“I’ve been reorienting the whole business instead around my values.”
– Michelle Villalobos

Welcome to the Steve Show. Today I Have Michelle Villalobos on the show, and we are talking about the evolution of our companies and how she’s reinventing herself over and over to deliver a greater impact for her clients.

Often, it is tempting for entrepreneurs and business owners to forsake their own values. Michelle and I agree on flip-flopping that—put your values first and then building a business around that. Here’s the interview:


Michelle:            I feel like entrepreneurship and since the day I started, has been a journey of self-development.  In the beginning, I was hustling, and I was worrying so much about the business side of things, the strategy side, how to make money, how to change the business model, how to deliver value to people and all of that.

It was very much about, it was a mental game, right? It was trying to figure stuff out, get it on paper, create a plan, come up with a strategy, implement the tactics etc.

What’s been happening over the last couple of years is that I’ve been reorienting the whole business instead around my values. And so first from personal values, I started valuing my health higher, right?

Steve:                   Right.

Michelle:             Because I overworked myself so much—I had to shift that value. Then I started thinking about the value of like freedom, right? I was so chained to my desk and I wanted to get out more. I wanted to have some variety in my life and play.

So, that started to come through by changing my business model. And then I started to realize, well, you know, some of these clients that I’m working with are kind of ‘eh, clients’, right?

Steve:                   Right, right.

Michelle:            So, how do I shift so that the business now attracts the right clients and that we pull in the right clients and only work with the people that are exciting and that we enjoy, right?

That shifted and little by little the business has started to take on my values and lo and behold, I have gotten more health.

Steve:                   Let’s even pause on that for a second. Because I thought the same thing as I was having my children. I’m like, “Wait, I’m gonna slow down business so that I can have more time with my family.” And I actually thought, “This means I’m going to have less money. I’m going to have to get used to that.”

But, in the last two years, I’ve doubled one of my businesses! Because it forced me to do business differently.

Michelle:            Well, so that happened to me too. I went off on this road trip, on this journey to find myself and I was super prepared to make less money. In fact, I thought that was a done deal. I thought that was going to have to happen. I’m going to learn how to live on less. But my business tripled more than tripled in that time.

Michelle:            Well, there are two things that I learned. Number one—where we are now if it’s painful enough is fuel to get to where we want to go, right?

It’s like, “No, I’m not going to take this anymore. Things are gonna change and that commitment is what leads to that next phase.”

Number two—equanimity—the idea that you’re so committed and care so much, at the same time as you’re totally unattached to the outcome. It’s the simultaneous state of those two things.

And that was a big breakthrough for me because I was very, I cared a lot and I was so attached.

Steve:                   That’s beautiful. I know the attachment shows up in so many ways.

Michelle:            That’s one huge way. And especially with people like, well, even more so I would say with people like you, people who have a very strong, we call them in our culture, we call them creator mechanics. Creator, mechanics stars, really. Creator mechanic stars are these people that have this big vision. There are so innovative they love to create.

They’ve got this mechanic side that’s good at turning that vision into something that concrete and execution, right? And then the start part, they’re good at going out and promoting it. I believe you were probably a creator mechanic star and the mechanic; the problem is sometimes the mechanic comes out too soon.

Steve:                   Right.

Michelle:            You need the creator to create first like that vision and that, the big thing and then open the door to the mechanic and say, “This is what we want to do, how are we going to do it?”  But if the mechanic is constantly saying, “How are we going to do that? How are we going to do that?” From the moment you start coming up with an idea-

Steve:                   Then it squashes the idea.

Michelle:            Yeah, it squashes it—you can’t get anywhere.

Steve:                   Wow yeah, that’s brilliant.

I’m going to switch gears. Now that you’ve been living your beliefs and your values and seeing that come up, which is so awesome, I just want to say congratulations. It’s like planting a seed like flowers come fast and most of the time.

Some flowers don’t, there is like a century plant that does one every 100 years. But most flowers come fast. But I was kind of feeling like an orchard. Like you plant a tree. It might take three or four years for that fruit to come and it feels like you’ve been on this journey.

Congratulations on that! I guess if you look at it like what’s the first step?

Just to rewind and slow down, if we could slow down because here we are with an audience. How could we give them like how do you start? Because it’s like sounds good, right? They’re listening to us now like, “Oh yeah, that sounds great. How can I do this?”

Michelle:            The foundation piece is identity. Is a really, really everything starts with identity. So, in my world, in my life, I had a lot of cultural programming, conditioning, family conditioning and programming that had me be other than what I naturally was.

So, for example, as you can see, I hope I’m a friendly person. I’m a people person. I’m kind of loud, I’m a little bit, I’m creative.

I love my family and they’re the opposite of me. They’re very structured. They’re very rigid in their ideas and in the ways of doing things. And so here I was born into this family and for me to get the love and connection that I wanted, I had to fit in. So, I took on the identity of someone who was a straight-A student and overachiever, good at math—I actually ended up majoring in math in college.

Which is just crazy.  I did not belong in those classes and it was a struggle for me. And so what I learned about work and about life is that it has to be hard, it has to be hard, it’s got to hurt, it’s got to be a struggle.

And I learned this from my dad too, who would go to work every day at 6:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning—ready to face another war, right? Everything was always hard at work.

Steve:                   Right.

Michelle:            The number one thing that I needed to do to figure all this stuff out was step one—back to who I really am.

Who am I? What are my strengths? what am I passionate about? What do I love? What do I enjoy doing when nobody’s telling me what to do when there are no grades?

So, I had to go back that deep and come up with that foundational thing.

Steve:                   Yeah it was an evolution.

Michelle:            I’m still learning and I’m still evolving in that sense.

Steve:                   Which is forever.

Michelle:            Yep. Then I found a mentor. It was through mentorship that I was able to start asking the right questions, right? I don’t know who says it, maybe Tony Robbins, that if you don’t like the quality of your life, you need to ask new questions, right?

Steve:                   Yes.

Michelle:            It depends on the quality of your questions, right? If you think about it? It’s true. If you’re asking questions like, “How do I make more money? How do I do better in business? How do I get more clients? How do I get referrals? How do I do my website?” Okay, those are great interesting questions.

What you want to be asking is questions like, “What are you optimizing for in your life?” This is a big one for me. So, I picked up from one of my mentors. This is my favorite new question. For a long time, I was optimizing for status, was optimizing for approval.

Now, I’m optimizing for alignment. Alignment, bringing together an alignment of my identity, with my business model, with my beliefs, with my values, with the clients I serve, with the business model.

Steve:                   It’s a whole life.

Michelle:            It’s bringing all of that into alignment so that every decision I make is more and more and more aligned with who I want to be, who I want to serve and what I’m up to creating in this world.

For example, I’ve discovered that I get really creative at night. I enjoy being creative at night, like around 9:00, 10:00 p.m. I like to sit down, get my journal out, start writing or drawing or doing something like that.

Now in the past, it’s always been like, “I need to have more discipline. I have to go to bed by 11:00 so that I can wake up by 7:00 or 6:00 and do all this stuff.”

My mentor, he’s like, “Well, have you ever thought about just starting your day later?” Now, I don’t start till 10:00 a.m. now. I have that stress lifted from me at night.

Steve:                   Right. So, you get to choose. That’s what you’re bringing up and so part of the alignment—you’re getting to choose.

Michelle:            Be intentional.

Steve:                   Yeah.

Michelle:            Being intentional about what’s going to serve you. What’s going to serve me, which ultimately serves my clients. And when my clients are served, the world is served because the work that I’m doing with my clients is helping them step into a greater level of leadership.

Steve:                   Right.

Michelle:            The word destiny is a word that I’ve been also savoring lately like alignment and intentionality is another one. But like destiny—this idea that we create our destiny.

That’s what alignment is all about—bringing choices into alignment with the big choice, which is, “Why am I on this planet? Why am I here?”

Steve:                   So (directed to an audience), when you’re watching this, think to yourself, how are you living through this moment? All the things that you’re going through are what makes you who you are going to be.

I would really love to hear what was most valuable from our time today on this episode, and then what are the things that you would like to know.

So, if there are things that you wanted to hear from us, please do ask the questions until our next episode.

Choose Gratitude Create Freedom

Steve Napolitan

1 Comment

  1. Hines says:

    Thank you so much for this incredible episode. I learned so much from you and your guest Michelle Villalobos that has been an inspiration for me. Here are four great inspirational highlights I gained from the episode.
    I loved analogy she spoke of regarding the Creator/Mechanic and how the mechanic can sometimes override and sabotage the creative process by constantly asking how, how, how.
    I completely connected with the idea of needing to find your own true identify separate from the family or cultural programming that you may have grown up with.
    It was great the emphasis you both put on the importance and benefit of having entrepreneurial mentors.
    I really came away from the episode understanding the power of words and how much they can influence your decisions and creative ideas. I’ve decided every morning to select a power-word that best sets the tone for the direction I want my day to go.

    Again, thanks for an inspirational eposide.

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