The Power of Yes: An Interview with Marli Williams

Ute Host 00:01

Hello and welcome back to a very special anniversary episode of the Thru the Grapewine podcast. I am your host, Ute Mitchell, and I’m actually still kind of blown away that it’s been almost exactly a year that I published my very first episode. I remember sitting there, you know, going, can you do this, can you do this? And then I submitted it and I was so scared that nobody would listen. And then people started listening and here we are a year later and we’re going strong and it’s been a lot of fun. So, yay, thank you for being here and happy anniversary to me. We have a super special guest today that I’m extra stoked about, because this person is in a large part responsible for the fact that I did pull the trigger, basically, and my guest today is Marli Williams, one of the coolest people that I know, and she’s an inspirational leader and a coach and I am so thrilled to have you here today. Welcome, Marli.

Marli Guest 01:09

Thank you so much for having me. I’m super stoked to be here.

Ute Host 01:13

So you are, per your website, an inspirational leader and coach for transformational leaders, and I know firsthand, because I’ve experienced you twice now, that you know how to get a crowd really excited and dancing. But tell me about Marli before she became who she is now. Who is Marli Williams?

Marli Guest 01:38

Yeah, great question. People always ask me like how did you decide to become a speaker? What was the journey, what was the path? And when I was 19 years old, I went on a 50 day outward bound course. And for those of you who don’t know what outward bound is, essentially I went into the middle of the woods with a group of people I didn’t know to find myself, to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And I was, you know, the summer after my freshman year of college, I just had no idea who I was and what I wanted to do. And on that course we all had. We went on a three day solo. So I was in the middle of the woods by myself for three days and I have my journal still to this day and in that journal it said my mission on this course and in my life is to help people realize their full potential. And I wrote that down in my journal and I don’t think I really knew what that it’s like. I didn’t write I want to be a motivational speaker and I want to be a coach. It was just like my mission is to help people realize their full potential and I really feel like I have been on that journey ever since I became a wilderness guide.


When I went on that outbound course, my instructors were like the coolest people that I’d ever met and I was like this is what I want to do for a living. I want to take people in the woods and make them cry, which is now what I do for a living. I am a professional camp counselor and I actually was so enamored by it that I majored in outdoor education. I got a degree in essentially how to guide people to their own like personal growth journey through the outdoors and, like I said, it was a wilderness guide. And then I got my master’s in education and worked at a university for five years before becoming a full time coach, speaker and entrepreneur. And I feel like. Steve Jobs has a quote that I actually love. He says you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backwards.


And so somehow you have to trust that the dots will connect. And so when I look back and it’s like, well, what are the things that brought me here? It’s like every decision that I’ve made along the path has got me to this point, like going an outward bound and being a wilderness guide and getting my master’s in education and learning along the way, and like the through line is just that thing that I wrote in my journal, which is all about helping people realize their full potential, whether that speaking, coaching, running retreats it’s like that is the ultimate mission. And in so many ways, like my work doesn’t feel separate from who I am. Like people are like well, how are you different? Like I know that you’re this on stage, but what’s Marley? Like you know, outside of this or at home?


And I think a lot of people think that I spend a lot of time with a lot of people all the time, but I spend a lot of time just hanging out with my dogs, going for hikes, paddleboarding, camping, hiking, doing things that I love with people that I love, and ideally you know. So that’s who I am and I think that it’s great to find work that really almost like feels like it honors me as a person. It’s like this is what I’m here to do, like this is what I’m meant to do, and it’s always evolving too. It’s always changing, it’s always evolving and yeah, that’s a little bit of what me and my story.

Ute Host 05:28

That is so amazing, honestly. I mean, like I said, when I experienced your last year, it was just this, and I think it kind of happened at the perfect time of the day too, because everybody was kind of starting to feel a little like, oh my gosh, I’ve been listening all day and then comes, marley, and we’re dancing and you know it was like right after lunch yeah.


So my question though yeah, so in my little corner of the wine industry, right, imposter syndrome is just a very, very real thing. Every so often I ask myself why on earth would anyone want to listen to me? Why would they want to know what I have to say? Why would anybody want to learn from me, even though I know that I have knowledge and I know what I’m talking about, but still there’s always that like the tread of doubt in my mind. Is that something that you’ve ever experienced yourself and, if so, how do you move past that?

Marli Guest 06:37

Just every day, all the time. I always say if you’re up to something big in the world, doubt will always be a path, doubt will always be a part of your path. And I think that sometimes we think that confidence means not having any doubt or any fear. Doing something brave means we’re scared it wouldn’t be brave otherwise, and so I think that I love this quote. Or this line is like doubt is a doorway, meaning like ooh, I’m feeling like a little nervous, which can lead, you know, which is also similar to excitement, but it means like I’m up to something that matters to me, I’m doing something that matters. And that nervousness I always say like I’m nervous because I care. I care about wanting this to be a good talk or podcast or article or whatever it is that you’re putting out there into the world and being visible is vulnerable. So we put something out there and we have all these thoughts like who’s gonna listen? Or who the hell am I? And I always say like who the hell are you not to?


If you have a dream, a vision, a goal, there is a reason you have that dream, vision or goal. Not everyone has that and it means you also have the tools and the resources you need to make that dream or goal a reality. And so I think it’s realizing that we all feel that way. Like anyone, you look up to experiences, doubt or imposter syndrome. It’s just that they’ve made a decision for that to not run the show. It doesn’t get to lead. It’s like hey, elizabeth Gilbert wrote a book called Big Magic. I was just gonna mention that. It’s like a road trip where it’s like fear, I know you’re gonna come along.


You’re a part of the family, but you’re in the backseat, you don’t drive the car, you don’t get to touch the roadmaps and it was like dude you don’t even get to change the radio. Like I’m in the driver’s seat of my life and when I’m doing something that is big, that matters, fear will always be there, and so I think it’s learning to be with it, love it, learn from it, embrace it, because really it’s just trying to protect you and you can say, hey, thank you for trying to protect me, but like I got me and I’m gonna do this anyway, because I would rather, at the end of my life, say like I went for it, I showed up, I played full out, I did the thing and I was scared as hell, but I did it anyway. Not, I was scared and I listened to the fear and I listened to the doubt and I, and then I didn’t do anything because I was just too scared. It’s like, no, I was scared and I did it.


This is kind of funny. So one I was going to as soon as you started talking about this, I was going to bring up that book, big Magic, because I read it and I thought that was a really really good part of the book and it’s really telling to me that I I mean, all of this is really ringing very true to me right now because just a little bit ago I was about to throw in the towel and and I can’t really put my or couldn’t put my finger on why that exactly was there was definitely that doubt. I wrote the word down while you were talking. There was this doubt, there was probably a little bit of fear, not just the failure, but the fear of succeeding and what that would mean for me as a professional. When now people are looking at me, going, we expect you to be good, and all of a sudden I’m like, oh wow, do I even want to do that? And so.


And then there were you know some life things happening my daughter announcing that she’s moving to Germany with the family and you know, then I’m going into menopause, you know things like that and I’m like, okay, I just need to, I need to just take a break. And as I was coming back from it, I thought, well, maybe I need to just slow it down and just make it a hobby, when clearly this podcast has become so much more than a hobby. It’s so much more. And then again you came, came back into my life and I think I want to rewind that just a little bit, because last year you did this talk, it was at the Women in Wine Oregon annual conference, and you put these little cards under your chair, under everybody’s chairs, and for those of you guys who are watching, this is what they look like, and you call them stoked cards. And before I tell my story about the stoked cards and how I decided to keep at this, after all, why don’t you tell me about the stoked cards?

Marli Guest 11:54

Yeah, yeah, I love it. So I created this card deck called Stoke Quotes and it’s a deck of a hundred different quotes that I sat down one day with a Sharpie and a stack of post-it notes, and I just wrote down all of the things that I tell myself when I’m stuck, having a hard day, feel like giving up things that I told myself, things that I told my clients, things that I’ve said in my talks, and it’s just like the idea of the metaphor of stoking a fire. It’s like we can’t light a fire once, expecting it to burn forever. And we can go to an event and get stoked and get inspired, but what’s gonna keep you stoked? And I wanted to create something that was just this really easy takeaway and tangible thing that people could have as a reminder of the day and as a commitment to themself. And on the back we talked about like what’s your one degree shift? And I say, if we leave here and nothing changes, we’ve missed the whole point. So what are you going to do? What action are you gonna take to integrate, to implement something that you heard today, learned today, saw today and it’s been so powerful because I’ll speak at these events all over the country and people will send me pictures of their quotes or I’ll see them years later and I still have that quote on my Bolton board. That got me through this really hard time.


Or I started the freaking podcast because I wrote it down that day and I did the thing.


And that is like when an event can go beyond, like the ripple effect that that has if there’s 300 people in the audience, like, yeah, we can leave here and feel stoked for a few hours or a couple of days, right.


But, like you know, I even had someone come up to me and her one degree shift was like reading to her son at night or doing it was like doing a check in it before they went to bed and she’s like, and I’m still doing that, right, so it’s like, it’s so, like the ripple effect of that is so neat. And one of my favorite things I’ll share one more thing with to do with the stoke quotes is I’ll hang them up on a string, like at a farmer’s market in a park, and I have this sign that says take what you need, and so people walk by it and they see all of these messages and they’re like I can take one and I’m like, yeah, you can, and it’s a fun like human experiment, just like a random acts of kindness, so they’re super fun and that’s the. That’s the story behind the stoke quotes.

Ute Host 14:41

Yeah Well, it definitely inspired me. Obviously I still have my card. The other one is still in my backpack, but this is the one that I had under my chair last year and it says choose to thrive. And my promise that I made to myself and I turned to my neighbor and talked to her about it was that I will publish my podcast, even if it is not perfect. And because that perfectionism is, you know, it kind of slows you down. It really slows you down. Oh, it’s not perfect, so I’m not going to do it. Oh, I’m not going to sound like the uber professional who has done this for 10 years, so clearly it must be bad, so I’m not going to do it you know, rather than to just not compare myself to that person and just compare myself to me.


And so that’s, you know, and that’s why I kept waiting and waiting. And so I did this and then again fast forward to this year, and I was kind of in a point where I wasn’t sure, you know, are you going to continue on? Are you are you going to step back from it? Are you going to turn it into a hobby? Are you going to monetize it? You know all of those things.


And then the conference came around this year and I found my little paper or card under my chair, and what was really interesting was I actually switched chairs, because there was, there was a chair open that was closer to a person that I was having a conversation with, and so I said, well, I’m going to go on to that chair.


And then we pulled out these cards and my card read your heart knows the way, or your heart already knows the way, trust that. And so I’m sitting there and I have like tears filling my eyes and I’m going oh, my God, how perfect is that, you know? And it was just this moment of just realization and recognition and understanding and and deciding, right then and there, and I wrote onto the back of my card I am going to continue and then I am going to monetize this and I am going to take it to the next level, even if it’s, even if it’s not perfect. Yeah, yeah, and so you did tell me just a moment ago people have been getting in touch with you, sometimes years later. Yeah, what’s like your favorite success story that somebody has shared with you after one of your talks where they got a stoke card.

Marli Guest 17:30

Oh, my goodness, they’re all my favorite, I think, like it just blows my mind. I mean, I went, I went to an event recently and I met someone who I had met, like right when I made these cards, like it was, this was probably six or seven years ago and maybe even longer than that and she still remembered the card that I gave her and I don’t remember what she did with it, but like that it can like have that lasting of an impact, like that. It was like seven or eight years ago and someone still has this card and they’re on their wall or their bulletin board or their dashboard or their bookmark and they’re like I did the thing, whatever the thing was that I said I was going to do, and the. I just love the idea of the ripple effect. It’s hard to choose just one.


Yeah, one story my videographer. She came to an event one year and she had a quote and I don’t remember the one that it was, but she wanted to do like full time videography and she’s doing it now when she wasn’t before, and so it’s just like really neat. The things like people quitting their jobs or moving across the country or in the small, like one day I talked about the one, the power of the one degree. Shift right and I give people permission, like you, don’t have to change everything, for everything to change.


Yeah you just have to change something. Yeah, because if nothing changes, then nothing changes, right, right, but like the reading I mean checking in with your kid at the end of the day, every day for a year like the ripple effect, the power of that, like that’s powerful, right? So it’s not even a big grandiose things, it’s these like little micro adjustments and little one degree shifts that I just love to. It’s like, at any time I’m speaking, I feel like I’m planting you know however many people are in the audience 200, 300, 500 seeds of a possibility and how many people choose to, like you know, nurture that, water that and turn that into something that’s and and then the effect that that will have to the people around them to. So it just kind of it’s like the total ripple effect and that for me.

Marli Guest 19:52

As a speaker, I talk about the difference between a transactional presentation and a transformational one, and a transactional one is cool I learned some things, I wrote some things down Cool. A transformational one is like I am going to do something different or be different or feel different, like something has transformed, something has shifted in me. So I’m like literally going to leave this experience, this retreat, this event, and like be a different person when I go back into my life. Do something different, take a new action, like show up in my relationship or as a parent or in my work a different way, and that is like always my mission. It’s like how do people leave here and not just with a notebook full of notes, but with like something that they can do that will shift something in their life? Yeah, that’s always my intention.

Ute Host 20:54

I love that. It’s beautiful. It worked for me.

Marli Guest 20:58

And you took action and you made it happen. That’s what I’m talking about.

Ute Host 21:02

Yes, yes, you still have to be the one taking action. So, yes, 100%. So you also, and you have said it earlier, as you were introducing yourself, you refer to yourself as professional camp counselor. Tell me about Camp yes, please.

Marli Guest 21:22

Yeah. So Camp yes is a transformational adult summer camp for women leaders, entrepreneurs and change makers. So oftentimes I find that women tend to say yes to everyone and everything but themselves, yes to their kids, yes to their partners, yes to their work. But like, what does it actually look like to say yes to myself and my big, crazy dreams? What is your like?


I talk about this idea of discover your biggest yes through the power of play. And one of my favorite parts of camp is there’s no phones, no technology, no drugs, no alcohol, just like full on detox from all of the like external noise and input and dings and rings and buzzes that we’re constantly inundated with. And it’s like, who am I without that? Yeah, and what do I really want in my life? And so Camp yes is it’s just this like really sweet dance of play, like tapping into play and joy and fun and, like you know, there’s like a 350 foot slip and slide and arts and crafts and a lip sync battle and an untalented show and play shops and all these different things. And it’s also has this like this really deep question of what does it actually mean to say yes to myself? What gets in the way?


People pleasing perfectionism. You know what are the fears, the doubts, what if I try and I fail? What if it doesn’t work out? What if things go sideways right, like, and then to create, I would say, like the clarity in what you want, the courage to go after it, the confidence in yourself to trust that, no matter what, you’re gonna be okay, and the community to lift you up and support and encourage you. And so I just feel like it’s just a beautiful experience to help women really connect, reconnect to themselves, connect with their purpose and connect with a really amazing community of other women that are on that journey as well.

Ute Host 23:47

Right, yeah, and you have a camp coming up here in early September.

Marli Guest 23:52

We have a camp coming up Labor Day weekend. Yep, just outside of Portland We’ve got a little town called Vernonia. I rent an entire summer camp, and so we have women coming from all over the country and we have about 10 spots left right now for folks that are wanting to sign up and say yes, I’ll create a promo code for you all to join us, and we’ll put the link in wherever the show notes are Sounds good, yeah.

Ute Host 24:29

Excellent, I so wanna go. I honestly, I was like well, and this is the last one, is that correct?

Marli Guest 24:38

This is the last summer camp, like the big, the big kahuna, and as much as I love it, it’s also a lot of work and a big production. So I’m gonna keep doing other events and speaking and retreats and things like that, but the big one.

Ute Host 24:57

Yeah, this is it. Now. My friends, better check out the show notes. That’s where you’re gonna get the information and that’s how you get in, and I wish that it was me getting in. This is something that I had really hoped to be doing, and it just so happens that my birthday is the week after and we’re planning a trip to San Diego to see my daughter, and I can’t do two trips. I have a job.

Marli Guest 25:29

So I will I’ve earned jobs. They get in the way sometimes.

Ute Host 25:33

I will keep up with you, though, or keep checking in on what you’re doing, and I will be coming to some of your you can come to Baja in January. Oh well, darn, that’s what I’m talking about Baja is the jam. Oh my gosh, that would be so amazing.

Marli Guest 25:48

Yeah, all right, all right. So, people are into warm weather, whales, oceans, sunshine in January. Check out Camp yes Baja.

Ute Host 26:02

We are into that in January up here in Portland. How do we get out of here?

Marli Guest 26:06

Yeah, we gotta get the vitamin D and some sunshine for sure.

Ute Host 26:11

Oh my gosh yes, yeah all right.


Well, so moving on to our next question, and this is obviously it’s a wine podcast. Generally, it is talking to women in the wine industry and what they encounter as they are moving through the ranks of this industry and trying to move up and kind of hitting a glass ceiling, so to speak, even in this industry. So now you’re a woman and, on top of it, you’re gay. Do you feel that this is something that made it more complicated or harder to get where you are, yes or no? And if so, what kind of roadblocks do you feel that you encountered? Or was it just one of those things where you’re like no, it was good, smooth sailing.

Marli Guest 26:55

I mean, I think that it’s interesting that in the speaking industry specifically, it’s fairly male dominated, but in a lot of ways, it’s a benefit that I’m different, that I am a woman and that I am gay, that I look different than other speakers, because I think that people are looking for a diversity of experience and perspective when it comes to the type of speakers that they’re looking for, sure, and so they’re not wanting to have a lineup of just a bunch of like. A lot of the speaking circuit is like old white dudes, like still to this day, and a lot of the wine industry, I know, is still a lot of old white dudes that you know. And so it’s like I think about it is, instead of seeing it as a liability, as an asset of there is a lot of that’s being, you know, with the women in wine, but think, how can you feel it to be seen and celebrated and supported and finding communities like the women in wine you know the mentorship program that they have going on, and other people too, as mentors to look up to. And again, I think, instead of seeing it as a liability, seeing it as an asset of like, why does my unique perspective as a woman in this industry matter, and I think it does require.


I think, in general, I mean the fact that there’s so many men that are speakers, it’s like they’re like I have something valuable to say, right. And for women, it’s like I have something valuable to say, I have something valuable to offer, to contribute a perspective, because women in general across the border tend to be more perfectionist, tend to be harder on ourselves and we tend to seek more and more external qualifications. Yeah, once I get this certification and then this thing, then they’ll listen, then they’ll pay attention and so much of like learning to be a speaker I think I know it’s a little bit of a different industry is just valuing your perspective. Valuing your perspective, your experience, your knowledge, your wisdom. Wherever you’re at, wherever you’re at on your journey, you know more than somebody and less than somebody, no matter what. Yeah and so. But we’re always looking to who knows more than we do and we’re comparing from that place versus wow, I know so much more than I did a year ago, than two years ago than five years ago.


And I know more than the average bear, like I know more than you know, and I always say that same vein there’s always someone that can help you and there’s always someone you can help, no matter where you’re at. So I think it’s really for me learning to value my own knowledge, wisdom, experience and having the courage and confidence to put it out there.


And to share that and you know, and again in a pre male dominated industry, but saying like, hey, this is why that’s a good thing, rather than here, this is why it’s a bad thing.


Yeah, and I mean we’ve said this before. This is not about man bashing here at all, it is. I remember the McBride sisters last year when they were talking and they were saying, well, our mentor was male and that was really, really important and needed. And you know, there is something to be said about this cooperation between men and women, as long as it doesn’t stunt the growth of that woman in the process. If I’m going to end up always being just a step below that mentor, then he’s not my mentor.


Yeah mentors want you to be better than them Right, just like parents want their kids to be better than them you know I want to look at my kids and go, wow, you are a lot better than me, thank you. Good mission accomplished, exactly, exactly. So do you, and I mean, in that case, you’re good at what you’re doing. Obviously Do you feel that this is something that you are going to be doing for decades to come? Just keep speaking, you know, jetting around the globe and Spreading the good news.

Marli Guest 31:35

Yeah, I mean, I definitely see it. You know, being an entrepreneur, like I said at the beginning, is that it’s an evolution and I think you know entrepreneurship is like the biggest personal development journey. You can go on like as far as like asking who the hell am I? Who’s going to listen? It’s already been done, it’s already been said and I always like to say, like no one has done it or said it, quite like you, right, and my mission, you know, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Mel Robbins, but like she is someone that I kind of look up to as a mentor and as far as just having a really big impact, might my two big values that drive me our freedom and impact. So I want to have the time freedom, financial freedom, creative freedom To do what I love with who I love when I want to like, that’s like, that’s freedom.


To me, freedom is success, like and impact. So making a positive difference in people’s lives, whether that’s like one person or 10, or 100, or my. I mean my big goal is like thousands and millions of people and Through you know, and we’ll see where it, where it evolves to you know, it’s like the TED talk books podcast, eventually continuing to speak. We have retreats, events all over the world. I’m here for it and I’m just like I’m here to be of service. Keep following my heart and keep listening to what is is coming through me, so that I can help others follow their heart.

Ute Host 33:12

I love that. Yeah, it’s wonderful. That’s the journey. It’s the journey, isn’t it? Well, I’m going to, before I go into my final bit here with you, a elaborate little bit on my journey.


I did decide that I’m going to start selling some hand stamp jewelry, so this Is going to look something like this, and if you’re just listening and not seeing the video, it’s all over instagram, so no worries, I’m holding a bracelet in my hand and I hammer with a hammer and stamp each individual letter onto these little aluminum stamps Bracelets. And this one happens to say wine is my spirit animal. These bracelets can be completely customized. This one says you had me at Pino noir. I have one that says, and be no veritas, I have through the grape wine. One, of course, and several others.


I am going to be doing a giveaway of those in honor of my anniversary today. You’re gonna wanna check your instagram accounts this afternoon, as I am both releasing the episode and I have wheels scheduled for that as well. So go check that out and you could be a winner, and I am going to start my store next week. So I need just a few more days to set that up and get everything squared away so that I can do all of the fun stuff like take credit card payments, because apparently that’s a thing shipping, you know.


So it’s super exciting, it’s super fun. It is something that I hope will help me as I am moving along and selling this stuff. I wanna try to keep my podcast as commercial free as possible. I I don’t love listening to commercials during podcasts myself, and so I’d like to just, you know, be able to limit it to hey, this podcast was sponsored by you know, myself maybe, so that we can limit that as much as possible. So stay tuned. Again, everything is gonna be posted on Instagram and on Facebook and it’ll be fun. I think it’ll be lots of fun. I will do group orders to. I know a friend of mine has sold this equipment to me and she has done it for bridal parties and for, you know, special events. People would order them having the same things stamped on, like the bride’s name and the date or something like that. So lots of possibilities there yeah, I love that yeah, alrighty, so I have.


well, you know, I have one more question, but there’s actually two more questions. The one question you don’t know about is what’s your favorite wine?

Marli Guest 36:25

Oh great that’s a wine podcast right wine podcast. In the summer rose a winter cab, so I love a good cab stuff.

Ute Host 36:40

Yeah, everybody who knows me knows I keep talking about Cabinet. So we know, on this podcast, podcast yeah, those are my go to. You know, remind me I want to gift you a bottle of Cabinet Sauvignon because I work for a winery called Cougar Crest and it’s in Lake Sweego and they make a really wonderful Cabinet Sauvignon. So I would very much love to be able to gift you a bottle because.

Marli Guest 37:04

Oh, I would love that, thank you.

Ute Host 37:06

It’s a really beautiful wine. Yeah, and then my final question that you do know about do you have any words of wisdom you want to share with our listeners, and this can be private life or work, or you know anything that you feel like sharing, as you’re on a little pedestal, you have something to say.

Marli Guest 37:25

Hmm, yeah, oh. I think that the greatest gift that you can give yourself and those around you is to give yourself permission to say yes to you, to say yes to the things that you want, to say yes to the things that light you up, to say yes to the people that lift you up, to say yes to the experiences that nurture your heart and your soul, and to say no to the things that don’t. And have the courage to know what to say yes to and what to say no to.

Ute Host 38:02

I have goosebumps, oh my gosh. Okay, this is absolutely incredible and I’m so, so glad that you were able to come on to the podcast. This is something that I have been thinking about for about the last half year about doing. I think it’s very, very fitting that it is the anniversary episode. So, hey, right. So thank you so much. I really appreciate you. We are going to put all this stuff into the show notes for our listeners. Beautiful and have a wonderful day. Thank you, marley.

Marli Guest 38:46

Thank you Appreciate it.


And with that, all I have left to say is of course, Prost!

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