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  • Hey, everyone.

  • It's me, Marie, and I'm recording this in LA.

  • I'm here with Josh and Kuma and we're hunkering down and staying inside due to the coronavirus

  • pandemic.

  • Now, I hope you and your family are well.

  • I did want to set some context with this interview, though, because when we recorded and sat down

  • with the incredible Gretchen Rubin, coronavirus wasn't a thing yet, so you won't hear any

  • mention of the current state of affairs in this conversation.

  • And, to be honest, my team and I went back and forth on whether or not we should even

  • release this.

  • But then I thought to myself: I think we all need a break from the news.

  • This conversation is incredible and I really hope it will inspire you.

  • Now, as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, I want you to know that we created something

  • incredible for you.

  • It's actually a coronavirus support guide and it's over at marieforleo.com/blog.

  • Or you can just google my name, Marie Forleo, and coronavirus support, and you'll find it.

  • I'm also going live a lot more on Instagram.

  • I'm @marieforleo and I want to be a source of support and love and inspiration for you

  • during this time.

  • So come follow me over there.

  • Finally, take good care of yourself.

  • I'll be here for you week after week of new content and connections and don't hesitate

  • to reach out if there's anything you'd want me to know.

  • With that, enjoy the episode and I'll see you soon.

  • Hey, it's Marie Forleo and welcome to another episode of MarieTV and the Marie Forleo Podcast.

  • Now, if you're interested in a happier life, and let's be honest, who isn't?

  • My guest today has made it her mission to help us all find the way.

  • Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness

  • Project, Outer Order Inner Calm, The Four Tendencies, and Better Than Before, among

  • others.

  • Her books have sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more

  • than 30 languages.

  • On her award winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses happiness and

  • good habits with her sister Elizabeth Craft.

  • She's been interviewed by Oprah, walked arm and arm with the Dalai Lama, and been an answer

  • on Jeopardy.

  • She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

  • Gretchen, thank you so much for being here.

  • I'm so happy to be talking to you again.

  • Yeah.

  • This is a long time coming.

  • Yeah.

  • So, I want to go back in time.

  • So, you started your career in law and were actually clerking for Supreme Court Justice

  • Sandra Day O'Connor when you decided you wanted to be a writer.

  • And I feel like there's so many people in our audience right now, every different age,

  • from all parts of the world, who find themselves in a situation like that.

  • Meaning they want to make a big career change.

  • So, can you take us back there and talk to us about just what that process was like?

  • The thinking, the actions, all of it.

  • Well I went to law school for all the wrong reasons.

  • I was like, "I'm good at research and writing.

  • It'll keep my options open.

  • It's great preparation.

  • I can always change my mind later."

  • So, I went to law school, not because I had a passionate desire to be a lawyer, but just

  • because it felt like a logical thing to do since I didn't know what to do with myself.

  • And I was very fortunate.

  • I had a great run in law.

  • I was editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal, which is the Yale version of the law review.

  • And I was clerking for Sandra Day O'Connor, which is this amazing opportunity.

  • And one of the things about me that's still true and was true then is that I will become

  • really preoccupied with a subject.

  • I'll get intensely interested in something and just want to spend all my time thinking

  • about it.

  • So, I just went through this with color.

  • I went through it with placebo, like I get very interested in something.

  • And at this time I was out having a walk one day and I was on the Capitol Hill and I looked

  • up at the Capitol dome against the sky and I just asked myself this rhetorical question,

  • "What am I interested in that everybody in the world is interested in?"

  • And I thought, "Well, power, money, fame, sex."

  • And it was like, "Power, money, fame, sex."

  • And I became intensely preoccupied with researching the ideas of power, money, fame, sex.

  • Which to me seemed very linked.

  • They still do.

  • And I was just doing research and I was staying late at work and doing research and if you're

  • a Supreme Court Justice you can actually check out books from the library of Congress.

  • So, I would check out books for Justice O'Connor.

  • My favorite book was Deep in The Heart of Texas, the true story of three Dallas Cowboy

  • cheerleaders who are sisters.

  • It's an amazing book about fame.

  • And I just got more and more interested in it and I was writing and taking notes as I

  • was going, as I was thinking through the subjects.

  • And finally it dawned on me, this is the kind of thing somebody would do if they were going

  • to write a book.

  • And I had never thought about being a writer myself because I always thought either you

  • wrote fiction or plays or poetry or you were a journalist or you wrote academic books.

  • I didn't really think about creative nonfiction, which is what we would call it now.

  • But it occurred to me, "Well, this could be a book."

  • And then I thought, "Well, maybe I could write that book."

  • And then I went to the bookstore and got something called How to Write and Sell Your Nonfiction

  • Book Proposal.

  • And I just followed the directions and skip ahead, I got an agent and got a book deal

  • and that's how I did it.

  • So for me it wasn't as much leaving something as going towards something.

  • Just this desire to write this book.

  • And it wasn't even like, "I want to be a writer."

  • It was like, "I want to write this book."

  • Interesting.

  • Yeah.

  • You know in Star Wars where the Millennium Falcon is getting pulled in by the tractor

  • beam and they're like, "We have to go.

  • We can't resist or it's going to pull us apart."

  • Yeah.

  • That's how I felt.

  • At a certain point I was like, "I would rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer.

  • I have to give this a shot.

  • I have to try and either fail or succeed.

  • But if I get another law job, I'm afraid I won't try.

  • I won't do it."

  • And so...

  • Did you have any inner conflict around leaving law or no?

  • The pull to write this book was so strong that you were clear for yourself.

  • I was very clear for myself.

  • But again, I was married, so my husband was working.

  • It was a pretty

  • And I did feel like if I was ever going to do it, this was the time because it was the

  • lowest risk time because we were moving from Washington D.C. to New York, I didn't have

  • a job.

  • And so it was a great open transition.

  • And I remember thinking to myself, "What more am I waiting for?"

  • What sign from the universe am I waiting for it?

  • If there's ever a time, the university is being like, "Right now."

  • And I thought if I wait, this moment could pass.

  • And so at that point I really was like, "This is the time."

  • But there was a day where, because my husband left law at the same time, he went to into

  • finance, and we had just been married and we got the letter from the New York Bar Association

  • asking us to pay our bar fees cause we'd both been admitted to the New York Bar.

  • It's expensive.

  • It's a lot of money.

  • And I remember saying to him, "Oh, are we going to pay our bar fees?"

  • And he's like, "Why would we pay our bar fees?

  • No."

  • And I'm like, "Okay, we're doing this."

  • Turns out you can go back into the bar if you just pay and like do some courses, but

  • at the time I felt like it was really...

  • That was it.

  • That was it.

  • And I was like, "Okay, this is happening.

  • I'm going to do this."

  • Wow.

  • So I didn't feel...

  • You didn't feel conflict.

  • No.

  • You just went for it.

  • I didn't really.

  • What was the hardest part for you about that transition?

  • Because obviously as an attorney, you are quite experienced at research and writing.

  • So, was putting the proposal together and getting that out into the world, did you find

  • that difficult?

  • Or because you were trained in some of those aspects, you were like, "Okay, this is just

  • another way to express myself."

  • That part wasn't as hard.

  • The parts where I had trouble with it was where there were no directions.

  • If I could look up a book and it's like, "This is what a proposal looks like."

  • I'm like, "Okay, I can do that."

  • But a lot of it is what are the unspoken assumptions of this career?

  • And how do people behave?

  • And there are all these agencies, how do I understand them?

  • Like for me it was like I knew nothing and I had so many great credentials as a lawyer.

  • I had many feathers in my cap and this, I didn't have a clip, I didn't have a short

  • story, I'd never published anything, I had nothing.

  • So, so part of it was just being nobody in a big world that I didn't understand.

  • I liked it when it was this is what, like, "Write a sample chapter."

  • I'm like, "I can write it.

  • I'll take my shot."

  • That felt clearer.

  • It was more of the...

  • The unknown.

  • The unknown, and there's things that people can't even explain to you.

  • You just have to get in there.

  • I feel like even now I'm still always trying to figure it out.

  • What are the assumptions?

  • What do we know?

  • What works?

  • Well, I know even the first time you and I spoke, which was at...

  • I think it was at a Penguin Random House event, right?

  • Yeah.

  • For BEA, the big book expo.

  • That's right.

  • And one of the things that struck me most about you, because I've heard about your work,

  • I've admired your work, I've known about you for years.

  • And I was like, "Oh, we're finally getting a chance to hang out and have a discussion."

  • I was like, "How have we never met before?

  • It seems strange."

  • I know.

  • Sad, it was.

  • But one of the things that struck me about you is how many great questions you asked.

  • So, I feel like that's just such an amazing trait that's about you.

  • Your curiosity and constantly asking great questions.

  • So, the reason I want to go into this is because one of the things that I've learned from writing

  • my book and talking about it on the show for a couple of years was how many people in our

  • audience also want to write books, are writing books, have written books.

  • So, I always think it's a good process.

  • And there was a stat quote in the New York Times that up to 80% of people believe they've

  • got a book in them.

  • Oh, interesting.

  • Yes.

  • Yes.

  • So, that's where I wanted to go there.

  • So, the first big blockbuster book, if I'm not mistaken, was Happiness Project.

  • Yes, that was the one.

  • But like many people, that was my fourth book.

  • So, I had worked very hard for 10 years to become an overnight sensation.

  • People were like, "It's your first book."

  • I'm like, "No.

  • That was my fourth book."

  • It was your fourth book.

  • My fourth book.

  • But it was the one that popped in the industry.

  • It did, yeah.

  • And I had done, at that time, I had had a blog to create an audience for the book before

  • it came out.

  • That was unusual at the time to do something like that.

  • But yeah, that was the book.

  • For a lot of people that's where they became aware of my work.

  • And for the Happiness Project, this is a personal question of mine, did you have that idea and

  • then pitch that book and sell it or did you have the idea, do your actual year experiment,

  • and then write the book about it?

  • When I got the idea I was just going to do it for myself.

  • Like I said, I get really interested in things.

  • So, I'm constantly going off in these weird directions.

  • Oh, I'm so interested in perfume and I'll just march off and spend all this time researching

  • something.

  • So, at first it was like, "I should have a happiness project.

  • Could I make myself happier?

  • What would you do to make yourself happier?"

  • I was just doing all this research.

  • I was finishing up my book, my biography of JFK, at the time.

  • So, it started out as a research project that was just for me and me thinking about, "Well,

  • what would I do, what can move the needle, what would I experiment with?"

  • And then it just got bigger and bigger and got more and more interesting, and I was like,

  • "Wow, this is taking over my life."

  • And then finally I was like, "Well maybe this should be my next book.

  • This should be my next book project."

  • But it was interesting, it was unusual for nonfiction because usually, and maybe people

  • don't know, usually with nonfiction, you write a proposal and you sell it off the proposal

  • and maybe a sample chapter.

  • Whereas with fiction usually you've written most of it or all of it.

  • Especially if you're just starting out.

  • And for this book I would talk to people about it and they didn't get it.

  • They would make these suggestions to me and I'm like...

  • Somebody was like, "Oh, you really like Benjamin Franklin.

  • Why don't you do a thing where you apply all of Benjamin Franklin's rules?"

  • And I'm like, "See that's not as good an idea as my idea."

  • And so I remember saying to my agent, "People are not getting it.

  • I think I need to really write a lot of it and actually have it figured out and