A lot of entrepreneurs have, at one time in their life or another, been workaholic. D. Michelle Thompson considered herself to belong in that category but quickly realized that if she’s going to be a workaholic, she’s not going to do it for someone else’s company. She put up her own company called Designed for Destiny and, to date, have published several books, with an upcoming one called YOU BELONG: How to Fit When You Don’t, named after her podcast. Today, she sits down with Juliet Clark to share her entrepreneurial journey and how it led her to speak at one of the world’s biggest congregations.
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Designed For Destiny With D. Michelle Thompson
We have a great guest. I know I always say that, but I try to cultivate some fabulous people for you guys. Before we get started, I want to invite you to go over and take our Promote Profit Published Quiz. You can find that at PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com. Also if you are over on YouTube, check us out, go and follow us over on Super Brand Publishing. If you’re subscribing to the show, please give us five stars and give us a review. We’d love to hear what you think about the show. Our guest is Michelle Thompson. She owns a company called Designed for Destiny. She’s an author who spent fifteen years in Corporate America working for Fortune 100 companies. In June 2009, she began working full-time in her own consulting firm called Design for Destiny LLC. She also has a 501(c)(3) nonprofit for Table for 1 Inc. sharing with clients about healthy relationships on all sides of life. It’s going to be cool because she got to speak in a cool place in front of a huge audience. We’re going to talk about that as well. She’s also the author of the Table For 1, Please!, Table For 1, Thanks!, Table For 1 Wholeness. She has an upcoming book named after her podcast called YOU BELONG, which I was a guest on.
Welcome, Michelle. It’s great to have you.
Thank you for that wonderful intro.
Tell us how did you get to where you are now? What was your journey?
It’s an interesting and unique story. A lot of us entrepreneurs have been workaholic for one time in our life. We realized if I’m going to be a workaholic, I’m not going to do it for someone else’s company. I’m going to do it for mine. My journey gets jumped started back in early 2000s. I had a close friend of mine who passed away who was battling lupus and scleroderma. When she was first diagnosed, I didn’t understand lupus and scleroderma and how terminal it could be for some people, other things to battle and survive on. I remember her always cautioning me with all the work. I was working at 10:00 and 12:00 in advertising in Chicago.
We would go out to lunch in the Gold, the one district of town which was high-end where I ran into people like Whitney Houston at the same spot with me, different things like that. She goes, “When was the last time you shopped over here?” I’m like, “I can’t afford that.” She’s like, “Why don’t you drop a whole paycheck in the Gold Coast and shop there one day?” I’m like, “It’s so risky. I would never do anything like that.” Little did I know, when we sat there and planned, “One day we’re going to do that. We’re going to go on payday. We’re going to go to the Gold Coast and we’re going to do it,” almost a year later, my friend was gone. That stuck out to me that we always put off tomorrow, but what are we supposed to do? I left her funeral questioning God and what am I supposed to do in life? I went home and wrote a whole book the day after her funeral.
I had journals, ideas and thoughts of things but I had never put them together. I felt accomplished like life is not for anything. I wrote this book and I sat it on a shelf for ten years. Fast forward to 2009, I’m the spokesperson for a Procter & Gamble for Bounty paper towels in the African-American community, traveling with a celebrity, talking about the importance of family and how Bounty paper towels are a part of that family time. I got off stage in my first speaking engagement and I remember thinking like, “This is connected. I wrote this book and I didn’t know what to do with it.” It jumped started. It all came together for me right there. That was the time. I published the book in 2009 that I’ve written almost ten years earlier. That’s how I got started.People need to be healthy and whole regardless of their relationship status. Click To Tweet
I think about this from my advertising days too. When I look at where I hopscotched from one place to another, at that time, it made zero sense. There’s that time where it comes together and you think, “I get it now. That’s why I had all of those things happen.” It’s wonderful that you explained what I’ve known for a while that happened with my journey on there. How did that lead you to speaking at one of the biggest congregations in the world?
Go back to that moment I left the stage. I was speaking in DC at the Congressional Black Caucus to a huge audience. My PR person for the job had written me a speech, but we have so many other duties when you work in brand management. It was like memorizing a speech for a twenty-minute speech was not a high priority for me. I was on the flight trying to do it. Often, I realized they had even written my childhood memory for me. I’m like, “This isn’t me.” I remember about getting on the stage and I said, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t memorize it. I had no time. I’m going to go from my heart and my gut on this.” When I got finished speaking, I had a standing ovation and my PR guy looks at me and he goes, “I’m not writing another speech on this tour. You got it.”
From that day on, they let me do my own thing and made sure I hit my key message points and I was fine. When I felt like, “This is time for me to launch my book and go off,” people were like, “You don’t sell books without speaking.” I’m like, “I’m so shy.” I ended up with this role at work. I was like, “What do I do next?” I put my agency hat back on. When I was in advertising, you run a business of multimillion dollars and you have people pitching you all the time. I said, “Who are the people I went for?” I thought about the people who cared about me, build a relationship and knew what I needed. Unfortunately, another industry low in the economy in 2009, 2010. I went to my friend who was my ad sales rep for my first job in advertising.
He was laid off and not working. I said, “Could you be my pitch guy? I got a book coming out. This is my target audience.” I had ugly, rough copies of my book made, but it was enough to whet people’s appetite. The Table For One, Please! is coming out. I sent them to every mega-church with a cover note. I had my pitch guys follow up and call people. I’m at work, I’m still working full-time and he goes, “The Singles’ pastor in Lakewood is interested. He wants to talk to you. Can I give him your home number?” I’m like, “Yes.” I give him my home number and I don’t know what it was. That particular day, I was supposed to go to work. This was back when we all have home numbers in 2009. I said, “I don’t feel well but it’s not a sick day. I feel like I shouldn’t be at work.” Have you ever had a feeling like it’s not like I’m sick, but it is a sick day?
I hate to say it, but I called in. I said, “I cannot work.” I didn’t let them ask what was going on because I didn’t want to lie. I was like, “I can’t come to work.” I spent the whole day cleaning my house, revising my book, and I get a phone call. It was the Singles’ pastor at Lakewood and we talked for two hours. I shared with him my heart, why I wrote Table For One, Please! I talked about my friend passing away. She passed away in the middle of a divorce. It made me even learn more about heart issues, how people need to be healthy and whole regardless of their relationship status. We had a long conversation. At the end of it, he shocked me. He said, “When you’re ready, let me know. You come speak to our Singles.” I’m like, “Huh?” That was the weird invite. It was, “When you’re ready.” This was May 2009. We had a call in November 2009. I called him back and I said, “I think I’m ready.”
We went back and put together an agreement and all that. Next thing you know, I was flying to Houston for two nights to speak to their Singles audiences. They have over 500 to 800 people each night even for that smaller set of Singles. They had the first night for Singles, 25 to 34. The next night for Singles, 40-plus. My team came together. I ended up having a team of a couple of late offerings, but we got gift packages together, had t-shirts with my book’s name on it, everything for this big Valentine’s Day launch in February 2010. It was amazing because I remember speaking and the first night, I exceeded expectations. People were calling on the phone and people were coming back the second night. I made a mistake and heard what people said about me.
That made me nervous. I was in the bathroom and I heard these girls talking, “Michelle is great. Her stories are awesome.” I was on the floor in tears. I called everybody and told them they better come the next night. When I started speaking the second night, I felt the Singles’ pastor looked at me because he could tell it wasn’t the same person. I was super nervous and I started off shaky. All of a sudden, I looked around and I was like, “Stop worrying about what people is saying. You’re not here for people.” I remember my older brother told me, “I know it’s a lot of people and you’d be like, ‘Am I going to reach people?’ Remember sometimes in life, you’re only there for that one person. Start thinking about your message as if it’s going to help one person and forget about the whole crowd.” I remember my brother’s encouragement to me. By that third line, I was back in and I saw the Singles’ pastor look, “That’s what we paid for.”
You said about that one person. There was that one person in the crowd that came up to you afterwards too, right?
Yes, it was. It’s so funny. My brother had the encouragement to me because after I spoke, there was a part where I went off script and I started telling someone as if it was one person, “Do not cancel the date. Don’t go backwards. You are meant to go forward.” After the presentation, I was signing books and this lady comes up to me and says, “I’m the one.” I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “I’m the one that made you go off script. I had a date with my ex-husband for Valentine’s day. After your encouragement, I’m canceling it. I canceled it already. I’m texting.” I was like, “Wow.” We never know those little moments that it was for someone to hear that. It was great.
How does this all relate to what you do now?
I challenged myself after writing this book. It was all about healthy relationships. Now, I find myself doing culture work, consulting, and talking about belonging. All of a sudden, it hit me one day like, “It’s the same thing. People at work get to learn how to love each other just like people at home get to learn how to love each other.” You’re talking about love in the workplace and building a culture of healthy relationships. I realized that it even tied back to my life mission statement. I wrote a mission statement for my life in my early twenties and didn’t know what to do with it, but it said my mission is to heal the brokenhearted through writing, teaching and speaking. I’m so grateful that now I lived that out through consulting leaders and coaching them on how to empower their employees.
I do that through my workshops with singles, couples, and talking about healthy relationships. I’m like, “I’m living it out.” Somebody asked me, “Who’s the broken-hearted?” I said, “If we’re all honest, in some way, all of us have had that broken heart.” It’s about some issue either it’s a coworker who gets on your nerves and you don’t want to work with anymore or it’s that spouse that you’re like, “I cannot go home to them tonight.” We’re all dealing with a manner of, how can I communicate? How can I be more of thinking about what I bring to the table unless about what are they bringing to the table? How can I build this culture of love? I even have this tag line now for my nonprofit, Table for 1 Inc. where I say, “This is how to build healthy relationships at home, at work and at play.” That’s what we’re talking about. That’s all I’m doing whether I’m consulting a corporation or I’m working in a workshop one-to-one with people.
Tell us more about your nonprofit.
Table For 1, Inc. was founded around 2011 while I lived in Denver where I was contracted to do speaking engagements for women’s ministry for about seven months, which was great, and talked to them about healthy relationships. At that time, people were such a fan of it. My friend worked at a TV network out there, Colours Multicultural TV. My book, Table for 1, Please!, turned into a TV show for a period of time. Through that, we were talking about that this should be a nonprofit to help people. Even more people that have been, I don’t want to use the word, at risk, I would say more people haven’t had the exposure or the opportunities that maybe other audiences have. While I lived in Denver, the nonprofit launch by doing my book as a play and inviting women from domestic violence shelters to come to the play and I teamed up with a bridal shop locally.You were created to be yourself. That makes you belong, and the world needs you the best version of you, so celebrate that. Click To Tweet
I did a workshop leading up to the play with at-risk youth, so to speak, and gave them bridesmaid dresses, and things to wear to the play gala. We did a dinner play gala and it was absolutely phenomenal because we built a bridge between different communities. I always say Table For 1. What I’m realizing as I walk out the mission of healthy relationships is not about, as I said, man and woman or relationships on that but even between cultures, because that play had my main character from my book, Table For 1, Please! Her name is Brinley, which means virtuous princess, but she went to live up with the virtue part of her name. She goes through some different situations. I had four different actresses of all different cultures play that same character at different places and phases of life in monologue.
People could see that, “I’m her, she’s me. I struggled with that too.” It was a great response. The domestic violence shelter women coming up to the altar at the end and wanting to be healed from different relationships, it was amazing. Since that time, we’ve taken it and worked specifically with youth who are in foster care. We’ve done a project which we call You Are Loved. If you’re familiar with The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, we take The 5 Love Languages in a tournament to activity booths for the youth. I’m doing workshops on abstinence for them because while they’re in the foster care system, they’ll hook up with someone else in foster care out of looking for love, and then you have a baby. What I’m trying to teach them is there are other healthier ways to have love. The 5 Love Languages gives Table For 1 the opportunity to do that. For the past few years around Christmas time or Valentine’s Day, we’ll do a You Are Loved project to help those youth who are stuck in foster care to understand what real love can look like in healthy ways.
Tell us a little bit about your podcast, YOU BELONG.
I love this new podcast because all my guests like yourself when you come on, it challenges me to go back and think about everyone’s struggles with belonging on some issue. As I said, it goes beyond the oneness and healthy relationship, race, and your social status. My tagline in YOU BELONG is, “How to fit in even when you don’t.” Forget what it looks like in the boardroom when you’re like, “I’m the only one here, less female,” or forget what it looks like when, “I did the last check on the different people who are coming to the company. I’ll fight with everyone bringing their families.” Maybe you’re an empty nester now.
There are many different things we have in society that are good things but for people who haven’t experienced it yet or may not, it turns into a bad thing or people feeling like, “I don’t belong,” or “I don’t have this yet. I need to run and put this as I call it, you want this swipe to have this title.” My tagline in YOU BELONG, I say, “Remove that title, remove that label, remove that social media status, and put on your kingdom status by knowing you belong.” You belong because you’re a child of God. You belong because you were created to be Juliet. I was created to be myself. That makes you belong and the world needs you. It needs the best version of you, so celebrate that. Stop trying to fit in and know that you belong.
I gave up trying to fit in a long time ago. Where can we find you and your podcast as well, if they want to contact you, find out more about your books, what you do? Also, where they can listen to you?
Go to iTunes and check out the episode of YOU BELONG. Also, I would encourage you to go to Instagram and look for @AuthorDMichelle. You can also check me out on Twitter, @KnowYouBelong. As well as PodBean and a lot of other podcasts platforms, you can find the YOU BELONG Podcast.
Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Thank you for having me on. This was great.
- Super Brand Publishing – YouTube
- Designed for Destiny
- Table For 1, Please!
- Table For 1, Thanks!
- Table For 1 Wholeness
- YOU BELONG – Apple Podcasts
- Table For 1, Inc.
- The 5 Love Languages
- @AuthorDMichelle – Instagram
- @KnowYouBelong – Twitter
- PodBean – YOU BELONG
About DMichelle Thompson
Author D. Michelle Thompson spent 15 years’ in corporate America working for Fortune 100 companies. In June 2009, she began working full-time in her consulting firm Designed for Destiny LLC. and her 501c3 non-profit Table for 1 Inc. sharing with clients about “healthy relationships” on all sides of life.
Table for 1, Please!, Table for 1, Thanks! Table for One Wholeness, Upcoming: YOU Belong
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