257 Decision to Forgive and Heal – Sue Falcone

What You will Hear in Sue Falcone's Story:

  • Launch a Business after Retirement;
  • Overweight and in Debt – an Emotional Healing Journey;
  • Retired after 30 Years But Lost All the Money;
  • Finally Dealing with Childhood Trauma;
  • Decision to Forgive and Heal.

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More about our featured guest Sue Falcone

Sue Falcone, former AT&T executive, Speaker, Author, & owner of “Simply” Sue Speaks! Global Booking Agency, knows about overcoming adversity! Her big RE-Launch moment came in 1997: when facing retirement, failed future plans, weighing over 300 pounds, $180k in debt, Sue realized her past of being illegitimate, childhood abuse, insecurity, doubt, and fear threatened to overwhelm and consume her!


Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to Relaunch. Your daily dose of fresh ideas, inspiring stories and practical solutions to help you build a business and a life that you love. And if you are a daily listener, welcome back, thank you for tuning in, and thank you for joining in the before and the after-show online conversations. And if you are new here, this is what you can expect, unique insights, a-ha moments and actionable information from self-made successes that share their trials, tribulations and their come-from-behind victories. And joining us on this show today is the author of, “The Light House of Hope: A Day by Day Journey of Fear-free Living”. Sue Falcone is on Relaunch. Sue, welcome, welcome.

[00:53] Sue Falcone: I am honored and great to be here.

[00:55] Joel: It's gonna be a lot of fun having you on, and we really appreciate your time today. And if you are facing a relaunch of necessity professional or financial, and emotional, or a health related relaunch, you are definitely gonna stick around for today's show because Sue has pretty much faced them all. Six figures in debt. Overweight with an incredible amount of doubt and uncertainty that were brought on by experiences that, frankly, no one should've had to have gone through. So we're gonna talk about those and so much more a little bit later on in today's show. So, once again, thank you, Sue for your willingness to be on.

[01:42] Joel: This show is all about the relaunch and, while we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our life, I generally ask our guests to zero in on the one relaunch that has been the most significant, the most transformational for them. And then, just unfold the story from there and we'll do that. There's a lot of things to choose from in reading some of the information that you've shared with me. But if it's okay with you, I'd like to start off today's show with either a quick piece of take away gold or, maybe a story from your talks or from your book, and then just kind of weave it into the relaunch story. So choice is yours, Sue. How should we start today's show?

[02:28] Sue Falcone: I love it when I get the choice.

[02:30] Joel: Yeah.

[02:30] Sue Falcone: That's awesome! [chuckle] Very seldom does that happen. So thank you for that. Well, I've learned two things in my relaunch journey.

[02:39] Joel: Okay.

[02:41] Sue Falcone: First to change, you do have to do it from the inside out. It never works the other way. And we are all products of our past, but we do not have to be prisoners of them, nor do we have to make prisoners of others as well. So with those two things, we're ready to define the relaunch that I had.

[03:04] Joel: Okay. Well, let's go ahead and jump right into it. Those are great points. Great bullets, if you will. But how does that apply in your relaunch rather?

[03:18] Pei: It sounded like they are so dear to your heart, and it's something you learn from your real life experience.

[03:25] Sue Falcone: You're so right about that 'cause in 1997, I was facing, in my living room, one of those moments that I never thought I would have to face. The journey was, I was retiring from major corporation AT&T after 30 years because I didn't wanna move one more time. But I had it all planned out. I thought everything was gonna work out fine. I was gonna have this international training company. Everything was just gonna be perfect. Well, I got the call in October that day that all my plans that I had thought was gonna happen were not.

[04:09] Joel: What happened?

[04:11] Sue Falcone: They all fell through. Everything that we thought was signed, filled and delivered didn't happen. I lost a ton of money that I had rolled over in my 401K. I was sitting there. I weighed over 300 pounds. I was sitting there knowing our financial situation of thinking, “Oh, wow. Did I make a wrong decision? Did I make a wrong choice?” And I really didn't have a clue what I was gonna do. And for that first time in my life that I could ever remember, was that I didn't know what I was gonna do. Before I'd always managed to figure it out. But I was at the bottom, at the bottom. I didn't have any way to figure it out, and I was just sitting there on my favorite chair. And I just happened to look down and there was a copy of the Bible, and it was kinda dusty. Now look, I'd gone to church and I'd done a lot of things. But when you're in corporate America, you don't have time to incorporate all that.

[05:15] Pei: Right. So, Sue, let me ask you something before you take us further there.

[05:22] Sue Falcone: Sure.

[05:23] Pei: Now, when you were… You said, you gained so much weight. It almost sounded like that wasn't so much a problem until the financial issues added on on top of everything else as well.

[05:39] Joel: The added on pounds of thoughts and different challenges and complications.

[05:49] Sue Falcone: Sure. I'd always been overweight as a child.

[05:53] Joel: Okay.

[05:53] Sue Falcone: But I had never recognized it. I had never done anything about it. I'd always overcome it. Everything had always worked out. But until, it all kinda just caved in there. Everything came in play, that did I realize, “Wow” and I was blessed that I did not have any health problems. I didn't take any medication. Nothing. So, it didn't really have that effect, but I realized I was facing that as well as the other things and they had just, they just piled on, but also in those moments then I realized, I had never faced my past.

[06:36] Pei: Wow!

[06:36] Sue Falcone: And that was part of it, that you had to kinda pull those layers out and before you could come to some plan of action, you had to see where you were at. And that was kind of a… I'll never forget that day. Never ever.

[06:52] Pei: Yeah. So when you… So, it sounded like your plan was you were trying to use your retirement cushion to build this new training company.

[07:03] Sue Falcone: Correct.

[07:05] Joel: And that came out from under you. So, I'm curious about this. In '97 you decided to face your past. So was that just kind of a choice that you made that this is the time when I need to do this, or was this a necessity that you know what? I have have to do this so I can deal with whatever I need to deal with, and relaunch into a better next chapter for yourself and your family? Choice or necessity?

[07:34] Sue Falcone: Probably a little bit of both, because at that time I started daily journaling. And when I started writing, and I'd been a writer all my life, but you know, corporate America takes all your time. I only wrote for corporate America, so I didn't write personal as much. But when I started writing, I realized then what I needed to do to be able to come back together as myself, because I realized I had never, never gone back and recognized I had a horrible, horrible childhood. And a lot of people didn't even know that, because I didn't bother to tell anybody and I didn't even bother to take the time to understand it. I just endured it, got away and never went back.

[08:27] Pei: So you put a lid over it?

[08:29] Sue Falcone: Yeah.

[08:30] Pei: And it's like, it fragmented from the rest of your life.

[08:35] Sue Falcone: Correct. And I did a good job of it. It was a kind of mask, 'cause I was happy on the outside, and I'm a fun person and I love it, but I didn't grow up that way. So, a lot of people, if they didn't know me and know about that, they just thought I was just normal and everything was fine. It looked fine on the outside, but on the inside it was not fine. And that's where I had to get to.

[09:02] Joel: So let me ask you this. What did you learn or relearn about Sue as you begin this rebuilding relaunch, if you will? When Pei and I are helping people, and I know this happens to you with the people that you help and the audiences that you're in front of and the client, and your personal clients.

[09:24] Sue Falcone: Correct.

[09:24] Joel: The speakers that you work with. When people are going through any kind of transformation, there is a period of learning. You're learning about things that you didn't know about your potential, your possibilities and also your value. And then there's a period of relearning where you remember what you used to know about yourself. So I'm just curious. What did you learn or relearn as you were obviously doing a lot of personal growth during that period of time?

[09:57] Sue Falcone: Well, I realized what my husband had been telling me for a long time. That I was valuable. That I was worthy. But I really didn't feel that way and especially at the situation where I was at. I certainly didn't, because my work had to be in success, because I became very successful, was my identity. That was my security, and that was just wiped out. So now, it's like I am starting over. And after 30 years and doing the things I've done, I knew I could not do it the same way. And then that's where the past comes in where you have to realize you have to learn more about it and that's what I sought to do. I went back to my past and sought to learn more about it, so that I could process it and heal. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do that. I would have had the same feelings, the same anxieties, the same fears, 'cause I was a very fearful person underneath. And that all came out here. That all came out. Until it happened like this, it really didn't. I could kinda cover it up.

[11:13] Pei: Yeah. So, I'm always curious when that happens. How did you realize you had to deal with that pain? You had to open that wound to face it and reflect on it?

[11:28] Sue Falcone: Well, I read a scripture that said that God really has a plan for me, and a purpose, and to see it, that I had to do that. I had to find out. I realized at that time I really didn't know who I was. I had become someone else. And I didn't know who I was, that's why I had to go back to the past and find out who I really was.

[11:56] Joel: So, what did you find out?

[11:57] Pei: Yeah, exactly.

[11:58] Joel: What was there waiting? What was there? What did you find out?

[12:02] Sue Falcone: First of all, I'm illegitimate. And my birth mother, I'm grateful and thankful that she chose adoption rather than abortion. But she put two restrictions on it. One, I was to be adopted by my birth father's family, and I was never to be told. So the way I understood the story, later on I found out that I was put in front of a judge and five brothers and sisters wanted me, and he awarded me to a couple that didn't have children. So basically I was adopted by what was really my aunt and uncle. Well they adopted me so that, cute as I was as a baby, but they adopted me to save their marriage.

[12:54] Pei: Wow!

[12:54] Sue Falcone: And I didn't, and I was made to pay for that all my life.

[13:00] Pei: Oh, not given the choice.

[13:02] Sue Falcone: And I was made to feel like I would never be anything, I was a horrible person, just all those kind of things growing up that a kid shouldn't have to face. And so I processed it and I dealt with it, and I realized that the only way to get out of that situation was education. Because most of my family didn't have education and that was we were in this situation. Because I was put into a very, very poor situation, but I didn't have any love either. Not really. I didn't see that love, I didn't feel that love. And I wanted to go back, because once I left, I didn't see any need to ever go back.

[13:46] Sue Falcone: And I just kind of kept in touch generically. Like the person that I call my ‘mom', I would just send her a generic card. Because all the things that she had done in my life, I wasn't really concerned about and I didn't really want to get involved anymore. That was just the way. When I got away, that was it. But at this time I realized that I needed to open that up and really find out who I was and what the circumstances were, and more about it. So I had to make that call to her. And I hadn't talked to her in years.

[14:22] Joel: How tough was that?

[14:24] Sue Falcone: Well let me just tell you, I struggled with it for days. And I just said “I shouldn't be calling her, she should be calling me. Because after all, she's the one that did the damage. Why do I have to do this?” And I just paced and paced, but I didn't have any peace until I realized I had to make the first step.

[14:45] Joel: Okay so probably very, very accurate that, yes, she should have called. But you know what? There came a point in time when you were willing to put down your dukes and you were willing to be vulnerable to make that first step. So what was that like?

[15:08] Sue Falcone: But Joel, I realized I had never really been angry. I'm not an angry person, and I'm not a vengeful person. And I just shoved it away, so I really didn't have that anger mode. I just wanted to know, but I really wasn't sure I really wanted to know. ‘Cause you never know when you call and open this can of worms what's gonna happen. You just don't know. But I realized that for me I had to take that step. And when I called her, how this came out I don't know 'cause I didn't plan this just like I've not planned much with you today at all, it just came out. But when she answered and I said “This is Sue, and I want you to forgive me for not being the kind of daughter you needed.” I don't know where that came from because I really didn't… But I'm glad I said it because the next thing I knew, she was crying. And she said “Sue, I've been wanting to reach out and find you and let you know I really do love you, but I didn't know how to love you and I don't even love myself.”

[16:22] Sue Falcone: And then she started pouring out things that I'd never heard. I'd never known the story of her… I really had never known a lot about the family and all like this. And she just poured her heart out. And I just listened, and I just listened. And then I said “Can we start over? Can we begin again?” And she says “I want to.” And I'm from Oklahoma, so from North Carolina to Oklahoma's pretty far away. It's not real next door. And I said, “I want to come see you and I want to begin again.” And she said, “I would like that.” And that's how we did until she passed away. And we did learn some things together. We had some great times together. She was a very, very smart creative woman, but had addictions, had a bad past, had made bad choices, and never got to fulfill any portion of the life she could have had. And so when I saw that, I said “Oh, wow!” I guess that's when I realized that was great. I can help others get through that because I just imagine there's a lot of people that need to make that step.

[17:45] Joel: Did that help you make the decision to pick up the torch where she couldn't go on? To be that light, to be that guide for others? Because that's what you do now. You do that with the speakers that you personally coach and mentor and guide, and then you do that just in your personal life?

[18:09] Sue Falcone: Mm-hmm.

[18:10] Joel: So, what was…

[18:10] Sue Falcone: It was a great beginning, it was the greatest beginning because then I realized I had more experience than a lot of people have in their lives and I said, “I'm gonna be transparent, I'm gonna own it, I'm gonna admit it”. And a lot of people even question, they said “Sue, why would you ever go out and tell people that you're illegitimate?” I said, “You know what? Because there's usually in an audience of any size, there's gonna be others that have never faced it, and if I can help one,” I said, “I wanna be transparent.” So then from then on I really got to know myself, I got to know who I was, and then what I wanted to do. I had to figure that out, remember I'm still at this learning point of what do you do with it?

[19:02] Sue Falcone: Now you've faced this and you've this, now what do you do? And by that time I had found a plan that really worked on the weight and I had started loosing the weight, so I was on a journey then to find that, to see where I fit and what I could do. And then I started writing the book because I said, “This is… I'm facing these fears and I bet people want to know how to face them,” and so that's when I started that part of it and I did use scripture, simply because that's kinda where my foundation came from, because as a child I could sing and I loved music and I loved to sing, but I was very shy about it, but the church that I attended they would let me come because I could sing.

[19:54] Sue Falcone: And so, that was kinda my safe place, that and the library, those were the two safe places in my life. And so, my family never went to church, no one ever… And the whole town knew about my family so it was kind of, I just went there to sing, but I realized there were some connection there that traveled with me for all my life and so that's kind of where I came from, from that standpoint of saying, “Yeah, this is really true. This really works. It's really about what I'm supposed to be doing is to be sharing the gifts and the knowledge that I have to be able to help others. Whether it's in a corporate setting, whether it's helping others become the best they can be, whether it's representing speakers to every event to get them into the place they love, getting the fees they need, whatever,” that became my big picture.

[20:55] Joel: Awesome.

[20:56] Sue Falcone: So we've realized there's no… I don't have retirement DNA, so this journey goes on.

[21:05] Joel: Pei, did you have…

[21:06] Pei: Wow, what a story. Now you're helping those speakers. Is that the training company you originally had in mind? Yeah, take us there, how are you building your business and…

[21:16] Sue Falcone: Well, as you know I became a speaker and an author of a book, so I was out there doing my thing. I was out there having a great time. I just thought this was my forever, right? I said, “Well, this is just wonderful.” But in doing that I met a lot of speakers and potentially great trainers, and presenters, and coaches, and authors that just couldn't seem to market themselves well. They couldn't negotiate contracts well. They were afraid to ask for fees. They wanted a career, and they wanted a business, and they wanted to be doing this, but they couldn't seem to do that. And I'd had an agent, I'd been on speaker bureaus so I knew what was the normal path, I knew that. And I said…

[22:16] Sue Falcone: I came home one night, I'll never forget this, I had met this speaker that I really, really knew could be much greater than where she was at and I said, I told my husband I said, “I think I'm really supposed to start a booking agency.” I said, “I really think I'm supposed to start helping speakers get out there, 'cause I can only reach so many by myself.” I can be a speaker and an author for the rest of my life but I can only reach so many, but if I can help other speakers and other trainers, and other presenters think of how many more we can reach. You know? I got to thinking of this and I said, “Oh,” and I pulled in the tag line of, “We bring the wow factor, to your upcoming event.”

[23:06] Joel: I love that.

[23:07] Pei: Because I realized that's what's missing out there for a lot of speakers and all, they don't really know how to connect and event planners kind of have, sometimes, lost that connection of how to grab into that. What is the wow factor? And the wow factor is just doing the right thing at the right time and having fun at it, and getting engaging and getting your audience to want more of you, and there's just… It's simple things, it's not real large, but I realize that was a passion of mine that I wanted to be able to do. So we started with a few and now we're building it, and now we're global, we just went global.

[23:47] Joel: Congratulations. That is…

[23:49] Sue Falcone: Which is amazing. [chuckle] Another set of things to learn but, that's okay.

[23:54] Joel: Oh, yeah. Yeah, sounds like you're a good student and you've been taking your own lessons.

[24:01] Sue Falcone: Well that's how I overcame my past.

[24:05] Joel: Absolutely.

[24:05] Sue Falcone: Because I knew education… And it didn't have to… I don't have a college degree, Joel and Pei. I don't. I went to one year of college and then I went to work for the telephone company, and they saw something in me that gave me more than I would've ever gotten with a college degree, because they gave me certifications. I have been mentored and trained by the best. Zig Ziglar was a personal mentor and friend of mine. I got to grow up with the best. It's amazing how all this, and when I look at this, I said, “Oh, I am just honored and privileged to be able to share and be that transparent so that people can understand it is possible.”

[24:50] Joel: What a great way…

[24:51] Sue Falcone: Anything is possible.

[24:52] Joel: What a great place to come in for a landing, to “Anything is possible.” Sue Falcone is who we're speaking with today. The book is called “The Lighthouse of Hope,” and it's a great book. Thank you for sharing a copy with us, Sue. Of course, I'm gonna include all of the hot spots and the go-to places in the blog article that accompanies this episode. So much appreciate you and what you're doing and how you're adding value to the people's lives in whom you touch, the speakers that you work with one-on-one, and then also the audiences that you're in front of. Thank you so much for being on our show today. I know you're very active in the ReLaunch fan club, which we are so excited that you're in there constantly just adding value…

[25:46] Pei: Right.

[25:46] Joel: And bringing a smile to people's face. And the ReLaunch fan club is an easy place to get to. You can actually do it right there using your smartphone, just by going to the Facebook app on your phone. Open up the app and search “ReLaunch fan club,” and click to apply for membership, and we will take it from there. Sue, thank you for being on today's show. Have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day.

[26:15] Sue Falcone: Thank you so much for having me.

[26:18] Joel: Thank you so much for tuning in. You can also access our show from many mobile apps or by visiting our website. For today's show, just go joelboggess.com/257. You'll also find show transcripts and additional resources to support your relaunch into the life and business that you love.

Connect with Sue on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and her website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.


  1. Sue Falcone on March 18, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks Jane for all you do for so many! I appreciate your kind words! We all have a story and I am grateful to share mine to help others! Then I get to do what I love in helping others be heard and seen too!

  2. PJ Sawvel on March 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Great show! Sue, you got right down to the foundational issues and then built a new roof. Congrats.
    Thank you making it OKAY for each person to be open about who they are.

    • Sue Falcone on March 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks PJ for your kind words. Glad you saw the message that I was wanting to convey to help others as I have been helped! Love what I do in getting to do that!

  3. Jane Carroll on March 5, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    What an inspiring show…Sue…love your story…thank you so much for sharing it…totally motivating!

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