Emerson Built That Podcast Interview with Allison De Meulder

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Spread Your Sunshine Founder Melanie S. Griffin, Esq. was recently the Featured Guest on Emerson Built That. Hosted by Allison De Meulder, the podcast focuses on the experiences of entrepreneurs via honest, down-to-earth discussions. During the interview, Melanie shared her insight on two words that she finds at the heart of many successful entrepreneurial journeys - gratitude and authenticity. Melanie and Allison also discussed abandoning perfection, pivoting careers, prioritizing and completing tasks, imperfectly perfect projects, embracing "failure," the importance of mentorship, and much more.

Abandoning Perfection

When Allison asked Melanie to name the two words that describe her success, Melanie responded, "abandoning perfection." Melanie realized that for years, her fear of failure drove her to be a perfectionist. By abandoning perfection, she could best determine the tasks that are worthy of her time, get more done, and pursue endeavors without worrying about the outcome. The shift to a growth mindset catapulted her learning, as she now views "mistakes" or "failures" in a positive light: instead of dwelling on what went wrong, she instead asks what she can learn from the experience to create a different outcome in the future.

Creation of Spread Your Sunshine

After discussing the development of her career as a lawyer, including the article Dream Beyond Perfection that she originally wrote for 50 Lessons for Women Lawyers – From Women Lawyers, Melanie discussed the advent of Spread Your Sunshine. At the time, her numerous one-on-one mentorships were becoming overwhelming, as although she loves helping others, there are only twenty-four hours in each day, and it was becoming difficult to balance the number of people seeking her help with her job as a full-time lawyer. So, Spread Your Sunshine was born to scale Melanie's mentorship abilities and give the world inspirational products focused on empowering and celebrating others. 

Prioritizing & Completing Tasks

Following-up on there only being twenty-four hours in each day, Melanie reminisced on advice given to her about how to focus on the immediate task at hand when there are always additional projects in the wings - do one thing well and finish it before moving on to the next project. At first, this advice was elusive, as Melanie has always considered herself a multitasker. Over time, however, as Spread Your Sunshine tackled bigger and bigger projects that could not be completed simultaneously, she realized the importance of this advice and followed it.

To do so, Melanie made a master list of potential Spread Your Sunshine projects. The list allows Melanie to focus on Spread Your Sunshine's current initiative while knowing that ideas for new projects are not lost. The list also acts as a roadmap, prioritizing Spread Your Sunshine's future tasks. The list further acts as an accountability partner. Melanie knows that sometimes she wants to start working on a new idea even though a current Spread Your Sunshine project is incomplete. The list tells her "no!," reaffirming the priorities for the upcoming day, week, month, quarter and year. Finally, the list is a sense of accomplishment. Although on a daily basis it is easy to feel like progress is not being made, reviewing the projects completed highlights Spread Your Sunshine's "wins" in hindsight.

#ShineItForward™ Through Imperfection

It was not always easy to see Spread Your Sunshine's progress. For example, for twenty-two months, the website homepage was nothing more than a “coming soon” announcement. Despite this, Melanie is glad that she launched Spread Your Sunshine when she did, as the experience helped her learn the importance of starting something even when it's imperfect. Through social media and events, a lot of good was still done to #ShineItForward™ and uplift others even without the more formalized tools she would eventually build. And, who knows when those tools would have come to fruition if Melanie had not had the courage to introduce her imperfect project to the world when she did. Had she continued to wait until her project was "ready to launch," that day may never have come.

Try "Failure"

But, launching an imperfect project begs the question, "What if the project "fails"?" Melanie's advice? “Try it.” Melanie has realized that failure is not the worst thing that can happen, and rather, teaches you as much as any success, if not more. While the goal is not "failure," the fear that something will not work out as originally planned should not stop you from pursuing a goal or dream. It’s better to fail then to not do something that is in your heart. Plus, every experience, good or bad, is a learning opportunity. Facing and overcoming adversity helps you grow and increases your resilience so that the next time you face a challenge, you are more prepared. In this way, "failures" are often silver linings that heighten your appreciation for life and helping others, in the end, causing a sense of gratitude for life's surprises.

The Importance of Mentorship

This said, flourishing in the face of adversity is often easier with a good mentor. While some people struggle to find the perfect person to give them advice, Melanie believes a mentor is: (1) anyone you consider a trusted source; (2) who can help guide you through the given situation. In fact, having at least one mentor who thinks differently from you, including a mentor of the opposite sex, is important. Such person can offer a fresh perspective and help you analyze a situation differently then you otherwise would on your own or with a mentor who is like-minded. 

Pivoting Careers

Mentors are also helpful if you are considering entrepreneurship or pivoting careers. When analyzing such a transition, ask yourself what it is you enjoy doing and how you can monetize that product or service. To reduce the pressure, don’t feel the need to quit your current job immediately and fully commit to your new idea. It’s quite all right to start small and build upon your ideas before going “all in.” In fact, although counter-intuitive, being risk-averse is a cornerstone of successful entrepreneurship and having a safety net is smart. This is especially true if you need to learn a different skillset associated with the new business venture, such as the associated business lingo or logistics acronyms. Taking the time to invest in such knowledge will ease your transition, increase your professional credibility, and help you shine your brightest in your new endeavor.

To listen to this podcast episode and view the associated show notes, please visit Emerson Built That, Season 1, Episode 22And, to hear more from Melanie and Allison, follow @SpreadYourSunshine and @matrickandeve on Instagram. 

Is there anything further that YOU want to learn about that will help the SYS community?! We’re sure you do, so please share your requests by emailing Melanie@SpreadYourSunshine.com or by sending Spread Your Sunshine a message via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together, we are our best.

Referenced Resource:

Originals by Adam Grant

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