“I want to build relationships and foster community - and I want to use stories to do that.” - Stuart Jones
This week, I’m talking to my good friend Stuart - a people person, videographer and photographer from Raleigh, North Carolina, and the current producer of this podcast. In this episode, we take some interesting turns - creating your own opportunities, being unconventional in the way we apply for jobs (and the way we post for them too) #noresumes, roadtrips to see Rob Bell, and the importance of sharing your story.
“The oral storytelling of our family is very rich.” - Louise
The bond between a mother and a daughter is a powerful bond. Especially in a big family filled with men.
In our final episode of this HERadventures series, Mary & I got a chance to sit in Baltimore with powerful mother-daughter duo, Louise and Paula. Louise is a mother of five children, is an attorney mediator, and the co-author of Being Relational: The Seven Ways to Quality Interaction and Lasting Change with her husband, William Senft. Her daughter, Paula grew up listening to her grandma sharing stories and is currently Associate Director of Admission at Friends School of Baltimore.
The stories of how the previous generations have influenced both women is astounding. Growing up in a sea of men has brought Louise and Paula closer - and allowed them to create a girl-gang within their own family - and made them stronger women together. It’s beautiful to listen to the emphasis they place on making sure their grandparents’ stories make it to the next generation and the work they do to keep their family’s history alive. Listen in to get inspired to start collecting your own family’s stories.
How positivity, faith, and a little bit of sassiness can turn any situation around.
“I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m somebody’s double vodka.” – Wilma Jones
How often do we walk through life “dulling our shine” because we’re worried we’re too big of a personality? That we’re too loud or use too many swear words? How often do people tell us that we need to do less, be less, say less? Well you’ve heard me say it again and again: you are beautiful, you are loved, you are enough.
You are not too much.
When Wilma Jones walked into HQ, I knew she was a special person – she’s living her personal brand like nobody’s business. A mutual friend introduced us (Maritza Lizama, who will soon be coming to your ears in the next installment HERadventures) and man, am I glad she did. This woman is such a funny, positive force of energy and I can’t wait to sit down with her again.
Wilma is not too much.
As you’ll hear in her own words, Wilma is a big proponent of “positive psychology” and that above all, positivity breeds positivity. She calls it a “virtuous cycle” – a phrase I’m TOTALLY using from now on. (Another term of hers that I love: “celestial bootcamp”, which you’ll hear about later in the episode.)
Wilma shared her incredible story with me – how she went from feeling stuck and miserable in her marriage to being an empowered single mother and author. We bond over a mutual search for positivity and self-improvement, and she shared with me the secret to her success: being happy and grateful for where you are.
I can’t wait for you to hear this episode – I had so much fun recording it and can’t wait to have her on the podcast again. Grab yourself a cup of tea (or double vodka) and get ready to be inspired!
Honoring the differences and embracing the value in creative tastes.
What do you do if you’re stuck in a job that you love? You like your coworkers, you do meaningful, important work, and you’re really good at what you do. But you just feel… stuck.
That’s exactly where Monica Kang, Founder & CEO of InnovatorsBox®, found herself about a year ago. She was pursuing an crazy-badass career, and she truly loved her job, but she felt like she had massive creative energy that wasn’t being expressed or put to use.
Her situation isn’t unusual — as you’ll hear her share in the episode, a recent study found that 87% of professionals worldwide are feeling “stuck” and lacking a creative outlet in their jobs. What?! Why is that such a high number?
It could have a little something to do with negative ideas surrounding “creative” or “creativity”. A lot of people think of it as a “fluffy” word that is somehow inferior or not characteristic of a “serious career”. Monica explains that simply isn’t true. Creativity isn’t just glitter and sparkles. Creativity can be expressed in all types of activities and pursuits. From painting to your morning jog, you use creative abilities in many areas of your life.
Monica started InnovatorsBox® as a way to combat these negative stereotypes of creativity. Through her awesome workshops, she helps others discover their own tastes, abilities, and most importantly, differences in creativity – and how to manifest all of these in their professional and personal spheres.
I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I enjoyed having it – Monica is a kickass human, filled with loveliness and sunshine. She also happens to be crazy smart and inspiring. She’s my type of people -- she even referenced one of my favorite quotes by Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I want her to be one of my five!
You can’t do epic shit when you’re sitting in a comfortable space.
"All good things are wild and free."
I saw that on a billboard on my way to the tattoo artist in Bali. I hadn’t been sure what to get on my arm, but I was literally given a sign that this should be the phrase. Not only did Bali shake up my physical self – #alltheyoga – it shook up my mindset. I came back from my trip feeling invigorated, fresh and ready for a big, big change. Shortly after I got home, my friend Kris made me realize something:
For someone who always says “there is no box”, I’ve been living a pretty comfortable, boxed-in life.
I love my job. I love my house. I love my dog (most of the time – he is a monster, after all). I have the best team and the best clients. I’m generally really happy with my life. And it’s exactly this “comfort” that’s put me in a box.
Last year during the podcast’s “Finding” series, Rebecca and I talked about “Finding Uncomfortable”. How you can’t experience growth or development when you aren’t pushing any limits or testing boundaries. Being comfortable is dangerous – we run the risk of staying stuck in one place because we’re afraid to upset the balance.
But what if we stopped being afraid?
What if we busted out of our comfort zones and pushed ourselves to do the extreme? How would our lives be different? How would they be BETTER? Don’t you want to do something crazy? Be wild and free? This is what I took from Bali: All good things are wild and free. Instead of putting up random limitations on my own happiness, I’m taking chances, exploring outside my comfort zone, and getting out of the box.
I’ve flirted with the idea of being “bicoastal” for a while, and I decided that 2017 is my year to make it happen. I’m going to live for half the year in DC, rocking it with my team face-to-face, and for the other 6 months, I'll put my place up on Airbnb and live in California. It’s been my dream and now I’m actually going to do it. Wild and free.
This week I challenge you to free yourself from whatever box you may be living in. It doesn’t have to be a big change – it can be something as tiny as giving yourself permission to dream. And dream bigger! It’s scary and nerve-wracking… but that’s also a sign it’s worth your time.
However you choose to define it: be wild and free.
Let go and come back to your heart-space.
One day last week, I really needed a hug.
Nothing seemed to go right. Even tiny things felt like giant, annoying frustrations. Punching a wall was looking better and better. But suddenly I realized – I needed a hug. So I asked for one.
Luckily, I work with the best humans, so Gisell and Cheney were on hand for a warm-and-fuzzy group hug. We all went back to our workspaces feeling just a little bit better about life, and it all came from the power of human contact. A simple human touch made all the difference in the world. I just needed to ask for it.
Later that day, I got to talk to my friend Chris about what had been going on. He told me to come home – to get out of my own head. Of course I was having a crappy day – I was painfully homesick for my heart-space and wasn’t asking for the thing(s) I needed to get me home.
So many of us don’t take the time to examine what we need on a daily basis. We get caught up in the anxieties of the day, whether it’s running a business, raising a family, or picking out matching socks (everything is relative). We forget that we’re human beings, not human doings. Going up to Brainland is necessary and helpful, but sometimes we forget to come home to our hearts. Human beings live in their hearts, not their heads, so when we forget about the “be’s” and focus on the “do’s” we’re bound to get a little out of sorts.
The trick is to identify what we need to get home and ask for it.
What I needed was a simple human touch, so I asked for it. Maybe you need some time with your favorite book or a mug of your favorite tea. If you need space from someone else, ask for 30 minutes of ‘me-time’. Ask for what you need, even if it comes from no one but yourself. Give yourself permission to come home.
I’m in Bali doing exactly that – coming home to my heart. Giving myself the time and space to heal. My team is helping me take of everything while I’m gone – all I had to do was ask them. It’s scary to give up total control, to ask for help, but I promise you, you’ll feel amazing when you do. Come home, and when you do, send me a love note telling me how you got there.
Rock your week, super-lovely humans!
What the world needs now is love (sweet love).
I had every intention of recording a very different podcast episode this week, focusing on Rock Your Talk (now rescheduled for June 15th). But when I pressed record, I couldn’t help but talk about the state of affairs between humans.
Whether we admit it or not, none of us likes to be “wrong”. Wanting to be right, wanting to be the best is a part of the human genetic code. It’s harmless when we’re debating pop-culture facts or the answer to a math problem. But when we start applying the words “good”, “bad”, “right”, or “wrong” to race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, that’s when we need to take a step back and look inside ourselves.
What’s going on in our hearts that makes us want to take someone else’s down a peg?
Recently it feels as if everyone is against everyone else. Fear and hatred keep seeping into the conversation like a poisonous slime. But it doesn’t need to be that way. I’ve found that there’s tremendous power in holding each other. Physically, in an embrace, but also holding space for someone and filling it with love. Instead of asserting your “rightness”, hold out your hand and leave yourself open to the beautiful colors, faiths, and personalities of the world. If we extend our arms and start manifesting that love together, we’ll all be better for it.
I think somebody needs a hug. And that somebody is US.
Break up your story into bite-sized pieces.
All stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But sometimes, when we tell them, we skip around, play with the timeline, or leave a few background characters out. When you share your story, you don’t need to make it a captain’s log of your life. You don’t need to tell people when you ate breakfast or how much butter you used on your toast.
Share your story, not your inventory.
To get the most out of telling your story, focus on the pivotal points. The supernovas. The lightbulb moments. Last week, I chatted with a client, Marshe’, who told me her story. Together we crafted a talk based on one particular pivotal moment in her life and focused on how that moment shaped everything that came after.
People need to hear your story. The whole story, but not every little detail. This week, I discuss the key points in our lives and how they make the most impact when we share our stories with others.
What’s your pivotal moment?
Anything that could possibly be happening right now is happening. And it feels. Like. Shit.
I woke up Sunday morning with a huge weight on my heart. I had a friend say something to me that stung, even though I know she meant nothing by it. I needed to work through it… so I did it on the podcast. Yep - I worked through my own muck, my own expectations, my own pressure on a public podcast for all the internet to hear. And now you get to listen and/or watch me find the truth on the other side of it all. Here’s what I discovered:
We’re all on a journey. We all have our own journeys and our own spaces that we’ve been given. Unlike disgruntled people in a crowded airport, though, we’re all here to help each other. So, let’s not compare our journeys. Let's blend our itineraries and shoulder the burden of our baggage together.
I recently received the book Rebirth from a close friend. In it was a conversation about why suffering is allowed. Why pain has a purpose. The book said that we may be asking the wrong question of ‘why’. Why has this negative thing happened to us? But maybe instead we should ask the question ‘Now what?’
I’m here to tell you that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. You don’t have to do this life on your own. Your journey is not about you. My journey is yours. Your journey is mine. I’m walking with you. When you stand, I stand with you. This pain isn’t yours to suffer alone, and it doesn’t matter why it’s present.
So, now what?
The lovely people behind the scenes typically don’t get enough thanks. This week we have Tony Porreco, our podcast producer on the show - and after the Crew saying “sorry, Tony” over and over, it was time to bring him in for an interview. All you kickass humans now get the chance to hear his voice!
How many people don’t start really living until something bad happens? They get cancer, a hard diagnosis, lose a parent or child, get a big scare.What if we learned from those who have dealt with all of that and started really living instead of waiting for something to happen? What if the people who have to deal with these hardships can teach us something bigger about living? Oh man, do I have a fun one for you.
My little brother - an almost-30 6’5” youngest sibling - honored me with his life story this week. Ok, yes, I asked Cheney to email him and she sent him the most HILARIOUS formal email telling him I would blackmail him if he didn’t accept our request - but despite the threats, he happily showed up before work one morning and sat for a chat with me at my office.
Andrew Harris shares his story of how he’s dealt with a life-changing diagnosis, huge transitions, and finding his path. He moved into Sisarina HQ early last year and lived on my fold-down couch while figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. In that time, he learned more about himself than he expected and I got a chance to watch my brother grow up in front of my eyes.
If you are struggling through a transition, wondering what steps to take, or finding your way in life, listen in - but grab a tissue box. This little (yet super tall) brother of mine made me tear up after he admitted how he was able to break through his toughest walls. SO proud, Andrew Harris. I’m SO proud of you. Xoxo, your big sister, Melanie
Everyone has a personal brand. Even if you don’t know what it is, it follows you around like a shadow. Most people have a tough time identifying their brand because they worry more about what other people think about them. Charleen McManus didn’t have that problem - she just wasn’t sure she wanted to own her personal brand - until it found her.
You’ll remember Charleen from the Richmond HERadventures episodes - she’s the one who hosts incredible parties at her house (and yes, I’m waiting for my invitation). Since last May when Mary & I were on the road, she has put her entrepreneurial gig to the side and gone full-time with a South African company - and guess what?! She found her brand in the process!
From creating a look of professionally artsy to walking out of meetings feeling like she knows her stuff now, Charleen is looking good, feeling good, and enjoying life like the kickass human she is. In case you’re trying to find yourself, this is what it looks like when you’re stepping up and owning your personal brand.
In this episode, we dive into why hiring experts to help you is a badge of adulthood, what choosing your career can look like, how knowing who you want to be helps you find your brand, and why Charleen’s parties are quite literally the best (and yes, it’s the food). Listen in or watch us chat, but make sure you don’t listen hungry.
Sometimes you meet someone who makes you laugh like you’re old friends. Someone who just gets you and flawlessly blends with you in conversation. Hilarious banter, fond memories, feel good moments, and deep thoughts. That’s where we find ourselves on this episode of Adventures in Branding.
You may remember Ingrid Black from the final episode of our first HERadventures series. She’s the South African beauty who kept us belly-laughing with her stories. Since then, she’s decided to take stand-up comedy classes and once you listen to this episode, you’ll know why. Ingrid and I got a chance to sit down for a one-on-one and although I’ve only spent a short amount of time with her, she shared her life with me and all of you kickass humans. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard for 40 minutes.
Filling her bucket list with vomit (seriously), Ingrid recently jumped out of an airplane in Australia and now wants to learn how to do aerial silks despite her motion sickness. Chit-chatting about hanging from a ceiling while debating the definition of “pasties” moved into talking about laugh-out-loud horrible dates - including one guy she nicknamed Cinderella because he wore his slippers to bed.
Ingrid knows how blessed she is as she has come to realize her life has never really been a challenge. Starting her career as a physical therapist, she saw lives changed in a split second and kept a solid perspective. This woman volunteered in the Israeli Army and one of her favorite memories is watching the sunrise on Mount Sinai. Although climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was #1 on her bucket list, someday she would love to be able to run her own company.
Right now, she’s doing big things as the Vice President of an organization in a male-dominated industry, and as she’s taking on the diversity challenge, she’s still giving back in more ways than most humans I know. Listen in to find out why her mom has a Finder’s Fee for the person who finds her a husband. But be forewarned, people on the train will think you’re crazy thanks to the numerous points you’ll burst into laughter.
“I like to help people get OFF the couch… and you’re giving people couches! We can still be friends.” – Kris Kaplan, K2 Coaching
This past weekend, I was called by a girlfriend to meet her at an address and not ask any questions. We ended up putting on elf hats and delivered Christmas gifts to needy families in the DC area. One of the women had zero furniture in her home so I went back the next day and dropped off a couch and a lamp. I had just ordered a new couch and couldn't think of a more deserving & grateful human than this woman.
During our mutual Q1 2017 planning meeting, Kris Kaplan and I were talking about gifts for clients, gifts for family and my elving this weekend. Kris does outstanding gifting including sending pink bubble wrap to a friend who flipped over his bike so we wanted to share our thoughts with you. Instead of "selling" with swag, doing something nice for someone else reminds them of you more than your logo on a mug.
While you're in the midst of your holiday spirit, don't forget about those who have nothing. If the holidays start stressing you out, get out and do something for someone else. If you wonder what to do for your clients, give back and get them to help you. Listen in to get into the gifting spirit and get off the couch & do something about it.
This podcast started because the topic of purpose and personal branding had become a huge part of every day conversation. Over the last 10 weeks, we've been Finding things.
As we wrap up the Finding series, Cheney and I chat about how the series got started, what we learned from it, and how we celebrate the little things every day. We even wrap up the whole thing with our very own happy dances!