Episode 112 – Apology-free Writing with Denise Duffield-Thomas

Denise Duffield-Thomas“People feel like, if they haven’t been ‘chosen’, then ‘Who am I to write a book?’… I just think: don’t wait to be chosen. If this is something you want to do, just do it.”

Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Lucky Bitch, helps women overcome their hang-ups about money. In this episode, she helps writers overcome their hang-ups about, well, writing and life in general. It’s packed full of practical tips on getting over yourself, connecting to your motivation, finding the title that works for you (even if it’s controversial), and organising your life – apology-free – so that you can Get Stuff Done. Including writing the book that will change your business and your life.

Listen up, girlfriend. (And blokes, you need to hear this too.)


Denise’s website: www.denisedt.com

Denise on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/denisedt

Denise on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeniseDT

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

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Alison Jones:                        Hello and welcome to the Extraordinary Business Book Club. It is a joy and delight to be here today with Denise Duffield-Thomas, who is the money mindset mentor for the new wave of online female entrepreneurs. Her bestselling books, Lucky Bitch and Get Rich Lucky Bitch, give a fresh and funny roadmap to create an outrageously successful life business. Denise helps women release their fear of money, set premium prices for their services and take back control over their finances. She is an award-winning speaker, author and entrepreneur who helps women transform their economy-class money mindset into a first-class life. What a cracking biography Denise. Welcome to the show.

Denise D-T:                            Thanks Alison. Thanks so much for having me.

Alison Jones:                        It’s really good to have you here. You are here because Kelly Pietrangeli, who is the author of Project Me, when I asked who she would recommend as a guest on the show she didn’t hesitate. She recommended you. She described you as her ‘business crush’ and after I’d spoken to her, I watched the video of you talking about how men sell and how women sell and I cried laughing. It’s absolutely hilarious. Just tell us a little bit about what you do around money for women and why it’s necessary.

Denise D-T:                            Yes. First of all I want to say I’m not a financial advisor, I’m not an accountant, that’s not the work that I do. I specialise purely in the mindset of money. A lot of women I notice have confidence issues when it comes to money, we’re often scared of money even as a concept. Definitely a lot of entrepreneurs under-charge and over-deliver so we have a long way to go when it comes to making friends with money. So I have books and courses just related to that topic to help women feel okay, dare I say it, even really good, about money. I’m passionate about that for a number of reasons. One, I saw my mum and my grandmum be very … Well, just not independent when it came to money. They didn’t have any financial power and independence in their lives. From a really young age I was always wanting to be financially independent and I want that for other women.

But then more than that, I want the planet to feel the full power of women when we have more money in our lives. We are known to be more philanthropic, we spend our money in ways that enrich our communities, our families, our children, all that kind of stuff. I’m not dissing men here but this is what we do. I want to see what will happen to the planet when women have more money because I honestly think it would only be a good thing.

Alison Jones:                        What do you think is the basis of the ickiness that so many of us … And I totally get this, and that’s why I was laughing. I recognised everything you were saying about, “I’m not sure my thing’s good enough, and maybe… I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you some money off for no reason.” I recognised all of that. Where does that come from?

Denise D-T:                            You know what? We’re beating ourselves up for it all the time but the truth is that most of us have had no role models when it comes to women and money. I would gauge that most people listening, maybe their mom earned some money, maybe. That’s not true for everybody. Certainly your grandmother probably didn’t and your grandmother probably wasn’t even allowed to have her own bank account and her own mortgage and her own loans throughout her career. We’re kind of beating ourselves up but yet it’s still kind of a new thing. Then you put in all the stuff that we’re conditioned to do about… to be nice, to be helpful, to be kind and all those kind of things. I think a lot of women don’t think that you can be nice and kind and yet still charge people for what you do. It brings up this weird feeling inside of us that somehow asking for money isn’t a nice thing to do.

It isn’t a kind or a good thing to do, let alone we want to help people. Often women don’t think that you can’t charge people for changing their lives, or that you can choose. You have to choose between helping people or making money. We’re still uncovering a lot of this stuff inside us I think. It’s our generation really that’s going to pave the way for our girls because they’re going to see us make our own money. More women are breadwinners today than ever before. Our little girls and our little boys are watching us now to see about … They’re shaping their own money beliefs right now.

Alison Jones:                        That’s so interesting actually. I hadn’t ever thought of it that way. We are still very new in this game and you’re quite right, looking back at the generations, you haven’t got the role models there. Maybe there’s hope for the next generation, maybe there’s hope for them. That’s good.

Denise D-T:                            There is, absolutely.

Alison Jones:                        One question, a very specific question actually, I did promise Kelly that when I spoke to you I’d go back to her and say, “What question would you like to ask Denise?” Because she’s so excited about this opportunity. She asked a really specific, really interesting one which was around: how are you consciously setting intentions? I know for example that you sell affiliate deals which is a really interesting way of making money that didn’t used to be a thing but is a thing now. I think you work with Marie Forleo in the B school don’t you? Kelly was asking do you set yourself a figure, “This is how many I’m going to sell,” and then manifest that, or is it more organic or… How intentional are you about your targets for money?

Denise D-T:                            That’s a really good question. The honest answer is it depends. I’m not always perfect with my goal setting. Sometimes I’m kind of coasting, depends, if I don’t have a big money goal. But other times I have a big why behind it. I find it really hard to set a money goal just for the sake of setting a money goal. For example if I do a big promotion or something I need to have something emotionally connected to that for me. Which is perfect at the moment because I’m building a house. We’re in the process right now of costing out everything in the house so we’re going to know how much the flooring costs, how much the taps cost, how much the sinks cost, everything. That’s actually going to really help me over the next year to set money goals because I’ll have an emotional attachment to that. I’ll go, “Oh, well this can pay for our pool, this can pay for the carpet, this will pay for the stairs.”

Without that I actually do struggle because I just think, “Well what’s the point? I don’t have any big emotional ‘why’.” That’s a big aha I think for anyone listening…

Alison Jones:                        That’s a great tip yeah, I love that.

Denise D-T:                            …don’t set money goals for the sake of it. Have a purpose for the money. Even if it’s just putting it in savings it’s like, “Oh, I want to …” Or getting out of debt is a really big emotional one too. What I find Mark and I do, this is really funny, when we have a shower we can see each other’s goals written in soap on the shower screen because that’s what we often do. I’m not a big journaller I have to say. In the morning I’m writing my goals out in soap on the shower.

Alison Jones:                        And then washing them away? I’m not quite sure of the symbolism of this.

Denise D-T:                            No, I don’t wash it away. Yesterday I was having a shower and I could see Mark’s … We’ve got a goal at the moment because we’re about to do a launch. I could see his goal in there and I was like, “Oh that’s so cool.” We often have different goals but that’s what I do.

Alison Jones:                        I love that. That soap’s a lovely insight into your life, thank you. That’s brilliant. I’m really interested in your titles. I think titles are fascinating anyway but yours are particularly interesting. They’re really in your face. Lucky Bitch, Get Rich Lucky Bitch. I’m guessing this wasn’t an accident. I’m guessing this was a really conscious decision about positioning yourself. Tell me how it came about. Did it feel scary or did it just feel the most natural thing to do?

Denise D-T:                            Well it actually happened in the shower.

Alison Jones:                        It’s all going on in the shower.

Denise D-T:                            Yes it did. Gosh, this was like 2011 and I was having a shower which is where I do my best thinking. I set an intention, I was saying to the universe, “Hey, send me a bestselling title. Send me a bestselling idea.” I really put that out to the universe like, “I want to write a book, I want it to be catchy,” and all this kind of stuff. The name Lucky Bitch came to me and it was because a lot of my friends had called me a lucky bitch because when I started really getting into the law of attraction and goal setting, things like that, things kind of magically happened for me. When I say, “magically” in quote marks because I didn’t feel like I was just sitting and wishing for something to happen. I was really actively going out there and making my dreams come true. My friends were like, “Oh my God Denise, you are such a lucky bitch.”

It kind of stuck in my mind. I was in the shower and I was like, “That’s it, lucky bitch.” I remember talking to my coach at the time and I said, “I’m really scared. I don’t know if this is going to go down well with people.” I think sometimes when people first hear it they say, “That’s really harsh,” but then they watch a video or they listen to me and they realise that it’s more tongue-in-cheek. I’m not an aggressive kind of person that’s like, “Yeah you have to be a bitch to get ahead.” It’s very much about the fact that people will think it’s just luck and it’s not. I take people behind the scenes how to manifest pretty much anything in their life. It’s like it’s really not luck, you can consciously bring things into your life and it takes work but it’s not necessarily luck. Then when I wrote the money book I was like … I don’t know why I called it Get Rich Lucky Bitch. It was the thing that came to me. But you know what else I did a couple of years later? I was getting into shiny object syndrome, which a lot of entrepreneurs do. People were asking me how to use the work that I was teaching to manifest a partner, to manifest a soulmate. So I wrote a book called Get Hitched Lucky Bitch.

Alison Jones:                        I could see that coming over the hill. That was brilliant. What else can we do with this, right?

Denise D-T:                            I did and I was like, “Oh my God.” And then my friend who is a dietician, she was like, “Let’s do Get Fit Lucky Bitch.” I reigned it all back in because I was like, “No, this was shiny object syndrome. Let’s reign it in a bit.”

Alison Jones:                        That’s so interesting. But what it does show is the potential, when you grab your little niche like that then you can spin it out. It’s like the four-hour work week thing that went onto the four-hour diet or whatever it was. Really interesting and I like too that it’s got the tongue-in-cheek element. That it hooks you in because you can’t forget that, you can’t forget Lucky Bitch. “What? What do you mean?” It’s got a sort of shock value with it and you want to know more and then you realise it’s a bit subversive and tongue-in-cheek. I think that’s really smart, really clever, I like it a lot. Tell me a little bit more about how the books actually work with your business. I know that you’ve got your signature course. Which one came first? Is it the course or the book or how did it work together?

Denise D-T:                            Lucky Bitch came first and that was kind of based on a manifesting course that I had half-formulated so I can’t actually remember which one came first on that. They seemed to kind of come together. But with Get Rich Lucky Bitch the money course came first which was really helpful because I had all the transcripts of the course and I had testimonials and all this kind of stuff that really helped me then write the book. For this third book that’s coming I don’t know if there’s going to be a course around it so the book is definitely coming first, this third one. But the way it works for me is people often ask what’s the difference between the book and the course? I say it’s like listening to Beyoncé on the radio versus going to see Beyoncé in concert. Not saying that I’m Beyoncé but you can provide the same information in different ways to people and people consume it differently.

You’d be crazy if Beyoncé came to your town and said, “Well I’ve already heard one of her songs on the radio. Why would I go see her?” Well because it’s a different experience and that’s the same with people thinking about having a book and having a course and what to put in there. I err on the side of generosity, like I’ll put in a lot of stuff from the course in the book but for example one of the exercises might have two examples in the book and it might have 20 in the course. You doing it a different way because you’ve got people, you’ve got support, you’ve got people doing it alongside you, you’ve got me to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid of making them very similar because for me I think, well that book is a business card, that is an advertisement for my course. A lot of people read the book and then join the course.

I often see my books like that. I’m just like, “Go forth, my pretties, and tell the world about my work.” I’m not super-precious about them.

Alison Jones:                        That’s brilliant. I love the Beyoncé metaphor because so often, in fact it just happened this week. Somebody was saying in one of the boot camps I run, “Oh but if I put stuff out in the blog doesn’t that mean nobody will want to read the book?” I’m like, “No. When you’re thinking about going to see a Harry Potter film which is the metaphor I use, you’re more likely to see the film if you’ve read the book because you’re into it. It’s layering it in all these different ways and people like what you do. They want to consume it and they want to get a piece of you in it as much as they can as well which is where the course comes in isn’t it?

Denise D-T:                            Absolutely.

Alison Jones:                        Actually you’re much more likely to go and see Beyoncé if you’ve listened to the music on the radio or on your Spotify playlist because you’re into it. Yeah that’s a really good way of looking at it, fantastic. You’ve got young children haven’t you? Tell me a little bit about-

Denise D-T:                            I do.

Alison Jones:                        Me too. This is a challenge, this is a constraint on a writer’s life isn’t it? And a business, so… that’s a different podcast. What does writing look like for you and how do you fit it around all the domestic and professional commitments?

Denise D-T:                            I’m someone who romanticises the idea of writing books because I’m constantly thinking of new book ideas that I want to write. I often think, “I just want to quit my business and just write full-time. That’s all I want to do.” Then I actually find the process quite tricky. I love speaking, I find that inspiration comes very easily and quickly to me when I’m speaking. I very rarely have to prepare to speak on-stage, I can do interviews and drop wise nuggets like I’m … Divine downloads come through my voice. But when I sit down at a computer I find it tricky to translate that. How I fit it around… I have a lot of help in my life and I’m very open about that and very unapologetic. The kids go to day-care a couple of days a week, we have a nanny a couple of days a week, we have a housekeeper, we have a cleaning team. I do not cook, I do not clean.

Part of that reason is I hate those things. They bring me zero joy and they don’t make me any money. I know that any time I can spend working on my business, creating a book, writing a course, anything like that is creating an asset that can pay me and my family for theoretically ever. If someone has a book that sells forever your family can have that money one day as well. Whereas I think, “No-one cares and no-one notices if I clean the toilet.”

Alison Jones:                        It’s not improving your soul in any way. The smell of roasted martyr is not appealing is it?

Denise D-T:                            No it’s not. One thing that has really helped, I know we were going to talk about writing tips in a little bit, but because I do find it’s so difficult to get those divine downloads I actually had a really great writing week this week. I’m thick in writing my third book which is due in July of this year. What I did was I actually listened to a recording of myself giving a seminar, which… I never watch myself back. I’m always like, “Turn that off.” But I was listening and I was half-transcribing but as I was writing I was getting new divine downloads about that material. That’s going to be probably a very integral part of my writing from now on because I realised it really helped bring those two mediums together. Like the listening to the sound of my voice and what was coming through me at that time on that stage and then what comes through me now. Whereas I found that if I just sit in the room with no sound and just come up with something I really struggle a little bit.

Alison Jones:                        I hear you. I’m exactly the same, yeah. There’s no energy in it. You need a response, you need someone to talk to, to bounce off. I don’t know if this is just extroversion, it’s obviously an extrovert trait. But it’s something about a different energy isn’t it, and a different quality of thinking. I’m exactly the same and I’ve had quite a few people who have had a similar experience and got over it by literally dragging someone, some poor soul, they dragged them into a room and talk at them and transcribe it because it’s just so much-

Denise D-T:                            Exactly. One thing I was thinking too is I love doing Facebook Live and it’s like whoever’s on is on and they can ask questions and I was thinking, “If I’m going to struggle with a chapter I might just get onto a Facebook Live and see what people ask about… you can get people’s feedback.”

Alison Jones:                        I love that. It’s about using it intentionally as well isn’t it? Saying, “Well, this is the topic I’m dealing with so I’m going to hit record” and then you can get Rev.com to transcribe it for a dollar a minute. It’s amazing. And then you’ve basically got your chapter.

Denise D-T:                            Yes exactly. I realise too I’ve got so much material that I’ve never even really sent out. I did a whole day mastermind in London a couple of years ago and only the people who went there have ever seen the recording. It was like 50 people there. I just think, “That’s such a waste.” I’m going to be listening to that. We’ve already had that transcribed. When you think of all the intellectual capital that you have at your disposal and most of the time we dismiss it and think that we have to come up with brand-new stuff, and most people haven’t heard your good stuff. I remember reading Amy Schumer’s book and she talked about this. It was third-hand because it was actually told to her from Jerry Seinfeld. He said, “Each time you do stand-up you think you have to have brand-new material. But most people in the audience haven’t heard your best stuff. And the 20% of the people in the room who have, they’re happy to get a reminder and a refresher because they love you.” I found that recently with speaking on stage. I really cut myself some slack of thinking I have to come up with a brand new speech. I just did the same speech I’ve been doing for a year and I have all these people come up going, “Oh my God, that was great.” But then I had people who’ve gone, “You know what? That’s the fourth time I’ve heard that speech and I needed to hear it again.” I was like, “Stop beating ourselves up that we have to always come up with 100% unique material.”

Alison Jones:                        That’s such a great tip. I’m going to call this the apology-free lifestyle or something. This is a theme that’s coming through isn’t it? Stop apologising for stuff and just do it.

Denise D-T:                            I love that.

Alison Jones:                        Apology-free living, love it. Brilliant. I was going to ask you for your best tip for anyone planning to write a book to build their business. I think we might have just talked about it but is there anything else that you would advise people to do or try?

Denise D-T:                            Yes. I think we still romanticise the idea of writing a book. It’s almost like it’s this really fancy thing that only a few people can do. I just think now, there’s no barrier to entry to writing a book. You can self-publish within a day if you wanted to. It costs you nothing basically to self-publish a book. But there’s still this thing of being chosen and people feel like if they haven’t been chosen then who am I to write a book? I wrote Lucky Bitch in 2011. I did it as an eBook and then put it on Kindle, paperback in 2012, Get Rich Lucky Bitch in 2013. They weren’t perfect books by any means, they had spelling mistakes, I did it half in US English and half in British English. There was no standardisation. You know what? Last year I decided to revamp them so I went through them all with a fine-tooth comb.

Then Hay House has picked them up. They’re republishing them with new covers and the new content. I just think: don’t wait to be chosen. If this is something you want to do, just do it. I often say to people too, if you can write a tweet you can write a book. It’s just like 20,000 tweets. I think it’s 5,000, something like that. I just thought, it’s not that big a deal so stop romanticising it. Then the cool thing is on the other side, once you have written a book you’ll get people going, “You’re so clever. You’ve written a book.” So it does have this kind of cachet in our society. But internally you can’t think that it’s out of your reach. It’s just really simple.

Alison Jones:                        People never say, “Well done you, you wrote a tweet.” Right, it’s got some cultural cache still doesn’t it?

Denise D-T:                            It does, absolutely. You know you can hire someone to do a cover, you can … It’s just so easy. There’s no barrier to entry so stop waiting to be chosen.

Alison Jones:                        I love that. I remember somebody saying to me years ago that leaders are just people who’ve decided to lead. And also they’re just people who’ve decided to write. There’s nobody standing there saying, “You, you’re an author, and you’re not and you should never try.” Not today. Great, it’s really inspiring actually. I hope that’s getting people’s hairs on the backs of their necks standing up because it bloody well should. That’s brilliant. I want to ask you a question. If you were to recommend to the people listening to this podcast one business book, not yours, sorry, but one business book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?

Denise D-T:                            I am such a big fan of books and business books. But one that I think has just really made such an impact on me is The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

Alison Jones:                        I love that.

Denise D-T:                            It’s just such a great book and it’s got so many nuggets in it. But I especially love when he talks about Zone of Genius which has not just become common in our lexicon I guess. But it’s really profound in so many ways and it’s helped me see where I’ve self-sabotaged in the past and where I continue to sabotage myself. It really is a must-read but if I can just do one more too, it’s Steven Pressfield’s book. He’s got the War of Art and Do The Work. I know when I was really suffering from fear and procrastination and resistance when I was writing my books, just dipping in and out of those books, and they’re very small. It kind of gave me a little bit of courage to go back to it and finish it. And so I think those books for sure should be on any writer’s or any entrepreneur’s bookshelves because you just need that courage to …

It’s not a common thing for people to go after their dreams and to do it. It is tricky dealing with the fear but it doesn’t mean that you … Just because you have the fear doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the thing. Fear is normal and inevitable but reading that book and just getting one chapter and then get back to it.

Alison Jones:                        I love the fact that Steven Pressfield says that when you feel the fear it’s normally an infallible guideline to what you ought to be doing. It’s almost like a tool to find out what’s important in your life, the more the resistance the more you need to get up and do it. I love that. I’m nodding so enthusiastically that I nearly knocked my headset off. I love all of those books. Actually funny story, I interviewed Gay Hendricks for one of the earlier podcasts actually. We were talking about the cover. You know that he’s got that small fishbowl and the big fishbowl and the fish is leaping?

Denise D-T:                            Yeah.

Alison Jones:                        He was telling me about how that came about. I was saying to him, “I don’t know if that fish is going to make it.” He said apparently some mathematician had measured it all out, he’d looked at the trajectory and he said, “I hate to tell you this but that fish is not going to make the leap.” So funny. But let’s put that to one side. We are definitely going to make the leap, it’s going to work, it’s going to be fine. Great recommendations. I’ll put links for those up on extraordinarybusinessbooks.com. There’ll be a transcript of this whole interview and I’ll put links to those books there as well. If you’re driving along and trying to pull over and find a pen and paper then don’t worry, you can just go there and find them. Which leads me onto the last question, Denise, which is how can people find out more about you and where should they go?

Denise D-T:                            My website is DeniseDT.com. DT stands for Duffield-Thomas. That is coincidentally my handle on almost every social media platform. So on Facebook you can find me at Facebook.com/DeniseDT, Instagram at DeniseDT, Twitter at DeniseDT. I would love especially for people to tag me on Instagram. Take a picture of the podcast picture with me and Alison and tag me on Instagram at DeniseDT and tell us your aha from this interview. My books can be found on Amazon, Kindle, paperback and Audible as well.

Alison Jones:                        Fantastic. And you’ve got of course the new book coming out so you’re finishing that at the moment aren’t you? This will be going out in May I think. When’s that new one coming out?

Denise D-T:                            Yeah. The new version of Get Rich Lucky Bitch will come out in July and then the new book, the third book will come March 2019. Yet another reason to do both publishing and traditional publishing, self-publishing, sorry. Because self-publishing you can get a book up in a week, traditional publishing takes like two years.

Alison Jones:                        Not so much.

Denise D-T:                            Exactly. That will all be on Amazon as well.

Alison Jones:                        Awesome, thank you. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for your time today.

Denise D-T:                            Thanks. Thanks everybody.


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