This is a replay of an episode from a couple of years ago – because it's just. That. Good.
A few months ago I was complaining to friend and Like a Mother guest and business Jenn Scalia about feeling stalled in my career. "I can't work with you until you get through your money blocks," Jenn said, matter-of-factly. You might remember that Jenn went from earning a $38,000 salary to a profit of $400,000 in two years. She credits the work of Denise Duffield-Thomas, a money mindset coach and author of Lucky Bitch and Get Rich, Lucky Bitch. I paid attention.
Fast-forward two months: I'd read Thomas's book. I love how she offered very clear, reasonable, actionable steps for manifesting what I wanted (in this case: MONEY). She was funny and real, not pretentious, new-age-y or annoying in any way.
Guess what? Money started flowing into my life. Career goals I set magically manifested. Key people I needed on my team suddenly were introduced. Even smaller things -- like my brother gave me his old TV, which was on my to-buy list for Christmas. I met others who had the same experience with Thomas. I bought a stack of Get Rich, Lucky Bitch and gave one to each of my ambitious girlfriends for Christmas.
Here I interview Denise Duffield-Thomas. Just as her videos and book suggest, she is warm, funny and real as she dished -- very pregnant with her second child -- from her home on the beach in Australia. In this episode Thomas shares:
- Her own experience growing up around poor single moms, and how that shaped her life.
- The first giant manifestation -- an around-the-world, all-expense-paid trip -- created a roadmap for Thomas's future career and success.
- How to manifest money so it is a source of good (and not evil).
- How creating a business has freed so many women from the limits of male-run corporate life.
Check out the FREE Lucky Bitch manifestation course to get a taste of Thomas's charm and powerful tips.
Full transcript of Like A Mother podcast interview with Denise Duffield-Thomas
Emma: Welcome guys, I am so, so excited. I'm actually a little nervous. I'm so excited to interview today's guest, who is Denise Duffield-Thomas. You may know her as Lucky Bitch. I got to know her through one of our previous and most popular guests, who is Jenn Scalia. Who you may recall was a single mom, who went from earning, I think, $38,000 a year, one year, and being pretty happy about that, to earning $500,000 the next year. And she attributes it all to working with Denise. Denise, thank you so much for being here with me today.
Denise: Thanks for having me Emma. And wow, that's a pretty cool endorsement from Jenn But I assure you, she did the work, not me.
Emma: She did the work, but you really changed something in her. I was talking about maybe working with Jenn, who is a business coach. And I was telling her about some challenges I had and she goes... You know what, I can't even work with you until you get over your money issues, and you've got to read Denise's book. And so I did, I was very obedient about it, and I went and read it. And then I turned around and went on Amazon... I literally ordered a dozen copies, and I gave them to all my girlfriends for Christmas.
Denise: Oh wow!
Emma: Because it works.
Denise: Thank you.
Helping women manifest money and get over their money issues
Emma: It's crazy. So, Denise, your story Is what? What's your bridge? You help women manifest money and get over their money issues.
Denise: Yeah it's really as simple as that. There was a lot of different areas that I could have gone in, in my business, but I realized I wanted to step up and be part of the conversation around women and money. In my early stages I thought, God, I have to be Susie Allman or nothing. Maybe I should go and become a financial advisor. And I think that's a path that a lot of women go through, we think... Who am I to even talk about this? What I realized was, I am so passionate about women and money. I am just happy to be part of the conversation around changing the way women think and feel about money. And so that's what I do.
Emma: You do it very well. So, lets talk a little bit...well first, briefly about your business. You have a book, but we all know you don't make a million dollars writing books. Your business is what? What does it look like? It's online courses.
Denise: Yes it is. All transparency by the way, you can ask me anything about my business. I make about $3,000 a month from my books. When I first started I made a couple hundred of dollars from my books, maybe every quarter, and that did grow. But, I think it is important for people to hear that, that the book is not the vehicle. The book is usually the business card, to what you do.
Denise: So my main business now is... I really focus everything on my Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp. And this is where I funnel people into. I don't do any one to one coaching anymore, I very rarely do any live events. I'm focused on one really big cause, an online community, that's where my personal time and attention goes.
Denise: Almost everything else in my business is very automated. I've put a couple of other little courses here and there, but, I deliberately did that too, and because I was having a baby. And I was like... I can't run my business like I've been running it, with a kid. But I was like... Maybe I should delegate. So I made a lot of changes when I got pregnant with my first.
Emma: And you're pregnant with your second now, right?
Denise: I am. Yeah.
Emma: Okay, well we're going to get into your story, but lets just wind this whole thing back. You were a broke person for a lot of your life, right? You were scraping by, you were kind of ghetto, and you always lived in a crappy apartment, you were driving a crappy car. What was going on there? And then how did you change it? Tell me your story.
Growing up around poor single moms
Denise: Well I don't come from a rich family. I come from a family who, a lot of the time, end up being single moms. I think that's a pattern that is continued on a lot, throughout particularly my mom's generation and her sisters. They married really badly. I'm just being honest. A lot of them had kids really young, and so, they didn't get any kind of education to empower themselves to earn more money.
Denise: My mom, she still works in a hospital as an assistant nurse, she had me at 18. We grew up, not dirt poor or anything, where we couldn't afford to eat, but there were some pretty dicey times. I think the message that I got from a really young age was that you have to work really hard in physically demanding, shitty jobs, to scrape by. And you have to rely on government assistance and you have to do all of this stuff.
Denise: I made a decision pretty young that I wanted to be rich, I really did. A lot of that was stumbling across the personal development world in my teens, I think. And I made a real vow to not have kids really young.
Denise: I had seen how much that had impacted my family. This is the funny thing too, it wasn't until I was like 32, I was like... Am I allowed to have kids now? Are people going to be shocked if I have kids at 32? People are like... No, you're pretty old to have kids now.
Emma: That's so interesting, what I'm hearing you say, this resonates with me personally. My mom was a single mom too and I saw her struggling, but I also saw her as very bright and educated person. My mom has got a couple degrees, but she's still struggling, and I would get really angry. I think this is definitely one of the anger forgiveness exercises that I did with the help of your book.
Emma: Because I was like... Why can't you get your act together? I think she just bought into this poverty mentality. And the very first thing you said was, actually there's a lot of single moms. So even you, in your mind, can know, single mother and poverty. Which is something I'm always working on with my followers, too. That just really is just the patent assumption with us all.
Denise: Oh, absolutely. I know lots of amazing, single moms who have got businesses and who are rocking it. But for me growing up, especially in the area I lived in, it was a lot of government housing, it was kind of unusual for people to have a dad at home. That was my story I think. Women can't make money, especially single women. They were the only women I knew.
Emma: Well that's true for everybody, what you know is what you know.
Emma: If you aren't surrounded by people that look like you, or dress like you, or have your lifestyle, that are thriving, how in a million years are you going to figure that out on your own unless you make a conscious decision?
Denise: The other thing is, if you grew up like that, you don't know any real rich people. You know cartoon rich people. You actually don't know what that looks like in the real world, and it can feel like a different world to you. And even though I did break the cycle in a lot of ways, I did really well in school, I went to university.
Denise: When I got into the world of work, I still felt like there was something that was really blocking me from doing well in a traditional, corporate career. And I think it was just those years of money blocks. I was very intimidated by the men that I had to work with. I never advocated for myself to earn more money. I was really following a pretty crappy path, I think.
"If I had continued in a world of work, rather than entrepreneurship, I'd be really stuck."
Emma: I love how you say it's work, or entrepreneurship.
Denise: They're very different worlds.
Emma: Well I don't want to say that having a salary is so crippling, because somebody else is telling you how much you can earn that year. Why am I limited by that? Until maybe, if somebody else decides to give me a raise next year? That's bullshit.
Denise: Yeah and I remember asking for a raise one time at my job and my boss said... Well when I was your age, that was great salary! And I'm like... You're like 15 years older than me! But it felt so unfair. And unfortunately still, in a lot of corporate environments, men still do have all the power. And that's why I'm so passionate about entrepreneurship as a vehicle for women. Because, yes we can change the para dime of the corporate world, I just think we turn our back on it and go... You guys have it.
Emma: And that's what's happening right? People are like... Well I can't single-handedly change the system, so I'm going to go create my own system.
Emma: I want to hear more about your story. I read your book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! And a lot of it is about this one big, pivotal, manifesting moment that you had when you and your husband won this unreal trip around the world.
Emma: Well first of all, lets just back up. And for those that don't really get it, explain what manifesting even is.
What is manifesting?
Denise: I'm a really practical Virgo, and so when I read about manifesting, through the secret, which a lot of people did. I was like... Oh, so it's like magic, that's what manifesting means. And what I realized through studying it and putting myself in positions, where, amazing things seemingly happened from magic. It just means taking stuff off of your dream board and making it real, in the real world. You do have to get intensely practical for that happen. But you can't deny that when you do put yourself in that space of being in the right place at the right time, there's lots of things that you can do, which we can talk about. There is no denying that it feels like magic, when it feels like the universe is on your side.
Emma: So it's taking your ideas, your thoughts, your dreams, your energy and turning those into the physical world.
Denise: Yes. So, it's not relying on some magic thing. You actually have a really massive part to play in that. So even skeptics, and even I was a bit of skeptic when it came to manifesting, because I was like... What do I do? Do I just sit and wish harder?
Emma: Well, that's what I loved about your book. There're all kinds of really...as people say, woo-woo stuff, but you give people actual tasks to do. And you say, you're going to do A, B, and C... And we'll talk about those things in a minute. But you do A, B, and C, and then you're going to get it. And it is magical, and it's insane because it works.
Emma: Lets just talk about your story. Lets talk about this big trip that you wanted to win, it was a contest.
Denise: Yeah, so, I was actually living in London at the time, my husband's English. Maybe I was in my late 20s, I was starting to feel like a real loser, to be honest. I had always been interested in personal development, I read a ton of books, been to a ton of courses. But in the real world, my life was kind of crap.
Denise: I was in a job that I didn't like. When is that going to change? I was living in this little house in a country that I don't want to live in anymore, this is just not my life. And I think a lot of people have been in that situation where you just kind of look around and it just feels so overwhelming. You just think... God, the gap between where I am, and this idea of my dream life, is just so far apart.
Manifesting an all-expenses-paid trip around the world
Denise: We went on honeymoons, we got married, I think when I was maybe 29. We were on a honeymoon and I just went... I'm ready, universe. This is it, something is going to change. And I asked for a couple of things simultaneously. One is, I was desperate to write a book... Send me an idea, send me an experience. But then the other thing was, lets go traveling. Lets make a big disruption in our life, because nothing is going to happen to us sitting in this small apartment in London. And nothing is going to happen with us being in jobs that we were both frustrated with. I went home a different person from the honeymoon. Not because I got married, but because I think I felt like... You know when people go... Oh, I'm going to get married, it's going to be amazing!
Denise: I was like... No, this is supposed to be the happiest day of my life, and, I'm marrying a great guy, but everything else in my life was so mediocre, and so, shit.
Emma: Universe. Shitty universe.
Denise: It made even the wedding day. It was great, but it's one day. I don't want just one day, I want lots of days of amazing things. I came home, and I put a post up on my wall, and I said that Mark and I are going traveling for six months, I actually put free. And I was really reluctant to put that, but I thought, maybe we can do speaking engagements. I've done training and speaking a bit before, and I was just thinking... I'm just going to open it up to the universe, I started telling everyone Mark and I are going traveling next year.
Denise: I got a text from a friend and she just said, you should apply for this job, I think it's your perfect job. And it was a competition for a honeymoon company who were looking for a couple who could go around and blog on honeymoon destinations. And of course I was like, well this is my sign from the universe. This is 2010, so there's been a lot of social media competition since then. But this was pretty new, and it was pretty exciting. But also, this whole concept of blogging was kind of new as well. Mark and I said, okay, here's the deal... We've got to do this video, it's due tonight for this competition that we're going to win. We're going to go travel for six months, it's all done. You have to quit your job, I have to quit my job, it's all going to be great.
Denise: I wanted people listening to hear this as well, if you've ever done something like that, put yourself forward for something, don't be surprised if you get a lot of resistance. It was hell, we had to do a two minute video, we were like killing each other by the end. For this one thing that we had to do, we had to put together a two minute video for the very first application of this process.
Denise: If people get resistance around something for putting themselves forward, for something that they really want to do, this is the first step of many, and it's really natural. We would start to film and I'm like... You weren't even looking in the camera! You look like your cross-eyed!
Emma: Oh God, okay, I got it.
Denise: It was so frustrating, we made it, I think five minutes before the deadline. We almost didn't do it because in the video we were supposed to be go... Hey we're Mark and Denise! We just got married, we are your couple to do this honeymoon thing. But in reality I was like... You're not even looking in the camera. I was like... This is just not going to happen, but-
Emma: So you submitted the video, but you had all of these rituals that you're doing to manifest this trip that you wanted so badly, right?
Practical steps for manifesting your dreams
Emma: What were some of those things that you were doing?
Denise: One of the big things that people always shy away from doing, is, they think... I don't want to clear my calendar first, I'll see if I win, and then I'll clear my calendar, this is just one example. Even before we were shortlisted from that first application, I looked at our calendar and I said... Mark, there are a couple of things that we're going to have to cancel. And he was just like... Oh, but lets wait and see if we even get shortlisted. I was like... No, no, no...no. You have to tell that person we can't go to their wedding.
Emma: Oh my God. That's huge. That's really ballsy.
Denise: This is what happens right? We go... I'll wait until the money shows up, before I take action, and you can't, it goes the other way around.
Emma: So you're really faking it until you make it?
Denise: Big time.
Emma: You're behaving as if it's already manifested before it shows up.
Denise: Absolutely. One of the things we started doing was packing up our house. It wasn't that we just got plucked out of a hat, we had to kind of show that we were good candidates who could market ourselves. We did lots of other things. We got people to vote for us, and we wrote to celebrities to endorse us, we did a lot of that practical stuff as well, which a lot of people didn't do. I did a million tricks, so, everything that you've ever read-
Denise: I did a million tricks. So, every thing that you've ever read on any personal development book or course, I did everything. I had dream boards. I had mantras. It was like, ultimate job winner, ultimate job winner. I texted Mark 50 times a day saying, "We're gonna win this competition." I mean I did everything. Yeah, I changed my password to be ultimate job winner. I decluttered beliefs that I wasn't allowed to have good things happen to me. I did EFT, I did tapping.
Changing your beliefs and decluttering your mind
Denise: The thing was, and this is where people get a bit caught up in it, they go, "Oh well I want to win a competition too." I was changing my life no matter what and I think the competition got swept up in my enthusiasm for changing my life, not the other way around. This is a perfect example, right. One night I was coming home from work, and I was standing at the train station and was rehearsing the speech that I would be giving people after the competition had ended about how I won the competition. I was walking up and down, saying it out loud and there was commuters just going, "What is she doing?" But to me it was always about what was happening after that, because I was like, "I'm gonna write a book about this, I'm gonna talk about this. This is gonna be my thing."
Denise: Honestly the judges, they got swept up in my conviction that I was changing my life. I was going traveling anyway. We had tenants for our cabin before we won it. We had to move that hard, no matter what. I really think the difference between us and the other couples who ended up being in the final 10 was that we had decluttered all this emotional stuff beforehand. We had told friends we couldn't go to their wedding. We had told our bosses that we were in the running for this competition. All right, this was when we got to the top ten, we told our bosses and basically my boss said, "Well, you're gonna have to quit." And I was like, "Okay, well consider this my notice period, I guess."
Emma: Wow, that's kind of scaring me because I look around me and I see so many people ,say, in financial debt. Because they over-leveraged themselves for a big house or whatever, because they're like, "Well, I know I'm gonna eventually earn enough to pay off that debt, or eventually pay for this house that I bought and it doesn't work out like that and they end up losing the house or going bankrupt to become something neurotic and not empowering.
Why you have to act first in order to manifest something
Denise: Do you know what I think though? People are happy to do big things like that, but if I say to someone, they go "Oh I really want to go to this course, conference." I go "Okay, book a hotel." And they go "No, no, I can't do that." And you go, but you're not even paying for it, you can cancel 24 hours, they just need a credit card to book it. It feels like that's too much of a commitment. They're like, "Oh no, but I'll wait for the money to show up before I book the conference." And I'm like, "Just book the hotel. That's not gonna cost you anything."
Denise: But, I agree with you. People make huge, irresponsible decisions sometimes on big, irreversible things, but you ask them to put a little bit of skin in the game to something that they say they want to manifest and they won't do it.
Emma: I get it. All right, so we're gonna talk a little bit more about the money block. So, for me personally, I went through them all. They made a huge difference in my life. It was unbelievably eye-opening, but let's talk about you, like what were some of your money flops? Well first of all, define what a money block is.
What is a money block?
Denise: Sure, well a money block is just something that is stopping you from making the money that you want. It could show up as resistance, procrastination, self-sabatoging behaviors, and I think anyone who just feels that inner conflicting kind of feeling around money, that's a money block. It's not a set science or anything like that. Mast of our money blocks really are based on stories that we have around money or ingrained beliefs that we have around money.
Denise: I'll tell you one of mine because it is one of the most common that I come across with other women. So, you know, probably people listening will resonate with it. But one of mine is you have to work really hard to make money.
Denise: You know what, that's a really universal one across all income levels. I was surprised at that because I was thinking, "Well, yeah, in my family you had to go and be a cleaner to make money." But then I was talking to people in my work, working with so many women now, and she was like, "That's mine too, but my dad was a lawyer." You know, it's like we grew up really rich, but the message that I got was, "Hey, if you're not billing 100 hours a week, then it doesn't count."
Denise: So, the funny thing about money blocks in general is they have nothing to do with how much money you had as a kid. It actually has not much to do with how much money you have now because the stories are usually completely irrational, not really based on reality at all, but it's just some inner belief that you have and this shows up for a lot of entrepreneurs. So, the way it shows up for entrepreneurs is a refusal to delegate, like, just "Well, I can't get someone else to do that, what would I do?" Refusal to create systems to make things more easier and more systematized and more streamlined in their business. A real reluctance to do things like batching.
Denise: This is a really weird one as well I've encountered, a lot of women are really strangely reluctant to do things like Facebook advertising, like it feels like cheating.
Emma: Oh my gosh.
Denise: Have you got that one?
Emma: No, just the idea of like, it's cheating or something. 'Cause let's talk about in general just women and mothers and the disconnect between their sense that they are entitled to money. There's so much quilt about it, right? I was just having a conversation with a mom in the neighborhood and she's like "Yeah, you know, I really want to build a business, but I'm doing like this part time yoga instruction, but you know I really should be making a decent income, but that means that I'd have to have," to your point, "A bazillion hours a week and I'd never see my kids."
Denise: It's such a saboteur.
Emma: It's such a sabotage. Another one that kills me is this idea about how women, I don't care how successful you are, you are always doing way more housework than you should be. So, there's like all these studies about it, for example, when they're in families where there's a marriage and two high earning people, the women do like 70 percent more housework and childcare than the men. The party line is always like, "Oh well, the guys just need to step it up." But, well maybe the women need to let that stuff go and let go of this working mom guilt in the sense that they need to be doing all this housework when they're making really great money. It's just craziness.
Denise: You know what Emma, I'm totally over that one now.
Denise: It kind of goes into the second most popular block I've seen. So the first one is you have to work hard to make money. The second one though, on the surface it sounds really, really good, and it sounds really noble, it almost sounds like a lot of things that women are taught to do. So the block is, I don't care about money, I just want to help people.
Money block: "I don't care about money. I just want to help people."
Emma: Like they're mutually exclusive, they're mutually exclusive.
Denise: Absolutely, or I just want to be a good mom. It's like, "Well business is important to me, but being a mom is way more important." And so of course on the surface, you go "Oh, of course your kids are more important." Or "Of course it's more important to help people." But that is the problem, you think that they are mutually exclusive. So, it's one or the other. This is where it comes into, if I'm not with my kids 24/7 then I'm a bad person.
Emma: Yeah, right, you know what makes you a good mom? You're happy and you're successful. That's a good mom.
Denise: Absolutely. Or I have to work with everyone, even people who can't afford me because I want to help people. The universe will send you lots of people to help with no money. The universe will help you totally do that. When you don't charge for what you do, you can't help that many people. You really can't. Like if you want to help everyone one to one, there's a limit to how many people you can help like that.
Denise: But, when you embrace the fact that you can earn great money helping people, you actually then create a lot more creative energy really to do things like write a book, to distill your knowledge down into e-courses that people can buy. I wouldn't have had time to do this a couple of years ago because I was booked literally from 5:30 in the morning till 9:00 at night doing one to one work, very cheaply. I wouldn't have had time to talk to you and the people listening. That's an interesting one to break free from because it's a paradox one, right. You go, "Well if I embrace earning great money, then I can actually help more people."
Emma: "Cause you have to charge.
Denise: You have to charge and you have to be okay accepting money for helping people. So you can help more people.
Emma: So where did you learn that? I mean, you read out there, anyone in particular that you follow? Or where did you even figure out all these tricks?
Resources for learning about manifestation
Denise: Well I've been reading manifesting books since I was about 14. I think it just came those little bits from everywhere. The very first book I ever read about manifesting is called The Magic of Believing. It's a very old book, by Claude Bristol. He never mentions the word manifesting or the law of attraction in there, it was one of those books where he talks about changing our language, changing your thoughts. I think I just pulled everything from everywhere and I just went, what can I do to make sure my thoughts are always in vibration. I honestly think it was, I was at the end of my rope. I was like, universe, I'm not doing any more of this. I'm done. I'm done with that life and I'm ready for something else. You have to live your real life within that, but for me, I was at work and I was like, "This is temporary." Like this is my temporary life.
Emma: Well, that's what I see that's really consistent, because I read a lot of stories and I have a lot of guests on this show where there's always a big transformation, right. Like, Jenn, she's a great example. Everyone loves her story because she was super middle class and then she like blew it up overnight and it was just this huge shift, but she just decided that she wanted to make a lot of money and then she did.
Emma: Somebody always has to be at the upper one percent of your industry, why shouldn't it be you? The reasons are all the bull shit reasons that you tell yourself, that's the only reason.
Denise: But, I still do this stuff now. Like when I first started my business and my first year, I had to do this big long drive to go see one of my clients. I was in this crappy car. On the whole commute down, I would practice speeches of how I told people that I made six figures, like this is before six figures was even a possibility for me. I would rehearse that and then when I made six figures, you know, whenever I commuted I would practice speeches about how I told people how I got to a million dollars. Now, when I drive around I practice talking to Oprah.
Denise: It's ongoing work. If you feel exhausted by that, I think the main work that you have to go and do is on your beliefs. Because that's what it takes and when I speak to my peer group and my mastermind buddies who are very successful women, they're not cruising. They're still doing their manifesting work, they're still doing their goal setting stuff. They're still working on their attitude and their mindset all the time because it's like taking a shower, you don't just do it once. You have to do it every day.
Emma: Well, and that's part of your appeal because you're so real and you're so authentic. You are, like talking about your weight challenges, you talk about your baby and your kid and you swear, I mean for crying out loud your URL has got the B word in it.
Denise: I know.
Emma: You're so real and that's the thing. All of this stuff is so human. That's one of the big things we are always telling ourselves is like, I'm not making the kind of money or I don't have the relationship I want because I'm not skinny enough. Or my family is isn't the Rockefellers or whatever. But we're all just human and I love your point about how you just have to constantly be working through all that all the time because you're human like everybody else.
Excuses and inner beliefs to get rid of
Denise: Something you just said a couple minutes ago, you said, why not me? And I had to embrace that feeling. I had to fake it and sometimes I still have to fake it. To say "Why not me?" Why aren't I allowed to speak about money, why can't I make six figures? Why can't I be a millionaire? That's a mantra that I still use today. I remember saying to my coach my first year of business, I said, "I'd love to start working my blog, but I think I need to go and have elocution lessons instead." And she was like, what? I said, but I hear other people go, I'd love to start writing my book, but I think I before I do that, I think I need to go and get a certificate.
Emma: What, like to spelling?
Denise: Or it's like I need to go and do a writing course before I'm allowed to write my first blog. I think we're living in the age of not only imperfection, but we're living in the age of diversity where there has to be a lot of diverse voices. People want to see somebody like them, or they want to see somebody who is different and real. You have to decide and go, it's okay for me to be there and if I've never seen anyone like me, well then I have to be the first and I know you're waiting for someone else to be that, to make it okay for you, but suck it up. You're gonna have to be the first because why not you?
Emma: To answer that question, you hear yourself thinking a bunch of excuses and that's powerful. Listening to yourself say a whole bunch of crap.
Denise: The only reason I'm telling people my excuses is so I can have accountability to not use those excuses anymore.
Emma: That's so powerful. It is so powerful to say them out loud.
Emma: Someone hears you and you realize you're not crazy and you don't have a reason to be ashamed. I'll tell you what, I had a real, I have to share a breakthrough that I had just last week. Randomly, I connected with just a colleague. I was sharing with her some of my challenges in my business because one challenge I have is that I have a really successful blog, a really successful podcast, but the money doesn't reflect as big and dynamic and engaged as these platforms are. So I'm transitioning from a world journalism, which by the way all my journalist friends are broke.
Denise: Oh yeah.
Emma: Into a world of online entrepreneurs, so I last week, two weeks ago I was at an event with Kim and Emily Williams, all these online entrepreneurs are making seven figures and more and they came out of nowhere and I'm like, "Wait a minute, why is that not me? What is going on?" And I figured out the story I was telling myself, I'm still stuck in this idea where I've been giving away all this information, all this advice, all this support, all these resources to these moms because I've been spending my whole career as a pretty well paid writer, but not an awesome paid writer. I'm like how can I package this information in a way that is valuable to people. I was just getting in my own way, making these excuses and telling myself stories. It was a huge breakthrough for me.
Denise: I honestly think though Emma, a lot of it comes down to women, to I'm not enough. Like, I'm not good enough. You really just have to get out of your own way and just remind yourself, why not? You don't need that many clients to make a successful business. You don't need to serve everybody in the whole wide world.
The three-step formula for manifestation
Emma: The thing that I like best about your book is that you give people actual tasks to do. I mean it's very easy stuff that anybody can do and you just do these exercises, like your homework. What are the three main steps that you have your followers do?
Denise: Everything that I teach, it follows a particular formula. Whether or not I say it, and it's five steps to it. I've got a free course on this, by the way, so we can just send people there. Step number one is to declutter. That's where you get rid of most of your stories, but it's where you can do physical decluttering as well. It's really the clean up and for some people you can spend 80 percent of your time in this and then 20 percent of the time on the other four steps.
Emma: And explain what decluttering though means, what does it mean specifically?
Denise: Sure. So if you do it from an emotional point of view, which most of us need to do. That's looking at your stories, finding out where your beliefs came from, doing forgiveness work on your family, letting yourself get rid of that emotional baggage that you're carrying. Whether it's around money, around women, around success, around visibility. You know, permission to be successful, all that kind of stuff.
Emma: So, specifically though, you're asking people to write down your earliest money memories, right?
Realizing your earliest money memories
Emma: And the negative ones and where did those come from, usually they're attached to somebody, probably in your family and then you are writing it down, right. I did it on the computer, but I think there's something about maybe writing it down on a paper, I mean pen and paper. Then you give them a little meditation to forgive them? Like, you forgive the person, you love them and then.
Emma: It's easy to forgive them, right? You forgive the person, you love them and then let it go.
Denise: The other part of that too, is same commonalities. What are all the commonalities between your stories and what beliefs did you make that mean? Did you see people working and having fights about money? A lot of the time when you do that, when you write down everything you remember about money, you really get all about how you're sabotaging yourself and your current life, because you go, "Oh, wow. That's why I'm always fighting with my husband about money."
Denise: There's so much really great stuff that can come from just literally putting pen to paper and writing down everything you remember about money.
Emma: Right. Then the other one that I found so interesting and powerful for me was writing down your fears about being rich.
Are you afraid of being rich?
Denise: It is huge because you might not be aware of those stories on a day-to-day basis, but that's what's stopping you from finishing your book. Even some women have people in their inbox going, "How can I work with you?" And they just ignore them. They're like, "Well, I don't know why I'm doing that." Well, maybe you're afraid of being rich.
Emma: People scoff at that, "I'm ready to rich. I'm ready to go shopping. I know where I'm going to go on vacation."
Emma: So what are the reasons you hear most commonly, why people are afraid to be rich?
Denise: For a lot of people, women, I think it's around loss. They think, "Well, my friends are going to reject me."
Denise: "I won't be the same as other people. I will be-"
Emma: -shunned from the tribe." That's what it comes down to, really.
Denise: When you think of that intellectually, you go, "Pfft! I don't think that!" But you dig down a little deeper, even some people, before they've even made a dollar in their business, they are lying awake at night thinking about how their kids would be kidnapped if they were really, really rich.
Emma: Oh, that's interesting.
Emma: That's so interesting. Right around the time I was reading your book, I live in Queens, in a nice but kind of funky neighborhood. I was down in the West Village, which is the most expensive part of the whole city now. So I'm looking in the windows of this beautiful place, they've got gorgeous art on the wall. I'm like, "Oh gosh, if I made all this money I could live down here." I get into this fantasy but then the fantasy turned into, "Oh yeah, then I would have to leave my great neighborhood with all my friends and neighbors, who I love and I wouldn't fit in."
Denise: Yeah. Exactly! Well, here's the story too, right? We think that we have to be a completely different person to be wealthy. I really challenge people to go and do that money memories exercise. Everyone's got their own little thing. Some people think, "Well, I'm an environmentalist. I can't be rich. I'll turn into this gas guzzling, rich, asshole."
Emma: They're going to buy a Hummer.
You can be rich and environmentally friendly
Denise: You can be rich and environmentally friendly. You can be rich and casual, like I'm sitting here in my cut-off jeans, which is my summer uniform. I thought, "Oh my god, well I'll have to move to some fancy neighborhood where everyone's wearing high heels all the time and walking their poodles!" I don't want to be like that.
Denise: Those little things, you might not think that they're powerful, but they're stopping you from doing the things to go to the next level in your business.
Emma: Have you become rich?
Denise: Well, yes. I am rich. I don't mind saying that. I wouldn't say I'm super super wealthy, because I think that's a bit more long-term thing? But I am totally new money. I am super new money.
Emma: So how much do you make now?
Denise: Well, last year I made about $1.3 million.
Emma: Okay, and how much of that as profit?
Denise: Let me think, last year it was about $650.
Emma: And what were you making like five years ago?
Denise: My income's doubled every year. 60, 120, 240, like 500, over a million. So I've kind of doubled it a little bit more most years. I mean, my goal's $2 million for this year. I've already locked in $750 for the year.
Emma: And we're in March. Yeah, we're at the beginning of March.
The thing no one wants to hear about making lots of money
Denise: To be honest, and this is the weird thing, this is the thing that really hurts to hear when you're not making any money, is that at a certain point, the money is not the most important part anymore. It's just kind of, oh okay. It's money.
Emma: Yeah, nobody's ready to hear that. They don't want to hear that.
Denise: It's really about the person you become, and I'm really not that motivated by money.
Emma: What are you motivated- what is important?
Denise: Freedom. Like when I hit six figures Emma, I spend it all. I spent so much money because I felt so deprived for such a long time. I'm just not that motivated by spending money. I'm motivated by the freedom that it's giving me. And we're about to buy a new house, it'll be a big house and all that cool stuff, but when I was broke in my first year of business, it was all about the money. I was like, "Oh my god. But it is- I need that money!"
Emma: But going from what, I don't know, from 50 to 150, that's a big jump. With numbers like that, that's a big lifestyle change. So you have freedom now, right? You're wearing your calf tan and you're about to have your second baby, and you're able to spend time with your babies, which I know you talk about a lot. So you have that freedom, but, you have the freedom right? So what else is it then? Why keep growing it? Why not just be happy with bringing in $1.2 and a profit of $650?
Denise: It's a good question, but it goes to that point too, when you start out, and when you go, "Why can't I just be happy being in a job?" I am happy. Even going from half a million to a million didn't change my happiness, you know what I mean? That's what I'm saying, it's not about the money at this stage. Going from $1.3 to $2 million is not going to increase my happiness. I think it's just now, why not? Cause I didn't think I'd reach anywhere near my full potential as an entrepreneur. I am super lazy.
Emma: Give me an example of something you do half-assed?
Denise: Okay, I know there's broken stuff all over my website. I know there's stuff that's really badly branded. I'm actually going through edits at the moment with my book, because I've made some errors in my book. When people say, "Oh, I put my heart and soul into something." I always think, "Oh, I just half-assed it cause that's all I could do." I had to overcome my resistance so much.
Emma: And I don't think that's being half-assed! It's like the minimal, viable product, right? You're just soft-launching these things and they're not perfect, and now you're kind of honing them in a couple of years later. I don't know if that's laziness.
Denise: Oh, I am pretty lazy.
Emma: Okay, alright.
Money gives you freedom
Denise: I still have a lot of resistance in my life, but also, the other thing I think I got now is – Money does give you freedom and it gives you space, especially if you save some of it, right? I see people who are earning similar money to me, but they have to start again from scratch every single month because they have such high overheads or they spend it all. And the real shift that I've made is this concept of, have a buffer. Have some financial security. That takes away the urgency to do things, but also paradoxically, when you don't have the urgency you actually have the freedom and then just, "Oh, well I'll do it anyway because I want to, not because I have to."
Denise: And again that sounds like, "Oh, Denise. What a lucky bitch problem to have!"
Emma: First world problems all over the place.
Denise: But, I can pinpoint the exact moment for me that I made that shift and it was when I started saving five dollars a week. Because I was so blocked about having extra money and excess money, because I had this belief that, "No. I have to run on adrenaline every single month or otherwise I won't do it." It's saving that five dollars a week, even though it really blocked me at the time, now I've got half a million dollars in the bank.
Emma: What I'm hearing you say is that you had been hustling, like you said, you had that adrenaline under your ass that you felt like if you stopped and you were chill and you had the freedom, that you would lose your momentum and be a failure.
Denise: Yep, and I've seen people that still do that today, even though they make a million dollars.
Denise: Well the last thing I want to say on that, and people are not going to believe me, but in a couple of years you'll go, "Oh, she was right." Money doesn't solve money blocks. Money isn't the solution to your money blocks. The solution to your money blocks is to give yourself permission to release the stories. If someone gave you a million dollars tomorrow, your money blocks are going to be the same.
Emma: Right, so I have a question for you, because your whole platform is about making money, and everybody likes to make money, and there's all these amazing stories, but money can be really horrible! It changes people's lives sometimes in bad ways. You have any clients or stories about where it went south?
Denise: I didn't necessarily see it go south, it's just that you're still struggling with the same stuff but in different ways, and for me now, I get out of it much quicker. I go, "Oh, that's just my money block, oh cool." The message is, your money blocks are going to stay with you for the rest of your life, and that's okay. You'll be able to deal with it. They'll come up at different points in your life. They'll come up at different income levels in your life, but that doesn't mean that you're not meant to be successful.
Emma: I'm just going to push back, because you know that people out there are thinking. I've actually, I've been a money and business writer for my whole career, and I've always been fascinated with sudden wealth, the sudden wealth thing. There's people that build, financial advisors that have whole practices where they focus on that. There's all these stories which are very real. People that win the lottery go bankrupt. Athletes blow through their earnings. They get these six, sometimes seven, figure earnings. Contracts right out of college. They go bankrupt. It fucks up their lives. It fucks up their relationships, they have drug problems. There's a real dark side to sudden wealth.
Denise: Absolutely, which is why though for entrepreneurs, start now working on your money blocks.
Emma: You don't want to be that guy.
Manifesting for entrepreneurs
Denise: Absolutely, but for entrepreneurs, isn't sudden wealth necessarily. It took me five years to get to a million dollars. In the grand scheme of life, that's pretty quick. But for some people, that's not that quick. Because I was working on my money blocks pretty much everyday, I stepped into it gradually. I got accustomed and I learned those lessons gradually.
Emma: And that can be part of your practice too, right? If your goals are not just the money, but your goals are, I want the money and I want the healthy relations. I want the money and I want not to be doing meth.
Denise: Which is why you gotta start now. Don't wait for the money to come before you work on your money blocks.
Emma: So how about you, a friend of mine whose book I gave for her Christmas, a girlfriend of mine, and she loves you now. Morgan, I asked her what I should ask you, and she said, "Well, she always seems so perky and happy all the time, so when she has a down day or a down month, what does she do? Or does she even have a down day or a down month? How does she pull herself out of it, her funk?"
Denise: Well, I'm six months pregnant now. So I have a lot of cranky days. Yesterday was one of them because we're in this annoying gap between having a goal and having the goal manifest, and for us that's a new house. I'm in this super cranky space of, "Why can't we just the freaking perfect house now?" And I have to remind myself there's a process to these. Go back and have a look at your manifesting formula. The universe doesn't owe you anything just because, "Oh. I think I want to buy a house." You have to do all the other stuff to make sure you're there. I said to my-, "I'm sorry I'm being so cranky today." And he goes, "Yeah, you're really good at it."
Denise: It's not that I pretend that I'm happy all the time, but I see my role as someone who is bringing positivity into people's lives, so I'm not sharing all my cranky moments. I don't stress so much about bills and money and all that kind of stuff, but I still get cranky about really random stuff and that's who I am as a person.
Emma: Do you tell when you're grumpy?
Denise: I'm a Virgo. The story is you have to change everything about yourself to be wealthy, to be worthy of that money. You have to be perfect to be successful in business, to be financially successful. And you really don't-, and when you embrace that, and that's the whole concept of but why not me. With all my flaws, with all my imperfections, with everything that I am and end up being, why not me? And give up the idea that you have to be perfect when you are sharp authentically, you give other people permission to be themselves as well.
Emma: And you do that so well. Thank you.
Emma: Denise Duffield-Thomas. Luckybitch.com. I mean, how do you not love her with a URL like that? Tell us how else we can find you.
Your free five-step manifesting formula
Denise: Yes, so obviously we only went through one step of the five step manifesting formula for today, but I've got it all at a free cost and you can just get that at luckybitch.com/formula. You'll see what it really takes to manifest something that you want.
Emma: Awesome. I had such a pleasure to talk to you. This is why I love my job. I read a book that I like and then I get to talk to you! It's so fun!
Denise: Yes, it is. Thank you so much for introducing me to your lovely audience and for everyone listening, I just want to say. Today is your lucky day. There is no luck outside of you. You can decide that today is your lucky day.
Get Denise's book, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch!
Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.