Episode 553- Melissa Romo

Melissa is a Marketer & Writer

Melissa Romo, author, and VP of Global Marketing at Sage, talks about her journey to realizing her passion for writing, taking the leap to pursue it full-time, how it helped her find her current position and much more!

Episode Highlights
• Writing fiction vs. non-fiction
• Don’t leave your “And”
• How her writing helped her land a job in content creation
• Humanizing the remote workplace




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Melissa’s Pictures

Melissa baking key lime pie

Melissa bringing in a bumper crop of peonies at her home

Melissa sailing in the New York harbor

Melissa posing on the street she lived on in Paris when she was 29

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    Welcome to Episode 553 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. And each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby, or a passion, or an interest outside of work. And to put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you at work. It’s the answer to the question of who else are you besides the job.

    And if you like what the show’s about, be sure to check out the award-winning book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why these outside of work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. And I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.

    And if you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And’? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. And please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And this week is no different with my guest, Melissa Romo. She’s the VP of Global Marketing at Sage and the author of the upcoming book, Your Resource is Human: How Empathetic Leadership Can Help Remote Teams Rise Above. It’s available for pre-order right now on Amazon. And now, she’s with me here today. Melissa, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Melissa: I’m so glad to be here, John. Thanks for inviting me.

    John: Oh, this is gonna be a blast. I’m so excited. We met several years ago when I was keynoting a lot of the Sage user conferences. I knew you were writing the fiction books, but now to have the business leadership book as well is pretty awesome. So I’m excited.

    Melissa: Yeah, I’m excited. It’s a completely different animal, a business book versus a novel. One thing I learned is business books require citations. And I have a 10-paged bibliography with 150 citations because you can’t make stuff up when you write a nonfiction book.

    John: That’s true.

    Melissa: You have to actually be factually correct. It really made me miss novel writing because, novel writing, you can just make it up.

    John: You just make it up. Just make it up. And speaking of making it up, I got 17 rapid-fire questions for you, so you could just make ’em up. I’m ready. Here we go. Just make up the answers. All right. First one, favorite color?

    Melissa: Blue.

    John: Blue. Solid. Mine too. All right, we can keep going. No, I’m just kidding. Least favorite color.

    Melissa: Least favorite color? Yellow.

    John: Yellow. Okay. Yeah. Fair. And ooh, this a trick one. As a remote working advocate, talk or text?

    Melissa: Oh, text.

    John: Okay. All right.

    Melissa: You know why? Because emojis are an amazing tool to build connection with people and to express yourself. There’s actually science behind emojis, and I’m a big emoji user. And my team, we’re really addicted to gifts in my team. So we’re on Microsoft Teams. You know, if someone new starts in the team, we say, “Welcome, Bob.” And then like there will be this outpouring of gifts.

    John: Everybody waving and all that. Yeah.

    Melissa: Everyone’s waving. There’s this like hugs coming, and hearts, flying and all this stuff. And you have to do stuff like that when you’re remote. Well, I know we’ll talk more about that later. But yes, so text, absolutely, because you can express yourself in kind of new and exciting ways.

    John: All right. No, I love it. That’s awesome. How about a favorite Disney character?

    Melissa: I like the little lobster, Sebastian, in little Mermaid. Is that what he’s in?

    John: Yeah.

    Melissa: Yeah. His musical number is one of my favorite musical numbers.

    John: Excellent choice. I love it. That’s awesome. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku, crossword, or a jigsaw puzzle?

    Melissa: Well, so I’m pretty addicted to Wordle. And if I’ve already done the Wordle, I will shift to Sudoku, but I do it on my phone. And you know, it kind of auto fills it in for you. So I try to do the Wordle. I will brag. If I get Wordle in the second guess. It goes on Facebook.

    John: There you go. All right. Well, yeah, that seems like a bragging moment. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Melissa: Ryan Reynolds. Ryan, if you’re listening to this, I want you to endorse my book. A video is on the way to your marketing company and to your partners at Deloitte because I think you need me to make The Creative Ladder a success. More to come, everybody.

    John: That’s amazing. You never know. You never know.

    Melissa: You just never know. You have to put it out there.

    John: Yeah, no, you really do. Toilet paper roll over or under?

    Melissa: Oh, definitely over. I don’t understand anybody who puts it under. It’s so confusing to me.

    John: Right? I think Ryan Reynolds puts it under. Just saying.

    Melissa: I would let him do that.

    John: All right, fair enough. Fair enough. All right. Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Melissa: Oh, Star Wars definitely. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one minute of Star Trek. I don’t even know who the characters are.

    John: Wow. Yeah, right. Okay. That works. That works. Your computer, more PC or Mac?

    Melissa: Well, Mac. But whenever I know anybody who starts in a corporate job and they throw a temper tantrum because they need a MacBook from the company, the first thing I tell them is that all the corporate software really doesn’t play nice with Mac, and it’s just not worth a headache. So in my job, I love my PC, which is a Dell. And at home, I have a MacBook.

    John: All right. How about ice cream, in a cup or in a cone?

    Melissa: Cup definitely. Cones are really messy.

    John: Yeah, yeah. No, totally. Do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Melissa: I’m a sun seeker and I love the heat, so it’s definitely hot.

    John: There you go. How about a favorite band or musician?

    Melissa: I’ve been listening to a lot of Lauren Hill lately. Just getting back into the R&B, like the sort of 1990s R&B. I’m kind of into that. So Lauren Hill lately is favorite. And I love Ed Sheeran. Anything by Ed Sheeran, I’ll just listen to over and over again.

    John: Yeah, he’s good too. And Ed, if you’re listening, collaborate with Lauren Hill and then Melissa will buy all of the albums.

    Melissa: Boy, that’d be a bomb. Yeah.

    John: That would be pretty bomb actually. How about a favorite number?

    Melissa: Oh, well, I’ll say 11 because that’s the day I was born. I mean, can’t not like the day you were born, right?

    John: Yeah. And it’s better than one. It’s two 1s.

    Melissa: It’s two 1s. Right. Yeah.

    John: That’s a great number. All right. How about when it comes to books for reading or listening, audio version, e-Book, or real book?

    Melissa: So I really prefer a real book. We even defected angrily from Audible, and I feel like I’m like the only person in the universe who is doing that because I just read an article last week that audiobooks are about to become a bigger revenue generator than all of Hollywood put together. So people are really listening to lots of audiobooks. For me, reading is a very visual activity. I like to look at how the words look on the page. I like to look at how the page look. I like the way books smell.

    John: Yeah. The way it’s laid out. Absolutely. It’s an art.

    Melissa: Exactly. It’s a very tactile design-centered experience for me. So audio books just don’t tick the box. And when I’m traveling, I will put things on my Kindle. And I have been known to buy a Kindle book that I already own in paper, which drives my husband up a wall, but I just can’t carry around books when I’m traveling. I’m stuck with my Kindle.

    John: Gary Goldman has a great joke about how he bought Shawshank Redemption on streaming even though he owned the DVD because he didn’t want to get out bed to put the DVD in the thing. And his brother’s like “Yeah, but it adds up. Like you’re gonna lose all your—” And he goes “It only adds up if you add it up. Like if you don’t add it up, it’s not wasted money. Like just it’s another book.” Like whatever.

    Melissa: Yup. I can relate to that. I was laying by the pool in a beautiful poolside Mallorca compound laying by the pool. And I had a book back in my room, which was like maybe like a 5-minute walk. And I just could not leave the poolside because it was an absolute exquisite afternoon. And so, I picked up my phone and I bought the book that was in my hotel room.

    John: Love it. Love it. That’s so good.

    Melissa: If my husband’s listening, I’m really sorry. I’ll do the dishes.

    John: He didn’t know. He didn’t even know. That’s hilarious. Ryan Reynolds said it’s okay, so it’s all good. All right. We got two more. Two more. Favorite toppings on a pizza.

    Melissa: So I love pineapple and ham. I love Hawaiian pizza.

    John: Oh, okay. Yeah, I do too.

    Melissa: I know it’s almost like Marmite. Either love it or hate it, but I think it’s amazing.

    John: Yeah, no, I think it’s great. It’s not my go-to, but I’ll take it. Yeah, absolutely. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Melissa: I had an illness a couple years ago, which fortunately I’m past it. I’m healthy and everything’s fine, but I had a little bit of a serious illness going on. And a friend knitted me a scarf out of this fabric that looks like kind of a Tiffany lamp, like all these multicolors and it’s super soft. And I had that on night and day for the entire winter that I was being treated. And it’s still like the thing I pick up. As soon as the weather turns, I pick it up. I have it around my neck all the time. It’s beautiful.

    And the most important thing about it is that my friend made it for me at a moment when I really needed her hug. Right? And that was kind of a great hug without being able to be with her. I love it. I love it. And then I would say a close second is this vase that I purchased in Lisbon while I was on a layover on the way to Paris.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Melissa: So it wasn’t even in the airport shop. I went into town into Lisbon to like a junk shop. And I just thought it was so beautiful with the rooster and these— it has these blue— it’s like hand painted porcelain little things. And so, I just was at a junk shop like waiting for my next flight and I thought “You know what? I’m putting that in my backpack.”

    John: And I was gonna say to fly with that is even more impressive. And it wasn’t like you were on the way home. You were still going to somewhere else.

    Melissa: No. No. I was in Paris, and we were in an Airbnb for 10 days. And the first thing I did when we unpacked is I went downstairs to the street in Paris and I bought myself a bouquet of ranunculus, which is my favorite flower. And I came back upstairs to the Airbnb, and I popped it into my vase. And my husband’s like “Well, you’re just moving it, aren’t you?” “Like you know I am.” So I’m all about quality of life.

    John: That’s true.

    Melissa: I need my vase, I need my flowers, I need my book.

    John: Yeah. No. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, both of those are cool items that come with really powerful memories, so that’s awesome. So good. So good. So let’s talk writing and all of that. And I’m gonna probably have some PTSD from this, but it’s all good from my experience. But no, I’m kidding. It’s a journey. That’s for sure. And I guess you’ve written both fiction and non-fiction now. So I guess what’s the biggest difference there, I guess, besides the citations?

    Melissa: The biggest difference is the novel, the story has to be completely invented. And so, what’s hard about a novel is you have to give yourself permission to lie, right? Because you’re making it up, right? Like none of these things actually happen. You are completely inventing the world. You’re making up their characters. You’re making up their dialog. And when you first start writing a novel, you really feel like you have to stick to like truth and facts. And I was writing a novel, a historical novel based on real history. And so, at the start of the process, I found myself trying to like write characters that I was finding in the history books.

    And you know, I would find a character, like a person who was in some of the documentation about the subject I was writing about. And I was like “Oh, I’m gonna use this person and this is gonna be my character. And I’m gonna write exactly what this person said and what I’ve found in the history books.” And so, the release comes when you realize you don’t have to do that, right? And in fact, it’s better if you make it up. And so, what I think is really amazing about novel writing is I personally feel that novels are the most sophisticated, exciting art form that exists because you take just paper and words. So it’s very low tech, right?

    You take paper and words. And if you are good enough as a writer, you can really transport your reader to another place, to another time. You can make them feel things. I mean, they do these brain studies when people are reading. And if somebody reads a very sad passage in a book, you can see the brain activity, right, reacting to that. So you are really making people feel things and experiencing things that it’s like virtual reality. It really is. I love orchestras, I love music. But you know, that’s oral. It’s something that comes into our ears and obviously makes us feel things, but it isn’t an out. It doesn’t quite bring us to this point of storytelling, right?

    John: Yeah. I mean, they’re so simple, like you said. I mean, it’s paper and ink, and someone’s creativity, and then it moves you. And you know, a symphony is music on that way. But then you need 40 people playing the music and expensive instruments and all of this. You know, the book, it’s you reading it. And each person has their own experience. That was hard for me even with a business book, is I’m not sitting next to you. So it’s like “Hey, if you didn’t like that chapter, you might wanna skip the next one.” You know? I’m not there with you to—

    Melissa: Well, you’re not there with them. This is the other thing that I find so exciting about books, is if I had one wish, you know, you always get this question in a trivia game or whatever— If you had one wish, what would it be? My wish would be time travel. Like I want to go back in time. I wanna know what it was like in the 1800s or whatever. On my shelf back here, I have Bram Stoker’s Dracula, right? Now, he wrote Dracula in— I think it was the 1870s. He wrote Dracula.

    So you can read Dracula. And you know, he’s in the room with you, right? You’re reading his words. You’re reading his story. And you know, you’re back in the 1870s where he’s telling you the story about this vampire bat in Transylvania. And he’s an Irish writer, so he was writing it in Ireland, right? Telling you a story about Transylvania. And so, you know, for me, historical books are the nearest that I’m ever going to get to time travel. And that’s what’s so exciting for me about writing them and reading them.

    John: That’s awesome. And so, have you always been a writer like when you were young and carried it forward or did it come back?

    Melissa: No. I always, always, always. I mean, since I was 9 years old, I kept diaries. I wrote really insipid poetry when I was a student.

    You know, I have all these like love poems and things like that hopefully no one ever finds them.

    John: Ryan Reynolds, if you’re listening, they’re on their way.

    Melissa: I love great poetry. I’ve just kept journals forever. And you know, the What’s Your “And”? question I think is really a powerful one for me because when I was 30, I think I was 36 and I was a new mom, I had two little babies— And I’ve been keeping journals now since I was 9 years old, so quarter century of keeping journals. And I had even been drafting a novel for 10 years that I knew I wanted to write. It was about Poland, about the time I lived in Warsaw, Poland when I was working over there. And I’ve been working on it.

    But you know, I was in a big job. I was in American Express. I was a marketing director. I had two little babies at home. And there was no light at the end of the tunnel I had too many things— amazing, wonderful things in my life. I had a wonderful husband, wonderful children, wonderful job, no time to write. And I got in a taxi on July 14th, 2009. I will never forget. It was Bastille Day. And I had a beautiful breakfast with my friend who made me the scarf. And we talked about our dreams in life. And I said, “You know, one day, I wanna write a novel.” And then, you know, she’s like “That’s great. I hope you do.”

    And then I got in a taxi. And on the way down to American Express’s headquarters in lower Manhattan, the taxi driver wanted to read my palm. And I’m not into all the Voodoo and everything. Like I don’t believe all that stuff. And I was like “All right, whatever.” You know, it’s a nice morning, I’ll go with it. Right? So I stuck my hand through the plexiglass. And then at every stoplight, you know, we stopped at Halston. We stopped at Canal Street. You know, down in Tribeca. Every stoplight, he was reading my palm. He was saying something else about me.

    And he said a couple things that, you know, were kind of generic and he could have come up with them not knowing me. And then when we got close to the office, he said, “Oh, this line down at the bottom of your hand leading to your wrist, that says you’re a writer.” And when he said this to me, I thought he’s not saying I’m an artist, he’s not saying I’m creative, he’s saying I am a writer. And it was like this hand of God reached down into that taxi and hit me on the head and said, “What are you doing? Like you need to be writing. Like, you know, it’s all great your PowerPoints and you’re marketing everything, but you need to be writing.” Right?

    And I got out of the taxi just stunned that he said that to me, right? And my heart was racing. You feel this moment when everything collides and you feel like you have to make a really important decision. And I ran up to a conference room and I called my husband. And it was, you know, 8:30 in the morning. And I called him at his office. And I was already very emotional. And I said, “I was in this taxi. And he read my palm. And he said I’m a writer. And I have to quit my job.” Right? It all just came flying out of me.

    And I knew I would not write if I didn’t step back from my job. I needed something to go away. And it was 2009. So you know, Lehman Brothers had gone out of business. Everyone in the financial markets were being laid off. And it was really risky for both of us. Both of our jobs could have been on the line. And here I am calling him hysterical and saying I need to quit my job to write a novel. And you know, he would’ve been completely within his rights to say “Look, like pull yourself together. Go have a coffee. We’ll find a way for you to write novel.” But he said all— All he said— 3 words— “Go for it.”

    John: Nice. Yes.

    Melissa: I couldn’t believe I was hearing him. And I was like “Are you sure? Like you really are okay with that? Like this is a big risk for us.” He’s like “Just go do it. It’s clearly really important to you.” So I did. I quit. And this is the thing I want people to know who are listening and thinking about their “and.” When I resigned and I told people I was resigning to write a novel, nobody believed me. Right? Nobody believed me. And the email that said Melissa’s leaving the company to blah, blah blah said she’s gonna spend more time with her family, which is also true, right?

    Like of course, I was gonna see a little bit more of my kids and everything, but that was not why I was leaving a very good job at a blue chip company, right? That was not why. But nobody really took me seriously. And that definitely hurt. I was a nobody. But for the most part, I wasn’t taken seriously. And then a weird thing started to happen the last couple of days I was at work before I finally left. People would pull me into their offices and say “You know, I love to dance. I’ve always wanted to dance on stage.”

    And then someone else would say “You know, in my spare time, I paint. And I really wish one day I would have a gallery show.” And John, I think probably 10, 12, 15 people told me these stories secretly in hushed tones in their offices behind closed doors. So what that told me was, wow, we are all sitting on something really important to us that we are having a hard time finding ways to devote time to.

    And the thing I would tell everyone listening is don’t leave it. Right? That’s why you’re alive. That’s what makes you feel alive. And cut any corners you have to in your life to give a little bit of time to that thing that makes you feel alive. Don’t put it off. I was very lucky that I was able to take a couple of years. And I did write the novel. And the novel did get published. And it is out there. So I kind of proved to everybody that I was gonna do it. The funny thing was I thought once I wrote it, it would be out of my system and I’d sort of go back to a job and be done. Then I drafted four more novels.

    John: That’s incredible.

    Melissa: I drafted four more novels and now the business book. Yeah. So I’m clearly a writer.

    John: Yeah. ‘Cause right now people are like “When’s the next book?” And I’m like “Umm, it’s really hard. It’s really hard.” So, kudos to you. But I love that story so much for so many reasons. One is just the universe telling you— God telling you whatever you wanna say is—And he called you. I am a writer. You’re like I am a writer. Like I’m not a marketer. I’m not, you know, all these other things. I’m a writer. So maybe marketing’s your “and.”

    Melissa: Yeah. Exactly.

    John: That’s how I look at everyone that I have on the show. Who you really are is the hobby because that’s the thing that’s always with you. When you get promoted at your job, when you go to a different job, you’re still that thing. But then, you know, in the job title changes, the technical skills that you’re using changes, the technology that you use at your job changes. Like all that stuff is always changing, but your “and” or the container of “and”, if you will, is always there. And that’s the eye of the hurricane. That’s your source of identity and confidence and who you are.

    So I am a writer and like I love that so much, and then the fact that like people were pulling you aside just quietly and closing the door to their office to tell you what really lights them up. That’s why I created this show because I’m like you shouldn’t have to close the door and say I like to dance. You should tell it. Like everyone should know I love dancing. Like I don’t have to be good at it. I don’t have to make money at it. I don’t have to like be on a show. Like I just like to dance. Like what’s up? And that’s so important to just feeling alive.

    Melissa: It is. It is completely important. Yeah. And I hope everyone listening to this takes that to heart and don’t leave it. It is the eye of your hurricane. It is where your soul is. So spend time there. That’s where the richest life is gonna be.

    John: It’s so important. And you know, not everyone can obviously quit their job and make it a revenue producing thing, but you can do it on the side. And it doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be amazing. It’s just I enjoy writing. I don’t need your permission or your judgment. I don’t even care actually because I’m doing it for me, you know.

    Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And you know, the postscript to that decision was ’cause I was very lucky that we could do without my salary for the short term, but I did find out that I can’t only write because I’m somebody who’s very extroverted and I like to be with people, and writing is a very solitary activity, and it just wasn’t enough for me. So a beautiful thing happened in marketing, however, when I was out writing my novel. Content became very important, right?

    Like the internet really matured, broadband matured, social media became a big thing. And suddenly, you had companies deciding that they need content operations and they need, guess what? Writers. And so, I went back into marketing as a content strategist for SAP Concur in the UK when I was living there. And it was kind of like, you know, close a door, open a window kind of thing. It’s like here I was back in marketing, but actually writing and doing the thing I loved to do.

    And then I got an amazing opportunity at Sage because they called me and said, “Look, we wanna hire somebody to start a global content team. We don’t have a global content team, and we know we need one. You know, we’re a huge Footsie 100 software company, and we need someone to come and coordinate all this content.” And I was really nervous about taking the job ’cause I’d never done a job that big, but it was writing and creating content. And I thought “Wow, this is the jackpot. This is what I love to do. This is my “and” and it’s my job.”

    John: Yeah. You’ve been exercising this muscle since you were 9. It’s like I was born for this. Like I’m ready for this.

    Melissa: Yeah. So it was a great turn of event. So sometimes your “and” can become part of your daytime career. I mean not always, but sometimes it can. And I was looking for it. I was always looking for a way that writing could be a way I could make a living. I was always looking for it. And my hat is off to anyone who’s a freelance writer who manages to make a living with it because I did try that while I was writing my novel. I mean, I sold maybe two or three stories. I was being paid $40 a story. I mean, nothing, right? And I thought how do people live as writers, you know?

    So when content was becoming more important for corporations, I thought “Oh, okay. Well, at least there’s gonna be a paycheck here.” And the first thing I did, John, when I came in and I started a team is I hired three ex-journalists who had lost their jobs because their media companies were going out of business. And I hired them into Sage to write for Sage, and a couple of them are still there.

    John: That’s so great. It’s true though. I mean, these outside of work hobbies that you have give us a skillset whether it’s direct like in your case or maybe it’s indirect. The way you think, the way you see things, the way you look at the world, or at the very minimum it humanizes you. You know, I guarantee that people at Amex—Remember the lady that left to write a book? There’s so many other people that have left that company that they do not remember, but you are the lady that left to write a book.

    I had a guy remember me 12 years after I left PWC as that’s the guy who did standup at night. And it was like he didn’t remember me for anything else, and my resume was pretty solid. All the hard work I was doing, he didn’t remember ’cause I never actually met him. He was in a different department, on a different floor. Yeah. Just that human side of all of us is so crucial. It’s so crucial in which leads into your book, you know, Your Resource is Human. And I guess how do you bring the human to the remote world?

    Melissa: Emojis.

    John: Emojis. That’s it. Emojis and gifts. I don’t even know how to say it right.

    Melissa: I’m not kidding. I mean, it sounds sort of funny. But you know, it’s what they call the liminal moments in the workday is when you really build relationships. And those can be either in an office when you’re passing each other to water cooler or they can be on Microsoft Teams when you’re chatting back and forth. So, you know, the liminal moments can exist in either place. So you don’t have to be in an office to have them. The only thing you have to have in your mind when you’re working remotely is you have to just be a little bit more intentional, right?

    Because in an office, you can sort of accidentally cross paths with someone and just chitchat and whatever. But when you’re at home, you have to sort of get up in the morning and say “You know, I haven’t been in touch with this person in a long time. I haven’t been in touch with that person, or I really wanna have more of a relationship with Jim, or I’m really wondering how Susie’s doing because I know last week was really hard for her.” Right?

    So you need to just spend a minute or two in your morning thinking about the people around you in sort of the ecosystem you work in in your company and kind of make yourself a list on a little Post-it note. Like I’m just gonna reach out. I’m just gonna ping this person and just kind of see what’s going on. And you create your liminal moments right there, you know. You create your liminal moments.

    John: I love that. Yeah. And it’s not necessarily talking about work. It’s just talking about them and pulling down the veil of who you really are. Yeah, I love that with the gifts and the emojis. It shows your personality. And it shows who you are and that’s awesome. You know, I love that. You know, that’s the human side of all of us, which is great.

    Melissa: Most of the time, I’m remote. I mean, it’s been remote for 6 years. Before that, I was running freelance teams who were helping me with my novel and the design of my novel. So for better part of a decade, I’ve been running remote activity and working remotely with people. And so, the book came about because I had tea in Dublin with my good friend Frederique Murphy who’s an incredible author. She’s got a TED Talk. You know, she’s got a podcast. She’s got all these things. Frederique Murphy. Look her up.

    She said to me at tea— She said, “Melissa, you have an important voice about leadership and people need to hear it. People need to know how you lead because the way you lead is different. Especially with remote work, there are things you do that support your team that are unusual and are actually making your team a really strong team.” So she kind of nudged me to write this book. And I wrote a book proposal for the idea of the book. And I thought to myself. There was a publisher I was pitching it to.

    I’m like there’s no way this publisher is gonna buy this book because there were a bajillion books about remote work coming out. Like every 5 minutes, there was a new book about remote work. And I thought the last thing the world needs is another book about remote work. But to my surprise, the publisher did buy it. And it was the first time I was actually working with a publisher because the novel was self-published.

    After blood, sweat, and tears of trying to sell it to a publisher, I published it myself. And the business book is being published by Practical Inspiration Publishing in the UK. And I was completely shocked that they bought it, but they did buy it. And the novel took me 15 years to write beginning to end, and the business book took me 5 months.

    John: Wow. Yeah.

    Melissa: That’s what happens. And there were 35 interviews, 25 endorsements, 150 citations, 60,000 words to get done in 5 months. And someone at work asked me how did you pull this off while you were still holding down a job, and I sort of joked and I said, “Well, my kids are totally unsupervised to start with. I haven’t seen my husband in like weeks.”

    John: One of them has a tattoo on their face now.

    The other one is like has a mohawk. It’s like whatever. Like it’s fine. But kudos to you. Like that’s awesome. And everybody listening, you could pre-order the book. Your Resource is Human by Melissa Romo. You could check it out on Amazon right now. And if you’re listening after April, then you can just straight up get it, and you don’t even have to wait.

    Melissa: Yeah. April 3rd. It will be out in Kindle and paperback. And I will be recording an audio version. So sometime in December, there will be an audio version out as well because audiobooks we know are about to overtake Hollywood.

    John: Right. Exactly. Exactly. No. Well, this has been so much fun, Melissa. I’m so excited to have you be a part of this and kudos to you on all your success, but I feel like I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning of this show. So it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this The Melissa Romo, Your Resources Human Podcast. And thanks for having me on your first episode. I appreciate it.

    Melissa: Of course, John. We really wanna get to know the human side of John Garrett.

    John: Oh, boy. Oh, no.

    Melissa: Given that we’re recording this 5 days before Christmas, I’m going to ask you a couple of holiday-related questions. So, real tree or fake tree?

    John: Yeah, real tree all day. It’s the smell and the quirkiness of it. Like fake trees are too perfect. And I know there’s the nature side of it and you’re not supposed to cut down. I don’t know. If all things equal, a real tree I guess.

    Melissa: I’m with you. I’m with you. Sweet potatoes or Brussels sprouts?

    John: Oh, sweet potatoes. Anything but Brussels sprouts like pretty much. So like if you would have said Brussel sprouts or, I would have said whatever’s next. Punched in the face, yes, that. And sweet potatoes are also great, so yes that.

    Melissa: Yes. Yes. They are great. So, skiing or snowboarding?

    John: Snowboarding. There’s too many X, Y, Z axes going on in skiing like your ankles, your knees, your everything. Like in snowboarding, it’s pretty much just make a fist so you don’t break your wrists. And then if things are going weird, just sit down and you’re fine.

    Melissa: Okay. You sound experienced at this, John.

    John: Well, living in Colorado, I mean, you have to go a handful of times or else you can’t live in Colorado anymore. They actually ask you to move out. I know people that go like 200 times in the winter. Yeah, it’s crazy. But yeah, I’m like, you know what, I feel like four or five times in a year is good.

    Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, that’s cool. Well, we love mountains. My kid is actually applying to UC Boulder.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Melissa: He loves the school, loves the school. But also, he’s a huge skier. So yeah, we’re waiting to hear back.

    John: Wants to hang out with Deion Sanders. Is that what’s going on now? Yeah, I’m a huge college football fan.

    Melissa: Oh, is Deion an alumni there?

    John: Well, no, he’s the new college football coach there, so everybody is like excited—

    Melissa: Oh, he is. Oh, my gosh.

    John: …about wanting to go play football there now.

    Melissa: I didn’t know. Wow.

    John: So, yeah.

    Melissa: That’s huge.

    John: So maybe they’ll be good again.

    Melissa: That’s huge.

    John: Yeah, we’ll see.

    Melissa: Yeah. Maybe they’ll be good again. Last one. And in my book, the most important, white chocolate or dark?

    John: Oh, boy, this is a tricky one. This is a tricky one. I think I’ll go dark chocolate. I don’t know if I answered properly. But yeah, I think I’m gonna go dark chocolate only ’cause you can also drink it, so it’s more versatile—

    Melissa: That’s true.

    John: …I feel like.

    Melissa: I always lean back on the tannins. I always say “Well, it’s heart healthy. So I can have as much as I want.”

    John: Right?

    Melissa: Yeah.

    John: I’m doing this for myself. This is for health. My doctor said.

    Melissa: Right. I need it. So that’s all I got for you, John. So we got to know you.

    John: No, no, I appreciate it, Melissa. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This was so great.

    Melissa: I had a great time. Thank you, John.

    John: Everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Melissa outside of work or her books or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. And don’t forget to pre-order the book, Your Resource is Human, on Amazon right now. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button. Do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture and don’t forget to check out What’s Your “And”? as well. Maybe it’s a buy one get one type of thing. But thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcast or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread.


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