MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism


To discover any room for improvement, gathering customer feedback is the most effective first step. But most of the time, you will get negative comments more than favorable ones, which calls for a proper approach when you handle criticism. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen sit down with sales advisor and speaker Charlene DeCesare to talk about the best ways to connect with your critics and help them understand their demands rather than simply shutting them down. Charlene explains how this kind of feedback can be seamlessly integrated into your current business models and be used to your advantage. Furthermore, she goes deep on how leaders can effectively manifest their plans, highlighting the power of clinging to the Law of Attraction. 

Listen to the podcast here


Charlene DeCesare On The Right Way To Handle Criticism And Maximizing The Law Of Attraction 

Our guest is someone that I found on a platform that is near and dear to me these days. If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you can probably guess what I’m about to say. No, it’s not Clubhouse. It is TikTok. It is my favorite social media platform and I discover a lot of incredible people on there and sometimes, someone stands out. I think to myself, “I have to have this person on our podcast,” or at least I have to invite them. I can’t force anyone to be on the show.  

Charlene, our guest, is one of those people. I saw her lovely TikTok videos and I was intrigued because I love her style of educating people from a practical, easy, non-intimidating standpoint. On that note, it is refreshing because sometimes, I go on TikTok and I feel overwhelmed by all the advice and I’ll fall into the comparison trap. I find myself feeling like I’m not good enough and I’m not doing things right. I get burnt out by all this social media advice on there. Charlene, your videos had the opposite effect on me. I felt comforted, empowered, and excited. I wanted to dive into your content. Every time I look at your account, I feel uplifted and happy. Welcome to the show. Thank you for being here. 

Thanks for having me. I’m glad you found me. Is it because I show my cat so often or is it the sales tips or that I feature wine frequently in my videos? What do you think captured your attention?  

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All of the above, but especially the email tips that you offered because I love optimizing my communication. That’s a theme of our show indirectly. We talk about things like personality tests. We talk about things that we’ve learned as entrepreneurs. We haven’t talked that much about email, which is one of the things I’m excited to discuss with you because we email so much as a society. It’s a huge form of communication. Of course, we text as well and we DM, and that falls into that same category.  

Email is something that can be tricky. What I loved about your videos are the simple tweaks that you can make. For example, you’re passionate about trying to limit the number of sentences or paragraphs that start with the letter I. As in I, Whitney. That’s something that I was trained to do in school, but I recognize that not everybody has that background, especially if you didn’t study writing, copywriting, or marketing. Even people that study those things make those mistakes. Jason has a background in copywriting. I’m curious, are you mindful of when you start a sentence, Jason, with the letter I for example? 

I am. It was a result of doing some A/B testing when I first started doing email marketing. I first started doing email marketing maybe in early 2010 and I remember my list was very small. I remember observing the open rates when I would talk too much about myself, of course, which is the easy thing to default to and when I started talking about you and your, and directing it to them as a singular individual. That mindset shift for me, too, was remembering that I am sending this email or making this YouTube video or I’m sending this DM to an individual person, a singular person. It means sometimes people get together and watch YouTube videos together.  

Most of the time, we’re watchingreading or receiving an email on our own individually. I remember making that pivot as a copywriter and watching the response change to that. The other thing though I do want to say, Charlene, to answer your question. I know Whitney’s here for the email. I’m here for the email, too, but I’m actually here for the cats. Let’s get that out of the way from the beginning. I am a cat man. I’ve been a cat man all my life and I have a house full of cats. It might be a problem. I don’t know. That’s up to interpretation. 

I never thought I would be an old cat lady. I have turned into a cat lady. We’ve never had animals until 2020. My husband looked at me at one point and he’s like, “How did this happen? How did we end up being cat people?” At any given moment, we have at least two cats, sometimes three. We foster cats who need homes for short periods of time. We could talk about cats. Also, on the email thing, Whitney, I am such an email geek I have to say. I wrote the book, The Email Cemetery as a fun Sunday morning activity. A publisher asked me to write a book from these blogs that I was writing.  

The reason why I love email so much is it is such a great diagnostic tool for all of the head trash that we have as people and as entrepreneurs. Even though some people might read this or might see my TikToks, and I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the comments I get on TikTok. Some of them are let’s say not so friendly and they’re like, “What is this picky shit? Why are you hounding on these tiny words?” It is because it’s a symptom of often a much bigger problem or issue that’s going on.  

That’s why I love it. It’s more of a diagnostic tool. It is not about being perfect. There’s no perfection anywhere in life, so that’s not what it’s about. If you are intentional about the language you use particularly in writing, it’s amazing how much more effective it can be, and more importantly, you feel better about it, which is my goal. I do want people to have good results as entrepreneurs and as people and also, it has to feel right. You know when you send a message and it doesn’t quite jive. Have you ever had that experience? 

MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism

Handle Criticism: Don’t be something you’re not. The more you are yourself, the easier it is, and the more you attract the people you want to work with and spend time with.


That’s what draws me into this. In fact, I was on the receiving end of somebody’s message that was written with so much intention, but it was still misinterpreted. It’s interesting how easy it is for us to phrase things in a way that isn’t clear. I’ve started using a variety of different tools online. I love any AI. I use Grammarly and then the other one I’m using is called Hemingway. Clarity is something that we can strive towards. It’s interesting, Charlene, that you get that feedback. I remember I saw one of your videos where somebody said, “Who made you the God of emails?” You’re like, “I prefer to be called the queen of emails,” and then they said, “Cute.” 

You mentioned Grammarly. I also have a funny video because, and maybe it’s me, I misspell Grammarly every time I put it in. I don’t know why. It’s a mental block I have. I tweeted about how I usually spell the word grammar wrong when I put it into the URL. I know how to spell it. It’s a tick or something. Grammarly retweeted my tweet and they said, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone. It happens more often than you would guess.” 

That’s exactly why we spell out our name because people have no idea how to spell that. It’s interesting because when we made that decision, it was more because of the domain name with Wellevate, which is what we normally wanted, but no matter what we had named our domain and our brand, I bet you, people still would have confused it. Even something like Grammarly, which I think of naturally as a term now is confusing if you’re not used to it. Even when you are, Charlene, it’s amazing how you can still misspell something because your brain is not processing that way. That happens in emails all the time, which is exactly why I use tools like Grammarly. The other one that I did mention is called Hemingway App. Have you used that one? Are you familiar with it? 

I’m not. Although I am a big fan of the writer. 

It’s named after a writer for anyone else who didn’t know. It’s neat because it’s all about making things more readable. It also helps your writing be more bold and clear. I feel like this is a perfect thing for you to talk about on TikTok Charlene when you try it out. I gave you a new content idea. 

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Thank you. That’s always the challenge on TikTok. For me, when I have time to record a video and I haven’t already written out what I want to do, it’s coming up with fresh content and something that is entertaining and informative. It allows me to be myself, which I am a weirdo of many years and I embrace the term proudly. I like to be a little theatrical, make funny faces, and have fun with it. My goal is to, if not just share that with the world, at least have fun for myself. 

That’s the appeal of TikTok. It is interesting because I find that I have to switch out of my Instagram mode. After being on Instagram since 2011 or ‘12, I’ve been in this habit of trying to make everything polished and perfect looking. Going back to what you said before Charlene about perfectionism, I wonder if people get triggered whenever they think they’re being pushed towards perfectionism because TikTok is that place where people feel like they can show their imperfect selves. That’s one of the reasons it works so well.  

I have to constantly check myself, but also, at the same time, embrace my style. My style is a little on the polish side, but I like that. I feel more comfortable there. For me, it’s uncomfortable to show my silly sides on there because I’m not used to doing it. It’s wonderful that you are. I’ve been encouraging Jason to do more on TikTok because he is like you, Charlene. He likes to be goofy, have fun, get into character, and express himself in some unique ways. 

You can bring your cats. You can use my videos as an example, Jason. Star your cats in your videos. 

I feel like I get a bit of having a personal brand. We’ve got our Wellevatr brand and our podcast, but then Whitney and I have our individual brands that we still operate, send emails, and do social media. We have these multiple balls that we’re juggling. Where I get caught up is the line between wanting to be “professional,” give people value, and give people tools, eBooks, courses, and the things that we put out, but then also showing who I am, even if it’s goofy, out-there, and weird. 

I get stuck on where those two worlds merge. I have a tendency to overthink things and maybe that’s where I’m at with it. “How does this fit in my brand? If I’m doing these goofy music videos where I’m dressing up my cats in costumes and singing original songs about my cats, what the hell does that have to do with wellness and helping people?” If it’s bringing joy to someone’s day, maybe that’s enough. I don’t know. I still have a massive resistance around being on TikTok. 

One of my favorite sayings, I didn’t invent this, but somebody once said, “Everything is better when you are more you. Whatever that means. For me, I resisted this particularly early in my entrepreneurial career. I left corporate years ago. I left a cushy global director job at Gartner. On the surface anyway, I’m living a glamorous life, and then after a few too many meetings where I said things like, “You don’t pay me enough for this bullshit,” I finally decided to start my own business. 

I was doing about $38 million a year in sales at the time, so I thought, “Surely if I could sell millions of dollars’ worth of aircraft, I should be able to do something to represent myself and make a living.” I thought it would be easier than it was. Of course, I bet many people reading this have been through that. It wasn’t long before starting my own business, I was crying in my cheerios saying, “They paid me enough.” 

MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism

The Email Cemetery: Where Bad Sales Emails Go to Die…and How to Resuscitate Yours

It’s such a relatable feeling because we take this leap of faith as you did. At least I can relate to having an expectation of how I thought it would go. Whitney, I’d be curious to reflect back on when you left your last corporate job. I remember thinking, “I’m stepping up with all this confidence and I’ve got all these life skills. I’ve been doing my thing.” I was a copywriter and a marketing director for over a decade before I branched out and started my own business. I thought, “I’m going to take all this marketing experience working for these global ad agencies. I know what I’m doing.” I then stepped out into that unknown and went, “We are hurtling toward the Earth at a rapid pace. We have jumped off the cliff and we may die.” Years later, we’re not dead. For me, it is that feeling of, “What have I done? What have I chosen to do?” 

Luckily, we’re not dead. It’s interesting that you say that particular term because it’s one of the things that motivated me. Many people have asked me how I’ve done what I’ve done. Part of it is a keen sense of my own mortality and understanding that most of what we do is not life or death on a day-to-day basis. Every day is precious. In the beginning, I thought I had to be a certain way. I created a brand. I thought that I was targeting a certain type of corporate executive and I had to be buttoned up. For example, before I turned 50, I wanted to get my first tattoo and I had friends that say, “You better get it in a place that doesn’t show because people in corporate won’t take you seriously with a tattoo.”  

I have to tell you never have I been happier and more successful in my business than the day that I had professional pictures, my new headshot is taken where my tattoo is prominently displayed. It’s part of who I am and I’m done trying to be something that I’m not. It’s been, of course, rewarded. It’s the way the brain works. We want to do what we get rewarded for. I find that the more I’m myself, it’s so much easier for me. I attract people naturally who I want to work and spend time with, and I will have more fun. I get to make a much bigger impact on the world versus trying to push through to try to be something for somebody else. It doesn’t come naturally to me. In a way, it’s an evolution for us all to figure out. We changed, too. We’re work in progress all the time. 

That’s such timely advice, Charlene. When Whitney and I have talked about how easy it is to look at so-called gurus, experts, masters, thought leaders, influencers, and all this new terminology that seems to have emerged in the public social lexicon in the last couple of years. We hear this advice on one hand of people saying, “Find a hero or an avatar and shadow them or mirror them.” We hear the term success leaves clues. Many of these influencers, thought leaders, authors, etc., have like, “Follow my twelve-step roadmap. This is how I made ten figures and this is how I grew my arm back. This is how I manifested the entire life I want.”  

Sometimes, what I feel is in the past as an entrepreneur, and Whitney and I certainly agree on this, is we’ve followed those roadmaps and those steps too closely. We had expectations that if we did the exact same things our “heroes” did or the people we admire, we’d get the same result. I’ve noticed that in that process, oftentimes, we didn’t get those results. I ended up losing myself a little bit in the process because I was trying to be too much like someone else. 

What has empowered me in everything that I teach is I’ve had a lot of that training My main focus is sales coaching, sales training, and sales consulting. In the sales world for many years, particularly at Gartner, where they were investing a ton of money, you can imagine if you’re doing billions of dollars a year, there’s some robust sales training that we were getting. Yet, never did I suck more than when somebody said, “Follow this five-step program,” and then on the third email say, “Have you been eaten by an alligator?” There are super cheesy things and I realized I was myself and I connected with human beings. 

One of the stories I tell in the book is about when I was being shadowed by my boss on a call. While I’m speaking to a prospect, he writes a note on my desk, “Too jolly. Be more serious.” To this day, I laugh because that’s who I am. I’m a naturally positive person. Believe it or not, I had more criticism than praise many times over my life. That comes from I wake up every day and I’m excited to be here. My goal every day is to create and experience a life I want to live and to be the person that I want to be and that I’m proud of.  

If I can do those two things, I feel like I’m winning. It turns out that other people want to be around that and they want to learn from that. In my business, that has rewarded me. I work way less now than I used to, but I make more money. I have more fun and I get to be around better people. I’ve had that reward, but that’s available to anyone who is willing to do the work of tuning in to what it is about themselves that they love, who they want to be, and what are their core values. Everyone’s figuring it out, so you go from there.  

The last thing is there’s also an element of personal accountability because in owning the experience of the life I create, that means I can’t blame anyone else. I can’t blame other people, my husband, my kids and COVID. It’s always up to me. It is living that mantra, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” What that might mean is that I’m a giant control freak. That’s also possible. 

I feel like you’ve dropped so many quotes already, Charlene. I know Whitney does this, too. I’m like, “That’s gold. We have to share that.” To piggyback on what you said, it seems like there is a lot of blame, I suppose, in looking outside of ourselves. I don’t think it’s a recent thing. Certainly, humans have been dabbling in victim consciousness for a long time. What you said sparked something in me that I’m noticing that I’ve done. “We’re in a pandemic and that’s why things are hardLook what the government’s doing, the insurrection, and the politically oppressed. There’s this and there’s that.” 

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I’m glad you said that because it’s getting me to take a deeper look at how I’ve unconsciously said some of these things. “It’s hard because of the government, COVID, people, unemployment, California. You can insert a variety of different things. It’s in vogue to look on social media and see people complaining because things are hard because of insert the blank. It reminds me of someone we mention a lot here on the show. He’s one of my absolute favorite authors and mythologist, Joseph Campbell. He says in his book, Reflections on the Art of Living, “You’re trying to fix the world and you’re trying to fix life, but you’re barking up the wrong tree because life has always been pretty messy.”  

It doesn’t mean life is bad. It doesn’t mean that existence is bad. If you look at the swath of human history, there has always been some challenge, war, pestilence or disease or something that is not necessarily what humans want to face, but here we are. We’ve been on the surface for however many tens of thousands of years and yet, we’re facing another challenge. To your point, it’s important to bring that to the forefront of we can’t blame life for fucking us up. I’m glad you said that because I feel like it’s in vogue to do that publicly. 

There’s a great expression, “What you focus on expands.” I know that I am going to face challenges. There are going to be things that are hard and I know that I am more than capable of doing what’s hard. I had a life-changing experience, which sounds corny. A few years ago, I went to an experience called the Enlightened Warrior Training Camp and it was a week-long experience. I didn’t 100% know that I wasn’t going to be kidnapped and sold into slavery when I went because there was so little information about what this would entail.  

Essentially, it was a week-long experience where every day, I was mentally, physically, and emotionally challenged. Every day was looking at whether it was a physical mountain or an obstacle course or sweat lodge. There was something different every day to be completely challenged. Out of that, to become an enlightened warrior, I had to integrate or internalize some key principles about what it means to be an enlightened warrior. Are you interested in knowing what those proclamations or commitments are? 

It’s 100%. We have a course called Wellness Warrior Training. We’re like, “This is right up our alley.” 

This would be perfect for you. We had these commitments. To give you an example, I am not afraid of heights. I am afraid of falling to my death. I don’t go to high places. One of the things we had to do one day, we had to climb to the top of a telephone pole and walk across a wire to another telephone pole blindfolded. This was not on my to-do list when I started. While we’re doing those types of things, part of what we had to do is recite these warrior commitments. I’ll give you a few of them. They all start with, “I am a warrior.” “I am a warrior. I act in spite of fear. I am a warrior. I am willing to do whatever it takes. I am a warrior. I do everything at 100%. I am a warrior. I am willing to do what’s hard.” That’s what we talked about. The next one is, “I act in spite of my mood. I am bigger than any obstacle. I succeed in spite of anything and I never give up.” Those are the warrior principles. 

MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism

Handle Criticism: By owning the experience you want to create, you can’t blame anyone else anymore.


I got chills listening to that. First of all, the principles resonated deep in my being. The second thing is I am terrified of falling to my death. Even as a young child, I remember heights terrifying me and then later got clarity. It’s not being high. It’s the fear that I may fall and I may die. I’ve willfully chosen to do things throughout my life like go skydiving and things of that nature. As you were describing walking across a wire between telephone poles with a blindfold on, I got a little sick to my stomach when you were even describing it. I was like, “I want to throw up right now.”  

It’s amazing what you can do. The key is there’s a difference between challenging yourself and hard work and struggle. I don’t believe in struggle. When I was little, I had one of those little Pound-APeg toys where it looks like a little bench, it’s wood, and there are different shaped holes. You have these pegs that you hammer into the different shaped holes. My first full sentence was because of this toy. I don’t usually swear. I’m not somebody who’s allowed to swear words. My first full sentence was, “Shit, I can’t get this fucking thing in here.” That was my first full sentence. I don’t usually swear at all. I’ll say, “F.”  

What happened was my dad came over and he looked at me and he laughed. We’re a sick family like that. We laugh when our children swear. We don’t correct them. That’s what we do. He said, “Here’s the trick.” He had me line up the round pegs around the hole and he said, “If you’re forcing it, you’re doing it wrong.” That has been true. I’ve heard those words in my mind many times over my life, including my first marriage, I’m married the second time, and in jobs that I’ve had. There have been many instances where I could hear my dad’s voice saying, “If you’re forcing it, you’re doing it wrong.” I don’t think it’s about forcing something or pushing yourself in a way that doesn’t feel good. Innately, you know when you get that icky feeling. It’s about challenging yourself so that you can do more. You can push yourself to be able to increase your confidence, capacity, and get more out of life to live more life. 

I want to talk about this distinction a little deeper, Charlene. First of all, I feel compelled to discuss one of the bylines in your Instagram bio which says, “Growing a business shouldn’t be painful.” What we get in society is a lot of mixed messages around hard work, struggle, suffering, and pain. On the one side, we see certain entrepreneurs, business coaches, successful thought leaders, etc. saying, “You got to hustle. You got to grind. If you’re hanging it up at 11:00 PM, you know that your competitor is probably working until midnight or 1:00 in the morning or 2:00 in the morning. It’s that extra hour or two or that extra fifteen minutes that puts you ahead.” We get those messages, “Don’t stop hustling. Don’t stop grinding.” Even the word grind, to me, makes me think of friction, pain, chafing, and rubbing up against some hard service. We hear grind all the time.  

When you say growing a business shouldn’t be painful, my curiosity is what is the distinction between hard work and having a work ethic, and the chasm between getting to where things are painful, things are a struggle, and things are a grind? How can we work hard and maybe disassociate the connotation that we have? It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be a struggle. You’re going to sweat. You’re going to bleed. You’re going to stay up late at night. You’re not going to be able to sleep. People are celebrating that too in our culture. People say, “I only got an hour of sleep last night but it’s okay, this is the way it is.” I know that might be a lot to unpack but I’m curious about your perspective and the distinctions in that conversation. 

There are a couple of things, one is another dad-ism. My father passed away in 2010. He was my hero. I invoke him a lot. He used to always say, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Maybe growing a business, in some ways, sometimes feels a little painful at the moment because we’re pushing ourselves or we’re working hard. There are moments when that work ethic has to be there. The distinction I would make is the difference between push and pull. When things have been painful in a way that’s not necessary or that isn’t helping me or isn’t serving me, it feels like I’m being pushed. It feels like I’m getting an external pressure that I’m doing something for other people that I haven’t set good boundaries. I’m outside my comfort zone in a way that doesn’t feel good to me because there’s a lack of alignment.  

On the other side, there’s a sense of being compelled and pulled versus pushed where it comes from a very innate place where, Yes, I do work. My husband would tell you that I work every single day, in some way. I enjoy it for the most part. I am intentional about the work that I do and I feel compelled to do it. One of the reasons why I love coaching salespeople is they have head trash that what their job is as salespeople is to push other people. To make other people’s eyes painful because they’re trying to convince or push them to do something. What sales is, is helping to compel people to see why they want to do certain things or why they want to buy certain products or services. At a high level, as you presented that, what came to my mind is the difference between feeling pushed to do something externally versus feeling compelled, inspired and drawn to do the work from a deep, internal place. I don’t know if that makes sense but that’s what came to my mind as you were talking about it. 

It does make sense. What it also brings up for me is some sales training that I’ve received in the past that I’m reflecting on, Charlene. I remember being in different MLMs. I’m not going to name who they are. Not only that but also reflecting back to college, I graduated with a marketing communications degree. I’m remembering that in some of the classes and also in the sales training I received later in my career. It was this formula of finding out what the pain points of your audience are, call it out, agitate it, create some emotional charge in them, and then offer them a solution.  

If they hem and haw that they don’t have enough money or they’ve got a check with their husband or wife, I’ll call it manipulation in the sales tactics that I learned which was, If you pass this buy, the window is going to close. I need an answer from you by the end of this call because this is going to be shutting down by the end of the day. There’s this scarcity thing built in. I’m curious about your approach. How does it differ and what have you found effective in how you train sales and what you’ve seen in your career? 

It’s changed a little bit since COVID. I do some work with a research-based sales training organization. Everything that I teach is not only what feels good to me, it’s also supported by science. There’s that. It’s about taking the lead and being that trusted advisor. My specialty tends to be more on the services side or high-value products that have services associated with them. It’s starting with helping not just to understand what their needs and pain is, it’s helping the other person understand what they should be thinking about and why there might be a case for making a change.  

It starts much earlier in the process in terms of how you want to connect with that person resonate with what their real needs are because a lot of people don’t know. The old school way was like, “Let’s have a call to discuss your opportunities and challenges.” They would get that on a call and ask questions like, “What are your goals and objectives for 2021?” They almost conduct an interview and at the end say, “We have a solution for you.”  

The core of everything that I do is about having meaningful conversations as human beings. If you go into a conversation as an expert and know things that would benefit, in this case, your buyer, your prospect, you lead with that and have a conversation, “Do they see how potentially their life could be different if they were doing things differently or if they had a different way of approaching the world? What’s at risk?” Often, what we sell is not the benefits but the impact of doing nothing. It’s about the conversation though.  

I believe that if there’s someone who doesn’t need what I’m selling or doesn’t need what my clients are selling, that’s okay. We’re not here to convince anyone. It’s about alignment. Also, we have to be brave enough and compelling enough to help people understand when they don’t know what they need. A lot of people don’t know. We get to be the expert, the grown-up in the room, and help them on that path and be that trusted advisor that’s next to them at the table and not sitting across from them doing a job interview. At a high level, the best thing is to go from job interview or interview style to meaningful and caring conversation. 

I love that, Charlene. This reminds me of a question that I have for you that I’ve been asking a lot of people because I struggle with this, it’s finding more confidence and pushing through all of the criticism. It was so wonderful to hear you share that you, from your perspective, get more criticism than praise perhaps. I’m not sure if you used the word praise. It’s something that I struggle with so much and I haven’t overcome it despite having so many tools and awareness. I understand this is a logical level. At an emotional level, it’s challenging for me to push through criticism.  

I grew up as a people pleaser. I grew up thinking I needed to constantly change and adapt to what made other people feel good. I grew up with a lot of these senses of not being good enough. It triggers that thought process in my head when somebody tells me something or someone pushes back. Even going back to what you were saying earlier, Charlene, about perfectionism, there’s so much of a desire to be perfect but it’s truly impossible. No matter how much you feel like you’re doing the right thing, you’ll still come across people that are critical of it. They’ll still be somebody out there that’s the troll or the heckler. There’s someone out there that is finding faults and that is tough for me. I have been able to push forward in a lot of ways but it still hurts a lot.  

Many examples of this and two came to mind as you were speaking, one is on TikTok or any other platform. I put out a video a few days ago, for example, and somebody comes up and is like, “That’s not good enough.” Those weren’t their words but that’s what they’re saying. They’re like, “Your solution is not good enough.” I kindly responded, trying to get them to see it from my perspective. They came back again, like, “You know, blah, blah, blah.” No matter what I say or do, there’s going to be one of those people that’s telling me it’s not good enough. My little inner child is thinking, “I’m not good enough.” I focus on that constantly, “I got to change. I got to be better. I got to try again. I screwed up.”  

The same thing has also happened in the sales process. When people feel like something is not for them, sometimes they’re very vocal about it. I’ve had many experiences, as an entrepreneur, putting out courses, for example, and someone comes up and criticizes the price or criticizes the program. We mentioned Wellness Warrior Training and someone in there came on. They’re a student. They enrolled in it. They publicly commented, “This isn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. I already knew all this information.” They’re saying it publicly. I got triggered because I felt they’re pointing out the flaws. That not good enough feeling comes up. I find myself almost paralyzed by that. That’s why I’m bringing this up, Charlene, because you’ve been doing this longer than us. You’ve dealt with so much of this. I’m curious, how do you handle this? How do you navigate? How do you push through? Lastly, do you ever feel not good enough? 

Small things done is better than big things planned. Share on X

Growing up, that was a huge issue for me. My parents are divorced. As much as my dad was my hero, my mom had a lot of issues. I had a difficult childhood. That not good enough button got formed very early on. Going back to that expression I shared, “What you focus on expands. I had one video on TikTok go under a million views. You can imagine a lot of the comments there were not necessarily positive. There were a few that I found myself living rent-free in my head.  

The trick that I’ve learned came from Eckhart Tolle and he talks about tipping your hat. When you see something that you’re trying to release, that not good enough button, badge or whatever, acknowledge it, and say, “I see you.” Tip your hat. Visualize that trigger or that negative thought is someone walking down the street, they’re coming towards you. You can see them coming. They hang around for a minute and then you tip your hat and say, “I see you.” You keep walking. For some reason, that visualization works for me. I would tip my hat and say, “I see you.” The less energy I give it, the smaller it becomes. It’s a miracle. It’s a work in progress.  

When I started my business many years ago, I had a friend of twenty years that triggered that not good enough button in me every conversation we had. It was interesting because I didn’t realize it. It took me a long time and repeated instances where I would hang up the phone and feel gross and sad. I’m judging myself and rethinking everything I said to her and everything she said to me. It took me almost a year, finally, to get the courage to say, “This isn’t working for me. I don’t feel good when I talk to you.” Going back to my thing about 100% accountability, I can’t control her and what she does but I could sure control whether or not I want to be around that nonsense. I had to decide that I deserved better and that there were better friends out there for me. It was one of the best things I ever did.  

It’s funny because she’s someone who still is in the family sphere. Even now, every time I spend time with her, she’s in a dinner or something. She’ll start to trigger that same feeling with one comment. “Is your daughter going to get a job?” She’ll say something like that. My daughter is a pre-med student and probably isn’t going to go work at the tanning place. I would get this defensive feeling. I’ve learned to pay attention to those feelings and ask myself, “Is there something different I could do?” Is there something in what they’re saying, whether it’s a comment on TikTok or someone in my life that comments? Is there a piece of personal accountability there where I need to be open to the feedback and maybe change something? If not, I’ll tip my hat, let it walk on by, and make a decision that, I am not going to give my energy to things that are not going to serve me in the experience of the life I want to create. It isn’t easy. It is something that comes up over and over again.  

Even my husband can say things to me sometimes that I will feel that trigger comes up. I know he doesn’t mean it the way that I’m taking it. It’s that old programming. When people see my bio, one of my certifications is in brain-based success coaching. All that means is I’m a brain geek and I love neuroscience for fun. One of the things that happen is we are programmed biologically towards the negative. We are programmed to look for the threat, look for the thing that might inhibit our survival, and potentially go into fight or flight mode.  

The negative is instantaneous. We’re always looking for the saber-toothed tiger in the room. It’s deep in our subconscious. For example, that not good enough reaction, it served us at one point. There was someplace in our life that we learned that and we felt that we needed that for our survival. Now, it no longer serves us. The way to rewrite those negative programs is with the positive, whether it’s the visualization of tipping your hat. I’m a big believer in positive affirmations. Scientifically, positivity takes a lot more energy, a lot more vibration than negativity for it to take hold. It has to be repetitive, consistent, and intentional. I’ll get off my soapbox.  

It’s a phenomenal soapbox. We would be cheering in the audience and nodding our heads a lot if we were watching you on stage. I’m grateful for that. The tipping your hat visualization is helpful. It’s interesting because I don’t remember reading that. I’ve read a few of Eckhart’s work and seen him speak. It’s perfect. He’s a very soothing person, I find. As soon as you mentioned his name, I was like, “This is going to be good.” Thank you for sharing that.  

When you said that comment about examining and thinking, “Is there anything else I can do?” That’s where I get stuck. It was an a-ha moment for me, Charlene. I got programmed very early on to be constantly improving. What’s interesting is sometimes that is helpful. I was drawn to your account on TikTok because I love to optimize. I need to set more boundaries with that. I need to give myself a break and not constantly be working, changing, and evolving because that’s exhausting. Going back to something that Jason said earlier, our culture encourages that. The whole word hustle is about like, “You got to get keep going, grinding and pushing yourself. There’s always more.” That is detrimental to us.  

I’m reading the book Atomic Habits. One of the lines that sticks out for me in the first chapter is that, “There’s always going to be another goal for us. There’s always going to be another mountain for us to climb. We’ll never feel satisfied if we’re focused on the satisfaction of that goal. Instead, if we focus on that journey and the process of it, we can find further satisfaction. To add to that, we need to give ourselves time where we’re not striving, we’re not working, and we’re not on the journey. If you are on a journey by foot, you’d have to stop and rest. Even though you are eager to get to your destination, you have to give yourself those periods of time where you say, “It’s okay for me to stop for now. I don’t have to keep going all the time.” The a-ha moment that I’m getting from everything you shared, Charlene, is allowing myself to stop and say, “I truly did enough.” Somebody doesn’t find that to be enough, that doesn’t mean that I have to listen to them and keep pushing myself harder. 

MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism

Handle Criticism: If you are intentional about the language you use, particularly in writing, it’s amazing how much more effective it can be.


The question I ask in probably every client meeting I have or every conversation is, “What are our goals here? What is the goal you’re trying to achieve?” Most people don’t think big enough. In those moments, what they think is their goal, it’s easy for that to get sabotaged. When you know your bigger goal, your bigger mission, those little comments and moments when things don’t go well, and maybe even to legitimately make a mistake or do something that isn’t good enough, there are those moments. If you look at it in the context of the bigger goal, it’s not that big a deal. For me, that’s why embracing the keen sense of my mortality has been liberating.  

The true goal for me is that I want to know that, every day, I feel good about the life I am creating. I am playing a long game. I am hoping to live for a long time. In every moment, it’s about creating an experience of life that includes having a business that I’m proud of, creating financial abundance, and financial freedom for myself and my family, making the world a better place, and leaving a legacy. There are other milestone goals. The big goal is to create an experience of a life that I’m excited and happy to live. Whenever that day comes and it’s all done, I’ll be able to say, “That was a good, freaking ride. I feel good about the work that I did. I feel good about the days that I lived. I laughed. I worked. I cried.” Whatever the things are.  

In those moments, it’s not about taking a break to take a break because you “need to.” That opens up a whole new layer of criticism, like, “I should take a day off.” I get into that where I sometimes will be like, “I need to take a break but why? What is the goal? Who says?” I’m like, “What are our goals here? My goal is to live a rich, fulfilling, vibrant, happy, and healthy life.” I’m taking three full days off, which I haven’t done in a long time. I don’t mean taking a day off. I’ve already told my family I am taking care of no one but myself for three days. The reason for that is not because I should, could, deserve it, or need to. It’s because I’m playing a longer game, by taking a break, by taking care of myself, by having that clarity break, I am going to be able to do more later. I’m going to make myself healthier. I’m going to open myself up to innovation and creativity in a way that I can’t do when I’m going a million miles an hour.  

All that to say, we need to take a break and it’s for a bigger goal not because someone says, “You got to take a break. You have to work out. You have to be healthy.” You don’t have to do anything. You can do whatever the hell you want to do. Know what your goal is and make sure that you’re thinking big enough and being the best you can be for your business. For example, writing the best emails. That’s not that important. What’s important is how that fits into the bigger goal and reminding yourself of what the bigger goal is so that you can prioritize what you’re going to give your energy to and what you’re going to let go. 

You gave me another a-ha moment, Charlie. I’m grateful. When you ask that question, what is your goal? I suddenly had this realization that I’ve spent so much of my life with the goal of pleasing other people. When somebody shows dissatisfaction or criticism, I think, I failed. I didn’t please them. They’re dissatisfied. I’m a failure. I’m not good enough. I got to try harder. I got to do it again.” The problem is, no matter how hard I’ve tried in all of my endeavors, everything I’m doing, whether it’s creating content or making a product, I could go on and on about these constant scenarios, being a friend. When I feel like I’ve hurt someone, dissatisfied someone, bother someone, irritated them, let someone down, it’s a huge sense of failure.  

Learning that, Charlene, it’s like, “I need to stop. Why did that become a goal of my life?” If I know I can’t please everyone and please myself simultaneously, I need to step away from that goal and that desire and find something else to focus on because that’s no longer serving me. This leads me to another thing I want to touch on with you, which is around the Law of Attraction. I’m curious about how you’re feeling about that. You mentioned affirmations. You also mentioned that you wanted to touch upon the Law of Attraction, which is something that Jason and I are interested in but have mixed feelings on these days. In the past, I was into it. I was into manifesting, visualizing and saying affirmations. Maybe you can jump in, Jason, about how you’re feeling about it to better express it. 

I have mixed emotions around it. There are fundamental principles that the Law of Attraction resonates and I have certainly seen it as effective in my life as an experiment. There are other aspects of the law of attraction that I think, for me, are a bit woo-woo. I’ve got crystals all over the house. I’ve got my mantras. I’ve got my prayer beads. I’m a very woo person. There was an eye-opening meme where some interesting people were deconstructing certain influencers talking about manifesting and magnetism and the Law of Attraction. It was a play on the Maybelline theme song that said, “Maybe you manifested. Maybe it’s a privilege.”  

There are some people that are walking around and talking about manifesting that if you maybe look under the hood, you’re like, “I see the life you grew up in. I see the advantages that you had.” When you talk about manifesting, it’s almost like there’s not enough conversation around the foundation that was laid for you in your life that allowed you to manifest those things. I have some concerns with some of the ways that people are talking about manifesting because that privilege may play a big part in that. 

I can definitely see that, particularly if the definition or the way we talk about the Law of Attraction is materialistic. Interestingly enough, I use the principles of what you focus on expands more for things that are not physical or financial. Also, I know that I’ve used it to overcome some scarcity mindset that not good enough reprogramming. I do think it’s helpful reprogramming our brain to an abundance mindset financially. Even more importantly, it’s been scientifically proven that we can create better health and peace within our hearts and minds through thinking about things different way. I would zoom out to the definition or the use of the tool.  

There are rich and poor assholes in the world. Somebody being financially abundant doesn’t mean that they’re an abundant person even if they say they meditate or use the Law of Attraction or whatever. It’s about living life a certain way. Also, it is healthy to have that perspective and to have an honest conversation with ourselves. Particularly, if we are white and middle class, we are privileged. There’s no question. Historically and in current times, we are privileged. It’s the reality. Also, how we approach the world, how we think about our lives, the good we tried to do in our lives, and the way we treat other people in whatever way feels comfortable or feels like we can make an impact to make the world a better place. That isn’t the overriding factor.  

We are programmed biologically towards the negative that might inhibit our survival. Share on X

Generally, I also would say that when it comes to things like the Law of Attraction or whatever, the reason why it’s worked for me is it’s never been something that I’ve done with great intensity all the time. There are little moments every day that I think about what I’m grateful for. The big piece is gratitude. It has a piece to play in that, even if it is being grateful for a certain level of privilege and acknowledging that. Also, I’m so grateful for the people in my life, my kids. I know many amazing individuals. I was able to make room for that because I was willing to let go of one person who wasn’t that great for me. The idea of the Law of Attraction can happen in every moment in many small ways. It doesn’t mean you have to have a vision board. I don’t do a vision board. I don’t know about you guys. Do you do a vision board? 

I for the first time, Charlene, I shredded my vision board. 

Good for you. How about you, Whitney, do you do a vision board?  

I occasionally do. I haven’t done one recently because it hasn’t been a priority, frankly. I have in the past. In my vision board, I like to put on my desktop background because I’m on my computer more than anything else. I found that it’s a helpful way for me to keep seeing the images on a more regular basis and that’s been effective. 

Here’s another one of my mantras, “Small things done are always better for me than great things planned.” For the longest freaking time, I had two vision boards on my to-do list because I felt like that was going to be the catalyst or my Law of Attraction thing that I was going to do. It was a project. It was weird because I was beating myself up. I kept moving, “Do a vision board. Move forward on my to-do list. That was a few years ago.  

I officially decided to not do a vision board. Instead, I look for those micro-moments of visualization. I don’t so much call it the Law of Attraction. It’s alignment thinking or expansion thinking or creative visualization. I’ll be in the shower and I have a little visualization I do where I imagine that the universe is conspiring for me. I have this quick visualization that I do where I imagine a whole bunch of little lights in the earth coming up and creating energy for me, conspiring on my behalf. Up in the sky, there’s a whole bunch of little lights of all the energy in the universe coming down and inspiring success in my life. It’s these little moments of imagining that I’m not alone and that I have all of this energy around me that’s helping me. It’s a moment of visualization.  

Other times, when I wake up in the morning, I might lay in bed and say some affirmations like, “Life is a gift.” I wake up every day and realize that, “Life is a gift. I’m grateful for everything that I have. I think through and acknowledge each person in my family and visualize visiting them while they’re sleeping and giving them a kiss on the forehead and saying, “Thank you for you.” I visualize my house in my living room and I’m on a lake. I look out at the lake and I’m like, “Thank you for this view. How lucky am I?” I put that energy out there and all these little ways as I walk around.  

I walked outside. We have a little porch where my cats like to go. I opened the porch door and I let the cats go in there. It was cold. I walked back inside and it was nice and warm and I said, “My life is filled with so much warmth. I have so much warmth in my life.” All those little micro-moments of appreciating and attracting more of what I want in my life, that has had a much bigger impact on everything that I’ve created and everything that’s been created for me than if I had done a vision board. It doesn’t need to be a project. It’s the micro-moments. Anyone can do it at any time. 

How do we start to foster a sense of appreciation? The word that comes to mind, Charlene, is daily appreciation. Going back to what we talked about earlier in this episode of people focusing on maybe the more negative aspects I suppose of life or victim consciousness or feeling like they’re stuck in metaphorical quicksand in their lives. What I found for myself and I have talked to other people, it’s easy to feel appreciated when things are “going good” in life. When we’re faced with massive challenges, pain, struggle or those things, in those moments, how do you recommend we break through that and anchor in appreciation in the tougher moments? 

I lost both my parents. I had a lot of grief about that, especially my dad. I was at the Enlightened Warrior Training Camp and there was a guy there, his name was Hawk. He was an Indian chief. He mentioned that he lost his seventeen-year-old daughter to cancer. I said, “How do you get over that? How do you reconcile your grief?” He said, “The way I look at it, death is a moment. For me to give so much energy to that moment would take away all of the amazing seventeen years that we had and all of those memories. What a cheat that would be? How unfair would that be?”  

I went into this intense meditation experience. I know this sounds crazy but I had a visit with my dad and there were no drugs involved, believe it or not. There was no payout or anything. I had a breakthrough where I reconciled my grief by basking in the appreciation for all the time I had with him. He was 80 when he died. We had great experiences. He taught me so much. From there, there have been all these other moments.  

This could have been a shitty day because my son got sent home from school because the kid who sits next to him was diagnosed with COVID. He was tested positive for COVID. My initial reaction was, “I don’t have time for this now.” There is a part of me that’s annoyed and scared. Of course, there’s a lot of negative feelings that I could indulge, and yet how lucky are we that the school recognized that there was an exposure. They called. They took my son out of the situation. We have healthcare. We are privileged in many ways.  

I get to go take him for a COVID test. We have access to that. We have a family and a home that can support quarantining him if we need to. I’m grateful that he is healthy. I want him to stay healthy. I’m going to put lots of energy into his good health. I’m going to put lots of energy into what we’re grateful for. It takes intentionality and it’s not always easy. It feels way better. This might be my inner control freak. It gives me something to focus on that I can control. It’s in those moments. It is those small things done over great things planned and doing the best we can in every moment to see how we can shift our perspective so that you create the experience of life we want to live. I’m going back to that same thing. I’m like a broken record here. 

It’s good. We need reinforcement. It’s important sometimes that we reflect on these messages and read them multiple times. We hear from marketing that it takes a minimum of seven impressions to start to plant a seed in our subconscious. With all the messages you’ve shared here, Charlene, and all the wonderful isms that Whitney and I have been furiously writing in our notebooks. I’m chomping at the bit to share those.  

I want to talk about cats because I feel like we haven’t done enough justice to the cat world. I have a macro question. Some people are like, “I’m a cat person. I’m team dog. I would never go to the other side.” I’m curious now that you are a cat lady as am I, what is it about the energy and the demeanor of cats that you enjoy? What do you like about their personalities and their general joie de vivre with life? 

I am team cat. I have zero desire to have a dog. No offense to anyone who loves dogs. In a weird way, I secretly love that they’re judging me all the time. Maybe that’s indulging old programming. They walk around and look at me like, “You’re going to eat that?” Also, at the same time, they have this unconditional consistency about them. They’re not that demanding. Sure, they want to eat and stuff like that. We have two cats that are different personality types. For example, Rose, I call her Rosie, she’s an older cat. She’s a lovey. If I am next to her and I put my hand to go pet her, she’ll take my hand and snuggle it under her whole body and she’ll cuddle in. It’s that immediate feeling of unconditional love, warmth, and fuzzy feeling.  

Our other cat, Jet, is a rescue. He was a street cat. We saved him off a kill list. He’s a tough guy. He tries to play all tough and if you go near to pet him, he’ll roll over and start to bite and paw. He has soft paws. There’s no claws or anything. He’s trying to be playful. It has that moment of taking one’s mind off of everything else. Cats have that way of captivating attention that is so unique. I don’t know, maybe dogs do it too and I have never had experience with dogs. They don’t need to be walked. Their poops are pretty small. They’re pretty easy to take care of. Fairly low maintenance, which I appreciate because I do not need more to do. 

MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism

Handle Criticism: Scientifically, positivity takes a lot more energy and vibration than negativity for it to take hold.


I love your summation, Charlene. I’m shaking my head the whole time and going, “This is why I love cats, too.” Charlene, I appreciate your sense of joyfulness, lightness, wisdom, playfulness. Your personality is fantastic. It feels like we have been in a room together next to a fireplace, having a mug of hot cocoa, talking about life with you. To me, that’s so endearing. In conclusion, we adore you, Charlene. You’re such a gem. Thank you for sharing your heart, spirit, and your wisdom here on the show. 

In full disclosure, I had two objectives here, Charlene, which was to help Jason write even better emails and to get him on TikTok. I’m kidding but I’m glad that he’s going to get your book, Charlene because that means for our reader that we’ll be even better communicators whenever we send you a message and you can thank Charlene for that. 

My pleasure. I am the easiest person to find online. I’m Charlene Ignites everywhere. People can link into me, TikTok, InstagramTwitterFacebook. I’m always excited to help people. If someone is struggling with writing their emails or they feel like they have sales head trash, they’re welcome to send me a message and we can have a conversation or have a quick email exchange. This is fun for me and I’m excited to help as many people as I can. I appreciate being here. Thank you so much.


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About Charlene DeCesare

MGU 192 Charlene DeCesare | Handle Criticism Charlene DeCesare is a sales advisor with 28 years of building successful sales organizations around the world. As CEO of Charlene Ignites, LLC and Founder of Firewalk Sales, she specializes in helping teams, small businesses, and entrepreneurs gain confidence and competence in business building skills. She is also a Certified Sales Leader (CSL) through Sales Xceleration, and an active Lead Consultant with RAIN Group.

Before developing her personal brand into a full-time business venture, Charlene co-founded the multi-million-dollar company, EdAssist, now owned by Bright Horizons. Prior to that, she spent 10 years at Gartner, Inc. leading an international sales team, and helping the most respected technology companies in the world extend their brand message. Charlene was also a membership growth leader at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), and the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Boardroom Events.

Charlene has a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College and an M.B.A. in Sales & Marketing from Rivier University. She is a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association and a Nationally Certified Brain-Based Success Coach.
In addition to being featured in dozens of national articles and blogs, Charlene was recently peer-reviewed and published in the Professional Journal of Brand Strategy. She is also the author of The Email Cemetery: Where Bad Sales Emails Go to Die & How to Resuscitate Yours which launched as a #1 Best Seller in eight categories, including “Sales & Selling.”
Charlene lives on a lake in Salem, NH with her husband of 22 years Rob, their children — Steven (15), Makayla (20), stepson Austin (30), and their cats Jett (4) and Rose (9).
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