Let’s meet Melissa

Melissa joined Wonolo’s Business Operations team in 2018 as a Senior Market Manager. Today Melissa oversees the growth of the Chicago, Dallas, and Northern California markets and supports a team of Account Managers and Market Managers across those regions. With over a decade of Account Management experience, Melissa’s previous roles include Account Manager and Merchant Strategist at Postmates, Director of Development and Lead Organizer of the Día de Los Muertos celebration in San Francisco, and running her own business.

What are you grateful for today?

I feel very lucky because I have so many reasons to be grateful. In fact, one of my best friends and I have been doing daily gratitude texts for the last month and a half. Tuning into gratitude always creates more things to be grateful for in life. My daily gratitude practice list ranges from specific people in my life, my cat, my job, the ability to live in San Francisco, my mobility, my strength, my health, the health and well being of those I love, music to make long runs easier, and yummy gluten-free baked goods. 

For today- I am so grateful for Wonolo. I am grateful for my incredibly inspiring, intelligent, and caring colleagues. I am grateful for my team, my boss, Wonolo’s mission, everyone I have the opportunity to learn from on a regular basis, and the super high caliber yet down to earth Leadership team we have here.

When you were in high school, what did you dream of becoming?

In high school, I dreamed of being normal. At an early age, I was dealing with things that don’t typically cross people’s path until much later in life, if ever. I didn’t have language for it at the time but I knew that my situation seemed different than what my friends were experiencing outside of school. 

Towards the end of my 8th-grade year, we received an eviction notice for the house we had rented for 5 years. We moved in with my grandfather about 30 minutes away, which meant I had to change schools just before my freshman year. My mother became a shut-in, so I carried the majority of the adult responsibilities in the home such as managing bills, cleaning, making meals, and helping to raise my two younger sisters who were in Elementary school.

Around the same time, my best friend from the previous school district became ill with Leukemia. She ended up passing away by the middle of my freshman year. We did not have a car, so I couldn’t visit her as much as I wanted. When she passed, I remember the strangeness of being in a school where no one knew her. If I had stayed at the same school, I would have had access to grief counselors and a community of peers to connect over the loss. 

So I focused on the things I could control. Getting into a great college with a study abroad program was my committed goal, so I obsessed about my grades and through my Sophomore year I had an A+ average. 

My grandfather passed away the winter of my sophomore year and we continued to experience financial challenges and housing insecurity. Eventually, I made the tough decision to move in with my Dad in Maine for the start of my Junior year at a third high school.

All of that to say- my dream was to create a life that was free of the burden of intense financial stress and even to be happy. I feel so lucky to say that I live a life beyond my wildest dreams and do my best to be thankful every day and never take anything for granted.  

What events in your life have led you to your current role/job today?

The simplest answer would be everything. I have shared a little bit here, but my life has been pretty eventful. All those challenges, including Hurricane Katrina in my early twenties, have made me the person I am today. The best advice I received from my college advisor regarding work happiness is to combine something you love with something you are good at. 

After completing my Master’s in Landscape History, I pursued a career in food systems and landscape where I was first introduced to being an Account Manager.

I love to solve problems and help people. I love to build systems and processes. 

I love creating a structure which can handle the stress of scaling and that continues to grow and change.

When things do not turn out the way you planned, what is the first thing you do?

This question makes me laugh. As someone who can predict the arc of a story well before it is revealed (true for fiction and real-life), I must admit that life rarely goes the way that any of us have planned.  

For those instances, I do my best to not be too attached to what I believed was the better outcome, whenever possible, treat it as a blessing, then create an action plan to get to my desired outcome and move forward. The only constant in life is change. Whether things are good or bad, I do my best to embrace the ephemeral nature of life. 

When you have to make a difficult decision, what do you lean on?

I had the opportunity to see Uri Levine speak at a Business Conference and his shirt said, “Hard decisions are hard”. When prompted, he shared his insights on how when someone elevates in an organization there are increasingly difficult decisions to be made and quite simply, part of the increase in pay grade is actually the level of difficulty of decision making that person has to make on a day to day basis. 

When faced with an extremely difficult decision- I rely on a combination of my head, my heart, and my gut. I leverage all the tools in my toolbox until I feel ok about it. Those tools could entail meditation, EFT, SWOT analysis, consulting my mentors or other support systems, or even creating a massive action plan. I also need a clear vision of the outcome I would like to achieve, which tends to act as a north star in that decision-making process. 

What is one life advice you can give to anyone?

Find what works for you and don’t be too eager to make others prescribe to whatever those things are. There’s a great song lyric from Sly and the Family Stone, “different strokes for different folks” which embodies the same message. While we can empathize with others, we can never truly know what it’s like to walk in their shoes and for that reason how can we really know what works for someone else? 

People spend a lot of time and energy to please others and figuring out what other people want from them. I have never seen this bring lasting joy to either party. What seems to work for the most successful people on the planet is to discover what really drives them and what they want to contribute to the world and then from there- and creating a plan and doing the work to actualize that goal. 

Please finish this sentence: If you really knew me, you would know that ______.

I really care. I care about what I am doing, the impact I have on everyone and everything that my life touches. I care about the people I work with and for. Every day I consciously ask myself, “how can I help?”, “how can I be a blessing?”, “how can I add more value?” I often think of the quote from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” My goal is to leave a positive impact and good feeling with anyone to whom I come into contact.