Helping Others Be Their Best Selves Starting With Mindset
Melissa Monte started her career in digital media and was the Vice President of a startup when she fully realized her passion of helping people become their best selves. Her countless hours of research and self-experimentation contribute to her vast knowledge of improving the human condition.
Melissa is the host of the very popular podcast titled “Mind Love”. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband; they have a dog named Maverick Danger that fills their hearts and she spends her free time doing yoga, slacklining, and drinking matcha lattes by the beach.
Introduction: 00:09 Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls movement. Enjoy today’s show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb: 00:18 Welcome to Plaid Radio. I’m your host, Sarah Webb, and I’m with today’s guest, Melissa Monte. Melissa started her career in digital media and was a Vice President of a startup when she fully realized her passion of helping others become their best selves. She spent countless hours of research and self experimentation to contribute to her vast knowledge of improving the human condition. Melissa is the host of the very popular Mind Love Podcast, which I do love. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband. They have a dog named Maverick Danger, so I’ll have to talk about Maverick, who obviously fills their time and hearts. She loves yoga, shellacking and drinking lattes by the beach. Welcome to the show, Melissa.
Melissa Monte: 00:57 Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.
Sarah Webb: 00:59 Well, you are considered one of today’s most influential explorers of mindset and positive energy. Can you tell us a little bit about this and how you even got into exploring around this?
Melissa Monte: 01:10 You know, I’ve always been a seeker my entire life. I remember my parents being a part of a book club when I was eight years old and some of the first books I was reading was even Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The Five Love Languages and even like Who Moved My Cheese, which is a sales book that I read. I think when I was 11. I’ve always loved learning, but when I was a teenager to my early twenties, I was hit with a few traumas back to back that just really affected my whole outlook on life. Before that, nothing bad had ever really happened to me, so I was not prepared to deal with my father dying or a few other things and so I tried to ignore it and just be above it. Some of the things I had learned, I thought that that’s what I could do and just focus on the positivity, which has been a theme through my life, but because I never addressed it. It started to manifest itself in different ways such as an eating disorder and just spiraling and partying and drinking too much and hanging out with the wrong people. And so then I was reintroduced to… somebody gave me the book, The Power by Rhonda Byrne and also a book called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz, and both of those books just opened my eyes again to something that I’d already kind of known, but I needed to remind myself, and so that was the start of an upward journey again, and I became hooked. Just reading as much as I could and exploring different philosophies on life and how to take control of your life and your future and your happiness. And so since then it’s still my number one passion and now I started a Podcast so I can share all of these things that I’m so excited to learn that I’m always telling my friends and family about and just kind of package each episode with a theme. Something that’s really positively affected my life. So that’s what I’m doing now.
Sarah Webb: 03:19 Why do you think it’s so important to have this positive mindset? What have you learned through kind of all this research?
Melissa Monte: 03:24 Everything comes back to the mindset. You have to really believe that you’re in control of your own ability and that you can learn. And improve and just have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. So I realized that whether I was reading a book on spirituality or how to succeed in business or… really a lot of the common denominators from successful people started with the mindset. That’s why people talk about doing a power pose to feel more powerful when you go into a meeting or doing affirmations because eventually you might not really… It might sound fake while you’re doing it and might feel cheesy or whatever, but you’re making little dents in your mindset and it’s the same as if you don’t take that control. If you don’t consciously choose the positive mindset. I think it’s the human condition to kind of spiral in a negative direction or just take life as it comes. And so one of the big steps in changing my mindset was this little exercise where I had to write down my limiting beliefs. And in doing that, you kind of know the ones that are themes throughout your life. Where “Oh, well, yeah, I’ve always thought I was bad at this,” or “I never thought I was a good reader” or something along those lines, but when you start to do this exercise, I was carrying a notebook around and writing them as they came and I started to realize how many little subconscious patterns I wasn’t even acknowledging and so I even went back and would cross those out and change the narrative instead of, “Oh, I’m too ADD to accomplish anything,” or “I’m going to end up like my dad in this way.” I’d cross that out and say, “No, I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.” And something about that then it started to stop the negative spirals in their tracks, so that was a huge step, but it was just the beginning. It constantly takes work. It’s something I always have to think about, but I do believe that everything comes back to the mindset.
Sarah Webb: 05:24 I agree with you and I wouldn’t have ever called what I’m doing mindset, but it totally is. So when you have children, I have two children, six and eight. You want what’s absolutely best for your children. You want them to have the best experiences, you want them to believe in themselves. You want them to know that they can do anything, especially at an early age so that they explore and you know, have the most opportunity. And what we do as parents is we have this mindset and we’re very intentional with our children. We would, and this parents in general. I mean, I don’t know, I mean, there’s some crappy parents out there, but generally we tell our kids, you can do this, let’s try harder. Keep trying. You’re the best, you know, all these positive affirmations and we’re feeding them to our children. Right? And we’re like you said, we’re making dents in the brain and we’re making pathways of positive affirmations. Why aren’t we doing that for ourselves? Like, why am I not feeding myself the same thing I’m feeding my children, you know? And of course we’re older. We have these experiences that shape us, you know, there’s lots of, you know, crap in between being age six and 36. So there’s 30 years of crap to deal with. But like you said, like that positive mindset. Like we’re constantly and my husband and I, you know, and even our community, like you can do this, try harder, you know, all these things that we tell children, like why aren’t we feeding those things to ourselves? So I think it’s definitely important to recapture that. You would never tell someone you’re too ADD to do that. You would never tell, you know, you’re too, whatever. You would never say that to a child. So why would you say it to yourself?
Melissa Monte: 06:58 One of the tricks I learned was even to when you are talking to yourself and when you are even just about your next goal, it can be difficult to maintain that, that not just enthusiasm but your belief in yourself. And so they say to pretend like you’re talking to your child or your best friend. Talk to yourself that way. And so it’s a really good little trick to realize when you are talking to yourself. Wait, is this something I would say because sometimes I think we don’t even realize how hard we’re being on ourselves.
Sarah Webb: 07:28 Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things on your podcast as you share your own story and you ask your guests to share their story, why do you feel that’s so important of sharing these stories with one another?
Melissa Monte: 07:40 You know, I don’t necessarily tell my guests to share their stories, but I am leading by example because listening to other people’s stories really helped me. I had an eating disorder for a long time and it was my biggest secret and that was even while I’ve always been an oversharer, I’ve always been the one to just come out and say, “yeah, this is what I’m doing” and people are wondering why is she saying that in a public place? And I just kind of owned it. I walked in confidently in that way, but it was different when it came to that. And so when I got through my healing, you can actually see it very much in the #MeToo movement because now all of a sudden by hearing other people’s stories and seeing the strength of other women coming forward, other people feel not just empowered to share their story, but empowered to take control in different areas where they may have felt helpless. And so that’s really my goal and it might not be on everybody’s paths to share their stories. Some people are much more introverted than I am, but at the very least I can do my part and I can shine my strength of being able to open up about some of these difficult matters and maybe other people that don’t feel comfortable doing that, they can help out or they can do their part and another way. But for me, I do feel like it is part of my journey to be open and to inspire others because I’ve gone through some things other people haven’t but that a lot of people have. So I just want to open up and say that this is OK and this is the human experience and we’re all just doing the best that we could with what we knew at the time. And that’s OK. We’re all in it together.
Sarah Webb: 09:21 Absolutely. What were some of the things that helped you overcome your eating disorder?
Melissa Monte: 09:26 You know, it was really difficult and when I look back it was a bunch of things and I could see it was the worst when my life was the worst or when I wasn’t putting focus on the future. Even when I thought I was happy and having a lot of fun and going out and making good money at my job, but then partying hard on the weekends. There wasn’t a lot of substance there. And so there are a couple of things that really helped me pivot. Number one, was finding something to look forward to. Finding some visioning, a future for myself and really getting a clear picture of what I wanted for my life. Because if you’re not looking towards the future, then you don’t see the consequences as deeply about what you’re doing and how it can shorten my life, lead to stomach or esophageal cancer or something like that. So the first step was really building a future. Another step that went hand in hand with that was building up my self worth because of a few other things, I didn’t realize that I was putting off the healing process from a couple of different things. And I think that’s what manifested the eating disorder because I was always a confident kid. I was never even overweight. It creeped up so slowly on me and within months it took over my life. And so I did a lot of work to just, you know, read on how to build up myself worth doing all those cheesy little things like looking in the mirror and forcing myself to stand naked in front of the mirror and love my body even when I thought I needed to lose five pounds. So those things really, really worked. And because I did those things, I attracted my husband into my life, which I feel like really just sealed in my healing before that I was a little bit nervous to even share my story because I was nervous that I might fall back into it and my mom had found out about my eating disorder because she’s a mom and they’re very intuitive and it was about two years in and she was the only person that knew for almost the whole time. And so I hated the way that felt though, knowing she was looking at me even when I thought I was doing better with it and she was watching me go to the bathroom when that’s not what I was doing. I was really terrified that if I opened up and I fell back into it and couldn’t get control, that that’s what my life would be. And that’s what my relationships would be. So I think sharing my story has also been a really huge step of accountability. So self worth building a future, building up my happiness and then just having that level of accountability were my four steps.
Sarah Webb: 12:00 Well it sounds like you have some special people in your life who really care about you?
Melissa Monte: 12:05 Yes, thankfully. It took me a while to see that, but now I do.
Sarah Webb: 12:08 Well sometimes we have blinders on and it’s getting past ourselves. When you talked a little bit about being an oversharer, do you find that men share their experiences more easily than women do or you know, do you think as a woman like you were worried about being judged in a certain space of sharing what you’d overcome?
Melissa Monte: 13:23 I think this totally depends on the person and the topic. In general. I do feel like it’s more acceptable for women to show emotion or it has been in the past. I think times are changing pretty rapidly now where people are realizing there’s even campaigns going around about how negative it is to say, “Oh, be a man” or whatever those things might be. So I think that there’s going to be a positive change there, but I think in the past women have been more open to touching on an emotional subject, are baring their souls a little bit. But on the other hand there’s been a fear in certain areas such as the #MeToo movement where women are afraid of speaking out to risk their reputation or speaking out against someone in power. That’s changing also. But for my case, the eating disorder thing, there’s still a huge stigma around eating disorders or any mental health issue. So that’s one of the big reasons that it was… It felt like a huge weight off my shoulders when I started to open up about that and part of it was because I started to receive so much feedback. The very first time I told anybody about my eating disorder, she opened up right back and it was almost like her face went white and she said, “it’s so weird that you are telling me this right now.” And she admitted that she had been binging and purging the last month and it started out as some small thing. And then she’s like, “I don’t even know, like I’ve done it more than I thought I would do and now you’re telling me this” and so I’m hoping in that case it was kind of, I was something sent from the universe for her, but I think that just depends on the circumstance, but there’s a lot of judgment around. But I do believe that you can never say the wrong thing to the right person.
Sarah Webb: 14:18 So in helping a friend kind of, you know, recognize your weaknesses and sharing that, you know, I think we have through social media and all these other different things, we think everybody’s life is perfect and were the only ones that have problems. So that’s great that being able to share it. You actually opened up and started having a conversation with someone so that they didn’t have to be in the same situation you were, you know, two years later. What about like when you think about positive mindset and you’ve gone, you’ve kind of been exposed to it for your whole life, right? You talked about how your parents, you know, had these books you were practicing. What if someone wanted to say, you know, I’m just going to change and I want to have a positive mindset. I want to be more positive and have a different outlook on life. What would you say? Like, what’s an easy thing to start? Would you start with like affirmations daily or you know, how can someone easily begin to reshape their mindset?
Melissa Monte: 15:11 I would start with gratitude. When you start really acknowledging all of the things around you that you’re grateful for, it really starts to change your outlook on life. So a big part of my routine now is I keep a gratitude journal where I write morning and night. And what happens when you keep a gratitude journal is that, you know, there are some days where you’re like, I don’t even know what I’m thankful for today. And especially after keeping a gratitude journal for months, like, what do I write oh my car, my hair, you know, things. But then you start to get creative and throughout your day you start looking for those things that you’re thankful for. And I think it does just put on… It’s like putting on rose colored glasses and just seeing the world through a different lens. That’s a big thing. The other thing is that I mentioned before that I do think is a critical step is to notice everything and that includes any self limiting beliefs that you have but really like just feel because when you… Most of the time when we’re unhappy, we’re either regretting the past or worrying about the future and so if you can just bring yourself to this moment and realize in this moment everything’s fine. Even if things there’s something going on like some death of a parent or something like that. Yes, it hurts, but in this moment you are fine. You can come back to this peaceful place. You can put that out of your mind just for a second. You can focus on something happy. So I think those are some big steps, but I also am a firm believer in educating yourself because those books were around when I was a child, but it’s not like it was often talked about. I had a great mom and so I know that she lifted me up my whole life and I’m so thankful for that, but my parents were very much like had the regular type of jobs and they just worked hard and they just wanted to provide for their family. It was pretty standard, so it was another leap when I went into the entrepreneurial world and I’m like, I’m about to try to accomplish all of these things. That isn’t the regular. It isn’t just like, oh, become a fireman or become a police officer, you know, and so it takes an extra mindset shift. But I think when you start to notice these little changes in yourself from these baby steps where everything does matter, these little steps, you’ll start to see little changes and that can be addicting in a good way. Where it’s fun for me. I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish next, or I still have a lot of work to do on my own mindset. There’s a lot of things in my life that aren’t perfect, but the more I focus and the more I’m focusing on these little things I want to accomplish, I’m seeing all of those negative things less and less. So it’s baby steps.
Sarah Webb: 17:58 Absolutely. Well, you talked about being an entrepreneur and you do seem pretty fearless. You know, freefall skydiver, shellacking. I’m not even sure I know what shellacking is. It makes me like…
Melissa Monte: 17:58 Slacklining
Sarah Webb: 17:58 Slack writing!
Melissa Monte: 17:58 Slacklining.
Sarah Webb: 18:11 Don’t even know what that is. I was thinking you were like, I’m from fixer upper and you were a home organizer?
Melissa Monte: 18:17 No, it’s like tightrope walking.
Sarah Webb: 18:19 How did you even get into that?
Melissa Monte: 18:21 I live in Santa Monica and muscle beach is about a mile away and it’s the most inspiring place to go to. My husband does all of his workouts down there. He was on American Ninja Warrior Season Seven and there’s a lot of the Ninja Warriors that are down there and they’re like doing the flag football and things like that. So sometimes when I just want a mood boost, I go and just watch how amazing humans are. But slack lining is a big part of it and on one of the sides there’s all these polls coming up from the sand because it’s really easy to do over the sand because if you fall there’s not really much consequence. And so yeah, I’m still learning. I can walk easily across and back and forth and do some little things. But there are people that are bouncing and doing flips and landing back on it. It’s pretty wild.
Sarah Webb: 19:08 So you’re haven’t like graduated yourself to like between two buildings or anything like that yet?
Melissa Monte: 19:13 No, not quite yet. But I would try it if I was strapped.
Sarah Webb: 19:18 Yeah. You want that safety net. How have your life experiences shaped you to be more fearless? Like what did you even… where do you come up with this… I know where you get your positive mindset, you know, that’s a lot of feeding of yourself, of like, “OK, you know, my brain is working on this,” but I wouldn’t necessarily have thought it would translate into fearlessness and trying these new things. Do you think that’s for everyone or do you think that’s getting to your true spirit?
Melissa Monte: 19:44 I think it’s my true spirit. I’ve been that way since I was a little kid. I remember a time when I was like five and there was a rope swing going into a lake and everyone was terrified and I was the first one to volunteer. Or being on a trip with six girls up to Oregon. We went and did all these, all these fun action type things like four wheeling and we’re jumping off this 30 foot bridge and everyone was terrified and I just jumped to where people thought somebody pushed me because I just jumped without saying anything and I went skydiving for the first time on the morning of my high school graduation. I woke up, it was also Friday the 13th that day, I woke up and I told my mom and she was like, “oh my gosh, please don’t die before you graduate high school. I’ll be so mad at you.” So that’s just kind of been a little… People have called me a firecracker, my whole life. So I just like to experience things and to see what life has to offer. So I remember even when I was younger people saying, “well, if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it?” And my response was always, “I mean, did they make it out alive? Yes, I would do it.”
Sarah Webb: 19:44 You’d actually be like, “no I’m the friend that’s encouraging everyone else to jump.
Melissa Monte: 19:44 Exactly!
Sarah Webb: 21:03 Well at Plaid for Women, we are all about inclusion and creating a judgment free zone. We have a movement titled #NoMeanGirls and it’s all about women first accepting themselves as who they are in their full capacity, but also helping and supporting each other. You know, at times we’ve been catty and I dunno just, we all have the little bit of that, but hopefully we’re outgrowing it. And have you ever experienced mean girl treatment before?
Melissa Monte: 21:30 Oh, of course. The first one I can think of. I remember in elementary school somebody saying I was too hyper. I remember in middle school, which was probably the worst. This one girl decided she didn’t like me and I think it was because I’ve always kind of been a out there, like put myself out there, say whatever. Sometimes translating to the center of attention and she wanted to be and so she turned everybody against me. Not really, but she would have all of the big parties and not invite me and I just actually visited somebody in London that I had known since third grade and we ended up reminiscing about all of this stuff and I guess one time I left shorts at a friend’s house and she burned them, but that was actually a big pivotal moment for me. My self esteem really plummeted at that point and ever since that for a long time I really suffered with FOMO, if you know what that means. It’s fear of missing out. It was a really big theme in my life for like the next decade. So it did impact me a lot, but I think a lot of the self worth things that I… work that I did on myself, now it’s just something I can laugh at. But then when I was even in the corporate world, I feel like sometimes it’s a little difficult being in the corporate world because especially when it’s predominantly male in your company, you want to be lifting each other up and that’s what we should do, but sometimes it almost feels like competition. It’s like, oh well there’s only room for this amount of women here, so I’m going to make sure I’m at the top and I definitely have felt that before. Confiding in somebody and then them running to the CEO or little things like that. But I do think it’s prevalent still, but hopefully it is getting better. The older I get, the less I have to deal with that. I also have made a pretty strong point to focus on who I surround myself with. So, I’ve cut a few people out in the last few years and I just wrote in my gratitude journal yesterday how thankful I am for all of the people in my life now. So hopefully it won’t be something I have to deal with in the future.
Sarah Webb: 23:43 Yeah, it’s definitely… We always go back to that middle school experience first because it does shape you. It’s like we’re just so vulnerable at that age that I mean like, who cares what that girl says, but we did care, you know, it did shape us and like you said, I definitely as I get older I don’t let things impact me as much anymore and I try to be more cognizant to make sure that I’m not being the mean girl, but it still happens, you know. Women still do it even in adulthood in corporations. And I think the mommy wars are almost like the quintessential woman fighting, you know, when you kind of get to that point. So yeah, it’s sad. And so that’s, that’s our whole platform is all about, you know, reaching women and accepting them wherever they are on their journey.
Melissa Monte: 24:26 I love it because that’s another thing where, like you said, we all can do it sometimes, but the first step is acknowledging that it happens so that we can become more aware. Just like with those little self limiting beliefs. It’s like, how are you impacting other people? So acknowledging that it’s amazing.
Sarah Webb: 24:43 Absolutely, this has been a wonderful conversation. It’s been fun learning more about you and how you develop the mindset and how you’re actually impacting… taking your learnings and impacting other people. How can our listeners connect with you or how can they find Mind Love on… to maybe be their second favorite podcast behind Plaid for Women, but we can definitely share the space.
Melissa Monte: 25:06 My podcast is called Mind Love and you can find it at www.mindlove.com or any of your favorite Podcast players including Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and it’s all really just about shifting your mindset to achieve anything. I have always believed that life is like a video game and so you have to just keep leveling up your character and so every episode actually features something that’s positively impacted my life and inspiring interviews with people that are just pushing the boundaries of what we previously thought were possible that have a message that I hope to inspire people with, so…
Sarah Webb: 25:45 We’ll be sure to put that in the show notes. I’ve loved listening to your podcast. I feel like I get to know you more and I love hearing the different stories and it’s definitely a treat, so I would encourage all of our listeners to go subscribe today.
Melissa Monte: 25:56 Thank you so much.
Sarah Webb: 25:58 Well, and that’s a wrap for Plaid Radio. Thanks for joining us.