When stretched financially, we’re often forced to cut back to get by. Melinda Hickey knew this firsthand, but she refused to let seeing her family be one of the sacrifices she had to make. When she exited the plane in Montana, visiting her grandkids for the first time in nearly a year, and saw the oldest boy running at her, shouting, “Finally! I get to see you,” Melinda knew that moment would inspire her to keep persevering so she could recreate it over and over again. Using her family as the source of her strength, Melinda has found a way to live her passions and enjoy what she loves.
For much of her career as an elementary school teacher, Melinda found herself in a constant state of flux. Her husband, Mike, served as a Colonel in the Air Force, which caused their family to move quite a bit. It was hard starting fresh each time. Their three sons would have to adjust to new schools while Melinda would need to get re-certified to teach. “I love the military; it gave me confidence, broadened my horizons, and allowed me to meet amazing people, but the downside was that I was always at the bottom of the pay scale in every new location and I couldn’t build a retirement plan. When Mike retired from the military, we were in Austin, Texas, and I was still teaching. One day I was sitting on a park bench at recess and it dawned on me that after 24 years, I only had seven years of tenure. I turned to a fellow teacher and said, ‘I am out of here!’ It just didn’t make sense.” Soon after, Mike’s corporate job was eliminated due to a company closure. Facing bankruptcy, they decided it was time to make a change.
In 2005, they moved back to Tennessee and decided to go into real estate with one of Melinda’s sisters, Donna, and her husband. They were quite successful until 2008. “With the downturn in the economy, no one was buying anything, so we were living solely on Mike’s retirement. We had to give up going out to Montana to visit our sons. We hadn’t seen our two grandkids in nearly a year. That was the hardest part; I just really wanted to see them.” So, in March of 2009, when she attended a Rodan + Fields® meeting, Melinda saw an opportunity to potentially get ahead financially. “I remember thinking this could be the lifeline Mike and I were looking for. I was excited about the idea of partnering with the Doctors, but what really riveted me to the core was the evergreen opportunity.” Melinda signed up as an Independent Consultant that night and within weeks, after having lived paycheck to paycheck for nearly a year, she had some extra income.
At first, Melinda simply viewed her business as a way to provide a little extra money that would allow her to visit her family, but as she started to see her earnings, it quickly became more than that. “By the second month, I had purchased a plane ticket. It was so rewarding knowing I could do it. So, after that first trip to Montana, I just kept going, ready for more. In 130 days, I had reached Level V. That started it all. Within a year, I was earning an income equivalent to Mike’s retirement. Now, it’s double that.”
Melinda is amazed at the many options her business has provided her family. “It’s just incredible knowing that our retirement is secure. And where else could a 60 year old reinvent themselves? I felt that I had finished the work I had been called to do as a teacher, and I thought that real estate was the next chapter, but I wasn’t passionate about it. When things weren’t successful, I was so grateful that I found an opportunity where I could embrace the person that I am. I was able to weave the teacher, coach, and encourager in me into a new career. And the cool part is that I get to return to my first love, which is teaching. But now, I’m teaching a team about personal strengths and how to lead genuinely. I really think it’s just like my days as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve come full circle, still doing show and tell. I show the products and I tell about the business.”
Another aspect of her business that Melinda absolutely loves is building and strengthening relationships. “It’s been so rewarding becoming Premier Level V leader. The relationships she has created over the years have proven to be the most fun part. “I feel like we’re all one big family. I am so proud of my team and it’s so exciting to watch their success. I’ve seen so many people take a leap of faith and start a new life. It’s wonderful to witness someone’s life change and it pushes you to keep going, knowing your business may keep growing and more good may come from it.”
Melinda has always been passionate about having a positive impact on others and using her ability to pay it forward. She is very active with the Prescription for Change Foundation in Nashville and assists with an all-encompassing program that offers a variety of opportunities including life skill training for moms and young adults, gardening, and summer camps for children in poverty. Melinda is also helping to plan a Christmas in July stocking stuffer event and a back-to-school fundraiser. “My R+F business has really allowed me to focus on who I am. I have time and the means to be involved in my community and help others. It’s important that we leave the world better than we found it and we don’t live forever, so why not create something that will? I see a possibility to do that with R+F.”
Melinda hopes to create a legacy of love for her grandchildren in the form of a summer retreat home in Missoula. Despite living so far away, Melinda and Mike are looking forward to being as present as they can be in their seven grandchildren’s lives. “I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know what the future will bring. Maybe one day we will live out there, but right now we have a 93 year old mother to take care of. We spend a lot of time with her.” The flexible schedule allows Melinda to care for her mother and enjoy activities she loves like gardening, journaling, walking, and spending time with Mike. “Every day is different and that is pretty cool.”
Melinda truly believes that if your “why” is big enough, your “what” doesn’t matter. “You will experience disappointment. It’s life. There are obstacles every day, but the best way to discipline your disappointments is to revisit your why and to be honest with yourself about why you are doing this or taking a leap of faith in the first place. The why is the most important part of the career.” For Melinda, that driving force is her family. Home is wherever she is instilling life and love into her relationships and, by infusing her business with faith and the commitment to doing good, she is building a family and creating a legacy wherever life takes her.