New York Times best-selling author, podcast host, and motivational speaker Rachel Hollis is on the road again and doing what comes naturally. Her “Happy in the Same Pants” tour stops at the Pantages Oct. 19. “The show was created to remind women how freaking strong they are,” she explains. “It’s also conveniently packaged in awkward stories about my life.”
How is life for you these days?
It’s really good. Fall is my favorite season. I have recently moved back to California from Texas. I am experiencing some beautiful fall weather, which sounds silly, but it’s honestly one of my favorite things, so I’m great.
It’s very fall in Minnesota, so you should like that. For those in-the-know to the podcast and its intro we know by heart, you are on a quest for the perfect fried chicken recipe. Have you found it?
Honestly, it’s funny because I think about re-recording that. I have people who come up to me in line or come to an event and bring the kids, and they’ll repeat it. If I change it, people are going to freak out. But yes, I do have a very good recipe for fried chicken.
And is there a secret to it?
Well, it took me a while to learn that you need to bring the chicken up to room temperature before you try and fry it because if the chicken is super cold and it goes into the hot oil, the batter on it will separate. That was my biggest problem, the crunch was off.
We have good fried chicken here in Minnesota, so if you have time I can tell you where to go. What do you know about Minnesota?
I’ve been there a lot, actually. When we were dating early in our relationship, my ex-husband lived in Edina, so I spent a lot of time there visiting. I did one of my early and really successful women’s conferences in Minnesota that sold out in, I think, 30 minutes. It was this huge moment in time for me. It was something where I had put down the deposit for the venue. I think it was like 3,400 seats, I remember, and I was freaking out. I didn’t know what I was doing, nobody’s gonna come to that, and we put it on sale. I will never forget standing in a group with my team at work, maybe like five of us, and all of us not knowing what to do because it usually took us a year to sell 800 tickets, and here we were. It was like in 15 minutes half of them were gone. So, I have a lot of love for Minnesota.
Do you still have those pinch-me moments?
Absolutely. I think it would be weird if I didn’t. I’ve talked about this a ton over the years, but the second that I’m not experiencing moments like that and peeing my pants and really feeling what a big deal that is, I feel like I don’t deserve it anymore because it took me so long. I think that at the time I couldn’t see what that is, but it was such a blessing that it took 20 years for anything to actually work. I see sometimes—especially with younger kids and the access that they will have with social media, TikTok or whatever—someone really can blow up that fast and just like that. You’re not ready for what’s going to happen when you hit a certain level, so going slow and it taking a while is so beautiful, because I don’t forget any moment of that. I will never forget. I remember going to my first book signings and one person came up to my table. One! It was a multi-author signing with thousands of book nerds, and I was so freaking pumped to be there with my little table, my pink tablecloth, and my books. One person came, and I was pumped because I was like holy crap someone wants to read my book. This is amazing. There are times in my life certainly I’ve been booked to speak somewhere. I’m traveling a ton. I’m exhausted. I miss my kids and stuff like that, but I’ll start to get grouchy and then I’m like nope, nope because there was a time period where you were so excited about one reader caring about your work. So I try and tap back into that feeling for sure.
It’s even better when you can hold someone else’s hand and lift them up while they’re on their journey.
I work with makers across the country to share their stories, and I am always amazed at those who can savor the journey and don’t expect overnight success. Just this week, I was in a candlemaker’s studio in a small town and was amazed at her growth and loyal fans. I don’t think people understand that just buying a candle, what that does for somebody’s spirit besides the economic impact on the community. What it does to that one person doing her best every day.
Absolutely. And I think that if you’re not in the habit of it, it’s just a shift in intention because you’re likely gonna buy something anyway. Take a minute to find a small business or a maker. Etsy’s so easy to use. There are so many ways you can access makers who you can support when they are on that journey up, do good, and ideally have less negative impact on the Earth.
What’s the most satisfying thing about what you’re doing now with the tour?
The beautiful thing about the tour is just being in a room with the audience again. With COVID-19, the focus was on the podcast, and I just zoned in on doing my very best to create great content. As much as I can see the numbers—and I know she’s listening and digging it—I can’t see her face. With the tour, I get to be with her in the room. For the entirety of my career that is how I have worked out what really resonates with people. I have a conversation, and I stand on a stage. We talk about stuff. It’s like, oh, OK that made her laugh, that made her cry. It’s been a gift for me, and I’d like to think it’s a gift for them because I can see them having a great time. But for me, it’s really done a lot of good things for my soul and my creative process.
With as many people as you inspire, you also get something from them. What are your takeaways? What have you learned in recent years from your audience?
With this tour, I just want everyone to have a good time. As much as the content is there to make her laugh, the underlying theme of all the stories is how strong we are. And that’s not just a female thing, that’s a human thing. We have all lived through so much in our unique, individual lives, and that’s been exacerbated by what we lived through over the last few years. There is this theme of you are so strong, you can do anything and you’re already doing hard things. Life is going to throw hard things at you that you don’t get to choose, you don’t have a say. That’s what happens to you, at least with my audience. She feels so overwhelmed by the hard things that life throws at her without choice that she doesn’t feel like she has the courage to face something else. She’s like I can’t sign up for a marathon, I can’t start my own business, I can’t pursue that because I’m already doing too much. My whole pitch is could you pursue something hard for yourself, because on the other side of it is a new beautiful, evolved version of yourself. I see that sort of perspective shift in her like, oh right, I’m gonna have hard stuff no matter what. Let me do something hard on my terms.
There’s that moment of permission granted from someone else that frees someone’s creative spirit. It frees their entrepreneurial spirit. It frees something in them.
You’re so wise to comment on permission because I have noticed that so much with my audience. There’s a moment in the show when I do Q&A with the audience. Essentially, I would say 95% of the time the person already knows the answer, and they know what they want. They literally just want to talk to someone else and have someone else validate. Yeah, you deserved it. Yeah, go for it!
You create a lot, but there’s always that moment where you put it out there and people consume it, and then you lose control of it. How have you learned to set boundaries in recent years?
I just had to get to a place in my life where I create, put it out and then it’s out and I don’t touch it. I don’t read press comments because I’ll take in that information as being about me, Rachel, and I don’t have the ability to separate that they’re talking about a person they don’t know, they made up who I am and now they’re talking about that person. It’s not me Rachel, a mama sitting in my messy kitchen having a conversation with you. I just had to learn to let it go, and I like to think that the numbers of my audience speak for themselves. The show continues to get bigger, and I just don’t think that that happens if the content sucks. I work really hard to produce high-level content. I’m very blessed in that I support my family doing something that I love, and I think that if I just focus on the work and not the public, it will never lead me astray.
There is an intimacy you have with your community, and you’re fearless in your writing and your podcasting. How does faith play a role in where you are today?
I would say that it’s much more about spirituality for me at this point than any particular religion. I’ve always had, since I was a little girl, a very strong relationship with God or what I believe God to be. I still have that same relationship today. I was really lucky in that I was taught from a very early age that you can talk to God, you can talk to your angels, and that you were protected. Those are pieces I still absolutely have as part of my daily life and have instilled in my children. But I don’t go to church, I am not in any particular religion, but I think if anything over the last, gosh, few years for sure just that has gotten deeper and bigger and it weaves its way into the content. It always will because it is my belief system. I do believe there’s something bigger out there. I do believe that we can call on that source to help us, to guide us, to give us wisdom. I believe that prayer works. You’ll hear me say stuff on stage, I write about it in the books, and we’ll talk about it on the podcast. I think that a huge part of my audience is in a similar stage of life with that awareness as I am. It’s a lot of people who were raised in a very strict religious upbringing and are now, you know, we’re getting older—40s, 50s, 60s, whatever—and we’re just realizing it’s so much bigger, it’s so much richer, there’s so much more to this. For me, I was never allowed to have questions, to wonder what does this mean? What is that? Why does that religion practice that?
As a creative who puts stuff into the universe, there are those moments of “I made that.” Whether you’re a potter at a wheel or pounding something out on the page, there’s that belief that there’s something sacred to the creative process and how you call upon it. It’s an offering. It’s an offering of your time and your talents, wherever they came from whether you want to say, God-given or not.
I think most creators I know, no matter what their medium, also have those moments. This happens so often to me as a writer where I literally don’t remember writing that. It’s sort of like a download, right? Or the artist who paints something they’ve never seen. When you’ve gotten so into flow state, so connected, so focused in, or whatever that is that you end up generating something that you’re like, “Well something helped me with this because I don’t even know where that came from.” I feel like life is a beautiful collaboration between us and something out there in the ether that helps us to do much bigger things than we could ever do as a single person by ourselves.
Do you think the world is getting better or worse?
[Long pause] Oh, wow what a question. The honest truth is that I really worry about the world, I really do. I try not to get wrapped up into that worry. I mean now aliens are real, and AI is freaking me out. I am really into the Earth and how we are treating the planet. I worry about it, I’m not going to lie, but I also come back to when I first got into this work and it started to have bigger reach. I really thought, man, this is something that could really help so many women. If I could just keep talking about taking ownership of your life, focusing on your health, your mental health, your well-being, all those things and help a lot of people. Now the reach is bigger, but I just think a lot smaller, like maybe there’s four people today who are going to listen to this podcast, and it’s going to help them today in Des Moines or Dublin.
What is your job title? Simply, writer?
I would call myself a writer first. That is how I identify. I think if I was being like cooler, I‘d say I am a communicator because the podcast, I don’t write those before I do them. I ground myself in that, and I also think it’s the easiest thing for other people to understand. If I’m at my kids’ school and another parent says, “What do you do?” I say, “Oh, I’m a writer.”
What do you do when you’re stuck?
I don’t feel stuck very often because I have a lot of tools to go to. Moving my body is a big one. Going on a long walk. I live in the prettiest neighborhood, and we have the best weather right now in L.A., so going on walks, going on long runs are big. If I can just listen to some music and move my body then I will work out the tension that I’m feeling, and on the other side of that I’ll start to get ideas.
What are you listening to right now that’s your anthem?
I listen to so much music [that] choosing one is hard. Let me open my Spotify and see what’s going on. It’s not even an anthem but I love what Miley [Cyrus]’s doing right now. “Used to be Young” is such a beautiful song, and I feel like no matter who you are, you could make those lyrics make sense to you. I was listening to that this morning after dropping my son off at school as I’m driving back.
What’s your go-to coffee order?
Right now, since we’re going into Fall I have been having oatmeal-milk cappuccino. Usually, I’m hardcore and just have an Americano with nothing in it. But you know [it’s] sweater weather and I want a little bit of something, so oatmeal capp is my favorite.