Marie Forleo is an entrepreneur and success coach who helps people “lead extraordinary lives through the power of living in the moment.” Forleo has had a successful career as an author, speaker, lifestyle coach, dancer/choreographer, and fitness professional. She has privately coached millionaire entrepreneurs, corporate executives, creative professionals and stay-at-home moms.
As a dancer/choreographer and fitness professional Marie has starred in four bestselling dance videos and has worked with companies such as MTV, VH1, and Nike. As an author, she has published a book called Make Every Man Want You, teaching women everywhere how to improve their dating life and relationships. Forleo’s work has been seen in The New York Times, Shape Magazine, Healthy & Fit, on CNN.com, Forbes.com, HSN and she has done many TV and radio interviews.
I met up with Forleo at the West Village restaurant, Sant Ambroeus, to interview her about her successful career, happy life, and have her share tips for on anyone can become successful.
MC: So, right now, you’re a successful entrepreneur who’s living her dreams. At what point in your life did you realize that you finally made it?
MF: I don’t know if any entrepreneur ever feels like they truly made it, because entrepreneurs in general are people that want to create something new. For me, I think [I made it] once I got to leave my other jobs. When I first started out, at my own business, I was bartending, I was teaching a lot of fitness classes; I was doing a lot of different things, all of which were things I love, but it was to fund my business. It was really to get the money to keep everything going. Once I can step away from having a lot of different jobs to having all the income coming in from my business.
MC: I read that when you began as a personal coach, there was a time when you were broke, in debt, and unsuccessful yourself, while teaching others how to be successful. What steps did you take to turn this situation around to get rich and happy?
MF: One of the things that I did is really get honest with myself about how my life was and when I was taking a look at my debt and how unsatisfied I was, I made a conscious choice to go find information that would help me change that. I felt like I had some old tools, and some old wisdom that wasn’t quite up to date, and so I really stuck with integrity and said “in order for me to be successful helping and teaching other people, I have to own this for myself. So, I made a very conscious decision to get rid of my debt and just work my butt off; do whatever I had to do to just clear everything out. I just got really interested in only working with teachers that walked their talk. As far as relationships go, I would only study with people who had great relationships, and from people that are actually happy and satisfied. Some people can pretend that they are, but you can tell they’re really not. So, I just made a very conscious choice to find the best teachers I could and study the best stuff I could and only go back out and teach when I felt like I was on solid ground.
MC: Having that experience, what level of success do you think and entrepreneur should reach before writing books, coaching and doing seminars?
MF: I think that they have to have an experience that something works. For example, if they’rein a space where they’re teaching relationships, they should have gone through at least a couple relationships and seen some things that don’t work, figured out some stuff that does, and really be able to share that from an authentic honest place. I think that anyone that teaches is always on a journey, so they’re always gonna want to bring new tools and insights to their students. It’s not about being perfect, but I do think it’s about having a certain level of trust in your own intuition and balancing that with external experience.
MC: As a personal coach, how do you teach people how to break through the glass ceiling? How do you get someone to reach goals that they’ve been struggling for a while to reach?
MF: The first step is to get honest about what’s holding them back. Most of the time it’s an idea in their mind and a thought, rather than a physical obstacle. One of the things that I teach people is to not live in their mind, but to stay very engaged in the moment and stay engaged in action. When you can train people to do that, it becomes very easy for them to stop listening to this [their head] and all the negative stuff up ‘here’, and to really just keep staying in action and producing results. So, it’s more about giving them the tools to retrain how they operate in their business and their life.
MC: But, how do you live in the moment while trying to set long term goals?
MF: That’s a great question. It’s a paradox. Most of us have a dream that we each want to bring into fruition; something that we know we want to create. In any moment, you can be either thinking about that, or just taking the next step in order to bring it into fruition. So that may mean making a big phone call, writing marketing copy, making a customer call; there’s all kinds of actions that need to be taken in order to make that future idea come to life now. So it’s really about staying engaged in this moment and trusting that each step brings your future vision into creation.
MC: Once you’ve already reached your goal, and you’re at the point where you’re rich and successful, how do you stay successful and manage that success?
MF: Having a support team around you, having people who’s opinion you trust, so that when you find yourself in a space that’s challenging or you just have a lot of options, and you’re not quite sure what to chose, that you have a coach or great support team of people that you can bounce ideas off of. You trust that their gonna give you not only their honest opinion, but that they have your best interest at heart. So, it’s also about community as well.
MC: So would you say people that are already as successful as you wanna be?
MF: Well, I think that there’s a combination. I have some folks who, on paper, I may have accomplished more [than them], meaning they don’t have a book and I do, or my business might be bigger than theirs. However, from a spiritual place, I am clear that they helped me find my truth. I also know that they care about me from a very pure place. So, when I speak with them, after I’m done speaking with them, I find myself more inspired and cleared. I think that there’s a balance. I don’t think it’s just about looking for mentors that are necessarily “more successful” than you, I think it’s about surrounding yourself with a great mix of people that you can trust. After you hang out with them, you feel more you; you feel more confident, you feel more clear, and you’re in touch with your truth.
MC: Do you follow some sort of daily routine to get yourself motivated in the morning?
MF: No; this is actually something I’ve struggled with. A lot of books will tell you that’s the way you should do it and that may work for some people, which is fantastic, but for me, I generally like to sleep in. It’s just my body needs a little more sleep in the morning and I can stay up at night no problem. I usually get up and have some kind of maté, which is this South American tea, with my fiancé and kind of hang out and talk. Definitely in the summer months, I’ll go and do yoga, just because it’s great, it feels really good and it’s fun. Then, I’ll get into my work for the day, but there’s not like a set ritual. It’s more like, really taking a look at what my body needs and what I need.
MC: In a lot of financial books, they talk about the concept of frugality and living below your means, but you see a lot of successful entrepreneurs with fancy cars, cribs, and clothes. What’s your take on this?
MF: I came from a very middle class normal family. It’s not like we had a ton of money, it’s not like we were poor; it was just right in the middle. I like having beautiful things, but not living beyond my means. For example, I was in L.A., and I was shopping with a girlfriend and this dress that I have on was in the same store, but it was four times the price of what I got it for. I think it’s great to surround yourself with things that you appreciate and things that are beautiful, but that doesn’t necessarily have to come with a price tag. I think that we’re moving into a space where the new rich is really about well being and happiness and sometimes you just can’t buy those things.
MC: You’re a very vibrant, fun and confident person, but how do you get your personality to be like that if you’re someone who’s not that vibrant. How do you become someone who attracts people to them, whether it’s for a business relationship or a personal relationship?
MF: I think it’s about allowing yourself to have fun and training yourself to have fun. You can operate your life in one of two ways. You can either be complaining that everything sucks, nothing is going your way, there to much traffic or things are too expensive and that would be your lens on the world. That’s basically training yourself for mediocrity and having things not too fun. The other way is if you just treat life like the party is always where you’re at. If you find yourself stuck in traffic and you’re driving your car, crank up so music and dance. I always call it ‘car dancing’. Put on your favorite tunes and rock it out. Wherever you find yourself, just make it a party. Have the attention off of you when you’re in a networking meeting or in some kind of business environment, get interested in people and see who they are and where they’re from and take an active general interest and that trains you in the art of staying fully engaged and having a good time.
MC: If someone wants to revolutionize and drastically improve all areas of their life, what are some important steps they need to take to do that?
MF: One step would be to train themselves to live in the moment and not in their thoughts. There’s a saying that goes "we have a mind, but we are not our minds." I think that’s very true. There’s a being or a soul that lives in each of us and that is really the true source of creativity. It is the thing that connects us to people and connects us to our ideas, and when you’re not thinking and you’re just engaged, that life force or that soul gets to come out and play. The more you can catch if you’re thinking “oh, I’m doing it wrong” or “what should I be doing right now” and just keep staying engaged in the moment, that will revolutionize [your life].
Moustapha Camara is the co-founder of T-Shirt Magazine, an online magazine focused on the t-shirt industry and t-shirt culture, and co-founder of Cashletes, a money themed streetwear clothing line. Camara founded T-Shirt Magazine with his older brother AJ in March 2008, at the age of 17, and Cashletes in the January 2009. Camara currently resides in Jersey City, NJ.