Melissa Cassera on creating an obsessed tribe, balance in business, and achieving success (Heart Behind Hustle #2)

Melissa Cassera has been in the marketing business for eleven years culminating in the development of her extremely popular Obsessed course. Obsessed is a yearlong course that asks a deceptively simple question: How does a brand gain an obsessed audience?

Melissa has always been obsessed with obsession.  She has ravenously consumed movies, TV and novels and believes that the best storytelling is in fiction.  One of her pet peeves is when an entrepreneur says they never read fiction.  In Melissa’s opinion the best storytelling can be found in a novel or on TV and the brands that develop an obsessive audience are almost always great storytellers.

There are a wide variety of people who purchase Melissa’s course.  Some may be just starting out in their career while others may be more established.  But the one thing they all share in common is a lack of creativity in their business.

People fail to connect with their target audience is because they are too often editing their personality for public consumption.  They’re too worried about what others may think – especially when they are creating content for the internet.  Getting harsh online feedback is never easy but it is something that you get used to.

Along with her business career, Melissa has also recently become a Hollywood screenwriter.  She began writing seriously three years ago.  Screenwriting is an extremely difficult industry to break into.  You can’t get away with shoddy work.  She focussed on producing great writing before she began networking.

Melissa loves Lifetime movies and writing a script for the network was one of her main career goals.  She achieved that by reaching out to every writer, director and producer who has every worked with Lifetime.  She was cautious not to immediately pitch her own work.  Instead, she asked them to talk about their own career journey.  She eventually connected with a long-time Lifetime director who offered her the chance to write a script.

Melissa was able to write that script in just three or four weeks and the project was quickly greenlit.  The whole project from conception to air was just nine months which is incredibly quick in a town where films can sometimes take seven years to develop.  She has since written another Lifetime movie and a television series.

Finding the time to balance all of that work can be tricky.  She tries to batch work together – one big cluster in one sitting.  She goes to her office space three times a week and just writes – no Wi-Fi and no email.  Her screenwriting is very predictable because deadlines are clearly laid out in the contract.  But sometimes the studio might demand last minute changes and that could require staying up all night.  Nevertheless, she makes sure that she never works on the weekend.

Balancing the two competing parts of her career isn’t always easy.  For the marketing business she tries to keep things simple – only taking on the the projects she is able to handle.  When things are going good that’s easy to handle – balance becomes important during the hard times.

Melissa has had to care for her severely sick pet Shih Tzu.  She can’t neglect her business and her screenwriting and she tries to stay emotionally balanced so she doesn’t stress the dog out. She also has come to recognize the importance of taking pleasure breaks and focusing on self-care.  When you take care of yourself you are better able to take care of others.

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