MVP 8 | International Traveler

It is one thing to have the experience of a lifetime and discover a new sense of self; it’s another to pay it forward and help others do the same. For our episode’s guest, years of being an international traveler through various programs awakened her entrepreneurial spirit and passion to help others. Steph Silver interviews Deb Johnson, who is now the owner of D Business Boutique, a digital marketing company focused on helping nonprofits. She shares with us her journey from overcoming immigration to building her own business. From facing financial challenges to pursuing higher education and working for reputable companies, Deb’s mission became empowering others through programs and personal guidance. She discusses the emotional impact of saying goodbye to parents, the importance of knowing what you don’t want in life, and overcoming fear and doubt. Deb also highlights her company’s focus on empowering clients through digital marketing services. Join them for an inspiring conversation about taking leaps, entrepreneurship, and making a positive impact.

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From International Traveler To Empowering Entrepreneur: Taking Leaps With Deb Johnson

In this episode, our guest is Deb Johnson. Deb is the Owner of D Business Boutique, a digital marketing company with a focus on nonprofit organizations. Deb is a heart-centered entrepreneur who truly wants to help others. We’re excited to talk to her and learn about her journey and where she’s going next. Thank you so much for joining us.

Steph, thank you very much for having me. I’m very honored and grateful to be part of this project of yours. I’ve been following for a while so I’m excited to be part of it as well.

Thank you. I’m excited to dig into your journey. It’s quite interesting and amazing. It is such a journey. Go ahead and jump into your initial travels to the United States.

I don’t think that I would be able to talk about D Business Boutique or any of the projects that I am associated with at this point without going back into how this whole journey started. It all started when I was seventeen years old. That’s when the seed was planted in me about becoming an international traveler at that point in time. At seventeen, you are not set in stone on what you want to do. I was all over the place. One day, I wanted to be a model. The other one, I wanted to be a scientist. Something that I did know I wanted to do was to travel.

When I was seventeen, I had the opportunity to go to Montreal, Canada to experience a summer abroad where I was supposed to learn French. The reason why I said supposed to is that I’d been enrolled in school. I did go to classes but I already knew some French. When they were doing the interview to do the assessment on which level to place me, they quickly found out that I understood French. Maybe not super fluent 100% but I understood because I was able to answer but I answer in English instead of in French. They were like, “You have two options. You go the level above or stay in very basics because you say you don’t speak any French.” I did that route. I did not take any chances. I wanted to play it safe and stay at the basic level.


MVP 8 | International Traveler


While I didn’t learn a lot about the language itself, I learned a lot about life and myself. Having that opportunity at such an early age allowed me to better understand what I wanted to do. On that trip, I realized that I like helping others. French was not my first or second language. I did have a way to get by, where I saw other students that were truly beginners and struggling. I was happy to help them out. We came from different backgrounds and cultures. That was not a problem. I was ready to jump in and help them. However, I was not at an advanced level whatsoever but probably I was a little bit way past what my need is.

At that point, it mesmerized me the way that culture works when you’re abroad, especially. The way that it brings people together to collaborate and help you survive in some instances. You’re both in foreign countries. You both don’t speak the language and don’t know the culture but somehow those challenges also bring you together. Fast forwarding to when I was 21, I had the opportunity to go abroad for one semester, supposedly. I’m still hoping for that semester to finish several years later.

The truth of it is that I didn’t even know I wanted to go. I was like, “No, I don’t even know where San Antonio is. It sounds awfully close to Mexico. Am I going to learn something or is it going to be as if I went to the North of Mexico?” I was born in Central Park in Mexico City. It was also the financial part that I was like, “I don’t know if my mom will be able to afford this trip because $5,000 for an American may not be a lot.” It’s a lot when you put it into another currency. It’s a lot when your child tells you on the last day to submit applications, “I want to go.”

That was putting a lot on my mom. Luckily, the last day I was like, “I’m going to submit my application and see what happens.” My mom was like, “Go for it.” If somehow you make it through, we’ll find a way financially to make it happen.” I’m so thankful for that because it did happen. I didn’t want to come. I had two friends that were very excited. I was the least excited. I landed and I was like, “I honestly don’t know where I am on a map. If you drop me off the van, I’d be lost.”

I took my classes and everything else. I would be a senior at that point in time. I enjoyed getting to know different cultures because it wasn’t just meeting more Mexicans that went with me from the same school but you were also exposed to this large group of international students from all over the world. You then later on get put into an American typical classroom where you start making American friends and then you start to freak out. You think you speak English and you got it.

The minute that somebody is asking you something about what the teacher said, you’re like, “I don’t even know what you’re saying.” I know much less about what the teacher was saying. You start to freak out in that sense. You think you know something until you’re exposed to that and then you realize you’re not as comfortable. It doesn’t mean you don’t know it, you’re not as comfortable.

MVP 8 | International Traveler

International Traveler: You think you know something until you’re really exposed to that and then you realize you’re not as comfortable.


In that semester, what I knew I wanted is to take that opportunity to make connections. Probably on day five of my exchange experience, I knew I didn’t want to go back home. My main focus becomes, “How do I make it happen? How do I build those relationships?” I understood that good grades were amazing and everything but that wasn’t going to eventually lead me to getting to know the people that I needed to know to have these opportunities that later on presented.

At the end of that semester, we all had to go back home because we only signed up for that one semester. I then found ways to come back. I came back for another semester of undergrad school. I still was trying to make those connections to see what my next step would be. I already had in mind that I wanted to do a Master’s degree. I wanted to be surrounded by people that have walked that path before so they could tell me, “These are the challenges. This is how I did it. This is what I went through. These are also the benefits.”

I started to attend a lot of different professional networking sessions. At that point, I was also 22, 23 or something along those lines, where you’re starting to have a bit more of a clue of what you want to do in life. It was also hard because you are in another country. You have to figure out even more things. It’s more than what’s your life purpose but you have to figure out, “How am I going to make it happen to stay here legally to have those visas? What’s my next step?”

You have to be looking at the entire puzzle. You don’t have the luxury to be like, “I’m going to go with the flow.” That is great but when you’re in that situation, you need to start looking at the whole puzzle. You need to start figuring out which piece goes where and which piece you move next for that puzzle to come to completion in a faster way.

Fast forward and I’m making this long story short, I went to my international admissions officer and asked what kind of scholarships were available for international students at the grad level. I already knew that there were not a lot of scholarships available or financial aid at the undergrad for international students. I was like, “Maybe in grad school something else happens because it’s less of us applying.” No, the answer was the same. I said, “I tried. I got a no so I’m going to go back home.” I’m going to try to figure out from there where to go. Maybe that’s San Antonio. It’s not the place I go home. Maybe I need to spread my wings and go even farther.

I did that. As I was traveling back, they did tell me, “FYI, the scholarship is going to be coming to this specific university for the academic year that you’re going to be applying. It’s only for Mexican citizenship students. You should apply.” I was like, “You already told me no. What do I have to lose for you to tell me no twice? That’s fine. I can take it.” I did. I applied. I got the scholarship and everything had to move quickly for me to be able to come back on time to start classes.

While I was in my Master’s, I had to work like everybody else. Through those opportunities, I never stopped trying to learn way outside of the academic world. What I was learning in school was incredibly valuable. I had a great experience. I had great teachers that didn’t just lecture me but challenged me to think on my own, form my opinions and do my research. To me, that was amazing.

I also wanted to learn how to do business because after 4 years in business school and then 2 more in grad school, you’re doing business plans every semester. There’s no way out of that. In real life, you notice you don’t have that experience. They don’t tell you like, “This is the link where you go and click for your filing. These are the prompts you follow. You have everything theoretically happens.”

Theoretically, you do a business plan and then you ask for a loan and you do all these types of things but when you’re going to do it, you have no clue where to start. I started to look for those people that had that entrepreneurial experience. I always wanted to shadow them and see how they were doing it, especially those that were international students. I’m like, “How do you do it? You were me years ago, however long it was.”

I learned, eventually graduated and started working for companies that everybody wanted to work for. At that point in time, I was lucky enough. I had an internship at Rackspace in San Antonio, which was a very sought out company, at least in that area. Later on, I went and worked for Apple. For some reason, life was putting me on this path of technology, “This is what you should be focusing on.” I enjoyed my time there but I noticed that I had, A) An entrepreneurship spirit and I was not going to develop the iPhone 20. That’s for sure. B) My drive for work was not just selling the most computers, cloud solutions or anything along those lines but rather helping change the lives of others.

These programs that I talked about changed my life. That became my mission. How can I change somebody’s life? Whether it is exposing them to programs like these or helping them at a much more personal level to find out from their mission what they want to do. How can I make this path easier for them? That’s when I had a comeback to Jesus’ situation, as I say. This opportunity was tailored for me for what I’ve been doing which was becoming a part of an organization that did cultural exchange programs that I’ve been doing since I was seventeen.

I was very comfortable navigating all those different nuances and situations, even from the participant’s point of view, understanding their nervousness about going abroad or even going to the embassy appointment to request their visa. Also, from the parent’s side. I’m not a parent yet. I had a parent that stayed home. I understood more about that than probably I did at Apple. Sorry, Apple. I probably was able to relate more to that. When I think about my mom, I’m like, “She did stay home.” All the sacrifices for me to be where I am.

We honor entrepreneurs, women business owners and women CEOs so much that we don’t realize how much we need to honor the stay-at-home mom. I had this conversation briefly with Mario Lanza. He is a coach. We briefly touched on the idea of feminism and the concept. We think of it as trying to become more in this male-centric world, women trying to do what men do but feminism is all things.

Being able to stay home and take care of your children and dedicate your world to bringing up a new generation that is even more powerful than creating a business. It’s leadership in a different way. It’s so self-sacrificing, hard and exhausting. I honor your mother as well. Thank you for sharing that emotion.

Going back to the story, I could relate to all the components of those programs because I have been in that life. My mother has gone through all that hardship too. I’m sure that she had her journey, like seeing your one and only child flying and suddenly leaving you there. I was her own and sole companion. She didn’t remarry or anything. All she had was me and my grandma but that’s a different relationship. I don’t think that nobody teaches parents how to be ready for when their kid says, “Later, Mom.”

Especially, early. You were still in high school.

It might have been one weekend, one semester or a lifetime. Whatever it is, I don’t think that nobody trains parents to be able to say goodbye to their children in an easy way. I’m sure that’s something that takes a lot of strength to do. I could also relate to those parents that were being left behind and had those worries that my same mother had when I decided to go abroad and that I would dare to say, she still has it. If I don’t text her every day, she thinks the worst thing that happened to me in the world. The truth is that I’ve been burying work and I barely had time to look at my cell phone. I’m still her baby girl that she thinks that if the sun hits me too hard, I’m going to die or something.

Nobody trains parents to be able to say goodbye to their children in an easy way. Click To Tweet

I started that job and very quickly they realized how passionate I was about these types of programs and how quickly I was also able to relate to the stories. For me, that was huge because that led me to have a leadership position towards the end of my time there. It also led to successful programs and people coming into the United States in these types of programs with much more ease of mind. I know all the questions that you have and all the rollercoaster of emotions that you’re going to go through. You don’t have to do it alone. I’m here for you.

You can share as much or as little as you want but know that what you’re feeling is not wrong. Somebody has already done that and I’m here to make your path easier. You’re still going to have to go through them. I cannot walk the path for you but I can make it easier. I can give you a heads-up where there’s a bump or a hiccup or where you need to turn right instead of left. I can be that guy for you so you don’t have to be lost welcoming here because it’s already terrifying leaving your country and comfort zone.

I enjoyed that position but then it came to a point where I still had that entrepreneurship spirit that I keep talking about and I needed to do more. Helping these people was amazing, changing their life and eventually their families. In this type of program that I was managing, they could bring their spouses and small children to attend school here in the United States as well while their parents are doing their programs. That was amazing but I needed more.

I needed to also do something tangible at a local level. I had moved to the town where I live. I realized that never in my life I thought I was going to be living in this town. I come from Mexico City and then I ended up in this little Wimberley town of 3,000 citizens or something like that. It’s what the sign says. When we’re driving here to see houses, they’re seeing longhorns and cows. I’m like, “Where am I?” There’s no way in this world that I’m going to live here. I had seen real-life cotton for the first time in my life. People were amazed by that. I was like, “Where am I? What kind of wildlife is this?”

There are all sorts of wildlife here too. When I first moved out here, I was like, “Is that a llama? What kind of deer is that? Is that a wild turkey running through my yard?”

“Is that a fox or a squirrel?” I’ve never seen a fox in real life. There are all these things that going back to when I moved to the US that I was experiencing and discovering everything for the first time. I realized that they had something that I never had back at home but I always wanted, maybe because of Hollywood. They have this community and life where they still support each other. For me, it is next door but for some people, it’s like, “My neighbor is 10 acres down the road.”

They still know each other and have that willingness to help. I quickly became involved with a lot of the nonprofits here in town. Unfortunately, during that time also we were living in COVID so we all know how that went. We all had our struggles. During that time when I was moving and becoming more involved with these nonprofits, I also decided to quit my job. I was like, “I need more. I need to be able to grow in this company so I can help more people.” Unfortunately, that’s not been the case.

At that point, I was like, “We’re not a good fit anymore so it’s time to part ways.” I started to look for a new job. With the pandemic, not everybody was hiring for the position that they wanted me to have, given my previous background. Everybody was saying, “We’re hiring at an entry-level position and part-time. We’re still figuring out how this is going to look for us.”

I was okay with it. I was like, “I want to have the chance to keep on helping other people.” They were like, “We feel bad for your experience and seniority. We feel bad starting you as an admin or an entry-level position.” I’m like, “I don’t feel bad. Evidently, I’m applying and being very well aware of what your organization is suffering.” That was complicated.

Fast forwarding, I became involved with a radio station here in Wimberley and that was an awesome experience. I worked there for a short period because then I needed a different opportunity in terms of the job situation. I still saw this amazing community that had a need and still has a need of helping all the nonprofits that they are. Rumor has it that there’s something over 60 or I don’t know how many I lost track of, here in Wimberly.

For me, the need is critical to be able to tell the stories of those nonprofits because they all are unique in their individual ways. I decided to start a business. I could not be Wimberley’s consultant forever and have clients here and there very informally because the need was very much real. It is still very much real. I truly enjoy working for the for-profit clients that I still have. I still need to have those for-profit clients so I can lean into the philanthropic side of things.

To me, it’s so important to work with the nonprofits here in town. I’ve been working with the Chamber of Commerce for a little bit over a year with the animal rescue here. I adore them. It’s probably the best and the worst idea because I’ve already adopted a dog. I’m heavily involved in their adoption events where people are like, “Don’t go. You already have three dogs. You don’t need anymore.”

It’s the way that every organization here in town truly and genuinely cares about the causes that they support. It makes you want to be part of it and help them communicate their message. That’s how D Business Boutique started. It was based on me having need of wanting to be an entrepreneur and also the need that I physically feel to help others achieve whatever the next milestone they’re trying to achieve. When the need of the nonprofits here in town was met, I was like, “This is a match made in heaven. I’m all up for it.”

That’s where I am. That’s a very long ten-year journey. We’re still maybe twenty minutes to lead me to where I am. Part of why I like to say these things or share my story is not to receive an award like, “You’re the Citizen of the Year,” but rather to encourage people to pursue their dreams. Whether opening a small business here in Wimberley going to Wyoming or maybe your dream is to sell coconuts in the Gulf Coast in Australia, go for it. It’s not going to be easy but it’s not going to be easy if you started here in your hometown, either. It may be more comfortable but it doesn’t mean that it’s easier.

Once a week, I want to go back to Mexico, drop it all, enjoy coconut water by the sea and leave all my work behind. Going back to that big puzzle, you look at it from that perspective and realize that there are still more pieces that you got to put together. This time around, you don’t do it alone as you did in the beginning. You made friends, business connections and an impact on others’ lives. Those other people can help you put that puzzle together to give a purpose to your life while you are helping them to also tell their mission.

MVP 8 | International Traveler

International Traveler: Those other people can help you put that puzzle together to give a purpose to your life while also helping them to tell their mission.


Thank you so much for telling that story. There’s so much in there. One of the things that come up for me is the true understanding that life is what you make of it, what you’re willing to do, the chances you’re willing to take and the fear that you’re willing to overcome. It’s one choice, one step at a time. When you and I first started talking, you mentioned in an email that you thought maybe you were an entrepreneur when you were a kid because you started selling candy as a kid or something like that. A lot of entrepreneurs will say, “I was looking for profit early on.”

To me, the biggest mark of an entrepreneur is not necessarily how to figure out how to make money at a young age but they understand the hustle of life. It’s not just about hustling. It’s about finding a way to figure something out, to get to the next step of what you want, instead of letting life flow for you. That to me is an entrepreneur. That’s the difference between a single business owner or an employee versus an entrepreneur. That’s where you can have entrepreneurs inside of a business as well as the actual leader-founder of a business.

I see everything that you told me tells me that you were truly an entrepreneur from the beginning in your willingness to seek out and make your life. All of those things were scary or I assume there was this fear in there. What did you do naturally? You were young when you first started making those big leaps. Did you have a process? You had support from your mother. That’s a huge piece but do you know what got you through those times of fear and doubt as you were traveling across different countries and into different experiences?

I value that question a lot because nobody gave me a roadmap on, “This is how things are done.” My mom never lived the life that I’m living. For me, my North Star was to always put what I wanted out of my life. Not never but I did not always know exactly what I wanted to do. I always knew what I didn’t want to do. Putting that in front of me as my North Star led me to make good choices.

Along the way, I’ve had bad choices where you go back in time and you’re like, “Why did I put myself through that?” Having a clear understanding, especially at a young age of the things that you do not want, helped me to guide my next step. I did not want to be hooked up to addiction so that helped me surround myself with people that were not in that environment. I wanted to party like any other teenager did but I also knew that I didn’t want all these bad situations that you not only hear but also see firsthand with your friends happening to me. I started to make better choices.

I make mistakes along the way. You are young. You’re experiencing. Knowing what I didn’t want was probably my first guide in life. Later on, as I started to become older and more mature, I was realizing what my passion in life is, which is helping others. That has been my North Star. It helped me find the right resources so I can help others. I need to have an income. It’s not all philanthropy. I don’t have a foundation so I still have to put the work elsewhere so I can do all these amazing things that I am able to do for these other organizations.

From a young age, knowing what you don’t want is a great way to start. That is also something that I take to heart even in my 30s as I live into my next venture that eventually I want to create another organization, a nonprofit dedicated exclusively to international exchange programs. Knowing what I know now doesn’t mean I know it all. I still want to be humble enough to keep on learning.

I understand that there’s somebody else. I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m not recreating anything that hasn’t been done. Being humble enough to take the advice and follow the steps of somebody else whom I admire and that has done this before me is also something that has helped me being a successful entrepreneur, being humble enough that I don’t know everything.

The good point there is a lot of people don’t know what they want or where they want to go. Narrow things down to know what you don’t want and what makes you happy or what you’re passionate about. It could be as simple as, “I want to help others,” and then pull the thread. “Let’s test this. How does helping others in this way make me feel? Can I be financially successful at that? How it is helping others in this way, testing the waters and doing that both for-profit and not?” You do a lot of volunteer work as well as running your organization for your profit and life, balancing that, looking around and being clear about the experiments of what works and what doesn’t work.

There’s so much of what I’m hearing you say that’s beneficial to you, especially young people going through and trying to figure out their life journey. Knowing what you don’t want was my story as well. I had no idea and probably still don’t know where I want to go but I knew very clearly what I didn’t want. I could work hard to get away from the life that I was coming from or that I had seen in other places. Sometimes that’s all you need to keep moving forward and give you that power and strength. Thank you for sharing that.

You started a business and asked a lot of questions, which is also good advice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and let people know that you don’t know the answers. What was the experience of becoming a US citizen like? You went through all the foreign exchange situations but that doesn’t mean that you become a citizen. You still have to go through a lot of hoops to get there.

I was on almost every exchange student visa possible. I probably know one more person that has a similar experience. The first step to becoming a youth citizen was to become a permanent resident, a green card holder. People can apply in different ways. My journey doesn’t mean that it has to be somebody else’s journey. I am not going to offer any immigration advice because I’m not an attorney. Once I was able to navigate all these systems and I became a permanent resident, I could have stayed that way forever, honestly.

Every ten years or so, you have to renew and submit your paperwork and stuff like that to have your green card renewed. To me, that was like, “I have ten years to chill and relax and not have to worry about my next visa or immigration status.” I realized that I had left something and someone very important back at home, which was my mom. I was like, “I can’t bring her over in a resident green card situation. I needed to become a US citizen so I can sponsor and petition her.”

Thanks to her. She pushed me into taking that citizenship path. It was a whole journey. Let’s begin with the fact that you have to study for this test that they will do on the day of the interview. You have to submit all of your life to different organizations as part of your application. It leads to the appointment day. You can go with your attorney if you had one but you don’t go with your spouse, boyfriend, best friend or anything holding your hand. You walk in there by yourself. You’re sitting in front of the immigration officer, which that to me already was terrifying. I was dying mentally.

These guys were super casual. My officer was chatting with another guy. That helped me feel more at ease. I still had to face the test that I’d been studying for a year since I submitted my application. I knew all the questions. I memorized them. I was at a point where I didn’t even hear the question anymore. I didn’t comprehend what they were asking me. I automatically spelled out the response. That was stressful.

It was stressful because you have to learn all these things. I was practicing with some American people and they’re like, “I don’t even know that answer. Why do you need to know that?” “Who was the President during the Second World War,” things of that nature that some people are like, “I don’t even know that. Why do you need to know those types of things,” but you do.

Once you’re there and you’re able to get as that, you lose 10 pounds of worrying about that. You come to your ceremony. Like a lot of things here in the US, I was going to be there on my own and do whatever it is that they needed me to do. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I did have my in-laws and some other people who were making a big deal out like, “You’re a US citizen.”

To me, I saw one more thing to put a checkmark on this journey. Once I was there, I was like, “Yes, it is a big deal.” It’s not just like, “One more graduation ceremony. I’ve already had three of those. What’s one more?” It was incredibly hard from an emotional point of view but it was very much rewarding when I saw the things that I could do as a US citizen versus where I wanted to stay in my comfort zone as a permanent resident. It wasn’t easy. It was nerve-racking but at the end of the day, it’s been very fulfilling because I’m able to take action in other things that I wasn’t aware of.

Congratulations. You’ve accomplished a lot and it’s exciting. You have your business. Tell us a little bit about what that is. What do you do here in Wimberley?

What I theoretically do is focus on a lot of the nonprofits. Part of my work, a lot of the time is very intermingled with them. Theoretically, what D Business Boutique does is offer marketing services, specifically digital marketing services to companies. I try to keep it local. That’s not to say that if there’s anybody in Miami that wants me to visit them, I would not be opposed to that but I try to keep it local. What I do, a lot of it is offer social media management services and that comes in a very range of ways. I can do the management for them or also train them. I don’t like to be like, “I’m the gatekeeper of things. What I do is amazing.”

I do think it’s amazing but I believe in the power of empowering my clients. If somebody comes and tells me, “I want to get into the social media situation or strategy for my business. I want to do it myself but I don’t know where to start,” I’m not going to turn them away because that’s part of my mission. Whether you’re a for-profit or a nonprofit client of mine, I always want to be able to empower you.

I don’t want you to keep signing a contract with me from an ignorant point of view. Rather because you like the way I work. I want to empower you to be able to do it yourself. I’ll show you the tools I use. I’ll even make tools accessible to you. You can take that step. You can go on with that if that’s what you want but a lot of the businesses don’t have the bandwidth, especially small businesses.

A lot of them it comes to whether I explore how to make my business the best business in town for whatever product or service I offer or I spend my time looking at the algorithm on social media. There’s that fine balance where I’m like, “I’m happy to help you but I don’t want to be a person that you come to from a place of ignorance.” It’s okay not to know and I’m happy to train you if that’s all you want. I’m not going to make you sign a twelve-month contract with me when all you wanted to do is how to set up your Instagram or Facebook and how to monitor your social media channels. I do that for my clients as well.

I’m very happy for those people that tell me, “I just want to learn.” To me, the biggest thing that you can do for somebody is to empower them. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose business. It means that your business has evolved in a different way. I want them to keep choosing me to keep training them or to be like, “This has been an amazing learning experience and now I understand it but I still don’t have the time or the bandwidth. Here you go.” You can do it for me but at least I come from a place where I understand what you’re doing and you have shown me what to do.

The biggest thing that you can do for somebody is to empower them. Click To Tweet

In a nutshell, that’s what D Business Boutique is about. That’s why I try to keep it local as well because I like to meet with my clients and sit down. If they have an event where they’re promoting their product and service, I try to attend and be there. Not just from a social media management perspective where I’m going to take pictures of you, which I can do but I also want to be that supportive silent partner for you at your event and maybe see things where you have some opportunity that maybe because you were so stressed out or emotional about your event, you missed on. I want to be that silent partner and tell you, “This went great. You should follow up with X, Y and Z. Maybe this could be something that you can explore as well.”

I love that, always trying to help in every way that you can. If you were going to give advice to someone who was about to take a big leap, maybe start a business, move or educate themselves into some different thing in their lives because they feel like they’re passionate about it, what advice would you give?

It’s the same advice that I give myself every day. Start where you are and what you have. You don’t have to have everything set up. If you’re moving somewhere else, you don’t have to have the whole house furnished for you to be able to make the move. If you’re going to start a business, you do not need to have all your marketing assets for the remainder of the year and seventeen PR strategies or press releases on the wire. No. You just have to start with where you are. Where you are now is in front of your computer trying to decide whether you do it or not.

Let me tell you that I’ve been there and I’ve spent much more time deciding whether I should do it or not than the amount of time that it took me to get it done. When I file for my business, I probably spend a year thinking about whether I should do it or not. The filing took me probably fifteen minutes. Now that I filed, it becomes more real and it forces you to keep on doing what you said that you were going to do or that you wanted to do.

You don’t have to have $1 million in the bank to go and move abroad. Sure, it will be nice and you’ll be more comfortable but that doesn’t mean that if you have $2,000 in the bank, you cannot do that move. You can, but understand that you have to also be willing to put in the work. Start where you are and what you have. It’s just something that I tell myself every day and I said that to my clients as well. They’re like, “I don’t know if this is a good idea or not.” “The worst idea that you have is not doing it.” That’s my advice.

Start where you are. Start with what you have. Click To Tweet

Doing nothing at all is the worst idea. Thank you. I love all that. Fully realizing that once you make the decision, whether you move, start a business or get an education, whatever it may be, doesn’t mean that that’s your next forever. There’s always another opportunity beyond that. If it doesn’t work out, there are other options and opportunities beyond that.

One of the things that human beings are super afraid of is failure. The only way that you’re going to fail is if you try. If you don’t try, you cannot even have those bragging rights of like, “I failed at X, Y and Z,” because you never even tried. For you to either be successful or a failure, it takes the same amount of work, which is to try. I 100% agree.

With that trying, you have to have the mindset that you don’t have to have everything figured out but you have to be willing to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Put up with whatever it is your mission would work or if you’re doing a move to another country. Do your research and embrace that. Don’t just say how much you would love to live in London or wherever it is. Live that.

You have to be willing to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Click To Tweet

Start by going to buy tea at your local grocery and putting in some cream. Start living that life. Start believing that you can do it. It will happen but you have to make it work. It’s not just sitting around and then being like, “Magically, I’m going to appear in London.” No, you have to probably apply for your passport first, if you don’t have it. You have to work. There’s no other way around.

See yourself there. Do the work. Even the one little bitty step at a time. Going and getting some fancy tea and having tea time in the afternoon, that’s your first step.

We don’t all start with families that have this enormous sum of money to give us and dedicate to whatever life mission it is. The reality is that probably most of us don’t start that way but it doesn’t mean that it cannot be your life. If that’s the lifestyle that you want, not only do you have to manifest, and I’m still exploring that manifest concept, but I believe that you have to put in the work to make it happen for yourself.

If you don’t do it and you’re not your biggest advocate, you cannot put that on somebody else. Whether that is your spouse, parents, friends, boyfriend or girlfriend, you cannot put that on them. They might be able to make it happen for you but it shouldn’t be the case. It should be more that you are doing it because that’s what you truly want. That’s who you are and your life mission.

One of the messages that I want to get across is manifestation truly works but it’s not just the visualization and clear seeing of what you want or what you think you want. It starts there and then it is the willingness to take the next step. The thing about manifestation that seems magical, maybe it is spirits, guides, God and all the things helping you to get there but at the same time, it is your willingness to overcome whatever level of fear. Sometimes it is the teeniest bit of fear, like pushing the submit button for the application or whatever it is, overcoming that one little thing and then maybe it is packing up your whole life and moving to another country, whatever it is for you.

There are small and large steps that need to be taken. Sometimes manifestation happens. You get there and go, “It happened. It showed up for me.” Also, what little steps did you take? What mindsets did you put in place? What positive things did you tell yourself or others? How did you help others along the way for that manifestation to come into being? There’s this dichotomy of like, “No, you got to work hard and hustle. You have to manifest.” It is a combination of both, an overlapping of the spiritual, the energetic and the physical worlds.

To wrap it up, I do have that experience. I still have to work more on manifesting things because sometimes I’m a bit skeptical. I’d rather be like, “I have to work hard to make it happen.” Honestly, when I look back at my life, there are things that I’m like, “That was an incredible coincidence.” I’m becoming more aware of the manifestation part of things as I get older.

One thing that I have very tangible that was me manifesting but also combining the work is when I ended up at Apple. It was not a coincidence for whatever reason. Since I was sixteen or whenever it is that I had my first iPod, I always said, “I want to work for Apple.” I went through my life saying I want to work for Apple when I was a teenager. I forgot about Apple and I’ve been thinking about Apple until it was time to look for a real job. I was like, “Apple is big here in Austin where I lived at that point in time so I’m going to apply and see what happens.”

It was that power and energy that I already had building up for years that I always said, “I want to work at Apple.” I then finally made it happen. I did have to put in the work. I still had to submit an application. It’s not like somebody from Apple magically had my phone number and called me. No. I had to submit my application and go through the interview process. I then ended up there. What you said is so powerful, the power of manifestation. You set your mind on something and you never realize how much power those words have in you and maybe unconsciously onto your actions as well.

MVP 8 | International Traveler

International Traveler: The power of manifestation: you set your mind on something and you never realize how much power those words have in you and, maybe unconsciously, onto your actions as well.


The opposite can be true as well. If you think about your fears all the time, you can manifest those as well so be careful how far you let yourself go down that path. We are out of time. I say that at the end because I love these conversations. It makes me sad when I’m like, “I have to let you go.” We are talking about having an MVP Business Happy Hour here in Wimberley because there are so many amazing people. We’ll need to get that together. Deb, I’ve enjoyed hearing your story and getting to know you. What’s your website for those who want to look further into what you’ve been doing and what you can do for them?

I love being here too. It felt like we’d known each other forever. When we were talking before, I’m like, “I can go down this rabbit hole for a long time.” My website is I also want to give my email. If you are into manifesting and have resources that can help me, that’s better. You can send them my way. That’s

I am looking forward to that Happy Hour because a lot of the guests that you’ve had in your show are so diverse and from all walks of life. I’m very intrigued by those conversations that we’ll develop and how everybody got to be an entrepreneur when you have all these different personalities that you’ve interviewed. To me, that’s amazing. Congratulations on your amazing work. I want to at least take a backseat in that Happy Hour. I’d be humble enough and learn from these other entrepreneurs.

The thing that I’ve loved the most is they’re all very super cool, humble people who happen to also work hard and be successful. You’re part of that crowd. Thank you. We’ll let you know when that Happy Hour comes together. Thank you for being a guest and for sharing your story. I want to also take a minute to thank our supporters, Eminence M&A Strategies and Tower Commercial Real Estate. Thank you for reading. If you liked it, tell your friends and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn. The mission of the show is to dig deep into the lives of true leaders so that others can follow, knowing that the path isn’t always easy but the journey is worth it. Enjoy the day and live with passion.


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Meet Deb Johnson

MVP 8 | International Traveler

My name is Deb and I am a proud Alumna of the University of the Incarnate Word… Go Cardinals! I hold two bachelor’s degrees: one in Marketing, one in International Business, and an MBA. As you can see, business is my passion! 

From strategic planning to innovative solutions, my focus is always on building efficient and results-driven relationships, primarily targeting small businesses and non-profit organizations.