Emily Mishler Of The Cultivated Group: “Allow yourself to truly dream”

Allow yourself to truly dream. Decide that the life of your dreams is possible for you. Be an example of what’s possible. What you think, you become. See it, embody it, believe it, and become it. Look at what you’re already built with what you’ve come from! Be so proud of the journey and never […]

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Allow yourself to truly dream. Decide that the life of your dreams is possible for you. Be an example of what’s possible. What you think, you become. See it, embody it, believe it, and become it. Look at what you’re already built with what you’ve come from! Be so proud of the journey and never stop becoming. Ever. Keep your head down and continue doing the work. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Tap into everything that lights you up and allow yourself to SOAR as high as you possibly can. Your mind is your only limitation — what you focus on grows, and grows, and grows!


As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Mishler of The Cultivated Group.

Born and raised in the rural Midwest of the United States, Emily Mishler is an intrepid optimist with a keen sense of adventure, eye for design, hand in the start-up world, and heart for philanthropy. She is the driving force behind The Cultivated Group and the world of Esmè the Curious Cat — on a mission to ignite and empower individuals and organizations to: “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Specializing in business development, creative strategic planning, and fundraising, Emily launched her first company at the age of 22 and has since raised and distributed over 20M dollars of private investment for private clients, for-profit entities and NGO’s.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Absolutely! Thanks for having us. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of the Midwest United States. I come from a family of farmers and values like hard work (sometimes to a fault), exploration, diligence, tenacity, and grit were instilled in me from a very young age. Those rural “roots” were a piece of the inspiration behind our companies’ name: The Cultivated Group.

Hindsight tends to be 20/20 and all the dots tend to connect looking backward and that’s certainly a trend amidst my own eclectic career path. While I studied Communication and Design at University, helping others through different opportunities was always a focal point. A series of decisions that I perceived to be big risks (at the time) and chose to jump and lean into, whilst always keeping my eyes and ears open for possibility and opportunity were huge contributing factors as my career and life’s mission has continued to unfold. Doors and opportunities presented themselves, to which I bet on myself and said “yes” (albeit sometimes with a bit of fear!) and based on my passions, experiences, and drive to influence the world for the better — stumbled into corporate philanthropy as a career. In August of 2018, I completed a MBA with a concentration in Philanthropy and shortly thereafter, began a new chapter of life in travelling the world and running my own location-independent, impact-driven companies. The work The Cultivated Group focuses on is all impact-based, which means at the end of the day our goal is to make the world a better place and use businesses and the influence we all have in our day-to-day lives to be the vessels for doing so.

I’ve always had a knack for adventure, an insatiable curiosity, a creative flair, and a heart for helping others — and my career has absolutely been an extension of that. I grew up on a farm in the middle of the rural United States. We lived very modestly and simply — serving others and giving of what we had was ingrained in our family’s “culture” from a very young age.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Entrepreneur-life (or what I like to see it as… living life by design) is chalked full of interesting stories. It’s so funny to reflect upon and really think about what’s transpired since I began the journey. Looking back, it’s fascinating to think about how “perfect” I believed I needed to be in order to move forward on things. It was a belief system that was rooted in a lot of fear and feelings of inferiority, which really caused a lot of stalling and paralysis in my personal and professional life. Sometimes when we try things that we’re not ready for, we fall down and develop a little proverbial bruising and sometimes scar tissue. When it “hurts” to get up as a result of those bruises or scar tissue, we can be afraid of moving forward and trying again. Until we’re aware of it and decide to make different decisions, the things we fear (even if it’s success!) can hold us back from really accomplishing our goals and making our dreams happen. Looking back, the lesson is that our greatest obstacle is ourselves and that we can do anything we put our minds to!

I’ve made more mistakes than I can count and recently made a commitment to myself to never miss twice. The funniest mistakes I’ve made I actually wouldn’t call mistakes at all; they were a reminder of what’s important. In times that I felt like I needed to be “perfect” or felt a lot of pressure to be “professional”, hilarious things have happened to bring levity to the situation: i.e. gracefully tripping down the stairs of a lecture hall full of 350+ people. The biggest things I’ve learned? Despite how we may feel or perceive others, we’re all human. Do your best, be kind, and laugh at the funny stuff — life is short!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Looking back, it’s fascinating to think about how “perfect” I believed I needed to be in order to move forward on things. It was a belief system that was rooted in a lot of fear and feelings of inferiority, which really caused a lot of stalling and paralysis in my personal and professional life. Sometimes when we try things that we’re not ready for, we fall down and develop a little proverbial bruising and sometimes scar tissue. When it “hurts” to get up as a result of those bruises or scar tissue, we can be afraid of moving forward and trying again. Until we’re aware of it and decide to make different decisions, the things we fear (even if it’s success!) can hold us back from really accomplishing our goals and making our dreams happen. Looking back, the lesson is that our greatest obstacle is ourselves and that we can do anything we put our minds to!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father was a huge inspiration and influence in my life. He was someone who taught me and in many ways showed me the profound example of living in the courage of our Truth. He was one of my most significant sources of encouragement and inspiration. I am so grateful I had the time and relationship with him that I did and so unbelievably grateful for the friends, mentors, teachers, and allies that have come into my life along the way.

Mentors in my life have come into my life in the most serendipitous ways and their impact in my life has been beyond words. Their ability to share their knowledge and challenge me to grow into my purpose and potential is one of the things in life I value most. The mentors in my life are those who will kick my ass, cheer me on, and will. not. stop.

Although I am incredibly proud of many things in my life that have transpired professionally, I also know and believe we’re just getting started. Recently I was introduced to the idea and reality of our mortality in the passing of the most significant people in my life. After 18 months of traveling around the world independently, exploring and expanding in every direction possible, building and creating companies — I found myself back “home”, having lost my father, in a place I found familiar now operating as an entirely different person. Two weeks after his passing, the United States’ shut-down in March of 2020 and I found myself surrounded by fear and turbulence, completely physically isolated. I don’t know if any of us “have it all figured out” — but I am looking forward to sharing the tools and resources I discovered and employed throughout this challenging time, in hopes it will inspire and assist someone else through the turbulence of different seasons and chapters of life.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Right now, I’m in the middle of Gina DeVee’s book “Audacity to be Queen”. What’s fascinating about the book is that it’s communicating many of the lessons I’ve been learning over the past 18 months. I’ve heard it said that if you want a crash course in personal development, start a company — and from my experience that couldn’t be more true. The book has resonated incredibly well because the way we do business at The Cultivated Group is a little different than the traditional, masculine, status-quo of process development and forced outcomes: and Gina does an incredible job of communicating an alternative way of doing business for the modern, engaged, and empowered entrepreneur — that just so happens to be ways we have been doing things at The Cultivated Group since our inception. Rather than focusing on the “either/or”, we focus on the “and”; we lean into employing both masculine and feminine energies:

  • Playful and Results-oriented
  • Intuitive and logical
  • Feeling and thinking
  • Being and doing
  • Spontaneous and predictable
  • Dynamic and sturdy

We don’t believe things have to be either/or and we don’t believe that profit has to be at the expense of impact or fulfillment — and vice versa. We believe results come from being rather than doing. We don’t believe that our best lives are lived from being overly responsible and pitifully reasonable, and working all the time.

We believe our lives are meant to be lived, engaged with, and absolutely extraordinary. And through our coaching programs with The Elevated Method; we’re redefining and orienting our relationship to what we believe to be possible, each and every day. We masterfully live in the blend that is the masculine and feminine; empowering the best of both. And we’re anything but ordinary; as our results, clients, lifestyles, and the impact we’re able to have.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

Absolutely! Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “be the change you wish to see in the world” is one that’s provided a lot of inspiration and a discerning lens as the journey of my life has unfolded. In fact, through our companies at The Cultivated Group, we’re redefining the phrase “business as usual”. We believe doing the right thing is always the right move to make and through our clients and our work, we’re activating and empowering the change they wish to see in the world. Our companies and team are on a mission to bridge the gap between the great ideas, access to opportunity, and taking action to change and preserve this beautiful world in which we live — one challenge at a time. Our focus isn’t overnight success: our focus is the consistency of thought and expansion of dreams and resources. This, when applied over time through massive action, creates sustainable systems that influence positive and inclusive change: we empower and equip our clients to become forces for good in this world. We use a combined approach of both services and products to equip our clients with the tools and skills they need and an extra set of hands (in some cases) to be able to make thoughtful choices when building, stewarding, enhancing, growing, and scaling their businesses.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We’re thrilled to be working on projects in a few different industries and sectors that are all impact-based. One project specifically is with a non-profit organization whose mission is to democratize access to outer space through building the infrastructure necessary to support our world’s future and beyond!

Because we believe life happens in the full spectrum and we understand that sometimes founders need the right tools and guidance to activate and ignite their ideas, we recently launched a product offering of download-able business building tools to move the needle in business and life. We’re providing equitable access to business consulting without the hourly fee through a new branch of our companies called The Elevated Method. We’re transforming businesses from the inside-out, creating through purpose with intention: we’re elevating the art of living.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

At the end of the day, I believe we’re in a time in which there are more opportunities for women to start companies than ever before; to follow their dreams and passions, to create lives we’re absolutely on-fire for, and fully expressed through. What’s currently holding us, as women, back from founding companies is our relationship with ourselves.

Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?

With ourselves and clients, we’re leaning into our feminine ability to create, transform, connect, and grow — without hurting ourselves or others. We’re cultivating our ability to clearly hear our intuition and trust it. We’re deepening our relationship with ourselves, our Source, and healing and growing our ability to trust ourselves. For us, it’s all about paying it forward and equipping and empowering others. Our organization is driven and led by the mantra and mission “be the change you wish to see” in the world and empower and inspire others to do the same. Our mission is to connect impactful ideas and opportunities to provide access, action, and ignite equity to change and preserve our world. We don’t believe goodness and success are mutually exclusive, so the metrics we measure to gauge success also include making the world a better place!

At The Cultivated Group, we believe that if your dreams include only you, they’re too small. If that’s the case, you’re going to need more incredible, intentional, aligned, passionate, and purpose-driven people around you and in order to move things forward, effective communication will be critical. Two incredible tools to communicate and align your team are your mission and vision statements. These communicate why your organization exists (mission) and what you will accomplish (vision). As we worked with clients, we recognized that this isn’t as common-practice as we’d hoped and to fill a growing need, we put together a few free resources at The Elevated Method — one of which is a Mission & Vision Statements Guide!

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Our world needs empathy, compassion, and intuition in our executive suites. We need examples of what’s possible with masculine energy and femininen energy — they are meant to coexist in their fullness. Many of the structures currently at play have been in predominantly masculine energy for thousands of years — in fact, society is built upon many more masculine principles. This has nothing to do with “male” or “female” and everything to do with the intention and energy being put into tasks, structures, and the “how” of how we live our daily lives. It’s time for the pendulum to swing the other direction to balance the scales and bring more equanimity to the workplace and into our lives.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders?

Rather than focusing on the “should”, I’d love to share a few tips to encourage and empower you to become the kind of person you want to be. This internal shift in the ways in which we operate, and the space we operate from equips us to be able to make decisions not from the place we currently are, but the place we know is meant for us.

  1. Allow yourself to truly dream. Decide that the life of your dreams is possible for you. Be an example of what’s possible. What you think, you become. See it, embody it, believe it, and become it. Look at what you’re already built with what you’ve come from! Be so proud of the journey and never stop becoming. Ever. Keep your head down and continue doing the work. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Tap into everything that lights you up and allow yourself to SOAR as high as you possibly can. Your mind is your only limitation — what you focus on grows, and grows, and grows!
  2. Make a deliberate decision & take aligned, inspired, immediate action. Know that things of quality have no fear of time. When it comes to living the life of your dreams, there is no room for try. And that doesn’t mean we believe in focusing on outcomes exclusively or forcing outcomes. But there is a big difference between wanting something and becoming unavailable to not have it. Become unavailable to not have the experiences and fulfillment you want; become unavailable to not live the life of your dreams. The goal here is to allow ourselves and our lives to unfold, as we take inspired, immediate, and aligned action in the direction of that unfolding. In nature, we don’t pull flowers open in order to see them blossom — we trust there is a natural process and we allow them to take their natural course; appreciating their beauty in each season and stage of growth. We also have the ability to cultivate this within ourselves!
  3. Focus on the internal shift & become your own best advocate. The way we see it, our lives shift internally before we experience external results. As a leader and founder, our values and vision shift the direction and trajectory of the entire company. Get clear on those values and what matters to you! Be intentional about aligning your life with your values and you will feel much more at peace. Pursuing a life of impact means accepting a journey of criticism. In attempting to change 100 lives, you will inherently upset 10 people. Too often we slow down or don’t start for the worry of the 10 to the expense of the 90 needing our gift. Focus on the 90 and go! Our goal isn’t perfection here: our goal is significance, alignment, and impact.
  4. Surround yourself with aligned community: those who truly, deeply support you. Just because the journey is independent doesn’t mean it has to happen in isolation. Surround yourself with people, organizations, and be open to opportunities that are headed in the direction you want to go and at a similar velocity. You may not find people who are on the exact same path, but you absolutely will find “running buddies” that you can grow, train, challenge, laugh, and learn with! There is beauty and growth in having high standards, but don’t allow yourself to be seduced by the stronghold that can be standards of perfection. That kind of a mentality can paralyze us from forward movement and As much as we hate to admit it, much of our lives we’re not in control of. What we can control is the way we respond to things. Knowing that we’re not in control, we can learn to Trust Life, ourselves, and others. In choosing to trust and live in integrity with our life’s purpose, mission, and assignment — we can allow ourselves to lean into the adventure, loosen the reins and our tighthold on control, influence the things that are within our scope, and seek joy in the process and journey of becoming.
  5. Have courage & be kind. While the business-world to date has been built primarily upon masculine principles, feminine leadership is a totally different ballgame. Leaning into the essence of who we are as women; discovering our unique and innate qualities, skills, abilities — that is how we change the world. There isn’t a rule written in stone that success has to be difficult or struggle-filled. We believe it’s possible to achieve results from a pleasurable place. Meeting resistance, confusion, or obstacles as you pursue your passions/goals? That may mean it’s time for radical self-honesty and to lean into listening a little more than we’re “doing”. The way we do business is a co-creative fluid framework with the incredible intuitive powers we all possess. Have the courage to embark upon your journey and see what your Life has in store for you! Remember: things of quality have no fear of time and like we mentioned before, although much of the beginning stages of opportunities can be independent, that doesn’t mean they need to be engaged with isolation. The most important relationship you’ll have with a business-owner or creative is the one you have with yourself. Learn to surround yourself with others who believe what you believe. Get more honest with yourself and those around you. Vulnerability breeds radical transformation and brilliance. Live there! Breathe there. Create there.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Thank you! That’s very kind — and a really tough question, especially considering the state of the world at the moment. If I could inspire a movement, as simple as it sounds, it would be one of leading our lives with kindness, consideration, and thoughtfulness. Each of us has different experiences, all of which have inherent value, and if we’re open to it there is much we can learn from one another! That is how we begin to change the world: first through extending that kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration inward; and then outward.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Absolutely! I enjoy learning from others’ stories and experiences: particularly Gina DeVee, Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert. Each being intelligent and brilliant women of influence and integrity, their ability to engage fully in life (and vulnerability) has inspired the way I “show up” in life tremendously. Given the opportunity, I’d love to sit down with them for a coffee or meal and believe we could learn much from each other!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Emily Mishler

Instagram: @emilymishler

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emily.mishler

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilymishler

Website: www.emilymishler.com

The Cultivated Group

Instagram: @thecultivatedgroup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecultivatedgroup

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-cultivated-group

Website: www.thecultivatedgroup.co

Esmè the Curious Cat:

Instagram: @esmethecuriouscat

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/esmethecuriouscat

Website: www.esmethecuriouscat.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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