Lessons from Marie Forleo

Last night, my friend and small business owner Pria Chouhan went to the Marie Forleo Presents the Everything Is Figureoutable Experience at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The motivational speaker and coach is currently on a tour promoting her newest book. Guests were greeted by impossibly handsome male models and plucky staff who were trained to engender enthusiasm from the time we entered the metal detectors at security.

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Each tour on the stop is billed as an ‘experience.’ Part rock concert, replete with hip hop dancers, (Forleo was a Nike dance athlete in a previous avatar. ) An oversized screen played a rather tangential video that was a nod to the speaker’s Italian heritage. And part TedTalk as the author and motivational speaker took the stage and spoke for about 60 minutes in her signature funky and accessible style about achieving our goals and desires.

Forleo’s inspiration is her mother, a woman who had the knack for figuring out everything from tiling the bathroom to fixing the roof, with only a high school education. During her talk, she cited the time she asked her mother how she knew how to do so many things. Forleo’s mom replied,”Nothing is that complicated. Everything is figureoutable.” Thus, the title of Forleo’s book and her no-holds-barred approach to her talk last night. She shed a spotlight on how we make choices in life and encouraged us to become more honest with why we make them. “I can’t usually means, I won’t” said Forleo. “Do yourself a favor, and at least be honest with yourself.”

My favorite part was Forleo’s visualization exercise at the end of her talk. She asked the audience to stand up, close their eyes and picture the one thing we individually wished to come true. I am writing my memoir. I pictured myself reading excerpts from the book in bookshops in Paris, Belarus and Milwaukee. I also pictured my New York City brownstone, with a black granite top kitchen with cherry window-paned cabinetry, wine fridge, and open format. I pictured my walk-in closet with razor-thin stacked drawers, and buttercream Benjamin Moore walls, and the cute puppy who jumps on my lap. In the spirit of Tony Robbins, she asked the audience to anchor this visual into our systems, with loud screams of joy and subsequent dancing.

I’m of two minds with the ‘experience.’ I didn’t need the rock concert hip hop dancers. I would have been just fine with the Brene Brown brand of “Dare to Lead” straight talk on stage. Forleo started her now popular Marie TV with her talking straight to a web cam and I would have been fine with that approach.

But I get the over-top-ness as a marketing trope. There is so much noise in the market right now, it’s tough to break through. In fact, my business coach challenged me on the phone yesterday to anchor each piece of education I offer at LadyDrinks with entertainment. So I get the reasoning behind the bells and whistles of a production like this

Today, Forleo has a business coaching practice that has become a multi-million dollar enterprise. She asks the audience in a Super Soul Sunday talk that is a preview for tonight, “What would you create? Who would you become? If everything was figureoutable?”

Here are a few tips I’ve learned by watching Marie Forleo and what I’m doing in tandem to build my business LadyDrinks.

  1. She is always letting folks know about her brand, and what it represents. Her company focuses on small business and personal development training for women entrepreneurs, but she has always presented the material in a hip, fun, and jazzy way. My brand, LadyDrinks, supports South Asian women executives. I create out of the box networking experiences and leverage my 20 years as a business journalists to book compelling guests to speak at events.
  2. She shares her expertise–and for free! to create opportunity. As most experts do, she shares her knowledge and interviews with experts on Youtube for free. It builds trust and attachment to her brand. I used to knowledge share in person or in my weekly newsletter. Now I’m committed to a daily share on LinkedIn and other social media, either in video or written word. I’ve enjoyed the speaking opportunities that have resulted from it.
  3. She constantly talks about her business–and reaches people on an emotional level. Anytime, anyone reaches out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn, or I meet them in person, I tee up that I run a network for South Asian women executives and host events in order to drive the movement. Friday, I hosted an event, and I was so touched by how many of the regular attendees, BROUGHT other folks with them. The folks who are current clients are your best evangelists. The event was a private tour of the Met for NY Fashion Week. Several commented afterwards that the museum is in their backyard, but a tour like this highlighted things they might have walked by and never seen. It struck an emotional chord.
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