That time I dropped the fishing pole…

This month I’ve been thinking about what holds me back.  I’ve been trying to understand major projects and times when I’ve lost momentum or quit completely.  Some have obvious answers.  Perhaps a shift in focus or priority.  Perhaps a heart felt change in purpose or meaning.  And sometime it’s just plain old fear.

Has this ever happened to you?

I’m not even sure what I’m afraid of most.

Am I afraid of being vulnerable and public?

Am I afraid that people won’t like what I produce/write/record/finish?

Am I worried that people will look at me differently, or misunderstand my core and purpose?

I’m sure it’s all of those things.

When I was about 6 or 7, my grandpa Joe took me and a few of my cousins fishing at a catch and release fish farm. I had been looking forward to this event for some time. I was the only girl cousin, surrounded by mostly older boys with a more experience than I. I was a first timer and there was a lot of instruction about how to hold poles, how to put on the bait (I was happy to watch, and not DO anything involving worms) what to do if you actually catch a fish, etc.  It was pretty easy. We could see the fish and they were corralled near us.

I wasn’t worried about actually EATING the fish but something in me made me a little nervous.  I held onto my pole with jumpy anticipation.  When I caught a fish only a few minutes later I was so scared about what to do next that I dropped the pole in the water, screamed and ran away.

It’s the only time I can remember my grandfather looking at me with disapproval.  He is a very loving man, and yet I could tell he was thinking about having to replace the fishing rod (which I think was salvaged from the shallow canal after all, and just needed to be re-stringed [if that’s even the proper term]).

What was I afraid of then?

Was I under prepared for what to do next?

Was I worried that the fish was going to hurt me, bite me or just feel slimy?

Either way, I HAD success in my hands and lost it because of fear.

I wish I could say that was the last time I did something of that nature.  Even now, almost three decades later I sit here with a book that’s finished that I can’t get to the publisher.  Blog posts I’ve written but I can’t hit “go live”. Videos I’ve produced I can’t upload to YouTube.  Products and programs I want to release but I can’t promote the sales page.  This is the business version of “Failure to Launch.”

White the list is not endless, it’s in moments like this that I have to ask myself: “What is it costing you to hold back, Michelle?”

For me, it’s costing me time Time I’ve spent developing projects, programs and initiatives are waiting in the wings. And the more that time goes by, I’m that much more behind.

It’s costing me money. Completed programs sitting in digital la-la not helping anyone because they aren’t being consumed or implemented.

But more than anything else, it’s costing me confidence. With each passing day that I don’t move forward, I lose trust with myself for the future. I lose the opportunity to complete and feel the humble pride associated with completing something hard.  I’m also missing the the chance to dig deep and cheerlead myself though the times when someone DOES misunderstand my purpose or questions my motive.  I’m losing the opportunity to grow.  And by so doing, I’m just stagnant.

I love the quote by J. Watson, founder of IBM: “The formula for success is quite simple: Double your rate of failure.”

I may be afraid to fail, but sometimes I’m afraid to succeed.

Just like the moment when I threw the pole instead of reeling it in, I’m often afraid of what’s next.  Will the added exposure effect my family and other relationships that I hold dear?  Will I become too busy to do things that I love?

But enough about me.

What’s holding YOU back?  For some of us, we’re stuck on habits or addictions that really do hinder our ability move forward.  If something in your core says, “That’s me.” Have a listen to this podcast that I hosted with Shelly Coray.  Her insights into WHAT hold’s us back and WHY is really powerful.

Download to your phone with this link.
Listen on iTunes (While you’re there, I’d love your honest feedback and review!)
Make It Happen with Guests .001
What is it costing you to hold back?

You (and I both) have to want the success more than you want the failure.  You have to want the risk more than you want to be safe.  You have to be ready to grow more than you want to stay stagnant.

To you, publicly, I’m committing to getting my book to the publisher and a new product launched in the next 30 days.

What are you ready to move forward on?

It might not be something big.  It may be taking a little step that gets you closer to your goal.  It may be finding an accountability parter that helps keep you on point.  It might be getting to the gym tomorrow or making dinner for your family.  It might be having a conversation you need to have at work, to move things forward in a powerful, positive way.  

P.S. If you haven’t already heard, I have  NEW radio show launching on Tuesday, June 16th!

I’d be honored if you’d have a listen!

Michelle McCullough ThumbnailBestselling author, Michelle McCullough is also a sought after business strategist and speaker. She’s the creator of “The Social Media Blueprint For Business” a digital marketing planning tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She’s been featured in numerous media outlets including and the 40 under 40. She’s also the host of a weekly radio show that hit over a million downloads at the beginning of 2015. As a mother of two young children she knows there’s no time to mess around. It’s time to Make It Happen. google adsense banned (Michelle’s motivational book “Make It Happen – The Success Practices for Peak Performers” will be out in 2015. Sign up for the Make It Happen Toolkit and you’ll be first to hear about it’s release!)


My First "Make It Happen" Moment

My first Make It Happen Moment happened 19 years ago next week. I went to Girls State as a summer senior and decided I wanted to run for one of the highest offices: Governor. While public speaking and current events were “my thing” at that time, I had never won a student body office (and I ran EVERY year from sixth grade on). I’m not entirely sure what made me think I could do it, but I started the week with hope.

By mid-week, I could tell my competition was going to be fierce. Some of the best debaters I had ever competed against were there and I knew they were going to run for a state office. The night before I had to file, I called my mom in tears. I told her about these girls. I told her how smart and bright they were. That they were state champions and 4.0 students.

Then she told me, “Michelle, Make It Happen”. She cheered me on and reminded me of a phrase we had learned from Elaine Millet. A youth leader placed in my life and taught me this principle that has shaped my life and my business.

And then I went to work. I gave 17 speeches over the next 3 days. I proceeded with confidence and strength. I did everything I could and won in primaries. Then campaigned again for final elections. My competitor was also a debater. She could also speak well. I remember standing in the polling line petrified. Then I had to wait 7 hours for the results.

When my name was called I felt the reward of visualizing something I wanted, but also working real hard for it. “Make It Happen” became my personal mantra and has shaped my life, my businesses and my future in profound ways.

Girls State changed me. And it wasn’t just winning. I left with a deep love for my country and the many men and women who sacrifice for the freedoms I enjoy. I am more patriotic, more active in my community and a better citizen because of my experience.

I’m also mindful that it was because of my dear Grandpa Joe that I even got to go. He was a member of the American Legion. Because of his membership I was given one of 4 spots to go – 16 girls from my high school applied. As I type, my grandfather is in his final days. I will be forever grateful for him, his military service and how this experience was made possible because of his courage to fight for our freedoms.Girls State Projects

Today, my house looks like a mix between a classroom and a patriotic store. Projects in every room, and on every flat surface. It is an honor to be on the staff of Utah Girls State. Something I’ve done for the last 15 years. questions to ask To give back to a program that meant so much to me.

The hours of work, the times I get to remind my husband and kids why this is important to me, the lack of pay (there is none)…it’s all worth it. Today I salute the women of Girls State 1996 who had houses like this, who sacrificed hours so I could have the experience I did. THEY made it happen for me.

I’d love to hear…what is one of your Make It Happen Moments? Or tell me about a person who has helped cheer you on through one of your Make It Happen Moments?

Follow me on Facebook:

Michelle McCullough ThumbnailBestselling author, Michelle McCullough is also a sought after business strategist and speaker. She’s the creator of “The Social Media Blueprint For Business” a digital marketing planning tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She’s been featured in numerous media outlets including and the 40 under 40. She’s also the host of a weekly radio show that hit over a million downloads at the beginning of 2015. As a mother of two young children she knows there’s no time to mess around. It’s time to Make It Happen. (Michelle’s motivational book “Make It Happen – The Success Practices for Peak Performers” will be out in 2015. Sign up for the Make It Happen Toolkit and you’ll be first to hear about it’s release!)

WHY Lady Gaga CRUSHED IT During the Oscars 2015 and Why It Should Matter to You

I haven’t seen the Oscars yet.  As an avid movie goer, I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t even looked up the winners.  However, after oodles of social media posts, I finally Googled “Lady Gaga Oscars 2015” and like everyone else I was BLOWN AWAY.

Immediately, I realized why this is such a powerful display and a few things we can ALL learn from Sunday night’s performance. (If you haven’t seen it click the picture to see the full official video.)

Lady Gaga's Stunning Oscar Performance 2015

Lady Gaga’s Stunning Oscar Performance 2015

Most importantly, it’s okay (and AWESOME) to show a different, authentic side of yourself.  After hosting my radio show Make It Happen for over a year, I had the opportunity to meet with a listener.  During our candid conversation and visit she said, “I had no idea you were funny!” I didn’t know if I should be offended or to laugh, but it was a very interesting insight.  She was an avid listener of my show and went on to say that she had gleaned a lot of great information, yet, she wondered why I didn’t share more of my personal, humorous side.  If I’m being candid, that awareness led me to uncover a deep rooted fear that I couldn’t be professional AND funny.  In an effort have people take me seriously, I let go of a piece of me that is an important part of who I am.  I still struggle with this from time to time, but every time I share an appropriate personal story (most often, something wildy embarrassing I’ve done) or talk about sweat tacos, I feel more at ease, and I feel like I’m shedding a shell that needs to be cracked.

That said, I feel the need to throw out a word of caution:  this is not an open invitation to be overly personal.  I loved the distinction Ann Handley, author of the bestselling book “The Content Rules” gives on this subject.  She said, “There’s a difference between being personal and being personable.”  Share the pieces of you that fans will want to relate to you and keep your dirty laundry (and string of complaints) in the closet.

While I believe that Lady Gaga is already authentic as a popular musician, this other side of her shows her multifaceted artistry and talent.  Let’s all share more sides of our true selves so people can appreciate who we are on multiple levels.  Join me?

Second, taking a strategic risk is always good.  I’m not saying to go out and make stupid decisions, though if I’m honest, some of my stupidest decisions taught me the most.  I’m on the cusp of releasing a published book, rolling out a new season of my radio show and have some projects begging to come out.  I’m feeling vulnerable and nervous and excited.  I’ve got that tightening in my chest that is half so excited it could burst and half worried if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life.   I’ve learned that opportunities abound and the gap between the ones the reach their dreams and the ones that don’t are the ones willing to take a risk.

Life is full of these Make It Happen Moments….a fork in the road where we get to decide: Am I going to play it safe, or am I going to do something I’ve never done to get results I haven’t yet gotten (as the old addage says)?

It’s time, my friends.  It’s time to create Your Make It Happen Moments that determine your future and your dreams.  You’ve probably already had some of those moments, and you’ll probably have some more.  Will you share yours?  I’d love to feature your story-your make it happen moment on my radio show and through this site.  Email us at <inquiry> @ <speakmichelle> dot com.

Michelle McCullough ThumbnailBestselling author, Michelle McCullough is also a sought after business strategist and speaker. She’s the creator of “The Marketing Playbook” a digital marketing planning tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She’s been featured in numerous media outlets including and the 40 under 40.  She’s also the host of a weekly radio show.  As a mother of two young children she knows there’s no time to mess around.  It’s time to Make It Happen.   (Michelle’s motivational book “Make It Happen – The Success Practices for Peak Performers” will be out in 2015.  Sign up for the Make It Happen Toolkit and you’ll be first to hear about it’s release!)

Make It Happen – 17 Practices for Peak Performance

What could you accomplish if you had no limits? We personally build most of the fences that pen us in and keep us from success. Find out how to recognize and remove the thoughts and behaviors that hold you back, and then watch as you open yourself up to a new world of possibility.

If the only way to get results is to commit to change, then the only way you can truly change is by accepting responsibility for your actions. Take the first step to put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life.

Too many people don’t chase their dreams because they don’t feel ready, or are waiting for permission to go after them. Circumstances will never be perfect. You will never eliminate all your fears and doubts. You won’t always have a cheering section. Even so, when you learn to act on your dreams, you find the power to move forward was within you the whole time.

Is there something you were born to do? Are you doing it? Getting clear on what you want to accomplish in life is important, but figuring out why you want to do it will change everything.

The planning process comes easily for some, while others continuously struggle with it. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, these four simple practices will help you chart your daily and long-range course.

There are pitfalls and time traps all along the road to productivity. Learn to identify a few of them, and find out how to keep yourself from falling victim so you can make more things happen on a consistent basis.

In the hustle and bustle of getting things done, it’s easy to feel overworked and constantly in a rush. What is success if you pay for it by sacrificing your sense of inner peace? A few simple changes to your daily routine can help you keep your sanity while maintaining your levels of productivity.

The true secret to success is to never stop trying. Many of the historical “greats” faced countless failures before they ever knew triumph. The trick lies in knowing how to learn from failure so it pushes you closer to achieving your goals.

When you base your happiness on things that come and go, the joy of the moment never lasts long. Trips, promotions, houses, cars, or even current circumstances are often temporary and fleeting. There are reasons to be happy all around you every day, if you simply learn to recognize them.

Being flexible in the business world is about more than simply going with the flow. If you want to stay at the top of your game, you must constantly change with times. That means learning to incorporate continuing education into your routine and scheduling ways to keep current with technology, innovations, and trends, without letting it affect your productivity.

People Centric
No matter what industry your job focuses on, you’re in the people business. The way you treat others, and the way you respond to how they treat you, can make or break your company. This code of conduct will guide you into positive interactions that will impact your life and work in uplifting ways.

Power Team
People need people. This is just as true in the business world as it is in your personal life. When you learn to recognize the three levels of support, you can identify the types of doers, champions, and guides you have on your side, and begin to fill areas where you may need more bolstering.

Do you know how to ask for help or delegate a task effectively, or does your communication sometimes fall flat? This simple four step formula will help you clearly convey your message so you can enlist the help you need to get the job done.

We typically think of pride as being a bad thing, but there are really two different kinds of pride—cockiness and confidence. Someone who is prideful thinks they are better than others, but someone who has pride is sure of their abilities and takes ownership of their work. Developing positive pride will help you become a peak performer.

Physical Health
If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, your company doesn’t work if you don’t. So taking care of your health isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity. When you take time to implement some simple daily routines (hint: it’s about more than just hitting the gym), you will find yourself feeling better and accomplishing more.

All work and no play makes Jack a burned out boy. If you eat, sleep, and drink your career, maybe it’s time you made room for some fun in your world. The fact is, you don’t have to choose between a thriving career and a meaningful personal life. You can have both when you learn how to make use of a little life prioritization.

Plastic Bag Principle
Sometimes life’s journey is messy. We each get bumped and bruised along the way, and every time it happens, we add something else to the baggage we all carry with us. You can choose to let your baggage hold you back, or you can make it part of your story and use it to propel you on to success.

Get the intro to Michelle’s book “Make It Happen” on Amazon.

Michelle McCullough HeadshotBestselling author, Michelle McCullough is the Managing Director of Startup Princess and is a sought after business strategist and speaker. She’s the creator of “The Marketing Playbook” a digital marketing planning tool for entrepreneurs and small businesses. She’s been featured in numerous media outlets including and featured in the 40 under 40.  She’s also the host of a weekly radio show.  As a mother of two young children she knows there’s no time to mess around.  It’s time to Make It Happen.   (Michelle’s motivational book “Make It Happen – The Success Practices for Peak Performers” will be out in early 2015.  Sign up for the Make It Happen Toolkit and you’ll be first to hear about it’s release!)




Super Bowl 2015 Commercials – Top Picks from Two Folks Who Don't Care Who Wins The "Big Game"

It’s been a sporty week here.  Yesterday, LeBron James followed me on Twitter.  Sunday was the Super Bowl.  If I’m being honest, I didn’t know who was playing against the Seahawks until the week before.   I don’t care who wins but have recorded the game every year to fast forward to the commercials.  (Grateful for YouTube – now I don’t even have to record the game!)  As a marketing junkie, I love to see the best (and the worst) money can buy.

My husband, an advertising enthusiast and Public Relations graduate always sends a post-Super Bowl commentary via email to family and friends.  This year, I felt like his comments and selections were spot on so I’m giving him a spotlight on the world wide web.

The comments following are both witty and direct.  The words are his. I take no credit for his humor or vocabulary.

Here he goes:

As most of you know by now, I watch the Super Bowl primarily for the commercials.  I figure if they’re going to spend millions, we can at least laugh at them (pun intended).  Below are my favorites and/or the most notable for 2015.  Please enjoy responsibly.
—  BMW knocked it out of the park!  Yes, I know that’s a baseball reference and these are football commercials, but you get my point.  Watch Here (Michelle’s 2015 Pick)

—  Esurance certainly drove home their point using Lindsay Lohan in their “Sorta Like You” ad series.  It was funny and well executed.  I must say that Ms. Lohan’s face looks atrocious, but then again they do admit that she is “high-mileage.”  Watch Here

—  Nationwide immediately came under heavy fire for their commercial featuring dead kids.  They quickly explained that they were trying to start a conversation, not sell insurance.  I wonder if it was worth the $6.75M they paid for it.  As a PR grad, I simply cannot believe it ever made it on the air:  Watch Here.  That unfortunately overshadowed their other $6.75M ad spot, which was actually quite good:  > This link has since broken and we can’t find the Mindy Kaling commercial WITH Matt Damon anywhere.  Is it gone?

—  Snickers certainly satisfied with this one.  Nostalgia + Funny is hard to beat.  Watch here

—  Leave it to the Italians, who proudly gave us the classiest penis joke of the year.  And yes, I realize that’s an oxymoron.  Europeans…  Watch here

—  As a frequent flyer, I found this one hilarious. Oh, so clever:  Watch here

—  Mercedes-Benz turned out another solid ad this year:  Watch here  However, As a die-hard Mercedes buff (yes, that’s my email address) I wish they would occasionally do another ad like this one, perhaps the most powerful commercial they’ve ever made: Watch here

—  So, in an effort to distinguish the new “bolder” Camry from the blandness of all the previous Camrys, they decided to make a tear-jerker for the Super Bowl?  Does crying in your bean dip equal boldness?  Watch here  I still think the best Camry commercial was 3 years ago:  Watch here

—  Budweiser: “Our beer is not for the thinking, discerning types.  Our beer is for getting drunk and not caring what it tastes like.”  I guess they know their target market:  Watch here

—  I don’t care who you are, watching people get hit on the head and fall down is always funny.  Watch here

—  Carnival Cruise Lines actually titled this commercial “Come Back to the Sea.”  Did anyone else catch the desperation here?  “Yes, we know our ships stink and even sometimes sink, but come back, come back… please come back:  Watch here

—  I found this one very clever.  Who knew that a vegetable (or a fruit, depending on who you believe) from another country had a $9M advertising budget?  That’s a lot of pesos:  Watch here

—  Very clever and amazingly simple to produce (just some text and a couple animal videos).  Hats off to Sprint:  Watch here

—  McDonald’s showed sheer advertising brilliance here.  However, in my opinion, if you truly want to show your family you love them, don’t eat at McDonald’s.  Watch here

Thanks for reading and watching til the end!

Carry on to your next find on the internet…



To Read, or Not to Read…

This is a picture of me and my Christmas haul.  My husband enjoys cleaning out my

reading, seth godin, christmas gifts, amazon wish wish list and I enjoy receiving things I picked out (don’t get me wrong, I also love a good surprise!).  This year I got a lot of books.  I love to read.  LOVE IT.  However, as a busy entrepreneur and mom of 2 young kids, I don’t seem to have the time that I would like to read all the books on my list.  In fact, since Christmas, I’ve really only finished 1 of the books in that stack.  Some of have been thumbed through and some are half finished (do you ever have multiple books going?).  Not to mention the fact that my book list grows by 1 or 2 a week, but I’m not reading them that quickly.

Lately, I have been loving audio books.  I spend a fair amount of time in the car so I can consume books quicker if I can have a listen instead of having to sneak into the bathroom and lock the door for 10 minutes so that I can get through another chapter in my current book.  I don’t have a Kindle, but I do take a book everywhere I go so that if I’m sitting at a doctors appointment or waiting somewhere I always have something to do.

How do you consume your books?  Listen?  Read good, old fashioned books?  Carry around a Kindle?

Happy Wednesday!


Comparison Equals Despair

Ever had one of those moments where someone says something to you and a light bulb goes on?  It happened to me last year when my business coach Tiffany Peterson said to me, “Comparison equals despair.”

In 2010, I went in search of Life Balance and found that Life Balance was a myth.  That year long process turned me into a better coach and consultant, resulted in creating two live events on the subject and ultimately led to the creation of my product The Life Balance Myth that ships out in May.

In 2011, I went in search of MY path and gave up on what everyone else was doing.  It’s so easy to look at other successful people and say, “What am I doing wrong?  Why can’t I be like that?” And then either try hard to be like THEM (instead of themselves) or go into a pit of despair that ultimately sucks all the energy out and there’s no room for growth and preservation.  I’ve done both of the above.  I’ve always been so worried that I was doing something wrong that I stopped trying at times.

The truth is, I don’t have to be the next Brendon Burchard, Jack Canfield, Oprah or Tiffany Peterson.  I have to be me: Michelle McCullough.  My path, course and outcomes will be very different than theirs, but if I spend all my time comparing myself, I’ll never be me because I’m too worried about being them.

Here’s the other thing about comparisons, our perspective is skewed:

One of the reasons why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our-behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reel.
– Pastor Steven Furtick

Isn’t that juicy?

Our side by side comparisons are not apples to apples.  What we see is not reality, its only the highlights of someone’s life compared to the whole picture of ours.

Finally, you need to check with our intuition and find out the path that’s right for you.  I’m a huge fan of Brendon Burchard’s.  He set a path in his book “The Millionaire Messenger” for a coach/author/speaker to make a million dollars in a year.  When you read it, it’s so straight forward that you can say, “I could do that.”  And in reality, anyone dedicated to doing the work probably could.  Who doesn’t want a million bucks?!

Then, I thought to myself, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  I’m in a different stage in my life, and I’m secure with that.  I have two little kids that I want to give more attention to them than I could if I did that plan at this point in my life.  So, I said to myself, “How about a million in five years,” and that resonated with me.

The bottom line is it’s your life, not theirs.  I’m all about mentors, and role models.  I’m all about coaches and trail blazers that help put you on the right path for you, but again it’s YOUR path.  You decide the pace.  You decide the destination and you decide the journey.

Embrace YOUR life, and enjoy the peace that comes from following your own path.

Happy Thursday,