On this episode of Motivating Other Moms, Rosemary is joined by The Fly Lady. The two discuss the start of The Fly Lady ministry, turning chores into blessings and the family business dynamic. The Fly Lady shares her insights and tips with Rosemary about parenting, home life and getting organized. Rosemary shares her struggles and gets ideas and possible solutions.
About Our Guest
Marla Cilley is The FlyLady. She does not fly a plane! To keep a long story short, Marla loves to teach people to flyfish. That is how she got the name — FlyLady. Marla is a SHE (Sidetracked Home Executive). This system saved her life and continues to bless her. When Marla found the www.SHEsintouch.com website years ago, she needed a user name for the forums. Everyone was trying to help her come up with one. When they found out that she loved to flyfish and she taught it at a local college, they came up with “FlyLady.” It is because of Marla’s SHEness that she can now teach others. On December 7, 1999, someone asked Marla for help, and the FlyLady mentoring group began. This group has always been her gift to whoever joined. All Marla ever wanted to do was help people.
And now, the name, FlyLady, has come to mean so much more. One of her members came up with a great acronym for it: Finally Loving Yourself (FLY) – this is the gift that FlyLady wants you to receive. It was only after Marla learned out how to “FLY” that she was able to become the person of her dreams. She has three rules that she lives by:
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.
Woman: Mompreneurs, if you’re pulling double duty with kids and a business, you know how hard it is and it can be easy to feel so alone. But I’ve got great news. You’re not alone and you can do this. Welcome to motivating other moms. The show that pulls back the curtain to show vulnerable moments, lessons learned and solid business tips for mompreneurs. Now, here’s your host, successful mompreneur, Rosemary Nickel.
Rosemary: So, let’s go on with our interview with the fly lady. She has a really fantastic story. I met Marla at the homeschool conference in Orlando, Florida this year and I was so surprised to see her on the speaker list and I’m like it’s the fly lady. And I learned a lot about her that I did not know and I thought it would be great to share her story how she built the fly lady, how she got her name and — which is interesting. And share her journey with you because as entrepreneurial moms we think — it kind of looks like it all happens overnight and like she was just a success out of the gate but she has a fantastic story that is surprising to me. Welcome Marla to motivating other moms radio. Marla’s been on blog talk forever. When did you start in blog talk?
R: Wow. You are a trail blazer. And so you’ve been working on blog talk. We were just talking about whether I should be on blog talk or continue my podcast on like iTunes and Stitcher. Can you transfer from blog talk and —
M: Blog talk goes to iTunes.
R: Okay, awesome. And what you do is you actually pay a fee so that you can control your sponsorship that shows up on your show which is a fantastic control and it’s hard for podcasters to get sponsors as well. What did you do to get sponsors for your podcast?
M: I don’t have sponsors. I sponsor myself.
R: So, for the commercials, do you make anything off of the commercials of what shows up on your podcast?
M: There are no commercials on my show.
R: Well, I mean — okay. Not commercials. The ads that show up on your site.
M: They’re my ads.
R: They’re your ads. Okay. Well, that’s smart because you sell products.
R: Right. So why give it away to somebody else?
R: So, she’s been doing blog talk since 2007 and why should people — why would you think people — for podcasters — this is a relatively new world for a lot of people. Why should people be on blog talk instead of like just iTunes by themselves?
M: Well, I like the interaction with people asking questions and me answering them and there’s a call in numbers. Blog talk has always been on that platform where you don’t have to talk to yourself. You can actually interact with your people and enjoy the questions. You can have somebody screening the class and have a good time with it.
R: I have to say it never really dawned on me until just now when you said that. It’s like oh, my gosh. I would give anything to be able to talk to my listeners and hear what they have to say, hear what they want as podcasters. To be quite honest most people do not comment on podcasts and it’s really hard. It’s one of the things that podcasters struggle with is creating the community and getting feedback and it’s so important to get the feedback because we don’t know what you want, what you’re looking for, what you need so we can provide that for you. That’s what we want to do. We want to provide really great content for you guys and so whenever you’re listening to a podcast I encourage you to email them, comment bellow on their Facebook or comment on their Twitter and let them know what you liked about the show and what you would like to see on the show. That is gold. Gold, gold, gold for a podcaster. But the idea of blog talk which I never considered is being able to get that direct feedback as a live radio show.
M: Well, you could also start a chat that you — a running chat while you’re on the podcast.
R: So, you can do it live. For you on Periscope who are listening in you can do a live chat as well so not only can people call in on blog talk and talk to you live. How cool is that. They can do a live chat as well. So this is like exciting. I might actually end up looking at blog talk today and you might’ve talked me into this. I mean, I am desperate to talk to my listeners which is why I tried this Periscope thing and I’m getting a lot of hearts on this so I know there is people out there going yes, yes, yes. So, you might have me sold on this blog talk thing.
M: It’s been good for me.
R: Yes, it has been good for you. When you started your business — and you started your business out of your home. You don’t have an office but what floored me, what I learned about you when I was at the homeschool conference was that you didn’t even have a website when you started your business and —
M: Well, I don’t look at it as a business.
R: Okay. You don’t look at it as a business. What do you call it then?
M: It’s more ministry.
R: It is a ministry. I have to agree.
M: It’s about helping people.
R: Yes, I would agree it is about helping people. You bring great relief to moms’ lives and families’ lives. You make it better. I know I’ve added the word blessings into our chores. They’re not chores. They’re blessings. One kid’s on board with that whole thing and the other one’s not so much.
R: I have one that’ll do the floor and she’s like don’t step on my blessings. The other one’s like — yeah, the other one’s like whatever. So, yeah. Just one of the things that Marla does is she makes it fun to clean and when you implement what she does you end up with more time in your day and you’re happier and you’re less stressed. And when you started though you did not have a website and a lot of people think that’s the first thing I’ve got to do. I’ve got to get up my website but I know there’s a lot of people like Carrie Wilkerson, the barefoot executive and you and other entrepreneurial moms that have been very successful on starting out the gate without having a website. How did you get started to start getting people on board with your ministry?
M: Well, it started with an email list and it was in a group called one less and then it got bought out by E groups and the E groups got bought out by Yahoo and then all of it sort of was under the Yahoo umbrella for free in a group for till 2009.
R: So, you were on — do you still have a Yahoo address?
M: I don’t have a Yahoo — I’ve never really had a Yahoo address. You don’t have to have a Yahoo address to have a Yahoo group.
R: So, do you just do Yahoo groups?
M: No, I use constant contact now.
R: Okay. So, you use constant contact for your email system but you had added them — you started adding people on it first via Yahoo groups?
M: I never added anybody. Everybody added themselves.
R: Well, that’s the way to build a business that people come to you so everybody added themselves to your group. How did they hear about you?
M: Word of mouth.
R: Word of mouth. And you live in — where — you live in North Carolina?
M: I live in Western North Carolina.
R: Western North Carolina. So, you really started within your area. Were you going —
M: No, it was worldwide before. I never really focused locally.
R: Wow. You went worldwide. So, how did you manage to do that?
M: Well, it was just with Yahoo and people telling somebody in other chat rooms and before you knew it we had people in a 100 countries.
R: So, you started in a chat room and Yahoo people just started talking about and you had people from over a 100 countries. That’s amazing which tells you you hit the target market right there.
M: Well, people have homes. They want to get rid of the chaos in their lives.
R: They do want to get rid of the chaos in their lives. They’re desperate. A lot of people will sign up with you and they’ll see the success and the benefits of working your systems that you’ve created and then they fall off the wagon. What is it that makes people fall off the wagon?
M: They get overwhelmed. They’re already overwhelmed and then I send them 15 emails a day and they scream.
R: So, they get overwhelmed and email can be overwhelming so is it that they get so many emails that they feel like there’s too many tasks or —
M: Well, we do behavioral modification with email.
M: I try to get in their head to eliminate the negative thinking that they have and before we know it it just kind of — it just — we get — we change the way they think about their selves, about their families, they quit whining that their family’s not helping and they start doing their stuff and it all just kind of works together toward the goal, the target is the routines.
R: The routines. And I love that it’s really kind of building up the person because that really is the key because you can’t change habits if you’re not changing yourself.
R: And you’re so right that — and I am guilty of this as well is — my family won’t help me and why not but I know that whenever I implement the changes and I do them I don’t even have to ask most of the time. They just kind of start following but I have to be that leader. I’ve got to be the engine for the train for them to follow or they don’t know what to do.
M: Right. You can’t push them. It doesn’t work. Then you become a nagging mom and everything is just kind of annoying.
R: So, how did you get the name fly lady? It’s such an interesting name.
M: I used to teach fly fishing.
R: So, you used to teach fly fishing. That is so interesting. How did you get interested in fly fishing?
M: I got a divorce and it’s something I always wanted to do.
R: So, you got a divorce to do fly fishing? Well, I know you didn’t.
M: That was one of the things I wanted to do after I got the divorce.
R: Isn’t it interesting what divorce does for us?
M: This kind of opens things up. You quit trying to fit somebody else’s mold and you find out who you are and that’s kind of what flying’s all about.
R: It is kind of what flying is all about. And I don’t know if you mean that by fly fishing or the flying with fly lady.
M: It kind of all fits together.
R: So, you didn’t know anything about fly fishing before you got divorced but it was just something you were interested in?
M: I grew up fishing so I grew up with a cane pole and crickets and minnows and trout line fishing on the Mississippi River in Reelfoot Lake North in Tennessee and I always loved fishing but then I saw somebody fly fishing and I wanted to learn how to do that so my son and I took lessons.
R: That is so awesome. That had to be a great time for you and your son to learn that together and spend that quality time together. That kind of quality time is priceless.
M: Well, I learned how to do it and then I had to teach myself how to fish left-handed to teach him because he’s left handed.
R: Yay, lefthanders. I’m one of those. My husband’s one of those. We’re always strategically sitting at tables.
M: Oh, yeah.
R: That’s awesome. That’s like teaching your kid when you’re left-handed to tie their shoes. That’s pretty awesome. Though one of the other things is — which is interesting that you get the name fly lady because you were learning how to do fly fishing and — if that’s what you call it. Is that what you call it? Fly fishing?
R: Okay. And you actually did some political stuff in your town which surprised me. What office did you run?
M: I was a county commissioner. I got appointed for two years to replace a lady who went to the steak house in North Carolina and so I served out the remainder of her term and then took — I ran for office primary and all that stuff and ran on my own accord and I served six years.
R: Six years as a county commissioner. That is a lot of giving because it takes a lot to be a public service to people. What did you learn while you were — during that time?
M: Well, I learned how to deal with people. Number one. I learned a lot about — even though I already knew a lot about parliamentary procedure but working with my fellow commissioners and then working with a manager and then everything was — it just kind of all worked together. I learned how to deal with budgets, I mean, large budgets. Six million dollars for schools and 30 million dollars for the county and just — it was kind of interesting. The things you pick up.
R: It was during that time or sometime during that or after is when you started the fly lady because your life was so busy. Is that right?
M: They all sort of started at the same time. I started getting organized because I was terrified that the male members of the board of commissioners which there were four of them I was the only female would find out my dirty little secret that I couldn’t keep house.
R: Did you feel like you were less than because you couldn’t keep house and that that —
R: You didn’t compare to what these men are at home doing housework either.
M: These women — these men had wives.
R: To do it.
R: But you were the lone woman on the board that’s having to be on the board and go home and cook and do the dishes. So you bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan and all that other stuff.
M: Well, it’s a thankless job but somebody’s got to do it.
R: It is a thankless job. So, what was your first step in becoming organized and becoming the fly lady?
M: Trying to figure out why I was never organized.
R: And what did you figure out?
M: I figured out I never established a habit.
R: So, it was simple as you figured out that you had to had it — you never established a habit. And how did you know which habits to start? Was it just trial and error to see what worked?
M: It was just pick something. So, I picked something that would make my husband happy. Not me, but my husband. And when we first got married in ’96 he said to me if you’ll just keep one side of the sink empty I will — I’ll make you coffee every morning.
M: He makes me coffee every morning.
R: That is so great. So, keeping one side of the sink — the agreement was keep one side clean and I’ll make you coffee in the morning. I love when my husband makes me coffee. I’m not a big coffee drinker but I love when he makes me coffee. He’s my barista. And he hates dishes in the sink. It’s so funny. I would prefer them in the sink. He would prefer them piled up on the counter.
M: Well, that’s what dishwashers are for. Dirty dish disposal unit.
R: Yes. That’s true. That is what — you know what? I would love to have two dishwashers in my house right now. I can’t seem to keep up with — as fast as the dishes are created.
M: Well, the beauty of an empty dishwasher — I mean, if you — if there’s one thing you could do that’s just three minutes each day and you did nothing else in your house. Just three minutes. For me, it would be making sure the dishwasher was empty.
R: So, for three minutes a day you just make sure that the dishwasher is empty.
M: And put the dirty dishes in it. If you just had three minutes and it would make the biggest difference in your home.
R: So, for me and a lot of other moms — our kids — we’re training our kids to do it. It takes a lot longer than three minutes.
M: No, it doesn’t.
R: It does for my kids. I don’t know why.
M: Then you take the job over.
R: Then I take the job over. I don’t want to take the job over.
M: You take the job. Give them another job.
R: Give them — okay. I get that. I get that. The other one can empty it just — pretty quickly but for some reason both of them really take forever on doing the dishes. So, do you wait for your child to — is there a point when you know they’re ready to take on the task?
M: Well, you have to try them out. They have to trial and error. Put on some fun music and — or maybe you help them at first to get the dishes out and stack them up and show them where they go. They’re doodling because they probably don’t know where they go. You may have to put post it notes up. I know my daughter in law’s mother, when she was little she put all the plates and stuff on the bottom cabinets so that the kids did not have to climb to put things away.
R: Yeah. That was one of my problems that I have actually put off putting my nine year old to putting the dishes away because she can’t reach and I thought about putting them lower, the heavier stuff like the dishes and stuff on the bottom cabinets because of that. It creates a problem.
M: It’s either that or get Corelle that doesn’t break.
R: Corelle, yes. We had a babysitter come over and said you really need to get lighter dishes. Your dishes are super heavy. Which I knew they were because they’re made by potters. Some friends of ours were potters and they made us plates so they’re really super heavy for our kid.
M: They’re wonderful. I love those kind of plates but you’re teaching your children things and if you teach them that it’s hard work and they’re going to do weightlifting at the same time. Get their work out and put the dishes up.
R: Exactly. Yeah, that’s been toying in my head. I might have to just go ahead and invest in some Corelle to make it easier on everybody.
M: And there’s lots of it out there.
R: There is. I had a question on Facebook from somebody who felt like your website is geared more to the stay at home mom and it’s funny and ironic because I knew that you started this when you were working and you were so busy but you still wanted to cut the chaos out of your life. What advice do you have for working moms?
M: Well, what we do is — half the people work outside the home. The other half work at home raising children. Everybody’s raising children. That’s — when you go to a homeschool conference, everybody’s got kids.
M: So, we found 45 percent stay home, 45 percent work outside the home and we have 10 percent that work at home for money.
R: That’s a small percentage. I’m surprised.
M: Yes. So, and that’s not — that’s still 100 percent but some of those that are staying home are homeschooling and they have full time jobs at home that they don’t get paid for.
R: Right. Exactly. And it’s like the biggest job. It’s a lot. It’s a lot and people — and it’s not — they’re not just stay at home moms.
R: As everybody says. Oh, you’re just a stay at home mom. Yeah, give it a try.
M: Yeah. Exactly. When your kids are at home all day they’re messing up all day long. When everybody leaves the house the house is the way you left it.
R: Yes. There’s no fairy coming in unless you have a house cleaner to change that for you while you’re gone.
M: But you have to clean up before they come so you still have to have things put away.
R: That’s true. That’s true. Because then they can’t clean and the house is not going to look clean when they’re done.
M: And I teach people how to do weekly home blessing one item a day instead of doing a full hour at one time so you’re — each morning you do something for 10 minutes. Mop the floors, dust your furniture, just change your sheets. It’s all done in just a few minutes every day.
R: And one of the things that I love about your program, you have something called the launch pad. Can you tell my audience about what the launch pad is and it could help them in their lives?
M: Well, every day we have things we have to do and the night before you have to get ready for the next day. That’s our before bed routine. It’s the most important routine of the day and with that routine, that’s what you — the launch pad is the place you leave the house from so that’s where backpacks go, that’s where musical instruments go, that’s where your workout clothes, if you’re going to the gym, it’s where you’re ready to leave the house and not forget anything because there’s nothing worse than getting five miles down the road and have to turn around and go back because you forgot the clarinet.
R: Yes. Yes, so you teach people to night before — you have that all organized and you can teach your kids to — you can teach them to do that and then every night they know this is what they need to do.
M: Well, we have this beautiful thing that’s free to download. It’s called the student control journal. Now, we have put together one that’s printed for home schoolers that is called homeschool student control journal and you buy it but the student control journal is free on our website in our control journal section and all you have to do is just print it out and on the front of it it says parents keep out. Because it’s my message to kids. It’s how to keep mom and dad off their back so that they keep their rooms in order, they get their homework and they do all the things that they need to do.
R: I love that. And you have something called — for your email list fly babies.
M: Well, they call themselves that.
R: They call themselves fly babies.
M: Yes and sometimes husbands turn that into maggots and — you know. At homeschool convention in Nashville one man said you’re a dirty word in our house. But then he admitted he really — he said I wouldn’t let her mention fly lady for two years and now we need you back.
R: See, he converted.
M: Yes, he did.
R: Love it. Love when they convert. See people, sometimes it doesn’t happen overnight. Two years is a long time to wait for them to convert but it’s worth the wait when they do convert.
R: It is totally worth the wait. You’ve just got to put in the time, the encouragement and don’t nag them. I think one of the things that we do is we tend to nag and we then tend to complain but like we talked about earlier if you just start taking the action steps and doing it and having a positive mindset while you’re doing it which you help them create during their process of following the fly lady is that your mindset changes about the work that you’re doing and then it just naturally — the family naturally starts following you and it’s effortless.
M: And people don’t believe that.
R: It’s true in everything in life. It’s not just you and the fly lady and doing house and chores. It’s everything. If you want something to change you’ve got to be the change in the world.
R: It’s simple but for some reason very difficult for human beings. What have you found on this journey as the fly lady in the way humans act and why we do things and make it so difficult on ourselves?
M: Well, we get overwhelmed and when we get overwhelmed our brain shuts off. We can’t process because of the stress level in our bodies and it’s a chemical process so we have to learn to calm ourselves down so we can — how many times have you lost your keys and you can’t find them? And it’s because we just don’t stop and think about when we last had them. We can’t process so we have to center ourselves and just breathe to calm ourselves down so we can start the mental process.
R: Yeah. Or like when our glasses are on top of our head.
R: You’ll search for an hour.
M: Been there, done that.
R: So, another question is a mom, Angela Grazer, I hope I pronounced your name right Angela. She actually — I just hired her to be an assistant for me. I’m giving her a tryout so yay. And she does help me with my booking and my clients so she probably booked you as well. But she asked is it bad that she got to baby step number two. She went to your website and she goes I’m already overwhelmed. The first thing my feet are doing when they hit the ground in the morning is run straight to my one year old’s bedroom. I’d love to be able to get dressed to the shoes before doing anything else. Any tips on how to adapt for moms of infants and toddlers?
M: She needs to go to bed earlier. She’s getting in bed and she’s having to drag herself out of bed in the morning. I want her up 15 minutes before the toddler wakes up. And I want her dressed to shoes before the baby gets up.
R: So, as her being an entrepreneurial mom, my guess, I can only assume, Angela you can correct me if I’m wrong and I know this is a common problem with entrepreneurial moms and you’ve probably found it too is they stay up late working on their business after their kids go to sleep which I get and I understand but it’s also detrimental to your health and wellbeing as a mom.
R: And an entrepreneur because you’re not clear in the head and then also when it’s the baby, an infant and a toddler you’re also sleep deprived usually. Sleep is really more important than anything else.
M: You chose to have the children. They’re your responsibility and you may want to start this business but the children come first but if mom is sick in the bed what good is the business going to do if you’re sick or if you stay up burning both — burning the candle at both ends. You have to take care of you first.
R: I have found when I’ve coached entrepreneurial moms one of the things that I do try to teach is making sure that they get more sleep and it’s really a big battle. And taking care of their selves and taking time for themselves too and it’s fitting that into your schedule but when they do that it’s — they get really super excited because they’re actually able to get more done in a less period of time because they’re not tired and their mind is clear and they have the emotional capacity to be able to implement things in a more timely manner. Have you found that with working with moms?
M: What I found is that if you get up in the morning early you have time to do things for your business. You get dressed to lace up shoes. One of the things what people think they can run their business and be in their jammies all day. You can’t do that. You have to be dressed, ready to greet somebody on Skype and all the things that you need to do. You have to take care of all of that first. But those babies come before all of that. You’ve got to be dressed so you can take care of those. What if the baby opened the back door and started running in the street. If you’re not dressed to lace up shoes you can’t chase after that child.
R: Yeah, that’s true.
M: So, it just prepares you for your day.
R: What is the mental — I know a lot of people are like what is the mental aspect of putting on my shoes and lacing them other than trying to chase my child down the street. There is a mental aspect to that. Can you explain that?
M: Well, every sport has its own shoe. Moms want to wear flip-flops or go barefoot.
M: We need to put our shoes on. Right now I have on sandals because I don’t like hot feet and it’s summer time so I wear sandals that’s strapped to my feet. I cannot take them off easily.
R: Okay, so you just can’t slip in and out of them.
M: Right. That’s the — main thing is keep them tied to your feet because we’re southern girls. We grew up barefoot.
R: Yes, we do.
M: Shoes are a pain but I force myself to wear them and I did early on. I got a pair of shoes that I only wore in the house. Little white kids. It’s important to get dressed. It tells your head it’s time to do something.
R: So, when you were creating the fly lady and you were on the board you had kids at home. What was that like to manage the kids and your business, your job and creating a business?
M: My kid is 40 years old.
M: And he was 22 at the time.
R: Okay. So, you were already an empty nester when you started doing this.
M: Pretty much. He was off in college and getting ready to get married.
R: And now they’re actually — you’re also — like your whole family business, isn’t it?
M: Yeah, he keeps me out of jail.
R: So, he’s your lawyer?
M: Well, no. I sleep with him. My husband’s a retired judge so I sleep with him every night and then my son makes sure all the taxes are paid and all the payroll taxes are done because we have 20 people that work with us.
R: Wow. 20 people. So you — what you did, you started this whole system but then you started creating products and you’re pretty picky about selecting products. Can you talk about how important that is to your brand and the products that you pick to put out there?
M: Well, I don’t really call them products.
M: They’re tools.
R: They are.
M: And the tools came about because somebody needed something. We have trouble with dog and cat hair on our furniture. We have trouble with dog hair on carpets. And they wanted a tool to help get that off and people would say have you seen this and I would try it and I didn’t like it and finally we came up with some things that we like ourselves and we tried them and they work well and the first thing was the rubber scrubber. Well, the first thing was a calendar, a timer which goes right along with the system so yeah. As somebody found a product they liked in our company we would explore it and try to order it and do what we had to do to get it.
R: So, do you now have these tools in house in your office that you have away from the home now and then ship them out yourselves manually or are they shipped —
M: I never wanted to trust another distribution company. I knew I would take care of my ladies. Yeah, so I wouldn’t — I built my own distribution company.
R: And how does it feel? Is there any extra stressors to having employees? I know some people are afraid to have employees and being responsible for their livelihood and having 20 employees what’s your biggest struggle with that?
M: Well, loving them all enough. Getting to be with them and they’re all over the country like people that are working with you. They’re in Tennessee, they’re in Baltimore. A lot of them are here so I try to spend time — I don’t — this summer I’ve stayed home. I’ve been going to the office for about two years and I decided to stay home this summer and work on my third book and that’s coming along quite nicely but I’m staying focused at home. At the office I can’t work because I’m too busy loving them. Being around them, my presence — just being a part of their lives. So, I try to go to dinner with them. I pick one each week and we go do something and it’s — yeah. That’s the hardest thing for me.
R: I love that you do that. One of the moms that I know that listens and she’s been on the show before, Jessica Rhodes has really exploded her business in the past year and as she was preparing for her second baby she started adding more employees to her business and one of the things that she learned which I think is fantastic is she started — all of hers are virtual assistants so they’re not in her office. And she’s physically just got her first office so congratulations on that. But she does a once a week call with them to keep in communication with them and listen to them and what their needs are and what suggestions they have for her business and she says it’s changed everything and so I love that you create that sense of family and community within your business because I think it makes a huge difference in what you’re doing.
M: Well, I’m at Marla, the all love them.
R: I love that.
M: And one of the things I learned early on and I had a mentor here in town who owned our phone company and I would go in to his office every so often and we just sit and talk and he was an older gentleman and he had like 200 employees and he was the largest employer in the county and he told me from the beginning make sure their teeth are good. Make sure they have dental plans and the dental policy that he had for the company, that he was thinking about getting was so expensive he just decided he’d give them all 800 dollars a year.
R: Wow, I love dental.
M: And they would bring their receipts in from the dentist for checkups and things and he would pay for it.
R: I love that idea because it seems almost ridiculous to even have dental insurance because the price really doesn’t cover a whole lot.
M: Yeah. So, it’s about taking care of your employees because they’ll lose more work time from a tooth problem and if their smile is — if they’re self-conscious or whatever — we had one employee. She used to work here at the house with me early on. She’s been with me for 12 years but when she was in high school she got hit in the face with a soft ball. She was a catcher. And they put the tooth back in but the tooth was dark so we spent five years getting that tooth fixed.
M: She had to go through a lot of things. Jaw surgery, just a lot of things and she has the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen now.
R: There is nothing better than a beautiful smile. My mom was big on teeth so I’m enjoying this conversation. She was big on teeth and I get how important a smile is and how dental health is very important because it really — I don’t know people really realize that your dental health is actually a reflection of your internal health.
M: Exactly. And when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas that first year she worked she says I just want my smile back and so we spent the next five years working on that. She had to go through all the pain but it’s — it was worth it. It was so worth it. I love her a lot and it just made a difference in everything.
R: And that’s really what your ministry with the fly lady is about. It’s about making a difference and you’re doing it right there in your office because you live it and it’s truly authentically who you are. I love that about you. It’s a fantastic thing.
M: One of the most important things for entrepreneurial moms to do is — as side tracked people we tend to not want to do this but it’s our bookkeeping. We have to keep up with every dime we spend on our business because my husband was an attorney for 14 years and a judge for 20 years before he retired and the first thing he said to me when fly lady started is I’m the innocent spouse. We need a CPA. Get one now. And we — I asked around to see who would be the best to get. I asked my county manager who he recommended and he recommended this company and they sent someone out and they still do to this day every month they come and reconcile our books after the bank statements come out and they keep — Justin works hand in hand with them.
R: Wow. I hear that all the time and it is one thing I think that people neglect. How early into building your business — a lot of people don’t make any money for a long time. Did you get one before you started making money or after you started making money in your business?
M: The first year I did our income taxes. We started selling products. We had expenses which I’ve kept up with because I have an accounting background but that first year I did our income taxes I knew I could — and I had done some major taxes in my past because of my accounting background and working with a CPA. I knew I couldn’t do ours. So it was within three months of our first — our first product we started selling in 2001.
R: Okay, so you waited. You were doing it yourself and then when you started making money is when you hired somebody —
R: Okay. That’s good to know because I think a lot of people hesitate on getting one. One, they’re afraid to find out what the reality is.
M: But you need to start keeping up with what you’re spending and there are a lot of apps on that and we use quick books pro and it’s an amazing program to be able to write checks and do all the things that need to do and keep up with things. I don’t do it personally but I remember when she set it up and she set it up at my kitchen table.
R: Was it a huge relief to get that off of your plate?
M: Well, it allowed me to be the entrepreneur.
R: Exactly. Do you think that — and you probably know this and I do too. As entrepreneur it’s really hard to be the fly lady, the persona, the person and be creative and do all of that stuff when you’re doing stuff that you don’t enjoy or takes up your time so you can’t be creative to —
M: Well, I love the numbers. That’s never been a problem for me but the act of sitting down to write the checks, I would tend to get sidetracked and now it’s Justin’s job. He has — he’s born organized so surround yourself — if you’re creative and you’re little sidetracked surround yourself with born organized people that get things done and it takes all of us. It takes the creative people to think of things and it takes — I mean, my sister is born organized and she says Marla, you can think of more things in five minutes than we can implement in two years.
R: That’s a true creative person.
R: I love that. It’s very true about creative people. When is your book coming out that you’re writing this summer?
M: I’m hoping for October one but I don’t — I’m sort of giving it to god right now.
R: This is your, you said your third book.
M: Third book.
R: What have you learned about writing books because a lot of entrepreneurs want to write books and they hesitate?
M: You don’t have to hesitate any more. We have something called create space on Amazon and anybody can publish.
R: Yes, anybody can publish. But it’s about the writing part of them sitting down and writing which really — what you did was you took that time to create the sacred space for yourself to write. Is that kind of the key?
M: Yeah, yeah. I’m sitting in it right now. I’ve turned my extra bedroom kind of into a room of inspiration and my music is in here. Well, my music is always with me on my phone or computer but I have a little sound system in here. I’ve put pictures on the wall that mean something to me. Sayings on the wall. I’ve turned into my — just to get things going and sometimes I just turn iTunes on, iTunes roulette and I let god outline the book.
R: I love that. And so do you have a set routine like you get up and you go straight into that room to write for a certain period of time?
M: Well, I get up and I do — I get dressed to lace up shoes, I swish and swipe the bathroom, Robert’s got the coffee ready to go so I just have to turn it on. I run the dish, I run the dust mop through the house to get the dog hair up. This morning was doing some laundry so I had to go reboot the laundry downstairs and hang some things up and fold some towels and put them away so I try to get my routine done in the morning before I get started with my book and then the way the book has been working this year is I work in the morning on prayers and meditation to sort of get my mind in the right space and then about one o’clock in the afternoon I start writing and I write till about four.
R: Wow, that’s awesome. So, that’s when your creative time is. So, it’s really kind of finding out when you’re on to be able to create and creating that around yourself.
M: Yeah, you have to learn who you are and what works best for you. Now, my first book I would get up and write 10 pages or three hours. Whichever came first? And I was real strict with it. This time I’m being a little bit more flexible in allowing the god breezes to come in and let — god kind of guided.
R: God breezes. I like that. Are you going to put that in the book?
M: Oh, yeah. It’s _____42:29
R: I love it.
M: It started in our first book.
R: So, what is the name? Do you have a title for the book?
M: Oh, no.
R: No, not yet.
M: That’s the last thing you do. You don’t name the book until you’re ready to send it off to create space.
R: Because it changes and morphs, right? As you go.
M: Yeah. You just don’t know. I mean, Robert named sink reflexes for me. Body clutter was always body clutter because we’ve done something like body clutter on my website but sink reflexes didn’t have a name until it went to the publish. Well, I would — we self-published before there was self-publishing.
R: That’s a big deal to. That reminds me, I remember, we’re almost done with the interview. I want to fit that in is when you did your first book how many books were in your garage and what did you have to do? This was before Amazon was shipping them out for everybody.
M: Well, we had to ship them to Amazon.
M: We didn’t have a distribution center. My son would bag — every book had to be in a plastic sleeve and every book had to be put back into the box that they came from from the printer and then he would take 15 cases of books to the FedEx depot, put them on a pallet there and wrap them and ship them to Amazon.
M: And the Amazon would order them from us.
R: And how many did you sell going out of the gate for your first book?
M: We had about 60000 people on the list at the time. We sold 40000 books.
R: Wow. That is a great percentage.
M: It was remarkable but it also — what it did, it was a self-published book and we got into the top 50 on Amazon and Amazon was brand new and people started seeing this fly lady press so my phone started ringing off the wall with agents and publishers wanting to know who this fly lady press was.
R: I love that. Which started building more for your brand. When did you actually get a website after you started Yahoo group?
M: It was February the 22nd of 2001.
R: Wow. And when you went to — when you put your website up did you do it yourself or did you know what you were doing?
M: No. no, no, no. you didn’t do — back then there wasn’t widgets to build stuff. There wasn’t Word Press. You didn’t have those abilities back then. I went to a local company and I met with them and it was really weird. My mother passed away on December the 24th of 2000 and I was — had an appointment to meet with the website developers in January and so my husband said god closes a door, he opens a window somewhere and that was the day mother died and I went in January and met with them and we only had 12000 members at the time and they wanted to charge me and they did charge me 12000 dollars. They just _____45:52 picked a number which was our membership and I looked at my husband and I said I don’t know how I’m going to do this and he said well, you’re not. It’s doable. And he sort of footed the bill.
M: To help me do that and when we published the first book we had to get a second mortgage on the — well, we didn’t have a first mortgage so we had to get a mortgage on the house to be able to print those books.
R: I love that you mentioned that because a lot of people are like well, she probably had the money to do that. It’s not a big deal. This is what entrepreneurship really is about is one, having people around you that believe in you and support you and two is you’ve got to take big risks.
M: And you need a good banker.
R: And you’ve got to be able to sleep with a lawyer and a judge. That helps too.
M: But the beauty of it is he advises. But he doesn’t push his advice on me. Even though he’s — when we set up the corporation he’s 49 percent owner and I’m 51 so he’s part owner in the company. He’s just the innocent spouse.
R: Right. The stand byer.
M: He calls himself the gray eminence.
R: Oh, I love that. That’s a fantastic name. Well, our time is up. I have this — it flew by fly lady.
M: Time flies when you’re having fun.
R: Time does fly when you’re having fun. You can find Marla at theflylady.net and where else can people connect with you?
M: We have a Facebook page with about 400 and some thousand people on it. We do fun and games there and you can ask questions there. It’s called beflylady because somebody else stole fly lady. Then we have Twitter, we do our reminders on Twitter and we have two Twitter accounts. A fly lady Twitter account and the fly lady Twitter account. The fly lady gets everything from Facebook and Twitter — just the plain fly lady is all our reminders and — where are we? We’re everywhere.
R: Your blog talk radio is called the fly lady.
M: We have a link at the bottom of our webpage and it’s in the little fine print at the bottom says radio. I’ve archived all of my shows by the month so you can find all of our shows that we’ve ever done right there ready to go. It’s easy to maneuver.
R: Because if they’re listening to my podcast there’s a good chance they’re going to listen to you because they’re podcast geeks. Go on over there and give Marla some love on the fly lady at blog talk radio. Thank you Marla so much. It’s been such a joy having you on the show.
M: Thank you for having me. I appreciate that.
Woman: All right mompreneurs. This episode of motivating other moms has come to an end. Are you feeling inspired? Visit motivatingothermoms.com for more wonderful episodes and be sure to join our mailing list to get great free bonuses to keep your life and business moving forward. We’ll see you next time on motivating other moms.
Key Takeaways[00:00:47] Rosemary introduces The Fly Lady
[00:02:37] Blog talk vs iTunes
[00:05:10] The Fly Lady discusses starting out
[00:06:31] Without a website, how she started with The Fly Lady
[00:10:15] Where The Fly Lady got her name
[00:12:22] The Fly Lady talks about working for county commissioner
[00:14:26] What is the first step in becoming organized?
[00:16:56] Kids unloading the dishwasher
[00:18:19] The role of mom at home
[00:20:16] The Fly Lady describes The Launch Pad
[00:22:10] The ladies talk about the term “fly babies”
[00:23:40] All about feeling overwhelmed
[00:24:31] The Fly Lady describes an ideal morning routine with a toddler
[00:27:05] The importance of getting up early
[00:27:48] The Fly Lady’s philosophy on shoes
[00:28:55] The Fly Lady family dynamic
[00:29:52] Selecting tools & company dynamic
[00:36:10] The importance of bookkeeping
[00:38:52] Creativity versus born organized
[00:39:53] The Fly Lady talks about her new book
[00:43:22] What it was like shipping books before
[00:44:54] The Fly Lady talks about her website
[00:47:25] Where you can find The Fly Lady
Mentioned in This Episode
In this report you’ll discover 5 tips you can begin implementing and practicing right away to be on your way to creating a more predictable flow in your family and life.