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Leadership Series: One on One with Entrepreneur Michelle McClain

Pictured Above: Entrepreneur Michelle McClain

Today we are pleased to be able to sit down and interview a remarkable entrepreneur for the L.A. Tribune Leadership series. We bring some of the brightest minds in different industries and allow our readers to learn from these thought leaders with inspirational and motivational stories to uplift and enlighten. Michelle has built a career around helping others reach their peak potential, today we can read how she gained her strength and power with her unique and special story.

What inspired you to start your current business?

Seeing suffering, and knowing I have tools to make a difference. As well as seeing how my personal transformation levelled up my life, who I am, and wanting to support others through their own elevation.

Before learning from my teachers, I was drinking a lot, overeating, over working to stay busy, being as social as possible…really anything I could do to avoid being with the hidden tornado within. I hadn’t learned to process emotion (energy in motion) in a healthy way, so I stuffed it all down. Years of stuffed and unmetabolized emotion was really the foundation under everything. So, I did my best to escape feeling anything, except for the music at the club and drink in my hand.

I learned how to check out. I was the queen of checking out. Mentally, emotionally, and anyway I needed to. These were survival mechanisms I had accrued through life. As humans we are such a unique species, and I believe we are always doing the best we can with the knowledge that we have. I say that to say, If I had known different, maybe I would have done different, but, checking out…worked.  To an extent.

Checking out led to having walls, never fully connecting with people or being seen on a soul level. People only got to meet my mask, my representative. It created a world of loneliness… Never feeling fully met for who I am. Which, in return, triggered the continuous desire to numb out. But after the mental, physical, emotional and sexual abuse I had endured, numbing out was the best way of life. Honestly, I knew I needed help early on, I just didn’t know what to do. So, I handled my skeletons in the closet and just named them anxiety, insomnia, emotional eating, “social drinking”, or mixing wine and NyQuil cocktail to sleep. Whatever does the trick, right?!

Moral of the story, I knew needed change. I just didn’t know how. Eventually God intervened. I ended up getting fired for drinking on the job, and that led me down a new career path that changed my life. I ended up getting a mentor, and it led me to the journey of personal development, healing, and growth. For years to follow, I studied, searched, and learned from various incredible teachers to support my journey.

I consider myself facilitator. A sum of the teachers that supported my growth process and my personal experiential gains for helping people find and own their power, to level up in their lives. Many of us are unconsciously run by our traumas, triggers, and addictions rather than our personal power. Coming from personal power starts with being able to see life through a clear lens, vs a foggy or distorted lens- due to the past.

My intention is to be the woman I needed, for others. I get the visual of one hand up as my teacher has helped pull me up, and one hand down to help pull the next person up.

I needed someone to openly, bluntly, vulnerably, and shamelessly share their experience, and how they got out of it. I didn’t want some little how-to, or some movement to join. I needed someone to be direct and tell me like it is. And support in navigating me out of the hell hole. I needed to see and hear from an example of someone who had made it out of the dark. Not only made it out, but that was THRIVING.

So even as I write this, I feel it in my chest. The desire, calling, and knowing. That just as other teachers showed up in my life for me, I get to show up for others.  As a vessel, I allow the teachings from my mentors and teachers to flow through me, as well as my own healing experiences. I know how bad I needed direction, healing, and SEE someone who had not only made it through, BUT also CREATED A BEAUTIFUL LIFE FROM THEIR PAIN.

Experiencing the pain I did as a child, I spent the latter half of my life seeking the light and the feel good side of life. One of favorite quotes is: “I will make everything around me beautiful. And that will be my life.” I aspire to be an example of what healing looks like, as well as give hope and guidance to those who have felt broken or lost. Your pain CAN be your PURPOSE. It can be your guiding light to why you’re here on earth!

What is the story that inspired the name of the company?

A preacher named Joyce Meyer’s story about holding the hand of her father, praying with him during his last breaths, as she had done the work to forgive him for the abuse he had put her through during her upbringing. I thought: What kind of woman would I have to become to make peace with my past and move forward powerfully. To choose love and forgiveness. I was awed and inspired by the courage.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your life?

Created the freedom and space for healing and growth. It has given me the freedom to not only discover my purpose but to live in it. Giving me the freedom to develop myself personally, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and truly discover what it is that lights me up, not just what gives me a paycheck. And helped me discover how truly multifaceted of a human being that I am. It has also allowed me to meet, connect with and create the most amazing relationships with people I would have likely never met, had I not been an entrepreneur. These partners and friendships have had a profound impact on who I have become in the world, and the elevation I continue to have.


   Being an entrepreneur has a beautiful way of allowing us to be our authentic selves and discover who we truly are, versus being a specific design, for a boss. Owning our own true human design, as the boss. As an entrepreneur, we are forced to expand and grow. When my energy was previously taken by a job, that was as far as I could see at the time. Being an entrepreneur, I live in a world of limitless possibility.

What motivates you?

A few things. Seeing progression and getting results. Listening to audios/books that inspire me. Being surrounded by achievers who are constantly growing and challenging me. The desire to help eradicate pain from people suffering.

Seeing the woman I aspire to be in five years, and chasing after her. The desire to create more so that I can give more.  A man named Andrew Carnegie once talked about spending the first half of one’s life making all the money one can, and spending the latter half giving it all away to worthwhile causes.

And lastly, the goal to leave my souls imprint on the world, impacting the people I am meant to impact, living a full life, knowing I gave this life all that I could while I was here. No gift left unexpressed; no stone left unturned. Fulfilling my purpose and mission.

How do you generate new ideas?

First, I get myself into a high place by doing things that make me feel good. Whenever I feel good, I get bursts of inspiration that flow to me. To get to a high/feel good place, I have a flow that I typically do including: a sequence of breathing (calms the nervous system and mind), yoga, meditation, play a growth focused book/audio- all done in front of my vision board. This is a daily practice and routine for me. I keep a journal near me to write the ideas that flow to me through this process. I keep my phone on silent and tune out the outside world. The process typically takes me an hour. Not only does this process help me generate new ideas, but it allows me to stay grounded and centered in who I am, my mission and vision for my life.

Another thing I do to generate new ideas is goal set. I constantly goal set. Multiple times a month to know where I am and to know where I’m headed. Goal setting WITH visualization is key. As I visualize what I want, ideas tend to flow in on the HOW things can come to fruition. When goal setting, I set the intention not to be open to the HOW and unattached to the way it shows up. I found that this practice leaves space for the Spirit to fill in the gaps with the HOW and navigate the steps… typically in better ways than I could have created.  So, I write the goals/desires, unattached to how the goal will come about, and pray over it. Idea’s flow, phone calls come in, meetings and events happen, and I allow the Spirit to work the miracles. Goal set, prayer, then movement. This simple combination has created everything I have in my life- everything from my puppy, relationships, and healings to successful businesses, connections and opportunities.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

The fear of feeling pain really. The fear of loving someone so deeply and having them torn from my life. Losing my brother and feeling that pain after he passed, made it hard to want to love anyone that much ever again- knowing they could be torn from my life at any point.


   I went years, after his passing, without opening my heart again. I didn’t get close to anyone. I just figured, what’s the point? I would just end up losing them too and go through that same pain again. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to understand that everything we love, we will lose at some point. Everything. Nothing in our lives stays forever. Not the dog, the house, the family and loved ones, the experiences. Nothing. It all goes at some point. Including us. It’s the evolution of life.


   Sometimes I think about a great teacher named Jesus, who simply loved openly, no matter what. And that’s what he taught. Love. As many spiritual teachers do. No restrictions or attachments. No ‘I will love them IF xyz…’. He just loved. Freely. Without judgement, or considerations. And that’s something I remind myself to practice. To live open hearted and love anyway.


   With a closed heart, life is lonely. Lonely, and without true connection. That isn’t fully living. It’s a coward’s way of life. It takes bravery and courage to love. So, choosing to love without attachment or expectation of anything, except to give and receive love is a daily practice. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ve come a long way.


   I am reminded in each moment that every action is either a call for love, or an expression of love. Cheesy as that may sound. It’s a different way to view life. But reminding myself of this helps to combat the fear of giving, knowing there’s no avoiding the inevitability of separating from what you put love into. We WILL lose whatever we give love to, and to give anyway. Each moment we are choosing an action from fear, or from love.

   Another fear, the lesser of the two, is running into an obstacle that I can’t move through, leading into complacency or settling where I am. Thus, never reaching my full potential, while slowly decaying… in the “neutral zone”. You know, the one where you aren’t growing, and try to convince yourself that you’re happy. While slowly rotting. Yeah, that stage of life that can be like quicksand if we aren’t careful! I keep myself rooted in communities of people who are constantly growing, keeping my circle of influence strong, allowing me access to experts and mentors, which keeps speed bumps and the complacency disease at bay.

What are your ideals?

   Like Carnegie expressed, to spend the first half of my life making all of the money that I can, so I can spend the latter half giving it all away to worthwhile causes.
 I see myself facilitating systems within women and children’s recovery centers after abuse. To facilitate transformation and empower them after their pain. After experiencing a women’s shelter myself, it’s a deep desire to help the abused have the tools to move forward. And prevent future abuse.


   Statistics show that more than half of the abused become abusers. We become what we see. So, my intention is to stop the cycle of pain, and help facilitate healing. The broken break people, just as much as the healed heal people. My vision is to heal more healers into this world.


   I see myself ultimately transforming millions around the world through my example, systems, trainings, courses, books, events, and various media platforms. Giving back what was given to me: knowledge, experience, healing, hope, and direction. Being the vessel for transformation for those who resonate with me.


When I pass away, I want my life message to be one of well-being, hope, joy, empowerment and prosperity. To show those looking for hope, what’s possible when we ‘do the work’. When we read the books, eat the healthy foods, branch out from societal normalcy, work on the inner thought life and emotional intelligence, cultivate self-love, and give it away to others, and go after our dreams. Teaching responsibility for the life we get to create, despite our current circumstances. That you can come from any possible circumstances and still have it all. Still create the life you want.

How do you define success?

By overall well-being, contribution and growth.


Health in our thought and emotional life, financial, relational, physical, and spiritual life. As well as contributing who I am, to the world, to my fullest capability. I believe that we all have gifts that we are meant to birth into the world, so it’s giving ourselves the permission to bring those gifts and let them manifest in the world.


   I would also say success is living in alignment with who I am, and what I desire. Which is my next key to success: continuous growth. If we are not growing, we are dying. So, as long as I am in alignment with the steps it takes to get to the woman I see myself being in 5 years, that is success. From the small daily tasks like making my bed and having my morning lemon water, to making a difference for thousands around the globe… it all matters in checking off the “success” box.

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Definitely. Becoming a master of managing ourselves is a major a key to successful entrepreneurship.  A mentor of mine always said that “we cannot manage time we can only manage ourselves”.  Becoming someone who focuses on self-mastery is one of the biggest ways to win as an entrepreneur. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, but when we can manage ourselves each day, to be focused and take action, we can create success.


   Next, I would say: mentorship. Leaders are learners. Being willing to learn and be teachable from those who have walked the path we desire, can remove roadblocks as well as help us take quantum leaps to success.


  Along side mentors, putting ourselves in an environment for success. Location and people who surround us is huge. We become who we spend time with. Surrounding ourselves with likeminded people and lessoning time spent with those who do not share the same goals and vison, is also another key to the formula of success.


   Following that comes risk taking- being willing to risk who we currently are and what we currently have, to become the next version and next level of our lives. When we are uncomfortable, and getting some sweat equity on the forehead, we are doing something right. In my experience, some risks included financial investments, loneliness and separation, loss and disappointment. Another, many people fear, is the risk of humiliation and putting ourselves out there. Change, transformation, and growth all come with a risk. But the bigger the risk outside of the comfort zone, the bigger the possibilities!


   Lastly giving ourselves the permission to do and become whoever it is, deep in your soul, we desire to be on this planet. So, if anyone has been looking for that permission slip to go do that thing, create that business, launch that idea, here it is baby- here’s your permission slip! GO GET IT!!

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The FREEDOM! Ugh. I value my freedom so much. For many their top need is security, for whatever reason mine is FREEDOM. I enjoy the time and freedom to create whatever it is that I desire. If you can’t tell, I am someone very purposefully driven. And without being an entrepreneur, I don’t know if I would have fully come into my purpose or had the time to pursue it. Not only that, but who I have become from the challenges and risks I have come through, is the best part. My experiences built a foundation in me that could never be bought, or taught. Entrepreneurial life has been one of my best teachers. Being an entrepreneur built me from the ground up. Literally.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

After one of my first times speaking at an event, a girl from the audience approached me, bawling. She hugged and thanked me for teaching and sharing my story from a raw and vulnerable place about overcoming pain- from place of empowerment. She said she felt completely different. Not only did she go on to lose over 100 lbs., but she got married, and completely transformed her life after that event.

It was the moment she looked me in the eyes with tears and thanked me. That moment changed me. Filled my soul in a way I had never felt. I knew I was doing what I had been called to do. I felt it in my chest. Not only that, but I felt high on life. To contribute to someone’s healing and elevation like that and feel THAT good after. Making an impact became my new addiction.


Not only was I making a solid income and speaking in front of hundreds of people, but I got to see firsthand how my teachings and tools were healing people and opening up new ways of thinking for them. That was one of the first moments I received clarity on my purpose and filled my soul like nothing else had.

 

What do you wish this company to accomplish within the next year ?

To more than double in size, and impact . Transforming thousands of lives and creating a ripple effect, levelling people up around the world, and being well-known for the transformative results it provides. As well as supporting women and children’s housing on a much larger scale.

What do you wish this company will accomplish within the next five years?

Recognized brand as one of the fastest growing and transformative companies in the industry- based on the healing and impact it has brought into the world. Having recovered thousands of women and children from pain and suffering into empowered joyful states of living and contributing to their dreams. 
   Also, being a leader of systems for women and children’s housing and healing around the nation.

What does proper leadership look like to do, what is an example of leadership you have seen that is not proper?

Going the way and showing the way. Leading ourselves, first and foremost, in route to achieving self-mastery. Proper leadership looks like living in integrity- even the details like being on time and doing what we say we will do. Being willing to have the hard conversations. Taking 100% responsibility our lives and the results, we are creating. Contributing to society through personal gifts or whichever ways we see fit. Having vision and being growth mindset focused. Making life about “we” instead of “me”. Accessing the various sides/style flexing of leadership within ourselves to serve the moment and people in it. And lastly, leading with heart.
   I’ve seen leaders attempt to lead through manipulation rather than inspiration, when not living in alignment with their teachings. I’ve also seen leaders who are not teachable. They have a fixed mindset, and believe they already know everything. This mindset handicaps them from growing, as well as those they’re leading. I’ve also seen leaders who don’t take the time to get to know themselves and their true calling, so internally they’re lost, and simply become good copycats and carbon copies of others.

  We can lead from all angles. From picking up the trash we walk by, to leading our lives with discipline to leading a meeting in the community, region or even globally.

For the aspiring entrepreneur reading this what advice will you give?

Write down what you want and go for it. Get mentors who have achieved what you want. All other opinions are irrelevant. Cut off all that no longer serves your vision. If it’s not supporting the vision, it’s detrimental to it. Create an environment that serves who you are becoming (environment is stronger than will. This is a key).

You will change, it will be scary, and you will lose things/people along the way. Do it anyway. Give yourself the permission to go after your dreams. Have and be it all.

What final words do you have for all of the supporters?

Thank you for showing up. For being with me through the thick and thin, from the early mornings to the late nights… to the I’m a mess but I’m trying here days!! Through all of my humanness and imperfection… I can’t imagine this journey without you. Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for being my tribe.

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