483 Michelle Norris:

Today on our Mentoring Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about business pivots and the divine inspiration we can take from the Coronavirus Pandemic, plus the necessity for self-care and self-development, why spirituality is key to business success, and why women in their authentic feminine power will be the ones to “save the world”.

Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …

Michelle Norris.

Michelle describes herself as a recovering “corporate warrior” who now leverages divine inspiration to help people heal themselves with the Paleo Lifestyle. She’s the co-founder and CEO of Paleo f(x)™ the largest Paleo platform and event in the world featured in the New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, and Men’s Health. She’s a featured chef on The Paleo Kitchen TV Show, and a regular speaker at SXSW Health Expo, Ancestral Health Symposium, Conscious Media Festival, Society of Women Entrepreneurs, and many more.

Melinda Wittstock:         Michelle, welcome to Wings.

Michelle Norris:               Thank you so much for having me. Happy to be here.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, I’m always excited to have my Unicorn Sisters on this podcast. And in the Mentoring Minisode, of course, we always ask, what is inspiring you right now? We’re all challenged during Coronavirus, obviously, You have one of the biggest events in the world. What’s your inspiration in all of this crisis right now?

Michelle Norris:               Wow. Honestly, my inspiration right now is just really getting some encouraging response from our tribe, and particularly our Unicorn Sisters. Just the people that I surround myself with are really upbeat, positive people who really keep the focus on the things that we want in our lives. Focusing on that and not focusing on the things we don’t want. And that doesn’t mean you ignore it. It just means that you are aware of it, you prepare for it, but you don’t dwell on that. And it’s interesting because I had an interview with [inaudible 00:01:17]. One of the things he said was don’t live there. Be aware of it, but don’t live there.

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly right. So, when we bathe ourselves in news or just all the heavy energy around, like observe it, but don’t live it. I love the Mary Morrissey quote where she just says focus on the vision, not the circumstance.

Michelle Norris:               Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         And so, what are some of the practical things you do to be able to stay in that? Stay centered, grounded in yes, like what you want and the life that you want despite all this swirling around.

Michelle Norris:               Well, it’s really interesting. So, I kind of bookend my days. So, in the morning I start with my affirmations, mediation, really just getting my day off right, and I end the day the same way. So, my affirmations are all of the things that I’m focusing on, all of the things that I am currently working to manifest in my life. And so, my affirmations begin with, “I receive and believe, and I’m so grateful for it.” And I have right now on my list is 57 affirmations. So, I do those in the morning and I do those in the evening before bed. So, it’s like you start your day off on the right mindset, you end your day on the right mindset so that you can sleep well and then rinse, repeat.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah.

Michelle Norris:               That’s really one of the main things that keeps me there. The other piece of it, too, is that I keep reminding myself that I can’t be happy if I’m in fear. I can’t make good decisions if I’m in fear. And so, in order for me to be able to be happy and to make good decisions, I have to not be in a place of fear. So, I’ve just been constantly grateful for where I am. I’m grateful for the fact that there are so many people right now that have issues that are so much worse than anything that I can imagine right now.

Michelle Norris:               And so, one of the things that I talk about a lot, particularly because it’s the entire reason why Paleo f(x) even exists, is our daughter Brittani was killed in a car accident 10 … oh, sorry, it’s almost 11 years ago. Geez, the time has flown by.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wow.

Michelle Norris:               So, in May it’ll be 11 years. And my thought process around that is that after you lived through the absolute worst fear you can ever have as a woman, as a mother, as a parent, there’s no fear really beyond that. I get fearful for others more so than myself, more so for my children and for my loved ones or for my friends, but I tend to not have so much fear around anything myself.

Michelle Norris:               Let me walk that back a little bit. There are times where I allow myself to think of the worst case scenario, and then I immediately will pull myself back from that. And my recognition around that is this great quote. I actually read it in Gabby Bernstein’s book. And so, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to put that all over my house.” I read it in her book, but it’s actually from A Course in Miracles, and it’s “The presence of fear is the sure sign you’re trying to operate in your own power.”

Michelle Norris:               And that’s one of the things that I remind myself is I don’t have to do all of this by myself. I’m not alone. I do have a connection to God. I have God’s power to work with me, through me, for me. And I don’t need to worry about trying to do this by myself. If I have to do this by myself, this is where … there’s a reason for fear around that. But I don’t. So, that’s where I just constantly give over and surrender and let go of the things that I can’t be responsible for, that are way bigger than what I can do on my own. So, that’s just how I keep in a positive mindset on the daily.

Melinda Wittstock:         This is so important, this word that you mentioned, “surrender,” and not being alone. I think that’s what everybody really needs to really understand and realize now. If they haven’t been on that personal growth journey to get there already, this is the time to look within and really find that divine inspiration and realize we’re not alone. I find what’s interesting about the physical distancing is it’s actually connecting us in a much deeper way. I think a lot of people talk about that. And certainly in business and with friendships and whatnot, it’s a real opportunity whether you want to deepen your relationships with your customers or your family or your friends, but more than anything else, with yourself.

Michelle Norris:               Exactly. And it’s funny. I’m glad that you said the physical distancing, because we’ve been trying to not use this whole distancing as our words. Because we’re only required to be physically apart. We’re not required to be socially apart. And we’re seeing all kinds of really tremendous and amazing opportunities to connect and to be in social settings virtually with our friends and just different people. It’s really interesting all the creativity that is coming out of this. That is the really bright side of all of this is, what do they say, necessity is the mother of all invention. And right now, we have this necessity for creating things that because we can’t be together physically, you’re seeing some really incredible creations happen right now, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. And we need to not ever forget that.

Michelle Norris:               The problem that we have is that we tend to get back into that place that when things are “normal,” and I’m using air quotes, are normal, we have a tendency to take things for granted, be very complacent, all of those things. And I think what is really important for us right now, and I feel like this is a huge wake up call. It’s a wake-up call in so many ways and on so many different levels of people need to have this wake-up call to what is their health like right now. Is their health where they want it to be? Are they in fear because their health isn’t where they want it to be, and there’s a possibility that they could get terribly sick and/or possibly die if they did contract this virus? That is a wake-up call to change those things. And there is no better time to change than right now.

Michelle Norris:               Then the other piece of this is this is also the divine and mother nature, the whole planet is making us, is forcing us, into this stopped situation where we’re all getting quiet, we’re all … Well, I shouldn’t say quiet because I don’t know that we’re all quiet. But we’re having to slow down. We’re being forced to slow down. We’re being forced to stay indoors for the most part. I know we can go outdoors with our dogs and what have you and get exercise, all of that. But when you think about it, we take for granted that if you work in some type of office and you go into an office, you take for granted that that’s part of your social life and that that’s part of your life that should be have meaning, should have all of these things that make you feel fulfilled.

Michelle Norris:               And that’s the other piece of the wake-up call. If it doesn’t, isn’t this the time to evaluate that and look forward and say, “You know what, what I’ve been doing doesn’t fulfill me. I need to find something that’s going to really fulfill me and make me happy.” Because we all need to remember that tomorrow’s not promised to any of us. It’s not promised. It does not matter whether you are sick or you’re not. My daughter was perfectly healthy. She was killed in a car accident. She was three days before her 23rd birthday. That is the sure sign you just aren’t promised tomorrow.

Michelle Norris:               So, we don’t start really taking stock of what our lives are like right now and what we want in our lives and creating that and manifesting that. Because right now is the perfect opportunity to do that, to really get clarity, because we have an opportunity for some downtime to really take inventory, take stock, start really making the decisions about the things that are important in our life that we want to continue to have in our life and the things that we need to get rid of. Because this is another time of surrender and letting go, and it can be the things that are holding you back from being the fulfilled human that you should be.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, Michelle, you said so many profound things, and my heart goes out to you. Losing a daughter, I really can’t imagine that. And when we talk on this podcast in the minisodes, the next question after the inspiration is always about the challenges. And you have proven that the worst life can throw at you is something that can enable you to grow and have this amazing wisdom and be able to help so many other people. And I do agree with you, too, that this is definitely a wake-up call. It’s kind of like the virus has a message for all of us, and our job is to listen.

Melinda Wittstock:         And so, when we think about the challenges that are going on for you, say, right now in your business, because we always have challenges in our business. And sometimes those challenges are things that we can’t control. And as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurship is the best therapy because we soon learn that we can’t stress. There’s no point in stressing over things we can’t control. Really focus on what we can. So, for you right now running an events business, obviously you can’t go ahead with your event this year, how have you handled that specific challenge?

Michelle Norris:               So, on March the 8th … actually, let me back that up one more day, March the 7th, the city of Austin canceled South by Southwest, which is the largest event in Austin ever. So, over 100,000 attendees from all over the world. And I want to say that their international attendees is somewhere in the range between 30% and 40% of their attendants. So, that’s a large number of people coming from outside of the United States coming for that event.

Michelle Norris:               So, March 7th, they canceled South by Southwest, and on March the 8th, the city decided that any event that was over 2,500 attendees before May 1st had to agree to their strategic risk mitigation plan. And I read the plan. We were expecting between 8,000 and 10,000 attendees. When we looked at that risk plan, I was like, “There’s absolutely no way that I can comply with two of the items that were on there.” Everything else would’ve been fine, but the two I could not. One was that I had to agree that attendees would not be in close proximity to each other for any extended period of time. And the other one …

Melinda Wittstock:         Hard to do at an event.

Michelle Norris:               Right. Little bit difficult. Yeah. And then the other one was I had to also comply with that 2,500 attendees could not be in any one given place in the event center at any given time. And I was like, “Okay, there’s no way for me to do that, either.” So, what I decided at that point was to take control of what I could control, which was to reschedule my event. So, my event is actually not canceled, it’s rescheduled. It is rescheduled to the middle of July, and right now that hangs in the balance. I think we will not really have an answer about whether or not we’re going to be able to move forward in July until sometime at the end of April or the beginning of May. And so, we’ll see how that goes.

Michelle Norris:               Right now, we had already intended to shift a lot of things online before the … We were planning on launching a lot of it at our event. And so, obviously that shifted everything forward. So, our team shifted gears and started greatly getting all of that in place, which they had to start probably about a month early because they would’ve started it now because our event would be in 24 more days. So, now we should be launching some of that stuff in the next week, two weeks instead of at the end of the month, beginning of May like was initially intended.

Michelle Norris:               So, we were already planning on shifting, mainly because when you are as connected as I am to really intelligent minds and a lot of really incredible futurists, you start seeing things coming down the road. And so, one of the things that we were preparing for was recession and thinking that it would hit at the end of this year, beginning of next year because we’re cyclical. Everything runs in decades. And so, we’re overdue for us to be in a recession at this point. But we were expecting it at the end of the year.

Michelle Norris:               We had no idea that what was going to end up ushering it in was a virus. No one had any idea that that’s how it was going to be. So, we were preparing for that because we thought that that might happen, because events are what would probably be considered to many people a luxury. And so, one of the things I can tell you from living through the 2008 housing market crash.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh God. Yeah, me too. Gosh, that was fun.

Michelle Norris:               [crosstalk 00:16:03], right? Living through all that, it was really interesting, because the first thing to go in that was at the time I was a project manager, and I built Starbucks for a living. The company I worked for built most of the Starbucks up and down the Eastern Seaboard. But the first thing to go is luxury things, which would be events, is construction, all of the things that are not considered necessities. And you kind of see that now, what’s happening right now with all of the shutdowns is what are the necessary things. So, those are the things it could hit. And so, we kind of, like I said, were preparing to get a lot of stuff online and to create other revenue streams for the event online.

Michelle Norris:               And actually, we really reframed our entire business. Because we are the largest paleo platform in the world. It’s just lots of people don’t really know that. And so, we were like, “Oh, we need to actually reframe that we actually are the largest paleo platform in the world, and we also have an event every year that’s really pretty fun.” So, those are the things that we were doing. And we had already started doing all of that shifting, like I said. I just shifted everything into high gear. And now we’ll see whether or not we’re going to be able to have the event in July. And once we know for sure, my team will start putting that together.

Melinda Wittstock:         But you’ve accelerated already into the online, which is infinitely more scalable and will be profitable. Honestly, everybody needs what you do, Michelle. Everybody needs to boost their immunity, really look after their health. Just like you said, it’s showing us the way. So, I want to just do our lighting round now of your top three pieces of advice for female founders, women in business, based on your own experience. If you had to nail it down to just three, what would they be?

Michelle Norris:               Okay, for female entrepreneurs specifically, I would say find your feminine. Probably the biggest thing that made an enormous difference in my business was when I started operating in my feminine. And that sounds probably a little woo and a little weird.

Melinda Wittstock:         No, it doesn’t. We talk about this all the time on this podcast. All the time. Being in your authentic feminine power, and feminine power not being an oxymoron, right? It’s vital. I’ve found that true in my life, too. Because when I was in my masculine all those years in my 20s and 30s, early 40s, kind of grinding it out, my health suffered, and I wasn’t as good a leader as I am now stepping into the feminine. So, I totally hear you. It’s not woo. I think it’s just fact.

Michelle Norris:               Yeah, it is so true. And so, that was really super key, because now I actually have a team that wants to follow me, and they love what they do. Because now instead of me operating in a place of masculine, which I think is actually not … not only is it not authentic, but we don’t do it right because that’s not who we are.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, I know. We’re not good at it. We’re not good at being dudes.

Michelle Norris:               We don’t do the masculine really well. So, that’s why you hear so many people say, “Well, if a man did that, he’d be called assertive and whatever, but when I do that I’m called a bitch.” Well, yeah, it’s because we don’t mimic it well. We think it’s something that it totally isn’t. And so, it’s interesting. So, once I shifted that, that’s probably the biggest thing for me was it made such a huge impact not just in the business but in my relationship with my business partner and my husband, who is my business partner. So, it made a big difference because I now am able to just really operate in that end and not have to worry about so much being in control and being … because that’s an illusion anyway. It is a completely different space. So, that’s number one.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely. Number one, be in the feminine. I think that’s so, so important. So, what’s number two?

Michelle Norris:               So, number two, the other thing is, is that what I really started doing was really honoring my needs and my self-care. Because when you are not taking care of yourself, it’s that whole other adage of put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then you can help somebody else put theirs on. Because if you’re not breathing, if you’re healthy, you can’t help anybody else. And so, I really started honoring my self-care and my self-love. Funny, because I can tell you for years, the self-care, self-love thing was all like, I was like, “What the heck is all of that?” And I didn’t have any clue until I really, really started going down this path in plant medicine and in my spiritual journey.

Michelle Norris:               I’ve been Christian most of my life, and really, really started diving into it, real spiritual practice. And so, once I did is when I realized that it’s just a completely different understanding that I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of others. I have to fill my cup up before I can fill anybody else’s. It’s all of those things. That was super important for me because my health, like yours and many other women who are grinding and doing the whole masculine taking control thing, is we destroy our health in this process because it’s not how we were … this is just not really innate to how we operate.

Michelle Norris:               And the thing is, is I’m not saying that women weren’t meant to be in leadership and being entrepreneurs. I believe they were, and I believe they are, and I believe now, more than ever, and particularly right now with COVID-19, I think women will be the way that we change the world and that we actually save this world.

Melinda Wittstock:         Amen to that. And it’s interesting. You mentioned plant medicine. The first time I did plant medicine was in the middle of the Amazon rainforest lying on a banana leaf. One of my biggest downloads there was the nature of balancing the archetypal masculine and feminine energies within us. And it was in perfect, perfect balance in that way.

Melinda Wittstock:         This podcast very much came out of that as well. What is the nature of feminine leadership? And the way the world is changing, I think it is our time to really step up in a rather big way but in a feminine way. So, I couldn’t agree with you more. What’s number three?

Michelle Norris:               Number three is constant self-development in whatever way that looks for you. So, for me, I do a lot of plant medicine. I do a lot of spiritual journey. I do a lot of meditation. Like I said, I bookend my days with affirmations and that type of thing. And that spiritual practice has been probably the biggest basis for my company’s success as far as my input to the company and being able to … and really tapping into my ability to manifest and to vision things for this company. I can’t tell you how much. It’s been insane the amount of visions and the amount of manifesting that’s happened just since the beginning of March, and how many shifts and changes that have been made in this company because I’ve learned to trust that and trust that spiritual connection and trust that my … I’m an empath for sure, but …

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh yeah. How could I tell that?

Michelle Norris:               [crosstalk 00:24:48] to the divine, and that I’m being led, and I’m being guided through what needs to happen. And that while I control what I do and my thoughts and just what happening here and my response to things, I am being guided and I am not ultimately in control of everything that’s happening, and I relinquish that and I’m thankful for that.

Michelle Norris:               And I’m not saying you have to go believe a religion or you have to believe anything. That’s not what I’m talking about. A spiritual practice is really about you tapping into your higher self and you getting to that higher self and feeding that higher self and nurturing that higher self and nourishing every single day and building. Really, it’s like exercise. Your spiritual muscle needs to be exercised and given stuff to do every single day for it to grow and for it to flourish. And so, same as muscles. And so, for me, those all actually have … probably seem like to everyone, those don’t have anything to do with business, but I’m going to tell you they have everything to do with business.

Melinda Wittstock:         They do. Absolutely agree with you. Michelle, what a beautiful conversation with you. How can people find you and work with you? What’s the best way?

Michelle Norris:               Well, they can find me personally at Dana Michelle Norris on Facebook and on Instagram and my danamichellenorris.com. And then Twitter for some reason doesn’t like my full name, so it’s DMichelleNorris on Twitter. My company is Paleo f(x), which is P-A-L-E-O, f as in Frank, x as in x-ray, dot com. And we are Paleo f(x) across all social channels, so you can find us there, and we have all kinds of really cool stuff particularly happening right now around … We got a particular series going right now about resiliency and becoming hard to kill. And that’s really what we’re about is becoming really super optimized humans.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful. Michelle, thank you so much for putting on your Wings and flying with us.

Michelle Norris:               Thank you for inviting me. Enjoyed it.

Michelle Norris
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