Written By Molly Campbell / Professional Photography by Haylow Photo
When Michele Lurvey says she wants to help as many people as possible realize their full potential and enjoy their work, you know she means it. You know this because not only has she gone out on the precarious limb of starting her own business, We Before Me, which aims to build leadership skills in business owners and create company cultures that entire workplaces can be happy with, but because when she speaks about her work, her eyes, her voice, her body language all say, This is my passion.
“When you tell people you’re going after your passion, it’s so interesting to me how excited every single person gets, and how many people say, ‘Oh, I wish I could do that,’” Michele says. “There’s always such a buzz around this idea of doing what moves you.”
But she is quick to add that she doesn’t think people have to start their own business or go totally outside the box in order to be fulfilled or follow their dreams. Working for a good company, with people who inspire them on projects that feel meaningful to them, can be exactly the right fit, and this is where Michele’s expertise comes in, empowering both business leaders and their employees to work together to create a company culture that allows every member to shine.
Michele found her passion early on for helping people at all levels of a company become effective and fulfilled in whatever role they played within the organization. She got a degree in economics and always assumed she’d stay in the banking world, but “tripped into” corporate training.
“It was amazing,” she says. “I could really see how some managers were so much more effective than others.”
After having kids, Michele began to go down a different path. She and her husband moved to Traverse City in 2003, seeking an up north lifestyle that was more laid back than the “keeping up with the Joneses” they experienced in their native Flushing. She began working in administration, but she always knew she wanted to return to training. And now that her two older sons are in college at Central Michigan University and her daughter is in high school, the time seemed right to begin pursuing her dreams.
But she has been very busy working toward opening We Before Me for several years, earning multiple certifications while still working at her job in administration. In 2016 she approached NMC about teaching extended education classes in leadership and management training, and they let her run with it.
We Before Me offers workshops and coaching for business upper and middle management and for employees. Upcoming workshops in October and November focus on holding effective meetings, on mastering communication on tough issues like employee performance reviews, and a two-day positive leadership workshop that Michele says is perfect for people who are newer to management positions, 80% of whom tend to say they received inadequate training for their new roles.
Her coaching sessions vary depending on the particular business’ needs, but Michele says that communication is almost always key, and that, “At the crux of everything is making a connection.” Her role can be anything from discussing company culture with team members and their own roles within it, since leaders cannot carry the culture by themselves; to helping managers become the best leaders they can be; to teaching people conflict management so that, going forward, they can frame disagreements as conversations, not confrontations. She also helps facilitate communication between leadership and team members.
“The biggest aha moments for leaders often seem to come when they see that their intention does not meet their impact,” she says.
In starting We Before Me, Michele says her biggest hurdle has been self-promotion. But as she also says, getting people out of their comfort zone and doing something they never thought they could do is one of the most fulfilling things about her job. She is definitely living her own advice.
“Everybody has those mundane everyday tasks, no matter what we do for a living,” she says. “To get through that, I think we all need those days, too, where we’re in the zone, loving what we’re doing. If you can find more of that meaning in what you do, it’s huge.”
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