218 MINISODE Melissa Gonzalez: Collaboration is the New Competition
Melissa Gonzalez, CEO of Lionesque Group, shares the secrets of scale she’s learned since her jump into entrepreneurship from a successful Wall Street career. Melissa is transforming shopping with retail “pop up” experiences that connect brands to consumers in exciting new ways – and she shares how the scaling “marathon” requires strategic collaboration.
Melinda Wittstock: Melissa, welcome to Wings.
Melissa Gonzalez: Oh, thank you, thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m excited to talk to you, and I’m very curious about pop-up businesses and all that you’re doing, and I wanted to kind of kick off by asking you what was really inspiring you right now.
Melissa Gonzalez: Oh, boy. I think at this time in my life my daughter inspires me every day. She just, the inner workings that are turning all the time that I just see come to fruition, and the new ways that she puts things together, and just seeing that development happening on a constant basis inspires me every day.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s wonderful. How old is she?
Melissa Gonzalez: She’s three.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness, that’s so sweet. Mine’s a little older now, she’s 15, and I think she’s learning entrepreneurship by osmosis.
Melissa Gonzalez: I’m sure.
Melinda Wittstock: But as a three year old, oh my goodness, like you’re seeing the world with … It’s all new! So, it helps us, doesn’t it? To see through their eyes.
Melissa Gonzalez: It does. Every day’s like a clean slate, an opportunity, just pure joy and discovery. Yeah, it’s good to be reminded.
Melinda Wittstock: Wow, how lovely. Well, on the entrepreneurial journey, there are always challenges. One of my missions is to de stigmatize the challenge part, ’cause we all go through it, and some of us hide it even when we shouldn’t, where as women, we should be asking for help. What are some of the challenges that you’re going through right now in your business?
Melissa Gonzalez: I mean, I feel like there’s not enough hires.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, yeah.
Melissa Gonzalez: So, it’s a challenge, and how do you carve out time? So that scaling is always a tricky balance. So, I think that we’ve gotten in a better place of knowing how to answer the question, like what makes you different, I think it’s very important to always know what your mote is. But yeah, juggling time, you can’t be everywhere, and prioritizing where it’s best spent, and then utilizing time so that you can make sure that you’re putting efforts in the right place so that you can scale in a profitable way.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s one of the biggest single challenges that all women face. I think sometimes we confuse doing it all-
Melissa Gonzalez: Totally.
Melinda Wittstock: … with having it all. And we don’t necessarily have to do it all to have it all.
Melissa Gonzalez: I think it’s relative, everybody’s definition is the same, and I think that remembering that is one of the trickiest things. No two people are created equal, what works for you is not necessarily what works for me, what creates your happiness isn’t necessarily what creates mine. I think in today’s age of social media, where we’re all looking at each other’s feeds, and you’re seeing each others highlight reels, it’s so easy to be seduced by, oh, they’re doing that and I’m not, but really it doesn’t matter, if that’s not what’s right for you.
So, you don’t have to be everywhere, and FOMO is this trap that you have to be careful of. And so if you kind of like release yourself from that, and free yourself from that, I think that it’s empowering.
Melinda Wittstock: It really is. So you made a big transition from Wall Street to being an entrepreneur. I’m curious what your top three go to pieces of advice are for women in business, particularly those who’ve made the transition. What are the three things that perhaps you wish you’d known at the start, and you believe are kind of game changing pieces of advice for women coming up?
Melissa Gonzalez: Yeah. I would say take it in stride, like it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Melissa Gonzalez: And I think … It’s always easy to say that, but when you’re in the moment of it, especially in the beginning, you’re just a million miles a minute, and you lose sight of some of the longer term milestones that are, and the bigger picture of thing’s more important, and so making sure that you have that balance. ‘Cause when it is a start-up and you’re entrepreneurial, you do have to be nimble, and you have to make decisions fast, and you do have to kind of run, but you also have to remember, okay, what does this mean in six months, or in 12 months, or in two years, or five years from now.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, gosh, yes. That’s so important. And I think as entrepreneurs, though, we have this little impatient gene.
Melissa Gonzalez: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: Maybe I’m speaking personally; I know that’s true of me. And I think I can do more, and I want better, faster, you know, right? But keeping it in perspective that it is a long game is such good advice. Anything else come to mind?
Melissa Gonzalez: I mean, people say this, but I think it’s true: collaboration is the new competition. I come from working on a trading desk when I worked on Wall Street, and it was a very collaborative environment. I think that, not to be stereotypical, but many times … I think it’s newer that women have become more that way, and that kind of team, collaborative, working environment. But it is empowering if you do it, and so creating those right networks, and collaborating people who are complimentary to what you do, and being able to scale through collaboration is very effective, so making sure that you’re taking the time to develop those relationships is really important for growth.
Melinda Wittstock: Beautiful.
Melinda Wittstock: So, Melissa, how can people find you, and work with you, or just learn about what you’re doing in your business, learn more?
Melissa Gonzalez: Yeah. So, on socials it’s Mel’s Styles, melsstyles, or Lionesque Group. So on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Instagram, that’s a pretty effective way, or you can go to our website, lionesquegroup.com.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Thank you so much for putting on our wings and flying with us today.
Melissa Gonzalez: Thank you.