Amy Applebaum has helped tens of thousands of women, and a few men, across the globe break through the barriers that are inhibiting their success and happiness with her groundbreaking six-step process. She’s been featured on ABC, CNN, TLC, Dr. Drew, Martha Stewart’s Radio, Teen, Shape, Cosmo, Woman’s World, and the New York Times, among many others.
In This Episode
If you want success, go get it. Amy Applebaum has motivated thousands of business owners to achieve success with her six-step program. She talks about creating a board of mentors so you can strive to be a better you, getting attention in a crowded market via testimonials and on-point branding, and how she turns her impatience into a driving force to be reckoned with.
0:49 Steps to Uninhibited Success
Start off by determining the REAL problem.
5:11 Getting to the Core of What Motivates Someone
Telling someone that they are confident, won’t make them confident.
9:04 Board of Mentors
It doesn’t matter how smart you are; make a board of mentors for both professional and personal life so you always have a goal to strive for.
15:03 The Big Picture
Impatience, a weakness to many, proves to be a strength and leads to finding the heart of the matter much faster.
17:45 Getting Attention
Testimonials and branding reign supreme.
21:32 VIP Streaming Club
Guided meditation subscription service for high paying members.
23:03 Be Yourself
There’s nothing more perfect than being yourself.
23:19 Be Relevant
In order to be relevant, you have to be able to pivot or shift your behaviors at lighting speed to follow the newest trends that seem to change at the drop of a dime.
– Amy Applebaum
LR: Welcome to MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR. Today we have Amy Applebaum. She, over the past decade, has helped tens of thousands of women, and a few men, across the globe, break through the barriers that are inhibiting their success and happiness with her groundbreaking six-step process. She’s been featured on ABC, CNN, TLC, Dr. Drew, Martha Stewart’s Radio, Teen, Shape, Cosmo, Woman’s World, and the New York Times, among many others. Thank you so much for being here.
AA: Thanks for having me.
LR: I would like my success to be uninhibited.
AA: The very first thing is you have to really understand the problem, but not the presenting problem. The real underlying problem. I think in business and in life, what most people are doing is dealing with the presenting problem. Unfortunately that doesn’t help us because there’s reasons why we do the things that we do. Should I give you a case in point?
LR: Yes, go ahead.
AA: Client comes and they’re having what seems like an obvious issue, like not enough money. What we really uncover is that maybe they’re afraid of sales, they’re afraid of presenting, what they’re saying isn’t working. There’s so many other issues. It’s not just about the money, but they’ll be tackling it with money things. They’ll increase their marketing spend and they’ll start doing things that cost them a lot of money but aren’t actually tackling the real problem. That’s what the real problem is.
LR: You’ve created six steps.
AA: Do you want to go through them all?
LR: I mean, why not?
AA: No. All right, so we’ve got …
LR: Are they secret?
AA: Well, yeah. You know you’ve got to read the book for that.
LR: All right, give us like one through three.
AA: And then we’ll just go be the cliffhanger.
LR: Yeah. Exactly.
AA: First you have to identify the real problem, and then once you’ve done that and you know what that is, then you have to look at how does the way that I think actually prevent me from getting where I want. I happen to work with women mostly, and we deal with a lot of those considerations, especially as entrepreneurs. Things like, maybe I can’t do this, maybe people won’t like me, maybe I don’t have experience with sales so I don’t know how to … I don’t even know who to be. I’m so worried about who I’m being I don’t frame it up in the, what problems are you dealing with as the customer, so that we can then move to solve those.
You have to really start to look at how the way that you think actually ends up tripping you up. It sounds kind of ethereal and out there, but the reality is that if you don’t have the thoughts to support the actions then you’ll never get to the actions.
AA: I really got tired of working with people and kind of moving straight to business development and they can’t follow through with any of the business development, because the way that they think doesn’t support what they’re doing. Then step three is to look at then what are the strategies and tactics that they’re using? What are the actual behaviors that are preventing them from getting whereever it is that they’re trying to get to? It could be messaging, it could be branding, it could be a lack of credibility that you’re bringing to the table. It could be a lack of testimonials, it could be you don’t know squat about marketing, and how you’re going about your marketing isn’t working. There’s so many of those things that have to be investigated, and if you don’t get to them then you can’t begin moving through steps four, five, and six where you actually shift those things.
LR: You’re taking people through this process. It’s a process, obviously, in conversation, but also then like in action. Is it like a course? Or how does that work?
AA: I don’t take people through courses. I have a private practice and then I do have some group programs, but for the most part I really like to work one-on-one with people, because I think that’s where the biggest differences happen. There’s a lot of these group programs out there and people, whether they’re do it yourself or someone is taking you through them, unfortunately you can’t always get to those real underlying issues that are stopping that specific person.
It is a bootcamp of sorts that I like to put people through where we start off and I really get an opportunity to get to know them, how they think, what actions they’re taking and what they’re not taking, what motivates them, identifying where they’re trying to get to, and once that session is over ‒ which usually takes somewhere between two and four hours ‒ then we’re able to really start to strategize what needs to happen in real time.
I don’t like the idea of talking about things ad nauseum, and there’s a lot of things that I don’t love about the coaching industry. I don’t know that we want to get into all of those today, but I think the most important thing is that you’re in motion, actually moving towards your results in real time. Not just talking about what needs to shift.
AA: I have a very assignment-based philosophy and technology, if you will. I believe that you have to get your clients in motion toward whatever they’re afraid of and taking actions towards what they want so that very quickly ‒ in 60, 90 days ‒ they’re already beginning to see results in their business.
LR: Yeah. Let’s turn to your business for just a second, since you’re not going to reveal the other three steps.
AA: Talk about whatever you want.
LR: You just made me read a ridiculous list of PR successes and there’s something …
AA: I did not make you do that.
LR: And there’s something obviously about what you’ve done that’s gotten you this incredible publicity. What is it about your approach, do you think, that has landed you in this kind of level of spot light.
AA: You have to get to the bottom of the issue, and you have to be intuitive enough to understand what is going to shift somebody off of it. Just because you throw affirmations at someone ‒ you wake up every day and say, “I am confident.” ‒ that doesn’t make a person confident. Confidence comes from practicing the things that you’re not good at. If you can’t actually get to the core of what moves a person, and this isn’t just about business skills. It’s not just about slapping marketing and branding on something. Especially in the service space industry, so when you’re talking about coaches and people who are out there making a difference, it’s about really understanding who they are, what matters to them, what makes them different. Like, we all have those things that we’re good at, and I stink at so many things, but one thing that I really understand is people. I can intuitively listen to them, see what they’ve presented to me, and very quickly get to the heart of the matter, and once you can get to the heart of the matter, then it’s about, okay, what do you need, both in personal development and business development, in order to get off of that.
LR: I mean, not to keep pushing back but …
AA: Yeah, it’s okay.
LR: Honestly, like, you get to the heart of the matter, and so the New York Times called you up and was like, “Gosh, we heard you get to the heart of the matter.”
AA: No, it ends up getting results. For example, I’ve got Cindy and she’s got a company called Lou Who, and she sells wool dryer balls, and she has never taken it outside of her garage. She wants to make it huge because they’re nontoxic and for so many reasons she’s got this vision and this passion around it.
AA: Next thing you know, I’m pushing her, like actively, like here’s what’s happening. You want Whole Foods, so tomorrow you’re walking in to the manager at this store. Here’s what’s happening. You’re going to call me right before. We’re like working on all of this in real time, so that’s what she does and she goes in and she ends up getting a test run for her Lou Who wool dryer balls in Maine and that turned into a big corporate account, so it’s working on that one little thing turns into a snowball of a lot of other things and now she’s been featured in In Style magazine. For some people the results are a relationship with their business partner or their partner or their children.
AA: I think that for me, personal development matters as much as business development. If it’s all just about money then I’m not inspired to work with you. I don’t know how you become great at business without developing personally, and if you do, you are probably not that great, and perhaps not well liked. I think that we go out into the world, at the end of the day when we’re lying on our deathbed one day, we’re not going to say, “How many more minutes or hours did I spend at work today?”
We’re going to say, “Is my life meaningful?” I think that’s just what kind of rocks me. I mean, I am 48 years old, and I have a five year old, and my whole life changed five years ago. While I always cared about this personal development aspect, I’ve never cared about it more than I do right now. I really believe that you need to be picky about your clients. Don’t waste your time with people that you don’t want to. Quit trying to keep up with the Jones, because when you do that, you’re dispersed, you’re chaotic, and you can’t actually achieve your own results.
I don’t think everybody has to go out there and want to make a difference, but I think everybody should go out there and live a life that they’re proud of and that they love.
LR: Talk to me about your own experience growing a business. Right, so you are now a well-known and successful consultant to business people, but obviously, like we do, we struggle to build that up over time. If you could give yourself a piece of advice, like now, but your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
AA: The piece of advice that I would give my younger self is don’t think that you know everything. Put a board of mentors together, right from the get-go. I don’t care what business you’re building. Put a board of mentors together and, for me, what that means is an unofficial group of people who are so much smarter than you, and who are smarter than you in the areas that you stink at, for sure, and have it really reflect where you’re trying to get to. Change that board of mentors often. Whenever you need to. Whenever you’re not growing any more. Because I think that, personally, my business and my life, I don’t have any regrets but it could have shaped up differently, and things could have happened faster, if I wouldn’t have been such a smart-assy, know-it-all-y, you know, I’m at the top of my pyramid. Why should I be at the top of my pyramid if I want to grow? I think people hear that, you know, “Have mentors, hire a coach,” and I think they don’t really get it. Really put yourself around the most amazing people.
LR: Yeah. Here’s a challenge. Because I, you know, was there, and I even got some very well-known, very smart, very successful mentors. Despite them being unquestionably bright, and potentially helpful, I had a pretty significant challenge getting them to actually understand the business well enough that they could give me worthwhile advice. I wasn’t able to really get them committed. They would do the calls, but it was just like it felt like random spouting off of good ideas as opposed to really getting in and digging in with me and solving a problem. How do you get somebody that’s worth having on your board to really get committed to your project enough to contribute at a level that’s going to matter, or maybe I’m just totally wrong and I should have just listened.
AA: I think there were several questions in there. I think the first thing is, it doesn’t sound like they were invested, and everybody gets invested in whatever they get invested in for their own reasons, and I think that I see a lot of entrepreneurs making mistakes about, “Can you be on my board, how can you help me?” Instead of looking at how it’s a win-win for both parties, and what motivates them? What are their next steps in life? What are their goals? Where are they trying to get to and how could this potentially be part of that? Or maybe it can’t be, and they’re the wrong mentor.
Just because they have some great credibility and accolades and things like that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a good person on your board. Do they have the time? Are they really interested? Why are they interested? Those would be some preliminary questions that I would definitely ask. I wouldn’t have, my younger self wouldn’t have asked those things, and then I would have been disappointed, because they probably don’t have much time for me and then would spout off some latest marketing technique that doesn’t apply to what I’m doing.
AA: I can absolutely see that, so I think that’s one thing. When you understand their motivations, maybe they want a piece of the company. I mean, who knows? Quite frankly, if you have a big enough goal and you really want to get there, then share. Right?
LR: You know, I did, but these people, you know, somebody that’s worth a hundred million bucks doesn’t care about five percent of your stupid little startup.
AA: I would say to you that potentially they were too big and that you really need your mentors to grow with you. It’s like, you know how with a CPA, there’s a difference between the ones who work with clients who generate $500,000 versus two million, versus five million, versus 20 and a hundred million. It’s the same kind of thing. I think you need mentors that make sense for you now, so I don’t think they should be so far ahead of you that they’re so beyond what you’re doing. You need someone to help you get to that next level, and then once you’re there, then you need to expand and move into other-
LR: Get to the next one.
AA: That’s right. I believe that with all my heart. I’ve seen it work in action. You have to also really look at the arrangements that you make with them, and if they’re uninvolved after a certain period, don’t ask their advice any more. Move them on. I like board of mentors, before they actually start jumping into your corporation as a board of, say, advisors or on your board of directors, because it’s flexible. You can still issue equity or something, shares that make them excited about it, but if they do certain things, if they actually contribute, and if they don’t then you just walk away in six months. Does that make sense?
LR: Yeah. Yeah, it would have maybe made a difference. Obviously, I would have had to shoot far lower to get somebody kind of more engaged with my project when we were just starting out.
AA: Yeah, because who wants people there who aren’t engaged? No matter who they are, if they’re not engaged it doesn’t matter and, in fact, I have another business, nothing to do with this, but that I’ve just literally let somebody go. I said, “You are a freaking superstar, and I was so excited to have you on the board, and I’m so excited for us to be friends, but this isn’t working because you’re too busy. You don’t have the bandwidth for this, and you’re not here. All the things that you say that you could do, that’s great, but you can’t do them, because you can’t show up.”
LR: Yeah. Yeah.
AA: It was peaceful and loving and we still like each other, and nobody knows your business like you. Nobody knows your business like you, so they also have to be really respectful of that and really be willing to hear you. You pointed that out and I think it’s true.
LR: What do you feel like your unique skill set is?
AA: I think getting to the heart of the matter. I’m really good at getting stuff done. Not just for busy work’s sake. I’m good at the big picture, and knowing what that vision is and what I want, and I can get to it quickly. My biggest liability is I’m totally impatient. The same thing that makes me great in some ways also is frustrating for other people, because it’s like …
LR: It’s funny, and I already said this this morning in another interview that I did, but I’m just going to say it again because it’s just too much. I had dinner with my mom last night, and she had been watching several of these episodes and she noticed that we have these successful people sitting in your chair, and I ask them what their skill set is, and they say I am uniquely good at getting to the heart of the matter, like over and over and over.
AA: Oh, that’s so funny.
LR: It makes me wonder, how do you get good at that? Right? Like if that is like an obvious thread through the many successful people we’ve had sitting on this stage, how do you teach that?
AA: Yeah, it’s interesting, because I would wager to say that you’ve probably been like that your whole life. I know I have, and most of the people that I know have, and yet, it can absolutely be learned, but I do think that some of us, it’s just in our DNA. What I find gets in the way of that for people is time management and organization. It’s just amazing how, if something was important to you, and I proposed it to you, and you were like, “Yeah.” You could go, “Okay, so tomorrow, just squeeze in that ten minutes, and I’ll make that phone call,” and boom, it’s already rolling. So many people just don’t do that, because they don’t know how to manage their time, and they don’t know how to prioritize. It sounds like that’s such the obvious, coachy, get organized, time management, but it really is a problem.
You have to get to what makes you disorganized. I would be looking at who that person is, and identifying, so what are the distractions? What actually happens? I want you to actually take me through what happens on the way to attempting to do something that ends up getting short circuited.
AA: Then, once I’ve uncovered that, then you start replacement behaviors, and then they have to practice it. It’s like working out. The first two weeks is freaking miserable, and then you start getting a little bit more energy, and then at the end of the month, you start actually liking it, and then I think you have to practice and so, therefore, you have to be committed. The only people that end up really shifting and changing that are the ones that are truly committed.
LR: I’m getting a sense … Normally I ask, what is working in your business to grow your business, but I get a sense that you got referrals, you got PR going, you probably got people coming through the door. I’m kind of curious about your insight into what’s working in the industry. Right? You got a bunch of clients that are doing a bunch of things to grow their businesses. Do you have a sense of what’s working now to get attention?
AA: Are you saying specifically in the coaching industry, or just how do we get attention in general as a business owner?
LR: Yeah, in general. Yeah. How do we get attention?
AA: I think the first thing that people abandon, that they need to really focus on, is testimonials and case studies. It’s so critical. Be awesome at what you do. Don’t go out and start publicizing how awesome you are at what you do when you’re not and you don’t have the background and the credibility. This is what right now, freaking pisses me off beyond words about the coaching industry, because when I started, there were like five of us, and we kind of dominated the US, the UK, I mean, there were like five coaches, and now everybody takes a weekend workshop, their life’s not together, and they’re like, “I can just change your life.”
Maybe you can, so prove it. Get in there, create a process, work it, pro bono if you have to, and get the results. Then when you have the results, now you have something to share. I’m not talking about BS results. I’m talking about real results that you … real results that you can share and put on video.
That’s number one. Now, you can have that, but if you don’t get it out there, then nobody knows about it. That has several elements to it. One is the branding. People don’t really understand branding. That messaging is critical, but it comes from knowing who you are. You have to be really clear that what you do helps in your marketplace. You have to understand who it helps, and then you have to understand how to communicate to the world who you are. I can’t tell you how many websites I land on, and I don’t understand what I’ve landed on. I’m either bored, or there’s no personality.
AA: Like, what’s the personality?
AA: Like, people don’t understand, branding is about creating a personality for your company or your product or your service or all of it. Like, what’s the personality? There’s a reason why we gravitate towards Trader Joe’s over Whole Foods, or Whole Foods over Trader Joe’s. It markets to a certain people. There’s a reason why there’s a Rachel Ray and a Martha Stewart, and if you don’t understand what makes Levi’s different than Seven jeans, then you don’t understand branding.
I would encourage everybody to go, “What is the personality of my brand? What makes me different, and who do I appeal to?” So that you can showcase that.
LR: This is great. It sounds like a great reminder of really focusing on the traditional basics, like be good at what you do. Have other people say how good you are at what you do. Make sure that your messaging is on target. Handle objections. Tell your story. It’s so amazing to see how often the basics are missed.
AA: There’s this huge explosion of entrepreneurs who are getting out there in the world who’ve never been entrepreneurs before, so they didn’t go to business school, so they don’t understand the basics. They don’t really understand what branding is. They don’t know what sales is. They don’t know that there’s a difference between sales and marketing. If you don’t understand those things then you’re just out there …
LR: Trying to do what the other guy’s doing.
AA: That’s right, and then failing, and that’s sad, because people are going out there to create these visions in businesses because they need money, they need an income, they want freedom, and it stinks when you can’t get that.
LR: What’s next for you? What’s your learning edge right now?
AA: I created a VIP streaming club, that would give people the option to work on whatever they want to work on through guided meditation, and have access to the whole library. I only just decided to do that. I was selling them individually on those platforms, and so this is new for me.
LR: Oh, this is what you’re doing right now?
AA: This is what I’m doing right now.
LR: Oh, wow. You have these mediations and you’re turning them into like subscription service?
AA: Yes. Yeah, and that’s scary for me, because I’ve tended to rely on the platforms, the Audibles and the iTunes to sell them, and now this is me going it on my own. Through this VIP streaming service. This is new for me, and what I think excites me about it is I’m the most non-mediation type, meditation person, that you would find, I think, probably out there. I’m kind of the meditation girl for the people who don’t do meditation. Right, like the more regular folk. Does that make sense?
AA: Who go, “Oh, yeah, I’m going to go and mediate.” No, really, and the reason I created these was because I got so tired of listening to people’s nasty belief …
LR: Systems, yeah.
AA: I just was like, “Seriously.” We have to work so much on that, so we need this, so that would be like this complement to the coaching. That’s what I’m up to. It’s really exciting and super scary.
LR: What is it all about? What will your legacy be?
AA: I want my legacy to be, “Amy showed me that I could be myself, and that I should be myself, and that there’s nothing more perfect than me being myself, and that will get me everywhere I want to go.”
LR: What does it mean to be a modern entrepreneur?
AA: Being relevant, and to be relevant, you have to be willing to shift and pivot and modify your actions and your behaviors, and I think the modern day entrepreneur should say, “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m willing to learn.” If you can’t say that, then you’re going to get stuck, because back 15 years ago or 20 years ago when we were building those businesses, things moved a lot slower, but with all this technology, it’s crazy. It’s like lightning speed. It used to be, how am I going to get used to Facebook, now there’s like, I don’t know, 10 new platforms a day that are coming. You have to really be flexible.
LR: And willing to just embrace change and not knowing at a level that we’ve never had to.
AA: Right, just be totally comfortable with, everything changed today, so now what are we going to do. I mean, right?
AA: I think that’s what it is.
LR: Awesome. Hey, this has been so good. Thank you so much for taking the time.
AA: Thank you so much for having me. So much fun, Landon.
LR: Really appreciate it. Yeah, that was great. Will you sign our wall?
AA: Love to.
LR: Thank you.
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