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The truth of the matter that I’ve also learned in years of business is that being so honest with people it’s been very respected. That’s what I found is that being honest helps them respect you more and they go, “Wow! You are really here to tell me the truth and help me through this because now it’s just identifying the problem and finding a solution,” versus always being the person that’s like, “Oh, I’m just not going to say anything. Let’s just keep letting that slide.” And it leaves all this unfettered stuff on the table.

– Mary Dee

Darla LeDoux: Hello and welcome to this episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. I’m super excited to bring you today’s guest, Mary Dee. Hi Mary.

Mary Dee: Hey, Darla.

Darla LeDoux: Thank you for being here. I just want to let people know that you are the chief fun officer and love your life coach at Mad Love agency Mary. You’ve been helping entrepreneurs solve their biggest problems, and this is how we connected because when I heard what you do I was like, “Oh, let me tell you about my problems.” So we can talk about that. But she’s been helping entrepreneurs solve their biggest problems and overcome their greatest fears for nearly 20 years. From startup to scale up she’s helped companies grow from an idea to eight figures success through leadership and time tested frameworks.

Mary enjoys world travel, has a husband of 10 years, two furry babies, and will try anything twice. Her passions include fun, people, and adventure. Mary, welcome. I am so thrilled because I know you have such a unique perspective that you can offer our listeners having been inside many high level businesses that people would dream of having as well as being an entrepreneur for 20 years and supporting people in this way. So I know you have a perspective that not a lot of people have. So thank you so much for being willing to share with us.

Mary Dee: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Darla. I’m a huge of yours. You have an amazing heart and are just an amazing person in general. So I’m so excited to be here and that you’re inviting me to come talk to your community as well.

Darla LeDoux: Yes. So we met through a mutual friend and we sat next to each other at dinner. You help people really systematize and streamline their business, have amazing teams that can thrive and flourish from within. Can you talk a little bit about how you came to be doing this work, and then we’ll move into retreats. But I think it’s really valuable for people to get a sense of kind of where you’ve come from.

Mary Dee: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s a really great question. I’ve actually had that one a few times because people were always like, “How did you know that this was going to be the work that you do?” And to be quite honest, I didn’t know. This really happened for me. I am definitely a believer that the universe conspires for us, especially when we put our intentions out there. And I’ve definitely always been a team player, played sports in school, really enjoyed that, got to experience leadership at a young level, a young time in my life and then on up. One of the things that-

Darla LeDoux: What sports did you play?

Mary Dee: So I played volleyball, basketball, track and field, and softball.

Darla LeDoux: Wow! Awesome. I played volleyball and basketball.

Mary Dee: Oh, that’s awesome. Volleyball was probably my most favorite of all of those. I just was fortunate. I went to a small school that was actually very athletic. So we got to play both public and private schools. We were a small private school, but it was fun. Being a small school everyone has got to contribute. And so I really got to stretch myself by playing all of those sports, and fortunately playing with some eight players you get to learn to be one yourself. So that was really a great experience. I highly recommend it.

Darla LeDoux: Love it.

Mary Dee: But yeah, going back to the business side of things it was probably my also… I mean, I loved being around people. I’m energized by that and have some just natural management ability in addition to actually learning frameworks and principles by working with larger company that really instilled some really good foundations in me to understand what it takes to manage teams that are not sitting in the same office as you but at the same time managing teams that are in the same office as you.

And also just the whole human resource process. When we hire people and why we hire them, how we look at hiring, how we look at the dynamics of relationships and the dynamics of love languages and the dynamics of just getting along, and how all of that comes into play when we’re trying to do business. And so through that, through me actually seeking fun and also learning in this business environment that was a big part of it. So I feel like bringing fun into it was a big piece of it for me because it felt like a team, and that’s what I was used to. I thrive right from a very young age.

And so in business it’s finding those environments for me. So finding those really networking and collaborative environments where we’re all coming to the table with strengths. And so the one I tend to bring is I ask a lot of good questions, and so it’s just coming into the group and asking everyone lots of good questions that helps us get to answers. And seeing a person who’s pretty operations minded I have just a natural gravitation towards solutions and pretty good it just looking through my network and looking at the things that are available to me and saying, how do I become really resourceful so we can get to a solution. And so that’s really what brought me to business. It showed up for me and I grabbed it by the horns and just haven’t gotten off that ride.

Darla LeDoux: You mentioned bringing that fun to teams even when we’re working virtually. How did you get into this whether we want to call it the online space, the personal development space? How did you make that leap into this world?

Mary Dee: That’s a great question too. In the very beginning was actually through network marketing, believe it or not. I was very young, 18, sat through my first presentation. And you’re sitting typically around some high energy people. They’re out in life looking for something. And at 18 I was definitely looking for something. I just didn’t know quite what it was. I just also knew that… at the time I think I was working for a grocery store and I was a front end manager for this grocery store and I knew that that wasn’t going to be my life. This was just kind of me working my way through school, and I was like, “There’s more to life and I want to go out and find what that is.” And the people that invited me I had a lot of respect for because they traveled and because they were professionals and because they had a great network and they knew how to have fun.

So that was the easy part that brought me to the table and then I recognized, oh, there are people who don’t work in a brick and mortar office doing a thing. They actually have reach that goes well beyond that. And so this is also in the very, very early days before really digital marketing goddess kind of put its stamp in the universe. So as time progressed it sort of just became a natural way to do things. I ended up getting recruited by a company who they offered set solutions for people, and because I had worked by that time at a bank I had a lot of expertise from the consumer’s end on consumer law and consumer rights, especially around debt. So we could come and mastermind together.

And at the time if you told me that was mastermind I couldn’t have told you that that’s what it was. But looking back I’m like we were totally masterminding, and from that birthed this beautiful business that became the first real online business that I got to be part of. And we were online because that’s kind of again where things were headed and we had a course and that course we were selling, and how we were selling at the time where as we were selling through events. And so that again, it was just again the universe lining up for me saying, “We’d like you to also do events because this is how this can all be laid out.”

And I got my first taste of what events looked like, what selling from a stage looks like, and how that reach can ripple throughout the whole world. It doesn’t have to be designated to just one area or my local city. It can go everywhere. And then just through the stages of growth and technology over the years that fully translated into doing business in the full digital space where you are literally doing business with everyone in the world, and it’s sort of more normal than it was 20 years ago.

Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I’m thinking there weren’t likely an abundance of how to courses for how to…

Mary Dee: No.

Darla LeDoux: … looking at that time, right?

Mary Dee: That’s right. There were not. To find any kind of education online was a far reach. You might find a landing page that has sold you a CD course and that’s actually what we had in for. I’d say probably the good first 10 years of that journey that’s really how we sold. We sold all of our courses through a physical CD, and then once we caught up with technology it was like, “Oh, we could put this online and give people instant access.” And then that’s really where that translated. We actually literally took CDs and said, “Oh, we’re putting these online now,” and then after that it just becomes you don’t need CDs anymore. We just sell it online, give people a login and they can get started in a matter of minutes.

Darla LeDoux: That’s awesome. Yeah. My first telesummit and my first course, well, not my first telesummit, my second one really after I worked the kinks out, I made CDs and a little kit and a workbook and had it printed and all of that. I still have some in my drawer. We recently got some CDs and we’re like, “Wo we even have a CD player? I don’t know what to do.”

Mary Dee: Right? No, it’s so true.

Darla LeDoux: But it felt cool at the time to make it real.

Mary Dee: Yes, yes. And even podcasts, right? I mean, podcasts have certainly been around, but even now in the format of them and how they run people used just podcast, they just did it on a CD and then you had to buy their CD to get the information. And everything technology has just made it that much faster and that much easier. So it’s been really fun to also be part of watching that transition and growing along with that transition too.

Darla LeDoux: Yeah. And I’m imagining in network marketing at 18 you probably got together with people live for that too.

Mary Dee: Totally, totally. I mean, that’s the day you know of party plan where you went to a lot of people’s houses and they also have big conferences. So that taste of getting into a big conference and then also just the people that you naturally gravitate towards and then they start to become a little bit of your tribe. You start traveling together separately, you start meeting separately. These just become little networking groups. And also those were paid groups as well in some cases. And like I said, a little more of the norm today than it used to be. But it’s interesting to see how that evolution was literally happening at the time and how we actually have labels for them now in ways that we didn’t in the past.

Darla LeDoux: Amazing. So I really want to highlight for people that you were creating this course before courses were popular and even then you sold it through events. Can you talk a little bit about that choice to sell through events and how you’ve seen that kind of play out over the years in the different businesses you’ve been involved in since and why that’s so important?

Mary Dee: Absolutely. I am a huge, huge advocate of events, and one of the reasons why is because people really thrive in communities. And the first kind of easy example that most people can relate to is look at all of the different churches and religions that are out there in the world, right? And there literally is something for everyone. If you like a lot of rules and you like a lot of process you love that religious experience there are definitely religions out there and churches out there that operates under rules and a lot of very black and white realm. And then you have some that are not quite as black and white. You have others that are a lot more open and accepting and they’re very like everything’s about grace and love and it’s not as rigid. And so you have people that gravitate towards that type of community.

Really at the end of the day, when you look at a community similar to a church people come because they feel usually supported. They have typically found people that are like them, right? They’re like-minded with them in some way. And then on top of that, if they ideally need some sort of help or if they want to maybe teach a class or support a choir or a kid’s program, that’s a place as a community where they can do that. They’re probably also out maybe volunteering time to help others at a soup kitchen or something to that effect.

So all they’re doing is building a sense of community where people have something in common and also in a way probably come to get their love tank filled. So with business it’s not any different. The businesses that do the best do it through community I feel like, and this is a pattern I’ve certainly also seen in businesses that I’ve done business with and also been part of in the past because I’m like when you build a community people will literally stick around just for the community.

It’s also network marketing is another great example. You get these people who they just really build a tribe, right? And they may not make $5 off selling oils or whatever it is that they’re selling or a lotion but they love the community. They love that they’re learning and that there’s something that maybe has changed their life, they read a book, they got personal development through that company or through the people they met there and met people like them. So this is just about building a sense of community. And events can do that for you. They help bring your people into an actual room and then now you get to share community with them. And then they feel like, “Oh, I belong here.”

One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten is from one of the events we did back in October. A girl came and she was referred in from like two people removed from us. She didn’t know any of us personally, but she gets there and then afterwards she goes, “To be fair, when I first got here I was like, “I’m not sure if these people are my tribe. I’m not exactly sure about this.” And by the end of the weekend she’s like, “Oh, you guys are so my tribe. You’re so my people.” And that’s what it’s about. You want to create that connection.I’m a firm believer, Darla, that we are wired for connection. We are all unique puzzle pieces in this giant beautiful canvas, and it’s just finding those pieces that we need to interlock with to help build out this beautiful picture instead of trying to sit alone as our own puzzle piece thinking that, “Oh, I’m just going to stand out over here and kind of figure things out.” It’s like no, go find your puzzle pieces because they’re out there and you have a beautiful canvas to build with each other.

Darla LeDoux: That’s so beautiful. Go find your puzzle pieces. I want to ask a little bit, Mary, about… I think what I just love about your unique experience and perspective is the types of businesses you’ve been in. And to me it feels like a really unique role. And one of the things for me, sometimes if I’m talking with someone and they ask me what I do and they’re not really in this world so I don’t dive in to talking about transformation necessarily I’ll say, “I help people, service based businesses to market online and bring their clients to be together live in person in small events.” And you work within businesses that are primarily online and teams that are virtual, right? So they’re not coming into an office every day and seeing each other in person or their marketing online. And yet you consistently have this event piece and retreats, which we’ll talk about your retreat that you have coming up as well. It feels like this unique kind of thing that bring, and I know in your marketing you talk about… there’s something about, Mary, this unique thing that you bring that you find yourself in digital spaces with virtual teams but the thing you bring is community and connection. And just what have you noticed in playing that role over the years?

Mary Dee: Gosh, in playing this particular role for so long I’ve noticed that when all of us operate from a place of that, “I want to be connected. I just don’t always know how to be connected,” and that piece of it, the psychology of it was what was always very fascinating to me. So I love to see, even in what I do, I talk a lot about kind of this mind body connection and just the spirituality. There’s really just three things. And when they’re all aligned we can all really step into what makes us feel great in the work we’re doing, whatever that is.

That’s probably one of the biggest pieces, the fact that no one really seeks to be alone in what they’re doing. Everyone seeks some sense of that community and it’s just finding the right one. It’s just finding that right community that resonates with you, that makes you go, “Yeah, I want to do this thing in operations bigger and better because I love the people I’m doing it with.”

One of the biggest lessons for me has definitely been over the years, especially in those moments where I might be freelancing work or working on, okay, who am I bringing into work with over the next course of the next year or two and looking at that customer, this potential customer in front of me. It’s easy, especially in moments where maybe things weren’t stabilized to look at that situation and go, “Well, let me just take what shows up so I can get paid to do what I do best.”

But what I found is when you’re not in alignment with that person or that idea or that product it becomes very difficult because now it’s not a labor of love and I want to do this. It’s a labor of I have to do this. It’s a scarcity move versus an abundance move, which is I love this person, I’m in alignment with them. I want to see them win and I want to help them win. And when you do that you’re coming from a level of abundance and then you can really lean into the work that needs to get done.

And if everybody can come to the table in that same level of abundance and excitement then that’s where I believe the real magic happens versus that level of scarcity that’s like I said about the puzzle piece, “I’ll do this alone.” It’s just all kind of the fear talk and scarcity. It’s like the minute anything starts to show up like that it’s when I go, “Oh, there’s something there. Let’s dig a little deeper.”

If I don’t feel an alignment with someone and it’s how do I easily say no and move on and understand that I know that that’s going to be probably more trouble than it’s worth if I say yes. And that’s been a great lesson I think overall when I’m looking back on all of these things, on events, on businesses, on people. That’s probably one of my number one takeaways over all those years.

Darla LeDoux: That’s amazing. To me if I were to describe what you do I would say operations consultant, right?

Mary Dee: Sure.

Darla LeDoux: And yet you wouldn’t immediately think, “Okay, so she’s about abundance and love and mind, body, spirit connection and building community.” Those things seem so different, and I think that’s why I find you very fascinating, and I love what you’re up to. So when you come into a team so you come in to consult for a period of time to get their operations moving. I mean, to me, I think of this as like a transformational retreat that you’re doing with this team, whether it’s virtually or in person, right? You’re really helping people find their alignments, get into a spirit of abundance, and get in their right roles and choose if they’re aligned. Can you talk a little bit about that process?

Mary Dee: Perfect. Totally. Totally. Yes. It’s a really fun process. So, again, built for me fun and building relationships is right up my alley. It’s what I really thrive on. And I love getting to know people. So a big part of that is coming into an organization, and my first alignment is obviously with the owners. A lot of times that’s going to be the CEO. And when I work with them it’s really getting clear on their vision and their values. So many times I’ll walk in and they don’t really have a set of core values or they’re not Uber clear on their vision and their mission. And so it’s getting really, really clear on those things first because those things are the foundation and they’re the foundation of how really good businesses make decisions.

Just to give you an example of that, one of the companies that I work with, they have this core value of light bringer. And as a light bringer you’re always bringing everything to light whether it’s a problem that needs a solution, an issue that needs to get worked through, or it’s like a kudos for someone that might be behind the curtain and not being brought out to the light. So there’s all these really beautiful things around light bringer. And when we work through marketing or if we run across a question about an alignment with a customer whenever there’s a question that pops up that’s not overly obvious we go back to the core values, and anytime you can go back to your core values it becomes like a litmus test. It’s basically a yes or no. It’s like is it a pass/fail on each of these core values? And the minute we hit no we have to start diving deeper and then going, “Oh, well this is out of alignment.” And the answer becomes a lot more obvious.

So it really helps in that problem solving when you’re going back to core values. So I think that that’s one of the biggest ones. So that’s the first thing to establish. And for anyone that’s listening I would say that if you don’t have a set of core values for your business it’ll be an amazing thing to sit down and actually work those out because it really will help you make decisions, especially in those harder, stickier circumstances. And then having your own life core values. Like what are my personal core values? Are they kindness, kindness in everything. Is it love and everything? Is it always speaking to everyone like they are your most favorite person in the world? These are all little things that can be your own personal core values. So having those as well.

So that’s the first thing. And then it’s really building that sense of trust and community with the team. So I really feel like trust is such a great foundation also for creating open space for people to feel honest about sharing. So coming into a business, especially that has existing people, I want to be able to come in and go, “Hey, I’m here to advocate for you. If you feel like there’s something that’s not being said or heard,” because everyone at the end of the day does want to be seen and heard. And a lot of times by not opening that invitation we’re robbing our businesses of the obvious things that are happening around us because people may be scared to say, “Hey, this is actually not working right,” or, “Hey, this is a little broken.” They may have some fear around, “I don’t want to lose my job if I say anything.” They might not like me if I’m honest about this.

But the truth of the matter that I’ve also learned in years of business is that being so honest with people it’s been very respected. That’s what I found is that being honest helps them respect you more and they go, “Wow! You are really here to tell me the truth and help me through this because now it’s just identifying the problem and finding a solution,” versus always being the person that’s like, “Oh, I’m just not going to say anything. Let’s just keep letting that slide.” And it leaves all this unfettered stuff on the table. And so how do we create a community where we say it is okay to be honest, it’s okay to have some hard conversations. It’s okay to bring up these things that feel a little sticky because when we bring them to light, when we bring them out in the open now we can really dive in and work through a solution for our customer, for our business, for ourselves, for our relationships. And this is life.

So that’s another big piece of it. So it’s creating that gap, creating that safe space and then we dive in after that. Once that safe space is created then people just, woo, they start talking, they talk about everything that was good. They talk about everything that hasn’t been. They talk about what is right now, and then they start bringing solutions to the table. And often in organizations a lot of people that are there that already have the solution they just haven’t learned to communicate with each other and they haven’t learned to have that open space and that feel safe to do it.

And so that’s really what I’m offering. I’m offering to bring them into a safe space and continue on that path so they’re always in a safe space where they have a framework to always have these really good conversations with each other that don’t feel like personal attacks but rather they’re about the issue at hand, and then working through whatever those things are.

Darla LeDoux: So everything you’re saying to me is like the exact skills a solid strong retreat leader brings, creating that safe space, that understanding, everyone wants to be seen and heard, creating the value on the community that it’s fine getting to know people. And it works because it’s how humans are wired, and more and more, this is my belief, more and more in our culture we need that because things are getting faster and more digital and more disconnected. And so we’re seeking that in new and greater ways as well.

Mary Dee: Totally. You hit that spot on, Darla, spot on.

Darla LeDoux: Yeah. And so how is this affecting business? So from that first digital product you created that you sold through an event fast forward to today where I know a lot of your clients do events. I know you are doing retreats, and you’ve seen behind the scenes of a lot of things. So the conversation that people are tuning in for is really learning about options for business models that include retreats and kind of making those decisions, like what are my options for bringing this then in a very practical way. You talked about selling from the stage, having people… I have a lot of things that I talk about around this. What have you noticed about that I guess over the years? What are some options that you’ve seen or that you’ve used or your clients have used for integrating live experiences into the way they work?

Mary Dee: Oh, I love that question. I love it. I love it. I love it. There’s actually quite a few, and I’ll say that you’ve got kind of the obvious model, which is you can create a product that requires live delivery. So this would be maybe if you have a course already adding the live event component to it to help bring your tribe into the same room together to build that connectedness, to build that trust, to build that foundational I can see face to face now versus just… I mean, granted we do see each other face to face on Zoom sometimes, right? But this is face to face. I can feel the warmth of your body and the hug and really, really see that 3D smile on your face.

But it’s being in an actual room together for the energy of it because I think that with the right intention and energy when you bring people together in an actual room so much more magic can happen. And they already have a foundation, which is probably listening to your course or your online trainings or whatever. You have got that out in that digital realm. Now you’re bringing it into a room and then going through that framework again, why? To help people work through whatever they haven’t been able to work through through the course.

So that’s one way. You can create a customer delivery event where you’re really creating this intensive. So maybe I have a course that helps people with their messaging. Let’s just put that out there. I have a course that helps build their messaging. So they take the course let’s say six weeks and they’re like, “I still have a few questions. I still have a few holes here. I need a little more breakthrough in this.” Then you round it up with a live event. Then people can actually come get in a room together, hear what their peers are doing, hear what other people are doing, which also helps them get their creative juices rolling.

Plus you’re able to deliver it live while you’re at that live event. Of course, you can also create your model that allows you to talk about your other products, to possibly have any upsells into other products that you have that might be a mastermind, and then also create an opportunity to JV with other partners, so create a joint venture partnerships with people who have a vertical business to yours. Maybe you bring in an agency that helps people actually make beautiful websites or digitally put their stuff together better than it’s been done. Maybe that’s a great vendor to have at that event where they can also learn from them. Or maybe it’s someone that’s a social media expert that says, “Great, here’s things you can do with what you teach in your course and how you can put them out into the world on social media to help attract more of your tribe.” So that would be one version of it.

Darla LeDoux: I want to pull that in a little bit, because I know you mentioned that the retreat that you do you have a lot of partners that come and you share the revenue. So what you’re saying is you’ve got this course, you bring people into the room in community and they all have some things in common. And so you’re saying strategically, okay, they all have these things in common. Who do I know that has a product or a service or a program that they need that is the next step for them? And I take a cut of that versus me launching the next thing.

Mary Dee: Correct. That’s exactly right, Darla. That’s exactly right because again-

Darla LeDoux: Which is awesome. Some of our people really love the idea of bringing people together, but the idea of, we call it a high level program, that back end offering, feels heavy for some people. Some people just their personalities is like, “I don’t want to support people over time. I don’t want to work with someone for a whole year. I just want to bring them in and move them on.” But that’s a great way because you have to charge quite a bit to monetize your retreat on the front end if you’re just making money on ticket sales. You need a really high end experience, which is okay, that’s a possibility. But if you want to bring people together and make money on the back end and not have it be you delivering that, bringing in partners is a great way to do that.

Mary Dee: Correct. Yeah. And you have divide and conquer, right. We’re all in this together because there’s going to be something that’s my specialty. And then there’s something else that someone else’s specialty that a customer may need both things, right? But just because they came in the door through me because they wanted what I needed eventually I know they’re going to need this other thing. So let’s just first for ease just say operations and marketing. I know that my people running operations some point they may need better help in their marketing. And then the same for my partner who their business is all marketing, they’re going to have people who are like, “Yay, I can sell and market, but now we need to deliver. We need operations.”

So this is where we can come together and say, “Hey, for all of you people who’ve got your marketing down you probably want to start looking at operations as your next thing that you need to move into or that you need to purchase or this course,” and then vice versa. And so it creates this really beautiful ecosystem where we support each other. And this is where we know our groups interchangeably need each other. So finding those right partners that work together is super, super important. This works in the health industry, this works in products industry. It also obviously works in services industry. So it’s really quite universal, and I love that because then you don’t have to bear all of the burden.

I know a lot of times with retreats people are like, “Oh, my gosh, like I’m getting this and the cost of this is getting outrageous.” It’s like, well, if you haven’t been able to dive into sponsorships quite yet then look at who you can partner with and divide and conquer knowing that there’s some backend that can happen to you because you both have audiences that really need the same things. They just haven’t gotten there yet.

Darla LeDoux: Beautiful. And that feels like it’s really in alignment with your personal drive for community and connection.

Mary Dee: Totally. Totally. And I think it’s-

Darla LeDoux: And building those relationships.

Mary Dee: Yes. Yes. All the way. All the way, Darla. It just expands the network, expands the relationships and I’m always just happy and amazed and pleasantly surprised when… I’ll be across the world and someone will go, “Oh, hey, I’m here too. We’re in Thailand together at the same time.” It’s like I had no idea you were here. And then you get together and beautiful conversations happen and sometimes beautiful business is done as well.

Darla LeDoux: That’s awesome. Great. Okay. So you’re talking about a product that requires live delivery. Talking about bringing in JV partners. What else have you seen that’s worked or been fun in the realm of live events?

Mary Dee: The live events that I think, there’s been of some really, really fun ones, are a lot of times the ones that bring people together that I like to say strangers from the Internet. So the one that’s been probably most part of my life here recently that I’m most passionate about is through actually the breast cancer community. Now I had my own breast cancer journey less than two years ago. And it’s so funny that the time that passes and even just getting to a year was like, “Oh, wow! That was a year ago.” And now I’m like, “Wow! A year and a half ago and soon enough it’ll be two years ago.”

That breast cancer community, one of them things that I really love about that particular community is they’re coming together because they have an adversity. So the adversity here is obviously we all had some form of cancer and more specifically breast cancer, and then bringing these kinds of women together for a rest and reset retreat these I find are amazing. And rest and reset can be applied to anyone, obviously not just people going through breast cancer. I’m just using that because that’s the most frequent example and the one that’s coming up for me.

But bringing these people together who can feel isolated and alone while they’re going through this journey and then having them talk and connect and share their fears and understand that we all have kind of the same fears around what we’ve just been through, that it’s been a scary place, but it doesn’t have to stay that way, that life does go on, and that there are solutions for our children and our families and our community that we build through that.

At first, I really distanced myself from it to be quite honest because I felt so out of sorts with it, but when I really leaned in and embraced it and said, “I do need support with this and I don’t have to be ashamed of that because I’m sure there’s other people just like me,” and when I found that tribe of people, it made all the difference because then it’s, again, feeling supported, feeling good about how to move forward, understanding there’s more options than even the ones that my own doctor… When you bring a bunch of people together that have all been given three different kinds of choices from their doctor and they’re all so uniquely different all of a sudden you don’t have just three choices. You have 30 or you have 300, and so you’re more empowered.

And I feel like that is the same message even in business when we all from our different walks and we get together and we start having conversations we start realizing that our problems are not that different. There’s just lots of different ways to resolve them based on how we operate, what our model looks like. And this is where the real work can be done, the deep work to get to those solutions that we need whether you’re fighting something like breast cancer or whether you are just an entrepreneur trying to make things work in your business.

Darla LeDoux: I love that example and I love that you connected in with that community and have found another sense of family there. And you said bringing together strangers from the Internet and that example is so great because so often a lot of people feel like, “Well, I need to coach business owners on how to grow their business,” because that’s who’s used to getting together in person. It’s easier because we know people do things in events, on retreat, or in masterminds and we get together live. But an audience like breast cancer survivors it’s maybe not used to getting together live or going on retreat. What have you noticed about that, that audience and what it takes to bring together strangers from the Internet and maybe even why it’s worth it?

Mary Dee: I would say the reason why it’s worth it is because in finding people who have that same pain as you or the same shame as you or the same problem that you’re having, whatever it is, getting together with people like that, number one, they do give you that sense of I am not alone because the truth is none of us are alone. We just may be making the choice to be alone or we may be sitting in isolation and not realizing it and just not understanding or… It’s easy to sit in isolation and be like, “Oh, I’m going through this battle in my life with X, Y, Z, fear,” whether it’s something like challenging like breast cancer, and the more we do that the worse off we are because we’re left alone with our own thoughts.

When you sit in a room with a group of people who are going through the same thing then suddenly it goes, “Oh, I am not alone. Other people feel just like me. Other people can understand where I’m coming from,” and now we can also love and embrace on each other in a way that says, “Here’s what’s helped me through this, what I listened to, really positive music. I listened to positive podcasts. I watch a lot of comedy. I go to other support groups.” There’s resources available like free counseling and yoga classes for people who just have been through cancer or support people who have been through cancer.

And then you start to go, “Oh, my gosh, there’s lots of available to me,” whether it’s knowledge, activities, just a sense of knowing you have people like you. And I think that for events that piece of strangers from the Internet makes you go, “Oh, we don’t have to be strangers from the Internet. We’re really people who have something very much in common. We just haven’t figured out how to get together.” And the Internet makes that a beautiful place to go find those people and say, “Hey, raise your hand so you can be with some people who can really understand you,” because we all want to be understood. So how do I find people I can understand and how can I find people I can connect with? How can I find people who want to connect with me and who also want to understand me? We all get together and we make it happen. And that’s the beauty of events, of that live model of retreat.

I feel like all of them if they’re going to be successful have that element to them. They’re not just come, sit in isolation in your chair, have no interaction, learn, and leave the room. That’s never going to be fulfilling for anyone. It’s going to feel very harsh and very kind of militant versus the let’s get together and really talk through this commonality that we have so that we can dive deep with each other. And it’s creating that opportunity and that space to just go deeper with each other in business and in life and in an adversity that we might be going through.

Darla LeDoux: Yeah. One of the things I have to often talk clients out of all of their content they’re really married to delivering at the retreat because their ego says, “I have to have this content that sounds really smart and impressive. So then people think that I have an answer they don’t so then they feel like they got value,” yet the magic is in the sharing. And so often we over plan and don’t recognize the full magic of that. So just creating a space for people with the same pain or shame as you said is healing in itself before you have any content. I love it.

Mary Dee: Absolutely.

Darla LeDoux: One of the things you like to say is that every story is true. And I feel like this is really important when we think about bringing people together. What do you mean by that?

Mary Dee: Every story is true. One of the teachings I do is around fear. And I love to allow people to go through a process of actually writing their story. So if someone says to me, “I can’t close customers because I don’t like to hear no,” or, “I’m scared they’re going to tell me no. And then I don’t know what to charge because I don’t want them to say no to my pricing,” especially those types of questions. Or, “I can’t get out in the world and do what I need to do because I’m having anxiety about something. And that’s happened to me in the past. These are their stories, right? And so we all tell ourselves stories.

And I’m sure you’ve heard it, said, there’s three sides to every story. His side, her side, and the truth. And the thing is that all of those pieces are true to us. So our stories are true to us. It’s a great dip into psychology to say there’s some beautiful models and there’s beautiful musicians and actors in the world and it’s easy to sit in the crowd seat and judge that and go, “Oh, they have everything because they’ve got money and they’ve got fame.” But yet an epidemic is that some of these people are looking at themselves in there and they don’t love who they are and they feel very alone. And some of them have taken their own lives.

So it’s interesting to look at that scenario and go their story for them is true, and it may be that I am lonely because of my fame and fortune. As a spectator we’re judging that. Our story is, “They got everything because they have fame and fortune.” It’s whatever’s true to us and true in our own minds. But the biggest piece of that is how you decide to frame your story. If I’m scared of selling because I’m scared that people aren’t going to be open to my offer then a great reframe would be I have something very valuable to offer the world. I have something that everyone needs. I have something that can really transform and change people’s lives, and because I want to give so much value I know that I can come to the table and present that to people. Who am I to rob them of an experience that I know can be life changing for them?

So it’s just that reframe from this story of I can’t have, I don’t have, here are all my excuses to I can have, I’m able to have, I give a lot of value in the world and people need what I have. So it’s helping people shift their story so that the new story can be true, not the old story that doesn’t serve them.

Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Beautiful. And story exercises are so good for retreat sharing and getting reflection and hearing other people’s stories and other people have a story similar and we go, “Oh, yeah, I’m not alone.” Or they have a totally different story and we think, “Oh, wow! Well at least I don’t have that story.” And one of the things that often comes up and gets healed on retreat is shame. And you have an opinion about shame. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Mary Dee: Absolutely. Absolutely. Shame is one of those things where if you choose to give it power it certainly can hold you back. But I am a firm believer that by bringing that shame into the spotlight that you quiet that voice that sounds like judgment, that sounds like persecution. A great example I have is even from my own life, Darla. I came out of a lawsuit with the government and that was painful. At first, it felt very shameful. It felt like, “Oh, my gosh, like all eyes are on me. I’ve spent such a long time building a good reputation. This is going to make me look so bad. OMG, what is life going to look like after this?”

And I took a little time to think about that and then I thought about future forward as I continue to add value to a business, to add value to my friendships, to add value to my own life how do I take this situation that has happened and is certainly floating around in the world and make the best of it? And I thought to myself, “I’m just not looking at this in the right way.” And when I reframed that for myself, I said, “This doesn’t have to be shame. This is life experience.”

And now when I’m talking to a business owner or I’m going to consult with a business, or if someone says, “Hey, I heard you have this running,” I can turn that around and go, “I absolutely did. It was a horrid experience. And let me tell you all of the things that I know that you can probably do in your business to avoid ever having to see this show up in your business. Let me empower you with the experience I had to go through so that you don’t have to ever go through that, so that you don’t even have to touch that with a 10 foot pole. Let me look over what you’re doing and probably give you a few places where you might have some gaps where you’re exposing yourself as a business.”

Now I’m empowering myself through this situation. I could have hid behind that shame and gone and dug a hole and hid out for the rest of my life, but I was like, “Oh, no. No, no, no, no.” And then to watch the phone calls come in and the people show up who are like, “I know this happened to you and I’m embarrassed to ask you because I don’t know how you feel.” And I laugh and I go, “Ask me anything that you want because I am an open book,” especially in this particular item because from a compliance level I want this digital world to continue. I want the coaching and consulting space to be a beautiful space for the right kinds of businesses.

 And I know what some of those pitfalls look like. I know what compliance eyes are looking at and so I want to be there to say, “Hey, my door is open to you. If you have a question, please come ask me. I am happy to share my experience with you because I learned from it.” It’s empowered me to be a better business owner and to be a better consultant. And it can empower you to also be a better business owner and to feel like your business has safety and some reassurances behind it because you’re doing things the right way.

Darla LeDoux: That’s so beautiful. In our last series we were talking about transforming out loud, which was a lot about shame. And I had a run in with the law not too long ago that I shared about, and I knew in the moment, well, maybe not in the moment, but immediately following the experience that I had a choice to stay in shame or to stand in truth. And I just really honor you for that. That’s awesome. Yes.

Mary Dee: Thank you.

Darla LeDoux: So your shame can be your power.

Mary Dee: Totally. Totally. Absolutely it can. And also in sharing that shame it was very interesting to me to find out how many people that I know and respect, especially in this space, have actually shared that same experience with me. And so that was also sort of a funny discovery. And then you go, “Oh, so and so also. These are people that are well-respected in the industry.” And I just went, “Okay.” Now it’s switched gears to, okay, apparently you’ve done something pretty big in the world if you haven’t gotten sued. Got it. Okay.

Darla LeDoux: Very cool. So Mary, you have a masterclass. If people want to learn more about you and get some of your juicy knowledge they can go over to And what’s in the masterclass?

Mary Dee: Ooh, I love that. This masterclass is on cosmic obligation, and it’s a class to help people through any fears that they’re having that is surrounding their messaging. And that can be their messaging, not necessarily just in their business, but just how they’re showing up in their relationships and in their life and their day to day. A lot of people have a fear around saying no. And so that’s another really big one.

And we address that within the masterclass, and we walk through just a really strong framework to help people that are struggling with transferring value for their product or their idea, helping them work through those reframes and creating a way for them to go, “Wow! This is valuable. And when I share what I do, I share it with so much value and excitement because I truly believe it.” They’re getting through some of their limiting beliefs around their own self-talk.

And with cognitive obligation the way that works is I say it’s sometimes easy to look at our situation and go, “Well, who am I? I’m just this one person in the world. There’s 20 people that do it better than me off the top of my head. And who am I to share this message?” And instead of saying that it’s who are you to not share this message because you are unique and valuable and you have your own unique gift and swing on this that you’re going to be able to share the world with people that they’re not even going to be able to reach. And we all have to work through hitting our domino every day. And I call it a domino because we know when you stack dominoes you just need to hit the first one for the rest of them to fall.

And it’s the same thing. It’s like, “How do I just click my first domino so the rest of them can fall where they’re supposed to? How do I plant the seed so the tree can grow?” We plant a lot of themes and through that some grow, some don’t, but that’s the magic of it. We just need to do our job, which is planting the seed, hitting the domino, moving things forward powerfully and not hiding behind our hope of what we think we can be or the should have or the could have, really moving forward.

People can absolutely go to my website at and subscribe there or for all your listeners, Darla, I would love to actually gift them into the masterclass, if that’s okay.

Darla LeDoux: Great.

Mary Dee: We’d love to actually offer that. Then next masterclass will kick off in June. And so if they just email me, I’m actually happy to… They can just say, “Hey, I listened to Darla’s podcast,” and I will honor actually a free session for them.

Darla LeDoux: Awesome. So

Mary Dee: Yes.

Darla LeDoux: We’ll put that also in the show notes so you guys can go over there and click that and send. Thank you so much, Mary. It’s awesome to share space and energy with you. Thank you for your wisdom and who you are in the world, and let’s keep transforming shame together.

Mary Dee: Love that. I appreciate you, Darla. Thank you so much for having me.

Darla LeDoux: Bye everyone.

Have you been called to integrate retreats into the way you do business?

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