“When you get out of your comfort zone, that’s when great things happen.”
– Ati Williams
There are so many great things I could say about my dear friend, Ati. The last time I saw her, she had just shown us The Poopy Dance in front of a live audience on the Rock Your Talk stage, which is absolutely as impactful as it sounds (scroll down for a piece of the action.) Ati is a mother and entrepreneur. She attributes a lot of the innovative solutions she has used to build her real estate company, DC HomeBuzz, with her Kenyan upbringing.
In this episode, we discuss rocking your personal brand, what motherhood has taught Ati about being a leader, and how to properly answer the dreaded: “So tell me about yourself.”
I asked Ati if her 5yo self would give her a high-five. Watch this for her answer.
THEN, the tables turn and Ati surprises me with a few questions. Listen to this episode of Adventures in Branding to find out how I found my personal brand, what are some of hiring tactics, and what really happened in Bali.
Be a part of the Rock Your Talk audience this Thursday, October 26, 2017 and listen to some amazing people share impactful stories. Watch Ati’s talk (and The Infamous Poopy Dance) from the last Rock Your Talk event in June 2017 for a piece of the action:
BONUS ROUND: Ati is actually a fantastic artist! Here’s a beautiful piece she painted for the office.
“It’s important to work together to ensure everyone has the opportunity to take time for themselves.”
– Michelle Lim Warner
Meet my neighbor, Michelle Lim Warner. Michelle owns DCanter Wine Boutique on Barracks Row here in DC with her husband. Together they are creating a powerhouse in the wine lifestyle market.
We hadn’t seen each other in awhile so it was great to do some catchup here on the podcast. She and her business have been undergoing some serious growth! Michelle has been branding her business like a branding pro – so much so that all of her new hires are so excited about the culture they have created together at DCanter – and the crazy part?! They were all customers FIRST!
This week, we talk about growing your team, using your growing team’s talent to help catapult your business, manifesting a work/life balance, and the commitment it takes to own a business with your spouse. First tip: take walking meetings! Listen in to find out why.
Watch her answer "What's one tip for building a better culture?":
“Our lives are not made up of minutes. They’re made up of moments.” – Mark Batterson
Each of us has a story. A lot of us just think that our story is insignificant. I’m here to let you know you couldn’t be more wrong. Whether you’ve been through the big things or the small things, it doesn’t matter. Someone else has gone through them as well. And some of us are going through them. And some things are still yet to come for some us. But you would never know who needed to hear exactly what you have to say until you say it.
It’s no secret – I’m a BIG fan of stories. I love sharing them and I love receiving them even more. The last couple of weeks have been amazing with 6 sets of women on HERadventures. Storytelling is one of the biggest drivers for why I do a lot of what I do, and the biggest inspiration for Rock Your Talk.
I can think of fewer things in life than helping someone organize their story and helping them get the hint of courage they need to be able to get on stage and tell it to the world! In honor of stories, being back to Adventures in Branding, and the launch of the second Rock Your Talk, I made a whole episode all about stories and the impact your story can have on someone else.
If you don’t know already, Rock Your Talk is a show put on by myself and my co-host, Patrick of Patchbay Media, where we get people on stage to share their story in front of a live audience. If you’re interested in being a speaker, audience member, or just want to find out more, visit irockmytalk.com
I launched a new brand. A spankin’ new brand! Branding a brand expert has been no small feat. And not in the way you would think.
Not once did I ever believe I would ever own another brand – ever. SISARINA FOR LIFE! And anyone who thought differently would get punched in the face. I was adamant that Sisarina was it. Until I let it all go – my business, my list of services, my entrepreneur clients, my employees – even the brand voice. I stepped in front of it all and created a whole new brand – one that sells one product: ME!
Not long ago, my crew asked me a pivotal question that would start a ripple in my own life – changing my direction and allowing me to take the next step. The question? “If you didn’t have any responsibilities, what would you do instead?” My answer: “Write a book & teach.”
The only problem was, I had every excuse in the book as to why I HAD to keep Sisarina. Why I HAD to keep my crew, my clients, my responsibilities. Why I absolutely COULDN’T go write a book and teach. And I held onto those stories – and made them my own. Like I had for YEARS before that question.
Stories are how we connect to each other. We’re humans talking to humans about human things. But most people forget about the human element and start talking in bullet points and PowerPoints about all the things they do. The stories are what keep us together. They’re how we build relationships.
Every single one of us has a story inside of us. We have stories. Our companies are filled with humans who have stories. Our companies have stories. Stories are everywhere – yet most of us never share them. Most of us keep our stories to ourselves. And it’s because we don’t believe anyone will care about our stories. We hide them thinking we’re the only ones with that particular story. Until we share them and start finding the weirdos just like us who were hiding their own stories.
Our stories aren’t for us – the good, the bad and the ugly isn’t ours to keep. When we share our stories, we create little ripples. The more people we share our stories with, the more ripples we create. One person is touched by our story and they share it with another. The more impact that ripple makes, the bigger the ripple becomes until it slowly becomes a fast-moving wave crashing on a distant shore. We have NO idea the impact we end up making, but I know for certain that if we don’t share our stories, zero impact is made.
I didn’t start sharing my story until about a year ago. My story of being too much and how when I owned who I was, I became wild & free. (But you’ll have to come listen to my Rock Your Life talk to find out more.) Finding my story allowed me to share it and when I shared it, I heard how much it touched others. One woman said: “I may be nobody to most but now I am somebody to me.”Stories are powerful.
When we find out who we are, our stories start coming to the surface. When we stand in our own personal brands (yes, each of us has one, we just have to define it), we stand in a humble confidence that gives us the power to change lives. Our personal brands show up at home, at work, and with our friends. Our personal brands go before us and make sure people are talking about us – but if we don’t define our own brands, others will define them for us.
My personal brand is Approachable Badass.
The approachable part makes sure I get to know you really well by making you feel so comfortable you WANT to tell me things. The badass part goes deeper and further and ends up pushing you off the edge of a cliff you’ve been staring at for years – it’s the part that makes things a little uncomfortable. Together, we're able to find the stories you forgot were even in there – the human stories – whether you’re a person or a company. And I’m REALLY good at it. It’s my purpose – my superpower if you will.
Which leads me to launching Branded Confidence by Melanie Spring – a brand of confidence by a human who finally stepped into who she was called to be. And who wants to show you how to do the same for yourself.
This gives me a platform to help you create those stories and share them. Branded Confidence was built to give brands – the personal ones AND the corporate ones – the courage to be what they were made to be. To find their purpose, understand the core of who they are, and make sure they attract the humans and clients they deserve.
When your brand is confident, you walk into every room with poise, tenacity and a fearless grit.
You know who you are, what you stand for, and how to talk about it – personally and professionally. And then you can share the story of who you are with the world.
Which is what I’m finally doing myself.
Your turn: Ask yourself “If I didn’t have any responsibilities, what would I do instead?” Then write down all of the excuses, the stories you're telling yourself about why you can't do the thing you want to do – and burn it. Then go do the thing you want to do. Or, at the VERY least, take the first step.
Thanks for being a part of my story. I can’t wait to be a part of yours.
I LOVE the beach. Going to the beach is my escape from regular life. I’ve always gone in the winter with my pups because it’s the quietest, most relaxing place I know. I like to sit on the beach to stare into the distance and think. I like to run on it as the sun rises in its brilliance. I like to watch the gloriousness as the sun sets. I like to grab a tan in warm seasons while reading my favorite book. It’s peaceful there. A loud, yet quiet peaceful.
Having lived on both US coasts, I still can't fathom how people live in the middle. (Seriously, middle dwellers, explain it to me.) I have to live on the coast close enough to reach the beach in a few hours max. Landlocked places make me antsy. I need to know the waves are still rushing. I need to see them for myself. I need to know that life is really still moving and not because we’re moving it. I need that taste of the power of God. I need to see the ocean but I never EVER wanted to go in. Never.
My whole life I’ve been terrified of the water. I liked being next to the water. To watch the waves, to enjoy the splashing, to see what the ocean brings to the sand. I didn't grow up with an ocean nearby. I know how to float and paddle around in a pool or a lake, but my labored breath quickly takes over & I freak out if I have to go too far. Knowing how quickly the ocean could kill me, that something inside it could eat me, or hearing of people who were swept out to sea and lived on little boats drinking their own pee? Yeah, not for me.
Until one day…
My California uncle told me ocean kayaking wasn't that much different from river kayaking. He took me to a little beach near Pismo, California with what looked like a giant Tupperware container and sent me out in a life jacket to jump in it. His only warning – "don't put the kayak between the wave and you." He pushes me out. Wave one. Smash, tip over. I’m under water. Coming up fighting for air. Wave two. Smash, can't get back in. The life jacket is holding me down in the water. I keep trying because everyone on the beach is watching.
Shaking, I dragged that oversized bathtub boat back to shore. Goosebumps and deep breaths. He laughed. "What's wrong? Are you cold? Go on, try it again." No thanks. That was terrifying. He had no idea that I had never been in the ocean before. Profuse apologies and hugs ensued. He felt awful but had never thought to ask. How could anyone not have been in the ocean in their mid-30’s?! We found a spot on the beach with no waves and like a child, he pushed me into the quiet water. Beautiful ocean kayaking without the terror of the waves. I loved it. He now asks everyone "Have you been in the ocean?" before taking them out.
6 months later, I was at the beach enjoying the sun only to realize there was no bathroom at the beach. Yikes. My friend told me to go stand in the waves. “Nah, I can hold it." He rolled his eyes and took my hand. We walked into the ocean, chatted for a bit and I felt relieved – in more ways than one. Something that small had been scary enough to make me want to wait. Why was I so scared?
6 months after that, I went to Hawaii. The waves – oh, the waves. I loved sitting on the beach watching the blue water but wasn't interested in body surfing or boogyboarding – terrifying. What if the current took me under? Learning how the waves worked and watching how I could anticipate them, I felt a tiny bit more comfortable. Until we got to the snorkling reef. I was just going to sit on the beach. Zero desire to swim with the fishes.
Except that they had these full face mask things (a friend said they look like jockstraps for your face) that allowed you to breathe regularly through your mouth and nose. So, out we went. The first time was terrifying and beautiful. I was breathing too fast. So I tried again. And wow. All of the wonder below the water's surface. All the fish, the coral, the critters. So incredible. I was hooked.
And then I went to Bali on Escape to Bali with Jennifer Moore. Bali is a magical place. It tricks you into thinking you can do anything. With a bronze tan, loads of yoga and exercise, and all the vegan food a girl can consume, I felt a wee bit less than certain that I could conquer this insane fear of the ocean. The lovely human leading us took us to the ocean for surf lessons – each of us with individual instructors. I was assigned to a tall skinny Balinese college student, Ricky, who looked like he had grown up in the ocean. After learning all of the techniques and processes to stand on a board, my ankle was strapped to a board and I was dragged out into the waves fighting the undercurrent. Ricky seemed to walk on water as if there was nothing holding him back. I struggled. Hard. Waves, fear, heavy breathing, worry of death. Ugh.
Waves hitting me over and over, we finally reached what he thought was a good spot and he turned the board and told me to lay on it. "Do your best." And sent me on my way. I started to stand up, got to my knees and road a wave to the beach. A little thrill. Walking the board back out, he put me on it again. Wobble, balance lost, splash. All the salt up my nose. Cough. Sputter. I hate this.
Heading back out, we got to a new spot. On the board, wave hits, pushup, left foot back, front foot on, wham. Fell off. As I wipe my face sputtering swear words under my breath, I look back and see Ricky with his arms up and a big smile. I got up! Wait, I did. I got up. Let's do it again.
The next time I went out, I asked Ricky to say "I believe in you" when he pushed me. Hearing those words was just what I needed to get up & rock it. Over the next 90min, I got up fully seven times and rode to the beach three of those. What a rush! First time out and I'm hooked. Yes! Apparently, I have great balance. I even figured out how to steer the board. Yes! Let's do this again! Salt in my sinuses, be damned.
Only after we were done did I find out how rough the ocean had been. The instructors were proud of all of us for rocking our beginner lessons in that surf. Ummm, yeah. Had I known this, I would have opted out. My fear had been monumental – something I never thought I would overcome – but as I grabbed a selfie with Ricky before I left, he said, "Melanie, I killed your scared." Oh man, he did. He killed my scared.
My entire life I’ve been worried about the big bad ocean while also being soothed by its power. There’s obviously a metaphor in there somewhere – but if I take this at just face value, I see how much this one fear has affected so many other things for me.
I recently got a long train-of-thought email from one of the speakers for Rock Your Talk. It was the type of email you don't want to read or you'll edit – so she just hit send. And boy, was it powerful. It reminded me of my own scary first few years in business. She shared about how she had been learning and growing over the years – sinking tons of money into learning about her business – only to realize that she was avoiding actually doing the things she was learning. She was the one holding herself back and she was ready to break the pattern by getting on stage and sharing her story with the world. She was ready to face her fears of success. She was ready to be successful. But SHE had to make that decision and take the steps to get there. She needed to kill her scared.
We place limits on ourselves – and sometimes we don’t even realize how limiting they are. My surfing lesson wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things – I doubt I’ll ever become a professional. BUT it showed me that I was hiding from things that were limiting me. “Life without limits” is my mantra. And I’m the only one putting limits on myself. My fears are standing in the way of the things I want to do – nothing else. It’s up to me to step over them – through them – and find the joy on the other side.
What’s in YOUR way?
What’s your ocean?
Start with little steps. Find out how the seawater tastes. Float for a bit. Jump in a kayak. Go snorkeling. And then stand up on that surfboard. When you finally release the fear, you realize how small it really was in the first place.
I’m standing in the ocean with you. Let's kill your scared!