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Moving Out Of Abuse And Into A Life Of Purpose with Marie Cosgrove
I have someone with me who’s an awesome person. She’s an investor, entrepreneur and international speaker. She serves as the CEO of Balanceback, the world’s leading manufacturer of diagnostic and treatment devices for dizziness, concussions and traumatic brain injury. She survived a difficult upbringing filled with violence and abuse, and single-handedly raised four children and was, at one time, homeless. Her journey took her from becoming a number one national sales rep to being fired, to becoming a CEO of the same company and taking it international. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to welcome Marie Cosgrove to the show. Marie, thank you for being here with us. How are you?
I’m doing great. Thank you for having me, Rodney. I appreciate it.
It’s a pleasure to have you here. There are some people in the audience that can relate to being single and raising four kids. There are some things you had mentioned about domestic violence. I want to talk about that because in today’s society, people deal with that type of stuff, but we don’t talk about it. You have to be tough. You suck it up. You deal with it and that’s challenging. That’s admirable to some extent, but people are suffering, and they need help. You are an example of what it takes to get through something like that. Perhaps there are some things that you could share. Maybe there are some strategies, concepts or ideas that you’ve adopted, that has allowed you to bounce back, to be resilient in the face of those types of challenges. I would talk about some of the things that you’ve done given the challenges that you’ve faced in life to be successful.
I’m 48 years old now. The four kids that I raised single-handedly are now adults and they’re successful. Thank, God, they survived my single parenting. By the time I was 27, I was divorced twice. Both husbands lost parental rights. I had three with my first and he didn’t lose parental rights fully. He still had the ability to see them under supervision, but it was court-supervised for four hours every other weekend and he never saw them. I guess part of it was he didn’t want to go through the court system and had to be supervised while he saw the kids. He was never in the picture. My second husband completely lost parental rights. He was violent, so he lost parental rights to my fourth one, the one child we had together. That turned out to be a blessing because it was a violent situation. Looking back, I have more awareness of what was going on in my mind back then that I didn’t realize back then. I’m going to try to put myself back there is what I remember.
With my first husband, I had just become a Christian. I was like, “I’m a Christian now. I love being a Christian.” My heart was changing, the way I was thinking was changing. I took the scripture. I was in a church that was legalistic. You stay married. You don’t divorce no matter what unless there’s adultery. There was no adultery but there was a lot of physical violence. I couldn’t seem to get myself out. Every time I’d get beat up so bad, it was somebody else that intervened and saw it that pulled me out. We’d go to counseling and get back together and I’m like, “God’s awesome. He’s going to save our marriage. Our marriage is going to be perfect,” and then it happened again. It was a cycle, it kept happening. I would have been able to get out if he had not moved in with another girl, a young girl who happened to be a teenager at the time, and then it ended. It made me sad because in a crazy way, I loved him, but he was still violent. I know it doesn’t make sense. How can you love someone who beats you? Looking back at it, I didn’t have self-confidence.Every life is valuable. Click To Tweet
I don’t know if you know my story, but I’m a product of rape. My mother was in a car accident. She had permanent brain damage. After her car accident, she was raped. They wanted to abort the baby because she had brain damage and they said, “There’s no way she can carry this baby to term being that she’s got mental conditions and is under a lot of medications.” He would bring that to me and he would say, “You’re a product of rape. You don’t even know who your dad is. You’re lucky I married you. Who would ever want to marry you?” Somehow, subconsciously, I believed that. Even though I was a Christian, I still felt insignificant. I still felt there was a stain on me that nothing would take away the stain. I was damaged good. I was like, “I’m lucky he married me. I’d probably not have anyone.” That was my faulty thinking. Looking back at it now, I had this low self-confidence and I believed these lies. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we tend to be told things that are not true, and we believe it. We don’t get enough validation. We don’t get enough people that come to us and tell us, “You’re doing a great job,” or notice our positive skills that we may have or what’s positive about us. We believe these lies.
Now that I have a closer relationship with God, I realized that every life is valuable. I used to look at that part of my life, how I came into the world. We can’t control how we come into the world but we can determine how we leave this world. I realized now, “That was a miracle,” and I didn’t use to look at it that way, “Maybe I should have been aborted. Maybe I shouldn’t be here.” I had this negative self-image about myself and I ended up repeating the cycle. The second husband I married, I didn’t want to marry. He was involved in the church. The church thought, “Your kids need a dad and you’re a single mom with three kids.” I repeated that cycle. I married this man and it was worse. He was abusive towards my kids.
I look at it and I think, “It was a miracle,” because I was on a business trip. I came home early. I wasn’t supposed to come home early and my boss dropped me off at home. I walked in and I saw three of my kids on the floor. They were kneeling and crying. Their stepdad was sitting on the couch and I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “Nothing.” I said, “Why are they crying?” The kids were like, “He hit us,” and he said, “They’re lying. They’re saying that because they want us to get divorced.” I looked at my boys and one of my boys had blood running down his leg from his shorts. He had hit him with a buckle so hard that the metal part had cut into his skin. I grabbed the kids, ran upstairs and I grabbed everything I could and went into our minivan. I was in San Antonio at this time.
I was driving away but he followed me. At that time, on the expressway, it was construction until there was only one lane and I couldn’t exit. He followed me in his truck and he put his truck right in front of my van. He got out, he started knocking on the door and screamed. The kids were screaming so I rolled down the window. Then he opened the door, took one of the kids and put him in the truck and left. I had to follow him back home because I wasn’t going to let him stay with my son. He had to go back to work. That’s when he took my keys to my van and I couldn’t leave. I called a family member and they came and picked me up. We left with what we could and I never went back. At that time, I was working for a Fortune 500 company, USAA, in San Antonio. I was making a good six-figure income. I had to leave it all behind and walk away with nothing.
It makes me sad that that’s what it took because it was never anything visible. The kids would complain, “He hit us,” and there were never any visible signs. It was always pulling their hair or something and a lot of verbal abuse towards me, never physical abuse. I didn’t look at it the same way. I looked at it as, “I’m not getting beat,” and that hurt more than what I went through. Looking back, I can see that I didn’t have the confidence or the courage to have my voice heard. To have that strength and courage to stand up to someone and say, “This isn’t right. This is not what I want for my life.” I was living my life based on what other people wanted for my life. What other people thought would be good for me and my family.
This is a serious issue and it’s heartfelt. Thank you for sharing your story. I believe there are people in our audience that may be dealing with this. Thank, God, that you’re out of it now but it can be paralyzing. This is what I call being stuck in a situation and you’re trying to figure out how to move, how to get out of this. Being a female, you start thinking about how you’re going to take care of yourself. If you have children, how you’re going to take care of your children. It causes people to stay in the relationship. It’s not that you want to be there, you have a heart and a love for the individual, but it’s also the kids. Making sure that the kids are taken care of and all of you are taken care of. I recognize and I acknowledge that it can be a difficult situation and a delicate situation. How did you make that that turn? You didn’t have the confidence in yourself or you didn’t feel that you are going to be independent enough to make it on your own. What were some of the things that took place that allowed you to make that pivot and start to regain that confidence and that independence?
When I left, as a mother, sometimes we put up with a lot of these happening to us. Once it happened to my kids, I’m like, “No. I’m not putting up with it.” After that, I started to evaluate, “I’m 27 years old. I have four kids now. I’m a single mom. Is there something wrong with me? What am I doing to cause this?” I started to do inner reflection and I started to get more into the Bible and reading more without the church’s culture telling me, “This is what you need to read.” Just reading it and I remember coming across this scripture which says, “It’s better for a man to hang a millstone around his neck and throw himself into the deep sea than hurt a little one.” At that time, there were some church members saying, “You shouldn’t get divorced,” and I’m like, “He just beat my son. I don’t think so,” and they would quote scripture to me, “You’re going to be in sin if you divorce,” and so I’m no longer part of that church organization, but that was the mentality.
I started to get into the scripture completely unfiltered. They would give me prayer books of women sharing their testimonies on how they prayed for their spouse that was violent. Now they weren’t violent anymore and God changed them. I came to the realization that the person has to want to change. You can pray for them to change and I would pray to God to change me. You’re going to be more effective because if you want to change, you’re going to change, but the person has to want to and you can’t force that. God can’t force that because he gives us free will. If that person doesn’t want to change, God’s not going to wave a magic wand and say, “You’re healed. You’re not going to be this way anymore,” if that person doesn’t want that change.
I came to that realization and reading the scriptures helped me significantly to pull out of that darkness that I was in. For example, I used to read the book of Psalms and Proverbs in talking about the wellspring of life and how that’s available to you and thinking, “What is it that allows us to experience that?” I started to pay attention to my thoughts and what I was feeling and my emotions. It was hard. It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a process and I still invest a lot in myself and personal development. It’s a daily thing because we have daily struggles. I remember one day being depressed and sad. I was crying. I locked myself in the restroom, turned on the shower, and cried because I didn’t want my kids to see that. I had brought a journal with me and I used to say my prayers in a journal. I used to write to God.
Someone before had told me, “We think that something’s not right here. Your kids are well-behaved and they’re good. When he’s not around, they’re playing around like kids. As soon as he shows up, they become like robots and they’re just standing there. Something is wrong.” I prayed that day, “God, show me there’s something. Reveal it to me,” and then I realized I was not supposed to be home that day. I was supposed to come home the next day. God revealed it to me. He answered my prayer. I’m like, “He is a living God. He does answer your prayers.”You can’t change a person. They have to want to do it in the first place. Click To Tweet
Going through it, I was thinking in the immediate aftermath of it all, “Why did you allow this to happen? Why did you allow this to happen to my kids? Why?” I realized that we are not God’s puppet. We have free will and because of that, we’re going to get hurt because someone else may do something that’s not the right thing to do, but that person’s not a puppet. God’s not going to control that person to make sure we’re protected. Sometimes when bad people make bad choices, they affect good people too but God can help us through that situation. He can give us the strength we need and the wisdom to get out of that situation or the strength that we need if we ask him. If we ask him for wisdom, he’ll give it to us. If we ask him for the strength, he’ll give it to us and that’s what he did. He gave me the strength to pull through that situation.
I think about people that are in that situation. It’s easy to blame themselves. You mentioned briefly that there was a moment where you blamed yourself. You had to look at yourself. What would you say to an individual in our audience that is currently in that situation and they blame themselves? Maybe they see themselves as inadequate or have done something in the past that have been holding onto and is then the reason or the excuse for the abuse to continue on. They feel that that’s acceptable. What do you say to that person?
I would say that it doesn’t matter what they’ve been through, no one deserves to be abused and to be beaten, regardless of the mistakes you’ve made, haven’t made or the choices you’ve made. No one deserves that. I know that because I was there. I felt, “Maybe I did deserve this.” If you asked me back then, I wouldn’t have admitted that to you. I would have just said, “Bad luck.” Now that I know what I know, I understand how your subconscious mind works. I do recall being told, even my second husband, “Who would have married you with three kids? You’re lucky I married you. Nobody would have wanted a woman with three kids.” Constantly this negativity and I began to believe that. It’s hard when you’re in that situation that all you hear is negativity because they’re programming you. They’re programming your mind and it’s affecting your self-confidence and your subconscious mind, and it’s a hard thing to do.
What I would say is surround yourself with people who support you, who build you up and invest in personal development and coaching. Find yourself a mentor. Find yourself a coach that can help you to overcome this because it’s not easy to do it alone. You need as many resources as you can get and they’re out there. They’re available to you. That’s what I would say, that it’s not your fault. You don’t deserve it. I know that’s hard to believe because you’re being told that and you’re thinking, “Nobody else is going to want me.” That’s what I used to think, “Nobody else is going to love me.” Nobody deserves that. Nobody deserves to be abused and hurt regardless of where you came from.
I completely agree that a lot of people that find themselves in this situation are being programmed. That too is one of the reasons why it’s hard to leave because you’ve been programmed to believe that you need to stay in this situation for whatever reason. It’s unfortunate when you believe that you need to stay there because you don’t believe in yourself. You don’t believe you have the strength or the know-how to change it. I want to say here that for anyone in our audience that is dealing with that, you are beautiful. You have the ability to walk away. You have the ability to have a new life. You have the ability to create something better for yourself, and if you have kids, for yourself and your kids.
Correct me if I’m wrong, Marie, I believe that creating that vision, holding onto what that looks like as every day you come home, and you have to live through the experience of doom and gloom. Begin to create the life that you want in your mind and begin to get the people around you that can support you and this new vision of yourself. Put that in front of you more so than the experience that you are experiencing. This programming, the subconscious mind, can believe that you’re supposed to be there.
In order to change that, we have to change at the subconscious level that we deserve something else and that there is something else available for us. I believe in creating that vision, creating a new environment, putting yourself in a different environment. I know it takes time for us to get to that place where we truly believe, know, and feel comfortable with doing something different. It’s worth the time, it’s worth the effort and it’s worth you living the life that you want to live. To live this way in front of your kids, in my mind, is not acceptable.
I’m grateful that you have been able to come out of this situation. I’m passionate about this because I know there are many people out there that are not as fortunate as you are. They’re screaming. They’re fish in an aquarium screaming, but no one can hear them. In addition to the environment and the support group, a lot of the work that has to be done is at an individual level. I’m not placing that whole responsibility on the person that’s in this experience and say, “You have to do this alone,” but I know that it takes that level of effort.
What are some recommendations in addition to the environment, reading the Bible and having that faith? Are there any strategies that you would recommend, any ideas that people can adapt to do this? The reason why I asked, Marie, is because it’s the common answer, it’s the great answer. However, I know there are people in our audience that say, “I’ve heard that before.” I can’t believe that everyone that’s in that situation hasn’t ever read their Bible or they haven’t ever prayed or they haven’t spoken to someone to help them, yet if you look at the stats, there are a lot of people that are in this situation. If we’re going to make a game-changing difference, there has to be something that we do differently. I want to pull from you, if there’s anything that you’ve done, that may be a little unorthodox or a little bit different than what has been said. Is there anything in addition to what you said that you can offer up for people in this situation?
I’m certainly going to echo what you said because what you said is true about visualizing a better life for yourself. That is important to do. Here are some things that I did. One of the first things to do, which is hard is to forgive your abuser. That is one of the most important steps that you can take because it’s for you, it’s not for them. It’s for you to bring yourself healing so that you don’t have that bitterness and anger in your heart. You can take that bitterness and anger in a future relationship, onto your children, and that’s something you don’t want to do. That is one of the most important steps that I took and it is forgiveness.Nobody deserves to be abused and hurt regardless of where you came from. Click To Tweet
Another thing that is important is visualizing your new life because today’s a new day. Yesterday is gone. We can’t change the past, but you can design tomorrow. One of the things that you can do is visualization. If visualization is hard for you, a lot of people do this, is they create their own storyboards, “This is the car I want. This is the house I want,” put it on a storyboard and look at that on a daily basis. I know it sounds silly and juvenile, but it does work because you’ve seen that. What happens is you start to see this better future for yourself. You start to take action on a daily basis.
The next thing is, “What small steps can I take now to pull me forward?” A lot of times we think, “That’s impossible. I want a new house. I want better living conditions for me and my family but going from where I’m at to that step seems almost impossible because it’s such a huge step. You take the next possible step. You’re in an impossible situation. To get out of an impossible situation and to make it possible is by taking the next possible step. What’s the next possible step I can take today? It doesn’t have to be big, it’s a small step. “Maybe I need a new job,” start looking for a job. That’s the next possible step. “Maybe I need a mentor,” find a mentor that has experience in this field or a coach that has experience in this field who can help me get to the next possible step. Take these small steps, these small actions that you can take today to move forward. You will start seeing that as you start moving towards the big goal that you have envisioned. You’ll start taking these small steps and it starts to become a reality.
I’m not saying that you’re not going to have challenges along the way. You will have challenges along the way but surround yourself with people who support you. If you can’t find anyone who supports you, reach out to people like Rodney, like myself or other people that you can reach out to that specialize in personal development to help you get past your current situation. Another thing that you can do is being thankful for what you do have. I know it’s hard because we tend to think of, “I’m going through this, this and this.” We start thinking negatively of all the negative things that are occurring around us that affect our emotions. What happens is our emotions become negative and we begin to get our minds filled with fear, with hate, with anger, with regret, with all these negative emotions.
When we fill our minds with these negative emotions, our body starts producing harmful hormones. For example, our cortisol levels go up. Our sugar levels go up, which creates diabetes. You can have weight gain because of it. Not only are you affecting yourself emotionally but physically. We have studies that show when you have a negative thought, and we can now record this because I’m in the healthcare industry, we can see this happening, you’re making it more difficult to get out of that situation by focusing on all the hardship. Yes, it is hard. Yes, you are going through this hard time. What are some positive things that are happening in your life? There’s always something to be thankful for. You have food on the table today, “Thank God I have food on the table. Thank God I have a roof over my head.”
I remember when I lost my house, I lost my car and I lost everything. I didn’t have a car. My four children and I had no place to go. We lost it all. The only place we could go was my aunt’s house. We were sleeping on the living room floor. They had a small house. They didn’t have room for us, so we slept on the floor. I can be like, “I’m on the floor. I lost my house, it was a nice house. I went from six-figure to zero and then I’ve got nothing. I don’t have a house. I don’t have a car. I have nothing.” Instead of focusing on that, I was like, “Thank God, I have my children. Thank God, we’re saved. Thank God that they’re not being abused anymore and they will never be abused again. Thank God we have a roof over our head,” and I started thinking positive every day. What are the things I am thankful for today? Every day make it a habit. It’s hard because when you program yourself to think negative, “I can’t believe this happened again. Now, this. I can’t believe this.” That’s how you’re operating on a daily basis.
It’s going to take practice. That’s why you need an accountability partner that’s going to support you, a coach and a mentor that’s going to help you get through that. That you can reprogram your mind and recondition yourself so that you’re thinking positive thoughts and your life will definitely change. If you think positive, powerful hormones start developing in your body. You’re happy and you’re like, “I’m thankful for this.” Your body produces serotonin, for example. That’s the same hormone that’s produced when you eat chocolate. It’s healthier for you. Be happy and be thankful for what you do have. The positive hormones start producing in your body. Are you changing your thoughts? You start getting healthier emotionally and physically and that’s going to give you the energy that you need to push forward.
Everyone, even if you’re not going through a challenging situation, you can take that information, put it to work and begin to change your life. One thing I want to attack here is for people that may find themselves in this situation when we talk about being grateful, I challenge you. Some people will say, “I’m going to stay because he’s putting a roof over my head or she’s doing this or he’s doing that.” I got that he may be doing that but you have to weigh, is it worth him abusing you verbally or physically or your children because he’s providing something for you? People will hold you to that as a hostage because they’re doing this for you.
I want you to understand that is not something to be grateful for. That, in itself, is a form of abuse. You have to remove yourself from that. I also want to say that being a person that was paralyzed before, it is hard. One of the things that I’ve found that helped me was to be grateful for my situation even though I couldn’t walk, even though I felt something had been taken from me. I was grateful that I was alive. I was grateful that even though I couldn’t walk, I still have the opportunity. I knew there were some things I needed to do, some environmental changes I needed to make. Some things that I needed to do to overcome that, but I was grateful for the opportunity to do it.
What you said about looking for the positive, I believe in harvesting the good out of every situation in life regardless of how bad it is. That goes back to the free world that you were talking about. You have a choice to do that. I teach a program on how to manage resistance. When we talk about that resistance showing up, the challenges that show up and harvesting the good out of it, what we want to look at are the positive potentials out of it. In this situation, it’s a new life, the life where you’re not being abused, the life where your children are free to be kids without the fear of someone harming them. You do not have anyone taking your self-identity away from you and allowing you to flourish into the beautiful person that you are. Every woman, every female deserves that.
They should have that opportunity to be that, to be the wonderful mother to their kid, to be the beautiful woman that they are. If you find yourself in a situation, you finally get hard to identify, “What’s a positive outcome of this situation?” It could be that you get the opportunity to be free. To not have fear, to live a life where you can make a decision to go and do something for yourself or for your kids and not have the fear of someone harming you because of that decision. That is a positive potential for you, one that is worth pursuing, in my opinion. Whenever you find yourself in that situation, that vision board, creating that new life by design, everyone has that ability to do that. It’s having the strength and the courage to say no more to the life that you don’t want and saying yes to the life that you do want and taking action on that. Marie, you are a CEO of your company. Tell us about that. How were you able to create that and design that in your life?You have the ability to create something better for yourself. Click To Tweet
When I was a single mom with four kids and I didn’t have a place of my own, two of my kids had serious conditions. My son had a condition that required weekly shots and physical therapy every day. It was an autoimmune disease that affected his organ. He had joint problems. He couldn’t make a fist. Any small movements hurt him tremendously. He would grow calcium deposits all over his arms and his elbows. The physicians said that without medication, he’d be dead in six months. With medication, we’ll be looking at him living until at least 18 years old. He’s 27 today. At that time, that’s what I was facing, and my daughter was suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome from the violence that she had experienced. My medical expenses were quite high, looking at $10,000 a month, out of pocket and no insurance.
I did do the COBRA with the USAA, but that soon ran out and I didn’t have anything else. I knew that having to go to the doctor every single day, counseling sessions, etc., there was no way I could do a 40-hour-a-week job. I thought, “Let me try sales. I could do sales and make my own hours and do commission only. If I do commission only, nobody has to worry about me checking into a time clock and getting out. As long as I meet the quota, I’m good.” I applied everywhere. Nobody would give me a job. I finally got a job offer at a radio station. I was excited but they said, “We don’t have that type of arrangement. It’s salary plus commission.” I said, “I can’t do the salary part. Just give me a commission and give me a higher commission.” “No one’s asked for that, that’s weird. We can’t do that.” That was not a big corporation and that was not their policy. I couldn’t do that because I couldn’t come in at 8:00 AM and check in and check out at 5:00 because I had doctor’s appointments throughout the day.
I had an opportunity with a medical device company. I met this person through a doctor friend of mine and she said, “Someone came to my office today selling this equipment. They said they don’t want to sell in this area.” I was in McAllen, Texas at the time. I’m in Dayton, Ohio now. She said, “He doesn’t want to come down here. It’s too hot. He doesn’t like the area, he needs someone and I recommended you.” I met with him and I was showing him my marketing portfolio and everything I could do. He was like, “This is sales. You’re never going to make it in sales.” I said, “I have experience in sales. I have managed a $400 million budget for a Fortune 500 company.” He said, “That’s different, that’s not sales.” I finally convinced him to give me an interview with his boss, the president of the company. I spoke to him. He kept telling me every reason why I wouldn’t make it and I said, “Let me go to your training and if I don’t pass your test and I don’t make the training, then fine. Just give me a chance. I’ll pay my own way. You have nothing to lose. I’m paying everything.” He said, “Fine.”
I went to training and I was the only female. I’m the only minority. This is back when I was in my late twenties. A room full of 6’2” or taller guys in their suits, very intimidating. Here’s little me, I’m barely 5 feet with heels. I did well and I passed all the tests. I was excited because I passed all the tests. I did extremely well. I did better than anyone else. I said, “For sure, I’m in.” He walked up to me and he was like, “Little girl, you’re not going to make it in this industry. This is a male-dominated industry and with your little girl voice, the most you’re ever going to sell is candy. Go home.” I was like, “I can do this.” I told him, “Give me 30 days, straight commission. You have nothing to lose.” I finally convinced him to give me a contract, straight commission, 30 days. If I didn’t sell, he didn’t lose anything. He didn’t pay me anything.
I went back home, excited to prove him wrong. My grandfather, who helped raise me, was diagnosed with leukemia. That was a hard thing for me. He was in the hospital. I went to go see him and I was there by his bedside every day. He passed away the third week and I received a call from the president saying, “We’re canceling your contract. You haven’t sold anything.” I said, “I’ve got one week left.” I told him what happened about my grandfather, that we had just buried him but, “Give me one week.” He laughed and hung up on me. That week, I exceeded my quota.
For the next three to six months, $150,000 worth of sales that last week and I soon became the number one national sales representative. It was a distribution company that I was working for. They lost their contract with the products that I was selling. There I was again, but the manufacturing company contacted me and they said, “You’re so good at sales. We want to give you a contract and we fired the other company.” I was like, “The president was calling me saying, ‘If you go work for them, we’re going to sue you.’” I was like, “I can’t afford a lawsuit. I’m a single mom with four kids. I’ve got these medical expenses, I can’t do that.” I started looking for the company that sells for that and not competing, and then I found Balanceback, a manufacturer of medical diagnostic devices for dizziness.
It was the same thing, the struggle, but I already had a track record of what I could do. I finally got the position of independent sales and I did well. I was making $70,000 to $100,000 a month. I got a call from one of the owners, there were ten different owners. One of the owners called me and said, “I’m going to meet you in Austin.” I thought, “This is awesome. A big executive coming from home office to meet with me, something good’s going to happen.” He was like, “We’re proud of you. You’re doing well, but we’re tired of writing these checks to you. You’re making more money than the engineers and the doctors in the organization. We’re going to put you on salary, $150,000 a year.”
I had got this $10,000 a month medical bill. I’m paying for my own travel, my own marketing. It was not all profit either, and then they wanted to put me on $150,000 a year salary. I was like, “I don’t think so. There’s no way I could support my family on that as a single mom. With the type of expenses that I have, I can’t do it.” They said, “If you can’t do that, you can’t sell for us, then you’re fired.” I went from making nearly $1 million a year to zero. I lost it all again. Here I am, zero. At this time, I was practicing this positivity, “What am I grateful for?” I’m still thankful I have all of these relationships. I know all these neurologists. I know all these doctors. I started to sell for other companies but I thought, “Maybe I can build a product,” and I asked them, “What is it that you need?” I started to fill a need. I worked with some engineers. Developed a product, got it FDA-cleared.
It wasn’t easy, by all means. It was difficult. I had challenges with FDA saying, “It’s not approved. Change this, do this.” It’s expensive going through the process to bring a product to market. Within two years we turned it into a $14 million organization. Then I got a call from one of the owners who had fired me, and he said, “You’re doing well. We think you might be interested in investing in our company.” I could’ve told him, “Go stick it somewhere.” There’s always a possibility. We always look at it as being an impossibility, but there’s always a possibility in the impossible. I looked up possibilities and I said, “Let me look at your numbers. Let’s see what they look like. Would you let me look at your financials?” He said, “Sure.”
I flew up to Dayton, Ohio, looked at the financials, and I saw that when they were the most profitable I had made most of the sales. I said, “I don’t want to invest. I want to buy the company.” After six months of negotiations, I bought the company. In the industry, there’s always gossip and stuff. The distributors were telling me, “Marie, what they’re saying is that you’re going to be bankrupt within six months. You’re going to bankrupt yourself and the company. That’s what we hear out in the marketplace.” Don’t worry about it. There’s always going to be people saying negativity.We can't change the past, but you can design tomorrow. Click To Tweet
Eight years later, we’re an international company and our equipment is at most hospitals in Hong Kong. We’re in Canada. We’re in South America. It’s challenging. I’m not saying it’s all been easy. It hasn’t been. Throughout the eight years, we’ve had regulatory changes where they came out and said, “Internal medicine doctors can’t do this testing. It has to be a neurologist. You have to have this advanced training to be able to do this test because there’s been a lot of fraud in billing.” There were doctors that were billing because of the reimbursement and they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing.
What they decided was if we made it stricter, it will be harder for anybody to run this test. That eliminated my target audience, who I had cut it in tech. We went from 90% of these doctors to 20% that could do this. We started expanding internationally. It’s like, “Here’s an impossible situation, what can we do?” What I thought, “Let’s take it international. Since half of our audience has gone here, let’s go somewhere else and find it.” They always have to constantly be looking at the possibilities when you’re faced with those challenges. That’s how we grow. I’m sure you’ve heard this, Rodney, we go to school, we study, we take the test, and then we get elevated to the next level. We go from elementary to junior high, and you can’t get there without passing the test. In life, we get the test first, and then we get the lesson. What I’ve done is every time I’m facing an adversity, “What lesson is in here? What’s the possibility in this situation?”
That’s a lot of success. I’m blown away at this story. It’s phenomenal. If you had to contribute a couple of things to that success. You’ve gone from being in a place where you’re being abused to a single mom raising four kids to CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, buying a multimillion-dollar company. What are some key contributors to your success that you would like to share with the audience?
Personally, it’s my faith in God. That’s number one, it’s faith and hope. I’m not an engineer, I’m not a doctor. I don’t even have a college degree. What I’ve done is I worked with some of the smartest people in the industry that are able to bring all of this together. It is a simple thing. I have seen hugely successful people, very educated with double PhDs. I know a lawyer, a doctor and has a PhD and his whole life is in shambles and is facing twenty years of federal prison. When you look at it, it’s things of operating out of fear. Operating out of, “Someone’s out to get me.” Before he got his law license, because of the industry I’m in, I get to meet a lot of physicians from all walks of life. I remember him telling me, “I’m going to get my law license because everyone’s out to get me. They’re out to take me down.” I was like, “You’re a doctor. You’re so educated.”
What I’d do with a doctorate degree, that’s amazing. This negativity and what I have found is even someone at a very high multimillion-dollar level, I’ve seen them lose it all. Someone at a very low level, I’ve seen them gone up. I’ve seen people that don’t have a lot but they’re happy. They’re joyful. They have reached success and success isn’t always in material things. It’s something that’s inside of you. For me, that’s what it’s been. It’s my faith in God and looking at the positivity and the beauty in life. Every day I wake up and I look at what’s around me and take it all in. In Ohio, it’s green and beautiful. In Texas, it’s never green. We grew up thinking the grass is green or brown. I don’t think we knew what color the grass was. It’s green and beautiful and I take in the little things every day.
The beauty of life, being thankful, and it’s the little things that change your inner being and the way you think, you start to see things differently and appreciate who you are because every single one of us, every single one of you is beautiful. Every single one of you is unique and every single one of you has a purpose and it’s not the same purpose. I was speaking to someone and I asked her, “What’s your goal?” She said, “To make $1 million.” I said, “Your goal is to make $1 million, but why?” She said, “I just want $1 million. If I had $1 million, I’d be happy.” What I see with this person is they’d been chasing that $1 million and they’re miserable because they can’t find the $1 million. Find what fulfills you, what makes you happy, your passion, and the money will come. Don’t worry about the money because without the passion, the money won’t ever get near you. You’re going to be chasing $1 million or chasing perfection.
Find who you are or stop trying to copy someone else. Somebody else’s life purpose may not be your life purpose. Many people say, “I wish I was CEO of the company.” I’ve had distributors say, “I wish I was the CEO of the company.” My purpose may not be your purpose. Your purpose may be something totally different. It may be something even outside of this industry. A lot of times we compare ourselves to others, “If I had their success if I did what they did,” or they might be like you, Rodney, “I want a podcast. If I was like him, everything will be fine.” Be like you, who you are because God created you very special with a unique purpose in life.
Marie, I want to thank you for stopping by, sharing with us, being with us, sharing your story and being vulnerable. I can’t thank you enough for being vulnerable and open with us. If people wanted to contact you, if they wanted to seek you out for advice or support, for business advice, how can they find you?
I want to thank you for being here on the show with us. This has been enlightening for me. There are not many people that can do that for me. I want to say thank you for that. Thank you for sharing your story. For our audience, this has been amazing. This is a wealth of knowledge and information for us to apply to our lives. I’m grateful for my accident and the struggles that I’ve had in life because it has made me into the individual that I am now. It’s given me so much more strength, so much more self-awareness.There's always a possibility in the impossible. Click To Tweet
Self-awareness is one of those things that I’m most grateful for because I don’t know if I’ll be as self-aware without going through the experience that I’ve gone through in life. To say that you’re thankful for some type of abusive situation, I’ve never been in an abusive situation so it’s a far stretch for me. Overall, I believe that all the challenges that we go through in life, they come with the seed of possibility. It’s not so much focusing on the challenge but identifying what’s possible in the situation and taking action towards that, the positive possibilities. Marie, thank you for sharing your words of wisdom with us. Are there any last words that you would like to share with the audience?
Remember that your greatest ability is possibility.
It coins well with what we say at the end of every show, greatness is your birthright. Thank you for reading and until the next show. Peace and love.
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About Marie Cosgrove
Marie Cosgrove is an entrepreneur, investor, and international speaker. She serves as CEO of balanceback, the world’s leading manufacturer of diagnostic and treatment devices for dizziness, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries. She survived a difficult upbringing filled with violence and abuse, and singlehandedly raised four children and was at one time
homeless. Her journey took her from becoming a number one national sales rep to being fired, to becoming CEO of the same company and taking it international.
She serves on the President’s Advisory Council of the International John Maxwell Team where she shares her guidance and experience to help other entrepreneurs succeed with their own ventures.
Marie is a certified Behavioral Consultant and Certified Instructor Facilitator in the RoundTable Method – a successful method used while traveling Internationally with John Maxwell to transform nations. She has taught facilitators in various nations in both Government and Education spheres of influence, most recently, she spoke in Paraguay’s Ministerio de Educación y Cultura (Ministry of Education and Culture of Paraguay), The Professional Development Institute and GirlsTown in Kingston, Jamaica and in Panama City, Panama, at La Ciudad De Saber, “The City of Knowledge” impacting students, families, professors and administrators from surrounding Universities, Colleges and local schools, including Saint Michael’s, Oxford International, Howard Academy, Universidad de Panama and Universidad de Santa Maria. Marie also gives back to the community as the founder of The Virtue Project, a ministry-based organization dedicated to helping teen girls and single moms become financially self-sufficient, overcome depression, improve their self-confidence, and obtain entrepreneurship opportunities through education and value-based principles. Marie enjoys spending time with her 5 children, 3 grandchildren and a golden doodle. She enjoys all things outdoors (i.e. beaches, hiking, camping and sledding).
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