Allison Fallon: “You are your biggest obstacle”

Nobody is smarter than you — this might sound strange to say, since you can for sure find coaches and mentors who know things you don’t know and will help you learn what you need to learn to grow and get better at what you do. What I mean by this is don’t forget that nobody out […]

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Nobody is smarter than you — this might sound strange to say, since you can for sure find coaches and mentors who know things you don’t know and will help you learn what you need to learn to grow and get better at what you do. What I mean by this is don’t forget that nobody out there is more equipped to do the thing that you are doing than you. You were born for this. Don’t get lost in the idea that other people have more experience, intelligence, confidence… or whatever. Everybody else is just guessing like you are. You have as much access to greatness as they do. YOU are full of creative potential you haven’t even tapped into yet. Don’t lose track of that. Nobody is smarter than you.

As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Fallon. Allison is a bestselling author, speaker, coach and founder of Find Your Voice, a community that supports anyone who wants to write anything. For the past decade, she’s been helping writers become authors, authors become bestsellers and those who swear they aren’t “real writers” use a regular practice of writing to improve their life. Over the past 10 years, she has not only written prolifically, but has coached hundreds of authors to complete their creative projects through her in-person writing workshops, online courses and one-on-one support. She’s been featured in Huffington Post, RELEVANT magazine and Donald Miller’s Storyline blog. Allison lives with her husband in Los Angeles, California.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in Portland, Oregon in a pretty typical suburban family. There wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary about my upbringing and in fact, as a young girl I had this nagging sense that I didn’t “fit” into the normalcy of the life I was actually living. I would look around me and see everyone else just doing the things normal people do — going to parties, having small talk, going to school, doing their homework — and I would try to do the same thing so that I could feel normal and fit in… but always felt a bit out of place. I was always “someplace else” in my head, dreaming of traveling other places or seeing the world. I would make up elaborate (and untrue) stories about my family and my life that all felt more exciting or interesting than what was actually happening, and I would tell my friends these stories with zero finesse or ease. It did not take long for people to realize that the pieces of the puzzle didn’t fit. I was an awful liar — as in, no good at it. My name (Allison) means “truthful one” but I quickly earned the nickname “bender of the truth” and meanwhile there was one big true secret I was keeping from everyone who knew me that would later become one of the more interesting stories I had to tell. I had been sexually abused and this altered completely the way I saw myself in the world, the way I interacted with people and my sense of safety in my own body. But for most of my childhood and teenage years, I struggled with how big the world felt and how much of it I wanted to see and experience and how small my little world felt around me.

What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah-ha” moment with us?

My “ah-ha” moment came to me during my first year at work after graduate school. I had done all the work that was expected of me. Gone to college, gotten a degree, gone to graduate school, gotten a Master’s degree, worked hard, paid my own bills, went to church, had a life and friends and even a boyfriend I liked and thought I would marry. This was when it occurred to me that I didn’t want any of it. If you’ve ever been in a position like this before — where you’re driving to work everyday, for example, and have this screaming feeling like you’re driving in the wrong direction but you don’t know why — you know it can be pretty terrifying. It’s incredibly unpleasant. The best way to describe it is to say I felt like I was living somebody else’s life. I had followed all the rules, jumped through all the hoops, and from the outside looking in you would have thought I’d done pretty well for myself. I had a nice life. But there was this unmistakable feeling like something was “off” and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was.

I was telling a friend about this feeling one day — in what felt like a momentous leap for me (almost whispering, like the “authorities” might hear) — and she said to me, “what would you do if you could do whatever you wanted?” And the answer came to me like a flash of lightning. I responded rather resolutely in the moment, actually. I told her I’d quit my job and drive across the country and write a book about it. I’d always wanted to write a book and I’d always wanted to travel. This would be a way I could do both.

Honestly, while there was a part of me that was “brave” enough to come up with this idea, I was not brave enough to execute on it. I worried I’d be blowing up my life, sacrificing any chance of security, that I’d look irresponsible and immature to a potential romantic partner, that I’d disappoint my parents and my family and my boyfriend…

But the friend who I told about this idea wouldn’t let it go. And less than 6 months later we BOTH sold everything we owned, moved out of our apartments, and spent the following year of our lives traveling to all 50 US states — driving the lower 48 and flying to Alaska and Hawaii. We made 100 stupid decisions, met kind and crazy strangers, fled from the house of a internet stranger who offered his guest room to us without telling his wife, and I wrote my first book about our adventure. It’s called Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage. It’s about the road trip, for sure, but it’s MORE about all of the emotional and mental baggage that’s holding us back.

That book was only the beginning of my career. Since then, I’ve written 12 books (and counting) published two memoirs of my own, have written three online programs that help writers get their books written and published, started hosting workshops for people who would NEVER consider themselves writers, teaching them how to record their story as a way of understanding themselves and their place in the world, and am working on a new book that talks about all the incredible changes people see in their lives because of a simple, daily practice of writing. Our goal at Find Your Voice is to get a million people to sign the pledge to write for at least 20 minutes per day for four days in a row because we believe the world becomes a better, stronger, more loving and forgiving place when people are able to hear the sound of their own voice.

There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

So much of the struggle of turning an idea into a business, for me, has been overcoming the mental obstacles around money. Our blueprints for money are gifted to us at an early age, for better or worse, and then when we become adults we get to decide if they’re serving us or if we’d like to re-frame them. You can tell if your money blueprint is serving you if you’re getting the results you want and in the beginning of my career, the result I was getting was that I was working my butt off and not making much money (I lived off of 28,000 dollars my first year in business in one of the most expensive counties in the US). In order to be a business owner, you have to be profitable. You don’t even need to go to business school to know that one — just a free little nugget to you, from my own life experience. And my business wasn’t being profitable. So I had to stand back and ask myself, “what am I willing to change?”

Part of my money blueprint had to do with this idea that money was the root of all evil. Money makes people selfish and lazy. This is what I learned early on. And since I didn’t want to be selfish and lazy, I saw this blueprint show up in a powerful way in what I was building.

Another part of my blueprint had to do with this idealism about “high art” or some kind of conflict I’d made up in my head about art and business. The art and commerce conversation has been going on for centuries, and I doubt I have anything too profound to add. But in the 21st century I think it’s easy for artists-turned-business-owners to get this idea in their head that making money from your art somehow devalues it…. that if your art is accepted by the masses it must be too simple or something like that. The picture of the starving artist has become a bit romanticized. And I wonder what would happen if more of asked ourselves how we can use our creative talents to create products and services that serve REAL people in the world. Like, what if my art can actually make someone’s life better? Then of course they’re going to pay me well for it! And when we can create that kind of positive value exchange, then I’m not only an artist but also a successful business owner and ALSO a leader and world-changer.

I’ll share one more aspect of my money blueprint that was holding me back: I grew up with a disdain for marketing and a general sense that anyone trying to sell you anything is sleazy and trying to take advantage of you. Being a business owner has FORCED me to change this blueprint in a couple of ways. First of all, suddenly I realized what it’s like to have something (a product or service) that you really and truly believe can make someone’s life better, but not know how to convince them to buy it. You don’t want to come across “pushy” or “salesy” so you end up being really passive aggressive and then everyone loses. You don’t get to keep making your product or service and your idea customer never gets to experience the true life change you’re offering them. Once I got over this idea that all salespeople are trying to “manipulate” you into buying something you don’t need, I was much better able to communicate to a customer why they need what I’m selling. My business has done better. I’ve become a better leader. My customers are served. And I feel WAY more empowered when someone tries to sell me something. I get to make a true decision about whether or not I’d like to make a purchase right now.

What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” That’s a quote, and I can’t remember off the top of my head who exactly said it, but it’s good, solid life advice. It won’t work for everyone to do what I did and jump into the business with no money and no backup plan. I was in a particular place in life where I had that kind of freedom and no one was counting on me financially (I ate a LOT of oatmeal, and didn’t have any furniture for over a year — short of a mattress on the floor). But we all have something we can start with. Start with 20 minutes per week. Or 20 minutes per day if you have it. Do some research. Find people who are doing what looks energizing and fun to you and ask them questions. By doing this, you’re priming your brain to start taking action.

Psychologist say change happens in stages. The first stage is pre-contemplative, meaning you haven’t even thought about thinking about a thing yet. So someone who’s in this stage when it comes to turning a hobby into a business probably isn’t even reading this article. They haven’t considered that there is anything wrong with their current circumstances. The second stage is contemplative. Meaning you’re thinking about thinking about making a change. So if that’s you, you’re reading this article and thinking: hmm. Wow, that sounds interesting… but [fill in the blank with all the problems why this wouldn’t work for me]. If you’re in that stage, the most productive thing you can do is just keep thinking about it. Keep asking questions. Keep thinking through problems. Consider that maybe there might solutions to the many problems your brain is pointing out to you.

The next stage of change is preparation. Where you actually start doing things. You begin to make movements. If you’re in this stage of change, there’s a writing assignment I give to clients who are looking to work through career blockages and it goes like this. Take out a blank sheet of paper and write your problem or question at the top of the paper. You might write, “If I were going to start a business, what would it be called?” Or maybe, “What would we sell?” Or maybe, “Where would I get the money to begin?” I call this “The Magic Question” exercise because our brains do this magical thing where they feel obligated to answer any question that we ask them. You ask your brain a question and it’s whole job is literally to answer that question. So if you ask the question at the top of the page, and then spend anywhere between 5–20 minutes writing whatever thoughts and feelings come up as it relates to this question you’ve asked yourself, your brain will eventually answer that question for you. Who knows what the answer will be. Maybe it will be: now is not the time. OR maybe it will be: Call Uncle Bob. Or maybe it will be: you don’t need as much money as you think you do! Whatever the answer, you’ll gain confidence over time that if you start small and take simple, confident steps, you’ll make progress much more quickly than you thought possible.

It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?

I actually think this is a limiting belief that holds SO MANY people back from doing work that is satisfying and enjoyable for them. We have this idea that “work” is supposed to be this thing where we clock in and clock out and check our “personal lives” at the door and just log our hours and get our paycheck so we can go live the rest of our lives. But think about this. First of all, you spend more time at work than you spend anywhere else in your life. You literally spend as much or more time with your co-workers than you do with your FAMILY. Why wouldn’t you want to be able to “bring the whole of yourself” to your job — to bring your passion, your purpose, your great gifts? Why wouldn’t you want to get needs met at work, to have positive relationships, to contribute something beyond just logging hours on a time clock?

There is no way to “check your personal life” at the door of your job. Sure, there are moments when you have to be professional (or, as I call it, put on your big girl panties) and do something you don’t particularly feel like doing in that exact moment. I had to lead a team meeting recently about 90 minutes after finding a close friend of mine had taken his life. I wanted to melt into a puddle on the floor. I wanted to scream and cry and say it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair, in fact. Instead, I told myself there would be a time and a place for all of that (and there was) but for right now, the best thing for our team was for me to be brave, and be a grown up, and put on my big girl panties and go on with the meeting as planned. Later, when I knew it wouldn’t derail the team, I let them know what was going on with me. And we had that time as a team later where my vulnerability can be empowering for all of us. But leading that meeting when I was hurting so badly reminded me that it is possible to rise above how I feel in a particular moment in favor of the bigger picture.

Still, my team works with me every day and that means all of me. My quirks. My failures. My weaknesses. My great strengths and passions and desires. Can I really separate all of these aspects of myself into “personal” and “professional” categories? I don’t believe we can and in fact I believe our attempts to do this are a source of great pain around our professional lives.

Work is an exchange of value. I bring some value to our company, our brand, our team, to the products and services we offer to our customers, and in exchange I get a paycheck (money — one representation of value). I also get affirmation, respect, growth, new opportunities, connection, etc… all OTHER representations of value. Imagine how much more value I could bring to the table — to my team, my organization, my brand — if I had passion and genuine interest behind what I was doing. Passion is like the lighter fluid on the fire. If there was a little bit there before, there will be a LOT there now. The value I bring will grow exponentially and I can expect to be compensated accordingly with all kinds of value.

Imagine a situation where you didn’t have to work as hard but you got “paid” more? More money, more connection, more opportunity, more growth… this is what is possible when we bring our true selves to the table at work. Unfortunately, so many work places don’t give us permission to do this.

What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?

The best part about running your own business is that you get to be in the driver’s seat of your own life. You’re now in control of your schedule, your workflow, your own deadlines, your paycheck… literally everything. The worst part is that, once you’re in the driver’s seat of your own life, you realize all the things you used to blame on other people about your life were really always your fault anyway. Ha. Now you’re in charge and some of these things simply haven’t changed.

For example, maybe you complain about the impossible expectations your boss puts on you and how no matter how hard you work, it’s never enough for him. Then you quit and start your own business and realize you’re actually the one with the impossible expectations and that no matter how hard you work, it’s never enough for you. Maybe you feel like your boss expects you to work ridiculous hours. You’re always at the office until past dinnertime and you’re always the first one there in the morning. Then, you quit and work for yourself and realize — shocker — you’re still doing the same thing. Wherever you go, there you are. Maybe you complained when you had a job that your boss never paid you enough (this was me). Then, you start working for yourself and you find that you’re always cutting corners on your own salary for the “sake of the business”.

Ultimately, uncovering this realization is such a gift because it shows you where the true power lies to make a change.

As it relates to overcoming these drawbacks, my advice is not going to be the most practical, but I’d argue it will be the most helpful. Most people address these problems in their life on the level of practicality. They’ll make you a to-do list or a spreadsheet. Many, many times I’ve considered shutting down the business and I’ve had friends help me make a cashflow spreadsheet, or create a new product line, or trouble-shoot my pricing, or connect me to a business coach who can work on efficiency or workflow. These are all helpful. But UNDERNEATH all the practical is the subconscious, or even spiritual, force that is driving these realities. And if we look at what’s on the surface, but never under it, we’re unlikely to find a way to make a lasting change. So for me, overcoming these challenges has been all about figuring out what thought patterns or beliefs created the challenges in the first place. Then, when you can re-route the beliefs, you can re-route the challenges.

Research shows one of the most effective ways to do this — to uncover old, buried ideas we have about the world and begin to change them — is through a regular practice of writing. So everyday I sit down to write not just because it’s my passion and interest, and not just because I have written books, but because it makes me a better human, a better business owner, a better partner in romantic relationships, a better friend, and an all-around better contributor to the world around me. This is also why we teach what we teach at Find Your Voice. We believe the best way to create positive change in the world is to start with ourselves.

Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

When I first quit my full-time job to go on the road trip and write my first book, I really thought that a writer’s life would look so glorious — sitting in coffee shops, casually typing, while sun streamed in through the windows. I expected the brilliance to just flow effortlessly from my fingertips and I expected books to fly off the shelves. If there were challenges I pictured, it was probably like long hours singing autographs after hundred of people crowded into my book signing. Still, even in this scenario, I imagined there would be a huge smile on my face.

Needless to say, that’s not what it’s been like.

In the early days, I took literally any writing job that would pay me money. I lived on next to nothing. I struggled to get the words onto the page in a way that was accurate and true and helpful and sounded “like me”. I write whole drafts of whole chapters and threw them into the garbage. It felt at times like I was spinning my wheels. I rarely showered and I could not afford to go to coffee shops. I would use the grounds twice in my little pour-over coffee maker at home — literally saving pennies to get by. There was nothing glamorous about it.

Then, even when I did finally get a book contract and publish my book — even when the book did well in the marketplace — I was shocked to find that I had to work my butt off to get the book to sell, to get it in front of the right people and then to convince them to purchase it so that I could make a living and write more books. Books (even great ones) don’t sell themselves. They have whole teams of people who are committed to creating momentum behind them, just like any product. You have to prove yourself in the beginning, and this is true with anything. I think — as much as anyone — you’re proving to YOURSELF that you really care about what you’re doing. Life is like one of those personal trainers who puts you through hell at five in the morning. It’s like, “what?! Do you want to quit??” And it’s waiting for you to be like, “No! I won’t quit!” Through those hot, angry tears that come when you’re pushed to your limit. Ha.

I would drive or fly all over the country to book signings and then three people would show up. This is good muscle work for your ego, by the way. I tell young artists that everyone needs to learn to “play to an empty room”. If that doesn’t remind you who you are and your place in world, I don’t know what will. It also gets you back in touch with your passion, with WHY exactly you do what you do. Is it for the attention? For the praise? For the fame? Then you’re probably doing it for unsteady reasons. It’s not that you won’t ever get those things. It’s that you MIGHT get them. Maybe. And when you do, it may or may not destroy you if you haven’t checked your ego.

Finally, the biggest thing that has surprised me is the way my passion and art has turned into a business. I didn’t expect that. I expected to be an author selling books. And at some point in my career, I even made the shift to start thinking about building courses and selling those. But I never dreamed in the beginning that this thing would become so much bigger than me. I never saw myself as a business owner. I saw myself as a creative person who was just trying to make a living. Now I’m employing people, building systems and processes, thinking like a CEO and a COO and stretching my mind and my skill set beyond what I ever imagined when I got into this. It’s been terrifying and thrilling and fun.

Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?

Regularly. I mean, depending on the calendar year, it was probably as much as once per day at points. I would look at friends who were buying houses and building up retirement funds and taking paid vacations and just be like “OMG… WHAT am I doing with my life?!” Meanwhile it’s midnight and I’m sitting in bed racing to meet a deadline. Or a product or service doesn’t sell like I expect it to and I start to question everything. But honestly, for me, the further I get away from having a “real job” the more impossible it feels to go back. Like, I’m not sure I even could show up at an office every day from 9–5. There’s always been this thing pulling at me that wouldn’t let me make the choice. So overcoming it was usually as simple as going to sleep and waking up the next morning and being like, “Okay… it’s a new day. We’re going to try this again.”

One thing this has taught me is that problems are solvable. They really are. Our brains are wired to solve problems and people are solving problems every single day BIGGER than the ones I face in my business who are no smarter than I am. Why wouldn’t I want to play a role in solving some of the biggest problems we face in our culture? Why wouldn’t I want to be on the front lines of that? If you need the stability and predictability of someone telling you: here’s what you’re going to do today. Here’s how I’m going to measure your performance. Then great… a “real job” is the perfect fit for you right now. But if you thrive when someone says: here’s a problem…. how would you like to solve it? Or, even better, when you just look in front of you and realize: anxiety. Depression. Suicide rates. Whatever. this is a HUGE problem that needs to be solved… what can we do about it? If this is you, you’ll do great working on your own.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I had a business partnership that went south and I ended up losing a huge chunk of my intellectual property. I had written an entire curriculum to help authors outline, write, edit and publish their books and when the relationship between myself and my business partner blew up, I was so fed up with the fighting which had been going on for a long time, I just pretty much laid down and let myself lose this thing that was really important to me. I reached out to an attorney about fighting for it, but when he quoted me the price to take it to court, I just didn’t have it in me.

Here’s what was interesting about this, to me. First of all, I surprised myself with how much resolve I found to do what was good for me regardless of what anyone thought. For most of my life, I’d been so obsessed with other people’s opinions of me that, if I had a big decision to make, I’d go down the list and call to get advice from every person who I wanted to impress. I’d “poll the audience” so to speak and then really work to make everyone proud of me as I made a choice about how to move forward. And something happened to me in this situation that was so awful and out of my element. I just completely ran out of energy to care what anyone thought. It was as if someone had turned off the light switch of perfectionism and “playing the game” and people-pleasing. Which felt like a gift, even though the way it was delivered wasn’t ideal.

So in many ways, during that split I completely embarrassed myself in front of clients, customers and other business relationships. I cancelled everything. Pulled all of my emotional, mental and practical resources out of the relationship as a boundary — a way to say, “I won’t allow myself to be taken advantage of in this way.” This should have been the scariest thing I had ever done, but it strangely wasn’t. It was easy and it felt really right. There’s something about getting pushed to your limit that helps you find that strong, edge-y part of yourself.

Four years later, I re-wrote and rebranded the curriculum and I think it’s even better than it was before. It’s been a reclaiming of what was mine and now it’s 100% mine. I don’t have to split the profits with my partner anymore. Here’s the other thing I’ve found really interesting. For some reason I thought I “needed” my business partner in order to do what I was doing. And what I realized is I actually could have done it on my own from the very beginning. I’d like for young business leaders to know that so much of the support, intelligence, strength, and leadership they’re looking for in other people is already in THEM. It might be buried. But that just means you have to dig for it.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Ha — yes. One thing I’ve been really insecure about as a business owner is my “business speak” because I never got a business degree and have no formal training in business. So people use all these acronyms and in the beginning especially I would have no idea what they were talking about. For the longest time I didn’t know what a “P+L” was but I’d hear people talk about it and I’d just pick up on context clues and thought I pretty much had a handle on it. So I spent a whole meeting one time talking about a “P+D” and definitely got a few weird looks. Pretty sure they got the drift of what I was trying to say but didn’t want to embarrass me. Anyway… later that night I realized what I had done had a good laugh with myself.

Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?

I’m inspired by our clients everyday. We work with people who have accomplished incredible things in the world — they’ve won Olympic medals and are curing cancer or running business or moving us with their performances on TV or onstage. They have fought through endless obstacles to get to where they are, and they all have amazing wisdom to share with the world. But in order to get your message into a book, you have to take the most vulnerable stories from your life and put them into writing which is no small task. I like to say it’s a fully body sport because you have to fully embody a book before you can write it, so a book will change your life as much or more than it will change anyone else’s life. At least if you are truly engaged in the process.

Also, at our Find Your Voice One Day workshops we work with rising leaders and influencers who are looking to overcome trauma or change old, bad patterns in their lives and are using writing as a tool to do it. To me, signing up for one of these workshops and traveling to another city to actually figure out what invisible thing has been holding you back so that you can take ownership of it is one of the bravest things you could possibly do in your life or in the world. These are the brave souls who will pave new paths forward for all of us, across industries. I’m proud we get to work with them and they inspire us everyday.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’m a huge believer that rising tides lift all boats. The work we do at Find Your Voice is changing the world in a thousand ways. I’m biased but I believe that to be true. We’re not only infusing the world (our libraries and bookstores) with better, truer, richer content. We’re also giving every single individual an opportunity to reclaim their story for themselves, to discover their unique place and purpose in the world, to discover their power, to find their voice. For too long writing has been a privilege reserved for only a select few. We’re looking to put this power back in the hands of the masses. This will make the world a better place, I’m convinced.

For centuries human beings have sat around fire pits and told stories as a way to connect and survive. We need stories.They’re like food to our souls. You need to hear your own story, and your kids need to hear your story. I need to hear your story, and you need to hear mine. This is how we understand each other, understand ourselves, develop empathy, curb violence, learn to love ourselves, etc… it’s way more important than we give credit for.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Learn to play to an empty room — I mentioned this above but this is about getting your motivation straight. It’s not because you won’t ever have an audience watching what you do, but because you might, and because you never want to lose sight of the passion and purpose behind what you create.
  2. Nobody is smarter than you — this might sound strange to say, since you can for sure find coaches and mentors who know things you don’t know and will help you learn what you need to learn to grow and get better at what you do. What I mean by this is don’t forget that nobody out there is more equipped to do the thing that you are doing than you. You were born for this. Don’t get lost in the idea that other people have more experience, intelligence, confidence… or whatever. Everybody else is just guessing like you are. You have as much access to greatness as they do. YOU are full of creative potential you haven’t even tapped into yet. Don’t lose track of that. Nobody is smarter than you.
  3. This is about the money — So… business is about money. In the beginning I would say often, “this isn’t about the money for me…” and I think what I meant was that money isn’t my primary motivator. It still isn’t. But actually business IS about money, by its very definition. Let it be about money. Let there be money that exchanges hands for the value you provide. And if you find you have a hard time getting someone to give you their money, don’t REDUCE THE PRICE! Ask yourself how you can provide more value. Ask yourself how your adding value to a customer’s life. Ask yourself how you’re changing things for them, making their life easier, inviting them into a transformation. Then communicate that clearly to your customer and be absolutely unapologetic about your price. Business is about the money. It has to be. It can be about more than that but it has to be at least about that or it’s not a business.
  4. There are many ways to lead — You may not think of yourself as a “leader” simply because you’ve only seen one style of leadership and you don’t lead in that particular way. Maybe you aren’t rigid or demanding or perfectionist. Maybe you’re more free-spirited and excited. Or maybe you’re gentle and encouraging. Don’t get stuck in the rut of thinking that because you don’t lead like [xyz person] leads, that you’re not a real leader. Bring the best of your leadership skills to the table. Take your very best qualities and put them to work in your leadership. We need all kinds of leaders in the workplace. Especially WOMEN who lead with intuition and passion and grace in a non-linear way. This is an undervalued way of leading in the workplace and we need more of it.
  5. You are your biggest obstacle — business leaders need to know that the biggest obstacle to their success is them. I needed to know this when I first started. I wish I would have spent less time “building the business” and more time building into myself. When you grow, your business will grow.

What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d like to get a million people to sign pledge to free write (whatever you want to write — your thoughts and feelings about your life) for 20 minute per day, for at least four days in a row. Research shows this can measurably improve your mood, your immune system, and just about every single area of your life. It also increases empathy and compassion, makes you more aware of yourself and your judgments, and can help you see commonalities with others. People who write regularly like this are more likely to report being happy in their romantic partnerships, more likely to get promoted, less likely to visit the doctor for colds and flue and are all-around more confident and centered.

It’s such a simple practice and I’m convinced this movement could change the world.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

David Foster Wallace says, “the truth will set you free… but not until it’s done with you.” Ha ha. This makes me laugh and cry a little at the same time because of how true it is. Truth requires a higher vibration from us than most of us want to offer. Studies show 90% of adults (or more) lie on a regular basis. And that study can’t even measure the number of times in a day we lie to ourselves. Imagine how much freedom would be possible for us, and for our brothers and sisters around the world, if we learned to be honest with ourselves. Honest about our intentions, our motives, our passions, our desires, our drive, our frustration and anger… etc, etc. May we keep moving forward in truth, learning to be braver and more bold everyday in the truths we seek to tell, until all human beings have the chance to be happy and free.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

There are a handful of women I’d love to gather around a table and have lunch with. It’s a random list. But off the top of my head — Brene Brown. Maren Morris. Amy Schumer. Tina Fey. Amy Poehler. Elizabeth Gilbert. Cheryl Strayed. Anne Lamott. These are all women who inspire me everyday with their strength. They are unapologetically themselves in the world. My life is better because of them. Our planet is better because they’re here.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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