This episode is unlike any I’ve done before. My wife, Ellen Lawrence, who is also a leader within Pharma/Biotech is turning the tables and interviewing me over a glass of a wine. Ellen thought it would be really fun and entertaining for you to hear me get put in the hot seat with questions she created.
Tune in as she turns the tables and asks me her burning questions that she thought you would want to know the answers to. We peel back the curtain and talk about everything from how I almost didn’t start my business to what motivates me to do the work I do and even the things I have struggled with as I’ve grown my business the last 3 years.
What you’ll learn:
- What I was most afraid of when I took the leap to pivot my career
- How a big change in my personal life built my confidence
- What is unique about my coaching philosophy and style
- The connection I have with my clients and how I think about them
- And so much more….
Work with Melissa:
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Melissa Lawrence (00:00)
Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology. 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 rule 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 (01:17)
Hello, everyone. I am here with Ellen, my wife, Ellen Lawrence.
She works in analytical development, right?
Ellen Lawrence (01:28)
Melissa Lawrence (01:29)
And you lead a team?
Ellen Lawrence (01:30)
I lead a team of amazing scientists that are even greater people than they are scientists.
Melissa Lawrence (01:36)
Amazing. And so I have to tell you that Ellen propositioned me. And not in the way that your dirty mind might be thinking right now. But we are married, okay. But it was a proposition to come on the podcast, and she wanted to call it the tipsy turnaround, where we have a glass of wine and she asked me questions and I have no idea what she’s going to ask me. So this is very different than when I had her on the podcast to talk about her experience working in the industry and her leadership experience and sharing her wisdom with everyone. She’s turning the tables.
Ellen Lawrence (02:21)
Yes, I am turning the mic around onto you so that you have to answer my questions.
Melissa Lawrence (02:29)
Okay, but in fairness, when I have people on my podcast, I give them the questions ahead of time so they are prepared. So it’s not exactly the same.
Ellen Lawrence (02:38)
In fairness, I would like your audience to know, you specifically told me not to give you the question.
Melissa Lawrence (02:42)
Well, I thought it would be more fun for everyone. I thought it would be more fun.
Ellen Lawrence (02:46)
This is transparency, 100 percent transparency.
Melissa Lawrence (02:48)
It is. And I’m a little scared because I have no idea what you’re going to ask.
Ellen Lawrence (02:53)
You have nothing to fearful of. Absolutely. Alright. Let’s get going.
Melissa Lawrence (03:00)
Okay. You’re leading the show. I’m the guest.
Ellen Lawrence (03:04)
Right. Welcome to Your Worthy Career with Melissa Lawrence hosted by Ellen Lawrence, turning the mic around on Melissa Lawrence. So, Melissa, thinking back to 2020, the spring of 2020 as we went into the summer of 2020, you launched your business and you began coaching folks, career, a combination of career and life coaching. You told me repeatedly, if you only helped one person, one person over the entirety of your career as a coach, it would be more than worth it for you to have made this transition from this successful industry working person that was coaching people in an industrial setting to taking the side of the person you were coaching. Here we are, nearly three years later. I know you’ve helped tens of people from the limited amount.
Melissa Lawrence (04:05)
Tens of people?
Ellen Lawrence (04:06)
No, at least tens of people from the limited amounts of information that I get.
Melissa Lawrence (04:11)
Oh, my gosh. It’s so funny. Tens of people.
Ellen Lawrence (04:14)
A confidentiality portion here that you have to protect..
Melissa Lawrence (04:16)
It’s like 50 to 100. It’s not like you can’t say.
Ellen Lawrence (04:21)
No, you didn’t let me finish what I was saying. So I know from what you’ve told me in terms of numbers of clients that you’ve worked with and numbers of people that have attended workshops or that you’ve gone and spoken with in person, it’s tens of people. But I would argue, on the order of hundreds of thousands of people because of your reach on social media, the inspiring things you post on LinkedIn, the inspiring things you post on Instagram, the reach that you have with this podcast, you’ve affected, most certainly, more than one person. And I would say you’re hundreds of thousands of people. When you think about that…
Melissa Lawrence (05:00)
We went from tens to hundreds of thousands. Okay, I’m here for it, yes.
Ellen Lawrence (05:04)
Because you didn’t let me finish my question. So when you think about that and you think back to that moment before you embarked on this business and said, if I help only one person, reflecting back and thinking now about the big picture and the impact that you have had on many, many people, how do you feel?
Melissa Lawrence (05:28)
Wow. You’re hitting it hard from the beginning. I don’t know. I feel like it’s making me cry a little bit.
Ellen Lawrence (05:40)
I know little bits and pieces of information, and my suspicion is that you have been much more successful than what you’ve led on to me. I’m the person in your life that we share everything. The fact that what I’m seeing are little bits and pieces, and I’m looking at it as, look at my wife, she’s amazing and she’s done such wonderful things with this job and this role that she created for herself. I want to know how you feel.
Melissa Lawrence (06:10)
Yeah, it’s a little surreal, to be honest. So I feel grateful. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to help people and that when people come to me that they trust me to help them. I don’t take that lightly, which is why I think you know better than anyone how hard I can be on myself sometimes to really over deliver and make sure that my clients meet their goals and get what they hired me for to the best of my ability. Of course, it takes both of us because they have to do the work also. But I don’t take that decision of someone trusting me to help them with their money, to help them get a result lately. And so I feel grateful to be in a position where people can see me and understand me and trust me and take that path with me. So gratitude definitely comes to mind. And it also is, for me, it’s me rising to my next level. So when I started, it was like one person. If one person trust me to help them on my own, not because they work for the same company I work for, or they have to, or I was assigned to them, or their HR person told them to, but they did it on their own and I can get them what they want.
Melissa Lawrence (07:32)
That will be everything for me. And the thing that I think about is just… And I talk about it on this podcast and I talk about it online around just the impact of those results. So if someone comes to me and they want to figure out what they want for their career, it’s like, they get that. But then they also are building their confidence and having better relationships. And I’m just in awe of that. I’m in awe of this work that I do. And it really validates for me over and over again that this is what I’m supposed to do. And so it’s just a combination of I’m in awe, I feel grateful, I feel motivated to always be better, to continually learn. And I’m not someone that thinks that you just learn one thing and then that’s it. I’m always trying to be better as a coach to make sure I’m current in the industry, current with the trends around development, that I’m testing everything on myself before I ever offer it to a client, that I just am in integrity of what I do. And I think that that is what allows me to have the success that you see.
Ellen Lawrence (08:44)
For those of you, which I think there are only a few people that are in your audience that actually know us personally. It’s a smaller circle. When I first met Melissa back in 2012 and got to know her, one of the things that struck me about you, and I mean, you know this very well, was your belief that everyone has a story. Everyone has their own perspective and their own view on things, and they have their own story that has led them to the point in life where they are. When I think about this role, I feel like you were born to perform this job that you do every day. I’m just curious, when people open up to you and they put that factor of trust in you that you mentioned, we both have listened to Bernate Brown. We know how difficult it is for people to open up and be vulnerable. We even know that from our own life experience. What does it mean to you that your clients place this trust and this vulnerability in you to help guide them wherever it is that they want to go?
Melissa Lawrence (10:07)
Yeah, it’s a privilege. What I said before, I really don’t take it lightly. I know what that’s like for myself, too. I’m more open now than I used to be. When we met, I was a lot more closed off, didn’t really talk about personal vulnerable things.
Ellen Lawrence (10:22)
Questioned why I was looking her in the eye. Why are you looking at my eyes?
Melissa Lawrence (10:26)
Why are you looking at me like this?
Ellen Lawrence (10:27)
Why do you keep looking back and forth between my eyes?.
Melissa Lawrence (10:30)
Right. So that was challenging for me years ago to be vulnerable with others. And so I tell some of my clients this, I don’t know that I share it with all of them, but all of the people that I work with are some part of me. So everything that I have helped my clients with, I have experienced myself on some level, whether it’s something that they experienced as a child, something that they’re experiencing now at work, something that they’re experiencing as far as their beliefs about themselves. And that just allows me to help them in a very unique way and to work with them in a very unique way. And it’s always very serendipitous because sometimes it’s really obvious and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’ll be several sessions in. I was having a conversation with a client a couple of weeks ago, and she was talking about her sensitivity around working with animal studies. And that’s how I started in the industry, was working with non clinical talk studies. And that’s not a place I ever saw myself being. And I ended up getting a beagle because we tested on beagles. And I could really resonate with that.
Melissa Lawrence (11:40)
And it’s not something I’ve ever talked about in my marketing. It’s not something that we ever would have known. But I feel like the universe is at bigger play with these things because I just see parts of myself in all of my clients, and I think that just allows me to help them. So that trust piece is very important. And I think sometimes when people come to work with me, they don’t understand why I work with people for an extended period of time, why it’s not just a quick fix, like, let’s just meet for a session or two. And a big part of that isn’t just the process I have that takes more than a session or two, but it’s also the trust piece, because to really get into why you’re not happy, why you’re not confident, why you doubt yourself, what is going to have to happen for you to think differently about yourself and at work long term for the rest of your life, you’re not going to have the trust to really talk to me about those important things in the first session or the first month, a lot of times that comes up after five, six, seven, eight sessions when we really started to build that deep trust with each other and you, especially with me, and that allows us to do the work that’s really going to set everyone free to have the life that they want to have.
Melissa Lawrence (12:58)
So then to me, when we have that consultation call or whether it’s an application for one of my programs, deciding, yes, this is the person that I want to work with and I’m going to trust this process is everything because it’s the beginning stage to what everyone wants.
Ellen Lawrence (13:13)
That piece of a lot of what your clients are going through or are dealing with is reminiscent or similar to things that you have gone through. Do you feel that piece really brings out that empathetic side of you that enables you to be so invested and to go all in to provide folks with the help that they need? I know you very well and I know you are a huge empath just in life in general. But I also know that if something resonates very personally with you, it does not accelerate, but exacerbates that characteristic about you. Do you feel that that’s true or do you feel I’m reaching here?
Melissa Lawrence (14:02)
Sip some wine, honey. You need the refill. I would say that I am definitely very invested in my clients, and I think that there is… I wonder if anyone could hear the dug dug dug, the pour in the class. But yeah, I definitely am very invested. And I know there’s a lot of school of thought on this in the coaching industry in general, or just if you look at professional coaching or what might be offered in the form of development at work. It tends to be a little bit more sterile and a little bit more neutral. And here are the resources and then you would need to do your part. And then if you make it, you make it. If you don’t, you don’t. And I’m a lot more personalized and invested in the people that I work with. And that’s why I chose to work with people one to one, or I should say, outside of a corporate setting. That’s why I left corporate to do this on my own so that people are hiring me because there’s no bias then there for the company. It’s just me who cares about your development just as much as you do, that cares about you getting your goals just as much as you do.
Melissa Lawrence (15:11)
And so I definitely do everything in my power to help the person that I’m working with get what they need and get what they want and to understand themselves more than they did before we started working together. So that investment, I think, definitely helps me be a better coach. Like I said, I resonate with… I don’t think there’s anything any client has ever brought to me that I haven’t experienced. So I think that really helps.
Ellen Lawrence (15:44)
Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. So we touched on a couple of your personality characteristics. And as I said, I know you quite well. So we talked about how everyone has a story and you wanting to understand that person’s story and how that feeds into that strong feeling of empathy that you tend to have for people. When you look inward at yourself, what three personality characteristics do you think are most important in your role as a career coach that you embody?
Melissa Lawrence (16:17)
Ellen Lawrence (16:19)
You thought I was hard hitting at first.
Melissa Lawrence (16:21)
Okay. Three characteristics. I think listening or objectivity. Something with coaching is as much as I can be empathetic and resonate, I’m not there to jump in the pool with my clients. So if my client’s in the pool and they’re like, My work sucks and my boss sucks. I will certainly validate the way that you feel, but I’m not going to jump in that pool with you and we’re not just going to wait around talking about how your work sucks. So I’m there to be objective and to help you see what you can’t see, to see where you might be getting in your own way, a different perspective to approach something. And that all comes from being objective and neutral, which is why the coaching is so different than talking to a friend or a partner or anything like that, because they’re going to be biased. So even when you and I talk about work things and you ask my advice or what to do, I tell you, this is what I would do. But I’m biased because I’m looking out for your best interest, our best interest is our family. So it’s different than a client where I have some of that removal to step into that role and be objective.
Melissa Lawrence (17:38)
I think the second is I think that the drive, I don’t know if I would call it it’s not just one word, but the drive to be the best or an expert in what you do. So I think it’s more than being objective. I think you have to, at least for me, it’s important for me that I know what I’m talking about. I talk a lot about neuroscience and psychology and the way that your brain works. And I think it’s important that I know what I’m talking about, that I’m not just asking you how you’re feeling or asking you what you want to do or guiding you through your own decision making, which is very helpful. But also that there is some grounded science and expertise behind what I’m doing. And I think for me, I have that combination of coaching and consulting because I worked in talent development. I have a Masters in organizational psychology. I have the skill set that I can use with traditional coaching methods to help get results. So it’s two. And then I think three is… I could say generally, but I’m going to say specifically more for who I work with, I think it’s approachability.
Melissa Lawrence (18:51)
So I think something that helps people trust me, like we talked about the importance of trust, is that I’m approachable, I’m a safe space. You can talk to me about anything and I’m not going to judge you or shame you for it. I’m going to be on your side, but also help you get what you want. And I think I really try to be authentic, to say hard things, to show up in perfect ways, to be approachable and relatable so that people feel safe to talk to me because I’m on their side and we’re all the same. And there’s no hierarchy where I’m a better person or have something over them. It’s just I have a skill set that can help them get what they need.
Ellen Lawrence (19:32)
Got it. Okay. I like it.
Melissa Lawrence (19:35)
Yeah. Wow. Maybe I should have gotten these in advance.
Ellen Lawrence (19:40)
I mean, maybe. Going back to where we started thinking about three years ago as we have these conversations around you starting this business and what is the right timing of when to do it. What was scariest for you about embarking on a new career after having so much success in your previous roles? And don’t just say failure.
Melissa Lawrence (20:13)
It is failure, but I was going to… Wow. I can’t be right.
Ellen Lawrence (20:20)
Don’t take the easy way out.
Melissa Lawrence (20:21)
I think everyone is afraid of failure, but… Okay, so if we take it deeper than just failure, it was two things, pride and shame or embarrassment.
Ellen Lawrence (20:37)
Wow. Those are very… Pride and shame are different ends of the spectrum.
Melissa Lawrence (20:40)
yeah. So I have this pride about wanting to have a successful business, to stand on my own, to be independent, even though I’m in a marriage. And I didn’t want the perception that I’m just this stay at home wife with a hobby.
Melissa Lawrence (21:01)
I had some thoughts about that. I didn’t want people to think that about me because I am an expert. I work very hard in my career and that’s not the case. So I didn’t want people to think that about me, although I know that people… We can’t control other people’s thoughts. That’s a very normal thing to worry about what other people will think, but we can’t control that. It’s not really relevant. But it was a natural reaction I had at that time. And also just so you saw, I can’t say failure, but it was that I had worked really hard for my career and I was able to make the jump because I had worked through the worst case scenario, which is that I would go back and get a job, that I would go back to industry, that I would go back in the talent development, go ask for my job back.
Ellen Lawrence (21:50)
You had a successful career.
Melissa Lawrence (21:52)
Ellen Lawrence (21:52)
You had worked so hard. Yes.
Melissa Lawrence (21:54)
But the embarrassment that would come with that of like, I’m going to try something that I feel very strongly is an area of expertise of mine that is proven and demonstrated and that I couldn’t hack it on my own. And I would have to go groveling back to get the table with my tail between my legs. Yes, and be like, It didn’t work. Please give me my job back or explain that I had taken this time to start this business and wasn’t successful, which at the end of the day is really not that bad. You’re laughing and we’re laughing because it’s like, that’s really not a really awful outcome to have to do that. But for me, as someone that’s very proud of what I deliver and wanting to… I’ve always been driven my whole life to have a positive impact on society. And for me to have this idea to do that in this way and have it not work was just heartbreaking to me. So that was just something. It’s like you have to just g ag and go. You just have to give it a try and see how it goes. And if it doesn’t work out, then there’s always other options. But I don’t want to live my life afraid to try.
Ellen Lawrence (23:15)
Yeah. And I mean, that’s a really good mindset to have. A lot of very successful people failed a number of times before they found that success. So that’s why I didn’t want you to just say failure. Right. Because the fear of failure shouldn’t be something that holds anyone back. I’m glad that in this case, you had the pride, the shame, the embarrassment factors. But I’m really happy that you had the support you needed and the encouragement you needed and just the courage to strike out on your own and work for individuals who, like you said, sought you out on their own.
Melissa Lawrence (23:52)
Ellen Lawrence (23:53)
Because it has made a big difference.
Melissa Lawrence (23:54)
Exactly. And that’s a big part of my marketing. I don’t reach out to people and say, Hey, I want to be my client? All of my people reach out to me to schedule a consultation. We see if it’s a good fit. That’s really important because it’s not about just the money, it’s about helping people. And to help people, it has to be a good fit. And I’m here to say this is what I offer. This is how I can help you. I share things that help people in my marketing so they can get a little bit of taste of what it’s like. And then it’s up to them to reach out to me when they’re ready to take that step. But I will say, because you had a little bit of like, you have the support, and I do have the support. And I do think that the courage that I had to build to be with you is what gave me… It was like a foundation to take this step because changing my life to be with you was the scariest thing I had ever done. And so doing that and seeing that that could be okay allowed me to say, okay, here’s another part of my life, my career.
Melissa Lawrence (25:01)
Let’s blow that up. I could be okay. Because that’s how you build confidence in things. The more that you do scary things, the more you can see you can do scary things.
Ellen Lawrence (25:16)
I mean, they say you’re never really ready for the big changes. When people think about marriage and they think about kids and they think about buying a house, people are like, you just have to.
Melissa Lawrence (25:24)
Ellen Lawrence (25:25)
I was going to say pull the trigger, but it’s not a very good analogy these days.
Melissa Lawrence (25:29)
Go with Nike. Just do it.
Ellen Lawrence (25:31)
Just do it, yeah. You just have to take the steps and move forward and everything will work itself out. There might be hard times, but you’ll figure out a way to keep moving forward.
Ellen Lawrence (25:45)
Yes. Well, are you looking at my notes?
Melissa Lawrence (25:50)
I’m not even seeing your phone.
Ellen Lawrence (25:51)
Melissa Lawrence (25:52)
That’s your wine talking. Oh, my gosh.
Ellen Lawrence (25:55)
Well, no, you hinted at this, but when you think back about the last three years and launching a business and then pivoting and moving little bits where you have, when you think about the support that you’ve needed from me and the kids, what has been the greatest value to you within that little small support network over the past three years.
Melissa Lawrence (26:20)
Are you fishing for compliments, right?
Ellen Lawrence (26:22)
No, I’m just asking you how you were able to initially get the courage to make the change because you’d had this big change before but when you’ve hit those low points where you’ve questioned things or you’ve second guess decisions that you’ve made, what has it been that you’ve needed within your own home environment that has helped to keep you going?
Melissa Lawrence (26:50)
I am, all kidding aside, very fortunate to have so much support in every way that you define that at home. And that does make a difference because I remember I will have goals for myself. And whether it be with new programs or something, a new method I’m trying with coaching, and I will have a goal. And if I don’t meet that goal, earlier in my business, especially, I would get really down on it and question, am I doing this right? What am I doing? And I remember with one of those scenarios, I had bought those confetti cannons, and I was like, I’m buying these confetti cannons to celebrate myself and celebrate this goal. And then I didn’t meet the goal. And you and the kids are like, We are still popping those confetti cannons. And because you tried it, because you went out and you did it and you tried it. And it’s okay that you didn’t get the outcome that you wanted, but you tried it. And that’s more information for you now. And I was like, No, no, no. And so I took a couple of days, and then eventually we shot those confetti cannons in the backyard.
Melissa Lawrence (28:14)
And I think that you and the kids always… You’re like a neutral reminder of who I am. And I don’t know, it’s weird because I say neutral and you guys love me more than I am. So you’re not. But I mean neutral from my brain. So I have a human brain too. So even though I’m a coach and even though I’m an expert in all of these things, I have a human brain, I just also have the tools to manage it. And so I’m more effective at it. And I also tell my clients, I tell people generally that your brain can’t solve your brain’s problems. And that’s true for everyone. So when you’re in your brain, it’s a different experience when you have a trained professional looking at your brain. And so when I’m coaching, I’m a trained professional looking at your brain. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a human brain and I don’t fall into a trap of negative thinking sometimes. And so you and the kids just remind me of who I am. You’re just like, No, you’re amazing. And you just see things so neutrally. If I try something and it doesn’t work for me, it might be more devastating.
Melissa Lawrence (29:21)
But for you all, it’s just like, Okay, but obviously you’re amazing, and obviously you’re a genius, and obviously you get people so much help and result. So obviously, you just need to try something else.
Melissa Lawrence (29:38)
Like I said, you’re not neutral to me, but you’re neutral to my brain to help me question things that I might be more negative on. You never doubt me. You and the kids never doubt me. You and the kids have never been like, You know what? Yeah, you should just give this up. Or like, There’s a McDonald’s near the house. Maybe you need to just submit your application. So you never do that.
Ellen Lawrence (30:07)
Unless it was…McDonald’s has become the analogy to a current day bar where people are going to be coming up to the counter and ordering a Big Mac and asking you for life advice, that would not be…that would be a waste of your talent.
Melissa Lawrence (30:22)
Right. Did I ramble on that too much?
Ellen Lawrence (30:26)
No. I thought that was really good. No, I’m glad that you know we’re not neutral in how we feel about you, but that to your brain, we are neutral.
Melissa Lawrence (30:35)
Yeah, you are. It’s helpful. It’s helpful. Good.
Ellen Lawrence (30:39)
When you think back to the transition that you went through to start your business and to move from the job you had in industry to this I won’t call it a sole proprietorship because it’s on where it is, it’s an LLC, but this role where you are just dependent upon yourself and you’re trying to build a business with the service that you provide to people. Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently now that you did not think about or know about back when you started your business? I’m happy that my questions are making you go, because it means that they’re good questions and they’re not some really simple…
Melissa Lawrence (31:28)
Yeah. I mean, a softball.
Ellen Lawrence (31:31)
A softball. Yeah. You’re going to hit it out of the park.
Melissa Lawrence (31:36)
Yeah. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about giving this answer, but this is the real answer, which is I spent a lot of time, especially the first year, thinking that there was a right way to do what I wanted to do that was outside of myself. And it’s ironic because I help people figure out what they want for their careers and for their life without looking at what everyone else wants or thinking there’s a right way. And I even teach how our brains work in that way. We’re just raised from the time that we’re born to look to others to tell us what to do. Whether it’s when you’re a baby and you’re born butt naked and your caretakers are like, You need to wear clothes, and these are the clothes you need to wear. Or you’re in school and there’s standardized testing and there’s a right answer, or you’re in college and they’re testing and you’re in your work and there’s performance rankings. There’s always a right way to get whatever the goal is.
Ellen Lawrence (32:45)
Yeah, quote unquote, right.
Melissa Lawrence (32:46)
Right. And so the reason I started my business was because I was in that environment and I felt so strongly about advocating for other people and helping them in my way without it being biased to anything. I found myself this first year really being like, how do I do this? Because it was a new skill set. I knew how to coach, I knew how to help people. I didn’t know how to be a CEO. I didn’t know how to market myself. It’s different when you’re initially and you have your network. I was fortunate enough to really get a lot of clients early on because of my network, because I left a company and some of those people at that company were like, Don’t leave. Oh, my God. I’ll hire you because I want you to help me. I had people that knew of my work and that worked with me early on. But outside of that, when I really had to start expanding beyond those people that I personally knew into right now where I have clients from all over the world, it was a new skill to have to market. And I didn’t know how to do that.
Melissa Lawrence (33:48)
I just knew like, Hey, I am Melissa. I’m here in Frederick, Maryland, and I’m originally from Wisconsin, and I can help you. I had to figure out how to be public, how to be visible, how to post on LinkedIn and online all of the time outside of my comfort zone, how to be on video without a script and talk about what I knew. There was a lot of skills and comfort that I had to build and confidence I had to build that first year. And I spent a lot of time looking outside of myself to do that, looking for the roadmap to figure that out. But I think ultimately, if I want to just spin that around, I think that made me better in my own process because that’s when I really helped or started defining my own intellectual property and making processes my own and helping people see how that same mistake I made is not going to get them what they want and how to work through that because I had to work through it myself.
Ellen Lawrence (34:48)
Yeah, you did. Everyone in a specific profession speaks a specific language. I, as a scientist, can have a conversation with a scientist who does what I do. And we’re speaking in terms that somebody that isn’t a scientist may not know. I mean, there are times I talk to you about my work and you’re like, What is that? And I tell you and you’re like, Oh, okay, I get it. With you, the first year, you were looking at all of these things I had never even thought about. Payment platforms, just all of these things, website hosting, website templates, all of these different things. You sat here and you figured it all out and you put it all together and you did so beautifully. So it’s great that you gain that experience. And now you’re in the nuts and bolts of stuff. You’re the way I am. When somebody’s having a problem in the lab, I run down to the lab and I’m like, Okay, let’s look at this, this and this. You’re like, Oh, this platform wasn’t working. So I did this and I did that and I figured it out. And I’m just like, Whoa, that’s really cool because I wouldn’t know how to do that.
Melissa Lawrence (35:59)
Ellen Lawrence (36:00)
No, you’ve done a great job with it. I think you’ve driven your business forward very well. When you think about coaching others, what values do you hope to impart on others from your experience, changing your career when you had what was seemingly a successful and engaging job? To leave that behind, strike out on your own. What do you want people to take away from that?
Melissa Lawrence (36:32)
Yeah. So funny, the way that you asked that question is, yes, I had a successful job and I left it. So what I help people do, one of the things, is help them define what success is for them. When you’re using the word success in that definition, you’re using it in the traditional sense that I used to also, which is it is of a certain caliber of title. You’re getting paid a certain amount of money. It’s a respectful industry. You have an appropriate work life balance. You have good benefits.
Ellen Lawrence (37:08)
It’s like you’ve obtained something that you work to achieve.
Melissa Lawrence (37:12)
Exactly. But if you do that, which is where a lot of my clients are and where I was, you work so hard to get somewhere and then you look around and you’re like, Oh, this is it. I want to feel differently. I feel like there’s problems I could be solving. I could be more challenged. There’s a skill set that I have that I’m not using. And to dull that down over time is painful. It feels like I don’t think I’ve even talked on the podcast in this way, but it feels like if I go back to that time, it feels like a betrayal to myself. I know. It’s making me a little bit emotional. Because I’m going to work and I have everything that society says I should have and everything I worked for, yet I don’t feel it’s good enough for me. And then that is a total mind bender with questioning yourself, then, am I the problem? But then also to feel like there’s something in you there’s more you could give. If you’re not giving it, there’s a bigger impact you could have and you’re not making it. It feels like you’re betraying yourself.
Melissa Lawrence (38:29)
You’re just every day going to work, going into your routine, letting this part of you, it’s like you’re gaslighting yourself, like, no, you don’t need to solve those problems. You don’t need to do this. This is good enough. But that is painful to experience day after day. Which is why I think when it got for me with coaching, when I started doing that in the evenings when I was going through certification and I was taking clients at night, I had such a different… Even though I was tired, I had a different reaction and experience with it than I did my regular job. And when you experience that, it becomes a lot clearer what you need to do. So for other people that I work with, especially the ones that are looking to figure out what is that next best move, it’s really like my process is unique in that we figure out that best next move for you, not those external success factors that don’t necessarily matter. And that doesn’t mean you’re taking a lower paid job or that you’re doing something you don’t want to do, or it’s like, Oh, well, if I’m not doing this, then I’m just doing volunteer work and not making any money.
Melissa Lawrence (39:39)
It doesn’t have to be that extreme. It’s just you’re knowing what you want for you, and you’re no longer questioning if you could be making a bigger impact. You’re no longer silencing a part of your brain or your passion, even if you don’t know what it is because what you have is good enough. It’s like you truly feel like you belong and you’re engaged intellectually, socially, emotionally in every possible way because you’re doing what’s really meant for you to do.
Ellen Lawrence (40:08)
It probably feels more authentic.
Melissa Lawrence (40:11)
Yeah. And you just don’t have… It’s like a void of that feeling of, Oh, I can’t give in that way. I can’t solve a problem in that way. I can’t provide a solution that would really be this great because the company only has this amount of dollars or only can do this thing. It’s just like you’re able to really fully express everything that you’re able to give. And as someone that wants to make an impact and wants to make a difference in their work, but the career isn’t just a paycheck, that is everything.
Ellen Lawrence (40:44)
Yeah, I would agree. It’s like you’re removing barriers so that you can holistically be who you want to be and show up in the way that you want to show up.
Melissa Lawrence (40:55)
Yeah. And I had a client tell me that this week that she was like, I never even realized because it wasn’t intentional that I was being a little bit different at work than I was at home. And now I have this ease because I’m the same everywhere. I wake up, I have my morning routine, I go to work, I come home, and it’s just fluid. There’s no like, this is my work self and this is my home self. And she didn’t even know she was doing that. It’s like me and my agreeable gray wall color of my office before I had the cheetah print and the purple and the shattered glass and all of these things. That agreeable gray, I wasn’t thinking, Oh, I need to be palatable to everyone. I need to have these muted colors. It was in my subconscious of like, I need to be palatable. This is what they do in corporate. This is how other people are.
Ellen Lawrence (41:45)
And I do think there is a value to that authenticity and transparency where you can be fluid between your work life and your home life, that you don’t have to sequester or shelter a part of yourself when you go into work in a role because we have our whole selves to work. And you and I have said that to each other numerous times. And it’s important to be able to be yourself and to do things that you feel are embodying who you are as a person.
Melissa Lawrence (42:18)
Yeah. When you can express yourself fully, you’re not dimming a part of your intellect when you’re not dimming a part of your personality when you’re able to really be yourself, it changes everything.
Ellen Lawrence (42:29)
And it is shining your light on the world.
Melissa Lawrence (42:30)
And some people think, Oh, well, maybe this is because you started your own business. But it’s like, no, like you said, there’s been tens of people. One on one. Come on. There’s been more than ten one on one. But that’s okay. Like you said, I…
Ellen Lawrence (42:47)
That you’ve influenced. Easily.
Melissa Lawrence (42:50)
We don’t want to argue about it. There might be more. But I’m just saying that there have been a small percentage of people that have started their own business as the result of our work together that have gone into consulting. I can count them on one hand. The majority, like 95% have stayed in their same field in some way, have maybe changed companies, changed their type of role, something like that. So it’s not like they are having to start a whole new industry, start a whole new company to feel the way that we’re talking about right now. The difference is when you don’t know where you’re going and what you want and who you are and then when you do.
Ellen Lawrence (43:40)
It’s the difference between not knowing the path versus knowing it.
Melissa Lawrence (43:44)
Yeah. And so much of knowing the path is knowing who you are. The reason people don’t know where to go is because they don’t know what they want and they don’t know what they want because they’re constantly being flooded with what is right, what is wrong, what is everyone else doing, what is the right answer?
Ellen Lawrence (44:00)
But there is no true right or wrong when it comes to your own career and the path that you want.
Melissa Lawrence (44:08)
That sounds so cliche, but that is why the process that I use is so good because it’s so clear this is exactly what it is that you want. So it’s not like, oh, now I’ve got into this euphoric place. It’s like you actually it’s data. That’s why I know who I work with. I work with a lot of people like you. Yeah, we are data driven scientists. Phds, a lot of people that are very intellectual. So that’s why we create a career protocol. It tells you exactly.
Ellen Lawrence (44:43)
Yes, what we follow.
Melissa Lawrence (44:44)
For a living. Yes, exactly. And that’s what we create together is their career protocol. They know exactly what they want. They know exactly what questions to ask to know if a company is following their posters or not. They know exactly the type of work they want to do, the exact type of boss they want to work for. It becomes crystal clear. And then they’re confident in what they know that they want. They’re no longer questioning if they’re in the right place.
Ellen Lawrence (45:03)
No, that makes a ton of sense. And that type of approach is extremely attractive to people that think like me. Exactly. It’s like we put it in writing, we execute it, we evaluate the data, we make adjustments. It’s a scientific mindset. You need to be flexible and know that whatever you’re getting as results is going to influence what you’re doing down the road. And I think revisiting what people have done, what they wanted for themselves versus where they are versus what they can change to move where they’re going in their future is extremely powerful.
Melissa Lawrence (45:47)
It is. And I know because I know the people that I work with, that’s how leader incubator is also. It’s not this concept like high theory awareness. It’s okay, here, you want to be more inclusive? Here is why it’s a problem. Here’s exactly what to do this week. Okay, you want to have more effective one on ones? Here is an actual agenda. Here you want to… Your team is not performing well? Here are the interventions that you can take from your toolbox, and here’s why you want to do them and what impact they will have. It’s like because everyone that I’m working with is very smart. They’re already good employees, they already do a good job. This is about taking it to the next level, but it’s not about doing it in a way that is academic and studious. And let’s take several months in order for you to just grasp a concept and then just leave it in your textbook and never look at it again. It’s very practical. Let’s use this right now to help you be the leader you want to be to be the person you want to be.
Ellen Lawrence (46:48)
It’s a haptic approach. And that’s very valuable in our industry. So I went through all the questions that I wrote down. I have one more question for you.
Melissa Lawrence (46:59)
Oh, my gosh.
Ellen Lawrence (47:00)
How difficult is it for you not to coach me when I come to you on a regular basis complaining about things or presenting you with situations that I may have dealt with on a daily basis?
Melissa Lawrence (47:17)
Okay. Well, so I think early on
Ellen Lawrence (47:23)
In the good old days.
Melissa Lawrence (47:25)
No, but early on, I think I had a hard time leaving the coach at the office, so to speak. And so we’ve had those conversations of like, Okay, you’re coaching me and I just want you to be supportive right now or hear me out or whatever.
Ellen Lawrence (47:46)
Yeah, because that was even before you were a coach.
Melissa Lawrence (47:48)
Right. Because I think I’m just naturally a coach. I was a coach before I was called a coach, before I went to coach certification, I was coaching people, I was coaching managers. I just have always coached people. I coached people when I worked in child welfare. I was coaching judges on what to do. I’ve just always had that in me. So I think that’s just part of my personality. So I will say that being a coach helps me be incredibly patient and open minded. And so I think that there are times that I am not intentionally coaching you, but I’m taking a coaching approach, and maybe you don’t know it.
Ellen Lawrence (48:23)
Awesome. I don’t even know how that makes me feel right now.
Melissa Lawrence (48:27)
No, because I’m not coaching you to an outcome, but it’s more like, if someone isn’t a coach, if you complain about something at work, somebody might just say, Oh, this is what I think you should do, or This sucks. Where if you ever find me asking you questions, which I do a lot of the time, I’m like, Oh, yeah.
Ellen Lawrence (48:45)
You are the master of asking questions.
Melissa Lawrence (48:48)
That is coaching, essentially. It’s asking you, Stop. The eye roll is not on notice. It’s me asking you, Oh, well, what do you want to do about that? Or, What have you tried? Or have you considered this?
Ellen Lawrence (49:02)
What would you have done differently? I’ve heard that.
Melissa Lawrence (49:05)
Right. But I don’t see it as like I’m putting on a coach hat and coaching you. I think it’s just part of my personality, and I’ve just I’m in a place where I just don’t feel the need to tell you what to do. I’m there to support you in whatever you need. And sometimes if I have a strong opinion on something, I’ll ask you, I’ll be like, Well, do you want my coach opinion? Or do you want me to just be here to support you? And you’ll tell me which role you need me to play at that time. And sometimes you want me to just be that support person. And then a day or two later, you’re like, Okay, what is your advice after you process it? So I think for me, I have a boundary. I don’t ever officially coach you. I think I do ask questions to help you process what you’re going through, but that is just natural in my communication style now. I do that with everyone. I do it with my friends now, too. I do with everyone. But it’s not me coaching. It’s hard to explain because it’s different when I’m coaching a client versus if I’m asking you questions.
Melissa Lawrence (50:07)
It’s just a technique in communication. Does that help? Because you actually do a little bit of that with me, too.
Ellen Lawrence (50:13)
I’ve learned over the years. It’s like this whole podcast of turning the mic around on you. I’ve learned from my observations in your communications with me of when to ask particular questions, like, how do you feel about that? Those types of things.
Melissa Lawrence (50:33)
But you didn’t used to back in the day. Oh, no, I didn’t. You didn’t used to ask questions, right? It was just like a different way of communicating. But now, I mean, you’ve also gone on your own development journey also. And I think we just communicate in a different way now. It’s like we have a different tool or different vocabulary that we have before.
Ellen Lawrence (50:48)
Well, and it is the scientific process. It’s also trial and error. So I also learned that asking those questions helps to lead you to a different outcome than just responding the way that I might have in the past.
Melissa Lawrence (51:04)
Right. Well, and it’s a lot of it is like, if you think of the way that I parent, a lot of the way that I parent is coaching also.
Ellen Lawrence (51:09)
You ask the questions constantly.
Melissa Lawrence (51:10)
Right because it’s like helping them make their decisions as opposed to always being the parent that’s saying, this is what you need to do. This is what not to do because that doesn’t teach them anything. So I try to teach them by helping them make their own decisions, which is really what coaching is. That requires a lot of patience. Right. So we’re back to me being amazing.
Ellen Lawrence (51:32)
Yeah, I mean, you are. It’s how we’re ending. You’ve done an amazing job.
Melissa Lawrence (51:34)
I get a lot of practice in my life. Yeah.
Ellen Lawrence (51:37)
I’m not just some schlub off the street.
Melissa Lawrence (51:40)
No, you’re amazing.
Ellen Lawrence (51:41)
I have an MBA. I get the business aspect.
Melissa Lawrence (51:46)
You do. It’s amazing. It’s such a benefit to serve this industry that makes such a difference for so many patients. And then to be married to someone that’s also in the industry, you just get it. And that is just a perk.
Ellen Lawrence (51:58)
Well, and to see you launch a business and to have had such an amazing amount of success in the first three years, from my perspective, when I have my MBA hat on, it’s very impressive because a lot of businesses try to launch and they fail and you’ve taken this and you’ve really run with it and you’re doing an amazing job with it. And you are the byproduct of what you do for a living is you are helping people in a different way than what biotech or pharma does to help people. It’s on a different level and a different scale. It’s just been rewarding for me to be on the roller coaster with you and just riding along. You’re the one building the track and directing the train and I’m just along for the ride. But it’s been rewarding to see how well you’ve done with this. You’re making me cry. I’m not trying to make you cry.
Melissa Lawrence (52:53)
Oh, my gosh. Are you crying? No. Oh. There’s no side to it. That’s how it is. I’m always like, I’m crying. She’s like, No.
Ellen Lawrence (53:02)
That’s how you deal with a different story. That’s a different podcast.
Melissa Lawrence (53:10)
Okay. Was there anything else? The tables have been turned. I know I’m not supposed to be leading, but are you ready to wrap this up?
Ellen Lawrence (53:18)
I mean, yeah, I think so. Like I said, I went through all the questions I wrote down. I got through everything I could think to ask. Is there anything else you would like to tell your audience that may not know?
Melissa Lawrence (53:28)
No, I mean, I talked to them every week. You do.
Ellen Lawrence (53:31)
But it’s different when it’s from the personal perspective.
Melissa Lawrence (53:37)
We have some personal things in there. I think I’m going to do an episode in the future that are like things to know about me. No, that’d be cute. That’d be cute. Yeah, I think because especially now that there’s 138, 39 episodes, a lot of people coming in, they’re just finding it now and listening. And sometimes they’ll go back and binge a lot of them, and sometimes they won’t. And so I am thinking of doing one that’s more behind the scenes, like what you don’t know about me. Yeah. I mean, do.
Ellen Lawrence (54:08)
They know you blew up your life?
Melissa Lawrence (54:11)
I don’t know. I don’t know. I talk about that from a career perspective. I’ve alluded. I haven’t shared a lot because that’s not necessarily the context of my podcast.
Ellen Lawrence (54:25)
Well, understandable. But you said the courage to make this transition was based on the courage that you had to make a very difficult transition in your personal life.
Melissa Lawrence (54:35)
You’re right. And I think a lot of people make a lot of assumptions about me, too. I’ve heard that a lot throughout my life that they think I come from a certain thing, that I’ve had certain passages that have made it easier for me. And I do definitely have privilege, but I’ve definitely had hardships, too. So I don’t know anything about it now, but I think I’m going to do a Things to Know About Me episode in the future. So I will leave that there because we’ve been going for a while here. Yeah.
Ellen Lawrence (55:04)
Well, apparently I had really good questions.
Melissa Lawrence (55:06)
You really did. This was really fun. So you all listening want us to do this again, then definitely let me know. Send me a message. Yeah, we can do tipsy turnaround part two. Tipsy turnaround, maybe every once in a while.
Ellen Lawrence (55:20)
Melissa Lawrence (55:21)
This was really fun. So I appreciate you wanting to come on and ask me the questions that you did.
Ellen Lawrence (55:27)
Yeah, it was fun.
Melissa Lawrence (55:28)
Yeah, it was more emotional than I expected.
Ellen Lawrence (55:30)
Putting you in the hot seat because you have to put me in the hot seat.
Melissa Lawrence (55:33)
And to be honest, I like being in the hot seat.
Ellen Lawrence (55:36)
Yeah, you do handle it much better than me.
Melissa Lawrence (55:38)
Everyone loves the episodes you’re on.
Ellen Lawrence (55:43)
It’s totally true.
Melissa Lawrence (55:44)
Okay, well, maybe we’ll put a poll up sometime. All right, that is all for this Tipsy Turnaround hosted by Ellen on my podcast and I will see you next week.
Melissa Lawrence (55:58)
Hey there. If you want to go from technical SME to the leader everyone wants to work for, you definitely want to be in my leadership development community that is exclusive to women in the Pharma/Biotech industry. Head to yourworthycareer.com/incubator to get all of the details about the standout leader incubator and how you can join us.