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Michelle Villalobos on Realigning Your Culture and Brand with Your North Star

In this episode, we're talking to a good friend of mine, Michelle Villalobos.

If you're just getting to know her, she is an amazing woman. She's a powerful woman, not only in sharing her knowledge and expertise with the world, but also empowering other women and female entrepreneurs. She's got love for us guys, but she is attracting a lot of women into her life and she's helping them.

Regardless if you're male or female, you're going to benefit from this episode. Michelle talks about how do you create culture and how do you create a brand that attracts the right people. If you're in business or want to start a business, or maybe you feel like your personal brand isn't attracting the type of people that you would like in your life, then you're going to want to pay extra close attention to what Michelle talks about.

In addition, she makes it real and she talks about love. I can tell you from my own personal experience when I've incorporated more love into the equation, whether it was with myself, my customers, my clients and my family members, whenever I spread the love, things radically changed and transformed in my life.

We also talk about how do you find that North Star? What are the success secrets to finding the thing that's supposed to guide you, keep you on track and this idea that less is more? I know you may have heard that but if you're feeling a little overwhelmed, a little stressed and not happy with where you want to be, this may be the big ticket to how you can create more success in your life and we unpacked this in this episode.

Dustin
Michelle, you had the job, the money and the title. You were partying with celebrities, but you say you were unfulfilled and what you were doing wasn't congruent with your mission in life. Can you explain this?
Michelle
I spent most of my life like a lot of people trying to achieve success, status and money. All my life, that's what I thought I was supposed to do. Get good grades in school, get the nice title after school, get promotions and make more money. I kept doing that. I was a straight-A student. I went to an Ivy League school. I got the good jobs and I made money. What I realized was that what I was putting into the world, what I was contributing didn't feel fulfilling. It didn't feel like I was contributing anything that mattered. In fact, I was contributing and participating in a culture that deep down inside I didn't even believe in. For example, I was working in a fashion magazine for seven and a half years. Every month, we were putting out a different cover of a woman in a bikini or a different celebrity, which was very Cosmo-inspired. I didn't even believe in what we were doing. I was doing it because I thought that that's how I was supposed to make money and be successful. I did all the things that you're supposed to do. What I realized is that I wasn't participating and contributing to the world, my gifts and what I cared about. I was doing something just for the money, just for the status. When I realized that, it was time to stop and it's time to start something different.
Dustin
How did you come to realize that leaving corporate was essentially an option? You knew you weren't happy, you knew you weren't fulfilled. When did that thought start to creep in like, "I can go do something else?"
Michelle
Two things happened. The first thing was that my best friend, Denise Galvez, she went off on her own. She got laid off and decided to start doing marketing on her own. Maybe a year or so before I did, I was witnessing her doing her own thing and she seemed so alive and so excited. She was in-charge of her own life. I was watching that and thinking, "I want some of that." The second thing that happened was in my job that I was in, I was the executive publisher of this magazine, the owner of the magazine decided to bring in this couple. He brought them in to do this team building thing for the company.
I loved it. I fell in love with what they did for us. It was a whole new paradigm. I was like, "You can do this for a living?" That was when I first got the excitement bug bit me of like, "I could do something completely different and I would be good at it." I actually jumped ship and took another corporate job but within a month and a half, I was equally miserable. When the day came and I just couldn't take it anymore, I quit my new job. The owner of the company said, "What are you going to do?" It came out of my mouth, just blurted out, "I'm going to be a consultant." He's like, "Maybe I'll hire you. Can I be your client?" He became my first client and my last that year pretty much. It was dry season that first year of business. In fact, it was pretty dry for the first few years of business.
Dustin
What's it like to get your first clients? You had your first client, you had that win which was definitely very unusual but great because it got you out the door. What was it like getting that next client in that dry season? How did you keep yourself go on?
Michelle
That was tough. That was when I started focusing on networking, on getting to the Chambers of Commerce. Getting out there, shaking hands and kissing babies. It was difficult. Ultimately, my next big opportunity that I can remember came through a friend. It was a friend who just launched an advertising and PR agency. We hung out and got to talking and realized I had insights for him and wisdom that he wanted. He ended up bringing me into his company and I went on retainer there for several months. That got me stable and allowed me to have that stable cashflow in order to start looking for other things. That was important.
Dustin
We've met much further down the road and I understand that you have a strong passion having worked with you and gone to some of your events. Even people who look at your website, they can tell that you help women and you help empower them and discover what you call their inner superstar. Will you explain what is it that you do for women?
Michelle
The idea of it, the big picture and my North Star on this planet is to activate superstars to uplift humanity. That's gender neutral. It's all superstars, it's all of humanity. At the same time, what I've realized and what others realize too is that women are a hugely untapped resource. I believe Hillary Clinton said it at one point that women are the biggest untapped resource on the planet. I agree with that statement. I agree that there's so much potential in women in particular, not just from a place of all these gifts that they have and all these ways that they can add value, but in reshaping the world that we live in. The challenge is that even the most empowered women on the planet, Western women, the ones who live in Europe and in the United States, the ones who live in these more advanced or developed countries, even these women, my women, the people I see and spend time with are struggling with things like confidence and speaking up and stepping up. What I'm about is embodying what it looks like to speak up, step up and shake things up and through that activating other women. One of my mentors says, "Women are the conscience of humanity. We are the keepers of the faith and we are the nurturers." This world needs that feminine energy to shine, to rise, to participate and to speak up. That’s the essence what it's all about and it's not just for women. It's about feminine energy in general.
Dustin
I wanted to ask you, I'm biased because I'm a male but I truly want to understand. I've had powerful ladies in my life and I'm very fortunate, my wife and my mother. I want to understand why is it different for a woman than a man? Is it because of past history? Is it because women nurture and take on that role? Why do you see this as being so different?
Michelle
If we look at it, there are many layers. The first layer I'll say that's the more obvious one that will probably resonate with people. Think about for the last 10,000 to 12,000 years, men have been in-charge. It happened pretty much around the dawn of the Agricultural Revolution. It happened pretty much alongside the rise of cities or towns or settlements, farming and agriculture. Before that time, there's a lot of evidence that men and women were equal. Different but equal. They equally participated in leadership and partnership in leading their tribes. Around that time of the Agricultural Revolution, men took over. This happened over many hundreds and thousands of years. It didn't happen overnight. The business world as we know it is something that has been fully shaped by and for the most part, controlled by men. Women only started to enter the equation and only in certain parts of the world 50, 60 years ago. The women in general entered the equation at this late juncture to a system that was already established.
In order to succeed in that system, we had to participate in it and learn how to operate as smaller men. That's what we did. You can even see it. The shoulder pads of the '80s and women wearing their business suits. For a while, we just came in and said, "How does this work? Let's do it and let's make it. Let's participate. Let's compete. Let's win. Let's play the game." What we're seeing is that women are saying, "Let's reshape the game. Let's change the rules. Let's organize it. What does it look like when women bring their natural innate gifts, tendencies and ways of being into the business in a new way?" That's why it's so different. It's different because we are different. Men and women are different. I'm not saying that we're different in a way that one is better than the other or that women are even better than men. I'm not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that if you start to look at it from a place that we both bring different gifts to the table, what would happen if we started to integrate those two gifts together and create more balance? That's one layer of it.
Dustin
That definitely helps me understand and I definitely appreciate that. I'm curious because you work with men and women. I know you are working with a lot of women. Is there a difference between the achievers and maybe the ones that are just getting started? What do you see that successful women, powerful women are embracing or doing that have them achieve the level of success that they achieve?
Michelle
What I see is that a lot of the ones that are high achievers, like I was and to some degree am, is we adopted a very masculine approach to success. What I've seen for some of my clients is it means to focus, to hustle. It means hard work. It means meeting the challenges and rising to the occasion. It means doing the activities. It's more masculine. It feels to me more structured. What I'm seeing as we get to this place of achievement where we make it and then we look back and we're like, "Is this what I did all this work for? I'm not feeling love. I'm not feeling joy. I'm not feeling passion." I'm not saying this is universal, but you're asking me what I've found for myself and what I've seen my clients. What I've seen is when they get to that level of achievement that perhaps a man would be fulfilled and satisfied with, the women are like, "Is this all there is?" We're seeing that with men too.
What we find is that once they start bringing in more of these practices, this feminine type of leadership and practices, the nurturing, the caring. We’ve revamped our whole business over the past three to four years to bring more love into the equation, to bring more connectedness. When I started my business, I had an arm's-length relationship with my clients. What I found is that I feel more fulfilled and more joyful the closer I am with them. We call our annual trips with our clients, family vacation. I feel like they are family. For some people, men or women, that would just be too close for comfort. Coming from this idea of creating a tribe and nurturing it and bringing this feminine energy to it, that's what feels aligned for me and for our women clients.
Dustin
You talk about love and you shared with us about you feeling more fulfilled. Ever since you've adapted this mentality of love and embracing them, the family trips, the vacations, what have been the results in your business and also for the clients as well?
Michelle
What's happening is instead of just being a business program that we've put together, what we're creating is a culture. From a business perspective, like a strategic result of building a culture is that the people who are a right fit stay close and stay in the program. They renew. Then the people who are not a right fit go away. Little by little we've started to be able to identify who are the right people earlier on. Who are the people who are going to dive into this culture, thrive and contribute to it? That's part of it. What we're creating is a culture where people are not coming in and say, "My turn. I came here to get what my needs met. Now, meet them." Instead, people are coming in because they’re a culture fit saying, "How do I support this? How do I add value to this system? How do I add value to this ecosystem? How do I make it better and how do I contribute to it so that it can expand and grow?" From a business perspective, that's what we want. We want avid evangelists and people who love us and who were committed to us and who we're committed to and love as well. It’s scalable in a much easier way than focusing solely on strategy, benefits, features and outcomes. Focusing on this culture allows us to have a foundation. For example, we bring a new client in and we don't have to do as much work because they come into the culture and that culture lifts them up and they rise to the standards of the culture. The result for us has been much more grace, ease, flow and joy as a result.
Dustin
I want to talk about your brand building background a little bit. I've seen some of the transformations you've done such as dress, colors, logos and statements. I've seen that throughout the years. I'm curious as to how did you come to acquire this eye of good design and powerful messaging? What did your life helped you do this and parlay that into helping others?
Michelle
It took me a long time to realize how the dots in my life connected. For example in college or even before, I was into art. I was into drawing and fashion design. I used to design my own dresses all the time and have them made. I used to be into art after school. I worked in an art gallery for a year. I ended up in this magazine among other things where I was a photo editor. I was choosing photos out of all these hundreds of photos from photo shoots and picking the one that belonged on the cover of the magazine or the one that belonged on the two-page spread on the inside. I developed an eye for that aesthetically. When I became the publisher, I started having to put together advertisements. Layouts for clients who wanted to advertise in the book but didn't have an ad prepared. I started overseeing the direction of that in the art department. Over the years, I gathered the skill set. I used to also help come up with the cover blurbs for the cover of the magazine. I would pull the two words or the five words from the article that would make people want to buy the magazine off the shelf. I accidentally cultivated this awareness around marketing, branding and design. That's where it comes from. I've been an entrepreneur now for over eleven years. You're responsible for you and for marketing, branding and positioning yourself.
Let me tell you something. As much as I learned at the magazine and the art gallery and all of that, I sucked at branding when I started. My first brand, if you look at it, was so off-base. It was navy blue, black and white. It was very serious. There was no color. There were no pictures and all of that because essentially, I was trying to be somebody I wasn't. That's at the core of branding. It's how do you take your authentic personality and your authentic self, your truth, your values, your vision and translate that into a medium that other people can consume, whether that's a logo, a website or a business card. How do you take your authentic brand and put it into a visual and verbal form that other people will receive? That's at the core branding and that's the first big mistake I made when I branded myself. My brand was completely inauthentic.
Dustin
Your background is pretty fascinating. Magazine covers, grabbing people's attention with color, with words and with a strong statement, which is what every great brand needs to do. What are your counterintuitive tips or advice for folks that want to up their own personal brand?
Michelle
I would say that people want to start always with the exterior stuff. They always want to start with the logo, the colors, the imagery and the website. They go straight to that and I'd say there are at least four steps that come before that. The first step that's fundamental is what I call the inner work. The inner work of branding is to determine what are your values, what you stand for and what are the values that your brand will embody in the world? The next part is who are you? Who are you committed to being in the world and understanding what your gifts are, what your dream is, what your vision is and what you love. There's a lot to be said there around alignment and sometimes that doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't always happen in a half-day strategy session or a full day brand planning event. The inner work sometimes reveals itself to us over time. You also have to be willing to evolve the brand over time too.
The second part after the inner work is the higher work. The higher work is getting clear about what we call your North Star. Your North Star being your purpose. My North Star is to activate superstars to uplift humanity. It's simple. It's the umbrella under which everything that you do will function. Everything you do in your life must align with this one North Star. That's the higher work. Then there's the creative work. The creative work is figuring out what makes you unique and special. I like to use the metaphor or the analogy of Christian Louboutin shoes, which are the most expensive on the market. The reason that they're so expensive or the reason people can recognize them as such a status symbol is that they have this red sole on the bottom of the shoe, the red bottom with the contrasting top. I asked people, especially women, "What is your red sole? What makes you unique and special?" What we tell people, especially because our clients generally are thought leaders, coaches, speakers, authors and expert entrepreneurs is your red sole, your unique thing, your special sauce is going to be some system, some process that you've developed to achieve a certain outcome. We call that your superstar system or your signature system.
For example, my system is the superstar business model. It's the seven-step model to get from A to Z. That's the creative work is naming that system and defining that system. Creating it as something that's replicable and repeatable. That is the creative work. What is your signature thing, system, special sauce, and red sole? Once we've done all those three things, we're looking at the strategic work. We have the inner work, the higher work, the creative work and the strategic work of, "Who's the target audience for this? Who do we serve? Who are we called to serve? What do we do for them? What are the outcomes that they want and need that we can deliver?” That strategic work is the strategic brand development part where you look at what are the words that are going to be associated with this brand? What is it that we want the brand to convey to the audience? Once that is all done, then you can start to get into, "How are we going to portray this? How does this look in a physical form? How does this get manifested into reality and into something concrete?"
Dustin
What you call culture movements, I believe you're great at creating movements. You have the Women's Success Summit. You've got quite a community there. How does this branding play into building a movement or creating a culture or does it?
Michelle
It absolutely does. I'm still figuring this out. This is what I love to think about and figure out and understand. What I'm getting, what I'm realizing is that the reason and the way that a brand creates a culture is through this one key element and it's called identity. It's your identity and the embodiment of your values. It’s that you put out into the world that attracts the people who align with that identity, and who identify with that identity. It's creating a culture with people who have that same or similar identity. That's what creates a culture. When you can create, when you can gather or curate a group of people who share an identity, that comes down to sharing a similar vision and sharing similar values. That's why inside of a culture, there is the identity piece. There's the vision piece and the values piece. We found that a big part of culture is language. The words we use, how we describe things, how we relate to the world verbally is a way that we connect in our culture. There are a lot of different elements of culture but those are some of the basic ones and they tied back to identity.
To your audience, how do you create a culture? What's the identity of the people you're bringing together? I'll give you an example. Russell Brunson has this techie following and you think, "What culture is that?" I'm telling you it's a strong one. When you go to his events, people are wearing T-shirts that say, Funnel Hacker. That's the identity of the hacker and Russell's been brilliant at working with that culture, with that identity. He talks about a funnel hacker and what that looks like. It's someone who defies the rules. It’s someone who defies the norms, who takes risks and who tries stuff and who's creative and who’s driven. It’s someone who's committed to adding value. There are all these cultural pieces that relate back to the identity of the people that he's targeting.
Dustin
You've worked with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and even big companies. I'm curious as to some of your biggest insights working with some of the big companies that I saw such as Grey Goose and Walt Disney. What are some of your biggest takeaways from working with them?
Michelle
I had the fortune of working with big companies with great cultures. This was in the earlier years when I was doing more of the corporate consulting bit. Frito-Lay was one of these companies, Walt Disney World was another and Grey Goose was another. They have such a strong identity and they know so well who their target audience is. They know so well what their North Star is like Disney. Their North Star, their purpose, their big why is to make people happy. That's all the things that they create. What that comes underneath. That big why is to make people happy. That's what I learned from the big brands who are doing it right. Frito-Lay was another one where I was just blown away by the culture that they had. The people were such believers and they cared so much. Especially in each of the verticals that we worked in, I worked with a variety of them. They knew exactly who they were serving. They knew that person down to how old that person was. They had it down to an Avatar, to a one person. This is our client, this is our customer and this is our buyer. I took that with me. If that's what the big guys are focusing on, then that's what we should be focusing on too.
Dustin
You said events, retreats, these experiences are great for a business model or great as business models. Why so? Why are you a believer in events, retreats and experiences?
Michelle
Maybe it's a function of my personality. When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. What I found is that people love to gather. When they gather with purpose, with intention with other like-minded people with similar core values, magic happens. I've always loved the magic of events. Even as a kid I loved parties. I remember even as a fifteen-year-old just crying my eyes out if I couldn't be at a party, if I wasn't allowed or if I was grounded or if I couldn't get a ride. I was just inconsolable because all I wanted to do was be around the people. I wanted to dance and I wanted to have fun. I have always been somebody who has derived tremendous value from being around other people, in an environment where we're all doing something similar, doing it together like having a party. In business, when I was in the magazine, that was one thing that I excelled at doing, putting together these big events. That's how I generated the turnaround that I did for the magazine.
The magazine that I had that I was working on was failing. It was failing because nobody could sell ads in the magazine including me when I took over it. I couldn't sell them either. Nobody wanted them but they wanted our parties. Ocean Drive Español had the best parties because Latins know how to party. I turned around that magazine, not by myself, by strategically shifting our focus away from selling ad pages and toward selling these experiences, selling sponsorships at these experiences. When I started my business a few years later, very early into it I got the idea, "If I did events for the magazine and they were so successful maybe I could do my own." That's where the women's success summit was born out of this combination of a desire to create these opportunities for women and a desire to monetize something that I knew I was good at. Monetize my magic in a new way. That's how it started and what ended up happening was that I got burnt out on these big events. It's a hustle to put a few hundred people into a ballroom and to get them to register. Get them to pay even if it was just $100 or $200.
I got pretty burnt out on it and then I met some mentors years ago who showed me this new model, this new way of doing it which was small events, retreats. It was a game changer for me. I loved that model. It was so much easier. We were selling a much higher price point and I also learned how to sell in a new way through conversations rather than trying to get people to click a button and buy. I was on the phone with people and enrolling them into these small retreats that I knew were transformational. That's how the new model started. It was just a transition because I was burnt out and I wanted to have more fun. I wanted to have more intimate relationships too. Doing that, my business actually quadrupled in the first year in the first fourteen months. From then on it was like, "How do I do more of this and how do I optimize this model?" The last four years have been learning to optimize the small event, this retreat/immersion model. We've gotten it so fine-tuned we're teaching other people how to do it and it's going well.
Dustin
I want our WealthFit Nation to get an understanding of the money that we're talking, what the possibilities are of doing a small retreat in terms of income. What are some of the things that you've witnessed, that you've seen some of your clients do?
Michelle
On the frontend, what I've seen work well is price points at around $2,000 for a seat at a retreat. That might sound a lot to people especially if they're used to doing events for $50 or $100 or $200. I get it because that was me. That's where I was, but what happens is getting 200 people at $200, I find way harder than getting ten people at $2,000. Especially if you're doing it once a quarter. If you do four events a year, one per quarter and you put just ten in the room every quarter times $2,000, you're already looking at $20,000 upfront on your revenues. The cool part about this model is that the frontend is not where the money is made, the money is made on the big backend.
The big backend is whatever premium of a monthly recurring program you can offer on the backend of that. We've seen people with a $2,000 price point upfront very easily enroll people into a $1,000 a month price point on the backend. For example, we had a client and she had nine people in the room and seven of them enrolled in her program, which was $1,000 a month on the backend. There's a lot and we're not going to get into about how to enroll them and what's the offer that would enroll people. Knowing that it's possible and that it's easy and that if you have the right people in the room and the right offer, you could see a conversion like that. You can see how she ended up with over $7,000 a month in monthly recurring revenue.
That was brand new from one three-day event. That was her first time out the gate. We have one client who sold in four weeks from the time we redesigned with her business model and came up with her retreat package for $2,500. She put fifteen people into her program. It's fifteen times 2,500. I don't know. That's $37,500. We're not even counting the backed revenue, which is where the long-term big backend is. We're not even looking at whatever her program is, which will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 a month. Let's say she gets five of them or let's say ten of them to say yes, that’s a nice chunk of change in recurring revenue every month. We've seen that over and over. We've seen conversion rates from three-day retreats from a low of about 30% to a high of about 70%. To be fair, we actually have one program where we had a 100% conversion, but I don't think of that as a great example as it were only a few people in the room. That was only three prospects on that particular event. When you do a three-day event and you deliver tremendous value and you create tremendous intimacy and you create a culture of support and contribution, people want more of that.
Dustin
We could feel your passion and your energy. I believe you could tell that you're an outgoing person. What do you say to the person that maybe wasn't like you in high school or in college and doesn't enjoy a great party in terms of being the center of attention or being on the stage? How does someone benefit that's maybe a little introverted from this?
Michelle
I built my very first retreats from one-on-one conversations. Our sales model still to this day is built on one-on-one 45-minute calls. You don't have to be extroverted to have a conversation one-on-one with somebody. I will say this though, you've got to figure out a way to get on those conversations. That's where potentially the challenge comes in. For me, what works as a marketing strategy is speaking engagements. Speaking engagements are the number one source of new prospects. Our number two source neck and neck with speaking our referrals from existing clients. Anybody introverted or extroverted can generate referrals. I believe that anybody introverted or extroverted can do speaking engagements too if they have the right system, which is what I learned from you.
I believe that if you're capable of putting together a presentation and you can deliver it live in person in front of a big room of people, but you can also deliver it virtually as a webinar and that's even more effective. You can reach a much broader audience that way. You don't have to be an extrovert to do a webinar. You just got it be okay with staring into a camera and sharing your wisdom that way. I don't think that being an introvert would stop anybody. In fact, we have clients who consider themselves introverted who are doing this model. I do think that it would behoove them to make sure that they have marketing strategies in place that will drive these one-on-one conversations. Making a $2,000-ish sale is going to be way easier over the phone than trying to automate that.
Dustin
I want to move into rapid-fire questions. What's been your most worthwhile investment?
Michelle
It would be mentorship, 100%, no reservations. Investing in mentoring and not in every single program. Not every single program has been as good as any other, but there have been certain things that I've invested in and you being one of them that has paid off for me. I would say mentoring the first time around when I learned this new business model and I learned this new way of selling, that was a game changer. That was worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to me. Learning how to design and deliver my presentation was a huge benefit. That was something I'm glad I invested in. I invest more in mentoring than almost anything else. Being mentored and receiving leadership and learning new things. With the cautionary piece of not over-investing in things that I don't have time to do, and that's happened to me too.
Dustin
I appreciate the kind words. I'm curious because oftentimes we learn from our mistakes. I'm not necessarily asking for names. I want you to think back to a time where you made an investment and not necessarily in a program but maybe just an investment, whether that was in the personal finance world or stock or something like that. What's that one investment that you'd rather not talk about that you'll learn the most from?
Michelle
In this particular one, which I'll say outright, it was investing in these insurance policies. They were annuities, I believe. I still have them but I try to ignore them. I feel like I got suckered in and I knew it. The guy felt slimy and sleazy to me and I felt his desire to close me and sell me. I should have known better. I didn't trust him fully. My intuition knew better and my intuition warned me, and I ignored it. For me, that's been the multiple awakenings. I have been learning to trust and to tap into my intuition and my inner knowing. I'm very wise inside deep down and sometimes I just need space and time to check into that place that knows.
Dustin
What is your guilty pleasure spend, maybe a splurge? Michelle is doing great, business is rocking.
Michelle
This is true. I spend money on programs. Back into that, cowboy boots. I love fabulous cowboy boots.
Dustin
Is that from your childhood?
Michelle
I think so. I grew up in Colorado until we moved to the Dominican Republic, which as you can imagine was quite a culture shock. I didn't even own my first pair of cowboy boots until in my twenties. I just thought about it because I'm in Dallas and I was thinking, “Maybe I can stop to buy cowboy boots during my way to the airport.” I have many other guilty pleasures too but that was the most present one.
Dustin
What about your best personal finance tip?
Michelle
My best personal finance tip is the same as my best business finance tip, which is read the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It's a game-changer. It allowed me within the first year of implementing it to have enough of a down payment to buy a nice house, which I'd never been able to do before by myself. I always had to get some help with the down payment. I built up that nest egg within a year. I'm a big fan of Mike's. I'm a friend of his as well. I interviewed him on my podcast and I think his Profit First System is genius.
Dustin
In the last years, what new belief has most improved your life?
Michelle
"I am not the magical unicorn," is my mantra that reminds me that I am not the source of everything. For example, I used to think that when I went and led a retreat that I was the source of all the magic in the room, that I had to have all the answers, that I had to make sure that everybody got their outcome. What I realized instead is that when you put the right people in the room with the right intention and with the right structure, magic happens. I can sit back and trust that the magic will happen. I do not have to be the magical unicorn providing all the magic in the room.
Dustin
I'm curious because you get a lot of opportunities. You're a superstar. You're attracted to creation in the last year or two, what have you become better at saying no to?
Michelle
I become better at saying no to invitations to do things that I don't want to do. I have become much more intentional about holding boundaries around my time. Giving myself space to be by myself and alone and recover and take care of myself. Go to yoga and get massages. In the past, I've always had a full social calendar and a lot of times that was filled with stuff that I was doing because I felt obligated to. I had to. I should. Now, I do a lot more of the things that I want and a lot less of the things that I should.
Dustin
What about your success routines? What do you do to get yourself in stage or be successful or stay true to you? Any rituals?
Michelle
My morning ritual is a huge part of my awakening and a huge part of what I consider my grounding. I used to be very anxious, fearful and operate a lot from a place of hustle, "I've got to do this. I've got to do that. I'm so busy and everybody wants a piece of me." There was a lot of that ego and self-importance. What I've stepped into is first of all, myself, my North Star being around contribution. It's more around, “How to be the best version of myself so that I can bring more value and gifts to the table, to the planet?” One of the ways that I've found to do that is by becoming more centered and grounded. One of the ways to do that is by opening up my day with meditation and a morning practice that is involved. It's about an hour long. Some days it's a little longer. Some days it’s a little shorter, but it’s a pretty involved morning practice that I'm devoted to every single day. From that place, I find that I tap into that inner wisdom a lot easier, a lot more by just having that stillness practice in the morning and yoga is another one.
Dustin
Michelle, thank you big time for being on the show. I appreciate you taking the time for us and sharing what you're up to in the world. If folks want to learn more about retreats, about Michelle, about what she's up to, where can folks find you?
Michelle
They can just go to SuperstarActivator.com. It’s where we house pretty much everything, access to our mailing list, to our podcast, Awaken Your Inner Superstar and access to my programs. If you want to hop on a call with one of us to learn about our programs, it's the center hub for everything. If they want to learn about retreats, we are giving away the Retreats to Riches Roadmap at RetreatsToRichesRoadmap.com. That's the place where you can download a one-page planner to plan your first retreat. Strategically plan it all the way through and look at the logistics part, the dates, the venues and all that. It's all on this one page. Then there's a legend that goes along with it of questions that walk you through it. It's a self-planner if somebody wants to check that out.
Dustin
Thanks, Michelle. I appreciate you again being on the show and sharing your wisdom with what you're up to.
Michelle
Thank you. I believe so much in what you do and that's why I keep bringing you into my crew so that you can impart your wisdom to them. I love our collaboration. I look forward to more of it in the future.

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