Ep 240: Beating Your Inner Critic with Dr. Margie Warrell



Most of us are pretty familiar with our inner critic but are less aware of the consequences that can occur as a result of listening to it too often and too consistently.

Our guest today has built her career around helping people recognize and overcome their overly cautious inner voice to live a life where they are empowered to take risks and reach their full potential.

Dr. Margie Warrell is a five-time bestselling author, a Forbes columnist, and a world-renowned advisor on leadership and human potential. She works with companies like NASA, Google, Deloitte, and Berkshire Hathaway and has lectured at Columbia and Georgetown University.

She is also a highly successful speaker and consultant and has spent 25 years researching fear and bravery to support people by boosting their courage, elevating their performance, and accelerating growth.

In our conversation with Margie, we hear about her early experiences with self-doubt, how she overcame them, and why so many of us don’t realize the high cost of being overly cautious and refusing to take risks.

To learn more about fear, bravery, and why we should all be living outside of our comfort zone, tune in today!


  • Get to know today’s guest Dr. Margie Warrell.
  • How Margie was able to build her business while being a mom to four children.
  • Margie’s decision to study psychology and how she got into coaching.
  • How Margie wrote her first book Find Your Courage while her children were sleeping.
  • The self-doubt that Margie experienced while writing her first book.
  • Why speaking was crucial to Margie’s career.
  • How speaking for free helped Margie gain confidence, access, and exposure.
  • Margie’s research and lessons she’s learned on courage and bravery.
  • How timidity functions and why it’s often driven by fear.
  • The hidden cost of timidity and how it affects our lives over time.
  • Having the courage to take action despite our innate timidity.
  • Why we need to learn how to challenge the timid inner voice.


“You’ve got to give yourself permission not to get it perfectly right and to take risks, and to try things and not have them land brilliantly. You don’t know everything, and you are going to iterate and you’re going to learn and you’re going to evolve as you go along.” — @margiewarrell [0:10:30]

“The reason I have a passion for helping people overcome the bias toward timidity is [that] I see it holding potential hostage.” — @margiewarrell [0:16:15]

“Too often we give that voice of timidity power to call the shots, it’s in the driver’s seat. It doesn’t have to be that way. I mean, that’s where courage comes into it. Courage is the decision to take action.” — @margiewarrell [0:18:26]

About Dr. Margie Warrell

Dr. Margie Warrell is a 5-time bestselling author, renowned speaker, and ‘courage coach’ to Fortune 500 leaders who draws on 25 years of diverse International experience to unlock potential in individuals, teams and organizations. Her insights and strategies for managing risk, countering timidity and emboldening braver leadership has never been more relevant or required.

Organizations like NASA, Dell, Google, Salesforce, Deloitte, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway engage her to foster ‘cultures of courage’ that build edge and accelerate growth.

A Forbes Columnist and Women’s Economic Forum honoree, Margie lectures at lead universities (Columbia, Georgetown) and her globally grounded expertise is often featured in top media such as the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg and Today Show.  Outside work, Margie loves adventure travel, recently climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with her husband and four children.


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RV (00:07): Hey brand builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview as always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to to see if we might be a fit. So if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brand builders, group.com/pod call brand builders, group.com/pod call. We hope to talk to you soon. RV (00:53): I am always amazed at the people that we get a chance to meet at brand builders. And every once in a while, we just meet somebody who just kind of captures us and goes, wow, how do we not know each other? And how do we not know each other yet? And that is how I feel about Dr. Margie war, who you’re about to meet. So she is a five times bestselling author. She is a Forbes columnist. She’s a world renowned advisor on leadership and human potential. And she works with companies like NASA and Google and Deloitte and Berkshire Hathaway. And she’s a speaker. She does consulting and really has just spent 25 years doing research and kind of just working in the field to help people boost their, their courage and elevate performance and accelerate their growth. So she also lectures at Columbia and Georgetown, and she’s been on, you know, the New York times and several other success magazine today show and is, is just awesome. And we got a chance to meet here, not that long ago, visa brand builders group. And as I got to learn more about her, I felt like you needed to hear her story. So Dr. Margie to the show. MW (02:03): Rory it is awesome to be with you always . RV (02:08): So tell us your story about how you got started in, in this space. You know, I, I, and, and correct me if I’m wrong. So the way that we understand now is like a, a big part of your business model is from speaking and you know, driving revenue in the last several years from speaking, but you also traveled a bunch internationally. You were a mom, like you had a lot of things going on that I think people often would go if I had those things going on, I probably couldn’t build the kind of career that you’ve been able to build. So give us a little bit of that background. MW (02:46): Yeah, well, I, I, I think I, as you can probably tell from my accent, I’m from the deep, deep, deep, deep, deep south the land down under, so yeah, I, I grew up in Australia and I went off to university first in my family to do so studied business, started a corporate career and did a lot of backpacking, also in my twenties, but in my late twenties, while living in P and new Guinea and working there, I just, you know, numerous personal challenges, struggles trauma, cetera. I changed career path and decided I wanted to work in the field of helping people deal with the stuff that keeps us from really thriving and living the lives. We are born to live and becoming all that we are born to be. And, and so I went back to co I did psychology, and then someone said to me, you know, Margie, you’ve worked, you’ve done some consulting. MW (03:44): You’ve, you’ve worked in business. You, you should think about coaching. And I, I remember laughing and saying, oh my gosh, do you know how uncoordinated I am? It’s just, I’m so not athletic. I don’t know why you think I would be a good coach. and I mean, this was in the early days of coaching, but of course I found out what they were talking about was not, you know, being a a soccer coach. And I, I started while I moved to the United States in between all of this and having my four kids and living in Dallas, Texas, I started my own coaching business. But Rory, I , I realized very quickly that you can have a coaching business and no customers, if no one knows who you are. And I was new to America, I had zero, zero network besides a few moms in the neighborhood. MW (04:31): And so it was really, I was, everyone knew me as the stay at home mom with four kids. And for me, it was, how do I, how do I do what I really wanna do when no one knows who I am? And so that’s where actually I started speaking for free anywhere and everywhere that would have me, ah, to try and get some coaching clients. And and so I was just super excited if people would sign up for a free coaching session at the end of me giving a talk at like, you know, it could have been a club or it was American business women’s association, or companies would do free brown bag lunches, and I would speak anywhere and everywhere. And really over time, I, I came to realize the thread that was running through so much of what I would talk about. MW (05:17): And part of it was about balance and having difficult conversations and pursuing what lights you up and saying no to what doesn’t. And I realized the thread that was running through it all was, was having more courage and daring to be braver and take a risk and risk rejection and put ourselves out there. And so that led to my first book, which was called find your courage. And it was very much an act of courage for me at the time to write it. I had four kids, seven and under, and I, I wrote it in nap times in the afternoons. And and I had a huge voice in my head that was very loud often saying, who the hell do you think you are to write a book? You know, you’re just, you didn’t get a great education in rural Australia, et cetera. But it was really me, I guess, staring to make a bet on myself and, and, and thinking, you know, I don’t wanna look back one day and think I wished I’d been braver. So that’s kind of the, that was the start of the journey that love, that led me to where I am now. RV (06:22): I mean, with, I mean, and I think there’s lots of, I mean, lots of people have those kinds of things. And I mean, four kids is no joke. I mean, keeping, keeping track of four kids and be like, I’m gonna write a book in my spare time, which is nap time. Which, you know, if you have four kids getting a, all four of ’em asleep at the same time might last, you like 17 minutes, if you’re lucky. Oh, MW (06:41): No. I mean, it was threats and bribes. Can I just be clear, you stay in your room for one hour until the bell goes, you know, like . RV (06:49): Yeah. But so you started that now. I, I, I rarely wanted to highlight cuz this is, you know, part of what we teach at at brand builders, you know, is you gotta go speak for free. I mean, that like, that’s how it starts. You just gotta go speak for free and get people a chance to sample you. So that’s interesting to hear that part of your story. I mean, everybody, I know that is a successful speaker. Like that’s how they started, like you just out there speaking. So I wanna talk about, so you started as coaching business us then became an author and then leveraged off that to get your, your speaking gigs. Is that how you got your first speaking gigs too, was just speaking for free until someone asked you to, if you can MW (07:27): Hire you. Yeah. I mean the book, the book came later, honestly, I couldn’t even have con I mean, I think I, I really lack confidence. I had a lot of self-doubt. It’s probably why I spoken so much about self-doubt because I, I doubted myself so much. So the speaking was how I got coaching clients. The book definitely came afterward. But yeah, the speaking was really crucial part of that all. And I hear, sometimes people say, oh, never speak for free. And you know, if you’ve come from being in some big role, you’ve already got some stellar reputation and you are well, you’re already an established brand and entity. Okay. Maybe that will work for you and great, but I would never have got anywhere. Had I been waiting on someone to pay me from the beginning? Cuz no one was gonna pay me cuz no one knew the value that I had. MW (08:18): I had to demonstrate at value. And that came from speaking for free. One was demonstrating the insight I had as a coach. People could go, oh, you know what? She’s got some, she’s got some wisdom and some expertise and some ideas that will be valuable to me. And I, and I like her, you know, it’s like kind of establishing that like this is someone that I would trust. And then over time, obviously the more I spoke, I started to actually develop a skill in speaking and kind of tapped into a latent talent that I honestly a gift. I didn’t know I had to be to be truthful. And so RV (08:53): How did you get the first, like when you first got paid to speak, was that basically referrals from people who had seen you MW (09:00): Speak at that was so, I mean the first time I ever spoke was at my kids’ preschool and then, you know, I, I had a coach, I had a coach. Yeah. And like two people showed up. But the woman who ran the preschool and the cleaning lady, so it was it was very humble or beginning, but the first paid speaking engagement one of my early clients, very early clients and I, I didn’t charge a lot of money. She worked for a big consulting firm and she had said, would you come in and speak there as part of a brown bag lunch, which was free. So I went in there and I spoke to working moms on work, life balance, and someone there was from HR and they said, we’ve got an international women’s day event coming up. We’re looking for a speaker. We would love you to come. We’ve got a, you know, how much do you charge? And I had no idea about fees and I remember saying R how’s $200. Nice. And she was so quick to say, yeah, that sounds great. And I remember thinking, I think, I, I think I went too low RV (10:03): yeah, yep, yep. That that’s. MW (10:07): But then someone was there and then, you know, I mean, and, and I, all of the paid speaking came from all of the unpaid speaking and then us the book amplified it. And then a lot of media when my first book came out and then, you know, it’s a ripple effect. Right. And you can’t, it’s easy to go. Well, it was one thing I did, but it was, I wrote for a women’s magazine for free. And then someone there connected me into Forbes and I got my own and I started writing for Forbes. And then I ended up with my own column and then, you know, so, you know, it was, and then I landed on the today show and then it was one thing after another, but there wasn’t one clear recipe. I couldn’t say, do this, then do this. It was just continually doing things that I hoped would, you know, make an impact and over time sure enough, you know, all of those little things, those daily strokes of effort, bam, you know, you get to another level RV (11:02): Mm-Hmm . Yeah. And so now I wanna talk about your expertise now, cuz it’s like, you know, after that, like the last several years, you really have been very specifically focused on researching around courage and being brave. And that to me is a very relevant conversation here to anyone who’s an entrepreneur or an expert or someone building a personal brand because there’s so many things to be afraid of. Like, I don’t know how to write a book. I don’t know how to go live on social media. I don’t know how to build a funnel. I don’t know how to do a demo video. I don’t know how to reach out to a litera. You’re like, I don’t know any of these, these things. And you know, of course it’s a huge part of what we talk about and teach at brand builders group. But there’s another part of it, which is just straight up old fashioned, like fear mm-hmm what do we need to know about that and getting ourselves past that? MW (12:00): I think you’ve gotta give yourself permission not to get it perfectly right. And to take risks and to try things and not have them land brilliantly. You know, you, you don’t know where everything and you are going to iterate and you’re gonna learn and you’re gonna evolve as you go along. And I think a mistake I see people making is thinking that they have to have the perfect plan and the perfectly the perfect clarity even. And yes, it’s great having a lot of clarity and it’s great having some one like you and the brand builders group to provide a roadmap, but still what works for one person isn’t gonna work exa you can’t copy and paste everything. We we’re all different. We, we have different things that we are good at and that we like to do. And I think give yourself permission to experiment and to iterate and to evolve as you move forward, because you’re gonna learn, well, this works for me, but this doesn’t work and that might work for the Margie, but it’s, it’s just not me. MW (13:02): Not everyone. I started out coaching, as I said. And I I’ve got friends that have been coaching for 25 years and they’re like, Margie, I couldn’t think of anything worse than speaking. It’s just not my thing. and, and so we are all different. Not everyone wants to write a book. You know, like not everyone loves being on Instagram and doing Insta live, you know, so sure. I think we have to, there’s something things we need to do because they really make an impact. But also just, just also trust yourself and what feels right for you. I . And where do you kind of tend to have the most resonance too, because that’s gonna make an impact in how often you do it, how well you do it, how much you’re learning and, and how successful that is for you. RV (13:46): And just kind of the, I hear you saying kind of like the mindset of approaching it as like yeah. Who cares? What happens? Just an experiment, like just kind of like, let’s see, let’s just see what happens and kind of go from there versus all of the pressure of like, it has to be perfect and dialed in and, and if it doesn’t cuz then it’s like, if it doesn’t work, it’s never gonna work. Like I, I, I’m not gonna work cuz we’ve had so much pressure. MW (14:08): Yeah. It’s like pressure, you know what? I tried that and you know what, it didn’t land brilliantly, but what did you learn from it? You know, I always looking for, what is the learning? How do I take that learning? And you know, I remember early on Roy, I was living in, in Dallas, Texas and I met someone and she said, oh Margie, you should be the expatriate wife coach, cuz I was a foreigner living in the us and I could coach other women who are wives. And, and I remember thinking, she’s like, you need to find your niche. And I was like, it just didn’t feel right. So sometimes people are gonna tell you what you need to do. And you know, I say get lots of advice and get it from people who know their stuff. Like honestly you are, you’re a great example of that, but not all advice is gonna be the right advice for you. And and I think that’s important, but wait, wait, RV (14:58): You mean not all advice for me is gonna be the right advice for you. I I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding guys. MW (15:05): I’m arguing your advice. Rory is about as good as it gets, but I, and, and of course you, you do it with in a way that obviously allows people to make it feel congruent, but I tell you what, there are a lot of experts out there. I mean, when I, I, I do experts in that can kind of give you their five point plan and it might not be congruent for you. And I think I think just being authentic is really important. And I think today, I mean, you guys talk about trust a lot. We want to deal with people that we can trust and who are real and authentic and not some overly curated version veneer that you go, well, who is it? Who is that really that person? And I think being congruent is super important and just being real and and you know, people who are, can be overly polished sometimes I think it actually can almost work against them. RV (15:59): Mm-Hmm yeah. Yeah. I, I would say that. Yeah. That’s, that’s totally true. So I wanna talk about the word timid for a second. Mm-Hmm I, I, you know, I think that’s a, that’s a word that we’ve talked a lot about you and I have had some conversations around what is timid exactly is how is it different? How is it different from fear? What do we need to know about the way that it functions and operates and like why it such a, why is this such a big deal? MW (16:36): Well, all of us can be timid at times. Of course, all of us can be everything at times we can all be bold and brave and we can all be timid and overly cautious. And I believe that humidity is, is very prevalent in a, in the world in which we live because we live in a, in a, in a climate of fear, in a culture that actually sort of feeds and, and feeds on fear and fuels a lot of it and fuels a lot of self doubt and fuels a lot of timid and humidity drives people to hold back for our taking actions that would actually serve them that would help them to learn and to grow and to open new doors of opportunity and build new connections. And so we tend to fail far more from timidity than we do from over daring. MW (17:33): And timid in a sense is very much, much over caution. We’re being overly cautious, we’re holding back and you could say, oh, well, it’s a personality trait, but ultimately it is. It’s a decision that we make often unconsciously to, to not take an action because we are worried about the consequences of it. And often we discount the cost of timid. There’s a steep, hidden tax that comes with timid that we’re often not present to because it’s not immediate, it’s really dramatic or obvious, but we pay that tax over time in our lives because we don’t try things. We don’t experiment. We don’t put ourselves out there. We don’t try and write the book or approach someone and, or give the talk or, or whatever it is. And that really, we don’t know what doors didn’t open, but I, I really, the reason I have a passion for helping people overcome the bias toward timidity is because I see it holding potential hostage and keeping people from really, I mean, you could say shining their light, you know, really living the biggest lives, they’re capable of living. And, and ultimately a lot of people end up languishing. They kind of get stuck procrastinating. They get stuck making excuses and settling and selling themselves short. And not only do they miss out, but everyone misses out RV (19:00): Mm-Hmm . Yeah. I mean, it, it’s an interesting it’s it’s like a sobering thought to go. The reason I haven’t gotten certain things in my life, maybe that I wanna have is less because I’m not qualified to do it or able to do it, but that it’s just surely from the fact that I have convinced myself to not try. And mm-hmm to do it MW (19:28): A AB couldn’t. Yes, that is right. And it is funny. And I, and I shared with you how, for me even starting out, it was a little voice in my head saying, who do you think you are, was like to give a talk to start honestly, a coaching business. I was like, who am I to even have my own business? And who am I to write a book? Who am I to, you know, do television or know in the more recent years do my PhD, et cetera. And I’ve just learned to identify that voice as a voice. It’s not who I am. It’s just fear. And timidity is just one expression of fear and not to give it power. Cuz too often we give that voice of Tim power call the shots it’s it’s in the driver’s seat and it doesn’t have to be that way. MW (20:16): I mean, that’s where courage comes into it. Courage is the decision to take action in the presence of perceived or real risks. You might fail. You mightn’t write the most brilliant book that’s ever been written. You might give a spare each and it mightn’t be brilliant. You might try something and it mightn’t be the best investment, but how will you ever know if you don’t try and how will you ever get better at it? If you don’t give yourself permission to not be brilliant starting out. And I think to your point, Rory, it’s not the barriers, the external obstacles around us that hold us back. It is the belief systems that we are buying into and the ones that fuel that timidity. And so, you know, at the end of the day, there comes a moment of choice and go, who is it I choose to be and where am I letting, where am I letting my fear of not having what it takes, keep me from taking action. And that’s, that’s having the courage to take action despite our innate, you know, timid RV (21:19): Mm-Hmm . I mean, it’s interesting to hear you even talk about it as like timid is this voice. That’s not who I am like, like separating it. I, I think that’s probably half the battle here is separating it and realizing that it that’s not, you it’s, it’s like a different, it’s a different, you have the ability to exercise influencer control over that thing. It is separate and independent of you and what you want. MW (21:46): Yeah. You know, I often think give it a name, you know, and you know, you’re, you’re in a chicken little, right. You know, and in, in my book, you’ve got this, I, chapter two is doubt your doubts and, and doubt your doubts is really doubting that, that, that voice, that, that, that shows up and, and fuels that ity. And we treat those little negative noises and those doubting voices that in a chicken little as though it’s the truth and it’s not the truth, but we treat it as though it’s, it’s the truth. And I think learning to challenge what you’re telling yourself and there’s a real physical element to it too, like really stepping in and holding ourselves powerfully. Like how would, how do you, where do you need to connect to your own inner, a brave heart, hold yourself that way and embrace the discomfort that is a prerequisite for overcoming humidity and for being brave and for taking those actions. MW (22:38): And the more we embrace discomfort as part and parcel of what it takes to do, what it is we really need to do and want to do, like in our heart of hearts, then actually the better, more comfortable we, we become with doing uncomfortable things. And I think it was Tony Robbins that said years ago, you know, you know, our success is proportionate to how willing we are to be uncomfortable. And I, and I kind of absolutely couldn’t agree more with that. It is uncomfortable work, but I think being successful, however, you define success, that’s never gonna happen if you stay comfortable and, and humidity just drives us to stay in our comfort zone, but of course, comfort doesn’t stay comfortable forever. And our comfort zone shrinks. And over time we become more timid and less confident, you know, more scared, more doubtful, less brave and, and courageous. MW (23:36): So it really the co over the course of our lives, I think we have to continually be challenging ourselves. And so to anyone who’s listening, I know that you’ve got an, an incredible audience of people doing great things and who want to do more great things, but perhaps sometimes get in their own way because they’re afraid of falling short. And I would say, give yourself permission to fall short. And, and when that little voice of timid pipes up. So thank you very much. I know you’re trying to keep me safe now, shut up and, and step forward anyway. RV (24:11): Yeah. I mean, that, that is powerful. And so tactical, I think, and so, so useful where, where Dr. Margie, should people go to connect with you? I know obviously you’ve written for a long time for Forbes. So some of them are to be already reading your Forbes column, but like where where do you want people to go? If they wanna like, learn more about what Dr. Margie is doing? MW (24:33): Yeah. Look, I am on, I’m pretty much all social media to Insta Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Please connect with me. I’d love you to connect with me there, but you can also go to my website, Margie war.com. And if you type in slash live bravely, you can sign up for my free course on how you can be braver. It’s a four part video course that I created that is share some of my, some stories and some, and some really practical ways that you can step it up in your own life to overcome whatever fear is and is getting in your way. RV (25:11): I love it. Well, we’ll put links to that over in the show notes and Dr. Margie, thank you for this. I mean, this, I think just strikes right at the core of that, like that courage and, and winning that battle with that little voice. I mean, if you can, if you can beat that little voice every day than you, like pretty much can do just about anything. MW (25:31): Amen. Very true. Well, thank you so much for having me RO great to talk to you. All RV (25:36): Right. We wish you the best. We’ll follow your journey. Everyone. Go check out Dr. Margie and keep coming back. We’ll catch you next time. Bye-Bye

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