“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Tory Archbold is the CEO and Founder of Powerful Steps, an online community and platform for women who are making a global impact. Powerful Steps is driven by using human connection to create opportunities for leaders to find their ultimate power through a heart-led skillset and the power of strategic storytelling to add value to the companies they lead.
Prior to Powerful Steps, Tory was the founder of award-winning TORSTAR, Australia’s most high profile brand and communications agency. Under her leadership, TORSTAR worked with some of the world's top-performing brands, celebrities, and influencers including Zara, Nespresso, Victoria’s Secret, and actress Drew Barrymore. In particular, the launch event for Zara in Sydney was attended by more than 22,000 people and was Zara’s most successful retail launch event to date.
Tory is also the host of the Powerful Stories podcast and has a brand new book, Self-Belief is Your Superpower, hot off the presses.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about:
- Tory's journey to success in the PR industry, including her approach to building connections and overcoming doubt;
- Her concept of "3 coffee dates a week" and how it can quickly upgrade your professional network;
- How to discover your purpose and the role that life, business, and family experience can play in revealing it; and
- The formula for you to start taking powerful steps in your own life.
Before we begin, the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode or could use some help to Win the Day, share it with them right now.
Let’s WIN THE DAY with Tory Archbold!
Tory, great to see you! Thanks so much for coming on the show.
James. It's so fantastic. And two Aussies in Los Angeles! What more could you ask for?
To kick things off, is there a story that comes to mind to give us a bit of a sense of where you grew up and what your younger days were like?
You own your power when you own your story, and I love that you're kicking off with this question because it's not often that we reflect on where we came from. I think everyone lives this go, go, go, go life, and they have this go, go attitude that when you actually come back to your true self is where you actually claim the power to move forward.
So I had a normal childhood growing up in Sydney on the North Shore, and I left school and everyone wanted me to be an interior designer, marry a nice guy, join a few clubs, and just be a stay-at-home mum. But I felt inside of me and I really learnt to trust my intuition from an early age that I was capable of more and I didn't want to be placed in a box.
I decided to jump outside of that box and I moved to London on the working holiday visa and I got to work with some incredible entertainment companies and for people that were at the top of their game, like Columbia TriStar, George Lucas Films, MTV Europe. When my visa expired, I came back to Australia and I was like, what's next?
I decided to jump in the deep end and outside of that box once again, and I started my own company at 24. So when I look back at my childhood, I really think that people tried to box me, but I didn't want to be boxed, which landed me to where I am today.
You know being put in a box is something that I’ve always struggled with, too! I can totally relate to that. Is that a personality trait or something else?
I feel like you and I trust ourselves, and so, therefore, we're able to jump. When you're able to trust yourself, anything is possible. And so, when people often look at the impossible and they say, "Well, no, actually society wants me to be this." I think you and I look at what's possible and nothing is not available to us as humans.
When you're able to trust yourself, anything is possible.
So, for anyone out there listening, you can be conditioned to be one kind of person, but it's up to you to make that move forward, to become and trust what you're meant to be.
In your new book, you mentioned that your superpower for success in that industry wasn't formal education, but instead was being educated through the power of connection. What do you mean by the power of connection and how did you leverage it during those early stages of your business?
Yeah. Well, when I jumped outside that box, James, I had no money, no media connections, and I think I actually had a little bit of credit card debt.
I thought, okay, what do I really want? And so, I thought if I was going to start a business, the best way to start it was based on my values because I knew that my values would attract the right people into my life. So I sat down and I was like, "What do I really value?"
I knew I was passionate and I wanted to be surrounded by passionate people. So that was the first value. The second one was integrity, because I didn't want to work with assholes and I don't have time for them. And the third one was delivery because you only are as good as this last podcast chat or the people that you meet and create and deliver impact for. So I had my values and then I'm like, "Okay, well I need to actually attract my first client."
I knew that my values would attract the right people into my life.
So I started making calls in Australia and I said, "Look, I've just started this brand communications agency, it's called TORSTAR. I'd like to meet, connect, see what we can do together." Boom, boom, boom, everyone was hanging up the phone. And so, I decided to switch my thinking and I went back to my London days and I made a call to a lady who I'd coffee dated with a lot over there.
I said, "Look, I'm starting this business. This is what I want to do." And she goes, "You would be brilliant at that. Let me introduce you to the number one retail chain or department store in Australia. They're about to launch a supermodel in that market. Let me make a call."
That's how I got my first client. No matter whether you've got a podcast or you're promoting a brand, you have to have something that people go, "Wow, I want a slice of that, or I want to be a part of what you are creating." So I had the client, I had the supermodel, I had my values, and then I had to put into action how I was actually going to launch this.
Again, no one would take my calls. So, I decided to sit down and say to myself, how am I going to build a really powerful network? The kind of network where people want to connect with me, they know that I can create and deliver impact. But most importantly, they advocate for my business. I think that's really important. When you're building a business, whether it's your own or someone else's, you want advocacy.
So I decided that I was going to commit to three coffee dates a week. One was someone I knew, one was someone I wanted to partner with, and one was someone completely outside my comfort zone. That attracted the world's top performing brands, Fortune 500 companies, the most influential Hollywood celebrities and influencers into my life. But it was because I anchored everything to my values, my intent, my purpose.
I wasn't afraid to keep stepping outside of that box because one of the things I said to myself was step outside your comfort zone every single day of the week through the power of coffee dates. That's how I created it.
When you talk about people staying in their comfort zone, it's so easy to picture the person who works in isolation at the same spot in the office doing the same thing, wondering why they don't have the inspiration. They're not exposed to powerful stories, they're not exposed to people who have been able to implement the success that they want.
And I still do it today. I shut my first business when I was 44 and everyone said, "Why are you doing that? You've got a multi-million dollar business. You're working with the best of the best. Why would you shut it?" And I said, "Because I can." And I started again.
When I started again with Powerful Steps, I said to myself, "It's the same formula. Have your values changed? No, they haven't. Passion, integrity, delivery. How are you going to connect with people? How are you going to share the power of what you're doing? Coffee dates." And that's what I've been doing in LA as well.
I always give myself the stretch, but most importantly, when people lean into the power of coffee dates, whether it's virtual or whether it's in person, because let's face it, we've now got a borderless community. Which means that anyone, if you're sitting at home listening to these podcasts, you can pick up the phone and have a coffee date with anyone in the world via Zoom or via WhatsApp or whatever you use for technology.
Nothing is beyond your reach. You've just got to shift your energy forward.
Yeah, there's no excuses anymore.
There's never any excuses.
How are you making sure that when scheduling these coffee dates you are positioning it as something of value to them, rather than risk them thinking it’s going to be all about you?
I walk into every coffee date saying, this is a mutual exchange of energy. The first thing I ask people is, "How can I help?" Now this is a great question and I love it because over here the doors have been opening for us because I asked, how can I help? Now the crazy thing is this, when you're listening, I didn't even have 10,000 Instagram followers, and most people were, "Oh, you need to have a million connections to actually connect high up there." You don't, you just need to have the credibility.
The first thing I ask people is, "How can I help?"
And if you've got the credibility, when you show people how they can work with you, why they should work with you. You've got the advocacy from other people which comes through the delivery part, then that's when the doors open.
It's an energy match because you've shown people the runway of life and you're sharing and you're paying it forward. So people want to be a part of that momentum, and that's how you create and build powerful brands.
Do you use the negative energy of haters to motivate you to further impact and productivity?
This is a great question.
So years ago, it used to bother me. It doesn't bother me anymore. And I can normally tell within a hot minute whether or not I want to give my energy to someone. And if I don't, I just quickly wrap it up.
You can always tell when someone comes in and it's about me, which means that they're ego led, whereas I attract heart led and I feel that we have a digital footprint that's so powerful. Anyone can Google your name or my name today, and what Captain Google says about you really should be anchored to your truth, your intent, your purpose, but most importantly your integrity. What's your message?
So I tend to now attract those high vibrational people because I'm so clear about who I am. Whereas years ago with TORSTAR, I had that success and survival survival story, which I know we're going to delve into. I wasn't necessarily attracting the high vibrational people, like yes, they were from the outside. But on the inside, they were rotten. And I had to work out a way to navigate and get myself through that phase so that I could only attract the good ones.
One of my biggest lessons of the last 10 years is to trust your instinct when it comes to people. I feel like within 30 seconds, you can tell whether someone is aligned with you in terms of values. It's so quick.
I'm amazed how many people there are, 40, 50 years of age who haven't even figured out the concept that the most interesting thing to most people is themselves. So rather than talking about yourself, the best way to get someone interested in you is to be interested in them, as Dale Carnegie said.
100%. And that's why I think you should always lead with, how can I help you? Share your story. What are your energy blocks? And then you can actually say, "Well, actually, I feel like I can help you this way." Now if that person is a really good energy match, they're going to turn around and go, "well, I think I can help you that way."
That's the power of attracting the right energy fields and also having that magnetic presence when you walk into a room. We've spoken about coffee dates, but also when you're doing a deal or when you're walking into a room of unknown people, you can either walk in all closed up or you can walk in just because you're so happy with who you are from the inside out, that you attract all those good energy fields and you attract the right people.
Which means that you're in flow with your life, which means that you're not attracting people that aren't meant for you. You're attracting people that are meant for your journey so that you can pay it forward.
For someone who wants to be successful in PR, what are the two or three things that they can do to be able to be successful in that field?
PR for themself or the business?
Good question. Maybe either one? However you want to take it.
Let's do for yourself, because I believe whether you're a CEO, an entrepreneur, a board member, or someone who's just leaving corporate and wants to jump into being an entrepreneur, being their own boss, I think the power of your story, you don't need a publicist for this, by the way. You don't need a publicist for this at all. You just need to own who you are.
So if you break down the patterns in your life and you really look at the strengths and the challenges, I don't think that when you go out and write your LinkedIn bio for instance, it's all about your wins. It's about how you actually overcame challenges as well. Because what you want to do is you want to cook where people are like, "Oh, me too," or "I want to discover a little bit more about that."
So I'll give an example. When you're building a brand, of course, you're building an empire. But in the same instance, when you take people on your journey, you're going to have more opportunity when you give fast facts that people don't know about you. So for instance, when I was writing my LinkedIn bio, we put in there, and I got married for the first time at 46. Now the internet is so wrong. It's like, who's Tory's first husband? You can Google it, it comes up in America and Australia. It shits me from beyond!
You don't need a publicist. You just need to own who you are.
So I said to myself, if I just put in my bio, I got married at 46, but hey, guess what? I started my first business at 24. These are the brands I attracted. These are the results, these are the challenges, which means how can I help you? But hey, here's a fun fact about me. Guess how many DMs I get from women in high profile corporate roles who are not married in their 40s, who haven't had children or a single mum and struggling?
That out of everything, they don't give a shit about what I've created. They're just like, "Oh, that's me too. How can I understand more of this journey?" So what you're doing is you're giving people a hook.
The second thing is coffee date a lot. If you want to be profiled in a Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc Magazine, it's really important that you get engaged with the writers and you understand what they're writing about.
So again, use LinkedIn, use Instagram, be visible, take into consideration what they're writing, how does that relate to you? And then just ask them for a coffee date. "Hey, I'd like to connect. I'd like to meet." That's where the best relationships are. But if you're going from a cold call perspective, the answer's going to be no, because it's not going to be an energy match because you've shown them no love.
So it's the same as maybe someone going, "Hey, James, I want to be on your podcast." Or "Hey, Tory, I want to be on your podcast." And I know that they don't communicate with my community. I know they don't follow me. I know they don't engage me. I also know they haven't listened to my podcast. So why would that be a yes? It's going to be a no.
And the third thing is always show up because you never know who's watching. So those posts that you're doing on LinkedIn are helping your brand's SEO from an algorithm perspective or you going to an event, a mastermind and networking dinner, whatever. What you're doing is you're sharing your energy with others.
And so, if you are looking at building a personal brand and you really want your business to fly high, it's connect and be seen with the right people. And when I say never give up, I really mean never give up because I can't tell you how many times I walk into a room and people go, "Oh my gosh, I love what you're doing." And I'm thinking, I haven't seen or spoken to you for five years. How is that possible!?
They've been watching. And they're the ones that we do the big partnership deals with because they swoop in and they say, "We love what you're doing. How can we become involved?" So hopefully those three variations, that's personal.
Then for a business, look, you can hire someone to do it, obviously a company, and really do your research on that, or you can get someone internally to do it. And I would just recommend the same process, but be very clear on how you want to be positioned. Always talk about your values. Of course, talk about the wins, the successes, include your team so that they feel involved and other people looking into your business can go, "This is a really good culture that I want to be involved in."
But most importantly, again, just show up and share the challenges. If you're having a challenge in your business, don't be afraid to ask for help. That's where you get the best bounce. And all of those businesses out there that I've been doing this for over 20 years now that just talk about the glossy side, they always fail.
It's like when you see someone, if you're busy comparing statistics of, "Hey, I was a bestselling whatever," who isn't a bestselling author or a podcast host and TEDx speaker these days!? They’re everywhere, so it’s not a competitive advantage anymore.
But if you can talk about what's underneath the surface about who you really are, share some vulnerabilities, lead with vulnerabilities as you mentioned, that's a way that you can create that bond and not only find your tribe, but build it as well.
It's very true, James. And look, I was speaking to a Forbes magazine yesterday in the US and we were talking about how I'm coming into a really crowded market, and she's like, "What's your lane?" And instead of just saying, boom, boom, boom, this is what it is. I said, "Let me come back to you."
And I think she really appreciated that. I said, "I'm working with two agencies. I know what my lane is in my market, but I'm going into a new market and I know that I've got one shot with you guys. Let me come back to you when I nail it." And I think that's a really valuable lesson because a lot of people go, "I want PR, I want to be in Forbes," and we know it's a pay to play situation, but I don't pay to play. So if there's PR on me, it's authentic and it's through development of a relationship.
She said at the end, obviously, we talked about a few ideas, and she said to me, "You really know what you're talking about. I can't wait for this conversation." And I said, "I can't wait to call you back." Now, the thing is I'm giving her value, but I've also got her on a hook because I'm not saying, oh my gosh, it's Forbes and this is going to be amazing. I'm like, "Let me come back and get the right angle for your audience." But most importantly, let me get my brand message right, because I don't want to shoot from the hip.
You mentioned that your purpose fully clicked into alignment in your 40s, where for me, it wasn't much longer before that. It was in my late 30s. Is there any way of discovering your purpose earlier than that? Or is there a certain amount of life, business and family experience that we need to go through that helps reveal that purpose to us?
Everyone has a unique footprint. So you in your 30s, I'm in my 40s. I think that life gives us so many lessons, and it's the lessons that keep coming back and hitting us head on. Those lessons that are meant for us, but we can't quite get over the speed hump or we're trying to maneuver around it, but really, we just want to walk over it with ease.
I think if you have life lessons like that, it means that the universe is saying to you, I'm here to show you the way, I'm here for you to understand what your power and purpose is and start listening. And it can happen in your 20s, it can happen in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s.
I spoke to Marianne Williamson a few months ago on our podcast, and she said to me, "I didn't really discover it until I was in my 60s. But in my 40s, I felt like I found myself." And I found that was so interesting. And now she's going into her 70s and she just said, "I find I'm now living the life I've always wanted."
When you've got a calling in life, it's there for you to answer.
So I don't think you can put a number on it, but what I think you can do is recognize that you can get there faster if you learn the lessons. Because the lessons are there to level you up and to put you at a high vibration, which means that you've got a calling. And when you've got a calling in life, it's there for you to answer.
There's moments of rebirth and ownership that we go through. I've spoken on the show before, how at the age of 23, that was basically the first time in my life that I stopped being a victim and I planted a flag to life and said, you know what? Come and get me.
That was the moment I started consuming everything I could find on peak performance, mindset, and relationships and got my health dialed in every way and started really caring about the people that I was hanging around and how I was working on myself in every possible facet.
That's been a long journey to get to this point now where it's only in the last few years, the purpose has become very clear to me.
So on the condition that we're open to it and having the right conversations through coffee dates, the network that we can build up, the professional expertise and specialized knowledge that we develop, that enables us to give value to other people. Where we can then step into that purpose and be open to something that's so much more powerful and then start living in alignment and integrity with that.
And a lot of people ask about how do you find flow? And I feel I want to deep dive on this a little bit more because what you're saying is you're soaking up all of this information. Don't wait until you have a near death experience or something major that happens to you to make change, be the change you want to see.
That's a famous quote. "The more you take the smaller steps forward, the bigger the momentum." You don't have to take a big step forward to find your purpose. All you need to do is each day, you make a promise to yourself to shift that energy forward. And what you'll find is that you'll come into alignment a lot quicker when you understand that the doors that are not meant for you are meant for someone else to experience. And the doors that you easily walk through are the experiences that you're meant to have.
Each day, make a promise to yourself to shift your energy forward.
Now, those experiences could be another lesson where it's like, boom, boom, boom, come on, James, come on, Tory, we want to take you to the next level. Or it could be a beautiful gift of just a mutual exchange of energy, a partnership, an opportunity for you to make real impact in this lifetime to help other people. But don't be afraid of just experiencing it all.
You find the best flow and you find your happy heart when you surrender to the process. You don't need to force things in life.
Speaking of powerful experiences, how did actress Drew Barrymore help you and your PR career and realize it was time for your next step?
It's really interesting because I got introduced to Drew through the power of a coffee date. So I always used to coffee date for a couple of days in LA on my way back from New York. And one of her best friends from high school introduced us. So I'm always grateful for that.
Now, how she ruined my PR career! I think for three years beforehand, I already knew that I was moving on. But I was waiting for that aha moment and I'd never had my picture taken with a celebrity my entire life. And my daughter was in her early teens at that point, and she's like, "Mum, I've got to have a photo with Drew Barrymore." And I'm like, "Really?" And she wanted to take off the day from school, and she just kept harping and harping, "I'll help you. I'll do whatever." I was like, "Okay."
And Drew with Bella was just so beautiful, bought her into this photo, and I don't want to be in the photo. I wasn't dressed for the photo. I'm always the one that's been pulling the levers behind the scenes for everyone else. And she's like, "Tory, come into the photo!" And I knew as soon as that photo was taken, I'd broken my golden rule that my clients were the stars. I didn't want to be in a photo like that, but I did it for both of them. And I just kind of thought, you know what? I feel like now is the time to step out of something that I've been incredibly successful with. I'm incredibly grateful for all of the connections.
After that photo, Drew got up and spoke about female empowerment and paying it forward and really the power and the value of our life lessons and how we can share them to make a difference. And I was like, "Aha, that's my new business." And that's how Powerful Steps was born. Literally, after that launch event for Flower Beauty in Australia, I got everyone in my team a new job. I said, "Who do you want to work for?" I made the calls, I made sure everyone was looked after. And I looked back at that photo in time and that was a moment.
Hearing Drew speak and sharing the power of her story gave me the confidence to share mine.
And Drew, if you're listening, thank you! She created my reality. She gave me the confidence through the power of her stepping up and sharing her story for me to feel that I could do the same. And I did. I ended up doing a three-page feature with Marie Claire magazine and it was called Success and Survival. And everyone on one hand saw me as this glamorous PR powerhouse, and on the other hand, I'd come home and shut the doors and my life was truly traumatic.
For 12 years of my life, I was in deep trauma and less than five people knew what was going on. And hearing Drew speak and sharing the power of her story gave me the confidence to share mine. And it transformed lives, it transformed people's perception of me.
But most importantly, what it did was it gave me a freedom in my heart. It gave me my happy heart because I no longer had to hide behind the closed door. I could just sit here with you today and just stand in my truth. And I think that's the hardest thing for people to do, James, is own the power of her story. And I feel that that moment when we were working with Drew, she gave me permission to do that.
Was there anything else aside from what you mentioned there, that you had a really difficult time owning about your story?
The difficult part of my story was I was a single mom for 12 years and I created and built a global business, had a lot of staff. I was working with the best of the best. But also with that, I was fighting a battle that no one knew about, which was with my ex-partner, not my husband as Google says of my daughter, Bella.
I spent 10 years in the family law court in Australia, and we had numerous restraining orders, and I was in court at sometimes six to eight times a year. And that's a big secret not to tell people, but that's also a lot of trauma. That's a lot of stress.
And so, I remember my best friend, and I'd been responsible for some of the biggest launches in Australia, like Zara. People write about that being the big success story in the world for that company where it's like 22,000 people came through on the day of launch. We did a million dollars in sales. But here I am and no one knows what I'm actually dealing with behind the scenes. So it's this big juxtaposition of like, wow, look at what's being created, but boom, you come home and you can't fall in a heap because you've got a child to look after and you've got a team of people, you've got overheads. I mean, there's a lot going on it.
It's a great example of everyone is fighting a battle that nothing about.
100%. And my best friend said to me, "If you can launch Zara, if you can launch all of these big brands out of the UK, the US, Europe, Asia into Australia, why can't you fight the one battle and win that's holding you back?" And she said, "I think you need to fire your lawyer." So I literally did!
And it was around the same timing, I had the opportunity to sell my business to a big American media company and I said no to the millions. I said yes to myself. I started creating space in my life for what would set me free. And I spent a lot of time, I've never spoken about this before, but in courtrooms listening to other people's cases. And what I realized was it was a Russian roulette and the power of my story as we discussed, started in London with media and storytelling.
I just said to myself, there's got to be a story in what I'm experiencing that's going to allow me to win full custody of my daughter in a restraining order and set us free. And that's how I did it. I found the angle that no one else could find and I won. I think it's 3% of women in Australia do that, I self-represented. It was really interesting because I never thought that I would be that person in that position, but I actually felt really empowered by it.
And so, November 2017, we got the keys to freedom and I took another six months to myself, actually. I couldn't date for 12 years. So when you wonder why does she get married at 46, that was the reason, I just couldn't date because I was all there for my daughter. I had all this shit going on behind the scenes.
I'm running a business and I think my body just needed to break down. It needed to be smashed into pieces so that it could rise again. And the universe always has your back. I know Gabby Bernstein says that. And it was funny because I was reading her book in Kamalaya, which is this wellness retreat. I write about it in the book as well. And I remember going, oh my gosh, it's so true because I had to burn to the ground to rise again.
Through that, my life shifted really quickly. There were no more speed bumps. I literally got the keys to freedom, met my soulmate, my daughter got what she wanted, I got what I wanted. And my life just took on this incredibly powerful new way of living, but also of giving to others. And when I say giving to others is that I know that my story will resonate with a lot of people that listen to this. And I know a lot of people are afraid of judgment. They're afraid of what people will think, but I just go, you know what, who cares? I really don't care anymore.
The power of just owning and sharing the story.
You just own it.
Not only for your own ability to flourish, but also to help others. That’s why at the start of the show, I always say, “The right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone's life.”
Someone hearing this episode or watching this episode could just hear the story that you've shared there, who might be going through something like that behind the scenes. It could give them the inspiration to move on.
I also just want to add to that is as a female in leadership, and now obviously as a wife, a mother, not owning my story made my daughter not own hers. And so, she was afraid to talk about what was going on as well. And I know that that caused her a lot of trauma. And we couldn't do that. Because I had a high profile with what I was doing with my business with TORSTAR.
But by me stepping forward and saying, it's okay to own that hot mess, gave her permission to own the hot mess that she had found herself in. And I'll always say to any woman out there, own your shit because my daughter now has a happy heart as well.
Not owning my story made my daughter not own hers.
And if I hadn't owned and claimed my happiness, she would not have that either. She often used to say to me, "Mum, I'm so different from everyone else. The experiences that we have, they're just so extreme." I always said to her, "You know what? In life we're all given a journey. You might have had trauma earlier on in life, but all those people that are having what you claim is this fabulous, amazing life right now, in 10, 20, 30 years, they're going to come back to you and they're going to ask for your advice and you're going to show love. You're going to show compassion because you've walked through the fire and you're a survivor. But most importantly, you know how to create a happy heart."
So don't hold back on owning who you are. I held back for 40 years, it wasn't until I was like 44 that I actually claimed it. But learn those life lessons and understand that the power actually is in your story.
And it's crazy because I'm saying this as a publicist like, the power is in your story and it was sitting right in front of me! And it wasn't it until two decades later that I actually took my own advice. But the power is in your story. Whether you are creating and building a brand or whether you want that happiness and fulfillment in your life, it has to come from within.
And what about the near death experience you had? Give us some circumstances around that and what were some of the biggest lessons and changes that you started making afterwards?
So 2013, I was due on a flight to London. So 72 hours before that was a big media event for a massive company. And everyone's like ticking all the boxes. Yes, we're all ready to go. And I actually truthfully knew I was dying before it happened. My appendix burst unexpectedly at home and I felt it snap and I felt everything rushing in my stomach and I couldn't call for help.
And I was at home on my own and a friend and his father, who was a surgeon luckily turned up a couple of hours later and I was rushed into emergency anyway. I ended up getting septicemia. I got blood poisoning because I didn't get it in time. I lost eight kilos in five days and I had to relearn and rewrite my life.
Lying in that recovery room taught me so many lessons. Number one, I was surrounded by takers and there was no mutual exchange of energy. And I had to find a way to start saying no to these people and yes to myself. The second thing was I was a people pleaser. I put everyone before myself, James, which is why I ended up in that situation. Because I said yes to everything. And even if it didn't set my heart on fire, I was doing it for other people and I had to learn to do it for myself.
I had to find a way to start saying no to other people and yes to myself.
And the third thing was, you can't live life doing crazy hours and multiple time zones without some structure in it and some me time. And I had to learn how to create, I guess, a life by design where I could have it all, but do it my way. And so, those were the three powerful lessons.
The surgeon said to me, "It's a six-month recovery," and of course classical PR mode. I'm like, "What!? I have to be in London. I've got people flying into South Australia from all around the world for a global beauty brand, for another activation.” At the same time, I've got events here, I've got celebrities that need this. I had to just say no to everything and I had to trust and surrender.
At that time as well, I had my ex stalking me, harassing me, taking me to court, sending me messages like, "I thought I'd see your obituary. Why aren't you dead?" And I'm still 100% solely responsible for my daughter. I'm trying to recover all of it. I was surrounded by toxicity. And it actually took me three to four years to bounce back from that. And you can see where it landed, which in 2017, I truly owned my power and got the full custody.
In 2019, I had the experience with Drew, and then 2020 I really went into Powerful Steps. It's now a decade since that experience and a lot of people go, "Did you see the other side?” I did. And I was not prepared. I was not ready, which is why I came back to claim my power.
The quote that I shared earlier for this episode from Eleanor Roosevelt, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." What does that mean to you in the context of the things that we just spoke about there?
Dreams are a beautiful thing, and I don't believe that anyone should ever stop dreaming. Just because you think something's impossible doesn't mean that it is not possible. I do believe that where you place your energy, your dreams shift into reality.
Take us into your new book now. Why did you write this and who do you want someone to be after they're finished reading it?
I want them to be themself. That's the biggest message, is own the power of who you are and don't be afraid of who you are because that's where the possibilities of life come for.
I knew even before that jury experience three years beforehand that I was going to write a book. And I remember saying it to people and they're like, "Why would you want to do that?" And I was like, "Because I can." And the second thing they said to me was, "It has to be about your success and survival journey." And I responded, "No, it doesn't."
I really wanted to go out with a strong leadership piece, but I also wanted to go out with a soulful piece so that people understand that the hot, glorious mess that you find yourself in life is actually your best asset. The fact that you may not believe that you can do something now at the end of the book, you'll see that you should believe and it will become a possibility.
And the book is only really a little bit of my life because I know there's a second book that will birth on my life. But I've also tapped into the power of other people's stories because I gave that Drew example. Her sitting up there and talking about her life and how she's paying it forward inspired me.
I wanted to tap into the stories of people that I'd interviewed so that people would be inspired by them as well. And a lot of people go, “Media is full of shit and it's pay to play” and it's all this kind of stuff. But actually, media is such a powerful tool and you can own your own media as we discuss with personal branding and how you can actually deliver that message that you want for other people.
Media is storytelling, book writing is storytelling, it's media. You just need to sink into other people's experiences just like you did when you were 23, 24 years old. You soaked it all up to understand what is meant for you and to be able to surrender, to receive. And that's why I wrote the book.
Was there a book that contributed most to the mindset you have today?
No, I don't talk about it a lot, but I've always been able to tap into my intuition from a really young age, and it's become more powerful as I age. But I started Powerful Steps and TORSTAR trusting my intuition. And I do say to people, just trust yourself because that is your intuition, that is listening to what's in there that wants to come out and be birthed.
You are working with women entrepreneurs who want to make a global impact. What do you think are the biggest things holding them back from being who they truly are and having that impact?
Not believing they can, doubting their ability, and not claiming their crown – and that's owning the story.
I know community is a big thing that you're building at the moment. The importance of being around the right people. How inspiring is that for those people to be the accelerant to them to start creating that momentum?
James, they absolutely love it. When people come into our programs and community, I always say, "Look, I'm going to open my little black book only once you've owned who you are." Once you show me that you are on the right path for the right reasons, I will do anything for you. And so they're all coffee dating, they love it.
We have this thing called the Business Attraction Program, and now people from all around the world are joining it. They go, "Oh my God, I just met someone from the last cohort and they're amazing and this person's amazing." That's the power of connection. Start off small, but as you realize your power and what you can give is a mutual exchange of energy, that's when the doors and the opportunity open up.
So community and connection, definitely through a coffee date or a dirty martini or a tea or whatever it is that you want. It's like the power of just leaning into other people is what propels you forward in business and life.
You and I have discussed this because you've had the most incredible guests on your podcast. And through the power of leaning into them, you are learning, you are engaging, your audience is doing the same. So just think of yourself as that medium when you're connecting with someone else, you're learning, you're leaning in, you're engaging. You're amplifying your presence.
On your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day?
Always, 'A happy heart is a magnet for miracles.'
Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?
Morning shower ritual. So I learned it from a Buddhist monk many years ago when I was burnt out like a crispy fried chicken, like many people, no doubt, listening to this!
He told me that I needed to stop and meditate and I said, "I don't have time to meditate, I'm busy." Which I'm sure relates to a lot of people. And he said, "Well, do you have a shower with anyone else?" And I said, "No, I don't." And so, he said to me, "You're going to meditate in the shower."
I've been doing that for over a decade now. I get three drops of lavender oil on my décolletage, inhale, exhale three times and just listen to what I'm meant to be doing every day, and I repeat it in the evening with gratitude. “Thank you for connecting me with James, being on this podcast. Thank you, Reese. Thank you to all the wonderful things that come into my life.”
And I feel like that shifts the momentum forward, not only to Win the Day, but also to end the day on the right note. You sleep like a baby.
Tory, great to see you. Thanks so much for coming on the show.
Thank you so much, James.
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