At some point in your life, you will face a fork in the road: do you want to stay on a career track that simply pays you, or do you want to follow your true passion, build something of your own, and write your own story?
Melissa L. Hart did just that. She mastered human resources working at Fortune 50 companies all over the United States, then quit to start her own firm, The HumanVantage® Consulting Group, where she helps to bridge the gap between corporate executives and the teams they manage.
But that’s not all.. Melissa is also the Founder of The HART of CHANGE™, which was her answer to a corporate lifestyle of poor eating habits, lack of sleep, endless travel, and stress associated with juggling career and family. When she realized the impact it was having on her health, she knew things had to change.
Today, I’m speaking with Melissa about finding your purpose in life and how to share it with the people around you as you work toward your greatest good, no matter what you do.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
[00:00:46] Andrew: Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. I’m your host, Andrew Rafal, the founder and CEO of Bayntree Wealth Advisors. And as always, I’m always excited before episodes but today truly excited to have on not just a great business coach and a great mind in regard to executive training but also a friend that I’ve known for a long time. And today we’re going to have on Melissa Hart. She is a serial entrepreneur and also recovering corporate executive, getting out of the rat race almost a decade ago after spending 20 years in corporate America working for some of the biggest Fortune 50 companies out there in human resources. And what she decided to do was follow her passion in regard to helping to coach and lead executives and companies to better build their culture and operate effectively and also help with strategic planning. So, without further ado, Melissa Hart, welcome to Your Wealth & Beyond. How are you doing this fine day?
[00:01:55] Melissa: Wonderful. Thanks so much for having me today, Andrew. It’s an honor.
[00:01:58] Andrew: My pleasure. Always great. So, before we jump in, wanted to let the listeners know a little bit of our relationship in regard to working together to help get the message out there of what we’re both passionate on. And Melissa and I have known each other, I think, has it been almost 11 or 12 years that we’ve known each other?
[00:02:18] Melissa: Right. Yeah. Maybe close to 15 actually.
[00:02:22] Andrew: Unbelievable how time flies when we are having fun. So, before we jump in and go through a lot of the value that you bring to businesses and entrepreneurs and really helping them excel, let’s take a step back and really quickly dig in to who Melissa is and what your experiences were in the corporate world and then why you decided to make that change. Because I know a lot of listeners out there, a lot of times they’re in the same position that you are or that you were where they’re making good income, they’re having somewhat of a very successful career but then they decide to follow their passion. So, walk us through a little bit of who you are, where you came from, and how you got here where we are today.
[00:03:01] Melissa: Sure. So, I can tell you that I worked in the corporate world for over 20 years and as you mentioned, I worked for several large companies and relocated across the country several times with those companies like a lot of career professionals do. And I was blessed with some amazing roles and responsibilities where I learned just really up-to-date knowledge in the field of human resources and organizational development. And during that time, I learned a lot just about business, about people obviously. My background from an academic perspective was Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Human Resources. And through those young years of really getting exposure to the different facets of the human resources, I really dove in and I learned as much as I could. I took a lot of risks especially with the relocations, some jobs that maybe a lot of other of my colleagues didn’t want to do or the locations that weren’t as exciting to them and I took those risks. And by doing so, I learned a lot. And it turns out those were the best experiences to date when I look back on my career.
And doing that, and I kind of progressed obviously through the ranks, and as I got to be in a more senior role, I really got the exposure to the executives of the corporations that I worked with and have the ability to do a lot more strategic work, a lot of the executive one-on-one coaching, working with respective leadership teams and ensuring their optimal performance and that’s always fun. Because when you’re doing that, you’re really connecting and really making sure you’re driving the culture and the strategic agenda that leader is looking for. So, you’re really connecting the hearts and minds of the people and those teams. And I just found such pleasure in doing that, just such gratitude to help shift a team to go in the direction and win, to eliminate those obstacles and those barriers to success that we always hear about. So, I just got really jazzed about that piece of the work. And so, as I did that, it became more evident to me that that was really the piece that I loved the most.
[00:05:16] Andrew: So, you had to when you were working on the executive side, as you moved up the ladder and helped the strategic vision of these big companies then it was also part of your job to then disseminate that down to the workforce in kind of the intermediary there between the high-level executives. You were there helping to plan and then we had to take that vision and sometimes maybe massage it through or make it where the rest of the employees were onboard?
[00:05:41] Melissa: Right. So, it could be driving a corporate agenda that impacts 10,000 employees and whether it’s an employee engagement agenda and initiatives around that and retention or talent resource planning and ensuring we have the right people and the right capabilities to onboard at the right time. So, those broad organizational global strategic touchpoints were for me very, very motivating and those were the ones where you had the international travel and you had so much great exposure and it’s just a wonderful experience to have. And as I said, as working with one-on-one with the executives then it gets to be even more personal. You get into understanding of those dynamics within the team, what’s working, what’s not working and how can I help this leader lessen his stress so he or she can change and drive the agendas or initiatives that they’re looking for, for the business.
[00:06:35] Andrew: Right. I think when we look at executives and we look at business owners and obviously, this podcast is built to help business owners and entrepreneurs but from my end in looking and working with on the Bayntree side a lot of high-level executives, I almost would say they’re like entrepreneurs. They are leading and driving the vision of that company. They’ve got the stress. They’ve got the weight of this big behemoth of a company on them and that’s where we’re going to talk today about the ability to look at stress and a couple of other factors but to get that work-life balance and whether you’re an entrepreneur, an executive or even just climbing the ladder, if you don’t get your stress under control, there’s no way you could succeed at your particular job. So, is that something that you saw as well from working on your end with these executives of how many hours they were working and the stress?
[00:07:25] Melissa: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. You know, and I think you’re right when you say that a lot of those successful leaders do operate with an entrepreneurial mindset because they’re pushing the envelope. They’re challenging their leaderships and asking the right questions and taking risks. And they want more for their respective business unit or their function. And so, they’re going against the grain and just like all entrepreneurs, you’re stepping out there doing something. And so, I totally agree with that and the stress was very evident. I saw that within myself as well. That was one of the reasons that I had to take a step back and say, “What is most important to me and what is it that I want to do?” Because I think it’s very easy when you’re in the corporate world to feel trapped at times that you’re some corporate pawn and, “This is all I have.” And so, as I’ve coached a lot of executives, I got my sensitivity. My antenna’s kind of perked up and I realize that and I’m like, “Wait a minute.” There’s a lot more to this life than these work weeks and the work-life balance and staying connected to our families and everything else.
[00:08:29] Andrew: Right. So, you’re probably looking in, well, when there were people that were 20, 30 years older than you and saying, “Well, yeah, they’ve got a lot of money. They’ve got a lot of benefits that they built up but are they happy?” And is that where you want to be?
[00:08:41] Melissa: Right. And how many business trips are they away and missing important holidays and celebrations and how many times can you actually keep doing that? So, yeah, and I kind of hit that point with myself and kind of what got me to get out of the rat race is I’ve had two young boys at the time and I was traveling a lot and it just wasn’t feeling right for me anymore even from a professional standpoint. Even though I love to do all the executive coaching and organizational work, that was just a piece of my pie. So, I always tell people that nobody ever comes in the HR and says, “I love my boss. I love my pay.” That never happens. For that piece of the work, it’s like, “Oh gosh.” After a while, like any job, that can be a burnout component.
[00:09:29] Andrew: Right. Like it’s almost and it’s similar to my job in helping people shape their financial future, building a roadmap. But on our end, I’m almost like a psychologist sometimes, helping clients make good decisions or not making bad decisions and dealing with emotions and dealing with getting into the crust of who they are that sometimes their family doesn’t even know some of these things. And I would imagine HR has a lot of that same quality where you’re having to act as a mediator there and trying to position without being a psychologist but trying to just help the emotional side of that. Would you say that that was similar to the financial advisor side?
[00:10:05] Melissa: Oh, totally. Everyday. Every day was a new adventure. And that again, back to I love working with people and I love helping them and I really enjoyed all that time to connect with people and help them and make a difference and resolve some problems because, yeah, you’re exactly right. A lot of people bring all their emotions and all their baggage to work, a lot of which they don’t talk about it at home and it will show up at work eventually.
[00:10:30] Andrew: Well, you have a very calming presence to you which I think is from that standpoint of helping when you’re in the corporate role and helping the work, all of those different employments, you probably, I mean, some of these companies hunt thousands of employees that you guys – I mean, I know you weren’t working with all of them but that’s a lot of people to deal with, a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of emotions.
[00:10:50] Melissa: Yep. For sure.
[00:10:51] Andrew: So, then after looking and growing and learning and figuring this is not what you want to do, walk us through how the creation of your first company, The HumanVantage Group, walk us through how that transpired and some of the successes and potential failures that you had in the beginning of it.
[00:11:12] Melissa: Sure. Yeah. So, like I mentioned, I kind of came to that life transition point where my youngest son I think was around three or four at the time and I was just like running around daycare, dropping things off and I just felt I wasn’t having that opportunity to connect as I wanted to and get more involved in their schooling. So, I really want more flexibility. I need more flexibility. I need to be able to control my schedule. I’ve always been a very creative person, a problem solver and a marketeer of sorts and I said, “I really want to just focus on fun things.” So, if I had to create my own job description, what would I do? And that’s what I did. I just sat down one night. I’m like, “I love to do the coaching. I love to work with teams. I love strategic planning. I love developing people. I don’t love benefits. I don’t love compensation.”
So, I got really clear about what I don’t like and that’s how I crafted The HumanVantage. I said, “You know what, that’s what I’m going to do.” And I took a risk and I went in and I quit my job and I said, “I’m going to start my own consulting firm,” and I went back home and put a home office together and I started looking through my network files, worked on my LinkedIn, started just doing all the support things that I could to define myself and do some outreach. And I started, I went through these periods of emotions like a lot of entrepreneurs do of like, “Oh my gosh, what did I just do? Is this a mistake? What was I thinking,” to, “Oh, thank God, I’m finally free and I can do what I want.” So, I was driving that the whole thing obviously for several months.
[00:12:50] Andrew: So, this is good for the listeners out there that are at that cusp of that precipice of this is my passion. From your side, being analytical I think it’s so important. You didn’t just make the change. You didn’t just on a whim say, “I’m out.” You spent the time and weighed the pros and cons and with the family, did you sit down with your husband and obviously, the kids were young at the time but did you guys talk through it? Were you both on board with this decision?
[00:13:14] Melissa: Yes. I am very blessed with a very caring and supportive husband and I couldn’t do that without him obviously. He always supported me in all my dreams. So, yeah, so that was really important as you said and being able to focus on that which brings me joy. So, the passion is sticking to that and staying true to that and you mentioned some mistakes that I’ve done. Well, I’ve done a lot of them but one of the initial ones was that I went through a period where I felt like a sense of desperation because I didn’t have a lot of clients and I’m like, “Oh no.” So, then I started picking up some work that I didn’t want to do and while I’m doing it, I’m miserable. Like the worst job for an HR person is an HR handbook and I was like, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding. I can’t believe I signed up for a task like that.” And I did. I did to myself. I was like this crazy so…
[00:14:10] Andrew: Well, why did you do that? Was it the monetary side or you just needed some – was it little wins that you needed?
[00:14:16] Melissa: I needed some little wins. I need to say I had a couple of clients and it was like some landscaping firm out here in Arizona and, yeah, can you believe it? And so, I mean I’ve done everything profit, nonprofit since I’ve been an entrepreneur but that was a learning for me because I let myself down a little bit with that because that’s not who I am. It was good experience and I guess I had several of those things where I picked some things up that I didn’t really care for. But then so then what happened is I started broadening my advertising, started networking, going to meetings and chamber of commerce and things like that. But even though I did all of that and put money in that, what happened is really all of my work came from clients that I worked for before when I was internal to the corporate world. So, all of my colleagues that were in human resources or other executives that I worked with and had moved on to other companies they remembered me and say, “Oh yeah, Melissa, we can bring her in to help us with strategy or mentoring program or whatever else.” That’s how I really built my business is I can’t emphasize the importance of networking and colleagues and referrals. I mean, you just never know who you’re going to meet again and how we help each other out.
[00:15:28] Andrew: And the one tip though there is don’t burn bridges. Don’t burn bridges within the companies that you worked in and if you do exit, make it a smooth exit and that way you never know when it’s going to turn full circle. So, the value that you are bringing to these businesses with The HumanVantage, walk the listener through who may have never worked with a business coach or had that side of the purpose-based planning, what type of value were you presenting and why would somebody hire you, Melissa Hart?
[00:15:59] Melissa: Okay. Well, several, I’ve had some amazing assignments. A lot of my early assignments were regarding leadership development supervisory talent. I worked extensively with several companies in putting together supervisory training programs for new supervisors, so they feel comfortable and managing performance issues and conflict in the workplace. So, really a large part of my marketing niche was customization. So, that was kind of my differentiators as I go and tell companies that I would customize, develop and customize programs just for them based on their needs but it had to still fall in my little arena of fun work. And that’s what I did. So, like a lot of companies were looking for time to invest in actual one-on-one coaching with high potentials like they saw a diamond in a rough and they’re like, “This person just needs some coaching on these areas and we think it’s better coming from someone outside the company,” and so I would develop these six, nine-month relationships with these high potentials and really start accelerating their personal and professional development in the company.
I tell you, that too that’s just some amazing feeling when you look back and you’re like, “Wow. I think I really helped this person,” and they’ve changed, and they’ve progressed and then you get a Christmas card a year later from them and they are just so excited about their accomplishments. So, just to be able to help someone like that is just so gratifying to me. So, I did a lot of that and then as the assignments progressed, I really got to work with these executives. It was interesting. I started doing a one-on-one coaching, a lot of these executives would get promoted and here are these huge leadership teams. And as they did that, they started having complexities and how to bring the team together and what they need to do. So, that’s where I kind of entered into the team effectiveness role and really spending a lot of time on bringing teams together, working through multiple personality style issues, conflict resolution, strategic planning. So, it’s really been a potpourri of assignments, all of which have been amazing.
[00:18:13] Andrew: Well, when you look at entrepreneurs and business owners, but obviously the entrepreneur, a lot of times they’ve got that vision. They’re kind of anti-corporate world and they bust their butt to start building this company. As it starts becoming successful and they start bringing on more employees, what I’ve seen and even for me and I’m sure a lot of you listeners out there, managing the people, leading the people, building the work culture is not what we signed up for. We did this to get out of that. And so, before you start building the ranks, where business coaching for me has been effective and I think, Melissa, from your side you probably seen this both with the internal corporate world as well as the entrepreneur side is having somebody there looking outside on this outside looking in and being able to help you construct and build the right type of environment, help you lead, help you do those things that the entrepreneur doesn’t want to do. And at the point of growing your company, a lot of them can’t hire a Melissa internally to operate the business operation side and deal with the HR. So that’s where I think a lot of these entrepreneurs grapple with how do I create that culture? How do I handle HR? And that’s where a business coach can come in and provide some of that balance.
[00:19:28] Melissa: Right. I agree. I mean, it’s important to have, I really believe this as an entrepreneur, to have a confidante, someone outside your family, someone outside your work world that you can balance things in the safe zone about. It’s one of those challenges every day. I mean, we got to realize we’re all human and we’re all going to make mistakes and we’re going to have concerns about are we doing the right thing every day. So, I think just to have an accountability partner, someone that’s in your court that you can call up, connect with once or twice a month and just go through things and get some guidance and share a perspective is valuable for people. I think it’s actually very calming for a leader to know that they have that.
[00:20:15] Andrew: And from personal side working with you as over the years, so full disclosure, I’ve worked with Melissa on the business side helping to get my culture and the right employees and the productivity. Also, Melissa is a client of Bayntree with her husband and helping to shape their retirement. The other item and this will be at the end of the show notes and we’ll dig into it a little bit later but together, Melissa and I, have co-authored a book called The Heartful Retirement. That hits on a lot of the things like getting closer to that retirement of the purpose, of the spiritual side, not just the financial side. But where you were instrumental for me is helping to look and say, “Here’s where Bayntree wants to go. Here’s the culture we want to build. Here’s the brand we want to do.”
And you enabled me to look at the team that I had at that point and we were able to flesh through in saying who’s not the right fit. And those are hard decisions for a business owner who’s maybe never had to fire somebody and it’s very easy to just say, “We’re going to come through this. Let’s give them one more shot. They made another mistake, or they didn’t show up today but it’s too difficult to let them go and find somebody else.” So, having that confidante, having somebody that I could talk to which a lot of business owners don’t have was a huge lifeline for me and it helped me envision out where I wanted to be, and I don’t think I could’ve done that alone.
[00:21:38] Melissa: Oh, that’s sweet. No, it’s been a joy working with you and the team there. I mean, you guys have an amazing company. I really respect everything you guys have done.
[00:21:48] Andrew: So, when you look at one of the things that a lot of companies have done and those that haven’t done it, when you look at each employee from the business owner down and we try to get a gauge where they’re going to be most effective, and I know there are different types of testing that you can do to your current employee as well as any potential employee that you bring in. So, can you walk the listener through some of these whether it be the Kolbe or the DISC assessment? And walk through the value that that can bring to a business and shaping out how somebody, maybe they’re a good employee but they’re just in a wrong place within the company itself. So, walk through how that works and the benefit that it could bring an organization.
[00:22:29] Melissa: Yeah. Well, definitely, staffing is like one of the biggest challenges that’s out there I think in the HR world and getting the right people in the door and making sure. It’s just so much about that now even with the generational differences that we’re seeing in the workforce. But, number one, as a leader, as an entrepreneur, you need to understand your company and your values and what you represent. I mean, if you can’t paint a picture for what you stand for and kind of behaviors or core competencies you expect to see and live and breathe in your company, I mean, you have to have that outlined and know that because that’s your starting point. That’s the ability to sit down and say, “Okay. If I’m all about integrity, obviously, or I’m all about innovation,” that’s going to affect the type of skills that you’re going to source for when you go to recruit. So, I’d like to see entrepreneurs really start with that template and then from that have that list. I mean, we have a core list of eight to ten critical values or core competencies that are required for your business.
Obviously, there could be some function with technical expertise, it could be communication skills, your teaming ability, whatever that may be for you and your company. And from that, I’m all about several vehicles for talent assessment and one, of course, like as you mentioned, there are numerous personality style inventories out there that can kind of gauge the way people think and how they approach problems and how well they work within a team. I encourage people to utilize those. Also, when you put together interview questions, I’m a fan of if you can as an entrepreneur have other people participate in your interview process so it’s not just you yourself, get a kind of a diverse setting, two or three different people to interview applicants so you kind of have that validation process you can go through. And then to make sure your questions are really structured properly. A lot of entrepreneurs haven’t been schooled or have the resources on how to put together appropriate interview questions and get open-ended questions where you can get more information and structure those, so they come back and link back to the core competencies that you need to run the operation.
[00:24:48] Andrew: Yeah. And I think a lot of, well, I know a lot of businesses will create in their mind, “Here’s my avatar client. Here’s who we want whether you’re in the financial services space, you’re a landscaper, whatever business you’re in, here’s the ideal client. It’s that avatar. Here’s we want to clone.” But I think what you hit on there and this is something that I’ve never really thought about it this way but if business owners need to think about having an avatar employee, right, so using those eight to ten critical items of what you want from an employee, not just their technical but their emotional, their passion, their potential, they are as a person and so creating that avatar employee can make sure that the mission that you want to build and the brand that you want to have and where you want to be in three years and five years and ten years that you know you’ve got the right people along for that ride. So, I think that’s something that I can take away from today and say, “I want to construct here,” to, “I have as this perfect vision.” And it’s never going to be perfect but at least you have this ideal vision of who you want as your team members.
[00:25:50] Melissa: Right. Exactly. And to me, one of the core competencies that should be on everybody’s hit list when it comes to assessing talent is agility, adaptability. Adaptability is something that we are going to face no matter what we do, what business we have, what is happening in the next 5 to 20 years. It doesn’t matter. We are always going to have to adapt to change. So, some level of change management, flexibility and that happens every day in an entrepreneurial world. So, if you can’t have a person that’s going to be able to adapt as needed, you’re going to have issues. So, I encourage every entrepreneur listening to make sure that you pay attention to that and you get kind of a measure on change management capability.
[00:26:35] Andrew: If you were to give a couple of tips to the entrepreneur, the business owner that has employees now in regard to creating that work-life balance, creating that world-class culture and just bringing the team together, what are a couple of things that you can provide as some strategic advice to have these entrepreneurs be able to implement in 2018 to make that work-life and passion and making the employees feel part of something special?
[00:27:03] Melissa: Well, and I think you hit the nail on the head right there is making employees feel part of something special. What it is, is kind of letting your guard down. Most entrepreneurs who have small teams that you’re just starting out and you got a core group of individuals that you’re relying on but it’s really connecting with the heart and minds of your staff, and really letting them see you as a human and you appreciating them as a human being and what their lives are all about, doing things together outside of work, may be in the sense of some profit, nonprofit work or charitable giving, something that brings the team together. So, there is that sense of team but also like I mentioned in the earlier part of this call is to have them be part of the strategic vision. Especially when you’re starting out, you’ve got that core group of trusted people and those are ones you want to bring into the strategic mapping. What are the values of the company? What do we stand for? And when people feel like they have a part of that, that they have a say that they’re involved and their voice matters, that’s where it really makes a difference I think for teams.
[00:28:08] Andrew: We talked about this in previous episodes but regarding the millennial employee and Bayntree does have quite a few millennials on board. They want to have a higher level, higher purpose and sometimes it’s not all about the money. It’s about the work-life balance and it’s about having that certain wherewithal when they come to work that they’re part of something special. Just in the last week, we try to do this quarterly but in the last week we actually at Bayntree we’ve done two events giving back.
One was last Saturday night, the LLS. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has a Light The Night walk throughout the country in various cities and this is a walk that’s at nighttime and it’s done to obviously raise money and awareness for all types of cancers but in this case, a lot of it is tied to the blood cancer. So, we had a wonderful night. We had about 30 people part of our Bayntree team, not just employees but the employees’ families. We had some clients there. So, that was really special. A t-shirt is made, and it felt like we were giving back, and it was really neat. We’ve all battled or had family members that have battled some type of cancer. So, each person had a lantern whether they were a survivor, whether they’ve lost somebody or just a supporter and it was just a special, special night. And then just yesterday, we did an event that we’ve done in the past, but we went to Feed My Starving Children. Have you heard of that organization, Melissa?
[00:29:28] Melissa: Yes. Yes. I’ve done that as well with my kids.
[00:29:30] Andrew: So, that was awesome. We took the team down there and what you do is you’re basically spending the day packaging food and in this case, it was basically enough food in one package to have 22 meals between us and some of the other corporate teams that were there and just individuals. It was a great team building and this case here we got to see who it helps and some of the benefits there, and there’s that team building approach as well. So, for you owners of businesses, for you executives at big companies, small companies, I can’t go over how important it is and vital it is to do things outside of work and find the passion. Let your employees dictate. I say to them each quarter, each person so every quarter it’s on you. I want to know what you’re passionate about and let’s put something together and let’s do it as a team. So that’s been something that has been very effective in building that unity within Bayntree and getting that awareness out there. And I think our clients also appreciate the fact that we’re out there giving back and finding a higher purpose.
[00:30:35] Melissa: Absolutely. Yeah. No, that’s awesome. I love to see that. That just makes the team stronger.
[00:30:41] Andrew: Exactly. And I know you had talked through with a lot of the bigger companies that you guys did these retreats throughout the year, you take the executives. You get out of the office and maybe you go somewhere like Sedona. Get away from that workplace, get away from that hierarchy, that bureaucracy and that’s something that I don’t think you have to be a big organization to do that. But would you say over the years when you’ve done that and you’re still doing it on these different retreats, is that something that’s worth the time away and the cost associated with it?
[00:31:11] Melissa: Totally. And I’ve seen that happen with so many leaders that I’ve worked with that they knew enough to make that call to do that even though it was stressful for them. It even just be off-site like if we could be going to a hotel for two days to walk themselves in a room and not to be at the plant or not to be in the office.
[00:31:32] Andrew: Get away from email, right?
[00:31:35] Melissa: Yeah. Totally and the rule of no cell phone use during the meeting, only at breaks, and just to really commit, show that commitment that that’s what they want to do. And I believe that’s imperative to really get laser-focused on what you want to achieve for your team and to have an open dialogue without interruption or second-guessing yourself. And it kind of divorces you from the politics too of the culture. That’s so obvious in so many of these companies. Because when you’re stuck in that bureaucratic world or that feeling then it just kind of limits your ability to think creatively, to think outside the box, to have those difficult conversations and to get all the cards on the table.
[00:32:11] Andrew: Well, I think it’s cool too to see your boss, this high-level executive maybe or the business owner to see them in jeans, to see them as a real person, to see them struggle in an event whether it be hiking or some team event out there, it’s kind of neat to see that dynamic change in shift. And a lot of times that case, those walls get broken down and then that’s where some of the best not just teambuilding can happen but creating the vision and creating the ideas and helping that company get to the next level. So, we’ve never done that. I know we talked about it and I know it’s for sure on our radar to step away down here in Phoenix. We’re just an hour and a half, an hour and 45 away from Sedona which for us, for you, business owners here in Phoenix, go up to Sedona. Take some time away. There’s some spiritual, there’s some beauty there and I think that’s something that we’re definitely setting that goal to do more of those things.
[00:33:07] Melissa: That’s terrific. I highly recommend it.
[00:33:10] Andrew: As you started working kind of getting back into that world that you’ve been in but more in a consultant basis then as time progressed, you started seeing the value of bringing it all together, thinking of it as more of a how can we create a holistic type of solution to help better each and every one of us. And so, what happened from that regard is what led you down that path of looking at health and wellness and spiritual and guided inventory and those type of things that eventually allowed you to launch your second company which is The Hart of Change.
[00:33:46] Melissa: Yeah. I’m a continuous learner. That’s good and bad I guess sometimes. As I worked with people one-on-one especially when we talk about stress earlier and you start to see the negative effects of stress, I saw a lot of that and I saw and talking with a lot of people and whose family members were being impacted and whether they were getting sick or they themselves weren’t taking care of themselves. Really it was so repetitive. It was becoming too commonplace and at the same time, I personally had some challenges where I had lost some family members, my mother from cancer, and if you want to say anything, I was getting a little upset and frustrated and irritated and I’m like, “This is not right.” There’s got to be a better way.
And so, then I started really researching and this is before, I guess, organic was so mainstream as it is today but I really started investigating holistic nutrition and I went back to school and got some certifications and it’s just the elimination of processed foods and asking the right questions and understanding what we’re putting in our bodies and taking care of ourselves. So, I kind of embarked on this journey and one thing led to another and then I realize my body wellness and guided imagery and how that helps us heal and how important that is. And so, then I got into that and when I, obviously, with all the coaching that I’ve done, it’s been a nice supplement. And so, now I kind of – I want to continue doing what I’m doing but I want to branch out and I want to reach populations that are experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety. Anxiety is an epidemic in this country.
[00:35:35] Melissa: We see it in children, adults, and a lot of it is obviously related to the food and the chemicals that we’re being exposed to that we’re putting in our body to our thought processes and really helping people understand that they are empowered, and you can take control of your health and to ask questions of your doctor, to second guess them, to do your research. And so, I really, personally for me and my family, I know I do act crazy sometimes, but I’ve made that shift to really promote more healthy eating in our household and really try to do things for more of a preventative standpoint in keeping us on the right track. And that’s what kind of brought to life The Hart of Change is that I wanted to get that message out and I wanted to start really spreading that to a broader group even outside my normal HumanVantage world.
[00:36:26] Andrew: Yeah. And I think we all face, whether we’re running a business or an employee or even my 11-year-old, is being present. Technology, the advancement has been great but it’s also a detriment. We’re all, I don’t care what you say, we’re all somewhat if not highly addictive toward technology. How many times do I, do you, look at our phones. It’s that consistent barrage of emails and text and that is causing from my end I think a lot of the anxiety. I just if you think back 15 years ago before all of this technology, this instant access to information, it’s made us just I think high strung and it’s hard to just separate out.
And I think that one of the areas you’re going to see where you have addictions with gambling or drinking or drugs is that technology is becoming an addiction and that’s something that is hard-pressed to say, “Just shut it off.” But having a detox, having something that you detox and whether it be a company retreat or whether you just detox for 48 hours or 24 hours, easier said than done. That the time that I’ve done, I’ve only done it once, I did it more clear headed. But I think that’s where coaching could come into play and you can help guide that image and so forth but where do you see that going? You think it’s just going to get worse in regard to the anxiety?
[00:37:51] Melissa: I do. I think that we’re bombarded with negative information. There is if you turn on I don’t even watch the news anymore. I really don’t because it doesn’t serve me. It just stresses me out. So, I am really trying to guard my mind with what I allow in and to protect it because there is a lot of uncertainty and there will always be a lot of uncertainty and that’s the problem with technology. You get notifications that this Twitter thing and you read that and then they’ve got some kind of negative thing. I’m like I can’t tell you how many times I’d wanted to quit Facebook but, yes, so that’s important is to guard your mind. Just like it’s your biggest treasure, your heart. I mean, do not allow things in. That’s not going to be for your highest good.
So, I encourage people to exercise, to stay focused on their health and their well-being, practice meditation and to be really mindful about when you do use technology. Maybe you say it’s first thing in the morning, one time at midday and one time at dinner time, and just have some boundaries. And I know that’s tough but otherwise, it will rule us, and we see that we children now with young kids having phones. And I was at my chiropractor’s office the other day and they had a chart up that the latest craze now is this whole how the posture is being impacted of our young adults because they’re continually staring down at their phones. So, like their necks are getting all messed up. The whole posture is. So, it’s just crazy.
[00:39:25] Andrew: Right. And their brain, I mean, just talking to teachers that have been in the education field for 30 years and I think the brains are changing too in the way that they’re able to expand and learn and I think it’s definitely scary. I still get the newspaper. I’m like the only house on the block that gets the newspaper but one thing, I think people are not reading. And you, as you stated earlier, you’re an avid learner and regarding that, you try to focus on finding books that can help you grow both spiritually as well as professionally but also maybe making some time for some fun. Do you consistently try to update with some of the latest literature?
[00:40:06] Melissa: You know, I’m not like a huge like book reader. I am more of a – I read to educate myself like on a discipline. You know what I mean? Like I can’t even tell you if I’ve really read a good fiction book. I always have the patience for that but I’m more like if I got interested in a topic then I will deep dive into that topic and then I get obsessed about it and drive my husband crazy because I order Amazon books like all the time.
[00:40:31] Andrew: Right. Amazon, they can set up a tent, so they can just move in, right?
[00:40:36] Melissa: Yeah. So, my latest has been on thyroid health. The thyroid is so important. People don’t understand. It’s such a tiny gland but it determines so much of your metabolism, your hormonal effects, and our immune system. So, I’ve been – I just got wild here and I’m just really on the thyroid right now. So, that’s kind of how I work but for me, it’s kind of all-over but, yeah, I think technology is something. There are actually I would say some of the good things with technology. I mean there are some apps out there that could be used for meditation and mindfulness. There’s one called Headspace that people can download. It’s like a gym membership for the mind, helping people learn how to meditate and live more mindfully in like 10 minutes. Stop, Breathe & Think is another one that’s out there. That’s really even good for kids. So, if we’re going to use technology let’s be mindful about how we use it and then…
[00:41:31] Andrew: Right. And these will all be in the show notes so, listeners, if you want to take a look at that. I’ve used Headspace in the past and haven’t used it as religiously as I’d like but it definitely helps you get to that place of peacefulness and encourages that meditation. So, one of the things that you and I have worked together on both where you’re helping me and I’m helping you, the neat part was, listeners, we came together about a year ago and we’re like, “Well, this is kind of this perfect synergy. As we’re working to help guide people and build their fiscal house and envision the retirement that they’ve always wanted, the key is how do we get there.
So, financially, a lot of business owners maybe worked hard, blood, sweat, and tears, and they are financially well off or an executive that worked 30 years and climbed up the ladder and financially well off. But what we are seeing is when we get to that top and now what? What’s the purpose? What am I going to do? So, that’s where Melissa and I we sat down and said, “Let’s put together a combo and put it together in a book,” and we’ve been working on this for I think almost eight months now. So, it’s never going to be perfect but we’re very excited that within the next month or so, The Heartful Retirement is going to be published. And, Melissa, let’s talk a little bit about how the book is centered and some of the tips and strategies that are in there that can help business owner, executive, entrepreneur, average person, how they can utilize it to find that purpose-based in retirement.
[00:43:01] Melissa: Sure. I tell you, this has been one of the most rewarding outcomes in this whole endeavor is life transitions happen. So, I like to think of myself as a life transition coach and I think one of the most challenging ones is retirement. And people always, I think when we say the word retirement they immediately think of the financial side and they neglect to think about the emotional shifts that happen when you quit working. And so, that’s what I like about our book. It is a marriage of both the emotional and financial because to me the financial is kind of a ticket to entry and when you get clear about your emotional side, that’s what’s important for the transition to be successful because people do not normally dedicate time before retirement to make sure they’ve thought through some things. For example, like I met with a client a few weeks ago. We administered the retirement options profile and went through the various factors and one that she had not considered was social interaction. And if you think about people there in the active work world right now, you spend more time at work than you do at home and for a lot of people, work colleagues are your best friends and…
[00:44:13] Andrew: Or your worst enemies too, right?
[00:44:15] Melissa: Yeah. Right. Exactly. But the idea of leaving that and not having that social interaction and saying, well, what would life look like if I’m not in the office? I enjoy that camaraderie or whatever. Understanding too what brings you joy. What are your passions? A lot of times people haven’t even thought about that. They’ve been so consumed with working with these 70, 90-hour work weeks. I mean, to think about even having a hobby or where would they spend their free time is so foreign to them that it scares them. I mean and rightly so because it’s kind of like work defines you. And so, it’s really been interesting working with individuals on this instrument and talking them through the retirement phase because the most successful with the data even shows us that the most successful retirements are people that have thought through this phase and then have collaborated with their spouse or significant other to ensure that they’re both on the same page.
[00:45:12] Andrew: Right. Well, on a personal level they’re one of my clients who, this is just recently, worked all the way up to like 71 for a big company and they’ve done very well but then he’s doing a little bit of consulting now but one day he got out of working those 78-hour weeks. They started realizing, “Well, what does this all mean? Where are we going to be most happy?” So, they started traveling and they have three of their four kids are back east. The other one is in the Midwest, lots of grandchildren and they started spending more time there. And we just had a meeting last week and they throw at me and said, “Hey, house is going up for sale here in Arizona and we are moving to the East Coast.” And we’re still going to work with them but it’s one of those things they realized it. They didn’t realize it prior and sometimes you don’t realize it until you have the time and they made that conscious decision that this is where they’re most happy.
So, part of the book, one of the things we look is geographic location, we look at self-understanding and actualizing what life is going to be about. And if you are a type A, like Melissa for you and for your husband even though you may like you’ve got out of that rat race and your husband, Tom, may get out of that at some point, I just don’t see a type A person if they retire at 55, they’re not going to – I don’t think we cannot do anything. It’s just impossible.
[00:46:30] Melissa: No, and that’s the baby boomer generation. Because, I mean, we were kind of raised that way to keep going, keep going, do more, do more. So, it’s kind of in our DNA and I’m with you. I mean that’s why I’ll probably, you even mentioned serial entrepreneur, I’ll be doing more and more different businesses I’m sure but you just that to keep learning, keep learning and keep growing. Everybody’s different. Some people just want to travel and that’s great, but I do really believe we’re going to see this influx of amazing baby boomers in their latter years with some incredible stories to tell and how they change things for the better.
[00:47:06] Andrew: Right. And you think about, again, you being this entrepreneur and following your passions and kind of stepping out of your comfort zone, well, a few years ago and I think the listeners may be interested because I don’t even know the story here, but you had this passion that you wanted to write children’s book on potty-training. And I think the book is awesome. Again, in the show notes it will be in there so if any of those who want to grab it for their kids or grandchildren and so forth. But how did Max and The Diaper Fairy come about, kind of just real quickly as you look at putting on another hat for you being an entrepreneur?
[00:47:40] Melissa: Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious. Well, actually it stemmed during my corporate tenure and my oldest son Alex was going through potty-training and it was in the morning. I’m trying to get him ready for school and he was almost three years old. Still, I was still struggling with potty-training.
[00:47:56] Andrew: Yeah. Happens with boys a lot though, right? Yeah.
[00:47:59] Melissa: And I remember it was almost out of frustration, I just looked at him and I said, “Alex, one of these days the diaper fairy is going to come and she’s going to take all your diapers away and she’s going to give those unused diapers to babies in the world who really need them.” And he just looked at me and he said, “Huh?” And I said, “Oh boy, there it is.” And so, I’m driving on my way to work and I had already mapped out in my head I was going to go to a costume store at lunch and get this big costume, a fairy costume and I got a big long blonde wig and had a mask and ran to Target and got a bunch of big boy underwear and glitter which is magic dust to give you strength and courage to use the potty. And so, I called my husband and I said, “This is what we’re doing tonight,” and as usual so supportive of his crazy wife and I said, “You got to videotape this because he’ll never remember those.”
So, I did. I dressed and went in like to the garage and did this whole Wonder Woman change and put my costume on and rang our doorbell and I said, “Make sure you and Alex answer the door.” And I did, and he didn’t say a word and I just came in the house, I sprinkled the magic dust everywhere, I sat him on the potty, said, “You now have the strength and courage to use the potty.” I picked up all his unused diapers. I gave him a bunch of underwear and then I took off and did a change and I came through the garage and he was like, “Oh mommy, the diaper fairy came. She took all my diapers away,” and all this. And so, it was instant potty-training and it was kind of like third-party intervention that I knew we needed. And for years when I was working in the company, my colleague said, “Melissa, you got to write a book about that. You just got to write a book.” Oh, my God. No, it’s no big deal.” And then I thought about it. You know, what the heck? It’s kind of like a bucket list thing. Why don’t I do that?
[00:49:45] Melissa: So, Max and The Diaper Fairy is a true story based on how I trained Alex to use the potty and I do support the diaper banks of America. I partnered with the first diaper bank in the nation is in Tucson, Arizona and I went down there to meet with them and talk about how we can partner in getting the message out and donated some items there and some books for them and to promote charitable giving. It’s one of those programs that diapers are not covered by the WIC program. A lot of people don’t know that and it’s a huge cost for a lot of parents and families that are struggling. So, we put that message out there and it’s a fun book. People can go on the website, MaxandtheDiaperFairy.com, and you can even print out your own personalized letter from the diaper fairy and she’ll let you know when she’s going to come and…
[00:50:40] Andrew: Love it.
[00:50:40] Melissa: You can send it to – yeah. And then you can come, and she’ll take all your diapers away.
[00:50:46] Andrew: I just hope you have a video of that initial time. And if you do, we’re going to put it on the show notes, please. We’ll put it on YouTube. That would be fantastic.
[00:50:53] Melissa: The funniest thing with that though, Andrew, is when they answered the door. I didn’t think about my voice and like, “Oh my gosh, they’re going to recognize my voice,” and some crazy English accent came out.
[00:51:03] Andrew: Let me hear a little bit. Just give us some snippet.
[00:51:07] Melissa: “Well, it’s time to use the potty.” So, I don’t know if it really masquerades, but it must have because he didn’t notice me.
[00:51:13] Andrew: Oh, I love it, but this is fantastic. So, and that was when you were in the working world, but you said, “I’ve got this creativity, this vision,” and I think you’re probably although a little bit of work it just gives you some purpose so that’s the takeaway we want to look at from all aspects. There’s a bucket list, chase those dreams, make it happen because overall, you didn’t do it. You probably look back in 20, 30 years saying, “You know what, I can’t believe we never wrote that book,” and that’s awesome. So, you’re the author of two books just like me. That’s really, really cool and hopefully, there’ll be more to come as well.
So, as we wrap up today because I know time is valuable and so forth for everybody here in regard to the listeners as you as well, Melissa. I think we touched on a lot of great things today both at the corporate side and then spilling that over to the business side. It’s about finding the right I think balance. How do we find that balance? And it’s hard to do it on your own. So, that’s where if you thought about working with a coach, if your company offers something that can help you expand and grow and find that purpose, I think we both recommend take them up on it, take them up on it, have somebody to help guide you. Now that you talked about meditation, so are you seeing that more of taking – more of an evolution there of helping to find that balance and use meditation to your advantage?
[00:52:34] Melissa: I do believe that. I think people are going back more to prayer and meditation in this crazy world and you even see these meditation clinics popping up and a lot of the schools now are doing mindful yoga or practices to really help the kids calm down and get connected and grounded to be present. This is really almost like a detox from, like you said, social media and everything that we’ve got to protect ourselves. So, I just encourage people to really treat it like it’s part of your schedule, get it on the calendar ideally before you even start your day to get grounded and revisit that throughout the day, even get notifications for yourself. There are some of those apps that we talked about. You can get a quick five-minute meditation even during your lunch break or whatever. Go sit in your car, whatever, but just get grounded again. That’s what I’m seeing more and more of folks needing to do. We’re just too busy and we’re not taking time out for ourselves and if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others, and that’s even more important. It’s kind of like on the airplane, give yourself the oxygen first.
[00:53:39] Andrew: Excellent. Excellent advice. So, as we wrap up today to the listeners out there, a couple of things and this will be in the notes but The Heartful Retirement, the book that we’re very passionate about, for you listeners out there, if you do want a copy, you can preorder it and as a listener to Your Wealth & Beyond, we’ll send this book out to you complementary and I think you’ll find some really good stuff. You don’t have to be at the retirement point. You want to start thinking about these things before you get to retirement.
The other aspect if you did want to have a consultation and go through some of the things that Melissa has done over the years to help find that purpose, find the mission within the company itself and to help you get an outside opinion on how you can better you and your company, we’re going to also offer a consultation with Melissa. So, there’ll be a way for you to sign up for that as well. Lots of great stuff that she offers and as I knew, and you know you can’t do it alone. So, work with the professionals, bring the trusted advisors in. Melissa spent 20 plus years, almost 30 years living and breathing this and that’s something that you can’t put a price on that. So, Melissa, I truly appreciate you spending some time with us today. Always great insight into how we can build and build the interactivity between, and integrate between the health, the wellness, the work life, and then finding that purpose.
[00:55:05] Melissa: Terrific. No, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been awesome. I enjoyed the opportunity to share with you and I look forward to our continuing ventures, Andrew.
[00:55:14] Andrew: Wonderful. Well, thank you, listeners, and stay tuned for later this month for more episodes of Your Wealth & Beyond, the podcast built to help you build your wealth, find purpose, and enact a world-class culture within your company. Have a great one, everybody.
Thank you for joining me for today’s episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. To get access to all the resources mentioned during today’s podcast, please visit Bayntree.com/Podcast, and be sure to tune in later this month for another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond.