Marie Forleo, influential entrepreneur and online personality, helps people dream big.
“I often say if Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Oprah and Jay-Z had a love child, it would be me,” she writes on her site. “That’s because I’m part business strategist, part marketing maven and part spiritual ass-kicker with a side of hip-hop swagger.”
Forleo was named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation, aiming to help entrepreneurs with “tips to create a business and life you love.” She is a master of personal branding, having created the award-winning online show MarieTV, which boasts more than 230,000 subscribers. She is also the founder of B-School (as in Business-School) and has mentored young entrepreneurs in the “art of creative hustle” at Richard Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship. The girl’s got business chops.
Her brand first gained momentum after she was interviewed by Tony Robbins in 2011, and she reached celebrity status after appearing on Oprah in 2012. But she’s been at it for 17 years—her success didn’t happen overnight.
In this episode of The Pursuit, Kelsey Humphreys talks with Marie Forleo about the lessons she’s learned along the way, how she built not only a successful business but a fulfilling life—and how you can, too.
1. Take action.
Feeling unsure or stuck? Get out of your head and do something, Forleo says.
“When I first got out of college on Wall Street—the New York Stock Exchange—I was enamored… but I felt intuitively that was not where I was supposed to be,” she says. “And the panic set in, because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to do. [So] I went on a bit of an odyssey to try to figure out, What am I supposed to do in this world? I knew I wanted to make a difference; I also knew I didn’t want to necessarily have a cap on my income.”
So she decided to experience multiple careers hands-on—that’s when she worked in publishing, dabbled as a Nike elite trainer and was even the face of a few dance workout videos. “I really went into pursuing different passions with eyes wide open… I made a conscious choice that I just wanted to experience them—I wanted to understand them from the inside out.”
Forleo insists action, not thought, produces clarity. If you’re asking, Is this the right career for me? Engage. Experience. Get your foot in the door. That can inform whether or not you should move ahead. “Stop talking to yourself in your head and do something,” she says.
2. Take care of your calling.
It was when she stumbled upon an article about life coaching that knew she’d found the perfect blend of creativity and business. “The logical part of my brain that is a reasonable human said, Are you crazy? Who’s going to hire a 23-year-old life coach? But I couldn’t deny the deeper part of me in my heart and my soul knew this was something I needed to pursue.”
So at 23, Forleo knew she’d found her calling. But it would be years before that calling paid the bills. For seven years, she worked side jobs while building her business. “For me, it was not expecting my little baby business to pay the bills,” she says. “It was completely having an income outside of that, and while it was extremely modest (I was eating a lot of mac and cheese and ramen noodles), it was just not expecting this brand new thing to just take care of me.”
Be patient. Be willing to be small and scrappy.
3. Stay present.
Driven, ambitious types tend to focus on achieving a goal, only to set another goal and another. Forleo realized early on that, if left unchecked, a goal-centric life can lead to unhappiness, constantly feeling behind. Find a way to enjoy the journey, because the reality is that life is short.
“If you show up in every moment like you’re fully meant to be there, everything else works out, everything else is incredibly satisfying,” she says. “You can always feel like you’re failing or you’re falling behind, or you can say, How can I be as fully present in this moment and have so much fun and squeeze every drop out of my life? knowing it’s not going to last that long.”
“To feel any sort of consistent angst like you’re not good enough or you’re not there yet is such a disrespect to this precious life that we have.”
4. Trust your gut.
Forleo leads her business with her heart. One reason behind her massive success is that she started teaching others to do the same, at a time when the entrepreneurship space was void of the “purpose in business” concept. Her advice? Be secure in your own inner voice.
“Listen to your gut and your heart, because no matter what any expert tells you—your wisdom inside needs to be paramount, it needs to always drive all of your decisions,” she says. “That takes practice, but it’s important.”