From Side-Piece to Business Wife
(and other things two feminist boss ladies probably definitely shouldn’t ever say, but it shows how perfect we are together)
My whole life I’ve been a Visionary. The dictionary defines me as “a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.” It says I am “thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.” TRUTH! I live into the next thing – I push through walls until I get there and then start planning the thing after that.
When I started my business 10 years ago (April 1, 2009), I thought I had to be a Jane-of-all-trades. I learned every aspect of the business (even being forced to learn the bookkeeping part) and could do it all (-ish). Branding, marketing, coding websites, project management, speaking, event planning, sales, HR, – every little thing we did, I had to be able to do so I could show my team how to do it. I was the trainer for all of it. I had to stay up on the latest trends. I had to hire the right people and then fire the wrong ones. I got surprised by humanity – a lot. I grew up in my business – I aged quickly in my business. I’m still amazed anyone believed enough in me at 28 to work for me (huge shout-out to Teresa & Katie!) I hired people smarter than me to do jobs I couldn’t (another shout-out to Camie, Jason & AJ) and then found that I wanted to head in a different direction altogether. I was finally stepping more fully into my Visionary role.
Fast forward to 2018 when I hired Rachel Downey to facilitate setting us up on EOS. If you haven’t heard of EOS, it’s the Entrepreneur Operating System. It sets up a company for success based on having two people in place at the top holding each other accountable AND holding the rest of the team accountable. It gives you a Visionary & an Integrator – two people with shared values and totally different sets of skills. The Visionary sets the vision & drives the organization forward (in my case, I do all the sales & marketing.) The Integrator takes the vision and builds it out with the team (in this case, doing all of the operational functions.) An Integrator is basically like a COO but way cooler.
What’s funny (not haha funny though) is that by the time we had our corporate retreat, I had zero employees and only a handful of other business owners (including my mom!) who were coming to help me. And help me they did. I still remember thinking that my random group of subcontractors were insane for coming to do this crazy retreat with me. Yet my Visionary mindset was that we were going to figure it out because I had a plan.
While sitting there, I realized I had the most supportive humans in my life and couldn’t believe how much they wanted to help me. I am still thoroughly amazed it even happened (shout-out to Dayne Milne for helping me manifest that shit!)
One of those humans was a SPEAK With Confidence trainer, Sarai Johnson. She had her own business teaching non-profits how to rock harder (which she is stellar at doing) and had been enthralled by my speaking program since its inception. After almost coming to the first (I’ll let her tell you about that) and then speaking in the second, she moved into training based on her incredible workshopping skillz.
At the retreat, she was the one who raised her hand (in a very “pick me pick me” kind of way) when Rachel talked about what an Integrator does. She was overwhelmed with the idea that a job description fit her skills and strengths so perfectly while also being in a position to do something that fit her life goals. It didn’t take more than a few conversations until Rachel finally said “ok, but this is a big huge audacious job.” And that was that. She was in & started clearing out her own business so she could come work alongside me. AND NOW SHE IS!
Sarai Johnson is an audacious human & believes every soul should live authentically & audaciously. She’s my business alchemist – mixing up all of her business acumen & emotional intelligence into entrepreneurial goodness with a side of madness. She believes in the same things I do, believes in me. She even has the same personality profile as me yet complementary skills & strengths (which is awesome because no one needs another Melanie.) We make each other laugh and neither of us get offended or have to “talk” – because we speak the same language – which includes a lot of swear words and giggles.
Sarai has killer glasses (because why wouldn’t she?) & gorgeous penmanship (have you seen her work notebook? It’s stunning.) She’s the Louise to my Thelma & she’s the Integrator to my Visionary. Have I mentioned that I’m SUPER excited to have a partner to share this crazy business with?! YAASS!!!!!
Sarai literally LOL’d when I sent her the employment agreement with her list of her job stuffs & it says “please don’t quit.” Ok – enough of my chatter. I’ll let HER tell you who she is & what she’s doing here.
Hiiiiiiiii! I’m Sarai. The madwoman who laughs in the face of epic job descriptions.
Like Melanie, in her early business-hacking days, I have been running my own show, doing all the things, and doing it on my own for a good long while. It’s fun to be your own boss…and I was a helluva boss, by the way. Best I ever had, really. See, I love geeking out on business models, lean management, product development, financial plans, and providing my people opportunities to grow and learn and be their most awesome selves (aka “sales”). My business nerd superpower is building awesome programs – taking a bunch of ideas and distilling them into a process that gets amazing results. And…I want to do more of that. So, for me, 2018 was full of this unstoppable desire to build something bigger. Something with people – not just plugging along all by myself. I am motivated by audacious ideas, transformative change, and the kind of magic that can only happen when more than one person is involved.
It wasn’t clear to me what the thing I needed to build would be, so I explored a few different paths to see what was down them, and nothing really quite stuck.
In October of 2018, we had the best SPEAK with Confidence event yet – which is saying a lot, because they are all amazing. But at that event, something so important clicked in for me. It was just so obvious to me that my secret kickass human superpower is all about helping people show up as their whole selves, take off their masks, set aside their fear, and speak their truth powerfully. Which…is good to know, but also, how do I really pivot and sell that? What am I? A “Show-up Coach?” Meh.
At any rate, after that event, I told Melanie I didn’t know if she wanted me to come back to future events as a trainer, but even if she didn’t, I would never stop, so she may as well get used to having me around. She laughed nervously and may have taken out a restraining order, but she was very nice about it.
A few weeks before the retreat with all the fancy subcontractors that were all up and ready to completely rock the world together, Melanie sent out a document that outlined her vision for herself and the company. It included a description of the Integrator role, and I immediately knew: THIS. This is it. THIS is the thing I’m ready to help build.
I kept it totes profesh, though, and didn’t even start waving my hand in the air and shouting “Pick me! Pick! ME!” whilst wriggling in my seat until, like, day two. So. I have a lot of self-control, obviously.
Long story short (not really, still long), I am so ridiculously stoked to be part of this team and this amazing work. As I was working on my own vision for my life and how my work with this beautiful business fits into that thread, I wrote something I later stumbled across and thought, “What genius wrote this awesome stuff?” before realizing it was a product of a free-writing session that apparently went really well.
Here’s why I’m here, why I’m letting my own business hang tight/integrating what I do with what Melanie does, building Melanie Spring Productions, and putting all my eggs in this particularly compelling basket:
Melanie Spring Productions is about being with humans like you and me in the spaces where we are able to find and unfold our own stories. To see the power behind what those stories mean. To help humans draw the golden thread of wonder through our lives and into our futures in ways that are undeniably real.
This is more than telling great stories. It is inspiring radical change in individuals and the world – all for the better. As people connect to their real stories – to how those stories carry them into where they are now and where they are going – to how those stories connect in with other peoples’ stories and how those chapters might come together so all might find greater strength and power and joy in their lives on this earth in this body, we begin to create a new landscape together – one that is built on solidarity and empathy, encompassing all the highest highs and deepest depths of what it is to be human on this planet.
That’s the deal.
Let’s Spark the Magic, K?
xoxo – Sarai