The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective app.
Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/9627c
Pocket Casts: https://cavnesshr.co/thecaf72e5
Social Media links for Melissa Below!!
Carolina Consulting FB: https://www.facebook.com/carolinaconsultingllc/
Melissa’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa’s Book Recommendation!!!
“I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling In Love with Your Fears Can Change the World” by Kyle Cease
Link to purchase this book is below.
Resources from Melissa!!!
“Essential Life Skills: Christian Homeschool Course on Manners, Communication, and Living Biblically in the Community” By Melissa Williams
Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. I am your host Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Melissa Williams. Melissa, are you ready to great today?
Jason: Melissa is founder and chief consultant at Carolina Consulting LLC, Author of "Essential Life Skills. Founder and President of nonprofit organizations, a Navy Veteran, wife, passionate follower of Christ and mom of three awesome children. She served in the Navy from 2003 to 2007. After which she completed her undergrad at Old Dominion University with a major in Philosophy. Since then she has studied at Notre Dame, Villanova and Oxford Universities. She is a hopeless serial student. She has risen from foster care in one of the poorest counties in rural South Carolina to being an established community leader, Author, and entrepreneur who is dedicated to improving the quality of life for most communities of citizens. Melissa thank you for being here today. What's keeping you busy right now.
Melissa: Oh man, lots of teamwork, lots of teamwork stuff going on. So I wanted to talk about this concept that's kind of come up lately in some of the teams I've been on and it's come up throughout my career at multiple points. So it's the concept of the no brainer being the answer as in sometimes the simplest answer is actually the right answer. So, we're going to pretend that we're in a conference room. We've been pulled into a conference room. We've all been there. You're on a team. So hypothetically we have eight people on our team. So the eight people are in a conference room discussing this problem. Some people are going to try to think of a solution that betters themselves that somehow puts themselves in the center. To move their career forward. That's pretty ego centered. So they are trying to think of a solution. But they're not going to think of a good one because it's going to be benefiting them and not actually benefiting the organization. So the other two are sort of in total denial that a problem even exists. No everything's fine. We're good. They either are super passive aggressive and want to avoid conflict or they're lazy and they don't want to do the work to fix the problem. So there's half the room right there.
Melissa: Then you have the other two. That are the negative nellies. They place the blame trying to find who to pin it on they're not really worried about a solution. They're trying to find out who they can blame for this situation. So they're over there churning away. You know starting the gossip trails and posting their vague Facebook posts about what's going on. The one that's genuinely trying to find a solution and they just can't see it. They have good intentions, but they just don't see the bigger picture. So out of your eight, then you have one that sees where the kink in the chain is and they know what the problem is and for a long time that was me. I have a very analytical mind. I could see this is precisely where the bug is, but I would not say anything. I kind of thought, this is so obvious. If they don't get this, you know I am not going to speak up and sound stupid. If that's not really what's going on. And time and time again, we would get to a point where we pull in a consultant who would say what I had already thought. It would waste a lot of money and all this time. So this is an issue that I really think probably 90 percent of who I'm talking to is women in the workforce who don't speak up.
Melissa: So the big thing I want to encourage everyone if you see that solution. To be bold and step forward and say it. I mean even if it's wrong at least you're moving the wheels forward to come up with a solution. I don't know if guys have this problem so much. From my experience with working with men. Men will say whatever comes to their mind. Right out there mouth. It's amazing the stuff that they'll say. A lot of times women who have great ideas and great input will be very hesitant to put that out there. So when I took the ASVAB, I was 20 years old on and scored highest in Mechanical Engineering. Which I thought was a total fluke. I thought they got my scores mixed up with somebody else. In the years since then, I've discovered that I am a very analytical person. If I'm looking at that diagram with all the wheels and the little cogs, I can see exactly where it's going wrong. So never hesitate to think that the simplest answer, the sort of no brainer thing that pops in your head can actually be the solution. Because 90 percent of the time it is.
Jason: You bring up a good point. Pretty much all the females that have been guests on here have said the same thing as you. They want females to be loud and to be heard. But for whatever reason they are not doing this.
Melissa: Yeah, it can be intimidating. It's been pretty hilarious some of the mansplaining I've had in my career. With men that will literally sit on the edge of my desk and explain my job to me. So it's difficult sometimes, but we have to be bold if we know that we're qualified and we know the solution. Just step right out there and politely go ahead and give it to them.
Jason: Melissa, you do a lot of work with nonprofits. From your point of view, what is the difference between running a non-profit and a business? Or is there a difference?
Melissa: Nothing! The only difference, I heard this two weeks ago and I wish I could give credit because it just came and went out of my head. But, someone said the only difference in a nonprofit and for profit is the tax designation and that is so true. If don't run your nonprofit like a successful business. It will most likely fail.
Jason: So for non-profit, how do people go about bringing on great talent to build that non-profit'
Melissa: Well, I'm glad that society is kind of getting to a point where it's OK to fund overhead. For a long time, they wanted that real thin margin that you'd always hear on ads. 98 cents out of every dollar goes to the mission. Well, that's not exactly a healthy organization. It's OK to give to overhead and it's OK to pay your staff accordingly. So the best way to get quality staff and to bring on great talent is to actually pay them. I mean it may not be exactly what they're making in the for profit sector. But there does have to be a little bit of competitive edge there.
Jason: Melissa, you're a great connector of people. How do you go about doing this? What makes you so great at connecting people?
Melissa: I love to listen and observe and just and always look. My husband and I have been watching Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Love it. He says about himself. I just am an observer, I just see everything and so I have tried to be more aware. When I'm at a networking meeting or even just casually out meeting someone. The other day I went to meet my husband's new boss in his office. I notice some things he had written on his chalkboard and I said hey let's talk about that. You get your goals up there on your job board. So just noticing things like that can help you connect the dots between people you know who could be helpful in that way.
Jason: Melissa, back on April 30th, you published an article on LinkedIn called, "True Collaboration a Pipe Dream 6 Points of Reflection". Can you talk about that a little bit.?
Melissa: I think a big issue in the nonprofit community is ego. Going back to people getting paid. If you don't get paid a lot. A lot of times sort of that salary you get that unpaid salary is the social cred of working in the non-profit community. Get your face out there, you're known sorta as a do gooder. So when so much rides on that there's a lot of ego involved. So when you have multiple organizations working together a lot of times those egos can clash. If there's a massive problem that needs to be solved say homelessness. Obviously, one organization can't solve homelessness in a particular town. It takes a lot of organizations working together. So the people in leadership at those organizations have to be truly humble people and have their ego in check to be able to say. You what your organization is going to ride with this. Maybe the grant funding will be better used at your organization and everybody sort of take a step back and check in the egos. Because I've found that when organizations that are truly committed to solving whatever issue they're tackling and they kind of put their egos on the backburner that's when the best collaboration happens.
Jason: Melissa, for your company, Carolina Consulting, how are you doing the marketing? Is it just word of mouth or do you have an actual marketing plan?
Melissa: Right now it's actually been word of mouth. I started with a marketing plan and when I started up and I found that word of mouth kept me so busy. I kind of shut down every other avenue of marketing. Because then I was just getting inundated with leads I couldn't follow up on.
Jason: Is there a certain type of nonprofit that you like to deal with best? Or do you deal with all types?
Melissa: Oh I deal with anything. I'm really passionate about United Housing Connections here in Greenville. I sat on their board for a little over a year and I love the work they're doing. Going back to what I was saying, truly humble people in leadership there. That are working hand in hand with dozens of organizations to really alleviate the problem of homelessness.
Jason: Melissa, what drew you to that nonprofit world versus something else?
Melissa: I like being poor. I am just kidding. I actually worked for a couple of years at DOD after I got out of the Navy and the bureaucracy and the red tape absolutely drove me wild. I just could not stand it. So I was out venting to a friend of mine. I think he was kind of tired of just hearing me vent and sort of off the cuff he said, "you know I think you need to volunteer". As in you need to get out of your bubble and realize there are bigger problems out there. So I did go start volunteering with the Southeastern food bank in Virginia Beach. Shortly after I started work with Angel Flight mid-Atlantic. I just fell in love with the people and the culture. I just got hooked and I've been doing it ever since.
Jason: Melissa, can you talk about time you were successful in the past. What you learned from this that what we can learn?
Melissa: I thought of some of the obvious ones. Like starting my own business and actually having a client and being able to pay a bill. But when I really thought about it. I thought about when I was a junior in high school. I was a terrible procrastinator. So one of my English teachers assigned an essay. We had like two weeks to do it. I did it the night before and turned it in. She did not tell us she was submitting these essays to a scholarship contest. So I won. It was really incredible. It was a scholarship from the Charlotte Hornets back when they were the Hornets the first time. I got a phone call that I've won this essay and everybody that read it. It was an essay about my grandfather. Everybody that read it just would say it brought tears to my eyes. It was something I had literally written the night before. So through the years I've kind of I don't consider myself a great author. But I do mess around with some writing. It taught me then that I have a voice and it somehow touches people and that's a pretty big responsibility. So that's a lesson that I'm still learning. If you right well or speak well, people listen to that. So use it wisely.
Jason: Can you talk about a time you failed in the past? What you learned from this failure and what we can learn?
Melissa: The reason I went and started my own business is because I was fired for the first time. First, last and only time I was fired. Man it was devastating. I was raised in the south. Everybody has a strong work ethic. It's all about working and your career. So that was like the ultimate failure was to be fired. When I really was honest about it and looked back on the entire interview process. There were major red flags the whole way. You know there were processes during interviews that were handled really poorly. I had interviews canceled at the last minute. So the way they treated me during the interview process, was the best they treated me after I started the job. So that was something that I really learned a lot that I should've listened to the red flags. You know I feel OK now knowing that I wasn't let go due to any job issues. I was let go because of compatibility with myself and this organization and that was super evident during the interview process. If I really listened to my gut and been really honest about it. I did move for the job. So it was a great vehicle for getting me to this region and an area that I love. So you know I'm not mad at it. But it was a real wake up call. The way people treat you when they first meet you doing proposal meetings, during interviews. That's the very best they're ever going to treat you. So if there are already canceling interviews and brushing you off just go ahead and take a check.
Jason: That's very true. Great advice. Can you talk about someone who has helped you in the past and how they helped you?
Melissa: Again this is kind of a difficult one because a lot of people helped me through the years. But probably the most helpful person was not like they gave me something or a handout or anything like that. About seven years ago I got divorced and when I got divorced. I couldn't really afford to live in the area where I was living. So I had to move two states away back to South Carolina where I am from. I moved for a job and when I got there the job fell through. It was a grant funded position and the grant didn't get renewed. So I was a newly single mom in a new community and like broke. So I took a job a Starbucks just to make ends meet. After a few months I applied for a job at a local nonprofit. I've been scanning every single day and finally a job came up in development. So I applied for it. So I was called the next day to come in for an interview. I didn't even have any professional clothes to wear. So I went to Goodwill got a suit at a thrift store and went into an interview like there's no way they're going to hire me at all. I currently work at Starbucks and it a pretty good level position and I'm wearing a suit from goodwill. So I went and met Lane Cook, the Advancement Vice President at the time. That woman treated me with dignity from the day I started there.
Melissa: Of course starting a new job as a single mom who has been broke. I had car troubles and various things come up over the next few months. When I was really getting my feet under me and she never mentioned it. She always treated me as a professional. She gave me professional development opportunities. She never discussed any issues that I had. It's not like she gave me a pass. There was a period of time I was without a car and I couldn't afford to buy a new car. So I was taking the bus to work and walking. So it was about a two hour commute one way. I was walking into work, walking home and she just never mentioned it. So it wasn't that she was overly kind or anything like that, she was professional. But she treated me with dignity throughout that entire process. She focused on my career and helping me move forward in my career. She did it with absolute dignity and kindness. We still keep in touch and she still will send out a recommendation for me if I ask her. She is an incredible person and so just having that person that believes in you and sees the value of your work. That was incredibly valuable to my career.
Jason: Melissa, that's a great story and I think even a greater testament to your ability to hustle back in the day to get things done and take care of yourself and your family. Melissa tell us something about yourself that most people that know you don’t know. Your close friends and family know this. But most people that know you, don't know this about you.
Melissa: I thought about this. I'm really open and I was like, ok what do people not know. I have to share my secret and that is that I don’t not have a green thumb. I have a garden outside and if something dies, I'll go buy another plant from home depot and plant another one. So I'm totally faking my Green Thumb. It's all an act, every plant I get I kill it.
Jason: Melissa can you recommend a book for listeners?
Jason: Absolutely. I have a book by Kyle Cease. Kyle was a comedian and the name of his book is “I hope I screw this up” and he was a traveling comedian. Then he kind of got serious and wrote a kind of a book on self-help. It is very motivational and it's very funny. I like having a sense of humor. So that's a fantastic book for anyone kind of struggling in their career. I read it a couple years ago and it really helped light the fire to get things going again.
Jason: Melissa, I understand you have something for our listeners as well.
Melissa: Yes. I wrote a book called “Essential Life Skills and I did that because my kids were turning into wild animals and all the children I saw in public were turning into wild animals. I went to a bookstore one day. I went in and I asked the little hipster working there. Do you have manners for children? He said no. So we looked it up and when I was growing up it was Emily Post. There wasn't really anything out there. So I wrote, “Essential Life Skills. It is twenty five Lessons. On courtesy and etiquette and finances and being a good friend and being a good family member. So it's lessons that you go through with your child. You can sit down over dinner and go over a lesson in a spiritual base. So it does have some Bible verse references at the end of every lesson. But it's helped my kids and it helped some of my friends’ kids. It's not so much of an admonishment. It helped them understand that having proper etiquette is a matter of respecting the person you're with.
Jason: Melissa, can you share your social media links for yourself and company so people do reach out to you?
Melissa: Absolutely. Everything should be exactly the same. So it should be Facebook.com/CarolinaConsulting LLC. That's it.
Jason: For our listeners, we will have the link to her book recommendation and her social media links in our show notes. You can find the show notes at www.cavnessHRblog.com
Jason: Melissa, we are coming to the end of our talk. Can you provide any last minute words of advice or wisdom on any subject you would like to talk about.
Melissa: Just be bold. There's a lot of people out there that are there living in fear and afraid to speak up and afraid to be confident in their skills and their expertise. I can especially say as being a veteran and coming out of the military. That gives you an enormous amount of expertise and skills. That are even just the soft skills not related to your job. Be bold in that and have confidence and go out and crush it.
Jason: Melissa thanks for being a guest today. I really appreciate it.
Melissa: Thank you. I had a great time.
Jason: To our listeners, thank you for your time as well. And remember to be great every day.