Today, I interview Michelle Prince who grew up in Chicago in a strong, faith-based family. Her parents were from big Catholic families, so she and her brother had deep Catholic roots during their upbringing. It was a safe and happy home, but there were strict rules and high expectations.
Her mother had grown up in a home where perfection was expected, so Michelle often got a sense of those same expectations from her. Michelle was cautious and obedient, but when it came time for her to go to school, she was ready to jump into her own independence. She says she always had a strong social presence, always being animated and friendly, wanting to be liked by everyone.
Years later when she began college, she met Zig Ziglar and was immediately inspired by him. She wanted to get all she could out of life. She wanted to be successful and make lots of money, and in order to do that, she had to learn to speak up for herself and tell the world what she wanted. She did finally break into that space and reach the success she’d dreamt of, but it had come at the cost of her passion. She wasn’t doing something she loved. Even in getting to work with Zig, Michelle felt like something was missing. The company encouraged personal development, building confidence, and self-esteem. But she just didn’t feel like herself. She didn’t feel free to show herself fully and be seen with complete vulnerability.
She loved God but didn’t feel free to share her faith with her peers. She felt like an imposter with a mask on, leaving out some of the biggest and most important parts of herself. She started writing. At first, she journaled casually, but then it grew and became more serious and she poured herself into it, feeling her connection to God and eventually turning her writing into a book. This was the turning point for Michelle. She had finally found her passion and had enough confidence to start. She completed the book and started her business. Now that she has broken through, she loves to use the phrase “claim your authority” not to express the ego, but to acknowledge your identity and be boldly yourself. She encourages others to release the fear that holds them back and to step into life with joy, passion, and authenticity.
Michelle Prince is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, publishing expert, leadership coach, podcast host of The Power of Authority Spotlight, and CEO/Founder of Performance Publishing Group, a partner publishing company dedicated to making a difference, one story at a time. She’s helped thousands tell their stories and founded the “Book Bound Workshop”. Michelle has published many successful books of her own, including her best-selling Winning In Life Now and her latest The Power of Authority. She is known as “America’s Productivity Coach”, is a certified Human Behavior Consultant, and dedicates herself to helping leaders impact the world, using the strengths and talents already within them. She is also a dynamic speaker and has been endorsed by some of the most influential speakers in personal development, including Zig Ziglar, and is a Ziglar Legacy Certified speaker/trainer.
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Transcript of Interview
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #77 Michelle Prince
“The Real Me”
(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing. I’m a psychologist and I host the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. I invite guests who have had some kind of experience in life where they felt challenged about having a voice. Sometimes it happens early in life, and they have a story about that, or maybe it was just through school, or coming out into the world and being a professional. It ranges quite widely here on the podcast for those of you who have been listening to the stories that people get to tell. But the one thing I could say that seems to be true for every single one that shows up on my podcast is that they’re committed to being authentic. They really do want to tap into the truth of what they have experienced in their life. So then in that way, it becomes inspirational and motivational. Today, I get to interview someone that I just met. I’ve been enjoying our conversation. I happen to be on her podcast, and we’ll talk more about that. Hello, Michelle.
(01:51) Michelle Prince
Hello. Good to see you again.
(01:54) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I’d like to read the bio, so that people know right away who you are with all the tremendous things you already do. Thank you. Michelle Prince is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, publishing expert, leadership coach, podcast host of the Power of Authority Spotlight, and CEO founder of Performance Publishing Group, a partner publishing company dedicated to making a difference, one story at a time. She’s helped thousands tell their stories and founded the Book Bound Workshop. Michelle has published many successful books of her own, including her best-selling, Winning in Life Now, and her latest the Power of Authority. She is known as America’s productivity coach, is a certified human behavior consultant, and dedicates herself to helping leaders impact the world using the strengths and talents already within them. She is also a dynamic speaker and has been endorsed by some of the most influential speakers in personal development. I have to take a big breath. How wonderful that you’re willing to come in and unzip a little. And yes, this are all wonderful accomplishments, but it probably didn’t just start that way where you landed in life and said, “Hello, world. I’m successful.”
(03:33) Michelle Prince
No, nowhere near it.
(03:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
So that’s what we do. We begin to open up corners of your life. And I usually, because I’m a psychologist, like to get a sense of what it was you coming into the world and what the family situation was maybe where you grew up like. Just some little tidbits, so that we get to see what this young girl came into.
(04:06) Michelle Prince
Yes, absolutely. I was born in a suburb of Chicago. And my parents— Low middle class. I have an older brother, so I was the youngest of two. And just a good strong, faith-based family. All of our extended family was in Illinois, so that was basically where it started. Then we moved out of Illinois when I was five, and then we followed— My dad had a couple of different opportunities on the East Coast and then we eventually made our way down to Texas.
(04:42) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wow, that’s a journey through our country except the West Coast where I am.
(04:48) Michelle Prince
I know. Been there many times but never lived.
(04:52) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, I hope one of these times I get to meet you. So, we’ll set that up. But in terms of just local, I get that. Just about the family itself, your family, when you look back and want to spell out what we might visualize, what kind of family?
(05:14) Michelle Prince
My parents are still married today. So always a loving home, strict but loving. My mom was the oldest of eight children, and my dad was the youngest of eight children. Big, big, big families all over the Chicago land area, so my first five years were just surrounded by tons and tons of family. From my memories, my mom was a stay-at-home mom up until about, I think I was six. The story she tells is I was ready to move on. When I went into kindergarten, she said that she walked me into the school, and I was like, “No, I got it. Bye bye!” She says I’ve never looked back, and that’s probably true. Always been pretty independent. I’d say the thing that shaped our family the most was very strong family roots. I was raised Catholic, so we had big Catholic families. And that was just— What is that term steak and potatoes or meat and potatoes kind of family?
(06:30) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I get it. What we call salt of the earth. You’re really grounded. That’s wonderful. Just to begin to see you, the little girl coming into the world, and being already upright and on her feet.
(06:47) Michelle Prince
Yes, it’s funny, because I don’t remember that. But I do remember, just always being pretty independent, pretty much like I’m going to figure this out.
(06:57) Dr. Doreen Downing
What sibling were you in the family?
(07:01) Michelle Prince
I’m the youngest. So, I have a brother who’s two and a half years older.
(07:05) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, that’s right. So, your mother and father didn’t create large family themselves, even though they came from—
(07:13) Michelle Prince
I think that’s why. I think they purposely were like, “We are not going to have a huge family.” A lot of dynamics that go along with that, as you may know.
(07:23) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, before I move, I just want to pick up one word that you said. And just see if there’s some kind of illustration that might have to do with voice early on. I mean, I already get the goodbye, I’ve got this. And that feels like a strong sense of yourself early on. But you said strict. So sometimes strict is another— I guess the strongest word would be oppressive. Anything you might want to say any stories that come up about strict and how that might have affected your voice?
(07:57) Michelle Prince
Yes, so my mom was raised in a very strict family, meaning everybody just had to be perfect in a sense. So, some of that probably carried on with my parents, as much as they were great parents. I think the phrase we would hear a lot is, children are to be seen and not heard, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So, it was always very— I knew to mind my p’s and q’s. They were disciplinarian. I don’t think in a bad way. But we knew that if we talked back to our parents, we would pay for it, so that’s what I mean by strict. They also were very— Even as I grew up, I’m not allowed to do a lot of things which looking back, really protected me. Always had a curfew. They expected the best of me. So, I think, as children, you live up to that what is expected of you to some degree.
(09:02) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, okay. I’m getting the picture and listeners are following you on your journey to become more of who you are. the kind of an awareness of what was going on, it’s not so much black and white, right and wrong, but just awareness that there’s a way for you to be, and present yourself, and speak, so that you can feel comfortable and confident. Now, there has to be somewhere along the line where you feel like, “My voice isn’t quite all of what I want it to be.” What story might you have about that?
(09:47) Michelle Prince
I don’t remember as much of the early years. My mom would say that I was pretty quiet. I think some of that was because I had an older brother to speak for me, but I think I can remember more as I got older. In middle elementary school, we did move when I was six. Starting a new school and just being careful not to say the wrong things. That’s a great question. I can think of things more as I grew older, of not really having a voice or not really having a voice, but not necessarily my authentic voice. I was a people pleaser. Pretty much all through middle school and high school, I wanted to be liked. I don’t know if you know anything about the disc model of human behavior, which is what I’m certified in. I’m a high I, which means people person, wants to be liked, all of those things. And so that comes with you don’t always say what you think. I think I did that a lot when I was young,
(10:55) Dr. Doreen Downing
What does “I” stand for?
(10:56) Michelle Prince
Influence. So basically, just somebody that is people-oriented, outgoing, and they can be inspiring, influencing, tend to be big in their gestures, which is what I’m doing right now, which is kind of funny. They’re very much outgoing, just likes people, likes to be a part of groups, and things like that. I always have my whole life, even when I was little.
(11:26) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, that’s fabulous to hear. I like the other “I” that you used. Inspiring. Because I already felt inspired by you. In fact, you do programs, and you’ve got one next week that I’ve signed up for. I think it was called, The Power of Storytelling?
(11:41) Michelle Prince
Yes. The power of your story. Yes. I’m so glad.
(11:45) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, you and I are going to have much more conversations as we go forward, and I’m so glad I’ve met you. Well, I get that the whole sense of actually what I’m feeling is both— I have to stay more on a narrow kind of channel here in order to be accepted, and be right, and to get approval, but I also have this personality, which is inspiring and this vigor, like you said, with the gesture that you did, just really opening your arms. Even as we’re talking now, you’re just kind of floating there. It just feels like you’ve got a lot of wonderful energy to give people and I love the “I”. But my whole idea here that I’m kind of flushing out, what is the challenge for somebody who’s got both of those bigness but also awareness of that there’s some limits on yourself.
(13:02) Michelle Prince
Yes, just, honestly, my feeling is like you can’t be exactly who you are in order to fit in. Strict parents would also— When I was young, I mentioned, we were Catholic, and I went to a Catholic school, and it was very strict, and you had to mind your P’s and Q’s, and stay in line, and no energy and all of that stuff. I’m not a self-diagnoser, but if I had a look back, I probably had ADHD and didn’t even know it. Now, everybody talks about it. But I do remember getting in a lot of trouble. I was always a good kid. I never did the things that any parent wouldn’t want their kids to do. I never did. I never got into all of those things ever. But I definitely had some way about me, and I would speak my mind and learn really quick not to do that.
(13:58) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, this is really fabulous. I’m really glad that we’re finding out all these facets of you and what it takes to bring them all together. So, moving further into life, I knew that there are some things that I’ve read about you. It was you starting your own business where I think there was maybe a story about how that was more challenging, you finding your voice.
(14:29) Michelle Prince
Definitely. In fact, there’s so many— In life, there are all these ups and downs and ups and downs. And after college, the long and the short of it is, when I was just going into college, I met Zig Ziglar and that made a huge impact on me. I knew I wanted to work for him one day, so when I graduated, I did work for him and it was awesome, and I loved it, and I was very excited about what I was doing. However, I was young, 20-something, and I really wanted to grow and climb the corporate ladder, and make more money, and do all these things. So, lifting my voice to be like, “I want to do more”, that was hard for me. But then getting into what I thought would make me happy, a career and making more money and all this stuff, and then finding out that I wasn’t really that happy doing it, and I kind of missed that passion. That’s really what led me to start writing. It was more just for myself. It wasn’t like I was trying to build something at the time at all. I am very spiritual, so I journal, and that’s how I hear from God. That’s how it started. But then I put it into a book, and that’s what started opening things up.
But I’ll be straight up. I was a nervous wreck because I became so good at fitting into everybody else’s little world of what I should do, but I was desperately wanting to do my own thing and wanting to share what I learned and share things about finding my passion. I found it later in life. I discovered it early, but I didn’t pursue it till later in life. So that was a big finding-my-voice thing because being a people-pleaser, and then saying, okay, I’m going to do this, I’m going to write a book, I’m going to start a business. I got a lot of eyebrow lifts, like, “Really, you?” But I had enough confidence then. I think what triggered a lot of my people-pleasing, and I talked about this too when I do my own events, is I had a low self-esteem when I was younger, because I didn’t feel like I was good enough, and so it would rear its ugly head sometimes, but I’d always overcome it. Like what we talked about earlier, feel the fear, do it anyway. But it would still be in there a little bit. And so, when I finally got the guts to say, “You know what? I’m tired of not being me. I need to do this for me, be who I was created to be.” That’s when I went full force into— I’m doing this, and I’m writing my book, and I’m starting a business, and I’m going to just see where it goes.
(17:15) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love that breakthrough moment that you’re talking about where the declaration is there. So just in that moment, I know it’s not just like on a clock, it’s one second or one minute and that it’s actually all the previous kinds of expressions you tried, and it didn’t work or when you finally said, “Yes, this is it,” seems to say a little bit more about that sense of, “Yes, I’m going to be me.”
(17:50) Michelle Prince
I can remember being in corporate America, and I was in software sales for a large company. There were just certain things you’re just not allowed to talk about at work, like politics, faith, all those things. But I love personal development. I was working for Zig, and I was just always a little optimist. I’ve always been optimistic. I don’t know what the word is. But you couldn’t do that in a lot of corporate situations. I do remember feeling stifled and not feeling like they understood me at all, that I was always really good at what I did. So, I made my sales, and I did my thing, but I was just never authentically me. Then we’d go through a training session where they bring in a company and I love this stuff. Goal setting, and self-esteem building and all these things that I did. But it was just weird to people. So, I just didn’t talk about it much. My faith is very important to me. And again, I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I remember hearing a song. I don’t remember the year. But the words were so perfect for how I felt for a good part of my life. Anyone who knew me in high school can relate. I always acted so happy, and everything was so wonderful, but inside I wasn’t always happy, and it wasn’t always wonderful, but I hid it really well.
(19:15) Michelle Prince
There was a song by Natalie grant called, The Real Me. In fact, I wrote about it in my first book because it had such an impact on me. I’m not going to get the words right but it’s basically all about— I just want to be me. I just want to authentically be who I was created to be with no apology. One of the lines is, “I’m tired of wearing all the masks. I need to take off my clown mask,” and all of this stuff. That was not a one-day thing. This was happening over a couple of years. I’m not as happy at work. I’m craving to be more of a mom. I’m craving to be more me. It was, I believe, a divine appointment for me to figure it out. I didn’t figure it out on my own, I’ll tell you that. That’s how it all came together for me.
(20:06) Dr. Doreen Downing
I really get the integration of all those parts that you’ve already talked about today. And what I sensed early on was both the spirit of you, and then the kind of containment of it. Seems like that was the struggle. And then finally, being infused with the trust, the determination to break away and claim your voice.
(20:40) Michelle Prince
Yes. I say, claim your authority, which has nothing to do with being in charge or important, but more of just claiming who you were created to be, or just recognizing it. That’s one of the things why I never set out to help people with books. Never. But it is just so natural for me to see something in someone else that maybe they don’t see yet. I think I had somebody do that for me. Zig did that for me and other people. So, it’s like, I want people to see that. Everything that they’re wanting to be or have in their life, it’s already within them. They just have to believe that first. I didn’t believe it in myself for years. That’s where that shift started happening. It’s like, “No, this is who I am, and that’s okay, and it’s great. Why am I afraid to be that?”
(21:32) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, that question, “Why am I afraid to be that?” Is one reason why I do the podcast because a lot of people are afraid to be and do exactly what you’re saying. It’s more than doing and that’s why it’s also about a being. Because people are trying to do the right thing, or they’re trying to do what it’s going to take, but I think if we look inside and say it’s more about the being of who you are, and learning to have that be your ground, your habitat is way deep inside. So, I liked what you just said also. It is just like, “Hey, folks, it’s inside. You never know. It’s always there. Let’s just go in and discover more of it.” That’s what I call the Essence and why I call it Essential speaking. You’re speaking from the essence of who you are. And Michelle, that’s what you’re doing. You’re doing that today. I just feel so joyful being in your presence. And I hope that the people listening are feeling the resonance of your heart and also your gut.
(22:48) Michelle Prince
I mean, there are days— And that was, gosh, 12 or 13 years ago that a lot— or even before when it was starting to— I sometimes look back and I’m like, man, I did have a lot of guts back then, didn’t I? What was going on with me? I love what you said about being because if we’re not being who we were created to be, that’s when our crisis happens. And that’s when there’s this internal conflict, and somebody is going to have to win, either the real you or the you that you’ve been putting out there. And it’s just an internal crisis.
(23:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
One of the other things when you talk about writing is how you listened, and that, to me, feels like one of the how to’s. Learning to listen, listen to yourself, whether you’re doing journaling, or meditating, or just being out in nature is learning to listen within, but also listen to the signs that are in your life, and what you’re drawn to. You being somebody who goes to the corporate trainings and go, “Oh!” People are just like, “Yes, okay.” But you got stimulated and turned on by it. Yes.
(24:11) Michelle Prince
And I do love writing because— Not writing just to write but that is where I get down lows or just that self-reflection, and it’s important, and maybe earlier in my life, I was just so busy that I didn’t stop and do that. And so, for me, I was in my 30s by the time I really—My advice to anybody listening is don’t wait that long. Just start being self-reflective a lot earlier.
(24:40) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. Well, you said maybe I didn’t stop and that we talked about my seven secrets. And the first one is about how you stop, be still, and quiet your mind, and quiet your body in such a way that you can listen to what you’re talking about, listen to what the inner voice is saying. Well, we’re coming to an end and there are a couple of things I want to ask before I have to say goodbye. You talk about stories. I would like to just give you a moment here to see what story just happens to pop right now for you just kind of in the moment, who knows?
(25:28) Michelle Prince
Oh, wow, a story about myself or just in general?
(25:32) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, let’s see, I always like it about yourself.
(25:35) Michelle Prince
Okay, gosh. Well, I told you a lot about my insecurities growing up and all— It’s funny that you were asking about younger. I have a memory that is confirmed through photos that my parents have showed me. I do remember being about three or four years old, and I was in ballet, and it was our first recital. I told you when I was young, I was really quiet, and probably because I just knew to stay in line, between church and family. But I remember my first recital and being nervous about it beforehand, but then getting probably a soda or something. I got really, really, really hyped up and excited. And my parents even said that there was a side of me that came out that day. I was like, “Mom! Mom!” There is a picture of me doing that. All the pictures leading up to that were just me being quiet. But I just love that picture because it is like— Okay, that’s a great visual of what you do in this podcast, and I hadn’t thought about it before you even asked but that authentic voice was there. I was just ready to have fun and be out there and dance. Funny enough, I was a dancer my whole my whole life until I became an adult, so there was something in that. So that expression of just— So yes, I don’t know why that story came out, but that is definitely one that came to my mind.
(27:12) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, I’m so happy. And I trust you to just tap in and see what came in. It didn’t matter. But the word that comes to me in what I take away from you is effervescent.
(27:28) Michelle Prince
Oh, thank you. It could make me cry.
(27:34) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, that’s part of what I do is look into somebody’s being and really tap into what I am touched by. The beauty or what I saw on you is this beautiful spirit of effervescence.
(27:51) Michelle Prince
Thank you. Wow, you made my day.
(27:55) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, let’s talk about how people can find you because I am going to show up next week for your workshop.
(28:01) Michelle Prince
Oh, I’m so glad.
(28:05) Dr. Doreen Downing
But you’ll be doing it in the fall because this isn’t going to come out for a while but at least tell people. Okay.
(28:10) Michelle Prince
Yes. Well, I do a couple of different workshops. I do a live event called, Book Bound, and it’s bookboundworkshop.com. It’s just helping people figure out what is your story and how can you leverage it to make an impact in the world. But michelleprince.com, or on social, performancepublishinggroup.com. There’s a lot of different places, but just find me, I’d love to connect with any of your listeners. I love authentic stories, so I would love to hear other people’s stories. So, find me and let’s connect.
(28:42) Dr. Doreen Downing
Social media is out there. Michelle prince. They’ll look you up for sure. Thank you. Well, i asked you about that story, but just we’re going to end now. Any last word?
(28:57) Michelle Prince
Just that life’s too short to just hide behind who you think other people want you to be. Be who you were created to be. It’s good enough. Don’t be afraid to share your voice because maybe it’s your voice that’s going to change somebody’s life forever.
(29:17) Dr. Doreen Downing
Ah, thank you, Michelle.
(29:19) Michelle Prince
Thank you for having me.
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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.