Interviewing someone I’ve admired and personally followed for almost 15 years came with a unique set of challenges for me. Marla Cilley (known the world over as The FlyLady) has been interviewed numerous times over the years, all asking similar questions and lauding her brand’s success with hundreds of thousands of homemakers, housewives and women like me who actually enjoy housekeeping, organizing and never having to utter apologies to visitors for having an untidy home. What would make this interview different? How could I reveal something new when it seemed everything’s already been told?
As it turned out, Marla’s request to have me interview her by phone and not by email changed the direction of the interview entirely and revealed more than I could have expected. The FlyLady’s candid and easy conversational style revealed exactly why she is beloved by her fans.
For those who might be unfamiliar I’ll share a few obligatory facts about The FlyLady brand’s success. The FlyLady brand was born in 2001 as just an email list which now has over 400,000 subscribers in more than 65 countries. (That’s how I first became familiar with her.) Marla’s no-nonsense, get-it-done approach to housekeeping and home organization has grown her following across all channels. She broadcasts live from her Facebook page every week to her half million devoted followers and has over 40,000 fans on Twitter. Close to 35,000 subscribe to her YouTube channel as well. A modest and spiritual woman, Marla lives by 3 simple rules:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff; what doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.
- Laugh everyday. Even if it is at yourself.
- Love like there is no tomorrow.
Now normally, my interviews start out with me asking a question. Not this time. Marla asked the first question and our interview took off from there.
Let me ask you a question before we get started. I know we’re already recording but how does your desk look, Patricia?
My desk looks fabulous. Don’t you mess with me!
(To that Marla laughed and yelled into the background to tell her Assistant Michele what I’d said.) She admits to me that she’s been known not to do an interview if the person admitted their desk was a mess.
This is why we should have done a video interview because that was one of the things I would have loved to have had between us; for me to pan around my workspace so you could see I am working in an organized and orderly area. But that’s ok. I think there might be another opportunity at which time we can do a video interview, if you’re pleased with this one, of course.
There will be. I’m building a list of people that we’re going to send press releases out to as they are developed and I will put you on that list. We have a new app that’s going to beta any day now and it’s just fun, fun, fun!
Nervousness set in as I checked the order of the questions I was ready to ask. Marla seemed to pick up on that and interjected a question of her own.
Why did you pick Raleigh of all places?
Well, I was reading Money magazine and Raleigh was in the top places to live for years. The cost of living in New Jersey for a single woman can be very prohibitive. So I moved to North Carolina to reduce my living expenses and grow my business further.
Let me tell you what my husband did. My husband graduated from Chapel Hill. When he graduated he decided he wanted to work in a place where he would retire to. He was a law student and he only sent out resumes to the beach and to the mountains. He had one person contact him from Brevard, NC and when you see those lists of 25 best places to retire to, Brevard is on that list every time.
People ask why I didn’t pick Charlotte or even a more rural area. But I’m single, I don’t have children. I still want to socialize and meet people so moving to an area where I’d only see my neighbors didn’t seem like a good idea for me. I moved here 3 years ago almost to the date. But don’t you throw me off track! Here’s my first question. Is there a most annoying question that you are repeatedly asked during interviews? And I ask this first so that if it’s on my list, you’ll ever know it.
[Marla laughs.] You’re making me hurt! The most annoying question is from FlyBabies. How can I get my husband to get rid of his clutter? It’s his clutter that’s causing the problems in our house. And I tell ’em right quick…
I think I know the answer!
You gotta quit whining! If you want your husband to jump on the FlyLady bandwagon you’ve got another thing comin’. This is something you did, not him. Let’s look at it this way. If he were to come in the house and dismantle a carburetor on your dining room table, you would throw an ever-lovin’ fit. Now if you take out your scrap book and stuff and whatever you’re working on and spread it out on the kitchen table, you can’t even eat dinner in there. You have to eat dinner in the living room on the coffee table because you’ve left everything sitting on the kitchen table. If you will take care of yourself first, the family will follow.
Yes! I knew that! I knew that’s what you’d say!
And you can only change the way you react to what they’re doing. Single women don’t have someone to nag at. Military wives don’t have someone to nag at. They do it themselves 3 quarters of the year. Single moms, single dads do it. So quit whining and get off your butt and do something.
Ok. Next question. I know what you say about having routines. My good morning starts with a good night.
That’s a great way to say that. I’m going to steal that just so you know.
But it’s true. If I plop into bed half-ass and leave some stuff undone and sloppy, I can guarantee my morning’s going to start like the last one ended because I’m not starting fresh. So what’s a day in the life of FlyLady? How do you begin and end your days with all the business in between?
Well, I’m a night owl.
I don’t get wound up until about 10 at night. But I don’t have a family. I have a husband, but he’s retired so we can get up whenever we want to. So I go to bed between 12 and 1. Sometimes it’s 1:30. But I don’t have to get up until 9, so I get my 8 hours. I know how I’m sleeping at night. I start my before-bed routine as soon as dinner is over. And my husband says it’s better to have a wife who can cook but doesn’t cook often than a wife who can’t cook and cooks all the time.
That’s smart! Funny, but smart!
That’s my husband! So we usually go out to eat a lot. And we get home about 7 o’clock and we watch the news that we record so we can watch on our own time. We’re going to watch Jeopardy and then I’m going to hop in the tub and take a bath. And then I’m ready to kinda do some work for tomorrow on the website and different things, check some emails that are going out. And I’ll do a couple hours of work and then around 10 or 11 I’m through with the day to day stuff. Like the other day I went on GoFundMe and I was playing around with that. Not that I’m going to do that sort of thing but it was a thought. I get energized and I start thinking about different things and processing thoughts. And we’ll probably be watching something on TV. We’ve been binge watching the early years of NCIS because there’s been nothing on TV and we’re into year 6 now.
So we’re sitting and watching TV together and he’ll have his computer in front of him or he’ll be doing a crossword, and I’ve got my computer in front of me. The TV is kinda background noise and it gets to be about bedtime and he’ll wave bye to me. And I’ll already have my jammies on and I’ve already taken a bath so that’s my relaxation time. Then I’ll shut down my computer and my phone and I charge up my phone because it’s gotta be ready for these interviews I’ve gotta do! I’ve gotta put it on charge right now, by the way. It’s at 37%. And my case charges so I just turned it on and it’s charging.
We laugh at that and she continues.
I shut down my computer and take off my shoes and put them by my chair. My shoes are on until I’ve taken a bath and I’m ready for bed. And then I have reminders that pop up on my phone to remind me to take my blood pressure medication and then I do all the normal stuff like wash my face, brush my teeth, put my eye drops in. And I believe like nobody’s business in saline nose spray. I think it keeps everybody happy and healthy. So I spray my nose with saline before bed every night.
I can’t believe the similarities. I use saline nose spray every morning and every night. My allergies are under so much better control. Have you tried the neti pot?
You have to be really careful with that. You really need to boil the water and let it cool because it needs to kill the bacteria. If you use tap water, you have to be careful with that. But I learned early in my career that if you start sneezing or getting sick something is in your sinuses and you have to get it out. That NeilMed squirt thing is phenomenal!
And then I look at the calendar to see what’s going on and then it all slows and I hop into the bed. I can fall asleep in 10 minutes and I know that because my fitness tracker actually shows that I fall asleep within 10 minutes. My brain has run down and I’ve exercised it the way I need to. And bam!
I get up the next morning and I’ve laid my clothes out the night before so I know what I’m wearing. And I usually brush my teeth after I’ve had coffee because I’ve found that if I brush before I have coffee my teeth get really dingy. So I brush after coffee.
I just don’t like the taste of coffee after toothpaste; that’s why I brush after.
Yeah. My husband makes me coffee and while the coffee is brewing I do a few steps around the house running my dust mop or feather dusting for about 2 minutes for both of those. And it’s just fun, fun, fun. That’s my before bed and morning routine.
So on a day like today if you had no interview with me, do you consult with your team every day?
We use Slack. The reason I was late calling you today is that my son and I were on the phone earlier and noticed a trend that was happening that we needed to address. In the afternoon, our sales dropped off and it’s not always all about sales, but I have 20 people working for me and I’ve got to pay them so when the sales drop off we struggle to make payroll and do other things. So we were looking at sales trends and we figured something wasn’t right. He looked at the emails that are going out and the girls are putting ads for a package at the bottom of our outgoing emails that’s not popular. So I had to get on that.
So he talked to them but one is a born organizer. And she’s a control freak and really gets frustrated because she’s ahead on her work for 3 weeks. So it’s a matter of going back and having to re-do things. So she’s going to take the even days and I’m going to take the odd days and we’re going to go one day at a time and work through what she’s ahead on and fix it. And she’s going on vacation this Friday so that was frustrating for her too, but she’s so far ahead that she’s really good. And we’ll get through it. So I was trying to calm her down and let her know she’s just amazing and I don’t worry about anything she does.
But you’ve got to be able to turn on a dime and if you notice something not working, it’s going to keep not working if you let it go on. So that’s the perk, I think, in smaller companies because you can make changes on the fly easier than a megacompany.
If you haven’t used Slack, it’s an amazing tool. It’s like shop updates. There’s a Slack group within our company.
She yells out from the phone to Michele again, her Assistant, in the background. “Hey, Michele. I just saw a hawk! There’s a hawk in the backyard,” then she returns to me.
But that’s Slack. We have different groups and I’m working with my nephew who has FlyLady Premium and he has an app group that he has included me and Justin in so we can see his process, and we promote his app and he pays us to promote it. We put an ad block on his page and he’s been contacted by a reality show and they want him to be on it for entrepreneurs who have dropped out of college.
There are a lot of ’em!
Yeah. He was in his third year at Duke and he got a fellowship but his mentor at Duke is the one that recommended him for the project. So he’s scheduled to go back in January but right now he’s taking a year off to build a company. He’s like fresh blood to FlyLady. He started his own business but it’s a spin-off of FlyLady. He’s calling it a start-up and I’m laughing at him. I said, “Alexander, honey, your mom and I have worked for 17 years building FlyLady. You’re just a spin-off. You’re taking what we’ve done and you’re just developing it a different way.” She belts out a hearty laugh and adds, “He’s so cute.”
Well is that a bad thing or a good thing? Are you not pleased with his intention of the spin-off? It sounds a little like you may not be.
Oh no. I’m totally pleased with the decision. It’s just that he’s 21 years old. I mean, he’s just now got a girlfriend, and he was a wrestler and he’s a kid but he thinks he knows it all.
Well, now, there is that kid Marc Guberti and I think his tagline is the Teen Entrepreneur so kids are doing it these days. I’m on his email list and he’s even interviewed ME years ago and he’s amazing. He’s incredible so you never know what you’ve got there. You may have rubbed off on him.
Well he’s just energized. He [Marla’s son Justin] was my first hire. We published a book and he was shipping books to Amazon. That was his first job. And now he keeps me out of jail. And he went to college to be a weatherman but God had other plans.
Absolutely! I thought I was going to be a journalist for my love of writing but I found another outlet for it in web content, interviews, etc. So I still get to use it but in different ways. Something you said earlier about how your nights and mornings start I want to go back to. You said you are pretty much a night owl as am I. All my life I’d heard that saying early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. So I tried to fit into that mold. You know, go to bed at 10 and wake up before the sun rises. But I always ended up going back to my natural rhythm which was when the world is asleep and there are no interruptions, I write best, I think best, I’m most creative.
That’s when nobody bothers us.
Yes! So I think that we have to find HOW we work best and not follow the routines of others no matter how successful they are.
That’s true. I have a new computer, a Mac, in front of me, that I’m working off of, but I still get all my email on my PC.
Because I use the best email program and they don’t make it for Mac. I use Eudora.
You like Eudora? I’m going to have to unfriend you.
[Marla laughs again.] Go for it then, but I love it. I have 2000 mailboxes, I have systems set up and everything flows through Eudora. It’s a learning curve for me. I don’t have the time to figure out how Mac mail works. So when my geek gets the app done he’s going to write me a Eudora program because it’s open source now. He’s going to write me a Eudora for Mac.
I’ve found that many smaller or blossoming businesses that would benefit from some online exposure hesitate. I find this more with our generation where many seem to think that everything online is for a younger generation. What was most difficult for you, if anything, in taking your business online with video, Facebook Live and all?
I had no issue with it at all. FlyLady started with no website, just an email group. We always needed a website so I hired someone to build one and it debuted in 2001 or 2002. I can’t remember. But we went about a year with no website at all. It was just a natural progression. Something new comes out and I’m just curious. So at those hours of night between 10 and 1 in the morning, I’m playing around on YouTube and learning stuff.
At one point there was a company called JumpCut out in San Francisco and you built your own videos. So I got in there in the wee hours of the morning and made videos with just pictures and stuff. Yahoo ended up buying that company. I met those people and I traveled the country with Yahoo and they paid my way to talk about how groups changed people’s lives and how to use them for business.
I remember when I made my first video to promote my business and put it on YouTube. It was like a slideshow and I made it in Windows Movie Maker. Real simple. I purchased music for it, too. I thought it was perfect! The first comment I got was from a guy who said he’d rather see me behind the camera. I brushed it off thinking he was just a perv.
But then a woman that I’d met on LinkedIn years before who knew my writing and my personality also contacted me and said the same thing. She said that she thought I would benefit from putting my face to the video. She said that the video wasn’t funny like me, bubbly like me, and I couldn’t figure out how I could merge my professionalism with my personality effectively. If people knew I was goofy and like housecleaning, for instance, how are they going to respect me professionally and trust that I am all these other things that I’m proud of?
It’s called transparency! There’s a buzzword for it now.
Right! And once I got out of my own way and just decided to go for it, it turns out people have received me well. That silly salad video I did recently as my first one has started so much dialogue and has led to other opportunities. People seem to like to put a real face to the businesses they interact with.
Do you do Facebook Mentions? It’s an integral part of what I do now.
Oh! You’re talking about Facebook Live. Yes, yes. I’ve even turned a client on to it recently. People seem to think this is new but it’s not. It was out for about a year and a half I believe and it was only available to verified and celebrity accounts, and now it’s been rolled out to everyone on Facebook.
Well I was one of those celebrities. We got picked to play with it and I have had so much fun with it. I have a little stand that my phone sits in and I have a lapel mic that I ordered and it’s really long so I can walk around if I need to. So the other day I got an email from Facebook and they want to talk to me about how they can make Facebook Mentions better. That’s fun, to get to consult with Facebook.
Speaking of social media, I notice that on Twitter you have FlyLady and TheFlyLady. Is there a branding reason for that?
No. Somebody stole FlyLady. A friend of a friend grabbed up FlyLady and kept it.
A friend of a friend?
Well, it was my best friend’s employee that grabbed it. It wasn’t until I tried to figure out who had it that I realized that she’d done it. She almost got fired because of it. So I ended up with two.
Are you still friends today?
With my best friend yes, but not with her. I was not friends with her ever. The main one to follow is TheFlyLady. The other one we just use for a series of reminders and we don’t have many people on that one, maybe 12,000. But I quit doing that because we’re getting ready to debut our app and it will have the reminders in it.
I’m so proud of you. Look at you! Was there ever a time when you were growing the brand that you didn’t think it was going to be as big as it is now?
No. Even when he had 200 people, I knew it could be at 2 million. I don’t dream little. I dream big. I always have.
You know something; I have learned that you sometimes have to keep your dreams to yourself.
I don’t do that.
Some people who can’t see things as big as you will remind you of every single thing that can go wrong, and I’m the person who sees everything going right and if I run into trouble, then I’ll deal with it.
Listen to me. Listen. Quiet yourself. Real quick. Listen. When you tell somebody your dreams and they bust on you and tell you that you can’t, you say, “Devil be gone!” And they have shown their true colors and they’re not really friends and it will help you weed out negative people in your life.
Absolutely. I have never had 20 friends at one time ever and I don’t need that. But those I call friend today are true blue friends and I mean literally, I can count them on one hand. And the others I don’t indulge my moves to because it’s deafening sometimes the negatives that can be thrown your way.
What good are low hopes?
It’s dream big or go home and letting God take it where it’s supposed to go. Fear is of the Devil. Plain and simple. Your faith is stronger than your fear. I see this television show already done. I saw my first book already done. I saw the music I did already done. I didn’t know the lyrics but I saw the album cover. What good are low hope? Dream big. Write it down somewhere.
I’m big on that. Writing everything down. I live by a list. It doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me.
No, it doesn’t work for everybody. We do our routine and we try to have a to do list that is small. You know what’s for dinner tonight; on Tuesday nights I have dinner with a friend. That’s what we do. Robert goes bowling and for me it’s girl time. The main thing with a to do list is that it doesn’t keep rolling over. If it’s something that has to be done every day it should be in a routine. If it’s a once a month thing it should be part of something that comes up on your calendar to do once a month. If it comes up every week it should be in your weekly plan. I try to stay light on my feet so the do it now principal kicks in. And my to do list stays very small.
I think I took your breath away with that one! And some of the creative stuff for those of us who are night owls happens in the middle of the night. Sometimes the good Lord wakes you up at 2 in the morning and you just went to bed at 1 and you’ve got to get up and write.
That’s right. Even now, I’ll be in bed and I’ll think of something and it may not be fully shaped yet but I don’t want to forget what that thought was. And I’ll just drop it into Wunderlist as kind of a drop box for my brain. Spit it out, get it somewhere and then when I’m awake review and consider whether it was a thought worth fleshing out.
You’ve got to have a place. That’s right. You’ve gotta have a place. And you have to have a time to review them, too. That’s what I did when I first started FlyLady. There wasn’t anything like Wunderlist yet and I had some steno pads and I had a wonderful chair that had wooden arms like being at a school desk. And my rule was that I couldn’t pull a sheet of paper out of it. It was top bound and this was where I wrote thoughts, notes and phone numbers. If I had an idea for an essay, I’d write it down and expand upon it. But everything stayed in the notebook.
When it was full, I’d write the finish date on it and it would go into a file box. And I have every one of them. When I travel I take them with me. This was just for my dreams. And when I put together a control journal, I put a page at the back of it and I took 5 minutes and I sat down and thought of everything I wanted to do. It was like building a bucket list but for my business, and the things my ladies needed. Things I wanted to do for them. I wanted to do video, I wanted to do television. I’ve been dreaming about this television show since 2003. I wanted to do music; I put together 2 albums, I produced 2 others and I did produce 2 spoken word albums. So I produced 6 albums but it’s stuff to help the ladies because I dreamed it.
Once a year, first of the year, I look at these things that I’ve written down and I see if they’ve happened. And most of the time they have.
In a Money magazine article in 2007 you said we never set out to have a business, we set out to help people and the business grew because of their needs. What was the first product you created to be sold and how did it come about? Did you…?
[Marla interjects.] That was the worst article ever written about me. That was the worst headline. It said FlyLady nags her way to millions. It was written by a FlyBaby. She came to visit me and her editors changed the tenor of that article with the headline. And when I read it, I cried.
Did you really? Was it just the title or the article because I thought the article was good.
It was the headline. I thought the article was fine. The title was mean because it doesn’t say millions of people. It says millions, and it’s Money magazine so what do you think it means? That’s what was hurtful.
May I say that? Because that’s deep. Most people say any publicity is good publicity but you didn’t feel good about that one.
Yeah. I don’t care. And my sister didn’t like it either. And I just said to her, “God has a reason for this. Everything will be okay.” And it was. I mean, I met a bunch of people. I got a lot of phone calls from the article, and a lot of people wanted to partner with me because of my audience. But most of them didn’t pan out because they were only after money instead of helping people, or publicity.
So do you remember the first product you made to be sold?
Of course. Yes. It was a FlyLady logo in about a 2 x 3 self-sticking thing, and you could stick it on your computer monitor. I wanted people to see FlyLady shaking her finger at them and get off the computer. I wanted it to be a reminder to people they couldn’t get anything done if you’re sitting on your butt.
Did it sell?
We didn’t even have a way to sell anything. They were $3 apiece and I think we sold $468 worth. It cost us 37 cents to make.
Were you pleased?
Yeah! I was blown away. I’ll never forget being down where Robert had a conference at [Brighton Beach??] and one of the people who worked with me I met her down there and we opened envelopes and her husband put together a deposit to put in the bank. That was our first deposit. I wasn’t paying anyone anything and I had no one to pay. It was all volunteer work then. They cost 37 cents to make and we sold them for $3 apiece.
So did you create it in-house yourself? Did you print them out yourself?
Oh no. We bought it from a promotional company. And when you look at the logo…pull it up now and look at it.
I did as I was told.
[Marla continued.] Look at her. She’s a cheerleader. She’s a drill sergeant. She’s got her fly rod in her hand kinda like a stick keeping time. She’s got on her pearls and her earrings. She’s got her lace-up shoes on and when you’re doing something you shouldn’t do, she’s shaking that mama finger at you. So the logo was built around building a website that would cater to what these women needed. A cheerleader, a drill sergeant, somebody that was a good representative to be put together every day and someone who was going to call you out when you need to be called out.
How long did it take to get the logo right? Did you go through several versions?
Second time. The cartoonist had her in ballet slippers first. She needed to be in lace-up shoes. And every Southern girl needs her pearls.
What was the worst selling product you ever created?
The worst product was not created by me. It was created by the guys. I let them do it. They wanted to do a barbecue set. We bought a 20 ft. container load of stainless steel barbecue tools. Well, my audience is 99.9% women.
How many years did it take us to get rid of those?
I have no idea.
It took us about 6 years to get rid of those. They were taking up so much space in the warehouse and I said finally we gotta get rid of these. I think we reduced the price from $25 to $10 and after about a year of dropping them down we finally got rid of them all. That was the worst product.
What made you purchase such a large order without testing it first?
Because the guys just knew it was going to be a hit and they wouldn’t have listened to us anyway. So I kinda needed to let them share in it completely that it wasn’t going to work.
But that’s an expensive lesson.
I don’t remember what they cost but it wasn’t that expensive a lesson. Usually when we test a product, we do 5,000 pieces. That’s the best price to get a good deal. Below that it’s not worth it to sell it at a good profit. You know, we live in America and you have to be able to pay people living here. And hopefully you come out not in the red so you have to have a good balance there.
This is one of those boring questions but I have to ask you. Did you start your business with a real business plan? There are arguments for having one and many for skipping that step. So, did you have one?
[Marla laughs loud and heartily.] Business plan?! There was no business plan whatsoever. Somebody needed help in a message board I was on and I set up an email group. And at that time it was called OneList. It got bought out by egroups and then Yahoo bought egroups, all within a year. From that point on I always knew it would be good even when there were only 200 people. I knew there would be hundreds of thousands of them. I didn’t know how I was going to pay them. I thought we might put ads on the website and in the emails. I knew it would pay its way. And I would be able to pay people a decent salary, and my idea of a decent salary was $60,000 a year. I wanted to be able to pay people a living wage.
And nobody wanted to advertise on a no-name website and now we get emails every day wanting to put ads on our website.
This is one of my new favorite questions and you’re the first person I’m asking. If you are doing what you love for a living and not finding a way to make a living at it, what should you do?
The main thing is you have to be true to yourself. I mean, even Robert knew that FlyLady and Marla were synonymous with one another. There was no either or. At first he thought FlyLady was going to take over the Marla persona. But when you can figure out how to make a living doing something you love doing, you will never work a day in your life.
I didn’t know what that meant when I was younger. For me writing is never a bother. So for someone to give me money to do what I would be doing anyway for free is an amazing feeling.
I was watching something on HGTV the other day and this show that I don’t really like was on. [She calls back to Michele to remind her of the show.] It’s the one with the man and the woman…
Oh I know it. It’s the show where you like the renovation or they buy another…
Love It or List It! That’s it! But the woman said something profound. She said, “As a designer, I want to do exactly what the client needs. I don’t like to change my plans.” But as a business person with a budget, you have to. And she didn’t say that – I’m adding that. But you have to find a way to make a living at what you’re doing. If you’ve got a following, build an email list, even though email is considered antiquated to most people. But people that are our age, baby boomers and the next generation down, they’re good with email. They’re not going to do SnapChat. They’ll do Facebook messenger now since they’re all on Facebook. But email. Build that email list. Start collecting email addresses.
A lot of people these days, though, do not want to give up their email addresses. Even with 900 subscribers, it doesn’t mean that those 900 are going to be purchasing your products or services.
You can count on about 1%. Your list matters. My list is 300,000 in email subscribers and another 550-something thousand on Facebook. But Facebook does nothing. Facebook is nothing because of their algorithm. You can’t reach your audience unless you put money behind it. And even then it doesn’t work. Because we did a test. We put ads up on Facebook for our products, our back to school packages and different things. It did not increase our sales. But when we got people to sign up and got more membership, that works.
I have a love/hate relationship with Constant Contact because they won’t let me have my own server. So I get stuck with some server where someone sent out spam and then I get blocked and people complain. That’s why we’re trying to get away from email, but email has one thing that Facebook doesn’t have. And Twitter…I don’t know how anyone sells anything with Twitter. Twitter has a shelf-life of 10 minutes, if that. Maybe 10 seconds. Facebook has a shelf life of about an hour. But email has 3 days of legs. If you can get in those inboxes…
That 3 days seems short to me. Because I archive almost everything. I can refer to an email I got back in 2011. And I am anything but a packrat. I don’t keep paper. I brag about my paper-free home. I have scanned photos, I have no photo albums, no user manuals. When I get a new product, I toss the manual, pull it up online and save it. Back in 2008, I was laid off from the New York City Mayor’s Office and I was bored silly. It was winter about a week before Christmas. And I went into my closet looking for something to do. I pulled out boxes of greeting cards from friends, my mom, old love letters, recipes I’d pulled from magazines, diaries from my childhood and every day I scanned what I could until every single box was empty and then I shredded every single thing. Year books from school, everything went digital. It has made life for me much easier. If there were a fire, everything is in the cloud. I don’t worry about losing the sentimental things at all.
Oh, you have to write me a testimonial!
I didn’t even know how much crap I had until I pulled it out. I have one better for you. I even have the first love letters I ever got. I scanned the letters and even the envelopes they came in.
Marla’s yelling into the background again to Michele, telling her all this. “You know how you are with laundry? She’s like that with paper.” She returns to me. And you can find everything?
Yup. Because I categorize everything into folders. So there’s the Love Letters folder and then there’s the names of who they were from. Greeting cards are just all in one folder from everyone.
Technology can be wonderful.
Yes, but if it’s used properly. People get products that they think will change their businesses instead of first identifying the need and then finding the product that does that thing. Then use it. Really use it. The paper-free home is my thing. I don’t do paper.
You’re a savant.
In this area, yes. Once you discover how freeing it is to not have boxes full of stuff that you don’t even know what’s in them, you’ll never go back. I love having everything at my fingertips. But back to business. What one book would you recommend to business professionals?
How to Win Friends and Influence People
What one book would you recommend to women, business or otherwise?
I don’t know about that one. Do you know who Tai Lopez is?
I don’t think so. What about him do you like so much?
He teaches you how to be the best person you can possibly be. And he reads a book a day. He likes to read biographies. I don’t know how he does that.
I was about to say the same thing. If you’re running a business, how in the world do you find the time to read a whole book every single day?
Well, I can listen to a book every day when I get into my car. Michele and I did that. I just found out I have a sister and the book I’d recommend for you to read is Miss Brenda and the Love Ladies. And they’re making this book into a movie and I got to meet this lady the other day.
Now wait a minute. I have to ask you why you’re recommending this book to me. I asked for a book for women.
Because she listened to her heart. That’s what you do.
Awww! Stop it. I’m going to get all emotional and you’re going to have to go! So, stop it. Let’s move on. 3 people who inspire you.
Well my husband inspires me. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever met and he doesn’t make me feel stupid for not knowing what he knows. We’re two whole people but together we’re better, you know? My son inspires me. He’s a strong man, great father and a loving husband and I’m proud of myself because I had to raise him.
You inspire you. I love that you can say that. She laughs. No, I do. Few people have the balls to say that. And the next question…
I didn’t give you three but that’s all that I could think of.
I know but you gave me you at the end so that’s three. So the last question is what would be the perfect age for you to retire and what would you do with your new free time?
You like what you do so much?
I’ve never seen myself retiring. I’ve always seen FlyLady being perpetual and I’m prepared for that but I’ve never seen myself just retiring. Now they might put me out to pasture but I’m not going to retire unless I’m kicking and screaming.
Marla, this is so much more than…it’s not more than I expected. It’s what I knew it could be but I’m flabbergasted. It’s most conversational and revealing. Thank you so much.
Hey, you’re in NC, you’re family.
Well there must have a been a FlyLady angel guiding me with how I ended up here in Raleigh and the people I’ve met when I stepped out on faith the way I did to get here. I knew not a soul here and I am shocked at how it’s all turned out.
That’s why you have to read that book.
Miss Brenda stepped out on faith not knowing how she was going to pay for anything or do anything. And this woman has built a phenomenal – and it’s a non-profit – but she’s built a phenomenal outreach for women in need, coming from the prison system, drug rehab, all of it. And she had no idea how she was going to pay for it. But she had a husband and a daughter that was willing to walk right along beside her and support her. And they’re making a movie about her life.
Yes, you mentioned that and I Googled it so I’ll be checking it out. But you said something, and believe me, I’m not one of those people who whines about, “If I only had a husband” but when you said she had a husband and he was beside her, that helps. Even with 2 mediocre incomes and the support it’s easier to float some of the stuff you do with 2 than one. Without a safety net my wings are always flapping. There are benefits to being single, doing what I want when I want. My night owl habits don’t bother anyone.
Well even with Robert, he was like the support team. Here I was jumping out in this and he was rooting for me in a quiet sort of way in the background. He always teases that he was the Gray [Animist?]. He’s very philosophical and so that’s kinda who he is. I get to sleep with my attorney.
There’s nothing else I can say other than I so enjoyed this. It’s more than I expected but everything I thought it would be.
I’m just sorry I was late.
No worries, I would have waited longer. So what’s the rest of your day looking like?
I told you. It’s Tuesday so I’m having my Tuesday night dinner and I’m dragging Michele with me.
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