Nothing in life is that complicated if you just roll up your sleeves, you get in there and you do it. Everything is Figureoutable.
Hey, it's Tony Howell. I want to welcome you to Season Two of Conversations with Changemakers. This is our opportunity to seek practical ways that we as artists can use our gifts to change the world. I am so excited today to welcome Marie Forleo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of her newest book, Everything is Figureoutable.
She was named by Oprah as, "A thought leader for the next generation." And I will tell you, she is a modern day Pioneer Woman. She literally paved the way for artists and creative entrepreneurs around the world to create a business and life they love.
She's been featured by Apple, The Today Show, People Magazine and more. But beyond two decades of relentlessly consistent high quality work, what I love most about Marie is that she leads with brains, heart, and courage.
In this episode, you'll hear a universal, limitless, three word philosophy she guarantees will change your life, how to move from crying for help to God, or to your dad, to creating that business, life, or book you love.
And get some CEO training from this total Boss Babe, for actors, writers, dancers, and other creative professionals! I am so excited to share this conversation with you. Enjoy!
Marie Forleo! That is my best Oprah voice. Thank you so much for being here on the podcast.
Oh Tony, thank you so much for having me. It's a true pleasure.
So I want to start by congratulating you on your #1 New York Times best-selling book, Everything is Figureoutable. And I also know that it reached the top of the Apple charts and I read it. It's incredible. I've been following you; I've been studying with you for years. And I got to tell the person listening, that this is like the MF Bible. I'm going to say that slower. It's the MF Bible. So Marie, can you give us the cliff notes on your three word philosophy?
Yes, thank you so much, by the way. Not just for the congratulations, but also for being with me for so many years. And yes, I'm really proud of this book. And the reason I'm proud of it is because when people don't just read the book, but actually do it, I guarantee it will change their life. I know that might sound hyperbolic, but it's not. It is an absolute guarantee. You can come find me on social media. But essentially, Everything is Figureoutable is about how one simple belief can help you change your life and change the world.
Tony, I can give the short version of the origin story, because I think it really helps people understand how universal and limitless it really is; it can apply to anything. So this idea came from my mom who is an incredible firecracker of a human being. She's in her seventies. Thank goodness she's still with us. She's just this interesting character. She's about five foot, three inches. She's got the tenacity of a bulldog. She kind of looks like June Cleaver and she curses like a truck driver.
And she grew up in the projects of Newark, New Jersey and really learned by necessity how to stretch a dollar bill around the block like five times. When I was a little girl growing up in New Jersey, one of my favorite memories was sitting around the kitchen table on Sundays, cutting out coupons because she loved teaching us all the different ways that we could save money. But she also taught me about the fact that brands would send you these cool free things, recipes, or cooking utensils or whatever, if you saved up what was known as ‘proofs of purchase’.
One of my mom's most prized possessions was this tiny little AM/FM transistor radio that she got from Tropicana orange juice for free. So this thing looked exactly like an orange. It was shaped like an orange, it was orange. It had a red and white straw sticking out of the side - that was the antenna. And my mom is just one of those humans who's constantly busy. At Thanksgiving she never actually has a seat. She's just always running around, doing more stuff. That's my mom. So as a little girl, I knew the way that I could find my mom somewhere around the house or somewhere around the yard was listening for the sound of that tinny little radio.
So Tony, one day I was coming home from school and I heard the radio playing off in the distance and I thought, “Okay I know that sound.” I got close to my house and I realized the sound was actually coming up from above, which was a strange orientation. And I looked up and I saw my mom perched precariously on the roof of our two story house with her little orange radio, next to her bum. I yelled up and I was like, “Mom, are you okay? What are you doing up there?” And my mom yelled down. She said, “Ree, I'm fine. The roof had a leak. I called the roofer and he said it would be at least 500 bucks. I said, screw that. I'm doing it myself.”
So another day I come home from school and I hear that little radio playing in the back of the house. And this time I tiptoe back there and it turns out my mom's in the bathroom and I push open the door and there's like a pipe sticking out of the wall. There are dust particles in my air. It looked like a bomb went off. I asked my mom, ”What are you doing in here?!” The pipes are exposed. It was insane. And she said, “Oh, it's no big deal. There were some tiles that had cracks in it and I didn't want the bathroom to get moldy. So I'm re-tiling the entire bathroom.”
Tony, you got to get that this is the 1980’s. My mom is high school educated. This is a pre-YouTube, pre-Google kind of world. She couldn't just look up how to do any of those things. So one day I was coming home from school in the fall and it was later than normal and it was dark out and it was already kind of creepy. I approached my house and it was completely dark and silent. And those are two, not good signs if you're from an Italian-American home. Never good things when there's no sound and there's no light.
So I go inside, and I was honestly a little afraid of what I might find. I was like, “where is my mom, where is the sound of the radio?” Anyway, I heard some little clicks and clacks coming from the kitchen. I followed that sound and I saw my mom hunched over the kitchen table, which looked like an operating room. She had electrical tape and screwdrivers all over the place. And then spread out in about a dozen pieces was a completely dismantled Tropicana orange radio. I was like, “Mom, are you okay? This is your favorite thing. What happened, is it broken?” And she said, “Ree, it's no problem, it's fine. The antenna was off. The dial wasn't working so I'm fixing it.”
I stood there watching her work her magic. And I finally thought to ask the question I should have always asked, which was, “Mom, how do you know how to do so many different things that you've never done before, but nobody's showing you how to do it?” And she put down her screwdriver and she cocked her head to the side and she said, “Ree, it's no big deal.” She's said, “Nothing in life is that complicated if you just roll up your sleeves, you get in there and you do it. Everything is figureoutable.” And Tony, from that moment on that little three word phrase, it was like a seed planted in my soul.
And it has been the single most powerful driving force in my life ever since. I mean, from high school, helping me get out of a physically abusive and toxic relationship, to getting the classes that I needed to get into in college and getting these rare work study positions to help even pay for school. After school, getting every job I've ever had from working on Wall Street, to working in magazines, to having the audacity to start my business at 23, to becoming a Nike Elite athlete and master trainer to every thing that I have done. Saving my relationship from the brink of disaster. From getting out of debt.
I mean, I use it every single day, all the way up until now. So this idea is really simple, but it's also really powerful, because most people don't recognize just how fundamentally… I would say they're almost transformational of what we believe.
Our beliefs that we hold inside about who we are, what we're capable of, and what's possible in the world. And this is a powerful belief that once you adopt it for yourself, it can literally make you unstoppable. Not unstoppable in the sense that everything's going to go your way, because that's reality - that doesn't happen for all of us.
And not unstoppable in the sense that you'll never face defeat or suffer rejection or have really hard days, or find yourself in difficult situations because we all do. But unstoppable really in the most profound sense, meaning that nothing, there's no thing, no situation, no fear, no hardship that will ever have the power to hold you back again.
Beautiful. I know there may be someone listening who is skeptical, and I know that you outline so much of this in the book. But what I would love to highlight is this idea, can we dive into excuses just a little bit? Can you explain those two, four letter words?
Oh yes. And, and even before that, I do want to set some context for the skepticism because that's healthy. It means that we're thinking. There are three rules really to the figureoutable philosophy that help give us a mental container. I want to walk you through those fast because they are really good and they lead right up into excuses.
Rule #1: All problems or dreams are figureoutable.
Rule #2: If a problem isn't figureoutable, it isn't really a problem, it's a fact of life or law of nature, like death, gravity, or taxes.
Rule #3: You may not care enough to solve a particular problem or reach a particular dream and that's okay. Find something that you do care deeply about and go back to rule number one.
So that kind of sets a little bit of a framework that allows us to go, oh, this works only if I'm willing to work. If it's something that I really care about.
It kind of keeps us out of fantastical thinking. So now onto what you were asking about which is if we start to embrace this notion that everything is figureoutable - which is both exciting and scary - then we have to face, well, what's holding us back. And in the 20 plus years of my career, I've found that the thing that can hold most of us back from figuring out the thing we most want to figure out are our excuses. Now all of us make excuses from time to time. I make excuses. You make excuses. Every single person listening makes excuses from time to time, [and that] does not make us bad. We should not feel shameful about it. It's just a reality. However, if you want a particular outcome, if you want to see a particular result in your life or make a particular change, you have got to start living what I call an excuse free life.
You've got to be willing to hunt down those excuses wherever they are and just annihilate them. And the best way that I've found for us humans to start living an excuse free life is to inspect on a closer level, our language, and specifically two tiny words that we tend to use all the time. And they really make the difference between us lying to ourselves and sitting in a seat of truth and reality. And those two words are can't versus won't. I know in my own life, there have been many times where I've said, “Oh, I can't work on that project. I just don't have the time.” Or, “I can't get myself stronger physically because I have no time to get to the gym and work out”, or “I can't get that particular house because I can't afford it.”
I think everyone listening has said some version of that to themselves in their own story and context, whether in their own minds or in conversation. But here's the truth, Tony, 99.9% of the time, not a hundred, but 99.9% of the time when we human beings say we can't, what we really mean is we won't. Can't is usually a euphemism for won't. What does “won't” mean? Won't means that we're not willing to, we don't really want to, we don't want to work that hard. We don't want to make the sacrifice. We don't want to get creative or resourceful or be inconvenienced or change around our other priorities or really do the thing that we tell ourselves that we "can't” do.
I know some people might say, you don't know my life. I really can't - but I would invite listeners to really take a look and inspect your own past and see if there wasn't some time where initially you thought, “Oh, I don't have the time for that.” Or,” I don't have the money to do that.” Or, “That wouldn't be possible for me to attend that particular event or go to that place.” And then all of a sudden something appeared in your consciousness that made it super exciting, either it was a must go to event or in like in my case, I remember wanting to go on a particular date. So that gave me motivation to get everything done. There's something that kind of up that helps you bust through your well worn excuses. And all of a sudden you make it happen. Whether you find the money, you make the time, you move heaven and earth to go get that thing, whatever it is. Tony, do you have an example of that in your life?
Moving to Bali?
There you go. I'm sure earlier you probably like, “Oh, I could never do that! I couldn't figure out the logistics or make enough money or whatever. I can't…” finish up those sentences.
One of the things that I love about you, that I think is super important to put neon lights around, is that you always work to turn “insights into action” and every single chapter has applicable questions or exercises for people to embody this philosophy.
But the other brilliant thing that you did Marie, is that you've peppered in throughout the book, success stories from this philosophy. And I think that your life is also an example of this philosophy. So can you give us maybe one of your favorite stories from within those pages?
Yes, absolutely. And even right before that, really quickly, thank you for highlighting the “insight to action” challenges because here's the deal: I don't pretend to have all the answers in life. I don't think any human does, but what I believe deep in my bones is that every single person is capable of finding or creating their own. So those “insight to action” challenges are designed to unlock your highest wisdom, all of the incredible genius and intelligence that you have locked inside. When you work yourself through those questions and answers, all of your own personal answers and your own prescription just leaps to life on the page and you'll have everything you need.
But now onto one of my favorite questions, it actually kind of circles back to this idea of, is everything really figureoutable? I remember Tony, a friend of mine who I've known for probably about 15 years. He respects me in my work, but he sent me this text, and he said, “Marie, congratulations on your book. It's such a great title, but come on now, is everything really figureoutable, are you saying really difficult things? What about addiction or what about a life threatening or life ending diagnosis? How can you possibly say that those things are figureoutable?”
I said, “Well, let me tell you a story about a woman named Jen.” I first shared this idea outside of my own audience back in 2016. Oprah had invited me onto her stage, she was holding an event called SuperSoul Sessions. And the title of my talk was called Everything Is Figureoutable. So that was my first time road testing this idea beyond my own folks. And once that talk was done, Oprah turned it into a podcast. It got a much wider distribution than I had ever imagined it would. I started receiving letters from people who didn't know me, who hadn't worked with me. They only heard that talk.
One woman named Jen wrote to me and she said, “Marie, thank you so much for your Oprah talk. It was fantastic. This is actually an idea that my mom has been trying to teach me my whole life. And in fact, I sat down and we listened to it together and we loved it, but then everything changed. My beautiful mom 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 stepped back and looked more deeply at the situation, here's what I discovered: I could figure out how to get foods that my mom could actually tolerate. I could figure out how to find medical equipment for my mom who lived in a rural area, and this is the thing: I could figure out how to make sure that my mom had the nursing care that she needed so that she could spend her last days. And in fact, her last five weeks on this planet were spent exactly where she wanted to be, which was in her own home.”
So Jen finished up and said, “Thank you so much for sharing this simple idea that made such a huge difference to two women living on the other side of the world.” She was from New Zealand. She said, “I can honestly say without a doubt that yes, everything really is figureoutable.”
And if Jen could use this philosophy to find strength and innovation and to find a sense of peace and connection in one of the most difficult situations in her entire life, I think this phrase can help any of us.
I know that Everything is Figureoutable is your second book. And a lot of my listeners, clients, and readers want to put their own books out in the world. So I want to highlight your first book called Make Every Man Want You. I do want to give the full title, "How To Be So Irresistible You'll Barely Keep From Dating Yourself."
Marie, I know that you wrote that first as an e-book and then you initially took it off the shelf, self-published, and then later you got it picked up by McGraw Hill and now it's available in 16 languages.
So for the listener who wants to put out their first book and bouncing off this mantra, that “everything is figureoutable,” what's your advice to her?
Well, I would say one is to really think through who your ideal reader is: who is this book for? Why are you writing this book? Where does it fit into your career portfolio?
One of the things I always like to tell first time authors is, do not expect to get rich off a book. A book is often a big business card. So you really have to believe in the message. You really have to believe in the difference that you want to make with that particular book.
And then I'd say from a practical standpoint, there's a couple things to keep in mind. One, is that it's really important to build your platform, meaning to build your audience. So if there are folks that you engage with and you communicate with them through email. If you have folks that you engage with through social media, the more that you can continue to nurture and build your audience alongside writing the best book that you can possibly write. Those two things I think are really, really essential.
And I think consistently coming back to the why. What is the why behind why you want to write this book? I think that's important, Tony. And the reason that's important is because it's incredibly hard work. There's not a lot of financial ROI, at least in the beginning. Now that doesn't mean it's not possible. I mean, look at J.K. Rowling. She's the first female billionaire and there are so many others. Stephen King. There are lots of other examples of creative humans that have done well financially, regardless of what you think of who they are or their work or whatever.
We have examples of people who have knocked it out of the park with their books. But I think I would be remiss to say, with your first book, that's probably not going to happen. That's like the exception, not the rule. So really ask yourself why you want to write the book, get super clear on who your ideal reader is. The more focused it can be, the better, and then continue to build your platform along with crafting the best book you possibly can.
Thank you for that, Marie, you know that I love you. What I want to highlight here for a moment for the reader, is if anyone's falling into comparison, I want to share a little bit about your journey. One of the things that you teach is to create a business and life you love and I'm living it right now.
Yes you are. Congratulations! My goodness.
Thank you. So can you give us your full career from graduating as valedictorian to some of the crises along the way to where you are now?
Oh yeah. I mean, so first of all, I've been doing this for 20 years, so a lot of people are like, “Where did Marie come from? She came overnight!” No, actually not. I've been doing this for a really long time.
So when I graduated from school my first gig was on Wall Street on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. I'm a human who has a lot of energy. And when I was an undergrad, I just couldn't imagine sitting in a cubicle at a desk all day, that felt like death to me. So the notion of Wall Street was really exciting, but here's the deal, Tony. Once I got there, I was super grateful to have a job. I'm the first in my family to go to college, so having a job on Wall Street was like, whoa, this is amazing! I have healthcare. I have a steady paycheck, but within about six months, I realized that was not the place for me.
I mean while the folks I work with, I believe they were good humans, but it was quite a sexist environment. It was like 99.9% men. The culture was such where, you go to work, the bell rings at 4 o'clock, you hit strip clubs. There are people doing tons of coke. And then you repeat that cycle over and over.
This is not my life. This is not my jam. This ain't my scene. I need something different. I remember just feeling so confused because I knew I was meant for more. I knew I was meant to do something. I wanted to do something where I could make a difference to people in a positive way.
I didn't know what that looked like or what that could be. All I knew was that I hated my job where I was. I remember one day actually feeling quite physically ill on the floor of the exchange. I heard this little voice inside going, “This isn't you, this isn't it. You need to do something else.” But I kept trying to push it down because I was so scared because I didn't have another answer. One day I was having basically a panic attack on the floor and I told my boss at the time I said, “Hey, I need to go out and grab some coffee.” And I made a beeline to the nearest church. I was raised Catholic and I had just gone to Seton Hall University, which is like a Catholic University. So in a crisis I'm always trained to look up and just ask for some guidance.
I remember the first clue I got was to call my dad. I took out my flip phone - because it was the late nineties - and I called my dad and I was like crying the ugly cry because I felt so guilty. I didn't want to be a shame to my family for quitting a perfectly good job with not having any backup plan. And I knew they weren't going to take care of me. I had to take care of myself. My dad really gave me a piece of life changing advice. When he broke in, after I stopped crying, he said, “Great. Calm down, you've been working since you were nine years old. I'm so not worried about you. Do whatever you have to do to keep a roof over your head. But look, you're going to be working for the next 40 to 50 years.”
“If you can't stand this job as much as it's making you sick right now, you have got to leave and find something that you love, keep searching and searching until you find something that you're so passionate about that’s so engaging. [A job] That's really fun for you because then you are never going to feel like you work a day in your life. I know it might sound a little cliché, but it's freaking true.”
And that was the permission slip that I needed to really figure out who I was and how I can make a difference in this world. The only clue I had really was the fact that I was very creative and I also loved business. The first thought that came to my mind, I was like, well maybe magazine publishing would be a good industry for me because there's both, the advertising side - the business side - and there's also the editorial, the creative.
I landed myself a job as an ad assistant with Gourmet Magazine, which is great, because I'm a girl who loves food and I had my desk right next to the test kitchen. So I used to get snacks all the time and that was awesome. But Tony, it was six months into that job and those same little voices inside of me came back, “Marie, this isn't you. This isn't what you're meant to do. This isn't who you're meant to be. You got to go find something else.” I am starting to feel panicked because, how was I the valedictorian of my class? I have some level of intelligence. I'm a really hard worker, but I keep failing at being employed. I can't stand these jobs and I didn't know what else to do.
Then I stepped back and thought, well maybe I'm still too heavily involved in numbers. Wall Street was all numbers. Being on the ad sales side of a magazine, that's a lot of numbers. So I said, maybe I should go on my more creative side. Maybe I should get a gig in the editorial department of a different magazine. So I went to HR, put in my request and waited a few months. And eventually they placed me over at Mademoiselle and I was a fashion assistant in the editorial side of the magazine. I was like, “Okay, this has got to be it. I'm working with designers, going to shows, helping with layouts. It's all really creative. This is exciting. This is fun.”
And for the first few months it was, but then Tony, those voices came back. Those little voices, very haunting. And at this point, I felt like I was broken. I really did. I thought I might have some type of cognitive disorder or attention disorder, which actually I do. I have ADHD, but I just couldn't figure it out. I thought, am I just like a commitment phobe? Am I just a loser? I have commitment issues. What's going on here? Thankfully, one day when I was at Mademoiselle, I was on the internet and I stumbled across this article about a "new profession" at the time. Again, remember this is the late nineties and it was all about coaching, about this new world of life coaching and business coaching. And this was before anyone had ever heard of it.
And when I read that article, Tony, something in me lit up like a Christmas tree. It was as though the clouds parted and angels came out and they were singing right into my heart. But here's the deal. I was like 23 years old. So the logical part of my mind thought, are you crazy? This is nuts. Who would ever hire a 23 year old life coach? You're in debt. You can't seem to hold a job down. This is absolutely the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Don't do this. This is awful. You're going to be the laughing stack of your family. And yet the deeper part of me was so excited about it. Something in my soul lit up, even though it didn't make sense.
I got a fateful call from the HR department. They had a promotion for me. It was at Vogue. So there was my fork in the road. Do I stay on the safe corporate path, take this promotion, which was more money, even more prestige, keep the healthcare, have a respectable career or quit and try and figure out how to do this weird coaching thing that no one had ever heard of, that I was even skeptical of? But that just "felt right." So I quit my job at the magazines. I did not accept the promotion. I went back to doing what I did to put myself through college, which was bartending and waiting tables. I started my coaching business that day. And that was 20 years ago.
That's beautiful. We got to hear some singing. So now I want to highlight some dancing if we can. One of the things that I love about you, is at the age of - fill in the blank for me:
25. You decided, “I want to be a dancer.” And can you talk about going to BDC?
Yes. 100%. So just for some context, when I started in my coaching practice, I was absolutely committed because I was so insecure about my age. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. So my commitment was to be the best coach that I could possibly be. I worked with people for free and I was so committed to doing the work myself. So all of the work that I was getting, and I had signed up for this year long coach training program, just to fill in that blank. So all of the work that I was doing for my training program, I would actually apply that to myself. And over the next three years of starting to build this coaching practice and doing all this personal development work, I was like, oh my goodness, I don't just want to be a coach.
I have this other dream. I'd always loved to dance. I'd always loved music, but I'd never taken a dance class in my life Tony. The most I had done was make up little dances with my best friends and do choreography in my bedroom. That was the extent of my training. So at 25, which I'm sure most of your listeners, of course know this, it's a little odd to start professionally dancing at 25. Most people are getting trained when they're like three or six. And by the time they're in their teens, they're semi-professional and most of them are going on tour by the time they're 18, 19 or 21 or 22. So this notion of beginning dance as a 25 year old, first of all was so mortifying. But it was also really real. And I did something…I write about it in the book actually.
Well, actually let's talk about the first BDC class. So essentially, I had taken a few classes at Crunch Fitness because that's all I could afford to do with the time. And I still have my membership and I love taking hiphop classes.
I was like, “Oh my goodness! This is the coolest thing ever.” I was having so much fun. I thought, “Well, if I really want to give this a go, I should go where the pros go, which is Broadway Dance Center (BDC) in New York City.”
I was terrified, I didn't know what to do, but I had to go for it because this idea was just so utterly compelling to me. I remember showing up at BDC, I had the dorkiest outfit on. I had no idea about dance culture, or how to look cool.
I remember signing up to class and seeing the dance class that was happening before the one I signed up for, which was absolutely beginner class. All the people inside were at least 10 years younger than me. They were all bad asses. They were so talented. They moved so fast. So precisely, so gorgeous. I remember the next class was my absolute beginner class. I walked in and I wanted to run out immediately. People were stretching on the floor. They clearly knew what they were doing. I slinged to the back, trying to be inconspicuous and not have anyone see me. So I was actually standing and the teacher walked in and she didn't look at anyone, she didn't acknowledge anyone. There was no, hello, welcome. She just walked right over to the stereo and she hit the volume button. She hit the music and instantly everyone started stretching in sync and I was still standing up and I had to sit down and get into the warm up.
I will tell you this, Tony I was so afraid to take that class because I was terrified that I would just have two left feet. I would bump into everyone and invade their space and get kicked out of class. But the moment I sat down and started stretching and that bass beat started thumping, I literally began to weep. I was crying because it felt so good and so right. Even though I didn't know what the hell was going on and thank God I have long hair, so I could cover my ugly cry. So no one would see and go, “What is this freak doing in the back?” It was such a moment for me because I felt like my body was saying, “Yes, you're finally listening, you're finally listening.”
That was actually the beginning of a fantastic adventure where I wound up training as much as I could, but eventually became a Nike Elite dance athlete, a master trainer, and did four fitness videos and traveled around the world with Nike and some other companies teaching dance and fitness for years. And it was amazing.
So let's just paint that picture again. You went from Wall Street to magazines, to then Nike and teaching dance for MTV and Self magazine. And then you fast forward and you start B-School and now because of B-School, you've coached over 55,000 people from 171 countries and 600 different industries.
I want to rewind to the beginning of this and let the listener know that your partner is an actor and a business owner. So I know a lot of my listeners are Broadway performers or actors in LA, and they may feel like they need to focus 110% on their career and not do anything extra on the side.
So can you just start this conversation by comparing what you've learned about traditional business compared to what you see about creative industries, such as acting, writing, visual arts, etcetera?
Oh, absolutely. Well, first of all, I feel like we're in such a new time right now. It's very different than it was even just 5 or 10 years ago. If we're looking at the world of performers and writers, I honestly believe in my heart, Tony, that anyone who considers themselves an artist in any art form needs to learn more about business. They need to be the CEO of their own brand because I've watched Josh, my partner, we've been together almost 17 years now. He's an actor. He's been acting for 30 years, but he also has his own business teaching and acting, a whole kind of approach to acting that he's created over those 30 years. I've just watched because I'm privy to these inside conversations and a lot of our friends who are in the industry. I've just seen where folks used to have a certain kind of career. It's like, you can depend on your agents. You can depend on all these different things, how people are getting squeezed and they're saying to them, “Nope, we're not going to pay for that anymore.”
“Nope, these rates are going down, this is going down, we don't have these budgets.” Josh and I often talk about it. I'm so proud of him for having that other piece of his career/business, that's completely within his control. I think if we start to look at the larger landscape in terms of the creative industry and entertainment, if you actually look, a lot of the people who seem to act also write and become the CEO of their own career. So they're not just waiting for the casting agents to hire them. They're not just waiting for someone to pop a role on their desk. They're creating roles.
Josh and his son actually. So I have a 25 year old stepson. They wrote something together. They wrote a whole television show together and they sold it to Sony. I say that because I'm one of the biggest champions in my own household, for Josh and for any of our friends who are in the industry, like, no, write your own material, do something. If there's another kind of side business that you want to create as well, absolutely do it. Whatever you think about her as a human being, if you think about Gwyneth Paltrow or even if you look outside of entertainment, per se, Tony, and you start to look at some athletes as well, you'll notice a lot of them are also becoming entrepreneurs. Why? Because the game has changed.
And they know if it's no longer about relying on the old structures to ensure your success both creatively and financially. I think that most of the time people who have an incredible arts education - they're performers, they're actors, they're writers, they're singers, they're on Broadway. They don't necessarily have training when it comes to thinking about themselves as a business, when it comes to marketing themselves, positioning themselves, or even again, having a side expression that may or may not have to do with their performance abilities.
I wish you could see my face because I am nodding my head. So I want to say that B-School is the gold standard in business coaching programs, and it opens once a year. I'll just share my own personal story. I'm a three year alumni of the program. And if you have questions, you can DM me. But for me, I window shopped Marie for three years before I finally said yes, and it paid off instantly. And it's the best investment I've ever made in myself and in my company.
You're so welcome. And I want to hear more about that. I want to note for everyone listening, I think one of my favorite parts about our community, Tony, and I'd love to hear if you share this, we had so many creatives in there. People who are artists, Broadway performers, actors, singers, every stripe, fine artist, visual artists, you name it. But also even if people don't consider themselves "an artist or a creative or a performer", they are incredibly creative. They're the people doing the things on the side.
I just think that it's important. You've already highlighted it, but I want to maybe dive a little bit deeper. So for the listener who is wondering how B-School could help them with their personal brand, they're not ready to start a coaching practice. They really want to go full-tilt-boogie-woogie on acting or singing. Can you share maybe one or two insights from your career or within that program for what some might call self-promotion or selling themselves marketing?
Well, I'll talk about this because she talked about this when she was on the show, Bryce Dallas Howard. Do you know Bryce? So she's a B-School alum, and she signed up for the program, not because she wanted to start some business on the side, but because she just felt for herself that she wasn't taking full ownership of her career. If that makes any kind of sense. There were things that she wanted to step into, like to really own herself as a director, to own herself and what she could contribute to the industry in just a new level. And she just wasn't feeling how the pieces would fit together for her. It was just feeling like a fog. So she took B-School and came out the other side, just thinking and demanding more of herself and showing up in rooms differently. Do you know what I mean?
That's exactly right. And going “no”. She's teaching this incredible program at NYU right now. So in terms of how the principles and the content and the community apply to performers, when it applies to your ability to promote yourself. I think it's really understanding that you are a brand and a business and understanding how to advocate for yourself in some of these big rooms. Being able to say, “This is the value that I bring to the table.” Being able to contribute more ideas, whether that's creative ideas, if that's relevant or looking at ways to help make the production, the project itself more successful from a marketing standpoint. You're showing up with ideas about how to spread the word, or offering.”
Let's look at it from this angle. You’re even taking care to develop your fan base, to engage your audience. So they actually care about the projects that you’re engaged in. There are so many creative ways to use the ideas, the principles, the strategies that we teach in B-School for your career; it's not going to be cookie cutter. Because nothing ever is. And I don't think those things work, by the way. But everything that we teach can be used by a performer to take yourself to that next level, to start seeing yourself as the star that you really are, but not just doing it internally, being able to speak the message and show up that way externally as well.
Amen. Package that product. So there might be someone who's now skeptical about this, who says, “Okay, Marie, that's fine. But I have a nine year old, and I am running around doing too many things. I just don't have the time to sign up for this.” So what I want to hear is how do you, Marie M.F. Forleo, take care of Marie Forleo to make it all happen. How can they figure this out to make it happen?
A hundred percent. I'll answer that on two levels:
First, one of my favorite stories is from a woman named Michelle who took B-School. She had 6 kids under the age of 16 when she did B-School. She started off with a hobby and within, I think it was two years, her business - that again, started off as a hobby and wasn't making her any money - was generating over $200,000 a year, when she had 6 kids under 16. And she's always the first one to say, look, if I could do it with those kinds of constraints, anybody can do it. We have a lot of stories like that. We have a lot of parents, single parents. We have a lot of people with extremely high levels of responsibility in terms of their home lives. One of the best things about B-School is once you become a B-Schooler, you are a B-Schooler for life.
So it's not like you pay for this. And then all of a sudden we kick you out. You can take the program on your own time, you can come back and take it every single year for free. So we've got your back. So there's no time limit, all that good stuff. So that's that perspective. But for me, how I personally take care of myself, I'll tell you Tony, my secret to fitting it all in is that I don't. Here's what I mean by that. I am very, very clear for myself at this stage and season of my life. What's important and what's not, I have no interest in being everywhere and doing everything and running myself ragged. My health and my happiness are so important to me because when I take care of me, I'm clear Tony, that I am my most important asset in my business and in my life.
So if I take really good care of me, I have so much more to give to my family. I have so much more to give to my team. I have so much more to give to my students and to my audience. So I'm just hyper conscious of not letting bullshit into my life. That's in the form of scrolling emails, social media, drama saying yes to things that I really have no interest in. Allowing myself to indulge in things that overwhelm or guilt or feeling bad. It's “no, honey, I ain't got no time for any of that.” This life is way too short. There are things that I enjoy and there are things that are important to me. And so I'm constantly just pruning and keeping an aware, watchful eye to not try and do it all, or try and be superwoman. I just try and do what's most important to me so I ignore the rest.
Thank you for taking such good care of yourself and then subsequently millions of others. Next question comes up a lot in my audience. So I want to ask you as the public figure that you are and this idea of self care. How do you balance personal and professional or what is private and what goes public on the internet?
Yeah. So for me, if I'm excited about something or I feel like there's something happening in my own life that I find valuable, I'm learning it or it's a wonderful exploration and it has to just do with me, I'm happy to share it. If there's ever something happening in my relationship or an experience that has happened with either someone on my team or with Josh or someone I'm close to, and I want to talk about it, I always ask for their permission. Same thing goes, if I'm out and about with Josh or I'm out and about with any friends and I want to take a picture, I actually ask people are they okay with it? And I think on a deeper level, I just don't feel compelled to constantly have my phone out 24/7.
I've been around people and I honor everyone else's tastes and everyone else's desires. For some people, them being on their phone 24/7 and sharing everything about their life, that feels really good to them. It just doesn't feel good to me. Honestly, it's a lot of time. So I have good instincts, I would say. And I just don't think that sharing, like oversharing, I don't think it's brave necessarily to put your entire life out there. And I don't think it's brave to tell other people's stories that you don't have permission to tell.
Let's look at the wisdom that you've garnered now and look back and speak to Marie who's just graduated from Seton College. And here's the fun surprise, Marie, if you're open to it. What would you say to that young valedictorian, but can you go Jersey Marie on her and let her have it?
Oh my God. I would say, “Girl, first of all, you’ve got great hair! You need to have so much fun. Stop worrying about what the hell to call yourself and just do the Goddamn work. Do the work, have the fun. Dance as much as humanly possible. Don't wait until you're 25. Start at least at 23. Just go out there and do it and trust it's all going to turn out perfectly.”
Amazing. That's gold. Looking forward, Marie, with the crazy world that we live in, and I might get emotional, because I'm so lost in what we can do. And this podcast is one initiative of just talking to changemakers of how we can use our gifts to make a difference.
So you are a living embodiment of that: consciously using your special gifts to make change in the world. But my question for you is what change would you like to see in the world today? If you could wave your magic wand and make that happen, what would you like to see?
There's a few actually. One is just straight up kindness, kindness, kindness, kindness. I feel if people stayed connected to their hearts and understood that everyone has a battle, everyone has a struggle, and to strive to step into other people's shoes, to see where they're coming from before you judge them, even people who you disagree with vehemently, I think that would make our world such a better place.
Two is ending corruption. It's really two things actually, corruption and inequality. The income inequality in our world is absolutely heartbreaking and it's continuing to grow. And it stems from really bad public policy. Horrible public policy that was put into place 10, 20 years ago that’s coupled with corruption. And I'll just say that in the US where I live, it is just horrible and it's not a right thing or a left thing.
It has nothing to do [with political party] because there's guilt on all sides. But I think rooting out corruption and setting up our society so that everyone has a chance to thrive so that our public policies are not rooted in the bottom line of corporations.
I think a dear friend of mine, Marianne Williamson, who happens to be a presidential candidate, speaks brilliantly about regaining our moral compass and reconnecting to our sense of what is right and what will help people thrive. In addition to kindness, those are the changes that I really want to see in the world. And hopefully, we can start to get there as more people get interested in what our public policies are and then get out there and vote.
Yes, make change. Little by little, we can do it. I'm going to squeeze in one extra question. You and Simon Sinek both call yourselves unshakable optimists. So for anyone who feels defeated by what's happening right now, can you just sort of tell us what this philosophy is about becoming an optimist?
Absolutely. Well, first of all being an optimist isn't about being a Pollyanna and it isn't about wearing rose colored glasses, quite the opposite. It's about looking at what is, and then envisioning a better possibility and working towards that possibility. So being an unshakable optimist to me is all about going back to everything is figureoutable; that no matter what problem we may face individually or collectively that we can figure this out, that we can make it better. And that if we work together, we are absolutely going to overcome it. I think that one of the most exciting things, we need the full diversity of gifts and talents and perspectives. We need everyone activated if we're going to solve some of the biggest challenges that we are facing today, not least of which includes climate.
There's a lot of smart people out there. And for me, making sure they have access to education, that they believe that they have a gift in themselves that's worth sharing. That if people just see each other through that lens of compassion and kindness, I think we can do a lot of good.
I know you have a scholarship program available, so can you just let us know where people can get connected to all things “Marie”?
Oh, absolutely. So MarieForleo.com is the main website. That's where we have hundreds of free episodes of MarieTV and The Marie Forleo Podcast. I'm sure you'll include a link to B-School to get them there. And then just @MarieForleo on all of the social channels and yes, in terms of our scholarship, we are really, really proud every single year. This will be our 11th year doing B-School. We have a scholarship program because I am absolutely clear, there's an adage and I believe in that wholeheartedly that talent is universal and opportunity is not. So we want to make sure that regardless of someone's financial ability, that if they're right for the program that they shot in getting in and that we can support them in bringing their gifts to the world.
Marie, thank you for being on the show, thank you for your decades of work, even prior to starting your company. Just the work that you've done, becoming the woman that you are. I would love for you to close out this episode, the way that you do every single episode of MarieTV, please.
Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much Tony, for having me on the show. It was such a pleasure. And thank you everyone for listening today.
Hey, it's Tony and I wanted to pop in here and just share a few highlights of what Marie said so that you can really walk away with these.
Remember that everything is figureoutable. Everything is figureoutable. It's about our beliefs, not making excuses, and really getting into that creative problem solving. So if you're skeptical or if you're ready to make this happen, pick up your copy of that #1 New York Times bestseller. One way that I want to highlight that Marie shared this is that she started a professional dance career at the age of 25. And now if you look at her, she's created a digital media empire that spans the globe, that honors every single one of her gifts, and her passions, and her talents. So what I want to encourage you to do is to start taking full ownership of your gifts, your career, your presence, and move into that boss babe territory, and really own with power, what you can contribute to the world.
I know for a fact that Marie and I would both love to hear from you. So take a screenshot of this episode right now and share your biggest takeaway or insight with us. Make sure that you tag @MarieForleo or @TonyHowell so that we can see it.
Now, if you want to hear other episodes with changemakers, make sure that you subscribe to your podcatcher of choice. And of course I would love it if you would leave a review with your thoughts.
If you want to dive in further with Marie, head over to MarieForleo.com, that's where you can buy the book, you can get on the waiting list for B-School, or the Copy Cure, and definitely dive into that juicy content on MarieTV and The Marie Forleo Podcast.
Of course, I would love it if you'd hop over to TonyHowell.me.
I have a digital wellness quiz for you to take, to get your score, of where you are in your personal online presence. And if you take that quiz, my team will email you a personal recommendation of what you should watch, listen to, read or download to improve that score.
So thank you so much for listening to Conversations with Changemakers. And now, I want to ask you to go out there and use your work to change the world.
I hope you and I get to have a conversation very soon.