Entrepreneurship success is not something that can be achieved overnight or only by yourself. It takes years of hard work, an ever-growing knowledge base, and a couple of trusted people you can rely on. In this episode, twin sisters Deborah Byrd of Plug And Play and Denise Donoghue of The Mortgage Nerd share their struggles and achievements from childhood to adulthood. They talk about their experiences being raised by a single father, their powerful advocacy for mental health treatment, and initiating life-changing disruptions in their chosen careers. Deborah and Denis also open up about the many lessons they learned from their coaches, colleagues, and even their own children.
Listen to the podcast here
Entrepreneurship Success From The Lens Of Twins With Deborah Byrd And Denise Donoghue
You folks are going to be so happy to read about these two unbelievable light carriers. We have a pair of sisters, but what’s cool, a pair of twin sisters. What most of you don’t know is I have twins that are my grandbabies. I’m looking forward to dive into the dynamic of being a twin. We have the one and only Deborah Byrd, who is part of the Mortgage Coach team, their unbelievable show, and their weekly broadcast. She is the President of Plug and Play, a successful female entrepreneur who is going to light you up.
We also have Denise Donoghue. Denise is called The Mortgage Nerd. If you have not followed The Mortgage Nerd, you need to. Imagine being this, because I know we have a ton of real estate agents, loan originators, and branch managers. Imagine being in the top 1% of your profession. That is who Denise is. The Mortgage Nerd is in the top 1%, over 700 closings in 2021.
What is cool is they have a show that’s very similar to ours. If you’ve heard enough of me and you’ve figured out how to bridge the gap from who you are to who you want to become, and from where you are to where you want to go, you folks need to check out their show, The Nerd and The Byrd. They are telling the untold stories of successful people in real estate, mortgage, or any facet of entrepreneurship. With that said, I want to welcome you to the show. We are going to say what’s up to the Nerd and the Byrd. I’m going to talk to Denise first. Denise, welcome.
Thank you. I am so happy to be here. I’m honored to be here. I’m excited to carry the light, so thank you for having me and my sister.
Deborah, good to see you. How are you, dear?
I feel like it’s only fitting that I’m second. In fact, I even gave Denise a hard time on the title, The Nerd and the Byrd. I’m like, “Why am I always second?” To be fair, she was the first one out to shoot, so there you go. She goes first.
Whose idea was it?
For The Nerd and the Byrd?
It’s a funny story. When we were both originating, I had this massive insecurity. I was a former Middle School Science teacher and girls athletic coach, and my sister lured me into the mortgage business. To be completely transparent, I needed to earn more income. I realized, as a teacher, the $11 pay raises weren’t quite keeping up with inflation.
Anyways, when I got into the industry, I thought, “Who’s going to want to do alone with me when my identical twin is The Mortgage Nerd?” We look alike, sound alike, and have the same products. The joke was, every time I would go somewhere, every networking event, someone would be like, “Are you The Mortgage Nerd?” I was like, “No, I’m the Byrd.”
That was the joke because everywhere I would go, I’d be like, “Go ahead and change the digits and put mine in. You can send my application link.” We just always went with The Nerd and The Byrd. My brother then said that he was the turd, so there you go.
Just like a total ADD entrepreneur, the question I ask is, whose idea was it to do the show?
It was Deborah’s.
It was Deborah’s idea to do the show. We could do a whole show on why you wanted a show and what that means, but we’re here to talk about this thing called attitude. To have two successful females is huge because a lot of our audience is females. Denise, if I can talk with you, what unheralded levels of success you’ve had? What I always like to ask is this, number one, how do you define attitude? Number two, who was your first attitude coach?
I would define attitude as when you wake up in the morning, the tone of your day. You’re responsible for the tone of your day, and it’s a choice. You could wake up, and on your way to the bathroom, you could stump your toe. That might be for the rest of your day. You might just be a little salty for the whole day or you could bump your toe, go to the bathroom, and carry on with your day. Do your affirmations or listen to a positive show. I think it’s a daily choice that you make minute by minute throughout your day. It’s the tone I would say is my first coach.You are responsible for the tone of your day. It is a daily choice you make minute by minute. Click To Tweet
Your first attitude coach, not your first coach. The one when you think about who taught you that definition. Who was that person? Tell us a little bit about them.
I would say when I graduated college, my first job was a one-call close phone sales. You’ve got a lot of rejection and the company made you do 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon of what they called personal development. Which meant you listened to a CV of either Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar because you’re in a work environment where you’re constantly getting hung up on.
If I was to say my first, I do think Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar taught me the meaning of gratitude, of waiting, even if you had no sales that day and you might be upset, how to trigger your mind to positive thoughts. I would consider that an attitude coach, even though it was through a CD at the time. I would chalk it up to that.
We’ve all been there. Deborah, how about you? The same question. What’s your definition of attitude and who would you consider your first attitude coach?
I would say attitude could be a belief, a feeling, a mind state, a mindset that, to me, reflects what’s going on in the inner game and how you perceive certain outcomes. It’s your choice of response to certain events. It can be an attitude toward yourself, an attitude toward others, an attitude toward an event. That’s how I would define attitude.
It’s a hard one with the attitude coach because, I’ll tell you, there are not a lot of them. A lot of times, even in business, you have business coaches that constantly focus on skills and they leave out attitudes. If I had to say the first unofficial, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a pure attitude coach, but my dad did a great job when I was younger.
Every shot that I would miss and every goal that I wouldn’t make. I was very critical of myself. I would say I would beat myself up mentally. You could see because I had an identical twin who was a little less critical of themselves. You could see how two people in the same household could have different perspectives or results based on what they believed to be true about themselves.
My dad was always onto me about not sweating the small stuff, and what’s the mental talk like, “What are you telling yourself?” I used to hide on the bench like, “I hope the coach doesn’t call on me. Coach called on me, so I hope I do okay.” I would say the unofficial coach would’ve been my dad, who was onto me from my mental game from a very young age.
I don’t know that there are any official attitude coaches. I was a coach and I guess people still consider me a coach, but I’ll let whoever wants to answer this one first to answer it. When it comes to your attitude in your life, when did you stand back and go, “I did that and I did that because of my attitude.”
Was there a time in your life when you were under great stress or under great decision-making and had to make a big decision? You did it, you went through with it and you said, “I’m proud of myself. I can’t believe I did that.” I’d love to hear those stories from each of you, whoever wants to go first.
I’ll jump in and go. First, I would say my whole world was basketball when I was a senior in high school. I’m 5’4” and I thought I was going to play in the WNBA. Unfortunately, our older sister got all the height, and we were left as 5’4” but my world for the last four years was basketball. I was, at that time, getting offers in the mail for scholarships. We grew up poor. I thought if I was going to go to college, it meant I was going to have to get a scholarship. Our older sister got a scholarship in sports.
I started realizing in that moment of life that if I’m 5’4”, I’m probably not going to wind up in the WNBA. I was getting some D-3 offers and such, but I had decided at the risk of disappointing my dad. I decided, “I’m not going to play. I am going to go to a community college for two years because I couldn’t afford a regular school.” I was going to transfer to the best school University in Texas, which we all know is Texas A&M. I was going to learn about Business and Finance. Are you an Aggie?
One of my best friends was the old head coach of the football team there, Kevin Sumlin. I don’t know if you ever heard of Kevin Sumlin or not.
I have run out of the Texas A&M locker room as they played Alabama on Aggie Field at Kyle Field. I’ve been in the locker room and experienced Kyle Field several times. Thank you, Kevin Sumlin, wherever you are. He’s best friends with my brother, and there’s nothing better than Aggie football. Anyway, go ahead. I’m sorry.
There’s nothing better. What’s even better is that we beat Arkansas by a little. I’ve never seen that ever happen in football history right on the top. It was like one of the greatest moments of 2022. At any rate, I transferred to A&M and it was the first time a Donoghue had gone to a big-name school. I paid for it myself. I didn’t take out any student loans. I worked hard and worked multiple jobs.
When you graduate from A&M or when you get a certain number of hours, you get the A&M Marine. I remember thinking to myself, “If I could get through school, debt free, get to dunk my ring, I will be so proud of myself,” and I did. It was scary because I went against the grain. My dad always wanted us to play sports. He was like, “If that’s your decision, you’re going to have to find a way to pay for it.” I think ultimately, it made me value a dollar and how to get it done, but that was probably my first, “This is an adult decision. I hope I don’t let myself down.”
The lesson in that is what? You literally graduated debt-free from Texas A&M?
How did you do that? Not like I worked three jobs and I cold-called. That’s good, but what was it inside of you? What was it between your ears? What was it inside the heart and the guts and the mind? What kept you going? What did you tell yourself that wouldn’t allow yourself to quit?
Honestly, I am blessed and my mind is wired to always work smarter and not harder. I honestly didn’t have to grind it out too much because I was strategic. I started an eBay business. Those of you reading and don’t know what eBay is, it used to be a popular way to make money. Now, there are a million other different ways, but I started an eBay business selling Dallas Mavericks jerseys and Dallas Star jerseys. In Dallas, you could get them very cheaply, but you couldn’t in other parts.
I didn’t have to have an inventory. I started an eBay business. It was making me quite a bit of money. My roommates all played on the soccer team and we got together because, by the time I transferred in, I said, “Why don’t we buy a house instead of living in a dorm? I’ll property manage it. We’ll split the mortgage four different ways. I’ll pay all the bills, so I want a discount.”
Two of my roommate’s parents went in together, bought it and I negotiated paying the water and other stuff. Rent’s one of the most expensive parts. My rent was cheap because I was responsible, and we divided up that mortgage. I didn’t want to work 24 hours a day. I had the eBay thing. I worked at a bank as a teller.
Every day, I was like, “I don’t want to graduate with a bunch of student loan debt.” You don’t have to, but that also doesn’t mean that you have to work your tail off if you look for ways to think smarter, especially in this day and age with the internet and all. There are so many creative ways, non-traditional ways. I think traditionally it’s like you go to college, get a degree, get a job, then you work from 8:00 to 5:00 for the rest of your life until you retire. That’s the traditional way, but there are a lot of untraditional ways that can be done that doesn’t mean you have to grind for the rest of your life.
That’s good. I love that. Deborah, let’s go to you. Tell me the time of your life when you surprised yourself with your attitude or made a major decision.
I’m going to go with a recent one and that is when I launched my social media marketing company, Plug and Play SM because at the time, I had been working several jobs. I was the CEO of a family law firm. I was still somewhat managing a mortgage branch with seven loan officers where I wasn’t originating, but I helped with the management and would get certain overrides. I always had these safety nets.
I was proud of myself when I left teaching and I could join my sister’s team, but I still had the safety net of Denise. She was there to help me guide the way. She already paved the way. The day that I decided to burn the boats and go all in, which meant I had to believe in myself. For some reason, that had been a struggle for very long years of my life.
It was a time when I was like, “I’m tired of making everybody else a lot of money. I am worthy enough to now have all the focus on me and what gift and what light I can share with the world. Why am I playing small?” I was like, “I’m either going to end up dead if I keep at this rate with four kids and multiple things that I had my hands in,” because I wasn’t trusting myself that I could do it. Unofficially, when I did this in 2018, it allowed me to get super focused. My dad raised us from six months old and on.
He raised us like boys and it was always sink or swim. There was never an option to sink, but it was letting go of the little safety nets where I was driving myself crazy. I was working hard, not smart, and having a new belief system or attitude like, “I can do this.” I have everyone else in my world telling me I’m worthy enough, I can, but until I adopted it. It may have taken a few painful lessons that kept reoccurring because I am also hardheaded to eventually say, “Screw this. I’m going to do it and we’ll see what happens.” Usually, I always succeed. It meant taking action and cutting the cord.
I love that. In our book, The ABC’s of Attitude, we talk about this thing called a critical question. In times of great decision-making and great stress in your life, which I’m guessing both of you have had in your life. Some of us walk around with a question in our head that we constantly ask ourselves. I always tell people that mine was, what does can’t mean? I would always, no matter what it was, “What does can’t mean?” Sometimes when you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.
When you think about those times of great difficulty, stress or when it’s time for you to push or go deep. Do you folks have a question that you feel runs in your mind or used to run in your mind that you can come up with or not? I’m curious. Usually, 70% of my rooms come up with it and 30% go, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” Do you live by a question that you constantly ask yourself in your mind?
I would say one for me is I would often ask, why not me? Why couldn’t this be me? I would have certain dreams or certain visions and I could always see and help promote other people, as you said earlier, before we started. Someone’s proud of her sister. It was always easy for me to lift others. Constantly, I would have to ask, “Why don’t I do that for me or why not me? Why can’t I?” It was not an easy one to answer because I was playing small in reality.
That’s what happens. The question that drives our life often disempowers us, lowers the bar, and puts us in this feeling of certainty. Denise, do you have a question you often ask yourself or ask yourself to this day that roams in your mind all the time?
I’m one of those that don’t. No. It’s funny because my husband and I are so very different. He’s from the East Coast, but he always tells me that I, in a nice way. I live in this La La Land of everything is going to be okay because I don’t ever think negatively. It’s almost to a fault, to be honest. It’s always, “What’s next?” Someone hit my car, it’s not a big deal.
I wish I was more intentional every morning with a question in my mind, but I don’t. My mind is always unconsciously focused on everything’s going to be fine or what’s next. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad trait. It’s bad when you have a kid because now that we have a son together, I have learned that it can be a bad trait because your kid touches something that’s super germy. My mind doesn’t go to, “There’s a lot of germs on there. He put his hands in his mouth.” My mind’s not wired that way. I don’t know how and why that happened. It can be to a fault, but no, I don’t have a question that runs through my mind every day.
When your kid touches something that’s really germy and he puts it in his mouth, your mind goes to, “He’s probably building up his defense system and so that’s all good.” I always play this thing called the attitude game. We come up with the worst scenarios that could happen. You have to find the positive in it. That’s how I’m wired too, which is interesting. Now I want to just pick up on something.
It sounds like you guys were raised by a single father. Is that right? Did you not have a mom in your life or give me that story?
We have two different perspectives on this, but yes, to answer your question. We were raised by a single dad. Oftentimes, people think that our mom may have passed away and that’s not the case. Our parents got divorced at a very young age. My mom is a highly successful female in New York City, but she was diagnosed with a mental illness.
The attorneys deemed that she wasn’t mentally fit to raise kids. She would argue something different, but at that time, years ago, it was very uncommon for a female not to get custody of their children. My dad had a lot of money and the best attorneys that you could afford and he won that battle. We were raised, me specifically. I didn’t have any relationship with my mom growing up. Deborah did, which is a fun dynamic. For me, it was predominantly my dad.
Deborah, what’s your dynamic on that and how did that affect your attitude?
Denise and I were delivery table surprise twins. The whole time, they thought it was one baby. My mom was the breadwinner head of marketing and sales at Xerox, which was also rare back then. Very free-spirited. We were six months old when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar. She was in and out of mental institutions. When she would get released, my dad was also a womanizer and had lots of women. He was inheriting a bunch of money that was coming to him.
From about six months old into first or second grade, that’s how long the custody battle was. For anyone who’s had a custody battle, it’s very costly. It was very rare for a man to get full custody of three girls because we have an older sister who’s four years older. It was very difficult for our mom as well. Out of all of the sisters, I don’t know what it was. My mom used to joke that since I was the second one out. Denise calls it a mistake. I called it a miracle.
That’s the power of word choice. In fact, why she named me Deborah and it’s spelled like Debora, a biblical female leader in the Bible. She had said, “You came here.” For whatever reason, I had chosen to keep a relationship with my mom. It was like I would find rides to a mental institution and there’s a red line and she’s in a straight-jacket. That’s when I fell in love with just human beings because I would go to these psych wards, halfway houses, and government housing. I’m learning sign language because there are people there who teach sign language.
I fell in love with the human souls. I didn’t care if you were Black, White, Green, Gray, short or tall. I saw what they wanted so badly and we all want the same thing. We sometimes go about it in different ways, but I found it fascinating that here you have these humans that probably the worst thing you could do is put them in a padded cell away from their family or newborn twins and shove a bunch of medicine down their throat.
While we preach, “Be you. Be authentic. You should be accepted for who you are.” Not if you’re crazy because when you’re crazy, they want you to take medicine. When she lost the battle with custody with us, my sisters didn’t want to go see her, which was a lot of my dad’s doing. I would say a little bit of manipulation.
For whatever reason, I was like, “I feel convicted that this is my mom and I should go see her.” There were times she would do some bizarre things that were very embarrassing. We had sports come into play where I knew I was supposed to go see her that weekend, but we had a Labor Day tournament because we played club ball.
I would feel this guilt. I know the last time she wanted to take her life. The nurses told me she would always wait for my coloring sheets until I arrived. I felt such pain for her while also seeing no matter what she did and even when she would try her best, she would almost push them away, my sisters more. I would come back home to my dad’s house and it was almost like, “How dare you betray us? You would go see your mom.”
There was a little bit of an attitude there. A little bit of bruising and ganged up on a little bit until the next episode. I don’t know what made me resilient to get through it other than I felt this higher conviction of, “She’s my mom.” No matter how crazy she is, I want a mom. All these stepmoms that would come in every other week that would come and go. I was like, “That’s not our mom.” I’ve always had a relationship with her. It’s not always been easy, but I will say it’s what launched my passion. The whole Patch Adams, for those of you who have ever watched Patch Adams with Robin Williams, I fell in love with human souls in that moment.
I can’t help but think the question that goes through your mind, “Why not me?” Did it maybe originate from all that pain and trauma? It creates who you are. Certainly, big producers like your mother, top executives here. I think we all know this, Denise. I’m not saying that you are either, but big producers are nuts. They’re schizophrenic and manic and it’s a common trait in highly successful people. I don’t know how deep. We want to shed the light on mental illness in our show.
There’s plenty of mental illness in my family. We’ve not suffered with it. We’ve embraced it and we’ve tried to turn it into a positive. What’s the lesson of mental illness that you’ve learned either of you or both of you? If somebody’s struggling who’s reading this now that may have a mental illness, what message would you like to send to them or what would you like to say to them? Either about your experience.
How can you spread the light to the person that’s sitting there going, “That sounds like my mom or my dad? I feel you, sisters.” Give us some hope and light on how you got through it, what you tell yourself, what’s your interpretation, or how can you help somebody reading on the other end of the microphone now about it?
I think you’re right. When I would go visit my mom, deep down, never feeling good enough because I sacrificed so much to go be with her. I always thought I could fix her. I always thought I could make her happy. I could make her feel loved. Every time I saw her, it was in tears because my sisters weren’t there. I never felt like it was enough. I had to learn, “I’m not the savior and it is not my responsibility. Nor could I make anybody happy.”
My job is to know that she’s loved and try to seek understanding overtaking things so personally because it’s almost like when you’re arguing with a toddler. There’s no reasoning with someone. When I was younger and even I would say to my younger twenties. I used to take it personally with some of the things that she would say or she would do.
She’s not firing on all cylinders all the time. You take into consideration when they start changing up some of the medication or if you move, you have to see a new psychiatrist. It can be hard to feel right because some of the medicine has side effects. It makes you sleepy or nauseous. For those who suffer from it, I have such empathy for because it’s a lot of times in invisible illness.
I often tell my kids not talking about privilege in any other way other than it’s such a privilege to wake up and not have this invisible illness or diagnosis that nobody can see. When you’re pregnant, people can see, so you have everyone holding the door open for you. When you have this mental condition, that can sometimes make you act like a drug addict when you’re not. The world can be mean.
I would say don’t take it personally. Try to come from a place of understanding while not taking ownership where it’s not your job to fix or heal them. They may not think that they’re broken. If you are someone that feels like you’re broken, then I would say, remember the acronym HOPE, so hang on or hold on, pain ends. It does end and you’ll get through it like anything. Sometimes the new medicine, you may have to weed it out. The positive is at least which medication doesn’t work. You may have to go through a lot of those to finally get to the one that does. That’s the only way you’re going to get to that end-point. You may have to go through some of the wrong turns.
Denise, what do you have to give us about your experience that might help those reading?
Before I answer that, listening to Deborah, I get this vision of a lighthouse. This whole thing about shining your light. Couldn’t you listen to her all day? It’s like she understands and empathizes so well. I wished I had that ability and I don’t. I think of a lighthouse like you’re on a ship and it’s dark. You don’t know where to go, then all of a sudden, you see this lighthouse. It’s like, “Okay.” That’s the Deborah in our family, so you folks know.
I’m sure the audience reading is like, “She just makes me feel better.” I would speak from the sense of being the kid and learning what I’ve learned in sales. If you’re someone that’s reading and you’re in sales, I read a statistic that said you are 30% more likely to be depressed when you’re in sales. I think it’s like in the high teens to be addicted to drugs or alcohol or whatever.
If you’re an addict and in sales, then you’re screwed, which most of us are but anyway, go ahead.
Knowing that and sharing that statistic, I would hope that the people reading, especially being a working mom, it’s like, “Holy smokes, we are juggling a lot.” Now, most of us are working full-time. We’ve got kids, soccer practices and we’re trying to keep our man happy and our kids happy. Know you’re doing a lot. Give yourself allowances. Give yourself breaks.
One of the things I love to do is schedule. I call it a me-cation once a quarter. I used to feel guilty about it because I worked so much. I can’t possibly leave my children or my man, but once a quarter, I will schedule a me-cation, which usually means somewhere local because I don’t want to deal with traveling and all that.
I’ll book a hotel room for a couple of nights. It’s the most boring thing, but I’ll eat potato chips in bed and I’ll go to the spa and it brings me joy. What I’ve learned in this go-go world is to ask yourself the question, what brings you joy? The giddiness of joy, like riding a bike, brings me joy. It’s fun for me. Ask yourself that question, then schedule a me-cation. It’s four times a year or once a year. I don’t care what it is.
It’s healthy for your husband to do the same. Sleep in, leave the toothpaste out with no judgment, but I think that puts you in such a positive space. It slows your world down. It lets you focus on yourself. It’s healthy. Know that there are a lot of people that might not be walking around with a sign above their head that says, “I’m feeling in the dumps now,” because we’re programmed to say, “How are you doing? I’m doing great.” That’s what I would say. Know that there are probably a lot more people in your same boat, but you’re not going to see it on social media. You’re not going to see it with people walking around with signs in your head. Take the time to dig in on that and think about some mutations in your life.
That’s so cool. Great antidotes from both of you. Let me ask you. I’m going to go off the beaten path a little bit. Did you have grandparents in your life?
Not really. Our parents were older when they had us. Not a great relationship. My mom’s dad was a preacher. She had married in. She was only 20 and my dad had a 7-year-old son at the time. He’s your typical Black jacket, Boston, Massachusetts guy. Not a whole lot of approval as he’s smoking a camel cigarette.
They knew some of the physical and mental abuse that was going on in the household. Divorce is not an option when you marry as a preacher’s daughter. There were several tough moments that she could have left and they were married for nineteen years. It was a long time before they ended up getting divorced and before her illness was even exposed or ignited, so to speak.
They lived in Florida. My dad’s parents had died when we were real young. We never knew. Our coaches believe it or not, our sports coaches were like our adopted parents. Sometimes when you’re waiting for the ride and you’re sitting on the curb. It’s after a game. You have life talk. That’s why I wanted to be a teacher and a coach because of my mentor, who taught me science and coached.
I thought if it weren’t for him, I don’t know if I would’ve become who I did when I did. Our coaches were always and our friends and their parents. They could see what was going on because our dad went from inheriting a lot of money. Never paid inheritance tax, which is a little bit of a mistake. Make sure you pay your taxes right then went bankrupt.
Denise and I had our first job in 7th grade. We were hiding the fact that we were the rich kids, then we went to the poor kids but were too proud to get the free and reduced lunch. We still had a lot of pride and ego. When your dad, who’s probably a borderline narcissist and it worked for advantage too because we learned how to be such high achievers because when we achieved is when our dad showed love. He wasn’t like an I-love-you-guy or very affectionate, but when you made him look good, he was proud. You’d get like the nod maybe at most.
That would be narcissism for sure.
We were great at wearing the mask. I think women can relate to this. You think you have to be able to do it all. We don’t ask for help and we do it because we’re thinking of everything ahead of time and you just go. After my fourth kid, that’s when I was like, “Here’s my Wonder Woman cape. It is going in the trash and I’m lighting that baby on fire.” because of the perfectionism.Women do not need to wear masks and pretend they know everything. You can ask for help instead of simply jumping to do something. Click To Tweet
It used to be every Lego went into the Lego bin. Every action figure went into the action figure. I was obsessed with organization and four kids in five and a half years. I was like, “Do we all have shoes on?” I don’t even care if they’re on the right foot. “Are we all getting out the door on time with clothes on and shoes? All right, let’s go.”
After this episode, I will be taking in my four grandkids that are all under six years old.
That was my world.
I will not be putting Legos at all. We’ll be outside burning fire. Let’s hit the coaches then real quick. I’d love to know from both of you just a quick answer. Who is your coach? Let’s say their name. They may be reading this. What was the most impactful thing that you got from them?
I would say my basketball coach in high school, Kit Kyle. Flower Mound, Marcus, was the high school that we played at. We made it to the championship. She had a very delicate way of pushing and humbling me at the same time. What I mean by that is I probably was the slowest one on the team and she would make us do suicides.
She’s like, “If I beat you, you’re not going to play in the championship game,” because I had a fast teammate. I knew I could rely on her. It was funny because I was a little bit cockier than I should have been as a 5’4” point guard, but she did a good job meeting me mentally and physically for what I needed at that point in my life.
That’s the lesson for those who may be reading, just because you challenge the people you love doesn’t mean that it’s bad. There’s the perfect example of pushing people you love that out of her whole experience. This is what she remembers. It’s pretty fantastic. Deborah, how about you?
I want to make sure I understood the question. Is it who are we coached by now or who is the most memorable coach that we had?
The question is in your experience of life and you said the coaches were like our grandparents. Who was it and did they say something to you that still resonates? Was there a mantra? Was there a theme? Was there a saying? Something like that that you go, “Coach Johnson, he always used to say this and I love this saying.” Whatever. Something like that.
Mine was my 7th-grade basketball coach and science teacher. His name is James Kirk. He is still at that school now. That middle school we had opened and that’s very rare for teachers. Nowadays, if you were to do that as a teacher or a coach, you’d probably be on the news. He used to come to our house and he spray painted the basketball goal on our driveway.
I would say what he did is he made me feel seen. Uniquely seen. He allowed me to feel heard and things that I wouldn’t express. It was all the things I didn’t say. It was almost like he could read behind the mask without interesting probing too much, but he would show up and he was consistent. I think he could see that I needed a lot of reassurance.
I would look up in the bleachers when I was playing ball and look up to my dad to give me feedback. He’s flirting with the random date that he has for the week. I would get disappointed because I needed a little bit more validation than Denise did. I would look up and he wasn’t there. James Kirk was at my wedding. I still speak to him now and ironically, he had twins.
The message is consistency, be present in what’s going on. We always end our episode and this will take a little bit of time because we got two of you. We want to know this and we call this knowledge through the decades. I know you guys are very young. You’re not 40 yet, are you?
We’ll go up to 30. What we always like to do is ask you to give us the attitude lesson. I’m going to ask this first. Do you have four kids too, Denise?
No, sir. You know who the crazy twin is. She’s got four. I’ve got one.
I’ve already figured it out.
My love language is touch. Let’s just call it that.
I’m not mad at you. You only get one kid, Deborah, but what’s the most inspiring thing your child has ever said to you?
Probably when they repeat my coaching and say, “Come on, mom. It’s all in the mind. I thought you said it’s what you believe. It’s what you tell yourself.” It’s little micro lessons that then end up following me around as my little accountability partners.
How about you, Denise?
My son’s still very young.
He can still inspire you.
He does. He inspires me every day. What he’s done for me is never knew if I wanted kids. I’m not the sweet. Deborah’s like the sweet.
It’s shocking. I’m sure you all are shocked at this point.
I’m very literal. I’m very business. I’m very focused, obviously. There was a big part of my life where I thought, “Do I want the marriage and the kids?” It seems like a distraction of what I want for my fulfillment of life. When I graduated college, I was never like, “Let’s go get married and pop out kids.” With him, I have learned the unconditional love that I have for him and the joy that I have for him is very inspiring. It teaches me something every day about myself because I didn’t feel that unconditional love from my mom or my dad.
I think the lesson for me was your parents are the people who expect unconditional love from the most. That’s probably why I thought I wasn’t fit to be a mom. I felt fit to be a businesswoman because in business, it’s not very emotional. You can be very not emotional, which is fantastic for me. The reason why I felt that way for so long in my life was because I pushed away. I’m not fit for that. That’s not the cards.
It was never a victim or feel sorry for me, but it was self-awareness of, “That’s not the cards I was dealt.” I have this child and being able to give him the love and the joy and getting it back from him. It’s so fun and it challenges me. It teaches me things about myself that I don’t know if an adult could teach me because it’s wrapped up in this little five-year-old. That’s what I get from him every day.
Now, I’m going to jump to knowledge through the decades. You can give me something quick. You just did it for me, Denise. I’m going to walk you through each decade of your life and I want you to tell me your attitude lesson from childbirth when you were 10, 20, 30, and now. When you think about childbirth, what was the attitude lesson of you giving childbirth or watching your sister give childbirth four times or whatever. What’s the attitude lesson from creating new life or from the instant life begins outside the womb?
I would say don’t give up because I had to do IVF to have my son, then when I went in to have my baby, they couldn’t induce me. I didn’t want to C-section and so I took the weekend. Long story short, when I came back from the weekend, I still couldn’t dilate. They said, “You have to have a C-section.” The whole having a kid and the delivery of the kid felt like it was feeding that story of, “I’m not meant to be a mom.”
Clearly, this is the reason why. I couldn’t get pregnant. Having a baby is difficult but I realized that was stink and thinking and having a C-section is very normal. A lot of people go through that. That child delivery moment for me was, “You are meant to have a kid, even though you didn’t want the C-section. That’s how it was meant for you and that doesn’t mean that you’re not fit for it.”
Don’t give up. I love that. Deborah, how about you? Attitude lesson from childbirth.
I’ve always loved challenging and almost interrupting patterns. I like the shock and all. I will say things that people are like, “Did she just say that?” They don’t always expect it. From our delivery being delivery table surprise twins, it was a shocking moment. Everyone thought it was just one baby. I loved to interrupt conditioned adopted beliefs that we believe to be true when they’re not.
Also, for my own births, I was told I would never be able to have kids. Before I got married, I told my husband, “I know you want this large family, but they have told me they looked at everything possible with my anatomy and it would be very difficult to have children.” I was like, “Don’t worry, my twin doesn’t know this yet. Maybe we could rent her uterus. We’ll figure out a way.” I hadn’t told her that and I was like, “Don’t you dare get the typical man who’s thinking, ‘Two twins.’” I’m like, “You’re not sleeping with my twin, for the record. We would work something out.”
Talk about shock and awe. Now we’re talking.
Instant Deb, there you go.
Love it or leave it. With all my kids, we were never trying to get pregnant because they had told us we wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. With Briley, our first, we thought she’d be our one and only. I am nursing. They say when your body’s producing milk, it’s very difficult. It’s like birth control. Sure enough, she was four months old and I was like, “I feel sick.” They were like, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant.” I was like, “Again? I just got out of elastic pants. How is this possible?”
We had our first son. We named him Voss. That’s a whole different story. I then got on low estrogen birth control nursing. Sure enough, he was about seven months old and I was like, “I feel sick again.” I’m thinking, “Is it mastitis?” That is when you are making milk and they said, “No, congratulations. You’re pregnant again.” I was like, “We are two teachers on teacher’s salaries. We’re our daycare bill now and just diapers.” We are trying not to have children. I know Denise gives me a hard time saying, “That’s not trying.” We were not trying.
I did tell that. I was like, “Can you put a damn TV in your bedroom? You know how this works.”
He was a coach. He coached football in baseball. Glenn, you know the schedules of baseball and football.
We’re very irresistible to our women. I know that.
Lots of nagging sometimes. I literally had a 3, 2, 1-year-old and a newborn when my husband said, “I got my dream job offer. My first head coach position, but we got to move across the state and I’m doing 30 days.” I’m like, “What?” I would say I love disrupting the way people think. Sometimes that’s a shock in all. It’s saying something that is unexpected or getting people to think for a change.
Now I want you girls to think about when you were ten years old. Number one, were you separated in classes or did you always get to stay in the same classroom? Curious on that one. What was your attitude lesson when you were ten?
We were separated. The teachers would ask the parents, “Do you want them to be separated?” Our dad would always say that because when you have twins, you want them to have their own identity. You want them to be treated as individuals. Even parents who have twins, they’ll message us. They’ll say, “Did it bother you when you were called the twins?” It’s always the twins. You have one birthday cake.
If you are a parent reading and you have twins, being an individual and being treated like an individual and having your own day sometimes with your parents, not just lump together. My message to you is I think that’s important. When I was ten years old?
Ten years old attitude lesson, whether you were bullied, you did something or got in trouble. Think about it.
I was ten years old when my parents got divorced. My mom babied Deborah. My dad loved my older sister. She was the golden child. I was the epitome of the middle child. When I was ten, I was the rebellious twin. Never got arrested or anything, but I was more seeking attention. I would go to detention a lot. I would be the class. Now, my old self looking at that, it was like, “Was I not getting enough attention at home that I was acting out at school?” It could never cross the line too much because if it got to my dad, then my dad would spank us and yell at us. That middle child syndrome as I was seeking attention at that time.
Good attitude lesson. Deborah, what was your attitude lesson at ten?
That I don’t suck because when I was ten, that was my narrative. It’s, “You suck. You got a 60 on your math assignment. Why can’t you read?” I almost failed a reading test and I had to use a PVC pipe when I was a kid to whisper in so it would echo in my ear. My narrative was I suck. The lesson would be, don’t always believe your narrative.
How did you know that you didn’t suck? Did you start to accomplish and do some things when you were ten?
I learned you have to suck before you get good at anything. That’s why I like almost even focusing on some of the failures because that’s where I learned and grew. Some of my most painful, darkest moments is what I have the most gratitude for. When people ask, “What are you most proud about?” I immediately go to the hardest lessons. There’s always beauty in the pain. The transformation in the pain.You have to suck before you get good at anything. Focus on your failures and learn from them. Click To Tweet
That’s attitude. That’s called effective blaming. Very effective blaming. I would have loved to have known you two at twenty years old. Now I want to know the attitude lesson at twenty from both of you. Where were you and what was going on?
When I was twenty, is the first time I felt heart. I would say I was dating a guy and he was this cute hot swimmer. We were in college and the whole time, he was still dating his girlfriend from high school and I didn’t know. I would say probably for the first time, I felt rejected. I think at twenty years old, I’d never felt that before. I’m like, “What?”
How did you deal with it? What was the attitude lesson there? How did you do that?
Horrible. I was like a crazy psycho like, “How dare you?” I did not handle it well at all. Do you know that Carrie Underwood song? I was Carrie Underwood crazy. I didn’t deal with it, but I’m glad it happened when I was twenty and I needed that to happen. Although we had some difficult struggles as an upbringing, I blamed my dad for that. I blamed my dad for losing the house. I worked harder and I realized that if I worked harder, I could achieve something, but I couldn’t work harder in this relationship to prevent him from cheating. It was interesting. There are some things in life that no matter how hard you work at, you can’t control it.You cannot control some things in life, no matter how hard you work at them. Click To Tweet
Deborah, how about you?
Mine was going from victim to victor because that was when Denise and I, after high school, both went to a community college for the first two years because we had to pay our own way through school. We couldn’t even get grants because our dad still owed the IRS a lot of money. All we knew was to work your ass off, go to school at night, study in the middle night and repeat again. After two years at community college, Denise went to A&M.
My first degree was Nursing. They didn’t have a nursing program at that time. I wanted to be the Patch Adams of a hospital before a teacher. That was the first time I had to grow up because I no longer even had the safety net of my twin in every classroom. We didn’t have to go to college and walk into a classroom and not know who you were going to sit next to or go to a tryout for a team.
Whenever they say, “Partner up.” We always had that built-in playmate and almost unrealistic expectations because we would beat the shit out of each other the day before. I mean hair pulling like a bullseye on your face and a couple of hours later, it’s like, “Do you want to go to the mall?” Which is not normal. It’s not a healthy way that relationships work. You can’t treat people that way, then everything would be fine.
I would say I went from being a victim and making it about me. Not taking responsibility of my life in all aspects because I always had Denise being the dominant leader when you label twins. If you guys have twins, don’t label them because they will play that role. I was labeled as the second one out of the shoot. The shadow that was always hidden in all the sonograms. Denise was more the loud, witty, comical and class clown. I was always behind the scenes and. I played that role because that was the role that everybody identified.
Very male of you. Very male energy to beat the shit out of each other and then go, “Let’s go out and get drinks.” You girls got some male energy in you. That’s what’s going on.
We have a yearbook picture where we’re right next to each other. She was pissed off that I was blow-drying my hair. She was mad and then I was mad that she was talking on the phone at the time they had a cord. She had hit me because I was talking on the phone. I had a black eye and I got pissed off. I took the hair dryer and I shoved it on the skin on her cheek so it burned a bullseye. In the yearbook, you have us right beside each other black eye, burned bullseye. That was us.
All right, let’s go to 30. I want to respect your time. Do you remember your 30th birthday? Where were you and what was the attitude lesson when you were 30?
Can I share this one? She’s probably going to kill me for it. That’s when we tried Botox for the first time. For any ladies out there who’ve ever tried Botox for the first time, I don’t know what they did. We have high cheekbones, so they went a little low. We looked like the skeleton pockets. I don’t even know what they call it, but you couldn’t smile because it only made it worse. Here we were about to turn 30. It was like days before and we were like, “Don’t smile,” because we didn’t want people to know we had tried Botox for the first time. Botox is great. I endorse it.
The attitude lesson is that sometimes you’re beautiful enough and don’t need to be improved. How about you, Denise? What about your attitude lesson?
When I was 30 is when I started reaching another level of success. I realized at that age that I had a negative association with people who made money. I thought people who had money or were rich were bad. They were drug dealers and lived this life of strip clubs and drugs. I realized that’s not the case. You can have a positive relationship with money, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy.
You ladies are such lights to me. I’ve had such a great time. You’re both beautiful physically and you’re beautiful mentally and emotionally, and you’ve been very vulnerable and very open. I think that we did some good. There are people that are going to relate to your stories and what you’ve done that will hopefully relate to your success, become empowered and become motivated by what you shared.
I can’t thank you enough for the authenticity that you gave us. What I always like to do is end the show with your motivational speech if you want. There are people that are out there walking the beach, walking their kids, walking their sidewalks, walking their dogs or wherever they may be. Maybe they’re in Florida and their house just blew up. I don’t know.
Maybe there’s somebody that isn’t terribly successful in the mortgage business or that wants to start a business. Now’s your time on the Get Attitude to give us whatever message of hope you want to give for the people that are on the other end of this. If you want to start Denise, then we’ll go to Deborah and we’ll close up the show.
I’d say two things. I would say tell yourself, why not you? That might be in business and success or why not you as a mom or why not you as a wife? Why not you? The second thing is I would think about what gives you joy. Your dog might give you joy or your kids but as a single activity, whether it’s rollerblading or bike riding. What gives you joy? Make sure you set time aside for that joyful act at a minimum at least once a year.
The me-cation. I love the me-cation. I’m taking one a month because you prescribed it, so I’m doing it. Deborah, how about from the miscompassion? Deborah Byrd, tell us your message for our Gappers.
I live by these three things, filling minds with truth, filling hearts with love and living a life of service. Anytime you’re having a down moment or if you could think of anything that I learn and I’m addicted to learning. I’ll put that out there. I feel like we are meant to continuously learn because there’s always somebody that we can serve.
The more we learn, the more we can serve others. Your version of who you are now or whatever dark moment you may be going through, there’s a lesson there. You could use the power of social for social good, and you could teach now the lesson that your prior self needed, but you had to learn on your own. If you can think about every tough or good moment or every morning, what is something that you can learn that’s going to fill minds with truth, that’s going to fill hearts with love and can be a life of service?
That is the light from the Nerd and the Byrd. You need to check out the Nerd and the Byrd podcast. If you love these girls as much as I did, I wanted to be tuning in. I’m going to be listening to it because I know they are pulling greatness out of people. I know they are pulling out the untold stories of successful people.
You want to make sure you go to The Nerd and The Byrd Podcast. Ladies, it was awesome. I hope I get to see you again or do another episode or speak on stage, or wherever the hell we’re going to be. I have a feeling we’ll run into each other again. You guys are beautiful. Thank you so much for giving your hearts, your minds, and your souls to us here at the Get Attitude Podcast.