Speaking of business, in the introduction I mention how much I enjoyed the first week of Michael Neill’s A Whole New Way of Thinking About Business class and what a delight it is to spend an hour each morning with like-minded business owners who are using the inside-out understanding to grow their businesses … and themselves. Me too! 😉
- The power of not doing what we don’t want to do
- Overcoming PTSD after years of struggle with traditional approaches
- Disobeying the work ‘tll you drop entrepreneur mentality
- Why money (or lack of it) doesn’t cause our suffering, even when we think it does
- The trouble we get into when we wrestle with our thinking
- On turning a memoir into a graphic novel
- How being a solopreneur can be easier than we think
Resources mention in this episode
Mary Schiller is an author and a results coach who helps solopreneurs streamline their businesses for more impact and more income. Her books are available worldwide on Amazon and she can be found online at MarySchiller.com. On Instagram use the hashtag #MaryinParis to follow Mary’s adventures as an American living in Paris.
You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app or watch the video here. Below are the show highlights, resources we mention, and full transcript.
Transcript of Interview with Mary Schiller
Alexandra: Hi everyone I’m Alexandra Amor from stopsufferingabout.com and I’m here today with Mary Schiller. Hi Mary.
Mary: Hi. How are you?
Alexandra: I’m well. How are you?
Mary: Good thanks.
Alexandra: Let me introduce you to our audience.
Mary is an author and a results coach who helps solopreneurs streamline their businesses for more impact and more income. Her books are available worldwide on Amazon and she can be found online at MarySchiller.com on Instagram. Use the hashtag Mary in Paris to follow Mary’s adventures as an American living in Paris.
That’s something I want to touch on a little bit later I love that hashtag.
Mary, tell us a little bit about your background and how you stumbled into this understanding.
Mary: Thanks for having me again.
I came across the Principles back in 2014 and it’s hard for me to believe that it’s been that long now. Honestly, the time has just flown by. I was not on the lookout for anything in that vein. It was purely by accident if you believe in those things. But we don’t. Maybe it’s actually all somehow working in our favor but it really was by accident.
I was searching for something else online and in a roundabout way came across Michael Neill’s book called The Inside Out Revolution and I had never heard of him and I didn’t know anything about it but it just kind of piqued my interest. I was kind of curious about what it was saying and you know to be honest at that point in my life I was pretty skeptical that there was anything that could really make a significant difference at least for me.
I stopped counting at twenty-five therapists. I know there were more. I’m sure there were but I can’t remember them all and no one had really been able to help me with post-traumatic stress disorder. There was one woman I saw, God bless her, very early on in the process who was the foremost expert in PTSD and domestic violence in Los Angeles and I went to see her a few times right after I left an abusive marriage and she was recommended to me by my attorney at that time as I was going through divorce proceedings. And after about three or so sessions and I had gone to a group that she ran she literally sat me down and said I’m so sorry but I can’t help you.
Mary: I was like OK. That did not bode well for me. And I was only twenty-nine years old at the time and I’m thinking wow I must be really bad off here. What’s going on and so that’s how things started. I had already been seeing therapists even while I was married not because I thought I was an abusive relationship but because I thought there was something wrong with me that was making him behave the way he was. Although I never discussed that with any of the therapists.
So after that I had a long history of seeing other people and nothing really worked for me. I try to all kinds of alternative things. BY the time I came across Michael’s book I was kind of like yeah whatever you know I’m sure it’s like any another book but OK I’ll give it a shot. So I ended up getting the audible version.
I was living in New York City and I had a long commute every day, so I was listening to the book on the commute on the subway and there was something in there that sounded different to me. Even the first time through I felt in some sense like I was listening to a foreign language that I didn’t understand but I could hear something underneath the words it’s a very hard thing to describe because you’re like well he’s speaking English.
He’s saying words that are kind of familiar in the self-help context in the therapeutic context. But there was something different underneath that and I couldn’t figure out what it was.
So being the kind of person I am I said, “Well I have to get to the bottom of this because it’s going to bug me.” I’ve got to understand what he’s saying. So I listened to it over and over again.
I literally would get to the end and start again and listened to it again. I did that I think five or six times. And by the fifth or sixth time, I heard what I think he was trying to say in there which was a really different way of looking at human beings and how we experience the world. So that was my introduction to the principles.
Alexandra: I had heard that story before but you listening to it over and over again and I just love that. And I had the experience when I read that book – I think I’ve said this before on the show – I got three quarters of the way through and the friend who had recommended it to me said, “How are you enjoying it?”
And I said, “I’m really liking it, except he hasn’t told me what to do yet.” So yeah it’s a fantastic book. I love it too.
You work with entrepreneurs now and your focus is really on having fun being an entrepreneur and a solopreneur. Can you talk about why that matters to you?
Mary: I started as a coach related to the principles specifically and really after coming across Michael’s book a couple of years later I decided you know this is really what I want to spend my time doing.
I didn’t have any trouble getting a business off the ground, and even though I didn’t really have any reputation or any sort of specific niche or anything, it was very easy for me. So about a year and a half into it I got a lot of inquiries from other coaches and other solopreneurs, people working for themselves, saying how did you do this so easily?
I realized that I had brought a bunch of skills into the business that I had developed in my other professional life that I could maybe bring to these folks. And so gradually over time I just kind of morphed into more of a business coach.
Now that’s what I do exclusively. One of the things that had made such a huge difference for me with this particular business venture was that I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do.
I didn’t care if an expert was telling me it was the thing I was supposed to do I didn’t do it. I didn’t like it. I just didn’t do it.
That really changes how you do business if you don’t like something you’re not going to do it really very well. It’s just not going to work. So I figured why not spend time doing things I enjoy?
If I come across a fun sounding strategy I’ll try it. But that was my whole philosophy was I was only going to follow the fun. I was going to ditch anything that didn’t seem interesting and just go for. What I wanted. And so that seems to be a very helpful concept for a lot of people in business. And it’s also quite different I think from what is mostly out there.
Alexandra: Absolutely. I’ve never heard anyone who helps entrepreneurs that way. You just never encounter that. It’s all, “These are the 10 strategies. These are the five things to do on your Web site or whatever.”
We talked before we started recording about how I started following you a little over a year ago and your business just grew exponentially from what I could tell.
That was one of your central philosophies even at that time; only do what you love.
Mary: I don’t see any other point really.
Because I don’t want to fill my time with things that don’t interest me. The irony of it is that when people adopt this way of doing business usually they find success, however they measure that, much faster because suddenly their life is a lot more fun and they bring that energy to the table and that’s attractive to other people right now who needs drudgery forget it.
I don’t even want to work hard. The whole entrepreneurship discussion is so much about putting in blood sweat and tears and hard work and I’m like screw that. I don’t want to feel like I’m working all the time.
It’s not to say that I don’t focus and do things but I just don’t adopt the ‘This is hard work’ mantra. It just doesn’t look real to me. It looks like something that people want us to think and believe in but it just doesn’t look true right.
Alexandra: And I mean for me observing you, you seem incredibly productive for someone who’s having a ton of fun. That was something that I really noticed was how many books you’ve written, how many videos you put out and all the programs you were offering and the creativity and the new things that would come out all the time.
That must have its origin in the having fun philosophy.
Mary: Absolutely and I am. I really like listening to people and I like hearing what they’re struggling with and I try to create something to address it. That’s kind of my M.O. is to ask what are people talking about. Where’s a gap. OK I can create something for that and I fill it. And I find that really fun.
That doesn’t seem like work to me. That’s like here’s something for you. That can really help you with what you want to do. And that’s pretty much my whole business model. That’s pretty much what I do all the time.
Alexandra: I love hearing that. I was in your Let’s Make Money, Honey program, which was so impactful for me in terms of thinking about money and less suffering about it. I’m going to write a book about my own experience about money because of it coming out of that.
One of the basic tenants of that program is that money doesn’t cause our suffering even when we think it does. Can you just address that for the audience?
Mary: Oh absolutely. Well as you know since you went through that program I used to be super stressed in relation to money. It’s really not funny how how much of a preoccupation it used to be for me and how it looked like a guillotine over my neck all the time. It really did. I think it does for a lot of people. I don’t think I’m alone in that.
What I saw after digesting what I had learned from Michael’s book and from exploring this whole thing for myself I realized that idea of the monster in the form of money that’s coming from you. You have an option; you can keep looking at that and every time it comes up you can just focus all your attention on this big scary thing.
Or when it comes up you can just kind of wave at it and go, ‘Oh hi. You look familiar but I’m going to go do something else’. That’s pretty much what happened was I saw that I had simply been listening to a lot of repetitive thinking.
I didn’t have to do anything with it, as the other piece of that program and my message is that we can’t fix our money thinking. I have no control over what comes into my head. Nobody does. So instead of worrying about that, accept that whatever thoughts you’re going to have are going to come in related to money or anything else and you don’t have to make a big deal out of it.
That’s what helped me overcome PTSD so quickly was the same. It was the same concept. I had been looking at those thoughts and thinking oh my gosh something’s terribly wrong with me. And what I realized was those are simply more thoughts. Everybody has them. I have the option to kind of play along with them or not.
With PTSD and with the money thinking I said I think I’m done playing there. I really liked that so much. So when those come up I just ignore them. I still have them from time to time. You know around tax time which is when we’re recording this you know things come to mind.
I just don’t care anymore. It just doesn’t look like such a big deal. And I know that you and I and everybody else we have all of the creative means and resources within us to take care of anything we need to take care of. So let’s just go do that instead of worrying about all the money thinking.
Alexandra: That teaching was so impactful for me and the other thing that I recognized from it was that when we’re all caught up in that thinking about money and we’re attaching to all those money thoughts and worrying about them and thinking we have to respond to them it feels like there’s less space for wisdom to get through about what we actually could do. That was my experience anyway to earn more money. That was huge for me.
Taking that class and having that big shift was tremendous. Thank you for that.
Mary: You’re welcome. I think that a big piece of it too is that people are spending so much time trying to wrestle with money thinking when instead they can just recognize that they don’t have to wrestle with it. It’s going to be there, but they can just go do what they want to do anyway.
They can take all that energy that they’re spending trying to fix that and actually go make some money. I’d rather spend my energy over there because it’s a lot more exciting and fun.
Alexandra: We’ve already talked about your inspiration for where your classes come from; you like to see what people are struggling with and then create something in response to that.
Have you got anything new coming up that you’d like to share with us about what you’re offering?
Mary: I just launched a new program called the Cash Kickstart System and what this program is about is a real simplification. Really drilling down into what making money actually is.
It simplifies it basically into two steps and allows people to see all of the opportunities around them that have heretofore been invisible to them. It’s for people who are starting from zero or almost zero. If they have no email list or anything they can still learn how to generate money fairly quickly by going through the program and the process that I outline in there.
I made this program for a very specific reason which was that I had never had any trouble generating income in my business but I looked around and I saw that a lot of people did. And it for a long time I was trying to figure out how can I get what I am doing in a form that other people can do this. And I couldn’t figure it out. Honestly, I was really stuck.
At the end of 2018 I ran across a business coach who could help me put this together for people. So I hired her to help me do this and I’m happy to say that it’s going really well. People are really enjoying it.
I want to continue promoting that program this year because I can see that it’s opened up a lot of people’s eyes into really how simple this is. That again it’s really going against the grain of a lot of what else is out there because it boils it down into such a simple setup. But that’s one of the reasons I like it is because it simplifies everything.
That’s probably my main focus at least at the moment.
Alexandra: Where can people find out about that? At MarySchiller.com
Mary: Yes. All of my programs are listed on my home page. Let’s Make Money, Honey there is there too.
Alexandra: Do you have any challenges in your business these days that you’re dealing with?
Mary: I think this is going to sound kind of weird. One of them has just been a bit of a logistical challenge in that my husband and I moved here to Paris in 2017 and we never really intended to live in Paris.
We had bought a really small apartment here many years ago and we never intended to live in it but just the way things worked out that’s where we live and it’s really small. It’s a studio apartment it’s under three hundred square feet, so it’s just one room and it’s us two plus our two cats at moment.
I was okay for a while because my husband wasn’t working but now he’s working also from home. We were like OK this is not happening because we were each having calls and things and it was worrying.
I ended up buying a membership to this coworking space, which is where I’m talking to you from. I do most of my work here now. I get out of the apartment and come over here and do things, which may sound like oh that’s not a big problem but it kind of what it’s like.
I love being able to work from anywhere but sometimes I need to have space to have a conversation like this. And so at least this is close by and has been really good so far.
And in terms of anything else that is kind of going on, I recently discovered a tool to help me focus even more. That’s a book I recently read that has really changed everything about how I work. It’s called The 12-week Year. I simplified it very much.
I stripped away a lot of the things that weren’t appropriate for me but I’m still using the basic setup of taking what I might have done in 12 months and condensing it into twelve weeks and I’m setting tasks for myself. And it’s just fantastic.
So that really solves a problem that I was having with kind of focusing on what was really important for my business development. I feel I have that much more in hand now with the help of that book. So I really appreciate what the authors did there.
Alexandra: I’ve long wanted to read that book and I forget about it for a while and then somebody reminds me again. I really need to pick it up.
Mary: You do.
Alexandra: When you say condense a year into 12 weeks, right away my head says oh my goodness all that work in that short amount of time.
Are you burning the candle at both ends?
Mary: No, that’s the funny part. I had the same thought. “Oh my gosh, am I going to kill myself trying to do this?” But what I noticed is that because the goal was really focused and just really like OK this is really what I’d love to accomplish over the next twelve weeks.
It’s not so much about achieving the goal. It’s about going through the steps to get there. I set up my weeks now with steps that seem achievable. I don’t set crazy tasks for myself each week. It’s been amazing how much I’ve been able to do. I’m ahead of schedule.
As I’m talking to you I’m in week seven and I’m way ahead of where I thought I would be at this point and I don’t feel at all overworked or anything. If anything it’s gone the opposite way because I feel like my attention is on the things that really are making a difference in what I’d like to achieve.
So don’t be nervous about that.
Alexandra: We touched on earlier the books that you’ve written which people can find at all the Amazon stores.
Are you writing anything new these days?
Mary: I haven’t written anything for a while but I do have a book that I’ve been working on. I’m not going to reveal the title but it’s a pretty provocative title and I’m basing it on the last program that I ran that was completely Three Principles based. It was called Take the Leap and I am taking what I did and there that was an audio based program.
I transcribed all the audios and I’m rejiggering it for a book. And so that’s a project that I’m working on.
I’m also taking my memoir which I actually first self-published pre-Principles and then I added an addendum at the end of it after the first Principles discovery.
And I am looking to change that into a comic into graphic memoir. I am searching for artists who might want to team up with me and to pitch it to a publisher. So that’s those are my two book related projects that I’ve got going right now.
Alexandra: That fascinates me. Why turn it into a graphic novel? What prompted that?
Mary: I had wanted to do something with it. I’ve had people tell me it would make a great movie or something. So I got in touch with two very good friends of mine in New York who are documentary filmmakers. They’re really accomplished.
I sent them the book and I was like, “Do you think you think this can be made into a documentary?’ and they both said yes. And then they said but we’re wondering about the format. It might work really well as an animated book brought to the screen, in which case you’d probably want to make it into a graphic memoir first and then have that artist work on the film project.
And I never even thought about that, which is crazy because my daughter is a huge fan of graphic novels and comics and I’ve read many myself. Moussa is one of my favorite books of all time.
I don’t know why didn’t occur to me until they said it. But as soon as they said it I was like yes I can totally picture that. And I think the book would work really well in that format because it’s in short chapters anyway so I think it would really lend itself to it.
I have no idea what’s going to happen but I’m on the search for somebody to potentially partner with me on that project.
Alexandra: Oh that sounds so fun. The author in me just loves that hearing that.
I want to ask you about the Mary in Paris hashtag, which I just love. We were talking about solopreneurs and entrepreneurs and I feel like that’s such a strong branding thing for your business I love it.
Where did you come up with that and how does it work?
Mary: I kind of just did it as a joke because it’s funny. I don’t use it as a publicity tool because I haven’t used Instagram for my business. But a lot of people have found me through that.
I really post on Instagram just things that I notice here that I think are particularly pretty. I’m really into beautiful things. And Paris is filled with them.
In fact, one of the documentary filmmaker friends said you can make your Instagram feed into a coffee table book because I’m always on the lookout for cool beautiful things to show people and that I come across just everyday in my wandering around here.
So I just put that hashtag on there just as something funny. Now people do find me that way which is really cool. I have thought about how I could maybe morph that into something more powerful for my business and my brand. And that’s something that my daughter has said that she’d like to help me with because she really loves that kind of thing. I’m hoping next year after she finishes her degree that she and I can team up and work with that.
Alexandra: I just loved it because it comes from such an authentic place that your love of Paris, as you say, and your love of beauty. You often post pictures of flowers and the beautiful architecture in Paris and I just loved the dovetailing of that. That authenticity about you and what you’re doing in your business.
Mary: Thank you.
Alexandra: We talked about the new program that you’ve got coming out. Is there anything else you want to share with folks about what you do?
Mary: I think if I just had one thing to say about working for yourself no matter what kind of business you’re in is that it can be a lot easier than the general entrepreneurial conversation makes it out to be. It just doesn’t have to be so complicated.
You can do things in a way that is more congruent with who you are and what you enjoy. And you can still be as successful as you want to be doing things in your own way.
Certainly I have benefited from knowledge that I’ve gained from certain types of business training. If I come up to a knowledge gap then I look for something like this coach that I mentioned and then I look for someone to help me.
But in general, I think we have a much more intuitive sense of how to do things than we let ourselves think we do. So that’s a big focus for me and for how I work with people.
Alexandra: I love hearing that. This has been amazing Mary thank you so much for chatting with me.
I mentioned before we started recording that I feel like I know you because I’ve been following you for so long. So thank you again for talking to us and we’ll say once more everybody can find out about your courses and everything else at MarySchiller.co
Mary: That’s right. It’s s-c-h-i-l-l-e-r. Thank you.
[Bicycle image courtesy Cristina Gottardi and Unsplash.]