“She’s the reason for everything we do now.”
In my opinion, Keith and Michelle Norris are the hardest working couple in the health and wellness business. Together, they run Paleo f(x)—the largest Paleo conference in the world—and they have their entrepreneurial toes dipped in other waters too.
We first interviewed Keith more than two years ago… and now, I am so pleased to bring you an interview with Michelle, his better half!
Michelle Norris is fiercely committed to living her very best life while also making a positive impact on the lives, health and wellness, and outlook of others. She’s on a mission to help people create positive habits so they can live their best lives too. Michelle is a powerful force for good in the world, and she’s definitely an inspiration to me. I hope you feel the same way after getting to know her.
This interview was originally intended to be a Something Significant Podcast, but the audio quality wasn’t up to our standards. In converting this conversation to print, I found that Michelle had so many inspiring messages to share that it didn’t all fit in one post. Below, find Part 1 of our interview, and stay tuned for Part 2, to be published on January 15, 2018.
Hi Michelle, please tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today.
OK, great! I’m the C.E.O. and co-founder of Paleo f(x). My husband Keith, our partner, Mark Alexander, and I all founded Paleo f(x) in 2012. We actually launched the company on Keith and my wedding anniversary: March 14.
It feels like it’s been a long road to get to where we are right now. We started into the paleo lifestyle about fifteen years ago, for Keith, and fourteen years ago, for me. But I didn’t come into it in a happy way… I came in kicking and screaming. I actually believed that I’d be able to return all these inflammatory foods back into my diet one day and somehow still be healthy. At some point, the light bulb went off for me, and I realized that what we were learning could really help people live better lives, and an evangelist was born.
So now, we just keep plugging along—every day—trying to make Paleo f(x) bigger and better. We’re trying to grow the paleo and primal movement so people get the information they need. It’s important for people to understand they have not only the right, but also the responsibility to take their health into their own hands. They don’t have to be beholden to doctors and conventional medicine to figure out how to be healthy. They can and should be their own health advocate.
Now, going into our seventh year, we expect over 6,500 people to be at Paleo f(x) 2018 in Austin, TX, this coming April 27-29.
People often think of “paleo” and “primal” as being about diet and nutrition, but it’s much bigger than that. At Paleo f(x), we focus on the entire lifestyle. In the simplest of terms, the paleo movement is about removing toxins from your life…and that includes all toxins; not only those that come from our food or that we put on our body, but also toxins in the form of people, in how we live and look at life (our attitudes), and in the information and ideas we consume on a daily basis. All of that can be toxic, and toxins of every type are a stressor on the body. Stress from any source creates a toxic cascade in the body, stressing the adrenals, and activating the entire hormone system to respond. Our goal is to help people put as much positivity into their lives as possible and to remove as much negativity as possible. Our conference is all about getting that positive lifestyle. It’s that simple.
There’s another conference called Ancestral Health, which does a great job focusing on the scientific and academic side of the paleo movement; our conference is for people who just want to know what to eat, when to eat, how to exercise, when to exercise, etc. It’s for people wanting a hands-on, practical application of the science of paleo that they can easily understand and apply directly to their lives. I always say, “Paleo f(x) is a three-day party,” and it’s lots of fun. It’s great for networking, meeting like-minded people, and being around others who are determined to take control of their own health.
How has significance played a role in your journey? (My philosophy on significance has two components: Doing something you love and creating something of value to offer others.)
Significance has played a very big role, because Keith and I are finally doing something that we love. Prior to founding Paleo f(x), we both worked for the Man (corporate America). If you can believe it, Keith actually worked for Big Pharma, and I was a project manager for a large construction company overseeing the building of Starbucks stores. So we were living that traditional life, and then our daughter was killed in 2009. Her death was our turning point. It was the catalyst that helped us realize it was time to do what we wanted to do. It was time to prioritize doing what we love and what we are passionate about.
As I think back now, I’ve learned we really should’ve done what we loved from the very beginning. It would have been better for our children to watch us go through the ups and downs of building a business, becoming our own bosses, and the entire process of becoming entrepreneurs. So, we wish we hadn’t waited, but we bought into the story of doing what we were supposed to do: going to school, getting a job with a steady paycheck, buying a home, working forty years, and then retiring on forty percent of what you couldn’t live on while you were working. Our daughter’s death helped us realize ‘what we’re supposed to do’ is a big lie, and so, we changed our lives. Now, we focus on doing what we love, doing things that are truly important to us, and bringing real value to people.
Was there a specific moment or situation when you became aware of those things that are most significant to you?
Our daughter made such a huge impact in the world at such a young age. Her gifts were worship and music and prophecy, and she had become a missionary. She was really good at what she did.
She was killed three days before her twenty-third birthday. We were blown away when we learned the impact she had made on so many lives…all around the globe. We had three different memorial services for her here in the United States, and we found out later that there had been two other memorial services for her, one in South Africa (which she had visited three and a half months before she passed), and one in Ireland. The people we received at the memorials told us stories about the impact she’d made on their lives, and it wasn’t superficial either. It wasn’t like, “Oh, she changed my life,” and then no substance. No, they told us how and what she did. And these stories went on for hours—there were over 700 people at her first service. Her college put together three big books with all these letters in it. I’ve still not been able to read all of them. It was super inspiring.
We determined that her legacy couldn’t die with her. Someone had to carry it on. We had to try and do something big and important…something that could make a big impact on lots of people. She made us realize that being able to take care of your family is one thing, and it’s important, but when you can make a positive impact on other people’s lives—their health and wellness, their outlook, and their ability to create positive habits—that’s totally different and way more fulfilling than building another Starbucks. So now, we’ve never worked harder in our lives, but we’ve never been happier either. And that’s because we see the direct impact we make on others. For us, it’s really all about significance and playing an impactful role in people’s lives, and that’s what Brittani taught us. She’s the reason for everything we do now.
Dear reader, I hope you are enjoying my interview with Michelle. Click here to read part two.
In the meantime, book your tickets to join us in Austin, Texas this year: Get Tickets.
 “Our daughter had made such a huge impact in the world at such a young age. She was killed three days before her twenty-third birthday. We determined that her legacy couldn’t die with her.” Michelle Norris