Debbie Allen is an author, business mentor, brand strategist, and the number one authority on expert positioning. Debbie runs a mentoring program for experts where she leverages her decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience to successfully mentor a diverse group of small business owners, entrepreneurs and franchise owners.
Today, Debbie and Jonathan talk about mutually beneficial mentor-mentee relationships, the importance of mindset and personal development and why success is so contingent on being a lifelong learner.
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01:07 – Debbie Allen shares her scrappy entrepreneurial origin story and talks about how mentors were vital to her success
09:35 – Debbie defines both what a mentor is and what a mentor does
11:59 – What to look for in a good mentor-mentee relationship
13:52 – Debbie speaks to the diverse range of clients she works with
20:44 – Personal development and the importance of mindset
28:55 – Shameless self-promotion
33:28 – Learning via Summits and other video platforms
37:34 – Debbie expounds on the work she’s doing with her mentoring program for experts
43:13 – Debbie talks about her latest book, Success Is Easy
48:55 – The last thing Debbie changed her mind about and one thing she wishes people knew about her
51:14 – Jonathan thanks Debbie for joining the show and lets listeners know where they can follow her
“You can sell a very successful business and give it to the right people. But, again, if they don’t have that drive to want to learn or a mentor to follow, it’s really hard. Solo entrepreneurship isn’t solo. You have to have a mentor all the time to be successful.” (09:19)
“It doesn’t matter, your age. It doesn’t matter if you know how to do it. Ever business I started I didn’t know how. You find people to help you. That passion and excitement just keeps you moving forward.” (17:34)
“It’s crazy to think you’re gonna start a business on a shoestring budget. You just can’t. It’s gonna take you so much longer to be successful.” (23:52)
“You promote yourself in the service of others. So, if you’re not talking about your programs, what you’re offering, how you help people, you’re not only robbing yourself of more income. You’re robbing them of the opportunity to work with you and make a difference.” (30:08)
“When you’re that true entrepreneur, you’re a lifelong learner. You’re always looking for that next thing.” (44:51)
“I’m here to help people. And so, when I’m not as motivated, or not feeling as confident, it isn’t about me anymore. It’s about the people that I help.” (51:05)
Expert Positioning Success Website – https://debbie-allen.mykajabi.com/expert-positioning-strategy-call
Debbie’s Website – https://debbieallen.com/
Debbie’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DebbieAllenInternational
Debbie’s YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/dallen7001
Debbie’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/debbieallenspeaker/
The Highly Paid Expert – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J1BWCC1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
Insider Secrets of International Speaking – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BDCRJMU/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2
Skyrocketing Sales! – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1419510487/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4
Confessions of Shameless Self-Promoters – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071462023/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3
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Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome back to the Mindful Money podcast. On this episode, I’m chatting with Debbie Allen, who is an author. She’s written four books on sales, self promotion, the expert economy, and success. And she’s a business mentor and brand strategist. She’s the world’s number one authority on expert positioning and runs a mentoring program for experts. Now, I was looking for someone to discuss mentoring generally, and a, previous guest, Lisa Peterson, introduced me to Debbie. Debbie, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Debbie Allen: Wonderful to be here. I mean, it’s a great place to be. Money podcast, we want more of that.
Jonathan DeYoe: So where do you call home, Debbie?
Debbie Allen: Phoenix, Arizona.
Jonathan DeYoe: You’re calling from there now?
Debbie Allen: Calling from there right now, yes.
Jonathan DeYoe: Okay.
Debbie Allen: I’m staying home a lot more these days, being a. Yeah.
Jonathan DeYoe: Did you grow up in Phoenix?
Debbie Allen: No, I grew up in, I’m going to have to kill you for this if I tell you. Gary, Indiana, it’s like the armpit of the USA. Born at 02:00 in the morning in a broom closet in a Gary, Indiana hospital. Okay, you can only go up from. Wait, wait. In the broom closet in a broom closet? Yes. There was no more delivery room. See, I’ve told you everything about my secrets now. Yes. It was funny. When my mom tells, it’s like you were ready. It’s like they didn’t have any place to put me. They shoved me in a broom closet and pie, you popped out. I was ready I’m ready for the world before I was born.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m sure there’s no money lessons in that particular moment, but what did you learn about success and money as a kid?
Debbie Allen: Well, my father and mother were hardworking people, and they were not entrepreneurs for most all of my life. So I just saw my dad being a car salesman for 20 years. He didn’t go off and do his thing, and I didn’t have any idea about building a business or anything like that. Never thought about where I was going to be as an entrepreneur when you grow up, like, what are you going to be, a nurse or this or that? And I never really thought about it. I was independent. I just knew I liked business from a very young age and that I wanted to run some kind of independent business. But I had no mentors for that. Even in school, even in elementary school and high school, I would volunteer to work in the office because I like to see behind the things, and things are working. So that’s just not a typical kid, where that came from. All the office things and business things were of interest to me, but I got very bad grades in school. I just didn’t want to learn what I didn’t want to learn. I wanted to learn what I wanted to learn. That was the only time I was a good student. So I barely even passed high school, got out of there, never was going to college because that wasn’t an option. By that time, my father had opened his first entrepreneurial venture, which was a, car rental business. And so at a young age, I would take the school bus and I would go to work at the car rental business. And then when I was 19 years old, I said, I want to do more than just get a paycheck. I want to own part of this business, because, hey, we got five cars. We’re going to go up from there, right? So we built it to 250 rental cars and campers and trucks and everything, then also built a mini storage. We were the first right outside of Chicago, to build mini storage. We built two huge facilities and sold those to a major company called Public Storage. That was before I was 30. And so that really was like, okay, what’s my next chapter? What’s my next thing? I don’t really know what that’s going to be, but I got to buy a business or start some business. And it was just like, if you’re listening to this, some of you are looking for that next opportunity, and it’s probably right in front of your face, but you’re going, well, I’m not ready for that. Or that doesn’t make know. Pay attention to your intuition. I knew I wanted out of the family business. I knew that was my opportunity, and it was to own a women’s clothing store. I mean, that’s a heck of a lot more fun than repossessing rental cars outside of Gary, Indiana. Right? And I didn’t like working office hours. I wasn’t like, the morning kind of, you know, this was know, helping women look beautiful and feel good about themselves selling them clothes. And so I built and sold multiple, retail stores. Use the entrepreneurial model. Build a sell, or build a magnified. So that’s kind of what I did until I went on to the next, you know, I found mentors early on, and that was what helped me, because I didn’t really know anything, Jonathan, about anything I ever started. So not a good business model, but that’s the truth.
Jonathan DeYoe: So I’m curious. You just powered through. If you didn’t know anything about it and you just launched into it, what made you think that you could be successful?
Debbie Allen: I think in that car rental business, it was like, I’m a scrappy 20 some year old that built this business up, and I didn’t know what to do. My dad was off plan most of the time. Me and my brother were running this in our was a hard business. We just didn’t know what we didn’t know. So we just were like, we don’t want to get jobs, so we got to figure this out. And then we’re like, we figured it out later on, let’s leave and do our own thing. I think was because I had already achieved so much in my 20s in business, like, just fallen into it. But, when I got into the retail, I bought a business that lost money for six years. So I had a lot of dream stealers telling me, you’re crazy, you’re nuts. And maybe I was, but I knew I wanted to make it. And here was the thing that probably put a thorn to my side for the rest of my life. My dad said to me, because he didn’t want me to leave the family business, he goes, well, you better make this more than just a hobby. He said it with an attitude, like good luck kind of thing, right? And I’m like, okay, I’m going to prove to you I’m successful. And everybody else, but I didn’t know how yet. And then I would go to these trade shows where I’d buy from my store, and I’d see all these other successful retailers and so I started asking my sales reps, who are your successful retailers? Can I work in your booth and have a conversation with them? I’ll help you. And in the meantime, I get to network with them. And then I got invited from doing that, I got invited to a wonderful group of 13 other mentors. We called ourselves fashion alliance at the time. I just invited to one dinner, and I was so thrilled. Like, this is life changing. You ever been to that dinner, Jonathan, where you’re, like, taking notes and like, oh, my gosh, I’m such a sponge. And at the end of the meeting, they said, we want you to join. And here they were. Everybody had 15 to 30 years experience in the retail business, and I had six months. I was clueless. Never worked with a mentor, never, no idea what I was doing. So I took my business from $100,000 to two and a half million dollars in two years from the help of those mentors. I had a buying office in New York with them. They told me what lines to buy. They taught me marketing. I mean, I didn’t even realize what I was walking into, right. And all I had to give, jonathan, was my passion, my enthusiasm to learn. They could see that. They could see I had a vision to be successful and then do whatever it takes. And they said, we’re going to take you under our wing and let you join us because your enthusiasm is going to continue to inspire us. We’ve been in this business so long that we need know, kind of little shot in the arm, this funky gal showing up every month. And that is really when I look back, Jonathan, that was the thing that made me want to be a mentor, because I didn’t realize at the time I was with them and running a retail clothing store. But after 15 years of doing that, I was like, it’s time for me to get back. And that’s when I launched my speaking and consulting business.
Jonathan DeYoe: So it sounds to me like your mentors found you in a way, kind of.
Debbie Allen: I guess I think that I supported them and helped them, too, because we used to have a thing every month, you would get up and you would fill out how much your business is up or down, and you’d put it on a piece of paper and it’d go in a hat, and then you’d win. Like, the winner is the one that has the most up, and they would go, okay, Debbie, just tell me your story. Well, because I had nowhere to go but up. Right. And what did you do this month that worked? And I would say, because I implemented this, or I got this line that you did, or whatever it was. And, when I sold those two stores, jonathan, my biggest gift that I could hand somebody, like, here, not only the store is so successful and you’ve Got clients, but here’s a bigger one than that. This Mentor group is yours. They said they would take you in, and that was huge because they didn’t even know them. Like, we’ll take them in because you sold your business and we’ll let them join. And then they only went to one or two meetings, and I’m like, they quit. And I’m like, why? You’re crazy. This is like gold. And one says, well, I’m so afraid of public speaking. I don’t like to stand up in front of the group and speak. Of course, eventually she went out of business. The other one said, it interferes with my bowling night. I’m like, okay, bowling success in business. That one didn’t make it either. So you could sell a very successful business and give it to the right people. But again, if they don’t have that drive to want to learn, if they don’t have a mentor to follow, it’s really hard solo. Entrepreneurship isn’t solo. You have to have a mentor all the time to be successful.
Jonathan DeYoe: So go back to the beginning a little bit. What is a mentor? Define for us what a mentor is.
Debbie Allen: Great question. So a lot of people think of a mentor as somebody that’s free, like they’ve been really successful and they’re giving back their time. Not necessarily. It could be that, but most of the time it’s someone that’s gone from a coach or consulting, and they’ve been doing it so long, like, I have an innate business sense. I’ve been doing it so long that I call myself a mentor because these were my mentors. These were the people taking you to a whole nother level. I’m building businesses for people. So it’s not just, I’m going to consult with you, tell you what to do, and leave you alone. I’m in it with you in the trenches. So when I take somebody on, it’s like taking on their business idea. If I don’t like their business idea, if I don’t think they’re coachable, I’m not going to take them on as a client because it’s my business. When I take them on, I put them into my business family. That’s how close it is.
Jonathan DeYoe: So mentoring is like you’re getting your hands dirty, whereas a coach is kind of saying, hey, go do this and get your hand, you do it. But coaching is telling you how to do it. A mentor actually gets her hand dirty. That’s kind of the difference.
Debbie Allen: Yeah, I’m in the trenches with them. It could be a mentor just gives you advice and motivates you to do that. Some of you didn’t pay. If you’re paying somebody at a high level in mentorship, they usually have a done for you program. Like, here’s the steps. It’s strategic planning. My level of mentorship is imagine having what would you want most from your mentor that you go, this is my mentor. Right? It’s like, be able to come to their home. So on my vip mentoring program, they come to my home. I pick them up personally at the airport. I have one that’s coming in on mother’s day. And so she’s coming in and I’ll pick her up the airport, we’ll go to dinner, start talking about her business, and then we will have a whole full day of strategic planning, just working through her business and step by step on how to grow it. And so when you can get that kind of time with a mentor where you’re staying in their guest house, you’re having all this personal time with, them. You see how they interact, you see how they live. That’s inspiration, too. People just coming and just being in my space is inspiration for people. Like, wow, she did this. I know her, I’m here with her and I’m learning from her. And this is going to motivate me to the next level.
Jonathan DeYoe: If you’re talking to someone that’s not like they’re not looking for a business mentor, they’re looking for a mentor. Maybe it’s a career mentor. maybe a good example is I’m a mentor for college students as they figure out their direction. And often that’s more college students. It’s more personal issues and emotional issues than it is actually academic or success issues that you’re working on. In that case, the mentor wouldn’t be that kind of come into my house and stay with me. But what does a good mentoring relationship look like? If someone’s just starting up, what should they look like? What should they look for in a mentor?
Debbie Allen: I think that your mentor is someone you look up to to share your life’s work. And that’s where people come to me. They go, I like what she’s been doing. She’s been a professional speaker for 25 years. She’s written ten books. She’s one of the highest paid women’s speakers in the world. She’s spoken 28 countries. I mean, the credentials are there, right? And they’re like, I want that life. And so those are kind of people that hire me and say, can you create an expert business for me that’s similar to what you’re doing? And so that’s what I do is position them into, an expert space. So they kind of own that space and they’re known for that. And I’ve been doing that and reinventing myself so many times doing that. It’s easy enough to do, but it goes back to the relationship has got to be coachable. And, when I have that conversation with people at the very beginning, I ask the right questions to make sure they’re the right fit. And then, sometimes I believe in them more than they believe in themselves because they’ve got a really good idea and they’ve got skills behind them. And I can already look, and this mind starts going, almost intuitively going, I see where you could be in one year, two years, three years. I see this, I see it in my head. And if you just follow these paths and you do this, if you’re going to self sabotage, there’s nothing that’s going to help you, right? Because I can tell you every step to do, just follow the steps, do these things, be motivated, get out there and put yourself out there. You’re going to be successful. There’s just no doubt about it. So sometimes I believe in them before they believe in themselves. And then once they start building into the business and they start seeing the business being built, the whole model, and they learn some new skills, then they’re like, whoa, okay. They start stepping into it, some step into it in the first month, some kind of drag themselves along for a few months before they get going. I mean, everybody’s in a different headspace. But if I can believe in you, sometimes, even before you believe in yourself, you’re going to catch up.
Jonathan DeYoe: I think that there’s a tendency to believe, and it sounds to me like you work a lot with business people.
Debbie Allen: Yes.
Jonathan DeYoe: And I think that many people have to have a lot of experience before they can believe that they can be a successful business person. I mean, maybe 10% of the population is able to say, okay, I’m entrepreneurial when I’m 18 or 19 or 20 years old. But I think many other people come to it, think the structure of the economy is such that you kind of have to have your own gig at some point in order to be successful, in order to build that, you can be an employee your whole life and you can save money your can be fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you really want to be financially successful, you got to sort of do something. You’ve got to build something, create something. So do you find a lot of people that are younger that seek you out? Or is it usually people that are 45, 50, tried something, didn’t work out, and, they have an idea they want to pursue every age.
Debbie Allen: My youngest client was, 25 years old. She was homeless when she was 13 years old. And, then she walked in the girls and boys club, and it changed her life from there. She ended up getting mentors that she didn’t have to pay for. Somebody volunteered for that. And then one of those mentors helped her fill out forms for scholarships for college because she really, even though she was homeless, she was going to school. And imagine being straight a’s and you’re living on the streets like crazy. She was that kind of motivated person to get out of her that and change her life. And then she went from that to building a speaking business. Telling her story about her whole thing is about from a box to the White House, because she actually spoke at the White House with Obama’s leadership team and was part of that. She got $250,000 in scholarships. Just a total rock star now. She’s traveling in the country, everywhere, all. She’s an international speaker now, speaking to youth on how to get into universities, believing in themselves, motivating people, raising money for girls and boys club. When she speaks there, she gets paid to speak, to do those auctions and raises money for them, just telling her story and then creating a whole leadership coaching program. And on top of that, she created another business. She’s maybe 26, 27 now. She’s been with me for a little bit, but like a greeting card business for diversity, she just rocks everything. So it’s just like this motivation that she had to be the best that she can is amazing. And then my other youngest client is now 91. She started working with me when she was 89. She wanted to learn to be a speaker and learn to speak and sell the concept of what her foundation was about, which was helping young adults and kids get into entrepreneurial ventures and learn the business of entrepreneurs. So she has a foundation that sends, them to CEO space and other opportunities for that. And when they learn and they change, they pass it on, pay it forward kind of thing. So her foundation was just her heart because she grew up almost homeless, very poor, with her family as too. And she did that. And so she wanted to change the lives of people. So from that passion, she started hiking. And she was not a hiker. Later in life, she started hiking and she decided, I’m going to hike Mount Kilmagero and I’m going to be the oldest person. So she hiked it the first time at 89, made it to the top, and she was the oldest woman to have hiked it. And so it gave her so much pr and credibility. But she says, then a russian lady with some help went ahead for me, and she got, two months later, took that title. So she said, I’m going to train. I’m going to go back. So when she was 90, she went back and she now had a record of being the oldest person, oldest person, man and women to hike Kilimanjaro. And she won the Guinness Book of World Records and was honored with that and then got a ton of pr and then got the word out for her. Cause. So it doesn’t matter in age. Doesn’t matter in age. Doesn’t matter if you know how to do it. Every business I’ve started, I didn’t know how you find people to help you. And, that passion and excitement just keeps you moving forward.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m, curious about what I hear is finding mentors can be really tough for some people. Do you work with any communities for whom good networks and access to mentors is especially difficult?
Debbie Allen: I think that, the personal one on one, after they have years of experience, you’re going to have to put out some money. Mona, my 25 year old that was homeless, where does she have the money to come up with? At that time, it was $20,000. Like, I want you to mentor me. I want you to be with me for a full year. I want you to build my whole business. And she came back there and says, I’m going to find the money. Well, it just so happened her brother was in an accident and he had some money from that, and he says, anytime you want to start a business, I’ll donate that money to you. And she says, you’re not going to donate. I’m going to pay you back. I’m going to be successful. I’m going to pay you back. So, yeah, she got the loan from her family. You find a way if you want something, right? And the other way is if you start out and you just don’t have the funds, like, read the books, you could say, so and so is my mentor because I’ve read every single one of their books. They’re not really your mentor, but they’re kind of your muse, your inspiration to do things. And, this is the first year that I have ever given a scholarship ever. And I met somebody who is a burn victim that was in a terrible car accident. He wants to be a motivational speaker. His story is unbelievable because he’s so positive and he didn’t have the funds. He’s on disability, he doesn’t have the funds. I’m like, I can’t figure out a way to work with him. I mean, he needs to tell his story to help so many more people. And so I created my first, speaker scholarship with Mark. Mark Haley is his name, and he’s going to be an awesome motivational speaker. It’s going to change his know, when I met him, he was just so special that the money thing wasn’t going to stop that. But I had to pay mean, he paid a couple thousand dollars. I didn’t give it to him for nothing. I’m going to give you all this and then give it to you for a very minimal amount because I think you had to have some skin in the game. I think all everybody have to have skin in the game. Otherwise you don’t get a mentor for free. You’re only going to get so much for free. And then you got to figure out how to invest because when you invest in yourself, it does a couple of things, gives you quality mentorship and it gives you the idea, like, I’ve invested in myself, this passion to keep going. I’ve got to make, got to get return on investment. And then it also, if, you decide you want to be a coach or consultant or whatever you do in your business, you know, you can ask higher fees because you’ve invested in yourself. If you don’t invest in yourself and you’re cheap about that, then it’s pretty hard to get other people to invest in you. That was the first money mindset shift I had is when I invested my 1st 20,000 in a mentor, like, oh, okay. And I didn’t get any really personal mentorship. It was like events mostly, but it was a shift. And then I raised my prices and then I’m like, okay, I’m going to go for this.
Jonathan DeYoe: I don’t think anyone traces their success to just themselves. I think everyone has mentors of some kind and I think that the expert space, the mentorship space where you’re paying for that mentorship or paying for that coaching or support isn’t new, but it’s relatively new, right? It’s kind of exploded in maybe the last decade. I like what you said about finding books. If someone’s just starting off, they’ve read a couple of books, maybe they’ve read your books. How do they find somebody that doesn’t have the money and maybe they won’t get a scholarship? They’re still sorting things out. How do they find a mentor, like your youngest client who founded at the boys and girls club.
Debbie Allen: Right.
Jonathan DeYoe: So where are some of those places you can find good mentors that aren’t going to be very expensive at the beginning before you’re ready to start really expanding your empire?
Debbie Allen: Well, you kind of touched on a little bit. Maybe you start with the personal development stuff, like a, personal development coach to get you in your mindset enough to really be enthusiastic to keep moving forward. Because a lot of people, I can’t get them past fears. So I will send them to some of my other clients, other personal clients, like, okay, well, she works on getting past fears. You’re building confidence, clarity. I think you need to go there first because I can’t really move you if you’re not ready to be moved. And so a lot of them start with the personal development work that they never got growing up. And I was halfway into my mentoring career before I really call myself a mentor. Back then I call myself a consultant because I was all business. Then I realized I really need to do a lot of personal development work to be able to just be better at this. And that’s where I got to the mentor level, because all the years of personal development work I did on top of the business work. So I can relate to a lot of people. I can relate to the stuff they’re going through. That doesn’t mean I fix everything for them, but I know what they need. And I’m very intuitive in reading that very quickly because of the hundreds of people that I’ve worked. You know, here’s the other thing is you go to a book and next thing you go on to their YouTube channel, start following all their videos and just following them. I mean, I have people that follow me for years before they ever, end up investing in something. You can start out then with a group program so that I do very high level, personal, one on one mentoring programs, but I do, group programs that teach very specific goals. And you can be with me, live in a group for like, six weeks and pay like $1,000. So you can learn a lot and still have not just strictly a diy doing it yourself. You can have some mentorship inside of groups. So that might be where you start and then start gaining some momentum and direction, because it amazes me at every age, every age, whether I am working on somebody that totally needs a reinvention and they’re in their, they’ve done this whole career, or somebody that is starting out, young. I mean, I attract every age, men, women, because it’s business. But I’m still kind of shocked how many people come in that get into a business and they say, well, I don’t have a lot of money to invest right now because it’s new. And I’m like, well, why would you just start a business with a little bit of money? It’s going to take time to build it. You have to have the vest in the mentor. You have to invest in equipment. You have to invest in the skills to learn. You have to invest in learning everything. And just letting the business grow typically takes anywhere from two years just kind of getting to three years. Realistically, I have some clients now. They’re already in their third or fourth year. They’re totally rocking it, got their dream business. But yeah, they questioned themselves when they first got out there. I mean, it doesn’t just turn a key because you opened up a website, you still have to get better at what you’re doing and build that client list. So it’s crazy to think you’re going to start a business on a shoestring budget. You just can’t. It’s going to take you so much longer to be successful.
Jonathan DeYoe: How important is that mindset? Because it’s going to take time. It’s going to be rough. How important is that? Stick to it. Grow through it mindset.
Debbie Allen: Well, you find one thing that helps you get through the mindset, like that statement that was told to me when I was 30 years old that I think about all the time, you better make this more than just a hobby. And so I even pay attention, like when I tell people people are going, well, I really don’t have to make much money, but they’re paying me a lot of money to be their mentor. I’m like, I don’t know if you’re the right fit because, you should work on your business as if it’s a money maker, then decide the financial freedom, pieces around it, right where you want to work, how you want to work, whatever. But the mindset thing is going to sabotage anything you do if you don’t work on that. And when somebody tells me, well, I know what you do is help people become experts and position them and I love everything you’ve done, and I really own that space, and I get it, but I have impostor syndrome. And so when they say those two words, I’m like, okay, I run for the hills. Because that means they’re going to choose. They put themselves in a box that says, I don’t believe in myself, and that means they’re going to self sabotage it. And I know this firsthand, so those words come out of somebody’s mouth, like, I don’t think I’m the person for you. You need to work on that, because that is really, truly self sabotage. And that self sabotage comes from growing up. Stuff they went through they haven’t dealt with yet, not understanding their value, I mean, wherever that comes from. I think that growing up, my dad was always like, women are not successful. Men are. So I had to buy into my family business. My brother was given part of the business. He always felt I’d be the worker be and my brother would be successful. So I became a real workaholic. Like, kind of trying to prove to my dad I think that I could be successful. And even at this age, it’s like I tell him, I’m m not going to apologize for being successful because he’s lost money in every business since, and he’s a self sabotager. I could have went that way. I saw how he sabotaged himself with money and his mindset and pushing away relationships, and I’m like, I could have been that. And I went the other way. So I used those negative things of growing up into something positive. I’m going to be this. And my mom was the person that grew up with very low self confidence in herself. But she always wanted it for me. Like, she would always pump up my confidence, and you could do this and you can do that. And so I think that she helped me. My dad gave me some opportunities in business, motivated me in kind of a negative way, but it motivated me big time. And my mom always believed in me. And so I think you have to hold on to what you’ve got from the past that works for you. And if none of it works for you, I just don’t want to be like that. I want to change it. Like Mona, a homeless. Come on. And my client mark, who got the scholarship, he’s in a car accident. He’s in the hospital for an entire year. Burns all over his body. During that time, his wife left him. His son committed suicide. I mean, he could just gave it up. And the man is so positive. It goes all the way back to mindset and attitude. You can’t change that.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Oh, my God, what a horrible story. I’m imagining those two specifically, but I’m sure you have other stories that are just totally inspirational that help you keep going. When you run into struggle, do you find that your mentees become kind of your mentors because of that sort of scenario?
Debbie Allen: I’ve hired some of them because they’re experts in what they do, and so they’re very good. And even the beginning of the year, I hired one of my mindset coaches because I was going through two years of the pandemic, taking my business where I was all visible live stages. And now I’ve been doing events for 15 years of big stages, and it’s like, I’m not doing that anymore. But that was really hard for me to say. I’m not going to do that anymore because that’s where my sense of significance was, to be on that stage. Knowing how to do that and taking it all online and it’s building different relationships and longer. It takes longer to build relationships online, but we can do it and we are doing it and it’s becoming better and better. But I think I worked with her because I was really struggling with that in the beginning of the year. Like, I’m leaving a total way of doing business that I know how to do, and it is me, and I’m taking it all online except for very small intimate groups, people that are in my business family. I will do small events with them, my mastermind and things like that. My vip speaker trainings, my vip days, but that’s it. I’m no more, like, in the public like that except for online. And so what’s good for other people is you can come on to any of my online classes, anybody else that you choose as your mentor and go to their classes for free. Now, they might be making an offer at the end, but if you’re like, go to my classes. I give tons of value. Like, tons. And so that’s the kind of classes you can go to and learn a lot that are free. But again, you can’t do too much of that. You got to find your lane. Otherwise you become this seminar junkie, which you don’t implement things right.
Jonathan DeYoe: You got to do. You can’t just learn. You have to actually ultimately do. So I’m curious. I had such a hard time when I read some of your bio and I read something about you with the title of your second book. And maybe this wasn’t your second book. It’s the second book on your website, the confessions of a shameless. I am conditioned to just see the ugliness of self promotion. So correct me on this.
Debbie Allen: Oh, that’s why I was so successful with it. People like you, Jonathan, I’d be like, jonathan, get up here on stage with me right now. I’m going to shift know. So that’s the reason I wrote it, because people were coming to me for the reason of don’t have, I, can’t grow my business because I don’t have very big marketing budget because I was teaching marketing, right? And so I’d say you have yourself. Are you kidding me? Like, you have an idea. You have to be passionate about what you’re, you’re always going to be selling yourself and your ideas for the rest of your life. Get used to it, right? And me being an entrepreneur since I was 19, I was always selling my ideas. And what we were doing, it was always changing, always growing. It was kind of a way of life. But I also grew up with a car salesman 20 some years, right? So it’s difference between like, shameful self promotion and shameless self promotion. There’s a difference. So shameful would be in your face, pushy, intrusive, like all about me tooting my horn. But I teach the art of you actually loving it because you see the results. You promote yourself in the service of others. So if you’re not talking about your programs, what you’re offering, how you help people, you’re not only robbing yourself of more income, you’re robbing themselves of the opportunity to work with you and change and make a difference. So when you step into that expert world, when you step into that influencer world, you step into another game of responsibility where it’s just not about you anymore. It’s about all the people that you can help. And if you’re not in places where you’re talking about what you’re doing, but really here’s the key, Jonathan, you have to learn how to connect your head and your heart together when you come from that conversation. So it’s not about sales, pitchy, pushy, salesy kind of thing. It’s about, let me have a conversation with you. And then from that conversation, I believe I can help you. And here’s how I think I can help you with that. Now, in the book, it was a lot of funny stories about people doing outrageous marketing things, because I took all of my marketing mentors, Mark Victor Hansen, Joe Vitali, and Dan Kennedy, all those marketing people I follow, and I contacted them and I want to interview you to be in this book. And so they end up buying hundreds of. Dan Kennedy bought hundreds of copies of the book, gave it to everybody in his, membership program. Then I got on Howard Stern with it, and a four and a half minute interview with Howard Stern took it to bestseller in a whole nother level. Then my speaking business took off, and I was speaking to everywhere on shameless promotion. It was crazy. Nobody else had that niche, and everybody has that. So many people grow up with that same feeling, like, oh, I don’t want to promote themselves, but if you’re an entrepreneur, you have to learn it. And it is an art. There is an art and a science to it.
Jonathan DeYoe: When I imagine self promotion, what I imagine is the chamber of commerce mixer and the guy running around just shoving the business card at you, just, here’s a business card. Here’s a business card. And it’s like that. The goal is just to get as many business cards out there as possible, regardless of the relationship or the effect you have on other people. So the idea of shameless self promotion, where you’re actually saying, I can help you, it starts with, I can help you. And that’s actually really, really important, is understanding that and knowing who you can.
Debbie Allen: Help and learning that when you go to the networking event, is you go there with the goal in mind to maybe make two or three connections. That’s it. Have the conversations. When the conversations are right and you see an opportunity, you’re like a dog with a bone, but you still have a heart. Like, you go for it, and you look for an opportunity, but you’re only looking for the right people. And then if it’s right, it’s not. And then you learn how to have good conversations around this. So it’s very giving. But that was so successful, and I turned so many heads around that, and I was one that owned that space in shameless self promotion. So it was like the license plate of my car. People just call me shameless all the time. I didn’t even have a name. And so it was actually a hard brand to move away from, to reinvent, because it was so, successful. And the only reason I did move away from it is because in 2008, when the economy crashed, it’s like I was at the height of my speaking career, and my market was real estate, mortgage, and politics. I speak a lot for shameless self promotion and politics and retail. So what happened? Most of those industries crash and burn, right? There’s no business out there. So that’s when I went internationally, but what I’m doing now is kind of a grown up level of that, teaching people to be experts. So you still have to say the same way, hey, can I claim myself as an expert? Am I good enough for that yet? And so it’s like a grown up self promotion that I teach, I think.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, that’s awesome. So you mentioned earlier, and I want to come back to the books, but you mentioned earlier YouTube, and I think that it’s so important to realize for folks that are starting out and don’t maybe have access to a $20,000 a quarter speaker or a coach or a mentor, that there’s access to these same exact people that do videos on YouTube and they offer most of their stuff for free. And for them, it’s building their own credibility, but it’s also offering these great nuggets that you can learn from. Are there a couple youtubers or speakers or coaches or mentors that you follow on YouTube or in none of these other free locations?
Debbie Allen: I don’t now, but of course I have. There’s a guy, I can’t think of his name. Very motivational. You find your people for whatever it is you’re going through. So it’s like different times. I’m looking for different things. Mostly now I’m on summits, listening to people on summits. So the summits are free. So if you’re listening to a summit on a specific topic, well, you can learn a lot. I mean, those are lengthy. Interviews are really great. I end up getting a lot of clients from being on summits, and they’re usually just like 30 minutes interviews, but they’re on a very specific topic. So the people that are looking for those topics and summits have grown exponentially because of COVID Right. So find those summits. They’re everywhere. Right. And go look for those just on a Google search. Summit on this title, summit on this. You’ll find whatever on a Google search. And that’s kind of how you find your mentors. To listen to an interview from either podcast. Again, those are free, too. Great podcasts. Follow your podcasts that have great guests and then find your mentors that way, those people that you relate to. So I’m always looking for new mentors. I’m always working with somebody at some time in my life. There’s some new thing I need to learn that I need a mentor on, and sometimes it’s somebody that is a peer of mine that does similar thing than I do, but they’re just a little bit better. They’re making a little bit more money than I’m like, okay, if I invest three grand in this and I can learn one little nugget, I see the return on investment. I can just go with that, right? So you get to different levels. Like, when you first start out, it might be the personal development, it might be. Then get into marketing and business strategies, and then you get into other levels where you’re just hiring people within your circle. All my friends in my circle, in my mastermind group, they’re all, like, all over the world, and they’re the best experts in the world. There’s 170 people in my mastermind group. So it’s just a gift of knowledge at a high level, but I didn’t start there. And so again, we have podcasts now. We have videos with YouTube, and we have TikTok. I’m a TikTok fan. I mean, you get into the algorithms, and it’s like, it knows what you want. And that’s my morning news. Like, little short things. Like, I want to see what’s going on and just things that you’re interested in. And we’re used to watching video. We didn’t have any of that when I was looking at this business. I mean, I started debbieallen.com in 1997. Like, imagine how many times it’s been reinvented. Right now you can find anything you want. Be an avid reader. I mean, I was reading a book a week back then, and so that’s how I became an expert in specifically marketing, and then kind of morphed it into the expert world. It was because I was an avid reader, because we didn’t have the videos and things we have now.
Jonathan DeYoe: I mean, it sounds a lot like. And I think it makes perfect sense that there’s a lot of responsibility on the person that’s searching out a mentor to learn the new skills, find the books, find the potential mentors, watch the videos, go to YouTube, do the searches, and get the algorithm working on your behalf. But once you get the algorithm working on your behalf, and once you’ve started that, the idea of learning and absorbing all this content, there’s just volumes of content that’s out there. One of the people that struck me this is probably 1215 years ago, was Eric Thomas. He’s E. T. The hip hop preacher. Sure. And he was motivational. He wasn’t about structure. He was just about motivation. Life is hard. Get in front of it. Life is hard. Get in front of it. Life is hard. Learn more. Life is hard. And it was fantastic. As a motivation when I was starting my five years into starting my business and floundering, like figuring out where do I go from here? And that’s so powerful. I want to actually ask you about the third book, which is, I think, really where the majority of your focus is nowadays in terms of the highly paid expert. So tell us about your mentoring programs. And I went to the website and there’s lots of different variations of it, but what is it you’re doing to help experts admit their expertise and then turn that expertise into income?
Debbie Allen: Well, before I answer that question, I will just tell you, this is watch that you hire the right mentor. Make sure you check them out on a Google. There’s no scam reports because there’s a lot of bad people that can make a lot of money just selling your stuff. They’re really good at speaking and influencing people, and they sell them things. They’re like little con artists, right? And so I take on that responsibility when I take on a client to make sure that they’re ethical and they’re good. They got good core values because that’s who I am, pay my bills on time, always tell the truth to the point. That’s who I am. So I want people like that, right? Because I know that it has my name on it if I’ve taught them to be out there in the public when they grow. So do your due diligence. check the references, make sure they’re going to do that. Okay. On mine, I have been mentoring for so many years. I don’t have any Google scams. I don’t have any negative stuff out there. And I have protected my whole Persona online and what I do and how I take care of my clients because I always over deliver. And the biggest problem is you’ll find a lot of people that just under deliver like crazy. They take your money. And I always over deliver. And so I think that’s one of the things. And so the programs I love working with the most is when somebody comes in and says, I want your whole program when I want a vip. Because now I know they’ve invested in enough to say, hey, I’ve been doing this for 25 years. You’re not going to learn it in two months. I’m going to give you a jump start. You can do that and then go off on your own if you want, or if it’s quick reinvention, maybe, but otherwise, if you’re building a new business and you want to know, do what I’m doing. You want to be an expert, you want to be a speaker, you want to be a consultant or mentor, you want to do online courses, write books, and you want all that stuff, come to me. I’m the person for you. I’ve done it all so many times, but it’s going to take time to build it. We got to build your brand, we got to build your website, we got to build your skills. We got to build all of these things. And to look at a business of that kind of invest, I think those are the smart people that say, I’m in it for the long haul. I mean, these are the ones that have been the most successful with me because they invested, they stuck with it. They learned. And when they’re ready to go after a year, they’re launching, they’re moving, they’re making money because they looked at it as a business. I have another one that’s a school teacher. She only made $45,000 a year. For 20 years. She didn’t know how to be an entrepreneur. Then she was selling the topic of gratitude. Well, her first year after working with me, she made six figures because he took the science of the brain and how the brain works with gratitude because she told me, oh, by the way, I went to school and studied the brain, and I’m a neuroscientist. I’m like, oh, my God, ching, ching, ching. This is everything, right? So I knew how to blend that and how to make it money with that. And I also taught her how to be an entrepreneur. She didn’t know how that. She said to me, I only knew how to collect a paycheck. I didn’t know how to go out and make my own money. I was, like, scratching my head, like, that’s all I’ve done. But, yeah, that made sense. So I think that’s stepping all the way in, knowing that it’s going to take you a while to build the business and don’t stay in your job. Stay in your job where you’re at. Save money on the side and then have the money to invest and do it right. Because it’s going to take some money up front, it’s going to take time up front, and then you got to build the business so you don’t jump in with little bit of money and just say, I hate my job because I’ve had people do that. Like, I hate my job. I’m just going to quit and I’m going to figure out how to be a coach and a speaker, and it’s like they’re floundering.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Recipe for failure for sure.
Debbie Allen: A lot of them have to go through three or four mentors before they find me. I mean, I have some people come to me, they spent $200,000 with all the wrong mentors, and then they’re like, okay, I’m going to invest with you. I’m like, wow. Well, that’s a big compliment because you’ve been burned a lot and let’s figure out why you’ve been burned and then let’s change that.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So if I’m a neurosurgeon or doctor of some kind, I’m an expert at, ah, medicine of some sort. I know how to get paid, right? I know how that paycheck comes. Now, if I have a less obvious expertise, what are the steps that people take so that they can actually create an income stream out of that expertise?
Debbie Allen: Well, depending on what their expertise is, most people go into like a coaching kind of a thing, right? Because coaching is your time. You’re selling your time. And so for the first thing for coaches, I say, stop charging dollar per hour, no more. That’s the first thing we decide from day one, no more dollar per hour. If we’re selling packages, they go, well, I can lose some of the clients I have. You don’t have good clients, okay? You want them to go because if they’re paying you dollar per hour, they’re looking at their watch and they’re trying to get every. I got ten more questions for you. I know we only have two minutes and they’re just trying to get everything they can out of you being cheap. And then every time they invest with, you got to sell them again, sell them again. And, you know, you can only give them so much success versus people that come in and buy packages where you’re going to be with them a certain period of time, you’re going to be giving them a certain amount of knowledge or whatever. That’s where you’re going to get a much higher success rate. My goal isn’t to turn and burn clients to numbers. It’s to keep my high success rates and I have very high success rate of my clients. And so that’s my main goal. Like I said, I can have somebody come into a group program, learn a little bit, and they leave and they can be on their own. But most of the people even coming to my group programs are pretty ambitious, pretty ready to go. But I know that they still, even in a group program, if I don’t throw in a personal one on one call with them to give them direction, they’re going to be floundering throughout the whole class because you’re still trying to figure out the foundation piece. The foundation piece. What I’m going to speak on, what am I going to be a consultant on? Where’s my lane? And they struggle to find their lane, so they got like all these lanes, and then they can’t be successful because they’re a generalist. So I can just go, there’s your lane. I find it.
Jonathan DeYoe: Help them navigate to get to the lane. So, your last book and the title of the last book is provocative to say the least. Success is easy. I’m sure you have gotten quite a bit of pushback on that, on just the title alone. How can you say that? What is the secret?
Debbie Allen: Well, anything that’s provocative in a title, it usually gets attention, sells books. That was my first book with Entrepreneur magazine, which was, my dream publisher. Unfortunately, the book came out just before the pandemic, so that was made a little bit tougher. But the whole concept of the book is really great. Motivational business book. I mean, it’s like a legacy business book. Like, I put all of my knowledge and there are so many great things that people need on business. It covers mindset, then it gets into business building. But the thing is that every business I’ve ever started, I knew little or nothing about. I barely passed high school, never went to college, never even applied for a JLB in my life. I have to spell it. So I believe success is easy if you take the right path and you get the right mentors and you write the right support and you’ve done the work, the mindset work, because for me, it was. There’s a million reasons why I could have continued to fail over and over and over again. Every business I started, I didn’t know the how and I didn’t have a lot of money to invest. So I just wanted to show people that quit making excuses. It can be easy if you follow the right path. People make one failure and then they quit. Or they hired the wrong mentor and they didn’t get what they wanted to, and then they quit. Like you quit too soon. I mean, I could have quit a thousand times. I made a lot of mistakes, but it’s just that what keeps you going and, just always knowing that you don’t know everything, that you always need to be having some support. And I think when you’re that true entrepreneur, you’re a lifelong learner. You’re always looking for that next thing, wanting to learn. What’s that next chapter? Once I’ve got it all dialed in, and it’s not even about the money, because it’s like, when I made the most money is not when I was most enjoying my business, because it just flowed too easy. And then I was like, okay, what’s the next challenge? I think that’s part of an entrepreneur is like, I got a new idea. Let me see if I can launch this. But knowing that you have to stay focused, because that’s another thing my dad did, is he would start a new business every six months and say, oh, here’s a great idea. And then he would lose money in most of those. And so I learned the power of focus, that you got to focus, you got to build it. You can’t do a lot of different things. You got to really laser beam focus. And that’s when you move forward. And you’ve heard this Jonathan, too. Like, people say, oh, I got three books in my head, or I got three business ideas. You pick one. Go.
Jonathan DeYoe: In all, I think, I don’t know where I heard this originally, but I think maybe it’s my dad who said, you know what? You just got to be too stupid to fail. You just got to keep going, keep going, keep going. Doesn’t work. Try something new. Doesn’t work. Try something new. But as you said, you have to focus on a thing long enough to determine it won’t work. You can’t. Just one roadblock, you’re done. You’re going to the next thing. So how do you know the difference? How do you walk that fine line between this is a problem that means this business won’t work versus this is a problem I have to overcome in this business.
Debbie Allen: Well, for me was I never wanted to apply for a job. I’m either going to get fired the first week or I’m buying the company. It wouldn’t work for me. And so that’s my motivation when I’ve gone through the biggest challenges. And I would think 2008 was a biggie, and within three months, I took my business 90% internationally. Like, I just focused on that. And then I was booked all over the world. And then during the pandemic, it was just really going more online, but really 100% online when I was doing big events. So that wasn’t an easy shift. Doing my biggest event, going from 50 people in a room to 600 people in a room, was one of my most successful weekends making a half million dollars. But my credit card company froze all the sales. And then after a month, they said, we’re going to freeze them for six months, even though we had documentation, proof, and everything else. So we had to have different people running the charges and find a new merchant account company. And that was a nightmare because they’re just coming off like, oh, I just made a half million dollars in a weekend. That was really exciting. And then it was like, well, but I don’t have my money because somebody else is holding it. So there were some scary things like, how are we going to get through this? But, we got through them all. And, once. The bigger the mistakes are, the bigger the challenges. I wouldn’t say they were actually. Some were mistakes and some were just big challenges I didn’t know were coming. Those were. You learn the biggest lessons, like, it only has to happen once. This is not happening again.
Jonathan DeYoe: Let’s hope it’s just once.
Debbie Allen: Yeah. Well, in 2008, I was a one trick pony. I was a paid professional speaker. I was one of the top three women professional speakers in the world. I was making great money. I was traveling. I had my dream job. Like, everything was great. And then it was the best thing that happened because that wasn’t going to be consistent for my whole life. I was still young. I could travel and do whatever I wanted then, but I really learned that this could be taken out. I’m at the top of my game. How could this be taken away from me? Because the world changed, and we know that now with COVID the world changes. And you can’t be a one trick pony. You got to have other ways. So what I do in teaching people to be experts is creating a business with multiple income streams. So there’s different ways they deliver the message, because when you think about, it’s all communication. I could deliver it through a book. I could deliver it through an online course. I could deliver it through a podcast. I could deliver it through a live event. I can do it online. Endless number of income streams. And so having a plan with all of those so that you’re protected was the biggest lesson I learned from those two.
Jonathan DeYoe: Go ahead.
Debbie Allen: No, those two. The 2008 and the pandemic, those two biggest things that were happening in the world.
Jonathan DeYoe: And it sounds like you’ve embodied that success. You’ve taken that lesson and you’ve turned it on your own business, which is. That says a lot right there. I want to say thanks for spending the time today. I like to close with a couple of personal questions. So, first, what was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Debbie Allen: Oh, gosh. Last thing I changed my mind about was live events. I went back last fall to do live events, and it was still brutal. It was tough, half the room, but you’re paying as much money doing the events and stuff, putting it on. So coming to the realization of having to walk away from that, and then I was okay with it, because really, what I wanted anyway is manifesting it. It’s quite interesting. so changing my mind about. From being live to being 90% online, that was a really hard decision to make earlier this year, but I made that decision. That’s my lane now.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Do you think live events are over?
Debbie Allen: No, I don’t think they’re over. I think they’re coming back, and they’re good. But the thing is that now we have both, and it’s still a little iffy. We were so locked up for so long, it just got a little weird. And not everybody’s ready to go back yet. I feel that much tougher than we ever imagined it could be. So now we have both. Now we have choices, and so my choices stay in this lane.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. I love it. I don’t know about you, but staying home for two years is making it harder for me to go out and do things like, I haven’t been to the office for a while. I try to go once a week now, but it’s definitely not easy. Is there anything. The second question is, is there anything people don’t know or don’t remember about you that you really want them to know and remember?
Debbie Allen: I’m just a girl from, you know, I’m just a down to earth girl that has the same thoughts that they have about, I’m just authentic and I’m real, and I still doubt myself when I’m going through stuff. I still pinch myself and go, is this my life? Like, people say, you’re successful and you’ve done all this stuff. And I go, you’ve written ten books, and you’ve done this. 28 countries, and I still pinch myself and go, that doesn’t even sound like me. There’s still that little girl in me that just doubts that. So I think that’s okay. You’re always going to have it. You just go, I do what I do because I love helping people be successful. So I’m not hung up on how I think about myself because I’ve stepped into a much bigger world many years ago, and this is my know, it’s just like anybody’s. Like, I got another job, like an accountant or anything. This is my life. It’s just more public, but I’m here to help people. And so when I’m not as motivated or not feeling as confident, it isn’t about me anymore. It’s about the people that I help.
Jonathan DeYoe: Beautiful Debbie, how do people connect with you?
Debbie Allen: They can go to my website, debbieallen.com. Famous name like the dancer, right? Debbieallen.com if they want to learn more about expert positioning, because that’s something they really want to position themselves at, I’ve got some free email@example.com. So there’s a short 30 minutes video on there that really explains what it is. Then there’s a great download with a one page business plan to make it simple. So that’s a great opportunity gift for you, too. Expertpositioningsuccess.com then debbieallen.com at least all my events and podcasts and everything else I do. So feel free to follow me. I love it. Great being here with you today, Jonathan.
Jonathan DeYoe: Great. Thanks, Debbie.
Debbie Allen: Okay.