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SPI 583: How to Increase Productivity and Happiness with Plants with Maria Failla

Did you know you can actually increase your productivity, creativity, and happiness simply by having plants in your office or around your house?

We spend so much time and money on applications, devices, and other things to help us produce more. Why not simply add a plant? This isn’t just a feng shui situation, if that’s what you’re thinking. There are actual studies and data that prove this.

I’m really excited because on today’s show we have Maria Failla. You might remember that name from the last time she was on the show. She came on to talk about her business and her origin story.

Well, a lot has happened since then. Her business has changed, she has a new book that just came out called Growing Joy, and she’s launched an online community of growers that’s very much modeled on what we’ve built at SPI Pro.

We’re going to talk about her book, her community, her business, and the parallels between growing a garden and growing your business. A lot of it involves love and care, not just for plants, but for yourself too.

One quick note about this episode — Maria’s book publish date has been shifted back to the end of the month due to supply chain issues. The good news is you can still preorder it!

Today’s Guest

Maria Failla

Maria is a self proclaimed “Plant Killer turned Plant Lady” on a mission to help every person successfully care for houseplants—no matter how small their home is. She believes if you can learn the empathy and kindness required to care for plants, you’ll bring those skills into the world and make it a kinder and greener place.

You’ll Learn


SPI 583: How to Actually Increase Productivity and Happiness with Plants with Maria Failla

[00:00:00] Maria:
For entrepreneurs, patience is so hard when we want to do well and we want to be successful. We want $20,000 a month. We want whatever our goals are.

Just being the good gardener and showing up every day, having patience and knowing that when that seed sprouts it’s going to be so much more rewarding.

[00:00:43] Pat:
Did you know you can actually increase your productivity, creativity, and happiness simply by having plants around you in your home office, or your office at work, or around your house? Perhaps it’s the setup of your desk in relation to the window, and having natural light come in.

You can actually increase your productivity simply by those things. We spend so much time and money on applications, devices, and other things to help us produce more. Why not simply add a plant? Is this actually a real thing? Yes! And it’s not just sort of a feng shui, potential “woo woo” situation, if that’s what you’re thinking. There are actual studies and data that prove this.

So, I’m really excited because today we have Marie Failla on our podcast. You might remember that name from the last time she was on the show. She actually won a pitch contest within our SPI Pro community at She came on to talk about her business and her origin story. But so much has happened since then. That was episode 458, that she was on, and now we’re over a hundred episodes later here in episode 583.

Her business has changed. She has now a book deal, a new book that just came out called Growing Joy that wasn’t even on her list back then. She also launched a community of growers online, very much modeled on top of what we’ve built at SPI Pro.

We’re going to talk about that, her business, and a lot of parallels between growing a garden and growing your business, and love and self care, not just for plants but for yourself, too.

That’s the interesting thing and the thing that I love about this book. Yes, it’s a how-to-plant book, but it’s actually more of a how-to-self-care book. There’s a lot of parallels there that you will benefit from in this episode.

So, here she is, Maria Failla, host of Bloom & Grow Radio.

Maria, welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. It’s been a couple of years. How are you? I’m excited for this.

[00:02:30] Maria:
Oh man, Pat, I’m so thankful to be back, so honored. You’ve been such an amazing mentor, advisor, leader as I’ve been at SPI Pro. I feel like a completely different entrepreneur and person since we talked. I think two years ago, January of 2020 was our interview. I’m so excited to give an update and hopefully help everyone grow a little bit more joy in their work days.

[00:02:56] Pat:
Absolutely. And we are going to be discussing productivity and being happier at work, but also growing a business because your business has grown like crazy. In fact, you got this book deal, which we’ll talk about in a minute, but what has been the biggest change since the last time you’ve been on.

[00:03:15] Maria:
It was very interesting when you and I, the first interview we did it was because I won the pitch contest and I felt like I had this really intense vision of what I knew I wanted bloom and grow to be. So I had a podcast, I have a podcast Bloom and Grow Radio, and I started feeling it growing and expanding like a plant that you nurture.

Right. And when we did that interview, I remember you asking me, where do you want to take bloom and grow in the future? And I kind of got tripped up because I was like, gosh, I don’t know. Where do I. I don’t know what these steps are. As an entrepreneur, I have a degree in opera. I had a career as a musical theater performer that ended in the pandemic, and I very much had these huge goals for myself, but I, I wasn’t quite sure how to take action on them.

I knew how to pitch myself, but I had to figure out how to pay myself. Right. So. Over the last two years, it’s been a lot of building business systems, leaning on people for support implementing profit. First, I launched my paid community, so I have an online garden society where people can find high, high quality garden education.

And I modeled it very similarly off of SBA. It’s basically SPI Pro, but. yeah, cause you’re totally my inspiration for that. and and got this book deal. So this book deal with some, something that came out of nowhere. A editor at a very fancy publisher is a listener of my podcast and heard this through line on my podcast of how I believe that plant care is self care.

And in late 20, 20 reached out to me to see if I would be interested in writing a book. And, you know, I like you had a podcast first, I’m a talker. I didn’t realize I could be a writer. And it took me a minute to evaluate what that would look like. And for the last year I’ve been stumbling down the Path of my, of my first of my journey to being a first time published.

[00:05:01] Pat:
Yeah. I remember what that was like. So I’m right there with you. And now the book is out there and what’s it called? What’s it gonna do for real?

[00:05:09] Maria:
Yeah. So it’s called Growing Joy, the plant lovers guide to cultivating happiness and plants. And it’s actually a self-care book about plant care. So there are plenty of plant care books out there on the internet. Our good friend, Kevin from epic gardening has plenty of them. but I wanted to create a book that really.

People figure out how to use plants, to disconnect from screens, reconnect with nature and reconnect with themselves. Because as I went on my journey from plant killer to plant lady crazy happy plant lady, I realized that plants, yeah, they made my apartment look really beautiful. But they actually helped me reconnect with myself.

I was living in 500 square feet in New York city. I woke up and had coffee with my phone in the morning. and when I started caring for plants, I woke up and started having coffee with plants in the morning. And that small shift completely changed my life. I know that you probably have had a very similar experience.

I remember cause you were spending mornings in your garden last year as well.

[00:06:07] Pat:
Yeah, I still am. In fact, and we just, now that it’s spring, we just kind of reloaded the, the garden beds with some new soil and fertilizer and we planted some new plants. So I’m excited because every morning I go out and just check out the process. You know, see what the Rodens did that I can sort of try to avoid, you know, the next night, but, it is therapeutic.

It is therapeutic. Why, why does that work? Like tell us a little bit more. Is there, is there some science behind it or what, in your opinion is, is allowing plants to help us actually grow and take better care of ourselves?

[00:06:38] Maria:
Yeah. Well, I think there are a lot of really interesting concepts that we can dive into here. First off, I feel like we’re just a screen addicted to society, right? We’re all just waking up on our phones. I believe there are studies that show. Americans are spending more than 90% of their time indoors.

Right now we spend up to over 13 hours on a screen every day. So we’re just kind of dysregulated there. and there’s this interesting term called biophilia, which is pretty popularized. Now people might, people might know about it, but it’s a term that’s been around since the seventies and It’s this concept that humans as living beings are intrinsically connected to other living things around them, whether you’re with your pets or whether with your plants.

Right? So I think we all know that when we are able to kind of put our phone in our pocket and go for a walk and in the local part, like this doesn’t need to be rocket science. When we’re around plants, something happens in our bodies, our nervous system kind of relaxes. We feel that like whoosh down our spine, where we’re able to.

Slow down the space between our thoughts becomes a little bit wider. and you’re able to just kind of reconnect with yourself and also connect with a sense of awe that I think we lose touch with as, as people who are constantly obsessed with ourselves and our phones nature gives you that all that inspiring moment that I think we lack.

So biophilia is a really interesting concept there. I think that also plants just are incredibly restorative to be around. So there’s another concept called the attention restoration theory, which I write about in my book. These are all theories that I’m sharing. So, you know, no one come at me if, if you don’t agree with them, that’s fine.

But these are just interesting concepts that have really helped me as I’ve changed my life through learning how to care for plants. and it’s this concept of that. There are two types of attention directed attention and involuntary attention and our nervous system needs both.

Right. They’re both really important, directed attention we use when we’re using fight or flight. when we’re on our computer, when we’re writing emails, when we’re looking at a screen, you have to actively block out external stimuli to focus on something, and then there’s involuntary attention. so directed attention is not restorative.

We only have a certain amount before we experience kind of feelings of burnout or people say that. So who of us haven’t felt burned out in the last two years? right? I think burnout is almost an epidemic. That’s, you. know, that’s, that’s reaching, our society and. Plants help us knock into this other form of attention, which is involuntary attention. And that’s, you know, we remember when you were a kid and you’d lay in the grass and you’d watch clouds pass by. That’s involuntary attention, right? Where you’re laying. You’re, you’re letting something wash over you. Maybe you’re watching the clouds move, but it doesn’t take energy or attention. You know, when you look up in a forest and you get to just kind of see the trees.

The, the limbs of the trees move swaying in the wind. Like a, if you’re walking in a butterfly, kind of passes your eye and you get to kind of take it in and then let it go. And it’s really important to have both of these types of attention in our, in our days. But lately I feel like in my life, I have a lot more directed that involuntary and creating intentional time with plants helps me.

Have more involuntary and have more of that restorative time. So those are two concepts that I learned about in my journey of, of taking, you know, plant courses that were really instrumental in creating a lot of the practices that I talk about in my book, which is all about how to just take time with plants, to cultivate more joy and stillness and calm.

[00:10:22] Pat:
Hmm, I have that feeling of when I’m in nature, for sure of just calmness and it’s just a step away from the screen. And that’s really nice, whether I’m on a hike or fishing at the lake or something, is that a feeling that we could get in our enclosed spaces in our office, to become more productive and to have these sorts of feelings, with plants.

And if so, like you had mentioned you had a 500 square. sort of apartment or, or, or home.

That’s crazy. I mean, where do you even begin? Like if we can’t get out and for a while, none of us could go out, but now that we can, I mean, what about when we get back home? How do we set up our space for, for these kinds of things?

And that’ll be my first question. I do have a follow-up question that I’m sure you’ve gotten before, but let’s, let’s start there.

Like where do we, where do we begin? And is that, is that even possible to do in, in, in such a small.

[00:11:12] Maria:
For sure. And I’m so happy you asked that question because I think people get really intimidated, right? They feel like I don’t live near a park. I don’t have trees in my area. I don’t want to be like one of those people I see on Instagram that has 400 houseplants in their apartments. I don’t want my apartment to look like a jungle.

Right. You feel like the scale is too intimidating, but I’m so passionate about. Entrepreneurs using what I talk about in my book, in their work. Cause I know that I’ve experienced a difference. So I think it can be as small of a scale as having one plant in your office. or even photos of a plan, because I know some people have low light offices.

They have, you know, situations where they can’t bring actual plants in, or you don’t want something. You have to water near your expensive computer. I totally get it. But, yeah, I mean, I think you can take a lot of these principles and apply them on a small scale. And I think as we get further and further disconnected from nature as a society, as we live in ant farms of 500 square feet apartments, like I used to live in, I now live on five.

I did as complete 180 in the pandemic. I now live on five acres in the middle of nowhere in the Catskills.

[00:12:18] Pat:
Oh, geez. Okay.

[00:12:20] Maria:
So I’m one of those stereotype, stereotypical millennials who like totally uprooted her whole life. but this is where we can talk about a really interesting topic that I’m pretty obsessed with that I talk a lot about in the book called biophilic design.

I’m sure you’ve heard about this already because it’s the future. Right? All new buildings that are getting built are, or should be incorporating concepts of biophilic design. And that takes the concept of biophilia. We’re intrinsically connected to plants and we should be around plants to feel whole as humans and figuring out how to bring the outdoors.

There are lots of really interesting studies and research and architecture firms that are dedicated to this and biophilic design. Isn’t putting a plant shaped pillow on a couch. That’s not bio. I mean, it can be biophilic design, but biophilic design can be as large as evaluating when you’re building a business, what you know, direction you’re and you’re an architect.

So you probably know a lot about biophilic design, but it could be, you know, evaluating. What direction a window faces. Are we going to design this room with natural looking curves or super harsh lines? What colors are we incorporating into the walls? into the materials that we bring in, can we incorporate more natural elements into almost every aspect of the construction of this building?

And. There are some cool studies that are showing that, you know, office environments that, that have biophilic design really do pay off for the employers that, you know, pay that, that shell out the bucks to, to bring some plants in. Have you have, have you learned anything about it? I mean, it was biophilic design big when you were still an architect.

[00:14:03] Pat:
It was not the term that was being used, but that kind of design was very much on top of our minds, especially with the lead exam, the leadership in energy and environmental design, the, the relationship between the building and the space that it’s in with the sun and the environment all really important, especially when it comes to not just like the.

Efficiency of the building and the energy usage of it, but, you know, the productivity and the happiness of the people that were inside, that was actually a part of the exam, was to, to understand some of that stuff. So, yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is, like another type of feng shui, if you will, it almost to many, I think feels.

Woo a little bit, but then when you actually are in these spaces and you see it and you compare it to others, it’s not, w it’s like clear data is actually there to support it.

[00:14:48] Maria:
I mean, there’s a, there’s a reason why all the, we works have really beautiful potted plants and all of them, or did. And let’s talk about that. Okay. Cause I’m spiritual. I’m woo. But there’s there’s facts. There’s there’s figures here. So if you want, I can share some results from an interesting study that I read, that have really actionable steps that we can take based off of some of the feedback does that.

Okay. Cool. So I thought this was super interesting. I could send you a link to the study, but there was a study done called and I don’t want to get it wrong. So I’m going to read it off a piece of paper, the biophilic design, human spaces report on the global impact of biophilic design and workspaces.

So this was a report where. pulled online 7,600 people across a whole bunch of countries. so they had a really nice sample on various aspects of their work environment. And they were really interesting, you know, there was really interesting stuff that came out of it, but something that I thought was really interested that it was reported that there was, for one control group that had natural elements and another, that did.

The group that did have natural elements. And that was the only differentiator had a 15% increase in creativity. A 6% increase in productivity and a 15% increase in feelings of wellbeing at the workplace.

[00:16:08] Pat:

[00:16:09] Maria:
So like that’s pretty cool.

[00:16:11] Pat:
That is cool. Now do the plants have to be real plants in order to achieve the same results?

[00:16:18] Maria:
Yeah. Great question.

[00:16:19] Pat:
As many of us are plant killers. I mean, unfortunately we

[00:16:22] Maria:

[00:16:22] Pat:
Thumbs all over the place. So.

[00:16:24] Maria:
Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve totally got your back. A lot of this actually doesn’t even have to do with houseplants. So when they did this interview, they all, when they did this poll, they also asked about, you know, what natural elements, what aspects of an, of an, of an office inspires you the most, the most requested thing.

And I think of the five things that I’m going to list, there’s probably something in everybody’s environment that they. Uplevel for themselves because I have a feeling, the majority of the people listening to this podcast are probably work from home as they run their own businesses. so you can do this, you know, in your own home and whatever weird work from home cobble, you know, space you’ve cobbled together.

So the number one most requested thing was natural light. The next one was indoor plants. So that’s number two, still up there. the next one was quiet, which we can talk about. Then the next one was a view of the sea. I mean, who wouldn’t love that I’m not going to be as accessible to many of us followed by, relaxing colors, which I feel like is very, very personable for people.

So. When you’re working from home, you know, if you evaluate these three things, there’s probably something you can work with, whether that’s moving your, Desk closer to a window to access some natural light because our eyes can hurt with our ring lights on all the time and fluorescent light. and then you can have indoor plants, but say you don’t want to do indoor plants, right?

Say you’re a plant killer. I hear you. You should come listen to Bloom and Grow Radio. I was a plant killer when I started the podcast. I’ve got episodes for the most beginner. Of students. but you can also do photos, right? You can do dried plants. There’s dried grasses are really having a moment. maybe you can incorporate some dried plants.

Maybe you can just go outside and pick some cut flowers or have, have some bouquets, but just any way for you to have some sort of. Being in your office that helps you connect to nature in some form, even if it’s just a beautiful photo of nature as your, a laptop, you know, a waist screen, or, maybe you do a gallery wall of different photos or botanical art that inspires you. And the objective of all of this, isn’t, I’m not saying I’m going to change your life, you know, by doing these things. But I’m saying if you do these things, I have a feeling you’ll create one or two more joyful, connected moments in your life.

And I think that those moments on a larger scale can really grow into something because I think we’re all after two years of working from home, looking to shake things up and look. For more joyful moments, right?

[00:18:54] Pat:
A hundred percent. And I think as much as we often spend a ton of money and time researching the best laptop and the best equipment to use the best microphone, all these sort of technological things, I think it’s important. To also have the other side of it and, and bring more net, nature into your environment as well.

For me, natural lighting is really key when I’m in work and creativity mode, obviously when I’m filming, like I am right now, the windows are closed, but I have controlled lighting for the purposes of the videos. But as soon as this is done, I open up the windows and then I go outside. I might go in the garden a little bit later today.

It did rain yesterday. So it’s nice smell outside, which is really nice.

But if one were to get started with even the smallest of houseplants that they could bring into their office, whether it’s a cubicle at the work place that they’re at or at their home, do you have a species that’s maybe easy to tend to and take care of?

And what is that in, in what are the requirements to keep it alive?

[00:19:52] Maria:
Absolutely. And I do want to go back to windows because I have something I want to Pat you on the shoulder for. But, so I don’t believe in one blanket starter plan for everyone, I believe in the right plant for different personalities. And it’s going to be based off of whether you want, you know, if you’re traveling a lot, then you need a plant that’s drought tolerant.

If you want to be. In your plants business every day, taking care of it, to kind of feel that bond with it. that’s going to require a different type of plant. So I actually have a plant parent personality test on my website that people are welcome to take. And I’ll give you a list of plants tailored to you.

But I would say we can talk about low-light plants cause I have a feeling. People’s offices are going to be low light. And that’s probably the biggest request that I get. Maria. I want to put plants in my office, but I don’t know how cause I have no lights. So when it comes to low light tolerant, I think it’s important to specify that there are low light tolerant plants.

They’re not low light loving plants. So all plants need some form of light because light is what helps them photosynthesize, which is what gives them. but if you’re looking for a low-light plant, I would highly suggest. And actually I think this is an amazing plant for an office, the snake plant or San Savira.

I believe now it’s called . they’re these beautiful. They can be small, but they have these beautiful kind of, sward like leaves and they have gorgeous designs on them. So I actually have two snake plants on either side of my computer monitor. And when I need a break from the screen in the middle of the day, I take what I say, you know, you can take a forties.

Short as 40 seconds and you’ll feel a difference, but I like five minutes if I can. And I’ll take a screen break where I’ll turn my computer off and I’ll just let my eyes wander, the beautiful designs on these leaves, because I think so many of us get that, you know, headache at halfway through the day from staring at our screens all day.

So putting plants near your computer to allow yourself to just have a little micro break off the screen. I think can really help. And I know personally has really improved my Workday. so I would highly recommend sensitive era, snake plants. You could also go with a Z plant, which is a really beautiful plant.

They have a really cool one that the bleeds are like almost black and they come out lime green and then turn this really dark purple, which is gorgeous. you could go with some sort of, Evergreen, you could go with any type of low light, you know, philodendron or a post those, those Hardy plants. and I’m happy to give a list of low light tolerant plants, on my website for SPI people.


[00:22:35] Pat:
Yeah. I mean, I think the personality test is great. Where can people go to, to check that out?

[00:22:39] Maria:
So I’ll have a little landing page for, for anybody listening, And I’ll make sure the I’ll put all sorts of goodies there for you guys, including the personality test. But Pat, I want to go back to the windows because there was another thing that I did last year that I loved for winter.

So, if you are able to have windows, you know, that are open during your Workday, there’s a concept in biophilic design called non rhythmic sensory stimuli. And it’s watching that butterfly fly across your Path as you’re walking through nature. Right. And giving you that chance for that in voluntary attention.

My parents did the most clever thing and their work from home office, they put a bird feeder outside of their window. So throughout their Workday, they would have like Mr. Mrs. Cardinal, Mr. And Mrs. You know, blue Jay would show up and they would have these like really joyful moments of, you know, one minute looking at the birds in the scope of a work day.

It really didn’t affect them negatively, but they have these really beautiful ways of connecting with nature. for the

[00:23:43] Pat:
I like that idea

[00:23:44] Maria:
Feed that, I think could be a really fun way to grow. Join your work day as well.

[00:23:49] Pat:
And that wouldn’t be necessarily a distraction if you’re in the middle of a Workday and then boom, you see birds and they kind of catch your eye that that’s not going to negatively affect your work by taking you away from it. Maybe at times you don’t want it.

[00:24:01] Maria:
Well, I think it depends where you put your bird feeder, how close and how far away for me. I don’t know if I would see it as a distracted. And do you think you would.

[00:24:13] Pat:
Potentially I’d probably stare off. you know, it depends. I think if I, if I put it over here and I’m like just sort of resting and I can look outside and then they see birds there, that’s great. But if I, I don’t know if I’m recording a podcast, for example, like literally in the middle of it. And then I see the birds.


Stop and, you know, get distracted a little bit because I’m enjoying watching nature. And thankfully with a podcast I can always re-edit or, you know, go back and such, but, you know, that’s maybe when the windows would be closed as is if you know, on air per se.

[00:24:43] Maria:
Yeah, that’s a good point. I think it’s definitely preference. And that’s why in my book, I have more than 60 practices. Cause I feel like some people love nature, right? Some people like the outdoors, some people prefer to be with their house plants, indoors. You know, it’s very similar to essential oils.

Everybody has different sense that they like right since are so emotional. So I feel like, you know, if it’s something that would excite you, definitely go for it, but I could totally see your argument for it being maybe distracting.

[00:25:12] Pat:
Yeah, again, I think it, I think it depends. so great. We have some great starting points for people who want to explore the idea of bringing plant life more into their office space, into their workspace to make them happier, make them more productive. And I’d love to do more of that myself. As far as like growing your business.

I know that there are often a lot of parallels between growing a garden or taking care of a plan and taking care of yourself and taking care of your business. What are some of the most common parallels that you could find that we can maybe unpack some of those and have a fun discussion about.

[00:25:43] Maria:
I love it. And on our last talk, we had kind of skimmed the surface of this and I feel like you and I both see a lot of these and I’m actually really interested to see what you, what you think as well. something. About a lot lately, actually not something I even put in my book, but that’s a huge reason why I was excited to write Growing Joy because I feel like my whole life now is reflected in plants.

Right. I can see so many life lessons from the plants that I care for, the plants that I observed in nature. And when we talk about that moment, those moments of all that plants can give us. I think it’s really important for us to understand the larger scope of the world that we partake in, because it can be so easy for us to get so consumed with, you know, our own problems in lives.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately because I’ve been completely fixated on planting a wildflower meadow in my house, in the Catskills. I’ve been doing all sorts of research on, on how to grow Meadows and how to plant wildflower seeds. And normally with seed mixes. You get a mixture of annuals and perennials, right?

So annuals are plants that basically experienced their whole life cycle within one season. And then perennials are ones that keep coming back year after year. And the thing that I think is really cool that I’m seeing reflected in my business a lot lately is the fact that. Everything in your life has different germination rates.

And I’m, I’m kind of playing around with feeling like my life and my business is a garden that has all sorts of different seeds in it. And they’re all designed to germinate and grow at these different moments and they will, right. So there were seeds planted in bloom and grow media years ago. That I wasn’t ready that they weren’t ready to germinate.

I, as an entrepreneur, wasn’t ready for them to germinate like a book. If someone had approached me with a book deal three years ago, I don’t know if I would have been ready to write one, but this seed has been waiting within me and waiting within my business to germinate, for when it’s ready and also the time.

So when I, when you kind of zoom out. And you’re able to view your business as this kind of larger living, breathing ecosystem. It’s just provided me a lot of comfort, especially last year when I went through a lot, you know, learning how to build a business and struggling tremendously. I, I just kept reminding myself, like the seeds have been planted.

Maria. You’ve just got to keep showing up and, and tending, tending your garden and knowing that they’re going to sprout when, when it’s supposed to. And I think for entrepreneurs like that, patience is so freaking hard. when we just want to do well and we just want to be successful and we just want the $20,000 a month and we just want, you know, whatever our goals are.

But just, you know, being the good gardener and showing up, every day and just having the patience and knowing that when that seeds sprouts, it’s going to be so much more rewarding.

[00:28:45] Pat:

[00:28:46] Maria:
I dunno, what do you

[00:28:47] Pat:
That’s great. Now I L I love that. I mean, I think that. Different seeds, Germany at different times of the year, right? There are seasons of life. There are seasons of, of growing. You know, the big parallel for me recently actually happened with relation to in our backyard. We have this lemon tree and the lemon tree was there ever since we moved in and it kind of just felt like it just sat dormant.

It didn’t bear any fruit for the longest period of time. And it’s like, well, what’s this lemon tree doing? It’s growing. There’s leaves coming out, but there’s no lemons coming. Like how long is this going to take this year was the first year. That we had lemons and my gosh, hundreds of them on this single tree that we’ve been able to pull out like way too much for us actually.

And it just, all of a sudden, it just for whatever reason, boom, it clicked this year and they came about, and so we’ve been distributing them to neighbors and giving them, or giving them out and making lemonade at home and creating these really fun experiences. But like you said, it took some time in some Patients to get here.

And when I reflect on that, I’m like, What like did we do anything or did we just wait long enough? What happened? And there was actually one thing that we did do, we actually. Got rid of a couple of trees that were around it because we wanted to create more space between the different trees that were in our backyard.

And there was just kind of too crowded. And as soon as we did that, I think the lemon tree had enough sunlight and space to finally bloom and do what it needed to do. So that was just really interesting because how often are we feeling crowded with all the work that we need to do or the people around us or, or what have you to not have the room to grow and to bloom.

Capture the sunlight, like we need, need to, to nourish ourselves. And so I thought that was really interesting. And now that there is space around it, we can now bear that fruit. And we always talk about, you know, you know, bearing fruit in our business or picking the lowest hanging fruit or whatever. Right.

There’s a lot of parallels there specifically, but now we can share that joy and serve others with that as a result of creating space around it. And it’s interesting. We actually did renovate our backyard. And this was the only tree that was sort of left standing because it was so tall. It just hadn’t bared fruit.

And then here it is finally it has, we actually planted a lime tree and an orange tree kind of down the other side of the garden. And it’s interesting. Cause when you get them from the nursery, there’s already like tiny little green potential lemons or oranges. And I was doing some research on. And I think it was Kevin who, who taught this.

He’s like, all right, when you plant these little citrus trees, cut off any sort of fruit that it’s already bearing, like get rid of them. And I’m like, no, I want, I want to keep them because those are going to turn into oranges. Right. And he’s like, If you allow the plant to focus on pushing energy into these really small little fruits, then it’s not going to grow as big.

If we cut them off, now we will let the plant focus on its growth and providing more greenery so that it can then capture more sunlight and bear bigger, better fruit later. And I was like, wow, how often do we, as business owners, try to start off by having the fruit come in right from day one And we tried.

You know, we try to take advantage of that when really we need to be focusing on like what it is that we need to do, which is growing our business or building relationships, or, you know, putting more feelers out there versus let’s cash in on these things right now. So again, another parallel between Patients and gardening and how much things can pay off.

If you wait.

[00:32:10] Maria:
I Pat, I love talking to you about plants. This is so fun. So one thing I wanted to reflect back to you in that beautiful life metaphor is that. I am so thankful that I get to be the recipient of your lemons. Right. you have built this beautiful business of your own SPI and, you know, my first thought when you started telling your story was yeah.

And you get to share those lemons with, with neighbors around you. The other thing I talk about a lot in my book is how plants connect us to other people. Like the minute you meet another garden, Your friends for life. It’s over, like the minute you meet another, like if I’m ever at a party and I meet a stranger and they tell me that they are also into houseplants, it’s done we’re off in the corner for the next 45 minutes, drinking and talking about our favorite plants and, you know, organizing a plant, swap, cutting, and you know, like we’re friends for life.

But. You know, I think it’s really cool too. I have watched you intentionally grow SPI to be what it is, and you know, I’ve gotten to benefit from your bounty of your 11. So thank you very much.

[00:33:17] Pat:
Oh, thank you for that. I mean, that makes me think of pruning how important that is to the growth of, of any sort of plant when we, grow tomato plants, right. We need to very be very careful about pruning them or else it can just go crazy and wild. And how many times in our business are we creating like a hundred different branches for like a hundred different projects versus let’s remove these, parts of the tree so that it can grow and providing some.

As well, whether it’s wood or those wire ones that you can put around it, so that there’s something for it to lay on. That’s important because in business, for example, as you grow, you’re going to need more support or else you’re just, you’re going to fall.

And that’s where mastermind groups and support systems and a board of advisors and all those kinds of things come into play.

As you begin to grow, I would definitely would not be here today. I’d either be burnt out or I would just walk away from my business completely if it wasn’t for the support. that I’ve been able to build through the relationships, in the business that I have. So,

[00:34:12] Maria:
You know, we talked about that on our last episode. That was one of the ones that, that is my pruning is my number one. Like. Life metaphor for the last two years. And since we talked, we had talked about, you know, when you prune something, it actually triggers the plant to grow Lusher, right? Like there’s like a whole hormone that gets triggered in the plant.

And you and I had talked about how important it is to prune responsibilities away from yourself as an entrepreneur, in order to hire other people, so that your business can grow with lush. And since we talked, I’ve hired four people for my business. and it’s amazing. I mean, I’m seeing. I’m seeing those benefits.

And another thing that I think you mentioned that I want to kind of take a step further is, cause this, you kind of mentioned this with your, with your. I have a lime tree that I adore called limey, by the way. So I love citrus and citrus blooms are the most amazing scent. good growing media and fertilizer.

You take the same plant and you have two V two cuttings of the same plant. You put one in organic. You know, rich, well draining potting mix or soil that you know, has fertilizer and mycorrhiza in it. And then you take that same plant and you put it in just like compacted clay and the plant. Both plants have the capability of being huge lush, beautiful plants.

But man, that plant that sets themselves up for success in the good, in the good stuff is going to grow and have such an easier life. And I feel like that’s. Been my journey since we’ve last talked is okay. I need business systems. I need support. I need mentors. I need, you know, my masterminds, like how can I set myself up as an entrepreneur and how can I set this business up for more success?

How can I Uplevel my fertilizer for lack of a better word? Because I think. It just makes the growth so much easier than just feeling like you have to do it all yourself and grip, you know, in this hard clay

[00:36:12] Pat:
For sure. And I think the parallel is the hard clay is a, a mindset that’s not open. hardcore. Is a mindset of, I’m a failure. This is a, you know, this is going to be tough and very difficult. And, I’m probably not going to succeed, you know, whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right. it says Henry Ford.

And if you have that, mindset of self doubt and resistance and procrastination, I mean, it’s going to be tough to grow. I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re. Playing in a environment that can support life and have a business for sure. In that way. And, you know, there’s so many, I mean, we could go for years talking about this, honestly, there’s just so many parallels for sure, but I love what you said about just even knowing somebody else.

Who’s a gardener and immediately you’re connected. I talk about that sort of phenomenon in my book. Super fan. Immediately find somebody who’s been doing or know something that you do, you immediately become friends. And this happened at social media marketing world this year. I was introduced to somebody whose husband and her husband is a gardener and that’s how she introduced us.

She was like, you guys would get along and, and he was like, so what are you growing? And I said, well, you know what? I’m kind of actually struggling to get. blueberries in our backyard and he’s like, oh, well you need an acidic oil. And I said, I know that, but I’m having a hard time finding out how to do that.

And he says, sulfur, you need sulfur in your soil to change the acidity level, to benefit, blueberries. And then immediately he’s providing value. And then I’m providing value to him. And we’re immediately like connected in that

[00:37:43] Maria:
And you’ve got each other’s phone numbers and you’re texting each other photos of your blueberries.

[00:37:47] Pat:
There’s just so many cool things that can happen when you connect with somebody who’s who’s on a similar plane.

[00:37:52] Maria:
Totally. And one thing with mindset too, that, that I’ve noticed a huge change. And I also have lists of Planty affirmations in my book. So I do think with mindset. Man having that mindset is so important as an entrepreneur and looking to nature to remind you of that is really cool. one thing I have in my office and all over my house is heart shaped plants.

Most tropical leaves are heart-shaped. So when I see a heart shaped. My trigger is I have to say something I’m thankful for just all throughout the day. And it just helps me return to gratitude. Right. And then actually we’re in my office right now. I’ve posted all over my office with affirmations, but my big affirmation for 2022, what year are we in?

2022 is I’m courageously unfurling. And this ma this, this visual in my head, I think for some people to the thought of a seed germinating could be really powerful. The thought of those first two leaves coming out of the soil. And then the second two leaves, you know, that could be a really powerful visual, I mean, figure out whatever works for you, right.

This thought of being a leaf that is slowly unfurling. And if you have houseplants, if you, if you’ve watched leaves, like there’s always that one degree angle that they could just open up a little bit more and you watch them follow the sun. And it’s just this really cool thing. So that’s just kind of. My visual for myself this year, as you know, I get to come out with this book and have my garden society grow and, and all of those things.

And I also think too, like with dormancy, like one in 2021, a huge mantra I said is, I honor my dormancy, you know, things were, I was kind of in this weird, stuck moment as an entrepreneur and personally, and you know, you need winter before. That in itself, like for entrepreneurs allow yourself to have winter before spring comes it’s okay.

Like spring will come, you know?

[00:39:50] Pat:
So good. So good. So many incredible life lessons coming from this.

Thank you so much, Maria. I appreciate you. Here is the book right here. It’s called Growing Joy. You could find it anywhere where books are being sold, is that right?

[00:40:03] Maria:
Yes. Yes. Thank you, in advance, for pre-orders. By the time this episode airs we might have some fun incentives going on. So, I welcome everyone. You could visit, and we’ll have the book. We’ll have the plant parent personality. I have a really fun download, Nine Ways to Green Up Your Office. It goes beyond what you and I talked about today. If this conversation inspired you, and you want more of the science and more practices, you’re welcome to go grab that download.

[00:40:33] Pat:
Thank you so much. And the podcast that people should follow, what’s the name?

[00:40:36] Maria:
Yeah, come visit me. Come over and listen. If you want to be a plant person, like me and Pat, we have both house plant and outdoor gardening for every single level, Bloom and Grow Radio. It’s streaming on all of your favorite podcast players. If you’re ready to take it to the next level, and get monthly personalized advice and in-depth lectures, you’re welcome to join my virtual garden society as well.

[00:41:00] Pat:
Amazing, Maria. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us, and having this discussion with me. This was super fun. We’ll have to do it again some time, and good luck on your community, and the book, and all the exciting things you have going on. It’s your time to shine and bloom, obviously. So, keep it up and we’ll talk soon.

I hope you enjoyed that interview with Maria. I could just talk to her for hours about this stuff because there are so many fun things with relation to gardening and planting and entrepreneurship that we could just jam on. I hope you enjoyed our jam session here. If you want to check out all the goodies, including the plant personality tests and some other fun things that she has for you, head over to that’s

You can always, of course, check out the show notes for this particular episode at We mentioned SPI Pro a few times. This is the caliber of people who are in there who are not just amazing people, but are there to serve and support each other, and to help and to get help.

It’s just an amazing community. We want to make sure it’s the right fit for you, too. If you want to apply and check it out, you can go to SPI and you can fill out that application. We’ll let you know when that open enrollment period happens. We do that once a quarter, and if it’s not the right fit don’t worry. We guide you so that later on in life it’ll become the right fit and we can point you in the right direction to get to the point where it would make sense for you.

It’s just such an amazing community. I’m so, so grateful that Maria was able to come on today. I hope that you will give it a chance, too. Again,

Thank you so much, and to Maria, bless you. I appreciate you. I’m looking forward to chatting with you again soon. Hopefully maybe seeing each other in person and doing some fun gardening things together. That’d be super cool.

Until then, to everybody, thank you so much. Hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already. I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Until then, cheers, peace out, and as always, Team Flynn for the win.

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