EP9: Melissa Krivachek: Company Culture – The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly with managing People

Who is Melissa Krivachek and what are the key takeaways in this episode?

Melissa is a two-time international best selling author and award-winning entrepreneur. She has worked as a factory worker on minimum wage, as a district manager, and got fired as the youngest manager ever. But with all that she’s been through, Melissa emerged successful and continue to be so.

In this interview you’ll get to know:

  • Melissa’s “aha” moment
  • Her transition story from working as a minimum waged factory worker to becoming an entrepreneur
  • How she became a best selling author
  • Her insights on the dynamics of culture
  • What character great managers have
  • And a load of other golden nuggets

The Questions

[20:01] Melissa, when you see a culture that has a disconnect from a leader, how do you bridge that gap to make them understand what you think you have?
Answer: I go straight to the leader and I tell him, “Your personality is tied to your desk.”

[23:47] What tips will you give to an entrepreneur who’s starting and they’re beginning to hire and build their business?
Answer: Number one is that people have to understand and know sales, and they have to know how to understand people. So I don’t care what position you have. If it’s finance, if it’s janitorial, or whatever. If you cannot interact with the people and you cannot excel, then you shouldn’t have a job.” 

[27:35] I see some of the people who are bold with technology and I see people who are reckless with technology. And how do you see it?
Answer: I love technology and I hate technology at the same time. So what I think needs to happen like how, for those who have a very direct connection with our people, we have set times where the people are allowed to call us. You shouldn’t have your phone on 24/7. I personally never have my phone ringer on because it’s a huge distraction. Just like I don’t have my emails on because it’s a distraction. 

Culture According to Melissa:

Company culture is the interaction that you or I have with the people in our organization and how we react around them and support them and be there for them as we continue to grow together.

Go To Quote for Inspiration

[Tweet @BriellaArion “Be bold, not reckless.” #quote #BECulture”]

Melissa’s Featured Books

Book Recommendations:

  • Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

What Melissa Wants her company to BE:

  • BE amazing
  • BE brilliant

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Melissa:

Connect with John on

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

John: Good morning, Melissa. Thank you and welcome to Be Culture Radio. Thank you for coming on our show today, Melissa.

Melissa: Thanks, John, for having me.

John: We’re really excited to have you and I am super excited because of your background and the accolades you have and the sheer presence of you; I mean from what I’ve read, seen and heard, I love your style. I think you might be from the North East. You just don’t know it. How you get in people’s faces and really challenge them. I mean it’s great. And Les Brown has been one of my heroes for years. He grew up as a kid in North Carolina and listening to him was just amazing, and the connection of you and him together is amazing to me. Can you tell us a little bit about you?

Melissa: Yeah, sure. In 2004, I started with Walmart. And then, in 2008, I got fired as their youngest store manager ever. Took a temp job in 2009; worked minimum wage at a factory with a temp agency. It was terrible. I hated printing homework cards. Then in 2010, I ended up becoming the district manager for Family Dollar. But the dynamics of the Family Dollar and Walmart are really very different in company culture.

So I decided “Hey, I’m going to be an entrepreneur. But in doing so, I didn’t realize that you have to be a marketer and a sales person. There are so many processes and you have to do all these other things, because you have to wear 10,000 hats when you become an entrepreneur.

So, actually what I ended up happening is that I went from a six figure salary to having no salary and just relying on myself. And that ended up with my becoming homeless, with 50 grand in debt, five maxed-out credit cards and spending 6 days in jail for speeding.

So fast forward to today. I’m actually in the top of 1% of US executives in 2014. I was named as such by the National Council of American Executives. I made a two-time international best-selling offer on history books. I’m going on an international tour with Bless Found and I’m incredibly passionate about helping small businesses and corporations get their crap together so that they can make more money and have a greater impact.

John: Melissa, I also noticed that you’ve been on NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN. Is there a network you have not been on?

Melissa:  No.

John: I just said “is she on Comedy Central, too?” Melissa, it’s amazing to me. My background is that I’m one of eight and I have six sisters. So as I like to say, I came to be a grown, housebroken. And my sisters are executives out in the world. So I have an abundance of respect for females in the workforce; executives are high-powered and I don’t fear them. And when you look at the dynamics of company culture from the good, the bad and the ugly, tell me something. Do you ever experience that when you walk in? And from your perspective, do you see and feel things that are, let’s say, a little weird?

Melissa: Always. I think one of the biggest things I notice especially in very lucrative businesses like Avionics or retail or anything else is that upper management is constantly spending an amount of time on checking their emails and being cc’d and bcc’d on crap that doesn’t have anything to do with what their actual job title is. So if they would free up their time, they could actually do what their job title says in such a way as they should be doing. When you ask an executive, “Okay. This time is freed up, how you would respond?” They have no idea how to respond.

John: Because there’s not a meeting or conference call to go to. I’m not certain we know what to do without the conference call, the meeting. Twelve years ago, my wife of 25 years and I started our own business. And we met with what I referred to as all the corporate people, who said “You can’t do this and you can’t do that, and you can’t do this.” And we live by the mantra: “Be the change you wish to see.” Very simply put. And they were like, “What’s the plan? We’re like, “Here’s our plan. Here’s how we’re going to do it and here’s our skin in the game.” And I’ve heard you talked about skin in the game and making sacrifices and I’m always amazed. When I see these corporations and I see these people come in, they have no skin in the game. Now, talk about the skin in the game. Have you experienced any of that?

Melissa: Oh, yeah, definitely, on a daily basis. It’s amazing how top management or executives or even middle managements, for example, get to the places that they desire to be. And then, because they’re there, they don’t feel like they have to work harder. They don’t have to put in their time anymore. It’s like a given that “We’re getting the salary, this company car, this company cellphone, this company credit card.” And it’s because it’s a given, it actually makes a huge impact in the corporation’s bottom line because that stuff is not being monitored a lot of the times, because at that point the company has become so large that it’s impossible to monitor these things.

So, you’ll notice that the people who are the lowest in the organization are maybe not driven as much, but they have the most skin in the game because they realize this paycheck is providing for their families. This benefit is providing for them to go to the hospital or to retire. These bonuses are providing for their family to get those extra things that they couldn’t afford.

So they will show up early. They will do extra work. They’ll do harder work. They’ll work longer and it’s amazing what that alone can do for corporations, and that’s where you find the most talent. Most of the time it’s actually at the bottom of the organization, in my opinion, because the people who have already got to the top aren’t as driven, aren’t as passionate and have lost their fire to just keep going and keep doing and keep bringing in more revenue.

John: Melissa, let’s talk about that for a minute. I heard you said the bottom, the top… I worked for the Westinghouse Electric corporation in my past. I worked for British Tire and Rubber. I worked for big corporations until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’m a round peg in a square hole. I don’t belong. I couldn’t sit in a meeting. Your hand went vertically, mine went horizontally. So yours is better than mine. I can’t do that. I actually got fired one day because I sat with the CEO of the company and there were 15 of us around the boardroom table and he’s saying, “This is what we’re going to do.” And everybody was like “yeah, yeah, yeah.” He looked at me and said “You’re out of your mind. You’ve got to be mentally unstable. Nobody would do that.” He looked at me and said “We don’t need you.” And I was like “I don’t need you.” I had to go home and explain it to my wife that I no longer had a job and I had to figure out what else I was going to do. But hey, it happens sometimes. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you talk about the bottom.

When we built our company, we didn’t have a bottom; we didn’t have a top. We had a linear organization. When Kyra and I put this together, we looked at it and said, “The backbone of any organization is the people who get to the forefront of the client experience.”

So what we did is we said, “20% of our profits are given to everybody in the organization who doesn’t earn a commission.” Again, I had the whole corporation coming to say, “You two are nuts.” and we feel great about it because we have a core of 10 people who have been with us since we opened the doors. I don’t have to do the nonsense. They manage to have the result because they believe in it, not because I said it. How do you feel about that?

Melissa: Yeah. I totally agree with you. So, the organizations that I was talking about are obviously very large corporations. Now, you’ve got companies like Facebook, Zapos, your company, my company, these sorts of companies have totally different cultural dynamics. And that dynamic includes being able to work at your own pace, work at your own hours, and sort of come and go as you please, as long as you’re being productive. They have tennis courts, pools, racket balls and sleeping areas, and all sorts of extra added benefits.

And it all comes down to this: “Do you believe in the people that you hire so much so that you know that they are buying into and firmly believing in your mission and your passion?” If you do believe that and you’re willing to pay for that, then you’re going to get greater results than most other companies out there. I mean if you look at Walmart’s turnover and your turnover, they’re dramatically different. And the reason is because the cultures are dramatically different.

John:  Yeah because my “clean-up in aisle 9” comes from someone who brings their child in here. There’s a whole other story. I get that and I’m amazed that corporations don’t get that. You hear that “You’re a member and you’re family-oriented.” Meanwhile, you’re getting on a plane on Sunday at 8 o’clock in the morning and fly. Why? To me, the disconnect is huge. I go to our firm and during the holidays, one of our designers is sitting there and she’s got a long face. I’m like “Stacey, what’s wrong?” “Well, they have this Christmas pageant at school.” And I’m like “So, what are you doing here?” I said, “Get in your car, go and come back.” Because my philosophy is, if you can’t take care of your family and yourself, you’re of very little use to this organization. And I see corporations time and time and time again, metrics – and yes, I think metrics are important – but if you build a culture, the metrics will follow, won’t they?

Melissa: Yeah. I definitely agree with you. Something to have in mind in corporate culture is having this important accountability in peer groups. So it’s very much like Alcoholics Anonymous or Weight Watchers or any of those that get high-end results for both my clients and my personnel. I mean it’s super important that we all look after each other; that we’re all there for each other, that we all know what’s going on with each other’s family, but it’s not that we’re so close that we know the last thing you ate and the last thing you did.

But at the end of the day, just to have that open door policy, that availability, to create vulnerability and sort of security in your business, will maximize your people’s productivity, credibility and longevity in your company.

John: It’s amazing to me when you talk about that. Most people – again, there’s a disconnect because the person who’s the president, who’s running the organization, is supposed to have the passion but isn’t open for feedback because it’s like “Don’t tell the emperor he doesn’t have his clothes on, or don’t tell her.” And I can tell you that I’m told I’m wrong. Probably I’m not doing it right. And it’s like an open door. Like “Hey John. I think you’re full of crap.” And I’m like “Really? Why?”

And it’s amazing, the growth and the things we can achieve, and I think other companies can achieve, if they open the door and check their egos outside the glass door and say “You know what? I’m willing to take any feedback that’s constructive, that’s viable and that makes me think.” How do you feel about that?

Melissa:  I totally agree with you. I mean, I get told all the time what to do and what not to do. What I also have is a amount of respect for that and they have an immense amount of respect for me as a result of my taking their feedback. So, they know at any point, should they feel uncomfortable, should they not like the decision that I’m making or should they disagree with it, they need to come with a valid reason and excuse, and a solution as well on how are we going to fix the problem, and why it seems to be a problem in their eyes to begin with.

Now, I think the best managers are definitely open to feedback and are open to changing relatively quickly so that the eyes of the people that provide them with support and are there for them in their organization, and they can get more rapport with them. And as a result, everything increases, especially the bottom line. But the weakest managers in any organization are ones who are always right. Those who are the “know-it-all.” Those are the people I would recommend you stay away from.

John:  Melissa, what was the – Was there a monumental event, a tipping point for you when you finally said “I get it.” Because we don’t all just wake up in the morning and say “I got it. I’m fully assembled. Here I come out of the box.” It doesn’t work that way. What was the moment for you? What was the event?

Melissa: For corporate culture?

John:  Yeah. When you got it. When you said, “I get it. I get it. I know how to do this.” I think the culture drives all of us.

Melissa:  Absolutely. So, last year – 2013. Maybe in 2013 or 2014, I don’t know, but I hired a coach just to sort of drive my organizations forward because I wasn’t doing as well financially as I desired to do. So he took a percentage and I worked really hard so that we both have skin in the game. However, when it came to driving organizational culture, I had a very different view point than he did and I fired him.

John:  Did you have a Donald Trump moment?

Melissa: Yeah. But I was absolutely convinced that I knew what I was doing, and it has worked out tremendously for me. There are times where you’re going to have to either fire people within your organization or fire your support team, not because they’re not there, but because what you believe, and how you’re visualizing things, and the path that you want to take is different than theirs. I mean, obviously, we know Steve Jobs got fired.

We know that some of the greatest people who have built organizations have been fired multiple times from their own organizations. You have to take the reins and you have to know what’s best for you. And when you do that, you’re going to have a greater culture, and you’re going to have higher buy-in from the people around you.

John:  When you have to separate people from your organization – as I said earlier, I grew up with 8 brothers and sisters. My mom, my dad; my parents were very – and still today, they’ve been married for 65 years. They’re in their mid-80s. When people would ask me who my mentor is, I’d say my mom and dad. Take a look. And my father and mother would always say “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Then my mother would say “That doesn’t mean to say it’s always nice. It’s honest.” Which I love about you because you’re brutally honest and so, people get it. And when you separate with people, it gnaws my gut out.

My wife said to me one day couple of years ago, she said “the day it stops bothering you, stop doing what you’re doing because you’ve lost the side of the human factor.” And it just resonated with me to such a great degree that it helped me move forward.

And I think a lot of people need help moving forward making, like you’re saying, that tough decision of saying “This person, I really liked this person and there are 100 reasons why, but the main reason is that you need to get rid of them because they don’t fall in line with where you’re going, and they’re an anchor.” It’s so hard to get small businesses to see that. Do you see a lot of that?

Melissa: Yeah. So I’ve used this analogy. If you’ve ever held a bird in your hand, you know that if you let the bird go, it will fly away. But if you squeeze the bird, it’s going to die.”

So it’s the same in the corporate culture or your company culture, period, especially in small businesses. If you hold on to the thing long enough, it’s going to kill you. If you let go, you’re going to grow. And the hardest thing for you to do is going to be to let go. Because when I let go of this coach, I felt  pressure internally. I mean, there was an immense amount of strain in my mind. “What’s going to happen when I do this?” And then, you feel that pressure buildup of something massive that’s going to happen, but you don’t know what’s it going to be, and when, and what’s going to take place or result from doing this.

But when you release that pressure, clarity comes. You can do things quicker, faster and more productively. Your vision is very much in the direction that you wanted to go. You can hire people who are aligned with your core values and beliefs.

Everything seems to become much easier and less stressful. So if you have that one person that you’re hanging on to, one thing that you’re hanging on to and it’s creating a pressure build up in your organization and in you internally, you’re going to be able to feel it, then you need to let go of it because it’s actually hurting you far more than you personally realize. It’s hurting your finances, hurting your culture; it’s hurting you and your ability to relate to your people and have relationships with them.

John: How do you define company culture for you?

Melissa:  Company culture is the interaction that you or I have with the people in our organization and how we react around them and support them and be there for them as we continue to grow together.

John:Now, let’s take that one step further. You consult for a lot of companies. You’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, I’m quite certain.

Melissa: Okay. I coach a lot of companies. I do not consult.

John:  Okay. My apologies. Melissa, when you see a culture that has disconnect from the leader, how do you bridge that gap to make them understand “What you think you have, you don’t.”

Melissa: I go straight to the leader and I tell him, “Your personality is tied to your desk.” And the reason I did that is that because oftentimes it’s true. A lot of times as leaders or as people in authoritative positions, we find ourselves at our desk for a good majority of our time, not around our people, or not on the phones with our people or giving them the support on the floor or on the front lines.

So if you have a bad organization, this is generally the case. Your personality is tied to your desk and you’re spending time at your desk because that’s all you can think of doing.

Now, in other organizations where culture is incredibly good, you’ll find the manager on the phone, being supportive, taking over sales calls. You’ll find them on the front lines.

You’ll find them creating an environment that’s very conducive to the results that they want. Now, I’m not saying that both companies or organizations don’t want results because honestly, they do. But one is very different than the other. One is an environment that is really driven by the team and the other one is very divided by managers, and the executives list.

John: I’ve read about you and I’ve done some research, and I know how you love reading. You take in a lot of information and I, too, have done a lot of that. And there was a period of time where I would adapt theories: “Work on your business, don’t work in your business.” Perhaps personally I took that a little bit too far. That might be shocking to people who know me. And then I realized “You know what? I am my business. I am in my business.” And so, when you looked at those leaders who have the passion, then people will say, “They’re always sticking their nose in. They’re always there, they’re always here. They overhear everything and they walk out and give advice.” For me, I say to people, “It’s just my advice. It doesn’t make it right. It just makes it mine. What is your advice?” We live by a philosophy, it is “We sit down, we strategize and the door is open.” And I say to people “to put your skin on the game, how strongly do you feel about it?

And here’s how I feel about it. And if it’s different, if you feel strong enough about it, go ahead. Take a shot. But if you don’t feel strongly enough about it and we want to do it my way, if we’re right, it’s your fault. Again, if you’re right, it’s your fault. If we’re wrong, it’s my fault.” And people are like “What did you say to me?” I’m like “If we’re right, it’s your fault.” Because people are so used to being caught doing something wrong versus caught doing something right. And again, I think it’s a problem that we have in business today.

Melissa: You’re absolutely correct. If you look at Richard Branson, the guy’s company culture is amazing because he loves his employees. He dictates his moves but he’s very strategic in doing so. He’ll only listen if it’s a good idea and he’ll make the changes necessary to enhance the company culture, and that is why he’s been so successful in building so many brands.

So that goes the same way. If you have ever been to their organization, then you know from the second you walk through the door that it’s a party. It’s a celebration of customers and employees coming together to create the highest level of service for everyone: staff, members and buyers.

John: Melissa, what tips would you give to an entrepreneur who’s starting and they’re beginning to hire and build their business? How would you advise them? How would you coach them to build a great team and a great culture?

Melissa: Number one is that people have to understand and know sales, and they have to know how to understand people. So I don’t care what position you have. If it’s finance, if it’s janitorial, or whatever. If you cannot interact with the people and you cannot excel, then you shouldn’t have a job.

Sales is just a simple interaction between you and me. Like, this could actually be considered a sales conversation, right? Potentially, it is.

John: Yes, it is.

Melissa:  The thing is that we are trained over dozens of years to think that sales is something that’s incredibly hard; something that we hate doing and something that is necessary and it is the bottom line. So your janitor should be able to have a conversation with whomever and create the sort of relationship with that individual so that they are compelled to take action and want to do business with your business.

And I think that’s the thing that’s missing in most organizations. So I would say that it’s super important to create a culture from every single point of view, because every single one of your employees is going to have a different point of view. They’re going to come from different backgrounds. They’re going to make a different amount of money and they’re going to have different positions and different authorities in your organization.

If they don’t understand building relationships with people and building relationships in sales, then you have a massive problem. And it should be fun; it should be engaging. It should be somehow competitive, I think. And it should be just something that you get excited to do every single day.

The other thing is that if you are going into your company or if you are coming home from your company, being happy, excited and fulfilled, then you’re probably in the wrong organization and you’re probably not maximizing your potential. And I can’t tell you how many millions of people are in this position.

John: What do you think that is? They’re stuck? They’re not willing to sacrifice to get out?

Melissa:   They’re making choices based on comfort. So I’ll give you an example. There is a guy that I know who works for John Bayer and he purposely goes in late every single day to work because he knows he can get away with it and because he absolutely hates his job. But he’s moving into something that he loves and so because his boss never catches him, it’s never an issue. However, if he were to take an entire day off, of course his boss would catch him because he’s tested that theory too. I think that we just make choices based on where we are in life.

If we have bad credit, if we have to put food on the table, if we have medical bills, if we have college tuition, if we have to retire soon. If we have whatever, we spend for the lifestyle that we’re living and we make decision based on that. Now, the best of the best in any organization don’t make decisions based on that. Instead, they make decisions based on where they want to be and how fast they can get there and on what risk they are going to take in order to make that happen.

John:  Let’s talk about risk and be bold. There are phrases “be bold, but not reckless”, correct?

Melissa:  Yeah.

John: Can we talk about that for a minute and what that means to you? Because technology has kind of taken over our lives and it’s overtaken our culture, and I see some of the people who are bold with technology and I see people who are reckless with technology. How do you see it?

Melissa: Yeah. I love technology and I hate technology at the same time. So what I think needs to happen those of us who have a very direct connection with our people, is that we have set times where the people are allowed to call us. You shouldn’t have your phone on 24/7. I personally never have my phone ringer on because it’s a huge distraction. Just like I don’t have my emails on because it’s a distraction. I don’t even own a television because it’s a distraction. I think that you need to know what the distraction is and what’s going to take you further.

So being bold is all about knowing all the risks that you’re getting into, the probability of the pay-off and what the return on your investment is going to be when you make that investment. Being reckless on the other hand is just doing a bunch of things, not knowing not whether or not they’re going to work, not knowing when the payoff is going to be and not knowing what the hell is going to happen as a result.

John:   Do you see a set of scenarios that are repeated time and time again where people – where there are now the most common mistakes that happened over and over again? And you’re hit with it and as a coach, you’re like “I’ve seen this, I’ve seen it again. It’s groundhog day. What am I going to do?”

Melissa:  I think the number one thing that people are overwhelmed with is information because they’re bombarded with it every single day. They can easily Google something. They’re constantly reading books. They’re constantly up-leveling, but they’re not at all applying the knowledge that they have.

You can read 10 books a month, you can take five courses, you can invest in the latest and greatest technology, but none of that is really going to matter unless you’re applying it in your own culture in your own organization.

I actually recommend doing as little as possible, but making as big an impact as possible and that’s important for a couple of reasons.

The big thing is that people tend to consume tons and tons of news. They tend to consume lots and lots of information: the radio is blasting, and the emails are coming in, the phone is ringing and you have, of course, outside of the company culture the things that you need to get done, like you need to take your kids to soccer practice and what not.

So all of that is on our mind every single day. But how do we slow down and get more done in less time? Because right now, company culture dictates that we do more with less time and we have to have an incredible amount of energy to get it done, right?

John: Yes, absolutely.

Melissa: So, we’ve got to take two steps back here and we have to stop consuming information at the rate we’re consuming it. So I would say: look at where you are in your organization and look at what needs to be done in your own home that affects what goes on at work, and vice versa. So if you have an unclean desk, if you have an unclean closet, if you have a dirty car, if you have a massive desk, all that is a result of your internal beliefs. So you need to stop consuming the news. You need to stop listening to the radio.

Stop answering emails the second they come in. Stop answering text messages or phone calls when the phone is ringing and stop doing all that because when you do, you’ll realize that you have the power and you have the control to call people back on your schedule, to answer emails on your schedule, to do things when it’s the right time to do it and not when it needs to be done. Unless of course it’s an emergency and needs immediate attention. But the reality is that when we do that, we can actually increase our productivity a lot and multiply our bottom line as a result.

John:  Melissa, you talk about belief and one of the things I find very interesting is that, for me, I believe everybody has a tribe. Everybody belongs to something as something belongs to you. For me, my tribe is my mom and my dad, and my six sisters and brothers, and my wife and my children. That’s my tribe. That’s what drives me. That’s my passion. That’s where I go to get renewed, and where I get information. The hierarchy of the tribe changes based upon my needs. Do you see that for people? How it ties into their belief system, that they belong to something as something belongs to them?

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. I actually just did a show the other day where somebody asked me if love and emotion are actions. And I said they’re both.

The reality is that we have to create space for ourselves. We have to take time for ourselves and so many people don’t do that. So in order for you to create a tribe that is going to get you to where you want to go, you have to look what results have they achieved. How passionate are they in their work? How long have they been committed to doing something? Now, you talked about your parents being married for a very long time.

John: 65 years. I don’t know how anybody could do that. I’ve been married 25 and I’m pretty sure there are days that she wants nothing to do with me.

Melissa:  The level of commitment, though, is immense.

John:   Yeah. My father said to me once, “It’s not a 50-50 deal son.”

Melissa: It’s 100 and 100.

John:   It’s 100 to 100 and then he turned to me and said, “And you got to pick a side of the road because if you are standing in the middle of the road, there’s a hundred percent chance you’re going to get run over.” I just went in like “Wow. Here’s a guy from Newton, Iowa, who was raised on a farm and he comes up with some of the damnedest things.” “Wow, Pop, okay, sure.” And I use it in business. And people are like “Where did you get that? What motivational speaker gave this?” My dad, my mom.

One of my older sisters, she was the first female executive for Prudential back when there weren’t female executives. I go to her when I have business issues. She’s about eight years older than me and I say “Hey.” I call her Jean the Machine.

“Hey Machine. What do I do with this?” she looks at me and says, “You’re incorrigible.” But then she gives me my answers that fit for me, because she understands my belief systems.

Melissa: So that the other thing. You have to be vulnerable enough to open up to these people and let them know you. They need to know who you are as a person, all the way through, not just some bullshit person you hired to say “Hey! I need you to help me become accountable.” That’s not going to work because they don’t know you. Your sister grew up with you and my brother did in the same way. If I need something, I’ll go to my brother and he’s six years younger. My sister’s my editor; she knows the way I write so she’s not going to change that.

And if she did change it, I’d be very mad. I can’t hire an editor because the editor would say “This is not the proper way to write.” And I would say “Well, you know what? The way I write and the way other people write are two very different things and I cannot have you change the way that I want to share with people my message and passion because that’s the way I do it. And yes, I understand it’s very different but at the end of the day, it’s what works for me and that’s what matters.”

John:  And I think that’s the key: “What works for you.” Just a quick anecdote. We hired a PR firm a number of years back and he did this little video and it all came out. I looked at it. I was like “Wow. You did a video? And there’s nothing but white guys in the video.” I said “Time out. There are no women. There are no people with the caller. I don’t get this.” I said “You’ve offended my very basic being; what drives me.” And they looked at me, “What’s wrong with you?” I said “My wife is black. I’m white, I’ve got six sisters, and I don’t believe in anything you’re doing. You need to leave.” And my wife was like “Wow.” I said “No. You’ve crossed the boundary.”

And I think people take too much in. They take too much crap, so to speak, without saying “Here are the fundamentals of my life and I live by these beliefs, and I will not surrender them to anybody for any reason. Now, you may not like me and its okay. I’m all right with it. But I’m going to live and die by these beliefs.” And I don’t see that a lot anymore. Everybody wants to be liked.

Melissa: Yeah. Being liked and trusted are great for sales but otherwise, they’re not great in company culture. You have to stand your ground and have to stand it very tight. You have to know what you believe and be convinced of that. And when you are convinced of that you will be committed 100% of the time. There’s nothing that’s going to make you stray from your path. There’s no storm. There’s no distance. There’s no time. There’s no nothing that’s going to take you off the path of knowing where it is that you want to go and what it is that you want to achieve. And the thing that’s going to drive you to get there is your people.

John:  It’s all about people. I mean, raising children, I think, gives you an insight into people that is just priceless. I have three kids, one happens to be a special needs child; our eldest. He’s the love of my life. He gives me more insight. One morning, he puts his arm on my shoulder and says to me, “Dad, go help those people. They need you.” It brought tears to my eyes. Most of the time I’m like “How did you know that?” He said “Because I listen. I listen to you talk to Mom at night.” I’m like “Wow. From the mouth of babes.” I think kids give us an insight, a grounding and a foundation.

As I like to say, all my kids are over 20 years old now, and for years I used to pick them up and turn them upside down and look at the bottom for directions; there are none.

Live by your principles. Live by – be a good person. If you’re a good person and you take care of things that matter to you, you’ll see that in your children. If not, you will see that in your children. And so, to that end, I just wanted to shift a little bit because we’re coming to the end of the show and I really appreciate your time. I know we’ve run a little long, but I just want to ask you about 3 more questions if I could, Melissa.

Melissa:   Absolutely, you got it.

John: What book changed your life?

Melissa:  Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino. I mean, I’m totally ragging on sales.

John: Love that. Well, that’s the greatest book ever. That’s not about sales. That’s about life.

Melissa:  It’s just a book that will literally change your life.

John:  I guess it will. Yes, it will. What’s your go-to quote for inspiration?

Melissa:  I have to say, “Be bold, not reckless.” It’s a totally new quote, actually. That quote actually came from me when asking one of my speakers on the tour to create a quote that had both a bold image and so that we could hang it around the room, because we’re going to have 25 quotes randomly placed throughout the room that have the word bold in them and a hashtag that creates that environment and that impact.

John: What company do you admire the most as they relate to their culture?

Melissa:  Zappos for sure.

John: Excellent. Okay and here we go. Here’s the last one, Melissa. Starting with BE as you start out, if you have to describe the culture of your company in 3 words, what would it would be?

Melissa: Amazing.

John:  Be amazing. I think it’s pretty amazing.

Melissa:  It’s brilliant. Either way it works.

John:  That’s what I love about you. You’re not shy and your self-confidence is not lacking, which I’ve truly appreciated because I love people who would tell me just the way it is. I’ve loved spending this time with you. It has been enormously educational for me and our listeners. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your tour?

Melissa: Yes. Our tour is an international tour. Our first stop is Houston, Texas and then, we go to Orlando, LA, New York City, Malaysia, Australia and lots of other places. So all of those details are on boldtobooktour.com.

John: I believe when I was doing my research – are you writing another book?

Melissa:  No, no, no.

John:  No, you’re not? No more books? You’ve had enough?

Melissa:  Okay, writing a book was never on my agenda to begin with. Actually, that came from my significant other at the time having to work abroad for four months. And so, maybe, I think I was devastated, and there were only two options. The options were to be devastated or to do something good about it. So I got my laptop and started writing At that point, I had literally just moved into a 4,000 square foot home. And so, what ended up happening was that I told my friend, Sarah, “I’m writing a book.”

And she’s like “What?” “I’m writing a book.” She said “You know nothing about that.” I’m like “That’s right. And I don’t care right now,” because knowing something about it and actually doing something are two different things and that’s what I’m telling you. You need to stop consuming information and start pouring it.

John:   All of the show notes will be on our link and you’ll be able to pick up Melissa’s information. Melissa, if someone wants to write and ask you a question – I know you do coaching. I know you do keynote speaking. You have a beautiful website and do you want to share any information with our listeners about that?

Melissa:  Sure. You can go to briellaarion.com. I’ll spell it out. B R I E L L A A R I O N .com. On there, you’ll find a new 20 minute video. That’s super detailed, it’s about my story and how I make an impact and then of course, there are audios, videos, books and how to get contact with me in social media and all sorts of other cool stuff for you.

John: Melissa, you’ve been a breath of fresh air. I’ve really enjoyed the time we spent together. I know we ran a little bit long. I thank you very much for indulging me with the few extra minutes I’ve asked for, and we’d love to have you back again. Thank you so much.

Melissa:   Awesome. Thanks, John, for having me.

John:  Talk with you soon.