Melissa Drake is a woman continually evolving to live her Ultimate Vida—a life that’s full of freedom, self-expression, work that makes a difference, cultural diversity, love, orgasmic bliss, wholeness, and rich rewards. Once confined to her bed from major depressive disorder and trapped in the corporate world, she worked her way up from an entry-level position to a director-level role reporting to the CEO. When middle-age life and an empty nest presented a wake-up call in the form of two concurrent chronic illnesses and a job loss after a 25-year career, she turned to social media and dancing for a reprieve.
Melissa’s journey included extensive research in healing modalities, revolutionary personal transformation, a cross-country move from the Midwest to California, full-time entrepreneurship, a TEDx Talk, “The Dance of Collaboration,” and her first book, TranscenDANCE: Lessons from Living, Loving, and Dancing. An intuitive life coach and NLP practitioner with a BA in Business Management, Melissa has helped hundreds of coaches and healers to connect, collaborate, and heal through living their truth, seeking new adventures, writing their stories, and empowering others.
The Orgasmic Entrepreneur is Melissa’s second book. She has published over 100 articles on such top-rated sites as Entrepreneur, Lifehack, Refinery29, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Thrive Global and Women for One. Melissa writes, edits, speaks and leads workshops helping others expand and realize their dreams.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
We’re happy that you could join us today! Please introduce yourself to our readers. What’s your story?
Melissa Drake: I’m a single mom who spent 25 years in the insurance industry working my way up from an entry-level position to a Director reporting to the CEO. Outside of my corporate role, I spent most of my life depressed, heavily medicated, and in bed. For many years, I took nearly 1,000 prescription medications every month. When my corporate position was eliminated, I chose to venture out of my own, do work I love, and really LIVE life, instead of doing what was expected of me. I considered my job loss as a blessing–not even in disguise and set out to live the life of my dreams. I started an extensive healing journey that began with social media, dancing, and collaborating with other entrepreneurs.
I sold the home I’d lived in for nearly 20 years and moved across the country because I love the way I feel in California. I became completely med-free, served clients at a high-level, did a TEDx talk and wrote two books.
Of course, it wasn’t without trial and mental health struggles. I’ve been very open and public with my journey.
CEOs and leaders usually have different motives and aspirations when getting started. Let’s go straight to the beginning. What was your primary goal for starting your business? Was it wealth, respect, or to offer a service that would help improve lives?
Melissa Drake: I wanted to be ME. I wanted to be happy and have the ability to be myself without being put into a box of expectations. I wanted to follow my passions. I wanted to serve other people in a way that only I could use my own unique skills and abilities. I wanted to create my own destiny. I wanted to remove the limits on my income. And…I wanted to show other people that they could do the same.
Tell us about 2 things that you like and two things that you dislike about your industry. Share what you’d like to see change and why.
Melissa Drake: I love that entrepreneurs are able to create without limits and most truly want to serve their clients and make a positive impact. After moving to California, I went to a networking event and asked a fellow attendee his favorite thing to do in California. His reply is something I really appreciate that exemplifies this desire. He said, “All my friends are entrepreneurs. We mostly just talk about how to make the world a better place.”
I’m also a huge fan of entrepreneurs who have an abundance mindset and are willing to collaborate and partner in ways that create collective benefit.
I’d love to see more affordable and flexible benefits for self-employed individuals. That’s one thing I really miss about corporate life.
Companies around the world are rapidly changing their work environment and organizational culture to facilitate diversity. How do you see your organizational culture changing in the next 3 years and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Melissa Drake: I absolutely love the diversity. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I moved to California (because it’s much more diverse than my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa). My work is expanding through diverse collaborations and we’re beginning to translate books and resources to Spanish to better serve the population.
According to the Michigan State University “An organization’s culture is responsible for creating the kind of environment in which the business is managed, and has a major impact on its ultimate success or failure.” What kind of culture has your organization adopted and how has it impacted your business?
Melissa Drake: The culture I create with my contractors and collaborators is one of inclusion, acceptance, and authenticity. I believe wholeheartedly in working with heart, love, and fierce accountability. I’ve found the biggest factor contributing to the success of my business to be personal responsibility and integrity.
Richard Branson once famously stated “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” and Stephen R. Covey admonishes to “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. What’s your take on creating a great organizational culture?
Melissa Drake: I absolutely agree!
A great organizational culture takes to heart. In fact, one of my business partners is quoted as saying, “Love is the greatest competitive advantage.” I wrote an article about it for Entrepreneur. In fact, he says, “Treat the people in your market or audience (your tribe) like family.”
Here’s an excerpt from my book “The Orgasmic Entrepreneur” that talks more about the culture of entrepreneurship: While working, entrepreneurs don’t hide who they are as people; often, their quirky personal expressions are the cornerstones of their brand. They don’t shy away from who they are; they don’t suppress their aspirations; and they certainly aren’t quiet about their beliefs—even when those beliefs are contrary to the dominant corporate or societal culture. For me, creativity, flexibility, and lack of inhibition are some of the greatest advantages of being an entrepreneur. I can be me all day, every day, whether I’m working, parenting, or enjoying time with a date. I don’t have to hide any part of who I am, and I certainly am not accountable to other people trying to put me in a box that limits my abilities. By cultivating my own sense of entrepreneurship and personal development, I’ve come to better understand my authenticity, vulnerability, sensitivity, and intuitive connection skills; they are the biggest assets to my business success. They are also the exact traits I was asked to eradicate in the corporate world.
The precise traits of authenticity, vulnerability, sensitivity, and intuition also highlight another thing I love about the entrepreneurs I collaborate with. Individual business owners can and do often form intimate connections with their clients, treating them as friends and family members. I’ve seen them send gifts to one another, spend time connecting personally, and even travel together leisurely. In this realm of united work, it’s not uncommon for business partners and collaborators to end client phone calls and Zoom conferences with expressions of love.
The overwhelming majority of more than 9,000 workers included in a recent Accenture survey on the future of work said they felt a hybrid work model would be optimal going forward, a major reason for that being the improved work-life balance that it offers. How do you promote work-life balance at your company?
Melissa Drake: As entrepreneurs, the work-life balance is more like work-life congruence. Work is life and life is work. To achieve balance, it’s more about prioritizing health and wellness, seeking fun, and pursuing your passions.
How would you describe your company’s overall culture? Give us examples.
Melissa Drake: It’s personal, sensitive, vulnerable, and intuitive. People show up as they are and are encouraged to be themselves.
It is believed that a company’s culture is rooted in a company’s values. What are your values and how do they affect daily life at the workplace?
Melissa Drake: Integrity, authenticity, and personal expression are top-tier values for Uncorped Influence. These values make daily life at the workplace personal and heartfelt.
An organization’s management has a deep impact on its culture. What is your management style and how well has it worked so far?
Melissa Drake: I’m a leader who values the input of others and is deeply collaborative. I want everyone to have the opportunity to use and advance their skills and I create opportunities for that to happen. I’ve received great feedback.
Every organization suffers from internal conflicts, whether functional or dysfunctional. Our readers would love to know, how do you solve an internal conflict?
Melissa Drake: Here’s an excerpt from “The Orgasmic Entrepreneur” where I discussed conflict resolution in my corporate role. This chapter is titled, “It’s all Related, Integrate it!”
In early 2001, I worked with my then-employer, a third-party administrator of insurance products, to launch a Business Integration Team. Known as BIT for short, our tagline was “It’s all related—integrate it!” The team was founded and funded in an effort to increase the efficiency and profitability of our marketing efforts. Working as a marketing business analyst, I found the departmental silos that made up our organization were truly preventing our marketing team from generating the most successful direct mail marketing offers. Here’s why: we didn’t communicate, we didn’t establish expectations, and we didn’t create feedback loops to evaluate and respond to discrepancies in our expected results.
To achieve our mission of greater profitability and efficiency, BIT created cross-departmental communication circles. Through the discussions I facilitated, it was clear our various departments didn’t understand how actions in one part of the organization were negatively impacting the other parts. For example, the marketing team could send out a great direct mail package and generate tons of responses. However, the fulfillment, customer service, and accounting teams weren’t aware of the mailing, so they weren’t prepared to deal with the incoming volume, and delays and mistakes were inevitable. Worse, they had no awareness that their specific actions impacted the company’s profitability. So, the marketing results suffered. The finger-pointing and blaming for the poor results then created interdepartmental animosity and frustration which, of course, didn’t help matters. Once we dug in and researched the company’s inefficiencies, it was clear team members were acting from a place of innocent ignorance; they simply didn’t know what they didn’t know. After we created opportunities for the departments to interact with one another, documented the entire process from beginning to end, and communicated a new set of cooperative expectations, not only did our profitability improve, but employee morale and teamwork did, too.
As an employee trainer with that same company, I would show customer service representatives a single, yellow piece of a kid’s puzzle. I’d ask them, “What is this, and what’s the story that goes with it?” The answers were hilarious and varied, ranging from a lemon to the sun, to even some unmentionable props. Basically, the trainees were clueless about the big picture based on the single piece I showed them. However, once I showed the cover of the puzzle box and they could see the full picture, their responses were completely different. As soon as they saw the Sesame Street characters, Bert and Ernie, the yellow puzzle piece made a whole lot more sense—and so did the story.
According to Culture AMP, Only 40% of women feel satisfied with the decision-making process at their organization (versus 70% of men), which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor employee retention. What is your organization doing to facilitate an inclusive and supportive environment for women?
Melissa Drake: I don’t have any employees at this time. I work with partners and contractors.
What role do your company’s culture and values play in the recruitment process and how do you ensure that it is free from bias?
Melissa Drake: I’m not currently recruiting.
We’re grateful for all that you have shared so far! We would also love to know if there was one thing that you could improve about your company’s culture, what would it be?
Melissa Drake: I’d like to see more of a focus on personal health and emotional wellness.
This has been truly insightful and we thank you for your time. Our final question, however, might be a bit of a curveball. If you had a choice to either fly or be invisible, which would you choose and why?
Melissa Drake: Lol.
I’d say fly. The idea of seeing everything from new sights, feeling the wind in my hair, and getting places in a new way is exciting to me. Being invisible feels secretive and out of integrity for me.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Melissa Drake for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Melissa Drake or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.