense?
AMY: Yes, it does.
MARIE: And so there was this visceral body reaction that catapulted me out of the fear and the shame and the insecurity that I was allowing to hold myself back.
I did the Ten-Year Test again when it related to writing Everything is Figureoutable. I leaned into the future, and I was thinking, “Okay, my business is really full. It's really successful. We've got all these things happening. We're really profitable. The team is growing. Do I really want to add something else huge onto my plate right now?” And I imagined myself ten years in the future still writing, oh and I really want to write my book. And again, I wanted to smack myself that I didn't do it.
So I think it's a really simple way to help yourself get out of your own way by using perspective and what some people call in the personal–development world, a little bit of future tripping in a really positive way.
AMY: Okay. So, obviously, I love this exercise. I've used it already. It’s been incredibly helpful in my business, but I’ve got some questions. The first one is, What if you do this test and you're like, “No, I really want to do it. I think whatever it is you're thinking about is really important, but it doesn't feel right right now, in this moment.” How do you know it's not something you should start five years from now?
MARIE: I mean, that’s where you have to have your own personal discernment, and I think having clarity around your own life goals and your own priorities is really important. So if you do the Ten-Year Test, you're like, “I don't really care. I can do this in five or ten years.”
So, for example, I'll give you a concrete one for my own life. Italy is one of my happy places, right? It's my ancestral heritage. Anytime I go to Italy, I feel more alive. I come back feeling more myself. And I believe at some point in my life I'll wind up living there for a portion of the year. But I don't want to do that right now. I'm not scared of it. I'm not, “I'm not ready yet.” It's like, no, I don't want to. I have other things that I am clearly committed to, and that's not one of them. Does that make sense?
AMY: It does. And you brought up something important. Do you think fear, recognizing where you're fearful, is a good indicator that maybe you should start before you're ready?
MARIE: Oh, yeah. So I believe that fear is a GPS for where your soul most wants to go. Often, fear, especially as it relates to creative endeavors like starting to learn a new language, starting a business, making a big change in your relationship or your career, that kind of fear, when you feel it around those endeavors, it's usually an indicator to go, to move, because there's something in that change, there's something in making that move that is going to propel you. It's going to force you to grow in a way to become the person that you are meant to be. So fear, when it's not a fear around stepping in front of a moving van or something that is legitimately life threatening, fear is directive. Fear is helpful. Fear is trying to guide you to where you're going to have your highest and best growth.
AMY: Okay. Totally on board with that.
Now, a lot of my listeners, they struggle a little bit, or a lot, with chasing those shiny objects. So how do you use the Ten-Year Test in a really honest way, or can you use it to identify, okay, I'm just kind of flip flopping right now. I'm not really grounding myself and staying with something to completion, but I'm testing. Should I do this? Should I do that? Should I do this? And now you're doing ten things and not closing any loops. Where does that fit in?
MARIE: Well, I think you can use the Ten-Year Test to help you get clear on what might be the most important to focus on now. One of my other mantras—and, Amy, I live my life by mantras—my brain is so creative. I come up with new ideas like crazy.
AMY: You do.
MARIE: Oh my goodness. It’s like rabbits having sex—more of them all the time, right?
So another mantra is simplify to amplify. Just like what you alluded to. If you're working on ten projects at once and none of them, they're not getting done, you're just spinning your wheels. You cannot confuse activity with accomplishment. So dialing it back, doing the Ten-Year Test and really asking yourself, to get brutally honest between you and you, what is the most important thing for you to focus on now that you know if you stick with this thing over the next ten years, it could radically transform your life?
So, for example, we'll just take starting a business, because I think many of your listeners, like you and I are, are entrepreneurial minded. That’s a big part of what they want to start or grow or expand in their life right now. I know this. When I first started my business, it took me seven years, Amy, of having other side gigs and other side jobs before I felt emotionally and financially confident enough to do my business full time. And once I hit that ten-year mark in my business, it was profound, the amount of money I was making, the fact that I was growing a team, how much more confidence I had, how much more reach and impact I had in terms of the size of my audience. It was insane. Like, now I've been in my business for 20 years. I am so grateful that I started before I was ready, because in most really important things in life—we were talking about relationship before, right? Josh and I have been together now sixteen years—it's getting better and better. So I think you can use the Ten-Year Test to help yourself whittle down the ten things that you're working on and choose the one thing that if you imagine into your future, you're like, if I stayed and focused on this one thing and gave this the lion's share of my creativity, my attention, my energy, and my focus, in ten years from now, it is going to have a radical positive effects on every part of my life—financially, time wise, emotionally, how I can show up in the world, the impact and the difference that I can make. And I think anyone listening to this right now is smart enough if they're willing to be honest with themselves, to shed away the bullshit projects that they're working on, that they know in ten years are going to make that big of a difference, versus the one or two things that if they gave it their all would radically change their lives.
AMY: Yes and yes. Okay, I know there are some people out there that just pulled over on the side of the road because they are driving and they're like, “Wait a second, I need to take notes. This is too good. She's speaking directly to me,” because I know my listeners well, and that just hit them in the gut. So that was good.
But when you were saying all that, I was thinking, “Okay, so, guys, if you stick with something, and you're like, ‘I'm going to whittle down those ten projects that I know I should not have my hands in all of this, and I’m going to find that one thing that I’m going to go all in, because in ten years I’m going to be so glad I did,’ you are going to face many challenges, many setbacks, many disappointments, but that doesn’t mean you’re not on the right road,” right?
MARIE: That’s totally right. And all of us, anything that you work on, there’s disappointments, there’s stumbles, there’s “failures” all along the way. It’s fine. But if you’re the person that hangs in there, that doesn’t give up, that constantly looks for—I love this phrase. This is another one that I use my whole life—it’s not winning or losing; it’s either I win or I learn, but I never lose.
AMY: Ooh, that’s good. I win or I learn, but I never lose.
MARIE: Abso-freakin’–lutely. So you can look at every single time that you stumble, that you fall on your knees, that you scrape yourself and wind up bloody or crying in the corner, like I've certainly done many times in my career. You go, what can I learn from this? And you get your ass back up, and you go for it again.
AMY: Yes. And I think the more you do that, the more confidence you have that, okay, I can get through anything. I can make anything work. Which actually leads me to a story I want you to tell, because this whole idea of start before you’re ready, you’ve told me in the past a really great story about something you created around the book tour. Tell that story because I think it totally relates here.
MARIE: Yeah. And starting before you're ready, this doesn't just happen one time in your career. This needs to happen often in your career, often throughout the course of your business. So when I was thinking about launching the book last year, I knew I wanted to do something different. A lot of people use formulas and templates, and everyone kind of copies what everyone else does. And that's just not my style. That's not how I roll. And I remember having this idea, Amy, and it went like this. Imagine if a Beyoncé concert and a TED Talk had a baby and then threw a block party. What would that be like? And the idea, Amy, was so freakin’ exciting to me. I was like, oh, my goodness, that sounds like the best thing ever. And I thought to myself, has anyone done that? No, I've never seen that before. Could I do that? I don't think so, but maybe. And then I realized the name of the book I was writing was called Everything is Figureoutable. And that was a big wakeup call that I needed to figure this out. It was very meta. So I just remember thinking I'm not ready to produce and perform in a concert, but I'm going to do exactly what I've done my whole life and start before I was ready. So I had no idea how to find choreographers, how to find art directors, how to find the right venue, how to sell tickets through Ticketmaster, how to get the music, how to get the dance. I mean, the whole thing, Amy. Plus, figuring out how to actually craft the experience, which was a mixture of dance and performance and spoken word and videos and all of these things to have it come together and make sense. And I'm so grateful that I actually filmed the behind the scenes of it where I was terrified and full of self-doubt, totally stressed out.
AMY: You had to have been, right? That’s a scary thing.
MARIE: Oh, it was terrifying. But I kept reminding myself, all progress begins with a brave decision. That's been true my entire life. All progress begins with a brave decision. And even after I said yes to doing it and we had booked the venue, and there was tons of money on the line. We had sold tickets. We had people coming in. I was still completely insecure. I still had no idea if it would actually all come off. But I will tell you, at the end of it—we did it on September 9 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City—Amy, I kid you not. It was the single most creatively rewarding and fulfilling thing that I have ever done in my life, and it was the hardest. It was the hardest thing I've ever done.
And so this notion of starting before you're ready, this idea of paying attention to the messages that appear in your heart about where you should go, this notion of looking at fear as a guidepost—it's where your soul most wants you to go. It’s a GPS—all of these things play into what your listeners are thinking and feeling right now, because I guarantee anyone listening to this, you have notions about what you should create next. You have ideas about a big move that your heart's telling you you should make, but some part of you is like, “But I’m not ready. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” Please listen to me now. You have to trust that voice. You wouldn't have the dream in your heart if you didn't have what it takes to make it happen.
AMY: Okay. That’s powerful. You wouldn't have the dream in your heart—say it again.
MARIE: Wouldn't have the dream in your heart if you already didn't have what it takes to make it happen.
AMY: I hope you all can hear that. I think that’s a message that we all need to hear over and over again.
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All right. Let's get back to the episode.
Okay. So as I'm listening to you talk about this notion of starting before you're ready, a lot of the times, excuses come up. So the excuses of, I just need to make a little bit more money. I need to save more money before, let's say, I leave my nine-to-five job. Or I don't have my website set up, so I can't start that podcast or do that digital course. So I need to get some stuff set up first. Or whatever it might be. I'm using business examples because a lot of my listeners obviously are creating businesses and learning how to market their business. But it typically is, I don't have enough money yet. I don't have the time yet. I'm not ready in one way or another. And you teach this concept of elixir of success, where there's some things you can do to get that momentum, even if you feel that you're not ready yet. I want to talk about those.
MARIE: Yeah. So starting before you're ready, of course, doesn't mean that you throw all caution to the wind, right? It doesn't mean that you're not intelligent and that you don't take measured risks, but it does mean that you have to kick procrastination to the curb. And I think there's really three main ways that we can start before we're ready and combine our ability to be intelligent and take calculated, thoughtful risks.
So a couple of things to be aware of. Number one, you have to be aware of procrastination disguised as research and planning. Amy, I don't know if you've ever done this before, but if there's something that you're kind of excited about and you really want to go towards, but you're terrified of, you just go down the rabbit hole of researching about it, right? Kind of lie yourself saying, “Oh, but I'm really working on it.” It's, like, you're not working on it. You're reading all of these websites about it. Or maybe you've signed up for all these online courses about how to do x, y, or z, but you're just stuck in learning mode rather than execution mode. So starting before you're ready doesn't mean that you should be ignorant or haphazard. And depending on what you want to do, some initial research and planning may absolutely be necessary. But you have to be warned that researching and planning is often a really sneaky way to keep procrastinating.
So here's what I recommend that you do instead. Have a research task. So if you need to look something up, know the one thing that you're looking for so you can get in and get out, especially when you're doing research online. Most people know this. You start researching one thing, then you go down the rabbit hole, and then four hours later, you're watching cat videos. Do not let that happen. Stay on task. And if you need to, set yourself a timer. Get the one piece of information that you need in order to make the next move, and then execute on it. So you do it with intentionality. So you don't want to be, again, unconscious around starting before you're ready and just waste money or blow money on things that you could have researched easily. But don't get sucked into that rabbit hole.
Number two, this is a really important one. We can talk about getting skin in the game. So if there's something that you know you want to start and you don't feel ready yet, find a way to put some money down, get some skin in the game.
So for me, a good example was when I was first starting my coaching career. I was terrified of public speaking, and I wasn't earning a lot of money, so every single dollar counted. And I remember thinking to myself that I needed to up my public–speaking skills. So I went and found a local Toastmasters. And I think the membership fee at that time was, like, fifty bucks. Fifty bucks wasn't—first of all, it still is—a lot money. But back then, that was crucial. That was money that was coming out of whether or not I was going to eat a couple meals a day. So getting skin in the game for me meant putting that fifty dollars down so that I would show up to those meetings every damn week to increase my public–speaking skills. And every single time, I'll tell you, there was something I wanted to invest in, Amy, a few years back. As it relates to—remember, I was talking about increasing my relationship skills. There was a particular workshop that I wanted to take. It was specifically for women. And I remember it had an enormous price tag, like enormous for me. And I love money. I'm very comfortable with money. I have a lot of it. And it's fucking fantastic. And for me, I looked at the price, and I was like, “Whoa! That's a lot.” And I put skin in the game because I said, “This is important to me. I need to get this handled in my life, and I need to up the stakes for myself so I can't back out.”
AMY: Yes. That’s the part—the up the stakes. So 100 percent part of my success in building this business is getting skin in the game. And to tell you guys, quite honestly, where this started for me, before I had success in my online business, my first really big investment was with B–School, which is Marie's very successful, very popular online training program. We're going to talk about it a little bit later. But that was one of the very first things that I invested in, and I was terrified. I was actually so nervous to put down the money, because I had none back then, that I didn't even want to tell anybody. Have you ever done that, Marie, where you're like, “I'm just not even going to tell anyone I'm spending this money, because it seems crazy right now”?
MARIE: Oh, yeah. Well, thankfully, I don’t have people that are that—kind of, they don’t care that much about what I’m spending so I don’t tell them. But I won’t tell people anything. I’m like, “They don’t need to know.”
AMY: Exactly. And I think that’s actually really important because this is only about you showing up and putting a stake in the ground, saying “I'm going to make it work.” Money speaks to me, and so if I don't have skin in the game, I can make a whole lot of excuses. But if I put down my hard–earned cash, I'm doing it. So 100 percent that I'm behind that one, and it has made a huge difference in my business.
MARIE: Yeah. I would say the third thing that really helps people, especially around this idea of starting before you're ready and really getting your butt moving, is to value growth and learning over comfort and certainty. So value growth and learning over comfort and certainty. Look, most of us like being comfortable, and we like being certain, right? And that's fine. There are certain times and places where we just need to rest or we need to just hang out in a cocoon for a minute, but not your whole damn life, and especially not around your business and especially not around your business growth.
So I remember in the early days of my business, there came a point, Amy, I mean, I was wearing all the hats, right? So I’m the invoicing, the customer service, the booking of the clients, the booking of the sessions, the follow up on the sessions, writing the blog post, putting the blog post up on the website, all of the things, in addition to my other side gigs, when I was at Nike Dance Athlete, and I'm still bartending. So I was stretched to the max. And I hit a point where I realized that there was going to be no possible way for my business to grow and for me to realize my ultimate dream of running an empire unless I hired help.
Here was the problem. I had never been a boss before, and I was certain I was horrible at it. I had no idea how to even hire an assistant. I had no idea how to delegate. I had no idea what to even do as a boss. I was terrified over it. But so for a little while, I was valuing comfort and certainty, which was me doing everything myself, more than I was valuing growth and learning. But I hit at breaking point. And I said, “Look, I'm not going to be very good at this. I'm probably going to waste money. I'm probably going to hire the wrong person. I'm probably going to feel shame and embarrassment from not knowing what to do or how to be a boss. But if I don't get out of my comfort zone right now, I'm going to kill the very thing that I am so trying to build, which is this career and this business.”
And so I trained myself to move out of that comfort zone. I just went for it, Amy. I remember starting to research virtual assistants, which, again, at the time, we're talking the very early 2000s, like 2001, 2002. Those things were brand new. And I remember the first person I hired. She was probably double my age. I was horrible as a boss. I think I went through two or three virtual assistants. I remember crying because I just was so bad at it.
But I trained myself to start valuing growth and learning over comfort and certainty. And eventually, I started to get it right. Eventually, I started to actually hire really smart, excellent people who were helping me grow the business.
AMY: I 100 percent stand behind this one. When I worked with Tony, one of the things that he would say all the time is if you want to grow, you have to get uncomfortable. And when I think about my first few years of business, I genuinely, no joke, I think I was uncomfortable every single day. Like, go live on video? No, I'm super uncomfortable with that. Go to a networking event and talk to people I don't know? No, thank you. I don't want to do it. But I would do it anyway. Just little things made me uncomfortable in the beginning. And leaving corporate and going out on your own, everything feels uncomfortable, as it should. I believe that that's where the growth is.
Now, recently, and you know this, I got out of a partnership a few years back, and the comfort and certainty for me was that I was in it with somebody else, we were making tons of money together, things were working, but a lot of the times, there’s that little nagging voice. “This isn’t the direction I should continue. This isn’t working for me.” But when you’re comfortable and you have that certainty, it’s almost like you just say, “Don’t talk. Shh. I don’t want to hear it.” That little voice, you squash it down. But I think if we’re all honest, if we listen to that nagging voice that is telling us something’s not right here, that’s where the growth and learning come from.
MARIE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, every single thing that you dream of becoming or achieving or figuring out exists in the growth zone, which is the discomfort zone. And when you're in the growth zone, here's what's guaranteed. You're going to feel insecure. You're going to feel vulnerable. But in order to grow, you have to let go of that need for comfort and security, and you have to value growth and learning above all else. This is where that phrase comes in so handy again, right? I win or I learn, but I never lose.
Here's the thing. The growth zone is where you're going to gain all the new skills and your new capabilities. It's where you grow so much strength and expertise, and that's where you start producing new results. And for me, with my little imagine if a Beyoncé concert and a TED Talk had a baby and then threw a block party, it’s like I have so much more understanding, Amy, about my own capabilities than I’ve ever had before. There are things that I'm able to do now, there are people that I know, there are possibilities that have opened up to me that I would have never been able to get to had I not put myself in that growth zone or the discomfort zone.
So here's what's cool, though. Once you hang out in your growth zone long enough, it actually becomes your new comfort zone, meaning all the things that once felt so terrifying, no longer faze you. Your confidence increases, which obviously strengthens your conviction to tackle even bigger things the next time around. And here's what else is pretty cool. You start to learn how to embrace the uncertainty and the vulnerability and the humility that's embedded in every single learning experience, and those skills transfer. So when you really get to get good at this in your business, it then allows you to become more brave in your relationships, whether that's with a significant other or with your kids or with team members. It's like you gain all of these new superpowers that are transferable to other areas of your life.
So just realize that almost everything you need to make your dream business a reality is going to require new skills, new experiences, and new understandings. You're going to have to do things that you have never done before. And I'll tell you this. Starting before you're ready isn't easy, but if you want change in your life, it is 100 percent required.
Amy: One hundred percent required.
Okay, you just set me up—you don't know it—but you just set me up for the perfect transition of what I want to talk about next, which is B-School, because talk about starting when you're ready and getting into that growth zone and getting uncomfortable, I think one of the greatest opportunities I've ever had to do all of that was inside of B-School. So can you talk about it for me?
MARIE: Yeah. B-School, it’s incredible. It's our flagship 8–week online training program designed to help you, step by step, start and grow your business online. So it's for people who want to make both a lot of money, but also want to make a positive difference in the world. I'm really proud of the program. It's honestly different than anything else that's out there.
First of all, this is huge for me. People that sign up for B-School, you're safe with us. So we back up our program with 100 percent risk–free guarantee. So if you wind up doing the program and you do the work and you decide for whatever reason it's not for you, you turn in your work, and you get a 100 percent refund. You know, Amy, I've been doing what I've been doing for 20 years now, and it always pains me when I meet people that are like, I don't really trust this or that. And I'm like, it's one of our values in our company to ensure that every single one of our students feels safe and feels protected, because you can't learn things if you're in a place of fear. So at least in our environment, we help people by taking care of them and making them feel safe so they can focus 100 percent of their energy on actually learning what they need to learn and executing it so they can make those changes.
AMY: It’s very true. I've never thought of it that way, but everyone who joins B-School, they do feel like it's the safe place for them to learn and grow and make the mistakes and try new things and experiment and all of that.
Now, just to make it clear to everyone, B stands for Business. And so talk to me a little bit about some of the things that you teach people inside of B-School.
MARIE: So B-School is really centered upon the six pillars of starting and growing an online business. So first, we start with profit clarity, which is all about getting hyper–clear and specific about what is going to make the most profit in your business, not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. So it's understanding concretely who exactly your ideal customers are and who they're not. It's understanding what you're unique competitive advantages are. It's understanding what makes you different than the rest of the marketplace and how to really leverage your uniqueness so you stand out from the crowd, not by putting other people down, but by being so unbelievably unique in who you are and what you offer that others are naturally attracted to you. It's understanding the numbers of your business, right? So if you have different revenue sources that you know how to dial up what's really working and dial down or eliminate what's not so that your business actually becomes something you want to run, not this beast that you’ve created that makes you exhausted and makes you feel like you’ve got ten jobs you hate. That’s profit clarity. It’s one of the most-important pieces of the program, and it’s one of the biggest foundational things.
Then, we talk about websites that sell and don't suck. All of us know that our website can be our best unpaid sales person, working for us 24/7, if it's designed to execute in that manner. So many people wind up spending tens of thousands, if not just even thousands of dollars, on a pretty website, but it doesn't actually convert. It doesn't work for them. It's basically a pretty online brochure. I've had so many people tell me, Amy, that they wished they had taken B-School before they had invested all this money in an expensive website, because they could have, first of all, done it so much faster in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the price and actually got results.
Then, in module three, we talk about your communication plan—how you're actually going to attract those ideal customers to your website, to your branding, to whatever you're doing out in the world—and really develop a relationship that's built on trust, genuine trust, so that people want to hear from you, that they look forward to what you have to share, and that they're really excited to buy your products and your services.
Then, in module four, we talk about how to actually gain traffic and eyeballs to your business. We talk about lots of free ways to do that and also paid ways, depending on where you're at in your journey.
Then, we talk about how to really package and position your offering so that your customers are like, oh, my goodness, can I give you my credit card right now? Here's the thing. You can take two equally fantastic products or services, and you can take one and position it in a way that is just kind of almost, well, everyone's seen that or done that. It's standard, and it kind of gets lost in the crowd of sameys. Or you can take that same product and position it in a way that's really exciting and that people see as different, and they line up, money in hand, wanting to say, “I need to have that now.” And we teach you how to do that in B-School.
And then, finally, the last module is marketing, marketing, marketing, which is one of my favorite topics in the world, because I think if you have a product or service that you really believe in, that you know can genuinely help people change their lives, and you don't do everything in your power to market it effectively and inspire people to say, yes, you are stealing from those who need you most. And here's the thing. You don't ever have to do anything that's aggressive or manipulative. You don't ever have to do anything that's outside of your value system in order to be a really effective marketer. And in fact, the best modern marketing principles bring out the best in your humanity, not the worst. The sad part is most people don’t know how to use them or execute on them in a way that they’re getting results.
So that's just the core program, and I won't keep going on and on. But we've got just a huge library of bonuses and masterclasses. We have things about productivity, helping you focus on getting things done. One is called the Follow-Through Formula. We talked earlier about people that have, like, ten projects going at once and none will never happen. One of my gifts in this life is helping people actually complete things so they can start making money and start making a difference. So we handle that. For people at the beginning of the journey, if they're like, goodness, I know I want to start my business, but I'm still really cloudy on what exactly it should be, or I feel like I’m not crystal clear yet on my vision and my drive, start the right business is like a clarity machine.
And then, we have tons of masterclasses around tech, Facebook ads, PR, all kinds of things, you name it. We've also got B-School mentor coaches. We've got dozens of successful B-Schoolers and business owners—so not only are they B-School grads, but they actually run their own successful businesses—who come back to professionally coach people and support them through the program. So it's just—it’s amazing.
And I'll say this before I let you jump back in. One of the other things that I think I'm really proud of about the program is that we're committed to people’s success over the long haul. So once you become a B-Schooler, you're a B-Schooler for life. You can come back and take the program every single year, year after year, for free. And you get access to those mentor coaches and world–class customer support and an amazing global community. And we never charge you more for that.
AMY: That is a pretty amazing part of B-School, for sure. But here's what I love the most: the stories that come out of B-School always blow my mind. And I know you always have some of your favorites. Will you share one or two with me?
MARIE: Oh, yeah. Just to give people some context really fast. It’s our eleventh year running the program. We’ve got over 55,000 grads from 600-plus industries in 148 countries, so farmers, fashion designers, fishing experts, financial planners, hockey coaches, pole dancers, CBD product creators. I mean, Amy, it’s wild. The list keeps growing. So it really is exciting. But I want to tell you two stories, actually, that I just learned about this year that were really cool for me. It blew my mind.
The first one is a woman named Carmen, and she actually has a rafting company, a glacier rafting company. So when she first was thinking about B-School, she did not even think of herself as an entrepreneur. So she had no business education. She had no knowledge. Her business wasn't making money, and it definitely wasn't standing out. And she was totally lacking confidence because nothing was working. So she got her butt in B-School. She actually did the work, and everything started falling into place. Right now, she's grown a seven–figure business. That's a million–dollar-plus business—get this—this that's only open four months of the year. Four months of the year.
AMY: What?! Okay, that’s insane.
MARIE: They run from, like, the middle of May until the middle of September, rafting season. That’s her passion.
AMY: Okay, makes sense.
MARIE: Yeah, it makes sense. And that’s what she’s been able to do. So she’s not a business person. She's not a coach, selling how to make money. She's not doing an online program. She's got a freakin’ rafting company, and she’s crushing it.
AMY: Okay, I love stories like that. Okay, tell me one more.
MARIE: Okay. This is from a woman named Steph, who’s a baller. I adore her. She's a strength coach. She's a nutrition practitioner. So, Steph was actually a high school science teacher for twelve years, so she was in a completely different career. She wanted to take this hobby blog that she had, and she had this dream to turn it into a real business, but again, she had no experience. She had no idea how to do it. And she didn't want to have it fail and have everyone say, “I told you so. You should have just stuck with being a teacher.” So she signed up for B–School at the last minute. And after the first year, she grew her list to thirty–five thousand, Amy.
AMY: Okay, that’s a lot. Wow.
MARIE: It’s a lot. I didn’t do that.
AMY: I didn’t either.
MARIE: She busted my buns. Then, she created this online course that generated over 1,000 customers and almost $200,000 in revenue, which again, for anyone who knows—and by the way, this is not an knock towards teachers. I think teachers should be paid way more—but if you know what teachers normally make, to see this incredible woman now generating over $200,000 in revenue is amazing. She's got a six–figure book contract. I think she's written three books. She's got a podcast with 2.5 million downloads. She’s on fire.
AMY: Okay. That is insane. And here's what I love about B-School. It actually serves people in all walks of life, all different journeys. No matter what age you are, no matter what race, where you live, what you do, who you serve, B-School will support your dreams and your goals as long as you do the work, which is so incredibly important, but that obviously goes without saying.
So with that, you have a three–part video series that literally just went live today. The first video just went live. And I want you to tell everybody what it's all about. It’s totally free. You guys definitely want to watch this video series. But why do you think it's so valuable?
MARIE: Well, what we did, for me, I know B-School is an investment. And by the way, I just believe in entrepreneurs, and I believe in creative entrepreneurs, and I want to help them succeed. So when B-School has been growing and growing, I said, “How can I take what the B-School experience is and give people a starting framework so whether they do B-School or not, I'm helping them succeed?” I am giving them the exact framework that helped me grow my business over these 20 years, and that's been the most crucial ideas that I've seen from our B-Schoolers and just give it to people. So that's what this three–part video series is.
The first one, we walk through those exact six pillars of building an online business. And there's worksheets involved, Amy, too, because I want people to actually—
AMY: You know I love a worksheet.
MARIE: Yeah. I call them fun sheets. There's a whole little packet because what I want people to do is not just watch these videos, but actually put the ideas into practice to see how much they work. So then, if you want to learn from us, great. Join B-School. But if you don't, you're going to be off and running on your own. So video number one is all about the six pillars, and we go deep into that.
Video number two, we run through the thirteen keys that every small–business owner needs to know in order to have success in this online digital era, so these are timeless principles, but we talk about how to execute on them. So you're not chasing 500 different things that you think you should be doing.
And then in video number three, we talk about the top seven excuses that we can all use to hold ourselves back, and how to bust through them. So it's a really nice arc.
If you enjoyed this podcast that Amy and I have done together, I would highly recommend that you go and check out the three–part video series. It's not up forever. It's only up for a limited time. But go do it, take notes, go kick major butt, and let me know how it goes.
AMY: Yes. Definitely go check it out ASAP. Amyporterfield.com/marie. Easy as that. So it’s there, it’s free, limited time. One of my most favorite times of the year is when that video series hits, and if you’re listening to this episode when we went live, it’s today. So go check it out right away.
Marie, thank you so very much. I love when you're on the show, and I always say this, but every time we do a new episode, I'm like, this one's my favorite. Like, this one is it.
MARIE: That’s because we keep getting better and better.
AMY: We do.
MARIE: So for everyone listening, you just have to say, as we age, we just get smarter and wiser and more fun. Proof is in the pudding.
AMY: So very true.
So, thanks, again, for being here. It's such a pleasure. And I can't wait to talk to you again soon.
Okay, so, there you have it. I mean, the woman's brilliant, right?
I know I've told this story before, so I won't get into all the details, but I think one of the reasons why Marie is so near and dear to my heart is that when I was still in my nine-to-five job with Tony, I started my side hustle. So this side hustle became what my business is today. But I was working on my business late into the night, early in the morning before I went into my job. And Marie was my first mentor. And so she was the first example, that I knew of, of a female entrepreneur making things happen in her own business. And so when I think about those really early, early days before I even left my corporate job, there she was doing her thing. She's the real deal. And I hope you're walking away from this episode feeling inspired and fired up, like I am right now, because I feel like this was an extra–special episode, and we got to talk about things we've never talked about before.
So if you're feeling excited, if you're feeling fired up, and you're ready to change your business, change your mindset around your business, and really create the lifestyle that you so desire, start with her video series. It's totally free. Again, amyporterfield.com/marie. Every year, I watch it, and no joke, every single year, I take notes, I talk about it online to my students, I drill down on new things that I want to apply to my business. It's that good. So you'll hear me talk about it a lot and teach on it after I watch it again. So make sure you watch it with me. We'll be talking about it on Insta Stories and Facebook and all that good stuff.
Okay, guys, thanks so very much for tuning in. I hope you love this episode as much as I did, and I cannot wait to see you same time, same place, next week. Talk to you soon.