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In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Knowing that the world will constantly scare you and saying, “You know what, I’m going to wake up today and I’m going to do that thing that makes me uncomfortable and anxious, but I know that it is for something bigger than me.”

Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and welcome to another episode of Marie TV and The Marie Forleo Podcast. Now look, if you’re somebody who gets held back by fear, you know, you want to do things, you want to say things, but you’re completely afraid of what might happen if you actually do, today’s show is going to change your life. Luvvie Ajayi Jones is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and podcaster, who thrives at the intersection of comedy, media, and justice. She’s the co-creator of the #ShareTheMicNow global movement and host of the podcast, Professional Troublemaker. Her debut book, I’m Judging You, was a New York Times bestseller, and her new book, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual, is available now. 

Luvvie, oh my goodness. Okay so, before we even get into it, everybody, I have to tell you the other night I’m reading Luvvie’s book, and I literally had to stop reading it and I picked up my phone and I started texting her with a lot of expletives because that’s who I am and that’s what I do. Like, this book? Okay, my friend, I have to tell you, first of all, congratulations. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Thank you.

Marie Forleo: Second, I have a weird spidey sense about me.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Okay.

Marie Forleo: A little bit of intuition. I’ve done this a few times in the past.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes. 

Marie Forleo: I got so many chills on this book. I am predicting such huge things…

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Oh my God.

Marie Forleo: …for you, your career, but also the people who get the benefit of reading your words. Like, you have taken it to such a new level. I’ve read your first book. I love you. I adore you. I respect you. And as I shared in my text, you went to a whole new place in this. And so I just have to bow down and just let you know.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Listen. Listen, that text message made my heart smile. I was like, “Oh my God.” To get that reflected back to me is so meaningful in such a big way, because, you know, sometimes you create something, you don’t know if it’s… I mean, you know it’s good. But then when somebody is like, “No, no, no, no let me tell you how good.” And I knew you were serious because you cussed in it. And I was like, “Yes, yeah.”

Marie Forleo: It’s, I have so many underlines. I have, I mean, we could have this conversation, but, but I also, like you, I’m a big marketer and I don’t shy away from that. I want people to get the damn book. So we’re going to talk about some pieces, but we’re going to leave a lot out because you need to read it yourself and get those feelings and those insights for you. So let’s start off just at the top. What inspired you to write this one? Why did you want to put this out after I’m Judging You?

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yeah, I was, when I was trying to figure out like, “What is my second book going to be about?” I think I knew I didn’t necessarily want to write a sequel to I’m Judging You. I’m not writing I’m Judging You two. I’m still judging you. Right? But I still am judging us. But I, I sat on it for a bit and I was just like, “I don’t know what book two’s going to be but I think I’m going to get the idea and it’s going to be clear when I get it.” And I remember I was on a flight to Paris for a speaking engagement when I got this idea and the line that came to my head was I come from a long line of professional troublemakers, my grandmother was one. It came to me when I was boarding my flight and I literally took a pad out and I wrote it down. I was like, “This is my book.” But it was after a bit of trying to figure out what is the thing that I want to say to people in the next thing that I put, the next 80,000 words? And it was right in front of me. You know what happens? When we doubt what’s right in front of us, because it’s too easy, because we are like, “That can’t be it?”

Marie Forleo: Yes. Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: We spend a lot of time doing that. And I realized I do that all the time. What was right in front of me this whole time was my TED Talk. So I have a TED Talk that’s called Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable that went viral. It’s had 5 million views at this point, over 5 million views. I said no to the TED Talk twice because I didn’t think I was ready for it. When Pat Mitchell invited me to do this talk, I was like, “No, I’m too busy.” It was right after book one came out.

It was six months after book one came out and I was like, “I’m still doing a lot of speaking. TED takes a lot of attention. I’m not ready for that. I don’t have time to even get coached for that.” And I, and I turned Pat down once. Then I turned her down again when she’s like, “Oh, we’re going to do a panel at TED with a lot of your friends like Glennon Doyle, and you should come on the panel.” And I was like, “I’m not going to have time because I’m on a 10 city tour with Glennon.” But I also had extra speaking engagements on top of that. So I said no again to Pat Mitchell.

And three weeks before TED, I was like, “Oh snap, I can, I can go for the first day. I’m going to go cheer on my friends.” I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to be there for a day. I’m going to say hi to my friends. I’m going to be in the audience clapping for them.” So I emailed Pat Mitchell and I said, “Can I just get a day pass to TED?” And Pat replied back and said, “If you can come to TED, I want you to speak.” And I was like, “Pat, that’s actually nuts. We’re three weeks out from TED. I can’t speak at TED.” She was like, “No, if you’re going to be able to be there, even if it’s for a day, I want you to speak.”

And I was about to turn Pat Mitchell down for a third time. And I called one of my friends Unique, and I said, “I’ve been asked to do this TED Talk. I’ve already turned it down twice. She’s asking me for a third time. And this time she’s asking me three weeks before TED. You know, everybody else who’s speaking has had four months to prepare, they’ve had coaches.” And Unique said, “Well, everybody’s not you. All the things that you’ve been doing have prepared you for this moment. So I need you to get off my phone and go write your talk and kill it.”

And that’s why I said yes to the TED Talk that changed my life after saying no to it twice. And I realized I get messages every day from people all over the world who said, “I watched your TED Talk. I saw you. And you gave me the courage to do something that felt bigger than me. You gave me the courage to say yes to something that I wouldn’t have.” And my own journey to that TED Talk was exactly what that was. I had said no to a yes opportunity. So when it, when I had that idea of professional troublemaker, the first words of my TED Talk were, “I am a professional troublemaker.” And just the message of we spend a lot of time doubting ourselves, doubting what’s possible for us, being afraid of who we are, all our bigness, all our potential. And we usually operate from a place of fear.

I operated from a place of fear when it came to that TED Talk, I talked about it in the TED Talk, and my whole life, my journey has been about the moments when I have had the courage, the audacity to say yes to what scared me. So when I felt that conviction, I was like, “That’s what I need to write my book about. That’s what I need to tell people about.” The… My story, my grandmother’s story, how life is so scary, it will not stop being scary, but how do we push past it to build the life of our dreams or the life that we didn’t even think to dream about? And that’s why I wrote Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual.

Marie Forleo: It’s so good. You know, there’s so much that I relate to you on. First of all, your stories about your grandmother are incredible. This year I lost my grandmother. She is, she’s a firecracker. She was a…

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: She is causing trouble in heaven absolutely right now, causing ruckus. Right?

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes. Her and my, her and my grandmother probably besties. Yes.

Marie Forleo: Yes. I’m telling you, can’t tell her nothing. I’ll tell you a very quick story. She’s just a rebel. You know, she was down in Florida before she passed and she got to the point where, you know, she should not be operating motor vehicles, but the, the public bus would take her to the grocery store and they would say, “Oh, would you like to get on one of those little buggies or whatever, and you can go drive around?” And every single time, Luvvie, she would get on the little Jazzy and she would drive straight into the whole display of cans and knock it over. She’s like, “They knew I was going to do it. They still let me.” And it’s just like, but it was such a thrill to see, everybody was like,

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: “What are you doing, professional troublemaker?” 

So for those of us, and I want to say I’m going to be reading you a lot of your brilliant words throughout this conversation because I have so many highlights and I need to just drop them and let you expound on the gems that you’ve dropped on us in this book because it’s just that good. I literally, again, I wanted to throw this book against the wall in the best way. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: Do you know how something so good? And you’re like, “I need to squeeze it. I want the eyeballs to pop out. I want to wrestle with it.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: “I want to slap it because it’s that good.” 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: That’s how I feel about your book. So…

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: And think you get what I mean by that.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I do.

Marie Forleo: You wrote, “It’s a life of, ‘I might be afraid, but I won’t let it stop me.’ Professional troublemakers recognize that the fear is real and that it’s an everlasting hater, but it must be tackled.” I love that. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: So can you define professional troublemaker for us and for anyone that might be wondering, how does that differ from just a garden variety shit-stirrer? You know what I mean? 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: From just being like, “I’m just going to cause some ruckus.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: A professional trouble maker is a disruptor and a change maker for the greater good. They’re not just the people who are throwing bombs in a room. They’re not just the people who are making people uncomfortable for the sake of it, right? They’re not just the people who’re just like, “You know, I’m just going to make… I’m just going to annoy somebody today.” They’re the people who speak truth, who are almost unable to bow in a world that’s constantly asking for it, and who feel deeply passionate about making sure that they make this world better than they found it. And they will do it in the way that they know how, and usually, it is with the truth. It is with challenging people and systems and ideas that are not okay.

It is with knowing that the world will constantly scare you and saying, “You know what, I’m going to wake up today and I’m going to do that thing that makes me uncomfortable and anxious, but I know that it is for something bigger than me.” So yeah, they’re not the haters. They’re not just contrarians. They’re not just, you know, shit-starters. And they are people who feel this deep sense of obligation to the people around them, to the world that they live in, and are like, “You know, sometimes I might have to put myself on the line, but I’m going to do it because it’s worth it for justice.”

Marie Forleo: Yes. I love how much emphasis in the beginning of the book you put on the power of knowing and being our fullest selves. And I’ll be honest with you, you know, so many times, Luvvie, I get interviewed by people like, “How are you so confident?” And I’m like, “A, I’m not. B, I still struggle sometimes with going like, ‘God, am I being too much?’.” You know? Am I being too much? Am I overpowering? So there’s so much to talk about. You write, “To know who we are is to insist on knowing we are not what others put on us. We are not the names people call us, we are not our worst moments. Don’t let people who can’t even spell your name right tell you who you are.” 

That one had me cackling, because I can’t tell you how many times, “Maria.” I’m like, “Really? Really?”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Really?

Marie Forleo: Like, even folks who are paying me very good money to teach them things, you know, are calling me Maria. Anyway. I would love if you could tell us about Oríkì, did I pronounce that right? 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Oríkì. 

Marie Forleo: Yeah, Oríkì. Great. And the power of being crystal clear on who we are and that tradition behind that.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yeah. So Oríkì is a Yoruba tradition where it is basically a mantra that connects you back to your past, your ancestors, it reminds you of who you are. It’s sang in celebrations that you have, you know, birthdays, weddings, because Nigerians love the party Tuesday, just because they feel it. You know, you talk to the right person, they might just drop your Oríkì on you real quick for no reason. And it’s really important because to the point of when I’ve also been asked that, I remember getting off a stage one day and when I keynoted a conference and somebody walks up to me and was like, “How are you so self-assured?” Because they were like, “You have this grounded energy.” And I was just like, “I don’t know.” I didn’t know how to answer it then, I didn’t know how to answer them then, but now I know, because I’m very clear who I am. 

And a lot of times people will shake us and move us away from who we are or call us something and we’ll internalize that and say, “Yeah, you’re right. I am this thing.” But I need us to define who we are. And that’s what Oríkì does for you in advance. It will tell you, remember who your parents are, remember where you come from, remember what you hold dear. And it was important to me to put that in the beginning of the book, because for us to exist in this world when we don’t know who we are, we’re not grounded in who we are, we’re in constant state of flux. We’re constantly being punished because, you know, humans can be trash. Right?

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: One thing humans are really amazing at is othering each other. We’re so good at that.

Marie Forleo: That’s what we do. We do.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: We’re so good at making somebody else feel bad. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: We’re so good at insulting each other and being like, “This is not, you’re not good enough.” 

Marie Forleo: Yeah.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: So, it is our jobs and our bodies to insist on who we are, even when somebody is calling us something opposite. And that is for me is my guiding light, my, my compass. In my worst moments, that is my guiding light. This is who I am. I am clear about it. Doesn’t matter what somebody says about me. I am still this person. And adults, we don’t realize that we never got the practice of standing in who we are. 

So when another adult sees you and says, “Wow, you’re so confident.” It’s like, “Am I not supposed to be?” It’s because so many people aren’t, it’s because we’ve been beat up by the world. We’ve been told we’re not good enough, is we’ve been told that we’re stupid or we’re too fat or too skinny, or we’re too this thing. And next thing you know you’re kind of lost. You’re like, “Okay, I guess I am that.” So knowing who you are prevents you from, from being told who you are by random people.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: People who can’t spell your name right, people who just would not be in the same room with you, people who you would not break bread with. So yeah.

Marie Forleo: I love to, because I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan and I did a version of what you teach us all to do in the book, which I love that you have that formula. Right before I came out with Everything is Figureoutable, and I decided to do this Beyonce book tour launch, I was like, “Okay, I’ve never put on a concert before. And I got to launch a book and I’m totally out of shape cardio-wise,” I literally, Luvvie, I wrote myself this thing on my phone and would look at it every day. And I was like, “You are the breaker of chains.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: It was hilarious, but it works. And I just want to thank you for putting that because not only is it fun as hell, but we need to do that. And you’re 100% right. No one ever teaches us this.

And so you feel a ping pong ball around the world. And I feel like, you know, with social, especially these, these past years, and you and I, we’re similar in this way. It’s like we’ve been on the internet a long time. When I started my business in 1999, which… crazy, right? It’s like we didn’t have all these social, we didn’t have any social media at all. And so now it’s this constant potential to compare yourself or to hear feedback. And if you aren’t grounded in who you are, you are 100% right, man it can get really easy to get lost. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes. 

Marie Forleo: Crazy, right? You’re like, “God, am I this? Am I that?” It’s like, “No.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: No. 

Marie Forleo: So I want to talk about too muchness. You write, “Can you imagine if someone walked up to you and to your face said, ‘I need you to be less,’ you’d clutch your pearls and be offended. But that is what they’re saying when they say you’re too much. They’re just saying it in a less accusing and more shaming manner, so you take it to heart. Any place that demands you to shrink is a place that will suffocate your spirit and leave you gasping for air.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: Have you been told you too much most of your life?

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Absolutely. You know, I show up as who I am, no matter what room I’m in, and even if I’m not told to my face, I’ve definitely been told in different ways, right? People wouldn’t necessarily say, “You’re too much.” They’ll just say it in different ways. It might be how they look at you. It might be them reporting you to HR after you make a, you know, make a statement in a meeting. It might be them saying, “You know what? Just be, just be quiet.” You know? So there’s different ways that people can tell you that you are too much. And in my life I found that usually the thing that is too much about me is typically my superpower. Right? The thing that people want you to quell, the thing that they want you to be less of, it’s typically the thing that you are gifted at.

So I used to grow up, when I was growing up, I got in trouble for my mouth. I didn’t get in trouble for climbing trees. I got in trouble because I would be saying something to somebody about what I didn’t like that they did or what wasn’t fair. And I’m just like, “That same thing that got me in trouble, is what now allows me to take a stage and be on a TED Talk stage and get 5 million views.” That same voice, that same mouth, that same boldness is what now allows me to make a living that I would have never thought about. So when we’re accused of being too much, I’m always like, “You know, a lot of it is not even our business. A lot of it has nothing to do with us or what we did. A lot of it is other people projecting themselves on us or where they failed on us.” So our jobs is to recognize those moments, figure out what to internalize, what to receive as constructive feedback, and move forward.

Marie Forleo: Yeah. You know what? I actually want to dig into that a little bit deeper because I loved that you broke it down in the book because people will ask. And I think it’s a, it’s a fair question. Taking the other side of the coin, if folks right now are listening or watching and they’re wondering, “Okay, Luvvie, but what if? Right? What if I am acting a fool in some kind of way? What if I am being a particular way that they’re rightfully calling me out for being a little too much or whatever it is, how can we distinguish whether or not something is valid?” Or, as you call it, pure compost and trash?

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Sentient sewage. You have to ask yourself a series of questions about who is, who is bringing this to you and how. What is their motivation? I break it down more in the book, but it’s like who, the person who’s bringing this to you matters, but also keeping in mind that sometimes they actually will be people who care about you. And that’s when it usually will cut through the most. If it’s like your mom says it to you or somebody that’s related to you says it to you, but you also have to figure out what they’re carrying that made them bring that to you. And again, maybe you are too loud in the library. Yes. But are you being too loud by raising an objection about an idea that happened in a room that you thought the idea was thoughtless, right? 

Are you being too loud in the moment when you’re saying, “Hey, don’t say this joke about this person.” You, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s things you have to kind of run through your own filter…

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: …to give credence to, or not. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Because again, I think we’ve spent a lot of time giving credence to a lot of people’s ideas about us, so much time, without also now checking ourselves and being like, “But do I feel bad about what I did that caused them to give me this criticism?”

Marie Forleo: Yes. And I love… I have the three questions written down just for anyone to walk themselves through. If they’re like, “I really want to take a deeper look at this objectively.” You have one, is this hindering my personal growth? Two, is this harming someone else? And three, is this critique coming from someone who loves and respects me? And of course, you go deep into each of those questions and how to kind of parse through that. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yep.

Marie Forleo: But I wanted to just at least top level outline that.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes.

Marie Forleo: Because I think it’s so incredibly valuable. In my life, I often tell people this, especially when they ask me about criticism and this is the truth up until now, I have never received a piece of hurtful criticism from anyone that I love and respect, anyone who I admire their work, anyone who I really appreciate who they are, how they carry themselves in the world, has never slung a piece of just harsh, hurtful, demeaning criticism my way. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yep. Correct.

Marie Forleo: Even if people have an opinion to share or they’re like, “Hey, I just wanted to share this with you. Something for you to consider.” It never comes through with a, with, you know what I mean, with a knife, not with a knife’s edge.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes. That’s a great point. That is actually a really good point. It doesn’t mean that people who love and respect you won’t bring great criticisms to you.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: It is the how that they will bring it. They’re not coming to cut off your head. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: They’re coming to be like, “I am saying this because I’m expecting you to grow from it.” 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: They’re not something to be like, “I want you to be in the fetal position after I walk away from you.” 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: They’re not going to that. People who love you will not do that. 

Marie Forleo: That’s right.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: And if it makes you want to be in a fetal position, that’s something you also have to figure out like, “Why am I taking it so bad?” But to your point in that, the how, oh my God. Your friends, your friends can check you, your family can check you, but they’re not going to do it in a way that breaks your spirit.

Marie Forleo: That’s right. And that’s a very big difference. And I think that it’s so important and it’s one of the best things about getting older. You know, stuff that I used to just think was, you know, “Oh gosh, this is just how people act,” you know, in your late teens or early 20s, and then you just start maturing. And you’re like, “There’s a whole different way to be. There’s a whole different way to be.” 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Because, I mean, in our 20s we were all trash. Let’s…

Marie Forleo: Yeah. 100%.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: You have a rite of passage to be trash in your 20s, it is a lifetime rite of passage. That is the, that is the, that is the decade where you can be a raving dumb ass, because you’re finally an adult, even though you’re not really one, right? You’re not going to high school. There’s nobody who’s on your back that’s like, “Have you completed this thing?” The 20s is your first real decade of autonomy. So, that decade exists for you to mess up in multiple ways so you have stories to tell in your 30s. You get to look back and be like, “Thank God for growth.” Thank God for it. Because, yeah.

Marie Forleo: Oh my goodness. Yes, no. The fact that I even survived, it’s kind of amazing. You know, one of the other things, again, so many times there’s laugh-out-loud moments in your book, but I just love how much you love and appreciate, and tell me if I’m wrong in this, but you’re like, “I’m petty.” And you will go there for a second. And then you’re like, “But I’m mature now, I’m going to pull it back.” And then you’re like, “But I need to sprinkle a little bit in.” You had me laughing so hard. And I just, it was so endearing and I love you so much for it because, you know, people will sometimes ask, they’ll be like, “Marie, you’re always so positive.” I’m like, “I don’t post everything I think on the internet.” And, because I am not… You know? It was just like, I’m like, “Oh God, Luvvie.” I love you so much because it’s just all there.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: We’ve got to be able to… We’re all petty. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: That’s the thing. Anybody who, who says they’re not petty is not being truthful.

Marie Forleo: They’re not telling the truth. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: They’re not telling the truth. Also, if you can’t be petty, what can you be? Petty is a piece that’s necessary because sometimes people do things that you just have to side-eye them over or be like, “Come on.” And sometimes you realize you’re being that person who needs to be side-eyed. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: And one thing I am to thine own self be true. I know myself above all else. I’ll tell you all my flaws first because I am very clear what they are. And being petty… I’m not going to stop being petty. Let’s also be clear. 

Marie Forleo: You kept saying, “Jesus isn’t done with me yet.” And I’m like, “I love you.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Jesus is not done with me yet. I am a work in progress. I never take myself too seriously, even as I’m writing this book. I’m like, “Listen, I’m a hot mess, I am a hot mess who’s learning a lot and I’m always sharing and learning out loud, hot mess express. Ain’t no shame about it, because I will continue to be a hot mess. Don’t expect me to be anything but a hot mess who happens to be growing.” Right?

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I am a growing hot mess.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: But I am way better than I was in my 20s.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: That’s why this book exists. Like, way better. I was a douche in my 20s. And we have to be able to say that. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: We have to be able to be honest with each other and with everybody out loud. I think, and as public figures and people who are more visible…

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: …that vulnerability is necessary because we happen to fall and trip in spite of and because of ourselves…

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: …on massive platforms.

And our work has connected with millions of people and people see us in a certain way, but I’m always like, “I don’t belong on a pedestal. Do not put me there.”

Marie Forleo: Correct.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I do, I will disappoint you. I will fall off it. I will do something ridiculous because I’m a human who is petty…

Marie Forleo: Yep.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: …in all her hot mess glory, have all my random baggage. I just happened to have hundreds of thousands of people watching me. 

Marie Forleo: Yep.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: So doesn’t mean I have everything figured out.

Marie Forleo: Correct.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: It means I’m sharing what I have learned, but on the way there, do not make me a hero or an icon because you will set me up for failure.

Marie Forleo: Correct. I remember, especially, I was so insecure when I started, by the way, I don’t know who the hell I think I was. I think the, I think the inner spirit of me knew who I was, but in my 20s, like as a 23-year-old life coach, who the hell’s going to hire… What was I thinking? I hadn’t even lived life yet. I had piles of debt. Talk about hot mess. I had failed at all the jobs I had. Anywho. I remember I distinctly would tell my clients, I said, “Look, I am no sage from the stage. I am a guide on the side. I am learning, I am growing.” But I love what you said this whole thing of holding people up on pedestals. I’m like, “Y’all.” Even with Everything is Figureoutable, people are like, “Oh, so you’re saying you have everything figured out.” I’m like, “Hell no.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: No. No.

Marie Forleo: It’s literally just a little phrase that helps me every day to figure stuff out.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes. Yes. That’s exactly it. It’s like we don’t, we, we are set up to fail. We are set up to fail because people do think… I, I never call myself an expert at anything. I am amazing at certain things. I know what my gifts are. I know I’m an amazing writer. I’m an amazing marketer. I’m an amazing storyteller. I will never call myself an expert because to call yourself an expert is to say you have no other room to grow, that you have reached the pinnacle of this thing. You’ve learned all there is to learn about this thing. I don’t ever call myself an expert, it’s not because I’m being humble, it’s because I am always committed to getting better at whatever that thing is. So when I call myself an expert, it means I can no longer get better at it. I’m no expert at anything. The only thing I’m an expert at is probably my side-eye. I’m amazing, like, my side-eye’s pretty intense. I am an expert at giving a side-eye. So you know what? I will say that one. 

Marie Forleo: You’re like, “I got no more room to grow there.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I have no room to grow there.

Marie Forleo: So let’s talk about, I think one of your favorite things to draw in life, which is lines, boundaries. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I love them.

Marie Forleo: That was, when I was reading, so I woke up, it was like four o’clock this morning. So, by the way, okay, I have to tell you this little sidebar story. So, before your book came in, Josh, my man, we’re going to be together 18 years in less than a month. He always calls me, he’s like, “You’re being such a troublemaker right now.” If I’m a little sassy, or I’m a little… You know what I mean? Poking him or just trying to get something started. And so he comes up the stairs in our house and I’m tucked in bed. And this is what he sees. He’s like, “Do you really need that book?” He’s like, “Do you really need to learn how to be an even more professional troublemaker?” And I was laughing so hard. I’m like, “Josh, this is like the best book, my friend Luvvie just wrote it.” He was like, “I don’t know if I want you reading that.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I’m a bad influence on you. Yes.

Marie Forleo: He’s like, “I’m just going to have more trouble coming in my way.” I’m like, “The best trouble.” I don’t know where I was going, but anyway, boundaries. When I woke up at 4:00am this morning, I went back to that chapter because I just wanted to just dig in and soak in it again. Let’s talk about that because I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that people have, especially in this world that we’re still in. We’re still in a pandemic. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: People are at home. A lot of folks have their families around. They have kids, they might have extended family. And so they’re looking to maybe create something new in their life, create a new habit.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yeah.

Marie Forleo: They want to work on a book. They want to start a business, but they’ve got, they’ve kind of had a pattern where they’re allowing all kinds of stuff to happen around them. And they’re afraid of stating a boundary so they can be new. What would you say to anyone listening right now who’s like, “Luvvie, I need to hear your philosophy on boundaries.”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: I need everybody to state their boundaries. It is so important. I am a huge boundaries person. And I’m, I think I’ve always been a huge boundaries person. But I realize how important it is and how significant it is because I see how many of you don’t state their own boundaries. People have a hard time saying, “Here’s what I expect from you. Here’s how I want to be treated,” because people don’t want to be considered mean. Well, let me tell you something. You sit there angry because somebody did something that crossed your boundaries that you never expressed. You’re setting other people up for failure. You’re actually setting other people up to piss you off. So I can give people an example. Social media is where boundaries get trumped all the time. Boundaries get just crossed constantly on social, because everybody thinks behind the computer screen, we have full access to everybody.

We can do whatever we want. We can say whatever we want. And all we do is sit back and we just sulk silently. One of the biggest boundaries that everybody has on social that they do not express is they don’t like being tagged in photos that they’re not in. Nobody likes that. Nobody likes it, but nobody says, “Don’t tag me in photos I’m not in.” So when it happens with me and people will tag me because they want my audience to see something, some flyers, some new products that they’re doing, their random thing that has nothing to do with me. They’ll tag me. I usually will DM the person and say, “Hey, please don’t tag me in something that has nothing to do with me. If it’s my work, feel free to tag me. If it’s my words, please tag me to that. But if it’s your thing, don’t tag me.”

I do it all the time. And people really get shocked by it. But each time that I do it the response I usually get is, “Oh my God, sorry about that. I won’t do that again.” And then they don’t do it again. But the times when I don’t say it, that person ends up tagging me to five other photos. And then I get angry. So what I need people to understand is, one, it might be shocking to people when you actually express your boundaries. Two, most people will actually honor it once they know that’s your boundary. And then three, it makes my life easier and it will make your life easier to do that thing because usually you only have to state it to that person one time. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: If the person now heard your boundary and continues to cross it, at that point, you do what you can to keep them out. Block them, delete them, whatever that is. But we must start honoring our boundaries by speaking them out loud.

Marie Forleo: I also want to read your words here, because again, highlighters and underlines all the time specifically about this. On page 185 of my galley, you wrote, “This is also why I’m not shy about deleting foolishness that people bring to my online space. My social media is a dictatorship, not a democracy. I block, report as spam, and mute as needed. I am not obligated to receive or consume debris that someone drops at my feet because,” as you write, “people will bring trash to you if you are a willing receptacle.” And that I was just like, “Book drop.” I have talked about the fact and honestly, you’ve given me such confirmation because I was like, “Wow, I’m such an asshole.” I’m actually not. Because there’s been so many times I’m like, “Look, our social and my community, my places,” I’m like, “It’s not a democracy.”

I, as a teacher and as a coach and as someone who’s studied human psychology and adult learning for 20 years now, I’m very aware of the science. I’m also very aware experientially about how people learn. And as someone who is really committed to being a support for folks who are reaching for bigger dreams, who are trying to build a business, or do something that is scaring the hell out of them, right? And they maybe have nobody else in their life that believes in them, don’t bring your trash to my place. It’s like, “No, you got the whole internet. You go do anything you want. But in this house, it’s sacred.” 

Now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a bad day. Doesn’t mean that, you know what I mean? That we can’t just be able to express our humanness, but leave the toxic negative bullshit at the door. And otherwise, I will tell you, Luvvie, I wrote about this in Everything is Figureoutable, that I was like, “Would you ever let someone come into your home, your sacred home, and just take down their pants and take a dump in your living room and then walk out and let you clean it up?”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: And walk out.

Marie Forleo: And walk out. And then it’s up to you to clean it up. It’s like, “You would not.” You would not allow that to ever occur. So you do not need to allow it to occur in your digital spaces either.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: That part. And I need us not to apologize for it, right? 

Marie Forleo: Yes. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Don’t apologize for having boundaries. I actually find it weird when people don’t have boundaries. I’m always like, “So, you just let anybody call you? You just let anybody come into your house? Or you just let anybody… So then what makes your relationship special?” What actually lets the people who are in your circle, the people who are important to you know that they exist in a different sphere, if everybody has access than nobody has access, right? Because then there’s nothing sacred. So I’m always like, “I find it weird when people don’t have boundaries.” And I also just want to encourage people that when you are the person with the boundaries and people make you feel bad about it, I hope this is confirmation that you’re like, “Nope, I’m not the one that’s wrong here. You, boundaryless person, are the ones who should probably get your stuff together.”

I’m a Capricorn. We’re very strong boundaries people. All my friends are Capricorns, we’re all very similar. We all have very strong boundaries. That’s right here, we do not cross a certain thing. People know we limit access to us. People don’t have our number. We’re not the ones that share our numbers with random people. We will change our number in a half-second because we’re like, “No, too much people have it. Oh God, no.” I’ve already let people know if they give somebody my number, they will end up, end up probably getting blocked from accessing me. It’s that deep. 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Because you have to protect your space. And in this world, we’re constantly thinking about other people’s comfort over ours. And it’s not, it’s not sainthood. We don’t get sainthood by being like, “Well, as long as they’re comfortable, I’m fine.” No. Are you comfortable? In your skin, in your body, in your days that you’re walking through this world, your comfort also matters. It’s not just about everybody else’s.

Marie Forleo: I think too someone, when I, when I look at you, when I witness your work and again, I’ve just been so deep into your book lately, it’s brilliant. I also think how important it is to protect our peace so that we can do the work that we’re here to do. And you know, it’s like, I am certainly not for everybody. I am so not for everybody. I’m very clear about that. I’m cool with it, but I’m not going to try and go convince other people who are like, “I hate her. She’s annoying,” or whatever. I’m like, “Good, there’s 7 billion people on the planet. Go find somebody else.” But protecting your peace with boundaries…

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yep.

Marie Forleo: …is a way that we can be our most loving selves and do the most creative and inspiring and somewhat audacious work that we’re here to do.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yeah. I think that’s actually a really good point about you not being for everybody. If you’re for everybody, you’re for nothing. Let’s just be clear. You, if everybody on this planet loves you, that means you are saying nothing of note. If everybody on this planet is like, “I love Marie,” that means nobody’s really deeply connecting with you, because when you are a human being who is fully formed, who has preferences, opinions, boundaries, you will repel certain people and you will attract certain people. Some people will hate you. And then some people love you deeply. You need both.

If you’re the person who’s just middle of the lane and everyone’s just like, “I think they’re nice, they’re cool,” you’re, you’re making no imprint on anybody. So if you are somebody who exists in the world and you don’t have any enemies, you’re probably doing nothing. It probably means you also have no real fans. It also means you have no real friends because you haven’t cultivated deep enough relationship. If you are living in this world authentically, you will run afoul to somebody just because you are so strong on one piece that somebody who’s opposite of that would not like it. But it’s okay to be that person. You cannot, you don’t like everybody, so everybody can’t like you. And also, who has time to like everybody? Some people are trash. 

Marie Forleo: This is why I love you so much. Okay, before I get to probably the most important question, because it’s a personal question and it’s completely selfish, Is there anything else about the book, about The Fear-Fighters Manual, that you want to share with the audience before we go on to other things?

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes. The best… When I was writing this book, I realized that it was the book that I needed when I was afraid to call myself a writer, because I didn’t call myself a writer until 2012. And I’d been blogging at that point for nine years, because I was afraid of what it meant, what that title meant, because it felt so big. I was like, “Toni Morrison’s a writer. That’s a writer. You don’t get to call yourself the same thing Tony Morrison is.” And what I didn’t realize was that it’s because I hadn’t seen the writer that was like me, that was writing about the world and the way she saw it. Oh, I didn’t go to school for writing or creative writing. I went to school for psychology and I was just writing this blog. So, that fear of calling myself a writer was also like, what does that look like?

How do I make money as a writer if I’m not writing for The New York Times or writing fiction novels? But I realized that it was, it was a title that I needed for myself, even though I didn’t see the example. So I became that example that I needed. So this is the book that I needed when I was afraid to call myself a writer. If I had this book, I’d been like, “Yes, you’re a writer,” way earlier. And I was hoping that somebody would read my book. My real goal for this book is that somebody will read it. It will change something about something that they do and bring something good to their life.

And it’s already happened. It’s already happened. My last call with my book team in 2019, 2020, 2020, Jesus, our last call, I was on with my editor and we finished all the different logistics thing. And she said, “I have to tell you this thing.” She’s like, “I haven’t told anybody, but one other person. So you’re the second person I’m telling, but your book has changed my life.” And I was like, “Really?” She said, “Yes.” When she was editing my book, after I got my first draft, my Ask For More chapter, she had a note in it on the side that said, “When I finished editing this chapter, I asked my boss for a raise.”

And I was like, “Oh my God.” So as I’m going through my edits, I see her note and it instantly made me smile. She said, “Remember that?” I was like, “Yeah, I saw it, I remember that note.” She was like, “Okay.” She said, “Well, I actually kept on asking him for that raise.” He kept on saying, “You know what, give me a couple of months, we’ll revisit this conversation.” She said, “Well, I just got promoted to editorial director. So not only did I get the raise, I got a promotion. And now my assistant is also going to be an editor, she’s been promoted too because now I’m editorial director.” She was like, “It’s because of your book.” And I was on that call, she said, “Your book has changed my life. Your book made me do this thing I would’ve never done because I just sit quiet and I just do my work.”

She said, “But you, you compelled me to ask for this raise. And I got beyond the raise, I got the promotion and the raise.” So now she’s Editorial Director of Penguin Life, Meg Leder. And I was like, “That is the dream. That, that is the dream.” That right there makes this book and everything, they went to write in it, in my experience, that is the perfect result that I want. That is what I want to happen in people’s lives. I want them to read this thing, to have this manual as a guide, as like a you got this, the verbal you got this in the moments when they need it. I want it to convict them to know that they can actually get the thing that they want, that they’re afraid to ask for. And so yeah, I’m already so proud of this book because of that.

Marie Forleo: You should be. You should be. And I will underwrite, underscore, hold up that intention. And like I said, in my heart, what, you know, we’re recording this way before your book is available to the public. And my gut tells me there are going to be millions of lives touched by this, Luvvie.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Amen.

Marie Forleo: And millions of outcomes like that. So much joy and courage and wealth and expansion is going to happen for people because you, my love, put down the genius that is Luvvie into these incredible words. So funny, so many gems, so original. Again, I could not love it more. I got into, I got into Jersey Marie wanting to smack it, do all the things to it like we do when we love something so much and we, we want to hold it. So…

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Thank you so much, friend.

Marie Forleo: You’re welcome. And by the way, thank you. Because when I was on book tour and you and I got to hang out just for a little bit in Chicago, it was just, it was really sweet because I had admired you and appreciated you from afar. And it was just so nice to be able to spend a little time together in person before the world…

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Before the word shut down.

Marie Forleo: …did what it did. So, my final question which I did text you about a little bit, but I want to ask you, because you talk a lot about jollof in the book and for one who has not experienced it yet, which there may be folks, you know, we got folks from 195 countries around the world. They may not have experienced it yet. And I am a food lover. I love food. I love to eat. I love to break bread with people. Is it just whack and not anything one should do, try and follow a recipe? Because again, we’re still in the global pandemic, where I am right now, there is not a Nigerian restaurant that is close by. I may not be able to get to one until I get to New York City. So tell us, I want to hear about it. I want to hear your recommendations. I want the down-low.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yes, okay. So, for those who don’t know, jollof rice is West Africa’s premier rice. It’s our tomato-based rice. Most cultures actually have their own standard rice. You know, there is Spanish rice. There is jambalaya, there is Chinese fried rice. Jollof rice is our rice and it is tomato-based. It is delicious. It is at every party, every event. West Africans are obsessed with jollof rice.

Marie Forleo: Can you, and the pronunciation, is it jollof or just jollof?

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: You know, some people say jollof, but it’s jollof, really. We say jollof.

Marie Forleo: Jollof, okay. Awesome.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Yep. Yes.

Marie Forleo: Please keep going. So what are some of the ingredients? Tomatoes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: So, it’s like you take… All right, to make jollof rice, being tomato-based, you blend tomatoes with onions and bell pepper. You can put garlic in there. You put chicken bouillon cubes, and then you, if you, if you want chicken in there, because some people can do vegetarian too…

Marie Forleo: Yep.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: …you can actually use some of the chicken stock in the rice. You cook that rice together. Some people will actually bake it. So sometimes my mom would bake her jollof rice. So, it like, all of the flavors just come in. And then if you’re going to a party, there’s a specific type of pot that they use to make jollof rice if you’re going to a party or if it’s catered, that gives an extra smoky flavor to it because of the way it’s just prepared, that adds this extra to it. For my wedding, it was so important for me to have the perfect jollof rice that I flew in a chef from New York City.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: His name is Godshelter. He runs a food truck called Divine Flavored Catering. And hands down, outside of my mom’s jollof rice, Godshelter’s jollof rice is everything. I flew him in to cater my wedding because it was that important for the jollof to be on point. The perfect flavors, and if the jollof is not good, people remember that. Okay? So, if you are, I have three recommendations, if you are in LA, there’s a restaurant called Veronica’s Kitchen. That’s amazing. If you’re in New York, go for Divine Flavored Catering. And they usually have…

Marie Forleo: That’s what I’m going to do. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: …their food trucks sitting outside of the Nigerian embassy.

Marie Forleo: Great.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: If you are in Chicago, you can go to Simi’s Restaurant. But there’s actually recipes that you should follow. And yes, you can follow recipes. You know, older African moms, they don’t follow a recipe anymore. And when you ask them for a recipe, they just like, they send you off basically. They’re just like, “You know, just sprinkle this.” And you’re just like, “You’re not just going to give me the actual?” It’s like the ancestors give them the exact recipe whenever they’re cooking it. But in the meantime, there are actual Nigerian chefs who have blogs. There’s one called Nigerian Lazy Chef. Her blog, yeah, her blog is Nigerian Lazy Chef. She has recipes for how to cook Nigerian food. And I think she has a jollof rice recipe. Check it out. I’ve seen a few of The New York Times recipes for jollof rice. And I’ve been like, “I don’t, I don’t really know. I don’t know.” Maybe one day I should cook the recipe just to try it to see if they’ll actually come close, but I don’t know, you need to go to a Nigerian person, or a Ghanaian person to get a proper jollof recipe. Otherwise, it is not valid.

Marie Forleo: I like it. Okay, so this is going to be my next assignment. And I thank you for the recco in New York City, because when I go back, I know exactly where I’m going.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: They’re amazing. They will deliver it to your hotel if you even want. In fact, text me when you’re going to New York and you’re like, “I want some jollof.” I will arrange it for jollof and plantains to be delivered to wherever you are as a gift to you. I got you. So, you text me whenever you’re in New York.

Marie Forleo: I adore you. Luvvie, thank you so much. Thank you for this incredible gift. Everybody, if, if you haven’t gotten the message yet, you need to get the message from me. I know our audience, we love books and you need to not only get a copy for yourself, but you need to get a copy for your friends, anyone that you love, who you want to see them reach for their biggest dreams. Luvvie Ajayi Jones, I adore you. I am so excited for this book. I am so excited for the continuation of your body of work. I’m excited for you as a human being. And I am just honored to know you. So thank you for taking the time to be with us here today. Really appreciate it.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Thank you for having me, for inviting me to be on MarieTV. I think you’re amazing, how you show up in this world is so important. And as a thought leader, you’re, you’re a blueprint, right? You’ve set maps that we didn’t even realize we needed. And I deeply appreciate your work and I appreciate your voice and thank you for your sisterhood and having me on. And when you texted me about this book it literally was like, “Yo, this is dope.” This is so dope that it connected with you on such a level. And that somebody as prominent as you this far in your career still finds value in this book, lets me know I did something amazing. So that affirmation is deeply appreciated and words of, word of affirmation is my number one language, just so you know. It is my…

Marie Forleo: I did not. You know what, that’s that witchy part in me. I always, my friends laugh at me because they’re like, “How do you know things sometime?” And I literally felt spirit or soul come over me and said, “You have to text Luvvie immediately.” I literally put it down. You deserve all the praise and more. Again, I, I really cannot emphasize enough what a unique, powerful, laugh-out-loud, moving, deeply soulful piece of work this is, and how excited I am for the world to read it. So you and I need to hang out again when the world gets a little bit safer. For everybody watching, we really thank you. And Luvvie, I’ll see you soon, love.

Wasn’t that awesome. So, as usual, Luvvie and I would love to hear from you, I’m really curious, what’s the biggest aha or insight that you are taking away from this conversation, and most important, how can you put it into action in your life starting right now? Now, as always, we’ve got some great conversations happening over at the magical land of So, if you want to leave a comment, come on over there and leave a comment now. While you’re hanging out, if you’re not yet subscribed to our email list, do it. Become an MF Insider, every single week, I send loving, encouraging, and motivating emails to keep you inspired and on track. Until next time, stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll catch you next time.

Hey! You having trouble bringing your dreams to life? Well guess what? The problem isn’t you. It’s not that you’re not hard-working, or intelligent, or deserving. It’s that you haven’t yet installed the one key belief that will change it all. Everything is Figureoutable. It’s my new book and you can order it now at

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