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AMY PORTERFIELD: Positive talk is BS, at least according to my guest, and she even has science to back up this statement. So now you're probably wondering, “Well, Amy, what in the world are we supposed to do instead?” I get it. After all, how many times have we been told to use affirmations and mantras to shift our mindset. And coming from someone who knows anxiety and depression well, the habit of using mantras has been something I've tried time and time again. But here's something better. In fact, something easier. And today, my guest, Mel Robbins, is going to share what that is.
Now, I know you're a fan of habits. Trust me, any episode that has to do with habits that I've done shoots right up the charts. So think of today as learning a new habit, and join me and Mel to learn what to do instead of just spewing mantras in hopes of landing on an improved state of mind.
INTRO: I'm Amy Porterfield, and this is Online Marketing Made Easy.
AMY: Mel Robbins: you know her, you love her, and now you get to listen to her and enjoy soaking up her knowledge in today's episode. As many of you know, Mel is a thought leader and a leading voice in the personal-development and transformational space. She's also an international bestselling author, TEDx Talk celebrity—I mean, you should see how many downloads she's got on that TEDx—and creator of the five-second rule, a rule that I'm obsessed with. My students know that I love the five-second rule. I use it over and over again. What you might not know is that Mel lived with anxiety, panic attacks, and untreated childhood trauma for over thirty-five years. And out of all that, she's created some of the most powerful and science-backed techniques that we can use in our personal and professional lives to find our grounding and totally crush self-doubt.
What I love about Mel is that she's raw, she's real, and she's a mom, she's a wife, and a businesswoman. So she just gets it. Today, we're talking about a habit more powerful than all your other habits, even more powerful than the five-second rule. Okay, it's a close tie, but it could be even more powerful than the five-second rule. We're going to talk about how to implement it. And we're talking about why mantras don't work alone, and she's going to share about one of her biggest failures, that had to do with a book launch, and what came out of it instead. It's such a good story.
And quick, before we dive in, I do have a quick favor for you. I want you to think of three friends who could use this interview and take the time to send them a link to this episode. If you have a friend who has struggled with moving forward, who has struggled with taking action, who has struggled with self-doubt or imposter syndrome, or someone that is just really struggled with not loving themselves, not loving, looking in the mirror, not proud of who they are, if they just have had challenges, send them this interview. It could literally change their life. Mel is a powerhouse, and I have no doubt that this interview will make an impact on their lives and on yours, of course, as well. So I hope you spread the love and share this episode.
All right. We have so much to cover, so help me welcome Mel Robbins.
Hey, there, Mel. Thanks so much for joining us.
MEL ROBBINS: Oh, my gosh. Thank you for having me. This has been a long time coming, woman.
AMY: Oh, I have been waiting for this, and I am so very excited to have you on.
Now, here's the thing. I shared in the intro that you're a leading voice in the personal-development space, you're an international bestselling author, a wife, a mom, a successful entrepreneur. But I know that you really struggled for the first thirty-five years of your life. So right out of the gate, if someone is listening right now and they feel like they just can't get out of their own way, like they are in the struggle right now, based on your own experience, what would you tell them?
MEL: If I can do it, you sure as hell can.
AMY: I love that.
MEL: When you said I screwed up the first thirty-five years, I'm, like, you knock ten years off of that. I'd say more like really struggling for probably the first forty or so years of my life.
MEL: Yes, absolutely. You know what I—I describe my life like this. Do you remember the Looney Tunes cartoon?
AMY: I do.
MEL: I don't remember if it was Daffy Duck or somebody would be sleepwalking, and they’d wandered into a construction site.
MEL: And as they’re sleepwalking, they wander off scaffolding, and next thing you know, they're walking out a beam, and they, then, step off the edge of the beam, and as they're falling, as they're sleepwalking, an I beam swings around. It just happens. That has been my whole life. I have taken the hard way in everything I've done. I am a perfect example of failing forward, of unnecessary suffering, of not knowing any better, and at my core, I am on a mission to save you the heartache and the headaches that I caused myself because I didn't know any better. I mean, I'm fifty-two years old, and so when—you know, I was first diagnosed with anxiety in my twenties. That’s thirty years ago. First of all, there were no podcasts. There were no online courses. There was something wrong with you if you had a therapist, and you wouldn't be caught dead in the self-help section of a bookstore. So times have really changed. And you're so lucky to be living in a moment of time where you can sit here and listen to Amy and I talking, and you can get the information that you need and the tools that you need and the research that you need so you can make the small changes that change absolutely everything. So at my core, I think that you should think about me like your screwed-up best friend who got her shit together and is now sharing with you everything that she's learning, shoulder to shoulder, with you every step of the way.
AMY: It's truly how I feel about you when you're in my earbuds, on my workouts and all my walks. I do remember when I'm having a rough day that you share all your rough days, and you tell us all the stuff that didn't go right, and you still have come out of that and have created so much amazing success. So I hope people are listening right now. Really, when she says if she can do it, so can you, if you read any of her stuff, you'll know that that is very true. Like, she's been in the trenches with us, for sure.
MEL: Yeah. And look, I think that—what’s the secret of entrepreneurship? It's trying. That's what it is. If you're going to be successful as an entrepreneur, you must cultivate what I call a high-five attitude. You must have realistic optimism, which is not putting lipstick on a pig. It's not looking at obstacles and pretending they don't exist. It's saying and believing that through your own actions and your attitude, you can have a positive impact on any problem or any obstacle you face. It's having the belief in yourself that no matter what, even if you've never marketed a thing, even if you've never put up a website, even if you haven't sold anything yet, that you have the ability to figure it out.
And what I have learned over and over and over again is that when you take that approach with life and you become a student and you realize that your life and everything that you're interested in is the biggest school you will ever attend, everything's a lesson. And the only way that you are going to build a business or change your life or be happy or achieve your goals or to find a sense of fulfillment, the only way you're going to get those things, Amy, and you know this, is by taking action. And so when you become willing to try, when you can push yourself through your own fears, insecurity, people pleasing, guilt, anxiety, trauma, all of it, when you can learn how to push yourself through it, when you can learn how to recognize the internal bullshit that is holding you back, you will be unstoppable. And so we're going to talk about a lot of these tools today, but the secret to entrepreneurship is leaning in, it's trying, it's taking action, it's not knowing and believing that even if you try and fail, you're going to learn something, and it's going to inch closer to where you're meant to go.
AMY: I love that you bring up this topic of action, because I preach on it all the time. And I just recorded a podcast all about stop talking about it and just do something. And I really do think a lot of your training is about that.
So, okay. So with that whole theme of action, you have a new book, congratulations. It’s called The High 5 Habit, and I got a little sneak peek. I'm obsessed already, for the record. I could not put it down. So bring us to the beginning of this phenomenon. Like, where the heck did this high-five habit come from?
MEL: Okay. I have not been this excited to share something with you in never.
AMY: I feel it. I see you on social, and I was like, that woman’s on fire. She's excited about this.
MEL: I’ll tell you why. This is going to change your life. And it's so stupid when you first hear it. And I say that because the only thing that will stop you from trying what I'm about to explain is your own sense of unworthiness and your own resignation. And so I want you to listen up, because this is the most powerful thing I've ever discovered, and it is essential. If you're going to be successful in business, it is essential that you learn how to have your own back. You learn how to put yourself first. You learn how to empower and support yourself no matter what's going on.
And so this whole high-five-habit thing, this is the first book I have written in almost five years, Amy.
AMY: That seems bizarre. I feel like you’ve just been churning out this great content, but it's the first in five years?
MEL: First book in print in five years. So I have dyslexia and ADHD. It's next to impossible for me to sit down at a desk chair and actually crank out something long form. And besides, I kept working on something, and everything that I've produced in the last three years was crap. And I knew it, and I just kept feeling frustrated, like this isn't it. This isn't it. This is not something I want to talk about for the next ten years. And then, reality struck.
And so here's one takeaway that I want every—I want you to understand. There's a really interesting phenomenon that happens when you hit a low moment, when you hit this moment where you feel overwhelmed or you hit rock bottom or you hit this wall, whether it's brought on by circumstances outside of you or grief or failure or just a stressful freakin’ life, there's this moment where you feel like you're about to give up. And I'm going to tell you, you always hit something solid within you in those moments. And so I want you to pay attention, because if there's one thing I've learned about myself, I am stubborn. Like, it takes the universe hitting me with a sledgehammer before I typically wake up and realize what I'm supposed to learn.
So here I am, and I'm at a very kind of low moment, and I walk into my bathroom in the morning, and I'm standing there in my underwear, and I am brushing my teeth, and I look at myself in the mirror, and I immediately start thinking, “God, you look terrible. I mean, those jowls look like saddlebags on a pack mule. You've got stripes on your neck. One boob is hanging lower than the other. Like, your gray hair is coming in. My god, woman.” And then I started to think—and then, of course, once you have a negative thought about what you look like, you then start to have negative thoughts about the day. And so then I'm like, “Well, I got up too late. I forgot to text Amy back. Oh, my gosh. My first Zoom meeting is in eight minutes. Oh, my gosh. There’s the dog. I haven’t walked the dog yet.” And so I immediately have this moment where I felt overwhelmed and heavy, and I just wanted somebody to step into the bathroom at that moment and be like, “It's going to be okay, Mel.” I know that you know the feeling I'm talking about.
AMY: Uh, yeah. I could totally relate to this. Okay. Keep going. Tell me more.
MEL: Everything I'm about to share is going to help with your self-esteem and help with the motivation that's required to make the changes that get you to a place where you feel healthy and good. But what happened for me that morning is here I am, one of the most-booked motivational speakers in the world. I couldn't think of a darn thing to say to myself. And as cheesy as it sounds—I don't know what came over me—I found myself raising my hand and high fiving my own reflection.
AMY: Okay. Just like out of nowhere.
MEL: Out of nowhere, in my underwear. I hadn't even had a cup of coffee or put a bra on yet. And I, as corny as it sounds, I kind of cracked a smile because it was so kind of dumb. Something in me shifted, and I went on with my day.
Now here's where the story starts to get weird. So the next morning, I wake up, I get out of bed, I make my bed, and I walk into the bathroom. As I was walking into the bathroom, I had that sense. Like, if you and I were going to go meet for a cup of coffee, as you're about to walk into the cafe, you have this boost in your mood, where you feel excited because you're about to see somebody, right?
MEL: As I was walking into the bathroom that second morning, I realized I was actually having that feeling about seeing my own reflection.
AMY: Okay. This is big.
MEL: And as I stood there the second morning and I took a moment and I actually just looked at myself for a minute, I realized that I've spent the first forty years of my life either criticizing the woman in the mirror or ignoring her.
MEL: And so I raised my hand and high fived myself again. And something, again, stirred.
Now I want you to stop and to think for a second about all the times in your life where you've either given or you've received a high five. And tell me, Amy, what does a high five communicate without saying a word?
AMY: Good job. Way to go. Look at you, kind of thing.
MEL: Yeah. Even more. Like, if a teammate has a big play, I believe in you.
MEL: If a teammate blows it, come on, shake it off. We got this. Get your head back in the game.
AMY: Let's do this.
MEL: Yeah, let's do this. I celebrate you. I see you. I got you. It communicates so much.
And so this is where the research gets bananas. So it is impossible, if you stand in front of the mirror tomorrow morning and you take a moment and you look at your reflection and then you raise your hand and you high five your reflection, it's actually neurologically impossible to criticize yourself. And there's a reason why, and the reason is you have been high fiving other people your entire life. That gesture, that physical motion, already is infused with the message I believe in you. I see you, I celebrate you. I'm with you. I hear you. We got this. So when you raise your hand, like you've done for so many other people all these years, and you high five yourself, the subconscious programing in your brain, that is positive, that is belief, that's empowerment, that’s celebration, it freakin’ turns on and infuses and marries and programs with your reflection.
AMY: Okay. So, tell me this. Why a high five over words of affirmation or a mantra that you would tell yourself?
MEL: Well, the reason why a high five is more powerful is that the positive programing is already associated with it. And the second reason why is most mantras don't work because we don't believe them. So if you hate the way that you look, Amy, standing in front of the mirror and trying to tell yourself, “I look gorgeous. I love my body. Thank you, body,” you're not going to believe it, because you're not in that state of mind yet. Mantras only work when you believe them.
And so when you raise your hand and you high five yourself, you are actually fulfilling three fundamental needs. By high fiving yourself at this moment where you're kind of down on yourself, you're basically saying, “I get it, Amy. I get that you're frustrated with you right now. And you know what, girl? You can absolutely do what you need to do to put your health first. You got this.” So you are empowering, seeing, and celebrating yourself at the moment you need it.
You see, most people when they do this—here's something that's really sad—most people, when they start practicing the high-five habit, they either feel immediate burst of relief and holy cow, and I can't believe I haven't been doing this, or they feel resistance. And the resistance is super sad. The resistance happens for one of two reasons. If you stand there and you stare at your own reflection and you're like, “This is weird. This is stupid. This isn’t going to work,” or you feel sad or you feel like you can't do it, you're resisting giving yourself the support, celebration, and the love that you deserve, because you believe either that you are unworthy of it or you believe that only when you achieve something that is worthy of celebration or support, then you will be supporting yourself. And so you’re withholding the very thing that you need to be able to change, think different, take actions that scare you, stay motivated.
And this is just the beginning of the science. Amy. I was just with Dr. Daniel Amen, and we talked for an hour about the high-five habit. What he was saying is that there's a very powerful form of neuroscience that's called neurobics. I didn't make the word up. It's like neuroplasticity meets aerobics.
MEL: When you marry an unexpected physical movement, like high fiving your reflection, something you don't normally do, with the positive thought “I believe in you. I see you. I got you. I celebrate you,” it is the fastest way to develop new neural pathways in your brain. And the other thing that's super cool is you're going to feel a boost in your mood, because if you think about that gesture of raising your hands, you know, we raise our hands over our head when we cross a finish line, when we high five a teammate, when we're cheering because somebody scores or our favorite band comes on stage. So raising your hand up in celebration like that has an automatic trigger in your nervous system. It gives you this jolt through your nervous system, reminding it of the feeling of celebration, and you get a drip of dopamine released in your brain. So that little boost of mood that you feel is because of the chemicals that are getting released in your brain associated with the high five.
AMY: Mm. Who would have guessed that high five in the mirror is backed by science? Who would have guessed?
MEL: Well, I got even more research, if you want to hear it.
AMY: Tell me a little more.
MEL: And I think this is important for those of you that manage teams or have a family, and you want to know what is the best possible way to encourage somebody through a really difficult task, okay? So they did this research study with kids, where they gave kids a super difficult task and they gave them one of three forms of support. In one group, the kids who were doing this challenging task we're told, “Oh, you're really smart,” or “You’re really good at math,” or whatever. They were praised for a trait. The second group was praised for putting in effort, the old fixed-versus-growth mindset. “Hey, you're doing a really good job. Oh, you're working really hard. Keep going.” The third group of kids doing this challenging task were not told a single thing. The researchers simply walked up and high fived them. That third group, the kids who received just a simple high five, outworked, outperformed the other two groups combined and then some.
And the answer is why? And I'll tell you why. It goes back to the mantra thing. When you receive a high five, it's not about the thing you're doing. It's a shared celebration in you, the person, and how you're showing up. And what I'm here to tell you is that it doesn't matter what the number is on the scale or where you're at in life or how much money you have in the bank or what's going on. In order to be fulfilled, in order to be happy, in order to feel motivated to do the things that you need to do, you need that same encouragement.
And I am here to tell you, practicing the high-five habit—and the high five in the mirror is just the beginning. I mean, this is a whole philosophy about having habits of celebration and support and love throughout your day for yourself. When you start to realize that you can learn how to empower, support, and celebrate yourself no matter what, that you don't need to look outside of you for it, you don't need to anchor it on achieving anything, that, in fact, your ability to achieve something will increase when you start supporting yourself every step of the way.
AMY: Okay. That is huge, because a lot of people listening on this podcast, they're just getting started with their business or they're trying to up level of the online business they have. And many of them are course creators. And with course creation comes imposter syndrome, where people start to create their first digital course and they think, “Who am I to be teaching this?” or “I'm not the expert, and other people have gone before me, and they're doing bigger things than I am.” So it stops them in their tracks, and they never get their first digital course out into the world. I could see this high-five habit making a huge difference for my budding entrepreneurs that are listening.
MEL: Absolutely. Because what I want you to do is I want you to use habit stacking. Basically, stack this with what you're already doing. You're already brushing your teeth, or at least I hope you are, and so when you put the toothbrush down, as that budding entrepreneur or that successful entrepreneur—because here's the thing that we successful entrepreneurs do, Amy. I'm sure you do this, because I sure do—I only look at the stuff that's going wrong.
AMY: Ugh, yes. I hate to admit it.
MEL: So I hyper-focus on the things that aren't going right, and I rob myself of the momentum and the confidence and the gratitude that you feel when you celebrate yourself every single day for showing up.
MEL: So here's how I want you to practice this. I want you to take a moment, put the toothbrush down, and be with yourself for a second. You're already so busy. The rest of your day is going to be about responding to stuff, putting out fires, racing around. You're going to feel out of control. I need this moment right now to be a sacred moment for you, for your success, for your mental health, all of it. You're just going to take a moment, and you going to look at yourself in the mirror. And I want you to set an intention. Who are you going to show up and be today? What is the game that you're going to play today? What is the thing that's important to you to do today for you? And just think about it for just a moment. The rest of the day, everybody else is going to hijack your mind. So right now, who are you going to be today? How are you going to show up? And when you get that in your mind, I want you to seal it with a high five, and I want you to send yourself into the game of life with that intention and with the celebration, empowerment, encouragement of knowing that no matter what happens today, you got your own back. No matter what happens today, you're still standing. No matter what happens today, you are going to put yourself first, you are going to support yourself through this, and you are going to get through it. And tomorrow morning, when you wake up, guess what? You're going to come right back here, and you're going to look at the most important person in your life—because you don't really think about this. There’s only one person you spend your whole life with: it’s yourself. And we all need to do a better job of improving the relationship we have with ourselves. And it begins every single morning in this moment that you have in the mirror to see yourself, to recognize what you have going on, whether it's challenging or exhilarating or frustrating or fantastic, set an intention, and seal it with this high five. That's how you start to say, “I believe you. I got you. Let's do it.”
AMY: Oh, so good. So good.
Okay. One of the things that I love about how you teach is you teach through stories, and you've got so many incredible stories, and you typically talk about where you've struggled or where you've fumbled and how you got back up. And one of the stories I'm dying to hear that I haven't yet heard is that you talked about—well, on this podcast we talk a lot about failed launches and what to do and how you need to get back up—and I heard a rumor that you experienced a completely failed book launch. Now, I just got a big book deal, so I’m very curious about this story. You had a failed book launch, but it led to The 5 Second Rule to become the most successful self-published audio book in history. Can you please tell us about that?
MEL: Yeah. So, look, here's the thing about entrepreneurship. It's never going to go how you think it's going to go.
MEL: Ever. And I'm going to hand you one of my favorite tools. So part of practicing the high-five habit, and then I'm going to tell you the story, part of practicing the high-five habit is also catching yourself when you start to take yourself mentally low. When guilt or insecurity or people pleasing start to take you down, I want you to flip that stuff. I need you to swap that stuff away and get a high-five attitude back.
And one of my favorite ways to do that is whenever I'm going through a challenging moment in my life, I say to myself—and this is something I started doing as my book launch for The 5 Second Rule was failing—I say to myself, “Mel, keep going. There is something amazing that's going to happen. Mel, keep going. If you've worked this hard, you will not fail. You have to believe that something amazing is around the corner and it just hasn't happened yet. Mel, keep going. Mel, don't give up. You have to believe that there is something amazing that's coming and this is preparing you for it. Keep going.” Now, that mantra, something amazing is coming, that belief that this temporary setback, this frustration, this horror show that you're in the middle of, is literally part of the journey to get to something amazing. Believing that is what will help you keep going.
And so here's the quick story. So what happened for me is I self-published The 5 Second Rule, and I didn't know what I was doing. I self-published it, and I’d never launched a book before, and so I studied what all the authors do, right? So what do they do? They presell books. They market to their newsletter list. This was five years ago, so I had maybe ten thousand people on a newsletter list. I didn't have anywhere close to the following that I have now. I mean, probably twenty-five thousand people on Instagram, not nearly one and a half million. I mean, I just had no infrastructure. And so I also did not know, by the way, that if you're a self-published author, you will not make the New York Times’ list. It's not happening.
AMY: Oh, I didn’t know that.
MEL: Well, you can’t because you're not carried in bookstores.
AMY: Mm. Makes sense.
MEL: And part of what the New York Times looks for is not only the number of sales, but also where are those sales located, and are they across the country, and are they across all different types of stores? It's a whole secret algorithm. I didn't know that. So I just did all the things that I researched that people did that had become bestselling authors.
And so when the date of my book coming out, in February of 2017, I had done all these presales, Amy. I blasted out my newsletter list. I got friends of mine to post about it. I got everybody that was related to me to buy ten copies and put up Amazon reviews. And as soon as the book kind of released and my newsletter went out, people started to respond within an hour. “Hey, Mel. The book is out of stock.”
MEL: “Mel, the book is out of stock on Amazon.” I'm like, “What? Woo! This is incredible! I have killed it! I'm going to be a New York Times’ bestselling author! Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!” Like, literally, I thought I had killed it. And then as hours passed and the emails kept coming in, I started going, “Okay. Wait a minute. We only printed twenty thousand books. I don't know that many people. So there's no way we sold twenty thousand books in an hour. There's only eight thousand people on my newsletter list. What? Only 5 percent of your social-media audience sees a post. What?”
MEL: So, I was working with this self-publisher and this printer, and here's what I learned the hard way, that when there's a big run on a product, or at least this was the case five years ago, and Amazon suddenly gets a ton of traffic for an unknown product because I'm an unknown author, they turn off availability to sort out whether or not it's real traffic or bots.
AMY: What? That is terrible.
MEL: And then, they take time to sort out, okay, how many orders came in, and how much inventory is actually here? And given that I wasn't working with a big-time publisher, I had no idea this was happening. I had no idea what to do about it.
So imagine this. Imagine you have spent all this time with Amy. You have taken her courses, you have studied with her, you have finally gotten up the courage to create your first course, you are in your launch window for your first course, people start to buy it, and suddenly everybody that you've marketed to can't find the course. It's not for sale. So you've drummed up all of this demand, and now there's nothing to sell.
So for the first two weeks that the book was available, you could not get it. I had podcast interviews lined up. I had speeches lined up. And so here I am, Amy, literally crying in an airplane seat, back in the corner of every room, going, “I suck. Why am I like the Bad News Bears? Why does everything work out for Amy Porterfield, not me. Why? Why can't I be successful? Why do I screw every—,” like, just con—and then I would say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Mel,” because now you can hear if you start going, “I screw everything up. I'm the Bad News Bears. I'll never be as successful as Amy Porterfield,” what happens when you start to repeat it is your attitude tanks. This is what I'm talking about, that you've got to learn how to catch that and flip it. And so I started just naturally saying to myself, Amy, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Mel. Girl, you have worked too hard. You will be rewarded. You have to trust that something incredible is happening. You have to keep going. Yes, I know that you’ve dreamt of being a New York Times’ bestselling author forever. Keep going. Keep going.” And I did.
It was so hard, Amy. I mean, for weeks, the damn book was out of stock. I felt like the world's biggest loser. I got podcast launch. You can't buy the book.
Now, here's the deal. I kept going, and something amazing was happening. A month later, I get an email from Audible saying, “Your monthly report is here,” and I thought, “Audible?” I had completely forgotten that I had recorded an audio book. I was so focused on the hardcover, I forgot about the audio book. My husband uploaded it to the self-publishing platform on Amazon, called ACX, because Amazon owns Audible. I’d forgot about it. What was happening the entire time that I am licking my wounds and drinking martinis to make myself feel better and telling myself I'll never be as successful as Amy is, is literally, people were buying up the audio book because it was the only format available.
MEL: I opened up that report. It was six figures.
AMY: Oh, my gosh.
MEL: I fell out of my freaking chair.
AMY: That is incredible.
Now, my audience knows I'm obsessed with Audible. I have listened to you over and over and over again on Audible, but I didn't know that that was part of your huge success and growth. I love this story.
MEL: Yes. And let me unpack this for everybody, because it's also important for everybody to know in almost five years, The 5 Second Rule self-published book has sold over two million copies. It is translated in thirty-six languages. It is the number one selling self-published audio book in the history of audio books. I have never made a bestseller list. I did not achieve my dream of being a New York Times’ bestselling author. And now let me unpack this, because this is so important for entrepreneurs to hear. Your dreams are critical because they act like a beacon out in the future. They call you through your insecurities. They call you through your fears. They call you through to rise up and do something that scares you. I believe that your dreams have a huge purpose in terms of getting you started, but they don't necessarily, they're not necessarily meant to be achieved.
You see, I achieved something way greater than making the New York Times’ bestseller list. I discovered, by mistake, a completely different business model as an author. The success of The 5 Second Rule book in audio went on to create a partnership between me and Audible that never would have happened if I had had a successful print-book project.
AMY: Whoa. And I believe that Audible, or just hearing your voice in my ears when I need you most, makes me feel as though I know you at a deeper level than ever picking up the book and reading the words. So I feel like it did something magical beyond just that.
MEL: I agree. I agree. And so I'm here to tell you this is the way that you can practice having a high-five attitude. When you feel your attitude going down, be like, “Nope, nope. I got to keep going. This moment's preparing me for something amazing that hasn't happened yet.” Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the failure of the dream of becoming a New York Times’ bestselling author would lead to a four-book partnership—well, actually, we're on our fifth one now and about to go into production on our sixth—with Audible and a whole new business model, Amy. A whole new business model.
AMY: Wow. I mean, that was a gift for me to hear, but I hope all of those that are listening just really took that in. I think my biggest lesson from that is you had a dream. You wanted to be a New York Times’ bestselling author. And although that hasn't happened yet—I'm assuming this new book is a traditional publisher?
MEL: Yeah. I went and partnered with Hay House, and I did that because I just don't have the bandwidth to do what is really required at this stage to get the books to fans that we have around the world. So as of this moment, it's launching in twenty-two languages and, you know, having a partner like Hay House to be able to really amplify this. But I'm self-publishing the audio book.
AMY: Oh, so smart. I love that. Of course, that makes perfect sense.
But my biggest takeaway from that is you had a very specific goal. And like you said, goals pull you through. They move you forward. They give you that momentum. But even though you didn't hit that specific goal, something, in my opinion, even better was waiting for you on the other side. And if you—all those setbacks, if you're like, “Screw this. I'm not meant to do this. I can't do this,” and you gave up, you would have had never known that new business model. That's huge.
MEL: I want to tell you something, too, about my experience in the course business, since so many people—
MEL: —with your expertise in this. I had the same experience in the course business.
AMY: Yeah? How so?
MEL: Oh, the first three courses that I made sucked. Oh, they were terrible.
MEL: Oh. Yeah.
MEL: I tried to do this. When I first got into the course business, like, four years ago, the first course that I did was on confidence. And I made the mistake—and you don't know these things until you actually put a course out and you get feedback. Like, you have to, again, going back to what we said. You want to be in entrepreneurship, you got to try. And a lot of the things you're going to do are going to fail, and that's where you're going to gain the wisdom that you need to figure out how to do the things on your terms.
And what I discovered in the first couple of courses is, number one, I'm really good at identifying the problem, but I wasn't so great then at helping you fix it. So if it was, like, an eight-module course on confidence, I basically spent seven of the modules pounding into your head how much your life sucked and how sad and depressed you were. And then, like, only one, kind of, “Okay, and now here's how you practice confidence, and we're out. Thank you very much.” And the reviews from the first, like, thirty people that bought it was like, “This course was depressing for Mel.” And I was like, “Whoa, take it off the market, deconstruct it, learn from it.” That's how you do it.
AMY: Okay. Considering you’ve had over five hundred thousand people go through your digital courses, I hope everyone just heard that Mel said her first three courses sucked.
MEL: Completely horrible. Like, refund-everybody's-money horrible.
MEL: So that's how you learn, though. It's not going to be perfect the first time. That’s okay. I also learned in doing courses that I actually don't like to teach courses pre-taped.
AMY: Oh, were live.
MEL: Oh, I love doing live. So, I’m way better freestyling, and so having a live component to my courses made me better at creating content. And so I would also—that's the other reason why it's super important to try, because you're not going to know what feels right for you unless you are trying. Now, you're going to listen to Amy and turn it into an evergreen funnel. But I, having a live component, accelerates my ability to create content.
AMY: I get it. I've definitely, since teaching courses for thirteen years now, over the last few years, I now encourage my students: if you like live, you deliver that course live, because you can always record it later on, but I think it's important to know what you like to do and how you like to deliver your message, because then you're going to shine in that experience. So I love that you do it that way.
So, tell me this. You've done some amazing things. I love to hear your stories. I love to hear where you've been and where you're going and just everything in the middle. And I'm so curious. Out of all these amazing things you've done, what do you think you're most proud of?
MEL: At this point, I'm most proud of how the five-second rule, a little brain hack that I invented during one of the worst moments of my life about twelve years ago, has spread around the world and changed the lives of millions of people, including more than one hundred people who have taken the time to write to us and share that they stop themselves from attempting suicide by counting backwards—five, four, three, two, one—and then asking for help, and knowing that this simple tool that I created during a rock-bottom moment to help me just get out of bed and push through the crushing anxiety that was pinning me down.
The short version is back in 2008, which was a really hard year for a lot of people, at least in the United States. There was the collapse of the housing market, a gigantic recession. And my husband was an entrepreneur, and he and his best friend had gone into the restaurant business. And as is the case with the restaurant business, it's a really hard business. And we found ourselves eight hundred thousand dollars in debt, home-equity line maxed out, no savings, liens on the house, I lost my job.
And the shame and the overwhelm and the fear was so crushing that I became a person that I hardly recognized. I was not getting out of bed. The kids were missing the bus. I would lay in bed and stare at the ceiling and think crazy, dark thoughts. I was dealing with my problems, Amy, like a lot of high-functioning adults, and that is by drinking myself into the ground and screaming at my husband. Didn't work very well.
And I knew what I needed to do. And, you know, everybody does. You know exactly what you need to do. And if you don't, type your question into Google, and you'll probably get a million different things you could do. The answers are there. That's the easy part. The hard part is how. How do you make yourself take action when it's scary or you're afraid or you feel paralyzed or you're doubting yourself? How? And I knew I needed to get out of bed. I knew I needed to stop screaming at Chris. I knew I needed to stop drinking. I knew I needed to look for a job and not be so isolated. Like, I knew all those things. But for months I just was paralyzed.
And I saw a rocket ship launch at the end of a commercial one night, and it gave me this crazy idea that maybe if I launched myself out of bed, Amy, like NASA launches a rocket—five, four, three, two, one—maybe if I moved fast enough, I wouldn't still be in that bed when the anxiety hit. And it worked from the very first time that I used it. I used it in secret for three years and didn't know why it worked, but I started five, four, three, two, one—pick up the phone. Five, four, three, two, one—get to the gym. Five, four, three, two, one—don't snap at the kids. Five, four, three, two, one—stop at one glass of wine. Five, four, three, two, one—send the email. Five, four, three, two, one—post the thing on social. Like, just always pushing, pushing myself to do things. Or five, four, three, two, one—putting myself in pause when it was something that I shouldn't do.
And my whole life changed because I had a tool to make the small thinking and behavior changes that change everything, and how that has spread, the science behind it; how it's being used in clinical settings to help people with anxiety, OCD, PTSD; to reprogram your response to triggers; to interrupt suicidal ideation; or, hell, just get to the gym, get out of bed, publish your course, stop second guessing yourself, start high fiving yourself, to flip yourself from a state of criticizing, self-doubt, paralysis into a state of celebration, belief, and empowerment, I mean, that's just incredible. And this high-five habit just takes it to a whole new level, because if the five-second rule is a tool that you can use to gain instant courage and instant motivation to take action, the high-five habit is a tool that you can use to improve the most important relationship you have in life, and that’s the one that you have with yourself.
AMY: Ah, so well said. Five, four, three, two, one changed my life. I mean, in so many ways. I have no doubt the high-five habit will just take it to a whole other level.
So here's the thing. At the time that this interview with you goes live, your book will be out into the world. I want everyone—
AMY: Exciting, right? I hope that just gave you chills. It gave me chills. I’m excited for you.
MEL: Oh, it did. It did. I am so pumped.
AMY: Here's what I want you all to do. I want you to go get this book. So wherever they sell books, you can go get this book. And I want you to buy the book because, Mel, something about my audience that's unique is that we are old school. We like to take notes. We like to highlight. We like to have the physical book in front of us. So I want all of you to grab the book so you can take notes and go back to your notes over and over again. But I also want you to get the Audible. Of course, I do, right? I'm obsessed with Audible. I want you, on your walks, in your commutes, whatever you're doing where you have your earbuds in, I want you to listen to this book a few times, if you must, because I really want it to sink in. So I say go buy the physical book and get the Audible.
But I want to take it one step further. Mel, you have a really cool challenge that everybody listening can participate in. No matter when you're listening to this podcast episode, you can take this very special challenge. It's so fun. So, Mel, tell them about the challenge.
MEL: This is crazy cool. So, the high-five challenge is my attempt to get five million people to wake up five mornings in a row and start their day with a high five in the mirror. And that's not all. As part of the challenge, you will get a video lesson for me about themes like self-confidence and self-love and self-awareness and self-esteem and self-validation and self-reliance, and you'll be part of this incredible community. So you'll have all these high-five friends because the challenge is free, and it's powered by GrowthDay, which is an app that our mutual friend Brendon Burchard has launched. Think about it like a Peloton for personal development. So you get access to this app for free. And more importantly, you will not be alone in your underwear as you high five yourself in the mirror. You will be part of a global community. I will be holding your hand. And it's my way to really boost this idea that you deserve support and celebration every single day. It is the fuel that will give you the motivation and the courage that you need to change your life, to take the advice that Amy is giving you every single week, to take the risks, to take the chances, to place the bet on yourself. And I don’t want you to feel like you're alone as you're trying this; I want you to feel supported.
AMY: Ah, you guys, you've got to take this challenge. So amyporterfield.com/mel, just M-E-L. Amyporterfield.com/mel. You’ll get to take the challenge. You’ll get even more from Mel, which is so fun. You’ll get to be a part of GrowthDay. Like, it’s a win-win-win all over the place.
Mel, thank you so very much for taking the time to be here. I'm such a fan of yours. I love everything you do, and I'm so excited for your book to get out into the world.
MEL: Oh, I love you, Amy. Thank you for having me on.
AMY: Love you tons. Thanks, friend.
Isn't she just fantastic? It's like you just want to sit down, have a cup of coffee with her, and talk about all the things. She makes me feel like anything is possible. And I feel like those are the friends that you want to have in your circle. And they can be friends from afar. You don't have to be best friends with Mel to get some of her best strategies and techniques for overcoming that self-doubt and anxiety and depression and just feeling stuck.
After I finished the interview with Mel, before I recorded this ending here, I just wanted to take a moment because I wanted to reflect on how I've been feeling lately and how I've been dealing with some challenging emotions that have been coming up. If you tuned in to my last episode, all about my big life changes, you know what I'm talking about. And after I spent a little time reflecting, I walked myself on over to my bathroom mirror—you can bet I did. You know what's coming next, right?—and I gave myself a big high five, because sometimes that's just the one thing that can get you moving forward and that one thing that could instantly make you feel better. It's like that one step leads to the next step and the next step. You got to start somewhere, and if it starts with the big high five in the mirror, my friend, it works. Try it.
But get the book because it goes beyond just high fiving yourself in the mirror, although that's incredibly powerful. The book is truly what so many of my students struggle with, with where they're at in their journey. It's hard to be an entrepreneur. It's hard to launch a course if you've never launched it. It's hard to put yourself on video when you've never done that before. This book allows you to celebrate the wins and see how far you've come and where you're going and how to get unstuck.
So here's some action items for you. Number one, get your butt over to that mirror and lovingly give yourself a high five. And I want you to share it on Instagram. I do want you to tag me. I want to, of course, tag Mel, but I want to see these pictures as well. So if you listen to Online Marketing Made Easy and you're going to share your high-five photo, of course, I'm going to share mine on Instagram. You'll see mine. But if you share yours, tag me, tag Mel. We want to see.
But also, get into that challenge. I think her challenge is going to be really eye-opening for so many people, like, getting into motion, taking the steps to feel better, to feel more confident, to feel more self-assured. This challenge will help you do so, and you get a lot of trainings from Mel. So again, amyporterfield.com/mel. It will take you right over there to the challenge. And of course, go grab the book High 5 Habit. I think you're going to love it.
All right, my friends. Thank you so much for tuning in. I'll see you same time, same place, next week. Bye for now.