April 20, 2023

Tiffany Largie | How to Turn Your Struggles into Strengths

Tiffany Largie | How to Turn Your Struggles into Strengths

From selling candy out of her backpack in fifth grade to building a worldwide brand and movement, Tiffany shares how she persevered through abuse and poverty by harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit to create a life of purpose and success.

Discover how Tiffany Largie, a successful entrepreneur and sought-after business speaker, turned her struggles into strengths. From selling candy out of her backpack in fifth grade to building a worldwide brand and movement, Tiffany shares how she persevered through abuse and poverty by harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit to create a life of purpose and success. Through her inspiring story, you'll learn how to overcome obstacles, find your own inner strength, and turn your own struggles into triumphs.


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Srini: Tiffany, welcome to Unmistakable Creative. Thanks so much for joining us.

Large: Hey, thank you. Thank you.

Srini: Yeah, it's my pleasure to have you here. So I found out about you by way of your publicist, who wrote in and told me about your story, and I was intrigued. The trajectory of your career. But before we get into all of that, I wanted to start by asking you what was the very first job that you ever had, and how did that end up impacting the choices that you've made for the rest of your life and career? Tiffany?

Largie: I had two jobs at once. So in Junior High, no, in high school. I had this bright idea when I was, I think, 16, but I was definitely going into junior year, and I was two weeks into school. And long story short, I had this experience with a substitute teacher. I know this is gonna be so random. Stay with me here because this is exactly how I got this job. So there's a substitute teacher, and she says to me, I don't know what provokes her, but she says to me something like, Tiffany, you know what, you're like a cockroach, and I just wanna step on you. And I get so mad when she says this to me. It's 10 in the morning, and I pick my things up, walk to the front office and withdraw myself from school. It was like my last drop. And all up until that moment, I had said a gazillion times like, oh, high school is such a waste of time. And not only did I feel like high school was such a waste of time, but I was like, the high school's a waste of time.

I'm not gonna waste your time. I

Srini: That automatically raises numerous questions. There are a lot of people who, at that moment when the substitute teacher tells them something like that, might just hang their heads in shame and not do anything about it. So what is it about you that you think caused you to respond the way that you did?

Largie: One of the greatest fuels, one of the greatest assets, and resources that anyone can acquire is anger. It's almost like throwing coal into the furnace that revs it up. Like that scene in a movie where they open the thing, they throw in more coal, and then the furnace goes, and then the engine goes really fast through the water, whatever it might be.

Anger is like that, and if you can use it to hold onto it and leverage it, then it'll force you to push yourself to the next level. Me, I was just angry, and my response was, "I'm gonna prove you wrong." The idea and the notion of proving the person wrong or proving the situation wrong, or proving the experience wrong for me have always been the magic of what's allowed me to move faster or to do something that's just the right answer.

So that's it. I wanted to prove her wrong.

Srini: It's funny because I think that desire to prove somebody wrong can be a double-edged sword, right? And sometimes, it can almost be the sole thing that drives you. And I feel like sometimes that can get in the way. So how do you eventually get the thing that you want by using that fuel but also not letting it define what you end up doing and being? I've seen people whose entire careers are defined by trying to prove somebody wrong.

Largie: Yes, for sure. A and I think that sometimes, there's a big difference between taking a leap and attempting to do something and then making it a lifelong mission to prove someone wrong, right? So there are some people who take on careers in their 20s, 25s, and 30s inside of a space that makes 'em unhappy, and that's a no. You can't do that. You absolutely that's a losing strategy or going on a business mental strategy. Me, I think that the perspective I've always owned is that I'm competing with myself. So instead of competing, trying to make a way to compete against other people or the person or item or situation that has fueled me, I really and truly am focused on competing with myself, and because I'm competing with myself that it's, it's a short-term test that allows me to have clarity on what are you made of. Deciphering whether I'm doing something to prove something someone else wrong because I'm competing with them versus competing with myself. That's the barometer.

Srini: So I heard from Audrey about Paige that you also, you actually sold candy out of a backpack daily in the fifth grade. Tell me about that.

Largie: Yeah. So you know what, I really should have said that was my first job. So I'm in the fifth grade, and I don't know how I get my hands on a couple of pieces of candy, and there's this girl, I won't say her name, but she buys, she's like, "Hey, I'll give you a quarter, two quarters for the candy." And I was like, "You're gonna give me money for this candy in my, my in my bag?"

And then someone else says, "Oh, can I have that last one?" And I think it was an Airhead. And in my mind, I was like, "Wait for a second. I made a dollar fifty." So I run home. I mastermind in my head that I'm going to sell more. So I got my dad to take me to what's called Win Dixie. Back then, they have these blow pops, and I can't remember the brand, but this is a special kind of flavor of blow pops, and it costs me like two twenty-five for the bag.

And if I sell the whole thing, I'm gonna make seven dollars. The next day I go sell this thing out.

Srini: Tiffany, I lost you.

Largie: Every ten days. I'm crushing it every ten days.

Do you hear me?

I hear you successfully.

I hear you. No problem.

I hear you. No problem. I hear you.

Hello? Hey,


Hey Srini, no worries! I'll just pick up where you left off. So you were saying you were going to BJ's to buy candy?

Tiffany: Okay, perfect. So I get this bright idea that I'm gonna head into BJ's, which is the equivalent of Costco in the Southeast. And I'm like, man, I walk in, and I learn that you can buy 72 Airheads for $5 and 99 cents. The game is completely over because I'm like, oh my gosh, in my mind, I'm gonna be a trillionaire. Just give me a couple of weeks, and I'm gonna be a trillionaire. So I buy a massive bag of Blow Pops. I buy a massive bag of Airheads, and I go to town. I keep selling candy. Now I'm selling candy. I'm making like a hundred dollars, two, $300 a month. And I'm loaning people money back at home like I'm my own mini bank because I have so much money. I'm so excited.

But one day, I got that infamous dark moment, and I got called to the principal's office. I was so pissed. Like I was so angry. I'll never forget that feeling of, "Tiffany Largy, can you please go to the principal's office?" And I was like, what? And it

Srini: It's funny because I have the exact same story, and for us, it was when Sam's Club opened, and unlike you, I lasted a month, and I got busted by the choir teacher. I had gotten to the point where I had expanded to three friends selling for me, and then some other kid took the whole thing over, brought a briefcase to school, and made that last a whole year.

Large: What?

Srini: It, but I went home, and my parents didn't know. I remember the first day I just brought home a bag full of cash. We just happened to be at Costco.

Large: Yeah. Yeah.

Srini: Club, and I saw Cry Baby Cry, which was, as

Large: Yeah.

Srini: Airheads at the time. And I told my dad, I was like, "Just buy these for me. They were seven bucks. I'll come back with money tomorrow." And I was taking orders by lunchtime. I was like, "We gotta go back. I got orders for the next day." And my parents didn't know that it wasn't, it

Largie: Yeah.

Srini: Rules. Then they, when they found out that it was against the rules, they were like, you're not allowed to do this.

I was like, "Great!" And so I had, that's why I wanted to ask you about the story. I'm glad that your mom's lesson was, "Don't get...” Tiffany.

Largie: She wasn't encouraging me to do it, but in her mind, she thought, "No harm, no foul." I don't think she said much after that. When I got home, my dad was sad that I got caught, but he never said anything.

Srini: Yeah. Tiffany.

Largie: The crux of the matter is that I really think it molded and shaped so much of my thinking. Not necessarily about selling and getting caught, but it was me taking care of myself. I started selling candy because there were things that I wanted we couldn't afford, and I didn't really want a lot, but I wanted to be able to buy. Just little things, very little insignificant things, and being able to say if we, if someone else can't do it, then I can try and do it for myself. And I think that's one of the most important pieces because if not, I wouldn't have known that I was capable of supplying my own needs.

Srini: Yeah. Speaking of parents, tell me about yours. What was the narrative in your household about making your way in the world? Cause I know that your parents.

Large: Yeah, my parents are immigrants, and the majority of who I am today and what I am today is a hundred percent true to who they were. They were crazy, hardworking people, and they loved me. I can't really say much about my sisters and brothers or anything else about my house or life, but my parents fought for me the whole time.

My dad drove a cab my entire life; he drove it first up in Connecticut and then in Florida. He was such a hard worker, working seven days a week. I can still remember him coming home Christmas morning because he worked the night shift, and people would rag him for working Christmas morning and things like that.

But he was like, "There are bills to pay, and I'm gonna pay them. My way of leaving this house and going out and hustling is how I'm gonna pay these bills." My mom was in sales; she always worked for some type of large company, whether it was in timeshares or travel hospitality, that was her space. I got to listen to her early on, talking to person after person, being in sales. And even though I don't think she had an idea of getting to $200,000

Srini: Yeah. I remember I had a CEO at a startup who didn't offer me a job, and it was when I was working in sales at another company he told me, he said, that'll be the best thing that you can do for your career. He said, you'll never regret the time you spent working in sales, even though I hated it with a passion. And with your dad being a cab driver and working so hard, what did you learn about navigating human relationships from him? because I'm sure he probably came across a lot of different people.

Largie: Oh my gosh. My dad came across so many people. He came across so many people, and being in Miami, Florida, I'm the only one of all of my family born in Miami, Florida. Half of my brothers and sisters were born outside of the US, and two of 'em were born in the US, but I'm the only one from Miami. I grew up, was born, raised, and left there after 20.

So my dad spent a good part of his years there. And if you can imagine, South Beach, Miami Beach, he's picked up all types of people. And one of the things that he really predicated on or doubled down on, especially as I got older, was the importance of just being kind to so many. There are so many celebrities that he's put in his cab, and they were either uncontrollably rude to him, they belittled him.

They spoke to him in ways that were not necessarily derogatory. I can't really say those words, but they definitely were unkind, and I remember. I remember sometimes he would come and tell me some of the stories of who was in his cab the day before, et cetera

Oh my gosh. My dad came across so many people. He came across so many people, and being in Miami, Florida, I'm the only one of all of my family born in Miami, Florida. Half of my brothers and sisters were born outside of the US, and two of them were born in the US, but I'm the only one from Miami. I grew up, was born, raised, and left there after 20.

So my dad spent a good part of his years there. And if you can imagine, South Beach, Miami Beach, he's picked up all types of people. And one of the things that he really predicated on or doubled down on, especially as I got older, was the importance of just being kind to so many. There are so many celebrities that he's put in his that were in the back of his cab, and they were either uncontrollably rude to him, they belittled him.

They spoke to him in ways that were not necessarily derogatory. I can't really say those words, but they definitely were unkind, and I remember. I remember sometimes he would come and tell me some of the stories of who was in his cab the day before, et cetera

Largie: I pause in that because my parents actually really didn't teach me a lot about race. Race in Jamaica is not really as relevant of a conversation as it is here. To be quite honest with you, growing up in Miami, I don't even think I; it's not that I didn't pay attention to race, but they, we did not have, they did not have conversations with us behind closed doors. Like I know, like my husband, his parents did, or people that I know who had that kind of conversation. And the reason why is that we're more focused on social economics versus race as a barometer. Now, I'll tell you, though, in some regards, that's tough because they did not sit down and have those kinds of conversations with me.

What they did teach me to be and be clear on is that I'm always invited to the playing field. I'm always going to have a seat at the table at all the tables. The world is a hundred percent there for me, for the taking. And I think because they didn't give me the limitation, I grew up not understanding that there was a roof over my head.

And so, even though in my twenties and

Srini: Yeah. What did your parents teach you about race, particularly being somebody of color in America? Tiffany: They taught me to always be proud of my identity and to never be afraid to stand up for myself.

Srini: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate you sharing that because I think that, as an Indian American, it was the same thing around our household. We never really were aware of it. And I think we are really lucky because Indians are stereotyped as model minorities. We're all basically just future doctors and engineers or now CEOs of something like 50 companies. But one thing that I wanted to ask you about is how you went from jumping out of a car and selling knockoff perfume to doing the work that you do today. What was the trajectory of that?

Largie: Eventually, I went back to school, and I went back in my senior year because I realized that I thought I had enrolled myself in some type of homeschool program, but I really didn't, so I wasn't going to get a degree. So I went back to high school in the 12th grade. All I knew was that this was not for me, and I was very much so drowning in people and the things they found important and being bored. I took AP and honors classes in my senior year, which was crazy. I did fairly well, I wasn't a straight-A student, but I didn't have Ds, and I got out of school.

Fast forward to high school, and at 24, I had two children. The truth of the matter is that my daughter just turned 23 days ago. And even as I sit here and I think about the fact that I have a 20-year-old daughter, it's insane to me. And it's crazy. Back then, I didn't know what I wanted to do. There are a lot of people who get to 18, 20, 25, whatever age, and they're like, oh, I know what I want to do. I want to be this person.

Srini: Wow. Obviously, that raises several questions. One thing that I wonder about, and this is something I've asked a lot of people, is what we hear about stories like yours. Typically, we experience the reality of our story through movies and media. And I'm wondering, as somebody who's lived it, what do we not see? What does the media get wrong about this experience? Tiffany?

Largie: Media gets it wrong. How many times have we, and how many times has it continued to go wrong? Media also misses how many times we cry in the midst of it, keep going wrong. Like a lot of the narratives in the media, it's okay, there is this. As the beginning of the story says, the context is it's bad. There's some type of situation, then there's a pinnacle. And then after the pinnacle, the challenge, the problem, all of a sudden, there's the win, right? And the win comes, and I don't wanna say happily ever after, but the state is completely changed. That is not the case. Like that life card and that pain, that scenario and that impossible moment have played out so many times.

And that's the part that people don't see. They think it's like a one-time challenge. Oh, she went to bed hungry, and then she won it. It's like last year I was sent to the hospital, or I went to the hospital after 10 hours of being in pain almost a week ago to today, a week ago, a year ago to this week.

And I had an emergency. And for the last year, I

Srini: Yeah. And then I think there's the other side of this too, in media, when you look at a movie like Boyz n the Hood, for example, or pretty much any John Singleton movie, it's like there isn't a happy ending. I think I feel like there's so much that we don't see in terms of the context when we see those kinds of movies.

Largie: Yeah, I would agree for sure. And sometimes there isn't a happy ending, but it's because there's not a happening ending. Do you stop fighting for it? Do you know what I mean? It's like that idea of, it's like that idea of the journey. If, as crazy as it sounds, some of the times there isn't a happy ending, it doesn't mean that there's not happiness on the journey and it's not worth the fight.

And sometimes those intermittent wins can be the thing that allows us to have the worth or the purpose in life or in the journey.

Srini: I think the thing that really strikes me, and this is something I notice often when I talk to people like you, is that there are people who come from far more privileged circumstances than you did and far easier situations than you had. Yet they struggle to take ownership of their story.

Why do you think that is? We're talking about the relativity of suffering.


Large: Yep.

Srini: And I was driving back yesterday from the mountains snowboarding, and I hit a giant rock on the road. I think it was a giant piece of ice.

Large: Yikes.

Srini: Yeah, remember one of my first mentors used to say, "The problems don't go away. They magnify. What changes is your capacity?" Do they?

Srini: I was able to get down the mountain, and I, and I went to the tire place, and I thought to myself, if this was like three years ago, I would have called my dad. I literally went in, I was like, I need a new tire. How long is this gonna take? I had to reschedule my doctor's appointment. And I went home, and my parents were like, how was your day? I was like, that was fine. I didn't even mention the tire to them. And I was like, wow. Something has seriously changed.

Large: That's a whole thing. That's a whole thing.

Srini: Yeah. 'Cause the thing is, I think that like the things that you think are these like huge issues early on, I remember there's this in the movie, The Social Network, where Mark Zuckerberg is fighting that lawsuit. The lawyer basically tells him, in the grand scheme of things, this is a speeding ticket, and that always stayed with him. Not that I'm an admirer of the way that Facebook has built their business, but that concept that, in the grand scheme of things, this little thing that seems like a huge ordeal at the moment ends up being a speeding ticket in retrospect.

Largie: I so agree. And you're right; it's really actually about the capacity, hands down. I love that visual of that, and I love that truth of you not even mentioning it for sure. I get it completely. It's not; it's all about hands down and even thinking about that. So once you go through one storm and then you're holding onto the pole, like you're thin, your skin gets thicker because you were standing in the storm.

So you almost like you build new muscles just by standing there, which allows you to have more strength as you enter the next storm. The person who consistently heads into the shelter to cover themselves from the storm they don't get any stronger. They actually get weaker in some essence, and so they never build more capacity so that they can get further, faster, to their goals.

Large: I, I honestly today, my opinion is pretty biased because I spend so much time in rooms. I coach hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and we have a lot of people who come to their lives, like live events. And the truth is that I think it's because they haven't built the muscle.

It's like winning is a muscle, and it's not because you become a winner; it's just that you become strong enough to con, to be able to withstand the many storms that come on your way to the win. And there are some people who are constantly looking for shelter. Like the storm is coming, they're like, oh, outta here.

And then they run, and they look for shelter. And then there are other people who are like, no, I'm just gonna stand in the storm. I'll hold onto this pole so I don't fly away, but as soon as it lets up, I'm gonna keep going. It's a decision, it's like a decision that's made. It's not really whether someone's strong enough or white enough or black enough; it's a decision that's made as to how they're going to journey.

Srini: What with all the people that you see, coach? Because I feel like I, I see this pattern when it comes to any sort of personal development effort where you have these sort of three groups of people. The people who will get a result, whether they do the thing or not, because that's how they're wired. The people who would come to somebody like you and you end up being the catalyst for changing them. And then there's this third group that I call the people who are stuck in the vicious cycle of personal development, which I honestly think this group basically contributes billions of dollars to this industry. What is the difference in your mind between those people? Because I remember I had this moment when I walked into the Boulder Bookstore. I was like, why the hell do I feel like I've read every book in there?

Large: Yeah. What is the difference? So, is that your question?

Srini: With the people around me, I am able to share my thoughts and ideas without any judgment. Tiffany, what about you?

Largie: Yeah.

Srini: Yeah. You like the difference between the people who make something happen versus the ones who don't.

Largie: Yeah. You know what's interesting is that, like in our, so all of the companies I run are not coaching. And I personally actually don't coach anymore. What I find, and it's because of this exact reason, is there are two different people, and a lot of the coaching business models are built on some form of an ascension model where they find the person who says, "Hey, I need some help."

And then, their goal is to continue to ascend up through their world into bigger and better programs and products. I, in our companies, we actually don't do that. And the reason why I don't have an ascension model, or I didn't start with one, is because I don't believe that the person who is a habitual non-doer is going to magically or suddenly become the $5 million business owner.

I do believe that they're gonna have wins that are slightly different, and they're gonna be quantifiable in their own way. So in that essence, I think that the number one thing that trips people from soaring in personal development and you have to part the waters 'cause there's the personal development that is strictly just about personal.

Srini: Wow. I appreciate this perspective so much because the send model makes me cringe I remember Dan Kennedy talking about this in a seminar once. He was talking about Warner Erhart, the creator of Landmark Forum, and he was like, okay, sum this whole thing up for me in one sentence. And he said, "We sell independence, but we breed dependence."

Largie: Yes.

Largie: Correct

Srini: Like, I want to get to the point where you know.

Largie: Correct. It is like Eastern medicine versus Western medicine. And when I got into this industry, I really had no idea that I would ever coach; I never wanted to be on stage. I was never interested in that stuff. I sold my company, and I just felt like, through some experiences of seeing an event, reading a book, I was like, "Wow, is this what you're teaching people?"

Having built a seven-figure business myself, I it was brick and mortar. My business partners were Xerox Corporation and Hewlett Packard. Like I was in the tech space of hardware and software head down, and I really had never touched the other. But the second that I got a whiff of the fact that there were these people who were coaches coaching other people how to become better, I just felt like, "What are we talking about here?"

And then when I saw the price tags that they were putting on them, again, I'm not knocking the price tags, not at all. But I felt so sick every single time. I was like, "She's gonna teach you how to build a business, but she has never built a business. What are

Srini: Yep.

Largie: Like it was, I'll tell you, I really became, I landed into doing what we are today because, in the first year or two, all I was doing was sniffing the water. I was teaching and being asked to speak on stage, but I was sniffing the water. I wasn't thinking, I'm gonna build a program, and I'm gonna do this, that. I was put into a lot of experiences where I would see these supposed gurus and great people backstage, and I'd be like, what? That guy is nothing like what he is on stage. He's an asshole. He's a jerk. This guy's a jerk. He's a horrible person. But, time and experience after experience got me quiet. But there was this one moment when I was invited to speak at an event. And this is where I realized I knew, okay, I have to do something. You see a problem, you talk about a problem, and I believe if you talk about a problem, you see a problem, and it burns you like you're feeling angry and vexed about it. You have a responsibility to respond to it in some way, whatever that is. Because oftentimes, that great human has been given the

Srini: I love this. I, yeah, I really just appreciate your perspective. It's really just refreshing and insightful. I have one final question for you, which is how we finish all of our interviews at Unmistakable Creative. What do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable?

Yeah. Beautiful. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and share your stories, your wisdom, and your insight with our listeners. Where can people find out more about you, your work, and everything that you're doing?

Amazing. And for everybody listening, we will wrap the show with that.

Srini: That just was a moment that made me realize that, okay, you know what? That, in my mind, is actually not a good model because, in my mind, I always tell people, if I'm gonna work with you, I wanna make sure at some point you need to fire me. I don't wanna spend the rest.