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Success Story Podcast

Melissa Urban – Co-Founder & CEO of the Whole30 Program | Addiction, Boundaries, Business & Health

By April 17, 2022January 18th, 2023No Comments

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About The Guest

Melissa Urban is the co-founder and CEO of the Whole30 program, and a six-time New York Times bestselling author. 

She has been featured by Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, People, and Forbes; and ranks #19 on Greatist’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 02:26 — Melissa Urban’s origin story
  • 04:31 — Why did Melissa start a health and wellness business?
  • 07:41 — Why do people have such a hard time finding the right diet plan?
  • 11:04 — The importance of self-awareness
  • 16:42 — Melissa’s personal journey with nutrition and energy levels
  • 20:58 — Overcoming addiction and recovering
  • 25:58 — Setting boundaries before you fail
  • 31:20 — Adopting a single-elimination framework for your business
  • 33:15 — Business frameworks for success
  • 36:48 — Advice for people starting their own company
  • 38:25 — How to make sure you’re a great CEO
  • 41:02 — The best hiring and people strategy
  • 43:15 — How to build a community around your business
  • 46:09 — Where do people connect with Melissa Urban
  • 47:00 — What was the biggest challenge Melissa Urban ever faced and how did she overcome it?
  • 47:28 — Melissa Urban’s mentor
  • 48:10 — Melissa Urban’s book or podcast recommendation
  • 49:00 — What would Melissa Urban tell her 20-year-old self?
  • 49:21 — What does success mean to Melissa Urban?

Show Links

Podcast & Newsletter Sponsors


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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.









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Machine Generated Transcript


people, started, experiment, cold showers, life, boundaries, hiring, feel, diet, community, healthy, food, recovery, podcast, talking, incredibly, self awareness, day, entrepreneurs, early


Scott, Scott D Clary, Melissa Urban



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Scott D Clary  00:35

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot podcast network, as well as the blue wire Podcast Network. Now the HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible shows like the martec podcast hosted by Benjamin Shapiro. The mahr tech podcast is all about maximum value in 30 minutes or less. The mahr tech podcast share stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success on your lunch break. If you like any of these topics, you’re going to love the mahr tech podcast. Some of the topics are zeroing in on the ideal product price point. Identifying loyalty plays for smart marketers, finding the line between sales and marketing and SAS extending the lifetime value of your customer. If these are topics that are interesting to you, go check out the mahr tech podcast hosted by Ben Shapiro. Wherever you get your podcasts. Today, my guest is Melissa urban. Melissa is the co founder and CEO of the whole 30 program. She’s a six time New York Times best selling author. She’s been featured by Dr. Oz Good Morning America, The New York Times The Wall Street Journal, people Forbes, and ranks a number 19 on greatest top 100 Most Influential People in health and fitness. We spoke about her entrepreneurial journey we spoke about her addiction and recovery. We spoke about her launching hole 30 We spoke about some of the lessons that she’s learned by implementing health 30 in her own life and some of the things that people can experience optimizing their cravings, rebalancing their hormones, curing digestive issues, improving medical conditions, all the things that come with the elimination diet that now is world renowned. We also spoke about some of her mindset, some of her mindset topics including habits, boundaries, healthy entrepreneur, and especially given the context of her addiction and recovery. And we spoke about some business lessons, how she is the best possible CEO, how she serves her team, how she finds the best talent, how she builds community, all things that she’s done at whole 30 exceptionally well. So let’s jump right into it. This is Melissa Urban. She’s the co founder and CEO of whole 38.


Melissa Urban  02:57

Thank you so much for having me. So my name is Melissa Urban. I am the whole 30 Co Founder and CEO hold 30 is a 30 day dietary reset program. Maybe your listeners have heard of it at this point. You know, the whole 30 really started with me after I got out of rehab for my drug addiction, which is not typically a story I think that people would expect from someone who’s been in health and fitness for over a decade at this point. But I spent about five years of my life in college and after college addicted to drugs and went to rehab twice. And in my recovery the second time realized that I really needed to change basically everything about my life if I was going to maintain my recovery, that it wasn’t enough to just stop using drugs and keep everything else the same. And that’s when I you know, I changed my friend group I got a new job I moved I changed the music I listened to and the clothes I wore and that’s when I started getting into health and fitness. I decided if I was going to reinvent myself as a healthy person with healthy habits, like what would that healthy person with healthy habits do? And one of the things I decided is that I would start getting up at five in the morning to go to the gym every morning before work. I went five days a week. And I you know, when I got to the gym, I realized that it was a chance for me to kind of adopt this growth mindset and reinvent myself people at the gym didn’t know my history. They didn’t know that a month ago I was in rehab for my drug addiction. They just knew that I was a gym goer just like everyone else first thing in the morning before work. So going to the gym thinking about my eating starting to eat more whole, you know unprocessed foods back in the day. It was a lot of low fat dairy and whole grains and fitness type shakes and bars but I was at least paying attention to what I ate and that was really how my journey into the whole 30 and helping people with everything from boundaries and changing their diet. And, you know, starting Health and Fitness and Self improvement, that’s kind of really where it all started. Amazing.


Scott D Clary  05:07

And that’s what and, and that’s what led to this is the current version of your business now, which is which is hold 30, which is highly successful, like my girlfriend knows that I’ve heard about it a lot like she’s, she’s done it. So I know that this is not a this is a very competitive space to and I guess I’m trying to understand why you decided to build a business in this space. What was that first? What was that first thing that lit a fire in you and you thought to yourself, I’m gonna go and build a business in the health and wellness and nutrition and fitness space, even though there’s like, unlimited amounts of people that are already doing this. Some version of this right? Yeah,


Melissa Urban  05:45

yeah. Um, well, I didn’t, I never decided that I was going to start a business and health and fitness that’s not at all how it, it happened. And maybe I’m grateful for it. Because the competition or the idea of, you know, having to get it off its feet might have been a little intimidating. I was heavily into CrossFit at the time. So I ran my own CrossFit, gym and CrossFit. This was way before kind of definitely way before Instagram and kind of in the earliest days of Facebook, where forums were the way that people connected. This was 2006 2007 for oh, yeah, old school. We’re talking Yeah, we’re talking, you know, 1520 years ago, 15, more than 15 years ago. So anyway, I ran this CrossFit gym, we were incredibly well connected through the forum. And, and when I did this kind of whole 30, the very first of all, 30 was April 2009. And it was two people, my co founder and I as a little self experiment after a really tough CrossFit workout. We were sitting around and he kind of posited to me like, what if we did this super kind of squeaky clean, based on a paleo framework dietary experiment where we kind of stripped out all of the stuff and I was eating Thin Mints at the time, as he was talking to me about this, like straight out of the sleeve. And we started that day, literally, that moment, I gave my Thin Mints to my friend Zack. And I was like, Yeah, let’s do this self experiment. And because I had such an incredibly profound and dramatic transformation in terms of my health, my habits, but most particularly my emotional relationship with food, and my relationship with the body, my body and the scale over this 30 days, I decided to write about it. And I said to a friend of mine, I’m gonna write about this. I had incredible results. Do you think anybody would care or like want to do it? And she said, Yeah, I think some people wouldn’t. So I wrote about it on my little CrossFit training blog, and a couple 100 people at the time were like, Yeah, I’d follow along. And that was really held a whole 30 started, I didn’t intend to build a business on this self experiment, I just knew that I had done something and it had this amazing transformation. And then when a few 100, people came back and said, we had equally stunning transformations, maybe different, they looked a little different than yours, but like equally stunning, so many overlaps. I was like, Okay, let’s see if we can share this more widely. And that was really how it started. I never set out with this intention to build a business, I didn’t necessarily want to work for myself, I had a really good full time job at the time. But this became something that I was so incredibly passionate about. And when I saw the power and the impact it could have, I naturally wanted to spend more and more of my time in this space. And that’s how it grew.


Scott D Clary  08:17

Let’s talk about a couple of I want to talk about mindset in a couple different contexts. But let’s let’s stay like down this lane right now. I think the mindsets interesting and the psychology of take starting a new diet of adhering to a diet of being successful and changing your life and whole 30 is not just a diet by any means it’s meant to change your life. But why do people have such a hard time finding something that works for them that they can actually incorporate into their life as opposed to a short term, like a quick fix,


Melissa Urban  08:48

because everything that has been marketed to us up until this point, going back to my mom’s generation, and maybe even prior has been dieting for weight loss, that’s all there is if you want to change the food that you put on your plate, media and the diet, industry and society and pressures from the patriarchy and you name it has been telling us for decades, the only reason we want to change the food we put on our plate is to lose weight to make ourselves smaller. That’s it. So every resource that’s been given to us every philosophy, every dietary plan is incredibly perspective prescriptive. This is how you should eat, incredibly demanding, you’re going to eat and we’re going to like limit what you eat, how much you eat, you’re gonna count and track and weigh and measure and whatever, because you want to make yourself smaller. There’s very little support in the program itself. You rely basically just on like willpower and white knuckling your way through it and disconnecting from your body and all of your bodily cues that are saying, I’m hungry, I don’t have a lot of energy. Maybe you should eat more you disconnect from all of that in order to be successful. And then when you’re done the diet just drops you off and says like okay, cool. You’re at your goal right now. Everything This fix everything is wonderful, you’ve completely changed your life. And what people have discovered is that like a, it doesn’t stick because you haven’t built any new sustainable habits during that period. You’ve calorically restricted, which leads to this rebound effect. Obviously, weight loss, diets don’t work. But there hasn’t been anything else up until this point, you know, dietitians will tell you that there is no one size fits all approach to diet, everyone has to figure out what works for them. And people relate to that they go, Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Of course, there is no one size fits all, how do I figure out what works for me, and whole 30 is really the answer to that how we are not a prescriptive program. We’re not a weight loss diet, we don’t count calories, or restrict calories, or measure or track. We are a 30 day self experiment designed to teach people how the foods they’ve been eating work in their unique context. And I think that’s what makes the program different. And I think that’s what people gravitate to this idea that we’re not telling them what they should be eating forever, because I don’t know that. And we’re telling them a take a really well deserved break from a preoccupation with a scale and your body weight and tying your worth and your value to that number. And I’m going to get you back in touch with your body, learning to trust your body again, and your own hunger and satiety mechanisms and your own kind of why you’re eating and the fact that food isn’t just fuel, how to get back in touch with the idea that food is it can be love and nurturing and family and culture, but how to do that in a way that serves you not in a way that takes you back into that old diet mentality.


Scott D Clary  11:41

I think that one of the things that I found really interesting with with whole 30 is that it forces you to have an extreme amount of self awareness, which is just a really good skill in anything in business in life and you and your health and well being. So how do how do you and I want you to explain it because I can definitely understand as I start to understand, and I’ve seen it, someone actually do the diet, I don’t want to call it diet, the program, excuse me or whatever, whatever you want to call it. But if somebody does it, like the amount of self awareness that they develop for the foods that they’re going into their body is incredible. And that’s why when you start to look at the different components of it, it focuses on hormones, rebalancing hormones, digestive issues, like so many different things that are not just scale weight and physique and looking in the mirror, right? So walk me through the importance of self awareness. Why do people lack this? Why do people generally go through their day without understanding what they’re putting into their body? How their body reacts to it? Even if there’s a negative reaction? Is there a psychological reason why even when we feel like shit, after we eat something, we eat it again, the next week? Like, what is this phenomenon? And I don’t understand it. And I’m sure you’ve studied it, or you’ve you’ve tried to figure it out somehow, because that’s really what you’re doing. You’re resetting people, so that they can tap into what impacts them.


Melissa Urban  13:02

Yeah, I mean, I wrote I’ve written chapters about this absolutely, like in my first book, so a lot of it is there is some psychological component to it. When you think about the foods that we’re eating in today’s modern world, they are super normally stimulating, calorie, dense, nutrient poor, designed to make us crave and over consume them. Tapping into these like old kind of biological signals that say, when we taste sugar, we want more of it, because it’s quick and easy energy. And, you know, back in our ancestors days, we didn’t always have access to all have these, you know, really calorie dense foods. So when we came across them, we ate them. And we have all of those ancient signals in today’s modern world. And so we end up craving and over consuming. And then again, because of diet, culture, and the media’s influence and societal pressures, we feel guilty when we over consume, and it leads to isolation and stress. And that stress cycle makes us want to consume even more. So we do get stuck in this like endless loop. And when I tell people like it’s not your fault, the foods have been designed for you to get stuck in this loop. They almost feel a little bit better, like Okay, great. I thought I was crazy. So there is a psychological component to it. There’s also a physiological component where you know, if you have a tree outside your house, and you’re a little bit allergic to it, every morning, you wake up and your eyes are a little itchy and you’re a little stuffy and a little congested, that becomes your norm. That’s just normal. You don’t even notice that you don’t feel great until you go on vacation. And you wake up without that foliage and all of a sudden you wake up and you’re able to breathe and your eyes aren’t itching. You’re like wow, I didn’t realize what I was missing. So many of us are walking around with just digestive issues that we just take as normal, or allergies or aches and pains or the 2pm energy slump. We just don’t associate kind of those feelings with like being abnormal and until we’re able to achieve a new baseline for normal We don’t realize how poorly we feel. In addition, it’s kind of a hard sell sometimes to tell people, hey, the whole wheat bread on your plate may be contributing to like your shoulder ache and pain, right? If you tell someone who’s coughing, maybe you should stop smoking. They’re like, yeah, right, I see that. But if you tell someone like my mom who is suffering from terrible chronic shoulder inflammation, maybe you should stop eating, you know, gluten and dairy for like a week or two and see if that helps. She’s like, I don’t get it. I don’t make that connection. So there are a lot of reasons why we walk around not particularly self aware about how the food we’re eating is impacting us not to mention the



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Melissa Urban  16:42

influence of health culture that tells us with green checkmarks and organic and gluten free labels that it’s like automatically healthy. There are so many reasons why. And until we do a structured, carefully designed self experiment like the whole 30 We can’t achieve that new kind of baseline for normal. We don’t have a mechanism for testing how different foods impact us even the healthy things and curating our diets such that we are not introducing things that are contributing to allergies or shoulder pain or energy slumps. Like we don’t have a method to do that. Except for maybe the whole 30 right now.


Scott D Clary  17:19

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Melissa Urban  19:03

Oh, yeah. So just to be clear, the whole 30 is based on the framework of an elimination diet. So you already mentioned that for 30 days, you’re going to take foods out of your diet, foods that are commonly problematic. And the areas you mentioned your cravings and relationship with food, your blood sugar regulation and metabolism, your digestion and your immune system, you’re going to pull those things out for 30 days and see what happens. What happens to your sleep, your energy levels, your mood, your focus, your digestion, your cravings, aches and pains, et cetera. Then at the end of those 30 days, you bring those food groups back in one at a time very carefully and systematically like a scientific experiment. And you see what changes. So it’s a very targeted approach to help you figure out which food groups may or which foods individually may or may not work for you. When I did my first full 30 I was eating a lot of low fat dairy, a lot of whole grains, a lot of like I mentioned like fitness products like bars and whey protein shakes. So I moved to an essentially whole foods diet. It wasn’t dramatically different from what I had been eating. I was already eating pretty healthy. And I didn’t really think that I had any issues. I was really looking to see if that improved performance and recovery in the gym. On day 14, I woke up feeling like the Energizer Bunny, I had no idea that my energy was fluctuating so much during the day because I was just propping it up like at 2pm with like another cup of coffee, or candy bar, like just something little Olara bar, for example, something little that would like help me get my energy back up. I would wake up feeling so energetic and that energy would be completely steady all day long. My sleep got so much better. And I didn’t realize that I wasn’t sleeping well. I thought I was sleeping. Okay, I went to bed early, I woke up early to go to the gym. I started sleeping like a baby. My sleep was so much deeper and so much more restorative and I began waking up without an alarm. I still don’t use an alarm to this day, I wake up at the same time. Every morning like clockwork, my mood improved. So people at work, were noticing like, what have you been doing? Like I was friendlier. I was more interested in what other people had going on, I went out of my way to be more social, which was very surprising for me. But I think the most important thing was that I realized through this experiment due to a lack of the foods that I would normally use to comfort myself that I didn’t really have any other coping mechanisms. I used food, and occasionally drank like wine for just about everything, to reward myself, to punish myself to self soothe to relieve anxiety to relieve boredom to show myself love. I didn’t know what else to do. And in the absence of those foods, I developed other coping mechanisms, I leaned more on my friends and talked more about my feelings. I spent more time with my feelings going Why am I feeling so unsettled right now and had really productive conversations with my therapist. It was the first time in my life that I disconnected from the scale in a in a really profound way. I no longer worried about how much I weighed, I didn’t step on the scale for months after my first whole 30. And I was like a daily weigh in person. And I realized that like it didn’t matter, nothing that I was experiencing could be measured on that scale. And it didn’t really matter what I said if all of these other factors in my life were improving, including my gym performance and recovery. So it when I say it profoundly and permanently transformed my relationship with food. I’m not kidding, those benefits have all carried through to this day. And 12 years later, I’ve done multiple hold 30s and I’ve learned so much more about food and what does and what doesn’t work for me. And I never have to do another whole 30 Again, because now my own personal individual kind of food freedom diet is so dialed in that I don’t need another reset, which feels really good.


Scott D Clary  22:41

Amazing. Okay, I want to I want to pull some mindset in some, some entrepreneur, some some just personal mindset things out of you, because you’ve had an interesting, entrepreneurial journey. Coming from your background, with addiction with recovery. I always find that an interesting topic, because this was actually previous This was before you became an entrepreneur and you started your own company, I’ve always actually found that sometimes entrepreneurs that are a little bit too stressed out also go down this path while they’re actually building something. But it’s another conversation. So how did how did you overcome addiction? How did you recover? How did you potentially leverage that in building what you’re doing in terms of mindset in terms of willpower? Talk, talk to me about that. I think that’s a really important lesson as well.


Melissa Urban  23:30

Yeah, I mentioned that the first time I went to rehab, it didn’t stick. I was I was in recovery for a year. And then I relapsed. And I realized now in retrospect, that I just, I didn’t have any boundaries around my recovery, I didn’t have any limits with anybody else or myself to keep me safe and healthy. And I didn’t really do anything, I didn’t change my life, the only thing I did was like took away the drugs. And what I realized is that if you try to like pull that weed out of the ground, and you don’t plant something else, it’s just gonna grow back. So the second time I entered recovery, that was when I really developed what I now know is this growth mindset, right? I didn’t know what it was at the time or have the verbiage for it, but instead of constantly telling myself that I was just like unworthy and unlovable and not a good person because of my addiction and the way I had behaved, which was my story. I decided that I was now as of this moment, healthy person with healthy habits, and I looked for evidence to support that. So again, I would go to the gym because that was what a healthy person with healthy habits would do. I would go to bed early when I was making decisions at work about what to eat or whether to go out after work. And, you know, I would go out with people but just tell them I wasn’t drinking and or I don’t drink and that was something a healthy person would do. I would go and socialize and get the benefits. But I wouldn’t drink alcohol which I know was not healthy for me. So I approached it with a growth mindset that with hard work and and tenacity, I could become this person and in fact, I already was that person and I I embraced it and looked for evidence to support it, which is a very, now I understand like strong psychological model where it can work in your favor or it can be kind of disfavors, but I had it work in my favor. When I started my entrepreneurship journey, I was still very black or white, on or off, I was an abstainer, not a moderator, I didn’t do moderation very well at all. It really took me years of therapy and working on myself, to get to a place where I could balance things in moderation, instead of being either all the way on or all the way off. Early in my entrepreneurship journey, it served me in a way, because I was incredibly passionate and tenacious about making turning 30 into something continuing to. And again, I wasn’t thinking about it, like, I want to grow this business, it was how can I help more people have this experience. So I would come home from my nine to five job. And if someone had asked me a question on in comments, like, oh, what can I do about this, I’d stay up and write an entire blog post just for them and post it the next day, I was so busy creating resources, and answering questions and connecting with people and thinking about how to make the program better. And that was my kind of, you know, black or white on or off persona. I quickly burned out, of course, which is something that happens to a lot of early entrepreneurs, and I had the benefit of having a few friends and my therapist, like really tell me, you are not serving anybody by running yourself into the ground in order like, you know, give back to this community. And I enacted some boundaries with myself around my morning routine, especially that really helped me rein that back in and begin to kind of fill my own cup or pay myself first in my entrepreneur journey. I’m so grateful that that happened early on, that was like 2011, only about, you know, two years after my first full 30. But that taught me a lot about how I needed to show up for myself, so that I could show up for my community. So I think I have a lot of stories like that, where my history with addiction and recovery served the whole 30 in a lot of ways, there’s a lot of recovery language and the whole 30 support, if you read it, and you are in recovery, you’re you’ve been to AAA or NA, you’re gonna recognize a lot of that language, which was completely subconscious, I didn’t realize and there’s a lot of tough love in that program as well heavier on the left now than it used to be. But you know, I want to remind people that they’ve done really hard things in this lifetime. And this, you are a very worthy cause to commit these 30 days to. But there’s always this pattern of realizing that in order for me to be truly healthy in this journey, and to help people through this journey, I also have to learn to show myself grace and be softer and be more empathetic. And I couldn’t always be 100% on or 100% off. So that’s been a pattern, I think throughout my entrepreneur ring.


Scott D Clary  27:41

And I I’m starting to pick up on like common themes, like you speak a lot about boundaries about healthy, not just healthy living, but like healthy professionalism, healthy entrepreneurship, self awareness is another one that comes up a lot. Just to double down on boundaries, because I think that’s, I think, at some point, most entrepreneurs hopefully will achieve some level of self awareness just because they’ll if they are successful, to figure out what’s working and what’s not. But I think that, and I could be wrong, as a generalization. But I also do believe that more than self awareness, people have a lot of trouble with boundaries. I think that’s something that people can go through their entire life without setting proper boundaries. And I also think that entrepreneurs may be better at setting boundaries in their business, but not in their personal life. So and it’s funny how it’s funny how you feel like, you know, you have to set boundaries, and you should set boundaries and both to be successful. But I think the people that hurt the most are the people that are the people pleasers go over the top to get everything done for everyone. And you can work yourself and it’s just a matter of time. So you said till you burn out, but you obviously don’t want to hit that ceiling. Right? So how do you if you are a people pleaser, but you haven’t burned out yet? What would be your advice for somebody just to sort of maybe look forward in their future a little bit and, and to understand that the path they’re going down is not the healthiest path? If they are trying to do everything for everyone, like you were? How did they set those boundaries early on, before they before they ultimately fail and crash and burn?


Melissa Urban  29:15

And burn out? Yeah, I think entrepreneurs are actually some of the worst at setting boundaries at work. And I think it’s because of the entrepreneur hustle culture. There’s the hustle culture that tells us that like when you are resting or taking a break or taking a day off or somebody else somebody else is always working harder than you. It’s the like, I’ll sleep when I’m dead hustle 24/7 culture that’s like burned into entrepreneurs that I’m seeing start to change now. But not quick enough. And this is especially prevalent with women, especially mothers who are you know, ain’t part of this entrepreneur culture, but then also like have to show up at work, but then also have to manage a household and take care of their kids and like they can’t win either way. If they focus on their kids, they’re not fulfilling their career if they focus on their career, they’re neglecting their kids, there’s a lot of pressure out there. In addition, there’s now especially with social media, this kind of like FOMO feeling where you can see what everybody else is doing. And you can get so caught up in your competition, and what they’re doing and where they’re going that it can like completely derail you off of your own path. And make you feel like you have to say yes to every person take every call, except every job goat go the extra mile, even when it’s completely unreasonable, because there’s three more people in the wings waiting to take that client or waiting to take your audience or that job. So I think it’s hard now, for entrepreneurs to set boundaries. And as you mentioned, we’re not taught how to set boundaries, we are not taught at school, we’re not taught in college. It’s not part of any, you know, workplace curriculum. And very often, we weren’t modeled boundaries at home by our families. So it’s really hard to learn how to set them. I think learning to recognize the signs of burnout early are incredibly important. It’s that just, you know, dreading going into the office when you used to love it. Feeling like work is sucking so much of your time and energy that you can’t show up for your partner or fun things outside of your life. It’s the physical aspects of, you know, being exhausted all the time and feeling tired, but wired at night, there are so many signs of burnout. But I think this concept of paying yourself first is one that entrepreneurs need to learn to embrace. If your goal is to grow your business and give back to your team, your community, your customers, you can’t do that if you are pouring from an empty cup. And the only way you can do that and do that sustainably and be able to support periods of hustle, there will always be periods of hustle in any business time when the project has to get done. You said yes to that thing that feels scary. It’s tax season or whole 30 season or whatever, there will always be periods of hustle. And if you’re going to survive those, you kind of like stocks and resources ahead of time. Because if you go into those with your battery on the read, that’s it. And it takes so much longer to recover than it does just to slowly fill your own cup. And I’m talking about that from both an entrepreneurial perspective. But also physiological, if you get stuck in this burnout, stress of, you know, stress addiction and cortisol and adrenal dysfunction. It’s really hard, it can take years to pull yourself out of that. So recognizing the signs of burnout early, saying no to hustle culture, and realizing that like my eight and a half hours of sleep a night, which is basically like a boundary that I set with myself and is a constant is only serving me and that extra hour or two hours that I could be up isn’t actually productive work anyway, those are some kind of key identifiers, I think that entrepreneurs can use to nip this in the bud early and set good habits and good boundaries, not only for yourself, but for your team. So they don’t burn out too as you grow. Because this kind of culture comes from the top down. And if your entire team is burnt and stressed out, then the wheels are falling off your boss.


Scott D Clary  33:01

Have you ever adopted a similar elimination framework in your business life that you adopted in the whole 30 program? I’m curious, because I’ve heard that mentioned a lot as well as a very successful way to figure out what’s important what’s not,


Melissa Urban  33:17

not so much in my business life. But I have done a zillion self experiments. I’m famous for myself experiments that are whole 30 ish, where I’m either doing something for a set period of time every single day, or not doing something so cold showers, it started two years ago. 2020 Yeah, some bio hacking. But you know, I had suffered a concussion. I was going through some depression, I’d read a lot of research on cold therapy. I had done ice baths in the past related to fitness. But I decided one day that I was gonna take a cold shower every single morning for a month. And it was so incredibly powerfully transformational that I did it every day for a year and I’m still doing it to this day. So like that was something. I had a podcast conversation with my friend, Dr. Ellen Bora. And we were talking about stress and sleep and she was like get your phone out of the bedroom. And I was like, okay, and as of that night, I started charging my phone in a different room. And for a couple months, I slept without my phone in the bedroom and it was profoundly transformational. And now I plug it in at night it goes on the floor and I don’t look at it at bedtime. So I’ve done stuff like this on a pretty regular basis as you said to figure out like what isn’t isn’t important. Are there tiny hacks I can do throughout my day that pay off huge and I think those are really fun anytime that you I kind of I talk about them as like a ping from the universe like when something when you hear something and you just feel this like tug of attention whether it’s someone talking about cold showers or whole 30 or phones out of the bedroom or talking to strangers or what rocking or whatever. Pay attention and see if that’s like a little self experiment that you could take on to see if it has pretty, you know, tremendous impact.


Scott D Clary  34:58

What are you what are your top ones that you You’ve you’ve tried out the mentioned cold shower. I’ve never done that before. So that’s something now I have tried because now and I’ve seen it with them what’s his name like? Oh, well Hof What’s it I can’t remember his


Melissa Urban  35:10

Wim Hof Yeah, he does like freezing cold exposure. Yeah. Yeah, I have all without it. Yeah. So you could listen to cold cold showers with Ed Sheeran because for the first month, I listen to Ed Sheeran and sing along in the shower with him. But yeah, I have a whole podcast about it. Cold showers are amazing life changing.


Scott D Clary  35:25

So what else? What else is what other some other but and I asked you because I know that you know, outside of like whole 30. You’re just like a very self aware person. So I feel like you’ve like you mentioned you looked into all this stuff before you probably try anything that you hear on a podcast or a show or some some executives figured out some way to sort of improve their life by 1%. Like you figured out or you’ve tried it doesn’t. So I’m curious, what are the what are the ones? What are the things that you do in your life that are sort of like not just fads, they actually seem to actually impact your life?


Melissa Urban  35:54

Yeah, so one of the things that I did when I first moved to Utah from New Hampshire, so I grew up in the East Coast. And like, we’re not rude on the East Coast, we just don’t need to talk to you, right? Our if you are my cashier, or my barista, or my waiter or waitress, like it is purely transactional. So when I moved, and that’s just how the culture is, when I moved to Utah, we showed up at the grocery store the very first day, and the cashier was like, Hey, how are you guys? What are you doing this weekend? And I was like, why? Like, why do you want to know that we don’t know each other? I’m never gonna see you again. So I did this talking to strangers experiment where for 30 days, I talked to everyone, if it was appropriate, right? If there was like a huge line behind me, I wouldn’t. But if it was a waitress, or a barista, or there was someone next to me in line, who appeared to, you know, be amenable to chatting or my cashier, I would just talk to that my Uber driver, I would just talk to them, you know, Hey, how’s your day going? You know, are you in the middle of your shift? Or the end of your shift? What are you doing anything fun this weekend, have you tried this brand of whatever that I’m buying. And I found that it was the highlight of my day, the highlight of my day, was spending two minutes like making someone feel good, eliciting this like genuine human connection, even if we talked about nothing, even if I never saw them again. And occasionally I would have these experiences where I would like end up hearing someone’s story, usually, in an Uber or, you know, on a slow day at a restaurant. And I was like, every single person is interesting, everyone has a story. And it’s kind of like, I think Brene Brown says that like you wouldn’t have this interpersonal conflict. If you just like talk to each other. If you got to know each other, right, the diff, our differences would come together. And that was such an awesome and fun getting out of my shell experiment. And I still do it to this day. I’m not like fanatical about it. But that was a really, really fun one. One of the things I will say, though, is that I think it’s important going back to self awareness, to know that just because someone else finds it, a productivity hack doesn’t mean it’s for you. So you hear about people like batching their day where they only check email twice a day, I check at 8am. And I check at 3pm. Awesome. If that works great for you. Awesome. I’m never going to do that. Because that’s not how I use email. It’s not how I want to use email. And that’s not how I want to schedule my day. So I think it’s equally important to know what is not for you. And maybe you need to try some self experiments that don’t work for you to start to get a feel with that. But I think you can also trust your intuition. If you hear someone talking about, oh, I use this app, and I do everything in it. And I’m like, oh, that just sounds really restrictive. To me. That’s not for you. Maybe


Scott  38:33

I wanted to, I wanted to ask a couple, like leadership questions just to pull some experience out from you building whole 30 in the company. So now he’s sort of covered. We’ve covered some health and wellness, we’ve covered some, like some some mindset or whatnot. But before I go into like leadership lessons, last thoughts on just like healthy entrepreneurship? What are some main things that you’d impart on somebody who wants to build their own thing? What is the what is the main healthy entrepreneurial mindset that you have to have if you want to build something and stick with it for the long term?


Melissa Urban  39:09

My biggest lesson, or one of my biggest lessons while I was building was Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Don’t worry about it. I would get distracted by looking at my competition other people who were doing similar things in a space and looking at the direction they were going a resource they rolled out and thinking to myself, Oh, I have to do that, too. Now I have to be in that speak. No, no, no. I had my vision. I knew exactly what I wanted whole 30 to be where I wanted to go, how I wanted to connect with my community. And the minute I stopped worrying about what other people were doing and focused all of that energy on where I wanted to go. Was it not only felt so much better for me it was much less stressful, it was less confusing and anxiety producing. But now I got to put all of my energy into what I wanted to build. Not like what a other people were doing. So for me, that was a huge lesson really early on, and I still abide by that to this day.


Scott D Clary  40:06

Amazing. Now, as you as you’ve built whole 30 How, how do you make sure that you’re a great CEO, to your team, to your company, to your customers?


Melissa Urban  40:20

I hope I’m a great CEO. I think it goes, a lot of it goes back to self awareness, recognizing that everything comes from the top down your company’s culture, boundaries, communication, style, leadership, if I am not embodying and living and demonstrating the values that I want my company to have, and I want my team to have then like, it is entirely my fault. It’s 100%, coming down from me. So I have to be really self aware, when I think of something at six o’clock at night, I have to remind myself, don’t send this email right now you can schedule it and send it tomorrow morning, because I don’t want to our culture is such that like when we’re off, we’re off or with family. And unless it’s an emergency, I don’t need anything from you. And I don’t want to have action that goes against what I’m saying our values are, I have to employ pauses really often. My management style is very direct, I work very fast. And I often don’t take the time to say hi, you know, I’m kind of like, Hey, we’re working on this, let’s just like get it done. So I have to pause very often and remind myself that it’s in all of our best interest to speak to people the way they want to be spoken to, I have some employees who really like, you know, talking about their weekend first or talking about what everyone else is doing. And even if I’m in transactional mode, it’s super helpful for me to recognize, like, oh, this would be so much better served. If I took like a two minute break. And we just like chatted a little bit, right? I can, we can do that. So I have to sometimes put my own tendencies aside for that. I also think it’s important for me to recognize and acknowledge what I’m not good at, or what I am not adding value to. And I’ve had to do that quite a bit lately, because I feel like I’m in a place right now where in order for the business to continue to grow the way I want it to, I have to step back in some areas and let someone else step in, and take us to that next level. And that’s been a two year process that was somewhat challenging, but not as challenging as I expected. I don’t have as much attachment to the title as I thought I did or attachment to the power that I thought I did. And it is in the company’s best interest, which means it’s in my team’s best interest in my community’s best interest for me to step back on some things and bring someone else in and let them run it so that I can do what I do best. So I mean, we keep talking about self awareness, but I think that’s a really huge part of being a good leader. Yeah, it is. Yeah.


Scott D Clary  42:46

And how do you find those people? So how do you find those people that are going to lead the other parts of the business? what’s your what’s your hiring? what’s your what’s your strategy for finding that incredible talent that yeah, trust to sort of scale your baby? Yeah,


Melissa Urban  43:00

I had a ton of experience in hiring before I joined Northville 38, my old job and insurance, I managed a group of about 20 team members in three different offices across the country, and I had to do a lot of hiring. So I got really practiced at interviewing, I learned to hire for talent and not skill. So I can teach someone Microsoft I can teach someone WordPress, or I can teach someone the vernacular, the language that we use around whole 30, right, we don’t call it a diet, we call it a program. What I can’t teach is like that talent, that entrepreneurial talent, or the quick grasp of like the vision and you know, being able to implement it or taking past experiences that may not be like a one to one, but figuring out how to employ the learning lessons here. Those are things you can’t teach. So we also tend to hire from within our community, like always from within our community. So you already believe in the whole 30 You already are familiar with the community, in some ways you’re like on board with the mission, before you even start working for us. And that makes you know, you’re kind of indoctrination into the team so much easier. You’re you’re already part of this like mission that you were part of as the community member. And now you’re kind of on the inside. And then for me, I think my number one my team knows that my number one kind of metric is loyalty, I want to see that you are loyal to the program, and loyal to the company. And that doesn’t mean abandoning yourself, I want you to show up with integrity. And I want you to push back if things don’t feel right to you or if we’re asking you know something of you that that is too much but I want you to demonstrate that like you’re really here for the growth of the community and for the good of the brand and the mission. And I’ve done a really really good job I have incredible people in place right now who are like determined to you know, steer the rocket ship with me.


Scott D Clary  44:55

And last question on this one cuz I thought the the last thing that I sent you, that you The first thing you do really, really well is create community. And that’s an incredibly hard thing for any CEO business to do. But when you can do it, right, it’s an exceptional tool for product feedback. It’s an exceptional tool to find what you’re using it to hire people to evangelize a product, whatever it is. But how do you how do you actually build community? What was your strategy? Did you it? Was it? Was it something that you know, you focused on building community? Or was it just, you had a great product? And you decided to like, sort of double down on that and allow people to sort of chat amongst themselves? And you build a community almost accidentally, what was the what was the strategy behind the community?


Melissa Urban  45:42

Yeah, I won’t say I went into it with like a very specific strategy, I did have a great product, first of all, so you can build the best community in the world and have great marketing and great word of mouth. But like, if your products not that good, that’s not sustainable, I have a great product. So that really, really helps. I recognized early on and like maybe part of my success just happens to do with my personality. I’m not a profit driven CEO, that doesn’t light me up at all. What I am, of what really does get me going is recognizing that like, we are helping people and hearing people’s transformations and listening to their stories and recognizing that, like, what we’re putting out in the world is making people’s lives better. That’s what I love. So you know, for the first three years, we gave, we still do, but we gave everything away for free, the whole 30 program is completely free. You don’t need to buy a thing except the food you eat to do it that stands to this day, that will always be true. But especially in the beginning, it was everything I do is for the community, everything it’s what do you need to be successful? What are your pain points? What are we missing in terms of resources? If you have this question, can I write this blog post and answer it for you and every person who comes after you when the program grew, and I started bringing on team members, and we started partnering with brands? All of the decisions were is this in the best interest of the community. And I turned down big deals, because that wasn’t. And I occasionally would be like, oh, man, this would be amazing to partner with like this brand. They’re so big, and it would be so good. But it wasn’t the right fit. And I recognized early on, that it’s so incredibly precious to build this kind of loyalty with your community and this kind of trust. And with one deal that can all go away with one misstep. So I really, I treasure that I do I have always said that I have never had a good idea in my life, every good idea that we put out everything that we do is because the community needed it or suggested it. And my entire business is focused around the community like whole 30 is at its heart, a community, my team is on board with that. And even for the people in my company who are responsible for generating revenue and profit, we still won’t do it at the expense of the community. And that’s a really important point for us.


Scott D Clary  47:52

Amazing. Okay. Yeah, I want to I want to finish up ask some rapid fire questions before we pivot, though. Closing thoughts floors, yours. And then also, where do people go reach you, your social, your website, all of that?


Melissa Urban  48:04

Yeah. So I would love to invite people to learn more about the whole 30 and our self experiment are incredibly supportive and welcoming and inclusive community, a ton of resources, like the worst thing that’s gonna happen is you’re gonna eat really delicious, healthy food for 30 days. That’s the worst thing that’s gonna happen. But so many people did say the whole 30 actually did change my life. So you can find everything about whole 30 At Whole Wh o le and the number 30. All of our social media is at whole 30. And then I am primarily on Instagram at Melissa, you where I talk about a whole lot more than just hold 30


Scott D Clary  48:39

Okay, good. Very good. Let’s do a couple rapid fire. So you mentioned this, but we’ll just reiterate just in case you wanted to add something to it, the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome in your personal or professional life, what was it? How did you overcome it?


Melissa Urban  48:54

I’d have to say my addiction. That was definitely the biggest lift. And I overcame it by adopting a growth mindset and realizing that I could become an already was, if I believed it and found evidence to support it. The exactly the kind of person, I want it to be


Scott D Clary  49:11

incredible good. If you had to choose one person, obviously, there’s been many, but you have to choose one person has been incredibly impactful. Who’s that person? What did they teach you?


Melissa Urban  49:19

Oh, well, that’s a great question. I had this Professor Jack McCarthy at the at my university and my Organizational Behavior class. He taught me to speak to people the way they want to be spoken to. He taught me to understand my own personality and preferences and profiles, and recognize that not everybody has the same life experience or the same preferences that I do. And learning that allowed me to go so much further in my career at the time and I still think that that serves me to this day. So thank you, Dr. McCarthy,


Scott D Clary  49:53

a book or podcast or audible something you’d recommend people go check out


Melissa Urban  49:57

right now. I want you to go read the company. crisis by Michael Easter. I have been singing this book’s praises for over a year when I got an advanced copy the book right it’s nonfiction that reads like fiction it is so incredibly engaging. But it’s essentially talking about how our modern world leading us to be so comfortable in every environment temperature just right. Food just right comfort level of our couch just right may not be serving us in the healthiest way possible and how to add just small bursts of kind of targeted discomfort to further our health and fitness and wellness and mental health. It’s phenomenal.


Scott D Clary  50:37

That’s a great that’s I’ve never had that recommendation on the show. Oh, it’s so good. I’m gonna Amazon. Yeah, that’s good. Yep. If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing what would it be? Oh, 20


Melissa Urban  50:48

year old Melissa was so high all the time. I know you know, basically just that no matter what you are going through right now in this moment doesn’t define who you are as a person that you are a person are worthy. Yeah.


Scott D Clary  51:05

Very good. And last question, what does success mean to you?


Melissa Urban  51:11

Success means being able to live in my integrity in all areas of my life.




Hi, my name is Elliot Smith. I host a podcast on the blue wire network and we are fundraising to help child refugees from the war in Ukraine. Through Save the Children’s emergency fund, we can make a big difference for these needy children. Please help us you can go to our website Arsenal vision And click charity that’ll take you to our JustGiving page and when you donate you’re even eligible to win some prizes. Please help us raise money for these needy children at Arsenal vision forward slash give. Let’s show with the blue wire network family can do


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