Establish a morning routine that contributes to your resilient mindset no matter what life or business throws your way. Find a morning routine that works for you and the season you are currently in. I created one last year that includes movement, meditation, mindful writing, and nourishment. I don’t set a time limit for each and it varies daily depending on my needs. My goal is to simply show up for myself in these four areas every morning. There’s no order or rule book to follow besides taking this time for myself and my self-care.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Knight, Personal Brand Coach, Marketing Strategist and the founder of Brandmerry.com. She is also a mother, wife, world traveler and storyteller. Michelle works with female entrepreneurs to create an authentic, captivating and money-making brand through the power of story. Michelle supports women at various stages of their business who share one common goal — creating an authentic brand that allows them to show up as they are, build a loyal community and experience time, financial and location freedom as a result of their work.
In just 9 months, Michelle launched her freedom-based business and left her 9 to 5, while raising a new baby. Just one year into her coaching business, Michelle created a 6-figure business and thriving community of women ready to share their story.
Now she travels full-time with her family around the US and Europe and spends her time supporting women to achieve time, financial and location freedom.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
When I was younger, I was a hardcore perfectionist. I focused on excelling in school so I could get out into the world and spread my wings. What I found though, is that a life of perfection wasn’t leading me towards the life I wanted to live. Upon graduation, I turned down a scholarship to Loyola University Chicago and moved away from friends and family to California to join a performing arts group. I spent a year traveling through Europe teaching music to children. That’s when my love of traveling and wanting more out of life began. Despite this life-altering interlude, I left the group after about two years and went the way I was always told was best, to get my college degree.
My life turned completely upside down when my brother and best friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2008. For one year I watched my brother fight for his life. During this time I had a horrible realization that I was wasting mine. When he passed away, I needed a change and decided the best way to honor his life was to fully live my own.
After marrying my husband — who was also my brother’s best friend — and becoming a mom, I quickly realized that I no longer wanted to juggle working a 9 to 5 and raising my son. I started my own business and left my 9 to 5 within just nine months. Over the past four years, I’ve been able to create a thriving online business supporting thousands of women. My business has provided me and my family the financial and location freedom to retire my husband and travel the world.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I think one of my favorite experiences was learning to share my own story in a way that felt really good to me, but also could benefit my business. My first year in business I actually did a livestream with my son Cal because I had no other option. I had a commitment to my followers on social media and knew I had to go live, but Cal was fussy and didn’t want to go down for his nap no matter what I tried. I’m sure all the mothers reading this can relate to that feeling! So I put him in a carrier on my back and showed up for my livestream with him in tow. It ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business. I was able to crack jokes about it and it really ended up being such a positive shift for my business. I realized so many women wanted to see another woman show up as her authentic self — that you can have a successful business while being messy and grappling with the daily obligations of being a mom. That was a turning point for me, when I realized that sharing my story was a way I could expand on that message. The lesson I learned: always show up as your true self, know who you are, be authentic and build connections through the power of your story!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I help women entrepreneurs create authentic, captivating and money-making brands through the power of story — both their own story and the story of their ideal customer. My clients share one common goal: to create an authentic brand that allows them to show up as they are, build a loyal community and experience time, financial and location freedom as a result of their work.
My approach to running a business stands out to my clients because I travel full-time with my family in our RV and truly live a life of freedom. Embracing motherhood is also a big part of my brand story. In order to avoid working myself into the ground, I have simple and streamlined systems in place to run my business and I value simplicity above everything else. I find this philosophy ends up attracting my ideal clients because they want and value the same things.
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?
Hands down my husband Ben is the person who is most responsible for the success of my business. He has always been so supportive of me every single step of the way. When I started my business and was only about 5 months in, I was still carrying on my 9 to 5 job as well. The original plan was to wait a full year before leaving my stable job, to make sure we had a financial cushion in place. But one night we were at one of our favorite restaurants eating dinner and he said to me, “What if you left your job sooner? You could leave your job tomorrow and I’d have full faith in you that you would make your business successful.” That moment showed me just how much he believes in me. And it was at a time when I was really worried about failing and letting people down. Having his support gave me the motivation that I needed to take action, show up and persevere. Three months later I officially left my job and went all in for my business.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I believe resilience is the ability and drive to keep going. The actual definition of it is to bounce back quickly, but I don’t believe that’s the case. I think resiliency is to keep moving forward. To just keep going, even if you’re faced with grief, hardship, or any sort of challenge. You choose to keep moving forward instead of stopping. Resilience in my mind does not have a time limit, it’s the daily actions that you’re taking. Resilient people look at hardships and challenges and say, How can I move forward through this? How can I do so with intention? How can I use these lessons to grow? When it comes to grief, I know personally that you cannot bounce back right away. But by showing up every day, learning to process your feelings and adapt, especially if you lost a loved one who was an integral part of your life, the courage to keep going is the core of resiliency.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Two people: my parents. I chose them because they both lost their son — my brother — to childhood cancer. Until I became a mother I had no idea what that meant to lose a piece of yourself like that. Yet despite having gone through that process, and still grieving 11 years later, they’ve decided to show up by helping other people. Not only do they show up every single day at their respective jobs, but they also created a nonprofit organization called CJ’s Journey in his honor. The organization helps other young adults and children with childhood cancer. For me, that’s the highest level of resiliency — taking your grief and sadness and turning it into something beautiful to help others.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
People have definitely implied that the decision I’ve made — to run my own business and travel the world in an RV with my family — is not the “right” choice. An example is when I was graduating from high school and I got a scholarship to Loyola University and I decided to give it up to move to California and teach music. I got pushback from a lot of people in my life — teachers and counselors — telling me I wasn’t making the best decision for my future. This happened again when my husband and I decided to sell our house and buy our RV. I got a few comments about how hard it would be, how we wouldn’t be able to do it. I learned that when people tell you something is impossible, it’s really their own doubts and insecurities coming to the surface and being projected on you.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Yes, I think losing my brother, especially since we were so close, was by far the most difficult setback of my life. When I lost him I was in a really dark place. I was not caring for my body, making poor choices. I had a choice to continue to grieve and stay in this low place, or I could take my grief and turn it into something beautiful. I took what I had in front of me — the opportunity to live my life — and do something amazing with that. I remember in an interview I was doing for a news station shortly after he passed away I said, “I feel like the best way to honor someone’s life is to fully live your own.” To this day I live my life in his honor. This of course took a lot of work on my part, changing my mindset about life and my ideas about relationships. It really took daily action to get to the place I’m at today.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
As I’ve already mentioned, I consider myself to be a “recovering perfectionist.” Growing up I was in theater, which if you’re not familiar with, is a very cutthroat scene to be involved in, especially as a teenager. One of the theaters in my hometown called the MUNY, has a chorus of kids and teens. For 6 years I did not get in and I went every single year to audition. Every year I’d continue to take dance and vocal lessons to get better, and then in my 6th year of trying out I made it into the program and stayed in it for another 4 years. This is one of my favorite stories to tell because as a kid I could have so easily just given up, but I knew that all I had to do was keep improving and one day it would happen. And it did!
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Establish a morning routine that contributes to your resilient mindset no matter what life or business throws your way. Find a morning routine that works for you and the season you are currently in. I created one last year that includes movement, meditation, mindful writing, and nourishment. I don’t set a time limit for each and it varies daily depending on my needs. My goal is to simply show up for myself in these four areas every morning. There’s no order or rule book to follow besides taking this time for myself and my self-care.
- Work through your money beliefs. Monitor yourself daily — How do you think and talk about money? Identify the beliefs you are holding on to, work through them, and release them. You can find support, but at the end of the day, no one can do the work besides you. One that I had to specifically let go of: I’m bad with money because I have debt and student loans from a theater degree I didn’t end up finishing. I had this idea that I make bad decisions with money, and it was always in the back of my mind. I had to work through that and set a new truth for myself. I also had to make myself realize that I was worthy of making money. I think that’s another big one that many people have but don’t like to admit.
- Be consistent in your messaging that you are putting out into the world and what you are receiving back. Do you find yourself saying “I don’t have enough time”? If the answer is yes, then more likely than not, you need to be more careful in how you choose to use your time. If you are consistently hearing negative messages about money or your potential, you will start to doubt yourself and mirror those beliefs until they become your own. Control both what you are saying and what you are hearing.
- Write your goals every day. Mindset isn’t just working through emotional blocks, but dreaming big and going for the things you want. Writing your goals for the day can always be added to your morning routine.
- Schedule time to care for your mind. Take time to be alone with your thoughts and assess how you’re feeling and how you’ve been reacting in situations. This can be done in several different ways — journaling, having a conversation with yourself, meditation. But the point of this is to constantly check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What are you holding on to that you need to let go of?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My movement is to help women uncover and share their story. I believe that as women we need to own the things that have happened to us, as well as the things that have happened as a result of our actions, and not allow that to dictate what’s to come in our future. There’s something about uncovering the things in our past we may have kept hidden, owning them as our story, and then choosing to write a different ending. I believe when women do that it creates a ripple effect for more women to stand up, speak up, own their voice and know their worth.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders 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, especially if we tag them 🙂
Oprah! I grew up coming home from school and watching Oprah’s show every single day. The biggest thing for me was seeing the impact that a single person can have in the lives of so many people in such a positive way. She uses her fame to make the world a better place and has also overcome so much adversity in her own life.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’d love for you to also check out my previous interview on upgrading and re-energizing your brand here.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!