[0:56] Rachel: Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast, “Conversations from the Heart. I am so, so excited to introduce this week’s guest to you all, Marie Forleo. New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and one of the most inspiring people on the internet right now; with all the amazing inspiration we can find online these days, that is saying a lot. She’s someone I know will motivate you to kick your butt into gear so that you can make 2020 your best year yet. Welcome to the show Marie!
Marie: Oh, thank you so much for having me on, it’s such an honor.
Rachel: I’m so excited to talk to you today, I feel so spoiled [laughs]. I’ve been reading your book, and I’ve been taking little notes just over the holidays, and I get to actually ask you the questions [laughs] that…
Rachel: …naturally just came up reading. It’s such a good book.
Marie: Well that makes me happy, especially because, you know, that book is definitely meant to not just be read, but done. So to hear that you’re taking notes and you have questions, nothing makes me happier.
Rachel: Oh, it’s such a good book, I mean Everything is Figureoutable [laughs] it’s just…I recognize while reading the book that that has been my mantra almost my entire life, I just wasn’t…I just wasn’t clear…
Rachel: …of it until I started reading…
Rachel: …just how…how powerful that message is. So, I mean, this title to me is just…is just “wow.” Was it clear always that this was going to be the title of the book?
[2:21] Marie: You know, I was approached by…I have a book agent, and for years she was letting me know that there were publishers kind of circling around, and she’s like “you know, they’re sort of saying ‘we just want the Marie Forleo book, what is it?’” And Rachel, I gotta tell you, I am someone who really just trusts my instincts, and it wasn’t ready yet, it was like I knew there was this seed planted underground, in the kind of “under-earth” of who I am, but to force it and to say, “I’m just going to put a book out because people want something from me,” it just didn’t feel right, and when an opportunity came up in 2016, I was asked by Oprah’s team to do an Oprah-style TEDTalk at an event she was holding called Super Soul Sessions, and there was a connection in my mental theatre to call it “Everything Is Figureoutable” and I said, “you know, this is the first time I’m sharing this idea outside of my own platform, and outside of with my own audience and my own students, and if it feels really good on that stage with people that don’t know me, then I know that that will be the title and the book. And I had an instinct that it was going to be it, but that was really what solidified it.
[3:26] Rachel: So what is mental theatre?
Marie: So your mental theatre, or the way that I think about it, is sometimes if you find yourself in the shower, or you’re walking around the block and all of a sudden it’s almost like you get a download, and for me it feels like it appears in my prefrontal cortex, which is the front part of my brain. It’s almost as if there’s a little Marie that’s sitting in an empty theatre, and no one else is there, and then up on the big screen, either a phrase comes or an image comes or just a really strong idea kind of appears on that thing and I’m like “whoa, it’s a download.” I don’t know if you resonate with that, but sometimes I think when we’re not actively working to find an answer or a solution and we’re just out there in nature, or maybe we’re just breathing or you know, we’re in a child’s pose or we’re just doing something like playing a puzzle, all of a sudden we get a flash of insight and to me, I call that appearing in my mental theatre.
Rachel: How has the response been so far? Because I know you were on…you’ve a really big year…
Rachel: …it’s a New York Times bestseller, I’m sure you’ve met so many people who are just in awe of the book. How has the response been in terms of, you know…are people as a whole feeling like everything is figureoutable?
Rachel: Or have you been challenged around that concept?
[4:36] Marie: Well, I actually wanna talk to the skepticism, so let’s answer that, so in two ways. One: the reception has been so incredible, and it’s been so gratifying because I will tell you that book was not easy for me to write. I struggled a lot. I had so much self doubt, you know, it was really funny because it kicked my butt so hard and I said “isn’t this wonderful? Like I know the mantra, the idea, the belief is true, truer than anything I’ve ever realized in my whole life, and isn’t it funny that I’m having trouble figuring out how to write the book called Everything Is Figureoutable?”
Marie: Because it was such a big idea, and I wanted it to be so universally applicable which is one of the most challenging things to do from a content-creation perspective. I knew that if I, for example, wanted to write a book that was more narrow and focussed on let’s say business, or starting a business, or entrepreneurship or leadership, that would almost be easier because it’s a smaller container, where this idea I was like, “ooh, this is really going to challenge me.” So, to the answer about the reception, it’s been amazing and it’s been so satisfying because it’s been so much hard work and there were so many tears and so much self-doubt, so that piece feels really good. But let’s talk about the other side of the puzzle, the skepticism, because what I did on tour, both in the States and around the world was whenever I was giving a talk, I would ask people to raise their hand and say “who thinks, first of all, that this is an empowering message but doesn’t believe it? But doesn’t believe that everything is figureoutable?” And I said “please be honest, I’m not going to be offended, this is how we have real conversations, this is how we get to the deep, good stuff. Because there’s no way you’re going to get value out of this conversation if some part of your brain or in the back of your consciousness you’re like ‘no, it’s not.’” So people inevitably raised their hands and it gave us a great opportunity to dive into what I see are the three main point of skepticism around the concept. So I don’t know if you want we can quickly go through them, if that’s useful?
Rachel: No, I think that’s so, so fascinating because when I started reading the book, my husband and I, we have very different ways of looking at the world.
Rachel: He’s kind of a worst case scenario type of guy, whatever new endeavor we start, he wants to think about all the ways in how this might not work.
[6:47] Rachel: You know, “what’s the risk,” and I’m sort of the opposite. And then he caught the book on the coffee table and he’s like “oh, what’s this book?” And I’m like, “oh, it’s Everything Is Figureoutable,” and he went “that’s not true.”
Marie: Exactly. Exactly.
Rachel: It was just…I thought it was so fascinating. Cuz people are kind of in those camps of like, “oh, no, no. Most things are really hard and you can’t figure everything out.” So yeah, how do those levels of skepticism, how does that work?
Marie: Yeah, so the first one came up for me when I was just beginning on the journey of writing the book and I was out for brunch with some friends and one of my friends had her eight year old son with her. And they said, “hey, Marie, what’re you working on now, what’s going on with the business?” I said, “oh, I’m working on this new book.” “What’s it called?” “Everything Is Figureoutable,” and the eight year old is like “no it’s not. Absolutely, no, it is not.”
Marie: And I’m like, “oh, okay young man. Tell me, what something that is not figureoutable?” And he said “well, we human beings cannot grow working human wings out of our back and fly away.” And I was like “well, that…
Rachel: Good point.
[7:45] Marie: …is really a good point.” I said, “but, have you heard of CRISPR?” And he was like, “no, what’s that?” And I’m like “you need to go google that when you get home.” I said, “But, you do know that we human beings can indeed fly.” And he crossed his arms and he scrunched up his face and he’s like “oh. I guess you’re right. Okay, well what about this one: I can’t bring my dog back from the dead, the one that died just a few years ago that I miss.” And I was like “well first of all, that’s some Pet Sematary ish right there,” that’s what thought, I didn’t say it to him. But second of all, I said, “you do know that scientists are working on cryogenics, right? And for a few years, agree with it or not, people have been cloning their dogs.” And he’s like, “oh…yeah. You’re right.” So conversations like that inspired me to create a set of rules around this really powerful idea so that we can use it for its intended purpose, which is to help ourselves create positive change in our own life, and by proxy, then make positive change in the world around us. So here are the three rules of the figureoutable philosophy; Rule Number One: All problems, or dreams, are figureoutable. Rule Number Two: If a problem isn’t figureoutable, it isn’t really a problem, it’s a fact of life or a law of nature, like death, gravity, taxes (sometimes). Rule Number Three — this is the big one: you may not care enough to solve a particular problem or reach a particular dream, and that’s okay. Go find something you do care deeply about, and circle back to Rule Number One. And you know, Rachel, when I was researching the book I love inspiring quotes and I found this great quote by a British quantum theorist named David Dosch, and he says “everything that is not forbidden by the laws of nature is achievable given the right knowledge.” And I would say, you know, you don’t have to take a quantum theorist’s word for it, or my word for that example, I invite people to try it before you deny it. Try it before you deny it. So, that usually handles [laughs] a lot of the skepticism, but then the second piece I want to go into really quickly, this was actually something that came up from a friend. I got a text when the book was just about done, and we had revealed the cover, and this friend of mine — he’s known my work for many years, he respects me, but he said “you know Marie, congratulations, it’s a really good title, but I gotta be honest with you: I don’t believe it. Are you really telling me that the challenging things in life like addiction, and loss, and grief, or a life ending, or a life-altering diagnosis…are you seriously saying that those things are figureoutable?” And I responded “yes. And let me tell you why.” So after I’d given that Oprah talk, she put it out on her podcast and the idea and the philosophy got out to a much wider audience than I’d been able to share before. So I started receiving letters from people who had never worked with me, didn’t know my work, they just watched that Oprah talk. And one letter I got was from a woman named Jen, and Jen said, “Marie, thank you so much for that talk, it’s actually an idea that my mom has been trying to teach me my whole life, and we sat down and watched together and we loved it. But then everything changed. My beautiful mum, who’s like my best friend in the whole world, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And suddenly, nothing seemed figureoutable.” But she said, “when I took a step back and looked more deeply at the situation, here’s what I saw: One, I could figure out how to find nursing care for my mom who lived in a rural area. I could figure out how to find foods that she could actually tolerate.” And then this was the big one: “I could figure out how to get medical equipment so that my mom could spend her last days, and in fact her last five weeks on Earth exactly where she wanted to be, which was in her own home.” So Jen said, “I can say without a doubt that yes, everything really is figureoutable, and thank you so much for sharing these three simple words that made such a huge difference to two women living on the other side of the world,” Jen was from New Zealand, and we had dozens…
[11:54] Rachel: What a story.
Marie: Yeah! Dozens of other stories in the book like that, from folks who have suffered some of the most tragic, and difficult, and hard truths that we have to face as human beings, and this phrase and philosophy helps them do that from a place of deep consciousness, and from a place of true, rooted power.
Rachel: Because it’s such a…it’s really a philosophic book, you know, it’s very motivating and inspiring and there’s a, you know, so many actionable steps that you can follow and implement in your life, but the whole philosophy around Everything Is Figureoutable, like no matter the problem I’m faced with, I can figure that out. I can…you know, maybe I don’t know the answer right now, but just the open, positive viewpoint of looking at life that way, of “okay, I can figure this stuff out, whatever comes my way.”
Rachel: It’s a very different way of looking at life.
Marie: It is.
Rachel: And I think for people who don’t, right, for people who have the view of “nothing is figureoutable, I don’t know how to do anything.”
Rachel: “I’m totally stuck, I don’t like my life…”
Rachel: “Everyone else is privileged, they can figure things out because they have it better than I have,” what do you…have you met any people like that that you’ve sort of, maybe have converted into the more open view of “I can figure this out”? Because it’s easy to get stuck in the cycle of “I’can’t.”
Rachel: Right, and then it’s almost triggering, to see someone, out filling the world. [laughs]
[13:14] Marie: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. So that was actually the third layer skepticism, you know, for people to say “well, who are you to tell me that everything is figureoutable? You don’t know where I come from. We didn’t grow up in the same circumstances, you have so many more advantages than I do.” And to that I say, “look, I actually really love what Warren Buffet has said, I know as white woman born in the United States of America that I basically won what he calls the ‘ovarian lottery,’ meaning by no effort of my own, I was born into a family that gave me a roof over my head, that fed me, that gave me access to healthcare, that gave me access to education, I have clean running water, electricity; those are assets that literally billions of people don’t have around the world right now, so I am very aware of that. And that’s why it was important for me, and they’re threaded throughout the entire book, to include stories that are far more compelling and diverse than my own. So people that are from the developing world, people that have all kinds of — quote, unquote — “odds stacked against them.” And it’s…those are real limitations, right? These are not imagined, these are real obstacles that were…again, by no fault of their own, that’s the circumstances they were born into. So, those stories are throughout the book from folks who embody this philosophy…they didn’t read the book, right, but this is how they live their life. So, I think that that gives us a lot of hope. And then in terms of people saying “I can’t,” I think, you know, part of what we do in the book is dive deep into the excuses that can hold all of us back, and I know you can’t see me right now, but I’m raising my hand. I don’t know one human on Earth that at some point hasn’t had their own set of excuses that they’ve used to hold themselves back. It doesn’t make us bad [laughs], doesn’t make us lazy, it doesn’t…we shouldn’t feel shame about that, that’s just reality. But if there’s anything in your life, we go back to those rules, right Rachel; if there’s anything in your life that is so important for you to figure out, one of the next steps that you have to take, I think, is to embrace excuse-free living. And that requires not giving yourself permission to hang out in the “I can’t” world very long.
Rachel: Oh, so so so true.
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[16:53] Rachel: Just reading your life story, because you’ve come a really long way, or you’ve…you’ve turned your life from one sort of trajectory…
Rachel: …one path you were on in your early, early twenties…
Rachel: …to something very different right now. So for someone who hasn’t read the book yet…
Rachel: …or they’re not in the world of Marie Forleo just yet, could you share a little bit about how you got to where you are?
[17:15] Marie: Yeah, it was definitely a windy turn, and, you know, I started my career on Wall Street on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. I’m one of those people who just has a lot of energy, and I graduating school thinking “there’s no way I can sit behind a desk for eight hours a day, like I will go absolutely bonkers,” you know what I mean, “I’ll be bouncing off the walls, it’s not possible.” And I remember being on the floor and being really excited to have a job, I’m the first in my family to go to college, so just to have that opportunity was incredible. But about six months in, I started hearing these little voices, like a still voice inside saying like, “Marie, this isn’t who you are, this isn’t what you’re meant to do, this isn’t what you’re meant to be. You need to quit.” And that was a terrifying idea. First of all, my parents had busted their buns to even get me in school, I was carrying some debt, it’s not like I have a trust fund or a backup plan, so the idea of quitting a stable job when you have health insurance and you don’t have anything else to do, did not sound smart. But I kept showing up and trying to soldier on until one day, I can only explain it as I was having kind of like a mild panic attack on the floor where I couldn’t breathe, I was dizzy, I told my boss “hey, I need to run out and get some coffee.” And I made a beeline to the nearest church, Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan — I had gone to Catholic school, so my kind of go-to thing in a crisis was to look up and just ask for some guidance. And I remember sitting on those church steps crying my eyes out because I felt so…like such a loser. I was like, “God, I have a job, I understand how grateful I am to have a job, and yet I want to quit and I feel like this place is making me sick,” and the first bit of guidance I had was to call my dad, because there was a lot shame for me around that, I was like “I know how hard this man has worked, I don’t want to disappoint him, but yet I don’t think I can keep going here.” And I called my dad, and I was crying and, you know, when he got a chance to break in he’s like “Marie, calm down, everything’s okay.” He’s like “look, you’re going to be working for the next 40 to 50 years of your life. I’m not worried about you, you’ve been babysitting since you were nine, you will figure out a way to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, that’s fine.” He’s like, “but at this stage in your life, you have to find something that you love, and you can’t stop looking until you find it, because once you find it, everything else falls together. Otherwise your life is going to be miserable.” And Rachel, that was the permission slip, really, that I needed. [laughs]
Rachel: What a guy! [laughs]
[19:32] Marie: Yeah. And you know, he wasn’t giving me any advice on what to do, just that if I was that unhappy, that I had to make a change, that was basically the message. And so I set out on a bit of an odyssey, the only clues I had about myself — by the way, this is a side-note: I think our society right now does a really poor job of preparing and educating young people on how to figure out how they can find their place in the world, what are their strengths, what are their skills, how to figure out the money piece, like there’s…they just teach us stuff from books, or all this algebra and calculus, which by the way, that’s all great if you happen to be headed in that direction, but so many of us aren’t; there’s not…there’s hardly anything I learned from my textbooks that I use now. But, my clues were I was highly creative and I also loved business. And that thought that came to my mind was “what about the world of magazine publishing?” Right? There’s the ad side, which is very business-oriented, there’s the editorial side, which is very creative…so I got into a temp agency, and I wiggled my way into getting a position as an ad sales assistant for Gourmet Magazine, way back in the day, Condé Nast Publications, huge conglomerate, really respected publication. And I remember starting in that job and I was like “okay, this is amazing.” Wall Street was 99.9 percent men, very sexist, I got hit on all the time, I cut off all my hair trying to get taken more seriously, that didn’t work; and in the magazine world there was a different mix, right, there was a lot more women, I was like “wow, this just feels more nurturing, this feels really exciting.” My boss was amazing. But about six months in, those still voices came back, “Marie, this isn’t it. This isn’t who you are. This isn’t what you’re meant to do in this world.” And I’m like wanting to rip my hair out. I’m like “well, will these voices tell me what the hell I’m supposed to do instead?” I just kept knowing that I was so unemployable, so I took a step back and I tried to look more broadly at the situation. And while I loved my boss who was an ad executive, I didn’t want to become her, meaning I wasn’t aspiring to get her position. And then I looked ahead at the publisher, who was another super powerful, smart, intelligent woman — I didn’t want her job either. And I thought to myself, “well, if I don’t want to climb this corporate ladder, what am I doing wasting their time and mine?” And I thought “okay, maybe I’m too much on the number side. Wall Street was all about numbers, ad sales, all about numbers and quotas. What if I’m supposed to be on the editorial side?” I went to the HR department, I explained what I wanted, I said, “hey, I’m willing to take the lowliest of positions,” and they got me a position as a fashion assistant at Mademoiselle magazine, okay? I’m like “alright, this has got to be it. Gotta be it.”
[22:01] Rachel: This sounds so exciting. [laughs]
Marie: It sounds…right? Like you’re….I’m getting to talk with designers, you’re like looking at new products, you’re working on photoshoots and layouts and all this stuff, I’m like “this is going to be awesome!” So for the first six months, of course, it was exciting because it was novel and new and I was learning all these things, but then, you know that happened: the voices come back.
Marie: “Marie, this is not who you are, this is not what you’re meant to do.” And at this point, I genuinely felt like I might have something wrong with me, that I might have a commitment problem, maybe there was something wrong with my brain that I couldn’t focus, it was just, I mean…I couldn’t explain it. I was the valedictorian of my class, and yet I couldn’t hold down a job. I felt like such a loser. All of my friends were starting to get promotions, they were starting to build real, adult lives and here I was just wanting to quit again. So one day I was on the internet, and I stumbled upon this article about a new profession at the time — context: this is 1999. 1999.
Marie: This new professional was called “coaching.” No one had every heard of this before. I read this article, Rachel, and I swear to you, it was like angels appeared, clouds parted, and it was like [singing] “aah! This is who you are! This is who you’re meant to be!” And yet, I was 23 years old and I’m from New Jersey, so I’m skeptical. The logical part of my brain is going “are you nuts? This is so cheesy. You’re 23 years old, you can’t hold down a job, you’ve got debt up to your eyeballs, you’re the biggest loser, who the hell’s going to hire a 23 year old life coach anyway?” So I had all this fear and all this self-talk on one side of my brain, and yet I could not deny how right this thing felt. It just felt so positive, it felt like it was custom-made for me, even though it didn’t make logical sense. So I signed up for a 3-year coach training program on the spot, I started doing my coach training studies at night and on the weekends, and I still worked at the magazine during the day, because I needed that income, I needed that paycheck and the healthcare. Fast-forward six…
Rachel: Who would doing coaching at that time, I’m just trying to…
Rachel: 1999, who did that?
[24:09] Marie: Yes! Like, I’m telling…that’s what I mean, it was brand new, it was so exciting. No one had heard of it before, which was even more reason that it felt weird to me, and my logical mind thought and still thinks, I hate the term “life coach” to be honest with you, I think it’s cheesy, but whatever, I don’t care about that, I’m not into labels. I get this call six months later from the HR department, they have a promotion for me. They wanted to promote me to Vogue, the top fashion magazine in the world. More money, more prestige, it was just…it was amazing. But that was my fork in the road, you know, do I say yes to this traditional career, keep staying on this path, have, you know, that safe paycheck coming in and something respectable that people can understand, or do I quit and do this weird life coaching thing that I don’t know how to start a business, I don’t know what this means, I have no money, I’m not even through my training yet. So, uh, I quit…
Marie: …my job, I said no to the vogue offer and I started bartending and waiting tables, which is how I helped put myself through college. And I started my coaching business when I was 23 and that was over two decades ago, so…I, you know, we can fast forward through the rest of it but that was the origin story. I started my online business before people really knew what that was, I was doing email marketing when people were like “email? What’s that?” All that stuff. So, you know, I’m an OG in that respect.
[25:29] Rachel: I find this so brave, honestly, the…to listen to that inner voice in all those moments of obstacle and all those moments where the rest of your life and probably everyone in your life were going “are you crazy?”
Rachel: “You have a good thing, keep going.”
Rachel: And I think it’s such a…valuable thing to cultivate the ability to listen to that inner voice, because we all have it.
Rachel: And if we…I think it requires some form of practice, of learning how to hear that voice, and learning how to trust it. And it’s not something we’re prepared for, it’s not something we learn in school, intuition, instinct, trusting in our heart, in our gut…is that something you felt like you always had, or have you been able to practice at getting better at listening to and following that voice?
[26:14] Marie: It’s actually both, and we can talk about…I want to give a few tips to people, because I know a lot of folks have the mistaken notion that you either have it or you don’t, and like anything else, first of all, it’s figureoutable. It is a learnable skill. So, my mom, who’s like, amazing, she taught me from a very young age, so I’m…I was a little girl who was very, very, very independent and very opinionated. I remember having a meltdown in kindergarten because my mom put me in white tights with black patent leather shoes, and that was a fashion no-no to me, and I literally had the meltdown on the neighborhood corner, and she never lets me live it down to this day. Cut to me going, like, I wanna walk myself to school — again, I grew up in New Jersey so you can do that, they didn’t really have busses near me then — and she said, “alright, I will let you walk to school on your own if you promise me this: you have to pay attention to the little small voice you have inside. If a car pulls up next to you and slows down and says ‘hey little girl, I got some candy, why don’t you come get it?’ You need to run. Any time something happens, if you’re on your own, and you start to hear a little voice that says either ‘danger,’ or ‘go someplace else,’ or gives you a message, you have to listen.” So my mom basically instilled in me — and again, she did it through a religious lens because that’s how she grew up, right, she went to Catholic school, so she said “I have a direct…” the way she poses it, and this doesn’t have to be for anyone listening, but she said “you have a direct line to God. He’s always going to speak to you through your heart and it’s going to be very, very clear, and it’s going to sound like a still small voice, and you have to listen, it will never steer you wrong.” So I got that message over and over again, and so I would talk to my mom about my still small voice. So by the time that I was in, you know, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, that thing…I could hear it loud and clear, like it was a podcast coming through my head.
Marie: And my body revolts. I’m a very physical person, and so I get physically ill or physically sick when I have an inconvenient truth that I’m not facing. Like I can’t hide it.
Marie: So the combination of those two things, and then, you know, you asked the second question “has it got better?” Oh, yeah. The times when my ego gets the best of me, or my desire for success gets the best of me, and somehow I convince myself that that little voice “oh, it’s not right,” or “that’s just a concern, you need to get over it. Face your fears, move on,” and then I look back and I’m like “that was totally my intuition trying to save my ass and I did not listen because my ego was getting the best of me. So, I’ve learned, do you know what I mean, through painful…
Rachel: Yeah. [laughs]
Marie: …experiences to continue to listen and to refine my ability to discern, you know, what’s what with whatever’s happening on the inside.
[29:03] Rachel: Yeah, I definitely recognize [laughs] myself in that too. I find that also the more time we spend really focussed on what everybody else is saying or telling us…
Rachel: …or what everybody else wants us to do, or as society what we’re supposed to adhere to and the rules we’re supposed to follow, the more we obscure that inner voice…
Rachel: …and it feels like it’s really far away, or maybe, you know, we even…we start to think that maybe we don’t have it, you know, “I don’t have that intuition, I don’t know where to turn.” A question I got through social media that I found so, so beautiful because I feel like it’s so…prevalent for so many people, this idea and the pressure around finding your life purpose.
Rachel: And this starts so early, you know, it starts already before we’ve graduated college, high school, all of that, “I have to find my life purpose which is this one thing I’m supposed to do, and I’m supposed to be the best at it, and I’m supposed to make money doing it and it’s supposed to be that one thing, you know, sky opening up, angles walking to me…”
Rachel: For the thousands, you know, millions of people who don’t feel that way, do you have any advice around that, around the idea of purpose?
[30:07] Marie: Yes. So there’s a few layers to this. There’s many different ways to kind of crack into this conversation, I want to just offer a few. So one: the notion, I believe — and this is my point of view, my perspective, people can disagree and that’s totally wonderful — the notion that each of us have this solid, singular purpose is bullshit. It is the source of so much pain and navel-gazing and people just “oh, my God, I’m broken, I don’t know what my purpose is!” and go into workshops and spending thousands of dollars trying to find their purpose and crystals and you know…oh man, all the things. So here’s the deal: even though I found that moment of clarity with coaching, like that was a little bread crumb, right? I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur. I had a whole other side-career which we talk about in the book with dance and fitness, there’s all kinds of things I’m going to do in my life. My purpose is not singular in that there’s a great, edited down party line that I just trot out and like, “I’m Marie Forleo and this is my purpose on this Earth,” that’s bullshit. I’m constantly evolving, I’m constantly changing, and I think this notion that there’s one singular purpose that we have through every season and every stage of our life is really destructive. I think that it keeps people navel-gazing, self-focussed and suffering. Now, on the flip side: if you want to start to see how you can apply your special gifts in service to the world in a way that’s going to leave you fulfilled, in a way that’s going to lead you towards a great career, a great mission, starting a great business, you know whatever is your flavor, whatever fits for you of, again, for this stage and season, then we can talk about some external applications. For example, is there anything around your world, your community, your experience that either pisses you off or breaks your heart? Is there something occurring or something that happened in your own life that you’re like “my goodness, that was really difficult, and I want to help people not have the difficulty that I went through?” Or is there something so incredibly joyful, life-giving, just absolutely that brings you so much enthusiasm and happiness and sparks joy, to use a Marie Kondo term, that you’re like “oh my goodness, I have to share this with more people?” Does that make sense? I think those clues, when you start to ask those types of questions, and then ask yourself “how can this be helpful to others? How can I use this, or share this, to be of service to, again, my family, people in the community, a market if it’s a business, or the greater world at large, and you start engaging in sharing those things, that’s when it’s almost like your purpose begins to reveal itself. But again, not in some neat little party line that you’re going to be able to memorize and trot out when you meet someone, but more so in an active, engaged, real life way.
[33:11] Rachel: So it’s more like living, or feeling purposeful in your day-to-day…
Rachel: …versus the one thing I’m going to commit to forever, and that’s the thing that I do. And I think what people also miss is it’s so limiting to decide that one thing…
Rachel: …you know? What if coaching was the only thing you did, and it started and ended with that, you know, then we wouldn’t have this book now, there’s so many things that have expanded beyond that, so I think it’s…
Marie: Oh! A hundred percent! Now I just want to speak into that for moment. When I started trying to do that, Rachel, you know I quit my job, I was bartending and waiting tables which was great because I just, again, have a lot of energy and I don’t do well focussing on one thing non-stop, I need different forms of stimulation. And I remember when I was trying to build my coaching practice, part of what I was doing was of course applying all the things I was learning, the craft of coaching and helping people really ask the important, deep questions and then take action on them to see results, I was doing that for myself too, right? I had to walk my own talk. And one of the things I discovered was that I didn’t feel comfortable just calling myself a coach. That felt narrow and limiting. And the truth was, I had a huge passion around dance and fitness. I also loved marketing. I also loved business. I also loved the idea of speaking. I also loved the idea of philanthropy, like there were all these other things. And I remember writing in my journal at those times like “gosh, am I still broken? Why can’t I choose just one thing to be?” Because all the success books at the time were talking about niching down and being specific, you know, even as a coach are you a productivity coach or are you a relationship coach. Being broad was not smart from a business perspective. And a huge breakthrough came for me when I stopped trying to fit myself into conventional boxes and be one thing and have one clear society-approved answer when people said “what do you do for a living?” The biggest breakthrough came when I feel like I got such a gift from the career gods, when one day they planted this phrase in my mental theatre that said “Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur” and I remember I used to feel so much shame when people asked me what I did because it didn’t feel right to just say life coach or bartender, and I remember it just came to me and someone asked me what I did and I said “I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur.”
Marie: And the person I remember looked at me like “what the hell’s that?” But they were intrigued, and I said, “well, you know I have this coaching practice, I’m also starting to teach dance and fitness, I really love hiphop, I do bartending at night, I do…” and I started to be able to talk about all the different aspects of who I was. And when I gave myself that new definition — again, I made it up — I saw myself in a new context which started to change everything. It’s not a coincidence that that’s when I started getting a lot more coaching clients, my dance and fitness career started taking off, I started making more money, because I could never fit into a conventional box, and most, I bet you a lot of people listening don’t feel that either, right?
Marie: And so that’s the whole thing, we’re coming back to this idea of purpose: what if there’s not one purpose, what if your purpose is about connecting? Your purpose is about spreading joy, or creation, or healing, and there’s all these different ways that that will manifest throughout the course of your life.
[36:20] Rachel: So should we stop putting ourselves in those boxes, you think, as a whole?
Marie: I think so.
Rachel: Because I can really sense that I resonate with this so much, because when I started my own career, I was a yoga teacher…
Rachel: …that’s what I did.
Rachel: And then I fit in that little box, and then I also had all these ideas that came along with, “as a yoga teacher, I have to be X, Y, Z.” You know, “I have to…I definitely don’t drink any wine, I don’t play loud music, I’m very appropriate, I’m very zen all the time,” this idea of what a yoga teacher should be, “I shouldn’t talk about money, it’s a little shameful to connect the yoga with any kind of business, I should do this stuff for free,” I had all of these ideas that fit with that box…
Rachel: …but that didn’t fit at all with what I wanted to do, or who I was, and it was very limiting.
Rachel: And I’m just wondering if maybe it would open up our universe a little bit more, and for everyone listening too, to try to get rid of those boxes altogether.
[37:11] Marie: Oh, yeah. I mean, my biggest value in the world is freedom. And my business really started to take off…I remember I had those ancient ideas of what a businesswoman looked like, right, so I was trying to figure out how to build this coaching practice which again, I was so insecure about my age, I was just filled with self-doubt and fear that this wasn’t going to work out, that I made the worst decision, you know what I mean, to quit the stable job, and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, and I wasn’t making money, and all those things. And I remember when I first started trying to publish an online newsletter, you know, the idea I had in my head Rachel, which my version of, you know, was this successful businesswoman and she definitely had a corner office, you know, glass office, and she wore big shoulder pads, and she spoke very professionally and elegantly and no cuss words and it’s like “dude, I’m from New Jersey, I can’t even communicate that way. I’m no actress, I couldn’t do that if I tried.” And it was so stifling for me at first to try and live into my childhood idea of what a successful businesswoman looked like. And once I started to really allow myself the freedom to play, and to be all of me, and tell my coaching clients that “oh, I’m actually teaching a J.Lo hiphop workshop this weekend, do you want to come?” And tell them about bartending, or tell them about, you know what I mean, the different things I was doing as a Nike athlete…when I let all of me come to the business table, that’s when things took off. Not to mention what an energy drain it is on your physical body, on your mental health, when you’re trying to be something that you’re not. When you’re trying to hide who you really are from yourself and from the world. So, I think that there is so much freedom and there’s so much joy that comes, not to mention, as a side note, a business advantage, right? So when I started and when I began to teach and to speak there wasn’t a lot of people out there like me who were talking like Jersey Marie, right, saying “hey, I’m going to teach you really grounded wisdom, but I’m also going to do weird things like sketches and wear wigs, if anyone has every seen Marie TV, it’s really quirky and weird, which is real me. You know, with the book tour I remember my publishers asking me, saying like “what do we want to do to launch this thing?” and I said, “well, I have this idea. What if a Beyonce concert and a TED Talk had a baby and then threw a block party?”
Marie: And just last year, I actually produced and performed in a concert, a legit concert. I had Beyonce’s dancers, I had people build my sets who’ve done stuff for Kanye, and Demi Lovato and J.Lo. It was at the Hammerstein ballroom. It was sick, and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but that only came, and it was honestly, Rachel, the most creatively fulfilling thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it was so…
Rachel: It looked amazing.
Marie: Thank you.
Rachel: It was just like “who thought of this?” [laughs] Of course.
[40:04] Marie: Yeah, but that’s my point, we’re coming back to this idea — you asked about boxes — and I think none of us fit in neat little boxes, and the more we can let ourselves free from that, that more innovative we become, the more happy we become, the more joyful, which of course leads us to behave in different ways. We’re more kind, we’re more compassionate, we’re more understanding of people’s differences. So this bleeds over into every area of our life, and I think it’s the most healthy, positive thing we can do.
Rachel: Oh hell yes. Hell yes. I have goosebumps just listening, there’s so much truth in this. I think one of the most, or one of the pieces or parts of your book that I resonated with so much I think also relates to this, which is the limiting beliefs that we put on ourselves, such as saying “I am only a yoga teach so I can’t do this X, Y, Z, I can’t grow into this area,” or “I’m not good enough for this,” or…and we’ve been speaking on this podcast, on the Yoga Girl podcast, about limiting beliefs a lot over the past couple of months…
Marie: I found one recently, do you want to hear it?
[41:08] Marie: So I found a really big one for me. I had a limiting belief, cuz I love hunting these things down now. And by the way, for everyone listening, it’s like we all have them, it’s totally cool, it’s like we’ve absorbed these beliefs around, you know…from our teachers, and society, and our families, and no one’s trying to do us harm, it’s just like you do the best you can, right? So for me, one of my big ones was — I don’t know if anyone will resonate with this, and Rachel, I’m curious to hear with you — I had this limiting belief that I can’t let myself get too successful or I’ll ruin my relationship.
Marie: Like if I keep getting bigger and bigger, so I have, you know, I’m with my partner Josh, we’ve been together almost 17 years now, and it was a deep-seeded thing. It was like a woman-man kind of thing, like if “I really go for it, I am going to destroy this thing that I love.” And I’ve had, you know, tangos with this in the past, especially with Josh, where my workaholism, because I love my work, literally almost destroyed our relationship. [laughs]
Marie: So, there was some reality embedded in that belief, but I did some work on it, it was actually last year before I went book tour, because I said, you know, “we have such a strong relationship, I respect him so much, I love him so much, where is this belief coming from?” And I said “can I…can I look on the flip side of it? Is it possible that the more successful I get, the stronger my relationship comes? The better the partner I am. The more our love becomes this beautiful, all-encompassing force?” And I actually found proof for the opposite of that limiting belief. I actually saw that way back when we first got together, again, almost 17 years ago, that out relationship was actually fricken bumpy, and that the more successful I’ve become, the better partner I’ve become. And I can not tell you how transformative for me, rooting out that limiting belief, and seeing the opposite has been in my personal life.
[43:05] Rachel: This is so…life changing, because these beliefs that we live by, they really make or break our lives.
Rachel: I mean, we form our habits around them, we view the world from that standpoint…and have you found, do you feel some freedom around that now?
Marie: Oh, I do, it’s super fun, and I was able to just talk with Josh about it, and he was like “wow,” he’s like “I didn’t know you were holding onto that.” This is what’s so cool about looking at them, and I think what’s also awesome, and I will say this about the notion of everything is figureoutable, you know, sometimes in the personal development world or the self-development world, we have this idea that we need to kind of play Sherlock Holmes and find all the limiting beliefs that are holding us back. But I want to offer people a different time-saving alternate: if you adopt what I believe is the supremely powerful belief that everything is figureoutable, you don’t need to root out your limiting beliefs, because they’ll just show up. It’s like they pop up, right, like little weeds in your garden, you’re just like “oh!” just like mine did with “oh, if I get more successful I’m going to ruin my relationship with Josh.” It popped up, I didn’t have to go hunt it out. But I was like, “well, I also believe that everything is figureoutable, so let me figure this out, it’s the opposite, could that be true?” So I just wanted to share that, just in case anybody listening is like “oh shit, what are all my limiting beliefs and are they holding me back?” You don’t have to play Sherlock Holmes if you choose to go to the meta level and adopt everything is figureoutable, the moment you bump into one of yours, you’ll be able to figure it out.
[44:30] Rachel: Yeah, I think I’ve been in that sort of therapy field of “where are they? What are they?”
Rachel: “I gotta get them to the surface.” But one of mine, a really, really big on that I’ve been working with over the past year so much is the idea of “I am worthy because I succeed.” Or “I am worthy because I create, or because I perform.”
Rachel: And it’s been a really hidden one for me, because I love what I do, I love to create, I love being an entrepreneur, I love it, love it, love it, but then I also had that belief sort of driving me with the fear behind it that if I stop, or if I fail, or if I don’t create, if I don’t grow, then I’m not worthy.
Rachel: And I would love to hear your thoughts on that in terms of being so successful and continuing to find growth, working really hard, you know, working your butt off every day, how does that work in your life, the balance of that with taking care of yourself and also feeling worthy even if…
Marie: Oh sure, hundred percent. So, here, this is another really fun and rich conversation. I remember when I started as a life coach, part of why I got so enthusiastic about it, I’m one of those people who, you know…I find anything that is amazing, it could be like the best vegan pizza and I’d be like “oh my God, I have to shout out about it on a rooftop about this! How do we all not know about the best vegan pizza in the world?” And when I first started learning about all these personal development ideas, I was like “how are we not taught this in school? how come it’s taken me until my twenties or thirties to understand that this how we all operate?” So to answer your question, it comes back to another thing that again I’m just like “what? How are we not taught this?” We’re never taught how to define success for ourselves. And that is not a static definition. So for example, for me, success in my twenties looked like finding my place, like finding a place to contribute, finding a role, a number of roles where I could make money and make a difference. I also defined success at that point, and it was necessary, with getting out of debt. I had a lot of pain around money, and around scarcity. You know, my thirties looked really different, right? My definition of success changed. And so you were asking me about how do I really find that balance and that, you know…that limiting belief that you’ve been looking at in terms of worth and creation and if you slow down or stop, what does that mean? So for me, I’m always updating and revising what my next level of success looks like. And for me, I love this mantra — I live my life by mantras because there’s a lot going up in this head of mine — is “simplify to amplify.” “Simplify to amplify.” So, what are the few things that are really meaningful to me that I really want to focus on, and I want to just have space to play in the rest. So, for much of my thirties, I didn’t dance as much as I did in like my twenties, or you you know, kind of 29, 30, and I was so busy building the business, and just last year when I was going out with the book, I started going back and working with choreographers and getting into the studio again, and it’s like now, my definition of success isn’t just around money and business, it’s like my whole entire life. And really taking a look at my health and my vibrancy and my relationships. There is some great work, I don’t know if you or anyone, or you Rachel, has heard of the “blue zones,” Dan Butner?
[48:06] Marie: It’s a whole series of books, I would highly recommend them, we had him on Marie TV, it was a great interview, but the blue zones are these places around Planet Earth where people are the longest lived and the healthiest, the happiest, right? So it’s not just like, you know, they’re past 100 but they’re not just surviving, they’re actually thriving. And one of the biggest components of reaching an old age and being really happy and healthy about it, is your relationships, your social connections. And for me, I spend time cultivating that. I don’t have a huge ton, it’s not like I have like 30 friends and we all go on vacation together, it’s not that at all, I’m much more intimate than that. But the relationships that matter to me, it’s about taking time. And so I don’t know if I’m answering your question perfectly, but for me, it’s around the big point, the big takeaway, is defining success for yourself. And why that’s so challenging these days is because so many of us are spending so much time on social media and comparing ourselves to to others. And it’s really easy to get yourself taken off track, and start paying attention to vanity metrics like how many Instagram followers you have, or you know, how many views or how many subscribers, or how many fans or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then you start looking at what other people have and feeling like you’re not enough, feeling like you’re going to be left behind, like you’re going to become irrelevant, and it’s all wrapped up in comparison which is essentially creative kryptonite. Whereas if you take the other stance and you say “I’m going to define what success looks and feels like to me at this stage and season of my life” and you build your life and your days around that and you are aware of how toxic comparison is, that’s how, for me, I stay really grounded in what’s important to me, and I stay out of those comparison sinkholes which are fricken miserable, and how I make time and space for what really matters, both business-wise and also creatively and personally.
Rachel: So that’s something that really, really hit me just now is perhaps that limiting belief for me has been really strong this past year just because my definition of success has changed but I…
Rachel: …haven’t really defined it.
Rachel: You know? Because I’m a…how long can you say that you’re a new mom? But I have a…
Marie: Well you are! Because it’s your first time…
Rachel: …have an almost three years old. It’s the first time…
Marie: She’s beautiful!
Rachel: Yeah. And right before I, you know, before I had her, I had a very different idea of “here is what success means to me.”
Rachel: And now, of course, my life is totally different, so maybe I’m stuck to the old idea…
Marie: Well, I…
Rachel: …and that’s why this limiting belief is kind of rubbing up, you know…
Rachel: …against a lot other things in my life right now.
Marie: Here’s what I would invite you to do, and anyone listening, and I do this for myself, it’s really fun: so, I just did this, I do it every December, I do like a year in review. And we actually did a decade in review, we walked people through that on Marie TV. But I do a year end review and then I lean out into the next 12, 24, 36 months and I describe in great detail my ideal next few years. Like what are the projects I want to work on? You know Rachel, this year is probably the first year I’m doing this, but I’m taking pretty much a whole month off, and for someone who loves her work, and I work a lot, and it’s not a torture-some thing, I’m into it, but I’m like “whoa! I’ve never taken a whole month off in my whole damn life! Never!” And it’s really exciting, but my point is for you, I would so encourage you to write this down on paper, and consider yourself an artist; you have a blank canvas in front of you, define what success looks like to you in terms of your health, your fitness, your spirituality, your contribution, your financial life, what your home looks like, how much you guys are traveling or not, how much white space is in your calendar each day, how much flexibility you have, your time with your daughter…like allow yourself to just dream on that page and then honestly, it’s not written in stone. I do first drafts. I do first drafts just like you do first drafts in a book, right? Your first draft isn’t want goes on the final printed page; try it on like a dress. Try it on like a pair of great yoga pants. If it doesn’t fit perfectly, go back in and revise it. And get that thing so it’s so crystal clear, and here’s what’s valuable about this exercise, by the way: you can share it with your husband. You can share it with your team. You can share the parts of it that are appropriate with your daughter, so that you are being the leader in your life, and you’re intentionally living into your future. Now of course, there’s the great notion, right, that kind of like we make plans and we don’t always get to stick there. But here’s what’s great: that becomes a compass through which you can make decisions, so if new opportunities come up or unexpected challenges, you can go back to that ideal vision, make decisions, and revisions based on what is most true in your heart, not an outdated version of what success looked like when you were first beginning your career.
Rachel: Amen! [laughs] To all of this. I’m just smiling right now listening to you speak. I wish I had another hour with you, I wish we could have this conversation over tea maybe one day we will.
Marie: Yes, we will! Thank you for allowing me to talk so much, I’m so sorry if it feels like I was just going off, I just am so thrilled to be with you.
Rachel: Oh, no, absolutely, I’m so, so, so inspired. For everyone listening, you can go to marieforleo.com for everything Marie, watch Marie TV, listen to the podcast. You also have B School, your business school that I know thousands of people are raving, raving about. So many wonderful things to find in the world of Marie. And I want to thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today, I so appreciate you and all the work you’re doing in this world.
Marie: Right back at you beautiful. Thank you for being the leader that you are and such a beautiful force for good, I’m…I just adore you.
Rachel: Thank you. Thank you so much! This was so wonderful!
[End of Episode]