Emotions are contagious, states of mind are contagious. To be in a room of other people who are up to what you’re up to, who are interested in the big questions that you’re interested in, who are engaged in their life and business in a way that you want to be engaged in your life and business, it instantly uplevels everybody.
– Sam Bennett
Darla LeDoux: Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the Podcast. This is Darla LeDoux, your host. I am here with a really special episode. We’re going to be talking about partnering on retreat today. I have the pleasure of having two guests, for the first time on the podcast, actually.
I have with me today Sam Bennett and Amy Ahlers. Hi, ladies!
Sam Bennett: Hello.
Amy Ahlers: Hi, Darla.
Darla LeDoux: Hi. Sam and Amy are partnering on a retreat coming up. We’re going to talk a little bit about that, but we’re going to talk about partnerships in general, when it comes to retreats. I get this question a lot, where people immediately, when they think of their retreat, they think about “Who am I going to bring in? Who can I partner with?”
Which is awesome. It’s a feminine thing to do, right? To think about “How do we collaborate?” Yet a lot of times, people are looking to bring in partners in ways that don’t support their success, actually. Guys, we’re going to really dig into this, and I know it’s going to be exciting.
But before we do, I want to just introduce you to Sam and Amy. Sam Bennett is the multiple bestselling author. She’s got two books: Start Right Where You Are and Get It Done. Yes.
Both of these books are really targeted toward creative entrepreneurs, helping them create a profitable and lucrative business, and really to make money from your creativity. Sam’s got a couple of books. She just launched a new podcast, which we’re super excited about:
Sam Bennett: This one’s actually The True Freedom Symposium Podcast. Both Darla and Amy are interviewed on that podcast.
Darla LeDoux: Yay.
Sam Bennett: If you want more Darla, or more Amy, that’s the place to get it. True Freedom Symposium.
Darla LeDoux: Is there a secret to not knocking over your microphone? That would be great.
Sam Bennett: I have knocked over my microphone on several podcast interviews, including one of the highest-status pod interviews I did.
Darla LeDoux: When?
Sam Bennett: My cat walked across, and knocked the computer and the mic all the way off. It was-
Darla LeDoux: Animals are the best. Earlier today, my dog was making noise, and I threw a pen at him, and it landed like, BOOM, in the middle of his forehead. That was like a little distracting. I felt so bad, like an abusive mother.
You want to follow Sam, if you want to get creatively inspired, conquer procrastination, and earn great money doing your great work. Yay! Welcome, Sam.
Sam Bennett: Thanks, Darla.
Darla LeDoux: Then, we have the fabulous Amy Ahlers, and I actually met both of you separately, so I love that you’re partnering. Amy is a women’s leadership expert, speaker, coach, and bestselling author. I love seeing you doing talks in corporate, and being on these big stages, and bringing this message of self-love, and really speaking kindly of yourself, to all kinds of audiences around the world. I really love it.
Your book, Reform Your Inner Mean Girl, has been a bible for some of my past clients who follow you, learned from you, learned your approach, and used the quiz and all of the materials that you have to really help them move past they way that they bully themselves, and step into being more loving.
Guys, Amy has been on stages, places like Google, Charles Schwab, Oracle. She’s appeared on countless TV and radio shows. She leads a Women’s Leadership Incubator called Rise and Lead. You’ll want to follow Amy, if you want to love yourself more deeply, and if you want to lead in new ways in this world.
Amy Ahlers: Thanks, Darla.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. You’re welcome.
Sam Bennett: I’m kind of digging the overlap here, because it’s like, I stand up in front of crowds of people and say, “Hey, guess what? Your creativity matters.” And people burst into tears because nobody’s said that to them, possibly ever, but at least not for a really long time.
Then, Amy stands up in front of people and says, “Hey, guess what? Maybe you could not be so hard on yourself.” And people burst into tears, because nobody’s said that to them. And then Darla stands up in front of people and says, “Hey, you could create something from your true source. You could create something completely authentic and divinely-inspired.” And everybody bursts into tears, because nobody’s said that to them.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, so maybe that’s a great jumping off point. I want to start with what’s “retreating” mean to you? The two of you are partnering on a retreat coming up. You’ve both led your own independent retreats. You’ve worked with other people, and brought in experts, or partnered on other things. But what does retreating mean to you, and why do you choose to do that in your business? Who would like to take that?
Amy Ahlers: I can jump in first on that one. I think the thing that I love the most about retreating, and really what it means to me, is it’s that sensation of taking time outside of time. Because for me, I have two daughters. I’m a busy, working mom. Life is full.
I feel like the bandwidth is short, and I’m an entrepreneur who gets to make her own schedule, so I, my first calls are at 10 a.m., because I’ve got the morning with my girls, and then I’ve got to do my daily practice, and then blah, blah, blah. All the things.
Yet, time is so precious, and so when we step outside of our day-to-day reality and take a breath. Especially when we take that breath with a group. I specialize in women’s leadership, so I specialize in women’s retreats.
When we take a breath with other women in the room, and then when we have that permission to drop the masks of, “Oh, I’m perfect. Haven’t you seen me at my Instagram?” Like, “Are you following my curated, perfect life that is nothing like my real life?” When we can actually drop the mask, connect with ourselves, and then connect with each other, there’s just nothing like it in the entire world.
Darla LeDoux: That’s so beautiful. Before we started recording, we chatted a little bit about this, and I said, “Is there anything off-limits that you don’t want me to ask about your partnership?” And all of that. You said, “No, we’ll do our laundry in public.” You talked about “drop the masks,” and “This isn’t maybe what my perfectly curated life is like.” Amy, why is that so important to you that people learn to do that? Because you do that publicly.
Amy Ahlers: Sometimes.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, say more.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, I mean, I think especially in the digital age that we’re living in, where one of the, there’s 13 different inner mean girl archetypes. Inner mean girl is that mean girl inside your head that’s meaner to you than anyone else ever could be. One of the most prevalent inner mean girl archetypes is the Comparison Queen.
She loves to compare your worst to everybody else’s best. Living in the age that we live in, where in our pocket, in our purse, we have this little device called a phone, where we can click a button, and the Comparison Queen can be fueled over, and over, and over again. We’re comparing the truth of our lives to someone else’s curated fantasy life.
Even though, for me, I thrive on, authenticity is a huge value of mine, transparency is a huge value, truth is a huge value, and yet I’m still only sharing a percentage of the truth of my life. For all of us to be in a room together, or in the case with Barefoot Perfect, in Belize, on a beach, in Belize together, and actually tell the fricking truth about what’s going on. That’s when real transformation can actually happen, because we can’t transform if we’re not in touch with what’s true for us. I just, I think it’s magic.
Darla LeDoux: Yes. “We can’t transform if we’re not in touch with what’s true for us.”
Amy Ahlers: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: I have found that to be 100% true.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Sometimes those things that aren’t perfectly curated, for me at least, it takes more thought to share them, and more responsibility, and more time, really. It’s much easier to say, “Here’s the highlight reel of all the happy, smiling pictures.”
Amy Ahlers: Totally. Well, and it’s vulnerability. It takes so much vulnerability, and it takes, the thing that I’ve discovered over and over again, even when I do a book signing, for example, and people are in the room just even for a couple of hours together. If we set up as leaders, and this is why I am so excited to be partnering with Sam on this, and why I have loved and adored her for over 23 years in our friendship, is because when we are leading in front of the room, and we give women a context and a container, where the safety becomes really relatively easy to get to quickly, we don’t mess around with that.
We’re not interested in the B.S. I don’t like small-talk. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I cannot stand it. It’s like we can then create the context, as leaders in the room, to give people that instantaneous way to go deep and tell the truth. Even at these really short events, tears are flowing. Even when I go in and do a keynote inside a major Fortune 500 company, tears are flowing.
Women are coming up to me after saying, “I never thought about this before. I thought that so-and-so SO had her act together.” But then because of the exercise, and because of the context that I’ve created, they’re able to actually tell the truth. It just creates instant intimacy, which is what we’re starving for, and longing for in our lives.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. Sam, how about you? How have retreats been a part of your world, and your business, and what does that mean for you?
Sam Bennett: Yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time in retreat, both as a participant. I’ve enrolled in a bunch of programs. Higher-end programs, lower-end programs, fancy ones, less fancy ones, and I always get a ton out of it.
Darla LeDoux: Wait, wait, wait. What’s “fancy,” and what’s “not fancy?” I’m just curious.
Sam Bennett: “Fancy” is like expensive, and that are at a Ritz-Carleton, or a Four Seasons, and everything’s very taken care of. “Less fancy” is like at the corner coffeeshop.
Darla LeDoux: Very clear.
Sam Bennett: At the CrossFit. We’re all really sweaty. And everything in between. I have also hosted events from very intimate, four and five person events, to over 100 people. I actually freaked out my event planner, because I’ve had over 100% attendance at my events. That doesn’t happen. I’m like-
Darla LeDoux: Over 100%?
Sam Bennett: Yes, because everyone showed up, and then they brought friends with them, like, “Oh, I forgot to get a ticket.” My people are creatives. They’re not always paying attention to the details, like registering in advance.
But I agree with Amy about taking this space and time outside of your life, to really give yourself a minute from the drowning and overwhelm that we’re mostly in, to really think strategically about what you’re up to. But the thing that really gets it for me, that I find so fruitful, is being in a room of like-minded people, right?
Because emotions are contagious. We’re tribal animals. It’s very easy for us to slide into the feeling of whatever the feeling of the room is. There’s study after study about this. If you’re in a waiting room, and you start looking at your watch, and tapping your foot, and making exasperated sounds, that will travel. Soon, everyone in that room is tapping their foot and looking at their watch. If you smile, and say something sweet to someone, all of a sudden, everybody’s smiling and saying something sweet to someone.
Right, so emotions are contagious, states of mind are contagious. To be in a room of other people who are up to what you’re up to, who are interested in the big questions that you’re interested in, who are engaged in their life and business in a way that you want to be engaged in your life and business, it instantly uplevels everybody.
Then you get to be in a room with people who see you just a little bit differently. Because they’re not in your day-to-day life. They don’t care who you’re married to. They don’t care what your tile grout looks like in the bathroom. They don’t care if you’re … They don’t care. They’re not in your life.
What they care about is what you have told them you’re there for. Now, you’re in a room where there’s however many people on the side of your dreams. On the side of your ambition. Right? Instead of on the side of, “You’re my friend. You should stay the way you are.” Or “You’re my sister. I don’t really want you to change.” Or “You’re my wife. I don’t really want you to change.”
Darla LeDoux: Or “Who are you to tell me about this?”
Sam Bennett: “Who do you think you are?” Mm-hmm (affirmative). All of that.
Darla LeDoux: “Because I know what your tile grout looks like.” That’s a good one.
Sam Bennett: Oh, great. We just regrouted the tub. Can you tell? That just happened.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. When we talk about being in a room of like-minded people, how is that different than connecting online with like-minded people? We all work online. We have, whether it’s Facebook Groups, or group programs, or Zoom calls, or ways that people can connect, how is it different in person?
Sam Bennett: The hugs. The hugging. We get so much information about each other, and when we can see each other, and smell each other, and feel each other’s energy, it’s a much richer experience. An unmediated experience. Right? There’s no editing. There’s no lighting. There’s no interruptions. You’re actually having an actual experience with an actual other person. Eye contact. It’s huge.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Amy, what about you?
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, I think, I agree. I was just thinking “no filters.” It’s so interesting, when we look at pictures online nowadays, or even on calls like this, there’s filters that you can use to make you look different than you actually look.
Sam Bennett: There are? We should use that! What are they?
Darla LeDoux: You haven’t discovered this on Zoom, Sam? We’ll talk.
Amy Ahlers: But I’m thinking about, I’m in Kimmi’s office, so it’s nice and tidy, but if we were in mine, I could show you my stack of papers that need to be addressed.
Sam Bennett: For sure.
Amy Ahlers: Right, exactly. Right. Totally. Yeah, and I think that, like Sam was saying, the science of mirror neurons is real. When we look at-
Darla LeDoux: Say more about that.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, so when we look at each other in the eyes, there is literally a transference that happens in our brains. I love doing this with babies. If you pick up a baby, and you look them in the eyes, and you begin to smile, they start smiling back. Part of that is because of that mirror neuron. Unless they have a big poop in their diaper, or whatever’s going on with them.
But there’s the brain science around connectivity. I’ll tell you this one little study that I just find so incredibly fascinating. This is from the National Geographic on stress. There’s a wonderful documentary on stress. One of the things in this documentary is they studied the effects on repetitive stress on the brain.
They decided, “Well, what group of people can we really study deeply about repetitive, daily stress on the brain?” They thought, “You know what? Let’s do a group of moms with special needs children.” Because they knew they were chronically stressed every single day. These were moms that had special needs children that had very intense special needs.
What they found, when the put all the fancy monitoring on them, was that the stress that was happening every single day was literally killing off brain cells in their brain. But then here’s the thing that’s so magical, is that they then put these women in a group together. Into a support group. They found that being in this circle of support, with other women that were going through what they were also going through, their brain cells started regenerating.
That’s the power of coming together with like-minded people. With people that you can relate to, and saying, “We’re dropping the masks. We’re telling the truth about how challenging it is right now to be alive on this planet.” Which it is, really, especially right now here in the U.S., it’s really, really challenging.
We can come together and literally regenerate our brain cells. How amazing is that? The brain science behind this backs it up. This is not just kumbaya. It’s really based in what we as human beings need in order to feel loved, and fulfilled, and connected, and regenerate our brains.
Darla LeDoux: I’m thinking back to what, Sam, you said earlier around saying something and people have tears, because they feel seen. Often, we aren’t seen in the environments we grew up in, and then we have a pattern of not being seen, because it’s just a pattern at that point. Right? In the friends we choose, or in my case, the people we choose to marry in the past, or things like that, right?
I remember, when I first started going to business masterminds, and things like that, I remember the first time I didn’t cry in a hot seat, because it stood out, because every time just being heard, and seen, and people not looking at me like I was crazy, was like, “Oh, my gosh! You get it.”
Amy Ahlers: Yeah.
Sam Bennett: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about, this is the Transform the Leader Series. Each of you have done your own retreats, so I want to hear from each of you a little bit. What I believe, and what I want to really highlight with this series, is that as the leader, we’re not separate from … and I know I’m preaching to the choir here, because your retreat has got the word “Perfect” in the title. You’re not expected to, or it’s not even interesting for you to be perfect, as the leader.
That said, there’s a level of space that you’re holding, and there’s a level of responsibility, by saying that “I’m creating this space,” like Amy said, of cuing safety for you, as the leader. In order to do that, we have to hold a certain space. We have to hold ourselves to grow.
A lot of times, what I find is people are either waiting to do a retreat at all, because they’re not perfect yet. Or they might be doing the safe thing. I don’t know if any of you have done that. Right? I know I had 182 PowerPoint slides at my first retreat, which made me feel safe. I had a little binder, and all the things to make me feel safe.
They’re really wanting to go there and create this transformation, but it’s like, “Well, I’m not perfect yet, so how can I do that?” I have found every time I lead, I grow. Often, that looks like every time I create a vision for something, like my shit in that area falls apart.
Sam Bennett: Oh, yeah.
Darla LeDoux: I’m curious, what’s been your experience with that? Who wants to start? Sam, you want to start?
Sam Bennett: Sure. One of the things that I have absolutely learned the hard way, several times over, is like everybody, I want to be loved and approved of. I want everybody to notice that I’m smart, and that I’m capable, and that it’s a really good value to be at this retreat. Right? Like, “Yay! You’re going to feel super great about the fact that you invested this time and this money with me.”
What I have learned, the last couple of retreats I’ve done have gotten such great testimonials that I almost can’t use them, because they seem unrealistic. I believe, and this just kills my ego to admit this, but I believe that the secret, the reason they’ve gone from “great” to “incredibly great,” is I now give people four or five hours in the middle of unstructured time.
We’re doing it in Belize, right? It’s BarefoodPerfect.Com, and on one of the days, we are going to a deserted island. We’ll have lunch, and there will be a little exercise, and stuff. But part of the job is like, “Now go away. Go be.”
Darla LeDoux: “I love you. Now go away.”
Sam Bennett: “I love you. Now go away. Who are you on a desert island? Who are you when you don’t have a zillion sticky fingerprints all over you? Who are you when the phone’s not ringing? Who are you?” I think there’s a message, especially for women, that says we are really only useful when we are sacrificing and working on behalf of someone else. Right? So who am I?
As a teacher, as a leader, and as an ego-driven person, I’m like, “No. I want to stand there in front of them every possible second, and cram every bit of information I possibly can inside of their little brains.” But the fact of the matter is, that doesn’t actually help anybody. That’s a big beat-off for me, showing off about how much I know, right? It doesn’t actually help them.
This is why we see this in retreats sometimes, where people come for three days, and then they get home on Monday morning, with a giant stack of notes, and go, “Well, now what?” Because they’ve had no time to integrate. They’ve had no time to process. We’re throwing grass seeds on concrete here, and then watering it with a fire hose. It’s like, “No, let it settle. Let it settle.”
Darla LeDoux: Sam, I’m curious, is there a time you can remember where you first took the risk to do less?
Sam Bennett: I can remember noticing it every time I was teaching, that there got to a point where they were like, you can see it in their faces, they’re like, “Okay. Okay. Okay, stop.” I’m still up there going, “No, wait. One more thing.” I had to hit that brick wall a couple of times. In post-mortems with my team, and stuff, we would say, over and over again, like, “Sam, you have to stop. I know you want to tell them everything, but they can’t hear it. You’re not helping.”
I had to smack my own hand away from it for a while. The first time I really did it was just a couple of retreats ago. And we just said, like, “Let’s put retreat. The thing is called retreat. Let’s put a retreat in there. So they actually have time to retreat.”
Also, as a super shy person, and an introvert, it was so much better for me to have four hours in the middle of the thing, to not be with other people, and again, allow things to process. Allow myself to tune in. Then, when I bring them back on Saturday evening, it’s just for an hour of spiritual prayer time. So we get very, very quiet.
Darla LeDoux: I want to ask a follow-up about that, because I know you had Church with Sam.
Sam Bennett: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: And bringing spirituality in to your work, I’m just going to say my interpretation. Tell me if this is accurate. Was little scary, and a little like, “Oh, what? Really? Can I talk about this?”
Sam Bennett: Absolutely. Yes. We call it Church of Sam. We also call it Sam Unscripted, or Spiritual Improvisation. It’s really me praying in public. There’s always been a deep spiritual underpinning to my work. I don’t think I ever made any secret of that. But I certainly did not lead with that. It was always the background of what was happening.
The decision I made to start to bring that more and more present, and now it’s a big part of a lot of my programs, where there’s designated prayer time. My commitment in those times is that I try not to say anything I’ve ever said before. No teaching stories, none of the greatest hits. I try to just say what’s real in the moment, and I try to only say things that I know to be true.
If someone is saying, “Oh, I’m ill, or my daughter, or my sister, or my finances,” or whatever, I’m not going to say, “Well, we pray for healing.” Because I don’t know that that’s what’s best. I don’t know that that’s what’s happening. How would I know? So we pray for even, “Well, what’s being learned here?” I just get pictures. I don’t know.
There’s a lot of laughing. It’s not very serious, or solemn, or anything. Sometimes it is, but mostly not.
Darla LeDoux: Would you call it “channeling?”
Sam Bennett: A friend of mine called it channeling, and I’m like, “Nice girls from Chicago don’t say ‘channeling’. Say I’m very intuitive.” But it’s like improvised poetry, prayer, just being with each other. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very cool, and I like having something, again, that’s unmediated. That will never be replicated. This moment, with these people, in this period of time is never going to happen again.
But yeah, oh, it fucking terrified me. Absolutely. It was far and away the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my business, I think.
Darla LeDoux: Well, and live retreats are a great place for that, or events. When you have the energy of the group to help connect you. I love that you said that, like, this time and place, for these people, and it may not be repeatable, or replicable, or anything. What’s the power of that?
Sam Bennett: Well, this moment, right? This present moment is the only place where the power is, right? The past is just big movie that we run inside of our minds. The future is just a big movie that we’re running inside of our minds. Most of what we’re telling ourselves about the present is just a big movie that we’re running inside of our minds.
So to really get quiet, and present to the present. To find the center of you in the center of yourself, in the center of your life, and really feel the interconnectedness of all things, and feel that deep relaxation that comes. When you really allow yourself to be aware of the presence of the divine, I don’t think the divine is ever absent from us, we just get distracted, right? We’re the hands and feet of the divine, right? When we really get present to that, it’s very relaxing. It’s very calming.
When you are relaxed, it’s easy to learn, and it’s easy to change. It’s easy to get great ideas, and it’s easy to laugh at yourself, and implement, and really understand that nothing is really that big of a deal. We’re all going to die. It’s okay. It’s fine. It’s not that big a deal.
It gets us, also, out of the “mental, mental, mental, logic, logic, logic, strategy, strategy, strategy, chatter, chatter, chatter, chatter,” and really into the only reality that there actually is.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. So often we’re taught, right? I was interviewing someone earlier about, if you get some new idea, or something comes through, now I have to make that my brand. Right? Or I have to change my program. It has to be about this, rather than just allowing what comes through in the moment to be the perfect thing at the moment.
Sam Bennett: Yeah, no, it’s just a string of pearls. Like, the pearls can be different, it’s the string that’s the same.
Darla LeDoux: I love that. Amy, how about you? Have you had a moment, or a time, or a stage where you have a group of people that are coming, or that you’re hoping are coming, sometimes it happens in the filling process, where it’s really challenged you to grow in new ways?
Amy Ahlers: I’m thinking back to many, many years ago, when I was still living in Los Angeles, and we were doing a retreat up in the San Francisco Bay area. I remember very distinctly the day of the big event coming, and looking out and realizing that there was four people in the room, and three were related to me. My mom, and my dad, and my sister. Right?
Darla LeDoux: Wow!
Amy Ahlers: Yeah. And A, it was very humbling. Very, very, very humbling experience. Partially because I know a lot of people would kill to have their mom and their dad and their sister come and support them, which is just so amazing. And it was also like, “Wow. I thought that I would be able to get more people in this room than this. Now what am I going to do?”
All of those things. I think for many of us, being able to get our egos out of the way around the numbers, and I learned this over, and over, and over, and over again, and just saying “I’m going to serve who shows up. I’m going to give the best damn retreat for my mom, my dad, and my sister, and that one other guy, and do everything that I can to show up and be present, and really knock their socks off, and give them an incredible, transformative experience.”
I think that that’s a huge part of being in this industry, whether you’re in personal development, or business growth, or whatever field you’re in, if you are going to lead retreats, understanding that it’s about serving who shows up in the room. And understanding the perfection of that, and getting you and your ego out of the room, feeling ashamed or embarrassed, when you don’t hit the numbers you want to hit.
Because most people don’t. I think the marketplace is getting more crowded. I think that there’s big promises, that people have bought into these retreats, and they’ve gone, and then people haven’t delivered, so they’re once bitten, twice shy. All of that stuff is going on in the marketplace now, and so really getting clear on who it is that you want to serve, how it is that you want to serve them, and being unattached.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. And that’s easier said than done, right?
Amy Ahlers: So much easier said than done.
Darla LeDoux: I share this story sometimes, because I had one person at a retreat, and I can backtrack it to, it was actually when we were moving to Seattle, and we thought, we’d never been there, we thought, “Oh, we should go.” I hosted a retreat there. I had one person register. So it’s my wife, Kimmi, and I, who you know, and this one attendee.
We turned it into a little, fun, VIP experience. I always believe it’s the right people, and everything is going perfectly. I also was like, “Why do you have to make everything into a retreat? Just go house hunting.” That was another learning.
We had this one person. She’s an amazing human being, and we made a little VIP experience. Kimmi’s a photographer, so she did a photo shoot, and we did a VIP day. It was delightful. What happened is, we’re in the VIP day, and I’m helping her with her messaging, and she works with mothers of children who are dyslexic.
I’m helping her, like, “What are the things that they’re experiencing? What are they saying to themselves?” Right? Getting the messaging out on the flip chart. Kimmi’s in the room, and she’s an adult in the room, and she’s like, “I heard my mom say all of these things.” She’s like, “I think I’m dyslexic.”
She actually was able to work with this person, and get diagnosed, and totally changed her life to learn the source of her struggles in school.
Amy Ahlers: Wow.
Darla LeDoux: Had we had a big group of 12 or 15, like we would typically, that person would have never likely shared all of that, right? It was transformational for us. You can’t plan that.
Amy Ahlers: Nope, sure can’t.
Sam Bennett: That’s amazing.
Amy Ahlers: That’s amazing.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Amy Ahlers: I mean, that’s just it. It’s like do the best work that you possibly can do, whether it’s one person, or 1,000 people, or 10,000 people in the room, showing up with that level of presence, with that level of dedication to whomever’s there. And trusting that only good will come from that.
Darla LeDoux: Yes. Yeah.
Sam Bennett: Amy and I met as actors. We were both members of the same theater company in Los Angeles. I think, a lifetime in the theater, I think, prepares you beautifully for entrepreneurship. One of the ways it does that is this relationship between goal-setting and surrender, right?
Because on the one hand, you set your numbers for your retreat, “We’ve got to have this many people in there. We’ve got to have this kind of revenue. We’ve got to have these dates. We’ve got to give the deposit by … ” There’s all this stuff that has to happen, and you have to be relentless in the pursuit of that goal. You have to never say die, I don’t care how many people say no, you keep making calls until you get that thing filled, end of story. Opening night is Friday, you will open the show on Friday. There is no not opening the show.
And you have to stay totally relaxed, and present, and open to whatever is happening. And understand that projects have their own time, and people have their own things, and there’s wheels spinning that you don’t know anything about. Sometimes there’s larger purposes, or life stories unfolding that you are just a background player in.
Both of these things are true at the same time. You have to be relentless, and you have to be completely surrendered, and … I forget, Darla. You and I had a conversation one time, when I was having trouble filling a room. I was really up in my head about it, and giving myself a really hard time about like, “I really thought I was going to get these people, and they were almost there, and now they’re not. I don’t know what to do.”
You were like, so casual, you were like, “I just figure whoever’s there is the right person who’s there. It’s fine.” I was like, “Oh, it could just be fine. Oh, I like that. Let’s just write that down. It’s fine.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, I think that’s the art of entrepreneurship, on the whole. Right? Filling retreats, or programs, or whatever it is you’re launching. Even if you have products. Is being fiercely committed to what matters to you, without holding it too tightly.
When it comes to retreats, that can be tricky, because there’s money on the line. Whether it is, “I didn’t make my profit goal,” or “I’m out X dollars.” The most I’ve lost is $50,000, so I’m just going to put that out there. Right?
Sam Bennett: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Okay.
Amy Ahlers: That’s a lot of money.
Darla LeDoux: I wrote an article once about it. Well, I didn’t really lose it. I didn’t lose it. I know exactly where it went.
Sam Bennett: Well, the great thing about being an entrepreneur is, we’re on little jet skis, right? We can pivot. Okay, it looks like I’m losing $50,000 on this retreat, but first of all, I easily learned $500,000 worth of learning. The tuition alone, talk about MBA, like wow, did I learn a ton. And now I have all these assets that I can turn into something else. Now I have these relationships that I can turn into something else. Now I have this experience that I can be teaching out of, and talking about. I’ve invested in my own ability to be a better teacher.
Darla LeDoux: Exactly.
Sam Bennett: Nothing is ever wasted. Nothing is ever wasted.
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When we think about partnering on retreat, and I’m going to start with Amy, because I know you’ve done this a few times. Talk a little bit about the choice to partner, and what’s amazing about it, and then what are some challenges you’ve experienced?
Amy Ahlers: The biggest reason, specifically I’m thinking of with retreats that I’ve partnered with people, is because they were my super good friend, and I want to go someplace fun with them. That’s the bottom line. Sam and I are like, “Let’s do something together. Ooh, let’s go to Belize. That sounds fun!” It was like, “Okay.”
There’s the joy of coming together with women that I adore, and I treasure, and I want time with them. Time outside of time with them. Time away from my husband and children, where I get to play. That’s why doing destination retreats and partnerships has been such a joy for me. I’ve done it many times with just really good friends of mine. There’s that joy, and that sense of play. That’s a huge reason for me, and a huge plus a million, in the category for “Why bother doing that?” That’s really fun.
Then, of course, it’s fun to also co-market together, to run calls together, to design the sales pitch together. All of those things. It’s really fun to have that be a collaborative effort, and to be able to mine those women, or women and men, depending on the retreat, that you want to have in the room, and being able to pull from a bigger audience in order to fill it.
Darla LeDoux: Can you talk about how it’s different, or more fun, to do that with someone than alone? I mean, and that might seem obvious, but in your experience. And also, how you’re designed, in your gifting, in your business. Why is that so fun for you?
Amy Ahlers: Well, Sam’s a shy introvert. I’m like a “Let’s dance on the table till three in the morning” extrovert. As Sam calls me, “I’m a 1,000 watt bulb in a 100 watt world.” For me, fun is one of my top values. Right alongside truth-
Darla LeDoux: Why have we never danced on a table?
Amy Ahlers: I don’t know! But we should. Hello!
Darla LeDoux: Yes.
Amy Ahlers: For me, it’s so much fun to be able to get in there. When Sam and I were writing the invitation sales page for Barefoot Perfect Belize, I mean, we were just sitting there laughing and having so much fun doing that together. Sam is one of the most brilliant copywriters you’ll ever meet in your entire life.
So I was like, “Oh, gold. Then that’s even more gold.” I’m like, “What? Where is this coming from? You’re amazing!” I mean, if you look at the FAQs on that website, you’ll want to steal all of them. I mean, she’s just so brilliant. That’s all Sam.
Darla LeDoux: I didn’t make it to the FAQs.
Amy Ahlers: Oh, you have to just check out the FAQs. One of them is like, “But what if I don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit?” That’s one of our FAQs. It’s real, people.
Darla LeDoux: That’s a great question!
Amy Ahlers: Hello! Right? Anyway, it’s so much fun. I love collaboration. I love brainstorming ideas together. I love hopping on preview calls together, and talking about the retreat. I love all of that stuff. For me, that’s really fun.
I think, also, having people that have different gifts, and being able to say, “I’ll take the lead on this particular thing, and you take the lead on this particular thing. Because we really complement each other in this way.” Yeah, that’s what I’d say about that.
Then, as far as…
Darla LeDoux: You’re definitely selling it, Amy, so-
Amy Ahlers: Exactly.
Darla LeDoux: … talk a little bit about the challenges.
Amy Ahlers: Yes, I will.
Darla LeDoux: Because there’s something in, even in, for people listening, the language that you’re using, right? “Doing preview calls,” and right? It’s like, you know what you’re doing.
Amy Ahlers: Right.
Darla LeDoux: If you’ve got someone who’s brand new in business, and they’re like, “Oh, I’d really love to take a vacation with my friend, to Belize, and maybe we should bring some people with us,” what’s the risk?
Amy Ahlers: The biggest thing that I will say is that you must, must, you must, did I say you must? Have a very clear partnership agreement before you start working on the retreat together. This is the mistake I’ve made so many times, especially because I partner with friends of mine. We think, “Oh, whatever.” It’s really important to have a very clear agreement laid out with that person.
Because, for example, let’s say that you are marketing something, and you decide, “Oh, we’re just going to split the profit 50/50.” Then one partner brings in 90%, or 100% of all the retreat participants. How’s that going to feel? Where’s the clause of your agreement about that?
Or let’s say you both agree that you’re going to market, and you don’t get specific on what that means. For one person, that means putting up a post on Facebook once. That’s their version of marketing. And for you, it means 10 solo blasts just about the retreat, and 50 posts on social media about the retreat, and personal reach-out, and calling all your friends, and calling a travel agent that you know can put an ad in the magazine. Right?
You have to get really specific, and I mean granular, and I have an incredible partnership agreement template that Sam and I used for this particular one, that’s all about how, it’s actually very spiritual. The first line is something like, “We are coming together in a union of love, to bring good things into the world.” Then it’s like Section 4.3 is “How many e-mails we’ve actually agreed upon that we’re going to send?”
It’s so important to have that clear agreement, and it’s bitten me in the ass when I haven’t had those clear agreements. Then someone feels disappointed, or someone feels taken advantage of, or someone feels like the other person didn’t show up, or worse yet, you end up where the friendship gets really burned, and churned, and hurt from it.
Darla LeDoux: You’ve experienced this?
Amy Ahlers: I have. I wouldn’t say specifically on just partnering on a retreat. That’s the other thing that I’ll say, date before you get married. Doing something like a retreat can be a nice way of seeing how we work together. I would say that’s actually even going steady. I would say a nice date is, “Well, why don’t we try just doing a Facebook Live together?” Or “Why don’t we try doing something in our hometown, and gathering some people for a free evening over at my house?” And seeing how that goes, because you’ll learn a lot about how people market, about how people are about, do they show up on time?
I mean, I had a partner at one point that, I mean, still to this day, it’s just impossible. She cannot be on time anywhere. It doesn’t matter how important it is. Right? There’s all of these different things. I think that it’s important to really date, going steady would probably be doing a retreat together, and then I’ve also been in business partnerships where I’ve co-owned a company with other women, and where things didn’t end so well, and friendships were ruined, and all of that stuff, too.
There’s a lot of downside, and then the other downside, I’ll just say, is that you make about 50% less money. So there’s also that, right? It’s like, if you take the profit, depending on what you’re agreement is, and you agree you’re splitting that profit 50/50, that means if it was a retreat where you were going to make $50,000 just on the retreat, suddenly you’re making $25,000. How does that feel to you?
There’s definitely downsides, and I just think clear agreements is the number one key. Because people will say, “Oh, that’s like getting a pre-nup, if you’re about to get married.” It’s like, “Yeah!” In a business partnership, you’re not saying “till death do you part,” you’re actually not even saying those words, and personally, in my marriage, I didn’t say those words to my husband. That was not what we agreed to, because I knew I could never agree to that. That feels false, to me, personally. Because, again, I’m a truth-teller.
Really being clear, like, what happens if, for example, Sam and I have in our agreement what happens if one of us wants to run Barefoot Perfect in another city, and the other one doesn’t want to do it. What happens to all of the material? What happens to the URL? Can that person do that? In our agreement, no, you can’t. You actually have to have the other person on board, or go do a different retreat. Right?
We think about all of those things in advance, and put it very clearly, in writing, in writing, in writing. Then people sign it, so it’s actually really, really clean and clear.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I’ve worked with so many clients who were in a partnership on a retreat, had no clear agreement, were part way through marketing it, suddenly realized that what they thought the retreat was, or the agreement was, was different than the other person. And now what? Right? Now what? “We’ve got two people registered, and it’s falling apart. Do we get the money back? How do … ” Yeah. That’s beautiful.
I love it! Sam, what made you decide to partner? Aside from Belize with Amy, or in addition to? Why was that feeling really like a right move for you?
Sam Bennett: Yeah, so, like I said, I had never partnered with anybody. I’ve always invited people in to come and teach with me, or to be co-leaders on certain things, or even sponsors, sometimes
Darla LeDoux: How is that different? Because people maybe haven’t done that. So talk a little bit about how that’s worked, and then how this is different.
Sam Bennett: Yeah, so a sponsorship, somebody would pay me for the opportunity to be in the room, and present their material. I’ve done that. That’s been great. Usually, this is something that I don’t think everybody does, but usually then, if I’m making an offer as well, I will bundle with their offer, so I’ll say, “If you sign up for my thing, you can also have Darla’s thing and Amy’s thing,” so they don’t feel like, “Oh, I can only buy one or the other,” but like, “Oh, no. If you go for the big package, you get everything.” Then I just pay the people, right? I’m always looking for the win-win-win-win-win-win-win. Right? What’s the thing that benefits everybody, where everybody feels like, “Oh, this is a great deal.”
Then I’ve also had, in fact, the way Barefoot Perfect came up, and I’ve got to plus-one Amy on the sales page, I am as proud of that sales page of anything I have ever written. Go to BarefootPerfect.Com, and just read the thing through. Take screenshots. You’re going to want to steal the copy. You are, and you should, because it’s very good. Okay. I’m modest, but not about that, because it’s a really good page.
I was running one of my retreats, and it was a small, like 25 people. There isn’t really a reason to have other teachers in, or have a big presentation from somebody else. But I do like having other people around. I had Amy come down, and that was just, I paid her airfare, and paid for her hotel, and I think I gave her, I don’t know, $1,000 or something, just to come and back my play. She taught a really great session, and then was around as another resource for the people, and it gave us a chance to hang out together, and have a good time.
It was at that where we realized, like, “Wow. We really do love teaching together.” There’s so much overlap and collaborative, so much juice in there between the two of us, because we do have, we’re very similar in a lot of ways, but we have some very compatible skills. We each do things that the other person doesn’t.
Yeah, and Amy just goes, “Well, I think we should do something fun.” I’m like,what?” It’s like, “No, fun. Remember fun?” I’m like, “Keep talking. I don’t really know.” I had never done a destination retreat. I had always been fascinated by Belize.
We looked at a bunch of different countries, at a bunch of different possibilities, and then really found the perfect place, where everybody gets their own private beachfront studio, with their own king-sized bed. It’s all-inclusive. We got them, they don’t really offer this, but we negotiated with them to have all the meals and drinks included, so it feels like it’s a really modestly-priced, considering everything you get.
Darla LeDoux: It’s not necessarily easy to do. I love that you said, “Everybody gets their own king-sized bed.”
Sam Bennett: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: That can be tricky, sometimes.
Sam Bennett: It absolutely can. The other thing that this came out of, too, was a real purpose around the retreat itself. It’s called Barefoot Perfect Belize, and it’s really designed for women who are looking at the next five, 10, 20, 30 years of their life, going, “Okay. Now what?” Right?
When I was 25, I knew what the script was, right? I knew you’re supposed to get a job, and get married, and have kids. Buy a house. Like all that. Whether I did it or didn’t do it, at least I knew what it was I wasn’t doing. You know?
But now, I’m 52, I’m like, “I don’t know what the next 20 years are supposed to look like.” I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like financially, professionally, sexually, spiritually … Physically, like, “What is happening here?”
There was definitely the fun and desire for partnership, but there was also real interest, as teachers, and as fellow-travelers, to say, “Well, let’s look at this question. What is really going on here? Who are we when we are away from all the trappings of our life, and what can we create from that space? What does the next?
Darla LeDoux: Wow. I love it.
Okay, I have to ask, because you mentioned it, “sexually” jumped out me when I read your page. This is the Transform the Leader Series, so as hosts who are going in with the question “What does this look like going forward?” And you’re opening this space for this conversation, what’s been coming up for you, if you feel to share, in the areas you’re holding space for? Has it been coming up in your own life to say, “Oh, let me look at this, so that I can teach what I’ve learned?” Because that happens for me. I don’t know.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Maybe it’s just me.
Amy Ahlers: Oh, no. Absolutely. I mean, when we said we want to do a retreat for women in midlife and beyond, and we know, we have friends, and husbands, and partners, and colleagues that are dropping like flies going into this massive midlife crisis mode. Us both really looking and saying, “Well, how can you transform a midlife crisis into a midlife awakening?” as it’s been said, “and what are we really waking up to?” As women at this time, in this place, with everything that’s going on in this country, with everything that’s going on internationally, in the world, where so much darkness has really been unearthed, especially here in the U.S.
It’s like really looking at that, and Sam and I are having the questions. I think that there is a teaching element to this, but there’s also the permission slip for each of the women in the room to just have the space to talk about these things. Because Sam and I, as friends, as both women. I’m 45. We’re both in that midlife space. My husband’s turning 50 in just a few weeks here.
We’re in this space of looking at it for ourselves, and we are having these conversations, just the two of us, as girlfriends. We’re having this conversation over a bottle of wine or two, when we’re together in Los Angeles, right? For Sam’s last retreat, like, really going, “Well, what does this mean? And what about menopause? What does that mean, and what is that going to do to my body? What is this going to do?”
And really just being in the question. Being in the inquiry together, and having community, and being able to look someone else in the eyes and say, “I feel you. I get it. That’s scary,” or “That’s hard,” or “That’s amazing,” or “That’s wild.” Or “That’s racy,” or “That’s, yeah, what if you did do that?”
This space of just real permission, and I think that for both of us, we’ve really been exploring that in our friendship, having been friends for 23 years. And also, in our work as entrepreneurs, as authors, as all of those things. It’s totally, like all of those inquiries are coming up so big, so we’re just bringing them to the circle to look at.
Sam Bennett: We do talk about, and we actually reached out a little bit to some people we know who also teach in the adult sexuality training area, because I don’t think either Amy or I feel particularly qualified to teach around that. It feels like there’s a lot of dangerous territory. Like, it would be very easy to slide off the mountain entirely with that.
As it happened, the right person wasn’t really available for that. I have to say, I’m kind of relieved. Because I think it does stir up our most primal stuff. I think it’s going to get where people are going to be plenty stirred up already.
But definitely, acknowledging it as part of the conversation, and saying, like, “Is anyone having sex anymore? Is anyone? I love my person, and everything, but like, I wouldn’t mind getting laid eventually? Is that going to happen? Is that off the table now? What’s going on?”
How do couples negotiate this, and how to people who aren’t in couples negotiate this? Just acknowledging that I don’t get looked at or talked to the way that I did 20 years ago. You know? The whole way of being in the world feels different to me now. Not radically different. But a little different. Different enough that I want to do a retreat about it.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Well, and I’m thinking, like Amy said, it’s asking the question. I love that this is coming up, because I don’t think, personally, that we have to be an expert on the topic, but we have to be an expert on the space-holding. Right? The keeping it safe, the keeping it real, the firm container, and all of that.
When we start to ask the question, for me, every time I start to ask a question, even just in my mind, right? Like, “Oh, wouldn’t this be fun?” It just starts coming up.
Sam Bennett: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Everywhere I look, like, there it is. Have you guys had that?
Sam Bennett: Oh, that’s what the brain does. That’s the thing the brain is best at, is finding what it’s looking for. It’s finding answers to questions, right? You put a nickel in there, you’re going to get a gumball almost every time.
Darla LeDoux: Wow.
Amy Ahlers: The reticular activation system is real, man. It’s really fascinating, and I think that looking, and talking, and asking those question with friends, and friends that are in long-term marriages they way that Sam and I are. The way that you’ve been now, with Kimmi. How long have you and Kimmi been together?
Darla LeDoux: We’ve been together seven years.
Amy Ahlers: Seven years. Okay. Okay. So there you are. Seven years. You and Luke, Sam? How long now?
Sam Bennett: We’re at seven-and-a-half years.
Amy Ahlers: That’s what I thought. Okay, seven years-
Sam Bennett: Yeah.
Amy Ahlers: I mean, I’m holding long haul, ladies. I’ve been with my husband for 20 years.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing.
Sam Bennett: But I got you beat, though, Amy. Because my first marriage was like 15 years. My second marriage was like 10.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah.
Sam Bennett: So really, I’ve been married for 27 years. Just not to the same person.
Amy Ahlers: It’s true. It’s true. It’s so true that it’s so funny.
Sam Bennett: I love all my husbands.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, and I mean, I’ve been with the one guy, and the many versions of him, right? For 20 years. It’s so interesting. It’s like, “Well, what … ” And really going into that space of “Well, what do we really want to create now?” With who we are now, with how the world is now, with what my body’s doing now, with what my sex drive’s doing now, with what my … All of these things.
With where my career is at. I mean, the women that are coming to this retreat, they’re leaders in their communities. They’re amazing. They’re doing incredible things in the world. And yet, there’s still that thing, that desire, that ache for what’s next, and how they can really make the biggest contribution that they came here to make, to really fulfill on that promise that they came here to do.
We’re going to help them dig in and find that. Not because we have the answers, but because they have the answers. That’s the things that, well, let me just say this one thing, sorry Sam. But that’s the thing that, like you said, Darla, like you don’t have to be the expert on everything when you’re the retreat leader.
This is why I love coaching. I’ve been coaching now for 20 years. It’s like the thing I love the most about it, is you don’t have to be an expert. All that I’m doing is asking that person sitting across from me, or on the phone, or whatever, what do they know? What’s their truth? That’s what we are always trying to bring out of the people that we’re working with, whether one-on-one, in small groups, at retreats. It’s helping them get to what’s true for them. It’s so important.
Darla LeDoux: Beautiful. I have two short questions. Do you ladies have time?
Amy Ahlers: Yeah.
Sam Bennett: Of course.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, yeah.
Darla LeDoux: All right. My first question is, what advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of partnering, specifically what should they find out about their partner before they say yes?
Sam Bennett: That’s such a good question.
Amy Ahlers: Well, I’ll say that I think there’s values alignment, of really looking at what’s the intention, and what’s the way that you want to walk through this experience of leading this retreat, of marketing this retreat, of calling the people in for this retreat? Really making sure there’s an alignment there around their values, and around …
When I say “values,” it’s like “fun.” Sam and I share that value. We’re like, “If it’s not going to be fun, then we’re not going to do it.” We were really clear, we’re not going to go and do a yoga center, because that, to us, does not feel like fun. We want to be on like a-
Sam Bennett: I don’t like yoga! Don’t tell anyone. I don’t like yoga!
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, we’re not yoga people. If some of the women are yoga people, they can go to the beach, and set up their mat, and do their yoga. But we were like, as we were looking at places, there were a lot of places in the world that we were looking at, and a lot of them have these yoga retreat centers. We were both like, “That’s not our value.”
We don’t want to feel like we’re in some sort of monastery where everyone needs to be a little bit quiet as they walk through the halls, and do something that feels that way. We wanted it to feel like luxury. We wanted there to be cocktails and wine if people want to have a cocktail, great. If they don’t, they can have a mocktail. Great.
But it’s like, we wanted to be able to have that free, that free, juicy, racy, luxury feeling. We were really aligned in that, in our values.
Sam Bennett: But we didn’t start out, not automatically, though. This is a really good exercise. Darla, you were talking about like, when you ask the question, and all of a sudden the answer starts showing up? The way my brain works is I get a question, and all of a sudden I’m like, “What’s the worksheet on that? Someone give me the worksheet for that.
Darla LeDoux: I saw your eyes go up, too, you’re like pulling it down.
Sam Bennett: That’s exactly what happens. I’m like, I get it immediately. Amy, on one of our initial planning calls, I had a list of all the considerations that I could think of, and I just said, “Okay, on a scale of one to ten, how important is it to you that it be an eco-friendly resort? On a scale of one to ten, how important is it to you that it has less than 100 rooms? On a scale of one to ten, how important is it to you that there be vegetarian options? On a scale of one to ten, how … that it’s less than a six-hour flight?”
Darla LeDoux: I’m like, “All right. I need your agreement. I need your worksheet.” That’s awesome.
Sam Bennett: Well, and it was such a great … It’s just like, I mean, it took us 10 minutes. It was just such a quick little gut-check of like, “Oh, actually, I don’t care if it’s more than a six-hour plane ride. That’s not really that big of a deal to me.” I’m like, “Oh, it actually is a big deal for me, because I really hate long flights.” “Oh, the eco-tourism thing isn’t that big of a deal.” “Oh, actually, it kind of is.”
It was great to see where we were aligned. There were a couple of things that were both very important to both of us, and then to be able to turn around to the travel agent that we ended up partnering with, and saying, “These are the three most important things, if we can also have these other four things that would be super-primo.”
Darla LeDoux: And they were like, “Oh, I love how thorough you are.”
Sam Bennett: Yes, so we ended up getting all of them. But you’ve got to be able to have those conversations, and again, like Amy says, we’ve been friends forever, and our businesses have grown up together. It’s like having kids the same age.
Amy Ahlers: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally.
Darla LeDoux: I’m picturing you guys in your early 20s meeting, though, right? So cool.
Amy Ahlers: Oh, yeah.
Sam Bennett: We were so adorable. And there was a lot of dancing on tables.
But to be in partnership with somebody who can, we’re not afraid to give each other notes. We’re not afraid to say, “I am in the pissiest possible mood right now, so let’s just make this quick.” Or “Let’s just not talk about this at all right now, because I really have to get off my chest what’s happening for me personally.”
Or, we were going through one of the pages the other day, and Amy’s like, “This is the wrong size. That’s the wrong color.” I’m like, “Oh, is it? I didn’t notice.” But you need to be able to give each other notes, and say, “This is important. This isn’t. I have an expectation around this. I don’t.” Amy knows I’m an introvert. I will dance on the tables, but I do need recovery time afterwards.
Darla LeDoux: I’m thinking that even as you were saying that, like this idea of Transforming the Leader, right? You guys are probably in a transformational process together. I’m guessing there’s a level of trusting the partner. That there’s someone who can hold space for you, right? If it’s not someone you’d trust to hold space for you in the right partner.
Sam Bennett: I’ve found that even with support staff, even with my room angels, and team leaders, and stuff, I need them to be able to hold space for me. I need them to be able to give me feedback. I need them to be able to take me by the hand and say, “Honey, have a juice. Sit down. Your blood sugar’s low.”
But the real thing, and this is very important, too, I think, is the relationship is more important than the retreat. If it ever got to a point where it started to look like our friendship was going to suffer, I would sacrifice this retreat in a heartbeat, and just turn around, and give everybody their money back, and take whatever financial hit we had to do, because I’m not willing to sacrifice this relationship on the altar of a business proposition. No matter how fun.
Amy Ahlers: Well, and I think that that thing, because we are such good friends, prevented us, actually, from partnering for a long time.
Sam Bennett: Oh, yeah.
Amy Ahlers: For many years, because I was like, “It’s too big of a risk! It’s too big of a risk! It’s too big of a risk!” Because I had gotten burned in a couple of partnerships, and I was like, “It’s too big of a risk. I just value you so much.” Then, I think, the a-ha was when I was in L.A. at Sam’s event, and I was like, “All right. This is just stupid that we haven’t done something together. This has got to come to an end.”
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. My last question is, you’ve talked about BarefootPerfect.Com, and the retreat coming up. What do you want people to know about that?
Sam Bennett: Like we said, you should definitely check out the page, and just see, and look at it strategically. Look at it as a retreat planner. Look at it as a marketer. Like, see how we call out the ideal client, and how we make it really clear this is for … We’ve had to do almost no sales on this, I mean, because the people that it’s right for, they look at it, and they’re like “Do you take American Express?” They’re in right away.
Sam Bennett: But you also notice that you cannot buy a ticket. You have to apply.
Darla LeDoux: I was just about to look. I’m like, “Do you have a buy now button on there?”
Sam Bennett: We do not. We have an apply now button. Because we really want to make sure that it’s the right match for someone. We don’t want, $7,500 is not enough to get you into this retreat. You know what I mean?
Darla LeDoux: How do you decide who talks to who, when someone applies?
Sam Bennett: We can usually tell if their either from my list, or from Amy’s list, and we have a lot of overlapping people, too.
Darla LeDoux: So whoever they’re more connected to?
Sam Bennett: Or not. I mean, there was one person where I was like, “You know what? She’s from my list, but I think she should talk to you.” I think she’ll get a different story from Amy. She knows what I’m going to say. Let’s let her talk to Amy.
There’s some people we just issued invitations to, like, “Yep, great. You’re in.” Other people, we were like, “We’d like to have you, but we’d like to have a conversation with you first.” And other people that were like, because there’s definitely a little option on the application that says, “I’m just dreaming. Thanks for the opportunity.”
Because, and this is the other thing I would say, is fill out the application. Because the action of answering the questions is so illuminating. It doesn’t take very much time. We’re not asking for your entire business history, or anything. Sometimes those applications get really deep, and that’s not it. I mean, this one’s deep, but it’s not long. What am I saying?
But go ahead and fill out the application. If you’re not interested in coming, that’s fine. Just check the “I’m just dreaming,” and we won’t bother you. But it’s worth looking at it, and again, look at it with a critical eye. Look at it and think to yourself, like, “Why is this appealing? Why do I like this?”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, it’s beautiful, because Amy, when you talked about values alignment, you said, leading the retreat, and you said, and in marketing the retreat. I think most people skip to the leading, right. Like, “Oh, you teach this. I teach this. We love each other. We’re both highly-conscious people,” which, by the way, means different things to different people. Right? “Obviously, it’s going to be great.”
But the marketing, too, that’s most of the work, right? The getting to lead the retreat is the reward for doing the marketing. I love that. Yeah, check out the marketing for your own learning.
Sam Bennett: Marketing is education. Right? Really, the action of the teaching of the retreat starts with the first bit of marketing, right? Really, the retreat has already started. The teaching has already started.
Darla LeDoux: Amy, anything you want to add, in closing, about Belize?
Amy Ahlers: Oh, just, if you are a woman who’s in midlife and beyond, and you want to come vision the next chapter of your life, come with us. It’s going to be a blast. You’re going to learn so much about yourself. You’re going to be around really high-level, interesting, smart, powerful women. So you can know that, that this is calling forth those type of women, and we’re curating the group, so that if we don’t personally know people, like Sam said, we’re doing a one-on-one conversation with them, to make sure they’re a fit.
It’s going to be, I always say my vision always, when I do retreats like this, is “There’s life before Belize, and there’s life after.” It’s that big of a breakthrough, transformative experience. I know that it will be, and Barefoot Perfect means, to me, it’s really like, “Oh, it’s the perfect place to walk barefoot. Like, be on that beach, walking barefoot.” Come join us.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. Thank you so much, ladies. I think this is going to be my world’s-longest episode, and I could keep asking you questions forever. Seriously, thank you for your generosity. It’s a glimpse into a process that most people don’t get, and you both have been in business for some time, and have that perspective to bring to that.
Sam Bennett: Please, God, learn from our hard-won experience. Please. Please don’t make the mistakes we’ve made!
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. If someone wants to follow you each on social, Sam, where’s the best place?
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. And Amy, how about you?
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. Thank you both. It’s so delightful to share space with you in this way, and the two of you together. I love it. Have an amazing rest of your day.
Sam Bennett: I love you, Darla. Bye, everybody.
Amy Ahlers: Bye.
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