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In this life the source of joy and happiness comes from connection and compassion, which in turn creates courage. There is not weakness, but strength in the presence of vulnerability and incredible power in the purpose of letting go.
We all become more when you give more. Your gift is your story… one of the greatest you can give.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (144): I’m Love
“I’m just a girl.”
This is Marlo Higgins favorite refrain, at least in her moments of private and soulful reflection. But saying Marlo is just a girl is like saying David was just a guy… then he slayed Goliath. Perhaps Marlo was just a girl, until she took on her own giant – the same one so many of us fear to conquer – life.
Marlo’s name was inspired by award-winning actress and activist Marlo Thomas, a woman of poise and beauty who helped pave the way for women to be seen and recognized as possessing higher value and strength – someone who gives back with such power and perseverance to have earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That award, the highest civilian award in the United States is presented only to an individual whose contributions create such significance in the lives of others that we all stand in awe.
Enter, Marlo Higgins.
Marlo, a Chief Inspirational Officer, builds champions. Just ask her. “Champions challenge me,” says Marlo. “I’ve been given the discipline strength so I’ve simply connected this strength with a champion’s mindset to become fearless in business… and in life.”
Business is part of life. But how many of us get down to winning the business of life? After all, life is hard.
Marlo doesn’t come to strength by chance, she brings strength from source, that source is the story of her life. Raised by a single mom since she was a little girl, Marlo says her mom worked so hard and as a single parent truly did her very best to provide for her children. It wasn’t easy for her mom, or for Marlo and her brother when the signal to go to bed was their mom flicking the lights… from blocks away at her real estate office. Hard work meant sacrifice.
The small family traveled from California, to Utah, to Minnesota where Marlo’s mom opened a restaurant. “I would get up and wait tables before the school bus,” says Marlo. “Then I would go to school and wait tables again in the afternoon.” It was hard work, until one day she couldn’t work anymore. At age 16, the beginning of a chain of health challenges, not problems, challenges… began to surface.
“I’m the healthiest unhealthy person you will ever meet,” jokes Marlo. “My body just doesn’t like my body. At 16 it was the catalyst of it all, ITP, (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura).” ITP occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks platelets. Symptoms can include easy bruising and bleeding… in rare situations the spleen may need to be removed. If Marlo is anything, she’s rare… she started to bleed out, so there was no choice but to remove the spleen.
“At 16 I was cut from the sternum all the way down,” Marlo says. “It’s the most immeasurable pain you can ever imagine. I was cut wide open, numerous spinal taps, a huge needle into my bone marrow to extract it, so painful. I spent six months in a children’s hospital. When you are 16 all you wanna do is drive a car and have a big life. Even at that age I realized life is so delicate. You can’t risk NOT living life.”
Despite any and all circumstances Marlo takes on life, describing herself as fearless: “When we’re fearless we surrender. When we surrender we have no fear. We have the ability to take action. I’ve had to face my fears more than once. When I simply surrender to whatever is coming, whatever is happening, I’m able to accept it in a way that’s empowering. I love to be empowered. When I operate from this depth of my core I know it’s right. It’s pure. It has intention.”
Marlo needs her core beliefs, since it’s her bodily core that continues to challenge her and keep her on her toes. A few years ago, the challenges went straight to her head… a brain tumor. It was October 30th of 2010, diagnosis of a non-cancerous brain tumor, the same experienced by the likes of singer Sheryl Crow and Olympic Champion skater Scott Hamilton. But just like these icons, it’s not the tumor that controls them, it’s the challenge, the fight and the triumph of beating it back every day – and continuing to perform at life’s highest level. Health might be wealth, but it doesn’t mean you still can’t make significant deposits into the bank of life, and most importantly the lives of other people. The experience of the brain tumor helped create part of Marlo’s inspirational message: A setback is simply a setup for a comeback.
Even a recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis will not keep Marlo from living in service to others. “During a recent MRI there was a guy named Noah in the waiting room,” says Marlo. “He was so scared. I talked to him, made suggestions, recommended he use earplugs, or headphones and listen to music. We went in around the same time and were both getting dressed after the procedure. I asked him, ‘how was it?’ “He said, ‘it was nothing.’ He loved the advice of the earplugs. I love that – walking away knowing I have helped someone else.”
“I have extreme mental toughness. I prefer to go it alone. I don’t want anyone taking me to the hospital or to a procedure. I put myself out there as a force to be reckoned with and a powerful mindset of overcoming, but I am able to remove myself from the circumstance. It’s so much bigger than me, so I remove the fear.”
Fear, False Evidence Appearing Real, will never define Marlo’s life. In fact the exact opposite is in evidence in each move she has made through the journey of her life. At age 18, despite her significant health challenges, Marlo eventually followed her brother to Minneapolis where he was attending college. But literally struggling to make ends meet and while on the bus to yet another job, Marlo says she passed the Basilica and prayed, asking God to bring someone into her life and create a bond she would never break. Six weeks later, she met Scott. As Marlo will tell you she came off the market April 8th, 1989. Scott happened to be in Minneapolis training for a position in the financial industry which was awaiting him back home. To make a long story short Marlo eventually packed-up at age 19, rented a U-Haul one-way, and headed to Iowa, living in her truth, don’t get yourself into anything you can’t get yourself out of. She could always go home. But she had found her new heart and her new home.
Just a few years earlier, when her health challenges began, Marlo was told having children would be high-risk. But a champion never backs down from a challenge, especially one they truly desire. Marlo heard those words, but didn’t listen. Four years after tying the knot Marlo and Scott welcomed the first of two sons into their lives. In fact they just celebrated their April Fool’s baby’s birthday, his 22nd. Bringing life into the world, just like the life she brings into the world of others, is no joke to Marlo.
No excuses, no apologies, that’s her brand. It’s serious work challenging and championing the lives of other people. In 2005, after ten years of raising her family, tremendous success in the non-profit world and asked to be the person in numerous leadership roles because of her confidence and her results… Marlo was asked to help a start-up business get up off the ground. The results were staggering – building a nationwide brand, doubling income in the midst of a worldwide recession and then walking away and doing it all over again.
A powerhouse, a self-described “professional encourager” since the age of 12, Marlo soon realized she was her own personal brand and in 2011, just one year after a brain tumor tried in earnest to tame her passion, Marlo launched herself as a Chief Inspirational Officer – her personal mission – to build champions.
“More than anything I love champions,” says Marlo. “Mavericks, thoroughbreds, the best of the best. Why champions? They challenge me. They show me that it’s possible. That anything is possible. They prove that if you work at it, you can have it. I’ve been shown through numerous obstacles and barriers of my own that it can happen. I’m just a girl and the powerful and amazing people that I’ve been able to align with since I launched my personal brand have superseded my expectations. I’m blown away by the people I have on speed dial. All my life I’ve been enamored by influence and power.”
(Interviews with Champions – 22 Motivational Minutes with Marlo: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/22-motivational-minutes-with-marlo/id1191492741?mt=2 )
“I love power. I guess I see power as strength. I need strength, more often than not. So to align with powerful opportunities, powerful people, powerful initiatives, it simply gives me strength.”
Marlo also gains strength from her best friends – the six-pack of ladies who named themselves the chiquitas. They talk, they travel, they inspire, they confide, they are there for each other. They have a sisterhood which is strong and unbreakable. “What don’t they do for me,” says Marlo.
Marlo will tell you she is driven by challenges, obstacles and barriers… and she has experienced plenty in her life. Yet the challenges of life are a cliché when it comes to those who find a way to live life literally teetering on the upper echelons of their existence here on earth. Those individuals, like Marlo, then give back in a way that is even larger than their persona. These are the people who, as Marlo would say, “stand tall in their truth.” Yet those like Marlo don’t cast shadows on others, instead they reach down to say, ‘join me, I’m here for you, you can do this too.’
“My product is people,” says Marlo. “I’m called on to challenge people to develop their personal power, defined as their value, talents and self-worth. When we tap into this personal power we understand the depth of our being. We gain confidence, we become better at leading ourselves and ultimately others. When we do this we perform at higher levels. When we perform at higher levels we achieve more, we do more, we become more. I’ve always wanted more for myself and so I want more for others. I’ve built this brand to make an impact.”
In fact impact is Marlo’s word for 2017, (http://www.marlohiggins.com/), each year she chooses a new one. In 2010, as she faced one of the great challenges of her life, her world was simply survive. But since that time – Marlo is living to thrive and changing lives – and it comes in the form of a full and open heart. In fact any correspondence you get from Marlo will end with her signature of personal power: Love & Belief.
“I choose to stretch every day and see what happens when I do,” she says. “I’ve achieved more than I would if I had chosen to stay small, comfortable and not stretch. Empowering is a choice. If I’m empowered I can empower others. I love champions. I love people. I’m the most grounded and faith-based person you’ll find. I’m pure. I’m simple. I’m love.”
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
Wanna work with Marlo? (http://www.marlohiggins.com/)
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