When Marie Forleo is in the midst of a huge project, she trains like an athlete — up at 6, green juice, meditate, work out, shower, get down to business. Her discipline has paid off: She’s a best-selling author, the creator of the entrepreneurship and marketing boot camp B-School and an international speaker.
Marie is also unapologetically herself. She knows who she is and what she wants. She’s at once a serious business strategist, a dedicated philanthropist, a quirky teacher and the author of a book titled Make Every Man Want You (subtitle: How to Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself!). She doesn’t leave the house without swiping on black eyeliner and Revlon Age Defying CC Cream — bright eyes and smooth, even skin go a long way, especially when you regularly film an award-winning Web series (she’s interviewed the likes of Arianna Huffington on MarieTV) and share your wisdom with Oprah (on the Emmy-winning Super Soul Sunday).
We squeezed ourselves into Marie’s jammed schedule to figure out how she does it.
Becoming a life coach at 23 takes serious chutzpah. What motivated you to strike out in such a bold way?
I graduated from college at 21 and started working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, which is a dynamic but intense environment. The people I worked with (who were 99.9 percent men) would dream of their two-week vacation every year. I realized I couldn’t live my life dreaming about those two weeks a year that I was “free.”
So I quit. I spent the next year and a half in magazines, but it became clear to me that I didn’t want to move up that ladder. One day I stumbled upon an article about a new profession called life coaching. My heart lit up like never before. The logical part of my mind judged it as crazy, cheesy, ridiculous. Who in their right mind would hire a 23-year-old life coach? But I couldn't deny that it felt more right than anything I’d been exposed to before. I’d always had a burning desire to help people and do something with true meaning.
I signed up for virtual courses, quit magazines, and started bartending at night, hustling to build my coaching practice during the day. I was petrified, but my desire overcame my fear. Somewhere along the line I became so busy that there was just no room for fear and anxiety — it was just about getting the work done.
As a young life coach with relatively little life experience, did you have naysayers? How did you deal?
In the course, we were doing all brand-new stuff — everyone was new to it, regardless of age. They taught us to start an email newsletter, which at the time was unheard of. They advised us to coach anyone, to practice and hone our abilities. I coached my friends; I coached anyone who was kind and gracious enough to spend some time with me. It was by no means easy, but I just pushed through. I was probably my biggest naysayer. Let’s be honest: Starting a life coaching business at 23 is a bit odd. I was insecure about my age and my ability to truly help people. The way I dealt with my insecurity was to work my tail off and learn how to get people the best results possible. It’s hard to listen to your own inner naysayer when you have results staring you in the face.
Over the years, how have you turned yourself into not just a life coach (a classic “solopreneur” venture) but the leader of a successful company?
In the beginning it’s about trusting your instincts with getting the right people on board. I make no bones about it when I want someone on my team. The two highest people in our company were both (pleasantly) surprised by how clear and unapologetic I was on wanting to work with them. My team truly inspires me. They are extraordinarily kind, hardworking, and crazy smart. They make the business run and genuinely look out for each other, our customers, and me on every level.
Leadership is just about doing the right thing — always, and regardless of whether people know about it publicly. When there are hard decisions on the table, choose the one you feel best about and explain yourself honestly and clearly. And trust your heart.
You have a way of making the camera your best friend. What prompted you to start your award-winning Web series, MarieTV?
A really strong, intuitive inner voice that would not stop chattering: You have to do more videos, you have to do more videos. I was like, oh my God, shut up already!
I wanted a vehicle to express myself and create change in people’s lives that would always be free, that you could share — a weekly soul vitamin. It’s a fantastic way for people to get to know our warmth and compassion and wisdom, but also our weirdness and sense of humor. I have a very different way of delivering information. If people find me offensive or not to their taste, they can get out of my universe and find a different teacher. But if they love MarieTV, it’s a pretty good guarantee they’ll love anything we put out in the world.
Your home office is impressively clutter free, but you’ve made an art out of stacking books. What’s your favorite title in your collection?
I really do feel this is the book that every creator needs to read: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s so powerful, so honest — it’s the truth of the creative struggle I think all of us face. Whenever our souls call for something deeper, more expansive, risky, courageous, we all face resistance. It’s all about kicking resistance in the ass and getting to the other side.