Are you ready to say yes to success? Join Steve Farber as he interviews Debra Poneman, founder of YES to Success, Inc. and a true thought-leader in the transformational space. Debra has an interesting and powerful story to tell. She was on what seemed like the top of her career when she gave it all up and followed her heart, which exactly what she now teaches other people to do. Listen to this enlightening conversation, where Debra shares her journey through corporate success, full-time motherhood and her return to the outside world as one of the most powerful thought leaders around. You will learn from this episode that there is only one capital you’ll ever need –something that Debra wouldn’t have learned had she not decided to be the best mom to the people closest to her heart. Listen in and find out what it is!
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Say Yes to Success: How to Build the Only Capital You’ll Ever Need With Debra Poneman
This episode is brought to you by the fine folks at the Extreme Leadership Institute. I know they’re fine folks because I happen to be the CEO and Founder of that company. Come check us out at ExtremeLeadership.com and see what we do. You can avail yourself of all the resources there and find out how we go about helping companies to operationalize love, energy, audacity and proof in the way they do business. My guest is Debra Poneman. Sometimes I have guests on this show that I’ve known for a while. Sometimes we have guests who are new friends that I’m getting to know for the first time. Debra is in a category all her own. We have known each other since I was a wee lad in knickers. We’ve known each other for 40-something years. She is my sister in all kinds of ways. She’s also a brilliant thought leader.
I’m going to tell you a little bit about her and then we’re going to have a great conversation. If you think way back to the 1980s, for those of you who were around back then, that was the time before the internet. Debra had a program called Yes to Success seminars, which were being taught at the time all over the world. They were taught in Norway, England, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa and all around North America. The knowledge that people gain from Debra’s courses have led to people, many of whom you’ve heard of. Many of her graduates went on to become mega-successful entrepreneurs, New York Times bestselling authors, powerful world changers, millionaires, billionaires, and even some household names that you would recognize. I can think of one, for example, that I know you would recognize. It’s Steve Farber. I took Debra’s course way back in the early days of it. We’re going to hear more about what it is.
Back in those days, there weren’t a lot of women who were trainers for corporations but Debra was doing work back then for companies like Mattel, Xerox and Donald Douglas. It was virtually unheard of, defined women in those kinds of roles back then. She was a pioneer. She was all over the media, all over TV, and all over print and broadcast media around the US. Once upon a time in 1988, when she was cooking at the height of her success, she had a book in the hands of a top literary agent. She was in negotiations to have her own TV talk show and she gave it all up because she followed her heart which is exactly what she teaches other people to do and she stayed home to raise her kids.
Now, those kids are grown. One is a chiropractor. One is a sports agent and an award-winning filmmaker. She’s a proud mom as a result. She came on back to the scene and brought her Yes to Success seminars back to the world, refreshed, updated for these times. She is an absolute brilliant embodiment of all the things that it takes for all of us to succeed in whatever we want to do in life. With that, the official welcome to you, my dear, on the show. Thanks for being here.
Thank you so much. It’s such a good introduction and you have lived a lot of that because most people read my introduction and you were adding some juicy stuff into that.
You have this tremendous experience and you know all these people all around the world. You’re a successful entrepreneur by your own right. Tell us how this whole thing has started for you.
For the decade of the ‘70s, I taught meditation. I was a full-time teacher of meditation but by the end of that decade, I realized that women do not live by mantra alone and I needed to make a little bit of money. I was living in a meditation community at the time and I thought, “I’ve got to make some money. Where do people live who has a lot of money?” This is how I decided where to go, either New York or Los Angeles. I thought Los Angeles is warmer so I’ll go there. I moved to Los Angeles and I thought, “How do people make money?” They make money selling investments. I got a job selling investments.
You were well-prepared for being a meditation teacher.
It’s right up my alley. I get this job. It was a friend that gave me the job. He thought he’d take a risk. He’s now in heaven and I think he still regrets it because I never made a sale. I was out of my league. You know that expression, “We make plans and God laughs.” My plan was to make a lot of money selling investments and go back to teaching meditation. What happened was that one night, one of my colleagues invited me to a money seminar. I thought it was going to help me be more effective at selling. We are selling tax shelters. I thought it would help me be more effective.
How do you sell something if you don’t even know what it is? How could you possibly have known what a tax shelter was?
I still don’t know what it is. We had lots of laughs over it because I’m still friends with all of the people from that firm. I don’t think any of us know what it is but what happened was that one night I was invited to a money seminar and I thought it would help me be more effective at what I was doing. I walk in and it’s at The Learning Annex. I’m new to LA. I don’t know what The Learning Annex is and I thought it was going to be all these suits learning about being effective at sales. It was the new age crowd and the guy was talking about the Law of Attraction. What he said is that if you’re always talking about how poor you are, if you’re always talking about doom and gloom and you’ll never be able to afford this and you’ll never be able to afford that, you start vibrating.
Like a tuning fork, the only thing you can draw into yourself is lack and limitation. However, no matter what your financial situation is, talk about the good times to come create a vision. People even create these vision boards and don’t vibrate with doom and gloom. Vibrate with the prosperity and you will draw that into your life. That was one of the things he said. Another concept, which I know you live by and you even wrote a book about it, is that if you want to be successful, help other people become successful. What’s the name of your book?
That’s what the guy said. That’s another key to prosperity, help people become greater than yourself. Everything this man was saying vibrated with me and I thought, “This is why I came to LA.” I had to hear this guy because I knew that I was going to stop selling investments and I was going to start researching this body of knowledge. I realized that there were all these great masters like Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, W. Clement Stone, Emmet Fox and The Science of Mind. They all had written these books about the power of the mind to create your reality.
I quit my job and I started studying everything I could about habit energetically create prosperity. Within six months, I put together an incredible seminar. I did it using the things I was about to teach. I want to share with your audience a couple of those things that I thought were the key to my success because the end of the story is within the future is ear. I was all over the world and that was long before the internet. We were communicating through phones with curly cords. There weren’t even fax machines.Don't wait until you think you're ready because you'll never think you're ready. Click To Tweet
What year was this?
I started putting together the seminar in 1980 and it was launched in 1981. One of the principles I used is that if you have an idea that fills a need or answers a gap in society, and you are excited about it, don’t go around telling everybody what you’re going to do for several reasons. One, I don’t believe that people could steal your idea. They can do it, but they’re not you. There could be a thousand people speaking on leadership. They’re not Steve Farber. There could be a thousand people speaking on success through tens of thousands, but they’re not Debra Poneman. We each have our unique angle and we each have the people that are going to be drawn to us. I’m not worried about people stealing the idea but the reason why you need to not tell everybody what you’re going to do is because what is sacred should be kept secret. Your precious ideas are certainly sacred.
What happens is that if you share it, one is you bump up against the discouragement committee. Those people who are going to tell you all the reasons why your idea isn’t going to work. Even if you plow ahead with it, you still have that doubt because the discouragement committee already told you why it’s not going to work. The other thing that can happen is that they say, “What a fabulous idea.” Now you have all the accolades and you’re less likely to go out and do it because you already got the praise about how brilliant and great you are. Every time you share it with somebody, it’s like you’re letting the pressure out, letting the steam out of the kettle. Keep that steam in the kettle. You don’t want your idea to be crushed when it’s a tiny seed. Let it grow into a strong plant before you share it with the world.
The other principle that I live by is don’t wait until you think you’re ready because you’ll never think you’re ready. There will always be loose ends and people say, “I’ll do it when the kids grow. I’ll do it when I get the settlement money. I’ll do it when I get the inheritance.” There’s going to be another loose end when that happens. What you have to do is know that an idea comes to you because you are the one who was supposed to manifest it. Not to get all cosmic or religious, because I’m neither of those but I believe that there are things that need to be manifested on Earth for the planet to work. I believe that that idea is whispered. Maybe it’s by the creator into your ear, “Start a seminar. Start a business. Love is just damn good business.” It comes from somewhere.
The thing is that we could argue the philosophy around that whether or not it’s true that the universe whispers in your ear. It doesn’t matter because the attitude about it is this is an idea that came to me, however it came to me, and I have an opportunity to either do something with it or not. If I take the attitude that it is my sacred responsibility to act on that, I’m going to be more likely to act on it. It is as simple as that.
That idea was given to you for a reason. The truth is probably so many people who are reading have had the experience that they had a brilliant idea. They didn’t act on it and maybe a year or two later, somebody else made a fortune with their idea. “That was my idea.” You got first dibs on it, but you didn’t do anything.
Being an author and living in that space, I hear from people all the time, “I’m going to write a book. I got an idea for a book. Can I tell you my idea for my book?” It’s the same thing that you’re talking about. You’ve got the idea. Stop talking about the idea because I can tell you all the reasons why nobody’s going to want to read that. I could tell you all the reasons why there are a thousand books already written on that subject. Anyone of those comments can snap that sprout where it’s growing. On the other hand, if I say, “That’s a great idea.” I can sit back and say, “I am brilliant. I have a great idea for a book, but there’s no book.”
They say those who talk, don’t do. Those who do, don’t talk. They just do it.
You put those principles into practice while you were building something to teach people to put those principles into practice. You were modeling it as you were teaching it versus saying, “I’m going to put all these ideas into practice. I’ll make a bunch of money and then I’ll teach people how I did it.” You did it simultaneously.
The other thing is that I never teach anything ever that I don’t do myself because if I try it on and it doesn’t work, then how could I teach people and legitimately be enthusiastic about that principle? I only use those that work and that’s how I built my business. That’s how I allowed it to thrive.
Around here in this neighborhood, we have a saying as you know, “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.” If we go back to that heyday of the Yes to Success seminars, you’re on fire. You’re having a great time. You did love it. You then went on a different path. You gave it all up. You walked away from it. One way of looking at it as you walked away from it but what happened is you walk towards something else. Tell us about that.
What happened was that the seminar got bigger and bigger. I had reps teaching all around the world and as you said in my introduction, I was on TV and broadcast media all over the country. I still have the articles. I showed you that one which was from the LA Daily News, which doesn’t exist anymore from 1983. She finds her happiness in helping other people find theirs. As my seminar got bigger and bigger, one of my main principles is to follow your heart. What happened was on one fateful day in 1988, when I was about to have my own daytime TV talk show, I was in negotiations with the major producers in LA. I also had written the Yes! To Success book and I had a great agent. The agent was chopping into some major publishers in New York.
Something happened that rocked my world and I gave it all up. That was because my daughter was born and I took one look at her and I bought a new passion. I took one look at her and I thought, “How could I go around and tell people that they should follow their heart when I did not want to leave her to go to the bathroom, let alone leave her to go on a book tour or get up every morning at 5:30 and tape a TV show?” I gave it up cold turkey. I’ll tell you something people said to me, “Have you gone out of your mind?” I told every single one of them, “Absolutely. Out of my mind and right into my heart.”
As you teach, when we make our decisions from the heart space, that’s when we have the best results because the mind is filled with all of this nonsense, all these lies that people have told us about who we are and about how the world works. If we make our decision based on all of those things that we’ve been told since childhood, we won’t make the decisions. If we put our actual physical attention on the region of the heart and ask for the knowledge to come from there, we’ll get a lot more truth.
I remember I was supposed to do a tour of Southeast Asia and this guy, he was from Singapore and I had the baby and he called me. He says, “Debra, you had the baby. Let’s get the tour on the books.” I said, “You’re going to have to call me back in eighteen years.” He remembered. It turned into 21 years when my son was born. A lot of people asked me if I ever regret my decision or did I ever doubt my decision to stay home with my kids? The answer is yes, I did. How many friends of ours became New York Times bestselling authors? I was home in knee-deep and dirty diapers. Every time I would turn on the TV, another one of my students was smiling across the airwaves on Oprah.If you keep your vision strong, you'll be able to doubt the doubts and keep moving forward. Click To Tweet
The thing is that we’re human so we doubt. Don’t think that you’re going to make a decision and never have a doubt, but you have to hold the vision ultimately where you’re going and what you want to contribute to the world. If you keep that vision strong, then you’ll be able to doubt the doubts and keep moving forward. I have this one story that when I saw my student on Oprah and I really doubted. There was one day where the kids were especially not happy. I put them on the couch because I was going to put them in front of the TV. I didn’t usually do that a lot, but this was a TV day and my daughter wanted to watch Barney. She couldn’t say her R. She’s on the couch and was like, “Where’s Bawney?” I was like, “I’m going to get you Bawney.” I’m doing the channel check and while I was doing the channel check, all of a sudden I see Oprah. Not only do I see Oprah, but I see one of my students on Oprah.
Not only do I see one of my students on Oprah, but he was doing a demonstration with Oprah on the power of the mind that I had cognized once in meditation, “I’ll show people how powerful their minds are.” He’s doing it on Oprah and it’s fine that he did because when I retired, I said to my students, “Take my stuff, teach it. You don’t even have to give me credit. Go for it. The world needs it.” At that particular moment, Oprah is flipping out. She’s like, “This is the most amazing thing. I’m going to show this to my whole staff.” I have these two kids on the couch, “Where’s Bawney?”
At that moment, talk about doubts, I knew for a fact that I had ruined my life. I’m standing in front of the TV and I burst into tears and I’m like, “That was supposed to be me.” It shocked my kids so much that they stopped whining. The only thing that broke me out of my self-imposed pity party was my daughter goes, “Mommy.” I go, “Yes, sweetheart?” “I think I want popsicles.” I went back to my reality. I find them Bawney. I go into the kitchen. I’m pouring the orange juice into the mold to make them their popsicles and I am mad at the universe.
I am cursing out God like, “How could you do this to me? I have my book in the hands of a publisher in New York who’s going to make me a superstar and that guy gets Oprah and I get them.” They have this vision and I don’t want to say God spoke to me and said, “Remember the book.” It’s like a little impulse. I remember this book that I had read years before and it was about a guy who had died. He went to the other side and it’s one of these books where they have this experience where he went through the tunnel of darkness. At the end of the tunnel, there is this being of light and this guy was a military guy and a businessman. He was not into, but when he came back from the experience because he came back, he wrote this book and he tried to convince people to be believers.
His experience was, he sees this being of light. The being of light says to him, “Would you like to see the high points of your life?” He said, “Yes, I would.” He said that the movie reel was short. It showed him his son how to swing a baseball bat and dancing with his daughter at her wedding. It’s about two things on the reel. The man says, “What about the time I brought my company public? What about the time I did this? What about the time I did that?” The being of light said, “All of those things glorified you. Would you like to see the life of somebody else who was passed over?”
He indignantly said yes. The being of light tells the story that these curtains of golden light parted and they’re sending on a throne of light was the woman who used to clean his house, who took 2 or 3 buses to clean. She was surrounded by a host of angels. The being of lights said, “Would you like to see the high points of her life?” He said yes. It was an endless reel. It showed her carrying a pot of soup to a sick friend. It showed her comforting the child who has been bullied.
It showed her stroking her mother’s hair as her mother was making her transition. It showed her cheering at a baseball game for the kids whose parents couldn’t be there to cheer because they worked 2 or 3 jobs. It showed her going to church and hugging up everybody and saying, “How are you doing today?” The being of light said, “You judged her as such a poor pathetic creature, but she had a beautiful, happy life. The thing that you find out when you come to this side is that the only thing that matters while you’re on Earth is how much love you give.”
It then said, “Go out and go back.”
“Go back and tell everybody that.” When I remembered and I recalled that I put those popsicles in the freezer and I went back and I hugged my kids. I remained for another twenty years being a mom at home. That’s why I love what you do because love is just a damn good business. It doesn’t mean that you have to stay and be a mom at home. It’s infused what you’re doing with love, infuse your business with love and that’s why you’re unique in what you teach because people think that it’s mutually exclusive. Love is something you do at home, but business is business and you bring love into a business.
Thank you for saying that. It strikes me that your path is moving back and forth between those arenas. You did have love in business with the creation and the propagation of the seminar. Then you took that love and you applied it at home and the kids grew. They turned out great. You got lessons back from them and then it was time for you to take that love and bring it back into the business. I think that’s an important inflection point because I think there are a lot of people and it generally tends to be women more than men who make a decision to stay home and raise their kids. When it comes time to go back out into the workforce, make a living again, they feel like they’ve lost all that time and all that experience and how can they possibly bring value to that world that they feel like they haven’t been a part of for long. The love might be there, but the confidence may not. How is somebody in that scenario bring that passion and that confidence together for themselves?
I’ve done both. I’ve had business. I’ve raised my kids. I’m back in my business and I learned more about running a business and about being effective in business and in life from being home with my children than everything I’ve learned anywhere else. I have friends like my last business partner who had an MBA from UCLA and I am always sharing wisdom with her about our business. We are partners. We’re no longer partners, but still dear friends that I learned from my children.
I gave a 90-minute talk on creating success. During that talk, I told three different concepts about creating success that I learned from my children. I’m going to share another one that I didn’t even share in that talk that I gave. In terms of confidence, know that running a household and being a leader in your home because as soon as you have one child, you are a leader. You are a leader if you’re the room mother. You are a leader if you run the carnival or the science fair, or the PTA. You have leadership skills. The person who is my executive assistant was the president of the PTA. She’s one of the most competent people in the world and she keeps saying, “Yes and that she is only the president of the PTA.”
I don’t have half the smarts as she does, or half the effectiveness as she does on how to do the day-to-day running of the business. I think it’s a matter of recognizing that but I’ll tell you something that I did learn from my son. My son loved basketball. He was born loving to ask. He was still holding on with one hand. He couldn’t even stand by himself. On the other hand, he was shooting baskets into his little basketball hoop. Every other year for Halloween, Daniel was either a rapper or something having to do with basketball. When he was five, all the other kids were having their parties at Chuck E. Cheese and he insisted that his party be at Michael Jordan’s restaurant in Chicago on the huge basketball on the roof.
The kid loved basketball and when he was a freshman in high school, he made me eighteen, which is a big deal. Unfortunately, the same is true that white boys cannot jump decidedly. He was one of the only white kids on his team at Evanston High School. He spent the entire season on the bench. However, because he had to travel because he had to go to all the freshmen games and the varsity games and junior varsity games, he noticed that he had an eye for talent. He started a website called IllinoisHSBasketball.com.
He was fourteen when he started the website. When he was sixteen, there was a full-page article about him in Sports Illustrated. The headline was, “Why College Hoops Coaches Seek the Advice of A Sixteen Year Old Scout?” He was good at it. He could tell who was going to be recruited by the best Division I schools and who was going to go into the leagues one day. Those of you are basketball fans, you can go on Google and say, the kid who discovered Anthony Davis. That was my son, Daniel Poneman. This is a great story about Daniel. One day, Daniel comes home and he says, “Mom, I had a realization.” What he started doing was he would start making films of kids that he thought had promise. He would send them out to high school coaches to take a look at this kid. That’s how his reputation got big.
I remember one time the coach from Harvard came to Chicago to look at one of Daniel’s suggestions. He walks into the high school and in Daniel hops up and he goes to meet him and he says to Daniel, “I’m looking for Daniel Poneman.” Daniel was with braces. He wasn’t even sixteen. I had to drive him there. “I’m Daniel Poneman.” You cannot believe the look on this guy’s face. He got him a good player. One day Daniel comes and he says to Fred and me, my wonderful former husband, and says, “Mom and dad, listen. I’m getting this Division I kid’s scholarships but they don’t need me. Anthony Davis would have gotten discovered anyway, but who needs me or the Division II kids, because people don’t come and scout them. Often, they get lost under the radar. Even though they have talent, they end up flipping burgers or worse because they can’t afford to be in the showcases.” Showcases cost $150 to $200 that these different athletic companies put on.Infuse whatever you’re doing with love, and it will pay you back a thousandfold. Click To Tweet
He says, “I’m going to start a free showcase. I’m going to start a nonprofit and I’m going to put on free showcases for kids in the inner city of Chicago that are division two prospects.” We never discouraged our kids. We were never the discouragement committee for them. If they were given that idea, however, they were given it by God, by their inner self, by their higher self, they were given that idea. Our only job was to support it and if it wasn’t going to work out, they’re going to learn soon enough. We said, “Great idea. You go for it.” His first showcase had ten coaches and about 30 kids. His next had about 30 coaches and about 90 kids.
Where in Chicago was that?
He held the showcases in the inner city down or high school or one of those places. His last showcase had 350 kids and 140 coaches from all over the country. Now, he has raised over $50 million in college scholarships for the kids in the City of Chicago. Now comes what I learned from him. Here’s Daniel and he also had scholarship offers to colleges everywhere. One day he said, “I don’t want to go to college. I’m not the type of person who sits in a classroom and learns.” He loves to read biographies of great men and women. He loves doing that but he self-teaches himself.
He said, “I’m not going to college. These kids in the inner city need me. I’m not going to be wasting my time learning some stuff like these courses that you have to take. I’m not doing it.” We said, “We’re not going to get any argument from us.” What happened was, was that he’s getting all of these kid’s scholarships and he was still in high school when he started doing it. Then into the years of his friends are going to college and I would say to him, “Daniel, can’t you make some money doing this?” He would say, “Mom, you’re not allowed to take any money for scouting high school basketball players for college coaches. It’s against NCAA rules.” Although other people take money under the table, Daniel would not. We would say, “Daniel, isn’t there some way that you can make money doing this?” He says to me, “Mom, don’t worry. I’m building relationship capital.”
He’s done all of this at sixteen?
Yes. He’s still in high school when he started these showcases. Another year will pass and he has gotten millions of dollars for these kids. He’s still sleeping on our couch. “Daniel, isn’t there some way you can make some money doing this?” He said, “Mom, you have to be patient. Observe what’s happening. I am building relationship capital.” This went on for a little while longer and you know, the end of this story too. He had the idea to make it a documentary about what it’s like for the kids growing up in the inner city of Chicago and about how basketball is the only way out. We watched the premiere together. I watched it at your house.
When he had the idea to make that film, he went to somebody with whom he had built relationship capital that gave him $400,000 to make the film because he always says, “Do good things for people and lift people up.” Like what he did for these kids and it’ll all come out in the end. A few more years passed and now he’s getting consulting fees and people are paying him for his advice because he’s freaking successful. His website is booming and everybody wants to be in the Daniel Poneman world. He then decides that he wants to start a sports agency besides his nonprofit, which he also doesn’t take any money from even though he raised all this money. He decides he wants to start an athlete management firm where he would represent NBA players and NFL players and somebody who he had built relationship capital with gave him millions to start his own firm. He’s in partnership with one of the wealthiest families in the country, a household name in this country because he built relationship capital.
Needless to say, he’s no longer sixteen years old but he understood the concept of relationship capital. I think it’s amazing that he even used that phraseology like, “Where did he learn that?” He did not just understand the concept but knew it’s deeply that he lived that way at a time when it’s the opposite of instant gratification, which is I think was my main motivator when I was that age. He’s saying, “I’m investing in this and it’s going to pay off later on and what I’m investing in is the quality of the people that I know, the reputation that I have for what I do for them, the opportunities that I create for them, and that will come back someway somehow.”
He didn’t do what he did because he thought, “I’m going to do a favor for this guy cause in the future,” He just knew the Law of Karma. You do good and good will come back to you. He knew it innately but the term relationship capital, I have no idea how he came up with it, but I’ll tell you another part of the story. I was telling the story about relationship capital at a seminar that I was giving and Daniel happened to be there. After the seminar, he comes up to me. He says “Mom, you always give me credit for that but I learned the concept from you.” I said, “What are you talking about? I never heard that concept relationship capital.”
He says, “No. It’s the same story that you tell you. It’s a slightly different angle. You always teach in your seminars to treat everybody as the most important person in the world. You always taught me mom that you don’t judge people by the color of their skin, by their gender, by who they love or if they’re old or they’re young or the way they dress, or they have funny crooked glasses. That the person standing in front of you is always the most important person in the world at that time and not to look around the room and see if there’s somebody else more important to talk to. You’re the one that I learned that from. I also remember that when you retired to be a mom at home, and then you came back and you wanted to come back into the world of speaking that the people who remembered what you had done for them were the ones who said, “You’re back. I’m getting you speaking engagements.”
Janet Attwood from The Passion Test, our mutual friend, got me my first two speaking engagements. One was at a huge event up in Canada and another was a huge event in San Diego with Ray Blanchard. They remember what I had done for them. Then our wonderful friend Marci Shimoff who had since taken my seminars. She was my secretary. She took my seminar and asked her if she could work for me and I made her my secretary’s assistant. When she knew I was coming back on the scene, she said to me, “Let’s start a business together.” We started this company together. She had had the idea, but she didn’t know who she wanted to do it with. She couldn’t think of anybody but when I came back on the scene, she invited and we co-created Your Year of Miracles. My first business endeavor was a million-dollar business right out of the shoot because I had built relationship capital.
Is it safe to say that those people with whom you built the relationship capital rose up to help you at the time you needed it for one simple reason? That’s what it comes down to. Relationship capital sounds like a nice translation into rational business-speak. The bottom line is, what does it mean? It’s the relationship and the value of that relationship. A relationship has real value in it when it’s not built because of the value that you hope to gain someday. It’s built because of love. It’s built because you care. It’s built because you want to help. It’s done without any quid pro quo in mind. When and if it comes back, that’s fantastic but it’s this interesting nuance. The minute you approach a relationship with that desire of a specific return, people will call bullshit on it as it’s going to go.
That’s what I say. People have authenticity meters. Your authenticity went way over into the negative range. It’s interesting because Janet Attwood was broke when she took my seminar. She had the idea for The Passion Test in my seminar. She told me that she wanted to be like me when she grew up. I gave her the first speaking gig. I let her speak at one of my Yes to Success seminars. That was the first time she ever spoke on the stage and the same with Marci. Marci got her first speaking gig because I got sick and I made her go do it for me. She got this speaking bug but I never thought, “Janet one day is going to be a New York Times bestselling author and is going to get me a speaking gig twenty years from now.” I gave her a chance because she was a wonderful darling person. She was excited about what I was teaching. I was excited about her beauty and her enthusiasm.
I have to share one other story because it’s credit for everybody’s success, including yours. When I teach my Yes to Success seminars, people stand up all the time because I do a lot of sharing. This is a live seminar. Steve Farber stands up and he’s sharing about something. I don’t know what it was and I stopped him in the middle. I said, “You have to be a professional speaker.” He was like, “No.” I go, “Yes.” I remember what I said to you, “You are effortlessly funny. You are effortlessly brilliant, handsome and you have the it factor. You have that charisma thing going on. You’ve got to be a professional speaker.” I know that you worked in the financial world for a while longer, but I hope that I planted a seed because now you’re one of the most sought-after speakers in your field.
I also remember vividly. I was in a situation where I worked for your husband. I’m telling you this for the benefit of our audience in the commodities futures business. I was in that business because I needed to make money because I had a young family and this was in the early ‘80s and I hated it. I was miserable. I hated it from day one. I hated it so much that I ended up having my own company where I did the same thing as bizarre as that sounds. I was discovering that I was an entrepreneur, but somewhere in there is when I took the seminar and you and I had more conversations and outside of that.
I remember you lighting up and saying, “You need to pursue this.” You sent me to somebody to discuss it. Somebody who had a seminar business at the time. I got excited about it. I didn’t know that there’s such a thing existed. It was completely off my radar screen. It was a few more years before I ended up going in that direction but that seed was planted. To our point, yes, you and I had known each other for a long time at that point but you had no other motive to point me in that direction other than your love for me and you thought I could go. That was all it took. It wasn’t like you were looking to get some a referral fee. We do this for each other.Do you have a brilliant idea? Stop talking about it and take that step in which there is no turning back. Click To Tweet
We do this for people we love to take that principle of relationship capital and expand that out requires us to extend that beyond the obvious, beyond just the people in our inner personal circle of friendship. Then see how far beyond that personal circle, we can extend it like your son Daniel did. He made this opportunity available for all basketball players in the inner city of Chicago. They didn’t have to know him to be a part of it. It was a more generalized love that had specific consequences for lots of individuals. That’s the opportunity that we all have. We tend to think, “We sure we help the people that we love. How about expanding what that population is?”
I have to go back to how much I love what you do. Love is just damn good business because he did it for those kids because he loved those kids. Some of them were older than he was at the time, but he saw the struggles that kids had in the inner city and how good he had it in his life. He wanted to give back. He wanted to give something and there was nothing that he was looking for in return but helping people make their lives better. That is like you say, it’s out of love. I have to tell you one other Daniel’s story which you haven’t heard yet. One day, I had a mentoring group and there were ten women. We were at a retreat in Chicago and we invited Daniel to come and have lunch with us.
We’re sitting around a table. We were at Manny’s Deli. They were talking back and forth. They’re asking Daniel questions and he’s talking about his nonprofit, Shot in The Dark Foundation. He’s talking about what he’s doing and then finally one of these women said, “Daniel, what can we do for you? How can we help you?” Daniel says, “The thing is I am lucky that I get to do what I love, like being in the world of basketball and do good for people through my nonprofit and make money through my agency. I feel blessed in my life. When I think about what you could do for me, wherever you live, there’s a need there as well. Whatever city, whatever town and you have something that you love to do. Here’s what you could do for me is go back to your town, go back to your city and look for the need there. See how you can contribute by doing what you love to do because it all ends up at the same place anyway.”
Here’s what I feel inspired to say at the moment, “Good job, mom.” What an incredible example. Somebody would have to grow up with to be deeply immersed in that idea. It comes naturally to them. I want to make as we bring this in for a landing. We talked about Daniel’s movie, Shot in The Dark, but we didn’t say the name.
It’s Shot in The Dark. It was produced by Fox. I think you can only get it On-Demand. It’s the only streaming service.
The foundation that he set up around is Shot in The Dark Foundation. I’ll make sure that the information is there for people to see.
People think, “Is it made because most of these kids have as much chance of succeeding as a shot in the dark?” That’s part of it, but also if you watch the movie, you’ll see the shot in the dark that happened. Think of a basketball shot and it gives me goosebumps when you see it. There are lots of meaning.
The other thing that I’d like for you to share with us is I feel fortunate because we’re such close friends and people that are meeting you for the first time and hearing your wisdom and your enthusiasm and your great stories and a great story of your own life, they want to know a couple of things. They want to know what you would advise them to do. It’s not an entirely fair question because everybody’s a little bit different but what one or two nuggets that you can leave us with that the folks can go out and start putting into practice right now. We’ve talked about relationship capital. We’ve talked about treating every idea that you have as if you are meant to do it. Anything else that you’d like to leave people with in terms of actionable nuggets?
Take a step in which there’s no turning back because people have all these great ideas and I do believe that your ideas are sacred so they should be kept secret. Your step should not be telling everybody what you’re going to do. People say, “Tell people what you’re going to do, then you have to do it.” I say, “You tell people what you’re going to do and then you probably won’t do it if.” If you take a step from which there’s no turning back, like in my case when I decided that I was going to give these seminars and I rented a room at the Santa Monica public library because I had to push myself into doing it because I was 28 years old at the time.
I only had a degree from Maharishi International University in the science of creative intelligence. I was broke. I was going to teach people how to be successful. I drove a beat-up old Chevy Bel Air. I had to take a step from which there was no turning back. What I did was I rented a room and I went around putting up posters. It’s a lot different now. Take a step from which there is no turning back. Also, don’t doubt because you were given a Dharma. Dharma is what you were put on Earth to do. You were given your talents because you’re meant to use them. I was always a good speaker. I gave speeches in the eighth grade. That is a Dharma that I have.
Other people are brilliant with numbers, brilliant with busy building businesses, brilliant with organizing people, brilliant at leadership, and brilliant at inspiring others. You’re brilliant at whatever idea that is that you’re going to make money and that you’re going to bring it into fruition. Stop talking about it and take a step from which there’s no turning back. Martin Luther King says, “You don’t have to know the whole staircase to take one step.” Take a step and the other steps will be revealed to you. You don’t need to know the whole plan. That’s another thing, “I’ll start when I have a business plan.” Would you please take a step from which there’s no turning back? The next step is you can’t steer a parked car. You got to start driving the car out of the driveway and then if you have to course-correct, then you make a different turn but get moving. People will say, “I’m visualizing what I’m going to do.” That’s great but faith without action is worthless. You can have all the faith, but you have to take action.
That’s an important point because you mentioned earlier the law of attraction which became popular with the secret and all that. A big misinterpretation about the law of attraction is that all you have to do is set up that tuning fork as you talked about. Get the right thoughts and the right vibes and it’ll all come crashing down on your head. That’s the foundation but then you have to take the action. You have to take such significant action that once you take that step, there’s no turning back from it and because it’s an unprecedented step for you, the only way to prove that you’re ready for that step is to take the step.
I’ll tell you one other thing about the secret about visualizing. I also think that people have to visualize all wrong. I’m all about visualizing. This is how I teach people to visualize and do it every morning before you even get out of bed. It’s not, “I will have a best seller.” The way I tell people to visualize is to think of the people, opening your book and reading a concept, they’re life-changing, their hearts are filled with gratitude for you because of the contribution that you made and feel that love from them back in your heart and visualize the contribution that your work is going to make. The contribution the way it’s going to change lives. When you feel goosebumps, that’s when your visualization has done. Then get your butt out of that bed and get to work.
One of the last questions is how do people get more of you? Are there any resources, any place that people can reach out to you?
People could go on my website, which is YesToSuccess.com and there are a lot of resources there. There are some videos. What I recommend that you do is download my eBook. You’ll see right on the front, put your name and email, and then we’ll send you the eBook. One of the chapters is about love. There is one chapter, it’s five chapters, and one is about love. I had my book remember in the hands of a New York publisher and then I decided to stay home with the little darlings. Ever since then, people were saying, “When will you get that book written?” It’s written already. I have not been in the mood to make it into like a big book and do everything you need to make it a bestseller, so I thought, “I’ll make an eBook.” I’ll take the juiciest, salient, important concepts, put it in an eBook and I’ll give it to people. That’s what you could get on my website.
What a lovely way to build relationship capital. Deb, thank you so much for being here and sharing your light and your heart and your wisdom with us. Until next time, folks. Don’t forget, I’m going to put slightly different words in Debra’s mouth but I think she’ll subscribe to these words as well. Don’t forget to do what you love in the service of people who love what you do. See you next time.
About Debra Poneman
Debra Poneman is a true pioneer in the world of transformation.
In the 1980’s, decades before the internet made international communication instantaneous, Debra’s Yes to Success seminars were being taught in Norway, England, Ireland, Singapore, and South Africa, as well as dozens of North American cities. Using the knowledge they gained from Debra’s courses, her graduates went on to become mega-successful entrepreneurs, NY Times bestselling authors, powerful world-changers, millionaires, billionaires—even household names.
Debra has also been an in-house trainer for companies like Mattel Toys, the Xerox Management Group and McDonnell Douglas—beginning in the 1980’s when it was virtually unheard of for women to be corporate trainers.
Debra has appeared in print throughout the country and on TV networks including ABC, NBC, FOX and CNN, and on shows from coast to coast including Good Morning New England, Chicago Today and Mid-Morning LA.
In 1988, at the height of her success, with her book in the hands of a top agent and in the midst of negotiations for her own TV talk show, Debra, true to her teaching of following your heart, walked away from her career and disappeared from the public eye for over 20 years when she decided to live her true passion and be a fulltime mom at home.
With her daughter now a doctor of chiropractic and her son an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, philanthropist, and sports agency owner, Debra returned to traveling the world sharing the secrets of how to live a life of true success.
In the first year of her return, she launched a seven-figure program that turned into a phenomenon in the world of transformational seminars.