Generator Ep. 012 – Melissa June: Radical Humanity and Caterpillar Sh*t

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Melissa June: entrepreneur and founder of The League - a woman-centric networking and professional development group in the Legal world.

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Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 012 - "Radical Humanity and Caterpillar Sh*t"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
Hey friends, welcome to episode 12 of generator, this podcast about creation. This week I wanted to introduce you to Melissa June. Now Melissa June is a teacher, a guide, a cancer survivor, a mom, and most recently an entrepreneur, she has started the league, which is a women’s centric networking and mentoring group in the legal profession. So Melissa and I connected back in November at a Sue Bryce self value workshop, we got to reconnect at another workshop back in May of this year. Melissa has this magnetism that she makes every conversation really easy and really interesting. I know you’re going to enjoy this and be inspired by the way that she comes across. We talk about her transformative photo shoot that she had done recently, the need for human connection and all things and something she calls Caterpillar shit. And I’ll save that for a little bit later. This is easily one of those conversations that could have lasted hours. And I’m so grateful that I had a chance to sit down with Melissa and talk to her about everything that she has going on. So here’s my conversation with Melissa June. I hope you enjoy it now on with the show.

How did things wind up for you in Arizona? Did everything go smoothly? After the sell value workshop? Was everything cool there?

Melissa June 1:47
Oh my gosh. So I did that. Have you heard of Matisse as I am Photoshop?

Matt Stagliano 1:51
Yes. It’s It’s remarkable. This the work that she’s doing?

Melissa June 1:55
Yeah, it’s really incredible. I will, I will tell you, I’ve done a lot of these a lot of photoshoots. You know, and the conversation at the end about the editing has always, like irked me a little bit. Just honestly, sometimes I’m like, Yeah, I wouldn’t mind you, if you’re, you know, myths that are tucked that it’s like, it just never felt right, you know, and the more done up I felt the less I felt like myself. And then the less I liked the photos, because in the end, I didn’t even look like me, you know, and, you know, what I loved is our conversation beforehand. She’s like, as I, about you, shining light on your shame. So any part of your body that you might be ashamed of, that’s what we want to highlight. And that’s what we want to look at. And that’s what we want to accentuate. And that’s what we want to, you know, because that’s where you really come to love your body and love who you are. And I was so appreciative of that conversation beforehand, because, you know, she says, bring anything, just don’t buy anything new, don’t you know, do anything out of the ordinary. And I’ve always been told that I’m too much, you know, and this is sort of the time in my life, where I’m like, fucking too much. Like, I’m just enough for the right people. And, and so I brought a couple of pieces of clothing that I bought, but they’re like, a lot. And so I’ve never worn and, and I said, you know, when you say as I am, as I am is too much, and I love it. And I’m embracing that. And so I brought these things, and we just had such a blast, she played music, and I just danced and we’d giggled and, and then when we saw the photos, there’s a magical thing that happens because you you see your photos right away, because there’s no editing, because there’s no other stuff. So you sit down, and because of that pre conversation about hey, as I am, you know, highlighting the shame, you do look at your photos differently. And there were certain photos that that I probably would have liked Ooh. Before, but when I saw them this time, I was like, Yes, that one. You know, it was I’ve always been told I was too muscular or was like to add, and I was always really insecure about that. And now I’m like, fuck it, I’m strong. You know, and I want to erase that. And so some of the photos, right looks really strong. Those are the ones that I pick, there were a few that, you know, showed my wrinkles extra. And that it’s, you know, one of those things that you know, as women, we’re constantly, you know, brushing that out and, and not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just for me, it was a matter of you know, just really embracing. I turned 40 This week, and that as I am right before I turned 40 And it’s really embracing I’m 40 and I’ve lived an amazing life and the next 40 is going to be fucking epic. So let’s celebrate those lines, you know, and and then the I picked that there was it was just really remarkable.

Matt Stagliano 5:03
I saw what Mitzi was putting up and Mitzi Starkweather. For those of you listening, she does an as I am campaign, everything that Melissa was just talking about, it is phenomenal. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s authentic, it’s black and white, it is remarkable to look at. So look up Mitzi Starkweather. And you’ll be able to see her work. So that’s what we’re talking about here. There’s an interesting thing that happens. And you noted earlier, where you were talking about, you know, oh, I want this nipped or this talk or this, you know, because you went into a photo shoot with a different expectation with what Mitzi is doing, which makes me over the moon happy for not only her, but all of her clients, by setting that stage, the emotional stage beforehand, the the self acceptance that you get throughout the process, the nerves go away, the self love comes out. And you do see yourself different in pictures. I know, when I’m working with clients, it’s all about that connection, it’s all about making them feel comfortable before I ever press the shutter. Because people are nervous enough, they are self conscious enough, right? They think we’re looking at what they feel inside, right. So when you’re able to give people that view that unedited, unfiltered, authentic view of themselves and have them love it, there is not a better feeling in the world. And I can’t imagine for you, right, tying all this stuff together, new businesses, new life, new everything turning 40 guy that was a long time ago, turning 40. Like, all that is just such a celebration of yourself. And this is why I wanted to talk to you because you’ve got this gravitas, this magnetism that you fill the room with your personality, and the world should see every bit of it. So I’m stoked that it went really, really well for you.

Melissa June 6:58
Yeah, thank you. And I, you know, I think that there’s a bit of intention and all of this, you know, they take that even the photo shoot, it’s, why aren’t we walking around life in the world that way? You know, when I was going through cancer and treatment, I had this moment where I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I didn’t even recognize myself, you know, and it was like, I it stopped me in my tracks. It literally stopped me in my tracks. And I walked slowly towards the mirror. And I said, I saw the inside of my soul. And I had this really profound moment in that in that moment where I said, it’s up to me to fill her up. What am I going to rebuild this human with. And that’s what I saw my old life versus my new life, my old me versus my new Mimi, the old me was never coming back. You know, in a lot of ways, cancer did take the old me, her life is different. She’s not married to the same person, she doesn’t have the same family dynamic. She’s not living in the same house, she was not the same job. I mean, so much of her life really is over. And that speaking of that intention, it’s to move into this next chapter and saying, I’m going to show up as I am. And you know, at that moment, I didn’t have that much energy. So I became hyper aware of what gave me energy and what depleted my energy. And I started getting rid of what didn’t fuel me, you know, the people, the things, the tasks, the stuff. It was like, a big shedding, you know, and I think if we all moved forward in our life with a little bit more intention to fill ourselves up in our lives up with who we really are, and what really fills our cup. I think that would be I mean, we would the world would be a different place. I mean, I don’t want to get the world would be a different place. No doubt about it. Is there

Matt Stagliano 8:53
is there some sort of mantra or little thing that you say to yourself to kind of keep filling yourself up for me, it’s what you don’t change you choose, right? And that snaps me out of anything. If I don’t, if I don’t like a situation, I’m either choosing to stay in that spot, or I have the opportunity to change it. So what you don’t change you choose, right. So do you have anything like that, that? You know, as you went through this metamorphosis, we’re going to talk about your history in a minute. But in terms of your metamorphosis, is there something that like, get up lazy, or you’ve got to do this right now? What’s the what’s the one thing that you kind of chant to yourself? If there is one thing to keep you motivated and kind of just keep that fire? stoked?

Melissa June 9:38
Yeah, make it fucking happen. If you want to create it, if you yearn for it, do it. Otherwise you don’t want it.

Matt Stagliano 9:44
What was the biggest block that you hit mentally? Right so that that that point of change that inflection point where you go, my old life versus my new life? What’s the inflection point where you said like enough is enough? I’ve got to change Change the inside, so that the old life stays where it is in the new life has the room and space to breathe and open up.

Melissa June 10:09
It was after I was done with treatment. And after I was done with treatment, I went on like a 45 day Blitz, just partying my ass off, just celebrating the end of this chapter. And then there hit a point where it was time to go back, like to go back to work and get back into the family mode and, you know, take on business almost as usual. As well, like, physically sick about it. I was actually spiraling like, I was spiraling so hard avoiding going back to my old life, that it became toxic, actually. And I had this moment where I woke up in the morning and was like, this isn’t this isn’t me either. Why don’t I want to go pack? You know, why don’t I want to be back to normal. And that’s what I really knew, frankly, that’s what I had to be really real with myself and say, I had everything I ever wanted. And it’s not what I want anymore. And I knew I had to do something different. I didn’t know where to go from there. But at that moment was just the acceptance, you know, the awareness that this was existing. And then, you know, knowing that the path forward meant I was going to have to hurt a lot of people in order to undo and unfold in my life. And that was, that was a tough pill to swallow.

Matt Stagliano 11:37
I got to that same point where I was like, I can keep living this way. And this is this was years ago, and I was going through divorce and moving and doing all the things, just life upheaval, that there was this point where you were you’re like, Alright, you’re here, the universe has kind of given you this moment to reevaluate things. Do you still want what you have? Do you want to stay normal? Is this the life that you want? When you can stare in the mirror and ask yourself that and say, with 100%? Honesty, no, it’s not what I want. This is not what my heart and my gut is telling me that I want to live the rest of my days, like, when you can have that conversation with yourself and say, All right, we’re gonna go in a completely different direction, there is so much courage and bravery in that, especially when you know, it’s going to be painful, or you’re going to hurt people or people may not like what you’re doing or may not support you. The ability to move forward anyway, is just fascinating to me. I have all the respect in the world for that amount of courage, right? Because there’s just so much energy that you have to put into it,

Melissa June 12:50
you really do. And so you have to really get real with yourself. You know, I mean, it’s hard. When you’re unfulfilled, I feel like you really, you make a lot of really poor choices, avoiding the reality that’s happening in your heart and your soul in your gut, you know, and you really do compromise a lot of your own values in a lot of ways or, you know, emotional well being and physical well being I mean, you really do create a toxic environment inside of yourself when, when you’re not. And so I think that when it came for me, it was, it was literally not even a choice. But there was no way there was no way I could go back, it would have killed me. You know, and frankly, it wasn’t fair for my family. You know, it wasn’t fair for my husband, he deserves to be loved exactly the way that he wants to be loved. You know, and I knew that I was no longer able to do that I no longer had the capacity to give him what he needed. And so even if he, you know, did everything I ever asked in the 13 years that we were married, it wasn’t about that. You know, it was it was about that, that life was over for me. And sadly, that meant over for him too.

Matt Stagliano 14:09
And the brief time that I’ve known you, I know that you’ve had a million lives, working in hospitality and working in legal and owning your own businesses and working for others. And you’ve kind of grown and grown and grown as an entrepreneur, can you give me the real brief synopsis LinkedIn timeline to get us up to speed because people are hearing this going? What is she done in the past?

Melissa June 14:37
I started my professional career as a teacher. I taught high school in college. I had I wanted I wanted to be a teacher since I was in third grade. And so I did that long. I had a I had a baby at 17 years old, but to derailed me for a hot minute. And then I found my way back to college, went to grad school, taught high school government in econ history, I taught community ed in, in college citizenship classes and, and it gave me really an amazing sense of community and really like a real sense of belonging. And then I on the side have always done these events. So it was sort of what I did in college, I plan parties, I planned events, I, you know, worked in sort of that hospitality industry. And I, again, everything I’ve ever created, I guess the way to get to really the bottom of it, everything I’ve ever created in anything I’ve ever done has always been about building a community, or creating some sort of connection. And I think that that’s because that’s what I was always craving. I looked outside of myself for this belonging, so I created communities and networks where I could belong. So whether it was me being a teacher, and I created the network there, and the community there, or, you know, I started doing, you know, as a teacher, you always have to have these side jobs. So I worked at wineries and I hosted events, and I planned people’s parties for them, because I was good at it. And then eventually, that started building up, fast forward, I got married, I had more babies, and I still was doing events sort of on the side, just planning for people planning for myself. I mean, it started working with a legal advertising company, I started doing events for them, and it became a marketing concept. So I started saying, okay, who’s your brand? What, who are you? And how do you build your network in this community, then I learned the legal community,

Matt Stagliano 16:38
it sounds like from early on, that you’ve always been focused on guiding people, teaching people helping people, there’s always been seems to be this, this common thread of guiding teaching person behind the person that makes everything happen. And then as you stepped into legal, whether that was with the ads, or the branding, or you know, now the league is that thread still strong in you, and just trying to build that community and grow folks and guide them towards, you know, better careers or better relationships is that generally the common thread,

Melissa June 17:17
it is the common thread with everything I have ever done. And I again, I think that because community is, is like, in my core, I feel the most lit up, when I see people around me get lit up. And I see there’s something that just happens when you see someone empowering themselves, and really coming into, you know, their own and really embracing their unique ability. And I think that that is absolutely the common thread, because whether it was me as a teacher, I taught a continuation high school. So there’s a lot of at risk kids, previously incarcerated kids that, you know, were so marginalized from the beginning and so disregarded by so many people. And to me, it’s like, oh, there’s there was just a magic in that room. And when when you really could, as a teacher, make the content applicable to their life, and really give them some connection to the material. And it gives them some application in their world, it empowers them. You know, we say all the time, knowledge is power, and no kids are left behind. But what are we really doing as educators to really connect our kids with real life applicable information. And I think that was always important to me. We know when it comes to business and and my entrepreneurial spirit, it’s always been about solving a problem, you know, what exists in whatever, you know, Avenue, whatever vertical you’re working in? It’s what are you creating that doesn’t already exist? If you’re solving a problem, that’s amazing. How can you solve it in the best way possible? And then how do you make people know about it. And that’s when I really discovered that I’m a natural marketer, right? That that marketing is really just connecting people to a product. And if you have a really great product, you don’t really even have to sell it. But people have to know about it. So that’s sort of the, you know, the concept there is that even when I got into marketing, it was all about connecting people, you know, in any capacity with with the product or with the person or with the service or with whatever. And then when I was in events, it was all about what is the end result when I was planning an event for somebody is the end result just to party is the end result to make business connections is the end result to have like some nostalgia is the end result, you know, to have some sort of sentimental celebration. You start with the end result what’s the purpose and then you backward map it there and you create it experience and a connection based on that, you know, and that’s when I found that my, that’s when I really found that my superpower is really in connecting people. And that’s sort of where I’m at in my life. Now, it’s, you know, in all of the experience that I have had building, you know, business or being around all these incredible entrepreneurs, and what I’ve seen them go through and their mistakes, you know, their successes and their failures, has taught me so much. And, and the people that I need, that all have these super unique abilities that if they could just be interconnected, you know, they could thrive. And that gives me so much and again, so now it’s at the community approach. And the connection approach is just, it’s like a web that just keeps growing. And the more it grows, the and the tighter it weaves, the more fired up I am because it makes me feel like we’re all part of the same community

Matt Stagliano 20:53
in all the networking that I do, and all the groups that I go to. Everybody has the same surface shitty, small talk. That is just, it bores me to death. I don’t know if it’s my own neuro divergence, see ADHD, whatever. But I want to be like, hello, hello. Yes. All right. Tell me your most vulnerable secret. Right? That’s basically where I want to get to I don’t want to talk about the weather or how long you’ve been here. How’s your hotel room? Right? I want to talk about like, what drives you? Why did you cry last night? Like I that’s what I want to talk about.

Melissa June 21:28
Yeah, that, you know, that’s probably why we connected so fast. I am like, an extroverted extrovert, right. But nothing drains me more than a superficial conversation. Worst, nothing drains me more. And I do my best to what you just said to create a space where people can get vulnerable right away. So that I don’t have to do it. Right? Because I’d rather get into exactly what you just said, I’d rather get into the nitty gritty, what makes you human, you know, what is your human experience? What is your, you know, adaptability, what is your mantra in your life that drives you, and that keeps you moving? You know, those moments, those are the things that make you really get to know a person. And, you know, we’re all walking around into this world, having such superficial conversations, when we could be walking around this world, really learning other people’s human experience. And that could really inspire us, you know, and really drive us to find better alignment and

Matt Stagliano 22:34
purpose, I’m going through this little bit of a shift myself at the moment where I’m just, I’m getting rid of all the stuff that doesn’t serve me, right. And that’s a hard thing to do. And I’m not talking just like clutter in the house, I’m talking about friends that I realize are big, energetic drains. And it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. It’s just, I don’t want to be around that all the time. I still love them, I still think they’re great people. But I just can’t be around that energy all the time. I just I dread it and doesn’t fulfill any part of me, I would rather put my heart on my sleeve, and give everybody everything about me and let the chips fall where they may then hide things or keep it surface because I don’t feel like we we create those deep connections. I’ve noticed that the folks that I connect best with are those same people that are like, No, this is me Take it or leave it. And I’m like, Yes, that’s exactly who I want to talk to is someone unashamed of who they are, what they are, where they’re going, what their ambitions are. That’s the energy that I love being around whether I agree with it or not, I just love being around that energy. And with everything that you’re doing, it seems like you’re weeding out all the surface stuff, too. And get right to the heart of the matter.

Melissa June 23:58
You know, cancer did that for me in a lot of ways. It does that. First of all, the people that show up sometimes surprise you, the people that don’t show up also sometimes surprise you. And then you know, I’ve always had a ton of energy. But I didn’t during that time. So I think that I didn’t even notice how drained I was. Yeah. And then I had this desperate need to be inspired. I was in my own head so much that it was like, you know, cancer, no matter how many people you have around you. And I had a lot of people actually called to my community in a really special way during treatment, and they didn’t show up for me in a lot of really powerful ways. And even with that level of support, it’s a really lonely space. And you really do have to be hyper aware of what energy you’re allowing around you. And then frankly, you know, it’s just like what we talked about earlier. Once you become conscious of that. You’re never unconscious of it again. You just You just can’t you just can’t go back So good for you. I mean, I think that if everybody goes through that cycle, you know, consistently, we get, like this obligatory pressure to keep people in our lives because that’s what makes us the friend, you know, or that’s what makes us a good family member. But, you know, there’s there’s a cost to being a murderer, and often it plays out in disease. I think that if everybody could take a look at their own lives and their own energy sources and their own inspiration, and see what they’re giving, and also what they’re receiving, that’s that’s how we evolve as humans as we go through this whole life experience. What’s the point of getting hold? If you’re watching the same movie over and over again? You know, if every Friday night, you’re seeing the same people at the same conversation doing the same thing? I mean, that’s like, my honestly, that’s my personal like, hell.

Matt Stagliano 25:56
Yeah, no, and I agree the 100%. And I think this is why I, you know, the universe kind of brought us together at that subraces self value workshop, because the thing that I learned last year, November, Sue asked the very simple question, what do you want? What do you want, and you don’t, you don’t really think about what it is that you want, you think about what you should do, or what you’re obligated to do, or you know what your boss tells you to do. But it’s rarely in full and 100% alignment with what you want. And it’s this ongoing, iterative, lifelong process, right. And it changes all the time. But it was the first time that I had really understood that I can give myself permission to do whatever I want, and be unapologetic for it and want the things that I want and get out of generational poverty and get out of this traumatic mindset and really change things going forward. And I wish more people would take the time to just ask themselves that question, what is it that you want?

Melissa June 27:05
So Sue is a very dear friend of mine? And she asked me that question a couple of years ago. And I will tell you, I couldn’t answer the question. And so she said, start with what you don’t want. And I could, I could give you that list.

Matt Stagliano 27:23
That’s an easy list. That’s a big one, too.

Melissa June 27:26
But the crazy part is, when I started making that list, it was really magical, because it was like, I don’t want this, I don’t want that. I don’t want this, but I Oh, I want that. And then you as you get as that list gets longer, okay, get rid of what you don’t want. Now start the list of what you do want. And it was really, it was a really special, you know, it was really special advice for me, from her. I mean, she’s loaded with all sorts of little treasured nuggets, and rules to live by. I mean, if you ever asked her what her life mantra is, I would die to know, you know, there’s so many moments like you talked about the shooting yourself, you know, constantly. And we, you know, we’re we’re ingrained in this like, pressure of what we’re supposed to do, you know, we go to college, we get a good job, we get married, we have kids, and then what happens, nobody talks about what happens after you hit happily ever after. And that’s when it starts to unfold. And that’s where suprises self value really, I mean, first of all, suprises self value should be taught to children in preschool. But that when, when I was going through the hardest moment of my life, and that was after cancer, learning that I didn’t want my old life that really that whole self value, curriculum, as maybe I would call it approach journey changed my life, because it really did give me the guidance to see my life from the inside or from the outside in. And then it gave me direction from the inside out. And I think that was that was an incredible

Matt Stagliano 29:02
gift outside of the your personal life at that moment of change. And you started to redirect this energy towards your career. I know that you were working for this legal ad firm, you started to get into branding, and I’ve seen some of the talks that you’ve done on branding, and it’s so onpoint it’s the message that a lot of folks need to hear, but it seems to be a very reserved profession. I know it’s changing, but it seems you know, classically that it’s a reserved profession. So what inspired you to start creating this women’s networking group in legal Why not legal in general, you know, you niche down to women for a specific reason. Can you talk a little bit about that, like why you niched there, what did you see is the gaps that you needed to address the problems that you needed to solve.

Melissa June 29:53
We say all the time that legal is a very male dominated space. And while that might be true when it comes wants to billboards, you know that’s starting to change and it is evolving. Now, there are way more women now really being intentional about branding themselves and putting themselves on billboards. And I can’t tell you how impactful that is going to be for the industry as a whole down the road. But you know what, when it comes to branding in the legal industry, what was really important for me was, as I met these attorneys, I wanted people like me to know who the good guys were, I as I was meeting these really amazing attorneys, I wanted people to be able to connect with them. So again, the reason that I was a good, I was good at branding. The reason why I’ve been good at marketing has been because I take the person, that attorney, and get to know them, and then find out where in their community they can reach out to so that people can see them. It’s not creating a persona, it’s just shining a light on who they are, and creating a connection with the people so that the the people that they serve will come to them. Right. It’s this reciprocity. And to me, that’s where community outreach comes into play. I take a I mean, really, no attorney works for me if they are not works for me, no attorney works with me, if they don’t have an intention to give back to their community, I work with local nonprofits and local small businesses to really connect them. And it’s, again, it’s building that network, we’re all serving the same people, we’re all serving the same community. So how do we do that together and build that stronger. And that’s where the lead came in. One thing that I that I saw in the community was, you know, there’s there were a handful, or there are a handful of women centric organizations that are really designed to empower and to educate female attorneys, which is epic, right? We need that education that that prolonged education, so that they’re constantly getting better at what they do, right. But there isn’t a lot interconnecting the women in the industry. So what I found is, when I was diagnosed, the legal industry showed up for me in a really special way, in the text threads that they put together. For me, it was in the way that they included me or FaceTime to me from the conferences, it was the way that they really embraced my absence. That gave me just so much connection. And it gave me so much life because again, as a extroverted extrovert, when I was sick, or at home or in my bed, and I craved that, and when I didn’t have access to that, it broke me in a lot of ways. So as I was offline, away from my job, so to speak, I got to really connect with a lot of different people in the industry, and a lot of different women doing a lot of different things that maybe I wouldn’t have spent so much time or had so much conversation with. And what I found was, the more interconnected, we all work, despite what we do. Right. So the vendors that are connecting with the administrative personnel, the administrative personnel that are interacting with the attorneys, the attorneys that are interacting with the paralegals that are interacting with the administrative personnel that’s interacting with the vendors, the more we all communicate, the stronger our career is, you know, the better we are at our jobs. And so I wanted to create a network that that did that, that created that platform. So, you know, in the legal industry, there’s a lot of conferences, and there’s a lot of road dogs, as I like to call them. There are a lot of conferences, and they get to it becomes its own community, which is beautiful. And it’s like a family, we spend a lot more with them than with our actual family. It was what are we doing to support the women in the offices across the country, legal industry is very male dominated. But if you look at who’s running the offices across the country, it’s primarily women. And, you know, how are we connecting them with one another? And then if, you know, how are we empowering them to elevate? What if, what about the administrative personnel that wants to become a paralegal? What about the paralegal that was thinking about going to law school? You know, how are we supporting one another, and I just really firmly believe that the more we’re interconnected, and the more we get to know each other, and the more we all know what each other wants, the more we can help each other get there just by nature of being who we are, and knowing what we know and who we know. And so that’s what the league is all about. It’s, it’s all about that network of empowering women and interconnecting them and finding out what they need. talking openly speaking vulnerably you know, we do these connection sessions once a month, that are webinars that that really hit hot topics that professional women are facing constantly and we bring in experts to talk about it. We do learning with the league and this is you know, self develop Like men and professional development that we could all use, it’s how do you negotiate? It’s, you know, journaling, it’s what we all need just as women, it’s such a random hodgepodge. But it’s all the stuff that women are looking for, and that help them do the things that they’re doing better.

Matt Stagliano 35:17
Do you find that there’s any level of competition, or is the community that you’re fostering, you know, supportive. And I say that, because in the photography industry, there are certain communities that are very much, I am just going to give you all of my secrets, I don’t care, let’s talk, let’s make each other better rising tide lifts all ships, yada, yada, yada. And then there are communities where you ask a question, and you’re dismissed or put down or, you know, just ignored, right? And there’s a very heavy emphasis on competition, I’m not going to give you my secrets, you might steal my business, I know very little about the legal profession, and how attorneys interact with each other. So do you find that there’s competition that people need to get past? Or there’s at least a perception of competition? Or are they coming into this knowing that all of that is on the side? And we can just be a community and help each other?

Melissa June 36:14
And it’s such a great question, because I’ll tell you, my my mission and starting this was, first and foremost, this is not a bitch fest. This is not where we’re going to get here and complain about what’s wrong with the world. This is where we’re going to come into this space and talk about what are the solutions, we can all acknowledge what the problems are, we don’t have to belabor the point. But if you have a potential solution, or you have something that you can share, or a way that we can tackle a problem, let’s collectively do so. Now, granted, there’s always going to be, there’s always going to be a competitive edge to all of these things, right? We have competitive market things. You know, I actually even on my board, right? We have eight women on the board, and three of them are marketers. So they are direct competitors in the space, but they love one another they work together. Amazingly, they are incredibly empowering to one another. Now, are they talking on the you know, are they talking openly about what their biggest cases are? Or what they’re, you know, what they’re selling or, you know, maybe even the price is? Probably not. But to me, it’s there’s a way to empower another woman or another person without sort of pulling your pants down without posing yourself, and to me, exposing I guess your you know, your career without creating an exposure in your career. I think that there’s that there’s obviously that exists within the attorneys as well, Michael and creating this space and my message to every single person I talked to every single member of the board, every single member that joins up, it’s all about community and connection, what we’re doing is to come here to connect and collaborate and empower. And I’m not asking you to tell or to share, you know your secrets of how you found success in a way that’s going to close you. But I am asking you to lift others up. And if you see someone making maybe a mistake that you made in earlier part of your career that maybe you share that, you know, I’m a firm believer that there’s enough business for everybody

Matt Stagliano 38:20
years ago, years ago, I used to work for Cisco Systems, and we did mergers and acquisitions. And this is kind of back in the heyday before the 2008 crash, where we were buying, I don’t know anywhere between 12 and 20 companies a year. I mean, we were just really cranking along. But it was the heyday of Silicon Valley, right? You had Cisco and sun and HP and Google and Apple and like all of these companies, were snatching up all these little startups. So one thing we noticed was that the m&a community was really, really small in the Bay Area, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and all of the companies that were performing most of these mergers and acquisitions were located there. So my boss at the time her name is Sherry Yocum. Brilliant. She started with our team, this Silicon Valley m&a consortium, right, and it was just the heads of m&a. And like those of us that were intimately involved in all of these deals, to come together in some hotel conference room, and just sit around and share best practices. We were all competitors, right? We’re all vying for some of the same companies. But there is a way to share information, share best practices support each other. I found that really, really valuable creating this network because you could call anybody at any other company. You’re not giving up anything that’s under NDA, and you’re able to not only receive information, but you can mentor other people as well. Are you seeing mentorship be A big part of the league and how are you watching that develop?

Melissa June 40:05
Yes. And that’s actually the most magical part, my first connection session in the end when I started the lake. So the first connection session that we had, I had a woman who had been in the industry for 35 years. And I had a newbie who just got into the industry last year, she recognized, said person on the webinar, and was, like, as they as with the conversation was happening, because the point of connection session is literally, we have a conversation about these hot topics. And she started talking and she started talking and they were engaging, they ended up exchanging numbers. And, you know, the more seasoned professional in the room, she said to me, you know, I’ve done this for so many years, I just want to share what I’ve learned before I retire with, you know, new, energetic people that want to learn, you know, what good is all the lessons that I’ve learned, if I can’t share what I’ve learned with other people to kind of perpetuate those lessons. And the newbies said to me after, I would have never reached out to her, I would have never thought she’d give me the time of day. She’s so busy. You know, she’s just so much going on. And, you know, everybody wants to talk to her all the time. And, and I’m just she was just flabbergasted that she exchanged numbers and was willing to help her. And to me, it’s, you know, really recognizing the difference between the mentor and the mentee. And the reservations of both. And the intentions have both. And it’s really magical, when they can interact in a way that’s really meaningful for both parties. Right? A mentor should never be a mentor. If men if being that mentor is draining to them. A mentee should never seek a mentor if they’re not willing to put in the work and listen to what that person has to say. And so I haven’t created yet a real program for how to match people, but I am doing our connections and our networks and our networking events. With that in mind. It’s sort of how do they, how do they connect with one another through these different platforms, and then seeing kind of how that plays out. And really making sure that those things are fostered. And the empowered. So really telling the newer members and saying, Hey, if you see somebody or hear somebody say something that’s inspiring to you reach out to them. It’s telling the mentors, if you find somebody in the room, or you hear somebody say something, and you’re like, wow, I could really help them out, do but that’s the, that’s your call to action. That’s your purpose here. And we do say, when you join the League, this is an interactive organization, we need everybody to come to the table with what they have to offer, and offer it and do it and seek it out. And if that’s the that’s the part of what makes it work, because there’s only so much I can do. Right? I mean, maybe I’ve had my hands in a lot of pots over the 40 years of my life, and so has members of the board. And so we can create content until we’re blue in the face. But truly, how much more meaningful is it when the content and the connection, and the network really is grown from within? You know, that’s to me, what makes it authentic, and kind of eradicate some of what you were talking about earlier, where it’s sort of this imposed, no competition, you know, this sort of forced space. To me, it becomes more organic, and more authentic. When when people are literally, you know, seeking out those connections and relationships on their own.

Matt Stagliano 43:37
It’s less about mentoring, even though I know that that happens, but it’s about shared professional development, right, where everybody’s in this at a different point in their journey. But we can all provide amazing information to each other. And it’s funny how we let our own biases or assumptions get in the way of offering what we know. Right? So your 35 year veteran versus the the newbie, that newbie might think that they have nothing to offer a 35 year veteran, but everybody’s in the same place for the same type of professional development. Sure, they may know more or less. However, it’s not just about the knowledge. It’s about the connection and the authenticity. And you had on your website, there’s two things I want to ask you to define radical humanity and Caterpillar ship. And I want to know what those two things mean. Because I feel like those and I kind of have an idea, but I want to get an understanding so I know how it all fits into this big picture.

Melissa June 44:45
Yeah, and first for both of those things. I love that that’s what you I love that that you came to those things because it gives me the perfect shout out to one of the most amazing women I have ever met in my life and I met in the legal industry. Are you Julia Metz, Julia is an amazing attorney out of Florida. She’s just one of the most enlightened humans I have ever met. She’s like walking gold. And Caterpillar ship came from her when I was going through my metamorphosis. And it was a really difficult chapter, you know, we started the league, right before I got a divorce. And I didn’t know that while we were building all of this, I was going to be going through some of the toughest chapters of my life, and still having to show up every day, and really build this organization that was going to mean something, and be valuable in this industry and worth all the time and commitment that all of these women had put in to making it happen. And Julia said to me, she said, Listen, you got to do the caterpillar shit. Like that teacher doing right now. It’s ugly, it’s uncomfortable, it’s painful. It’s just gruesome, it’s gross, in a lot of ways. It doesn’t feel good. But it’s necessary in order for you to become the butterfly, everybody wants to talk about how beautiful the butterfly is. But nobody wants to talk about the pain, and the heartache, and the sadness, and the girl grit that they had to go through in order to get there. And so that was Julia. And we said, Whoa, that’s our mission. Right? We are going to help women, the caterpillar shed, to show up and do the work, that doesn’t always feel good. How do we evolve as women? How do we evolve as humans? How do we evolve in in a really meaningful way? professionally? How do we create our own trajectory? How do we, you know, show up for ourselves in in a really meaningful and purposeful way. And that’s the caterpillar ship, sometimes it looks uncomfortable, and sometimes it’s scary as hell, but it’s necessary in order for you to fly. And so that’s where Caterpillar ship came from. And it’s, it is golden. And that’s all Julia, back in January, we had our board meeting. And I don’t know if you follow ELS Entrepreneurial Operating System, it doesn’t. Matter of fact, yeah, I’ve

Matt Stagliano 47:12
seen it. Sure.

Melissa June 47:13
I have done a lot of work with Entrepreneurial Operating System. And the work that they’ve done in, you know, the entrepreneurial world, the professional world, in building the operational structures of these businesses, I believe firmly in in their practice. Mike Morris is an attorney out of Michigan, and he took a lot of what ELS was, or is, and he really brilliantly fine tuned it to work with law firms. So it’s called fireproof. And he really teaches firms how to run their business and how to become fireproof. So he generously has donated that program to us at the league. And we’ve used it since day one. And one of the things that you do is these quarterly meetings, and we have an annual meetings, and this was our first annual meeting back in January, Jennifer Vala is one of his his cheetah hits she does operations for for him. And she’s my integrator for the leak, speaking all the ELS talk, but essentially the what it comes down to is we had this amazing meeting, where it was like, what is our mission? What are our values? What do we really value and we spent hours really dissecting? What are we doing here? Right, what are we We’re building this from the ground up, there are a gazillion women organizations out there. Why do we need to do this? And it was, what are we doing to support women in the spaces that it’s not popular to support them? What are we doing to support members of our community in a really meaningful way that maybe isn’t always favored? The radical humanity is? How are you going in and helping people in a way that might shock people in a way that’s meaningful, despite the norm kind of going against the grain? How do we bring in, you know, and how do we embrace the LGBTQ plus community? And how do we create a space for them within our community, like really embracing all of us as a whole, one of my dearest friends, Luke Russell, he’s really shared and helped me so deeply understand sort of how to sew show up and how to support the LGBTQ community and we as a collective team, our board wanted to make sure that we really were intentional from the start that we were a an inclusive space for everybody in the community. And that meant inviting our non binary brothers and sisters into our organization and making sure that we created a safe space and making sure that we were all showing up for one another collectively

Matt Stagliano 49:58
for ever The traditional model has been, don’t be human be be a robot, like follow this traditional plan over and over and over. And I love, love, love the fact that I’m seeing more and more companies like yours, more groups more communities talking about the need for humanity, inclusion, equity, diversity, just authenticity, just being good fucking people to one another. And when you can get people to sit back and think about that a little bit, these are the wonderful things that bubbled to the top humanity, Caterpillar ship authenticity. And I love the fact that you, you took the time to be deliberate in thinking about that. And that leads me to another question that’s kind of off topic, what does it look like? If someone is out there? And they’re looking to join the League? What can what can they expect?

Melissa June 50:53
So it depends on who you are in the industry and what, where you go and grow. So if you are going to the conferences, we have this incredible program called joy with Jess. So just Miller is on the board. And she’s an incredible soul, just the most soulful human with this really powerful energy. And she started joy with Jess, she actually she has an Instagram, you can follow her she does daily intentions and meditations and, and she’s super inspiring. And so at our conferences, we create a space for her to do a joy with Jess, and women can show up at the conference before it starts, you know, to start the day and connect with one another and she leads them in a meditation she leads them in, you know, this really powerful, intentional space that really gives them the confidence and the connection that they need to go out into the conference and really tackle what they want. It’s really settled the intention is what are you doing here? Why, why did you go out of your way to travel to Houston for this conference. So let’s focus on that. And let’s set your intention. And and let’s do it. And she’s you know, she’s an amazing leader in the sense that she just knows, she knows people. And she’s really empowering. And it’s really about drawing out in them what they need to be portraying out in the world in order for them to do better in their business. So we have programs like join with Jess at these conferences, which is amazing. We do connection sessions. And again, keeping those connections sessions, virtual so that all members across the country and no matter what position you’re in, can attend, and we talk about everything from, you know, work life balance, or really work life imbalance. We talked about money, oh my gosh. So one of our verticals is you know, financial management and independence around money and really empowering women to talk about money. And that’s something that we just are not taught from a very early age to discuss, it’s sort of this taboo thing. And so really creating empowerment around money at these connections, sessions, you know, we create, we create the topics around what women are wanting to talk about, and then create a forum where they can openly share it, right. And then when we get to a topic where it’s like, oh, we need more with that, right, we’ll go with learning with the league. So Julia metsu, I was mentioning earlier, she’s an incredible, she’s incredible at manifesting and really meditating. And, and really doing that in a purposeful way. And so she’s done a learning with the lead learning with the league on how to do that, you know, Sue, Bryce also talks about your daily ritual. You know, that’s also I mean, if you look at who are the most successful women, I know, they all have this, like real tangible, practice daily, checking in with themselves, and, and, you know, setting intentions. And so that’s what we do with the leak. It’s, you know, joy just had this amazing idea. And we just gave her the platform to do it. You know, Julia has this incredible mind and all this content just oozing from her. We just created the platform to create it. And so that’s how I want to keep the league moving forward is, what do our members have to offer that, that we’re missing? And then, and then let’s do it, you know, again, I’m not the I’m not the expert at everything, and neither are is our board. The whole point of the community is that everybody is interacting with it and creating what they need. And I think that’s how you keep it fresh. And that’s how you keep it fun. And that’s how you keep it from getting bland or superficial.

Matt Stagliano 54:45
You know, you had said earlier on that if Sue was able to teach the self value work to kids, how different would the world look? Well, you know, if we can take that approach and say alright, maybe the world’s a little bit big for me to solve Right now, but if I’m in this community with like minded people, there’s the real opportunity for that to change and to spread and grow. And I see you at the heart of all of that.

Melissa June 55:10
Totally. I mean, I think that we all if we all plant our seeds in, in the communities that we’re in, it will that is how we all elevate it, literally. I mean, beautiful. We’ve all heard it, that together, we rise, right? Does that mean, you know, you have to really come together, you have to really web yourself, you have to have the uncomfortable conversations, when I, you know, reached out to Luke to just ask him for his input, and what do I do? And how do I show up and, and I want to make sure that I create the safe space and you know, look, does a lot of really amazing work, just creating interconnection, that’s also his superpower, he talks about the power of connectedness, and the power of connecting with one another, and hearing who we are, and really getting real in that human experience. And, and that’s how we evolved as humans. And that’s how we grow spiritually, is really getting authentic, with others, and, and not being maybe so afraid of offending somebody or not saying what you need to say, it’s being willing to create a container that safe. We’re both, you know, members, I say, people are communicating creating a container that safe, where people can communicate openly, and really learn each other’s human experience, and how to show up for each other in a humanitarian way. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s my mission life.

Matt Stagliano 56:36
All right. So I got a couple of questions before we land this plane. What is your daily ritual look like for self care? How do you find yourself getting centered? What’s your daily ritual look like?

Melissa June 56:47
I’m up early. So some people are night people. Some people are early people, I’m actually kind of both I’m just not, I don’t sleep a ton. But I am five. And I actually just my girlfriend that I was just talking about join with Jess, she got me this book. And I open it every morning, just randomly. And I like to think that that’s what I’m supposed to read that morning. And then I read most of a journal, sit for like 10 or 15 minutes, and just drink my tea in quiet, and just kind of see what comes to my brain. And then I write for about 10 minutes in my journal, just whatever it is. And then I go to the gym, and then I start my day, you know,

Matt Stagliano 57:31
people are often put off by the daily ritual, because they think, Oh, I’m gonna do this every day. But once it becomes habit, it’s really not that big of a thing. And you zip through it like that.

Melissa June 57:39
I started mine, it really was, how about don’t put your don’t lift up your phone for the first 10 minutes, set an alarm on your phone for 10 minutes, throw it across the room? And then in your favorite place in the house. Just say that’s how I started?

Matt Stagliano 57:52
Where do you find gratitude? What are you grateful for today, waking

Melissa June 57:55
up, getting to talk to getting to build getting to have this career that inspires me sitting in this room, that is like my favorite room in the house, my health, you know, my family that has just been incredibly supportive, my friends that have shown up for me, and really special ways, you know, my career is really in a really special place right now where I feel like I’m really well aligned. You know, and I’m grateful for the choices that I made that were really, really hard that of this life, you know, that they got me here,

Matt Stagliano 58:33
it shows in everything that you do, how much a human can blossom, and really affect all of those around them. There are very few people that that I meet that have the instant connection with folks that I’ve seen you from afar and in person make with others. And it is truly a gift that you have. And I can’t imagine just how wonderful the women in the league must feel with you at the helm. It’s the league dot law, but give me the where can people find out more information about what it is that you’re doing?

Melissa June 59:09
Yeah, the league dot law, if you are doing anything in the legal profession at all, right, this is a place for you. You go to the website, you you register as a member, and you give us a little tidbits about what you need from us. You share a little bit about what you can provide to the community as well. And then and really, you start getting emails and invitations to everything that we’re doing right away. So it’s really very, very easy. And then I really encourage everybody to look up, you know, some of the people that we talked about today, right? Look up Luke Russell, and really learn about interconnectedness in our community and really leading with love and this radical humanity that we talked about. It’s incredible. Look up and follow you know Julia met Who just shares the most magical, you know life experience and enlightenment and look up joy with Jess and really engage in her platform and connect with what she’s doing and and really engage in that and then look up Sue Brice, and what she’s doing and sell value, you know, self value changed my life and gave it direction and really allowed me to see myself in a wholly different light. And I mean, I would, I would recommend that for anybody. And so I think all the things that we I don’t know, did I miss anybody?

Matt Stagliano 1:00:35
No. I think the funniest part of all of this is I asked you to plug your stuff, and you’re networking other people’s, you know, other people’s offerings. And it’s just it’s so natural. I expected. I don’t know what I expected. But that’s exactly where I figured we’d wind up

Melissa June 1:00:52
follow me on Instagram, the real Melissa.

Matt Stagliano 1:01:01
You’re amazing. I’m, I’m so so happy that we had a chance to do this. I’ve been wanting to do this since I met you last November. And I’m glad that we you know, got a chance to connect again a few weeks back. This is amazing. I cannot thank you enough for your time. I know you’re busy. And I know you have a few minutes before you have to go to your next thing. But spending time with you today was really a highlight. Thank you so much for being here with me. Thank you

Melissa June 1:01:29
so much. And thank you for having me and being you and creating this platform and all these conversations and I wish you weren’t so far away. But thanks to things like Bill, you know, connect from across the country. So.

Matt Stagliano 1:01:41
All right. Thank you so much. I will talk to you soon. Okay.

Melissa June 1:01:46
All right. Sounds great. Thanks. Take

Matt Stagliano 1:01:47
care. Bye bye.

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Generator Ep. 026 – Kristen Lettini: How to Build Your Own Fairytale

In this episode, Maine portrait photographer Matt Stagliano talks with Kristen Lettini.

Kristen is a Business Management Consultant and the host of the Build Your Own Fairytale podcast. She helps simplify and streamline processes so small business owners can do more of what they love, rather than get stuck in their day to day tasks of their business.

Podcast Title: Generator

Episode Title: How to Build Your Own Fairytale

Episode Number: 026

Publish Date: March 3, 2024

Episode Overview

Join us for an inspiring conversation about building a successful business on your own terms. Learn how systems and workflows transform solopreneur ventures, saving time and increasing revenue. Get tips on managing burnout, overcoming imposter syndrome, and optimizing your social media presence. Discover strategies to create work-life balance while pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. If you’re ready to design a fulfilling and successful business, this episode is for you!

Key Topics and Talking Points

**Systems streamline success: Discover how implementing systems and workflows transform businesses, leading to growth and sanity.
**Solopreneur Solutions: Get expert insights on systems specifically tailored for solopreneurs and small business owners.
**Work-Life Balance and Burnout: Learn tips for creating boundaries, avoiding burnout, and achieving a fulfilling life as an entrepreneur.
**Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Explore strategies to combat imposter syndrome and step confidently into your entrepreneurial role.
**Social Media Strategy: Optimize your social media presence with actionable tips on content planning and audience engagement.

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