Misha: Hello and welcome to the GSD Factor podcast. I’m your host Misha Bleymaier – Farrish. And I am so honored today to have Melissa Unsell-Smith. Over her entrepreneurial journey, Melissa has started and led three companies. One retail business, and two technology start-ups. Melissa is currently the co-founder and president of Rectify, a document cleansing company that leverages machine learning to protect consumer identities when data sharing occurs. Melissa is an automation expert, and has co-invented patented workflow methodologies for data privacy. Having been a role model and speaker for thousands of women entrepreneurs, Melissa is launching a community this year to give female founders a platform to collaborate, grow and gain proximity to role models.

Misha: This community catalyzes tactics for hacking the growth trajectory of female founders by optimizing the pace at which success is achieved. Melissa, welcome and thank you so much for being here. 

Melissa: Thank you, Misha. I’m so glad to be here. 

Misha: Yes. So talk to us about why Catalytic Icon show and how it all started.

Melissa: Absolutely. This has been an exciting journey for me. You know, as you mentioned, of course I am the co-founder and president of Rectify and I’ve had the honor and the privilege to mentor tons of startup founders. And there were really two things that I started noticing and started percolating in my mind.

Melissa: And I said, I have to do something about this. I want to create a solution. And those two things, as I was talking to founders over the course of the couple of years was one, this sense of like founder isolation, right? Given, you know, a lot of us went into a remote work environment. A lot of us that own businesses were working in silos, trying to solve challenges and obstacles. And sometimes we think that we’re the only ones trying to solve these challenges and obstacles, which by the way is not true. And two, I really started noticing a mind set shift and many people that I talked to on how we engage with our time these days, and really this craving for immersive meaningful interactions. 

Melissa: And so I just decided I wanted to launch this community called Catalytic Icon. And the community really starts with this idea of this show that I host. And Misha, you’ve been on the show. Thank you for being on the show and sharing your entrepreneurial journey, but that’s the first foray into the community.

Melissa: And the show is all about a 90 minute experience where we bring together. Eight to ten founders that talk about the entrepreneurial journey and we authentically and meaningfully share stories and allow ourselves to collaborate, grow and learn from one another. 

Misha: Thank you so much for having me on this show just recently. It was such an honor. And what I was sharing with my team and community as I’ve been on the show. It was a real authentic conversation. It was the struggles that we faced as founders. It’s the uphill battles. It’s the elephant in the room. It is how you’ll, how do you make the impossible possible?

Misha: I absolutely love the hot seat concept. I’m not going to tell everybody what that is. I want you all to go and listen to the icon shows because they are amazing. But that whole idea of let’s be that immediate innovation solutionist. But let’s also come together and empower one another and support one another.

Misha: And it’s that thought of I’m not alone. I’m not the only one here. I’m not the only one that’s experiencing this. And it was such an encouragement to me as a founder. You know, I’m a founder a couple times now. And so it was really encouraging to me. And I know that it was encouraging to the other founders that were on the call that day and on this show. So thank you so much for seeing the need and creating that call to action, to do something. And so talk a little bit about ‘the how’. What does that look like? And, you know, what is your vision for the Catalytic Icon show this year? 

Melissa: Yeah. So ‘the how’ is still developing, cause this is new for me, but it’s been so inspiring for me to be able to formulate this community and bring people in and thank you like for your perspective of the show and the community. That’s the first foray into it. And that really showcases what the community is all about.

Melissa: And so, ‘the how’ is let’s really talk about things that are so important for founders. And one of the things that doing the show now for well over a year, and having talked to talk to and featured so many founders on the show, there are three things that have really percolated to the top as themes that founders are challenged with.

Melissa:  And that’s one, fundraising for your company, whether it’s VC funds, angel, friends, and family, or grant money. However, that looks. Fundraising is always an obstacle that we discuss on the show. Number two is hiring. Hiring talent, building your team, having the right culture fit. These are all challenges all of us face at one point in time.

Melissa: And the third  most percolating theme on the shows is this idea of founder mindset. You know, imposter syndrome comes up on a lot on the show. And so mindset is really where I start to dive into ‘the how.’ Yes, I have tactics and ideas and expertise on fundraising, hiring, scaling a business, but I think that over my tenure of being an entrepreneur,  one of the things that you kind of see in hindsight, and maybe it’s getting a little bit older as well is you see things in hindsight, that you can really leverage to your benefit to grow revenue and profit for your business. And a lot of that has to do with mindset. I always say mindset, or performance actually, is 90% mental.  

Melissa: So if you get your mind right, you can perform and you can accomplish anything. So that’s really where I want to take that to ‘the how’ this community translates and help founders. Let’s talk about the mindset. Let’s get our mind, right. And let’s hack the female founder growth trajectory. 

Misha: I love that. So let’s take a little deeper dive for our listeners.

Misha: And for those of you watching, let’s talk a little bit about that mindset because just like the catalytic icon mindset and the founder mindset, it’s very much the GSD factor mindset. It’s, you know, GSD factor is a mindset. It’s an attitude. It’s a practical execution of those tools in both your personal and professional life.

Misha: So, let’s dive in a little deeper, if we can on that mindset. And what have you seen, you know, through all your interviews and hearing all the stories of these amazing female founders around the world. Let’s talk about what, you know, what are you seeing as you’re at the epicenter of all of, of all of this.

Misha: And I would love to hear your insights into that female entrepreneur mindset. 

Melissa: Yes, I had, let’s definitely dive into that Misha. I think it’s so, so important. So three things that have really unveiled themselves for me throughout this whole process of building Catalytic Icon is really, these three things.

Melissa: Number one is this idea of influence, and really learning about an honing into an understanding your personal influence as an individual and leveraging that to increase profits in revenue for your business. And in this  regard, I’m not talking about social media influence, but I’m talking about your personal influence in the ecosystems that you interact with and touch with every single day and in this community we are talking about that.  

Melissa: Like, if you don’t truly have an understanding of your influence, let’s give you the tools and the modules to uncover that so you can use it to your benefit. The second thing is this idea of zone of mastery or zone of genius, whatever you like to call it. I like to call it zone of mastery, but every single person has their zone of mastery. And it is so unique to you that you, you are literally one in a million, like no one has the exact same skills, talents, and passions as you, it’s your unique DNA. And when you uncover and discover your zone of mastery, what should be happening is you should be operating in that zone 60% of your time, 60% of your day should be in your zone of mastery.

Melissa: And I say that because when you operate in that zone, that is when you are in this intensified state of flow,  because you’re using your skill sets, you’re using your talents, your passions, and then you start unlocking like there’s biological things that happen in our bodies.

Melissa: When we do this, you get dopamine drips. You get all of this energy, you actually end up unlocking more energy for yourself. And then you also want unlock productivity and grit. So when you can really grasp that mentally, you can then use that to scale and grow your business. You can hire out for your weaknesses and yes, all of us have to undergo tasks that we don’t want to do in our business, whether it’s legal work, HR work,   bookkeeping, but let’s keep that in the 40% bucket and focus on our zone of mastery. And then the last thing that also comes up a lot on the show and talking to these founders is this notion of asking for help. I myself do this all the time.

Melissa: I’m a very self reliant person. So of course I want to accomplish and do everything for myself, but it’s so meaningful and so great when people are humble and realize “I have no idea what I’m doing. I need someone else’s perspective on this. Let me ask for help.” And that’s where having a community and a network is so vitally important.

Melissa: And I don’t remember where I read this Misha, but it was recently that said 48% of female founders feel like they don’t have the correct access to mentors or advisors to help them with their professional development. That’s almost half of the female founders out there in the world. And so that’s one of the reasons plugging into a community and having a meaningful community for asking for help is so important.

Misha: So you have uncovered this, right? You’ve blown our minds with the founding member mindset. And I just absolutely love that. So talk to us about the Catalytic Icon community, and tell our listeners and our viewers, how can they join and how can they be a part of it. 

Melissa: Absolutely. I would love for every female founder to plug into the community.

Melissa: So it really starts with the show. So the Catalytic I con show is the ultimate introduction to the community. So if you are interested in what Misha and I are talking about and what I am building, I would love, absolutely love to invite every female founder out there that’s listening to join in on the show, you can go to catalytic icon.com and right there, you can request an invite to join one of our shows.

Melissa: And that’s a 90 minute experience that is exceptionally fun. After that you are able to join the community that’s Catalytic Icon, and that’s an online community that we formed. We have a Reciprocity Circle, and that’s where that is your unique environment to ask people for resources or ask questions or talk about obstacles and also share successes and encourage each other. 

Melissa: We also host Founder’s Summits several times a year. And that is all about meaningful, interactive, immersive networking. I really want transformative relationships to be formed in those Founder’s Summits beyond transactional. So that’s what we’re building. And then in that community, I also share my expertise, my talent, and my resources and we also have Founder Mastermind groups that I call Icon Circles. And those are kind of the Mecca of the Mecca of like diving into your founder mindset and your personal development to help grow and scale your business. And not everyone is ready for that, but when they’re ready, the Mastermind groups are an exceptional way to accelerate what you’re currently doing in your business.

Melissa: And so the community is meant to be cohesive, immersive. It’s an ecosystem of founders from different industries, different stages of business coming together in a meaningful way to encourage and uplift each other. 

Misha: That’s amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that. And you know, if you GSD factor listeners are hearing what Melissa and I are talking about and it resonates with you, be sure to check out their website, catalyticicon.com and be sure to listen and re-listen to today’s episode, right?

Misha: Because I think that founding member mindset is so important. And, Melissa, you know, as you are leaving our episode today, just share with everybody one last time where they can reach out to you. Cause I want to be sure that, especially for those female founders that are out there that maybe feel a little bit alone, feel like maybe their journey is a little lonely and they don’t feel supported, we want to be there for you. We want to hear you. We want to come alongside you and empower you and encourage you. So Melissa, where, can they reach out to you to learn more about the Catalytic Icon community? 

Melissa: Absolutely. So you can certainly find me on LinkedIn. I am most active on LinkedIn at Melissa Unsell-Smith.

Melissa: You can also find me at www.catalyticicon.com. And if you’d like to reach out to me directly, you can email me at Melissa that’s, one L and two S’s @catalyticicon.com.  And, I will just say to the founders out there listening that success is a journey and you need to go on that journey alongside of a group of people that will uplift you, encourage you and help you reach your level of success that you want to reach. So, I welcome you to reach out and let’s talk more about that. 

Misha: Amazing! Melissa, thank you so much for seeing a need for our female community. Thank you for rising and taking action. You truly are a GSD factor woman and we’re so privileged to have you on today and thank you for being a part of our community.

Misha: Thank you for the invitation to be on the Catalytic Icon show. And so exciting to see how that community is going to grow and blossom. Thank you so much for your time today and GSD Factor podcast listeners be sure to tune in again for the next GSD Factor male or female, that are taking care of business, we’re getting shit done and we’re continuing to share your story and empowering you and encouraging you. Thank you all for listening.

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