An Interview with Melissa Llarena

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Welcome to “An Interview with Melissa Llarena” the podcast for executives who go after what they want with curiosity, creativity, and courage.

Hi, I’m Melissa. I'm a career strategist.

I want to help you shift YOUR focus from landing a job at a Fortune 500 company to finally figuring out how you can build YOUR own billion-dollar career. A billion-dollar career is one where you are in control of your destiny rather than one where an employer limits your career decisions.

A career that lets you explore your potential -- fully.

Sounds good? Then select any episode...

Latest Episodes

Natasha Sutton, Founder of Bundles of Luxe and Breast Cancer Survivor Talks About Her Cancer Journey, Shifting Perspective, and Living with Gratitude, Episode 40

Natasha Sutton is a mum, the founder of Bundles of Luxe, and a breast cancer survivor. She grew up in a loving family and has spent most of her life on the Gold Coast of Australia. In her early years, she would sing and served as the designated driver or “roadie” for her dad’s band.  …

Chad Romzek, Entrepreneur and Inventor of the Kick Ash Basket Talks About Career Transitions and Taking a Leap of Faith, Episode 39

What is possible in your career? Are you ready to kick some ash? If so, then this week’s guest, Chad Romzek, will be an inspiration to you! Chad Romzek is the Creator and Owner of Kick Ash Basket® and a creative, energetic, and passionate entrepreneur specializing in solving problems with simple solutions.   The underlying…

Jane Egerton-Idehen, Nigerian-Based STEM Advocate & IT Executive, Speaks About Gender Equality in the Workplace and How to Discover and Use Your Voice, Episode 38

Meet Jane Egerton-Idehen, a Nigerian-Based STEM Advocate and IT Executive. Jane and I met by way of Bozoma Saint John’s virtual Badass Workshop. This week, Jane and I have a conversation about the advancement of women and gender equality in the workplace, both in the U.S. and Nigeria. Jane also brings to light how someone who was…

Theo Travers, Writer and Executive Producer on Showtime’s Billions, Talks About Hollywood Misconceptions and Making Scary Choices, Episode 37

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a screenwriter? Well, this week you will get an inside peek into what it takes to not only become a writer in Hollywood, but some behind the scenes insights from a writer and executive producer on Showtime’s Billions, Theo Travers.  In this episode, Theo shares…

Olivia Young, owner of Box + Flow, Talks About Self-Awareness, Easing Up on Resistance, and How to Find the Flow State, Episode 36

This week, Olivia Young, founder of Box + Flow, the first fitness studio focusing on fight + flow, joins me on the podcast. Olivia exuded such passion for life, movement, and flow during our conversation. One of the topics we discussed was the notion of the constant fight we find within ourselves; and how Olivia…

Senator Martha Hennessey Speaks About What it Takes to Change Policies, Mid-life Career Transitions, and Why We Must Stop Parent Shaming, Episode 35

This week, Martha Hennessey joins me on the show! Martha was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2014 and then to the NH State Senate in 2016. She chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has served on the Health & Human Resources and Transportation Committees.  Martha and I started the conversation by…

Jurian Hughes, Founder of Fifth Chakra Yoga, Talks About Being Present and at Peace in Times of Uncertainty, Episode 34

This week my guest is Jurian Hughes. She is the founder of the Fifth Chakra Yoga (Yoga of Voice); co-creator of The Yoga of Yes; a Let Your Yoga Dance® teacher trainer; voice coach; personal mentor; writer; speaker; and theatre performer known for her passionate, playful and engaging teaching style. As a senior faculty member…

Will Travis, Global Brand Builder and Creator of Elevation Barn Talks About How to Boost Morale and How to Become an Elevated Leader, Episode 33

How are you elevating your life or someone else’s life? This week, Will Travis, a globally respected brand builder and strategist, joins me on the show. Will has taken the helm as CEO of four internationally acclaimed communication agencies including for SID LEE, Dentsu America as well as ATTIK over a 27-year career, namely servicing…

Robbie Samuels TEDx Speaker and Business Strategy Coach Talks About How to Nurture Your Network and How to Build Relationships, Episode 32

Meet Robbie Samuels, keynote speaker, TEDx speaker, and relationship-based business strategy coach who has been recognized as a “networking expert” by Harvard Business Review Ascend. Robbie joins me this week to talk about networking. This episode is a reminder that even during a global pandemic, where conferences have been canceled and workplace dynamics have shifted,…

Nigel Parry, Award-winning Photographer Talks About His Photography Career, Dignity in Media, and Giving Back, Episode 31

Meet Nigel Parry. He is an award-winning photographer who has been privileged to photograph not only celebrities but also the most important and influential figures of our time, like Donald Trump, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Barack Obama, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Nigel Parry began his photographic career in London in 1988 and moved to New York…

Breeja Larson, Olympic Gold Medalist Talks About The Olympian Mindset, Bravery, and Thought Replacement Coaching, Episode 30

Meet Breeja Larson. She is an American competition swimmer who specializes in the breaststroke and is an Olympic gold medalist. She earned a gold medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She is also a 2013 world champion and nine-time American record holder. This week she joins me to…

Mark Sullivan, Host, Producer, and former Olympics Sports Announcer Talks About Creating Strategic Partnerships and Leveraging Your Skills, Episode 29

Mark Sullivan is the Host and Producer behind The Snowboard Project podcast. This week he joins me to discuss how he has been able to leverage his talent during five Olympics for NBC, Eurosport as a sports expert, and now as host and producer. We also discussed strategic partnerships and creating value for all parties…

Matilda Reyes, Sci-Fi Author, Talks About Going After Your Goals, Transferable Skills, and Knowing Your Worth, Episode 28

Matilda Reyes writes urban fantasy, paranormal, and supernatural adventures. Recent works include: The Daughters of Night Chronicles which follows the seven illegitimate daughters of the Lord of Night. This week she is my guest. We discussed her decision that it was more important to write and share her self-publishing journey. She also shared how her…

Jessica James-Thomson, Owner of the yarn shop, Ginger Twist Studio, Talks About Career Transitions, Finding Your Own Pace, and Tackling Ambitious Goals, Episode 27

Jessica James-Thomson loves yarn! Her Nana taught her to knit as a youngster in Oregon, and there was no stopping her after she learned the basics. Ginger Twist Studio opened its doors in June 2013, and it is the cutest wee shop! Jessica feels very fortunate to have been able to take something she feels…

Kuniatsu “Coonie” Suzuki, Buddhist Monk, Talks About Meditation, His Buddhist Teachings, and Building Courage, Episode 26

Joining me on the podcast this week is Kuniatsu “Coonie” Suzuki. Coonie has been a Buddhist monk since 2002. He once worked in the oldest temple Shitennoji-temple  in Japan for 12 years practicing zen meditation. In 2015, Coonie decided to become a freelancing Buddhist monk. Consider our dialogue to be a conversation you would have…

Neil Mossberg, CEO of Frank151, Fashion Influencer, and Entrepreneur Talks About Speaking Your Mind, Corporate Etiquette, and Asking ‘What is worth reviving?’, Episode 25

Meet Neil Mossberg, CEO of Frank151. Frank151 is an independent publisher that speaks to a global audience of culturally acute creators, agitators, and connoisseurs. Today, Neil joins me to discuss his work at Frank151 and what he thinks it takes to be successful within a corporate system. He shares his no-nonsense attitude and shows us…

Punam Kumar Gill, Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker, Talks About Flexing Your Courage Muscle, Healing Journalism, and Leading with Heart, Episode 24

Punam Kumar Gill is a self-taught, award-winning independent documentary filmmaker, actor, model, and TV host. Today, she joins me on the show to talk about reframing how you think about courage and how she is working to grow the genre of healing journalism. Plus, she shares about her pivot to a documentary career and how…

Marina Shifrin, Comedy Writer, Author, and Viral Video Creator Talks About Thinking Ahead, Closure, and Celebrating Milestones, Episode 23

 Marina Shifrin is a comedy writer who created an interpretive dance resignation video garnering millions of views. She has seen success throughout her professional career, including having worked on Talk Show the Game Show (TruTV), Problematic (Comedy Central), Comedy Central Presents: ClusterFest (duh, Comedy Central), Wizard School Dropout (Eko) and she has written on…

Melissa Joy Kong, Founder and CEO of Iceberg Content Marketing Agency Talks About Managing Expectations, Time Blocking Techniques, and Prioritizing What Matters, Episode 22

What would your future self say about your insecurities or fears? This week, Melissa Joy Kong, founder and CEO of Iceberg Content Marketing joins me to discuss understanding the core of who you are, defining your wants and needs, and how to utilize time blocking techniques to prioritize what matters most in your life.    Melissa…

Diane Bell, Award-winning Screenwriter and Director Talks Openly On Overcoming Obstacles, Embracing Your Creativity, And How to Stand Out, Episode 21

Diane Bell is an award-winning screenwriter and director, who growing up didn’t think that was possible. In this episode, she shares how she overcame personal and professional obstacles in order to become a screenwriter. She describes how affirmations helped her, what she learned about embracing creativity (and how you can embrace yours), as well as,…

Paul Musho, Former GE Executive Turned Franchisee Talks About His Career Pivot, the Benefits of Cryotherapy, and Running a Small Business During a Global Pandemic, Episode 20

Meet Paul Musho. Paul was my client, a former GE executive who took a leap to become a franchisee, use his transferable skills, and grow his cryotherapy business. He had previously worked for thirty years in big corporate conglomerates, including Union Carbide, Krupp, Emerson, and GE. During this time, he did everything from engineering, sales,…

Caitlyn Elf, Registered Dietitian and Mom, Shares How to Make Eating a Learning Experience Even Snacking in Isolation, Discusses Changing Careers From Marketing Into Nutrition, and How To Keep The Peace During Family Dinners, Episode 19

Caitlyn Elf is a Registered Dietitian and working mom with a goal to take the stress out of mealtime. Because it is essential to think about how we can be healthy, even in uncertain times, I invited Cait to be a guest on my podcast. Cait shared some ways to make eating a learning experience…

David Roberts, New York Times Best-Selling Illustrator, Talks About Imagination, Following Our Children’s Lead, and the Importance of Constructive Feedback, Episode 18

 David Roberts is a multi-award-winning and New York Times best-selling illustrator who has earned great acclaim for his distinctive style. While the world comes together to fight a global pandemic, schools have closed, and the public activities that we are used to experiencing with our children are all off-limits. David joined me to share…

Phaidra Knight, World Rugby Hall of Famer, founder of PeaK Unleashed, and Mixed Martial Artist Expresses the Importance of Equality and Feeling Limitless Regardless of Age and Circumstances, Episode 17

  Originally from a small rural town in Georgia, Phaidra Knight, for nearly 18 years, traveled the globe as a professional rugby player, establishing herself as one of the premier players in the sport. In this episode, she shared the many unique experiences she had both on and off the field. And she explained how…

Corey Hester, Off-Grid Adventurer, Alaskan Geotourism Guide, and Former Aviation Executive on Transferable Skills and Using Your Imagination Within Confined Spaces, Episode 16

Corey Hester is an off-grid adventurer. Today, you’ll hear how Corey has been able to reimagine the mastering of his photography skills even given today’s pandemic constraints. His experiences help us to think about the skills we can continue to master in a new way from the comfort of our home. There is possibility even…

Hear How Mikael Lund, A Foremost Expert On Addictions And The Founder Of The Human Gardening, A Rehab Center In Sweden, Thinks About The Risks Of Addictions, Coping Mechanisms, And Shame In Times Of Isolation And Stress, Episode 15

I met Mikael Lund at a Tony Robbins event years ago. Mikael is the CEO / Founder of Human Gardening, a drug, alcohol, gaming, codependency treatment center based in Sweden. Amidst the global pandemic, many are finding themselves in isolation. During our conversation, Mikael helps us to think about the risk of addictions, coping mechanisms,…

Hear Why Cameron Schmidt calls Himself, “the Human Catalyst,” and How He Approaches Life as Training, Episode 14

Cameron Schmidt calls himself “the Human Catalyst.” He has built online and offline communities for a long list of impressive and world-class creators including Jesse Itzler via his Build Your Life Resume Online Course as well as Alex Banayan the author of a best-selling book The Third Door. One of the things that stuck out…

From Teaching Art to Being Featured In Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crushing It!, Hear How Luis-Miguel Caraballo Is Accelerating His Goal Of Making Art History, Episode 13

Meet Luis-Miguel Caraballo. Prior to our interview, he had been going by the name “Louie Blaka.” Yet, from this moment forward, he wants the world to know him for who he is: an artist with Puerto Rican roots who is here to inspire and provide a roadmap for future full-time artists. You can see his…

Find Out How Your Favorite 80s Ski Gloves Freezy Freakies Were Revived, A Bear Costume Became A Fetish, And How Hans Reichstetter Derisked Both Ideas, Episode 12

 So excited about my conversation with an entrepreneur who happens to be one of my classmates from business school. Meet Hans Reichstetter. We both attended the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and it’s been over 10 years now.  He and his twin brother Karl created the Buffoonery Factory LLC around 8 years ago.…

Hear How Sree Sreenivasan the Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professor of Digital Innovation at Stony Brook University  and Former Chief Digital Officer Of NYC As Well As The Met Uses The Power Of Social Media and Brings It Within Your Reach, Episode 11

 In 2016, I attended Sree’s Social Media Weekend #SMWKND in NYC. As a participant, I felt like I was guzzling water from a fire hydrant. Sree along with other powerful digital thought leaders were on fire. They were helping attendees uncover what was next and what should be ignored pertaining to social media and…

Hear The Single Biggest Lesson Gary Vaynerchuk Thinks Corporations Need To Learn From Family-Owned Businesses As Well As The Smartest Way To Ask For Equity, Episode 10

 If you’ve ever wanted the opportunity to speak to someone whom you’ve admired yet held yourself back because you felt intimidated, then this episode is for you.  For me, someone whom I’ve always admired is Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company and the active CEO…

Tune In To Hear How Emily Pihlaja A Professional Dancer Who Is A Member Of The Spectrum Dance Theater In Seattle Managed To Professionalize Her Initial Love Of Dance As A Little Girl Into A Career Filled With Lessons Around The Mind And Body’s Ability To Rebound And Stretch In New Ways. Episode 9

 Emily Pihlaja received her early dance training from the New England Academy of Dance. Yet, at the age of 12 she committed to dance as her vocation when she left home in Connecticut to attend the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. where she graduated in 2009. She then moved to Portland where…

Listen to How Jane Collier, a Corporate Executive Who Chose to Build Her Career in Corporate Environments Also Manages to Express Her Love Of Ballet, Episode 8

 Jane and I met what seems like 100 years ago during a Procter & Gamble Summer Bootcamp for wide eyed and bushy-tailed MBAs. Fast-forward to today, Jane continues to play big in corporate settings however she has figured out how to stay connected to her creative muse of ballet. Recently, Jane had been interviewed…

Hear How Michelle Ghilotti, a Former Starbucks and Nike Advertising Executive Turned Entrepreneur Decided to Live More Courageously, Episode 7

 At last, Michelle Ghilotti, my FIRST female guest! I’ve been following her for years. She was my logical choice because you can learn from her personal and professional acts of courage.  Michelle has lived through several personal tragedies. She has shared her story and is unafraid of being vulnerable and putting herself out there…

James Altucher the Best-Selling Author of Choose Yourself and Host of The James Altucher Show On Entrepreneurship and Investing, Episode 6

 James Altucher is the author of several Wall Street Journal Best Selling books, including ‘Choose Yourself.’ There he suggests that we write 10 ideas every day to become an ideas machine. James has reinvented himself several times. His first career change was when he left his full-time role at HBO to build a tech…

James Altucher the Best-Selling Author of Choose Yourself and Host of The James Altucher Show On Reinventing Yourself and the American Dream, Episode 5

  James Altucher is the author of several Wall Street Journal Best Selling books, including ‘Choose Yourself.’ There he suggests that we write 10 ideas every day to become an ideas machine. James has reinvented himself several times. His first career change was when he left his full-time role at HBO to build a tech…

From Double Majoring in Biochemistry & Jazz Performance to Being a Finalist on America’s Got Talent, Trombone Dancer Jonathan Arons, Episode 4

  I decided to talk to a stranger on a flight home. He happened to be Jonathan Arons the Grammy-award winning artist who soulfully dances with his trombone. His career has paired him notable artists across musical genres. He has played with Alicia Keys, Jon Bon Jovi, Gloria Gaynor, Stevie Wonder, Usher, and Pharrell. In…

Interviewing the American Photographer Who Shot Saddam Hussein, Episode 3

 Stefan Zaklin was a staff photojournalist for the European Pressphoto Agency. He covered several historical figures and moments including the war in Iraq, the Saddam Hussein trial, the White House for two presidents, traveled on Air Force One, covered Formula 1, major league baseball, and the NFL. He’s also earned several awards for his…

Ever Wonder What Those Coexist Bumper Stickers Mean? & Bridging Divided Communities, Dr. Tarek Elgawhary, Episode 2

  An Interview with Dr. Tarek Elgawhary the President of the Coexist Foundation. On this episode, Tarek shares with us how he has been able to weave together his core values of love and mercy into a sustainable career. What’s more, Tarek explains the surprising root cause of conflict and how through a simple act…

From Teaching in Grade School to Visiting Michael Jordan’s House, Sneakerhead Jacques Slade of “Today in Sneaks,” Episode 1

  Meet my first guest Jacques Slade on An Interview with Melissa Llarena — the podcast. Have you ever been curious about how YouTube international superstars think about their riskiest career decisions? Ever wanted to understand how to create video content that will attract 11M views? Wouldn’t you love to learn how you can snag an invite…