CEO, Marie Forleo International Inc.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 | Go to profile
With hustle and heart, Marie’s mission is to empower women to achieve financial, emotional and spiritual freedom by making the journey there, feel like a party. A marketing and lifestyle expert who teaches women entrepreneurs to live Rich, Happy & Hot, Marie reaches over 40,000 women through her 100% virtual, women-owned and run, socially conscious company, MarieForleo.com. The former Nike Dance Athlete and Wall Street trader is also the author of the dynamic bestseller, Make Every Man Want You: How To Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep From Dating Yourself.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: My journey started out on the floor of the New York Stock exchange as a trading assistant on Wall Street. I knew in my heart that I was meant to do great things in the world, but I didn’t know exactly what “job” that was. My only clue was that I was passionate about business, and I was very creative. I got gigs in publishing – on the advertising side of Gourmet Magazine and then on the editorial side of Mademoiselle Magazine.
While I was grateful to have work, I was also deeply unsatisfied. One day, I stumbled upon an article about a new profession (at the time) called life coaching. Something inside my heart lit up. But I was afraid because who in their right mind would hire a 23 year old life coach?! Immediately, I signed up for a three-year intensive training program to learn life and business coaching. I kept my day job at the magazine, but studied coaching at night.
About six months into my coach training, I got a job offer from Vogue. That was my proverbial fork in the road: do I keep my safe job in the fashion publishing world or quit and start my own business? I quit and have never looked back. Here’s a timeline that makes the rest easy to follow.
2001: Quit my publishing job, started my coaching business
2003: Kept coaching, but also became an MTV hip-hop choreographer/producer
2005: Kept coaching, also became one of the world’s first Nike Elite Dance Athletes
2006: Kept coaching, wrote and self-published my book Make Every Man Want You
2006-2008: Created 4 top-selling fitness DVDs
2007–2008: Created my first digital training programs, sold my book to McGraw-Hill (now in 11 languages)
2009: Launched the first Rich Happy & Hot Mastermind, Virtual Coaching Program, and Live Event
2010: Tony Robbins interview released; started to experiment with video blogging, launched Rich Happy & Hot B-School (online business education & mentoring program)
2011: Flew to South Africa with Richard Branson to work with Virgin Unite, partnered with Urban Zen for RHH Live, launched MarieTV.com
Today: We’ve built a multi-million dollar company, our team has grown to 10, we have a community of over 50k women entrepreneurs and the sky is the limit.
Q: Who is a leader that you have great respect for and why?
A: I have incredible respect for one of my mentors, Richard Branson. We all know he’s a brilliant business person and philanthropist, but what impressed me most happened out of the spotlight, when I spent time with him in South Africa. I was there to work with Richard and Virgin Unite by mentoring young entrepreneurs at The Branson Center of Entrepreneurship. During our down time at his African retreat Ulusaba, Richard spent time just hanging out. Not once did take out his Blackberry. He was fully present, warm and open. He treated each and every person, from his guests to his staff, with the same level of respect and care.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase?
A: Hustle, have patience and don’t quit! If you have to take on side gigs to fund your business – DO IT. Focus on long-term success, not a short-term ego trip. It’s often hardest to persevere in the beginning, so don’t compare yourself to others. Stay focused on creating outstanding products and services for your customers and, most importantly, commit to mastering the tools of modern entrepreneurship: online marketing, content marketing and word-of-mouth via social media.
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating?
A: Being uncomfortable is fine. Staying ignorant is not. Most of us are never taught how to negotiate and it’s a vital skill for success. So rather than stress about it, take responsibility and learn. Study from the best. Read books, test tactics and get coaching from the best negotiators you can find. When it comes to asking for what you want, I’m with Wayne Gretzky. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: Our brand is one-of-a-kind for five key reasons:
Our heart and genuine desire to serve. We’re maniacal about customer service – whether you’re consuming our free content or investing in a paid training. Our market can feel how much we care about their success.
Collaboration with leading entrepreneurs and organizations to make an impact beyond profit. Richard Branson is a mentor and we work regularly with Virgin Unite to make business a force for good. Russell Simmons, hip-hop mogul and philanthropist, spoke at our Rich Happy & Hot LIVE event, held at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Center in New York City. We’ve built a well with charity: water and have an ongoing lending team with Kiva.org Through our Change Your Life, Change The World® program, every for profit program has a non-profit partner. Learn more here: http://marieforleo.com/giving-back/.
An overwhelmingly positive and highly engaged audience. Over 32K Twitter followers, 10K on Facebook and a global community of over 50K women in 108 countries who love to talk and connect on our blog.
Our passionate dedication to building truly creative, world-class products. We believe that business training and personal development should be hip, fun and gorgeous to engage with.
We show women how to fall in LOVE with marketing. Most women think marketing is slimy, sleazy and scammy and that mentality can put them out of business. We teach a modern approach that’s classy and personal. It’s about genuine understanding and connecting with your customers on an emotional and psychological level to help them lead better lives.
Q: Is there an example in your life of a time when others were against you or your dream, yet you persevered?
A: In my early twenties, I struggled because I had so many passions – business, marketing, spirituality, hip-hop dance, fitness and writing. Every conventional business and career book I read advised me to “choose one thing,” “focus” and find my “niche.” Each time I tried to choose just one area to focus on, I felt like I was cutting out a piece of my soul. It was frustrating and really painful because I felt like all my potential was locked up inside and time was passing me by. I finally said screw conventional wisdom and let myself pursue all my passions at once. That was a huge turning point – I became much happier and started making money. It taught me a big lesson that I teach everyone today: clarity comes from engagement, not thought. You’ll never figure out the big stuff in life in your head. I had to give myself permission to actively engage in everything I was passionate about to see and feel my way to my truth, and my future.
Q: Innovation requires creative thinking. How do you tap into the creative thinking resources within your business?
A: We get our best inspiration outside of our industry – from entertainment, fashion, travel and everyday life. Our team sends around music, videos, pictures and screen shots of things that inspire us. We’re very committed to having fun and have taken days off work to visit amusement parks or attend a charitable event we believe in. We also fill our creative well physically. Some of our best ideas come when we’re working out!
Q: What do you believe is the secret to finding the right person and maintaining a long term, good relationship?
A: I actually wrote a whole book, Make Every Man Want You: How To Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep From Dating Yourself! about this because it was such a pain point in my life. This book is a Trojan-horse because the title is all sass and attitude, yet it contains the secret to finding and maintaining long-term healthy relationships. That key is training yourself to be present and de-programming yourself from destructive and toxic beliefs you’ve unconsciously absorbed about love. Like anything worthwhile, lasting love requires an ongoing commitment to truth, communication and hard work.
Q: Oprah has that great section in her magazine “What I know for sure.” What do you know for sure?
A: One of the things that I know for sure is something I learned from my mom. Everything is figureoutable. No matter how big your dream is, or how challenging things get, if you stay focused and trust there is a way, you’ll find it. When you know in your heart that everything is figureoutable, you approach life with a sense of curiosity, hope, perseverance and faith. And that, is unstoppable.