January 3, 2024

2023 Year in Review

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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2023 was a year of ups and downs in the industry. It was also a big year of growth and change for me and my company. In this episode I brought back Ellen Lawrence, my wife and Sr. Director of Analytical Development to facilitate a conversation about what went well in 2023, where I had my biggest growth, challenges I had to overcome that don’t go away when you work for yourself, and highlight what is coming in 2024.

What you’ll learn:

  • The biggest obstacle and pain point of my year and how I overcame it
  • What I’m most proud of and in Andy Cohen WWHL style, my top 5 of the year
  • Where I saw the most growth in myself and where I still have work to do
  • What to look out for in 2024

Note: The views and opinions that are expressed in this episode are Ellen’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of her employer.




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Melissa Lawrence (00:06)

Welcome to your worthy career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate cred in talent development and organizational psychology. And I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here, the one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of woo so you can run your career with ease, rather than your career running you. You were born for more, and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up level begins now.

Melissa Lawrence (01:18)

And welcome to the first episode of 2024. I’m so happy to be with you here today. And I brought back a fan favorite, my wife, Ellen. She’s in the office with me. And so for this episode, I wanted to do a recap of 2023, like a year in review, what we’re going to be doing for 2024 and set the year up on a good note. And who better to facilitate this conversation with me and give you behind the scenes looks and get me talking about things? Maybe I didn’t plan to then. Ellen. So we have poured some wine. It is a Tuesday evening and we’re going to talk about 2023. 

Say hi, Ellen.

Ellen Lawrence (02:15)


Melissa Lawrence (02:18)

So for those that maybe don’t know, Ellen, maybe this was your first episode. Ellen is my wife. She is a director, senior director of analytical development. She works in industry and that’s actually where we met many years ago. And now she joins me on occasion to give myself and everyone a little treat.

Ellen Lawrence (02:43)

So much fun.

Melissa Lawrence (02:43)

Yeah. So the last one we did was called tipsy takeover, where she interviewed me with surprise questions. This one is a little bit similar. So she prepared questions ahead of time. I don’t know what they are. I do know that we’re talking about a year in review, so I did think about it a little bit, but I’m going to be hearing your questions or hearing her questions the same time you’re hearing them. And we’re just going to go from there.

Ellen Lawrence (03:08)

All right.

Melissa Lawrence (03:09)

Or are you just going to dive right in?

Ellen Lawrence (03:11)

Sounds good. No, I mean 2023, the year that was what? I don’t know. I’ve heard bits and pieces of your year, what you’re comfortable sharing, and it sounds like it was a busy year for you. I also had a busy year, so we kind of had that in common, and it seemed like it was a transitionary year for you based on what I heard in terms of your business model and where you want to take your business for the future, in terms of growth, in terms of having a greater footprint in the industry and impacting more people positively. So kind of thinking about that, as you think back on your year, what do you feel was the biggest challenge that you overcame in 2020?

Melissa Lawrence (04:04)

The biggest challenge. Okay. You should know I always start my sessions with the positive, but.

Ellen Lawrence (04:11)

Well, this is positive.

Melissa Lawrence (04:14)

You didn’t say I overcame the challenge.

Ellen Lawrence (04:15)

Yeah. What is the biggest challenge you overcome?

Melissa Lawrence (04:17)

Oh, that I overcame.

Ellen Lawrence (04:18)

Okay. Sorry, am I not speaking?

Melissa Lawrence (04:25)

I had quite a few challenges. Are we going to talk about multiple challenges or just this one?

Ellen Lawrence (04:30)

No, we’re going to talk about more challenges, different capacities.

Melissa Lawrence (04:38)

Okay. Biggest challenge. I would say the biggest challenge was my growth, not just in my business model, but in who I had to become this year to execute on this year.

Ellen Lawrence (04:58)

My biggest challenge you overcame was yourself.

Melissa Lawrence (05:01)

Yeah. And I think everyone listening really relates to that. They’ll be like, yeah, I might think it’s a problem, too, sometimes. Yeah. I didn’t think I was the problem necessarily. But when I think about, for example, launching the groups that I did this year, I wasn’t new to facilitating groups. I was new to offering this service in this way. And that is something that I had to do a lot of work on to pivot from the one on one coach to the coach that facilitated groups. And there’s a whole skill set involved in that. Right. Instead of just, hey, come talk to me when you want to get some coaching. Set up a consultation, and then we see what the waitlist is or what the situation is and then get you scheduled for your first session. This was thinking about the common denominator across multiple people and having them come into a space at the same time to work on the same problem. And I dragged my feet on that a lot. Like, it actually was something I had planned to do last year. So this would have been 2022, end of 2022. And I didn’t do it because I was too stuck in the how.

Melissa Lawrence (06:19)

I was too stuck in making sure that whatever I put together was going to facilitate a return on investment that was the same or greater than what they would experience one on one with me. There were some unknowns there and I had to really work through those to figure out how I could guarantee the results that I promised in a new format I hadn’t done before. And that took a lot of growth on my part. And I just want to mention also what this relates to is really self doubt and doubting yourself, trusting yourself ahead of time, and it’s something I work with my clients all the time on. And you can get to a point where you don’t doubt yourself anymore. But then when new challenges come up and you get to your next level of growth, that’s usually when people say they experience impostor syndrome, which is not how I would classify this, but that’s how some people say how it feels. It’s just you’re at this new level of growth you haven’t conquered yet. And one of my clients said the greatest thing today in the group program we’re talking about, and she said, my boss kept giving me the opportunity to doubt myself and I didn’t take the opportunity.

Melissa Lawrence (07:31)

And I thought that was such a beautiful way to say it because in your life, and I’m getting really winded here, but as far as explaining this answer, but in your life, you get so many opportunities to doubt yourself when you try anything new, just like I did when I started launching these groups and doing a different business model and growing and getting in front of different audiences, I had all of these opportunities, like she said, to doubt myself and to maybe say, I’m going to stay in the safe lane. And the one-on-one coaching. And the certain containers for coaching I’ve been doing so far have been really successful for me. I’m just going to keep doing that and not break out and do something new. And I had those opportunities and I turned them down. It took me a little time to work through them because I care so much. I know it sounds like a weird thing to say, but I care so much about the results that my clients get. I take their investment as seriously as they do, and so I don’t want them to invest in something I offer and not get the results if they do the work.

Melissa Lawrence (08:34)

And so I just had to get really creative in figuring out how I could make sure they had the best experience possible. And so that took a lot of growth for me. I feel like it was a good personal growth for me to get to this next level and then be faced with some of those challenges. I’ve had earlier in my career, like my clients do, and I was able to recover more quickly because of who I am. But you’re going to continue to grow, and when you grow, you have challenges, and you’re going to have to always know how to overcome them. And so I had that going on in the background.

Ellen Lawrence (09:04)

Okay. So the challenge was kind of the pivot and the business model and the self doubt and fear that you had to overcome.

Melissa Lawrence (09:11)

Yeah. Like overcoming the perfectionist tendencies, the wanting to know the future, the wanting to kind of see the results for something before you do it. Right. Which is also something my clients deal with all the time at work, even when they try to consider investing in coaching. It’ll be like, well, I haven’t done it yet. I don’t know, will I get the results? It’s the same thing. I just had to do it for myself at a different level.

Ellen Lawrence (09:35)

Yeah. And you’re not clairvoyant, and you just can’t let perfect be the enemy of great, which is something I say a lot at work. So that kind of feeds nicely into one of my other questions. The question was, where did you get out of your own way? You kind of already answered that. So how did you go about getting yourself out of your own way? What types of mental exercises did you use? What types of other tips or tricks might you have to share with folks?

Melissa Lawrence (10:10)

Yeah, I mean, the good news is the way that I worked through it is using the same tools and techniques that I teach them when they coach with me. So I had those, which meant I was able to work through it more quickly. But a lot of it is looking at separating what is fear and how it’s fear driving what you’re doing or not doing and kind of crumbling that down. So if you find yourself acting out of lack and scarcity and fear of something happening that you don’t want to happen or doing something wrong, then you know that that’s not actually a logical problem you’re trying to solve. It’s mind-drama you’re trying to solve. And so because I can identify what mind drama is versus real drama, I was able to distinguish what type of problem it was and then use the appropriate resource to solve it.

Ellen Lawrence (11:09)

Okay, awesome.

Melissa Lawrence (11:15)

If only people could see you nodding your.

Ellen Lawrence (11:17)

Yeah, yeah. It’s like the real housewives of Melissa with all the drama in your brain. What does that mean? Because those shows are so fraught with drama, and it’s like you’re creating your own drama inside your brain, so you’re having to overcome it to get yourself out of your own way with all the different tools that you have in your toolbox.

Melissa Lawrence (11:41)

Yeah, I think you’re still living in Bravocon land, but yeah, sure, it’s just reality tv land.

Ellen Lawrence (11:52)

Okay, so what would you say personally for you, is the area of most.

Melissa Lawrence (12:00)

Growth that I need to have yet or that I’ve had already?

Ellen Lawrence (12:03)

Let’s do both. That you’ve had already over 2023 and what you’re going to be focusing on, or not necessarily focusing on, but something that you want to achieve, an area where you want to grow next year or, well, I guess this year, 2024.

Melissa Lawrence (12:21)

So growth that I’ve had, I think, is stepping up into my self concept. The way that I think about myself and the way that I think about my business changed this year. Part of that is from the work of overcoming what I did with shifting my business model and seeing where I was really attached to something that felt comfortable and predictable and growing through that, but also through relationships. So just like in the corporate world, you build relationships with people and they can let you down. And I’m a very loyal person, and I care deeply about people I work with, about other people in the world. That’s why I do what I do. And so I can give people the benefit of the doubt and expect that when I am being generous and giving and they’re saying things that they’re going to follow through. And I had some experiences that just in my business setting with relationships I was building from a business perspective, colleagues that I learned weren’t as invested as I was, and that was hurtful a little bit to work through and to see that it doesn’t matter what your title is, it doesn’t matter if you own a company.

Melissa Lawrence (13:44)

It doesn’t matter if you follow through on everything that you say you’re going to do. At the end of the day, other people are accountable for their own behavior and they’re not always going to meet you where you are. And that was another opportunity that I had to grow and to neutralize those things and to see where I was putting maybe personal investments into people or situations that I now know can be more neutral so that I’m not attached to any specific outcome and can also make decisions from a place that are going to look at my best interests as well as theirs. Because at the end of the day, I want to help as many people as possible. And sometimes that can be an enemy of mine because it makes me say yes to more things than I might have bandwidth for. And so that was another lesson that I learned is stepping into that CEO concept even more. And I feel like every time we’re going to have this conversation, I’m probably going to say that because every year is another year of growth and another year of overcoming new challenges and just stepping into this next level.

Melissa Lawrence (14:50)

So I love it. I love the growth. I love continuing to evolve. But sometimes it can be painful as you grow, and that’s why it’s growth, right? If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. And then as far as growth moving forward. So I really am looking forward to expanding who I can help and how I can help them. So I’m still working with women in pharma. I plan to always be working in that space, the pharma and biotech space. But this year and then going into 2024, I am getting in front of different audiences. My company or worthy career sponsored an organization for the first time this past year, and I spoke at their conference. I am investing financially as a sponsor into an organization that supports women in the sciences. And more will be coming out about that later. And so doing things like that is a way for me to give back and also expand the footprint that my business has to show. Like, hey, there are opportunities for you to claim your career, to do what’s best for you, to figure out what you want to grow. And I’ve always wanted to have multiple ways to do that, which is why I have this platform, the podcast.

Melissa Lawrence (16:03)

People can take in all of this wisdom at no cost. I do trainings that are free. I have emails, social media content that’s intended to help you. And then I also have ways that you can work with me if you want to take it deeper, either one-on-one or in a group. So I just want to continue to expand the people that I can help and give back. So I’ve always given back at the end of the year, monetarily, to organizations that support equality and equity and fairness among all populations. And I’ll continue to do that. And as I grow, I just want to do that at a bigger scale.

Ellen Lawrence (16:39)

Okay, that makes sense. How difficult was it for you when you weren’t met, where you are in terms of these relationships you were trying to build to kind of shake it off?

Melissa Lawrence (16:50)

You’re going to dig deeper on that?

Ellen Lawrence (16:52)

Yeah, you gave me like a little nugget to chew on. I’m going down the rabbit hole.

Melissa Lawrence (16:58)

All right. How difficult was it for me to what?

Ellen Lawrence (17:01)

To kind of shake it off when these people or these organizations didn’t meet you, where you were, you had obviously not just professional investment in terms of time, but an emotional investment as well. So to not take that personally and to just to be able to shake it off and move forward and recognize that it could perhaps be their loss. If they’re not willing to partner with you in the same way you’re willing to partner with them, how difficult was that for you? And what advice would you have to others who may be in a similar situation and need to let something go for their own benefit?

Melissa Lawrence (17:44)

Well, I just put on Taylor Swift and I got over it. I just had a dance party and that it was done.

Ellen Lawrence (17:51)

Okay, nice.

Melissa Lawrence (17:51)

I had a five second funeral, and I moved on. No, I wish. That’s what I’m working on. Of course, when you’re an empathetic person that builds relationships with people, it’s natural to have a human response to that. When you feel like people didn’t meet you where you were or didn’t have the same loyalty to you. So I can totally see I have compassion for myself for having a human response of like, oh, this didn’t really work out the way that I wanted it to. As far as getting over it, I think part of it is having a sounding board, right? So, for me, I like to talk things out. You can tell by my five minute responses sometimes on these questions you’ve given me. But, like, with you, for example, I’ll say, like, hey, this happened, and what’s your perspective on it? Because I know that I can have blind spots, and I want to believe the best in people. And so if I get another perspective, then that can help me see maybe something that I didn’t see. And I just want to make sure that I’m not feeling negatively about something if I’m just sabotaging myself with the way that I’m thinking about it.

Melissa Lawrence (19:04)

So asking for help, having that sounding board to be like, hey, does this sound reasonable to you? What do you think about this was helpful? I think what helped me get over it or let go of it was I think of it as an opportunity. So I know it might sound cheesy, but I really think of every frustration I have as a decision that needs to be made and every obstacle is a problem to be solved. That’s just the way that I think about it. When those were happening, then it’s like, okay, well, now it’s on me. It’s an opportunity for me. Where’s the opportunity? And the opportunity was for me to step into a higher level. I built my business from these relationships. A lot of people that I worked with in the first year were people that I worked with before, people that referred me to other people, like I knew them somehow. And as my business has grown, especially in the last 18 months, most of the people that I work with, I didn’t know them before, or maybe they were an acquaintance, but it’s like a referral or someone that I didn’t know.

Melissa Lawrence (20:11)

So most of the people that I worked with before I had a relationship with, and I had known, so I kind of knew what to expect of them. And then as I grew, I feel like this was an opportunity as, like, I had these more distant relationships or situations for me to treat my business like a business and treat myself like a CEO, like I am a coach, but I’m also a CEO, and sometimes I wear that coach hat more than is good for me, and I need to also wear that CEO hat. And so when those things happened, it was an opportunity for me to grow and put on that CEO hat and stop looking at things from a personal perspective or from a growth coach perspective. And it was an opportunity for me to step into the next level and then also for me to look at, what do I want to learn from this? What problems do I want to solve? How do I want to handle this differently? What filters will I have in place before I dedicate time or whatever to something or someone? What do I want to have in place to make sure that it’s really a mutual return on investment of whatever the resources are?

Melissa Lawrence (21:13)

So I think that’s really helpful for anyone to look at when you’re feeling in that negative emotion, whether you’re frustrated or stressed, to look at what that’s telling you and what decision you might need to make or what opportunity for growth there is there. Like, what do you need to do? Or if you feel like you’re faced with a problem, to not look at it as like, oh, I’m stuck in this problem. It’s like, I have this problem, and I’m also empowered to solve it. Right? So when I would get all stuck and overthinking about things, I was like, okay, if I’m overthinking, that means I’m not making a decision. How can I move myself into making a decision?

Ellen Lawrence (21:50)

It’s awesome. Need you to come talk to my team about that, because we get stuck in our overthinking.

Melissa Lawrence (21:56)

You’ve said this, but you said it’s a conflict of interest.

Ellen Lawrence (21:59)

It is, unfortunately, to have some lines. Yeah. Those boundaries, good and bad. So if you look at the last year, you look at 2023. What was your proudest moment of the year?

Melissa Lawrence (22:21)

Proudest moment.

Ellen Lawrence (22:23)

Or, I mean, if you had three, right? You narrow it down to one.

Melissa Lawrence (22:27)

I mean, what I really touch into is that feeling of pride. I have that more for. What comes to mind first isn’t necessarily what I achieved, but what my clients achieved. So when I’m working with people and they’re not stressed anymore and their marriages are better, and they know what they want in their career, and they’re getting a $50,000 sign on bonus, and they’re no longer feeling like they’re in a rut or their life isn’t in the right direction, that is what fuels me, and being part of that just is so honoring every time. I will never get tired of facilitating that journey, and I’m really proud of them for the work that they do. And I think maybe what I need to do a little bit more is be proud of that for myself, too. I don’t look at you like, because I may not give myself. I know that I can facilitate results, but I’m not as strong in claiming the skill set that I have, which is weird to say on this podcast. So all of you that are like, maybe I want to work with her, you’re like, maybe not.

Melissa Lawrence (23:43)

Because she doesn’t own her skill set. I do. I own what I’m doing. And I know I have a process that works, but I’m one piece of the puzzle. I’m not the one. I can coach someone, and I can give them the best strategies and tools, but it’s my clients that are going out there and doing the work and taking the action and showing up to the calls, and that’s what’s getting their results.

Ellen Lawrence (24:07)

You just described every type of coaching career, whether it’s what you do or whether it’s somebody coaching a sport. You give someone the tools, you teach them the tools, you give them the playbook, so to speak. But they’re the ones that have to actually go on the field, on the court, in this case, into their own lives or their jobs, and actually do the things that you’re advising them to do. So it is on them at the end of the day, to execute, and it’s your skill set that’s guiding them. So it’s awesome that you have that experience where you kind of get to go along for the ride and see their success and kind of celebrate that with them. If you were to turn the camera on you, though, and say, what is my proudest moment my clients. But for myself, what did I do in 2023 that I just wanted to pop champagne or blast off confetti poppers all around the house? What would that moment be?

Melissa Lawrence (25:15)

I will say getting Beyond the Ceiling off the ground is something I’m super proud of. It could make me start crying right now.

Ellen Lawrence (25:23)

It should be.

Melissa Lawrence (25:25)

I’m so thoughtful about that program and the women that came. See, I’m going to cry. The women that came together in that program, oh, my gosh. Okay. They are just, like, so amazing, and they are all building connections with each other and doing the work. And we just did a 30 day, like the first month check in where they had to submit a review based on their initial goals, and they’ve made progress. They have had a measured improvement. And I had a check in with one of the women in the group earlier today, and I did it one on one with those that wanted to elect to do that, to talk about their feedback and what they’ve been doing in the group so far and how their progress is going. And she said that she almost was emotional saying how this space is a safe space, like she’s never had for this type of work. And she struggles with speaking up and has had some experiences that contributed to that. And that was a hesitancy she had coming into this is, it’s a group, but I’m going to have to speak up. And she said, you’ve created such a safe space for me.

Melissa Lawrence (26:47)

And these ladies, they can talk, and it’s like they’re saying what I’m thinking. I don’t feel alone, and I know that I can say things here and it’s not going to be judged. And it almost made me cry having that conversation with her because that’s exactly what I intended to create. And so even though I talk about how much of a challenge it was for me to design that program the way that I really wanted it to be and actually get it off the ground and offer it and feel really good about it, I’m glad that I took that journey I did and that I had the push and pull with myself and I challenged myself to see how I can make it even better and not just settle for something that was like coaching industry standard. I wanted it to be something greater. And to now have these conversations just one month in, and I had another one yesterday, and they both were like, this is exceeding my expectations because I asked them for feedback, I said, is there anything that you hoped would be in this program that isn’t? And they were like, no, it’s so much greater than I thought it was going to be.

Melissa Lawrence (27:49)

And that means so much to me because they’re investing a good amount of money to be in there and they haven’t even gotten their full results yet. We’re one month in, but they’ve gotten results already. They’re seeing progress and they have that safe space and community. And so I created exactly what I intended to. And so that is, I’m so happy. Every time I go and I coach that group twice a week, it makes me so happy.

Ellen Lawrence (28:17)

Yeah, I know you get energized by that group.

Melissa Lawrence (28:19)

I do. I love them so much. I want them to be there forever, but I also want them to meet their goals and move on so that I’m really, really proud of that. And that group stretches me as a leader. I love everything about it, so I’m really proud of that. The other thing I’ll say is, and this is another thing, a challenge I had to work with, but also something I’m really proud of is my financial targets for this year. I met three months early, and it was an increase from the year before. And so I had to do what I coach my clients on. A lot of it is like being happy with and celebrating that and not moving on to the next milestone. So instead of saying, okay, well, it’s q four, so I’m going to go out there and I’m going to do this and this and this because I can and just continue to increase it and exceed, I was like, you know what? I’m just going to relish in being so grateful for myself and for the work that I did that I got to this point. And what works for me, why my business is successful, is because I deliver.

Melissa Lawrence (29:22)

If I was coaching people and they weren’t getting results, I wouldn’t be getting referrals. People wouldn’t be coming to me. They’re coming to me because they know someone who knows someone who got results or whatever. It’s because it’s proven. And so I decided for this last quarter, sure, I’m here. People can reach out to me, but I’m going to focus more on just delivering and pouring love into the space that I have, the clients I have, the groups that I have, and enjoying the holidays. So I’m really proud that I did that. And it also was another opportunity for me to grow.

Ellen Lawrence (29:51)

Yeah, absolutely. It’s very important to pause and recognize your accomplishments and not just move on to the next thing. And I actually did that with my team at our end of year celebration. We were so busy all year, and when you’re in the middle of it, you just keep going. You just keep going, and you just move from task to task. And when you piled up all the metrics, it was astonishing. The amount of work that we had done this year.

Melissa Lawrence (30:17)

That’s amazing.

Ellen Lawrence (30:18)

And it is very important to stop and reflect. So I’m glad that you are seeing that and that you’re taking that for yourself because it’s well worth, well deserved, and you should reflect on that and you should celebrate it because it’s a big awesome. So three. Three proudest moments. So the last thing I have for you is kind of like what Andy Cohen does on his show.

Melissa Lawrence (30:49)

Are going to do a shot ski. No, we don’t have a shot ski.

Ellen Lawrence (30:53)

That would be awesome, but we wouldn’t need video for that to capture that. We could also have to buy a shot ski. No. I want to know your top five.

Melissa Lawrence (31:03)


Ellen Lawrence (31:03)

Your top five of 2023. What’s your top five?

Melissa Lawrence (31:07)

Top five? What?

Ellen Lawrence (31:09)

Like everything in life, everything in 2023 that you did with your business, what’s the top five? You’ve did a lot of things.

Melissa Lawrence (31:16)

Okay. Can I make it more holistic? I feel like I talked a lot about my business. Sure. Okay.

Ellen Lawrence (31:19)

Make it more holistic.

Melissa Lawrence (31:20)

Okay. Top five.

Ellen Lawrence (31:21)

Bring your whole person to your business.

Melissa Lawrence (31:23)

Okay. Exactly. So I’m not going to go in order, because on watch what happens live, they get some prep time for their time. They do. I’m having to go up the top. It’s not going to be a weighted top five. Oh, my gosh. We had such a good year. So I’m going to say two regarding the kids.

Ellen Lawrence (31:47)


Melissa Lawrence (31:48)

One in that we can. I don’t know. I guess they should be separate or together in a kid category. I don’t know. I’ll just keep going. So one is my son started driving and got his first job this year, and a highlight is really like being the person that got to teach him to drive the first time and taking him to the parking lot and seeing how excited he was and the power of a vehicle, he thought he could just get behind a goat. He’s like, whoa. He just was so giddy and joyful about that. And so that is definitely a Highlight this year with my daughter, it’s all about her music. Like, she’s really flourishing in her music, and she’s advancing and she’s getting out there, and she’s got a lot of the stuff that we all have around getting in front of new audiences and building self confidence, and she’s really great in her band and orchestra. She’s really great in her room when she practices, and then when she goes out to audition, that’s a new level of nerves. And so she’s just gone out there and done that, and she’s made an advanced band this year, and she’s in a lot of different things.

Melissa Lawrence (32:57)

And so I’m really proud of her for getting outside her comfort zone. So that’s a highlight for sure.

Ellen Lawrence (33:02)

Yeah. I was telling somebody how pleasant it is. If we’re, like, sitting up here reading and she’s in her room practicing, it’s wonderful because the music coming out of the room is so good and so relaxing, and it just really sets a nice environment in which to relax and read. Yeah, she’s really good.

Melissa Lawrence (33:20)

She is. And I would say also.

Ellen Lawrence (33:24)

I don’t.

Melissa Lawrence (33:25)

Know if I could pick one, but the trips, we did this, like, we had that amazing experience in Mexico for our wedding anniversary, and that was so great. And bravocon, I know, guys, I talk about it. I think I have it on a few different episodes where I mentioned BravoCon, but that was, like, one of the best weekends of my life. It was just pure joy and fun in a world where there’s war and craziness going on. And I don’t have any real hobbies. I don’t think so. I dabble in a lot of different things, but I don’t have something that just consumes my time that I would get really involved with. Except I do, like reality shows on Bravo.

Ellen Lawrence (34:04)

Yeah. I only knew Top Chef on Bravo until I met you. I would be working, and you’d have these things going in the background, and I became familiar with the names and.

Melissa Lawrence (34:14)

The people I know now you’re calling me real housewives.

Ellen Lawrence (34:18)

Yeah. And I should have said Real Housewives of Melissa’s brain. Right. Because it’s all the drama that’s happening. Yeah, it was definitely a lot of fun, and it was an interesting experience seeing a number of people treated like Elvis no matter where they went, as soon as they came through, it was so fun.

Melissa Lawrence (34:35)

I know. You can’t help but get involved, and then you’re also screaming and then, like, would be like, okay, this is just a regular person on tv that has a normal life and was plucked into this show. It’s not anything extraordinary, but it’s still like, oh, my gosh. It was like a fun, purely luxury, giddy experience. Yeah, it just was really fun. So that was a highlight. Okay, so we’ll say trips, the kids, what else happened this year? I feel like the year goes by so fast, and then I go back and I’m like, oh, yeah, that happened. And that happened. I’ll say a highlight is I got some support this year in my business. So for the first 18 months or so, plus I was really doing everything by myself. And then this past year is when I hired an assistant, and she has been fabulous, and now she’s been with me most of the year of 2023. And then she’s taking a step back. So I just onboarded a new assistant I’m super excited about. That’s, like, amazing. And so having these wonderful women to support my female owned business that supports women in the industry, I just feel like I’m giving back and practicing what I preach.

Melissa Lawrence (36:02)

And so having support is also something that I preach about, and I’ve given that to myself. And I have help with my podcast, of course, and I’ve gotten help with some graphic design for some of the content I put out on social media. So I’ve really allowed myself to lean into getting support. And that’s been, I should have just named this growth. It’s been another area of growth to delegate and let go of something that you did all by yourself and built by yourself for such a long period of time. So I think that is another highlight. The support piece. Did you have something to add?

Ellen Lawrence (36:38)

No. Delegation is key. It really is when you hit a certain level, being able to let go of tasks and have full, 100% confidence in a team of people that they’re going to pick it up and run with it and be able to carry it and move it forward. It’s an amazing experience, and it’s growth for you by delegating, and it offers growth for other people to work on different things.

Melissa Lawrence (37:03)

And it gave me an opportunity, really to live in what I teach. So I have an organizational psychology background and a leadership development background, and I have a group. The standard leader incubator. Yes. And so I talk about these different leadership concepts and teach people how to be better leaders, and I got to practice that for myself.

Ellen Lawrence (37:30)

Walk your talk.

Melissa Lawrence (37:31)

Yeah, and I’ve walked my talk, but I hadn’t done it in a while, in a year or two. So I had to deal with, like, okay, I have feedback, I have to give employee challenges and offboarding and onboarding. So that was a highlight, too, because I feel really great to have the support that I do. And it helps everything in my business that you see online be what it is.

Ellen Lawrence (37:55)


Melissa Lawrence (37:55)

All right. That’s three. You got two more to go. No, that was four, I think. No, that was three. No, honey, that was four.

Ellen Lawrence (38:00)

Kids, trips, delegation.

Melissa Lawrence (38:03)

You talked about two trips and I talked about two kids.

Ellen Lawrence (38:10)


Melissa Lawrence (38:13)

You’re the scientist.

Ellen Lawrence (38:14)

Technically, it was more than categories.

Melissa Lawrence (38:20)

I said we can decide if we want to do categories.

Ellen Lawrence (38:22)

Wow. Talk about working the seams.

Melissa Lawrence (38:27)

Listen. Okay. What else? Okay. I will say I’m also proud that my business in 2023 has given back to the industry and to women and people of color in a bigger way than it ever has. Because, like I said before, it’s important to me. That’s part of my business. And so with my success came, and with me, getting support meant I had more time to give back to organizations. I had more money and more resources that I could invest in and sponsor with other people and organizations. More donations I could make. And so I’m really proud of that because it’s really important to me. It’s to be a business of good. And I feel like I’ve been able to execute on that in a bigger way this year.

Ellen Lawrence (39:25)

Yeah, you’re standing true to your values, of course.

Melissa Lawrence (39:29)

Okay, so then if that’s going to.

Ellen Lawrence (39:30)

Be four, can you come up with one more?

Melissa Lawrence (39:34)

Can I come up with one more?

Ellen Lawrence (39:35)

I mean, you don’t have to, because now, technically, I have, like, twelve exceptions. So the rule.

Melissa Lawrence (39:45)

Did we talk about the launch of Beyond the Ceiling? That is a big highlight.

Ellen Lawrence (39:49)

You mentioned it in terms of, like, a proudest.

Melissa Lawrence (39:52)

I don’t think it was top five, though, right?

Ellen Lawrence (39:54)

Not yet.

Melissa Lawrence (39:55)

I would say that. And I did two rounds of the Stanley incubator this year, and I did one. We’re about to go into the second round of Beyond the Ceiling. And so pivoting to that and seeing results be even greater and not less, being in that group model is amazing.

Ellen Lawrence (40:15)

All right.

Melissa Lawrence (40:15)

So excited about that.

Ellen Lawrence (40:18)

So that if we categorize things.

Melissa Lawrence (40:20)

Oh, my gosh, that’s five.

Ellen Lawrence (40:24)

Break it down your way. It’s seven.

Melissa Lawrence (40:26)

All right. Do you want to get a log notebook? A lab notebook?

Ellen Lawrence (40:33)

There’s logbooks and there’s notebooks.

Melissa Lawrence (40:36)

What are you talking about? Log note? No, a lab note, lab notebook.

Ellen Lawrence (40:43)

No, I’m good.

Melissa Lawrence (40:44)

You can document, you can get the transcript from this and then fact check me.

Ellen Lawrence (40:48)

No, I’m good. Thank you, though.

Melissa Lawrence (40:49)

Count up the numbers.

Ellen Lawrence (40:50)

I don’t need to do that, but I appreciate you going there.

Melissa Lawrence (40:55)

Well, is there anything you want to share? I mean, we really talked longer than I thought. I was like, this is going to be like a 15 minute episode.

Ellen Lawrence (41:01)

I saw you wrote down 20 minutes and I was like, when I’m being held to? Because I just asked the questions and I bet I spoke less than five minutes.

Melissa Lawrence (41:08)

Well, of course I was the one being interviewed. Of course. Okay. Of course.

Ellen Lawrence (41:13)

Anything I want to share? About what?

Melissa Lawrence (41:15)

Like your highlights from the year or any.

Ellen Lawrence (41:18)

I don’t know. I mean, definitely some of the same things that you shared. The trips that we took were amazing. You had mentioned Mexico, you mentioned Bravocon, the outer Banks with the kids. We went to Wisconsin, to Easter, which was. Yeah, that was one trip to Wisconsin. And then recently, the Packers game against the Kansas City Chiefs. We were privileged to be out there in person to see that game and to tour Lambeau, which was amazing. That’s just like the sports geek in me.

Melissa Lawrence (42:00)

No, I loved that, too.

Ellen Lawrence (42:04)

So, yeah, a plethora of trips. We also had the birthday trip with our friends to Virginia and got to try it.

Melissa Lawrence (42:11)

Sounds like we traveled a lot.

Ellen Lawrence (42:13)

We did. It was a busy year, so, yeah, the trip’s definitely a highlight. Personal growth, doing, working out more, eating better periodically, not consistently, as consistently as I would like. And then I did a positive intelligence program that was really stellar and has helped me a lot. And then the kids are great. Can’t really say enough about them. And work has just been. This year has been a roller coaster for me and my team. And I mentioned the metrics that I put together, and to be able to see that in writing and see everything that that group of individuals accomplished over the course of a twelve month period is really extraordinary. And I’ve talked to my management team about it, and it’s commonplace for us to just help people out when people need help and to do the work. And I’m really proud of them for everything that they’ve done. And I guess I’m proud of myself as a leader.

Melissa Lawrence (43:16)

Right. I was like, you better practice too.

Ellen Lawrence (43:18)

Navigate those situations, not a coach, but to keep my cool and my calm in situations that really were difficult to handle. Big changes that affected lots of other people in the organization in not a positive way. And for my team to take on more work and to just kind of seamlessly pick it up and move stuff forward is quite amazing. So proud of myself for keeping a cool head.

Melissa Lawrence (43:51)

Your organization. When we look at how the pharma biotech industry was this year, 2023, with the up and down and the reorgs and the layoffs and all of the things, it’s like your company is like an example of everything that happened and also a testament to how that can be more pleasant. Or as pleasant as it could be when you have a good leader. Right. So you put in the effort and intention to navigate your team through a difficult time. Good for you. Thanks. There’s one thing that I didn’t hear you mention, though. Like you mentioned, like, kids and work and trips. I mean.

Ellen Lawrence (44:39)

What, my wonderful wife?

Melissa Lawrence (44:43)

Yeah, you didn’t mention your wonderful wife.

Ellen Lawrence (44:46)

I didn’t know we were going there. No, that’s not just a highlight of this year. It’s a highlight of every day. It’s not like it’s unique to 2023.

Melissa Lawrence (44:57)

I mean, that’s so true. You’re with me every step of the way.

Ellen Lawrence (45:00)

Yeah. And you’re with me, so we got each other’s backs. Go side by side. You didn’t mention your chief fun officer, Brooklyn.

Melissa Lawrence (45:09)

I know. I need to plan a party. Maybe I’ll do a new year’s party with her.

Ellen Lawrence (45:13)

You should. You should.

Melissa Lawrence (45:14)

And then my virtual team, and we’ll just have a little holiday party.

Ellen Lawrence (45:18)

You should. I mean, maybe you should do, like, a holiday party with your clients and bring Brooklyn on Zoom.

Melissa Lawrence (45:23)

I know. I think we’re digressing now.

Ellen Lawrence (45:25)

Yeah, we definitely.

Melissa Lawrence (45:26)

Actually, you know what? I didn’t mention that. That’s something I want to do differently this year, is I am looking for opportunities to bring my clients together in 2024.

Ellen Lawrence (45:38)

In person or just virtually?

Melissa Lawrence (45:40)

Maybe both.

Ellen Lawrence (45:41)


Melissa Lawrence (45:42)

I’m thinking in person, not everyone. You don’t even talk that way. You’re so silly just to keep rubbing. I have clients that are worldwide, but I have a good amount of people also in the area, in this mid atlantic region area. So I’m thinking of maybe pulling people together. People could come in for it if they wanted to, but maybe doing something for those that couldn’t come in. But I’m just looking at ways to kind of connect us, going back to Beyond the Ceiling when we have that safe space, that community. Plus, I just love pouring love into my clients. So I’m looking for a way to maybe get us all together. But that would be very cool. We will see what happens.

Ellen Lawrence (46:26)

Yeah, that’s for sure.

Melissa Lawrence (46:28)

All right, well, thank you for facilitating and hosting the year in review. It’s a lot more fun than me just talking about my lessons learned. I think this was a lot more.

Ellen Lawrence (46:38)

Oh, this is enjoyable.

Melissa Lawrence (46:39)

To listen.

Ellen Lawrence (46:40)

Learned meeting. Are you kidding me?

Melissa Lawrence (46:42)


Ellen Lawrence (46:42)

Okay, well, thanks for giving me the opportunity to interview you again and appreciating my questions and drilling down on things.

Melissa Lawrence (46:51)

Yeah, maybe I’ll invite you back. We’ll see.

Ellen Lawrence (46:53)

Yeah, we’ll see.

Melissa Lawrence (46:54)

All right. Bye.

Melissa Lawrence (46:59)

Hey there. If you’re ready to be in a role you love, I want to invite you to join Beyond the Ceiling, where you’re going to stop feeling stuck. Know your best career move. Get in a role you love where you can have the impact you want to while feeling more confident and earning more. With my proven process, head over to yourworthycareer.com/beyond to get all of the details.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

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