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About the Episode: 

Danielle went from being a 5th grade teacher in debt with a failing marriage to a successful fitness coach and public speaker who now works from home inspiring other moms to be fit and healthy.

She is now financially secure, has a successful marriage, and business, and also collaborates with other famous fitness leaders to film work-out videos around the world.

In this interview, we learn about:

  • how she turned her life around
  • her transition from teacher to fitness instructor
  • what she believes makes the difference in finding financial freedom and success

SUMMARY: 

Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself and who you are.

My name is Danielle Natoni. I am 37 years old. I am married to the absolute love of my life and have two kids from a previous marriage. Their names are Adriana and Bianca. Adriana is fourteen and Bianca is nine. I run a fitness business so I work from home (which is really great!). I travel a lot. I also work for Shanti, the creator of Infinity in addition to having my own business so a lot of times I travel to do advantage live with him. I live in a suburb of Dallas Texas, in Allen. My hobby and career is fitness. I love Netflix and a bunch of cookies. That’s a little bit about me in the nutshell.

Q: Can you tell me the story of how you started your company? What was that “Aha! I think I’m in business” moment?

I actually used to be a fifth grade Math teacher. I was in a different marriage at the time. It was not a healthy marriage in many ways and we were just not right for each other. We worked severely in debt. Thing is, as an elementary school teacher, that kind of conversation came up that I get a second job in the summer and the thought of waiting tables or tending bars, I couldn’t think of it. I’ve done that in the past, even as a teacher. I don’t see anything wrong with that, it’s just not what I’ll quit my life for.

It went into my head that I love fitness, I was a dancer as a kid. I’ve always been the girl who goes to the gym after work and it got into my mind that maybe I can get a second job in fitness, not understanding at that time that there’s really not much money in fitness unless you stand out or do something different. It was in that search that I was in my marriage, struggling in debt, and thinking 'this can’t be my life'. This really can’t be it!

I wondered if I can start an online business and be able to surpass my teaching income, pull myself out of debt and it will change my life around. That’s what happened. I started with Beach Body which is the company that teaches Insanity, and general use of brands that you may have seen in infomercials. I started running an online business through that and I was really good at it. I started branding myself on social media.

Today, I have:

  • 125,000 followers on Facebook
  • 71,000 on Instagram

All of my followers are organic-reached, all built from the ground up.

When I first started, I was joking, I still kinda get stuck on Facebook and I’m not really sure how Facebook works but I’ll just get on here everyday and try to inspire other working moms that they can still be healthy and fit. That’s where it really started.

I need a change so I changed and I’m really just going to document that in social media and see what comes of it. So in turn, that is what lead to the movement. It allowed me to build my brand, it allowed me to build a business which helped and turned into an income for me, allowed me to really make a name for me in fitness and social media, become a speaker, a presenter.

I hop on all day and work from my phone in between shuttling to and from volleyball practices and school. That’s how it started for me, it was just like this idea that there’s actually something more for me. I know I was meant to have a bigger platform. I need to make a change financially and emotionally in my life so I’m just gonna go out there and do that and I’m going to use social media as a way to inspire and motivate people and in turn it felt like this successful brand has allowed me to change not only the course of my life but the course of many other people’s lives, in turn I created other mompreneurs and granted that not everyone is doing side business except being a mom but a lot are.

I intend to target who you are so personally I tend to attract 25-44 year old working moms. We work for our life and for our family’s life. That’s where we’re at.

Q: When did you have that “Aha!” moment when you thought: “Oh my gosh, this is going to surpass everything I’ve done as a teacher” and that this is your new persona?

When I started, I was definitely working hard. I’ve always said in the beginning that I’ll work really really hard then knowing that one day it will work out until my question was 'did I work hard enough for the reward that I received?' But I can totally say that when I realized that it was something more than I thought it could be was when I was getting random messages on Facebook. I’ve been doing this for five years now.

In the first year, I was kind of like “maybe this will work”. After the first year I really started to notice because people would just reach out to me out of nowhere, they would message me: “I’m a working mom too, you’ve inspired me to start taking better care of myself “. I would just get these random messages from people or people would recognize me from my social media and they would come up to me, granted that I was on my own community at that time, and they would say “Oh, you’re the Funky one, I follow you on Facebook” and I was like “Really? You do?” And that’s when you really start to take notice that when you’re doing something that so many other people doing the same thing but everyone was inspired and noticed something different and that was when I realized that even though I may be doing what others are doing, what I am doing still matters and it is affecting people and that was when it got to me that I wanna do this and I wanna do this full time.

As much as I loved teaching children, it was certainly rewarding, it’s not as rewarding as this because at the same time that I’m inspiring others and motivating them to do the same thing, also increasing my earnings and I’m sorry, money may not be what makes people happier, it certainly makes life a little bit easier. To be able to change the world and change my finances all at the same time really was the big hit for me. But, I think probably that moment for me was when people came up to me in person or would send me a message and thank me for inspiring them. That’s when I realized that wow, I’m really making an impact here.

Q: How far into your business did this happen? When did you transition?

I would say probably a year. The first year is about your learning and trying things out but of course I’m still learning and trying things out. I think it took a year for me to realize that this wasn’t going to be just a hobby for me. I think another “Aha!” moment for me is when I would go to bed on Sunday night knowing I have to wake up and go to school the next morning and I didn’t want to. When you have an audience full of 10-year olds who just ignore you and you don’t want to go to that, that’s a problem. That’s when I realized that my heart was leaning towards this business and not the career that I originally had. Like I said, I didn’t hate what I did. I love teaching children. If you don’t like showing up in a room full of kids, that’s really a problem. That’s when I really realized that I’m complete all in for this business and that’s where my heart was.

Q: Since you’ve changed your life, what does a typical day look like to you now? Do you have new morning rituals now that you do?

I split custody with my previous husband, we live in the same town and we get along quite nicely. Because our children are older, we do one week on, one week off and even if it’s not my week, I still attend their activities.

The weeks that I have my children, I wake up in the morning, I get them ready for school, make some breakfast, and take them to school. While they’re getting ready for school, I always do my workout. I get them up, but they are self-sufficient enough to not make me feel stressed. I always do a 30-minute workout. I feel like I’m more consistent and more focused throughout the day if I can get a workout in in the morning. After I take them to school, I just come back home and at that point, I usually do an hour of checking my social media. That’s when I go about my first quote of the day in Facebook and Instagram. I go through the messages that came in through Messenger or Direct Message, then I go through my emails and delete emails that are not that important and star everything that I need to get to. After that, I get my Masterlist for the day with the things that I need to get done for that day. From there, I typically get phone call of some sort to people, video calls and regular conference calls. At some point, I will go to teach a class of exercise and I do that four times a week for just an hour. I come home, shower, get ready for the day, and then I go back to my to-do list: what can I get accomplished, what can I get done. Is that creating a training, reaching out to new people, following up. I also sit down with my husband who also works from home and cross our lists, theater, and anything that we can do to help each other out. From there, I pick up the kids, since we’re doing carpool because they go to different schools. While waiting for the other one, that’s when I do some personal development reading. I make sure that I’m feeding my brain. Once I bring the children home from school, that’s their time so I help them do homework, I get dinner going and since they’re both into sports, there’s some practice going. Once they’re off to bed, I do 30 minutes of work. I like to go to Inbox zero where everything has a kind of tone and the rest of the evening is down time with my husband and that’s the kind of my life when I have my kids with me.

When I don’t have my kids, that’s typically the time that I do my travel. For example, yesterday I was in L.A filming a new rounds of Insanity and also what’s called the Format Expert for the brand Insanity, being taught in the gym.  Tonight, I’ll fly to New Jersey to do a live Insanity training and a live dance training. Basically, when I don’t have my kids, I do the travel that my business requires so I can truly balance my work and being a mom.

Q: Do you have any struggles when balancing both? If so, how do you deal with them?

Of course there are struggles. There are times where I have to have a video call with people at work and my kids have a choir concert so I have to reschedule that video call so I can be at their choir concert but there’s this guilt that I feel because I want to be there with my team and be consistent. There are struggles like that. You know that there are times when you need to answer to some emails but the kids are there so you have to focus on them. The way I balance is I let my kids know that I have to answer some emails and they also know the times that I’m not going to work. For example, there are times that I have to answer a call and they would say “Mommy, you have to answer that call” so they don’t go to my office but when I shut down my computer, my phone is turned off, they know that we’re gonna spend the rest of the evening together. I found that if you’re upfront with your family, if you tell your kids that this is the time that you have to work then they’ll give you an uninterrupted time to work then I promise them this uninterrupted time that I’m not going to do work at all. I found to set boundaries; from 7:30-8:30, I have to attend to a call then 8:30-9:30, you get me uninterrupted by anything. When you set boundaries like that and you let everyone know, it works much better and everyone’s trying to protect it.

Q: When you think of your priority list: Family, business, mental health, physical health, how do you prioritize those? How does that look like at the day?

I put my physical and emotional health first. I cannot be a good wife and a good wife if I’m not the best person they’re comfortable with. I do my workout 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. I do my workouts at home. I always do my workout, I get enough sleep, I always read and have a little bit of down time for me everyday. I truly believe that if I’m not best person I’ll be, I can’t be a good mom, I can’t be a good wife. I always take the example when you’re in an airplane, it’s one of their safety measures, they ask you that in case of an emergency, you put on your mask first before you put on the mask on small children. I follow the same guidelines. If I’m not healthy, if I’m sick, if I’m not feeling that I’m not the best version of me in my own head, then how can I take care of my kids?

Especially as a female raising two girls in a world full of such crazy body image. I’m constantly struggling with the dieting or I’m constantly battling with the plate. What kind of thing am I putting to my children and the same is true when I’m deciding to get a divorce. I want my kids to see what love looks like and how relationships were or do I want them to see what a true, loving relationship really is. I firmly believe that my emotional and physical health should come first in order for my top priority which is my family to be number one.

Q: You’ve been successful in your business. What would you say are you most proud of in your professional life?

In my professional life, I would say that I’m most proud of a couple of things. One is bringing myself out of debt and reversing debt. I would tell my younger self to never get in a credit card which placed me on every debt that I can have. To be able to get out of that situation and to the opposite, now I’m in a place where I know I’m financially secure. I have no debt like I had before. I can completely breathe easy and have financial freedom. That’s one of the things I’m proud of because I was in the depths of debt and I thought there was no way out and that you’re never going to be able to not only leave that but reverse the effect. That is probably the thing I’m most proud of. The other is in having this business, I have also become a speaker and I have stepped on a stage in front of 6,000 people. Every time I speak, I really try to improve my speaking, motivate them and let them go home with a great take-away. I’m really proud of that professionally because it still allows me to be a teacher which is probably my “gift” but it allows me to do it in a bigger platform. I’m really proud of those opportunities that I get. Personally, I’m most proud of having the courage of emotional change. I used to think that I have to be perfect or people wouldn’t like me so I spent probably the better part of my adult life just living a complete lie publicly. Inside I was just broken but on the outside I was pretending that everything was ok and it was completely exhausting. Now I live 100% my authentic self. I’m so happy in my relationship. I’m a much better mom, I have a much better job, much better friends when you are just authentically who you are. It’s so much easier. I would probably say that the thing I’m most proud of is getting out of emotional debt too, being comfortable with myself.

Q: What do you think caused you to shift your mindset to get out of that emotional debt and deficit to have the success that you have achieved?

One is personal development. You hear that all the time, every successful person, leader, entrepreneur always shares about personal development and reading. At first, I would skip that, I thought that I don’t have time for that and I don’t need self-help books but when I started reading, it 100% changed my thought, changed the way I looked at things. Now it’s something that I would not skip. It plays a very difficult part. It has made me a better entrepreneur which helped me in the financial key. It’s really personal development, constantly reading, and nourishing your brain. Working out your brain only means working out your body. It’s a cliche but you’re just the average of the people you hang out with. When I started to change my closest circle, that’s when I also start to see change. When I was unhappy or sad, an elementary school teacher, funny enough, I was the woman I worked with. What do teachers do? We have happy hour, hang around people who have strength, party and take the party further and then I started to think that that wasn’t the life I want. I started to hang out with people above me, people who are in the position I wanted to be in, people who are already entrepreneurs, people who are already financially sound, people who are already diving into self-development and to see all their stuff together. That’s when I started to see big changes in me. I 100% believe that the people you hang out with is a direct reflection of who you are. My circle of influence today is very different from my circle of influence years ago and I think that has a significant impact as well.

Q: Was there any trigger for you to pick up that first book on how to change your circle or was it that you hit rock bottom?

I never hit rock bottom, just to be clear. I would say, honestly, that when I started to meet other people, when I started to dive into that whole BeachBody thing, and I was building my own business. I would go to an event where other people are successful and I would think: why not me? I just started to listen to what they were saying. There wasn’t a specific moment or one specific rock bottom. It was just a culmination of thinking: if I wanna be like these people and all these people are saying the same things, maybe those are the things I should be doing. It was more of a slow leak rather than a big pop. If I wanna be like these other people, I would aspire to be an entrepreneur. I wanna be able to change the course of my life and if these are the things that works for them, I’d be crazy not to try it. It started like that: really, let’s just try it.

Q: Do you have mentors or people who have inspired the way you live? Who were those people that you admired who have helped to change your life around?

One is Shaun T. He is the creator of Insanity. He is one of my very best friends now. He actually married my husband and I. He became a minister so he can marry us. He has been a mentor for me. Celine Johnson is another person who just goes into to her business, her podcasts, and her books. She’s also a good friend and now she’s been a mentor. A mentor for most part, Darren Hardy and all his work. I got the opportunity to work with him in a small group setting for a couple of days, it was incredible. From afar, John C. Maxwell, I just love his take on leadership, being an entrepreneur, and it is so motivational. I’m really big into podcasts. Basically, every book I read, everything I listen to, is just a fuel for my brain but if I had to pick a few, it would be those four. My husband, I cannot get a more motivational person and everyday he strives to do as he does. He’s not a mentor but he’s somebody who I work really close together with to try to bring out the best in each other-- the true essence of partnership. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of good influence in my life.

Q: What do you think “having it all” means?

To me, “having it all” means: one, that you are happy in love because I was in a different marriage previously, I now understand the difference between being married to someone just because you think you should be and what a true partnership is. To be emotionally connected in so many levels with another person that you share your life with, I don’t think that there is anything that can compare to that. I am also very fortunate that my children are healthy, happy, well-rounded kids.

I would always say that I’m happy living broke with my children and my husband somewhere. I won’t say that you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to have a fancy car and a fancy home but there is something to be said about just being secure. Having the financial freedom to never be stressed about the next bill that comes in or whether or not you can afford your next meal. If I have to narrow down what “having it all” means, I would say that it means you’re anxiety-free, or if any kind of anxiety comes into your life, you have a way to deal with it. I know now that whatever comes now that I’m equipped with my husband, my children, financially, we are sound. There’s nothing that can tear us down. Having it all doesn’t have to mean things but I think it’s more about a feeling of security and knowing you got things under control.

Q: If you could give an advise/advises to women pursuing that dream, what would it be?

One would be, work your ass off. None of this comes easy. A lot of people ask me sometimes what was it. I would always say that I worked my ass off and I still do. First and foremost, it’s hard work. It really is. You can’t take out that piece and success never comes easy. Secondly, I would say be very intentional with your goals and your to-do list. I knew that I wanted XYZ goals like now, I have three goals that I’m working on and everything in my to-do list must help me get those goals. That helps me decide what not to do. It helps me say no to things easier because if that is not in line with the goal I’m pushing for, then that’s not something I need to be doing at this moment. Basically, it’s hard work, being intentional with goals your to-do list. Be open to research, be a constant learner, look around you, what are the successful people around you doing? Do that. Those are my top 3 tips.

Q: If people would like to contact you, where would they go to know more about you?

I am happy to help and communicate with anyone!

Website: www.iamfitandfunky.com

Facebook: facebook.com/iamfitandfunky

Twitter: twitter.com/iamfitandfunky

Instagram: Instragram.com/iamfitandfunky