For more than 40 years Lynne has been recognized as a global visionary who is committed to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger, and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. From working with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, to the refugee camps in Ethiopia, and the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, Lynne’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of people’s relationship with money.
I journeyed to the Amazon rainforest with Lynne with my wife and with her husband Bill and a group of other adventurous souls a couple years ago and it changed who I am. I’ve since gone back. I’ve stayed a part of the Pachamama Alliance, the organization that Lynne has started, and in this conversation, we talk about the Pachamama Alliance…what inspired her to start it more than 20 years ago…and also about the humanitarian and philanthropic work she has done around the world…what is means to live a committed life…you’ll hear Lynne talk about not striving for balance but striving for integrity…really incredible perspective—some of what she shares about money…some of the views that she has going beyond the idea of scarcity…Oprah has had her on her show…she’s counseled US presidents…she is truly a leader…and it’s my great privilege to share with you this conversation now. So, I hope you enjoy, and I hope that if you don’t already know Lynne, that by knowing her, she’ll bless your life in similar ways to the ways she’s blessed mine.
[3:10] What life’s about
[6:05] A committed life vs a balanced life
[10:00] Not knowing what you want, but knowing what you’re committed to
[10:20] How Lynne learned to live a committed life
[13:30] Letting go of shame and regret
[20:27] Why Lynne wrote “The Soul of Money”
[27:00] Lynne’s daughter gave her permission to end world hunger
[38:50] Taking a stand—Martin Luther King Jr derived his authority from the stand he took
[42:29] Dinner with Oprah—owning your wealth
[53:16] The tyranny of the rich…a poverty of the spirit
[59:00] The Pachamama Alliance
[1:11:55] Why the tribe chose Lynne
[1:15:57] Lightning round
[1:21:25] Writing tips
Bryan Lynne Intro:
Hello my friends, Bryan here. Welcome to the school for good living podcast. In this episode, the inaugural episode, I talk with Lynne Twist. For more than 40 years Lynne has been recognized as a global visionary who is committed to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger, and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. From working with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, to the refugee camps in Ethiopia, and the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, as well as guiding the philanthropy of some of the world’s wealthiest families, Lynne’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of people’s relationship with money. Her breadth of knowledge and experience has led her to profound insights about the social tapestry of the world and the historical landscape of the times we’re living in. Lynne is also the author of “The Soul of Money, Transforming your relationship with money and life.” That’s Lynne’s bio…on her web site, but I want to tell you about Lynne from my personal experience. I journeyed to the Amazon rainforest with Lynne with my wife and with her husband Bill and a group of other adventurous souls a couple years ago and it changed who I am. I’ve since gone back. I’ve stayed a part of the Pachamama Alliance, the organization that Lynne has started, and in this conversation, we talk about the Pachamama Alliance…what inspired her to start it more than 20 years ago…and also about the humanitarian and philanthropic work she has done around the world…what is means to live a committed life…you’ll hear Lynne talk about not striving for balance but striving for integrity…really incredible perspective—some of what she shares about money…some of the views that she has going beyond the idea of scarcity…Oprah has had her on her show…she’s counciled US presidents…she is truly a leader…and it’s my great privilege to share with you this conversation now. So, I hope you enjoy, and I hope that if you don’t already know Lynne, that by knowing her, she’ll bless your life in similar ways to the ways she’s blessed mine.
Bryan: Well, thank you so much. I’m so excited to have you as the first guest of a podcast that I’m creating.
Lynne: Thank you so much for having me. Let me just say that first. It’s a delight and an honor to be the inaugural speaker and thank you for thinking of me, including me, and having me launch this whole thing.
Bryan: Thanks. So, in just a moment, we’ll talk a little bit about your background and the work you do, but before we get to that, let’s start with the simple question of what’s life about.
Lynne: What’s life about? That’s such a broad question that you could answer it in many ways. But, I’ll just say what my life is about ’cause that’s how I can narrow it a little bit and at least speak from my own truths. I think life is about making a difference, making a contribution. That life is given to us, that it’s a gift, and that it’s a privilege to be alive. So, that gift, that blessing, is there to have the opportunity to bless the world in some way with your life. And so, when we’re in touch with that, life really sings. Life really soars. And so, that’s what my life is about and I invite other people to see it that way ’cause I know it really works.
Bryan: That’s so beautiful. I can tell by having spent time with you over the last few years that those aren’t just words that you speak, but truths that you live. That’s very beautiful. When somebody asks you who you are and what you do, what do you tell them?
Lynne: Well, it also sort of depends on who’s asking me because I have a commitment to speak in a way that honors and respects and speaks into the listening that I’m afforded. So, if it’s a child who asks me that, I answer in a different way than an elder or someone who’s a media person. But, if it’s just you right now, and I know others are listening, you know and I know that one of the things I do is share my life story with people through my book, The Soul of Money. Also, through talks that I give. Through workshops I deliver. Through programs I deliver through The Soul of Money Institute. I also am someone who is deeply committed to bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritual fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet through the work of the Pachamama Alliance. I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother, I’m a wife, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister. For me, the privilege of being alive and being able to connect with both people I’m related to and people I’m not related to through the gift of speaking and listening, is who I am and what I do.
Bryan: It’s so beautiful. I know much of that work you carry out through your Soul of Money Institute. You mention the Pachamama Alliance. I know you work with the Nobel Women’s Initiative. You travel, speak, and coaching. The consulting you do. Recently been on Oprah. How do you manage to balance all of that and still make time for yourself, your health, your family?
Lynne: Well, that’s a wonderful question. I ask myself that question all the time. So, that’s a daily challenge. I’ll say, just to be really, really forthright and honest and transparent. I have such big commitments and I love them and I’m totally committed to my family as well and my own health and well-being. I’ll just tell you a little story in answer to that question. I was once invited to be on the cover of a magazine, a women’s magazine, called Balance. They wanted me on the cover and they wanted me to write or they wanted me to be interviewed for the lead article. I remember when the editor called me and said, “we want to feature you in this magazine.” It was right after the Soul of Money came out, my book. I said, “Oh my God. I think you have the wrong person.” I just don’t think I can relate to the word balance. I have never experienced it. I am a 1000% player, and I’m not even quite interested in balance and I don’t want to insult your magazine, but I don’t seek balance. I actually seek integrity.
That’s different for me. So, if I need to stay up all night to finish a task and then go to my daughter’s grandparent’s day for her children, I will do that. If I need to do something extraordinary to keep my word with the Nobel Women’s Initiative, like fly all night to Bangladesh to be there for an emergency, I will do that if I’ve given my word. So, no one would look at my life and call it balanced. But they would call it a life of joy and happiness and full out participation and full self expression. To me, that is the commitment I have, and as I say, what I seek is integrity. Being whole, keeping my word, being someone who lives a committed life and can be counted on. Often, that might look like someone who’s totally out of balance, but for me, that’s just not the experience. So, I think balance is great. It’s just not my word or what I seek. At the same time, I must say raising a family and being a full on pro-activist, which is really who I am, a pro-activist. Someone who’s an activist not against.
Bryan: It’s a beautiful distinction, by the way.
Lynne: I used to call myself an activist. Then I realized, no. I’m a pro-activist. A global pro-activist. An activist for, not against, and not a naïve pro-activist. I know what’s in the way of the vision that we all hold. I’m not afraid to address it, but I don’t focus on what’s in the way or what’s wrong. I focus on the vision and what’s working. So, anyway. That is … It’s challenging being a global pro-activist and raising a family and now having grandchildren. At the same time, I’ve found that somehow when I’m telling the truth, when I’m in my dharma, when I’m have integrity, it all works. That’s really the answer to your question.
Bryan: What an interesting perspective, to see integrity over balance. I’ve never heard that before, but thank you for sharing that. So, the next few questions I have are about your book, the Soul of Money. For a book to be in demand, in print, purchased, talked about, read for so many years, it’s obviously gotta do something for people. I’m curious who did you write this book for? Who were those people and what did you want it to do for them? And, what is it doing for them?
Lynne: It’s interesting. I love your question and I don’t know that I wrote it for anyone in particular when I wrote it. I now see that it is for a certain kind of person, but when I wrote it, what really inspired it is that I’d been given such an amazing life. I call myself a person living a committed life where my commitments guide me. My commitments get me up in the morning. My big giant commitments. My desires have fallen in the background. I don’t even know what I want, I just know what I’m committed to.
Bryan: How did you learn that? Where did you learn this concept of living a committed life?
Lynne: Well, I think one of the biggest things for me was the landmark forum. When I took it, it was the est training. Everybody, I think, when they find their way, they either get it through meditation or a guru or maybe a Christian upbringing or maybe a moment of revelation. For me, this two weekend training in the early ’70s called the est training just totally woke me up. I mean it was a miracle for me.
Bryan: Why did you take it? What motivated you to sign up for such a life changing seminar?
Lynne: It was inconvenient. I had little kids at the time. They were, I think, two, four and six or three, five and seven. Very … Maybe even younger than that. My friend, Sandy … Sandy and I knew each other for many years and I saw her at a party. I hadn’t seen her in a couple months. I looked at her and she was practically glowing. She was radiant, she was … Her vitality was just jumping out of her body. She had lost weight. Her eyes were so bright. I went over to her, saw her across the room and I thought … I said, “Sandy. What happened to you? I can feel something’s occurred. You not only lost weight, that’s so obvious. But, something else is going on.” She said, “Well, I took this amazing thing called est training. I can’t explain it. There were 250 people in a room, and one guy. One person called the trainer. I can’t even explain it to you, but I came out of it. I feel completely transformed. There’s an event next week and I’d be happy to take you and you can learn more yourself.”
I knew, after I had that conversation with her, I was going to do this thing whatever the heck it was. Then, of course, I went to an event and signed up. Bill signed up too, my husband, but he was suspicious. What are we talking about and we don’t want to do this thing and this is crazy. That was kind of his, a little bit skeptical attitude, but he signed up. Then, when it came right down to it, he said, “you do it first.”
Bryan: So, you didn’t do it together.
Lynne: Yes. That’s kind of the way we do it. I did it first. I took the big plunge. I came back so fired up, so in touch with who I am. So freed up from baggage I didn’t even know I had from my childhood. Things that are just kind of cleared up, as they say in the est training, or this is one of the phrases they used in the process of life itself. He observed me. I mean, married to me and knew me very, very well. After I came back the way I was was so … I was so much freer, so much happier, so much easier to get along with with, so much less burdened. Not that I was burdened before, I didn’t even know I was.
Bryan: Lynne, what did you … If you’re willing to share, what did you let go of? I mean, you talk about being freer, but what was it that you let go of that made you lighter?
Lynne: Well, that requires a little bit of a story, if I can tell you a story. Is that okay?
Bryan: If you’re willing, absolutely.
Lynne: Oh yeah. Okay so, so I took the est training in January of 1974 and my children were, if I’ve got this right, One, three, and five. So, I had little kids. My husband Bill was a very, very successful … He had gotten his MBA and he had gotten by a big company and he was starting to make a lot of money. I was a little bit tied down with three little kids. I was trying to keep up with the Jones’s, if I can use that phrase. Everybody in his firm was … They were starting to be paid really, really well. They were closing these gigantic deals. We thought we were supposed to start collecting art and understand French wine and drive around in a certain kind of car. I mean, we really got caught in the … We were, at that time they used this term, yuppies. Just the up and coming new wealth. I was very uncomfortable with that, but didn’t know I was uncomfortable with that, let’s say. I was sort of just trying to be pretty and thin and smart and be the perfect … Being able to do gourmet dinners and understand wine. I was kind of like on a track that was inauthentic.
Bryan: Like maybe caught up in [crosstalk 00:13:03]-
Lynne: … Is the word I would use now. I was totally caught up in it. In the est training, one of things I let go of was all of that. How I let go of it, I can’t explain because the est training for me was miraculous and almost magical. But, there was a whole chain of shame and regret, you could say, that I had around my own father who died when I was 12. The story is this. I’ll give you my short version.
I’m a musician. I’ve been a musician all my life. My father was a very, very fine musician. My grandmother was an opera singer. My father was an orchestra leader and he was a pianist and he was a fabulous musician. Of the four children, I’m the third in four kids. I was the one who was going to be a great musician, too. Everybody had to play the piano, everybody had to take ballet, everybody had to take tap. We all had to do all that stuff because that was our world. And singing lessons and everything. But, I was the one, according to my dad and mom, who had the real talent. Or that was … They didn’t say it that way, but that was the burden I carried. I had a real affinity for the piano and I had a piano teacher who was quite strict named Mrs. Block. She was kind of old and smelly, to tell you the honest to God truth. I was supposed to practice my piano, my scales, my Mozart, all that stuff, a certain number of minutes or hours everyday. I can’t remember now. My dad was away and I stopped practicing. I just sort of went on a little bit of a hiatus. There was too many things to do, it was too much fun. This thing and that thing and my friends and I stopped practicing for a week.
When Mrs. Block came, and she came ever Thursday morning at 7:30 am before school, I did something that was very sneaky. I had an assignment notebook that she always wrote in in pencil. It would say, Bach page four and five in pencil. It would say Canon, page seven and eight, scales D and C. She always wrote in pencil. One week, when I didn’t practice, I erased Bach page four and five and I put page two and three, which I had played the week before and I knew. I erased Mozart whatever it was, page seven and eight and put five and six. I erased the scale D and F and put the scales that I’d played the week before. I very carefully erased it and copied her handwriting and repeated the week’s lesson from before because she was kind of an old lady and-
Bryan: That was sneaky.
Lynne: … thought she wouldn’t see.
Bryan: Very sneaky.
Lynne: And, then … Very sneaky. When she played … When she came, I played very skillfully the same stuff I’d played the week before and she didn’t even notice. So, the next week, I started getting nervous on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday, realizing I didn’t practice again, and I did it again. And then I did it again. I don’t know how many weeks I did it, but I did it for so long. I mean, might have been three weeks, it might have been four, it might have been six. But, I got so good at Bach page three and four, Mozart page six and seven ’cause I played the same thing every week for her. She praised me and told my father I was doing so well. Then he died.
Now, you would think that has nothing to do with that, but as a little girl. Now, I wasn’t that little, I was 12. He died the day before my birthday. He died in his sleep, in the middle of the night, from a heart attack. He was 50 years old. We had no clue he was at all … He wasn’t unhealthy. None of that. But, I had lied, really to my father. And when he died, I never knew this until the est training, I thought it was my fault, and I had a deep scar on my heart for all the years from age 12 until age 29 when I took the est training. That I had somehow killed my father by lying, by lack of integrity, by not practicing the piano.
Now, that’s silly and everybody knows that’s not true, but I did not even know that this was inside my little 12 year old heart and that it festered in there and made me unworthy as a human being until I took the est training. When I freed myself and let go of the shame, the regret, the lying, the lack of integrity and really disaggregated that set of actions from the death of my own father. So, that’s the big, big, big thing that happened to me in the est training. Out of that freedom, a burst of happiness and joy and sense of self worth and self esteem just burst into my life. So, that’s … Sorry for the long story, but that’s actually the answer to your question.
Bryan: So, we caught on that topic as I was asking who you wrote the book for and what you wanted it to do for them and I think you mentioned that when you wrote it, you didn’t necessarily know who you were writing it for, but what did you want the book to do? How did you want the world to be different as a result of writing the Soul of Money?
Lynne: Well, I carried around a sense of responsibility that I’ll share because this is really why I wrote it. I realized that I had, out of living a committed life, which I spoke about just a few minutes ago, I had ended up working up with Mother Teresa in India. I had ended up being in Ethiopia after the 1984, 1985 famine with people who lost every child to the starvation. I had been in war zones and seen people come out of war with resilience and love and compassion for one another. I’d been in truth and reconciliation commissions. I had met Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. I had had a life that you could not plan. I realized that this life wasn’t for me. This life is a life that I am a conduit for sharing these lessons that I learned from fundraising and philanthropy, particularly about money, working with some of the most resource poor people on earth and some of the most resource rich people on earth, as a fundraiser and someone working to end world hunger were lessons that were so unique that I was carrying wisdom that was much more than my years and wisdom that I’m sure wasn’t just given to me for me.
It was given to me for me to share. I got that because I was making a speech at the State of the World Forum, which was a big meeting convened by President Gorbachev. All the great leaders of the world were there. A thousand leaders. Jane Goodall was there. Carl Sagan was there. Desmond Tutu was there. George Bush was there. George Shultz. Gorbachev. All the great people. This is 1995 and I gave a speech there about the Soul of Money. It was my first real public expression of what I’d learned about money through my work with Mother Teresa and working with resource poor people in Ethiopia and Bangladesh. I got a huge … I was a young, kind of not well-known, compared to the other people there. I got this huge standing ovation and it was shocking to me.
I was scared to death before I made this talk, and so at the end of the standing ovation, I got off the stage. People, how they do, want to talk to the speaker. Three different literary agents said “you need to write a book about what you just said.” Three different [inaudible 00:21:04] and there were like 20 people who talked to me, or 30. I don’t know. It just sort of stunned me. I said, “I can’t write a book. I’m working on ending world hunger. I don’t have the time to do that.” So, I just ignored it and considered it a lovely compliment. But then, more and more people … It was almost like a stream of people, no matter where I went, no matter what I did. They started saying “you should write a book.” And I started feeling like, “Oh my God. I don’t know how to write a book.” I’m not an author. I’m an activist. I’m a pro-activist.
But then, in a setting in Washington D.C. where I sat at a table at a dinner I was invited to, I sat next to a man who is a famous author. His name is Jim Wallace. I asked him, I said, “how did you start writing your books?” He said, “Well, I got the best co-writer. He or she was so good that I was able to continue my work and write this book. I got a great literary agent.” And, he told me the name of his co-writer and his literary agent and I thought, “God. Maybe I should consider doing it just the way you did it.” That was on a Wednesday night. Then, Thursday morning I went to another meeting in Washington and I sat next to someone else who was pretty famous writer and I asked them, “How did you start writing your book?” They told me the exact same thing, gave me the exact two names. I thought, “this is too weird.”
Then I went home. I looked in my file, looking for something. I ran across a file from the State of the World Forum. After that speech that I gave, the literary agents who had spoken to me, two of them wrote me after that. I looked up the two names and one of them was the same name as the Thursday night dinner companion told me and the Thursday morning dinner companion told me. I said, “These are too many signs.” So, I called her. Her name is Gail Ross. She’s in Washington D.C. She’s a literary agent. She said, “I heard you speak. I’m so glad you’ve called me. You have a book in you. I will find you a collaborative writer. The perfect person for you. We’re going to get this book out there.” And she made me do it. So, I owe a lot to her.
I thought I was incapable and I’m just saying this for anybody who thinking they can’t do it. I thought I was incapable of writing a book, but the truth is, if you have a message, and everyone does, and you want it to go out into the world. I felt the responsibility, not for whom was the book, but I was carrying so many teachings that I couldn’t just hold them for myself. I knew they weren’t just for me. That it was my responsibility to share them with whoever would listen. That’s kind of the audience I had at the very beginning.
Bryan: No, that’s a beautiful … It’s a beautiful story. One thing I’m really interested to know here is I think for many people, although it’s almost impossible not to respect and admire your journey, your experience, your courage, I think for many people, maybe, it occurs as like impossible. Or, it’s unrelatable. I mean, I heard you say you were 29 years old when you completed the training. You had kids, you were married, you had a home, this kind of thing. Then, you go and you’re making speeches. International gatherings with world leaders. Help me understand how a person can follow that journey. Going from where they are, where everybody wants to make a difference. Everybody wants to contribute. But, it just seems so unrealistic.
Lynne: Well, it is unrealistic. That’s the honest to God truth. It’s unrealistic. It’s difficult. There’s no formula. The how is a mystery to me, too.
Bryan: That’s not helpful then.
Lynne: I know. I know. I will tell you how I really made peace with it was when I got to a point three years into the Hunger Project, which really was the thing that captured my heart and soul. After I took the est training, the Hunger Project began. A commitment to end world hunger and it became a world-wide commitment and a very significant organization that I was part of at the very beginning. Three years into that, I thought I was just gonna volunteer for a little while, for two or three months, and then three years later, I was all over the world. I was one of the leaders. I couldn’t stop. I remember coming home from a trip abroad and sitting down with my kids, and this is when they were now four, six, and eight or maybe five, seven and nine, and sitting down on the floor of our family room with Bill, my husband, and my three children and I was just sobbing.
I said to them, “I want you to know that I didn’t mean to miss the soccer championship and not be there for Spring Sing or miss the parent teacher conference, but this commitment to end world hunger is just taking me over and I didn’t know that it would take me over the way that it has and that I would become so completely dedicated and committed. I just want to let you know, I don’t think I can stop. I thought I could just do it for a while, but I can’t. I think this is my path. I think this is why I was born. I’m doing it for you, in so many ways, but I need your permission to continue.”
My daughter … Okay, so my kids are sitting on the floor and Bill’s sitting there. My daughter, who’s in the middle … Her name is Summer. I think she was seven, maybe. She said the following. She said, “mom. If you can end world hunger, we don’t want you taking us to the orthodontist. Someone else can do that. We’re so proud of you, mom. You’re the coolest mom. Everybody wants to know where you just were. We have the coolest things for show and tell.” And other kids … My sons, the older one and the younger one, chipped in, “Yeah. Other kids … They, at spring break, they go to Aspen and Disneyland. We go to Micronesia. We have Ethiopians staying in our guest room. We have astronauts at the breakfast table. Mom, you’re the coolest. Don’t worry about us. We’re fine.” I was sobbing. And they really gave me their permission.
Bryan: Wow. And, what about Bill? What about your husband? [crosstalk 00:27:50] How did he respond?
Lynne: Well, he’s the best guy in the entire world, of course. I’ve been married to him for 51 years. He just is like a rock. He only wants for me what makes my heart sing. It makes me cry to say it. He just wants that, and always has been that way. He’s such a confident, centered, whole, healthy human being. He’s the healthiest, emotionally, physiologically healthy human being I’ve ever met. He’s totally centered in himself. That actually made it all possible because he was fine with me doing what was my dharma, you could say. He was also very successful financially so we had a wonderful live-in nanny and he was such a rock and also, we were in a collection of families. This wonderful phrase, it takes a village. Such a wonderful collection of families who were involved in the Hunger Project. All of us caring for each other’s kids. Whole families have moved in with us and lived with us, in some cases for years at a time. So, we have really run our home, and we still run it, there’s people staying here right now, like a village. Like a home for people who are committed to doing great things in the world.
And I missed things. I just gotta say this. It was heartbreaking when I missed a plane for the soccer championships. I’ll never forget it. I was heartbroken when I missed another connection and couldn’t get to my son’s performance of Ave Maria in Grace Cathedral. There were things I missed and I regret that. At the same time, the benefits to my family for the work that I did. They have a safety net all over the world, in countries people can’t even pronounce. They’re comfortable in those countries. All three of my children speak three or four languages. They’re global citizens. They were by the time they were 11, 12 and 13.
There were huge trade-offs and huge benefits. But, we stayed the course and we communicated. That’s really key. We communicated. We stayed in communication no matter where I was and we communicated when we couldn’t keep our word. We apologized and we went forward.
Bryan: Amazing. Really amazing. So, part of what I’m hearing in what you’re sharing is that how you did it, if someone were trying to break this down or see what they could pattern their own lives after, of what you did. So you, first of all, were on a path of growth and development and that was the est training. You went through that. Then, you went beyond that and put your hand in the air and said, “I want to be a leader in some of these efforts.” So, there was this effort of leadership in some [crosstalk 00:31:05] Hunger Project, obviously. Perhaps other things. Is that accurate?
Lynne: Yes. I don’t … yes. Let’s see. Part of this is from the technology around the est training. There’s a lot of language that I use and I still draw from and I know you do too. One of the things that happened for me, I found the power of taking a stand. Taking a stand is distinct from taking a position. When you take a position, you generate it’s oppositions. So, we creates they. Us creates them. Right creates left. Up creates down. Conservative creates progressive. You know, liberal. But when you take a stand, you transcend positionally. You find your, what I would call, calling. Your reason for being. Your why you were born. I found my stand early in my life, and it was really through the Hunger Project. So, when you take a stand, things sort of clear up around you. There’s a space that becomes available and then you’re invited to take roles, in my case leadership roles, that are consistent with your stand. They become a compelling and irresistible opportunity to express your stand.
So, I didn’t seek leadership exactly. I wasn’t looking for power or visibility or fame, but I knew what I stood for. I still know what I stand for. When there’s a leadership position or a role to play that’s a fit for that, then I gravitate towards that. That’s been a life path.
Bryan: I see. I think that’s a key distinction that the leadership was an expression of the stand that you took or the stand that you are and not that leadership was something you sought for the benefits or the ego or anything like that.
Lynne: Yes, and I have an ego and I love it when somebody acknowledges me or when they ask me, tell me, I’m worthy of being the chairman of their board or something like that. I do get caught in those things. But, I must say, the total blessing of this distinction of taking a stand frees you from your identity because when you take a stand, my assertion is any stand-taker … Martin Luther King was a stand-taker. Nelson Mandela was a stand-taker. Mother Teresa’s a stand-taker. People that we all admire. You take a stand for something that actually cannot be accomplished in your own lifetime. So, it frees you from having, from being able to take any credit because you are actually unlocking something that will probably not get accomplished in a way that you can even see its result. That detaches you from outcome and then you’re working towards the direction of a miracle. Ending world hunger may happen in my lifetime now, but I didn’t really know if it would or wouldn’t. But, I know it will happen and I will have made a contribution to that.
When you take a position, you are locked in your point of view, the way you see it. Your point of view becomes very important to you. When you take a stand, you can see all points of view and they all contribute. Our committee said give me a place to stand and I’ll move the world. And you can and you do. I think people like Gandhi. He didn’t say “I want to be a leader.” He took a stand and so around him, things galvanized in a way that he became the leader of the movement. I don’t know if I’m communicating, but that’s how I see it.
Bryan: So, I heard you say when you discovered. Right? When you … ’cause what I’m wondering is a stand something somebody discovers? Or do they just wake up one day and they make a declaration or they write it down? Or, as a practical matter, how does one go about defining what their stand is and then living from that?
Lynne: Well, excellent question. Another one of these questions that I can’t … You know, when I can’t answer a question, I just tell a story. But I really … I can’t tell you how. I know that one of the things that I do and I think every stand-taker does and I think you are a man who’s taken a stand … Around a stand-taker there is what we call, in our way of speaking, a clearing. A clearing. That means that the clutter, the petty thoughts, the judgments, the is he doing it better than I am, or don’t leave me out, or all those petty thoughts that we have about the doubts and fears and insufficiencies and scarcity that we have inside of us clear up around a stand-taker. You become inspired or inspirited to find your stand. So, if you just think about Martin Luther King. Just think about him for a moment. Or if you remember on January 15th, when they play his speeches, I always listen to NPR, National Public Radio, and they play his speeches pretty much all day. You just hear his voice, the cadence of his voice, and you sit up straighter. You’re inspired. Whatever you’re bothered about falls away. You start to be a better human being.
I say a stand-taker creates that kind of a feel. They don’t go around telling people, “you should be a better human being.” No. Just thinking about Gandhi, reading his words, thinking about … Now, I worked with Mother Teresa so I can tell you what that was like. But, I think about Jane Goodall. I think about Nelson Mandela. I think about Vaclav Havel. I think about people that I distinguish as stand-takers. They were never doing it for the money. No one gave them their authority. They derived their authority from the stand they took. No one gave Martin Luther King any authority. He became a global phenomenon because he derived his authority from the stand he took. The same thing with Gandhi. He had no real position. Not in the government or anything. He derived his authority from the integrity of the stand that he took, and that creates a field where other people have the space and a clearing, I’ll call it, to discover their stand.
So, the answer to your question is yes, yes. You discover it and you take it. It’s like you discover it and then you claim it. If you discover it and you don’t claim it, it lies fallow. If you try to claim it or force it, it’s not authentic. So, it’s a yes, yes. Yes, you do discover it and yes, you must articulate it, claim it and live it.
Bryan: So is this something that anyone can do?
Lynne: I believe every single human being on this planet came into life to make a difference and maybe is not aware of that. Maybe has given up on that. Maybe is not in touch with that, but that’s my … I can’t prove that, but that’s my assertion. I believe it’s available to every single person, and I’ll tell you, working with people in resource poor situations … I never call people poor because I don’t consider people poor, I consider the resources or the circumstances they live in poor. But, the people living in resource poor conditions, like Liberia after that war or Mozambique after that war or Ethiopia after that famine or even my beautiful colleagues in the rainforest or the people that I’ve known in India that are often considered untouchables, each one of those human beings, when given the opportunity, can make an extraordinary difference with their life and that’s really, I think, all they really want. They don’t know they can so they don’t even pursue it.
Bryan: That reminds me of something I recently heard Alice Walker said the most common way people give up their power is by not believing they have any.
Lynne: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.
Bryan: Amazing. So tell me, back to the book and the Soul of Money, why did you call it that?
Lynne: Well, that title came from my friend Wink Franklin who used to be the executive vice-president and CEO of the Institute [inaudible 00:40:23] Sciences where I was on the board. He created a workshop and asked me to speak at it. He said, “Let’s just call it the Soul of Money ’cause you’re so soulful and you can talk about money. [inaudible 00:40:33] let’s just call it that.” I thought, “Oh, that’s a cool title.” It’s sort of a trick title and then I realized I want to name the book that because nobody thinks of soul and money really in the same sentence. I mean, they just don’t fit because we sort of sell our soul for money. We don’t really bring money and soul in close proximity in our own lives. So, I thought if I said the soul of money, even though money doesn’t have a soul and I don’t believe that it does, we have a soul and we can use money with soul. So, it’s a little bit of a trick title. Soul of Money to get people intrigued enough to open that book and see whether or not they want to read it and buy it. I didn’t think of it as a trick title so much but it just sort of worked. When I heard that phrase, it clicked for me. When I talked to the publisher, it clicked for them and so there you have it.
Bryan: That’s great. That’s very unusual that the author’s title, what effectively is a working title, makes it all the way through to be the title of the book. But, this one was a good fit.
Lynne: That is true.
Bryan: So, it’s great.
Lynne: That’s true.
Bryan: So, I know you’ve been sharing messages around this topic of money for many, many years and even not too long ago had the opportunity to be on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday, talking about this.
Lynne: I did.
Bryan: I understand that she invited you to dinner at her home, along with four young women from South Africa who are part of her leadership academy. You had the chance to spend the evening with them, helping them navigate the world of money. What did you tell them?
Lynne: Well, oh my God. I love your questions, Bryan. They’re so good. Well, first of all, being with Oprah was over the top amazing, like everybody listening knows it would be. She’s ten times more wonderful than you think she is. You start thinking she’s amazing. When she asked me to stay for dinner and Sarah Vetter was with me. The two of us walked up to her mansion from the grove where we did the interview together. The four girls from South Africa walked with us and Oprah said, “I really want to you to talk to them about money because they’re” … Two of them are going on to, I think, law school. They just graduated from college with incredible Phi Beta Kappa and all kinds of awards. Someone else was getting a PhD, going for a PhD at Oxford. Another one was doing some other amazing post-graduate education. She said, “They will eventually go back to some of the most resource poor places on earth. Their whole families and community will be waiting for … and here they are living at my house,” Oprah says. They’re gonna be … Everybody’s going to have their hand out and think that these young women are going to save them financially. So, I need you to talk to them and give them any wisdom you can about money.
So, here we are. We’re at Oprah’s terrace, okay? Overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s so beautiful it makes you weep. We’re getting served by iced tea by one of the wonderful people that works in her home. It’s Oprah, my friend Sarah, my colleague Sarah, and the four women and me. And Oprah’s telling me now, “okay. Talk to them.” So, I thought “what in the world do I have to say to these four amazing young women?” I kind of interviewed them. Where are they from? And about your family. Tell me about your studies and so that I could get a little sense of who they were. After that, I really didn’t know what to say to them. I turned to Oprah and I said, “You know what Oprah? I think your story of your life, being born in poverty. Being born to a mother who in the beginning of her life didn’t want you. Getting pregnant yourself when you were 13 years old and having a baby that then died. Going from place to place. Your life and now being one of the richest women on this planet. Your life experience is way more relevant to them than mine. I don’t know that I can share with them anything that’s as relevant as you sharing with us your story with money.”
Well, when you invite Oprah Winfrey to tell a story, she knows how to do it. So, she launched into her story. And she told the girls and myself and Sarah her journey with money and she never told it from that lens before. She’s told millions of stories, you know, on television about her life, her sexual abuse, and all the things that happened. Terrible, terrible happened to her and the miracle she created out of it. But, she’d never looked at it through the lens of money until my inquiry, my question, my request. She shared coming out of poverty, being black and poor, and unwanted and doing anything she could to even find enough self esteem to take the next step to take the next breath to not kill herself, particularly when her … gave birth to her baby at age 14 and it died a day later or two days later. Her mother disowned her at that point. Her story from rags to riches, which is such a trite phrase but that’s exactly what happened to her, was so relevant to their life and so fabulous because what she’s done with her wealth is own it.
It didn’t happen right away. She told beautiful stories about going into a store and seeing two pairs of shoes … This was when her salary was already $100,000 and she couldn’t believe it. She was with a friend and she saw two pairs of shoes and she liked them both and she couldn’t decide which to buy. Her friend said, “Oprah, you can buy both of them,” and she said, “I can.” It was kind of like stories like that. Simple little stories that were revelatory in her life. At one point, there was a point where her relatives or people who claimed to be her relatives came to her to ask for money. Most of them from poor black communities in Tennessee or in Kentucky or Missouri or Mississippi. Places where they claimed to be related to her, whether she knew they were or not, and she didn’t know how to deal with it. They kept coming in droves, trying to get her attention. At one point, after keeping track of who came to her, who she thought was perhaps really related to her or worthy of a gift, she gave a huge amount of money away to her … the people who told her they were her relatives.
She gave it away to them in a way that she also gave them access to a trust officer that she hired and paid for who would help them take that money and actually invest it well and have a sustainable life. Not all of them did that. Some of them came back two years later and wanted more, but she said “no, that’s it.” That day, when she gave that money away, which was millions of dollars, she told us, and this she had never, I think, said this before, but this is what I remember from our conversation with her. It was so moving to me. She said “that was the day that I owned my wealth for the first time. After I completed my guilt of being a poor black woman who had made so much money that I couldn’t really own it. I couldn’t feel that I deserved it. Once I had taken care of the people that were my kin and given them a chance to have a health and productive life, I knew I was done with the guilt and I owned my wealth for the first time. I realized this wealth is mine, I earned it and now I’m going to make this world a better place with this money.” That moment for her … I was crying. We were all crying when she talked about this … was so significant.
It gave the girls and me and I’m sure probably people hearing this story now, an opportunity to see really what money, especially when you have more money then you need, what it’s really for. It really is not yours. It’s entrusted to us, yes, to nourish our life in whatever ways we really need it. But then, if there’s more then we need, the job is to pass it on where it’ll do the most for the world and that really it isn’t ours, even if we earn it. We need to own it and then let it go. So, it was a beautiful answer to her question to me, which I bounced back to her and she answered it in ways I never could have for those girls.
Bryan: Wow. It sounds like maybe Oprah has a book about money that’s co-authored by Lynne Twist in the future.
Lynne: Oh. Wouldn’t that be fun. Oh my God.
Bryan: One thing I’d like to ask you is about some of the misconceptions that exist for people around money. I’ve heard you talk about the difference between referring to a person as a poor person or a rich person and even in this conversation, you referenced what we’re really talking about is their circumstances. It’s not the person. So, when we use these labels, we’re doing something. Will you talk a little bit about that?
Lynne: Yeah. I think that’s one of the biggest problems in the economic dialogue or narrative that we all participate in and what I would call the consumer culture or the money culture that devalues human life and exults money. We actually refer to people, now, we used to call them citizens. That label’s very honorable.
We now call ourselves consumers. Consumers. That word is an ugly word for a human being. It means he or she who takes, depletes, diminishes or destroys. That’s the devolution of humanity’s view of itself compared to this thing called money. We put money way, way, way higher than ourselves. We will kill for money. We’ll steal for money. We’ll hurt for money. We won’t speak to a relative for years over a money issue which says money’s more important than that human being or that relationship. This whole labeling that we do, and I’ll go back to the way you asked this question.
I did used to call people poor. I called people poor. I called them poor people. But, when you think about that label and what that does to a human being, what that says about a human being, people aren’t poor. In fact, when you actually get to know people that I used to call poor, people in post-war situations or people in places where there’s not enough food or water, they are so resilient. They are so creative. They have to be. They are super intelligent or they wouldn’t be alive anymore. They may not know how to read or write, but they have to be creative and they have to be unbelievably courageous to live through every single day more courage than most of us will ever need in our lifetime.
So, I refrain from those labels. I even think lower class, middle class, all of those things are so unfortunate and I try to not use them.
Bryan: Yeah, this is a bit of a term in psychology. The Pygmalion Effect. When somebody is labeled something and then it’s like they prove the truth of that label.
Bryan: Right? What you’re saying … And, in this, this was something-
Lynne: Yes, exactly.
Bryan: … that I had never considered before I read your book and I heard you talk about this, but you talked about something that happens with people who have money. And, here you talked about the tyranny of the rich. This kind of thing. A poverty of the spirit. Will you say a little more about that?
Lynne: Well, I don’t know exactly how to say this in a way that it doesn’t apply to all people of wealth. I just want to make sure I say that because I know I’m talking to you and you’re such a special human being yourself and you navigated a family of wealth with incredible grace. The difficultly is how to raise children in that situation in a way that they’re normal and not entitled. The difficultly is how to actually show up as a full, complete human being with problems and wishes and dreams and disappointments. Because wealth can often ease life so much, that people of great wealth often don’t have to rub up against what I call the sandpaper of life. They can bypass some of the tough-
Bryan: What are some examples by the way [crosstalk 00:56:50]. What do you mean?
Lynne: … The tough things that forge and help us be better people. They can … Well, suppose you’re in a crowded airport and there’s a snowstorm somewhere and everybody is stranded. It seems like it’s a great equalizer but you know, it’s really not because there’s this lounge over here and then there’s this hotel in the airport that’s too expensive for most people but people with money get to just go get a nice room and a massage.
Bryan: Yeah, yeah. I get it. And yeah, as someone who has grown up in a family of wealth and who has many friends who are in established families, one of the things I see is that challenge of how to not only steward the wealth responsibly but figure out what’s my identity within it. What’s my contribution? My question for you, then, is if this is a situation that people of wealth or privilege, which admittedly there’s a lot of comfort, a lot of opportunity for many people, how can we avoid that trap, so to speak?
Lynne: Well, gosh. It’s in the whole act of raising children. I can say a few things about that. I can also say that one of the things that I’ve learned … this is not the answer to your question, but I’ll just say it. In working with many families of wealth, which is the great gift I have of having written the book the Soul of Money, it draws sometimes families of great wealth to come to me with their challenges. I’ve learned that inside of the dark hallways of many of those families, bulimia, anorexia, addiction, abandonment issues are so intense because I think people think that they don’t deserve the life they’ve been given. And so, they make themselves wrong. They’re empty. Now, not all people are like this, of course, but it’s … How we gain our confidence is by breakdowns and break throughs. We really do. That’s how we … When you’re building muscles, I’ve never been a weight lifter but the weight lifter people tell me or whenever I was in any kind of fitness program, you got to break the muscle down, and then you build it back up again. That’s how you grow your strength.
The same thing is true with a life. You need to allow people to … People need to have the gift of failure and then pick themselves up from failure and out of that become stronger and confident that they can … They’re resilient enough to get through it.
Allowing people to face the music of life. Maybe giving them the support they need to get through it, but not doing it for them is one tenant, I would say, that I think we all know but I’ll just say it out loud. Another tenant is recognizing that the money, if you have gotten it, even if you’ve earned it, but in the case that we’re talking about if you’ve inherited it, doesn’t really belong to you. It is flowing through your life and that flow is something you are entrusted with and how you use it determines the character of your life. Determines the depth of your integrity.
Bryan: I love that. I think it’s such a wonderful perspective. I just had the opportunity last week to spend time with our friend Charles Eisenstein and heard him share this view that even if we have earned the money, what allowed us to earn the money? The gifts and the strengths and the talents that enabled us and whatever resources and other people helped us that ultimately, at its essence, that can all be viewed as a gift. And, probably rightly so.
Lynne: Yes. If we view it as a gift, because it is I believe, then we can live in gratitude and gratefulness and that is the source of prosperity. That’s the source of prosperity, not more money or more stuff. Being grateful, recognizing the gratefulness of one’s life, even if you have a pittance, is the source of true prosperity and true fulfillment.
Bryan: So,I know, from having journeyed with you to the rainforest as part of the Pachamama Alliance, a little bit about your work there.
Lynne: Oh, that’s good. I love that. That’s true. That’s really true.
Bryan: Will you share with me a bit about what the Pachamama Alliance is and what you do?
Lynne: Yes. Well, the Pachamama Alliance is an alliance between the indigenous people of the Sacred Head Waters of the Amazon rainforest and conscious committed people in the modern world, like you and probably all the people listening here and myself, for the sustainability of life. So, an alliance between indigenous people and modern world people for the sustainability of life. The specific location where the indigenous people who founded, co-founded the Pachamama Alliance with my husband Bill and John Perkins and I, happen to live and, it’s not a coincidence, in the Sacred Head Waters region of the Amazon rainforest. The most bio-diverse ecosystem on this planet and the most critical ecosystem on this planet. Not even knowing that the way I just said it, they know that they are the custodians of the source of life, so they are fiercely and unyieldingly committed to preserving it.
Those of us who are part of the Pachamama Alliance from the modern world are their partners in doing that. Not only for themselves, but for the sustainability of life. But also, they are so wise and so intentional that they really know that the threats to those forests and to all ecosystems and all life is not oil companies per se, mining companies per se, although those are very dangerous predators, but the way we view ourselves and this world which they call the dream of the modern world or the trance of the modern world. The trance that’s rooted in consumption, acquisition, more, more, more, more, more of everything, particularly money but possessions and cars and roads and companies and the square feet in our houses, etc. etc. etc. until … More, more, more, more, more of anything.
So, this beautiful organization, or I’d really call it like an energy, a movement, an organism, is both to preserve the Sacred Head Waters of the Amazon, the source of life and to change the dream of the modern world or transform, awaken us from the trance to a new dream. An environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet, which as I said before is the stand that I’ve taken and I know you have too. That phrase, an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet is what we call the new dream for humanity.
Bryan: And people can learn more about this work at Pachamama.org? Is that right?
Lynne: They can. They can.
Bryan: I think it’s Pachamamaalliance.org is the … I’m going to pull that up right here to make sure I’ve got it right. Anyone who’s interested in this, they can participate in one of these transformational workshops. They can go to the rainforest. Is that right?
Lynne: Yes, we take people to the rainforest. We also … I forgot to say, we have a wonderful program called The Awakener which we do inside of companies. It’s two hours long and it’s really powerful. It’s a condensed version of the Awaken the Dreamer program and it’s … Every company on Earth should take it. It’s only two hours long and it really taps people into who they are. Then, we do trips to the rainforest. We call them journeys and they’re anywhere from six days long to two weeks long and they’re a deep dive into the Amazon, the beauty, majesty and profound power of the natural world and the indigenous people who are its natural custodians. Also, a real deep understanding of the work of Pachamama herself.
Bryan: Bryan: That’s amazing. Really amazing. Well, and the last thing that I’ll ask on the topic of the Pachamama Alliance is just from reading your book and talking with you, I understand that you really were inspired to do this because of a dream you had. Like a night dream, a kind of dream after you’ve fallen asleep not just a dream of your heart or something. Is that the case? And, if so, will you share a little bit about that?
Lynne: Yes, I will. I actually had a very, very profound vision in a Shamanic ceremony in Guatemala with 12 people laying on the ground around a large fire on the top of a mountain with my friend John Perkins a shaman named Roberto [Pose 01:14:16], a Mayan shaman in Guatemala. I was there really to help out with a friend who had a project there. We ended up, through a series of circumstances, with this Mayan shaman doing a ceremony. Ceremony often includes plant medicines, but this ceremony did not. It was just this beautiful shaman named Roberto Pose, his drum, and his voice. He chanted, told us to lie down around the fire, with our feet towards the fire like a big wagon wheel. He chanted and whistled and sang and chanted and whistled and sang and was drawing.
During this journey, it was called, and it was the middle of the night, it was at midnight, I felt my right arm turn into some sort of strange, large amazing wing. I had my eyes closed, but this was like … I thought maybe I must be dreaming and then my left arm started to shake and quiver and it seemed to be turning into this giant wing. Then, before I knew it, this giant beak was growing on my face and then I just had to fly. I couldn’t have laid there for one more second. These huge wings on either my right and my left side, on both sides of my body, just had to extend and I flew above the campfire, looked down at the campfire and saw myself lying there. Heard the shaman’s voice and the whistling and the drum as clear as it could possibly be. I began to fly up into the night sky and there were zillions of stars and I remember having this experience of absolute bliss as I flew in kind of slow motion as this large, gigantic bird.
Then, it started to dawn and I looked down and saw a vast, unending forest of green below me. It just went forever and ever and it was spectacular and beautiful. I looked down through the trees and I could see all the way to the forest floor. I had very, very acute vision. And then, at a certain point, these disembodied faces of men, with orange geometric face paint and yellow, red, and black feather crowns on their heads, started to float up from the forest floor through the trees to me, the bird, and call to the bird in a strange tongue. That happened over and over and over again and it was hypnotic, memorizing, completely magical actually as I was flying over the forest in slow motion. These faces kept appearing, coming through the trees and calling to the bird. Then, at a certain point, there was a loud drum beat. I opened my eyes, I realized “oh my God, I’m a human being.” I don’t have wings, I don’t have a beak. I sat up and everybody around the circle, you could see from their face, they were discombobulated and something had happened for everybody.
The shaman asked us to share what had happened for us and we went around the circle and everybody had become an animal. When it was my turn, I shared what I’ve just shared with you. Then, it went all the way around the circle to my friend, John, and John had a very, very similar vision to mine. So the shaman then completed the ritual, dismissed everyone but John and I. And then John and the shaman and I had a conversation that I will never forget because John and the shaman said, “Lynne, this was not a normal vision. This is a communication. Someone -“
Bryan: This is a [inaudible 01:17:44]. I’m sorry.
Lynne: This is a communication.
Bryan: A communication.
Lynne: This is communication. Someone is trying, someone is calling for you to come to them. John said, “they’re calling me too.” And I know who they are and where they are. The shaman said, “you must go to them.” John said, “well, I’ve just recently been in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the Shuar people and an Achuar hunting party came into our camp and told us that they were going to start seeking contact after having no contact for thousands of years with the outside world because they’d seen in their dreams and visions that contact was inevitable so they were going to initiate it before it came to them in ways they couldn’t control. John said those faces you saw, those are the Achuar leaders. They’re calling for us to come to them. And I just totally dismissed it. I couldn’t buy it. It was too weird for me, and I thought this is kind of interesting, but I just can’t wrap my mind around this. I went on to Africa where I was going to a Hunger Project board of directors meeting in Accra, Ghana.
I go to this meeting in Accra, Ghana, in a hotel. I’m sitting in a conference room with five men and three women. All Ghanaian, all with beautiful, beautiful blue-black skin. Very beautiful Ghanaian people. We’re having this conversation. It’s a board meeting. And the men start having orange geometric face paint appearing on their faces. Here I’m in Africa, in Ghana. And no one said anything. I thought “Oh my God. I’m having a hallucination.” I excuse myself and went to the ladies’ room and tried to get myself together ’cause I was very shaken by it. Then, I came back and everybody was normal. They were still talking. Conversation continued. Then it happened again, and I burst into tears and told everybody I had to go back to the United States that I was ill. That I was confused, too many time zones, too many countries, too much travel. They excused me.
Bryan: And what did you think was happening?
Lynne: Well, I thought was going crazy. I thought I was insane. I thought I … I really did believe that I was ill. That I was having a hallucination from the strange thing that happened to me in Guatemala, and that I needed to rest. So, I packed my bag and went straight to the airport and tried everything I could to fly home as fast as I could. I flew from Accra, Ghana to Frankfort and the faces, when I opened or closed my eyes, the faces kept coming towards me. I couldn’t stop seeing them. Then, I flew from Frankfort to New York and then New York to San Francisco and all the way, whether I was awake or asleep, the faces just kept coming.
So, when I got home, I was desperate to talk to John Perkins. Telling him whatever this thing is that happened in Guatemala, I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll go wherever these people are just to get this to stop. John was in the Amazon so I couldn’t reach him. This is in 1994. There were no cell phones or internet. When he came home, which was two weeks later, I finally reached him, and he had just been in Ecuador, in the Amazon, with the Achuar and he confirmed, yes. They’re waiting for you and me and they want us to bring ten more people. Twelve of us altogether for first encounter. I immediately invited Bill, my husband, who I’d been complaining about these hallucinations, but he just thought I was tired. And I did too.
Then, we put our group together and we went down and had our first encounter. We went down as you have done, flew to Quito then through the Valley of the Volcanoes, then over the eastern side of the Andes, down the Pastaza River Canyon and flew into Achuar territory. The road was pristine, the most beautiful rainforest you’ll ever see. Landed by a river and once we were all there, they came out of the forest with their orange geometric face paint, their yellow, red, and black feather crowns and spears and put us in canoes and took us down this beautiful, beautiful river to a place where they were building eco-lodge which is now called Kapawi. We camped there and they told us they were building a lodge with their friend Danielle who was our guide for all of this. You’ve met him. So that they could host modern world people and begin to have contact with the modern world on their terms, in their territory, in ways that they could control. In that first encounter, we had the life changing experience that they asked for our help and Pachamama Alliance was born out of that, a trip out of that encounter, out of those conversations with that small handful of indigenous men who knew it was time to make contact with the modern world on their own terms.
Bryan: That’s amazing. Why do you think they chose you? How did they even know who you were? Why … I imagine you’ve given that thought. Like why you?
Lynne: Well, I think the best answer to that is I don’t know. They never say and they won’t say that they chose us. So, I don’t know if they chose us or they put out the call and we heard it. Some of them, Domingo Paes, who’s a wonderful man, says that he dreamed me to him, or some of them say that we dreamed you here. But, because they’re a dream culture and that’s the way they talk, they may have also been saying we dream everyone who comes to us here. I believe that they dreamed you there, Bryan, and Heather [Dawn 01:23:26] there. I really think they do dream the people there but it’s also that you heard them. In other words, they put out a call, maybe the call was to everybody and I heard it. Maybe the call was to me. I can’t … I don’t know and they won’t say. But, I think they put out a call and they’re still putting out a call. In fact, that call is from the Spirit of Life. You and I and probably many of the people who are listening to this, our voices right now, are hearing that call through this program. That’s possible. That’s what our job is really. Those of us who’ve heard the call is to pass it on to other people and have them wake up, too.
And so, the call, I don’t think was just to me, but I was lucky enough to receive it and hear it and be in a circumstances where I could actually respond. Now, it’s my job, and I know it’s your job and I know you take this seriously, to pass that call on to as many people as you possibly can.
Bryan: And for me, I think the first time I remember receiving it, or how I would describe, was I had done a training course with Jack Canfield and one of the exercises we did was we wrote a life purpose statement. I’d done some different exercises to try to articulate a purpose statement, but none of them really felt right to me. None of them ever stuck with me. For whatever reason in his workshop, I came up with one and as I described my statement, the last part of it was to serve a verdant Earth. That was part of it. I was like where did that come from? It kind of popped out of nowhere-
Lynne: Oh really. Wow.
Bryan: It was not something I ever probably would have said before, like consciously it wasn’t part of the activities I was doing or anything like that, keen people’s desire to connect more fully or honor the call that they might be hearing, what advice would you give them? Like how can they honor that? How can they follow it?
Lynne: Well, that’s one of the functions that Pachamama performs. Pachamama Alliance. We have … The courses that we and transformational educational programs that we provide don’t tell you what to do, but tell you who to be and then what to do shows up from that beingness, if I can put it that way.
That’s really a beautiful way to live. It frees you from the pettiness that we often get trapped in, doing stuff just for me, me, me. So, I consider it all a gift, a freedom, an opportunity for growth and development that isn’t hard. There’s not sacrifice in it, [crosstalk 01:30:01] actually. It’s the opposite.
Bryan: … beautiful. Beautiful perspective.
Lynne: We become free.
Bryan: Okay. So, Lynne, we’ve been talking for an hour and a half. If you can believe it.
Lynne: We have?
Bryan: And, I haven’t even got to my questions about the book writing process. But, if you’re good to go a little while longer, I’ve got a few book specific questions and then a few kind of lightening round questions.
Bryan: Okay, okay. So, shifting gears to-
Lynne: Absolutely. Go right ahead.
Bryan: … how you actually created your book, the Soul of Money. I’m interested to know how you … Like what process you followed to actually get your manuscript done. I know for many people, the act of writing, in many people, myself included, the act of writing is painful. It’s arduous. It takes a lot of mental effort, a lot of self discipline. Stick to [itiveness 01:30:52]. But for you, what was that like? Once you heeded the call, you made the commitment that you were going to write the book, how did you actually go from this intention to a finished manuscript?
Lynne: Well. I am a very social character, so I’m not a solitary producer. I do everything in collaboration with others. The book was done that way as well. I shared with you the story about a literary agent who contacted me who had been named several times before. You know, the kind of miracle finding Gail Ross, the literary agent. Then she gave me a list of collaborative writers. They’re not ghost writers because they’re not invisible, you put their name on the book, too. Collaborative writers that she thought would be good for me. When I heard Theresa Barker say hello, when I called her, I don’t think she had to say more than hello and I knew she was the right person for me. Theresa Barker is a collaborative writer who’s done many, many books with many people who think they’re too busy to write, or whether they are or they’re not, they think they are too busy to write or they’re sort of in the pro-activist or activist category and they can’t seem to stop and be quiet enough to write. I’m definitely in that category.
The stories produced the teachings. The teachings produced the stories. It was sort of like our interview here. She recorded it all and transcribed it all and then she had the skill and the capability of organizing it.
Theresa had done hundreds of proposals, so she she knew what she was doing. And then, Gail took it to the publishers. We had 17 publishers ask for a personal meeting. We were very, very lucky, and went to New York. I remember seeing the publisher thing was so scary for me. Oh my God. The first meeting I went to, I think it was with Bantam, I thought there would be one person. I was there with Theresa, my collaborative writer, and Gail Ross, this very seasoned literary agent who knew the game very well and then me, who knew nothing and was scared to death. We walked into Bantam and there were ten people in the conference room. 10 people. I thought “are they here to meet me?” I can’t even believe it. There was marketing people and cover people and editors and the editor in chief and it was so scary. They interviewed me. They interrogated me. It wasn’t an interview. It was terrifying.
The first day I think we saw six publishers. Each publisher said this should be a how-to book. The books that really sell are the books that are on the front tables of the book stores are three steps to financial freedom. Five steps to prosperity. Can you turn this into a self-help book ’cause that’s what really sells? I started, by the end of the day, thinking my God. I guess I’d better do that. Then, I went to see my son for dinner, and my son is a puppeteer, if you can imagine that. He is a puppeteer, a beautiful, amazing, puppeteer. He’s a magic person. And he said, “Mom. Don’t become what they want you to become. You tell your story and if they don’t want it, let them go.” Because he had tried … Disney had tried to compromise him and Harry Potter people and he’s a very pure artist and he said, “Mom. You’ve got a message that nobody’s had before. Stay with it. Don’t try to redesign it for the publishers.” I was just a wreck.
The next morning, the first meeting I had or the second meeting, I went to WW Norton, which is my publisher and the man who was in the meeting, there were still another big group of people, looked at me and he said, “This is an idea book. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s a self-help book. This is an idea book and it’s original thinking and we want this book.” I burst into tears. He got it. I’ll never forget this guy. He’s such a great guy. He’s the editor in chief of Norton. My literary agent said “No, no, no, no. Don’t you respond. We have 12 more publishers to go to.” But, I knew I would go with Norton and they didn’t do the highest bid or anything. I just knew-
Bryan: That’s beautiful.
Bryan: That’s great. Well then, and I know that some of these things can seem daunting for somebody who’s just starting out. You know, talk about a publicist, and talk about an agent, and writing a book proposal and make the decision to self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, like all this. What advice do you have for people who are working to get their book done?
Lynne: Well, here’s the thing. I don’t know about self-publishing and I don’t know about marketing and I don’t know about driving your book up to number one on Amazon. I had some very good luck with things like that, but I didn’t cause that to happen. I don’t know if I have an advice about that. What I do have advice about is tell your story with authentic love and care and that’ll be the best book you can do. Don’t try to write for everybody in the world or everybody else. Write it for yourself first. That’s what I did and I don’t know if that’s right now. I mean, I know people know how to segment and market and there’s so much science now that I don’t know, so I can’t give that kind of advice and I know other people will give and people will receive that kind of advice. It’s wise. I’m not denigrating that. I just know for me, what was key was that moment with my son where I let go of trying to do a book for the publishers. When I met an editor who said he really got it, that I had a unique message and he wanted to publish it, that was when I was really being myself.
Who you are is what you write. We write who we are. We don’t write what we know. We don’t write where we’ve been. Those are just the stories we can tell. But we really write who we are and if you can stay true to who you are, your book will make a difference to you and hopefully to other people.
Bryan: Yeah. That’s really beautiful. So, say somebody now is in process. They’re in the tunnel. They’re in the belly of the snake, so to speak. I know some of years long endeavors. What advice do you have for somebody who’s in it? They’re in the muck. I once heard Jack’s manager and colleague Patty [Abrie 01:47:05] refer to the book writing process as the Prozac experience. Right? And so, for somebody who’s in the thick of that, who’s maybe got a little bit of ambiguity, wants to give up. What do you say to that person?
Lynne: Well, I would share that I gave up over and over and over again and then I got back on the horse, as they say. I got a little book that most people have heard of, and if people haven’t, I recommend it. It’s called Writing is Rewriting. It’s a little skinny book and it just tells you it’s okay to write something absolutely terrible, that you hate, and then rewrite it. It’s better to write then not write and you can always rewrite. In fact, all writing is rewriting.
Lynne: I think you get back in touch with what you stand for which is what happened for me. I am going towards the answer to your question. If you’re clear about what you stand for and the book will serve what you stand for rather than you’re standing for writing a book which is really a goal or a to do or a giant task. But, in my case, I was standing for creating peace and freedom in people’s relationship with money and I knew that a book would make a difference in fulfilling that stand. So, the book was useful for me to write and hopefully for people to read.
So, when you get stuck, in the details and the story and the muck and the mud and the difficult and the procrastination and the I don’t know why I’m doing this thing, if you can get back in touch with what you stand for, what your life is really about and see if writing a book is a asset for that. I know that it is, so that will be … The answer will be yes.
Lynne: It’ll free you to get in the flow again.
Bryan: I love it. Awesome. Okay, Lynne. Coming down the stretch. Just a few more questions. These I have designed to be short answer. So, of course [crosstalk 01:50:17]-
Lynne: Okay. Okay. I’ll do my best.
Bryan: You’re welcome to answer as long as you want, but here’s the questions. So, the lightening round. Number one. Are you a napper?
Bryan: Number two. What do you wish you were better at?
Lynne: Writing and technology.
Bryan: Number three. If you were required, everyday, for the rest of your life, to wear a T-shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or a saying or a quote or a quip, what would the shirt say?
Lynne: You are enough.
Bryan: I love it. I love it. What book, other than your own, have you gifted most often?
Lynne: Well, recently, Into the Magic Shop.
Bryan: Into the Magic Shop. I don’t know this book. Tell me about it.
Lynne: Into the Magic Shop by Jim Doty. Dr. Jim Doty. It’s about his life, but it’s a very profound book and I loved every page.
Bryan: Beautiful. I will definitely check that out on Amazon. Okay. You travel a ton. What’s one travel hack, something you do or something you own that makes your travel less painful and/or more enjoyable?
Lynne: Like a technique? Or what did you say? Hack?
Bryan: Yeah, like a travel hack. Like something you do or a possession, something you bring along that makes it easier, more enjoyable, less painful.
Lynne: I always set … When I get on a plane, I set my watch for the time of where I’m going and I never think about the time where I left from again. I don’t measure time zone. I don’t do that. I just be where I am. When I arrive, I set up … Wherever I’m staying, if it’s someone’s home or in a hotel, I set up a little alter for meditation with my special objects, so that’s like my home. It becomes my home and I set up the things in my bathroom, my cosmetics in a particular way. Always exactly the same. And that makes me feel like I’m at home no matter where I am.
Bryan: Beautiful. What’s one thing you started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
Lynne: Started or stopped doing. Oh, good. Let’s see. I stopped drinking coffee and I mostly don’t have sugar and I drink lots and lots and lots and lots of water. I do yoga every single day, and I meditate every single day.
Bryan: Good for you. How long have you been on that program? Of all those? No coffee, low sugar, like all that.
Lynne: Well, I had a heart incident in November. I mean, I had a heart incident last year and then I had a little procedure in November. Non-invasive. It’s called a catheter ablation. Not surgery, but a heart thing, where they went into my heart and did a little thing and it scared me.
Bryan: That is scary.
Lynne: So, I have a beautiful, beautiful Chinese medical doctor who said you need to drink at least half your weight in water in fluid ounces every single day. And I do that now. I’ve always done yoga every day and I’ve always meditated. So, that’s not new, but I meditate longer and I do more yoga. And then, stopping coffee was her recommendation, my Chinese medical doctor. She said too much acid. It’s not the caffeine, it’s the acid, and so I stopped. And I can have a cup like once a month, but it won’t kill me but not good for my heart.
Bryan: Yeah, and not every day. What kind of yoga do you do?
Lynne: Well I do my own version. It’s really simple. It’s the salute to the sun. There’s many versions of that.
Bryan: Lynne [inaudible 01:54:11].
Lynne: Lynne [inaudible 01:54:15]. That’s it. My own little version. The thing that I like.
Bryan: Cool. And actually was … my next question was leading into mindfulness. I wondered if you have a mindfulness practice that you observe and if so, what is it? Where did you learn it? That kind of thing. What does it do for you? Anything about that.
Lynne: Well, one of things that I’ll … oh, this is too long. I won’t do that whole thing. Mindfulness is clearly part of my practice. Has always been or for many, many years and now even more so. And I read from several different books every morning, quite early and then I meditate on what I’ve read.
Bryan: The same books through the years or do you alternate?
Lynne: I change all the time. Sometimes Brother David, sometimes I’ve done the Course in Miracles. I’m right now reading something by Deepak Chopra. So, a spiritual book of some kind. I usually read passages, two or three everyday, and then I meditate. I have incense, and I do a whole little thing. I make a little special moment for myself and that’s really important to me everyday.
Bryan: And this is whether you’re home, whether you’re traveling? It’s everyday regardless.
Lynne: Yeah, everyday. I don’t always have the … What do you call it? The incense with me. But, I have all my other little things.
Bryan: Are you a morning person?
Lynne: I am a super morning person and I like to go to bed early at night.
Bryan: Probably live longer that way. That’s great.
Lynne: I hope so.
Bryan: Okay, so, if people want to learn more from you or they want to connect with you, what should they do?
Lynne: Well, I have a website called thesoulofmoney.org. And also you can go to LynneTwist.com. On both of those websites, they lead you to the same place. There’s information about the Soul of Money Institute, my book, and the courses we offer online and in person and coaching and all the things I’ve talked about. Then, it also will lead you to Pachamama Alliance, but you can go straight to Pachamama.org and that will lead you to the symposium that I talked about and the Awakener and the Game Changer Intensive and trips to the Amazon. And then the third area, and you could … This all … My website will lead you to all the above, but is the Nobel Women’s Initiative. That’s nobelwomensintiative.org. Those are sort of the three areas of work in my life. That’s where you can learn a lot about me, really on my website there’s a lot of stuff.
Bryan: And all of that will be in the show notes, as well. So, people can get there by … They can follow the link in that. Okay, so my last question. I debated whether to ask this, but I’m so curious. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Lynne: Let’s see. Every American in particular. That this country is a function of its citizens, not its leadership. When we stand for our own citizenship and nation with our heart and soul, anything and everything is possible.
Bryan: Beautiful. Lynne, thank you so much for spending two hours, more than two hours getting ready for this and being on this call with me. I do want to let you know that I’ve made a loan through 100% of humanity through my foundation, [inaudible 01:57:52].org on your behalf to a woman named [Hachina 01:57:54] in India. She’s actually in West Bengal to help her expand her grocery business. As a small way of saying thank you.
Lynne: Oh, I love that.
Bryan: So, thank you very much.
Lynne: Oh, thank you so much Bryan. I love that and I love you.
Bryan: I love you. I feel very privileged to know you and to have you as a friend.
Lynne: Thank you so much, Bryan.
Bryan: Alright. Well, we’ll talk to you later.