Money blocks can be a real struggle for CEO Teachers® in trying to value their worth. So this week, I decided to interview somebody that's been a role model to me, someone that has inspired me through her books. (We have even shared about her books inside of our communities.) And we have talked about her so much about just her mindset, not just on money blocks, but also on how to run a successful business as teachers. We often feel kind of uptight because we feel like everything has to be absolutely perfect. So when we switched from classroom to online space, we forget that nothing in life has to be perfect. And that is especially true. I am so thrilled to share with you, somebody that has been a mentor behind the scenes to me and she didn't even know it. Denise Duffield Thomas.
Denise came in hot talking about the early days, you know, back before she became this money mindset master and a published author. She says she probably would have been a teacher in another life too. She was just that kind of kid who loved sharing things with friends. She would watch Oprah after school. And then she would ask her friends, who wants to hear about gratitude? And then she would do little mini-lectures with friends. One of her bedrooms (she moved around a lot) had a blackboard in the bedroom. And she would say to her cousin and brother let's play teacher. And while they would pretend to be naughty kids. She would steer them in a different direction and say “I've actually got homework and handouts for you.”
She’s always been the person who wanted to share with people. In high school though, that go-getter attitude got her labeled as bossy. So she spent her twenties really struggling to find what that thing would allow her to help people. The internet wasn’t yet widely available. There weren’t online courses and things like that. So she struggled to translate wanting to help people, wanting to coach or teach them into an actual job.
So she went into consulting for a little bit. And then event management and then when she was about 30, she decided to do a life coaching course. She was really embarrassed about it because it didn't feel like a real job. And people would say to her, a life coach, what kind of loser would hire a life coach to learn how to do life? It didn't make sense to a lot of people. And what she realized going through the motions was that she really preferred to work with people who are entrepreneurs. And then she realized how much she had this desire to talk about money with the women entrepreneurs she worked with.
She had to overcome a lot of fears and imposter syndrome because she thought only accountants and financial advisors were allowed to talk about money. She quickly realized that she really wanted to talk about those money blocks and that gap of all the stuff that comes up when you work for yourself. You know when you have to put a monetary figure on how you help people, it brings up so much fear. So that's what she’s been doing for the last 10 years. She runs a program called Money Bootcamp, which has had eight and a half thousand students through it. And every day she finds new nuances to talk about when it comes to money mindset.
She’s spoken to dance teachers and helped with their money mindset. She’s helped wedding professionals, pet photographers, and more. She finds joy in helping people overcome really specific money rules. Or money blocks that have valid concerns because of the industry they are in. She loves to debunk those money blocks and really change people's minds.
I think that if you had to make a list of the top 10 professionals that have the biggest money blocks, I feel like teachers would probably be in the top three. It's just something that we have been conditioned to believe. We go to college and we have this set mindset. We look at this pay scale and we see, in year 1, we make this much money. In year 3, we get to make this much money, and by year 30 with 3 advanced degrees will get to be here on this pay scale. And hopefully, we hopefully can retire at that point.
As I've been sharing my journey with teachers, I used to be really funny about sharing details about money. Because if I shared how much money I made, we would get messages that told me not to share how much money I was making from other teachers. So there are a lot of money blocks that Denise helped us with during our chat.
Her first book was called Lucky B.I.T.C.H And she wrote that one very deliberately because when she started to really desire a different life (and began seeing the results of those deliberate actions) friends began calling her lucky. And she felt like it wasn’t luck. It was deliberately doing things to change her life and circumstance. In terms of timing, she never felt ready. She always wondered if she was old enough, or then worried her time was past. Some of us say we’ll wait till our kids grow up or Mercury's out of retrograde, whatever the basic excuse is. But deliberate action is needed to move forward.
I think it we recommend Chillpreneur so often because it does not embody how most of our students begin the CEO Teacher® programs. They are not CHILLpreneurs at all. They are very uptight and anxious and constantly worried and stressed that it's not going to make it. Which in turn probably hinders them from making the income that they deserve.
She actually wrote that book after reading so many business books where a lot of the examples in there were about businessmen. And she wondered why don’t they ever write about people like her friends who are breastfeeding while they're trying to write things down. And doing live videos in the car while the kids are asleep. So she decided she was going to write THAT book.
And yes, it is hard. It is hard to do things. It is hard to get out of your own way when there are so many things happening externally. But there is abundance in the world. There are more than enough clients out there. Sometimes it can be hard for the teacher community to move into the entrepreneurial world. Because you get a curriculum, you have very set particular ways of doing things when you're a teacher. And suddenly then when you're an entrepreneur, you think, well, surely there must be a way, a curriculum, one way of doing things.
And combined with the idea that you've never been taught that you're allowed to choose what you want with no admin to get approval from. Maybe you think it's impolite to ask people for money. There's a ton to have to unpack and let go of constantly. Denise says that even though she has helped thousands and thousands of people with her courses, she still has imposter syndrome. She still has to work on money blocks. And she still has to give herself permission to design the business in a way that works for her as her life shifts and changes with family situations or health. You know LIFE!
It's just so drummed into us from an early age of, well, this is the situation and I get what I get and don't pitch a fit. There's a lot of unlearning for the teacher community to do when it comes to the money mindset.
Unlearning is the main thing that teachers are going to have to do in order to get through that first money block. We have to break through that curriculum mindset where we have been taught this one way to teach something. This is the way that you teach math, or this is the way you teach English. And so in your mind, you may think that there's not enough for everyone. We like to say there's room for everyone on the playground because it's a little bit more fitting to our community and everyone should get to come to play along.
But one of the biggest blocks for our CEO Teacher® community is that they just don't see the opportunities out there because they feel like there's only one way. For instance: I'm a kindergarten teacher and it's all been done before. But that is just a lie you are telling yourself. We are working to get off the fence of believing and knowing that there is room for you here.
Maybe you are saying to yourself I went into teaching dance for the love of dance and the love of children. Or I went into this profession because I'm really passionate about helping postpartum people with pelvic floor issues. Or feeling guilty about leaving the teaching profession because you love children and education.
It’s very personal for each and every one of us, and some of us think we can be a good person OR make money. I can be a good teacher or make money, but I can't do both.
You might even say things like I don't care about the money. I just want to help people. And that sounds great. But what happens is you attract clients who will say things to you that send you further away from a life of abundance. Things like, “If you really cared, this would be free.” And they say it with zero irony. Denise sees people create a free group and give so much value in that free group for whatever thing they're teaching. And then two years in, they'll say, I'm just going to sell this $10 eBook so I can cover the costs of my website. And the audience balks. Even though they've been serving and showing up 24/7 for free, for years. And then the money block gets larger.
That’s when you have to do the internal work because otherwise, people will just keep on showing up and reflecting on your worst fears about yourself. Denise shares how she felt after self-publishing the book, Lucky B.I.T.C.H. She charged $9.99 for it, and every time someone bought it, she felt like she should call them up and read it to them over the phone.
She felt like she couldn’t get paid for something that she had already done once and now it just sat there. In most professions, you get paid, and then you show up for the hour. It's not like you keep getting paid for the kid that you helped in kindergarten, 20 years ago. You know the one who remembers you for the rest of their life. And then you have to send your tithings for the rest of your life. It doesn't work that way. So we have to break that money block right here and now!
Our brains just can't quite compute the fact that you can get paid for something again and again, for potentially ever. For potentially thousands of different people around the world. Especially for people in our generation who grew up without the internet, without those kinds of tools. If you wanted to be an entrepreneur in the eighties and nineties, it was just your geographical town that you could sell things to, if you could even afford to produce or manufacture anything. And then you had to do it all yourself.
Now you can set up a course using your phone. The camera on your phone is better than many fancy cameras. You can do it with YouTube, essentially a free platform. It just doesn't make sense to our brains. That it can be that easy. It feels like, hang on. There must be, there must be a trap here, or I'm doing something weird and dodgy.
In the teaching world, the way that a lot of teachers get started is they will give away a lot of their resources for free and call them freebies. In exchange for someone getting on their email list, they may give away free lesson plans. The concept is that you are attracting, what we call, “gimme” followers. They start expecting everything for free. And as a teacher you already feel that guilt because you've already said, I'm going to give them this stuff for free. And it's just really hard to move past that.
But if at the beginning of your business you didn’t give everything away for free. Even if it's something for a super low introductory cost, or give something in exchange like an opt-in, with a lot of value, but not necessarily free gifts and free goodies. That's kind of the beginning steps of starting your offer. You want to teach your audience about a concept, but you don't have to give them the 1, 2, 3, how-to part.
So let’s talk about how to get started and really valuing yourself enough to feel confident to just start putting content out into the world.
When many people start an online business, they really over-complicate everything. It’s because they've read about funnels and countdown timers and all of these things. There really are two simple steps to getting started.
This is sharing tips and sharing resources. Writing newsletters and social media content. You’re sharing what you know, but most people forget step number two.
It's so simple. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be sleazy. It's just, “if you liked this, the next step is…” Thanks for reading my free lesson plan. If you want, my whole year's worth of lesson plans, click here. It’s really that easy.
When in doubt, sell an hour of your time, because you're probably already doing that anyway, letting people pick your brain for free. So you can say if you liked my free lesson plan, click here and book a lesson plan brainstorm session. People tend to just give and give and give and give. And it's almost like they forget that they've got a business.
For example, instead of sending out free astrology readings every single day. Send a weekly overview, and then put a line that says, if you want a personalized reading click here. It's still freely given with no strings attached. Some people will read that and say, I wish I could have a personalized reading. And you've made it really easy for them to get what they didn’t even know they were looking for.
It’s like getting an email that says, this is your sign from the universe to book your massage with just a calendar link. It makes it super easy to click that link and book the massage you have been thinking about. Let’s apply this to the teacher world. Go ahead and share at least one freebie if that is how you want to do it. But in that PDF, include the next step. “If you want my help, if you want me to make it easy for you with an entire week/month/year worth of lessons, click here.”
Denise wanted everyone to know that if she was starting a business from scratch, this is all she would have on the sales page at the start.
And then you can add on the bells and whistles as you go. We think it has to be this big, perfect thing. And you need to put in 50 different pieces and all of your credentials. When in reality many of your buyers just think, “oh, thank goodness. She's got a solution”.
There's something to be said for understanding that our brains can multitask. So you can be doing something else and it's just that little voice saying maybe I am worthy of this life. That repetition creates confirmation bias. A lot of our beliefs have come from repetition from our parents or society saying you don't get something for nothing & money doesn't grow on trees, and the love of money is the root of all evil.. You just hear that again and again. So just add just a little bit of extra: MAYBE I CAN!
Record yourself saying about 25 different saying or quotes. And then listen to those throughout the day or as you fall asleep at night. Start working on overcoming income plateaus, allowing yourself to release the fear of money and the guilt of money. There’s something about the brain and the subconscious mind that allows more information to come in as you're going to sleep.
Here is where I used to struggle. And I know that many of my students do too. They say they feel like in doing those things, they’re trying to play God. They wonder if it’s okay to listen to meditations and to believe that you can change the trajectory of your life? The answer is YES. You're not trying to play God here.
Money is a tool that non-profits use as well. They ask for money without shame or embarrassment. The most beautiful heart-centered people who want to be of service in the world, they're the ones worried that money is evil. But it's not, it's a neutral tool and you never have to worry about you doing something bad with it because the money just enhances who you are. It’s a hard thing to get your head around when you just think, all I'm doing is trying to give myself confidence, with my mindset shifts. So instead say to yourself, I'm a vessel here. I'm a tool for good, send me the people that I can help and be of service. Let that be a driver in your business
Everyone has to do what feels good for them in their business, and the act of writing down your goals is so important because we're setting an intention. Sending those vibes out to the universe and the universe will know that it’s done with pure intention. I think this is a testament to one of our core values at the CEO Teacher®: be a good human and be good to all people.
And just being able to hear that it's okay to want this for your life may be the spark you need to move forward and take action using the tools available to you. Consider yourself a vessel for good. That's where teachers need the message more than ever, they already have a heart of service. They feel like they're put on this earth to give and to give and to give, but it's also okay to receive for all the giving that you're putting out into the world.
It's that same mentality of putting your oxygen mask on first because if you're constantly just in serve, serve, serve, serve, serve mode, it's stagnant energy and you cannot sustain that. You’ll become resentful and bitter and burnt out and the service sits stagnant. I serve, I deserve isn't about being greedy. It's about realizing that if you want to live a life of service for a long time, you have to find a way to live with balance.
Chatting with Denise helped me lift a huge weight off of my shoulders. Summers are our downtime here. Teachers could make a lot of money in the summertime with their audience. For the CEO Teacher®, we could probably sell our programs and they could do the best they've ever done. But we are just in a place where we want to just relax and serve our community in the best way possible.
Although there's really no such thing as work-life balance, Denise seems to have it figured out when it comes to finding the chill part of all of it. So how does Denise do it, if she’s not on the beach, working her job from a computer in the sand? How does she manage to be a mom and run a multi-million dollar business and be a best-selling author and also calm everyone's nerves and overcome their own money blocks?
And she says, “Let's acknowledge the fact that when you become an entrepreneur, it's always like you have homework due. Because you can always do more and most of it's self-imposed.” She says she really had to cultivate grace for herself and to let go of the feeling of guilt, which is easier said than done. So she does not feel guilty about not doing laundry, not cooking, or not cleaning. It's not her zone of genius. So she outsources a lot of those things. She finds that moms in business have to tread very carefully in this conversation, unfortunately, because people get very angry when moms talk about outsourcing. It has become a huge money block for a lot of women entrepreneurs.
So she is as open as possible and says, “I don't do everything. I can't do everything.”
So as she made more money, she started outsourcing more and more things. She knows it upsets people sometimes to hear that, but it's the truth. It's the only way she acknowledges she could have made millions of dollars with three kids and two dogs, without going crazy,
I appreciate Denise sharing that and doing it in such a classy way. I have a housekeeper, but she only comes in twice a week and she doesn't do our laundry or anything like that. I love to cook. So it brings me joy and peace to cook, but I know that isn’t for everyone either. If people say that they need help there is usually a negative connotation surrounding it, and then guilt sets in.
I also wanted to hear how she deal with the guilt of leaving her kids just to work on her business each day. When she was pregnant with her first, the business was already at the million-dollar mark. She remembers thinking, “on the other side of this, I'm going to be a completely different person.” She really thought she would lose her creativity, ambition, and desire for a business.
A friend asked if she was going to hire a nanny on the other side of it. And she was worried since she comes from a working-class family. She was thinking of what her friends from back home were going to think of her hiring a nanny. Who does she think she is? Then she realized, she needed to get over herself. Because if it was going to make sense for her life that was what mattered.
So she hired a lady to come, who was an ex-nurse. And she would just bring the baby in and Denise would feed her between work calls. So it felt like having a family member come in and help. She thinks entrepreneurship is such a great way to mix all of that. And it’s how all of her babies grew up. Basically, someone to hold them while she went and did that one thing that she needed to do for work. It was almost like she was always around. And so they never had separation anxiety because they just knew mom was going on a call, and then she’d be right back.
She has also always talked about her business really honestly and openly. She shares with them that mommy is going to help people. And they understand that is her job. She finds when we try and do everything ourselves, we just get so burnt out and stressed. Her mom was a single parent, so she understands the hardships of not having help. But she says just start with what you can, with what you have right now. And it might be that you just get one client that will pay for a couple of hours of babysitting.
And you may have to create those passive income assets right away. Then you can afford to have a bit more help, ditching another money block. And the other thing that she regularly tells people, is to create before you clean because there's always more mess. A clean house does not last for very long, but you can create an asset for your business that will go on forever. If you've only got a little bit of time, be very intentional about how you spend that time. Because then that will be an asset that could pay for your kids' school fees in the future, or for you to all go to Disneyland.
The fact that she did that in the early days, allows her to now financially support her mom, who was a single mom, her whole life. They also financially support her husband's mom, neither of them has to work because of her business. Denise wants to remind you it's not neglectful to have dreams because it's an asset for your family that could pay off forever and ever, and ever.
What an uplifting interview. I am so glad I was able to chat with Denise and share her views on how you can get rid of the money blocks holding you back in this abundant life. You can follow Denise on social media here. And you can grab all of Denise’s Goodies to go along with her book here.
Still, looking for ways to ditch the financial guilt and find ways to change your money mindset and overcome your money blocks?