Melissa Hughes of Live Rich Spread Wealth: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader…

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Melissa Hughes of Live Rich Spread Wealth: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times

Leaders do not need to be crumbling during times of turbulence. That’s what makes you leaders. How do you rise up? How do you support? How do you lead people through that? So no matter what you were doing in your business, what could you do to make it easier for other people to navigate times and inspire and invoke confidence that no matter what’s coming our way, we will we will be able to collectively figure this out. So messaging is very important.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Hughes.

A self-made millionaire by 31, Melissa Hughes is the founder of the Live Rich. Spread Wealth. Global Movement, which is changing the lives of businesspeople worldwide. She is a master business coach, best-selling author, international speaker, and consultant. Her mission: to help entrepreneurs and individuals in corporate America accomplish their business goals, (including massive profits), while staying connected to their authentic self, transforming the world, and creating lives of limitless abundance.

Known as The Guru of Implementation®, Melissa’s success, and that of her clients, is a result of her practical, proven systems for business and life success. Her clients include companies like Microsoft, Motorola, ESPN, and globally recognized speaker Lisa Nichols, star of the hit film, The Secret, as well as small start-ups and individuals. Large corporations around the world hire Melissa to advise them on projects and initiatives to the tune of $20 million, and she specializes in helping to ensure culture, communication, project scope, and implementation are successful across divisions, departments, and business units.

Melissa is a dynamic, transformative speaker who has presented to companies and at entrepreneurial events, conferences, universities, and associations throughout the U.S. and in Ukraine, Dubai, Costa Rica, Canada, Bali, Tokyo, and Amsterdam, to name a few.

Thanks to her high-accountability and firm-love coaching style, Melissa’s coaching clients (who number in the thousands) have created massive results in their business and personal lives.

Melissa, a wife and the mom of a six-year-old global citizen (who has already been to 14 countries), serves as a board member on the Detroit Chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization. She has worked with leaders, trailblazers, sleeping giants, and entrepreneurs worldwide, helping them live their divine purpose and a full life.

Melissa Hughes – Home

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

When I was in this fortune 500 company, and I wanted to be a manager, people were telling me well, they don’t really hire minorities as managers. So I took it on as my responsibility to focus on my cover sheet and made sure that my resume truly reflected what I’ve been able to accomplish. And then I was at peace with it. Because then I did my part to tee up. These are my qualifications for the job. I didn’t wait for them to assume it, I took responsible for that. And I teed it up there. As a result, I got the job.

I was going to my first meeting in the C suite. It had its own elevator, glass doors & windows everywhere. I was trying to find the office there where the meeting was being held, and the Secretary ran up to me, and was like, Excuse me, can I help you? Like, she thought that I wasn’t supposed to be there!

I sit down at the table, and all the execs are talking .When I spoke, nobody heard me. Someone else would say the exact same thing that I just said. And they’re like, Yeah, that’s great. But the good news is, is that by the fifth meeting, they didn’t start the meeting without me. They wanted to know what I had to say that so I never gave up. I did not let the traditional sense of environment, the traditional sense of being, interrupt my desire to make a difference. So I never leaned into my ego, I leaned into how can I be a part of the solution. Put that as a priority: how can I be a part of the solution as people eventually will bend an arrow your way as then you’re known to be that person.

So as a result of being in corporate, getting the promotions and Microsoft recruited me the whole nine there, and then I was like, Okay, I’m like, at the acme of a career, I’m making great money. I was like, Well, wait a minute, is this real or is this virtual reality? Can I do this on my own? Can I create my own wealth? And that’s what I decided to branch out and be a business owner, because I wanted to exercise what that would look like.

When you’re in a corporation, you’re in one swim lane, but when you have your own business, you wear all those hats. That opportunity to be my own boss really stretched me. I was working harder than I ever worked before, but I was fulfilled more than I ever was because all of my work was a direct correlation to the success or the demise of the business. I own that and I felt really good about that. I did grow my business eventually to become a millionaire by 31.

Mindset is so important when you’re looking to navigate life and want to be that Trailblazer. My mindset at the time, was that success meant being alone. I was very isolated, I was only working in my business. As far as freedom was concerned, it didn’t feel like freedom. And so as a result of working so much, and having different experiences, and also one being bankruptcy, but this is not really that fun anymore. So I failed it. I failed it. And it failed me.

I went back to work, I went back to corporate. I didn’t even know if I could be hireable after you own your own thing. Who wants to listen to somebody else? You don’t? I wanted to test that too. Could I actually be humble? How can I still be functional, productive, if I didn’t own it, but what I found was it made me even better, because then I understood what it was from a owner perspective. And when it was from an employee perspective, so I was met with more value.

Without without having that experience, you really don’t know what it’s like to be the owner, or the person that’s responsible for the profit & loss and things of that nature. So after a while, I was like, Okay, I wanted to be more in the family. I wanted to have my own things. I wanted to have more control over my time, and what I wanted to do in life. And so when I did that, I said, well what is the career that will allow me to still show up in all my skills, and all my contribution, that will actually bend towards the lifestyle that I want to create. So now I was able to use my corporate grooming and apply it to my legacy, my future, my business. That was the journey to be CEO. And I’ve been a CEO for 20 years.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

When I started my first business, a spa, I knew that I had to get attention for my business. I paid for marketing spots on the radio. I was so excited. I was like, oh my gosh, we’re gonna be on the radio and In my mind I thought that advertising it would be like celebrating the business.

Well, the talk show host started talking about green masks on your face, and how bizarre it is to get facials, and how it crackles on your face, the drama how this green stuff goes on your face, They were cracking jokes, it was so ridiculous. I was shocked. I was like, oh my gosh this isn’t good, it’s supposed to promote me. I was totally appalled.

I didn’t understand the importance of visibility and how I’m thinking one thing, and it was something totally different. They made such a big to do about it on the radio, that people had to drop by and see what was all about.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I would definitely say that there were many people along the way. I had colleagues that were in corporate that felt like they had shackles on, platinum handcuffs, and they inspired me as I was always saying,there’s another way. Even before I had a coaching business, I was always supporting colleagues to transition to do the things that they wanted to do.

Another inspiration was my parents, my grandparents. My grandfather was the first entrepreneur I’ve ever met, and my grandmother is the most spiritual person I’ve ever met. That combination really molded me in knowing that, it’s possible. I feel like my spirituality shows me what’s possible. And business background shows you how to do business. So those are some of the inspirations that I had. My father also was an inspiration because he’s a business owner as well.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

When I first started “Live Rich. Spread Wealth.” The intention was to support very smart people, very accomplished people and being able to serve the world profitably while being fulfilled.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

During the pandemic, the way that I was able to serve my team is I made sure that I kind of made it into search and rescue. So customers were no longer the traditional Oh, who’s your ideal mug? And we already knew our market was, but what we wanted to do is how can we get more lasered? How can we ramp up our marketing, to really express that we were there to serve them in times of turbulence.

I wanted us to have the heightened awareness that our service was more important than ever before. So I rallied my team as it was our responsibility to be as loud as we possibly can to shine our light from a marketing perspective to say, hey, we see you, we understand you, we can support you. And here’s how we do it. So I ramped it up, as opposed to minimize it. And I made sure that their vision was focused on the goal of service.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

I never considered giving up and I never did. However, there were some challenges that did really bother me, like academic challenges, healthcare, the pandemic, and then with George Floyd, that almost took me out.

So as a leader, what I decided to do is I end up getting my counselor, my personal trainer, my coaches, my functional medicine,I got a team to take care of me while I took care of others.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

As a result of wanting to support leaders, and being able to navigate times and be purposeful, I created a book called Sole to Soul, how to identify your soul purpose and monetize it. This actually was a book that really took off during the recession, (2008), even during the pandemic. This book helped a lot of leaders and a lot of people to do their transition to realize it was bigger than a job, and that they actually had options to get back on their feet.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

Keep a light on.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

I definitely had more than emotional intelligence. I checked in with people more. Clients -I would check in with them whether I was doing business with them or not.

Periodically I would have dance parties with my clients, and my team. Friday night, we’ll do a virtual zoom, we’ll pump up the music, and we just rocked it out. We change the state so that we did not marinate in all of the negativity and all the suffering. So that’s what I did.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

The best way to do it with empathy and love.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Don’t lose sight of the intentions be open to how you get there. Be flexible around that.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

Stay connected to the people that you serve, and focus on serving them.We didn’t do any events we didn’t want to do. I didn’t do any kind of traveling, but I still was serving people, I still did complimentary things as opposed to having one on one meetings, I’d still would do a group talk about topics that would support them during that time, whatever we can do as a company to add value to other business leaders. That’s what we were doing.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

  1. They would decrease their marketing. So they when they decrease, they wind up being a ghost, no one would even pick them as they weren’t visible. I think was a huge mistake.
  2. They have to believe. They had a mindset that they couldn’t still do business. I have an example of that: as an African American woman doing our hair is very important. There’s a lot of hairstylists, and hair supply places. There was this one place in particular, who stayed open. They got all this covid protective gear. They created a different way of doing business. You would call them first to say this was what I was looking for. They would give you an order number, and you drove into their parking lot, call them and say, here’s my order number. They come out with their masks and everything and give you the order and they would have a contactless way to receive the money.

You know how many other stores that I drove by that stayed closed, and because of that, didn;t service and aren’t even open today? Because they did not stay focused on serving the community. And I thought that was amazing.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Visibility, stay visible.
  2. Stay in partnership and collaboration. So one of the things that we did during covid was a tele-summit. We invited leaders from all over the world to share things that they thought was important for people to know, during the pandemic. We still want to be of service no matter what, and also recognize the matter more than ever.
  3. Leaders do not need to be crumbling during times of turbulence. That’s what makes you leaders. How do you rise up? How do you support? How do you lead people through that? So no matter what you were doing in your business, what could you do to make it easier for other people to navigate times and inspire and invoke confidence that no matter what’s coming our way, we will we will be able to collectively figure this out. So messaging is very important.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You’ve already failed if you fail to try”

How can our readers further follow your work?

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Melissa Hughes of Live Rich Spread Wealth: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.