Wendy Stevens’ Journey From All-American Lacrosse Champion to “Accidental Multiple Seven-Figure Online Marketer”

by Ari Schonbrun

Wendy Stevens’ Journey From All-American Lacrosse Champion to “Accidental Multiple Seven-Figure Online Marketer”



Coach Wendy Stevens is an in-demand marketing consultant, gifted speaker, a popular trainer at live events, a coach, and a mentor. Her fast-paced, authentic style inspires audiences while motivating them to take action! Your audience or team will be empowered by knowing they can overcome their own personal obstacles, create success to buy back their time, and live their best life. https://coachwendystevens.com/


Episode Transcription:


Ari: Welcome to whispers and bricks. My name is Ari Schonbrun and I’m your hosts. My guest today is Wendy Stevens. Wendy was a walk on for the University of Maryland women’s lacrosse program and became a three time all American MVP and NCAA champion in 1986. She represented the USA internationally in 1987 88. As a member of the US squad,Vanderbilt University hired Wendy in 1992 as the first head of women’s lacrosse coach, and she built the program into one of the elite programs in the nation within two years. To this day, many people still refer to her as Coach Stevens. In October of 2000. Wendy was one of the first 200 Google AdWords certified specialists catapulting her guerilla marketing career. Wendy has coached and trained more than 80,000 people in 136 countries to master the art of guerilla marketing, lead generation and sales. 


Wendy co authored the best of guerilla marketing with the late great Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerilla marketing, and well known marketing author Seth Godin, with over 21 million copies sold. Forbes named his brilliant masterpiece The original Guerilla Marketing 1986 as quote one of the best 100 business books ever written and, quote, she launched her first podcast in 2014 Guerilla Marketing to women to new and noteworthy status on iTunes. Wendy has also consulted, launched and marketed shows for Dr. Daniel Ayman Sharon Lechter, co author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and Matthew Knowles, the father of international music sensation, Beyonce. She recently developed a seven sexy guerilla marketing strategies for podcast promotion, and her new book, bounce back, recover your confidence to win big in business and in life, to be published by Rich Dad publishing in 2021. Please help me welcome Wendy Stevens. Wendy, how are you today? 


Wendy: I am fantastic. Alright, thank you so much for having me.


Ari: Oh, man, it was really my pleasure. Listen, I gotta tell you, that is one incredible resume that you’ve got out there. That’s congrats on everything, all of your accomplishments, etc. It’s just amazing. I have to be honest.


Wendy: Well, thank you. Thank you. 


Ari: I can’t imagine that your brothers are better than you or you have to read your resume. I mean, there’s just no way. I mean, you are like on top of the world, they would do something from that. That’s incredible to me


Wendy: Well, thank you. Thank you. 


Ari: I can’t imagine that your brothers are better than you or you have to read your resume. I mean, there’s just no way. I mean, you are like on top of the world, they would do something from that. That’s incredible to me.


Wendy: Someone asked earlier, just it’s like applies to this. I hit me like that. Can I Sure. I have just one brother. And by the way, wow. He was a international caliber soccer player, incredible athlete. He taught me to dribble left, right from wrong, like the most amazing influence in my life. He’s important part of my upcoming book, but someone asked me earlier I was 16 years old, when my brother was hit by a drunk driver. And my mother started the first East Coast chapter of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk drivers. My brother was in the hospital for years shot trauma in Baltimore, happened in 1980. And then my brother was in shock trauma, the Halo, you know, drilled the head that where they flip you and I watched my brother shrink, shrivel, like within an inch of his life. And over that year, I watched him learn to swallow, walk and talk again. And that one of them Barri actually really taught me that, you know, I really couldn’t whine complain about anything, that given that experience, to look at it and watch it and go, I don’t have to do anything. But I get to do things right. I get to learn I get to walk on No, really. And when I think about you and whispers and bricks, like I can’t even imagine coming back from the horror that you went through. I just think at a soul level it would have just destroyed me at some level. So I don’t even know how you come back from something like that. But watch me watching my brother was horrible at the time. A gift now talking to him last night talking about this Super Bowl. You know, it’s we all have beautiful things to be grateful for and that for me is definitely one of them.


Ari: Wow. So you borrow beat me to the punch because that is definitely one of the bricks that hit you. So as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks. Now the whispers of those voices telling you what is the right thing to do, and represents the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And we all go through things in life. Nobody gets away without getting hit by a brick. I just don’t believe it. I think everybody goes through it. It just depends on how bad it is. Anyway, I know that you’re a top tier athlete in college lacrosse followed up by being a top tier coach, women’s lacrosse at William and Mary Vanderbilt University. Oh, at Vanderbilt, sorry, you’re the CEO of guerrilla marketing, you have helped 1000s of people across 136 countries, you’ve helped entrepreneurs build sales funnels that have led to millions of dollars in sales. You’re a top tier motivational speaker, the list goes on and on. On the surface, it looks and sounds like you’ve had a great life and a great career. However, we all know that life is not a straight line. There are many ups and downs, many bumps in the road. My listeners would like to know, what was some of the struggles and or failures that you had, you know, some of the bricks that you got hit with when you were starting out your career and throughout your career. Tell us about it. You know,


Wendy: Alright, it’s a great question. And one of the other really formative things that was 10 years old, went to friend school in Baltimore, again, I have these accomplished brothers and sisters and anyone that’s ever struggled in life with I’m not good enough question that would hit me pretty hard to come home from school. And all of my papers already were covered in red. I think I’m the only person I know that got f minus and read on a bunch of papers. am supremely dyslexic, super add. And I remember being called into my dad’s office, which is like a fate worse than death. You know, the mahogany walls, love sliding ladder. So I’m like practically shaking going in with this horrible paper again, and I am sure that I am going to really get the I’m so disappointed Newtok, like I beat myself up before I went through the door. So I burst into tears. And my dad goes, let me see your paper. You’re a great writer. You’re an amazing writer. And I’m like, you know? And he was like, Listen, this is called a Dictaphone back in the day, right? Yeah. And I picked it, I give it to my secretary, and blah, blah, blah. So listen, I can’t spell either. Well, here’s my dad, who has medical textbooks that are still used in medical schools. And so all of a sudden, I’m getting this other view. And he goes, Wendy, you need to know that you can mow lawns, you can polish silver for your mom, you can make the money and find a friend that can check your papers, the only thing that will stop you from being successful, is being resourceful and being you. So get out of your own way, figure out a way to get some help. And you can be great. So I was like, I’m gonna be a great writer. And he just put that into me spoke that into that was whisper. He spoke that into me, what I perceived as a brick was, I’m ashamed. I feel bad. I’m not good enough. And he helped me reframe it and see it a different way. So I had actually used the spelling and the add as a brick myself, I was beating myself up with it, really. And he just taught me that that was an opportunity. So that was a really formative time for me to


Ari: wow, wow, what led you into guerilla marketing? You know, looking at you and your resume, certainly in the beginning, I would have thought that you would have been, you know, sports all over the place, you know, everything to do with sports, maybe a coach and on a college team. And here you are a very, very successful marketing person, you know, how did that happen? How did that come about? And again, what were some of the things that actually and I’m sure they were that actually held you back at some point in time?


Wendy: Yep. It’s another great question. It’s a classic single mom answer. And that is my mom was also one of the most amazing people in the world. And she was just so much fun. She made life fun. And so one of the things I wanted to be more than anything, was a fun loving mom that I wanted that so much. The greatest thing my ex husband gave me was I was able to be home and raise my kids. We went through a pretty brutal divorce when Hayley was eight, Beau was 10. And I got into marketing, because I didn’t want someone else to call the shots. Their dad is a good guy and loves her kids. It’s not about that just family expectations. Someone else was going to decide where were my children went to school, what zip code I lived in, and that was part of the difficult part of our marriage. So for me, two beautiful children, and they go to a kindergarten that costs more per year, each one of them than I was making for the first time in the workforce. So that dog wasn’t going to hunt. Alright, So I literally answered an ad. And the ad was director of sales, no travel, I wanted to be home full time. So I answered that and I bumped into a Google AdWords workshop, I was one of the first 200 Google AdWords certified specialists in October of 2000. Now, I had a skill set. To be influential I, I was taught to sort of do that one of the ways I coped going through life being add and feeling not good enough was I watched my parents and how they move with different circles, my mother getting legislation passed with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I learned how to communicate and be influential. And so then, by paying close attention to language, I learned how to use copy what to say and how to say it to move people through customer journey. And that’s what I did with Google AdWords. So in the end, I was an accidental marketer. I bumped into the very first workshop, I bumped into a guy named Perry Marshall, who was the most epic AdWords guy, as we went along. And he and I were at the same table, and then he and I go, Well, now that we’ve learned how to do this, maybe we should learn how to write copy. And we went to the next week, a Dan Kennedy workshop that was like six people with folding chairs. So I bumped into Grand Masters Ari grandmasters, so I’m super grateful. All I did was I kept showing up, a blind squirrel finds nuts every once in a while, and if you keep moving, you find more and all I did was keep paddling, ultimately bumps into Jay Levinson, the father of guerilla marketing, and kind of the rest is history.


Ari: Wow. No, I know that, you know, your family life has not always been the best. Let’s talk about a little bit. I think we off air. We had mentioned to me that you had an issue with your brother who had been in a in a horrific car accident. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What would that was like for you?


Wendy: Sure. Sure. So my brother was my Camelot. He was my big protector, coach, mentor, you name it. He’s 10 years older than I am. And I was the baby of five. So I was his last chance to have a little brother. Apparently when mom brought me home put me in the basket in the dining room table. Chris ran upstairs crying because it was his last chance. Right? And then I would wake up to footballs and other things and he would take me outside. He just schooled me. The beautiful part was he also opened doors for me and took me out to dinner and treat me like a lady like he taught me both sides of the ball, let’s say to this day is one of the most beautiful people in my life. So what happened that accent? We never know? Oh, gosh, I actually didn’t plan this answer. Just thought about you going into New York that day. My parents were in Spain. My father was doing a sabbatical. I’m going to bed and the next morning, I’m going to take off for the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I’m staying at my parents home. My brother and I didn’t kiss each other goodbye for the first time it can ever remember. We were just you know, we were kind of in a snit about who was the last person to use the sailboat because the last person had to put it away. No kidding. And so Chris leaves and we don’t say goodbye to each other. And then I get a call at three o’clock in the morning. And it was a Maryland State Trooper that there had been this accident I was quite disoriented, to know where I was, what they needed me to come down and identify him. Keep in mind, they think they’re calling Jean and Felix heeled and I’m answering the phone. So I call my sister in DC who fortunately had connections, the State Department, she got a home the State Department so they met my parents when they landed in Madrid. I drive down to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which in 1980, you know, at three in the morning in Baltimore wasn’t the nicest place in the world. I go in, and they’re literally watches and wallets and plastic bags. And it’s not pretty. Either when you see that and my brothers, and also tell the truth. You know, what happens with that kind of a compound injury, skull fracture, you know, the ears come out here, the swelling is just enormous. And so I don’t even recognize who this is on this journey. And I couldn’t identify him actually at all. Compound fractures. Just suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty. And it was only my sister and who came later that recognize the mole on my brother’s abdomen that she couldn’t even identify. You know, it was a was one of those moments I definitely promised myself I would never gosh, I get choked up and it’s 40 years later, whatever. I promised myself, I would never not say goodbye to someone I love. I promise I would never hold back from telling someone how much I really love them. So that was part of the impact for me.


Ari: Wow. And it’s so interesting. You know, I have a lot of guests on my show. And there is a common thread and that is one of them where after the horrific event happens It’s you know, the response is always the same. And that’s like, you know, from that day on, I never not said goodbye or kiss my wife or kiss my kids or hug my kids. It seems to be a common thread and I get it, believe me, I get it. Because you say to yourself at the end of the day, you’re so lucky to have him and you know, and thank God, he made a full recovery did he not?


Wendy: He did Wow. Recovery, but little caveat for anyone knows about those kinds of traumatic brain injuries. My brother woke up. And he knew that I was his sister didn’t fully remember the relationship. He woke up to a woman he was engaged to knew who she was didn’t fully remember the relationship. So it was a very difficult time. I’m sure most of all for my parents to adjust to he’s alive. We’re grateful. He’s alive. He’s here. The heartbreak is it was now new and different. Yeah. And, you know, you have to get to a point where you grieve what you lost. Right? We all do. We all even lose people at different levels sometimes, you know. So, we are so lucky. We’re super lucky. There were still things to grieve about that, if that makes any sense.


Ari: Yeah, no, I hear you. And I think you mentioned to me that he was hit by a drunk driver. That’s correct. And how did your mom react to that?


Wendy: My parents went to sentencing I wasn’t there. There was the gentleman that hit my brother had been picked up for drunk driving five previous times over the legal limit. In the hearing, the officer that was supposed to testify, wasn’t there. The judge, the guy got off on a fine like $100 fine or something, only for my parents to find out that that judge had been arrested three times for drunk driving. So my parents were guffawed. They were blown away. And that was when my mom and dad was like, this is never happening to another family. And my mother jumped it, she flew out to the West Coast to meet with Kenny lifestar, who founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving. My mom learned everything she needed to she came back to Maryland, was responsible for passing 274 pieces of legislation between DC Maryland, Virginia. And I remember my mother obituary, that we had three governors of Maryland that came to my mother’s funeral. And just but there was beautiful messages, which were ra there. hundreds, maybe 1000s of people walking around worrying about their children, maybe their marriages, their mortgage, but they’re here, because Jeanne healed, devoted, I remember dissolving into a puddle, because my mom really did make a big difference.


Ari: Wow, wow, that’s wonderful. So and they say that, you know, after the brick, very often, you start to listen to those whispers. And you start to you know, do things and change things. Now, in your professional life and your professional career. Did you ever get to a point so low? That you said to yourself, you know what, I quit? I can’t do this anymore. Sure. No, my dreams are never going to happen. Like, how did you deal with that? And how did you make that comeback?


Wendy: What a great question. I want to snag that one? That’s a great question. So that was a really good one for me. Everyone probably can remember a betrayal at some level. That is actually the hardest part of life for me. I get connected and love working collaborating with cool people. I love being a part of world class teams. That’s why I love playing lacrosse, playing lacrosse championship team at Maryland, coaching at Vanderbilt hiring John Lombardi, even somebody his grandson, I mean, I, I just love associations like that. And I partnered with a world class name, everyone watching this podcast would know their name. Therefore, I won’t say it. This particular person who I definitely looked up to idolize, in a sense, blah, blah, blah. Not going to say too much. So no one can really guess it. Because I mean, I don’t want no one needs to have negative follow up because I have actually forgiven and let go. But to jump in and do a collaboration of someone do a $1.2 million money grab and a merchant account because you know why? It’s theirs. And they can so brutally disappointing. You know, the betrayal. Just all of it was heartbreaking to me because I trusted I jumped in I peddled full out incredible, you know, results in the campaign. And at the end of the day, they had the keys and could grab it. So I don’t think they actually so much meant to completely steal although that’s exactly what happened. In the end, you know, people justify what they do all day long. So that was the most brutal that one. I mean, I was down. I was in the fetal position, but it knocked me over because my belief and faith in people got whacked in a big way. So my very dearest friend on the planet. You’ve heard me mentioned Deborah Torres Patel just sat me down and said like, Hey, so what were the lessons you learned? We went through the lessons we learned. And she helped me everyone’s heard of some version, the exercise, she helped me write it out. I wrote it out all the energy and, you know, because you can get into victim, ah, you know, I just wrote it all out, burn it in a bowl, walked out into the ocean, and let those ashes go. And if you still attached to the drama of it, which I was, Deborah got me on, on a zoom, had me pull up Elsa from Frozen, and made me sing out loud, full of the top of my lungs, let it go. She made me do it. I was like Debra mad. I don’t even want to do this. She’s like, No, you told me what, let it go stand up. So I sing this over and over and over. And when you finally laugh at yourself, about the drama of it. I got to choose either I hold on to the drama and the anger and the I’ve been victimized. Or I really do choose to let it go. Because you know what, I’ve let people down. You know, I’m really it was about letting go of judgment, releasing it. I’ll never trust that person again. But I could see and learn the lessons that cost me 1.2 billion to learn. So anyway, that was an event that knocked me down. And I wish I could say a bounce right up. After that time. And going through those two processes I just shared, I learned to just bounce back up.


Ari: There you go. There you go. That’s wonderful. Let’s see, these are the types of things that my audience wants to hear, because everybody’s going through their own issues. But so many people are going or have gone through exactly what you’ve gone through. That’s the point of my guests on the show that I I get real people that went to real life experiences and and then my audience goes like, oh, so I’m not the only one going through this. Wow. And what did they do? Oh, man, maybe let me try and put that into action. I firmly believe that’s the beauty of this specific podcast. Now let me ask you this. Are you working on any new projects, you got anything coming up in the in the near future?


Wendy: I am, I am working right now. I’ve had amazing world class group of tick tock super races. One gentleman AJ that’s been responsible for 370 million viral views on tick tock organic, the real deal. I love learning from people like that. And we just spend a couple of days really cool campaign that everyone who’s paying attention to the Super Bowl truly is gonna probably bump into this. So I can’t say anything more than that already. Or I’d have to, you know, knock you off. That’s a fun creative campaign I’m working on right now. And actually, I’m releasing seven years ago, I launched my first podcast guerilla marketing to and for women. 10 weeks later, I was faced down with an oxygen mask. And I went through that first open heart surgery which led to an accident, a second open heart surgery, you can still imagine as an athlete, we never knew I had been born with a bicuspid aortic valve. So I had these two open heart surgeries that set me back quite a bit. So now fully restored to health rocking into my legacy. When COVID Hit reo. I had clients from 20 years ago and closer that were like, Hey, remember that YouTube campaign I was talking about? Remember this, remember that all these businesses that had hesitated going full in on, let’s say, an online campaign, all those people who came out of the woodwork, and I realized the way I was gonna really help people bounce back from COVID in any business way or speaker, author, whatever, that I was actually, it was my gift to be able to help people find that business voice and get back out there in a way that made sense for their business model. I realized that was my gift. So I’m launching my own podcasts already called bounce back, bounce back podcast.com. And I’ll be releasing that in in mid March. And they’re inspiring interviews different from yours, but inspiring interviews.


Ari:  I hope you’ll invite me out to be a guest.

Wendy: You’re already signed up to be a guest.


Ari: Oh, wow. How great is that? What’s called the assumptive. Close. All right. You mentioned something about open heart surgery. Like what was that all about?


Wendy: So seven years ago, I kept in the NCAA championship lacrosse program at University of Maryland. I played in the US National Team. And then I was the head lacrosse coach at Vanderbilt. I started the program, ran marathons, great shape and athlete. In fact, my entire identity or till I was 35. Was that I was had been a an athlete, gifted athlete. Yeah. And never done anything in business or hadn’t at that point. So what happened was I’m working out and get a feeling a little short of breath. So I go to Vanderbilt, we do this echocardiogram and my best friend who runs hematology there came in, and I’m like, Oh, look at that cool video up there. And she’s like, I’m like, that’s really cool. And she’s like, not really, because you have two vowels. And you’re supposed to have three. I was born with two and they closed perfectly already. So I was asymptomatic. It’s just that by the time you hit 52, valves doing the work of three were out sooner. So I went to the world famous Cleveland Clinic in Ohio with a guy who puts NFL and NBA players back in the court. Somehow, somewhere there was an accident and they perforated my aorta. That first year that first surgery was August of 2014. We have is regurgitating backflow. And we didn’t discover what happened until end of 2016. His second Open Art March of 2017. So are you ready? I’m a member of the double zipper club. Not one, but two, a little Bionic Woman, little Wonder Woman, because I’ve got a pacemaker mechanical valve defibrillator. And I’m super grateful. Because I’m here, right? Nothing to complain about. I’m here. And I also know I’m here for a reason, because the way it happened is kind of nutty. But it also makes me mindful, sorry, to do projects that really matter. And so that’s why, you know, showing up and having a conversation with you is a no brainer, because I love who you are. I love how you move through this world. And I know that you’re actually out to make a difference. So that’s fine.


Ari: Well, thank you, I appreciate that. Before we go, is there anything that you’d like to share with my audience, words of wisdom, or, you know, any thing that you can leave them with?


Wendy: The very best way really, truly is to go to https://bouncebackpodcast.com/, and you can go and you can ask Wendy there’s Ask Wendy A. Question. If you have a question, you can ask me any question you like at bounceback podcast comm at the bottom, you can click and actually speak a question to me and when I get to it, I’ll actually answer you back in my own voice be happy. If anyone has a question about, you know if it’s guerilla marketing, anything at all I am happy to be of service.


Ari: Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story with my audience. Good luck going forward. It’s been wonderful. And I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing. You were listening to whispers and bricks. I’m your host Ari Schonbrun Until next time, listen to the whispers never give up on your dreams. Bye for now.


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First 3 Chapters of Miracles & Fate on 78

The Incredible Story of Coach Wendy Stevens.

A superb athlete, Wendy enjoyed stellar success as a college lacrosse player at the University of Maryland and as the first coach of the Vanderbilt University Women’s Lacrosse team.

She later went on to accomplish great things in the world of business and online marketing. She is an author, in-demand speaker and world-renowned Guerrilla Marketing expert. She has taught more than 80,000 people in 136 countries how to master the art of Guerrilla Marketing .


This episode of the Whispers and Bricks podcast reveals


  • The influence and impact Wendy’s parents and her accomplished older siblings had on her life at a young age
  • Her mom’s inspiring and determined response to her brother’s tragic car accident
  • A powerful but often overlooked success tip that helped Wendy meet and work with a Guerrilla Marketing legend and get to where she is today
  • Why she decided to pursue marketing as a business
  • How she learned to communicate to her customers with more power and influence

Wendy is well acquainted with winning and success. But as I mentioned a moment ago, she’s been hit by more than a few bricks. These include a brutal divorce, a shocking betrayal by a trusted business associate and two open-heart surgeries.

Her story is a powerful reminder to anyone who will listen that everyone gets hit. Everyone falls down at some point. Wendy got back up, bounced back and kept going. 

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