Poet and writer Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” And Taylor Swift said, “People haven’t always been there for me, but music always has.”
My guest today is extremely thoughtful and has so much to say with her words and her songs, and it’s always a joy to have her on the podcast! Rachel Platten is an Emmy Award winner, author, and multi-platinum selling recording artist. Rachel joined me here on Episode 572 of The School of Greatness, and today, she’s back!
You’ll know her best from her powerful hit songs such as “Fight Song,” “Stand By You,” and many more! She topped countless radio and iTunes charts worldwide and has even written a children’s book based on her song “You Belong.” She released a new song called “Soldiers,” which is truly inspiring, and everyone should go check it out after listening to this podcast.
Rachel is always willing to open up and talk about some of the harsh realities that she faces as a mom, a wife, and a performer, while also giving gratitude for the opportunities, joys, and successes that she sees in her life every day. This is a really powerful interview, especially for anyone who struggles with panic and anxiety, motherhood, postpartum depression, and staying true to yourself, or for anyone who wants to take a deep dive into their own self-worth and identity.
In this interview, Rachel and I dove deep into her highs and lows as an artist. We talked about what she does to stay positive even when she releases music that takes a lot of time to gain traction, and we talked about the power of recentering on ourselves and using visualization to get what we want in life. I learned so much from this interview, and I think you will too.
Rachel Platten is the Emmy Award-winning singer-songwriter behind such hits as “Fight Song” and “Stand By You.” She is a powerful and emotional songwriter, and her music has inspired millions of people to stay strong and fight through even the toughest circumstances.
Rachel released her first two albums, Trust In Me and Be Here, independently, but in 2015 she signed with Columbia Records and debuted her first single, “Fight Song,” which became the official anthem of Hilary Clinton’s 2016 Democratic Presidential Campaign. She also won a Daytime Emmy Award for her live performance of “Fight Song” on Good Morning America.
Rachel was born in New York City and raised in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. She began her musical career early by starting piano lessons at age five, and in high school, she picked up the guitar. After graduating from college in 2003, she moved to Greenwich Village and began performing with a Prince and Sly and the Family Stone cover band called Dayz of Wild. She also started performing her solo music and eventually started touring with her own music.
In 2010, Rachel married her husband, Kevin, and in 2018, they announced they were expecting a girl. In January 2019, she gave birth to Violet Skye Lazan, and Lauren has been rocking both the stage and motherhood ever since.
Rachel has faced her share of challenges on her way to the top. She understands the hardships of trying to generate traction around her music and continuing to be a working musician and a new mother at the same time. Her story is inspiring, and I absolutely loved talking to her again — I know you’ll love this episode, too!
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rachel hit it big almost overnight — she spent years traveling around and making almost no money, and then she got a call from Taylor Swift. Within three short months, Rachel was playing to stadiums full of 60,000 fans who knew her song. What must that have been like?
“It was a very bizarre change of life from like playing in my van to ten people … to 60,000 people within three months.” – Rachel Platten
For a while, Rachel was on top of the world. She was playing to huge crowds, and she was finally living out her dream. She’s faced plenty of challenges since then, but that was the moment that really launched her to stardom. So how does Rachel remain grounded and authentic even though her life is very different now?
“I was doing so much work on myself. I was reading constantly things to fill my soul. I was meditating. I was journaling constantly. I was doing a lot of charity work. I was giving a lot, and … I had [an] amazing community around of my people reminding me, ‘Rachel, stop. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to go after. It matters what’s here now.’” – Rachel Platten
Let me ask you something: What are you doing to fill your soul? Are you spending time meditating? Do you keep a journal? Do you give back to your community? Do you have people around you to support you and keep you grounded when you succeed? Those things are essential. Rachel would agree — if you don’t have a solid spiritual practice to keep your mind and spirit grounded, you can find yourself straying further and further away from your truth.
Rachel’s definitely experienced that. She admitted to me during our conversation that there was a time when she was on tour in London when, to be honest, she started acting rudely toward her team. She canceled a lot of events that they had worked hard to prepare, and she wasn’t acting or speaking out of gratitude. It took a lot of self-work and spiritual practices for Rachel to get grounded again and relearn to be grateful for her experiences.
Of course, not all of Rachel’s struggles have been self-inflicted. About a year ago, Rachel gave birth to her first child, Violet. But after giving birth, Rachel started to experience symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. While she was on tour, she experienced regular panic attacks, and she struggled to cope with being a new mom and a touring artist at the same time.
“That was like my real dark night of the soul, last summer. The darkest it’s ever gotten for me was having panic attacks being out on stage with an arena full of people and having a panic attack right before I went on stage because I can’t control anything, and my breast milk is diminishing, and I’m going to have to give her formula and then guilt over that…” – Rachel Platten
Rachel went through some extremely difficult times, but something incredible happened. She started being honest about her struggles and sharing her experiences with postpartum anxiety with her audiences, and her authenticity resonated with many of the women who heard her message.
“I heard from thousands of women being like, … ‘Thank you so much for talking about your postpartum on stage. I’ve never heard it talked about in public. Thank you so much for doing that.’ Like, that was surprising.” – Rachel Platten
By sharing her difficult experiences with the world, Rachel was able to reach thousands of women who had experienced similar struggles. I truly admire her for allowing herself to be vulnerable in front of so many people — by showing people who she truly is, she’s making the world a better place.
What’s your story? What hardships have you overcome? I want to encourage you to share them with those closest to you, and, if you feel comfortable, a larger audience. You never know who you could impact or empower just by authentically sharing your story of overcoming resistance or difficulty.
Even now, with her postpartum mental health issues behind her, Rachel still struggles from time to time with her two identities as an artist and a mother. Balancing those two sides of herself can get difficult. I asked Rachel what she’s learned about how to strike that balance, and her answer was simply, “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know. It’s … really tough, but I’m glad you’re asking because I don’t know. … I’m still trying to find that balance. … Today, I felt a tug of guilt that … I didn’t get to pick her up [from] preschool today. … And yet I have felt not fulfilled artistically the past two weeks because we moved houses and I’ve been all-in like with her. … I don’t know that moms ever figured that [balance] out.” – Rachel Platten
But even though it can be difficult to feel completely fulfilled all the time, there are things you can do to stay centered. For Rachel, it’s mostly about continuing to do her daily spiritual practices to bring out her inner light and joy.
“This morning I woke up just with like a dull level of ‘meh,’ and then I read something that would fill me up, and I did yoga, and I meditated, and I did some Kapalbhati body breathing … and then I listened on the way over here to something that would fill my soul. I mean, I did a lot of work. It took two hours … to get myself back to my light.” – Rachel Platten
It’s not always easy to get out of bed and do the things that fill her up, but Rachel knows the importance of filling up her soul and releasing her inner light out into the world.
Do you have a morning routine or a spiritual practice like that? If not, I’d encourage you to start one! It can be as simple as a five-minute walk or as long as a two-hour yoga session. The important thing is that you’re doing what you need to do to access your light and prepare your mindset for the day.
And for those of you who are moms and are worried about making that time for yourself while being a parent — you can even participate in some spiritual practices with your child! For example, Rachel loves to read the book Breathe Like a Bear with her daughter and do some breathing exercises together.
“I’ll read a book with her, a meditation book called Breathe Like a Bear, and we’ll do deep breathing together. … We do deep breaths, and I’ll sit her on my lap — and I’ve done this multiple times when I’m overwhelmed and like feeling panicky back when I was still having postpartum — … we would read a meditation book, and I would start doing deep belly breaths … and we do it together.” – Rachel Platten
Moms — don’t be afraid to do meditation practices with your child! It’s a great way to spend some time together, and you can help both of you to come to a calmer and clearer state of mind.
One of the other things I was most excited to talk to Rachel about was her money mindset. She has a powerful way of looking at money that I think we can all learn from. When Rachel was a young struggling artist, she was pretty much broke most of the time. But she continued to give as though she wasn’t.
“I would make $100 from a gig, and I would give $50 of it to a homeless person that I’d see, or like I’d leave $20 in a tip jar when I had no money. And it was that act of faith that money is an energy — it is not what we think it is. And that flipped my mindset. It still took years to make millions of dollars, but I haven’t changed my mindset. I still believe that money works the same way.” – Rachel Platten
Do you ever find yourself operating from a mindset of scarcity and lack? Do you experience fear about money and find yourself trying to hold onto as much as possible instead of giving it away? So many of us fall into that pattern of thinking, but here’s the thing: Money is an energy. When we give it to those in need, we send good energy out into the world. All we need to do is open ourselves up to receive more energy, and money will eventually flow to us. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow, but if you maintain an abundance mindset, money will come to you.
Rachel Platten is such an inspiration. I’m so grateful to her for coming back to The School of Greatness to share more of her wisdom with us. She has so many incredible gifts, and she’s incredibly generous about sharing them — I’m a huge fan of Rachel as a human! I’m grateful to call her my friend, and I look forward to connecting with her again in the future!
If you want to hear Rachel’s definition of greatness, definitely check out her previous appearance on this show here. But for today, I want to share her answer to this question: “What is a question you wish more people would ask you that they don’t ask you?”
“‘Who are you really? What are you afraid of?’… It gives me permission to be my real self. … And, ‘What’s the thing you’re most proud of that people don’t know about you?’” – Rachel Platten
I’m so glad we got to hear Rachel’s answers to some of those questions today.
Thank you so much for joining me on this very special episode of The School of Greatness! If you loved this episode, please share a screenshot and your biggest takeaways on Instagram, and don’t forget to tag Rachel, @rachelplatten, and me, @lewishowes. Remember — you never know who you might impact just by sharing this episode.
And make sure to check out the full episode below! If you’re ready to learn how to overcome the challenges of mental health, motherhood, fame, and success, you do not want to miss Episode 1,028 with Rachel Platten!
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