insights from melissa baer. CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND .... and canada
What happens when you mash up organic farming, savvy business skills and sharp rugby ability? You get the background for the bubbly and engaging, Melissa Baer!
At 15 years old, Melissa kicked off life as an entrepreneur. She was passionate about playing rugby, so put her efforts into pursuing this on and off the field, and self-funded her rugby. That led to her teaching these skills to others in the sports club, empowering a group of people to go out and fund their own athletic programs. Talk about paying it forward!
Like most of us, at school Melissa didn’t have a clear answer to the ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ question, but she knew for certain that business was going to be part of her life, and that developing strong commercial acumen was going to be an essential skillset. We were impressed that someone so young had successfully immersed herself in the business world, especially embracing the financial side of things.
This no doubt was seeded in her upbringing - Melissa grew up on a farm in Canada and “did the farm books and business plans” since she can remember. Her father took her along to several workshops and seminars about tax, tax structures and so on – and according to Melissa, she enjoyed going to them. Awesome to find that spark of interest – and sometimes it’s in areas you don’t expect. She’s continued to feed this interest by reading a tonne of books about money, investing and saving, which she also puts into practise. Melissa gently reminds us all to remember “there is the ‘getting the money’ part, and there’s the ‘what you do with your money’ part.” It also helped that she came across Tony Robbins at an early age too!
After working in a corporate job, Melissa realised she loves to shake things up, she’s a change agent, and a disrupter, so corporate life wasn’t for her. She soon left that behind and created her own path, one of an entrepreneur, and now spends her days building businesses. Being bold and being true to herself allows her to live life on her terms and in-line with her values, her working life is less a ‘career’ and more ‘making a difference to the world’.
No path is all sunshine and jellybeans though and Melissa’s found it hard to clearly label the path for her. She embraces “the curse of entrepreneurship” - the uncertainty, and stays open to what comes next. While it can be a struggle without the certainty of what lies ahead, Melissa was always clear on her definition of success – success means freedom.
While now being New Zealand based and building a brand and business here, Melissa also runs a successful business in Canada. This is no mean feat and at times it’s been tough. She explained that sticking around in the farm environment, and digging deep as opposed to cutting her losses when things were challenging, taught her many invaluable skills such as intuition and trusting herself.
There’s a lot of effort that goes into making this type of lifestyle work. Two lives, across two hemispheres, in two countries, is one of the hardest things to manage. To stay on top of everyday life and work pressures, Melissa’s health is her number one priority, and she books time for all things health related in her calendar first. Melissa has set herself the challenge to ensure she makes time to relax and have some down time (not easy for a successful, driven, high energy lady!). This is an integral part in helping her achieve her aspiration to fully accept herself, to be calm, at peace and confident in her actions. Melissa also actively simplifies her life, makes her own health and products, and to ensure good health is convenient and affordable, she makes time to meal prep. It’s these health fundamentals that really help fuel Melissa as she navigates her week.
As you know, we’re on a mission to share stories and tools that inspire women to strive for what they want, arm them with assets and skills, and support them in their decision making. Melissa reminds us that we “don’t need to fight so hard.”, we can embrace our natural strengths, and we would all do well to support each other and find a way to work together, with men and women. Doing so, rather than battling for everything, means a change will be more likely. Openly and actively collaborating – yes, we’re huge advocates for that!
When it comes to confidence and empowerment, Melissa is bang on when she says “There is a difference between a woman who walks in a room and thinks ‘I deserve it’ rather than ‘I am going to get it’.” That innate sense of worth is magnetic, and for many of us, it’s not something we naturally have at all times, it comes and goes depending on the context and on the day. It’s something we can all be aware of and build up in ourselves and assist others to do too. It’s not surprising that when we asked Melissa who she admires, she replied “Women who are grounded in who they are and what they do; are calm and at peace and are confident “. Yes! When our conversation turned towards the future, Melissa talks about how the workforce and nature of work is changing, There’s a huge opportunity for more contract based work, which will allow people to tailor their working lives around who they are and what they want to be working on. However, businesses need to embrace this and make it easier for all parties. It would also be great for organisations to shape their opportunities so as to better engage with older people – without them, we are missing out on a lot of wisdom and knowledge!
When it comes to navigating today’s world, we’re hyper connected, very visible and everything is based on trust. How we act, what we tolerate and what we stand up for, what we deliver, our word and our reputation, is crucial. Melissa reminds us that if we contrast this with most workplaces – work and business design are very linear, and very black and white. Her prediction is that as workplaces evolve to better align with society, business KPIs and requirements for promotions and pay rises need to be reconsidered too.
Melissa Baer shows us that building both a strong sense of self, and good financial savvy is a killer combo! She authentically lives her passion, and champions other women to the same. It is her hope that women express themselves as they are, and instead of adjusting to a ‘men’s world’ in some business settings, that women accept themselves and stay unique, because women are an asset and of immeasurable value.
"Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable savings account." Anne Wilson Schaef
Interview completed by Kat - Summer 2017/2018
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