#88 Consistency, Joy, & Speaking From the Heart

Today's Guest: Melahni Ake

Today, I interview Melahni Ake who was born in Florida, but shortly afterwards her family moved to their hometown of Indianapolis where her grandparents had established a thriving church ministry. When her father suffered a sudden illness the family went back to Florida for his treatment, but he died quickly and they then returned to Indiana. Through all of these moves, Melahni had to learn to adapt quickly.

She attended so many different schools and had so many new beginnings, she found ways to be resilient and communicate with people in lots of different situations. Melahni points out to us that during this time as a young child, she could have felt fear and dwelled on everything she was lacking. There were a lot of unknowns for her. But she says that despite not having siblings to lean on, and after losing her father, she somehow still felt an inner need to push through. She kept learning and felt driven to find ways to be of service and continue to develop herself. Her family had done big things in this world, and she knew she had a big purpose for her own life. So she chose joy.

She joined a hockey league as the only girl, and stayed on for 12 years. Her confidence grew as she learned how to communicate with people who weren’t like her. She uses the amazing analogy that she learned to look at life like a hockey puck, visualizing where it’s going to be instead of focusing on where it is now.

Another experience she relates to us is the sheer panic she felt over being eliminated at her job at age 50. She had a meltdown, as I’m sure many people would, and ended up in the hospital. Her anxiety almost killed her, and she no longer had a plan for her life. But she has realized since then that we have to harness our purpose and create a strategy for it – a complete mindset and way of operating. Now as a coach, Melahni thinks back to those magical years during her early childhood, using similar joyful inspiration to guide others toward their own paths filled with light and fulfillment.


Melahni Ake is the founder of Everyday Leaders Professional Coaching and Consulting from Indianapolis, IN which provides leadership development resources and strategies to corporations, non-profits, and community programs to create sustainable systems for consistent growth. She’s been a Maxwell Leadership coach, speaker, and trainer since 2016, and in 2020 became the first US Affiliate WHY Coach with the WHY Institute.

Melahni believes that consistent personal growth provides the clarity and the courage to overcome any obstacle in our life. She’s founded multiple womens leadership programs including co-founding SCALE for Women helping women achieve SALES Confidence and Leadership Excellence!

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Connect with Melahni Ake

Transcript of Interview

Transcript of Interview


Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast


Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing


Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com


Episode # 88 Melahni Ake


“Consistency, Joy, & Speaking From the Heart”







(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing

Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. What I love about providing this space for people is that they get to come in and share life stories. They get to share—mostly because that’s what our topic is about—how they didn’t have a voice and what might have happened to them maybe early on in life, or maybe even after they enter the workforce. We don’t know, but we’re quite open here today to get curious about the story that’s going to come out from our guest today. She is a wonderful friend I’ve met through the internet. This is what makes internet so amazing is that you get to really connect heartfully and authentically with people around the globe. Thank you, Melahni for being my friend.


(01:29) Melahni Ake

Absolutely. This has been so much fun. We were in a contest together on a LinkedIn group. We just connected and I just adore you and appreciate you. I am honored to be here with you tonight. This is going to be fun.


(01:44) Dr. Doreen Downing

Wonderful. Yes. Well, you sent me a bio. It’s always good to get that out, so people get a little sense of even though the story might have been challenging for you look at you now. Is that okay if I could just read the bio?


(01:58) Melahni Ake



(01:59) Dr. Doreen Downing

All right. Melahni Ake is the founder of Everyday Leaders Professional Coaching and Consulting. Guess what? She’s from Indianapolis. The organization provides leadership development resources and strategies to corporations, nonprofits, and community programs to create sustainable systems for consistent growth. Those are some big words, but they’re so powerful. Sustainable systems. I always like when I’m reading, to go, “Wow, look at that.” But there’s more and more and more. She’s been a Maxwell leadership coach, speaker, and trainer since 2016. In 2020, became the first US-affiliate Why coach with the Why Institute. Melahni believes that consistent personal growth provides the clarity and the courage of the— There’s the words again, clarity. I always like to emphasize that people pay attention. This is growth provides the clarity and the courage to overcome any obstacle in our life. Ah, one more. I have to take a big breath because you are amazing. How much we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m sure all of this is from personal learning. You didn’t just pop out this way. One more thing I want to say before we get on with our show today. She’s found in multiple women’s leadership programs, including and co-founding SCALE for Women, helping women achieve sales, confidence, and leadership excellence. That was a full mouthful, but again, I feel like it’s only so beautifully written because of your life experience.


(04:01) Melahni Ake

Thank you. It’s been a journey. It’s absolutely been a journey. You have to learn all those lessons to get you where you really need to get clear. That’s what helps you get that courage and so, I love to share the story because I think a lot of people can identify with the things that I’ve gone through, the challenges that I’ve had in my own life and career and getting eliminated at 50 years old. That was one of the big things in corporate America that I always felt like, “Oh, gosh.” Well, that happened to me. It did, so you have to always be prepared.


(04:41) Dr. Doreen Downing

Well, I always like to, especially for people from other states, I’d like to go back to early history just to get a sense of where were you born into a family. Were you the oldest or the youngest, or middle child? Just give us a little brief snapshot of where that was.


(05:02) Melahni Ake

Yep. I was born. I’m an only child actually, in I was born in Orlando, so home of Disney World. Shortly after I was born, my family moved to Indianapolis where my great grandparents had established an evangelistic center. Back in the day, it was a tabernacle, nursing home, community center, school. It was one of a kind in the day, and it was right here about three miles from where I live today. It developed into quite an establishment and John Maxwell’s father actually preached with my great grandfather at this tabernacle. There’s a lot of history in my DNA about where I am today in connecting those dots like Steve Jobs says. That’s where it started. My influence continued to just know that I was really developed to be a community advocate, community leader, and a community developer. That’s really the history there. Then my father passed away when I was five. He was treated from a developing cough. Then he thought he pulled a muscle and ended up at Stanford for treatment and found out that he had lung cancer. He died within four months of being diagnosed. Then we shortly moved to Florida, where he passed away and then back to Indianapolis. When I think about my history, Doreen, think about the first 11 years of my life, ten years of my life, nine years of my life, I went to seven schools, three kindergartens. California is where I started in Palo Alto, close to where you are, then Orlando, and then Indianapolis. Being able to adapt to change and being able to communicate with people from different areas that I didn’t know and I wasn’t familiar with, I had to find the confidence to be able to survive. I think it taught me a lot.


(07:17) Dr. Doreen Downing

Oh, it had to, and I’m just getting the sense of here’s this bright little character going into a new environment and learning how new environments work, because you talk about going into corporations, and you’re a consultant. I think that partly what skill it takes is being able to go into a room and not know anybody and figure things out pretty quickly, either how to fit in, or in your case now in what you’re doing in consulting is figuring out how to help. I’m not sure at five years old you were figuring out how to help. But you sure were developing some ease with entering into an unfamiliar environments.


(08:05) Melahni Ake

I think about— You don’t really understand how you are equipped through your lifetime. It’s the experiences that allow you to really gain that confidence. Yet, there’s choices. We all talk about choices as coaches, and it could have gone a really negative way for me. I could have felt fear. I could have felt doubt. I could have felt a lot of things that I didn’t have family, I didn’t have brothers and sisters to guide me or mentor me. Yet I had something inside that knew I had to show up. I had to learn and I had to serve. I think that was a lot of my family influence. Watching them serve our community, I just knew that there was something more within me that I needed to fulfill. I needed to find what that was. I kept searching for it. I’m still searching for it but trying to do a better job my whole life in seeing what makes an impact. Then learning how to how to show up and do that.


(09:14) Dr. Doreen Downing

Both seeing what makes an impact but then learning how to do what it takes. What I just also heard and saw in you is this being the environment around you. You were surrounded by what feels like not a negative environment. I’m thinking that being an only child you don’t have other siblings to learn from and your father is gone early in life and so that there’s a void around you is what might have been but it wasn’t. It was good people. It sounds like good messages were being given to you. But I also heard one other thing, and that was that there was something inside of you, like some determination, or some curiosity, or destiny was waiting for you. It was just so eager to step into it early on.


(10:15) Melahni Ake

When I was seven years old, there used to be little flyers, pamphlets that would come home from school on Fridays. One week, I brought a flyer home and it said, “Register for hockey.” Now, I don’t know why that stood out, but my mom and I—now it’s just she and I at seven years old—and she says, “Do you want to go?” That Saturday morning, we went over to the hockey rink, ice hockey, and signed me up. It was an all-boys league. I played in that league for 12 years as the only girl, just from one piece of paper that just said, “It’s open registration.” My mother never stopped me from doing something that she thought, “If it’s possible, you should try it.” I really give her a lot of credit, because I wouldn’t have been able to figure out the resources. She was a single parent, and hockey is an expensive sport. We figured out how to get the used equipment. I learned to skate. We figured out how to get to practices twice a week and on Saturdays for games and travel. It was an amazing experience that gave me a lot of confidence of how to socialize with people that weren’t like me. None of these boys were like me. Yet I didn’t have any fear about that. I enjoyed it. I loved learning, and hockey taught me the strategy behind looking at where the puck is going to be, instead of where it is. I just think there are so many things that were already in my DNA. Life just led me down the path to give me those resources to constantly build that other level of confidence up. You don’t know what you’re learning until you’ve learned it. You look back and say, “Wow, I’m so glad that that happened.” Because it really gave me another perspective. There’s a lot of people that I work with, Doreen. Coach, and women, and men that are having problems that are moving through work transitions, or life transitions. Sometimes it was really hard as I started coaching to get to the point where they were and feeling that fear, that real fear that they have.


(12:48) Melahni Ake

You talk about speaking fear. People have genuine fear where it shuts your body down. We know this. I don’t know. I’ve experienced that one time, when I was eliminated from my job at 50 years old and didn’t have a plan. The rest of my life, I think I have just thrived in it. I have stepped in for the challenge. I looked for the opportunity, and never backed down because I took control over it. Yet when that one time when I was eliminated, I felt the panic of I don’t know what decision to make. I don’t know what to do next. I feel responsible. That put me in the hospital. It literally put me in the hospital with a blood pressure of 87 over 40 thinking I was going to die. It was the physiological response to stress, and fear, and anxiety that people go through, and until you go through it, you don’t realize how real it is. That can cause someone to make decisions that they aren’t aware of, that they don’t want to make that they have to grow through or change, or they can have a heart attack. The physical stress is real when you have that panic situation. I really didn’t appreciate that until I went through it. I realized you can be a conqueror and you can feel like you’re conquering the world and that you have a plan yet when you don’t have the ability to have everything in order the way you see it or the way you want it to be that can really kill you unless you have a strategy for it.


(14:38) Dr. Doreen Downing

Strategy came from— One of the lessons early on with hockey is what you’re talking about that lesson that you don’t know what you’re learning until you’ve learned it. There’s something I just connected. There are dots I guess you might say. You’re talking about having more, from my guess, you have more initial confidence than a lot of people that I’ve talked to. You haven’t had the fear that holds you back for years. You just go forward, which is in your DNA and in your character structure. But I’m thinking that when it’s just a thought that when somebody has such tremendous loss so early in life, sometimes it could be debilitating. Sometimes it compels somebody to learn some things like, “I got to learn how to make it through the rest of my life,” or, “I’ve got to learn how to survive tomorrow without the kind of life I had before.” It’s like life is totally different. Now, I have to move forward. It just made me appreciate how confidence— I don’t think you went day one after your father died, I am so confident, it’s just like, I need to do something here. Is that true?


(16:08) Melahni Ake

I just always felt— I think because there was so much love in our house. I can remember we had monkeys. We grew grapes. We had fun. He had motorcycles. Just those first five years, most of the time you think well, what do you remember before the age of five. I have a lot of memories. I cherish those. I think that’s what I want to bring when I see people that are sad about some silly thing. We all get upset about silly things, but I think you need to have joy in your heart. You need to find that joy, wherever that is, wherever that was, you need to lean on that because it doesn’t last forever.


(16:54) Dr. Doreen Downing

There you go. It doesn’t last forever. It’s something that people who are listening could take from somebody who has learned that at five years old. It doesn’t last forever, but you got a lot of goodies early on, which is great. I want to talk a little bit about voice through some of what you’ve been sharing so far. When you think back around— I know you’re talking about confidence, and this challenge that you love to face and move towards. But how do you integrate the thought of voice in there, your own voice?


(17:39) Melahni Ake

That’s a great question, Doreen. I think you have to understand where you want to be first. It’s the clarity that comes from doing things in your life to understand that it’s your voice, and not someone else’s. A lot of people that I coach and that I talked to say, Well, I’m doing this because, or I am expected to do this because or I have responsibilities to do this, because and I think, again, just turning back to the way that I was raised and the things that I was around in my environment that I learned to speak up for myself. Being an only child, I learned that I didn’t have other influences. When I had to make decisions of the friends that I hung around, I knew what was right or wrong, so I stood up for myself. I stood up for the beliefs of the consequences. I’m a generation X-er. There were lots of things that we— We didn’t have access to the internet. Yet, when your friends asked you to do something you knew was that going to be a consequence, and did I want to suffer the consequences? So, you made choices. I look back and think, people that know me, I haven’t changed since I was little. I haven’t changed my personality. I haven’t changed my hairstyle. I’m the same person I have always been. A lot of people are like that. But I think that gives you confidence to not being able, not having to say, Well, I’m this person at work, and I’m this person at home and I’m this person in front of customers, and I’m this person with my friends. I am the same consistent person, no matter if I’m asleep and I just woke up in the morning, or I have been on a long speaking engagement or I’m traveling across the world on a vacation. This is what you get. I don’t change. I think that makes a difference because you don’t have to think about what does your character show up as and what’s your integrity and who do you believe you are. I really am grounded and I understand what makes me happy. I understand what to stay away from. I understand the toxic people that really affect my mood and my attitude. I’ve learned some strategies on how to remove those people from my life. Because you have to.


(20:14) Dr. Doreen Downing

You’ve probably had to use your voice as one of your strategies. You don’t just shut the door and don’t open it, and people are standing out there, “Where’d she go? What happened?” I’m coming back to using your voice in a way that is a strategy. Is that something that you can talk about? This voice?


(20:44) Melahni Ake

I think using your voice and being able to have the right communication, being able to use the right words, having the right inflection. When I coached medical sales device teams all over the world, it was how do you use the right language to get the right behaviors or the right sales. If you want to have the right conversation for sales confidence, you have to use the right language, right voice, inflection, the right questions. That’ll come through though. If you’re not confident in what you’re saying, and in your showing up as yourself, if you’re trying to imitate someone else, or just memorize a script to get something done on a checklist, or have a difficult conversation, you cannot do that if it’s not coming from your heart. Knowing yourself and how you really expect the outcome and what you do see as the outcome, it can help you with that. That speech, that confidence, that communication, so much better and stronger. You can see when someone walks into a room. If they have that confidence, that power, and they come in and say, “Hi, I’m really excited to be here,” versus, “Hi, I’m really excited to be here.” You respond to people differently. It matters that you can come from your heart and bring it out to people so that they can feel you. Your voice is your heart. It’s just a language.


(22:21) Dr. Doreen Downing

That is so profound. Your heart has a voice and it has a language. I think that’s something that I’ll be taking with me today in listening to you. I’m also really getting that you as a little girl going through your early years and through high school and into the life that you’ve created for you. You have been consistently yourself. It doesn’t feel like you had to go through some major transformation to come out and find your voice. You just had to continue being supported for who you were, what you were. Also, now it feels like I want to just move into a little bit more, because you have been showing us the coach you are and what you look for and how you help people be more of who they can be. In a way, yes, I’m working with people to find their voice because they held themselves back and to find the confidence. Like you said, it’s more about being who you truly are. You have to know who you truly are. That is what I think is a message that I’m taking today.


(23:41) Melahni Ake

You just have to stay so focused or worrying. Some people may say, oh, that selfish thinking about yourself. Yet personal growth and personal development, it really changes you. It gives you that clarity. It’s not the noise of what marketing companies think you should be or what your family tells you should be or what your best friend is going out and achieving. It doesn’t hold that worry or that fear or that stress over your head. You just go. I’m competing with myself. I know that I need to be better. I need to improve every day. You hold that bar really close. You say, “Am I impacting?” That’s how I gauge myself. How many more lives can I impact today? Can I make them feel better about themselves, better about the work that they do, better about the communication and the teams that they’re building, better about the strategy that they’re using in their community to make it a better place. That’s what I care about. That’s what my family cared about for years. I know this is my purpose and I’m in alignment with where I am and what God really created me to do. It feels just right, and when you get that right, it fits like a glove. You don’t have to question. When you say yes to something, I know it’s 100% in my heart to show up and do.


(25:10) Dr. Doreen Downing

Well, total alignment, that’s what you’re talking about head heart, get all of it together. I have something that I call essence appreciation when I work with people and looking for what is that quality inside of people because it’s usually different. I do know that everybody has some jewel that radiates outward. It’s like a beautiful being inside of everyone. I see that in you, and I hear it in your voice. There’s a resonance of joy. I don’t know, Melahni, just like joy to be alive.


(25:48) Melahni Ake

I am joyful all the time. Not every day, not when we didn’t have hot water. It just matters. Your attitude of how you see the world is really important. I think that the work that you do, Doreen, is to help people with that confidence. That’s where it starts. If people can gain that in their life, and they can just settle in and not be nervous about what they are getting ready to do to communicate, either a sales pitch to a big medical device company or a researcher that they’ve never met. It’s always that first engagement. People say in the first seven seconds, people make a decision about whether they can trust you, whether they like you, whether they want to have a conversation with you. If you don’t know what to say, or you’re looking down, or you don’t know how to enter a room that you’re not familiar with, that’s critical to the success in your life. Those little things, they matter.


(26:57) Dr. Doreen Downing

I was going to ask you to say a few last words, but those are wonderful last words. The image I have is, and what I hope listeners will take right now, is that entering any place, any environment, if your heart has opened, there’s bright energy as you move into a new arena, then that’s so attractive. You could call it confidence. I still think you could be nervous and have the feel that your heart is leading you into any situation.


(27:41) Melahni Ake

You get butterflies. When I get asked to speak Doreen, I was asked to step in for the governor’s wife this year at a luncheon. She was sick. At the last moment on the way to the event, I received a phone call. They said, “Could you step in today?” I had no idea was coming to attend the lunch. The whole topic was living your passion. I didn’t have to think about it. I’ve spoken a lot to groups. It was an opportunity for me to take what was in my heart for 20 minutes in front of a 130 women and provide this keynote luncheon. It filled my heart more than you’ll ever know. That was the pivotal point this year for me to have that opportunity. Yet I just showed up. I didn’t say no. I was excited, not nervous. I knew that if I was consistent in my character, I could deliver a message that I wanted other people to learn. That’s what I did. I just keep doing that. It’s not easy. I just keep doing it, and it keeps getting clearer. What do I need to say? Who’s my audience? What can they take away from it? It’s just been a blessing. It’s been a blessing. If I would stand back in the crowd, thinking that I really am an introvert. I really would prefer to be in the back of the room listening. Yet when I’ve stepped up and showed up, I’ve gotten so much more fulfillment in my life. That’s what I want to encourage your listeners to do. Just learn how to stand up and show up.


(29:22) Dr. Doreen Downing

Great last words: “Stand up and show up and speak from your heart.” Thank you so much, Melahni. I’ll have in the show notes how they could contact you but maybe just one quick, is it your email or what would be the easiest way?


(29:40) Melahni Ake

You can go to my website, everydayleaders.com because we build better leaders every day.



Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.