VysionQuest Blog

Carmen Marshall Interview with Rick Cowley

Carmen Marshall is entrepreneur and business + lifestyle coach who lives on Maui. She’s done the VysionQuest three times. She inspires the sh*t out of me. Soak up some of her precious business/life wisdom in this interview.

01:24 — Living off-the-grid on Maui
08:05 — Why dance?
15:18 — Crossroads moments in Carmen’s life
18:20 — Leaving the 9 to 5
19:15 — 3 pivotal books/experiences
21:09 — Carmen’s mentors
22:14 — Authentic communication
28:00 — What she loves about business
30:09 — How to have a better relationship with money
36:52 — Overcoming self doubt
38:25 — Two recent business challenges
41:56 — Advice for entrepreneurs
44:38 — What she would change
46:58 — Stop perfectionism
51:10 — Give your dreams time

Recorded on Mar 5, 2018, Carmen on Maui and Rick on Bali

Rick: Alright. Hello, Carmen.

Carmen: Hi Rick.

Rick: Hi. You know I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now and ask you some questions about your life.

You’re a really inspiring woman and… I mean these are just questions that I’m curious about your life. And, you know, I’m fortunate to have gotten to know you a bit over the last many years since you did the first retreat with me, and we’ve crossed paths many times.

And some of these questions I still, you know, don’t know about you, and I think it would be inspiring for the people in our community, and people who want to have, you know, a greater sense of designing their lives, listen to this conversation.

I think they’ll come away with not only inspiration, but some practical tips and perspectives.

So first off, thank you so much for making the time to talk to me and let’s start with where are you right now?

Carmen: Well, first of all I’m super happy to be doing this, so it’s always good to connect, Rick, and I know you sent a few questions through before and as I mentioned it was inspiring for me to think about these questions. So, super excited.

I’m in Maui right now. So we bought a house about a year and half ago here. So we’ve been here for about a year and half. And I love it. It’s very… those of you who have been to Bali, it’s very similar to that, but I also really miss Bali. Because Bali is one of my heart’s places as well.

Living off-the-grid on Maui

Rick: And this is a house that you actually lived in years previously or what’s… can you tell me the story about it a little bit?

Carmen: Yeah, it’s pretty synchronistic. So, in 2012 is when I started living around the world. And that was one of the reasons why I wanted to start businesses is I wanted to live around the world doing what I loved.

And I built my businesses up for years and finally 2012 was when I was able to actually start doing that.

And I started with Maui and Bali. And I found this architect who had built a house in Maui and he also had a house in Seminyak in Bali. But he would go back every two months. So I would live in his Maui house, rent it from him, and then we would trade and I would rent his Seminyak house.

Rick: Really!?

Carmen: Yeah, so it was just when I was looking to live in Maui and Bali, and it was like how in the world would you find a situation like that? So I rented the place.

And what’s really funny is when I used to live here back in 2012 I always felt like it was kind of mine. But of course at the time, you know, it just wouldn’t have been possible.

So then about two years ago I saw it… And then I had kind of moved on where I was living more of my time in Bali, and I actually then bought a place in Miami.

I was doing Bali and Miami. And then when we were doing Bali and Australia, because I keep looking for this Western place to live. The house came up for sale. Just totally out of the blue.

And I just kind of knew I had to buy it. Like it was one of those synchronistic things where you’re like this is sort of meant to be. So yeah, we ended up buying it.

Rick: And so you’ve been there for a year and half… and when I was talking to you the other day to touch base before this call, you told me that it was off the grid.

So I wanted to ask you about that, because this is something that I think a lot of people are interested in. You know, living a more sustainable life.

So the first question is, what’s it like? What are the pluses and minuses of living off the grid where you are.

And was this something that you were searching for? An off-the-grid house? Or was it that the off-the-gridness came with the awesome house?

Carmen: Good question. And for people who don’t know what “off the grid” means, because a lot of people don’t know, and I didn’t really know, it means where you’re totally sustainable. Not with electricity from you know like systems. Or you have your own water catchment.

So literally everything is run by solar panel. So every single thing in the house. And we have our own water catchment, which means when it rains it rolls off the roof into a huge water tank and then gets put through a reverse osmosis system. So basically it means that the world could shut down and you could still live, is how I kind of describe it.

And it’s great. Because you feel like you’re contributing to the planet’s health.

I wouldn’t say there’s that many challenges other than you have to be a little bit more careful of using electricity, say for example if the sun doesn’t come out for a couple of days, so then you’re a little bit more mindful.

You know you might not run the the dryer for you know a day or so.

But it’s really not that hard. You’ve got generators. Like if the sun doesn’t come out for a few days you can just run your generator. Although we hate to do that because that’s gas. And then you feel like you’re defeating the whole purpose of being off the grid.

And other things that are probably a little bit of a challenge until you get used to it is that you have satellite internet. You don’t have your typical internet, so you have to get used to, like we only have 150 megabytes of bandwidth. And that can be a little… you have to get used to that. Especially if you have an internet based business like I do.

But it’s so worth it.

Rick: Yeah cool, and you’re actually like on the ocean. Do you see the sunset? Do you see the sunrise? What direction are you facing?

Carmen: Yeah, every sunrise it comes through our windows. So literally you can see it through your toes. So we wake up to the sunrise.

And then it sets on the other side of course, but you can still see the rays, like you see… It’s almost like you see a sunset without the sun being there. Just how the rays kind of refract over. But it’s the sunrise that we see every morning.

And because you’re out in nature, like we’re 25 minutes away from Paia, which is the nearest… it’s a little cute hippie town. Just gorgeous.

But it’s 25 minutes away. So here there’s no lights so you see the stars. You know like if any of you have ever gone camping, and there’s no lights around, you just see the stars and the moon much more clearly. So that’s really special here, too.

Rick: Beautiful. So obviously your sound pretty grateful for your house and you know your living situation. What else in your life, if I just say what are you grateful for — and you know this is one of my favorite topics — what else comes to your mind right now?

Carmen: Definitely my partner, Peter, who’s also my business partner. So romantic partner and business partner.

Our cats. We have three rescue cats that we got when they were probably about six weeks old and they’re all brothers and sisters.

Rick: Did you get them on Bali and bring them to Maui? Is that right?

Carmen: No, we wanted to. So in Bali I had rescue cats too. So our maid, our pembantu, in Bali still takes care of them. We pay her to take care of our cats, instead of us. So they’re taken so well care of.

We tried to get them to Maui, but it was just, it’s really hard to get them out of Bali. So we kind of in essence sort of gave up. But they’ve got good homes and when we get back we’ll see them.

But here we got three more rescue kittens about seven months ago. And they’re just adorable. I love cats. They just bring you so much joy. I mean pets just give that extra dimension. So I’m grateful for them.

Really happy because I’m teaching dance three times a week. And it took me a little bit longer to find the right places to teach in Maui. And if I’m not teaching, it’s always a missing.

So now I’m teaching in three places I just love in different places on the island. And that works well because we live way out in nature, so it’s actually good to go teach somewhere like an hour away that can seem like a drive, but it’s just so nice to get somewhere different on the island.

Why dance?

Rick: Yeah. You bring up dance, so this is something I wanted to talk to you about. I remember when you went through the VysionQuest process the first time you kind of fell in love again with dance, or realizing that you wanted dance to be a regular part of your life, because you love it so much

So why do you like dance? What do you love about it? What’s your experience when you dance?

Carmen: Well there’s so many things. I think the biggest thing is… I think dance, once you really let go, is where you really feel your real personality. Like you could be really authentic, your life force really comes out, you feel freedom, you feel joy, it can change your mood — just like that.

And what I love — I love dancing myself — but I also love teaching it because once people realize they don’t have to get it perfectly or get the right steps, you can see this joy, and the true them come out. And I just love seeing that, especially someone who didn’t think they could dance.

So when you see that like, “Oh my God, this is so fun!” I just love that look and they’re just really in their own essence. Their own personality.

And for me it’s probably… It’s a great way to keep fit obviously, and I’m really into fitness. And I really believe in exercise as a ritual for entrepreneurs.

But I just love the freedom that it gives me, the creativity. You know when you’re an entrepreneur you have to be really focused and work obviously, and so dance just is that counter, completely different, I can let go, have fun, relax, and yeah.

It probably is my biggest thing that gives me the strongest life force. The strongest energy.

Rick: Yeah, and so you you talk about teaching dance and enjoying facilitating that experience for people. So can you tell me about… you know this is like one of my favorite topics of… when you can…

Well basically what I found with our purpose and what’s really fulfilling for us is about uplifting and empowering other people. Like there’s this kind of universal thing among my participants, when I quiz people I say you know, if I had a magic wand and could just tap you on the head, and you could do anything, what would you want to do?

And most people say a version of, “I would want to take away other people’s suffering and I want to awaken them to the powerful creator that they are and to help them have more joy and happiness in their life.”

And what’s so interesting for me is like helping people find their ways. You know each person has their own recipe for doing that. So it sounds like you have a couple different ways that you do that, but dance sounds like one of your favorite ways.

Do you find that it empowers and uplifts people and takes away their suffering and helps them be more joyful?

Carmen: Absolutely. It can shift the mood of someone so quickly, so there’s that. But it’s also I think… I think in life there’s so many things that we’re trying to get right or be perfect or be great at. And we have this idea that we have to be really perfect in everything to be successful.

But dance… there’s something where when you let go, that your true joy comes out. And it’s in that letting go and not trying to get it perfect that everything starts working.

And so for me, it’s a real metaphor for life. Like the more I can get people to let go on the dance floor and not care what everyone thinks around them. And to realize like everyone’s worried about what they look like so forget about that. Just have your joy, like dance your spirit, dance your essence.

And then that translates into life. They’re more willing to let go in life. They’re more willing to be authentic. They’re more willing to be quirky. Because in dance class they can be quirky and kind of assume a persona.

I just find it’s a real metaphor for success because, we know, if we concentrate too hard on stuff it just doesn’t work. When we let go, when we flow, everything starts working.

And so dance for me is a… I use it at my retreats, I use it for all my clients. I tell them, “Go dance. That will help your business. That will help your money. That will help your relationships.”

It helps everything.

Rick: Yeah. And what’s the feeling like for you when you see someone go through that little transformation, whether it’s a over a few minutes or an hour on the dance floor or something. What’s that like for you to see that?

Carmen: That’s probably… It’s probably my biggest joy. Like when I think of like okay, well why do I teach dance?

When someone who thinks — especially if they think they couldn’t dance or they’re not good at it — and then they have that breakthrough that, “Wow, when I actually stop worrying, when I just let go, I’m actually dancing. And I’m dancing in my own style.”

And that look of joy that just comes over their face like, “Oh my God, I’m actually doing this!”

And there’s not as much fear. There’s not as much care about what people think.

That to me is when I’ve touched someone because I know they’ll go out into life and do the same thing. They’ll start being more of themselves. They’ll start relaxing. They’ll start efforting less. And they’ll just… they start having more fun.

I think everyone should dance.

Rick: Yeah, and they also have like a new… almost a new kind of a standard. I don’t know if that’s the right word. But the next time they’re on the dance floor they know, if they’ve shown up and they’re feeling a little stiff or disconnected, they know what it feels like to go through that process of letting go and getting connected. And they’ll probably be able to ease into that a little quicker and a little quicker and a little quicker on the dance floor. And in life too I would imagine.

Carmen: Yeah, absolutely. I remember one of my favorite experiences was a girl that came to one of my retreats. And she was like, “Carmen, I really want to do everything on this retreat, but I don’t want to dance.”

And I was like, “It’s okay.” Ya know… “We’re not gonna make you.”

I said, “Well, come to ecstatic dance,” because that’s one of the things I do is by the third day we take everyone to ecstatic dance. And I was like, “Just come. You don’t have to join in. You can just sit on the side, and we’ll come over and talk to you.

And slowly by slowly, because she didn’t feel… you know, we weren’t pushing her or forcing her… She tried a little bit. And a little bit more. And then by the end of that ecstatic dance she was just so in love with it.

But what was so amazing is the end of the retreat. She was like, “Dance has changed my life. I’m now going to start taking classes to become a teacher.”

And this is from someone who’s like, “I don’t want to dance at all at your retreat” to, “I want to be a dance teacher.”

So that probably is one of my favorite… just seeing the unfolding and the joy that happened for her. To go from, “I can’t and I’m really scared and I’m afraid to look like a fool.”

To, “Oh my God, I feel so great and I want to help other people feel this way too.”

Rick: Yeah, that’s huge. That’s beautiful. Cool.

I’m gonna change topics a little bit.

Crossroads moments in Carmen’s life

I love synchronicities. I love life changing moments. What have been a couple of the crossroads moments in your life?

Carmen: Well, I definitely think the house was a super synchronistic thing. The house that I bought — even renting it back in 2012 came from when I was here in Maui six months previous and followed a rainbow from the main city, 45 minutes away, that ended where this house was.

So there’s so much like… that’s not even possible! It’s just so crazy. So things like that.

Rick: So wait, you were what driving around? Or what happened?

Carmen: I was actually doing a retreat in the same area, so 45 minutes from the main town, and then I drove into the main town Kahului, which is where the airport is as well. I was going into, I don’t know, a restaurant or something.

And I was thinking about… Because I already knew I wanted to live on Maui.

This is actually interesting. Probably when I was in my late teens or twenties I read a book by Wayne Dyer that I loved. And in the preface where it explained his biography it said that he wrote his books from Maui. And I was like, “I’m gonna live in Maui one day.” And that’s actually why I ended up in Maui.

So I came here for a retreat and then when I was here. I was like I want to move from California at the time and move to Maui. And I’d asked the retreat leader, “Do you know anyone that’s renting a place similar to the place I’m staying?”

Because it was so unique, it was octagonal. Just very very unique. All open plan.

And he said, “Yeah, there’s this guy. I’ll introduce you to him.”

So when I was in town. I was thinking about that. And I saw this rainbow. And I was driving home to the same area. But it just happened that where that rainbow ended was this house. So it’s not too far from where I was staying like, maybe 10 minutes. But still the rainbow ended right here. Like right outside in the ocean.

So I knew it was the perfect place to rent. And then obviously you know down the line to buy. So it was just kind of meant to… The whole thing was meant to be.

Rick: I love it.

Carmen: You know I probably wouldn’t have even gotten to Bali as easily if I hadn’t have had a place on Maui that I was living for two months and then going to Bali for two months and then going back. That was very synchronistic because I realized how much I loved Bali through that very easy way of getting introduced to Bali.

Leaving the 9 to 5

Other synchronistic things… Do you mean more like synchronicity or more like things that have really impacted where I headed in my life?

Rick: Yeah, that somehow changed the direction… When you look back you can see,”Oh that was the moment where there was an introduction made or an idea came or some synchronistic thing came,” but it actually changed the trajectory of your life. And what you ended up doing.

Carmen: Yeah, there’s a big moment when I went from thinking I was just going to be in a typical nine to five job and climb the corporate ladder and get a corner office. Like that literally… You know my goal was I wanted to be an ambassador and and just have a great office and be thought well of.

And I had no aspiration to be an entrepreneur. I was an English Lit major.

Rick: When you say ambassador what do you mean?

Carmen: Oh like a you know working say in the American Embassy in France. Not a political Ambassador, but more communication.

Rick: International.

Carmen: Exactly. But that was like the height of my… no aspiration to be an entrepreneur, at any stretch of the imagination. And I had someone challenge me on that idea.

Like, “What, you just want to be a… Like just climb the ladder, and that’s it? And just have a big corner office?”

And I kind of started thinking about that. I was like, “Yeah, maybe that’s not enough.”

3 pivotal books/experiences

And then I read Think and Grow Rich. And I think that was a culmination of understanding how I could impact people. And that if I really focused on what people wanted and what they needed and being of service then that could be my business. And you’ll be rewarded financially for that. So that kind of opened up my mind to entrepreneurship and how to make money.

And I think that was the shift for me like, “Oh you make money by helping other people.”

Because I came from a religious background. I’m not religious now, but… where money was really looked down upon. So I didn’t have a good relationship with money when I was younger.

So that changed my relationship to money. Being of service. That money is a result of being of service. So that was a huge… Think and Grow Rich really opened up my mind.

Then Ask and It’s Given was the next book that really helped me because that focused on “do what you love while you’re on your way to creating a business.”

So that book was amazing.

And then the third thing was actually Surf Life. So when Vysion Quest used to be Surf Life, that was the third massive impact.

I was already doing what I loved in my business. So by this time I was teaching dance. And when I started teaching dance and be more in my joy that’s when my businesses took off. Like hugely.

But Surf Life made it go from teaching dance twice a week to everything that I did was centered around what I loved. And so because it was more a body experience going to retreat… Like we’re surfing… All these principles were actually doing. Like it somehow got embodied so much more.

I was already doing it a little bit, but not to the level that I did it after the VysionQuest for the first time.

So those are three big… Two books… And people. You know I mean people always influence you hugely.

Carmen’s mentors

Rick: That’s my next question. Is there like a mentor? Someone that really helped guide you on your path and empower you?

Carmen: Yeah, I think my ex-husband, who I’m still really good friends with, an Australian that lives in Canada. He was the one that challenged me like, “What you just want to corner office? That’s all you want?”

So that was like a really good mentorship if you will.

I also had a mutual friend of ours, Adam Hudson, he was someone that I did my first company with in Australia. So he had a massive impact on my mindset.

I had an amazing life coach called Juliana Gambrell who’s now one of my closest friends. And she was all about speaking your truth.

And that was something that I really had to learn after I came out of my divorce because I realized like one of the reasons that I got divorced was I wasn’t able to speak my truth.

So really figuring out like, what do I feel? How can I speak that with grace and love? But be really authentic and truthful to what I’m feeling. So she had another huge impact on me.

Authentic communication

Rick: Can I ask you about that? Because that is another one of my favorite topics, is how do we speak authentically? And like you know represent ourselves authentically? And say what we want? And be able to tell people what we want? What’s okay? What’s not okay? To be able to stand up for ourselves.

And I think for most people we weren’t raised that way. And so it’s like this kind of a new concept that you have to become introduced to. And then you have to you have to kind of seek out people that are wanting to be like that too. Be authentic too. Like in our relationships, the people that we work with, our friends, bring it into our families.

And I’m really lucky to have pretty much surrounded myself with people and situations where we can speak like that. You know, when it’s uncomfortable, but to realize, to feel that when something needs to be said.

Can you tell me a little bit about what that transformation was like for you, and how you feel now?

Carmen: Yeah, absolutely. Because you can… Yeah, there’s definitely a journey.

I think the first thing that I had to realize when I started with the coaching program, the Handfell Group, because they were really into this as well, is that I didn’t even know what I truly felt.

Like I didn’t even know what I wanted, Because say for example if you’ve grown up with not speaking your truth, sometimes it’s not even that you’re not just speaking it. You don’t even know what it is.

So I had to go through this, really getting in touch with what do I feel? Not based on, “Well how is this person going to receive it? Is it going to be hard for them to hear?”

Because if you focus on that, then that stops you from really figuring out what you want or feel.

So I had to let go of… Okay, not worrying about how it’s going to affect this person or how they’re going to feel, first of all. Not talking to them, but just, because obviously you want to care how it impacts them. But let me get straight on what do I feel first and what do I need.

And then I had to learn how to speak it with grace and love, because everything that we say impacts somebody else as well.

And then I think the other big learning was… and this is something I still practice because speaking your truth isn’t a one-time event. Like you don’t just do it once and then you’ve done it forever. It’s always. Every single day you have an opportunity to speak your truth or step over it.

And I have found the sooner that I speak about something the less mess there is. I’ve seen it time and time again. If I don’t bring it up in a very gentle way it builds and then it cascades into this thing that becomes more unmanageable and it can cause more hurt.

And we all have this. Like for me like I’ll get this uneasy feeling. Like it just doesn’t feel right. Or I start feeling stressed or anxious. And I know that’s my cue, like I’m not saying something.

And I remember we had to talk a long time ago where I was saying, I think something like, I said, “I’m feeling a little bit depressed and just not happy.”

And you said something. The only time you really feel that way is if you’re not speaking your truth. You’re not being authentic.

And that made me realize, ooh there’s a couple of conversations I need to have with people.

With that… yeah, this is something I would suggest for anyone to do. If you’re feeling the lack of energy or depressed or unfocused or something, is to look and see what area or areas of your life where you’re not being authentic. And it could be like in your relationship, or a friendship, or something you need to make right. Or it could be in your business, how you’re presenting yourself.

And I agree that it’s an ongoing thing. As we all have new dynamics and relationships and friendships and everything.

But all that was just amazing. Amazing. Anything else that you want to say about authentically communicating?

Rick: Yeah, I think the other thing too is that there’s two sides to speaking your truth. Like we when we speak it we don’t know how the person is going to react. And they may not react well. They may react well. We don’t know.

But that can’t stop you from speaking your truth, like whatever the reaction is going to be.

Of course we… again I always go back to: we have to say it with grace and love. Because we’re affecting another human being as well.

But on the other side of that is sometimes even if we fear it’s going to impact the person negatively, they’re going to hate us. Sometimes that’s not even the case. Like it’s the best thing for them. It frees them too.

So I’ve just really learned… I don’t know what the reaction is going to be. But I know if I speak my truth it’s going to work out in some way. Even if it’s a parting of ways, it’s okay. Because if we had stayed together… And I’m not talking about just romantic relationships. Business relationships. Friendships. If you’re staying together when there’s not truth, it’s not worth it.

I really believe if you tell the truth the universe… you might go like, you might go like this you, you might go like that. But it works out, and you feel much better.

Carmen: Yeah, yeah. Beautiful!

What she loves about business

Rick: Okay, let’s talk a little bit about business and the business side of your life.

So from what I’ve known about you, your mind and your heart love business. And you get turned on and switched on when you’re combining your heart and your passion with business and making money and empowering other people to make money.

So can you just tell me, what do you love about business?

Carmen: I love… I love feeling ownership of something. That it’s it’s mine. And that I’m helping to say take it from nothing into something. I like the responsibility of it. A feeling like I’m actually creating my destiny. I’m creating my business. I’m in control. In a good way though.

And some people love their 9 to 5 job. I just… For me, I didn’t like it. Like when I was in a 9 to 5 job.

I like to be able to direct… Okay, maybe if we’re not making enough money, I can change it up. I don’t have to go through the hierarchy of the company to change that. I can do something about that.

Now the flip side is you’re responsible for everything. But I’d rather be responsible for everything than not have any control. So I like that.

I also really like making money. I like seeing that there’s a cause and an effect. So if I’m producing value, there’s going to be a monetary result. And I really like that.

And I really like helping people see that too. And it’s probably because I didn’t grow up with a good relationship with money. So then when that switched and I realized money’s just energy, and if you focus on serving other people you’ll make money.

And I loved helping people make that transition as well. Because there’s a lot of people that have so much heart, you know whether it’s a yoga teacher or a coach, but they’re not making as much money — as they should be I think — and a lot of times it’s just a little switch. And that’s what I really love helping people with too.

How to have a better relationship with money

Rick: Yeah. This was going to be one of my questions for you is that I think that one of the things you do is help people have a healthier relationship with money. More healthy vibrational relationship with money.

What are one or two of the negative habits or pitfalls that people fall into with their relationship with money? And what are some practices or new perspectives that you would suggest for people.?

Carmen: Mmmm. Yeah, I love this topic.

One of the biggest things is if you’re worried about money, a lot of people just put their head in the sand and don’t even look at their finances, and that’s like the worst thing you can do. Because, I really have seen this, whatever we focus on expands. And once we get really clear on what our money situation is it actually will get better. So rather than getting worse it will get better because you’re seeing okay, this is what my bank account is. This is the income. This is the expenses.

So a little thing that you can do, that I recommend everyone does, is the first to the third of the month, somewhere in there, have a spreadsheet where you’ve got your bank account, you know however you have your savings, your investments, etc…

And you can use Mint for this too. So Mint.com is a free service.

But I still do this every month, is I just see where’s all my income, and my investments, everything is at.

Because the very fact if we do that, subconsciously we’re going to, if say for example our expenses are up and our income is down, will start thinking, “Well what can I do to get my income up?” and, “Oh I need to be saving a little bit more.”

If we ignore it. It just gets worse. So that’s one of the things I would say is track your money and your expenses. And it can be daunting at first, but that is what is going to have the quickest thing in turning your money situation around.

A tiny little thing and it’s just more a fun thing to do is I always tell people organize your money. So you know have your bank accounts, your investments, be very clear with it, and then in your wallet keep your money organized. And I always say that money loves organization. It doesn’t like chaos. It likes an organized mind.

So I always imagine if my wallet is organized with all the bills in the right order, money is just going to come into that wallet. So it’s a tiny thing, but I really believe when you see successful people, their houses are neat, their car is neat, their wallet is neat. And there’s something about neatness… I really believe the universe loves organization, so even if you’re an artist and your studio is a mess, at least have your wallet and your money organized, because money is attracted to that. So that’s a tiny little thing.

If you have kids this is something that I think is so important. From the very beginning, if you’re giving kids an allowance, have them either have — like I just had jars when I was little — but have them have a jar for say college, for their travel fund, for their their clothing fund, for their toys. So that every time they get money, they’re putting it into a fund. And that’s really important for kids.

They might not connect as much if it goes into a bank account, especially when they’re young, as having jars. Because that will get into the mind of allocating money to something that they want, that they’re putting it in there.

And it was from work, from from chores, from whatever it is.

That’s something I don’t know who taught me when I was young, I I don’t know, but I know that impacted me later on. And so that’s I think something we can do for kids because it’s not taught in schools.

Rick: Yeah, I like that. And I want to say with the the organizing your money in your wallet, that’s something that you taught me years ago, and that is something I do, like every two days or something when it gets a little disorganized, I will reorder them. And every time I do it I think of you. I’m like, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, keep it organized!”

And the other thing was I used to have a business teaching surfing in Los Angeles, in a previous lifetime, and one of my clients went on to create a couple of the biggest television shows.

And in his office at home, his desk was… it was this big wooden desk that had almost nothing on it. And then… He had it completely organized. He had his laptop closed. And then he had a bulletin board that was very sparse, just with some images and quotes and maybe like magazine clippings of things that were meaningful to him, that inspired him.

And this guy, I mean, with all the stuff he had going on his head, and you know, the organization he was running and everything he was writing and all the writers working for him… It could have been just total chaos, but every time I went I would look at his office at home, I was like… super tidy you know, guitar in the corner, and super tidy.

It made a huge impression on me that it was more about having a space to create, and honoring that space.

Carmen: Yeah. And I know that’s not… like oftentimes artists… Because it’s different personalities, can operate with lots in their space and lots of color, but I think at least, even if it’s not your whole area that’s super organized, at least with money or at least with something being organized, helps money come in more.

Because with money we do have to be organized. You know, we just have to. There’s bills to be paid, etc…

The other thing I would say is definitely diversify early on and be saving early on. I mean, it’s an old concept. But from um… what’s that book that I read years ago… But basically at least saving 10%.

But I would say definitely like no matter even if you’re making just a little bit of money, be saving. Because that over time just accumulates. And one thing I learned from Tony Robbins I think maybe three years ago is there’s a company called Vanguard that doesn’t charge fees for your mutual fund.

So I moved my money from a mutual fund that was being managed, where the profit was practically eaten up completely by the fees. And I didn’t even know.

And so when I switched Vanguard, you know there’s no fees. So that’s something I recommend.

Everyone, you need to be saving. And then diversify as well. So I have things like in a bank account. I have some in Vanguard. I have other investments. But really important.

Overcoming self doubt

Rick: Awesome. Thank you. Okay, my next question is: can you tell us about a some hurdle or challenge you faced in your professional life, with a business, and how you got through it and what you learned?

Carmen: I think the biggest probably is when I started when I was 27, because I was an English lit major as I mentioned, so I started business. And just feeling like wanting to be an entrepreneur, but then you start, and then you realize,”Oh my goodness, I’m gonna be talking to men and people so much more advanced than me, and I’m just this little 27 year old girl.”

So I had to get over feeling like I wasn’t competent enough. And how I did that was really just going back to what I wanted. And then believing in that dream so much, and using that as something to pull me towards what I wanted.

And then every time the doubt came in I would look at, remember, like why I wanted what I wanted.

But the other thing I would do is I would think of the pain. And the pain if I wasn’t successful being an entrepreneur, I’d have to go back and work for somebody else.

So I would actually use my dream to pull me and I use the pain to keep kicking me until I reached where there’s no way I’d ever have to go back and work for someone. Then the dream could just pull me.

But I recommend that to people when you start. You may need the dream, and you may need the pain to push you, until the dream just takes over and you don’t need the the pain of going back to a 9 to 5 job to push you.

Two recent business challenges

So that was when I was 27. More recently I had a really big, actually two really big things, with two of my brand new businesses.

So one was my nutrition bar company that I launched in Australia, that was a dream forever. I remember telling you at Surf Life. And you were like, “A bar? You want to open up a bar?”

And I was like, “No no no, a NUTRITION bar.”

Rick: Yeah, haha… a vegan bar…

Carmen: Haha… I know. Which probably didn’t sound much better.

Rick: Is your bar vegan?

Carmen: Yeah, completely vegan. Yup. 100% vegan. 11 grams of protein, which is very high for a vegan bar. Low sugar. All natural.

Rick: Yeah. I’ve tasted it. It’s delicious.

Carmen: That’s right, you did! I brought it to Bali. I forgot about that.

Yeah, and the challenge with that… So I was really committed to these ingredients. And being all natural, vegan, etc…

And just before we went to production I found out that the “natural” chocolate flavoring they were using had propylene glycol in it, which is a chemical. And the FDA, and the equivalent in Australia, they don’t care because it’s in such small quantities it can still be considered natural. And I was like, “I do not want that in my bar because it’s not natural, it’s a chemical, and it’s not good for you.”

So we had to stop production literally the day before. And then I had to find something to replace that. And it took us probably three months, but we finally found something. And then we were able to do the run.

But that was that was hard.

I mean in a way it wasn’t hard because for me there wasn’t even a consideration. There was no way I was going to put that in my product.

But as you’re looking for it you’re thinking, “Is this going to be successful?”

Because I’ve now stopped everything. And of course I’m funding this business myself. But it worked out in the end. And then it became part of the story.

And so I think that’s the neat thing is your obstacles, they can seem really tough, but they become part of what makes you really great. Like now I have this story that I wouldn’t compromise and that’s part of the Soul Co. start story. So it ended up being really good.

The other one was, the second company, we launched… my partner and I at the same time, we launched a gift company, and we had like four thousand tea tumblers coming into Amazon from China.

And they mislabeled everything. So four thousand bottles get to Amazon mislabeled. Which is not a good thing. So that was you know like all of this inventory. And then to make matters worse, then Amazon messed up. They mislabeled them wrong again after they all got fixed.

So basically we probably for three months were sorting this all out. But in the end you know, Amazon ended up giving us some money back and the company ended up giving us some money back.

And I think the big thing, the learning with that… It really put us back in terms of profits, but it really made us see how committed we were to solving the problems.

And I remember something Tim Ferriss said. He said, “You know an entrepreneur has many definitions, but probably at the essence of an entrepreneur is how they can find solutions to problems.”

Like that’s REALLY what an entrepreneur is.

So yeah, it’s made us really resilient.

And I’d have to say two product businesses that I’ve developed over this past couple of years have been dreams, but they’ve also been two of the hardest. Which sometimes makes sense as well. Like the things that you want the most initially can be harder, but then they give you so much.

Advice for entrepreneurs

Rick: Yeah, yeah. Now for for people who are… I mean you do business coaching with people. For people who are say starting out, but also could just be for anyone in a business, but let’s say especially for people who are starting out, what do you see are one or two pitfalls that new entrepreneurs make? And what to do about it?

Carmen: Mmmmm. I think one of the main things is it’s good to get advice, especially when you’re starting out, but make sure the advice or the coaching that you’re getting comes from someone who has either done it or is successful in another area.

So don’t necessarily go to your Mom or your Dad or your best friend or your hairdresser to get an opinion. Make sure you go to someone who’s either done it and been successful, and don’t go to someone who has done it and hasn’t been successful.

You know like if you wanted to be a teacher, why would you go talk to a teacher that has failed? That got kicked out of his university?

So make sure that they have done well in that industry. Or they’ve done well in another industry that’s similar, or similar mindsets. I see way too many people that have a dream, and then they go talk to someone who talks them out of their dream.

And sometimes it’s the people that are closest to us, because they care, but they’re scared for us. Or it’s confronting because they’re not doing anything. So be careful.

Do seek advice. I probably ere on… I probably don’t seek enough advice. And I need to. I tend to be like I can figure it out. But I need to seek more advice. So if you’re that person, do that.

But I think that the underlying thing is make sure it’s from a qualified person. And don’t let someone unqualified kill your dream.

The other thing I would say is that early on be looking for ways to infuse your business with everything that you love. And if you get an idea go with it.

There’s so many things that were passions of mine, like raw food was a real passion of mine back in probably 2008, and I did a little bit with it, but I didn’t probably go full out as I should have. So if you’re passionate about something, infuse that into your business somehow.

Because I’ve always found whenever I go towards what I love — and I know we had this conversation the other day with a decision that I need to make — go with where your passion and your enthusiasm is and bring that into your business.

And I wish I had done that sooner in my businesses.

What she would change

Rick: That’s another question. What do you wish you’d done sooner? What changes or leaps do you wish you’d made sooner, in terms of your business life?

Carmen: I wish I had a brought dance in sooner than I did. But I’m also very grateful… you know I didn’t grow up dancing, so I you know I did it later on in life. But yeah, I wish I had done it sooner.

I also think really trust yourself that if a business partnership doesn’t feel right or something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself.

You know I think there’s times where I could have made a decision more quickly. Like maybe I hung on in a safe… or even just a very simple thing, with the shipping company for my bar, they didn’t end up being a very good shipping company.

And I kind of sensed it earlier on and so I should have made that decision quicker.

And I think this goes back to speaking our truth. It’s also trusting ourselves as well.

We can talk to someone who has some good mentorship ability if we’re unsure, but I think also developing that skill to trust yourself and make decisions quickly and then stick with them is really important when you’re an entrepreneur too.

Rick: Yeah, amazing.

Carmen: One of our mutual friends who I just adore and has been such a great example in business too is Adam Hudson. And I remember probably about six years ago he visited us in Miami, or I don’t know where I was living at the time, but he was making a lot of decisions really quickly in his business.

And I remember thinking he’s not even giving it time. He’s just like… like I think he should give it more time.

But I learned over the past few years that I should have made things a little bit quicker. Like I could see that the money was going out not in the way it should be and I should have stopped at quicker.

So trust your intuition.

Rick: Yeah, awesome awesome stuff.

I’m gonna switch again a little bit, and ask you… this is a kind of combination of personal life and professional life…

But I’m curious: what’s something personally that you used to struggle with, or struggle with about yourself, that now is either totally neutral, or is actually something that you enjoy? Your experience of it has totally changed?

Stop perfectionism

Carmen: Mmmmm. Yeah that’s a good one, too.

I think one of the things is I was a huge perfectionist. Like so much so if I would ever give a speech or a talk I would literally write out my speech and memorize it.

So everything had to be perfect. And that’s probably why I teach… Like the very thing that I love about dance, teaching people that you don’t have to be perfect, is something that I needed to learn too.

So I think I used to worry about being perfect. And then there was a switch probably about ten years ago where I was just like I’m just going to… I don’t have time!

I think that was part of it. I was like “I don’t have time to do this!”

So then you just start letting go. Like I’m just going to get up and speak and just speak from my heart. So that was a big thing for me, to go from being a perfectionist to just letting go more.

And I would say the sooner that you can do that…

Rick: Yeah, it’s something I think everyone can relate to on some level, you know? But everyone’s got that thing… of course we we want to do well. And part of it’s how we’re raised in schools and graded and stuff.

But if you wait till it’s perfect, it’s never going to get done. Or you’re gonna miss so many opportunities along the way.

And it kind of fits in with what you were saying with Adam making decisions. Like feeling it, doing it fast, get that in motion, and keep going, what’s next, you know?

Carmen: Yeah, and it’s like that whole concept when people say like what’s the best ad or the best website or the best blog? And the best ad, website, or blog is the one that’s up.

It’s not the one that you’re still writing the blog for the last six months, it’s the one that’s up. Even if it’s a little bit imperfect.

And I do believe — this is from Think and Grow Rich — that you know if you take a magnifying glass and you have a field to dry grass, if you move that magnifying glass all over you’re never going to start a fire. But if you keep it in one place the sun will just like… boom.

So I I do believe in focus and I do actually believe in work. But there’s a difference between doing the work, and then also just saying it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m going to get out into the world.

Rick: Yeah. Okay, looking into the next phase of your life, what are you really excited about learning or doing in the next phase?

Carmen: Yeah, it’s actually a really exciting phase. So a lot of my business before has been coaching and intellectual property.

So the more programs that I’ve sold that are online or like my Sexyfit Nutrition Challenge is an online intellectual property course. Or coaching or retreats.

So I’ve moved into a product-based business, which is ironic because usually when you’re in a product-based business everyone is saying, “Go online.”

It’s just two things that I’ve been wanting to do. So I’m really excited about building two businesses in a different way. They’re both online though, so that’s similar to my other businesses. But they’re going to take something different.

You know I’ve got to become really good in different areas and that’s exciting. I kind of feel like I’ve been out in the world coaching, like how to do this, the top seven ways to do that, etc… and all from my life.

And I’m kind of looking forward, I’m 47 now, to going back behind the businesses and getting them to be successful, and then coming out with something new.

So it’s almost like for a long time I’ve been a coach, but now I kind of just want to get back in and work, and then build something, and then have something else to teach.

So I’m looking forward to that. It feels like a little bit of reinvention.

Rick: Yep. Awesome.

Those are my questions for you. Is there anything else that you would love to talk about or say to this community or anyone listening? Anything coming up for you?

Carmen: Yeah, I think one of the things… whatever your dreams are… I mean I know that’s your message. Like go after your dreams and your purpose and do it with joy and the flow. And I just love everything you do, Rick.

Give your dreams time

And I think to add on to that is I would just say to everyone: give it time.

You know it can seem sometimes when you’re in the thick of it that it’s not happening or it’s taking too long. But just give it time and keep going and it will happen.

I just pulled out one of our boards for some products. We had done it like six months ago. And right now I can feel like wow we’re so far behind and stuff.

But I pulled out this board and I was like, “Oh my God, we’ve done like 50 things on this list.”

When you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize how far you’ve come. So I would say just keep going towards your dreams.

Taking action all the time… Like we can’t just have a vision board and think it’s going to happen, so we want to take action every day. But again if we’re doing that based around what we love. That energy is going to come from that.

And then listen to other people. Like in terms of… not so much the mentoring, but people like Tim Ferriss or who else do I really love?

Tim Ferris is on my mind because he’s an entrepreneur who has had failures and for me that’s really good to hear of people that are very successful that have had failures and disappointments and gone through depression. So then we can know we can make it too.

Like I had a really tough previous six months of redirection and reorienting. But when I hear that there are successful people that have gone through that too, it makes me know it’s not me. It’s not something wrong with me.

I would say find people that you admire and listen to their podcasts. And know that they have failed as well, and it’s okay. But they keep going forward and finding a different way.

The most recent podcast, why it’s on my mind, is Tim Ferriss talked about the 4-Hour Chef book that really just failed. But in that failure when he was in his most depressed state, that’s when his podcast idea came out of that. And his podcasts are more successful than any of his books.

So I really do believe that it’s in the discontent or it’s in the confusion that our best ideas can come.

Rick: That reminds me I was talking to a friend of mine Vince on Bali who I’ve been friends with for years and years. And we were talking about business stuff, and he goes, “You know I have this idea now. You know what makes a business successful?”

And I’m like, “What?”

And he says, “It’s the last one standing.”

Kind of how I feel about VysionQuest! It’s just not gonna stop. Like we’re gonna be the last one standing, you know?

And I think when you do find your purpose and you do find the way to turn your purpose into a service, that people are so happy to pay for, it’s just the most perfect equation that life has given us, that people forgot about.

Like when you kind of went through that realization of like, “Oh, I can do something that provides value, and people pay me for it. And then I don’t have to do a job. And I’ve got I’ve got a way of creating income that’s filling up my heart. It’s filling up other people’s hearts. And paying me. So one less thing to worry about.”

This has just been awesome, Carmen.

Carmen: Aw, really enjoyed it too, Rick. Always love chatting. And you’re in Bali! I miss Bali so much, so it’s so good to see you there.

Rick: Yeah, yeah. When are you back in Bali, do you know?

Carmen: Not sure. We’re headed to Thailand in a month, but I’m hoping will be back in Bali sometime this year. This is the longest time we’ve been away from Bali, so hopefully soon.

Rick: Yeah, alright. Well, I look forward to catching up with you back here when you’re back here.

And thank you so much for your time today. Thanks for condensing your 47 years of wisdom and experience and heart into this hour. There are so many gems in here and a lot of inspiration.

So yeah, thank you, thank you for your time. And lots of love, Carmen.

Carmen: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. All right, bye Rick.

Rick: Talk soon. Bye Carmen.

Carmen: Bye everyone.

Rick: Bye everyone.

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Author: Rick Cowley
Rick is the founder of the VysionQuest process. Find out more about him here (link to About Rick page)
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