The Incredible Journey from Employee to Entrepreneur

In this episode, Debra shares her story about how she made the transition from corporate executive to entrepreneur. She shares her setbacks, resistance, and what ultimately made the difference in making the leap to become her own boss. Be inspired by her story to create your own happy ending and live your purpose.

  • Importance of Women Role Models and Mentors
  • Past Conditioning from Family, Culture and Society
  • Stages of Change

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The Incredible Journey from Employee to Entrepreneur


INTRO  00:00

Welcome to Creative Mind Soul Sessions with Debra Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado, founders of Creative Mind. Explore personal growth with us through Jungian psychology, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience in a deep, but practical way. Let’s begin.

Robert Maldonado  00:23

Hello, everyone, welcome back to soul sessions, we have a very special conversation that we’re going to have. Because we have an expert with us. And we want to know about your personal journey,from worker to entrepreneur. Not only that, to successful entrepreneur, and what makes you tick, and what was your experience like? And then we want to do a series, the next five sessions will be talking about this theme, from different perspectives, different elements of that successful journey of entrepreneurship,

Debra Maldonado  01:09

Right, to talk about what is your purpose, how to be successful, the keys, as an entrepreneur, the growth, the hero’s journey — later on about that, and yeah, it’s gonna be a fun series. I’m so excited. It’s my favorite subject, to talk about my journey, it’s always — it’s very rewarding.

Robert Maldonado  01:28

Yeah, and the particular journey of women, I think, is important. A lot of the hero’s journey kind of mythology has been based on men’s journeys. And little is known about, you know, what’s going on in women’s psyche, as they go through that transformation.

Debra Maldonado  01:48

You know, that’s a really good point. Because as I think about my journey, from leaving the corporate world to having my own business, I think about that, I did a lot of things out there. But most of the journey was internal, most of the journey was facing my own resistance, facing parts of my — and even most rewarding is revealing parts of myself, I didn’t know were there. The leader in me, the the passion in me, the healer in me, the person that can, you know, help others. I didn’t know I had that in me. And so someone who could write a book, so many parts of myself got to be lived. And as Jung says, we have this unlived self in us. And I do believe that entrepreneurship is a really incredible way to open up and live your other life that you were meant to live. It’s so wonderful. So

Robert Maldonado  02:42

Well, and it’s also such an important time right now, because there are a lot of people interested in becoming entrepreneurs, or maybe need to become entrepreneurs, just have that… that need to do it. And often the… let’s say where to start, how to start to think about making the transition is so important. So we figured this initial session of the series — we’d talk about, where do people get stuck? And their corporate jobs or their everyday lives. And— and then how do they start to move towards that vision of becoming an entrepreneur.

Debra Maldonado  03:28

Yes, that is a big step. So which questions do you want me to answer first? Well, I could tell a little bit about my story. I was in the corporate world until I was 39. I was laid off when I was 39. So that’s my last job, I’ve been laid off a lot. And one thing I realized when

Robert Maldonado  03:48

Were you laid off a lot? 

Debra Maldonado  03:51 

A lot. 

Robert Maldonado  03:53 

Well, you bet. Well, let me ask you that. Were you a bad employee?

Debra Maldonado  03:55

No, I wasn’t laid off because… 

Robert Maldonado  04:00 

You were slacking off? 

Debra Maldonado  04:01 

No, everyone was laid off. I worked, when… I worked, you know, very steady jobs for years. And I always had a job. And then when I moved to Colorado, I started working in the .com industry. And I don’t know if you know, I know you were in college and studying psychology in a very safe place. But out in the entrepreneurial world of startup… business startups, high tech startups, there in the 90s, when the internet first exploded on the scene, I was one of the very first people who were involved in startups and marketing. Internet businesses 

Robert Maldonado  04:34 

The .com era 

Debra Maldonado  04:35 

The .com era and the buzz [?]. So I would work for these companies, they would get a lot of investors to invest in their right crazy idea. And then they would run out of money and then everyone would be laid off, the company would close, and then I would have to find another job. So it was kind of that — it happened a couple times. And the thing I think, for me, what I learned is that I liked being in a startup environment. The corporate… like, working in a big corporation, and having, like, a small little sliver of responsibility versus as when I worked in a startup, it was so exciting because I got to do so many different things, I got to, you know, be on the front line of the beginning of birth of a business. So I think in that sense, I got a taste of “Wow, this being an entrepreneur is really, like, exciting to me”. So it kind of started that process. But then I got a more of a steady job in… in a big company. And that was the last company I worked for.

Robert Maldonado  05:35

Well, let me ask you this, then. A lot of people kind of asked this question is, what is it that distinguishes somebody that goes on to become an entrepreneur or successful entrepreneur? And someone who doesn’t or never really takes that… that adventure of, you know, going off on their own? Is there something in you that goes back to childhood? Is it, you know, your parents? Is it in psychology or, I’d say, nature versus nurture dilemma? Was it something you were taught? Or is it just genetics and predisposition?

Debra Maldonado  06:19

Well, if I think about it, I’ve always been a nonconformist. I’ve always been, when it’s something like everyone picked, even favorite colors, everyone would pick blue and pink. You know, my sisters and brothers had blue and pink as their favorite colors, mine was purple. I was always a little different. I was always very creative. Even as a young girl, I wrote stories. And I just felt like, you know, just, I remember, one day I was in church with my family, we were Catholic. And I looked at my mom, and she was so happy, you know, she’s a mom. And I was like, God, I wonder if she’s bored with her life, like, I’m going to be like, I’m going to do something big with my life, like, so I felt it inside. I think some of us that are entrepreneurs or wanting to be entrepreneurs, but scared — the people that are unsettled in that corporate life. It’s almost like you’re born with this kind of unsettled… like a, like a hero in you, you know, that kind of adventurous part of you that says “You know, I just don’t want to be like everyone else, I just don’t want to be a cog in the wheel, I want to create something”. So I think it’s more, creative people are really good as entrepreneurs. And I feel like that was kind of me. And so I think that’s also true, why I kept getting laid off. Because when I moved to Colorado, I said “I’m going to start my own, I want to do something different”. And I kept going back to getting another job. And it was just… the job to me was the safety, security default. And not the, you know, and I had this dream of like, maybe being a therapist or doing coaching or something, I actually went to massage school. And every time I would get a corporate job, they promised me a lot of money. And then I was like, well, maybe I’ll do that, I kept pulling myself back. So that was the battle inside of me. And a lot of entrepreneurs I speak with, they kind of know they have the passion for something, they either don’t know what they want to do, or they don’t think they can do it. And so they end up just defaulting. But that is actually worse, because now you’re defaulting and you’re unhappy with the default.

Robert Maldonado  08:24

So you’re saying, even as a child, there’s something in you, that’s a little rebellious against the system, you want to color outside the lines and do things your way.

Debra Maldonado  08:36

I didn’t like working for other people either.

Robert Maldonado  08:39

We’ll get to that. But let’s take it in stages. Then what about training? Because you mentioned college. And there’s been some talk, like when they interview Elon Musk or when they talked with Steve Jobs. They were saying “Don’t go to college. You don’t have to go to college”. What’s your take on training on education?

Debra Maldonado  09:06

Well, I think there’s nothing wrong with it. But I don’t think if you don’t have it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful. Because I didn’t graduate college. I went to college, but I never graduated. I guess I felt like what I was learning there was uninspiring for me. And then when I was thinking of kind of doing the therapy route, I was thinking about, well, maybe I want to be a therapist. I wanna help people in that way. It was just a long journey for me. I was like in my late 30s already. And I was thinking “Do I want to go to school for six years, and then stay in the corporate world for six years?” And I was looking for something that was a little… something I could start right away, where I didn’t have to, you know… It wouldn’t take years for me to accomplish. And so… 

Robert Maldonado  09:48

But isn’t that the same streak of rebelling against… the kind of the system?

Debra Maldonado  09:55

Yeah, like I don’t want to follow all the rules. I’ll take the shortcut.

Robert Maldonado  09:59

Yeah, yeah.

Debra Maldonado  10:01

And I never went to a therapist. So I, like, think— I thought to myself “Well there, you know, I don’t… I didn’t need a therapist. So like, why would I want to do something that I’ve never done myself?” So I think that also was in the back of my mind.

Robert Maldonado  10:15

Yeah. Then you get to this idea of, you know, the worker mindset. And we know, the best entrepreneurs kind of work themselves there. In other words, you don’t see great people or great entrepreneurs who were given everything and handed everything, because there’s no drive there for them to create something new.

Debra Maldonado  10:42

Yeah, I noticed that when I was thinking about doing something else. I was watching my friends who were, like, healers, and they had a husband, and their husband made really good money. So it was kind of like a hobby for them. So they didn’t really have that, like “I got it”, like that hunger, where I had hunger because I was single, trying to make it.

Robert Maldonado  11:02

Sure. So what would you say is the difference between the mindset of working in a cubicle or in an office, or for someone else in general, and going at it on your own?

Debra Maldonado  11:19

Well, I think it comes down to motivation. And I think that people that are in the corporate world that are kind of — and there’s nothing wrong with the corporate world — I just want to say, I’m not poo-pooing it, but it’s not for everybody. And, and so I think there’s a lot of extrinsic motivation in the corporate world where you’re tied to the paycheck. And that is really the reward you’re getting, you’re rewarded by a nice salary, security. You don’t have to really like I mean, you have to… 

Robert Maldonado  11:49 


Debra Maldonado  11:50 

You can get fired, you know, but you don’t have that kind of on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of feeling that the company is going to go down in any minute. You know, it’s very kind of predictable. And then I think, initially, maybe you’re excited about your industry. But then after a while, you kind of lose that kind of sense of “What am I doing here? Am I really contributing?” I think that a lot of people in the corporate world feel like they’re not really contributing. And they… there was a statistic I just recently read, 82% of people are unmotivated at work. And so it’s — that’s a lot of people! And it’s because of that extrinsic motivation, the reward is the paycheck more than them actually going to work and being like, “I’m really contributing, I’m making meaning in my life, I’m doing something really… that I’m passionate about”. It’s “I’m doing it so I can get my kids to college and pay the rent, and have that nice house that I want, and go on vacations”. And then everything’s about that time off. That’s actually one thing that I realized, too, when I got laid off one of the times. One time I broke an engagement, and I got laid off, and then I lost… you know, we sold the house I lived in, so it was like that time where everything was taken away. And I remember I had some unemployment and I had some severance from the job. And I had a little time off. And I was like “Wow, it’s so nice to have this space”. And when you’re in the corporate world, you don’t realize how much limited time you have to do anything. Because most of the time, well, maybe not now, but most of the time people spend commuting, working, especially if you’re making good money, you’re not working 40 hours a week, you’re working 60 hours a week, you’re traveling or away from your family. So it’s like you’re giving up a lot for that money. And then the entrepreneur is someone who’s intrinsically motivated. They are, I mean, they want to make money, obviously, they want to be financially free, but they’re doing something that they’re really passionate about. And it doesn’t feel like work. So you get the financial reward, but also you get to create something. And I remember when I left the corporate world, or I was really laid off from the corporate world, I remember thinking to myself “I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to make it and make the same”. Even I was shooting for just half of what I was making before as a salary, just to survive. I was like “I just want to do what I love”. But I said “You know what, I just want to see what I’m made of, I want to see, you know, I’ve been putting this off for so long, I kept like putting it off for years. So I just want to make it, just go all in”. And, you know, you and I talk about the stages of change. And there’s that kind of stage between… Like those of you that are listening, that are thinking “Yeah, I’m kind of feeling that. I want to do something else”.

Robert Maldonado  14:35

Can I back up a little bit though, because we… there might… We mentioned a couple of things that people might not be familiar with. So what’s the difference between an intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

Debra Maldonado  14:49

Intrinsic means that you are motivated from internal— like through the action itself that gives you joy just by acting, just so, me coaching someone gives me so much joy. And I’m not just doing it like “Oh, I got to coach someone, ooh, I got the paycheck!” You know, it’s more like “Ooh, you get both!” But you’re intrinsically motivated. It’s something that you do because you love it and you’re no, like, forced to do it, it feels more like an internal force. The extrinsic is someone else is telling you “You show up at this job, you sit in that cubicle, you work nine to five, you get an hour break, you get two weeks vacation, or three weeks vacation — maybe in Europe you guys have a lot more, this is how it is in America — and then we’ll give you that paycheck”. So it’s, you’re working for the paycheck — most of the time. I mean there’re people that are in corporate jobs that love their job and have passion for it. But 82% of people are just working for the paycheck.

Robert Maldonado  15:46

Yeah, and we know the source of motivation is highly tied to creativity. So if you’re working for something, you won’t be as creative as if you’re working from the inside, from that intrinsic motivation that you mentioned.


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Robert Maldonado  16:43

Okay, so now, you were talking about — 

Debra Maldonado  16:48 

The stages of change.

Robert Maldonado  16:49 

The stages of change, yeah, because a lot of — 

Debra Maldonado  16:51 

Like why people don’t — 

Robert Maldonado  16:52 

Yeah, they’re sitting in their cubicle, they’re comfortable perhaps, they say, you know “This job’s given me insurance, and predictability, and enough to pay the rent and, and you know, it’s a job, like they say”. You know, the acronym is “just — 

Debra Maldonado  17:08 

— over broke. 

Robert Maldonado  17:10 

Just over broke, yeah, you always steal my line. But yeah, so how do you think about those stages? Like, if people look at their life, and where they’re at, what are the stages?

Debra Maldonado  17:24

Well, there’s five stages. I can’t remember what psychologist came up with them, do you? Remember? 

Robert Maldonado  17:30 


Debra Maldonado  17:31 

Okay. Anyway, there are five stages. It’s very popular in psychology, people use this for addictions, and anytime you want to make a change. So there’s pre-contemplation, which means you don’t even know you want to change, you’re kind of like, thinking, this is just like, you don’t even have that kind of even thought of changing, you just— so everything’s just, this is just the way it is, like there’s no possibility. The second stage is when you start to think, you have contemplation where you’re starting to think about the change, you’re not taking action yet, but you’re going, you know, “I’m— I want to do something different” or “This just isn’t making me happy anymore”. You start thinking about what’s possible, or what can you do, what change can you make, and usually in contemplation I see, as I changed jobs, and I thought “Well, maybe if I could just get another job, maybe that’ll give me that reward I wanted”. And so that’s the contemplation, then there’s this big threshold between contemplation and actually, commitment. Commitment is the third level where you’re actually committing to something. So you’re taking a training, you are opening up as a little sight. And this doesn’t mean you quit your job, it can just mean you’re committed to start this business. You start researching, you’re serious about it, you’re doing action toward it. And so I think the big problem is that most people, when they think about it, they stay there so long. And then actually the longer you stay in contemplation, the more uncomfortable you are. When you’re in pre-contemplation, you don’t realize you have a problem. It’s like someone who drinks and they don’t realize, sir, they’re an alcoholic, and they’re just like “I don’t have a problem”. But then they start thinking about “Oh, no, I am, I gotta do something about this”. Then it’s that kind of, it’s the most uncomfortable place to be. It’s a necessary stage, because we have to become aware that we want to change. But if we don’t do anything about it, it is very insecure. It feels confusing, it feels… It can be depressing after a while, you’re kind of like, you’re awake now. And then what you do is you cross over that line, that barrier to take action, which is a huge step for a lot of people, for me it was. It took forever for me to kind of start taking action. And that action doesn’t guarantee, like, “You’re going to be successful now”, you’re going to go through resistance after that. There’s times where you’re going to go back. A lot of people will start something, and then they’ll go right back to contemplation again, they’ll go back over that threshold, and then it’s even harder because you’re… you have to go over again, like you’ve already climbed the wall. And then when you go back, you actually now have to climb that wall again to get started again. And so anytime we are in action, and we start making a commitment to something, the best thing we can do is commit to it. And then the fourth stage is regression where you regress back. That’s that stage where, you know, “It didn’t happen. It’s not as easy as I thought.” 

Robert Maldonado  20:29 

Right, you get discouraged. 

Debra Maldonado  20:30 

You get discouraged, and then you go back to contemplation, you’re like, “Maybe I’m doing the wrong thing, or I have… I don’t know if I can do this”. And you’re back again, in there. And then the fifth stage is maintenance, where you’re actually moving and doing it. So I think a lot of people think “Well, I’m just gonna go and, you know, become an entrepreneur. And it should be easy, because it’s just like taking that first leap is— or even thinking about it you’re making change”, like I’m thinking about being a coach. And I can tell you, so many times when my book came out, “Let Love In”, back in 2010 — it’s 10 years already. People always said to me “You know, I wanted to write a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book.” And I said “Well, why don’t you?” This is so polite. It took me 20 years.

Robert Maldonado  21:15

Cause I’m contemplating.

Debra Maldonado  21:17

Yeah. And so we, so I think making that shift, and I want to talk about what I mean. What do you think of, from a psychology standpoint, when we— why are people so resistant to making that shift? Like culturally, I think we’re conditioned to be the worker, we, with our family, and our… you know, everyone around us is telling us, I mean, people told me, what the heck are you doing? Why are you starting your own business? You should just get a job get, go and get a job.

Robert Maldonado  21:47

Yeah. So…

Debra Maldonado  21:48

You had a good job, why would you leave it? Why would you…

Robert Maldonado  21:50

So many layers to that. Because, let’s say at the individual level, yeah, you do have that conditioning that that’s what you’ve been taught, right? From first day of school. Why do you want to go to school? So you can get a good job. And your teachers, your parents, these are huge authority figures in your life, they’re telling you, this is the way to go, right? Get a good job, so you can be secure and all that. Nothing wrong with that, like you said, it’s a way to contribute to society, and pull your weight, and survive and all that. But what you’re saying brings up something important, oh, the, the idea of a vision or like a mission, you know, then I see that a lot of people that are successful, they feel like there’s something that they want to bring into the world that’s uniquely theirs. Did you have that or what?

Debra Maldonado  22:51

Well I was— when I first got out of hypnotherapy school, and I was learning about the subconscious, like I would never heard of it before I went to therapy school, we have subconscious mind. I was like, “Oh, that’s why I make all these choices in relationships that are not in my best interest because this unconscious part of me.” And so it’s like “Oh, this is other part of my mind.” Because I used to just think I think positive. And I thought “You know what, so many people need to do this.” And so it was more like, at a passion of “I want to share this information.” So this natural “I learned something, I want to share it.” And I think for coaches, people that want to be coaches and teachers, it is that kind of “I want to learn something— I learned something and I want to share it. I’m learning information, I want to share it.” And that I think is my passion. And so for me, I needed to write a book, I needed to go on television, I needed to do interviews, I needed to do videos on YouTube. And I just started sharing because I was looking for someone like me, that was lost and didn’t know what they were, you know, how to find love. And I was saying, I want to help them. And that’s how I started. And I was doing that actually before I even met you because I knew it changed in me and I knew love was coming. But I hadn’t even met you yet. And I believed in it. I just believed that it would work. So a lot of people will say “I don’t know if I can do that. Because I haven’t found that yet myself.”

Robert Maldonado  24:19

That sense of purpose.

Debra Maldonado  24:20

Yeah. But there’s a purpose because it’s something— you know, I say, like, for our coaches that we train, is that if you struggle, if you have a personal struggle, something that you had to overcome or that you’re working on overcoming, there’s a million people who have that same problem. And as you solve that problem, you can help others. It’s like passing the torch. So you light the light in yourself and you awaken that awareness within, you have that wisdom, and then you share that wisdom. So it’s like you’re lighting up every heart that has the same challenge, and so it feels like, not like “Oh, when am I gonna get paid?” It’s more “How many more people can I help?” and “How many more lives are transformed?” And I think about my— I am on my Facebook feed, scrolling through, I have clients I’ve worked with 17 years ago, and they have kids and, you know, they’re celebrating anniversaries and met the love of their life, and to me, are having a successful business. And I think “Wow, I had a little piece of— like a piece of that in that person’s life.” And every time I reach out to them, and it’s like “Happy anniversary”, or, you know, “Congratulations on the birth of your son”, and they always say “I wouldn’t have had that without you.” And so maybe I’m not the only one, but to have that impact on someone else’s life, to me that was… So everyone has a final purpose.

Robert Maldonado  25:41

There was another piece there that has to do with the stages of life. So you mentioned, kind of, you made that big shift around age 40 or so. Because a lot of people feel that “Oh, you know, that my train has left the station?” Basically, I, you know…  

Debra Maldonado  26:04 

I’m too old. 

Robert Maldonado  26:05 

Yeah. They think, well, maybe entrepreneurs, they start when they’re kids, or when they’re teenagers or out of college. And they just go for it, and therefore they become successful. And there are some like that, right? That they’re very successful very early on. But the statistics show that the majority of people are in their 40s or around there, up until 60, maybe even later, when they start their business.

Debra Maldonado  26:31

A large percentage of people are over 40, that start their business. And you were over 40 when you went for your doctorate, right? 

Robert Maldonado  26:40 

That’s right. 

Debra Maldonado  26:41 

And you had that — you told me the story of that as well — that you had that question.

Robert Maldonado  26:43

But we’re talking about you here.

Debra Maldonado  26:46

OK! Trying to get some stuff out of you!

Robert Maldonado  26:49

What would you say to people, especially women, that feel like “It’s too late for me, I can’t do this.”

Debra Maldonado  26:57

It’s never too late. It’s never too late for anything you want in life. And I think that if you’re over 35, it’s probably the best time to create a business because then you’re in what the Jung call the individuation process where you’re starting to really be connected to who you really are. And I think becoming an entrepreneur and creating something that’s yours, uniquely yours outside of the conditioned world system, you’ll be, you know, you’re kind of individuating, you are going to go through that individuation process faster, and get more awakening in conscious in your life just from becoming an entrepreneur. And so it’s almost like: should you do it — you have to do it! You have to do it. This is the time. I remember I was— when I first started, I was sitting at a workshop with speakers. And one of the women said “The time is now, your time is now”, and I said “Really?” And I think a lot of people are in that contemplation stage. Because they think— they have those questions. “Am I too old? Can I really do it? What if I can’t pay my bills?” You know, the biggest question I get a lot — “What am I going to do for insurance?” It’s like come on, make money, so you can, you know, pay for your own insurance. Like, it’s not, like all these like perceived obstacles that we create, the ego will create in your mind of all the stories, that the reason why you can’t do it, you have the wrong education, you have to… you’re not charismatic enough to put a video up, you don’t know what you’re doing. You aren’t smart enough, you aren’t strong, and all those ideas, and you have a good job and it’s always talking back to you. I had a woman tell me once, she said “God told me I shouldn’t quit my job.” And I say “That doesn’t sound like something God would say.” I said, “I think I would say go for it.” And that’s kind of how I felt that divine nudge to be more and— but we get caught in those excuses. Right?

Robert Maldonado  29:06

Yes. So it’s never too late. This circles back to the idea of training. Obviously, you had role models. Can you talk about that? Wow. What is the— what is the role of a role model? How did it— how does it work? And what other elements come into—

Debra Maldonado  29:35

— making that decision?

Robert Maldonado  29:36

Yeah, and finding people that you can emulate and that can help you, kind of, find your way.

Debra Maldonado  29:45

Yeah, it’s— you need someone who can take your hand and cross over that threshold and be with— you know, kind of light the way for you. Someone I was telling— someone once… about… they were worried about asking for money for their coaching. And I said “Well, if I wasn’t making any money, no one would want to do it, I wouldn’t inspire anyone. So it’s your duty to be successful. And then if you are successful, you light the torch for the next woman, or man, to do what you want to do.” And so I think, for me growing up, there weren’t many people around me that were even going to college, most of my friends went to, like, Secretary school, and then they, you know, I was, you know, kind of went that route too. And a lot of the people I, you know, I grew up with in my family, they all got married, that was what they did. And when I started working in New York, I worked for MTV Networks in New York. And I started seeing women in offices. And that started me thinking “Oh, women can actually have careers!”, and that kind of like, little by little, I started seeing what was possible for me. And so one woman, I remember, she pulled me in her office, and she said “What are you doing?” And I said “What? What did I do?” She’s like “You’re so smart.” Like, what? “You need to do something with your life”. She was really, a mentor—

Robert Maldonado  31:10

Wake you up? 

Debra Maldonado  31:11 

Yeah. She said, you know, do something, go to college, you know, do something. And so, and then when I went to go to, you know, started thinking about like writing a book or looking for something, what I would do, you know, a couple of my friends actually were massage therapists. And they were like “Oh, it’s so great, because you get to talk to people about their problems.” And I said “Oh, that sounds cool.” So I went to massage school. So it’s like, someone, like, gave me an idea of what I could do. And here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t realize that I didn’t just decide “I’m going to quit my job and become a successful coach, and everything’s gonna work.” It was a process. It’s a process of trial and error. It’s discovering what fits for you. what’s right for you. I went to you know, hypnotherapy school. And then what I realized is that when I became an entrepreneur, and I went to graduate hypnotherapy school, a friend of mine was an entrepreneur. And she said, Come to the networking events with me. And I started seeing these other women that were having their own businesses, and it was just like this other world. So we want to, you want to have other people who inspire you. And I think the really important thing, which I see a lot of people do, as entrepreneurs, which is a deadly mistake, is they hang out with people that aren’t doing anything, they hang out with people, you have to hang out with someone who’s in your stage of change

Robert Maldonado  32:33

At least, or above, right? 

Debra Maldonado  32:34 

If you’re not committed, and you’re always hanging out with all the contemplators, you’re gonna be in that “Well, I want to try”. And you know I see that a lot. Like there’s a— and then they kind of help each other make excuses for not changing. So whatever group you’re in, is this group a group of people that are in contemplation? Or even pre-contemplation people that don’t even think you can do it? Or are you in a group that’s committed? And really moving toward on the other side of that, that wall?

Robert Maldonado  33:03

That’s a good point. Which comes to the idea of a mentor.

Debra Maldonado  33:08

And a mentor should be in the maintenance stage, she’s already gone through the hero’s journey. We’re going to talk about that later in the series. But that kind of idea of a Susan, who’s had a lot of failures, that can tell you “It’s going to be alright, let me, you know, I’m going to hold your hand, it’s going to be alright” versus someone who is failing and like feeling on, how can that person help you, if their concept of failure is still “I don’t know if I can do it”. You want to have the mindset. And I think the most important thing, which a lot of people don’t realize is that a mentor, and I always think of life coaches as a good mindset person, like, like our Jungian coaches, they can really, like, unconsciously transfer, that knowledge or that energy of “you can do it.” It’s almost like a hypnosis.

Robert Maldonado  34:00

Because you’re seeing somebody that’s doing it…

Debra Maldonado  34:03

And they— but in being around them, if they’re not scared, you’re seeing that part of your future through them, you’re seeing your future through them, you’re seeing your possibility through them, because you can’t hold it for yourself. So you need that projection. And so to have the right person you’re projecting onto — who do you admire? Is it someone who’s— do you admire people that are constantly in contemplation? Or do you admire someone who’s going for it and making it happen? And I’ve just noticed that too with, you know, I’ve been in big coaching groups and entrepreneur groups. And I noticed that whatever level people are at, the people that didn’t invest in themselves, and they kind of would go to the free stuff and just talk, give free coaching to each other, and they never really made it anywhere because they’re coaching with someone who’s in contemplation with them. They’re not with someone who is committed and maintaining, and that person can… the mentor, right, mentor can lift you up. Catapult you. And that’s for me, I always went for the, you know, the top mentor, because I knew they would catapult me I knew, I knew I had it in me. And they— it’s almost like they pulled out what was possible for me that was already inside of me. It was like reflective of “you can do this”.

Robert Maldonado  35:14

You can do this, yeah. And now technically, we know that there’s a difference between a mentor and a coach. But obviously, if you’re interested in becoming a coach, then your coach is a kind of mentor. 

Debra Maldonado  35:31 

Yes, yeah. 

Robert Maldonado  35:32 

But for people, let’s say, for women that are interested in starting other kinds of businesses, would you advise them having a mentor or a coach?

Debra Maldonado  35:40

I say, both. Mentorship is much different. They’re more advice givers. Where a coach can be more or less, work on what’s… Well, a Jungian coach could tell you what’s going on unconsciously and really develop yourself. I mean, there’s basic life coaches that can give you, like, tasks and accountability. But I think that that is not going to really help if you don’t know it’s the unconscious drive that’s holding you back, and that your fears… And they can really work with you on a deep level and change.

Robert Maldonado  36:11

Yeah, so a mentor would be somebody that’s doing what you want to be doing. 

Debra Maldonado  36:17 


Robert Maldonado  36:18 

Or has done it already, and is advising you on “Okay, here’s the next step, or here’s what you’re going to be doing here”, and kind of guiding you along the same path that they went through, whereas a coach, they can—

Debra Maldonado  36:33

They don’t necessarily have that business or that expertise. 

Robert Maldonado  36:35

Right, for example, you work with a very successful women who are doing other kinds of business.

Debra Maldonado  36:41

Yeah. Multi-million dollar businesses. Yeah, but I don’t have that kind of business. 

Robert Maldonado  36:44

Yeah, you can still coach them. Yeah, even though you haven’t done that particular business, you can you could still coach them. Why? Why? Why is that? How does that work?

Debra Maldonado  36:54

Well, they have their business mentors that help them with the structure of their business, and you know, these decisions they have to make, business partners and all that. But they need someone help them with the personal aspect of being a CEO. The personal aspect of “why is my team acting a certain way?” Or “why is— why am I not reaching that goal that I want to reach? What’s stopping me from, you know, tripling my business now.” And it’s an individual. Because a business an entrepreneur isn’t just a person that’s a business person, it’s a person inside, there’s actually a shell, and there’s a psyche inside there. And so your business growth will always— your personal growth always precedes business growth. And so you can create a business, make a lot of money, but if you don’t grow to that stage, you’re going to sabotage it. And so we’re going to talk about that too, in this series, but it’s that I know, for us, our graduates, I have a lot of clients that are graduates of our coach training program, and I’m acting as mentor and coach, because I have done what they did. I started at the beginning, I can give them the advice for marketing and positioning and all those things and how to do a consult and all those things. Plus, I can help them with the internal, so they get two for the price of one. But not necessarily. I work with other women that are coaches that are just high performers, that want to be the best they can be, they want to show up, they don’t want to be stressed out. They want to be empowered in their decisions.

Robert Maldonado  38:29

How important is this? I mean, because I know a lot of us who are entrepreneurs, we do have that kind of rebellious streak. We say, I want to do it on my own 

Debra Maldonado  38:41 


Robert Maldonado  38:42 

Yeah. Well, I want to do it the way I see it. But how important is that kind of understanding, the importance of the mentor and coach in success?

Debra Maldonado  38:54

Well, I think it’s, it’s very, it’s like the most important thing. When I went to the Inc 500 women’s summit a couple years ago in New York City, and we went to dinner with a lot of those billionaire women that were on Shark Tank, and we had dinner with a shark tank guy. And it was a big, big, exciting experience to be with all these really successful people. And every one of them, they went on stage and they would say, they would ask what is the most important aspect or key to your success, and it was all these women entrepreneurs, wanting to hear what their wisdom is, and they said “My life coach”. They all had a life coach. And they didn’t say “A business coach”. They said “A life coach”. Sara Blakely had two life coaches. And she says she spent her days, she would listen to personal development. She would drive to work, she would take an hour — it was five minute drive, she would take an hour and take a long drive to— so she can listen to a tape, you know, because she had kids and all that stuff. So she got out of the house and it was like her time to fuel her mind, and she says she visualized every day what she wanted. She, you know, she listened to anyone’s story of an entrepreneur. They’re really, it’s not like snap your fingers. And there’s a lot of obstacles. But it’s, I find that that’s where you need to grow. And if you don’t have a coach to help you with the mental challenges of breaking the mold, of making your own way of doing something different, you’re to grow into the person, the CEO. That is where… that’s why it’s so important to have. And I think if you don’t have that, and what I see a lot too is a lot of people just think “Well, I have a business coach who’s going to give me business tactics”, but they don’t do any work. They do a little mindset like “think positive” and “burst through your, your your, you know, your your fear.” But that’s not really coaching, that, I mean, that is kind of a coaching. But there really is that unconscious aspect, that you can’t just behave your way out of, you know, you have to grow inside, you have to know who you are on a deep level and, in that way, I think you can have everything you want. You won’t be sabotaging your success, the success you have. And you’ll be more happy with your success. Because you’re knowing that you’re really aligned with your purpose, you’re going to make business decisions align with your true self versus the ego going “Whoo, this is going to be a quick buck”, or “This is going to lead me to security”, right? I’m gonna pick this niche, because that’s what’s going to make a lot of money.

Robert Maldonado  41:24

We’re gonna get to the unconscious part down this series. But there’s one point that I want to really ask you about before we end this one. It’s this idea of being all in. 

Debra Maldonado  41:42 

Oh, yeah. 

Robert Maldonado  41:43 

It’s about commitment, obviously. But how did you experience it? And what was the kind of, really, the turning point for you where you said “I’m all in into this business”?

Debra Maldonado  41:54

Well, when I got laid off this last time, I knew that— I actually I had a dream the night before, because we’re gonna talk about dreams in our dream interpretation challenge. But I had a dream the night before, saying I was going to be laid off, and me standing up and being like, I was angry. But I think it was my passion finally, like, I get to speak up and express myself. And so I knew I was going to hypnotherapy school. I had the— the brochure came the day before. And I said “Oh, this is kind of weird timing.” And so I was certain I was going to do it. When I went to the school, the very first day, the teacher was just saying all the things that were possible. And I said “Oh, I’m in the right place”, like I knew it. And there was no turning back at that point, when you just kind of feel like— it’s like falling in love. You find that right person and you’re just like “Ooh, this is right!” And that’s how I felt with kind of— I wanted to work with the mind, I wanted to learn about psychology, I wanted to learn about the subconscious. And it was so exciting. And, and then when I was so— I was like a zealot. I was so “Oh my god, this is the best thing ever!” People were tired of hearing me talk about it. But it was amazing. And I was so passionate about it. And I think you just have to be so excited about it, for you to get over all those fears. And for me, that was— I was like— there’s nothing I like. To be in a corporate job just seems so boring compared to this, what I was doing before to this is so exciting. And in that I did see successful people. I did see people, even in my town, they were successful hypnotherapist. I’m like “Well, if they can have their own business, so can I.” And then I ended up being probably one of the top people in Denver. My nickname was Hypno Deb. And I just was so excited about it. And I think all in is— I was scheduling, I was setting up my website and setting up for my unlicensed psychotherapist registration in Denver while I was still at school. I was ready to start. And even when I had roadblocks, and even if— when those times in the beginning where I was like “Can I really do this?”, I was like “I have to make this work.” It was like — I have to do it. There’s no other way. And I think you just have to be like— some people say “burning the ships.” And I don’t recommend it for everyone, to go cold turkey and go in because it is intense. But I do think that if you are really passionate about something, you can change, if your mind is so passionate, and so this is what I want, the outside world will mold to your plan. It’s like, you have to trust that even if there’s resistance, you have that vision, the vision will override the external obstacles or what was placed before. It was— it’s almost like a force and it just carved the way for me and then all of a sudden people started showing up. My first coach showed up. People showed up to help me. It was just amazing. It was just like people you didn’t realize that are there for you actually appear. And so it’s just— that’s all in, it’s like you— even when things are hard, you know, and you hold that passion that you can do it.

Robert Maldonado  45:06

So something practical for people would be to understand what stage of decision making they’re in. 

Debra Maldonado  45:15 

Yeah, where they are. 

Robert Maldonado  45:16 

And which stage of change.

Debra Maldonado  45:17

And then what’s stopping them. And then I think examining the stories of what, what your ego is telling you, because we have the ego on the conscious level that’s— Its job is to keep you in the same status quo. And then also pay attention to this. And I always think, people think the divine comes into voice, I think it— I believe, and my experience has been, it’s more of an essence, it’s more of an energy that you feel—

Robert Maldonado  45:44 

Like a knowing? 

Debra Maldonado  45:45 

— knowing, it doesn’t have words, it’s kind of this like “Yeah, this is what I should be doing, I should be doing something different.” So you’re going to have that divine nudge pushing you forward, and then the ego pushing you back. And it’s like, how do you deal with that battle, and then you break through the battle by taking action, just try something, do something, research something, you know, just don’t be afraid of making a mess. Just— there’s no— you could always start over. Like, I always thought I could always go back and get a boring corporate job if I wanted to. Let me just go crazy. Let’s see what I can do. And that’s the boldness, I think, that we need to do. I know that Curtis says, if you have— boldness has power in it, you just have to begin. So it’s that boldness that has energy, and that’s what changes our life when we’re bold. And boldness is courage. And so imagine, even if you fail, what creates in you is this other self that’s so courageous, that gets to have lived. And if you really believe and keep going, you’ll get— you won’t fail. There’s no failure, really, it’s—

Robert Maldonado  46:59

Cool. And some of the other topics we’re going to be covering?

Debra Maldonado  47:03

We’re going to talk about more of what makes a success. How to find your purpose is next week, like what is your purpose, we’re going to talk about the rise of women entrepreneurship, how women are actually a force in the world of entrepreneurship. And we’re going to talk about the hero’s journey

Robert Maldonado  47:21 

Which is more the psychology. 

Debra Maldonado  48:23 

Yeah, the psychology of an entrepreneur, like what happens inside of you to transform. So yeah, over the next couple weeks, every Saturday, keep here. And then if you haven’t yet, please register for our dream interpretation challenge we’re doing on October 26. Do you want to say anything about that or?

Robert Maldonado  47:40

Well, just the dreams. It’s such a lost art. And we want to keep it alive. And we want to give people a taste of what it is really about, you know. Because a lot of people think, well, it’s just these weird things that come in the night. But hopefully we’ll give you a better way of understanding dreams through the challenge.

Debra Maldonado  48:05


Debra Maldonado 48:07

So thank you, everyone, for joining us. And we’ll see you next week. 

Robert Maldonado  48:13 

Yeah, see you next time. 

Debra Maldonado  48:15 

Take care. 

OUTRO 48:17

Thank you for joining us. And don’t forget to subscribe to Creative Mind Soul Sessions. And join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with creative mind soul session. See you next time.

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