Communication coach Louis Melendez helps people find the words to get what they want – whether it’s a new job, promotion, or closed deal. After selling $5M+ in digital ads at Yelp and raising $4M+ for nonprofits at Charitybuzz, Louis founded Have Better Conversations to teach others how to successfully negotiate and communicate in their professional and personal lives. Also an improv and live comedy performer, Louis has a light-hearted, humorous and candid approach that his clients appreciate and often note in their testimonials.
Louis shares tools and strategies for developing confident, human and outcome-driven communication skills and habits. He leads highly interactive virtual group trainings, which cover immediately implementable practices for improving business outcomes, for companies like Salesforce, ClassPass, Ethena, and Yelp. He also offers one-on-one coaching to high-performing individuals, such as corporate executives, sales leaders, doctors, and lawyers. He also has trained TEDTalk speakers. In addition, Louis is the co-founder of Workflo, a unique corporate team-building experience using music to build connection and community.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Louis Melendez: I’m Louis Melendez, a communication coach, which means I help people find the words to say what they mean to say. I’ve helped all kinds of people — job seekers, sales leaders, executives, lawyers, doctors and even TEDTalk speakers. I founded my consultancy, Have Better Conversations, after realizing there is such a need for this kind of support.
I see a lot of opportunity in incorporating a little humor and humanity in the way we speak and advocate for ourselves, and I am thrilled when my clients use the skills we practice together to get transformative results in their personal and professional lives. I’ve expanded from serving individuals to entire corporate teams, and I am currently working on a collaborative project to offer more people access not only to my coaching but other services beneficial to leaders in business and other fields as well.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Louis Melendez: Are we sure about this? I feel like Gary Vaynerchuk’s first word was “revenue”.
Growing up, I was obsessed with Bill Nye the Science Guy. I’d race home from school to catch his show on PBS. At the end of each episode, Bill would highlight a random profession in the sciences. There was a solid five-year period when I was convinced I was going to be a computational fluid dynamic engineer.
But my first job was actually in sales, cold-calling laundromats and pizzerias for Yelp. It was a natural fit for me. Within two years, I was leading a team of a dozen account managers, and I designed curriculum for training salespeople across the department. I discovered that I really enjoyed training and coaching my teammates. I still find it tremendously satisfying when I can help someone unlock what they have been trying to say by finding the right words to say it.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Louis Melendez: Growing up in Brooklyn, I developed a deep appreciation and love for rap music, especially freestyle rap. After a long day in sales, some friends and I would blow off steam rapping about our work.
In 2019, I co-founded the entertainment service Workflo. We invite corporate teams to a real music studio and coach them through creating an original track on the fly. Think of it like karaoke — but on steroids. There’s an open bar and our team is there to help keep the creative process running smoothly. We’ve created tracks with teams from Spotify, LinkedIn, Yelp, Slack and many others. COVID put a strain on that business, but it’s one that I’m still super passionate and excited about.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Louis Melendez: There’s a yiddish term you’ll often hear in Brooklyn — chutzpah. It means self-confidence or audacity. Entrepreneurs have it. They aren’t afraid to put themselves out there. So when it comes to your business, don’t hesitate to ask for that higher price or push for the terms you want. A little chutzpah can go a long way and is key to being a successful entrepreneur.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Louis Melendez: A supportive and inclusive culture is what breeds innovation. If you want your company, service or product to be cutting edge and serve people everywhere, you’ll need diverse data sets and an inclusive culture where people feel safe and valued enough to share their own personal perspectives, insights and vision.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Louis Melendez: The environment we’re in can be terrifying to the point of paralysis. Many of us, especially in professional services, have essentially been working from our living rooms and bedrooms for the last two years. There are obvious negative aspects of that that I don’t need to explain further here. But what about the opportunity that affords?
It was clear to me after about eight months of quarantine that there was a clear need for confident, human communication. Being at home 24/7, people got rusty. They forgot how to make small talk, and they really weren’t feeling like themselves. I always had vague aspirations of having my own consultancy one day. When I realized the need and how much opportunity there was, I took the leap. So in disrupting my own routine, I hope to help others learn how to communicate in order to realize what they want in their personal and professional lives.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Louis Melendez: Sometimes talking to people and expressing yourself can be really hard. I help people figure out what they want to say and practice how they want to say it.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Louis Melendez: When I first announced my business and started accepting clients, I decided to give it all away for free. I even met with some folks two or three times. I didn’t ask anyone for a cent. At the time, that decision felt a little ludicrous, and I remember wondering if anyone would want to have a session with me when I started actually charging money.
Two months and 100 free sessions later, I was much clearer about how my business would take shape and what people needed from me. It was one of the single most impactful decisions I made so far, and the referrals I’ve generated from all of that activity has more than paid for the time I spent.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Louis Melendez: I have a great many useless talents, but likely the most useless of them all is my double-jointed ankles. I can quite literally turn my foot around in a full 180. It looks super unnatural and has not served me in any kind of meaningful way. (Yet!)
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Louis Melendez: The book about my life so far would be called “The Gift of Gab”. Time and time again throughout my life, confident communication has served me incredibly well. I even once talked some guy out of stealing my bike. Now I talk all day for a living, most often talking about talking.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Louis Melendez for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Louis Melendez or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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