5 Seconds to Change Your Life with Mel Robbins
Hey everybody, how's it going? I'm Chase Jarvis. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live show here on Creative Live. You guys know this show. This is where I sit down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and I do my very best to unpack their brains and help you live your dreams in career and hobby and in life. My guest today is the most booked female speaker in the world, former radio host that's not doing radio anymore. You can hear her, don't look over there yet. And she's the author of a couple of books, most recently The Five Second Rule. She's got a TED Talk with 10 million views. My guest is the Mel Robbins.
Hey, I'm hugging you!
Awesome, awesome. (upbeat music)
Welcome to Creative Live, you're doing your thing tomorrow.
I got you first though, right here on the show!
Welcome to the show.
Thank you for taping in black and white. That's wonderful for women 'cause we don't have to worry about the makeup...
People have asked me, so the black and white thing, it started...
Yeah, why the hell do you do that?
Okay, so my background is as a photographer,
I stalked you.
and a filmmaker, and one of the things that I realized in my long, illustrious career as a photographer is that just generally things look better in black and white. So that was the thing. More particularly, it is a reductive element, it takes a lot of the distraction out. Like colors, and all these different tonals are arguably a distraction, and I want people to focus on the conversation, just the two humans. So the fact that it is reductive and simplifies things, the fact that it makes everybody look 25% better, and the fact that you can put all kinds of different lights and you can film next to a window, and the temperature of this light is going to be the same as the window, and it just made it very easy. So all those thing together made it black and white. Seven years ago when the show started, there were no other such shows on the internet, it was the first of its kind, and it helped define it.
I don't know of another black and white talk show.
There you go.
Seriously, I don't. And so I did wear a lighter brown so I wouldn't be just a floating head, 'cause if I wore all black, that would be a problem.
Look at this, I haven't learned much from my own format.
Well you've got arms, so you're fine.
That's true, I have arms. So that's a little background of the show, but it's like we're really emphasizing the audio portion of it, which is something I want to talk to you about, obviously with the radio. So it's really moved more into podcast, but it used to be filmed only live. We had an in studio audience of usually 100 or so people, and that just got a little heavy. Now I'm doing this thing every week. Used to be once a month, and now it's every week. So that's a little back story.
So do you take the audio of this and make that a podcast?
Syndicate it, yes.
Gotcha, okay, and so I've only seen the video side of it.
There you go, it's a very popular podcast as well. Usually up there in the featured section on itunes.
Yeah, I'm happy about it. But you're here, and this is about you. So let's stop talking about the show, we're gonna shift gears, clunk. And I want to start back at the beginning, way back in the day. Not really, it was the first thing that we talked about for you professionally, which was radio.
Gotcha, I thought you were gonna talk about when my parents met in Kansas and my father got my mother pregnant at the age of 19. The most amazing part of that story, 'cause she dropped out of college too have me, is that they are still married.
Fifty years later, how cool is that?
So you just shared with me that you had been married 20 years, I then shared...
I get credit for that extra one, trust me.
I'm not taking anything away from you, Mel. And then I reciprocated sharing that I also have been married 20 years, as of five days ago, or something like that, on the 20, uh...
22nd of August.
Mine's the 24th, that's why I know this. I'm not that much of a stalker.
But here's another thing that's parallel, is that your parents have been married 50 years?
My parent's 50th wedding anniversary was the 26th of August.
Wow, that's really cool.
We have many of the same things in common.
You guys have sandwiched us. You and your wife, Kate, 22nd, and your parents 26th. And I'm the 24th. There you go.
There you go, and your parents have been married 50 years, too, same as mine. Here we are. Not going back to Kansas. Although I have been to Kansas, I like Kansas, it's nice, it's hot. Midwestern, I think you identify very vocally as a Midwestern person. But I want to talk about early career in radio. One of the things that fascinates me is your ability to move seamlessly between genre. Again, radio, and author, speaker. I think there's some similarities there. But they require a different set of skills, you've been able to move seamlessly between them. So let's start at the start. How in the hell did you get your start in radio?
Oh my gosh.
This is a big question.
Well, no, my whole life is like one gigantic mistake that I then scramble, using anxiety, to try to fix. So, you know, I graduate from college and I don't know what I want to do. So I follow my boyfriend to D.C. And I end up as a paralegal because I got a temp job. And then I don't know what to do as he's going to school, so I apply to law school, and so then I go to law school and I hate it. And I don't know what I'm gonna do. So every step of my fricking life has been literally like a leap frog game. Okay, we're gonna hop into this thing. Oh shit, now what do I do? Before I even got into the media, I was a public defender in Manhattan, I did violent felony criminal defense work as a legal aid attorney.
Wow. And this is that you got a degree in law on the side because your boyfriend was in D.C.?
Well, we broke up, so he's not the one I'm married to. Yeah, I didn't know what to do. I think I've felt, for a large part of my life, lost and searching for my thing.
This is why you're on the show. And you have a thing that I think, of the people who are watching and listening right now, that is the dominant paradigm is people haven't found their thing yet, and they think something is wrong with them. And part of the goal of this show is to A, say there's nothing wrong with you, and B, what are you gonna do about it?
So there's a tactical component of it. So clearly you did something, and it sounds like you experimented, you went to law school, you...
Oh my gosh, yes! I just kind of jumped from one-- and it was misery that propelled me. (laughing) Seriously.
She really sugar coats things, that's what I'm... I'm just kidding.
I literally was, I loved being a public defender, and then my husband, his name is Christopher Robbins, isn't that awesome? He looks like an adult Christopher Robbins, too, with curly blonde hair and everything. I mean, I don't want to go off on a huge tangent, because I know that there's a bunch of other tactical stuff that we want to talk about.
It's okay, this is a story too, so tell the story.
Yeah, I was really lost. I graduated from Dartmouth, and you're supposed to have the answers, ivy league school, whatever. I had no idea what I wanted to do or study, so I get a temp job. I go to work for a law firm. I spent an entire year sitting in a conference room, there was this thing called a Bates stamp. And there was a huge litigation going on over whether or not biodegradable trash bags actually biodegraded, and there was some big class action lawsuit. And I sat for an entire year, (laughing) in a conference room (makes stamping sound), flip the paper, (makes stamping sound), flip the paper, (makes stamping sound), flip the paper. Because in 1990, we didn't have any computers. This was how you documented every piece of evidence. In a class action lawsuit, there is so much paperwork, and it was endless. I didn't enjoy that, and none of the lawyers that worked there seemed all that happy. But I also had this thing careening toward me, which was my boyfriend at the time, who I loved dearly, had gotten into a school in Boston and I didn't have anything to do, so I was gonna get left behind. And so I applied to law schools, and ended up getting into one in Boston, and so off I went. And I went thinking, well, I don't have to practice law. And then what happens, and this happens to all of us, is we have like the plan A, which is, I'm not gonna be a lawyer, but then we go with plan B because it seems easier, and inertia and kind of being where you're at, whether it's a job that you hate, or it's a relationship that sucks but you're scared of leaving it, I jumped into that law school river and next thing you know, three years later, I get carried down the path and I look up, and I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm going exactly what I didn't want to do.
Now luckily, I ended up getting a job with legal aid and it was an incredible four years working in the criminal court system in New York City. And then Chris, who is now my husband, we've been married 21 years, he got into business school in Boston. This is like a recurring theme. I get dragged up to Boston by some dude, and I've got no plan. (laughing) I remember I left this job, I left court on a Friday in Manhattan. We lived in Chelsea on 21st between 6th and 7th. Before it was a nice place to live.
I know exactly, I can picture it.
I left work, we packed up the U-Haul, we drove up to Boston, Massachusetts, we moved into this little apartment, and Monday morning came, and he went off to his new job and to his executive MBA program, and I was on the futon with the dog in my fricking pajamas, thinking "What the hell just happened?" I went from being somebody that had a job I loved to nothing. And what am I gonna do? And so what fascinates me about human beings, and it fascinates me about myself, is that we have such a high tolerance for suckiness...
Isn't it crazy?
as long as the suckiness is a routine. But the second you get thrown out of your routine, or the second that, whether it's because you lose a job or somebody moves, or somebody dies, or somebody breaks up with you, or you break up... All of a sudden that awakens the courage in you to make a change. 'Cause either you have no choice, or now you've got a problem to solve. But fighting that inertia of life is the most difficult thing in the world. And so you asked me a different question, which was how I got into radio.
No, but this is all leading up to it, clearly.
Yeah, I ended up getting a job with a law firm, 'cause it was the path of least resistance.
In Boston. I hated it, 'cause I went from being in the courtroom to writing briefs all day. And luckily I got pregnant with our first daughter, who just is starting college, which makes me feel so ancient, I just want to punch myself in the face that I have an 18-year-old freshman in college.
That's amazing, congratulations.
Thank you, but I got pregnant with her and when she was born, I had horrific post-partum depression.
I mean, the really scary kind, where you can't be alone with the baby, you're on crazy meds that turn you... Not the kind you take recreationally. These are the kind that turn you into a zombie. And it was a really scary thing. And when I kind of came out of the eight-week trance of that, I looked up at Chris and said, "I've made a decision." And he said, "Okay, what would that be?" And I said "I don't ever want to answer the question "'What do you do for a living?' With the response "'I'm a lawyer.'" And he said, "Okay. "You realize we've just bought this house, "and we have a kid, and we have bills to pay." And he said, "So here's the deal, you've got exactly "four weeks before your maternity leave is over. "You need to make $60,000. "I don't care what you do for a living. "That's your problem, go solve it." And the night before I was supposed to... So I networked like a crazy person. 'Cause again, if you're a human being with a problem, you'll solve it if it matters enough to you. And so I got a job. And this was the first dot.com boom in Boston. I got a job the night before I was supposed to go back. This was one of the worst experiences of my life. So imagine this: you've been on maternity leave for four months. You have been networking like crazy in secret to get a different job, you're now gonna leave the industry. Here's the problem: you get the job, but you have to go back in for your first day back, to quit. And there's no, I don't even--not sure we had email back then, you know what I mean? This was not really the big email days. Maybe it was just kinda starting. So it's not really something you do. I think we still had a fax machine at the law firm.
You fax in your...
So this story gets so much worse. So I go in on the train and I'm dressed as if I'm still a lawyer. And I go into the high rise, and I go up the elevator, and I walk in, and they are throwing me a baby shower.
No! No! (laughing)
So you had to play along for a certain amount of time?
I actually announced it at the baby shower.
Wow, that's bold, you'd made a decision.
Well, I had made a decision and I think that people who live with either anxiety or things that are not complete have not made a decision to move on. I have struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life, and I have two kids that have anxiety because they won the genetic lottery with me. So they got the ADD, dyslexia, anxiety, woo, what a casserole mom gave you! And it brewed so much under the surface for me that I remember feeling so uncomfortable that I wanted to end the discomfort. And the only way to end the discomfort if you're lying about something or you're withholding something is to actually say what's so.
And that's what you did?
Yeah, I actually just walked in and said something like--I'm first like stunned. I feel grateful and I feel horrible because I'm coming in today because I realize I cannot come back to work. And there was this pfft (laughing). Talk about, wow. And so then I asked the woman that I reported to if I could talk to her. And I just went in and I'm sure I started crying.
I can imagine.
The post-partum rebound new job.
Huge disappointment. I was already so amped up. You know how you get yourself so jacked up to have to have a tough conversation? So anyway.
Well, first of all, before we go on to actual radio, embedded in your story are so many things that this show is about, that your life stands for, that is helping people unpack a lot of these things because there are so many barriers that keep us from the things that we want. So many of them--I have another show called The Daily Creative, and I was just answering some questions right before this show, and maybe you'll stick around and we can do an episode together, 'cause one of them is about depression, and that is a real... Like depression and anxiety, my understanding is that the phenomenon is dramatically increasing as culture shifts, that anxiety is not going away, it's multiplying.
It's becoming a habit.
It is, it's an epidemic.
We're gonna talk about it, actually, in the course. So it's interesting, 'cause you asked me before we went live, how do you describe yourself? And it's always a conundrum for me, because I actually don't consider myself an expert. I consider myself to be your like fucked up friend that figured things out and has become wise. And now I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did. Because figuring out some of the things that I have learned by stumbling into the Five Second Rule, which we'll talk about, and then researching it because of the fact that it went viral and had such a profound impact for people, what I've learned about the science of habits, what I've learned about the science of confidence, what I've unpacked about the way that self-doubt works, what I've now started to see about the crazy mistakes that I made, and how hard I made my life for myself, for my friends, the solutions are so simple. And so I'm on a mission to share everything that I've learned, not because I think I'm right, but because I hope it makes you think about how you're doing it, and I hope that it saves you some of the hassles and the heartache and the headache that I put myself, my family, my friends, particularly myself, through. And so a lot of it has to do with anxiety. A lot of it has to do with self-doubt and how that really creeps in and becomes a habit, and how that impacts your actions. And so, anyway.
I'm gonna abandon... I don't even care about how you got into radio now. You've just opened up the box. So I'm gonna shift gears if we can, and go... You just listed a handful of things, like a lot of what you talk about is anxiety, a lot of what you talk about is unpacking the things that are keeping you from the things that you want to do and be, so let's start at the start. Talk about anxiety for a second.
I came out of the womb with anxiety. I think I just was... My parents always said that I was a worrier. And that's what you say about kids, right? 'Cause you wring your hands, or you get nervous about tests, or you're chugging Mylanta, Milk of Mylanta or whatever the hell it was called. We would buy that by the case. That's what a freak I was. Get nervous before the tennis match, I'd have to come home 'cause I was homesick. I was constantly on edge. And it wasn't until I turned, I think it was 21, and it was when I was in law school, that the panic really started to be there every morning. Like I had bouts of anxiety that were more triggered by particular things that I was anxious about.
Public speaking or...
Oh no, I'm talking about being a kid. Like having to swim out to the red dock, not being invited to a party, having to go to sixth grade camp for a week. Playing at band camp.
Those were still things, and so the 21-year-old you is like this is just omni-present, daily.
It was the waking up with a pit in my stomach every morning. It was walking into class and having just this awful sense of dread. It was getting called on, and even though I knew the answer, having a tidal wave of heat rise up through my body. It was turning beet red in the face as I was talking. Like just on. It was being a liar. I used to lie all the time because I was so anxious about saying the wrong thing that I was constantly trying to think of what I should be telling people.
And then of course, you're nervous 'cause you can't remember what the hell you just told them.
It's compounding. And so I started to have these panic attacks, and I didn't know what was wrong. And I went to see one of the health people at campus, and they referred me to somebody, and the doctor said, oh, well you just have anxiety and you're having panic. And then he said I think you should go on Zoloft. And then I had anxiety about taking a drug because it might change me. Heaven forbid. I'm so stable, why would I want to be changed? And that's the funny thing, is that those of us that struggle with these kinds of things, we're terrified of taking any kind of medication, because we're afraid of not being ourselves, and yet, the anxiety or the depression or whatever you struggle with is actually keeping you from being yourself.
That's the anchor.
And so I argued with him like a lawyer for six months, and then finally I gave in and started taking Zoloft and it was like a miracle. When I took it, it was literally as if somebody had taken a volume dial and turned it to zero and that voice that would sound off in my head on a loop that triggered all the body sensations, and we're gonna talk a lot about this tomorrow, like the difference between worry and how that triggers anxiety. And then the difference between anxiety and panic. And then how you can utilize the tools that I'm talking about to curb the worrying, to control the anxiety, to stabilize the panic and like really self-monitor. And I think that is the single greatest skill that anybody could have--the ability to self-monitor. You could call it mindset, you could call it self-awareness, but truly to be so in tune with yourself that in a nanosecond you pick up when things are going south with your thoughts, that you understand how to monitor yourself, your behavior, what you're thinking, so that you align with your values and your choices. And for the first 40 years of my life, I didn't know how to do that.
Sure as shit didn't know how to do it.
But you saw through medication that it was possible.
Oh, it was incredible. It was like I found myself again. I had the capability. And look, if you're somebody that really struggles with anxiety or depression and it's the kind of thing like I had where it interferes with your day-to-day life, you have to go see somebody.
Biochemical. I'm glad that you said this, 'cause I'm not a doctor, I've had a fair bit of anxiety myself. I had one small bout of depression that was on the back side of a major medical problem that I had. And I just gave the answer in this other show that I was filming, there's not feeling right, feeling off and bummed, and then there's clinical hardcore depression, and sometimes you don't know. So do all the things to take care of yourself, the things that you know, that you're gonna prescribe in your class and that we're talking about here, and you need to see a professional, too.
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, in fact, I talk about it so openly because first of all I think these days most of us have some level of anxiety. And I think it's only gonna get worse because of social media and technology and the fact that people work 24/7, and the way that the news cycle kind of bangs at you all day long. But I also talk about it openly, because I really view it like something that's akin to diabetes. You have a chemical imbalance, and if you have diabetes, there's no shame in taking insulin. If you have a chemical imbalance that's causing you to torture yourself mentally or make things harder, go fricking talk to somebody and see if meds would work for you. I really believe that. And so what happens is it gives you a leg up. I've seen this with our 12-year-old, too, who started taking Zoloft like when he was 10 for a period of time, because he had gotten into such a hole with anxiety that he was not doing sleep overs, he was not getting in elevators, and he couldn't get out, not with the cognitive tools. But it gave him the leg up to be able to then let the cognitive tools take effect and the new habits to take over.
And then when you can do a new habit, that's ultimately about getting off the medication if it's in your purview.
Or not, yeah, totally. So that was kind of the beginning for me of this awareness around anxiety, and I took Zoloft for a while. Of course, I felt good. So why do I need it? And of course, not going to therapy. And I went off it when I had Sawyer, who is our firstborn daughter, who is 18 now, who I had the terrible bout of post-partum with, and so then I jumped right back on. And I stayed on it until about five years ago. And five years ago, after introducing The Five Second Rule to the world, and having it go crazy viral, I started to wonder, 'cause I saw how I was using it as a starting ritual to change all my other habits, and to learn self monitoring, and to be the person I really want to be in the world and in my marriage and as a parent, I started to ask myself, gosh, if I can change all these physical patterns that I have, I wonder if I could change the thinking patterns. And so I went off Zoloft for the first time in like 15 years, I mean that was terrifying. And started using The Five Second Rule to monitor my thoughts.
How powerful is that?
It is the most freeing, remarkable, I just get so choked up thinking about this because so many of us torture ourselves. The thing that drives me is not being on stage or having a successful book, it's the fact that we're getting close to 1,000 inbound stories and emails a day. And the strategies that we are teaching are working. And people are not committing suicide, they're using the Five Second Rule in therapy for PTSD, they're using it in CBT therapy, they are using it in addiction. It has been the most rewarding thing in the world to see that something so simple, just a little technique, and that's basically what I focus on, is what are the small techniques that we can all do in various areas of our life and business that give us a leg up, that give us control, that give us the ability to catch ourselves before we ruin it, before? And so it is the most freeing thing in the world that you can do to learn that you don't have to think the way that you think.
It's amazing the connection to the physical body. The studies, the science is indubitable at this point, the mind-body connection, and I think also so many people-- well, I want to get your take--but just conceptually the connection between our well-being and our thoughts, and when you realize that your actions... I'm gonna reach over and pick up this glass of water, but when you realize that your brain is a two-million-year-old computer that's programmed not necessarily to make you happy, but to make you survive, and to create anxiety as a mechanism for staying alive in the wilderness, but when you realize that you can actually be the boss of that. Tony Robbins, not related, talks about it's the brain, it's not your brain. When you realize that you can be the boss of that through the Five Second Rule or something else, what an amazing transformation is possible.
It's really the beginning point for everything. And the other thing that was really remarkable is we spend a lot of time talking about mindset from the standpoint of think positive so positive things happen, and I do believe in having a positive mindset, obviously. I think that the actions that you take are way more important in terms of developing that mindset, but we don't spend enough time on what you were just talking about, which is understanding how the automatic nature of worrying about stuff all day long, how that is making you less money, how it is making you less happy, how it is disconnecting you from your spouse, how it is keeping you unhealthy, and how it is a habit that robs you of joy and opportunity and power, and it is one of the easiest habits to break.
All right, that is a very badass statement. I love it. So can we go there just for a second? Tell us how. You have a practice. I'm gonna introduce really quickly, Five Second Rule is a book. Congratulations, taking the universe by storm, millions of readers. The fact that you've been able to then socialize it also to radio and things like this and a blog and all these other places. What I find beautiful is its simplicity. So use that as a door, walk through that door that I just gave you and tell me A, how you came about it, what it does, and how you can unlock some of those things that you talked about,
like get out of your own way, make yourself healthy, make your business more successful, with being able to control your thoughts.
Yeah, well so number one, your life happens in five second windows. Number two, in five seconds, you can control what you think, you can decide what you're gonna do, and you can change absolutely anything, which changes absolutely everything. And so the Five Second Rule is a mind trick, that's all that it is, a fancy way to call it is a form of metacognition. But it's basically a hack, it's a cheat code. And the way that it works, and this is the challenge with getting it out there, is that it sounds so profoundly stupid, like a gimmick, that it took a while for people to actually take it seriously,
I get that.
and to really stack up the science to make anybody that interacts with it go holy shit! Like this actually works! So here's what it is: basically the moment you catch yourself hesitating or doubting, or starting to worry, or about to chicken out or shrink, or shut up, or whatever it is that you're about to do that is shrinking your power, you just go five, four, three, two, one. You count backwards five, four, three, two, one. What happens when you do that--don't do it out loud, 'cause it'll scare somebody. Like psycho, five, four, three, two, one, I'm talking! Although we say it's so simple that people use it with their kids.
This is a Saturday Night Live skit in the making.
Totally, I would love that 'cause that means I've really made it. Your kids will use it on you. So my kids will use it on me. If I have a certain tone that comes out, I'll hear my children go "Five, four, three... "watch that tone, mom." Or "Mom, five, four, three, two, one, I thought you "were gonna go to the gym."
Yes. So by counting backwards, the cheat code that you're doing in your mind is you're interrupting what are called habit loops that get encoded in the central part of your brain and you are starting up the prefrontal cortex. It's a little trick that causes focus. And it's a lot like having a mantra, 'cause you're shifting gears, but the thing about having a mantra is, and I suppose as you count backwards more and more and more, you become used to it, but it becomes a habit that triggers action. So what you do is you go five, four, three, two, one, cut off this part of the brain, awaken this part of the brain, and then move. And what happens with the counting backwards is, there's nowhere to go after one. And your mind is socialized in a count down situation to go. And so counting up won't work because you can keep going.
You'll go forever.
And you do it in many aspects of your life, so it's actually not something that requires any focus. See, the prefrontal cortex in functional MRIs is lit up like a Christmas tree when you're doing something that requires courage, when you're engaged in strategic thinking, or when you're learning a new behavior. So we've invented, or I created a little cheat for switching the gears manually between the part of the brain that actually makes changing difficult and keeps us stuck, and the part of the brain that you need in order to change.
So, five, four, three, two, one, and then you engage in the behavior that you are afraid of, or that the crocodile brain part is saying don't do this, or this is gonna be scary or bad.
Yeah, yeah. So if you're sitting with a client who constantly scope creeps on you and you know you want to say something, but you start to feel that hesitation, you're about to chicken out, five, four, three, two, one.
And you say, hey, this is outside the scope of what we talked about. It's not a huge deal, but we just need to redefine the scope to...
Yeah, you say whatever. Or if you have a drinking problem, and you feel yourself drawn toward it, five, four, three, two, one interrupts the habit of grabbing for it based on whatever trigger made you want to have the drink, and you turn and you move away from it. So it is a way to have courage in the moment. It's a way to have self control in the moment. It's a way to be present and awake in the moment. It's a way to interrupt patterns and behavior. I use it right now for my tone of voice. I use it 'cause I get in the zone and then I have this edge to my tone of voice that I really don't like. And the more that we do video and I see it, the more I'm like, oh my gosh, I don't want to sound like that! I use it for sure to exercise 'cause I hate to exercise. I still, eight years later... I discovered this thing in 2008 by mistake trying to beat my habit of hitting the snooze alarm.
And I still every day use it every single morning to get out of bed. Every single morning. I hate getting out of bed. I hate it. I use it, now that I'm 48, soon to be 49, when I wake up at 2:37, and I have to go to the bathroom. I use it five, four, three, two, one to just get out of the damned bed. 'Cause you know what we all do at our age, we lay there and we're like just go back to bed, just go back to bed. That doesn't work, 47 minutes later, you still have to pee. So just five, four, three, two, one, get up, go to the bathroom, come back, go to bed, all good.
Okay, so you developed this hack and I think it's a very... scientifically you're shifting it from the crocodile brain into your frontal cortex, so you change that. And what had that unlocked for you? What do you--is it truly that simple? Or can you then walk us through a couple of activations or some of the results that you've seen, or what you've experienced. I mean you just talked about getting out of bed.
Sure, well, 2008, let's just talk about where my life was. My husband's restaurant business was failing, we had a lien that had hit the house. I had just lost the first television show I was gonna shoot, and was stuck on a contract not getting paid. So unemployed, bankruptcy, Chris is sleeping on the couch, raging like drunk, like drinking way too much, totally out of control. And the thing that I think we're gonna cover tomorrow, we'll see what comes up, I think knowledge can be a huge trap. And what I mean by that is we spend a lot of time acquiring knowledge about what to do, but most of us don't spend enough time figuring out how to make ourselves do it.
It's not the strategy that you're lacking, it's the action.
The push, it's the action. The thing that I found for myself, and I'm sure that whatever it is that you're struggling with, or anybody is struggling with, you're probably really frustrated with yourself, because you know what to do to lose weight, but you can't make yourself do it. You know what you need to do in order to grow your business, but you can't make yourself do it. And so I was stuck in that extraordinarily human experience where I knew I should get up on time, I knew I should look for a job, I knew I should be supportive of Chris. I knew I shouldn't drink at night. I knew I shouldn't isolate myself. I knew I should go see a therapist. I wasn't doing any of it. And I was really, really struggling. It's so ironic that I'm now, what I talk so much about is how to build confidence, like the real confidence, how to build courage. 'Cause I had none of it. And so I invent this little thing just to beat the snooze alarm, because the kids kept missing the bus, and I felt like the world's worst parent. And so it worked that first morning, and then here's what I can tell you, is that I said earlier, that in five seconds you can change anything, and that'll change everything. And I also think you're one decision away from a totally different life, because when you're the kind of person that's sleeping in every day and waking up and feeling like a loser, and you make one decision that all you're gonna do is just get up, no matter how painful it is, what happens is that one decision makes you see yourself differently because of the action you're taking.
You've broken the habit or whatever and seen what's possible almost.
Yes, and so I made myself a promise once this thing worked three mornings in a row to get out of bed, and the promise was this. If I knew that I should do something, no matter how much I didn't want to do it, I was gonna use this stupid rule, five, four, three, two, one and I was gonna give myself a push. And so I would get up on time and I'd walk into the kitchen and the first thing I would see was Chris, and I'd just want to kill him, 'cause we're fighting like crazy and it's so much easier to do the old 'It's your fault,' and I would feel that wave come up, and I'd go five, four, three, two, one, and it would give me the self monitoring and the self control to realign what was about to come out of my mouth with what I wanted, which was I wanted to save my marriage. I wanted him to be successful. Cognitively I knew all this. In the moment I found through these five second windows that I could gain the self control to pivot and do it. I would see my sneakers and know, all the science says you're supposed to exercise, but boy oh boy, when you need it most, you don't feel like it. And I would do that thing where I'd see the sneakers, I'd see it's raining, I'm like, nope. Five, four, three, two, one. Grab the sneakers and go. And so one small decision at a time, I started literally moving my life in a direction that aligned with the things that I wanted. And in seeing myself do it, that's when your confidence and the momentum and all the wonderful stuff starts happening, and so I've literally gone from that period of my life, unemployed and tremendous financial strain and tremendous marriage strain, to making more money than I ever thought possible, being a complete shark of a negotiator, I mean, I'm an asshole, because I have no fear. I can literally in a business discussion see what I want, I know what I'll settle for, and if I feel the emotion coming up, I push it back down, five, four, three, two, one. And that is a powerful thing to have in business, because most of us live in fear and we have this scarcity feeling about what's gonna happen if you say 'No.'
Don't get the job or the gig or the contract.
Correct, correct. And it's also helped me wrestle the ego piece to the ground, because there's so many things that you do in business and in life that are really driven by deep insecurity and the need to fill ego, versus the things that actually matter to you. And so it just is this incredible little perspective checker all the time. It's like a self coaching tool. Like if you have a best friend that's a pain in the ass that's constantly pushing you, this is a way that you become that person for yourself.
And so I mean I could give you example after example after example. Even the book, people told me I was crazy to self publish. And I would have loved to have made the New York Times list, loved to, because I come from the ivy league, and I come from ego. And I want everybody else that's fancy to look at me and be like, ooh, she made that list. And then I started to realize well, wait a minute, what do I really care about? What I really care about is first of all having control over what we're doing, secondly being a smart businesswoman so that I own everything, and most importantly how do I actually make sure this idea spreads? That it spreads as fast, as simply, as freely as possible? And so we made a decision that we would self publish the book, which I would tell everybody to do. And what's interesting is my book came out the same week that Tony's did and it's interesting because the only book that outsold me via Bookscan that week was his. And we outsold the other nine books on the list, but because we were self published and didn't have a lot of bookstore distribution, we didn't make it. And so of course I was pissed and so five, four, three, two, one, I was like, forget it I'm just gonna be mad for 24 hours, drink five Manhattans and go to bed and take five Advil and get up and I'm gonna be over it. And I was angry because I felt like I earned it because of the sales, but then I realized, wait a minute, yet again, this is that ego thing. I think there's a lot of things that we all do that are so driven by that instead of really stopping and saying what is the long term gain here? And so we had a really interesting thing happen. And I want to talk about this because I'm sure there are lots of aspiring writers that are watching. Because we didn't have a lot of distribution, and because we basically pent up all the demand for that one week spread, Amazon sold out in about 15 minutes, Barnes and Noble sold out immediately, couldn't find the book in Canada, because they had sold out, no stores had it, and so what happened...
What can I get in the market immediately?
Yes, they went right to Amazon and right there is the book is available in two weeks, or you can get Audible right now. So the other thing that I did is for whatever reason, and I know that you believe this too, I read a couple interviews where you were saying that you had read an interview with Steve Jobs and you believe that you absolutely have to trust your gut, even though it's hard. It is so critical that you develop that skill.
It is, it's the most unsung skill in our culture I think is listening to your gut.
And the Five Second Rule will give you the clarity to hear it and the courage to follow it. So for whatever reason, 'cause we worked with a self publishing person that printed the books and I just said there is no way in hell you're getting audio, there's no way in hell you're getting audio. I'm severing the rights. I didn't even know what the hell that meant. Severing the rights.
Sounds good. Sounds powerful, I'm a good negotiator, five, four, three, two, one.
Yes, 'cause he said to me, here's what's happening, we're in the thing, I don't even know what I'm talking about, I'm listening to this. I've gotten the right deal that I wanted with the printer/publisher person that was gonna help me self publish. And he said audio's part of it. I said absolutely not. I said what could you possibly do that I can't do myself? I can rent a studio, I can talk into a microphone, I can go to Amazon and I can upload the files. So if I can do the things, why do I need you? And why would I cut you in? It's one thing 'cause you're printing books and setting up the books and shipping the books and storing the books and dealing with bookstores and I don't want to deal with any of that stuff. Take your commission, goodbye. But audio? There's no cost after you record the file. Nothing. Zero.
Zero marginal cost.
And so many authors right now, the game has changed. Absolutely, positively changed.
I'm a huge fan of audio. This is syndicated. It used to be a video show, now it's primarily an audio show. I started talking into my phone into Siri when it first came out and people thought I was bonkers. They were like what is this dude doing talking holding his phone up? My V1 Siri got so good, the AI was very basic back then, but I just realized the 22 things that I could say to it, and it would do all the things correctly, and it was freaking people out. I'm very, very passionate about it, and the fact that this to me-- that's one of the reasons why I was really excited about connecting with you on this is because this to you by admission earlier before we started recording , or on the show, I've lost track, was a game changer for you.
Oh my gosh, it was...
So you moved a lot of units in the book form, and then audio is where it really went kapow!
The first five months, we sold 150,000 audio books. (laughing) Why are you laughing? Guess who owns it?
I do! (laughing)
Now, can I also though say, that was honestly God or the universe's reward for listening to my gut.
'Cause you saw on that thing...
That was also my reward for not going for ego. I think when you really align your actions with your values and with the true outcome that you're seeking, it is incredible what happens. And so first it was, I'm not gonna spend 35... Like when you guys walk past those books in the airport and you go oh, I wish I could be there. You can. It's $35,000 for three months, thank you very much. That's the big lie that nobody knows. The end caps in the bookstores. You can pay for those, too. And you can buy your way onto the New York Times bestseller list. But you have to know what you stand for and why you're doing something. If that's something that you have to have...
To take a picture and send it to mom.
Yeah, or because it will be a game changer in your career, great, make the investment. But go in being fully aware that that's what you're doing, because there's a cost to that decision.
This, to me, is where I want to go next. So you've said it a couple of times, you've been, either intentionally or not, sort of leaving little bread crumbs here, and I'm gonna go pick all those bread crumbs up, because the path those bread crumbs are pointing at, which is what's important is in using the five, four, three, two, one, using it for the sake of using it is really not all that important if you don't know what you want. So this is a very important piece of your TED talk, which I found very inspirational, and you've said it several times here, values lining up with what you want, and then enabling yourself to, through self awareness and whatnot, to take action and to do it. So one of the things that I've realized, having an audience for years and sat down with folks like yourself, what I realized is that a lot of people struggle to define what they want. Help the people. (laughing) Tell the people what is the thing that's getting...
that you've seen, that's getting in the way of people being able to define the thing that they want?
Well let me see if I can answer this succinctly. So the mistake that we all make is that we focus on the person, place, or thing. And that we tend to focus on something way too big. And that creates a gap between where you are and this magical rainbow cafe unicorn thing that you think is gonna rescue you from your miserable life right now. And that gap can start to be the thing that makes you feel lost. And so I think that when it comes to figuring out what you want and discovering I guess what your passion is, or your direction is, first you've got to learn to listen to yourself in the smallest ways. And so I recently developed a tool that I haven't been talking a lot about 'cause I'm still doing a lot of research on it, but it is deadly accurate and it works in five seconds like the Five Second Rule. And it is the secret I think to helping people figure this out. (laughing)
And you're not gonna tell me?
I will tell you what it is, I don't have a name for it yet.
You don't have to.
So I imagine it like...
This is the raw, this is the unplugged, behind the scenes.
So first of all, when I hear the word passion, and you didn't say passion, but that's kind of the word people use for that I need to figure out who I am and what I'm passionate about and where I'm going, what my values are. I believe that passion is another word for energy. That's it.
What do you have energy for?
What energizes you? And that we naturally have a tremendous amount of body wisdom about that. And that every one of us has an internal fuel tank that is either empty or full. And if you're empty, you feel depleted. If you're full, you feel energized. And so if you simply are in any situation, I mean any situation, and you pay attention within five seconds to does this person energize me, do they deplete me, where are they on the scale? You just gained some tremendous wisdom. And the simple way to start to figure out who you are and what you want is start aligning yourself with more things that energize you. So situationally, if you're lying in bed and the alarm goes off and you feel depleted, and you start reaching for the snooze button, that's a really big sign that you need to get out of bed. Now being depleted versus energized has nothing to do with whether or not things are hard or easy. It has to do with what naturally actually either expands you or shrinks you. And so if you look at your client list and measure it depleted versus energized, what shrinks versus expands me, you have the actual map. And when you start to find the courage to make decisions that energize you and expand you, whether they're scary as shit or not, that's when everything changes. And so that's how I actually make business decisions. I don't even, like the money conversation comes second. It's does this deplete or energize me? And if it depletes me, how do you move it in that direction, or how do I say no? If it energizes me, how do I do more? And so like two years ago when my speaking career exploded out of nowhere based on that TED talk, it was great for like a year-and-a-half and then suddenly I started to notice that the anxiety in the mornings was creeping in when I'd have to leave town, that I just felt kind of low and depleted. And I realized that actually being on stage kinda depletes me. That the thing that energizes me about the speaking business is meeting people and it's the emails I get. And so I started to pay attention to that and say how do I do more...
Of the thing that energizes...
Of the thing that naturally energizes you? Because if you are energized or expanded by something, you will do it for no money, you will do it happily, and you will suddenly wake up and say, oh my gosh, I'm pursuing my passion, how did that happen? Well, it happened, one five second alignment at a time in the right direction, so that you were actually working with your natural wiring, working with your natural energy, tapping into your wisdom. So again, the Five Second Rule is this tool that allows you to tune in and give you the courage. This is the tool that gives you the wisdom that you need in order to make those decisions. And so when I get wigged out because I don't make the New York Times list or whatever, I tune back in. Well, what is it that's energizing me? It's not some stupid ass list, it's that this idea is helping people.
And is it your philosophy then, that by tuning in and following what energizes you, that is the path.
You have the path, now you use the Five Second Rule.
'Cause I'll tell you why. You can't. Until you actually learn the wisdom of you, and the power of you, you can't look at the big stuff and successfully, in my mind, go get it. You'll be the kind of person that maybe checks boxes, but never feels satisfied as you do it. You're always onto the next, you're always chasing the next, because you have run right past the number one thing that you are supposed to figure out in your lifetime, which is who you are and how to listen to it.
That's so powerful. I think we referenced Tony Robbins earlier. There's a thing that he says that is conjured up when you say that, is that there are people who have been wildly successful, they have mastered the science of achievement, which is the ability to get shit done and check boxes, and run at things. But what they have failed to master is the art of fulfillment, which is who are you, why do you do things, it's like the Simon Sinek why, what gets you out of bed in the morning? Unless you are...
This is the way you find the answer, honestly. Because if you can't listen to your own wisdom about whether or not you should get up or whether or not you should exercise or whether or not you should curb that drinking problem, or whether or not you should get over your fear of cold calling and start doing it. You can't master the little stuff, you will never answer the big stuff, ever.
So powerful. It's so simple, I love it.
And it took me a long time to figure out. You know I was just having this conversation with my daughter, who is starting her first year in college. And she's going through all kinds of anxiety and we were just having this conversation where she was making new friends, and you know that thing where you have your roommates, but you don't necessarily want them to tag along with your new friends, and then you don't want your new friends to tag along with your roommates. I looked at her and said, listen, it took me literally 45 years to learn this lesson. I mean, I didn't say it, I was like don't be a passive-aggressive bitch, okay? The world's a big place, there's no kind of set number of friends that people are supposed to have. The more generous you are, the more generous you are, the easier and more satisfying and fun your life is, period. And it took me so long, I don't know why, to realize that there's enough success and happiness for everybody. And the second that you figure out how to stay in your lane, which is where are you energized, where are you expanded, and still be able to cheer... That's I think how I figured it out.
If you're in your lane.
If you focus on in your lane which is what your wisdom is telling you energizes and expands you, you have so much capacity to cheer for everybody else. And what's fascinating is, this audio book that started off like 'this is the reward,' it caught fire. It's one of the most successful audiobooks of all time for Audible already, and we're already six months in. It's the most successful self published one that they've had. It's only gaining steam. It's put us, Amazon has launched all these most-read lists, like the top 10 most read, the top 10 most wanted, the top 10 bought, we have been on it since they launched, because of the audio book and the numbers that it's driving. And so what's interesting is that I've had a ton of really famous authors call me. Like there's a famous author that I'm not gonna tell you the name of that sent me an email yesterday and the first time I got the email I was like, what the? What does this guy need me for? He's fricken best friends with Oprah for God sakes, why is he calling me? And then I realized I had a little bit of that old residue of 'I'm not telling them my secrets.' And then I was like wait a minute, five, four, three, two, one, that's not... there is enough room for everybody, period. And so I am so committed to just trying to stay in that space, because the thing that I find very difficult with my own psychology is I have the propensity, because I'm intellectually curious, to look at what everybody else is doing, and then either use it as a way to beat myself up because I'm not--I don't have the platform or I'm not whatever they are, you know what I'm saying? Or to convince myself that I'm not doing it the right way. And it is, I find it to be one of the biggest challenges about running a business right now, is that there's so much information about what other people are doing, that it can really pollute what you focus on, and so it's super important to always look around, but then calibrate it against this idea of what expands versus what shrinks you. And what energizes versus what depletes you. It's cool, right?
It's so cool. And I'm gonna try and go into the last segment of our talk here. And you did a nice job, incidentally, I think, of opening the door for me, because you talked about into the space. And when I think of your space, there's the personal space that you occupy, the things that you decide is your lane, but there's also the space that you've either very intentionally or accidentally backed into, which is the human performance or self actualization space. And it is wildly absent of female leadership.
And diverse voices.
There's a handful of women who I feel like have taken huge amount of a small space, a few slots there, and we have to change that, same with people of color, and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that?
Sure, the first thing that I would say is that I did stumble into this, because what happened is I invented the Five Second Rule by mistake, I transformed my own life and marriage and just who I am as a person using it, never intended to tell anybody, 'cause it sounds so damned stupid. And plus, I didn't really understand why it worked. I honestly thought I'm a witch. I have come up with a spell, this is incredible, ooo! (laughing) I went on to join CNN and had a syndicated radio show and launched a little content aggregator and sold it, and Chris actually saved the restaurant. Life was good. And I have that TEDx talk, and it was actually about career change, truly. And I let the rule slip at the end. It was an afterthought. I didn't even explain it. And people started to write. So we've heard from more than I don't even know how many at this point, but by the time I had heard from about 100,000 people in 67 countries...
This is a thing.
It wasn't even that it was a thing. It was that when you have three or four people write to you and tell you the story about how they didn't commit suicide and that they used the Five Second Rule to turn away from the railing or put down the pills, I felt an obligation to figure out and be able to explain why something so simple creates such profound results. And what I also learned is that when you email the world's leading researchers, and you have CNN in your name, people respond to you. So all of a sudden, everything that I had ever done was preparing me for this moment. So the law, which teaches you how to take super complicated amount of information and synthesize it down to one take away, basically, or key take aways, that came into play. The understanding that advice is boring as hell, so you gotta be entertaining to actually have people pay attention, just my natural curiosity, my business acumen, like it all came in like this. And I then as the TED talk took off and people started asking me to speak, and I started sharing the research, things started taking off, and that's when I looked up and we're like, oh my gosh, there's no female speakers, and there's nobody in personal development. There's a lot of amazing women in the spiritual space, there's very few of us that cross over and mind, body, business performance. You know, I don't know why that is. I don't know if it's because of the same reasons that there's a lack of diversity in corporate environments. I don't know if it's because it's a small world, and so when I look at people's podcasts, everybody has the same guys on, all their podcasts, all the time. But the thing that's always fascinated me is that when you look at the data, the majority of the products and courses are being bought by women. And so there is for sure a huge opportunity, now here's the challenge as a woman, if you go too much after that particular market, then you label yourself as an expert for women. Like Oprah never branded herself as a brand for women. She spoke to everybody but attracted whatever, 87, 93% female audience, but she never actually became a brand for women. And so I've made a very mindful business decision not to do a ton of women's conferences, not to have a ton of speeches about women and bias in the workplace, which I've done a tremendous amount of research in and can explain the science and can explain the biases and can explain how we learn things in chunks and how bias gets encoded, and how it's like peanut butter and jelly and once you have that pairing, it's very difficult to separate. So I could write a book about women and confidence, and I'm fascinated by it. But it would be catastrophic to my appeal to humans across the board. I mean, right now, when we look at the fan base that follows us, and we're a very data driven company, in terms of informing some of the decisions, almost 45% of the people that follow me and buy the stuff that we do, and certainly that sit in the audiences are men. And so I think that there's a huge thirst for more diverse audiences. I didn't answer your question why, I don't know why.
But to me it's the conversation. You don't have to have an answer, but we need to talk about it. That's the thing that's not happening.
The other thing that's happened a lot with me, you and I are similar in that we started somewhere else, and found our way into being curious about personal development, being a student of it. You don't talk about stuff that you don't actually do. Same with me. I have been shocked by the number of people that have told me that it is so refreshing to be around somebody that didn't read a book and became a coach in somebody else's program and now has their own... Not that there's anything wrong with that.
No, I get it.
Everybody finds their way, and if that's what you're supposed to do, fantastic. But I think one of the differentiators, of course, is that I'm a woman. The other differentiator is that I do cross over to business and have a very loud and strong business point of view, and a legal background and a media background, and I did a lot of other things before I stumbled into this. And I also don't think I have the answers. I think I'm figuring it out in real time, and I'm just dumb enough to be sharing it as I'm going.
I think that's brilliant.
'Cause I like the connection, I like the feedback, I like learning from other people.
And that's part of the nature of my question. That's why this show exists in part, is a little bit of a selfish... Like I'm trying to learn from the people who've done it, from the people who are better than me and different from me.
I'll tell you also why there aren't a lot of women in this, because we do get attacked differently. You say something provocative, and you're an asshole. I say something provocative and I'm ugly or I'm the 'c' word, or I'm some bitch that nobody'd like... It gets so personal so fast. And if there's one thing that I learned at CNN and being on the team there, which has been a remarkable experience, it's literally how to... If somebody comes after me, I love it. You know why? You don't attack somebody who hasn't actually poked you. So if I say something that makes you that angry, there's a kernel of truth that really angered you. And so I've developed an insulation and a perspective about it that actually helps me in this business.
And I think it's very difficult for women, because we do get... The things that people say to the female on-air talent at CNN are disgusting compared to what they say to the guys. There's tons of research about it, about how we get attacked for our appearances or clothes, almost never for what you say.
Brene Brown does a really good, she talks about the same thing with the TED talk when she gave it about vulnerability and shame.
Oh yeah, people talked about what she was wearing.
Horrible. I love your perspective on it. I think we need to culturally... And I also, there's this crazy feeling of optimism that I have around the rise of the feminine in an historically male oriented world. I feel this shift, and just even words like vulnerability and the fact that you're in the position you are, and your dynamic, and all of the things that I feel like you've represented in this conversation, but also the classes, the TED talk, it's so inspiring and I'm trying to get more of it. (Mel laughs) If there's any advice that you have for anyone who's listening or watching, we're all ears. It sounds like you feel like you don't know.
In terms of more women? I just think that for women it's if what your gut tells you is that the online course business or speaking business or writing, telling your story, if that is something that really energizes you and expands you, five, four, three, two, one, use that tool to push yourself through the fear and through all of the obstacles that you're putting in the way. Every day, just push a little bit further. I think for those of us in the space, number one, we need to be way more proactive about seeking out diverse voices, and this is something that's just coming to mind, but I think since a lot of experts these days are now forced into the position of having to market themselves, that we get very siloed and that sense that--like I remember the guy that does Art of the Charm, I can't even remember his name. He wanted to have me on the show to talk about the Five Second Rule, and then he found out that Lewis Howes had booked me, and I can't have you on. It's like, you realize there's how many billions of people on the planet, and not everybody's listening to the same stuff? And so I think there's a very insular mindset about I don't know, who's paying attention, or how much overlap there is, you know what I'm saying? It just seems... I see lots of examples of people really trying hard to bring lesser known voices, diverse voices. I don't know the answer, I don't.
You've given us plenty to think about. Your class. We kept saying tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. This is a reminder, you're gonna be on Creative Live tomorrow, so anyone who's listening to this.
Later, you can buy it.
Yeah, we're not live right now.
99% of what we do is free, but this course, you can buy. (laughing)
Super excited to have you, thank you so much. And I'm dying to, I'll be glued to your class tomorrow. I can sneak in.
I hope it doesn't suck.
It's not gonna suck, it's awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show, and big fan, I'm gonna just continue to push your message, I think it's brilliant. The five, four, three, two, one.
Just take it, it's not my message. See, that's the thing, it's not my message. This is an idea that everybody on the planet needs to know.
You can't actually end with a better statement than that. Thank you for being on the show, appreciate it.
I want a hug. You're not gonna give me a handshake for gosh sakes after that.
All right, I'm gonna sit back down again so you guys can... Thanks again, appreciate you guys for tuning in.
It's exhausted. We're gonna just like aargh. And until tomorrow or maybe the next day.
I gotta go get working on that Power Point for this class tomorrow.
Until next time, bye bye. (upbeat music)