Welcome to episode 181 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Melissa Coleman from The Faux Martha about the things she learned about herself this year.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Jeff Coyle from MarketMuse about becoming an expert on your blog. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
The Year of the Pivot
Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha had a big year. Not only does she run a successful blog, she also published her first book, The Minimalist Kitchen, this April.
But they aren’t the only reasons she had a good year: she called this year The Year of the Pivot. She knew something needed to change, and she set out on a journey this year to make it happen.
Without revealing too much, she learned quite a bit from this experiential year, and the lessons she learned serve as a powerful message to all bloggers in this episode.
In this episode, Melissa shares:
- What it was like to write a book
- Why she wanted to find a new direction
- How she navigated the fall
- Why it’s important to play
- What it means to protect the everyday
- Why it’s helpful to start with a problem and work to a solution
- How she’s preserving her asset
- How she approached hiring
- What’s next for her and her blog
- The Faux Martha
- The Minimalist Kitchen
- After the Fall
- The Horse Named Hustle
- Job Opening: Left Brain
- The Minimalist Kitchen Course
- Follow Melissa on Instagram
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
We’d like to thank our sponsors, WP Tasty! Check out wptasty.com to learn more about their handcrafted WordPress plugins specifically made for food bloggers.
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode, I talk about my favorite to-do app. Then Bjork interviews Melissa Coleman from The Faux Martha, about the year of the pivot.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hi, our friend, you are listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast, where we chat about the content, marketing, growth, and mindsets that all go into creating a successful and profitable blog. First, a message from our sponsors, WP Tasty, aka, our sister site for WordPress plugins.
Alexa Peduzzi: If you’re a food blogger, and you’re looking for plugins that kind of take care of all of that tech stuff for you, look no further than WP Tasty. We have a recipe plug in, a Pinterest plug-in, and a keyword auto-linking plug-in. They help you create and promote your content without worrying about all of tech stuff going on behind the scenes. You can learn more at wptasty.com.
Alexa Peduzzi: For today’s Tasty tip, that is the tip we like to give you at the beginning of a podcast episode, that’s sponsored by WP Tasty, I wanted to chat, actually, about one of my favorite to-do apps, Todoist. That’s TODOIST. Now, I’m typically a paper and pencil girl. I love my paper moleskin planner, but I also like to have an app where I can make notes of future to-dos, schedule out other to-dos, and just have it on me whenever an idea hits.
Alexa Peduzzi: I really love Todoist, because it allows you to easily break your work into projects. I actually have a Food Blogger Pro project, a blog project, a life project, a gift ideas project. Within those projects, I have separate to-dos. Today, I will be crossing off my podcast to-do in my Food Blogger Pro project, and then I’ll be rescheduling it for next Tuesday, when our new episode comes out.
Alexa Peduzzi: They have a mobile app, a desktop app, and a web app. I love having it open for whenever an idea or to-do strikes. So, check it out. If you have a different favorite to-do app, we’d absolutely love to hear about it in the comments section for the blog post for this episode. You can find that at foodbloggerpro.com/181.
Alexa Peduzzi: Now the episode. You guys, this is one of my top five favorite Food Blogger Pro podcast episodes, of all time. I kid you not. Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha had a big year this year. Not only does she just run a very successful blog, she also published her first book, the Minimalist Kitchen, this April.
Alexa Peduzzi: Those aren’t the only reasons she had a good year. She actually called this the year of the pivot. She knew something needed to change, and she set out on a journey this year to make it happen. Without revealing too much about her experience, I’ll let her reveal that in the interview, she learned quite a bit from this year. I just can’t even begin to tell you how powerful and helpful her message truly is.
Alexa Peduzzi: I just love this episode, and I really think you will, too. Without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Melisa, welcome to the podcast.
Melissa Coleman: Thanks for having me. I listen to you guys on the treadmill, when I run.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, oh perfect. Nice. The advantage here, is also that, I have … Usually before a podcast interview, I do a lot of research, which I did with this interview, as well. I also have the extreme privilege of having a lot of, we’ll call it research for the podcast, outside of that. You’d call it history in a relationship, because we’re able to hang out with you and your husband Kevin, all the time, which is so awesome.
Bjork Ostrom: As a matter of fact, you were probably sad that you weren’t able to attend, but Kevin and I and another friend just recently went to Monster Jam 2018.
Melissa Coleman: Yes. I was sad. I wanted to go.
Bjork Ostrom: It was so awesome. Tell me, in a brief recap, what was Kevin’s honest opinion on attending Monster Jam with us? It took a little bit of convincing.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah. He said, diesel, loud noises, but super cool. There’s huge cars in the middle of a football stadium.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The funny thing is, I thought about this a little bit, but didn’t know exactly what it would be like. It’s at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which is obviously closed. It’s like these massive trucks, and there’s one, I forget the name of it, it was a diesel truck. You could literally see this black smoke, but it just kind of hangs in the air then.
Melissa Coleman: Yes, yes. He said rubber, black smoke-
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, exactly.
Melissa Coleman: He told me all the things he was smelling and seeing.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is great. Good news, coming back in February, so maybe we can do … February 16, so Lindsay and I, and you and Kevin, maybe it can be a Valentine’s double date.
Bjork Ostrom: We are not here to talk about Monster Jam, although that was great. We’re here to talk a little bit about your story, and specifically a really cool transition. Well, I don’t want to brand it as something. I don’t want to talk about it as something specific. As we’ve had conversations, something that I think, I’ll say this, is really valuable for the podcast listeners to hear and to understand, and something that you’ve talked about on your blog. Excited to talk to you about it in-person on the podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: Before we get into it, I want to go back to what usually on a podcast would be what you’d wrap up with, which is talking about your book. You recently published an incredible book. This kind of led things off, it was kind of the launching point for some of this interesting transformation that you went through, in terms of how you looked at your blog and your business. Let’s rewind to that point. Share a little bit about your book and why this was kind of an important time for you, as you were processing some big decisions.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah, I wrote a book. It’s called the Minimalist Kitchen. Technically, it’s in the recipe section at the bookstore. It is a cookbook, but it’s also a book, book. Chapter one is longer than most. It’s thorough. It walks someone through the process of how to create a minimalist kitchen, from pairing down your tools to your ingredients, even to your recipes.
Melissa Coleman: It was a really involved process. It is a process that I have done over years in my kitchen. It’s a process that I say where it starts and stops in your life, let it be. It just kind of keeps going. It’s a philosophy and a framework, and I found a lot of success with it. Minimalism, in general, is almost like a tool in my toolbox, that I keep grabbing to solve different areas.
Melissa Coleman: I wrote this book. It published in April of this year, 2018. I’m not sure when this podcast will go live. It feels like two years ago, based on everything that’s happened this year. Probably, I think really in February, maybe even a couple months before, I thought, “After this book publishes and I give it my call and promote this book, I think I need to step away from blogging. Or I need to pivot. I need to do something.” I didn’t know what, then. I felt like I was in the middle of a major career life crisis.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and it’s interesting because for somebody like you, you have this established website, it feels very evolved to the point where it matches who you are. You’re a designer. You’re an artist. It’s not like this thing where you spun it up and then three months later you’re like, “Ah, I don’t know if I want to do this.” It’s parting ways with something that feels very close to who you are, which is a huge decision. You’ve been working on it and building it over a long period of time.
Bjork Ostrom: I’d imagine that was kind of a scary question to be asking. My question would be related to that. What was the reasoning behind it? What were the thing that you were feeling, and the things that led you to the point where you were like, “Hey, maybe I want to start going in a different direction, or have a big change”? How would you describe those feelings, and what you were processing and thinking through?
Melissa Coleman: Yeah, that’s a really good description of my blog. It’s been a very intimate space and I’ve always said the purpose of it is to feed me and not necessarily other people. I feel really lucky that it’s gotten to feed other people, too, and it resonates.
Melissa Coleman: As I even was starting to go back and looking at all the things I was talking about, I was very repetitive in that, “Oh my gosh, life is too frenetic.” Then I’d try to slow down. Then two months later, “Oh my gosh, life is too frenetic. It’s speeding.” It was always, “Life is too frenetic,” not something I was doing. It was something else.
Melissa Coleman: The cookbook really pushed me over the top. Before the cookbook, I should say, I wasn’t really planing on writing a cookbook. It wasn’t on my bucket list of items to do, in life. I did promise myself if one came to me, that would just pour out of me, then I would write it. It happened, and it came, and it was this book, it is this book, the Minimalist Kitchen. It’s something that I believe and something that I practice.
Melissa Coleman: When I got the contract for the book and I started working non-stop, I had a pretty tight turnaround in cookbook land. I got the contract in January, all my recipes, 100, were due by the end of June, I think, or beginning of July. Prior to signing the book, i was trying to create a better work-life balance. The cookbook came and I said, “Whatever, I’m doing this.”
Bjork Ostrom: Or not.
Melissa Coleman: And I just sold my soul for the book. I woke up early, and I went to bed late. Maybe not late to other people’s standards, but late to me.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s all relative, yeah.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah. I worked all the time. I let this book pour out of me. Then, anytime you … I worked on the book and then it goes off. It kind of disappears for a while. Then it comes back and you have to talk about this thing that you created. There’s a big gap between actually promoting the book and finishing the book.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. It’s so different than publishing content on a blog or social media, where the thing you are excited about, that you made that day, you then get feedback on that night, or maybe the next morning.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah, yeah. It’s instantaneous. This was almost a year delay of when I really finished the book or the work, to when it published. I think this is common, that anything you do something really huge in life, whether it’s publishing a book or graduating college, or having a baby, anything big, you lead up to that, you’re anticipating it. Then you get to this high, this climax, and there’s only one direction to go after the climax, and it’s down.
Melissa Coleman: Navigating the down, for me, I think that’s the fall. The egg fell off the wall. Navigating that, for me, was kind of the precipitous to what we’re talking about now, what I named the year of the pivot, for me. Everything kind of broke. I really, truly felt like the egg that fell off the wall. I had to somehow pick up the pieces and put them back together again.
Bjork Ostrom: This is Humpty Dumpty, to name the egg on the wall?
Melissa Coleman: Yes, sorry, Humpty Dumpty, yes, sorry, yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Not to name names, but it’s Humpty Dumpty.
Melissa Coleman: Sorry Humpty, I just called you out.
Melissa Coleman: A side note, if you have kids or if you don’t, there is a book called After the Fall. It’s about Humpty Dumpty. It’s such a beautiful book. You don’t have to have kids to like it, and it’s a very short read, obviously. I highly recommend that book if you’re feeling like you might be in the same space of life.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. The book is, I just pulled it up here. Just kind of curious about that, and we’ll link to it in the show notes. After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again. By the cover, it looks like maybe it would be a kids book, but this is a book, like-
Melissa Coleman: It is.
Bjork Ostrom: It is a kids book.
Melissa Coleman: It is. It is beautiful.
Bjork Ostrom: The story and the morals and what it communicates is important.
Melissa Coleman: It isn’t, coincidentally, I guess I don’t really believe in coincidences. I think that life is one big puzzle that’s slowly putting it’s way together. I got this book for my daughter for Christmas. Maybe it was Santa, maybe it was me, I don’t remember. I got this book and I read it to her the first time, and I just started crying. It’s so beautiful and so simply put, the way most things are in life. When you get down to the simple stuff, you can really hear it.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Melissa Coleman: Beautiful.
Bjork Ostrom: I’ll be sure to pick that up.
Bjork Ostrom: You were kind of speaking to this, and there was actually a post that you wrote, called the Horse Named Hustle, which we’ll link to, and I would encourage people to read through. I think there’s some great things from there. I think there was, in this post, you talk about specifically on the book tour. You said you found a little bit of clarity. You said, in talking so much about minimalism, a tool that you use “to make the everyday more doable, so doable it even produces a little joy, I decided that I wanted to work like a minimalist too.” Then you say, “pivot.” You talk about this being the year of the pivot.
Bjork Ostrom: When you think about that moment when you started to get some of that clarity and the connection that you started to make between minimalism and work, and the work that you’re doing, what was happening at that moment? What was the clarity around?
Melissa Coleman: Yeah, it actually happened at a podcast. I was in California, on the book tour, feeling really uncomfortable, because I like backspace and sitting on my computer, working for myself at home. Putting myself out there felt really uncomfortable. It really kind of helped all of this come to light. I was asked, and this was a common question I got asked, on the book tour, “What’s your next project?”
Bjork Ostrom: What’s next, yep.
Melissa Coleman: “What’s next?” Because there has to be something next. I eventually said, after hearing this question a couple of times, “My next project is myself. I need to figure out … I use minimalism in my closet, in my kitchen, in so many areas of my life. But my work life feels out of control. It felt like my closet did, many years ago. It felt like my kitchen did five years ago. My goal, I think, when I get back, is to figure out how to work like a minimalist.”
Melissa Coleman: That kind of helped frame the year of the pivot. One other thing I did, and this is not characteristic of me. I like homeostasis. I like to get things back to normal, ASAP, everything to be okay. I gave myself a year, a full year, to pivot. To listen to, maybe, things I’ve said in the past, or listen to myself moving forward. To listen to other people. To play. Play is something that I often recommend people who are unsure of where they want to go next, just play and try new things. See what’s sticking and what’s not.
Melissa Coleman: I allowed myself to do some of those things, over the course of the year, and to continue blogging, because I do have to make money for life. We all have bills. I gave myself a year, and that was a really positive, helpful thing, for someone like me, who likes quick answers fast, to make a good answer, or to find a good solution.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes. There’s a lot that I feel like we can pull from that. One thing that I’m curious to hear about, actually, believe it or not, ties into Monster Jam.
Melissa Coleman: Oh, yes.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the reoccurring thoughts that I have and had, specifically at Monster Jam, is like in some sense we all are still kids. We all have this inner kid in us. When we’re able to access that, then it just feels so good. There’s a couple times when I’ve thought about that throughout the year. One was, this was actually with Kevin as well. This podcast is going to make it seem like Kevin and I just hang out all the time, together, which we do hang out a lot, but a couple stories which relate to him and playing, which is good.
Bjork Ostrom: We played this game called, oh gosh, spike ball. Its called spike ball. There’s this tiny little trampoline, and you spike a ball on it. You try and keep it going. We played that this summer with some friends, and it was so fun. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. I haven’t played in forever.” I think going to Monster Jam, as goofy and funny as that was, is an attempt to do that same thing. Where it’s like, “Gosh, I’m still a kid,” that just like any other little boy or little girl that’s going to Monster Jam, is at some level just really entertained by these huge trucks jumping off of big trucks and smashing cars.
Melissa Coleman: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: You talked about playing. I think that’s something that we lose touch with, a little bit. The question is, as an adult, how do you play? What does that look like? How do you do that if you aren’t familiar with what that looks like or what that feels like?
Melissa Coleman: Playing as an adult is really hard. It’s interesting that you put it that way, because it’s often what I come back to when I have a problem. Even in a relationship. Take Kevin and I for example. When we had our daughter, we moved to a new state and city. We started new jobs. He built a house. All the things they say you should never do, they’re going to be really stressful, you should never do at once. We thought, “We can do this all at the same time.”
Bjork Ostrom: In a six month period.
Melissa Coleman: Six months, yeah. Easy. With a new born. I don’t think that’s enough.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Melissa Coleman: Life got really heavy and we didn’t really enjoy being around each other. I realized when, I think we played ping pong. He loves playing, you know that, you guys like to play ping pong, too. We started playing ping pong together at night. It hit me that I hadn’t laughed with him like that in months, maybe even a year, like a really long time.
Melissa Coleman: Play is something that seems so normal, and intuitive, and easy to do. I don’t think it is as an adult. Even as a child, I’ve had to teach my daughter how to play. I think that’s something we have to teach ourselves and we have to remind ourselves to do. That we have to intentionally do.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that is what I was going to say. There’s actually just this message that Lindsey sent me yesterday. I’m not on Instagram, so she has to send me the links-
Melissa Coleman: You’re better for it.
Bjork Ostrom: She has to send me the links to Instagram posts that she wants to share. It was about scheduling in time for fun, and how important that it is. It was like, “Oh, yeah, for sure.” It’s something that you need to do.
Bjork Ostrom: The quick little … It’s from Instagram. Her name is Sarah. It’s called Yes And Yes, blog. It says, “If you don’t schedule fun, it probably won’t happen. I’m sure you’ve witnessed this in your own life, right?” I won’t go on to read all of it. It was a post that she had from middle of December. I think that’s so true.
Bjork Ostrom: In starting to be intentional with play as it relates to you processing through, kind of getting back to the core of what brings you joy and trying to realign a little bit, what were some of the things that you discovered?
Melissa Coleman: I discovered that I started off really well. I started blogging, probably like a lot of people, hoping that one day I could work for myself. I got to that place. The beauty of blogging at that point, and this was years ago, the beauty of blogging was that you could work for yourself. You could create your own work, and you kind of got paid to do that, and it was incredible.
Melissa Coleman: For me, as a creator, that’s where my soul is fed. I’m a designer by trade. I like to make stuff. I’m happiest when I make stuff, so it was amazing. I built something for myself, to kind of play and to also make money.
Melissa Coleman: As it grew, as anything grows, from small to big, your problems get bigger, life gets messier. Last year, my work life got messier. It’s kind of like adulting. The more you take on as an adult, the bigger your house gets, the more appliances you buy, the bigger your yard gets, the more responsibilities you have.
Melissa Coleman: I realized over the course of blogging for ten years, and really just this last, probably three years that it really picked up, that it grew outside of me. It grew to the point where I didn’t have time to make stuff. I was handling emails. I was trying to understand contracts.
Bjork Ostrom: The worst.
Melissa Coleman: The worst. All the worst things.
Bjork Ostrom: If you were to give an example, if you were to say, “I love designing and creating,” and then you were to say, “What is something that is exactly opposite of that?” I would say, reviewing contracts.
Melissa Coleman: Yes, yes, yes. That was my whole … I felt like that was the bulk of my work. I was not, oh what do you say? I was not carving out space. I was not protecting space to create. One of the tools in minimalism is protecting space. In my kitchen I say, “I’m protecting the every day. I’m not going to put a bunch of random things in here that I’m not going to use. I’m going to protect the every day.”
Bjork Ostrom: What does that mean when you say protect the every day?
Melissa Coleman: It’s Christmas, right now, as we’re talking there’s a bunch of cookie cutters, or tools that maybe you would only use once a year. Somehow, they stay in your cabinet, or your drawers, all year long. I always tell myself, “Protect the every day. Take those cookie cutters and put them with the Christmas decorations. Make sure that you are leaving enough space for the every day, not the special occasion.” Special occasion is great, but protect the every day.
Bjork Ostrom: You’d be proud of me. Lindsey gave me a hard time. This was a couple of weeks ago. She said, “I feel like everything in your life is in someway, generally organized.” Everything is a little bit chaotic, in some sense. When I look at the two drawers you have, your bathroom drawers, it was like one of those junk drawers in your strange relatives house and you go and you’re like, “Stuff has been in here for 15 years.”
Bjork Ostrom: I just ordered these little dividers, but how I decided it was, what I realized was I have my everyday stuff, toothpaste, tooth brush, deodorant if I’m living my best life, so I put that stuff on the top. Then I had the weekly things that I would need once a week. I put everything else off to the side in a space that I don’t use that much, don’t have access to as easily. It’s the monthly things.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s the idea of protecting the everyday, is saying, “What are the things you need and use every day?” Those that you don’t need, get rid of those things.
Melissa Coleman: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: Or not get rid of them, put them in a place, like crawlspace in the attic, or something like that, where they’re out of sight, out of mind, but you still have access to them when the time comes around to need them.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of like a user interface, or what do you call it, UX? IU?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. User experience and user interface, UX, UI.
Melissa Coleman: Yes. We’re, as designers and web designers, that’s what we’re doing with a website. We are protecting the every day. We are putting things at the bottom, like your contact, or your about, or your site index, at the very bottom of your site, but bringing the things that matter up to the top. That’s what I use to design websites.
Melissa Coleman: My background, again, is in design. I try to use that same kind of thinking, like to build really good user interface, we design into our non-digital, technical life.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What did that look like as you were thinking? Because we’re talking now about tangible things, the design of a website, minimalist kitchen. It sounds like you had this connection of taking some of these things, and applying them to your life, which is more abstract. I feel like minimalism, you can say, “Okay, I have these Christmas lights and it’s August. They shouldn’t be in my closet that I go into every day. I should put them in the basement or the garage.”
Bjork Ostrom: What is the equivalent of that that you started to realize in your life? How were you starting to protect the every day is it related to your work?
Melissa Coleman: Yep, to my work. I love many tools. Next to minimalism, I like a tool called Work Backwards, that I think I learned in 7th grade math.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, for sure.
Melissa Coleman: It’s a common thing that we’re doing all the time, we’re just not talking about it or defining it. It’s what every designer does. It’s what every engineer does. They don’t think about this beautiful thing they want to build, they start with the problem.
Melissa Coleman: They work backwards and define all the different problems that are going on. Then they design their solution around those problems. Then a really good designer, if they’re into beautifying, will also make it beautiful. That’s form and function, you want those two things to go together.
Melissa Coleman: I started with the problems, and they were many in my work life. One of them, I work for myself, so that was, at the time I worked by myself, kind of with Kevin, too. We laugh about that now. Kevin quit The Faux Martha in January, which also-
Bjork Ostrom: He put in his two week, right, the letter of-
Melissa Coleman: He put in his two hours.
Bjork Ostrom: As a heads up, after dinner, I will officially be retiring.
Melissa Coleman: Basically, it was kind of like an ongoing, lingering conversation of, “This isn’t working,” and many other different words. It finally hit him in January, which just to do the timeline. January, he said that, “I was already considering wanting to walk away from this thing that had grown too big.” My book launched in April.
Melissa Coleman: I don’t remember when I … I’m looking back at this post. It was a long year. It was a long year of kind of figuring out that all of those were pieces into that puzzle. I had to look at lot of the problems. Working for myself, I had to look really, really hard at myself. I was the only one. I couldn’t blame it on anyone else. I couldn’t look around at Kevin, saying, “Oh, he wasn’t doing this or that.” It was all on me.
Melissa Coleman: I learned a lot of things about myself this year. I think they’re really good things. If you’re like me, hopefully you can find some meaning from this. I am a type B person. I love to live in creative ideas. I love to live up high. Bringing things down low is a little bit tougher for me, which you might not think so, because I have a blog and I press publish at least once a week. That’s a characteristic of me.
Melissa Coleman: What were you going to say?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and for those that are, I think most people understand the type A, type B, but I think it’s worth diving into that a little bit. I think type B, creative, and designer, artistic, that’s what we think of type B. I think the important thing to point out is that so often when you are somebody who is …
Bjork Ostrom: I would assume that the more you get into the world of blogging, or online business, or whatever category you want to put it in, you start to think that in order to get traction, or in order to grow, you’d kind of assume that everybody that is self-employed has to be this type A of everything is super scheduled out, and I know my content calendar for the year. Almost like that is the driving force, is this type A ness, and this drive to move the engine forward, or to hustle, and that category of entrepreneur.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s important to separate those two things out and say that’s a common thing. I think a lot of people think they need to be that. For you, realizing, “That’s not who I am, and it doesn’t feel good to try and bend toward that.”
Melissa Coleman: Yes. I was trying to bend towards that, for years. I would talk with a lot of friends and peers. At the time I didn’t realize, they’re type A and I’m type B. I just realized they were successful and I was trying to catch up in some areas. I spent years trying to get those muscles that they had. In the process of getting those type A muscles, I was not exercising my best muscle, my biggest asset, which was my creativity, my making.
Melissa Coleman: My best asset was atrophying, it was shrinking. It was losing strength. Even though I was acquiring some of these type A skills, I mean like some very minimal, I was entirely inefficient at those things. Then this problem, as I was trying to identify the problems internally, here in my work life, they got even bigger, because I wasn’t being as creative and I wasn’t good at the type A things I needed to be good at. When I thought of all those things, I thought, “It’s just time to hang up. I can’t do all of these things.”
Melissa Coleman: There’s this idea floating around now, and maybe always, especially for women, that you can have it all. You can have it all, now. You can, as long as you don’t like to sleep and you can carry a bunch at one time. There are consequences to having it all, and that’s one of the things that I learned this year. If I want to have it all, I’m not going to be good at the thing I’m really good at, and that’s not great.
Bjork Ostrom: Having it all means having a good relationship, working out, building your business, spending time with your kids or family, meditating every day, continually reading. Like all of the things people talk about, as being these complete person things. It’s like, you can do that but then you’re going to sleep four hours a night. There are consequences to trying to do it all, so then intentionally having to say, “No, I’m not going to be this,” and allowing the thing that you want to be to be the full thing.
Bjork Ostrom: Before we get too far away from it, it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about, as it relates to the work that I do. Is, are the things that I’m spending time doing, the things that I want to be the best in the world at, and the things that I love to do? If not, there’s probably a little bit of built-in inefficiency. If I’m spending time doing something that I’m not wanting to be the best in the world at, then there’s some sort of resistance. Like if you think of an engine and then you introduce some sort of resistance to it, the car’s not going to go as fast. That’s as good as a car analogy as I can use, because I don’t know any of the components of an engine, despite attending Monster Jam.
Melissa Coleman: Despite.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. But that’s kind of what I hear you saying is realizing, “There’s this area that I’m passionate about, that I’m good at, that I know I want to be improving at. I’m also doing these things I feel like are essential, but I don’t want to be the best in the world at them.” Believe it or not, there are people in the world who love reviewing and revising contracts. That’s just something they, they’re detailed oriented people, they love doing that. It seems so foreign to somebody like you or to me that that wouldn’t seem awesome.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: In making this realization and coming to this point where you’re like, “Hey, actually I’m starting to get some clarity around this. Maybe I want to continue doing this, as long as it looks a certain way.” Then what? Like you have this realization, how do you manifest that into …
Bjork Ostrom: So you pivot and you look a different direction. What does it look like, once you’ve made that pivot, to start walking forward? What are the first steps you take in order to start walking on that new path?
Melissa Coleman: I realized that my asset is also my biggest deficit. In order for me to preserve my asset, I need to hire out my deficit. I didn’t think I could afford to hire out, but when I looked at how I want to run my business, I want to keep it small. I want to make just enough money. I want to do what I love, because it feeds more than just my bills. It feeds a part of my gut. I want to stay. If I want to stay, I need to figure out how to hire someone, and make just enough money, and do what I love.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think that piece that you talked about, Lindsey and I talk about different types of income. On a podcast like this, it can tend towards, because people love hearing about metrics and growth as it relates to traffic and social media and money. There’s also really important types of income that aren’t financial or aren’t growth metrics. You hit on one of those, which is what is the emotional income that you get from this? That pays dividends. That’s a really valuable thing to have in life in general. It sounds like for you, it was a dual consideration.
Bjork Ostrom: There was a post on Food Blogger Pro forum, recently, where somebody said, “Hey, at what point do you hire, in your business? What point does it financially make sense?” I think one of the interesting considerations, most people, myself included, would say from a numbers perspective.
Bjork Ostrom: It looks like you are also saying, “Looking at the entire pie chart of life, there’s a business decision with this, but also the emotional income. There’s the ability to do the thing that I love more, and that factors into it, as well.” You’re kind of like, “Hey, the first step I want to go is hiring somebody.”
Bjork Ostrom: But the dilemma is, the process of going through the hiring process is kind of a type A. You have to go through all of these things that would be type A things, like this agreement, and this checklist to get people onboard. What was that like for you? Also, how do you find somebody who has skills that you personally wouldn’t consider to be … Like, how do you know if they’re good at contract review, or things like that? What was it like for you to go through that process of finding somebody to work with?
Melissa Coleman: That process was really scary. I need to keep myself on track. I learned a whole lot about myself, and even who I want to be, even through that process. When I decided I wanted to hire, it wasn’t like I had arrived at a bunch of knowledge about myself. I was still in process.
Melissa Coleman: I phoned a friend, first. Her name was Lindsey Ostrom. I recommend finding a friend with different assets with you, with a different skillset than you. I talked through it with her. I also knew that I wanted to work with someone very different than me. In order to do that, I described who I am, because I wanted people to know exactly who they were going to be working for. No surprises.
Bjork Ostrom: Which I think is so great. Yep.
Melissa Coleman: Even that process, of describing who I am, helped me to say, “This is who I am. I’m not going to be someone different. I’ve tried to be someone different, it didn’t work. This is just all I can be. That is good, and enough, too.”
Melissa Coleman: I described myself well, and then I think I described who I was looking for. I was just so elementary about it, I think. I said, “I want a type A person who is energized by email.” I don’t even remember all of the things I said. All the things that I am not.
Bjork Ostrom: I pulled it up here, the post is really great. It’s called, “Job Opening: Left Brain.” You say, “Organizational freak, inbox zero, type A, strategic minded, detail oriented, web extraordinaire. Written and spoken communication, well written. Self motivated.” All of these things, you kind of say. First you talk about who you are, especially in the post that you posted before, Called the Horse Named Hustle. Then saying, “Okay, here’s what I’m looking for to bring somebody onto my team.”
Bjork Ostrom: I think, before we get too far away from it, anytime that we come up against something that is intimidating, which often happens when you are building something, and being creative, and putting something into the world, the great thing is that somebody else has probably already done it. I think that’s important to point out. And probably somebody that you know, or somebody that you know knows.
Bjork Ostrom: For people listening to this podcast, if you are coming up against that, whether it’s working with somebody in some capacity, or maybe it’s publishing your first post. Find somebody who has done it before that can speak into. So often, people are willing to help, and what a difference that makes. Even just for somebody to say, “Oh, you can do this. It’s not as bad as it seems.”
Melissa Coleman: Right. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: I went through this process, and we don’t have to go into the nitty gritty details of what that looked like. People can check out these posts, if you have. In general, I think people would be curious. What was the outline of the steps that you took to find somebody? Within that, what were the things that were either harder or easier than you thought they would be?
Melissa Coleman: I approached the application process as I would a design project. When I frame things in a way that my brain actually ticks, I’m able to do them fairly well. I knew there was some objectives that I wanted to find in this application process from people, but I didn’t want to make it super overt. I worked backwards, and I buried some questions, some processes, that would give me my answer without asking directly. I’m trying to think. I should pull those up.
Melissa Coleman: I don’t even remember, exactly, exactly what I did. I had people demonstrate a lot, too. I didn’t want them to tell me how good they were. I wanted them to demonstrate their skillset. It’s funny, even in that process, some people were telling me that they were one way, but demonstrating that they were another way, which is so true, I feel like, of my process, of who I am.
Melissa Coleman: I was telling people, “Oh, I think I’m this way,” but I was demonstrating something different. It took the repetition of that for me to realize who I was. I saw that play out in the application process.
Melissa Coleman: Mine was long, too, to kind of narrow people down. When it got a little bit closer … Not even closer. In every step of the way, I maybe broke the rules and the codes of whatever business stuff you’re supposed to do. I was just really open and honest, maybe to a detriment. I haven’t felt the detriment, yet.
Melissa Coleman: I was honest even when I sat down and did in-person interviews. I said, “Now, I’m not the person that would traditionally do these interviews. I’m a type B, creative. This is going to feel a little bit clunky, but it’s me. Like, I mean there’s no one else.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yes. I’m not trying to be somebody else. That concept right there is going to be so valuable for so many people that are listening to this. I think there are a lot of people, myself included, multiple times, but I’m continually trying to remind myself this, you can be a version of success, whatever that looks like, by being 100% fully yourself. As opposed to seeing what you see somebody else doing, and trying to be that.
Bjork Ostrom: I love that about you talking about this process, is saying, “I’m not going to try and think about how do you be a good interview in a job application process. I’m going to think about being as intentional as I can to have this be a good thing, while also being 100% myself, and being 100% comfortable with that.” What a valuable thing that is. I love that.
Melissa Coleman: Yeah. To jump ahead, I hired someone. I ask her every so often, just to have these check-ins, “How is everything going? How are you feeling about working with me? How are you feeling about your responsibilities?”
Melissa Coleman: The one thing she said a couple times is that, “I knew exactly what you expected of me, because you were so open and honest about it, that it’s gone really smoothly. It’s been as you said.” I think that’s just a good testament, that even if the masses do it another way, that doing it your way, that being really honest and open, it’s just as … I mean, we tell our kids to do it. It works as an adult in this setting as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes.
Melissa Coleman: One other thing, I just keep relating up everything to raising my daughter. I feel like we’re living parallel lives. I’m like, “You’re a child, I’m an adult. We are the same thing.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Melissa Coleman: We talk a lot about differences, in herself, from her friends. We’ve talked a lot, and it’s something I repeat. I’m going to be one of those moms, she goes, “My mom always said,” but I tell her and she can now recite it, “Our difference aren’t bad. They’re just different.” Now we’ve kind of tacked on, and this is kind of demonstrating an evolution of my process, is, “Difference aren’t bad, they’re just different. Differences are actually good, they’re an asset. When we combined our difference together, then it’s a really positive thing.”
Melissa Coleman: I’ve felt that in the business world. I am a type B in a type A industry. Almost every industry is type A. Type A people are the best people, because they keep things moving. You need momentum in a business. It did take a long time for me to really feel like and advocate, and I think that’s a really important word, to not only feel that I am enough, but also to advocate that, “This is my skillset and it’s really valuable. So is yours, and it’s different. Different isn’t bad. Different is good, and different is an asset.”
Bjork Ostrom: In having this realization, and in starting to claim the work that you were meant to do and that you want to do, in shifting that a little bit and saying, “Hey, somebody else is going to be really good at this certain set of job requirements and skills, I’m going to be really good at this,” knowing that you’ve started to do that a little bit, what has that transition been like? What do you feel like what it’s like now that you … This is recording of December, maybe coming to the end of the year of the pivot? Or did it start at the beginning of the year?
Melissa Coleman: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: What is it like to be not starting the journey, but either on it, or maybe even down toward the end of this specific path that you’re walking?
Melissa Coleman: Yeah. I’m probably going to get teary, just to warn you, at this part.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s okay.
Melissa Coleman: The year of the pivot has passed. It’s interesting that what you put out there, you can put out intentions, and a lot of times, they will answer themselves. That’s kind of what’s happened this year. I gave myself a year. I settled into the discomfort, into the gray spaces, and I played, and I listened. I’m repeating myself, but it worked. I feel like I’ve come around.
Melissa Coleman: I don’t know, necessarily, what my word is for next year. I do feel like the year of the pivot is coming to an end. This is the part where I’m going to get teary. I am really proud of what I’ve done this year. I’m getting teary, because I haven’t felt really proud about what I’ve done in a long time. I think part of that has been the discovery process of me realizing that it’s okay for me to be a type B person, and to find my place, and to advocate for my place.
Melissa Coleman: I feel so proud about that. I feel proud of what I built. I’m proud of the blogs. I’m even proud to be called The Faux Martha. I always felt that it was just the goofiest name that I chose 10 years ago. Even that, I’ve settled into that name. That name has meaning, and it has value. It has value to me.
Melissa Coleman: I think this year, maybe, I’m talking off the cuff, is that The Faux Martha has been a personal project for the past 10 years, even writing my cookbook, The Minimalist Kitchen, that, too has been a personal project. Dinner time kind of broke for me when I had my daughter. I couldn’t figure out how to produce food, how to put food on the dinner table. I came up with 100 recipes and fixed my kitchen in order to get dinner on the table, to preserve this ancient tradition of gathering around the dinner table.
Melissa Coleman: These personal projects, I think, are now turning a little bit, for me. I feel sturdy. Funny, I used the word windy, probably a year ago, talking about, there was this bag in our backyard and our neighbors backyard, like a plastic Target bag. It was blowing around one day and I was like, “It’s an owl. No, it’s a fox. It’s a white fox. It’s this, it’s that.” In that process, I realized, “That’s me. I am this bag, hanging on a leftover branch from summer.”
Bjork Ostrom: Wait a minute, it’s me.
Melissa Coleman: There I am. I was just blowing about because I wasn’t secure in who I was, and who I was as a type B person, because at that point, I was still trying to do all the things my type A friends were doing so well. I was blowing, and blowing, and blowing. Somebody could have said something different to me the next week, and I was blown that way. I feel really sturdy now.
Melissa Coleman: I wouldn’t find meaning in that blowing bag in the back yard, like I did, a year, year and a half ago. I want to add that value, maybe like a culmination of a lot of the things that I have learned, and give that value back to people. I don’t know what that’s going to look like, necessarily, next year.
Melissa Coleman: There is something cool we’re launching called the Minimalist Kitchen Course. It’s actually a free resource in pairing down your kitchen. It’s the book. The book is the textbook, but it takes it a step further. I love beautiful things, as a designer. I want more than anything, beyond beauty, beyond Pinterest and Instagram, and a really beautiful feed, is I want life to feel doable for people.
Melissa Coleman: Adulting, like we’ve talked about again and again, it’s hard, and it’s heavy. It somehow gets heavier every year. I firmly believe that it doesn’t have to be that way. That there are things that we do because everyone around us does. They’re things we don’t have to do.
Melissa Coleman: How do we get back to playing? How do we carve out playing in our work life? In our personal life? In our physical life? Our mental life? How do we do that? I think there’s a way to do that, and I think that’s where I’m headed.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. My response is Monster Jam. That’s the start to all things playing.
Melissa Coleman: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: I think what’s exciting for me to hear you talk about that and your intent of saying, “Okay, this is the year of the pivot. I learned these incredible things.” I feel like this podcast represents a really cool opportunity to do that.
Bjork Ostrom: I know, I know, know, know, there are people that are listening to this, that are going to be so inspired by your story, who have felt like they need to be somebody else. They see other people doing certain things and they feel like, “I need to be that. It feels so out of place for me to be that,” then to realize, “I don’t need to be that. I can be fully myself. I can intentional about doing the things that I’m good at and doing them well. That there’s 100% space for that as well, and how important that is.”
Bjork Ostrom: So honored that you shared your story. As the year of the pivot comes to an end, excited to see what 2019 represents, as you start to think about these really big important things, and even just a few of the things that you talked about that are coming down the line, I’m really excited. For those that want to follow along, where’s the best place to follow along with your story and what you’re up to? Both on a day-to-day level and also some of these projects that you talked about, coming down the line here for 2019?
Melissa Coleman: You can find me at thefauxmartha.com. And then my handles every where are The Faux Martha. I’m on Instagram, quite a lot, which is something I need to figure out next year, too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s a hard thing being a designer. I feel like Instagram is such a great home for designers and artists. Like it just feels like such a cozy and comfortable platform, as opposed to, I don’t know, whatever, Twitter or Facebook or something like that, so that makes sense.
Bjork Ostrom: Thanks for coming on. We’ll be sure in the show notes to link all of the different things that you talked about, books as well as your site, if people want to figure that out and check that out. Melissa, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Really, really appreciate it.
Melissa Coleman: Thank you for having me. It’s so valuable to be able to share my story and share it with you.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome, thanks.
Melissa Coleman: Bye.
Alexa Peduzzi: And that is that, my friend. We hope you enjoyed this episode with Melissa. We hope that you take away some helpful and powerful tips from this episode. Instead of doing our normal reviewer of the week portion of the episode, right now, I just kind of want to give you a second to linger on the lessons from this episode. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others in this industry. There are so many wildly successful and just incredible entrepreneurs in this niche. It’s easy to just want to do what they do to get in their position. But you are not them, and that’s 100% okay. Heck, that’s great.
Alexa Peduzzi: As Melissa said, it’s important to be only you. Don’t try to be someone else. Understand that you’re differences are an asset and that you should be proud of those differences. It’s okay to be who you are, because who you are is pretty darn incredible.
Alexa Peduzzi: Thanks for tuning in, friend. From all of us here at FBP HQ, make it great week.