Leveraging Your Emotional Landscape to Figure Out Who You Really Are, Episode 101

I’ve come to realize that while the central themes of this podcast have been creativity, courage, and curiosity, the deepest core of this is our identity. Today, I’ll be covering how some of my guests have uncovered their truest identities, whether you can truly change your identity, and what this whole identity crisis and searching is really all about. 

You’ll be hearing 10 excerpts from my last 100 episodes that I carefully curated because they’ve meant something to me, and I surmise, they can change the way you think about getting to know yourself. When it comes to our personal evolutions of who we are, I have noticed three types of moments that truly make an impact on our identities. 

The first type is how traumatic experiences can put our identities in question. Such as Cepee Tabibian, Co-Founder of She Hit Refresh, who lost her two parents back-to-back and decided to leave a good Texan life for a great Spanish existence (Episode 45), and Marshall Dun, who after losing his brother to suicide, he learned how to trust himself and detach his identity from the allure of external desires and riches to become a spiritual leader. (Episode 60).

The second type is those expansive moments that stretch our identities. For instance, Raphael Rowe leveraged the world of media and journalists to help him clear his name so he could eventually become a journalist himself for the BBC and on the Netflix series Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons (Episode 89). The James Beard Award Recipient, Gabriele Corcos, also stretched his identity when he started out as a percussionist, then decided to become an entrepreneur, then farmer, and eventually, a politician (Episode 47).

The third type is those rising moments such as when World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight felt this push to greatness from her family, she decided to rise up to the challenge – including the challenge of expectations (Episode 17). Also, when I interviewed James Altucher back in Episodes 5 & 6, I knew I had to rise up to the occasion if I wanted to become a podcaster and interview my first multimillionaire. So I had to step up to the plate and figure it out. 

You can be told to be someone by everyone and you can perform for everyone else’s claps. However, ultimately, it is not until you decide to learn about what you want, and who you want to be that you will begin to truly live your life. It’s that journey, which many of us avoid taking, that we can ever become who we were meant to be. You cannot watch someone else on their journey and expect to get to know yourself and change. You just have to be willing to take meaningful steps in your own evolution and feel every emotion that comes your way.

🤔 My plan is to delve into these emotions next. So what emotions would you like me to feature in my next 100-podcasts? Any ones that have been a struggle? I want to hear from you! And, if you want to learn more about my Courage Makerspace online mastermind program and how it can help you boost your courage, I’m only a DM or email (Melissa[@]melissallarena.com) away. 💌


  • Jonathan Arons, Episode 4
  • Music: You will surely get to know yourself when you are pissed off. Jonathan Arons uncovered that music was his muse and he was able to leverage his sensitivities as a child in order to find the courage to be who he has become today. Art or music is all about feeling. It’s the most universal way to connect with anybody from any walk of life. 
  • David Roberts, Episode 18
  • Joy: You get to know yourself when you are elated or when you have access to an experience or an emotion that makes you feel like joy is personified. New York Times bestselling illustrator David Roberts talks about imagination in this interview. 
  • Michelle Ghilotti, Episode 7
  • Grief: Former Starbucks and Nike advertising executive turned entrepreneur Michelle Ghilotti decided to create an expanse during a period of her life when she had the option to recoil after losing loved ones in her life. She decided to grieve in the community while also acknowledging how other people experienced grief in their own ways.
  • Sree Sreenivasan, Episode 11
  • Ask: You will get to know yourself when you have to be vulnerable and ask for help. Sree Sreenivasan, former Chief Digital Officer of New York City, used the power of social media to leverage his network and ultimately realized that people want to help. 
  • Jeff Bollow, Episode 78
  • Love: You will get to know yourself when you let love in. Award-winning filmmaker Jeff Bollow shared his perspective and sense of humor on being an older dad. He offers up a metaphor for how having a son and this new identity as a dad has changed his perspective, quite a lot.  
  • Beth Comstock, Episode 65
  • Mama’s Love: You will get to know yourself when you let love in as a mom. Former CMO of GE, Beth Comstock talks about how being a mom helped her as a people leader. She talks about learning how to ask for help because you can’t do everything. Ask your partner, your kids, and your colleagues for help.
  • Diane Bell, Episode 21
  • Opportunity: You will definitely get to know yourself when doors get slammed in your face, especially if you’re exploring or making your way into a new identity. Award-winning screenwriter and director Diane Bell talks about how she was going to do a movie with Mickey Rourke and then all of a sudden, she got an email that could have shattered heard, but didn’t.
  • Victor Hanning, Episode 68
  • Senses: You get to know yourself when you let yourself become absorbed by your senses. Witness how rockstar Victor Hanning came up with his sad songs, and how he leveraged his emotions, even sad and dark emotions to create something of beauty. And it has helped him evolve as a human as well.
  • Muyambi, Episode 51
  • Passion: You get to know yourself when you can finally start to think beyond yourself. Muyambi, founder of a nonprofit called Cycle Connect talks about how we can all be passionate about issues beyond our borders. He provides practical steps in getting started with your cause-based journey.
  • Suzy Batiz, Episode 67
  • Trust: You will definitely get to know yourself when you find someone who can actually see you for who you are. Self-made female millionaire, Suzy Batiz talks about how you don’t have to have other people trust to look at what you’ve done. What can you do now without the trauma attached to it? 
  • Courage: Get to know yourself by letting yourself see yourself for who you have become. And that takes courage. Allowing yourself to be courageous is how you let your emotions enter your life, and ultimately, guide you. 
  • Change: Keep what you love about yourself and accept or change what you may not like very much. Make that change without shame and resentment. 

Links to continue to learn from:


About Melissa Llarena

Melissa brings a makerspace mindset that is laser-focused on creatively making space for courage for those with a big message to share with the world. A makerspace is a collaborative workspace with very different tools meant for making things fueled by active imaginations. In a makerspace, the goal is to inspire new creations. In Melissa’s program called Courage Makerspace ™ we are making space for courage in your daily life so that you can become an incredible thought leader who has the courage to connect, communicate, and create something incredible that will have an impact on the world. 

What makes Courage Makerspace™ different is that it uniquely brings an interdisciplinary and creative approach to high-performance coaching. This online program is based on psychological principles, the art of storytelling, and incorporates proprietary experiential tools that harness the power of our imagination. Melissa has infused proven strategies and insights that have empowered clients around the world.  Her background includes a psychology degree from NYU, an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and she holds a Transformational Coaching Academy certificate based on Tony Robbins principles and Landmark Education insights. She is a native New Yorker who has lived/worked in Paris as well as London, and courageously relocated to Sydney, Australia with her family.

Want to be a COURAGEOUS human who is fulfilling their life purpose?

If you intend to become a thought leader and have the courage to accomplish your life purpose faster than you’ve imagined possible, book an appointment with me in the next 24 hours. We’re going to assess where you are on this confidence journey, then we’re going to put our heads together and come up with a step-by-step game plan to define how you can rebuild your courage when you need it. Book this free session by going to http://www.melissallarena.com/sessions.

Love An Interview With Melissa Llarena podcast? You can now support my time in producing the show with Patreon

If you find that the podcast inspires you and you’d like to help support this labor of love, please consider supporting me on Patreon for a couple of dollars per month. You’ll get early access to my video-recorded episodes featuring unreleased guest insights; your name and/or business will be mentioned during an episode. 

You’ll also see how I have connected with powerful world leaders so that you can network more effectively in any field or help you pitch hard-to-reach guests on your own platform. Then if you are feeling extra generous for only $10/a month, you’ll get everything previously mentioned plus be invited to my monthly LIVE 30-Minute “Ball Juggling” Group Calls where I’ll field your business or work-life questions, podcast/guest questions, and share with you courage hacks and imaginative tips so you can feel sane, level-headed, and stay on track pertaining to your upcoming goals.

Want to continue the conversation?

Find me on Instagram! You can read my daily mini-blogs centered on the same three topics that my podcast features: creativity, courage, and curiosity. I believe that without all three it would be impossible to solve the challenges we were each uniquely made to solve. Wouldn’t you agree? I’m easy to find on Instagram @melissallarena

Rather keep it professional?

Let’s connect on LinkedIn. I encourage every single podcast listener to connect with me.



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Melissa Llarena

Melissa Llarena is an author, imagination coach, consultant, speaker, and contributor to ForbesWomen articles that have garnered 4 million + views. She is also the host of Unimaginable Wellness, the podcast for entrepreneurs, founders, and creators who are also moms. Featured guests include GaryVee and Beth Comstock. Melissa holds a psychology degree from New York University, an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a Transformational Coaching Academy certificate. She is training to become a meditation practitioner. Melissa lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three sons. Visit www.fertileideas.com.

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