Today, I interview Debbie Hoffman who worked on Wall Street for 20 years and performed very confidently. She excelled at an extremely young age and was one of the only females in a male-dominated industry. However good she was at speaking successfully on behalf of her clients it was not the same as speaking up for herself.
After her retirement, she started doing work in marketing for a health and wellness company. Here, her confidence faltered a little because she realized she was representing herself, instead of speaking for clients, as she had done in the past.
She experienced a strong physical reaction to the thought of speaking in public, as well as overwhelming imposter syndrome, wondering if she was capable and could really make a difference. Then, she was following up with a client who pointed out that so many people struggle with following up, and Debbie was so good at it. She encouraged Debbie to teach people how to do it well, and that’s where Debbie found her purpose and has been helping people ever since!
Now, she works with relationship-driven entrepreneurs, coaches, and network marketers to make sure they have a reliable follow-up system in place so that they don’t lose potential clients and income.
Get Debbie’s free guide: 4 Secrets To “Power-Up!” Your Sales (Without Being Salesy!) http://www.powerupyourfollowup.com/freeguide
Debbie Hoffman is a heart-centered sales & follow-up expert, speaker, and founder of “Power-Up! Your Follow-Up.” After 20 years of working on Wall Street as a Managing Director, with over $25-billion in sales, Debbie took her organizational skills (and an extraordinary ability to connect with people) and created multiple six-figure businesses.
In addition, Debbie had tremendous success as a Network Marketer, having built an international team of several thousand consultants.
She’s also a best-selling author and has a book highlighting her proven follow-up system… due out in 2022. Her mission is to support entrepreneurs to share their gifts and get their message out in a big way so they can create the impact they’re here to make.
Find Debbie here:
Watch the episode:
Learn How to Speak Without Fear!
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Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #39 Debbie Hoffman
“Thriving in Her Own Natural Way”
(00:35) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing, psychologist and host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. And I get to interview people who have had some kind of struggle somewhere along their lifespan to speaking up, a struggle with being who they truly are, whether it was sometime early in life– sometimes it’s about a family situation or trauma, a school being bullied– in other times, it’s just being trapped in certain kinds of environments like a corporation– which it sounds like we might hear about today– from our guest. Let me tell you about her, Debbie Hoffman– and Debbie I know Debbie very well, I’ve done some programs with her and first found her on one of her podcasts that she was interviewed or she was interviewed on a podcast and I went oh, she knows what she’s doing about follow up— and so I’ve taken some programs with her and she’s wonderful. She’s inspiring, and she is gifted in all the ways in which you need to know about following up. Let me say a few more things about her. She’s heart-centered sales, and follow up expert speaker and founder of Power Up Your Follow Up. And she works with relationship-driven entrepreneurs, coaches, and network marketers who are letting potential clients and income slip through the cracks because they don’t have a reliable follow up system in place. And our proven step-by-step formula supports them to have more ideal clients saying yes to working with them. And this is the part I think we’re going to hear about today: after 20 years of working on Wall Street as a managing director with over 25 billion in sales, Debbie took her organizational skills and extraordinary ability to connect with people and created multiple six-figure businesses. And in addition, Debbie had tremendous success as a network marketer, having built an international team of several thousand consultants. Debbie’s mission is to support entrepreneurs to share their gifts, and to get their message out in a big way so they can create the impact they’re here to make. Oh, Debbie, I’m so glad to put the platform out and have you step in today. Welcome.
(03:06) Debbie Hoffman:
Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m honored to be here, Doreen.
(03:09) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yes. And as you know, the podcast is Find Your Voice, Change Your Life. And I know, before we get to the part about where you found it, I’d like to hear a little bit about your history. You know, we were talking and you said, well, that there wasn’t a trauma in your background, and that there was something else along the way, but just tell us a little bit about your background.
(03:33) Debbie Hoffman:
Well, I worked on Wall Street for 20 years, as you mentioned. I was super successful there and was really comfortable talking with potential clients, or with clients, and in doing speaking engagements, that was fine and easy for me. And then once I retired, I joined a network marketing company, a health and wellness company. And at the beginning we would do presentations to groups of people. And then at conferences, some of us would speak on stage. And of course, at the beginning when I wasn’t used to being on a stage it was a little nerve-wracking. But over time, it just got more and more comfortable. And I would just do these presentations like I could do them in my sleep. Like it was just so easy to do because I was representing a company’s product. And that was the whole thing and made it easy to represent something other than myself. So, when I launched my coaching practice my coaching business about 10 years ago, I’ll never forget the very first speaking engagement I had. It was at a networking event with lovely women– there might have been 25-30 people there. And it was the first time ever that I was speaking and representing myself, and my knees were literally shaking. I remember this: I had a dear friend there to support me, and I couldn’t get my legs to stop shaking. And I was thinking, I hope people aren’t seeing this because it was really embarrassing. But I realized, like I was asking myself later, what was going on there? Why was I so nervous? And it was because so much was at stake? I had made this decision to stop doing– well, I didn’t stop doing the health and wellness business, but I wasn’t going to focus on it, I was going to focus on creating a coaching business to help people with sales and follow up. And number one, I didn’t know early on if I was going to provide value. I didn’t really know that people were struggling this with this back then. A friend who inspired me to start this business told me this. It’s like, okay, so it was like that imposter syndrome thing at the beginning, like, Can I really help people? Can I really support people? Am I really going to make a difference? Are people going to want to pay me? And will they get value from what I offer? So, when I was speaking that first time, all these things are going through my head. And it was just so new. And I was just really concerned. And the interesting thing is there was a woman in the audience– God has a sense of humor– who was very difficult. It’s that type of speaking engagement that people dread. And it happened the very first time. This just came to me, I’ve totally forgot about it. And this woman was so difficult, and so mean and nasty, and challenging me on something that I said, and they actually asked her to leave, and they removed her from the membership for this networking event. It was really horrific. But people were so blown away with how I handled it, because I handled it really well. I didn’t let it—it flustered me a little bit, to be honest. But I handled it pretty well. And there’s a reason for everything, like I was really being challenged that first time out. So that’s kind of how it started. And obviously over time, things have improved. But that experience—
(06:59) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yes, I’m sure everything has improved. Because I’ve seen you and worked with you in a know how eloquent you can be, and how supportive you are of us who are out there trying to increase our businesses. So, thank you so much. Well, I’d like to, I want to go back to the 20 years in the corporation, because as we were talking earlier, it’s not as if you had an early family history where you were told not to speak or that there were challenges there, it seems like the first, you know, like people find themselves in a slot in a corporation. And sounds like you had a lot of success in that corporation. So, just say a little bit more about what it was like being in a corporate environment, and having a voice or not having a voice.
(07:50) Debbie Hoffman:
Yes, something just came to me. So, I was in Wall Street was– still is– a very male-dominated industry. But back then, there were very few women doing what I did. I kind of blazed the trails in the area of the company where I was selling fixed income securities to institutional investors. And so, it was me and the guys. So you can imagine what that was like. And I remember this just came to me when you said that about having a voice in that environment. So, I was like the touchy-feely, like, “Let’s share our feelings” and all that kind of stuff, and coming up with all these crazy ideas, and the guys would roll their eyes, but I just spoke it out. And I spoke what I felt that I thought we should be doing whenever there were issues within the team, because there was a group of us that were– well, I work for three different companies, so I’m really sharing the last company right before I retired– I was really highly respected because I was always the top performer in the group. So they had to listen to me, like they couldn’t just brush me off. But I remember just the rolling of the eyes and people not really wanting to buy into what I was suggesting. But I just kept going. I just did. At the very beginning when I first started, I was really young, I was 22, and again, I was the only female salesperson. They were all guys that were much older than me. And I just had an ability to communicate really well with clients and to make them feel heard and cared for. And these guys were coming from the masculine, obviously, and I was coming from the feminine. So I was like a breath of fresh air to these clients who are all guys as well– most of them were men. And so, I just was being me, like I didn’t know what I didn’t know, like I was just kind of like “ignorance is bliss” and I just did my thing and I became really successful in a short period of time and the guys, the older guys who’ve been doing it for years, were pretty jealous and envious, but we worked through it. So, it took courage and a lot of perseverance and strength and not caring what anybody thought. I just did my thing and I performed and so they kind of had to just let me do my thing.
(10:26) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Oh, what a great story. And especially since you know what you’re talking about now, defining yourself as “heart centered”, and it sounds like that’s what was happening way back then naturally for you.
(10:38) Debbie Hoffman:
Exactly. Exactly. And from that experience, as heart centered as I was there, it still was pretty salesy and pushy in the entrepreneurial world. And so when I came into the entrepreneurial world, I was doing business the same way I did in Wall Street. There, you could be pushy and salesy and aggressive, and it was part of the jam. It was part of the deal, like it was understood that that’s the way business was done. But when I came into the entrepreneurial world, I was hitting roadblocks left and right and didn’t know what was happening because I was coming across too aggressive and pushy. But that’s all I knew. So I had to find a new voice, a new way of communicating that came more from the heart. And that’s when I went through my whole journey of trying to figure out why were people literally walking away from me at networking events and not wanting to talk to me, it’s because I was too attached to my agenda. I was salesy. I was aggressive. And I just wanted to make a sale. And so, my journey over the last 10 years has been like incredible to get to where I am today. And that’s what I teach my clients is to let go your agenda, as you know, and to come from the heart and come from a place of service. So yeah, my voice is really real. And things have really shifted over the years to where I am today. I didn’t wake up like this, I wasn’t born like this.
(12:00) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Well, in a way your spirit was there from the very beginning. And all it’s done, all you’ve done is just given it way more opportunity to come out and shine and touch others. Well, when you actually left corporation, you said you retired? Was that a choice? Because it seems like you were still so young.
(12:22) Debbie Hoffman:
Well, this was 20 years, and I was really young. And people thought I was crazy, because I left a very high six-figure income, but I wanted to be a mom. So I chose to leave, they didn’t want me to leave. At the beginning. They let me work four days a week. So I could have Fridays to go on field trips and do things like, you know, pick up my son from school, but I just wanted to be a mom. And so I actually volunteered to retire against their– you know, they were upset that I left but my priorities changed. My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
(12:57) Dr. Doreen Downing:
There you go again, your heart, your heart said, I want to be a mom. And being a mom is a whole new voice too, isn’t it?
(13:06) Debbie Hoffman:
Oh yeah. I’ll never forget when I started interacting with the other moms, they weren’t working, and I was like, I don’t really fit into this. So when at parties I would be talking to the husbands. I already talked to all the guys, because that’s what I was used to. So yeah, this is interesting. I haven’t talked about all this in years. So this is fascinating for me to be exploring this with you. Because it’s reminding me of the various phases of sharing my voice and how it shifted.
(13:34) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yes. And then you went into the health and wellness, you said, networking, I didn’t quite know–
(13:39) Debbie Hoffman:
That was a network marketing company, and health and wellness company. Yeah.
(13:44) Dr. Doreen Downing:
And then is that, like the multiple levels?
(13:49) Debbie Hoffman:
A multi-level? Yeah, it’s direct sales. Yes. So I had these products. And I was a distributor, and I built a team. That’s why I had those several thousand consultants that were working in my team. So yes, it was about selling products, and then helping other people to create a business around these products.
(14:06) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Oh, perfect. That sounds like another rendition of learning how to do business in a different sort of way. By bringing together in a way you became more of a leader in that realm, it sounds like.
(14:21) Debbie Hoffman:
Yes, and that’s actually the business I was networking with where those people walked away from me because I had these products and they were amazing, and they still are amazing. And I was like over the top excited, enthusiastic and you know, people were repelled by my enthusiasm about it.
(14:41) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Well, this is really fun to journey back with you and then forward into so what was the decision? Or how did you make the decision and move into coaching?
(14:59) Debbie Hoffman:
This is a really interesting story. So, I was following up with this woman, Tania Hoffman, from a women’s conference. I had a booth, I was a vendor, and she was interested in the products. And I followed up with her for 14 months. I kept following up with her, and she finally became a client. And she said to me, “Debbie, you are amazing at follow up, you need to teach people this.” She said, “people really struggle with this.” And I said, “What are you talking about?” Like, I had no idea that I was doing anything special. I had no idea that people were struggling with this. She ended up inviting me to an event. And she said, “just tell people you’re a follow up coach,” and we just played this game. It was a game. And the woman who was running the invited everybody to make an offer of $97 for something. And I asked Tanya, “what should I offer?” And she said, “offer a five-week follow up program.” And I said, “I have a five week follow up program.” She said, “just offer it.” Like, okay, it was just a game. And at the end of the event, two people gave me three credit cards. And I’m like, holy crap, what do I do now? And so, I’ll never forget this. I was driving home and I called my husband. I said, “we need to create a follow up program,” because I just sold– two people just bought it. And then I figured, well, I might as well invite other people. And I raised the price to 197. I had like 24 people in the first program. And I did it again at 22 people, and 20 people, and I just kept doing it. And that’s how my business started. I did not wake up one day and say, I’m going to start a coaching business. I’m great at follow up and sales. I’m going to teach people. That is not how this happened. I was not looking for this. And it was all because of Tanya.
(16:45) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Oh, what a story. Yes, I can relate in a way that this podcast has happened somewhat accidentally. I was part of a– well, it wasn’t a contest, but it was a challenge– 30 days to do video, and somebody said, “Hey, you interview me, I’ll interview you. And then we’ve got our days, a couple of days already checked off for these 30 days we have to do.” And I just loved it. I loved interviewing people. And so that’s how they started last March.
(17:15) Debbie Hoffman:
(17:16) Dr. Doreen Downing:
And here we are today with you getting to, you know, journey back and also share with the listeners today. Because you’ve already said so much that I think people are going to go, “Yeah, that’s me. That’s me. That’s me.” So we’re getting near the end. And I would like to have you say a little bit more about what you currently do then with follow up businesses.
(17:39) Debbie Hoffman:
Well, I’m a sales and follow up coach, it’s like follow up is part of the sales process. And I speak a lot. I just did a training yesterday for an incredible organization called the Evolutionary Business Council. I’m asked to speak at a lot of networking events. And I’m constantly being interviewed and on podcasts like this. And so, I love to speak. You know, Doreen, we were just talking earlier before the recording started about how I’m a much better at speaking than at writing. So I do video tips every Friday on “Follow Up Friday” is what I call it. And then we transcribe it into blog. So I just love to speak, I love to be on stages, I used to do three-day live events, where I would pour into people for three days, and then invite them into my mastery, six-month coaching program. So I’ve been speaking for years, and I just love it, I never feel nervous. I just feel really comfortable speaking and I love to connect with people. And I love to share my story because a lot of people– I went through bankruptcy and foreclosure and lost everything when I retired and thought everything was going to be okay. That’s one of the reasons I was able to retire because we had all this money coming in from this house that did not sell for what it was supposed to sell for. So we went through some very, very, very hard times. And so when I share that story, people always come up to me afterwards when I was speaking in person and say, “thank you so much for sharing that story. I’m going through the same thing now or I did go through it. And it’s so inspiring to hear that you were able to recover from that and to create a thriving business.” So I just realized how important it is for us to be authentic and vulnerable and share a story that could be embarrassing and humiliating to share. But I took myself out of it. My husband was horrified that I was sharing this at the beginning. But I just said, “you need to trust me, people need to hear this.” And now I know for certain that it’s made such a difference for people to hear the story. And so that’s what I’m doing now. I have group programs and private coaching. And I have my networking event that I host every month, so I’m really visible. And I do Facebook Lives and interviews all the time where I’m interviewing others, they’re interviewing me. So I’m really out there a lot. And it’s just fine. And I love to do it.
(20:06) Dr. Doreen Downing:
And I think one of the things that people can take today is a word you just used a second ago, “authentic”. And that’s what I think we’re touched by today, with your authenticity, and your willingness. You also said “vulnerability”, your willingness to open up parts of your life and not be ashamed of it and just say, “Hey, this is truth. And I grew.” And that’s the motivation, I think, that you provide others by modeling what it’s like to recover from difficult times. And well, I know you’ve just said so much right there. But since we’re coming to an end, can you offer a word or words of wisdom for people based on what we’ve talked about today?
(20:55) Debbie Hoffman:
Well, just about the hardship, that whenever we go through anything difficult in our lives– and we all will; we all have, and we all will, it’s just part of life– is to always look for the learning and the growth, and how you can become a better person because of it. Because of that situation that we went through at the time, it’s like, why is this happening? And now I look back, and I see so many silver linings, and so many lessons and learning that I got from that. And like I said, now I can share that story with people and be an inspiration to other people who have lost hope. And so I just want to leave you all with, whenever anything’s going on in your life, instead of being a victim and like, Oh, why is this happening? Or what was me? It’s like, okay, what’s the learning here, go right to that place, because that will help you get through anything, because you will learn you will grow. I have a spiritual practice and they talk about, we all have a spiritual curriculum. And wherever we’re at in the moment is exactly where we’re supposed to be. And so, okay, what can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? How can I become a better person from this? If you have that outlook, as you go through challenging times, it will help you get through it with more ease and grace.
(22:19) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Hmm, beautiful last words, “ease and grace.” Thank you, Debbie.
(22:24) Debbie Hoffman:
Thank you. This was so much fun. Thank you for having me.
(22:28) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Also listen on…
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.