“There is a season for everything”: A lot of people can relate to the saying “bloom where you are planted” — and I used to be one of them until I realized the nature of that saying as I had understood it, implied that I was constantly expecting myself to be in a state of blooming. Look at nature! There are seasons, cycles, and different phases that all serve different purposes: all of which add tremendous value and without which, the creation of new life wouldn’t be possible.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Mishler (Also known as EM Valentine).
Born and raised in the rural Midwest of the United States, Emily Mishler is an intrepid optimist with a keen sense of adventure, an eye for design, a hand in the start-up world, and a heart for philanthropy. She is the driving force behind The Cultivated Group and the world of Esmè the Curious Cat — on a mission to ignite and empower individuals and organizations to: “be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Specializing in business development, creative strategic planning, and fundraising, Emily launched her first company at the age of 22 and has since raised and distributed over $20M of private investment for private clients, for-profit entities, and NGO’s.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’ve always had a knack for adventure, an insatiable curiosity, a creative flair, and a heart for helping others — and my career has absolutely been an extension of that. I grew up on a farm in the middle of the rural United States. We lived very modestly and simply — serving others and giving of what we had was ingrained in our family’s “culture” from a very young age.
Hindsight tends to be 20/20 and all the dots tend to connect looking backward and that’s certainly a trend amidst my own eclectic career path. While I studied Communication and Design at University, helping others through different opportunities was always a focal point. A series of decisions that I perceived to be big risks (at the time) and chose to jump and lean into, whilst always keeping my eyes and ears open for possibility and opportunity were huge contributing factors as my career and life’s mission has continued to unfold. Doors and opportunities presented themselves, to which I bet on myself and said “yes” (albeit sometimes with a bit of fear!) and based on my passions, experiences, and drive to influence the world for the better — stumbled into corporate philanthropy as a career. In August of 2018, I completed an MBA with a concentration in Philanthropy and shortly thereafter, began a new chapter of life in traveling the world and running my own location-independent, impact-driven companies. The work The Cultivated Group focuses on is all impact-based, which means at the end of the day our goal is to make the world a better place and use businesses and the influence we all have in our day-to-day lives to be the vessels for doing so.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We’re redefining the phrase “business as usual”. We believe doing the right thing is always the right move to make and through our clients and our work, we’re activating and empowering the change they wish to see in the world. Our companies and team are on a mission to bridge the gap between the great ideas, access to opportunity, and taking action to change and preserve this beautiful world in which we live — one challenge at a time. Our focus isn’t overnight success: our focus is the consistency of thought and expansion of dreams and resources. This, when applied over time through massive action, creates sustainable systems that influence positive and inclusive change: we empower and equip our clients to become forces for good in this world. We use a combined approach of both services and products to equip our clients with the tools and skills they need and an extra set of hands (in some cases) to be able to make thoughtful choices when building, stewarding, enhancing, and scaling their businesses.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’ve made more mistakes than I can count and recently made a commitment to myself to never miss twice. The funniest mistakes I’ve made I actually wouldn’t call mistakes at all; they were a reminder of what’s important. In times that I felt like I needed to be “perfect” or felt a lot of pressure to be “professional”, hilarious things have happened to bring levity to the situation: i.e. gracefully tripping down the stairs of a lecture hall full of 350+ people. The biggest things I’ve learned? Despite how we may feel or perceive others, we’re all human. Do your best, be kind, and laugh at the funny stuff — life is short!
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Mentors in my life have come into my life in the most serendipitous ways and their impact on my life has been beyond words. Their ability to share their knowledge and challenge me to grow into my purpose and potential is one of the things in life I value most. The mentors in my life are those who will kick my ass, cheer me on, and will. not. stop.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
It’s interesting you’d bring this up! My relationship with the word “disruption” and the idea of being “disruptive” has dramatically shifted over the past year. In fact, I used to have an entirely negative association with disruption and didn’t believe it to be positive. I don’t believe total and complete disruption is the “best-case scenario” in many instances, just as I don’t believe “withstanding the test of time” alone is always a “best-case scenario”. I believe evolution is a necessary part of life. Disruption has the capacity to stimulate evolution, innovation, and growth. Nurturing, rest, and “recovery” are also necessary parts of life. It’s the combination and rhythm of disruption evolution and nurturing recovery that I believe to be two basic, both necessary tenants of forwarding movement.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- “There is a season for everything”: A lot of people can relate to the saying “bloom where you are planted” — and I used to be one of them until I realized the nature of that saying as I had understood it, implied that I was constantly expecting myself to be in a state of blooming. Look at nature! There are seasons, cycles, and different phases that all serve different purposes: all of which add tremendous value and without which, the creation of new life wouldn’t be possible.
- “Life is short”: My father, one of the most important people in my life, passed away in February of 2020. He was an incredible simple man, and one of the kindest souls you would ever meet: someone by whom I was deeply inspired. His death was a two-year, unexpected decline at the age of 66 — a time during which many people are preparing for their “next chapter”. It’s a testament to what I believe very deeply: that life is short and nothing is guaranteed. Don’t waste your time, don’t waste your life. If you’re going to build and live the life of your dreams, really give it a go!
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We’ve just launched our most recent brand, Esmè the Curious Cat, and are so excited to be intentionally and actively engaged in shaking up the tools through which children learn. Esmè the Curious Cat is a children’s book series and brand whose goal is to inspire, empower and educate our children (ages 5–12) to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. Through Esmè’s adventures, travels, challenges, discoveries, and exploration, readers are taught life lessons, the value of diversity, conservation and advocacy, how to further employ characteristics of being a good and kind human, generosity, and more. Now available on Amazon, at Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.
Be on the lookout later this month — we are excited to launch The Elevated Method through The Cultivated Group: an accessible framework to equip more small businesses and NGO’s in connecting the impact-driven heart to the business-focused brain necessary to run profitable and healthy businesses, no matter the climate.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I don’t quite believe this is a gender or sex-specific issue, but I do believe fear has an uncanny ability to trickle and creep into different areas of our lives whether we recognize it at the time or not — and can be quite a challenge.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
Absolutely! I enjoy learning from others’ stories and experiences: particularly Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert. Both being intelligent and brilliant women of influence and integrity, their ability to engage fully in life (and vulnerability) has inspired the way I “show up” in life tremendously.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thank you! That’s very kind — and a really tough question, especially considering the state of the world at the moment. If I could inspire a movement, as simple as it sounds, it would be one of leading with kindness, consideration, and thoughtfulness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
How can our readers follow you online?
The Cultivated Group
Esmè the Curious Cat:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!