Ten years since the publication of Let Love In, the international bestselling book continues to resonate with people all over the world. The book as all the makings of a classic – a timeless message and unabashed authenticity that comes from an author who is not afraid to get vulnerable on the pages just to help other people who are going through what she had gone through. That person is Debra Maldonado (formerly Berndt). In this episode, Debi joins her mentor, Robin Colucci to revisit her journey in creating a masterpiece that still helps real people today. We also get to have a preview of what Debi is working on, now that she has gone beyond the book’s initial success and taken her career to a whole new direction. This episode is a boatload of value bombs that any aspiring author would never want to miss.
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Let Love In: A Tenth Year Retrospective with Debra Maldonado
I’m excited about this episode, because one of the things that I have noticed when authors are talking about their books and the results that they’ve received from having their books in the world, it’s usually quickly after the book came out. When we’re hearing these stories about an author’s experience and how having a book in the world added value to their lives and business, we hear about what those shifts were in the first few months after release, maybe in the first year.
With this in mind, I have invited one of my former clients whose book was published in 2010. It was many years that her book came out. I invited her onto the show so that she could talk about what she has experienced as a result of having her book over the past many years and what is the growth that has occurred in her life, the changes that have happened, and how her life has been enriched as a result of having this book on multiple levels.
With this in mind, I am delighted to introduce to you Debra Maldonado, who is the author formerly known as Debi Berndt and is the CEO of Creative Mind Media. It’s a personal development and life coach training company that she founded with her husband, Robert Maldonado, who has a PhD in Psychology. Together, they have trained thousands of people across the world in their Creative Mind Method, a coaching system based on Jungian psychology, social neuroscience, and Eastern spirituality.
She is the author of the bestselling book, Let Love In: Open Your Heart and Mind to Attract Your Ideal Partner, which was published in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons. Debra has been featured in multiple news outlets, including ABC News, Fox News, NBC, Cosmopolitan Magazine, YourTango.com, Publishers Weekly, Playboy Radio, and the list goes on and on. Her mission is empowering women to create change in the world through the journey of individuation, the spiritual psychology of becoming your true self.
It is great to be here with you and having you as a guest on my show.
I am happy to be here.
It makes me think of many things, many shared experiences that we had early in both of our careers in this crazy world of coaching.
It started many years ago. Can you believe it? We still look as young as ever.
We aged very nicely. We look the same. The segment that we’re talking about here is the story behind the story. You and I did your book journey together. What is the first thing that you remember about our early conversations about your desire to do a book?
I was thinking about our conversation and us. You were the first real coach that I’ve ever had. I never had the experience of having a coach before. There are many new things with you. I had started my hypnotherapy practice. I was in the corporate world and left. I wanted to write a book and a friend of mine at a mastermind said, “I’m going to see my business coach.” I said, “A business coach, what is that?” We went to your house and you were showing your book that you were doing. I said, “I want to meet with you.”
I remember the very first meeting, we met at Starbucks and I asked, “What does a coach do?” You said, “There’s a chasm between where you are and where you want to be. I take you to build a bridge over that chasm.” I said, “I want to write a book.” You said, “I can help you do that.” I said, “I am not a good writer.” You said, “There’s a book out there called Everything Men Know About Women.” Do you remember that story? It’s all blank pages. You said, “That would become a bestseller. You don’t need to be a great writer, but bust that myth.” Working with you help me become a better writer. The whole process of taking a book from an idea into seeing it come to fruition when everyone else would say no, stretched me and developed me in many ways. You were there the whole way. It’s been the foundation of everything I have now.
I remember something because you’d been doing hypnotherapy for a while and you were a generalist, at that time. You did smoking cessation and weight loss. There was this other thing that you did that you were the most excited about. Why don’t you take it from there?
I tried to sell what I thought was going to make me money, but my heart was with love and I was single. I didn’t feel I had the credentials or the gumption to say, “I can help you find love. What about you? Can I write a book on love because I’m failing in this area?” I don’t know if this is where you’re going with this, but I was passionate about the topic of relationships and what stops people from finding love that it made me go deeper into that question.
Through the book, it almost became a personal development journey of transforming because before I even got the book deal, I met my true love. I always say, “You are my de facto and first love coach,” but I ended up finding love and everything else that came from that. When I met Rob, I started to believe, “There is something to what I know. I know more than I thought I knew, and I had the passion to share it with others.” Is that where you’re going with it?
I remember from our first conversation, you were already saying you wanted to write a book on finding the love of your life. You said, “I don’t have a boyfriend. I never had a relationship that lasted longer than a year. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t have a PhD.”
A lot of people said, “You’re a hypnotherapist.” Even a lot of my colleagues would say, “You don’t have the credentials to write a book.”
I said, “Have you helped other people?”
I was like, “That’s all you need. Who knows? Maybe by the time you get the agent, you’ll meet the guy.”
The reason I got the agent I did is because I told her my love story. She wrote me back and said, “I was inspired by your story that I want to get behind this book.” The whole idea of not being broken. This brokenness about love. If you’re single, you have to heal everything, there’s something wrong with you and all the things I struggled with. I ended up getting a psychologist as a husband. By affirmation, because I want a PhD, but I got it from a man.
What’s interesting about what you said is that it was the very thing that you were afraid would disqualify you, the struggles that you’d had with love, the setbacks, and all the mind trash that you had to leave. It turned out to be the thing that attracted the agent and landed you the book deal.
If you have ever struggled with anything, you’re the best person to talk about that subject because you’ve had to ask the deeper questions.
My clients over the years all said, “She’s been there.” They don’t want to trust someone who’s book smart and is going to tell you the attachment theory. “I have a relationship. I’m going to tell you how to have it.” They want to hear from someone who’s struggled and wrestled with the same things you did. I always felt like it was my diary that I was giving away to people. It’s intimate, but that’s what made the book successful and accessible to people is that this changed my life. My sister met her husband after she read the book. It’s magical how this all works. What you’re trying to say is that a lot of people come and they say, “Who am I to write a book? Who am I to be a teacher? What do I have to share?” I think if you struggled with anything, you’re the best subject to talk about that subject because you had to ask the deeper questions, you had to wrestle with it.
One thing that is interesting in what you’re sharing is that when you began the book project, you were not coming from a place of, “I have it all figured out. I’m the expert on the giant pedestal and all of you bow to me and follow my ways.” You were coming from a place of, “I’m in the trenches in some ways and I’ve been in the trenches.”
A lot of my personal story is in there and I’m working with clients. I remember thinking, “I helped many people find love, why isn’t this happening for me?” I found out that it resolved a lot of every woman’s problems with love. I figured out myself like a piece of every woman was in me. I was able to look at it from many different angles. That’s one thing about love and relationship books. What I see out there is a lot of women like, “I did this one thing and that changed everything.”
Everyone is not going to do that one thing. I wrote a letter to myself and tell myself, “I loved me,” and that worked. Everyone, you do it. The approach of, if you struggle with something, you have many different facets of where you’re struggling and where people struggle. Also, my experience working with many people getting to know their unconscious and what stops them. It was a beautiful journey. The book brought me love. I let love in.
One of the reasons why for us to do this interview is such perfect timing is we are coming up on the anniversary of the publication.
It was in February 2020.
In my mind, it was October 2020.
I got the deal in October, and eighteen months later.
I didn’t share this with you because I dug this up. Does this look familiar?
That was my book signing in March 2010.
That’s the two of us talking about your launch and your new release. I thought that would be fun to share with you.
It was fun to do all the book signings. We had a couple in New York City. We had one in Denver at the Tattered Cover. Many people are there. It was a surreal experience.
Your books did very well. It was on the top 100 relationship books for 2 or 3 years.
I get many people from all over the world. A publisher in India bought our books. I have a lot of fans in India. It was distributed internationally because it was published by Wiley, which everyone asked me, “How did you get a deal with Wiley?” The cool thing is I got the deal right before The Great Recession in 2008 and the publishing industry started to change. I had snuck in before the election and then everything started to fall apart right around that time. It was perfect timing for me. The amount of people is incredible. I talked to someone when we were doing our training program and she said, “I read your book and I met my husband. It changed my life.” All these people you never get to meet, but the book helps you replicate your wisdom and distribute it to people that normally you wouldn’t reach one-on-one. It’s cool to hear people out of the blue saying like, “I read your book five years ago.”
One of the reasons why I’m excited to have you talking about your journey is because it is rare that we get to read from an author many years after the book came out. Usually, when an author is interviewed about a book, it’s within months of the release or it may be a couple of years. I’d love to have you share about what’s happened in your life since you met your husband. I know a lot of other things have changed. I’d love to have you share some of the things that stand out for you in terms of what your life looks like now versus before the book came out.
Before the book came out, when you were coaching me, I was living in a basement of a house in Washington Park, Denver, paying $400 a month rent and I thought, “Can I make the rent this month? I was just starting my business.” Thanks to you, we brought it up to six figures quickly, having private sessions as a hypnotherapist. Rob got his doctorate. He was getting his residency at one of the medical centers there. I moved to New York. I had to start over. That’s when I started expanding and doing things online versus in person. Over the years, I would say that that book that I worked on with you has brought me easily over $10 million in income.
It’s afforded me to live in Hermosa Beach, California, the 70–degree weather, except it’s smoky here. I can see the ocean from my office’s window. If I took the blinds up, the Pacific Ocean, palm trees, and I live with the love of my life. I get to work with people all over the world and it all started from that one idea. The book is more than just a book. It gave me that. It’s the process of growth I went through to make that book happen and things I had to stretch. I remember the first time, I said, “I want to do some TV interviews before we were getting the book published. I said, “I shouldn’t send for press release out. It’s Friday. They’re not going to read it. It should go on Tuesday.”
You said, “Debi, send it now.” I sent it, and within 24 hours, I was called by three stations in Denver and got interviewed. I got to experience that nervousness of being on television and being interviewed. I’ve been interviewed on TV all over. These little things that having a book or having that stretch you to have more experiences and be able to do things that scare you, that you never thought you can do. It’s exciting.
You ended up getting a regular segment on one of those shows.
In Denver, one month every Saturday for almost two years, and then we moved to New York. Every once in a while, I flew back. I started doing PR in New York and I was on Fox News, their online news thing. One girl read my book and loved it. She wanted to put me on segments all the time. I did some for NBC and some affiliates down in DC and New York. I did the Eastern seaboard. It was fun. Rob and his mom came one time and they sat in the green room while I went on. It was fun. He’s like, “She’s a celebrity.”
What you’re saying is true. One of the things that I say when I speak about authorship is that the book is like a diploma. It’s evidence that you went through a process and transformation. The transformation happens in the process. The book is collecting your diploma and holding it up.
It’s like the Oscar after you’re done with all the work.
All the acting lessons, rehearsals, and everything on the cutting room. That’s what authoring is. Where you become a better authority is in the exploration and the writing.
There’s also something thrilling about going into a bookstore and seeing your book on a shelf. It seems odd. A friend of mine from high school, when the book first came out, she goes, “I was looking through the books and I saw Debra Berndt.” She’s all excited. “I know her. I went to high school with her.” There are all these fun parts of it too. You get this credential that you didn’t have before.
When we think back to the process itself, what did you find to be the greatest challenge?
It was that the belief I can make it happen. I believe in myself, like we talked about, the idea that, do I have the credentials or do I have the knowledge to write a book like this? Do I know enough about love to create a book like this? What you did when I worked with you is help me structure everything and put everything where it needed to go and writing a proposal. I had no idea what to do, helping me get interviews and telling me to write articles and building my list and all the things that most people don’t know is involved in writing a book. It’s more than writing a great book. It’s all the business part of it and the marketing. Before I worked with you, the biggest challenge was, “Can I do this and how do I do this? How do I make this happen?” That bridge that you say, you built with me. We built it together. You’re only as good as your best clients.
It helps to have a client who does their homework.
That’s important. You can hire Robin, but if you’re not going to do the work, it’s not going to work. She can’t guarantee it’s going to work for you unless you do what you’re told. No one’s going to wave a magic wand for you. You have to do the work. A lot of it is more internal battling with yourself of what are people going to think and, “Is this going to sound stupid?” The night before the book was out in the bookstores, I was having a little panic attack like, “All my dating stories are in this book and everyone’s going to read it.” That being exposed a little bit. We all writers or creative people have that fear. You need someone who understands that and also can work with you through that. It’s not just the mechanics of writing a book, but who do you have to become to allow it to be genuine? You could write a book that you’re hiding everything or you’re revealing deeper parts of yourself.
The big key to the success of your book is how you were willing to be vulnerable with your readers.
I don’t think Rob read it like he wanted to.
I don’t think there were many dating stories about Rob, though.
I don’t think he wanted to hear the other verse. My mom, aunt, uncles, and cousins reading it. They all came to my book signing in New York and Rob was amazed. He was like, “Look at all these people.” I’m standing up in front of these family members, my old tribe that sees me as like this little Debi, and here I am this author. It was weird. I was a different person to them. It was cool. They were all proud of me and supportive. It’s the opposite of what you think. A lot of people think, “No one’s going to support me. They’re looking for me to fail. They’re going to tell me it’s stupid.” All the things that your mind tells you that you can’t do it.
Most of us don’t want our mom to know all of our dating stories.
It was G and PG, but definitely not at XX.
I think something interesting because what I noticed comes up a lot for authors as a concern is more about what the people they know will think, the readership at large and they have to reflect similar concerns.
There were many people that I was worried about what they will think, like my friends. At my book signing in Denver, I had many of my friends. I spent many of my single years there as you know. All my single friends are there. The first thing I said was, “I’m standing up here and you’re wondering, ‘What does Debi know about dating? She’s terrible at it.’” They say, there is never a skilled sailor on a stormy sea. I made light of it and said, “I know you guys are all thinking, ‘What does Debi know about love?’” It turns out a lot. I know a lot about love. It’s rewarding that people tell me their love stories, about how that book helped them. I said, “If I can help one person with this book, I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.” That’s all you think about it. It’s that one person. If you can change one person’s life with your book, you’ve done your job. Is it worth it? Yes. You changed the course of someone’s life.
If you can change one person’s life with your book, you’ve done your job.
You’ve changed many more, even people who’ve reached out to you.
Many people told me they read my book and two weeks later looked at their partner. One of my friends sent me an email after the book signing, and she said, “My friend of ten years, he’s been in love with me. I didn’t realize the love of my life was right next to me for ten years.” They’re still together. I saw her twenty years later because it’s opened up something in her mind. My sister met her husband twenty months later. Many people are like, “I’ve read your book and then I met my husband. I knew everything that I need to know.” It does work with the unconscious as you read it.
It speaks directly to the deeper self. I had courses I did after it, and that’s where the money comes from. You’re not going to make a million dollars from the book if you go with a publisher because you get little royalty, but then you leverage the book to build your business and do consulting or coaching. Me meeting amazing people all over the world and then clients and they want to coach with you and pay top dollar because you’re an author. It does lend itself to a nice lucrative second income.
Let’s talk a little bit about even after that because now you’ve done some pivoting and evolution in your business. Tell our readers a little bit about that because there are some interesting facts.
Which is going to lead to my second book, because when writing a book, it’s where you are right now. You are going to evolve. The next book is the next evolution of you or where you were going next. When I first wrote the book, I was a hypnotherapist and I knew at a certain level of my evolution. I met Robin. We started working with Jungian psychology and deeper levels of the unconscious and more advanced work. I’m like, “I need another book.” The business pivoted too because we’re not doing just love anymore. We’re training coaches. We’re taking what I wrote in that book, a lot of the concepts and training coaches. Now, we have a certification. I need to write another book to match where we are now. It’s that evolution I’ve been working on what it’s going to be. It’s cool to see that now there’s even more in your book. Even as it is, it’s a great book and then you’ll have another level of people you can work with as you evolve.
That speaks to another concern that I hear a lot of people come into this conversation with, which is this whole idea of the book is fixed at a particular moment and what happens as they evolve. There’s almost this fear of like, “I’m expected to know everything as an author.”
A lot of people ask me, “What about your book? You’re talking about this in your book.” I said, “I wrote that many years ago. I’ve grown since then and thank God, I’m not hanging on.” There are people that have written their book in 1960 and they’re still teaching the same stuff. A great author reinvents herself all the time. It doesn’t mean that the other thing is discounted, it’s a different stage. There are people that get a lot out of my books still. They’re not ready for where I am now. They have to go through this to get to this level.
It’s like a yoga class. You can do level one or level two, “Are you ready to do the handstand yet?” “No. Let me do the downward dog. It’s easy. Let me get used myself into this.” A lot of people that read Let Love In were beginners and self-help. Maybe it’s the first personal growth book they read. It’s perfect for those people and then other people are like, “This is great, but I want more.” That’s where we’re training people now in a deeper way to work. I never get into dreamwork in that book, archetypal work and all that other fun stuff that happens in the unconscious. It doesn’t negate what we did before. It’s a different stage.
It’s working for people. We’re still working on it.
I still get clients that are coaching with me in the new process, but they’re saying, “Your book is great. It doesn’t feel like it’s at a sink, it’s still relatable.” Sometimes I’ll pick it up and read it and say, “That was profound. I can’t believe I wrote this.” I’m biased like, “This is a good book.” It helps to have a good editor to help you bring that out. One of the challenges is I did not have formal training in writing. I took college classes in writing, but I didn’t feel like I was a professional writer. A lot of people will probably think, “How am I going to write a book? I don’t know how to write a book.” Having a good editor and a good coach, you become a better writer. You improve that. It’s such an incredible skill to have because writing blogs, marketing copy, emails and all those things that you have to do for your business is much easier if you have that skill. You’re getting a skill that you can use in other areas.
Once you’ve done the heavy lifting of a full–length book, an email or a blog post doesn’t appeal quite so monumental.
I have to tell you an interesting challenge I experienced while I got the book deal. It was 2008 when the whole thing happened. In October, I signed the deal and they said, “We want you to have it by the end of February or January, right after the New Year.” It was the year Barack Obama won for the first time in 2008. That election night, remember how late everyone was up? It was late. My dad was admitted to the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer. The next week we found out it was acute leukemia, which means that he had to go and stay in the hospital for months over the holidays and get intensive chemo.
It was like out of the blue because he was healthy. My book is due in eight weeks. I told my agent, “I want to let you know what’s going on.” She’s like, “Do you think you’ll be able to do it?” I said, “I’m going to try.” Writing that book during those three months, while my dad was going through chemo, I did see him and do all those things. He lived out of state, but it gave my mind something to do. I wasn’t ruminating on worry for all that time. It served another divine purpose for me, to keep me moving while there’s another huge distraction, but not many people would do what I did. A lot of people would use it as an excuse to say, “I can’t focus on this right now.”
Those of you who want to write a book and want to hire Robin, you’re going to have excuses come up. You’re going to have things happen. People get sick. If you let that stop you, you’re never going to reach your dreams. You’re never going to go. It was amazing how I can compartmentalize, called family members, deal with what was going on, but then focus on the book. I had that goal and I was committed to it. That’s important. I know writers always have these, “I don’t feel like writing right now. I feel like I need to meditate a little bit more.” They put off what they want to do. Don’t let anything stop you. The whole process is going to be things that show up that will tempt you to stop.
Something that you said there is so important that it helped you get through that period.
It was like, “It gave me something to do. It gave me something to focus on that was positive while I’m going through this horrendous experience.” My father came to my book signing. It was fun. He said he brought his boat brochures so he can pick out the boat that he’s going to buy with all the money I’m going to make. He drove up eight hours after he recovered and he was there for there. It was such an incredible experience. Before he died, he ended up passing away two years later.
My father never speaks about how proud he was of me. He was quiet. At his funeral, everyone came up saying, “Debra, you’re the one who wrote the book. He was proud of you. All he talked about was, ‘My daughter, the author.’” Even your family members don’t tell you directly, they do feel that. That book gave me so much of my life. It gave me my love, growth, a million-dollar business, and also, this connection I had with my father that I couldn’t have had to be able to have him feel proud of me and see what I’ve done. It’s wonderful.
If you’d stopped and postponed, he might not have seen it.
Who knows with the way the economy was going, Wiley could have pulled out of the deal. If I didn’t deliver, they would have said, “We’re done,” but we had the deal. They had to go through with it. Right after that, they cut off all future deals. It was almost like I was forced to do it. It was either do it or you’re going to lose it. It gave me so much and something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl is to write a book. When you said you could help me, I was like, “Where do I sign up?” I couldn’t afford you at the time, which you were cheap at that time. I was like, “How can I afford this?” I wanted it so bad that I did it.
What’s interesting is you did not balk. You were not, “I don’t know.” You were like, “Okay.”
Everything I do, I come committed to, when I commit to it. I’m not the type and you have to either become committed or if you’re committed, you are going to do well. You could stick to something. It’s a long game. It’s not write a book, published, and then you’re a superstar. You have to play the long game for this to work for you. You can’t get scared by the distractions.
Sometimes distractions show up to see how committed we are.
It was such a journey and the journey was worth it more than everything else I got from it. The journey itself is like challenging yourself to do something you’ve never done.
What advice would you give somebody who’s at the very beginning of this journey and/or contemplating? As you said, there are many questions. Before we go to the advice, what do you think is the most important question for somebody contemplating a book, going for a book deal?
The most important question is, why do you want to write the book and why are you the person to write this book? For me, I thought, “Once I get the book, I’m going to have tons of money come in and I’ll be on Oprah. It’s like a lottery card. I’m going to win the lottery if I get the book published.” You have to be clear. One thing I asked myself is, “Do I want a publisher or do I want to self-publish?” That goes back to why and how soon do I want to write the book? How soon do I want to get it out? How can I use that book? That’s the one thing I missed.
I used it for my business, but I think I could have had a better strategy around it. Looking back, there are many things I could’ve done differently, but what’s the strategy around releasing the book? How do we use that book for other revenue, not just sell the book and be famous? How can we make this be a part of the business and what’s the big picture? You write a book that you want to write. It’s important not to write a book to make money or to write a book for your business.
You see those books out there or these business coaches are like, “You can do it,” with their thumbs up and go like, “Seven figures.” It’s hypey and it’s more egotistical like, “Look at me. I wrote a book. Look how great I am.” It’s not well-written. You are like, “Do I want to write a great book? Does the person I’m working with have experience in journalism and real writing, not Becky the business coach who knows how to do a funnel and now she can tell you how to write a book about funnels.”
There are many self–published books out there that you read them and you know that the person that helped them didn’t have the guidance like you have, a background in journalism. You understand the structure of a sentence, book structure, ideas and things like that. That’s important and we can’t discount that because people feel that quality. They feel as if you’re selling them. I read a lot of books, that coaches probably self-publish.
It’s a lot of salesy, like they’re writing a book like they would write an email to someone. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced one of those and you’re like, “This sounds like a website. It’s too conversational. There’s no structure.” It might sound great and motivational, but if you want it to be quality, people can feel it. When you read something and it has that structure to it unconsciously, your ego and mind feel a little more like, “This is real. It’s not as fluffy.” I don’t know how to explain it any better, but it’s like getting someone who knows writing.
It’s not just writing, because when you’re talking about self–publishers, which we still work with. At this point, we’re doing 80% traditional and about 20% self–publishing. I look at it in my philosophy that the reader should not be able to tell the difference. The reader‘s experience of that book should be the quality of a traditionally published book. Every aspect of it, the content being number one, but even the design and layout, some people published books, the text goes too deep into the middle of the book where the gutter is or the cover looks like it was designed like the author made it themselves. It screams, “I cut corners. I don’t know what I’m doing.” This is not a traditionally published book. Aside from the prestige issue, and this is what I wanted to share because this is so connected not only to what you’re saying but in a way to your work. It sends a subconscious signal to the reader that there’s something off here. The problem is they don’t know the layout, how a sentence is supposed and they don’t know anything about writing.
They’ve read many other traditionally published books that’s used to it.
They sense something is off and guess what they think the problem is?
The author. This reminds me of that story at Malcolm Gladwell in Blink where the guy was the curator. He was like, “This is a fake.” He couldn’t figure out what it was. He said, unconsciously, he’s looked at many different sculptors. It turned out the stone wasn’t in that area. It was something random that he consciously wouldn’t know. I also think too, when you’re talking about that, and we talk about why, the mind girl. If you’re writing a book to make money, people will feel it. If you’re writing a book to impress people, people will feel it. If you’re writing because you love this topic and want to share, people will feel it.
You have to be careful. That’s why I say, you have to know why. You have to get an expert who knows how to write, and you have to have a plan for the book. You can’t say, “I’m going to sell a million books and sit on a beach in Cabo,” or “I’m going to be on Oprah.” Those are what everyone’s dream is. When I was working with you, Oprah was still on. I was like, “I’m going to be on Oprah, the overnight success.” Big surprise, Oprah hasn’t called yet. I lived in Santa Barbara for a while and she lived a mile from me. Rob and I were in a restaurant one night. My back was to the door. I said, “I think the next step for me is to be on SuperSoul Sunday.” He said, “I guess it might happen.” That’s it synchronicity and I’m like, “Why?” He goes, “Look who walked in.” Oprah had walked in the door. I thought, “That’s my next book. My goal.”
You don’t want to do it to be on Oprah. A part of me in the early years was like, “I want to be famous. I want to be on television.” I also had the part of me that wanted to change. Being an author, a lot of them are probably very introverted. It is probably a challenge to put yourself out there and market yourself because you have to market your book and be on television. It’s about you making sure you’re willing to do that and practicing all those things.
Did you describe yourself as an introvert?
I’m a total introvert. I forced myself to be an extrovert. I have a part of myself that’s extroverted. I’m balanced, but I’m 70% introverted, maybe 30% extroverted. I can turn it on. I prefer small groups, small space and not a lot of attention.
I’m the same way, but I chose a career where I can much get away with it.
Me too. I’m on the internet all the time and on videos.
I’m helping other people get in the spotlight.
If you’re an introverted author, you can do it and it helps you grow. I remember when you and I first practiced me being on TV the first time, you told me to sit in front of the camera and told this advice to someone. You say, “Practice filming yourself so you can desensitize yourself. I want you to be so boring, say the same thing and be over the top excited. Do a third one where you’re in the middle.” It was such a great direction for me.
It’s fun to hear the things you remember and then have it triggered my memories and all the things I remember that you didn’t remember.
It’s a partnership when you work with someone like you. Many years later, we still know each other, we keep in touch and you were there at the beginning.
You’ve been there for me when I had that very difficult time and fell in love with the wrong person.
I know what that’s like. I’m an expert in falling in love with the wrong person. You were like, “Who do I go to? Debi. She falls in love with the wrong person all the time. She knows exactly what to do.”
You did rent your townhouse to me because you had moved to New York. My credit had been destroyed by that time because I had fronted him the opportunity. I will never forget that you trusted me and enabled me to have a nice place to live while I got things sorted out.
I’ve referred you people, our little tribe of friends and we had our little radio show.
I want to bring that up because that’s fun. That’s what I was thinking of when we were starting the show. I was like, “This is interesting,” because one of the things that we did was we were all involved in this internet radio station before podcasting existed.
Before live streaming and Facebook. When I was coaching with you, there was no Facebook. I don’t know how single people deal with Facebook like these young people. Looking at people you’re dating and who they’re with now and everything’s public and very strange.
If I had started my podcast when podcasting first became possible, I’d be the queen of the world. It was early. It was a wide-open blue ocean.
It was a great practice. I interviewed Marie Forleo on my show. I had these big authors on the show because I had my books. I was like, “I’m not going to let love in.” It was a hypnotic dating show.
She was just getting started.
She was a little farther along. She had her book, Make Every Man Want You.
She hadn’t gotten into the B-School or any of that yet.
No. She was doing something like Rich, Happy and Hot program. It was before B-School. She was starting to talk to about that. I went through my own blog that I’ve had for many years and I see Marie Forleo. I interview her many years ago. All these people you get to meet. You get people that are famous reading your book and saying, “I read your book.”
Who complemented your book that you were like the most blown away in terms of their place in the world?
I can’t say their name because it’s confidential. People that I never thought would think of me as an expert. These people that have an advanced degree, doctors and all these professional women have big companies and they’re like, “I read your book.” I’m like, “You’re like a billionaire. I get to help you.”
That is something about books as a medium that I think is unique and special. The fact that it’s a great equalizer in a way because anybody can afford to buy a book. You can touch people all across the spectrum of every dynamic and demographic that you could imagine.
In India, I have a big fan base. They can’t afford my private coaching, but they can buy the book and use the visualizations. I put visualizations of the book and then, later on, I started selling the pack for $100. There are always ways to upsell and help people. It’s been very rewarding and fun. It all started with you. I had the idea and I was introduced to you. I remember you were working on your Hearts Paper Scissors. You were so excited about what you were doing and you told me, “You’ve got to go to this conference and meet these agents.”
I coached you on the writer’s conference.
That’s where I met my agent. I still keep in touch with them. They’re always reaching out saying, “Are you ready for your next book?”
What do you think, when is your next book?
I have to decide what topic. I’m still going back for it. I wrote almost a whole book that I was going to self-publish. It’s like a small little book. I might go ahead and finish it up. I want to write a book about femininity and power, not feminine power, like the traditional sense. How do we become our true selves as women in the world? It’s the inner growth versus doing things activism. That’s great, but who are you becoming and how do we connect to something deeper within us? The world needs our soul. I’m waiting for my why. I don’t want to write a book that fits in with our business.
That’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years is drafting things. Sometimes you have to wait until you’re set in your mind and you know with the why and then it starts to flow. That’s what I’m wrestling with now. We’re building our team out bigger. I think once I get some key positions in place, I’ll have more time to focus on it. I’m not complaining about too much business. I’m not bored. That’s for sure.
When you say too about the why, it’s so vital, not only for getting started, but it’s also what helps you get over those times that you were talking about when the distractions show up. Did you find yourself reconnecting to the why? Is this part of what kept you going?
I met Robin in 2005 and I got a book deal in 2008. When I met Rob, it made me realize, “What I’m doing and what I’m teaching, it does work.” I know how much pain and heartbreak I had in my life. It’s like it has to be written. I have to give people an alternative to what’s out there and these dating tips. It’s like acting in a certain way, being fake and counting the hours until you text back. With all this texting and people aren’t even talking and having a conversation anymore, they’re texting back and I’m like, “Did you talk to this person yet?” “No, we’ve been texting for three months.”
I’m like, “How do you get to know someone over a text?” That whole be fake and get your makeover. It didn’t resonate with me. I wanted to talk to women, especially who have been out there for a while and a lot of women that I work with are very professional. They’re successful. They’re together. They don’t need therapy. They need to know how to work with their mind. What’s going on? Why are they stopping themselves? Believe in themselves again and believe that they’re the prize, as I always say.
I do remember you, you talked much about your frustration with all these programs that were like, “This is the formula.” I remember you saying like, “That gets you someone who’s in love with someone who looks like the formula. They’re going to realize they’re dating you. If it’s nothing like the formula, it’s not going to work.”
Some of them teach you, “You have to keep playing hard to get play.” That’s their whole strategy. It’s like when you’re married and you’re going to be like, “You have to speak to me first. I can’t talk to you.” That whole idea. The human psyche is complex. Each one of us is unique. If we distill ourselves in a formula, as for love, love is this active force within us. We have to get intimate with ourselves. It’s not anything about the action. I made every mistake that they would tell you in a dating book with Rob, but it was right. He gave me a poem on our second date.
They said, “Red flag. He’s too desperate.” I was like, “I’m ready.” You have to get to know who you are so you see that that other person is only a reflection of how intimate you want to be with yourself. It’s going to be that relationship out there. That’s what I love about the new work we do with the shadow work because it’s not like finding the right guy. It’s understanding yourself so you know who the right guy is right away. You know you’re seeing yourself in them. The things you love about yourself and the things you reject about yourself are going to show up in that person. It’s not just looking for that perfect persona and a guy who’s going to follow all the tick boxes. It’s something more organic. We’re all different. We all fit together in different pieces differently. We’ve got to find what your piece is and how that works. That’s the why. It’s giving people an alternative.
Some people told me that when they read my book the first time, they felt hope. The editor at Wiley said, “Most books tell you what you’re doing wrong. Your book is telling them this is why things are going wrong and how you can change it.” If you look at the dating relationship, “You’re doing this wrong. You’re doing that wrong. These are deadly dating mistakes. These are red flags. You’re not keeping your boundaries. You’re doing it all wrong. You’re scaring them away. You’re too desperate. You’re not thin enough.” It’s important that people have an alternative. If you’re writing a book, think about what’s out there and what story hasn’t been told yet, instead of writing a carbon copy of what other people have done.
That’s key to the success and to getting a book deal, because as the great Michael Larson says in his book, “No one wants to publish the second book of anything.”
Even writing the proposal, “Why is this book different than the other books?” Do a competitive analysis. “Why is this complementary to a book that maybe had been successful? How is it like that, but different?” That’s what you want to do.
What’s a final thought on the story behind the story that you would like to leave us with?
A great author reinvents herself all the time.
The story is that you have to be dedicated to that vision of writing that book and not let anything stop you. Get all the experts, don’t go cheap. Find the best because it’s going to be worth it in the long run. If I would have gone the cheap route, I might not have had the success I’ve had. In order to have great things, you have to invest in people who are experts, like you, someone to help you. If it’s that important to you, why would you play cheap with your dream? You have to be willing to follow through. The person that you hire isn’t going to be your magic key. You have to be part of that magic. You are the key. They’re helping you and direct you in the way.
I was trying to do the ROI for what you invested and compare that to $10 million. It’s good.
I’m not going to share what your fees are back then because people are going to be like, “Can I have that deal?”
Even at my current fees, it’s still a hell of an ROI. It’s all good.
What’s the price of having your life, doing what you love, sharing a message, having someone at your parent’s funeral, friends of your parents saying how proud they were of you, looking back and go, “Look what I created.” Those are priceless. The money is on the cream on the top. Who you become in the process is the prize.
That is the punctuated thought because it is about who you become in the process. When we think of the term author and it does carry that gravitas and extra weight. It’s not because you have a book in your hand, it’s because of the process. As you eloquently said, “Who you become while you’re writing the book and going through the whole thing, including allowing it into the world.”
Be dedicated to your vision. Never let anything stop you.
I am forever grateful for you, like people are grateful for me, for writing the book. It passes on. We need to inspire each other. You can’t do this on an island. You need other people to help you reach your dreams. It’s okay to ask for help and support. I’ve known many people that keep telling me, “I’m going to write a book one day.” Thank you, Robin, for everything.
Thank you for being here and sharing your story. I know that there are many nuggets for our readers.
Thank you. It’s been great spending time with you.
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