Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 29 - LAURA MORTON
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR - LAURA MORTON
"We are all as good as the advice we will take." Laura Morton, New York Times Best-Selling author, public speaker, entrepreneur
Listen to the episode above, or watch on YouTube: Click Here
ON EPISODE 29:
We finally get some incredible close ups of Jupiter, thanks to the Juno mission. We even get a glimpse of the ring around the giant gas planet. The idea of 'living intentionally' is on What Fuels You and we can all learn to add value to our lives every day. Finally, the origins of the Abe Mug are revealed, along with some more exciting news.
ABOUT LAURA MORTON:
Laura Morton is a New York Times best-selling author, and an accomplished public speaker and entrepreneur. Joining the podcast this week, she talks about her early career in celebrity fitness videos, some of the insight she has gained from working with so many different types of people to write their stories, and her newest book Blindsided with Jim Ferraro. Finally, she tells an interesting story about a larger than life public figure for the last time anywhere.
Dustin: We're really curious about what got you into writing in the first place.
Laura: Well, I was working in Los Angeles as a producer, and I was ... I don't know if you guys know this part of my career, but I had pioneered the celebrity exercise video market.
Dustin: Really? Like ...
Jeff: Jane Fonda?
Dustin: Tae Bo?
Laura: Funny that you bring up Tae Bo, because I actually turned down Billy Blanks.
Laura: I know, and had I ...
Dustin: Weren't we just talking about Billy Blanks?
Jeff: We were. We were just the other day. That's funny.
Laura: Yeah, and you know, I keep two things in my desk drawer: My rejection letter of Billy Blanks, and an apology letter that I got from Judith Reagan. If you know anything about publishing, Judith Reagan is notoriously mean.
Jeff: I've heard that.
Laura: Yeah, she is, and she threw a 400-page manuscript at my head ... and that, by the way, is still to this day my number one selling book, and we'll come back around to that ... But I turned down Billy Blanks because I decided when I was doing exercise videos, I went with a woman named Stephanie Steel and she was the woman that taught kickboxing to Michelle Pfeiffer for Catwoman.
Dustin: Oh, wow.
Laura: And you'll understand the decision that I made, given Michelle Pfeiffer, Catwoman, or Billy Blanks, I just went for the hot babes, you know? I did, and I just ... Billy had a good following in the San Fernando Valley, and Stephanie Steel had this following in Venice Beach and I just made the choice and I made the wrong choice, but you live and you learn. I ran into Billy in Hawaii and ...
Jeff: Did he remember being rejected by you?
Laura: You know, everybody in that business was friends, by the way, and we all made each other a lot of money. To be honest, we all made each other a lot of money because when his videos took off ... and by the way, the fact that I'm referring to them as "videos" will tell you how long ago it was ...
Jeff: Right. Yeah, totally. Go buy his tapes, kind of thing. Definitely.
Laura: On VHS. Or Beta, even worse.
Jeff: Yeah, definitely.
Laura: But no, we all were very thankful for Billy because he changed really that world. But the first video that I actually made ... this is kind of an interesting story ... was, I did a video called "Champions Forever," and I put Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Sugar Ray Leonard. I put them all in a room together and interviewed them for the first time I did.
Jeff: What! Oh my god, that must have been crazy.
Laura: It was incredible, and they paid homage to Muhammad Ali, who if you know anything about boxing, is really ... I have to tell you, he's one of the most special human beings I've ever met in my life. Even back then ... and this was quite a few years ago ... he was beginning to speak in a whisper, and these guys all owe their careers to Muhammad Ali.
Laura: They do, and they all paid homage to him and it was really incredible and I had them all sign boxing gloves that we used to raise money for various charities, but when I had them sign the gloves, the last glove that Muhammad Ali signed, he gave to me and he leaned in and he said, "Now listen, you don't give this glove to any old boyfriend. You save this one for your husband." I really appreciated everything that he had to say to me. He was really an extraordinary guy, and for a long time ... and this is in the early days of HBO ... when a fight would go short, they would show "Champions Forever."
Dustin: Yeah, I remember that.
Laura: Yeah, and I'm sure you guys have seen the poster. It's all of them together with the boxing gloves around the ... So when Muhammad passed away last year ... I think it was last year ... that was very moving for me. But that's really how I got started in producing and that led into the exercise videos which led into ... now I'm gonna answer your question ... how I got started into writing books because I did an exercise video with Joan Lunden, and it was called "Workout America," and I always laugh about that title because it was so cheesy.
Dustin: "Get out there and work out, America."
Laura: Yeah. "Good morning America, and work out, America, and ..." But Joan and I met and it was as if I had met my long-lost sister or best friend. She had just gone through a really high-profile divorce and lost a lot of weight, and I felt like the workout video was just a small piece of the story, and I very flippantly said ... and there may or may not have been a glass or two of wine involved ... I said, "You should write a book." She said, "Well, yeah. Let's write a book." And that is really how I got into writing.
Dustin: Did you go to school for it at all, or ...
Laura: I really didn't. I went to school, I got my degree in political science. I thought I was gonna be a lawyer. Now with all the money that I've spent on lawyers over the years, negotiating contracts and all ... not with legal troubles, but ... I feel like I could have and should have gone to law school. I have a good Donald Trump that I can tell you with negotiating Marla Maples' exercise video.
Jeff: Oh my goodness.
Dustin: I'm very curious about that.
Laura: Yes. I swore I would not tell this story again, but I will share it with you.
Dustin: We are honored. We are honored.
Laura: I did Marla Maples' exercise video when she was married to the Donald, and this ... I will say, this is the last time I will tell this story probably ... but I want to ...
Jeff: You heard it here last.
Laura: I am not ... I will publicly say, I think we have to respect and honor our president, but I am not a supporter of our president. But I did work with Donald and Marla, and he called me and he said, "I want to negotiate our contract. No lawyers, no agents, and I will negotiate Marla's contract, just you and me." And I said, "That's fine with me," because in my mind I thought, "Well this will save me a ton of money. I don't have to go up and ..."
Jeff: Less red tape. Yeah, you just want it done.
Laura: Yeah. "This is great." So I sent him our standard talent agreement, and at this point I had done a bunch of these contracts so I had a standard talent agreement. I sent him our agreement and he called me ... and now that we all know our president I think we can really appreciate this story. ... he called me and he was screaming in the phone, "What is this paragraph that you get all rights in perpetuity throughout the universe? What is this? The universe, are you sending this up in the space shuttle? Are you taking this to space? I've never heard of such a thing! This is ridiculous! I won't give you the universe, I will only give you the world!"
Dustin: Oh my god.
Jeff: Oh my god, really?
Dustin: So aliens do exist.
Jeff: They do.
Laura: And I was like ... I mean, this was a long time ago, and I thought ... I could care less if it was the world or the universe. It meant nothing to me, because we were not sending it up into space, but maybe he was working with Russia even then, but ... So you know, I made a big deal out of it though. I said, "Donald, I can't budge on that because this is my standard contract and everybody has signed it."
"I'm not giving you the universe!" I said, "Well, you know, there are these three things that I do want, so if you could give me those, I could give you the world." So he gave in on the three things that I really wanted and I gave him the world. Now the next day, I sent him a gift basket, and the gift basket had a card in it and the card said, "To the best negotiator in the universe, from the second-best." And he called me immediately upon getting the gift basket and he said, "You're very good. Do you want to work for me?"
Jeff: Oh my gosh. Of course.
Laura: And I said, "No, I do not." And he said, "And now I know you're very smart," and he hung up the phone. So fast forward, we're shooting at Mar-a-Lago which was part of our agreement ...
Jeff: This is for the video?
Laura: For the video, the exercise video. We're shooting at Mar-a-Lago, and part of the agreement was that I was allowed to shoot there at no cost. This was our location, and he approaches me that he wants me to put in 50,000 BTUs of air conditioning in the ballroom.
Dustin: Hm. That's very particular.
Jeff: Okay ...
Laura: Yes, and mind you, this was at a different time in his life. I said, "I don't have the budget to put in 50,000 BTUs of air conditioning." He said, "Well then I can't let you shoot here." I said, "That's fine." So I called my crew over and I said, "Hey guys, go get all the exterior shots that you can because we're gonna cheat Mar-a-Lago. We're doing a company move to LA. I just need to establish where we are."
Jeff: Hey, they do it in movies all the time.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely.
Jeff: Just shoot the outside and then the sound stage inside.
Laura: That's exactly what we did.
Jeff: Oh my gosh. That's so funny.
Laura: So we ended up shooting at the Ennis-Brown House, which has been used in a thousand movies. It's a Frank Lloyd Wright house in the Hollywood Hills and we just established that we were at Mar-a-Lago with all our exteriors. So that's my Donald Trump story.
Jeff: That is so funny.
Dustin: That's amazing.
Jeff: But going back, you had said that you kinda just got roped in to writing books then? You basically just got roped into it.
Laura: I did.
Jeff: But now that has taken off into a large part of your career. I mean, I'm not gonna just throw numbers out there, but over 40 books written ... 20 New York Times bestsellers?
Laura: 20 New York Times bestsellers.
Jeff: So I mean, congratulations on all of that.
Dustin: That's incredible.
Laura: Thank you.
Jeff: I kinda want to talk a little bit about ... because I'm very curious about this ... about what your process is like when you get a new project to start, whether it be someone that's writing ... because you've written your own books as well, correct?
Laura: Actually, no. I'm actually just starting my first book on my own.
Jeff: I jumped the gun. I thought it had already came ... You're just starting your other one. So I'm curious as to what maybe the difference is between writing a book from yourself, and to writing a book for another person ... but when you're writing a book for another person, you're always writing in the first person anyways?
Laura: Yeah, I am. I write as the people that I work with, so I have been rock stars, politicians, broadcast journalists. I have been the Mindfreak, a bounty hunter. I have been gay, I've been straight, I've been Mormon, I've been Jewish. You name it, I've been everything under the sun. I write in first person, so I write as a man, you know, anything. It's a fascinating way to see the world because I have to become the people that I work with, and there's an art form to that and it's a lot different than writing an article. You know, you were talking earlier about writing an article about a musician that you met, and it is a totally different style of writing, and it's a challenge really when you want to write something on your own because then you have to find your own. What I do, I really have to have no voice on the page. No opinion. Everything is really, my thought is really irrelevant. I bring a lot to the interview process. My job is to really push the people that I work with to go to that place that is far deeper than you can get in an interview.
For my clients, they will write a book for one of three reasons, really generally speaking. One, somebody told they needed to because they need money.
Jeff: Right. Their manager or PR or whatever like, "Hey."
Laura: Right, sure. So it's a source of income. Two, it's a legacy piece. They've gotten to a place in their career where it's a look back, and sometimes you can have a legacy at a certain time in your life where, let's say, you've gone through something like a disease or a breakup or a divorce and you want to look back and help other people, right? Or you've gotten to a place in life where you're at a stage in life where you really are looking back, like a Kirk Douglas, right? Or it is a, really it's what I will call a PR piece, so we're changing somebody's perception of who we are.
Those are the three reasons that somebody will write a book, and I'll give you a good example of a PR piece. I wrote a book with Elizabeth Smart and her family and it was really important that she wrote that book when she did because there were so many people who wanted to write some version of what happened to her, and she really had to take control of that because there was gonna be a trial, and it was really really important that nobody else had their say before that trial, and truly who could say what happened to her better than ...
Laura: Liz. Right. So it was really important that she did. And there are lots of other reasons. There are, let's say, musicians that have fallen that want to reinvent themselves, and this happens all the time in Hollywood. Things like that, but the books that I really enjoy the most are the ones that I think add value into the world, that really help people live intentionally, help them find their purpose and their meaning, because I think people define success easily, but in living, I think people miss what it's really all about, and that's the purpose.
Jeff: No, I totally agree with that. When you attack a new project, is there a lot of pre-production going into it? Do you have to spend time with the subject just to kind of find that voice, or does that kind of flesh out as you're writing it?
Laura: Yeah, that's really where all the heavy lifting is done. I spend a tremendous amount of time with the people that I work with. I get to ... I think people often think, "Do you live with them? Do you move in with them? Do you get to see in ..." And sometimes I do. I mean I've been on tour with people, I've been on movie sets.
Dustin: What's that like, being on a rock star tour?
Laura: You know, it's interesting. There's a lot of downtime which is the time that I get to work, but you know, life on the road is hard. Life on the road is hard and there's not a lot of glamor that goes into it. I think that it's really a misunderstood experience.
Dustin: I think I hit my lowest low when I was on tour.
Laura: Did you?
Dustin: Yeah. You have such absence of human contact, like actual human connection, that I just felt so drained, like I had nothing left.
Laura: You do feel disconnected and I think when you wake up and you really don't know where you are or what ... There is a sense of disconnection, and especially now, we live in such a digital world where our connection is disconnected anyway. I don't get too philosophical on that, but I feel like for me, my job is to connect dots that are not necessarily being connected anyway, and so the sadness is prevalent and obvious and so, my job is sometimes part therapist, part best friend.
Jeff: I imagine. I imagine, yeah.
Laura: So I become where the dump happens, and it's not always the stuff that ends up in the book, but that's okay.
Dustin: Is that draining on you, to just take on somebody's burden like that, while you're on the road dealing with your own burden?
Laura: It is. Their burden becomes my burden, because you know, we're all energy, right? I take on their energy, and I take on their emotion, and then it's twice as powerful when I start to write it, because now I've taken on their emotion and now I have to write it as me, as I.
Dustin: And you're giving it a name.
Laura: Yeah, and so it really is incredible. The first book I wrote was with Joan Lunden. I wrote three books with Joan, and many years later I got a phone call from Joan ... It was actually three years ago yesterday that I got a call from Joan telling me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Joan, as I said to you when I did her exercise video, it was like I had met my long-lost best friend and we have been best friends really ever since, and when she called to tell me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she didn't really call to tell me as a best friend like, "Hey, I have breast cancer." She called and said, "Hey listen, I have breast cancer and I want you to document it because I can't think of anybody else that I trust enough that could go through this with me but won't miss a beat." So that was a double load for me because my best friend called and told me that she had breast cancer and she wanted me to document it.
Jeff: That's heavy.
Laura: It was really heavy.
Jeff: But I mean, I imagine the aim for that is to help other people dealing with the same thing.
Laura: Oh, I mean, from the minute that she called, our deal was this: I'll do it for you, but your health has to come first, and then we have to make sure that we're putting all the right information out there, and ...
Jeff: Because you don't want to scare anybody, anymore than they're already dealing with it.
Laura: No. What we wanted to do was inspire. What we knew we had to do was inspire, and Joan was incredibly courageous. Not only did I document the words, she documented photographs and videos, and she was absolutely incredible. Not to tell her story over mine, but this is all public and out there. The day that she decided to shave her head, she didn't tell anybody. She walked into like a random barbershop. I mean truly, and some guy named like Jesús or something like that, and her husband was up at ... He went to summer camps and her kids were all scattered, and she just said, "Hey, got anybody here that has a razor?" And she took her iPhone and went ... popped it down and talk about ... and just like, video taped it and shaved her head and that was that. Yeah, because she knew if she did it any other way, it would never happen. God bless that woman. It was power. She took her power, and that's really what it's all about, you know?
That's where your relationships with the people that you work with in these kinds of situations matter. It's a relationship of truth and trust. If they don't trust me, they'll never tell me the truth. They'll never give me the words and the stories that are the reason my books sell, and the reason that they're page-turners.
Jeff: Yeah. Kind of to bookend this line of questioning, when you finish writing the first draft or at least the draft that you're the happiest with, what is the process like from there to publication? Is that on you at that point, or is it something where then you have to give it back to your subject and they have to kind of give you the okay, or "I didn't see that," or ...
Laura: That's a great question. It is such a hard process to hand someone their manuscript.
Jeff: Yeah, because you're them giving them the them that you hope they like, kind of thing.
Laura: Well, I do, and it is holding up a mirror for sure.
Dustin: Gold star, Jeff. That's good.
Laura: It is, you're holding up a mirror, and sometimes it's a mirror that they don't recognize and sometimes it's a mirror that they will push back on.
Dustin: Yeah, that has to be so hard. Oh my god.
Laura: Yeah, and I have had ... Look, I've worked with people who have been in the middle of a divorce in the middle of writing, and I've worked with people who were happily married when we started and were not at the end, and I've worked with people ... There have been all sorts of circumstances that you just can't second guess and you get caught up in the middle of it. One of my favorite quotes is, "The truth is circumstantial. We must strive each day to live in our truth." So to honor your question, I write a first draft and I give it to my clients first because they have total editorial control. 100%. Whatever they want to say, they can say. Today more than ever, from the time that I first started books ... and I wrote my first book in 1994, okay? Totally different world than we live in today. Today anybody can Google anything and ....
Dustin: Yeah. Wikipedia, thanks.
Laura: Yeah, and Wiki is not necessarily true, right, so we can ... But we can Google anything. There are photos of anything, so today I always start out by saying, "You have to live with it. Just know that this is ..." But back then, my clients had the capability of really kind of saying whatever they wanted to say. Today, you better come close to telling the story the way that it really happened, because somebody out there ...
Dustin: They're gonna fact-check you.
Laura: They fact-check you, so we really work hard to get the story as close as we can to the way that it happened, or we put some kind of disclaimer at the top that says, "Hey, this is my recollection of what happened. This is my version of the truth and you know what, that's the way I remember it." And you know, we all live that way. We all live our truth, and we are entitled to tell our story the way that we remember it. You do, I do, you do. That's just the way it is, and if the three of us witnessed an accident, all three of us are gonna see something slightly different.
Dustin: Witness testimony is nothing. There's like, everybody's gonna remember something different. It's really amazing.
Laura: Or what we just see.
Dustin: Yeah, it's like the worst piece of proof is witness testimony.
Laura: Yeah, and how we experience something. We all have relationships, right? So how we experience our emotions and how we experience what we went through, it's different, so it's how we tell it ... Look. Being a storyteller which is essentially what I am, is about capturing emotion, connecting on that level, and making sure that you are being as close to the truth as you can get. If you're writing non-fiction. From that standpoint, my clients will give me back their notes. I mean, I've really had ... I only had one client who ... and this was kind of funny. I work off transcripts, and I only had one client that wanted me to send her the transcripts, and she actually would edit the transcripts, like, "I never said this. I never said this." I'm like, "Well, these are your transcripts. This is what you said." So I would wake up in the morning ... This was when we had thermal paper, like fax, you know? And I would wake up, there'd be piles of changes to the transcript, and that's when you know somebody is just like ...
Dustin: Burying something. Yeah.
Laura: Yeah. There's a lot, you know? There's nothing you can do about that, so you just roll with whatever it is that they want to do.
Dustin: Are you just like, "Yes, whatever you want," or do you maybe kind of sway them to make maybe the wiser choice sometimes?
Laura: I think it depends on the relationship. Look, I've been super lucky to work with ... Truly, I've been so lucky. The people that I've worked with have been awesome, and they trust me. They know that I know what I'm doing. They allow me to give them the advice, but we're all as good as the advice that we'll take, so for the most part, at the end of the day, I don't really have to live with the fallout. They do, so it's their decision, and it's their kids and grandkids that have to know these stories, not mine. My general rule of thumb is, if it doesn't move the story forward, it shouldn't be on the page. I remember when I was working with Jon Bon Jovi and the rest of the band. They all had different reasons for wanting to write the book, which is ultimately why the book never ended up getting written, because Tico had a different reason, and then Richie had a different reason than Jon. When everybody's coming at it for a different purpose, it doesn't work.
Jeff: Yeah, it has no focus.
Laura: Yeah, but you know, if it doesn't ... Sorry, that's my phone.
Jeff: Oh, that's okay.
Laura: It doesn't move anything forward, and they're pretty linear, and Richie just disappeared. But I think I've gotten to a part now where I can really guide somebody and ... I don't write anything salacious. I've never written anything about somebody. I have guidelines, so that's a ... and look, I'll go to the mat with a publisher, for sure. Oh yeah, we had a-
Dustin: Sounds like fun.
Laura: Today more than ever, because publishing is really a whole different beast, but I had a book out called "The Stark Naked 21-Day Metabolic Reset." Great book, probably the best health and fitness book that I've written because it's not a diet book. It really is a lifestyle, okay? They wanted to put the word "diet" on the cover of the book.
Dustin: Because "diet" sells.
Laura: Because "diet" sells, right? We fought them tooth and nail over it. I mean, we went to the mat and we won, because they did not understand ... We also wanted the words "high achiever" on the program, because it was a program for high achievers, and they kept saying, "Well what if I'm not a high achiever?" We kept saying, "Then it's not the program for you. Don't buy my book, because this is not for you. You will fail. If you are an overweight person who thinks that this program's gonna work for you ... and I mean like really overweight, sedentary ... this is not the program for you." And we say that in the book, so even if you've bought the book and you get to like page 3 where we say that, when you get to the place that this is right for you then this is the book for you, but this isn't the book for you.
Dustin: Of course, they just want numbers. They just want-
Laura: Well, they go for the masses.
Dustin: Yeah, and the person who's gonna pick up the diet book is probably the person out of shape.
Laura: Right, who's never gonna use it. So we really ... and this is a guy who, he's the number one Crossfit trainer in the world, he trains elite forces, special teams with the LAPD, Navy SEALs, he's got a professional golfer that he trains ... this guy knows what he's doing, right? I'm not gonna slap "diet" and "masses" on this. Anyway, so yeah, we'll go to the mat and fight the good fight when it's worth it. If a client wants to tell me that something was red or rouge or rose, you pick your color, I don't care.
Dustin: Right. Doesn't matter.
Jeff: At this point now you've worked with just a myriad of different people in different walks of life. You've named some of them, but musicians and fitness people and authors and all sorts of different walks of life. I'm sure every person that you've had to embody has changed your own life a little bit. Do you ever think on some of the experiences you've had and do any of them stand out a little bit farther than others?
Laura: Absolutely. What a great question, thank you. Yes. Really, everybody that I've worked with, I get to cherry-pick ... Think of it this way. I get to live their life lessons, and so there's a lot of stuff that I've been through without actually going through it, which is ...
Jeff: That's probably the best way to go through some things.
Laura: A lot of things. I've been through addiction probably, I don't know, eight, nine, ten times without ever having really been an addict. I have been through rehab I don't know how many times. I've never been through rehab. I have been through ...
Jeff: Been a guy, a bunch.
Dustin: A lot, probably 100 divorces.
Laura: I've shagged a lot of supermodels. Yeah, I did a book with the most famous male supermodel in the world and that was ...
Dustin: Yeah, I saw that.
Jeff: What was his name?
Laura: Bruce Hulse. He was such a nice guy. He actually offered to be my baby daddy, but yeah, his wife wasn't so into it. That's what I mean by relationship. There's such like ... I mean I've worked with amazing people who have been so important to my life, but I will tell you, I think the person ... When I really think about all the people that I've worked with, I have developed incredible friendships. I think I could pick up the phone and call really anybody that I've worked with if I needed anything, but I think John Maxwell is probably the person that had the greatest impact on me because I wrote ... and I think vice-versa, from a client point of view, but I wrote a book with John called "Intentional Living," and it was John's, what he considers to be his legacy book. Now John's written 100+ books, but this was his legacy book and probably the most personal book that he's ever written, and this was hard for John. John has gotten sort of in a ... John, and I want to say this very openly, John has had the same writer for 20+ years, and so the fact that I even was brought in from the outside was ...
Laura: Huge, and I didn't want to step on Charlie's feet at all, his writer. It was very sensitive, but like any athlete, every now and then you've gotta bring somebody in from the outside that just, you know, can see something ... Like when we were out in the warehouse and you guys said you don't smell the coffee anymore, right? I mean, that's really what bringing in was for John. Charlie and John are in such a groove that sometimes you just have to bring somebody in, but what I got from John was, I got really intentional with my writing after working with him, and what became really important to me as a writer, and in my own life, and I realized that ... Look, I said "yes" to just about everything that came along, which hadn't hurt me in any way, but what I became super intentional about was that the books that I wanted to write going forward had to meet a certain criteria. One of the criteria is, as I had said earlier, they really had to serve a purpose and they really had to add value.
That has really worked for me going forward, and with John, the one thing I think ... and John has spoken very publicly about this ... the one thing that he got out of our experience was finding his personal voice, which is something he had never done. In all of those books, John had hidden his personal voice, so that was really a gift I think that we gave to each other, and I really am so honored to have spent the kind of time with him that I did. And I'll tell you somebody else is Tom Ferry, who I really love and adore, and I find myself quoting him a lot.
Jeff: Yeah. He's so smart. Oh my goodness.
Laura: He is. Yeah, he is spectacular, and having written his book and he used it as a platform to really his business. He really had just started. He had left his father's company and had branched off on his own and now Tom is just skyrocketing and he and Gary Vaynerchuk and he's just doing so much in that world, and I'm so proud of what Tom is doing and he's an extraordinary coach in the real estate world, and the Four Addictions are just the greatest thing. That's how Tom got me to write his book.
Jeff: Was telling you that?
Laura: Yeah, the Four Addictions.
Dustin: Wait, what are the Four Addictions?
Laura: Tom kept coming to me and saying, "Will you write my book?" And I kept saying, "I don't want to write a real estate book. Nah, I don't think so." And he's like, "Have I ever told you about the Four Addictions?" And I said, "No."
So what do you think are the four addictions, that just about everybody has at least one of, are?
Dustin: Money, sex, inebriance ... either drugs or alcohol ... and I would say like, pride.
Jeff: You're not saying wrong things, but you're wrong.
Laura: Those are byproducts.
Dustin: I would love to be corrected.
Laura: Do you know what they are?
Jeff: I don't know them all off the top of my head, but I know the addiction to your past, the addiction to ... You're putting me on the spot. Help me out.
Jeff: Drama, that's right. The addiction to ... Yeah, see, I'm on the spot now. It's all over. It's all downhill.
Dustin: I love it when we stump Jeff. That's always tough.
Laura: This is good. I feel like we need the game show music in the background.
Jeff: well, what do we have?
Dustin: "Welcome our new contestant ..."
Jeff: Well, help me out. We have the past and we have addiction to drama. What are the other two?
Laura: The opinions of others.
Jeff: The opinions of others.
Laura: And now you're gonna stump me on the fourth one, wait, because now I'm doing them out of order. The addiction to the past, the addiction to drama, the addiction to the opinions of others, and the addiction to worry.
Jeff: Worry, that's right.
Laura: When you really think about this, all of the ones that you said are byproducts of that.
Dustin: Yeah. Absolutely.
Laura: And you know, everybody ... I will say, when Tom gave me those four addictions, I just thought they were brilliant, and I thought we could build something around that.
Dustin: Yeah. I'm gonna tapped out for the rest of this conversation thinking about this now.
Laura: See? You're addicted to it, you've got an addiction ... Which one of those addictions do you ...
Jeff: Worry. I think it's worry.
Laura: See, but I love when people give me stuff that's so genius like that. I love that. It's working with people at that caliber that every day I get to take that kind of information with me, and every day that I get to then pass that kind of information along. Even sitting here with you guys today, you've had a few "ahas" that I've caught, right?
Jeff: We have a lot of those.
Laura: Nothing makes me feel fuller than knowing if I can pass that along, and I have a daughter that gets ... Every chance that I get, I get to pass that onto her, and she takes it with her. I gotta tell you a great story. My daughter came home from school the other day and she was telling me about this little girl that was ... They were struggling a little bit, and I said, "You know hon, you can't let anybody steal your joy. You can't let anybody steal your joy. Who's in charge of your joy? You are." So the other day I was punishing her or something, and she was crying in the car and she goes, "Momma, you can't steal my joy."
Laura: And I said, "Oh, they do listen."
Dustin: Only when they can use it against you.
Laura: Always, right?
Jeff: Conversely, we've talked now about how you can write a book with someone who kinda opens your eyes, but like you talked about earlier, another way that somebody might contact you to write their book is because they want people's eyes to be open about them because they want to put out a different narrative than what's out there. In one of those books, we actually were talking a little bit before we started recording, you got to work with Justin Bieber, and that is something where you wrote a book about someone who is constantly in the media eye as a specific thing, as a pop star, bad boy image kind of thing, and you were yet able to sit down with someone like that and tell a different story.
Laura: Yeah. Here's the thing. The media loves to take down the hero.
Laura: Here's a kid that works really hard ... Now when I say "kid," I don't mean that today. I think, I mean when he was 12, 13-14 years old, he was hustling. He's got hustle.
Jeff: Yeah. Oh, totally. [crosstalk 00:38:43]
Laura: He had it and he has it, because I would not refer to him as a kid today, and if I did, he would punch me in the face, but he truly ... and he does the work, and that's the thing that I think people really overlook. He is a hard worker. He's in the studio, he's working hard. He's out there on the road, which we were talking about earlier is ...
Dustin: It's not easy.
Laura: It's a grind, and you think a show like his just happens? There is so much work that goes into that staging. He's a songwriter, he's a musician, and he plays all those instruments. He's not up there just air guitar and drumming and ...
Jeff: Yeah, he's an incredible drummer. So good.
Laura: Right. My feeling on Justin is this, that the media loves to take down a hero but the worst thing that I think that the media does, is they taunt. They taunt the hero, and they ...
Dustin: Because they want a reaction, so they can ... Yeah.
Laura: They do. They do, and in the book that I wrote with him, I wrote a piece on paparazzi bullying, because I thought that he had the voice to be able to speak to this, and this piece got picked up by a lot of sources. That what the paparazzi does is a form of bullying, and you know, he never went to a traditional school. He graduated high school, but he didn't go to a traditional school, so bullying is a big issue. It's a big issue that-
Jeff: Totally. I was bullied a lot as a child.
Laura: Yeah, and a lot of kids are bullied and a lot of kids, they don't know how to handle it and they don't handle it well, if they're handling it at all, and there is no ... Sadly, I don't think that it's going away. Again, we have leadership that is not setting good example, at least, you know ... But I think in Justin's case, they poke and they poke and they poke until they get the reaction and then they get the photo, and then they sell the photo for a ton of money.
Dustin: That is such like a typical bully mentality.
Laura: That is exactly what it is, and they will call his mother names, and they will call his sister ... You know, he's got a baby sister, they'll call ... Selena, when he was with her ... And they were going after the people that he loves. Look. I worked with Jerry Springer, and I went to the show, and people would always say, "Are the fights fake?" They always challenged anyone, anytime, "come to any show and you tell us if the fights are fake." The fights weren't fake. They might have been provoked, but the fights weren't fake, and the reason why I say this is because, what happens with the paparazzi is, it's all provoked in those kinds of situations, but the reaction shot that they're getting and what they're creating feeds into this fake news and this era that we're now leaving in that we don't know what's real, what's not real. Here's this shot of Justin going after the paparazzi, but what got him there? It's not right. We don't know the backstory and we don't know that he spent 10 minutes saying, "Guys. Back off. Back off. Back off." Or he's trying to drive away and they block his car.
Jeff: I mean, it's all about the narrative that the media wants to portray, and that just creates this bully society where they believe that it's all right to actually have this behavior, and we eat it up as a media frenzy kind of thing.
Dustin: Gets the most clicks.
Laura: It does. I mean those videos ... I guarantee you that when he was in Manchester this week, that he went and visited. You saw the pictures of Ariana, and you know they're both managed by Scooter. I guarantee you that he was in the hospital, but he would never post the pictures. He is the guy that goes to do the Make a Wish, you know, the kids, but he does not post the pictures, and he's really a special, special guy.
Dustin: Do you think part of that is so he can keep those people out of the limelight and kind of protect them?
Laura: Yeah, I do. I think it's just so he can do ... Exactly. I think you're exactly right, and I think that he's got a really good heart and I loved working with him. I loved working with Scooter's team. I think Scooter Braun is a really standup righteous guy. I love the way he handled this whole event on Sunday, the whole Manchester One Love concert. I thought he really rose to the occasion. I thought everybody that he brought to the show was incredible. I just really loved the message that they and his team put out there, and I admired it a lot, and I think Scooter ... You know, I've known Scooter a long time, and I think that he really set the right tone.
Jeff: Yeah, definitely. One thing we always do on the show and I think it's really poignant with someone like you, you've taken on the lives of so many people and created so many interesting works that you've been privy to, being able to write your books. What fuels you to actually continue to do it, to keep finding that next voice and to take on that next persona and to write that next novel? What fuels you to keep going?
Laura: Thank you for asking that question. Now more than ever, it is about effecting change, which is ... My book coming out called "Blindsided."
Jeff: I've got that right here. Excited about that.
Laura: Yeah. This book comes out on June 13th, and this has been a real labor of love. I got a call from this attorney out of Miami, Jim Ferraro, who took on the chemical component DuPont, on behalf of a boy who was born with no eyes, and his mother was just innocently walking past a You Pick It field, where you can go pick your own strawberries and tomatoes, and she didn't realize ... She was just stopped to watch this tractor which was jerking back and forth, it had gotten stuck in the mud and she didn't realize that ... She thought they were watering the field, and it turned out it was a chemical, and it was odorless and tasteless so she didn't connect that it was a chemical that would be harmful to her, and she was nine weeks pregnant. So she didn't know until her son was born that that was a problem, and in fact, she didn't even know that until two years later.
She got a call from a reporter out of London who had asked her if there was any possibility ... because the condition is so rare, but it's prevalent among workers in agricultural areas and fields and ... Now thing is is that DuPont knew that this was a good possibility when they put this product out. It was their number one rated agricultural product. It was their highest grossing agricultural project, so they took the science that they knew was blinding the mice when they did the studies that they had to conduct to get the product to market. They took the studies and they altered them a little bit so they could got it to market, and they got the product to market to make the market. Jim decided that he would take on DuPont when 12 other very large law firms said, "There's no way to take on DuPont. They'll bury you."
Dustin: Yeah, they're so huge.
Jeff: That's so sad. Can you imagine how many times that's happening?
Laura: It's happening right now. Right now the big case that's happening is Roundup ...
Jeff: The weed killer there?
Laura: Yeah, and so this is happening every day. We're all walking guinea pigs, and Glenn Beck just did a commercial for us for this, and people are starting to get behind ... Christian Slater did the audio for the audiobook for us. We have ...
Dustin: Is that released too, or ...
Laura: That's coming out when the book comes out.
Dustin: I'm a big fan of audiobooks.
Laura: Oh, are you?
Laura: Do you watch Mr. Robot?
Dustin: No, but I'm familiar with it.
Laura: That's his show.
Jeff: That's his show, yeah.
Laura: It's super hot right now, yeah. So I mean, we've just gotten a lot of support because this issue affects everybody. This is a nonpartisan issue. Now with the dismantling of the EPA, this kind of stuff is gonna get worse. So Jim got behind this, not because the case ... Look, this case happened 20 years ago, so it wasn't because the case ... and it wasn't even a big money case. It was because this stuff is still happening and it shouldn't be happening. The chemical companies, the pharmaceutical companies and the tobacco companies, they take their science ... What's really interesting about this case is, it's the landmark case that established what junk science is, and what can and can't be used in the courtroom.
So that science that they used, that they got their product to the market, when they want to be held accountable to that, they literally go into the courtroom and they're like, "Oh, that science? Oh, that was junk. That's junk, you can't use that against us." And Jim established through this case, through this lawsuit, "Yeah, you can be held accountable." It took 10 years. It went to the Florida Supreme Court. They won, and the family was able to provide for their son a good life, not the life that one would think, but a good life. He was able to go to school and learn to live independently and he's now 30 years old. But it's a great story and it's an important story and it's-
Dustin: Why did you go with the title "Blindsided"?
Laura: Because the family did not know until ... He was born totally perfect. Everything, his brain function, his brain function was totally perfect, except he was born with no eyes. Not blind. There were no eyes, and let me tell you, had she walked past that field in her 10th week of pregnancy, it wouldn't have happened, because the ocular development happens in the ninth week. They were blindsided. They had no idea that this was gonna happen. they couldn't-
Dustin: And that's what's happening to everybody.
Laura: Everybody. We're all being blindsided by these exposures that we don't even realize are happening. There was a story ... and I don't want to be a Debbie Downer. I'll tell you one story and we'll let this go, but there was a family that went to St. John last year on a family vacation and they checked into a really nice condo that they had rented, and the condo had been sprayed. I won't name the name of the chemical company that sprayed, but it's a well-known company, and they accidentally used a chemical that was only intended to be used outside, and they used it inside, and the family ... All four members, quadriplegic.
Dustin: Oh my god. Oh, that's ... Oh. That's heavy.
Laura: Yeah. These are things that should not be happening. These are things that should not be happening, and these chemicals should not be-
Dustin: And there's no regulations in place where they have to even talk about what could happen.
Laura: Yeah. The company settled in about a hot minute with this family. DuPont did not want to settle. They took it as far as they could take it. By the way, the product was called Benlate ... It was taken off the market. It was a billion dollar plus product and it was taken off the market because Jim was very successful. We're really excited. This is what I do what I do now, because I want to effect change. I really want to see people's lives get better, not worse, and then every now and then we do something like "You Bet Your Life." This is kind of fun.
Dustin: This is another book that's coming out. It just came out, or it's about to come out?
Laura: No, this just came out.
Dustin: This just came out, yeah.
Laura: And this is kind of fun, because we all live here. This is about horse racing. This guy's legendary. What's so cool about this book, this guy should be dead, like maybe 10 different times. The original title-
Jeff: I know a little bit about him, yeah.
Laura: The original title of this book was "Many Ways to Die," and we just didn't think that was gonna work on the shelf, but this created offshore betting, and this deals a lot with subterranean economy and it deals a lot with his life in dealing with South America and all the characters in [inaudible 00:51:48] and this was before 9/11 when he could bring back bags of cash and they had to take the bills that were like, "These have cocaine on it and these don't." He would go through customs and they would just leave the $100 bills that had the drugs on it in customs and ... This guy is such a character. We just optioned this to ... Oh my god. Jim ... His name just flew out of my head. Jim ... Come on, he did "My Left Foot."
Dustin: Here, wait. Have some BrainJuice.
Laura: Yeah, I know. Thank you. I'll tell you his name in a second, but this is being made into a movie. This is an awesome movie.
Dustin: Awesome. Excellent. Well, I can't wait to read the book first, but ...
Laura: Jim ... Oh my god, his name is right there. I need BrainJuice. I'll tell you in a second, it's right there. Anyway, this story is unbelievable. He's the winningest Canadian jockey in history. Secretariat ran his last race in Canada because of him. There's a great story about Secretariat's kidnapping attempt. There's such great stories in this book.
Jeff: We know a little bit about that, being in the area that we're in, but yeah.
Laura: Exactly. Well, he ran [Nyra 00:52:57]. This is just a great, great, great book. It's a page-turner.