Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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This is a special guest post by Johnny B Truant, creator of the new “Question The Rules” program.  I’m a fan and after this post, you will be too.

I was pretty hepped up when Marie got in touch recently (inspired, totally living in the moment, and a few cups of coffee ahead of schedule) and asked if I’d accept the awesome honor of being her first-ever guest poster. I’m not sure why this happened.

fight_clubMaybe it’s because Marie’s new puppy is consuming all of her time, or maybe it’s because I used a shirtless picture of Brad Pitt at the top of my recent post about Fight Club. (Apparently shirtless Brad is the only existing still from that movie.)

But maybe — just maybe — it was because Marie saw in me a bit of what she sees in herself: a non-niche, multi-passionate entrepreneur who seems to pay little attention to the rules of running an online business.

And I’m not saying that in a “Like wow, I’m such a rebel” sort of way. I just mean that I make this up as I go along, and for some reason it seems to be working. Luckily.

But this multi-passionate entrepreneur thing? Yeah, that’s totally her term, and her idea as far as I’m concerned.

We spoke a few months back and she essentially gave me permission to stop being a humor guy on one site and a tech guy on another site. She told me it was okay to have a bunch of ridiculously disparate interests, and to toss them all together, and consequences be damned.

“You can just ‘be Johnny B. Truant,’ and talk about whatever the fuck you want on your site,” she said.

Because, you know, Marie says “fuck” a lot.  So yeah.  That was good advice.

Since that time — since dropping niche thinking and just kind of “being Johnny” with all of his intricacies and foibles — I’ve more than tripled my monthly income and my readership.

I’ve planned and done joint ventures with some of the biggest names in blogging.

And I got Grand Pimp Darren Rowse of Problogger (that’s what they call him around the water cooler) to admit in print that I’m on the “A-list” in his RSS reader, which would be awesome if he hadn’t said it just because I’m blackmailing him.

All of that has come from ceasing to think of myself as “the guy who specializes in X” and embracing all of the facets of my personality, everything I do, and everything I am.

So, yeah. I know what you’re thinking.

Is the big and important business secret I’m telling you here really just “Be yourself”?

Because if so, that’s a total cliche.

But you know what? The other day I yelled at my boy for running with scissors. Why? Because kids run with scissors. Cliches are cliches for a reason, and this is no exception.

Carving out one aspect of yourself and saying “This is who I am” is dumb.

Pretending to be perfect, to put on airs, to affect a different manner than who you really are? Also dumb.

Ten months ago, I hadn’t made a cent in my online business, and now I regularly make five figures a month. That happened as a direct result of being myself and doing everything just plain wrong in my business, if you listen to the normal set of rules.

I’m even going to go so far as to say that if I had continued to do things the “right” way (find a niche focus, try to sound on-topic and authoritative at all times, work with anyone who would pay me, sell hard), I would be looking for a retail job to supplement my income right now.

You guys know this already, though, right? You’re used to this scattered focus? I mean, Marie is a coach, a dancer, a choreographer, an internet marketer, and like six other totally different things.

You can get coaching programs in her store… right next to her workout videos. I think she likes me because I do the same weird crap.

Right around the time I was selling a record number of WordPress blog installs, I was running a post on my blog called “Christmas is Gay.”

That’s logical, right? Write about Christmas and sell website services. Oh, but don’t charge people for those holiday blog setups. Do them free, yet find a backdoor way to make a crapload of money anyway. Yeah, not a lot of what I do makes any sense at all.

But I think I get it. I think I have a part of it figured out, as to why it works anyway.

The thing is, the internet can be so disconnected and so anonymous. Men can pretend to be women, scammers can pretend to be honest, and misinformation campaigns can make you believe that unless you buy something now, you’ll suffer dire consequences.

People are so accustomed to bullshit that when they see something or someone that is 3-dimensional and quirky and flawed and real, they know it’s genuine. They flock to it. They rally around it.  No real, authentic, honest-to-goodness person is a niche.

No true human has only one interest. No genuine person is perfect. Change your paradigm.

The goal is not to sell your niche product or your niche knowledge. The goal is to sell yourself.

When clients ask how my “personality brand consulting” works, I tell them that the upshot is that I teach people how to make friends for a living.

I tell them that when you have friends, those friends will come to you instead of searching Google when they have a need that you can fill.  I tell them that friends want to help friends, and that if you do things right, those friends will go out of their way to work with you even if your competitors cost less . . . and they’ll tell their friends about you.

I tell them that the more honest you are — about who you are, about what you’re into, about your motivations and even your shortcomings — the more people will trust you. The more they will identify with you, even if it doesn’t make sense from a “business” perspective.

When I say that I do things “wrong” in my business, I mean that I tell people where I make my money and I tell them when they should go to a competitor who would be better for them.

I mean that I don’t use my email list right, that I don’t upsell correctly, and that I’m terrible at closing sales in the traditional way.

I un-sell. I un-guarantee. I tell people that they won’t build their business quickly, that it’s really hard, and that there’s a pretty good chance they may fail a few times before finding something that works.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m curious just how wrong I can do things before the system collapses. So the other day, I was on the phone with a potential client and I quite literally told him, “I don’t give a shit if you work with me or not.” And within five minutes of hanging up, he’d sent me $1200.  It’s so messed up. It’s so spectacularly, wonderfully, effectively backward.

The more transparent you are, the more you’re beating your customers’ doubts to the punch. If you lay your cards on the table, people can be reasonably confident that you’re not holding any behind your back.

If you think you have to single out a niche interest, and be professional, and be perfect, and create an “image,” and only write about and do one thing to be successful online, I’m here to tell you that’s not always true.

If you think you have to build a persona and put on airs, I’m here to tell you that you may be better off just being you.

People will stop liking what you do and will start to like you. They won’t read your blog; they’ll read you. They won’t buy your service; they’ll buy you.

You want to be rich, happy, and hot? Try doing things wrong in your business.

And, you know, bathe regularly.

—–Johnny B. Truant writes at and is the creator of Question The Rules: The nonconformist’s punk rock, DIY, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating the business and life you really want, starting with what you already have. You can also follow him on Twitter, because sometimes he tweets about zombies and sandwiches.

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  1. Yup, I’m pretty much obsessed with everything you said in here. “Multi-passionate” is how most of us are and trying to cover that up just to be “niche” seems kind of pointless. Plus, I’ve found that on my own personal blog, if I just stick to one topic I get kind of bogged down and traffic slows. But if in one week I’m talking about social media, job hunting and my move – I get loads of comments/feedback/whatever. Plus, at the end of the day, it’s just more fun!

    • marie

      That get’s an Amen AND a Hallelujah from me Miss Marian!! Missed you last week at the in person NYC love fest. But we got another opp for in-person-Forleo-love next week! Keep your eyes peeled for that one xo M

  2. Marie –

    THIS FRIGGIN’ ROCKS!!!! Thank you so much! I’m gonna read this again and again and share it with everybody because 1) it’s so spot on and 2) because it totally cracks me up!


    • marie

      Why thank you Leanne for confirming my good choice 😉

  3. That’s exactly it, I think, Marian. It has to be fun. If you try to niche yourself and you’re not a niche person, it gets boring and you get tired… and it shows.

    I was interviewed once for a piece that ran on Problogger about being “all blogged out,” and I said that it didn’t feel possible, because I can talk about ANYTHING. You can’t run out of that.
    .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

  4. Inconceivable!! I was just writing about being myself not 10 miutes ago!! Yes, I cannot do it the “right” way – I don’t have stuff like that. I am who I am, and I want to help.

    It’s like someone posted the other day, folks don’t but from videos, they buy from YOU.
    Excellent first guest post! Good job!

    • marie

      muchas gracias 🙂 I especially love you “Inconceivable!!”

  5. When I read this I just wanted to shout Hooray! I am so tired of niche sites that provide information that is recycled and shallow. While I still think it is easier for a site to do well if it does focus on one general topic – what makes a site successful is the author’s individual voice and all the unique experiences that he/she brings to the table.

    • marie

      Hey Neena! I agree. And for some folks/online business models, a super tight-niche rocks and is very lucrative. But it’s one of those things that doesn’t work for all people, all the time.

  6. I total get the split personality thing – I often feel that way. Sharing my knowledge about eating healthy with the contrast that its often being healthy to not eat healthy (?). What I mean is – you can eat your cake too! I get the most responses when I talk about real life choices, not a list of “how to be” healthy tips.

    I love what you say about being you, not trapping yourself in a niche, and putting all your cards on the table (and Brad’s abs).

    • marie

      Luuurve it Cydney. And yes, Brad’s abs don’t hurt 😉

    • See, this is where I don’t get it. Brad’s gotta weigh like 135 in that photo. You don’t think he looks emaciated? Dude needs to hit the weights. But then again, maybe this is why I’m not a woman.
      .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

  7. Dang. You hit the nail right on the head. I just launched an online business in February that started as an online magazine, but something in me really just felt like blogging. So I started blogging about what ever the heck I wanted to. And all of a sudden I was getting 20 comments on my posts (way more interaction than before.) Thank you for reaffirming what I’ve been figuring out over the past month!

    • marie

      Nooice Bethany!

      • Umm, I just outed myself as B*tch on my own blog. And have gotten great response 🙂 Thanks again JBT for affirming us being our true selves!

        • And I sent this blog to my boyfriend who, by the way Marie, freaking loves your blog, and he is obsessed with JBT now! Thanks for the guest blogger and the great ideas!

          • Hey, obsession’s good as no rabbits get cooked. I’m down.

  8. Love this. Not a niche person! When I started my blog I felt so much pressure to have a single focus. That was just not happening. But I started. And the focus is coming. But I’m a dancer, mother, wild woman, ….funny. sad. Thrilled. I’m a writer and I love gorgeous hot things. So yeah- I’m just selling me. Thanks a mill for the encouragement.

    • marie

      Yes Megan. The focus, ironcially, actually starts to come when you give yourself permission to wander a bit and try things out. Plus, you find a natural rhythm through engagement and live interaction vs. an arbitrary “idea” of a tight focus your mind “thinks” will be the right one.

      • stephanie*

        Yey Marie! I do not read comments very often, but here it was soo worth it!!!! Luv the thing about giving myself permission to wander a bit and try things out and get so in a natural rhythm, exactyl what i wish…Thanks a lot* Love your answers too 🙂 Swiss Hug! Stephanie. 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I love that I attracted this in the perfect time. I was just feeling like I was niching myself to death — cutting myself into little pieces to get business in such a way that was no longer resembling me. I was trying to figure out how to bring myself together and your post was a perfect example of how to make it work. Thank you!

    • It’s a weird interplay of not-niche and then focus at appropriate times, I think. So for instance, I’m very much “Question the Rules business guy” right now, and not so much humorist or weightlifter, which are two of the things that sometimes show up for me. But once I’m done with my launch (when QTR gets expensive in a few days, and I can back off from promotion), those things will return, I’m sure.
      .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

  10. Wow, you get a lot of comments, Marie.

    Everyone, thanks so far… I’m going to try and hop in and discuss a bit later, but my launch of Question the Rules is currently standing on my neck!
    .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

  11. Kimberly

    I have for so long stood back, conformed to the “rules”, talked appropriately and well…tried to do what everyone else says was “right”. So this post was liberating and inspiring. Since I started to work with Marie, Lisa, and the awesome Rich, Happy and Hot ladies, I realized that I can be 100% me and I can have the business of my dreams. I can use the word “fuck” because that is part of my language, I can be brutally honest and I don’t have to sugar coat anything because let’s face it, that doesn’t help people grow. I can have more than one passion and I can mix them altogether and create something that rocks. I can teach people that they can grasp the world by the balls…all while standing proudly naked, and enjoying chocolate and wine sans the guilt. Some people may call me crazy but I kinda think of myself as inventive. So thank you and I look forward to hearing whatever else you have to say.

  12. Jackie

    Thanks for the wonderful eye-opening blog post! I’d be curious to know what everyone thinks about the whole target market niche thing. In other words… NOT trapping yourself into a niche specialty is good (yes!), but is it better to direct all of your knowledge, experiences, etc. to a specific target market niche?

    Example Q: Is targeting real estate professionals better than targeting all solopreneurs and small business owners (in a case where you personally love working with people in diverse businesses and also of both genders?)

    • marie

      Hey Jackie! It’s VERY wise (and very lucrative) to have a tightly defined target market and niche. It also keeps you focused and sane 😉

      But for many people, like myself, it was impossible for have that clarity right from the start. I really needed to be all over the place in order to 1) be happy. 2) satisfy my ADD nature 3) refine what I was really about – not from my head, but from my heart and experience.

      I’m going to persuade my girl Lisa to come by and share her thoughts too. She’s sooooo good on this topic.

    • I don’t target by industry like that (real estate professionals) at all, really. Part of it is that a lot of what I do (like blog setups) is applicable to people across industries, but part of it is that my target group is MY PEOPLE. So I write for my right people, and the wrong people drop away.

      Basically, I don’t worry about offending people or alienating people, or making jokes that many people won’t get. Anyone who sees what I do and leaves only “purifies” my group as being even more comprised of “my right people.”
      .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

    • Great questions, Jackie! Before I dive into them I want to clarify the very real distinction between target market and niche. The terms are often used interchangeably but they’re not one and the same.

      Your target market is the people you feel called to serve and is all about the demographics…gender, age, income/education level, industry, life roles (wife, mom, etc…).

      Your niche is the services/products you specialize in providing for your target market.

      To take it another step further….your ideal client is all about the personal qualities of the people you most LOVE to work with. They’re your peeps. They’re the ones you really “get” and that really “get” you and freakin’ love you and they’re a subset of ANY target market you might choose.

      Next, I think we need to clarify the whole point of having a target market and niche…cuz it ain’t what many think. 😉

      Your target market and niche aren’t about limiting the work you do and who you do it for….they’re all about how to make your marketing as effective as it can possibly be.

      For your marketing to be really effective you have to know who you’re speaking to (target market)…you have to be able to get inside their heads to gain a deep understanding and appreciation for who they are and what their greatest needs/desires are.

      Once you’ve got that…then it’s time to look at your unique gifts, talents, strengths and expertise (niche) and how you can apply them to best serve your market.

      If you don’t know who you’re speaking to (target market) and how you can help them (niche) it becomes impossible to create content, products, services that are compelling and that will fit their needs/desires.

      Having a tight target market and niche doesn’t mean you can’t blog/talk about everything you love, and it doesn’t mean you can’t do/offer multiple things or broaden your target market and/or niche over time.

      It’s entirely possible to have more than one target market and more than one niche, but if you’re in the early stages of growing your biz and if you don’t want to feel schizophrenic and overwhelmed, then it’s typically better to start with one…get it up and running, establish yourself and then work on building the next.

      This is a really deep topic and could be a post in itself so I’ll wrap it up with this reminder….

      Marketing isn’t about manipulating someone into buying something they don’t want or need.

      Marketing is all about genuinely connecting with those you’re meant to serve and demonstrating how you can help them. It’s really that simple.

      And the best way to do that is to know very clearly who those people are and how you can apply your unique genius to helping them.

      If you can get that level of clarity, Jackie, if you can make it work for you to define your market as entrepreneurs rather than real estate professionals…fab!

      But if not, then you might want to look at something more specific like real estate professionals, or you might narrow it in other ways….to women entrepreneurs, in well-established businesses making six figures+, age 30-50, etc…

      There aren’t really any hard and fast “rules” that are guaranteed to work for everyone, and there are always exceptions to any rule anyway. Ultimately, Jackie do what WORKS for YOU.

      And remember to have fun with it! If you’re not having fun even while working hard, something is off. 😉

      • This is a GREAT summary. Thanks, Lisa!

        • Thanks so much, Allison! I hope you found it helpful.

      • Lisa, thank you for explaining the difference so well.

      • Jackie

        Thanks soooo much Marie, Johnny, and Lisa!

        I’ve been throwing that question around for a while, and this is the first time that I got a truly insightful answer. It feels good to be able to move forward in confidence! Thank you!!!!

  13. A topless Brad Pitt? The only thing that would have gotten me over here faster was a topless Johnny B. Truant!

    But, if he won’t take his shirt off, I’m SO glad he’s on your team of excellent posts, sprinkling “do it your way” smartness here too. This is really excellent stuff!

  14. I’m always relieved when someone tells me I don’t have to follow the rules, because I hate rules. That’s why no office will have me, and I now work from home. (Nobody went for my “come in at noon and stay till I finish my work” plan.)

    As for picking just one thing, I find it interesting that performers have no problem pursuing dance, singing, and acting. They don’t really have the “which one should I do” drama because they know how all three go together. But when it comes to, say, coaching and hip hop, or blogging and pastry cooking, it’s so hard to see how those things will ever merge that people feel they have to choose one and stick with it. In the end, they do come together — as “you.”

    Marie, by the way, not only has clients (including me) who came to her by way of hip hop, but she totally uses her b-girl moves when she’s speaking onstage. She’s the funkiest public speaker I know.

    In my case, I started off trying to pick a theme for my blog: Should it be tips for writers? Lists of things that piss me off? Fantasy fiction about Smurfs smoking crack? A journal of feelings inspired by Real Housewives of NYC? Marie told me yes, it should be all those things. The theme would be me. In fact, Johnny Truant, she pointed to you as an example. So thanks!

    • Testing my gravatar to see if it comes up.

    • Now I really need to see Marie speak. I’ve been trying to learn to break dance (the crazy gymnastic variety). Maybe I could do head spins or something while she’s busting a move.
      .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

  15. Johnny,

    Yeah, awesome.

    I hopped on the Truant Train a month or so ago after catching your stuff through a guest post. It was probably on IttyBiz. This un-business manifesto drives to the core and hits it hard like a pile driver off the top ropes.

    I’m down with it. So down that a few months ago I changed my Twitter bio to: “Personal brand? Screw that. How about just being yourself?” I feel decidedly less fanboy-ish since I changed it before running into your stuff.

    I also started my blog without any real clue as to what I would write about. Having read all the “rules” to successful blogging, I was left a bit paralyzed, until I realized that the most unique thing I can offer the interwebs is me.

    Happy? I wake up that way everyday, except on the days I decide I don’t want to be. Rich? I’ll sort that out with time and ambition. Hot? Not likely, if that old fat/ugly burn holds any water:

    I’m fat? So what, your’re ugly. I can diet and exercise. What’s your plan?

    I don’t really have a “plan”, but I guess that is the point.

    Kick ass stuff, man. Truly kick ass. And now I have another blog to add to my “NOW” file in Google Reader, because Marie’s shit seems pretty kick ass too.

    • I’m trying to decide if you’re fat or ugly in that particular burn. Seriously; I keep reading it. You’re going to have to let me know… it almost sounds like you’re saying you’re fat because you can diet down, but then we get the “not hot” statement.

      I’m really going to need this clarified.

      See all this rule-breaking? Fat/ugly talk kind of is the wrong thing to do with people, but we’re bonding and shit.
      .-= Johnny B. Truant´s last blog ..Interview: Jason Fried from 37 Signals =-.

      • You’re probably right, talking about fat/ugly in “polite” conversation with people ain’t cool, but my mom only ever said anything about not asking if someone was sick or tired:

        “Don’t ever ask someone if they are sick or tired, because if they’re not, where do you go from there?

        To clarify for you, though, I was leaning on ugly…in reference to the whole RHH concept.

        That aside, I am thrilled with two things beyond the post itself: (1) all the killer comments and (2) the fact that you’ve come back around to respond to many of them.

        That is flat-out awesomesauce.

  16. Yup, my kids run with scissors, too.

    This is such cool stuff. For years I’ve avoiding blogging because I had Adult Onset ADD. Can’t focus. Too many things going on. Then one day, I decided to go for it. I still have two blogs and a third that’s resting right now but it’s fantastic to finally let rip. Let out all that stuff. Ahhh, like undoing the button on your pants…Thanks!

  17. As usual, good stuff here on Marie’s blog. And Johnny is such a perfect fit I had to go see his blog and now follow him on Twitter. I am surrounding myself more and more with the people who aren’t about doing things in the traditional way so much as the authentic way or just the moral way, even. I love it and I can’t even begin to go into it. So I’ll just say, good job Marie and Johnny. I’m so glad you exist. 🙂

  18. Definitely awesome stuff! And excellent timing for me as well, as I have been feeling a bit stifled with trying to stay within a niche! Ahhhh, the feeling of freedom to be me and express ME however I choose…. 🙂 I love the idea of just throwing it all out there, talking about whatever you want to talk about and really being yourself, and seeing how things start to focus and come together. Gonna start really playing with this and have some fun now! 😛

  19. You had me up to the “bathe regularly”….

    it is always refreshing to read your stuff Johnny…you don’t blow smoke at anyone. there are so many people trying to spoon feed you bullshit on the internet. Good stuff, I am trying right now to get my writing out there so people will want to buy books based on what they have read in the past.

    • I don’t totally get why people DO blow smoke, actually. It just sets up unrealistic expectations they can’t live up to, and increases refund rates on products.

      I’d rather just shoot straight now and save hassle later.

  20. Hi Johnny and Marie,

    Fun & brill piece! Love the doing it the “wrong” way attitude. I have a gazillion interests that all fan out from the core me, which is inspirational rebel girl! I truly believe that is the way to do it. Let the fab parts of you – face it we’re all multi-faceted – go forth and find audiences that want someone like you. I write and publish essays and newspaper columns, I teach personal essay writing classes, I create gorgeous logos and other marketing items, I sing, I paint, I hold life shops about life awakening, I write real copy, I design the front ends of web sites. I love life!

    Basically, my wild and precious life isn’t divided into work and play me — it’s just me.

    Much thanks for a super post!

    Giulietta, Inspirational Rebel
    .-= Giulietta´s last blog ..What makes you get up in the morning? =-.

  21. Johnny…………

    Get me the BIG KNIFE…….Because of Marie and your post I can now cut away this Stinkin’ notion of Nich-ness and be Free of the Brain washing.

    Un-freakin-BELIEVE-ABLE…….but I mean that in a good way…:)….well done Johnny Bravo !

    I call myself a Jane of all trades Master of None…because my experience is so widely eclectic…if you want advice on Fishing, Cooking, finance, Relationships, infertility,Spirituality, building, cleaning, hormones…etc…I got an experience and opinion and a book on everything…and if I get my info crossed than I can look up the answer for you to back myself up and will admit it.

    I have had coaches literally tell me…….I don’t even know where to start with you and what Niche……..PICK ONE !

    I can’t work with you til you PICK A NICHE….:(

    I say but I don’t want too…I have Internet ADHD…get bored easily and don’t know what is going to float my boat that day that I would want to share about or how to share it………I have something to offer everyone.

    They tell me my blog is not nich-a-fide…….but I say…it is all related………I am about attitude, perspective, perception and mindset…..I apply those principals to everything I do…..that effects outcome. Sometimes seriously and sometimes just fishing and cooking.

    You guys just nailed it for me…I am going to use my Blog, and social Media to get the wiggles out and then Focus on my Coaching on My website……but not be afraid to link back to my blog and social media where I can express myself freely…and not worry about ruining my Branding…… me if it isn’t about connecting with people, effecting their lives in a positive way…….even if that means being a goof ball or admitting weaknesses…having fun……like this post…….then it is just another ineffective JOB !

    Thanks Marie………….for connecting us with Johnny….and for having the gotz to be true to you !

    Katrina Marie

    PS: The Brad pic ain’t to Shabby either…..nice teaser 😉

    • The big knife? Now I’m frightened. But kind of in a good way.

      • Johnny,

        It was meant in a good twisted way…and my lame attempt at humor… reminded me of Johnny Camarreri in Moonstruck…….you’ve got that wolf in you…..
        for some reason I thought you might get the reference…….:)

        Bottom line…thanks for encouraging others to be authentic and unique however that plays itself out in what they want to do…be…or have.

        Even if that means they are totally apple pie and stick with a niche. Just post and present to the world what your comfortable with because that is what YOU want to do even if you mess up people will get the sincerity, relate and respond……that is what I gleamed from your post.

        Thanks again Johnny……………………K

  22. Hi Marie,

    Had the pleasure of meeting you at Mass Control last year & confirming for myself that you are just as awesome in person as you are via your online shenanigans. 🙂

    I connected with what Johnny wrote because I’ve tried doing things the way you’re supposed to & I went broke doing that. That really sucks because you’re not even failing at what you want to try!

    Recently everyone was telling me you can’t write about success secrets. I disagreed because what is common knowledge to one person may be like a secret to someone else who hasn’t been in that environment. & I’ve worked with plenty of huge companies & top entertainers, marketing people etc that I’ve got a unique perspective.

    So, I’m now doing a blog with keywords I am not supposed to be able to win with & I’m already moving up google fast even though the blog looks rough & needs major design help 🙂 But I’m writing honestly & from my wealth of experiences—which is my way of letting people into my world so they can hang with me online & see if they like me.

    I’ve never been happier than from the moment someone I deeply respect told me to be glad I’m not normal, that I don’t fit any mold–to be myself & create my own damn mold. So, like you Johnny and you Marie, that’s what I’m doing even though I’m sure I’ll stumble and fall a lot along the way…it’ll be worth it cuz I’m doing my thing instead of what all the experts think I should be doing.

    So, thanks for letting Johnny sneak in here & shake things up a bit. It obviously was a hit!

    Now I’ve got to convince you to let me be your 2nd guest blogger 🙂



    • The catch-22 is that it’s also quite possible to fail and go broke doing things the “wrong” way too. But because any kind of success means repeatedly getting up after you fall, you’ll get to where you want to go faster and in a bigger, better way if you’re following who you actually are… and if you’re trying to fit someone else’s definition of what’s supposed to be done? Then you can just go in circles over and over, unsure where to go or how really to improve.

      That’s a big part of “Question the Rules,” actually: Figuring out who you are, as one of us weirdoes.

  23. Debbra

    Great for you Johnny B. Truant for breaking all the rules and succeeding by doing so. that’s really fabulous and gives many hope I’m sure. I loved your blog. Thanks for the eye candy even though I hated fight club. I believe a lot of us would like to be as open and honest in our communication with others out in the world as you. This is the thing in business, you say you do all the backwards things, or wrong things and you succeed. It’s not wrong, just a different approach. Your actually drawing them in, but, you already know that. Kudos to you!

    • It’s like in Seinfeld, where George did “the opposite”!

  24. Johnny your timing is impeccable. I’ve been building a new blog– a space where I can JUST BE ME, like you said– a place where there are no rules against being a pole-dancer and a mother, a beer drinker and a Christian, a wife and single momma advocate, a philosopher and an internet marketer– but you know what is holding me back? The thought that “if I want to make it a business I need to identify I niche I fit first”.
    Yeah to you calling that BULLSH*T. (You kinda rescued me from a very frustrating path).

    (There is a good reason I changed majors so many times in college– I had a LOT of different interests! The History of the European Enlightment/Belly Dance 101 student is just the kind of girl I am….It’s yoga one minute, cigarettes the next– not because I have a split personality, but because I genuinely like them both! 😉

    I think I’ll be launching my new site sooner than expected now– thank you for the “permission” to be messy, and all over the place, and STILL GO FOR IT. My dream is to accomplish what you have accomplished: to be the real, multi-interested me, to make a difference in people lives online and be paid well for it.

    P.S. I’ll send you and Marie an invite to check it out when I do– you’ll be seeing tangible results of this “airy/fairy” inspiration. (Not so airy fairy afterall!)

    • It works because the internet is a big place. So people are like you, no matter how all-over-the-place you are, and by being real, they bond with you BIG TIME. You won’t attract everyone this way, but who wants that? You’ll strongly attract the best people for you, and there will be a lot of them in time.

  25. After so many awesome comments, all I can think of to say is “gracias, merci, etc.” The 2 of you have created an amazing synergy with this post. Brava and bravo!

  26. This is brilliant!
    I’ve been wondering if being more transparent and personal on my blog is ‘bad for business’. Thanks for confirming my hunch that being authentic and real is as attractive as it gets.
    xo m.ev

  27. Marie:
    Thank you so much for inviting a guest blogger and always promoting other people’s sites. This is one small part of the reason I keep coming back to you. The other part is that you’re awesome.

    I never met you before but I dig your style. I just created a wordpress blog and I’m trying to be myself but I’m still having an identity crisis. I basically have three projects I’m trying to promote. I get the fact that I can talk about all of my interests in my blog but how do I link to all of my different projects? I have to admit when I just had seperate websites for each of my projects, I felt stronger about promoting them. Now I just feel like everything blends into one and I don’t know what I’m trying to promote. Does that make sense?

    I’d love to hear all three (Lisa included) of your thoughts.


    • I think there’s a balancing act. You’ll tear yourself in three directions promoting three things all literally at the same time, and you’ll confuse people if there don’t seem to be dominant, recurring themes in what you write. So while I WOULD write about chickens in my yard if that happened, I wouldn’t write about chickens today, and why I like the color blue tomorrow, and steak cuts the next day if I had a product I was trying to sell. And I wouldn’t try to talk up all three products at once. I’d focus on one, and leave the others visible but in the background.

      I think you’ll find that balance as you go. You have to be yourself, but keep at least some focus if you’re trying to send people in one particular direction… i.e. to buy something. Remember, you can be as quirky as you want, but you do still have human nature (other people’s human nature) to consider if you’re trying to urge them toward a certain goal. And other people can easily get confused and distracted.

      It’s something you have to learn by trial and error, I think.

  28. stephanie*

    Hey Marie! So good to have some new things *out of your magical hat* 🙂 Thank you for inviting an inspiring personality like Johny! (and once again, Marie, you seem to riding the *universal wave*, it just seems to me, like you are always quite in synchronicity with the themes that are just in the air! Cool!)
    Hey Johny! Thanks for this post. Especially today. I also had an important talk and felt quite stupid about myself during I did it, basically, I was just honest. But I felt very unattractive 🙁
    Well, after I read you (and also after a very very nice dinner with my family), I can see all quite differently and from a new point of view.
    YEY!!! Thank you for sharing the love.

    • Yep, yep… a lot of this seems to be saying, “I’m going to do my best, and I’m an imperfect person, but fuck it.” I started thinking more about doing my best and less about doing someone else’s impression of what “the best” would be. Bring your A game, but don’t redefine it to be someone else’s A-game. That sort of thing.

  29. Melody

    Haha! You have the cool factor JBT. That’s why you are already hot.

    It just happened that you listened to a smart woman and now you are on fire!!!

    Thanks for sharing. Melody

  30. Hi Johnny & Marie,

    Great post & i have to say hot damm – i was about to write the same thing as

    MorganDayCecil April 28, 2010 at 3:38 pm
    “…Johnny your timing is impeccable. I’ve been building a new blog– a space where I can JUST BE ME, like you said– a place where there are no rules against being a pole-dancer and a mother, a beer drinker and a Christian….. Yeah to you calling that BULLSH*T. (You kinda rescued me from a very frustrating path)….”

    Except for the mother thing, (obviously) & the pole dancing – Hmmm – now there’s a niche! male, hetro-sexual pole dancers….. eweew… lets not go there – nasty.

    so Thanks for the reassurance that it can work being multi-faceted instead of pigeon-holing ourselves into niche straitjackets!

    & Marie – Can us knuckle draggers (males) request you to do a ‘program’ for us?

  31. Johnny B Truant, I’ve been talking about you and your blog a lot lately. Love your angle. Marie, thanks for having this silly bird on your blog. Yes, as someone who is an artist, an author, a filmmaker, a start-up coach for moms, an information marketer, and more… I am totally in the non-niche camp. You simply can’t throw our types into a box. However, I do think that you can have niche products while being yourself, which is a little twist on this theme. Thoughts?

    The deal is… you can talk about all sorts of things on your blog and be real and authentic and follow your truth and all of these trendy terms that are springing up everyday like mushrooms, but what it all boils down to is not trying to be anything that you aren’t (was that a double or triple negative? ie: be who you are).

    It’s the same thing when you go to a party. If you are trying to be someone you are not, you will probably turn people off. But if you are yourself and you are confident in who you are… you will attract the right people. Same thing in biz.

    So, well done! Lovin’ it~ Thank you!

    • Totally. Marie’s dance/exercise videos don’t include any internet marketing at all… they’re totally “niched” toward dance or exercise. And Question the Rules is niched in that it’s for people who think the idea of being “punk rock” in business and life is apt, or fun, or whatever. You niche BY being unique and multipassionate, I think. People get the product for to address a specific interest or issue, but they like that that product was made by someone who isn’t ALL ABOUT THAT SPECIAL INTEREST ALL THE TIME. Does that make sense?

  32. Thnak you for this Marie and Johhny!

    Becasue I think I have to be “on-topic” in my blog, I can never write anything interesting becuase I’m NOT an on-topic person. Random stuff is me, and I’ve just realised that what I do does not have to dictate who I am, and If I just share what I like etc no matter how random, problem solved. Radical!

    You both rock!

  33. Holy shit, where have you two been all my life?

  34. Thank you Marie and Johnny!!

    Read this post first thing this morning and it TOTALLY helped me get my ass in gear to write my latest blog post about MADONNA.

    I’ve been feeling totally stuck about “blogging for my business.” I’d been feeling guilty and “wrong” for wanting to write about things, like Madonna and , that I didn’t think pertained too much to my biz so I wasn’t writing them. Truthfully, I wasn’t writing too much at all.

    Johnny, your bit about the “Christmas is Gay” blog post was enough for me to saw f*ck this and start writing what I want to read!!

    Thank you SOOO much for sharing.

    • That post still feels ballsy to me every time I look at it. I think a good post should make you a little nervous. If it doesn’t, it’s safe. And safe is boring.

  35. Un-selling and un-guarantee – I love it!

    How much more transparent can you get? How much more like REAL life can you get? I think it’s fanfreakontastic to see smart folks like johnny taking down that “buy this magical push button system and your life will change forever as you swim in your Scrooge McDuck vault of money” mentality.

    YOU are the only “button”. YOU are the only “guarantee”. If you don’t get up and keep pushing yourself it’s a guaranteed that nothing will happen.

    Actually, there are two guarantees. Blue paint will always paint your bottom blue and and Johnny will give a kiss (and maybe even $$$) to anyone that says something nice about him 🙂

  36. Hey, that was an awesome post! I love that you give me the permission to be my crazy self. I have so many things I’m passionate about and was once told I’d have to create aliases to write all that multi-faceted content. But somewhere deep inside, I knew all I wanted was to be authentic. And now I know it’s ok to be just that. Thanks for that, Marie and Johny. Love you guys! <3 🙂

  37. Katie Borchardt

    Ha!! That’s so awesome!! I waste so much time trying to be who I think I need to be instead of just being myself. This post is a great wake-up call for life!! Friggin’ get out of your head and start letting ‘you’ shine through…my new mantra. 🙂 Thanks Johnny and Marie!! -Katie

  38. Just wrote a follow up post to this: (ya’ll are awesome).

    • marie

      Dudette! I had no idea you did a new site!!! Some major redesign happening and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. You da bomb woman. xox M

  39. Love, love, love this! Thank you so much for the breath of fresh air. (I think I’ve been holding my breath too long.) I’ve struggled for years to find a niche; can never seem to nail one because I’m interested in so many things and helping people in so many different ways. I’m working on launching an new site and am totally re-inspired to just say “Screw it!” and be myself.

  40. Fucking, Brilliant, Johnny & Marie! A blogimonial! AWESOME!! You two rock (as do all of us multi-passionate entrepreneurs)!! 😉 ♥ Katherine
    Life Blossoming Systems etc.

  41. Wow – awesome! Loved it!

  42. Ugh, “niche” is a 4-letter word in my book. Since starting to work with Marie, I’ve exploded all my interests – artist, athlete, dancer, creator, spiritual explorer, traveler…it’s all ME! And I’m tired of being a NICHE! That word has kept me stuck and broke for far too long. No more!

  43. I can’t tell you how happy I am to find models of other people reveling in being multi-faceted!

    Marie, although I didn’t actually *pray* I could just be interested in one thing, I’ve frequently wished it. But it’s just not me! Mom’s been calling me a Renaissance Woman for years, then I noticed friends and strangers doing so as well, and I finally decided to really claim the title as my own. (Now I’m thinking I like Multi-passionate (thanks for that!) Creative Artrepreneur even better.)

    And the truth is, if I look back at the times when my life has been most in the Flow, it’s when I’m fully honoring myself, in all my multi-passionate, multi-faceted glory.

    Thanks for the reminder and validation, Johnny! (And thanks for Question the Rules, which introduced me to Marie! Score!)
    .-= Melissa Dinwiddie´s last blog ..The First Month of Building My Empire: EBK Review =-.

  44. I saw that Marie had a new post the day it went up, but waited to read it until I could be fully present and take it all in – because I knew it would be good! Was it ever! I laughed out loud and was totally comforted. Love it! Thanks, Marie and Johnny!
    .-= Amber McCue´s last blog ..Why Partners Rock My World =-.

  45. Being online and selling youself is a great art. Your Niche talent is no more confined to limited arena. Am a Hip Hop dance trainer, NYC.

  46. Wow. I’m so glad to find this website and blog. Marie, I’m in love with what you’re doing.
    Definitely inspirational,



  47. Great post Johnny! Marie I like your blog and I like you! I love your un traditional approach and you definitely put the fun in Online Marketing. Very glad I found you through Katie Freiling!

  48. Shoulda read this post about a week ago. I’ve been struggling with the issue of keeping my site all about pilates, clean eating, and changing your mindset…when in reality all I’m thinking about is a set list for the new band I’m joining, playing World of Warcraft, how I’m meeting really cool people through Marie and Laura Roeder…and breathing heavy over the ipad.

    I’m about to totally out myself as the pilates instructor by day – geek by night (all the time).

    Thanks for the inspiration.:)

  49. Hi Marie,

    I am SO excited about my new blog, and very jazzed about having found your site! You offer so much helpful advice, and last night after reading many of the posts and watching some of the videos here, I entered epiphany-ville! Thank you for being an inspiration and for making me realize that like Dorothy leaving Oz, I have ALWAYS had the power!!! Looking forward to making more contacts here, and if you get a chance, check out my blog. I would welcome any constructive criticism/feedback. You ROCK!


  50. Marie, thank you so much for asking Johnny to write this guest blog, and thank you, Johnny, for writing it. It is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. Thanks also, both of you, for being beacons of light in this new wave of authenticity and multifaceted-ness. You are wonderful way-showers.

  51. I’m late to the party for everyone who commented since my last comment, so I wanted to say briefly: Thanks for the kudos, and really glad you enjoyed it!

    (I can say that because nobody thus far has said, “This post is terrible and you suck.”)

  52. Thea

    I love the concept of just being who you are…for so long I have tried to fit into various boxes, morphing to try to fit the situation/job…I always told my husband…”someday people will pay me for just being me”…although I haven’t yet figured it out, I can feel it in my bones…this resonates completely…thank you!

  53. Bathe regularly?

    Now, that’s some really sound advice 🙂

  54. This is by far one of THEEEEE best posts I’ve EVER read IN MY LIFE concerning being authentic. Thanks Marie for allowing Johnny to post this on your site. 🙂

    So many people teach that we should be ourselves, but then they add so many constraints it’s confusing. “Don’t post this on Facebook.” “Always be professional…” “Find one thing to focus on, you don’t want to confuse your readers…” Meanwhile, you’re forcing yourself to fit into one crappy box, and sinking deeper into a pit of confusion. Or maybe that’s just me…

    Thanks for showing us “scatterbrains” with multiple passions that it’s OK to do 7 things at once, say some unconventional things, and break all the “rules.” Reading your testimony is freaking encouraging! As cliche as this statement is, “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I’m not.” But um…hopefully there will be more people on the love side though…LOL.

    Thanks again man! You’re pretty fantabulous!! (You too Marie, but you already know that…)

  55. Thanks, Thea! The thing to remember is that you’re trying to create fans as much as you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert in something. It’s good for people to know what you’re about, but I’m not a fan of it being so “niche” — like “the e-book guy” or something. Aren’t we all more complete personalities than that?

    Glad you dug it. 🙂

  56. Joe P

    “This post is terrible and you suck.” There I said it, OK?

    and this is why I LIKE what you said…it is what I have in my head all the time. LOTS of different stuff that makes me…ME!

    Seriously, Your post was great and you dont suck all that much.

    Take care and keep it real.

  57. Johnny that was a great read. Thanks for your input and honesty. It will surely help me as this is the path I am on, and sometimes question if I have too many different color balls juggling in the air at one time – well now I know the answer is – no! Keep juggling and keep those balls swirling around. I have one blog and on it I just write what ever tha f… I want ; its call and it is a blog about blogging or so it started, now it is what ever pops into my head that day and I find of interest. I write about it, post a video, images, what have you. Thanks for the read- wish you well. Still waiting on the five-figures but i know they are out there. H. Thomas Gillis

  58. Ros

    Thanks, Johnny.

  59. shara

    I know it’s been said before, but where have you two been all my life?! No, seriously, this is awesome. I’ve been taking ‘niche’ too seriously and then became too generic to include everything, and now I learn there’s a balance. I’m gonna go Eat, Pray, Love on my biz plans now 😉 Thank you. To be real, not just one awesome thing all the time, but many awesome things when I feel like it. This really helps clear some major headaches up.

  60. “This post is terrible and you suck.” There I same it, OK?

    and this is often why i prefer what you said…it is what I even have in my head all the time. a lot of totally different stuff that creates me…ME!

    Seriously, Your post was nice and you dont suck all that a lot of.

    Take care and keep it real.

  61. This is the inspiration I was needing! I just finished my first week of blogging and am feeling like MY thoughts are everywhere and personal. From the standard blog type, I thought I wasn’t right. My goal is to be who I am and hopefully be successful. Thank you for this content!

    • Caroline - Team Forleo

      We’re so glad to hear that — thank you for tuning in, Kristin! 🙂

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