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John David Mann

The Woman behind The Secret

A Conversation with Rhonda Byrne, producer of The Secret

By John David Mann

A few years ago, Rhonda Byrne was a reasonably successful television producer in Australia. Her life had begun to feel like it was careening out of control, when she was unexpectedly introduced to a slim 1910 volume entitled The Science of Getting Rich. Those who’ve seen The Secret know what happened next. Her story and the film that grew out of it have become one of the most popular self-improvement-related DVDs of all time, with spin-offs including a book and soundtrack CD. Rhonda’s life has become the epicenter of a global media/personal development phenomenon.

Getting an interview with Rhonda wasn’t easy. After weeks of trying to make it happen, her L.A.-based publicist finally wedged me into a half-hour slot pilfered from a sacrosanct day of much-coveted down time with friends and family in Australia. When I reached her on the phone, I told her how much I appreciated her letting me steal a half-hour of her life.

“That’s okay,” she laughed. “You must have done some powerful attracting. I don’t do many interviews. It’s not that I don’t love doing them, there are just so many requests that I have to say no. I need to keep my time freed up for creating more. I don’t know how you set this up, but well done!”

I replied to her that we have a very interesting and unique readership—and that must be what made it happen. That, and the Law of Attraction. I think she liked hearing that. — J.D.M.

Rhonda, was doing The Secret the fulfillment of all the reasons you got into television—or a completely radical departure?

Most people would look at the work I was doing and see The Secret as a completely new direction, but I know differently. Everything that I did before was preparing me for producing The Secret and taking it out to the world. This didn’t just suddenly come along out of nowhere. The Secret was always there, waiting quietly in the wings for me to find it at exactly the right time.

If somebody had interviewed you back in 2002 or 2003 or when you were doing “Loves Me, Loves Me Not” or “Sensing Murder,” and asked, “Rhonda, why are you in television?” what would you have said then?

I didn’t realize this at the time, but when I look back at all the original concepts I created for television, whether it was the “World’s Greatest Commercials” that made me laugh or “Marry Me,” or “Loves Me, Loves Me Not,” everything we did was created to make audiences feel genuinely good.

“Sensing Murder” was different; it wasn’t an original concept of mine. During 2004 my team and I produced six films in the “Sensing Murder” series, and it was absolutely grueling. Dealing with the subject of murder and talking with the families of the victims, it was all so painful and difficult.

At the same time, everything in my life was completely falling apart. It all kept building in a massive crescendo that culminated in that moment we portray at the beginning of The Secret.

Within the first minute of the DVD, and also in the first paragraph of the book version, you say, “Out of this greatest despair, came this greatest discovery.” Denis Waitley once told me that he wrote The Psychology of Winning at a moment in his life when he was absolutely losing in every aspect of his life.

And it’s such a shame, because no one needs to get to that place. We seem to think that we have to suffer and struggle to receive something. We don’t. Simply by our existence, by virtue of our being here on this earth, we deserve everything.

But we have the weight of centuries of humanity dumped upon us. It’s not just our teachers and our parents, it’s the whole history of humankind that has piled all these feelings of unworthiness on us. So we think we have to hit rock-bottom before we can see the magnificence of life.

The beauty of The Secret is that it is an invitation to those people who are asking for life to be better. It’s an invitation to see how magnificent life is without having to hit rock-bottom.

Why do you think you had to get to that desperate place?

Oh, I know why I went there, and I’m sure this is a very common experience: I was letting my mind control me. Whenever anything went wrong in my life, my mind would kick into gear to fix it. Problems would come, and I would think I had to solve them. I was spending my whole life fixing things.

I had to be hit hard, from every direction and in everything that mattered to me, to get to the point where my mind could not work out how to fix it—and then, in the moment of my mind giving up, I allowed the truth to come into my heart.

Because you can never receive the truth of life through your mind. You can only receive it through your heart. The love in your heart is greater than any force in the universe. This is a universe of pure love, and each of us has an incredible ability to love. But most of us aren’t experiencing even a tiny drop of what we’re capable of experiencing in love.

Gratitude is a form and an expression of love. You can’t feel gratitude with your mind; you can only feel it with your heart. That’s why gratitude is so powerful. And as you feel gratitude, you can feel everything completely shift.

There is this magical moment in the DVD where you get the note from your daughter saying, “Here, Mommy, this will help.” This is actually quite close to what really happened, isn’t it?

Yes it is. Everything in the film is exactly how it happened. My life had collapsed and my father had just died. In fact, it wasn’t his death that was tearing at me so much as the utter grief and pain of my mother.

It all culminated on this one particular day in 2004. My accountant called to tell me, “You’ve run a terrible loss and you’re going to be broke in a month”—and I still had one and a half films to finish. I’d been working around the clock for days, sleeping in the edit suite. All the relationships in my life were falling apart.

At the end of this awful day, I got a phone call from my mother. She was in tears and said she just didn’t want to go on. I was too far away to be able to see her or help her. I felt completely powerless. My little mind just couldn’t fix it.

When my daughter Hayley found me, I was sitting and sobbing. In the film we have me taking the book out of a suitcase with a note on it, but she actually handed it to me. When she saw me sobbing she asked what was wrong, and I started listing off this long litany—it’s this, and it’s this, and it’s this…

She looked at me with utter nonchalance and said, “Oh, it’ll be okay.”

Through my sobbing I said, “You don’t understand! I’m not okay!”

She walked out to another room, came back with a book and handed it to me, and she said, “Read this, Mama, this’ll help. The last page is missing, but you’ll get the hang of it.” And she walked away.

And the book was Wallace Wattles’ The Science of Getting Rich?

That’s right. I sat there still in tears, couldn’t even move. But something had me open the book, and as I began to read the words, I felt a flame light inside me. It was like a glimpse of the truth—just a glimpse—and I knew that I needed to know more.

I went back to Hayley and asked her where she got this book—and she told me that she was just returning the favor I’d shown her.

Six months earlier, she had been in total despair herself. She had broken up with her boyfriend and came sobbing to my apartment. As I sat there comforting her, something had moved me to go get her a book to read. I found a book on my bookshelf and brought it back to her.

What was that book?

It was You Can Heal Yourself, by Louise Hay. I handed it to Hayley and said, “Darling, if you don’t feel like reading this, it’s fine. If you do, great. I think it might help.”

And I hadn’t even read this book myself! It was on my bookshelf because someone else had given it to me. Handing it to Hayley just seemed like the right thing to do. That book became her bible, and it started her on a journey of reading all sorts of books. Which is how she came to have a copy of Wallace Wattles with her six months later, at just the moment when I needed it.

When you came to the U.S. to shoot The Secret, is it true that you had only one interview lined up?

Actually, we had one that was a faint possibility. That was it. It was a complete leap of faith.

I had called the team together at the beginning of 2005 and told them, “We’re going to make the greatest film ever made in the history of the planet to date.”

How did they react?

They sat there with blank faces. I’m sure they all thought, “Okay, Rhonda’s had such a hard year that she’s finally just lost it.”

For the next eight weeks, I shared with them everything I’d come to know at that point. Then we started talking about how we could bring this to the screen. One day, out of the blue, I told them, “I’ve got to go to the States,” and they began preparing to follow me. I flew to Los Angeles and booked myself into a hotel for two nights, trusting that I would know where to go from there.

The morning after I arrived, I got a slew of phone calls from Chicago. None of them had anything to do with The Secret, but I knew that Chicago was where I needed to go next. Once I arrived in Chicago, I started getting calls from people who had heard about the project. I didn’t even know how they could have possibly heard, but they had.

This is fascinating, because many of the greats of the last hundred years were based in Chicago. Wallace Wattles wrote The Science of Getting Rich after his life changed from one night in Chicago.

Earl Nightingale was in Chicago.

Right, and so many others, including W. Clement Stone. Although I didn’t know any of this until long after I’d gone there.

Every teacher I talked to asked me how I had discovered The Secret, and when I told them the story of what had happened, they dropped everything and flew in to meet with us. They didn’t know who we were. They didn’t know our production values or anything about us. They just knew to go. Many of them were booked a year in advance, but they just came, some of them flying in from as far away as Europe. It was amazing.

My team flew over to join me, and within seven weeks from the day I first set foot in the United States we had filmed fifty-five teachers and had 120 hours of film.

Did you do all the shooting in Chicago?

We filmed a few in Chicago and the rest in Aspen and Los Angeles.

How did you find Bob Proctor?

Ah. When I came to the United States I had read his book, You Were Born Rich by Bob Proctor, on the flight over. I knew I really wanted to have him in The Secret. But you see, it wasn’t up to me. I didn’t go out and solicit these teachers. We just had complete faith, and the people who showed up, showed up.

And Bob Proctor wasn’t coming.

When we got to Aspen, I mentioned to my production manager that it was really strange that Bob Proctor hadn’t come. She called his office in Toronto and reached his assistant Gina. She said that we were over from Australia, making this film.

Gina said, “Oh gosh, Bob is so booked out. It sounds wonderful, but…whereabouts are you?” My production manager said, “We’re in Aspen.” And Gina said, “Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m going to have to call you back.”

Because as it turned out, Bob Proctor was at that very moment in Aspen.

I love it!

He hadn’t been to Aspen for five years, but he had flown there now for two days to do an event—and once he got there, he learned that the event was cancelled. There he was, wondering why the heck he was sitting there in Aspen, when the call from Gina came through.

Amazing! Rhonda, these principles have been around forever, and there have been some cinematic efforts, such as Pay It Forward and What the Bleep Do We Know, to bring some of them forward. But The Secret seems to be the breakthrough production. Why now?

There are so many reasons. One of them is simply that we are ready for it now. Another is that it had to be created from a special place, with a singular intention. It had to be created with no expectation of return, but just to give from the love in our hearts, to share with the world.

From the initial impulse through to all the teachers who participated, it was produced and created from the purest place. That’s why The Secret is doing what it’s doing. When people watch it and experience that singular voice, that beautiful orchestra of all the teachers and the wisdom they’re sharing, there is something there beyond what you can feel with your senses: that is a pure essence of love.

People watch it and something incredible happens to them. They feel the joy and love within it and they want to share it with everyone they know. It’s beyond our senses. It’s the love in people’s hearts that is taking The Secret all around the world.

You’ve talked about the huge numbers of people who have related the experiences they’ve had after watching The Secret. Can you share one or two that have most touched you?

There are so many stories coming that I can’t read them all—I’d have to spend all day every day doing nothing else. But I have my team send me four or five stories every single day, because I want to stay in touch with everything that’s happening to people.

Early on, there was a ten-year-old boy who was clinically depressed and suicidal. He was being bullied at school and was seeing a psychiatrist every week. His mother showed him The Secret, and in the moment of watching it, he suddenly saw everything in a different way.

Over the following three weeks, he stopped being bullied at school and started to become popular. It just so happened that his psychiatry appointments were cancelled for three consecutive weeks, for a variety of unrelated reasons—accidental double-bookings, things like that. Circumstances arose to cancel his appointments—which allowed him, instead of focusing on his problems, to stay focused on this new way of being that was unfolding for him.

On the fourth week, when his mother took him to his appointment, the psychiatrist couldn’t believe what she saw, and she took him off the medications.

Another story came in from a mother whose daughter was dying. She showed the girl The Secret and the child began making a full recovery the next day.

There was a person who’d been in a severe accident and couldn’t walk, who walked twenty footsteps the morning after watching The Secret.

We’ve heard from people who were in chronic pain for as long as twenty years and had the pain disappear as they watched The Secret.

There are people whose businesses were about to go under, who in just one week’s time saw their businesses completely transformed, making more profit in that one week than they made in the entire previous history of the company.

We’ve seen many cases of estranged relationships become reconciled. There was one man who was divorced and wasn’t able to see his children unless the visit was supervised. He was a beautiful man and only wanted the best for his children, but his wife had remarried and there were strains in the relationship. As he watched The Secret, he began to see how he’d been pushing against his circumstances. He was doing just what I had been doing: trying to fix things with his brain.

As he realized this, he closed his eyes and let himself feel being with his children. The very next day, he got a call from his ex-wife’s new husband to say that they had had a talk…and they wondered if he would like to have the children for the weekend.

He let go.

Exactly—and all that estrangement just disappeared.

We heard another story of two sisters who had been estranged for twenty-five years. The woman who had cut herself off from her sister saw Michael Beckwith speak on The Secret. She knew that her estranged sister went to Agape, Michael’s spiritual center in California. She picked up the phone, called her sister and then flew out to see her—after twenty-five years of not speaking. The two of them went to Agape together to meet Michael, and later Michael called me to tell me that The Secret had brought them back together.

Rhonda, thank you so much for your time and for sharing all these stories.

You’ve given me an opportunity to share some things that I’ve not shared before, and I want to thank you so much for that.

A Gift from Rhonda Byrne

The Bank of the Universe has unlimited abundance, available to you right now.
Only a few throughout the history of mankind knew of the unlimited abundance that was theirs for the asking.
You must believe that you can receive it, so take small steps with the amounts if that feels more believable to you.
Place the check in a prominent position where you will see it every day.
Every time you look at the check, believe and feel that you have the money now!

Click on check above to pull-up large pdf version.
Print, then cut out the check, fill in your name and the amount you wish to receive.

Since "The Secret Revealed" issue of Networking Times is sold out on the newsstand, we will give it to you for the price of shipping.


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