I recently interviewed Suzanne Somers on my podcast, Thirty Minute Mentors. We spoke about Suzanne’s journey and best advice on a range of topics. Here are some highlights and excerpts from our conversation:
Adam: You’ve written bestselling books on anti-aging and in your most recent book you’ve interviewed leading doctors who specialize in anti-aging. What are some of the most important things we should understand about how to fight the aging process?
Suzanne: I got cancer 20 years ago and I remember at the time thinking, wow, well what have I done to play host to this disease? I thought I ate right. [But to fight the disease] I changed the way I ate. I ate only real foods, organic foods – a high fat, high protein diet – all organic, no chemicals. I value sleep now and I didn’t use to. I used to write my books in the middle of the nights and no one would bother me. That’s a game-changer. And I changed my thinking. You know, you can let your thoughts eat you up if somebody ticks you off and you can like let it kind of overtake you. And I’ll tell you, when I was fired from Three’s Company, I had some bad thoughts going on in my head and I had to do the work to undo that.
Adam: What was it like working with John Ritter and Don Knotts and being a part of TV history on Three’s Company?
Suzanne: Well, it was clear from day one, looking at John Ritter, you’re working with a major, major talent. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him, he was so great. Don didn’t come onto the show for a couple more years. He came on after the Ropers were off. The first year I was a little rough, but by year two, you see there’s a whole transition. I was okay the first year because I looked right. I had that naive small-town girl does the who she is, doesn’t know what she looks like, kind of a look.
Adam: How did you bounce back from getting fired from Three’s Company?
Suzanne: You got to take the time to grieve. Don’t take too long. Get up. Don’t stay on that pity pot too long. For me, it was the realization that everybody knew my name and that was powerful. That was more powerful than being, you know, Joe Schmoe from nowhere. I was Suzanne Somers wherever I went. All I ever heard was, “Oh, I missed you on that show.” “You were so great on that show.” And I was also fighting their publicity machine. They had a much bigger machine than me and they’re putting out that she’s greedy and she won and she’s trying to ruin the show and she’s too big for her riches. That’s hard to get past with the public. So I had to reinvent. That’s when I went to Vegas. I understood how to work an audience and I did that by being absolutely honest. It’s like, “I’m a small town, girls don’t know who I am, don’t know what I look like.” I made fun of myself on stage. I morphed into Chrissy and would sing and dance like her. I gave them what they wanted. I talked to them – not at them, but to them. And I had major success in Vegas for a long time – all through the ‘80s – and the only reason I left Vegas was that I got called back to TV when things had calmed down to do Step By Step.
Adam: Your husband, Alan, has played a major role in your business and your success over the course of your career. How can spouses and family members and friends who are working closely together keep their personal and professional relationships strong?
Suzanne: You’ve got put on your big boy pants or big girl pants and really try to see it from their perspective. You don’t always have to be right. The more you respect one another and the more you back off and go, “You know, you’re right. Last time, you’re right. This time, next time, maybe I’m right.” You can ruin a business relationship by working with a relative or it can be the greatest experience ever, which is what I’m experiencing.
Adam: You were inducted into the Infomercial Hall of Fame. What are some of your best sales and marketing tips?
Suzanne: Turn all negatives into positives. The reason we sold 10 million Thighmasters is that I bought a pair of shoes in the ‘80s that cost $565. All they were were plain nude but perfect with toe cleavage and pointy toe and the right height heel. And I’m in my dressing room, and I thought, “Alan is going to think I’m so stupid paying almost $600 for a pair of totally plain shoes. So I walk out in my new Manolo Blahniks plain shoes and my bra and underpants, and I said, how do you like my new shoes?” And he said, “Great legs.” And I went, “That’s the commercial.” The original Thighmaster commercial is just me in those shoes.
Adam: What are some of your best tips for aspiring actors and actresses?
Suzanne: That’s so hard. Luck is a component. You can be the most talented person in the world, but you’ve gotta be in the right place at the right time. I had that luck clearly twice – almost like the universe put me there in a way that I never could have planned on myself… When I was Chrissy Snow, I just believed that I was her when I was doing her. And when I would put on those clothes and lift up my shoulders and turn my knees in with a ponytail, I was her and it was delicious. When I was offered the role of a dumb blonde, I would have taken any part. But I thought, “How do you make a dumb blonde likable?” Because they’re so annoying. And I think that I turned Chrissy snow into a lovable, dumb blonde. So if you get the opportunity to get a good character, really think about how can you make that character lovable and likable. Al Pacino once said about his acting, “I find the worst thing about the nicest character I play and I find the nicest thing about the worst character I play, so that the audience has something to root for.”
Adam: How can listeners learn from your example and avoid getting typecast or pigeonholed?
Suzanne: Believe in yourself. I know that’s cliché, but you got to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will. And then hope that you find yourself in front of the right person at the right time. But today in today’s world, there’s, it’s actually, there’s something that’s easier and that is how you use social media. How can you create your own show on TV? Look at the Kardashians. Look what they did. They took a group of good-looking people and turned themselves into this mega success. You’ve got to create your reality. I’ve created this reality on my Facebook live feed. We’ve had shows where we’ve brought in over a million people. It’s a phenomenal thing if only a third of them buy one thing with an app.
Adam: Any final thoughts on how to stay young and live a happy, healthy and successful life?
Suzanne: Yeah. Well, I just wrote 400 pages on it in A New Way To Age. There’s a new way to age. I’m 73. You can’t lie about your age anymore. So I decided at around 60 that I was going to sell my age. You can’t lie because people can Google you. So I turned my age into my asset by keeping myself healthy. I’ve been doing yoga every other day for 19 years. You’ve got to exercise. You’ve got to just find one that you like. I’ve replaced all the things that have declined in aging like hormones and nutrients and minerals and the fact that we don’t absorb nutrients and minerals. By being in that kind of balance, it makes you have a very strong libido and that opens up a whole new chapter. And I’ve got my husband all juiced up on testosterone because men lose their hormones too. So I get him a testosterone shot every Tuesday. Don’t call us on Wednesday. And you know, I say that because a healthy person is a sexual person. What’s the last thing you feel like doing when you don’t feel well? You don’t feel like having sex. So that’s why I talk about it – to let people know, women and men, it ain’t over. It’s not going to be over for me for a long time. And the earlier you start making the right choices every day, whether it’s the food you choose or the chemicals you do or do not use to clean your house or your spray your house with the better your outcome. You want a good endpoint. You don’t want to end up in a nursing home like everybody’s expecting they are. Start now. That’s what I’ve done. I see myself for another three decades, at least, and I’m going to have a strong brain and strong bones and still going to be sitting at Big Al’s bar, having it a tequila and dancing from time to time.