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“Leadership Is Not As Much About Directing Individuals As It Is About Inspiring Them.” Words Of Wisdom With Melissa Estrada

Perseverance, facing your mistakes head-on, and learning from them …


I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Estrada, a financial advisor at Miracle Mile Advisors, one of California’s fastest growing independent investment advisory firms. Melissa served for six years in the United States Marine Corps. Melissa has ten years of professional experience in the financial services industry and has built her practice by working with clients to structure long term, comprehensive, goal-based financial plans. She’s learned many different business lessons while serving in the military that she has now implemented in her professional career as a financial advisor.

Chris: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? Can you tell us about your military background?

I spent six years in the United States Marine Corps and joined at age 21. I obtained the rank of Sergeant and did one tour in Najaf, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Chris: What from your time in the military, do you think most prepared you for business?

My time in the military taught me perseverance. In the financial services industry, the first year failure rate is somewhere around 90 percent — It is very difficult to get started and very difficult to prevail the odds. I was very determined and have been able to build a career that I am extremely satisfied with. I attribute my ability to do that, with a relentless focus on accomplishing my mission, to my experience in the military.

Chris: How would you define your leadership style?

I’ve always believed in leadership by example. “Lead from the front” — This is something that all Marines will say. We are taught early on that leadership is not as much about directing individuals as it is about inspiring them to work together to accomplish one goal or mission.

Chris: What are your Leadership Lessons Businesses can learn from military experience? Please share a story or example for each.

There are a few qualities that I’ve learned in leadership from the military that stand out.

The most important is to put your employees first. As a Sergeant, I knew I was only as good as my Marines and did everything I could to set them up for success. I also served under many Marines who did the same for me. I do believe that when you take care of the people who work for you, they want to produce the best work.

Also, teamwork. When I’m working with people who all put the needs of the group first, it always produces a better outcome. Without personal agendas, every team member can focus on the greater task at hand.

Finally, I learned how important it is to take accountability for my actions. This includes taking responsibility for those working for you. In basic training, I was the platoon leader (the guide), and this means that anytime one of the recruits messed up, I messed up. I had to take the punishment, right along with my fellow recruit, if they didn’t address a drill instructor correctly.

Facing your mistakes head on, learning from them and correcting them gives credibility to leaders and creates a sense of trust between the team.

Chris: The future of many industries relies heavily on millennials and Gen-Z in regard to consumers and talent. Can you tell us something you or your company is doing to stay ahead with attracting both?

Prior to Miracle Mile Advisors, I ran an office that was more of a traditional command and control environment. Now, I can look back on that and see that the millennial generation doesn’t take well to that approach. Half of our firm consists of millennials. They tend to get a bad reputation, but I’ve never seen a group work harder. I think this results from the culture that has been created at Miracle Mile Advisors.

Our management is clear about the expectations and gives everyone the tools they need to complete the job. The trust is then put into the employees that they will get it done, without micromanaging. We also realize the importance of work/life balance and flexibility. This doesn’t mean that there is less quality of work, it means this generation has the capability to produce results more effectively.

Chris: Can you tell us one person in the world, or in the US whom you would want to sit down and have a drink or cocktail with? He or she might see this. 🙂

This is a tough one, there are so many! I think I would go with Jimmy Iovine right now. After watching the defiant ones, his story of dedication and relentless pursuit of his dream has inspired me deeply.


Chris Quiocho is a combat veteran and pilot. Millennial leader and CEO of Offland Media, the premier content partner for business aviation. Chris is an insightful and motivational public speaker, and an emerging thought leader in the aviation industry.

Originally published at medium.com

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