Who's That Gal: Michelle Wax, Happiness Entrepreneur
Name: Michelle Wax
Occupation: Happiness Entrepreneur
Hometown: Dover, MA
Current ‘hood: Somerville, MA
Currently reading: Psycho Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz
Favorite workout: BagsXBody at Everybody Fights!
I never leave home without____: Headphones to listen to positive content with + chapstick
Tell us a little bit about your career. How’d you get interested in entrepreneurship?
My story starts with a lemonade stand when I was 8 years old! My brothers and I would hustle at the end of our street each spring to sell cookies and lemonade. I always wanted to start my own business, but figured I would wait until I was 40-45 and have enough experience, more money, and fewer student loans.
But when I was 24, I was working at a tech startup in Boston and this idea that kept nagging at me. The idea that maybe I should start something now, maybe I shouldn’t wait. So I did.
I started my first company, Kitchen Millie, with $300 and worked on it before and after work.
5 years later, I have grown Kitchen Millie to 1200X the initial investment, founded and grew The Local Fare kitchen incubator to help dozens of food businesses start and grow their brands, wrote a book, The Attainable Dream, consulted dozens of startup brands, and most recently, traveled to all 50 states in America filming American Happiness as part of my happiness company, The Wax Life. Presently, I also speak all across the country on the topic of happiness and the scientific connection to how the brain is wired along with hosting in person events throughout Boston and am working on an online program for people that are committed to living a life full of happiness and doing what they want.
Tell us a little bit about the Wax Life. How did you first get interested in the science of happiness?
I was at a spot 2 years ago where from the outside, I should have been super happy. I was literally living my dream of owning a business, had great friends and family, a great relationship, a great car, etc. But I’d wake up everyday and just be fine. I knew I should be happy with my life, and I felt super guilty about it.
I felt I could be doing better, and that I should be doing more.
Those were my daily thoughts, and I just didn’t understand it. I was living my dream, and I wasn’t happy? What the hell is that? I felt super guilty and I needed to know why.
So I started digging into the psychology behind why I was feeling this way, and was introduced to the scientific concepts of the brain that are linked to happiness and it fascinated me. I became obsessed with it, reading books, attending seminars, and researching as much as I could about happiness and mindset.
I implemented the tactics and perspectives into my own life, and it made a massive impact. I couldn’t believe that the small things I learned shifted my perception so much, and I started to see a trickle effect out to the people around me. From there, The Wax Life was born.
What are Happiness Hours? How can people get involved?
Happiness Hours bring positive people together throughout Boston, making it easier to form friendships with people that will drive us to the next level in our lives, both personally and professionally. You can expect to meet people that are encouraging, looking for the good, and full of life!
At our next Happiness Hour on July 24th, we will be focusing on MINDSET -- the importance of it, how your brain's natural mindset is working against you, and most importantly, how to develop an unstoppable mindset that will propel you to a life of confidence, a life of happiness, and a life of self belief. If you’re interested in being a part, sign up at this link!
What small thing do you recommend people do to be happier?
The first step I recommend is to become aware of what you’re thinking about throughout the day. I encourage you to write down what you’re thinking about:
When you wake up
When you’re at work
When you’re eating lunch
When you get home
When you’re with your friends/family
When you’re about to go to sleep
Most of our lasting, internal happiness is not determined by outside situations or people, it’s a result of how we’re thinking about what’s going on around us. So if you want to be happier day to day, you need to track your thoughts and realize what aspects of your life is causing unhappiness and stress so you can shift the thinking in that area.
It’s important to understand how you’re talking to yourself, what your internal dialogue is, and what thoughts are running through your mind.
From this point, you can shift your thought process. Instead of thinking about why is this happening to me, think instead why is this happening for me?
The crazy thing is that our brains are hardwired from birth to have a negative lense on the world. Without becoming self aware and steering this, we’re going to naturally feel stressed, feel self doubt, and be focused on what’s missing from our life. We need to work to be happy, but we’re being sold that it comes naturally - and that’s where the issue is.
Also, starting your day off in a positive way with positive content, reading an uplifting paragraph or motivational video is incredible. I have a playlist on Spotify I’ll listen to a few tracks from each morning.
You’re also working on a documentary. Can you share a little about that?
Yes! American Happiness is a documentary capturing and sharing how everyday Americans across all 50 states have reached happiness, and how you can too. I just got back from traveling to every state in the USA over 3 months and met the most incredible people. The focus of the documentary is on how powerful our thoughts and mindset are in reaching happiness, and the tactics, strategies, and concepts Americans from all over have implemented into their life to reach happiness. If you’re interested in staying updated on the progress, sign up at this link!
While making the film you traveled all over the country. What were some of the most interesting places you visited?
There were so many! In each city I went to, I tried to get the ‘local experience’ as much as possible and met a lot of amazing people in each state that showed me the best local restaurants, breweries, traditions, etc. The Redwood forests in California took my breath away, and I also unexpectedly loved Alaska! I took a seaplane to see glaciers there and it was unreal. New Orleans was also super vibrant, and I think it took the spot as my new favorite city in America!
What’s the best thing about starting your own business?
I love the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning a business! It’s truly amazing and once you have a taste, it’s addicting.
What’s the hardest?
Throughout growing 3 companies, I’ve found that getting the word out is always the hardest, people need to know about your brand and products/services to get sales, and without sales you don’t have a business. I’ve always bootstrapped my companies with limited funds, so the pressure of getting sales to stay in business can be taxing and stressful, especially at the beginning.
What skill is most important for you to be successful? Why?
For me, it’s been cultivating and growing my mindset each and every day to build confidence and self belief. I’ve found that BELIEVING you can do something is 85% of what you need to be successful. Everything else you can learn by googling and with consistent work and perseverance, but if you don’t truly believe you can do something, your thoughts and mind will self sabotage your success because you’ll have self doubt and limiting beliefs.
Any advice for other professional ladies?
The hardest part is STARTING! After you have an idea or thought that’s different from your normal routine, you brain will start to talk you out of it within 5 seconds of you thinking about it. This is why it’s SO HARD to create change in life, because your own brain is working against you out.
When you do want to do something new, or step out of your comfort zone, or change a way of looking at something, you need to take action on it within a few seconds to create a movement and a confidence in your mind.
Anything else you want to share?
I’m happy to help with anything I can! If you have any questions about starting a business, making a change, or just going after something you truly want, please reach out. I can be reached on Instagram at @the.wax.life or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also would LOVE to have you at our next Happiness Hour event!
Lindsay Gardner is an Instructional Designer living and working in Boston. You can follow her on Instagram @lindsaygardner09.