Experience, purpose and connection. All things that make us feel alive. And also key factors for any brand or business to be able to bring to life and form a connection with the guest or customer. Carolene Meli is an expert in the field having traveled all over the world with a leadership role as an experience strategist for Cirque du Soleil. I invite you to join us on this interview as Carolene shares some of her spectacular experiences and educates on the importance of bringing the magic of experiences to life.
LISTEN to this pod right here by clicking play or choose your favorite listening platform below. You can also WATCH the video podcast below that! Check out the show notes at the bottom to get more details about the contents of this episode. Enjoy!
Show notes in order of appearance:
- Carolene’s last oh shit moment
- 10 Years doing Cirque du Soleil. Ran teams in 17 different countries and ran the VIP team.
- What makes us a Cirque Du Soleil team?
- Carolene shares a powerful story of one of the most memorable experiences while on tour
- Living in France during the 2015 attacks
- Running a team in Russia without any way to communicate
- How purpose can change the motivation to deliver an experience
- The Cirque du Soleil is all about instilling a feeling. It goes beyond standard entertainment.
- The magic of bringing experiences into life and how to cause a “feeling.”
- What happened to Cirque du Soleil with Covid?
- Carolene’s pivot due to Covid
- A program called Better Your Leadership. Leading yourself, your team and your guests/customers.
- Leading through ego and blame culture
- Emotionally intelligent leadership. What that means and why we need it.
- The power of curiosity and connection
- Carolene shares her top two traits for a conscious leader to embody
- The Experience Creators and Better Your Leadership
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Below is a transcript of the video podcast created by Seb’s Robot buddy, Zekton. He tends to make mistakes so please forgive him if you find errors or some funky sounding sentences. For the real deal, watch the video or click on your favorite audio Podcast platform above! Enjoy!
Sebastian Naum (00:09):
What a fam today I brought on Caroline Maley. She had some really awesome and cool and unique stories to share with us. Caroline is an experienced strategist who helps bring more impact intention at and success to the experiences that we offer. No matter what the business or industry, her expertise stems from over 15 years in global events and entertainment, predominantly working for CIR du sole, where she ran VIP experience teams across 17 different countries. Over a 10 year span. She also ran the entertainment department on a cruise ship and was part of numerous store openings for Lululemon. She has traveled to 41 countries and is currently based in the beautiful Mediterranean, no matter what country she is in what teens she’s leading or what clients she is working with her north star is that one great experience has the potential to change someone’s world. We talked about some really powerful experiences that she lived through during her journeys around the world and the importance of bringing the magic of experiences into life. This is a super cool episode. You guys, if you’re digging it while listening, please take a screenshot and share it on your story. Tag me. I’d love to reshare it and please, please hit subscribe. It would mean the world to me. Thanks so much guys, much love to y’all and enjoy the show.
Sebastian Naum (01:27):
What’s up Carolyn. Welcome to the show.
Carolene Meli (01:29):
Thank you so much. I’m so excited.
Sebastian Naum (01:32):
I love your excitement. You have great energy stoked to have you on. How do we pronounce your last name? I see the, the, uh, Kiwi, uh, like sort of other way, accent on the there.
Carolene Meli (01:43):
Yeah. Uh, mainly it’s it’s French. My last name is French. My father is French. So, uh, yeah.
Sebastian Naum (01:49):
Got it. I don’t, it’s like
Carolene Meli (01:50):
At end of, at the end of cafe, you know, there’s an accent there. If you ride it properly, not a lot of people do.
Sebastian Naum (01:56):
Fair enough. Fair enough. All right. Got it. Well, my name’s technically have an accent on the a, so it’s still last ya the BA, but you know, I’ve been here long enough and I’m just like, I’m not even gonna try, you know, and like, right. Yeah. So car and I start all of my episodes asking my guests the same question, which is when was your last oh, moment. And that could be anything. It could be good, bad, whatever comes to mind.
Carolene Meli (02:19):
I think honestly, I think it was during the first down because I had finished, uh, working with so du sole and I was actually on a transfer where I had four days off. I basically took nothing with me because I planned to be in the sea the whole time I was in the south of France and then everything happened. Every lockdown started everything. So du sole got load. And so I spent the next four months in the south of France in like dotting around Airbnbs, but I literally had about five items of, of clothing. I even had to buy a pair. I remember I had to buy a pair of track pants from the big supermarket there because I had nothing and there was nothing open. That was definitely a moment where I was like, oh, what am I gonna doing now? I didn’t even have my laptop with me that I had nothing. So that’s how I spent four months, the first four months of, of what became very long lockdown. But yeah, that was definitely that
Sebastian Naum (03:19):
In the south
Carolene Meli (03:20):
Look, it was incredibly beautiful. I see the sea, I got the most amazing Airbnb deals, obviously. Um, but it was, it was definitely a moment where the things that I would usually have around me, I, I just didn’t have anymore. And of course, nobody knew what was happening just in terms of the global scale. So it was kind of just like, oh, oh my gosh, what now? Cause I also don’t have a home. I’m very nomadic I move around. Yeah. So that was another, oh, element on top of that. Like where am I gonna go?
Sebastian Naum (03:49):
Well, you know, that sounds like a better experience than being stuck in like a New York apartment without, uh, like, you know, a view to anything. But, so it sounds like a really interesting experience. So, um, and can get right into that. So you worked, uh, 10 years with Sur sole. Yeah. Yes. And, um, you were in charge of VIP experiences,
Carolene Meli (04:07):
Correct? Yeah, exactly. So I, over the 10 years span, I worked all the front of house roles. So just to give a snapshot on every tour on every show, there is a team of around 10 of us that run all of front of house, front of house operations, the box office, the ushering, the hospitality, the, the boutique and where I found my, my comfort zone, where I loved the most was the V I P experiences. That’s where I really thrived. And so that’s, I took advantage of that and really, uh, sat in that space for a number of years. So, uh, yeah, that was towards the ends. I did all the things really, which when you go on tour, anyone in the entertainment industry knows you, you kind of be become good at many, many things because you don’t have a choice. Right. You’re the only one there, you have to do it. So that was my experience.
Sebastian Naum (04:53):
That’s really cool. And I’m gonna come back to VIP experience a little later, but I wanna ask you first, so tell us a little bit more about how Sur like operates, like in one show, how many, how many humans are actually involved.
Carolene Meli (05:04):
Yeah. So, uh, there’s a team, a troop, if you will, of a hundred ish people that tour with every show. So when you get hired to circle tole, you get for the most part, get hired onto a show specifically. So, um, you travel with the show from city to city and I, uh, yeah, I did a number of different shows. And then you have the, the breakup is around 40, let’s say 40% artists, 60%, everybody else technicians, immigration specialists, accountants, front house teams, uh, all of those kind of teams. And I
Sebastian Naum (05:37):
Didn’t even think of like, oh, an immigration specialists. Yeah. You have people from all over the world in one show, going all over the world.
Carolene Meli (05:44):
Yeah. On any one tour you could have up, there was, there was one tour that we are 25 different NA nationalities within the, that group of a hundred. Wow. So, you know, and some people come from relatively easy immigration countries. It’s a, it’s a Canadian company. So you have a bunch of Canadians. It’s not hard to do immigration, but then you have people coming from the most random kind of countries in Europe and, and Northern Europe and, and Eastern European countries that, that are a lot more complicated. So yeah, there was a immigration specialist, there was a travel and lodging cuz obviously we lived in hotel. Yeah. Accountant, there was all sorts of really interesting, uh, positions that, like you said, you wouldn’t usually think about when, when you’re sitting there watching a show.
Sebastian Naum (06:25):
So interesting. You know? Yeah. Like when you’re watching a show, sometimes I, I would sit there and I, I mean, I kind of overthink a lot of things from a psychology standpoint, but right. I like, you know, I, I will look at the people, you know, working the show or the artist and I’m just like, man, I, I wonder what their life is like, like what caused them to get to here because I feel like it takes a very special type of person or a different type of person to, to live that nomadic life, um, you know, entertaining and, and traveling the world. And it’s just such an interesting thing to, to me, tell me like a weird story. I want like some weird, like tell me something really weird that happened or strange or, I mean, it could be like, uh, serendipitous or whatever. Just anything that comes to mind or the, all those years working in the Sur Leigh.
Carolene Meli (07:11):
I mean so many stories, right? I not only so tole, but I was traveling as well, full time. So, you know, every two months I was traveling as well, but I think one experience and it definitely wasn’t a positive experience, but I, we were playing in Paris when the battle clan, uh, terror attacks happened in, in 2015, I believe it was, that was the most surreal, scary, like, crazy experience that I have ever, uh, been in. And, you know, we, we were shut down the whole CI just to be in a city where the army was now infiltrated into Paris. Like the whole city was shut down. Everyone was like losing their minds. And we were not allowed to obviously entertain for a number of weeks. And I’ll never forget when we actually came him back to performing the very first night, our creative director got everybody together, all a hundred of us sat us down and she said, I’ll never forget this.
Carolene Meli (08:08):
But she said tonight, we have the most important role out of any night that we have ever performed. She’s like, we, it is our responsibility to take these 2000 people out of the horrific world that exists right now, out in Paris and in Europe in general, I think, but specifically, obviously Paris and take them away from that for two hours and bring back some laughter and some hope and some energy and some positivity. And I will never forget, like I can picture it very vividly in my minds. And it was when something becomes very mundane, like showing up to work every day and, and, and, and leading a team and, and seeing guests. And then all of a sudden the purpose changes in an instant. Mm wow. Like that changed me a that really, that, that transformed really, I think how I looked at my environment.
Carolene Meli (09:00):
Right. Um, and it was such a, it was such a crazy time to be in. And luckily we weren’t affected personally, like in terms of the people that we worked with, nobody was in those areas. Thank God. But while that were, was a, that was a crazy experience to be seen the city, you know, especially it was around Christmas. So there was Christmas markets and it was just everything. Everything was touched by, by that horrific event. And to be part of the, to be part of an opportunity to, like I said, bring that, bring something special back to the people who just needed to escape for two, two hours and, and, and witness something beautiful and something spectacular. It was, that’s one of my stories that I remember very fondly.
Sebastian Naum (09:42):
Sure. That’s super powerful. Yeah. I got goosebumps thinking about it. I talk about purpose a lot and it’s crazy how much that changed the experience for you guys. Yeah. So that’s crazy. That’s really cool story. So, um, I know you said, uh, you also were in countries, you had told me that you were in countries where, you know, you didn’t really speak the language. So you had like translation teens and like, what was that like being in Russia for example, is that like one of the harder countries, maybe for you to try to communicate? Cause a lot of places you could maybe get around, get away with English, but you guys have like people translating for you and things like that too.
Carolene Meli (10:17):
Yeah. So we, so it is a prerequisite for our local staff to be able to speak some kind of English. And I’m pretty sure that the, the English test is like, do you speak English? And they say, yes. And that’s it because we got all ranges of, of ability. I don’t think there was much deep dive into the actual language skills with was, which was fine. It was interesting, but Russia is the one place that I’ve been to where, um, that prerequisite necessarily wasn’t there. Um, and we had to, I had to communicate through a translator and it was the most interesting experience because I, you, when you, aren’t able to communicate with one of your senses, I guess the other ones get heightened, right. So me standing there watching thousands of people come before me every day and in, in the main 10 and on our site, I became very, very observant, right.
Carolene Meli (11:09):
Because I wasn’t able to understand what they were saying. So I had to really pick up on a lot of cues and try to judge energy in a way. But also I was in a, a culture that I’d never been in before. And, you know, you, Russia has a very unique culture like other places, but when you are, for example, me touring around Europe, it gets, it gets quite similar, even though every country obviously has its own nuances and cultural differences. So that was a bit of a kind of slap in the face for me. And it was very interesting, even from a leadership point of view, like how do I lead this team and how do I connect with them more importantly. Yeah. Well, we can’t communicate. And you know, I’ll never forget this moment where I, I like to kind of, you know, you know, my energy, I like to kind of, uh, lead with like a lot of smiling, a lot of, uh, gestures.
Carolene Meli (11:55):
And it was a bit weird to them. They were like, oh, they were very kind of serious at the beginning. Of course, after a couple of months ago, we warmed up. But I remember starting one of my like daily meetings with, uh, like a joke. I remember what it was now, but think about this, like you tell a joke, you laughed to self cuz you think it’s funny, then you have to wait the blank, blank stares. Then you have to wait for the translator to translate it. And then they react. It’s like the craziest delay in reaction. And it’s the most, it was the most awkward thing, but I’ll never forget that moment cuz it really, again, it’s like a lesson in how we communicate. Right. Right. Especially when we don’t have that immediate visual cue of the feedback from the other person. Right. It’s almost like, oh, I dunno. What’s going on. So yeah,
Sebastian Naum (12:43):
The best would be even if after that whole delay, they still don’t react.
Carolene Meli (12:47):
Sebastian Naum (12:47):
It wasn’t funny.
Carolene Meli (12:49):
Yeah. That’s one of those wanting to crawl under a rock kind of moments I think. But they, they did laugh. So it actually broke the ice very well, but it was just very delayed in the process. I love
Sebastian Naum (12:59):
That. Really cool.
Sebastian Naum (13:01):
Hey guys, I just wanna remind you, if you wanna find more content like this, you can visit Sebastian om.com. That’s Sebastian na.com. You can also get a ton of other marketing resources for myself and my agencies ranging from SEO to social media, influencer, marketing, branding, web development, and more again, that’s Sebastian nom.com. Thank you. And enjoy the rest of the show.
Sebastian Naum (13:22):
You know, car one thing, you know, I’m, I’m still thinking about what you said earlier about the whole experience with, um, with, with Paris and how much like that talk that you guys got that pep talk. You wanna, you wanna call it about having, uh, all of a sudden you felt this new purpose in having to entertain those people and how like that felt like it was the most important show. Um, that’s really tough to just gather without that type of motivation from that experience that you, you guys had lived. Do you think about that moment? Um, after that, like how do you try to bring that inspiration and purpose back into other shows or other things that you do in your life? It’s tough to feel that inspired every day.
Carolene Meli (14:10):
Yes. And what I remember most about my experience after that conversation is I was watching my staff, you know, like we were all scared, right. It was a scary time. It, something could have happened at our show. There were thousands of people there. Yeah. And I, there was a moment where I was looking around at my staff and I realized that I really had to show up for them. You know, I was their leader. And even if I was very uneasy about the whole situation, I knew that they were even more so, you know, these guys were just a casual job. They were just there, you know, every, every few days. And so it really brought this a huge level of responsibility to me as, as the leader of this team and to, to lead on from that, I I’ll never forget whenever I was feeling a little bit complacent whenever I was feeling a little bit, even bored, you know, just maybe even ungrateful.
Carolene Meli (15:05):
The one strategy that I used is I would go and sta I would sneak into the big top and go and stand at the back. And I wouldn’t watch the show because I’ve, I’ve seen the show many, many, many times I would watch the audience. And that was my biggest strategy in kind of rejuvenating me and rejuvenating my purpose, why I was there, why I was putting all this effort into leading these teams, because I saw the effect, the direct effect of what we were doing. And it wasn’t me on the stage. But as part of that little worlds that they were in, yeah. Before it, I was watching them, I was watching the little kids laughing. I was watching people like gasping. I was watching them, you know, turning and, and having a moment with whoever they were with. And that was really special. And, and once I discovered that strategy, I, I, I returned to that many, many times.
Sebastian Naum (15:54):
That’s really cool. I, you reminded me of, I’ve been to a few Sur Solas, uh, as, as a, you know, as a young kid. And then I went later on in my adulthood and then I, the, the one that stood out the most for me was one called, uh, Hoya or Hoja in Mexico and played El Carmen. And I had, you know, the I’m very grateful that I got to do the VIP experience. Actually, I went with my family, I went with my parents and that was just like mind blowing. It was like, well, like it was beyond any other Sur that I had ever been. And it wasn’t necessarily because of the acrobatics. And it, it was about all the details.
Carolene Meli (16:33):
Sebastian Naum (16:33):
So many details that it was all about. All of my senses, I, all of my senses were on fire. So I will never forget that experience. And so you talk a lot about experiences right. And bringing the magic of experiences into life. And you talk about that in your show. So tell us a little bit about your, your show called the experience creators, correct?
Carolene Meli (16:55):
Yeah. So that’s correct. Yeah. Yeah. Probably around six months ago or so I, I was sitting here and I was thinking, man, we’re really losing that element of magic in experiences, everything that’s going on in the world right now, there’s so much negativity. There’s so much polarity we’re fighting, you know, we’re not, we’re not getting along. And I felt like it’s every, even every day experiences can actually be so incredibly powerful if we just put a little bit of effort into them. Right. Mm. And we, we don’t, I think we underestimate the impacts that we have on each other and especially in a positive way, if we can just put a little bit more in intentionality into the experience that we give someone, whether at the checkout at the supermarket or whether it’s, you know, you are hosting a dinner party, maybe it’s a virtual dinner party right now, but I, I, I really wanted to tap into that magic and, and bring it back, you know, and that’s what the experience creators is all about.
Carolene Meli (17:49):
And it’s a YouTube series. Uh, and I interview experienced creators from all over the world. And I’m always very intrigued to really dive into what makes an incredible experience. And they all come from different cultures, different languages, different expertises. I just interviewed a Paralympic swimmer who’s training for his fourth Olympic game. You know, I interviewed a magician. I interviewed an entrepreneur like all of these different kinds of expertises. And what is very interesting is that there’s so many commonalities in all of their answers in terms of what makes an incredible experience. And I, I didn’t, I didn’t know that that would happen, but as it started to unfold, I was like, this is awesome. Like, I, I, I found the thing that is connecting everything. And then I use what the strategies that they’re bringing up and, and, and the insights that I’m getting into the work that I’m doing as an experienced strategist in, in helping create more impact in, in the experiences that we create. So it’s something that I’m deeply in love with. I love interviewing people, you know, you, I, you, people, it’s such a, I think it’s such a special experience and you’re able to connect and share a message in, in such a powerful way. And so, yeah, that’s what the experience creators is all about. It’s on YouTube.
Sebastian Naum (18:59):
Absolutely. I love that. Yeah. Experience strategist, you know, and now you have, uh, you know, you hear the word, the term experiential marketing a lot. And the reason that that even became a thing over the last several years, I started seeing a lot, uh, when music festivals started really becoming mainstream, and it was all about experiential marketing, as opposed to just having a booth with like your brand name on it, or giving that samples, it’s all about creating a feeling and an experience because that’s what people remember. And then when they see that brand or that product, that feeling or experience comes back. And so that’s what the, I think that, that’s what the power about experiences and feelings, uh, you know, a connection is between whether it is entertainment or a brand or product and the consumer or customer.
Carolene Meli (19:43):
Yeah. I think when, when we’re creating experiences, whether it’s officially, like, if it, like you said, if we have a marketing campaign, whether it might be a, or treat an event, maybe it’s just the experience that we want our family to have around us. I think the first question that we should be asking ourselves is how do you want them to feel once they’re finished, once they’ve gone on this journey with you? And I think we don’t. I think that question is very underrated. I don’t think we ask it enough of ourselves and obviously of, of, of the people that we work with, but if you’re able to kind of figure out all right, I want them to feel whatever it may be excited or transformed or, or feel like they, there there’s a change in there. Well, there’s a rumbling there’s there’s ambition has come back and no matter what the feeling that you’re trying to create, if you are able to establish that early on, that can then dictate how you roll it out, which I think a lot of times we miss.
Carolene Meli (20:34):
Right. And when I think of, if we go back to CIR, Dule arguably some of the best experienced creators in the world. When you know that when you go to an ex to a show, it’s gonna be an incredible experience, right. It’s almost guaranteed, but somehow they are able to create that impact in a five year old and in an 85 year old and in France and in Brazil and in Russia, how do they do that? You know, that’s crazy. And again, it comes down to how do we want them to feel and what journey are they coming on with us? So that’s the, that’s how I like to kind of start my conversations.
Sebastian Naum (21:09):
Sure. Yeah. And I think magic and awe and getting to the senses of people at the end of the day, doesn’t matter where you’re from, right. Or your age. So that’s, that’s, that’s true. That’s amazing to be able to do that, uh, to so many,
Carolene Meli (21:20):
You know, actually one really interesting fact about, uh, in SOTA shows, it is very rare. There’s maybe one or two shows previously, but they never communicate in a, a language there’s, it’s always a made up language because they want you as the audience to create your own interpretation. So if they did everything in English, for example, you are now watching a movie, almost you’re following a story. Whereas even the clowns create their own languages is the, the show, the, the lyrics, all the live music, it’s all in unrecognizable language for the most part, so that the onus is on you to create your own interpretation. And that’s one of my favorite things about, about the creative process there. I think it’s so powerful to your point, doesn’t matter where you are from you are going to be able to be impacted in some way.
Sebastian Naum (22:09):
Super cool. I didn’t know that effect. That’s that’s really awesome. Yeah. So of course, you know, Sur Le be an event entertainment that’s one of the most, you know, hit industries in the world with COVID unfortunately. So what happened to Sur Le and what has that, what has that done to you, your life, your career? How have you transitioned?
Carolene Meli (22:30):
Yeah. So I think it goes without saying that they, they, they had to cancel all their shows. There’s yeah. One show that’s going on right now, but they, they had to let go of 95% of their employees. And for me, I was already at the end of my, so, so lake career, uh, it’s a very hard lifestyle to leave if you’re not kind of pushed out of it, I would say interesting. It’s very enticing. You know, you’re traveling, you’re living in great hotels. You are, you you’re having all these incredible experiences, but I I’d been feeling for a while that I was no longer challenged. I had, no, I didn’t see any path in terms of, of growing within my, my realm at I took Tolay. So I was already mentally kind of on my way out. And so the pandemic kind of did me a favor to be honest, and didn’t give me the option, right? Yeah. I didn’t have the option. I think
Sebastian Naum (23:19):
It did that to a lot of people that were kind of, you’re not sure am I gonna, should I launch this? Should I change my life here and there? And it was like a little push.
Carolene Meli (23:27):
Yeah. And of course it’s incredibly scary. Right. It’s especially if you’re not, you haven’t prepared for it. Uh, but as I mentioned, I spent the first four months, uh, of 2020, or the lockdown in the south of France, uh, with a pen and paper and my phone, uh, trying to think about, okay, how can I take all of my expertise? How can I take this unique experience that I have traveling all over the world, leading teams? You know, I also ran the entertainment department on a cruise ship at one point. So I have all these unique experiences, how can I then transform them and, and turn them into a service, turn them into something that I can offer that I can share a very unique point of view. And it has taken a year it’s taken up until now to really figure that out. But I dove in, I, I didn’t really have anything to lose to be honest.
Carolene Meli (24:14):
So I gave lots of things ago. I, I worked with some great coaches that are still mentoring me today, and I just tried to figure it out. And I taught myself many things as well. Cuz I felt like I, I didn’t have somebody there to rely on say, okay, can you do this for me? Or that, you know, maybe what you would do in a normal workplace. I had to teach myself how to do everything. And, and so, uh, yeah, when I think about the last year, I, I almost refer to it almost as a slap in the face, you know, I, I didn’t really have of a choice and it was just like, okay, it’s all you now. You’ve gotta, you’ve gotta show up and you’ve gotta try and you’ve gotta give it a go. And so it’s taken a year, but now I feel the work that I’m doing. I’m just so in love with it. And I, and I feel like it’s important as well. That’s really important, right. When you’re creating something for yourself to feel like there’s a deeper purpose and that, that it is important work that can help other people. So,
Sebastian Naum (25:08):
Yeah. And that word turned into a leadership program that you created. And, uh, you, you had described it to me as a leadership program that you wish you had had. Yeah. You were young in your career early on in career. You’re still very young. I mean, when you early on in your career.
Carolene Meli (25:24):
Yes, exactly. So, you know, when I, when I realized that I really wanted to focus on the experiences, I looked at experiences in general and the creative side of experiences, obviously I’ve come from events and entertainment. So I, I love the creative element of create of, of experiences, but I also wanted to tap into the experiences that we provide as leaders in the way workplace, if we have a team and I really wanted to tap into the younger leaders and I thought, okay, let me create something for these guys that are starting off in the workforce that maybe have their first, like they’ve become a supervisor for a first time or a team leader. And, and when you are that age and when you are in that environment where it’s your first few positions and jobs, you, the skills that you gain is really, is really based on your environment, right?
Carolene Meli (26:17):
If you think about those first couple of jobs, I worked at subway, that was my first ever job. And I think about, I, I learned by the people around me. So if you have an incredible team, you amazing, but if you have a terrible manager or inexperienced manager or your team is feel, you know, it’s, it’s, you are, you almost become a product of that environment when you’re on that stage of your career before you start to get very aware of, okay, I wanna start developing in this area. I wanna mentor. So yeah, that’s, that’s really where, where I tapped into. And so it’s called better your leadership. It focuses on three main concepts of leading yourself, leading your team, and then leading your guests and finding all the connections between those three and within each, within each concept, there is a number of different lessons, looking at amazing things like growth mindset versus fixed mindset. You know, I even introduced Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And, and we look at all these different elements, like learning how, what your triggers are, how you react. And, and I think to myself, man, if I had learned this stuff, when I was 20 years old, wow, what a, what a head start I would’ve had. And, and that’s where I guess the passion from it really comes from thinking of myself, creating, creating what I would’ve wanted or what I would’ve benefited from as a 20 year old, let’s say. Sure.
Sebastian Naum (27:37):
Yeah. I mean, learning your triggers and having a growth mindset, I think you, you really have to want to, if you don’t want to, you’re not gonna obviously to take a program like that. You have to want to, um, you have to have that growth mindset almost. It’s, it’s tough to like instill a growth mindset unless somebody can see what’s on the other side of that. It’s just so easy to be comfortable and not have that. So emotionally intelligent leaders. I know that that’s, that’s really a lot, a lot of what you’re, you know, coaching on. What makes a leader emotionally intelligent to you or what actually, what is not an emotionally intelligent leader?
Carolene Meli (28:12):
Yeah. I I’ve thought about this a lot. And when I think about emotional intelligence, when it comes to leadership, I, I think to the experiences that I had, you know, and the leaders I had and the leaders that were pretty terrible, to be honest. And I think of the, the traits that they had and the traits that they had, which I now can see are, are very toxic with things like really leading through ego, being triggered by ego, um, creating a blame culture where you’re not where you wanna know, who did that, who made that mistake? You know, I’ve been in an environment like that and it was horrible. It was so horrible. And also not listening to, to the people around you,
Sebastian Naum (28:57):
By the way, it’s so easy for, it’s so easy for a leader to want to find blame for something, because it I’ve, I mean, I’ve, I’ve studied emotional intelligence for, for quite a long time. And I try to be, you know, a conscious leader every single day and everything that I do. And when something like major happens when a big mistake happens, whether it’s with a client or with a project for myself, it’s like the immediate response is to try to find blame because you don’t want to be blamed for it. And, but then I have to snap out of it, but it’s so easy to go that route, you know, it’s
Carolene Meli (29:31):
So easy. Yeah. Because that is the solution, right? Like who did that and why? But I was in an environment where that was the culture and I was the, I was the, it was my higher ups and I was leading a team. I was leading a big team and there was no part of me that was gonna go, oh yeah, it was this person in my team. Like, hell no. Like it was such a counterintuitive approach to me, I guess, I guess, I guess just, I’d never used that strategy. My myself, uh, in the term of, of, well, they’re gonna get in trouble now, even though you do seek out those answers. So that, so that was kind of what I saw. And now when I think when I think of the, a great leader versus a not so great leader, that they’re the things that stand out.
Carolene Meli (30:13):
And, and even when I’m looking at my coaching and, and working with these young guys, you know, you, you touched on that point about, well, they need to have growth mindset. Well, even before that, especially at that age, what about just being curious? I think when, when people ask me, what are the great, the qualities of a great leader, curiosity is always in my top three. And I think we so underplay that, that characteristic. Right. And I learned that at so tole when I had a team in front of me and I was the expert in operations, in leadership, in, in, in what we were doing on a daily basis. But do you know who the experts were in terms of the guests coming through our doors? It was my team. Cause they were from that place. Yeah. They were speaking their language. They, they knew them.
Carolene Meli (30:59):
And so I led those teams through curiosity. I, I, I asked them so many questions. We came up with ideas together. We, we strategize, you know, we, we found different ways of approaching different things, but if I had kind of let my ego go, oh no, well, I’m, I’m the expert here. I’m the boss, man. I would’ve missed out on so many incredible in improvements in terms of operations. But then in terms of how we, how we spoke with our guests, how we, the service that we provided with them. So I think curiosity is a really cool strategy to go to like direction to go down, especially when you’re 20 years old. And you have no idea what emotional intelligence is. Sure. You’ve never heard about growth mindset before. You’ve never heard about any, any of these things. You, your frame of reference is going to this casual job that you have every day. And so I think if curiosity can be the focus that’s when all these other elements come in and you go, oh, oh, I like that. Oh, I wanna learn more about that. That that’s, that’s how I kind of see it
Sebastian Naum (32:00):
Really cool. I was just interviewing, uh, gentleman by the name of, uh, Luke FINI. And he was talking about the term purpose. Curious, I hadn’t actually never heard that.
Carolene Meli (32:10):
I just not heard that either.
Sebastian Naum (32:11):
Yeah. Purpose curious, you know, it’s, uh, it’s being curious, like you just said, I, you know, I, but the way you just talked about curiosity so important, I feel like it’s probably gonna lead one of your answers into the next question that I’m gonna ask you, which is, you know, you’re clearly a, a conscious leader yourself. You’ve got this, a lot of amazing experience, uh, in creating connection and building experiences. And you, part of your purpose is to now instill that, uh, you know, emotional intelligence and to young leaders to give them the skills that you wish you would’ve had from a young age to teach them how to, uh, you know, find their triggers, how to have a growth mindset and all that good stuff. So what are two traits that you think that the conscious leader must embody today and you can feel free to bring up pre uh, curiosity again?
Carolene Meli (32:56):
Yeah. Curiosity is definitely number one. And, you know, I think by nature, we, we are very curious as humans, right? That’s why we travel. That’s why we, we go to a new restaurant. We’ve never, we’ve never even heard of before. That’s why we try something new. It’s just, it’s just inbuilt into us to be quite curious. And I think if we can take that element that we had think of kids, they’re so curious, they ask me why, why, why, why, why they wanna know they wanna know so many things. And so if we are able to, to really tap into that, that behavior, when we’re talking about in the workplace or in any kind of leadership, I think it’s such an amazing start because not only do you, as the recipient of asking these curious questions, get more answers, get more insights, get more skills, but it, I believe, and this is from my own experience that it very easily helps you to connect with your team or com helps you connect with your leader because you are asking questions.
Carolene Meli (34:00):
And in actually in saying that, I think you can ask, it’s a very important to, to be listening to the answers as well. You know, there’s that quote, actually, I heard this, I had this very recently and I was just like, I stopped what I was doing and just had to think about it for a minute. But you know, when they say, uh, quality questions, equal quality life. And I, I just loved that. I it’s the first time I ever heard it just a couple weeks ago, but I thought, wow, that’s so interesting to think about what are the questions we’re actually asking? And then how are we listening? Because you could ask a hundred questions if you’re not actually listening to the answers. Not only are you not receiving the feedback you need, but now there’s a disconnect neck between you and your team. Let’s say because they know that you, you don’t care about the answer. You just wanna ask the question, whereas if they can feel that you are, it’s very reciprocal and it turns into conversation and it turns into really thought provoking strategies, then it’s a, it’s a really interesting environment to, to be in curiosity. So that would be,
Sebastian Naum (35:02):
Do you feel that curiosity is tied to the ability to, to be wrong and make mistakes? Or do you think that that’s separate?
Carolene Meli (35:11):
No, I would say for sure, because if you are not curious, then you, it’s almost like you don’t wanna ask questions because you may be wrong. Right. And then, oh my gosh, I’m gonna seem stupid. I’m gonna seem, you know, like that. I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m supposed to be leading these guys. Yeah. And, and so I think, I think it is definitely tied into it, but also realizing, okay, I’m wrong now? What are the questions I need to ask to make this either right. Or to improve it or to mend that relationship that I have with my team. So I think it definitely ties in all together. Yeah. Yeah. Whether we realize it or not. Yeah.
Sebastian Naum (35:54):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. What about the second trait? Curiosity? It’s number two.
Carolene Meli (35:59):
Yeah. Number two. I guess it’s a bit of a follow on. And, and, and I, and I talk about this a lot in terms of creating incredible experience, but I think the ability to connect and some people are very good at this. And some people are not so good at it. And some people are comfortable with it. Some people are not. But when I think about connection from a leadership point of view, my mind automatically goes to all the situations that I’ve been in, where I had to lead a team like in Russia. And I could not connect with them with the medium that I would usually use, which is English language, for example. So now I had to find a different way to connect with them. That was completely different. I had to get creative. And even now, for example, I’m in Monte Nero, I don’t speak Monte Nero.
Carolene Meli (36:51):
And I can say like three words. I don’t speak it at all, but we have to wear masks everywhere. So, so not only am I not able to use the language, but I can’t even use the bottom half of my face and smile sometimes I think I hope they could see that I’m smiling through the mask, but it’s, it’s such a weird concept. Like I, until that actually happened, I never would’ve consciously thought about that. Right. But when you remove the bottom half of your face and you’re only going with, with your eyes and you can’t speak the language, how am I connecting? How, how do I do that? And so I think if you know, anyone lets see, if you can think of a situation where there’s been some kind of barrier in you connecting with the other person, whether it’s a Lang I mean, language is the most logical one, right?
Carolene Meli (37:37):
Yeah. It could be something else. You know, it could be one of the sensors has been removed from that person or they, they don’t have that sense. So how are you connecting? And I think if you are a great leader, you have, you have a knack for that. You have a natural talent for connecting on a, on a different way then. And I think also you, because you’re curious, right? That’s the first one unnaturally inquisitive about, oh how, how can I do this a little bit differently instead of communicating in a lazy way, because you know that you can just do it, you know? So they would, that would be my number too.
Sebastian Naum (38:10):
I love that curiosity and connection.
Carolene Meli (38:12):
Sebastian Naum (38:14):
Love it. So how can people, uh, get a hold of you? Where do they find your show? How do they take your leader?
Carolene Meli (38:21):
Yeah. So the experience creators, you can just search that on YouTube. It’s, it’s there ready for you to absorb all of these incredible interviews, uh, the leadership program, better, your leadership.com, very simple. And then my website where you can be connected to all these things is just my full name. Carol maily.com where you can, you can see the spelling in, in, in the podcast. So yeah.
Sebastian Naum (38:43):
Great. That’ll include the links below. Of course. Well guys, if you’ve enjoyed the show and you’re not subscribed yet, please subscribe, take a screenshot, share it on your story. I will reshare that real hard, but uh, thank you for being on Carolyn. That was a really fun time. I, I, I love it. I really love it. I, I feel your energy. I feel the energy, your connection and your purpose. So, uh, keep doing you. Thank you for being on.
Carolene Meli (39:07):
Thank you so much. This has been amazing. I’ve loved it.
Sebastian Naum (39:10):
Thank you so much.